Thursday, August 28, 2008

SSC - Rockaberry Roll

I finally got a chance to watch Rockaberry Roll, the latest SSC DVD, featuring two stories of Strawberry and her friends attempting to be a band. The first is a typical tale of teamwork gone wrong, while the second one features Peppermint trying to shed her status as the "bad girl" from the earlier episodes. Strangely enough, most of the songs are pretty lackluster, which is too bad since this is supposed to be a couple of episodes about, y'know, music.

The disc begins with a shot of the dreaded Honey Pie Pony frolicking across a field, but thankfully for this Evalana, she doesn't say anything. Skip ahead to Strawberry Shortcake, banging on a rock with a couple of sticks. She orchestrates an impromptu jam session between herself, Pupcake, Custard on bluebells, and the hummingbirds, blithely telling the viewers that they too can make music from anything. Maybe if we also lived in a magical land where banging one rock produced a xylophone effect and bluebells actually rang this would be true.
And Strawberry starts to remember back to when it wouldn't stop raining, and she came up with the BEST IDEA EVER! Despite the rain, she rushes to Angel Cake's, where her other friends already are, apparently, and they don't quite catch Strawberry's enthusiasm. Personally, I loved how Strawberry acted like her idea (to have a talent show, by the way) was the best thing since sliced bread, and her friends were all "Whatever." Angel Cake points out that you need a performable talent to have a talent show, and Strawberry points out that their nervous drumming, twanging of a curtain cord, and blowing on a bottle obviously means they have the ability to play actual instruments! She also calls a trumpet a wind instrument, which is just wrong. It's a brass instrument. Wind instruments are things like a clarinet or flute. Despite her slight misinformation, the others go nuts for this idea and do the most awkward secret handshake ever, and go to practice.
Later (no practice montage yet), Custard laments the fact that she has no talent for the talent show, so Strawberry makes her the producer. Custard gets all gung-ho about it, and yet there's no "Wait, what's a producer" joke, or any explanation of what she's supposed to do except round up some judges. Meanwhile, Ginger Snap practices her saxophone, but is deaf to how rusty she is. Also meanwhile, Angel Cake creates a miniature earthquake with her drum playing, and Orange Blossom tunes up her guitar, hoping that she won't be drowned out by the others (foreshadowing, most likely). While Strawberry practices on her keyboard, sounding more bad than good, Custard rummages around for her hat and whistle from a previous episode, and informs Strawberry that they're having auditions for this talent show, so there'll be enough characters not in the show to be the audience, (but really so the core four can learn a lesson).
Later that day, the group practices together. They create a cacaphony as Ginger Snap tries to lead, Angel Cake tries to add in a drum solo, Orange Blossom struggles to be heard, and Strawberry just tries to follow someone, anyone! Finally, she calls them on their lack of teamwork, and makes them do the awkward secret handshake again as a show of solidarity. Sadly, this does not help them get it together. Chocolate Chipmunk (all the pets are there, by the way) mashes 'record' on a mini-tape deck, and plays back the asynchronous playing, but also the harsh remarks they all (minus Strawberry) threw out, making them all (including Strawberry) wonder how'll they'll get it by tomorrow. Well, they practice, practice, pratice, but it's all just more of the same, only now it's the next day already. Custard shows up with Huck (Ho ho! Is this the return of their relationship, not seen since the second DVD?) to pick up some supplies for the judges' table, and Ginger Snap suggests a bit of blackmail to Strawberry ("After all, you do feed that cat"), but she's having none of it. With no idea of what to do, she goes for a walk. In the rain.
While she sings a song about wanting to get together, we see some of the other denizens of Strawberryland (actually, mostly just the international friends) working on their talents as well: Crepes Suzette with magic tricks, Tea Blossom and Marzipanda doing a balancing act, Frosty Puff and her penguin ice skating, and Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Chipmunk doing some kind of double bill. The minute her song is over, Huck shows up, saying that everyone's been looking for her, since the auditions are starting. Well, what was everyone else doing out in the rain, then? Shouldn't they have been at the auditons? Anyway, over at Blueberry's place, she acts as MC, announcing the guest judges. Custard, however, is getting her face powdered by Angel Cake (a bit of bribery, perhaps?) and just barely makes her entrance. The other judges are Huck and Peppermint Fizz. So basically, we have Strawberryland Idol set up here, with Peppermint as Paula, Huck as Randy, and Custard as Simon, which is proved by their judging of the first act, Watermelon Kiss spinning plates. Ginger Snap sees how good she is and freaks out. Next is Tea Blossom, and then Strawberry Jam (the name of the core four's band) is announced. Although Strawberry urges them to play together, all we get is the same track of bad playing we've heard before. Huck and Peppermint Fizz are at a loss, not wanting to diss the main character (and Peppermint proves she is truly the Paula of this trio with her comment, "..hey, those costumes are great!"), but Custard tells it like it is: Strawberry and her friends are not moving onto the finals.
Back at Strawberry's, the core four lament over how they got kicked out of a talent show that was the main character's idea; how embarrassing! Strawberry points out that they have no one to blame but themselves, and then Huck shows up to tell them that Crepes Suzette had to leave, so there's an opening in the show. The core four are at first hestitant, remembering their humiliation, but then Strawberry's all "If we try real hard," and the others are all, "Yeah, we can do it!" and they do that awkward handshake thing again. Huck leaves to tell Custard about the change in program, and Angel Cake remembers that they already practiced and practiced and practiced, and they only ever got the really bad track, but Strawberry assures them that this time it'll work, since they're running out of time in the episode. They set up to practice again and she goes on about how teamwork in a band works, and then they start practicing again. But since there's still plenty of time in the episode, they mess it up again, and Strawberry gives up, telling the others to reconvene in the morning.
At night, when the moon shines even in the rain, Strawberry wonders how to make the others listen to the band as a whole, and wonders how to make them remember why they like making music in the first place (yes, why is that?). Apparently because they make a beautiful sound when they actually play together. Strawberry is so low that she's envying the teamwork of raindrops. At the same time, Chocolate Chipmunk is practicing his juggling and Ginger Snap blows on a bottle, somehow inspired by the sound. Angel Cake drums her fingers on her table and muses on how it sounds like the rain, how she and her friends used to sound (again, I'm wondering, when was this?), and Orange Blossom, still being a hippie despite being a teenager, has apparently gotten into her stash.
Strawberry has the feeling her band has called it quits and starts to put away her keyboard, when the others all show up for one last practice session. To convince Strawberry of their conviction to play together this time, they mention metaphors based on the weather, and whammo, they're suddenly a band!
We skip ahead to the last act of the talent show, Strawberry Jam, and this time it actually becomes the second musical number, a song about working together. And the crowd goes wild. Backstage, Strawberry assures the others that it doesn't matter to her if they win or lose (after all, she's the main character), but the judges vote them Most Improved and they come onstage to do the awkward handshake. And then everyone else joins them onstage (except Watermelon Kiss has been replaced by Rainbow Sherbet, who did some kind of Cirque du Soleil routine from the looks of it. I thought I got a screencap of that, but it appears it didn't take, and I already sent the disc back), and the story fades back to Strawberry in the present. Custard reminds Strawberry about when Peppermint Fizz decided to join Strawberry Jam, about a month after the talent show, hoping for a good train wreck story. Strawberry, however, saw it differently...
Cut to one month after the first story, when the strawberry blossoms are in bloom, meaning it's time for the Berry Blossom Festival once again. So Strawberry decides to revive Strawberry Jam, despite the almost failure in the last story. Custard is not so optimistic. Strawberry hurries to tell the others, and they all agree to play again. For some reason she feels like whispering her request to everyone. Only, Ginger Snap went to beach for two weeks, meaning there's an opening in the band. As it just so happens, Peppermint Fizz shows up, and mentions that she plays the trumpet (what happened to the tuba?), and Strawberry invites her to join the band. Peppermint tries to play hard to get, but not very hard, and they all agree to practice at Strawberry's at 3.
Alone with her pet chameleon, Peppermint, exhulting on how she now has a reason shake off her past and try to fit in with the others, dusts off her old horn. She claims to be too excited to practice...I think you can see where this is going. Later, at Strawberry's, the band practices a song that the others know, but Peppermint does not, although she doesn't admit it for reasons of her own. The others are all "Wow, it's like we never stopped playing," but Peppermint is a little off. Strawberry reassures her that she'll get better, but Peppermint just gets defensive instead. They keep practicing. Later at home, Peppermint laments her lack of skill. Strawberry shows up, and Peppermint assumes she'll be kicked out of the band, but no, Strawberry has the music they're going to play at the festival so Peppermint can practice. She extols the virtues of practicing, and goes home to practice. So Peppermint sits down to practice, too, but after not getting it right the first couple of times, she procrastinates, and it shows the next day at practice. She makes excuses, and runs home. Angel Cake and Orange Blossom are getting fed up with their less-than-stellar bandmate, but Strawberry advocates giving Peppermint some time. Later, she goes to find Peppermint, and tells her about double negatives, which leads into a song that boosts Peppermint's confidence. But at the next day's practice her playing is bad enough to summon Huckleberry Pie, and she storms out. Angel Cake lays the blame on Huck, but Strawberry reassures him that it's not him, it's Peppermint and her lack of confidence. What to do, what to do...
While on her way home, Peppermint, close to tears, realizes that her chances to be friends with the others is shot and she'll always just be "the girl who has to learn the lesson that everyone else is too nice to learn." But Strawberry catches up with her and invites her to practice one-on-one together. And she gets a little better... Meanwhile, Huck breaks into Angel Cake's house, where she and Orange Blossom are practicing, with a plan! They'll fix Peppermint Fizz's trumpet so it doesn't make any noise, and get Rainbow Sherbet (who also plays the trumpet, as Huck just learned, although he doesn't say how he learned this) to play instead so Peppermint will think she's playing well. Angel Cake insists that they can't trick her like that, but Huck misunderstands her and thinks her objection is a moral one, not a physical one, and insists that it's all in the name of boosting her confidence. The girls aren't too keen on the idea, but Huck talks them into it. Fortunately for Huck, when they go that night, Peppermint keeps her trumpet on the windowsill and he can grab it easily.
The next day, at practice, Huck convinces Peppermint Fizz to sit by the window, and when she plays, it's really Rainbow Sherbet outside the house. Somehow this works, and Peppermint is fully boosted. But then a bee flies into Rainbow's Trumpet and she can't make a sound either. In fact, she blows it out when Peppermint's trumpet isn't even near her lips, and Strawberry goes to investigate. Finding out the truth, Peppermint lashes out at Strawberry, although Angel Cake tries to set the record straight. Once Peppermint storms out again, Huck confesses, and Strawberry tells him and the others how disappointed she is in all of them and goes after Peppermint.
Peppermint apparently decides to move out of Strawberryland due to this slight, and she starts heading out at night, lugging her luggage on a handcart behind her. Huck, Angel Cake, and Orange Blossom try to stop her, but she's having none of it. She'll go back to where Raspberry Torte and Lemon Meringue came from, perhaps. As she continues on her way, she passes Strawberry's house, and her pet points out the bad playing coming from inside. Peppermint peeks in the window and sees Strawberry get discouraged, which encourages her to break in and express her amazement that a main character gets frustrated. They talk a little more about practicing and making mistakes to learn and stuff. Strawberry mentions that she's seen Peppermint work hard before, making me wonder which episode she's talking about, the one where she tried hard to cheat at the pet show or the one where she worked hard to cheat at the Strawberryland Games. Regardless, she invites Peppermint to practice with her again, and she accepts. And we get a montage of Peppermint practicing alone all over Strawberryland.
By the end of the montage, she's playing well enough to surprise Huck, Orange Blossom, and Angel Cake, although they might just be surprised that Peppermint didn't move away after all. They marvel at her new self confidence, and beg her to be in the band again. Peppermint demurs, since the others are all such good friends and she's only been the "bad girl" character in the past. The others tell her that she doesn't have to fit in to be part of the band, and she tries playing hard to get again, but still not very hard. She'll do it!
The next day, everyone gathers to watch Strawberry Jam's performance at the festival. For some reason, Huck does a rap in the middle of it. And later Strawberry raps, too. Um, okay... After the concert, Peppermint thanks the others for sticking with her, and Strawberry extols the virtues of hard work and practice again, and insists that they have more songs to play. For what, I wonder, since the festival is over now, isn't it? But that's the end of the story, so we'll never know. Unless she was talking about the bonus song in the special features.
Back in the present, Strawberry does a bunch of aesop speak about practice, and then the DVD is over, too.

Behold, the debut of Apple Dumpling's aged-up look! It's just a split second, though.

No comments: