CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 2: Secret Spot/Ice Queens

CSBS - Rocket Power Ep 2a

Plot: Secret Spot – Ocean Shores is overrun by tourists, so Otto and Reggie decide to take Twister and Sam to their father’s legendary secret spot – an incredibly secret beach where the waves are always perfect and they have the whole area to themselves.

Ice Queens – Otto, Reggie, Sam and Twister are heading to Winter Fest to participate in a hockey championship. However, their practice keeps getting sidetracked by Reggie and Clio, Twister’s cousin, constantly fighting. Clio looks down on Reggie for liking hockey and not being feminine while Reggie continuously bites back with little respect towards Clio’s girly views and sport of choice – ice dancing.

Breakdown: Secret Spot – Goddamn this episode is boring…and it’s another episode I remember like the script was burned into my brain.

Seriously, this episode….is so boring. Nothing of interest happens. The one running joke throughout the whole run time is one of the characters telling the other where the secret spot is and the information is blocked out by some loud noise so the audience, whom this information would be useless to, can’t hear it, because it’s just that secret.

They act like them going to the secret spot won’t divulge the information either. Like, why does Twister absolutely need to know where the spot is before they go? Why does Lars need to threaten the location out of him if he basically just follows him there?

The only other running gag is a really, really, really drawn out dialogue where a character will ask if they’re talking about THE secret spot and then go on to ask questions that are variants of ‘You mean the secret spot that’s really secret?’

If there’s one thing I can say for this episode it’s that I liked the little moment at the end where Otto and, especially Twister, apologize to Sam for yelling at him for accidentally spilling the beans to Lars about the secret spot (Twister gave him the information the night before, so he already knew anyway) and Sam responds by calling Twister a Squid. The look Twister gives after that and the scene as a whole shows that they’ve really grown as friends, which is saying something because Twister tends to rag on Sam the most.

I guess I also liked the twist where they explain that they never actually told them where the secret spot is – they left out one big detail, so Lars and the others end up thinking a rocky nightmare beach is the spot.

That does not make up for the boring tedium of this episode, though.

Can I ask a question that’s been bugging me for over a decade though? Is ‘shoobie’ a real word in beach-side towns? It feels like it could be, but it also feels like something they made up.

CSBS - Rocket Power Ep 2b

Ice Queens – Hey, if you want a nice taste of ‘dated’ Sam refers to a 12GB hard drive as ‘huge’ in this episode. Fun fun.

If there was one episode I was simultaneously looking forward to and dreading, it was this one. Looking forward to because I really related with this episode when I was a kid and dreading because I was really worried it would be one of those episodes that is actually horrible in hindsight.

I was, and still am I guess, a tomboy, if such a phrase is still used today (Goddamn, this whole episode is making me feel old) I was never really into extreme sports or anything like Reggie is, but being into geeky things, having mostly male friends, dressing more boy-ish, watching shows more directed towards guys and being a little rough earned me the moniker.

I never minded. I was quite content with who I was. It wasn’t like I was inherently averse to girly things, either. I had plenty of Barbies and stuffed animals and such. I even had my own fake kitchen, which I feel awkward admitting because I feel like I’m being sexist…to myself………I also had a toy vacuum, what the shit? Uh, anyway, I liked ‘girly’ things, I just wasn’t as interested in them.

Still, I was mocked for being a ‘tomboy’ by some of the more popular girly girls, and sometimes it was irritating to hear that I couldn’t do this or that or have this or that because they were ‘meant for boys.’

Something I always give my parents credit for, however, is, despite their conservative and religious natures, they never had a problem giving me ‘boy’ things like wrestler toys, Power Ranger merchandise or encouraging me to do ‘boy-ish’ things like watch and play basketball. My mom got a little irritated that I never ‘grew out of it’ when I got a lot older, but she never really made me feel bad about it.

That’s why I related so much to Reggie. She’s an awesome, intelligent, kick-ass girl who can do anything the boys can do, and many times do it better.

Here, her femininity is called into question by a clashing girly-girl, Clio, Twister’s cousin, whose name spelling annoys me. Clio is here for an ice dancing competition, because of course she is. She’s even got the pink tutu and everything. Let it be known that I am not ragging on Clio for being a typical girly-girl – that would make a hypocrite – I am ragging on her a little because she’s acting like being a girly-girl makes her better than Reggie.

I’m 100% certain Reggie would have no issue with this girl if she wasn’t acting like enjoying pink and being preoccupied with fashion made her better than Reggie. Even if they don’t like the same things, Reggie is a very level-headed and kind girl. She’d likely make friends with her anyway if she were actually nice.

This clash of the estrogen culminates in Reggie and Clio making a bet that the other can do their sport just as easily as the other can, which I’m cool with – walk a mile in the other’s shoes and all. I also appreciate that the others don’t make fun of Reggie when she’s ice dancing. They cheer her on and are impressed with her skills. Otto even says that he thinks ice dancing is cool. I liked that.

All that said, the climax of this episode is ridiculously dumb.

1 – Clio has absolutely no experience whatsoever in hockey. How was she skilled enough to make all of those great moves and even score the winning goal? Just because she’s a skilled ice dancer does not make her a skilled hockey player.

I thought I could justify this by saying she’s been hearing the others go over plays the entire ride over and she’s seen them practice, but that’s nowhere near enough to warrant that kind of jump in skill.

2 – Reggie has absolutely no experience whatsoever in ice dancing. How was she skilled enough to (nearly) win an ice dancing competition? (I say ‘nearly’ because she was DQ’d for standing in for Clio.)

Where did she learn how to do all those moves? How did she know Clio’s routine so quickly? Yes, she’s a skilled ice skater, being a hockey player, but, like with Clio, that does not make you an ice dancer.

3 – How were Otto and the others not also disqualified? Clio took Reggie’s place in the match without telling anyone. Isn’t that also cheating?

While we’re on the subject, while Clio may have agreed to risking her championship for a dumb rivalry, why would Reggie do the same? She could’ve nearly gotten her team DQ’d and wasted all of their hard work for, again, a petty rivalry.

4 – How does this fix their problem at all if both of them were insanely good at the other’s sport with barely an ounce of trying? The argument was –

Clio – “Hockey’s easy! Anyone could do it!”

Reggie – “Ice dancing’s insanely easy!”

If they both won championship level competitions with, maybe, a few hours of practice, that kinda just proves to themselves that they were right about their positions. It would’ve been better to have them in situations where there was nothing official on the line and had them try their hands at the other’s sport there. Then have them both fail miserably and gain a better respect for the other’s sport.

Maybe have them be super determined to learn more about the sport so they can show the other up then develop a real interest in it through the research and practice.

5 – I don’t quite understand how Otto and the others are even in some hockey championship. First of all, they don’t even have enough players for a true hockey match. They have four players, counting their goalie, and the usual minimum is six on each side.

Do they even have an official team in the first place that somehow lead to them being here? They only play against one team during the entirety of Winter Fest and win trophies because of it.

Finally, why does it seem like the opposing team is made up of 16 year olds? Otto and the others are about 10-12. Are there not age brackets? This hardly seems fair.

All in all, I like this episode, but it kinda feels like the ending screws everything up. It’s nice that Clio and Reggie have found some mutual respect for the other, including their chosen sports, but I just think they did it in a way that both didn’t make sense and was extremely contrived.

This episode did spawn one of my favorite, seldom used, insults, though.

Otto: “Hey! Why don’t you pick on somebody with your own steroid dosage!?”


Secret Spot – 1/10

Ice Queens – 6.5/10


CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 2

CSBS Fillmore Episode 2

Plot: X-Middle School is undergoing the arduous test of the Satty-9, and it’s been tearing the students apart. Some protest the test’s existence, other freak out over the their performance and Ingrid, despite her certain high score, undergoes an internal struggle of the true importance of the Satty-9. So many students have skills, knowledge and creativity that simply cannot be measured in the multiple choice nightmare. When the completed tests are suddenly stolen by someone in the school mascot’s uniform, Ingrid finds herself contemplating whether it’s for the best.

Breakdown: I remember this being one of my favorite episodes when I was a kid, and I have a deeper respect for this episode now that I’ve gone through several CATs and the SATs. I never stressed much over the CATs but the SATs were a nightmare for me. Everyone crams and stresses over their grade, and a surprising amount feel like that one number score will be a defining characteristic stuck to their lives. It’s hard to have that moment of reflection where you say ‘Whatever happens, this doesn’t reflect my actual intelligence or worth as a person.’

I also appreciate that Ingrid was the one struggling with this, because typically genius characters don’t find tests to be such a big deal, no matter their weight. They seem relatively blind to the hardships and stresses of the non-geniused students around them. Ingrid sees and appreciates the various kinds of skills and talents that everyone has around her and feels bad that the test doesn’t care about intelligence or achievements in these realms, no matter how much these same students prepare for it.

Her moment of faltering was truly just one moment, but it was a pretty powerful one.

Fillmore: “The Satty-9 may be beat, but there’s a right way to fight it. Protests. Giant banners. Editorials. Hard jams with even harder rhymes. Going the other way’s a sucker move. We have a job. We don’t make the rules.”

Ingrid: “I only forgot that for a second.”

Fillmore: “But Ingrid….you forgot that.”

I’ll also give this episode props because I honestly didn’t catch on to who the perp was. Like so many instances, I figured it was a person who only ended up being the second-to-last suspect. And I will admit, it was pretty clever the way they set it up. We even get some pretty funny jokes and references. I honestly don’t remember Fillmore ever including a Pokemon reference, but there it was.

This episode was also a nice build on Fillmore and Ingrid’s friendship. Fillmore doesn’t chew Ingrid out for what she did. He understands her feelings and leads her to a place where she’ll learn the lesson on her own. Plus, that scooter and helmet are awesome. Damn, I wish I had a Razor scooter when I was a kid. Stupid kids getting hurt making my paranoid parents say no.

Rating: 9.5/10

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 1


Plot: Episode 1A – Dave, Fang, Princess Candy and Oswidge rush into the Enchanted Forest to take down a giant muffin monster. While attempting to vanquish it with Lula, Dave’s magical sword, he accidentally gets her stuck in a stump. While they manage to defeat the muffin, they find that they cannot pull Lula out of the stump. The sprite of the stump reveals that whosoever manages to pull Lula out shall be ruler of Udrogoth. But what happens if no one can?

Episode 1B – Dave feels lost in life and, after reading some self-help scrolls, decides to become a psychofloobocologist to help people. When his ‘helping’ unleashes an ancient evil monster upon Udrogoth, he decides to talk the beast down.

Breakdown: Alright! Dave the Barbarian! This is another one of those short lived shows that I really loved, and I hate Disney for cutting this show’s life so short. It was a self-aware clever and fairly meta show about a royal family trying to manage protecting their kingdom while the king and queen are off battling evil. Candy is a self-absorbed teenage girl, Dave is a prissy yet super muscular and kind ‘barbarian’, Fang is a vicious wild girl who loves nothing more than beating things up and Oswidge is a subpar wizard. With them is Lula, the wisecracking magical sword, and Faffy, a little dragon-like creature who looks somewhat crossed with a pig.

They get into all sorts of ridiculous situations in the medieval fantasy land of Udrogoth and usually just barely manage to scrape by. Dave the Barbarian came into play right as the Disney Channel was starting to get less invested in fun and creative shows and more interested in manufactured pre-teen drivel.

But how does it really hold up?

Episode 1A is basically a parody of the story of King Arthur, just with a gross and prick-ish stump sprite shaking things up….oh and yeah the giant muffin.

It really is just awesome how you can easily hook into everyone’s personalities and the atmosphere just in a few minutes. I think almost all of the jokes hit just as well, if not better, with me than they did when I was younger. You don’t really predict many of the jokes, and it’s not too in-your-face with meta humor. It’s just taking a very typical setting and having some fun with it by making weird monsters and insane situations that you’d never expect.

I do have to ask though; how is the person who pulls out Lula the ruler of Udrogoth? Sure its owners are the royal family, but technically Lula ‘belongs’ to Dave, and he’s just a prince. He’s not even the oldest child. Candy is the only one usually referred to with her title intact, and she was the one put in charge while the king and queen are away.

There are some pretty good jokes in here, though not every one is smile-worthy. I especially liked Lula in this episode, though she’s great all the time.

Episode 1B is basically one big poke at psychology, going through all of the tropes like constantly asking ‘how does that make you feel?’ over and over, thinking talking is the end-all solution to everything, and of course, ‘all of your problems are because of your mother’. I gotta say, as a psych major, this episode kinda irked me. I’m fully aware that psychology is not an exact science, but I find myself getting increasingly annoyed by the TV tropes of brushing off psychology as a joke. It’s not so much that I don’t like poking fun at something I find interesting; it’s moreso that it will just keep perpetuating stereotypes about psychology and mental health issues as a whole.

That mini-rant out of the way, this episode is pretty entertaining and warranted a few smiles out of me, but I find it to be not as funny or well-written as the first episode. Mostly because, not only is it mostly a big psychology joke, but they also keep repeating the same jokes, more or less.

Overall, I’d give A an 8/10 and B a 7/10, earning this whole episode a 7.5/10

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Fillmore! Episode 1


Plot: When the brand new high-tech bathroom stalls are riddled with graffiti by someone calling themselves ‘Stainless’, Fillmore and Ingrid have to enter the world of artists and taggers to find out who the culprit is.

Breakdown: I absolutely love procedural dramas. NCIS, CSI, Castle, Criminal Minds, Bones etc etc etc., and I can thank Fillmore! For spawning that love.

Fillmore first aired on ABC’s One Saturday Morning as a school-themed parody of old 1970’s cop shows with the safety patrol replacing the cops. Think Recess if it was at a slightly higher age range and was a procedural drama. It was sadly canceled after a mere two seasons due to low ratings, even though the 26 episode run is essentially one season. Rumor also has it that the tone was a bit too serious and ‘dark’ for the ABC cartoon lineup. Pfft. What could possibly be dark about a show created by Scott Gimple?…….the executive producer of The Walking Dead……

Jokes aside, this show serious? Have they never heard of parodies? Yes, the subject matter they’re parodying is kinda mature, but they’re adapting it towards a tween audience. The stuff they cover in the series is ridiculous kid and school stuff presented in a serious manner; one of the main reasons why it’s funny.

I loved the hell out of Fillmore! And couldn’t have been sadder when it was canceled. It’s even worse considering that the show isn’t even available on VHS or DVD. Everything about it was just so cool and funny. I loved how over exaggerated and film-noir-ish it was. The characters were great, the setting was great, the theme song was one of the best cartoon theme songs ever, and the writing was spot-on with only some minor cheese here and there. Well, now that I’m older and analyzing the show thoroughly, how does it really stand up?

Here’s the thing; before Fillmore! I had never really watched many police shows or movies. I was a tweenage girl at the time this came out. I was more preoccupied with anime, drawing, cartoons and boy bands. Even then, I still loved this show. Now that I have plenty of police and forensic shows and movies under my belt, I actually find this even more entertaining because I can tell what they’re spoofing at pretty much every corner. I can’t tell all the references, but I can definitely play ‘spot the trope spoof’

For instance, the crime itself is kinda played off like finding a murder scene where the murderer, who coins his own name through his signature, writes on the walls in blood….err, red marker.

In order to solve this crime, Fillmore and Ingrid recruit a master tagger and artist who is basically one big serial killer spoof. He’s kept under total detention lockdown every day after he went on a tagging spree. He’s held in solitary confinement with all writing instruments taken away from him, which must make his schoolwork a nightmare. He’s incredibly knowledgeable on his craft and loves teasing Fillmore and Ingrid with answers that he knows but refuses to share since that would just be no fun.

Fillmore and Ingrid are even police drama tropes. Fillmore is a former juvenile delinquent who became the safety patrol’s top investigator. He sips hot chocolate, makes witty one-liners, has incredible insight and is sometimes a ‘loose cannon’ who struggles with his past.

Ingrid is a new kid in school, new as Fillmore’s partner too, who is also a genius with a photographic memory, making her a fantastic researcher and sleuth. She has a goth look about her, but they don’t do anything with it. Unlike a lot of veteran cop/rookie pairings, Ingrid and Fillmore actually get along very well, which is more of a play on how procedural dramas are now with ‘tension’ between the leads a la Bones, CSI, NCIS, Law and Order SVU.

Of course, you also have to have the boss of the whole operation, in this case the Jr. Safety Commissioner Vellejo, who is usually there to scold Fillmore and Ingrid for any damage they cause while trying to catch perps and to put a fire under their asses to get the case solved quicker.

You even have the ‘politician’ or ‘District Attorney’ trope in Ms. Folsom, who is usually constantly stressing about the cases in order to keep up appearances and maintain the safety and integrity of the school. She’s also on the safety patrol’s asses to get the cases wrapped up quickly and cleanly.

We’ve got red herrings, evidence analysis, slight hints here and there throughout the episode as to who the perp really is. It is a bit easy to figure out who the culprit is if you pay attention, but it is a tween show.

This episode has always been one of my favorites because of how they portray Randall Julian, the ‘serial killer tagger’ who helps Fillmore and Ingrid, the fact that art is the main theme here and how well it sets up the series as a whole, all the while emerging you quite well in the fun world they have set up, distracting you from how silly it actually is and making it seem very cool…

Seriously, take yourself out of the show for a minute andsoak in the story; they’re hunting down someone who is drawing on bathroom stalls with a marker while getting help from a sociopathic macaroni artist turned tagger with the ‘street name’ of Flava Sava with their prime suspects being a guy who likes to draw toilets and pour paint on himself, a guy whose newest masterpiece is coloring in a black dot with 1000 layers of ink and a hippie girl who poops outside because she hates unnatural things.

Also, I won’t spoil who the culprit is, but let’s just say that the actual perp is even weirder that these three.

The action is also usually creative and fun, but there’s one thing you have to keep in mind when the culprit is revealed. It doesn’t matter how far or fast they run; they’re at school. They can’t leave school grounds and even if they don’t catch them, you can just as easily contact their parents. Really the only reason Fillmore and Ingrid need to catch the perps themselves is because Folsom is too fed up with the lack of progress in the case and threatens to shut down the safety patrol nearly every episode if they don’t have the perp by the final bell or within a day or so.

The final standoff between Fillmore and Randall Julian was also great. Hell, it was better than his confrontation with the actual perp. To be honest, the entire thing with Randall was better than the actual plot. As a bonus, Randall is voiced by Josh Peck. And yes, it is trippy.

While we’re on the topic of the voice work, which is great, Fillmore is voiced by Orlando Brown, who does a great job bringing that classic attitude and coolness to the character. Ingrid is voiced by Tara Strong, who I don’t believe needs an introduction. And Anza, one of the background safety patrollers, is voiced by Danny Tamberelli, and if you recognize that name, you get an Internet hug.

All in all, this episode was really great and I loved every minute of it. It’s just subtle enough to be a slight challenge to viewers to figure out what’s really going on while not being so complicated or even unfair in its storytelling that the viewer would have difficulty following along. The characters are all very likable, even most of the suspects and perps, and this series really did just get even better to me after I watched those procedural dramas.

Here’s to another 25 episodes, but is there a rat within this lost gem?

Rating: 9.5/10

Three-Year Blogiversary!

WordPress just pressed the word that today is my Blogiversary!




The Anime Madhouse is now three years old. Seems like just yesterday I was changing its diapers, burping it and making formatting errors that make me cry. I think I’ve done much better this year in regards to uploading more and more (even though I completely spaced on doing my Valentines Day special. Whoops) and we even got a much needed facelift for the place last month. (Yes, at three years old you need a facelift, blog. Wait until you’re five, we’ll get you a boob job.) Thanks to everyone who has been reading and commenting on my posts. You’re all love incarnate. ❤

Well, okay, you’re not Cupids because I am not going back to the diaper phase.

Here’s to three years and onto year four!


Cartoons Step-By-Step: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Episode 1 -Things Change


Plot: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are four turtles that have been mutated into anthropomorphic beings by strange ooze. Throughout their lives, they have been trained in the art of the ninja by their master, Splinter, an anthropomorphic rat and ninja master.

When their sewer home is infiltrated and destroyed by mouser robots, the turtles are separated from their master. They’re able to contact Splinter via shell phone to confirm that he is alright, but they still have the task of finding out who sent the mouser robots, finding a new place to live and reuniting with Splinter.

Trapped, with the integrity of the tunnel compromised, the boys decide to hit the surface world for another route the sewers. Raphael is forced to dash and hide all over the street to avoid being seen by other people while in search of another manhole cover to reenter the sewers in. They manage to find another manhole, but it’s being blocked by huge truck that some gang members are currently using to perform a robbery.

While Raph tries to move the truck, they hear the gang members start to return, so Raph quickly hides in the truck, only to be locked in as the gangsters leave. As Leo, Mikey and Donny try to follow Raph, Splinter gets cornered by mousers in the sewer.

Once they catch back up with the truck, Donny manages to open the electronic lock and free Raph, but their reunion is shortlived when the gang members return and face off against the turtles. However, the boys easily defeat the entire crew and the gangsters run off. Just as they celebrate their victory, they find themselves surrounded again; this time by a mysterious group of ninjas. While the turtles struggle to take down the ninjas, Splinter manages to defeat the mouser robots.

However, the damage done by the robots causes the floor to crumble beneath him, leading him to an unexplored area of the sewers.

The turtles take the truck, escape from the ninjas and return the stolen money to the cops as they get back to the sewer and reunite with Splinter. He leads the boys to a huge chamber that they’ll be calling their home from now on since their previous one was destroyed.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man meets with the gang leader from earlier as he relays the information about the lost truck and money. He’s not with mercy from his master, and screams ring out from within the temple.


I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, past and present. They have such a ridiculously goofy premise that works so well that it has managed to stay not only relevant but very popular throughout many different incarnations.

The 2003 version, co-produced by ew4Kids is known as one of the darker versions, though still not touching the original comic’s darkness. When this first aired, I watched it fairly closely but I won’t deny that I was a bigger fan of the 80’s version.

So what does episode one bring to the table? Well, first, there’s no explaining the backstory of the turtles at all, which is odd because the theme song, unlike the 80s version, doesn’t talk about it at all. Yes, TMNT is so popular and well-known that most people already know of the backstory, but considering how silly the concept is, you’d think they’d take the opportunity to explain to the younger folks in the audience as to why everything is as it is.

That being said, they do a great job of not only keeping the turtles loyal to their specific personalities, but they also update them a little to appeal to a more current audience. Mikey and Raph in particular had some great moments and lines, some even earning legitimate laugh out loud moments.

The story is solid enough; the turtles are forced above ground and meet up with some thugs in an effort to get back home and things aren’t quite as they seem. They run into even more trouble with a more viable threat and regroup back home with Master Splinter. Nothing groundbreaking, but a decent amount of action, suspense and little tidbits for the more seasoned TMNT viewer such as poking at Shredder and interrupting Mikey before he can fully say ‘Cowabunga’.

I honestly didn’t remember that the Purple Dragon gang worked for Shredder, but it makes a lot of sense.

A few things were left up in the air though, like who sent the mouser robots and why. Shredder didn’t seem to as he doesn’t seem to know of the turtles at this point and the gang leader didn’t mention anything about them.

Also minor and expected, but for an episode that spent a decent chunk of time teaching the turtles that they need to be as hidden as possible, even during an attack, they sure did give mixed signals in one scene. Mikey does what he does and decides to stand out in broad daylight right in front of a thug for like ten seconds making a joke before attacking the guy. This wouldn’t be a big deal if Leo didn’t praise him for it. Yes, he did knock out the thug, but he just broke the main rule of both ninjas and their family to make a joke.

The art and animation are actually pretty nice. I should be clear and say 4Kids only had a hand in this series’ production. It was co-produced by Mirage studios with the art and animation being done by Dong Woo Animation. I’ve seen some people criticize the 2003 art for being a bit too muscular and craggy, but I actually like it quite a bit. It fits in well with the environment that’s been created, and it suits the darker and more serious tone better than the curvy cartoony 80s version.

The music is also pretty well done. I don’t know if 4Kids made the theme song, but I wouldn’t be surprised as it’s an earworm with some kinda cheesy lyrics. The BG music fits well with the series, and it does a good job at amping up some action while also not interfering with the more lighthearted moments.

Overall, this is a pretty good episode. Not anything epic or even great, but it was still enjoyable the whole time through with some great jokes and action.

Rating: 8/10

AVAHS – Hey Arnold! Arnold’s Christmas


Plot: Arnold has chosen the quiet and reserved Mr. Hyunh in the secret Santa selection, but he has no clue what to get him. Mr. Hyunh seems to be especially down around the holidays, so Arnold decides to sit down with him and ask him what type of special gift he’d want for Christmas. Mr. Hyunh shoots down every suggestion, and the conversation eventually leads to the real reason behind his sorrow.

When Mr. Hyunh still lived in Vietnam, he had a very young daughter named Mai. While trying to escape Vietnam during the war, he was only able to pass off his daughter to an American rescue worker without being able to escape himself for over 20 years. The rescue worker tried to relay information about where they’d be taking Mai to Mr. Hyunh, but he was unable to hear under the roar of the choppers. Ever since he made it to America, he’s been looking for her, but has been unsuccessful.

Arnold decides to take it upon himself to give Mr. Hyunh the ultimate Christmas gift; reuniting him with daughter. But can he really handle such a huge task before Christmas arrives?

Breakdown: I really cannot emphasize enough how much Nickelodeon means to my childhood. I basically lived and breathed Nickelodeon for most of it, and despite its problems I still hold a precious place in my heart for Nickelodeon today, especially when it comes to the classic NickToons.

Hey Arnold! was one of my favorite NickToons. It was such a great blend of realism and embellishment. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny most of the time, but it was relatable and interesting. It taught me a lot of lessons and felt like a show to watch when you just wanted to mellow out and feel like another friend in the city.

Arnold’s Christmas is one of the most, if not the most, well-known and emotionally impacting Christmas special to ever come out of Nickelodeon. It’s beloved to fans of the show, non-fans and even people who have never seen any other episode but this one. From start to finish, it really is such a beautifully written, wonderfully directed and simply amazing Christmas special.

Arnold has a huge heart of pure gold doing everything in his power to find Mr. Hyunh’s daughter. It’s not a totally unrealistic goal; it’s just an incredibly difficult task to achieve in the time frame they have. It’s touching how much work Arnold will put in to find Mai, and you also have to deeply respect Gerald for sticking by his buddy and helping him the whole time, especially when he could be spending this time with his family.

The story of Mr. Hyunh’s daughter is also just terribly sad; on the same level of Arnold losing his parents. To think that they’d actually include heavy references to the Vietnam War in a NickToon is just amazing to start with. To have a character being immersed in that event, seemingly experiencing all of it since he wasn’t able to escape until it was over, is even more amazing. I always love when they actually make emotional, realistic and impacting backstories for side characters. It gives them a lot more depth and makes them real people, creating a more realistic social circle and environment.

Then there’s Helga’s part in this story. For those not in the know, Helga is basically the school bully who puts particular focus on Arnold, but is secretly deeply in love with him. Pretty much any time that she does something nice for him, it’s in secret since doing such nice things would maybe lead on that Helga is nicer than she seems and would maybe give her secret away.

I won’t spoil it, but basically she holds the key to Arnold succeeding in his mission, and it’s up to her to take a blow in regards to her big Christmas gift in order to make Christmas magic happen for Arnold. It makes for one of the more touching Helga moments of the series.

I guess I can’t get around spoiling the absolute ending, which is Mai actually being found and brought to Mr. Hyunh before Christmas is done. I only say this because, well, this is a part that brings up a huge flaw in this episode. Yes, Mr. Hyunh being reunited with his daughter, who is now in her early 20s, is beautiful and touching, but the sad fact of the matter is, Mai is just a one-off character.

She never, ever appears in the series again. Which is not only disappointing on so many levels considering how much crap and sacrifices Arnold and even Gerald and Helga made to make this whole arrangement happen, but it’s also a bit infuriating because the guy that they need to do a bunch of stuff for in order to find Mai, Mr. Bailey, does reappear in the series; in the damn movie no less! And Mai only gets a brief appearance at the end and never shows up again. She can’t live too far away considering how quickly she arrived, so what gives?

I would also really like to know what happened to Mai’s mother. There is no mother present in those flashbacks to Vietnam and Mr. Hyunh in the states is single. I guess I can assume she died, but I’d really like some follow-up.

Another criticism might be in how Arnold and Gerald did manage to get Mai found in just a few days. Like I said, pulling that off really is a great show of the power of Christmas spirit, maybe even going so far as to say it’s a Christmas Miracle, but how much was Mr. Hyunh actually looking for Mai over the past few years if he’s never managed to find her? Or did he really not have the sleuthing skills of a nine-year-old?

Not really a criticism and moreso a confusing note; snow boots are the big ‘gotta have’ Christmas item of the year? I know they’re signature Nancy Spumoni (spoof of Nancy Kerrigan?) snow boots, but really? Every kid is clamoring to get boots for Christmas?

Overall, this is a beautiful, touching and interesting Christmas special that can stand on its own just fine but is also a staple for Hey Arnold! fans. It doesn’t rely on the same topics of Christmas specials like Santa (in fact, they note on the Wiki page that Santa’s never even mentioned in the special) or consumerism (though it is kinda touched upon) and it doesn’t try to shoehorn in musical numbers or carols. It’s just a simple story of a little kid trying to make a perfect Christmas for someone who deserves it, even if he doesn’t know him too well.

For the record, I’m aware that they’re finally releasing the Jungle Movie in November of 2017. I am indeed excited for it, but I won’t get too far ahead of myself until I see clips of it or something. There’s a lot of plans and stuff for revivals and continuations of classic NickToon stuff, and until I see something substantial, I’m not getting my hopes up. Last time I did that, we got The Last Airbender and I will not go down that road again. I can’t afford that much alcohol.

Recommended Audience: You could say there are dark themes what with the Vietnam War and everything, but there’s absolutely nothing violent or anything. 5+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) BattleTech


Plot: The inner sphere is a federation of numerous planets. While they lived in peace for many years, the planets within their borders have waged centuries of war against each other. During the midst of the wars, the entire federation was attacked by a new enemy who call themselves the clans. Adam Steiner, a man of royalty and high military ranking from the planet Somerset, seeks to wage battle against the clans after they take over his home planet.

Breakdown: The first episode does a meh job of introducing you to the world in which this show takes place. We’re thrown in the middle of the invasion with no idea who anyone is or what’s going on until about four minutes into the show where we get our plot breakdown via the always helpful pre-opening song narration.

After that, it still doesn’t do a great job of introducing us to the main characters. The most prominent ones I remember are Adam, who apparently maybe got a free ride in the military due to his vague royal status on a low ranking planet. He’s seemingly a noble guy who merely wants to save his home planet and he’s a responsible soldier as he still refuses to pass one of his friends in a mech piloting test or give her a second shot at the test since she showed she didn’t have the right frame of mind to pilot them.

Kylie is the student who was failed, and she’s headstrong and a little bitchy. She blames Adam for not passing her or giving her another chance even though she stupidly failed the simulation and got herself virtually killed because she wanted to be a show off. She seems to stay on the Somerset liberation team as a Banshee (plane) pilot…..However, I don’t quite get why she’s good at that but not mech battles. The same mistake she made in that test could easily apply to battle planes.

Then there’s a red headed guy named Ciro who’s just a complete asshole, a guy who is hella into his job as an officer named Hawk, another asshole who was a smuggler turned ally named Sakamoto, some chick with goggles who’s basically there to spout out information and plot developments and that’s about it.

We get no information on the bad guys outside of the fact that they have weird green tattoos on their faces, glowing red eyes sometimes and are evil.

The cast I’ve seen so far is actually incredibly diverse. While some depictions of certain races can be seen as a bit racist, mostly what are meant to be Japanese people, this show is really diverse……Then again, you have to keep in mind that no matter how diverse the cast is, the main character is still a pretty white guy.

The story itself is pretty generic. War with evil invaders and whatnot. We get some mechs which are nice and some cool action scenes given the environment that they live in. They’re really trying to stake their own claim in this genre, but there’s just not enough differentiation as far as I’ve seen.

Art and Animation: I will start by saying this show was a pioneer in combining CGI with traditional animation, and I commend them for that. However, that doesn’t mean that either animation style has stood the test of time. The traditional art is merely passable looking like it belongs more in the mid 80’s than the mid 90’s, and it really didn’t age well. The animation is filled with coloring errors, odd shifts in body parts while talking and is just not very nice to look at. The CGI has not aged well at all. It’s on par with Reboot’s art and animation, which makes sense because Reboot came out right around when this was made. It’s not so much melded with the traditional art and animation, the scene shifts from traditional scenes to scenes made entirely in CGI.

Voices: Half and half. Much of it is pretty good, actually. Others are just flat or kinda stereotype-y, though I can’t fault the actors too much for that since it was the dialogue and direction that made it that way.

Music: Completely forgettable.

Bottomline: I can see how someone would like this and have nostalgia for it, but I don’t see a point in continuing this series. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes, but I believe it’s too predictable and cliché to clinch my attention for further episodes.


Recommended Audience: Some violence, implications of death but nothing outside of that. 5+

Episode One-Derland: Extreme Dinosaurs



Plot: An interdimensional criminal named Argor Zardok has traveled back to the age of the dinosaurs and captured four dinosaurs; a tyrannosaurus rex, a stegosaurus, a pteranodon and a triceratops. Imbuing them with a wealth of knowledge, newly designed bodies and powerful weapons, Argor intended on using them as weapons against the Quadrainians, but found that their wealth of knowledge and power was no good when coupled with so much free thinking. He scrapped them and acquired three raptors with which he performed the same procedure just with less free will.

With his new raptor soldiers at his side, Argor attempted to fight off the Quadrainian officials who were on his tail, but one of the weapons that he equipped his raptor soldier with ended up causing the K-T event, forcing Argor to ditch his raptors and flee in interdimensional travel while a Quadrainian official named Chedra saved the four original dinosaur specimens, herself and inadvertently saved the raptors as well by freezing them all.

Awoken 65 million years in the future by archeologists, the dinosaurs have to take down the group of raptors as they try to destroy the world once more.

Breakdown: At face value, hot damn this is a prime example of X-TREEM 90’s cheese. Just read that plot. Just take a minute and soak that in. Anthropomorphic dinosaurs who have been given immense knowledge and weapons (as well as souped up flying vehicles later in the episode) team up with interdimensional beings to fight anthropomorphic raptors who also have weapons.

Who could honestly screw up a premise that seems that awesome?

Well, they kinda did.

I don’t know if I just can’t access my inner 90’s cheese lover right now, but this show just didn’t really click with me. Like I said, I love the premise, but it seems like it’s trying a bit too hard to be X-TREEM and rushes with a lot of stuff.

Then I thought too much about the premise. Why oh why would you decide to take dinosaurs, make soldiers out of them….only to make them about the size of humans? I mean, they still have plenty of strength, but they have a T-rex on their team and he’s just slightly taller than the average person. Why would you take something that huge, that intimidating, that awesome and make him 6’5?

Then I read that some people feel this is a ripoff of TMNT which I only slightly see in the fact that they’re anthropomorphic animals who join up to fight evil forces.

I mean, if you look too much into it the main cast might be counterparts for the turtles.

T-bone, the T-rex, and yes that’s his actual name, is very easily a counterpart for Raphael. He has the biggest temper and urge to fight.

Bullseye, the pteranodon, might be a counterpart for Mikey because he seems to be the most laid back and jokey one.

Stegz, the stegosaurus, would be a counterpart for Donatello because he’s the tech guy and seemingly the smartest of the group.

Finally, Spike the triceratops would be Leonardo because he’s the one that’s left. T-bone’s the leader so he kinda took that away from him.

Really, I even tried to purposely think of this as a TMNT ripoff and it just doesn’t really work to me.

They also don’t know any martial arts and just basically use blunt street fighting along with their individual powers. T-bone gets a Saurian Stomp ability which basically causes a fissure-like effect, though I fail to see how this is such a custom move for him since all of the Extreme Dinosaurs can do it. Stegz can wrap himself up like Sonic and turn into a giant saw blade. Bullseye has supersonic abilities. And finally Spike can….uhhh…he has a gun thing on his wrist….and his wiki says he’s a—whoops, martial arts expert….*cough*

This show is actually a spinoff of a show called Street Sharks, which definitely sounds more like a TMNT ripoff than this show does, and that show as well as this one are based on a toy line because of course they are.

But all that aside, I guess this show works perfectly fine as a first episode, but it really does feel rushed. I mean, Argor arrives in the Mesozoic and is just like ‘Dinosaurs!? Let me kidnap some and instantly give them insane amounts of intelligence, change their bodies to work more like humans, slap some weapons on them give them a special ability or two and boom, instant soldiers before my Pop-Tarts even come up.’ Then, after making these soldiers, he literally dumps them off at the slightest hint of insubordination and makes new ones out of raptors who are trying to eat his ship.

A really quick battle ensues between Argor and the Quadrainian officers who are pursuing him as well as the dinosaurs and the raptors. Argor stupidly gave the main raptor, Bad Rap, and yes, again, that is his actual name, a gun that, when the beam struck the earth’s surface, like I said in the plot synopsis, started the K-T event…ya know, the event that caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

Chedra, someone I’ll talk about later, stays to save the ‘civilians’ of the dinosaurs while her crew flees to pursue Argor, who is leaving his new raptor soldiers behind for really no reason, and leave the dimension before everything goes to crap. 65 million years later, they’re discovered by the world’s dumbest archeologist. He sees a gigantic functional ship in a mountainside with dinosaur beings in glass tubes and thinks it’s all a big joke by his colleagues. Yes, because I’m so sure they’d spend that amount of time and money just to trick you…

The dinosaurs as well as Chedra and the raptors are awakened and the raptors soon go off to find their brethren in order to…do bad…things of…badness. The wiki says their main goal is the further global warming so that they, as reptiles, can live more comfortably…..which….is…so….dumb.

The main dino-crew, however, are kidnapped by government officials in Roswell, because of course, and are relentlessly pursued by the government while they try to capture the raptors. Along the way, they meet some old guy who runs a dinosaur museum who is not in the least bit surprised at seeing a bunch of anthropomorphic dinosaurs and a blue pointy eared woman on his property. He states he’s used to such things as he lives near Roswell, and the local TV station has even been taken over by the raptors who are trying to recruit other dinosaurs and for some reason raise money.

In the time frame of, I guess, less than an hour, the dinosaurs soup up a bunch of old junky cars into flying vehicles, which they look absolutely ridiculous driving because they look way too small, and for some reason they put handlebars on an old car.

They fly to the TV station, even though they definitely could’ve walked there in the time it must’ve taken to build those vehicles, take out the raptors, but are forced to leave Bad Rap due to their pursuit by the government. They stick the other raptors in the snowy mountains and fly off into the sunset as they lament on the fact that their kind has been wiped out and they don’t belong there anymore. But after about ten seconds of somber reflection, Bullseye gives them the name of the Extreme Dinosaurs and T-bone adopts it instantly as they prepare to hunt down Bad Rap.

As a first episode, the story is rushed but it also explains most of what we need to know. I would’ve liked more time to spend on the group’s personalities or even the personalities of the enemies outside of ‘they’re evil.’ T-bone and maybe Stegz are really the only two who got personalities somewhat solidified here…..Oh yeah….so did she.

Chedra is the reason that, spoilers, I’m dropping this series. Why? Her one and only character trait is to provide us with a NON-STOP NEVERENDING OHMYGODSHUTUP supply of parroted codes and laws from the Quadrainian code book. I mean it, nearly every goddamn line is another law or code that she religiously upholds. Her life is that code book. I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes sweet love to it every night. She never shuts up about it. Never. It was wearing down my last nerve listening to her talk and seeing as how she’s, I suppose, our April O’neal, I can only imagine how much inane code book bullshit she’ll keep spouting out.

The art is….ew. Most of it is passable, but the dinosaurs look like crap and dear god T-bone’s design is just horrid. The animation is equally bad.

The music is fine for the most part. The OP is trying but it just seems like the lyrics are awkward and I can’t catch the beat. And I hate to bring up TMNT again, but if they can make the lyrics of teenage mutant ninja turtles insanely catchy then you really have no excuse to not make something good out of extreme dinosaurs.

Final Verdict:


This probably would’ve been a continue or at least an undecided purely to have some stupid dinosaur fun every now and then, but I cannot and will not put up with Chedra and her ungodly annoying code book anymore.


Episode One-derland (Cartoons) ATOM – Alpha Teens on Machines


Plot: Five teens are recruited by an insanely rich man to test out his various high-tech vehicles. When a prison break occurs, releasing a man named Alexander Paine, the five, especially their leader Axel Manning, take it upon themselves to pursue him since he supposedly killed Axel’s father over a decade ago.

Breakdown: This show is really silly…..but kinda fun?

It kept going on and off me. I couldn’t really get a good lock on how I felt about this show. The premise is simple; five strangers are selected via weird challenge show to test out the latest tech creations of a man named Janus Lee, a man so rich he basically owns the entire city. After a prison break results in the release of a man that Axel has a grudge against, they group up together to stop him. When they find they have failed, they vow to stop him no matter what.

I was going to complain that this seemed like half a story, and it is because it’s a two-parter. But even as a part-one this episode’s second half seems rushed and weird.

I really believe they spent too much time focusing on the game show, especially considering that the show was basically fake. They could’ve started out the episode with introductions to the characters, have them be new recruits to be testers for Lee’s creations simply because they’re X-TREEM and cut a good five minutes down for more exploration. I don’t know what happens in episode two, but I really believe it would work as a standalone.

Speaking of the second half, oh god. First off, just to get this out of the way, COPS? Hellooooo? Rampant escaped convict involved in a really destructive car chase? Kidnaps the guy following him? Yoohoo? Are you there?

Then………I really thought this show would just be focused on X-TREEM sports and cool vehicles and doing crime fighting stuff with that. For the most part, yeah, that’s right, but then…..they introduce magic martial arts.

I’m not kidding even a little. The leader, Axel, because leaders always get the best stuff, knows a martial art called Jo-Lan which makes his eyes glow and allows him to shoot Kamehameha waves or pseudo-Hadokens, if you will, from his hands. Reading the wiki, this martial art only gets more insane and more like arcade game and DBZ fare.

It just does not fit. I thought this universe was just ours in the fairly distant future, then you throw magic martial arts in the mix? You didn’t think your premise was strong enough on its own with cool machines? Hell, the team is called Alpha Teens on MACHINES. Why do you need to bring magic martial arts into it?

At the end, the bad guy gets away and Hawk suddenly leaves because he doesn’t want to damage his precious face while chasing baddies even though he decided to help Axel this time of his own free will, even without knowing the connection between the two of them, and the departure is like a cliffhanger. Gee, wonder if he’ll come back in the next episode.

The characters are pretty much cutouts and stereotypes. Axel, the leader, is brave, responsible, smart, and of course has the most cliché backstory of ‘the villain killed my father. REVENGE!!’ That coupled with the magic martial arts out of nowhere makes this show kinda smell B-Movie-ish

Then you have Hawk, a complete ego-maniac, but one of those ones who is so full of himself and kinda dumb that he doesn’t even have time to be a typical jackass most of the time.

Shark is comic relief and a surfer dude.

Lioness is the girl and man she blinds you with ‘I AM THE GIRL OF THIS GROUP OF X-TREEM TEENS FIGHTING CRIME.’ She’s hot, she can fight though that doesn’t seem to matter much because she still has no effect in her one lone fight and needs to be rescued in some way afterward, and because she’s a lone female in a group of males, she’s so obviously the projected love interest.

So far she has three of the four guys hitting on her, even though, like so many shows before it, it’s so obvious that she’s going to fall for the main guy. They even have the dumb ‘falling on each other’ trope. Oh and if you want to get a good idea of her girlness, her Wikia page reports that her biggest fear is getting fat. Yup.

To be fair, she can seemingly take care of herself and has a good head on her shoulders, but she just matches up so perfectly with her character archetype that it’s appallingly obvious. Hope she gets better with this down the line.

King is a big tough strong guy who is also noble.

Janus Lee is a bit of a doofus for a tech genius with 6000 patents, but seems nice enough.

Alexander Paine is a very very very typical bad guy. Big and muscular, gruff voice, brute with intelligence etc.

No one really stands out or impresses me, though Hawk kinda annoys me.

This show is also directed awkwardly. It has anime-isms like Totally Spies did, though to a lesser degree. They have splitscreens sometimes for no reason. And the most awkward of all, they have this insanely annoying habit of halting a shot, putting a colored filter over it and then overlaying the characters onto that frozen shot while animating what they’re currently doing.

Example, Axel gets Paine to the ground and Paine pulls a laser gun thing on him. You can imagine how this scene would normally be shot quite well, right? In ATOM, they freeze on the shot of Axel being surprised, put a blue filter on it, then overlay the gun on the shot from a different angle and animate Paine getting up in the same manner over the still shot before returning to normal animation. It’s awkward, adds nothing, is very distracting and sometimes even makes scenes confusing. That scene with the gun didn’t show the gun for a good five seconds so I was confused as hell why he was surprised.

The animation itself is merely passable. Despite having a few anime-isms, the show is really not anime style. It’s a somewhat craggy regular western cartoon style with a little bit of Flash-ness to it. The CGI is cel-shaded and looks okay.

The voice acting is pretty good. Everyone seems to be having fun in their roles at least. Plus, Brian Donovan, voice of Davis from Digimon and Rock Lee from Naruto, as well as Tom Kenny of all people is also a bonus.

The music is completely forgettable, and the opening doesn’t do a great job getting you pumped for this supposed X-TREEM show about cool vehicles, machines, fighting and whatnot. It’s a fairly fast song, but awfully quiet and has no real energy.

I’m going to give this show an ‘undecided’, bordering on ‘no’. I’m mostly just hoping that it gets crazier and more fun with a little more time. Maybe it’d become a nice ‘turn off your brain, sit back and enjoy’ kind of show. However, I don’t have too much hope for that, and the directing style is bound to become very annoying.


Recommended audience: Mentions of murder, minor violence, and that’s about it. 7+