Monday, November 22, 2010

Dino Squad - Easy Riders and Raging Dinos

Technically this episode is near the end of the second season, but since this is one of the many Western toons that doesn't bother with a continuing story, as long as you know what happens in the pilot you'll be fine.

The kids are at the lighthouse where Max and Caruso are playing checkers. Don’t these guys still have friends from before they became half-prehistoric freaks? They don’t seem to be friends, exactly, so why do they spend all their free time together?

Max wins and Caruso takes it badly. Fiona tries to break it up, since it’s just a stupid game. At least Max and Caruso are together on one thing.

Caruso: “There’s no such thing as ‘just a game’.”
Max: “As Vince Lombardi said, ‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’.”
Fiona: “Fine, but don’t be surprised when your competitive streak comes back to bite you.”

Those line readings are so wooden you’d think the killer apple trees from The Wizard of Oz were doing them. Except Max’s impression of Vince Lombardi, which sounds like a sarcastic 9-year-old doing an impression of an overbearing authority figure. This should be common sense but if you’re quoting something you agree with, shouldn’t you maybe sound like you’re not making fun of it?

Cut to Veloci’s lair where he outlines his current disaster waiting to happen to his masked flunkies. “Finally, a way to replicate Earth’s mightiest predator, using its closest descendent,” he gloats, meaning a tyrannosaurus if the picture on his computer is any indication. Although you’d be inclined to think he already knows how to mutate things into t-rexes, on account of Max’s powers. One of the flunkies calls, “Sir, the genetic material has reached the distribution point.” “Prepare my transport,” Veloci replies. Come on. Yeah, he's an evil mastermind with dreams of global domination, but why can’t he just say “Start up the truck”?

Speaking of the truck, it’s another garish monstrosity with a dinosaur’s face worked into the front like something you’d see smashing wrecked cars. With how both sides drive things like this but both sides also operate in secrecy, it’s kind of cute how the show tries to pretend these vehicles are cool but at the same time nobody pays attention to them.

We then cut to a farmstead where a brother and sister pair talk about a new livestock herder as the sister drives a remote control car around, terrorizing one of their chickens. Don’t they have more productive things they could be doing? And since when do you herd chickens? They don’t seem to have any other animals.

Oh, and they have a parrot that eats some heavily emphasized chicken feed and flies away. Bet we won’t see him again.

Back at the lighthouse their alarm system goes off because they have radar that can detect…animals with…prehistoric DNA. There’s two blips, one at Niagra Falls and one in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, meaning they have to split into two groups. Meaning the two guys who almost came to blows over the rules of checkers are in charge of stopping the same emergency.

Max and Caruso blast down the road on the Tyrannocycles and, bet you didn’t see this coming, challenge each other to a race. In what admittedly was kind of a funny twist we see them getting pulled over for speeding.

This creates a problem, though. Kittery Point, Maine, where the kids live, is apparently a real place. So is Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is where they're going. And according to Mapquest it’s a 440 mile trip. So Max and Caruso would kind of have to go as fast as they could to have any hope of getting there while there was still a Lancaster, Pennsylvania to save. And the rest of the kids are driving 530 miles to Niagra Falls. The show acts like they’re driving to the next town over.

And what’s with the cop’s face? Is he supposed to have a Hitler ‘stache that didn't get colored in?

What's wrong with your faaaaace?

 The other kids get to Niagra Falls and at first don’t think there’s anything there but taffy. Then the parrot flies by, only now it’s about thirty feet long and attacks a snack bar. If only I could say this was the first time I’ve seen someone try to make a terrifying monster out of a parrot…

Max and Caruso get to the farm. While their scanner says the place should be crawling with dinosaurs, all they find are a bunch of chickens. For some reason this leads to Caruso doing a painful John Wayne impression. The farmers come out and ask if they’re selling magazine subscriptions. With how fast print publications are dying? Are you kidding?

Max trips over his tongue trying to come up with a way to ask if any dinosaurs are around without sounding like an idiot (nice leader) right before enormous mutant chickens explode out of the barn.

They pull out guns that are way bigger than the backpacks they’re kept in (and when did they get in front of the farmhouse?). Of course Max and Caruso are professionals and mop this up quick and quietly.

Wait, no they’re not, they’re idiot stereotypes in a brainless cartoon. So they immediately start competing to see who can take out more chickens.

By the way, Veloci’s plan was to create t-rexes by mutating their most direct descendants. Chickens, huh? That could well be true, but…his plan involves chickens. That automatically costs him about 20 points of villain cred.

So does the next scene where we find out Veloci ended up in Ohio instead of Pennsylvania because the Dino Squad hacked his computer about where the feed had been sent. He spends most of the rest of the episode sitting around wondering where the the dinosaurs he made are.

The kids at Niagra Falls decide the time has come to “Go Dino!” Fiona and Buzz change into their dinosaur forms (with something blowing Fiona’s hair around).

Unfortunately, either due to budget limitations or fear of inspiring kids to violence, the dino-kids don’t actually attack Pollysaurus (btw the parrot’s name isn’t Polly, it’s Solly. The originality comes at you full tilt when you’re watching Dino Squad). Changing into dinosaurs was only done to get its attention by presenting the parrot with something as big as itself.

It’s too mobile for them to shoot it, though. It doesn’t help that they’re idiots, as when they bait it with a huge pile of popcorn they spring out of cover and run around the bird for a couple seconds, letting it escape, instead of like, shooting it from cover before it realizes they’re there.

Back at the farm Max and Caruso aren’t getting anywhere. Partly because they’re stupid and partly because the chickens keep eating the feed and mutating back into monsters. The farmers decide to get in on the fun and bust out big-kid versions of the sister’s toy car. Which is to say tractor-type vehicles with net launchers and rope snares (which the chickens step into without even being baited).

They’re all giggly at finally getting a chance to try these things out, but what kind of farm animal would warrant the use of such a machine? Especially because, once again, they don’t appear to have anything on their farm more ferocious than hungry chickens.

Veloci’s driver reports they’ve gone to the wrong address and should be in Pennsylvania, and he kicks the guy out of the truck and drives off mumbling about mammal incompetence.

At Niagra Falls the kids decide to try their popcorn trap again but this time they dump it on a huge pile of taffy. They change into dinosaurs to do this, allowing them to not only replay Fiona and Buzz’s changes in their entirety, but Rodger’s this time too. You can see why, their hands would obviously be way more functional as huge prehistoric lizards.

At least they didn’t try to have us believe taffy’s sticky enough to hold an avian that’s thirty feet long and strong enough to still get off the ground. The kids freeze the taffy, trapping the parrot so they can finally return it to normal. Oh, and by the time they do this it’s night, meaning the parrot was terrorizing a major tourist destination for most of the day and no cops showed up. Be glad you don’t have to live in this show.

At the farm the chickens manage to knock over one of the Livestock Zords but the other pulls it back up, making Max and Caruso realize why the farmers are doing better than they are. Other than the fact that the farmers aren’t using a technique that lets the monsters they’ve already taken care of keep coming back.

Caruso changes into his dinosaur mode and lures the farmers away because they think they can catch him and make a bundle off him. So the Dino Squad’s plan is to exploit the greed of rural yokels. Classy.

Caruso bites through a hose and splatters the Farmer Rangers and Livestock Zords with water, letting him change back and slip away unnoticed. While he’s doing that Max is changing the already captured chicken monsters back to normal, meaning their success is only possible because of the two people they just duped. The others show up asking what took them so long. Because you can drive a thousand miles in half an hour. Maybe if you’re driving that car from Speed Racer that makes you freak out if you drink water.

Veloci finally arrives and is trapped by the farmers thanks once again to the Livestock Zords. The Dino Squad realizes what caused the chickens to mutate, the feed made by Raptordyne.

This raises a question: if something you can buy at Farm and Fleet turns anything that eats it into a monster, how do the kids plan to make sure this doesn’t happen anywhere else? The show acts like because they prevented disaster here and know where this stuff came from, that solves the problem. Maybe this was an experiment, but why wouldn’t Veloci test it in his lab then after it worked start adding the mutagen to every bag of feed leaving his factories? He does want to turn the world back into a place ruled by prehistoric monstrosities, for some reason.

Can’t the kids turn this to their advantage, and reveal to the press somehow that Raptordyne chicken feed creates monsters? Who cares if he can turn into a raptor, Veloci would be in jail for the rest of his mutated life and his labs shut down the next day. But then the show would be over.

Veloci escapes the net, changes back to his human form and stomps back to the truck muttering, “I hate humans.”

At least the farmer got his parrot back.

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