Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake - Bright Lights, Big Dreams

In honor of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventure's second season (finally) starting this Saturday, I'm tackling the latest DVD release in a much more timely manner than I did the last one.  Of course, it helps that this one opens with my favorite episode of season one, as it shows Strawberry actually getting annoyed with someone, plus, it has the largest Jadeybug role to date.
Strawberry's House Pest
In fact, it even starts off with Jadeybug interrupting Strawberry practicing "Home Sweet Home" (from the first DVD) for the upcoming Cafe Caberet night.  She's looking for some warm, comforting tea, making chamomile the obvious choice.  Seeing how jumpy the ladybug is, Strawberry asks her what's up.  It seems that Katiebug and Sadiebug are in fact, not Jadeybug's daughters (as I'd assumed), but her cousins, and they have invited themselves over a for week.  I'm guessing this is supposed to be their first apearance in the series, though even when the episodes aired on The Hub, this one came after they'd already shown up.  Jadeybug does not relish telling them they can't visit, since her guest room is being quote-unquote painted.  Strawberry offers to let them stay with her at the cafe, and doesn't suspect anything when Jadeybug does not leap at this chance, and instead tries to head Strawberry off.  But Strawberry won't take no for an answer, and so Jadeybug has no choice but to acquiesce.
Over at Blueberry's bookshop, Strawberry borrows a book about being the perfect hostess. The other berry girls brainstorm ideas to welcome the bugs, and decide to put together little giftbags and throw a tea party in their honor.  On the day of Katie and Sadie's arrival, Jadeybug can't believe all the trouble the girls have gone to to welcome her cousins, but not in a good way.  She accidentally lets slip that her cousins may not even be staying that long, but tries to cover it up with "You never know what may happen."
Katie and Sadie arrive by bus and are met by all the girls and a few berrykins.  Jadeybug goes up to greet them, but has no words when their first sentence is "What's to eat?"  Strawberry doesn't seem to notice, though, and introduces the bugs to the other girls. She explains that she'll be hosting them and offers to help with their bags.  Katie and Sadie not only leave the bags they were holding for her, but a huge pile behind them.  Good thing all the girls came along.  As they make their way from the bus stop to the cafe, Strawberry explains that they'll be staying in the cafe's upper room, when they're not visiting with Jadeybug.  But the twins comment that they have no intention of hanging out with Jadeybug if they can be near the food.  The other girls take this as a joke, but Strawberry sees the look on Jadeybug's face and suspects that they weren't kidding.  But she gives them the benefit of the doubt.
As the party gets under way, Katie and Sadie unceremoniously dump out the contents of their gift bags and fight over who has better stuff.  Mr. Longface pours their tea, Sadie demands a straw, and Katie steals one from a berrykin when she doesn't get one.  While the twins fight over the straw, Strawberry tries to tell them that straws and tea don't go together, only for Plum to remind her that the hostess book specifically mentioned tolerating your guests' quirks.  Eventually the straw breaks, which leads to peace for a moment, until the twins decide to have a tea fight.  At last the truth comes out, as Jadeybug admits that her cousins are totally uncouth.  And bad examples, to boot, as the berrykins join in, creating an all-out food fight in the cafe.  Strawberry tries to put a positive spin on it, and tells Jadeybug that since she volunteer to host the twins, she'll stick with it.
The next day, Strawberry visits Orange Blossom's store to deliver some muffins, with the twins in tow, who immediately begin running around and pulling stuff off the shelves.  She has an easier time delivering the rest of the muffins, as all the other girls are practicing at Plum's dance studio.  Sadie and Katie, of course, want to show off their dance skills, and leap into action.  Watching their crazy moves, Plum comments that they should start a comedy routine, to which Strawberry replies, "Please don't encourage them."  As the twins continue to dance, the other girls talk to Strawberry about how being a hostess is going, and are shocked to learn that Katie and Sadie took her bedroom over the newly-fixed up guest room.  This encounter ends with the twins knocking over a curtain.  Most of the berry girls just laugh it off, but Blueberry is starting to have her misgivings about the twins.
Though getting used to the twins' self-centeredness by now, Strawberry is still shocked, shocked! to discover the bugs using her kitchen tools to build a mud castle.  And again when she finds them rooting through the fridge, helping themselves.  Each time, she tries to steer them toward the right behavior, but their selfishness knows no bounds.  It's all that Strawberry can do just to get a little practice time for herself, waiting until the girls are firmly situated outside, ready to get a little sun.  But though she tries to be quieter than their boombox, the twins are soon back inside, fighting over the microphone.  Strawberry hopes that explaining about the upcoming caberet night will get them to let her practice in peace, but that just makes them want to help her out.  And by "help out" they mean screech and squawk into the microphone, upsetting life all over Berry Bitty City.  Finally, Strawberry pulls the power, and very nearly snaps at the twins.  But she pulls herself together and manages to get them to keep the power off, though can't stop them from caterwauling.
During all this, Mr. Longface shows up to see how Strawberry is doing.  In an uncharacteristically generous move, Mr. Longface offers to keep an eye on the cafe and the twins while Strawberry takes a little time for herself.  Strawberry tries not to inflict them on him, but Mr. Longface knows exactly what he's getting into, and won't let her say no. Strawberry gratefully takes him up on his offer, but she can't stay away for long, knowing that even with supervision, the twins are bound to get into trouble of one kind or another.  And indeed, the moment she walks up, she finds Mr. Longface making a break for it.  Before he goes, though, he warns her that the twins buttered the floor.  Strawberry wonders what purpose that could serve.
To slide across it, of course.  Katie and Sadie have not only covered the floor in butter, but let the juice machine overflow, creating a kind of water park for the berrykins.  Seeing the chaos in her cafe, Strawberry puts on her maddest face and kicks all the berrykins out.  The berrykins apologize, promising to help clean up later, but Katie and Sadie are not contrite, even as they are washed out the cafe by the mix of juice and melted butter.  The twins apparently make themselves scarce when it's time to clean up, as only berrykins are seen helping Strawberry out.  Blueberry shows up to help, too, and tells Strawberry to send the twins back home.  Though this should be the last straw, even for Strawberry, she just can't send them off, since she invited them.  Blueberry tells her it might help to talk about it with a friend, but Strawberry has another idea.
She sits the twins down and explains to them why their behavior is unacceptable, but in a gentle way, and tells them that she's willing to give them another chance, if they're willing to listen.  However, Sadie and Katie accuse her of being rude to them, and march out in a huff.  Their attempts to find room and board with the other girls, however, is met with excuse after excuse for why they can't stay.  The twins, having gotten this treatment every other place they've visited, are not surprised.  Only Blueberry tells them the real reason she won't put them up, and the other girls show up for some reason to confess to just giving excuses.  They also confront the girls about being inconsiderate, and it seems that this time, the message sinks in.
Meanwhile, Jadeybug comforts Strawberry in the cafe, pointing out that she held out longer than anyone else who hosted the twins.  Which is when Katie and Sadie come back, ready to apologize, but finding old habits die hard.  But they manage to get through it without too much rudeness, much to Jadey's delighted surprise.  Strawberry promises to let them stay and teach them actual manners if she can also give them singing lessons.  The twins agree, but are skeptical on whether she can actually teach them, being fully aware of how bad they are.  But, lo and behold, by the next Cafe Caberet, they are good enough to back her up.

There is something so refreshing about seeing the perpetually upbeat characters getting mad.  I don't know what it is, but I like it.

Berry Bitty World Record
Orange Blossom stocks her highest shelves, thanks to her pogostick, a gift from Berrykin Bloom.  Speaking of, the elderly berrykin shows up to check for a package.  Unfortunately, Jadeybug has all the day's packages in hand, and doesn't see the still-unstacked cans, which means she inevitably slips and drops everything.  But she manages to catch all of them except for Berrykin Bloom's, which he catches, and one that Orange Blossom catches.  She assumes Bloom's package is the vacation brochure he's been waiting for, but he breaks the news that he's not taking a vacation this year, opting instead to use the money for seeds.  This isn't the first year he's done this, either, and he says's he's okay, but he can't bring himself to look at the latest issue of Berry Bitty World Traveler.
His ennui is evident even to Strawberry, but Orange has the solution!  It seems Berry Bitty World Traveler is holding a contest where anyone who breaks a world record wins a vacation.  Must be a ploy to sell more copies of Berry Bitty World Records.  So Orange calls a clandestine meeting of the berry girls to suggest they all work on breaking a world record, upping the chances that at least one of them will do it.  They all agree that Berrykin Bloom deserves a vacation, but do they have record-breaking abilities?  Strawberry declares Orange is in charge, which she wasn't expecting, but seeing as it was her plan, she goes along with it.
The next day, Strawberry tries her hand at baking the highest souffle, but is interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Longface and Berrykin Bloom.  Since winning Berrykin Bloom a vacation is meant to be secret, she quickly covers her souffles, though she does offer them up as the daily special.  While Strawberry slices up one of her previous efforts, Longface tells Bloom all about this book he's been reading, a history of contagious diseases, including one that makes people do strange things for no apparent reason.
Blueberry, meanwhile, sends her assistant, a bookworm named Bosley (has he shown up before?  I forget), off to lunch so Orange can call up the magazine and have them send down a representative to judge their record-breaking feats.  The magazine agrees to send a judge on Friday, to Orange's delight and Strawberry's (she came in during the call) trepidation.  Going by her own efforts, she doesn't think the girls are ready, but Orange is certain that her can-stacking prowess will win the vacation for sure!  Strawberry reminds Orange that she's in charge, and should be more involved, so Orange goes forth to see what records the other girls are planning to break.  In the meantime, Strawberry hopes to find a record easier to break than Highest Souffle by helping Blueberry come up with a record to break.  Highest Stack of Books is a bust, since Blueberry refuses to stack outside (it would make her inventory dirty).
Orange's first stop is Raspberry's dress shop, where she approves of World's Biggest Dress, but doesn't do Raspberry any favors by telling her that the judge is coming on Friday.  Lemon, however, is having trouble figuring out a record to break that uses her talents, as most of her attempts have been less than optimal.  Orange just tells her to keep at it, since she's only got two days.  Back with Blueberry, the record for reading while standing on your head is a no-go.  Plum is having similar problems, as she tries to dance while standing on her hands.  Orange gets in on the "fun" which is observed by a passing Berrykin Bloom.  After falling over, Plum comments that she feels sick, which Bloom overhears.  You can see where this is going, can't you?
Berrykin Bloom's suspicions are only confirmed when he overhears Blueberry trying to break the record for reading backwards and spots Plum cartwheeling down the street.  He goes to check on Lemon, and is startled by her tie-dyed 'do, but more concerned by Plum now skipping backwards.  He tries to get Lemon to share his concern, but as Lemon is sworn to secrecy, she tries to convince him that Plum's just exercising.  This seems to satisfy Berrykin Bloom, so she offers him a mineral foot soak, but he'd rather get back to what he was doing in the first place, transplanting a berry plant.
Due to Berrykin Bloom's suspicions, the girls hold another clandestine meeting, and since Bloom is checking on his night-blooming jasmines, they have to hold it in the dark.  Most of them lament their inability to find a record they can break, and even Raspberry is losing faith in her biggest dress.
Strawberry: Where's our can-do spirit?
Blueberry: Orange is the only one who has can-do spirit
Plum: Stacking can-do spirit, that is.
Orange: *dryly* Ha ha ha.
Strawberry points out that, all jokes aside, it's important for the one in charge to have can-do spirit, so Orange charges the girls to keep thinking, and to remember that they're doing it for Berrykin Bloom.  Things then devolve into a flashlight fight, just as Berrykin Bloom wanders by, which just worries him all the more.
Once the girls compose themselves, Strawberry comes up with an idea based on Orange's stacking cans: she can stack fruit!  She proposes they share ideas rather than come up with them on their own, so Lemon takes her cue from Strawberry's former record: highest hairdo!  The rest of the girls brainstorm together, coming up with Dress with Most Stitches for Raspberry, Fastest Reader for Blueberry, and The Most Pirouettes in a Row for Plum.
Friday arrives, and Berrykin Bloom shares his worries with Mr. Longface, who insists they call in a doctor for the girls.  Orange, meanwhile, dons her pogostick to go check on everyone before the judge gets there.  She only has time to check on Raspberry and Lemon before she spots a squirrel entering the town and assume she's the judge.  Despite her hurry to tell the others, she pauses (though never stops pogo-ing) to share a few words with Bosley.  The squirrel, however, is not the judge, but the doctor.  Berrykin Bloom and Mr. Longface inform her of the girl's strange behavior, and after observing Orange's stack of cans, she asks to see the other patients.
Lemon, already informed of the judge's arrival, panics when her hairdo loses it's poof.  Plum gets too dizzy to continue her pirouettes, and Raspberry takes the doctor's warning not to exert herself as evidence that her record has already been surpassed.  The truth finally comes out when Strawberry's stack of strawberries collapses, and the squirrel tries to take her temperature.  When questioned on their strange behavior, the girls confess to trying to break a world record to win a vacation for Berrykin Bloom.  But it seems their bid has failed.  Strawberry, however, points out that Orange (eventually) took charge and inspired them all to do better than their best, even if their best wasn't record breaking.
But one of them did break a world record, points out Bosley, now wearing a nifty hat.  It turns out that he's the judge (shouldn't he be disqualified since he works for one of the contestants?), and was keeping track of Orange's pogostick bounces, which happened to be ten over the previous record.  Berrykin Bloom, though pleased about finally getting a vacation, is just relieved that the girls don't have the disease from the book, which Mr. Longface happens to have with him.  Seeing the book, the doctor reveals that it's a book of fake diseases, a gag gift for doctors.  Strawberry holds no ill will, though, and invites everyone into the cafe to celebrate with the rest of her souffles.

Different Waltz for Different Faults
It's dance class time, but before things get started, Strawberry offers everyone a muffin.  Might as well, since Plum hasn't let them into her studio yet.  Attempts to get her out are hampered by the loud music and thumps coming from inside, but Strawberry manages to cut through all that with a piercing whistle.  Plum comes to the door, unaware that it's already time for rehearsal, as she's been hard at work choreographing their routine for the annual Dance-Off.  It seems that the top prize has been taken by the Big Bitty City Dancers year after year, and Plum is sick of it.  And since the BBCD always do a complicated routine, Plum has put together a dance that out-complicates them all.  The other girls do not share her determination, and are rather unsure of their ability to learn such a complicated dance in just one week.
To stoke their competitive flames, Plum shows a video of the BBCD's performance from the previous year, but it fails to inspire the girls in the way she wants.  A rousing speech, edited by Blueberry, also falls flat, as the girls simply don't have the ability to dance as well as Plum wants.  But Plum is certain they'll change their tune once she shows them the dance, which wears even her out.  The girls, however, are more inclined to remember the good things about their dance last year, which, even though it didn't win, was fun for all of them and garnered plenty of applause.  But Plum. Must. Have. That. Trophy. so her friends offer to help her simplify the dance into something, still award-winning, that they can do.  However, Plum has a vision for this dance, and refuses to see it compromised.  Seeing the levels of devotion Plum has reached, the others agree to at least give the dance a chance, and get to practicing.
They work all day and into the night before they finally get Plum to agree to let them go home and rest.  Just one week, then they can relax, at least.  But what a week!  For one thing, Plum forces everyone to practice while they're working, with mixed results.  And before she knows it, it's the day before the Dance-Off, and not only are they barely close to ready, but the BBCD are set to arrive!  These Jadeybug clones are so in synch that they even shake hands in unison.  Seeing the precise movements of the BBCD, Plum calls an emergency dance rehearsal, and prescribes special techniques to help them all.  She gives Lemon a sketch of a "team hairdo" to unify them, orders Raspberry to balance a vase on her head until the Dance-Off, and gives Blueberry a book on dancing to read.  She tasks Orange with picking tons of Glimmerberries for their nutritious properties, and tells Strawberry to just keep practicing, no matter what.
While Lemon works on turning Plum's sketch into reality, Raspberry accidentally drops the vase and steps in it, getting stuck, and Blueberry despairs of reading the whole book in one night.  Orange, meanwhile, grapples with the fact that the only Glimmerberries left at this point are the ones too high for the
Berrykins to reach.  Springs manage to solve that problem, but how many qualify for a ton, anyway?  Strawberry doesn't seem to be having a problem, managing to cook, serve, and dance, and so Plum feels confident that come the morning, her dancers will be the best.
But when the next day dawns and no one shows up for the last rehearsal, Plum goes to investigate.  Lemon, it turns out, couldn't turn Plum's sketch into an actual hairdo, and refuses to leave the salon.  Raspberry couldn't get the vase off her foot, and not even help from Plum will get it off.  Disguising it doesn't work, either.  Blueberry read the whole book, and now her eyes won't focus.  Orange mashed all the Glimmerberries herself, and now she can't get the juice to wash off.  And Strawberry danced so hard she gave herself horrible blisters.  So Plum is down five dancers with no time to replace them.
Strawberry suggests calling in some of the berrykins, since they were on the team last year.  Plum isn't as confident, but she's got no other options.  So she tries to teach a modified version of her dance to the berrykins, but they just do what they want to do, not taking it seriously at all.  And there's no time left!
The Dance-Off begins, as it always does, with a performance by the BBCD, which takes advantage of the fact that they can fly.  Despite there being only two teams, there's an intermission in between performances, and Plum decides that she just can't go on and be humiliated.  Strawberry points out that Plum's only been thinking of her own status this whole time, when there's a lot of people who put work into the dance in one way or another.  Even the dancers from Big Bitty City have to be considered, since they came not just to dance, but to see what the Berry Bitty folks have planned.  With nothing left to lose, Plum agrees that the dance should at least be fun, and gives the berrykins free rein.
The berrykins' joyous bouncing around is infectious, and even Plum forgets her misgivings and joins in the dance.  For no apparent reason, the ending leaves the audience stunned for just a moment, long enough for Plum's misgivings to return, but they all start applauding after a moment.  The BBCD even commend the dance for its diversity, and when the judges put in their votes, the prize goes to Plum and the berrykins.  Plum readily admits that it was due to everyone's ideas showing up in the dance, and is ready to plan her dance for next year's Dance-Off.

Not a bad collection of episodes.  These are some of the few that don't feel like they would have done better as 11 minute episodes, but then again, they're all ones that emphasis working towards a goal rather than trying to solve a specific problem.  And they all had Jadeybug in a speaking role, if you count her Big Bitty City clones.
EDIT: I forgot to mention the special features.  As usual, there's printable coloring pages, but there's also a music video.  Being so close to the debut of season two, I was hoping it would be something Cherry Jam related, but it was actually an island-themed tune called "Sunshine Girls."  Which would have been fine if there had been new animation to go with it, but it was all just clips from season one.  And even that wouldn't have been so bad if the song wasn't all tropical.  It comes off more like a bad AMV on youtube than an official video.

Misc. Screenshots
Welcome Banner
Dance-Off Judges


romomma1011 said...

I'm so glad I found your blog! My 3 year-old is in love with Strawberry Shortcake and I've been trying to collect all the movies for her. Do you know when the first season of Berry Bitty Adventures will be released? Thanks so much!

The Zany Bishojo Evalana said...

I doubt that there will be a box set, but so far 12 episodes of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures have been released over 4 DVDs (Berryfest Princess Movie, Glimmerberry Ball Movie, Putting on the Glitz, and Bright Lights, Big Dreams). The next DVD, Blooming Berry Garden, will be out sometime next spring.