Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Waiting for Gumball" Review

"We've run out of marzipan!"

For some reason, cartoon shorts are always hard for shows to pull off.

And generally speaking, it's easy to see why. Cartoons already have to work within the limitations of an 11-21 minute block to tell a cohesive narrative with a start, middle, and end, and they have to relish every second they can get. Rob them of a huge chunk of that time, and the chance for meaningful storytelling often ends up painfully incapacitated.

The extent to which "Waiting for Gumball" suffers, though, far exceeds that, thanks to a few more frustrating variables thrown into the mix. First and foremost, the entirety of "Waiting for Gumball" was the creation of Joe and Becky, the folks behind "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared" whom you probably recognize from "The Puppets." As you probably know - assuming you read my stuff - one of my largest issues with the episode was its inability to bridge the gap properly between TAWOG's and DHMIS' sensibilities, with both ultimately being woefully watered down, trapping the episode in a mediocre in-between that teetered on the unnerving but without the ability to truly commit. "Waiting for Gumball" is that, but even more watered down; rid of the show's appeal, we only get that subdued DHMIS half, but without anything to really justify how dull it was, and the result was a weirdly unnecessary compromise.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The News

"News news news news, blah, blah, blah, filler, filler, filler. Which leads us to the most important question: what was the point of all that?"
First of all, "The News" is, by no means, a flawless episode. I know some people have said it is, that it's the pinnacle of the series, blah blah blah... but it's not. Even with the inevitable hits and misses, though, "The News" offered up something genuinely exciting, especially so late into this season: risk-taking. This is (or rather, was, but I'm trying not to let that frustrate me too much - save it for the "Quotes and Notes") a live-action fake news program masquerading as an episode of a children's cartoon. That's one of the most ambitious things the show's managed to pull off, throwing all caution in the wind at the chance to try something different. And, in all fairness, the show did a pretty great job at it.

Also, apologies in advance, this review will be a mess. Trying to cohesively discuss an episode centered around incorporating as many premises as possible is frustratingly difficult.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The Puppets

"Is it me or was that kinda... underwhelming?"
Here's a quick disclaimer: I'm not all that invested in the abstract ambiguity that "The Puppets" dwells in, and that's a huge issue considering the fact that the excitement of the episode lies squarely in that aspect. I do think, though, that the episode's reliance on chasing the ambiguity was at the cost of the episode's overall enjoyment. In trying to bridge the gap between Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's off-the-hinge, sinister tones and TAWOG's delicate subtleties and overall energy, both sides took a compromise.

And yes, I'm fully aware that taking that stance is a bit mean to the episode, considering TAWOG willingly gave itself up to the creative brain forces of DHMIS - Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, who were credited as head writers - but for all the work they do, the episode never quite feels comfortable with itself, and putting the two creative forces together wasn't quite a match made in heaven, if I may be so bold. Just... ride along for a second.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The Petals

"Look, don't worry. True beauty is found on the inside - your personality." "Good-looking people don't need a personality! Personalities were invented by ugly people to make up for what they lack on the outside!"
Of all the episodes to come out of this batch, perhaps it's a bit odd to label the filler episode as the best, especially next to a controversy-hound, a reference fest, and a style-swapper, but "The Petals" succeeds in its incisiveness yet utter simplicity. Part social commentary, part gardening show, part psychological horror... it's got everything you could want. The best part, though, is how unassumingly the whole episode starts out before quickly gathering momentum and hitting as many  ridiculous high notes as you could imagine.

The episode starts out with a simple idea: Leslie's beauty is fading, so Gumball and Darwin decide to do everything in their power to return the poor guy to his former glory. What we get, at least leading up to the tonal shift midway through the episode, is exactly that: a series of consistently successful and creative gags running the gamut from botany to social psychology. And it all makes sense, too. Leslie is designed to be a vain character, and being a flower is a major proponent of that. The idea of his eventual wilting is thus the perfect opportunity to play around with the character more while exploring how his mind operates, something we hadn't really gotten a proper glimpse of prior.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The Nusiance

"Bet you guys feel really big, don't ya? Picking on the poor, defenseless billionaires."
"The Nuisance" is an incredibly difficult episode to talk about when it really, really shouldn't be, and I think everybody knows why. But to sum up the extent of the episode's issues with a singular sentence, the extent of which this review will simply hammer in very angrily:

I really wish they stuck to a less loud design choice because the sheer amount of unnecessary, misconstrued attention the episode is getting was inevitable when it really shouldn't have been.

In the same way that "The Best" will forever be immortalized for making fun of SJWs, "The Nuisance" will henceforth, for the rest of time, be the "Oh my God, they made a joke about Trump deporting the Wattersons :3" episode. The issue is that pigeonholing "The Nuisance" as some cold-blooded jab is both blatantly wrong and obstructs the point of the whole episode. For Christ's sake, this one is about freaking economics more than anything else.

Further, the angle the show is going for isn't guided by some political agenda, even if a bit of knife-twisting finds its way in. The whole message behind the episode is that the Wattersons are the Wattersons, and they play on their own terms. First, they're faced with pressures to conform or else face being moved across the country, the result of which is a horrific homogenization of their family as a poster 1960s suburban family with a few too many "How-dee-doodle-a-doos" in their lexicon.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The Line

"Uh, I'll have you know that I am the president of the Stellar Odyssey Fan Club... Elmore chapter." "Really? I thought you'd be into, like... tea and stuff."
"The Line" is that it's basically just "The Uncle" but for Star Wars. I have never seen Star Wars. Thus, I am blatantly unqualified to be discussing this episode. Tune in tomorrow where we'll be disc- fine, I'll talk about it, but this is my choice.

But at the same time, my lack of an ability to grasp everything is a bit of a broader issue with the episode. There's nothing wrong with making a sly reference here and there, but just like, again, "The Uncle," "The Line" takes the position of jabbing at us and asking "Huh, did you get that one?! The Holiday Special?! The Cabornite?! Ooooh, Trash Compactor, that's a pun AND a gag!" There's nothing organic to the delivery, nor do enough of the jokes stand on their own two feet in the case that anybody in the audience (me) is left in the dark.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Amazing World of Gumball Review: The Singing

"The day / might be gray / you can chase all your troubles away / when you're singing."
Honestly, my experience with musical episodes of cartoons is incredibly limited, basically just to "My Fair Hatey" from Wonder Over Yonder. As such, I don't know if I'm of the utmost qualification to evaluate what really makes a musical episode "good" or "bad." I'm just sort of going off of aaand this article already sucks.

I have the chance to pull some stupid stunt that nobody else has the balls to do and I'm not ceasing upon it. You know what that means? I'm done with all this analysis for a day. I already wrote three other reviews in the span of six hours and I'm falling apart. School's already started up again and there's no other chance I'd ever have to do this but now.

So I'm doing it. To the tune of, y'know, that one song that proliferated the whole episode. You know the one. This one.