Hello, Spongey here.
It’s time to follow up on a post from a couple years ago. I had been reviewing bad TV episodes in various posts for years and I was getting a bit tired of it. But just slowing down on them wasn’t enough. So I took inspiration from Norty and did a post going over better versions of some of those episodes. As in, episodes that did some of the ideas in those far better.
I enjoy doing it, as it was a good way to show that any idea can work and I was able to be more constructive about past episodes I had reviewed. It turned out well so two years later, I’m here to do it again. By now, I’m amassed a solid amount of other example of better versions of episodes I’ve reviewed so yeah, we’ll do it.
Fair warning, quite a bit of the kidcom ones this time around. There’s more of those than the cartoon episodes. Guess it was just easier to come up with those this time. I don’t have anything to add before getting into a couple side things before we dive in.
First is that Norty has done a few Fixing the Flops for ones I also covered, most of them infact. For Candace Gets Busted he had Not Phineas and Ferb (I suggested it although in hindsight I think She’s The Mayor works better since it pulls off an ass pull ending better), Dan Vs Dancing was Dan Vs The Mechanic, Keep Beach City Weird was Horror Club, and White Elephant Gift Exchange was Big Winner.
That just leaves Girl meets the Bay Window and Fed Up With Antoine, which he did recently. Those were all good picks, btw, got nothing to add. Second off, there’s two that I considered before realizing certain things so here they are, quickly.
Kang-a-Rooney [Liv and Maddie]: I reviewed Steal-a-Rooney, where basically someone tries a scheme to help out one of their siblings and it backfires and I thought of trying to find something for it. However, I remembered this Halloween episode that I already reviewed which also revolves around a similar setup to what I described. Since I covered it already, no need to do it again. It also happens to be the only other episode Ocean was in before vanishing forever.
Captain Mateo [Elena of Avalor]: I included a fixed version of this one in the first first one and went with SpongeBob’s Naughty Nautical Neighbors since it was also about friends getting a dumb fight over who is the better friend to someone. However, a bit after the post, this episode aired which has a better and more natrual feeling Gabe vs Mateo conflict. Really wish I waited, since I did stretch a bit on that lol. I don’t care about this one enough to fix it twice so I left it out.
With all that said, let’s see what I managed to find this time.
This is, More better versions of Bad episodes I’ve reviewed
Again, we’ve got 10 and in the order I reviewed the bad one.
Spike Fright [Lab Rats]
Better Version of: Face Of
Writer: Greg Schaffer
We begin with a counter to one of the tamer bad episodes I’ve reviewed. You may not even recall the review, it was basically a filler one.
So for the refresher, that episode has an okay set up for comedy but ruined it by having the idiot character Adam be even more infuriating than usual. He gets pranked but takes it in stride, then laughs as Chase ends up being trapped as Bree while going on a date with a guy ….Okay, that part is awkward in hindsight.
And in the end Bree lost because reasons that were due to Principal Perry, someone who is even worse than Adam. I almost went Bro Down, which explores Adam and Chase surprisingly well but then I stumbled upon this which is more directly like that episode but ends on a stronger note. So let’s take a look.
Much like Face Off, this one is rather simple: A girl named Sabrina takes a liking to Chase, which everyone will not shut up the unlikely-ness of. Adam saw her first so he of course complains about it and sabotages Chase. See, he has this commando app that turns him into an alter ago called Spike that goes berserk when he’s quite pissed off.
So he takes advantage of that. First off, there’s solid escalation. Adam goes from just making a few comments, to trying to make Chase nervous during a study date, then Spike comes in. It builds up naturally and it doesn’t feel like he goes full asshole right away. The scene where he goes full Spike is solidly executed too.
Sabrina thinks it’s fine and even cute that he gets nervous since he hasn’t a girlfriend before but Chase dwells on it too much and lets it get to him. So while it is mostly Adam’s fault, Chase’s own insectivores get the best of him on his own in a fairly natural way. Plus, Adam actually has a motivation, as petty as it is.
In Face Off, he’s just being a jerk for no real reason. He’s like this in general, but there it just felt like a way to jump start the plot than anything else and hos smugness was really annoying. This has it move the plot in a better way so it’s not as annoying and he’s still not quite as bad here. He does something arguably worse too much but the execution is simply stronger.
It’s also extremely cathartic to see Spike/Chase throw Adam across the room.
But more importantly, Adam realizes what he did was wrong and makes up for it by explaining everything to Sabrina. He even fixes their science project that was smashed! Yeah, it’s pretty basic but the moment where Chase calls him out was well done. I wish we actually saw her get back together with him, as that all happens off screen. I also wish she appeared in the show again but these shows love one off love interests who don’t really matter.
Adam fixing the project helps, as it has him showing he’s sorry rather than just telling. We know he’ll be back to mocking him in the next episode, so let him have this one good moment at least. It’s nothing that deep but it works.
There’s also a subplot where Leo, Bree, and Davenport think Perry killed someone. It’s pretty standard as far as where it goes but it works and has a funny payoff. Principal Perry actually works better in subplots like this where we don’t focus too much on how awful she is. Although I agree, her in shorts is far scarier than her killing someone.
As is Spike calling Sabrina “Daddy’s kitten”. Yuck.
This episode is fairly basic but it’s solid. The pacing is decent and there’s some amusing moments in both plots. I like how Leo keeps forgetting he has a bionic arm, because I do too. Yes, that’s a thing that happened.
It shows they can some millage out of Adam being jerk while actually having it contribute to the plot and having face consequences while learning his lesson. In Face Off, it just took away from what could have been a fine plot on its own and it just felt like it had no point in the end. I don’t need anything too deep but Adam just got in the way.
Here it all just works. It’s just a solid episode. The weird thing is that Face Off was the next episode to air but this comes up first in production order. So Disney’s airing order is to blame for it seeming like they lost their mojo there.
It’s a basic example of a better version of a bad episode, which works as a way to start this edition.
Breakup and Shakeup [Jessie]
Better Version of: Love Ty-Angle [Dog With a Blog]
Writer: Sally Lapiduss
So, I might be stretching on this one. Love Ty-Angle was a Dog with a Blog episode that had a love triangle plot which they ended up screwing up, but not quite for the usual reasons. The love triangle aspect wasn’t really the problem, as it at least made sense with the set up and wasn’t as annoying as it could have been. However, in the end when he picks Emily, a girl who has more in common with him, she rejects him because she doesn’t like that he was picking one of them to begin with or some crap like that. The review has the full context but even there it felt odd.
He then is forced to go with Nikki, a girl he liked who hated on him but now started to like him but she rejects him she hears she was a backup choice. The problem was that they were trying to have a more mature handling of this but it feels very forced. This would be fine if he ended up with neither, but instead he realizes it was always Nikki. Even though things were going better with Emily and she only rejected him for dumb reasons. Nikki has more legit reasons and was basically a backup choice.
It just felt very fanfic-y, and ruins any attempt at being mature they were going for. It ends up being standard instead of subversive. Because it was a more unique to screw up a love triangle plot, I think going more out of the box for the fixed version is fitting. So we’ve got a Jessie episode that also tried a more mature way to resolve a wacky love triangle plot and surprisingly did it really well.
The setup is that that Tony, the doorman who Jessie is dating, gets a trainee doorwoman named Vicki that turns out be a childhood friend. They naturally get along too well which makes Jessie quite jealous. So she (and by she I mean Emma) invites an old friend of Jessie’s to make Tony jealous. And in an amusing coincidence, Ted is played by Spencer Boldman aka Adam from Lab Rats. Heh.
For the most it’s typical for this sort of story, as they all start fighting and trying to make each other jealous. It mainly works for feeling at least somewhat less annoying. Tony doesn’t really do anything wrong here, as he is mostly just friendly with Vicki and it’s Jessie who starts all this. He feels pretty normal so it’s all just people being annoying all the time.
Jessie isn’t exactly the most likable given she is the one most unhappy with the relationship, and how is the jealous one in all this. That can be a problem but at least it’s addressed in the end. There’s some amusing antics, my favorite joke being after Tony angrily smashes a package for Jessie, then is like “Btw, you gotta sign for that”. It’s a funny little bit reality in the middle of the sitcom jokes.
Near the end, they have a double date which ends up Ted and Vicki dating each other due to the two being annoying. Vicki claims Tony was being jealous even though not really and Jessie started it, even if she didn’t see it. That is slightly forced but compared to Love Ty-angle, it’s not so bad. As for Ted, he used to be more uh…homely and is now handsome and he realizes he shallow Jessie is for only now being into him. So yeah, they address her bitch-y parts at least, even if that whole “person dunked for not being typically pretty is liked more after becoming pretty” stuff isn’t great.
But hey at least it’s not the focus and Debby is on the other end of it this time. Sorry, couldn’t resist that observation.
This makes Jessie and Tony realize that the spark in their relationship is just gone now, and they break it off. In hindsight perhaps the title was a dead give away. They did a good job of setting this up at the very start with them realize they are sick of both their current dating habits, especially Jessie. They used to love doing things they hate because they were together but now that’s just gone.
This is where the maturity really comes in. The usual sitcom hi-jinx were involved but with the set up it feels more realistic as to why couples break up. Sometimes the spark just leaves and there’s not much you can about it, and them noticing other people really made them see that they should break it off.
Granted, they end up together near the end of the show anyway but I guess they just needed a break. Or they wanted to appease the shippers, either one works. Oh and they agree to stay friends at least. Although it is amusing since they had a whole song in another episode about the past year for them was so great and then this happens.
Love Ty-Angle was trying for something similar but it just feel prey to the usual problems, with them picking a side that didn’t really fit, just because they wanted it. They chickened out of it despite setting it up and it just made it a mess. This goes all the way with it and it feels better written as a result.
The break up scene is really well done, this show could have decent dramatic moments where the fake audience is silent and this is one of them. Before I forget, there’s a subplot where Luke and Ravi help Bertram get healthier and they try to outdo each other. It’s decent, as neither gets out of hand and they are punished in the end.
Overall, this episode mixes in decent comedy antics with a more mature take on a break up story than you may expect from this show. It’s pretty solid and it works. Love Ty-Angle just felt forced all around, while this at least feels more natural. Not perfect but compared to the other one, the writing is better.
This is an episode I’ve appreciated for a while so this gave me a excuse to go over it and show the difference between doing something because it makes for a better story, and doing it just because you want certain people together. As far as break up stories go, it’s good.
And hey, any show that manages to make someone breaking up with Debby Ryan seem plausible has pulled off a miracle. …Shut up.
#YayDay [Sam and Cat]
Better Version of: #MadAboutShoe
Writer: Dan Schneider and Warren Bell
You read that correctly, we’re fixing a Sam and Cat episode with…another Sam and Cat episode. For obvious reasons I’m not super into talking about Dan Schneider these days but I’d like to talk about this one just because I’ve always found it interesting. Sam and Cat was bad, #MadAboutShoe is bad and Dan Schneider is bad.
Mad About Shoe remains the worst of the kidcom episodes I’ve reviewed because it really just sums up everything wrong with the worst ones. The plot is an excuse for jokes which is fine except they’re annoying and the characters are all horrible. Cat got obsessed with finding a shoe and it belonged to some Zoey 101 character who is in the hospital, then she takes it and it’s a happy ending I guess. I don’t know, it was a mess.
Sam and Cat was often like that, it lacked a lot of the redeeming qualities of the other Schneider’s bakery shows. But there actually are some better episodes of it and this was my favorite. Not that it’s saying a lot but it did show it could have it’s positive elements, and I feel it works as a counter point to Mad About Shoe. It still has some of the dumb jokes and cruelty, and also has Cat getting too into something but it works up a far better ending.
Nothing too complicated to go over here. Cat decides to start a holiday called Yay Day which cuts all the crap and is just about presents. Sam is naturally not into it, mostly because Cat has a habit of snooping into her presents. She promises not to do so but that’s easier said than done.
Not a whole lot to say for most of it. It’s simple but it actually feels focused, as most of the jokes revolve around the holiday. There are some dumb filler jokes but not too many. The worst one is this running gag where they refuse to give Dice a drink for…reasons. See, even this episode has random cruelty for basically no reason.
But at least here it’s down played. Both Sam and Cat are fairly downplayed, being able to make jokes without being too unlikable. Cat’s snooping is just simply a quirk that’s pretty relatable, trust me. It gets her into trouble when she snoops into her present and finds mouth wash. Assuming Cat doesn’t care, she gives Sam a dirty pillow but whoops, turns out the tags were switched and the mouth mash was for Goome. Sam actually got Cat a cool jump rope for her.
So you get your sitcom jokes, but the characters are actually decent and it’s not bogged down by the humor. Not that I’m asking for tight plotting or everyone to be saints, but this feels more focused and the comedy can come from their vices while not going over board. Mad About Shoe leaned too far into making them jerks that it just made it all hard to watch.
It’s all basic and fun, but the reason this one was my favorite was due to the ending. See, Sam’s present comes with a note.
“I hate most people, but you I like”
I never expected a d’aww moment from this show that actually works but…d’aww.
It continues, as Sam goes to sulk about the pillow, and Cat follows, feeling guilty. It turns out Sam has a history of getting bad presents and that’s why this really hurt. Wow, some development that humanizes her a bit. This works surprisingly well.
Cat confess to snooping and Sam actually takes it well, and they both apologize. he end. The rest is fun but the ending is what makes this episode. It’s more heartwarming than what you’d expect and it actually works. It doesn’t feel forced, at least too much so. It’s cool to see these characters being more human, but still being able to be comedic.
This handles that story/comedy balances decently well in a way Mad About Shoe did not. That episode’s plot actually isn’t too bad as a simple comedy but the comedy itself was personally just bad and in the end they slap on a “sweet” moment with Nona that feels very odd given Cat just did something bad. Either stick to them being bad because it’s funny or don’t, it just felt odd.
This goes to the route of them being good and I simply wanted to show that this show could pull that off and I wish it did more often. Perhaps picking a wacky one that works would be better but eh, I just wanted to discuss this one because of the sweet ending.
Overall, a simple but fun and sweet episode. It shows that this show could work, even though most of the time it really didn’t. It keeps the annoying bits to a minimum and actually fleshes the leads out a bit more. Just a solid episode, if only this show had more like it.
Lucius O’Thunder Punch [Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja]
Better version of: Mastermind of Disastermind
Writers: Jed Elinoff & Scott Thomas, Tom Martin, Hugh Webber,
David Shayne, Jim Martin, and Ryan Harris
This episode remains of the messiest ones I’ve covered. Randy Cunningham wasn’t the best written show out there but most episodes at least felt like they had a point somewhere. This is the episode that started with Randy bragging about a fight that was frankly quite easy , and Howard felt that he could easily do what he does. He does so by trying to out “Mastermind” Randy and by that he means pulling dumb pranks.
They clearly wanted to do a sort of prank war episode, but got mixed in with a totally different one. It doesn’t circle back to Randy being overly brag-y, and the rest is just sloppy. I go into more detail there and honestly this could have a full review on its own.
I was too nitpick-y in hindsight but I still do think it’s weird that it gets off track and the set up doesn’t match the actual story. It just felt clumsy and pointless. Finding the better version was easy, there’s another episode that starts in a similar place but actually follows up on it.
It’s the 900th Annual Ninja Appreciation thingy, and Randy is being boastful about how awesome he is. He gets knocked down a peg when a new hero called Lucious O Thunderpunch comes in and starts stealing his thunder. But this hero is actually McFist in disguise, which they reveal at the start. I would complain but it doesn’t interfere too much with the story.
See, this episode seemed a bit weird in it’s execution. Usually in this story the other hero would actually be good and he’d learn to have humility and not be mad at someone just for stealing their thunder…punch. This seems to be a weak version of that as this hero is actually a villain who ditches them once The Sorcerer comes to town.
But here’s the thing: After The Nomicon tells him the Ninja must lay down his sword when he is no longer needed, Randy rips off Spider-Man 2 and throws the Ninja mask away. When evil strikes, Howard tells him he is needed and then he realizes what The Nomicon meant: The Ninja might not be as wanted right now but he is needed.
Randy was too stuck up his own ass and worrying about the other guy being better that he just gave up. It’s more about that than it easy about him being a full jerk about it. He should have just kept at it instead of complaining since eventually Lucious did reveal his true colors.
That’s actually decent clever. It’s what makes this works as an improvement over Mastermind. Both seem to drive off from what they start out as this but justifies it. It becomes a more clever written story than the usual take on this and makes you see what it’s actually about.
Mastermind just made me more confused when it all over. This episode flows well and mixes action, comedy and story well while that one was a clumsy mess. I feel that episode could have at least been decent fun but Howard’s actions alone make it hard to enjoy, and the story doesn’t help.
This has it more in order. It is more notably story focused than the other episode but it’s not an unfair advantage since it’s having your basic concept in order is kind of important regardless of what kind of episode it is. As I said, I was nitpick-y on that one and I get that not every story needs to be perfect in every detail.
But going over this episode made me like that one less since it wasted it’s potential while this one was able to play with expectations a tad. I also appreciate that it’s not about Randy being suspicious since that kind of story is even more cliche and it’s more interested in being about something else.
Overall, this is a pretty solid story that avoids being as messy with the concept as it seems. It’s able to be mix in different elements well while staying on track and is just a surprisingly good episode given the the setup. I don’t know why I pointed out the many writers before, given this one, among others, also has a bunch and is better constructed. Perhaps in one the crew was just in sync but either way, it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, a well written episode, as opposed to Mastermind where even the Disney+ description is just “Mastermind Ninja Defeat”. That’s not even a sentence!
The S Word [The Boondocks]
Better Version of: The New Black
Writer: Rodney Barnes
This one might be tricky to discuss but we’ll see how it goes. The Boondocks was a show that was usually good at satire, making fun of culture and current events in clever ways. But Season 4 came and dropped the ball, especially with The New Black. It had Riley getting in trouble for calling a student gay and there’s a whole media thing about it.
The episode seems like it’s meant to poke fun at outrage culture, I think, but it was very muddle to the point where I didn’t see the point in it all. I went into further detail there but basically this is how not do this kind of satire. Perhaps a looked a bit too deep into it, but there was so little going on that I kind of had to. While the media blitz is a bit much, he was being a dick so it failed as a way of making fun of this kind of thing.
I mentioned that it was a rehash of a previous episode and The S Word is that episode, so it was an easy pick. Let’s see how it did this far better. The plot is that a teacher calls Riley the N word…because Riley was saying it to him and he was just repeating it. He even apologies for it but Grandad keeps this up so they can free press and profit off all this,
It’s interesting how the tables are flipped in The New Black, with Riley being the offender. That makes sense but the execution was beyond muddy. This episode is pretty clear making fun of when people profit off of outrage, which isn’t super common these days but makes for an amusing situation.
The teacher wasn’t exactly right to say it back but in universe it is blown out of proportion. Honestly, this episode is pretty straight forward. It’s less about making a big point and more about just having fun with the set up. We have things like Rev. Rolo Goodlove using this to just advertise his crappy BET show and there’s good jokes that come from that.
Oh and they make fun of Ann Coulter, I have nothing to add other than that’s a thing that happens.
There’s certainly commentary to be found but nothing super deep. There’s a bit of a “Both sides” element here but not in an annoying way, it’s just meant to be funny. The New Black, in comparison, tries to do the same thing but the comedy and story just weren’t there. You could nitpick this episode in the same way but it’s not trying as hard to make it point.
It’s also more clear who is in the wrong here, the people trying to profit off this. Grandad hasn’t exactly learned much in the end but in a funny way that doesn’t make everything feel cheap. Meanwhile The New Black has a lame non ending.
This episode does almost fall into similar trappings with slightly unclear commentary, but it’s at least funny for most of it and I can tell who is being mocked and they deserve it. The funny thing is that this was actually inspired by a similar real life incident the news reports in the episode are beat for beat taken from the real life news report on it.
Seriously, they barely even exaggerated anything: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLZA32oHbC4
That’s great. Overall, it’s a funny episode that just takes advantage of it’s set up for good humor. It’s not too confusing and at least doesn’t leave me confused. It’s far from one of my favorite episodes but The New Black clearly didn’t really get what made this work. It’s almost there but it was just misguided at best.
Just shows how much the creator was needed. The show is coming back for HBO Max so hopefully it’s good. And yeah, that’s all I got.
Linda and Heather-a-Rooney (subplot) [Liv and Maddie]
Better Version of: Wedding Bells and Wacky Birds [Austin & Ally]
Writers: Linda Mathious & Heather MacGillvray (Gee I wonder where they got the names Linda and Heather from)
This is another easy pick. You may recall when I reviewed a few subplots, and this one from Austin & Ally was one of them. Basically, Dez and his girlfriend Carrie broke up in a previous episode and a few episodes later, this one comes in to reveal it was all a misunderstanding caused by them being idiots.
It would dumb on its own if it wasn’t dragged out over more than episode. It wasn’t the worst I suppose but it was an example of how not do write idiot characters. It ended up more annoying than funny. Misunderstanding stories like that are common but a Liv and Maddie episode came along and did something that reminded me directly of this one. This is another case where the fixed version aired after my review, which is always neat.
So here’s a better romantic misunderstanding subplot. To set up things, I should mention the backstory: Willow, Maddie’s wacky friend, had a thing for Joey, the older brother, but he didn’t like her back much. It’s that sort of “stalker-y jokes are okay when it’s a girl” although not quite as bad as even another example we’ll talk about later. Eventually they got together and went through an entire relationship in 5 minutes because she was leaving but then the Rooney’s ended up moving to where she went so it’s all good now.
With that lore out of the way, this subplot has them not speaking to each other because they believe the other broke up with them. It basically becomes a Rashamon kinda thing.
“You think you know a girl after she obsessively follows you for 3 years”
According to Joey, Willow just randomly flipped during a date. Then Willow says that she got bored of doing the same kind of date over and over again, and when she asks if they can do something else he’s like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. She’s like “I don’t wanna do this anymore” and he didn’t quite get what she means and he saw it as her being randomly angry.
So it’s clear from Willow’s side what happened there, but it still works as these kind of things go. The breakup is still a tad on the contrived side but it generally works in context. Joey just misunderstood what she meant because he was a bit in the clouds. He was a bit too attached to that 5 minute date and was too afraid to do anything else to mess it up.
Each side is understandable and the resolution is nice. Oh and the connection to a previous episode is another reason I am comparing to the Austin & Ally one. They end up splitting up and just becoming friends since they can’t replicate the special-ness of that short time together. It makes a little more sense in context.
Not the greatest break up plot, especially after the one we talked about, but not bad for a subplot. It helps that it was a pairing I wasn’t super into anyway. This subplot isn’t anything great but it at least is decent. The misunderstanding feels natural enough and has a solid resolution. Both parties are likable and I don’t leave this thinking they’re both idiots. Both episodes do kind of fit with the character but in Wacky Birds it felt like it stretched them too thin to the point of being aggravating.
Here it’s just simply written better. Although it is actually my least favorite of the 3 plots in this episode. There’s another subplot where Maddie competes with Ruby to teach her what losing feels like, only for her to be really good at everything. It could have felt cramped with 3 stories but none feel too short changed and neither were taken super seriously anyway. Aside from the one I’m reviewing I suppose. I do feel like it takes forever between each section for each subplot and it hurts the main one the most but it at least feels complete.
I mostly like the main one for the meta-ness of having Linda and Heather played by the women who portray Liv and Maddie from the back when they interact together. Also at the end Liv is signed for more of Sing It Loud, the show she was on, and it’s called Sing It Louder. That should be the name of the Fuller House style revival if you ask me.
So yeah basic stuff but it works for a subplot and it has everyone acting moderately smart. Not my most in depth section but whatever, this is a better way to handle this kind of story.
Overall, a solid episode with 3 decent plots, including this one.
“For a victory dance, you gotta dab or-”
Who Loves Orange Soda [Kenan & Kel]
Better Version of: The Puddin’ Party [Gamer’s Guide]
Writers: Sharon Sussman & Burt Wheeler
Hey, remember Game’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything? Of course you don’t, it was one of the more forgettable Disney Sitcoms out there. But I did watch it at the start and it happened to have a pretty bad episode with this one. It was just sort of there otherwise, which made this one even more baffling.
It had a character getting addicted to some pudding themed phone game and they are able to get him off it with some work. But then some competition based around the game comes up and the prize money will allow them to go to a con, so they get him back in the game. You can see the problem here. They go for this drug allegory story and actually go far in showing how it’s hurting him big time, then piss it all a way in the end.
It just felt weird for this kind of show, and the others don’t even get punished. Perhaps if they did this could work better but as it is the whole thing just felt awkward and botched. Perhaps I took a bit too seriously in the review but everything generally stands. Even as a parody, it just makes everyone unlikable and for the sake for a largley unfunny story.
Drug allegory stories played for laughs is quite common so picking a better version isn’t too hard. It is hard to pull this kind of thing off without being tasteless, but if you push the comedy far enough it’ll just be seen as a fun story and not insulting. Such is the case for a Kenan and Kel episode we’re looking at.
Kel’s…appreciation for Orange Soda is well documented and this episode takes that gag to new heights in this one. After discovering his insides are bright orange, Kel is asked to cut down on the orange soda. Kenan doesn’t think he could do this so they have a bet. If Kel can’t go a week without drinking the stuff, he has to do some comically embarrassing thing, and if Kel can do it, he has to do that.
It’s a bet story and it’s another one better than The Intruder. It makes for a way more set up to explore his addiction. It works as a bet story as Keenan is the only one truly in the wrong and that’s the point. It fits for his character as he can be a dick to Kel sometimes and I see how he thinks Kel couldn’t quite do it. Come to think of it, I’m also reminded me of JAM Session, where someone is trying to mess with another during a bet plot just to be a dick.
Here it just feels funnier. Mostly because temptation does come from other places than just Kenan. There’s a whole dream sequence with Kel bathing in Orange Soda (yes) that comes on its own. It’s just naturally hard for him to give it up and Kenan is just making it worse.
There’s some good jokes they get out of this that really push his addiction while making it silly enough to be funny. Again, that dream sequence was….something. Eventually Kel is taken to a hypnotist so they can help him kick this addiction. But Kenan his chart with that of a woman who wants her dog to be more aggressive.
Okay, that might be pushing it a bit for him but it gets so wild that it’s not as cruel as it could have been. Although shouldn’t the chart have mentioned that it’s a dog, thus cluing the doctor in?
Anyway, Kel becomes an angry dog on command and he ends up drinking Orange Soda out of a dog dish, thus losing the bet. However, Kenan tells Kel what he did and Kel was in a trance when he did it, meaning they both sort of lost. So they both have to do the embarrassing thing.
As I’ve mentioned before regarding others like this, having both parties lose makes it feel more equal. Kenan gets punished and while Kel doesn’t quite deserve it either, it’s not a big deal and it would be weird if only Kenan did it since Kel still technically drank it. His addiction isn’t really addressed but it’s not serious enough for that to be an issue.
I mean, most episodes just play it for laughs and don’t have it be a real problem for him. It’s one of those things where it’s only a problem for the one episode and it wasn’t even taken that seriously here. What makes this episode work is that it’s played up to just be really goofy and it never feels like it takes itself seriously.
The Puddin’ Party was also mostly silly but the scenes dealing with his addiction are played up to be slightly serious, just about a comedic thing. That works fine until the really bad 2nd half. This episode puts a more fun spin on it where nothing is serious and it’s just goofy fun.
There is a Gamer’s Guide episode where they have a competition so who can go longest without gaming which I could have done instead but the addiction aspect made this more interesting as a comparison.
This episode does it right by making it so silly that I’m never really thinking of the real live version of this. It’s got some good humor and the big jerk gets punished in the end. If it was botched, I could see this being really bad but thankfully it’s just a silly and fun plot.
If you wanna play an addiction for comedy, this episode shows you a more fun way to do it. Perhaps there’s better serious takes on this kind of thing in a kids show but as far as the comedy version, this is pretty solid.
Also, Kenan says Kel’s insides were more orange than the “Nickelodeon Logo”. The world than imploded from the logic hole this caused. And speaking of Kenan and Kel…
Meat Your Maker [Regular Show]
Better Version of: Freezer Burned [Kenan and Kel]
This was one of the easiest choices on here. When I first saw this one, I was reminded me of the other one. I covered this in a double feature and there are some similarities to that one to be found too. Stories about characters getting trapped are common enough to where I can pick plenty.
But I went with this early Regular Show episode mainly because it involves them being trapped in a freezer due to one certain character making a mistake. It plays things for drama, kinda like Get the Kel Out of Here but it actually goes all with the way and it feels earned. And unlike Freezer Burned, the character isn’t unlikable all the way through!
Regular Show was generally comedic but as it went along showed it had more depth than you might expect and this episode was one of the first to showcase that. This episode has the park getting ready for their annual barbecue. Benson buys some special premium hot dogs, and tasks Rigby with getting him out. He tells him not to grill them yet so of course he does.
His attempt to light the grill causes it to catch fire and ruin the hot dogs. This is the final straw for Mordecai, as Rigby is always pulling stuff like this.
“You’ve pissed me off”
Not on the DVD, there you’re “ticked” off. Gotta love censoring in a show that has shown way worse.
They go down to the meat locker to get new ones, and Rigby gets them trapped in. This episode really tests Rigby, as he makes some pretty dumb mistakes and pushes Mordecai to his limit. Right off the bat, it works because it doesn’t feel contrived. It’s pretty on brand for him to just ignore Benson’s orders but it doesn’t feel too salacious.
Same goes with his failed attempt to grill them or getting them trapped in. They come across as simple mistakes rather than making him obnoxious or stupid. It makes sense and feels natural for the story, while in Freezer Burned it felt like they were pushing it way too far for the sake of comedy.
While that’s all well good, let’s be real on what the real highlight of this episode is: The evil hot dog voiced by Tim Curry. …Okay, the context is that Rigby finds a box of talking hot dogs who help them get out, and they turn on them. God I love how weird this show was. By the way, between the Randy Cunningham and this, this is the 2nd episode with Tim Curry it on here. I like that
The resolution is that the hot dogs discover how tasty they are and eat each other. Once again, the day is saved with vore. That’s a sentence I just said.
Getting back to critiquing, the drama really works here. Mordecai gets more fed with Rigby as it goes on, to the point where he freezes while mad at him. It’s good stuff and it’s really heartbreaking when this happens. Again, Rigby’s mistakes happen because he’s genuinely trying and just screws up.
The way they get stuck is that he’s holding the door while Mordecai checks for hot dogs, and Rigby steps away. But he propped the door open with ice bags, and they happen to not work. See, he’s trying and it just doesn’t work. Nothing he does makes him unlikable, but you see how this stacks for Mordecai.
In the end, Rigby blames Benson for this and makes them think these were the premium hot dogs, which works. It’s a bit dick-ish but smart on his part. He actually gets them out of the jam instead of them just lucking into the solution. Also, Benson has Rigby go buy some more hot dogs to get things on track, so it’s not like their day for the others or anything.
Maybe him owning to his mistakes would have worked better but as far as dick moments goes, it’s handled fine and doesn’t ruin everything else. It’s at worst a small blemish on a great episode. This is how I prefer my screw up stories, as the mistakes feel genuine and the screw up uses the skills they do have to get everyone out of this.
In Freezer Burned, the solution just happens and Kel doesn’t really prove to be useful at all. And going back to Get the Kel Out of Here, that ruined the drama with some dumb jokes and he again doesn’t do anything to redeem himself. We’re just supposed to feel bad for him. Even when it’s all a mistake, they have to acknowledge that and make up for it.
That didn’t happen there but it happens here. It’s not one of those really funny Regular Show episodes but it makes up for that by being a solid story of escalation. The drama is solid, Rigby is pushed without being unlikable, and it has Tim Curry as an evil hot dog. We needed more of him, that’s another nitpick for this one.
Overall, a very solid episode that is well executed and shows off the characters in a solid way that actually makes them stronger. This was an honorable mention way back in my Top Regular Show episodes list and I stand by that. It’s a really good one.
“Told ya I could fix it”
“I knew that you would”
Chowder’s Girlfriend [Chowder]
Better Version Of: A Faire to Remember
Writers: C.H. Greenblatt and William Reiss
Another pretty easy pick. A Faire To Remember was an episode that spotlighted Panini, as she got jealous of someone he was hanging with. It really drove home how much of an annoying stalker she can be and in the end she learns nothing through all this and goes back to perusing Chowder. The main problem really was the resolution. If she realized she should back off a bit or it sank in that jealousy is bad, that would work. But instead we have this dumb ending that just put a bad taste in my mouth.
Now, her whole shtick of being a stalker is certainly not the best one. It’s the whole double standard thing of it being considered funny because it’s a girl doing it and all that. In terms of examples this, Chowder wasn’t too terrible as it had a bit more charm to the humor overall and them being kids means it’s hard to take it too seriously. The problem isn’t so much that that it’s there at all, it’s the way the story ended that just made her hard to actually enjoy.
In the very least, she should have lost in some way. So I think the best counter to that one is the very first episode she was, which really summed up her whole deal but at least made it funnier. She is slightly less bad and the resolution is so much better.
In this episode, we meet Panini, the apprentice of Mung Dal’s nemesis, Endive. She takes a liking to Chowder and immediately decides that he is her boyfriend. Not ready for that kind of commitment, Chowder has to let down gently in various ways. Like a lot of good comedies, this one is pretty simple and allows for some good jokes.
Nothing super hilarious but there’s some good bits, the best being him putting on this whole show just to say “I’m not your boyfriend”. That line basically becomes one of his catchphrases and it’s weirdly quotable. It’s amusing seeing some of his attempts backfire as Panini continues to not get the memo or he just isn’t able to get it out. By the way, there’s a obligatory funny fourth wall joke where Chowder basically summons a quick transition so that a cake will be done. Nice.
The focus is more on his attempts to tell her he’s not interested, so even if her shtick failed it wouldn’t be dwelled on too much. It’s pretty toned down here as she mostly just stares at him and isn’t quite as creepy or weird here. So it’s able to be a bit more innocent compared to some of the worst examples of this kinda thing out there.
But it’s the resolution that makes this one better than A Faire to Remember. Gazpacho tells Chowder that is a girl kisses you, you have to marry her. He then ends up giving her a wedding cake….only for her to say he’s been getting way too clingy and that they should just be friends for now.
See, now that’s funny. She gets a bit of her own medicine, albeit unintentionally and things end well for both of them. It’s honestly the perfect ending to this story, being funny and fitting without being cruel or weird and what not. If Faire had a more clever ending like that, the rest could have been easier to get through.
Instead it went for a cheaper approach that just made it all worse. This episode shows you can play a resoultion for comedy without being cheap and still being satisfying. While not amazing or anything, this episode basically gets everything right. Panini is into Chowder without it getting too creepy, the comedy works and the ending is fitting and funny.
A Faire to Remember just pushed her into being unlikable and had a bad ending where she doesn’t really learn anything. This is one of the more basic ones on her in terms of how it fixes the bad episode but sometimes that’s what just works better. That and the clever payoff, that’s what made this episode worthy of discussion.
Overall, a simple and fun episode that is able to do its subject matter pretty well and is actually funny all the way through. Amusing enough, this was a segment of the very first half hour of the show while Faire was part of the last half hour of season 2. That’s interesting I guess.
Yeah, we can move on to our final selection.
Adventure Buddies [Milo Murphy’s Law]
Better Version of: Doof’s Day Out
Writer: Martin Olson
And we end on the most recent one I’ve covered. Doing this section was kind of awkward. Talking negatively about a work from someone you otherwise like is the whole point of these but it felt a bit weirder here. I was critical of the whole direction they took Milo Season 2 in and that feels a bit different from disliking just one episode. Especially it does seem like something they wanted to, and Disney isn’t entirely to blame for once.
Basically, Season 2 did a Phineas and Ferb crossover, than had Doof stick around for very contrived reasons. They ignored some established things in order to this and it didn’t feel worth it. Doof wasn’t as funny here due to being forced in and this episode attempted to dive further into him. However, he just ruined everything he tried to do and things only turn around due to things just happening right. He didn’t really earn the happy ending he got in the end.
It was just poorly executed. If they wanted to convince me he should stay, it did the opposite. While overall I don’t think he needed to be in the season, he was better handled later on. For one, he wasn’t forced into all the episodes like before and he had a few better roles. That’s where this episode come in, so let’s go over it.
I need to give context first though. Doof tried to be a do gooder in one episode, and Perry was tasked with pretty much covering up his mistakes. Doof found out and they basically broke up. Bored with no one to hang out, he decides to get an adventure buddy and he gets one in the form of Scott the Undergrounder, and they head off on an adventure together.
I mentioned that certain things tied to Doof from Phineas were ignored here and this one directly addresses one thing by starting with a Vanessa cameo! Granted, I wonder where she was this whole time and it does feel a bit tacked on. I also wonder when she meet the Murphy’s but whatever, at least they remembered she exists. Norm also showed up in a different episode.
Anyway, my issue of them connecting too much to Phineas isn’t exactly fixed here given the whole setup but aside from that it’s better. For one, Doof’s Day Out relied too much on him being a screw up. There’s much more to him than that but that’s what it boiled down too and the jokes gets old after a while. His funniest moments come from his interactions with others a lot of the time.
This episode knows that and gets mileage out of the pairing of him with the wacky Scott. It allows for some good jokes, like how Scott has a milk carton named Mildred for a girlfriend. Yes. Doof feels like a third wheel and invents his own fake girlfriend to one up him and that is just so much funnier than a lot of what the other one gave us. They balance each other alright and the humor mostly doesn’t feel too forced.
Scott gets annoyed with him and banishes him to some bucket on the side of their boat they were going around in. They get into some trouble and Doof saves Mildred, which puts Scott back into his good graces. And there’s another way this fixes the other episode: Doof earns a happy ending because he did something helpful. It’s nothing big but he proves to be useful.
Heck, he gets banished to the bucket because he was getting clingy for somewhat understandable reasons so even then he isn’t annoying. Scott/Mildred lets him stay but Doof politely declines and goes back to the Murphy’s. He says something about needing them instead of an adventure buddy which I kinda get but hanging out with them too much is kinda how Doof’s Day Out happened to begin with.
I digress though. There wasn’t anywhere else to put this but there’s also a song where they squint their eyes to make everything look old timey. Even in context it’s kind of forced but at the least the song is memorable and catchy, unlike a lot of the filler background songs found in the rest of the season.
This episode is just fun. It has a solid pairing that it gets decent mileage out of, and it has decent humor. It also uses Doof much better by not having him be a screw up and he even helps out in the end. While he didn’t need to be in the show much at all, this episode at least uses him decently well and I actually like him here.
It’s nothing too special all things considered but given what I expected going on, it was a fun little romp that managed to do a Doof focused story combined with a Milo element in a more fun way. Doof’s Day Out just felt like…well to quote the sister episode to this one, something a TV show would do late in the season when the writer’s are tired.
It’s amazing how much they made fun of themselves without even realizing it.
So yeah, a fine episode that makes for a decent adventure. Oh and my posting this on the day Candace Against the Universe comes out was totally unintentional, but it was good timing.
And that was our second round of better versions of bad episodes I reviewed. I think the first one was better since I had more inspired choices. These were more standard in comparison but I think these were fine picks regardless. I’m not ranking these but I will say Meat Your Maker was my favorite.
As for the possibility of a third one…eh, as of now I’m not sure. There actually was a few I left out so maybe I can do it but I doubt there’s another to fill it up. There’s only so many bad episodes I’ve reviewed and I don’t have too many plans for more. I don’t wanna force it, but I could just do a quickie version with the like handful of ideas I have.
There’s also some I just haven’t been able to find better versions for, like Guilt Tripping or the like. So I don’t care if I do another, since I’m not super pumped at the moment anyway. Suggestions are welcome though, here are are the ones I’ve reviewed to pick from:
Either way, hope this was fun for ya’ll. It was for me at least. I have nothing else to pad this out with so…I suppose that will be all.