Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sweeney Todd

I saw Sweeney Todd on opening day because, as I often said to those around me, "On my honor as a musicals fan, I have to see it." But I'm going to level with you, Sweeney Todd is not my favorite musical, and not even close to my favorite Sondheim show (that spot goes to Anyone Can Whistle, with Follies very, very, very close behind), so I might have had a better time (or, conversely, a worse time) if I liked it more. But still, I was never bored, so there you go. I was really seeing it just so I could see for myself how bad Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter would be. Really, I didn't have much hope for the movie until I heard Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall were cast in it. And they were both good; even Depp was all right, but Bonham Carter was just as bad as I thought she would be, although I didn't really notice until she was outsung by the kid playing Toby in "Not While I'm Around."

I'm not really going to review the movie, but I just want to say that I thought By the Sea was hilarious, even if I can't stop being bugged by something a review pointed out about it. The real reason I'm even posting is so that I can link to If Mr. T were Sweeney Todd. And that's all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a good time with your families (as I am with mine, hence the quick post).

Sorry that I haven't been posting very much, but my laptop's fan is kaput, so I can't stay on for very long. And because of the holidays, the new fan I ordered hasn't arrived yet. So once I get it installed, I'll be able to post a few things I've been planning.

And in case you're wondering, the image is from the series Fushiboshi no Futago Hime (aka Twin Princesses of the Mysterious Star).

Monday, December 17, 2007

A little bit about MLB and MB

It all started the other day because I was thinking about Mark Linn-Baker, and how I consider myself a fan of his (he's on my list of people I think are awesome, but need to do more things, like Lonny Price), but I've never seen a single episode of Perfect Strangers. No, I like him because of My Favorite Year, Noises Off!, A Year with Frog and Toad, and (or so I thought) Raggedy Ann and Andy: a Musical Adventure.
Now, I may not post about it a lot here (yet), but I'm a big Broadway buff. So, generally, when I wish someone did more things, I actually mean more musicals. More singing. Sadly for me, Mark Linn-Baker has done very few musicals (his debut was Doonesbury the Musical back in 1983. It didn't do well, but I have the cast album LP and I like it *shrug*), so I cling to what I actually have (again, same with Lonny Price). That's why I started thinking about Raggedy Ann and Andy: a Musical Adventure again.
The movie came out in the late 1970's, but the Disney Channel used to play it all the time when I was a kid. I rarely watched it all the way through (once the characters got to Looney Land, I would lose interest), but I generally liked it. So I remember it fondly every now and then, especially the songs. Not too long after I was recently thinking about it, I was going through the archives on Jim Hill Media and found an article about the 30th anniversary of the film's opening that included links to pieces of the film on youtube. Seeing these scenes again got me interested in the film again, so I did some searching and found, among other things, that it was not Mark Linn-Baker who was Andy, as I'd thought for years, but a different actor named Mark Baker. In fact, that Mark Baker was why Mark Linn-Baker added the hyphen to his name (Linn is actually his middle name). And sadly for me, regular Mark Baker has done even less than Mark Linn-Baker, although he was in the 1974 revival of Candide, which is out on CD.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More on Enchanted

From the minute I saw Nathaniel, I knew that he was a character I would like. And when he showed up in the real world at Timothy Spall, that just made him even better. But it seems like I'm the only one who even bothers to mention him. And I cannot find any good images of him online at all. The only place I found any pictures of him were in a coloring book, in fact. And so, to justify my purchase, here are the only pages with RealWorld!Nathaniel:

And now, the only image of Animated!Nathaniel that exists:

It's a sparkly sticker.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Enchanted and thoughts on Oscar nominations

So I finally got to see Enchanted yesterday after trying to get there for about three weeks. And it was definitely worth it. I haven't left a movie feeling that good for a long time. And "That's How You Know" will be nominated for an Oscar, no doubt about it (whether it wins depends on what it's up against). I just hope they don't do another "Dreamgirls" and nominate more than one song from this movie. Not only does that lead to nomination inflation, but it splits the vote, which is (probably) why that other song won instead.
A little research (i.e. looking on Wikipedia) reveals that last year was not the first year that more than one song from one movie was nominated, and that it is possible for a movie with more than one nominated song to win. In 1983, the theme from Flashdance won, even though "She's a Maniac" was also nominated (and two songs from Yentl were nominated that year, too), and in 1989, "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid won, and "Kiss the Girl" was also nominated. The same thing with Aladdin. And Both Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King had three songs nominated, and they both won, so there you go.

What I was really looking for (and still haven't found) is some kind of rule about the number of nominations for Best Original Song. Because whenever I start talking about that category, my mother always brings up the 2005 awards, when there were only three nominated songs, and "It's a Hard-Knock Life for Pimps" (her name for it) won. Mostly she likes to rant about how one of the three songs from the fourth Harry Potter film should have been nominated, and probably would have won.
Now, I know that there have to be a certain number of eligible animated films in order for there to be five nominations (I think that it's over 15, but don't quote me on that), otherwise there are only three. So there must be a similiar rule for the songs, since there have been years when only three songs were nominated. But so far I haven't found anything useful.

That wasn't really why I started this post, but I'll have to get to that later.

Edit: This article goes into the Best Song Nomination Process.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Adventures in Care-a-lot Episode 9

The last of the new eps for a while (the natural cartoon cycle, as I've observed it over the years, generally leads to reruns during November and December, when the holidays start rolling in, and new eps don't start again until February or so), this episode featured one story that was awesome and one that was kind of lame. The animation started out squished again, but it evened out before the end of the first story. How odd...

The first story, "All You Need Is..." gets 10 extra points for The Return of UR-2! So glad to see that he wasn't a one-off robot ^_^ The episode actually starts with all of Care-a-lot covered with jelly, the aftermath of Oopsy trying to help Grumpy with his automatic jelly machine. Grumpy kicks him out, and Cheer sends him to help someone else. Funshine and Surprise are making a snowbear out of jelly, and while Surprise is apprehensive, Funshine lets Oopsy help, which ends badly, of course. Oopsy has to face the facts: nobody likes him because he's just too accident prone.
Up in Grizzle's Lair, Grizzle notices Care-a-lot's sticky situation, and decides it's the perfect time to attack using some kind of eggbeater device. UR-2 points out that his plans usually don't work, and suggests a different tactic: make the Care Bears like him, so it'll be easy to take over Care-a-lot. Although he at first laughs at UR-2, Grizzle then claims credit for the idea, and kisses UR-2 in a fit of euphoria. UR-2 is not pleased.
Share and Wingnut find Oopsy sulking under a tree, and they tell him that it's not his fault, so come back to Care-a-lot, raising the question of where he really is. Share also tells him that everyone accepts him just the way he is, and then runs off again. Oopsy tells Wingnut that he doesn't want to be just accepted, he wants to be liked. Didn't he already go through this in Oopsy the Hero?
Grizzle is looking fabulous (his own words), but neither he nor UR-2 can find his tie. In their search, the secret ingredient, a pheromone-laced perfume gets knocked off the table and falls down a series of pipes before landing on Oopsy's head. Why he's not more seriously injured, I have no clue, but he's well enough to remark on the bottle, which Wingnut then analyzes. When he hears that it's a "love perfume," Oopsy instantly recognizes the perfume as the solution to his popularity problems.
Meanwhile, Grizzle finally found his tie and is all ready to set his plan in motion. Only now they can't find the perfume. Back in Care-a-lot, Oopsy accidently uses the whole bottle on himself, and, since Wingnut is immune to its effects, being a robot and all, he goes back to town to see if it works. At first it doesn't seem to do anything, but then the perfume takes effect, and the episode becomes all kinds of awesome as Care Bears one by one start fangirling over Oopsy, and Oopsy just eats it up. Wingnut, however, is slightly worried. Probably by the huge eyes everyone's making at Oopsy. After a while, even Oopsy starts getting creeped out when everyone laughs at his unfunny joke and declare that they want to be with him all the time. When Surprise tackles him, Oopsy goes into hiding.
Later, Wingnut finds him, and Oopsy waxes about what he's learned so far: making people like him with a magic perfume didn't make him feel any better, and Wingnut still likes him the way he is. For some reason this makes him think of Grumpy, and he goes to see him, reasoning that Grumpy is way too grumpy to be affected by any perfume. At first, his hypothesis seems to be correct, as Grumpy yells at him for breaking his latest invention yet again, but then the perfume does its stuff and not only does Grumpy fall for Oopsy, but everyone else shows up again and they all start lurching toward Oopsy, zombie-like. The only thing that saves him from being crushed in a cornucopia of love is Wingnut tossing a bucket of water on him, washing off the perfume. Everyone is back to normal, and Oopsy explains about the perfume. Everyone forgives him, except for Grumpy, who is still mad about the jelly machine. Which makes Oopsy happy, of course, since it means that the perfume really was washed off, and everything is back to normal.
Except that Grizzle finally shows up, having made a new batch of perfume. He announces his intentions, and then sprays the perfume. Only he put the sprayer on backwards, so he ends up spraying the Care Bears instead, and he falls in love with them. Leading to the best ending yet: "He's gonna try to hug us! Run!" And while Wingnut and UR-2 watch in bewildered amusement, Grizzle chases the Care Bears into the sunset.

Having that story first only makes the second story all the worse. "Gobblebugs" starts with Cheer getting ready to test a Rainbow Jump, which, as she explains to Oopsy, will take you wherever you want to go, but it still needs some testing. Oopsy's gung-ho to test it, so he asks it to take him home. It starts well, but then the rainbow takes a wrong turn and deposits him in a bush.
Meanwhile, Funshine and Grumpy are fixing a hole in Grumpy's garage door. Funshine is busy getting Grumpy to confess to the reason for the hole in the door when Share runs up and shows them some bedraggled flowers from the meadow. None of them know what happened to them, but Share doesn't want whatever happened to happen to her own garden. Funshine promises to round up the gang and figure out what to do. The Gang ends up being himself, Grumpy, Oopsy and Cheer. Oopsy and Grumpy pledge to help, and Funshine proposes that while the rest of them search the town, one of them stays behind and keeps an eye on Share's garden. Funshine railroads Cheer into taking the first shift, even though she expressly tells them she was planning on working on her rainbow jumps. Everyone else guilts her, and Funshine tries to console her with the fact that after two hours, he'll take the next shift. Small consolation indeed. So the ones who are ready and raring to help leave the relunctant one to watch the garden.
While grumbling about her situation, Cheer has a sudden flash of insight about her rainbow jumps, and rationalizes that she'll only be gone for a minute. So she makes a new rainbow and takes off, only to be deposited in the bushes, right in front of Funshine. He guilts her, of course, and they return to Share's garden only to find it ravaged in the few minutes Cheer was away. Cheer apologizes, but neither Share nor Funshine accept it, insisting that Cheer agreed to help (which she never did, by the way), and she let them down. Their guilt trip is cut short by Grumpy and Wingnut, who arrive with the culprit in a jar: a titular gobblebug. These little bugs eat all kinds of plants, and the one they caught is just a scout.
Realizing that all the plants in Care-a-lot are in danger, they focus on the Gathering Tree (that big tree in the middle of town) for some reason. In order to protect it, Grumpy'll make a lot of fog to hide it, and everyone else will use leaf blowers to blow the bugs back. Funshine lays a major guilt trip on Cheer, telling her to just let them handle it because she really let them down before. On her own, Cheer isn't very sympathetic to Share's situation, especially since she rationalizes that Share can grow more flowers, until she finds one of her rainbow jumps eaten by gobblebugs (or so she assumes), just like Share's garden.
Everyone else, meanwhile, is ready to defend the Gathering Tree, when Cheer shows up, and goes on an empathetic ramblefest about how she's learned her lesson. Fortunately, it works and Share totally forgives her. Their reconciliation is cut short by the arrival of the gobblebugs. Everyone gets to work blowing them back, but the fog around the Gathering Tree disappates, and the bugs make a beeline for it. Wingnut and Oopsy start to blow them back, and Cheer is almost distracted when she sees some of the bugs go after one of her rainbow jumps, but she perseveres. She also notices that the bugs aren't going after any plants that are yellow. So she gives everyone the power to turn everything yellow, except for Oopsy, who gets a can of yellow paint from Wingnut. Oopsy's accidental stumble herds the gobblebugs onto one of Cheer's rainbow jumps, which she uses to effectivly drive out the gobblebugs.
With the Gathering Tree (and the rest of Care-a-lot's plants) safe and sound, Cheer is forgiven by all, and Funshine promises to help her with her rainbow jumps. Cheer makes a horrible pun, and I find it a nice touch that Grumpy doesn't laugh at it, and instead glares at everyone else for laughing, as we fade out on a very yellow Care-a-lot.

It really, really, really, really, really, really bugged me that a big part of that story was based around Cheer being forced to do something she really didn't want to do, and then everyone getting mad at her for not following through with it. I have no trouble seeing the scene in between Funshine rounding up the gang going something like this:
Funshine: Hey, Cheer! Want to help us with something?
Cheer: Well, I'm kind of busy, actually-
Funshine: Great! Come on! *drags Cheer along to Share's garden*
And it's really such a pity, because with a couple of tweaks, this would have been just a mediocre story, instead of the annoyance it ended up as.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Half a look at Strawberry Shortcake

November was pretty crazy for me, and while I'm almost done with my classes, I'm not quite there yet. So here's something I wrote up but never actually finished.
While I started this blog mostly to write up the new Care Bears series, I almost made one to write up the new(ish) Strawberry Shortcake series. I was planning to do them all in order, but while writing up the summary and taking screenshots for the first one, my DVD program crashed and I didn't feel like going back, so I this is all I wrote:

Meet Strawberry Shortcake
This episode starts off with out heroine addressing the audience directly to give them some exposition on Strawberryland and its inhabitants (namely, herself, Custard, and Pupcake). Strawberryland is a land where berries grow as big as your head, it rains and even snows berries (mostly strawberries, but other kinds, too). Custard is quick to point out that Strawberryland, with its lack of tunaberries, is hardly ideal for a cat such as herself, which Strawberry rebuffs by telling the audience that Custard always sees the glass as half empty, while she herself sees it as half full. And Pupcake, he's just the kind who knocks over the glass and then denies it was ever full in the first place (seriously, he spends the whole episode running into things and knocking them over, then just running off again). For no particular reason, she feeds her pets, but Custard rejects the store-brand food, so Pupcake eats both dishes. Somehow, Strawberry singles this out as a lack of cooperation, but in reality, Custard is just angling for some tuna.
Meanwhile, outside, a huge flower floats down, and a toddler appears from under it. What the heck? Turns out she's Strawberry's little sister, Apple Dumpling, who just turned one. But seriously folks? She definitely acts at least two, if not three. Just so you know. Finding a dandelion wishberry in the yard, Strawberry blows the tufts all over the place and declares that she wished she could have a birthday party for her sister, since she's so cute. "She'd be a lot cuter if she had whiskers and a tail," Custard declares, and then the background goes all shimmery. Sadly, this does not cue up a dream sequence where Custard imagines a world where everyone is a cat, but simply cuts to the next scene.
Next is an introduction to the house, which mainly consists of a kitchen, which is luckily Strawberry's favorite room. That's where she's going to throw the party, and where she makes a list of everything they need: cookies, fruits, juice, party hats, and a birthday cake. In order to get all the stuff, she'll need to go to the different "lands" in the vicinity. Custard would rather go to a land of cats, and insists that they won't get along with people who are different, but Strawberry just pooh-poohs this notion, telling us that differences are what make life interesting. (Lesson number one) I'm starting to think that the only reason Custard can talk is so that someone can cut through Strawberry's oh-so-positive outlook. If it was just her talking to the audience the whole time, this would get seriously tiring. As it is, it's still moderately tiring.
Setting off on their journey, the first stop is Cookie Corners. Along the way, Pupcake knocks over the sign, so that it now points the opposite direction. This never comes up again, which goes against everything that cartoons have taught me. Where is the scene where they're trying to find their way back, and find the backwards sign and just get more lost, huh? But I digress. The closer they get to the heart of Cookie Corners, the better things smell, but the louder things get as we're introduced to a Rubegoldian cookie-making machine. Unaware of the dangers, Pupcake follows a butterfly and ends up sending baked goods flying to the ground as a girl cries out, "Oh, macaroonio!" It's Ginger Snap, and while she's initially upset, she warms up to Pupcake and Strawberry pretty quickly (she's obviously distracted at the time, which probably had something to do with it). There's introductions all around, and then it's time for a tour of the bakery, which leads to a semi-comprehensible song about cookies (naturally).
Strawberry calls the cookie machine amazing, and asks what it's called. "The Amazing Cookie Machine," Ginger Snap replies. Custard is not amused. Look, Custard, Ginger Snap named the machine before you guys ever showed up, so just shut up already. Strawberry barely has time to apologize for her caustic cat before she has to prevent Pupcake from giving the machine a meltdown. Everything goes haywire, dough flies everywhere, it's just a huge mess! Fearing the worst, Strawberry berates Pupcake for costing her a new friend, while Custard insists that the machine is too different to be any good. But Ginger Snap shows them all is well, and even makes a special tuna cookie for Custard. She then loads up two batches of cookies for her new friends (warning Strawberry not to eat them until after lunch), and bids them a fond farewell.
Next we meet Orange Blossom, who is cheerfully (but a little flatly) singing a song about plants, which Strawberry then turns into a song about friendship. Luckily, Orange Blossome doesn't mind. Pupcake then trips over a basket and rolls into an orange tree, which unloads its wares in a cartoon fashion all around him. Despite all this, Orange Blossom takes an immediate shine to Strawberry, and once the introductions are over, offers them all juice, the top product of Orange Blossom Acres(tm). Custard rejects the juice, so Orange Blossom tells her that "If you're kind to the earth, it will give you all the delicious food you need." This nonsequiter leaves Custard worrying about the 'furriness' of their host, but Orange Blossom soon makes up for it by offering milk instead. Custard is thus won over, although that doesn't stop her from being grossed out when Pupcake spills the milk all over her and cleans it up himself.
Moving right along, it's time for the cake! Custard's all about a tuna cake with liver frosting, but Strawberry reassures Apple Dumpling that they'll get the perfect cake for her in Cakewalk (of course). Has it been snowing? No, someone just put icing on all the fences. After a few bad puns, we finally meet Angel Cake at her cake shop. She shows the gang a few ready made cakes (with more bad puns), but nothing is quite right. After hearing Custard's comment that anyone who lives in a cake can't help them, Angel Cake shows them her book of special order cakes. Strawberry orders the Apple Tree Cake, only to find that Angel Cake can't make it by that afternoon. It's too much work for one person, she tells them. But Strawberry has a plan: they'll all help her make it! Angel Cake rejects her offer at first, since she usually works alone, but since there isn't much call for custom cakes in a land where people live in them, she decides to make an exception. Everyone has a job, including Pupcake (taking a nap so he doesn't get in the way).
One cooking montage later, the cake is done, and Strawberry declares that because they all worked together, the work was actually fun. Custard is skeptical, but Angel Cake plies her with flattery, so all is well. The cake looks great, they all had fun, what more can you ask for? Maybe a cake song. But Strawberry and the gang leave Cakewalk without a single solitary song, completely breaking the pattern! What gives?

Actually, I probably gave up because this is right before they meet the dreaded Honey Pie Pony, and I just couldn't take trying to deal with her long enough to write up stuff, even if it meant I never got to touch on Custard's crush on Huckleberry Pie, which showed up in the next, poorly plotted episode (the book was better), but was never touched on again, not even in the retconny "Pupcake's Origin."

Monday, November 12, 2007

MLP Analysis (sort of)

I've been busy with National Novel Writing Month, so here's something I wrote up a year and a half ago and posted on my livejournal:

I don't generally do this kind of thing, but it's been on my mind for a while, and I want to get it out. One of the few episodes of My Little Pony that I actually remember airing back in the day (that is, not on the Disney Channel in the 90's) was The End of Flutter Valley, though the only parts I remembered involved some of the ponies being captured by bees, trapped in a honeycomb, and being covered with honey, only one of them was also kept in a cage guarded by a bee who couldn't fly. Knowing that it took 10 parts to tell that story (i.e. a whole week's worth of shows), I decided to rent it and fill in the gaps.
The End of Flutter Valley was actually the episode(s) that kicked off the series, and involves the witches from the movie teaming up with Queen Bumble and her bees to destroy Flutter Valley, home of the Flutter Ponies, by stealing the sunstone that keeps the valley verdant and full of flowers. After plenty of complications, the sunstone is recovered and put back in place just in the nick of time, and everything ends happily. A bit improbably, but still happily.
After watching the whole thing, I found myself thinking more about the bees than they probably warranted, especially one of the few named ones, Sting, the bee who defected to the ponies' side. This was originally going to a kind of character tribute to him, but as I rewatched all the bee scenes, I started taking what little info there was and forming theories about the bees and their life before the series. I know, I think too hard about this stuff, but I can't help it.

The bees live in Bumbleland (named after the queen, I assume), a barren, frozen forest where nothing grows, and thus all the flowers have to be "imported" (whether this means they barter with goods, i.e. honey, or just take whatever flowers they find isn't made clear, but I'm inclined to think it's the latter). They used to live in Flutter Valley, but were kicked out for being mean and tough. And here the theories begin.
It seems to me that the whole being exiled from Flutter Valley thing happened long before the episode, about a generation or so, meaning that none of the characters involved in the episode were actually around when it happened. After all, the plan initially came from the portraits of the witches' old relatives, so this obviously happened in the past. Also, the hatred that Bumble has for the Flutter Ponies seems more like the irrational kind that gets passed down from generation to generation than a specific hatred.
Unanswered questions: why did the bees settle in such a cold place? Did the Flutter Ponies threaten them or something? "You stay there or we'll just blow you back again!" I'm assuming that the Flutter Ponies used their "Utter Flutter" (high-speed flapping that can blow things away a hundred times their own weight) power to kick the bees out (how else, really?). And just what did the bees do to get themselves kicked out of Flutter Valley, anyway?

Character Profiles

Only three of the bees are named and have any semblance of a personality: Queen Bumble, Sting (her right hand bee), and Pointer (the captain of the guard). All the rest are just nameless soldiers who don't even get to wear clothes.


Sting is the most important of the Bees (storywise), and he's actually an interesting character, although you wouldn't know this from first glance. We don't really see the depth of his character until after he's assigned to watch Morning Glory (a Flutter Pony who managed to escape, but was recaptured), and ends up telling her his history. More on that in a minute.
Sting is Bumble's righthand bee and bodyguard, and as such knows her best. He's comfortable enough in his position to give her advice (which she doesn't follow), then rub it in when it turns out he was right, and to occasionally question her orders. He also has stirrings of conscience (i.e. seeing how the Flutter Ponies are treated). I get the sense that he knows how rotten a queen Bumble is, but tries to deny it for the sake of his position, the only thing he has going for him in his life. Why do I think that, you ask? It all comes clear when he guards Morning Glory.

Now, Morning Glory is supposed to be on a rescue mission, but was recaptured and placed in a cage on the far outskirts of Bumbleland with only Sting as a guard. Seeing this, she tries to get him to set her free, first by reasoning with him, then by appealing to his conscience, but nothing works. It's only when she tries to convince him that he'd have a better time flying with his friends than guarding her that the sad truth of Sting's life comes out: he's a bee who can't fly. He used to, back in the day, but he was so rotten at it that he "just doesn't do it anymore." A decision made early on, I muse:
Most likely, he was teased by his peers, which is why he gave up flying. Maybe there was a flying coach who made disparaging remarks as well (you know how these things go). To compensate, he built up a tough image for himself, dressing like a biker, wearing an eyepatch, etc. He also built up his physical strength, which is probably how he became Bumble's bodyguard. Maybe there was a competition and he won, and that's how it happened (the underdog overcoming all the odds, and all that). Yet, despite having the second highest position in the land, he isn't really happy, as he can't fly and everyone knows it. But it's been so long that he can't bring himself to even try flying again. And so he lives, resigned to his lot, until a certain Flutter Pony sang a certain song: Stretch Yourself.
Morning Glory encourages Sting to try again with this song, and while the lyrics are supportive, the actions that accompany them are not (or rather, they are, in a reverse psychology sort of way). During the course of the song, Morning Glory tricks Sting into letting her out of her cage, then proceeds to tease him until he gets mad enough to chase after her, and sure enough, his flying is terrible. Still, by the end of it, he's flying with ease, and thanks Morning Glory for her help. He also puts her back in the cage, as he's still loyal to the queen.
Or is he? Sting seems loyal, but we do see some cracks in his loyalty early on, which, when teamed with the pangs of conscience mentioned before, makes his defection to the ponies' side understandable. Although he tells Morning Glory that he does what Bumble tells him to do, and that he can't help her because he's "still a bee," it's clear that he's conflicted. On the one hand, he has Morning Glory, who has only shown him kindness, despite how rotten he's treated her, and on the other, he has Bumble, who doesn't seem to care for him a whit, despite the (mostly) loyal service he's given her.

Still a bee pensive moment
This is driven home when he discovers that Bumbleland has been evacuated due to a sunstone-related fire, but no one bothered to tell him. Searching for the other bees proves fruitless, although they are quick to show up once Sting puts out the fire. By then it's too late, he's made his choice: he turns his back on Bumble and helps the Flutter Ponies. His choice was not made lightly, though, and even afterward he isn't sure he's done the right thing. But having made his choice, he sticks with it, and is instrumental in recovering the sunstone, bringing Meghan from over the rainbow and using his knowledge of Bumbleland to help free the Flutter Ponies.
I find it interesting that right before officially turning traitor, he does give Bumble one last chance. When she accuses him of treachery, he tells her that she's not in the right either, then tells her to "let the Flutter Ponies go and I'll apologize." (She refuses, of course).
Also interesting is that once he's officially on the ponies' side, he makes no effort to contain his bitterness toward Bumble, refering to her as his 'ex-queen' with all the vitrol you might use to describe a nasty ex-girlfriend, then later claiming that she's "too mean to listen to reason," and finally confronting her straight to her face with her faults.
Unanswered questions: when Sting questions an order and Bumble threateningly asks if he wants to continue being her right-hand bee, he considers it and says, " tell ya the truth..." whereupon Bumble whacks him. Was he being serious, or was it just part of him being comfortable in his job? Do they do this kind of thing all the time? And does he really need the eyepatch, or is it just part of his 'image'?

Queen Bumble

Skipping ahead, we come to Bumble, the queen bee, though not what you'd call a good queen in any sense of the word. She doesn't have nearly the depth that Sting does, but she isn't without interest. She also has this weird R-rolling thing going on which makes the way she says "Flutter Ponies" sound really weird.
Bumble is a hard character to defend, since she's basically selfish, shortsighted, and mean. She follows her own moral code where the end justifies the means, no matter what. So what if stealing the sunstone is wrong, and so what if said sunstone sets Bumbleland on fire? It creates flowers full of delicious nectar, and that's what matters. Bumble's all about the nectar, and you can't really blame her: she spends her days ruling a cold, colorless, barren kingdom with only tens of minions at her disposal. What else is there to do but spend her days sipping the available nectar? This is one bored (and spoiled) queen.
Now, I don't want to say that Bumble is dumb (that sounds like the set up for a joke, doesn't it?), but she is no great wit, that's for sure. Unfortunately, she thinks she is, often making unwitty statements that make you wonder, "was that supposed to be a joke?" She also lacks the imagination to think of stealing the sunstone until the witches suggested it (granted, it took a collaboration to actually get the stone, but there's more than one way to distract a Flutter Pony, right?). She even at one point forgets that she's able to fly (of course, it wasn't until the third viewing or so that I noticed this myself, so there you go). And then, of course:
"Is your swarm ready?"
"They but await my special signal."
"A special signal?"
"Proceed after me, swarm!"
"That's the worst special signal I ever heard."
Makes you wonder who actually came up with the idea of trapping the Flutter Ponies in the honeycomb (Probably Sting).
Perhaps Bumble's most defining characteristic is her lack of self-control. Even when she has visitors, she won't (can't?) stop eating, and when given unlimited resources, she gluts herself to the point of discomfort. She raves and rants when she doesn't get her way, and throws out threats on a regular basis. Plus, she annoyingly laughs at people who make unreasonable demands of her (such as letting the Flutter Ponies go free). She's a childish adult who's never seen any reason to grow up, a thoroughly nasty character.
And yet, and yet...she's still the queen. No one's tried to overthrow her, despite how easy it would be, as she falls asleep in every third scene and generally doesn't wake up until mortal peril is involved. What's more, the bees seem to want her respect, even though she doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself. When voicing his doubts about leaving, Sting comments, "I just wanted Bumble to like me" (though this may be to show us that he *is* doing the right thing, leaving someone who doesn't care about him to help someone who does). But still, why this need to be liked by her? Is it Bumble's queenly power, or is there something else going on here?
Unanswered questions: Why does she only roll the R in Pointer half the time? How did the witches know that red clover was her favorite flower when they've obviously never met before? Did she really forget about Sting, or just figure that he was far enough from the fire that he didn't need to be warned, or what? And how the heck does she get nectar out of the STEM of a flower?


Which brings us to Pointer. Of the named bees, he's the one with the least character depth and thus leaves me with the most questions. The only significant things we know about him are that he's afraid of the dark, and has some kind of grudge against Sting. At first, I didn't like him that much, but after really looking at his character, I felt pretty bad for him. Things just don't go his way.
Pointer is the Captain of the Guard, and thus spends most of his time with the nameless bees, guarding the Flutter Ponies, and capturing Morning Glory when she escapes. His main function as a character, however, is to make Bumble appreciate Sting, as Pointer mainly spends the episode being inept and/or a beat behind. Sure, he recaptured Morning Glory, but not before she gave him the slip a couple of times (and all he got for his trouble was a "Very good, you may go now," from Bumble).
While Sting is otherwise occupied guarding Morning Glory, Pointer is the temporary second-in-command and begins his chain of failure. To start off with, he utterly fails to convince Bumble that the sunstone is burning up the flowers, despite having evidence (granted, Bumble was most likely in denial about it, but it still doesn't bode well for Pointer), and then he doesn't even bother to mention it when Bumbleland catches fire. He probably reasoned that Bumble would just shut him down again, and maybe she would have. But it definitely looks worse that he didn't tell her, leaving her instead to find out about it herself. He leads a worthy rescue effort, heading to a nearby lake with the other bees, but their aim stinks and the only thing that gets drenched is Bumble, who, having had enough already, proposes they wait for the fire to burn itself out somewhere else.
As I mentioned before, Pointer has something against Sting. Mostly likely he resents the fact that Sting got to be Bumble's right-hand bee when he can't even fly, and feels that he should be the one in that position. Although seeing how he handles things when he does get the chance, is it any wonder why he's merely captain of the guard? At any rate, after Sting turns against Bumble, Pointer cries out "I've been waiting for this chance!" The chance to get rid of Sting for good? To take over his role as Bumble's right hand bee? That's the most probable answer, but it's never made explicitly clear what the reasoning really is. (For the record, Sting's reply is "Well, now you've got it!" which indicates that Pointer's grudge was no secret. He's probably been making veiled comments for years...) Now, the one advantage that Pointer has over Sting is his ability to fly, so he's allowed some incredulity at the sight of Sting actually flying. In fact, the way he states his shock at this turn of events is more like "Sting can fly?! That's not fair!!!" The rules have been changed on him, and it doesn't take long for Sting to beat him up not once, but twice (again, this is probably why Sting became Bumble's right-hand bee in the first place), getting knocked in the mud, also splattering the queen. Bumble is not amused. Following that, he even fails at recapturing a Flutter Pony, being bucked off immediately. It's just not Pointer's day.

Still, one thing Pointer is good at (apparently) is finding flowers, though he's quick to point out that without the sunstone (Sting knocked it down from its pedestal and it buried itself deep in the earth), flowers are harder to come by. Bumble, however, has a plan: have the Flutter Ponies dig up the sunstone. She puts Pointer in charge of this so that she doesn't have to pay attention herself, which will prove an unwise move. Being in charge mainly means that Pointer gets to use a big crane to try and grab the stone while yelling at the Flutter Ponies. But one of the Flutter Ponies outsmarts him and takes control of the crane herself, grabbing Bumble (who fell asleep again) and her throne. Pointer comes to her rescue, but his method (sawing through the rope that holds the crane's claw) leaves much to be desired.
At this point, the rescue team headed by Meghan arrives, and Pointer's luck gets a turn for the better. Meghan insists that they have Bumbleland surrounded, but Pointer calls her bluff and knocks her towards the hole, almost knocking her in. Sting immediately takes after him, and they fence with their stingers. Amazingly, Pointer wins out, knocking down Sting's stinger and sticking him with his own. Morning Glory pulls it out, but it doesn't matter since everyone is recaptured shortly afterward.
Later, everyone escapes down the hole, and Bumble calls on Pointer to lead the way after them. This is where we learn that he's afraid of the dark (or at least, 'not very good' with it. I imagine something ala Mendo in Urusei Yatsura ^_~) when he balks and manages to convince Bumble (with some very obvious flattery, though she lacks the wit to discern it as such) to go first. And yes, the writers do go there. Pointer gets her out, but this is getting close to spelling the end for Pointer. His attempts to cool down Bumble's rage at losing the sunstone are utterly fruitless, and he has no choice but to go along with her plan to get the sunstone back. Thus ends Pointer's part in the story, as his last act on screen is having his attempt to take out Sting thwarted by a Flutter Pony.
After all that, is it any wonder that Bumble gives in to Sting's demands, just to have him back?
Unanswered questions: Just what did Pointer have against Sting? Why's he afraid of the dark? And who the heck did his voice?

Now, what really lead to this whole entry was the improbable ending, and my attempts to make some sense of it. My first inclination was that it might work if there was some romantic tension, but really, it's not there. And even if it were, that still wouldn't make the ending work.

I'll be nice!
The end goes thusly: after the Flutter Ponies get the sunstone back, Bumble leads her swarm to go and get it back for herself. Sting is unable to convince her to give it up, so finally Rosedust, queen of the Flutter Ponies, basically goes up to her and says, "If you leave us alone, you can take all the flowers you want." Now, immediately after this, Bumble's personality does a one-eighty, and whereas she spent most of the episode filled with wrath, she is suddenly meek. Sting even gets her to agree to be nice, and they head back to Bumbleland with her crowing about what a wonderful day it is. (I note that she pushes Sting as she says, "Let's go home." Romantic tension?)
Anyhoo, what puzzles me most is Bumble's sudden shift of attitude. Maybe if someone had reminded her that the sunstone set her kingdom on fire previously, it might make more sense, or if she had even taken just a moment or two to consider Rosedust's offer, or something. Maybe it was the queen-to-queen connection, but still. I'll probably never find a satisfying answer.
Possible theories: It was 'that time of the month' for Bumble; she suddenly realized she loved Sting or something; she suddenly realized that if she didn't take Sting back, she'd be stuck with Pointer as a right-hand bee; the sudden change in the BGM did it.

Romantic Tension
Now, I mentioned that I originally thought some romantic tension could even out the ending (i.e. Bumble would realize she loves Sting and lets everything else slide for his sake), but like I said, it's just not there. However, I think this episode might have benefitted from a little romantic tension. I can see a love triangle type of thing going on between Sting and Pointer for Bumble's affections (which would put more meaning into their skirmishes), although I can't really see Bumble returning either of their feelings (until the end, of course).

As far as I can tell, the bees never showed up in the series again, which is kind of a shame. It would have been nice to know what became of them. I'd like to think that Bumble became a better queen, that she eventually created an heir, and that somehow Bumbleland became a warmer, greener place.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Adventures in Care-a-lot, Episode 8

I can't tell you how happy this episode made me. What made this episode so special? Three words: Care Bear Library. Both parts featured the library, and since I'm currently working on a Master's in Information and Library Science, I find it a nice touch.
Ever since I first spotted the above image back in the first episode, I came to the conclusion that it had to be a library, and that Smart Heart is the official librarian (since she hasn't shown up in any episodes, I'm free to imagine her looking stereotypically librarianish, too, with her hair in a bun and glasses on a chain. If I could draw, I would create a bunch of pics of her, but that's neither here nor there at the moment).
Anyway, getting down to the episodes:

Part one - Rainshine Meadows
As usual, it's a great day in Care-a-lot. Funshine shows off his new Belly Ball move to Cheer, Grumpy and Oopsy, but it doesn't go quite as planned, and Funshine ends up in the fountain, splashing Grumpy, who is not amused (and later shakes the water off on Cheer and Oopsy). Funshine is committed to practicing, and not even a little water can stop him! He practices in the park where Cheer and Harmony are about to have PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and his ball whacks into them, effectively dumping the sandwiches on their heads. And Harmony just seethes (I love it!). Funshine passive-aggressively sighs that he'll go somewhere else to practice, and ends up at the Care-a-lot Library. Love-a-lot is working the desk, and she's wise to Funshine's "practicing." Luckily for her, he's actually there to research places where he can practice without bothering anybody. Love-a-lot loves that idea (as does everyone else, I'm sure), and finds info on a place called Rainshine Meadows, apparently the merriest place in Care-a-lot, where starfish live, and Upsy Daisys and wild bumbleberries grow. Funshine is instantly sold, but Love-a-lot has to remind him that they're in a library (which means be quiet).
Funshine makes his way to Rainshine Meadows and is shocked to find that it isn't very merry at all. Instead, it's dirty, smelly, and the river is full of sludge! I smell a story about pollution coming up. Has Grizzle been dumping his wastes in this meadow? Regardless of how it happened, Funshine ignores it and tries to practice, but just keeps getting a face full of yuck. Disheartened by the wilting flowers and slimy starfish, Funshine decides to take action!
Meanwhile, back in Care-a-lot, everyone is doing clean up in town square (Cheer has a little automatic rainbow scrubber, and Grumpy uses rain to wash trash off of the yard into the street for Oopsy and Wingnut to sweep and vacuum up respectively) when Funshine shows up, announcing that he has a project. Grumpy reminds him of the results of his last "project" (which had something to do with cows), but Funshine swears this is different. Wingnut instantly volunteers, but Grumpy gives us exposition: the meadow used to be beautiful, but after Hurricane Katrina a bad storm, it got all messed up. So it wasn't pollution after all, which means no Grizzle (boo!). Even Cheer thinks it's too big a job for them, so Funshine and Wingnut go to take care of it on their own.
Wearing protective goggles and gloves (an entire suit in Wingnut's case), they start by cleaning off starfish. But there's just so many! Later, Funshine transplants the Upsy Daisies while Wingnut cleans up debris in the stream. They pile up mud, but it avalanches down on them again. By the end of the day, they're both pretty dirty, but Funshine is sure that things will be easier tomorrow.
But the next day, Funshine goes back and it doesn't look like anything's changed. Discouraged by this, he just gives up, despite one of the clean starfish trying to get his attention. He's so depressed that he doesn't even want to join the others playing Belly Ball, which is pretty serious. Wingnut explains the situation, and Grumpy feels justified. But Cheer points out that Funshine usually doesn't give up on anything, and Share goes all psychoanalytical. Even Grumpy doesn't want to see Funshine unhappy (more like, doesn't want to be subjected to an unhappy Funshine), so they go to take a look at Rainshine Meadows for themselves. At first things look hopeless, but then everyone finds parts where Funshine worked the day before, and it inspires them to do a cleaning montage, dressed in protective glasses and gloves (and Grumpy looks extra cute in his ^_~). Wingnut leads Funshine to the meadow again, and everyone tells him how he did make a difference. And they all celebrate by playing Belly Ball, and Funshine falls in the stream. The end.

Is the fact that the info Love-a-lot pulled up on Rainshine Meadows was woefully outdated a comment on the state of our libraries? Perhaps so.

Part Two - Oopsy the Hero
The episode starts with Oopsy observing Funshine teaching Love-a-lot to ride a bike, Share bringing flowers to an ill Best Friend Bear, and Tenderheart making the winning goal in a game of soccer. He complains to Wingnut that he's feeling low because all his friends are special, and he isn't. Wingnut points out that he's still loved by his friends, but Oopsy counters with the fact that he doesn't get any attention, except when he has accidents (like tripping over an ant). In short, he feels insignificant.
Meanwhile, Harmony and Cheer are reading at the library (all hunched over their books, that can't be good for their backs), enjoying the peace and quiet, until Grumpy starts working on fixing the roof. So they decide to go read by the water fountain. All Grumpy's banging, however, starts to dislodge the giant heart on the roof...
The only way to stop feeling low, Oopsy decides, is if everyone sudden started paying attention to him, so he walks around with his eyes shut, imagining an Oopsy parade. If this were Maisson Ikaku, this is the part where he'd walk face first into a pole, but since this is Oopsy we're talking about, he trips over it instead and starts a chain reaction that ends with him careening wildly on a wagon. At the same time, Grumpy notices too late that the heart is about to fall, just as Cheer and Harmony exit the library. In just the nick of time, Oopsy crashes into Cheer and Harmony, pushing them out of harm's way. Grumpy, seeing the neatly split-in-two heart, makes a heartbreaker pun.
Harmony commends Oopsy as a hero, and she and Share run off to tell everyone what happened before Oopsy has a chance to tell them it was just an accident. Soon, everyone is paying attention to Oopsy and calling him a hero, just like he wanted. Oopsy having a good time, but Wingnut, being a robot, calls Oopsy on the fact that it was just an accident, and not real heroism. Oopsy doesn't see the harm, but Wingnut is adamant. So Oopsy gears up to tell everyone what really happened, but finds everyone throwing a party for him. Even baby Care Bears show up (who the heck are they?!) to ask for his autograph, and everyone serenades him with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow Hero, Our Oopsy." And then True Heart gets a speaking role!
Apparently, she runs the Care Bears Hero Website and plans to write up Oopsy's exploits, and even post his picture on the site. She goes all Rita Skeeter on him, turning his simple comments into purple prose. All these things only make it harder for Oopsy to want to tell the truth, despite Wingnut spurring him on the whole time. Finally, everyone leads him to the library, where Grumpy (reluctantly) unveils a new statue of Oopsy to replace the heart that fell off the roof, and Cheer announces that the name is being changed from the Smart Heart Library to the Oopsy Library. But Oopsy accidently trips and knocks the statue over. Grumpy manages to swallow his anger because Oopsy's a hero, and finally Oopsy admits that he isn't really a hero. True Heart, of course, asks why he didn't tell the truth, so Oopsy tells her that he was enjoying the attention because it made him feel special. Cheer insists that he's always been special, but Oopsy doesn't buy it. So everyone points out all the generic things that make him a good guy, except for Grumpy, who points out specifically that he broke the statue. And True Heart promises to write a story about him and post it on the website anyway, since he had the guts to tell the truth. And everyone serenades him again, and everything ends happily.

I still feel that Smart Heart is the head librarian, since the library is named for her. Hopefully she'll actually show up sometime to prove my hypothesis, but until then, I'll always have this episode.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Adventures in Care-a-lot, Episode 7

Both parts of this episode get the subtitle "Go to sleep, you morons!" Because that's what I wanted to say to both Share and Funshine all throughout their respective episodes.

Part one - Belly Ball
Share needs not only an abacus and an old-timey calculator, but also advanced algebra to figure out that it's only two days until she goes to WooHoo World (that amusement park that's just down the street) with everyone. So she practices riding the Funderbolt by sitting in a cardboard box with a fan blowing on her. Luckily she catches sight of Grumpy, Tenderheart, Funshine, and Cheer playing a game outside. Turns out it's called Belly Ball (is it different from Belly Badge Ball, or just a shortened name?), and the rules are thus: whoever gets the ball into a cloud hoop three times is the winner. You can use your hands or your badge (which is more interesting IMO). For example, Tenderheart shoots a stream of hearts to collide with the ball, and Grumpy uses first a gust of wind from a cloud, and then a lightning bolt. Cheer takes the cheater route and uses a rainbow stairway to go straight up to the hoop and drop the ball in, but apparently this is within the rules, and she wins. Grumpy congratulates her, and Share wonders why, since he lost (although I really think that it's how upbeat he is in this scene that's throwing her off. It's not natural!). Grumpy delivers the lesson of the story early: play because it's fun, not to win. Unfortunately for us, Share apparently doesn't pay attention to this. Either that or she's blinded by her desire to win the ribbon she sees Tenderheart present Cheer. So much so that she has a daydream of everyone cheering for her as she blows them kisses from the top of a pedestal (her rationale is that the ribbon makes people like you. Oh, the stupidity...)
Tenderheart invites her to join in the next game, but she tries to back out, saying she's not good at sports, but is once again thrown off by Grumpy upbeatly delivering the message of the day again. And when Funshine assures her that she'll get a ribbon if she wins, she's in! So we get a montage of Share getting hit on the head while everyone else uses their badges for spectacular success. She does manage one hit (a volleyball move I remember learning, even though I don't remember what it's called. No, not a spike), but it ends up in Bedtime's house. Finally, it's too late to play anymore, but Funshine promises they'll play again tomorrow. In the mean time, Share decides to practice during the night, and ropes Wingnut into helping her, since he doesn't need to sleep. And we get a montage of Share making bad shots and Wingnut chasing after them. They practice so long that Wingnut goes into sleep mode, so Share keeps practicing by herself. Bedtime shows up and tells her that sleep is more important than a game, and even offers her a pillow. But Share rebuffs him, and just keeps at it.
The next day, Share is a mess, with deep bags under her eyes, but she still insists on playing, even when Grumpy points out that she looks all "tuckered and tired." Sure enough, she falls asleep on her feet, and when Cheer calls her on it, reminding her that winning isn't everything, she gets all defensive. "That's easy for you to say, you already won a ribbon!" Funshine suggests they take a break from playing today, but Share just goes off to find someone who'll play. Whether she succeeds or not, we don't know, since the next scene skips ahead to night again, with Share and Wingnut practicing. But it doesn't take long before they both fall asleep right on the street.
The next next day, Share is at the top of her game, winning each game easily. Bedtime presents her with a ribbon, but then the cheering throng disperses. Turns out it was all a dream. Still, Share is ready to play, until Funshine and the others remind her that it's the day they're going to WooHoo World. Grumpy apparently used up all his cheerfulness in the first part of this story, though. "I smile on the inside." But Share is in the middle of a game (against herself, apparently), so she doesn't want to go. She again pulls out the rationale of needing a ribbon to be liked, so Funshine and Grumpy explain that they like her without the ribbon, and they were just happy for Cheer and Tenderheart for winning. Funshine goes on about something and Grumpy gets bored and leaves (really!), so Cheer goes over instead to deliver the big line about how you shouldn't let a game make you miss out on sleep or something you really want to do. So Share goes with them to the amusement park and they all ride the Funderbolt. Share finally admits that it's better to have fun with your friends than win a ribbon, but Funshine gives her a ribbon anyway, for being the Best Funderbolt Rider Ever! (Grumpy said it, not me.) And then they all laugh at her. Seriously, that's how the episode ends.

Part two - Bubbles
This story is even worse than the previous one, although it does get a slightly higher mark for having Grizzle in it. Not enough, but some is better than none, and we haven't seen him since episode 4. Anyway, this story begins with Good Luck, Tenderheart, and Funshine playing soccer. Grizzle shows up, certain that he can take over Care-a-lot (even though his suit needs oiling) without anyone noticing because they're all too busy "caring" (his actual words). Unfortunately for him, it's Bouncy Cloud Season, so a well-timed move by Funshine sends him flying, and that is the last we see of him this time around. But it's getting late anyway, although Bedtime is still asleep in the clouds, so it can't be that late. Still, Good Luck and Tenderheart decide it's late enough to stop playing, even though Funshine gives them the most dejected look in the world (they weren't looking, so they weren't affected). So he decides to just play by himself. Sound familiar?
Sure enough, Funshine plays well into the night, and Bedtime shows up to send him to bed, warning that he'll get rundown and sick if he doesn't. Funshine promises to play for just five more minutes, but from the way Bedtime rolls his eyes, I think it's obvious even to him that he's just not getting through to these people. Morning comes and Funshine is still playing. Suddenly he starts to hiccup and bubbles come out of his mouth. And he starts floating. He bounces all around Care-a-lot (distracting Grumpy while he's oiling Wingnut; it leaks all over) until Cheer and Grumpy catch him. Once again, Cheer gives the diagnosis instead of Take Care Bear (c'mon, writers! Get on the ball!): "You didn't take care of yourself, so now you're sick. Stay in bed and rest or you'll get so bad you'll float way." (paraphrased) Funshine is not having any of that, it's bouncy cloud season! And then he starts talking about his feelings. I hate when they do that. I mean, talk about it, sure, but in a way that people actually talk about it, none of this "Missing all the fun makes me feel sad and lonely." Especially because he's telling this to himself! Oy oy.
Well, Funshine is not to be kept inside for long, as he hears a game of tag and has to join in. Surprise thinks his floating away is cheating, and Cheer forces him back inside again. She tells him that all he has to do is stay inside for one day, but Funshine still isn't having any of it. Cheer leaves him alone again, and Funshine spies Share and Oopsy going on a picnic, and he loves picnics! So he hatches a new plan: using bricks tied to his feet to keep from floating away. Share rightly calls Funshine on being out, and is rightly annoyed when Funshine ends up smashing everything. "You should be at home getting better!" she tells him, "And not causing problems for my girlfriend others!" Grumpy, who shows up out of nowhere, adds. Then he uses a cloud to capture Funshine and flip him upside down so he can admonish him personally.
Cheer explains, once again, that he's just gotten worse because he won't stay in bed, but Funshine insists that it's too boring. Which is why Oopsy brought him a super hero comic book and a jar of grape jelly! And they all leave to let him rest. So Funshine reads the comic book, and is enjoying himself a little, but then a soccer ball flies in through his window. Turns out it's Harmony's, and she taunts him about how almost everyone is playing in the best game of kickball ever. Apparently she hasn't forgiven him for blowing her off back in The Best Bear in Care-a-lot. Funshine can't stand to miss that game, but knows that Cheer and Grumpy will just put him back in bed if they see him out again, so he comes up with a plan...
Which turns out to be covering himself with the grape jelly and wearing sunglasses and a blanket poncho. Introducing himself as Smiley Bear from Big Smile Valley, he fools everyone, except Surprise (I think. She definitely winks when she says, "We've never seen you before."). He gets everything all sticky, leading the others to hypothesize that he must be Grizzle. At this point, Funshine's hiccups return, leading Surprise to wonder why Funshine's covered in jelly, to which Oopsy replies, "Believe me, it happens." Everyone chases him, and Cheer manages to lasso him, but his hiccups are so strong that he carries both her and Grumpy along with him. Finally, after they crash into everyone else, they get Funshine down and back in bed.
At long last, Funshine has realized the error of his ways. Not only did he keep everyone else from having fun (because they had to chase him), but he put himself in danger, and all because he wouldn't rest. Cheer, Grumpy, and Oopsy are glad he's learned his lesson, but because they spent so much time chasing after him, they caught the hiccups from him, and they all have to stay inside. Funshine points out that it's not as boring together (and Wingnut is there to wait on them), but it's not really reassuring.

Now, what I want to know is why, if Funshine can supposedly turn anything into a game, why couldn't he do that for staying inside? Then again, it's like how Share couldn't share in Growing Pains, but at least the characters pointed that out in the narrative. Thankfully, the next episode makes up for both of these duds.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ugly Betty and Wicked

As a Broadway Buff, I love Ugly Betty for representing musicals, but every now and then, they do something to suit the constraints of the TV format that just drives me nuts. Like in tonight's (yesterday's, technically) episode, when Betty and Henry finally got to see Wicked and end up backstage in Glinda's bubble/pendulum. Since this is TV, the pendulum of course starts going on stage. What bugged me about this is that it was during Defying Gravity, and the pendulum doesn't show up during that song. >_<
Similiarly, from the first season, in the episode when Justin was going to see Hairspray, but the subway got stuck en route, so he started acting it out by singing Good Morning Baltimore. I got so annoyed that the writers cut a part of the first verse out of his performance, not just because it messes up the song, but because Justin's character wouldn't cut out/forget the lyrics!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I Think Grizzle is Awesome

Okay, I was going to do a straightforwardish review of Oopsy Does It, but I knew it would end up as a "Grizzle was awesome here" fest. So I'm going to get that out of the way first. In semi-chronological order, the awesome stuff Grizzle does in Oopsy Does It:

1. His opening monologue
A lot of what I love about Grizzle has to do with his voice. I'm still not entirely sure who does him (I'm guessing Mark Oliver), but I love the characterization he gives here. At times a menacing growl, a condescending sweet talk, booming showmanship, and so much maniacal laughter (but more on that later).

2. Being mean to Wingnut
I'm sorry, but a lot of his best lines come out when he's abusing his sole minion:
"Do we need to have that little talk again?" (one can only imagine what "the talk" entails, but just the threat of it is enough to make Wingnut fall apart)
"You know I don't speak toaster!"
"What? He swallowed it?"
"I loosened it."

3. Having amusing lines in general:
"One that will put an end to those Care Bears for good! (pause) Or, well, for bad. But it'll be good for me."
(When Oopsy points out that he's tall) "Of course I'm tall! Taller than you."
"A Care Bear? In my lair?" (Why this didn't turn into a song, I have no clue. It would have been great!)
"No, I'm not. I'm looking at your Care Bear bottom!"
"The rainbow! I must have it!"
"Seriously, you have no idea how good this is going to feel."
"I think the belly badges and I will be leaving now."
"Yes, yes, I know. I'm a little bear."

4. Eating a sandwich
Okay, he doesn't really eat it, and he loves the sweet pickles. But the reason that I included this is because it validates my hunch that his midnight snack in episode two of Adventures in Care-a-lot (King Grumpy) was a sandwich. And I just love how, when he spots Oopsy, he first looks at his sandwich, and then at Oopsy, and then tosses the sandwich away, apparently deciding that being menacing is more important than being full.

5. That "twinkle toes" move when he's about to take advantage of Oopsy's naivete
And his whole posturing in general during this scene. So sneaky, so fake.

6. Giving the Care Taker salespitch
Seriously, it's like he put on his best Used Car Salesman voice.

7.'Nuff said.

8. Grizzle's Bad
I've already expounded on why I love this song, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make the list.

9. Getting all excited about the Care Taker finally being finished
Like a little kid in his excitement ^_^ Too cute!

10. Not being amused by Oopsy's rainbow bottom
Pretty much my reaction, too. And the near-kick? Priceless.

11. Not even trying to hide his maniacal laughter
It's true. He goes at it even when the good guys are hanging around, and even when they're asleep!

12. Meeting Cheer
Slightly suave, a little naughty ("Careful, he squirts oil.")

13. Filling in Cheer and Oopsy on his plan
The smug superiority is what makes it.

14. His suit being slightly autonomous
This surprised me, for some reason, even though I saw it dancing with him during Grizzle's Bad. But then, during that part, Grizzle had a deep voice, which he doesn't here, so who's to say?

15. Riding on the minimized Care Taker, deep in thought

16. Wearing a bowtie
What? It's cute.

17. His knowing smile as the badgeless Care Bears gear up to give him a Care Bear Stare

18. Giving part of his backstory
But not enough! All we know is that he's been up in his lair for years, but little else.

19. Filled with power from the belly badges
Even if he can't actually use the power, it still looks cool. And imagine if it had worked!

20. Smashing the belly badge container even though he was detained by the heart arch

21. Demanding "no caring stuff"

22. Being shocked at his suit's betrayal
Same here. It just felt wrong. Grizzle and his suit are a team!

One thing that I didn't really like was Grizzle's impatience throughout. I mean, I understand it, but I didn't like it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Adventures in Care-a-lot, Episode 6

A review of Oopsy Does It is coming soon, just to let you know.

In this episode, Cheer learns the joys of procrastination and delegation, and Oopsy tries to tame a shooting star. And there isn't any Grizzle, not even a cameo.

Part One - Cheer, There, and Everywhere
The episode starts with everyone running into the town square, except for Oopsy, who has no clue what's going on. Share fills him in: the Star Shine Parade, "a day full of food, fun, games, and a big parade," is coming up, and it's time to pick who'll make the centerpiece of the main float, the Star Shine Star! Funshine and Cheer are there to pick a name out of a box, but not before Funshine ominiously states that the parade is always great because Cheer supervises the whole thing. Surely you can see where this is going.
Sure enough, Funshine draws Cheer's symbol out of the box, and she's so pleased she covers her eyes and promises to make the best star ever. Everyone else either leaves or decides what else they do to prepare. Share plans to get flowers, and Grumpy grumbles about how he has to make the float every year, until Share points out that he likes doing it. Funshine'll organize the games, and Oopsy and Wingnut volunteer to give Care-a-lot an extra clean-up. They go to a random shed to get rakes, only to be attacked by various pieces of equipment, ending up with Oopsy in a barrel.
Funshine tells Cheer that she'll be too busy to supervise, but Cheer decides to "check in" on everyone before getting to work, and for some reasons asks the star buddies (calling them Twinkers, or just one? I'm really not sure) for confirmation. First stop, Love-a-lot's house! Except that it's really Harmony's candy shop. (If Harmony's place is all hearts, then what does Love-a-lot's house looke like? Perhaps a neo-roman temple of sorts...) Harmony's trying out new candy flavors, and Cheer unfortunately tries the extra-sour one. Harmony mistakes Cheer's sudden retreat as a glowing recommendation, and gets cracking on another batch.
Oopsy and Wingnut run into Cheer at the fountain, and swap stories about their encounter with Harmony's candies, before getting down to raking leaves. Luckily for Oopsy, Wingnut has a leaf blower, which quite naturally (this being Oopsy and all) goes out of control and chases the two out of town.
Cheer plans to just check on Share before getting to work, but when Share doesn't have enough flowers, Cheer takes it on herself to help her get more from Cloud Hill. Once all the flowers are picked, Share remembers that Cheer is supposed to make the Star Shine Star, but Cheer assures her that there's enough time for her to make it while still checking on a few more things. Which is when Oopsy shows up, still being chased by the leaf blower. After being chased and seeing all the flowers blown away, Cheer has enough and makes a lasso from her belly badge and captures it. Or not. There's more chase action as Cheer is dragged along, but finally she gets a handle on it and turns it off. Oopsy is a spared Cheer's wrath only by the fact that it's getting dark, and she still has other things to check on. Not to mention a star to make.
All the decorations are in place, and Cheer is finally ready to get to work on the star. Until she notices Grumpy's garage and decides to check on his float (whether it's really the last thing on her list is debatable). Grumpy insists that the float is a total disaster, even though it looks awesome. Turns out it won't run, and Grumpy hasn't been able to get the frangdoodle unbent. Cheer wants to help, and Grumpy wants the help, but is concerned about the Star Shine Star. Cheer once again promises to get right on it once she's done helping him, so Grumpy leaves it at that. They work well into the night, so much so that Bedtime tells Cheer to get to bed (and, as we'll see in the next episode, when Bedtime tells you to go to bed, you better do it). Conveniently forgetting about the star, Cheer goes to bed secure in the knowledge that she checked on everything.
The next day, everyone is putting the finishing touches on the parade route. Funshine tests a frisbee, nearly whacking Grumpy, who complains about how he hates having his fur ruffled (a euphemism for having things fall on him, I'm sure). Cheer, having overslept, shows up in a rush and announces the start of the parade. Funshine reminds her that they need her star first, inconveniently reminding her that she never actually made it. Everyone is disappointed, insisting there's no parade without a "centerpiece" on the float. Cheer goes a little passive-aggressive, telling everyone she doesn't blame is they don't forgive her for being too wrapped up in what everyone else was doing to make the star, so of course everyone else has to step in and tell her to stop being so hard on herself, and point out the ways she made the parade possible (fixing the float, getting the flowers, etc.). Funshine merely touches her shoulder, and she thanks him for this. But she still wishes she had done what she was supposed to do when she had time. Ah, the lament of all procrastinators. Still, there is a solution.
Inspired by the three star buddies that have been hanging around all episode, Cheer uses her belly badge to make a platform on the float, and they become a boy band! Thus, the day is saved, and Oopsy falls in a barrel again.

Part Two - Twinklet
Do you know where baby stars come from? The Care Bears don't, but they do know where they're going: the Glitter Nursery in Glitter City. Apparently their migration is impressive enough for everyone to come out and watch. Oopsy, a big fan of "twinklets," as the baby stars are called, gets so excited, in fact, that he jumps around and lands on top of Grumpy, who in turn is dusted off by Wish Bear, who expounds on the event. Oopsy's banner gets caught by the wind, carrying him up, and a twinklet gets caught in the banner. Eventually it gets free and Oopsy comes crashing down on Grumpy again.
Wish points to something cowering under a bush: the twinklet that got caught in the banner. Since she got lost from the trail, Oopsy decides to take care of her himself. That's right, it's the obligatory "taking care of a pet is a big responsibility" episode. Everyone else tries to dissuade him, since no one likes that kind of episode, but Oopsy is certain he can give her a good home, and names her, of all things, Twinklet. Things are going great, until Twinklet wakes him up in the wee hours of the morning. Oopsy tries to persuade her to go back to sleep by looking at his nonexistant watch, and tries to get Wingnut (who doesn't really need to sleep, being a robot, but does anyway) to take her for a walk, but to no avail.
Later on, Share invites Oopsy to join in the "best ever" game of Belly Ball (is that the same as Belly Badge Ball, or a completely different game?), and when he goes to get his ball, Twinklet finds a mud puddle in the middle of the sidewalk and splashes Share. So instead of playing, Oopsy has to give her (Twinklet, not Share) a bath. Even later, Funshine comes to invite Oopsy to play four-square. By then, Twinklet is taking a nap, so Oopsy sneaks off to play. As soon as he's gone, Twinklet wakes up, escapes out the window, and goes on a rampage in Care-a-lot, trashing everything from Share's garden to Grumpy's garage, finally ending in Harmony's candy shop.
By the time Oopsy arrives, Twinklet's eaten enough candy to turn (permanently?) green. Funshine hands him a broom, pointing out the mess in the shop. Oopsy is rightly contrite, and promises to make everything right. Grumpy hands him a broom for his garage, and Share follows suit for her garden. Oopsy promises to take responsibility, but can't even handle the three brooms without falling over. Cheer doubts his abilities, and Oopsy himself admits that he didn't realize how much work taking care of Twinklet would be. Funshine assumes that Oopsy's learned his lesson and Wish can take Twinklet to the nursery, but since we haven't even gotten to the commercial break yet, Oopsy insists that all he has to do is build Twinklet a play area and everything will be fine.
The play place is great, but Twinklet doesn't like it. Funshine hypothesizes that it doesn't feel like "home," so Oopsy decides to stay with her in it until it does. But by the time night falls, both he and Wingnut fall asleep, so Twinklet takes off again. Oopsy wakes up a little while later, and freaks out when he sees Twinklet is gone, but Wingnut just goes back to sleep until Oopsy drags him along. Now, either they searched all night, or it inexplicably became day again, because in the next scene, Share is bandaging her flowers in broad daylight. Oopsy asks both Share and Grumpy (at his garage) if they've seen Twinklet, but both just shake their heads. I guess they're giving him the silent treatment. Oopsy thinks he spots Twinklet at Harmony's candy store, but it was just Cheer and Funshine with some kind of fizzing sparkler candy. Oopsy is finally starting to realize that he's not cut out to take care of Twinklet, but he's not ready to quit quite yet, not even when Funshine tells him Wish thinks the best thing to do is take Twinklet to Glitter City.
But he's had no luck finding Twinklet all day, even though he set up traps all over Care Square (we don't get to see this). Finally he hears Twinklet's squeaks (which he calls barking for some reason), and finds her on the Funderbolt tracks staring up at the starry sky. Seeing more twinklets go by, Oopsy realizes that Twinklet's home is not with him, but with the other stars. Wish, who apparently was watching this, surfs down on Twinkers, her star, and explains that he's going to the star nursery anyway (a likely story), so he can make sure Twinklet gets there safe and sound. Oopsy and Twinklet share a goodbye hug, and then the two stars head off into the blue.
Funshine commends Oopsy for doing what was best for Twinklet. Oopsy expresses his feelings by saying "I feel sad and disappointed," and thanks Funshine for listening to his feelings. Funshine tells him instead to be proud of how he listened to Twinklet's feelings. And this whole conversation drove me up the wall (I hate when characters talk like this. Hate hate hate). Meanwhile, Cheer tells Oopsy he'll see Twinklet again, and Oopsy agrees, since she'll be in the sky every night once she's full grown. For some reason this is hilarious. Also for no apparent reason, Oopsy decides to ride the Funderbolt, but lands in it head first and goes down the track upside down.

Normally I like it when the episodes go that extra scene before ending (like in Care-Ful Bear), but here, it really should have cut off with everyone laughing at Oopsy's non-joke. And there really was not enough Wish in this episode -_- Seriously, every time it was Funshine doing something with Oopsy (except for the four-square invite), it should have been Wish.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Grey Gardens

Everybody said Grey Gardens was good. Even Peter Filichia. But I didn't want to just buy it, as I've been burned by doing that before (i.e. Martin Guerre). I have to admit, I have found some musicals I love that I bought sight-unseen (or unheard, as it were: The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Class Act), and I might have taken a chance on Grey Gardens if there hadn't been two versions to choose from: the Off-Broadway Cast and the Original Broadway Cast.

Now, just a few weeks ago, I was at my local library, and I happened to glance at the display of "Employee Picks" CDs. And there was the Off-Broadway Cast of Grey Gardens, of all things. So of course I took it out. And not even two weeks later, I was at another library I visit frequently (call it Library W), flipping through their soundtrack CDs (they have the largest collection of soundtrack CDs I've seen, but too many movies), and there was the Broadway Cast of Grey Gardens! Again, I snatched it up right then and there. I'm simply amazed at this turn of events, for a couple of reasons. For one, my local library doesn't get new Broadway CDs very often (and if they do, it's something that's been out so long, I've either gotten it from Library W or bought it myself), and secondly, Library W is currently under construction, so I didn't expect them to be adding anything to that section any time soon. And yet, where there was no Grey Gardens, suddenly there's two.

Anyway, between the two CDs, I've been listening to Grey Gardens a lot, and I really do like it (as I suspected I would). I'm not sure which I like better, but the majority of the songs are the same on both. This whole post, though, has just been a big preface to the fact that I'm now obsessed with the song "Another Winter in a Summer Town." It's just so plantive, I can't listen to it without wanting to cry, but I can't stop listening to it. You can hear it, too, on the official website, along with five other songs from the show.
I guess the only thing to do now is watch the documentary that inspired the show. It's in my Blockbuster queue, but I don't know when it'll actually make it here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pushing Daisies - Pigeon

Am I psychic? Somehow I predicted Ellen Greene and Kristin Chenoweth's duet in tonight's episode. What makes it even better is that it was a They Might Be Giants song ^_^ (The very song that made me a TMBG fan, in fact.)

This is kind of like that year on American Idol, you know, the one with Bo Bice, and when I heard the theme for that week was Broadway, I thought to myself, "It would be awesome if Bo did Magic to Do from Pippin." He actually did Corner of the Sky, but that's close enough for me to count as a prediction. The really weird thing is that I wasn't even a Bo fan (I preferred Constantine, until that same week, when he sang My Funny Valentine, a song I hate with every essence of my being. Strangely enough, that week started a slump for him that eventually got him kicked off), but he was the one I predicted would sing Pippin, and there it was.

Pushing Daisies

Nothing big, but I really like Pushing Daisies. Watching it makes me want to watch Wonderfalls again, though. I have it on DVD, but I don't really have the time.
Kristin Chenoweth + Ellen Greene = Date with Destiny!

Also, it's narrated by Jim Dale, which is awesome not just because he did all the Harry Potter audiobooks (which my mom listens to when she's working, so I get to hear it by proxy), but, back in the day, he was Dr. Terminus (the conman doctor) in Pete's Dragon! Not to mention all his theater work (like starring in Barnum. I need to borrow the OCR next time I'm at Wallingford Library)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Adventures in Care-a-lot Episode 5

Thankfully, the episode quality was much better than the last one. I liked both of these stories, even though there wasn't any Grizzle. Of course, I liked the second part just a little better, but the first had its moments.

Part one - Care-ful Bear
The Care Bears are having some sort of playday, with Funshine going around coming up with ideas to make all the games better, leading up to a game of Belly Badge Tag (Oddly enough, it was the sight of Oopsy knocking himself over with his own ball that inspired Funshine to suggest a game that Oopsy cannot play, since he doesn't have a belly badge). It's all good fun until Share trips over a rock and hurts her paw (and Grumpy comforts her--so cute!). Cheer conjures up a rainbow stretcher to take Share home, but Funshine takes the blame (since the game was his idea and all).
Later, Funshine spills his heart out to Wingnut: he loves being Funshine and having fun, but not if it ends up hurting someone. Instantly, he is inspired! With a towel for a cape and a bandage over his belly badge, Funshine is reborn as Care-ful Bear! Champion of Safety and Keeping Care Bears from getting Hurt! First stop: the park!
Which is where he finds Amigo and Harmony about to race down the hill, her on a skateboard and him on his ice cream cart. But it's okay because Harmony has the proper pads and helmet, and Amigo is only pushing his cart. Funshine is not convinced, however, and has Wingnut steal their wheels. With nothing to ride, Harmony sheds her padding, inspiring Funshine yet again! With permission from Harmony, Funshine uses the pads and helmet to outfit the accident-prone Oopsy. But there's still more to do!
Cut to: Grumpy's Garage. Grumpy assures Love-a-lot that building her a birdhouse is "simple as simon" (I love it!), but not with all his tools gone, courtesy of Care-ful Bear! This is my favorite part, when Grumpy confronts Funshine with "I've been using tools my whole frindinglin' life, and I've always been careful!" Because that is just *so* him, y'know? Funshine silences him ("No time for yakkity-blab!") and runs off to do more of the same to someone else.
Back in the park, Oopsy trips over a flower and points out that the helmet and pads aren't really helping. Funshine's solution: cover Oopsy in pillows!
Funshine: There! Much better!
Oopsy: Uh, if you say so.
Funshine: Indeed I do!

It's the delivery that makes it for me. Funshine is definitely getting into the whole superhero persona, including spouting lines like "Let us away!" and only ending sentences in exclamation points. Nobody else in enjoying it, though, with even Good Luck Bear warning everyone when he sees Funshine coming. Funshine misinterprets everyone hiding as everything being peaceful, and is pleased. Everyone else (especially Grumpy) is getting close to the breaking point.
That night, Funshine is finishing his rounds when, not looking where he's going, he trips over the curb. However, he blames this on the fact that it's dark out, "and darkness is the enemy of carefulness and safety!" Thus he uses his belly badge to make enough sun to thoroughly confuse everyone who was trying to sleep. Grumpy easily figures out that Funshine had a hand in this, and Share, who missed the whole thing while she was recuperating, is brought up to speed on Funshine's antics. Oopsy, translating for Wingnut, explains Funshine's rationale, causing Bedtime much pain ("If it's always daytime, when will there be bedtime?"). Cheer's about to talk some sense into Funshine when Harmony points out that Funshine was quashing all their fun, it's now bright as day and they're all up anyway, so they might as well do something fun while "Care-ful Bear" is in bed.
The sounds of fun waft into Funshine's room, and he leaps into action! Finding everyone in the park having a picnic, he does the only sensible thing: he steals their marshmellows. With the picnic ruined, Cheer finally confronts Funshine, reminding him of the bear he used to be. Funshine is not easily swayed, insisting that it was the old him that got Share hurt. Share points out that it was just an accident, and Wingnut reminds Funshine of how he tripped on the curb. Which makes Grumpy point out that if "Care-ful Bear" can't avoid having accidents, why should he think he can prevent them for anyone else? Unable to argue with this logic, Funshine renounces Care-ful Bear for good, and admits that he was starting to get on everyone's nerves. "Maybe a little," Cheer tells him, but Grumpy retorts, "A little? He took my marshmallow!" XD Funshine promises fresh marshmellows for all, and then proposes another game of Belly Badge Tag. Everyone runs off, leaving Oopsy still in his pillow get-up. On another show, this would be the time to fade to black, but luckily for Oopsy, Funshine comes back and unties him. A happy ending for all!

There were a lot of good lines in this one, could you tell?

Part Two - A Case of the Grumpies
It's a beautiful day in Care-a-lot, but Grumpy is in a bad mood. He brushes off his friends, slams the garage door, and makes tons of earth-shaking noise in his garage. Funshine doesn't think Grumpy's any grumpier than usual, until he comes out, slams trash in the trashcan and shoos everyone away. Cheer decides that he needs some cheering up, but no one else is very enthusiastic about it, even when she describes it as "ungrumping the Grumpster." Figuring that he's been cooped up inside for too long, Cheer plans to get him out and about to improve his mood. Everyone else does their best to get out of "the grumpy zone" before she knocks on his door.
Cheer tries to convince Grumpy that she has a surprise for him, but he insists he doesn't have time for "any jimjammin' surprises." So Cheer blindfolds him, tells him it's something he both needs and has to go with her to get, and whisks him away on a rainbow to a birds-eye view of Care-a-lot. Grumpy is not impressed to learn that this is what she thought he needed, and goes on a rant about "pretty" (since that was the only qualifier Cheer gave the experience), then storms off to finish his work. Cheer, however, welcomes the challenge. She calls an emergency meeting to discuss cheering up Grumpy, but no one likes the idea of getting a face full of Grumpy's trademark grumpiness. Still, Cheer insists that with her leadership, they can cheer him up, and goes over her main points. Plan 1: Give him pudding. Plan 2: A surprise gift. Plan 3: A hot air balloon ride.
The pudding plan ends with it on his head, naturally. There's a good exchange between Cheer and Grumpy, though:
*after the pudding lands on his head*
Grumpy: What is this?!
Cheer: Uh, pudding, aheheheh...
Grumpy: *perfect imitation* Pudding, aheheheh? Next time, trying "pudding" it in a bowl, and NOT ON ME! (I just love his imitation of Cheer)

The gift plan fails not only because it consisted merely of Surprise Bear coming out with a flower, but because Grumpy was actually anticipating the parts he ordered (from where?). From this, Funshine hypothesizes that Grumpy might be working on something, but Cheer insists on bringing in the balloon. Love-a-lot provides the actual balloon part, by the way. But how to get Grumpy in the balloon? Cheer has a complicated plan involving duck calls and GPS, but in typical cartoon fashion, Grumpy manages to get tangled in one of the ropes, and since he dumped his trash into the basket, it falls out and makes a hole in his roof. And still Cheer is not discouraged, although everyone else is. Once again, Funshine points out that something else may be going on, that Grumpy may not even be being grumpy. But Cheer just pooh-poohs this notion and goes with something a little more simple.
While Grumpy is out getting more parts "downtown" (again, where?), Cheer arrives with a card. Finding the door open, she goes inside and is repulsed by how dark and dreary it is in the garage. She vows to turn it into a place that'll make anyone happy, which translates to covering it with rainbows and potpourri. Grumpy is less than pleased when he arrives, and goes on a tirade about how he doesn't want anyone's help. During this, Funshine, Share, and Oopsy show up, and speak for Cheer to apologize. "I guess 'we've' been doing things that we like instead of what you like," for example. Cheer finally gets it and apologizes, and Grumpy points out that he hasn't been grumpy, he's been frustrated. It seems that lately Wingnut has been sluggish, and Grumpy's been trying to fix him, but nothing worked, not even adding an mp3 player (no, really!). Cheer sees that Grumpy's doing the same thing to Wingnut that she was doing to him (i.e. trying to solve the problem without finding out the cause), and it turns out that Wingnut was just low on oil the whole time (but wouldn't Grumpy check that first or something? I'm confused). So now Wingnut's back to normal, and so is Grumpy (Cheer claims she is, too, but I don't know what she means by that). But there's still a hole in his roof (bet you forgot about that, didn't you?). So Funshine and the others promise to help fix it and they scatter to get to work. Cheer doesn't take off, though, until Grumpy fixes her with a look. With everyone gone, he tries to be grumpy, but he knows he's still got it. (Seriously, that's the look he has in the last frame.)

Okay, let me just say, I love Grumpy when he's grumpy, I really do. But it kind of bugs me that he was really rude (as fun to watch as it may have been), but never apologized for it.

Tenderheart gets a couple of lines
Grumpy got tagged!
Share is hurt...
But Grumpy's there for her
Defenders of justice safety!
Now Oopsy is safe
He sleeps in the hat, with an eyemask
They're fluffity, they're puffity...
Grumpy facepalms
Confronting Care-ful Bear
Grumpy shooing
Grumpy facepalms again
Covered in pudding
Grumpy is not happy with Cheer
Grumpy gives Cheer "the look"