Hello, Spongey here.
I think it’s time to get back to doing TV reviews. It’s not a marathon but you can expect a few in the coming months. We’ll begin with one I was going to do in November but forgot about out until now.
I’ll make the intro quick since my problems with this target don’t play much into my feelings on the show itself. Let us go back to Disney XD with Gamer’s Guide to Pretty much Anything! Disney XD has two kinds of live action shows:
The action/story driven shows with crazy arcs and stuff, and what I call the …Bro shows. You know, the ones focusing more on dumb humor and boys being boys. I’m in the Band, Crash and Bernstein, etc.
They’ve been doing mostly action ones lately, so they had to do a Bro one, which is where Gamer’s Guide comes in. Explaining the premise is pointless, as it just comes down to a bunch of Gamer’s going on crazy adventurers and trying to make it big.
The fact that the main guy was once on a big circuit and is only now going to real school is barely touched on after the pilot. The show itself is fine. I have no beef with it, it’s just typical for this kind of show.
I have no attachment to it like with other XD shows, but I don’t care about it one way or the other. So imagine my surprise when only 3 episodes, came one I really didn’t care for. It doesn’t even involve most of the issues with the show, it just comes out of nowhere.
That’s why I waited a bit to do this one. If it had issues with the show, I would do it soon just to mention the problems now and compare them to later to see if it improves. But since the problems seen here rarely pop up, it’s safe to mull it over.
Now that I’ve had time, let’s finally look at this thing. It’s the most biazze XD dud so far with it’s issues, so this should be fun. I will warn you that the big problem doesn’t come til near trhe end but it’s important to pay attention to the rest as well.
Let’s get this over with.
This, is The Puddin’ Party
Writer: Frank O Wolf
The episode stats at the Obligatory Sitcom Hangout, in this case a Seafood Restaurant, as Connor announces they are saving money to go to Game Con. Let me take the through the characters briefly:
Connor is the wise ass main character, Ashley is the girl, Franklin is the nerd, and Wendell is the asshole. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Things are coming along decently with their saving up, and it’s right here where the seeds of the plot are planted.
Wendell mocks Franklin for playing an App game call Puddin’ party. Even Conner says that as a casual game, you only play it alone…in your bathroom…behind the shower curtains….with the windows shut. I’d bash them for that but they do worse things later on. But keep Franklin’s role in this in mind for later.
Also, given what happens later. I’m almost convinced this episode is saying all app games are “lesser” and bad. And….to be fair, that’s true of all the big cash cows and I doubt this is making any important statement.
Wendell takes the game away from, and gives it a brief chance. Then right as he’s doing so, he already starts to get into it. Yep, the plot is getting started right away and in this case it doesn’t work.
It kind of makes the pacing too fast and while it doesn’t seem too bad now, you’ll later see that my big issue could have been avoided if this started a bit later. After the intro, Wendell shows up at school the next morning all tired and smelling bad.
Strange how his parents just let him leave looking like that, but okay. Oh, and on a side note, one running gag in this show is that an “Achievement” is unlocked when something important happens. It’s really stupid.
Instead of showing us what is happening, Connor just straight up tells us through V-logs that Franklin starts losing interest in the stuff he loves, and skips gaming stuff.
“The Wendell I know would have a made a series of Twine videos-”
Not even gonna let you finish that, just cuz you made that reference. Connor shows up at his house and finds out that Wendell is pretty much a wreck due to being addicted to the phone.
“Who I hurting?!”
“You’re hurting yourself”
Yep, this is a big Drug allegory. And as odd as that is, it’s not a bad concept. Actually to be honest it’s mostly enjoyable in this episode. …However, it becomes really messed up when you see the ending.
Just look at how messed up Wendell is. He’s a wreck! Trust me, as usual me pointing stuff out pays off in the end. Also, the bad pacing is still a problem as he just becomes a wreck in the manner of a few minutes in episode time of it developing slowly.
It would have been here interesting if they did it properly.
“Friends? I don’t need friends”
Honestly stuff like this is more depressing than funny but the wacky tone makes it passable….now. Conner leaves and tells his friends about all of this.
“For some, it’s the party that never ends
Franklin says he’s not messed up because he has will power and self control. This is followed by a dumb joke, but it is an interesting thing to keep in mind. This bit seems to say this stuff is fine if you have self control, but other bits make it seem like it’s all bad all the time.
Because it’s a “Free” App, you have to pay for the good stuff and Wendell is using their Game Con money to pay for it. He’s gotten so bad he’s taking his friends money. Ouch. He took this money off of “Pay Buddy” by the way. Ugh.
To drive the Drug thing home, they hold an intervention. After a tiny scene of that, they start their attempts to rehabilitate him I’m pretty sure professional help from someone like his legal guardian would be better. Just saying.
The Rehab section is the best part of the episode, since it doesn’t have as many issue and some of it s kind of amusing. It’s on the cruel side but given how far he went, I think it’s fair. They basically try to make him sick of Puddin’ so he won’t even dare try to touch the game again.
This is used because the proper way, through making him realize how much this hurting him and his friends, wouldn’t be as wacky and wouldn’t give them an excuse to have the bad part coming up.
Despite what I said about the cruel thing, having someone dressed as the Nanna from the game punch him in the balls is…a bit much.
After a couple scenes of that, we see that he’s back to normal. Yep, it just happens after a bit of torture. The pacing in this is all over the place. And once again the big problem coming up makes this worse.
“You hit the bottom, not sleeping, not bathing…having to go the bathroom in a literal box”
Seriously, how do his parents not know what is going on? The fact that they crack a joke involving his sibling and Dad makes that even dumber!
It seems like Wendell has made a solid recovery from his addiction. And since we’re now only 12 minutes into a 21 minute episode, you sadly know we’re not done.
Wendell got a job at the restaurant to make them their Game Con money. He seems a bit happier than usual but he has a pretty good reason, just wanting to make it up to them. I point that out for later.
Despite all this happiness, they are a long way from getting to Game Con. They clear out all the merch he bought and find a flier for a Puddin’ Party Tournament where the first prize is a thousand bucks.
And now part of of “later” has come on. Get a load of this:
“That would be enough to get us to Game Con!”
“And only one us has played enough Puddin’ Party to win that tournament’
….Oh boy, here we go. You read that correctly. They will now get him back into the thing he was addicted to, for their own personal gain.
…There’s so much wrong, I’m not sure where to begin. First off, they don’t learn that this is bad. They actually kind of win in the end as a result of this. Aside from this making them throughly unlikable, I think I can sum up the big issue here easily.
Let’s go down what happened…but replace Puddin’ Party with that this really is. A guy gets addicted to drugs to the point that he is a wreck and steals his friends hard earned money. After he is back to normal, his friends try to get him back into drugs for their own personal gain, despite how broken he was due to them before.
…Yeah, that sounds pretty horrible once you actually think about it for a moment. And that’s the big problem here. While it could have just been a look at addiction in general, they go so far I can only connect it to drugs.
Lately I’ve been saying shows do allegory stories, usually for comedy and fail because they didn’t follow this simple test: Go back and replace all instances of the allegory in the script with the real thing.
If something is off, change it unless it’s done in a way where morality doesn’t matter. Everything about this is just off, mostly because it makes the other characters incredibly unlikable.
Even Franklin, the “nice” one is on board. Infact, everyone just signs ups without questioning anything! Yes, it just has them seeing this than immediately cuts to them trying to get him back on the drugs.
But you know what the dumbest part of all this as? The whole reason they are doing this is because Wendell is the only person that can win them the tournament, since he plays the game.
Uh…how about THE CHARECTER WHO STARTED THIS WHOLE PLOT TO BEGIN WITH?! This whole thing starts because Franklin played the game, and yet they COMPLETLY forget about him for a contrived and terrible plot point!
Not only is this now horrible, it’s horrible for a completely contrived reason! Ugh!
Okay, let’s get through the rest of this. A quick tricks fails so they just flat out tell him they need him to win the tournament for him, but he refuses due to what the drugs did to him. I’m gonna keep calling it that to drive the point home.
Wendell changes his mind…after Ashley threatens him. Such great friends we have here. So we cut to the tournament.
“He tried making a run for it in the parking lot, but I got him”
How do you write this and decided it’s in any way funny?
Wendell is naturally too afraid to play the game right due to his rehab.
“We broke him”
He was already broken thanks to the game. You made afraid to touch the thing that hurt his life. You did nothing wrong in the grand scheme of tings. He’s only changed when it comes to the game.
Conner gets an idea to get Wendell back. He tells this one bitchy girl in the tournament that Wendell mocked him so that her getting up in his grill will get him bad enough to get his mojo back and beat him.
Given his character, this is technically the way to get him out. It’s the motivation and the fact that they are trying to get him back that are the problems here.
This works and he gets angry enough to kick her ass. With that, Wendell wins. Yeah, we got someone back into the thing they were horribly addicted to! …That sounds messed up when you say it like that.
At least the fake audience it’s cheering this time. I’m still not over it!
The Nanna person from earlier pops up to give him his prize, and due to earlier, he attacks her. Uh…looks like he’s not quite fixed. This little bit is messed up in a few ways, but I’m tired.
And with a quick scene with that girl that has nothing to comment on, the episode ends. So kids, if your friend has a horrible addiction that ruins his life, it’s okay to get him back on it for your own gang because he just isn’t himself if he isn’t a competitive jerk!
I really question these writers sanity sometimes.
While it’s not quite as painful as No Rhyme or Treason, or technically as poorly paced as Gold Diggers, it’s easily the most ill convinced and messed up Disney XD “Dud” I’ve seen so far.
I just have no idea what they were even going for. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were trying to do a storywhere a character is forced to change and the new version is shown to be worse.
And if so, they failed for the simple reason that nothing the Changed Wendell does is wrong. He only does something bad AFTER this crap happens and we are given no indication that this is even why they wanted him back.
They only wanted him back for their own gain. Compare that to something like I Didn’t Do It’s take on it, where we actually see New Garret had a negative impact on everyone else.
Usually that’s how this plot works, and when they want him back, it’s for his own good. Here, not so much. This is the perfect example of the writers not reading what they wrote before moving on. They go out of their way to show how terrible Wendell is when he’s on the addiction.
It gets to the point where it’s more disturbing and sad then funny, because that’s actually how it works in real life. It’s almost too real, which makes everything even more screwed up. Why go through so much effort only to just ruin everything?
Yes, he’s not addicted at the end but that doesn’t change the writing issues. We still see no reason to want Wendell back on the game. Maybe they thought they went too far, but they don’t say that and in a way they had to do it because sometimes if a friend is far gone, you gotta do the harsh things.
They could have what I suggested before but the way it’s written still shoots that excuse in the foot. The pacing just makes it worse because if they paced it right, they wouldn’t need the crappy third act stuff.
That’s the easiest way to improve this: Make him get addicted and rehabilitation at a more steady pace so we can end with how this thing middles, and still keep a lot of the wacky hiinkx from the first and 2nd acts of the episode.
In an adult show, the weird stuff in the 3rd act with them getting back into would be fine given most adults know that’s bad, but it’s really wrong to do it in a kid’s show.
This episode is just poorly thought out from every angle. Any possible thing they wanted to do it is ruined by how poorly written it is, causing tons of unfortunate implications making the characters all horribly unlikable.
They were trying so hard to make this as over the top and crazy as possible that they forgot to actually think anything through. Even in a silly kid sitcom, you at least need a coherent story.
While it has it’s moments, all the problems making this a pretty big flop. Seriously, Sam and Cat did a better app addiction episode!
I have special plans for other TV reviews, but you’ll see that another time. In the meantime, look forward to other stuff I have planned. Also, I only just realized I faced Cameron Boyce two days in a row. Weird.