|And then Jake floated an air biscuit right into Finn's mouth, which ruined Finn's date with Flame Princess later that night. (Photo source: The Adventure Time Wiki)|
Dwayne Johnson is too busy rescuing troubled action movie franchises these days to reprise his one-episode Transformers Prime role as the easygoing Autobot Cliffjumper. So Billy Brown--who played the only cop character during season 6 of Dexter whose scenes didn't put me to sleep because the show didn't saddle his character with a soapy and tedious storyline about his personal life--takes over for Johnson as the voice of the deceased Autobot in flashbacks during "Out of the Past," the latest Transformers Prime episode.
Brown does an adequate job subbing for The Arsekicker Formerly Known as The Rock when the Autobot warrior Arcee (Sumalee Montano) flashes back to her first encounter with Cliffjumper. She recalls her fallen comrade (and flunks the Bechdel Test) while trying to comfort her Earthling friend Miko, who's been feeling depressed over the slow recovery of her currently disabled partner Bulkhead (Kevin Michael Richardson).
|(Photo source: Draqua's pad)|
"Out of the Past" is basically filler, but it's decently written and surprisingly profound filler, with a nice little twist (for a kids' show, that is) in the mismatched partnership between Arcee and Cliffjumper. Here, it's the male who's the more frivolous half of the duo, while the female is the more sober-minded warrior type. The presence of Arcee (who's been part of the franchise since 1986's The Transformers: The Movie), the substantial writing for her character and the creative input of female staff writers like the ubiquitous Nicole Dubuc (although a man wrote this episode) are among the reasons why this show is superior to the craptastic live-action Transformers movies. The trilogy didn't feature Arcee and wasn't co-written by women, so just like how according to that line in The First Wives Club, the only ages for women in Hollywood are babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy, the only kinds of roles for women in those Transformers movies (particularly the first two) were either "eye candy" or "Mom."
|(Photo source: The Adventure Time Wiki)|
Through his Twin Peaks-esque dream-speak ("I have cheap cars. My cars are che-e-e-ap. But they drive bad when I turn out the lights!"), Broderick's Dream Warrior provides Finn and Jake with pointers on how to defeat The Farm (Tom Gammill), "the legendary fighter of the Shiny Isles" and a giant monster who wears a barn as a shirt and knocks his enemies unconscious by dumping farm animals on their heads. The Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Election star's vocal cameo is amusing (and I didn't realize it was Broderick until the end credits pointed it out), but the centerpiece of this episode isn't Finn and Jake's encounter with The Dream Warrior. It's actually an earlier scene: the epic fight that erupts between Finn and Jake while they train together to prepare for fighting The Farm.
|(Photo source: The Adventure Time Wiki)|
The '30s and '40s East Coast street patois of the Fleischer cartoons may not have seeped into Adventure Time like the Fleischer studio's rubbery animation style has, but Finn and Jake's dialogue--despite the post-apocalyptic setting--is as contemporary-slangy as much of the dialogue in the Fleischer cartoons was when those shorts first dropped in movie theaters. When The Dream Warrior gives Finn and Jake a cryptic clue about the other name for sweatpants, Jake explains his disdain for what he calls "give-up-on-life pants" in that unmistakable Adventure Time delivery that's loaded with present-day slang and is sometimes peppered with post-apocalyptic Ooo-ese euphemisms like "Oh my Glob!"
"Peeps need to respect themselves when they leave the house," says Jake about the wackness of sweatpants in public, "even if it's just for ice cream or T.P. or whatevs." It's nice to know that Jake's opinions about fashion are similar to some of my own. I wonder if he's also as critical as I've always been about give-up-on-life shoes, or as some people call them, mandals.
|(Photo source: Well, This Is Me ^-^)|
Like Dipper in Gravity Falls' recent "Time Traveler's Pig" episode, Mordecai gets his hands on a time machine, which Rigby bought for $15, and uses it to correct a mistake he made while trying to woo his crush (in this case, bad breath while kissing Margaret). But Mordecai's plan goes awry when his past self steals the time machine to make out with Margaret, and with the help of an additional time machine that Rigby snapped up in a time machine sale, present-day Mordecai and Rigby chase after Mordecai's past self through time (and wind up in the backgrounds of previous episodes like last season's Evil Dead homage "Grave Sights," which pit the gang against actual zombies at an outdoor screening of a 3-D zombie movie starring a Bruce Campbell lookalike).
|(Photo source: Kat Morris)|
The dearth of first-run programming--whether animated or live-action--during Labor Day Weekend forced me to check out Cartoon Network's The Amazing World of Gumball, the creation of French-born British animator Ben Bocquelet, for the first time. The younger-skewing show, about a preteen cat named Gumball (Logan Grove), his suburban family, led by domineering mom Nicole Watterson (Teresa Gallagher), and his junior high classmates, which include his adopted brother and former pet goldfish Darwin (Kwesi Boakye), a robot named Bobert and a banana named Joe, isn't my kind of cartoon.
Sure, the fact that Gumball goes to school with a banana as a classmate automatically makes this show weird, but it's not delightfully nutso and surreal like Adventure Time, and very little of Gumball interests me as an older viewer, not like how the stories about workplace boredom or the adult predicaments of characters who are closer to my age (the recent "Trucker Hall of Fame" episode was a really good example of this) frequently capture my attention on Regular Show. Fortunately, Gumball's predicament in "The Fridge," this week's first-run Gumball episode--his mom's Type A personality and competitive streak begin to interfere with his enjoyment of being a regular kid--is something I can relate to, although the annoying Type A personalities I've had to put up with were found not in my family but in school and in my professional life.
|(Photo source: The Amazing World of Gumball Wiki)|
Of the three Dragons: Riders of Berk episodes that have aired so far, "Animal House," the first episode to air in the show's regular Tuesday night time slot of 7:30 on Cartoon Network, is the closest the show has gotten to recapturing the mystical and often dialogue-less feel of How to Train Your Dragon. The outstanding 2010 DreamWorks animated feature spawned Dragons and proved to the studio that their CG films don't need to be talky and loaded with pointless pop-culture references to hold the audience's attention.
|(Photo source: Berk's Grapevine)|