Thursday, December 25, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Christmas in Tattertown

This was a review that's way overdue. 2 years ago on my top 12 Nickelodeon Christmas specials, I had mentioned that I was going to be doing a review of Christmas in Tattertown. Now that today's Christmas, it's time to finally take this special on. Back in the late 80's, Nickelodeon was out of its slump of bankruptcy and was gaining its reputation of being the #1 kids' show mostly thanks to You Can't Do That on Television and Double Dare. However, they weren't known for animation at that point since they still acquired their animated shows such as Danger Mouse, Spartacus and the Sun Beneath the Sea, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and Count Duckula. However, back in 1988, Nickelodeon became interested in creating their own animation. Then came animator Ralph Bakshi making an animated Christmas special titled Christmas in Tattertown as a pilot for an animated series called The Tattertown Tales making it Nickelodeon's first foray of animation. But nowadays, Bakshi owns the rights to Christmas in Tattertown, so Nickelodeon decided to create Nickelodeon's Thanksgiving Fest a year later and called that their first foray into animation. I did a review of that special a few years ago. If you haven't read it yet, click here.

Ralph Bakshi. There's a huge debate on his style of animation and his way of storytelling with his said animation. Some people love and respect his work, while others can't stand it and see it as a huge mindfuck of madness. Despite that, next to Don Bluth, he was one of the biggest innovators of animation during a time in which animation was at its lowest point with creating low budget 30 minute cartoons based on toys, action figures, celebrities, and movies. Marzgurl from Channel Awesome is doing a Ralph Bakshi tribute, so check it out if you're interested.

With that said, how well does Christmas in Tattertown hold up? Let's take a look and find out.

The episode starts with a little girl named Debbie and her two dolls named Dog and Little Miss Muffet. One day, she stumbles upon a mysterious book that sucks her and the dolls into Tattertown, a town that consists of broken and abandoned toys. When Little Miss Muffet discovers that she can move, talk, and feel emotions, she decides to run away from Debbie since she's sick of the constant hugs and changing clothes that she used to get in the real world. Debbie and Dog meet up with a toy named Harvey who breaks his arm while trying to fight a bodyguard. While she fixes his arm, Debbie wonders about what the toys do around Christmas time. Harvey has never heard of Christmas and Debbie was shocked about it since they were toys and they should at least know about it a little. She then explains what Christmas is about briefly while trying to find Muffet.

Meanwhile, Muffet makes it into a warehouse where a bunch of toys are fighting one another. Muffet yells at them stopping them in their tracks stating that he was going to take over Tattertown and the toys that lived there. The current leader of Tattertown, a spider named Sidney, was impressed with Muffet's attitude and brings him over to his lair where his henchmen reside. He calls them a hunk of junk, but sees that he has no other alternatives.

Harvey takes Debbie and Dog to a comic book store where a Jewish evergreen tree called Tannenbaum sells his comics. Debbie sees that he's the perfect tree to use for Christmas and convinces him to do it when she states that there's no competition. A fly, which is Muffet's new henchmen, finds out that Debbie is planning Christmas in Tattertown and let's her know. Muffet is upset about it so she sends two of Sidney' henchmen and find out how Debbie is planning Christmas. They fail at their mission due to one of the henchmen being an happy, optimistic toy who glows when he saw Tannenbaum decorated with an old Christmas reef. They end up with as glowing ornaments for the tree and sent a postcard to Muffet. Muffet becomes even more furious and plans to fool the citizens of Tattertown by disguising herself as Santa and Sidney as a reindeer. Debbie continues to explain what Christmas is all about while Muffet, Sidney, and a fleet of airplanes fly into Tattertown.

While flying in, they bump into Santa Claus and his reindeer. Muffet decides to change plans to take down Santa, but the planes get confused on the plans and end up crashing each other. Santa then leaves and Muffet and Sidney decides to take matters into their own hands. Harvey is excited about the planes crashing into one another, but Debbie ends up disappointed. She then tries one more time to bring the Christmas spirit by playing "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby in a record player. Sidney starts crying and they fall down. The episode concludes with Muffet collecting Christmas presents in jail.

Overall, all I have to say is one question: "What the hell did I just watch?" I mean, the plot was inconsistent and all over the place. It starts with Debbie landing in Tattertown for the supposed first time, but the other toys knew who she was and she wasn't too freaked out about the toys coming to life. Has she been there before? If not, how do the other toys know her name? Also, it seems that Muffet has little to no motivation on what she wants to do. First, she wants to get away from Debbie. Then, she wants to take over Tattertown. Then, she wants to destroy Christmas. What issues did Muffet have with Debbie? What was her backstory? Why did she want to take over Tattertown? What would she gain from taking it over? Why does she want to destroy Christmas? Why does she want to kill Santa? None of this is ever explained and if it was, it was super vague or completely forgotten and pushed aside. Also, it seems the lesson of explaining of what Christmas is so confusing. Harvey claims that none of the other toys know what Christmas is, but at the same time, there's an old Christmas reef, an evergreen tree, a record of "White Christmas", and Santa. Plus, you cannot be serious that not one toy from Tattertown was opened around Christmas time or knew any other toys that was opened around Christmas before they were broken. Plus, Debbie's teaching of Christmas is so poorly taught and has no significance to the plot. It could've taken place in any other holiday and it wouldn't have mattered. "Christmas Who?", you are not.

The animation is erratic and random, but at least it was somewhat creative. It looks average by today's standards, but compared to animation in the 80's, it's of decent quality. The only highlight of the special was Keith David as Miles the saxaphone, but even then he had no purpose other than just narrating because I still didn't know what was going on. In conclusion, it's bizarre, disjointed, insane, and an overall sloppy execution with very little charm. If you're a hard core Nickelodeon fan or if you're a Ralph Bakshi fan,  I would check it out to see Nickelodeon's first attempt of animation before the original Nicktoons that would debut in the 90's. All the others should skip it.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 38: Interview with Janet Varney

In this special episode of Casual Chats, Patricia celebrates the holidays with interviewing JV Club Podcast host, Rifftrax movie riffer, SF Sketchfest co-founder, and the voice of Avatar Korra from Legend of Korra Janet Varney. They discuss about acting, being involved in Dinner & A Movie, Neil's Puppet Dreams, The Legend of Korra, and play a game of m.a.s.h.

Check out Janet's links below

Check out the JV Club podcast and its links below

Check out SF Sketchfest's links below

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nick Jukebox Episode 13: It's All That and a Bag of Chips

Nick Jukebox is back and just in time for the holidays! In this episode, we celebrate All That's 20th anniversary showcasing some of the songs that were featured from all 10 seasons. Expect to hear songs from Zhane, IMx, and LFO.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 37: All That

In this episode of Casual Chats, Patricia and new guests Manic Expression member Eli "The Hero of Tomorrow" Stone, For Entertainment Sake co-founder John "Rugrat" Matthew, and recurring guest Tristen Chance discuss on the 1994 Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That in honor of its 20th anniversary discussing about the skits, cast members, the Good Burger movie, and the controversial revival era.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 36: Interview with Derek "Happy Video Game Nerd" Alexander

Time to celebrate the season of giving thanks with Patricia interviewing obscure retro video game reviewer, Starship Amazing co-founder and music composer, Stop Skeletons podcast co-host, and Space Money Octagon video game streamer Derek "Happy Video Game Nerd" Alexander. They discuss about music, video games, skits, and more.

Check out Derek's links down below and subscribe.

Check out Starship Amazing's links down below

Check out Space Money Octagon's links down below

Check out the Stop Skeletons link below

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Movie Review: Hotel For Dogs

The year was 2009. Up, Avatar, The Blind Side, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs debuted in theaters. Castle, Glee, The Middle, and Archer featured on TV. While Nickelodeon Movies has made sub par movies, they've always been somewhat successful at the box office. The next movie that would be made was Hotel for Dogs. Based on the 1971 book of the same name, Hotel for Dogs, it's about a young girl named Liz who finds a stray dog and her puppies, which she names Sadie, and hides it in an abandoned house since her great-aunt is allergic to animals and her mother refuses to let her keep them. The movie was the second to be produced by Dreamworks Pictures after A Series of Unfortunate Events, but the first to not be produced by Paramount. When I first saw the trailer, I immediately discarded as a stupid kids' movie and never saw it in the theaters.

Then I learned that the script was written by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle, who are mostly known for creating shows or written scripts for Disney movies such as Kim Possible, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Sky High, and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. When learning about this, I became slightly interested in checking it out since I like their work. I like to call them the Disney equivalent of Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi working together with various projects. Is the movie like a cuddly puppy or a turd in the lawn? Let's find out in Hotel for Dogs.

Hotel for dogs.jpg

The movie starts with two kids named Andi (played by Emma Roberts) and Bruce (played by Jake T. Austin), two orphan siblings who decide to scam a pawn shop by putting a rock inside a sealed cell phone box to sell for cash. They eventually got caught by the police and were released thanks to their social worker Bernie (played by Don Cheadle) who took them home to their foster parents Carl and Lois (played by Kevin Dillon and Lisa Kudrow respectively). Carl and Lois are uncaring foster parents who concentrate on their failing rock career and less on the kids. While Bernie knew of Carl and Lois' inept nature, he tells Andi and Bruce that if they didn't straighten up their act, they would be separated and put into different homes. When Bernie leaves them at their room, their dog Friday appears at the fire escape after hiding in site from Carl and Lois. Apparently, Carl and Lois doesn't know about Friday and the kids have kept him a secret fearing that they would be told to sent the dog to the pound. Andi tells Bruce that they have to stick together and not cause any more problems or else they would be placed in different families separately.

The next day, Friday wandered outside while Andi and Bruce were sleeping to look for food. However, he was caught by Animal Control. Andi and Bruce realize that Friday was missing due to not being back sooner from being out and decide to look for him. They first go into the pet shop to see if he was brought there. Andi meets up with the pet shop employee Dave (played by Johnny Simmons) and asks him if he's seen Friday. Dave said no, but he's begins slightly stuttering while talking to her. The other worker Heather (played by Kyla Pratt) interrupting the conversation suggesting to check the dog pound. When reaching the dog pound, they found him being put in a cage by a dog catcher and tried to release him. At first, the front desk guy acted rude with them and said that if they would get their parents to come to the dog pound to sign papers, they'll let Friday go. Andi decides to pay the front desk guy and they released Friday. Andi tells Bruce that they had to find Friday a good home or it'll cause them more trouble while walking home. They see a group of thieves running from an large abandoned hotel. The police sees Andi and Bruce and chased them thinking they were the thieves. They ran and hid at the abandoned hotel while the police continued to search for them. While they hid, they saw a shadow and hear noises coming from the hotel. It turned out to coming from a small Boston Terrier and a English Mastiff. Friday ran towards them with Andi and Bruce trying to catch up to them. They then saw how happy Friday was with the other dogs, so they decided to let Friday stay the night until they could think of a plan.

The next morning, one of the dogs began to howl loudly due to the window shade closed and Andi and Bruce kept them quiet so that no one could go into the hotel. With that, Andi decides to buy dog food for them while Bruce keeps them company. While Andi buys the food, she meets up with Dave again and they did some small talk on dogs. Andi lies to him saying that her family has a large house with numerous dogs that they adopt and raise and Dave brings her into the back of the shop and begs her to adopt three more dogs. She hesitates at first, but she accepts them. Andi and Dave drive back to the hotel where Bruce is inventing a fetch machine for the Boston Terrier he named Georgia. Dave thinks it's a cool idea, but that it needs some work. They then hear Heather coming inside with more dog food saying that she wants to help out.  As time went on, another kid named Mark (played by Troy Gentile) has been knowing what Andi, Bruce, Dave, and Heather has been doing at the hotel and offers to assist them. Together, they decide to raise the dogs, pick up more strays, invent new ways to take care of them, and renovate the abandoned hotel.

Bernie visits Andi and Bruce and tells them that there's a couple who live in another city who is willing to adopt them. However, due to not wanting to abandon the dogs, the hotel, or their friends, they refuse the offer. One day while taking care of the dogs, Dave asks Andi out on a date to a party, Mark tries to mingle with Heather, and Bruce is interrogated by Lois and Carl after stealing the hairdryer without consent. Bruce runs away towards the hotel and they call the police while Andi is meeting up with an old friend and accidentally reveals to Dave that she's an orphan. Andi runs off back to the hotel while the cops suddenly surround the place. They're both arrested and sent to jail while the dogs are captured. Bernie tries to convince Lois and Carl to take them back, but they reject the idea. With no other choice, Bernie separated Andi and Bruce and they both get taken in by different foster parents. While they were taking away, Bernie notices that all but one dog was taking. Bernie then realizes what the kids were doing at the hotel and why they wanted to stay as oppose to going to another more loving foster family.

Eventually Friday escapes from his pen and rushes towards Dave, Heather, and Mark, who then eventually find Andi and Bruce. They then release all the dogs from the pound and bring them towards the hotel while they were being chased by the dog catchers and cops. When they reach inside, Bernie and a large crowd of people greet them introducing each dog by name and trait saying that they deserve to be adopted and not locked up. The crowd cheers and the dog catchers give up their chase. Bernie states to Andi and Bruce on how proud he is of them and their hard work. He then tells them that he and his wife wants to adopt them into their family. The movie concludes with the hotel officially open for dogs and Andi and Bruce happy with their new lives.

The movie had a decent run at the box office and received mixed reviews from the critics and viewers. Overall, it's a cute movie with dull, uninteresting characters, a simple, predictable, and contrived story line, and a forgettable experience that can entertain little kids and not the adults who watch alongside them. First, the characters. While each of them acted competent, they were either stereotypical, acted like jerky assholes for no reason, or absolutely pointless. There was nothing interesting about the main characters since they have little to no development, Lois, Carl, and the dog catchers acted mean for the sake of just being the bad guys, and Dave, Heather, and Mark were unnecessary except for the plot calling for them to show up. Seriously, you could've cut them from the movie and little to nothing would have changed. Hell, even the love plot between Andi and Dave wasn't needed at all. The plot, while very basic, had a lot of unanswered questions that needed to be explained. How did Andi and Bruce's parents die? Why couldn't Andi and Bruce keep Friday at Lois and Carl's place? How did Bruce learn to invent? How is it that an abandoned hotel still has running water and electricity? How come the water or electric company didn't suspect the large amount that was being used at the hotel? Why they didn't investigate sooner? It just felt way too convenient. I was just completely bored watching the movie knowing the plot twists and situations coming a mile away as well as disappointed knowing that Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley had done better work, especially Kim Possible.

It seemed like Hotel for Dogs was Nickelodeon Movies' answer to Marley and Me since it came out three weeks afterwards. I recommend seeing the latter since it's more funnier with better characters, a better plot, and a bittersweet ending. As for Hotel for Dogs, unless you're very young or love dog movies, this one I would recommend skipping.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we take a look at the first adaptation of a Dreamworks movie into TV with Penguins of Madagascar.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.