Beyond the Background: Emma Hart

This is going to be brief. Think of this as a Mini-Beyond the Background, or a Beyond the Background short.

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Brief. Shorts. Ba-dum-bump.

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“That’s funny. Ha.”

Today’s Beyond the Background is all about…this kid.

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For those who don’t know, this is Emma Hart, a minor character from Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop. Emma was a teenage girl who wanted to be a tour guide. She started with her trip to Paris, but took the wrong books and once there she had the wrong map. Despite that, she seemed have the knowledge to be a tour guide.

-As an irrelevance, I could mention that one of the Lego Friends is also named Emma…

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…And one of Dora’s friends from Into the City is named Emma.

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Clearly Emma’s currently a trendy name on the girls’ toy land scene!

Anyway, Emma Hart was the daughter of Stephanie Hart, an airline pilot who went on to become the co-pilot for Blythe Baxter’s dad, Roger.

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No joke, when these characters were introduced, I thought the writers were going to build a budding relationship between Roger and Stephanie (as the whereabouts and identity of Emma’s dad was never disclosed), but that was not the case. Sorry Blythie, no new mom for you.

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There’s not much more to say here; Emma, her pith helmet and her summer dress only appeared in 4 episodes: “To Paris with Zoe”, “Plane it on Rio!” and “The Expo Factor”-parts 1 and 2. That was literally it. That’s a shame, I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of Emma. No, she didn’t have what it took to be an A-List character, but I found her quirky, kooky and fun, and she always made me smile when she appeared. Plus, she definitely had one of the more unique character shticks I had seen in recent years: a kid who wanted to be a tour guide. That’s quite a thing for a kid to want to aspire to.

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“Hey, they keep hiring them; someone’s gotta do it!”

Unpopular Opinions: Teen Titans TAS is Silly!

Let’s talk about Teen Titans GO! for a minute.

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Yeah, I know. This is a VERY polarizing series. It’s silly and nonsensical and loud and garish and seems completely inane to anyone beyond the second grade. No denying that. But what I don’t get is when people complain about TTGO! (and they do… a lot!), someone will inevitably chime in with something like…

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“Teen Titans GO! is garbage! It’s a slap in the face to fans of the original  dark and serious Teen Titans!”

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Um…seriously?

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This show was “dark and serious”? THIS SHOW?? The show in which 5 teenagers live together in a giant T-shaped tower with no adults and no discernible income who never take off their costumes (they even sleep with them on), call each other by their superhero names all the time, in one episode tried to stop a British fashion designer who’s stuck in the 1960’s from using his Yellow Submarine/Monty Python powers from turning the entire city stereotypically British and in another battled a wacky magician voiced by Tom “Spongebob Squarepants” Kenny who imprisoned them in his magic hat and they spent a bulk of the story as talking animals and in yet another episode fought a mound of living, talking tofu? You’re calling THIS show “dark and serious”??

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Teen Titans GO! is very juvenile, I’ll give you that, but let’s not let our fandom cloud our memories and capacity for logical thinking, shall we? The 2003 Teen Titans series was a silly show that was occasionally intense, not an intense show that was occasionally silly. Selective memory much? Yeah, there were some intense, dramatic moments, but overall it was pretty darn goofy.

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The show was like a group of kids playing superheroes, but the game never stopped. The kids stayed in character and play-acted all day and all night. Am I calling Teen Titans: TAS bad? No. But it was not “dark and serious”. The show did a Wacky Races spoof in one episode, for crying out loud.

On a similar note, when people bad-mouth the 2016 Powerpuff Girls reboot (and they do)…

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…I’ll hear something like:

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“This show is an abomination! It’s a dumb comedy instead of a serious action cartoon like the original PPG was!”

-Whaaa? You think the original Powerpuff Girls was a serious action cartoon?

 

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Were we watching the same show back then? Or was there another show called The Powerpuff Girls that I’m not aware of? ‘Cause the PPG show that I saw was a comedy cartoon which sent up the superhero genre, like The Tick. I once said that very thing to some wanking fan, and said fan replied with:

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“The Tick was a silly parody!”

And Powerpuff Girls wasn’t??

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“PPG aired on Toonami for a little while!”

So did Hamtaro, so following your logic, that would also make Hamtaro an action cartoon.

Again, you can prefer whichever incarnation of PPG that you choose, but don’t hand me this malarkey that the original PPG was this hardcore action cartoon, because I know it wasn’t. I was there. It was a show about 3 color-coordinated kindergarten aged girls with crazy superpowers who spent their days fighting a super-smart chimp, a metrosexual demon, a big pink furry hillbilly monster and a gang of green skinned mutant juvenile delinquents.

Here’s today’s Unpopular Opinion. It’s actually a truism, so some of you hardcore super-fans might want to sit down for this one:

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THE SUPERHERO GENRE…IS…SILLY!

No, I’m not denying that there’s some great writing and action and even drama in the better stories, nor am I saying that superhero stories aren’t cool, they most certainly can be, but let’s face it: the genre as a whole is inherently goofy and absurd. It’s a universe littered with muscularly fit guys and gals who somehow come into possession of crazy magic powers and mad skills, they give themselves silly names and don brightly colored pajamas with giant letters and/or symbols on them and use said crazy magic powers to do battle against bank robbers, space invaders, mad scientists and would-be world conquerors. Reality check time: superheroes are already silly as all get-out, so turning them into fun, strictly-for-laughs comedies isn’t really that big of a stretch.

I’m not saying people have to enjoy the likes of Teen Titans GO! or Powerpuff Girls 2016; chances are if you’re above the target age group for these shows and you grew up watching their predecessors, then these shows are likely not going to be your cup of tea, but before you attempt to claim that the previous incarnations of these shows were something akin to Lord of the Rings or 12 Angry Men, you might want to take these off:

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NOSTALGIA GOGGLES. Now with 75% More Blind Ignorance!

Pop Dream #5: Blissa, Taffy & Tawny

We’re coming down to the end, folks. Here’s the final Barbie Dream House Pop Dream.

 

Yes, this is the final installment of this Pop Dream series, but no, this is not the end of the segment. Pop Dream will go on, but the next installment will focus on a completely different set of characters from an altogether different show or franchise. Who will be the subjects of the next Pop Dream? Even we don’t know yet, though we have some potential candidates; also, the next installment of Pop Dreams will either be done by myself, or by Jason, or possibly by both of us depending on the show and who writes up the actual entries. Until then, let’s wrap up our look at Dream House residents.

But what’s that, you ask? We’ve already covered Barbie herself…

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“Sparkle, sparkle!”

…And each of her Fab Sisters…

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“Groovin’…on a Sunday afternoon…”

…So who’s left?

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Barbie’s pets, obviously!

Today’s Pop Dream is all about the most privileged pets on Earth, Blissa the cat, Taffy the dog and Tawny the horse.

OVERVIEW

The Dream House pets live a life unparalleled by any other small mammal. As Barbie’s pets, they dine on the most exquisite kibbles and oats, sleep and lounge on imported designer pillows, play with the most expensive pet toys and are groomed by the finest groomers in the land.

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“Ah’m guessin’ those pets even get PET-icures!”

 

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“Ah’ll, uh, show muhself out.”

This has made these 3 a tad soft, temperamental and spoiled, to put it mildly, but they still find room in their day for shenanigans.

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“Hey listen, if somebody calls mentioning something about their sparrows getting devoured, it wasn’t us! We’ll be on your bed. No calls.”

APPEARANCES

There’s not much to cover with these characters in terms of appearance, since we’re talking about naked animals; basically, Taffy is a yellow Labrador Retriever…

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“Doubt it? Well get her a Labrador, an’ she’ll retrieve it for ya!”

…Blissa is a pure white purebred, and Tawny is a blue-eyed Palomino.

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My Not-So Little Pony

One fashion statement they all share is that they each bear their mistress’ symbol somewhere on their accoutrements.

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“That’s the brand!”

PERSONALITIES

While all 3 of the pets are equally sheltered, they each possess their own unique traits:

Tawny is by her mistress’s side with just a whistle. Living the fab life with Barbie has certainly gone to her head. She is lovably neurotic about her looks — from her immaculate mane to her designer horseshoes.

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“Hey, she made sure I got satellite TV and air conditioning in the stable. Mama knows where her bread is buttered!”

Her likes include long gallops on the beach, being brushed and groomed, carrots with sugar, apples with sugar, sugar with sugar. Her dislikes include Flies, mosquitoes, empty food troughs, muddy boots, chilly stables—brrrr! Tawny’s stats include 20 carrot (with sugar) cravings a day, 6 warm blankets owned, 214 beach runs with Barbie and 10 piano concerts given (no small feat considering she has no fingers).

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Blissa, the fickle feline, always purrs for Barbie, but everyone else has to be on alert. She’ll either snuggle up with Dreamhouse guests or turn their pant legs into scratching posts. This is because…

 

Blissa is only nice to people sometimes, but she’s always nice to Barbie. Likes: Napping, eating, eating more, napping again, pink pedis, pamper days, tuna fish. Dislikes: Water, a ball of yarn, bugs, snakes, climbing trees, dry crunchy cat food. She boasts 15 pink mani/pedis, 83 fave nap spots, 1 fab kitty bed and 83 scratch marks on the furniture.

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Taffy isn’t just fond of the finer things like filet mignon and doggy spas, but also has a sophisticated taste for art and literature. She loves nothing more than a good chew toy, classical music and a nice long belly rub. She likes Playing fetch, being petted, naps, barking at the mailman, fire hydrants, doggie treats, dinnertime. She dislikes being bored, a short leash, loud vacuums, thunderstorms and an empty food dish. Her stats include 10 flying discs, 1 fab doggie bed, 5,823 balls chased and 1,384 buried bones.

-She also has a love interest in the form of Ken’s dog Hudson, echoing Barbie and Ken’s relationship, but we’re not going to show you that because this is a family blog, so we won’t taint things with images of dog-on-dog action.

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I didn’t mean to dog you out!

FUNNIER MOMENTS

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“When the Cat’s Away”: Blissa is doing her best to ditch Chelsea, who’s eager to play dress-up with her. She ducks into Barbie’s Labyrinthian closest, leading to an all-out manhunt, or rather, cat-hunt, as Barbie, Ken and Tawny hunt for Chelsea while Chelsea hunts for Blissa. Highlights include Tawny smashing through the wall when Barbie whistles for her and the discovery that Barbie’s closet has its’ own beach area. Barbie eventually finds Chelsea and Chelsea finds Blissa, still with dress-up on her mind, so it ends happily…for the most part.

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“Persistent, aren’t we??”

“Mission Impawsible”: the pets sneak out for a day on the town while Barbie and Ken are on a date. They nearly get spotted on a few occasions, once at the movie theater having just seen the horror-thriller Paws, which leaves Taffy and Tawny shaking, but not Blissa…

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“I’ve seen worse. I’ve done worse!”

…And again while driving (!) to beat Barbie and Ken home.

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You can tell Taffy’s panicking; normally she wouldn’t be riding in a car at top speed without letting her tongue flap in the breeze.

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They also nearly get spotted at the lemonade shop. (Watch the short for a brief glimpse of a frustrated Raquelle working there!)

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“Happy Bathday to You”: It’s Bath Day and the pets do everything in their power to avoid the scrubbing brush, including eating and shredding Barbie’s calendars and day planners, hiding in plain sight…

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HE-MAN CAMEO!

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…To making a hasty getaway in a golf cart, which Tawny at the wheel. The drive away from the sisters…only to plunge straight into a tub that Barbie’s placed in the hall. No one ever said Tawny could drive well.

CONCLUSION

Wacky cut-up pets are often the icing on the cake in domestic comedies, and part of me really digs that Barbie has her own cabal of pets. It’s also cool that Blissa, Taffy and Tawny are all female; it’s a nice change of pace to see female comic-relief animals, since usually animal toon stars are almost always male.

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Well that concludes our Pop Dream all about the Roberts Sisters. Next time…

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…Something completely different.

What The Funny #5: Popcorn Pandemonium

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“Hey, kids! What time is it?”

Time for more What The Funny!

Well, this is it, folks. The last of my Rocko’s Modern Life favorite short breakdowns.

 

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Yeah, I know that there are many more Rocko shorts that I could cover here, but as I said back at the very first segment, I don’t want to get bogged down with doing every single episode of RML; I’m only doing my absolute favorite shorts. I’m about ready to move on to another show or franchise to cover, and I think that 5 is a good round number to stop on. Now just so we’re clear, this isn’t the last WTF; it’s just the last one that I’ll be doing for this particular series. We don’t know what the next one will be just yet, although we have some ideas. And it may be myself, or Damon or even both of us doing the next crop of WTFs.

Anyway….on with the merriment. Here’s Popcorn Pandemonium

POPCORN PANDEMONIUM

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Synopsis: In this episode Rocko dreams of going to a drive-in movie, but he and Heffer settle on the local movie theater.

Highlights:

The short starts with Rocko and Heffer in the car watching TV through Ed Bighead’s window. Rocko is annoyed because this is not tantamount to watching a movie at a real drive-in. Heffer uses a remote control to change the channel to a scary movie and Bighead changes the channel back to his program. Soon, Heffer and Bighead continuously flicker the TV channels back and forth, which cause Bighead’s TV to explode.

Heffer suggests that he and Rocko should go to Googa Plex Cinemas, a local movie theater that offers numerous amount of movies. The two pay roughly $100 for two tickets and buy their refreshments (while waiting hours in a long line). Heffer is caught sneaking his own snacks into the theater.

The Googa Plex Cinema has many theaters, all of them showing the same movie: “Lethal Odor IX”.

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They enter a movie theater, only to find that they mistakenly entered a restroom. I hate it when that happens!

One running gag that I like is that the staff at Googa Plex are all wearing shirts identical to Rocko’s, and because of this, Rocko is continually mistaken for an employee.

Rocko: (to the cashier) Might I say, that’s a very dapper shirt you’re wearing!

Cashier: Yeah, management makes us wear these stupid things!

Rocko and Heffer go to theater #42, where we’re treated to this exchange:

Rocko (to an employee): Excuse me, where’s theater #42?

Employee: You should know, man. You work here!

Rocko: I don’t work here.

Employee: Me neither, unless the boss is watching.

Rocko and Heffer see the a preview of the family movie “The Cuddly Little Poots” Guest starring the super hero Really, Really Big Man.

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Then there’s a preview withing the preview telling the audience to watch for the Cuddly Little Poots on a World War II submarine, in the feature “Das Poot”! This pun is so bad that even the characters in the theater collectively groan at it.

Next, we get a trailer for “Garbage Strike: The Musical”, which is a parody of the Disney feature, Newsies, a 1992 musical about striking paperboys.

There’s also a preview for the movie “Lang Chow: Gerbil of Death” complete with bad dubbing. We also see Lang Chow eating breakfast.

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“For a Shaolin monk, you’re Kung-Fu is really lousy!”

After a preview of a movie about Dracula’s demise, the movie blurs out before it shows the feature presentation. Filburt, the movie director, listens to the guests’ complaining and hit his head on the top of the opening of the window, causing his glasses to fall off his face and reflect the light of the movie projector to start a fire, which trails through the carpet and into the popcorn storage room. This causes the popcorn to overflow through the building and Rocko and Heffer run out just in time to make it to the car. But when they find that the overflowing popcorn has caused the building to collapse, they find that it has become a drive-in and stay to watch the film. As the popcorn continues to overflow, the Garbage Rats from the film appear and sing their strike song.

Popcorn Pandemonium wasn’t a complicated plot. Rather, it was mostly a series is spot gags with a continuing theme. This short had an old-school Looney Tunes feel to it, and I’m a big enough Looney Tunes nerd to appreciate that.

My Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next time: A completely different show! Stay Tooned.

 

Videots: Favorite Street Fighter 5 Stages

Today Videots looks at Street Fighter 5.

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Five for Fighting

More accurately, we’ll be looking at some of the background arenas from the game. From Street Fighter‘s inception, the artwork and animations for the game have gotten progressively more intricate, detailed and beautiful, and SF5 is no exception. I like to just watch the game being played so I can scope out the stages and cool stuff going on in the background (yeah, I’m that person). Today I’ll be spotlighting my favorite arenas from SF5. As is often the case with posts like this, these are just my personal favorite arenas; you may have your own choices…

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“And that’s…OK.”

And again, these aren’t in any particular order, so they won’t be numbered. That said, let’s press start.

LAIR OF THE FOUR KINGS

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Located inside Shadaloo Headquarters, this stage is is an enormous dome-shaped room with various high-tech computers on both ends. In the background, a massive set of Mount Rushmore-style statues can be seen, depicting the Four Kings of Shadaloo.

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You wish.

These statues depict Balrog, M. Bison, Vega, and F.A.N.G (or Sagat depending on the mode), the Four Kings of Shadaloo; Bison is holding the world, positioned near the center of the area, in his hand. Closer to the foreground, there is an ongoing battle between Shadaloo forces and a group of Special Forces agents, with a ninja and spacesuit-clad Shadaloo agents chasing each other.

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In F.A.N.G’s story mode fight with M. Bison, his statue is replaced with one of Sagat, since it takes place at a time when Sagat had not yet been replaced within Shadaloo.

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“Sagat….YOOOOOOOOOU’RE FIRED!!!”

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When a character is knocked out in the right corner of the stage, the person will fall and hit the face on the hand of a M. Bison statue, which unleashes Psycho Power on the victim. When knocked on the left corner, the character hits a screen that displays data about the one that touched it. And let’s not overlook that massive drop waiting for someone to fall though it.

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“Watch that first step, it’s a Lulu! Ha-ha-ha-hah-AAA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!! -Sorry, I just thought of something funny.”

HIGH ROLLER CASINO

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Let it ride!

This stage, set in front of a casino owned by Shadaloo, is an awesome re-imagining of the Las Vegas stage from the Street Fighter II games. However, the changes made to the stage is the neon sign in the background that used to say “Golden Nugget: Nin-Nin Ball” was changed to “Golden Bullion: Shadaloo Ball”. Some of the other neon signs from the original version are absent.  Don Sauvage and Max can be seen in the background. I like how they kept the young ladies with the top hats.

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“Say, can ya lend me some scratch so I can get back on the tables? C’mon! I know I’ve lost my empire and I’ve crapped out 20 times in a row tonight, but I’d due for a hot streak! C’mon! I’ll take anything! You like pants? I’ll give ya my pants!!”

KANZUKI ESTATE

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The Kanzuki Estate is Karin’s family estate (duh!) which originally appeared in the Sakura Ganbaru! manga. The stage has two settings, its day setting is called Estate at Noon.

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It’s 12 in the afternoon. Time to get up.

The manga depicts the Kanzuki family’s estate as so large, it doesn’t just have its own rivers, mountains, and savannas, it has its own climate as well. Even though it’s in the middle of Tokyo, visitors don’t arrive by car, they arrive by chartered plane and land at the private airstrip near the mansion. The estate also has its own train station (a green and red sign can be seen on the top of a building, where a train is moving). The Kanzukis’ enormous swimming pool has a yacht with a pool on the deck in it, like in Karin’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 3.

The estate’s architecture is a mix of both Japanese and European (possibly French) architecture.

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“Aye, the .01 percent. It’s great to be stupid rich!”

Speaking of…

KANZUKI BEACH

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Sun Fun!

Karin’s family is so smegging rich, that she has 2 personal stages. This stage depicts her family’s private beach.

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Several bikini-clad women can be seen in the background; among them are the Judgment Girls from the Street Fighter III games, as well as Tiffany Lords and Hinata Wakaba from the Rival Schools series. I’m not a crossover fanatic, but I do think it’s kind of cool how Street Fighter, Rival Schools, Darkstalkers and Final Fight all take place in the same universe.

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“Whoa, Mama! Muh Speedoes just got tighter!”

The usage of the Kanzuki Beach stage in Street Fighter V is prohibited in competitive play. This is due to the fact that the water within the stage obscures ground projectiles such as Birdie’s banana peels and pop cans from his Break Time V-Skill as well as Juri’s Fuharenkyaku fireball. It is currently one of the only three stages in the game to be tournament banned, the other stages being The Grid and Skies of Honor.

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“Even though it’s summer, I just took you to school!”

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“Hey, I recognize that gibbon sitting on the turtle there. Now that I know that guy’s tight with the Kanzukis, he can give me back those 50 Banana Fun Bucks he owes me! THAT WAS AN APE JOKE!”

APPRENTICE ALLEY

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Located in India, was first seen in Dhalsim’s reveal trailer. In the left corner of the stage, there is a poster of an Indian-made film titled The Eternal Ganga (アジョワンの涙 Ajowan no Namida?, “Tears of Ajowan”), starred by Kamal Ali and Tia Sharma. Several people watch the fight, including Dhalsim’s wife Sally and their son Datta in the center of the stage. I’m not sure how I feel about the beard on Dhalsim (it makes him look like Yoga Claus), but the presence of Sally makes me happy because it reminds me of Dhalsim’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 2, another favorite fighting game stage of mine.

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In it, Sally watches the fray (but only when Dhalsim is one of the combatants). When her husband scores a hit, she smiles and claps her hands…

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…And when Dhalsim himself is struck or attacked, she turns her head away in dismay. You’ve gotta love the devotion.

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“What?! I’ve got a sentimental side! Big whoop! Wanna fight about it??”

HILLSIDE PLAZA

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Hillside Plaza is is the home stage of new character Laura, the smoking hot older sister of Street Fighter 3‘s Sean, taking place in Rio de Janeiro.

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“Rio? Uh-oh! I feel a rhumba comin’ on!”

Instead of the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue in the background, a different statue can be seen. This stage also reminds me of one of my favorite moments from the animated film Rio.

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You know the one.

RING OF DESTINY

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The Ring of Destiny is a DLC stage available in Street Fighter V for a limited time, representing the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour. It is available by itself for $10USD in addition to being included in the limited time Capcom Pro Tour package that comes bundled with three other alternate costumes and an exclusive color for $25USD.

scrooge-mcduck

“What did ah jes’ tell ye?”

One thing I like about this stage (aside from the golden Adonis statues at the center) is the wide range of diverse spectators cheering on the fighters. You’ve got an American cowboy, a British guard playing a sousaphone, a lady Rio dancer, a heavy metal guitarist, a floating Indian mystic and even a dancing bear! Just about everybody is represented in this crowd.

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We, are the world.

Finally, a word about Laura.

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Yes, I’m just looking for an excuse to show more images of her.

 

As we’ve established, I find her to be quite attractive for a game sprite.

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Fellas, put on your drool cups!

So why haven’t I said “BOM-CHICKA-WOW-WOW” yet? Well, while I do like Laura and all, doing so would feel a tad off-putting, seeing as how she has the same name as my maternal grandmother.

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