Gravity Falls review, Season 1, Episode 2: The Legend of the Gobblewonker

Airdate: June 29th, 2012.

“We REALLY should’ve brought boat insurance!”

Synopsis (Spoilers): It’s the first day of fishing, and Dipper and Mabel are dragged by Grunkle Stan to fish out at Gravity Falls lake. However, Grunkle Stan is quite embarrassing, bring in the joke books and cheap hats. However, Old Man McGrucket, a local loony, reveals that he found a gobblewonker (think Loch Ness Monster, but not Scottish). Along with Soos, Dipper and Mabel abandon Stan to go on a search for the Gobblewonker, take a picture of it, and win a prize in the mail.

They find managed to track down the gobblewonker. However, they find out the truth behind the monster: it was really a machine made by a certain resident of the town. With no pictures taken (because the cameras that they brought met sad fates), Dipper and Mabel decide to go back and fish with Stan.

Review: Well, like other shows, the second episode showcases the true potential of Gravity Falls.

This is the first episode to really develop on how the characters interact with each other. The first episode did that, also, but that one set up the basic plotline for the show. This episode allows us more of a taste on what the show will be like. Every cliche of shows revolving around the supernatural is mocked, such as the Camera scene. Of course, the reveal of who was behind the Gobblewonker is another taste of the twists and turns that this show will bring in future episodes.

Mabel and Soos get some brilliant lines in this episode, such as Mabel’s rap. (“My name is Mabel! It rhymes with Table!”) In fact, the humor in this episode is mostly excellent. And the episode ends on a note that makes you wonder: can we expect more from the producer of the Gobblewonker?

However, a scene that involves discussing who the captain of the excursion is going to be goes on for quite a bit too long. Also, Stan’s subplot seemed a bit weak (although it still gets some funny lines, also).

Favorite Scene: Tie between the counterfeiting scene and Mabel’s rap.

Score: 8

*Edited on 14 September, 2013, so that this review looks better.*

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Red Dwarf Review: Series I Wrap Up

Having finished my review of Red Dwarf I, I may as well give a glance at the first series as a whole.

For starters, the show feels like it is missing something, especially if you watch an episode from Series III on. The pacing just feels off. The show is still funny, but it feels less full. The sets feel depressing, with ocean grey/military grey being the color of choice.

And the first three episodes were pretty weak. “Balance of Power” is the worst episode of the Grant/Naylor Era by far, because of the weak amount of humor. However, it does give some development to the arc as a whole. “Future Echoes” itself is pretty weak on the humor, but it does add in the Sci-Fi elements. “The End”, however, was pretty funny, and a good intro to the franchise.

The show really takes off with “Waiting for God”, one of the most underrated episodes ever. The character development is sublime, the take on religion is hilarious, and it feels like a Red Dwarf episode. “Confidence and Paranoia” gives us a great performance by Craig Ferguson of “Late Late Show” fame, even if the plot is a bit thin. And “Me2”, being the episode which showed Red Dwarf clearing orbit, gives us a deep look in the disturbed psyche of Arnold J Rimmer.

The interaction between Lister and Rimmer does get a tad bit old, but it is still very funny to see these complete opposites be trapped for the rest of eternity. The cat, being the most selfish character in existence, is always hilarious. You have to love Holly’s deadpan humor!

Ultimately, despite being weak in some spots, Red Dwarf I is a good indicator that this show was going somewhere.

Average series score: 7

Red Dwarf Review: Series 1, Episode 6: "Me2"

Airdate: 21 March 1988

Two Rimmers. This can only end hilariously badly.

Synopsis: That familiar face in the last episode? Merely a second Rimmer. Rimmer 1 and Rimmer 2 move out into their own room. However, Lister finds that Rimmer left a tape of his own death. Apparently, his last words were “Gazpacho Soup”. Lister goes on an investigation to wonder why. While the Rimmers seem to get on at first, tensions rise between them, and the two are in a constant state of argument. Eventually, Lister demands one of the two erased, and the original Rimmer loses out. Rimmer goes in with his military uniform, and explains to Lister the trauma behind Gazpacho Soup, saying that it led to humiliation after he thought that Gazpacho soup was served hot. Meanwhile, Rimmer 2 is erased.

Review: THIS is the moment when Red Dwarf got really good. The previous two episodes were good, but this really brings into life Rimmer’s pathetic life. It makes him sympathetic, despite being a smeghead. Rimmer’s internal conflict with himself consumes him, makes him more likable. However, the story takes great pains to still say that, for as likable as he may be now, he’s still a total smeghead. And is it wrong to say that Rimmer’s death was hilarious? Granted, the acting was sublime, and Holly went with his warning announcement (“There’s an emergency going on… it’s still going on.). We also have Holly’s NorWebb joke, the Cat acting as vain and flamboyant as ever, and Lister acting like a classic slob. And the ending. Dear god, the ending.

Minor plot hole, though! In previous episodes, it is explained that Holly can only support one hologram. But, we see two holograms working fine (Who knows, maybe power was cut off to a part of the ship that the gang never use.) Just bugs me a bit.

Favorite Scene: Again, Rimmer’s death.

Score: 9

Gravity Falls Review: Season 1, Episode 1: "Tourist Trapped"

(Note: Review Being Re-Written and Re-Uploaded).
Airdate: June 15th, 2012.

Synopsis (Some Spoilers): Dipper and Mabel Pines are forced to spend the summer with their con-artist Grunkle Stan, at his tourist trap shack. While doing some errands for Stan, Dipper finds a journal containing the mysteries of the town. Meanwhile, Mabel’s goal for an epic summer romance starts well as she finds a mysterious guy. Dipper thinks that he is a zombie. However, he is merely a bunch of gnomes…. who kidnap Mabel and make her the queen of the Gnomes. Dipper manages to help rescue Mabel, and the duo fight off a bunch of gnomes, using a technique that Mabel used to practice kissing.

The Good: For a first episode, this manages to go above and beyond. Mabel’s blithe spirit manages to contrast very, very well with Dipper’s more logical side. The reveal of what Norman really was is hilariously done. The introduction of the book is tastefully done, and adds to the mystery of the show. And the very end of the episode is really the best cliffhanger of the show.

The Bad: Mabel does come off as rather stalker-ish in this episode, which makes her slightly less sympathetic. Slightly.

Favorite Scene: It’s a tie between “Try not to hit any pedestrians” and the reveal of the Gnomes. Both are just comedy gold!

Score: 9.

Red Dwarf Review: Series 1, Episode 5: Confidence and Paranoia

Airdate: 14 March 1988

“Now, how can I beat Jimmy Fallon’s replacement?”

Synopsis (SPOILERS): Lister snoops through Kochanski’s quarters, which have not been decontaminated yet. He winds up falling ill. The pneumonia he contracts is a mutated strain and, while delirious, he has hallucinations which become solid—fish rain in his sleeping quarters, the Mayor of Warsaw from 1546 catches fire, and two guests materialize in the drive room. These guests are Lister’s Confidence, a tall, tanned, flashily-dressed game show host type who calls Lister “the King”, and Lister’s Paranoia, a stooped, pallid, black suit-clad little man who often sides with Rimmer.

Despite Rimmer’s warnings that the two guests are symptoms of Lister’s disease and therefore dangerous, Lister begins spending a lot of time with his Confidence, who helps him figure out where Rimmer has hidden Kochanski’s hologram disc: in the solar panels outside their sleeping quarters. Rimmer is proven correct, however, when Confidence murders Paranoia and pressures Lister to perform suicidal acts of over-confidence, namely removing his helmet during the spacewalk. To prove that “Oxygen is for losers!” Confidence removes his own helmet. Three guesses and no prizes as to what happens next. Lister, having successfully retrieved the disc, nervously rehearses his first words to Kochanski. When he switches on the program, however, we meet a copy of a familiar face….

Review: This episode is another underrated one, although not as much as “Waiting for God”.

There is a lot to admire about this episode, of course. Personally, I believe that Craig Ferguson is a comedic genius. Every line that he delivers here is hysterical. We learn how obsessed with Kochanski Lister is, willing to get sick just to get to her. Every line feels more natural than it did in “Balance of Power”. The Cat also has the desire to claim everything as his own, and yet again, proves himself to be a selfish wacko who seems not to care about the well-being of everybody else. We also see that Rimmer seems to care for Lister’s well being… sort of. Maybe.

Paranoia depresses me, though, and not exactly in a good way. Also, was Confidence’s American Accent really necessary? I feel that Ferguson’s natural Scottish accent would work well, also. And again, this episode is (outside of anything with Confidence) a bit dry.
 
Favorite Scene: The Cat plays with his food. Just comedic gold! Also, “Oxygen is for losers!”

Score: 7

Gravity Falls Review: The Basics

Time to take a brief break from Red Dwarf and go from three million years in deep space to the year 2012 in the state of Oregon, for one of the greatest shows to come out in the past year.

I am proud to say that I love Gravity Falls dearly. It really is one of the first shows in a decent while (since The Simpsons) that I will watch if it is on, and will watch a new episode as much as possible. It is on Disney Channel and on iTunes, so if you want to take a quick look, go crazy. The show contains so many elements of comedy, drama, science fiction, mystery, fantasy, action, every genre is mocked and yet embraced. Alex Hirsch has really created a masterpiece.

The show currently has 15 episodes knocked down. As of this writing, we have just seen episode 16, “Carpet Diem”, which was a good episode. A second season is currently in the offing.

The show is set in the mountain town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent by their parents to hang out over the summer with their shop-owning Great-Uncle Stan. They wind up trapped in a series of conspiracies that affect their lives.

Much like I did with Red Dwarf, we may as well take a look at these characters.

dipper-pines-gravity-falls-6

Our main protagonist is Dipper Pines, played by Jason Ritter (the son of the late “Three’s Company” star, John Ritter). Imagine Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf is he was less of an obsessive, self-centered jerk. He thinks that his summer is not going to go well, until he finds a book in the middle of the forest, containing all of the secrets of the area, including Gnomes, Zombies, ghosts, and all of that jazz. The viewer gets to see him as he takes on these mystical creatures, and note how his character develops, and how he comes of age. He gets his first romance, gets to meet a historical figure that never was, makes clones of himself, etc. etc. He is not perfect: he tends to over-analyze and can be quite cynical and has moments of selfishness. He also is a bit more feminine than he would like to let on (He sings DISCO in the shower). However, this makes the character more relatable to the audience.

It is in this spirit where the character Mabel Pines can be compared to. Played by Daily Show correspondent Kirsten Schaal, Mabel is the Id to Dipper’s Superego: the bright, cheery, happy foil to Dipper’s more analytical, cynical persona. She is a character that runs purely on emotional desire. While this is nothing new, Mabel comes more into her own, being quirky, yet still having a small sense of responsibility, and being quite selfless. She also is a wonderful example of how a female character can be tough and more action-oriented, yet still not be extraordinarily tomboyish. (Her desire over the summer is to have an “epic summer romance”, and she has a large sweater collection, yet she is able to beat up a bunch of gnomes. More on that later)

He wears a fez. Fezzes are cool.

The two have to live over the summer with Grunkle Stan, played by creator Alex Hirsch himself. Imagine Mr. Krabs if he was human. And ran a tourist trap instead of a restaurant. And if he was a semi-decent boss. (Emphasis on the semi). Either way, he’s still a colossal scam artist. It is revealed at the end of the 1st episode that he may be hiding something. But, what could it be? Who knows?

Well, let’s move on to two other characters in the show that, while not getting the development of the prior three, also play a decent role in the show. We have Soos (also played by Hirsch), who is the total kiss-up to Stan. Imagine if TV’s Frank from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was more of a man-child. And had a big old question mark on his shirt.

Wendy (played by Freaks and Geeks alumnus Linda Cardellini) herself seems to take on the role of the “typical teenager” that many shows have tried, and failed (I’m looking at you, Family Guy) to capture. To be more specific, I like to compare her somewhat to Dave Lister from Red Dwarf. Unlike Dipper, who is shown in many episodes to be more feminine and awkward, Wendy has more tomboyish traits to her persona, such as hanging out with predominantly male friends, lazing around, throwing pine cones at objects, etc, and she also seems much more comfortable with who she is. Dipper falls head over heels with her, in a subplot that can best be summed up with a certain song.

Fun fact: British radio DJ John Peel once gave that song a score of 27. Out of 5.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Uh, I will begin reviewing new Gravity Falls episodes soon. Whatever.

Red Dwarf Review: Series 1, Episode 4, "Waiting for God"

Airdate: 7 March 1988

“And on the 7th day, the cats said ‘We’re going to go to Fuchal, the Promised Land, and make hot dogs and donuts!’ God saw, and said ‘Why did I create the Earth again?'”

Plot:  An Unidentified Object is brought aboard the ship. Rimmer believes that it is the capsule of an alien race, and convinces himself that this alien species can give Rimmer a new body. After a closer inspection, Lister discovers that the capsule is actually nothing more than a jettisoned Red Dwarf garbage pod. Meanwhile, Lister learns more about the Cat people’s god, “Cloister the Stupid” who was “frozen in time” to save the cat race. Lister informs the openly skeptical Cat that he is their God, only to subsequently become depressed when he learns that the entire Cat race destroyed itself in holy wars over minor details (like whether the hats on the shop should have been red or blue: Lister states that they should have been green) of ‘Fuchal’- the Cat heaven, really based on Lister’s plans to open a hot dog and doughnut shop on Fiji-, and that they lived their lives according to five sacred laws (of which Lister himself has broken four). 

Later, the Cat, who is known to go “investigating”, goes off on one of his excursions, and Lister follows him, deep into the cargo hold. There Lister discovers an old blind cat priest, the only one of their race left other than Cat, who is dying and proclaims that he has lost his faith, feeling that he has wasted his life following Cloister. Lister shows up and convinces the priist that he has led an admirable life and has served Cloister well, and as such will reach ‘Fuchal’.  The Cat Priest joyously exclaims that this is the happiest day of his life….. and promptly dies. Back in the observation room, the quarantine period for the pod is over. Lister opens the pod and pulls out a decaying chicken carcass. Rimmer eventually figures out the truth. “It’s a smeggin garbage pod!”

Review: I am amazed at how underrated this episode is. It was ranked as the worst episode of series I in the recent Silver Survey Poll on the Ganymede and Titan site. What a shame. This episode gives great character development to the Cat, showing just how insanely selfish he is, and helps flesh out the race of the Cats in hilarious detail. The subplot involving the garbage pod is classic Rimmer, showing how neurotic and insane he is. And Lister is his old slobbish self, which is wonderfully funny. Most of the jokes connect. Oh, and the captain’s remarks about Lister and Rimmer? Hilarious.

Admittedly, I am not a fan of Talkie Toaster, although he gets much funnier in a series IV episode. And the pacing does seem a bit slower then later RD episodes, although this is a blanket criticism for Series I and II.

Overall, this is a fantastic episode.

Favorite Scene: The meeting with the Cat Priest. It helps showcase how much of a selfish idiot the Cat is. Second place is a tie, and it goes to Rimmer’s realization about the garbage pod and the Captain’s remarks.

Side note: Remember when Lister took the chef’s exam last episode? He actually failed.

Score: 8

Red Dwarf Review: Series I, Episode 3: "Balance of Power"

Airdate: 29 February 1988

Plot: Lister and Rimmer are at odds again : Rimmer wants everything to be perfect, while Lister just wants to slack off. It gets to the point where Rimmer even holds Lister’s beloved cigarettes hostage, with the Cat (who is promised fish) as an executor. Lister reminisces about the good old days, where he would slob around with his friends. He wants to get his old desire, officer Kristine Kochanski back, even as a hologram. Lister then desires to take the chef’s exam, as Lister would be able to outrank Rimmer and switch off his hologram. Rimmer winds up corrupting himself so that he now looks like Kochanski. Lister sees the danger behind the fog, and everything goes back to normal.

Review: This episode is pretty dull. I blame the BBC for this, as they wanted a more sitcom-based episode. Based on the “smegzine” poll and the recent Silver Survey, not many people liked the direction. Still, I give them credit for introducing Kochanski, and trying to show how strong the antagonism between the two is.

The humor is actually decent at times, though. My favorite joke? Today’s fish is trout a’la creme. The joke is a lot like a Family Guy styled gag, except, y’know, funny. Simply because it does not go on for THREE MINUTES (I’m looking at you, Conway Twitty). Also, the scenes with “Kochanski” are pretty funny.

Favorite Quote/Scene: The entire fish sequence. Any time. Every time.

Score: 6.5 (Come on, “FISH!”)