Friday, October 31, 2014

Decemberween in July on Halloween!

First things first, to address the elephant in the room – there’s actually been three Homestar updates between my previous post and this one. If you haven’t seen those yet, then holy crap dude, check them out. But yeah, with previous updates (or signs of life), I’ve started my posts by reviewing the new toons, just to be on-topic and whatnot. But in this case, since the site seems to be getting back into a semi-regular groove, I don’t really feel the need to do that yet. I’m just going to keep truckin’ along with my 2004 material, and assuming I manage to keep this blog going for long enough, I’ll eventually be getting to the 2014 material sometime around the time that SBEmail 300 gets released. So with that not-actually out of the way, the next toon for me to check out is the main reason I’m forcing myself to write this before November (so I can have that awesome post title) – Decemberween In July.

It's not just for email anymore!
Well, this is something different. As I completely failed to point out, 2003 didn’t actually have a Decemberween toon of any kind. This was because Mike and Missy got married around that time, and they didn’t have enough time to put together anything major. A few ideas were tossed around, and so this collection of shorts is basically what those ideas turned into. The menu itself doesn’t really need any comment, but I’ll mention something anyway. It’s based on an old Strong Bad Email menu (which I might have linked to at some point, I don’t remember, but here it is again anyway), and much like that one, there’s a secret if you click on a specific light. Except in this case, it’s actually something pretty major, so I’ll have to go over that. Let’s actually start with that one – click the green light above the “w” in Decemberween and you’ll find Homestar vs. Little Girl.

"I want ... a special!" ... "A space show?"
This thing has no right to be as funny as it is. Generally the puppet toons rank between mediocre and not-so-great in my opinion, but I’ve always loved this one. Matt ad-libbing Homestar while playing off of Little Girl’s general cuteness and strange responses equals instant comedy. For the record, her name is Astrid Renee, and she’s Matt and Mike’s niece. She also appeared in that weird “Matt cake” from the Message Bored, and coined the names “Gron Sad” and “Graw Mad”. But anyway, getting back to the toon, I’d list my favorite parts, but it would pretty much just be me quoting the entire thing. If I had to pick one best line from it, it would be “it sounds like funny, but it’s not”, though “I like space show DVDs the best” comes close if only because of the callback. One interesting thing to point out about this toon is that while this one is an Easter egg, it actually spawned a few sequels, which were not. So Homestar vs. Little Girl 2 is just sort of found in the Toons menu normally with no obvious original in sight. It’s interesting to think that now, “Little Girl” is ten years older than she was in this toon, and could be part of a squad of teen girls. But hopefully not one that does the stupid kind of crap exhibited in Teen Girl Squad Issue #6.

Lion's mouth, plus Decemberween present, divided by peer pressure, times height, equals ... TRIPLE SALCHOW!
Eh. Not one of the better TGS issues, in my opinion. The first half was a bit too redundant, and the second half had some funny bits, but was still not quite up to par with previous issues. I can’t complain too much, since this was only one of several Decemberween shorts released all at the same time, but as a TGS on its own, it falls a bit flat. As a random bit of trivia, there's actually two versions of this on the site - one for the TGS menu, and one for the Decemberween in July menu. The only difference between them seems to be the page title and where the "back" button at the end leads.And… yeah, that’s about all I can say about this one.  Not sure what was up of the wave of babies, but it doesn’t deserve much of my attention. So I’ll just move on to That Time of Year (just called “Kid’s Book” on the menu).

"Erweenga" is the name of the striped worm. Get dead, kid.
Just like the original kid’s book email, I think this thing is awesome. Like with most other genuinely funny shorts, there’s not much I can really add to this in terms of intelligent discussion. I just think the concept of drawing over an innocent story and making it incredibly mean-spirited and violent is hilarious. This one also takes a bit of a step beyond the original “Everyone is Different” by having alternate versions of some of the pages. I guess they just had a lot of funny ideas and couldn’t choose between them. Speaking of which, there’s an unused alternate version of the “robots bursting out of people” page that appears for a single frame in the official Youtube version of this toon, which I went ahead and made the sample screenshot for this one. I was going to go with “Greta is feeding the mouse bug spray”, but this way I don’t have to link to a second image. Huzzah. So, are you ready for another SBEmail callback? Good, because here’s Cactus Coffee and the No Tell Motel.

What's not to understand? Eh! Steve!'s mouth exploded the universe, and that blond guy did a tiny, tiny dance.
…or just “Decemberween Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes”, according to the HR Wiki, but if the previous toon can be called That Time of Year, after the book, then whatever. There’s no consistency there. So… this is the first appearance of the Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes gang since the original crazy cartoon SBEmail/PBTC toon, unless you count the Main Page based on it. And off the top of my head, I can only think of two other times in the future that they’ll show up again (other than random Eh! Steve cameos, which happen from time to time). It’s not a major mainstay of the Homestar series as a whole, and Strong Bad pretty much explains why. It doesn’t make any sense. It can be funny for very short bursts like this one, but that’s about it. I do like how they brought back Ready For Primetime from the haircut email. That was a nice addition. Also, the demo that Keyboard Strong Bad plays here was totally on a keyboard that I actually owned back in the day. I thought that was pretty neat when I first watched this. But anyway, there’s two shorts left, and both of them are kind of weak, so I’m just going to tackle them both at once. Let’s wrap this up with Homestar and the Nice Present and Seasonal Sweaters. 

Seasonal sweaters, with presents and bows, snowmen and trees, and sometimes a bell (a bell!)

So then Marzipan says I'm projecting my problems. You know, how can a guy deal with that?

Definitely not ending on a high note here. I’m not sure why Homestar vs. Little Girl was hidden, and yet the Santam’n toon was displayed normally, since the former is far superior. I can’t really pinpoint anything there that was actually funny, except for the very beginning when Homestar tackles the present and tears it open, which was at least somewhat amusing. Other than that… pass. Then we have Seasonal Sweaters, which in pretty much any other context would be a standalone Easter egg that doesn’t really need its own specific mention, but it is technically a separate toon with its own page, so I have to at least address it. It’s basically the “Oh Yeah Yeah” thing from the marzipan email, and the best thing I can pinpoint about it is the terrible shapetween that I captured in the screenshot to be preserved for posterity. Also, it’s worth noting that it was actually added to the Decemberween in July menu a week after the rest of it was put up. Not sure why they felt the need to tack it on, but I suppose it’s not hurting anybody. I’d just much rather watch a music video that isn’t terrible, such as the big Homestar/TMBG collab, Experimental Film.

I already know the ending, it's the part that makes your face implode. I don't know what makes your face implode, but that's the way the movie ends.
I probably won’t be able to do this toon the justice it deserves, since this is a really nice animation to go along with a really nice song. Obviously the song is by They Might Be Giants, in their third and largest collaboration with the Homestar series. This actually is an official music video for the song (I’m not sure if it’s the only one), and it has aired on TV. It’s definitely cool to see Homestar leak into the mainstream every once in a while like that. Now, I suppose I should probably talk about the animation a bit, since I can’t claim to know the inspiration for the actual song, and I’m not going to try and argue its significance or meaning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much just about making a pretentious experimental film and thinking it’s going to be great, when it most likely isn’t. From the little I know about TMBG, I don’t think they’re really the type of band to put deep metaphors in their work. I could be wrong, so don’t get offended if I am – I haven’t looked into this at all, since that’s not really my focus here. But I can talk about the video.

I enjoy the blend between Strong Sad’s titular experimental film (not the last one he’ll make, either, if you look way into the future at SBEmail 203) and The Cheat’s usual sloppy style. If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a hidden commentary track that plays over the music video if you click on the credits at the beginning. During the commentary, Strong Sad points out some of the symbolism of the two different worlds and “Rondell’s transformation into a new man”, which I’m pretty sure is just more bogus symbolism that they made up to make it sound deep. The “fantasy and reality colliding” part does make sense in terms with the visuals, but I still don’t think it actually has anything to do with the song. All in all, I think the commentary is more of a reinforcement of the idea that the song is really just supposed to be about an experimental film that tries to be overly artsy and doesn’t really make any sense.

But whatever. I like the animation, I like the song, and I like the commentary. As long as it doesn’t make my face implode (or “implood”, as they pronounce it), I’m fine with it. And like I said earlier, I probably didn’t do it justice, but I’m not a music buff, nor do I claim to be one. So I’mma move on to the next toon, a SBEmail called pom pom. And wait a second, wasn’t that one about… oh. OH. Well, crap. Let me rewatch that one.

I'm pretty sure I didn't get the everloving snot beat out of me and that Pom Pom exploded in a big fiery ball that was visible from space.
Well, I wasn’t going to talk about any of the new toons yet, but this email is highly relevant to the 2014 Halloween toon that just came out, so I have to at least mention it. This is going to be spoilery if you haven’t seen it yet, but I assume most people have. If you haven’t, go see it now, I’ll wait.

Ok, we good? So… I feel stupid for asking this, but is Pom Pom actually dead now? Normally I wouldn’t think much about Homestar “canon”, since things are rarely consistent between cartoons, but I don’t remember a time that they’ve just flat-out killed off a character in a non-hypothetical situation like that. Homsar’s been crushed by a heavy lourde, dropped off a cliff, and wasted away (in homsar, cliffhangers, and A Decemberween Mackerel, respectively), but he’s, well, Homsar. And he’s apparently still fine in I Killed Pom Pom. And to be fair, Pom Pom’s still ok at the very end of that toon too, but that’s just the “stand around and face the camera” scene, which doesn’t necessarily count. So I assume that he’s coming back, but you never know. He hasn’t exactly done much in the series in ... ever, and this could be the start of a new storyline or something. Those don’t happen often in this series, but they’re not unheard of.

I’m going to assume that Pom Pom’s ok until further notice. Still a weird coincidence that I happened to reach this email on the very day that toon came out, though. But anyway, back to the subject at hand. Strong Bad gets an email (I know, right?) that asks what would happen if he murdered another character, and he just kind of rolls with it. I’m a bit concerned with the fact that he doesn’t seem to have any issue with testing it out, so I guess it’s a good thing that he isn’t the most competent person to take on the task.

I can’t really think of anything else to say about the main subject of the email, so instead, let’s focus on some minor, unimportant stuff. Like the fact that Strong Bad can’t type well with a blindfold even though he’s an extremely fast typist otherwise (and therefore can obviously type without looking at the keys) and has managed to type things with his feet and head before. And during the “email card game” Easter egg, Monkeydude (the sender of the crazy cartoon email) is represented by Monkey D, which is actually a different thing entirely. Given the subject of that email, I think this would actually be a good stopping point for now, but instead, I’ll end it on a preview of things to come. Not much of one, since I assume most people reading this are very familiar with the series, but I still hope that there’s some newbies out there who are using this as a way to progress through an otherwise daunting amount of material. But yeah, here’s the Peasant’s Quest Preview.

From the company that made that game "TROGDOR!", and that game "Rabbit Algebra", comes a graphical text adventure of rather large proportions.
This trailer succeeds on two different levels. It manages to make fun of really old games like this and the hardware that they would run on, while simultaneously getting you excited to play it, despite how crappy it looks. Because hey, it’s not actually crappy if it’s meant to be that way, right? The joys of “retreaux” games. (Does anyone actually use that word?)

I’m finding it difficult to comment on the preview very much, because unlike most commercial-type toons, this is a legitimate trailer for something that exists, and so I can’t really point out something like “that part with the ‘throw baby’ command was hilarious”, because that’s an actual thing that you do in that game. Speaking of that specific moment though, I’m reasonably sure that it was included in this preview specifically because nobody would have figured it out otherwise. As far as completely new content is concerned, there’s the short clip of “Rabbit Algebra”, which is a funny concept, and there’s some shots of the game being played or developed on actual old computers. And also bad moustaches. I am a fan of the conversation from the Easter egg at the end, particularly the last line – “I’m supposed to release a video computer game on TV without this graphic.” I’m not sure that even he knew what that was supposed to mean.

But that’ll be it for now. As you can tell from the fact that I just covered the preview, Peasant’s Quest is coming up soon. I’m not sure if I should record a fresh playthrough of that. I did already contribute to a Let’s Play of it back in the day, guiding my now-wife (who I had just met like, a couple days before making that video) through the game blind. I probably said about everything that I wanted to back in that series, so there’s probably not any need to record a separate thing for it. And speaking of videos of Homestar games, I do actually have the footage for Thy Dungeonman II still (at least, I did last time I checked, hopefully it hasn’t been deleted for real this time), I just haven’t done anything with it. So maybe I’ll actually edit that thing together and put that up next time. Until then, keep an eye on the official site for new updates! Hopefully they’ll still continue at a decent pace.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Episode XXXIV: Return of the Spinoffs (not commercial free)

In the last set of toons I covered, we saw the return (or continuation, since it wasn’t a very long gap between release dates) of SBEmail, plus the start of a new series, the Cheat Commandos. Clearly the site isn’t slowing down any time soon, as we can see in some of the following toons. These manage to follow up on quite a few different aspects of the site, and as start a bit of new stuff too. To begin, here’s a bit of puppet stuff, taken in a new direction for somewhat of a miniseries. Here’s Puppet Jam.

Why was I stapled to the chicken? I don't know, man!
(links to individual videos in text)
I’m not gonna lie, I’m not terribly fond of these. I don’t think most people were, honestly. But I’m not going to completely write them off either. To start, there are actually seven Puppet Jam shorts, four of which are on the site, and three which are DVD exclusive. So here we have Bad Jokes, Tropical Lazor Beams, Vitamins/Celebrities, and Mission Control. These were released once per week alongside other updates, as a bit of bonus material. Mission Control was actually referred to as “The Lost Puppet Jam” because it was given an entry on the Toons menu at one point, but it was never actually linked to. The link was taken down after a bit, and then it was added properly a few weeks later.

But that’s enough about the history, so what are these things anyway? Well, they’re pretty much what they look like – jam sessions with They Might Be Giants and the Homestar puppet. All four of them consist of Homestar singing nonsensical (and probably ad-libbed) lyrics to TMBG’s free-style music. Out of the four, none really stand out as the “best” to me, but I’d say that Tropical Lazor Beams is probably the best overall song, and Vitamins/Celebrities is the funniest. Overall though, I can’t say I’m very impressed. I won’t complain about them being lackluster updates though, when they were never meant to be anything more than bonus material. They do have their moments, just nothing hilarious.

It’s worth mentioning here that the DVD versions of these are actually a bit longer. Bad Jokes in particular was originally about twice as long, it was just cut short for the website. Remember that even though these small, low-quality video files look like nothing now, tons of people in 2004 were still on dial-up internet, and so having HD (or even decent-looking SD) files wasn’t a very good option. That was made especially evident with a certain live-action trailer to come in a future update. But since I have nothing else to really say about these, I’d much rather go over a personal favorite of mine, Cheat Commandos…O’s.

New Cheat Commandos...O's...O'sy O's...sugar cereal, is a delicious part of this complete delicious breakfast! And take some vitamins too!
Add this to the list of toons that I basically have memorized. I love Cheat Commandos, I love TBC’s work with fake commercials, and this thing generally has a lot of quotable lines, so you really can’t go wrong here. I remember being very pleasantly surprised that this was the weekly update so shortly after the original Cheat Commandos, if only because it confirmed that it was going to be an ongoing thing. The fact that the toon itself is genuinely funny was almost just a bonus at that point, but it definitely cemented the idea of this being an awesome sub-series.

So let’s take a look at what makes this toon awesome. Ignore the product placement for a minute, and just focus on the normal cartoon portion of it. So three of the Commandos (plus Firebert, apparently, who shows up in like, one shot later on and doesn’t do anything) are searching for Blue Laser’s Secret Desert Headquarters. They’re not in just a desert though, but rather, a secret desert. Fightgar is the only one complaining about the heat even though he’s pretty much naked. And the only reason they’re looking in the first place is because Gunhaver remembers hearing about it on the news. It turns out that there was in fact a headquarters there at one point, but it was relocated to the Blue Laser Commander’s nana’s backyard. The Commandos find it anyway and feel the need to stop their barbeque, and then a grill randomly explodes and some minions come down on parachutes. Excellent.

The cereal itself is great because the name makes no sense (as Fightgar points out on the box itself, the pieces of cereal aren’t even shaped like O’s), and it is meant to be eaten with massive amounts of dessert/candy items. Honestly, that’s not much dumber than the typical “complete breakfast” shown in actual commercials, where you’re meant to eat the cereal with not only some toast, but a separate glass of milk (since the milk in the bowl clearly isn’t enough), and a piece of fruit, AND a glass of juice. I might be exaggerating slightly, but I swear I saw a commercial that showed that much redundant crap with it.

So yeah, if you haven’t gathered this yet, I enjoyed this toon, and have watched it a crapton of times. On the other hand, I don’t remember much of the next email, replacement, so let’s see what that’s all about.

Here lies Strong Bad - checking emails and kicking Cheats in the hereafter. Buried with his hundred girlfriends and like, a jllion dollars. Please don't dig up the grave.
I’m pleasantly surprised by this one. For some reason, I remember it not being all that funny, but there were a lot of great moments here. I haven’t done a bullet point list in a while, and since this email was pretty much a series of weird moments with not much else to talk about, then why the heck not.
  •  The opening of “our next show is a family show. It … is… the email.” is one of my favorite openings. There’s a lot of good ones, but this one stands out for sounding like it’s trying to be a reference to some actual intro to a show, and then it just kind of peters out.
  •  The Cheat is always adorable when he’s wearing some kind of costume, and the Wal-Mart jacket in this email is no exception. I also rather enjoyed him standing in a cardboard box with his picture drawn on the side of it.
  •  Homestar consistently topped himself after each scene. The repeated “crapface” insults were pretty good, it made an unexpected return in the later scene with cardboard box The Cheat, and then at the end he just randomly gains a spotlight and starts singing “And then I put it on my faaaace”. No idea what that song was supposed to be about, but I love it.
  •  Coach Z was alright here, nothing special. I like how terrible his dance was, particularly since this was so shortly after the “Hip Hop Dance” music video. Bubs brought back a dance from the old game he starred in, but his shining moment in this email was definitely the weird way he started attacking Strong Bad behind the couch.
  •  Marzipan’s first scroll button song actually did get used on the SBEmail menu a bit later on.
  •  “Okay, Strong Sad – Strong Sad’s on the couch, watching TV. What do you do?” “Go make him some hummus!” “Hummus? No, try something else!” “Uh… give him a foot massage!” “… Those are NOT feet!” … I have nothing to add to this, it’s perfect as it is.
I think that covers everything pretty well. I try to avoid “this was a funny part, and this was another funny part, and this was another funny part” style reviews when possible, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. And it might be unavoidable with the next one too, because it looks like I’m gonna have to jump! …
*awkward pause*
… Because it’s dangeresque 3.

Ugh, I told you guys already I'm not going to be in your stupid movie!
Well, kind of. That’s the name of the email, anyway. Instead, we get a “remastered” version of Dangeresque 1. And while I enjoy this email thoroughly, I’m gonna be “that guy” and point out the one issue with it. This movie has way too many references to Dangeresque 2 for it to actually be the first movie in the series. Yes, you could argue that it was the other way around, but it just doesn’t feel like that. If anything, the title (“Dangeresque, Too?”) kind of gives it away. And as I mentioned in the review of stunt double, this one has way more of an actual story and (and despite this, still fails to have a story that makes sense, but that’s not the point) than Dangeresque 2. Unnecessary complaints aside, this is definitely a good follow-up to stunt double. I do like how it’s more like an actual action/spy movie, instead of just a series of unrelated clips.

So let’s be overly analytical for a minute and try to figure out the plot of this movie, even though the fact that it makes no sense is kind of the point. Most of it is actually pretty straight-forward. Dangeresque needs to stop Perducci, the bad guy, from doing … something. I’ll get back to that in a bit. He’s called to the office by Renaldo, meets Dangeresque Too, who is apparently only needed because he knows that Perducci is in Instanbul. Not sure why he couldn’t have just told them that, then. So the two Dangeresques have the typical “buddy cop” rivalry for a bit, then team up to take out Perducci on top of a building. Pretty basic stuff. The part where it gets weird is Perducci’s motivation and overall goal. Apparently he’s prevented some kind of serum from being transported, and if the serum doesn’t reach its destination, “they” will kidnap Cutesy Buttons. I’m not sure who “they” is referring to in this context. Not Perducci, right? I assume it’s someone else. But yeah. After defeating him (or rather, defeating Killingyouguy, and then Perducci just kind of buggers off or something), Cutesy Buttons is saved, and is found drinking the serum, which is just a glass of iced tea. So was she the one who needed it then? Was she poisoned? Why would she be kidnapped if it wasn’t delivered to her? Just… aaagh.

Let's get one thing straight, meatball... face... butt: I work alone. 'Cept when I work with Renaldo... which is all the time.
Moving away from the storyline, since it’s impossible to decipher, this movie also has some pretty great use of props and ““““special”””” effects. The VCR being used as a car phone was pretty great, as was The Cheat running back and forth moving a bush to simulate the Gremlin’s movement. Strong Sad returns as the stunt double (and “Hot Tub”, apparently), and The Cheat reprises his role as “the popular vote” from A Decemberween Pageant, and also manages to make a vague They Might Be Giants reference. (I refuse to believe that the mention of Instanbul so soon after the Puppet Jams were recorded is a coincidence). The part where they climb up the building is, of course, handled perfectly. It would have been funny on its own, but Homestar’s glasses falling off was an excellent touch. I think my favorite part though is probably the fact that they actually painted Strong Mad black for that one scene. It’s weird, because they were able to have the King of Town in silhouette perfectly fine in the scene immediately before that one.

I could go on a while about every part of this, but most of it doesn’t really need to be restated. At least not any more than what I’ve already said. I will mention that Homestar avoids using the word “God” though, which is … I’m not sure what to call it. I’d almost call it being overly PC, but maybe TBC were just raised to not say stuff like that, and so it’s basically along the same lines as not allowing swears on the site. It’s somewhat in contrast to the weirdness from A Holiday Greeting though, and I know that they have said “god” on the site in other contexts, such as in the hygiene email that we’ll get to eventually. But enough of that. Homestar also yells “the pipes are broken” before doing his hurricane kick, which is as good of an interpretation as any when it comes to what the crap Ryu actually says when he does that move in Street Fighter II. But seriously though, I should probably move on, so let’s check what my favorite minor character is up to in Senor Mortgage.

We can help you get a leg up on the pile! Low rates, percent signs... I dunno...
I actually had no idea that this came out so close to Cheat Commandos … O’s. It’s just weird realizing that two of my favorite and most quoted toons on the website were released only about a month apart. As I just said earlier, I love the fake commercials, and I love Senor Cardgage in general, so you really can’t go wrong with combining the two. And while this one’s not as “out there” as the cereal ad was, it still keeps the perfect blend of emulating the source material and throwing in the occasional bit of weirdness to keep it funny.

Back when I was talking about kind of cool, I mentioned that Senor Cardgage was in sort of a weird position for a while, where people thought that he was just a character that Strong Bad made up, but then this toon sort of questioned that. The description of it on the Toons Menu is “Wait, is Senor Cardgage real!?!”, so even the Chapmans weren’t quite sure at the time. I’m glad they decided to bring him back though, because his general mannerisms are just hilarious to me.

I realize I haven’t said much about the actual toon at this point, but as with most of the other ones that I find no fault with, there’s really not that much to say. I found pretty much every part of it funny, especially the ridiculously long phone number at the end. In fact, I enjoyed this enough to actually make a fake business card based on it for a school project. I don’t really remember the assignment that well, but I’m pretty sure we were specifically supposed to make a business card using this one particular vector-based drawing program. You can see what I came up with below. But anydangway, there’s one last email I want to cover in this segment, and then I’ll consider this a decently-sized update. But first, Main Page 21.

Well... my head a splode.
As with any Main Page, there’s not much I really need to talk about, but this is one of the cooler ones so far. It’s a nice follow-up to the Atari-based Main Page 13, with some cool visuals and an interesting voice filter. It also took me longer than I’d like to get a screenshot of this page with almost all of the different visual effects going on at once. So after doing that, and spending about half an hour making my new Blogger icon in MS Paint, let’s finally finish up the day with cheatday.

Sweet, sweet The Cheat, today is the day on your fake ID! Now get upstairs... and fix me some breakfast!
This is almost an opposite of replacement, in that I went into this one remembering it to be a lot better than it actually was. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a solid email, just not as funny as I thought it was. The highlight of the email for me was the concept of Ilko Skevüld and the stuff associated with that. Such as the fact that the ID card actually says “Fake ID” on it. And the fact that he’s a miner, when the only reason you would need a fake ID in the first place is if you’re a minor. Kind of an interesting play on words there, which isn’t really pointed out at any time, so I have to wonder if it was actually intentional. Also, the ID lists his “type” as miner, which is kind of an interesting, Pokémon-ish way of putting it.

Staying on the subject of mining for a bit, there’s a certain mining (and coal)-related game that I play once in a while, where I used that Senor Cardgage skin that I showed a while back. When I was playing on that original server, I had all of my armor and tools named after Homestar-related stuff, so the pickaxe was of course called Ilko Skevüld. Just for the sake of completion (and so I don’t have to remember to mention these every time one of them comes up), the rest of the set was Ever and More (helmet), Ab-Abber 2000 (chestplate), SBLOUNSKCHED (leggings), ‘Lectric Boots (boots), Keyswordtar (sword), Mushy Chamberpot (shovel), and Dongolev (bow).  I don’t think I had named a wood axe.

It is not remotely worth pointing out that this is the second email in this particular post where Bubs is seen behind the orange couch, but here I am pointing it out anyway. Just felt like mentioning that, because I almost used it for the screenshot here, but I realized it would be somewhat redundant. But yeah, I did enjoy the random Bubs and Coach Z appearance in this email, as well as the demo tape at the end. And speaking of Easter eggs, am I the only one that gets a weird, creepy vibe from Ilko sliding across the bottom of the screen like that? It’s just weird is all. … Unsettling.

So I think that’s about it for today. I’m glad to get another post out so close to the previous one. Don’t expect this to be a regular thing, but I’ll try to get back on track if at all possible. I just don’t want to make any promises, because if I do, that pretty much jinxes it.  So until next time, yeah man. I’ll gnaw your face off. – Teh B.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Buy All Our Playsets and (Weird, Off-model) Toys!

When the dead web series that you’re doing reviews on actually has more signs of life than the review site itself, then you know something’s going wrong. It’s been … about four months, it looks like. No real reason, either, I’ve just been putting it off for ages. This intro paragraph is actually being written after some of the following stuff, which I wrote back in June and then never finished. But getting back on subject, if you haven’t heard yet (which is unlikely, because I don’t know who would be following this blog and not follow updates to the HR Wiki), there’s been a hint of greater things to come. Matt Chapman was interviewed for the Jeff Rubin Show, and he basically said that he and Mike have been wanting to revive the series for years now, they just haven’t had the circumstances to really get back to it and give it the full attention they’d want. But apparently there’s a good chance that it could have another update (if not come back to a regular update schedule, then at least another isolated toon) before the year is out. So check out that interview if you haven’t yet, and assuming you’ve already seen it, let’s get back on track and revisit New Boots.

Oh yeah, The Cheat, he's a...stripèd, green rabbit! With two butts!
I’ve always found this toon to be one of the most solid in the “Powered By The Cheat” category. It’s not as well-known as Crazy Cartoon, the song isn’t quite as good as Everybody to the Limit, and it’s not as memorable as mile, but there’s a lot to laugh at in this. Before I get to any of that though, I have to at least mention that I feel like the voice acting is somewhat … off. And that’s normal for this category, since the PBTC characters have intentionally crappy voices, but they seem different from usual, and The Cheat himself just sounds weird in places. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but his first “line” of the cartoon (presumably “a cute girl and an astronaut gave them to me”) sounds like someone else’s exaggeration of The Cheat’s usual noises, and not what he would normally sound like. He sounded kind of off during the segment with Strong Bad at the computer too.

Trying to ignore that though, there’s just so much other weirdness going on that it’s difficult to focus on anything. Everyone remembers the part with Nebulon (Matt Chapman himself says that it was one of his favorite moments in the whole series), and then there’s the whole bit with The Cheat pouring soup in Homestar’s eyes (a callback to the different town email). But even though it’s a minor thing, I always found it odd that Strong Bad says he’ll go get The Cheat a patty melt, and then comes back with a picnic basket of completely different items. And for whatever reason, the lines I took away from this toon were the first two that Strong Bad says - “Whoa, The Cheat, I can’t believe what cool boots you have on” and “Oh, I see, a cute girl and an astronaut gave them to you”. I quote those (replacing the subject matter, but leaving in the terrible voice and weird inflections) all the time.

And then there’s the Hip Hop Dance music video, which is just sort of tacked on to the end of the New Boots toon. It isn’t its own toon under any sort of categorization on the website, it’s just … part of New Boots. Sure, why not. It’s a fairly catchy song, with fairly terrible visuals (I like the little Mega Man sprite though), but there’s not a whole lot to say about it. I actually like the little ditty that plays while The Cheat dances on Homestar’s face almost as much as Coach Z’s song, but it ended very quickly, which is disappointing. But speaking of things that ended earlier than they should have, here’s something that’s basically the exact opposite of that – Strong Bad Email #101, car.

When you spin my buzzer, it plays the theme from Night Court starring Richard Moll.
…To elaborate on that incredibly forced segue, what I was basically trying to say is that SBEmails didn’t stop after 100. Which is obvious now, but back then, nobody was quite sure if they’d keep going. Well indeed they did, and the first one after the big 100 was somewhat of a return to the old-style “never leave the computer” format. This has never been a big favorite of mine, but upon rewatching it, I realized that it was the origin of the word “anydangway”, which I love using, and was also the first appearance of the name “Gron Sad”, which is just plain awesome.

So apparently, “what kind of car do you drive” was one of the most common emails that Strong Bad received back in the day. Rather than repeatedly mention it in the “how do you type with boxing gloves on” sense, or make fun of it as we’ll see eventually with “what do your parents look like” and “can you draw Trogdor again”, they decided to just get this email out of the way and kind of kill off the question once and for all. And so instead of Strong Bad making something up or revealing that he did in fact have a cool car all along, Homestar just kind of shows up, steals the spotlight for a bit, and then the email ends abruptly. Remember when I said that the bet would have been pretty funny if it just ended by saying “no” and not showing anything of value? Well, this email did basically just that, as pointed out to me in a comment on that post. I guess I had just forgotten about it.

Anydangway, I could talk a bit about Nerdular Nerdence, the fact that Strong Sad didn’t really answer Strong Bad’s “jillion” question very well, or bring up some pointless debate over whether or not it was an animation goof when Strong Bad spun Homestar’s buzzer and it may or may not have spun the wrong way (yes, this was actually a debate, because people have nothing better to do, and I am usually not in any position to say that myself). But I won’t, because the next email is lunch special and I like that one quite a bit, so I want to rewatch it. And besides, I just mentioned all those things in the process of saying I won’t talk about them, so my job there is done.

Gimme a basket of double hot wings, pants down, a couple of egg rolls ... and a cod plank platter!
This is just a solid email overall. It’s one of those completely nonsensical plots that doesn’t really go anywhere, along the lines of Lookin at a Thing in a Bag, and I feel like those are some of the best toons in the series. This one also lost focus a bit – the email asked Strong Bad to get Bubs to give out free lunch specials, but all the effort went into making him say “sbu” for a poorly established reason, and then that turned out to do something completely unrelated. Speaking of which, I like to think that Bubs legitimately did have the ability to fly until that moment, though I guess it’s more likely that he was just messing with Strong Bad. It’s kind of sad if that was true, though, even if he could only hover a few inches, it would still be cool to do.

I don’t think I ever paid much attention to it before this viewing, but “Super Chinese Fish Buffalo Rice” is hilarious. The DVD commentary elaborates on that a bit, apparently it was making fun of some restaurants in their area that just listed off a bunch of unrelated food rather than having an actual name. The other example they gave was “Philly Wing Fish Chinese Food”. The more I think about it, the funnier it gets. Maybe I’m just weird that way. And I still don’t know what a cod plank platter is supposed to be. Googling it returns this email as a result, so maybe it’s like pressed bunson. [doesn’t explain]

As with many high-quality toons and emails, there’s not much I can really say other than just repeating some of the funny parts, and honestly, I think “Super Chinese Fish Buffalo Rice” is the high point here. I used to enjoy this email because of the absurdity of what was going on, and basically the entire ending starting from the “I I’m think flooding he’s you flooding out! you out!” bit up until the fairly hot MS Paint Brontosaurus. But now I like it for those reasons, plus one more. Oh, and luncch. I’ve turned that into an everyday word now. But speaking of Strong Mad and crude drawings, let’s see some more of that in the next email, haircut.

And don't forget the "Ready for Primetime." Which I admit I got a little carried away with.
This was a nice simple email. By “simple”, I don’t mean it was exactly an old-fashioned stay-at-the-computer style email, but it wasn’t terribly elaborate either. The bulk of it took place staring at a photo of Strong Mad, but had some pretty funny voiceovers. So to start with this one, we’ve got someone who manages to be even less observant than the sender of the car email (unless he confused Senor Cardgage for Strong Bad, since he has a rockin’ combover), and then the email becomes somewhat sidetracked, as they often do.

Nothing particularly noteworthy occurs during the “looking for people with hair” segment, but the eyebrow art holds its own well enough, I think. There were some definite winners in there, my favorite probably being the “dog and also a cat shaped eyebrows… and a couple of muskrats” due to pure randomness. I do enjoy “I DON’T WANNA EAT A GUITAR” way more than I should though, and (in a twist that surprises no one), I enjoy using that as a non-sequitur in real life. What is it with some of these recent emails/toons where that keeps being a thing?

To close on this one, I’ll draw extra attention to the dancing/singing cardboard box Easter egg at the end (and the egg within the egg), because it’s one of the most ridiculous things ever, but I love Strong Mad’s reaction to it. Just “HOORAY  FOR BOX”. I couldn’t say it better myself, big fella. Oh, and there’s a Strong Badman comic in this one too. And yes, this is actually the first time he’s shown up since his debut way back in email 29. Jeez, I’m surprised they even remembered that. It seems like the sort of thing that would have started a mini-series within the site, but such is not the case. Instead, we’ve got a completely unrelated and barely-hinted-to miniseries starting immediately after this email! So strap in and get your wallet ready for the Cheat Commandos!

There's the Troop Carrier, the Troop Transport, and the Action Figure Storage Truck.
I’m gonna start out here by saying that I friggin’ love the Cheat Commandos. I’d have to say that it’s my favorite spinoff series from Homestar Runner, and I’m not entirely sure why, since I never watched GI Joe (which this is heavily based on), but it’s just so cheesy and shameless that I can’t help but enjoy it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Obviously I’ve just spoiled that this does become a thing later on (if you somehow didn’t already know that), but we didn’t necessarily know that would be the case when this toon first came out. It was too good of a concept to not be used, though. For an introductory toon, this does a very good job of establishing the franchise.

Cheat Commandos is comprised of two major things, which are very heavily related. There’s the merchandise (the action figures and various playsets, which are shown off heavily in this toon), and then there’s the cartoon itself, which exists for no reason other than the sell the merchandise, hence the slogan. Oddly enough, we won’t be seeing very much (if any) of the toys after this introduction; from this point on, it’s just the cartoon. I am perfectly fine with that, because the cartoon is hilarious, but it is a bit of a shame that there’s no more toy commercials after this one, since Matt and Mike always do a really good job with fake commercials.

Cheat Commandos, maybe fighting for freedom, and each is sold separately. Cheat Commandos, they're probably battling evil. Buy all our playsets and toys! At this point, I could probably talk a bit about the different characters from the series, but I think that will happen naturally over time when I start to cover the later episodes. I will mention that a few of the characters don’t see much use through the course of the series. Foxface only shows up once (and not as a speaking role), and Ripberger (who shares a name with a character from Thy Dungeonman II), Flashfight, and Reinforcements aren’t far behind. I don’t have a problem with that, since the characters that do show up frequently have enough personality on their own that they don’t really need any more support. I just wanted to point that out because this toon introduces all ten characters (with decent little gags when you look at their action figure boxes in the Easter egg), but not all of them really get a chance to shine. Remember that most of the characters were basically created out of rejected commando names for The Cheat back in the army email.

That’s about all I can say for this one. It’s just a solid toon overall – it does its job very well introducing the series, and still has a lot of great jokes in it. I especially like the “Operation don’t crush ourselves” mission statement in the background of the Blue Laser headquarters, which they fail immediately. But anyway, I do want to get to one more email before the end of this post, so I’ll be getting to that right after a random interlude from The Cheatar.

You're way taller than me. And way...guitarer than me.
So obviously this isn’t a major toon of any sort, it’s just a little thing that got posted before the email one week. There’s not much more I can say about it that the mouse-over text doesn’t already say. It’s just a giant guitar that looks like The Cheat. It was sold for $5,000, and the money went to charity. And… that’s about it. Which is good, because the next email is one of the longest ever. So get ready to experience the fury of… theme park.

Oh, crap! It's tasteball already?
I love most SBEmails that parody the ever-loving crap out of a specific part of society, and this is one of the all-time best at that. From beginning to end, it’s a great parody of typical theme park stuff, with the expected HSR twist to it. For example, plenty of cartoons have an amusement park episode with a big scary, over-the-top roller coaster, but what other series would have one that is nothing more than a circle that you go through over and over? …And then you randomly catch fire? And then there’s the “Strong Sad Gets Decked Repeatedly Stunt SPOOK-Tacular”, which is just a generally ridiculous concept, but a hilarious one.

One of the weirder parts of this email is the segment with the cheap Bubs plushies, where you can click on one to see an image of a real one. This actually does have an explanation, but one wasn’t ever given until the fourth SBEmail DVD was released over a year later, and even then, it wasn’t really explained as much as … revisited. So from what I gather, either Matt or Mike commissioned some Chinese factory to make a Bubs plush, or someone else did and then sent the result to them. For some reason, it had a horn, not to mention the fact that its eyes were the same size and it had fangs instead of normal teeth. This thing went on to be known as “Shark-Tooth Bubs”, was given a terrible voice by Mike, and made a few unexplained appearances in later material (later as in, like, 2008). I thought that it made several DVD-exclusive appearances too, but evidently not, it just had the one.

Anyway, moving on to the end (skipping over the costumes, which was a decent segment, but nothing super interesting), we have the excellence that is the Strong Badian Riverquest Safariventure. This is one of my favorite things on the site to quote, because the delivery is just amazing. That, and I can’t not laugh at “here comes another one of our tour guides his name is The Cheat everybody say ‘Hi The Cheeeeeat…’” “Hide and seeeeeek”. That was definitely the best part of it, but the whole thing is classic, and it goes on for like, two minutes. And it ends with the water animation randomly stopping. But anyway, I think I’ve ended at a high note here, so I’m gonna call it quits for now and actually get this thing uploaded. And who knows, it might be less than four months before the next update. We’ll see.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A new update! No foolin'.

Bit of a quick explanation here: work has been terrible lately. Due to a ton of people quitting or getting fired, we’re severely understaffed and so we’ve been working 60 hour weeks for quite a while now. So free time has been limited and I haven’t gotten a solid chunk of time to dedicate to a blog post in a couple months. I’m not sure exactly when this will change, so consider the resolution to cover two years of material in one year to be officially broken. But I’ll see what I can manage today.

So first of all, holy crap guys, an update. I’m sure most people who read this are already aware, but there was an actual, honest-to-goodness update on on April 1st, and it wasn’t even lame like the previous April Fools update (Xeriouxly Forxe). I actually learned of this from the comment section on my previous post, because I hadn’t even bothered to check the site this time around. It doesn’t have a name other than April Fools’ 2014, but sure, let’s check it out. I’ve only watched this once so far, so I’ll be overanalyzing it like usual this second time around.

So yeah, that was a thing. My first question is who asked Homestar to update “the best feature on the website”, as opposed to just the website in general. Also, and possibly a more important question overall - why was a crab shell stuck in his throat? But seriously though, this was definitely a decent revival, if you can call it that. I’m just gonna throw this out there – I don’t believe that this is an indication that the site will go back to updating regularly any time soon. It’s possible that a random toon or email could be added every few months or so, but even that is probably expecting too much. Overall I’m just glad that TBC (“The Brothers Chaps” – surprisingly, I’ve never used this abbreviation on the blog before) did acknowledge it in some way and gave the old fans something to talk about.

As for the toon itself, it was enjoyable. Not the best thing they’ve ever produced, but considering how long it’s been since a full-length toon like this, it was practically perfect. The animation and voice acting seemed spot-on to me, and the only thing that felt a little out of place was Homestar completely peeing himself over the “P.” Hairstyle Runner. I’ll admit it though, watching him laugh so hard at that made me laugh too, so it did its job. And of course, we couldn’t have an update without Strong Bad, and you’ve gotta admit the strongbad_eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee_windows98desktoptheme was kind of awesome. I can’t say I saw that coming.

And now, because I’m obligated to point this kind of crap out, here’s a couple things I noticed. First of all, Strong Bad is using the Compy here, even though it should be completely destroyed. Yeah, by the way, consider that last sentence spoilers for all two of you who didn’t know he eventually replaces it. I guess it makes more sense to use an older-looking computer with a Windows 98 theme, but the Compy was a text-based OS, so it still doesn’t really fit. Also, really, Strong Bad? You’re making fun of people for using Windows 98 in 2014 when your computers are consistently 20 years out of date? (Yes, I know that’s part of the joke.) And the last thing I wanted to mention was the fact that the song they sing at the end was the same as Homestar’s song from that really weird incomplete flash I mentioned that one time. Yeah, that one. But moving back to where I left off last time, we’ve got a little bit of everything in today’s update, starting with Teen Girl Squad Issue #5.

I'm gonna miss her. ... I'm gonna miss video games.
As always, it’s difficult to really “review” a Teen Girl Squad episode, because they’re basically a series of random happenings. I generally enjoy them, and this one is no exception. It’s a step up from the previous issue, which felt somewhat forced in places, and had weird voice acting. This one feels more natural, for whatever reason, which is a weird thing to say when it involves a violent sailing mishap, a skateboarding alien, and … whatever you call the series of events in the featured screenshot. I really couldn’t resist that one – it has The Ugly One wearing a three-piece bikini burying her head in the sand while a fat bird with its tongue sticking out is perched on her side. Meanwhile, So and So is inviting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry Rollins to go tandem parasailing, which they are happy to participate in. I’ll never deny that TGS is a weird, weird series, but I love it anyway.

Oh, and I forgot to mention – the reason the mailbox at the start eats the postcard is because it has birds on it. Remember how the first three issues all basically started out with a bunch of birds getting killed for no reason? Yeah, this was just a continuation of that. It doesn’t quite beat the helicopter gunning them down from the first issue (which was great because it was the first sign that this comic would be completely idiotic) or the buzzsaw from the third (which I just thought was funny in general), but it was still funny. So with that out of the way, let’s play a game. It’s called “can you find the funny part in Puppet Time,” and we’re starting… now!

Strong Bad! I'm borrowing this squeegee-type-deal!
So what did you find? Was it Homestar throwing the broken VHS tape on the ground at the start? Perhaps the noise that The Cheat made at the very end while he stole the floppy disk container? Both of those are decent guesses, but the real answer is “nothing in this was particularly funny.” It wasn’t horrible, but I can’t say it did much for me. So yeah, next? Oh boy, an Answering Machine. Those aren’t usually too bad.
What this edition of Marzipan’s Answering Machine lacks in diversity is made up for in humor. You just have to kind of ignore Strong Sad’s calls. Sorry buddy, you’re my bro and all, but you were not bringing your A-game to this one. In fact, I’d say that you actually regressed somewhat to the 2001 era. Seriously, tell me that his “I’m a waste of space” line didn’t sound almost exactly like his baking chocolate/Necco Wafers lines from The House That Gave Sucky Treats or his whole “people started being friends with me because I had a pool” story from the Yello Dello commentary. Yech.

On the other hand, Homestar’s calls were genuinely funny. I don’t even care that they took up four of the six calls on this, it was worth it, especially the last one. If Homestar calling himself “sugarface” and suddenly breaking into song about getting “run over by a lawnmower blade” doesn’t make you laugh, then Strong Bad’s reactions should. And then once it’s over, you can find out what beat out the prank call lessons in Homestar’s “second-best $500 I ever spent” statement by clicking the tape. And there’s another Easter egg hidden there too, which I actually don’t think I ever noticed until now.

Alright, now before we move on to the next thing, I’m gonna have to take you back to 2004 for a minute. So here’s the situation. SBEmail 99, different town, came out three weeks ago. After getting TGS 5 and MAM 10, I was definitely looking forward to SBEmail 100, and figured it was probably coming soon. So it’s Monday morning before school, and I go to the website to see if it updated. Nope, still no new email yet. Well, maybe it’s actually there, but the main page hasn’t updated yet, or the cookies are out of date or something. So I manually go to, and get greeted by... well, Not the 100th Email.

Oh, I suppose you think you're pretty clever, huh?
I’m not kidding, that’s actually what happened to me, and I am so glad that it did. This toon was made specifically for, what, maybe 1% of their audience? I don’t even care about its contents at this point, I can’t get over this. They seriously predicted that people in my position would manually try to get to the new email, and went out of their way to make this for that tiny amount of fans who would actually try checking it that way. That just completely blows my mind. It reminds me of something said in a Futurama commentary, where a joke was put in that only a fraction of a percent of their audience would actually understand, and they left it in because it would be completely worth it to that small group of people.

For everyone reading this who never knew that this page existed, there’s a good reason for that. It was never linked to anywhere on the site. I want to stress this again – it was made deliberately for people who were too impatient for it to get uploaded, and were basically staking out the url for when it came out. And it’s not like it was a long wait, either. The email actually got uploaded the following day. I’m not sure if anyone else who wasn’t in the same situation that I was can really appreciate this toon. Like I said earlier, I don’t even care what the toon is about. It’s honestly not that funny; I’d say that The System is Down was funnier, and that’s basically the same concept but not a secret page. But it doesn’t matter. The fact that this thing exists makes it one of the most memorable parts of the entire website for me. Nothing would ever match the surprise of seeing this that Monday morning, when it truly felt like this was made specifically for me. But now it’s time to check out the actual email that I was waiting for: flashback.

They flew on a sweet, sweet rainbow bridge back down to Free Country, USA.
I’ve heard a few people say that this wasn’t really that great of a milestone email. Nuts to them, I say, I rather enjoyed this. If you focus on it purely as a milestone, then sure, it may not have accomplished anything huge, but I’m not sure what exactly people were expecting. The things that it did do as a milestone aren’t really the main focus here. There was a nice little callback to the original email at the start (and a decent song preceding that, for that matter), the somewhat unnecessary section of Strong Bad saying email 100 times (which I could have done without), and lots of good Easter eggs at the end. Seriously, be sure to check all of those out, most of them are pretty funny.

The main part of the email, the actual flashback/storybook bit, was a nice callback to the origins of the characters, and not only in the visual style. The “ten step footrace” was every bit as weird as the original “strongest man in the world” contest. There was no forced moral in this one, though. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you find something (Homestar totally found the egg first) or win the contest to determine who gets it – all of that is completely arbitrary, and the person to come out on top is simply the one whose name is listed first in the title. Also making a comeback in this email are Mr. Bland and Señor, who contribute nothing (much like the original book), and the Prince of Town makes his first (and basically only) appearance pre-fishstick pile.

I’m not sure how or if I’ll be covering DVD material later on, so I figure I might as well mention a few things about the making of this email. The story was originally going to be done in the standard animation style, and would focus more on the duck shirt. Basically, Marzipan feels like Homestar has terrible fashion sense, and so she bought him a star shirt to wear instead. It turns out that Strong Bad had been wearing a star shirt up until then, and he refused to wear it afterwards because … reasons. I guess he just didn’t want to dress the same as Homestar or something. But basically, that would be the reason why he doesn’t wear a shirt any more. I guess that story would have been more … I don’t know, relevant, than the one we ended up with, but I have no problem with the giant egg story.

I can touch my toes, one two three!
There’s also a new Main Page that was released a bit after this email, done in the storybook style. As with most Main Pages, there’s really not much to say about it, but Strong Sad’s line for the “email” button, with that specific delivery, is a favorite of mine.

That’s … about it. I feel like I should have more to say about this, but really, it’s not that much different from a normal email, and it’s not the best or funniest one they’ve produced, it’s just a bit above average. So I could end here, but there’s a couple other things I did want to look at. First off, there’s Thy Dungeonman II, which I talked about a little last time. I did record a video of that game, but I can’t seem to find the video anywhere, and I think it might have gotten accidentally deleted. I was going to post that in this update, but since it seems to be missing, I guess I’ll scratch that idea for today (I’ll probably record something on it later on, but I can’t be bothered to do it right now). And I was debating if I wanted to review the next toon in this post or not, but I guess I might as well, because I haven’t actually covered that much material yet in this post. So here’s Strong Bad Is In Jail Cartoon.

Once again, Biscuitdoughhandsman slips through our fingers.
I’ve always enjoyed this one. In fact, I did a redubbing of it a few years back. It’s not that great, but here it is anyway. When I first started this blog and wanted to basically start out with a good toon that featured all the main characters, this was one that I had in mind (along with Where’s the Cheat?) but decided against it because it seemed to make more sense to just go chronologically and not really force new viewers into something with all the characters for the sake of… well, doing that.

This is the first toon in a while to portray Strong Bad as what he was originally intended to be – a villain. He’s always a jerk, and has certainly committed some theft and battery in his more recent appearances, but for the most part, he’s just kind of that one guy who cheats in contests a lot, exaggerates his coolness, and occasionally gets a bit violent. Here, he’s actually seen planning a robbery, and successfully kidnapping The Poopsmith. Not a huge shift in character by any means (he did steal stuff in the invisibility email, for instance), but a noticeable one. And on another note, apparently Homestar, Bubs, and Coach Z make up the law enforcement of Free Country, USA. Either that or they’re just the only ones who can be bothered to do it. It’s one of those things where the limited cast forces characters to take up a role that they’ve never had before just to make the story make sense. And now, a few unrelated things:

  • I don’t really know what a baklava is, other than some type of dessert, but I love the way Strong Sad pronounces it. And I agree with Homestar about the whole tai chi thing.

  • I’m not sure how putting a dash between Homestar and Runner would protect Marzipan. I mean, I kind of see where they were going with that, the whole “changing your name to avoid criminal activity” sort of thing, but it just seemed weird. Also, “Yeah, no. Is it?” is kind of an awesome line that doesn’t make any sense at all.

  • Strong Bad gets kind of sidetracked a few times in this, first with the whole “sweet lady freedom” thing, then the “ransom money = retirement money = college fund” thing, and then the “powers of persuasion” bit. I do like when he rambles.

  • Biscuitdoughhandsman is a thing. It’s been so long since I’ve first seen this, I can’t remember my original reaction to it, and now that I know about it it’s not really that funny anymore, but it certainly is … unusual.
I could probably go on a bit more, since this is one of my favorites, but I do want to finish writing sometime today, and there’s one more toon I wanted to cover just to bookend this post. We started with April Fools’ 2014, now let’s end with April Fools’ 2004, aka Professor Tor Coolguy Under Construction.

Hey, this isn't dirt! It's pudding!
I doubt that this ever actually fooled anyone, so as an April Fools’ toon, it doesn’t succeed, but as a short and nonsensical Stinkoman cartoon, I have no complaints. It brings back memories of those Xiao Xiao stick figure animations, which were pretty awesome, and you can’t go wrong with the general weirdness that is usually present whenever Stinkoman shows up. Such as EATING PUDDING WITH A SPOON! And 1-Up dripping snot for some reason. Then of course, we have the Ninja Gaiden-style cutscene with Stinkoman actually saying “dot dot dot”, and really quick credits featuring the development team of the original Legend of Zelda, as well as Kevin, who did “cover-ups”.

There, I pretty much listed off all the funny parts of this in one incredibly badly organized paragraph. But sometimes, you’ve gotta just let that happen. So that’s it for today, hopefully I’ll be able to get back to making these semi-regularly again, but we’ll see. Thanks for still checking this blog, be sure to support the website, tip your waitresses, etc.