CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 1

CSBS - RP EP1A

Plot: New Squid on the Block – In the beautiful California town of Ocean Shores lives Reggie, her brother Otto and their friend Twister. They all enjoy a wide array of extreme sports, but are unable to play street hockey since they don’t have a goalie. A meek and intelligent boy named Sam Dullard moves in across the street, and while Otto and Twister are quick to mock him for his nerdiness, Reggie welcomes him, and he even helps her with her long awaited magazine, The Zine. They try to include Sam in their hockey game, but he flails all over the place, scared to death of the puck and getting hit by the other boys. However, they realize Sam has a talent for blocking pucks and makes him their new goalie.

Down the Drain – Reggie is a housesitter for Mr. Stimpleton as he goes on vacation with Violet. She’s especially tasked with the very specific care of his high-tech pool. However, Otto and Twister have better ideas for the pool.

Breakdown: It’s always nice to go back to a show where you practically have a running teleprompter in your head scrolling down the script as you watch an episode. That was how I felt while returning to Rocket Power. I never realized how much I memorized this show. It’s not that hard to believe since I did love Rocket Power and it was on Nickelodeon all the time, especially in summer, but it’s just not one of those shows I think about too often.

Sadly, I kinda understand why.

Addressing the first half of the first episode, we’re introduced to Sam, known more ‘affectionately’ as the Squid of the group. Sam is a perfectly nice young man, and that’s exactly his problem according to Otto and Twister. They rag on him throughout the whole episode, especially Twister, though he warms up to him when Sam inherits the Squid moniker that he initially had.

Squid is not really given a full definition, but from what you can gather from the show, it’s either a new kid or, according to the Wiki, “Squid comes from the term “squirrelly” and was given to new riders who exhibited an unpredictable and unsteady riding style on account of them being new to the sport.” Given that Twister was the last Squid and he seems perfectly fine in his athletic skills, I’d say this is a mixture of that along with just being someone that the whole group rags on.

Outside of one fairly funny scene with the kids’ crotchety neighbor, Mr. Stimpleton, the episode is….not all that entertaining. They don’t make many jokes, what they do have for comedy isn’t funny, and there isn’t that much in regards to extreme sports either. They focus more on the street hockey match, which is short and not much happens in it anyway. Sam shines for a bit in practice, whacking away any and all pucks that come his way, and then he gets the puck out of Merv’s mailbox through his engineering skills.

On second look, this episode might be setting the foundation for the audience. Most kids, even in the 90s and early 00s, weren’t nearly as much into extreme sports and stuff like Otto, Reggie and Twister. Whether it was due to safety issues, overbearing parents, lack of access to places to practice these things or lack of funds to get the equipment, most kids would be into skateboarding a bit, maybe street hockey, rollerblading, but some of the later stuff they do is beyond the reach of most kids.

Plus, there’s the same issue Sam has in that a lot of kids just don’t think they belong in that world. That doesn’t change the fact that it looks awesome and seems incredibly fun, however. Introducing Sam off the bat allows the audience to connect better with one of the characters and helps them believe that they could have talent in some of these sports – they just haven’t found it. I know this show inspired me to buy a skateboard….that I was never able to ride without wiping out and hurting myself. I did get okay at rollerblading, though, and it spurred me into being a fan of hockey so I have that.

It’s a decent starter episode, but the entertainment value both in comedy and sports is fairly low. I also have a few nitpicks. 1) Sam was scared to death of the puck earlier, yet a rogue flying puck he knocks away with his bare hand without even flinching or thinking about it? Then he’s perfectly fine facing a full-on barrage of pucks flying at him at practice? Uh huh. 2) They didn’t bring any extra pucks? 3) Merv wasn’t angry that Sam was screwing with so much stuff in his house to get the puck out of his mailbox?

CSBS - RP EP1B

The second half of the episode, Down the Drain, has Reggie being left in charge of Mr. Stimpleton’s house while he and Violet (Mrs. Stimpleton) are away on vacation. Why he trusted a kid, even Reggie, to housesit when he seems to vehemently hate children is beyond me, but we need a plot. Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam are allowed to use his super cool high-tech pool while he’s away, but he has a strict list of rules for the place that they obviously don’t obey.

They enjoy the pool for a while, but keep making fun of Sam for being reluctant to enter the ‘cold’ pool, even though Stimpleton said right before he left that he keeps the water at a nice warm 68 degrees. Sam threatens to drain the pool if they keep it up, and Otto and Twister love the idea. Reggie, not so much. They want to drain the pool so they can make a skateboard pool out of it. I don’t know why they’d bother seeing as how they live a sneeze away from a full skate park, complete with a huge skateboard pool, but whatever.

Sam: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh, bless your heart.

Obviously, things go wrong. Twister leaves the drain hose next to a drain, but the water pressure from the draining process forces itself into the Rocket’s basement, flooding the place and ruining all of their stuff. Which, when you think about it in hindsight, must be especially horrible because Otto and Reggie’s mom has long since passed away and I can only imagine how much of her memorabilia is down there.

This episode also introduces us to Raymundo, Otto and Reggie’s father. He comes home early to use Stimpleton’s pool because he kinda has to per sitcom plot rules. It also briefly debuts Tito – Raymundo’s best friend and somewhat mentor to the kids.

They manage to keep the basement trouble and the pool drain a secret from their dad, but Stimpleton suddenly returns. He yells at Raymundo and they both yell for Reggie, but the kids all manage to escape.

This episode was more entertaining than the first part, even though, again, Stimpleton’s house is somehow all controlled remotely – even his electric toothbrushes…?? In the first part, this made a little sense because Mr. Stimpleton had troubles with wiring and seemingly does automate his house. However, Sam was using a big remote in that part. Here, he’s somehow controlling everything from the pool CPU. Why the hell would you want it that way?

Also, this huge hunk of metal he has to control such minor things as his pool was either super ridiculous even back then or technology has advanced a hell of a lot more than I remember.

This episode also debuts one thing I always hated about Rocket Power, and still do – the weird word emphasis cards. Every now and then, when someone says a word that may or may not be particularly emphasized, a colorful title card with various animations and fonts will pop up to put even more emphasis on it. I always thought that was an incredibly lame aspect of the show, yet they kept it the entire series run.

Down the Drain was more entertaining and funnier than New Squid on the Block, but it’s still not incredibly entertaining. It’s predictable, lots of things don’t have to happen but are forced to happen because plot, but Raymundo and Tito are my favorite characters, and it’s a strong enough story I guess.

Ratings:

Part 1 – 5/10

Part 2 – 6.5/10

Advertisements

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 3

CSBS DP EP3

Plot: Danny is having trouble managing his time as he tries to juggle studying with his ghost-fighting. He decides to write a report on a nearly-extinct purple-back gorilla named Samson to help get his grades up, but he’s continuously interrupted by his newest foe – the ghost collector, Skulker.

Breakdown: This episode is a little mixed. The first half is quite weak as there aren’t many jokes that work and the story is pretty slow paced. Skulker literally has no reason to be shadowing Danny as much as he is. Right before the mid-way commercial, he just captures Danny in a net anyway. He could’ve done that from the start.

The side-plot with Jazz and their parents is also weak. She’s trying desperately to get her parents to seem normal by having them do an interview for Genius magazine, which focuses explicitly on female geniuses, but Maddie insisted Jack be a part of it because they’re a team. They keep getting sidelined by ghost stuff because of course they are. I really wish Danny Phantom had gotten another season so maybe we could learn why Jack is so enthralled with ghosts.

This B-plot seems to tie into the A-plot by having Danny’s discovery end up as the main article in one of the issues of the magazine, but it’s still flimsy – especially considering Genius magazine is meant to be about genius women. The discovery isn’t even ‘genius’ – he just glanced at a gorilla’s junk.

You could’ve easily amputated that entire side-plot and nothing would matter. No one would question how Danny had the connections to get a main feature in a magazine considering the importance of the discovery.

The second half shines enough to make up for the first since the pacing picks up quite a bit, the jokes land better and the story improves. Skulker repeatedly getting whisked away by Tucker’s PDA schedule is very memorable and hilarious, and Sam stopping Skulker in his tracks to chat his ear off about how wrong it is to keep living…..err….to keep beings in cages was also very funny.

There were some little details that irked me, like why couldn’t Skulker just rip off Tucker’s PDA? He did it to the last one. He’d be without a CPU, but it’d be better than being forcibly jettisoned into doing whatever activity is on the PDA.

It took Danny way too long to figure out that Skulker was being affected by his schedule.

I know that this is part of the joke in the episode, but SERIOUSLY no one was ever able to get close enough to Samson to figure out their gender? When they’re one of the only two of their species left? You’re really willing to let the species die out because you’re too lazy or scared to even try to get a peek at their fruit basket? Come on. That’s what tranquilizers are for.

Even then, it’s a goddamn gorilla. They’re not exactly modest. Their bait and tackle is usually on proud display. And if, indeed, no one was ever able to tell, why would you advertise that they’re both male when you don’t know?

Actually, if they never checked Samson, then they likely never checked the other gorilla either….so, they might very well both be female – making this revelation moot because they still can’t breed. Good job, scientists.

Tucker was also annoying me more than he usually does in this episode. His slip-ups, usually caused by arrogance, made the situation worse, not once, not twice, but three times in this episode.

Rating: 7/10 Overall, though, this was a pretty solid episode. I’ve always liked Skulker – he has one of my favorite ghost designs – and while the first half was a little trying, the second half definitely made up for it.

CSBS – Rugrats Episode 2 Review

Rugrats episode 2 title

Plot: 2A – Barbecue Story: The adults are having a barbecue, and Angelica sends Tommy’s ball flying into the neighbor’s yard. Tommy sets off on a mission to get it back.

2B – Waiter, There’s a Baby in my Soup: Stu and Didi are forced to bring Tommy to a fancy dinner with a man who is listening to Stu’s presentation on why he should market his toys.

Breakdown:

2A – Something I kinda dread about rewatching this series as an adult is knowing there will be many moments that will make me cringe in how possibly horrifying the real-world result could’ve been.

Case and point, this segment.

During a barbecue, Angelica, being a bitch, decides to swat Tommy’s ball into the neighbor’s yard for kicks. Tommy breaks into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve it and is forced to go over a secondary fence into an area meant for a vicious guard dog. The dog very nearly (and, if you watch closely, honestly should have) mauls Tommy to death, until he’s suddenly saved by Spike.

Spike returns Tommy to the barbecue and is rewarded with a plate of burnt burgers.

At face value, this is an alright episode. Not the funniest in the world, and there are several annoying aspects I’ll get to in a minute, but it’s decent.

However, as an adult…..I’ve read several news stories about little kids being mauled by dogs, sometimes to death and others severely injured with many scars and deformities left behind. I could not stop myself from imagining Tommy getting viciously attacked by this dog.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2A 1

When Tommy’s parents discover him missing, I thought they’d hear his panicked cries and rescue him, but no. They never hear his cries nor discover where he went. Despite being just next door, Spike is the only one who hears poor Tommy and comes to the rescue. Granted, this scene is one awesome Spike moment. He is a total dog badass here, but Jesus Christ, these parents will never not win the worst parents ever award.

To put more clarity on this situation, when Tommy was crying in his playpen after Angelica swatted his ball, every single adult there diverted their attention to Tommy. When he’s screaming and wailing in terror with a huge bulldog snapping his teeth mere inches from his face, everyone besides Spike suddenly becomes deaf.

The ending is a very sweet moment between Tommy and Spike, but the rest of the episode just leaves me feeling uneasy.

The aforementioned annoying aspects come in Angelica and Chuckie. Angelica never gets any comeuppance for what she did, even though her actions very nearly lead to her cousin’s death. Chuckie has a moment of complaining that seemed more whiny than he normally is, mostly because he’s blaming his misfortunes on Tommy when he didn’t force him to come along.

2B – As big of a Rugrats nut as I was when I was a kid, I did have those episodes I didn’t care for. This is one of them. However, back then, my reasoning was entirely for the obnoxious antics of Mr. Mucklehoney. Nowadays, adult me can see that this whole episode doesn’t work.

It’s main premise is built on sand. Didi and Stu are ‘forced’ to bring Tommy to a fancy restaurant because their babysitter canceled last minute, Grandpa Lou is on a bowling date, and they have a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney – an obnoxious prankster who is constantly laughing.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 1
ShutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupSHUTUP!

Oh, excuse me, I mean Stu has a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney. Didi has no purpose here.

This whole plot could’ve been avoided had Didi just stayed home with Tommy. What’s more disruptive? Stating a superfluous third party couldn’t attend a dinner because she had to watch their infant son or bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? Keep in mind, Tommy himself is being obnoxious in this episode. When they find out their babysitter needs to cancel, Tommy is on the floor having strewn all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor and dumped a garbage can full of trash all over himself, the floor and the pans.

People find babies in cheap family restaurants to be an annoyance, but bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? When you have a very good reason not to? And when you’re having dinner with someone very important? Come on.

What’s even worse is that they set up an out and don’t take it just so it can be more believable when Tommy manages to escape. Didi gets a call from Grandpa Lou right before they order. He needs a ride home because he had a fight with his date and she was his ride. Didi agrees and is about to take Tommy, who is drumming on the dinnerware with a fork and spoon, with her because she realizes he’s being a nuisance. However, Mr. Mucklehoney offers to have the two of them watch him and she’s just like ‘alright’ and even gives the spoon back to Tommy so he can continue being loud and irritating to everyone around them.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 2

Of course, Tommy quickly slips out of his high chair and, of course, Stu is none the wiser. He slips into the kitchen and, I might need to add a ‘third-party adult fail’ section because not a damn person in that kitchen realizes a baby is crawling around on the countertops making a mess and destroying stuff. I feel really bad for the people who get that cream pie filled with silverware. Thank God Tommy never reached the stove. He fell into a bowl of pasta – he could’ve easily fallen into a pot of boiling water.

When he gets back to the table, he’s superheated Mucklehoney’s soup, bubblegum’d his shoes to the table, tied Stu’s shoes to the table and caused the entire table to topple over on top of Mucklehoney.

And, of course, Mr. Mucklehoney is one of those sitcom schmucks who has all this crap happen to him and, because it would be unfair to have Stu suffer for Tommy’s actions, he loves the crazy antics Stu has caused and offers him a job.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 3

This episode is poorly written and riddled with plot conveniences. You can practically see them drawing a map to the plot they were trying to get to. “Okay, how about we have Tommy let loose in a restaurant making all sorts of trouble? We’ll work out the details of how this happens right before we animate it. No storyboards. They’re a hassle.”

Not to mention, Tommy just doesn’t work well on his own. Rugrats always worked best when the babies were playing off of each other. Even if the plot is obviously focused on one character, you need at least one or two more to make the story as a whole work. Tommy is completely on his own here. There’s not even any minor Angelica cameo. Not to mention, they seem like they upped his annoying level so they could get more comedy out of him.

Parenting Fails

2A – No one notices or cares that Angelica took Tommy’s ball and threw it over the fence. Even if it’s understandable to maybe not catch her taunting him with it, surely someone had to have seen her throw the thing.

No one notices them breaking out of their playpen, even though they’re all in the side yard, nor do they see the babies escaping into the neighbor’s yard.

If you have babies or pets, don’t leave loose or broken boards in your fence.

I applaud the neighbor for having a second fence within his fence for his vicious dog, but I’ll add some neighbor fails for making this fence all of a foot and a half tall (the babies can get over it just by giving each other a little boost.) and chaining the large and very strong dog to a rickety dog house that is half-assedly nailed to boards in the ground.

It takes them way too long to notice the babies missing, especially considering the babies were looking in the neighbor’s first yard for quite a while.

No one hears Tommy’s terrified cries merely a yard away.

X10 fails just because I can’t get the image of Tommy being mauled out of my head. The fact that their dog was a better parent here than anyone else is ridiculous.

2B – Nobody notices that Tommy is playing with the toilet – a possible drowning hazard because it’s one of those toilets that seems to hold three gallons of water in the bowl.

Nobody notices that Tommy spreads out all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor. Even if you can say they didn’t see it, there’s no way they didn’t hear it because that would be insanely loud.

Nobody notices that Tommy knocks the garbage over.

When they do notice, they don’t give a crap.

Gonna count them bringing Tommy to this meeting as a fail. If they really had no choice, I’d understand, but not only is Didi a perfectly good option, they don’t even consider contacting any of the other parents to see if they can do it. Any adult should know that bringing a baby to a fancy restaurant is inconsiderate. And this is coming from someone who’s never had a child or been to a particularly fancy restaurant. Unless you have the most angelic baby in the world, or they’re comatose, they’re going to cry, smell and be obnoxious. They even show how annoyingly he’s behaving before they even leave, and he wastes no time before he starts drumming on his dinnerware.

Didi leaving Tommy alone with these two.

Stu not noticing Tommy has escaped. He is literally seated a foot away from him.

If I don’t have a ‘third party adult’ tally, we’re skipping six points.

Tally: 26

What the…They’re Babies!

Outside of the babies easily scaling that fence, there wasn’t much in this area for either episode.

AVAHS – Fairly Oddparents: Christmas Everyday!

Plot: After enjoying another awesome Christmas, Timmy wishes it could be Christmas every day. His fairy godparents grant him his wish, and he enjoys toys and time with his family for weeks to come. Too much of a good thing is never a bad thing……right?

Breakdown: There aren’t many Christmas specials that I would say are better enjoyed after Christmas is already over, but if there’s one that makes that list, it’s this episode.

So many Christmas specials leave you wishing that Christmas came every day, but it’s really not a great idea. Eventually, you will get sick of it because one of the reasons amazing things like Christmas are so special is because they only come once a year. If you had it all year round, you wouldn’t appreciate it anymore.

I mentioned this episode in the Stuck on Christmas segment in my Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas review. In that segment, the only ones aware that Christmas was repeating itself were Huey, Dewey and Louie. Donald, Daisy, Gertie and Scrooge were none the wiser, making it have a Groundhog’s Day effect. In that version, it would be damn near hell because you’d be hearing the exact same words and experiencing the exact same events over and over and over.

I find this version of the setup to be more interesting because everyone’s cognizant of what’s happening. It’s not a matter of reliving the same day – it’s reliving the same holiday, which I find to be more complex and open to a wider range of possibilities.

I also find Timmy’s reasons for wishing such a thing to be better than Huey, Dewey and Louie’s. While Timmy obviously wants to bathe in gifts day after day, the main reason he wants it to be Christmas every day is because his parents stay at home with him instead of being away at work. For the three ducks, all they wants are gifts and Christmas dinner.

But away from the comparisons, we still have a very original and interesting interpretation of what would happen when wishing such a thing in this universe. After a while, everyone starts to get sick of the carols, dinners and basically everything Christmasy. They get so sick of Christmas every day that when they spot Santa in the sky, they try to shoot down his sleigh.

Businesses and schools remain closed, meaning people can’t buy anything or get anything done. (Plus, I assume, people would eventually lose their jobs and society would collapse…)

Not even the kids make off well for long since everyone starts getting fewer and fewer gifts each day.

After a while, Timmy finally realizes that Christmas every day wasn’t a good idea afterall and that everyone’s had enough, so he wishes for Christmas to be over. However, as we’ve learned is common whenever Timmy makes a bad wish, Cosmo and Wanda can’t reverse it. This time, they simply don’t have the magic for such a thing.

Every year on Christmas, the fairies all lend their magic to Santa so he can be the one to grant the various wishes of the children on Christmas. They get their magic back the day after Christmas, which creates the obvious problem. They can still do minor things like disguise themselves and poof places, but they’re ultimately powerless to make such a big wish.

However, I don’t quite get this. Timmy made this wish on Christmas night – meaning Cosmo and Wanda shouldn’t have had the magic to make the wish come true in the first place.

Another interesting repercussion of Christmas happening every day is that the other holidays can’t occur – meaning the representatives of those holidays are extremely angry. Not only do they already feel inferior to Christmas and Santa, but now Christmas has stolen whatever enjoyment they got from people celebrating their holidays.

They want to take Santa down by transferring his powers to them with the unwilling help of Cosmo and Wanda. After they do so, they plan on sending Santa to the imaginary date of February 33rd.

Meanwhile, Timmy snowmobiles to the north pole with the help of every Christmas celebrating kid with Internet access across the globe. When he arrives, the kids all follow to help save Santa.

Santa is extremely overworked and running out of presents to give the kids since he can’t make enough toys every single day to meet demand. Even with magic, he won’t be able to do anything if this continues.

The main confrontation is really my only major negative point about this episode. The other holidays very nearly succeed in taking over and banishing Santa, but Timmy tries to talk some reason into them. When the army of every web-enabled Christmas celebrating kid in the world comes, the other holidays can’t find it in them to fight off kids since their main intentions in the first place was to bring their own brand of holiday joy to the kids of the world and be loved.

Timmy says they are loved, just not as much as Santa. He brings them toys, and Christmas brings their families together. The holidays realize he’s right. They all then lament that their holidays are all kinda lame like Easter with eggs that go bad if you don’t find them, April Fools day with making kids play mean pranks on each other and Cupid saying Valentines Day makes kids fall in love, which he only realizes is a bad thing when the kids all express disgust.

Understanding that Christmas is just a better holiday and that Santa will always be loved more than them, they decide to let Santa go and reverse everything.

Just….what?

I know the important thing is that they know they’re loved either way, but the fact remains that this started with the other holidays being upset that they were being massively eclipsed by Christmas and Santa. Resolving this plotline by saying ‘well, yeah, that’s because he’s better than you guys.’ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right. Guess we better fix everything.’ END. Just seems nonsensical and lazy.

A better option would’ve been to explain the reasons why those holidays are special to the kids too in their own ways. Like Easter is fun for egg hunts and candy, April Fools day is great to make up creative pranks for everyone to get a laugh, and Valentines day, as much as it makes some kids gag, gives them a bit of courage and hope to make a special connection with someone they like. Maybe say that Christmas may get the most attention, but all holidays have a special place in the hearts of children.

Everything gets changed back to normal, a new rule is made in Da Rules to never allow another kid to wish it were Christmas every day, and, to make it up to Santa, the holidays and Timmy take over delivering presents for next year’s Christmas.

All in all, I still love this Christmas special, even if the climax is a bit poorly written in my opinion. It’s a great way to ease out of Christmas highs as well. I’m sure many people have that same wish when December 26th rolls around, and this is a pretty good way to remind us that special rare events such as Christmas lose their magic and wonder if we live it every single day.

The song in this special is also one of the best Christmas special songs to debut in recent years. I Wish Every Day Could Be Christmas is catchy, Christmasy, funny and sweet. I listen to it on a fairly regular basis, and I sing it in the off-season.

AVAHS – Rugrats: Babies in Toyland Part 2

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 title

Plot: The adults are snowed in at a 19th century cabin. The babies are battling in The Nutcracker and trying desperately to make Dil’s first Christmas a good one so he’ll have more Christmases in the future. Angelica is hellbent on getting Santa’s toys all for herself. Is anyone going to have a good Christmas?

Breakdown: This review didn’t need to be two parts, but if they’re going to stretch out the special and yuk out some bonus points, I’m gonna.

This episode starts with five minutes worth of two things – Angelica being a thieving bratty bitch and the babies taking part in a mechanical representation of The Nutcracker.

Angelica grabs an armful of cookies that were meant to be taken one by one by the children listening to the carolers and they don’t do a damn thing about it. She took all of them yet no one even calls out to her to stop. Someone loses their snow hat in front of her so she just decides it’s hers now, even though that hat shouldn’t really fit her. Then she jumps into a group of carolers singing her rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ where she inserts herself as the main focus of the song. Yes, Angelica is now literally comparing herself to Jesus. Maybe not intentionally, but it’s there.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 1

I don’t understand why she’s screwing around so much. The only reason I can figure is that they want to keep showing Angelica being a witch so we’ll better understand why she’s supposedly not on Santa’s nice list…………………………….but……come on. Even people who have never seen a frame of Rugrats know that Angelica’s one of the most notoriously bratty bully characters to ever be shown in any form of media. She has her moments where she thaws her heart, but there is never any question that she is mostly a terrible and selfish person.

Even so, couldn’t they have put this in the first episode? She sent the babies off on a wild goose chase so she could find Santa’s toys first, yet she’s not even actively looking for them until she runs into the babies again.

Speaking of the babies, there’s not much to say about them for a while. Like I said, they accidentally partake in a mechanical rendition of The Nutcracker and all sorts of shenanigans happen. Some of it’s a little funny, but it’s still mostly padding. There’s also one aspect I don’t understand about it.

They’re first being ‘attacked’ by the Nutcracker and are saved by the Mouse King and his soldiers, but when Kimi decides they should fight too, she immediately decides to kick the crap out of one of the mice soldiers. I know they’re animatronics who aren’t taking sides, but from their perspective, Kimi is beating up someone who just saved them.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 2
I owe you my life, and an asskicking!

Then it turns around and the Mouse King is attacking them, but the Nutcracker saves them and winks at them. I don’t understand.

Once we get to the actual plot, Angelica has an acid trip after she breaks into a fake Santa’s Workshop. Nothing says ‘I deserve presents’ like breaking and entering. She imagines the workshop is real, along with the toy reindeer Santa handed her, named Prancey, and the employee elf from earlier, Hermie, being a real elf. He breaks the news to her that she’s not getting any presents since she’s not on the nice list and even Prancey abandons her after she called him a dumb toy.

We get an alright, but incredibly forgettable song called “Treat Each Day Like Christmas (And Your World’s a Holiday)” where Angelica learns to not be a bitch, I guess. The problem I have with this song is that it’s not really treating Angelica to be a better person on the grounds of just being a better person – it’s basically telling her to be a better person or you end up with no presents. Which is already pretty pointless because she already did get a present – the aforementioned reindeer doll Prancey. She didn’t like it at first, but obviously grew to like it. So, yes, if you’re a bratty little sack of reindeer crap, you do indeed get presents. Maybe not the one you wanted, but it’s far better than–

Hermie: “We give the good kids lots of toys and give the bad ones lice!”

Yeah, lice……Wait, what?

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 3
Prancey is adorable, though….Man, I’m sure on a reindeer cuteness kick lately.

Plus, she’s guaranteed to get a bunch of stuff ‘from Santa’ from her parents.

Back with the adults, their plot literally resolves itself off-screen. They’re still trapped, but they learned to stop fighting, stop being angry about missing Christmas with the kids, stop worrying that they’re going to die from lack of oxygen, enjoy the rustic charm of the cabin, focus less on the Mega Corp stuff and commercialism of Christmas and have a nice Christmas together all doing various things like baking, making popcorn garland, decorating the tree and doing origami…..off-screen. Too bad every single scene in these two episodes has been everything but padding or else they could’ve had time to show all that.

They seem like they might get back to being Christmas grumps when Chaz accidentally sets off the sprinkler system and soaks everyone and everything, but, like before, when they return to the scene later, everything is mostly dry and they’re right back to singing carols and enjoying the holiday. They keep cutting out the most important parts of this subplot. It’s driving me nuts.

In the actual plot for the babies, they’re lead by a goat to a nativity scene, which in my opinion, is pretty much the only part of this special worth its salt. The babies all feel bad for the baby Jesus because he looks cold and itchy, barely clothed in a bed of hay. Though I don’t know why they’re not questioning why this baby is sleeping with his eyes wide open and isn’t moving at all.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 4
Baby Jesus went on to become a wonderful mime.

They believe Mary, Joseph and the wise men are all hoping the baby has a good first Christmas or else he won’t get any others, like Dil. In an effort to give him some semblance of a good first Christmas, they give the baby Jesus the special Christmas gifts they got from the Nutcracker battle. As soon as I saw they kept those things, I knew they’d reincorporate them, but the way they went about getting them and the fact that the items are totally random pieces of trash makes it seem like this was thrown together sloppily.

Lil gives her ribbon that she got from a ballerina robot, Phil gives a shoe that he took from that same robot, Chuckie gives the big walnut he got from the Nutcracker, Kimi gives a bell she got from the Mouse King and even Dil gives the hat that he got when it flew off of Angelica’s head (the same one she essentially stole).

Then the Jesus doll smiles.

……This is meant to be really cute and endearing and everything….but this is kinda creepy. Rugrats is known for the babies taking normal things and perceiving them as living or something else because they have such an active imagination. The Nutcracker battle, for example, kept switching back and forth between watching the robots fight to watching a real battle between mice and nutcrackers.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 5

They’re doing this with the Jesus doll…..but I just can’t shake off the creepy feeling. It’s not like they’re imagining the baby Jesus as a living, breathing baby now, fussing around like Dil does – they’re imagining the same doll just with a smile now. The smiling doll is cute, but the shift is what makes it creepy. It doesn’t even make sense with the way their imaginations work.

I will give this scene major props, though. They manage to make a mostly endearing and adorable scene of pure good will, kindness and charity, involving a nativity scene, and not shoving anything overtly Christmas-y or even religious down our throats – and this is coming from a Christian who loves having schmaltzy Christmas-y messages shoved down my throat.

With Lou, he takes up the Santa role since the last one quit, and pathetically dresses up for the job with nothing but his regular attire plus a Santa hat and a beard that is way too loose-fitting. It’s hanging so low on his face, it would never fool even the youngest child. He is being a good Santa, though, so I’ll give him that. He hears that six babies are riding a goat to the nativity scene so he rushes out on a sleigh and retrieves them.

Close by, he spots the cabin the others are trapped in and I almost facepalmed when I saw it from the outside.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 6

The snow is somehow only piled up around the cabin despite the snow machines being a fair distance away from it and the snow being spread out in a circular pattern. The only way to achieve this effect would be if there was only one snow machine and it was on the roof of the cabin.

They also don’t bother trying to open the window to climb out despite the fact that the snow barely reaches halfway up the window.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 7

In the end, Chuckie says Dil had a pretty good Christmas with or without presents because they had a lot of fun together. Angelica shows back up and somehow has a sack of gifts despite not being given one at the end of the ‘it totally happened’ acid trip. She kept the elf hat, but there was no sack of gifts. Angelica happily gives the babies their gifts. Chuckie gets a new snowsuit, complete with his trademark Saturn design, because his old one ripped during the Nutcracker battle. Kimi gets a glockenspiel….and she somehow calls it that instead of a xylophone, which is weird.

Yeah, they’re different, but most kids wouldn’t know the difference and much more commonly know the xylophone. How they mutter mispronounced words all the time but she manages to say ‘glockenspiel’ nearly perfectly is almost comical. Phil gets a new pair of snow boots. Lil gets a magic princess wand.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 8

Tommy doesn’t want to open his gift until Dil does (Tommy, you really are the best big brother) However, there’s, for some reason, nothing for Dil. I’m confused. If this bag is from Santa, there’s no reason why Dil wouldn’t get a gift. His name is even confirmed to be on the list from Angelica’s acid trip. If the bag is just something she put together herself, she wouldn’t say it’s from Santa and would’ve remembered Dil. Unless Santa wanted Angelica to give up her reindeer doll to make her story arc come to a head, I dunno.

Angelica tearfully yet happily gives Dil the doll and then prompts Tommy to open his gift. He says he already got his gift since all he wanted was for Dil to have a good Christmas. Then he offers his gift to Angelica since she doesn’t have a gift (you’re killing me, Tommy.) Angelica rejects it and tells him to open it. It’s a new camera, which may or may not be an intentional nudge at his future film career in All Grown Up. It’s a regular photo camera, not a video camera, so I can’t be certain.

The kids are reunited with the parents and they spend the rest of Christmas eve hanging out in the cabin.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 9

The end.

———————————-

This special really didn’t need to be two parts, but at least most of part two was pretty good. Most of the plot with the adults didn’t have enough development on screen to have a strong impact, but it got the message across effectively enough.

The storyline with Angelica was poorly handled. Not only does she pull a complete 180 just because a song basically told her to be nice, but she magically gains a sack of toys from nowhere so we can wrap up the plot better. It is implied that the acid trip dream was real since she still had the elf hat and Santa does his tropey fly overhead in the last shot of the episode, but how and why did the warehouse instantly change back and forth to the mechanical representation? Please don’t say ‘magic’.

Like I mentioned, there was never any part where Angelica is handed a sack of toys and told to go deliver them for Santa or even saying ‘you’ll know what to do’. She just gets a sack of toys from nowhere and claims it’s from Santa.

Angelica was being a selfless girl at the end, especially giving up her reindeer for Dil and refusing to accept Tommy’s present as her own, but it loses a bit of its impact when you remember her parents will just shower her with everything she ever dreamed of at home. She doesn’t know that, so maybe it redeems her, but it was still a bit of a sloppy way of quickly changing her ways, which won’t even matter because Angelica is still a huge bitch after this even in All Grown Up.

The plotline with the babies was a good deal of padding, but for the most part the threads of it held together pretty well, even if I think it was also handled a tad sloppily. I did really enjoy the nativity scene…scene. It was definitely the best part of the episode, particularly with how unique it is. I can’t think of any Christmas special that has a scene even remotely similar to that. It was a very sweet and cute segment that didn’t seem forced or preachy. They weren’t even really giving their stuff over because it was Christmas, they legitimately felt bad for the baby.

All in all, this was an enjoyable Christmas special, but nothing fantastic. It had its funny lines and moments, but not enough to truly make the episode a must watch on Chrsitmas. It also had its touching moments, but only in part two. Tommy in particular is being a big sweetheart.

In all honestly, part two can be watched almost entirely on its own and it’s instantly made into a much better special. You could easily cut some fat from this and insert some exposition from part one to clean this up. The special is certainly worth watching, but it’s so hard to justify the 44 minute long cumulative runtime.

AVAHS – Rugrats: Babies in Toyland Part 1

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 1

Plot: Charlotte has become the new CEO of Megacorp, and Stu has been contracted out to design and build a massive mechanical Christmas wonderland. Everyone is invited to come down on Christmas and enjoy the attractions in a private gathering before the kids are able to meet Santa. However, Angelica’s on a Christmas warpath to meet Santa first and demand all of the good presents before anyone else can get one. Tommy’s more preoccupied with making Dil’s first Christmas a great one, but Angelica tricks them into believing that Dil will never have another good Christmas if he doesn’t get a good present from Santa in his first year. They’re not that worried until Angelica drives Santa into quitting. Is Christmas ruined for everyone?

Breakdown: Babies in Toyland was a special I watched but wasn’t all that interested in. Despite being a Rugrats nut for most of my childhood, I admit, I never got too into the later seasons. Right about when they got a new theme song was when I started to fade out. I believe that was when I started getting more interested in Pokemon and anime as a whole.

Plus, it was getting that ‘we’re clearly running on fumes’ stink. That smell usually comes from the inclusion of many new characters. Dil was an alright addition and gave more depth to Tommy’s character. Kimi was also alright, but really seemed like a female Tommy. They didn’t really utilize her much as a new layer to Chuckie’s character in making him a brother. Kira never added anything to show besides making Chuckie’s life a little less sad, neither did Spike and Fifi’s puppies or Lulu. Before I rewatched this special, I legit forgot that Lulu even existed.

For some reason, Babies in Toyland is a two-parter Rugrats special, which I can’t make sense of. Rugrats has a decent library of holiday specials, all of which are better than this episode and all of which are merely one episode (technically two since Rugrats was usually split up into eleven minute segments. Meaning this special is actually taking up four ‘episodes’.) Considering this was right when Rugrats was starting to teeter off in popularity, I have to wonder why they’d give them a two-part Christmas special.

The only way I can figure it is that they knew the holiday specials were some of the most well-received episodes of Rugrats. In an effort to get more steam out of them, they stretched what would’ve easily been a singular episode special into two parts.

Let me highlight one of the biggest reasons why this doesn’t work as a two-parter. The to-be-continued cliffhanger is the babies approaching a giant nutcracker……..that’s it. They closeup on the nutcracker’s face, it’s not moving or doing anything…..and bam ‘to be continued’

The setup here is a bit interesting because it’s almost like they’re about to make this one of Stu’s big screwups on steroids. They’re surrounded by things he’s invented and, if you know Rugrats, you know it basically means they’re in a death trap. How the hell a multi-billion dollar corporation like Mega Corp hired a man like Stu in the first place is beyond me. They show that he literally holds parts of his machine together with paper clips, and should even one of said paper clips fail, the control panel bursts into sparks and causes a blizzard that could kill the people in Christmas Land in a matter of moments.

This wouldn’t be a big issue since most adults would just leave, but remember, this is Rugrats, meaning these dumbass idiots are always letting their babies run loose or leaving them with Grandpa Lou, who I’m starting to believe has baby-induced narcolepsy at this point. He obviously falls asleep, allowing the babies to escape, and when he wakes up he believes Lulu (his new wife) took the kids and left him hot cocoa, despite the fact that she went on the train with the others, no one else is seen returning, she didn’t leave a note or anything. The babies could be kidnapped and he’d be none the wiser.

Angelica is notorious for being one of the biggest animated bitches this side of media, but she seems like she’s turning up the obnoxious evil bitchery up in this episode. Being all pushy about seeing Santa and hilariously acting like she deserves all the best presents because she’s ‘worked so hard at being good this year’ is one thing, but lying like that to Tommy and the others about Dil was just evil for no reason. Angelica usually lied to the babies because it would benefit her in some way. Sometimes she was a bitch for the sake of being a bitch, but she mostly used her lies to manipulate the babies into either doing her bidding or getting her something.

I do find it funny that Angelica’s such an irritating slab of brat that she makes Santa of all people quit, but I think it would’ve been much funnier if the Santa was real. That doesn’t really mesh with the Rugrats universe, but it definitely would’ve been funnier. Plus, when they’re adding, in canon, a giant robot dinosaur being piloted by babies, having a battle in France against a giant robot snail being piloted by a Frenchman, I think we can justify squeezing real Santa in there.

There’s a subplot with the other adults that I don’t really care about. They visit some historically accurate cabin with animatronics (Yeah, that doesn’t make sense) and get snowed in by a blizzard caused by Stu and his dumb paper clips. The snow reaches six feet deep in about an hour, meaning if the babies were in the area they’d be long since dead by now. Good job, guys.

Lulu loves the cabin, but everyone else is bored or bickering.

In the end, the babies and Angelica, devastated that Santa quit, decide to look for the stash of Santa’s toys so Angelica can bathe in things she doesn’t deserve and Tommy can get Dil a good present for his first Christmas.

Despite not being terribly funny or even all that interesting, and clearly being stretched into a two-parter, there were some highlights. I love Tommy in this because he’s such a great big brother. He doesn’t care at all that he won’t get presents this year – he just wants a present for Dil to ensure all of his future Christmases are good. I liked that Chuckie offered to give Dil his blocks and pretend they were from Santa. That just shows what an awesome friend and person Chuckie is. I also liked one line from Phil where he suggests bringing Angelica back a witch’s broom as a present.

May I ask one final question before we get to the second part? The babies have now been through several holiday specials…….how old are they now? Tommy should be at least three by now, same with Phil and Lil, Chuckie should be like five, Angelica should be six and Dil should be less annoying….Seriously, why is Dil not at least conversing with the other babies by now? At any rate, they should definitely be older than they are now.

AVAHS – Nickelodeon’s Doug: Doug’s Christmas Story

AVAHS Doug's christmas story 3

Plot: Around Christmas, Porkchop seemingly attacks Beebe and injures her leg, which causes him to be detained by the authorities. Porkchop will be put on trial for his crimes and Doug’s the only one with any faith in his buddy. Can Doug save Porkchop, or will the Funnies have to live every future Christmas without him?

Breakdown: There aren’t too many classic holiday specials that I actively avoid…..but this one of them. Not because it’s badly written or unmemorable or because there are bad messages in it – on a technical level it’s about as good as Doug ever got. My problem is….Holy crap, it is so depressing. Most of the episode has Doug worried sick that Porkchop’s going to be put down for what he did and listening to a bunch of people badmouth Porkchop when all he was trying to do was save Beebe’s life.

Even when they skew back to Christmas stuff, like showing that Doug got Porkchop for Christmas when he was a little kid or that Porkchop gave Doug his signature journal, it’s depressing because it just reminds you that Porkchop’s in a high-security dog prison awaiting a trial that might result in him immediately being euthanized. And I’m not exaggerating or giving the ‘real world’ take on what would happen in this situation – Doug actually imagines that this Christmas will be spent at Porkchop’s grave.

The story goes that, as Doug and his friends are playing hockey at Lucky Duck Lake, Beebe fails to notice a ‘Thin Ice’ sign that Porkchop is able to notice and read. As the ice starts to crack and open up around her, unbeknownst to her for some reason, Porkchop grabs her the only way a dog can grab something, with his mouth (though it’s been shown that he is frequently bipedal and has front legs and paws that basically act as human arms and hands. See exhibit A: AVAHS Doug's christmas story 1 So, yeah, logically, this story kinda falls apart already.) He grabs her leg with his teeth and pulls her into thicker ice, subsequently saving her life.

However, Beebe’s leg is injured, and everyone interprets the event as Porkchop having randomly attacked Beebe, because I guess they’re also too stupid to read the sign or even notice the gaping hole in the ice mere feet away.

They call animal control and take Porkchop away, leaving his fate to the decision of a court. The incident gets wildly sensationalized, and the entire town turns on Porkchop, refusing to sign a petition to save him. The news is even making ridiculous recreations of the event where Porkchop is a rabid bulldog who grabs Beebe and whips her back and forth like a ragdoll.

Doug tries to talk directly to Beebe, but Mr. Bluff, her father, refuses to let him into the hospital room and doesn’t give a crap about Doug’s dog. Why is she still in the hospital? I doubt such a bite would even cause initial hospitalization. They’d probably fix it up in the ambulance – at worst they’d take her to the hospital to get an x-ray done.

Even Beebe later admits that the bite didn’t hurt, yet they put her in a wheelchair, put her leg in a cast and stuck her on crutches. If they’re saying he has the strength to fracture or break her leg, let alone that he did it with such a weak bite, bullshit. Mr. Bluff seems like he and his legal team are purposely dressing this up to make their case stronger. I don’t know why. It’s not like they’re getting any money out of this. The only result will be a dead dog.

What’s worse is even the judge seems like he’s biased against Porkchop because he refuses to let Doug cross-examine Beebe and even urges the audience to cheer for Beebe for being such a brave girl. This is such bullshit. There are victims of rape who get cross-examined so harshly it embarrasses and further traumatizes the hell out of them and they don’t get cheers for their bravery.

Doug asks if Porkchop can tell his side of the story and the judge mocks him asking how he’s going to do that since no one speaks dog……..well, then why the hell is this trial even happening? You can’t have a fair trial unless both parties are able to communicate their sides. If you won’t let Doug cross-examine anyone and you can’t hear Porkchop’s side, the whole trial is completely one-sided.

For some reason, this reminds me of that one episode of Family Guy where Brian violates the leash law and is about to be put down so he studies a bunch of law books and preps to represent himself. When it’s his turn in court, he starts an eloquent opening statement and then the judge goes ‘Wait, why are we listening to him? He’s a dog! Take him away!’

What’s even worse is that, according to Doug’s speech, Porkchop’s been a saint to nearly everyone in the courtroom. He babysits, he lends people money, he saves the hair of the balding, he fixes cars, he helps people rebuild burned down houses – and he even did something amazing for the judge. His daughter was in accident that robbed her of her ability to walk and Porkchop taught her how to walk again. And under the judge’s own admission, he barely helped her.

How the hell do you forget all of these things and immediately turn to massive town hatred? It would be more understandable if it was a case of a regular dog and just saying ‘oh it was such a sweet dog who must’ve snapped for a minute because of natural instincts.’ But this is an anthropomorphic intelligent dog who seems like he’s smarter and more valuable to society than his owners.

It takes Porkchop having to save her a second time, this time when she’s actually drowning in freezing cold waters (and I guess because the crowd of people mere feet away can’t be arsed) in order to finally convince them that he was saving her and not attacking her.

I’d just like to point out that Patti has a keen enough eye to notice and recognize the pine cone they were using as a puck on the day of the incident, but is too stupid and blind to see the ‘Thin Ice’ sign floating in the giant gaping hole….and, oh yeah, they’re all too stupid to notice the GIANT GAPING HOLE. I even have to call out Beebe here, because she’s heading for the same spot with the hole right there but she also won’t notice the danger. I wonder how many bodies are in Lucky Duck Lake due to lack of sign awareness.

Of course, everything ends up being okay. Porkchop has the charges dropped against him and is even hailed as a hero. Mr. Bluff put on a huge party for Porkchop and all of the dogs of the pound, and the former Mayor White used his radio show to find homes for all of them, which I find illogical because some of those dogs had to be legit threats but whatever. Porkchop gets an adorable hat and everyone has a merry Christmas.

AVAHS Doug's christmas story 2

An aspect of this episode that I neglected was Doug’s struggle throughout this whole ordeal. Like always, he approaches his problem with a lot of fantasies and some crazy schemes, but this time he’s upped the ante and even reaches a point of burnout. He has all three of his main dream versions of himself, Smash Adams, the James Bond character, Quailman, the superhero persona, and the Indiana Jones spoof, Race Canyon, meeting inside of his head to help him with Porkchop throughout a good chunk of the episode. However, their ideas always seem crazy and eventually it gets to a point where they’re all so much in conflict with each other that Doug refuses to escape to his fantasy for help coping with this anymore and relies on himself.

This is a pretty big deal for Doug because, like I said, he almost always relies on fantasies for ideas and support in whatever challenges he faces, to the point where you’d believe he could really use a psych eval and some therapy, but this time the challenge is so great and the stakes are so high than he forces himself out of the fantasy and faces everything on his own. This is even mirrored a bit in Doug’s face as the trial goes on. He gets lines under his eyes that either convey exhaustion, great concern or both.

And, in the end, it really was Doug who saved the day. He had to be Porkchop’s voice and convince everyone to do whatever they could to understand what really happened that day. Without him, Porkchop would be dead.

Like I said, this episode is not badly written – In fact, I’d say it’s one of the better written episodes of the entire series, and it’s definitely one that stands out when I think of plot lines of Doug offhand. My issue with this episode has always been the tone. It’s a dark and depressing episode that you almost forget is set around Christmas most of the time. Of course, as adults, we know they’d never kill off Porkchop, especially in a Christmas special, but as a kid, I was worried sick about the fate of Porkchop. No matter if the ending was happy or not, watching the episode still always soured my holiday mood.

It doesn’t help that, like most Christmas specials, they only aired this episode around the holidays.

All in all, I’d actually recommend this episode, but if you’re anything like me, don’t watch it around the holidays.

AVAHS – Rocket Power: A Rocket X-mas

AVAHS Rocket Power

Plot: Raymundo wants to celebrate all of the Rocket family Christmas traditions, but Otto and Reggie find most of them to be lame and try to avoid them. They take up jobs as dog walkers to earn enough money to buy a long board for their dad, but their jobs and attitudes get in the way of the holidays.

Breakdown: Despite me watching Rocket Power fairly regularly as a kid, I will admit, I’m hard-pressed to remember damn near any episode. There was that episode where Otto broke his leg snowboarding…that episode with the neon skateboards…..that’s pretty much it, off hand. Rocket Power just wasn’t known for having deep and meaningful storylines. It was usually just extreme sports, slang, smacktalk and maybe an obvious moral.

Which is probably why I can’t, for the life of me, remember this special. Any of it. At all.

I know I must’ve watched it, but I have no recollection whatsoever of even a second of footage.

Alright, that’s a small lie. I remember nothing about it, BUT I did get a spur of ‘OH YEAH’ when Otto and Reggie got their gifts. Just a spur though because, while I remembered they got gifts that were mementos of their mother, I completely forgot what they were and what their significance was.

Outside of that one kinda touching moment that is really only touching because it’s a rare occasion where they reminisce on their late mother, this is a completely forgettable and boring episode.

It’s predictable, it’s not funny, it’s not very full of Christmas-y feels, and unlike other episodes that can offset this by having at least some cool tricks and sports, this one has nothing because the focus is either on groaning over Raymundo’s Christmas traditions or walking dogs. The most they do is allow themselves to be pulled on skateboards and rollerblades by the dogs, which is dangerous.

I think a good chunk of people can relate to outgrowing Christmas traditions….but I obviously can’t. I’m all about Christmas. Hell, I’m usually the one who has to prod my parents to do our traditions.

And I think the moment where Raymundo admits that he was trying so hard to uphold the traditions because their mother loved them so much should’ve been a more impacting moment. It’s more like a fleeting line.

All in all, this really isn’t that good of a Christmas special – or a regular episode for that matter, which doubly sucks because this is a special full half-hour long episode as opposed to the eleven minute half episodes they usually got. Oh well, at least they didn’t do one of those lame shots where they say a slang word and an exaggerated title card with the word pops up on screen.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Mighty B!

That tagline should give you an idea of some of the humor…

Plot: Bessie Higgenbottom is a passionate Honeybee scout who wants to earn over 4000 badges in order to become the superhero, the Mighty B!

Breakdown: My background with The Mighty B! Is rather cut and dry. Despite the fact that I was still an avid Nickelodeon watcher back when this first aired, I never watched it because, quite frankly, even in promos it looked really obnoxious. I’m happy to report that young me is smarter than older me because at least she had the sense to listen to herself because this is really obnoxious.

And no, no I don’t care that it was co-created and voiced by Amy Phoeler. Love ya, girl, but no.

How about we start at the very beginning – What the unholy hell is that theme song? That has to be the worst theme song I’ve ever heard. It’s like they took 20 different theme songs cut them into two second blurbs, smushed one longer song on top of it and called it a day. It has no rhythm, whatever melody it has makes me want to gnash my teeth and I was so baffled by the lack of….everything in this song that I forced myself to listen to it three times just to see if there was a real song in there and I’m still not convinced there is.

Hey, put this song on a loop and we can propose this as an alternative to waterboarding.

That’s the first time since Scaredy Squirrel where I’ve been so annoyed by a theme song that I was actually considering not even giving the show a chance because of it. But I’d listen to Scaredy Squirrel’s theme song every day for the rest of my life if it meant I never had to listen to The Mighty B’s ever again.

Let’s just give Episode 1A the rundown.

Bessie Higgenbottom is a passionate and hyper Honeybee Girl Scout, and not even 30 seconds into the episode you can tell this is definitely one of those loud irritating shows where the comedy mostly lies in the characters yelling and being hyper and never slowing down for five seconds. Bessie seems to be well-known and liked by everyone in town. She enters a Chinese restaurant, suddenly make believes everyone including the customers and owner are Chinese warriors trying to fight her, with her taking the form of a huge (and male….??) superhero called The Mighty B!

She gets praised by the owner, Mr. Wu for….swinging her hands around like an idiot at nothing throughout the restaurant while being kinda racist and then she leaves. She steals some kid named Rocky’s skateboard and skates down a hill, flying off on an incline, pretending she’s flying as The Mighty B again, then falling over and over.

She lands right in front of Annoying Rich Self-Absorbed Bitches Batch 345F, AKA Rich bitch whose parents run the show and her two sheep bitch friends.

They reveal the plot of the episode, which is that Honeybees are holding a dog show and Bitch A is entering with her dog for an animal appreciation badge.

We also get this line.

Bitch A: “Guess you didn’t get the B-mail” GET IT!? B-MAIL?! Because BEES! HONEYBEE TROUPE! If this turns into The Bee Movie, there better be tons of mildly humorous parody videos of it on the Internet.

Bessie then literally, and I do mean literally, annoys her mother into letting her get a dog by pestering her day in and day out with hundreds of reasons why she should get a dog.

The next day we learn that Bessie actually believes that she’ll become the real Mighty B if she gets 4000+ some odd scout badges….Kay.

Enter a stray dog, whom she promptly kidnaps and names Happy.

That night, she gives him a bath in her beehive fort on the roof of her building. I only mentioned that because I wanted to show you how crazy this girl is. I’m all for imagination, but this girl seriously has a bee hive fort on her roof….

Then she ‘trains’ Happy, who clearly is anything but happy about being held hostage by this crazy girl who talks to a Sharpie’d smiley face on her finger that she named Finger (not kidding) and hugs him so hard, she basically Elmyra’s him and he explodes.

The next day, what a shock, Bitch A’s mother is obviously paying off the judges and they’re even evil laughing together. Oh and Bitch A’s name? Guess. You have half a second. Go. You’re right. It’s Portia. Fun fact. While trying to figure out how this is properly spelled, I learned the name Portia derives from the word ‘Pig’. I always assumed they were going for an off-shoot of Porches, adhering to the trend of sports car names for bitches, but here we are.

Happy runs away before the dog show because Portia and bitches B and C mock him. Bessie tries to stop him, but he ‘explains’ to her that he hates dog shows and wants his old life back. She accepts his decision and he bolts.

She then has a damn near scary 15 seconds of going back and forth between being incredibly sad he’s leaving and being enraged before Finger talks her down. Sooooo….all I’m getting is that this is a show about a girl with severe undiagnosed mental illnesses being played for cheap slapstick and screaming comedy.

After Portia and her dog, Precious, woo the audience, Bessie sadly announces that Happy’s not going to be in the show. Unsurprisingly, Happy shows back up and does the dog show, impressing the audience with a random rushed cluster of ‘tricks’ like flexing, dancing and playing basketball, sloppily mushed together with another ‘song’.

The audience loves them because the plot said so, but Portia’s mother is pressuring the judge to stick to the plan and let Portia and Precious win. The judge tries to call a tie, but the audience boos at him until he makes a fair tie-breaker. He says he’ll decide based on breeding. Since Happy is a torn-eared mutt and Precious is an expensive purebred, he awards Portia the win.

Set to that stock sad music we’ve heard a million times, Bessie announces to the audience that she’s fine with losing because she loves Happy and he loves her. The audience gets upset again, and even though the judge has already declared Precious the winner, he decides to check its teeth, revealing that Precious is actually a rat.

Bessie’s little brother, Ben, then takes the badge and rightfully gives it to Bessie.

I have so many questions.

First of all, how the hell do you not notice that a dog is a rat? She had that dog for quite some time it seems, but despite the training and grooming and pampering and whatnot, neither her nor her friends or her parents noticed that it was a rat? How did it go through the show without anyone noticing? I know some small dogs look weird, but mistaking them for a real rat should never be a thing.

Second of all, where the hell did she get that ‘dog’? If this were backwards, as in Precious being found on the street, I might be able to start to justify why this happened, but she touts Precious as a prebred, which means it had to have come from a breeder, she had to have paid big money for it and she has to have papers for it that prove it’s a purebred. How do you jump through all those hoops to end up with a rat?

Third, they don’t even have anything like a covering or something like they sometimes do with ‘that’s really a…!’ reveals. He looks like any other tiny toy designer dog before then, but when they check its teeth it suddenly morphs into a disgusting rat. It’s a cheap reveal because it seems like they realized they wanted Bessie to win but couldn’t be arsed to think of any better way to have it happen so they magically turned the dog into a rat to disqualify it.

All in all, this is not only an annoying show with a complete lack of humor, clever or otherwise, but the story itself is incredibly predictable (though I will give them props for poking the ‘he showed up afterall’ trope by having Bessie hear a dog bark only to see it’s a different dog in the audience. I can’t give it a lot of props, though, because they do end up just doing the trope anyway.) and ends on a note that seems incredibly sloppily written for the sake of getting Bessie the badge.

Only thing I kinda liked about it was Ben because he hero worships Bessie instead of being the typical annoying little brother, but even he could be annoying.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

I am just not a fan of the ‘never stop talking, go a mile a minute and loud=funny’ genre. Despite winning several awards, The Mighty B! Only lasted two seasons, so I guess I’m not alone in this.

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 2

DPEP2TITLE

Plot: Jack shows off his new invention, the Fenton Ghost Fisher, a device meant to capture ghosts, to Danny when he leaves the room briefly to go to the bathroom. Danny grabs the fisher and catches a dragon ghost. He combats the ghost for a while before knocking off the dragon’s amulet, which lands in his backpack. The dragon reverts to the form of an 18th century English girl who runs back into the Ghost Portal stating she wanted to go to the ball.

Danny, thinking the whole event is over, resumes his day. A school dance is coming up and Danny decides to ask out Paulina, the prettiest and most popular girl in school. However, he makes a fool of himself in his nervousness thanks to his ghost powers. Sam steps in to defend him, insulting Paulina in the process. As revenge and believing Sam to be his girlfriend, Paulina later accepts Danny’s invitation. She also mistakenly believes the amulet in Danny’s backpack is hers.

It’s up to Danny, Sam and Tucker to retrieve the amulet before Paulina also turns into the dragon and causes havoc at the dance.

Breakdown: This episode always annoyed me a tiny bit. While we’re amping up the stakes with the Dragon Ghost, the way that it works basically amounts to ‘bitches be crazy.’

We see the Dragon Ghost three times in this episode.

The first, the 18th century English girl reveals that she turned into the dragon because she was upset that she couldn’t go to the dance.

The second, Paulina triggers it by getting upset that they don’t have a trendy new and discontinued fleecy tee in her size.

The third is the most understandable with Sam turning into the dragon when Paulina reveals that she was only dating Danny to get revenge on Sam, believing them to be dating, and she plans on dumping him in the middle of the dance since Sam revealed that they’re not dating. While this is more admirable, it’s set up like Sam’s more upset that Paulina’s shallow (she keeps repeating ‘shallow girl!’ in dragon form) than she’s upset for Danny, who is soon to be heartbroken.

Not to mention that this makes no sense anyway. Why would Paulina think Danny’s dating Sam when he’s asking her out? I’d think if my boyfriend asked another girl out to a dance while we were dating, the relationship would be beyond over in a millisecond.

I do like the different reactions all three of them are having to this dance, though. Danny’s getting up the courage to ask his crush out to the dance, Tucker’s asking anyone with boobs and a pulse and consistently gets shot down. He somehow lands Valerie, who will become very prominent later, but Danny forces him (through possession) to dump her for Sam. She’s been badmouthing the dance the whole episode, and they only catch on right before the dance that she’s partially upset because no one’s asked her out. Danny possesses Tucker to claim Valerie canceled and to ask out Sam, and while Tucker initially protests, he changes his tune rather quickly when Sam comes out looking beautiful.

The sub-plot with Danny’s dad was insanely unnecessary, though, besides to show off Danny’s newly discovered possession capability. Lancer understands that Danny keeps dropping his pants because they, seemingly, don’t fit well (it’s really his ghost powers) and fixes the situation by giving him a belt, yet he still calls in Danny’s dad for a parent-teacher conference because this is somehow a fault of Danny’s that needs to be discussed with a parent.

Then he, of course, has to invite Possessed!Jack to be a chaperone to the dance purely to keep this plot going further and fabricate tension.

All in all, the episode’s pretty good, but there are a few major things about it that irk me. It just felt a little on the sexist side, is all.

Oh, and just because I feel I have to mention this because meme(?) this is the episode where they have that line exchange –

Sam: “Promise me you’ll keep your pants up.”

Danny: “I’ll do my best!”

I don’t know why this became a slight thing. I mean, it’s a funny-ish joke in context, but outside….is it just hurr hurr, this is kinda innuendo? I don’t really get it.

Rating: 7.5/10 Still staying at a good pace with the action and some of the story, but the mechanics of the amulet, at least the way it’s portrayed here, are a bit annoying and Jack’s subplot was entirely pointless. Also, it seems weird that they kinda poked at TuckerxSam here, yet went nowhere with it.