Your March Review Is…

Ah, it’s great to be back on schedule!

First of all, I’d like to thank for Gordhan Rajani for his generous donation to the Ocean Conservancy. Thanks to you the world’s oceans will be kept a little bit cleaner and safer for the species that call it home. Also, as requested, the film Song of the Sea has been added to the Shelf (appropriate, all things considered!)

Second, I’ve decided to keep the charity voting bonuses going for the time being. Don’t worry, donating is completely optional and you don’t have to give to all of the organizations I previously mentioned; one will do (though Cycle for Survival or the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival could use a little extra attention).

Thirdly, I’ve updated the list of films on the Shelf so every one links to their respective trailer; that way you can get an idea of what each film is like (even if some of the trailers are a tad off the mark).

Now on to this month’s results. Your movie for March is…

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Gravity Falls Review: “Carpet Diem” (S01E16)

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 Pines are spending the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle.

The episode starts with Dipper and Mabel playing mini-golf on a homemade course in their room, which looks awesome. I had my own creative ways of having fun when I was a kid, but I wish I thought of utilizing everything in my room to play the game like they did. Unfortunately, their fun is interrupted by the arrival of Candy and Grenda for their extra-glittery extra-girly sleepover with Mabel. Dipper is forced to spend the night outside to keep his sanity in tact.

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Hey, it’s better than being forced to watch 27 Dresses.

The next morning Dipper tells her that her constant sleepovers and messes are becoming impossible to live with. Seeing their golf course wrecked by the party the previous night is the last straw. He and Mabel try to lay down some rules about what they can and can’t do, which escalates into them complaining about the others’ habits and then deciding not to share the room anymore. They both go to Grunkle Stan demanding they each have a separate room, since he’s clearly a fair guy who can’t stand any fighting.

Grunkle Stan fight

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Charity Movie Vote for March!

Hi everyone, thanks for sticking with me during my absence. I realize that by springing a movie review out of the blue like that I didn’t give you the chance to vote for what comes next month. So let’s rectify that.

Having written a review of an older film, I’m in the mood to let my love for the classics show for a bit longer…

 

• The African Queen

• City Lights

• A Day at the Races

• The Great Dictator

• A Night at the Opera

• March of the Wooden Soldiers (Babes in Toyland, 1934)

• Singin’ in the Rain

• The Taming of the Shrew

• The Wizard of Oz

 

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions. Any and all film titles that you would like to vote for can be viewed at What’s On The Shelf. In fact, thanks to a small raise and a slightly bigger shelf I’ve been able to fit more movies on there than before, so I recommend you check it out.

 

Normally I’d re-post the rule stating that you can only vote once a month through email or the comments, but regarding the climate my country, and by extension the entire world is in (seriously, does the job of President make whoever takes it on a fisher king?), I’m amending that rule: anyone who makes a donation to any one of the following charities will get a few voting perks that are listed below.

Here are the charities:

American Civil Liberties Union: This organization has been defending the rights and freedoms of all American citizens, regardless of race, religion, class, and sexuality for nearly 100 years, but their forward thinking and open defiance of Trump’s hatefulness have put them in the spotlight recently. They donate all their time and research in overturning injustices perpetuated by those who stand for backwards racism, discrimination and homophobia – even in our own government – and protecting those who have no voice to speak up. Considering the times we are in now, they need all the voices they can.

Amnesty International: This organization works towards exposing and stopping all human rights abuses worldwide that are often ignored or covered up.

Covenant House: Covenant House provides a home for thousands of homeless youth and teenagers. They are welcomed with no discrimination and given warm food, care, and the support they need to make it off the streets. This charity has spread to all corners of the US, but seeing how it got its start in New York, which I know from firsthand experience how bad its the homeless problem is, it could use a little more love.

Cycle for Survival: This is a fundraiser that I am personally involved in. Every year people around the country come together in a cycle-a-thon that goes towards cancer research and treatment. My cousin has been fighting bladder cancer for the better part of a decade and one of the reasons why he’s still here is thanks to this organization. As his way of giving back, he has put together a team of his friends and family (including me) to cycle closer to eliminating cancer.

Human Rights Campaign: One of the leading nonprofit organizations in the country that works tirelessly to defend LGBT equality.

Ocean Conservancy: An organization that aims to preserve our planet’s oceans and underwater wildlife, from partnering with scientists to educate the public to the annual International Coast Clean-up.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival: A wonderful group I’m proud to have done design work for since last year, the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival is a week of film screenings and conferences held annually in New York, where filmmakers from around the world show works that educate, entertain, and inspire to preserve wildlife. It is a volunteer-only non-profit organization and any funds go to sponsoring the big conference as well as free screenings for the public held sporadically throughout the year. If we don’t get enough funding this year, it may very well close up for good.

 

And now, for the perks:

If you pledge $1 or more, you get my heartfelt thanks and a sincere virtual thumbs up.

If you pledge $5 or more, you can vote twice.

For $20 or more, you can tell me what movie you’d like to see on the Shelf and I will add it there.

And finally, for $50 or more, I will write a full review of a movie of your choice.

Make sure you send a receipt or proof of your donation so I know it’s legitimate. Seriously, lying about donating to charity for the sake of a review blog is not cool. Email me at upontheshelfshow@gmail.com to share it along with your vote. Thanks, and have a great day.

February Review: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Well, this has been an…interesting few months hasn’t it? 2016 refused to leave without taking a few more beloved stars with it, we saw a changing of the guard that has everyone either flocking to the church or the streets, heck, the last few weeks alone has thrown the world into such uncertainty and madness that I just want to lose myself in a bit of escapism that has nothing to do with what’s going on outside right now.

I’ve got it! Harry Potter! I love those movies. There’s nothing more magical and escapist than the tale of a boy who discovers he’s a wizard and goes to school and fights an evil power-mad sorcerer whose followers share his outspoken racism and Nazi-like methods of suppression…

Maybe a comedy is what I need. Something timeless and hilarious, like the Marx Brothers. Those guys are great! Their best movie is this one called Duck Soup where Groucho suddenly becomes president of an entire nation, puts a bunch of his crazy inept friends on his cabinet, and his loud mouth and ego plunges his country into a giant war…

You know, there’s a number of unappreciated animated gems I have on my Shelf, and one of them is Twice Upon a Time. Only recently released to DVD after years of petitioning from fans, it tells the tale of a mime and an Animorph with the voice of Garfield trying to stop a foulmouthed despotic little madman from turning the world into an inescapable bomb-ridden nightmare and OKAY THIS JOKE IS DONE.

The point is it’s been bloody difficult to find almost any form of entertainment that doesn’t feel touched by current events in any way. Many films that I usually enjoy in times of crisis have served as reminders of the world we’re living in now. Indiana Jones? Makes me wish that dealing with meddlesome Nazis was as simple as finding and opening the Ark of the Covenant. Star Wars? Hard to look at objectively now that my country has officially become the Empire. Disney? Bob Iger is on the council of a certain Oompa Loompa reject and is too afraid of losing profits if he stands up to his tangerine overlord.  I just…I just want something that can raise my spirits. Something other people in the film community and the public can get behind. A symbol.

Something that appeals to the best of us.

Something good.

Something decent.

Something pure.

Something…classic.

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Huh. Good thing I already put the film’s name in the title.

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Gravity Falls Review: “The Deep End” (S01E15)

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 Pines are spending the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack along with loyal goofball Soos and the ever-cool Wendy. Dipper finds a journal chronicling some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle and crushing hard on Wendy. Mabel, meanwhile, has her heart set on finding love before the summer is over and isn’t picky as long as it’s not the nefarious Gideon Gleeful.

It’s the hottest day of summer, and what better way to spend it than at the public swimming pool… as someone who’s been a summer camp counselor, I can think of a few good places. Yeah, I’m with Grunkle Stan on this one; “Nothing like sitting in a moist tub with strangers. It’s like the bus but wet.” Mabel’s attention is immediately drawn to a handsome teen stranger with flowing locks hanging out by an inflatable raft. Soos tells her he’s never seen him actually leave the pool, which adds to his intrigue. Since Mabel can’t go a week without having a new crush, she sets out to make him hers. Dipper reveals to Soos and Grunkle Stan that for all her boy craziness, she’s never actually had her first kiss yet.

Grunkle Stan gets pelted by water balloons from the lifeguard tower, and it turns out Wendy is the one who’s throwing them. She signed up to be a lifeguard for the privileges and recommends Dipper interview to be an assistant. Dipper, who would do anything to hang out with Wendy in a bathing suit, agrees, but he has to be approved by her boss Mr. Poolcheck first.

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Emotionally unstable doesn’t even begin to describe this guy. He feels like he came out of an episode of Ren and Stimpy. The outrageous animation, the hair-trigger temper, the obsession with pool rules, Poolcheck is a character that, ticked off or not, is terrifying and die-hard hilarious.

Grunkle Stan finds the perfect lawn chair to relax in, unfortunately Lil’ Gideon takes it and begins a war of minute proportions between the two. For manhandling Gideon, Wendy locks up Stan in pool jail while she and Dipper go abuse their power. Stan realizes he’s going to have to get tricky if he doesn’t want to end up in solitary.

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Mabel begins putting the moves on her crush and he is quickly taken with her as well. When she suggests they go to the snack bar, however, he dramatically tells her he has a terrible secret and she must stay away. This doesn’t stop her from trying to uncover the truth about him, all while being as unsubtle about it as possible. Finally, he reveals it to her.

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“Wow…how did I miss that while spying on you underwater?”

His name is Mermando, and he is a merman from the Gulf of Mexico. While swimming with the dolphins he was caught in a fisherman’s net and taken to Gravity Falls to be feasted on. He escaped his captivity but his attempts to swim upstream back home failed and he wound up stuck in the pool. He thinks this will scare Mabel away, but this makes her even more enamored with him.

Mabel promises to return that night after the pool closes to spend more time with Mermando. She brings her scrapbook and shows him pictures of her and her family and all the wonderful things they can do with their legs, which Mermando asks if they can skip.

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“The guy in the wheelchair I flirted with once said the same thing! Are you two related?”

Seeing pictures of the Pines’ together makes Mermando feel homesick for his family. He tried escaping once, but it was as short-lived as it was hilariously painful. He’s not too despondent over being trapped in the pool because he met Mabel, though he’s clueless when it comes to her attempts to kiss him.

The next day Poolcheck pulls Dipper aside after he catches him and Wendy using Blubs and Derland as ring toss targets with the life preservers. He is furious that someone broke in last night and broke the pool skimmer, and he puts Dipper in charge of catching the culprit. Mermando, meanwhile, can’t stop thinking about his family, and Mabel decides that she’s going to break him out that night and get him home.

Dipper goes on a stakeout and he catches who he thinks is the perpetrator – Stan. Turns out he’s only there to get the perfect seat hours before Gideon can steal it, though the idea of messing with pool supplies is one he’ll come back to later. Soos also appears to liberate the inflatable ducky floats (yeah, Wendy and Dipper trick him into thinking they’re alive and he spends the entire episode trying to rescue them. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds.) While Dipper chases Stan away, Mabel pulls in with the golf cart and a cooler full of water to transport Mermando in since her idea of making a pair of legs out of fish sticks didn’t go as planned.

When Dipper questions her for stealing pool supplies and she refuses to reveal Mermando’s existence, they embark on a high-speed chase to Gravity Falls Lake. Dipper throws water balloons to slow her down and one of them hits the spigot on the cooler, draining the water from it and causing Mermando to start suffocating. Mabel is forced to introduce Dipper and Mermando to each other. She begs him to save Mermando by giving him “reverse-CPR” from his lifeguard training. Dipper gargles water down Mermando’s throat until he’s able to breathe. He thanks Dipper for saving him…but mentions he could have just rolled him into the lake.

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Mermando’s throat is too sore from coughing to call out to his family. Mabel wants to give him the pool megaphone but Dipper says that if he loses any more supplies he’ll be fired. Mabel replies with a sentiment that hits very close to home – “Don’t you know what it’s like to fall for someone, even though you know in your heart that probably it’ll never work out, yet you’d do anything for them?” Dipper reluctantly gives it up for love. It’s goodbye for  Mabel and Mermando, but he leaves her a couple of things to remember him by: their first kiss, and also this –

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They return to find Poolcheck in an even greater rage on seeing the mess the pool area is in. Dipper takes the blame and hands over his whistle. He’s sad about it at first, but Wendy also got fired for taking too many snacks, so they decide to go have fun together elsewhere. Gideon finds Stan on his chair and is willing to concede defeat, but when Stan goes to shake his hand, he can’t move. Gideon gloats that he foresaw his plan and coated the chair in glue before Stan arrived. Mabel, meanwhile, receives the first of several messages in bottles from Mermando, hinting at the beginning of a beautiful long-distance relationship.

This is a fun episode, one of the rare ones in this show that could count as “slice-of-life” in my opinion. Sometimes, if you have the right characters, all you need is to see how they would spend a day by the pool in order to make an entertaining 20 minutes. Gideon and Stan’s escalating rivalry reaches new levels of pettiness, Dipper and Wendy grow closer and raises the question as to how aware she is of his crush on her, and Mabel and Mermando are so over-the-top romantic and goofy that they feel perfectly made for each other. Speaking of, Mermando is voiced by Matt Chapman, a writer on the show who does other miscellaneous voices, though his biggest claim to fame is that he’s one of the creators of Homestar Runner. He lends his voice to Homestar, Strong Bad, and nearly all the characters of Free Country USA, and working with him was a dream come true for Alex Hirsch because he’s a major fan (as evidenced here). I too enjoyed Homestar back when the site was something of an underground viral favorite, and learning that one of the men behind it was one of Gravity Fall’s top writers made me love this series even more. It also explains some of the really bizarre fast moments of comedy that appear every now and then that I can’t cover in reviews because they’re best enjoyed when they play out in front of you.

Also, a word to the wise if you plan on watching this episode: shortly after it aired, the Disney Channel demanded a line change from Grunkle Stan. When he tries to reflect some light on to Gideon to get him off of his chair, he says “Yes, burn the child…” It was revised to “Blind the child”, which makes more sense, but I find the previous line is funnier and more in line with Grunkle Stan’s character. Some online versions of the episode still keep the line. It’s a minor change, but one I felt worth mentioning.

And the Internet Went:

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Another fun romp with the Pines family. What more could you ask for?

End Credits Craziness:

Keep strong, little guy in solitary. Keep strong.

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“Allons enfants de la paaaaatrieee…”

Callbacks: Wax Grunkle Stan makes an appearance in the opening stinger to prove how hot it is by melting. Mabel mentions Norman in both “zombie” and gnome form when listing off potential weird boyfriends she already had before meeting Mermando (though the “cute vampires” she didn’t tell Dipper about have yet to make an appearance). Also, after a long absence, Tyler “Get ‘im!” Cutebiker is back!

Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: The capper to Mermando describing his humiliating escape attempt: “…And then the wolves came.”

Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): She’s in a bathing suit for most of the episode, but in the last act she’s in a blue sweater with bubbles and a sea horse on it. Appropriate for this episode.

Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I learned…ah, I got nothing for this one. I’m gonna go count down the minutes until summer is here.

Where’s that wacky triangle at?

Bill-Circle

Elsewhere…for now…

Next time on Gravity Falls, seize the rug! It’s “Carpet Diem”. See you then!


12-15-15-11 1-20 20-8-1-20 2-15-25, 23-1-19-14’20 8-5 19-23-5-5-20? 20-15-15 2-1-4 20-8-5-25 3-15-21-12-4-14’20 13-1-11-5 8-9-13 6-9-19-8-19-20-9-3-11-19 6-15-18 6-5-5-20. 1-14-4 25-15-21 23-15-21-12-4 20-8-9-14-11 13-1-2-5-12’19 20-8-5 7-9-18-12, 20-8-5 7-9-18-12 23-8-15 3-1-14 4-15 5-22-5-18-25-20-8-9-14-7…

Gravity Falls Review: “Bottomless Pit!” (S01E14)

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 Pines are sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle.

Stan shows off one of the Mystery Shack’s greatest wonders to Dipper, Mabel and Soos – the Bottomless Pit. Anything that goes in apparently doesn’t come out, nor can you hear it reach the bottom. It’s the perfect place to get rid of suggestion cards, unwanted love letters, and for Mabel, a chained-up box of secrets that certainly isn’t worth dwelling on.  A storm blows in and while the three want to head back to the Shack, Stan wants to finish dumping the cards. They blow back into his face and he accidentally pulls everyone down into the pit.

 

They fall deeper and deeper….

 

And deeper…

 

And deeper…

 

And deeper…

 

And they continue to fall…

 

Ok, you get the idea. They’re trapped in an empty black void with no idea when or where they’ll land. Soos suggests they take turns telling stories to pass the time. I’m going to go through each of the stories and who tells them instead of wasting time talking about the in-betweens.

 

Dipper: Voice Over

The gang at the Mystery Shack are fooling around when Dipper runs out screaming that he may have gotten bit by a snake. Everyone laughs at his constantly cracking puberty voice and how funny it sounds. It’s hard to take him seriously, but Mabel insists it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She and Soos even made a techno remix of it. Dipper storms off and bumps into Old Man McGucket in town. He tells him he has a way to alter his voice for good, and Dipper sees no harm in following a strange old man alone into an alleyway and drinking whatever he gives him.

The next morning, Dipper wakes up with the voice of an authoritative announcer/voiceover artist (A. Smith Harrison). Mabel and Soos are horrified by the change in his voice, barely recognizing him. Dipper tries to prove the new him is better by prank calling a random stranger, only to bump into that same stranger – the bouncer at the local tough guy hangout – on the street and be chased by him and an angry mob.

Dipper finds McGucket and tells him his invention was a disaster. McGucket quickly identifies the problem – he gave him a potion for professional voiceovers, morever, one that would have expired and left him with his old voice at sundown. He does have another potion that’s sure to work permanently. Dipper listens to the remix again and learns there’s a dedication to him and his one-of-a-kind voice at the end.

That evening Dipper returns home as his old self, which Mabel and Soos are happy to hear. Dipper decided to dump the potion into Grunkle Stan’s coffee, giving him the voice of a sassy black lady.

 

Soos: Soos’ Really Great Pinball Story (Is That a Good Title? Do They Have to Be Puns or Whatever?)

Soos is playing Stan’s old Western-themed Tumbleweed Terror pinball machine while Dipper and Mabel cheer him on. He’s determined to beat the high score and go down in pinball history. When he loses yet again, they suggest tilting the machine, even though that would be cheating. The machine itself taunts him through a talking desperado skull, which makes Soos decide to play dirty. Dipper and Mabel shake the machine despite the skull’s warnings and he gets the high score he’s always dreamed of.

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“Could this possibly be the greatest moment of my life?”

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“We have a new winner!”

The machine is not happy, however, and it zaps them into the game complete with Western clothing. What should be awesome turns deadly as the machine announces its intentions – it plans on killing them as revenge for cheating. It sics multiball mode on them and they hide in a saloon. Luckily Soos knows everything there is to know about this pinball machine, including where the manual switch is to turn it off. Dipper and Mabel distract the skull while Soos locates the switch. He discovers the cost of turning it off, however, is erasing all data from the game, including his high score. The skull is ready to suck Dipper and Mabel into oblivion, leaving Soos with the difficult choice. Eventually Dipper’s protests and his feelings for the kids win out and he shuts off the game.

They wake up safe and sound at home. Soos isn’t too sore over losing his life’s greatest accomplishment because he got a new one – saving his friends.

 

Grunkle Stan: Grunkle Stan Wins the Football Bowl

Against all odds Grunkle Stan wins the football bowl with the help of Foot-Bot and wins the respect of his fellow teammates as well as a huge trophy presented by a hot woman and Mabel, Dipper and Soos gets sick of this one pretty quickly so we move on to Mabel’s story.

 

Mabel: Trooth-Ache

Mabel gets fed up with Grunkle Stan’s constant lying to everyone, including the police, because she sees lying as always wrong. She seeks a solution in the Journal and finds an entry on truth-telling teeth, which force the wearer to be honest. After finding them out in the woods, she places them in Grunkle Stan’s mouth like a pair of false teeth, and they work…a little too well unfortunately, as he tells the truth about everything, including what he thinks of his customers, what he does in the bathroom, and his massive tax evasion. It all comes to a head when Sheriff Blubs and Derland show up at his door; earlier they caught Grunkle Stan teaching a bear to drive and he passed if off as a “seeing-eye bear” assigned by “Dr. Medicine”. It took them a while but they discovered there is no Dr. Medicine in Gravity Falls, and Stan is on the verge of telling them the truth and going to jail. Mabel has to lie in order to save Grunkle Stan from the big house and passes off his truths as part of a novel he’s writing about a crime-solving grandpa (also Blubs lost a lot of weight and definitely did not gain a few pounds. Yeah). The moment the cops leave, Mabel rips out the teeth, puts them in a trunk and dumps it down a hole where they’ll never be found again.

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A white light appears beneath them and Dipper realizes that the end is near. They hand on tight as they fall through…and up and out of the Bottomless Pit back where they started. Everyone decides it’s best not to dwell on how they wound up back at the beginning and agree to not speak of this incident again.

Then the sign Stan is leaning on breaks and he falls back in.

 

It’s interesting but not improbable that Gravity Falls decided to try an anthology episode. It’s a way the writers can create fun segments and have the characters do crazier things that deviate from the series’ norm with the added bonus of it possibly being written off as non-canon for the sake of the fans and continuity. Parallels to The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror or Futurama’s Anthology of Interest spring to mind. Admittedly what ties the stories together here isn’t all that interesting (though Mabel and Grunkle Stan have their moments), but the individual segments are all right. I feel like “Voice Over” is a meta commentary for anyone who complained about Jason Ritter’s voice being inappropriate for a twelve year-old boy. Funny how by this point most people got used to Dipper’s voice, so hearing something different come out of him sounds extra strange. Soos’ pinball story is my favorite; we get more insight to Soos’ character and his interaction with the kids are so much fun to watch. It also has the best lines (see below), not to mention too many funny moments to mention. “Trooth Ache” is another example of Mabel’s die-hard childishness that either tick fans off or they can’t get enough of. If Mabel’s arc for the series is eventually learning to grow up, this is one more milestone for her; she has to learn that lying isn’t always black and white, and she does so humorously. Some might say locking up the teeth and throwing them away negates that lesson, but I see it as her extreme way of making sure no one uses those teeth again. Overall, it’s a decent episode, but it’s not the last time we’ll see an anthology on this show, and it’ll be worth the wait.

 

And the Internet Went:

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Not bad for an anthology episode, though the second time around holds even more promise.

End Credits Craziness: Grunkle Stan patiently waiting for his fall to end.

Callbacks: Presuming Gompers the Goat ate his fez during the end credits of the last episode, Stan has a brand new fez on that he’ll keep for the rest of the series. Dipper brings up almost being eaten by Old Man McGucket’s Gobblewonker robot in his story. Also it’s revealed that Deputy Derland can’t actually read, which Mabel guessed in “Irrational Treasure”.

Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: “What is life, anyway, compared to the immortality of a high score?” ponders Soos as he debates between saving the twins or keeping his high score.

Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Dark blue with a wolf howling at the moon, yellow with a watermelon slice, blue with a mouse arrow, a blue Native American-style dress to match the Western pinball theme, and turquoise with a ball of yarn.

Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I learned a lot of things about friendship and truth and stuff…that I don’t feel like sharing. It’s been a long week.

Where’s that wacky triangle at?

Bill-Circle

Elsewhere…for now…

Next time, things go off “The Deep End”. See you then!


15-14-5 8-1-19 20-15 23-15-14-4-5-18 9-6 20-8-5 1-12-20-5-18-14-1-20-5 22-5-18-19-9-15-14 15-6 20-8-9-19 5-16-9-19-15-4-5 6-5-1-20-21-18-5-4 20-8-5-13 12-1-14-4-9-14-7 9-14 1 18-15-15-13 23-9-20-8 1 20-1-12-11-9-14-7 4-15-15-18-11-14-15-2 1-14-4 5-14-3-15-21-14-20-5-18-9-14-7 20-1-18-4-25 18-1-2-2-9-20-19, 13-1-4 20-5-1 16-1-18-20-9-5-19 1-14-4 1 18-1-22-9-14-7 17-21-5-5-14.

Advice for an Unfortunate Event

There are many, many things that are better than nothing. A home-cooked meal is better than nothing. A roof over one’s head is better than nothing. And a place to sleep, even if the bed is very small and the blanket is damp with tears is better than nothing.

But being raised in a violent and sinister environment by a man more interested in one’s fortune than in comfort and well-being is not better than nothing.

Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire, and when that happens, all good, true and decent people know that it’s time to volunteer.

– Lemony Snicket, “The Bad Beginning: Part One”, A Series of Unfortunate Events

 

Gravity Falls Review: “Boss Mabel” (S01E13)

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 Pines are sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle.

The episode starts with the Pines watching Grunkle Stan’s favorite wheel-related game show, Cash Wheel. Stan is drawn away from the tv by the arrival of a tour bus. Immediately he snaps into slave driver mode and makes everyone prepare the Mystery Shack for another batch of rubes. Dipper comments that Stan sees tourists as nothing but wallets with legs, but that’s not entirely true…is it?

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As the day continues, Stan shows the tourists his cheap-o attractions, including Dipper dressed in an embarrassing wolf costume. When he spies Mabel giving away a bumper sticker, he kicks her off the register. Mabel asks him whatever happened to politeness, but Stan doesn’t even know the meaning of “please” and “thank you”, let alone enjoy saying them. “‘Please’ never made me any money, kid.”

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Spoken like a true American.

Dipper chimes in with his frustration over the costume and asks why Stan would show off tacky exhibits when there’s actual fantastical things living in the woods. Stan tells them  to take it up with the complaints department, which also doubles as the Shack’s garbage can.

Later he has them spruce up the sign on the roof with Wendy and Soos, and they also commiserate over Stan; Wendy wants to have her friends visit while she’s at work but Stan won’t let her, and Soos’ dreams of being the Shack’s new mascot “Questiony the Question Mark” are constantly being shot down. Mabel vows to do something about it. She confronts Grunkle Stan in his office and he lays down a harsh truth – that you can’t run a business without being tough on your employees. If you’re nothing but nice then they’ll walk all over you. As someone who’s seen far too many substitute teachers be carted to the nut house, I can vouch for that fact. Mabel refuses to accept this, however, and insists that a little kindness can go a long way. Stan strikes up a wager – he’ll go on a short vacation and Mabel gets to run the Shack while he’s gone. If she makes more money than he does in three days, the Shack is hers and Stan has to do an apology song and dance. If she doesn’t, then she has to wear a shirt labeled “loser” for the rest of the summer. Mabel, convinced she has the deal in the bag, goes with it, unaware that Stan has a moneymaking scheme of his own: he’s going on Cash Wheel.

The next day, Dipper Mabel and Soos come in to work to find Mabel all prepped for the day. Soos doesn’t take the news that Stan is gone well until Mabel clarifies that he isn’t dead. Using a business handbook from the 80’s –

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– and style book if the shoulder pads are any indication…

Mabel has organized a way to keep her employees happy and motivated while putting out maximum effort. Her use of acronyms and stickers feel like something out of every employee orientation I’ve ever been to. If this CEO thing doesn’t work out, then Mabel has a hell of a future in Human Resources. The first thing she does is give her friends everything they want – Dipper’s costume goes in the shredder and he ventures to the woods to capture a creature, Soos gets to be Questiony the Question Mark, and Wendy is allowed to have her friends come over while she’s on duty. Stan, meanwhile, gets to skip auditions because, like certain other obnoxious old men, his rude attention-hogging behavior guarantees that he’ll get as much screen time as possible.

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Again, like a true American.

Mabel does a kickass job her first day via montage and we see the results of her new management: Dipper returns with a monster straight from the Journal, the Gremloblin – part gremlin, part goblin. Wendy has fun with her friends, but they end up breaking things and hitting a kid in the eye. Mabel gives his concerned mother a refund and tries to reprimand Wendy for her carelessness, but when Wendy says she’s starting to sound an awful lot like Stan, she caves in and gives her the day off with pay. As for Soos…

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This isn’t going like how he anticipated.

Stan for his part is doing well raking in money on the game show, though his obnoxiousness goes to another level when he starts undressing for the “cash shower” prize.

Dipper shows off the Gremloblin to a couple who are less interested in seeing the “fake” monster and more invested in the Shack’s fake dioramas. Dipper steers them back toward the creature with an interesting tidbit; if you look into its eyes, you’ll see your worst nightmare. That should be draw more people in, right?

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“Yuge…wall…so many…zeig heiling…Republicans…”

The Gremloblin should be ok as long as its kept in its cage and under a sheet, but unfortunately Mabel gave the monster the key for its five-minute break and it spends the night and most of the following day destroying the Shack, literally eating its profits, and playing with a singing salmon novelty toy nonstop. With Wendy out with her friends and Soos getting lost in the woods while taking a relaxing nature walk, Dipper and Mabel are the only ones who can stop it. Dipper reads in the Journal that they should use water, which Mabel does…then on the next page it continues that water should be the last resort as it makes the monster more dangerous. It evolves and nearly paralyzes Mabel its fearful gaze, but Dipper uses a mirror to expose its own fears.

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The Gremloblin flees as the third day approaches. Wendy and Soos arrive asking if they can take the day off, but Mabel has had enough. She lets them both have it for making her do their jobs for them and screams at them to get to work pronto before Stan returns. Mabel’s attitude doesn’t stop there. She jacks up the price of admission and pictures, put Soos on display as the “Horrifying Question Baby”, and runs Dipper and Wendy ragged.

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“You’ve become your Grunkle!”

It all pays off as they make enough money to fix up the Shack, but after they do so there’s only one dollar left in the profit jar – and then Stan returns home. He’s excited to share the news that he won $30,000 on Cash Wheel…but lost it all when he couldn’t guess the final word: please. It turns out that word CAN get you money. That means Mabel has won the bet, but she and the others insist that Grunkle Stan continue running the Mystery Shack. Mabel’s learned her lesson, and Stan has learned the power of politeness. All is right with the world.

Though there is the matter of a certain dance routine Stan promised he’d do…

 

“Boss Mabel” is a simple straightforward episode, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun to watch. Though you could probably guess what happens as the plot progresses, seeing things fall apart for everyone involved is hilarious. I consider the lesson Mabel learns another step forward for her character, and while Stan is still kind of a jerk by the end, that “please” is going to pay off in dividends. Also, what happens when Dipper tries to show off the Gremloblin is an interesting commentary on the nature of tourists and entertainment in general. Fry from Futurama once said something that sums it up nicely: “Smart things make us feel stupid, and unexpected things make us feel scared.” It says a lot that people would rather see the obviously fake and tacky exhibits than something fascinating that they can’t comprehend. Even then, when they first see the Gremloblin, they think it’s not real. They’d rather ignore something new and turn to something comfortable and safe. Who says a children’s cartoon can’t be deep? The jokes and the characters are what really keeps me coming back to this episode, and while I don’t know if I’d put it among my Top 10, it’s pretty close.

 

And the Internet Went:

nod

A fun little episode that gives us some insight as to why the five main characters of the show work so well, both on their own and with each other, with plenty of laughs to be had. Well done, writers.

End Credits Craziness: Enjoy.

Callbacks: Some of Stan’s exhibits from other episodes make a return. The cloning copy machine is still in his office.

Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Mabel’s acronym of S.E.L.V.E.S. to help motivate her employees – “Satisfied Everyday Living life Very much Everyday Satisfied”. It’s something that’s so her and also perfectly in line with the position she’s holding.

Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Burger and fries pattern. Mmm, anyone else feeling hungry?

Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I’ve learned that sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind, but don’t lose yourself in order to get ahead either.

Where’s that wacky triangle at?

Bill-Circle

Elsewhere…for now…

 

Next time, tales of horror abound in “Bottomless Pit!”. See you then!


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Gravity Falls Review: “Summerween” (S01E12)

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 Pines are sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town. He vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle, and winning his crush Wendy from her jerk boyfriend Robbie.

Happy New Year everyone! Continuing with my unusual habit of the wrong holiday-themed movie/episode at the wrong time, here’s a Halloween episode. Yes, a Halloween episode in a series that takes place during the summer. How do they pull it off? The answer is simple; the people of Gravity Falls love Halloween so much that they celebrate it during the summer and call it Summerween (it went over better than their decision to adopt Decemberween, I can tell you that much).

Grunkle Stan takes Dipper, Soos and Mabel to the Summerween superstore to stock up on decorations, candy, and assorted doo-dads to scare all those who dare to cross the Mystery Shack’s threshold that evening. The store is run by the unsung tragic hero of this episode.

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This woman. This fucking woman. This woman who is not even given a name or character description beyond Sumerween Superstore worker. Where do I begin with her? She doesn’t just hate her job. She’s one overly-optimistic sponge co-worker away from wearing a “I really really wish I was doing anything but being here right now button”. And who can blame her? Soos and The Pines are running completely amok messing with the displays, causing chaos and running off with merchandise thanks to Grunkle Stan’s smoke bombs and “Stan Bucks”. As someone who has worked three years of retail as of the time this is being written, I’ve had to put up with this kind of crap before. Though it isn’t shown, it’s more than implied that she deals with this on a near-daily basis. I haven’t grown as bitter towards the holiday as she has, but even in the face of blatant disrespect and disregard she is still giving it her all.

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Hail to thee, unnamed worker. Hail to thee.

Dipper and Mabel get ready for trick-or-treating and we get to see some of their history with Halloween. Halloween is their favorite holiday, and seeing how they’re twins they’ve worn identical themed costumes every year that have scored them bucketloads of sweets. Dipper helps himself to some of the candy that will be handed out that night. Unfortunately, it’s “loser candy” that tastes terrible and aren’t as popular as name brand candy. Soos warns them to keep their complaints to themselves lest they invite the wrath of the Summerween Trickster. According to legend, this holiday monster devours children lacking the Summerween spirit. Dipper ignores him and promptly tosses the candy out, unaware that he’s being watched.

Wendy shows up with Robbie and when Robbie insinuates that Dipper’s going trick-or-treating with all the other kids, she inadvertently makes a comment that he’s way too mature to do that. She invites him to a party at Tambry’s that they’re going to and Dipper promises to meet her there. He realizes after she leaves, however, that he has to tell Mabel that he won’t be going trick or treating with her.

Candy and Grenda show up to join Mabel and Dipper appears sans costume faking a cold. Mabel demands that he fight through it for the sake of free candy when there’s a knock at the door. A large shadowy figure in scarecrow clothes and a tiny smiley face mask asks for candy and Dipper shuts him out cold for being way too old.

I’m guessing now would be a good time to wonder if anybody in these situations has ever watched Beauty and the Beast.

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