Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wander Over Yonder Blogs: "The Greatest"-"The Egg"

Watched: September 13th, 2013 / Written: Septembe 14th-15th, 2013
Episode II (101a): "The Greatest"
Episode III (101b): "The Egg"
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=) (I cannot stop smiling)
Oh boy, oh boy, readers!  After almost a month after the preview episode "The Picnic" debuted, Disney has finally released the newest episodes of the bunch, therefore officially premiering the newest series Wander Over Yonder.  I would've written it earlier, except I was in the middle of my Alcahest video game review, and I so wanted to have it done before Wander Over Yonder day came.  Here's the link to it if you're interested.  Now, then, onto greater things.  This is a special blog, for there are two episodes to talk about; that's right, it's a 2-for-1 Special kind of blog!  Let's hit it!  =D
Music, maestro!
Now before I divulge my thoughts on these two episodes, I should probably explain about something that really bothers me about most of the Disney shows (not just bad ones but good ones in general), and that is: episodes airing out of order.  If you've read my blog on "The Picnic" you may have noticed that I wrote it down as "Episode I (102a): 'The Picnic'", and there's a reason for that.  While "The Picnic" is technically the first episode of the show to have aired back on August 16th, it's actually the first part of the second set of halfisodes in the show, with the first set debuting on September 13th.  If it's subtle and doesn't disrupt continuity, I'm willing to overlook that; however if an episode has clearly been taking place after an event from or even references an event that happened in an episode that has yet to air, then that's where I draw the line.
 
For your pleasure I'm going to bring up a few examples.  Fillmore!: an underrated and sadly short-lived animated show (think CSI and Law and Order for kids), has Ingrid Third team up with Cornelius Fillmore; seven aired episodes later, Fillmore's old partner moves away and Ingrid has just transferred to the school, is framed for a crime she didn't commit, and she joins the squad in the end.  Kim Possible: the titular cheerleader with her sidekick (eventually moving to boyfriend status by the beginning of the fourth season) Ron Stoppable battle enemies and consistently save the world, especially battle Dr. Drakken in the first episode that airs; three episodes later (as far as aired schedules are concerned), they meet for the first time and are basically like, "Who?".  Lizzie McGuire: there's a moment when later in the show's production that Lalaine (who played Miranda) would leave to do other projects (one of them possibly involving the DCOM movie You Wish!), and the theatrical movie (why Disney thought of even doing that is beyond me, and I don't hate the movie to be honest, I just think it's a weird decision) that takes place in Rome was supposed to be the series finale... so, five jumbled up episodes later (all taking place before the events of the movie), the series finally ends in 2004 (the movie was made in 2003, with all prior episodes produced and finished by the end of 2002).  You see what I'm talking about?  =(
 
I cannot be the only one that finds it frustrating.  If there's an issue during production (causing it to be postponed) that forces a company to replace a sequential episode with a nonsequential one, okay I'll buy that.  If it's done "just because" then that is not acceptable.  There is a reason episodes should be aired in their correct order, because if key characters or elements are known about already but are introduced in a later episode that was produced first, and if a character is missing one episode if they're long gone but appear in the next one, it's going to do nothing but leave people confused!  Continuity is important when it comes to shows, and so is coherence!  Look, I like Disney, I really do (their good stuff at least), I just have a big issue with their numerous shows where episodes are aired out of order.  Fortunately for Wander Over Yonder, it's not too much of a problem: we (the viewers) went from 102a to 101a, so at least Disney didn't take too long to air the first produced episodes.
 
Well, I've rambled on long enough, let's begin!  Here is the first episode:
I've got visual aiiiiiiid!  =)  I apologize that it's in 1.33:1 format as opposed to the intended 1.78:1 aspect ratio; I don't have the HD version of Disney Channel  =(
One thing I neglected to mention in the previous Wander Over Yonder blog was how the shows builds up the episode's title in such a clever way, and when it pops up there is a cute banjo twang sound as time temporarily freezes over.  I really love that, to be honest; if only more shows would do that.  Haha, I kid, it would probably get annoying real fast if every single show did that, yet for Wander Over Yonder it really clicks.  =)
So, the first of the two episodes is titled "The Greatest".  A kind and friendly planet has just been taken over by the ruthless tyrant Lord Hater (only the second greatest part of the show after Wander) and his army of eyeballs (all of which have their isis bounce or something similar as they talk; and if anyone was wondering how they eat without a mouth, this episode showcases it... I guess).  Wander and his steed Sylvia show up in the fray of things, but once Hater arrives Wander challenges him to a series of competitive events; Wander's just doing it for fun, while Hater does it (thereby disrupting his plans of conquering), as the title implies, so he could be the "greatest".
Okay, then, there is so much stuff to talk about, but since I cannot be as detailed since there's another episode to discuss, then I'll try to be as brief as I can about it.  I like how they introduce Lord Hater, he is a menacing conqueror that will stop at nothing to get what he wants; another thing I like about him is that even though he is a dignified villain (or tries to be at least), I just enjoy what a big sore loser he is, particularly during the challenges (and the running gag with the lightning bolt anytime the camera cuts to him is priceless).  He's the kind of villain that tries and fumbles, yet you cannot help but like him because of that.  Commander Peepers is a great henchman to Lord Hater, and I like his design and overall character; the army of eyeballs are cute yet intimidating, and if enemies can be both cute and intimidating, then you know they're doing a good job.
"NO!  NOT THE FLASH!"
Sylvia is Wander's faithful steed, and almost immediately when she sees trouble she shows us her awesome fighter-like prowess, for she is strong willed and at times very rough, but means well.  Great design too!  And now for Wander; I love the way this episode introduces him on top of his steed as a shadowy silhouette in front of the sun, once we get closer we him with a serious demeanor, and once the camera stops panning to the right it zooms out and instantaneously and excitedly he is like, "Wow!  Would you look at that town?"  I like scenes that play with your expectations, and if done properly they work, and in this episode's case it works.  Wander is such a likable yokel that is incredibly fun-loving, selfless, energetic, free-spirited, optimistic, friendly, and considerate, among all the other positive qualities.  He's also voiced by the same person who does Irving's voice, the in-show fanboy in Phineas and Ferb that people tend to love or hate (I personally feel indifferent about Irving); Wander is a character I absolutely love.
Many of the jokes and references work very well; I find that they will appeal not just to kids but for older viewers that may have been kids themselves one or two decades ago.  =)  There is a moment during this episode when Sylvia dances just like Snoopy from The Peanuts, which I thought was cute.  In this one scene where Lord Hater walks menacingly towards Wander as he crawls backwards, Hater is going on a tirade as to how he's done bad things and tries to conquer galaxies; and once he's done Wander suddenly gives him a hug (not a huge hug, but a friendly kind of hug) and he's like "Congratulations!"  That is funny; out of nowhere, makes no sense, but it works!  The planet's residents are nicely designed, and there is a funny yet sad scene used to good effect as soon as their planet is conquered (it happens right before Wander's opening scene).  There is a moment later on that almost had me burst out laughing, because it was handled so well and the timing was so perfect; I'm not going to tell you what it is, but the payoff is worth it!  XD
I also got a kick out of Wander's and Commander Peepers' first scene together; the latter is about to vaporize Wander or hurt him, but then Wander knocks the gun away, carries Commander Peepers, wildly shakes him, and is like "Oh, my gosh!  You are so cute I cannot stand it!!!"  And then there's the picture scene, and if you've seen "The Picnic" you would know that Commander Peepers absolutely loves it when the flash is used during photographs.  ;-)  Incredibly funny, I'm rooting for Wander already!  The colors are very well-chosen for they are easy to the eyes, the shading and lighting is effective, and I love the color scheme that's used near the very end.  Some visual imagery is weird but effective particularly when the eyeball soldiers start attacking the planetary inhabitants.  The writing is solid, the jokes are great, the theme is good, it's really fun, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I really like "The Greatest".  I think it's an even better episode than "The Picnic" [ Emperor Awesome isn't in it; hurray!  =D  But I looked up that he's going to be a regular in future episodes; hurroo!  =( ]  Great episode, highly recommend it!  =)
All right, time for the companion-piece to "The Greatest" in
*insert banjo twang here*
The bad news about the episode is that Lord Hater isn't in it.  ={  The good news is that it's pretty damn good!  =)  "The Egg" is a Sylvia-centric episode, and I guess she can stand on her own.
Here's the synopsis: Sylvia, whose voice is lent by April Winchell (who you may recognize as the voice of Muriel Finster in Recess and Lydia Pearson in Pepper Ann), is in a rough battle against a dragon-like creature because... oh, c'mon, do you really need a reason?  Wander suggests that Sylvia take a break but due to her stubbornness and rough attitude she refuses to give up.  While Wander goes around being Wander, he stumbles on an egg and notices that it's all the way down from its nest up above.  Wander lets Sylvia know this and suggests that she help him bring the unhatched egg all the way to the nest; under the impression that it's the dragon's egg.  Sylvia, being the faithful steed that she is, wags her finger at Wander and sternly informs him that "sweet, lovey dovey, mushy silliness" (I forget what most of the words she used in that sentence was, but it's somewhere around those lines) "ain't my style!"  So Wander attempts to climb up with the egg himself, and after seeing that he can't do it, Sylvia reluctantly agrees to go up much to her dismay.  Will Sylvia prove that she's not always as rough as she presents herself to be, and will there be a happy ending?
"With the power of love!!!"
Okay, so as you can probably tell from what I've described; Sylvia is going to try to take care of the egg with motherly care, though not willingly.  She's still mad that she's been roped into doing this, especially since there's a dragon at their tails, making it all the more frustrating for her!  Wander keeps encouraging Sylvia to take care of the baby and not drag it around carelessly; for it needs loving care.  I like the design of the dragon, I think it's very menacing and well done.  But ultimately Sylvia will have to expose her soft side in the end, which I think is handled well.
Once again, the flash animation is superb, the lighting and shading is very effective, and the colors that were chosen for each scene were all succinct.  I like how Wander Over Yonder has got moments that play with your expectations, and when the characters show expressions they're very called for and justified (thus it's not annoying to hear).  When a character screams here, it's for a legitimate reason (i.e. calling from afar, anger, shock, fear) for this show, unlike certain other animated shows where characters seem to scream often for no rhyme or reason (*cough* Fish Hooks *cough*) to the point that you want to yank your ears off.  Wander is still great and energetic, he's very optimistic even in the most dire of times, and he doesn't have a cynical bone in his body (how can anyone not like someone as sweet and innocent as that?).
*gaaaaaaaaaaasp*  D=
If a character tends to think that Wander is getting annoying, it's not his fault.  He just enjoys talking to others and is just a happy and jovial soul; if he were aware that he was exerting annoyance towards others, then yeah it would get pretty damn unbearable.  Wander is not an annoying character (at least not to the viewer), and since he doesn't intentionally annoy anyone, it works.  I love the various reactions he expresses (and to a lesser extent, Sylvia) whenever the egg glows brightly or is about to hatch; and some of the jokes were funny enough that it almost made me crack up.  For instance: there is one scene where they show a shot of Wander being sad, but then seconds later he suddenly starts to gradually smile widely, pull out a banjo, and starts bursting into a short song.  That is so random and out of left field, but because it's done in such good taste, it's super effective.  XD  I'd say that "it works", but then I would be reiterating myself.  The ending is so sweet that you can't help but go "Awww!" when it plays.  I'm not going to spoil it, but try not to go "Awww!" at the end; I guarantee that you won't be able to resist.
So that was "The Egg", and it was fun!  *laughs*  That is to say, funny when it was ready to give laughs and it was sweet when the time required it to be.  Lord Hater wasn't in it, but at least the episode was good; plus, we've got Wander!  =)
Wander Over Yonder is not ashamed to be appealing; not just for kids but much older viewers too (especially when it comes to certain references, homages, and parodies).  Under a different direction this show would've drastically gone in the wrong direction with bad timing, jokes that only five-year olds would find funny, and writing that is awful that it makes one cringe.  As I said before, this show is in the right and competent hands; Wander Over Yonder is Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust's brain child, and it's such a marvelous result because of that.  =)
 
The flash animation is still some of the best I've seen in recent memory, the colors are so easy on the eyes, the character designs are great (unlike in Fish Hooks where they look creepy as all hell), the jokes are funny, the timing is great, the cast of characters are very likable, it's got a boatload of charm, it's got a heart; and it doesn't resort to tastelessness, mean-spiritedness, being intelligence-insulting, condescending, demeaning, being pandering to the audience, and it especially does not suffer the stench of pessimism (these seven qualities I just mentioned all apply to Fish Hooks, which I should mention does not have a heart and suffers from "Soulless Syndrome").  When an episode of Wander Over Yonder ends, it ends on a good note and doesn't end in a way that would makes the audience groan loudly and audibly like every episode of Fish Hooks does.
 
I'm sorry, I feel bad for bagging on Fish Hooks all the time... oh wait, what am I saying?  I'm not sorry, any time I bag on Fish Hooks it fills me with great joy because that show sucks royally, it's literally the worst animated show I've ever seen, and as far as I'm concerned it can go  screw itself>=(  ...  Wander Over Yonder, on the other hand, is a show that in my opinion will live long and prosper.  =)  As I've stated a few times it doesn't make any sense, but the reason I feel it works is because it itself is a product of nonsensicality; and because it wallows in its own world and fun, it's fun to get invested and enjoy the show.  At least it's not a confused, moral-less, and creepy acid trip kind of series like *starts to shake and get angry but shows restraint* ... that other Disney show I hate!
 
Watching Wander Over Yonder makes me feel like a kid again (growing up with some Cartoon Network shows helps, I suppose), it's a very fun ride, and leaves me with a big smile on my face.  =)  I can't explain it, but there's something about this quality animated show that really clicks with me.  Maybe it's the fact that it's charming, maybe it's the fact that the main character is optimistic and doesn't resort to cynical behavior, or it could be one of a number of reasons.  =)  Well, so far so good, and I'm convinced right now: I love Wander Over Yonder!  It has officially replaced Phineas and Ferb as my second favorite animated Disney show (number one is and always will be The Weekenders).  I know it's only three halfisodes in, but I'm hyped, man, I really am.  This Friday's newest halfisode is the companion-piece to "The Picnic", "The Fugitives" (102b).  I cannot wait!
 
And before I stop this blog here, I should mention that it's just as I feared.  This show's fanbase isn't quite as big as the one for Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls, since I've noticed that it's gotten a mixed reaction.  It's got as much defenders as its got detractors, though I suppose I shouldn't be too worried; Wander Over Yonder has only been around for a month (with only three episodes), and I'm sure that as time goes by the fanbase will grow as the show itself grows.  I love it personally, and am a huge fan right now.  =)
"WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Until next time, readers and TV watchers, take care!  Thank you for reading, and I wish you all a great day.  =)
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( >'.')>TO EACH THEIR OWN<('.'< )
Wander Over Yonder is the property of Disney
Screengrabs taken by my video camera
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September 16th NOTE: So I've decided to check more websites to see if other people liked the show as much as I did (if not more) since YouTube is not a very reliable source of knowing who (doesn't) like something, as I saw mixed reactions there (and there were some negative comments).  I've noticed several fan-made art based on the characters and show on deviantART, and a lot of people sounded positive on the show.  I'm glad that a lot of people like Wander Over Yonder, because it is such a good show in my opinion!  =)  I guess there is a big fanbase for this show after all.


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