CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 5: Act 4: Scene 15 Review

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Plot: After wrestling it away from the Huntsman and Huntsgirl, Jake is tasked with protecting a scarab beetle that has the power to bring the dead back to life.

Meanwhile, he tries to get the attention of Rose, but finds that she’s preoccupied with an upcoming play about Antony and Cleopatra. In order to get closer to Rose, Jake decides to try out for the role of Antony.

Back with Huntsman and Huntsgirl, doubts begin to form in Huntsgirl’s mind about pursuing the beetle any further, believing the dragons probably already sent it back to Egypt. Huntsman refuses to give up the mission, stating it is their destiny to hunt down all dragons and kill them. Not only that, but the beetle is vital to their clan’s future.

He brings Huntsgirl down to the mysterious catacombs where he reveals the tombs of the past fallen Huntsclan members. He plans on using the beetle to bring them all back to life, creating a new army of Huntsclan warriors and wiping out dragons for good.

The next day, Jake lands himself the part of Antony, and he and Rose decide to practice their lines at his grandpa’s shop that night. She suggests practicing the kissing scene since it’s so vital to the play, but Jake, having never kissed a girl before, starts panicking and awkwardly babbling his way through the conversation. His state of panic leads him to accidentally releasing the beetle.

Jake tries to play it cool at school and gets another rehearsal date with Rose, this time at her house, even though she was reluctant to let Jake come over.

That night, Jake is amazed to discover that Rose lives in a massive castle-like mansion with her uncle. They’re about to rehearse the kiss when Rose suddenly freaks out. Her uncle has arrived home. She quickly hides Jake under the table before discretely throwing him out, citing that her uncle is very strict and doesn’t allow visitors. However, Jake lost the beetle again during the chaos after it had sneaked into his backpack.

Jake decides to bring Rose to Trixie’s house to rehearse. They prepare for the kiss scene again, but they both notice the scarab beetle fly out the window. Not wanting to alert the other of their secret identities, they make up a few excuses to quickly rush out and fight over the beetle. After the fight is over, the Huntsman arrives and takes the beetle for himself, revealing his plan to Jake.

Back at home, Fu Dog explains that the Huntsman is probably planning on using the beetle for a spell that brings dead people back to life. Under the light of the full moon, the Huntsman can indeed bring his ancestors back to life – and the moon just happens to be full tonight, the night of the play.

Later, with the help of Spud, Jake learns the location of the tomb of the Huntsclan. He, Grandpa and Fu head there to stop the resurrection, but they’re too late. Several Huntsclan members have been revived, but Fu Dog manages to grab the beetle to prevent any more from coming back.

Jake grabs the spell book and burns it, causing the revived Huntsclan members to die once more. The struggle continues between the Huntsman, Huntsgirl and the dragons, with Huntsgirl accidentally getting her leg injured in the process. Huntsman takes Huntsgirl and leaves, and Jake has just enough time to make it back to the play for Act 4 Scene 15, the big kiss, which is a good thing because without Jake and Rose, the play has been a disaster. Spud and Trixie have had to take the reigns, and it’s becoming an embarrassing display.

Jake makes it in time, but is shocked to see Spud taking over the role of Cleopatra. Rose couldn’t make it back in time, and Trixie was being so obnoxious that they yanked her. He’s forced to kiss Spud, much to his disgust.

The following day, Jake meets back up with Rose who apologizes for missing the play, citing that she got a sprained ankle at a family event. Jake is slightly suspicious as the injury seems very similar to the one Huntsgirl got, but brushes it off and finally asks Rose out on a real date.

She agrees, much to Jake’s delight.

Breakdown:

– Huntsman has a robot in his fireplace specifically designed to take off his glove to reveal his dragon birthmark? Talk about disposable income.

– What is with the trope of auditions having a string of complete idiots? I’ve been to plenty of auditions for school stuff before. They’re never entertaining. It’s just people reading the same lines over and over and being varying degrees of bad to okay.

– It’s kinda funny that Jake tries to be this smooth ladies man ‘mack-daddy’ but the instant Rose mentions practicing the kissing scene, he becomes a complete doof. Quite a realistic portrayal of a 14-year-old boy.

– I appreciate that Fu Dog is supportive about Jake being nervous about his first kiss.

– Jake: “Seriously, my church isn’t this big!” I never knew Jake was religious. That seems….a little…strange considering the various mythos that are real in this series. How does that work?

– Nice Darth Vader reference when Huntsman puts his helmet on.

– Of course the spell can only be done on the night of a full moon, of course the full moon’s that night and OF COURSE the full moon is on the night of the play.

– Why is Jake acting like, as long as he comes in before Act 4 Scene 15 (the kiss) that he’ll still be able to do it? Bringing in an entirely new actor in the middle, or moreso end, of the play for no reason is pretty stupid even for a junior high play. Not to mention, it’s a little insulting to the understudy to bail until you decide to show up then take the best scene in the play all for yourself.

– Why would they not have an understudy for Cleopatra? Why did the woman running this play not notice until Spud was out there doing both roles?

– I love how the cover of the Huntsman’s ancient spell book is literally just a picture of a skull and the word ‘Spells’

– Why would getting the beetle out of the moonlight not stop the Huntzombies but destroying the spell book does?

– They don’t actually have the balls to show the Jake/Spud kiss, but they do let you hear the audience gasping in response. I think they’ll probably skip the episode where the parents’ groups whine about the gayness.

– Macy Gray was in this episode!?! The hell?! She played the woman who was running the play and Trixie’s grandma. Two extremely small bit parts. Wow. Talk about a wasted cameo.

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This episode was fairly good but really, really cliché. Like, appallingly cliché. The school play kiss, the nearly missing the play, the nervousness because the school play kiss is a first kiss, the trying to keep a double life a secret while trying to do two really important things on both sides, the school play falling to pieces because the leads are missing etc. It’s all really old hat.

The aspect of bringing the Huntsclan back to life was interesting, but the payoff was really weak. The ones that did get brought back were no more powerful than any other brainless lackey, and they all had the same character design. They were also beaten in a predictable and easy manner. Not to mention that it was ridiculously easy to find the Huntsclan’s tomb. Spud found it through a few minutes of searching on the Internet…..SPUD found it.

I like that Jake and Rose’s relationship isn’t one of those annoying super-slow burns and that the development is realistic. It’s also nice that they’re allowing us to see Rose’s double life as Huntsgirl. It puts the audience in a unique position of connecting with her as well as Jake while knowing, and dreading, that their happy little romance will likely come crashing down once he finds out the truth.

Many similar shows would have the audience in the dark just as much as Jake is, and the big reveal would come later. This arrangement is much better.

………………….Seriously, Macy Gray was in this episode!


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Delta State

Plot: Four amnesiac twenty-somethings with psychic powers are recruited to protect the world from fellow psychic beings called Rifters. The Rifters originate from the mysterious dream-like realm called the Delta State, and their main intent is to control the minds of everyone in the world. The four have no choice but to accept this dangerous task as it is their best chance at remembering their pasts.

Breakdown: This is one of those shows where I find myself struggling to discuss it properly.

Let’s start with the basics. Delta State is a show based on a (never released) comic book of the same name by Douglas Gayeton. It was produced by Nelvana and released by Teletoons on Canadian television in 2004, and it has the honor of being the first ever fully rotoscoped animated TV series.

The art style really makes it stand out from other animated TV shows I’ve covered. I’ve seen numerous fully rotoscoped animated movies and short films, but they typically do this to gain a more realistic appearance while also taking advantage of the creative benefits that come with animation.

Rotoscoping itself is largely viewed as a lazy form of animating since you’re literally taking frames of live action footage and tracing over them, but I do believe this form of animation was the right way to go for this specific series.

Delta State has a very….college-esque kind of vibe to it. That makes sense considering that the characters are all in their early twenties, live together and basically act like college students. Not to mention the fact that doing a Google search on this title results in mostly colleges.

The show also doesn’t have tons of background music and utilizes natural idle conversations quite well. It doesn’t feel like a show where the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the four main characters, but by the end you start feeling the stakes.

The reason rotoscoping works well for Delta State is because of the Delta State. Technically, all of their psychic powers could be done in live-action just fine. Claire has the power of remote viewing, which can easily be done with practical effects. Martin is a telepath, which is done even more easily since no effects are needed. Philip has the power of psychometry, which allows him to have visions of past events related to items, which can also be done fairly easily with editing. Finally, Luna has precognition, which can also be done easily with editing.

The Delta State, however, is meant to be a dream-like realm – and in dreams anything can happen. In addition, like lucid dreams, various aspects of the world can be controlled with enough focus and effort. In fact, the name Delta State comes from the stage of deep sleep where delta waves develop. The Delta State sequences obviously benefit from being animated because animation allows you the same creative freedom that are necessary for dreams.

Additionally, we can gain a better understanding of how surreal or off this realm is considering that everything else is rotoscoped realistically. It’s just a normal city with normal people. The main four don’t even look like anything special. Since it’s rotoscoped and not live-action, we’re not distracted by the contrast of the live action versus the animation. It could have been fully animated as well, but then we would have lost the more realistic feeling the show is going for.

This is truly one instance where I really think full rotoscoping was the absolute best option to present the exact experience that the creators were going for.

…….But that’s not to say it’s perfect.

While the rotoscoping job was done well enough, I don’t care much for the character designs. The facial features of the people are done in such a craggy manner. In a way, it does help it stand out even more, but it’s just flatout ugly, especially the ‘noses,’ I don’t know why the noses are almost always just triangles. It baffles me. Why are they just triangles? It’s so distracting.

For everything else, I’m not really bothered by the craggyness. It gives it more of a cartoon/comic book style, and I like that. But the faces are just really….no. Martin in particular has it bad because not only does his face suffer like everyone else’s but his hair is just an anomaly. I get that it’s supposed to be spiky white hair or frosted tips, but it comes off more like his hair is Elmer’s glue, they stuck it to a wall, pulled him off when it was half dry and left it like that.

There is a sense of emptiness to the city as well, which is strange. There just aren’t that many people around. It’s understandable, because rotoscoping that many people would be a pain in the ass and expensive, but it kinda loses the realistic feeling if we’re in the heart of downtown and there are barely a handful of people here and there. Most of the time it really feels like only the most necessary people even exist in the city.

Speaking of characters, it’s also a bit difficult to get a grasp on the main four at this point. Admittedly, this first episode is a part one, so maybe the second part will allow me to get a better idea of the true personalities of each character, but so far the only one I feel I have a decent idea about is Philip. He’s a pretty nice and laid back guy who loves books. He’s also an awkward but not fully shy dude that I could definitely see myself hanging out with.

Martin seems like the looser cannon of the two guys in the group. He’s also seen flirting with Luna and saying he has a connection to her, which may or may not be BS, I dunno.

Claire is a responsible person, but not all that proactive. When Luna runs off near the end, she doesn’t do much to stop her, and when Martin confronts her about why she didn’t do more to stop her she says she was waiting for him….which….huh?

Luna is the most emotional of the group. She doesn’t care for Martin invading her privacy by reading her mind, which is totally understandable, but she also, as I mentioned, runs away near the end because she can’t take the premonitions or the mission of the Delta State anymore. This is probably fine, but I feel like it’s way early in the show for someone to be running off because they can’t take the pressure anymore.

It’s like how I felt it was weird that the first episode of Teen Titans starts with Cyborg leaving the team because he’s fed up with Robin. Stuff like that needs to be built up.

Then there’s Bodie, who was only in this episode for a short while. Bodie is their handler/mentor figure. He knows about the Delta State, does…stuff related to it, and is the one who recruited them to begin with. He seems pretty okay for now. He’s somewhat mysterious and a bit rough around the edges, but he’s not setting off alarm bells for me yet.

In regards to the story, they’ve set things up pretty well so far. Them all having amnesia of their entire lives up until two months prior to the start of the series is pretty interesting, and them all having various psychic powers instead of the same set is cool. It makes all of the characters necessary in some way or another instead of having one or two characters who outshine the whole group. I especially like how they use their powers in creative ways to achieve their goals. For instance, Claire can sense/see things psychically, and in this episode she learns she can do that over the phone because she needs to covertly see inside of a bookstore.

The idea of the Delta State is fascinating. It’s a dream-like state clearly linked to their subconsciouses, but it’s also an entirely different realm that mirrors our own world while also not. They can see little clues to their pasts throughout the Delta State, but they’re typically too busy dealing with Rifters to really focus on these little flashes of memories.

Sadly, so far, the Rifters only seem like evil psychics so far, but, again, maybe that will be better fleshed out in part two.

In this episode, they’re tracking a Rifter named Karla who initially appears to Philip at the bookstore during a book signing. They’re alone in the store because the author suddenly left due to unknown circumstances and apparently the people who work in the store don’t exist and other customers never visit. They flirt for a while, but she decides to leave since she has prior engagements. When she gives her signed book to him as a gift, he’s able to psychically see events connected to the book – the most recent of which being the author of the book running away from the store after being touched by Karla, seemingly being spooked by her doing something to him psychically.

The group, sans Luna, go off into the Delta State to investigate. They’re caught by Karla and her cronies, however. Back in the real world, Brodie and Luna start experiencing, I’d call them, glitches in the fabric of reality because of disturbances in the Delta State. Luna decides to set aside her unease about their situation and head off after them. She’s somehow able to fight off Karla’s goons quite easily, but they’re confronted by the image from a vision Luna had earlier, which was of a car approaching her. What she didn’t initially see, however, was that the person driving the car was her in the past. This revelation is where the episode ends.

As a whole, this is a perfectly good introduction to the show, especially for a part one.

I’m disappointed that it seems like this show has been largely lost to time. It’s not streaming anywhere, there are barely any articles or discussion pieces about it – it’s just kinda drifting in a void. It is on DVD, but only the first ‘season’ (I say that because there’s only one season and 26 episodes. I guess they split up the first season and called it two seasons?) and barely anyone has bought it. As of right now, the first DVD set of it on Amazon has only nine reviews, though a bulk of them are very good. Also, the description barely has anything about the DVD set like…how many episodes it has, what other features are on it, what quality it’s in, etc.

I had to do a Google search just to find what the back cover of the DVD set looks like. It has 13 episodes, a ‘The Making of Delta State’ featurette, and electronic collectible cards.

Verdict:

Delta State seems like a very cool show to me so far. Maybe not masterpiece material, but I do strongly believe that I’ll have an enjoyable ride watching the rest of the series. From the sparse amount of people I’ve seen who have watched the entire show, it is indeed a good one with a strong finale, so I look forward to sharing more of this show in the future to hopefully draw more attention to this largely ignored, but interesting and well made, series.


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AVAHS – A Scooby-Doo! Christmas Review

Plot: Scooby and the gang wind up in Winter Hollow for Christmas only to find that the place has been terrorized for years by the Headless Snowman. Each Christmas, the townsfolk are driven out of their homes by the monster, causing most of them to despise Christmas. Can Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma and Daphne figure out who the Headless Snowman really is and melt him for good?

Breakdown: What’s New Scooby-Doo? was definitely one of the more popular branches of the Scooby-Doo franchise tree. I watched it quite a bit when it was on, especially enjoying its awesome theme song, but I never remembered it having a Christmas special.

A Scooby-Doo! Christmas is an enjoyable but overall fairly forgettable Christmas special. Story-wise, it doesn’t do anything to stand out from any other Scooby-Doo episode outside of mentions of Christmas, the very ending where they give gifts and stand around the Christmas tree, and a song or two.

A reviewer on IMDB said the mystery was way too easy, but I kinda disagree. I really thought it was the sheriff until they pointed out that the sheriff was acting suspicious, which is usually an indicator that they’re a red herring. I will agree with that reviewer in saying that the absolute ending was bunk, though.

Spoiler warning, even though this episode is literally turning 20 years old next year.

The culprit was a local professor, Higginson, whose great-grandfather was robbed by a man named Blackjack Brody who ended up dying in a snowman after being chased by an angry mob who were tired of being robbed by him. How did he end up in the snowman? I dunno, but it created a legend of a Headless Snowman. The professor’s great-grandfather being robbed of all his gold ruined Christmas forever….somehow. I guess that would make Christmasses difficult because they’d be rich otherwise, but he just ended up hating Christmas for some reason.

This isn’t even his dad he’s talking about. It’s his great-grandfather. Did they never recover enough financially for Christmasses to be fun anymore? Did their family just continue to be poor for all time? That can’t be true because the culprit is literally a professor. He has to have SOME money, I assume. Getting degrees ain’t cheap. He did get robbed on Christmas eve, but it’s not like anyone died. Is it really just a family perpetually mourning their lost ultra-wealth even when the man who robbed their ancestor is long since dead?

Using the Headless Snowman legend as a cover (by the way, the snowman’s not really headless. He can just take his head off and put it back on.), the professor created what is quite possibly one of the most implausible monster….I guess I’ll go with ‘robots’ to ever grace Scooby-Doo.

The Headless Snowman is legitimately made of snow from top to bottom. It has a cone-like…cockpit? in the center to allow the professor to manually control it. All of it. Every single part of it. It’s exactly like it’s living. The Headless Snowman can even detach his head and the head will still make noise and be perfectly animated. All of it is made of and connected by snow. I have no idea whatsoever how this thing works.

So the professor gets caught, his snowman melted, and he laments that he looked for his great-grandfather’s gold in the town every Christmas season by tormenting the townsfolk and….destroying shit. Because that’s definitely the most logical approach to that. Fred and Velma deduce that Brody hid the gold he stole in his home’s fireplace, masked as the bricks in his chimney.

Coincidentally enough, Brody’s old home was one of the homes the professor destroyed earlier that day, which left the chimney bricks in a pile of rubble. The professor accepts his jail-y fate, but, in a show of Christmas spirit, the town not only refuses to arrest him, but they also let him keep the damn gold.

Look, that’s real nice and everything, Merry Christmas and all, but this guy gets no sympathy from me. Did he even know his great-grandfather? This isn’t a matter of justice because the town actually tried to help his great-grandfather back then, and kinda succeeded considering Brody died as a result of trying to run from them. He just wants the gold for himself, making off like it’s in honor of his great-grandfather.

He tormented this whole town, destroying buildings and homes, traumatizing children and ruining the holidays of so many families for many years, AND he nearly got Shaggy and Scooby killed when they fell into a freezing cold pond because of him.

To his credit, he does share the gold with the town to help make amends, but I still don’t think that’s enough. He still gets to keep however much he wants, and he still gets no jail time.

Bear in mind, most of what he did was completely pointless. There was no point in scaring the townsfolk, chasing people all over and destroying people’s homes. Why would he think the gold would be literally anywhere else but in Brody’s old house? Why would he not be able to find out which house was Brody’s house? They seemed to know exactly which house it was after they deduced that the gold bricks were used as regular bricks. Some professor you are.

Also, I refuse to believe that he can completely destroy a chimney with his bare…..snowman….sticks…and not reveal the gold when gently rubbing it reveals the gold.

All in all, while the professor’s motives and ridiculous beyond reason plans were mind-boggling to say the least, this was a perfectly fine Christmas special. It’s also quite star-studded, featuring the voices of Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) as the young Tommy, Kathy Kinney of The Drew Carey Show as the Sheriff, Peter Scolari as Professor Higginson, Jim Belushi as Asa, whom I didn’t even remember, and frickin’ Mark Hamill as Tommy’s dad. And we also can’t forget the amazing Casey Kasem as Shaggy, Mindy Cohn as Velma, Frank Welker as Fred and Gret DeLisle as Daphne.

If you’re in the mood for Scooby and Christmas, this is a decent enough special. I just wish it either had more of an overall focus on Christmas or a better resolution/motive.


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AVAHS – Yogi’s First Christmas Review

Plot: Yogi bear and Boo-Boo always miss Christmas because they’re hibernating all winter, but this year they awaken just in time to catch some Christmas fun.

Breakdown: You don’t hear a lot of people talk about ol’ Yogi Bear anymore. Last I heard anyone mention him was when that live action Yogi movie came out several years ago and uh….we don’t talk about that either.

Being fair, they did just release that new Jellystone! cartoon. I’ve heard okay things about that, but I haven’t really felt compelled to watch it yet.

I used to really love Yogi Bear. I had a Boo-Boo beanie baby, and, as a child, I spent a few weeks in a Jellystone Park camp and had quite a nice time.

That being said, I can’t remember ever watching this movie as a kid. It’s a nice enough Christmas movie with a lot of heart and some genuinely funny moments. I think its one weak spot, however, is its length. It just can’t justify having a nearly hour and forty minute runtime. It only barely (BEARLY hahaha) has a story, and in order to fill the runtime, they repeat the same shtick over and over.

The plot is that the ranger, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Doggie Daddy and Augie are enjoying their Christmas up at the Jellystone lodge, but because of the mysterious and frightening events that plagued the previous Christmas parties, this might be their last Christmas at the lodge. Mrs. Throckmorton, the owner, intends on selling the lodge after this year’s Christmas party, so everyone tries their best to butter her up to change her mind.

Yogi and Boo-Boo are suddenly woken up out of hibernation by the festivities and join the fun, celebrating their first ever Christmas since they usually miss every Christmas while they’re sleeping.

Accompanying Mrs. Throckmorton is her miserable little shit of a nephew, Shively, who despises Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid, especially a spoiled rich kid, just hate Christmas in a classic cartoon. I mean, it’s common for little kids to be obsessed with presents on Christmas, but this kid flatout hates everything about Christmas and wants nothing to do with it, which just makes me wonder why he’s even on this Christmas trip with his aunt.

Snively is a horrible little gremlin to everyone. He’s so terrible that he even attempts murder on more than one occasion. When Daddie Doggy is in the ice fishing shanty, Shively tries to push it into a open spot of water so he’ll drown all because he caught a bigger fish than he did. Later, he tries to kill Cindy and Boo-Boo by pushing their snowmachine onto a powerful geyser while they’re sleeping. He also unhooks Yogi’s skis from his feet right as he’s about to do a ski jump. The little kid’s a demon.

There’s a second antagonist named Herman the Hermit. He lives on Jellystone park grounds, somehow (that can’t be legal, can it?) and he also hates Christmas because the ruckus caused by the Christmas party at the lodge bothers him. He’s been playing pranks on the partygoers every year, pretending to be monsters and other supernatural creatures, in an effort to Scooby-Doo them away.

You’d think he’d be the main antagonist, but he mostly takes a backseat to Shively and his bratty shenanigans. Although, they do end up teaming up in the end, they don’t really do much. They go to ridiculous lengths all to steal a box of decorations. There’s a helicopter crash involved.

Although I did find it funny when Shively fell into the frozen lake when Yogi saved Doggie Daddy from being pushed into the open water. Shively ran to his aunt to blame Yogi for it and get him in trouble, Yogi shows up, admits he did it, says he’s not sorry because Shively’s a brat, doesn’t give a reason for doing it and Mrs. Throckmorton is like “Well, thank you, Yogi. Yes, the little brat did deserve it. Maybe this will teach him a lesson.” I agree he needs to be taken down a peg, but that’s pretty cold (pun intended) to act like a little kid deserves to be plunged into a freezing cold lake.

Mrs. Throckmorton is intent on selling the lodge, but, through wacky circumstances, she’s continuously impressed by Yogi as he randomly and accidentally keeps saving her life. To the ranger and lodge manager’s annoyance, Yogi keeps getting promoted with better jobs in the lodge in an effort to kiss up to Mrs. Throckmorton so she won’t sell the lodge. Spoiler alert, she doesn’t sell the lodge. She donates it to an orphanage for use as a vacation spot for them, which is extremely nice, but, like, I’m pretty sure a better option would have been to sell the lodge and just give the money to the orphanage. Orphans need a lot of things, and I’m pretty certain a vacation home isn’t one of them.

Meanwhile, Cindy Bear is overall just being very horny for Yogi. The only reason she decides to wake up from her own hibernation and help out at the lodge is because Yogi needs her, and she spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get him to kiss her under the mistletoe. She gets TWO songs where she’s singing about Yogi kissing her. They’re good songs, but calm down, Cindy.

Speaking of songs, there are several, and they’re overall quite good, but none are terribly memorable. Sad to say, but I’ll probably forget most of these songs by the end of the week, and it’s Friday.

If you love Yogi and want some Christmasness with him, as well as some other classic Hanna-Barbera characters, this is a good movie to check out. While I stand by my criticism of the runtime (it could easily be 45 minutes) it has many moments that made me smile, and there were even some heartwarming moments in there. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m sure many others will too.


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Thanksgiving Special: Pepper Ann – Thanksgiving Dad Review

Plot: On Halloween, Pepper Ann gets a call from her dad telling her and her sister to prepare for a surprise from him on Thanksgiving. She believes he’s going to visit for the holiday, something that makes her super excited since she doesn’t get to see much of him since the divorce. But is she getting her hopes up for no reason?

Breakdown: No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. No, this isn’t a sign of the end times. I got a Thanksgiving special out, ON TIME, and it kinda sorta doubles are more Animating Halloween stuff….a little….it is for the first minute and a half. I’m counting it.

Like I’ve mentioned several times while doing these Thanksgiving special reviews, it’s very, very difficult for them to stray from the norm. Basically any Thanksgiving trope you can think of is here. Parent rushing to get the dinner to be absolutely perfect, basically a warzone at the grocery store, not being able to find one specific item that you need for the dinner, crazy relatives who won’t stop fighting, the yearning for the kid to eat at the adult table, and finally, the one thing practically no Thanksgiving special is without – the dinner getting completely ruined but it ends up okay in the end.

However, this special does add something that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in any other Thanksgiving special – how kids with divorced parents deal with Thanksgiving.

Pepper Ann’s parents broke up some time before the series began, and their divorce is shown to impact several aspects of her life in the show. Thanksgiving is one of the key moments where family is supposed to be all together. However, that just doesn’t happen in many households with divorced parents. Either they have two Thanksgivings at separate times at both houses or they just stick with one and maybe get a visit or a call or something. I can’t speak from experience because I didn’t grow up with divorced parents, but that’s what I’ve gleamed from others.

It’s pretty cool to see a cartoon address this with not just one but two characters. You might remember that Pepper Ann’s best friend, Milo, also has divorced parents, but his parents divorced quite a while before Pepper Ann’s did so he has more experience in that area. Milo bounces from house to house on Thanksgiving – and he doesn’t spend any of it with his parents. He just wanders between his friends’ houses.

Milo is a bit jaded when it comes to family and Thanksgiving. He tries to keep Pepper Ann level-headed when it comes to her belief that her dad will visit for Thanksgiving. He doesn’t know that he won’t, nor does Pepper Ann know that he will, all he said was he had a surprise for Thanksgiving. Milo just knows from his own experiences that the parent who doesn’t get custody tends to drift away and holidays like Thanksgiving end up getting lost more and more in the jumble as they build up a new life after the divorce. They just tend to forget and wind up sending money or gifts sometimes to make up for it.

Milo’s experiences are very sad, and I kinda wish that we had put a little more focus on his holiday bouncing around houses and not actually spending any time at home than we did with Pepper Ann. Both of their experiences are valid, of course, but, also of course, she ends up with a happy ending, for the most part, while Milo’s life with his broken up parents is still fairly sad. Like, does his mother and step-dad not care where he is right now? Does he not do anything for Thanksgiving with his family?

Pepper Ann was, sadly, mistaken. Her dad never did intend on visiting for Thanksgiving. His surprise was that he was piloting a blimp for a big Macy’s-style Thanksgiving day parade and got to wish her and Moose a happy Thanksgiving and give them a heartfelt message on TV. He also said he’d see them next week for visitation, which just begs the question….when is his visitation? Surely he had at least one visitation during the month between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pepper Ann acts like she rarely ever sees her dad anymore. How infrequent are these visits?

This special was pretty entertaining for what it was worth. It never really got that deep into drama, not like As Told by Ginger or Hey Arnold would do, but they hit enough notes for a show like Pepper Ann. Also, there were numerous jokes that were pretty funny, and I was also fairly amused by Pepper Ann’s constant fantasies of her father trying desperately to get to the dinner.

Thanksgiving Dad is good, but not great. I don’t think it’s on anyone’s must-watch lists for the holiday, I barely even remember watching it when I was a kid, but it has some unique and grounded aspects that are worth exploring, and it has good humor and heart. Check it out while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook. Or while you’re recovering from Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you’re not in the US…..just….watch it whenever ya want. I’m not your mom.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) Review

Plot: The Flintstones and the Rubbles win a trip to Count Rockula’s castle for a romantic weekend away and a great costume party. Things take a spooky turn when they discover that the real Rockula, and his cohort, Frankenstone, are living in the castle, and they’re none to happy to find their home filled with people.

Breakdown: This is about as close to a Halloween special as The Flintstones ever got, and as a Halloween special, I think it works pretty well. There are plenty of really funny moments and even some tense moments when the group is being chased by Rockula and Frankenstone.

I will say that, for what is seemingly a Halloween special, it is very weird that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm never show up. For a while, I wondered if either of them even existed, but Wilma very briefly mentions Pebbles near the end of the movie, so I guess at least she does. What was she doing while they were gone that whole time?

Anyway, while I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to revisit this special every Halloween season, it was an enjoyable special that got me laughing and smiling numerous times. If you’re a fan of The Flintstones or even just Hanna-Barbera, you’d get a kick out of it.


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Cartoons Step-by-Step | Xiaolin Showdown Episode 5: Shen Yi Bu Review

XSEP5

Plot: The Dragon Warriors detect the presence of a new Shen Gong Wu – The Sword of the Storm, which allows the user to control powerful storms and become intangible. But when Omi, self-proclaimed expert on the sword, tries to explain the technical aspects of the weapon, Raimundo daydreams and ignores most of what he says.

His lack of caring on the subject causes him to lose the sword to Tubbimura – Jack Spicer’s newest crony. While losing a Shen Gong Wu is embarrassing enough, it’s stings even worse for Raimundo since the sword is a wind-based Shen Gong Wu and he’s the Dragon of Wind.

Realizing that his lack of focus and seriousness in his studies caused him to fail, Raimundo cracks down on studying.

Later, a new Shen Gong Wu is detected – the Shroud of Shadows, which allows the user to become invisible when cloaked. They track it down only to be met with Tubbimura again. Raimundo and Tubbimura start a Xiaolin Showdown over the shroud, but Raimundo calls for a Shen Yi Bu dare, which doubles the stakes – in addition to the shroud and their initial Shen Gong Wu item, they’ll also wager a second Shen Gong Wu. Winner goes home with five Shen Gong Wu. Tubbimura puts forth the Sword of the Storm and the Fist of Tebigong while Raimundo wagers the Two-Ton Tunic and the Eye of Dashi. Before starting, Raimundo calls for a third condition – swapping items at random intervals.

The showdown starts. It’s a challenge to stay on a rock. First one to knock the other off into the water wins. While Raimundo’s newfound knowledge and determination definitely show in his improved skills in battle, Tubbimura proves to be a formidable opponent. Raimundo barely holds on to the side of the tall rock, using the Fist of Tebigong to maintain his grip. However, the item switch causes him to lose the Fist at the worst moment, but he gains the Sword of the Storm.

He chooses to fall, shocking everyone, but Raimundo once again uses what he learned in his studies to change the tides. He combines the Eye of Dashi with the Sword of the Storm to catch himself in midair and fly over the water. He creates a tornado over Tubbimura, which launches him off the rock and into the water.

Raimundo is declared the winner of the showdown and goes home with five Shen Gong Wu.

Back at the temple, everyone discusses Raimundo’s progress. No one else on the team or even Jack Spicer knew what a Shen Yi Bu dare was, nor did they realize that they could combine Shen Gong Wu together. Master Fung mentions that no one has attempted a Shen Yi Bu in centuries, and winning one is exceptionally difficult.

Meanwhile, Raimundo continues to work hard on his studies to prepare for future challenges…..but he’s not above taking a secret break or two for video games.

Breakdown: This episode is probably the best of Xiaolin Showdown so far. While it was a pretty typical story as far as this series has been concerned so far (One of the group messes up because of a personal flaw, then they realize their mistake, work through it and win in the end) this is the best version of all of these types of stories.

Raimundo’s not being obnoxious, he just has his head up in the clouds (or in the waves, in his case) because he finds the subject to be boring. He clearly has an ego that allows him to think he can do this and still make off without any problems in his studies or battles, but he’s not really being cocky about it. He’s being a typical teenager. Studies are boring, so let’s just do the thing so I can goof off.

When he fails against Tubbimura because he didn’t listen to Omi explaining the Sword of the Storm, it’s a huge blow to his pride. He decides to buckle down, study more and actually engage with his role as the Dragon of the Wind.

Because he actually did the work, he manages to come through in spades, blowing everyone away with his newfound knowledge and skills, and not only getting the Sword of the Storm back, but also gaining the Fist of Tebigong and the Shroud of Shadows.

My main problem with this episode is that Raimundo goes a bit too far too fast. He studies for like a day or a few days and all of a sudden he’s such an expert that he even surpasses Omi, who was practically brought up on Shen Gong Wu stuff, and is doing things that haven’t been done or even discussed in centuries? In the end, Omi’s practically begging Raimundo to share his studies with him so he can get on his level.

It kinda comes off like Raimundo is ridiculously OP if he bothers to put in an iota of effort. I get that the message is to take your studies seriously and actually listen when people convey important lessons, but it gave me major ‘sudden shift in power scaling during a shounen fighting anime’ vibes when he started studying.

What’s even more disappointing is they didn’t really show him working for it much. We saw him pull one all-nighter, if it even was an all-nighter, and then boom he’s suddenly finding an invisible Shen Gong Wu in the water with no problem, using the other Shen Gong Wu like he’s an expert in them all, using Xiaolin Showdown battle conditions that no one else has even heard of, adding additional item swapping stipulations as part of his strategy, and using Shen Gong Wu combination abilities that haven’t been introduced yet. It’s a bit overboard.

That being said, the Xiaolin Showdown was really cool and well done. I also like Raimundo’s arc in this episode, even if they went a big crazy with his upgrade. Plus, the Sword of the Storm and Shroud of Shadows seem like really cool Shen Gong Wu I hope to see more of in the future.

If I have any more notes, it’s these;

– Haha. The fat ninja’s weight is one of his main abilities and his name is frickin’ TUBBImura. Spelled and pronounced that way. You see it written in the first scene.

– Dojo is allergic to Shen Gong Wu in this episode, and it has no purpose in this story nor do I think it’s ever brought up again. I don’t understand why, even as a joke.

Next episode…..

….Previous Episode


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Animating Laughter and Frustration: The Goofy Mess of ToonMarty

Finally, after years of doing Episode One-Derlands, I actually finished a cartoon that I featured there.

ToonMarty is a French-Canadian cartoon created in 2017 by Sardine Productions for our old friends, Teletoon. It’s about a happy optimistic boy named Marty who gets into various shenanigans in the toony world of Toonville with his friends, Burnie and Holly.

When I first watched this show, I was pleasantly surprised because, honestly, it didn’t look like it’d be worth much of a damn, but I actually found myself liking it. It wasn’t making me bust a gut or anything, but I fully enjoyed the episode that I had watched.

Cut to nearly a year later, and I’m reminded of ToonMarty as I’m looking through my saved series on Tubi, so I thought why not binge watch it and finally get one of these full-series cartoon reviews completed for a change?

So I did!

And I ended up feeling….very, very, very mixed.

I ended up also using this binge watch as an experimental show to try making a tweet thread about my thoughts on each episode, so if you want to see my brief responses to each episode, click here.

The experiment failed, by the way. I won’t be doing that again.

As you can tell just by skimming the thread, this series has pretty decent highs and fairly low lows. One minute, I’d be singing its praises, and the next I’d be frustrated beyond belief, then I’d be very bored. To get a better idea of what’s right and wrong with ToonMarty, let’s break everything down.

The Citizens of ToonVille

Marty is our main character. When lightning struck a billboard for ToonMart, ToonMart Marty being the mascot, he was brought to life. I mentioned in my Episode One-Derland post that I thought it was odd that they never explained his origins in the first episode, nor do they explain it in the theme song. He obviously has no parents and seems to live in ToonMart, which is very weird without context. If I had never read the description in the Wiki, I’d be terribly confused. I assumed that they would explore his origins in the second episode or at least later on – it’s the friggin’ plot to the show and the backstory to the main character.

But nope.

We never learn, outside of meta information, what Marty is. We just know he’s the mascot of ToonMart for some reason. For all the average viewer knows, Jack just hired someone off the street and used their image for advertising. It doesn’t ever really matter, but it’s still a very weird detail to overlook.

Onto Marty himself, he has very poor character consistency. Sometimes, he’ll be sweet and adorable and precious, but then other times he’ll be very selfish and childish, and many times he’ll be incredibly obnoxious.

I mentioned that Marty reminded me of Spongebob quite a bit, only not quite as annoying, but I take back that last part. They’re about even on that playing ground now. Marty lives for his job, is extremely happy and peppy, and is quite clueless and naive. On the more negative side, Marty loves playing pranks, being loud and destructive. That’s why he’s such good friends with Burnie, a character we will definitely need to talk more about in a second. He’s usually harmless, but he doesn’t seem to realize where the line is until he’s long since crossed it.

The show has a habit of finding ways to torment Marty for no reason. It’s not constant, but it is there and it did get very frustrating. They acknowledge that Marty is meant to be this pure, cute beacon of sunshine that everyone loves, but the show still loves to find ways to make him suffer a lot when he doesn’t deserve it. This happens a lot in episodes where either he and Burnie do something together and he gets the blame or Burnie does something on his own and Marty gets the blame.

Marty is always at his best when he’s just embracing being a toon. He’s very proud of his toon nature, and it’s always entertaining to see him bouncing around and goofing off. I wish they had just kept him that way the entire time.

Burnie is a human pustule. He’s Marty’s best friend – the Patrick to his Spongebob for sure. He’s a lazy, food-obsessed moron. The thing that sets him apart is that he’s the son of a super villain and has fire powers and flight. I mentioned in the Twitter thread that Burnie was starting to come off like a middleground between early seasons Patrick, where he’s a dummy but he’s adorable and entertaining, and late seasons Patrick where he’s just a complete and utter asshole.

I am here to report that I was also wrong on this part. He’s late seasons Patrick – in fact, he’s worse, in my opinion.

Burnie’s shtick is that he’s a lazy idiot, sure, but his more spotlighted character traits are that he’s a selfish, destructive, uncaring pile of sun-baked garbage. He hates Holly for no reason and is constantly making fun of her, pulling pranks on her or making her life miserable, and he’s always getting Marty into trouble. He only cares about himself, and unlike Spongebob and Patrick, you never really feel like their friendship is genuine.

It always feels like Burnie is just friends with Marty because the writers say so. Marty is friends with Burnie because he’s too much of a goshdarn nice guy to see the problems with Burnie most of the time. He has fun playing pranks with him, but that’s about it. He hardly ever holds Burnie accountable for his actions, and Burnie NEVER holds himself accountable for his actions. He’s usually being reeled in by Holly, but Holly almost always ends up being ignored, insulted, harmed in some way or D) all of the above.

You’d think a character like him would constantly get comeuppance, but he doesn’t most of the time. He comes in, causes trouble, acts like a prick, then the episode ends without him paying any price usually. The few times he does get his just desserts, it is beyond a welcomed sight.

Burnie has a pretty good and unique backstory in being the son of a super villain, but they surprisingly don’t do much with that aspect of his character. He frequently uses his fire powers and uses his flight to avoid walking, but outside of some clear daddy issues and some infrequent encounters with his father, it’s very much an underutilized part of his character, which is a shame. I’d much rather explore that than deal with him being a jerkass.

I did mention in the Twitter thread that, at the very least, they acknowledge that Burnie’s a complete annoying asshole….but asshole characters are only really funny if they get their comeuppance, and just because your other characters recognize that a character is annoying doesn’t mean that he’s not still annoying. You have to introduce some likable character traits to him otherwise you’ll just spend every second of his screentime wishing he’d be locked in a cage at the center of the earth.

Holly is like some mixture of Sandy and Squidward. She’s a robot, but also the token girl of the group. She’s the smartest, most mature, and she acts as a grumpy straightman to Marty and Burnie’s shenanigans. Holly is constantly on the receiving end of torment from these two, which is never justified like it commonly is with Squidward. And like I said, she and Burnie hate each other with a passion for really no reason.

I really liked Holly. Outside of one or two instances, she was likable, nice and interesting. Her being a robot is especially interesting because, despite being a cartoon, robots are not technically ‘toons’ in the traditional sense. That’s one of the reasons why Holly’s the straightman in their dynamic. As a robot, she has a weird/sometimes quite poor sense of humor, and she’s always the voice of reason. They act like Holly doesn’t actually have emotions sometimes, but that’s very much not true. I don’t know why they imply that.

Unlike Burnie’s backstory, I don’t think they squander Holly’s robot nature too much. I wish they had done a bit more with it, but it was the best out of the three main characters.

Toonville is filled with many other frequent faces like Jack, the owner of ToonMart and Marty’s boss/father figure. I would say he’s the Mr. Krabs here, but he’s really not. He’s an old curmudgeon who keeps Marty in line when he can, and that’s about it. I liked him for the most part.

Suki is a spoof of anime, most specifically Sailor Moon. I thought Suki would be way more important than she actually was. She’s right up front in the title card, she’s in the promo poster, and the first episode put her on display for quite a bit. Plus, she’s Marty’s love interest. However, she is mostly just a background character for nearly the entire show. She pops up in nearly every episode, but it’s only for about 15 seconds and usually has absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

She had one episode where she was the focus, and that was mostly it for Suki doing damn near anything of note in this series.

There are many more problems with her character that I will discuss later.

Then you have Dr. Smartypants, who was my favorite character of the show. She has great lines, a very memorable personality, and I adore her comedic timing. She’s a monkey and the doctor of Toonville. She actually manages to appear more frequently than Suki despite not even appearing in the opening theme.

Super Simon is the resident superhero. He usually battles Burnie’s dad, Burnatron. While he initially comes off as very heroic and nice, he, for some reason, becomes an ass later on.

Burnatron is a villain. There’s not much to say here. He’s a slight ass to his son, but it’s never enough to justify Burnie’s terrible behavior. Burnatron can be pretty entertaining because he’s one of those villains who are more talk than action.

Carly is a parody of Hello Kitty. She’s pretty funny, and I usually enjoyed any scene that focused on her.

Lenny is a depressed sentient bench, who might as well be Eeyore. He could be kinda funny sometimes, especially in To Be Continued.

Hobo Jeb was about the closest the series had to a consistent villain. He’s a grumpy old classically designed toon. He and Marty hate each other for absolutely no reason. I understand Jeb hating Marty since Jeb’s just a mean person, but I have no clue why Marty hates him so much.

Then there’s Grizelda, who is a witch. She hates toons and goofiness, but she could be pretty funny sometimes.

Chef and Saucy Chicken are local celebrities because they star in a show that is mirroring any chase dynamic in classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Elmer, Sylvester and Tweety, Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote etc. They were pretty entertaining, but their shtick gets old real fast. There are two separate episodes that explore the fact that these two need each other in order to be happy/funny. It’s basically the same story with slightly different details. Considering these two are far from main characters, this was very odd and a waste of an episode.

What ToonMarty Does Right

One of my favorite things about this show is that it celebrates, well, toons. I adore animation, and I love when shows also clearly display a love of cartoons. Everyone’s a toon who knows they’re a toon. The world they live in follows toon rules. And several of the episodes take common cartoon tropes/mechanics and play around with them in a manner that is fun, clever and unique. Anyone who enjoys animation as a whole or even simply a fan of old classic cartoons is sure to find some episodes that will get a laugh out of them.

Animated by Snipple Animation, who have their hands in a variety of projects such as the Ducktales reboot, Phineas and Ferb, the Animaniacs reboot and even the upcoming Proud Family reboot, the animation of ToonMarty is very fluid, energetic and does a good job at capturing the over exaggerated squashy-stretchy tooniness of classic cartoons. They even change up the animation style depending on the character. For instance, the characters based on older classic cartoons tend to bounce a bit more, and Suki’s animation sometimes has missing tweens and is more limited than the others.

ToonMarty also has a pretty good sense of humor. Even in the episodes that were mediocre or even bad, there was usually at least one moment that made me crack a smile. In their best moments, they made me giggle or at least consistently smile throughout an episode. ToonMarty tends to have fun with itself, and I appreciate that.

The voice acting was very well done. Everyone was very fitting in their roles, and they all brought just the right levels of energy to the characters.

The character designs are okay. They’re not most memorable or creative things in the world, but they have enough distinguishing markers to make them easily recognizable via silhouette.

The music is also alright. The opening theme really turned into such an earworm for me. I can’t go one day without randomly playing it in my head. The BGM music is okay too, but there’s one aspect of it that I’ll have to return to later.

What ToonMarty Does Wrong

There are numerous episodes that just seem mean-spirited. I already mentioned how there are several occasions where Marty gets tormented for little to no reason. In the episode Chicken Fricassee, Chef comes into ToonMart to complain about their products not being good enough to kill Saucy Chicken. In order to help his customer, Marty offers numerous products that eventually do kill Chicken, but then everyone, including Chef, Holly and Burnie, all of whom were helping him, turn on Marty and make him an outcast because Chef’s life basically relies on Chicken. Without Chicken to chase, he has no purpose as a toon. Turns out, Chicken was faking her death for the sake of having some down time, knowing Marty was suffering for it and not caring.

There’s another episode called You’re It! where Marty is randomly made It in a game of tag, but it turns out being ‘It’ is actually a disease that will kill him unless he passes it on or finds a cure. He suffers throughout all of the episode, and then the Wise Tree tricks him into doing a bunch of BS chores to unlock the secret to the cure, but she doesn’t actually know what it is.

Holly also gets a hell of a lot of abuse. In the episode, Spare Parts, Marty’s tasked with fixing Holly after she gets banged up while playing with Marty. She has only one stipulation for repairing her – don’t let Burnie be involved at all. Marty turns her off so he can repair her and, Burnie being Burnie, he shows up immediately after Marty deactivates her. Marty can’t stop Burnie, because Burnie’s a human canker sore who doesn’t listen to anybody, he takes great pleasure in destroying her body then throwing her parts in a box labeled ‘Free Garbage.’ Her parts end up scattered throughout all of Toonville, and Marty has to gather them all to reassemble her.

When Holly wakes up, even though she realizes it was probably Burnie who was responsible for her state, she still puts all of the blame on Marty and even organizes an army of cute woodland animals and brainwashes them to be bent on hating Marty.

Speaking of Burnie, I literally have written as a bullet point for this section ‘Burnie.’ I think I’ve driven the point home that Burnie is a thoroughly unlikable character, but I really need to emphasize how much he damages the show entirely.

There are so many episodes where my overall view was dragged down simply because Burnie was there and being obnoxious. No matter if he has bearing on the plot or not, his selfish, mean, rude, uncaring behavior and attitude was always a chore to sit through.

You can have characters be terrible people and still be well-written and fun. Angelica from Rugrats is a great example of that. She was the ultimate brat. She lived for tormenting the babies whether it really benefited her or not, but she had much more to her than just being a bully, and she almost always got her comeuppance for being a little toad.

Megan from Drake and Josh is a good example of a middleground between Angelica and Burnie. She was also a nightmare who loved playing pranks on her brothers, but there was a charm about her and there were some moments that legitimately redeemed her. The major issue with her, though, was that she rarely ever got comeuppance. She never got punished for her terrible behavior or her rude comments, and even though she never made it a secret that she was a demon, her parents never recognized that she was constantly doing terrible things to her brothers. This aspect of her character made her much harder to watch.

Burnie’s not just horrible on his own – he’s also a terrible influence on Marty, but I’ll explore more of that mess later.

I know some people might defend him on the grounds that he’s the son of a super villain so it makes sense that he’s so terrible, but I don’t buy that. His upbringing may have spoiled him and made him lazy and selfish, but 1) He doesn’t much care for the super villain lifestyle. He doesn’t get along with his father and is constantly rebelling against him when they’re shown together. If anything, it makes more sense and would be funnier if he were a nice and benevolent guy. He’s a huge fan of Super Simon, Burnatron’s archnemesis, so he’s already halfway there. And 2) They don’t utilize that aspect of his character enough to justify that explanation.

There are numerous inconsistency issues throughout the show. Some of them can be hand-waved due to cartoon logic, but others are harder to justify. Characters change personalities quickly, the rules of their world change a lot, and sometimes things just make no sense.

For example, in an episode called 15 Minutes to Save the World, the group realizes that, because they live in a cartoon world, reality resets at the end of the day. They decide to do whatever they want, free of consequences because the world will just reset afterwards. They’re shocked to find that, the next day, everything’s still a mess. They wonder what triggers the reset, and in the end they discover that the end of the episode marks the reset….however, that’s not the way it was shown in the episode. They showed how the reset worked earlier in the episode by having the world reset after a zombie apocalypse the instant the sun came up. Now it’s the end of the episode that triggers the reset even though the beginning of the episode is kinda, ya know, the opposite of the end?

There are some other more damning examples I’ll discuss later.

The show as a whole never reaches a point where it really breached the line into ‘great.’ Despite having some really good episodes, it just doesn’t stick in your brain very well. Even though I mostly enjoyed watching this series, I can totally see myself forgetting I ever watched it in a month or so.

ToonMarty never truly finds its footing and really lacks a distinct personality. It bounces back and forth between being about toons being toony and just being a typical cartoon sitcom. I really think if they had committed more to taking aspects of animation and being creative with them in a nearly meta way it would have done wonders for this show’s identity. Even just taking the aspect of the ToonMart and running with it to show funny shenanigans with the gadgets and the characters who use them would have been a good option.

Instead, it’s like it’s uncomfortable being itself and keeps trying to emulate other shows……which brings me to…

Is ToonMarty a Rip-Off?

I have been making a stronger effort recently to not jump on rip-off accusations. Not saying things can’t be ripped off, but I really think that the term ‘rip-off’ gets thrown around way too much lately. People really have to just accept that some archetypes, stories, dynamics etc. are common tropes in media and have likely been for years. Just because someone uses the same tropes but isn’t as successful with them doesn’t mean they’re a rip-off.

That being said, there were several times over the course of watching this show where I got major Spongebob vibes, and it wasn’t just from the main characters. Some of the stories are also reminiscent of Spongebob episodes.

Apparently, I’m not the only one getting these vibes. In my research on this show, I found one of the very few articles on the Internet that discusses ToonMarty – an entry in Terrible Shows & Episodes Wiki (Yikes) with a bullet point list of the negatives and positives of the show as a whole, and one of the points was that it is really similar to Spongebob.

The first time I really started going ‘Hey…wait a minute….’ was in the first act of Where There’s Smoke, There’s Marty, which is very similar to Employee of the Month during the first act, right down to the ridiculous wall of Employee of the Month photos and being motivated by trying to beat someone else for the title, only here it’s against Hobo Jeb for the record holder of most EotM awards. I don’t know how a guy like Hobo Jeb earned so many EotM awards, but maybe it’s just a default thing because…Marty’s the only one who works at ToonMart now, and Jack’s not going to give himself the award.

That’s suspicious, but the rest of the episode was entirely different, so I don’t think I can justify calling ‘rip-off’ there.

Then there was The Suit Makes the Super Hero, where Marty and Burnie get trapped in Super Simon’s suit and gain his super powers as a result, prompting them to cause a lot of chaos and trying to cover up that they took the suit without asking, like Spongebob did when he got Mermaidman’s belt in Mermaidman and BarnacleBoy IV, but there was no shrinking powers involved with this story.

The most shocking moment of this came in the episode Marty’s Bright Idea. This episode feels entirely unique until the ending. Toons rely on idea bulbs to stay intelligent. This is another inconsistency in the show as they barely, if ever, actually use idea bulbs in the series, but it’s a cute play on this old classic cartoon trademark. Jack gets the year’s supply of idea bulbs from his supplier and tasks Marty with safely storing them because they can’t get anymore until next year.

Burnie, of course, coerces him into using the bulbs for random stupid crap. They go through all of the bulbs in just one day. Toonville soon devolves into a brainless wasteland, so Burnie and Marty head to the location of the supplier. When I mentioned this episode in my tweet thread, I hinted as to what the big ‘rip-off’ moment was by mentioning the episode of Futurama where they discover the origin of Slurm, Fry and the Slurm Factory.

If you’ve never seen Futurama (you should), in that episode, the crew wins a tour of the Slurm factory. Slurm is an incredibly popular drink that Fry is basically addicted to. In the factory, they’re shocked to find that Slurm is actually a bunch of goo that is expelled from the butt of a giant slug/worm creature.

And, well, guess where the idea bulbs come from. Yup. The butt of a giant slug/worm creature.

It’s completely random for such a detail to be shoved into an episode that otherwise has nothing to do with Futurama, but I can’t imagine something as specific as this was not just ripped straight from Fry and the Slurm Factory. The other stuff I can find a way to excuse quite easily, but this is too on-the-nose.

Looping back to Spongebob, ToonMarty also has some background music tracks that sound reminiscent of Spongebob music in that they use lap steel guitars. Spongebob’s trademark BGM is loaded with lap steel guitars to make their music sound more Hawaiian, tropical and ocean-esque. Their most iconic musical sting is one in which a lap steel guitar is used.

ToonMarty doesn’t use these tracks very often, and it’s usually briefly, but when they do it’s very distracting. It’s not only very Spongebob-y, but it doesn’t fit very well with the small town setting they’ve presented us with.

There’s a fine, fine line between ripping something off and gaining inspiration from something. This is a subject I really had to mull over after seeing something else shocking.

In the episode, You’re It!, they show a closeup of a progression drawing to explain how this It disease has been passed on through the years. The drawing at the end is clearly Spongebob.

Being fair, there’s also a drawing of a character clearly meant to be Mickey Mouse, and another…..that I feel I should know based on the art style alone, but I can’t place it.

Considering all of the nods that they give to classic cartoons like Mickey Mouse, does this mean that they’re treating Spongebob as one of those cartoons and are just gaining inspiration from them and giving them a nod?

I have no clue why that’s there or what that could be implying. If they really were ripping off Spongebob, I doubt they’d be dumb enough to draw attention to that by having a blatant image of Spongebob right there in the middle of an episode.

So my final verdict on this matter is no. I don’t think ToonMarty is a rip-off. I just think it has such identity issues that it borrows from other shows sometimes in order to feel more secure instead of really embracing the fairly fresh concept that they had all the way through.

Marty’s Bright Idea is a perfect encapsulation of that whole problem. It’s fully embracing its own toony meta identity for most of the runtime and then BOOM suddenly you’re thrust into an episode of Futurama for a few minutes. (For the record, I do think that one moment was entirely ripped off.)

The identity issues aren’t just present in the borrowing of material. The way that the characters will change personalities on a whim or the inconsistency issues I mentioned before are both symptoms of this. I really think if ToonMarty maybe got one more season it could have cemented itself a little more and improved overall, but, sadly, it never got a chance.

Top Five Best Episodes

Before I go over my actual favorites list, I’m going to share some honorable mentions.

9A: The Barber of Toonville – A pretty funny episode that plays with the trope of toons never changing their appearance, so they obviously never get haircuts, but Burnie needs one. After he gets his haircut, it snowballs into a really good episode of funny nonsense that I greatly enjoyed.

11A: Toon-derworld – Just a really good Halloween episode that I will probably cover in full this October for Animating Halloween.

12B: Hot Tub Toon Machine – The only episode that completely centers on the classic cartoons of yesteryear also does a good job of shining a spotlight on them. I love old cartoons and wish they got more appreciation by modern audiences, so I think it’s great that they were celebrated here.

Marty ends up losing his color and becoming wrinkled and sore after spending way too much time relaxing in Burnie’s hot tub. As a result, he’s sent to an old toons home where he meets other toons that have aged out of the public eye. Marty, however, remembers all of them. When Marty winds up being in trouble after trying to help them, the old toons team up and get their old acts together to help him get his colors back and escape. In the end, the old toons stay retired and enjoy their naps, but it was nice to see them get back in the game.

15A: Senseless Burnie (The Good Parts) – This episode had a really unique, creative, and downright trippy premise that was really fun to play around with. However, the thing that dragged this episode down will be covered in the worst list….

Onto the main list….

5: 20A – Marty’s Theme

This episode was a great play on the concept of a character’s theme music. In this world, a character’s theme music drives their emotions. If happy music is playing, they’re happy. Sad music for sad etc. Without a theme band inside their heads, toons don’t feel emotions properly. Marty loses his band after they have a big fight and break up. They leave his head to go pursue independent careers.

Marty shops for a new source of theme music and decides upon a yodeling crocodile who doesn’t understand English. This makes him happy all the time, which causes a lot of problems in his life.

This episode is loaded with funny moments and is very memorable. My only note is that it would have been better if the entire episode only played whatever was set as Marty’s theme music. That way we could react along with him. Instead we get the normal score and Marty’s theme music, so it kinda loses impact.

4: 16B – Psych-O-Marty

I know I’ve written a lot about how insufferable Burnie is, but this episode helps heal that wound slightly. Dr. Smartypants gives Marty the job of ‘tooning up’ the toons of Toonville in her stead since she needs a vacation. He does a surprisingly good job with everyone except Burnie.

Through a multitude of mental conditioning techniques, including a reference to A Clockwork Orange of all things, Marty makes Burnie realize that he’s a terrible person, so he dedicates himself to being good from now on. Problem is, the fabric of the world’s reality is dependent on toons staying in their typical roles. Burnie being the polar opposite of how he normally is starts causing everything to break apart. Marty scrambles to get him to be a jerk again, but Burnie won’t budge.

There’s this…weird glossed over detail of Burnie having an evil teddy bear as a child that may have made him a jerk? It’s just “He used to say an evil teddy bear made him do everything.” ….Oh. Okay. Is that for real or did little kid!Burnie just make that up as an excuse whenever he did bad things? We never find out. We never even see the bear outside of the costume version Marty makes for himself.

The ending was the best part of the episode because it comes out of nowhere and is pretty shocking.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this episode was the implication that they have to keep Burnie as this horrible nightmare person because that’s just the way he is and you can’t upset the natural order or whatever. Also, it’s a bit alarming because that means literally no character can grow or change lest the world be destroyed as a result.

Technically, this is just mirroring a facet of animation. Many cartoons, especially classic ones, wouldn’t have character development, or, if they did, it would just be in one episode and wouldn’t stick through any other episode. It was the consistent formula that kept people coming back. However, when you’re talking about one of the most obnoxious characters I’ve seen in recent years, I’d rather not have the idea of him not being an asshole sandwich be shot down so firmly.

Other than that, it was a really funny episode that I greatly enjoyed.

3: 7A: 15 Minutes to Save the World

I already said quite a bit about this episode, but I did really enjoy the way they played with the cartoon trope of the world resetting once an adventure is over. I also like that they got a bit dark with it by having Jack legitimately die and stay dead until the very end. The weakest aspect of this episode, however, is how it starkly contradicts itself as I mentioned earlier.

2: 3A – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Marty

Yet another great example of them exploring cartoon trademarks and playing around with them. Marty is trying his best to earn Employee of the Month because he only needs four more of those awards to beat Hobo Jeb’s record. Marty rushes around the store trying to do a bunch of work, but all the zooming back and forth is exhausting his smoketoon. A smoketoon is the smoke version of a toon that they leave behind when they speed off somewhere. All toons need their smoketoons to travel at any decent level of speed. Marty’s smoketoon gets so fed up with his constantly zooming around that he detaches himself from Marty and leaves. Because of this, Marty is too slow to do basically any work around the store.

With his record in jeopardy, he asks to borrow Burnie’s smoketoon, who, in a polar opposite situation to Marty’s smoketoon, is actually pent up with a lot of energy because Burnie’s so lazy that he’s doesn’t tend to use his smoketoon. Burnie’s smoketoon rushes Marty around to work, which makes him exhausted and allows him to understand how his smoketoon feels. In the end, both Marty and Burnie are reunited with their smoketoons under the conditions that Marty will take it easy sometimes and Burnie will try to not be so lazy.

I really enjoyed this episode a lot. My favorite part was when the smoketoons got into a fight and created a fight dust cloud. That kinda bent my mind and gave me a good chuckle.

1: 10B – Batteries Included

I’ve always loved the idea of a magic universal remote that can do anything to the world around you. This episode is one of the best takes on that premise. I especially loved when Holly made Burnie speak Spanish and kept him that way throughout much of the episode, when they added audio descriptions to Suki (making one of about three times Suki has a good joke/scene in the series) and when their batteries ran out pressing ‘slow mo’ and they had to wait centuries for the batteries to recharge even a tiny bit. That whole time they were basically in slow mo limbo was awesome. Very memorable episode, and one I would definitely deem my favorite.

Bottom Five Worst Episodes

Time for some dishonorable mentions…

5A: The No-Toon Bro Zone – This was the first sign of rough waters ahead for ToonMarty. It was the first episode I disliked. Burnie and Marty are being complete douchebags acting as “bros” and annoying Holly to the point where she goes to her private space to relax. The boys find her in the space and realize that it’s essentially a reality-bending area where you can get anything you want if you just say it out loud.

While Holly’s gone, the boys take advantage of the space and completely trash it. Marty also spreads the word of the place to plan a massive destructive party for everyone in town. Marty’s big mouth causes everyone to move into Holly’s place, and Marty, Burnie and Holly are not allowed in. When she tries to make the best of their time in normal reality, Marty and Burnie act like bored jerks not even trying to have fun.

The only reasons that I am a little lenient with this episode are that Holly gets her space back in the end, Marty and Burnie get punished for what they did, Holly learns how to relax a little better thanks to her time with Marty and Burnie being a fellow ‘bro’ and the jokes were alright.

6A: Candy Cute – This episode has many problems – all of them focusing on why Suki doesn’t work as a character.

This is the one and only episode that focuses on Suki. As I mentioned before, Suki is the character meant to be a parody of anime, most specifically magical girl anime like Sailor Moon. Sadly, however, it’s very clear that no one in the writer’s room actually knows much about anime to make this character work well.

You guys remember when really the only exposure people had to anime were things like Speed Racer, Sailor Moon and Pokemon? And how the bare bones of jokes involving anime based purely on a single digit number of shows were ‘The animation is cheap’ ‘The characters don’t blink’ ‘Woosh lines in the background whenever anything happens.’ ‘They overemote to things and gasp a lot.’ and ‘The lip-syncing is bad.’

Well, if you know that, you don’t need to watch this episode at all or pay attention to Suki.

Bear in mind, this show was made in 2017, long after we got a torrential flood of anime in the west and after it became basically mainstream to like anime. There’s no reason the jokes should be this lazy. The only kinda modern anime reference they make with Suki is that she also has cat ears, which I’m only giving a pass to because, despite cat girls being around for a long time, they weren’t really common over here for a while.

Then there’s the Japanese stereotyping. Suki is voiced by a white woman but speaks in an embellished Japanese accent. This is not only problematic, but it also makes no sense. Hardly any character in an English dubbed anime has a Japanese accent.

If they’re poking fun at non-dubbed anime….why is she not just speaking Japanese? Why not give her subtitles? You can even poke fun at the silly details of fansubs or something. Why make her speak English with a Japanese accent? That doesn’t convey ‘anime’ to me. It conveys….I dunno, weeaboo? Or a Japanese person cosplaying while speaking English for some reason.

She’s also very much into DDR, virtual reality and she’s, for some reason, completely obsessed with candy. Is that a Japanese stereotype? I can’t imagine it’s an anime thing…right? I know Japanese candy is supposedly really awesome, though I’ve never had any, but making her obsessed with it doesn’t make much sense to me if it’s a joke or reference.

Her candy actually seems like it has powers? In this episode, there’s been a string of shoplifting incidents in ToonMart, so Marty is tasked with taking everyone’s pockets at the door (Not checking – taking). Suki leaves behind her skirt, I guess, and Burnie being Burnie convinces Marty to rummage through her pockets. She keeps a ton of candy in there and Burnie just helps himself.

Eating the candy gives Burnie cat ears, which, by the way, look nothing like cat ears. Until this episode, I thought Suki had short bunny ears, and I’m still not convinced they’re not even though they specifically called them cat ears.

Suki adores candy and Burnie becomes much more fun when he’s on the candy (this is sounding like an anti-drug episode for some reason.) However, in a very surprisingly twist, Marty reveals that he’s allergic to sugar and eating more than just a teeny, tiny microspeck of it will make him really, really crazy and sick, so he can’t have candy. He likes Suki, however, and wants to have just as much fun with her as Burnie’s having, so he pretends like he’s eating candy for a while until he flips out, eats the candy anyway and goes on a sugar-fueled rampage.

This episode as a whole is largely mediocre, but I couldn’t get over how badly they screwed up making a parody of anime. They play with so much when it comes to other cartoon tropes, but it’s like they were contractually obligated to have a character who was based on anime since it was booming in popularity, but they didn’t know what to do with her because no one on the crew knew enough about anime to actually make creative and new jokes, which is a shame.

7B – Spare Parts – I’ve already said my piece on this episode, but it really is a terrible one. At the very least, Burnie gets “cuddled” by the giant Cuddles in the end, even if Marty and Holly also get squished.

And now for the lowest of the low points of ToonMarty….

5: 10A – ToonScout Marty

Super Simon’s at his absolute worst here. He’s trying to get merit badges in the scouts with Marty. He basically treats it like a joke, wants Marty to do everything for him, and acts like an oblivious jerk the entire time. He keeps earning merit badges for stuff Marty is doing and taking full credit without a single thought. Meanwhile, Marty, who was a model scout and loves all of these activities, ends up getting scolded constantly and has all of his badges taken away in the end.

The wrap-up to this episode plus some genuinely funny moments kept the episode from being unsalvagable, but it’s really annoying to sit through.

4: 12A – ToonMart Mutt

The reason I don’t care for this episode is the rampant animal abuse. Marty is a horrible, horrible, horrible pet owner who kills every pet he gets (usually a fish.) He asked Jack if he could get a dog, and Jack agreed, but only if he could keep a fish alive for one year. Marty unknowingly killed a fish once a day for 365 days, and Holly just kept replacing them behind his back to help him get a dog, which is absolutely abhorrent.

Holly means well, but she’s knowingly getting hundreds of fish horribly killed by Marty’s hands just to give him access to a dog that he will likely also kill?

Speaking of that, Marty does get permission to get his dog, but when Burnie realizes how much of a cushy life the dog will have (he’s not aware that Marty’s a horrible pet owner) he magically swaps places with the dog that Marty would most likely want.

Marty tortures Burnie in this episode, even though he thinks he’s being a good pet owner. He’s like Elmyra only worse. I can’t believe this episode actually made me feel bad for Burnie, but when we see his horrible, swollen, injured, hungry form after just one day with Marty, I was starting to get upset.

I would normally be right on board with Burnie getting some punishment, but 1) He didn’t deserve it in this episode, really, and 2) I can’t help but imagine Marty doing this to a not-Burnie dog, and that just makes me even more upset.

At least, at the end of the episode, Marty agrees with everyone that he’s a terrible pet owner and probably shouldn’t ever get a pet ever again, but goddamn that was rough to watch.

3: 15A – Senseless Burnie (The Bad Parts)

While this episode was very funny, weird and creative, I hit a wall of hatred with this episode when Burnie started insisting that Marty eat some super duper candy coated mega burger.

Burnie loses all of his senses after being exposed to yak hair. In order to sense things again, Dr. Smartypants suggests putting a brain leech into Burnie and Marty’s heads. Burnie’s will accept transmissions of sensory input, and Marty’s will transmit the sensations. Through Marty, Burnie can use all of his senses again. Problem is, he still can’t sense anything himself. IE if he wants to smell a flower, Marty has to sniff the flower for him.

Burnie has been really looking forward to eating this super special candy coated burger thing that is loaded with sugar, but since he can’t taste anything on his own right now, he wants Marty to eat it for him. Marty is allergic to sugar. It makes his head explode. (Yes, that doesn’t mesh entirely with what was mentioned in Candy Cute.) He wants to keep helping Burnie, but that’s basically asking him to kill himself, so he refuses.

In retaliation, since Marty claims he will do literally anything else….*sigh* Burnie forces him to do a series of horrible things to himself, literally torturing him until he gives in and eats the suicide burger.

The only thing that makes this even slightly acceptable is that Burnie still feels everything Marty is feeling, so he’s being tortured too. However, when you really think about it, this just makes Burnie look even worse as a person. He’s such a monster that he’s willing to torture himself to torture his best friend to force him into doing something that will seemingly KILL HIM just because he wants to eat a burger. Fuck Burnie, I swear.

He actually sneezes out his brain leech thing while torturing Marty, regains his own senses, but then keeps torturing Marty and tries to find the brain leech because he thinks the burger will taste better with Marty’s senses than his own.

Oh and one more thing. Burnie was also taking advantage of the fact that Marty thought he was the cause of Burnie’s senselessness by exposing him to some yak hair a while back. Turns out, Burnie owns a goddamn pet yak and is extremely close to it……even lickings its eyeballs…..

The fact that the rest of this episode is so good just makes me angrier at the bad parts.

2: 13A – How Marty Got His Toon Back

This episode I dislike for three reasons; 1) It’s just boring. 2) It is the absolute worst example of poor consistency in this show. And 3) It makes 100% no sense.

Grizelda hates toons and tooniness. On her birthday, she just wants some normalcy, but the toons are irritating her everywhere. She finally snaps and starts zapping every toony thing around her and taking away their tooniness, which kinda means she’s committing mass murder in a sense because most of the things she’s zapping are sentient and they lose their sentience when she zaps them. They’re just normal objects afterward.

In comes Marty, who is at his tooniest and causing trouble for her right before giving her an explosive when he finds out it’s her birthday. She zaps him too, taking away his tooniness and making him a regular person. He now has the capacity to feel pain and can die.

There are so many things wrong with this episode I have no idea where to begin.

Let’s just start at the basics. This premise is based on the trope that cartoons can’t feel pain, get injured or die. They just squash and stretch and turn into accordions, etc. no matter what happens.

Thing is, that’s not how cartoons work, nor has it ever been that way. Cartoons survive a hell of a lot, yeah, and like 15 Minutes to Save the World explains, the world just resets once the episode is over. The status quo is never challenged once the credits run. However, the way pain, injury and death works in cartoons is that they selectively choose when to have these things happen.

For example, a cartoon gets crushed by an anvil. It would be terrible and gross for the cartoon to explode in a bunch of meaty chunks and then end the episode because it’s now dead. It’s funny to watch him get flattened into a pancake and walk off angrily.

Likewise, it usually isn’t funny if a cartoon gets bit or burns themselves or sticks their hands in a mousetrap etc. and doesn’t respond with pain.

Death can also be worked with. I just watched a classic cartoon where the main characters die in an explosion in the end and hang out in heaven playing harps and it worked just fine.

As a result, this entire episode doesn’t make any sense even in concept. And it only gets worse from here. There have been and will continue to be plenty of instances of pain, injury and even death in ToonMarty, so even in-universe this premise makes no sense.

This is basically spelled out for us because Dr. Smartypants is telling Marty about his condition….I’m sorry Dr. Smartypants, what exactly do you do all day if toons never feel pain, get injured or die?

You want to know what episode immediately follows this one? Marty’s Exploding Head – where Marty learns so much so quickly that his brain is at risk of exploding and killing him.

But it doesn’t stop there. Even if you ignore literally everything about the way cartoons typically work or even how ToonMarty usually works, they’re still completely screwing up this premise. Why? Because Marty only barely loses SOME of his tooniness. He can’t change his outfit by spinning around really fast. He can’t crash through a wall and leave behind his outline. And he feels pain and is supposedly mortal now. These are really the only noticeable changes Marty undergoes when he’s de-tooned.

Yeah, he can’t change his clothes when he spins around really fast, but golly he sure is spinning really fast for someone with no toon powers.

Yeah, he can’t zoom through a wall and leave behind an outline, but he was still moving his legs so fast that they made that cartoon wheel of legs, which shouldn’t happen if he has no toon powers.

Here’s a brief list of every instance of Marty supposedly experiencing a lack of tooniness in this episode.

Burnie drops an anvil on Marty’s head. Marty just goes ‘ow.’

Burnie drops a piano on Marty’s head. Marty hurts, but still bursts through the piano without a scratch. He does mention he doesn’t get piano teeth or a circle of birds over his head, but that’s not the problem. If you were not toony, you’d be ultra dead right now.

Burnie torments him by creating a pellet of insanely spicy stuff. Burnie bites it and just bursts out with fire breath, but Marty is forcibly fed it and experiences a lot of pain with the level of spiciness. Okay, I’ll give them this one I guess, but they’re still making him do toony stuff by making his eyes literally glow red in response. Also, eating spicy things and experiencing pain while also breathing fire – typical things toons do because the idea of eating the spicy thing and not feeling pain is typically not funny.

Burnie pushes him off a high dive. Marty crashes into the ground, leaving a crater, feels pain….but also isn’t dead or visibly injured at all.

Burnie rolls his eyes at the idea of bringing Marty to the doctor, and even repeatedly says the word ‘Waaambulance’ (remember that meme from ten years before this show was made?) Even when he’s calling an ambulance, he tells the operator to send a ‘Waaaambulance’ for the ‘huge baby.’ That doesn’t have any bearing on the logic of the plot, but I just wanted to highlight what a pile of crusty used band-aids Burnie is again.

Dr. Smartypants shows that tons of Marty’s bones are broken in an x-ray, yet he’s not in constant ridiculous levels of pain, nor is he given anything more than a head bandage…..his skull was one of the few parts of him not damaged in the x-ray, by the way.

Marty is crushed in the screen wipe transition. Being affected by transition effects isn’t a toon thing….????

Marty catches his leg in Grizelda’s door, feels pain but his leg is still stretching out quite a bit, and he comically paused for several seconds before he actually reacted to the pain, which is another thing toons do when they get hurt.

Marty jumps up and stays in the air for several seconds, which is something he should not be able to do if he doesn’t have toon powers.

Marty puts a massive pile of explosives under Grizelda’s house to make a prank so funny she’ll give back his tooniness, but then he realizes that all Grizelda wants is normalcy, not pranks and tooniness. He takes the pile of explosives away, Burnie detonates them behind Marty because I wish Burnie would die already, leaving him singed and in a big crater with no other visible injuries….and not dead.

In the next scene, he has bandages on his torso, an arm cast and he’s using a crutch.

To get the ingredients for the nice, normal cupcake Grizelda wants, they climb a mountain and Burnie chucks the dino eggs that they’re trying to get at Marty, because I really hate Burnie. The dino attacks Marty. I’d think the dino would attack Burnie for not only having the eggs but also destroying them, but why not torment Marty some more for no reason?

In the next scene, Marty doesn’t have anymore bandages or wounds than he did before. They’re getting petals from some flower, and the flower is happily offering some to Marty, but then Burnie just yanks some off of the flower because *various anger noises*. The plant grows to massive size, develops huge spikes all over it and attacks Marty, because again, let’s torment Marty for shit Burnie is doing.

A few more bandages around Marty’s face as he goes to get the lava. You’d think Burnie, the one with fire powers and flight, would be the logical choice to get this, but no. Marty has to hang down right by the lava on a rope and get it with a coffee mug. Him being this close to lava without getting burned is already pushing it for me, but the point where I really said ‘screw this episode’ was when Burnie does a goddamn cannonball into the lava, because why wouldn’t he do the absolute worst thing you can possibly imagine to Marty right now, creating a massive wave of lava that crashes over Marty….and the only additional damage we see in the next scene is more bandages. They don’t even do the typical burned look with his hair slightly on fire like the way toons normally react to getting burned.

I know I said it wouldn’t be funny to have a cartoon get realistically injured or die horrifically like they would in these real-life scenarios, and I’m not saying that should be happening in the episode, but that’s a large part of the main issue here. They shouldn’t have even tried to do all of these stupid stunts. They should have made something funny out of Marty trying to avoid getting hurt as much as possible because he’s mortal now. If pain and death are such a huge risk to him now, it’s just plain stupid to keep having him get into situations where anyone without toon powers would easily be horrendously wounded or killed.

Maybe have Holly and Burnie scramble in a panic constantly over trying to help Marty avoid all of the hazards of their world and this very dangerous adventure. Have them use their toon powers to help make up for his lack of tooniness. Or is it much harder to make something funny out of that when “Hurr hurr, Marty suffering” is so much easier to write?

After Grizelda gets her dino lava whatever cake, Marty asks if she’ll turn him back into a toon. She agrees as long as he doesn’t do anything toony until her birthday is over. He agrees to the terms and gets his powers back, but Marty quickly explodes with tooniness all over and goes nuts. Grizelda actually understands Marty’s inability to control himself, but she can’t control herself when it comes to using magic, so she turns everyone in the room into frogs.

You’d think that’d be the end of the problems in the episode, but we’re still not done.

Everyone is turned into a frog except Burnie, who is kissed on the cheek by Grizelda, which turns him into…Merlin, but it’s just Burnie in a Merlin costume, basically. Grizelda was shown earlier to have the hots for Merlin….so uhh…she picks him up and says “Happy Birthday to me.” with bedroom eyes, porn-ish music playing and Burnie quietly begging for help.

…What the hell was that? Again, I’m all for punishing Burnie, especially in this frickin’ episode, but this is crossing a lot of lines. Not only is this creepy as shit in regards to consent, but Burnie can’t be older than maybe his mid-teens at absolute best. I’d say he’s probably 12 or 13 or something, honestly. I would rather the episode ended simply with the group being frogs, but if this terrible joke did have to be in here, why not transform Jack? Earlier in the episode, it was shown that Jack was one of Grizelda’s childhood friends who also keeps playing pranks on her for her birthday. You could have worked that into it instead of basically turning her into a pedophile.

The best this episode did was acknowledge that some people just don’t like pranks and it’s not right to try to force them to enjoy them. If they want to have some peace and normalcy, respect that.

1: 17A – A Friend Too Close

I hate this episode because it’s not only bad it’s basically doing the same thing Psych-O-Marty did only worse.

In this episode, Marty and Burnie realize that they’re so destructive and obnoxious together that they’ve literally been banned from everywhere in Toonville as a duo. They get into a big argument blaming the other for being the troublesome one, and then they decide to stop being friends.

Marty starts doing well because everyone likes Marty, but Burnie’s all alone and miserable because no one wants to be his friend because he’s the human equivalent of the teeny tiny x on mobile ads that you can never hit exactly right the first three times so you end up getting redirected over and over. Unlike in, say, Drake and Josh where they did a similar plot in Josh is Done, this doesn’t result in some sweet moment or self-realization.

Instead, Marty, despite having a blast with his new friends, suddenly finds them all boring because they suddenly start talking about boring stuff. Apparently none of them want to play pranks either, even though that’s a trademark toon thing to do, as shown in How Marty Got His Toon Back. It’s not exclusively something only Marty and Burnie do. Hell, that episode even showed that Jack loved pranks, and he’s an old fogey most of the time.

On the other side of the coin, Burnie starts going insane with loneliness, even though it’s been half a day and Holly’s tending to him. He can’t stop crying, he’s pretending a plant is his friend, and he can’t even maintain a healthy relationship with his plant friend.

It’s gets so bad, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, but Burnie actually builds a bomb and says its for when he gets “a little angry and destroy-y.”……..Are we going to find some poorly written manifesto after this?

It later turns out to be a garbage and slime bomb, but they treat it like a real bomb until the end. Holly, the robot, even recognizes it as a legitimate bomb and rushes to deactivate it.

In the end, they act like Marty and Burnie are worse apart than they are together, which couldn’t be less true. Despite having Marty for herself for a while, Holly doesn’t get to spend more time with Marty because he’s too busy with his new friends. Meanwhile, Burnie’s annoying Holly because he’s so miserable when she can easily just leave. Everyone else is just fine. No one is being bothered. It’s a bright and sunny day in Toonville.

The only third party being negatively affected here is Holly, and that’s easily fixed without getting them back together. They had to tack on the bomb thing to add more severity to this situation, which is very messed up. Like, “No, Holly. You can’t leave him alone. He might commit a terrorist act.”

Here’s my solution – Marty spends more time with Holly now that he’s free of Burnie. Burnie suffers for however long by himself because he realizes no one wants to be friends with such a terrible person. Then he gets jealous of Holly and Marty getting along so well. He wants to go full-blown super villain as revenge, but he can’t bring himself to do it. In the end, I dunno….I can’t suggest any sort of ending where Marty and Burnie get back together because I just find this friendship to be extremely toxic.

Marty’s always a worse person with Burnie, and Burnie’s always an unrestrained typhoon when he’s with Marty. Marty’s a great friend to Burnie, and Burnie’s a horrible friend to Marty. The only person who keeps them under wraps SOMETIMES is Holly, and they just end up making her the butt of the joke. I didn’t come away from this episode with any sense that we got the better outcome. Burnie should just be written out.

Bonus Notes

I tried really hard to find information online about ToonMarty, but it’s mostly a dry well. It’s a weird instance of a show popping into existence and flooring it into nonexistence. The show debuted on May 1, 2017 and aired an episode almost every single day until May 25, 2017 and then the show got canceled. I have no clue why they aired it like this. Power-airing a full season of a show in just one month is kinda crazy, and sounds like some form of sabotage, but I can’t be certain. There’s so little information surrounding this show that I can’t really know anything.

Nickelodeon gained the international rights to the show, but it apparently never aired in the US during its initial run, only in France, Latin America, Italy and Canada. Practically every video I find on the show is a promo from Nickelodeon France’s Youtube channel. It doesn’t seem like anyone has talked much about it. Outside of the Terrible Shows and Episodes Wiki entry, I found one IMDB review, one forum thread talking about distribution of the show, a couple of brief news articles and that was about it.

Oddly, though, Sardine Productions did create an online game based on the show called Marty’s Special Delivery, but it doesn’t seem to work anymore. I found two links for it – one is broken, and the other is Sardine Productions own web page for the game where it leads to nothing but a JPG.

The Facebook page for ToonMarty last updated on March 4, 2021 to announce that the show was heading to KiDoodle.tv, something that was also celebrated by Marty’s voice actor, Brian Froud, on his Instagram. However, the ToonMarty Facebook page hadn’t been updated since 2019 before that and then 2017 before that.

Oddly, they never noted that ToonMarty was heading to Tubi to get a US release.

Final Judgment

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed when I finished the show because I had higher hopes for it. Not massively high, but high-ish. In the end, I think it’s good at absolute best. It can be smart and funny, and the main basis of the show is strong, but I can’t deny that the low points are exceedingly low.

I think a major factor in your enjoyment level of this show is how much you can stomach obnoxious behavior. Because, while I can handle a few bad episodes just fine, the fact that Burnie is here…..existing, is a problem for me all the way through. He was constantly ruining scenes or even whole episodes just by being there, and there’s never an episode where he’s not there. Then the frequent torment of characters who usually don’t deserve it makes things even harder to enjoy.

I don’t regret watching this show all the way through. Like I said, even in the worst episodes, I’d still crack at least one smile, and it usually had me either smiling frequently and/or laughing a few times. Plus, there were some concrete moments of high-quality comedy and goofy fun. However, whether I recommend it is another story.

I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch of at least a handful of episodes. I don’t think you’ll regret it. On the other hand, if you watch those few episodes and still want to walk away, I definitely won’t be jumping up to make an argument against your decision.

ToonMarty is not a show that was slept on or is a hidden/forgotten gem. It’s just a pretty decent show that came and went so fast, I’d expect it to have its own smoketoon. It was a fun ride for sure, but there were many problems with the show that needed be ironed out in a second season that never came. I really believe if it did get a second season, it would have made a good effort to fix the kinks and leveled up to having at least a couple ‘great’ episodes. Then again, I could be wrong and they could have just doubled down on the mess and made it worse. We’ll never know.

The good news is, if the show does interest you even a little it’s available for free on Tubi, available for free (?) on KiDoodle.TV, and Amazon Prime Video also has the series for free streaming with ads with options to purchase the episodes.


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CSBS – Rugrats S01 Ep4: Baby Commercial/Little Dude Review

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen2

Plot: 4A: Baby Commercial – Phil and Lil recall their experiences filming a diaper commercial.

4B: Little Dude – Tommy is brought to be a learning aid at Didi’s high school Home Ec. class.

Breakdown: 4A: Baby Commercial –CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 screen1This is the first episode to mostly center on Phil and Lil, and it’s largely poking fun at the entertainment industry while also having a lot of random slapstick that Rugrats really loved in the early days.

One thing I really remembered about this episode was the director guy, Jonathan’s, obsession with his diaper box pyramid. That detail is mostly unimportant, but the whole time I was rewatching the episode, I was waiting for when we got to the point where he’d yell “MY PYRAMID!” Like the Cabbage Merchant from Avatar the Last Airbender.

Other than that, we have adults either not understanding babies or not giving a single dime store fuck about them. Ya know, the hallmark of all Rugrats episodes.

Here, we have the director guy acting like a one-and-half-year-old would know how to take stage directions on his own, Betty handing off Lil to a random slob she doesn’t know, and the random slob instantly placing her on the floor and completely neglecting to watch her because he wants to continue stuffing his face with donuts and being incoherent.

He’s wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Best Boy’ and I never got that joke, nor do I get it now. Is there some joke in the industry that best boys are useless sacks of crap? If you don’t know what a best boy is, they’re basically, what Wiki describes as, the ‘foremans’ of their respective crews, either electric or grips. They’re not the heads of their crews, that would be the gaffer (for electric) and key grip, but they are responsible for a lot of scheduling, hiring and general management. Sounds like they have a pretty important job. Why is the parody of it being portrayed like this? Am I not getting something?

For all of you playing at home, Lil ends up in the goddamn rafters and nearly dies because of course she does.

Then the unsupervised Phil climbs on a camera dolly and drives it around the set, nearly crashing the diaper pyramid down. However, another staple of Rugrats episodes is that all of this chaos usually results in a happy if not unrealistic ending. The advertising execs love the footage of the babies wreaking havoc, and they launch the commercial. Jonathan, having fired the kids and Betty before the execs gave their seal of approval, comes to their house to beg and plead for them to shoot more commercials for them. Betty vehemently refuses because she didn’t like how they were treated, which is probably our first parenting win in this series.

This episode was kinda drab, but it was fun enough to hold my attention.

4B: Little Dude –

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen4

This is one my absolute favorite early season episodes. It’s extremely cute and funny with many memorable moments, but the highlight is Ramone/Rocko.

Before we get started, does anyone remember that Didi was a high school Home Ec. teacher? It’s really, really easy to forget because they hardly ever talk about it or show her at school. I was a die-hard Rugrats fan for well over a decade and even I barely remembered that she was a teacher.

Anyhoo, Didi brings Tommy to school as a learning aid as she teaches her class how to change a diaper, which I can’t decide if that’s a parenting fail or not. Don’t they usually use baby dolls for this? Isn’t it kinda weird to use an actual baby with an actual poopy diaper? Isn’t it just flatout better to use a baby doll anyway because it’s not like everyone in the class can change Tommy. Not everyone would get a chance to do it themselves.

Like typical teenagers, they can’t bring themselves to change him because ew, but then the coolest guy ever walks in – Ramone also known as Rocko. Ramone looks like a typical ‘cool’ guy. He’s got the leather jacket, the slicked back hair, the sunglasses, the chains etc. But unlike your cliché leather-toting ‘cool’ guy, Ramone actually is incredibly cool. He walks in like a boss, has everyone step aside and changes Tommy flawlessly. Tommy then adorably steals and wears his sunglasses, which Ramone thinks is very cool. I agree, Tommy looks really cool with those glasses on.

Ramone explains that he has a baby brother at home so he’s used to changing diapers. Using his comb, he dubs him ‘Little Dude’ and Tommy instantly takes a shine to him.

Once class is dismissed, some girls convince Didi to let them hang out with Tommy while she’s on her lunch break and she agrees. The girls really like Tommy, but while they’re dealing with some jerk football player they accidentally leave him on the tailgate of a truck that pulls away without them noticing.

I am going to give the girls a break for ignoring Tommy for a bit, but I’m going to ding them for leaving him on the tailgate. He could’ve easily fallen off and gotten severely injured or killed either by wandering off the edge or by the force of the truck pulling away. To their credit, they do quickly realize he’s missing and run all over the place trying to find him, but still.

While wandering, Tommy finds Ramone, but he soon walks away without noticing Tommy. He drops his comb, and Tommy tries to find Ramone to return it to him. Tommy’s forlorn face when Ramone leaves the room without realizing he’s there is so heartbreaking.

Then we have the epic cafeteria scene where the jerk football player from before and Ramone end up facing off and wiping food on each other after Tommy accidentally gets pudding on the football guy’s jersey. When a full-on food fight breaks out, because cafeteria scene in the 90s, the football jerk angrily picks up Tommy. Ramone instantly stops all of the chaos with a single sentence when he demands the jerk give Tommy to him. Ramone puts Tommy in his leather jacket, leaves the room and instantly allows the food fight to resume as he leaves the doorway.

This guy is too amazing for words.

Tommy is eventually returned to the girls, one of whom instantly falls in mutual love with Ramone at first sight. Aw that’s sweet…Girl, seriously, nab him up. He’ll be an awesome dad. If he treats you anywhere near as well as he treated Tommy here, or even Didi, he was very nice to her too, he’ll be a perfect guy for you.

The girls return Tommy to Didi, who is none the wiser of what happened, but is happy to hear the girls learned a lot from their experience with Tommy. Returning Ramone’s comb to him, Ramone lets Tommy keep his sunglasses, which are still super cool, and Ramone bids farewell to the Little Dude.

I left some stuff out for the sake of brevity and because I’d just be ruining jokes for you, but this is a really great episode with some adorable and hilarious moments and a really cool and likable character. I would’ve loved to see Ramone/Rocko return, but alas, he was a one-off.

Parenting Fails

4A – I won’t ding Betty too much for handing off Lil to the Best Boy because she needed to be somewhere to help Phil, and she probably just assumed he would be competent enough to hold a baby for five minutes, but I will ding the Best Boy because he didn’t even try to hold her for longer than five seconds. He instantly plopped her on the filthy floor and ignored her. That’s bad enough, but then she ends up climbing into the rafters and nearly falling to her death all because he’s a lazy gluttonous slob. X5

Once Lil has everyone’s attention, literally no one watches Phil, which leaves him open for causing havoc on the ground. He gets ahold of one of the camera dollies and nearly crashes into the diaper pyramid. X3

4B – Not much here. I’ll ding the tailgate thing (x3), as I said, but considering Didi was trying to teach her students about child care, there were three girls watching him and she was only allowing it for a lunch break, even telling them to find her if he gets fussy, I won’t get on her case.

Tally: 11


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Owl House

Plot: Luz is a self-proclaimed weirdo, and she usually has no problem showing it. However, those around her have problems with it, including her mother. While Luz’s interests and behaviors are generally harmless, though a bit chaotic, Luz’s mother urges her to just be normal. She even signs her up for a summer camp that emphasizes being normal as much as humanly possible and tells her to trash her weird stuff, including one of her favorite books on a fictional witch. Luz is not happy about this, but for the sake of her mom she decides to go along with it.

As she’s about to get picked up for summer camp, she’s lead away to a mysterious door that brings her to the Boiling Isles, a world where human things are a mysterious novelty and myths and monsters reign. She meets the Owl Lady, the great witch, Eda, who promises to bring her back home to her world if she helps her with a special task.

Breakdown: Cards on the table, I’m kinda cheating here. I’ve seen several episodes of The Owl House and have enjoyed every one I’ve caught. However, I’ve never seen the first episode, and Disney+ just got the series, so I’m not cheating too much here.

The Owl House does seem to work on a somewhat tired premise – kid who thinks they don’t belong finding a place they belong in a mysterious new world – but they do it with such a cool flair and a lot of clever writing that I won’t even ding it for that. I won’t lie, when Luz mentioned that one of the reasons that she’s weird is because she makes AMVs and writes fanfiction, I literally almost gasped at how eerily relatable that was to me when I was her age.

I will ding it a tiny bit for being too on-the-nose with their message – it’s okay to be weird and it’s wrong to punish people for their quirks. For most of the episode, it’s fine, but the start of the episode is just too much. Like, I get how they want us to like her mom, and it’s clear that she loves her, but she’s basically telling her daughter to her face that she’d love her much more if she just changed her entire personality and conformed in the most boring way possible. She also encouraged her to get rid of something as innocuous as a fantasy book about witches.

Everything else was really great, though. The writing is snappy, funny, clever and exciting, the characters are a bunch of fun, especially Eda, the art and environments are really cool, the animation is fluid and well done, Luz is easily identifiable and lovable, same for King, who has one of the coolest designs I’ve seen in a long time.

As an introduction episode, it does its job extremely well. You’re introduced to the premise, their universe and the characters in a natural manner that is paced very well. It doesn’t introduce some huge conflict or evil that will need to be addressed like many shows of this type tend to do. And, honestly, I prefer it that way. Not every show needs to make big promises it probably can’t keep anyway, and sometimes a more laid-back approach is better. This episode definitely leaves you wanting more either way. I look forward to finally watching every episode, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for The Owl House.

Continue Yes

Recommended Audience: It’s Disney so it’s nothing too bad, but they do show limbs and heads being cut off as non-graphically as you can, and they mention death a few times. 7+