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“Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus” MOVIE REVIEW

By the end of 2002, the beloved black comedy scif-fi cartoon series “Invader Zim” was abruptly cancelled by Nickelodeon, disappointing fans everywhere, but we all rejoiced when a feature film was announced in April 2017, and it’s now available on NETFLIX.

In this movie, Zim finds out that the tallest aren’t coming to visit Earth, so he uses Professor Membrane’s new invention to steer the Irken mothership’s course, much to the tallest’s frustration – who hilariously refuse to go any direction except straight. Unfortunately, Zim has created a fracture in time and space, a black hole called a “Florpus”, so Dib and Gaz need to rescue the Professor from space prison, and save Earth from the Florpus.

If you’re worried if anything has changed since 2002, then abandon all your fears, because this is the same Invader Zim we all know and love. It’s like creator Jhonen Vasquez is carrying things on as normal, as if season 2 never ended, so fans will be pleased that nothing has been dramatically altered or ruined.

I was concerned that this was just going to be a long episode of the series, the same usual formula we’ve come to expect, with Zim once again failing in his conquest, while Dib breathes a sigh of relief. At first, it does seem that way, but once the Florpus appears, we know that things have been pushed out of the status quo template, because we now have a far more apocalyptic narrative at hand.

While the show was set in a dark dystopia, things were often kept quite small, with Zim’s schemes only affecting the school, town, or Dib’s life, but this film justifies it’s feature length by expanding the threat’s size. There’s a constant feeling of impending doom, especially when we have no idea what the Florpus is, with no one ever explaining where it’s portal will lead to, it’s a great way to make everything feel big and tense.

There’s also a running subplot about Dib’s relationship with his father, exploring a more sentimental side of their family bond, adding some drama to all the chaos of the world ending. It is funny how Membrane doesn’t believe his son about Zim being an alien, because he is so faithful to science, but there’s only so much that joke can do, so it’s nice to finally see their relationship develop. Heck, Membrane even gets to play the badass hero, a role that he’s never been cast as, as far as I remember, it’s awesome seeing him looking THIS cool.

Oh and the inclusion of a “Fake Dad” is brilliant, this botched Zim experiment is a delight, a big loud mouthed monster dressed like the professor, determined to nail his character, even though he doesn’t represent membrane at all. He may have been built for evil, but there’s something very endearing about him! His purpose is to keep Dib and Gaz trapped, yet he has this big childish heart, really believing that this is his family.

Expect the same Invader Zim sense of humour as before, a strange hybrid of surrealism, black comedy, and random silliness! Pretty much every joke landed for me, to the point where my stomach would hurt sometimes, it’s a style of comedy that I personally love, weirdly sinister yet stupidly ridiculous too. If you are nervous whether Invader Zim can still make you laugh, let me reassure you that the writers have no lost their magic, because this is one of the funniest films that I’ve watched this year.

For the most part, the animation is pretty much the same as the TV show, which does give the film a TV Movie look, even with an apocalypse narrative to work with. However, the cartoony style serves well for the comedy, with the stupidity of everything being enhanced by over the top expressions; even though the animation can have some iffy movement for some shots. That’s not to say that the animation is devoid of anything special, because there are some pretty creative visuals, especially when the camera is allowed to glide or depict something cinematic.

The animation is at it’s peak, when the Florpus starts coming closer to earth, as the art styles begin frequently changing, giving us a wide array of mediums, each depicting a wild series of glitchy imagery. Heck, you’ll totally get “Into the Spider-Verse” vibes with this film, as the animation does get that imaginative in the finale, bending reality like Spider-verse did. The laser explosion effects are pure eye candy too, intricately vibrant zaps and booms that are splendidly impressive, often making the film look almost anime-esque.

To Conclude, this Invader Zim movie is the continuation that fans wanted, with everything we love about the show still in tact, but it knows that it needed to return with a bang, so we’re also given a story that feels like a spectacular event. It maybe more valuable to longtime fans of the TV show, with it’s many references or in jokes, plus it’s also not exactly a franchise that’ll be easy to get a new generation into easily (I mean, it’s pretty damn weird haha), but it all makes for a fantastic Invader Zim special that fans have dreamed of for almost 17 years.

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“The Tigger Movie” (2000) MOVIE REVIEW

WARNING: The Following review contains possible spoilers

Tigger is upset that his friends can’t bounce with him, because they’re not equipped or skilled enough to keep up with him, so Tigger wonders who he could bounce with? When he learns that he could have a family, he becomes determined to find them, but his friends are worried that this will lead to disappointment, so they write him a letter to keep his spirits. This letter though, makes Tigger assume that his family is coming to visit him, sending his friends into a panic, so they decide to dress up as Tiggers, in hopes that he won’t be sad.

As to be expected from a movie about Tigger, this is a very bouncy and hyperactive film, with a frantic pacing that can often get distracted. While it’s not surprising, it still makes it difficult for me to say “Oh yeah, the story is really well told and has a nice flow”, because the choice to make Tigger into the star, has inherently resulted in a film that reflects his unpredictable off the wall personality, which isn’t going to make for a solid narrative.

So yeah, I get that a film about Tigger was bound to be unfocused, but that doesn’t mean that this an entirely a good thing, as the story’s cohesion is sacrificed for the purpose of staying true to Tigger’s personality, and this does explain why Tigger best suits being a supporting character in an ensemble cast. To be fair though, Pooh also brings the film to a hault in one scene, turning the search for Tigger’s family into a chance to steal honey, by singing a lullaby to some bees, which adds nothing to the main story.

The film also opens by addressing Tigger’s flaw of getting carried away, criticising that he doesn’t watch where he’s bouncing, but this fault is brushed aside, because the movie wants to focus more on Tigger’s search for his family. For most of the film, it felt like Tigger’s poor actions weren’t that big of deal, even though the movie wanted to draw attention to them at the start, which made me feel distracted, often asking “Are we going to go back to helping Tigger be a more careful bouncer?”.

It’s not until the very very end, that Tigger tries to make up for this, and while it’s sweet how he does this, it all seems… last minute? When he could have learned how to be more sensible while bouncing throughout the film, maybe even while also on an adventure to find his family, like discovering that safe bouncing is more practical.

However, the strength of the film, is it’s theme of non-biological family, this is where the film shines the most. While Tigger is adamant to find his “real” family, he doesn’t seem to notice that he already has a loving family, they just don’t happen to be Tiggers, with Roo in particular showing a particular brotherly affection to Tigger.

This leads to a surprisingly deep conclusion, with Tigger never finding his fellow Tiggers, and the realisation that his adoptive family is his true family, that’s a rather risky ending for a Winnie the Pooh movie! Teaching possibly orphaned kids, that they might not reunite with their biological family, but that’s okay, because the family you make yourself or get adopted by is just as valid and special.

Something great about this film too, is that it was the first time in 28 years that the Sherman brothers had worked with Disney, with the talented duo providing a string of new original songs. These musical numbers do seem to appear out of nowhere, sometimes don’t really do much for the story, but they’re all very fun and lively, oozing with the wacky charisma we expect from the Shermans, perfectly fitting a film about the silly Tigger.

To be honest, I don’t remember many of them that well, except maybe Pooh’s lullaby to the bees, but I can imagine some people, particularly the target audience of little kids, to remember all the lyrics by heart. Like I said, they are entertaining songs, I just don’t think they’re catchy or memorable enough to stick with me personally.

To Conclude, “The Tigger Movie” is a very hyperactive and unfocused film, letting Tigger’s boundless energy drive the story, which is fine if you just want to see Tigger being Tigger, but this is a film that’s still trying to tell an adventure tale, and Tigger isn’t exactly a character designed for moving a story forward.

That being said, it’s message about finding your family is quite mature, plus Roo and Tigger’s brotherly bond is super cute to watch, and the Shermans’ songs are great additions. Overall, it’s an okay Disney Pooh film, certainly one of the more flawed ones, and one that lacks the franchise’s quiet atmosphere that I usually enjoy, but it’s a good effort for what it is.

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“The Angry Birds Movie” (2016) MOVIE REVIEW


Red is a grumpy bird who often lets his temper get the best of him, this anger leads to a court ruling that requires him to attend anger management classes, where he meets a bunch of other ill tempered birds, and he has to commit to calming exercises. While the other patients are eager to socialise, Red would prefer to keep to himself, pushing away new potential friendships.

One day, a community of pigs dock off at the birds’ island, introducing themselves as harmless new friends, but really, they want to steal all the birds’ eggs. Red is the only one who sees through their sham, even though everyone else is convinced that these swine mean well, so the feathered grouch has to convince his fellow birds that these piggies mean trouble.

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I’ve only played an Angry Birds game once, it was 3 or 4 years ago, I can’t even recall which game it was? So, I’m no expert or loyal fan, but one doesn’t need to be when it comes to critiquing movie adaptations, a film is a film, regardless of what inspired it. The Angry Birds Movie is certainly high spirited, with it’s bouncily paced comedy and colourful character designs, but as a movie? It’s pretty…. meh.

It’s story is as predictable as they come! We know that the pigs are really up to no good, we know that they’ll reveal their true intentions eventually, and it’s more than obvious that the birds will seek revenge once the cat is out of the bag. Until then, we’re playing the waiting game, counting the minutes until the rouse is exposed, with nothing much happening besides the pigs distracting the birds with dance parties, and it’s all pretty much filler to say the least.

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To also pass time, Red and his friends venture to find the legendary “Mighty Eagle”, which leads to the cliche plot of discovering that a hero is a let down, who wastes his days doing nothing, and it’s up to Red to motivate the eagle back into action. How many times have we seen this plot? Maybe in nearly every average animated kids’ movie? And this is what’s going to keep us entertained until the finale? Thanks, I don’t like it.

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The humour is hit or miss, a few lines and gags hit the mark, but this wasn’t a consistent laugh riot for me. The film is clearly struggling to keep the comedy alive, so it reaches for easy gags in desperation, the kind of jokes that are obviously going to make small kids giggle no matter what, from pigs slapping their butts at the camera to an awkwardly long urination scene. This potty humour is just tasteless and gross, a lazy attempt to be funny without taking risks or being inventive.

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The Angry Birds Movie is at it’s most imaginative, when the birds finally attack the pigs, in a climax that resembles the play of the original video games, the very thing that fans came to see the movie for. This is when we get to see each bird displaying a unique power, crashing into towers in a satisfyingly destructive fashion, all while the villain runs around in a panic. Unfortunately, this sequence overstays it’s welcome, overdoing the novelty of watching birds smashing into buildings, and even young kids might get tired of the repetition.


Red himself, is the only character I enjoyed watching, a cynical bird who makes the most sense out of everyone, keeping others at a distance while yearning for company, he makes for a relatable lead. He might be a grouch, but hints of a nice side are sprinkled into little moments, he does eventually let his guard down once pushed into the role of leader; proving that he is capable of empathy if others trust him.

The lesson he learns is surprisingly unconventional too, teaching that anger can be justified when the situation calls for it, but controlling your temper is just as important, that’s a pretty risky philosophy for a kids’ film! The idea that what you do with your anger is your real test of character, what can it be translated to? How much of it should you let out? Anger is a complex emotion, it’s refreshing to see a children’s film address it without saying “bottle it up inside”.

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The side characters though? They’re pretty one dimensional and annoying, including Bomb the whiny bird with the one trait of exploding, plus Chuck the super fast bird that is only defined by his speed and hyperactive personality (imagine Hammy from “Over the Hedge”, just unfunny and less sympathetic). Terrance (grunted by an underused Sean Penn, which is admittedly funny), is kind of endearing in his own gentle giant sort of way, but I can’t say that he’s a well defined character beyond his grunts. While our villain Leonard is far from threatening or clever, being far from subtle about his intentions, he’s just lucky that these birds have been written conveniently dumb enough to fall for his plans.


To Conclude, “The Angry Birds Movie” does have a pretty solid lead character, vibrant cartoony visuals that are decent to look at, plus a rather complex view on the emotion of anger that’s quite refreshing, but overall? It’s cliche, predictable, uninspired, and not as frequently funny as it could have been. I wasn’t exactly let down, as I was never an Angry Birds fan, so I can’t say that I’m annoyed at my experience, but I can’t say that this is a film I’d be eager to watch again.

2 and a half Strawberries

“Black Mirror” – Fifteen Million Merits (EPISODE REVIEW)

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This “Black Mirror” story is set in a dystopian future, in which humans are paid in merits to power the world’s electricity through pedaling, but the mundane living stop there, because they all also come home to rooms where the walls are monitors, and everyone is forced to watch adverts or pay fines if they stop viewing. We centre on Bing, one of the rare people actually sick to death of this place, with a longing to feel some sense of reality, but that’s hard to expect in such a world like this.

Luckily, Bing meets a woman named Abi, who has a talented singing voice, but she can’t afford a chance on the talent contest show “Hot Shot”, so he uses money left to him by his dead brother to buy her an audition entry. Unfortunately, the judges turn her down, and one of them hires her as a pornstar for his streaming channel instead. Angered by the judge’s treatment of Abi, as well as the technology driven world they have created, Bing becomes determined to get revenge, by saving up merits to get on Hot Shot himself.

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Now, this is actually the first “Black Mirror” episode I’ve ever seen, which is actually shocking when I always knew that it was my cup of tea, because I’m a huge fan of it’s creator Charlie Brooker, plus my own stories are often centered on technophobia. One thing I will say, is that “Black Mirror” really is like an extended higher budget sketch from “Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe”, because his ranting and raving about bad television is all over this episode.

This episode’s message is rather on the nose, it’s not exactly subtle about the point it wants to get across or the specific kind of people it wants to attack, especially when it has a character standing on stage spelling out the intended societal criticism by the end. That our everyday lives are built on performing daily monotonous tasks to afford survival, with shallow entertainment or pointless consumerism being our only reward for living on, and the only alternative is selling ourselves out as commercial celebrities.

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It’s cynical, but I get the frustration that Brooker and co-writer Konnie Huq (Brooker’s wife, who used to be a presenter on BBC’s Blue Peter) are venting, there’s an element of truth to his point of view. My issue is that the message is driven into the audience using the nuance of a foghorn, with not much left for viewers to work out themselves, as there’s a huge lack of cryptic depth to the episode’s substance, plus the more despicable characters are more over the top than discreetly underhanded, thus making it hard for me to call the episode clever. Sure, the extremity of this execution is a good way to better highlight societal toxicity, because it makes the often ignored problematic undertones of television media or human interaction more obvious, but it comes at the cost of assuming that the audience can’t read between the lines themselves.

The characters aren’t exactly well developed, very flat caricatures who better represent theories, personas, or principles than real individuals; so I can’t say that they were interestingly written. With an hour to work with, there could have been more to them here, little extra details that made them more than just tools for the political satire. That’s not to say that I didn’t care for our protagonists, it was pretty easy to like them, mainly because everyone else in this society is either totally terrible or has become a mindless sheep.

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However, the strength of the episode isn’t how it conveys it’s message or the characters we follow, but rather the the atmosphere it creates, this claustrophobic bleak corporate building where you can’t escape adverts or avoid technology. There’s something nauseating about being in this tightly small futuristic setting, not just because it’s painfully mundane, but it’s also a terrifying reflection of the cycle many of us are in right now, an analogy for those living life to the most basic standard just to get by.

While the episode is rather cruel to it’s characters, there are moments of brief hope and love, all thanks to the blossoming romance between Bing and Abi, as the idea that Bing would give up all his merits to see Abi be happy is beautiful. The fact that Bing also sacrifices his budget for food and resources, JUST to reach 15 million merits sooner, shows how passionate he is about making his voice heard, but it’s also a dark reflection of how much society asks us to give up to risk chances.

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Of course, in true Charlie Brooker style, the episode ends on a bummer, because while Bing does get to protest on live television, speaking out against everything he feels is wrong, the judges ultimately see him as another cash cow, and package him as a livestream entertainer for the masses. While this is a bitter ending, that highlights how even a societal protest can be rebranded for consumer use, limiting Bing to the only way he can keep his voice heard, it’s more of a wake up call than a sign to give up, asking audiences to realise how much we’re diluting authenticity in an already fabricated culture.

To Conclude, I did quite enjoy this “Black Mirror” episode, because of it’s creepily dull setting, sweet central romance, and important message about finding reality in a life without meaning. I do wish that the message was less loud and some of the characters were less cookie cutter, but there is a strong personality to the episode through it’s extreme portrayal of a media dominated society.

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“Recess” – Lost Leader (EPISODE REVIEW)

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When a plan to retrieve a lucky baseball bat fails for the Recess gang, TJ blames himself for it going wrong, vowing to never be a leader again, but Gretchen, Vince, Gus, Mikey, and Spinelli can’t come up with a good plan without him.

TJ’s distinct role has always been the leader, so seeing the poor guy beat himself up about it is sad, we know he really is the best leader for this rag tag team, but sometimes the smallest hiccup can make someone feel insecure. TJ has always been the selfless hero too, so of course he’d immediately blame himself, especially when his failed plan resulted in a casualty, it makes sense that he’d be this angry at himself.

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It is fun seeing what kind of plans that the gang come up with themselves, each one failing to see the drawbacks if their wild ideas, but it’s the flawed logic in their suggestions that highlight TJ’s importance. When it boils down to it, the gang need TJ for his clever imagination, as their strengths aren’t suited for leadership, they all have their own talents or skills. TJ knows how to find the right balance of possibility and creativity, plans that make sense yet retain a child’s imagination.

You maybe wondering why this lucky bat is so important? Well, you see, the gang’s rival Lawson bets that they can’t retrieve the bat, so much so that he’s willing to challenge them to a game the next day. This makes the mission more than just a simple rescue, it’s a race to outwit the cocky Lawson, thus adding tension to the need to find a plan.

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However, the gang do come to the humble conclusion that none of them are born leaders, graciously accepting the truth, and they instead focus on helping TJ. The gang put on an intentionally ridiculous heist for getting the bat, each kid doing something hilariously stupid as part of their fake heist, while they all pretend to act like TJ is useless after all, and this makes Teen finally realise how hard he’s been on himself.

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While this is technically reverse psychology, it’s all done out of love, plus the gang do end up confessing their true intentions by the end. Sometimes, we do need our friends to make us see how silly we’re being when self blaming, and that our guilt is really actually uncalled for when someone else puts it into perspective.

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The episode concludes, by saying that just because we make a mistake when doing something we are usually skilled at, doesn’t mean that we are completely bad at it, it’s only human. This is a terrific lesson for perfectionists to relate to, teaching that high standard results can’t ALWAYS be consistent, as even the best of the best can miss the mark, and expecting 10/10 every time is unhealthy.

Interestingly, this was the last ever episode of “Recess”! Three straight video films kept the franchise alive shortly after (two of which were technically just feature length clip shows), but this was the last episode of the actual TV show, and I think it’s nice that the series concluded with an episode that reminded fans why TJ was so important.

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“Hey Arnold” – Helga on the Couch (EPISODE REVIEW)

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In this episode of “Hey Arnold”, Helga is caught punching Brainy in the face, so she ends up being psychologically analysed by professional therapist Dr. Bliss, but Helga is terrified that this will mean that she’ll end up confessing her deep secret about loving Arnold.

Many “Hey Arnold” fans consider this to be the best ever episode of the whole series, but why is that? Well, Helga has always been a fascinating character, because she’s incredibly intelligent, yet mean towards those around her, so understanding her psyche makes for a captivating episode.

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One of the major strengths of “Hey Arnold” is it’s courage to show the diversity of children, that they’re not all typical nuclear family households, because some kids watching this show are sadly not as well off as most of their cartoon heroes, and that’s what I respect about this series.

Dr. Bliss is a fantastic therapist, professionally keeping herself calm while this angry little girl rants aggressively, knowing exactly what she can do to help, but she also respects that Helga is very smart for her age, so she knows that the usual psychological analysis tactics won’t work.

It’s amazing how Craig Bartlett decided to do a 20 minute special episode of “Hey Arnold”, that’s mainly set in a therapy office, he actually feels brave enough that kids will have the patience and understanding to enjoy something so minimalist. Although, it helps that Helga is a great character, with her smart wit and sassy charisma, so it’s no surprise that Craig had faith in the setup.


The episode isn’t ALL set in a therapy office though, we do get flashbacks to keep things visually engaging, these sequences help us to see how hard Helga’s life really is, exposing what shaped Helga into the girl she is. Her father is a bad tempered loud mouth who sees Helga as a liability, her mom is an air-headed woman who is possibly an alcoholic, and her older sister Olga gets all the attention that Helga craves.

Like I said, Helga’s main concern is to not expose her crush on Arnold, but that’s a hard aim to have, when Arnold is such a big part of who she is. Brilliantly, we get to finally see what made Helga fall in love with the football head, that he was the only one who showed her compassion on her first preschool day, while her own family saw her as a nuisance.

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When someone is living in an toxic environment, the slightest kind gesture can mean the world to them, so I’m not shocked that Arnold’s simple gift of sharing his umbrella can mean so much, especially he throws in a compliment about her bow too. It’s a really cute flashback, giving us an eye into where everything started, filling in gaps that the show never explored before.

Of course, Helga doesn’t have a full grip on what it means to be loved or love someone, because her family neglects her, so she doesn’t know how to healthily address her feelings towards Arnold, which is why she turned this love into aggressive hate instead. It’s this attitude that stuck with her, because sadly, she continued to be an unloved child, and that’s what lead her to being in a therapy session.

Now, this does mean that Helga has to finally confess her feelings for Arnold, but what is she so afraid of? Well, it seems that she was under the assumption that Dr. Bliss would share her secret with others, but really, she HAS to keep sessions confidential, meaning that Helga either doesn’t understand therapy policy (she may be smart, but she’s still a child) OR her trust issues made her assume the worst.

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Watching Helga scream her lungs out about how much she adores Arnold, is so damn perfect, we’re really happy for her, because we know she’s had to keep these feelings bottled up, but who could she ever tell? A therapist was always the best bet at this point, which is the best route for someone like Helga, who needs mental health assistance after all her years of abuse.

Dr. Bliss assures Helga that her feelings are normal, that she’s free to express them, as long as she’s not hurting anyone, it’s so beautiful seeing Helga having her deep complex emotions validated, every kid deserves that. I couldn’t help but smile, seeing Helga leave her therapy session with a newfound sense of self acceptance, even hugging Dr. Bliss with loving gratitude (a BIG deal for Helga, who very rarely shows affection).

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To Conclude, Helga on the Couch isn’t just one of the best “Hey Arnold” episodes, it’s one of the best cartoon episodes ever, a story that gives a voice to neglected kids while normalizing child therapy. I actually grew up taking therapy, for most of my young life even (Ages 7 – 16), but I didn’t grow up with this episode, and I really wish that I did though.

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“Arthur” – Arthur Meets Mr. Rogers (EPISODE REVIEW)

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In this special episode of “Arthur”, children’s entertainer Fred Rogers comes to Elwood city, with the intention to speak at Arthur’s school, and he’ll be staying with the Reeds (Fred is an old friend of Arthur’s mom). Arthur is actually quite embarrassed about Mr. Rogers boarding at his home, because his schoolmates are giggling over a “baby show” host coming to visit, so Arthur desperately tries to hide this fact from his pals.

It does make sense that Arthur and Fred Rogers eventually had a crossover, as they were both children’s edutainment programs that aired on PBS, a station that Fred fought hard to keep funding going for, and it’s a match made in heaven. Arthur was a show that set out to teach kids about better understanding the world around them, as well as common etiquette in social situations, things that fit Mr. Roger’s philosophies superbly.

Now, I did not grow up with “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, I’m not even sure if it was ever even aired in the UK? But after seeing the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t you be my neighbor?”, I felt instantly jealous of anyone who DID have a childhood with him, because he stands for everything I believe in! He trusted children’s intelligence, respected children’s feelings, showed a concern for the film/TV content being produced for kids, and was just an all round lovely man.

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This episode’s portrayal of Fred Rogers is so perfect, it captures Fred’s personality spot on, from his calm charisma that soothes the soul to the compassionate understanding he expresses towards children of any age. I’m not sure how much Fred had to do with the script, but I can totally imagine him making sure that the lessons were healthy and constructive, because he was always that passionate about his craft, and can imagine the guilt he’d feel if he ended up on a show that promoted wrong ideals or messed up an important value.

This Arthur episode teaches that you shouldn’t let fear of embarrassment consume you, with Arthur going to so many lengths to hide Mr. Rogers, that he doesn’t realise that he’s worrying his pals. Throughout the whole episode, Mr. Rogers catches on to Arthur’s feelings, we can always tell that he recognises what maybe going on, so when Arthur admits his concerns to Fred, Mr. Rogers kindly lets him know that he understands.

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Mr. Rogers doesn’t look down on or judge Arthur for feeling ashamed of being associated with him, but completely sees where Arthur is coming from, because the boy is at an age where he wants to feel grown up, and this a validation that older kids need sometimes. Even as a person gets older, Mr. Rogers STILL respects their feelings! He might specialise with very small children, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t teach something wise to an older child, and that’s because Mr. Rogers wanted to show love to EVERYONE.

With Arthur’s friends being worried about their pal’s odd behavior since Mr. Rogers moved in, Fred makes Arthur realise that maybe these aren’t the friends to poke fun at him, if they will keep an eye on him when his behavior seems off. When you assume that your friends will maliciously mock you for something, especially something out out of your control, then you need to question your relationship with your friends, because real friends don’t do that.

But at the same time, the show is about not letting yourself feel guilty of letting something from pre-school still mean something to you, that the best shows for young kids are so special that they stay with you forever, and it’s totally okay to admit that you still like them. The best television entertainers can shape our values, humour, and imagination!

Even as we get older, revisiting their advice or lessons can still ring true, because what they have to say was designed to spread love, kindness, or creativity. These entertainers may present themselves in a way that’s most suitable for young kids, but as we get older, the world still scares or confuses us sometimes, because adults are human, and people like Mr. Rogers suddenly become a useful inspiration to us again.

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British children’s entertainer Mark Speight, who sadly committed suicide once I grew up, was someone I LOVED as a kid (The first career that I ever considered was a CBBC presenter), with his wacky sense of humour and fun approach to creativity. I watched a tribute to him recently, I never realised how much he influenced my personality, with his stretchy faced expressions and silly approach to hosting. When we sneer at these kinds of people, we’re not just insulting their hard working profession, but we’re also arrogantly ignoring the impact that they first had on us, because they can subconsciously make you into you.

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The Late children’s TV Host Mark Speight

By the episode’s end, all the kids shyly admit that they are actually excited to meet Mr. Rogers, suddenly showing happy joy at the very sight of their pre-school hero, and they drop their “I’m too big for this anymore” act. This teaches kids that you DON’T have to abandon or hate certain things to be grown up, you can keep your love for them in your heart, and you’re not immature for saying that they are special to you even years later.

The show also says that it’s perfectly fine to openly dislike something that you used to love, but DON’T sneer at kids who do enjoy it, because it’s the world to them at their age, and you have no right to steal that joy from them, or make them feel less of themselves for liking it. Even as a critic, this is a value that I hold true, because I know that some children’s media I criticise could mean the world to some child, and I’d NEVER think less of them for having fun watching it.

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The episode is also followed by something so precious, Fred Rogers himself telling kids in the audience how he was animated into the show, there’s nothing more wholesome than watching Mr. Rogers gently teaching this art form to young viewers, and hearing him say “Anyone can animate” is the cherry on top of this magical ice cream. Fred was terrific in the episode, bringing a natural delivery to his lines that couldn’t be replicated by even the best impressionist, the episode NEEDED the real Fred Rogers to work I think.

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“Batman: The Animated Series” – Heart of Ice (EPISODE REVIEW)

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A strange man in a suit, wielding a freezing gun, who goes by the name of Mr. Freeze, has been attacking the offices of GothCorp, so Batman has been trying to investigate who this rogue could be. He meets with GothCorp CEO Ferris Boyle, who likes to put on the act of a humanitarian for PR, but is much less compassionate behind closed doors.


After digging through some files, Batman discovers that Mr. Freeze was really a scientist called Dr. Victor Fries, who tried to use GothCorp equipment to cure his terminally ill wife Nora, but Ferris shut down the project, resulting in a fight that led to a coolant accident that caused Victor to not be able to survive above sub-zero temperatures – hence the suit.

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This Emmy winning episode of “Batman: The Animated Series”, introduces a more sympathetic villain to the series, a baddie who has developed an apathy to humankind after Ferris lacked remorse in his wife. Mr. Freeze is a red eyed pale faced menacing threat, unwilling to reflect emotion after everything he’s been through, even to his henchmen, expressing all his dialogue with a deadpan cold tone.

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But we do feel sorry for Victor, because we can see why he’d lose remorse for everyone except his wife, his only hope betrayed him, and now he sees that Ferris cared more about money than saving lives. We don’t agree with Victor’s methods or forgive his crimes, but we get why he’s the way he is, because he now only has faith in himself after GothCorp let him down.

This is why I love Batman in this episode, adore him even, he does show genuine sympathy towards Victor, angered by Ferris’ attitude towards his personal mission to save his wife, even though the GothCorp CEO is out doing charity work to look good in the media. That’s not to say that he completely sides with Victor, he still puts all lives before Victor’s determination to save his wife; including the cruel arrogant Ferris.

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I also like how Batman has a cold in this episode, it reminds audiences that he is still human, he’s just as vulnerable to low temperature conditions as everyone else, but he doesn’t let his fever hinder his responsibility as the caped crusader. It’s adorable that Alfred shows concern for his master’s cold, he is Bruce’s only family after all, even lovingly giving Bats a flask of chicken soup to help cure him; a beverage that will later come in handy!

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Batman must find a middle ground as a hero, by defeating Mr. Freeze for the safety of people’s lives, while also exposing Ferris’ crimes too, killing two birds with one stone if you will. This decision helps to show that Batman cares about Victor’s pain, but that he should be punished for using this heartache for criminal activity, because a sob story doesn’t justify putting others in danger.

By the episode’s end, Victor is placed in Arkham Asylum, where he is shown begging his wife for forgiveness, weeping at a music box that resembles her, a powerful moment that brings a humanity to one of Batman’s foes. It’s moments like this, that show why Batman’s gallery of rogues are so memorable, they’re either wildly fun to watch or have a sympathetic tragic backstory that expands their characters.

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To conclude, “Heart of Ice” really deserved it’s Emmy, an episode that shows that villains don’t always have to be one track minded enemies for Batman, they can be just as human as he is, and it’s this extra dimension that makes Victor into an actual fully fleshed out character.

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“Watch My Chops” – Things That Go Woof In The Night (EPISODE REVIEW)

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“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 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 to pull of a fake haunting, knowing how his friends wouldn’t suspect Corneil to be the real culprit behind the pranks, 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.

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What really carries the episode though, is the character of Martha, who stubbornly refuses to believe in anything she witnesses, while other characters are falling for everything. Audiences are rooting for Bernie and Corneil to successfully trick Bernie’s pals, that’s our main goal for this episode, so Martha makes for an effective antagonist for this project, because she’ll possibly tarnish everything.

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 funnier, is that Corneil is a stern non-believer of ghosts, so seeing such a scientific minded character being this bothered is highly comical, because Martha’s stubbornness annoys him more than his own principles.

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Romeo, a character who is usually very cocky, is a wreck in this episode, I really liked seeing this scared side of him, shifting 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, and it’s fun seeing him being so committed. He’s much more into this than Corneil, so much so, that I think he’s embracing the project’s entertainment value more than it’s actual important purpose, which plays into Bernie’s childish personality.

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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, which is 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.

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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”, turning a simple cover up of Corneil’s secret into a chance for Bernie to get wildly creative. I’ve binge watching this series a lot lately, I have to say it holds up really well! (I used to watch it everyday as a kid on CBBC), due to the unique weird art style, zany animation, and clever approaches to a simple idea for an animated show that never run dry.

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“The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” – Krunch Time (EPISODE REVIEW)

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In this episode of “Jimmy Neutron”, Jimmy invents the greatest candy ever, but this homemade confectionery is so delectable, that that the people of Retroville become addicted to it, and Jimmy decides to take advantage of their dependence.

Whenever I look back on this show, it’s this particular episode that sticks out the most, but why is that? Well, my theory is that it simply appealed to childhood love of sweets, because which kid doesn’t love candy? Okay, maybe a few, but it’s still a common passion when you’re 12 or under.

The candy itself doesn’t exactly look yummy in principle, it appears a little off-putting even, I don’t think I can even imagine what it could taste like based on it’s design, but it’s people’s reactions to eating it that says so much, their highly satisfied taste buds make this weird yellow spotted ball seem so appetizing! To the point where I’d actually love to try one myself haha.

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Even though this episode has a goofy tone, there is a dark side to it that I never noticed before, because this candy brings out the worst in EVERYONE. Not only does it turn loved ones against each other, to the extent where they fight one another for one measly bite, but their addiction also inspires Jimmy to exploit them; bringing out a rather sleazy side of Jimmy that we don’t often see.

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Although, Jimmy is still Jimmy, he knows when he’s ended up going too far with an invention, he still has his morals despite giving in to easy temptations sometimes, and he does end up wanting to do the right thing by the end.

What changes his mind? Well, in a sinister change, the entire town become a sugar hungry mob, with even his own loving parents out for his blood; who happen to be nicest characters in the show. Not just that, Jimmy’s confections have also put Sam the candy bartender out business, sparking him to want to rile up the mob.

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Most “Jimmy Neutron” episodes are about an invention going terribly wrong, but this one ends up being a parable on something deeper than usual, whether it was intentional or not. I can’t confirm if an underlying metaphor for the candy was on purpose, but it is interesting how easy it is to come up with interpretations, especially for adults going on nostalgia trips to revisit this show.

You could see Jimmy’s candy as an analogy for drugs, how their addictive elements can bring out the worst in their users and what lengths they’ll go to show their loyalty to their dealers. On the other hand, the episode is sort of a commentary on the candy industry in general, because most candy is produced with addictive chemicals that’ll send kids loopy, a common criticism towards sugar companies.

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Heck, not many drug related kids’ cartoons are about actually MAKING drugs, they’re usually warnings about not saying yes to them, so it’s quite refreshing to see one showing the dangers of drug production. Also, because the drug metaphor isn’t blatant as all hell, like actual cartoons designed to steer kids away from drugs, it makes for a much less preachy story, one that maybe kids could work out for themselves.

To Conclude, this is a great Jimmy Neutron episode! It’s exciting seeing what this candy does to these usually harmless friendly characters, there’s some hilarious black comedy from Jimmy’s parents turning on their own son, and the episode acts as a good lesson on the dangers of producing addictive products for the public.

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