“Watch My Chops” – Things That Go Woof In The Night (EPISODE REVIEW)
“Watch My Chops” (aka Corneil & Bernie) is a French cartoon about a dogsitter called Bernie, who has to look after a dog named Corneil, but this is no ordinary canine… Corneil can talk! In this episode, Bernie’s schoolmate Romeo comes over to his home to watch a scary movie, but mistakes Corneil’s cleaning as a paranormal activity. To cover for Corneil’s secret, Bernie says that a ghost does live in his apartment, and he has to convince other school friends that this is true.
The fun thing about this episode is seeing how Bernie can use Corneil’s secret to his advantage, knowing how his friends wouldn’t suspect Corneil to be the real culprit behind the staged haunting, and it takes quite the creativity to achieve Bernie’s desired tricks. From making a grandfather clock move on it’s own to flickering the lights, this dog and dogsitter team find imaginative ways to suggest that a ghost is up to mischief.
What really carries the episode though is the character of Martha, who stubbornly refuses to believe in anything she witnesses, while other characters are naively falling for everything. Audiences are rooting for Bernie and Corneil to successfully trick Bernie’s pals, so Martha makes for a good antagonist, because she’ll possibly break the illusion.
Her denial becomes so strong that it even inspires Corneil, who has already been a reluctant player in this, to try even harder to make believable ghostly antics, because he’s growing so frustrated by her criticisms of his special effects. What makes this even funnier is that Corneil is a stern non-believer of ghosts himself, so seeing such a scientific minded character being THIS bothered is highly comical, because Martha’s stubbornness annoys him more than his own principles.
Romeo, a character who is usually very cocky, is a wreck in this episode, and I really liked seeing this scared side of him. He shifts his dynamic with Bernie into a relationship where Bernie is the dominating confident force, and it is satisfying seeing a jerk like Romeo exposing what a coward he really is.
I also love Bernie’s theatrical approach to the whole stunt, donning a Halloween cape as he tours the apartment with a candelabra- the man knows how to play a horror host with style. Bernie is much more into this than Corneil, to the point where he embraces the project’s entertainment value more than it’s actual important purpose – which plays into Bernie’s childish personality.
Luckily, Bernie’s Uncle Rico does give our protagonists some fodder, leaving a birthday surprise in the cellar that will later double as an unintentional part of the prank – a punching bag stand hidden under a white sheet. It may seem a little contrived how well this plays into where the stunt is going next, bordering on the over-convenient, but I can’t say that Rico’s birthday present idea is too out of left field (especially when we know that Bernie is into sports).
To conclude, this was a pretty good episode! One that took the show’s usual formula into a weirder direction, a bit like another episode called “Close encounters of the third kind”. If you want a family friendly horror special, without any actual genuine scares, then this the cartoon is for you.
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