Tag Archives: Positive Review

Top 10 School House Rock Songs

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I know I do not like Disney songs, but these are great.  In the 1970s and 1980s these were between the ABC shows targeted at children.  The creators assumed that no one really cared about them, but when their viewers grew up they learned their viewers actually often only watched the shows for the songs between them, and they were released to video where I saw them.

                 Number 10: I’m Just a Bill

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Here is an iconic song about the government that is sometimes use in college to explain it.  Besides that it has an easy to root for protagonist an audience surrogate.  The congressmen are funny, and it is very catchy.

Number 9:Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla (The Pronoun song)

For the most part this song is just really funny.

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Oddly they play this song in the VHS before the noun song, despite mentioning nouns many times here.  Still it also has some really good visuals like them all getting on the bus.

     Number 8: Naughty Number Nine

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Sadly, I cannot honestly call this the ninth best song.  Unlike “I’m Just a Bill” this has a villain protagonist that we keep waiting to see the mouse have the last laugh, and it finally happens at the end when he escapes, after it looks like the segment is already over.  He went through so much pain, and it shows a small victory can be all that is needed, while still helping me learn nines better.

7. No More Kings

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As a history major I have known since second grade there are some historical inaccuracies in here, but this song and realizing the inaccuracies helped me remember them.   Besides that it has the revolution, but focused more on gathering the troops than fighting (more on that later), and why they decided to fight.

6. Victim of Gravity

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This song is always great for a laugh with how many problems the protagonist has, and it is great.  The visuals are good for both humor and what the world would be without gravity.

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Again the humor really makes this song.

5. My Hero Zero

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I know I have heard this analogy a few times, but this is the best discussion of zero as a super hero.  It did not really teach me anything except for cavemen using math, but it has such great music, and super thin necks (look at him above).

4. Telegraph Line

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I do not think many other fans like this as much as I do.  It has a very catchy chorus, and the verses tell a clear story that unlike “Victim of Gravity” has a clearly happy ending from the nervous system.  I think this is the most educational video in Science Rock, even if it is dated.

3. Interjections

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This is the funniest School House Rock song.   It is one funny and unexpected visual and interjection after another.

2. Shot Heard ‘Round the World

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This one is about The Revolutionary War.  Obviously it is exciting, and with the exception of parts of the Bunker Hill part is very accurate with a romanticized view for America.  It will keep the audience remembering some major parts like France entering the war, Yorktown, Bunker Hill, The Old North Bridge, and crossing the Delaware.

1. Tyrannosaurus Debt

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I do not think this is many other people’s favorite song.  Money Rock is not too popular, but every Schoolhouse Rock fan has something in it they enjoy like “This for That,” or “Where the Money Goes.”  This is the song that made me keep playing this video over and over as a nine year old trying to understand the national debt.  It was not until I looked through some fifth grade textbooks I found another source talking about it, so I had previously assumed that being the world’s largest economy the US was debt free.  Now I knew they had a debt of over five trillion dollars (now we wish it was that small).  I watched it over and over to see if the ending was talking about it starting to shrink or just hope for the future.  This is their most educational video and the scariest one.

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Schoolhouse Rock are some of the only music videos I enjoy, as they knew to entertain and then education could come.  Besides nostalgia they are fun to watch and remember how much edutainment they had.

 

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DTV Wonders: Stitch the Movie

  This cover made me overestimate 625’s role.

 

Oddly after I pan The Lion King II the next film ahs a trailer for the DVD release of the first one.  This trailer made my brother want to play the safari game so much we bought it.  We also lost it in the last few months.  I always liked the Bionicle: Mask of Light commercial, but I never felt a need to see it.  It makes me wonder what film has a commercial for its sequel.  The commercial for the series has many spoilers for the film, which I somehow missed the first time I watched this around twelve years ago.  The main menu has a part with Stitch swinging from a rope, which made me assume he would do that in the climax.

T8              Gantu is back to be one of the main villains.  He still comes off as intimidating.  I know several fans think he got way weaker after the original, but considering he is now much stronger than Jumba (Jumba fought Stitch far better than Gantu in the original) I have doubts about that.  He is now working for Hamsterviel.  Despite Gantu still being rather intimidating the overly small stuff and Hamsterviel’s voice keep this part surprisingly funny.  The plan is for Gantu to go Earth (which the aliens no longer call Yars) and retrieve the other 625 evil experiments.

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The new animation did make the characters look uglier, but I only thought that for two minutes.  The main plot line is Lilo and Stitch want more people outside of their family to like Stitch.  This leads to the main problem, there is very little story.  In fact the run time is less than an hour, but there are still plenty of scenes that could have been cut easily.  This easily could have been reduced to a 2 part episode.  As expected it does not go well with Stitch scaring a few people away and that results in a little fire (Lilo was very happy to help put it out).  Stitch goes to Jumba (his creator) to ask about family.  Jumba says they both have no family.

After a few jokes such as Pleakly cooking dog food, which is actually more nutritious than most human food and David getting his small role to keep his fans happy Gantu breaks in.  This film has received a few idiot plot accusations.  I disagree with most, but I always found it odd that Gantu beats Stitch early and does not use the opportunity to finish him off.  It would have saved him a horde of misery the next three years, and it is later revealed that Hamsterveil would have plenty of use for him.  Also Jumba just then tries to actually hide his other 625 monstrosities he thinks should not be activated instead of burying them a while back.  Also Gantu decides to just kidnap Jumba instead of looking harder.  He des also find experiment pod 625, with its ominous music.  When I was younger I only noticed the first one, and I thought it was very bad for the main heroes that Jumba is aliennapped.

Stitch then hotwires Jumba’s ship, and they chase him into space.  Stitch apparently has really good aim and manages to shoot the engines without actually hurting Jumba, but they run out of power.  Presumably they have some emergency power that Stitch uses to make sure they fall at home and not in Antarctic or Venus.  Wow, I am already throught one quarter of he film.  I have criticized David’s role as being filler but most of his lines are funny such as him watching an alien invasion movie oblivious to Gantu having just assaulted his want to be girlfriend’s house.  This leads to Nani calling Cobra for help.  Lilo realizes that one of the experiments could repower the ship letting them chase after Gantu.  Pleakly has the more long term plan of calling every phone in the galaxy.

Lilo and Stitch release 221, but he wrecks the house’s power and leaves.  They should have used insulators.  They go looking for him, but it goes nowhere except some fun ideas for the characters like seeing Stitch’s night vision in action.  It was not important, but the scene is fun to watch.

In the meantime Jumba is set up to be tortured by Hamsterveil but nothing worries him especially Hamsterveil threatening his family.  “Ha, I have no family.”  I like how happy he is to say that.  Hamsterveil is really hard to understand, but I still enjoy his blunt rudeness, Jumba’s uncaring attitude, and Gantu being overly polite.  These three are really funny.  They then decide to release 625 on him.  The music indicate that is very bad.  All three are scared of him, until it turns out he is very lazy an just makes and eats sandwiches.  625 makes the funny trio an even funnier quartet.  Eventually Jumba is singing ninety-nine beers on the wall except he is singing about pieces of me on the wall.  I have actually sung that many times.  Pleakly reaches him, but Hamsterveil takes the phone and makes a ransom demand.  Gant puts the phone gently away…

No! Slam it!  I think one of the idiot plots is how Pleakly tried to reach Jumba, which actually gave the villains an option for a ransom, and Lilo now regretting releasing Sparky since the ransom is now incomplete.  I thought that was a nice change where plans work or fail.  Sometimes a person realizes half way through their plan was bad and now has to change it.  Stitch hotwires Cobra’s car, and they look for Sparky over a montage.  I remember my dad laughing at the part where Stitch drinks an entire case of coffee.  After that they find Sparky by following the screaming people and broken electronics.  Stitch catchshim witht he rope swinging in the menu (I was surprised to see it so early) and a glass vase.  They bond over some similarities, and they realize they are family.

Pleakly and Cobra go to meet Hamsterveil and Gantu at the lighthouse.  Cobra’s actions do fit into his plan later.  He is hoping to give the experiments to Hamsterveil, get Jumba back, then the Galatic Federation will destroy Hamsterveil and the experiments.  IT also has the good part where Lilo shows up and reveals she named 221 Sparky.  The real good part is where Cobra claims she cannot see how complicated the situation is when she is like him taking a third option, save everyone by using Sparky as a distraction, which gives Stitch time to save Jumba.  Despite that Hamsterveil gets the experiments, and Sparky takes out the Galatic Federation’s ship before it can destroy all 624 of them.  Hamsterveil and Gantu with the experiments get back in the ship.  Lilo and Stich ruin after them.  This is less heroic on a rewatch since Lilo was useless from here onward except for a bit of keep away Stitch could have done by himself.

They successfully get the experiments out of the window, and the case breaks letting them fall freely back to the island.  It looks happy until Pleakly points out how dangerous they will be and the chairwoman agrees with Pleakly.  to make it worse Lilo and Stitch are captured.  I still do not know why Stitch cannot go through the glass, but I guess Gantu used better material.  Hamsterveil threatens them from a huge pile of phone books.  He plans to cut Stitch in half so he can clone him.  Gantu is teleporting Lilo to a soup company.  He then gets distracted as 625 is getting a huge order of baloney teleported to them.  As everyone knew would happen Sparky comes in to save Stitch.  They easily overpower Hamsterveil.  Getting to Lilo is harder, as the musicand grunting make sit obvios the ship is hard to move through and the walls do not let Stitch climb them like he normally can.  He gets here, but he cannot stop the teleportation.  He then realizes it was for the baloney and frees Lilo from the other one.  Gantu then chases them and sees someone is stealing his ship, but it is just 625 wondering where his baloney is.  All he has is cheese and bread.  It was actually a red herring and Sparky locks the doors and sends Gantu’s ship crashing on Earth. It also turns 625’s sandwich into a grilled cheese.

They get back to earth.  Hamsterveil is arrested.  Sparky finds that he can do a lot of good at the lighthouse, which had no power before him.  The councilwoman then says she will evacuate the planet and gas it to destroy the experiments.  Lilo convinces her not to, as they will find them and turn them good.  Now I feel the ending is a poor set up.  When I was younger this made my whole family really want to watch the TV series, which is really good.

Today I do not care for this so called film, but as the target audience I thought it was a great pilot.   It is still funny, and it has good action.  It lead to a very good TV series, and I do like the new characters.  It is just too dull with the story for me now.

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 3 The Time of the Great Giving

Many older fans do call this the best of the sequels, as it has very scary moments, intensity, high stakes, and a surprisingly complex theme for the title.  The theme is that anger leads to more anger from others, and that stops teamwork from being effective.

The Previews here are very good.  I like the commercial to the second film, and it does make me want to watch it again.  Then it gives a commercial where they sing “All Sorts” from 4, with clips from the film instead of most the song clips, and I like that better than the actual song clips.  I remember saying Babe has a commercial for this film.  well it has a commercial for Babe too.  It is very good and fast paced.  The “Timmy the Tooth” commercials are better in 2.

Of all the sequels this has the best opening.  It uses the same music from the original film.  It talks a lot about evolution and how single celled organism became land dwellers, yet I it is actually because of these openings I became  a Young Earth creationist.  I got exposed to so much evolution I turned against it.  I still like seeing the animations of it.  They even got the narrator to say “dinosaurs.”  I also like how it briefly shows feathered raptors and then they take out a three horned like dinosaur.  Like 2 it role calls the entire group.  Littlefoot the longneck.

They are no longer extinct.

Cera the Threehorn (who has one horn for now).  Ducky the swimmer (who is hardly ever shown swimming), Petrie the Flyer (Still love him), and Spike the Spiketail (a little redundant).  They are using a huge rock as a ball until Hyp and… Nod and Mutt.  Unlike Rinkus and Sierra they blend together.  I know the bullies are often hated by older viewers, but these three are great, as they actually come off as murderous.  Just considering how soon this is from the original it makes sense.  The group is yet to save anyone living in the Valley so no one owes them anything.  The bullies are teenagers who probably dislike that some children have had a far more adventurous life than them.  In their opening talk Littlefoot views them as potential playmates.  Petrie views them as bullies and dislikes them.  Ducky and Spike agree with Littlefoot Cera not only agrees with Petrie but tries to fight them, which makes Hyp excited until a meteor shower comes including a big one into The Mysterious Beyond.

Seemingly no one is dead.  Littlefoot and Grandpa point out that now the danger is over it is a pretty sight from the “flying rocks.”

           Then the water source stops flowing.  I mentioned in my review of 6 that there are other water sources.  Since they have not been in The Great Valley for long I guess they have not found them yet.  Grandma and Grandpa do not want Littlefoot to hear the others fight and ask him to go play somewhere else.  He does that as we can hear the grown-ups fighting.  Littlefoot meets with the other children where to further Show spike’s hidden intelligence he hides before the bullies show up.  The song are again written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom, as the first one “When You’re Big” is sung.  Unlike Charles Grosvenor who used one film with sentient villains in eight films Roy Allen smith used three in thee films, and they all have villain songs.  I know this sounds like the song I usually hate being a villain song and just talk about being evil, but I love it.  It captures the destructive energy teenagers and their pure threat level.  It is also so catchy.  I have seen some good fan videos of it with Jurassic Park dinosaurs.  After the song Hyp tells Nod and Mutt how they will presumably kill the group for fun, as they sneak out.  They miss Spike who just hid.

After that Grandpa’s water conservation plan is basically to trust everyone to do their part.  Being the small government supporter I am I am okay with the idea, but it needs work.  I presume everyone else just interrupted him before he could finish.  Mr. Threehorn suggests firm action against wasting, and he unintendedly starts many others going on a crusade on who has previously wasted the least water.  Another lesson in the film is cooperation is needed to survive the hard times, and the grown-ups do not have it, and the immediate negative effects of the film start.  At the same time the bullies splash some water and Mr. Threehorn accuses Littlefoot (presumably thirst and hunger is making him less sane).  He deems Littlefoot a bad influence, which makes Ducky wonder what influence is, which is surprisingly funny.  He also demands that Cera stay away from Littlefoot and she angrily goes with him until night when she runs off.  It is then shown that Mr. Threehorn is overly worried about his daughter, which makes him angrier than usual, which Cera can tell.

In a key moment showing that Grandpa does know best they educate Littlefoot and most the audience on morning dew.  They get an okay meal, but the food is dying out fast, as the valley dries up.  It is also revealed that off screen they made a time schedule for each herd, but Grandpa says it does not affect the Children, and Mr. Threehorn disagrees.  It is surprisingly hard to follow the logic that Mr. Threehorn’s problem is he refuses to compromise, but he gets a song.  “Standing Tough” is surprisingly enjoyable.  It furthers his motivations that they will die without him doing it and any compromise is weakness.  They are too busy fighting to notice Littlefoot leave with Cera.

To further the depression of losing water there a few quick silent scenes showing how the water level is clearly way lower, the fish are struggling, and there is far more dust than usual.  The group finds water (I like to think it is the same pond that dried up in 6), but the bullies show up.  In a move that really sets them apart instead of trying to take credit for finding water they give the gang a decision, never tell anyone about it and let the bullies only use it or die.  In short their plan is to have water and let everyone else likely die.  Instead of lying that they will not tell and then tell (no one would fault you) they say they will not and flee.  They are saved by a wasp chasing away the bullies.  I really like that.  The group goes a strange route reasoning their larger pursuers could not cross where they see the desert part of The Mysterious Beyond, but it is covered in the water that would go to The Great Valley, as flying rocks dammed it up.

They go to tell the grown-ups sure they will know what to do, but as Grandma warned earlier a fire starts.  Unlike the fire in Bambi that uses an orange fire that engulfs the forest, this fire is mostly smoke blotting out the vision except for a very red fire burning every tree and piece of vegetation near it.

        This fire is quite scary.  Michael Tavera is alternating music from 2, and it is actually working better here than in its original use.  Presumably due to their bickering the grown-ups missed the smoke.  It also would have obviously been seen by The Great Valley residents not near the water.  Mr. Threehorn takes command and gives an escape route, but Grandpa points out it is heading downwind where the fire will spread and he gives an alternate route.  Instead of listening to superior advice and noticing he is wrong (When you should devote to the one group ironically) he is fine with them going another way, but he orders Cera to go with him.  Grandpa goes to stop them, while Grandma leads the others to safety.  The smoke gets to thick so Littlefoot (closer to the ground) has to take charge and tells everyone to use their voice instead of ears.  It is the first time he saved the valley instead of just an individual or his friends.  The music then gets even more scary, as it shows Mr. Threehorn and Cera running.  It is slow and constantly makes it clear how much of the valley the fire is destroying.  It is also clear that Mr. Threehorn is watching for Cera more than himself, but they eventually get trapped.  Grandpa saves them by knocking a tree on the fire, and they run out before it is engulfed in flames.
         They arrive as “If We Hold on Together” plays.  Everyone but Mr. Threehorn is at first optimistic, but his pessimism runs into everyone.  Grandma gets Mr. Threehorn happy by mentioning his daughter being safe, but most others are convinced they are doomed ( a good trailer shot).  They know the water would have to be covered in sharpteeth.  Mr. Threehorn says no place is safe unless they free it. Mr. Clubtail (voiced by Rob Paulsen again) points out his plans could not be worse than his fire escape plan resulting in them roaring at each other.
This is politics

Grandma says they are acting like children and finally a movie has a kid defend themselves when that happens.  Thank you Petrie.  We can hear the adults fighting as Mr. Threehorn wants a quick plan and Grandpa wants a well thought out plan.  The bullies decide to get it themselves.  The main group notices and besides Littlefoot they are rooting for the sharpteeth.  One reason I love “When You’re Big” is because it is deconstructed in another song, “Kids Like Us.”  I should point out at some point.  Thomas Decker voiced Littlefoot for 13 songs, while other Littlefoot voice actors voiced him for only 15 songs over nine films, and this is the only time Littlefoot sings in this film.  It perfectly contradicts every point made in Hyp’s song.  I love it.  After that they go to help Littlefoot with the last one being “a scaredy egg.”  My brother and I used that insult so many times.

        Hyp gets stuck in  a tar pit (the toxic tar is at the bottom, so he did no drink toxins).  Littlefoot hears, and from the first film they know how Tar works.  They make a dinosaur ladder to pull him out.  Humorously and important for Hyp a buzzing stinger (he is scared of them) lands on his nose.  He must overcome his fear and stay still in a funny pose.  He eventually falls in, but Petrie pulls him back up where he is pulled out.  Petrie is so amazing.  Hyp denies he needs help until he sees his dad coming and cowers behin the main group.  It consists of Nod’s father (prumably), Hyp’s father, Mr. Threehorn, Grandpa, and Mr. Clubtail (I presume he is Mutt’s father but Wikipedia disagrees with me.  Maybe he is friends of his family or just brave).  We have the dull reveal the bully has a rough father and Mr. Threehorn reveals the error of his way until Mr. Threehorn of all dinosaurs gets very preachy, which is a good touch.  Nod is crying about being in trouble and “THAT!”
        This is the first time I ever saw velociraptors, and four of them show up.  I love the shot where one’s foot goes down, and his claw comes up.

There are four of them.  One lunges at Grandpa, but he uses his tail instead of his head (like in 10) as bait.  He then hits him to Mr. Threehorn.  A rock falls on his head, and we never see him again.  Based on what his friends do I presume he was the weak scout they sent in.  Hyp’s dad takes the children to safety, and the rest face the others 4-3.  Well Littlefoot looks back and sees Grandpa is double teamed, and almost stops to help.  It does contrast form earlier how nicely Hyp’s dad tells him not to look back.  Despite most likely triple teaming the other one they cannot beat it I presume because they must have put Nod’s dad on him.  The grown-ups make the wall defense, which is horrible in real life because they attack the weakest link, but in movies it often works, but not here, as they just run around or even over Nod’s dad.  He should have stayed home today.

The children and Hyp’s dad see them from the high ground in front, but the grown-ups have a growl off with them, and we hear shaking as if there battle is making an earth quake.  Then all seven of them fall.  The grown-ups are out, but somehow all three sharpteeth shake it off.  What steroids are they taking?  Hyp’s dad runs off to the rescue in a scene that would be horrible if the pacing was not so good making it awesome.  It goes from slow paced to so fast.  I presume the sharpteeth are still shaken up from the fall and too bruised to move fast, and their steroids affect their brains.  Nod and Mutt mock him, but Hyp goes down to distract them, but all three go after him.  The sharpteeth chase Hyp, but Grandpa takes them all out in one hit (I am pretty sure that should kill them all).  The sharpteeth flee to the rocks to get the children, but Mr. Threehorn takes out another one who gets buried in rocks.  I know I often criticize the show for throwing rocks at them too much… Actually I only did that in 13 and 10.  Well it really starts right now, but the music and theme coming together about working together, and Hyp’s humor make this rock throwing work so well.  Unfortunately all three sharpteeth catch second wind again (I also have to question why Grandpa used his head as bait with no counter attack as usual).  It then turns out all the rocks they knocked around has freed the water.  The grown-ups flee to the high ground, while the velociraptors are swept away.  A later scene shows all three on shore seemingly kissing it.  That was awesome.

Surprisingly the falling action is very long, and kind of boring, an it includes a title drop.  Only 3, 7, and 12 have title drops and this was the only one that was forced.

Overall this has a great use of silence and pacing.  The songs go together so well.  The theme is remarkably adult and child centered.  The climax is amazing.  It took clichés that children were not yet well aware of, and it did great with them.  As the target audience this was my second favorite of the series after only 5.

The new climax ranking is 3, 5, 6, 10, 7, 14, 4, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13

The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Kids Like us (3) 4. Bestest friends (10) 5. Always There (5) 6. Grandma’s Lullaby (4) 7. Big Water (5) 8. When Your’re Big (3) 9. “The Lesson (8) 10. “Family (8) 11. Adventuring (10).  12. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  13. How do You Know (13). 14. “On You’re Own” (6) 15. Who Needs you (4)

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each), 5/4 (74 minutes each), 3 (71 minutes)

The new film rankings are 5, 7, 3, 6, 10, 8, 14, 4, 12, 11, 9, 13.  3 was a heavy contender for the title of top film, but I enjoy 5 too much as a kid and 7 too much as an older viewer.  It 3, 5, and 7 are the top 3 and very close, and they are the notable big three.

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time IV Journey Through the Mists.

The last film of The Roy Allen Smith Era, and the last one to be directed by him.  It is written by Dev Ross.  Besides The Wisdom of Friends (13) it is the only one without Littlefoot on the mid cover, which has Cera’s tail.  That was always odd to see.  Also Warren Taylor instead of Jay Bixsen is the editor.  Icky has a pair of binoculars on the front cover above, which foreshadows his song.  Most critics hated this, but the target audience loved it.

The commercial to Flipper brings back memories, as my sister loved it, but it feels nothing like the film.  I cannot say the commercial to this film, which is next, is good.  The “We Sing Dom” commercial is also poor.  The most interesting part of the trailer is they put the Universal Cartoon Studios logo before instead of after the film.

Unlike the others it right away reveals the title.  Based off this and the poor animation I think it was made really quickly.  The opening does have some good foreshadowing when a whale opens his mouth to resemble a crocodile.

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It is also impressive when he jumps out of the water.  We also get to see some egg stealers (presumably Ozzy and Strut) included) running from a sharptooth resembling Chomper’s dad (a popular misconception is there is no land sharptooth this film.  Only 9 as that distinction).  I guess they ran back to the herd, so they would only have to outrun their slowest herd mate.  Back in The Great Valley Cera knocks food off a tree and laughs by saying “Hee.”  I know that with Candace Hutson as her actress she did that a few times, but she does it five times in this film.  I surprisingly found it to be a cute laugh that sounded like it came from a kid.  Littlefoot chases a Drangonfly and sees a herd of Longnecks coming in.  He and his grandparents go to greet them, but Grandpa has trouble getting there.

The  grown-ups meet the herd.  Mr. Threhorn is really quiet after getting nearly the entire valley killed last movie.  Besides 13 this is the only one where he never talks.  The longnecks are lead by “Old One.”  She is called wise, which Littlefoot doubts.  She uses fear tactics to get others to join her migratory herd.  When she asks about The Great Valley they say it is the same as usual.  I guess a fire, drought, and famine in the last movie is normal.  Further proof this is not Heaven.  She then starts with the fear tactics by going on about how everywhere is changing for the worst and only Longneck safety in numbers can survive.  I would consider safety to be who can eat all the food before anyone else and ignore them, but it is convincing Grandma and Grandpa.  I do like how a few longnecks next film look like her herd implying a few got smart and stayed in The Great Valley.

Littlefoot and his friends play catch Cera where he meets Allie (no romantic interest, but it makes me wonder if the producers actually shipped Littlefoot and Cera like a few fans do).  Allie likes Littlefoot and is scared of the others due to them being different.  It is a good call back to the first one, and it fits the moral that all types of people are needed.  Littlefoot decides to play with Allie instead of his older friends due to her funny faces.  None are actually funny, so I presume he really just wants to make The Valley’s guests happy.  Seeing that makes Cera declare Littlefoot to no longer be there friend.  In a good move the others vocally disagree, and it is obvious Cera does not mean it.

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Grandpa gets deathly sick.  The only way to potentially save him is to for him to eat the nightflowers, which are where the migrators (not called “far-walkers” or “wanderers”for some reason) are from.  Grandma gasps for the second time this film, and is discouraged when no one will help her get it.  Littlefoot is determined to get it.  Grandpa makes him promise to leave with the migrators with Grandma if he dies, which I find to be faulty logic, but The Old One really got into his head with her fear tactics.  I am really glad she has a small role.

Grandma sing the first song of the film and her only singing role in the franchise, “Grandma’s Lullaby.  Leslie Bricusse wrote the songs instead of Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman like all the others so far , and she did very well.  The song says the words “circle of Life” which got one of the worst internet fandoms angry, The Lion King internet fans.  They are overly paranoid everything is ripping them off.  Here is why it is not a rip-off that anyone should be able to see right away.  The Circle of Life was also mentioned in the first film, which came out six years before The Lion King, which turns the argument around using their overly simple logic.  Now it means The Lion King ripped off The Land Before Time, and there are plenty of other similarities before them.  This film is doing what sequels are supposed to do and remind the viewers of the original.  Some further proof the are not hoping to simply cash in on its success is the second film came out the same year as The Lion King.  It also mentioned the circle of life.  Both arguments still fall apart due to a major detail, both have entirely different definitions.  The Lion King uses a definition that connects all life to a food chain.  The Land Before Time and its sequels have a different definition.  It uses a circle to connect all parts of life and we all have to die at one point.  The final point is that “The Circle of Life” is not original to either film by a longshot.

The song itself has some very nice visuals, and it does not shy away from the darkness it implies.  I really like it.

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Littlefoot sneaks off to find the night flower.  He first enlists Allie since she knows the way,  but she convinces him it will be faster to bring no one else.  I am starting to think Cera has a point.  Grandma is not happy.  Ducky volunteers to go get Littlefoot, but Grandma makes them promise not to presumably knowing it is all she can do to keep them in the valley.  There is actually an important landmark coming up when they leave.  This is the first time since the original a majority of the film takes place in The Mysterious Beyond.  Allie and Littlefoot arrive at he best part of the film, the cave.

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An earthquake (another callback) sepearates them.  Allie leaves to get help being on the right side for that.  Littlfoot meats a turtle who looks very similar to the ones he saw in 9 and in the opening to the original.  I love that part.  The turtle is named Archie, and he helps Littlefoot despite pulling a muscle.  Allie gets the others, as they agree after Spike decides to help her (good job Spike), but Cera stays back not trusting Allie.  It is obvious she will come later.

We are then introduced to the villains, who had a few quick glimpses earlier.  A crocodile named Dill and a sharp Beak named Icky.  I expected to heavily criticize them, but in the cave Icky is plenty intimidating and they are actually really funny.  They even argue like an old married couple wile singing “Who Needs you.”  As a 13 year old I thought this song was hilarious.  My sisters still love it.  I still like it.  One real problem though is a giant prehistoric crocodile is not as cool as a theropod.  They eventually find Littlefoot and Archie and chase them down.  With the rest only Spike is getting any rocks moved until Cera shows up and literally destroys rocks and one falls on Dill’s head knocking him out and taking out Icky too. Allie is the least useful.  The rock scene in 3 is really paying off.

Archie knows the way out and shows it as “If We Hold on Together” Plays.  It is very fitting for Archie’s speech about staying together.  I know I glanced over the cave scene rather quickly to save time, but it is a very good highlight, and I love it.

We are introduced to The Land Of Mists in a very similar way to The Great Valley, but it is much darker like it is evil.  They go to look for the nightflower.  Cera gets really scared (she has a lot of cowardice in her) by a serpent.  She should have done what Spike did, put Littlefoot’s tail in his mouth to not get lost.  Some boneheads start slamming into each other.  The egg stealers from earlier all run into the river and are presumably eaten.  Surprisingly they forget about Cera to find…

Tickles the Mammal

It is a fine scene except forgetting about Cera.  They then find Cera making everything look good again.  She gives another “Hee,” but she falls into the river due to the rocks falling.  Ducky throws her a vine.  Oddly Cera sees Dill and Icky coming to get her and does not swim to the rocks to climb up.  Icky instead of feasting on egg stealers cuts the vine.  They go to eat Cera instead of the horde of egg stealers due to their bad breath I guess.  Here is when Dill’s lack of threat hurts the film.  Dill gets stuck in a tree leaving the less threatening villain around.  Allie goes down to save Cera, which works and they finally like each other as “If We Hold on Together” plays.  It also contrasts the villains arguing.  Our final song “All Sorts” is the basic moral, and not much else.  It does give the villains another purpose, as they are too busy fighting over each others’ strengths and weaknesses instead of using them to help.  It does have a nice touch when Cera sings with Allie and Littlefoot even though Candace Hutson’s singing voice is not as good as Andi McCaffee’ singing voice.

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Look to the left side of the picture and similar to Icky’s binoculars there is a microphone on a pole near them.

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I think I know why I like Dill and Icky.  I am so used to them being portrayed as terrifying villains it is nice to see them being the main source of comedy.  The rest of the group finds the nightflower, but Dill and Icky literally just bump into them.  Icky captures Petrie, but Tickles gets him to bite Dill’s tail instead.  This turns Dill on Icky until they hear Cera say “Hee.”  Realizing where they are they follow them over a bridge where Ducky goes to retrieve a flower by half grabbing, pulling back, and then fully grabbing.  Icky captures Ducky.  Petrie finally makes himself useful by trying to safe her and nearly choking her.   Ducky falls unconscious, and she is about to be eaten by Dill (how did she get down there and why not get the others).  She is woken up by Spike talking.  I actually remember the first time hearing this despite the film coming out the year I was born.  I always thought it was a logical progression that he would talk eventually, and that is a very memorable part.  It wakes Ducky up and with Petrie and Spike’s help Dill instead grabs Icky with her mouth.   When she lets Icky out they finally leave.  They say goodbye to Tickles.  They wonder if they will all meet again someday.  Based on what the Evolutionist narrator says Tickles descendants will kill yours so no.

The rest get back and save Grandpa.  He is good, Cera gives one final “Hee.”  Five total this film.  The narrator says Allie will return not mentioning it is for a sucky episode of the TV Series.

When I was the target audience I never really cared about this one.  As an adult it depends on the year, but I always love Archie.  It has good foreshadowing songs, and humor, but it struggles in animation and mood.  Like 6 it depends on the year how much I enjoy it.

The new climax ranking is 5, 6,10, 7, 14, 4, 11,12, 8, 9, 13

The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Bestest friends (10) 4. Always There (5) 5. Grandma’s Lullaby (4) 6. Big Water (5) 7. “The Lesson (8) 8. “Family (8) 9. Adventuring (10).  10. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  11. How do You Know (13). 12. “On You’re Own” (6) 13. Who Needs you (4) 14. Chanson D’ Ennui (9).

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each), 5/4 (74 minutes each)

The new film rankings are 5, 7, 6, 10, 8, 14, 4, 12, 11, 9, 13.

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time V The Mysterious Island

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      Many people wonder how this series had so many fans.  The answer besides it being good is it was an alternative to Disney.  For those of us who did not like Disney we could still get our animation from Universal Animation Studios.
           The first commercial is a very good one for the series.  It mostly uses segments from 5, but they are scattered throughout the first five films.  Next is a commercial to Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie.  It is a horrible film, but the trailer is awesome. I am okay with the Chipmunks Adventure commercial.
      There are plenty of changes for the series starting with this film.  The box does not say MCA Universal, but the logo in the opening does.  This is the first film of The Theme Era, first film directed by Charles Grosvenor, last one with Andrea Romano as the casting director, the first film written by John Loy solely (out of seven).  The first one with Andi McCaffee as Cera’s actress, and the first without Candace Hutson voicing her.  Aria Noelle Curzon replaces Heather Hogan as Ducky.  Miriam Flynn replaces Linda Gary as Grandma Longneck.  all of these actor changes are still around.  I guess they wanted to keep Romano active until they replaced everyone.  Scott McCaffee, Andi’s younger brother, was replaced by Brandon La Croix as Littlefoot’s voice (Wikipedia says his last name is one word, but the credits made it two words).  Thomas Dekker would voice Littlefoot for the next four films, and he is the singing voice.
          
       The Universal logo does not make its usual music, but the opening music for the beginning of the film.  The narration has what appears to be a galaxy forming.  It is a dark opening with two herbivores fighting for food until Chomper’s mom eats them.  It opens with the main five characters first playfully fighting over the last tree star in their favorite tree, until it gets more serious.  I do not know why they should fight with everything else they managed through.  It includes a chase scene when it blows away, with very bad word to lip synchronization from Petrie.  Mr. Clubtail who is voiced by Jeff Bennet instead of Rob Paulsen in The Later Day Sequels gets it.
        
         I really should add this.  When I was younger this was my absolute favorite movie.  I have seen this at least fifty times, and can quote most of the dialogue.  As the usual voice of wisdom Grandpa gets them to forget it based on that The Great Valley has so much food.  That is until a plague  of locusts (“Swarming leaf globbers”) comes.  The opening before had an overly long foreshadowing, and was poor, but this is great to see.   It helps completely end the believe that The Great Valley is Heaven (which is not supported in the original), and it is quite scary to see it come to ruin.
          
      The Series is at its best with high stakes like 8 and 7 have.  This increases it by putting the whole herd’s life at stake like 8 did but also intense conflict between them.  With The Great Valley only having water the grown-ups meet in the same place as 3, and Grandpa points out the obvious.  They actually only listen when Mr. Threehorn agrees, as them agreeing is a real shocker.   Grandpa says they must leave, which shocks the others except Mr. Threehorn.  He says all of them are from The Mysterious Beyond originally.  The main characters fear they are dividing into herds, but the grown-ups decide to stay in one big herd (It was revealed in 7 that is how they arrived, but the young ones do not know that).
     
      The new actors are currently doing perfectly fine.  Hutson was not a good singer, but McCaffee is.  La Croix is not great, but he is doing perfectly fine.  Dekker does a great job at impersonating him as a singer.  Ducky and Cera’s new actresses give new youth to the voices.
          For the only time in the sequels the narrator narrates at the middle of the film explaining how they have found nothing.  It is also hard to tell if they are going through the jungle or rainforest part of The Mysterious Beyond.  They find a dead duck bill.  Grandpa says it was traveling from the opposite direction, thus it has no food.  Mr. Threehorn says it walked in circles.  Surprisingly many agree with Mr. Threehorn.  In 11 I understand that, but this is just two movies after 3.  He insults duck bills making them mad.  Littlefoot and Cera then fight.  For a while I thought this was a bad scene, until I realized it is all justified from their exhaustion and hunger.  The herds decide to split up, but at night the main characters leave.
        Their plan is to get the grown-ups to stay together by following them.  The grown ups owe them a life debt from 3, making this a very good plan.  They eventually find a huge ocean, and humorously spit it out.  Even Littlefoot then wants to give up until Spike finds a green island, and Petrie points out a convenient land bridge.  Apparently it is guarded by the tsunami goddess, which attacks them with Spike at the back.  It is a very good action scene.  They are happy to be with food until they realize the land bridge was destroyed.  The grownups followed their footprints and assume they are down the ocean.
          The group sings the song “Big Water” about how much it scares them.  As a kid my brother and I loved this.  Today I do not care for the words, but I love the visuals.  The next plan is from Cera, use a log to float home.  It works well until…
  
     I have been told it is the most realistically drawn animal in the series.  The swimming sharptooth is very scary, and this is a great action scene.  Petrie’s reactions are the best.  Also a piranha tries to eat Ducky to foreshadow it earlier.  They finally get back to the island just to hear a walking sharptooth on the island.

Grandpa is giving up hope on finding Littlefoot.  On the island something keeps resembling a sharptooth including a rock perfectly shaped like on (a dark call back to the original).  They sing “Always There.”  I really love this song, as it has very good sad parts from all the four singers including Littlefoot singing about his mother.  The next night they are scared by a shadowy sharptooth.  Nothing is scarier, so they keep it hidden, which is a nice different touch.

        It is actually Chomper from 2.  This is great.  Until we are reminded about sharpteeth.  How does he speak leaf eater?  He was raised by them, so of course he is bilingual.  He is sure his parents will love them as friends, but the main characters disagree and hide like squirrels from a dog.  Littlefoot thinks they are intelligent, which Cera doubts.  Littlefoot is shown to be right, and they interpret Chomper as joking and say his friends would be good dessert.  They also get excited when they smell Longneck until Chomper stops them from tracking them down by claiming it is his breath from eating longneck earlier.
          
      After they leave a Giganotosaurus shows up.  He sniffs out their old hiding spot and eats it.  Frank Welker is wonderful in this film.  His earlier conversation had so many emotions all portrayed through roars, and his portrayal of giganotosaurus is far more vicious than ma or pa sharptooth.  In a side plot Ducky nearly dies by leaving the group, which further shows how besides Littlefoot they distrust Chomper.  I like how they gave Chomper pectoral muscles to help us think he could kill them, but I do not like how he has three fingers instead of two like his parents.  His hiding spot is full of stinky flowers to keep them safe.  He gets them food during the song “Friends for Dinner.”  It is the least good song in the film, but still good.  He gathers “anything he wouldn’t eat.”  His parents see him and “…worry about that boy.”  Littlefoot still defends him, while the others half joke about him eating them.  It helps show that they are from two completely different worlds that naturally do not go together well.  Basically a friendship that cannot stay close, but Littlefoot and Chomper are determined to make it last.  They love Chomper’s food, but Cera accuses Littlefoot of offering his foot to Chomper.  I guess the journey through the mist left Cera paranoid.  Chomper leaves crying, and the others agree he will turn on them eventually.  Littlefoot rushes to apologize.
     After Ma sharptooth gives some surprising and needed comic relief Chomper and Littlefoot agree that they are very different, but can still be friends.  Chomper knows they took care of him at a young age and wants to return the favor, but Littlefoot knows they have to leave at some point, and he gives Chomper the point while staying very nice and appreciative.
     When Littlefoot gets back to the hideout the Giganotosaurus attacks.  It results in a very dramatic and fast paced chase scene, until they are trapped on a little peninsula with the swimming sharptooth in the water below.  All looks bad until Chomper bites his tail, and Cera charges to keep his attention off Chomper.  He then bites his own tail trying to get Chomper.  Eventually Chomper is trapped too until…
Sharpteeth to the rescue for sharpteeth vs. sharpteeth battle.  Same general length.  T-Rex is 7 tons.  Gigantosaurus is 8.  Gigantosaurus could run and jump better (I have also heard contradictory reports to the gigantosaurus’s advantages).  T-Rex has better mouth.  I think the T-Rex has better arms for fighting a big theropod giving it the advantage, as T-Rex arms were more fexible than most theropods giving them superior reach.  They are designed to beat big dinosaurs by holding them still.  Most theropods had inflexible arms that would claw up small dinosaurs, thus I think a T-Rex wins.  The parents do a strategy of tire it out by going one at a time.  Gigantosaurus and pa fight until…
 
                Sure the blood vanishes later, but this is great.  With a T-Rex’s jaw biting it there I think Giganotosaurus has a broken chest.  He fights Ma  despite his busted pectorals and more blood.  She is now nearly down, but Papa hits him in the head with his tail and sends him over the edge, but he knocks Chomper in.  Mama gets up and howls in fear and later anger.  Littlefoot realizes that if Chomper is not saved not only does he lose a friend but the sharpteeth will kill them all, for he jumps in after Chomper with Giganotosaurus still trying to eat them until he floats away with all of his broken bones and knowing he is crippled for life.  It looks good then.
 
        Then the swimming sharptooth shows back up, only to be a friendly swimmer (not the shark from earlier) who gets them up, and can get them home.  Chomper still wants them to stay, and his parents promise to keep them safe, but it is obvious even they have doubts about being able to keep the promise.  In a bitter-sweet ending (partly ruined by the TV series and 14) they leave and make a very sweet reunion with their families, as the instrumentals to “Always There” play.  I know “If We Hold On Together” was played at least once, but it was never notable.
            I still love this film.  As an adult not as much as 7, but as the target audience way more.  The Theme Era is the new top era.  This film has great scenes, lovable guest characters, an intimidating villain and intimidating sub-villains and heroes.  Besides Petrie everyone got a role.  The lesson is that despite friendships having to end due to circumstances the friends will always be true friends to each other by doing what is best for the other.  This film also gives a superior closure to Chomper than 2 does.

 

The new climax ranking is 5, 6, 10, 7, 14, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13

The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Bestest friends (10) 4. Always There (5) 5. Big Water (5) 6. The Lesson (8) 7. Family (8) 8. Adventuring (10).  9. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  10. How do You Know (13). 11. On You’re Own (6) 12. Chanson D’ Ennui (9).

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each), 5 (74 minutes)

The new film rankings are 5, 7, 6, 10, 8, 14, 12, 11, 9, 13.  It was close for the top spot.

 

 

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time VII The Stone of Cold Fire

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        As a young one myself I am the only one in my family who liked this one.  Then I got older and ended up loving it more.  Charles Grosvenor is again the director.  Lee Uhley is the writer, and it is the only one he wrote. Like The Big Freeze (8) Danik Thomas instead of Jay Bixsen is the editor.  This is the last film in the theme era, which focuses heavily on your heroes letting you down and dealing with it.  It was a great idea to use this after The Secret of Saurus Rock (6), which focused on heroism in a different way.
             Like in The Mysterious Island (5),and my 1997 copy of the original it has a trailer for the first five films, but it is extended to mention 7 (a little pointless) and show 6.  It also includes the second sing along by advertising “The Lone Dinosaur” from 6 and “Songs from An American Tail I and II.”  I did not know this, but the song they are playing is actually from the third film.  The commercial for The Life and Adventure of Santa Claus is very good, but I doubt the term “instant classic” and the “real story” includes fairy looking creatures.  The Road to el Dorado has a very funny commercial.  The one for Joseph: King of Dreams does not.  Both are fine movies.  The commercial for An American Tail 4 is not good.  I consider it to be t the same level as the second film in the series.
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             Like 6 John Ingle does not narrate, but Petrie is the narrator.  Instead of praising the dinosaurs as usual he goes further back by saying there was no Threehorn, longneck, “not even sharptooth.”  The last part reveals that they think the sharptooth came first interestingly.  The oldest creature and most important is the flyer.  Cera interrupts and…
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             The animation is a little different from the other films, and it took me a few minutes to get used to it.  Cera instantly questions it.  Cera and Petrie are very hostile for the beginning of this film.  Petrie reveals his source is uncle Pterano.  I used to think his uncle’s name was Toronto.  Thank you Pterano for helping me to memorize the major events of the War of 1812.  Back on subject Cera then says Mr. Threehorn taught her he was kicked out of the herd.  Considering Mr. Threehorn refused to tell her any details it actually makes Petrie seem more believable here except for his anger filled reaction, and it is odd seeing Petrie like that.  Ducky is much nicer to Petrie than Cera right there.  I still do not see much point to them watching the far walkers  other than giving an excuse for Petrie and Cera to fight a little more, and an excuse for the villains to arrive.
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             You can just make them out in the later shots.  Strangely Littlefoot has not had a story arc yet.  He wakes up in the night to see a comet.  I think this should make some problems, but not really.
I like how he looks blue at night.
             He tells Grandma and Grandpa and word somehow get around making the far walkers scared, so the rest of the Great Valley’s residents want it cleared up.  They are happy with the idea that it is a flying rock (despite a previous group nearly killing all of them in 3), but Littlefoot tells them that it was flying lower, had a tail, and was blue.  The animators did do a good job at making it look different from the asteroids in The Time of the Great Giving (3).  We then get to a part I really love.  A spiketail (not Mr. Clubtail) did not see it and dismisses it and then the rainbow faces come in.
         
           They are even better than Mr. Thicknose.  They dissect his reasoning as “If they cannot see it with their own two eyes it doesn’t exist.  What limited thinking.”  Even better is the comedic (but playful and questioning) music Michael Tavera uses making them seem even odder.  As a conspiracy theorist I love seeing them outsmart them.  Mr. Threehorn calls their idea that it was an extraordinary stone “impossible.”  They respond by asking him if he already knows everything (explored in a different way in 8).  He foolishly responds with “yes.”  They have the perfect counter.  “Why The Mysterious Beyond.  Why not The Boing Beyond, or ooh, The Nothing of Interest to me Hear Beyond.”  Besides being funny even for the fiftieth time this line is very smart.  The Great Valley dinosaurs are calling what they fear mysterious, yet insist they know about space and their conventional believes are all true.  Take that nellie Brie.  The rainbow faces start the first song, “Beyond the Mysterious Beyond.”  As a conspiracy theorist this really appeals to me.  They discuss just how many mysteries there are and how odd the Earth is, and that solving mysteries just leads to more mysteries.  Littelfoot joins in supporting them, and Cera joins in against them.  I really like how the male rainbow face holds an atom in one part.  After the song Grandpa reacts how any one would, confused that someone just sang an odd point.  They make the case that it is a magical stone of cold fire.  It can do miracles and it has messages from beyond The Mysterious Beyond.  Mr. Threehorn ends it by giving a very conventional argument and it works.  I guess warding off annoying guests is how he is still a major leader in The Great Valley.  Grandpa convinces Littlefoot not to mention it to their superstitious guests, but he can talk about it to Grandpa.
                    The group ultimately has different opinions.  Littlefoot acknowledges it makes little sense, but he knows it is different from the previous flying rocks.  Ducky just thinks it is contradictory, but she wants to believe it.  Petrie thinks it is too spooky.  Cera would  only believe it if she could see it, and then who comes in but Pterano.
           It took me a while to figure out why he is so creepy in his opening scene, until I realized they are making him subtly resemble a fallen angel.  He is a very popular character.  Michael York does a great job voicing him, and he even makes his voice resemble Tim Curry, while staying something else.  He subtly insults the other grown-ups, and he offers to help find the stone.  His hench flyers come in being more obviously evil, and he proceeds to knock them both over.  The rest of the group pretends to hear their parents calling, and they leave.  One flyer is Sierra (Jim Cummings).  He is aggressively trying to make sure they find the stone faster.  Rinkus is played by Rob Paulsen.  as a reference to Pinky and the Brain he is pink, which is great.  It is nice seeing an evil pink male for a change, and it makes it seem like he is the most moral making his evil moments more shocking.
          Littlefoot tells his grandparents that he meant Pterano, and he feels ashamed for not liking him, until the series reaches a first.  Even Grandpa Longneck hates him.  This is very surprising.  A cut after shows Pterano telling Petrie and his siblings a time when he fought a sharptooth, which further shows Petrie idolizing him.  To help prove himself to his uncle Petrie gets Littlefoot to tell him where the stone landed.  To recap everyone’s positions
Littlefoot- Wants to find stone.  He is worried Petrie will leave with his uncle.
Cera- does not want to find stone.  She feels like Petrie chose his uncle over them and should leave with him.
Spike-Quiet.
Petrie- feels like his friends have turned on his hero and himself.
Rest of the Great Valley-  Hate the stone and Pterano.
      Ducky is the anti-Pterano.  Pterano’s main flaw is he does not take responsibility for his actions due to his arrogance.  Ducky realizes she has hurt Petrie and goes to apologize.  On the way she overhears the fliers.  We get our fist look that Pterano is likely the most good of them.  Sierra is just mad that they are not already going.  Pterano says leaving early will make everyone else think they are up to no good, which Rinkus considers them to be.  Since it can get confusing I will remind you that Sierra is the brown one and Rinkus is the pink one.  Pterano insists the others just never knew his greatness.  He also says he will use the stone to take over The Great Valley.  If you have that power and a desire to rule why not.
  
          Sierra is actually a good hench flyer, and he catches Ducky spying.  Thus the fliers leave early with Ducky as hostage.  Not known for their intelligence the other dinosaurs except Littlefoot and Petrie think it is a sharptooth attack.  Who is on guard duty?  Littlefoot tells Petrie who turns on his friend and for a little while it looks like he will poke his eyes out until his mom tells him it is Pterano taking Ducky.  After briefly showing Petrie crying (first time in the franchise) he chases his uncle.  It was a great move to focus on heroes failing you after a film on finding heroes.  It really helps to make this a sad scene.  In a very good part for Pterano Rinkus knocks Petrie out of the air (after he gets the hostage situation details), and Pterano whips him for being violent and of course doubting Pterano’s non-violent behavior.  I think this was the first time I heard the word, “violence.”
         Back at the same meeting place as 8 Ducky’s mom wants them to go save her.  Petrie’s mom is looking on the bright side saying her brother will make sure no harm comes to Ducky.  Mr. Threehorn is heavily looking on the dark side.  It also becomes apparent based on information here and earlier that about every grown-up knew Pterano was talking to the children except Mr. Threehorn, a smart call from Grandpa I assume.  Grandpa also concludes he would never have left for the stone if Petrie could not get him the important information, thus they should have told them about why Pterano left the herd.

       

                The flashback scene is very good.  It has confused a few fans over whether the sharptooth attack is just them imagining it or real.  Considering Pterano is implied to have said what happened, and he had his own flashback and memory of it.  For one they gave the first usage of velociraptors since 3.  Tavera did a good job scoring it.  It also gives quite the backstory for why even Grandpa hates Pterano.  It is also important with how Petrie defends Pterano the whole time.  He finally concedes about his uncle’s evilness when it is pointed out he could never accept the blame.

With the grown-ups too busy arguing Spike heads after Ducky (he will show this type of initiative again in 14).  The rainbow faces watch approvingly.  At the same time the fliers land… Well crash.  Ducky gets away, probably knowing Pterano does not want her harmed making the consequences much less, but she falls down a hole.  Pterano is sad about someone he was in charge of dying, but Sierra mock comforts him by saying how he should be used those he is in charge of dying.  The rest of the gang gets to the vines, which they have to cross over.  In the film’s first real flaw Cera says she is always at the back, and everyone else backs her up.  In 6 Littlefoot and Spike were at the back.  Same in 5.  In 4 Ducky was in the back.  Spike and Ducky in 3.  In 12 Littlefoot.  I think Cera is always in the front.  In short they get across and by a big coincidence find Ducky.

After Ducky defends Pterano we get to song number two, “Good Inside.”  It is okay, but dull.  It does confirm that Littlefoot is pink, but I have realized it really affected my morals.  When I heard Lance Armstrong was guilty of duping I did not care.  I hear about King David’s sins, and I think he was still a man after God’s own heart.  I think it might be because of this movie that I still see heroes as heroes, rather than sinners.  After the song the fliers again grab Ducky, but she gets away by biting Sierra.  I can not blame her for waiting since doing it earlier would put her over a mountain and death.  It results in a  rather exciting chase scene partly due to Littlefoot really getting into the trash talking to distract Rinkus and Sierra and also due to them grabbing Pterano making it very clear that he is not really in charge. Littlefoot outsmarting them is important to his arc with the rainbow faces.  Petrie notices and is surprised Pterano stays with them. Pterano is so arrogant he assumes a small lecture will put them back in place.  It also uses “If We Hold On Together” which makes every scene better.

In a huge storm the fliers crash again (like last time it is played for both drama and comedy).  Pterano is hoping the children are okay, but Sierra talks about how he will feed them to sharpteeth, which hits a real sore spot for Pterano he banishes them from him finally and sings “Very Important Creature.”  When I was first a film nerd I thought villain songs were too one dimensional.  This changed my mind.  It makes Pterano comes off as more arrogant and hateable, more pitiful and rootable, smarter and dumber.  It is such a wonderful mix of thoughts coming to me.  Too add to the greatness Michael York sings it really well, Sierra trying to kill him and Rinkus slowly agreeing is funny like when Rinkus says “let him lead us to the stone.”  Wait, what?  The pink villain is the most evil.  This is a wonderful twist I did not see coming even sierra’s puns are now funny and scary.  They even regain Pterano’s trust by simply sucking up to him as they literally plot behind his back.

At the same time our heroes find the bottom of the mountain with the stone.  They go to sleep an wake up to find a huge pile of food, and they then see a rainbow face.  They chase him with music from An American Tail 4 playing.  He is stopped by the female.  She is mad he helped them, but since they are aware the rainbow faces are there they help them get to the top with gas pressure, and Littlefoot is even able to tell what they are planning.  When they are asked questions about how they know it they use a new catch phrase, “that would be telling.”  After they get up Cera saves Petrie from a rock to resolve their arc that we were no longer remembering. In its defense it takes up little time, and someone would have been mad if it was unresolved.

They find the stone using its marks and how the dirt is facing a direction, but the fliers arrive.  Pterano goes to get the power, and I guess the fliers are thinking if something bad happens he will die, but I would still suggest turning on him now.  Pterano messes with the stone, and the scene is dramatic enough to make me wonder if something will happen.  Nothing happens which is not disappointed, due to how heart broken Pterano is and I care about Pterano.  Rinkus and Sierra become more threatening and then more comical, as they hit the comet with rocks like mad fliers.  “You no need to fix, just not break.”  Petrie comforts Pterano by saying they the paradise he wants to make already exists, but the volcano starts to erupt.  The shaking makes Duck fall of a cliff, and I guess Petrie is too preoccupied in getting his uncle pardoned to notice.  Fortunately Pterano saves her (it was spoiled on the back cover of the box).  Petrie’s mom arrives to help save everyone else, as “If we Hold on Together” plays , and the main villains are nearly killed by the explosion.  Back in the Great Valley Mr. Threehorn who earlier took responsibility for making the group decide too slow so the children left, and Pterano have finally learned to take responsibility.  Since he saved Ducky his punishment is reduced from life banishment to banishment for five cold times (three have been verified to pass as of 14).  Petrie is the most disappointed, but Pterano then truly acts like the loving uncle he is even at his worst.  He vows to come back as a valuable member after his punishment is finished, but Mr. Threehorn hurries up his banishment by chasing him away.  Petrie sadly waves as he leaves.  It is a very good scene.  Afterwards Littlefoot runs into the rainbow faces.  They basically reveal that the Stone was just a test for how he would react and praise his intelligence from asking questions.  No wonder I value people who question life so much.  They then reprise “Beyond the Mysterious Beyond” (also reprised with just instruments in the credits).  Then a tractor beam takes them and Littlefoot sees a spaceship leave.   I love this idea.  It even is better than putting magic in the series.

I love this movie.  Pterano is wonderful.  Littlefoot and Petrie have such great stories.  This has terrific songs.  Ducky, Cera, and Spike all have really good parts giving this film the best job of using all five of all fourteen movies.  The scary parts are good, the sad parts are sad.  As an adult this is the best of the sequels.

 

The new climax ranking is 10, 7, 14, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13

The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Bestest friends (10) 24 “The Lesson (8) 5. “Family (8) 6. Adventuring (10).  7. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  8. How do You Know (13). 9. Chanson D’ Ennui (9). 10. “Things Change (12).

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each)

The new film rankings are 7, 10, 8, 14, 12, 11, 9, 13.  7 is now number one, and it is not close.

 

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 14 Journey of the Brave

Image result for the land before time journey of the brave box

After an eight year hiatus the series is back.  For me this was basically equal expectations overall. The editor was Luke Guidici, which makes this the first one since The Big Freeze (8) to not be edited by Jay Bixsen.  It has new producers and writers.  The director is Davis Doi, the writer of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  The master of fear himself is directing sharpteeth.  The writers of Balto are writing this making it the most prestigious group to make a film in the franchise since the first one.  Fortunately music composer Michael Tavera is back.  Despite these changes the franchise has dealt with no returning people before, and they had more time than usual to make a movie.

The film starts with one of the fun features of watching these, the commercials for Universal throughout the years.  There commercials used to be great, but now they are not.  I did not know Universal made the Barbie movies until they were advertised on The Land Before Time.  We then have a decent Thomas and Friends commercial, the only series where the characters look unnatural for moving their lips.

The Universal logo is by far my favorite.  The Earth in it is now designed to look like it is filled with cities.  To make it even better the shot of the logo and the opening is now one shot.  Strangely John Ingle is no longer the narrator for the first time since the first film due to his death, as Tony Amendola takes over.  It is a good impression.  What is truly strange is he does a title drop.  In thirteen movies no character or narrator said “the land before time,” except for one time.  The narration has to be made with a plan on weather the primary plan is to attract new fans or keep old fans.  They went with bringing in new fans, which is sound business sense and by bringing back Bron most old fans were still interested.

Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom returned to write the songs, but I finished watching it sure they brought in other people.  This is far from their best work.  Right away the main five characters sing “Today is the Day.”  It has good foreshadowing of the climax, and that there will be plenty of conflict between the protagonists.  Speaking of that this probably has the most screen time dedicated to the heroes fighting amongst themselves since the first one.  Normally something big happens making them argue, but here it is a chain of many smaller issues.  I still find it weird that the Great Valley has snow again, since it only happened once in recorded memory.  I guess Pteranto can come back after three more cold times.  At this rate he will be back for the Land Before Time 25.  Also Ducky’s mom has another litter.  I think at is he first since the second film.

Grandma Longneck is still voiced by Miriam Flynn, but with Kenneth Mars’s death Barry Bostwick is his new actor.  His voice is not similar to Mars at all, but it could just be assumed as he go older it changed, and he still can capture his wisdom, kindness, and alertness.  Since Bron and his herd are returning they go to look, but they do not see Bron.  Grandpa says he is sure there is nothing to worry about?  Considering the theory the characters are in Heaven makes the assumption Heaven is filled with dangers.  Grandpa tells his grandson, “I would say there is a lot to worry about.”  Right then Wild Arms runs in screming “Help!”

To what I can tell Wild Arm is a popular character. He is never too funny to me, but never really slow.  He is a flat character and actually fakes hidden depths.  A common moral in this film is leadership, and he is the idiot who thinks he is a great leader.

Thus the second most important part of the film, the beginning is good.  It is a little later when it really shows that the primary audience is new fans.  It is hard to judge Littlefoot’s new voice actor in this one, because his main non generic leader guy characteristic is that he is the not-so-stoic.  Here it is a very emotional journey so of course he is more emotional, and that may be why he does not want his friends along, while in the older films he knew they would come.  I would think he is just joking around, but he clearly did not expect them later.  His plans here are still good.  He is still smart and full of compassion.  Littlefoot is still the driving force on success, but he is not dedicated to the group as usual.

Spike’s characterization was not as subtle.  Spike from films 2-9 was the clear second in command as shown in 4 and  7 where they looked to Spike for leadership when Littlefoot was indecisive or gone.  Most likely as he is the second most moral and can tell when others are truthful (4) or determined to help loved ones who need help (7).  Here when everyone else is suffering from internal conflict Spike is the one who constantly uses the time who notices smaller paths and other things that can help him.  It is easy to interpret him as a genius from this one who just cannot talk yet, while he was previously shown as an idiot who was occasionally brilliant.  He showed the leadership theme by showing good leadership in danger is focusing on the task rather than petty arguments (which Littlefoot usually does).

Cera is the most hostile she has been since at least 4.  It mostly shows that Cera is speaking for the others when she mentions important parts of a journey like sleeping, drinking, and eating.  Littlefoot wants to ignore those to get to Bron sooner.  Considering they nearly get killed when stopping the film is against Cera, but not her methods.  Oddly she is the one being quiet and less forceful about getting her way, which is the opposite of what happened in the first one.  I actually really like this part.  It makes perfect sense as she is not emotionally attached to Bron, and it is a good reminder to the original film, while not ripping it off or senselessly reversing from it.

Ducky…  I cannot think of a real point Ducky has here.

One part looks like filler, but it is very important to the themes.  Some Compy like leaf eaters declare Petrie their leader, as he can get food for him.  After he leaves they give the title to another who can get them food.  As a viewer could make out they are designed to look a little unsettling and not be a good thing.  They represent the idea that a leader is merely the provider.  When Petrie cannot give actual advice it shows there is more to it.  Even better when Ducky asks Petrie for leadership over Cera, as that is the funniest part of the movie.  Plus Petrie’s followers are ugly cute.  The scene is funny and a little scary.  It fits with the theme, and I think it is the best part of the movie.  besides this part there are parts where Petrie is misused like Littlefoot climbing a ledge to get a birds’ eye view rather than telling Petrie to fly up like in the previous films.  It depends on the year about whether Petrie or Littlefoot is my favorite character, and despite being pushed to the side here Petrie is the best in this film.

Just because the primary aim is the new fans the film still wants to keep old fans, and that includes the series.  I love the franchise, but the series stinks.  Part of it is 22-23 minutes is not enough time to use seven main characters and all the guests with plot instead of character driven stories.  To please fans of the series Chomper and Ruby were included, which really surprised my dad.  If you have not seen the series it makes no sense why Chomper is there…  Even if you have seen the series the explanation makes no sense.  The writers found a role for them, which could have easily been removed.  Sure there role is useless, but it does not take much time.  Just because something does not advance the plot does not make it bad.  It can show how life goes on for others, make fun scenes, or (like here) give the viewers a break from the main plot.  Their story gives a break from all the internal conflict.  It also gives the viewers time to analyze it.

Etta is one of those characters who is an unhelpful annoyance to the main characters at first and then becomes helpful.  She has quite a few rewatch bonuses, but she could have been removed without much of a real problem.

It could be argued their are some inconsistencies, but I think it still holds up.  Bron’s herd seems to have non Longnecks in it, but they are probably just temporarily joining with other herds for protection, and he does seem to only be in charge of the longnecks.  I already mentioned the snow, which is apparently common.  The narration does always say the world is changing.  The characters now know what feathers are, which they did not in The Day of the Great Fliers (12), but I guess they made a word for them since.

The songs are a mixed bag.  When watching the credits I was surprised to see that the main writers did them.  “Today is the Day,” while a fine song is not too good.  “Hot and Stinky” was panned by me for a year, but it grew on me some, mainly due to Cera’s lines, but there did not need to be a song around them planning on how to escape sharptooth.  “Look for the Light” tries to be a spectacle visually which the budget does not allow.  “Better off Alone” is the one I really enjoy.

 

 

 

DTV Wonders: Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

Zombie Island

The Scooby-Doo franchise looked to be nearly dead, and then the undead brought it back to life literally.  It was so good the nostalgia for zombies is still going.  The promise of real monsters was too much for my family to pass up and this is normally considered the best of the franchise.  We watched it a few years after it came out and, it was terror time again.

Image result for scooby doo on zombie island opening

The beginning is very good, as it feels like Scooby-doo with the slapstick and all the characters being true to their personalities,  while introducing the darker atmosphere.  It also does some fourth wall breaking.  Since the recent serieses have normally not had the entire gang together (or made them children) the gang starts having gone their separate ways (done much better than in the live-action movie).  They also get back together quickly.  Does it hold up today?  Part of its importance is giving Fred, the generic guy, a personality.  The recent series, Mystery Incorporated, did that making it seem unnecessary.  It does help show what Daphne will be like this film and give the audience a chance to get used to the new voices.  It also helps with the atmosphere of legit friendship between the gang.  Something that direct-to-videos often excel at.

We then get a good reminder of the usual formula, which helps the climax of the film and will potentially be dull.  It is to a notably exciting montage, but keeping it short and the good darker animation keeps it interesting enough.

One thing this does better that anything is showing Louisiana well (more on this when I get to season 16 of Arthur).  For one we do not celebrate Mardi Gras every day, and it is not shown here.  There are not alligators in the city.  Our accents are not impossible to understand.  We call it New Orle-ans not New Orleenes.  I am pretty sure the writers had been to Louisiana.  Daphne is annoyed that no monsters are real.  She wants a new challenge.

Zombie Island

A local, Lena, then tells them about an island with a real pirate ghost.  She offers to take them there, and Fred wants to go, as he has an instant crush on her and wants to find the guy in the mask.  Daphne wants to go for the chance at a real haunted house.  I think Velma mostly wants to solve another mystery.  They go by ferry where to help add to the more dark mood Shaggy and Scooby are nearly eaten by alligators.  Who saves them?

Zombie Island

He instantly demands everyone else leave.  He growls everything he says, has Mark Hamill’s voice.  He is a hunter, a typical acceptable target, and he looks creepy.  Contrary to what the live action movie said the creepy guy was almost never the villain on the original show.  They were the red herring, and when I saw this at four years old I knew he was the red herring.  I also remembered that since the monsters are going to be real then it must be that no human is the villain.  Today I would have not thought that due to how many characters are introduced, but my four year old mind was not that genre savvy.  After that we are introduced to Beau and Simone.  Beau is also like a red herring but I knew for two reasons why he is not the villain.  He is far too handsome and Velma and Fred suspect him too much.  Simone is clearly the victim who needs help.  I forgot those people were often the villain in the original show.

Simone at first seems to dislike the gang, but she is clearly more receptive when she learns they are interested in the hauntings.  Time to discuss the comic relief antics.  In a few later DTV films, What’s New Scooby-Doo, and Mystery Incorporated Scooby and Shaggy’s antics fit into the plot very well.  Here some are fun, but they mostly distract from the plot.  I am amazed the run time is only 77 minutes with all of them.  Still, it is a powerful scene when they are interrupted by a sword drawing “get out.  beware.”

Image result for scooby-doo on zombie island beware

Rewatch perspective:  Why not write “Beware, your hosts and ferry driver are human sacrificing super strong cat creatures.  Flee and steal some way home.  Take the gardener with you preferably.”  In its defense they probably assume their actual method will be more effective, as they do not know how skeptical of real monsters they are.

The scene is always quite freaky as new words appear in between shots, the music, the characters going from in control to having no idea what is happening.

Zombie Island

Fred is still incredibly convinced it is a hologram (that only appears on tapes instead of regular life).  Daphne thinks it is real, and she wants Fred to consider it.  Velma seems to think it is something she will figure out later, and Shaggy and Scooby think it is an excuse for a picnic.  Until they find Morgan  Moonscar’s ghost as a zombie.

This is quite the frightening image.  The characters move slow to add to the suspense, but the villain does not seem slow.  The fright and confusion from Shaggy and Scooby is way more than I had ever seen before.

Rewatch bonus:  Normally the ghosts are supposedly not trying to hurt them clearly are. Here he has a cutlass, yet he never strikes with it, and it quickly disappears.  Even better in the rewatch what previously was just scary is now scary and sad.  His eyes in the above picture look angry, but that is because he is fighting the villains to save the gang.  He looks more sad and in desperate need of help when he first shows up.

They run into Beau whom Velma is now deeply suspecting due to him always appearing and reapearing in accordance with the zombes.  It actually comes off as Velma being over dramatic.

This film relies on the big moments over being consistently good.  The scenes that build up to bigger events do not need to be good in these types of movies, and one of the biggest scenes is where more zombies come.

 

Zombie Island

These zombies are full of body horror.  One eve appears to be a pregnant women.  They all look different.  I knew when watching this it would have real monsters, but this is far more scary than I suspected.  Then Fred rips one of their heads off to unmask it only to have a headless creature put its still moving head back on.  He is still in denial, but now a far less honest one. We then get to the chase to the song, “Terror Time Again.”  It is woderful and really develops a style of fear.  Besides “All Dogs go to Heaven” I have never seen a film this scary and it just gets scarier.  This is even scarier than Mystery Incorporated.

After all this Scooby and Shaggy are still running for their lives.  Velma, Fred, Daphne, and Beau flee to the house.  Velma still suspects Beau.  Fred is now speechless.  Daphne knows no one will believe them.  Beau is mad to be a suspect, but now more upset.  According to Lena, Simone has been captured and…

One line by Daphne is “This is more haunted stuff than I really wanted.”  The entire audience agrees.  It turns out Lena and Simone are cat creatures who need to make human sacrifices to stay alive, as they have done for the past 200 years, putting this movies death count at well over two hundred thirty people.

Image result for scooby-doo on zombie island cat creatures vs zombies
If this is Uncle Beauregard it is like my family reunions. 

The climax is just amazing.  It has zombies saving the gang on multiple occasions.  The comedy helps the drama instead of distracting from it.  It is exciting and we get to root for the previous red herring villains, which would be incredibly fun if all the horror, fridge horror, and plots did not overshadow it making it feel like actually being there.  It also has the sweet ending where a Confederate Zombie stays just long enough to thank Scooby-Doo.  The only problem is the resolution is too quick, but that helps make the zombies responsible for saving the day.

This film has a few methods I do not like such as relying on the big scenes rather than making the entire thing great.  It also has mood problems, but other than that it is great.  The acting is  good.  The animation is very good for the story, the plot is wonderfully complex.  The characters are very good.  The idea is something everyone wanted to see, and it gave us way more than the audience thought they wanted to see.  It is a very good film that revived a franchise.

Arthur and the Very Beginning of Season 1

                          Arthur’s Eyes

It begins well with D.W. thinking Arthur was born with glasses.  D.W. found a picture of Arthur before he got glasses, and she assumes the picture is of a hidden third child since Arthur was born with glasses. The beginning of this episode is a good showing of their love-hate sibling relationship, but it goes downhill from here. This is before most title cards were made and the “swimming Arthur” card just means it is about the Arthur character.  It is a very common title card in the first few seasons.  Since Arthur cannot see he fails his math test, but there teacher, Mr. Rubio needs to take math lessons, since he says anyone with four or more mistakes should see him, yet there are only four problems. Most of the voices are very different now. Binky especially had a much deeper voice. The humor this episode like Arthur half blind going to the girls’ bathroom when every girl except Fern and Prunella are in the bathroom at once is more wacky than the later episodes’ more realistic humor, but that is not bad. The ending is fine, even if Francine’s humor is annoying, while Binky and D.W. still give most of the laughs. The animation is recycled form itself many times like Fern constantly just standing there in basketball.

AE41

What is she planning on doing? I guess the animators really loved drawing her. Also Sue Ellen is in an episode that takes place in second grade despite not showing up until third grade.

This show is very similar to Peanuts especially in the earlier episodes where most characters showed the potential meanness of childhood.   The notable differences are more time to the adults, Arthur being more of a winner than Charlie Brown, and Buster being nothing like Linus.

Only Binky, Francine, Buster, and Arthur are given actually character. Arthur is somewhat of a loser due to his lack of vision, but it goes away. He seems to really care about how others think of him, but he decides that is not important (a regular moral). Buster is mostly a loyal friend, but he can slip up like when he mocks Arthur when he thinks Arthur is not around. Francine is a teaser and a very mean one. Binky in this episode is just not smart. D.W. is very curious and too quick to act.

As a whole this is a good episode, but it is far from one of the best and probably one of the worst episodes of the first season.

I would like to point out for the first season the Executive Producers are Micheline Charest and Carol Greenwald.  Producers are Ronald A. Weinberg and Cassandra Schafhausen. Greg Bailey is the director. Ken Scarborough is the Story editor and head writer. Akom is doing the animation. For the first 13 seasons each cast list had one big one for the season. Michael Yarmush is Arthur. Michael Caloz is D.W. Bruce Dinsmore is Binky/dad. Sonja Ball is mom. Danny Brochu is Buster. Jodie Resther is Francine. Melissa Altro is Muffy. Luke Reid is Brain. Arthur Holden is Mr. Ratburn. Tammy Kozlov is Prunella. PAtricia Rodriguez is Sue Ellen (uncredited as Francine’s sister, Catherine).   The late Walter Massey is Mr. Haney. Joanna Noyes is Grandma Thora and Grandpa Dave. A.J. Henderson is Mr. Crosswire. Bronwen Mantel is Mrs. McGrady. Joe Fallon wrote the first episode.

                       Francine’s Bad Hair Day

Francine’s Bad Hair Day takes place in third grade after “Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn.” Altro’s voice for Muffy sounds much younger than it will in a very short time. Muffy clearly knows all of Francine’s week spots. Francine does show she cares more about sports than looks since her dream is more sports based. In later episodes Muffy would have paid for Francine’s makeover. Since Francine teases everyone else so much I like seeing the reverse. Brain’s first lines are gravity jokes. In the first game Fern is catcher, but in the second game Jenna is catcher. Maybe with Francine gone Fern is taking her place at shortstop or something.  Unlike most of the less good episodes of season 1 this does not have the fault of being resolved too quickly, but it as a dull plot.

Arthur_3rd_Grade_Picture

For animation it has plenty of the side characters just being still, but it also regularly points out its own animation errors like mentioning invisible rips.

 Arthur’s Teacher Trouble/Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn

This episode has changed titles over the years.  The original title was referenced in two other titles, which is why I prefer the first title.

Ratburn

The students get Mr. Ratburn, the show’s fourth best character, as their teacher.  This is referenced even in the most recent seasons.  They get a teacher they are horrified of and they overhear him say he needs heads.  Arthur, Buster, and Francine try to stop him, as they watch him do what seem to be many part time jobs.  Eventually Arthur and Buster discover he was talking about puppet heads and he tells them about organizing their time, as he is a teacher everywhere.  The boys leave all happy until Mr. Ratburn reminds them of their geography reports due on the second day of school.

Mr. Ratburn is characterized as a very hard working, smart, and good teacher, but also incredibly hard.  He really is the most thoughtful adult on the show and this is where the show really begins to stand out.

The first time that Mr. Haney is used as a clown where he forgets the clown and falls over on his horse. The animation is much improved. Characters that are not talking are still really still, but they have clear expressions and they are blinking more. They are also moving more often. The list of animation errors like the last two episodes is huge, but these are less notable errors. The recycled animation in “Arthur’s Eyes” were very obvious. In “Francine’s Bad Hair Day” they kept pointing to things that did not exist like the tear in Francine’s dress” but here they are less notable and better hidden by a superior story. Even better the fear is making the characters act more robotic temporary, which the animators take advantage of to make both an ominous and humorous mood.

                    Arthur’s Spelling Trubble

It has the rain title card, which usually means a minor disaster.  Arthur is nervous about a spelling bee and imagines himself as Benjamin Franklin flying his kite.  The first time I ever even heard of Benjamin Franklin.  Also I think it is the first time Arthur’s last name, Read, is revealed.  The flash forward is over and it is revealed Arthur has trouble spelling and he is fine with that.  He still studies some for the class spelling bee to try to get the prize, but he only learns Aardvark since he just listens to the now loved song.  Fortunately that is his word.  Normally that is against writing 101.  Coincidences should never help the protagonists, but it is immediately revealed the prize is to compete in the all school spelling bee that it is more of a curse.  There is also something about everyone else’s arrogance contrasting Arthur’s humility that make him more likable than usual.  He tries to drop out, but in an important scene Mr. Ratburn tells him he can become a great speller.  It is a touching scene to see such encouragement and it really motivates Arthur.  His whole family helps him get ready and he wins the spelling bee.  To show how much the writers love this they mention it for many seasons and even posted it as Arthur’s favorite event on facebook.  This is the new reigning best episode.  It also cements Joe Fallon as the favorite writer.

                                   D.W. All Wet

D.W..png              In this episode D.W. is afraid of octopuses and she eventually overcomes it when Arthur is pretending to be in danger.  She is portrayed as shockingly brave around some things like sharks and fearful around others like octopuses. She is also shown to be courageous at the end. This has a compelling plot, but some parts that do little to actually advance the plot like Buster’s water cap, which at least plays a role and Buster and Arthur’s plot does not feel rushed, a real strength the show will use. D.W. is funny and heroic, which is a major reason why she is my second favorite character.

 

Shark
Hi sharky.  You have nice teeth.  I want one.

 

                        Buster’s Dino Dilemma

There is plenty of early installment weirdness.   Buster will go on to be a goof ball who is book dumb and obsessed with food. Here he is portrayed as very smart and he even the least concerned about food of the entire class. Apparently the food was really good, since no one noticed Buster finding a fossil and jumping in the water. This further characterizes Buster as a trouble maker and Arthur as his conscience. This is where the Arthur character when he is not the lead is first shown. He is trying to be everyone else’s conscience and keep them moral, while not losing his own way. He also becomes probably the most moral child in the show. Mr. Ratburn gets further shown to be a good, stern teacher. Brain finally gets some real screen time. Oddly Alex gets a line, which is still incredibly rare. In fact he gets two lines in season one, two in an episode of season seven, and one in season eighteen.

It gets resolved too quickly (a common problem that will go away soon), but I did feel Buster’s pain as a dinosaur lover and the nightmare was really good.

                     D.W.’s Imaginary Friend

The first episode written by head writer, Ken Scarborough.  This introduces Nadine, D.W.’s imaginary friend.  Arthur wants to go to a theme park because, it has a famous new ride.  D.W. wants to go because it offers “barf bags.”  It is D.W. who convinces dad to take them, but Arthur tries to make her drop the imaginary friend.  Here D.W. is shown to be freakishly brave and smart, I like her even more already.  She regularly outdoes Arthur in their sibling rivalry, and I love watching it.  Buster’s love of food is finally introduced, which apparently chases everyone else off since only Arthur and Fern sit anywhere near him.  Like most of the early episodes it is resolved too quickly, but it does have some funny parts with D.W.

              Arthur’s Lost Library Book

Hand
I really love this shot

This episode is much better than I remember.  I planned on only briefly mentioning it, but it is actually very important for characterization and story complexity that will become prevalent later.

Everyone in Arthur loves the library, and it is shown in the beginning.  I also love the library.  It has great movies and books.  It is also great for college studying.

Back to the episode.  A parody of “Goosebumps” called “Scare Your Pants Off” has anew book.   It was years until I heard of the real series.  I thought Arthur made it up.  That will be a common part of reviewing Arthur.  The New book is The Mysterious Hand.  Everyone runs for it.  Even George who has Dyslexia runs for it.  Arthur borrowed a horde of other books (I am still wondering why he wanted a French-English dictionary).  Sure enough the titular book falls off and a non-mysterious hand(Binky’s hand) grabs it.  Arthur looks for it and D.W. does hand shadow puppets.  Foreshadowing that she is the narrator.  Arthur calls in Private Eye Buster Baxter…  I think this was made after “Arthur Accused.”  He then decides Buster is a suspect and goes to the one person who would never want to read any book.  Arthur’s plan is to go to each suspect and do a process of elimination. At least he is not leaving anyone out.  Binky just wants a badge.

 

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Take my Geometry book instead.

Arthur is not impressed with Binky.  Arthur narrows it down to Francine, Sue Ellen, and Buster (reveals their last names).  Arthur is forced to narrow them all out later.  Binky suspects George (foreshadowing him as the main bully victim.  For the first time Buster suggests an idea like aliens or mole people is then shown to be right.  The Arthur universe is full of strange creatures.  Arthur decides he indeed lost it, and it gives him nightmares.  He realizes he will have to pay for it and goes to do it.  Paige Turner (I wonder how often she got teased in third grade) then reveals Binky just returned it.  Arthur is happy Binky found even after Binky admits he had it all this time.  Arthur never told him the title and Binky assumed it was stolen since Arthur would never lose a library book.  He told no one he was reading since people laugh at him.  Arthur denies that he would…

 

“You just did.”  Binky warns him to not tell anyone he reads.

Binky is the third best character and he is portrayed how he will the rest of the series.  Someone who acts like a bully with many very strange interests.  He is book dumb despite liking to read.  He tries to keep it  a secret despite everyone knowing it.  He is actually very similar to Arthur, as he constantly worries about being called a baby.

I cannot tell if this one is better than “Arthur’s Spelling Trubble” or not.  It is no accident that of 8 episodes Fallon has written four and has all the top three spots.

Season one so far is not spectacular, as it is a hit or miss.

 

 

 

 

 

Children TV serieses I still enjoy

Yes, they had pre-school audiences in mind, but they knew getting an older audience would be an added bonus.  My older sister constantly insulted me for liking them more than her favorite movies, but these have an appeal beyond nostalgia.

When watching one old episode of “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” I could not stop.  The plots are not that good, but the characters could make almost anything work.  They clash with each other so well.  Ever time someone like Rabbit, Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, or Tigger talk there is entertainment.  It is still consistently good for a short watch that fills the small time space perfectly.

This was a great idea in the opposite direction.  In “Martha Speaks” the main value is from the plots.  A talking dog (that humans can understand) is not original, but it has plots such as the local conmen trying to become rich off her, a fake alien pickle invasion, and catching jewel thieves.  The characters were less memorable as the basic characteristics were common, but they were more stubborn than most characters with their ideals.  They even made a parody about Green Eggs and Ham about avoiding peer pressure.  Most shows show the person not doing the ordinary thing to be bad, but this showed them in the right.

And the greatest children’s show ever.  This has a basic sitcom like structure, but its ability to do so much story without feeling rushed in only fifteen minutes sets it apart.  Even in its dark ages of seasons 14-17 I never felt an episode was rushed.  Without feeling forced there are able to show how a character feels and then make a plot out of it, and it almost always seems to take just the right amount of time.  Since the basic pre has a low floor the plots are very important, which is what the dark age lacked.  The other seasons ad even quite a few in the dark age have stories that stay just as good for around the first ten watches.  I can watch many episodes and get the same pleasure as when I first turned the TV on to Arthur.  This is one of the only shows I watch regularly when it comes on.