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."