“Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” – The Phantom of Retroland (EPISODE REVIEW)
Written by Jambareeqi
When Jimmy tries teaching the pendulum effect to his class, everyone is bored to death by how unexciting his demonstration is, so Miss Fowl encourages him to rush through the experiment, much to the pleasure of his classmates. Jimmy is then upstaged by Nick, who puts on an atmospheric presentation for his Show & Tell, as he details a ghost story about a phantom who haunts the theme park “Retroland”, and everyone is blown away by the spooky tale. Annoyed that Nick’s show & tell got a better reception than his, Jimmy takes on the dare to prove that the phantom is an urban myth, and he drags Sheen & Carl along as witnesses.
This episode pretty much uses the Scooby Doo formula, but with no self awareness about it, so it just becomes a retread of what made old Scooby Doo episodes so predictable, because anyone of any age can immediately guess who is hiding beneath the Phantom’s mask. It makes for a boring mystery, as each “twist” comes as no surprise, especially when there’s only 10 minutes to work with (That’s half a Scooby Doo episode). However, the joke that the last pretend phantom was Jimmy’s mom was kind of funny, because she’s the least likely character to pull off this kind of stunt.
Why is Jimmy’s mom pretending to be the Phantom? Well, in order to trick his parents that he’s sleeping, Jimmy left a holographic illusion of him snoozing in bed, but the hologram machine glitches, and it ends up displaying Jimmy hanging out in his school playground. I get that this is a way for Jimmy’s parents to clue in on Jimmy’s sneak out, and it’s a setup for the joke that Jimmy’s dad thinks that his son’s playground is in his bedroom, but why would Jimmy even need to have a hologram of him playing in the school yard for his bedroom? I can’t imagine a situation where that would be helpful or beneficial! Just have the hologram machine shut down, then it’ll reveal that Jimmy is not in bed, simple as, don’t over-complicate things to contrive humour. I know that this show thrives on cartoon logic more than actual science, but Jimmy’s inventions need to at least make contextual sense in the series’ universe.
But putting aside the bland mystery and confusing mechanics behind Jimmy’s hologram machine, the episode does at least have a good message for Jimmy, teaching him that he shouldn’t use his science to ruin people’s fun, and that silly urban myths can be enjoyed by even the most scientific of people. Cindy, a character who is almost as intelligent as Jimmy, says that she can put aside science to have a bit of fun, pointing out that no one actually believes in the Phantom, they just want to get into the spooky spirit of a campfire style story. It’s good to use science to be sensible and logical, but letting it spoil everyone’s fun just makes you look like an annoying party pooper.
To conclude, “The Phantom of Retroland” is rather repetitive, rushed, and predictable, but I appreciate the lesson it sets out to teach, plus there are some funny moments that don’t rely on forced humour; like when Carl plans to confess to Jimmy that he’s joining the French Foreign Legion to get out of sneaking out. I can also imagine younger kids being creeped out by the phantom, with his neon lit skull faced mask lunging into the camera, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were scared of this episode as a kid. It’s just, Jimmy Neutron is fully capable of doing really good horror themed stories, like the episode “Nightmare in Retroville”, that was a great campy tribute to classic monsters, so this episode has no excuses to be such a boring let down.
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