Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Agent Oso

On my personal list of kids' shows that I can not, for my life, give a good answer as to why they exist, I'm pretty sure that Special Agent Oso is right up there near the top. Rare is the show that has a "no duh" factor that can even come close to comparing. I'll explain, shall I?

Like all of the shows I've covered so far, I've seen very few episodes of this one. I'm told my nephew loves it, and calls it "Specially Oso," but I personally haven't seen a whole lot of it. What I have observed from the little I've seen of it is that it's about a panda (I think) who goes around on special missions from… someone… and teaches kids to do… things… And while I doubt the likelihood of any organization or government hiring a bear to fly around the world and help kids learn to do mundane things, what really gets to me is the "three special steps" that he and his terrifying floating head A.I. give to the kids. I think It will be better for me to show you than to try and explain:
video
Can you spot a problem with this? I mean, besides the fact that Oso's little helper A.I. is definitely going to eat your skin while you are sleeping… Notice the "special steps?" Didja see how they were "1) Watch the thing 2) Practice the thing 3) Do the thing?" Yeah… that… Uuuummmmm, how do I put this? Uh… guys? Kids aren't that stupid. They really don't need a bear or his creepy talking head to explain this sort of thing to them. If you really want to help, you gotta give better specifics, otherwise, just buzz off and let the little morons figure it out themselves. And this is not the only example of the special steps being crash-courses in blinding stupidity. Most of the ones I've seen are like that. Look them up if you don't believe me.


Also, if I may just comment briefly on the little satellite camera thing they've got rigged up: does that seem a little... suspect... to you? Like, really? Who was the guy who rigged up a satellite to zero in on kids with "problems" and then hired a bear to go and "fix" them? Not so much the bear that worries me, mostly just the satellite camera... Who taught it to zero in on kids like that? It may just be a result of my brain's high exposure to the internet, but I think I've got a pretty good idea who Oso's employer is.

Pedobear: Official (satirical) mascot of pedophilia in the internet age

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dirtgirlworld

So... Dirtgirlworld... Sweet mother of Lincoln, Dirtgirlworld...
video
Good. Gravy.
For the record, I have no idea what this show is about; frankly, I don't care. One commercial for it on Sprout told me all I needed to know.
You may or may not be familiar with the concept of the Uncanny Valley. This woman explains it far better than I ever could, but basically, in terms of something's resemblance to a human, there is a line of progression between complete abstraction and total realism. Along that line, there comes a point where something is getting close to being human, but not quite close enough. That is the point where it starts to become uncomfortable, and it will continue to be that way until it reaches complete realism again(this being the reason why the movie Mars Needs Moms didn't do very well. The animation went too far along that line to where it was unappealing to viewers.) To put it more simply, between a completely cartoonified version of a human and an actual human, there rests a range of creepy that cannot be circumnavigated. Cartoons are okay, real people are okay, but beware the valley.

That being said: AAAAAUUUUGGGGG!!!! SWEET MERCY, WHAT IS THAT THING?!? GAW!! THE EYES! THE HUMAN EYES! AND THE MOUTHS!! AND THE FACE WORM!! MERCIFUL DIONYSUS, THE FACE WORM!! KILL IT! KIIIILLLL IIIIITTT!! BURN THEM ALL!

... Okay, Dirtgirlworld... I know you're trying to be all unique and stuff with your animation but... the real facial features... Stop having real facial features. Not only is your idea made of pure liquid nightmares, it also makes your characters' facial expressions look inexplicably suggestive. I feel like they're trying to molest me every time they smile or wink or look playfully off to one side. And tell the dude who is being the eyes and mouth for the guy to stop blinking so much. It makes him look twitchy and makes me feel like he's up to something even more than I already did.

Also, just so you know, the face worm... I paused the video because I saw it and I wasn't sure, but now I know... The face worm has a face on both ends.
Enjoy your nightmares.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Jake and the Neverland Pirates is a relatively new show on the Disney channel.

It is a tale of high-seas adventure, mystery, and really not a lot of piracy...
As the title would suggest, the story takes place in Neverland (of Peter Pan fame,) and follows Jake -- the archetypal prepubescent roguish hero -- and his friends -- goofy fat kid, token chick, and obligatory parrot sidekick.

Together they explore Neverland, solve problems, collect gold dubloons, and face off against the nefarious Captain Hook and his sidekick Mr. Smee who are always up to no good.

This show is boring, plain and simple. In spite of its potentially awesome setup, it ends up being just like every other kids' show out there. Even so, there is one thing that sticks out and makes this show both bewildering and hilarious. Aside from the distinct absence of Peter Pan despite the story taking place in Neverland, and the fact that Jake's little band has never once done anything remotely piratical, I have never seen a show that operates so unabashedly on video game logic. You see, one of the aims of the heroes is to collect gold doubloons, but they never actively seek for doubloons. Instead, the doubloons appear as a reward whenever they complete a task or solve a problem. After a problem is solved, the doubloons will appear out of nowhere and spin in midair as someone, usually the girl, announces "We did it! And we got three gold doubloons!" Not even kidding. All that's missing is the Final Fantasy triumph music.
No explanation is ever given for this bewildering reward system; it's not an element that transfers from video games to cartoons very gracefully. One has to wonder if it's always been like this in Neverland. Does everyone get rewards for solving puzzles? Still, as confusing as I find it, I can't help but be amused and delighted by the metagame nonsense that is the Neverland reward system.

Another thing that I've noticed is that this show falls prey to the distressing trend of starring ten-year-old characters who look like sexy teenagers. This may or may not have any worrisome implications, I really don't know, but I figured I'd just point out that that Jake looks like a Jonas brother, and I am almost positive that his sultry-eyed little vixen of a girlfriend, Izzy, grew to be the pirate Isabella from Dragon Age (who is as slutty as her open tunic and lack of pants would suggest.)


To the show's credit, they actually found some pretty good voice actors to do the voices of Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Not perfect, but they do a pretty good job of imitating the original Disney movie without making me cringe. However, I can't help but feel that poor Captain Hook has suffered a blow to his dignity (which is saying something, considering that he barely had any dignity in the movie.) I mean, in Peter Pan, Hook actually did some decently piratey things, including kidnapping, deception, and shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza (ain't good form, y'know...) In the show, however, he seems to have been reduced to following three kids around to steal their beach balls and ruin their picnics. Since he's one of my favorite Disney villains, I have to feel sorry for the man. Perhaps I underestimated the psychological effects of being made to publicly declare yourself a codfish. Peter Pan may have been even more of a sadist than I thought.

Also, in the few episodes I saw of this show, I noticed that the writers maaay have been trying to get away with a few things. I first became aware of this after Jake and his buddies managed to thwart Captain Hook yet again. As they gleefully flew away (with the help of pixie dust, and no, I do NOT know where Izzy got it,) leaving Hook adrift in a small boat, Jake called out something along the lines of "Well, captain, looks like you need to learn to steer your dinghy!" To which Hook incredulously replied "... Steer my... dinghy?" Now, I usually try to keep these posts classy, but just try to tell me that wasn't intentional. I can understand writers getting bored working on this sort of show and trying to slip stuff in for fun, but dang! The Animaniacs couldn't even have gotten that past the censors! Class act, dudes.

I could go on, but I should probably quit while I'm ahead. It suffices to say that, in spite of its dull and bewildering execution, Jake and the Neverland pirates is probably my favorite of the weird and terrible shows on the Disney channel. It's stupid, but it's got some pretty art and also Captain Hook. It's hard for me to hate. Particularly since the creators were kind enough to NOT include anything terrifying in the character designs or the animation.
The same cannot be said for our next show...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jungle Junction

Alright, dear readers, school is over now, and now my little operation here should start to pick up again. Fear not.

That said, most of my ideas in the past while have all been based around a singular theme: Childrens' programming. See, I spend a lot of time at my sister's house, with her and her two little boys. This creates ample opportunity for me to experience the strange and confusing world of modern childrens' programming that I would not have otherwise been exposed to. Most of these shows contain some element or another that leaves me with my head tilted to one side and my mouth hanging open in bewilderment -- I'm pretty sure my face is going to freeze that way soon. At any rate, because of all of the new things I have seen while watching the Disney channel with my nephews, I have decided to dedicate my posts for the next month or so to the wonders of kids' shows. Keep in mind that most of the things I will discuss, I haven't watched extensively. These will mostly be my impressions based on a random episode, or even just a clip that I catch here and there while doing homework or folding laundry on my sister's couch. That being said, here's a whole series of me thinking way too hard about daytime childrens' programming:

So there is this show on the Disney channel called "Jungle Junction"
Jungle Junction is about animals.
British animals.
With wheels.

Aside from wondering a few things like "Why is there a pig in the jungle?" and "What is that raccoon pikachu rabbit thing supposed to be?" the main question that this show brings to my mind is "WHY do the animals have wheels?!?"

From the few episodes I've seen of this show, I've been able to determine that there is absolutely NO reason for them to have wheels. The problems they encounter are things like needing to bake a cake for a party or locate somebody's lost something-or-other... In other words: problems that are in no way related to them being animals with wheels. Since the wheels are never explained, they become something of a distraction -- an elephant in the room, so to speak (an elephant with wheels, no less.) I literally could not tell you anything else about the show because the couple times I've watched it, I've been far too worried about the unexplained wheels to notice anything else...Maybe it's a good show, maybe it's painfully stupid, I honestly have no idea.

To the lovely people who created this show: It's great and all that you came up with a concept that has never been done before, but I think you accidentally forgot to have it make any sense ... Just thought I should let you know cause that would be really embarrassing if it went out on the air like that and-- oh... wait... Never mind. Sorry dudes. I'll just... yeah, uh... I'll just let myself out, shall I?
...Oh, but before I go, will you do me a favor and tell me WHY THE ANIMALS HAVE WHEELS!!! Seriously guys, you gotta help me out! I need to understand! I'm going crazy here! Please! Just help me to understand! Why? Why?! WHYYY?!? D:

... that is all.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I can't believe I've never thought about this before...

Does anybody remember that show Bananas in Pajamas?
The one that was about bananas... and pajamas... and bears?


Yeah... uh... Whose idea was that? Who stood up during a brainstorming session at the production studio and said "Okay, you guys.... How bout this? Bananas... but, like wearing pajamas... We'll call it Bananas in Pajamas." And then, after that, who was the studio head that said "GENIUS! Bananas in Pajamas? It'll be a classic! We'll make millions! Get some writers on this immediately!" ?

Just wondering...