Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dino Squad - Never Judge a Dinosaur By Its Cover

Apologies in advance; I missed this episode in Jaroo’s rotation and in order to have it ready for Halloween 2010 I had to make do with a taped-off-TV copy on Veoh. Hence the slightly lower picture quality and network logos.

The not-really Halloween episode opens on a tame party in Fiona’s backyard. Buzz is there as Toucan Sam, Fiona’s a pirate and her little sister Terry is, I guess, dressed as Cinderella dressed as Marge Simpson. Buzz does a dance called the Funky Pterodactyl, a pop culture reference kids in 2008 would totally get. And would totally find funny if they did (/sarcasm).

One of Terry’s friends, Samantha, who came dressed as the Tooth Fairy, disses Buzz and actually says his dance is “for the birds.” The only real person I’ve ever heard say that was a barber of mine, and he was coming up on his 70’s.

Terry tries to stick up for Buzz, but they’re all interrupted when an old lady with paint-splattered clothes comes by and yells at them to turn down that infernal music. She can’t concentrate on her work, apparently. Yeah well, I know Halloween night’s not a good time to try to get anything creative done, and I’m the kind of private, creative type she’s supposed to be.

Samantha, as kids are wont to do, makes the music louder when the volume’s protested. Because she’s meant to be a role model, Fiona turns it back down and apologizes to the lady, Mrs. Carrel. Sam talks about how she lives in this ugly old house and doesn’t interact with anyone except when she‘s chasing them off the property. Being a role model Fiona counters that just because she’s different that’s no reason to be mean to her. After all, it probably means she’s actually a sparkly vampire, and that forgives any and all character flaws.

Not to Samantha, though, who tries to get Terry to call the cops on Mrs. Carrel for disturbing their party. And not to Terry, who actually does call the cops.

Literally right then some of Veloci’s flunkies pull up outside Mrs. Carrel’s house in their dino-truck. How does Veloci explain all his company vehicles looking like that? They ooze up a spider, talking some about how this might lure out the five dinosaurs that show up whenever Veloci puts another Evil Scheme into motion.

This didn’t come up in any of the episodes I’ve reviewed before, but in others it’s been mentioned that Veloci wants to capture the five “perfect” dinosaurs because they’ve made a complete change into a prehistoric reptile, instead of being a regular animal that’s the size of a dinosaur like the mutants he usually creates. He actually does want them to show up so he can capture them and figure out why their change is complete. In case you’re wondering why they’d be up to no good where the dinosaurs that always upset their schemes seem to live. Maybe he’d want more than two guys with minimal weaponry around, then.

Yes, they're saying a teenager would dress up as Little Bo Peep.
Cut to the lighthouse, which has a gigantic jack o’ lantern around the light. Some kids run up to the door to trick or treat. This place looks a fair ways away from town, what the heck kind of parents do these kids have? And what kinds of trick-or-treaters are the kids? They run off to hit the next house after Moynihan gives exactly one of them candy.

Why not? It's not as if people depend on that for their lives.
Wouldn’t you know it, Rodger's handheld monster detector (he apparently has nothing better to do than hang out at the lighthouse on Halloween, go figure) goes off right then. Because Buzz and Fiona are closest, the two of them get asked to head in first with the rest of the Squad on the way. Terry, who evidently knows why her sister really hangs out with guys like Buzz and Caruso, agrees not to let anyone leave while they’re next door mutant hunting.

Veloci’s goons are watching from the bushes, and figure Fiona and Buzz are just trick-or-treaters. Maybe it’s different in Maine but where I live kids stopped trick-or-treating by senior year (Buzz is the youngest Squad member at seventeen). Given their age and how they’re toting guns that look like novelty Super Soakers, wouldn’t the inclination be to think they’re vandals? On the other hand, then the goons wouldn’t have been able to toss out this hilarious bon mot: “Now that that spider’s mutated, they’re going to be treated to a real trick.”

On the other hand that’s Shakespeare compared to what the kids say when nobody answers the door.

Buzz: “You into that ‘ladies first’ stuff?”
Fiona: “No, I’m into that ‘spinosauruses first’ stuff.”

I’m sorry, what?

Some people might want the use of both eyes to hunt a dangerous mutant. These people are called "wimps"

They open the door when nobody answers and go in. Then a squad car pulls up front, and Terry realizes she might have made an oops since the kids are technically trespassing and lugging unregistered weapons around while they look for the mutant. She runs inside, screams in surprise as she runs into them, and cops to calling the cops. Weird people are dangerous, after all.

“I’m weird to some people, but I’m not dangerous,” Buzz counters. Uh, yeah he is. Not because of the having a Mohawk and liking bugs stuff, but what about the turning into a dinosaur and having a supervillain out to get him stuff?

The rest of the Squad shows up outside on their dinosaur motorcycles, wearing their dinosaur crash helmets. Which they take off before going inside. And I see no reason to assume the goons in the bushes haven’t noticed all of this. In fact with six kids having gone into the house they decide it’s important enough to bother Veloci himself about it. And they won’t bother to make any effort to remember what any of those kids, only one of whom wore a mask, looked like. And the masked kid had a huge green Mohawk. Which he has every other day of the year, too.

Since the Squad members haven’t bothered to check in with their buddies despite having walkie-talkie watches, both groups hear noises, and both groups explode into the same room and zap each other with their freeze guns. Please tell me none of them join the military or the police force after getting out of high school. It takes them a while to notice the giant spider coming down to meet them too, even with orange slime falling on Caruso’s head from the ceiling.

Fiona goes dino and squares off with the spider, and they snap at each other until the other kids manage to “chill and spill” the spider.

We’re ten minutes in and the monster’s already been defeated, so we’ll need a new crisis to fill out the rest of the run time. This presents itself when the cops, doling out some of the most fake-sounding scolding you’ll ever hear to Terry’s guests (“Young lady, calling the police is a serious matter. You can’t do it just because you don’t like someone’s appearance!”) is interrupted by Veloci showing up.

What's wrong with your baaaaaaadge?
The cops recognize him on sight (to be fair, it’s hard to mistake a haircut like that), and ask no questions when he says the house is the site of a possible outbreak. Like “outbreak of what,” and “why are you going in there if only your underlings have hazmat suits on?” And "why are their helmets detailed to look like dinosaur mouths?"

The kids realize they’re not going anywhere, and not just because there’s no way to get out without being seen by Veloci or some of Kittery Point’s finest. Fiona got bitten during the fight and while she’s only sick and weak as a dinosaur, if she were to shrink back into a human with the venom in her system, well…it would be really bad.

I get the house is all decrepit, but why keep your broken windows? With winter coming.
Rodger gets some of the venom on the end of a pencil and has Buzz fly to the lighthouse to see if Moynihan can whip up an antidote. Somehow nobody sees a pteranodon flying away from the house for all it’s worth. Then again a drop of venom stays on the tip of a pencil despite being carried in the claws of a prehistoric avian on a flight of a few miles. I’m supposed to be learning from this show?

The other kids run interference while Veloci literally sniffs around the house in his raptor form looking for whatever registered as a second blip on his flunkies’ dino-scanner. Why not use the scanner, you ask? That’s why you’re not writing for Dino Squad, I answer. Terry gets separated from the guys, but runs into Mrs. Carrel who pulls her into a secret passage while Veloci goes by.

Even saving her from “that horrible beast” hasn’t earned Terry’s trust. By the way, Mrs. Carrel’s the one who makes the “horrible beast” crack, so for all this episode tries to teach you about not judging a book by its cover, she wasn’t entertaining any possibilities besides Veloci being a malicious monster. What about the first episode, where Moynihan specifically told the kids not to kill the monster because it was just an extremely large animal trying to survive? The same guy wrote both this episode and that one.

Oh, but she’s never seen a real dinosaur before, you say. Next Mrs. Carrel takes Terry up to her attic and explains why she keeps to herself. That’s actually the second velociraptor she’s seen. She shows Terry a picture she painted of a green raptor she saw when she was young. The show doesn’t explain this but presumably this was Moynihan, whose dino-form was green in the pilot and who would have done everything she possibly could not to be threatening. And from a meta perspective, this is Dino Squad. The fights are so non-violent absolutely nothing was done to indicate Fiona had been bitten by that spider until after the “fight.”

Nobody believed she saw a dinosaur, so she stopped talking to people and started painting dinosaur heads. If she was about Terry’s age when it happened, where does Mr. Carrel enter into things?

While Terry’s been learning not to judge recluses by their covers, the boys have set a trap for Veloci by having Caruso go dino, so he’ll smell a dinosaur and come to them. They think they hear him coming and rush out, going dino themselves, only to find out that all the dust just made Caruso sneeze. Lucky for them, before Veloci can get in the floorboards give out and they fall into the basement.

He enters the room, but right then Mrs. Carrel gets to the breaker switches and kills the lights. This convinces Veloci to give up the search even though they have flashlights.

Since there’s no outbreak of whatever, the cops send everybody home. Why didn’t they do that in the first place? Or if they were afraid some of the whatever might have contaminated the area why didn’t they call for backup to quarantine the house?

Buzz shows up with the antidote, Fiona’s cured and the Dino Squad, being such a bunch of role models, fix up all the stuff they wrecked. Plus Mrs. Carrel’s decided maybe it’s time to stop hiding from the world. Terry, because she’s learning to be a role model, decides to stick around and keep fixing the place up even though she’s done the community service her parents are making her work. Even when her Samantha and her other “friends” offer to take her shopping to get away from the creepy old freak-lady.

I see a bright future ahead for Terry on the elementary school lecture circuit.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you mention that the show is so water-downed that all injuries have to be MENTIONED and not seen in order for a crisis to start. YUP! DAT'S A 'Y' RATIN' DARE!