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Feral Friends (Season 10, Episode 11a)
Original Airdate: October 7 2017
Episode 410 in standard order, Episode 416 in airing order
Plot: Neptune’s Moon passes over Bikini Bottom devolving everyone except Sandy
Written by Mr Lawrence
Title Card Music: Peg Leg Waltz
You don’t see an episode like this everyday (and if you do, you’d probably go insane after a month). People were already in the groove for Season 11 when 10’s penultimate episode aired, due to Nickelodeon’s infamously sporadic schedule, though this gave the short stack one last hurrah. There’s just so much content here, so many characters being used, and such a strange concept that manages to make you think about Bikini Bottom in a different way. I guess that’s why they chose to make this 16 minutes, they just had so much they wanted to accomplish, and it pays off big time.
Making this episode stand out automatically is that it starts with Patchy the Pirate, rowing to the Bikini Bottom island in a little boat. He doesn’t have his own segments or anything, he’s flat-out in the episode, and closer to Bikini Bottom than he ever got in Truth or Square. It’s rather fun seeing Tom Kenny back in his old pirate get-up after so long, hearing Potty being voiced by Stephen Hillenburg again, and that campy, low budget charm flushing back. It’s awkward to still be using it so many years on, and after the show’s become a multi-billion dollar industry, but I honestly wouldn’t have Patchy’s appearances look any different.
The reason Patchy’s at Bikini Bottom is because he wants to see a rare event that only happens every 100 years, and no it isn’t a star bit festival. Instead, we cut to the animation and see most of the main and secondary characters of the cartoon at a picnic, celebrating Sandy’s birthday. This very neatly sets up that she’s going to be a main focus in the episode, and I also like the gag of Patrick eating the birthday cake whole, then Sandy gets another one that she karate chops for everyone. It gets you to know about Patrick’s gluttony, Sandy’s strength, and even SpongeBob’s consideration, as he brought the spare.
Before anymore celebration, an earthquake hit the field SpongeBob and gang are in, followed by a green sphere rising from a volcano. I like the sphere’s design, with it having dark spots that look like a derpy face, and the presence it has, with its bright rays and otherworldly sounds. It seems most of the characters like the sphere a bit too much, as it grabs them into a hypnotice trance. Of those onscreen, only Sandy doesn’t seem to be affected, maybe because it’s her birthday, maybe because she’s wearing a suit, or maybe because of some third reason I’m forgetting. One thing’s for certain- the sphere is a moon for some reason, not just a random orb that comes out of volcanoes. SpongeBob and Patrick liken it to a rather mouldy cheese moon, and a certain guest star confirms it’s a moon later on, but more on that in a minute.
The moon just floats across the sea sky, with its beams hitting every fish in its direct light, and devolving them from anthropomorphic, cartoony fish into dangerously realistic ones. I’m not going to hide my excitement, this is just an awesomely surreal concept. We’ve seen Bikini Bottom behave cartoonishly for so long, that there’s a shock factor in making it more lifelike. I feel like this is an episode idea that Stephen Hillenburg really loved (or probably even came up with himself), and that’s why there’s just so much to it, to the point it had to be extended to 16 minutes. If the “Neptune’s Moon” idea doesn’t directly relate to him, then it’s just a clear sign that the Post-Sequel crew were geniuses.
Of course, the main cast gets affected and devolved, starting with SpongeBob and Patrick turning into an actual sea sponge and starfish, just barely classifying as living creatures. Mr Krabs, Mrs Puff and Larry then all turn into real crabs, pufferfish and lobsters respectively. Mr Crab and Lobby look exactly like their real species, though I’m like how Mrs Puffer still has some blue. Then Pearl gets zapped and turns into a giant whale, giving us an idea of just how severe the situation is. Pearl is a massive threat to certain fish (and her phone), and it goes out of its way to show that fish do genuinely get eaten and die in this episode! It’s super dark, but just the circle of life doing its thing.
This leaves only Sandy, who’s invulnerable to the rays because she’s not a sea creature (makes sense), and Squidward, who was in an outhouse, and delivers a pretty good joke about how the last one there must’ve been an animal. Even if they weren’t devolved, he’d be right. So Sandy tries to save Squidward from being devolved by keeping him under a shady rock, and this adds some brief but great tension. Will Squidward be hit, or will he be safe? As I’ve watched the episode several times, I already know the answer, but to a kid watching this for his first time, he could be on the edge of his seat. Or maybe just laughing at how forcedly Squidward’s shoved under said rock by Sandy.
She calls another character on her wristwatch to get an explanation of what’s going on, and that character happens to be the French Narrator. I love how we now get an idea of what he looks like (not his face, but how he dresses), and the fact that he and Sandy somehow know each other well. It’s some sort of fourth-dimensional fourth wall breaking. Frenchie, as Sandy refers to him as, gives her the gist of Neptune’s Moon- it comes out of a volcano every 100 years, devolves all the fish surrounding it into their primal forms, then goes back down another volcano after two hours, reversing its effects. It’s a given that this whole Neptune’s Moon business is crazy, and up there with the most mind-screwing things the show’s ever done, but I’m happy that it’s got some lore behind it, and a thorough explanation of its cycle.
Unfortunately, Squidward gets scared of all the feral fish coming around, and runs for his life, only to trip over and get cornered by a fish. I should’ve warned him about crawling. The good news is that he eventually gets hit by the moon rays, so he turns into a giant octopus capable of defending himself. The bad news is that he’s now a bigger threat than everything else combined. Speaking of the morphing, it’s something worth noting due to its animation. You generally see two quick transitions for most, one where they turn into a blob, and then more realistic. With Squidward, the transformation’s a bit more complex, which makes me buy into this being a bigger and more threatening event.
This leaves Sandy the only main character (in the episode) who can help out (I’d assume Plankton and Gary’s transformations wouldn’t be that major), and she grabs all her smaller friends and puts them in a net. It’s honestly slightly cute seeing them all huddled up and primitive, but there’s also some action in Sandy escaping Squidward and riding Pearl back to her treedome. On her way, she briefly falls into Pearl’s blowhole, in what’s not the first time she’s interacted with it, and Pearl breaches, getting Patchy’s boat wet and putting him in danger of sinking. Oh, and there’s also a plane of devolved fish that crashes and some fighting over a parking ticket, but that’s not a major concern.
After that underwater rodeo, Sandy makes it safely to her treedome with some of her friends, puts them in a fishtank she had out already for some reason, and gets the French Narrator to narrate over them acting natural. This is my favourite part in the episode, for being factual and funny at the same time. You see Larry molting and eating his old skin, Patrick ejecting his stomach to eat in a way that’s not nearly as gross as WatchMojo made it sound, and SpongeBob filter-feeding, just like he did all the way back in 2003. The best bit however has to be when Mr Krabs and Mrs Puff attack each other, as pufferfish actually eat crabs. Sandy even comments that she knew she had to seperate them, in a surprisingly cute double entrede.
The cold squishy facts don’t last long however, as Squidward comes to the treedome and wrecks it...while the French Narrator describes the impending doom. I honestly didn’t know octopi had teeth, so I have to thank this episode for teaching me at least one thing. That is before Pearl comes by to duke it out with Squidward in an epic monster battle. I haven’t watched mich of Godzilla, but I think it’s taking hints from that franchise, with the mix of collateral damage and weird mutant monsters, at least mutant by cartoon standards. This is just how nature functions, and it’s awesome. When I mean collateral damage, I mean Sandy’s treedome is eventually destroyed, but all the critters are safe, and Sandy puts her helmet back on.
The characters then become even safer, as Neptune’s Moon sets and everyone returns to normal. Well, almost normal, they’re all naked now. This includes Pearl and Mrs Puff, who are female characters, but at least no naughty bits are shown. Regardless, this is the risk of owning cable TV. I can get why you wouldn’t like this scene, as nudity in and of itself isn’t much of a joke, but I think it’s justified by them turning back into their evolved selves, and facing the fact that something about them had changed, and they need a good rest. The only thing I don’t like about this scene is that SpongeBob and Patrick are against Sandy’s suit, and Sandy gets a view of Patrick’s rear end, which is really stretching it in terms of maturity. Thankfully, it’s the only butt joke here, and it at least prepares me for those in Season 11, because there are a lot.
With a story as out-there as this, of course there has to be a “here we go again”-type thread to be left, and that’s the arrival of Neptune’s Sun. It’s a red sun that comes around and devolves Sandy into a normal squirrel, though her cartoon tail stays on her suit for some reason. SpongeBob and Patrick say the episode’s catchphrase, “You don’t see that everyday”, while Sandy screams internally. Remember, this was her birthday at one point. We then get to see Patchy and Potty one last time, with the former’s ship close to sinking. That isn’t an issue for long due to Neptune’s Sun, which the French Narrator comes to warn him about. It’s just so enlightening to see these two live action characters finally interact after so long, it just sends me into a fangasm nirvana state. Patchy doesn’t listen however, and he turns into a caveman (donning his SpongeBob BC costume), and Potty turns into a pterodactyl that picks him up and flies away, planning to eat him. It’s such a wacky ending, capped off with Patchy’s flailing being sped up to look more exaggerated, reminding me of that old Patchy charm.
In case you couldn’t tell, I love this episode to death, so much so that I didn’t segment my review like with every other Season 4-present episode. In terms of concept and presentation, it fits right at home in the Classic era, with only a couple indecent and repetitive jokes getting in the way of it being perfect. This is simply how you do an experimental episode, make it unique and fresh, add in an awesome idea and use it to its fullest potential. Most of all, it doesn’t forget to be funny. There are tons of great, well-written jokes that still get a laugh out of me a year on, and that’s how I know this is just waiting to be a classic.
Final Verdict: Spongy 9/10
Lame and Fortune < Feral Friends < Squid Plus One
Question of the Day: How would you feel about Neptune’s Moon passing over your area?
This review is dedicated to the life and work of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. He was also a visionary, dreamer, and all-around chill dude with a great sense of humour. Without his imaginative show and characters, I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today, and I’d never be able to thank him enough for that if I met him in person. Farewell, captain.
Don’t Wake Patrick (Season 10, Episode 10b)
Original Airdate: October 7 2017
Episode 411 in standard order, Episode 417 in airing order
Plot: Patrick’s sleepwalking causes trouble for SpongeBob, who’s trying to protect him
Written by Brian Morante and Mr Lawrence
Title Card Music: Cream Pie
It’s probably a coincidence that the shortest season of SpongeBob ends with a short. There was so much to squeeze into Feral Friends that it ended up taking up 16 minutes, while Don’t Wake Patrick, a comparitively low-key episode, was made 6 minutes long to compensate. You already know how much I enjoyed Feral Friends, so no matter what, it would be disappointing that a shorter, less grand episode closes out such a weird season. I haven’t thought much of it over the past year, and I think there are a couple reasons why.
The story, even by short subject standards, is rather bare-bones. SpongeBob gets out of bed for a drink of water, as his mouth’s so dry that the bacteria are leaving (presumably the ones he got yesterday), but finds Patrick sleepwalking in his house, making a mess. It’s not a good sign when Patrick’s not even awake, yet he’s causing so much damage. The tough thing is, SpongeBob can’t wake him up, no matter how hard he tries. He tries smashing pans, opening his eyelids, and turning up his foghorn alarm clock to a sound barrier-breaking volume, but nothing seems to work. All I’m personally getting from this is that Patrick’s somehow a sleepwalker who’s a heavy sleeper, but I don’t think this episode’s trying one bit to make me sympathise with him anyway.
Patrick then breaks out, and SpongeBob does everything he can to keep him out of harm’s way in the darnest of locations, starting with a freeway. It may seem like the last logical step for the episode to take, but the next location is a more personal one- inside some random couple’s house. This is where the old Secret Box gag is recycled of them making a ruckus, then SpongeBob says something quiet which ironically wakes someone up. Next up is the Chum Bucket, where Patrick almost eats chum, but SpongeBob saves him, then they ride at Glove World. It’s good to see the old place again, but I wonder what happened to Glove Universe. Patrick eventually wakes up by stepping on a pebble, while SpongeBob falls asleep and starts to sleepwalk. Patrick says SpongeBob will be fine, but then we hear a car crash which makes me glad there’s a Season 11.
The actual elements that bring the episode together are rather hit-or-miss. Patrick’s sleepwalking isn’t that funny, except for when they randomly go to a ballet theatre and he gives a stunning performance. This is because, at least at the start, Patrick’s sleep-grunting hardly sounds in-character, with Bill Fagerbakke clearly trying, but just not sounding enough like Patrick. On the subject of voice acting, this episode has an identity crisis where it wants to have regular dialogue, or be super minimalistic like Reef Blower. I think if Patrick’s line, “Aw, he’ll he fine”, was the only thing spoken, that’d be really funny and unexpected. On the subject of things I liked here, the rock music that plays at Glove World is that old 60s surf rock that they’d play in intense moments back in Season 1, and it’s great hearing it again. I also like some of the visual gags, like the smell of chum literally punching SpongeBob in the face, and then turning into a skull when he eats it.
Alas, Don’t Wake Patrick doesn’t do that great a job of closing out Season 10. Its biggest fundamental flaw is the oddly minimal, but not complete lack, of dialogue, alongside me not really caring about Patrick after he trashes SpongeBob’s house. It’s good for a few laughs, but I feel like they expected this short to only be about 3-4 minutes, with some of the weaker detours feeling like padding. It isn’t much of a disappointment, but wake me up when it’s over.
Final Verdict: Average 5/10 (a mixed bag)
The Incredible Shrinking Sponge < Don’t Wake Patrick < Food Con Castaways
Question of the Day: What’s the most middling season finale?
Season 10 Final Thoughts and Statistic
When I began this review blog, I wouldn’t have predicted Season 10 would look like this. Heck, given how long Season 9 had gone on, I doubted Season 10 would come to exist. It’s really nice seeing the pleasant surprises this time around. The most recogniseable thing about Season 10, as I’ve gone on about, is its wackier tone and larger emphasis on cartoon gags. This’ll occasionally work in an episode’s favour when it has a high concept, like SpongeBob imitating so many people that he loses his mind, or him and Patrick building an obstacle course to test the effectiveness of their life insurance. It gets to a point where I sometimes feel like I’m watching a new interpretation of SpongeBob, or a reboot, and for a show fast approaching its 20th anniversary, that sort of rejuvination is what it’ll always need.
On the flipside of things, these aspects can also produce stuff that isn’t terrible, but rather awkward in comparison to what’s come before it. Reminder that this is still using the Post-Sequel method of writing a script, and then adding the visual gags. When the stories make no sense, or are hugely out-of-character, it can be painfully clear that the script writer was lazy and the storyboarders were doing their dirty work. This isn’t me demonising these current writers, a majority of whom are still working on the show (it’s only been a year since these episodes aired), it’s me giving my two cents on what goes wrong in these new episodes, and praying to Neptune that they fix it, by following my narrow opinion on how to make a long-running series still work.
Self deprication aside, there’s a lot in these 22 short episodes to love and hate, and that’s why this is an AVERAGE Season. The fact that it’s found a new voice that still attracts around 1-2 million viewers every week is rather impressive in this incresingly bleak world of TV. Nickelodeon’s still just getting harsher to new shows, with Bunsen is a Beast and Welcome to the Wayne barely standing a chance, and Disney XD also laying low on airing Milo Murphey’s Law and that Billey Dilley show for whatever reason. They seem to be treating the DuckTales 2017 reboot fairly, but maybe because it’s a nostalgic property, which is big business these days. Cartoon Network continued their decline last year with yet another Ben 10 reboot, and O.K.K.O., whose audience is rather small. I feel like 2017 was the year so many animation fans realised the power of Netflix, and the amount of shows the bestow upon you. I personally don’t watch Netflix often, but I’ve heard great things about many of their shows.
Still, it’s impressive SpongeBob sticks out as a soldier of cable TV animation, still marching onward and looking for the next best way to keep his fans happy.
The ratings for Season 10 combined are 129/220 (5.86/10), or 131/220 (5.95/10) when Feral Friends and Don’t Wake Patrick are re-adjusted by running time. Don’t ask me why I still do this, it made sense with Help Wanted and Reef Blower, which are miles back now.
Our good old Spongy Scale that...
Good: 6 Spongy: 2
...the mode rating is Average, which I think is about right. Many of these episodes are interesting, but not quite as funny or memorable as those in Season 9b.
As for total accumilated ratings...
8: 2 9: 2
...the mode is 5, and the median is 5.5, meaning this season’s split right down the middle between good and not-so-good.
As for how Season 10’s episodes rank overall, here it is.
22. Patrick’s Coupon
21. Plankton Retires
20. Code Yellow
19. Out of the Picture
18. Snoose You Lose
17. Whirly Brains
16. Lost and Found
15. Krusty Katering
14. The Incredible Shrinking Sponge
13. Don’t Wake Patrick
12. Plankton Gets the Boot
11. Trident Trouble
9. House Worming
8. Mermaid Pants
7. Burst Your Bubble
6. SpongeBob’s Place
5. The Getaway
4. Unreal Estate
3. Life Insurance Spongy 9/10
2. Feral Friends
1. Mimic Madness
It may seem odd to rank these alongside Season 9b, but I’m going to do it anyway.
51. Patrick’s Coupon
50. Mutiny on the Krusty
49. Plankton Retires
48. Code Yellow
47. Out of the Picture
45. Snooze You Lose
44. Salsa Imbecilicus
43. The Fish Bowl
42. Whirly Brains
41. Company Picnic
40. Lost and Found
39. Krusty Katering
38. The Incredible Shrinking Sponge
37. Don’t Wake Patrick
36. Food Con Castaways
35. Married to Money
34. Plankton Gets the Boot
33. Patrick! The Game
32. Trident Trouble
30. Snail Mail
29. House Worming
28. The Executive Treatment
27. Mermaid Pants
26. Tutor Sauce
25. Burst Your Bubble
24. SpongeBob LongPants
23. SpongeBob’s Place
22. Sandy’s Nutmare
20. Larry’s Gym
19. Pineapple Invasion
18. Lost in Bikini Bottom
17. The Getaway
16. CopyBob DittoPants
15. What’s Eating Patrick
14. Factory Fresh
13. The Sewers of Bikini Bottom
12. Unreal Estate
11. The Whole Tooth
10. Mall Girl Pearl
9. Sharks VS Pods
8. Life Insurance
7. Pull Up a Barrel
6. Lame and Fortune Spongy 9/10
5. Feral Friends
4. Bulletin Board
3. Squid Plus One
2. Mimic Madness Spongy 10/10
1. Two Thumbs Down
Now it’s time to squeak on over to a season that, at the time I’m writing this, hasn’t finished airing yet! It’s a brand new feeling, but we’ve got some pretty ancient business to start with. Until then, Season 10 was certainly a rush.
Cave Dwelling Sponge (Season 11, Episode 1a)
Original Airdate: September 23 2017 (my 16th birthday) (Episode 412)
Plot: SpongeBob accidentally frees a cave sponge from an ice cave, and it causes havoc
Written by Mr Lawrence
Around the middle of the decade, a SpongeBob movie released in theatres, and although not the most critically acclaimed piece of cinema, it was still a treat for fans. The show resumed production after hiatus a couple months later, in a pack of episodes that felt similar to the Pre-Movie era (Season 2 and 3 in particular). They were generally simple and funny enough to prove that the franchise was here to stay, and stay it did for the next 2 years. Then a new season began airing which was far more experimental, and with it came some gems and stinkers. Fans didn’t know what to make of this new season at large, but an extra long season would soon follow up, pretty much holding the fate of SpongeBob’s new direction in its hands.
Now tell me, am I talking about the 2000s or the 2010s?
History has a funny way of repeating itself, as some people will cluelessly make the same mistakes, while others will work around them. SpongeBob fell into a pattern of gradually getting larger and more experimental, both times a movie of it finished its run in theatres, but the jury’s still out on how our once-current season, Season 11, will stand the test of time. Personally, I’ve enjoyed these episodes as they’ve come out, despite the occasional hiccup. I feel like it’s got more room to breathe than Season 10, on loan of it tying 7 as the longest season of the show, at 50 entire misadventures. Something that’s truly saved 11 from being the start of a new dark age is that it knows its audience. The writers know what the fans like about the show, and are willing to deliver. Remember that caveman SpongeBob meme from SB-129, which was practically everwhere on the internet not too long ago? Season 11 starts with an episode loosely based around that trend. It certainly gets Season 11 off to a strong start, though I wish some parts of it were ancient history.
The story kicks off with SpongeBob and Patrick going on a nature hike, in what’s already a more human, subdued opening setting than in Whirly Brains. SpongeBob loves seeing the sights, but Patrick has trouble caring, before getting his tongue stuck on some ice in a cave. SpongeBob saves his life by removing the tongue with hot chocolate, but all it does is wreck his tongue even more. I could do without the tongue violence, particularly Patrick pounding it until his taste buds cease to be, but at least it gets the plot going. The ice they melted releases a caveman who looks like a distant ancestor of SpongeBob. He’s not quite Primitive Sponge or SpongeGar from Ugh, he’s a fresh OC made for the episode, and it’s amazing how many ways they’ve managed to portray a sponge in prehistoric times.
Unbeknownst to the unconcious Patrick and endlessly naïve SpongeBob, the cave sponge tags along back home, hiding in SpongeBob’s backpack. This is followed by a general day in his life, but with a caveman following him- he talks to Gary, checks out his tongue hairs and gets dressed with the help of a Dr Suess contraption. The caveman also goes into said contraption, wanting to wear some “squeaky squeakies” (what he calls shoes), but they don’t fit on his big unevolved feet. It’s quite easily the most compelling character arc this season’s dished out yet. “No squeaky” is quite the emotional line.
SpongeBob then heads off to work, and the cave sponge follows, still mesmerised by the squeaky squeaky sound of shoes. It isn’t the only thing he’s interested in for long, as he manages to cause a lot of property damage, all while SpongeBob pays zero attention to him. At least all the destruction is at his expense, it’s converted into being his fault for his lack of attention. Before that, he gets to the Krusty Krab, but then is almost immediately asked by Mr Krabs to come out and confess to the property damage, while the cave sponge hides in the kitchen. I like how SpongeBob is legitimately going to jail, and it’s because of a lookalike that actually looks somewhat like him, just a bit more pale and primitive. It’s like Sonic Adventure 2 if Shadow was a caveman (I mean he was re-awoken, so that sorta counts).
This leaves the cave sponge in the kitchen to screw up the orders, but he gets bored of it after a while and starts wreaking havoc across the city, even busting through the prison and proving SpongeBob’s innocence. Perch Perkins then comes around and decides to take the plot to city hall, because now he’s the narrator for some reason after giving a single news report. Satire of their big egos aside, SpongeBob tries to calm “Spongy Spongy” down, and manages to get a step closer by dancing with him. This sooths the savage beast...until he tries and fails to put shoes on, which causes him to throw a tantrum so great it demolishes city hall. This is thankfully a good thing because city hall was due to be demolished anyway, and Spongy Spongy’s left alone and doesn’t need to go to jail. I’m actually fine with the ending being sweeter than it needs to be, even if I wish they did something about Spongy Spongy.
This episode’s got its share of good jokes, and only a few that I think could’ve been tweaked. Of course Patrick beating his tongue with a rock is hard to watch, but it’s got a nice payoff when SpongeBob ties it to a pole at Patrick’s house like a horse rope. Another joke I don’t like is when Spongy Spongy makes Krabby Patties made of a boat engine, which is pretty drawn-out and gross, with the only real secondary joke being a lady’s tongue screaming alongside her. There are a bunch of truly great jokes here however, like Spongy Spongy mimicking SpongeBob saying he’s going to work, then smashing through a wall instead of going out the door. Even the dialogue-based humour’s back to being consistent, like Patrick saying the early morning hike’s cutting into his early morning nap, and SpongeBob saying he relishes in making the relish. Also, it may be a small thing, but Spongy Spongy referring to SpongeBob’s shoes as “squeaky squeakies” is funny and surprisingly cute.
The biggest differences in animation between Season 10 and 11 are the thinner linework and even more detailed backgrounds, the latter of which really shine here. If an episode’s going to go to half a dozen locations, it’s great they’re all visual spectacles. The park SpongeBob and Patrick hike to, and the ice cave they journey through, are in particular an awesome way to start the season off. I also like Spongy Spongy’s design, as it doesn’t try too hard to harken back to the previous caveman sponge designs, and does its own thing. It’s SpongeBob, but paler and with a notably different-shaped cranium, yet he’s still easy to confuse for SpongeBob when he’s in his clothes.
In regards to Spongy Spongy as a character, he’s more interesting than I gave him credit for in my first viewing. He doesn’t fit into modern Bikini Bottom society, and they sure don’t want you to forget that, and it’s a simple enough identity for such a simple creature. SpongeBob’s also pretty cool here. Although rather naïve by his standards, I like him encouraging Patrick to join him on a nature walk, and how he’s mortified with being framed, but doesn’t act like a baby about it. I’m rather shocked that the third-most interesting character is Perch Perkins, who suddenly appears in the third act and becomes the episode’s narrator. It’s a new way to use the character, and this is easily his most notable appearance yet. The rest of the characters are fine, just filling the roles they were assigned to, and fleshing out Bikini Bottom.
In short, this was a good unintentional birthday present for me. There are a couple jokes that don’t land gracefully, and the plot can get a little messy at points. But that doesn’t take away from the fact they made an episode about a meme, and did it correctly. The caveman they use here doesn’t make the infamous pose as far as I’m aware, but they knew what they were doing with giving the new generation of kids a caveman SpongeBob to call their own. I’m fully expecting teens and young adults in the 2030s to be quoting “squeaky squeaky”, as this is the sort of episode that talks directly to kids, instead of down to them, which is a problem I hardly ever see in Season 11. Basically, we started things off decently enough. One down, 49 to go.
Final Verdict: Good 7/10 (solid but not top notch)
Burst Your Bubble < Cave Dwelling Sponge < SpongeBob LongPants
Question of the Day: Admit it, you liked Primitive Sponge when it was new, but just how much?
The Clam Whisperer (Season 11, Episode 1b)
Original Airdate: September 23 2017 (Episode 413)
Plot: As a flock of clams migrates to Bikini Bottom, it takes a liking to SpongeBob and Krabby Patties
Written by Ben Gruber
Clams, oysters, scallops, whatever you want to call them, they’re Bikini Bottom’s all-purpose animal for the writers to make into anything. They were a stand-in for lions in The Smoking Peanut, then sharks in the Jaws parody, Clams. Like SpongeBob himself, I feel like Stephen Hillenburg did a great job at making a character endlessly versatile, which is why fans don’t really mind the multiple interpretations of clams over the years. There’s some internal logic to it though, as smaller breeds of clams are usually depicted as birds or birdlike, such as the baby scallop in Rock-a-Bye Bivalve that endlessly tweets. Today’s episode unquestionably treats them like birds, so let’s see how well the show can pull off the famous, timeless...bird genre of episode.
It’s springtime in Bikini Bottom, and the great clam migration is starting. We see a group of clams forming together to make different shapes, like a sonar and a stop sign. Think the school of fish from Finding Nemo, but far less complicated and made of a different sea creature. The clams eventually become visible from Conch Street, and SpongeBob and Patrick view the migration and all the different kinds of clams that have come around. It reminds me of the jellyfish migration from The Pink Purloiner, though Patrick’s even more evil here somehow. He gets himself tied up in the binoculars’ strap, then eats the Krabby Patty bits that SpongeBob leaves for the clams. I can still understand how he’s SpongeBob’s friend however, as he can sometimes make good jokes, and I still like the different kinds of jell-, I mean clams that pop up.
As I said, SpongeBob feeds the clams Krabby Patty bits, but they get so full from it that they crap all over Squidward’s house. I like Squidward trying to concentrate on some pretentious play he wrote for himself, only to be distracted by the bird noises, but the white clam poop that cover his house is disgusting. Sure it isn’t nearly as bad as other types of fecal matter, especially for the viewing public as they see bird poop often, depending on where they live. Poop is poop however, and they jokes they make out of it are rather poopy. As for them then crapping on Squidward and him screaming and needing to wash it off, to quote the man himself, “I didn’t need to see that”.
Feeding all the clams so much of his delicious food gets SpongeBob to unintentionally befriend them. A pack of about 10 clams starts to follow him wherever he goes, and he has a bit of fun playing “follow the leader” with them for a while. The novelty of having wild animals follow him to work then wears off when they viciously attack the customers...again. This is another plotpoint that reminds me of another episode, this time My Pretty Seahorse, though the execution of the idea is different here. Instead of a majestic creature that eats out of neccessity to live, each clam is a feral demon doing its part to destroy the Krusty Krab. Squidward screaming out of fear of the clams is starting to get grating at this point, though I like it when Mr Krabs shelters him and SpongeBob with the register boat, giving the old object a new feel.
After they cause more havoc, and one of them even poses as an online date (the nerve!), SpongeBob tries to take them home before he’s blamed by a mob of Bikini Bottomites for the clams’ actions. It’s only the second episode this season, and he’s already held responsible for other creatures’ destructive behaviour twice. It’s more his fault here however, as he overfed the clams in the first place. SpongeBob atones by letting them follow him far into the wild, before heading back home...after the entirety of spring. Yeah, he was out there for an entire season, in a weird stapler shape they’re passing off as a clam. Despite the massive timeskip, and doing the same thing as the ending of Jellyfish Jam and opening of Nature Pants, I like this scene for its sweet nature, and for showing off some of SpongeBob’s older pets in the wild- Rex, Lary and Mystery. (I guess Lary wasn’t put down after all) Unfortunately, the episode ends with SpongeBob coming home, with Squidward still screaming mad and Patrick still drooling and sleeping, but I won’t forget the better elements of this story.
I think that this episode is about as funny as yesterday’s in terms of magnitude, but there are less jokes that I laugh at. Worst things first, the clam poop and Squidward’s reactions to it are just annoying for the sake of it, and Patrick is insanely hit-or-miss at the start. However, I like how Mr Krabs tries to use the clams by angering them into spitting out pearls. Sure it’s a mild form of animal abuse, but he’s always on the recieving end as the pearl bullets get harder and hurt him more. It’s also strangely hilarious that they got an online dating joke into SpongeBob, still one of the show’s earliest references to the internet after Factory Fresh. It helps that the girl they make for this scene is cute, and her mistaking one of the clams for her date is a funny take on it.
Much like with the comedy, I think the positive aspects the animation hold this episode together. Sure seeing the clam poop on Squidward’s house in even higher quality isn’t needed, but everything else keeps me invested. The school of clams, like I’ve said, isn’t complex, usually being made of about 15 maximum, but darn if they don’t get some mileage out of the shapes it can make. The background art is still fantastic here, particularly when Mr Krabs and SpongeBob are shielded by the cash register. We’ve been “inside it” before in episodes like Wormy and Krab Borg, but this literally flips the location on its head, giving it a darker, more confined feeling. As for the climax, the nature’s great, and it’s cool seeing some of SpongeBob’s pets again (alongside the sea bears), but SpongeBob sadly doesn’t look enough like a clam for me to take it seriously.
Certain characters here are pretty good, others stink more than recently spat pearls. SpongeBob’s going through his old, repetitive arc of learning not to trust wild animals (I’m telling you, it’s once a season!), but there are still things he can do here like play “follow the leader” with the clams, which is how he saves the day, or season. Mr Krabs is also pretty enjoyable here, and I find it funny that he gets obsessed with getting the clams’ “pearls”. You put two and two together for why that’s funny. Even that online dating fish is both hilarious and cute, at least to me. As for characters I don’t like, Patrick’s inconsistently dumb as long as he’s awake, and it feels like Squidward’s gradually sapped of his common sense, going from Life Insurance to Whirly Brains over the course of the episode. Then again, these characters are for jokes, and they hardly impact the story.
So that was The Clam Whisperer. I was expecting to dislike it, or at least be indifferent, because all I remembered of it was the bird poop, which isn’t even that morbidly disgusting to start with. I’ve found things to like about this episode however, even if they remind me of half a dozen others. I could honestly debate that it’s better for SpongeBob to retread old ground, if it takes the parts of episodes that worked, recontextualises them and makes something new out of them. The Clam Whisperer, unfortunately, isn’t trying to do much new, it’s a run of the mill SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon, though hardly a bad one. I laughed a number of times, found the story interesting, and the animation to be good, and that’s what I ask for.
Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
House Worming < The Clam Whisperer < The Executive Treatment
Question of the Day: What do you think about the show re-using old plotpoints in new ways?
On the subject of taking things from older episodes, we’ve got a sequel tomorrow! Until then, gone migratin’.
Spot Returns (Season 11, Episode 2a)
Original Airdate: June 24 2017
Episode 414 in standard order, Episode 408 in airing order
Plot: Spot produces a litter of puppies that Plankton and SpongeBob need to take care of
Written by Andrew Goodman
That title alone sets some high expectations for hardcore fans. Plankton’s Pet was unquestionably one of the most popular episodes the show had made in the past decade, and while people weren’t clamouring for Spot to make a comeback, he was cute enough to warrant an encore. That’s probably why this was the first episode of the season to air, because the crew knew Spot’s debut made people happy compared to its contemporaries, and wanted to capitilise on that. Unfortunately, the problem I had with bringing Spot in back in Season 11 was...just that, doing it in Season 11. I was expecting it to be about the same as 10, which in hindsight it has been, and I was concerned a sequel episode in this zany era would clash with the original’s simpler, more relaxed charm. With that, I have to say I didn’t enjoy this as much as Plankton’s Pet, but it’s still a solid episode with some interesting things going on.
Since Spot was last seen 4 years prior, Plankton’s overfed him, to the point he’s obese. It isn’t the most appealing way to start the story, but Spot gets better and it has its purpose. Since Spot’s an amoeba, and he’s naturally in a food-rich environment, he’s actually pregnant and creates hundreds of tiny babies. Although pretty gross, this type of puppy birth is way more enjoyable than Pet or Pests’ interpretation, because at least here it’s celebrating birth as a miracle. Karen in particular is ecstatic over the green goo of pups, and quickly suffers from cuteness overload and has to reboot. That’s a funny way of taking a memetic joke in the 2010s, and recontextualising it by having it happen to a machine. It’s just a shame this leaves Karen unconcious for most of the episode.
Plankton can’t keep all the microscopic amoeba puppies however, and puts them in a box to give them away. He requires some assistance due to his mean demeanour however, and that’s when SpongeBob jumps into the episode, blowing bubbles. It at first seems like they’re going to have a hard time, due to Plankton in general, but SpongeBob’s able to morph many of the smaller puppies into a bigger one with some technique. This concept alone is quite the mind screw. Imagine flipping through the channels, and coming across SpongeBob making amoeba puppies out of green goo made of smaller amoeba puppies. I can buy it however, Spot proved himself to be a strange creature in his first appearance. Speaking of which, where is he?
So SpongeBob does wonders giving the amoeba new homes, including Mrs Puff’s. I’m so thankful we see this location again, even if only for a few seconds, before she heads out and it’s destroyed by her new pet, Matilda. This is because they were raised by evil, I guess, and also due to them being young and untrained. The former aspect, that they’re partially evil, comes about when the amoeba(s) manage to steal things from the houses and head back to the Chum Bucket, ready to give them to Plankton. Of course, this gives him the grand idea to train them into stealing the Krabby Patty secret formula. This makes me wonder if there was ever a point in which he got Spot to be a part of another one of his schemes. Yep, Spot’s still missing from this episode.
Knowing that he now has a great plan with ravenous companions to execute it, he gets SpongeBob to train the amoeba, and that somehow translates into him accidentally teaching them to nab the formula. How? I can’t tell you, the story just starts to crumble now. Plankton locks SpongeBob in a cage, but he’s still able to communicate with the amoeba, and gets them to free him. Like with the ending of I Was a Teenage Gary, the key problem here is we don’t know what’s going on in SpongeBob’s head. Sure he’s an animal, or at least pretending to be one, but all is forgiven when he overfeeds the new pets, and practically fills the Chum Bucket with green goo. Karen then reboots, gushes over it, and creates an amoeba puppy so big it crushes Plankton. Sure they just made a sickly cute ending to distract me, but it worked darnit, for the most part.
I estimate there are less jokes here than in the previous two episodes, though it allows the story to breathe, and makes for quality over quantity. I think this episode just has the most consistently funny jokes of the season so far. It’s cute seeing all the different personalities Plankton assings each amoeba, with the crown jewel being the comic relief one, who’s literally just there to make jokes, in an espionage mission no less. I also like the very small of subplot of SpongeBob having gotten Mr Krabs to adopt Patrick somehow. They’ve already compared Pat to pets a couple times before, notably in Gary’s New Toy, but this one goes the extra mile by giving him to another character. The only joke I think outstays its welcome is Karen gushing over how cute the micro puppies are, but she isn’t in the episode that often anyways, and I get it, girls love pups. I’ve already explained why “cuteness overload” is clever, but that’s about it.
Now for the animation, something I wasn’t expecting to see- a Simpsons reference. In the shot of all Spot’s dog food, one of the small logs reads “Uncle Moe’s”, which could be a reference to The Simpsons episode, Bart Sells His Soul, where Moe Syzlack turns his bar into a family-friendly diner. It could just be a coincidence, though I’d love to ask the storyboarder about it. As for a more familiar reference, Plankton first sees SpongeBob blowing the same sorts of bubbles he made in Bubblestand, which I found was a neat reference. He’s certainly improved his technique. You may notice I’ve been referring to the amoeba puddles as “green goo”, and that’s because it serves the same purpose as its sci-fi ancestor, grey goo. I always get the sense I’m not looking at a liquid, but a collection of life forms, and despite being a bit squicky, it works.
I like most of the characters here, though I’m disappointed that Spot disappears after the first act. Is it just an unwritten rule that “Character Returns” episodes hardly feature the character in question? Bubble Buddy Returns had the same issue, now that I think about it. I think the espionage amoeba are a fair enough substitute, as they fit with the modern era’s sillier tone, and they’re all unique and memorably cute. SpongeBob and Plankton are written pretty well here, portraying them in that “they’re friends, but they argue a lot” dynamic that I’ve loved since Sponge Out of Water. Karen’s one of my favourite characters in the series at large, but I’m fine with her not appearing often here, as all she would’ve been doing was gush about the amoeba. As for anyone else, we see Mrs Puff’s home again and that’s about it, and Mr Krabs and Plankton have a funny role that lasts a collective 30 seconds.
Was I wanting this to be as good as the first amoeba puppy-themed episode? No, but I had the bar set to Spot Returns being a fun little romp, and that’s what it was. What really sticks out to me is that the good elements here were things that couldn’t be done in Season 9a, even in its good episodes. I thought the grey goo and morphing concepts were a more than creative way to get the plot to unfold. It’s just a shame it starts to pride itself on making no sense, but I feel that way because it does a poor job explaining things, not because it doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s Post-Sequel SpongeBob, each individual episode has its own internal logic, which I’m fine with as long as the jokes are good. In case you couldn’t tell, they were here.
Final Verdict: Good 7/10 (solid but not top notch)
Tutor Sauce < Spot Returns < Burst Your Bubble
Question of the Day: Which was your favourite espionage amoeba?
The Check-Up (Season 11, Episode 2b)
Original Airdate: June 24 2017
Episode 415 in standard order, Episode 409 in airing order
Plot: Mr Krabs is afraid to get his check up, so SpongeBob and Squidward trick him into doig the tests
Written by Andrew Goodman
It’s no secret that the Krusty Krab isn’t a very healthy place. In general, there’s much to debate over the ethics of the fast food business, but the Krusty Krab is a special case due to the questionable personalities of its workers. There’s only three, one crazy, one greedy, and another who doesn’t even like fast food. That’s what makes this episode a bit more important than it should be, I think. Check ups are done to ensure people are in tip-top shape and can do their jobs correctly, so there is some doom hanging in the Krusty Krab’s balance, due to Mr Krabs’ fear of check ups. What exactly does he hate about them? Read on to find out, and why I think it’s fun to watch or mot.
The story starts in a clear and simple way. The Krusty Krew is having a special round of check ups, in a world where I’m thankful there are different varieties for different species. Their nurse is this short Russian woman with a memorable accent, and she reacts to her patients humourously without being over the top. She finds SpongeBob to only be physically well, and nonchalantly gets Squidward to wizz ink into a cup. Mr Krabs is afraid to get his check up however, due to the stuff that goes on behind the curtain scaring him. Don’t you hate those curtains that exaggerate pain? I think Mr Krabs’ fear is justified, as he is getting older, and this episode isn’t focused on his Navy behaviours.
SpongeBob and Squidward offer to test Mr Krabs secretly over the weekend, and the nurse surprisingly accepts, as well as a bribe from Squidward. First up is a pinching test, where they fool him into sticking his claw into a box of free money. They manage to get him to pinch something tough- his other claw, which only ends with both of them shattering. The next is a test for his eyestalks, where SpongeBob pretends to be a suit salesman to measure and play with them. I don’t understand exactly why they had to go into a clothes store to tell these jokes, but I’m happy with some of the visual gags thrown my way, capped off with Mr Krabs walking out without a left eye, and a small suit on his right eye.
Their third, and surprisingly not final test, is getting Mr Krabs into an X-ray machine disguised as a photo booth, and I like the ol’timely voice SpongeBob puts on, and the photos on the machine from earlier on in the series. Despite this, SpongeBob accidentally gives Krabs too many X-rays, giving him intense radiation sickness...for 10 seconds before he gets a massage. This is yet another building SpongeBob and Squidward randomly infiltrated, with SpongeBob screwing up again and mistaking a cold blood test for locking him in the freezer. After Squidward yells at him, and we get confirmation that the test is meant to confirm if sea creatures are cold-blooded, Mr Krabs finds out they were doing the tests, and with his shattered body, provides the proof as to why he doesn’t like check ups.
At this point, I feel like these tests have more been SpongeBob’s doing/fault, with Squidward just wayching from the sideline, so I’m somewhat glad that SpongeBob then tries to get Krabs back in to shape as a way to apologise. After all, if he isn’t healthy, they might as well make him. Unfortunately, Krabs’ condition only worsens, so they come to a sneaky plan- they replace Mr Krabs with Larry, then get him checked up on Monday morning. The nurse doesn’t bat a short-sighted eye, and passes the crustacean. It’s a silly ending, with the status quo restored, and the workout scene at the beach, where Larry cameos, meaning something. Sure SpongeBob isn’t the brightest or safest nurse to be around, but I thought this story was good, with no scene lingring too long, and the characters generally being likeable and interesting.
There’s plenty to laugh at here, including some of the best lines in the season thus far. I love Squidward thinking of bribing the nurse before SpongeBob offers to check Krabs up over the weekend, and Larry’s role at the end made me laugh. He does a very basic impression of Mr Krabs and his love of money, and the nurse comments he said it repeatedly throughout the check up. Most of the visual gags are also top notch, like all the ways SpongeBob plays with Mr Krabs’ eyes, and him getting shredded by a treadmill, somehow. It can get pretty heavy on them, and more often than not they can get gruesome, but there’s a balance in physical and dialogue-based comedy that Season 11’s done a really good job keeping up so far.
With the animation here, it’s definitely not focused on giving the most exaggerated faces possible, as many of them are dialled back a bit to Season 1-9 levels. No, the biggest goals they had with the animation here were with the visual gags, and as I said, they deliver the goods. If there’s something holding them back however, it’s just how hurt Mr Krabs gets, to the point that he can’t fit in his shell anymore. They’re extreme, but if that’s where they wanted to go, so be it, and we’ve already seen skinless Krabs before in episodes like Shell of a Man. As for photos on the X-ray machine that I’ve seen before, there’s SpongeBob’s parents’ portrait from Home Sweet Pineapple (the happy one), and that of Uncle Sherm from Pest of the West. Thank the SBM member, Uncle Sherm, for getting that picture stuck in my head, even if it’s funny.
The characters are in good enough condition to work, though there could be some improvement on SpongeBob’s part. He’s responsible for so much of Mr Krabs’ pain that it stops being funny that he’s doing it. At least his heart’s in the right place, and his dynamic with Squidward is in top form. They’re not just neighbours/co-workers here, they’re friends, considering Squidward sucks it up and goes with his shenanigans. Mr Krabs is decent here, with his fear being justified, and his love of money being made fun of, though I wish there was more to him, like a backstory or a motivation. The nurse works well as a secondary character, and I like Larry saving the day at the last minute. It won’t be the last time he sits in the Krusty Krab’s office, let me say that.
It should be no surprise that The Check-Up passes my arbitrary test of what makes a good SpongeBob episode. The story’s original enough 415 episodes in, the jokes are all pretty funny, or at least interesting, and the character interactions are some of the most believable in a while. The biggest problem I can see people having with this episode is some of the harsher violence towards Mr Krabs, but I’ll still remember his skeleton getting jumbled by radiation, and him getting thrown into a freezer, which happens to be at a massage clinic. One more note I should make is that Squidward inks again, for a sort of urine sample, and it also won’t be the last time he inks.
Final Verdict: Good 8/10 (an enjoyable if not mildly flawed episode)
The Whole Tooth < The Check-Up < Mall Girl Pearl
Question of the Day: How do you feel about check ups?
Spin the Bottle (Season 11, Episode 3a)
Original Airdate: July 16 2017
Episode 416 in standard order, Episode 410 in airing order
Plot: Plankton disguises himself as a genie, but has to grant everyone’s wishes
Written by Kaz
Magic definitely exists in the SpongeBob universe, though the degree to which it affects stuff, expectedly varies from episode to episode. Sometimes the magic is in a string of coincidences, such as in Hocus Pocus or Life Insurance, while other times it truly exists and plays a part in everyone’s lives, like in Wishing You Well. The latter focuses on a similar type of magic to today’s episode, the wishing type. What better way to expand upon it than with mythical beings known to give wishes? Yup, this is the genie episode, and I don’t remember much of it. It might stay that way, because this wasn’t particularly memorable or engaging in the same way those others were.
The story presents what it needs to right away. Karen finds a bottle, and finds it contains Plankton, disguising himself as a genie. He rattles off his plan to steal the formula, by breaking the genie bottle, and getting his master, Mr Krabs, to put him in the formula bottle. It’s a very weak plan, but it isn’t brought up much, mainly because he doesn’t get to Mr Krabs, who kicks it away during his morning haze. It manages to roll down to the Krusty Krab, because of fate I guess, and Krabs tells SpongeBob to throw it away, thinking it’s trash. SpongeBob recognises it’s a genie bottle however, and rushes home to meet his new wish-bringer. His annoyance rubs off on me in this opening (no pun intended), but if it only hurts Plankton, who’s automatically villainous, it doesn’t matter that much.
One long fence that the bottle’s scraped against later, SpongeBob gets home and rubs the bottle so hard that the friction burns Plankton from the inside. He tries to command SpongeBob to sending him back to Mr Krabs, but SpongeBob knows his genie knowledge too well and just uses Plankton for wishes. SpongeBob doesn’t want to wish however, as that’d be selfish, which I don’t understand. Shouldn’t he want at least one wish, due to him finding the bottle himself? If it means adding more of his friends to the story, I’m down for that, but they and their wishes don’t bring much to the table.
Squidward wishes for a perfect golden clarinet, so Plankton hastily paints his clarinet yellow and plays it from the inside for him. After this, the clarinet’s not brought up again. Similarly, Patrick wishes for second head he can talk to, so Plankton draws a face on Patrick’s hand that Patrick argues with for the rest of the episode, and nothing else. It’d mean more if these wishes had a bigger effect on the story, instead of just being gags. The only one I think goes somewhere is Mr Krabs wishing for a thousand dollars, but only because it’s so close to the next plotpoint.
All of SpongeBob’s friends (specifically those who wished- Squidward, Patrick and Mr Krabs) catch some sort of wish fever, and want to take the bottle for themselves, but SpongeBob can’t let them because power of friendship or something. He gets them to play “spin the bottle” to decide who gets the first round of new wishes, and it almost lands on Squidward, but Plankton tilts it to go back to Mr Krabs. I’m not that surprised they were able to get away with the game, as it’s being played in a different context from that which it’s usually associated with, even if Patrick jokes around about it.
Into the kitchen Krabs goes with the bottle, only to disappointed (yet not shocked) when Plankton gives up the charade. Before he can teleport out for therapy however, a genie zaps in- specifically, the one whose bottle Plankton stole, while he was on vacation. This is a plot twist alright, but not one that’s had any real build-up. We’ve suddenly got a real genie in the episode, and he stuffs everyone except SpongeBob into another bottle as punishment. This may be notable for being the first time Mr Krabs has been shrunk (he wasn’t in MM/BB IV as far as I remember), but it’s the right punishment for him and the others regardless. SpongeBob even throws the bottle out thinking it’s dated, after ironically going on about how magical his friendships are. This is an interesting story being told, but it’s definitely spotty.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the comedy was consistently funny, but there were some here that rubbed me the wrong way (again, no pun intended). Plankton being shook up the point of the bottle being a vomit fountain’s really gross, and I don’t like Patrick arguing with his new friend for most of the time he’s onscreen. There are some I laughed at, like the long fence SpongeBob rattles the bottle across, and Patrick preparing to put lipstick on so he can play “spin the bottle”, but the rest fall into this “smile zone”, where I get the joke, but the punchline isn’t strong enough. There isn’t much to go over for this episode in terms of animation, but I think it does what it does well. The bottle and genie look neat, though I would’ve preferred a darker shade of yellow for Squidward’s golden clarinet, so it actually looked like gold.
The characters here fulfill their jobs in the story, though they’re often very thin otherwise. This mostly effects Mr Krabs, Squidward and Patrick, who are generally all the same character, except they wished for something slightly different, “slightly” because there’s not any payoff to any of them. SpongeBob’s rather annoying to Plankton, but at least it’s to a villain, and his heart’s always in the right place. Perhaps in too right a place, considering his lack of impact on the wishes, but I see how this is teaching kids to be humble. Then there’s Plankton, who’s far more entertaining with his genie get-up, and the fact he has such a convoluted plan that doesn’t go anywhere. Karen also appears at the very beginning to snark about his plan, and I’m fine with her scene. There’s a massive missed opportunity with the genie at the end, however. From the way he describes his vacation, I could see him being a funny fellow, but given he’s a twist wnding characterm he feels under-utilised. I hope there’s a sequel episode where other characters make wishes, and he has more of a role, that’d be fun.
I couldn’t help but be disappointed with Spin the Bottle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s funny and has good ideas, but the story feels like a set of events as opposed to something with a throughline. This takes its toll on the characters, most of which are rather bland, as a result. The stuff I’m most impressed by here are the characters that actually affect the story, SpongeBob and Plankton, with their opposing viewpoints on magic being reminiscent to the main crux of Wishing You Well. Even then, if it reminds me of another episode that has a more beefed up version of the message, and much better jokes in my opinion, this one comes off far weaker than it needs to be.
Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
Snail Mail < Spin the Bottle < House Worming
Question of the Day: Do you people who believe in magic?
Tomorrow’s episode may be better, but hey...it’s all relative. Until then, here’s my genie.
There’s a Sponge in My Soup (Season 11, Episode 3b)
Original Airdate: November 7 2017
Episode 417 in standard order, Episode 423 in airing order
Plot: Hippies invade the Krusty Krab’s soup, much to Old Man Krabs’ chargin
Written by Kaz
I never thought I’d see a SpongeBob episode that dabbled in 60s nostalgia. Hippies aren’t something you’d typically see in a kids cartoon, especially today. They’re associated with a tumultuous decade for America that’s starting to fade from public memory into the history books, and that’s a shame. There’s mileage to be made from their chill personalities, especially for comedy, you just have to lay off the drug references, or at least make them subtle enough to be vague and groovy. Personally, I thought this episode was pretty good when I first watched it, but now I’m in love with it, and hey, love is all you need.
Winter’s come around in Bikini Bottom, timely for most of my readers, I know, and Mr Krabs adds soup to the Krusty Krab’s menu to warm the place up. There’s no contemplation or anything, it’s what we open to seeing him doing. He adds rotten ingredients to say the least, namely stuff that he’s intercepted from entering the trash. A bit of a jerk move on his behalf, but it thankfully doesn’t go anywhere more gross. We do get introduced to something that Krabs finds truly disgusting- flower power. SpongeBob tells him some hippies are hanging out the back of the restaurant by the thermal vent, an interesting thing to see anywhere except underwater, and Krabs unsuccessfully tries to shoo them away. I’m alright with his hatred of hippies here, partly because it’s an old man thing to do, and also because they’re gaining satisfaction from the Krusty Krab area without paying, which would be a pet peeve for him anyway.
While Krabs isn’t looking, because his eyes are burnt, the hippies head into the Krusty Krab, and take refuge in the warmest place they can find- the soup. They keep getting the munchies however, and eat the vegetables SpongeBob throws in, leading him to believe that the soup is haunted. I like how him thinking the Krusty Krab is haunted has become a running gag now, since SpongeBob’s Place made a similar joke, and The Night Patty brings it full circle. Mr Krabs tells him to serve it anyway, but when he delivers the food, the hippies come out of the bowls and tease the Krustomers, getting a few of them to even refund. This gets Mr Krabs fuming, and sets the rest of the story into motion- the hippies have been found out, and Mr Krabs does everything he can to get them out of the soup and onto the streets.
Old Man Krabs’ first attempt to eradicate them is to yell at them with a megaphone, but they predictably start a peaceful protest with a catchy chant that SpongeBob sings along to. This is where it’s evident that SpongeBob and Mr Krabs have different viewpoints on the hippies, though SpongeBob continues to help Krabs out. They then dip long hair into the soup, only for it to be braided, then play hacky-sack, before the hippies swiftly kick it into the pot. These are well-known piece of hippy culture, but I don’t get the bongo-playing as much. Mr Krabs gets SpongeBob and Squidward to play the bongos, but they all get tired, with the nail in the coffin being SpongeBob pulling out a windup monkey toy.
He eventually just gets SpongeBob to hop into the soup and tell them to beat it, but SpongeBob gets high, that’s the best way to describe what happens. He starts saying far-out things, and turns into a hippy himself, and even meets up with Patrick in there. Note that this is Patrick’s only appearance in the episode, and it’s left up to you to figure out his story. Time passes, and SpongeBob gets out of the soup to find Mr Krabs, but the Krusty Krab’s become desolate in his undetermined absence, with Krabs pretending to be a hippy aswell until SpongeBob switches back. This I think is a great place to take it, as SpongeBob learns the consequences of doing no work and all play, we see Mr Krabs as a hippy, and the actual hippies are taken to a new location- Squidward’s bathtub. I’ll admit that loose end is tied up a bit too conveniently, considering how much trouble Mr Krabs had with them, but I guess SpongeBob was just that good at befriending them.
So yeah, the story here is groovy, but the comedy’s downright bodacious. I think the gross-out with the semi-trash Mr Krabs wants in the soup is far enough for the episode to go, as nothing’s eaten onscreen or anything. Besides, I love the pile of mashed potato shaped like Squidward’s face. There’s also the many attempts at baiting the hippies out of the soup, many of which have two punchlines- buying into a hippy stereotype, and Mr Krabs being disappointed with the result. Perhaps my favourite part is when they episode makes fun of every location being bigger on the inside (eg, the soup pot is a whole other world inside), when Mr Krabs briefly appears in Squidward’s shirt, then he calls down asking if anyone else is there. It’s an example of how this is a more surreal episode, and the writers are having a ball with that.
Animation-wise, this episode is just swood. I like mild psychedelic imagery as much as the next guy, and they hit it out of the park with the inside of the soup. The background warps in such a way that’s hypnotisingly surreal, yet it clearly makes sense since they’re in a liquid. It’s also very cool when SpongeBob ascends and dons his hippy outfit, which him and Patrick have dusted off from SpongeBob’s Last Stand. I didn’t like them there, but they’re more fitting in a clearly psychedelic setting. On a more subtle note, whenever we go outside, which is only two of three times, it’s cold and gusty, which is why the Krusty Krab is serving soup in the first place. When the weather hits you again when Squidward’s house screams, it keeps things consistent, and I’m really happy they double check stuff like that.
Characterization here is once again simple, but you understand every action, reaction and joke they make. Mr Krabs hates hippies, not just because it’s an old man thing to hate, but because of their careless attitudes and them mooching off his restaurant’s heat. SpongeBob’s more well-defined, initially being interested in their culture, and even diving deep into it, but he soon realises the lifestyle isn’t for him, due to him needing a job to survive in life. The hippies are pretty cool, to the point it’s hard to describe them as the antagonists. There are two men and one woman, but they all stick out as much as each other, due to having the same “all-relative” personalities. Patrick and Squidward are also rather funny, even if they appear little, and the disgusted Krustomers are a mixed bag. I think they’re a bit annoying, but making them so posh and over-dignified gives us a breath of fresh air from the gnarly vibes coming from the soup.
If I could describe this episode in one word, it’d have to be a very deep, spacious word. There’s a Sponge in My Soup is a better hippy episode than it had any right to be, and that’s because it knew how to craft a unique atmosphere. It built and expanded upon this new frontier for the Krusty Krew to react to, and it happened to be one that fit the Post-Sequel era’s creative direction like a crotchet glove. The jokes are fab, the animation’s fabber, but the fact that it all makes sense and genuinely makes me care about a group of hippies living in soup is the absolute fabbest. Don’t do drugs kids, you’ll get enough of a high buzz watching SpongeBob.
Final Verdict: Hey man, it’s like, Spongy 9/10 (not perfect, but still among the best)
Feral Friends < There’s a Sponge in My Soup < Bulletin Board
Question of the Day: What are your favourite Season 11 episodes?
Man Ray Returns (Season 11, Episode 4a)
Original Airdate: September 30 2017
Episode 418 in standard order, Episode 414 in airing order
Plot: Squidward goes on vacation, and Man Ray moves in, making him SpongeBob and Patrick’s new neighbour
Written by Kaz
Yet another familiar face returns from the SpongeBob side character limbo today, in an episode that I had expectations for. It seemed like the next step to take in the Mermaid Pants & Barnacle Star series, after their decent yet run-of-the-mill debut. Pitting them against an actual Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy villain felt like a logical evolution. Even if we’ve seen SpongeBob and Patrick deal with their enemies without the get-up, this could’ve been a new take on the formula that was as entertaining as its predecessors. Alas, it really disappointed me for a number of reasons. Strap yourselves in my review of the first Season 11 episode that I don’t like.
The episode starts with SpongeBob and Patrick playing as spies of sorts, using their walkie-talkies to communicate, and liking to go “ckh”. What this sets up is that they’re clearly in a playful mood today, but more often than not, they cross the line into just being annoying. Patrick briefly bothers an old lady, but she gets her revenge by...eating his money. Given her sudden and unexplained threat level, she’s the only character who deserved any comeuppance, with the next one being Squidward, as per usual. SpongeBob and Patrick don’t get to bully him for long however, as heading away for a vacation to get away from them. Good for him, considering his neighbours’ behaviours don’t improve across the day.
Squidward made a bad call and arranged for a guest to care take care of his house, and that guest just happened to be Man Ray. He tells the Action Narrator that he’s not doing any evil (except for wearing a Hawaiian tourist costume), and he seems to stick to his word, without any irony or deceit. This doesn’t stop SpongeBob and Patrick from bothering him by welcoming him into the neighbourhood. They make him a pie, made out of sand from Patrick’s waste(?), which he eats, in a joke that’s simply gross and nothing more. They then ask if he wants to become part of their club, which is short-sighted given he’ll move away in a few days, but I can still tell they’re trying to be friendly. The reason they’re so nice to him is that they don’t recognise him as Man Ray, because the knobs on his helmet are guarded by a sunflower hat. Otherwise, they’d have to be blind not to know it’s him, and that seems to be the case.
When Mary Ray goes to the bathroom to finish washing up, and takes off his hat, that’s when SpongeBob and Patrick figure out who he is. In a hurry, they go to Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy and ask what to do, but find them cryogenically frozen for the week. This sort of continuation of their adventures, I can get down with, having them seperated from SpongeBob in different ways. However, I find the joke of Patrick wanting to lick them like popsicles to be tasteless. One of their actors has passed on, and the other’s sufferring from dimentia, so I think their first role in years, outside of cameos, should’ve been respectful. Regardless of how I feel about that, SpongeBob and Patrick transform into Mermaid Pants and Barnacle Star using the caped coots’ rings, which were conveniently left out of the freezing, and go back to fight Man Ray.
They go back to Squidward’s house and fight Man Ray, until he has no choice but to become evil in self-defense. We get a lengthy fight scene where the only real joke is that everything Squidward owns gets destroyed. It wasn’t funny in A Friendly Game, and it isn’t funny here either, despite the more appealing setup. After fighting for a while, Squidward calls to say he’s coming home, due to the weather putting a damper on his vacation, and Man Ray leaves without cleaning up or even paying. Sure this is the villainous thing to do, but how come he gave Squidward a phoney cheque initially if he was taking a break from evil up to this point? That doesn’t matter, because SpongeBob and Patrick try to fix the place up by using their “super saliva”, but it all crumbles down the second Squidward gets back inside, in an ending joke that’s predictable as all get-out.
The best joke in the episode is when Man Ray takes a liking to the phrase “evil never takes a vacation”, first hearing it from SpongeBob, then using it himself and sounding much cooler. Besides that, the jokes were either bad or forgettable, usually both. I don’t like Patrick wanting Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy to be popsicles, as I’ve already said, but him randomly having Mermaid Man’s detatched frozen arm crosses the line. There’s that and the old lady that bites into Patrick’s money, but there’s not much else that sticks out to me. Perhaps the Action Narrator making a few quips would be funny to some, but I wish he had a slightly bigger role and appeared consistently.
With the animation, I’m a bit more positive. This is Man Ray’s first appearance since he teamed up with Plankton in Season 8 (not saying the title of the episode, it’s really stupid), and he’s gotten a face lift. He’s more expressive, but not overbearingly so, even if his gimmick of only having static moods to show feels like an artifact of Pre-Movie humour. I think his tourist get-up also looks neat, and makes him seem more casual. The backgrounds are still nice, but it’s a shame the most detailed, Squidward’s living room, has to be smashed for the plot to move forward. As for outright negatives, they focused more on making SpongeBob and Patrick idiotic instead of heroic. I know that’s the joke, but come on, I don’t want to care about these characters when they’re shown bottom-feeding. Also, I don’t know why the “Scuber” has to be live action, it could’ve looked nice enough animated. I’ll admit, the Uber pun is another modern day reference that sticks with me.
I keep going on about this, but SpongeBob is pretty dumbed down here, and Patrick isn’t far off. If this is going to be the dynamic for Mermaid Pants & Barnacle Star episodes moving forward, it’ll work less and less because I don’t see these guys genuinely saving the day like they did in the past. Then there’s Squidward, whose most prominent personality trait here is that he’s unlucky, both with his vacation and getting back home. There isn’t much else to him, but he’s not a focus anyway. Man Ray’s fun for the most part, as it seems those goodness lessons paid off after all, though him flipping to the dark side at the climax is irritating, because I would’ve liked to see more of his good side, and how he handles the situation in a civilized way.
In short, man this was disappointing. It’s not a terrible episode, but if Mermaid Pants has already run his course, that’s a right shame. This story would’ve been a lot better if the characters were more relatable, because the best it gets is with Man Ray trying to have a vacation. Alas, SpongeBob and Patrick have to ruin it with the power of another good neighbour club. If you don’t care as much about Man Ray and his jokes as much as I do, or you don’t care about the long (and getting longer) gaps between superhero-themed episodes, you may not have a problem with this, but for me, I need to call a scuber.
Final Verdict: Bad 4/10 (not worth your time)
Snooze You Lose < Man Ray Returns < Salsa Imbecilicus
Question of the Day: What do you think the future holds for Mermaid Pants & Barnacle Star?
Characters are returning left and right! But this large-livin’ lobster’s stuck around for a while now. Let’s see if he’s outstayed his welcome after this break.
Larry the Floor Manager (Season 11, Episode 4b)
Original Airdate: September 30 2017
Episode 419 in standard order, Episode 415 in airing order
Plot: Mr Krabs needs a break from the Krusty Krab, so Larry takes his place
Written by Ben Gruber
They’ve certainly taken a liking to Larry over these past few seasons, and for good reason. His episodes had a certain flavour that’s refreshing to see back in the limelight, after being relatively ignored for so long. That’s why it’s rather odd we’ve got yet another “Krusty Krab changes too much so SpongeBob has to turn it back to normal” story, that’s managed to pop back in every few years since its debut in the basic yet charming Bossy Boots. It’s not as annoyingly consistent as “SpongeBob befriends another animal”, but it’s very noticeable when this repeat the same story template for wieners and gyms. But hey, Larry’s already filled in a role for Mr Krabs this season, maybe this won’t be so bad.
Another day, another migrane for the Krusty Krew, as Bubble Bass holds up the Krusty Krab’s line for a complicated order which Squidward isn’t getting. The stress builds more as Mr Krabs has random spasms of rage over small things, culminating in him chasing Squidward with the register boat. It’s pretty funny, as the whole krew’s involved (with SpongeBob following but tangling up the whole restaurant), and it doesn’t take itself seriously in any way, shape or form. I can understand what Mr Krabs is feeling, but laugh at how he deals with his anger without any guilt. After all, he and SpongeBob are quickly calmed down by Larry, who conveniently showed up to the Krusty Krab despite not liking fast food.
Another theme this episode shares with The Check-Up is some brief negotiation over the next 9 minutes of the episode, with Larry agreeing to take control of the Krusty Krab while Mr Krabs takes a vacation. Unfortunately, he forgets what he’s in charge of within a couple seconds, and starts the turn the place around. I can see why he’d want to make the place feel closer to home, as he runs a gym, almost the polar opposite of a fast food joint, but he could’ve learnt more about what he was getting into. It’s also a shame he doesn’t have enough time to really communicate with SpongeBob, just spending his time throwing out the weak people and replacing them with strong ones.
Before long, the Krabby Patty’s taken off the menu, and food in general is served less, as Larry wants to turn the Krusty Krab into another makeshift gym. I can see what he’s going for, but it would’ve been far more interesting if he had some sort of conflict with SpongeBob or Squidward about this, instead of just changing everything because he wants to. Speaking of whom, SpongeBob and Squidward, the latter of whom remains tangled up in ropes from an obstacle course, try to sabtoage the new “Healthy Krab” in various ways, and surprise surprise, they fail. SpongeBob makes an incredibly unhealthy protien shake (which is the only thing they serve at this point), but Larry finds it works well as grease for his muscles. Then he rigs the weights to be impossible to use, but breaking it becomes the rewarding challenge for bodybuilders. These are creative schemes, but they’re not enough to save the story.
That comes around when SpongeBob sees the former Krustomers, starving on the street, and gets them to retaliate against the buff bros. This is the part of the episode I enjoy the most, the fight between fit and fat, with Chinese action themes thrown in randomyl yet fittingly. If the episode were more of a discussion about being overly healthy versus not really caring what you eat, then it would’ve fit the episode more, but it’s still pretty fun. Larry eventually gives in and apologises for turning the Krusty Krab into something it’s not, but SpongeBob notes that with all the people getting fat off Krabby Patties, he’ll have more customers for his job. That’s a bittersweet way of viewing both businesses, but at least the Krusty Krab’s back to normal before Mr Krabs is back, perhaps more than normal due to SpongeBob’s new patty-slingshotting skills.
In terms of comedy, I think this episode has its peaks and valleys. The middle section’s a deadzone where there’s not enough enjoyable humour, it’s mostly just Larry ignoring SpongeBob’s pleas to be a competent boss. The rest of the episode makes up for that, namely the start with Mr Krabs’ insane hair trigger and the awesome healing power of Larry’s pecks, but especially with the ending foodfight. I never thought I’d see condiment bottles being used as nunchucks. You also get Larry’s pecks crying, causing Bubble Bass to say he has “sad pecks”, and Mr Krabs seeing all the fattened Krustomers and gladly saying everything was left intact. I feel like Squidward should’ve had a happier ending than just staying tangled in rope for half the episode.
I wish I could say things just as good about the animation, but there are a couple visual gags that I have a problem with. Namely, Larry and a fellow bodybuilder flexing to the point they look incredibly fleshy and veiny, which is a phase I thought this show got over. There’s also some rather unappealing visuals with the Krustomers chewing, and SpongeBob showing Larry how they normally chew. I see the comedic appeal, but I just find this sort of thing gross. As for things that I liked, even if it isn’t funny as long as it’s stretched out, I think Squidward getting tangled up in ropes is a logical issue, given his spindly tentacles. I always get a kick out of them being used for knotty jokes.
Perhaps another reason this isn’t one of my favourites is the thin characterization, now that I think about it. SpongeBob’s going through his now-trademark “assertiveness arc”, but at least he manages to kick poop deck in the climax. Squidward’s just there for slapstick and the rope stuff, Mr Krabs is fun, but just there to set up the situation, which just leaves Larry. I found him to be rather bland here, just being rather airheaded with how he keeps referring to himself in the first person. Did they want him to seem dumb? Is he just ignorant? It seems when they try to give Larry character flaws, he just comes off as ridiculous, but hey, at least the ridiculousness of the whole episode escalates, so it’s not too out-of-place. One last character of note is Bubble Bass, who’s got some fun gags, though I think he could’ve been paart of a bigger Thin VS Fat theme.
This is another episode that could’ve disappointed me, but it thankfully has its redeeming moments. Sure the story’s predictable for the most part, and the characters aren’t up to snuff when they need to be, but the jokes have the making to be really memorable. I guess this is the risk of putting Larry in somewhat of an antagonistic role, something he really hasn’t been in his 18 years of existence up to this point, except for one joke in Pet or Pests that I’d rather forget. Maybe if we see this side of Larry more in the future, and it’s more ironed out and relatable, this could be seen as a stepping stone to a bigger future for the character.
Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
Plankton Gets the Boot < Larry the Floor Manager < Patrick! The Game
Question of the Day: Do you prefer the casual lifestyle or an overly healthy one?
The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom (Season 11, Episode 5)
Original Airdate: October 13 2017
Episode 420 blazeit in standard order, Episode 418 in airing order
Plot: on Halloween, Patrick teaches SpongeBob that “scary equals funny”, infuriating the Flying Dutchman
Written by Mr Lawrence
You don’t know how relieving it is to see the Flying Dutchman again. His last appearance was in Season 8’s Ghoul Fools, and even then he wasn’t the alpha ghost in the room, so it’s easy to forget about that. He missed out on an important step in SpongeBob history, but I’m glad to see him return in such a grand way- another Screen Novelties stop motion special. The previous one has been hailed as one of the greatest SpongeBob episodes of all time, so yeah, this has a legacy to live up to, both with its villain and style. What if I told you that this wasn’t just another excellent holiday special, but probably even better than its predecessor? It may seem like a shock, but you’ll be laughing soon enough.
The special opens with most of the Truth Or Square opening sequence, which fits way better with the traditional theme song, and I still can’t get enough of. After that blast from the recent past, we cut to Bikini Bottom on a Halloween night. Everyone’s enjoying the festivities, and children are trick-or-treating, but SpongeBob’s not quite embracing the spirit. He puts up the brightest, most cheerful decorations possible, and tells Patrick that Halloween’s just too scary for him. This is the same sort of issue as in Scaredy Pants, though with one major difference- instead of deciding to change his appearance for the holiday, he changes his outlook on it instead, with isn’t quite as hilarious, but feels more like character development.
Patrick comes to check up on him, being the one to convince him that “scary equals funny”. It’s rather nice seeing him helping SpongeBob out, and getting him into the holiday spirit just a bit more. They first spot some trick-or-treaters going to Squidward’s house, where he scares them off with an avalanche of giant onions. It’s a bit weird that Squidward was eager enough to do something like that for Halloween, but it’s funny I guess. Another reason I’m glad that SpongeBob grows a backbone and learns to giggle at the ghosties is that he doesn’t hide behind Patrick, but rather...on him. Once in his knight armour’s prosterior compartment, and once as his buck tooth. Letting SpongeBob be SquarePants instead of ScaredyPants allows this gag to go out while it’s still fresh and not too in-your-face.
They head to other abodes in Bikini Bottom, not really for candy, but for the thrill of getting scared and laughing it off, starting with Sandy’s treedome. This year, she’s dressed as Dr Frankenstein (remember, that’s the name of the doctor, not the monster) and has a row of jars that you stick your hand in and try not to get grossed out. My primary school had something similar where you’re blindfolded and you walk through canned spaghetti, so I have to thank Mr Lawrence for bringing those memories back. Anyways, SpongeBob and Patrick are then shown her “acorn robot” that eats them, and SpongeBob gets through the whole ordeal without any stress. The reason this scene works in the overall narrative is that it’s confirmation that SpongeBob can enjoy Halloween, as well as another reason later on.
After this is the street where the Krusty Krab and Chum Bucket reside, and they’ve both got similar anti-competitor haunted houses. They go to the Krusty Krab (Horrors of the Chum Bucket) first because why not, where Mr Krabs has put up theatres where cut-outs of vegetables are being mutilated by Plankton. The Chum Bucket (Horrors of the Krusty Krab) attraction is more aggressive however, with Plankton forcing the idea that Krabby Patties are made of fish, with gruesome decorations. Essentially, Mr Krabs is stealing from Sausage Party, and Plankton’s stealing from Robot Chicken, and I love both haunted houses.
With SpongeBob laughing it up, and the rest of Bikini Bottom enjoying Halloween as much as him, we finally get the thing that could add some “spook” to the spooktacular season- the Flying Dutchman, back in the living non-flesh. After he’s done traumatising a bored teenager with the face that the author of the Night Light book warned us about, he notices that SpongeBob’s laughter is hurting his ship. This is because his “scary equals funny” mentality is ruining what the holiday spirit used to mean. Again, this is somewhat like Scaredy Pants, but with the knowledge that a lack of scares is legitimately hurting the Dutchman, which is an interesting take on it.
Wanting to give SpongeBob the scare of his life, the Dutchman takes him and Patrick up to his ship for the scariest rollercoaster ride he can cook up. By this point, Patrick’s utterly freaked out, but SpongeBob’s still having the time of his life, which gradually gets irritating the longer they’re on the ship. I’m just happy that the spooky song’s great, and the animation’s superb, with a mix of stop-motion and puppetry so seamless, that it easily shows off how much Screen Novelties has grown since the Christmas special. The amount of locations they built just for a musical number performed by sock puppets is incredible, and I await anything else they’re willing to do for the show.
SpongeBob and I are still enjoying ourselves, so the Flying Dutchman decides to crank it up a notch- by stealing his friends’ souls and locking them up! The ghostly fog he uses to abduct them isn’t really fog, but rather some cloudy material that surprisingly manages to get the job done. Unfortunatley, SpongeBob still has a hard time viewing the situation as frightening, laughing off the fact that Sandy, Squidward, Mr Krabs, Gary and Plankton have been kidnapped. This dark humour wears off when he’s snapped back to his senses by Patrick, whose soul’s taken right under his nose. Patrick tells him that sometimes, scary equals scary, and SpongeBob re-calculates this idea...then runs off in a panic.
The impact of everything that’d happened tonight scares him out of his skin, and that and his skeleton run off the ship in a very Season 11 joke. It’s out-there, but I still like it because the skin and skeleton have different personalities, with the skin being brave and the skeleton not having a backbone. It’s clever, creepy enough for a Halloween special, and refreshing to see this sort of crazy joke in stop-motion. With that, the Dutchman continues to taunt his friends, even turning Plankton into his slave when he attempts to escape, before SpongeBob comes back with the acorn robot, in what could’ve been an epic fight scene...if it didn’t immediately break down. It’s like the bag of winds from the movie, having a Checkhov Gun that convenient is a bit of a cheat.
The Flying Dutchman then taunts SpongeBob over how he doesn’t have a single scary thought in his head, but is then warned by Plankton who remembers the events that transpired in it back in Sponge Out of Water. This fuels the Dutchman’s curiosity, so he shrinks and goes into SpongeBob’s brain like a sperm cell, only to be met with a universe that’s grown even more uncanny and diabetic. It’s animated in this weird, surreal style that makes Adventure Time look like Family Guy, and it becomes an overload by the time SpongeBob whips out a giant naked baby version of himself to break the Dutchman. I guess the moral of this new Halloween special is also that SpongeBob’s brain is the scariest thing in the universe, whether outside its skull or inside its childish facade. Alas, it allows the episode to end on a high note, with everyone safely returning to Bikini Bottom for a Halloween party, and Sandy tempting fate by saying she never wants to go inside SpongeBob’s brain.
Like the previous Screen Novelties special, this is funnier than it’d initially seem. My favourite joke has to be when SpongeBob’s told that “scary equals scary” on the ride, so he whips out a chalkboard an rethinks his mantra, which is written out like an equation. Helping is that his arm is puppeted, making the shot look more dopey. There are a ton of other great jokes, like Karen being dressed as a cat, Squidward’s onion defense system, and Patrick somehow getting into one of Sandy’s jars, and letting SpongeBob feel his brain until it starts to hurt. Again, I don’t mind a little gross-out, especially because gross imagery can be scary to some, fitting the horror theme. The Dutchman’s also delightfully despicable as ever, nonchalantly freaking people out and turning Plankton into his slave. Perhaps one joke I don’t like is how SpongeBob can’t stop laughing, even when his friends are locked up, but he snaps out of it. Regardless of his change, if you don’t like SpongeBob’s laughter, you may hate that scene.
I didn’t expect the stop-motion to get even better after how cute the Christmas special was, but it manages to blow it out of the water, or lack thereof. The blending of stop-motion and puppetering is something that needs to more attention here, due to how much more is going on, and how often they rely on the latter for more realistic movement. The models for new characters are better, the sets are larger, and there are visual gags that are in line with Post-Sequel’s sense of humour now. Stuff like Plankton ripping himself in half to escape his cage would’ve been too strange to do in Season 8. Speaking of Plankton, his restaurant? Glorious. I guess glow-in-the-dark paint really works after all. If there’s one minor flaw, it’s that SpongeBob and Patrick don’t wear water helmets in Sandy’s treedome, but they would’ve been hard to implement, and it wasn’t a big deal in the Christmas special anyway. As for the SpongeBob brain dimension, it has an out-there art style that I can’t put my finger on, but gets the job done of freaking out even the Flying Dutchman.
So about them characters, they’re all good. SpongeBob’s going through a familiar arc, but it’s centred on his sense of humour, and he learns to try and kick butt on Halloween, so it’s all good. Patrick, in helping with SpongeBob’s 18 year old arc, revert’s back to his Season 1 personality for the most part, which is a welcome return. He’s a bit airheaded, but all he wants to do is help his friend out. Plankton’s got some great jokes, and a minor role of being a doormat/jelly bean near the end, and we see Karen in stop-motion again, this time in her mobile mode.
Sandy, Mr Krabs and Squidward are also in-character, even though they’re not focuses, but Gary just randomly appears as a soul for some reason. Maybe giving him a role earlier in the episode would give including him some more sense. The big daddy however, is the Flying Dutchman, I love this character for being a great, big villain who can equally be threatening and casual. His casual side doesn’t pop up too often, but hey, it’s Halloween, he has to bring his A game. A game he certainly brings, with perhaps the most terrifying faces in the entire history of the show, and that’s saying something.
Words can’t describe how happy I am that this turned out better than It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!. I think Halloween episodes are great, because there’s more material for jokes, and this did an excellent job at keeping me laughing and frightened, which is more than I can say for even the classic Scaredy Pants. Top this near-perfect balance with some excellent animation, which honestly raises the uncanny nature of the holiday, all your old favourite characters having their part in the story, and a couple surprises here and there, and this is just as good a Halloween treat as its 2012 predecessor was a Christmas treat. It’s sure to become legendary.
Final Verdict: Spongy 9/10 (not perfect, but still among the best)
Bulletin Board < The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom < Squid Plus One
Question of the Day: Which Screen Novelties special do you think is better?
No Pictures Please (Season 11, Episode 6a)
Original Airdate: November 6 2017 (Episode 421)
Plot: Patrick becomes a tour guide across Bikini Bottom for a fellow fatso
Written by Mr Lawrence
There are many mysteries in this world, and everyone’s got their part in digging into them and finding answers. There are mysteries over secrets that people have, with others wanting them to share, and the sorts of mysteries that push our perception of reality, which when uncovered, could be scientific breakthroughs. To me however, the mystery I find myself unearthing time and time again, is if the next episode of SpongeBob is a good one. The reason I’m being so pretentious today is because of the weird, sci fi undertones this episode has, from its Twilight Zone references to its twists and turns. There are things I remember liking about this episode when I first discovered its secrets, but the journey was something I could do without. Now I’ve just gotta say it’s “meh”.
The episode kicks off with a parody of The Twilight Zone’s title sequence, describing Bikini Bottom and how it passes over “the tidal zone”, where strange happenings occur. It’s a faithful shout-out, does its own thing with the sea pun and the characters floating around in the void, and it isn’t just something they threw in for the sake of it- it makes sense when you rewatch the episode, not that you’d 100% want to. After this, we see Patrick at a bus stop, demanding to buy a balloon, introducing us to what face he decided to put on today, the “I’m stupid and have a middling sense of humour” one. We may never know why he turned up to a bus stop just to ask this question, but that’s a mystery for another time.
A tour bus then comes around, and everyone on it becomes occupied with needing to go to the restroom, so Patrick takes the tour guide’s hat...because. I don’t think it was hinted that he wanted to be a tour guide himself, but kids are impulsive and curious, as is Patrick. Only one guy gets off the tour bus later than the potty crowd, and that’s a fat, purple fish named Rube, who’s enthusiastic about everything he sees. He’ll take a picture of it, and say “Amazing!”, which is about 90% of his character. Get used to that gimmick, because much of the rest of the episode is centred on it. Heck, I don’t even feel like describing the locations he and Patrick go to to just goof around, because *click* “Amazing!” is all they want you to remember. Alas, there are some interesting places explored, and they’re not all half bad.
The first couple places are Patrick trying to turn things he’s randomly found into tourist attractions, like a rock man or a hole he dug yesterday. They’re amusing, but nothing special, then things go downhill when he and Rube go to SpongeBob’s house, and watch him sleep while they raid his fridge. That’s rather careless of them, but then they do the same thing and barge into Squidward’s house, and a random poor guy with twin daughters. It’s annoying seeing them not learn their lesson when they’re kicked out of places so many times. The Krusty Krab isn’t too different, but at least Sandy’s treedome has something going for it, albeit the “oh yeah, we’re supposed to be wearing water helmets” routine for what feels like the fiftieth time.
After a ton of scene that all follow the same formula to a “T”, they go to the graveyard where something genuinely interesting happens. Patrick introduces Rube to a skeleton friend of his, but Rube accidentally breaks his arm. A bit odd, considering the plot twist, but it’s still funny, and enough of a dangerous move to finally get him in trouble with the rest of the town. When everyone in town confronts him about his behaviour, Mr Krabs mentions he took pictures of the Krabby Patty secret formula for some reason, but as it turns out...he had no film in his camera. In fact, neither he nor his camera exist, because Tidal Zone. I have to admit, this and the graveyard scene make it all worth it, as simply giving Rube a reason to be there (or technically not) is interesting, and the twist is hilarious. By this point, you will have completely forgotten the opening to this episode, so it’s a pleasant surprise seeing it mean something.
I really don’t want to dislike this episode, and some of the more genuinely clever jokes help give it some push out of the lower tiers. Stuff like Patrick describing the ancient hole he dug yesterday was pretty good, with the right setup, even if the joke of him and Rube sitting in it and fitting perfectly leaves a lot to be desired. I also like the tour guide calmly then angrily noticing Patrick and the hat that was stolen from him. It’s also got a pretty good general tourist line with “If you look to your left, you’ll miss everything on your right”. There are a couple bad jokes however, like how they try to push Rube’s catchphrase into every scene they possibly can, and the opening bit with Patrick demanding balloons at a bus station for no reason.
The animation is mostly your run-of-the-mill Season 10-12 stuff, which feels a bit dirty to say. A lot of exaggerated faces, and some environments that’re sometimes beautiful, and sometimes beautiful in an ugly way. The best one that pops to mind is the graveyard, which sure isn’t that different from One Krabs Trash, but there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. Rube’s design is simple, your typical tourist get-up but made fatter and given a goofier grin, so you know he has thee same demeanour as Patrick. The Tidal Zone background (which is jusst a sparkling starscape like the Twilight Zone) isn’t much to write home about, unfortunately. Maybe it’s because the pitch black night sky doesn’t mesh well with SpongeBob’s art style, but something’s a bit too off-putting about it, even for a science fiction shout-out.
What is there to say about the characters in No Pictures Please? Perhaps it’s the fact that Patrick and Rube get along rather nicely. They’re both dumb, fat, and more importantly, optimistic, which is the trait I like to see in them as they tour Bikini Bottom. Their dynamic reminds me of Sven Hoek and Stimpy in a lot of ways. As for the others characters, they don’t have much of a purpose in the episode, except getting annoyed by Patrick and Rube. The actual tour guide is decent and has a few jokes, and the French Narrator introducing us to the Tidal Zone is pretty neat, but that’s about it. In conclusion, it’s an episode about two goofballs walking around, and it sure feels like it. I enjoyed some of the jokes though, and that’s pretty important.
Final Verdict: Average 5/10 (a mixed bag)
The Fish Bowl < No Pictures Please < Whirly Brains
Question of the Day: What’s your favourite SpongeBob plot twist?
Stuck on the Roof (Season 11, Episode 6b)
Original Airdate: November 6 2017 (Episode 422)
Plot: SpongeBob becomes afraid of heights when he stays on the Krusty Krab’s roof for too long
Written by Andrew Goodman
Getting the episode off to a very traditional start is the title card music, which is The Rake Hornpipe, the theme most associated with the Krusty Krab. I don’t think it’s ever been used as title card music, but they made it so here because of how this episode feels, like just another SpongeBob episode. Granted that’s a negative way of looking at it, but this is following a basic story structure, and giving us basic jokes. There’s nothing wrong with something that dials things back however, as long as it still hooks you and does something new with its basic materials. Like SpongeBob’s initial woodwork in this episode, Stuck on the Roof becomes adequate.
It begins on what’s like any other day at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob’s cooking Krabby Patties, but dancing to dubstep while doing so. I know people are rather turned off by him twerking, but he was moving his square buttcheeks in a similar way back in Pizza Delivery. The other dance moves are a bit on-the-nose though, and it doesn’t help that more modern music is playing. Conflict kicks in however when he gets a Krabby Patty stuck in the chimney, getting the restaurant clogged up in smoke. Nobody wants to eat in a place that’s really smokey, especially underwater now that I think about it, so Mr Krabs tells him to fish it out, which he does without a problem. The opening depicts SpongeBob as a bit of a young spirit, which is good for work attitude, but bad for any fears that could arise, which quickly do.
Before he’ss able to get down safely, SpongeBob slips on some ketchup that dripped out of the Krabby Patty, leaving that to drop to the ground, and himself in a state of shock. He peers down towards the ground below him, and can’t take it upon himself to climb down, even when there’s a ladder there. I think this would’ve been more interesting if the ladder broke at some point, and Mr Krabs tried to catch him, but I understand fear clouds judgement and all that. Some of SpongeBob’s friends attempt to get him down, but Sandy’s Extend-O-Boots malfunction, leaving her clumsily lumbering around like a giantess in high heels, and Patrick makes things ten times worse by just plummeting into the earth’s crust. Even with Patrick, I get the sense they want to help SpongeBob out, but lack of common sense got in the way.
SpongeBob’s fear gets to the point that he decides to stay up on the roof well into the night, simply not wanting to risk getting down and hurting himself. That’s the sort of dilemma that’s rather interesting to see play out, him only hurting himself more by simply not taking it like a man. He tries to keep himself happy anyway, using some shadoww puppetry to annoy Squidward while he’s enjoying his dinner, and building a bed for himself entirely made of wood. It’s hardly comfortable, but it’s a good start for a sponge with the mind of a child this time around. In general, I think setting this scene at night adds a bit of atmosphere- you’d rather be in a warm bed in a warm house than in this situation.
When the sun rises, the rest of the story just starts to get predictable. Mr Krabs and Squidward bring the grill up to the roof so SpongeBob can still cook, which gets the Krustomers to eat their food outside. They’re angry their food’s cold however, so they go to the roof to eat it fresher, so SpongeBob builds a floor big enough to hold them. It seems fine and dandy, but when wind and rain hits, SpongeBob builds some shelter to keep everything under control, and that shelter happens to be an exact replica of the whole Krusty Krab. They then all dance their troubles away, pushing the original Krusty Krab down, so it’s as if nothing happened...except Squidward getting stuck underground. It’s a rather lame ending, because SpongeBob doesn’t truly conquer his fears, and it’s just a series of answers to why cooking on top of a roof isn’t a good idea, but I liked this story overall. It’s simple, charming, and isn’t doing anything wrong except playing things safe.
This wasn’t a particularly funny episode, but there are some jokes that stick out to me. I like Mr Krabs describing in length how he’s going to dock SpongeBob’s pay when he gets off the roof, and all the stuff that happens to Squidward- getting kicked by Sandy, attacked by SpongeBob’s shadow puppets, then buried underground through the power of others’ dancing. Onto visual gags, there are a few I think work, like SpongeBob turning into a boom box when he puts his dupstep on again, and just how high up SpongeBob feels when he peers down to the ground. My only gripe with the latter is that they have about four sequences in a row that portray his vertigo, and I think spreading them out across the episode would’ve made things tidier, and the episode itself more visually interesting on the whole.
The best character here is easily SpongeBob. Sure some of his dance moves are wince-worthy, but I like the problem he falls into, and the pressure he feels. It’s relatable not just to me, but to kids who’ve ended up in the same situation as him at some point in their lives. What I don’t like about him however is that he doesn’t manage to conquer his fear of heights, the world just sorta works itself out for him. The rest of the characters are much more simplified. I find Mr Krabs ti be a bit nicer to SpongeBob here than usual, which is great to see again. Then you have Squidward, whose punching bag moments raise a smile and not much else, then Sandy and Patrick are the same ordeal, just with far less unhappy endings I guess.
The short of it is this story feels like something they cooked up in Season 9b, but saved for later when they could find a way to make it funnier. It definitely fits in with early 9b, when they were still warming back up after another hiatus, and giving us the sort of SpongeBob episodes we remember. It’s an odd feeling in these newer seasons when I have to criticise an episode for playing things too safely. On one hand, it isn’t bouncing off the walls and throwing annoying things into your face, but I like it more when there’s a lot to talk about in an episode, good or bad, and this doesn’t deliver much I haven’t seen before. I think a kid who’s just starting out with SpongeBob would find it great though, it’s certainly one of those episodes for newcomers.
Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
Spin the Bottle < Stuck on the Roof < House Worming
Question of the Day: What’s your favourite SpongeBob dance?
Krabby Patty Creature Feature (Season 11, Episode 7a)
Original Airdate: October 21 2017
Episode 423 in standard order, Episode 419 in airing order
Plot: Mr Krabs and Sandy create a new Krabby Patty that causes a zombie outbreak
Written by Chris Allison, Ryan Kramer and Kaz
Hooray, we’ve got another horror-themed episode for the holidays. I mean it’s better to get through these than to put them off until New Years. After all, it’s my plan to review every single episode before the show’s 20th anniversary, so the sooner the better I guess. In terms of the horror that infests this episode, it’s a zombie apocalypse with its fair share of gross-out. I don’t like these things by themselves, namely because the former’s tropes are so played out wherever they’re used, but combined, they can make for a disgusting Halloween treat. I mean this aired in October, alongside The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom, so I guess they were just on a roll with Halloween ideas this time around. Anyway, let’s dive headfirst into tonight’s Krabby Patty Creature Feature.
It started on an ordinary day at the Krusty Krab...just...like...this one. But seriously, SpongeBob’s just serving up some Krabby Patties, and he and Mr Krabs have a good laugh about it in a routine that reminds me a bit too much of Face Freeze!. At least it was the best part of that episode, and it’s the worst part of this one. Krabs takes the meals himself to some hipsters, who’ve gotten bored with them and crave something new. It says something about how people can get tired of perfection, notably when the rest of the Krustomers chant for something new, despite being perfectly satisfied with their patties. So Mr Krabs does what he does best- change the plot of the episode through sheer willpower.
Mr Krabs takes SpongeBob down to a science lab that he and Sandy have been working in, seemingly for a long time, without SpongeBob’s knowledge. Sandy’s been experimenting with chemicals to make a Krabby Patty that’s even more perfect than the original, to which SpongeBob refuses to accept or even taste. He’s partly sympathetic due to what he believes in, that being his job and output make people happier than scientific experiments ever could, and also because the “Perfect Patties” are just orange blobs. That doesn’t stop the Krustomers from literally eating them up, with the hipsters leaving positive reviews and most others plowing through them. Naturally, given the genre we’re dealing with, something’s about to go wrong.
That certainly happens when everyone in the restaurant except SpongeBob starts to get queazy, before mutating into giant Krabby Patty monstrosities. Through a combination of music, perspective, animation and sound effects (generally stock burps), it makes the gradual transformation of the Krusty Krab, from a place of business to a horror zone, truly terrifying. Many of the characters well-established by this point become these creepy burger zombies, like Sandy whose helmet barely contains her head(?), and Bubble Bass who criticises the ordeal as a promotional gimmick. Hey, that’s what I’d do if I saw these things coming out of the Nick Animation Studio. In all seriousness, I wasn’t that scared by these scenes, but I was invested in the horror, which is a more professional way of saying “I liked to be frightened, even though I’m jaded”.
Bikini Bottom doesn’t last one time card without descending into chaos, with only a few survivors- SpongeBob because of main character immunity, and Perch Perkins, to report to him another survivor, Plankton, who’s made a massive order of chum. SpongeBob comes to tell him about the outbreak, but the zombies get Plankton too and even Karen. You know it’s a powerful epidemic when even AI is affected. What’s next, the floors become zombies? (That’d actually be a ghastly concept, every single thing being a zombie, no matter if it’s living). Thankfully, that huge order of chum Plankton made comes in handy, as SpongeBob discovers it’s the cure for the Gummi Patty’s deadly side effects. At least his friends come back to their senses and much of the rest of Bikini Bottom is safe, except Patrick who went to eat his Gummi Patty again.
All in all, this is much better than SpongeBob’s previous attempt at a zombie story in Season 4, more threatening and way funnier with what they do. My favourite jokes have to be the ones where the episode takes a little break to introduce us to another character and how they deal with the outbreak. Namely, Bubble Bass criticising Mr Krabs’ getup, the kid who admits the zombies taste pretty good, and Plankton quickly being proven right about the outbreak. I’m also a really big fan of the Old Man Jenkins transformed into a burger, just scooting across the sidewalk. He’s not even that much of a monster, but he’s pushed aside by SpongeBob when he runs from the Krusty Krab to the Chum Bucket. There are other jokes I could bring up, but they’re not as good or pronounced.
With the animation, there’s a bit more of that morphing I was talking about in Fearl Friends, though everyone’s turning into basically the same thing- a mutant Krabby Patty creature. At least the burp sound effects help make them seem painful. My favourite one has to be when Mrs Puff shoves Plankton into her, then he comes out as a zombie. Being one of the few times he’s actually eaten a Krabby Patty, it’s a shock, but there’s something about the offscreen transformation being the most dramatic. I also think the title card’s pretty neat, with ketchup in place of blood again. Season 11 has a knack for that comparison, with the tribal facepaint in Cave Dwelling Sponge and the smooshed patty in Stuck on the Roof, and now this. It may be impossible to squeeze the blood out of a stone, but Krabby Patties are surprisingly delicate.
Character-wise, it’s all about seeing thise you love get turned into monsters, because really, SpongeBob’s a rather simple protagonist. He not like patty, he not eat patty, it’s that simple. It’s interesting that they chose Perch Perkins to be one of the last survivors, and him knowing Plankton’s one of the others seems to play into him being a source of information. As for Plankton, I can’t help but feel sorry for him when he transforms, and his computer wife malfunctions. As for Mr Krabs and Sandy, I have to admit them becoming antiheroes is a bit suspicious, but hey, that’s what you get with horror, and at least Mr Krabs apologises for his actions at the end. The rest are also pretty good, with Patrick not helping but wanting to turn back into a monster, if it means eating the Gummi Patty again, and the hipsters were a nice addition that kept the Krustomers from being the same sorts of fish this time around.
The more I think about this episode, the more I like it, but there has to be a sensible limit where I look at it rationally. I’m not that big a fan of these sorts of stories, but this SpongeBob twist on it was crazy and funny enough to stand on its own. I think it can get a tad too gross at points, because that belching can get on my nerves, but I still get what they were going for, and why people would view this episode as a masterpiece. I can agree on some level, the animation’s great and the jokes are funny when they pop up, it’s just not my immediate cup of tea compared to Planet of the Jellyfish. Speaking of Season 8 episodes, this also feels like The Krabby Patty That Ate Bikini Bottom, but way funnier. At the end of it all, I’m leaving a good review!
Final Verdict: Good 7/10 (solid but not top notch)
Lost in Bikini Bottom < Krabby Patty Creature Feature < The Getaway
Question of the Day: Which do you prefer, Krabby Patty Creature Feature or Planet of the Jellyfish?