LPS Progress Report (Plus Other Assorted Hub Ramblings)

We’ve been doing a lot of Hub entries lately, haven’t we? Guess the network’s climbing up there.

Just thought I’d blow off a little steam about some of The Hub’s recent doings as of late. First, a little follow-up to my earlier entry on Littlest Pet Shop.

LPS Title Card

I still contend that so far I’m enjoying LPS’s debut season more than the 3rd season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (and on a side note, I’m getting a wee bit tired of folks putting MLP on a pedestal; it’s a decent show, undoubtedly the first time there’s ever really been anything Pony related worth giving a frak about, but really, the show just won the lottery, there are other decent shows on the shows on the network which are just as good as MLP, if not better, so it’s really time for folks to stop acting like MLP: FiM is the single greatest show on The Hub and the best thing to happen since Jiffy-Pop), but for all of its’ strengths, the show still seems unable to escape MLP’s shadow, which is unfortunate. Maybe some tweaks need to be made to LPS in order to give it more breakout potential. If I may make a few suggestions:

Perhaps every show need not consist of a single 22-minute episode like MLP does. People tend to overlook the fact that LPS is actually a mash-up of 2 separate franchises, Blythe and Littlest Pet Shop; perhaps the show’s stories should reflect this. Maybe instead of a single half-hour story each week, they could do two 10-minute shorts or three 7-minute shorts: say, 1 short which focuses on both Blythe and the Pets in tandem, 1 short which focuses squarely on the Pets with little or no participation from Blythe or the humans and 1 short which focuses largely if not exclusively on Blythe and her human co-stars. Sort of like the old Linus the Lionhearted show for those of you who are fossils like me and are old enough to remember (or even know of) that.

Another thing regarding LPS: the characters need to be strengthened and given more to do generally. I realize this is no easy task, since the show’s cast is relatively large, which is one reason why I feel the show should at least consider breaking the stories into segments as opposed to a single half-hour episode each week. The Pets’ characters are fine, they just need more to do and more air time to do it in. (Another side-note: it’s obvious that the recent addition of the Sweet Shop next door and the new characters attached to that are clearly a marketing tool to have another wave of toys to sell, but since LPS is a toy-driven show, it’s to be expected.) The human characters are the ones which really need more polishing and fleshing out. Out of the human characters, Youngmee has probably flourished the most, though that’s not saying much. She’s gotten more camera time than any of Blythe’s other friends, and she’s tied to the Sweet Shop, which gives her more opportunities to stand out than anyone else. She still needs some more defining traits other than being cute and a good friend to Blythe; she’s on the Mathletes team, so we can assume she’s smart, why not expand on that? Sue hasn’t had any standout roles since “Russel Up Some Fun”, and so far Jasper hasn’t had any real plots or subplots devoted to him. If I can make a suggestion, writers, whatever you decide to do with Jasper, please DON’T ship him with one of the girls. I like that he’s a boy and one of Blythe’s friends, but not a boyfriend to any of them, I say keep it that way. (Sue hit Jasper twice in “Topped with Buttercream”, and the 2 of them entered the story together, so I’m sure somewhere in cyberspace some shippertard is already typing fanfics pairing those 2 characters off, but I really hope nothing like that ever actually happens on the show.)

Speaking of relationships, please, please, PLEASE, writers, hook Blythe’s dad Roger up with somebody! Reveal Blythe’s mother or give her a stepmother. Something. Anything! I have no problem with dumb dads generally, they’re OK in small doses, but the recent episode “Helicopter Dad” proves that a little Roger goes a LONG way, and I think one reason why he’s so unbearable is that he has no one to counterbalance his goofiness. It’s like having the Odd Couple with only Oscar. the fact that Blythe’s mom is MIA is indeed one of the things I hate most about this show, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, and I’d really like to see that rectified. Here’s a crazy suggestion: why not have Roger and Youngmee’s aunt Christie hook up? Not only would Roger get a romantic partner and Blythe get a much-needed mother figure, but that would technically make Blythe and Youngmee cousins, which could make for some interesting story ideas. Just a thought.

Another recent event on The Hub is the addition of Huckleberry Pie to Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures. As has been the case since the 5th TV special back in the ancient 1980’s, Huck is the only major male character in a predominantly girl-populated franchise, so as such there was a lot of hulabaloo surrounding his debut, not to mention his Justin Bieber-inspired look, viz:

huckleberry-pie

Oh, you were expecting a “Bieber sucks!” joke here, right? Sorry, not gonna happen. I’ve personally never heard any of Bieber’s music and couldn’t tell you the name of a single one of his songs, so while some folks tear their hair out at the very mention of the kid’s name, I can go about my life unaffected by Biebermania, so I honestly don’t care about the Biebs-inspired design. From an artistic standpoint, it’s an OK design, so no complaints from me about that. Whatever works. No, my issue with this version of Huckleberry Pie isn’t that he’s got the Bieb’s hairstyle or even that he’s a boy on a girls’ show, it’s that he’s, well…kind of boring. Huck here has no standout traits or attributes other than possessing a Y chromosome and being a nice kid who’s eager to please (assuming he is a kid; age-wise, it’s hard to know what to make of the Berry Bitty Gang: they look like children yet they have jobs, operate vehicles and live on their own without adults. Perhaps they just stop aging physically after a certain age, like the elves in Lord of the Rings), but to be fair, the girls are equally kind of dull and interchangeable. I actually prefer the 2003 version of Huck, pictured here:
…’cause he had an actual character, not to mention a boss board.
Finally, the Hub recently announced a “big event” coming to Thursday nights said to tie in with the recent Oscars. It turned out to be a fake awards show devoted to their old broadcasting sitcom showings: Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, Family Ties, et al, and kicking off something called “You Rule Thursdays”, in which viewers get to choose shows they watch on the network during the Thursday primetime hours of 9 p.m. – midnight ET. This week, following a special programming block featuring past Academy Awards® winners in popular Hub sitcoms, viewers will go to http://hubworld.com/YouRule to vote on the shows that will air Thursday, March 7. Each week will be themed with a different common element that links Hub shows, including “Mork and Mindy,” “Happy Days,” “The Facts of Life,” and “Family Ties.”
Oh, joy.
Well, I have to say, that’s disappointing. Here I was hoping that The Hub was finally going to spread their chops and expand their nighttime schedule beyond this sitcom rerun stuff. Before I get ambushed by Retro fans, I have nothing against Retro (though I’ve never been a nostalgic person and only about 10% of the old shows I grew up watching have any replay value to me, especially the stuff from the broadcast networks), but I don’t think I’m out of line for thinking that the Hub could be doing so much more at night than just airing reruns of old broadcast TV shows from the 70’s and 80’s. If this is working for The Hub, I can’t argue with success, but if you’re really going to try and be early 90’s Nick at Nite during the prime time hours, can’t we at least get some better shows? Just offer something a little more off the beaten path besides generic family sitcoms. The Adam West Batman show was a good start, why not expand upon that? How about showing The Monkees, Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show!, H.R. Pufenstuf, Lidsville, The Bugaloos, Land of the Lost, The Krofft Supershow, Far Out Space Nuts, Saved by the Bell, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Muppet Show/MuppeTelevision/Muppets Tonight, The Tick, Get Smart!, Weird Science, Police Squad!, My Hero, Fawlty Towers, Fernwood 2-Nite, The Best of Saturday Night Live, SCTV, The Red Green Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, WKRP in Cincinnati, Night Court, heck, even Candid Camera, Carol Burnett and Friends or TV’s Blooper and Practical Jokes would be a nice alternative to the nonstop domcoms. If The Hub’s PM schedule really must consist of old shows, can’t they at least be good, eclectic old shows?
And I know some people will disagree with me, but I still contend that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would be a great fit for The Hub’s nighttime lineup.

 

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