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Re-Evaluating my opinions on SpongeBob Season 1-8

EmployeeAMillion

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Kracked Krabs (Season 7, Episode 6b)
Original Airdate: September 11 2010*
Episode 255 in standard order, Episode 273 in airing order
*copyrighted 2009
Plot: Mr Krabs is nominated for a crab-based award, and invites SpongeBob to the ceremony
Written by Luke Brookshier, Nate Cash and Mr Lawrence

[titlecard]132B[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Kalua Jubilee

In my review of Penny Foolish, I pointed to Season 6 as being a turning point in Mr Krabs’ greed and how it affected the stories told on the show, and brought this episode’s up as an example. Looking back on my thoughts of this episode, they’ve always been determined by how seriously I took the show. I didn’t like it at a time when I was being introduced to how terrible of a character he became, but I’ve grown to appreciate how it deals with him being a cheapskate without going overboard in making him unlikeable. However, does this episode succeed on its own merits?

A recurring trend at this point in the show is an opening scene where SpongeBob is making a few jokes in the kitchen unrelated to the episode. This is one of the cases where it starts that way, with him cutting up fries in his head before frying them, only to be called into Mr Krabs’ office. The reason is because they’re going to a cheapskate convention, and I love how the requirement to being a cheapskate is you have to be a crab. That just perfectly gives more meaning behind Mr Krabs’ love of money and how cartoon crabs are often given exaggerated claws, making these particular ones literal penny-pinchers. On the downside, we’re never given a reason as to why Krabs wants SpongeBob to come along with him. Sure it’s nice to see SpongeBob throughout the rest of the episode, but perhaps two words like “fer assitance” or “under cahntract” would’ve given a bit of a richer story.

The way the duo gets to their hotel is by mailing themselves there with a 1¢ tax, but one of Krabs’ competitors gets there through his luggage charge-free. Right off the bat, you’re given a taste of what Krabs’ competition is like, with them all wearing business suits and bearing a lust of cash. Heck, the videos they send in show them being cheap, but in a less funny way than Krabs. I guess the award for the cheapest crab in Bikini Bottom plays out more like a film festival than anything original and engaging. Krabs seems to have the lead, until he tells SpongeBob to go onstage and exaggerate, which he has a hard time doing. Yeah, I know bringing up past skills isn’t something you should do when reviewing SpongeBob characters, but this is a far cry from the comedy prince he was in Squirrel Jokes. It’s more noticeable when he messes up and exaggerates Mr Krabs’ good side, in a display that reminds me of Shell of a Man without the naval/tough guy zing.

This results in Mr Krabs being disqualified, and during this turn of events I’m not thinking “It’s horrible this group of people hates kindness”, I’m instead thinking “Wow, this hotel looks pretty good”. SpongeBob and Mr Krabs think so aswell, as they exaggerate how much they steal, and I think they finally taught their audience a good comedic use for exaggeration. Sure they get caught stealing their entire hotel room which somehow lands Mr Krabs back in first place, but at least you get the right message of what exaggeration is- while Mr Krabs says it’s all about sprinkling lies, kids will pick up on it meaning to make something sound or seem better or worse in some way. While not a perfect package, it’s a story that does its job and I couldn’t ask much more from this season.

Of the episodes in Season 7 so far, this has to be the one most routed in its jokes, but it’s a shame they can be hit-or-miss. There are a few good gags here, like SpongeBob offering daddy names to call Mr Krabs by, to which he rejects each and every one, and the short Mr Krabs presents where he sells free Krabby Patties, but charges his customers for every step they take. However, the bad stuff often falls back on the episode being immature or generic, like SpongeBob being caught between a bellboy’s buttcheeks, and the coin-and-rope trick jokes aren’t as fast or enjoyable as they were before.

As for animation in this episode, I don’t know whether to commend it for giving off so many designs for different crabs, or disappointed they didn’t make them different colours. At least in Squidville, you have all the octopi in Tentacle Acres wear different clothes which broadens their personalities, despite them intentionally being a hivemind at the end of the day. I’m also a little split on whether I should call the design of the hotel good. Sure it has Hawaiian aesthetics and vivid colours, but so has every hotel featured in the series so far. I’d dare even say Krusty Towers still looks a little better than this. The only major gripe I have with the animation is the design of the briefcases when filled to burst, which simply didn’t need to look so crumpled up.

Onto the characters in this episode, I’ll start with SpongeBob. Although he occasionally feels more like filler than a real part of the story, his one blunder in talking about how nice Mr Krabs is is a rather interesting scene. Sure he’s only making things harder for his boss, but it’s in-character for him to get up onstage and spout the positive aspects of his friends, even if this is a situation where he really shouldn’t have. As for the cracked Krabs himself, this episode puts him in a much better light than I remember him to be in. After all, he seemed to be the only crab who wanted to make his video funny, while others just did cheap things. I think this episode could’ve been more interesting if the other crabs hated that video, as he wasn’t being sour enough, with SpongeBob complimenting his actions sealing the deal. Then again, I’m once more spouting suggestions 9 years too late.

In general, Kracked Krabs may just be one of the best episodes of the season so far, but that’s some faint praise. I don’t see myself rewatching this episode in the future unless it’s for a couple specific jokes, even if the story itself is good, and the implication I got from it that “Mr Krabs is different to other crabs because he has a genuine, honest employee at his side” is a much better description than this episode deserves. Heck, it’s ironic that an episode that teaches about exaggeration is one that I can’t really exaggerate my feelings about to conclude the review. That doesn’t make it a mediocre package, just serviceable.

2 (Scummy)
12. A Pal for Gary
11. Someone’s in the Kitchen with Sandy
3 (Bad)
10. Stuck in the Wringer
9. Tentacle Vision
8. Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful
4 (Bad)
7. Greasy Buffoons
6. Yours, Mine and Mine
5 (Average)
5. I <3 Dancing
4. Growth Spout
6 (Average)
3. Kracked Krabs
2. The Inside Job
7 (Good)
1. Model Sponge

Question of the Day: If you were to take part in this contest, what would be the prank you film?
HARDMODE: You can’t go to Japan and film a dead body.

Tomorrow’s episode is wetter and better, take it from me.
:sbthumbs:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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The Curse of Bikini Bottom (Season 7, Episode 7a)
Original Airdate: October 24 2009
Episode 256 in standard order, Episode 248 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick are turned into ghosts after disturbing the Flying Dutchman
Written by Luke Brookshier, Nate Cash and Mr Lawrence

[titlecard]133A[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Gothic Adventure

Although a couple episodes in future seasons would feature ghosts, such as Ghoul Fools and Seance Shmeance, this is the last episode until 2017’s The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom to focus on the Flying Dutchman. He always struck me as a good character who never really had any bad appearances. Sure there were some duds along the way like Born Again Krabs and Money Talks, but they were never because he was handled poorly in particular. I remember his temporary outro from the series being pretty good, and one of the few real highlights of this season, so I went in with pretty high expectations.

The story opens with SpongeBob and Patrick lying outside, bored out of their minds. Before it can become full-on Toy Store of Doom, they try to make something of their day and end up playing in “Old Man Squidward”’s shed. They eye his lawnmower and surprise Squidward by asking to use it. Squidward tries to refuse, but then thinks about how much harm they’d go through if they use it incorrectly. It’s a little psychopathic, but a pretty funny Squidward joke. Needless to say, he allows them free range to play with it, but things take a dark turn when they end up in the cemetary and disturb the Flying Dutchman’s grave. He talks to himself about how he’s getting ready for a date, though his chances are ruined when his dress is covered in mud and the lawnmoer shaves his beard.

Enraged that his millennia-old beard has been cut, he punishes SpongeBob and Patrick by turning them into ghosts until it grows back. This is a pretty fun premise I’m surprised they hadn’t done yet. Sure they were the Dutchman’s ghostly crew in Shanghaied, but they didn’t really turn into ghosts. Here, you get quite a few jokes about the design of ghosts (Patrick mistaking his ghostly tail for a mermaid one), pop culture references (the two leaving ooze when going through surfaces like Slimer from Ghostbusters) and some neat observations about their transparency (not just that SpongeBob’s life is ruined now that he can’t hold a spatula, but Patrick being unable to sleep due to his eyelids being transparent). It really feels like the writers were taking advantage of their story and writing jokes that fit with it.

As noted, SpongeBob’s job falls to pieces (or at least through his hand) because of his ghostly qualities, so he and Patrick beg the Dutchman for their bodies back, cracking a joke about how lifeless and invisible they’ve become. What follows is a pretty uninteresting ending. In order to make him look sharp for his date, SpongeBob just becomes the Dutchman’s beard until it grows back. It’s quite the cop-out, considering beards aren’t known for their spongy properties. A couple months later, they see the Dutchman running away from his girlfriend, which is revealed to be a giant see monster, because she wants to marry him. As far as bad endings go, this one is only bad because it hinders the greatness of the set-up and what they do with it.

Overall, the story feels solid as a whole, but what about the comedy? This has to be a pretty funny Season 7 episode, and that’s really not easy to say considering how this season starts. Aside from the pretty creative ghost jokes I’ve already mentioned, you have one of my favourite jokes in a long time, where SpongeBob and Patrick bawl about how they’re slow and groaning before cutting to Squidward when they ask what kind of person can live like that. There are a few things I don’t think make sense, namely how creepy they made the Dutchman’s fiance in the ending, but I otherwise consider it relatively comedic. Not gut-busting, but funny enough to remind you that the show was meant to be funny.

Much like the story and jokes, the animation in this episode feels like it had some real thought put into it. I like the effects they go with when SpongeBob and Patrick are turned into ghosts, giving them a green, sickly glow and mild transparency. I also like the small use of CGi for the background in a shot where SpongeBob and Patrick are riding Squidward’s lawnmower in centre frame, as it reminds me of the rolling sphere technique they’ve been using since Season 2, making it a little less distracting than other uses of it. I have to say I even like seeing the Flying Dutchman without it’s beard. You get the angle they’re going with where the facial hair is such a recogniseable part of a person’s face, so removing it makes them seem radically different.

It can’t really be a Flying Dutchman episode if he isn’t fiecre and funny, and this episode delivers on that front. His most fearsome moment is when he casts the curse onto SpongeBob and Patrick, and that’s enough to warrant him showing his goofy side for the rest of the episode, which only becomes more neccessary as the show gets older. As for SpongeBob and Patrick, they’re alright here. Although a little too childish at the beginning, despite me liking their new nickname for Squidward, they learn their lesson as the episode goes on and try to help the Dutchman out, which is a small arc that’s pretty cheerful. I have to say a character I wasn’t expecting to love coming back to this was Squidward. Sure this is one of his more toned-back outings, but his jokes here are hilarious.

For some final words, this episode is one of the few from this season that I remember being good that’ll stay good. Although things get pretty wonky towards the end and you might not like some of the longer jokes, what The Curse of Bikini Bottom delivers is a decent ghost story. For what it lacks in mystery and horror, it makes up for in comedy and a SpongeBob twist. As it’s a farewell to Flying Dutchman episodes for another 8 years, this was a fine temporary send-off. It couldn’t quite reach the heights of Scaredy Pants or Shanghaied, but then again, nothing can in this era of the show.

Question of the Day: If you were a ghost, would you want the ability to change back?

Clarry, I don’t think we’re in Bikini Bottom anymore. Heck, I don’t even think we’re in the 2000s anymore!
:sbthumbs:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Squidward in ClarinetLand (Season 7, Episode 7b)
Original Airdate: March 24 2010*
Episode 257 in standard order, Episode 260 in airing order, Episode 261 in order of general release
*copyrighted 2009
Plot: The Krusty Krab gets a new locker, which SpongeBob slowly turns into ClarinetLand
Written by Casey Alexander, Zeus Cervas and Dani Michaeli

[titlecard]133B[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Happy Sponge Chase Vibes (the bitter irony)

Depending on who you ask, this is considered one of the best Post-Movie episodes due to how surreal its direction is. I think surrealism without much of a purpose can turn into nonsense. There have been episodes that have tried to be wierd and failed like SpongeHenge and especially Squid’s Visit, which this especially reminds me of. Given it’s another one of the few Season 7 episodes that most people enjoy, I went in with similarly high expectations to yesterday’s episode, but ended up wishing it was rather different. There are things this episode does wrong, but I’ll get to them one step at a time.

Much like Cephalopod Lodge, this episode starts with the joke that Squidward’s happy, and that isn’t a good sign, considering he’s gonna have to get that taken from him for the plot to progress. At least the thing he’s angry about is so simple (a baby getting saliva over his clarinet) that the payoff is more of a joke than a punishment. Squidward requests that he has a locker to keep his clarinet, only to be forced to share it with SpongeBob. Both of these rules are brought up legally for some reason, and this is where I remember that this essentially becomes two different episodes, potentially battling for attention during production- Safe Creeping and Squidward in ClarinetLand.

The first part, Safe Creeping, is an episode about SpongeBob messing around with the locker at a very boring and uninteresting pace. Sure it’s supposed to be impressive that he’s able to coat the interior with velvet and then turn it into an elaborate storage facility, but why would he need to bring thousands of items to work anyway? Why does his attitude seem as inhuman as stuff like Boating Buddies and Squid’s Visit, when all he’s doing is sprucing up a locker. Sure it may be a little fun seeing Squidward’s exasperated reaction to the idea of SpongeBob touching his clarinet, but it this were the whole episode, it would’ve been rather forgetable.

It seems like the crew found this out, so the second half is a different story altogether, in which the locker is so big on the inside that it’s a whole dimension purely made to torture Squidward. Throughout his adventure to get his clarinet back from SpongeBob, he’s eaten by an eagle head, forced to listen to mirrors of himself play his clarinet, be played with like a pinball by Patrick and chase SpongeBob through space. It all felt like an excuse to throw bizzare imagery on the screen, and I really can’t blame them for wanting to do this considering what medium they were working in, but it feels like Alice in Wonderland without any time to develop or flesh out the cool, wierd areas. I don’t often say this, but this could’ve worked as a 22 minute episode.

Once Squidward finally catches SpongeBob, it’s revealed to have all been a dream, presumably starting before the whole storage ordeal. However, there are a few “or was it?” clues that I really didn’t like. Namely, SpongeBob handling Squidward’s clarinet just because, which makes him less trustworthy already, but then he sneaks into Squidward’s clarinet case during his audition, which makes him seem like a stalkish reality warper like in the dream. Overall, the story gets a little more creative as it goes on, but if you’re looking for something more substantial and less Season 8-esque at the beginning, I couldn’t recommend SB-129 more.

To be fair, the episode starts off with the occasional good joke. You get some pretty fun lines from Mr Krabs, like his nonchalant reaction to Squidward becoming angry again, his allergic reaction to an employee book and the skeleton he kept in the locker prior to its Krusty Krab usage. However, as the episode goes on, it becomes more focused on being wierd, with much of the wierdness coming from how bizzare SpongeBob acts unfortunately. I don’t like when an episode loses points for SpongeBob’s poorly written behaviour, because I’ve already said all I’ve needed to- it makes him annoying and more of a bane than a good guy.

Almost the polar opposite of the comedy, the animation gets better once the Safe Creeping part winds down. There are a few gross moments at the beginning of the episode, like the saliva that ruins Squidward’s clarinet and Mr Krabs’ legal allergy, but they slowly vanish and disappear altogether once we reach ClarinetLand. I have to say there was some effort placed in the designs of the places Squidward goes, from the enlarged storage facility to the clarinet forest, even reaching outer space, but it leaves a feeling of incoherency when the central theme of the place, clarinets, is only seen once. Again, I should mention I like creativity like this in what was considered a dying series, but it’s no reason to make it feel nonsensical, even if it may have been a dream.

Now onto characters, and they are hit pretty hard with problems. Squidward himself if fine, but goes a little mad towards the end, locking SpongeBob in the locker and running away in fear when followed to the audition. If SpongeBob weren’t as much of a creeper as he was, and directly ignoring his friend’s plea not to touch his clarinet several times, I’d find him to be pretty dumb here. Really, which one you consider the worse (or flat-out bad) character depends on whether you think ClarinetLand was a fantasy. If it wasn’t, this might be SpongeBob’s most airheaded outing since Pineapple Fever, and although that’s only a 16 episode gap, that’s saying a lot.

Although I can see how it has its fans, I wasn’t happy with today’s episode. Yes, this may be one of the less frustrating STPs since Season 3 or 4, what with most of the agony going on in a nightmare thus keeping it justified, the story feels like it was snapped in two, neither half of which seems to want to correlate. Then again, I’m all for the show putting some effort into its animation, even if what the show really needed around this time was grounded, sensible characterization. The best I can say is it’s a Post-Movie recommendation if you want to turn off your brain.

Question of the Day: What would be the theme of your nightmare world?

Tomorrow, it’s time for what has always been one of my least favourite specials, which I hope is turned around. Until then, da dada da dum!
:sbthumbs:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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SpongeBob’s Last Stand (Season 7, Episode 8)
Original Airdate: April 22 2010*
Episode 258 in standard order, Episode 263 in airing order
*released on DVD March 16 2010
Plot: SpongeBob does all that he can to protect Jellyfish Fields from a superhighway
Written by Aaron Springer, Steven Banks and Derek Iversen

[titlecard]134[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Wahini Wobble

Yesterday’s closing words may have sounded a little harsh. Did I really consider this one of the worst specials? This is taking into account how there have so far been 7 that have scored below average ratings, but I assure you, after some careful thinking and comparing all their strongest and weakest attributes, this is currently only beaten by Truth or Square. The reason I think this one stings more than specials like Atlantis SquarePants, Pest of the West and The Clash of Triton is that it doesn’t really know what it’s saying. Sure the themes and message may come from an honest place, but this just isn’t the story that fits in SpongeBob SquarePants, unlike Atlantis, Westerners or evil demigods. Is that the only thing wrong with it though? Far from it.

The beginning of the episode is all over the place. We first get SpongeBob and Patrick waiting for Jellyfish Fields to be opened, then singing the Jellyfishing Song, unlike SquarePantis’ Bubble Song, this doesn’t really establish the mood of the special, neither is it fun to listen to. You have a long wind-up period at the beginning, followed an infantile melody that gets grating quickly. Then the episode expects to be taken seriously when the two see a billboard advertising a superhighway that’s going to replace Jellyfish Fields. Patrick then rattles off the reasons a highway would be hazardous to the jellyfish in a manner that would make The Endless Summer seem sincere. It’s made worse with Bill Fagerbake’s performance, where around this time he was giving Patrick less cadence and emotion in his lines.

Fearing for the future of the jellyfish, SpongeBob heads over to the Krusty Krab and complains about the highway to Mr Krabs, who actually seems to be in favour of it. That is until SpongeBob points out how it’ll also go over the Krusty Krab and all the roads head straight to the Chum Bucket, and the two head over to Plankton to see if he’s responsible. In his defense, he points out how the city hall approved (which I’m sure Doug Lawrence called the “sh!tty hall” for fun). No wonder it went through with a couple idiotic reasons, the mayor is a new model. As for those idiotic reasons, namely because some fish like highways, I don’t find them to be very important. The Bikini Bottomites not acting like mature citizens is the least of this episode’s problems.

The biggest issue I have with it is the following middle segment where SpongeBob and Patrick start a protest movement. I have no problem with them sticking up for a cause, but it’s all brushed over rather quickly. Much of it is set in a song montage called “Give Jellyfish Fields a Chance”, which Blabbidy Dip calls a “We Didn’t Start the Fire” rip-off. Personally, I see that as an insult to said song, because that was meant to reference the cultural progress and phases that went through the 50s-80s. The song in this episode is trying to find random things to rhyme with each other and it doesn’t seem to have a theme. Protest songs from the 60s, especially the ones by Bob Dylan, took a serious issue and expressed disdain for it through song, wheras “Give Jellyfish Fields a Chance” doesn’t even try to elaborate on the highway, AKA, what the song should be trying to target.

By the end of the song, they’ve turned into hippies, which has caught the ire of many Bikini Bottomites who find their behaviour ridiculous. Because they’re causing such a ruckus by sitting around and not doing much, the police arrest them and kick them out of Bikini Bottom. That’s a bit of a stretch, but I guess Bikini Bottom is a radical authoritarian city. I know I’m not meant to take the political and societical undertones in this episode seriously, but I have to blame the episode for bringing up these themes and delivering this story in the first place. I have no problem with them demonising one party for us to route for the main characters, but it’s when even the police are ignorant to these beliefs that I see it as too far.

As SpongeBob tries to think of another way to reach the masses that’s a bit more direct. Patrick suggests a parade because of one that’s heading to Jellyfish Fields, meaning that SpongeBob’s now too late. In fact, the superhighway is so super that it destroys the whole environment with just a straight line. Things get even worse when the Krusty Krab loses all its money and Mr Krabs has to sell the Krabby Patty secret formula to Plankton. This has to be the most hackneyed way to heighten drama for the story, not just because I doubt the business would go under overnight just because of the highway, but I also doubt Mr Krabs would put a price on the formula in his grave.

After 3 days, the jellyfish come back and attack the city, so SpongeBob has to go on the news and ask everyone to tear down the highway, to which they oblige and they do their best to tear it down. It takes a lot of work at first, but through the power of voiceless, misnamed cameos (I’m looking at you, Sandy Squirrel), the road is destroyed through a team effort and Jellyfish Fields is instantly restored. It’s such a childish, dishonest way to show everything’s gotten better, because you don’t get any passage of time or scene where everyone works together to restore. All the episode’s really telling you is “roads are evil”, and that’s way it fails to really spread a message or get you to be a more environmental person. It ends with a reprise of the Jellyfishing Song, which even if it was good, is hardly the song to end an episode like this.

The one thing I can say about the comedy here is it loves it some overly long jokes. Generally, padding should be used to build something up, but many of the jokes here, from the 30 second long parade to SpongeBob stuttering on camera, feel like they’re designed to make this a special. However, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any funny jokes here. I like when SpongeBob asks Bikini Bottom to help, and when his request is declined, he flatly says “You’re kidding, right?”, and they admit to joking. It’s a good joke, and there a couple like that, but there isn’t enough to salvage the overall wasted feel of the comedy.

One thing I don’t really like about the animation is the design of SpongeBob and Patrick as hippies. It just encapsulates Aaron Springer’s art style in a way that really shows he was trying to make the duo look overly wierd. Round, small glasses and long moustaches have been a feature of his artwork since The Krusty Sponge in Season 5, and they’ve worn out their welcome in my opinion. However, to give some credit to the ending, no matter how shakey it was, there’s at least a pretty good atmosphere incorporated for the jellyfish apocolypse. Other than that, I don’t think there’s much to say about the animation. It just seems like a standard episode otherwise, which isn’t a good sign. Bear in mind this apocalypse happens towards the very end, the first 15 minutes feel like a typical Season 7 episode as far as animation goes.

As for characters, the one thing I can’t forgive this episode for is when the side characters feel shoehorned. It’s especially noticeable they didn’t want to put much effort into making their appearances special when they aren’t even voiced. Karen, Sandy (Squirrel), Mrs Puff and Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy are all mute, making them seem more like an excuse to set the episode on a bigger scale than to actually do things with the characters. The only side character who’s voiced is Larry, but that’s because Plankton’s already a central character to the story. As for the others, you have SpongeBob who’s only right because the ending demands he be the hero, Patrick who’s a walking punchline, and Squidward occasionally spouting a one-liner. I hate to compare it to Truth or Square again, but Mr Krabs is once more the best character.

To end on a positive note, I can see where this episode is coming from. Nickelodeon has always had a small agenda for helping out the environment, but this just feels like an excuse to push that agenda into their most popular series. The story would bore kids and annoy adults, and you don’t even get any earned story beats, due to it not focusing on the appropriate themes. Want a timelapse of how the highway slowly but surely affects Jellyfish Fields and its inhabitants? Too bad, we overdrew on a 20 second gag of Plankton trying to get the citizens’ attention. Aside from pushing my biggest buttons story-wise and message-wise, it just isn’t a fun special. Until something in Season 8 or 9 surpasses it, I consider it the worst 22 minute special.

On a sidenote, unless SpongeBob gets renewed for a thirteenth season, this is the halfway point of the series. I’m so happy I made it this far, and this SpongeTrain shows no signs of slowing down.

Question of the Day: What’s your least favourite 22 minute special?

Oh tartar sauce, I remember tomorrow’s episode! Until then, everybody sing along!
:sbthumbs:
 

Klu

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Яussia
QotD: SpongeBob, you're fired.
Also, this special supposed to be grand finale of the show. I'm more than happy that it's not, because it's could've been really pathetic grand finale.
 

Honest Slug

Ink Lemonade hurts me.
Joined
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Messages
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QOTD: SpongeBob, You're Fired. Clash of Triton and SB's Last Stand are awful episodes but they have decent ideas, SB You're Fired is completely unsalvageable.
 

SpongeBronyPH

Balloon Traveler
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I love SpongeBob's Last Stand, despite the people and Squidward who doesn't care about jellyfish fields.

EmployeeAMillion said:
Question of the Day: What’s your least favourite 22 minute special?
SpongeBob, you're fired and Whatever Happened to SpongeBob. :patboo: I hate those specials!
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Back to the Past (Season 7, Episode 9a)
Original Airdate: February 15 2010
Episode 259 in standard order, Episode 256 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick travel back in time to Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy’s first episode
Written be Casey Alezander, Zeus Cervas and Dani Michaeli

[titlecard]135A[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Happy Sponge Chase Vibes

Episode 135 counts as a sort of sub-special surrounding Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy. Although it isn’t one 22 minute segment, it’s two that both focus on the two superheroes during their prime, firstly voiced by the legendary Adam West and Burt Ward. Generally, this is the one I remember liking the most upon my first watch due to its time travel gimmick, but I feel like that sort of hype blinded me to the episode’s faults. Believe me, there’s a ton when you look at it under a critical microscope, but are they enough to make it unwatchable? Let’s go back in time to 2010 and find out. Just be careful not to light it up like it’s dynamite.

It starts with SpongeBob and Patrick literally bumping into their heroes, Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy, due to their invisible boatmobile being out of gas. They help them out by moving it all the way to the Mermalair, and their reward is to have a look inside the Hall of Memories. Already this brings back some MM/BB III vibes, but it makes sense they’d be allowed such a pleasure. The duo’s getting older and a bit more nice to their two big fans. However, Patrick messes things up by touching their time machine and sending them all back to some random point over 50 years prior. This sets up the biggest issue with the episode, and that’s Patrick. Name one scene where he isn’t an obligatory plot device. Hard, isn’t it?

This particular point in time seems to be Mermad Man & Barnacle Boy’s first encounter with Man Ray, where they douse him tartar sauce. I guess the freezing happens later, but one story arc at a time here. Patrick ends up ruining things by eating all the tartar sauce because he loves it, which sets off the butterfly effect and changes history. The butterfly effect is the belief that if you go back in time millions of years and kill a bug (let’s say a mosquito for the sake of this example), it’d alter your present to such an extent that your neighbour could be the ruler of the world. Patrick eating that tartar sauce is much more catastrophic than that however, as back in 2010, Man Ray rules the world and everyone has to wear control necklaces. Pretty grim as far as SpongeBob goes, but I’ve seen worse alternate futures, both in other shows and real life. Don’t ask.

They get to the Krusty Krab where the original Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy are working, while the present ones are buried in the restaurant. After a minute or so of arguing and the duo getting yelled at for ruining history, they free the superheroes and go back in time again. It’s just a shame Patrick didn’t learn anything, as he goes and eats thetartar sauce again with his ten minute younger self, but then, as far as I can tell, the time-space continuum breaks. More and more past selves of SpongeBob and Patrick occur, breaking Man Ray’s mind. If you’ve watched the Doctor Who episode, The Wedding of River Song, you’d remember an error in time occured, condensing all of history into a few seconds. I’m not saying it’s a good episode of Doctor Who, far from it, but it makes sense within its own madcap logic, and I think that same wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey principle can be applied to the ending of Back to the Past.

The comedy in this episode sort of comes and goes. You get some funny lines like SpongeBob grunting over pushing “a whole lot of nothing”, and Mermaid Man failing to remember what the Hall of Memories is for. However, several episodes around this time have that one joke that tears the episode to shreds, and here it’s Patrick’s love of tartar sauce. It doesn’t add anything, and only serves to make Patrick out as a mindless bad luck button. On another positive note to sweeten the pill, I like the performances from Adam West and Burt Ward. Although not hilarious, and I haven’t seen much of the 1966 Batman show, it really feels like the closest they’d come to a TV reunion.

Given the more out-there direction of this episode compared to other MM/BB outings, you’d expect the animation to compensate, and it does. The design of the time machine is simple but effective, and the time vortex was updated to be a random splash of colours and giant clocks going in reverse (even when going back to the present?). Additionally, it’s so fun to see the original designs of Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy in action and interacting with the characters. However, the design of Man Ray’s dark future is generic. Just imagine Bikini Bottom as a bleak and desolate dystopia with Man Ray’s face plastered on the posters. No wonder it took SpongeBob a while to notice things had changed.

The one thing that’ll make or break this episode for you is the characters, and believe me, there’s an intolerable one and there are fantastic ones. The intolerable one is Patrick, who really didn’t provide anything dumb, just flat-out rude and ignorant. Although I like Barnacle Boy’s line about wanting reassign him as a villain, I can see that as a major turn-off for people who really hate Patrick episodes from this time period. Aside from him, the rest of the characters are pretty good here. SpongeBob’s genuinely trying to help his heroes throughout, and Man Ray is funny as long as he appears on screen in the rubber. The best character however are Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy, particularly their younger selves, not just for their voices and startlingly late debut, but for how they don’t like SpongeBob as much as their present counterparts. You get the sense that SpongeBob has to rekindle his relationship with them if he ever wants Bikini Bottom to revert back to normal again, and that could make for a classic episode.

Instead, you get something frought with too many inconveniences to consider good. The pace feels slow for the most part, only picking up with a bizzare ending that may as well have broken the episode to pieces. I enjoy the butterfly effect angle being done with Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy, but the execution has glaring problems, namely making Patrick the go-to source for conflict. Even if Patrick weren’t as much of a doofus, or just not in the episode in general, it’d still have some draining comedy and animation. I’ve heard better things about tomorrow’s episode, but I remember liking it even less than this one. Only one way to tell if it’s good or not- up, up and away!

Question of the Day: Which do you like better- Back to the Past or The Bad Guy Club for Villains

Join me tomorrow as we watch a VHS in 2010.
:sbthumbs:
 
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These reviews have been brilliant. I don't know if I've ever seen such detailed reviews for the entire series before. I thought for sure this would be over after Ripped Pants but that was almost two years ago.

Back to the Past has always been a 4.5-6/10 episode for me. I see why some people think it's one of the best of Season 7 though, but it's far from one of the lowest of the series.

QotD-I honestly can't pick one. I remember Back to the Past to be a tad funnier, but TBGCFV was a great idea and I enjoyed how the episode looked like an old video, in addition to the action and funny ending. Tie.
 

Klu

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I like Back to the Past, it's one of those episodes which haven't changed my opinion on since the first watch (way back in 2011). Yes, Patrick here is badly written, but I think is everything else is pretty good.
Sister episode was even better in my book, tho.
QotD: Of course "The Bad Guy Club for Villains".
 

EmployeeAMillion

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The Bad Guy Club for Villains (Season 7, Episode 9b)
Original Airdate: February 15 2010
Episode 260 in standard order, Episode 257 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick watch a lost episode of Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy
Written by Casey Alexander, Zeus Cervas and Dani Michaeli

[titlecard]135B[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy Action Theme

Notice something familiar with that plot synopsis? Yeah, this isn’t the first time the framing device was around a lost episode of a fictitous series. This one’s a little different however, as it’s much more of a parody of 60s superhero shows than a gimmick to make the episode seem more important. Even at that, this isn’t an episode I remember liking for a couple reasons. I can see the appeal and why fans would enjoy it, especially when compared directly with its sister episode, but it hasn’t tickled my fancy, and it still hasn’t after I’ve watched it again.

The episode begins with SpongeBob going over to Patrick’s house with a VHS of a lost episode of MM/BB. Yadda yadda, 2010s and they’re still using VHS complaints aside, it makes sense that an episode as old as Mermaid Man’s pecks would only be available on tape. The real problems I have with this framing device are how SpongeBob got his hands on the tape, and the constant MST3K-esque breaks where SpongeBob and Patrick will inject commentary. They break the flow of the story and don’t really need to be there, including the relatively pointless joke where SpongeBob tries to fix the tape.

The actual Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy episode concerns the duo spying on the Dirty Bubble, who meets up with some of the franchise’s villains, including regular Man Ray and the Atomic Flounder from the Season 1 finale. That seems promising, but the rest of the episode is set in a confined office with little telling me there’d be much action possible. This doesn’t stop the duo teaming up with some of their aquatic acquaintances, including Captain Magma and Miss Appear, who’s basically Wonder Woman. It’s fan service, sure, but it feels like a little too much at once. I’m not saying it’s bad, just tell a story that doesn’t rely on one’s knowledge of previous episodes.

The heroes and villains get into some hammy action, but somewhere along the way, Barnacle Boy is possessed. It’s a bit gross seeing this arm coming out of his neck and this face coming out of the hand of this arm, but I guess within the context of corny 60s nonsense, this is relatively okay. Mermaid Man’s able to restore his pal back to normal and uses “the smart guy”’s hairnet to trap all the villains, and this is where the moral of the episode comes into play. The bad guys were really just meeting for a book club, which is supposed to be a lesson on how it’s good to read. It’s the best joke in the episode, but why would the villains want to read and have that be the positive message? Although I’m nitpicky about the story, it at least tries something different.

The comedy and animation go together in this case to deliver a unique sort of presentation. For an episode which is mainly an old MM/BB episode, they did a good job making the action splashes a bit more intense, wheras in their modern appearances they’re used for ironic effect. The jokes in the episode are too hokey to be genuinely funny, but I give them an E for Effort in trying to emulate that old, cheesy feeling. You also get a grainy, slightly sepia filter over the episode to show it’s dated, which only becomes distracting when they have to constantly cut back to SpongeBob and Patrick without that filter.

In terms of characters, there are a couple things I’m disapointed this episode doesn’t do. Namely, bring West and Ward to do the young MM/BB. They were one of the biggest aspects of yesterday’s episode, and it makes far too much sense for them to return exactly one episode later. I’ve already complained about SpongeBob’s part to play in the episode, which is never a good sign for a SpongeBob episode, even something as out-of-genre as this. As for the villains and acquaintances, they’re fine. They deliver the right sorts of jokes, even if they’re unlikely to leave an impact.

So yeah, this existed. Even compared to its sister episode, I can do without watching this excessively. I will give it points for its presentation and desire to tell the sorts of jokes you’d find in 60s Batman, but that’s out of my comfort zone for a whole SpongeBob episode, even if it’s a short. My biggest criticism with the episode is ironically whenever SpongeBob and Patrick say something about the episode, which was apparently produced by Stephen Hillenburg and Paul Tibbitt. I’ve officially only got 100 more Post-Movie episodes, which is only a quarter of the show when you think about it in perspective. The 135th package isn’t going to be one of those that I’ll remember for years to come, but at least it’s not for bad reasons.

Question of the Day: Would you like to see another MM/BB episode which is like this? With the loss of Ernest Borgnine and Adam West, it’d be pretty tricky.

Quite the sad question, but not as sad as tomorrow’s episode. Until then, here’s the theme song used in this episode.
:sbthumbs:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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A Day Without Tears (Season 7, Episode 10a)
Original Airdate: March 22 2010
Episode 261 in standard order, Episode 258 in airing order, Episode 259 in order of general release
Plot: Squidward bets SpongeBob he can’t cry for 10 hours
Written by Aaron Springer and Steven Banks

[titlecard]136A[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Aloha Bikini Bottom

Nobody likes Funny Pants. Sure some might find it to be a guilty pleasure, particularly fans who are under 13 years old, but the consensus is that it was one of the first Season 4 episodes to have some serious flaws. To give it the benefit of the doubt again, at least the idea of SpongeBob’s laughter being a source of conflict is one that fits with both his character and the show’s storytelling. An episode about crying on the other hand, is much harder to make a good episode out of without making SpongeBob uncharacteristically negative. Steven Banks wrote both of these episodes, so let’s see why he wasn’t banking on writing another one of these stories before the end of his time on the show.

It begins with SpongeBob having a slightly miserable morning getting ready, crying over every little thing that either goes wrong or makes him feel sad, like stubbing his toe, ripping his favourite shirt and listening to a sad song on the radio. Although there’s a wider range of things upsetting him here than there were things making him laugh 5 years earlier, it generally makes SpongeBob seem like even less of a man than normal. For Squidward, the final straw is him bawling over the loss of a patty, conveniently ignoring the 10 second rule in the process, and then getting yelled at by Squidward. I’m with the octopus at the moment, because the whole “more X than usual” shtick has gotten pretty out of hand for the show’s consistency.

Squidward sets SpongeBob straight in the dining area at 2PM (quite a bothersome plothole considering this is right after rush hour and Mr Krabs would be watching them like a hawk), giving a lecture over how much SpongeBob cries, then bets he’s unable to hold back his tears until midnight. If SpongeBob loses the bet, he has to do Squidward’s chores, which isn’t the sort of thing you’d want your stupid neighbour to be in charge of, especially when this bet is all about how erratic his emotions are. This could’ve been setup for something worthwhile, but between how exaggerated SpongeBob is at the beginning and the numerous plotholes, it sets itself up to fail as a piece of writing.

As they walk home from work, little things start appearing that’d usually get SpongeBob to cry of joy, like a beautiful sunset, choir accompaniment, and Gary sleeping like an angel. This could’ve been where the episode shone, showing a difference between tears of joy and tears of grief, but it puts them all in the same box of “stuff that makes you cry”. By the homestretch, Squidward’s flat-out looking for reasons to make SpongeBob cry, like playing clarinet and reading him a sad(istic) bedtime story. The big problem he faces is after midnight, when SpongeBob finally lets it all out in sends a flood of salty water across Bikini Bottom, y’know, a city that thrives in salty water. The episode’s ending sets up this dramatic irony of Squidward crying, due to SpongeBob’s end of the bet being they have a slumber party, but it doesn’t work due to him going for a relatable cause. Sure he pushes the bet too far towards the end, but he was trying to prove a point about SpongeBob crying too much, a point that went well over the little guy’s head.

For an episode so focused on making its characters cry and just feel bad emotions, isn’t it obvious to say it’d be unfunny? I’m not saying all the jokes are bad, because I really love the show they watch where a father and son cry over how much they love each other, but they’re marred by the unfocused belief that all things that make you cry are sad things. If the crying is meant to be funny, it doesn’t really work when crying in a series even as wacky as this, has always been used for emotional purposes such as in Pizza Delivery and Grandma’s Kisses. However, I’ll give credit where it’s really due, I’m surprised they didn’t include a single onion in the script. That’s restraint.

Again, this is an episode about crying, so animation wasn’t going to be this episode’s strong suit. Even if you had montages all over the place and did their best make the tears feel animated, it’d make the episode just that extra bit more annoying. That’s why I’m alright with the tears generally being little pellets that form puddles, even if it gets routine pretty quickly. In regards to the more negative aspects to this episode’s animation, it’s a Springer-boarded episode, and you know what that means. More shots of SpongeBob looking like a lazy-eyed dope, including his nose taking on a disturbing phallic shape when he breathes through it at the beginning.

So how about those characters? Given the nature of the episode and its unusually dull tone, it’s no secret they’re pretty bad here. SpongeBob’s sad side has been turned up to the extreme here, which would be fine if they also played up his happy side. After all, Tom Kenny says his lows are as tremendous as his highs, so why not show his highs? If a casual TV viewer saw this episode, they’d think SpongeBob is a mindless toy made to have whatever emotion the script this week requires him to. Even Squidward gets a little too nasty when he begins forcing SpongeBob to cry. I know they had a bet, but it wasn’t a big bet at all and this just seems like him trying to upstage SpongeBob at something. Again, totally inaccurate feel if this is someone’s first episode.

As far as bad episodes go, this at least has one scene that I loved. Seriously, that TV family is about as good as this episode gets as far as the show’s clever, cartoony humour goes. The rest of it focuses on making SpongeBob cry, which isn’t nearly as fun to sit through as him screaming (Scaredy Pants) or laughing (Funny Pants). Between a lack of good jokes and seem pretty unlikeable character moments, it can’t exactly be salvaged if the whole point of it’s to be unfunny. In the end, it’s an episode that’s so sad, it’s too bad.

Question of the Day: How long until we get Vomit Pants, a title that’s self-explanatory?

There are tons of episodes where we’ll say “this wouldn’t have been made today”, but tomorrow’s is a special case. Until then, let me play you another sad song on the world’s smallest violin.
:sbthumbs:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Summer Job (Season 7, Episode 10b)
Original Airdate: March 23 2010
Episode 262 in standard order, Episode 259 in airing order, Episode 260 in order of general release
Plot: Mrs Puff has to work at the Krusty Krab to pay off some damages
Written by Casey Alexander, Zeus Cervas and Derek Iversen

[titlecard]136B[/titlecard]
Title Card Music: Sailor Sting 4

I’m only just realising how terrible Boating School episodes got around this point. Between Boating Buddies and Demolition Doofus, you also have this episode that barely anyone seems to talk about. It isn’t because it’s not as terrible, they’re all on a similar level of bad, so what is it? If anything, I’d expect it to be even more criticised in our modern era where women being treated poorly in the workplace is a much bigger topic. This aired a couple years before such stories and radical protests began to take shape, so this is a rare case of an episode that wouldn’t be made today for two reasons- both because of its story and because of its poor quality.

Within seconds, this episode establishes that SpongeBob is going to be a pain in Mrs Puff’s neck. The class is let off for Summer vacation, and SpongeBob stays behind to give Mrs Puff a note. It’s baffling how quickly she fears her student and tries to run away from him. At least in Boating Buddies, Squidward was harrassed before he tried to escape his predicament, wheras Puff’s driving for her life because SpongeBob wants to give her a note that she refuses to read. With the note in her face, she crashes into the Krusty Krab, destroying half of it. Mr Krabs is pretty alright with the situation, but only under the condition Mrs Puff works there for the Summer free of charge. I know this would be a pretty terrible episode for KrabPuff shippers, considering this comes between their meeting in Krusty Love and their relationship’s revival in Season 10, but I’m not bothered by that, rather I’m bothered with SpongeBob and Mrs Puff’s dynamic.

Mrs Puff’s time at the Krusty Krab focuses on her being taught by SpongeBob. It tries so hard to bank off the fact alone that SpongeBob’s teaching Mrs Puff, that it forgets to be funny and tell real jokes with it. When you think back on Patrick SmartPants, you had brilliant jokes about him giving up on SpongeBob’s nature and going down a path of study, while here you just get an irritating Duke routine and some half-baked slapstick. For an episode with the reversed teacher-student relationship at the forefront, it’s surprising how annoying they made the teacher, who really teaches nothing except how to be annoying.

Mrs Puff eventually quits, stating that her Summer job isn’t worth it. It’s hard to take such an action seriously when her freedom depended on her staying at the Krusty Krab, but whatever. She tears up the note that got her into the mess in the first place, but is immediately arrested for littering. By this point in the series, Puff getting arrested in all her episodes is a given, but when that number reaches rhe double digits, she seems like a really dangerous individual. We then get the ending where she has to go to the prison’s driving school, with SpongeBob as her teacher.

Much like back in Nautical Novice, I have to break this ending down and explain why it’s so bad. First, why does Mrs Puff have to take driving school classes if she was arrested on the charge of littering? Second, how could SpongeBob be the teacher is he doesn’t even have a license? I know he’s an expert in boating theory, but come on. Third, why does SpongeBob have this as his Summer job if he’s also supposed to be at the Krusty Krab working 24/7? Fourth, how did Mrs Puff never read the note SpongeBob gave her after the numerous times it was shoved into her face? Once again, it’s insane how contrived this ending is, and it manages to turn a bad episode into one of those disillusioning episodes like A Pal for Gary.

I really can’t name a funny joke in this episode that doesn’t break character. Sure the best attempts at comedy were the Duke routine, which was slow and uneventful, and the hi-jinks that ensue when Mrs Puff trips on a barrel (all she needed to do was press Z or R twice). If the jokes about Mr Krabs being a poor boss, SpongeBob being a terrible teacher and Mrs Puff feeling trapped were meant to be funny, they really don’t age well. The best I can say for the animation is that Mrs Puff looks nice in a Krusty Krab hat, and at least SpongeBob’s cheeks aren’t horribly exaggerated like in Boating Buddies or Choir Boys (I chalk it up to a different storyboard artist).

I know firsthand that this isn’t as messed up as the SpongeBob/Mrs Puff dynamic gets, but we’re getting there. SpongeBob is quite a jerk here, treating his former teacher like trash just because he’s the teacher now, which really paints him in a bad light. This would often balance out with Mrs Puff being the more relatable of the two, but she’s just as bad in the end. Between her love of being in prison due to a lack of SpongeBob (which was much funnier and more justified in Doing Time), and just how quickly she seems to snap into this mindset, she just doesn’t seem like a good person. There’s also Mr Krabs being pretty nonchalant about the fact that his restaurant’s been destroyed. I’d expect him to lose his barnacles over property damage, not threatening to call the police in a tranquil way.

Even if we push away the episode’s unfortunate undertones at this point in history, this is still an awful Boating School episode. It ticks all the right boxes for one that is predictable and pointless, but also manages to have one of the most contrived endings in the show, only rivaled by Nautical Novice. This could be forgivable if the middle portion of the episode was good, but it’s just two gags, none of which add anything to the story. I really don’t get why this isn’t as controversial as other Boating School episodes of this era, because it seems to act as a bridge between the two most despised ones in Mrs Puff’s behaviour. All I have to say is you shouldn’t apply yourself to this episode.

Question of the Day: What is your least favourite Boating School episode?

Don’t be afraid of tomorrow’s episode being a whale of a beast, or vice versa. Until then, do something constructive with your time.
:sbthumbs:
 
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