Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dino Squad - Howa Loa Can You Goa?

Ah, the episode where the Dino Squad goes to Hawaii. This is the one that made up my mind to review Dino Squad in the first place.

As if I haven’t given you enough examples of how mindless this show is, the first words after the theme song and “Today on Dino Squad” are indeed “there’s trouble in paradise.” Hurt me again Jeffrey Scott, I like it.

Things open on the kids showing up at Miss Moynihan’s lighthouse and Max asking if there’s “anything up on the Dino-Scope.” Absolutely nothing, it turns out, which has her worried. There hasn’t been “a peep out of Victor Veloci in over three weeks,” which the kids probably noticed themselves.

“It’s not like Veloci, or any other predator, to sit around and do nothing.” He’s not hunting for food, you nutcase, he’s trying to create mutants. And maybe he noticed whenever he tried to turn something into a monster it inexplicably turned back to normal, and instead of blindly making more monsters he’s trying to find out why. It’s what I’d do if I wanted to take over the world. Get rid of obstacles, I mean. After all, he’s supposed to be a doctor. I'm just some schlub who watches cartoons I'm way too old for.

Something else is going on, though. There’s increased seismic activity around Hawaii, and “a colleague of mine” (gets around, she does) tells her the dolphins are acting strangely. Animals, they always know. Despite their readings being faint, Moynihan thinks this is worth pulling the kids out of school and flying about 5,000 miles to investigate.

Oh yeah, seismic activity. Totally.

One quick cut later the kids are on their way to Hawaii in a jet (their word) that’s not only fast, it runs on “bio-fuel.” Apparently it was built by another colleague of Moynihan’s who builds low emission engines. There’s no end to this frakking show’s preachiness, is there?

Some role models these guys are.

 There’s always one guy who’s thinking more about all the fun things they can do when going someplace exotic on a business trip, and here it’s Caruso. He’s thinking about entering this big time surf contest, even though the others point out he’s never surfed a day in his life. They land and get into jeeps (and gaudy floral-print clothes, of course) to go look for weird stuff.

The show makes this huge deal out of a water bottle Caruso throws a water bottle that fails to make it into a garbage can. The dog they were saving when they mutated picks it up and Moynihan thanks him and says they’ll find a place to recycle it. What point's the show trying to make?

Wouldn’t you know it, Veloci’s around in his stupidest dino-motif vehicle yet, a submarine this time. Evidently his plan is to somehow turn Hawaii into a “dinosaur breeding ground” by making its volcanoes erupt. Um, yeah. I bet the dinosaurs will really appreciate living in a wasteland knee deep in volcanic ash. Their knees.

Caruso gives up his search for weirdness to go surfing (to be fair, after making sure there isn’t “a bleep or a blip for miles” on some kind of techno-scanner thingy), while Max and Fiona exchange some Deep Thoughts about how “the way things are going” beautiful places like the Hawaiian islands could be wiped out. Look, yeah pollution is a bad thing and yes our way of life is radically changing the ecosystem, but solving those problems is a tad more complicated than recycling your plastics and trying to bike instead of drive. They’re so heavy-handed about this the kids actually stop looking for the sources of seismic distress to pick up litter. Sheesh! Yeah it’s noble and everything, but aren’t they here to look into a slightly bigger problem first? This is like if the Power Rangers stopped short in the middle of a giant robot fight because they saw a cigarette butt on the ground.

Fortunately the kids shut up about saving the environment for two seconds when Fiona realizes a dolphin’s been following them down the coast. She gets the idea to dino up, thinking this will let her talk to it telepathically (oh, geez) rather than scare it away.

Actually, my guess was right, but Fiona got one thing off the dolphin before it swam away. “Something strange” is threatening the dolphins, and like a good leader Max ignores the threat of volcanic devastation to go scuba diving with her and find out what. Won’t Moynihan be so proud of them.

Caruso gets to the surf contest and tries to enter, only to find out that the entry fee is one bag of garbage. That is, anyone who wants to enter has to pick up a bag worth of litter. Then they can compete. Will you let it go, Jeff Scott?!

Elsewhere Buzz and Rodger are actually doing their jobs, but pick up a mutant on their scanner. The ground caves in under them and they find themselves in a lava tube, and something big’s down there with them.

Caruso’s picking up trash when a native girl tries to politely clue him into the fact that there’s a hole in his bag. Which is plainly only there in the shot where he’s walking away. Predictably, soon he’s doing it not so he can participate in the contest but because keeping nature beautiful is the right thing to do.

Max and Fiona run into the dolphin again, and again Fiona changes to her dino form for the sole purpose of telepathizing with it. And comically almost revealing herself to a pair of boating tourists when she goes up for air. Ha ha. She gets something about a big metal shark (dolphins know what metal is?) which of course is Veloci’s sub, which the kids recognize on sight. Getting a little hard to believe only six people outside his organization know he’s a super villain.

Buzz and Rodger find the mutant they were detecting before, a giant “mutant-worm-a-saur.”

They go dino because that makes it easier to…walk around the incredible invertebrate. As creatures several times larger and more cumbersome than they are normally in an already enclosed space.

Max and Fiona swim up to Veloci’s sub and just…swim inside through a hatch on the bottom. He’s got this enormous high-tech sub and didn’t detect two human-sized objects approaching? And there’s nothing preventing anyone from just sneaking into the sub like this? I mean, he does have more than two guys working for him to notice a pair of teenagers traipsing around his sub, right? Shoot, he deserves to fail.

They find the lab where Veloci’s creating the big worms to make volcanoes erupt. I’m not going to try to explain the science. Not only because it’s pointless, but because this is Dino Squad we’re talking about, one of the only Saturday morning cartoons able to go toe-to-toe with Superfriends in the BS science department. And considering they share at least one writer...

They’re caught by one of Veloci’s two goons but escape by throwing a fire extinguisher through a tank and bowling him over with the slime that floods out. Max dinos up when the goons corner them, despite Fiona reminding him the corridor’s too small for him to do anything. As if the show would really require him to do anything more than intimidate the villains a little to get out of this.

The, er, fight.
Veloci asks where the t-rex came from, despite having seen this exact t-rex at the site of several of his schemes gone bad and seeing two teenagers run back here, and all of his schemes revolving around turning something into a dinosaurs. And again thinks he can seriously win this fight in his own dino form. Fortunately for concerned parents Max knows exactly which pipe carries water around the sub and bites through it to wash the bad guys away. Again.

They escape the sub and Fiona dinos up again because apparently the Spinosaurus can swim faster than a submarine. No, really, she does it for speed.

They end up luring Veloci into going through a kelp bed and crashing into the island shelf, which somehow causes a flood that prevents the eruption he was trying to engineer. Whatever. It means this episode’s almost over.

Back on the beach Caruso turns in his trash at the entry desk. He’s even sorted it into regular garbage and recyclable material. And he’s gotten so into it when he finally gets to surf all he can think about is all the garbage floating on the water. Except when Rodger and Buzz erupt out of the beach in their dino forms with the worm right behind them. Then he thinks about comically flipping onto its back and riding the thing as it chases them.

He even carefully sorts the litter he’s picked up and tosses it into the proper receptacles while still on the thing. So wait, is the moral of this episode to dispose of your trash responsibly? I just can’t be sure…

Then he dinos out to smash its head down long enough for the others to use their stupid guns to turn it back into a plain old worm that crawls into the sand.

By the way, when Max and Fiona found Veloci’s lab, they reported in to Moynihan who identified the worms as being native to the temperate parts of North America. Which means they’re just letting an animal alien to this ecosystem go. Which is hypocritical with the way they’ve been kicking us in the head with their message of everyone needing to do their part to avoid tipping the balance of nature this whole episode.

Because this really has devolved into the least subtle thing in the history of the universe, the episode ends on the kids restating that yeah, everybody has to pitch in to deal with pollution. Caruso’s even organized a bunch of locals into a parade with their own chant about not throwing trash on the ground.

I couldn’t be this blatant if I tried. And that’s something I’m proud of.


  1. Oh GOD, this episode. I always hate 'green' episodes because they turn the concept of recyling, this SIMPLE, DAILY thing, into the most alien concept ever made, as if it has never existed before 2007 or whenever this show came out. The whole entrance fee being a bag of garbage was HILARIOUS but not in the way I'm sure the writers wanted (I'm sure they wanted us to laugh at Caruso's annoyance for picking up litter and whatnot) because it shows that not only can they write a message, they can't do with SUBTLY if their lives depended on it.

    And am I the only one who can't stand when groups brag about their bio-fuel powered stuff yet they never share this world-saving tech with other people, thus cutting down on pollutants. Nope, rather sit on your ass and chortle about how powerful YOU are instead of making the world a better place and sharing it. F-ing douche bags.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Meredith. Also like your choice of avatar. Man I haven't played Darkstalkers in...how long?