Author Archives: jambareeqi

“Hey Arnold!” – Pigeon Man EPISODE REVIEW

Posted 8th February, 2023

When Arnold’s pet pigeon Chester starts feeling ill, he decides to take the poor bird to the legendary “Pigeon Man”. Arnold’s friends warn him that Pigeon Man is a disturbed psychopath, but once Shortman meets the eccentric Pigeon Man? The dude turns out to be a sweet gentle guy who genuinely loves birds!

“Hey Arnold!” has always been great at making us care about the outcasts of society, all thanks to Arnold’s natural empathy for the downtrodden or neglected. In this case, Arnold helps Pigeon Man to see that good DOES exist in humanity, because he’s a kid who sincerely adores pigeons just as much as Pigeon Man, but also has an optimistic view of people.

Pigeon Man is distant at first, but he slowly grows to trust Arnold, and the two of them develop a friendship founded on a mutual admiration for birds. In return for curing Chester, Arnold helps Pigeon Man to revisit human society again, and even buys Pigeon Man a pizza; something Pigeon Man has actually missed. It’s a friendship that works both ways.

It helps that Pigeon Man is voiced by the amazing Italian-American character actor Vincent Schiavelli, who gives the character this subdued calmness that’s very soothing. It’s Vincent’s dramatic and earnest voice-over that makes Pigeon Man feel all-too-real. Vincent is acting, truly acting.

This isn’t to say that Pigeon Man’s return to civilization is all gumdrops and rainbows, because while Pigeon Man is away, a bunch of bully kids decide to trash Pigeon Man’s home; which he shares with his pigeon friends. It’s a heart-breaking moment, a gut-wrenching scene that shows how humanity CAN be needlessly cruel – especially to unusual people and animals. Pigeon Man meant no harm, he just found stronger bonds with birds than humans, that’s it.

The episode ends bittersweetly, with Pigeon Man thanking Arnold for reigniting his belief that there are good people out there, but also deciding to fly off into the sun with his fellow pigeons. While there’s a tragedy to Pigeon Man’s rejection of human society, we can also understand his perspective, because there’s a truth to simple-hearted animals being easier to understand than people.

Pigeon Man is considered by many to be a magnum opus “Hey Arnold!” episode. I honestly can’t disagree with this consensus. It’s an emotionally rich and profound cartoon that explores the complexity of humanity, while also making kids better appreciate the rich intelligence of pigeons; a bird that’s pretty unpopular in the mainstream.

“Spongebob Squarepants” – Chocolate With Nuts EPISODE REVIEW

Posted: 7th February, 2023

When Spongebob and Patrick pry through Squidward’s “Fancy Digest” magazine, they become inspired to start a career as entrepreneurs, but what will they sell? After some hard thinking, they pick chocolate bars! However, each door-to-door sale is one conflict after another for the lads.

This cartoon takes the very basic storyline of Patrick and Spongebob becoming door salesman, and fleshes it out into a series of banger comedic sketches. No attempted sale goes to waste, because the writers consistently find SOMETHING funny to happen. From a customer rejecting chocolate for the sake of their health to Patrick getting uncomfortably intimate with one man, every interaction is laced with the hilarious humour that we all associate with classic Spongebob.

At the same time, it’s not just back-to-back different gags, because there’s also two sort-of antagonists on our heroes’ tails! A deranged fish who is chasing after them while screaming “Chocolate!!!”, along with a con artist who keeps outwitting the gullible Spongebob and Patrick. It’s these two characters who add some running tension to the very simple episode setup; giving it some conflict beyond Spongebob and Patrick trying to get rich.

There’s also a sense of character development for Patrick and Spongebob. At first, these two approach their business with a huge naivety, with both clearly having no selling skills at all, but their constant failure drives them to resort to exaggerating the chocolate bars’ worth to customers. It’s a rare occasion where these wholesome characters surrender to doing misdeeds.

I’ve rarely seen these characters ever experience a rags to riches arc before, but I guess it just took the appeal of the fancy wealthy lifestyle to push them to become corrupt businessmen. While it’s charming that Spongebob and Patrick are simple-minded lads who don’t need much in life, I do kind of like the thrill of seeing them lose themselves to natural temptations. Don’t worry though! The boys do get their comeuppances later on.

Chocolate With Nuts frequently ends up on best Spongebob episodes lists, which does NOT surprise me in the slightest, because it’s full of golden comedy moments that have become iconic memes. Heck, I’d go as far to say that 90% of the gags in this episode are still quoted or referenced in internet culture to this day.

“Recess” – Rainy Days EPISODE REVIEW

Posted on 6th February, 2023

I come from a country where we get more rain than sunshine, so I thought I’d re-watch a classic Recess episode that centres on drizzly weather! In this cartoon, TJ and his schoolmates are forced to stay inside while a rainstorm rages on outside. Not only has Miss Finster banned all forms of fun, but the activities she’s provided are also VERY underwhelming too.

It must have been hard to create a riveting story around a week of rainy days at a school, but this show tends to go above and beyond with simple premises. It helps that the episode opens with urban legend keeper Butch nervously giving a stern warning, as he urges TJ and his gang to be afraid of the week ahead. It’s a terrific way of raising anxiety for our characters over the days to come.

The escalation of stress each day adds to this tension too. Just as Butch prophesised, the kids begin fighting each other, while also mentally declining. Sure, this isn’t the only Recess episode where kids become vegetative shells, but this episode focuses on a day-by-day at a slow decay that happens in emotional stages.

You could defend Miss Finster’s strict stay-inside policy on rainy days as practical, seeing as kids could injure themselves or catch a cold, but Finster has banned outdoor play MAINLY out a spiteful desire for control. There’s something creepy about a teacher getting giddy and excited over students going braindead from a lack of fun, but that’s Finster for you.

Even though the cartoon has a sombre tone, it’s actually one of my favourite Recess episodes to watch when I want to relax. In spite of it’s melancholic atmosphere, there’s something laid-back about the rain trickling against window throughout the episode, or the mundanity of Finster’s no-thrills activities like bingo and puzzles.

Heck, this is also a surprisingly funny episode for what it entails. From Butch warning how they kids will eventually “Laugh at jokes no one is telling”, to Gus melodramatically threatening to jump off a small chair, there’s bound to be at least joke you’ll get a kick out of.

Not to mention, TJ still has his plucky spirit to keep everyone going. His trademark optimism radiates through the episode, as he stubbornly rebels against Butch’s predictions or snorts at Finster’s villainous smirks. It’s actually TJ’s determination that stops this episode from being a complete downer, which totally pays off once TJ realises that rain is harmless, and they disobey Finster to have the messiest Recess ever.

If you’re after a Disney cartoon that’s about overcoming boredom and fears of the rain, then I can’t recommend this one enough. It features Finster at her most campily devious, all while challenging TJ’s optimism after having his favourite time of day taken away by bad weather.

“The Powerpuff Girls” – Boogie Frights EPISODE REVIEW

Posted on 5th February, 2023

In this Powerpuff caper, the girls have their sleep interrupted by the funky “Boogie Man”, who has blocked out the sun with a giant disco ball to create an eternal night for nocturnal monsters.

The premise for this episode alone is pretty great. I mean, it took some inspiration to twist Boogie Man folklore into something more akin to it’s namesake (You could argue that Oogie Boogie came close, but he was more jazzy than funky). The episode really commits to this idea all the way too, by giving the Boogie Man a full-on 70’s makeover that’s reminiscent of a Blaxploitation antagonist; which is unsurprising when this show’s rogues gallery is one of it’s biggest strengths.

The Boogie Man himself walks with a confident swagger, rides a luxury limo, dons hip fashion, and has the mighty pipes of Kevin Michael Richardson. It’s his charisma and style that has helped him earn a celebrity status in the monster world, hence why monsters love him.

While the Boogie Man doesn’t get much screen-time with the Powerpuff Girls, the girls do make things VERY personal once they threaten to destroy his beloved disco ball; the one time where the usually cocky Boogie goes into panic mode. What follows is a brilliantly funky spoof of Star Wars, with Boogie’s limo turning into Vader’s ship, while the girls pose as Starfighters, and the disco ball serves as a shiny Death Star. It’s so genius how the cartoon carries on it’s Disco-theming right into a Star Wars parody.

At the same time though, there’s a subplot about Bubbles becoming self-conscious about her fear of the dark. Luckily, the professor teaches her the effective lesson of knowing that even the brave can be scared. This sentiment is then cleverly weaved into the previously described finale, in which Bubbles overcomes her timid nature to defeat Boogie Man ALL ON HER OWN! Not only did she conquer her fear, but she did it without any coddling or assistance too.

Boogie Frights is a classic Powerpuff Girls episode that has a lot of fun with it’s groovy concept, all while teaching kids about how bravery isn’t THAT black & white. If you’re after a more interesting tweak on the Boogie Man lore, then give this cartoon a watch, because you’ll definitely come out dancing after.

“Hilda” – House In The Woods EPISODE REVIEW

Posted 4th February, 2023

In this episode of Hilda, Hilda ends up lost in woods with the Woodman. The two of them explore around, searching for a way to help Hilda get back home, and come across a strange empty house. Said house grants wishes to it’s residents! All they have to do is think or say what they want, and the item puffs into existence. It sounds like a great treat, but then we learn that the house locks it’s visitors inside, and there doesn’t seem to be a simple easy way out.

I’ve currently been binging episodes of Netflix’s Hilda, as part of research for my upcoming video on 2010’s British Cartoons. This was the first episode that I felt inspired to actually write about, which is saying a lot when the show has been a blast so far.

I already love the dynamic between Woodman and Hilda. A plucky little girl with a “Let’s get on with this” attitude paired with a laid back and dry Woodman is a recipe for funny chemistry, Hilda’s impatience clashing with the Woodman’s optimistic reaction to being trapped in a wish house.

It’s also fun seeing what characters exactly wish for, because it says a lot about their desires or tastes. I especially liked when they didn’t say what they wanted, and their thoughts spoke on their behalf. These wishes get even more fun when more of Hilda’s friends arrive at the house, causing the wishes increase and diversify.

The episode is rich in tension too, because Hilda’s mom is worried sick at home, and her daughter can’t simply walk back. At the same time, Alfa and Raven have been assigned as rescuers by Hilda’s mom, so they must be anxious to not let down their friend’s mother. You really feel that a lot is at stake just by the simple end goal of Hilda getting back home.

There’s this charming cosiness to the house, but also a dark mystery at the same time. Things get especially sinister when any attempts at escaping are met with surrealist space-shifting. I was whimsically enchanted by the idea of a house that grants you anything, yet also apprehensive WHY the house was so eager to spoil it’s prisoners.

Is this a Hansel & Gretel style witch? Is the house a lonely sentient being? Are our characters trapped in another dimension? I really like that we never know in the episode, so it’s up to the viewers to speculate what’s going. I kind of hope that the series never explains it, because it adds some intrigue to Hilda’s fantasy lore.

This isn’t just a wacky weird fairy tale story though. The whole experience does make Hilda question where her home really is, and if she’s letting her nostalgia cloud her from admitting that Trolberg is also her home now. Being stuck inside a house that’s trying artificially simulate your home will do that.

All in all, this is my favourite episode so far, and I’ll be surprised if anything tops it. Then again, I’m only 11 episodes in, so maybe it’s too early for me to consider this the show’s peak? We’ll have to see!

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“Timon & Pumba” – Timon in Love (EPISODE REVIEW)

Timon Love 1

Written by Jambareeqi

When Cupid shoots his arrow at Timon with the intention of playing meerkat matchmaker, Timon ends up falling in love with himself, and Pumba becomes the third wheel for his best friend’s dates.

I’ll admit that the setup for this episode is a unique twist on the Cupid’s Arrow formula. Most cartoons that use this plot to create misunderstandings or pair up unlikely couples, but this one turns it into a tale of vanity.

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The problem is that this is a one joke premise that can only go so far, and is only funny for the first few minutes. Once we know that the narrative is basically spoofing every romance cliche in the book, but with the constantly same gag of Timon and Timon being the couple, then the humour becomes very predictable.

If anything, the joke just gets weirder and weirder as it goes along; to the point where I stopped laughing and started feeling strange. I was expecting Cupid to fix the mistake any second, so that the episode could find jokes from other pairings, but the Timon and Timon love story just keeps going and going. That’s the issue with stretching out a joke this thin, it can only escalate towards the level of uncomfortable awkwardness.

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Stakes are only introduced once Timon starts blaming Pumba for his failing self-relationship. This leads to the meerkat cutting off his best friend, but that only lasts a minute, because the two patch things up very quickly. After making up, Pumba encourages Timon to marry Timon – which isn’t too far-fetched when self-marriage (also dubbed as “Sologamy”) is a real life ceremony practiced by single people.

While folks are divided on self-marriage being a sign of narcissism or an empowering vow of remaining single, it’s clear that this show is playing the wedding for laughs, and Timon is just going through supernaturally-imposed narcissism – which is what makes the ceremony kind of “iffy” to watch. Luckily, Cupid FINALLY steps in to put an end to all this.

The episode does try to have a heart to it’s bizarre plot, by highlighting Pumba’s loyalty during this whole situation – even though what’s happening really confuses the Warthog. While I do appreciate Pumba’s faithfulness as a friend, I don’t think that his validation of Timon’s narcissism is a good example of healthy friend support (especially when it leads to Timon briefly destroying their friendship).

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To conclude, I think this cartoon is maybe testament to why not many comedy writers have approached the “Cupid’s Arrow” story this way before. There’s only so much you can do with the joke of characters falling in love with themselves before the comedy gets stale or uncomfortable.

It’s also pretty impossible to add genuine sincerity to a tale of vanity, because there’s a big difference between wholesome self-value and straight-up unhealthy egomania. If anything, this plot would have worked far better for a darker TV show, rather than a goofy and wacky cartoon like this, because of the tricky connotations attached to it and limited potential for humour.

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“Batman: The Animated Series” – Baby-Doll (EPISODE REVIEW)

Baby Doll 1

Written by Jambareeqi

Mary Dahl was a 20 year old actress with systemic hypoplasia – a rare condition that has stopped her from aging and makes her look like she’s 3. Mary was best known for playing the title character in an old sitcom called “Love That Baby”, which made her very famous, but falling ratings led to the producers introducing a character, and Mary left after feeling upstaged.

She struggled to pass auditions or find success due to her condition, and her family rejected her for the way she looked. Years later, Mary kidnaps the cast members of “Love That Baby”, and forces them to play into her fantasy of having the perfect family. Batman and Robin hear of the kidnappings, but aren’t sure who is behind the crime, until they research Mary Dahl herself.

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As a villain, Baby-Doll is quite the creepy antagonist, from how she frequently switches personalities to how she turns her innocent sitcom character into her evil persona. The fact that goofy comedic music plays in the background adds to this tension, because it’s such a jarring juxtaposition that it comes off as disturbing.

There’s something deeply unsettling about seeing these poor actors being used as vessels for Mary’s delusions. They try to keep brave faces in the situation, but there’s no denying how horrified they all are, and they will maybe develop PTSD after the whole experience.

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Mary is also one of the most tragic villains to ever appear on “Batman: The Animated Series”. A woman who suffers from body dysphoria due to being self-conscious of her condition, and has developed an extreme sense of loneliness after being abandoned by her own family.

Yes, she’s a criminal who uses her appearance to her devious advantage, but we can still sympathise with the tragedy of what she’s gone through. This is a woman who feels stuck inside a body that doesn’t represent her maturity or inner self, and has parents who never accepted her for who she is,. There’s bound to be mental health issues attached to such trauma.

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She feels betrayed by a world that has demeaned, exploited, and humiliated her. This is where Batman comes in, someone who truly wants to comfort this confused and scared woman. However, Mary’s life experiences have made her distrust everyone she meets, only putting faith in the minions she hires, and this means that she’s immediately reluctant to believe that Bruce has good intentions.

As intimidating as Mary tries to be, she’s terrified and alone deep down, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. I genuinely wanted to see her get some medical attention, because it’s clear that her sensitive feelings have been misguided, and a therapist could really help her find her own happiness. I mean, watching her crying as she sees the body she wants to be in being reflected in a house of mirrors is quite sad, and she does express regret for her actions once Batman confronts her in this funhouse.

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Batman and Robin themselves come up with some clever ways to outwit Baby-Doll, including tricking her that Robin is an old cast member – so kudos to them for saving these poor actors from Mary’s tyranny. It’s also super funny seeing Robin groaning at the cheesy sitcom they have to marathon for research (while in costume haha!). However, nothing tugs at my heart more than seeing Mary crying into Batman’s cape after facing her demons.

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To  conclude, I really loved this episode so much – adored it even. Mary Dahl makes for a menacing and fun villain, but her story is also testament to the consequences of neglecting or abusing those with body dysphoria, and how someone can hate their appearance enough to go down the wrong road.

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“House of Mouse” – Max’s Embarrassing Date EPISODE REVIEW

Max Roxanne

Written by Jambareeqi

It’s date night for Max and Roxanne at the House of Mouse, but Max fears that his dad will get in the way, and so the staff agree to keep Goofy distracted. However, Mickey and his friends do exactly what Max was afraid his dad would do! Can Max overcome to the embarrassment of all the attention?

With “House of Mouse” being a clipshow, the plot I’ve just described is only a quarter of the episode’s runtime, so don’t expect a rich detailed story. The episode’s pattern is basically this: Mickey and his friends try too hard to make the date special, Max hides under the table, and we get a cartoon screened in the theatre – rinse and repeat. Most comedy gags that are used to interfere with the date are just the one joke of “Remember that Disney movie?”.

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What makes the episode important though, is that it carries on the romance between Max and Roxanne. “An Extremely Goofy Movie” (2000) completely neglected this plotline, which upset a lot of fans of the original film, and so it’s nice to see the relationship being carried on here – even if it was then later retconned once again in “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas”.

It is quite cute seeing these two stare into each other’s eyes or Max being his usually nervous self around her. However, because the main joke is that Mickey and Co. are being nuisances, their relationship isn’t explored as much as Goofy Movie fans may want. Their date is more of an excuse to setup gags than a chance to develop a fan favourite romance.

What I did like about the episode is Goofy himself. You see, we get the impression that Goofy is back to his old helicopter parenting ways, because he seems so eager to wait for his son’s date. In a great twist though, we learn that Goofy genuinely just wanted to be a good waiter, and had no intention of bothering the couple. Unlike “An Extremely Goofy Movie”, the episode demonstrates that Goofy HAS improved as a parent.

I’ll also admit that it’s cute that Roxanne ends up admitting that this is the best date she’s been on. This was clearly a complete travesty thanks to all the unnecessary fussing, but Roxanne was too into Max to care about any disasters – plus she’s mature enough to realise that these problems are outside of Max’s power.

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Although, it does kind of bug me that Max doesn’t have faith in his dad, constantly believing that he’s bound to get in the way of the date. The whole point of his character arc in “A Goofy Movie” is that he comes to trust his father, and the two develop a stronger bond founded on mutual understanding.

Now, you could argue that my complaints don’t matter when the show isn’t canon, but the episode still features beloved “Goofy Movie” characters in it’s story, and a sense of responsibility is sort-of attached to using them. Not to mention, this is the closest we ever get to seeing Roxanne and Max’s romance carrying on, and that makes this a missed opportunity to fill an empty void for fans.

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In terms of being a clipshow, this episode includes two cartoons. One short is a cute and funny Pluto story that ties into the episode’s theme of impressing a girl. The other cartoon is a random Goofy skit about riding a bike? Which has nothing at all to do with the episode’s story – besides featuring Max’s dad. Neither cartoon plays an important part in the plot of the date too, and you could easily replace them with ANY other Disney short without any consequences.

To Conclude, this was a passable “House of Mouse” episode about respecting people on dates. However, it’s quite the let down in terms of satisfying fans of “A Goofy Movie”, either offering nothing new or rewinding development entirely. Sometimes it understands the appeal of these characters, but most of the episode is a series of excuses to setup mediocre gags or tired slapstick.

It’s fine for Saturday morning cartoon entertainment, but not entirely meritable as a tribute to “A Goofy Movie” – using these characters I love as vessels for cheaply-animated and not-that-funny content to bridge the gaps of a clipshow. If you want to just see a cute date being frequently ruined by Disney references, then this episode will satisfy you just fine, but others will be left with wanting more.

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“Kim Possible” – The Ron Factor EPISODE REVIEW

Ron Factor 1

Written by Jambareeqi

When Global Justice tells Kim that they believe Ron could be the secret to her skills, she feels both insulted and puzzled, because Ron is best renowned for his clumsiness. Unfortunately, GJ’s revelation goes to straight to Ron’s head, which puts pressure on his friendship with Kim. Meanwhile, an evil supervillain called Gemini plans to kidnap Ron in a bid to steal “The Ron Factor”.

This episode is very much about how Ron changes as a character. He does become quite the jerk, but not to the point where he goes TOO overboard, because this is still dorky Ron the sidekick. As the episode goes on, he continues to embrace his newfound narcissism, all until he’s kidnapped by Gemini.

Gemini

Gemini himself is your run-of-the-mill action show baddie, from his generic villain costume to the fact he coddles a little pet in a spinning chair. However, there’s a twist to his cliche character, because it’s revealed that he’s the fraternal twin brother of Betty – the head of Global Justice.

This makes the kidnapping way more personal, because it ties into Betty and Gemini’s sibling complex, and the two become more invested in their rivalry than Ron himself. It’s also quite hilarious seeing a sinister supervillain and the a badass authority figure squabbling like children.

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Of course, the kidnapping also completely dismantles all theories about the “Ron Factor”, because Stoppable proves to be quite useless without his best friend. This both teaches Ron to better appreciate Kim and shows that Global Justice were overlooking why Kim is so great.

Overthinking why something works can distract you from the simple truth, because sometimes the reason for success isn’t THAT complicated, but unfortunately Global Justice don’t learn from this, and shift their focus to Rufus the naked mole rat haha.

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To Conclude, this is an okay episode of Kim Possible. Nothing spectacular or remarkable, but a decent attempt to expand on Ron’s part in Kim’s missions. It’s nice to see him accepting himself as a splash of season on a well cooked meal. The whole fraternal twin aspect helps give the episode thematic identity, but is mainly used for comedy, and there was a missed opportunity to juxtapose it against Ron’s dual personalities.

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