Sunday, April 5, 2015

CARTOON REVIEW: Family Guy, "Meet the Quagmires"

A cartoon so far over the hill that it's in lunar orbit... around Mimas!

I remember ages ago when I uploaded that anti-Family Guy video during an era where it still had Sacred Cow status. Oh the fanboys that came crying; all insulting me for every reason you can fathom: political reasons, religious reasons, reasons involving taste, etc. I've heard it all. Back in those days, anyone who criticized this zombie was seen as a heretic who needed a ticket to the guillotine; I remember all the videos that FG-lovers brought below four stars back in the day. They just loved their "Cool Whip/Hwip" jokes! It was basically the Twilight of Western animation in terms of the fanbase. Every single one of them was a borderline NuttyMadam3575 or Eric Douglace.

Fortunately, its grip on the minds of college kids finally started to weaken sometime between 2009 and 2011. Chris "RowdyC" Moore and TheMysteriousMrEnter have both laid smackdowns on this show in the past and have met little of the flak (at least to my knowledge) that those who came before them suffered. For old time's sake, I'm going to take a look at an FG episode of my choosing and dice it as I had done with that have-more-than-two-kids and you destroy the world episode of Captain Planet. If that one remnant of the FG shows up... well... EAT LEAD!

Anyone who's familiar with this show knows that creator/star Seth MacFarlane always throws in references to the 1980's. Granted, I reference Mobile Suit Gundam a lot -- but the rule is that it's always done in conjunction with a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog. I don't rely on it all the time, if you notice. On Family Guy, however, it's something you expect. I'd say it's like the "FREE" space on a Bingo card, but that role is reserved for cutaway gags! But here's the most notorious example of this habit: the Season 5 finale, Meet the Quagmires.

Consider this a valedictorian spanking.


So Peter Griffin and his buddies are at their favorite hang-out, the Drunken Clam. The butt-chinned guy in the gang, Glen Quagmire, is going on about his latest exploits as a womanizing sex-fiend. Peter is upset because he can't do that kind of stuff anymore because he has a family to support. After a pointless cutaway, the TV messes up. The bartender tries to fix it, but falls off a ladder and Death shows up. When the barkeep's discovered to have just been knocked out, another cutaway joke is made about Death not wanting to be away from Mike Wallace.

Get it? Because he's OLD! Hahahaha! Eh...

Peter begs Death take him to back to when he was eighteen. Ol' Grimmy refuses, but when ESPN is just about to show a womens' pro sports thing, he changes his mind. I don't get it.

Oh, and Brian is brought along as well. Why? I guess the writers were treating him as a Siamese twin.

The trio winds up in 1984 and here, the fun begins. Everyone sees the nasally blob as an eighteen-year-old towel boy who works at a country club. He makes plans with a much younger Cleveland Brown, who in a few decades would get a terrible spin-off of his own before it was killed by the FOX curse. Peter references Hellraiser, a movie that wouldn't come out for three more years; I guess it was done as a joke, but given the historical context I'm left scratching my head.

'84 Lois shows up and asks Peter if they're still on for Zapped!... a movie that was already two years old at that point. I'm beginning to think that these references were being tossed in for the sake of establishing that they're in the Eighties. Predictably, Peter turns her down. Brian's reaction to all this: "I would eat your poo." Now, in some other versions, America's least favorite dog tells '84 Lois "Can I Wham my Oingo Boingo into your Velvet Underground?" because, well, we didn't want you to think it was the Forties!

Of course Peter's so stupid to remember who the American President was during that period for the sole purpose of a Back to the Future reference. They go to a bar where Peter plays a PMS edition of Ms. Pac-Man and Brian hits on a lady by asking her if she saw Ghostbusters and her boyfriend with an upturned collar shows up (Which decade are they visiting again? I forgot.). Brian challenges the guy to a fight at the World Trade Center on 9/11, to which he accepts.

That little bit makes me want to bring up that MacFarlane had booked a flight on one of the planes Al Qaeda hijacked that morning and missed it because he got drunk the night before. He promised never to do a joke about that subject and proceeded to break it several times. Classy.

Peter makes out with Molly Ringwald. Brian just so happens to bring up that she's the biggest star in the world right now and asks what she's doing at the bar. If you don't why know by now, you're an idiot.

Death decides that they made enough 80's references for the time being and takes Peter and Brian back to 2006. We get a joke about fat women and Peter goes to bed. The next morning, we learn that he's married to Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson stays with them sometimes. It turns out that by not going out with Lois, Fatso altered the timeline and we get a joke about Tom Cruise running from "gay thoughts".

Am I the only one who finds it funny that a pro-gay activist
like MacFarlane likes to think in terms of stereotypes?

Only eight friggin' minutes in... need something to revive... will to live... AHA! HERE WE GO!

Whew... thank you, Vegeta. You have restored my mirth. Let's go on.

We go into a Back to the Future, Part II  (1989!) reference explaining that Peter changed the flow of history by going back in time. As a result he's married to Molly Ringwald, Quagmire ended up with Lois, Chevy Chase hosts The Tonight Show...

Butt Chins! (Woo-hoo!)

...and Peter's kids are belong to Quagmire (geez, I feel dirty saying that).

Because this is a cartoon on FOX, of course we need to have embittered left-wing propaganda about how Al Gore would have killed Osama bin Laden (hiding out in the audience of MADtv) with his bare hands had he been elected in 2000. Nah, from what I understand, he'd be running around trying to warn the world about that danger with universal scientific consensus: ManBearPig!

He is cereal business!

Also, because George W. Bush was never elected we have flying cars that run on vegetable oil. Cue a Jetsons cutaway where George gets into a fight with Jane over her snatching his wallet. For some reason, they are not drawn in the Family Guy/American Dad/Cleveland Show "fart cloud" style.

The only was back to the past is through Death. However, after bashing people over the head with subtly advertizing universal healthcare and gun control, Brian says that averting the marriage with Lois is the best thing to ever happen to the world. Y'know, it's as if they're trying to tell us something.

Death! YES! Take them out! Get this show off the air! It died a year ago!

Death shows up when Jane Jetson randomly falls and plops right next to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Apparently, Death had his hands full that day because Dick Cheney killed Antonin Scalia, Tucker Carlson, and Karl Rove with one bullet. Upon hearing this, Brian (the moonbat that he is) begs Peter to stay in the new reality, however Peter's never heard of any of them and decides to try to set things right.

More Eighties crap! Yay.

When '84 Lois asks to go see Zapped!, Peter says no and suggests to see Krull... which was in 1983. Geez, I know it was the middle of the decade, but wasn't home video a thing yet?

He tries again and fails by cutting muffins.

He speaks to '84 Lois again and they make it a date. Then, '84 Cleveland shows up and talks Peter into having a night on the town with him. So they go out to night club and dance to "Axel F".

Are we sure this isn't his personal porn?

Gee, um, which decade is this? Er, the 1720's? No, too festive. The 1850's? That's not right.
This would be so much easier to pinpoint if they reminded us every three seconds instead of ten!

Of course, Death has declared that enough is enough and will not give Fatso another do-over and we get a cutaway gag involving Joe Piscapo and weights. I didn't get it.

'84 Lois doesn't want to date Peter anymore and has decided to go to the country club dance with '84 Quagmire. This gives Peter an idea... to go back to the night club in the previous picture. Same song, same patrons. The joke abruptly ends and they go to the dance.

They sneak in through the air ducts. "Now I know what a TV Dinner feels like," says Peter. Doesn't get the quote and is told that it comes from Die Hard, a movie that hasn't been made at that point. Peter jokes they could make it. Slightly amusing.

Peter's girth makes the duct give way and they land on the guitarist in the band hired for the party. Brian has to take over the guitar for "Earth Angel" and... 

Holy Gigawatts! I had an epiphany: this whole scene is a crappy homage to Back to the Future! It all makes sense! Taking over an out-of-commission guitarist's spot to play "Earth Angel", trying to get a couple back together, a photograph with vanishing relatives, a kiss that's prevented with a punch -- it's friggin' Back to the Future! I know most of its events took place in 1955, but the movie itself came out in... *groan* he did it again... 

What's next? Mr. Soapbox gets onstage and sings "Never Gonna Give You Up"?

Why am I not surprised?

Yes, this is another Back to the Future reference. They just replaced "Johnny B. Goode" with a song only remembered these days because of misleading links that go to its music video. What was by-and-large MacFarlane's fetish fic-turned-episode has become a borderline orgy with everything usable that the writers had left.

What's that? You kiddies don't remember what Y2K was?
Remember the 2012 Mayan Calendar hysteria? Pretty much in the same vein.

But back on track.

One more BttF reference with a guy called Marvin, now Rick Astley's cousin, calling about the new song they were looking for.

Almost finished... almost finished...

So Peter goes back to his non-aging relatives now that the timeline is restored... except that Roger the Alien from American Dad now lives with the Griffins:

Methinks this is because they didn't see Zapped!.

The only way they could make this episode cater more to MacFarlane's jollies is if they remixed the theme for the end cred -- they remixed it, didn't they?


Y'know, I brought up Back to the Future a couple of times because of this episode's homages to it. But here's the line of demarcation between that movie and Meet the Quagmires: while BttF was mostly in the 1950's, you weren't reminded every single moment which time period Marty went to. Sure, you heard "Earth Angel" and "Mr. Sandman" play, saw a theater showing a Ronald Reagan movie, and watched Marty's grandparents use their first TV to watch The Honeymooners, but it was spread out and didn't overtake the plot. You had Doc and Marty trying to figure out a way to get the DeLorean back to 1985, while trying to get Marty's parents back together. With Peter and Brian's odyssey into the past, on the other hand, you're assaulted with one reference after another and it never lets up!

Seriously, at one point '84 Cleveland plays an Eddie Murphy tape for no reason whatsoever!

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Eighties. I wasn't around long enough to remember any of it, but good things came of that era: it had some excellent movies, animation got better near the tail end of the decade, video games evolved quite rapidly, most of the music I wouldn't mind listening to on the way to the beach, but the clothes were ludicrous. 

Brian was just there. Apart from his usual role as a far-left bullhorn, he was basically a Mr. Explainy Pants who would eventually be the Marty to Fatso's George in the climax. Knowing the road he's been on in recent years, I'm surprised he didn't call the Kremlin and say "Yeah, Gorby, that Strategic Defense Initiative thing? DON'T FALL FOR IT!"

Fortunately, there was none of that fan-hated (and hater-hated) Meg abuse this time around.

Nothing much to say about the music in these types of cartoons, considering how they're pretty much just cues. The rest is all third-party material.

That's all I have to say about this episode. I expect, perhaps, one kamikaze fanboy will come in to defend this zombie's honor, but I don't care. I've done my part. I will leave further devastation of FG to others.

I'm DLAbaoaqu and here's a message to Seth MacFarlane, courtesy of the Satellite of Love:

Imagine them saying "Seth" instead of "Mike".

Family Guy (1999 - present), Fuzzy Door Productions
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988 - 1999), Best Brains

Sunday, March 15, 2015

LIVE-ACTION TV REVIEW: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures

I wasn't aware of the cartoon series at first, but along with that information I discovered that a live-action TV series. Turns out that it died from the two-hit combo of the FOX curse and utter awfulness. How bad was it? Well, let's just say that Alex Winter went on The Arsenio Hall Show before Bogus Journey hit theaters to advise people not to see it.

For the people who skipped the link, I'll spell it out clearly: the men who made the live-action Bill and Ted show did not use Winter, Keanu Reeves, or even George Carlin to play their roles. In fact, they didn't even want any input from the trio. After a year of production hell, the show hit the airwaves.

"But wait," you say, "if Winter, Reeves, and Carlin didn't come back, who played Bill, Ted, and Rufus?" Well, back in my review of the cartoon series, I stated that the show was moved from CBS to FOX. When FOX announced a Bill and Ted live-action series, Chris Kennedy and Evan Richards (who voiced the Stallyns in the cartoon's second season) reprised their roles with Rick Overton as Rufus.

Upon first seeing stills from the show on the Bill and Ted website many years back, I was instantly reminded of Weird Science, which I had said good things about in an earlier entry. How (mostly) wrong I was!

The staff of the live-action series clearly didn't get Bill and Ted as a whole, thinking they were just idiots and nothing more; I've dealt a bit with what makes them tick back in the EA review, so I won't go in depth now. Furthermore, the staff wasn't used to writing episodic comedy. "It's difficult to do a series where the lead characters don't grow or have an evolving arc," said Campbell. "Bill and Ted stay Bill and Ted, so the challenge in creating scripts was to come up with stories that were wrapped around incidents they bump into in their everyday lives. The idea was that Bill and Ted are basically fish out of water, dealing with things that don't make sense to them."

Sentiments like this trickled down to the actors. Because the writing staff didn't give a hoot, neither did Richards and Kennedy. Richards, the FOX version of Bill, said that while Bill and Ted were just naive, the scripts made it seem like they were much stupider than they let on; he had similar sentiments about his work on the cartoon.

The characters you'd expect return: the Stallyns, Missy, Mr. Preston, Captain Logan, and Rufus. A new character, Mr. Kielson (Danny Breen), was added. Kielson was Bill and Ted's boss at Nail World, a hardware store. When I learned about him, I half-expected him to be kind of a Chett figure who would be the butt of all the time travel stuff. This was another expectation that flopped.

Since the show didn't last that long, thanks to a combination of bad reception and the FOX curse, I will go over each episode as I had done with the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon

0. Pilot

Here's a riddle: what is red, convenient, helps people know where to look for
a source of income, and managers are too scared to use today?

The intro begins with Rufus preaching the good word of the Wyld Stallyns at the "Church of Bill and Ted" (yeah, it would seem the fandom evolved into a religion by the 2600's). This unaired story is about when Bill and Ted destroyed a $500 amplifier with their bad guitar playing. Mr. Preston refuses to buy a replacement and the duo apply for a job at Nail World. Mr. Kielson refuses to hire both of them, unless one of them goes out with his daughter. They wind up insulting her in front of Kielson's face and get kicked out of the store. Okay, time for a time-out.

The issue here is that Bill and Ted never acted like this. Sure, they called the kids in Latin class "dweebs" in the cartoon, but it had the same amount of intentional offense that "babe" had. They never directly insulted people unless they did something heinous (the knight that was thought to have killed Ted, the evil robotic copies, and the devil are examples of this). What a person looked like, in the eyes of the Wyld Stallyns, was only superficial; character was more important.

The dudes attempt to salvage their interview, but a Frisbee breaks the antennae on the booth. Bill and Ted mend it with a comic book Mr. Kielson was reading, but this takes them into that comic's story where they wind up saving a girl from a gangster and carry her to San Dimas. They correct where they screwed up in the interview (no mention of their past selves) and discover that the girl they saved, Roxanne, came from Kielson's comic... and they're now involved in the story. If she doesn't go back, her boyfriend Johnny will die. To compound matters, Roxanne has run off in a taxi.

What happens next? Who knows. The pilot ends on a "To be continued" title, but the second part was never seen as far as anybody knows. Obviously, the duo would land jobs, but nothing of Roxanne's fate is known.

1. Nail the Conquering Hero

The intro has been redone completely. No more Church of Bill and Ted. We hear the theme song a bit more clearly it sounds like "Break Away" by Big Pig (from the EA soundtrack) fused with a little bit of "Jingle Bells".

Bill and Ted have been abusing the phone booth for a nine-hour video game binge. They arrive at Nail World and slap an "Out of Order" sign on the booth. The general manager of Nail World is coming and Mr. Kielson is frantic about the situation. The Stallyns take a bunch of cans of water sealant and build a castle out of them. Kielson panics, but the manager loves the thought put into it. Kielson promptly states that it's his idea. Kielson uses the phone booth (the "Out of Order" sign has vanished for reasons of poor continuity) and winds up becoming the ruler of Camelot.

Will the Stallyns be able to recover Kielson and restore King Arthur to his throne?

"You will take me to Jabba now."

Also, since when was Rufus Force-sensitive? He actually uses a Jedi Mind Trick on a Nail World customer!

2. As the Dude Turns

Missy is an avid viewer of the soap opera The Lives That We Live. When the male lead, Lance, announces plans for sex-reassignment surgery, she is left in such a monstrous depression that she will no longer cook. The side effect of this is that Mr. Preston is now using the garage, where the Stallyns "practice", to renovate vintage cars. The only chance they have is to enter the TV and convince the main character to keep his gender. Will they become the most hated men among SJWs or will they be left without a garage to practice in?

Easily the best episode of the show. It makes fun of all the soap opera conventions you can think of: the underhanded love triangles, secret relatives, cheesy dramatic dialogue, organs, etc. If only the future episodes were handled like this, but alas, it's mostly downhill from this point.

3. It's A Totally Wonderful Life

Ugh! This one!

Rufus travels back in time to see the Wyld Stallyns after a series of nightmares involving the dudes in lederhosen. He mistakenly gets "Chicken Kiev" engraved on a plaque to be awarded to Captain Logan... and he hates Chicken Kiev! This makes Bill and Ted break up, killing the band. Bill becomes a greedy corporate cutthroat and Ted becomes a loose cannon cop who doesn't play by the rules. Will Rufus be able to patch up the Stallyns' friendship?

Out of all the episodes this show had, this episode garners the most hate from the fanbase. The idea of Bill and Ted hating each other (especially over something as silly as a mislabeled plaque) is as alien as a xenomorph to anyone familiar with the characters.

4. Hunka Hunka Bill and Ted

Bill and Ted's entry into an Elvis Presley look-a-like contest falls flat on its face. They go back in time and run into the real King, who is having trouble finding his big break. They get the idea to take Elvis back to San Dimas and enter him in the contest... and he doesn't win! Elvis, feeling defeated, tries to give up on music. It's up to the Stallyns to make sure that rock exists.

An improvement over the last episode. The dance at the bowling alley was surprisingly well done.

5. Destiny Babes

All the kids at San Dimas High seem to have a significant other... except for Bill and Ted. 

Yeah, for some reason, Joanna and Elizabeth are nowhere to be seen! Even though they only got into one episode of the cartoon, at least they were acknowledged! If this were a reboot and retold the story of the Wyld Stallyns getting the time machine at the beginning, I'd probably let it slide.

They enlist the help of Giacomo Casanova to land girls, but didn't realize that the greatest lover in history hit on women who were taken.

6. Deja Vu

Bill and Ted are too late for the school's Battle of the Bands competition... but Ted's mother gets into a catfight with their music teacher (it's a really annoying scene). 

You read that right, Ted's mother is present in this show. She was never seen in EA and it was confirmed that Captain Logan was single in BJ. Ted DID have a Mom in the early drafts, who had gland problems (fat glands).

The teacher, Ms. Pearl, is a hippie and an old flame of Logan's. The Stallyns travel back to 1969 and meet up with younger versions of Ted's father and Pearl. They attempt to go to Woodstock and get arrested. Will they be able to improve Pearl's outlook on the world? Or will she be a bitter old shrew forever?

The writers try to bring in elements from the movies: Bill and Ted "philosophizing" by reciting song lyrics (in this case "Signs" by Five Man Electric Band) and flipping the "Shut up, Ted" gag on its ear when Bill ogles Ted's mother in the past; the wooden acting, though hampers that skit.

7. Stand Up Guy

The Stallyns humiliate themselves during Math class. After being called "Einstein" in a disparaging manner, they think he's a guy in the classroom. After talking to the smartest kid at the school about who the man is, the dudes go back to 1916 to find Einstein forlorn with doubt about his abilities. Soon, he wants to give up on physics and do stand-up comedy!

Not one of the best episodes, but not one of the worst either.


I really wanted to give this show a stellar write-up, but the stuff it had going for it was offset by numerous missteps. Kennedy and Richards, like in the cartoon, gave it their best shot, but their hearts clearly weren't in it. Richards had studied the movies ahead of time and came to enjoy the Wyld Stallyns, but his efforts could not counteract the creative team's disdain for Bill and Ted. The writing staff was more into Teen Dramas and tried to impose many of those elements onto the Stallynverse.

While the live-action series will live in infamy, it had its moments. Perhaps if it were given to someone who understood the Wyld Stallyns a bit better, it could have lasted longer. Perhaps, if Matheson, Solomon, Reeves, or Winter had a say about what was going into the project, it could have done better. If it were its own thing, independent of the Stallynverse, it could have done better.


Before I bid the Stallynverse adieu, I must say that there were other mediums that Bill and Ted were seen in, like an annual Halloween show at Universal Studios and -- believe it or else -- a musical (No, I'm not going to cover them. What do you think I am, obsessed?). Most recently, the duo started making a comeback in comic series from BOOM! Studios

Oh, one more thing...

...Bill and Ted 3. Will it happen?

If it were made, I'd definitely see it. These are such great characters!
Even if the first half was just them revisiting sites from EA and BJ to reflect on what all had changed, a la Rocky Balboa, I'd go see it.

Everyone should give these two wannabe rockers who changed the course of history a watch.
They went to the past, they went to the future, they went all around the afterlife.
Bill and Ted are a duo that cannot be forgotten or replaced.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. Catch ya later, Bill and Ted!

*Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures (Live-action) is owned by FOX.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991)

Hey! I didn't need to add the tagline!

With the unprecedented commercial success of Excellent Adventure, a sequel was a most certain result.


As we've established, Bill and Ted's music prevented the end of the world and ushered in the ongoing age of peace and prosperity that Barack Obama failed to achieve. Unfortunately, 0.00047% of 27th century Earth isn't happy with paradise; one Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) wants to set himself up as dictator by sending two robotic duplicates of the Wyld Stallyns (henceforth dubbed the Evil Robot Stallyns, or ERS) back in time to kill the real ones.

In 1991, Bill, Ted, Joanna, and Elizabeth are trying to enter the local Battle of the Bands... but while the princesses improved their music skills since the end of EA, Bill and Ted suck just as much as before. Miss Woodrow (Pam Grier), who is in charge of the BotB, ultimately relents and gives the Stallyns the very last slot.

A lot has happened since the History Report To End All History Reports: Bill and Ted have moved out and share an apartment and Missy-Mom has divorced Mr. Preston and married Captain Logan (her ex did not take it well).

"I can't believe Missy divorced your Dad... and married mine."

We meet the infamous Colonel Oats (Chelcie Ross), who only got mentioned briefly in EA. The Stallyns clearly fear him.

After the party, Bill and Ted pop the question to their respective lovers (ten feet away from each couple, in fact). All is not well, though: the ERS land in San Dimas to hunt down their carbon-based counterparts.

They trick Bill and Ted with a prank phone call using pitch-perfect imitations of Joanna and Elizabeth to make the boys think the princesses are angry with them. This depresses the boys to the extent that they start watching the original Star Trek. The ERS show up and the boys think it's future versions of them and claim to want to help the duo.

The ERS drives the Stallyns out to Vasquez Rocks, reveal that it was all a trick, and kill them! They hijack a Porsche and run off to assume the Stallyns' roles.

"It's the Grim Reaper, dude."
"Oh. How's it hangin' Death?"

The now-deceased dudes have become ghosts and quickly run into Death (William Sadler). If they can beat him at a game, the two can get their lives restored; but nobody has ever beaten him. Instead of playing him, the dudes give Death a wedgie, and get away.

They find out that the ERS is screwing up their lives and are plotting to kill Joanna and Elizabeth, giving them the objective to warn their loved ones in ways ranging from possessing Captain Logan (and another officer) in order to relay the info to the police and taking part in the only successful seance ever... well, apart from the one at Endor.

The dudes' meddling in the seance, however, sends them to Hell. I would go into a lecture about how Hell is shame and not the "fire-and-torture" interpretation you see all the time (like in this movie), but I will let it slide for the sake of the comedy.

"Get down and give me infinity!"

Bill and Ted get Satan's attention (he's voice by Frank Welker!), but he sends them into a prison-like area with numerous doors. The first door leads to a German Expressionist version of a military barracks where Colonel Oats forces the Stallyns to do infinity push-ups. They get away from him, but figure that if they split up, they won't get slapped with stuff that heinously harsh. They were wrong: Bill comes face-to-face with his ancient grandmother (who wants a kiss) and Ted runs into the thing he fears the most: the Easter Bunny!

"You stole Deacon's Easter basket!"

The Stallyns are cornered by the three fears at the intersection of three hallways. The only way out? Challenge Death.

"Best of seven?"

The boys spoof The Seventh Seal by playing "Battleship" with Death... and WIN (he hid his last ship in the J's)! However, Death is revealed to be a sore lose and they have to beat him at "Clue", "NFL Super Bowl Electronic Football", and "Twister" before he finally relents. Personally, I would have grabbed Holy Water, a Triple Shot, and kept spamming him as soon as he appeared.

Either way, Death lost to the right people. He could have gotten off much worse.

The boys win the right to go back to the world of the living, but surmise that the only chance they have against the ERS is with good robot duplicates. They go to Heaven, where we learn that the meaning of life is the chorus to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison. God directs the Stallyns to the Martian scientist Station (who can split into two smaller versions of himself and rejoin at will) who agrees to help the Stallyns build the Good Robot Stallyns (GRS).

TRIVIA: During the scene where the ERS capture the princesses, you may notice piles of what appear to be their clothes on the floor. In a deleted scene, Evil Robot Ted reveals himself to be Evil Robot Bill and vice versa, causing the princesses to faint. This was changed to them showing off their metallic innards, but the remains of the deleted scene remain,

Back in the world of the living, the Wyld Stallyns and company head back to civilization to construct the GRS. Meanwhile, the ERS have captured the princesses and are holding them hostage at the Battle of the Bands with the full intention of killing them.

The Stallyns get to the Battle of the Bands in the nick of time and easily defeat the ERS with the GRS. The victory is cut short when DeNomolos arrives, apparently having anticipated the robots' failure, and tries to kill the Stallyns. He even goes as far as to hijack every TV station on Earth to broadcast their deaths. What follows is the same act that occurred at the police station in EA, but slightly more dire (DeNomolos can play the "Time Game" as well). Fortunately, the Stallyns triumph and Death pulls off a little trick he'd learned from Bill and Ted on the villain.

Miss Woodrow, who gave the Stallyns their spot in the BotB, was Rufus all along; who else would agree to letting the Stallyns play? With DeNomolos and the ERS defeated nothing can interrupt the BotB anymore... but Bill and Ted still can't play... so they use the phone booth to get time to practice, marry, and have babies.

Some consider that a plot hole, because of the "San Dimas Time" rule: for the amount of time-travelling you do, you go that far into your own future. If you think about it, nothing said they weren't going to compensate for it, they just came back for the concert. Wouldn't want to leave hundreds of people standing around with their mouths agape!

With Station and Death part of the band now, Bill and Ted end the concert with an epic rendition of "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You", broadcast to the world! DeNomolos' plans to destroy them went horribly wrong and he wound up helping Bill and Ted.

Isn't hindsight funny, Chuck?

We end on a bunch of phony newspaper and magazine articles. You can read what they were really about, but it's not as blatantly obvious as the Glen or Glenda? headline.

Sorry you didn't win the BotB, Primus, but at least you'll do the theme to South Park in several years! You'll be a lot better off than the pain Captain Logan's gonna go through when Missy leaves him! XD


Occasionally, I see this movie shoved into "Worst Sequels Ever" lists: a most objectionable move. BJ may not be as good as EA for me, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I saw it before EA! Fortunately, Solomon and Matheson had the foresight to toss in references to EA here and there so I was able to assume (correctly) that BJ was a sequel.

The music, like last time, is great. "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You" has since become a signature karaoke song for me, but there were other tracks that were just as awesome: "Battlestations" by Winger (played as Station built the GRS) was most triumphant and "Dream of a New Day" by Richie Kotzen is an often-overlooked one that I liked (it plays when the Stallyns and Co. arrive at the hardware store); YouTube the song, it's good! On that note, you might notice that the Stallyns' background songs are a lot like the EA soundtrack, while the ERS uses Black and Death Metal.

Speaking of the ERS, they're pretty fun villains. Being robot copies of Bill and Ted, they have all their mannerisms, but are a bit smarter and quite evil (they purposely try to run over a cat at one point). They easily get on their DeNomolos' nerves.

Speaking of DeNomolos, despite his real name being Chuck, he hands out revisionist history books that say that his name is "Nomolos DeNomolos". I saw one explanation saying that "Nomolos" is an alias.

Of all the characters in this movie, my favorite is easily Death. It's so funny to see him act like a five-year-old kid when he loses at board games and his antics after joining up with Bill and Ted. Keep an eye out for him telling a smoking man "See ya real soon!". 

Yet there are a few things that, when you research the making of this movie, you wish made it into the final film. An amusing scene between the duo and a demon in Hell got cut out, but made its way into the trailer (and one line into the credits song):

"We totally knew a guy who got one of those in his bucket of chicken."

The second fight with the ERS was supposed to be much more elaborate, with Death singing on stage while the ERS kill Bill and Ted again. Death revives them because of them beating him a buttload of times.

But the one scene I look back on and just wish it could have been in the final print is where the ERS use three canisters that summon the Wyld Stallyns' greatest fears... on steroids! Col. Oats is packing heat, the Easter Bunny is the size of a Wookiee, and Granny Preston has this beefed-up wheelchair. They are only defeated when Bill mans up and gives his grandma a kiss, Ted calls Deacon about the Easter basket (a subject that he doesn't care about), and they show kindness to Oats. Interestingly, a tiny portion of the beginning survived on the televised version of the film: where Death tries out bubble gum.

But that's just me. Other than those bits that didn't make it, it's still pretty good. The attitude of EA was preserved like a holy relic.

Bottom line: a worthy sequel to a great movie.

I would say that this is it for our Wyld Stallyns Marathon... but there's one more thing we're going to look at: the biggest disaster with the Bill and Ted name attached to it. We'll tackle it next time.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. Party on, dudes!

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) was owned by Orion before it went under.

Monday, January 26, 2015

CARTOON REVIEW: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was a success in the theaters and one year later, it was followed up by an animated series. Back during this part of history, movies tended to get a lot of animated adaptations aimed at kids. Sure, you had obvious stuff like The Real Ghostbusters and Back to the Future... but then you had kids' shows based on adult stuff Robocop, Rambo, and Highlander! Sometimes the shows were a complete waste of time, like that Wizard of Oz cartoon that revived the Wicked Witch of the West.

This series would prove to be a well-handled follow-up to the original movie... or at least the first season, anyway.

SEASON 1 (Hanna-Barbera, CBS)

One of the major boons was the voice talent. Alex Winters, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin reprised their respective roles for the cartoon. No jarring voice differences for the people who opted to go from the first movie into this show. Granted, not every single actor returned, but those three did more than enough. Even the guest stars weren't anything to sneeze at: they included Phil Hartman, Jonathan Winters, Kenneth Mars, and Little Richard (playing himself!).

Another good factor was not tampering with the Bill and Ted premise. In cartoon adaptations in the past, it was common to change settings: Gilligan's Planet was just Gilligan's Island in space, Laverne and Shirley in the Army was exactly what it sounded like (plus an anthropomorphic pig), Mork and Mindy went to high school, the cast of Happy Days became time travelers... it sounds like it would make for a friggin' host segment on Mystery Science Theater 3000! In this show, nothing is changed: Bill and Ted are two adolescent metal-heads who have a time-jumping phone booth.

"But National Father-figure-type dude, these are the Grimm Bros.!"

Basically, every episode involved the Wyld Stallyns going back in time to counteract a problem that they accidentally cause. But the thing is: sometimes they don't go directly to the time period they ultimately resolve the problem in. Remember, they weren't exactly book-smart, so they wind up in different places first. Here are a few examples:

Birds of a Feather Stick To the Roof of Your Mouth: The Wyld Stallyns house-sit for a man and accidentally let his cat eat a rare bird in his possession. They find a replacement when helping introduce Dr. David Livingston to Henry Stanley, but not before helping Admiral Richard Byrd find the South Pole (they looked up "bird" in the Circuits of Time Phone Book). 

This Babe Ruth "Babe" Is a Dude, Dude!: Bill and Ted's coach punishes the duo by making them clean a bunch of trophies; they accidentally ruin a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. They learn that Ruth was a Yankee and fail to find him on the front lines of the Civil War... they do help General Abner Doubleday invent baseball, though! They eventually find Ruth... and give "blibber blubber" a better name.

A Most Excellent Roman Holiday: The Prestons and Captain Logan are upset that Bill and Ted's class schedules are nothing but several "Study Hall"s and one "Girls' P.E.". As a result, the duo are forced to take Latin, but their nerdy classmates are a light-year ahead of the Wyld Stallyns. Bill and Ted look up "Latin" in their phone book (in order to get help in translating the inscription on a Roman coin from Julius Caesar's era) and wind up in Latin America before the arrival of Columbus and nearly get sacrificed.

And before you ask, yes, they also get the names of the historical dudes screwed up like in EA: they call Marco Polo "Mr. O'Polo", for instance.

The history wasn't always perfect. For instance, in The More Heinous They Are, the Harder They Fall, the Wyld Stallyns go back in time in order to find a tough guy to make this bully leave Deacon alone. They visit King Henry VIII, who turns down the duo's offer and recommends that they get Ivan the Terrible. The problem with this is 1) Bill and Ted go to England and Russia in 1534, 2) Ivan the Terrible would not become the first czar until 1547, 3) which was ten years after Henry died. Then again, this kind of stuff can be easily forgiven. It's chiefly a comedy, unlike The Mouse on the Mayflower, so a little "theme park history" can go into it. A scene where the Wyld Stallyns are forced to build the Great Wall of China in 1295 (even though it had been around for hundreds of years at that point in real life) can get a pass for the sake of being a joke, too.

They also go to Transylvania in 1460 at one point and meet Dracula, who is depicted as vampire rather than the historical one (but they got the correct time period, though!).

But then again, this is probably my degree talking again.

"United you stand; divided, you take a dive!"

The plots were pretty good for that period of kids' TV, but not always. For starters, in Pocket Watch Full of Miracles, the Wyld Stallyns forget to pick up Mr. Preston's birthday present (a pocket watch) from the jewelry store. The store closes and they use the time machine to recover an identical one he'd lost when he was a kid. After numerous misadventures, they get one from Queen Victoria; this one turns out to be the very one Mr. Preston lost: it even had an inscription reading "Time is money" on the inside. This would be okay... if that same watch wasn't destroyed on the railroad tracks when Bill and Ted went to see John Henry!

Also, in the episode A Black Night in San Dimas, the Wyld Stallyns obtain a collectible cup from the Circle K Kozy Korner, travel back to the Third Crusade, and run afoul of the Black Knight and Saladin ("the Salad Dude"), both of whom think the cup is a "silver chalice". The Stallyns escape and go to England to pick up the princesses for their only appearance in the entire series. Saladin operated in 1192; Joanna and Elizabeth lived in the 1400s. The Black Knight somehow jumped to from the time of Saladin to that of Henry VI (based on an educated guess as to which Henry was king, EA never specified)... 279 years at the very most (being generous here) with no time machine. Though to be fair, the episode doesn't specify that this is 15th century England, the caption just reads "Medieval England: The Duke's Castle". Maybe it was changed just for the cartoon?

TED: "Excuse us, most grief-stricken French babe..."
BILL: "...but are you not one of the famous Crepe Suzettes?"
Other than those points, it's a fun little outing. Sure, you may have Ted talking with Bill's voice and other animation errors, but it's alright. The animation isn't Miyazaki by any stretch of the imagination, but it suits the Stallynverse.

In addition to that, there were some pretty good gags as well (keep an eye out for Rufus examining a George Carlin album!).

HB did so many things right that the first thirteen episodes feel like a continuation of EA. Heck, they even kept the Stallyns' Cheers-style "Rufus!" for whenever Rufus shows up!


After success on CBS, the cartoon was renewed for another season in 1991. For some reason, the animation would be done by DiC Entertainment and moved to FOX. Also, they had the idea to expand the phone booth's abilities so it could travel through books, movies, and television in addition to time. Not a bad concept. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

While DiC got the rights to make the second season, they failed to get Winter, Reeves, and Carlin to come back. As a result, they got Evan Richards and Chris Kennedy to play Bill and Ted, respectively (and we'll discuss them again in the future). They at least tried to sound the part, but they failed to fill the shoes of their movie counterparts.

Rufus got off a lot worse. The funny lines are absent and he takes on a more blase personality: outright telling the Wyld Stallyns where they are and stuff like that. The charisma and humor from EA and Season 1 are nowhere to be seen.

The animation style also tends to blend in with a good chunk the shows that DiC was pumping out during that period. The HB season had a sense of personality, this was just another early-90's cartoon.

SPOILER ALERT: These are the antagonists of the final episode. When the
episode culminates in a whodunit subplot near the end, the cartoon practically
TELLS you that these two are the guilty party. 

But for me, the biggest blow to Season 2 was the writing.

A little bit ago, I mentioned DiC expanding the phone booth's abilities; it was barely utilized. One episode, they try to help improve a mock-up Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, wind up getting the host fired, and try to get him back. In another, they go into a Leave It To Beaver stand-in and bring Not-Wally and Not-Beaver to their time. In another, the Stallyns shrink down, Fantastic Voyage-style, and journey through the body of their morbidly obese coach. There were also brief instances where they went into The Sound of Music, a Sherlock Holmes story, and Rodan. That's about it. The fact that this season didn't last very long wouldn't see much more utility.

But what about time travel? The Stallyns visit Leonardo da Vinci (previously met in Season 1, but now the conditions surrounding him are different), Christopher Columbus (who they'd earlier inspired to sail west), and Abner Doubleday (and they have to invent baseball again, too). Did DiC run out of ideas of where to send them? Or were the writers just as historically illiterate as Bill and Ted themselves?

They DID go to a couple of new times, though. They met Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 during their failed attempt to change the American national anthem. Here's a game for that episode, should you watch it: whenever "The Star Spangled Banner" is played (as an instrumental or sung), take a swig.

Other times, the very scripting yielded logical problems:

Goodbye Columbus... and America: The Wyld Stallyns' fathers make them do chores and they use the booth to go on a cruise aboard the Santa Maria. Their shenanigans make Columbus give up his expedition. With America a sylvan wilderness, Rufus shows up as a Brit and explains everything that happened.

QUESTION: How does Rufus even exist in the altered timeline, or even Bill and Ted? He makes a shaky explanation that his family never immigrated from England, though. However, it doesn't explain the time machines or why the Stallyns' didn't vanish when Columbus turned his ships around to go back to Spain.

The existence of phone booths in this alternate timeline raises further questions.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure in Babysitting: Bill and Ted go back to the 1970's in order to procure Mr. Preston's old guitar and wind up babysitting themselves.

QUESTION: What about the rules about interacting with yourself (or your relatives) in the past? Sure, it happened in EA, but that was purely by accident and resulted in a Pre-Destination Paradox. In the latter episodes of Season 1, there was concern about adverse effects that would occur when one intentionally screws around in his own past. As such, that action was deemed off-limits.

Even the jokes suffered. You had half-hearted Siskel and Ebert parodies who hated Leonrado's artwork and a Sherlock Holmes who is obsessed with the Hound of the Baskervilles. Probably the best one of the season involved Not-Mister Rodger's manager not finishing school.

HB may have had that one egregious plot hole in Pocket Watch and a few historical goofs here and there, but there was at least competence. DiC's output would tend to seem like the staff just didn't care about what they were doing.

Season 2 would only last for eight episodes before succumbing to the Curse of FOX. I have explained this phenomena during my review of the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon.


Season 1 had so much going for it that the dissolution of those factors really hurt during the transition to DiC. It wasn't always perfect, but it was appropriate as a Stallyns outing. Season 2, well, if you don't watch and just let it play on your iPad as you lay down in bed... it can help you get to sleep. It worked with me three out of four times. 

I say give it watch, you can Hulu it and if you don't like that, there's always YouTube. Definitely check out the HB episodes; skip Season 2 unless you're very patient or curious.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. Be excellent to each other.
DLA will return with Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Bill & Ted are owned by MGM/UA