Monday, March 31, 2014

Manic Expression Digression Session Episode 44: Put Another Nickel In

In this episode of Manic Expression Digression Session, Manic Expression members Kevin, BigBlackHatMan, TheOtherDude92, Kyle, Ryan, Jim Bevan, That Long-Haired Creepy Guy, Smiffy, and Patricia talk about Nickelodeon in honor of its 35th anniversary.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Back at the Barnyard

To conclude 2007, the next show to review is the 2nd adaptation based on a Nickelodeon movie. The first one was The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The second one was Barnyard. As you recall from our Barnyard review, the movie made over $116 million dollars in the box office despite the negative reviews from both the critics and the viewers. But as this point, Nickelodeon saw a profit in this and decided to get Steve Oedekerk to give us Back at the Barnyard which debuted on September 29, 2007.


The show takes place after the movie in which Otis (voiced by Chris Hardwick) goofs around and has crazy adventures with his friends while he's supposed to watch over the farm from danger. Most of the animals from Barnyard appear in the show such as the mouse Pip, the dog Duke, the pig Pig, the rooster Peck, the weasel Freddie, and the cow Bessie. Most of the humans from the movie come back as well such as the farmer, Mr. and Mrs. Beady, and Snotty Boy. However, a new female cow appears in the show who replaced Daisy from the movie. Abby is a tomboy who loves adventure and has a little crush on Otis. The main plot of the show involves with wacky adventures involving the barn animals such as Otis and Pip saving the world as Cowman and Ratboy, the animals trying to find a wife for the farmer, competing in a Olympics-like event at the barn, and mostly pulling pranks on Mrs. Beady while she tries to tell everyone that the animals talk with no one believing her.

The show lasted for 2 seasons ending its run on November 12, 2011. The show went through a hiatus to prepare for a spinoff of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Then eventually, they released the last episodes of the show with little to no advertisement. Despite this being an adaptation from the movie, you don't have to see the movie to watch the show. Even when watching the show, it focuses on a lot of pop culture references and parodies popular movies and TV shows. While I will say that Back at the Barnyard is a lot better than the movie, that's not really saying a lot considering on how awful the movie was. Many cartoons do this style of humor as well, but there are some that use this as to entertain the older viewers while having clever jokes, memorable characters, or fun songs for the younger kids such as Looney Tunes. Back at the Barnyard's isn't very clever or funny with it. It's pretty mediocre. Besides the lackluster jokes, there are major flaws with the show. The one thing I cannot forgive is removing Daisy from the show. While Daisy wasn't an interesting character in the slightest, she was important to the plot of the movie. She was Otis' love interest who helped him when Otis had doubts of running the farm after his dad was killed by the coyotes. Instead, the series gave us Abby, who is not that interesting as a character. Plus, Daisy had a son whom Otis swore to protect while making a promise to the barn to watch over it. It seemed that the writers wanted to retcon Daisy so that Otis would be more freerer to goof around and have wacky adventures with his friends, which means that he's acting the same way as he did in the movie. 

I'm sorry, but this is a glaring issue. Otis' father Ben died protecting the farm and Otis had a change of heart learning that he can't act immature anymore. He has a job to being a leader of the barn protecting the other animals from harm. So basically, according to the way Otis acts in Back at the Barnyard, Ben pretty much died in vain. His death is never even mentioned in the show at all. That's very stupid on the writers' part. They should be ashamed of themselves for forgetting the only things that made the movie good. 

Another glaring issue in this show is that there's no sense of danger whatsoever. As previously mentioned, the main antagonists in the movie were a group of coyotes that stole chicks for food. While they were defeated at the end, they never came back in the TV series. King Goobot and Ooblar from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius came back in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius a few times over, so why not the coyotes? In fact, there are no villains in the series at all. No evil creatures stealing farm animals, no humans trying the threaten the farm, absolutely nothing comes and give conflict to the show. While you can say that Mrs. Beady would since she would give the secrets of the animals talking, that's pretty weak. The show relies too much on humor. Now if the humor was good, I can overlook that. But as I just stated earlier, it's not.

The only saving grace for me when watching this show was Chris Hardwick's portrayal of Otis. Kevin James' portrayal of Otis in the movie was incredibly bland and forgettable. Otis in the TV show had some funny lines from time to time and kept me slightly entertained. But then again, this is Chris Hardwick we're talking about. Anything from him is always going to be funny. Other than that, this show shouldn't have been made. As an adaptation from Barnyard, it pretty much retcons the characters and plot from the movie that made it decent and kept in everything that made it unfunny and uninteresting. As a standalone show, it's very boring and mediocre with bland characters and jokes that fall flat on their face more than make you laugh. I don't recommend checking it out.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we go into the year 2008 with a movie review of The Spiderwick Chronicles. 

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


Friday, March 21, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: iCarly

Dan Schneider. I have a love/hate relationship with this man, especially the latter. He was a pivotal role on why All That and Kenan & Kel became the most successful Nickelodeon live action shows in the 90's that is still fondly remembered to this day. After that, his career for Nickelodeon ended up being hit and misses when he started creating his own shows. The Amanda Show, being the last show to debut in the 90's, had varied skits that had both good and bad skits that was done well due to the talents of Amanda Bynes, Drake Bell, Josh Peck, and the rest of the cast members. Drake & Josh, being my favorite show that Schneider ever created, has a lot of major problems with the characters acting stupid, mean spirited, and annoying. However, it's still a great show due to the clever writing, witty and sarcastic jokes, and memorable characters. But then, he took a huge step backward with Zoey 101 with stupid, shallow, and annoying characters that were horribly miscast, the jokes falling flat on its face, and each episode being forgettable or atrocious. However, Zoey 101 would not only be the most expensive Nickelodeon show at the time, but it became the most successful live action show for the next 5 years.

Nickelodeon then allowed Schneider be the head man behind more live action series with people who had previously created programs for the network such as Thomas W. Lynch and Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi make shows for another channel called The N with most of them being forgotten by viewers. With that said, Schneider created another live action show that was a unofficial spinoff from Drake & Josh in the form of iCarly that debuted on September 8, 2007.

Icarly logo.svg

Before I get to the review, I need to discuss about the core of the concept that the show is about: the Internet. A year prior to the show's release, James Rolfe created an online series of videos called the Angry Video Game Nerd where he would review bad video games from his childhood. A simple idea that he did as a joke turned into one of the biggest phenomenons in history. At that point, everyone copied the idea of reviewing bad video games. Some were good such as Jontron and PeanutButterGamer. Others were horrible such as Irate Gamer. Then, the simple idea became a lot more complex with using the Internet to become famous such as movie reviews like The Nostalgia Critic, podcasts such as The Nerdist, animating cartoons such as Kirbopher and Egoraptor, Let's Play channels such as Game Grumps and Two Best Friends Play, writing and singing their own songs on YouTube such as Brentalfloss and Epic Rap Battles of History, and doing skits such as Man Boobs Comedy. If people wanted to jump start a career in writing, animation, acting, or singing, it was no longer required to move to Hollywood and hope for the best, nowadays it's all about going online and getting your name out there.

iCarly is about a young teenage girl named Carly Shay (played by Miranda Kosgrove) and her best friend Sam Puckett (played by Jennette McCurdy) who acted in a talent show at their school. Carly's friend and neighbor Freddie Benson (played by Nathan Kress) filmed their performance at the talent show and posted it online without their consent. All of a sudden, over 70,000 people saw and loved their chemistry together and it became a viral hit. With that, Carly, Sam, and Freddie create the website iCarly with Carly and Sam hosting the show and doing various skits and Freddie filming and producing them. Carly lives a somewhat normal life with her older brother Spencer after their dad was stationed in a submarine by the Air Force. She goes to school, deals with issues at school and life, and hangs out with her friends.

Originally, the show was called Starstruck with the plot involving a teenage girl getting her own TV show. But then, his friend Steve Molaro who is a writer and executive producer of The Big Bang Theory, gave them the idea of having the show online instead so that they can be more freer to do whatever skits they want. According to a fan Q&A on Dan Schneider's Blogger site back in 2012, the idea of iCarly went through many changes after it became the final product that we know today.

"I came up with the name iCarly while filming on the set of Zoey 101.  My friend Steve Molaro (now executive producer of The Big Bang Theory) was working with me, and we were trying to think of a good title for my new series about kids who start their own web show. At that point, in my pilot script, the lead girl's name was "Sam" and we tried to get the URL iSam, but it was taken.  So, I tried a bunch of other girls' names.  I actually bought iJosie (dot com), thinking I might name the lead character Josie, but then I decided I didn't like it.

Then I tried iCarly, and I got it.  I loved that name for the lead character, so I changed the names of the two lead girls from Sam and Kira to Carly and Sam.  (I still have my original script where it's Sam, Kira, and Freddie.) So, back in 2007, if someone hadn't already owned the URL, then iCarly would likely have been called iSam."

Throughout the series, iCarly has had numerous celebrity guests on board including Internet celebrity Fred Figglehorn, the cast of Victorious, and even First Lady Michelle Obama. iCarly became a huge success for Nickelodeon generating millions of views and becoming the #1 live action show for a number of years. iCarly would even feature in marathons alongside with SpongeBob SquarePants. Despite this, the show had generate mixed reviews from critics and viewers. The show lasted for 7 seasons ending its run on November 23, 2012. The last episode "iGoodbye" had generated over 6 million viewers having Carly heading to Italy see her father to invite him to the Father-Daughter Air Force Dance. It ends with Carly moving with her father to spend more time with him and announcing that iCarly will be going on a hiatus until she returns home. 

Overall, I love the concept of this show. It was appropriate at the time and is still relevant to this day with the Internet becoming more viewed than television. However, that doesn't mean I love the show. In fact, I absolutely hate it! It has the same flaws as Zoey 101 and every single Dan Schneider program. First, the characters are really annoying and unlikable. They are very shallow minded, stupid, and very ignorant towards people that are not as popular or as cool as them. Although it's not as bad as the characters from Zoey 101, it's still pretty unrealistic for kids and teens to relate to. Also, the episodes are at times forgettable and frustrating. Most of the plots from the episodes are copied and rehashed, most of the problems end positively too quickly and too convenient like a sitcom from the 80's and 90's, and the acting is all over the place. The actors and actress are a step up from Zoey 101, however it's weighed down crucially by awful writing and terrible directing.

This is a show that I really want to see remade, but done right. It should have involved with Carly wanting to be an Internet celebrity, but showing the struggles of being one. In the first episode, Carly and Sam are already famous literally overnight and that's NOT how it works. It takes hard work, dedication, passion, and perseverance to become well known online. In iCarly, they're famous without even trying, which is very irritating for someone who puts in a lot of work such as a video review, blog, or podcast, and having little to no recognition. Old School Lane has been around for over 2 years and we are not even close to being famous or popular. iCarly would have been better if it would have been like Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide in which they would give tips and tricks on how to be famous online and how to deal with competition with other websites. Or maybe it would have been more original with its concept. Instead, it feels like a Dan Schneider show. At this point, if your name is not Schneider, then live action Nickelodeon shows pretty much don't go anywhere. They're very mediocre, bland, horrible, and are short lived. Later on in the tribute, we'll be tackling other live action shows done by other people and they'll progressively get worse and worse.

iCarly is a show that has a great concept that was ahead of its time, but its execution was very poor. I really don't recommend checking it out.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we conclude 2007 with Back at the Barnyard.

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


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nick Jukebox Episode 9: Spring into Instrumental Action

Nick Jukebox is back just in time for the first day of Spring. In this episode, it's all instrumental music. Expect music from Danger Mouse, House of Anubis, and Legend of Korra.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Old School Lane Presents: Turtle Talk Episode 8

After a 3 month hiatus, Patricia and Kevin are back catching up with discussing about the episodes of TMNT 2012, the 2014 live action TMNT movie, and the toys that featured in the New York Toy Fair 2014.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Tak and the Power of Juju with Mediaman

In our last review, we tackled in Wayside, a cartoon based on a popular children's book series that had little to do with the original source material and was mediocre for the casual crowd. This time around, we're reviewing a cartoon based on a video game series. Movies based on video games are very hit and miss. Cartoons based on video games are even worse. With the exception of Earthworm Jim, Sonic SatAM, Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego, and Pokemon, most of them don't adapt well with them having awful animation, atrocious writing, and butchering from the original source material. In the end, they are heavily disappointing for fans of the video games and unwatchable for the casual viewers, especially if they are cartoons based on crappy video games such as the Bubsy pilot. Today, we're reviewing Tak and the Power of Juju. Joining me is a Manic Expression member who is very knowledgeable on the Tak series Mediaman. Thank you so much for joining me in this review.

Mediaman: You're very welcome, Patricia. I'm glad to be here.

Patricia: The game revolves around a young shaman's apprentice named Tak (voiced by Jason Marsden) who is tasked to find magical plants to change a warrior named Lok (played by Patrick Warburton) back to normal after being transformed into a sheep by an evil shaman named Tlaloc. The game consist of platforming, solving puzzles, and obtaining Juju powers. I remember playing this game over 10 years ago when my cousin was having trouble with one of the levels. I found it to be pretty mediocre. The controls felt a bit floaty, the levels were pretty generic, the jokes fell flat at times, and the story wasn't anything special. It felt like a huge downgrade to other popular 3D platformers that came out during that time such as Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Sly Cooper and the Thievus Raccoonus, and Ratchet and Clank despite the developers claiming it had gotten influences from those games. There were 4 sequels to the game, each ending up having mixed reviews.

Mediaman: It's true the game did suffer from its share of problems, primarily the controls and level design, but what made me keep playing until the end was the decent gameplay and enjoyable characters. The sequal, Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams, was a vast improvement on many of the previous games' problems. It was definitely a game I don't regret purchasing. The third game, The Great Juju Challenge, made up for its difficulty by having a solid story and brilliant chemistry between Jason Marsden and Patrick Warburton. And even though I haven't finished the fourth (Tak and the Guardians of Gross), it still had solid gameplay (say what you will, gameplay was never an issue, in my opinion). All in all, I enjoyed these games and consider them to be worthy titles among the other Nick games.

File:Tak and the Power of Juju Coverart.png

Patricia: With The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius ending its run a year prior, Nickelodeon decided to do their first animated CGI series in house with Tak and the Power of Juju debuting on August 31, 2007.

Tak and Power Of Juju - Logo.PNG

The show focuses on Tak (voiced by Hal Sparks) practicing the powers of the Juju and serving as the link between the human realm and the Juju realm after saving them from the Darkness Juju. He mostly hangs around with his best friend Jeera (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) , the chief's youngest daughter, Linda the Sheep, and a laidback guy named Keeko (played by John DiMaggio). Various dangerous situations occur in the village in almost every episode and the warrior Lok (reprised by Patrick Warburton) has to save them. However, his incompetence makes things worse and it's up to Tak and the Jujus to help them out.

Just like Salute Your Shorts, Animorphs, and Wayside being completely different from their original source materieal, there were also huge differences between the Tak video games and the TV series. One of the major differences from the games to the TV series was the names of the Jujus. The TV series had a Juju called the Party Juju, but in the games, they were called the Dead Juju. However, they were both voiced by Rob Paulsen. In the TV series, there was a Juju named the Psychic Juju while in the games, they were called the Mind-Reader Juju. Instead of Rob Paulsen, it was voiced by S. Scott Bullock. 

Another difference was the voice actors. Almost every voice actor, with the exception of Patrick Warburton as Lok and Rob Paulsen as the Party Juju, were completely replaced from the video games to the TV show. But they would use these actors later on in Tak and the Guardians of GrossThe final difference is removing some characters from the games when brought into the show. Tlaloc's minions Pins and Needles and a few of the Jujus don't appear in the show.

So, before you even watch the show, you'll notice the flaws in it. First, Jason Marsden didn't reprise his role as Tak. I never understood that. Did Jason simply get tired of playing the character, or did the producers just forget about him? Either way, it should've tipped us off that this cartoon was going to be a stinker.

And that, by far, is what sealed the deal for me. Not only did they promptly forget about some of my favorite Jujus, but they also changed Tlaloc from an evil sorcerer to a show-boating con man. Man, what were they thinking?

Patricia- The show struggled when it debuted due to not gaining a wide audience to see it and the harsh, negative reviews that critics and viewers gave it. Eventually, the show was cancelled on November 29, 2008. If you remember from video game history, 2007 is considered to be one of the greatest years of video games ever. That year brought us such beloved games such as Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, God of War II, Guitar Hero 2, Bioshock, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. With Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, the third game in the series, coming out back in 2005 and not having a new game in the series until 2008 with Tak and the Guardians of Gross, the series were forgotten rather quickly with other better platformers and other fantastic games that debuted around the same time as the TV series.
Due to the major changes from the games to the show, it irritated fans of the games when watching the TV series. 

As a standalone show, it's one of the worst Nicktoons that ever debuted. It's incredibly boring with outdated animation, bland characters, and forgettable episodes. When watching episodes of Tak and the Power of Juju, I immediately forgotten everything that I saw minutes after seeing them. There's nothing about this show that draws me back into it. I didn't care about the games and I cared even less about the TV series. For fans of the series or in video games, you'll be very disappointed in this adaptation. As for a casual audience, you're better off watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Mediaman: Indeed. Watch Avatar, watch Spongebob, watch anything but this crudfest. In fact, you could try finding a copy of the game yourself (at your local dollar store or bargin bin or whatever they call it) and decide whether or not it's good.

Patricia: That concludes our review of Tak and the Power of Juju. Mediaman, thanks again for this crossover review. Your knowledge was very helpful and appreciated. 

Mediaman: You're very welcome, Patricia. I'm glad to help out with your blogging. Now, I must return to my own works. So long!   

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

-Patricia and Mediaman

Friday, March 7, 2014

Manic Expression Plays Cards Against Humanity -- Episode 3

Cards Against Humanity is crazy enough. Having it with the members of the greatest community on the web is even crazier. Episode 3 has Manic Expression members pbmiranda, Brekclub85, Decker Shado, Gurning Chimp, ThatLongedHairedCreepyGuy, Kevin G., and Jim Bevan play the popular card game with no limitations. Warning: constant swearing and various inappropriate jokes are featured. Viewer discretion is advised.