Re-Evaluating my opinions on SpongeBob Season 1-8

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Pineapple RV (Season 12, Episode 3b)
Original Airdate: July 17 2020* (produced in 2018, released early digitally on July 14 2020)
Episode 467 in standard order, Episode 497 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick take Squidward on a trip to see a musical waterlily
Written by Luke Brookshier

On the other face of the coin, it’s not a pretty sight to see that SpongeBob’s still around producing episodes where Squidward’s life sucks, and SpongeBob and Patrick’s only role is to make it worse. Fans got tired of these plots around Season 4, and eight seasons on, they haven’t changed a whole lot. They’re easy means of putting Squidward through the gauntlet, and making SpongeBob and Patrick look more foolish than they need to. At least the core structure of Squid Abuse episodes can be garnished with clever comedy and memorable setpieces, and this is one where I really want to like the setpiece they chose. So...could this be fine?

Squidward’s preparing to go on vacation with his new RV, up a mountain called Porpoise Peak, to see the Warbling Waterlily, a flower that blooms once every 500 years. He exposits this all to SpongeBob and Patrick when they ask if they can join him on his trip. He doesn’t let them. They ask some more. Get ready for portrayals of them that are very attention hungry. They mean well and all, and even pack some stuff for Squidward, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being annoying here, nor does it excuse their rudeness, or in Patrick’s case, accidentally undocking the RV and letting it get wrecked.

As a compromise, SpongeBob and Patrick then remove Squidward from his house while he’s sleeping, and introduce him to SpongeBob’s makeshift Pineapple RV. It’s the pineapple house on wheels, and I wish they made more jokes about this, but this is just a small portion of the story. A means to an end. Gary as a trucker is cool to see though, but Patrick really wanting to eat Squidward’s half-swallowed pancakes isn’t. And neither is the scene where the RV speeds up a really dangerous mountain with a couple recent fatalities to its name. Don’t ask me why there aren’t any rails to prevent future accidents, or why it hasn’t been blocked off in the first place after several car crashes, they wanted to make a dark joke, and by gum they did it.

They survive the trip of Porpoise Peak though, and things seem to be going well for Squidward. He’s the first in line to experience the oddly unguarded Warbling Waterlily, but Patrick yanks it out of the ground and gives it to him, where it blooms for a bit then withers up. The crowd blames Squidward for no reason and beat him up for his crime of holding the flower that Patrick hurt, but the episode isn’t done yet. It didn’t make that many jokes about the eponymous pineapple RV yet, so its solution is to forget the story and briefly become a different episode. I can’t say that’s a bad Plan B.

Squidward takes the RV and leaves SpongeBob and Patrick for dead while they’re taking a leak (did SpongeBob forget his house has a bathroom? That’s something you shouldn’t forget about your house), but Squidward feels guilty and goes back, soon discovering the two have been taken by sea bears. It turns out they’re all having a tickle fight, because sea bears love that, but they beat up Squidward, because he karate chopped one on the backside, and sea bears hate that. I forgot this scene was here until I rewatched the episode. It adds nothing and is probably just filler. Filler in a Post-Sequel episode!

After getting his RV destroyed, kidnapped, tossed around and beaten up for most of the runtime, Squidward is allowed to return home to Conch Street, and there’s some silver lining for him, but not for me as the viewer. SpongeBob’s kept the (smuggled) Warbling Waterlily safe, and it blooms again for Squidward. He and the plant play clarinet, which annoys SpongeBob and Patrick so they leave the scene. End episode. That was annoying. Squidward gets some fun with the waterlily and SpongeBob and Patrick recieve some level of just desserts, but the last thing I needed was more sensory overload for those last couple seconds.

The story might be one of the most hateable of the past few years, but there are some decent little jokes throughout the episode. I like the idea of Old Man Walker replacing Squidward as the Krusty Krab’s cashier, and Gary’s got a real winning streak now, having his cute moment to shine as autosnail of the RV. Both of those, and Patrick wrapping himself up in toilet paper, really getting the hang of it, are the parts of the episode I laughed at, the rest were painful. If you only care about the small jokes in the new seasons, not the stories or the big jokes from the stories, you may not be too bothered by Pineapple RV, I’ll say that much.

The animation here is fine enough, it’s all smooth, well-timed, and still way more interesting than Season 6, 7, 8 and 9a episodes of this nature. There are points I’m happy they didn’t just rely on being gross, like the half-swallowed pancakes only having saliva on them, and points I think they were a tad too violent, like when Squidward gets beat up by the sea bears. Still what they needed to convey, like the creepy atmosphere in Squidward’s nightmare, Gary getting tired from driving, and the Warbling Waterlily withering, they did so with good effect. It never feels like they’re putting no effort into it anymore.

The script on the other hand...this is a pretty typical portrayal of Squidward at least. He has a lapse of judgement when he abandons his neighbours at Porpoise Peak, but it’s only because his day’s going terribly, and he needs to act out somehow. SpongeBob and Patrick always mean well at least, but they are so annoying here. It’s not Ink Lemonade where they’re yelling everything, but someone was feeling nostalgic for the likes of Good Neighbors and Pineapple Fever. SpongeBob even dons those “Springer Cheeks” for a moment for the first time in a while. But the Bikini Bottomites were total Piantas towards Squidward, and the Sea Bears only feel like they’re here, again, for the purpose of reliving former glories.

In conclusion, this one kind of bites. More than the typical Annoy Squidward Day traditions this episode honours, what bothers me the most about it is these stories have so little impact now. Even if these was your favourite kind of SpongeBob plot, I’m certain there’s more than enough across the show’s whole run to keep you satiated for the rest of your life. As a longtime SpongeBob reviewer, I’m more than tired of explaining why these stories have been run into the ground, and I’ve still got the likes of Squid’s On a Bus, Insecurity Guards and Jolly Lodgers to get though. They might be better or worse than this, but their stories aren’t worth a karate chop to me anymore.

Final Verdict: 4/10 (Weak)
The Nitwitting < Pineapple RV < The Krusty Slammer

At least the next episode has more of a leg to stand on, creatively. Goodbye for now.
 

Pugs4Thugs

Gary the Snail Supremacist
Joined
Apr 23, 2016
Messages
798
Location
Far Away
I haven't seen this episode yet, but based on the review I guess I'll slightly lower my expectations. Not to where I think it'll be a bad episode or anything, I still want to be fair to it. And based on the hint, I'm assuming My Leg? I don't remember any sort of production or airing order haha, so I could be wrong.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Gary’s Got Legs (Season 12, Episode 4a)
Original Airdate: July 27 2019
Episode 468 in standard order, Episode 473 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob gives Gary a set of his own limbs, and he slowly becomes top cat of the house
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

Didn’t Gary have legs in Your Shoe’s Untied? Ah well, it doesn’t matter. If this episode wants to be in its own vaccuum, so be it, but that won’t stop it from reminding me of others. But at least the idea of giving Gary more human features hasn’t been done often. We saw last season what happened when they gave him a voice, and that turned out pretty well, and this time it’s limbs. When I first saw this one last year, I liked the idea, but didn’t think the execution was funny enough. Maybe I just missed the jokes, because they go to a well SpongeBob doesn’t tend to fish from that often. A deep, dark well.

The story gets underway with SpongeBob getting Gary out of the house. His first method is to take him for a jog, but he can’t keep up. Putting Gary on treads only makes him dangerous and hard to control, so his next method is just putting the snail in his own shoes. After some jokes about SpongeBob making new legs, for a table, he surgically removes a pair of legs from himself and places them onto Gary. So far, so good. It already looks to be a story about wants versus needs, and the joke structure has a good rhythm to it. This episode hit the ground running, but I don’t think it kept up the pace.

SpongeBob then gets Gary to do some exercises to see how the new legs feel, which only serves to over-excite his gare bear. So when they go to the park, Gary goes around kicking everyone until only he and SpongeBob remain there. For whatever reason, SpongeBob doesn’t take much issue with this after Gary gives him some licks, but figures taking him home is about the right thing to do. Gary tires him out on the run back though, so he doesn’t have the strength to open the door. There’s only one logical solution to this problem, give Gary a pair of arms. I don’t know why SpongeBob would do this after what happened at the park, but the plot demands it, and at least whatever dangerous things Gary can do with arms, they won’t be the kind to push the TV-Y7 rating.

Compared to the legs, it takes a little less time for Gary to adapt to having arms, and he soon starts doing everything for SpongeBob. Answering the door, taking him up and down the stairs, feeding him, all until the owner becomes the pet, and the student completely surpasses the master. It gets to the point that SpongeBob’s own limbs shrivel up from lack of use, and Gary has to become the breadwinner, going to the Krusty Krab in the sponge’s absence. Only problem, the patties end up being slimy. The customers begin to complain, and Mr Krabs finds a familiar sight, someone other than SpongeBob manning his kitchen grill. This is all weird, but still interesting to follow, I hope it doesn’t try to freak me out from nowhere.

When Krabs gets to the pineapple house to see what’s going on this time, he finds SpongeBob has completely devolved into a slug-like creature. He tells SpongeBob to get a hold of himself, and he returns to normal spontaneously. After this, Krabs chops Gary’s limbs off, and SpongeBob apologises for messing with the natural order of things, and for not returning Patrick’s hat. A lot of these twists and turns at the end are sudden, and it tries to get creepy where it doesn’t need to. The creepiness leaves no impact anyway as things return to normal. I could see them doing this in Season 7 or 8 and leaning in hard on the dramatic music and creature feature sound effects, but in this era where they’re more focused on zany fun, it feels like they went back, but then had to restrain themselves.

Still, I like these stylings more than that of those earlier seasons, mostly because the jokes here take an effort to be surprising. Subversive humour appeared here, some of it hitting like SpongeBob having loaned a big hat from Patrick for some reason, others missing like SpongeBob crafting some table legs, the punchline came from a mile away. There’s also some exaggeration, my favourite being how pompous the first complaining customer was. (I even thanked Vincent Waller on Twitter for giving me a cameo) But one joke that didn’t age well was Squidward hoping SpongeBob wasn’t able to make it to work due to having a terminal disease. Yeah, moving on.

My thoughts on the animation are mixed. There were some moments where they had to stretch the internal logic of the animation, like SpongeBob having longer legs when giving Gary a series of exercises, and his regression going forward (eating food like a baby), then backward (seems to be mentally developed when he finds his limbs don’t work), then way forward (instant sponge slug). But, the former is for staging purposes, and the latter could just be to keep the audience on edge. Whoever said SpongeBob wasn’t a show you have to look super critically at, they were right.

Characters are more iffy all-around. Gary goes pretty mad with power when he gets the legs, but for some reason is more mature when he gets the arms. I can’t really tell what’s going on to make him more mischevious, then slightly less, then back to normal when Krabs removes them, which is fine for a pet character, but Gary was on a roll until now. This is another episode where SpongeBob’s mental state is threatened, those are always fun, not much to moan about there. Mr Krabs is fine at handing out wisdom, Squidward’s more than a little callous, but it’s only for a few quips, and Patrick finally gets his hat back. I like the Krustomers today, and their varying reactions to the slimy Krabby Patties, the most.

So I didn’t have a lot of fun with Gary’s Got Legs. Gary’s personality and desires are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and the second half is tonally inconsistent. Still, I think this is more creative and fun than its most direct comparison, Sanctuary. That’s another one where SpongeBob goes mad from overexposure to snail life, and that one was just creepy all-around. This one at least has more jokes and more fun with its premise. It’s not bad or anything, but if you were put off by SpongeBob due to the increase in horror elements, this one’s probably worth skipping.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
The Krusty Slammer < Gary’s Got Legs < The Ballad of Filthy Muck

My return to Season 12 has run the full gambit of good, bad, and inbetween already, so I have even less of an idea of what to expect. I do expect a horrific dictatorship in my near future though. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
King Plankton (Season 12, Episode 4b)
Original Airdate: June 22 2019
Episode 469 in standard order, Episode 466 in airing order
Plot: Plankton takes control of SpongeBob’s sea monkey aquarium
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Alan Smart

Hoo boy, this one was weird. For as dense as the jokes in the new episodes tend to be, it’s shockingly rare you get a story that feels like full-on madness. You’ll often have Kaz to thank for those ones. It’s a good thing that their madcap nature makes me think about them more than the usual romps, and when they’re good, appreciate what they do well to keep me entertained. There’s a lot to unpack in King Plankton, the introduction of a new species, more mass hailing of Plankton, and an ending that might send kids to the hospital. It’s a ride.

We get a cute, colourful view of the world of the sea chimps. They’re all happy and singing in unison, all possibly under the influence of their owner, SpongeBob SquarePants. He heads to the Chum Bucket with their aquarium in tow, in hopes that Karen will take care of them while he’s at the Krusty Krab. You see, he thinks Gary’s trying to eat them, so handing them to the wife of his boss’ mortal enemy is a safer bet. The best thing I get out of this scene, apart from the foreshdowing that SpongeBob’s pink acquaintance is hungry for chimps, is that SpongeBob and Karen have become good friends over time. That’s a sweet note to start this nutty story on.

Plankton is shot home by Mr Krabs after another failed plan to nab the Krabby Patty formula, and stumbles upon SpongeBob’s sea chimp aquarium, hatching a plan. He decides to start small in his efforts to take over the world, and enters the aquarium in hopes of taking over the sea chimp world. I’m confused as to why he needs a shrinking belt though. Sure, so he can interact with them on their scale, but would he be that much smaller than them to begin with? Real sea monkeys (brine shrimp) are around the same size as, if not larger than most species of plankton. Should I care this much? No. Plankton’s smaller but bigger now, whatever helps him sleep at night.

The King of this particular aquarium very quickly lends Plankton the crown, and he proceeds to rule over them all with an iron fist. A few minutes pass of Plankton belittling and slavedriving the poor chimps, and claiming his part of the castle, adorned with servants and self-portraits. With Plankton, I’m not at all upset with this sort of cruel dictator role, because this is everything he’s ever wanted. I just wished there was a way for the monkeys to get back at him for all this. Thankfully, unless it involves Patrick, it seems my wish is Kaz’s command.

One of the chimps fires a dart at Plankton after he hitches a ride on an old lady, and he wakes up at a sacrifice! The sea chimps have tied him up to some stones, and are feeding him to the great tongue in the sky. Who does that tongue belong to? Would it be anyone other than Patrick? Plankton bites it, so Patrick just grabs the aquarium and tries to chug it down, threatening the entire sea chimp populace. At least the former sea monkey king cuts Plankton free, and Plankton ties everyone together under his belt. They all get eaten by Patrick nevertheless, who doesn’t want to admit it to SpongeBob. Ultimately, the sea monkey king fiddles with the belt, growing him and the rest of the sea chimps to the size of regular fish, and they infest the Chum Bucket, forcing Plankton and Karen to throw the bucket to a far-off land, giving the sea chimps a new home in the process.

What just happened?

Some monkey business, that’s for certain. A lot of the humour in this one is bang-on. The couple at the start that drops the topic of having a child when they see SpongeBob loudly walk past them, the frivolous nature of Plankton’s “takeover-er-er”, and how Mr Krabs calls it a Rube Goldfish device. I like the idea of a famous engineer in Bikini Bottom called Rube Goldfish. The best jokes, in my opinion, come from the sea chimp king, and how glad he is to not be ruler anymore. At first it seems strange how accepting he is of relinquishing control to Plankton, but then you realise he was just saving his own hind. Patrick’s role in the episode is mostly jokey, but I’ll get to what didn’t completely work about it in a bit.

The is a pretty well-animated episode with especially engrossing design work. The world of the sea chimps may be small, but it’s filled with colour and life, with many background gags catching my eye. The endless portraits of Plankton in the castle being the first thing to come to mind. And then when Plankton gets sacrificed, the much darker tone and look comes hilariously out of left field. With that said, the thing I feel they put the most detail into was Patrick’s tongue. Those close-ups are insanely elaborate, especially the one from after Plankton takes a bite of it himself. Between this and Cave Dwelling Sponge, Patrick’s tongue can’t seem to catch a break in this era. At least he can feel it again after bashing it with a rock, a few years prior.

As a character, Plankton’s personality and arc are written with a cautionary tale purpose, that works out often. Remember kids, don’t be a ruthless bully to people you have control over, like the little green guy on the TV. And don’t drink sea monkeys like the big pink guy. Yeah, this isn’t the worst portrayal of Patrick ever, but his stomach was a lot bigger than his brain today. At least he gets bitten, then later expands from the inside when the sea chimps grow, which looked painful, so he got some cartoonish comeuppance. As I mentioned, the sea chimp king was great, probably my favourite character of the episode. SpongeBob, Karen and Mr Krabs all have smaller roles, but they have good material to work with, and fluff the start and end of the episode with more Bikini Bottom gags.

Hunger-saurous Patrick and complicated ending aside, I liked this episode. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t seen a Plankton episode in a long time, but this one showed me why he’s such a good villain for a show like SpongeBob. The delusions of power, the hubris, the humiliating defeats, it all adds up to a character I like to see do stuff. No matter how surreal this episode got, I knew I had Plankton to laugh at, and isn’t that a great feeling? That no matter how long the show’s been on, I can always rely on the main characters for the goods?

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
FarmerBob < King Plankton < Gary & Spot

The character of Plankton is like a chum to me, but how is chum to me? I’ll find out again soon enough. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Plankton’s Old Chum (Season 12, Episode 5a)
Original Airdate: November 30 2019
Episode 470 in standard order, Episode 487 in airing order
Plot: Plankton gets SpongeBob to hide his expired chum all over town
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

Chum is people! Maybe it was a good idea to review this in October, this episode has some cannibalistic undertones. Pretend for a moment that fish don’t actually like chum, this takes perhaps the most intrinsically disgusting thing to every creature on earth, the ground up remains of their own kind, and then rots it and gets them to play in it. That is rank, and probably wouldn’t be shown in mainstream media at all if SpongeBob characters weren’t mostly aquatic life. But then it makes this sweet, heartwarming tale about togetherness out of it, and it works! How!? What did this episode do to block most of the smell of expired chum?

Every week, the Chum Bucket’s unused chum explodes into a bunch of rotten garbage, like clockwork. It’s gotten to the point that Plankton and Karen anticipate it, but now Plankton has another barrel of wasted chum that even he can’t sell, so he has to dump it somewhere. Unfortunately, the law’s caught onto his dumping, and the amount of clean areas he can dispose of it is running out. While this is a gross situation, and Plankton is unethical in his disposal practices, I’m kind of rooting for him. I’d want to get rid of it too, but just how to get rid of it is the tricky part, and Bikini Bottom is a tricky place to hide filth, let’s just say.

A couple of the places Plankton tries include the sewers, which are full to burst, and “the old wishing well”, which bears a striking resemblance to the one from Wishing You Well. I like the idea that Mr Krabs hated what the well did to him so much, he just moved it to the top of a hill. And I like both these scenes for having a shared joke, of some guy not really reacting to almost drowing in chum. One last place Plankton heads is the park, where SpongeBob and Gary are, and SpongeBob is very quickly tricked by Plankton into helping him out, and spreading the word of chum. Plankton does this by doing what social media does best- make up a bullcrud holiday!

Chum Day is apparently a holiday where Plankton hides chum in everyone’s houses, and everyone loves finding chum in SpongeBob’s mind, so he helps Plankton out. The story’s getting to the point where it’s so gross it isn’t gross anymore. They’re not there yet, and SpongeBob is being a real dunce, so this is my least favourite part to watch through. Still, it’s all structurally sound. But disaster strikes when SpongeBob hides the last scoop for Plankton. He stuffs it in the sewer, which is so clogged up that it explodes and litters the whole area of Bikini Bottom with chum, on the ground, and falling from the sky in particles like snowflakes. Where do they go from here?

At first, the Bikini Bottomites are ready to pound Plankton to pieces, but SpongeBob soon introduces them to Chum Day. Whether it’s the spirit of the season, or the chemicals coming out of the chum, they join in on the festivities. Soon, the whole town is celebrating the most disease ridden Christmas in history, and Plankton is caught by the police and gets his just desserts, literally. Instead of paying a billion dollar fine, the cops get him to eat all the chum in town over the course of several days. But because there’s that very spirited, unconventional climax with Chum Day, I don’t want to puke as hard. This is a very gross story, one of the most graphic ones of all time at that, but it made me happy out of nowhere, and that can’t be overlooked.

It helps that this is a pretty funny episode too. Two major standout jokes in the first portion alone include the guy who casually sinks into the sewer chum, then emerges from the chum well, and him taking the coin Plankton used to wish the chum out of the well to boot. That’s hard to explain in written form, but it works. I also like Gary driving away in a car, that doesn’t belong to him, and Squidward asking a British boy what day it is, then being disgusted when he finds out what Chum Day is about. These moments add character to this whole ordeal, which is another vital component of the show which keeps it relatable in situations like this.

Now onto animation, this really is pretty dang graphic for a SpongeBob episode. They do not hide the fact that chum is fish guts, you see eyeballs, bones, digestive tracts, and later on a toe. And it’s all past its expiration date, even for chum! By the time SpongeBob pumps some of it into Mrs Puff while she’s sleeping, it has gotten so revolting that part of my brain just blocks it out. They’ve made their point, I say. There are some expresively sweet faces all over the episode, and I like the visual gags of what the Bikini Bottom mob wishes to beat Plankton up with (first a bunch of boxing gloves, then assorted non-weapons), but if you get sick easily, this might be a “watch it blindfolded” case.

If you do that, you’ll still hear the characters and be entertained by them. Plankton’s struggles and acts of villainy are more modern here than last time, and he fits the bill for a careless disposer of gunk. It’s also fresh seeing him get away with his actions for so long, but retribution comes knocking with a spoon. SpongeBob here reminds me of his identity in Season 4 and 5, very dense, but he has a very big heart and always means to help others. It’s an alright characterization, and fitting of the episode’s secondary message, that nothing should go to waste, even garbage. Almost all the other main characters have their moment to shine, and aren’t too intrusive, but this is a SpongeBob and Plankton episode at the end of the day, and they bounce off each other nicely. I also like the new female mayor. At least Bikini Bottom can vote properly.

At many points watching it the first time, and thinking back on it, and watching it again, and writing this review, I was expecting to hate this episode. But I couldn’t, there’s something charming buried under all the fish guts. There’s good jokes, good characters, and well planned messages conveyed through the story, even though it’s absolutely disgusting. Still, it’s the 4th best Christmas episode of the series, if you can classify it as one. It wasn’t a great reason to hold it back until November, but I’m no schedule master. It may be enjoyed most with a clothespin on your nose, but isn’t that what the magic of SpongeBob is all about?

Final Verdict: 6/10 (Okay)
The Ballad of Filthy Muck < Plankton’s Old Chum < FarmerBob

I can see clearly now the chum is gone. Goodbye for now.
 

Octavionknox888

Giant Clam
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
323
Location
here
So Basically your ranking of season 12 so far is this ( best to worst )
Gary and Spot
King Plankton
Farmer Bob
Plankton's Old Chum
The Ballad of Filthy Muck
Gary Got Legs
The Krusty Slammer
Pineapple RV
The Nittwiting
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Stormy Weather (Season 12, Episode 5b)
Original Airdate: June 22 2019
Episode 471 in standard order, Episode 467 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob adopts a baby cloud, to the annoyance of a manic weatherman
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

SpongeBob can become friends with just about anything. A seahorse, a spatula, a hallucination-powered hamster, no matter what, he’ll assume the best of you and have one wacky playdate. Becoming friends with the weather seems like an abstract idea on the face of it, but in the new seasons, I bet they’d have some fun with the premise. And I was surprised with how many bases this one covered when I got around to watching it. It’s very zany, and very joke heavy, but it also caters to those who are always hungry for sweeter, more lovely fare from SpongeBob. Sunny days are ahead in the following paragraphs, but prepare some sunscreen.

It’s a rainy day in Bikini Bottom, and two storm clouds clock out and move somewhere else. They leave behind a smaller cloud, which acts like a baby and cries rain. The weatherman, Gale Doppler, doesn’t seem to care though, declaring a completely sunny week for Bikini Bottom, which is more than likely an excuse for him to sit back and relax. SpongeBob watches his weather report, and his happy to go outside and sieze the day, but runs into the baby cloud, his house being the only location for rain in town, and befriends it. I love this opening so much. Already we’ve got a main conflict, two protagonists with clear desires, and an untrustworthy fellow we may see later down the line, and it’s all fun so far.

SpongeBob names the cloud Drizzle, and has some fun with it, taking it to a field and gazing up at the shapes it makes (no Low Salt Ketchup in sight though), and across town to show off to the other pet owners. No one but him seems to like it, which I can infer as an allusion to how few people like being in the rain. Drizzle is quickly treated like a new pet of SpongeBob’s, but that comes with at least one problem. (They do new pet storylines every season, every creature in Bikini Bottom should know better than to live with SpongeBob by now) SpongeBob keeps Drizzle tied up outside, because he isn’t house trained, but Drizzle manages to escape by shooting electricity at the leash, and heads in to town, I guess to find his parents. This is where most of the cuteness dissipates for a while, but where the zaniness truly begins.

Drizzle gets into some trouble when he crashes through a pet store and makes it rain snails and worms, breaking Gale Doppler’s 35 year streak of perfect weather predictions. This makes Gale go from seeming like a bit of a weirdo, into an unhinged neat freak. He must keep his streak untouched, darnit! He tries sucking Drizzle up with a leaf blower, but SpongeBob comes around with his trust reef blower, and they have a suck-heavy cinematic battle over a baby cloud. If those last 11 words were, for whatever reason, the first thing you read in this review, I’m very sorry that you have no idea what they mean.

Gale gets the upper hand when he brings Drizzle to a construction site for pulverising, and SpongeBob’s so upset that he cries, but his tears just drizzle into Drizzle, turning him into a giant hurricane that takes over Gale. Gale can now finally be the weather! Take that, Bud Kraehling! But SpongeBob’s blown to Drizzle’s parents, and reunites them with their child, turning Drizzle back into a light, fluffy cloud. Gale’s blown into the pulveriser, the cloud family head off, and SpongeBob gets an offspring from Drizzle to keep. These Season 12 endings, they’re wild, and they tend to tie up all the loose ends, but they’re very hard to write about, because so much happens in them. Still, I’m very happy that after a lot of action, they still wanted to end on a cute note.

And there are a lot of solid jokes in this episode. The best ones are those that lead into different plot points, like SpongeBob’s eyes dimming from sunlighty to darkness when he sees it’s raining (only on his house), Gary seeming to not be good friends with Drizzle after he’s revealed to not be “house trained”, the skies raining snails and worms, and how the whole town still finds the clouds reuniting cute, even though they’re in shambles. If you’re easily amused by cute things, this is gonna be a good time. Who knew clouds made such good dogs? They’re better than rare, slimy worms, I’ll say that.

With one of the character being a cloud, an inherently amorphous thing, it only made sense the animators would be creative when bringing Drizzle to life. He can transform into things, but has a distinct, appealing shape in his base form. And a tongue, can’t forget the tongue. One very tiny thing that stuck out to me with a background detail was SpongeBob’s autograph of Gale Doppler misspelling his name as “SpongeBill”. Whether they just thought that was a funny misspelling, or it was a sly reference to when YouTube Poops called him “Spingebill” to not immediately get taken down, is up in the air. Gale Doppler’s character design gives me some Dick Hardly vibes, as does his voice. It’s still distinctly Doug Lawrence though, I wonder why they didn’t get Jeff Bennett to complete the image. But the sleazy Hollywood tan and the wall-eyed stare do give him this weird, not-all-there vibe that fits him as a character.

Not that his character is that of the greatest villain on the show (he’s not even green), but he works as an emotional foil to the unpredictable nature of the show’s comedy, and a tonal foil to this particular episode’s plot, being creepy and insane, wheras most of the first half was innocent fun. SpongeBob’s perfectly in-character for this particular situation, Drizzle and his parents are the cutest clouds in animation history (take that, Pixar!), and the Bikini Bottomites add a teensy bit more flavour to the story. None of the characters here are wasteful or annoying (except maybe that infomercial lady who appears with a toilet plunger, but that’s another good joke), they all melt into the story really well.

Whenever I talk to someone about SpongeBob, and they say it hasn’t been good at all in 13 or so years, this is probably the episode I’ll point to in Modern SpongeBob’s defense. I don’t think it’s the best episode of the decade, the jump in tone at the halfway point was a little jarring, but Stormy Weather should satisfy steadfast fans of the golden era, proving that the show can still do charming comedy, as well as exciting comedy, and leave you with a good feeling. It isn’t one of my favourites, but I can just tell it’s gonna be one of those new classics.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
King Plankton < Stormy Weather < Gary & Spot

I can already tell tomorrow’s episode ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Swamp Mates (Season 12, Episode 6a)
Original Airdate: April 11 2020 (produced in 2019)
Episode 472 in standard order, Episode 494 in airing order
Plot: Bubble Bass and Patrick get lost in a swamp, searching for a missing action figure
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

I wonder how many times in the rest of the show they’ll go back to this sort of location. You know, swamps, forests, bogs, any area of the green, dark and dangerous variety. I’m sure they won’t go back to the Patrick & Bubble Bass team-up well, however. Fresh team-ups like that may appear in a later season if audience reception to them (ergo, SpongeBob nerds on the internet like your’s truly) is positive. As you can see by the rating \/ down there, this is definitely not for me, but I get the appeal in it, and this episode did make me care about them for a few minutes. Note, 16 isn’t “a few”.

Before the story begins proper, it opens with a framing device, SpongeBob reading a story to Gary in his library for “Pat.Star.Piece Theatre”. Thank goodness they found a good use for this overlooked location, and if they had to work SpongeBob into the story somehow, at least it’s with a framing device. Or at least, half of one. He settles on telling the story of the Swamp Mates as a bedtime story, which begins with Bubble Bass fighting crime for his cherished superheroes, stopping Man Ray with his heavy hinie. It’s good to know he can put it to good use now, in his imagination that is.

When he makes it back to the Mermalair, and gets a briefing from The Chief (played by Martin Olson once again), telling him and some other supers that Wonder Whale has been kidnapped by the villainous Hoodoo Guru. It then shows Bubble Bass playing with his toys in his mother’s basement, with his Wonder Whale action figure really missing. But that’s not important right now, his mother’s invitied Patrick over for a playdate, who causes him trouble immediately, infiltrating his precious free time, teething on some of his action figures, and playing “Swamp”. That consists of unloading a huge bag of green gunk and playing around in it. So far, Patrick is the pits, but this is a Bubble Bass episode, so this is mostly how Bass sees him.

Then the Flintstones gummies kick in. The swamp water turns into a sinkhole that sucks in all Bass’ toys, including his lost Wonder Whale figure, and he and Patrick are sucked into a real swamp. The Wonder Whale figure again goes missing, being taken by a mysterious figure heading deeper into the woods, so Bass has to begrudgingly team up with Patrick to get it back. Madness soon ensues as they find a shack where two crocodiles are making illegal hot sauce. It’s so hot that it blows Patrick’s head clean off for a bit when he tastes it, so he and Bass escape with their lives, with Patrick’s firey breath coming in handy, speeding them up. These crocodiles come back though, so this isn’t a waste of time like the Sea Bear minisode in Pineapple RV.

The swamp mates finally catch up with the kidnapper, the Voodoo Villain himself, Hoodoo Guru. He just wanted the Wonder Whale action figure to complete his collection, but Bass won’t have a fellow collector stoop to petty thievery. They get trapped in a net, but Patrick breaks them out by revealing it’s spaghetti, though he’s not of help for very long, as after Bass reclaims his figure (the toy, not his own physique), Hoodoo gets out a voodoo doll of Patrick, and gets Patrick to attack Bass. Again, there’s a lot of action happening here. It’s dynamic, I like the spaghetti joke for feeling like a cop-out at first before the punchline hits, though it feels like a lot’s being thrown at me at once.

An epic chase scene ensues, with Hoodoo and the Crocodiles (my favourite 70s novelty pop band) chasing Bass and Patrick down the river, before they plummet down a waterfall. It all turned out to be a dream of Bass’, but he spits out his Wonder Whale actuon figure, getting it back in one piece. Aside from that, things still blow. Patrick’s still ruined his room, his mother still yells at him, and I’d seriously ask him to clean the place now, he’s having too many hallucinations for me to consider it a healthy bedroom.

But somehow, the Chief gets the Patrick doll and complete his collection of SpongeBob toys. Is he the owner of the bedroom at the end of Cuddle E. Hugs then? I’m not putting it above this story, the ending is randomness incarnate. There is a resolution, albeit one that underwhelms me more than it satisfies, but these last few minutes are some of the most chaotic in SpongeBob history. That’s not a terrible thing, but it leaves me with a less positive impression of the whole episode.

There are some good jokes throughout this episode, but not enough to justify this being one of the 16 minute ones. I did enjoy the spaghetti joke, and the minor running joke of Patrick not understanding some big words Bass says. But this is an adventure episode at its heart, so comedy was less of a priority than the story, and that shows when they make less funny jokes. I really disliked Bubble Bass getting stung by all the little yellow jellyfish within moments of entering the swamp. I guess being an antisocial manchild who’s detrimentally obsessed with children’s media, he kind of deserves some “reality”. Still, only around half of Patrick’s jokes were entertaining, and the two brief scenes with The Chief were major highlights for me.

Still, I like the animation in this episode. The backgrounds of the swamp show just how far they’ve come since just Food Con Castaways. The scenes of Bass and Patrick just floating on a log like Tom and Huck are comfy too, so it’s not like this is a totally repulsive environment. I was happy to see Suburban Dad, new member Anchor Man, and the young Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy at the Mermalair, and the corny green screen effects with the Chief were all good. And this is more of a prop design critique, but were all the SpongeBob toys meant to look off-model? Maybe the Chief’s a bootleg collector.

The characters were not as compelling as they could’ve been. Bubble Bass as a hero is a fresh take, and he’s certainly got enough good in him for this plot to function, but if I had to pick another person to be stuck in a swamp with, it would not be a fellow sweaty nerd. Patrick is definitely Patrick, warrs and all. He’s a massive hindrance, getting this whole mess underway, but he does come to be of assistance, and his later misdeeds were under Hoodoo’s control. Hoodoo is a unique villain, but something tells me he hasn’t been used in his own franchise in a few decades, and the makers of it aren’t too keen on bringing him back. There’s nothing problematic about his portrayal in this fantasy world from what I can see, he’s strong, cunning, and has an identifiable goal as a villain. Swamp Mates, you get to stay on streaming for another year before we have this little talk again.

I’m not huge on the crocodiles though. It makes sense why they’re in a swamp, but making them hot sauce addicts was a random choice. Gotta make Patrick fast somehow, I suppose. Some new superheroes are added to the growing SpongeBob Cinematic Universe, Anchor Man and Wonder Whale. Anchor Man has potential, if they ever want to bring him back, and Wonder Whale doesn’t appear in the flesh, but it’s a good thing no one’s complaining about a...girl being in the G.O.O.F.S. This just leaves The Chief. He was good in MMBBV, but is a standout here, partially because it’s just great to see him again after so long, but also it’s really dang easy to stand out positively in Swamp Mates.

Is this a fine episode with distinct visual and narrative quirks? Yes. Is it what I personally watch the show hoping to see? Nuh-uh. I didn’t see any need to make this one of the long form episodes, it has more reason to be that than Squirrel Jelly, but it has the same amount of story development as an 11 minute episode. It feels like there’s an extra 5 minutes of random junk carrying it up to 16. I’ve done my piece and what works and what doesn’t work about Swamp Mates for me, but it’s an ambitious pairing that I think they relied too heavily on to glue everything else together. If I find this episode in a swamp, I’d rescue it, but give it to someone else who it appeals to more.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Pineapple RV < Swamp Mates < The Krusty Slammer

Funnilly enough, its sister episode isn’t as much of a one trick sponge. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
One Trick Sponge (Season 12, Episode 6b)
Original Airdate: April 11 2020 (produced in 2019)
Episode 473 in standard order, Episode 495 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob can’t find anyone to show his new magic trick to
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

Here’s another one of those itty bitty 6 minute episodes that follow the big 16 minute ones. Feral Friends, Squirrel Jelly and Swamp Mates all needed Don’t Wake Patrick, The String and One Trick Sponge. Not that they’re all the greatest episodes ever, but those shorter sister episodes do help end each half-hour on a sillier, generally more easygoing note. Then here comes One Trick Sponge, about a loud, bombastic magic trick. It doesn’t fulfill the same purpose as its predecessors, but I would still consider it the best of the 3 by sheer entertainment value.

SpongeBob has just perfected a magic trick he’s been working on for years, since he was a SpongeBoy he says, and is now eager to show it to any of his friends that he can. This does not include Gary or Norton the Mailman for some reason, but Patrick is always a safe bet. Except today, he doesn’t seem to be home. Squidward’s up next for getting bothered, but he’s so not interested that he swallows his eyeballs so he doesn’t have to see it. At least he isn’t Mrs Puff, who gets into a boating accident with her newest and best student yet, Roger, because SpongeBob distracts them during a test. This part is my least favourite of the episode, but so far, I like where it’s headed, and what it’s doing while heading there.

SpongeBob then makes his way to Sandy’s treedome, but she’s a little preoccupied, her head exploring another dimension...which just so happens to be the swamp in Swamp Mates, with the climactic chase scene happening in the background. That’s a fun callback, and explains why Patrick wasn’t at his rock, but just raises further questions about the prior episode’s story. The last two people he tries to show his magic trick to are Mr Krabs and Fred, but they’re disappointed when they hear the trick doesn’t cater to them, Krabs wanting a “penny in your ear” trick, and Fred wanting something bad to happen to his leg. Typical them, and they aren’t aware of how much running around SpongeBob’s done, so they’re not a waste of characters or story.

All alone with no one to perform for, SpongeBob heads into a forest to mope, but figures this trick shouldn’t go to waste. He makes a crowd out of rocks, stumps and leaves, and gets the trick underway, which is mostly a dreamlike performance with magic cards. It’s visually stunning, and a good payoff. Patrick was even able to make it for the very end, and joins SpongeBob in the top hat for some magic fun. This really fun and rewarding ending definitely makes up for the bulk of the middle of the episode being more mundane, and shows you that with a little patience, your friends will find the time for you.

Even before the grand finale, they lay the visual humour on thick, with all the eye stuff when SpongeBob talks to Squidward, and the general absurdity of Sandy watering her garden without a head. Many of these moments are funny, and make the formula SpongeBob’s going through a little less bothersome. The animation really holds this episode together, from all the bouncing around the pineapple does when SpongeBob excitedly perfects his trick, to the whole visual sequence of the magic trick. It reminds me of those classical Disney fantasy sequences, such as Pink Elephants On Parade or Heffalumps and Woozles. They’re next level optical illusions with commanding music to keep your eyes on the event. Not a lot of animators go for these sequences anymore, even the most stuck up, underground independant animators, and I’m happy SpongeBob could resurrect a whole style for a minute or so.

This episode is like an ensemble piece, SpongeBob’s the main one, but everybody else gets their own little moment to shine. I like Squidward’s, Sandy’s, Mr Krabs’, Fred’s and Patrick’s scenes well enough. Wasn’t keen on Mrs Puff’s, but she wasn’t out of character in it. Of course, this is one of those tales where SpongeBob is a stand-in for the kid watching this. It’s telling them something about how their friends treat them, and how they can work around it. There are plenty of episodes with this intent and purpose that I like, look no further than Overbooked and Appointment TV, and this is no exception. Sure, it isn’t as deep as those others, the runtime holds it back from being this challenge of how SpongeBob sees Bikini Bottom, but it’s a pretty, humourous episode that says something nice and doesn’t talk down to you about it. It’s a card, and not just any card.

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
FarmerBob < One Trick Sponge < King Plankton

So a quarter of the way through Season 12, it’s alright so far. But there’s still over half the season to kick off my bucket list. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
The Krusty Bucket (Season 12, Episode 7a)
Original Airdate: August 10 2019
Episode 474 in standard order, Episode 475 in airing order
Plot: Plankton creates a genetic clone hybrid of himself and Mr Krabs that gives really good handshakes
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

I’ve seen many episodes where Mr Krabs and Plankton work together, but this is a whole other beast. It’s always a good way to reinforce that they used to be friends, or repair a mend if the writers think they’re becoming too different of characters. And again, today’s sea creature feature takes a lot of these statements to a new extreme. This is one where I wasn’t too sure if I liked it for the longest time, but then I actually watched it, and I remembered I liked it when I first saw it. Maybe it was just I had other shows to review at that point, but it’s taken a bit for this one to really stick with me. And I’m glad that it finally has.

The story opens with Mr Krabs taking a shower (hope he returns it), with Plankton hiding in the medicine cabinet, sneakily trying to find a piece of Krabs’ hair for his newest plan. He gets more than he bargained for when Krabs mistakes him for his razor and uses him all around the body. I had totally forgotten this opening scene, but I wish I could forget again. It’s pretty gross, I don’t think a plankton’s teeth feel or function like razor blades, and you can cut it from the episode and not lose a whole lot. Maybe you won’t get the running gag of the century, but that’s for later. Point is, I like this episode, but not for its opening scene.

When Plankton gets back to the Chum Bucket, he reveals his latest scheme. He creates a clone out of Krabs’ hair and his antennae (which Karen cuts a chunk off), to combine the slimiest atrributes of both parties into one evil ally, Plankrab! It ends up working too well though. On Plankrab’s visit to the Krusty Krab, he’s able to kick Mr Krabs out and make SpongeBob and Squidward worship the ground he walks on, and gets the deed to the Chum Bucket too when Plankton comes to check on him after 3 minutes. How he does all this, the best handshake in the world. Let me tell you, this is a well researched conflict within the world of business. Bosses have darn good handshakes, so making a clone hybrid of two of them was a recipe for handshake heaven.

Having lost everything together in the span of a few minutes, it appears that Krabs and Plankton are best frenemies once again, and have to work together to defeat a greater corporate evil. This dynamic has worked well enough in the past, so I have no issue with this. Their first attempts are cartoony schemes, beating Plankrab up behind a dumpster, or at least trying to, and swaying the customers to their own food stand, or at least trying to. Plankrab outsmarts them both times, leaving them more hopeless than when they started, raising the stakes a little. And it’s about to get a lot more desolate with Plan C.

Mr Krabs and Plankton apply for jobs at the Krusty Bucket, hoping to get managerial roles. Plankrab hires them, but they start at the very bottom, bathroom duty. Down on their luck, at the lowest they’ve ever been in their lives, their problems undefeatable, what do Krabs and Plankton do? Fight! Fight! Fight! Plankrab even gets in on the ordeal, and begins splitting into a Plankton and Krabs side. The originals take advantage of this and get them to fight even more, then enter a boxing match. But they have to shake hands first, and when they do, both halves melt away. The episode ends right here, SpongeBob and Squidward aren’t shown snapping out of their trances, and the Krusty Bucket merger isn’t undone, but at least Plankton gets all the hair out of his throat.

Throughout the episode, Plankton will cough, and say he still has a hair in his throat from the opening scene. It isn’t too funny, but at least all the hair is freed in the end. Apart from that, the premise of the episode alone is really funny. It makes a monstrously manipulative boss out of two of the most greedy, power-hungry main characters, and his main attack is a really good handshake. Krabs is still wowed by it even after losing his restaurant. I like all the jokes about how dang good Plankrab’s handshake is, and how it’s resolved, and the scheme routines are short but very memorable too. And I don’t know if this is a joke or a callback, but Plankrab saying he added “a pinch of chum” to Krabby Patties could be a reference to Friend or Foe. A very fitting and impactful reference, given what’s happening.

This is definitely a well-animated episode too. Plankrab’s character design isn’t just some web-generated merge of the two characters, it has character. You can tell it’s more threatening than both of them with the very long singular eye and the big, meaty claws. I can’t praise the handshakes enough, I love the little arms that come out and massage the hands. I didn’t even get a handshake, and it works on me, that’s the power of it! Of course I like some of the other gags, like Plankton bashing a coffee machine over Krabs’ head and his eyes coming out of it, and for as weird of an ending note as he is, Hairball does look cute.

I may not like his gag, but Hairball holds the episode together, he’s a deep allegory of freedom and the working class that showed up at the right time within the story. Hairball should join the main cast someday. Plankrab isn’t too bad either. As an antagonist, it’s more about his powers than his personality, but those powers man. Krabs and Plankton are their usual squabbling selves, in that they don’t really like each other any more, but you can get that they used to. SpongeBob and Squidward’s only roles are to be put in that handshake trance, they’re never seen going into or getting out of it. I’m fine with this, since dedicating more time to them wouldn’t add much to the core story. Karen’s also near the start of the episode. Nothing’s known about what Plankrab did to her, but again, it’s not important.

What is important is that reluctant team-ups are a growing trend. Plankton’s Old Chum, Swamp Mates, and now this. Opposites attract, I guess. But what’s the opposite of Swamp Mates? A really good episode. This is one that I just flat-out enjoy. I don’t even mind the more lame portions, because it all adds up to one of the best Krabs/Plankton team-up stories yet. It takes a delve into what makes them enemies, pits it against both of them, and makes it a real challenge that they have to overcome as a te-am. Making a conflict this hard also silly is just icing on the cake. I wouldn’t melt for The Krusty Bucket, but I respect its success.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
King Plankton < The Krusty Bucket < Stormy Weather

Our next stop is one that’ll make me want to yell “stop”, that’s for sure. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Squid’s On a Bus (Season 12, Episode 7b)
Original Airdate: September 28 2019
Episode 475 in standard order, Episode 482 in airing order
Plot: Squidward switches jobs with a bus driver, and incures SpongeBob’s wrath
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

For anyone who’s watched Squid Abuse episodes for years, decades now, and have only been left unsatisfied by the lack of bus-related jokes, this might just fulfill their lifelong demands once and for all. You could probably guess I wasn’t going to like this one on principle. My tastes have changed in the past few years, I’m far less tolerant of them still making this type of episode, even if they aren’t plagued with damaging issues like they were in the dark ages. I’m happy to say this isn’t as bad as Pineapple RV, but like one’s time on the bus, it’s got a lot of inconveniences that muddy the experience.

The story starts with Squidward waiting impatiently for the bus to arrive. It turns up one hour late (give or take a hundred years), and Squidward’s too uptight to give the bus driver any generosity, complaining about the wait, and the uncleanliness of the bus, among other things. Already this octopus isn’t in my good graces, and I feel bad for the bus driver getting chastised like this. I never thought I’d feel bad for a bus driver on SpongeBob, but here we are. They fight some more when Squidward gets dropped off at the Krusty Krab, so much so that Mr Krabs forces them to switch jobs for the day. The bus driver shall be the cashier, and Squidward shall get a taste of his own medicine, putting up with inconsiderate bus passengers. They’ve quickly established what’s exactly happening, but what haven’t been established yet are all the characters.

Squidward very quickly enjoys his new job, surprisingly enough. He doesn’t mind confiscating food and items from the passengers, or their complaints about the bus being behind schedule, anywhere but behind the cash register seems to be fine. But then, he turns up. SpongeBob’s taking his day off riding the bus for an extended period of time. It’s something he apparently does all the time, and he’s always wanted to see Squidward in the driver’s seat. This is one of SpongeBob’s more carefree outings to put it lightly, driving the bus with an invisible wheel for him, and even puts a pillow behind the break to make it softer. That’s the worst thing he does in the whole episode, and while it is very dangerous, he only wanted to help Squidward. Remind me again why he can’t get a boating license?

After goofing around the bus for a very long time, SpongeBob is joined by his old partner in crime, Patrick. Time for the jokes to get even more lowbrow, and for the duo to jump around playing on the bus like animals. I’m sure there has to be some set of regulations for what you’re allowed to do on a bus, and Squidward’s being pretty passive for not kicking them off by the time they use the support handles as acrobatic swings. I’d ask them to get off by the time they act like pets, they’re not going anywhere and they wouldn’t be making the other passengers comfortable in real life. But this is a cartoon, where does this madness lead them?

After everyone else has already gotten off, the bus goes off course and falls into a deep sea town like Rock Bottom, Crash County. But due to the increased pressure this far into the ocean, the bus begins collapsing on itself, but after some silly action, the bus gets caught in a geyser and shoots back up to normal sea levels and into the Krusty Krab, smashing through the roof. It wouldn’t be a Season 12 episode without the ol’ action setpiece ending. Or the iris outs, but those snuck into the show so gradually that I don’t mind them. What Squidward’s learnt from this is that being a bus driver is annoying, and he’d much rather be a cashier. The extra $4 per hour aren’t worth spending more time...with...SpongeBob...well this whole adventure was kind of pointless if you think about it.

I think this story’s pretty lousy, but I was entertained by most of the episode’s jokes. Some of my favourites were SpongeBob taking a full day to put exact change in the money tin (I assume Bikini Bottom transport doesn’t take MetroCard), an old lady not kinding using Patrick as a support animal, and Patrick trying to eat a sandwich in Crash County, but it compresses into a panini, which he doesn’t mind having either. It’s good that there’s a good amount of jokes I can like, but there’s plenty to dislike too. The old skeleton decaying into dust at the start of the episode was darker than it needed to be, and Patrick using the nonexistent bathroom on the bus wasn’t funny the first time, and it was a lame ending joke.

This is one of the most elaborately animated episodes, but it’s still lively. They’re on a bus for a very long time, and while angles aren’t played with a whole lot, the ones shown are pleasing. I guess this episode’s big spotlight was on Crash County (I hear his new game’s pretty good), which looks dull, but needs too, and the crushed designs of the characters and bus. They’re fine, but aren’t worth making a big fuss about. I guess one more visual gag worth praising is SpongeBob getting on the bus walking upside down. His design is so flexible in general that doing a handstand with his head rotated 180 degrees looks oddly normal.

Squidward kind of deserves a lot of what happens to him, so I guess I can’t complain about him getting “tortured”. This is more balanced than usual in showing his character flaws, and how those flaws can bite him, even if they are overt in their presence for a bit long for me to really like him. SpongeBob and Patrick aren’t very bright bulbs here, some of the things they do on the bus shouldn’t be imitated by younger children. Though you can see SpongeBob look and act a bit more normal when he gets back to work in the end, like he’s in a certain “mode” when bothering Squidward, which makes these episodes so much easier to tell apart from others. The bus driver seems like he could be a fine foil to Squidward, but isn’t shown doing a whole lot. He could be another one I’d want to see return, but would he have much use outside of this specific episode?

Throw it on the pile. The pile of Annoy Squidward episodes I don’t like but don’t hate. This one squeezed some fun jokes out of its setup at least, but I still have problems with this core template still being a thing. Episodes surrounding it have been exciting and varied, stuff they couldn’t have done in the earlier seasons. Fundamentally, Squid’s On a Bus was made in 1999, it doesn’t say or present anything new about these characters at all. It isn’t harmful or anything, but if being useless is just as intrusive, this episode should sit in the back and keep to itself.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Swamp Mates < Squid’s On a Bus < The Krusty Slammer

In direct contrast, tomorrow’s episode has new characters, a new dynamic, and a new story to tell with them. Season 12 has me going through all the motions. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Sandy’s Nutty Nieces (Season 12, Episode 8a)
Original Airdate: June 29 2019
Episode 476 in standard order, Episode 469 in airing order
Plot: Sandy’s nieces come to visit, and SpongeBob babysits them to disastrous results
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Michelle Bryan & Alan Smart

I wasn’t expecting them to add more to an established character’s family this far into the series, but I’m happy they did. When Chimps Ahoy broke the seal on land mammals coming to Bikini Bottom, the show scarcely took advantage of it. There was Kenny the Cat, who was a celebrity and all, they could crack jokes about celebrities with him, but no other episode took the Chimps Ahoy approach of expanding upon Sandy’s life and friends on the surface...until now. We’ve got a full-blown family coming almost out of thin air. They made a joke about her having a Scottish cousin in the Season 5 finale, and Surf ‘N Turf last season teased her parents, but this episode’s instead focused on her nutty nieces, and boy howdy are they nutty.

Our story begins with SpongeBob working on an invention with Sandy in her treedome. We don’t know what it is yet, but what we do know is SpongeBob’s being unhelpful, getting anything everything except a laser screw. Already this establishes that SpongeBob’s a handful by himself. Before long, Sandy’s sister Rosy comes over with her triplet children (again, reminding me of Stanley S. SquarePants). Three girls named after nuts, Macadamia, Hazelnut and Pistachio, who are all very cute, but looks can be decieving, as we’ll soon see. Rosy’s dropping them off for Sandy to babysit a day early, so you have to wonder why she’s so happy to get back to Texas and not need to worry about them. They’re so cute, what’s the big deal?

SpongeBob elects to babysit them, but Sandy tries to warn him of something. He doesn’t listen, because look at them, they’re so adorable. After losing to all three of them in arm wrassling, he takes them to the Krusty Krab, where they become pesky rather quickly. They have a stare-off with Mr Krabs and call Squidward ugly, and then they play around with the condiments in the kitchen, spraying them on each Krusty Krewmember, making them look like someone else. It’s actually rather wholesome. While it’s a huge waste of food to making Mr Krabs look like Plankton (deja vu), there’s no harm done. Still, the nutty nieces have proven they can go overboard with playtime.

After SpongeBob’s let off from work, he heads to Goo Lagoon for some rest in the sun. Only while he’s sleeping, the nieces build a sandcastle over him made of concrete, then destroy it with a wrecking ball. SpongeBob just heads home after that experience, but who should greet him at the door but Patrick? He can’t figure out how to turn the TV on, so SpongeBob does it for him, so he can relax and watch his favourite shows. If only. The nieces block his view though, so cue some jumping around from both parties to get the best view, all while SpongeBob’s busy making brownies. I don’t blame him for not getting involved. After getting let off work and bulldozed on the beach, he should stay in a different room from them as often as he can.

There’s only one way for Patrick to settle his feud with the nieces- more arm wrassling! But he wins by a landslide, reacing for the brownie SpongeBob left on his side. The nieces are so distraught by their loss that they flee back to the treedome and cry to Sandy about everyone being mean to them. Sandy then puts them in the bouncy castle she was building earlier, which turns into a submarine that sends them back to Texas, to Rosy’s dismay. What Sandy was trying to tell SpongeBob earlier is that the golden rule of babysitting the nieces, is to not to, they’re so uncontrollable. This ending cracks some eggs to make an omelette. While it does wrap things up in a bow, and offer closure to the events, it’s disheartening that the nieces are revealed to be completely untameable, and that what SpongeBob did was a waste of energy to an extent.

A funny waste of energy however, no doubt. There’s some good stuff scattered throughout, ranging from SpongeBob reading a sea-based Goldilocks to the nieces, starting from Chapter 1: Breaking & Entering, to SpongeBob getting a bump on the noggin so big, that it rises above the sea and a seagull perches on top of it. The best joke of all however, is the first thing Patrick watches on the TV- a monkey in clothes dancing with humans. Some jokes weren’t too hot though. The opening with SpongeBob handing Sandy a bunch of useless junk doesn’t paint him in the best light for a babysitting episode, the whole ending fiasco kind of dims my enjoyment of the nieces, and them having a stare-off at Mr Krabs for a bit was of medium length, but one of the first “let’s just hold on supposedly silly things for a couple seconds” moments in a long time.

There isn’t much to the animation I can dissect here. The designs of the nieces are cute, and there’s a few more instances of digital compsoiting with more surface scenes, but they’re fine. They get the job done, but there’s a more ambitious surface-centred episode up ahead. The nices are cute enough, and have a quirk of finishing rhymes for each other, but they aren’t distinct on their own, and they don’t go through an arc of any kind. They’re just hellions from start to finish, which puts them below Stanley in my opinion, because he at least knew he was annoying and wanted to overcome it. SpongeBob, Sandy, Krabs, Squidward and Patrick all fit the bill nicely, and Rosy’s not what I expect Sandy’s sister to look or act like, but she’s fine too.

This is a very, very fine episode. I don’t think it all came together to make something truly seaworthy, but it was funny enough and can keep your attention well enough. The problems I have with this episode wouldn’t have existed in a lot of earlier seasons, where story was a bigger priority, and resolving issues was an instinctive action most episodes made. You probably won’t find an astonishing amount of worldbuilding for Sandy’s life back in Texas here, but you will get a snippet of it, and a rip-roaring time with a monkey in clothes dancing with humans.

Final Verdict: 6/10 (Okay)
Plankton’s Old Chum < Sandy’s Nutty Nieces < FarmerBob

More serviceable episodes like this aren’t dangerous for this dinosaur of a cartoon, but bad ones can make it come closer to collapsing. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Insecurity Guards (Season 12, Episode 8b)
Original Airdate: June 29 2019
Episode 477 in standard order, Episode 468 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick destroy a bunch of stuff at a museum for 11 minutes
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

They may not be my favourite place in the city to go, but I have an undying respect for museums. Pretty much anyone who makes it their mission in life to preserve and showcase pieces of history is a good noodle in my books. I hate to see anything bad happen to priceless artifacts of the past, whether it be an accidental disaster, or some nutcase stealing or destroying them for fun. This episode is all about that, and it a chance to say something about the value of history and art, especially with a place with as open-ended and mysterious of a history as Bikini Bottom. You want to know what they did? Imagine Patrick sitting on the Mona Lisa and farting on it. That’s what this whole episode feels like to me. There aren’t many bad episodes of SpongeBob that personally upset me, I mean it’s a cartoon, it can’t hurt me and it never attempts to, but this is a part of the show I wish time would forget.

Squidward brings his new art piece to the Museum of Everything, a new museum that looks like a pantheon rather than the viking one we see occasionally. It’s rejected by the owner for not being very good (and I agree, it’s his usual artistic ego trip), but right as Squidward’s leaving, he meets up with SpongeBob and Patrick. They’re going to the museum because Patrick got a job there as a security guard, and he’s giving SpongeBob a guided tour. Exactly how Patrick got a job...not just as a security guard, a job at all, is never explained. We never see the owner interact with them, so for all we know, they could just be lying to get in free. And Squidward gets the idea that, if Patrick of all people is watching the building, he could sneak his art into the museum at some point. One party’s qualifications and motives are vague and suspicious, and the other’s is totally fine with breaking and entering a museum and placing art there without permission? It’s a safe bet to say I don’t like any of the main characters in this episode.

So Patrick takes SpongeBob inside and introduces him to his new job, not doing his job. They go to the changing room, which all museums have, and he gives SpongeBob his own security guard outfit to wear, which was so easy to obtain that it, along with the crowbar Patrick uses to open his locker, I should just stop speculating and fully accuse him. Now suited up for duty, Patrick tells SpongeBob all the rules that the visitors have to follow, no stealing, no running, no flash photography, etc. A lot of them do some of those things anyway, because Patrick can’t be fussed to endorce the rules. He’s just having too good of a time with SpongeBob, to the detriment of the museum’s safety.

And the desecration ensues! Maybe if it was one exhibit I’d be fine, or if parts of the museum were asking for violence to ensue like the office building in Krusty Kleaners, but SpongeBob and Patrick constantly mess with or destroy various exhibits and pieces, ranging from a bird creature’s bones, to a mummy’s tomb, to some art of Mr Krabs that’s apparently centuries old. Have I been watching this show that long, or is it pulling my leg? Just messing with this stuff isn’t funny by itself, but that’s what most of this middle act is really banking on. Why is art of SpongeBob, Mr Krabs and Mrs Puff in a museum like this, and why is there a whole exhibit dedicated to Patrick? Who cares, aren’t you laughing at things going to hell in a place you have no established connection to, good or ill?

Then at the last minute, Squidward sneaks in to put his painting up in a gallery, but Patrick thinks he’s just touching an exhibit, then stealing it when he runs away with it, so a chase scene ensues. It ends with Squidward getting incarcerated, but the painting’s put back on display, so he kind of wins. It’s an ugly painting though, so I’m not happy that it’s up, and I’m also not happy that Squidward got his way in the end, incarceration aside. Maybe this is one of those cases where I frankly wish Squidward got more thrown at him, but I’m so annoyed by everything else that happened that my judgement’s probably clouded. This is one terrible story, that doesn’t have any care for its own structure, and little reason for its characters to do anything.

There are a smattering of jokes here that I thought were at least well-written. The evolution of sponge security guards from sea sponge to robot was fine, and the teacher that’s stuck with the kids running around the museum was the most relatable character here. Most of the jokes really bank on introducing things that might be important to a lot of people, then SpongeBob, Patrick or whoever breaking it. After a while, it doesn’t really annoy me, it just bores me. Like that’s the best you can come up with in your museum episode? It’s either that or random coincidences, like the wooly mollusc display’s interactive button making it do three different things for no reason, or the abundance of art based around the main characters that’s on display. Why though? Is it because it’s a Museum of Everything?

Even visual gags are been there done that now, they repeat the “tiny SpongeBob and Patrick in Squidward’s head” thay was used in Pineapple RV not too long ago. Sure this happened to air on American television earlier, but after they air and enter regular rotation, it’s going to seem odd that the same joke, more or less, is used around 10 episodes apart. This is one where the jokes and animation have the exact same problems as one another (in this case, overemphasis on repetition and nonsense), so I don’t see much reason to continue droning on about them. One cute little reference I liked was the burglar carrying King Neptune’s crown from the first movie in one shot, that’s a neat little shout-out, and they half took advantage of being allowed to use movie assets again.

The characters were really dumbed down for this one. SpongeBob never means wrong, in fact he lets a burglar go by looking at him too nicely, but he’s a partner in crime to Patrick for most of this adventure. He doesn’t have a job at the museum, but his conduct is still subpar to say the least. Patrick, especially here, is too stupid to pass any application, so I refuse to believe he was hired by the owner, and is just dicking around because he can. Squidward’s here to bookend things, since he vanishes in the middle portion, and his plot isn’t very favourable either. Even the side characters I struggle to like here, the owner’s weak and only serves to push Squidward over the edge in the first place, the burglar just burgles and tends to get away with it, and there’s a mummy that’s still alive for no reason. When the only character I liked was a tired teacher devoid of energy and enthusiasm for the kids he’s looking after, that’s a problem.

As you can see, these paragraphs are a bit larger than usual, and that’s because I had some choice things to say about this episode. And not “choice” as in the Kiwi slang term for awesome, I meant choice as in harsh. There was potential here for some really neat art, or even some worldbuilding, but whatever they put in is just there for jokes. While I’m sure this episode was given the same amount of care and attention as many of the others in this season, it didn’t come off that way to me. It bothered me way more than it should’ve, though that’s probably a me thing. Do I hate it as mich as The Nitwitting? Probably not, but it’s in that ballpark of stupid and wreckless for the heck of it. Compared to SpongeBob’s last visit to a museum, Nautical Novice, I’d rewatch that one over this. Its story bites, but at least it’s a full story. I’m not asking for this episode to be destroyed, just keep it far away from me.

Final Verdict: 3/10 (Bad)
The Nitwitting < Insecurity Guards < Pineapple RV

I hope tomorrow’s episode got up on the right side of the bed. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Broken Alarm (Season 12, Episode 9a)
Original Airdate: July 6 2019
Episode 478 in standard order, Episode 471 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob’s old foghorn alarm clock breaks, so he has to get some new ones
Written by Ben Gruber
Animation Director: Alan Smart

I don’t think I’ll ever fully process how genius all the little details of SpongeBob’s life really are. The foghorn alarm clock is one of the very first things you see and understand about him in certain episodes. It’s unnecessarily loud, but it just about gets him out of bed to start the day. While there were jokes about it in Season 1, it just became an expected element to SpongeBob’s life. 20 years have passed, and they now decide to give it a spotlight episode? I don’t know how we all ignored it for so long. Perhaps the writers have been slowly organising a huge list of jokes to make about it, because this episode is really dang funny.

One day at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob doesn’t show up on time, and the Krustomers get hungry and destructive. So, Mr Krabs assumes the worst and announces that SpongeBob’s (probably) died! A bit of an overreaction, but SpongeBob’s “never been late for work”, you see. He, Squidward and the Krustomers go to his house to check on him, but it turns out he’s completely fine, he just overslept. The way everyone’s reacting to this is certainly unrealistic, but I’ve got a good grasp of what they expect from SpongeBob through these establishing scenes- consistency and obviously readiness.

It turns out the reason SpongeBob couldn’t get up is his alarm clock was unplugged, but in trying to plug it back in, it falls off the barrel it rests on, bounces around and then breaks. This is bad news, since that alarm is the only thing SpongeBob’s sure will wake him up. I understand why he’d be a heavy sleeper and need a foghorn of all things to wake himself up, he’s an energetic guy, and needs as much rest as possible to maintain his busy life and happy demeanour. I like how just the alarm breaking puts a damper on SpongeBob, he’s clearly unhappy in the scene where he tries to piece it back together. Patrick’s there, and he makes things worse. Not exactly what I needed from him right after Insecurity Guards, but it puts the nail in the old alarm’s coffin, and forces SpongeBob to get a new one, something he’s better off doing. Patrick being destructive actually had a positive narrative purpose, this episode’s tick-tocking the right boxes for me.

SpongeBob goes to a clock store, and discovers that they don’t make his specific model of alarm clock anymore, so he decides to buy everything he can and see what works. This makes the owner of the store very rich, and SpongeBob a very unsatisfied customer, since nothing works. This only makes Mr Krabs angrier and more willing to “or else” SpongeBob. This adds a ticking clock, pardon the pun, to the episode now. SpongeBob has to find the right way to get out of bed in the morning, or else Mr Krabs will do something he won’t like. Fire him? You wish.

The last plan is building a Rube Goldberg/fish contrpation that slides SpongeBob to work and cooks patties for him until he can wake up. SpongeBob spends all night building it, so it’s no wonder he takes too long brightening up. Bubble Bass complains about one of his orders not having enough pickles, Squidward puts it back on the window, messing with the RGF machine and making it malfunction all over the kitchen. Fair enough, you can’t be prepared for everything.

This is it, Mr Krabs reveals what “or else” truly means. If SpongeBob fails to wake up on time once more, he’ll shorten the Krusty Krab’s business hours to fit SpongeBob’s schedule. It’s a great bait and switch, because Krabs is only doing this for SpongeBob’s wellbeing, but it leaves SpongeBob distraught because he’ll spend less time at the place he loves. But when he gets home, he finds Patrick has re-assembled the old foghorn to the best of his ability, not very well, but he ends up becoming SpongeBob’s new alarm clock, yelling place of the foghorn. It doesn’t completely make up for his actions, and these events are most likely gonna be reset for future episodes, but this is a really nice way to end the episode. It redeems Patrick for an over the top joke they made with him, fixes SpongeBob’s issue in a funny way, and has them both bond over it and spend a little more time together every morning. It’s really sweet, and the cherry on top of this surprisingly great episode.

And the jokes are surprising too. My favourite has to be Mr Krabs wondering how to emphasise his “or else”s, shifting between a furrowed brow and a finger wag for emphasis. Squidward loving the idea of SpongeBob being dead is a bit overboard, like in Gary’s Got Legs, but I love how his face completely changes depending on how sure Mr Krabs is about SpongeBob’s safety, in the scene where they’re outside his bedroom door. It’s a little touch that adds to the scene. The insane scope of the RGF machine SpongeBob makes for himself is also pretty funny, and I was surprised to hear it complimented by a Hawaiian rendition of the Raymond Scott Powerhouse music. It’s odd since it’s been associated with so many of SpongeBob’s “rivals”, Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, Cartoon Network etcetera, but it’s an RGF, they had to include it.

And the animation for the machine is so fun, so elaborate and so well rhythmically timed, that even the scene of it being assembled is gorgeous. We don’t see it actually get built, but there’s a really shot of SpongeBob running in and out of his house to get parts, all done in silhouette against a rising sun. It really raises the hopefulness of the situation, that this could save SpongeBob’s job’s work hours. That’s to say nothing of the clock shop earlier in the episode, and the long, colourful shot of all the different clocks they made. Dang this episode’s beautiful! And the fire hydrant and punching bag alarms were funny ideas they used well, just thought I’d sneak them into this review.

SpongeBob is a lot more glum here than he’s been in a while, but you can understand why, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Krabs maybe could’ve been less intimidating for the warning he wanted to deliver, but I like how they play with his mannerisms for comedy. Squidward is more gleeful here than usual, really hoping for the worst for SpongeBob. It can be a bit much, but hey, this is the Squidward way of getting thrown a bone. Patrick’s routine with accidentally breaking the clock’s parts, then doing so intentionally after SpongeBob lets him, was already fine enough for him being attentive to his friend’s feelings and the joke being well-timed, but his actions in the ending really seal this as a solid Patrick performance. Lastly, that crazy clock salesman is fun too, but I observed that he’s part of a much larger trend. Have you noticed how many Season 12 one-offs are super zany? If it means more instances of the main characters looking and acting more realistic by comparison, I’m all for it.

So in conclusion, I really like this episode. It’s got a lot of “aha” moments, like they’re finally doing this and that after so long. It’s a good feeling when a comedy show can still entertain and surprise you after 450+ episodes by just doing what it does best. The surrealism is all fine, but this, like Stormy Weather, could fit right at home in Season 1 or 2, with some adjustments here or there. If SpongeBob ever ends, I might be reminded of this episode, and what it says about things that keep us going and we tend to take for granted. It’ll stick with me, day in, day out.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
King Plankton < Broken Alarm < Stormy Weather

Robots can have babies? Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Karen’s Baby (Season 12, Episode 9b)
Original Airdate: August 10 2019
Episode 479 in standard order, Episode 476 in airing order
Plot: Karen purchases a robot baby that grows up too quickly for her to process
Written by Ben Gruber
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

I was not expecting Karen expecting, but what was I expecting? Baby episodes in SpongeBob have had a mixed track record, with Rock-a-Bye Bivalve being their most notable example, and Squid Baby being their second most notable. Well this time, they made it about one of the female characters having a child, which is a far more traditional take on the concept than before. But of the female characters on the show, Sandy and Mrs Puff wouldn’t fit the bill, so Karen had to stand up to the plate and be a robot baby’s surrogate. Did it work? Well, there’s a glitch here and there, but I think they mostly did a fine job raising this episode.

After 9 months of waiting, Karen finally gets a baby delivered that she ordered online, and is very excited. Plankton however, either doesn’t want it, or didn’t even know about it until today, so I’m not too mad at him for not wanting it. He’s a busy man, and Karen, without even using some of her husband’s DNA, just got a baby. When a robot stork comes around, he tries to use the Chum Bucket’s hand as defense, but the stork came prepared with a laser. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d say, and it’s one of the best jokes of the episode.

The baby turns up as a calculator, and Karen names it Chip after her grandfather. To her credit, Karen raises him well enough through early childhood, typing 55554 (shhhh) to calm it down, giving it room to walk, and seeing it upgrade into an adding calculator. Plankton still doesn’t like the kid, but Karen’s doing the best she can in raising Chip. That is until she takes him to an arcade, and he plays a violent video game that warps him into an angsty game console. I can’t tell if it’s just the machine they went to was one of those deceptively cutesy shock games, or if Chip was messing with the code to let some rage out, but since this is the only time I’ve ever seen a shooter actually assist a child through puberty, I don’t need a rulebook for this whole episode to work.

Chip’s life as a teenage robot goes south pretty quickly. He gets into a fight with Karen, who then gets him to have a man-to-man talk with Plankton, whose advice is to run away. This is exactly what Chip wanted to hear it seems, but he soon finds a gang of robots to join. Only catch, he has to get one of his parts forcibly removed by them, that’s their dirty symbol of sorts. Meanwhile, Karen chastises Plankton for convincing Chip to run away, and threatens mortal kombat on him if he doesn’t immediately go find him. Making Karen this angry at Plankton in any other situation is one thing, but in an episode where I’m supposed to buy that she’s a loving mother, yeesh this part feels ugly.

So Plankton goes looking for Chip in his tank (like we all would), and ends up getting tangled in the gang too. Chip manages to escape their grasp however, and comes back with an ice cream machine, even saying his first English words “Leave my dad alone”. That’s all well and nice, and it ends in a sweet-ish note too, with Chip upgrading into a monitor on wheels like Karen and going to college. The last we see of him is as an ATM machine at the bank, messign with Mr Krabs’ money. I don’t know if this makes him an evil ATM machine, but this strange, unfocused plot managed to have an ending that leaves you happy.

This is a Karen episode, so obviously they’re going to make a lot of jokes about computers. Some are pretty good, like typing numbers that look like letters upside down into a calculator (something Karen’s had prior experience doing as a baby in Goo Goo Gas), and Karen’s grandfather just being a microchip. Others are more than strange, like Chip blurting out a loud noise in place of profanity, even though he does some dolphin noises later on. The best jokes are very early in the episode, the robot laser-shooting stork, and SpongeBob, canned applause in tow, getting Karen and Chip compressed air for a baby shower. That’s cute, and was a good use for SpongeBob in this episode.

There’s a lot to take in with Chip’s character design, since it keeps changing based on the stage of life he’s at. My favourite would be his teenager mode, since it’s like a walking Nintendo Switch (that drifts). But my least favourite would be toddler mode, a calculator with fat baby limbs isn’t something I needed to see. I thought the designs of the other robots were neat, and I liked how their latest victim appears to be a fourth generation iMac from the 2000s. I guess it needed to look a little retro to justify being thrown out. Animation is definitely colourful all around, from the video game Chip plays with, to those weird weapons Karen materialised when threatening Plankton.

I think that’s my biggest complaint with the episode, I don’t like Karen in it. While she has shown mood swings before, they go very extreme here, from her being so happy she acts silly, to me wondering what crawled up her exhaust fan. Plankton also isn’t very sympathetic here, given how neglectful he is of Chip well into his teen years, but I like how much of a dad he acts as after getting him back. But I don’t blame him for not caring much for Chip, because he’s way more of a prop than a character. Maybe his CPU’s still developing, but it doesn’t do anything of his own accord until the climax, and doesn’t talk until then either. Making him the robot equivalent of a bank accountant also came from thin air.

This episode was fine enough. It had a good idea, I don’t even mind them “adding a baby” to the main cast when it’s done like this, but the execution was half-baked, or stuck in the beta stage. The story has a throughline, but doesn’t want to follow it, and the characters were weaker than they should’ve been for a story about life. Chip’s another addition to the Chum Bucket family that I wouldn’t mind seeing return. He hasn’t got the same hook as Spot, but who knows, they’ll probably do something neat with him later down the line. Hopefully he’s voiced by XÆA12.

Final Verdict: 6/10 (Okay)
FarmerBob < Karen’s Baby < One Trick Sponge

I better not sleep on getting tomorrow’s review out. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,646
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Shell Games (Season 12, Episode 10a)
Original Airdate: March 7 2020 (produced in 2019)
Episode 480 in standard order, Episode 492 in airing order
Plot: The sea turtle that’s been sleeping in Patrick’s rock for 30 years has finally woken up
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

Ey, wassamatter withis episode, takin’ so long to air? This was another one that tickled my fancy as soon as I read the synopsis. Patrick’s rock getting a backstory wasn’t what I was expecting to see, but making it a turtle’s shell was worth an eyebrow raise. I can’t recall if they’d ever encountered turtles before, so this is a new culture they were implementing into Bikini Bottom too. Do turtles in real life have some sort of Italian American heritage? It seems like a nonsensical match-up. Nautical nonsense might be the name of the game it seems, but I still think they made a fun story out of these distant elements.

The first thing shown is the morning routine of a turtle named Tony. His man cave is messy and unkempt, as is he, but he overslept by 30 years. The only real clues that he’s been sleeping in a rock since the 70s & 80s (or 1990) are the hard rock posters he has lining the walls, but they give enough of a clue that he’s pretty old now, without dating the episode too much. Tony may have overdone the beauty sleep, but he’s got a busy day ahedavum, and opens his home’s tiny door and sticks his head out. And to the surprise of whatever kids are still watching SpongeBob on cable TV, his shell is Patrick’s rock. Not that it puts everything about the rock into a new context, but it’s a good feeling to finally get some closure on what this rock was, a really grimey turtle shell.

Mobile for the first time in 3 decades, although March 2020 was probably the worst possible time to reawaken after a rest that long, Tony takes his shell across town, but Patrick wakes up from his own slumber and has his morning nut on top of it. By that I mean Patrick snacks on a walnut before breakfast, get your mind out of the gutter. It takes a while for them to notice each other, but when they do, they get into a tiff over who this dome belongs to. Both have made it their home for at least a few hundred months, so who do you side with? I’d honestly side with Patrick on this, but that’s only because I’ve known him longer, and this is a change to the status quo that could land him without a house. Not that Tony shouldn’t be surprised, but who here’s been doing the living for so long?

Patrick glues himself to the top of the rock, protesting his eviction, so Tony just goes on with his day, getting a shave from the manliest hair salon in town, and meeting some lady turtles at Goo Lagoon, all the while Patrick continues to be a bother. The barber can’t get Patrick off his shell with a come and razor, despite his best efforts, and the chicks at the beach find him cute and gawk over him, leaving Tony in the dust. I think it’s great that Patrick isn’t doing anything stupidly destructive just yet, we just have Tony putting up with him and getting angry with his luck. Plus if my lover was 30 years late for a date, I’d eventually love their “parasite” more than them.

On top of wrecking Tony’s day, Patrick then decide to wreck “his new attic”, breaking some of the vinyls and posters out of sheer stupidity. Okay, now Tony has a perfectly good reason to boil up and get into a scuffle with the starfish. And a scuffle they get into, all across Bikini Bottom, until the shell smashes into a rock and breaks. Sad, cold, homeless, and the chicks having vomoosed, Patrick and Tony apologise to one another, and think of a solution that makes them both happy. They just use Squidward’s house as a rock/shell, which I guess Squidward needed after celebrating it leaving earlier in the episode. This is a nice ending, but maybe Patrick and Tony became friends to quickly, or is it saying tough guys like Tony are really softies on the inside?

Now, a lot of the humour in Shell Games is derived from Italian American slang and mannerisms. I don’t know a lot about that stuff, but I was often entertained by what they could pull from it. Only their weird, new interpretation for “vamoose” as a van/moose hybrid knocked it out of the park, but the others certainly makes the rest of the episode’s dialogue more colourful. SpongeBob has one single appearance again, making Patrick an order at the Krusty Krab before it’s demolished, which is funny enough for me to not feel bad that he’s just been used for single jokes for the past two episodes now.

I can tell they’ve been saving up all their turtle jokes for some time now, because there’s a hefty amount of visual gags here. They screw around with the shell a lot near the end, having Patrick peek out the other end, and making it spin across town like a Koopa Troopa shell during the fight. I also like the scene of the barber (Mel) trying to get rid of Patrick using his haircutting tools, and the general dumpy look of the inside of the shell. It really hasn’t been touched up in decades. I like the Fissh poster, but I have questions about the Lynyrd Squidyrd poster. Did Squidward have a rock star phase, or this is another octopus?

Now as a character, Tony isn’t too shabby. He feels snappier than most of the others, but he’s a turtle, and his personality doesn’t completely fit the cutesy world of the show. So in that regard, he works well as a foil to Patrick, who’s also pretty good. When it comes to his destructive side, he doesn’t always have the best reasons for his actions, but at least he has reasons. This is a weird situation he’s in, and he deserves to act out if his home’s on the line. I don’t know how to feel about the lady turtles. We never see them being interested in Tony, due to the lack of flashbacks to before their long wait at the beach, and they seem to wanna have fun in other ways, like petting Patrick and hopping on the vanmoose. They weren’t my favourites, but they had their purpose. Mel on the other hand, can do a good shave, I’ll say that much right here right now.

I think the thing I like the best about Shell Games is that it hardly feels like a SpongeBob episode. It’s like its own cartoon about a turtle waking up after a 30 year sleep, with Patrick along for the ride. You see Tony’s world, his friends, his life, and that makes him one of the most developed characters of the twelfth season so far. It could’ve been funnier, and brought more SpongeBob characters into the mix, but for a strange new idea that also introduces a new species to the show, it stands on its own pretty well. I don’t expect Tony to return, given how integral the rock is to Patrick’s image, and how he’s voiced by a guest star, so how’s about we pretend we didn’t see nothin’ and move on?

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
One Trick Sponge < Shell Games < King Plankton

If you liked the parts here of old(ish) people bickering, wait until you see tomorrow’s romp. Goodbye for now.
 

JoeyBoi

aw heck naw spunch bob took 40 benadryls
Joined
May 13, 2020
Messages
217
Location
Weenie Hut Jr's.
So so far:

1 Spongy
3 Great
3 Good
5 Okay
4 Average
1 Weak
1 Bad

Bad (3)
19. The Nitwitting
18. Insecurity Guards
Weak (4)
17. Pineapple RV
Average (5)
16. Swamp Mates
15. Squid's On a Bus
14. The Krusty Slammer
13. Gary's Got Legs
Okay (6)
12. The Ballad of Fifthly Muck
11. Plankton's Old Chum
10. Sandy's Nutty Nieces
9. Farmerbob
8. Karen's Baby
Good (7)
7. One Trick Sponge
6. Shell Games
5. King Plankton
Great (8)
4. Broken Alarm
3. Stormy Weather
2. The Krusty Bucket
Spongy (9)
1. Gary and Spot

Average rating right now is exactly 6
 
Top