Airdate: March 1st, 2013
Special Note about this review: This episode is split into a few segments, sort of like the “Treehouse of Horror” specials from The Simpsons or the “Anthology of Interest” episodes from Futurama. It’s a controversial practice that many shows do, and this episode has received mixed reviews from the fandom because of it.
Due to this structure, each segment will be graded separately, and all grades will be averaged out. So this is going to be a bit of a longer review.
As always, beware of SPOILERS!
Wrap-around: While dumping stuff in a bottomless pit, Stan, Dipper, Mabel, and Soos wind up falling into said pit. To pass the time, they each tell stories.
The wrap around segment is brilliant. It ties into the science-fiction aspect of the show, and the resolution to this shows just how brilliant this show is.
“Voice Over” (Dipper’s Story)
|Hey, at least it isn’t introduced by Mr. Freeze… as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dipper realizes that his voice is godawful and scratchy after hearing it on tape. He winds up buying a voice-changing serum from Old Man McGucket, making his voice far deeper. However, he manages to scare off many people (up to and including his own sister), and wants his voice changed back. McGucket tells him that not only did he get the wrong serum, but also, said serum expires at sundown. After he relistens to the tape, he learns that others loved his unique voice. He goes back to his old voice, although Grunkle Stan gets another version of the Serum.
“Voice Over”, if analyzed correctly, shows one overlooked aspect of Dipper’s character. Dipper has this desire to mature in every aspect of his personality and body. Gravity Falls is partially a coming-of-age story for Dipper. Granted, the message “you’re fine just the way you are” is a tad bit cliche, but the humor in this segment helps mitigate that problem. And the ending… oh, god the ending.
“Soos’ Really Great Pinball Story (Is That a Good Title? Do They Have To Be Puns, or Whatever?) (Soos’s Story)
|No. No, they don’t.
Soos, Dipper, and Mabel are playing Pinball in the Shack’s recreation room. As Soos is about to beat his high score, the three wind up entering the pinball game. The game threatens to kill the gang with various pinballs. Soos manages to go into the core of the game, and faces the reset button. Soos is now faced with a dilemma, save his friends, or his high score? He chooses his friends, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
This segment is also pretty darn great. The ending is a bit predictable, but it presents quite a bit of development for Soos. This segment represents a central part of his character: despite his childish attachment to something with little sentimental value (his high score), when faced with an ultimate decision, he will choose his friends over anything else. The fact that he takes a decent while to make his decision shows that, despite being noble at the end, he is still a child at heart, whether for good or for bad.
“Grunkle Stan Wins the Football Bowl” (Stan’s Story)
|Only in your dreams, Stanford!
It’s exactly what it says on the tin. Stan scores the winning touchdown at the Football Bowl, gets a trophy presented by a beautiful lady, football players learn that old guys are valuable, and Stan’s robot thanks him.
This one is my favorite of them all. Despite being a mere 30 seconds, it reveals that, alongside his greed and callousness, Stan also has a bit of a problem with his ego, and can’t write for beans. This scene managed to leave me in stitches the first time I saw it, and not a whole lot more needs to be said.
Score: 9.5 (Although those falling down the hole with him think otherwise).
“Trooth Ache” (Mabel’s Story)
|The title card of this segment is way too creepy. Instead, here’s a screenshot.
Mabel is upset that Stan is a consummate liar. especially after he lies to Police. Mabel consults Dipper’s journal to get some help for Stan’s lying problem and manages to land some truth-telling teeth. They work too well, causing Stan to tell the truth too much, such as on his taxes (he committed fraud) and reveal a ton more truths… most of them illegal. As the cops come to arrest Stan, Mabel has to lie to save her uncle.
One part of this segment manages to land it right along Soos’ Great Pinball Story. It shows that Mabel, despite being quite loopy, is probably the most moral of the main cast. Think about it: Dipper will do anything to date Wendy, Soos still has childish tendencies, Wendy is a slob, and Stan’s list of flaws rivals that of Bender from Futurama. The fact that she has to lie is taken as a great disservice to her morals, and she only does so in defense of her family. Also, this segment also provides some brilliant lines! “Stan is sick and needs a bear”, anybody? And the ending of this one is just brilliant all around!
Overall Review and Semi-pointless Tangent/Plea: Certainly, this episode is one of my favorite episodes of the show, partially because it reminds me of the Treehouse of Horror episodes from The Simpsons which to me, were always mandatory viewing. The idea of doing a trilogy of shorts is nothing new, but this time especially, it was done very, very well. Characterization was perfect, development was wonderful, the humor was brilliant, and overall, it was just a joy to watch.
It also supports what I like about trilogy-based episodes: despite being shorter, you have more liberties taken with the characters and the setting. Therefore, creativity is not looked down upon. You can do something like a parody of the Mary Sue, satirize TV cliches, or set the characters in situations which, while not full enough to take up an entire episode, work well in 7-minute clips.
I do have to go on a bit of a tangent and make a plea/warning to the writers of Gravity Falls, however. This also concerns the connection between “Treehouse of Horror” and “Bottomless Pit”. During the Mike Scully and early-to-middle Al Jean years of The Simpsons (In layman’s terms, seasons 10-20), more effort was put into the Treehouse of Horror episodes of those seasons compared to the rest of the episodes. That, alongside numerous other factors (such as characterisation and plot ideas), caused quite the decline in overall quality for the show. Therefore, Gravity Falls writers, remember that if you make this an annual tradition, every episode in the season deserves a large amount of effort, and not just the annual trilogy episodes.
(Even the writers of The Simpsons figured this out, however, and decided to make all of their episodes have an equal amount of effort put into them. That is to say, they now decide what not-so-relevant celebrity to put in an episode, write their episodes in two shots at best, send every single one of them off to animation studios without care for quality, collect their cheques, and let the episodes air to a frustrated and ever-shrinking fanbase.)
TL;DR: This episode is brilliant, the trilogy-type structure in cartoons works when done right, and they should’ve canceled The Simpsons 10 years ago.
Overall Score: 9
Another pointless note: As of this episode, the cipher used in the end credits is A1Z26.