Sunday, February 23, 2014

Manic Expression Plays Cards Against Humanity -- Episode 2

Cards Against Humanity is crazy enough. Having it with the members of the greatest community on the web is even crazier. Episode 2 has Manic Expression members pbmiranda, Gurning Chimp, ThatLongedHairedCreepyGuy, and Jim Bevan play the popular card game with no limitations. Warning: constant swearing and various inappropriate jokes are featured. Viewer discretion is advised.  

Manic Expression Plays Cards Against Humanity -- Episode 1

Cards Against Humanity is crazy enough. Having it with the members of the greatest community on the web is even crazier. In this new series, Manic Expression members pbmiranda, Gurning Chimp, ThatLongedHairedCreepyGuy, and KevinG play the popular card game with no limitations. Warning: constant swearing and various inappropriate jokes are featured. Viewer discretion is advised.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Yo Gabba Gabba!

If you've been reading our Nickelodeon show reviews, then you've been noticing that Kevin and I haven't tackled a lot of the kids' shows and preschool programs from Nick Jr. in this tribute. It's not that we didn't want to put the time in watching them as much as we with the Nickelodeon live action shows, cartoons, and movies, we did. It's just that there wasn't anything to say about them. While we did give credit to shows such as Pinwheel for being the first show featured for Nickelodeon and Mr. Wizard's World for being a smartly written show that would later on be a timeless classic, most of them were based on books such as Little Bear, Franklin, and Maisy. Others were very basic and told their lessons straight forward with simple characters such as Eureeka's Castle, Allegra's Window, and Gullah Gullah Island. 

It wasn't until Blue's Clues came out in 1996 that Nick Jr. finally had a groundbreaking success that even surpassed Sesame Street and later became their first official cash cow. Then as time went on, the show went on without Steve Burns after he left to pursue a career on music and then had a spinoff called Blue's Room that was complete crap and officially killed the franchise. After Blue's Clues ended after over a decade's run, Nick Jr. was at a standstill again. Every single Nick Jr. program was basic either relying on book adaptations such as Little Bill, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Olivia, and Peter Rabbit or we're very basic with simple characters such as Peppa Pig and Oswald. Deja vu. Only Dora the Explorer was still popular enough to rake in merchandise and is still to this day featuring new episodes after almost 14 years on the air.

So with that, Nick Jr. needed a new show to bring them back to the top fast. But it was getting harder and harder to come up with the next big preschool show since new, fresh ideas for them seemed to have ran dry. Puppetry was still pretty dead at this point with only Sesame Street still on the air. The last show that featured them on Nick Jr. was Jack's Big Music Show in 2005. So with that, Nick Jr. debuted a new preschool show from outside Nickelodeon Productions. It was none other than Yo Gabba Gabba! which debuted on August 20, 2007.

Yo Gabba Gabba! logo.svg

The show begins with the host named D.J Lance Rock (played by Lance Robertson) bringing out his friends named Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex and performing many games and songs focusing on a theme such as summer, food, love, friends, and fun. Most of the songs that were featured in Yo Gabba Gabba! were done by indie singers that were simple, catchy, and fun. Throughout the show, there would be many special guests appearing to dance with Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex such as Elijah Wood, Weird Al Yankovic, Solange Knowles, and Biz Markie. Also in the mix, there's a segment in which Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh would draw animals for the kids. It sort of reminds me of Picture Pages by Bill Cosby that was featured in Pinwheel back in 1977.

The show was created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz. Jacobs was an actor who appeared in various cult films such as Pretty in Pink and Gleaming the Cube as well as being the founder of The Aquabats back in 1997. They were two dads who wanted to create a fun kids' show for their kids during the time in which they felt that preschool programs lost their creativity. Taking inspirations from 8-bit video games, indie singers, and kids' shows such as Sesame Street, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Pee-wee's Playhouse, they did a little pilot for Yo Gabba Gabba around 1999 thanks to the donations of friends and family. It didn't become noticed until it was leaked online and had a little cult following. One day, Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre director Jared Huss saw the pilot and immediately loved it. He then showed it to Nick Jr. vice president Brown Johnson and she approved of it enough to make it into a TV series.

When the show first came out, it was an instant hit. Not only were kids and their parents loved it, but even teens and college students saw it. It had been nominated and won various Emmys for Best Costume Design, won the BAFTA Children's Award, was featured in the top 10 best shows of 2007, was nominated for Outstanding Children's Program from The Television Critics Association Awards from 2008-2012 and won from 2009 and 2010, and won two Kidscreen Awards for Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series and Best Music in 2013. Currently, Yo Gabba Gabba! has a live stage show, The Aquabats has a spin off series on The Hub, and the show has made it in mainstream pop culture. 

Overall, this is one of the best kids' shows I've seen in a very long time. It reminded me of the old kids' shows from the past such as Pee-wee's Playhouse and Sesame Street and does it in a way that's modern and new. This is what I would imagine if The Adventures of Pete & Pete ever did a kids' show. It's crazy, zany, teaches lessons that isn't too preachy, has amazing animation, catchy music, and just plain fun. I listed this as one of my top 5 favorite Nickelodeon preschool shows and I still stand by it. I highly recommend that you check it out. Yo Gabba Gabba! gives me hope that there's still creativity for kids' shows out there.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Old School Lane's Top 10 Rocko's Modern Life episodes

Originally posted on August 12, 2012. 

As Kevin said in my review of Rocko's Modern Life, it's one of his all time favorite Nicktoons that gets overlooked due to many people calling it a Ren and Stimpy clone. This show has pushed the boundaries of mixing in adult humor and sexual innuendos in a kids' show that still works and is still enjoyable to watch 20 years later. But which ones were the best? Well, time for another Top 10 list of our favorite episodes of Rocko's Modern Life. Let's start with Kevin's favorite episodes.

In this episode, Heffer wishes to be in a game show so bad that he would do anything to be in it. Without knowing, he sells his soul to Peaches, one of the minions of the Devil. It's so hysterical seeing Heffer getting the answers to the simplest questions wrong and driving Peaches insane.

9. The Lounge Singer

In this episode, Filburt wishes to be a famous lounge singer, but is completely nervous performing on stage. He sees his singing idol Buddy Gecko on TV selling self-esteem tapes and uses them to boost his confidence. When he finally performs with Buddy, things started to get even more nerve racking. This is the episode where we first hear the now iconic song "Come Crawl With Me".An interesting fact about this is that Tom Kenny is Filburt's singing voice as oppose to Mr. Lawrence who actually voices the character.

8. Schnit-Heads

In this episode, Heffer joins a cult that eats nothing but sausage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. At first, he loves it, but as time goes on, he gets a little tired of sausage. Now Rocko and Filburt have to get him out of the cult or else he'll be stuck there forever.

In this episode, Rocko and Heffer think that Filburt is an alien after reading his diary. It talked about the High Five of Doom in which every time Filburt high fives someone, they disintegrate. Rocko and Heffer try their very best to get Filburt to admit his true identity.

6. Leapfrogs

In this episode, Mrs. Bighead feels unappreciated by Mr. Bighead of not getting enough attention and love. She decides to use Rocko by hiring him for odd jobs and trying to get Mr. Bighead jealous. This episode also shows that breaking plates with your tongue is sexy. It was shown only once on TV and was banned because of the message it was delivering. It's so funny and awesome!

5. Wacky Delly

In this episode, Ralph Bighead, the Bigheads' son, has finally released the last episode of his hit cartoon The Fatheads. Wishing to retire and make a huge art collage, he found out that he has to make a pilot for a new cartoon. Not wishing to, he hires Rocko, Filburt, and Heffer to make the pilot to get him out of his contract. They make the unusual and obscure show Wacky Delly and it becomes a huge hit. Ralph tries his very best to get the show cancelled, but in every attempt, the show becomes more popular. It's so funny the way it represents cartoons that they use to show at the time. Check it out.

4. Boob Tubed

In this episode, Rocko accidently buys a huge screen TV and invites Heffer and Filburt to watch it. Heffer watches so much TV that his brain was taking by the TV reducing him to a dumb steer. Rocko and Filburt enters into the television world to retrieve Heffer's brain before it's too late.

3. Love Spanked

In this episode, Rocko finds out that his longtime crush, Melba Toast, has a boyfriend. Heffer advises him to try dating other girls in other ways. From newspaper articles to blind dates to entering a dating game show, each date turns out to be a disaster and hilarious. Especially when he ends up dating Heffer in the dating game show.

2. Fortune Cookie

In this episode, Filburt gets an unlucky fortune from his fortune cookie and bad luck suddenly happens to him. The worst part about it is is that he's suppose to be in a game show the next day. Rocko and Heffer try their best to get Filburt's luck back, but it won't be easy when your fortune says this:

The original pilot of Rocko's Modern Life is my absolute favorite because of one character: Earl the Dog. This dog, who came out of a testing lab, is wild, crazy, and insane. In a time in which the garbage men are finally out of strike, Rocko needs to take out his trash before it's too late. It also has the infamous line "Garbage day is a very dangerous day." This episode is hilarious and made way for making his short a TV show.

That's my Top 10 episodes. Now, here's Patricia's.

10. Who's For Dinner?

In this episode, Heffer invites Rocko over to his parent's house for dinner. What Rocko doesn't realize is that Heffer's family are wolves. When Rocko brings up the discussion that he had no idea that Heffer was adopted, Heffer didn't know he was despite being a steer. Heffer runs away and tries to find his real family, but then learns that his real family are the people who love him. This is also one of creator Joe Murray's favorite episodes because it shows who Heffer really is. I love it too.

In this episode, Rocko's gas cap gets stolen and has to go to the DMV to file for it. What ends up happening is the DMV of hell. Waiting in a long, long line, trying to avoid "the fat guy", being in a driving class with a cat Nazi, and crashing into a deer is always fun to watch. This was one of my favorite episodes as a kid and it still holds up.

In this episode, Rocko wishes to send a movie to his parents in Australia to show them he's doing fine in O-Town. But when you put Heffer and Filburt in the mix, the simple home movie turns into an avant-garde underground hit among the citizens of O-Town.

7. Dear John

In this episode, Rocko's kitchen gets destroyed by a satellite dish and only has two days to repair it for a house party he's having. He hires a TV repair guy to help fix his kitchen, but it doesn't turns out what he wanted. My favorite part in this episode is when the state license contractor comes and looks at the destroyed kitchen. It's so stupidly funny that you can't help but laugh.

In this episode, Rocko accidently ruins the cement handprinting of Really Really Big Man and plants his butt in instead. A woman agent finds Rocko's tush to be perfect to be a male model for her line of underwear product called Wedgie Boy.

Rocko's Modern Life has had a few holiday specials for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween, but my favorite is their April Fool's Day special. Heffer constantly pulls off pranks to Rocko and Filburt that they get a little sick of his jokes. When Rocko finds out that his grandmother is coming over from Australia, Heffer picks her up and finds out that she's not very nice. The ending to this is so unexpected and funny!

This episode really took a message such as taking care of the environment and made it into a musical. It really works! It's informative, it's catchy, it's funny, and it's memorable. Truly one of the best episodes of Rocko's Modern Life ever and one of the few environmental animated skits that has held up very well and does not present itself as preachy or cheesy.

3. I Have No Son/Wacky Delly

I put in both of these episodes because they're one of the few episodes that connect with the whole show. It introduces us to Ralph Bighead, the son of Ed and Bev Bighead, a cartoonist who created a show based on his parents The Fatheads. With "I Have No Son", we learn about the relationship between Ralph and his parents. With "Wacky Delly", we see more of Ralph's crazy, psychotic personality. It's interesting to note that the voice of Ralph is creator Joe Murray himself.

In this episode, another of the few connected moments of the whole show is brought up fully in this two parter: the wedding of Filburt and Dr. Hutchinson. Each moment is so hilarious and at the same time could happen in a real wedding situation. There's the crazy mother-in-law, a possibility of an old flame, family arguements, the batchelor party, etc. Anything that goes insane does happen in this episode.

1. Love Spanked

Oh yeah! Although Kevin has this on his list too, I watch this episode more times than any other. It's so hilarious seeing Rocko with all those dates and all the situations of them, it never gets old. It also has one of my favorite quotes ever, "Why don't we trade math equations, baby?" Everything is so funny from beginning to end! That's why this is my #1 favorite episode!

What are your favorite episodes of Rocko's Modern Life? Post it in the comments and let us know. Hope we see you around Old School Lane soon.

-Patricia and Kevin

Monday, February 3, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera

As we've been seeing over the last few reviews, almost every single Nickelodeon show around the late 2000's had been very mediocre or absolutely terrible. With the exception of Avatar: The Last Airbender, no other new shows could live up to the new expectations of Nickelodeon shows. So they decided to debut a new show with a new style of animation that had became more popular over the years: flash animation. Flash animation was out since the 90's and was at the time mostly used for webseries. The very first one was done by The Ren & Stimpy Show creator John Kricfalusi with his Flash cartoon series The Goddamn George Liquor Program back in 1997.

As time went on, more webseries and eventually cartoons did Flash animation such as Happy Tree Friends, Whirlgirl, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, and Mucha Lucha. On March 3, 2007, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera debuted.

The show is about a young 13-year-old boy named Manny Rivera who lives in a crime infested city in Mexico called Miracle City with his family consisting of his mother Maria, his superhero father White Pantera, and his evil villain grandfather Puma Loco. Manny struggles with his decision of whether he wants to be a superhero or super villain since his father and grandfather tries to persuade him to choose. Until he decides, Manny dons the alterego of El Tigre and goes on various adventures alongside his best friend Frida Suarez. While Manny fights against many villains, he sometimes makes mistakes joining alongside them or does various pranks that lead him towards the path of being a villain mostly persuaded by Frida. At the end, Manny learns his lesson and tries to do things right.

The show was created by a married couple named Jorge Guiterrez and Sandra Equihua. Guiterrez had previously worked as a writer for shows such as Brandy and Mr. Whiskers and Maya and Miguel and a character designer on The Buzz on Maggie, ChalkZone, and Mucha Lucha! The inspiration of El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera was actually based on somewhat actual events of Guiterrez when looking back on his childhood in Mexico City as well as creating a Mexican superhero due to a lack on them in mainstream pop culture.

"My grandfather was a big military general and my father was an architect. When I was little, all my aunts and family friends would always say, "You're so much like your grandfather," or, "You're so much like your dad. What are you gonna be when you grow up? Are you gonna be an artist, or are you gonna be a general?" And that's where the dilemma of Manny being a superhero like his dad, or a supervillain like his grandfather, came from. And that's how I saw them, as a kid. I'd go to my dad's office, and he'd draw me whatever I asked him to draw, and it just seemed like he had superpowers. Same thing with my grandfather. I'd go visit him, and his office looked like a supervillain's lair, with all this crazy stuff in there. That's where all of that originated.
Manny's best friend is Frida, and she's based on Sandra, and Sandra's life. She's from a family of doctors, so her dad's a doctor, and her three sisters are all in medicine, and she was the black sheep of the family because she wanted to be an artist. And Frida, on the show, her whole family are police cadets, her dad's the chief of police, her mom's a judge, and she's this little troublemaker/rabble-rouser. And that's kind of the origin of the show", said Guiterrez in a 2008 interview with Animation World Network.
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera had positive reviews from many critics calling it one of the best animated shows of 2007 and had won various Emmy and Annie Awards for animation. Despite this, the show had ended in its run on January 25, 2008 after 26 episodes. The final episode had Manny finally decided his fate on whether to be a superhero or villain thanks to viewers voting on If Manny chose to be a hero, then he would defeat the villains. If Manny chose to be a villain, then he would have helped the villains conquer the world, but then betray them and rule the world by himself. In the end, the voters chose for Manny to be a hero. 
After the show's run ended, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera was quickly forgotten. It came as fast as it went and the show has faded into obscurity. Looking back on the show again, I found it to be okay. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It had a really interesting concept that sounded similar to Mucha Lucha that had a mixture of action and goofy humor, but had a superhero/super villain twist to it. I did enjoy Manny since he's a relatable character struggling between being a hero or villain by doing both good and bad deeds. Also Frida was a lot of fun with her troublemaking, enthusiastic attitude. She was sort of like a edgy Buena Girl from Mucha Lucha. Also, I appreciated that Manny had family issues to deal with that some kids can relate to. Not just the struggles of following one of his family member's footsteps, but the fact that his parents are divorced, but still stay together as a family and deal with their issues. 
However, El Tigre has a lot more flaws than positives. This show relies way too much on goofy humor that the action scenes aren't taking as seriously as it should have been. Also, the majority of the episodes are pretty forgettable. When watching El Tigre for the Nickelodeon tribute, I kept thinking to myself numerous times "Man, this moment should have been a serious one. It had a lot of promise". "Why am I watching this when I could be watching Avatar: The Last Airbender? It has a much better balance of humor and action than El Tigre". While it seems to be a bit unfair, but when you debut a groundbreaking show such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera seems a bit lackluster in comparison. The characters and situations are so basic that when it tries to be serious, it doesn't hold a lot of weight or emotions. But the one thing that I have to call bullshit on is the final episode. Throughout the entire series, Manny is struggling with his decision with whether he wants to follow in his father's or grandfather's path. Unfortunately, in a way, Manny didn't choose it, the viewers did. I understand that this wasn't the first show that did this. In 2001, SpongeBob SquarePants had an episode named 'Shanghaied' where the viewers voted on the ending of the episode. But there's a difference though. 'Shanghaied' wasn't the final episode of SpongeBob and the episode had no plot to the main story of the show. 
Titlecard Shanghaied.jpg
How would you like it if the viewers voted on whether Aang and the gang won or lost the war against the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai in the last episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the decision of the ending was determined by the numbers instead of the actual story itself? That would suck, right? Well, that's exactly how I feel about El Tigre's ending. Was Nickelodeon so desperate for ratings to do this? If so, that is beyond stupid! Just knowing this fact kinda ruined the show slightly for me. Besides these huge flaws, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera is a decent show. Check it out if you want, but I would recommend Avatar: The Last Airbender a lot more. 
That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.