Gravity Falls Review: “Roadside Attraction” (S02E16)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls: Summer in Gravity Falls has gotten a bit more crazy ever since Grunkle Stan returned his twin brother and Journal Author Ford Pines from another dimension. Though the brothers are still at odds over a decades-old falling-out, this hasn’t stopped Dipper from trying to get to know the side of his family he shares his brains from, Grunkle Stan from running the laboratory-turned-tourist trap known as The Mystery Shack, or Mabel from her calling of matchmaker, even with the looming threat of a demon with universal aspirations…

Now that the Mystery Shack has become the one place on Earth that is completely safe from the machinations of Bill Cipher, there’s only one thing that the Pines family can do now –

ROAD TRIP!!

Wait, what?

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Gravity Falls Review: “The Last Mabelcorn” (S02E15)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls: Summer in Gravity Falls has gotten a bit more crazy ever since Grunkle Stan returned his twin brother and Journal Author Ford from another dimension. Though the brothers are still at odds over a decades-old dispute, this hasn’t stopped Dipper from trying to get to know the side of his family he shares his brains from. But some questions might be better left unanswered, especially when there’s a certain triangular nightmare demon involved…

It’s nighttime. The Pines family are sound asleep in the Mystery Shack. But Ford’s dreams are unsettling ones as an old foe makes himself known.

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Bill’s happy to see his “friend” has returned, but the feeling’s far from mutual. Bill tells him that shutting down the portal hasn’t stopped his plan, and once the rift that’s keeping their dimensions separate has slipped out of Ford’s hands, well, it won’t be good. Ford wakes up in a cold sweat; the first thing he does the next morning is warn Dipper and Mabel about Bill, but is astounded when he learns they’re already more than familiar with him. Ford tells them that Bill is the most dangerous being he’s met, and if he achieves his goals no one will be safe. He does have a plan to protect his family by “Bill-proofing” the Mystery Shack. The only thing he needs is some unicorn hair, which can only be procured on a magical quest by a maiden who’s pure of heart.

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You called?

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Christmas Reviews: “Arnold’s Christmas”

In my last episode I talked about Rugrats and how big a part of my childhood it was. While nothing will ever change that, there’s one other Nicktoon that came out a few years later which certainly rose in my estimation as I got older.

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Originally a character created by Craig Bartlett as a series of claymation shorts for Sesame Street, Hey Arnold was a show that brought us a colorful cast of characters and taught some surprisingly deep life lessons when not making us crack up. It centers around the titular Arnold, your seemingly average nice guy kid who’s the voice of reason among his group of eclectic friends and the kooky boardinghouse he calls home (and if it were up to me the complete series DVD set would come in a box shaped like that boardinghouse and have the stampede of animals from the into pop out when you open it, but we can still dream). Boasting a jazzy soundtrack, unique character designs, great voicework done by actual kids instead of adults posing as them, and some unforgettable moments of humor and heartbreak, it’s become a cult classic that 90’s kids like myself consider one of the very best of the original Nicktoons. And of course this past November, after fifteen agonizing years of wondering and waiting, we finally got the long-awaited Jungle Movie where the mystery of what the heck happened to Arnold’s parents was solved, so this is my one chance to hit on one of the standout entries to this classic series while the iron’s still hot. Let’s take a look at “Arnold’s Christmas”.

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Christmas Reviews: “The Santa Experience”

For a very brief couple of seconds on October 9th of this year some of you may have noticed that this review went up all of a sudden just to disappear as quickly. I’ve said before it was due to some issues trying to reschedule the review for another date in December and had to give away the surprise that I’d be looking at more holiday shorts. Well, here’s the actual review. Let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint as I review at another nostalgic staple from my childhood, Rugrats.

An animated show that takes place from the point of view of a baby doesn’t sound like a particularly risky idea, but back when it was among the first crop of original Nicktoons to be pitched to Nickelodeon, it was. Suffice it to say that the gamble paid off and up until Spongebob dethroned it Rugrats was Nickelodeon’s golden child. I was very young when Rugrats came out and it was the very first show I remember being obsessed with; dolls, toys, books, clothes, you name it and I had it. The movies actually hold up pretty well too (except Rugrats Go Wild, that can burn in the deepest recesses of Hades). I even went to the live show. The freaking cheesy as hell live show. I mean the premise of the entire series was actually relatable though the main characters were about 4-5 years younger than me; they had a great deal to learn about the world around them and often got lost in fantastic adventures using their imaginations while the yuppie parents went about being completely oblivious 80% of the time. That was my bread and butter when I was in my single digits.

The characters were also basic but likable and cute to boot; you got Tommy the intrepid leader always looking to explore everything, his best friend Chuckie the fraidycat who always had some sort of new phobia to conquer (and was my favorite by the way), the gross-loving twins Phil and Lil, and Tommy’s bratty cousin Angelica whom everyone loved to hate, myself included. More characters were added along the way like the badass Susie, Tommy’s infant brother Dil, and Chuckie’s stepsister Kimi, each one bringing something new and diverse to the show.

I’m not gonna say that it was the perfect animated show or the standard all kids shows should emulate though; I mean for one thing if this took place in the real world the babies would have been taken away by child services now because it surprises me just how wrapped up in their own problems the adults could be. Most of the time they neglect the kids long enough for them to get out of the playpen or stroller and wander around a strange area and nearly endanger themselves. That and the usual foray into poo-poo humor you’d expect when dealing with characters that are barely 2 years old. Some of the toilet jokes I remember would make Shrek gag in disgust. But hey, sometimes you gotta appeal to the lowest common denominator for kids. It doesn’t completely take away the fact that at its best it was a very cute show that played a major part in building Nickelodeon’s identity.

So how does their take on the most wonderful time of the year hold up? And why is it called The Santa Experience anyway? Let’s take a look.

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Gravity Falls Review: “The Stanchurian Candidate” (S02E14)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:

Sigh…

You ever have something you liked to watch that became difficult to fully enjoy after an event with highly negative repercussions  played out in an eerily similar manner to that bit of entertainment?

Well, that’s this episode for me. And House of Cards. And any episode of a comedy show where an amoral highly unqualified lunatic runs for office and we’re supposed to laugh at it because there’s no way anyone like that could actually win and endanger virtually the entire world for their own selfish gain, am I right people? Don’t get me wrong, there’s things I like about The Stanchurian Candidate that I still like now, but in the aftermath of the 2016 election there’s something about it that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

To put it in perspective, The Stanchurian Candidate came out when Mayor Bellweather’s “human” counterpart was just beginning to make his political aspirations known. Like the very idea of Stan running for mayor, it seemed like a complete joke, a joke you could milk the hell out of ’cause, well, see the above response. No matter how much money or renown you have there’s no way anyone that short-sighted, ridiculously self-absorbed, or capable of spewing that much meme-worthy gibberish could actually win. Then, against all odds, though mostly with PR playing around behind the scenes among other things…well, you know the rest.

And suddenly the idea having a meme generator at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world is not funny anymore. Quite the opposite in fact. You need only look at the news to prove that.

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Pictured: Shelf, November 9th, 2016

But enough dawdling. Let’s look at The Stanchurian Candidate and see why this innocuous episode of a hit animated show was an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.

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Christmas Reviews: “The Spongebob Christmas Special (Christmas Who?)”

All right, I have to start with a bit of a confession:

I freaking love Spongebob Squarepants.

Yes it’s been overplayed and overmarketed to death.

Yes the internet is overly saturated with memes spawned from it.

Yes Nickelodeon has dragged it out far longer than it should have like some other animated shows starring yellow characters I could mention to the point where the characters are zombie versions of their old selves.

None of that can ruin the classic first few years of its existence for me. When it was good, it was really freaking good; like Seasons 2-8 of The Simpsons good – bright, colorful and silly with wry and surreal humor that appeals to both kids and adults without pandering to one or the other. My friends and I still quote it in our conversations and it never fails to crack us up. I still regard it as one of the best cartoons to come out of the past two decades (it’s been on air for almost 20 years now, holy shit I feel old…)

So needless to say getting to finally talk about one of my favorite episodes, the Christmas one, has got me as excited as our titular character doing double overtime at the Krusty Krab. Let’s take a look at The Spongebob Christmas Special, aka “Christmas Who?”

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Christmas Reviews: “Marge Be Not Proud”

Happy Holidays everyone! That’s right, as a present to you all for sticking around for so long without consistent movie reviews, I’m bringing back mini Christmas reviews for the month of December. Once a week leading up to December 25th I’ll be sharing thoughts on some of my favorite shorts, specials and TV episodes that center around the most joyful time of the year.

Speaking of stories, sometimes the best ones can come from personal, even uncomfortable places. Mike Scully, longtime Simpsons writer who was behind the episode we’ll be looking at today, was once pressured as a boy to engage in some shoplifting and was caught almost immediately. The experience traumatized him, but as he jokingly told Variety in an interview, “It’s great to be paid for reliving the horrors of your life.” “Marge Be Not Proud” could have been an episode that wouldn’t feel out of the ordinary if it took place on any given day, but the fact that Scully decided to have it happen around Christmas gives it some extra weight both in context of the plot and in real life. This was the first Simpsons Christmas episode since “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, exactly six years ago to the day. Let’s see if it lives up to that one’s standards.

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Gravity Falls Review: “Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons” (S02E13)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel have learned that their family tree extends a bit further than they thought when Grunkle Stan returns the Author of the Journals and his long-lost twin brother the REAL Stanford Pines (“Ford” for short) from a distant dimension. There’s little cause to celebrate, however, since their reunion has brought old tensions to the surface. Dipper wants nothing more than to pick the Author’s brain but Mabel fears that this could be the beginning of the end for the Mystery Twins’ perfect sibling relationship, just like how it was for Stan and Ford. There’s no way one could lead to the other though, right…?

So it looks like things are settling back into how they used to be. Dipper’s got his head in the Journals, and Grunkle Stan and Mabel are hanging around doing their favorite activity together, absolutely nothing.

Then Ford emerges from his lab tackling a blood-sucking octopi-Cyclops.

As you do.

Ford subdues the creature and turns down Dipper’s offer to help dispose of it before returning to the basement. Stan warns Dipper to stay away from his brother and his crazy dangerous shenanigans, something that Dipper simply can’t do now that the Author of the Journals is living in their own home; not even Mabel planning a viewing party for Ducktective’s season finale can distract him from his thirst for answers.

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Gravity Falls Review: “A Tale of Two Stans” (S02E12)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

BE WARNED – THIS IS A MAJOR EPISODE AND THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

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Gravity Falls Review: Not What He Seems (S02E11)

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If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

BE WARNED – THIS IS A MAJOR EPISODE AND THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

Previously on Gravity Falls:Dipper and Mabel Pines have been spending the summer in Gravity Falls, a place where the supernatural is a daily occurrence and their Grunkle Stanford Pines runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack…during daytime hours. After dark Stan has been working on a giant machine deep within the Mystery Shack, one that’s been hinted at in the enigmatic Journal written by an anonymous Author and kept by Dipper. As for its purpose who can say, but as Stan comes closer to fulfilling his goal, the authorities – and the countdown to doomsday – are closing in…

Night has fallen on Gravity Falls, and once again Stan is hard at work with his portal. While flipping though his Journal, he skims over a warning that overusage could lead to gravitational anomalies and endanger the area. But Stan’s come too far to give up now. The portal is ready at last. He activates it, briefly causing everyone and everything in Gravity Falls to levitate as they slumber, and the countdown begins:

Within eighteen hours, the world will be changed forever.

…Special abbreviated intro time!

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