Real name: Carl Padgham
Review Star Average: 2.25/4
Keyframe's Managing Editor, animation critic and researcher (and former videogame critic). I'm stingy with my stars, so don’t expect a lot of high scores from me, a profile has to really work to earn its balls of fire facsimiles.
Presently, I review animation based on how they bear up to the peers in their respective categories - features-to-features, DTVs-to-DTVs, etc - rather than try to unfairly compare a high budget feature film with a low budget direct-to-video. Call it a category concession if you will.
I hope to never let nostalgia affect my reviews, but then nobody’s perfect. My favourite animated cartoons tend to fall between the original "Golden Era" and the late 80s to early 90s. My interest in animation goes back years. I enjoy playing video games but tend to find their animated adaptations range from awful to okay - I could say a similar thing to game adaptations of many animation licences.
While I may prefer traditional animation to CGI, I can watch almost anything and think that the story and characters are more important to a film, etc, than the medium of animation used in it.
For what it's worth, I have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.
My Star to 10 scale ratio:
4.0 stars = 9-10 - Superb: One of the best films you could hope to see in your lifetime - insofar as I'm concerned, a rare gem in animation achievement.
3.5 stars = 8-9 - Great: That film that entertains all the way through, and never truly flounders, but is still missing the spark that seperates the great from the epic.
3.0 stars = 7-8 - Good: A film, etc, that is good, but not great, something you'd watch again, but might not go hunting down the Blu-ray or DVD - at full price - for.
2.5 stars = 5-6 - Mediocre: Straight down the middle, while it's watchable, you won't call it actually good per sé. On the flip side, neither is it actually bad.
2.0 stars = 3-4 - Poor: Not so bad as you cannot get through it, but you might not care to watch it again anytime soon, or remember anything about it immediately after it finishes.
1.5 stars = 2-3 - Terrible: Maybe there some redeeming factors, but they are few and far in a overwise horrid production.
1.0 stars = 1-2 - Abysmal: Practically unwatchable sludge. or as close to it as makes no odds.
Animation, Drawing, writing, reading (animal novels, fantasy, sci-fi, animation history), videogames, and radio comedies. Not necessarily in that exact order.
Animation that I love:
Theatrical Shorts, Animaniacs, Astro Boy (all versions), Count Duckula, Lilo & Stitch, WALL•E...
Also noteworthy is the fact that a review written around 85 years after the release of the short that it's looking at, is bound to have a large measure of hindsight. Betty appeared in many shorts over the years until the character was retired in the tale end of the Thirties (her last appearance being in Poor Cinderella, her only colour cartoon).
Of course, Betty is mostly known as a human, an oddity in itself in classic era animation for a primary protagonist. Here though she resembles a dog, matching the species of Bimbo, who actually is the main character of this short. While Betty became more human, Bimbo remained a dog, which, given their romantic relationship, did pose some questions, especially to the Hays Office, who had more than a few words to say on the subject of the popular heroine's overt sexuality.
The short itself, like so many debut cartoons, is nothing special, more noteworthy for the character it introduces than anything in itself. Bimbo a black and white dog, little more than a Mickey clone with a slightly elongated body at this point, is both a waiter and cook for a restaurant. Taking a order of roast duck from the large and short-tempered Gus Gorilla.
The canine cooks the duck all right, but finds himself entranced by the sight of Betty singing on stage, and getting up and dancing in tow (along with the duck, because this is a Fleischer Studios cartoon). Meanwhile the customer tries, impatiently, to ask about his duck while eating his cutlery and the table, before chasing Bimbo around.
We get a few gags related to kitchen and restaurant work, a lacklustre finale and, not much else in-between. Yet, as with many shorts that bring a star to prominence, this is more interesting historically, than entertaining. Unless you're intend to watch every Betty Boop for some reason - for me it's a archival thing - then you can happily skip a few of her earlier shorts and start with the later - pre-Hay's Code - ones where she is a human and the world she's living in is brilliantly mad.
This isn't a thing that just happened to Andy Panda alone though. Every studio seemed to create that everyman character that reacted to stuff more than created their own plots. Heck, it could be argued the Disney's own Mickey was as much as a blank slate for stories to be rebounded off of than a character that could be the instigator all his own.
However, Mickey at least had the benefit of interesting side-characters and the lush animation afforded to him from high Disney budgets. A character like Andy, from the lower budgeted Lantz studio, did not and often found himself in lowly stuff such as The Wacky Weed.
After a series of silly, and not entirely successful plant related puns as we look around a garden centre, we get to the plot. Andy has brought a flower - though he was more or less coerced into his choice by the narrator - and pretty much as soon as he's planted it, the titular weed - animate, naturally - comes to his garden with the intend of literately chocking the flower to death.
What we get is a few attempts by Andy to separate the weed from the flower which amount to very little. Andy's attempts to get rid of the weed are suspect at times (at one point he buries it, the weed simply digging its way back out again). And the weed's choking of the plant is a tad too laboured - and repetitive - to be funny.
The Wacky Weed almost feels like it was made because the studio had to make something with it's first breakout star. This was something the studio would get over when they simply dropped the panda from their scheduled short output when the studio came back from a year-long hiatus it had in 1950, sans director Dick Lundy, who was figured the only person who could make Andy cartoons work.
Andy's been in better stuff than this, though his persona's not much disproved from other shorts he's been in, such is the dilemma of the purely reaction character that he became. The Wacky Weed is not memorable, the nicest thing I can say is that the animation's okay, consider the time period and studio, but the whole thing is just bland and safe, much like the poor panda himself at times.
Probably why it's not on either of the Woody Woodpecker sets.
Watching this watered-down, animated series kind of think of how bizarre the notion of making kid-friendly versions of adult orientated films (like where's the animated versions of Friday the 13th or Child's Play). Then again the Eighties seemed to be the time to do this sort of thing, and I'm at least glad that it didn't end with one of those dreaded "knowing is half the battle" moral endings eighties shows - even some of the good ones - where plagued with throughout.
The animated series of Robocop itself is little more than a bottom-feeder that really didn't have any need to be made. Watered down from the source to the point where the networks could show it to the kiddies, reducing the plots to intellectually match what some executive wrongly thought kids could understand and rendering itself meaningless in the process. Following the generic plots is terrible and lame dialogue that rends cut-rate insults of the "Rust Bucket" and "Tin Can" vein and humdrum anti-robot stories that make it come across as a third-rate Astro Boy knock-off, but only at its - Robocop's - best.
This breed of poorly animated, low-end, cheaply-made kind of series was already becoming an anachronism this late into the Eighties, Disney had entered the fold of animation with Chip and Dale, as well as the Gummi Bears, Warners where about to join in through their long, profitable - and entertaining - collaboration with Spielberg and Fox would unleash The Simpson's on an unsuspecting world by the end of next year.
The nicest thing to be said about the series is that it was cancelled after only twelve episodes, and that there was other stuff on that was even worse; so as least it is a minor footnote in Eighties era TV. Today, it only good for filler to waste screen-time and DVD bargain bins. Long may its husk wither in the sea of forgetfulness, I can't say that it'd have many mourners.
2/10 (Terrible) - based on viewing 8/12 episodes.
It wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if it wasn’t so blatant in it intentions, as it was, it undercuts the cartoon, as does the throwaway nature of the short’s progression; betraying the fact that Lantz’s, at this point in time, didn’t have much of a story department to speak of; not that he, being very much gag-orientated than story driven, would’ve minded so much.
A great number of Fleischer’s cartoon’s managed to capture the essence of the depression flawlessly, but still held their worth in both entertainment and story; in comparision Oswald battling the spirit of depression using a hypodermic needle filled with confidence is pretty uninteresting as entertainment.
Also the spirit of depression circling the world would be impressive, if it wasn’t so hilariously, and likely unintentionally badly executed.
Okay there's one or two okay gags, Tweety being used a shuttlecock is cute, and the ending has probably the best gag in the cartoon (not saying much though). One bit is notably more as being a guide to Tweety’s male gender for those who think he's female, but it doesn’t last long. There’s a blink and you’re miss it reference to W.C. Fields, and the foreground badminton player looks like a caricature of Ted Pierce, the short’s writer.
This short is just bland filler, too focused on Tweety than Sylvester, no gags to speak of and really not that worthy of viewing. There's just seven minutes of nothing here to write about and writing about nothing is difficult.