Re-Evaluating my opinions on SpongeBob Season 1-8

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Senior Discount (Season 12, Episode 10b)
Original Airdate: July 6 2019
Episode 481 in standard order, Episode 470 in airing order
Plot: Mr Krabs has to figure out a way to kick Old Man Jenkins out of the Krusty Krab
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Michelle Bryan, Alan Smart and Tom Yasumi

I’ll stand by Old Man Jenkins being a welcome addition to the tertiary cast. If they want to make jokes about old people’s issues, so be it. Whether they reflect the show’s age, or the age of the writers and animators that have stuck around this long, he doesn’t feel like an out of place addition at the 12 season mark. But unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled by this episode’s depiction of him being a crude moocher, the first time I watched, and now after a few more whirls. I’m pretty young, so I don’t think I should be critical on behalf of the senior citizens this episode digs at, but I can tell I won’t like this one more as I get older.

Things seem to be going great today at the Krusty Krab. The customers are happy, Mr Krabs has a ton of money to count, and his employees are doing their regular jobs without much hassle. That all changes when Old Man Jenkins comes around to do his usual routine. He orders one small coffee for a half-cent using his senior discount privilege, slurps a condiment soup he makes in his beard from the condiment isle, and plays loud music until all the other customers get annoyed by him. Whenever they tell him to scram, he just yells at them to respect their elders, and goes back to his odd routine. No doubt, this annoys Mr Krabs, and clearly hurts days where business is booming.

So the old “moving the elephant” cartoon plot ensues, I don’t have a better name for it. Mr Krabs tries everything he can to get Jenkins off the premises. He’s no hippie, but the Krusty Krab’s still better off without him. Plan A- Yell and shake Jenkins until he leaves. This fails because it makes him look bad to the rest of the customers. Aren’t they annoyed by Jenkins too though? Shouldn’t they be egging him on like the living mob they are? Plan B- Let SpongeBob talk to him. Only SpongeBob’s won over by his sob stories and is too kind to make him leave. These aren’t exclusively old people issues, but there’s three more plans following this.

Plan C- Krabs does the unthinkable, and touches the thermostat! He turns the heat up tremendously, to the discomfort of many of the Krustomers, but Jenkins ironically finds it too cold. Instead of, oh I don’t know, turning the heat way down, Krabs initiates Plan D- playing heavy metal music on huge speakers to annoy him. He didn’t count on Jenkins’ being hard of hearing, the personal radio he carries around actually being a toaster oven. Enough fooling around on both their behalfs, I see. Plan E should do the trick and end this for once. That involves Krabs getting his father involved, who’s older than Old Man Jenkins. He then pulls out Older Man Jenkins, who’s just a shorter and wrinkler version of himself, who doesn’t look very authoritative in his old age, but whatever. Comedic escalation ahoy...

Krabs and Jenkins whip out older and older family members, eventually conjuring spirits from beyond the grave (or in Krabs’ case, redoing Seance Shmeance and then going wild with the Poltergeist 3000 at the cemetery). I don’t know why Jenkins’ ancestors are red ghosts, or how Krabs has an Egyptian heritage, but what matters is that these two are now the youngest folks in the Krusty Krab by a long shot, and are thrown out by the ghosts so they can party. So Krabs and Jenkins...bond over getting kicked out, and bother Plankton at the Chum Bucket instead. Weren’t these two mortal enemies 20 seconds prior to this? I could understand last episode’s quick resolution, but this just throws a lot of the episode’s buildup away for the sake of forgiveness. It’s nice, but after 10 minutes of bickering and fighting, it’s not the most fitting resolution.

The story got a little big for its britches, but the comedy could work sometimes. Some of the annoying stuff Jenkins does is just that, pretty dang annoying, and the routine of him being amazingly stubborn starts off fine but is played out. My favourite jokes have to do with SpongeBob, strange since this is the 3rd episode in a row that’s otherwise light on him. I like how he kicks Squidward in the back of the head repeatedly while dashing back through the window into the kitchen, something Krabs repeats later on, his description of Jenkins as he’s coming to the Krusty Krab, and how won over he is by Jenkins’ sob stories. Only SpongeBob can believe a man takes so many pills that they’re more pill than man.

Animation is a hodgepodge too, there are a few visual gags that I chuckled at (RIP Krustomer made of wax), but some of them were a bit nasty, like Krabs screaming and showing a crud ton of gum, the whole thing of Jenkins drinking a condiment soup from his beard, and there are a couple oddities with the colours and ethnicites of all the ghosts. You go from Ancient Egypt to Early Modern England to Modern America? Ancestry is a scam! Also I know it’s the joke, but their great grandfathers look like they’re pushing 150 and don’t want to be in the land of the living anymore. And Grandpappy’s pink now, I guess he’s done too much adventuring since we last saw him.

So there’s a whole mess of new crab and old fish characters to theorise about, like Mr Krabs’ dad who only gets one line (though I like how he sounds like how Krabs did in 1999), and the return of Grandpappy who only gets one line, and they didn’t get Dennis Quaid back to voice him for it. I shouldn’t be too underwhelmed, this is one big old comedic routine after all. Maybe I’m drawn to them because Mr Krabs himself isn’t anything special here, and neither is Old Man Jenkins. Typical portrayals of them are better than atypical any day of the week, but they weren’t very funny since the story they went through wasn’t very interesting. I should reiterate that I liked SpongeBob here, and I didn’t mind Squidward and Plankton’s little bit parts.

I feel like I’m missing something here, like I’m too young to really get invested in the jokes and dynamics they make here. That said, I don’t think I’ll find it any more entertaining as a 91 year old than as a 19 year old. The story stops and goes, there weren’t many characters I liked seeing onscreen, and Old Man Jenkins was funnier when he did stuff you wouldn’t expect an old man to do. Maybe a part of me is comparing it negatively to There’s a Sponge In My Soup, which had a similar structure but was far more energetic and creative, in that way I’m paying far more respect to the elder episode. This episode left an impact on me in that way, heh.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Swamp Mates < Senior Discount < Squid’s On a Bus

I’ve decided to go on a short break, much shorter than last time I promise, after Big Birthday Blowout, so mind the gap in reviews then. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Mind the Gap (Season 12, Episode 11a)
Original Airdate: September 14 2019
Episode 482 in standard order, Episode 477 in airing order
Plot: Squidward discovers that SpongeBob’s singing improves drastically when the gap in his buckteeth is closed
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

SpongeBob’s buckteeth are one of those aspects to his design that’s kind of overlooked, and almost a total relic of Stephen Hillenburg’s early ideas. Buckteeth are generally associated with dorks and geeks, and SpongeBob rarely has any dorky or geeky tendencies. Jellyfishing and superheroes perhaps, but the former isn’t real and the latter has become a way more mainstream interest since the 90s. So once more, I can see the Season 12 creative team scanning all the elements of the show that are kind of weird but we just accept, and making a story challenging that element and its original use. These are some of the episodes this season I give the most attention to, and Mind the Gap is certainly an episode where that pays off.

You know those episodes that start with a slow day at the Krusty Krab? This is one of those. SpongeBob doesn’t mind whistling while cooking some patties, much to the annoyance of Squidward. Somehow I travelled back in time to 2005, because what follows is Squidward teasing SpongeBob, by warning him not to do something annoying. It’s not his laugh box this time, rather his buckteeth that allow him to whistle. His method of closing the gap between them is to surgically push them together with a drill! Least favourite thing about the episode, right away, is how ruthless it can be to teeth. It definitely would’ve scared me when I was younger, seeing two of the most famous teeth on television getting drilled together, and it still unnerves me a bit now.

With the gap closed, SpongeBob’s voice sounds significantly smoother, and he acts cooler too, optimg out of whistling like a dork, more obsessed with scat singing like a cool cat. This gets everyone’s attention, including Squidward’s, who can’t believe what’s happened to the sponge, but takes it upon himself to use this to his advantage. He takes SpongeBob to a jazz club he likes, in hopes they would fit in better with SpongeBob’s newfound talent. It takes a while for the denizens of the Blow Your Top Lounge to trust them, but as soon as SpongeBob gets on stage, everyone loves it. Things seem to be going well, there’s more lively music in Bikini Bottom, and SpongeBob’s meeting new people, but this is rather exploitative of Squidward. How will the episode beat him down?

The catch with SpongeBob’s teeth is that they don’t stay together very long, so Squidward has to give him better teeth in various ways. Stealing some guy’s dentures is the first plan, but shutting the gap with cement is used twice. Of course putting cement in your mouth isn’t imitatable behaviour, but it does still give some icky images that make Squidward look worse. The BYTL-goers don’t quite understand why SpongeBob’s voice changes all the time, but they still love it when it’s cool. SpongeBob’s having fun there, though I don’t know if it’s a mental thing too, because he changes looks and movements whenever the gap is widened again. It probably is, you don’t get your teeth drilled or cemented together without some level of trauma.

Things go from tricky to dicky for Squidward on the second night, where he tries to join in on SpongeBob’s performance with a surprise clarinet solo, but he gets kicked out for not being cool enough. He can’t get to SpongeBob in time for the gap to appear again, by which point the performance is pretty much over and crowd loves him so that they don’t mind. But SpongeBob whistles his way out of irrelevance, and whistling sponteously becomes the newest trend for the beatniks in the club to imitate. I’m kind of happy that it ends with SpongeBob being SpongeBob and everyone enjoying it, but I’m a little concerned with everyone breaking their teeth so they can whistle through a gap like SpongeBob.

This episode’s more violent than it needed to be, honestly. I’d expect an episode about a smooth singer at a jazz club to prioritise chill, more observational jokes. Those are here, but take a backseat to the story, whose jokes aren’t exactly appropriate for this locale, though that might be the intention. I don’t know why, but Patrick randomly appearing from some guy’s pink ice cream at the club, got a laugh out of me. As if it was his turn to be Mr Cameo. This one is reaching and is more meta, but I also like how Tom Kenny’s credited as “SpongeBob” and “Cool SpongeBob”, as if they’re such different personas. And to be reasonable, Tom did an incredible job at not sounding like SpongeBob. I just wonder who voiced “Jerry Lewis SpongeBob”.

Tooth destruction aside, I’m definitely a fan of the visuals here. My favourite moment has to be the living music sheet at the beginning, with the notes massaging Squidward’s head, then acting as headphones. Coupled with the great singing, it’s a very comfortable set of gags. Some others at the club that won’t slip the radar are SpongeBob’s first entrance into it, literally being cool as ice, and Squidward calling him a square later on, as in a loser and a cubic being. The animators were also keen on making SpongeBob’s buckteeth huge throughout the episode, to really emphasise the different modes he shifs between. This episode was probably made to jam into new animators’ heads once and for all that there is a gap, and it makes a huge difference. Something to put on the model sheet.

SpongeBob as a character with personal traits and motivations, is basic here but perfectly understandable. He just wants to sing his heart out, and performing for a new audience is an added bonus. I choose to think his brain changes a bit depending on if the gap is closed, but not enough to consider him a different character, the base is still there. Squidward has a relatable motivation, fitting in with what he thinks is his kin, but takes on a more antagonistic role, choosing to exploit SpongeBob’s hidden talent for his own personal gain. That makes his punishments more well-earned, when he is a bad egg. None of the club-goers really stuck out to me, unfortunately. Maybe that’s the point, to show how when you fit in you disappear or something, but that’s a reach.

My feelings about this episode are complicated, but at large I really like it. There are little things about it that I take personal issue with, like how teeth are glass by the end, but I just had a good time listening to Cool SpongeBob’s singing. I’ve seen other cartoons, especially other NickToons, with episodes about characters becoming really good jazz singers, and they’re always a treat. SpongeBob’s take on Cartoon Plot #311 still felt original, and kept me guessing what would happen next. That calls for teeth chattering applause.

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
King Plankton < Mind the Gap < The Krusty Bucket

It’s good to see Season 12’s ratings get cleaner over the past few days, but will it lapse back into dirtiness? Tune in tomorrow to find out. Same Employee thread, not the same AMillion time. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Dirty Bubble Returns (Season 12, Episode 11b)
Original Airdate: November 23 2019
Episode 483 in standard order, Episode 485 in airing order
Plot: The Dirty Bubble is reformed into a nicer, cleaner bubble, but will snap back on a dime whenever there’s grime
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

The Dirty Bubble wasn’t one of Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy’s most intimidating foes. While he did pose a threat, he was thwarted easily in his first appearance, acted like a blabbermouth in his second, then he became a paddle ball champion. Like all the other villains, I have a soft spot for him, but always felt they could do more with him. I mean he’s the embodiment of ocean pollution, he has to put lives at stake somehow. Well, I finally got my wish. Now that Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy have been retired, they decided to see how well the Dirty Bubble can stand on his own. Way, way better than Man Ray last season, that’s for sure.

The episode kicks off with a news report from Realistic Fish Head and Perch Perkins, reporting the Dirty Bubble’s latest dirty tricks. He’s seen at the Bikini Bottom Power Plant, threatening through rhyme to a crowd to eat a police officer (AKA, Ms Gristlepuss’ husband from Banned in Bikini Bottom), then later Perch. His threats fall on concerned but deaf ears, as he’s caught in giant police bubble wands and trapped in a bottle. After 6 months in prison, he’s cleaned up his act and behaves much nicer, which is probably why we don’t see him very often. If it takes that long to reform him, no wonder he had the time to invent and patent the Dirty Bubble Challenge.

The police warn the new Clean Bubble to stay clean, or he’ll get mean, and assign him his new job at the Krusty Krab where he’ll be...the dishwasher? It seems Mr Krabs needs a living bubble to do the dishes more efficiently than a busy sponge, so he’s forced to do something that could make him evil again. He does introduce himself to SpongeBob before then (as D.B.), so when he does begin to relapse while doing those dishes, SpongeBob can learn about this weakness of his, and figure out how to reverse it before he’s completely changed, spraying him with water. I guess that’s how it works. Why else would the police lock him up instead of spraying him? Probably because if he gets dirty enough or stays dirty long enough, that’s when the effects aren’t immediately reversable. I’m injecting useless logic into a story about a cartoon bubble, that’s where I’m at in life!

What’s important is that SpongeBob knows how to calm the bubble down and make him nice again, which is a good thing to know before Mr Krabs assigns him restroom cleaning duty. There’s another close shave where the Dirty Bubble returns, but SpongeBob’s able to turn him back into the Clean Bubble before he goes beyond “mischevious”. A fish gets stuck in a toilet, but he’s a fish, he’ll survive in water. And SpongeBob and the Clean Bubble become close friends, SpongeBob always looking out for him and keeping him sparkling clean at every possible moment. More than a break from crime and a fresh coat of light blue ink and paint, it really seems like this bubble just needed a friend that could keep him on the right path.

After a few weeks pass, it seems the Clean Bubble has been completely rehabilitated by SpongeBob...then Patrick just has to come along, flick some belly button lint onto him, which is so foul that it undoes everything. I have a lot of praises for this episode, but bringing back the “Patrick does something dumb to effect the plot then leaves” crutch isn’t one of them. I still like the climax, where the Dirty Bubble gets stronger and dirtier than ever, even consuming SpongeBob and attempting to absorb the goo from Goo Lagoon. But SpongeBob manages to absorb everything, much like how he did when he was a spongeguard on duty, turning the Dirty Bubble into a tiny, defenseless bubble that’s easily taken in by the police. While it’s unfortunate that the Clean Bubble’s guaranteed to always fall back into villainy (even if Patrick hadn’t turned up, he’d have gotten dirty again somehow), it isn’t called Dirty Bubble Returns for nothing. You tune in to see the Dirty Bubble return, not the Dirty Bubble redemption arc.

I’m willing to ignore the late, arbitrary inciting incident and possible plotholes, because this was an interesting story for various reasons, and a funny episode. The opening scene has such weird, awkward dialogue for a hostage crisis, and the Dirty Bubble’s more vulgar rhyme got a kick out of me. He mentioned the religious section of Davy Jones’ Locker, he must be a villain! In general, the rhyming scheme was an amusing hook to the episode and its interpretation of the Dirty/Clean Bubble. The best visual gag had to be when the Dirty Bubble snatched the “dirty looks” off the face of a school teacher and Perch Perkins, soon after sissy-fying a pirate at a pub. The bit of him cleaning some kids who were playing in mud, and that’s what makes them sad, isn’t bad either.

As for all the crazy animation they could do with bubbles, there’s plenty of simple but mesmorising stuff. Bubbles are essentially really fragile balls, and balls are easy to animate, but really fun to watch. They get a lot of mileage out of this, making him squash and stretch when he laughs, and playing with his size, making him upstage or get upstaged by the more complex designs around him depending on the situation. As for his design as the Clean Bubble, I like it. It’s got this hokey retro mascot feel to it that makes rhyming and shot at redemption feel more ironic coming out of a supervillain. There is some gross-out, due to the nature of the episode being about dirt and filth, but it’s all nondescript brown and green gunk, which makes it easier to swallow, that is if you’re willing to swallow it. There’s also a still montage made with a comic book aesthetics, printed dots and all. It looks nice, but I forgot about it before too long. I need to read more comic books, my brain’s rotting by the minute.

I’m really proud that this episode gave a (nearly) 20 year old character like the Dirty Bubble new goals, personality traits and abilities without any trouble. Of course there’d be a part of him that doesn’t want to be dirty, and some of his superpowers like rubbing people’s faces off their heads and producing mini clones of himself, are definitely things bubbles can do...the former depending on their acidity. This is also a really good outing for SpongeBob, he seems smart, strong, and willing to help out his new friend. There’s even a bit where he lampshades the writers only remembering his absorbency once in a blue moon. I’d say that’s where he’s starts getting too smart, but looking at tomorrow’s episode, I’ll savour every little bit of it.

In terms of everyone else, I was happy to see Perch Perkins, the Scottish policewoman and Al Priss of all characters return, and benefit the humour of the scenes they were in, but Krabs and Patrick’s roles seemed a little more forced, Patrick’s especially. This is the first time in years he just caused a problem then left. I guess him saying the Dirty Bubble seems so happy to be dirty adds to the narrative somewhat, the implication that a permanently Clean Bubble is a pipe dream, and that he really just wants to be dirty and cause trouble.

As a silly story that goes to strange places and makes you laugh, this is pretty good. As a reintroduction to one of the least threatening villains in the SpongeBob canon, it’s even better. Not that this episode makes him the best of Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy’s former foes, Man Ray’s had far more endurance, but supervillain backstories and motivations are all the rage these days, so I can see this episode appealing to way more people than just me. We might never see the Clean Bubble again, due to its very one-off nature, and ecological implications in the real world, but Dirty Bubble Returns is one episode I’ll always stay clean on, never mean.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
The Krusty Bucket < Dirty Bubble Returns < Broken Alarm

I just know tomorrow’s episode is going to sting a lot. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Jolly Lodgers (Season 12, Episode 12a)
Original Airdate: March 7 2020 (produced in 2019)
Episode 484 in standard order, Episode 493 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick bother Squidward, but at a hotel this time
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

I don’t feel the need to drone on again about how little I like or care about the “Annoy Squidward” genre of SpongeBob episodes in Season 12. This isn’t the worst they’ve ever been, or the most frequent (compared to five in the first half of Season 6, there’s only four here), but this is Season 12! They mean almost nothing to me compared to the other story ideas they’ve developed and put to good use. Sandy and Karen’s families were extended, Gary and Spot have become good friends, and even the Dirty Bubble got more fleshed out yesterday. Why must every 11 minutes of Squidward’s life still be filled with misery?

The story gets underway right away, with Squidward moving out of his house for a few days. It’s being gassed to kill the urchin’s that’ve infested it, which have done so because two of his neighbours keep feeding it. Already I can tell this is going to be one where SpongeBob and Patrick are never helpful to Squidward, and never try to be. In fact, they get all the urchins out by forming conga lines with them, so Squidward’s house is just being gassed for no good reason. But at least Squidward’s getting to stay at a fancy, potentially expensive place called Hotel Halibut in the meantime. Will they deny this guest’s most ridiculous request? If that’s peace and quiet, then of course!

At the hotel, Squidward’s greeted by a very eccentric shark at reception. Maybe a little too eccentric, teasing Squidward with half-truths. He still gets a key and a room, and begins to relax. That relaxation doesn’t last very long, as SpongeBob and Patrick run through his room, at the moment just for the heck of it. When Squidward sees them getting him room service however, they reveal that they’re here for a jellyfishing convention, and they’ve got the two rooms right next to him, repeating the setup back on Conch Street. So fundamentally, there’s nothing new really going on here. It’s just reaffirming why Squidward doesn’t like them, but in the place with free soap.

The plot’s already very derivative, but it doesn’t get any more organised with time. SpongeBob and Patrick somehow got jobs as bellboys from Frank Nelshark, did exactly one errand, then spend the next wee while bothering Squidward. Nothing really happens in this portion of the episode, it’s just SpongeBob and Patrick randomly appearing to make Squidward scream and dash off in different parts of the hotel. It culminates in a Shining parody, with SpongeBob and Patrick standing in for the twins at the end of the long hallway. Haven’t they already done this reference in the second movie? Well at least they didn’t have the ice creams randomly spawning around the victim, that’s the extra leg they added to the joke here. And Mrs Puff.

Then against the duo’s warnings, Squidward enters the JellyCon floor room, unwittingly getting carried around and toyed with by more jellyfishing fanatics. After being put through jellyfish heck and back, he devises a plan to sneak out using a jellyfish costume, instead of, y’know, sneaking out without the jellyfish costume. But that proves to be a bad idea, since he’s getting more attention now, as people wearing jellyfish costumes are meant to chase and sting the attendees. Now Squidward does get to sting them, but then he calls the exterminators to gas the hotel, and stays in there with a gas mask to finally get some peace and quiet. There were better ways to obtain that, and definitely better ways for this story to be funny. I hardly remember the order events happen in, character motivations, or the points of whole sequences.

Jolly Lodgers seemed to be really banking on the jokes, but the most amusing thing here is the episode’s title. I thought it was a fun play on the Jolly Roger, even though said flag never appears in the episode. I also did like how Mrs Puff randomly appears for a second during Squidward’s routine of seeing SpongeBob and Patrick everywhere. Maybe injecting Mrs Puff into these episodes is the new gimmick? Who knows. But nothing else here was as funny. I’m against Patrick being too dumb to remember Squidward’s name, and the stuff with the conga lines wasn’t a fraction as hilarious to me as it was to the crew.

The animation here, to its credit, is very bouncy and attention-grabbing, but this a super zany new episode’s super zany new episode. The movements and reactions are constantly over-exaggerated, which is either gonna really bother you the whole way through, or you’ll get used to it and none of it will leave any real impact. Exaggeration is an important principle of animation, no doubt, but so is appeal. I did enjoy seeing all the background references at JellyCon, like the return of Kevin, Dr Manowar and Big Lenny from I’m Your Biggest Fanatic, and the dragon jellyfish from Dunces and Dragons. The show has a rich history of jellyfishing that this episode doesn’t really add to, but it has fun with it. I guess Dr Manowar’s accomplishment of surviving Big Lenny isn’t very impressive after 19 years.

I couldn’t with SpongeBob and Patrick here. There isn’t a whole lot separating them from being the same character here. The only trait I can think of that Patrick has and SpongeBob hasn’t, it forgetting who Squidward is for no reason. Like most episodes following this template half the series ago, I was feeling bad for Squidward in the first half of the episode, but him sort of succumbing to the madness in the climax wasn’t worth seeing. He got what he wanted, but I didn’t feel much sympathy for him. The receptionist is one of those loopy one-offs that Season 12 loves so much (though his design’s reused from the boat salesman from Drive Happy), but that simply doesn’t work when everything else around him is equally loopy.

So yeah, along with my usual gripes with this episode format having long since run its course, it feels like this particular one doesn’t want to exist. It’s not the worst ever made, not even the worst of this season, but it’s a full-blown parody of the Annoy Squid template at best, and the ultimate sign that no one really cares about making or watching these episodes anymore at worst. I mean no offense to anyone reading this who worked on this episode, at least it’s a presentable, inoffensive, and finished product, but you’ve worked on plenty of much better episodes of SpongeBob than this, and I’d be much prouder of those than the 67th in a long line of hit or miss romps. Be warned, make two more, and I get a free coupon.

Final Verdict: Weak (4/10)
Insecurity Guards < Jolly Lodgers < Pineapple RV

One more episode before the show’s 20th anniversary special? Gosh it’s getting old. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Biddy Sitting (Season 12, Episode 12b)
Original Airdate: February 15 2020 (produced in 2019)
Episode 485 in standard order, Episode 491 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick babysit a really old lady they’ve probably seen before
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Michelle Bryan & Alan Smart

I’m not mad at all that they made an entire episode about my least favourite parts of an otherwise masterful episode. Chocolate With Nuts is a classic, I completely get why it’s a lot of people’s favourite of the whole show, but those old ladies drag it down a little for me. I’m just happy it’s remembered more for the other characters. But they thought there was a ton of untapped potential on those old ladies, and we’ve got a whole episode about them, in Season 12, where their sort of ugly, rambling humour would stick out like a cartoonish bump on the noggin. But I have to say, this episode isn’t too bad.

SpongeBob and Patrick have just started up a babysitting service, to spend more time with babies and get more money. They demonstrate their baby care abilities on Squidward, dressing him up in a diaper and bib, making him cry. This is Squid’s only appearance in the episode, thank goodness. But at least it shows that SpongeBob and Patrick know what they’re doing (well, SpongeBob does), so I’m not too worried when they take on responsibility for a woman’s sextet of children. And they do a bang up job. This scene isn’t all about the cute side of babysitting, diaper changing has this whole routine, but it doesn’t need to be glamorous. Sponge and Pat clearly have their work cut out for them, and are doing it well.

After their first stint, the mother is happy and they get a ton of cash, but their next customer seems a little older, and familiar. She says she has a baby that she seems to desperately want to get away from, and when SpongeBob and Patrick get to her house, it looks like some shrivelled up worm smothered in chocolate. They don’t seem to care that it looks almost nothing like a baby, which good on them for being so non-discriminatory, but it was naive of them to not question this strange situation. But they are naive, and they get into strange situations around 25 times a year, so it’s not like they’re being too stupid to still want to follow.

The baby can talk, and wants to break free, and SpongeBob and Patrick are easily outsmarted by it, when it makes them play Jailbreak. After 3 hours of biding their time in a jail cell made of blocks, they break out and stop the “baby” from leaving. SpongeBob runs a bath for the baby, but in the bathroom, discovers a birthday card for her 137th birthday. But by the time he alerts Patrick of this, he’s zoned out and let the “puppy” out. At least Patrick had a good reason to do a stupid thing, zoning out like he did seems confusing to experience and hard to snap out of.

SpongeBob and Patrick now start the hunt for this baby/old lady/puppy that they’re still by and large responsible for, but by all accounts, the story has ended. These last few minutes are a bunch of situations and gags- the old lady surfing down a volcano, SpongeBob and Patrick getting cleaned by some other old ladies in a seweing circle, the old lady leaving a boxing match and beating up SpongeBob and Patrick, before going to sleep. Don’t tell me how this is all connected, it feels like they were planning these scenes for a different story, then settled on the whole babysitting angle after a rewrite. These scenes aren’t bad, but they’re dissonant from the first two acts in tone and narrative, and dumped the bulk of the story at a home.

This is a pretty funny episode, no doubt. There are some that don’t appeal to me, like the Squid Baby call-back, but the majority of them are okay. I like how SpongeBob and Patrick were more dedicated to Jailbreak than the old lady, and how they call her “Baby Prunes”. Patrick zoning out and the old lady pretending to be a dog to get out was the best joke of the episode. I’ve never babysat before, and I obviously don’t remember being babysat as an actual baby, but this seems to hit upon the trials the job entails quite well. Patrick saying he thought it was about sitting on babies was lame though.

The animation and design work’s all-around good here. I like the rattle helmets SpongeBob and Patrick wear, I know what I’m putting on the title card for my Season 12 countdown video, and I like the mild redesign they gave the older lady, giving her a bigger head so she looks a tad more lively. The only sequence which has bothersome animation to me is the climactic pummelling. I sorta get why there’s a POV shot of the old lady spinning around, but why do SpongeBob and Patrick turn into semi-realistic versions of themselves with googly eyes? It makes the scene weirder than it needed to be.

Despite their naivete while babysitting a 137 year old, SpongeBob and Patrick are written pretty well here. They’re quirky but talented, and not far off from how they acted in Season 3, natural changes to the show’s tone aside. I’d struggle to say the old ladies are any more entertaining than they were 9 seasons ago. The younger one isn’t onscreen for very long but doesn’t act much different, while the older one is far more active and expressive. It makes me wonder why they even brought her back, but probably as another throwback, and to appease fans who just couldn’t get enough of them in their first appearance. No judging if you fit the bill.

That’s the thing, your base enjoyment of the episode and its idea will depend on if you wanted these characters to be brought back for their own story. I certainly didn’t, but it’s not like the episode was unfunny, poorly plotted, or made me dislike them more. There are some good things I can say about it, and there isn’t anything really wrong with it. The worst would probably be ‘nostalgic pandering’, but that’s buzzword talk that I disagree with in the case of SpongeBob. If you’ve got a rich past, it’s great if you can refresh some elements of it and add further depth to your franchise.

Final Verdict: 6/10 (Okay)
FarmerBob < Biddy Sitting < Karen’s Baby

Speaking of a rich past, tomorrow we’ll see how well the 2nd big anniversary special celebrates SpongeBob. Absolutely much better than last time, but just by how much? Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
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Location
Auckland, New Zealand
SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout (Season 12, Episode 13 and 14*)
Original Airdate: July 12 2019
Episode 486 in standard order, Episode 472 in airing order
*Tentative fan placement, time will tell where/if Nick places it in the packaging order
Plot: Patrick takes SpongeBob on a bus tour of the surface world, while the rest of his friends prepare a birthday party for him

Written by Kaz and Mr Lawrence
Animation Supervisors: Michelle Bryan, Alan Smart & Tom Yasumi
Storyboarders: Brian Morante & Fred Osmond

Wow, how awesome could this be? SpongeBob SquarePants’ Birthday Blowout. Well, it was a blowout alright, blow out your @ss!

Okay but seriously, a little history lesson. In 2009, during SpongeBob’s 6th season, Nickelodeon aired the TV movie Truth or Square, intended to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary. I say “intended” because it didn’t. It was a rushed, unfunny mess with phoned in guest stars and dull stories, and it hardly did anything to celebrate the series. It came off more as a parody of anniversary specials at best, and a mockery at worst. As the 20th anniversary of the show approached, another celebratory movie was a given, and I and many other fans urged Nick to do a better job for a more important milestone.

It seems our cries were answered, as when this one aired, pretty much everyone agreed it was a huge improvement. One of the best movies they’ve ever made? Probably. Best episodes? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This was a good TV movie, but that bar isn’t very high, so ever since I first saw it live on its premiere, I always felt like I’d eventually overrate it when I got to it. I’m not a betting man, I’ll say that much. Those fears were eased upon my revisit, it was a treat then, and is still really good now. There exist a few cuts of this episode that trim it down, but like with Atlantis SquarePantis and Truth or Square, I’m reviewing the extended cut with pretty much everything made for it. It wouldn’t be right to open half a present, would it?

Like most other specials, there’s more than one story to keep track of, and uniquely there’s three here- SpongeBob and Patrick going to Surface Land, Sandy preparing a surprise party for SpongeBob, and let’s just throw it in there, Patchy the Pirate delivering a birthday present to the party. When and where the different plots stop and start again is random, but a hell of a lot more organised than Truth or Square. There’s enough meat on each segment’s bones, and they flow in and out nicely. Still, I’ll review each plot separately, ordered by their length (and coincidentally enough, their starting points), with the shortest going first.

That being Patchy’s segments. It wouldn’t be a big SpongeBob event between 2000-2012 and 2017-present without him, and his material is pretty fun here. He’s heading down to Bikini Bottom in his boat-car, Potty the Parrot in tow, not really learning anything about SpongeBob being a fictional character last time his birthday rolled around. Taking Feral Friends into account however, where Patchy actively observed Sandy’s birthday party, perhaps they’ve retconned it so SpongeBob is a real thing in Patchy’s world. I like a few things about this right out the gate, namely how the tidal pool credits screen has been replaced with a brand new panning shot of Encino, that saves time and establishing things, and the banter between Patchy (Tom Kenny) and Potty (Mr Lawrence) couldn’t be more authentic for a mental cartoon-addicted pirate and his sassy parrot puppet.

The boat-car isn’t working, but Patchy has another plan to get to the sea, whipping out a tiny sail on his index finger and thumb to take him where the wind blows. It must be a strong gale today, because he’s simply blown away. A while later, we see him in the park riding a tricycle because [PURPOSE AND INTENT WITHHELD], then going to the Trusty Slab restaurant so Potty can use the potty. Not once does he question the familiarity of the owner (more on that later), but he probably already knows and is used to it by now. These little scenes don’t add much to his story, but they keep him a constant part of the episode I guess.

Later at the beach, he gets hassled by David Hasslehoff for seeming to run over his foot, and to further complicate matters, it seems his trike won’t make it to Bikini Bottom. So, spotting a cannon, he and Potty shoot themselves out to the iconic island, and that’s where I’ll leave their story for now. With the possible exception of their introductory scene, it’s a bunch of random scenes with no real throughline, but I’d take it any day of the week over throwing a tantrum over a collection of walk cycles, making burgers with a gorilla, moaning in the middle of a desert, or breaking into a film studio and harassing celebrities. These scenes are at least corny fun, and Patchy has a sensible motivation, but if you’re just not a fan of Patchy, they’re still not gonna be the highlight of the movie for you. I like them, but they’re not amazing.

Winding the clock back a bit to the morning, Gary and SpongeBob celebrate his birthday in the best way possible- in bed. SpongeBob’s already in a party mood, and Gary got him a new jellyfishing net made of slime. It doesn’t last long, but it’s the thought that counts. Meanwhile at Patrick’s rock, Sandy’s desperately trying to explain to him her plan for the birthday party. While he and SpongeBob go on a tour for the day, she and the other characters will prepare a party at his pineapple. As we’ll see soon, that’s about the extent of her planning, but so far things are going well. Patrick memorises the plan without even knowing it, though he brain eventually resets for thinking for too long, and Plankton nabs the key to SpongeBob’s house while the sponge is distracted. Isn’t there usually one under the mat?

The Party Pooper Pants comparisons will stop there, because this subplot is actually good. Sandy gets all SpongeBob’s closest friends together to decorate the party, Squidward, Mr Krabs, Plankton, Mrs Puff, Bubble Bass and herself. However, conflict soon bubbles up as they can’t agree on what the theme of the party should be. Sandy wants a karate theme, Mr Krabs wants a Krusty Krab theme, etcetera. So they all take dibs on 1/6th of the living room each, but some arguing still arises. This was a good way to show how varied SpongeBob’s life and circle of friends is (boating, superheroes, torture, you name it), and give them all something to do while the bigger adventure goes on, which is more than I can say for the first movie at least.

After this party planning panic, the guests start to arrive, and the rest of the subplot is just a feast for the eyes. You get so many returning characters like Princess Mindy, the Tattletale Strangler, Flatts, Larry, Zeus the Guitar Lord, and countless others to liven up the mood and make the party more visually stimulating. All the while, Sandy’s struggling to keep the party under control, but you know Bikini Bottom and its tendencies, they’re obviously going to party anyway. By the time SpongeBob’s house starts falling apart, it’s clear the bash is a bust, but I was still entertained by this little story.

Sandy doesn’t get to do anything by herself too often in the movies, so giving her her own episode essentially was nice to see. Her actions and worries are fun to see, even if they aren’t resolved when this plot merges with the others. The best thing however is just how many characters are here, interacting and offering chortles. My favourites would be Harold and Margaret SquarePants appearing for the first time in 8 years, only to eat fish food, and Fred visibly getting tired of the “My Leg” gag, especially when it’s forced out of him. I don’t expect them to stop making the gag, but it’s great they reminded themselves it should stay fresh.

Some other good stuff includes Tom buying one of Squidward’s paintings just to throw at some kid, and Bubble Bass believing he made Squidward vanish using a role-playing spell. It’s taken me this long to realise Bubble Bass is more or less a replacement for Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy for superhero/nerdy plot concepts, and I sense my critic card will be revoked soon. Least favourite thing about this plot would be the random gothic fish who eats all the cakes. He’s apparently a caricature of Peter Lorre, who I don’t think of when I think SpongeBob, but he’s barely the strangest reference this episode makes. All and all, this was a great portion of the movie, it brought back a ton of classic characters, and gave me a lot to see and enjoy.

And now, for the main event, something we’ve never seen before. SpongeBob and Patrick going on land! This time on a tour. While the others are prepping the party, SpongeBob and Patrick climb into a fish tank on wheels, and are greeted by their tour guide, Rube, the guy who says “amazing” a lot and may or may not exist. Neither of these things concerned me today, he fit the bill as a bubbly, informative tour guide quite nicely. Plus it supplies him something rare on this show, character development. It’s a beautiful sight to see a sightseer become the sight-show-er in a show like SpongeBob SquarePants. Amazing even.

The other tourists aren’t important, but one of them seems to be the little girl from Call the Cops, and when they shoot to “Surface Land”, they get a boost from Frenchise in his submarine, last seen together in Feral Friends. At the moment, it all feels like a celebration of the Post-Sequel era, which is nice, but they reached further back for their next reference, a cameo from David Hasslehoff. He gets knocked out of his canoe by the submarine, which contributes to his later desire to move to a volcano, believing it to be a safer place to live. That makes some sense, after so long, I don’t expect a cyborg like him to be comfortable around water.

Now is when things get loony. On the beach, the tank drives through a wild herd of giant, dancing, nearly naked giraffes, just minding their own time moving to rhythmic beats. That’s us! Aren’t we weird? Well we get a whole lot weirder when the Bean Festival comes to town, with Kel Mitchell (Nickelodeon’s earlier burger-flipper) hosting this bean mascot show where he throws a bunch of baked beans at the audience. If this is what All That was like back in the day, I don’t think I missed out on much. I don’t like baked beans, so a heap of them filling the tank, probably getting soggy, and Patrick eating them all made me churn. This is the grossest the movie gets, but most people wouldn’t be bothered by it as much as I was.

After Patrick eats all the beans, they run out of water, but Rube takes them to a beach shower to get hydrated again, and they’re on their way to the park to see more animals. One of those being a dog they think is a dragon. The dog they get chased by is pretty cute, I like Patrick trying to take its “flying disc”, remember they’re not allowed to say the brand, and the dog’s complicated life with her owner, with the owner sometimes playing fetch for her. It’s way easier to tell the dog’s a puppet when it’s standing up, but that’s part of the charm. If they got the dog to stand up, the animal care disclaimer at the end would feel less legitimate.

Now if you ever wanted to know where the gorilla suit people from I Had An Accident and Friend Or Foe came from, today’s your lucky day. One of the tank’s stops is at the paperclip jungle, an office building where one board room meeting comprises of the suits jumping around in gorilla masks. I choose to believe they just filmed a typical meeting at Viacom HQ, and nothing will tell me otherwise. But this is another pretty fun scene, wrapped in the sheer confusing insanity the original joke stemmed from, and closing out with a more satiric routine. All the businesspeople form a line and mindlessly rush to the nearest fast food joint, like they did in The Executive Treatment.

The tank’s penultimate stop is at The Trusty Slab, an all too familiar burger joint with human versions of the main cast. This was the most advertised portion of the movie, and while I was happy for the voice actors to get a chance to play their characters in motion, I was worried that would be the only joke, and that it would be one of the only features of the movie. I should just stop trusting SpongeBob movie trailers. This is just a little over 5 minutes long, but it’s an interesting bit while it lasts. Clancy Brown and Roger Bumpass fit the bill for a human Mr Krabs and Squidward, but Doug Lawrence was a bit too tall to be a Plankton, and Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke and Carolyn Lawrence are much older than SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy now. This stuff can’t be helped, and I guess it adds to the whole dorky fun of this scenario.

The actual story that transpires in the Trusty Slab is pretty run-of-the-mill for the show’s restaurant standards. Human Patrick stumbles with placing an order, annoying Manward and the customers, so Mr Slabs orders one for him. He then yells at JimBob to get on with cooking the patties, but JimBob would rather dance to prepare himself. One stinkeye later, and he’s cooking like there’s no tomorrow. SpongeBob wants to get a closer look at the Slabby Patties, but ends up in one, JimBob mistaking him for a piece of cheese. Patrick saves him by getting the patty out, but that ends up messing with Carol (Human Sandy)’s order, annoying her. Charleston then comes over threatening to get the Slabby Patty secret sauce, but is equally thwarted by Mr Slabs.

This whole sequence doesn’t bother me one bit. I wish they could’ve given Carolyn Lawrence some better material, but as this little tribute to the show’s formulas, and the first real time we’ve seen human versions of the SpongeBob characters (on the show) (in completed form). It could just be the anniversary endorphins racing, but did anyone else think they named “JimBob” after the Original Fry Cook, as a sort of apology for giving us Not SpongeBob last time? I dunno, this isn’t much, but it’s a far better tribute to the show than anything Truth or Square gave us, that’s for certain.

The tank is ready to head home, but they’re picked up by Lori Alen, the voice of Pearl (most of the other crew members and voice actors have their own little cameos), who mistakes it for a misplaced fish tank from a pet store, and puts it back in there. The whole tank is horrified with the way giraffes treat fish, but manage to escape with some CGi fish in tow to free into the ocean. Something tells me this was Steve’s contribution to the story, we get a better grasp of what a fish is thinking, and how it percieves our culture’s treatment of them. It may be a little heavy-handed, but I’m gonna miss this angle of SpongeBob’s land adventures. Also Patrick gets another girlfriend, this one returning the favour. 15 years of bashful giggling at mermaids has finally paid off.

The tank heads back to the beach, gets a ride back to Bikini Bottom with the help of Frenchie, and they free all the CGi fish before dropping SpongeBob back at his house. The passengers are all about to sing “Happy Birthday”, but Rube’s rump touches the gas peddle and makes the tank rush off before that can happen. This is the end of a running gag where they try to sing it but keep getting sidetracked, which is pretty cute, but I can tell 7 year old me would’ve been super stressed out by them never being able to do it. Still, Rube probably doesn’t exist, so whatever.

All the excitement seems to be evaporating by the second, with the tank rushing off, a gag with Old Man Walker being on lookout for SpongeBob and Patrick, and SpongeBob finding all his friends tuckered out after their own huge party, in the shattered remains of his house. Then a present falls from the sky, which happens to be...the bodyless head of Patchy. Mixed feelings all around! I didn’t know Patchy could take his head off, or breathe underwater, or interact with the cartoon world. But I’m so relieved that they finally have a meeting between SpongeBob and Patchy, SpongeBob meeting his biggest fan, and Patchy getting to talk to his idol. It goes to show just how important the fans are to keeping SpongeBob around, more than most other cartoons. Jokes and references are fun and all, but we were an important part of getting to this special and seeing it happen. That is a beautiful feeling.

After this, Patchy finally sings a birthday song for SpongeBob akin to the opening, with all his friends waking up to join in on the festivities. It’s a grand, bombastic way to end the special in theory, but it’s odd that they choose to cram in more celebrities and Nick stars wishing SpongeBob a happy birthday. They don’t mess with the flow of the song, and at least they’re still better integrated than Truth or Square’s cameos, but it’s just odd that Gilbert Gottfried guest starred in SpongeBob and The Angry Video Game Nerd in the same month (also odd I referenced that show twice in this review). But then it all ends in the nicest way possible. Patrick asks SpongeBob how old he’s turned today, and before SpongeBob can say, the screen cuts to static. SpongeBob plays his nose like a flute as he does in the opening, then we get a message.

“Thank You Steve Hillenburg”

Coming one month after the announcement of Kamp Koral, it looks pretty disingenuous of Nickelodeon to seem like it’s saying “Thanks for the money, sucker!” It’s clear they’re stretching the rules Steve had for how the show should be franchised, but they conversely appear to be following his rules for how the show is written. Among keeping the Krabby Patty secret formula and the identity of Pearl’s biological parents classified, and not allowing SpongeBob to pass his boating exam or get a romantic partner, one of the big holes he intentionally left was to never give SpongeBob a set age.

He could be 9, he could be 49, he could be 1,049, sponges live a long time. Of course putting the pieces together, he’s a young adult, but tying him down to a specific age makes him less versatile for different stories about different stages of life to all ages. Squid On Strike and Roller Cowards cater their stories and jokes to different demographics, but SpongeBob’s personality and actions aren’t compromised to fit them. However, with the details of Kamp Koral placing the base show SpongeBob as at least 11 years old, this mystery was snapped like a twig, but exactly how canon Kamp Koral will be is an answer that awaits us in the near future.

For now, I want to go back to reflecting on the Birthday Blowout, and how it was shaped by the 20 years of nautical nonsense leading up to it. If I had to count all the call-backs and references they made in this movie, I’d be here ‘til the 30th Anniversary special in Season 18. My favourites would be the dolphin chirping from Sailor Mouth, Human Patrick not needing to be somewhere else until 4 like in I Had An Accident, and a pirate being stuck on the Bikini Bottom island with feathery company, before his head sings a variation of the theme song, like in Sponge Out Of Water. Whether these were deliberate shout-outs to classic moments, or the show still digging for the magic at the bottom of the well, is hard to figure out sometimes though.

But it isn’t all a member berry buffet. There’s a countless amount of fresh jokes here, a lot of which I’ve already touched upon in the story. This is just a funny story, and the jokes aren’t pit stops, they’re a part of the narrative. My least favourite jokes would be the Peter Lorre fish, Patrick drooling up a storm when trying to remember his mission at the beginning, and the bean festival, but that’s about it. The rest of the jokes were fine to fantastic.

Previous TV movies have been slight steps up in the animation department, and this is no different. It’s especially chipper and vibrant, but it’s a birthday, so this is welcome, and all the characters and background art in the Sandy subplot are a feast. They picked good character combinations for certain shots too, so my eyes don’t start to bleed. But oddly enough, through all the characters, sequences, backgrounds, and very clever cinematography and special effects in the live action segments, my favourite visual element...is the night sky at the end. I know that sounds dumb, but after the massive adventures everyone had, seeing that rich navy blue paint hanging over everyone makes me imagine how cozy nightfall in Bikini Bottom must be.

I believe there to be five main characters in this movie (SpongeBob, Patrick, Rube, Sandy and Patchy), but for the most part, all their activity is just observing the plot and the shenanigans that ensue in it. But I’d say their characterization is on point. SpongeBob’s very excitable here, but it’s his birthday and his 4th time on land, I’d expect him to beenjoying today to its fullest. Patrick is one dim bulb, but in the oaflike, just forgetful sometimes way he was in the original seasons. I can understand why he has a black-out when trying to remember a plan he was told through an entire night, and why he wants to eat as many beans as he can from a different place.

I’ve kinda joked about Rube going through character development, evolving from the tourist to the tour guide, but it was a nice change to see, and mirrored Surface Land’s tendency to be familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Point is, I’ve warmed up to Rube since his introduction. Sandy’s role is all about keeping a plan together, and struggling to keep a party together is a challenge that fits her character way better than some others. Could you imagine if they made SpongeBob host a failing party? That wouldn’t be any fun. And of course, you either like Patchy the Pirate, or you just don’t. I like him here, he’s onscreen for the right amount of time, and by the time he’s getting too cartoony to take seriously as a real person, he’s getting closer to Bikini Bottom anyway.

Everyone else is everyone else. Squidward’s Squidward, Plankton’s Plankton, Potty’s Potty, this doesn’t need to be said. They aren’t given their own stories, but they take parts in little comedy routines and conversations, in order to fill out the runtime and give fans of these characters their own little piece of the special to cherish. I can understand some people not being happy that characters like Larry and Gary are relegated to a few lines, and aren’t part of this bigger adventure, but they make a point in the subplot that SpongeBob has so many connections, that it’d be impossible to bring them all together without compromises. It’s just the nature of the show and how big it’s gotten. But they didn’t get Karl Pilkington to guest star, so this movie is 20% completely unwatchable!

And 80% perfect! This big old birthday blowout isn’t my thing all the time, it’s really banking on you laughing at a bunch of weird stuff, but I couldn’t have asked for a more joyous anniversary special. I wanted the fanservice, the indulgence, the flaunting and taunting to the baby NickToons surrounding it. It’s about time the show be happy about its old age, and the cultural footprint its left over its history. It was hard for me to be too critical of this one, this isn’t the sort of SpongeBob content designed for the cynical heart demanding gravitas. It’s a party in the form of a SpongeBob TV movie, with games, songs, and conversations drenched in SpongeBob quotes. This is the 20th anniversary us megafans deserved, after ragging on the writers for making below average jokes for a couple years, but staying tuned in and caring about everything SpongeBob’s about. I might be 15 months late to the party, but happy birthday SpongeBob!

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
Broken Alarm < SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout < Stormy Weather

I’ll take a small break to focus more on SpongeComs and my end-of-year countdowns, but rest assured the show’s still opening up doors for new jokes and references to make. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
So, I wrote up 2.5 reviews early last month, in the hopes that I’d return after SpongeComs finishes in early December. But with the announcement of the Season 12 DVD in January, I’ve decided to wait for that to come out, so all the episodes are available in North America before they’re reviewed. I’ll just get these intermittent reviews posted before then, there’s no use wasting time. It bites that after so many years, SpongeBob’s release schedule is still a nightmare, which is only worse for me now that I have to keep up with it, but there’s no use complaining about it at this point. Digress, here’s the first of 3 “holiday season” posts.

SpongeBob in RandomLand (Season 12, Episode 15a)
Original Airdate: September 21 2019
Episode 487 in standard order, Episode 479 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob and Squidward explore RandomLand while making a Krusty Krab delivery
Written by Kaz
Animation Directors: Michelle Bryan and Alan Smart

There’s no better word to describe this episode than “zany”. I hadn’t watched a lot of Season 12 episodes in around a year before reviewing them, but this one always stuck out in my memory. I thought of it as “the Kaz episode”. Of course he’s done plenty of episodes for Season 3 and the Post-Sequel run, but this one was directly influenced by his own original works in several ways. It also reminded me of Stephen Hillenburg’s student films quite a bit, so perhaps great SpongeBob writer minds think alike.

This story begins like no other in SpongeBob history. Squidward gets a call from a customer ordering a delivery from the Krusty Krab. At first resistant, Mr Krabs pressures him and SpongeBob to make a delivery. No siree, this hasn’t happened before. To be fair, the dynamics have been switched a little, SpongeBob’s the main delivery boy, and Squidward’s sent along to keep him company. And the mystery surrounding this new place, RandomLand, should entice the viewer enough to not be bothered by history repeating itself. The characters’ descriptions of it being a cuckoo bananas world where nothing makes sense invites a lot of imaginative possibilities upfront.

To get to RandomLand, the duo just has to walk around randomly. SpongeBob’s able to get there by hula dancing though, and Squidward celebrates his departure by hula dancing too, but gets there too. That’s just a random way of getting the characters there on Kaz’s end, but fine. It’s more about the destination than the journey for something like that, unlike the rest of the plot. RandomLand is a creepy suburban neighbourhood that stretches on for miles and miles, where general logic is ignored in favour of a chaotic lifestyle for every citizen. That doesn’t stop SpongeBob and Squidward however, as questionable as their grammar gets. There’s an implicit fear that they’ll become random as well if they stay for too long, which adds tension well enough.

Should I even continue with the story? It’s hard to tell if they have one sometimes. There’s a poacher on the loose, a flying one-eyed Wendy’s mascot who wants the order for herself. At first I thought “She’s the customer, this is all a misunderstanding”, but they find the real one later on. Rodger is a man who looks like Mr Krabs from behind, and unintentionally leads SpongeBob and Squidward back to the Krusty Krab, in order to complain about the lateness of his delivery. For all the non-logic you wade through to get to this ending, it makes some sense. Of course a Randomland citizen would know the way out, they can’t leave SpongeBob and Squidward in his strange place forever. This story started and ended in the right ways, but what happens in between is the make-it/break-it deal.

Personally, I like how weird the middle portion is. It allows SpongeBob and Squidward to bounce off each other well. A place like RandomLand is a paradise for SpongeBob, with how everyone’s totally fine being crazy and abnormal. But for Squidward, the joy comes from seeing him constantly baffled with the places lack of coherence. The episode’s sense of humour is original, and often in the right place, due to this natural dichotomy in the two main characters. Not every joke’s a winner, I don’t think we need much more of Funny Lady after she’s revealed to be a red herring, but the constant explosion of logic bombs is enthralling.

But the most infamous joke needs to be addressed. At one point, SpongeBob and Squidward are confronted by a row of doors leading to different parallel worlds. One of them looks like Squidward’s bedroom, but then turns into a picture of Squidward’s head against loud static, dripping mascara from bloodshot eyes. It’s an unusual use of jumpscare humour in SpongeBob, but also clearly an homage to the creepypasta, Squidward’s Suicide. TL:DR, a lost episode of SpongeBob shown to Nickelodeon interns in 2005 about Squidward bombing a clarinet recital, crying in his bed and committing suicide via gunshot, containing disturbing imagery and possible child murders. Aside from the tape Tom Kenny gave me after flying into my bedroom a couple years ago, it doesn’t exist. It’s just a horror story, and not even a well written one. So why reference it?

Well it’s a big part of SpongeBob internet lore, so perhaps the crew wanted to poke fun at how much its impact had faded since its publication in 2010. It’s just as silly as the other parallel worlds they see in the episode. That’s my guess. Naturally referencing such a graphic story led to some controversy. Nothing objectionable was shown in the episode of course, but Nickelodeon’s cut it from most future broadcasts. The ends justify the means in my opinion, this didn’t need to be in the episode in the first place. Standards and Practices were mentioned in one of the crew’s tweets about it, and I can see S&P not being happy with a number of things. The jumpscare, the creepy nature of it, what it was referencing. Streissand effect’s a b!tch though, more people know about it now, but at least that eases the surprise. Maybe a decade from now, people will be even more scared of it due to its mysterious nature, but in my opinion, the joke’s an interesting talking point, if nothing else.

The other parallel worlds deserve to be the bigger starts honestly. The influences are clear if you know anything about Kaz’s comics, it’s an abstract style emphasising geometry and expression. It’s all over his work, and all over RandomLand, giving it an uncanny feel in motion. Character designs down there could’ve had a more unifying theme than further randomness, but I love the colouring job. There’s lots of greens and browns, which feel mysterious in an urban environment. In terms of mixed media, I like the joke they make of shaving Kaz’s head with a lawnmower. Weird cameo, but what other episode would it fit in?

SpongeBob and Squidward are very similar here to how they were in Pizza Delivery. Their arcs aren’t as detailed, but they have the same spirit and dynamic. SpongeBob never feels too dumb, and Squidward never feels too grumpy, granted their reactions never upstage the environment. The other characters, even Mr Krabs at the start, really bank on bizzare behaviours and actions to keep the story and jokes flowing. Rodger’s a fun twist, but Funny Lady, that’s her real name, got a bit annoying sometimes. Again, really happy that they didn’t go for a wacky misunderstanding, but that just makes her less useful.

In a lot of ways, SpongeBob in RandomLand feels like the Karen’s Virus of Season 12. It’s the big artistic showcase of the season, experimenting with a different style and making a story around it. Again, I adore this episode in that sense, but the plot clearly isn’t as involved as the prior season’s go at this. If anything, this is another one to show people who are unsure of the double digit seasons, since it’s pretty and engaging, but rooted in its wackier, less structured sensibilities. I know I say that about a lot of Season 11 and 12 episodes, but I hope that’s a good thing. There’s still enough to show to returning viewers that can get them talking, even discounting an overboard fandom nod.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
Dirty Bubble Returns < SpongeBob in RandomLand < Broken Alarm

That being said, the show still has some bad habits it needs to cut, or clip. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

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SpongeBob’s Bad Habit (Season 12, Episode 15b)
Original Airdate: September 21 2019
Episode 488 in standard order, Episode 480 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob can’t stop biting his nails, insanity follows
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Andrew Overtoom

SpongeBob’s Bad Episode is more like it, though that’d make it easy to confuse with the 121 preceeding it. When I was off duty throughout 2019-2020, watching new SpongeBob episodes casually, I could still feel something not clicking with this episode. It’s not the subject matter of compulsive nail-biting that turned me off, I was one as a kid at one point, and I remember Rocko’s Modern Life doing an episode like this rather well. It’s an easy thing to make jokes out of, but perhaps a little too easy in the case of this episode. Should it all have been left on the cutting room floor however? Let’s bite into it.

We’ve got one of those good old slow Krusty Krab day openings. Squidward’s bothered by the messy eating and bad manners of the Krustomers, and moans about the bad day he’s having. SpongeBob listens in on this to give him somewhere to vent, but soon starts chewing his nails. This effects the quality of the restaurant’s food quickly, as his fingernails land in it. It’s pretty gross, but not repulsive, there’s so many nails that it’s hard to truly relate to the situation. So while there wasn’t enough appeal in this opening scene to hook me, it’s not doing anything wrong within the season’s code yet.

After leaving the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob’s nail biting gets worse and worse. His self control fades as he turns into a nervous wreck, biting nails more than breathing. And not just his own, he goes for a walk and bites Fred’s and Mrs Puff’s too. So SpongeBob’s officially a creep that I don’t want to see in this state anymore, and how convenient is it that these finned characters suddenly grow human hands just to escalate SpongeBob’s addiction. Maybe I’d be more open to this creative decision if SpongeBob was seeing things, but that’s hard to tell. Fred doesn’t seem like a lier. He definitely prides himself on those nails.

Patrick enters the picture, and to his credit, he tries solving the problem. Just a shame he takes SpongeBob to Glove World in hopes it’ll put him at ease. Instead he starts biting the fingers on the balloons. A valiant effort that only made things worse. Wasn’t Patrick’s intention, but he can’t help himself sometimes. The follow-up scene of Sandy examining SpongeBob and sending him to therapy are a lot worse though. SpongeBob’s now at the point where he’s retracting his arms into his mouth to chew on them, and it leads into the therapy scene, which wrecks whatever chance this episode had of being good.

In the office, SpongeBob’s outright hypnotised by a shadowy therapist, and reveals that he’s gotten nervous from internalising Squidward’s problems from earlier in the episode. The therapist then attempts to snap him out of these feelings, but reveals that he’s Hans a little too early, so SpongeBob begins chomping down on him. First off, this reveal would’ve been more impactful if the fins weren’t hands earlier on, and it makes the character’s grand return in Handemonium less meaningful. This isn’t just a bad ending where the problem isn’t resolved, but it’s part of a daisy chain of spoiled surprises.

Even more annoying is that I have to unfavourably compare the jokes here to those from a Season 7 episode. This episode’s story is similar to Earworm, SpongeBob going insane and whatnot, but at least Earworm has a variety of jokes about its topic of earworms. There isn’t a lot of variety in the ways SpongeBob bites nails, except to make it more disturbing. Apart from that, you’ve got the gross-out with the customers’ bad eating habits at the start, and Squidward’s random appearance at the end, with Hans apparently being his therapist. The idea is funny by itself, but the execution of this good joke coming on top of a bad joke/ending soils it.

There are definitely things animated here that I didn’t enjoy, though they have more to do with the jokes in general not being on my side. The only two that I liked were SpongeBob painting Krabby Patties on his nails, and they look chewed after he bites them, and the hand on the logo of the nail salon also looking chewed after SpongeBob has a go at Mrs Puff in there. The mixed media’s also uncanny, with the fish sporting live action human hands that are just tinted the fish’s colours. At least this one’s animation director, Andrew Overtoom, left SpongeBob on an offbeat note. Ironic since he started as a sheet timer.

I don’t want to be too hard on SpongeBob’s characterization, since he’s in an altered state of mind for most of it. I just think the idea of him internalising Squidward’s issues is a good idea that was wasted on this episode. Squidward isn’t really a nail biter, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense narratively, nor does it give you clues for the reveal. Squidward’s a mopey sadsack, so he’s in-character enough. Fred, Mrs Puff, Patrick, Sandy and Hans each appear, but since they’re all bouncing off SpongeBob, and his problem isn’t resolved, the whole ensemble kinda crumbles. The closest he got to help was a dismembered hand with a doctor get-up, and even then.

I guess the big issue that all these little issues combine to make is that this simply isn’t a fun episode to watch. Stripping away the fact that it’s SpongeBob, I’m watching a story about a man whose spontaneous nervous disorder grows out of control and ruins his life with no solution. Fun for the whole family? I’m sure it’ll teach kids not to bite their nails, and give teenagers an idea of why they feel bad after hearing about someone else’s life problems, but between the repetitive jokes and poor execution of the subject explored, this is an episode I’d like to give a very special kind of finger to.

Final Verdict: 4/10 (Weak)
Jolly Lodgers < SpongeBob’s Bad Habit < Pineapple RV

I’ve got my hand prepared in a thumb gesture for tomorrow’s episode. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
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Handemonium (Season 12, Episode 16a)
Original Airdate: November 23 2020
Episode 489 in standard order, Episode 486 in airing order
Plot: Plankton brings his Chum Bucket hand to life, which causes mayhem
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Alan Smart and Tom Yasumi

I’d give a big hand to the team for making this episode, but they’ve probably had enough of hands now. As any animator will tell you, hands are one of the first major hurdles into honing a more lifelike quality of art. They’re extremely taxing to just practice drawing, it isn’t just a circle and 4-5 weiners, and then bringing them into motion and giving them (and/or their owner) a personality is a daunting step up from that. This was clearly an opportunity for the SpongeBob animators to flaunt their talents, and give all the hands lying around the series a good, entertaining workout. So even if I didn’t like this episode, I’d respect it for its ambition alone. Want to know why I like this episode?

The episode begins with something unexpected, Larry’s Gym being put to good use. After it closes, a secret late night club is open to the toughest fish in Bikini Bottom. Ergo, a place for guys to arm wrestle, flex their muscles and go “YEAH!”. Mr Krabs is the top dog at the arm wrestling, his penny-pinching claw coming in handy against any foe. It suits his character well, and shows some inner strength. I mean, those are some big meaty claws, but there seems to be a lot of meat packed in those spindly arms. Things are going well until Plankton arrives, ready for an arm wrestle. Krabs goes along with it, and even humours Plankton for a bit, before showing him the obvious. His claw alone is 10 times bigger than Plankton’s whole body. A dingy atmosphere and villain motivation have been established, I can already hear the manliness of this episode vibrating.

Plankton has a plan up his sleeve, however. He sees the giant purple fist holding the top of the Chum Bucket, and performs a Frankenstein’s operation to bring it to life, for his next match. He shouldn’t have whipped it though, just saying. While it starts off a subservient animal, the hand proves its destructiveness quick enough, thrashing Krabs, and turning on its master on his latest patty heist, tired of the whipping. Let this be a lesson kids, never smack your hands for the purposes of amusement. These scenes do a good job of raising the stakes, conveying that Plankton’s made a monster, and that monster’s now out of his control.

With an emergency now underway, SpongeBob comes out of a little Emergency Box in the Krusty Krab’s kitchen and begins to help Plankton get his hand under control. (That’ll be the only chicken-choking joke, I hereby promise.) It’s good to see both guys trying to stop the hand through their own personal methods. Plankton whips out missiles, but they fire down on him. SpongeBob tries to tame the beast with love, by dressing up as a fancy glove and courting the hand. This also fails when they do the spaghetti ritual in animation, but having both their plans be so different yet so in-character is a bonus, that it doesn’t bother me that nothing really progresses in these scenes.

By the morning, it seems like things are hopeless, but when Plankton off-handedly tells SpongeBob to keep his pants on, SpongeBob gets the idea to recreate his morning routine. He sings the theme song, and Hans appears to give him a new pair of square pants, and they get Hans to fight the hand on its invasion of Glove World. It’s a tough battle, with rock paper scissors and thumb wars failing to render a victory. Coincidentally, SpongeBob and Patrick have already done those things in other amazing episodes. It’s like the whole show was building up to this one battle, it’s unbelievable. But Hans is able to beat the hand by simply wearing it. It’s a glove, after all. Kind of anticlimactic, but they needed an ending.

This is a very funny episode in its idea alone, it’s the sort of story that owes itself to endless possibilities for jokes. I’m proud of Doug for avoiding any easy lewd humour for once, that makes him a better writer than I am a critic, so there’s that. The one guy coming onscreen and moving his abs as a running gag was the only thing that didn’t tickle my fancy, comedy-wise. I thought SpongeBob and Plankton’s interactions were funny, even better than in Plankton’s Old Chum. But of course, visual humour is a big part of Handemonium, and as I’ll go over, it delivers big-time. Plankton replacing the Chum Bucket fist with a boot at the end of the episode is a fun gag too, and what it does would be a priceless closing joke. I say “would be” because that guy jumps out again.

It gives me great joy to say that the animation is splendid across Handemonium. Along with just the absurdity of the premise, it’s amazing that there’s a level of believability to the hand animation. The first and Hans walk and talk respectively, which makes them feel like fully fledged characters. They don’t have no mouths, yet they can act, that’s how talented the animators are here. The settings in the first two thirds of the episode are also very rich with detail and atmosphere. From the gritty arm wrestle club, to the scientific Frankenglove operation room, to the cool, ominous streets of nighttime downtown Bikini Bottom, the background artists leave their mark here too. One animation oddity that bothered me is when Hans is being spun around in the thumb war, he switches from a live action hand to a cartoon one, and it’s very noticeable. Especially on the high resolution monitors that SpongeBob’s supposed to be viewed on now.

I’ve already done my piece on how well Plankton and SpongeBob bounce off each other, but it bears emphasising that their chemistry counterbalances the hand’s monstrous rampage really well. The hand itself works within the Frankenstein Monster framework, of a tragic beast that you still want to see cause havoc. Looking over Hans’ history, he has no consistent character, he’s just whatever the writers need him to be. But helping conquer evil is one of the greatest, most generous things he’s ever done, next to giving SpongeBob a lollipop. Larry and Mr Krabs are dropped after the wrestling club plot point’s dropped, but they had their time to shine, and there was no need to shoehorn it into the rest of the story.

Can you tell this is one of my favourite episodes of the season? Naming it an all-time masterpiece would be hyperbolic, I don’t think there’ll be any 10/10s again sadly, but Handemonium is one of those major highlights of the new seasons. It’s funny, thrilling, and more important than that, it captivates you. The story’s got enough wiggle room to do anything it wants, and the places it goes all further the suspense. By and large, this was another instance where they saw a part of the show they had been lying around for years, that Chum Bucket hand, and really brought it to life.

Final Verdict: 9/10 (Spongy)
Gary & Spot < Handemonium

Breakin’
 

EmployeeAMillion

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Breakin’ (Season 12, Episode 16b)
Original Airdate: September 14 2019
Episode 490 in standard order, Episode 478 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob takes a break from work for the first time in 20 years
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

Welp, I’m back from my break, and ready to talk more SpongeBob. Here we have another one of those 6-7 minute shorts made to follow up on the 15-16 minute ones. In most cases, they haven’t been as interestingly good or bad as their big sister episodes, One Trick Sponge being a pleasant exception. But this time, they hit upon a story concept that’s perfect for this kind of ahort subject- SpongeBob needing to do something simple at the Krusty Krab for a few minutes, implied to be close to real-time. And real time is right, the show pokes fun at its own age a few times here.

Mr Krabs barges in on SpongeBob while he’s cooking up patties, informing him that he’s due for a 5 minute break, accumulated over the past 2 decades he’s worked at the Krusty Krab. Mild retcon of Bummer Vacation and Runaway Roadtrip, but I don’t mind, especially since the jokes relating to the labour officer breathing down Krabs’ neck are funny enough to make the story feel like its own thing. At first, SpongeBob’s sat at a table in the dining area, but when he starts cleaning a speck of food, Krabs pulls out the big guns- an entire employee lounge between the kitchen and restroom is revealed, and Krusty Krab lore just got a little deeper. What incident happened long ago that made the employee lounge an off-limits secret?

We don’t get an answer here, but we do get to see what happens when SpongeBob has 5 minutes of free time on his hands. He has some fun with turning hotdogs into a merry-go-round, surfs on an office chair, and eats expired food and tires to guess what it was before it turned to mold. There’s some fun stuff to do in an old room that should’ve collapsed years ago, and although SpongeBob doesn’t need to play neccessarily, it’s good to see him make lemons out of lemonade. That’s where the main story ends unfortunately, and the rest of it is just a rehash of Stuck on the Roof. Everyone gets involved in one big jamboree, things go back to normal (in this case, Mr Krabs locks the room up again now that SpongeBob’s break is over), and Squidward’s stuck in a claustrophobic place for the forseeable eternity. It’s not a one-to-one retread, but I’m starting to see how Andrew Goodman resolves his plots.

It’s fine enough for an episode this long, and the jokes and animation aren’t shabby either. Although done before, I like how content Squidward is with his super long break at the end. (Hope they wrap the joke up in Season 24.) The comedic highlight for me would be when the officer looking over all the fines he could give Krabs, ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars. It’s a weird gag, and a good wisecrack at the unpredictable cost of fines. The meatloaf talking to SpongeBob was the only groaner in a quaint but consistent slew of jokes.

In terms of visual presentation, I like the feel of the employee lounge, it’s small and cozy, but has enough of a history to it, with enough for SpongeBob to do. The live action tinfoil disco ball was a tad glaring, but it’s meant to look strange. The design of the lawyer’s decent too, they highlight the features they want to exaggerate, which puts him above his slew of bland peers from Season 8. Him becoming a party animal at the end is pretty funny, and in terms of everyone else’s characterizations, it’s on-point. SpongeBob’s making the best out of his situation, Mr Krabs is worried about his money for a good reason, and congratulations to the purple background fish on beginning their transition.

Hopefully that’s not too awkward of a segway into my conclusion. Some of the choices Breakin’ makes are unconventional, but they work out for the better, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s currently my favourite short of the Post-Sequel era, because it has the simplest idea that they take advantage of in small but funny ways. On a casual viewing with its sister episode, Handemonium if you forgot, it makes for a nice little breather episode that takes you into the peaceful credits sequence without problem. The people who made this episode definitely weren’t slacking off.

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
One Trick Sponge < Breakin’ < Shell Games

From one Krusty Krab episode to another, hopefully this next one isn’t as derivative-oh, who am I kidding?
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
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Boss for a Day (Season 12, Episode 17a)
Original Airdate: July 17 2020*
*produced in 2019
Episode 491 in standard order, Episode 496 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob takes over the Krusty Krab after Mr Krabs gets injured
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Alan Smart

I wonder if this story’s been done before. Honestly, I hadn’t bothered watching this one before getting to this point in the review series, because Squid’s Day Off just looms so large over it. To an extent, Gullible Pants as well, but we don’t talk about that one. Mr Krabs being out of commission and SpongeBob or Squidward needing to run the Krusty Krab themselves is an idea that’s been done plenty of times already, and surely there’s got to be a reason why they keep doing it. I wondered that sometimes while watching through this episode a few times, and I still don’t have a concrete answer.

It starts on a shockingly busy day at the Krusty Krab, with Mr Krabs swinging all around like a pirate captain making sure everything’s in order. Sure, he takes a customer’s refill money out of their pocket without their consent, but he’s doing a good job in keeping balance. That is until SpongeBob knocks him out of the restaurant, slamming the door to the kitchen open too hard, and Krabs is thrown into the street where a piano then falls on him. It’s a very elaborate way to get him out of the...frame, but I appreciate how they tried to make it as cartoony as they could. If you’re gonna do this a third time, might as well have fun with it, right?

While being loaded into the ambulance, Krabs points to Squidward, but he intercepts with SpongeBob before the raspberry dotted line can reach him. I guess Squidward didn’t want the responsibilities again, but then he puts down SpongeBob, saying he’ll go overboard “like he always does”. At least the show’s self-aware that it’s trodding old ground, which makes SpongeBob’s decision to do something a little different easier to grasp. He decides to start acting like Mr Krabs would (the old slogan- WWMKD), even morphing into him a couple times. Not all the time though, which messes with the flow of the story a little, but makes sense after the Mocking Mimicry Madness fiasco a few years ago.

SpongeBob thinks he’s doing such a good job at being the new Mr Krabs that he brings Mr Krabs over after he gets back from the hospital, still in a full body cast, who’s always on the edge of a breakdown watching from the sidelines. Krabs feels like an Act 2 chekhov’s gun, put back here just so it can go off in the end. A tidy but noticeable plot device. But SpongeBob continues on with his duties as best he can, including hiring Patrick as fry cook while he’s busy with boss business. Mr Krabs suddenly has a problem with Patrick behind the grill, despite him always being the most efficient replacement for SpongeBob in dire situations. I guess Old Man Krabs is seeing the error of his ways in this continuous decision, belly button lint and all.

Following toony conundrum after toony conundrum, SpongeBob slowly starts acting more like himself, slicing himself into clones to keep things flowing after Patrick and Squidward quit. But all the clones are so light they get caught in the fan and shred up. This makes Mr Krabs so angry that he breaks out of his cast and returns everything to normal. I think this plot has several good ideas. Ones that had been done before, but could be fresh and entertaining if handled properly, but they were all mashed together into this weird series of events. This probably won’t help you read my verdict clearer but, I liked it, and I didn’t.

I’m down on this episode’s storytelling, but its joke telling is rather on-point. The stuff with the Krustomers at the start was fun, as was the general idea of SpongeBob making copies of himself to fill in his employee duties. I get that him strapping Squidward into a new “happy helmet” could be a small turn-off, but to me, it’s not as morbid as SpongeBob slicing his face off with a saw offscreen. There’s no hard violence shown or even implied, but I’m sure they just put scenes like that in to screw with S&P at this point.

This is one of the most densely packed episodes in terms of wacky animation. Every scene has its own face that leaps off the screen, so for people who don’t like that about the new episodes, this probably won’t satisfy their need for deep, sophisticated drama in SpongeBob SquarePants. My highest praise for the animation however would have to he at the end, where they play with more and more elements. Paper thin character designs, fire, water, and eventually yellow dust, it all goes to show they want to keep the action on this show alive beyond the over-the-top smiles and yells. It really goes a long way in keeping the show immersive.

Given the story, I bet you’re ready to see me snark about how paper-thin the characters are, hardy har, but that isn’t totally true. SpongeBob’s clearly learned from past experiences, even if he lapses back to managing things the SpongeBob way at the end. Mr Krabs serves the same purpose as Squidward in Jellyfishing, but I’d argue the dynamic’s better here, since Krabs is able to break out and tell SpongeBob what he thinks at the end. Squidward just doesn’t want to be in the episode, so I can’t really blame him when he decides to leave, and Patrick’s jerk switch is a little out of hand towards the middle. The central characters are fine, but the ones secondaries to the story could’ve used a tune-up.

While I don’t want the ratings of the episodes I review to be totally indicative of how I feel about them, this is a case where it can kind of indicate a whole era (to a degree). Squid’s Day Off is a 9 because it’s witty, fun, and I liked the way all the characters bounced off each other and tried to make better and better gags. Gullible Pants is a 4, because if it wasn’t for the gross-out and characters acting like aliens, you’re not getting much there that you can’t get from any other cartoon. Boss for a Day will get a 6, it doesn’t have much reason to be made, except to entertain those who still can’t get enough of SpongeBob and its visual comedy. And despite its problems, I still certainly liked it a bit.

Final Verdict: 6/10 (Okay)
FarmerBob < Boss for a Day < Biddy Sitting

Who’s up for some ice cream and more alien abduction? See you next time!
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
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The Goofy Newbie (Season 12, Episode 17b)
Original Airdate: September 28 2019
Episode 492 in standard order, Episode 481 in airing order
Plot: Parick gets a job working at GOOFY GOOBER’S ICE CREAM PARTY BOAT!!!
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Tom Yasumi

I wonder why Patrick hasn’t been blacklisted from Bikini Bottom businesses yet, it’s clear he can’t hold down a job. This isn’t a knock against his character, even though Kaz being in the writers’ chair is usually a sign to check your brain out at the front desk (literally, earlier this season). I might be nicer on this episode than other recent Patrick tales, because a lot of the shock from them is gone now. It sounds sad, but it really means I’m more ready for whatever they throw at me. On a more positive note, this is the first episode to entirely revolve around Goofy Goober’s. We had glimpses of it in the first movie and Patnocchio, but now here’s a whole story dedicated to it, so naturally it has a place on the map.

It begins on a busy day at Goofy Goober’s, where Patrick has just finished sampling all the ice cream flavours, much to the annoyance of the counter girl. When he says he wants to sample combined flavours with a shovel, she outright kicks him out of the store. But while kicked out, two other employees sit on him to enjoy their free ice cream, which they exposit is one of the benefits they have as employees at Goofy Goober’s. Maybe having one of the employees be new, and the other explain it to them would make it natural, but they both know what they’re doing and just explain it to the audience, so the plot can go on.

Patrick’s hired almost as soon as he applies for a job the next day, his only real training being an old timey training video that he sleeps through. The only requirements for being a good employee are good hygiene practise, maintaining good work habits, and believing in aliens, keep that third one in mind. Predictably, Patrick fails all the jobs his new manager gives him, cleaning plates, putting ice cream in a freezer and greeting kids in a peanut costume. He doesn’t break the 3 golden rules at least, and there’s a transition from purely idiotic screw-ups, to being misguided and unprepared. Patrick may be making weird faces at me, but there’s still a part of me that wants to see him succeed in getting his first break.

The manager is so infuriated at Patrick’s incompetence that he threatens to fire the starfish if his 2nd day on the job doesn’t go any better. So when he goes back home to hang with SpongeBob, SpongeBob gets the idea to hide in his apron pouch like a wallaby and be his hands. This somehow works, even though the manager can see SpongeBob peaking out of the apron. What’s the bet he knew what was going on, and didn’t care as long as the service improved? SpongeBob does impress everyone with the speed and pizazz of his ice cream-making skills, so no harm done I guess. That milkshake license really came in handy.

But the plot goes south when SpongeBob has to get back to his own job. Patrick eats as much ice cream as he can, now that he’s on his break, but ends up having a brainfreeze so hard that it encases the world in ice, taking 5 billion years to thaw. Even for SpongeBob, that’s well beyond the realm of possibility, but then Patrick nonchalantly boards a banana split spaceship, seeming to indicate that they ran out of ideas and just went for a last minute farce. So Patrick got what he wanted, but then froze the world for billions of years and got abducted by aliens, that shouldn’t still be around? That’s the trajectory the ending takes? It’s going for I Had an Accident, but that episode’s ending built upon itself until it reached an unbelievable conclusion, wheras The Goofy Newbie only foreshadows the ending in a joke that’s easy to miss. I’m not expecting Shakespeare, but I am expecting a slightly relatable set of events.

At least there are some funny jokes throughout the whole episode. I like how the peanut costume at the beginning is a security guard in disguise, and how Patrick decides to turn the heat up in the freezer because it was too cold. But my favourite bit was the weird backstory they gave Reginald Goober, the founder of Goofy Goober’s. How him selling melted ice cream on sticks and rocks slowly became a multi-billion dollar industry, and then he’s just abducted by aliens one day. I didn’t know Goofy Goober’s doubled as a church. There’s a lot of jokes I didn’t like however, like the employees that just dump information while on their break, the annoying things the kids do while Patrick’s in costume, and the weird as heck ending. The blow-outs and blunders even out. Also, this is more of a reference than a joke, but I like the little bit of SpongeBob practicing his nose flute-playing. That’s a neat little allusion that they didn’t need to put it, but did to make him a bit more fun.

If nothing else, the interior design of Goofy Goober’s is quaint. We see more of it, but none of the rooms have the same splendor that they had in the place’s theatrical debut. I get it, TV budget, and it never looks awful or anything. The banana split spaceship being a live action model on wings sells the weirdness factor, even if I don’t like the plotpoint at large. My favourite bit of animation would be SpongeBob making all the ice creams, it’s colourful, dynamic and furthers the story. It’s all smooth and expressive anyway, there isn’t that big showcase moment that’ll blow you away, but there doesn’t need to be one in every episode.

I was left underwhelmed by the characters, despite everything they do. Patrick’s certainly well over his days as a mooching jerk, but whenever it’s shown that he’s working at Goofy Goober’s for the wrong reasons, it’s a little hard to route for him. Especially since he still hasn’t done any effective work by the time he succeeds. The manager hasn’t got much going for him, and the other employees aren’t much better. I think the only reason they’re so silly is because of all the ice cream they eat. SpongeBob’s good, and Reginald Goober is a 4th spin-off waiting to happen, but that’s about it.

Aside from the absurd ending, there’s little annoyances across the episode, but nothing that angers me and makes me want to call it bad. Like Patrick cleaning the plates with his tongue, the job’s done in a dumb way, but at least it’s done. There is a story here that advances at a good pace, and there’s a decent sample of jokes to pick and choose from for the SpongeBob quote book. I just wish I could like the characters more, and get more invested in Patrick’s journey beyond wanting to see him get more ice cream. Surely there’s a better way of telling this story than just throwing aliens in at the end.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Pineapple RV < The Goofy Newbie < Swamp Mates

It’s fair to say that tomorrow’s episode has a ghost of a chance at being better than this. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
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The Ghost of Plankton (Season 12, Episode 18a)
Original Airdate: October 12 2019
Episode 493 in standard order, Episode 482 in airing order
Plot: The Flying Dutchman teaches Plankton the basics of being a g-g-g-ghost
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Director: Alan Smart

Anyone else excited for Halloween? I know this is the completely wrong time of year to be thinking about it, but this episode put me right back in the mood for something creepy. SpongeBob has been no stranger to ghost stories, what with one of their recurring characters being a ghost, the Flying Dutchman. I don’t think I have to go on again about how much I love the guy, but Squidward’s also had his turn at being an unfriendly ghost, and SpongeBob and Patrick have also been ghosts as well (to say nothing of their time as toast). I guess it was Plankton’s time to glow, and what we got out of it was one of the best Post-Sequel episodes yet.

It’s movie night at the Chum Bucket, and Plankton and Karen are watching a ghost movie about a woman being chased around a haunted house by her dead grandmother. It does a really good job parodying this type of movie with the colours, camera angles and absurd plot, but that’s only the beginning of this wonderful episode. Plankton gets an idea from the movie to turn himself into a ghost, so he can phase through walls and get to the Krabby Patty secret formula. Karen’s so tired of him ruining movie night that she shuts off, and doesn’t think once to prevent Plankton from effectively killing himself just to get a hare-brained plan rolling. This opening bit makes it look like a more mature version of Perfect Chemistry in multiple ways. Really this plan is only dark at this point if you think too hard about it, the gag of a machine squeezing Plankton’s ghostly soul out like it’s toothpaste should ease the tension.

After his molecules get all rearranged, Plankton heads to the Krusty Krab to get his prize, but he then realises that he can’t pick things up in his ghost form. Shoulda read the fine print before literally dying for the formula. Without much of a prompt, ghost sense I guess, the Flying Dutchman comes to laugh at Plankton’s failure, but grows a liking to the new ghost’s thieving ways, and gives him some pointers on how to be a ghost. Notably, Dutchy doesn’t start with picking things up, rather he works his way up to that, which you can tell ticks Plankton off. All according to plan.

Shapeshifting doesn’t go well at first, with Plankton turning into this abstract blob, wheras Dutchy can turn into pretty much any shape and size he can imagine. The lesson goes well in the end when Plankton turns into something scary enough- a copy of Dutchy. It’s still not as horrifying as the dead Pearl the Dutchman turns into, but it’s a promising start. Going out for a haunting is a half-success too, with Dutchy scaring the pants off a burglar (don’t worry, burglars don’t have feelings), and Plankton scaring his own eye out of its socket. It’s all a work in progress, but come on, Dutchy’s been in the business for hundreds of years, wheras Plankton’s still a little baby ghost in comparison.

Their next lesson is on haunting a house, and Plankton’s actually able to do a pretty good job. They pick Squidward, given his prior record with ghostly illusions, and Plankton manages to completely destroy his night. Not that I mind of course, his decision to shapeshift into SpongeBob was a brilliant move. During the haunting, Plankton manages to pick up Squidward’s clarinet for part of the performance, which proves that he can pick things up, so Dutchy skips to that final lesson and tells him that to pick things up, ghosts need to feel angry. While yes, Plankton’s not showing a lot of anger at that point in the story, it’s clearly been bubbling up the further away it got from the formula snatching. Dutchy did all this not just to help Plankton out, but to annoy him, which in turn helped him out, and that’s brilliant storytelling I must say.

And this is where things fall into deception and life-threaning danger. Plankton almost gets the formula by phasing through the safe and grabbing it, but the bottle itself still can’t phase through the safe. Now tired of being a ghost, Plankton heads back to the Chum Bucket to find his own funeral, with people...mourning(?) his lifeless body. Dutchy comes back to mess with Plankton one more time by taking over his body, which he hasn’t done in a very long time, but gives it up after realising everyone keeps stepping on him.

There’s a ton of mixed messages here that I frankly find pretty funny. For one thing, Plankton’s gotten successful at being a ghost, successul enough to grab his own body and get back inside it, and return to a physical form is gonna leave him with pain. But it’s worth it, because he’d rather live a painful life than no life at all. I guess the moral they’re going for is “literally be yourself”, or something like that, but even that’s a stretch. I think we’re all happy things are back to normal for Plankton, after the weird adventure he went on, and that’s what counts most of all.

Can I just say that this is a really funny episode? Not one of the absolute hit-after-hit affairs, but this is such a great story, and I’m so happy that it was balanced out with an incredible sense of humour. Incredibly macabre, that has to be said. But given the subject matter and characters used, I wasn’t expecting anything other than characters being used for gongs, and a few jumpscares. Even with those freaky, spontaneous frights, they’re still making it entertaining by exaggerating the Dutchman’s appearance and proportions. Word-based humour was kept to a minimum, but I liked Squidward calling his clarinet “Clarry” again, a fish laughing at the funeral when Karen asks to say some nice things about Plankton, and all SpongeBob being able to say is that he was small and green and loud.

It’s got something for everyone, but especially prioritises visual comedy. The balance between normalcy and exaggeration in the faces is simply perfect here, especially for a horror-centred episode. No matter what form Plankton and Dutchy take, they always feel alive, and Squidward’s reaction to his bed getting haunted is priceless. But all joking aside, I like how gothic the colour scheme is in this one, lots of greys and dark greens and blues, even at the funeral, to drive home the macabre subject matter. I also really like the stone title cards for the Dutchman’s rules, even though the text is rather thin, and they just needed a flying live action burger to feel more complete. All in all, Alan Smart outdid himself from beginning to end here, this is one of the most visually entertaining episodes yet.

I am so happy that Plankton and Dutchy bounce off each other as well as they do. They’re both green and evil, it’s a match made in Heaven. But seriously, I think it works so well because they know that, they’re always doing everything for self-fulfilling reasons, so I really don’t mind when things return to normal at the end. Plankton’s got his eye on the formula, and is just kind of taking advantage of Dutchy’s culture. Wheras Dutchy’s teasing and possessing Plankton, mostly just for kicks. They had already interacted before in The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom and Shopping List, but those were appetizers compared to this. (Perhaps not the best choice of words, because we all know how big appetizers are in this universe.) And this is without even making a peep about Karen, Squidward and SpongeBob, who all have their moments to shine, even if they aren’t the stars of the piece.

A couple episodes ago, I thought that I’d never give the show another 10/10, purely based on the state of the franchise. This is why reality sucks, I loved The Ghost of Plankton so much. Even though Steve’s involvement with the show was limited by this point, you’ve still got Mr Lawrence, Alan Smart, Vincent Waller and even Brian Doyle-Murray doing their best to deliver something exciting and fun here. I can feel the talent and dedication of every crew member going into this one, not just them. The chemistry is so perfect that it makes Perfect Chemistry look imperfect in comparison, the animation is about as heavenly and well-balanced as that elusive third bowl of porridge, and man, I just love the progression of events and how nutty they are. While not all is forgiven on Viacom’s end, I feel a little less funky about the current state of SpongeBob after watching this episode. Even if they don’t make another episode this good for a while, I’m still very happy with the results of what they cooked up. It’s up there with Two Thumbs Down and Karen’s Virus as not just one of the very best SpongeBob episodes from the past half decade, but one of the best episodes of animation from the past half decade period. To think this show could be a ghost right now.

Final Verdict: 10/10 (Square Tier)
Handemonium < The Ghost of Plankton

Wouldn’t you know? Next episode’s also about a character leaving their exterior behind and it getting nabbed by someone else. Just gonna say, it’s not as good.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
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My Two Krabses (Season 12, Episode 18b)
Original Airdate: January 18 2021*
Episode 494 in standard order, Episode 503 in airing order
*produced in 2019
Plot: SpongeBob and Patrick think Mr Krabs has melted, and prepare a zombie crab for a date
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Michelle Bryan

Mr Krabs and Mrs Puff have been put together for a very, very long time now, nearly 20 years. So I think it was about time they made an episode about them dating again. Only problem is, is this the appropriate era of the show for something like that? I’m obviously down for something sweeter in these crazier times, but only if they can commit to it, which is something My Two Krabses definitely doesn’t. For some reason, this episode was made 2 years ago, but has still not aired on Nickelodeon (at the time I wrote this up). I was afraid a day would come where they’d start treating SpongeBob like dirt, but at least my country’s got first dibs on some episodes. I just hope they’re good ones, which this isn’t.

It may not be a busy day at the Krusty Krab, but SpongeBob’s serving Patrick up some grub, and Squidward’s brought food from home, that he can’t remember for some reason. Mr Krabs confiscates it due to the restuarant’s “no outside food” policy, but takes out the ice cream sandwich, which conviently appears to be raspberry or strawberry flavoured. That is before taking off his shell and steaming off in his chest desk, because that’s apparently what it was this whole time, a steamer. As you can tell, plenty of leaps have been made just to get the story started. It’s forgiveable at the moment, and would’ve been if it went somewhere interesting.

SpongeBob and Patrick overhear Mr Krabs raving about how he’s melting, and break into his office to help him, only to find his empty shell covered in melted red ice cream. Afraid that his boss has melted, SpongeBob does what any good employee would do and tries to resurrect him. He and Patrick buy some chum from Plankton, put it in the shell at home, and with a zap of electricity, it comes to life as a zombie. That’s unfortunately the correct definition, considering what chum is. But where does this leave Mr Krabs? Alone, naked, and just about able to get home without making a scene. Odd that he doesn’t whip up a money suit, that would’ve been a funny gag.

Mr Krabs is able to get home, just in time to embarrass Pearl while all her friends are over, and change into his teen prom tux for the date. But he’s too late, as SpongeBob and Patrick have already brought the zombie Krabs to Mrs Puff’s house for the date. They go to dinner at Fancy! again, and Mrs Puff is none the wise, despite the copy’s appearance, odour, and the fact that it has a bone in its mouth. The real Krabs is able to come around and fight with it, but SpongeBob and Patrick are convinced that the real one’s an imposter, that is until Squidward walks back into the episode and tells them it isn’t. Krabs is able to defeat the zombie, and regain Mrs Puff’s trust, and while Mrs Puff is proven wrong and apologises for getting them confused, it doesn’t really feel like they’ve learned anything. This was just a weird inconvenience that mildly disrupted their date. Remember, this is a date episode, and they didn’t do it very well on various levels.

It doesn’t help that the jokes aren’t that good across the board. I did like SpongeBob and Plankton’s banter at the Chum Bucket, I thought it was charming that they could joke about formula plots at this point. But there isn’t much else here that appealed to my sense of humour. The chum wordplay at the dinner scene I guess, but it’s otherwise very reliant on the zombie crab being gross, and Mr Krabs looking old, frail and (good grief) naked. The jokes about him cooking his rear don’t make sense because he doesn’t change colours, and the ones about him coming home and embarrassing Pearl just aren’t funny at all.

Especially seeing how crusty they made his hindquarters for that shot. This can be a pretty ugly episode at points, and not a very carefully crafted ugly. As creepy as the design from the zombie crab is, it would make a lot more sense if that bone in his mouth wasn’t there, not because it’s scary, but because it would make the chum tongue stick out by itself more. And while I don’t expect every episode to be the next Fantasia, I do expect them to do something weird and creative if they’re gonna go back to the gross-out pool that should’ve been locked up 10 years ago.

Characterization is fine across the board, I do believe that they’re not acting too far out of their templates, but most if not too many of them are bumbling idiots. SpongeBob and Patrick being fools is fine though, even if their actions are just a hybrid of what they did in Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost and Snooze You Lose. Squidward’s just plonked into the episode for plot purposes twice, and Pearl’s just around to get embarrassed, not a good usage of either. Mr Krabs being this comfortable with his body in private is normal for an old man I guess, but couldn’t he have worn something more dignified for his date? This must be the only time in cartoon history where a character doesn’t have endless copies of their standard attire! And Mrs Puff is rather dumb throughout all this, but not an especially funny way, to the point where I just don’t feel like her and Krabs are advancing here.

There are probably people out there who like this episode, and may I ask them, what’s the appeal here? There’s plenty of episodes that are more kid-friendly and don’t have a zombie version of their character wandering about, but I also find it too immature for adults. I don’t think there are many people out there who would be happy with this episode, and that’s because it has a poor identity. It’s weird and gross, but also tries to be schmaltzy, and all to minimal effect. The show isn’t always this much of a shell of its former self, but there are so many way better examples of Modern SpongeBob, that’ll be remembered way more than this.

Final Verdict: 4/10 (Weak)
SpongeBob’s Bad Habit < My Two Krabses < Pineapple RV

Suffice to say, there are brighter lights to look out for on this journey through the show. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
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Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Excuse me for going out of order for the meantime. I don’t have the Season 12 DVD on me, and I can‘t find clean English footage of Knock Knock Who’s There?, Pat Hearts Squid or Hiccup Plague at the moment. So bear with as I get through currently broadcast episodes first.

Lighthouse Louie (Season 12, Episode 20a)
Original Airdate: January 18 2021*
Episode 497 in standard order, Episode 502 in airing order
*produced in 2019
Plot: SpongeBob cleans out the Boating School lighthouse, and finds an unexpected resident
Written by Luke Brookshier
Animation Director: Alan Smart

Here’s yet another one of those more detailed looks at a staple element of the show. SpongeBob’s alarm clock, Patrick’s rock and the Chum Bucket’s glove have had their dues, now I guess it’s time to finally figure out what’s inside the lighthouse at Mrs Puff’s Boating School. Frankly I always just thought of it as a prop to make the location more visually interesting, but you don’t see a lighthouse at most driving schools, so what’s the deal here? One thing’s for certain, I got a very cute episode today. Not one of the best ever, but there’s plenty of things to gawk over.

It’s just another day at Boating School, SpongeBob fails spectacularly, and Mrs Puff is scared for her life. Fine enough for an establishing scene, but at this point, it needs to go somewhere new. It does just that when the boat hits the lighthouse and piles of useless junk fall out of it. Mrs Puff says it’s been piling up in there for 20 years (fun little meta bit, even if it won’t be very accurate when it finally airs), and gets SpongeBob to clean it up for her while she listens to her tunes. There’s a lot of potential with SpongeBob interacting with a bunch of objects from the show’s past, even if it doesn’t all belong to Mrs Puff. And while they don’t take advantage of that angle (for instance, you see the Smitty soda-drinking hat, but he doesn’t pick up and reminisce over it), it’s still a delightful round of fanservice.

There’s no time to sift through the memories and risk a clip show, SpongeBob cleans up well. At first it seems like he’s just eating everything he sees, but he’s a sponge and is going to spit them out into different boxes. This sorting sequence is fun, with plenty of other neat moments abound, and it caps off with SpongeBob putting all the boxes into a single box. After a clean of the downstairs floor, he’s ready to clean the lantern room, but a strange noise from within scares him back downstairs. At first it appeara as though the lighthouse is haunted, as all his progress with packing is then undone, but it turns out there’s just a cute critter living in the old abode.

A raggedy old snail who SpongeBob affectionately calls “Lighthouse Louie”. Since he’s got stuff to clean again, he tries to get “Louie” out of the mess in various ways, but this snail just won’t leave the lighthouse for a second. It seems to really like the place, and the lantern room in particular. So much so that when SpongeBob enters it, “Louie” goes mental and begins attacking him. Up to this point, I was really enamoured with the episode. I thought it was sweet, cute, and creative, and honestly not too far off from Season 2 or 3 in tone. But the big wacky reared its head back into the show, and while this ending isn’t bad or anything, I guess new habits die hard.

Through some mishaps, the lighthouse gets derailed and starts rolling into town, and even crushes the Krusty Krab. That’s not gonna be a pretty patch in the Krab/Puff relationship. This whole destruction bit is just here to liven the mood it seems, because the next scene after it returns to the school carries on like nearly nothing happened. SpongeBob learns “Louie”’s just trying to protect her children who live in the lantern. Now correctly gendering her and calling her “Louise”, SpongeBob cleans the lighthouse up again for Mrs Puff, then gives her the snails as a present. There’s one last bit where Mrs Puff’s blamed for all the destruction in town, so she ignores it and continues listening to her rock music. It’s whatever, I get they wanted more tension, and it doesn’t really take that much away from the mysterious and cute parts of the story.

Even in the wacky parts, they’re still willing to make the jokes legitimately good. Mr Krabs wanting to turn all his Krustomers into a blockade could’ve been softer, but I really like the guys mistaking a puppet show for SpongeBob and Louise being big, and Perch and Fred moping about how they didn’t get to do the “My Leg!” gag this week. But for me, the comedic highlight is a lot earlier. I just love the idea that Mrs Puff’s secretly such a big fan of rock music that she uses it to meditate. It actually suits her when you consider how metal and destruction-heavy her lifestyle is already.

The animation is rather good across the board. The showcase today it seems is the point in the eating montage, where SpongeBob’s bobbing up and down with a cutsey face like in an old Disney/Fleischer cartoon. Then there’s the Popeye reference he makes, with his bicep getting super buff after eating a canned patty. The team seemed to be in an ol’ timey mood with this episode. There’s other good moments like the live action haunted toaster, and the bit of SpongeBob cleaning the place like a moving sponge ala Procrastination. Basically, if you want lively animation that isn’t necessarily bent on being lolrandom, the first 2 acts of this episode will entertain you.

It seems like everyone’s in-character here, which is a good sign. SpongeBob’s quirky, but doing his best to help Mrs Puff, then Louise. We learned something new about Mrs Puff 12 seasons in, it’s not everyday you can say that about a character like her. Later on, Mr Krabs, Larry, Bubble Bass, Perch Perkins and Fred all have their own jokes to share, and they range from eh to good. I have to say, I didn’t adore Louise as much as I thought I would. She and her babies are adorable, but I didn’t have enough to time to watch them, as Louise herself only appears halfway through the episode, and the babies are left as a surprise for the very end.

But I guess it’s a good thing when one of the chief complaints I have is that I wanted more. You know, with the caveat that I wanted less of the big, zany destruction parts. I suppose the nicest way I can put it is that it has its cake and its it too. Lighthouse Louie has plenty of calm and/or cute moments that aren’t the show’s bread and butter but still nice to see, and it also tends to hard with the toony madness, especially near the end. I don’t want to say there’s any missed potential here, because there isn’t, but this bulb could really shine if it was just a little brighter.

Final Verdict: 7/10 (Good)
Mind the Gap < Lighthouse Louie < The Krusty Bucket

Hopefully poor scheduling won’t scare my plans to review every episode. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
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A Cabin the Kelp (Season 12, Episode 21a)
Original Airdate: October 12 2019
Episode 499 in standard order, Episode 484 in airing order
Plot: The Gal Pals go on a camping trip to initiate their newest member
Written by Kaz
Animation Director: Michelle Bryan

I feel like of all the episodes made this season, this was the one that needed to be made the most, probably tied with Big Birthday Blowout. In Season 11, they made two episodes about Sandy hanging out with other female characters- Goons on the Moon, where she took Pearl and her friend Squidina to the Moon, and Girls’ Night Out, which introduced the Gal Pals, where she hangs out with Karen and Mrs Puff. After so many years of lame episodes of just SpongeBob, Squidward, Mr Krabs and/or Patrick bickering, it was a breath of fresh air to get some female-centric problems and jokes onto the show. Granted, there was room for these newborn dynamics to grow and prosper, and guess where we’re headed today.

Here we have a story that flows naturally from Girls’ Night Out, the Gal Pals are ready for their next outing, a camping trip with their newest member. That turns out to be Pearl, who secretly bringing SpongeBob along, because she knows they’re gonna try and scare her, so she’s prepared with a counter-attack. Strange logic, but you never know with a tightly-knit group you’re not a part of. Sandy, Mrs Puff and Karen are all getting along nicely, and are playing nice with Pearl for the moment, so there’s a nugget of truth to her suspicions.

By the way, SpongeBob’s hanging out in Pearl’s backpack, which is thrown into the trailer they’ve hooked to the wheels they’re driving in. But it gets unhooked once they journey into the Kelp Forest, SpongeBob being the only survivor of the sunken wreck. That gets SpongeBob disconnected from the group right away, but it’s a little odd to me that the gal pals don’t mind too much that they’ve lost all their stuff. They’re more excited to check out their cabin, which is a barren mess that they touch up quickly, showing that although they spend a lot of time just having fun, they’re useful in this sort of pickle.

The trip seems to be going well for them, and even though SpongeBob’s lost further into the forest, Pearl’s still on the alert for the Gal Pals to do something to scare her. This happens at her initiation at a campfire ceremony, in which they recount the tale of their last 4th member, Flibberty Gibbett. She got into an argument with them in these very woods, then left without ever coming out. While the story does freak Pearl out with the twist ending, the necklace they give her has Flibberty’s name on it, they’re soon freaked out by something in the woods. As it turns out, Flibberty Gibbett was a real person, the story was true, and now they’re all in danger.

Pearl initially thinks it’s just SpongeBob finally catching up to scare the other Gal Pals, but what they find is a raving old lady who’s stolen the necklace, and then SpongeBob when he finally comes around. After planning another surprise attack, it turns out to be a harmless forest dweller teaching SpongeBob to make pinecone sticks. But then the real Flibberty Gibbett comes around to make amends, freaking them all out of the cabin. What a wild ending! It’s not poorly executed at all, but it’s got a strange rhythm of 3 climaxes all starting and ending after one another. It’s unconventional, but does a good job of solidifying the story’s purpose as a parody of slasher flicks. There’s a lot of Graveyard Shift and Nasty Patty influence hanging over it, which are good examples of classic SpongeBob horror and deserve to be influential on the current seasons, and other shows.

On the flip side, I don’t think it’s all as funny as it could’ve been. There’s some good bits sprinkled throughout, I like the new Gal Pals theme song, SpongeBob and the peanut, and the second twist ending where Flibberty Gibbett was a completely normal whale who seemingly spent years in the forest without any trouble. Maybe it’s just the show’s age catching up to it, but I wasn’t really howling at the jokes this time, even though they’re mostly well realised across the board. The best joke to me is when Karen thanks Sandy for teaching her she can use a jellyfish to recharge her batteries. It makes sense because neither of them can be hurt by them from within their shell and suit respectively, and it adds some more bonding, with an element to the show’s world. And it proves the show can still make quality character-driven jokes today, because I don’t think most people would’ve gotten it in 1999.

One of the best aspects to this episode is its art direction and visual design. This is one of those episodes where the faces are striking, but not overshadowing all the other forms of comedy. I can remember a lot of different reactions, especially from Karen, but they aren’t the only jokes it offers. The novelty of this “wacky faces era” has worn thin, so them going for a balance was well-warranted. What else can I say about the animation, other than the Kelp Forest looking utterly gorgeous. It was already an alright change of pace for location in its debut in Club SpongeBob, but this episode took the creepy nighttime scene from that episode and rolled with it. It’s full of life, colour and detail, which I’m more than prepared for with HD, but the lighting is also great, especially in the more dramatic bits. Something the family vacation and food con episodes suffered from, and even Club SpongeBob to an extent, is that the backgrounds were rather flat and repetitive in their wilderness scenarios. A Cabin in the Kelp hocks a loogie in their direction, then cleans it up because it’s a nice episode.

It should go without saying that my favourite thing about this episode is the character growth, which is rare but great to see in SpongeBob. It’s well-known for being episodic, but this feels like a sequel to Girls’ Night Out in all the right ways. Sandy and Karen are getting along, Mrs Puff’s a little out of focus, which is fine since she played a big part in the earlier episode, and SpongeBob and Pearl’s relationship to the group is tested. I also really like the completely normal design of Flibberty Gibbett, and the name alone elicits Smitty vibes. And that Swamp Lady who makes pinecone sticks can keep living her life, I’ve got no real problems with her. I think I’ll leave this review here. I wished this episode would’ve been funnier, but I’m very entertained with what I got.

Final Verdict: 8/10 (Great)
Stormy Weather < A Cabin in the Kelp < Gary & Spot

I’ve got a hankering for another good episode, but I don’t think tomorrow’s is gonna hit the spot. Goodbye for now.
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
The Hankering (Season 12, Episode 21b)
Original Airdate: November 30 2019
Episode 500 in standard order, Episode 488 in airing order
Plot: They kinda ruin Mr Krabs’ character, but not really at all the same time
Written by Andrew Goodman
Animation Director: Alan Smart

When I first saw this episode, I didn’t like it all too much. They may not have planned for it to be the series’ 500th, but it still had a plot development that felt like a shock through the show’s history. Mr Krabs has liked chum all along? They can’t be that low on ideas yet. Just the premise has lingered in my head for a long time, dragging the episode down to near the bottom of the season. This is why I give it some time to think, so I can reflect on an episode, and then watch it again later to see if it’s better or worse than I remember it. The bad stuck out to me, but does that make it a bad episode?

Things are going smoothly today at the Krusty Krab, until Mr Krabs’ belly rumbles so loud that it disturbs everyone in the restaurant. He shoos everyone out so he can leave and get some food, but SpongeBob follows him, wanting to know where he goes whenever he’s like this. It’s clear there’s a skeleton in the old man’s closet, but for SpongeBob it’s more just wondering about a club his boss goes to at night, or something along that line. We literally got that recently with Handemonium, but you know what I mean, figure of speech.

Out in the middle of the desert, SpongeBob finds Mr Krabs outside a trailer called The Slop Pail...eating chum! That’s the twist I personally never wanted to see in a hundred years, let alone 20, but at least Krabs has a reason for his apparent secret chum addiction. After a “gruelling” day “serving” in the navy, he was late for dinner and there was only chum left to eat. He was so hungry that it tasted great to him, and he’s never stopped gulfing the stuff down since. I know this is an episodic show, but this would work better if a secret like this had been planned in advance. We know he was the head chef on the S.S. Diarrheia, and cooked food too good for the navy in another yarn, so there’s already contradictory evidence for how good his taste has been throughout his life. That’s not really my issue, what is is how it affects his chemistry with Plankton, and we’ll get to that in a bit.

After finishing his bowl of chum, Mr Krabs is shocked to find that Sal (played by Gilbert Gottfried) has shut down the Slop Pail, and is ready to pursue a career in movies. With no prior clue that this would be his last meal, Krabs gets SpongeBob to make some chum for him, which is really, really messed up. I don’t like the implication that SpongeBob killed about 3 different fish, just to make dishes that don’t even appeal to his boss. It’s not a far cry from that Robot Chicken sketch where he discoveres Krabby Patties are made of crab meat, but here it’s completely normal in the show! Season 12 must be “the chum season”, it’s such a recurring fixture of stories.

It all leads to Mr Krabs being left with one option...rummaging through the garbage at the Chum Bucket. Karen and Plankton spot him, and Plankton makes a deal to trade a lifetime supply of chum for the formula. Krabs, nearing delirium, gives into his stomach, despite SpongeBob’s protests. Plankton goes back on his deal, and goes for the formula, which has fallen into a giant vat of chum, which Krabs has no choice but to eat through if he ever wants to save it. It’s a good thing he’s so full that he never wants to eat chum again afterwards, or else this plot would’ve meant something.

Can you tell I have a long list of problems with it? They made a big change to a key dynamic, then threw it away due to a lack of confidence. But I could forgive this is the episode were funny, and thank Neptune that it is. I’ll get to this in a bit, but Sal is a good character, and they don’t just rely on him. Krabs’ embelished navy story, and Plankton telling Karen to hit the mute button are fairly amusing. The bit that remains the funniest to me is SpongeBob cuddling up with the formula at night sometimes, since it makes him sleep more comfortably. We know he has access to the Krusty Krab at night already, who else counts all those sesame seeds? Granted there’s a few jokes that don’t work for me, like most of the climax, but there’s more that did.

The animation’s fine for what it is too. They really hammer home how vile chum is, it’s pretty much just guts at this point. I’ve said it before, but if this were anywhere but underwater, it would probably get the show in a ton of trouble. You can’t really mistake it for mince, even in scenes where it appears in bulk like the vat. The animation highlight for me was SpongeBob’s reactions to how you make chum, going through a range of faces and effects, ending with losing all colour in his face. A close second would be the desert where the Slop Pail resides, which really gives off the lonliness Krabs feels in his hankering, and is a different coloured location than usual for plot relevant scenes.

This was far from the best way to keep the Krabs VS Plankton rivalry fresh. It bears repeating - this is a huge bomb dropped onto it out of nowhere, and it’s resolved as soon as it begins. But putting aside that, Mr Krabs and Plankton are generally portrayed well enough. I say generally because Krabs trading the formula is a stretch that typically needs more build-up, more than a day at the fair, a company picnic or a hackneyed retcon. That being said, SpongeBob and Sal kind of save the story for me, SpongeBob because his presence and jokes elevate it, and Sal because Gilbert Gottfried brings a delightfully kooky performance. He fits the bill for the random Season 12 one-shot.

But The Hankering also embodies Season 12 in some less pretty aspects. It’s far from an outright betrayal of Krabs’ character, but they loosened it up to squeeze in some gross-out gags. It’s another case where I can imagine it being magnitudes worse if it were made 12 years ago, but there’s still much better stuff they’ve made then and now. It brought to my mind another animated series that ran out of interesting things for its main characters to do, so just started rushing on guest stars to fill the void with humour. You wanna try and guess what show I’m talking about? Hopefully not SpongeBob eventually.

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Swamp Mates < The Hankering < Senior Discount

Who will Bob be next time, and What will his Pants bring him to do?
 

EmployeeAMillion

Season 12 Time!
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
3,655
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
Who R Zoo? (Season 12, Episode 22a)
Original Airdate: February 8 2020
Episode 501 in standard order, Episode 490 in airing order
Plot: SpongeBob creates his own zoo, with blackjack, hookers and bubbles
Written by Mr Lawrence
Animation Directors: Michelle Bryan & Tom Yasumi

Kids love animals, there’s no reason for them not to. And SpongeBob has done a fine job of giving them a window into the strange world of sealife. It’s mostly just been through jellyfish and clams though, if there’s an episode where SpongeBob has to deal with a wild animal in some way, it’ll typically be one or the other. How about watery interpretations of land animals? That’s where Mystery the seahorse and the sea bears have come into play, but now they’ve punched the ticket for most any land animal to have an aquatic variant on the show. How’s it gone?

Not off to the best start. We get a closer look of the Bikini Bottom Zoo than we have in a while, perhaps a little too close. SpongeBob’s dressed himself in loincloth and is messing around in the enclosures, including and especially the dangerous ones. This annoys the zookeeper, so he puts a bracelet on SpongeBob’s leg to prevent him from entering the enclosures, but SpongeBob has his ways. After causing a complete ruckus, the zookeeper outright bans him from the zoo. So far, this isn’t a good way to start the story. SpongeBob hasn’t got a good reason to cause this much mayhem, and although the zookeeper’s in the moral right, he is pretty annoying to sit through, a little too exaggerated for what should be a job that makes you look normal compared to your “clients”.

SpongeBob goes to Patrick’s house and cries it out, but while sniffling, one of his snot bubbles floats into the air. Although pretty sick, it gets the main plot going efficiently. If SpongeBob’s not allowed back into the real zoo, he’ll make his own out of bubbles. He first batch of bubble animals don’t last very long, Patrick kills each one just by naming them, but he then gets the idea to use Extra-Strength Soap, cause he’s no dope. This next bit of him making and caring for the bubble zoo with Patrick is rather fun, and the most entertaining part of the episode to me. We’ve already seen him make bubble cars and a whole bubble town recently, but at least there’s more to be done with the fixture. However, once they make an episode where he makes a bubble Krusty Krab, I’ll retract this enthusiasm. How will they end it but with everyone hating the soap-flavoured patties?

Business appears to be booming, no one’s getting hurt by the animals, and the citizens like their novelty, I guess. However, when Squidward heads outside to do some farming, he almost gets eaten by one of the bubble beasts, and runs around popping all the cages. Interesting how Squidward was strong enough to break through the cages, but didn’t destroy any of the animals, but the show must go on. Squidward wasn’t part of it before this point though, so why drag him into this, then drag him away by his bulbous nose? I’m all for a progression to this plot, but I don’t know if this was the right way to do it, and if they needed him in the episode.

So the bubble animals go wild and start running around Bikini Bottom causing havoc, until SpongeBob’s able to put a stop to it by using his Tarzan call. He gets all the animals at the zoo to scare off the bubble animals, back to the giant bubble container whence they came. Somehow, this gets the zookeeper to change his mind about SpongeBob and let him back into the zoo...with the bubble animals now on display! I’m happy this mess was wrapped up, but it was done halfway. SpongeBob did two wrongs and one right, and there’s no telling if the bubble animals are fully reformed. I like the ideas presented here, but the execution of them is more peculiar than it is fun.

At least the jokes fare a little better. I like the tagline for the extra strength soap, as well as how SpongeBob says it, and Patrick taking his job application more seriously, after the bubble zoo turns into chaos. And although they too are irrelevant to the story, I like the bit in the Chum Bucket where Plankton and Karen get swarmed by bubble penguins. The reference they make to animal noise toys at the very start of the episode is also cute I guess, but otherwise the other half of the episode’s jokes weren’t up my alley. The zookeeper and Patrick’s other gags didn’t frustrate me, but rather failed to impress. It’s better than not liking any of the jokes at all, but liking only half the jokes is only half a reason to watch it again.

Like many other episodes about bubbles, the animation is Who R Zoo’s biggest strength. Not only are the colours for the bubble soap still a treat to look at, but the designs for the bubble animals were created well. I like how for the bigger ones, the shines are more saturated, like with the green and magenta beasts. It was also pretty fun seeing those underwater equivalents to giraffes and monkeys. We’ve already done chimps, gotta get through all the primates. So basically, I like the look of this episode, and while the visual gags aren’t to die for, they’re still plentiful and kept me hooked on this dumb story.

I was a little surprised by exactly which characters I latched onto. SpongeBob and the zookeeper were designed to be the MVPs, but didn’t work for one reason or another. SpongeBob because he does more damage than good overall, and the zookeeper for not having the perfect temperament and characteristics. I’ve moaned about Squidward being a plot device already, but there’s good characters here. I like Patrick’s portrayal here, he’s an idiot but relatively blunt and cares about his job. Plankton, Karen and Mr Krabs don’t appear for very long, but have good bits. I feel like there was more thought placed into the side characters, which is fine sometimes, but the story the main movers and shakers are left to tell falls a bit flat.

In summary, I didn’t really like this one. I’ve said how Lighthouse Louie could’ve been excellent if they toned down the more nonsensical nautical ‘nanigans, and Who R Zoo feels like an extension of those. This is a cuckoo bananas one, fitting for a zoo plot, but the story gets a little wonky at points, and I didn’t care a whole lot for SpongeBob basically trying to open an unlicensed zoo. That being said, I liked bits here and there, like the design work, the side characters and some of the jokes, but I would much rather go to the zoo than watch this one again. At least there, you get to see a monkey scratch itself, now that’s always the comedic highlight of your day!

Final Verdict: 5/10 (Average)
Squid’s On a Bus < Who R Zoo < The Krusty Slammer

Maybe free roaming around town is a bad idea, given the subject matter of tomorrow’s episode. Goodbye for now.
 
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