Gravity Falls Review: "Boyz Crazy" (Season 1, Episode 17)

“Sieze upon Oregon; give to the edge of the sword
Candy, Grenda, and all unfortunate souls
that dare to kidnap you.”

Airdate: April 19th, 2013.

Synopsis (SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED AT YOUR OWN CAUTION): Mabel, Candy, and Grenda try to land tickets to a concert by their favorite “decade-behind” boy band, Several Timez. However, tickets quickly sell out. They decide to break into the back of the concert, where they realize that the boy band is all genetically engineered. Several Timez (who’s leader is played by N-Sync star Lance Bass) are broken out and hidden inside the Mystery Shack. Initially thrilled by having their own boy band, Candy and Grenda quickly realize that Mabel will keep them as slaves, no matter what the cost. Her insanity almost overtakes her, before she comes to her senses about the fact that she’s, you know, breaking the 13th amendment, and decides to let them go.
Meanwhile, Dipper’s frustration with Robbie going out with Wendy reaches it’s zenith when he realizes that Robbie is a negligent Jerkass who manages to maintain a relationship with Wendy because he writes music. Dipper believes that the music is possessed, and teams up with Grunkle Stan (who had to deal with a long lost love himself) to try and decipher the record. They realize that the record contains a backmasked message, and tries to stop Robbie from playing the record again… whilst in a van with Wendy. Robbie confesses… that he had no knowledge of the backmasking because he plagiarized the song. As Wendy burns the last bridge of the Wenbie relationship, Dipper’s own hubris manages to wreck his relationship with her.
Review (AGAIN, SPOILERS AHEAD): There exists a trope (on, where else, TVTropes) called “True Art is Angsty”. Translated, the trope says that the best type of art is one that is outright depressing. The reason for this perception is that tragic art is one that pulls at our emotions, that makes us feel empathy for the subject. Thus, whereas “Carpet Diem” was some fantastic comedy, “Boyz Crazy” takes a turn into Shakespearean tragedy/tragicomedy. The end result?

As of this writing, this is my all time favourite Gravity Falls episode. Ever. I’m serious. I don’t care if I’m reinforcing a trope. This is one hell of an episode! Continue reading

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Gravity Falls Review: Season 1, Episode 16: "Carpet Diem"

Airdate: April 5th, 2013.

Synopsis: Dipper is frustrated by Mabel’s repeated sleepovers, which always force him to sleep in humiliating places (i.e. outside). Mabel, meanwhile, is fed up with Dipper’s irritating habits. The two realize they have to sleep elsewhere. When a bedroom is revealed, the two fight to win the room from Grunkle Stan. However, the shag carpeting in the bedroom causes a bodyswap to occur. Unlike other bodyswaps, nobody else can tell who’s controlling whom. Thus, Dipper and Mabel participate in the sincerest form of flattery… sabotage! The end result? A good amount of embarrassment! How? You don’t want to know. End result: one of them gets the room, yet reneges on his/her threat to move out after finding it lonely.

Meanwhile, Soos and Waddles swap places. They eventually get caught up in a bodyswap mix involving Dipper, Mabel, Candy, Grenda, Durland, and Blubs.

Review: The “Bodyswap” cliche is nothing original (Red Dwarf did it first). It’s the execution that determines if the episode is bad or good. You’re not looking for too much originality here; maybe a good amount of character development and comedy.

Honestly, this is my second-favourite bodyswap episode of all time. (I cite “The Prisoner of Benda” from Futurama as the gold standard of all bodyswap episodes). Why? Well, it’s simple; they took a cliche and made it into a fun romp.

The setup of the episode revolves around the brother-sister relationship between Dipper and Mabel. Honestly, the bond between these two is so realistic. We have siblings that we feel are on top of us, are pressing us down all the time. Yet, we just can’t live without them. They do what siblings would do when a bodyswap occurs; they mess around with the other’s lives! Oh, the prices they pay. We see both of them as imperfect, their reasons for moving out being just as selfish as they are justifiable. That’s what makes them fantastic characters.

The comedy in this episode can not be understated, either. This is some of the show’s funniest comedy to date. We have:

  • Grunkle Stan teaching Mabel about Puberty. “Goodbye, childhood” indeed.
  • Anything with the slumber parties. Especially at the end of the first one, where Mabel, Candy, and Grenda wake up with confusion on the previous night. The room is torn up.
  • The window gag. Ah, golf, you!
  • “Ten suck-up points for this lemonade!”
  • The foreshadowing of Several Timez.
  • The climax with the electron carpet, Candy, Grenda, Mabel, Dipper, Blubs, Durland, Waddles, and Soos.
Whereas the next episode will be a pure tragicomedy, this episode is clearly some fantastic comedy. Outside of some minor missed opportunities and some exposition, this is an otherwise fantastic episode. Zach Piez and Tim McKeon have a mixed-to-positive record in terms of writing. (For example, Piez wrote both the fantastic “Hand That Rocks The Mabel” and the mediocre “Summerween”). This is their writing at their finest.
Favorite Moment: Mabel and Dipper challenging each other for the room. Pure sibling comedy.
Least Favorite Moment: Wendy gets a two-second appearance. It feels like they just wanted to do some service to Wendy fans, and decided that it was worth giving Linda Cardellini a cheque. They need to do more with that character.
Rating: 9

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 7: "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons"

Airdate: November 16th, 1997:

Well, there’s 1 Mrs, Nahassapeemapetilon.

Synopsis: At a bachelor’s auction (think the auction from Batman and Robin, with more humor), Apu receives a wide variety of bids, and begins realising the positives of his bachelor lifestyle… just in time to be reminded of his arranged marriage to Manjula. Apu’s mother comes over to remind him herself, and Apu fakes a marriage with Marge, much to Marge’s chagrin and the disappointment of Apu’s mother. Homer hides out at the retirement house, stealing the identity of somebody else. When Homer returns, Apu’s mother realizes the truth, and declares the wedding proceed as planned.

Review: One of the pitfalls of the Mike Scully era was that it tried to alter the characters and their dynamic with other characters in an attempt at character development. However, these newfound characterisations were not focused on as much because, during the Scully era, the world revolved around Homer Jay Simpson. This is not a huge problem in this episode, but you can still see the signs of Scully’s era setting in with the long form changes being put on the back burner.

Really, this episode also felt like a Jean-era episode in some aspects… as in the plot. It just seemed far too close to standard sitcom fare. Granted, there still is a good twist (the wedding must proceed as planned, instead of the “follow your heart” twist that the cliche sitcom would add). Also, the plot went everywhere. It seemed like, in the second act, that Homer became the center protagonist in a “hanging out in a retirement home” plot.

We must also mention that characterisation seemed to be a tiny bit off. Homer and Apu weren’t too bad, but Marge, Bart, and Lisa seemed to not do much of anything.

Where is this episode redeemed? Well, the humor. This episode contains tons of funny lines. Even at the retirement home, there is a good amount of humor, even if the plot was resolved in a cliche way. And besides, at least there is some substance in the plot. Not something I can say for the Jean-era episodes.

Favorite Moment: Even if I thought it was filler, the idea of the retirement home plot was good, if only because it still shows the cynicism of the show.

Least Favorite Moment: The wedding scene. It seems like they could’ve mocked it quite a bit more rather than the “Apu and Manjula get married and live decently” ending that occurred.

Zaniness Factor: 1

Zaniest Moment: Not available. It’s a rather pedestrian episode.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 1.5

Jerkass Homer Moment: Why did Homer feel the need to commit identity theft to try and escape Apu’s mother?

Final Score: 6.