Re-Evaluating my opinions on SpongeBob Season 1-8

EmployeeAMillion

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Squirrel Jelly (Season 11, Episode 26a)
Original Airdate: November 18 2018 (Episode 460)
Plot: Sandy gets far too competitive while jellyfishing with SpongeBob and Patrick
Written by Zeus Cervas and Kaz

This seems to be the new format for season finales on this show, one 16 minute episode followed by a 6 minute short. I can get down with this, as long as they’re good in some way, and last season’s certainly was. Feral Friends took full advantage of a concept that was too big for a standard 11 minute episode, but not quite worthy of being converted into a special, and there was also Don’t Wake Patrick thrown in to fill up time. I don’t know how they messed up this formula so quickly though, because this season’s take on it almost had things the wrong way around. I’m going to start with Squirrel Jelly, Sandy’s introduction to Jellyfish Fields, and what an introduction it was.

We open on Goo Lagoon, where most of the characters happen to be. SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy play some volleyball and partake in a hotdog eating contest, but Sandy’s impatient with how her friends take so much time just goofing around. They even just drivble the volleyball for ten minutes. This prompts her to be a more aggressive sportswoman, even when she’s playing against other people. She somehow manages to play 1 on 3 volleyball against Squidward, Mr Krabs and Larry, and wins. It’s a strong opening that displays her willingness to win, even if it’s against the wishes of her friends. Perhaps a little too strong.

SpongeBob and Patrick need a place to chill out again, but they have a pointless fight over whether it should be Jellyfish Fields. After that, the annoyance manages to continue as Sandy bothers them some more. She gets excited over the idea of jellyfishing being another sport, but they try and fail to convince her it’s just a leisurely activity. The reason it fails is because she can’t cool down, and it’s really ticking me off by this point. I keep remembering that she’s in Bikini Bottom in the first place to study the life around her, not to disturb it in the way she does. If you watched the episode, you’d know just how far out of character they push her.

As the day goes on, Sandy can’t help but catch more and more jellyfish before releasing them, becoming very dangerous by the time she’s stuffing them all into her suit. That seems to be her model of catching them throughout the next couple minutes, and the visual gags they make of it get tiresome, like they’re padding the conflict out. The only way I can still tell Sandy’s a sort of smart character around this point is when she upgrades to an astro suit, just to catch more jellyfish in a giant cage. What also really stings about this build-up of events is that SpongeBob and Patrick hate it, but don’t have the backbone to calm their friend down. You’d think they would tell her off at some point, but no that’d he logical.

The astro suit does wonders for Sandy’s hardcore take on jellyfishing, but the rocket boots set fire to Jellyfish Fields, setting it on fire, and getting SpongeBob and Patrick even more injured. Sandy’s game had gone way too far long before this point, so I find it hard to relate to her when she takes a second to realise she did a bad. Again, it’s not her job to clean and protect Bikini Bottom (yet), but this would get her in serious trouble with the chimps if we’re looking at the bigger picture. At least she realises this and goes home to meditate, but she can’t even do that without cockily claiming she’s the best at it.

The jellyfish turn against her, due to the family-friendly steroids she fed them, turning into a massive hive of jellyfish that wants to take her down, with SpongeBob and Patrick alerting her, even though she’s been a terrible friend to them all day. They get caught in the battle Sandy and the jellyfish have, where Sandy at first tries to be a pacifist, but then just dashes it all and blasts it from the inside with zen power. She doesn’t really learn anything, SpongeBob and Patrick were pretty much servants the whole way through, and Jellyfish Fields is restored back to normal for no reason. It’s a rather bad story overall that really, really didn’t require any more than 11 minutes to tell.

Another big crime with the episode is that the jokes aren’t fully realised. It’s mostly just skin-deep routines, like SpongeBob suggesting he and Patrick go jellyfishing, but Patrick also wants to go jellyfishing. Hur dur, it’s an illogical conversation. They also make some unflattering jokes out of Sandy, like her burping real hard in SpongeBob and Patrick’s faces, and releasing jellyfish from her suit’s butt, making it that much harder to put myself in her place. Something’s amiss when my favourite joke of the whole episode is the one it opens on, with SpongeBob and Patrick mindlessly dribbling their volleyball while Sandy grows impatient. It’s a good read of what both parties want to get out of sport, and it happens before the story kicks in, which is a plus.

It should be clear by now that I don’t like this episode, but the animation isn’t one of the bad things about it. Sure, there are things that could’ve been done more efficiently, like making the destruction of Jellyfish Fields more gradual, and not making Patrick’s head turn into a horse’s one at the end. That’s just disturbing after a whole episode about him being a horse where it wasn’t needed. On the flip side, I don’t mind the visual gag of the jellyfish tag teaming via a park bench, although when they feed on the Frankenstein food, then swarm together, that’s a little confusing. It would’ve made more sense without the Frankenstein food, as it would’ve vaguely taught Sandy that underwater nature isn’t a kind thing. Speaking of the climax, I also think Sandy’s zan garden looks alright, but it’s not dabbled in far enough to feel like an integral part to the story.

The characters are far too simple for this sort of story, and that’s the big problem with Sandy. It’s hard enough to like her after destroying Jellyfish Fields, but the story’s message of “don’t be a dick” isn’t quite the same as her “try to keep games fun for your friends” arc, so neither’s really completed. I’ve also already argued as to why SpongeBob and Patrick aren’t much better characters, because they don’t leave an impact on the story. Them leaving Sandy at some point would’ve added more depth to the lesson, and made them more empathetic. I get that they shouldn’t go over the edge in making SpongeBob in particular anime-level deep, but giving him wants and needs is enough to make him a legitimate character. There isn’t much to say about the other characters, they’re just there at the very start, except an injured Larry who rubs in how rough Sandy can be. Again, something I’m sure she’d be smart enough to figure out by herself.

In short, not a good start to the last episode of the season. They spiralled out of control and made Sandy a very unappealing character, and I can’t tell if they tried to keep her in-check. The whole meditation climax seems to be their way of fixing her back up, but it also feels subversive. It’s the reason I don’t like Squirrel Jelly, I can’t understand what they were doing with Sandy here. The episode isn’t totally without its draws, as there are a couple jokes buried throughout the muck, and the animation, though going towards such an awful story, is still good in places. My viewing recommendation is for those who loved Sandy in Pre-Hibernation Week, and were dying to see that side of her return. You’ll definitely be satisfied, but I’m not keen on seeing the return of the scum in a run-of-the-mill older episode.

Final Verdict: Bad 4/10 (not worth your time)
Out of the Picture < Squirrel Jelly < Sanctuary!

Question of the Day: What episode do you think screwed up Sandy’s character the most?

I don’t know if the short finale can truly pull it off.
:sandy::sandy::sandy:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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The String (Season 11, Episode 26b)
Original Airdate: November 18 2018 (Episode 461)
Plot: SpongeBob destroys the universe by pulling a loose thread from Squidward’s shirt
Written by Fred Osmond

When the synopsis came out for this episode, it seemed to be something more different, and more mundane. “SpongeBob pulls from Squidward’s shirt a loose string that never seems to end”. I and many others thought that meant the string would stay on Squidward’s shirt, until surprise of the century, it runs out and Squidward’s left naked. I would’ve been fine with either that or this to be fair, but this really pushed boundaries for what SpongeBob could be about. It’s a brilliant idea, but it’s executed in such an odd way that I don’t know how to feel about it. It’s the last episode of the season, so I should do my best to tie up this loose end.

It’s an ordinary day for SpongeBob at the Krusty Krab, flipping Krabby Patties, until he notices a loose thread on Squidward’s shirt, and obsesses over it. He doesn’t have enough vocabulary to say what he wants to do, out of a mix of either stupidity, or this being a short. Squidward lets him pull on the string anyway, before yelling at him of course, and SpongeBob pulls the thread as much as he can, until it completely unravels Squidward’s shirt. The string doesn’t end though, and he further unravels everyone else’s clothes. A bit of an immature start, but I understand the absurd concept well enough now, and understand that it’ll be used for comedic purposes.

Thehe next thing SpongeBob makes disappear is Mr Krabs’ money, because he erases the 0s on his 100M dollar bill, then messes with his chances of getting a new one, through further string chaos with another rich guy. This part I like, not so much when SpongeBob unravels Sandy’s tail, then her whole treedome. Let it be know this is the second season finale where she’s forced back up to the surface, after Stanley S. SquarePants. I don’t find it quite as funny as Mr Krabs’ troubles with the string, but this isn’t the only thing the string pulls away that makes me a little uneasy.

A running gag throughout the episode is Squidward getting more solid clothes, all of which disappear to the string, and that’s just funny in a general “Squidward gets the short end of the stick” way. Then Bubble Bass teases some sea monkeys at the zoo, before they get their revenge when SpongeBob unravels the bars, which is also fine. Then the ending just makes everything messed up. SpongeBob unravels all of Bikini Bottom, then a liva action (stop motion) fisherman in a boat, then the Bikini Bottom isle, then the galaxy and seemingly all of the universe. I’m happy that at least the music’s cheerful, because otherwise this could be a sequence in a horror-themed episode. Patrick was the only other thing to survive the end of the universe, but he unravels SpongeBob and uses him as dental floss, the end. In hindsight, this wasn’t the best ending to the last season finale that Stephen Hillenburg was alive for, but things are back to normal by FarmerBob, which aired before this.

Since this is most a gag plot, there’s no need to further explore the comedy, so I’ll go straight on to the animation. The string effects are good enough, through I have to wonder how it unravels larger stuff like buildings simply by absorbing them. It looks fine though, getting across that the string is powerful. On visual flair I didn’t like was the stop motion fisherman. The effect was fine with Nosferatu a couple episodes ago, due to that being how we’ve always percieved him, but a full colour live action translation of those techniques just looks choppy, like they didn’t have the budget to green screen a clip of him out. That’s my only real gripe with the art in this episode, the rest of it’s fine.

Much of the episode is spent on introducing a character, and then a problem that’s caused by something disappearing from them. It just isn’t able to stick since it’s implied they too turn into string by the climax. In the moment however, some characters and their problems are slightly entertaining, like with Mr Krabs and Squidward. SpongeBob himself is much too simplified here however. The only concrete thing about him is that he “likes string”, and he doesn’t interact with the universe himself. It isn’t any major loss however, as this episode seems to be a test of his curiosity. You’ve also got Patrick appearing at the very end, and I mean the very end, who just appears to be Patrick. Nothing more, but nothing less.

This was certainly a way to wrap up Season 11, but it comes with some odd choices that don’t work to make it more entertaining. I think the ending could’ve been something at least a tad less existential, because it doesn’t even make sense how the surface world interacts with the cartoon string. This is just me, an old man at the age of 17, bickering on about how SpongeBob doesn’t make any sense. I’ve sat through all 11 seasons that’ve been completed as of March 2019, and have had a lot to say about what I think of Bikini Bottom. Seeing it all vanish like this was certainly an experience, I’ll give it that.

Final Verdict: Average 5/10 (a mixed bag)
Food Con Castaways < The String < Don’t Feed The Clowns

Question of the Day: How would you write a season finale?

Join me soon as I finally look at the overall merits of one of the best modern SpongeBob seasons. But hey, that’s just a theory, a string theory!
:sbhide:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Season 11 Final Thoughts and Statistics

I’ve said this often, but I think SpongeBob Season 11 is much better than 10, despite them both sharing similar themes and trends. This is because there’s more to like about 11, being longer and filled with more jokes, and how it’s fully embraced the zany new atmosphere. It could be debated than 11 is even crazier than 10 most of the time, and I believe that for some of the more intentionally out-there episodes like There’s a Sponge in My Soup and The String. Especially with the former, SpongeBob’s remembered again that it’s an animated show, and has matured greatly in terms of artistic capability. Often there’ll just be a fancy sequence put in for the sake of it, like in Stuck On the Roof, but they’re still really fun to see when they come on. There are also certain characters that just don’t need to be called out anymore, I like all of them to varying degrees. There’ll be the occasional stumble, but I know I’ll enjoy their company again in the next episode. They’re just so funny and doing more interesting things.
But about those hiccups, and what Season 11 can get wrong overall. The stories typically aren’t all there. I’ve never expected SpongeBob to have Lord of the Rings-tier storytelling, but with the more wild and loose attitude of this new era, a lot of plots just aren’t super compelling. The jokes can mend the wound a little, and the characters can still be a joy, but it sometimes feels like the script writer’s just getting through it as fast as possible so everyone can get onto their favourite step, the storyboarding. Other times, it can feel like they’re copy-pasting the templates of older episode plots, which I’ll defend to the best of my abilities. Still, this is just the price to pay for changing things up, and the positive impact of this evolution, artistically outweighs the negative, sensically. Because of that, I’m so happy to finally say this, Season 11 is a GOOD Season. Quite impressive too, seeing how Nickelodeon’s only further crumbling around it.
2018 wasn’t a good year for the network, with only two “original” NickToons premiering. One being another Ninja Turtles reboot, the other being a spin-off to their sticom, Henry Danger. From what I’ve seen of it, it’s easily one of their blandest, laziest cartoons to date. Comparing it to Fanboy and ChumChum, the latter may be far more annoying, but at least it’s something. In terms of new shows, my eyes were just glued to Cartoon Network’s Unikitty! throughout the year, but there are more and more Netflix originals soaking up their popularity. Even SpongeBob’s ratings practically halved throughout its 11th season, and that’s because what we watch and where we watch it is evolving. As long as SpongeBob’s still delivering nautical nonsense however, I’m content with its choice to stay where it is.

It’s that time of the season again. The total ratings are 331/500 (6.62/10), or 347/520 (6.67/10) when the specials are extended. This makes it the highest-rating season since 3! It manages to beat out 4 by a small margin, but I’ll let time determine which one I come back to more.

The Spongy Scale reads as follows:
Bad: 5
Average: 16
Good: 24
Spongy: 5
The modal rating is Good. All I have to say is...good. Surprisingly, bad numbers have stayed the same since Season 10, which was much shorter.

The numbered ratings reveal a bit more.
3: 1
4: 4
5: 6
6: 10
7: 16
8: 8
9: 4
10: 1
The modal rating is very much 7. That’s good, but not great. Sure there have been greats in this season, and at least the weaker offerings don’t massively weigh things down, but that’s still 1/3 of the season being roughly the same “solid but not top notch” quality.


50 Ink Lemonade
49 Bunny Hunt
48 Squirrel Jelly
47 Man Ray Returns
46 Library Cards
45 No Pictures Please
44 Cuddle E. Hugs
43 Teacher’s Pests
42 Fun-Sized Friends
41 The String

40 Don’t Feed the Clowns
39 Larry the Floor Manager
38 Old Man Patrick
37 The Night Patty
36 Scavenger Pants
35 Bubbletown
34 Spin the Bottle
33 Krusty Kleaners
32 Plankton Paranoia
31 Stuck on the Roof

30 The Clam Whisperer
29 ChefBob
28 Moving Bubble Bass
27 Spot Returns
26 Goons on the Moon
25 Chatterbox Gary
24 Call the Cops
23 Cave Dwelling Sponge
22 Whale Watching
21 Surf ‘n Turf

20 Sanitation Insanity
19 The Grill Is Gone
18 My Leg!
17 Mustard O’Mine
16 Krabby Patty Creature Feature
15 Girls’ Night Out
14 Drive Happy
13 Pat the Horse
12 Grandmum’s the Word
11 Patnocchio

10 The Check-Up
9 Appointment TV
8 Doodle Dimension
7 Squid Noir
6 Bottle Burglars
5 High Sea Diving
4 There’s a Sponge in My Soup
3 The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom
2 Shopping List
1 Karen’s Virus

I won’t rank them compared to the other Post-Sequel seasons, but just remember I’ve been keeping track. After FarmerBob however, I’ll go start from scratch again for the “Post-Hillenburg” episodes. With Season 11 finally all finished, here’s where it stacks against the rest of the series.

  1. Season 2 (8/10)
  2. Season 3 (7.49/10)
  3. Season 1 (7.46/10)
  4. Season 11 (6.62/10)
  5. Season 4 (6.55/10)
  6. Season 9 (6.14/10)
  7. Season 10 (5.86/10)
  8. Season 5 (5.54/10)
  9. Season 8 (5.15/10)
  10. Season 6 (4.74/10)
  11. Season 7 (4.36/10)
Right below Season 1 is not a bad place to be at all, but it’s a fair way off from being as consistently great as the Pre-Movie era. Without Hillenburg however, I just can’t see it returning to those levels.

Well, there’s one more episode he was around to see air, so join me next week for a season that’s almost alien in territory for me. Until then, farewell Season 11, you were good.
:sbbye:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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FarmerBob (Season 12, Episode 1a)
Original Airdate: November 18 2018
Episode 462 in standard order, Episode 458 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob has to pay off the Krusty Krab’s vegetable bill by working at a farm
Written by Luke Brookshier

After this episode, I finally enter the current year again, the start of the Post-Hillenburg era. We still had one last episode from the prior Silver Age of SpongeBob, the Season 12 premiere. Like Fear of a Krabby Patty, knowing how history’s unfolded makes it easy to determine FarmerBob as a transitional episode. Then again, we’ve only had three episodes since this one, so who knows how similar Season 12 will be to 11. One thing’s for certain, this got 12 off to a quaint start. It’s nothing exceptionally good, but it gets the job done of giving you a laugh and a half, and I got a fair amount of laughs with this premiere.

The story opens up with Mr Krabs taking SpongeBob to the farm of Old Man Jenkins, so he can work there for the day, and pay off Krabs’ bill to the farm. It’s told gradually through visuals and character interactions, feeling expository, but organic. This is the same Old Man Jenkins from High Sea Diving, so it’s more clear this is the one they’re going to use from here on out. Jenkins takes a while to trust SpongeBob, and Patrick who turns up in a bag of potatoes, but accepts them when they reveal they’re certified fools. They pull out badges with they’re styling photos from Mid-Life Crustacean as proof, so I also know they’re “Not Lame”.

SpongeBob and Patrick’s first job is to get the clams to hatch eggs. I told you they were versatile creatures, now they’re chickens. Anyway, they don’t do a good job, since the clams wanted to be jerks to them, but Patrick at least tried with his crowbar. At least it wasn’t the shuckling knife. I found this scene to be passable, since they weren’t complete failures. SpongeBob swallowed a couple of the eggs, after all. The next thing they fowl up is milking the jelly from a jellyfish cow. Again, the whole scene’s rather lukewarm. I get the joke, in that its udders are hard for SpongeBob to use, sonce they squeeze all over the place, but it isn’t hilarious or anything.

Up next is feeding the pigs, which unfortunately borrow design elements from the Pet or Pests worms. They trigger bad memories for me, but where credit is due, this design works far better with pigs. After SpongeBob gets eaten, he’s put im danger again with the tractor, which he and Patrick ride to cube up some barley. Unfortunately, a bee distracts them and SpongeBob gets caught in the compactor, morphing into a different kind of cube. It’s one of the more interesting sequences in this episode, but it isn’t the funniest. That’d be the barn-raising. The tractor destroys the barn, so SpongeBob and Patrick have to raise a new one like a child, eventually celebrating its “Barn Mitsvah”. Even the basic description is funny, but the presentation nails it.

After all the trails the farmers face, Old Man Jenkins allows SpongeBob and Patrick to throw a party, which is limited by the lack of guests. That is until aliens come down, noticing the crop circles Patrick left as an invitation for them. They really didn’t know how to end the episode, did they? Aliens, crop circles and farms aren’t that many degrees of separation, but there was no hint at this change in theme before then. Even after these aliens head back off to destroy the universe, they later abduct SpongeBob, Patrick and Mr Krabs as he’s taking them home, seemingly just to prove to the latter that they exist. It’s odd, but it doesn’t ruin what’s already there, which is fine all things considered.

Despite this episode being one of the siller, less restrained ones, there are only a couple jokes I really liked. I wasn’t kidding when I said it just gave me a laugh and a half. The barn-raising is something I couldn’t get enough of, even on my re-watches, and the end where they throw it a Barn Mitsvah is perfect. It’s the first time the show’s explicitly referenced Judaism, and having an inanimate object be Jewish was just weird enough to work. Another thing that tickled my funn6 bone was Patrick’s various licenses, including his marriage and crop circle licenses that we never knew he had. Also, I guess he either got a new drivers license, or had his old photo retaken. I mean the first photo was taken in the mid 2000s, a lot has changed since then.

The show’s art style hasn’t changed a bit since Season 11, which I suppose is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The farm land that Old Man Jenkins cares for is filled with things for the characters to do, and every scene is shot well, and gives the farm an extra flavour. What they really wanted to be the highlight however, is the tractor sequence, and it works well enough as an action sequence. I never thought I’d see a jellyfish bee, but that’s the only thing that truly surprised me about the sequence. As for the design of the aliens, they couldn’t be less inspired. They’re just grey martians, wearing rural clothing.

Again, as far as getting the old gangs together for another season goes, this is an okay reintroduction. SpongeBob’s always happy to work, even when it’s hard for him, and Patrick gets the wrong idea about everything, but succeeds in his own way. Those licenses have to imply that he’s an idiot savant in some way. Old Man Jenkins is living on a farm again, and he does a good enough job of of being simultaneously cranky and supportive of his new workers. Mr Krabs’ excuse for dumping SpongeBob off at the start is also just okay, as his him taking them home and trying to cool the boyo down after the alien encounter, though his lines feel awkward in those last couple seconds. The aliens themselves are an excuse to make more redneck characters, which is alright for the party, but that’s about it. They didn’t do much for me by themselves.

As far as season premieres go, there have certainly been weaker ones. FarmerBob’s story is competently told for the most part, and its animation stylings are all too familiar. However, aside from a couple notable scenes, I don’t see myself returning to this one. Maybe it’s because I’m not very interested in farm settings, especially when they’re vaguely changed to fit a different look like SpongeBob’s. Maybe if you’ve been following the show for years, desperately wondering when they were going to get to the time-tested “farm episode”, this’ll be your lucky day, nix the aliens. In that case, happy Barn Mitsvah!

Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
Sportz? < FarmerBob < Snail Mail

Question of the Day: Where do you think Season 12 will go? Can you imagine what it’ll be remembered for?

I’ll have to go out of order again next, due to how many episodes are left to cover. I know, it feels pretty dumb. Until then, all this Trench Billies music works so much better under different circumstances.
:krabseyes:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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The Nitwitting (Season 12, Episode 2a)
Original Airdate: January 13 2019*
Episode 464 in standard order, Episode 463 in airing order
*copyrighted 2018
Plot: Patrick invites SpongeBob into a club for stupid people. Stupidity ensues.
Written by Kaz

I might have more hope for SpongeBob’s output this year, namely the 20th anniversary special and potential spin-off, if it started on the right foot. Instead, it kicked off with another one of those Post-Sequel episodes, like Salsa Imbecilicus or Ink Lemonade. The kind that makes you feel dumber just by thinking about. Moreso than both of those examples, The Nitwitting relishes in stupidity. Almost every joke and story beat solely exists for a cheap burst of random access laughter. I can’t be too sure if this is worse than Ink Lemonade, or one of the worst episodes of the whole series, but it really annoyed me. Naturally, that means I have a lot to say about it.

They begin with SpongeBob and Patrick racing a trolley through the Barg-‘N-Mart, making a scene, so Patrick can direct SpongeBob to his secret club. This club is exclusive to dumb people, as it turns out, as SpongeBob riding through the store blindfolded sets up. And yes, this means another labotomy of Patrick’s character, as he pulls a rope out from his eye to open the box that the club dwells in. They didn’t even need to show the Barg-‘N-Mart, that was a waste of time, which might be what they were going for given the direction this episode goes in. Under a certain box is the “Empty Headed Society”, where Patrick initiates SpongeBob, the first step being to check out their brains at the front desk. If I had to give this story some credit, it’d be that this foreshadowing of later events is present and coherent.

Too bad coherency is abandoned for the next couple minutes, as the characters rattle through some unintelligent activities. This includes the returning Ice Cream King from Patrick’s Coupon. I may not like him, but he fits the atmosphere of this episode, for better or worse. SpongeBob seems to be getting through his inaugration pretty smoothly, hitting himself by stepping on a loose plank of wood, and drinking a jar of the society’s saliva. This is the sort of idea that makes an episode unforgivably bad, and to add insult to injury, he didn’t even need to drink it, since the spit is collected and preserved. That’s disgusting in its own way too, since all the old jars are green. Who did they think this episode would be funny to?

After the inaguration, the EHS heads outside to commit some civic duties, in what is known as “the nitwitting”. That’d seem to be fine if they’re going to make them look like better people, but no. They just cause havoc in the streets, Patrick in particular having no second thoughts breaking parking metres and replacing them with bowls of soup. SpongeBob wonders if these are all good things to do, but since he thought, even though he checked out his brain, the Ice Cream King lets him go from the club. This manages to be a little too early however, as SpongeBob’s brain stem soon completely fries and he morphs into a doofus for a while. At this point, the story itself falls apart. Thank goodness, since it’s unsalvageable, but not many people would be able to pull the ending around, and surprisingly, Kaz at least attempts to.

StupidBob eventually gets lost in an alleyway, but Patrick comes around to help him out. This could’ve proven a more solid point about how friendship’s more important than going along with the group, but at least there’s a brief, basic redemption for Patrick, when he gets SpongeBob’s brain back in him, and gets him to say “I’m ready”. I guess him saying that is all the proof you need that SpongeBob’s back to normal again. With his common sense restored, he then meets up with Sandy, who’s a part of FEMA, a real group with a different set of initials, who clean up the EHS’s mess all the time. Why did neither of SpongeBob’s friends ever inform him that they were part of an intercity war? I don’t know, this story just begs for you to get dumber thinking about it.

Here are the jokes I like:
  • A man putting a coin in the bowl of soup, not seeming to care that it’s not a parking metre.
  • Patrick crawling into the chair in the alleyway, literally sitting in the chair.
The rest of the jokes are just terrible. It’s too dumb to even pick apart, because I know that if I do, that’d just be getting the wrong idea. It was all meant to be mindless drivel, spewed onto the screen. The only other thing I could care about is the “Nitwitting Song” that Patrick and the rest of the fools sing, but it’s so annoying that I can’t even hear the lyrics. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t meant to be lyrics.

In terms of animation, I should give it points for creativity, given just how far out-there it is compared to even the likes of Whirly Brains. All the simpletons look very airheaded, which compliments their chaotic neutral actions, and the spinning fezes are a nice touch to help identify them. Another thing, although I despise the jar scene, it’s got good, dramatic lighting and shading, even though what they’re using it on should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. As for things I can’t even try to like, StupidBob’s face is really scary. Overall, I don’t like when artists have to differentiate characters when they’re acting dumb, but distorting SpongeBob’s eyes and smile isn’t going to be a pretty sight, especially for a whole scene.

I find it very hard to sympathise with the characters in a story that’s so aimless. SpongeBob’s alright to watch when he’s normal, but it stinks seeing him get in trouble with EHS for having common sense, and having his mind randomly get reworked. Patrick’s much harder to enjoy for the most part, to the point where you have to wonder why him and SpongeBob are still friends. Not because he’s a jerk, but because he’s a public menace, alongside the Ice Cream King. I felt him helping SpongeBob was touching, but it didn’t stop Patrick from partaking in further nitwittings. As for more minor characters, the Ice Cream King’s just as much of a shallow Patrick clone as in his debut episode, and I guess Sandy’s alright. Truth be told, I thought her being part of “FEMA” was a heavy-handed feminist joke before I realised FEMA was an actual thing.

I wasn’t kidding two months ago, when I said Ink Lemonade had a new friend, because these two episodes feel like a red flag to another very steep decline for SpongeBob. If such a decline occurs over the next couple years, it’ll be impossible for the show to recover without Stephen Hillenburg with us, and the possibility of the old crew members retiring. I really hope I’m not knocking the new writers and animators by saying that, as they’re still doing their jobs, but if they want to keep the show at least stagnant into the 20s, they shouldn’t make episodes like this. I know due to the time it takes to make the show, Steve approved of this episode in some way, but for future reference, there need to be episodes that honour his characters and world, and appeal to everyone, just like those made in his lifetime. This does neither, and Steve or no Steve, it’s a bad SpongeBob episode.

Final Verdict: Bad 3/10 (barely anything has merit to it)
The Nitwitting < FarmerBob

Question of the Day: Do you hope Season 12 is the last? (There were hints at a S13, but Nick hasn’t officially confirmed anything)

Hopefully this one episode doesn’t muck up the whole season. Until then, even the song is one of the show’s worst.
:patgross
 

EmployeeAMillion

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The Ballad of Filthy Muck (Season 12, Episode 2b)
Original Airdate: January 20 2019*
Episode 465 in standard order, Episode 464 in airing order
*copyrighted 2018
Plot: Patrick spends so much time in garbage, that SpongeBob ends up meeting “Filthy Muck”
Written by Kaz

You know me, I’m not a big fan of gross-out stories. They drag, and they stink, so it also wasn’t a good sign when one of Season 12’s first episodes was going to be about Patrick rolling in trash. I generally dislike it when characters are so gross that they have no problem with that, but without offering too many spoilers for what’s ahead, this episode isn’t all about that. It’s also about the buzz surrounding monstrous urban legends, like Bigfoot and Slenderman. That has a lot more potential for a fun SpongeBob adventure, and they took advantage of some aspects of myth-hood in ways stuff like The Thing couldn’t. Already I’m setting this up to be a mixed bag, so get the rubbish and recycling bins out, we’ve got some sorting to do.

Patrick wakes up one morning incredibly stinky. That’s the basic template I assume they used for the introduction, and it’s very weak and predictable. Patrick’s odour disgusts a lady on the street, and then the patrons of the Krusty Krab when he enters, with only SpongeBob being able to stand the smell, being impressed by it. The one thing I was interested in was how the stench melted Patrick’s rock, as well as the Krusty Krab’s sign, it was just that powerful. That has potential to take the smell and make it more of a physical threat to the world that Patrick needs to control, but it’s soon dropped, in a change that actually feels smarter when I think about it.

The stinky starfish is kicked out of the Krusty Krab by Mr Krabs until he can “clean up his act”. In retaliation, he wades through as many smelly locations as possible, ending with the dump on a cold night. The following morning, Filthy Muck emerges, and just walks around in Bikini Bottom it seems. He doesn’t really talk at this point, so you can’t tell what’s going on in his head, but SpongeBob sees him in the newspaper and recognises the Patrick in him. Being the good friend that he is, he goes to Filthy Muck and tries to talk it out with him, but ends up becoming just as enthrawled in the smells of the dump as Patrick was. Just one penetration of Filthy Muck’s forcefield, and he’s willing to reek havoc in town, for better or worse.

So Filthy Muck and SpongeBob (Little Stink) send so much time scaring the Bikini Bottomites that a song’s soon made out of them, a ballad if you will. It’s a catchy little ditty, especially compared to the last song the show produced, and I can actually hear the funny lyrics. The only person in Bikini Bottom that can put up with their smell is Old Man Jenkins, but only because he can’t smell them. However, he does do his part by trying to heckle them away, not that SpongeBob minds. My favourite is when they make it to the old outdoor auditorium, and they start playing the instruments, to which Old Man Jenkins says “I can’t smell, but you stink”.

Later that night, an angry mob comes to get Filthy Muck and Little Stink at the dump, but SpongeBob cleans himself up, then tries to convince them not to hurt his friend. They come to the agreement of cleaning him up, as long as they’re allowed to do it extra hard, but they scrub so hard that there’s nothing left. SpongeBob thinks they killed his friend, but Patrick appears, having finished his day-long bath. Silly SpongeBob thought Filthy Muck was Patrick the whole time, but there were some obvious clues, like Filthy Muck’s stench not being as destructive as Patrick’s, him not being able to talk, and already being a myth with a name in Bikini Bottom. The only plothole this leaves is why Patrick spent a while prancing in filth, when his reason for cleaning up was to get back to the Krusty Krab, before all that, but I guess he just wanted some more time to be stinky, or he simply changed his mind.

This was another pretty weird story, but the comedy was oddly normal. There are certainly more jokes that I genuinely liked, such as SpongeBob admiring Patrick’s scent, calling it impressive, and a couple noticing that Bikini Bottom’s pet-friendly after SpongeBob starts walking his nose...leading the boyfriend to put on a leash and the girlfriend to walk him. Of course there’s also the Old Man Jenkins stuff I’ve already covered. Although I don’t think highly of this overall package for a couple reasons I’ll explain below, there weren’t many bad jokes. Old Man Jenkins pointing out Patrick’s buttcheeks at the end was immature and predictable. Although, the worst is the general gross-out, and what they choose to signify gross odours, like garbage disposals and used gym clothes.

That’s the problem I come to with the animation, it’s just gross and not much else. The really disgusting moments like backstroking in green gunk isn’t as repuslive as the show’s known for, but it’s still not pretty to see a whole episode revolving around that sort of thing. However, on the positive side of things, Patrick’s rock and the Krusty Krab’s sign melting are okay enough ways of showing how destructive his smell is, and offer neat visuals to boot. Moreover, the design of Filthy Muck can do a good job of fooling you into thinking it’s Patrick, even without the way the story misleads you. Me, I was never fooled, due to knowing the several ways the show operates, but it’s a neat little trick for the youngsters.

The characterization here is pretty off from what I’m used to, but not in entirely bad ways. Patrick actually does something right by cleaning himself off, after realising he’d no longer be welcome to the Krusty Krab. Old Man Jenkins is also a bit more enjoyable here than he was in FarmerBob, since he serves more of a purpose and has more to complain about. If he becomes a permanent fixture in the show like Bubble Bass, I wouldn’t mind at all. As for SpongeBob, he stinks, both figuratively and literally. I get that he wants to become an outcast like he thinks his best friend is, but similarly to the ending of A Life in A Day, they make it so he neglects basic safety and common sense to do so. Since Filthy Muck’s his own character, I guess I should bring him up too. He’s fine, seeming to be a dopey old monster that doesn’t mean any harm. Rube from No Pictures Please also returns to take some pictures of Filthy Muck, so maybe they’re connected through the Tidal Zone? Or they just felt like using Rube again. Good for him, and them.

And with a pinch of magic, I can say The Ballad of Filthy Muck doesn’t stink that bad. Watching it immediately after The Nitwitting, that may be danging it with faint praise, but still, I found plenty of jokes to laugh at here, and the story was consistent. It’s a shame that this is just the sort of episode I’m systematically aversive towards, given that you can only be entertained by junk, trash, and filth etc for so long. They managed to toss in some memorable moments however, so the episode’s comparable to mashed potato mixed with beets. If you don’t like mashed potato, but like beets, it’d still be nice to the chef to pick them out and eat them.

Final Verdict: Average 6/10 (flawed but not bad)
The Nitwitting < The Ballad of Filthy Muck < FarmerBob

Question of the Day: What’s your least favourite story type SpongeBob utilises?

After tomorrow’s episode, I may be going away for a loooong time. Until then, play me out, string slickers.
:dyah:
 

EmployeeAMillion

Levio-sorry
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The Krusty Slammer (Season 12, Episode 3a)
Original Airdate: January 27 2019*
Episode 466 in standard order, Episode 465 in airing order
Plot: Mr Krabs turns the Krusty Krab into a prison so he can watch over Plankton
Written by Andrew Goodman

Sadly, this is the last episode of SpongeBob to air as of March 11th 2019. I’ve travelled back through this show, always hoping for more, but now it has to come to a temporary end, and at such an average episode. This is frankly the best place to call it a rest for a while, nothing too good, nothing too bad, or at least that’s what I thought of it when I first watched it barely 2 months ago. Of course with such a small time gap, my opinion hasn’t changed significantly, but I’ve gone ahead, and understood why this episode made me feel a certain way, for the 465th, and what’ll be the final time for a long while. Is The Krusty Slammer like a faulty electric chair, giving out pain at sporadic points, or is it as interesting as solitary confinement?

The story opens with Plankton spray-painting caricatures of Mr Krabs on buildings across town, with the idea that people will blame Krabs for it. They do, until Krabs calls up the Scottish police officer to take him away. Unfortunatley, the prison doesn’t have enough room for even Plankton’s speck of a figure. Didn’t they have a special cell just for him? And how has Bikini Bottom’s crime rate skyrocketed so high? That isn’t important, since the officer points out how much money one can make by starting their own correction’s facility, and Mr Krabs’ eyes beam up, with coins that literally spell out “I like money”. Naturally, this means the Krusty Krab gradually turns into the Krusty Slammer. It’s how the change is handled from start to relapse that’s important for the story, and there are definitely possibilities with making your own jail.

Things than resume normally, just with Mr Krabs keeping Plankton locked up, while finding ways to abuse him. It doesn’t get to outright torture, but some of the punishments are a little questionable, like making him the ball on a paddle ball, and locking him inside SpongeBob as solitary confinement. Krabs is just rolling in money, but the officer comes back to give him even more, if he’s willing to allow more prisoners to do their time at the restaurant, to which he gladly agrees. I understand this, since the officer’s just doing her job making the jailbirds comfortable, and Krabs’ mind is clouded by money, but they’re really stretching realism now. It starts to feel like a jail story that’s oddly farcical, and I don’t know how to feel about that.

SpongeBob renovates the Krusty Slammer to accomodate for all the cameos, and trust me, there’s a lot. At first, Mr Krabs is perfectly alright with accepting and marketing this, but then he changes his mind when Plankton’s own time in the clink is up. Plankton tells him that he has to pay the price for all the nice things SpongeBob’s doing for the prisoners, and he goes into full Born Again Krabs gear, taking everything they’ve gotten away and having the stability collapse. Taking away their right to watch TV and have Krabby Patties is fine, but I can’t sympathise with this outburst when he goes the extra step, kicking them out. That just makes his blinding greed all the more noticeable, and that sort of thing can go a long way in making the character unlikeable.

Later that night, the jailbirds sneak into SpongeBob’s house, since they’ve grown to love him and the generosity he had. He takes them back to the Krusty Slammer, and Mr Krabs gets arrested the next morning for letting them out. The officer takes him to another available corrections facility, the Chum Bucket, where Plankton gets to abuse him for his whole sentance. In terms of a SpongeBob story, which it barely is, this is alright. He does the right thing, and that causes problems for the villains. However, this is pretty bad if you’re looking at it as a Krabs/Plankton story, since Krabs is the main villain, and Plankton succeeds. It’s hard to say if he’d successfully nab the Krabby Patty secret formula in this micro-timeline, but it seems plausible.

The first thing I’m going to get out of the way comedy-wise is the red-handed joke. Plankton was caught with red hands, since he was using red paint. This is flat-out a Simpsons joke, from Season 1, but at least they added their own thing by having him think he should’ve gotten green. The rest of the jokes aren’t very notable, they’re generally lukewarm. I like Plankton going insane in solitary confinement, and being used as a paddle ball, but they don’t knock it out of the park, if you know what I mean. As for a joke I didn’t like, Mr Krabs taking a prisoner’s TV, then the prisoner crying like a baby. I didn’t find that funny, it was just sort of sad.

There are a couple stand-out elements of the animation that I’d like to address, namely how the Krusty Krab looks after the cells are installed. It’s got a dimmer, gloomier atmosphere, but the fun that remains comes from seeing the characters try to be happy about it. As for the character designs of the jailbirds, they pull from any episode they can. You’ve got the Tattletale Strangler, the gang from Jailbreak!, and Sticky Fins and Dorsal Dan from The Getaway all make cameos at different points. It’s weird that a show like SpongeBob has so many established criminal characters, but it makes for a livelier world that contrasts well with the Slammer.

I already went over this towards the end of the plot recap, but the characters who got less focus are the ones I ended up liking more. SpongeBob’s got a B plot at most, taking care of the jailbirds, but he’s pretty much an all-purpose servant to Mr Krabs before they latch onto him. The Scottish police officer is either incredibly stupid for letting the Krusty Krab and Chum Bucket house prisoners, or she was playing Mr Krabs and Plankton like fiddles. I like to believe the latter, since she’d have had to deal with their crap loads of times by now. I can relate. Krabs and Plankton aren’t very likeable here, as their “business frenemy” dynamic has reverted back to how it was in episodes like One Coarse Meal, where the one in charge inflicts pain onto the more defenseless one.

If they were made more sympathetic, I’d like the episode more, but alas, it’s like if a tumour had a plain of nice-looking skin. It’s in total not appealing, but there’s some good to it. The main plot just isn’t there, feeling poorly planned and paced, and I think there was more potential with either SpongeBob or the Scottish policewoman. That way, the jokes wouldn’t be average, and we could get more interesting character stuff, with SpongeBob and the jailbirds, or just the policewoman on her own. After reviewing every single episode of SpongeBob over the past two and a half years, I didn’t ever think about the quality of the last episode in this first run. It’s a bit anti-climactic that it’s mediocre, but hey, it’s a part of SpongeBob through and through.

Final Verdict: Average 5/10 (a mixed bag)
The Nitwitting < The Krusty Slammer < The Ballad of Filthy Muck

Question of the Day: Have you enjoyed this series of reviews? What were your biggest agreements or disagreements?

What does the future hold for SpongeBob? Quite a lot. What will my next episode be? I can’t say, since the Nickelodeon schedule’s a piece of work. When will you see this thread updated again? I don’t know. I’m just super happy that I’ve finally watched and ranked every episode prior to the 20th anniversary. Until next time, are ya ready kids?
:whoo:
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Don’t forget guys, I’m a YouTuber now! If you want to see an updated review of Fear of a Krabby Patty, here you go. I do reviews of other shows now, but between this and SpongeComs (commentary tracks I’m making for every episode), I haven’t forgotten where I started.
 
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