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...


Meg said...

I was watching something recently and I couldn't believe what they were getting past the censors. But now I can't remember what it was. Maybe Batman the Animated Series? I'm pretty sure it was a cartoon...it was pretty hilarious, whatever it was. Also, you would be much happier watching My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic. I'm not even kidding, it's bizarre how many 20-somethings-or-older are fans. And yes, I am including myself in that. It's worth it just for Dr. Whoof (My Little Timelord)! (Are you a Doctor Who fan? I can't remember. Is it time for me to go to bed? Definitely.)

WV: untrast

Eileen said...

Hahaha...this is hilarious. :) You're right, the character do look like their angsty teenage counterparts...Have you considered going into some sort of career as a critic? Because you pick up on a lot of stuff that people usually miss. Plus your writing is really fun to read. Just sayin'.

The Erin said...

I've considered it and I think it would be fun. I LOVE to overanalyze thing. Just a matter of getting somebody to pay me for my ramblings.

Devin said...

Clearly I'll never clear the aisle to watch this show.