Talkin’ Nerdy: What’s the Deal with Dopey?

When Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuted in 1937, there was no question or doubt as to which character stole the show: Dopey the Dwarf. The silly, adorable, mute character was so popular with fans that many people requested that Walt Disney use Dopey as a series star in the shorts, in fact, some of Disney’s staff even wanted to use Dopey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia.

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That’s right. This guy almost wore the big blue wizard’s hat.

So when the Seven Dwarfs were revived and re-imagined for Disney X-D’s The 7D, I figured it would be a no-brainer that Dopey would emerge as one of the show’s breakout stars. Alas, this was not the case. On The 7D, it’s been Doc, Happy and especially Grumpy who have become the top players on the show, while Dopey has never graduated from lesser character status. I expected this to be the case for characters like Sleepy and Sneezy, since they were always pretty one-dimensional, but not Dopey. In this regard, Dopey is the exact opposite of Happy, who was a pretty minor character in the movie but emerged as one of the biggest characters on the show. What happened? Why has Dopey gotten the shaft?

I’ve been thinking about this (which should be a clear indicator that I have lots of free time) and have theorized why Dopey hasn’t attained top tier character status on The 7D. I chalk it up to 2 factors:

  1. NOT ENOUGH ELBOW ROOM

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One reason why Walt never turned the Seven Dwarfs into shorts stars was because in the average animated short the focus is typically on 1, 2, 3 or at the most 4 central characters, but had Disney placed the Dwarfs in this format they would’ve had to contend with 7 main characters to start with, not to mention any other supports or guest stars that might have appeared. Indeed, with 6 guys also doing comedy and vying for the spotlight, it’s hard to squeeze decent bits for Dopey in there as well. There’s also the added burden of Dopey not being able to speak, so right away any verbal humor like puns of clever wordplay can’t be done with him. This is not to say that Dopey hasn’t gotten any opportunities to stand out, he’s gotten some golden gags, such as imitating The Scream:

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But moments like this have been few and far between. Yeah, that look. This brings me to the other reason why I feel Dopey hasn’t broken out on the show:

2. HE LOST HIS BASIC ADORABILITY

A lot Dopey’s appeal in the original film was how he was essentially the “baby” of the Seven Dwarfs: he was youthful while the other Dwarfs were elderly, he had no hair, big blue eyes, only one tooth, large jug-handle ears and wore over-sized clothes, viz:

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On The 7D however, Dopey’s look was changed to this:

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Who does this guy remind you of? Take a wild guess. For those who don’t know, The 7D‘s Dopey was patterned largely after Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers.

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Those eyes are staring into my soul, and honking bike horns in my ears.

Nothing wrong with that, Harpo was hilarious, but he’s not usually the first character who comes to mind when you hear the word “cute”. Without the cute, innocent, childlike features and aspects to his character, 7D Dopey amounts to little more than a weirdo. Dopey is like Tweety Bird or the Muppet character Bean Bunny: he relies heavily on being adorable. The writers tried to carve a niche for Dopey as ‘the animal lover’ of the group, and that kind of works, but again, without Dopey’s babyish demeanor it ultimately doesn’t amount to much.

I don’t know how many more episodes of The 7D there will be; the cast and crew have already had their wrap party, so it’s likely that show will be like many Disney animated series and only run for 2 seasons. If it’s truly over, then it’s a shame that Dopey was never really given that much to do on the show, especially since The 7D was produced by Tom Ruegger, who also gave us Animaniacs, and managed to strike comedy gold with another Harpo-inspired character, Wakko Warner. However, it’s worth mentioning that Wakko is a child character and he has the ability to speak.

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“Don’t forget the tongue. Chicks dig the tongue.”

 

Cartoon Country: Flip the Script – Phineas and Ferb

Earlier this year, the animated series Phineas and Ferb concluded it’s 8 year run run on The Disney Channel and on Disney X-D. Phineas and Ferb Wallpaper

For those who don’t know, Phineas and Ferb was created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (who previously worked on Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life) about a pair of step brothers who would regularly find fun things to do while on Summer vacation, all the while avoiding being told on by their teenage sister Candace and also featured the adventures the boys’ intelligent pet platypus Perry, who was a secret agent perpetually foiling an inept wanna be super villain named Dr. Doofenshmurtz.

Now, honestly, I could take or leave this show. There were some things that I liked about P&F and some things that I didn’t. Did the characters really have to sing in every single episode? I’d be OK with the occasional musical number now and again, but having a song in every episode was grating on the ol’ nerves!

The following isn’t going to be a retrospective on the show, but rather, this is a brief look at how we personally would have handled the premise of P&F, since we both feel that the idea behind P&F was better than the show itself. One thing that I liked about P&F was how the series was perpetually set during Summer vacation, as Dan and Swampy felt that the school setting had fallen into redundancy, so with that, let’s start by rejoicing in the endless summer…in October. Hit it, kiddies!

All right-y! Now then, time to flip that script!

Let’s start with the shows’ title characters, Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher, I have nothing against these guys, but let’s face it; boy protagonists are a dime a dozen and there are already plenty of cartoons with boy protagonists. Also, while I do find the idea of a happy blended family with no drama attached to it to be a charming one, I have a slightly different idea in mind for these 2. We would….

...Make them a pair of twins! Everyone who regular visits this sites knows that we love our twins here. For the record, we could have made them identical twins as well, but just so we won't have to keep switching back and fourth throughout this thing (keep in mind that we are lazy!), let's just go with this setup.

…Make them a pair of twins! Everyone who regularly visits this site knows that we love our twins here. For the record, we could have made them identical twins as well, but just so we won’t have to keep switching back and fourth throughout this thing (keep in mind that we are lazy!), let’s just go with this setup.

Just to keep things rolling along smoothly, let’s name our titular duo Jelly and Jam, so we won’t have to keep calling them “This One” and “That One” throughout this article. It’s certainly more complimentary than Thing 1 and Thing 2. (FTR, Jelly is the girl and Jam is the boy. Got it? Good). Moving on…

Jelly and Jam are child prodigies, kid geniuses with a combined I.Q. of 400 (200 for each twin). They get bored easily and as such, they’re always looking for something fun to do while home from school during the summer. In fact, they could have a Summer Fun list, which they would look through and check off in many episodes.

Jelly typically holds on to the list, though she has an idetic memory. Jam's not crazy about writing things down, feeling that's

Jelly typically holds on to the list, though she has an eidetic memory. She just loves doodling and checking things off; she draws the checks in fancy fonts and colors. Jam’s not crazy about writing things down, feeling that’s “so analog”. He prefers texting.

Just to keep things interesting, here are some interesting factoids about each twin:

JELLY: Residing in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Jelly loves cartoons (the loonier, the better), tank tops, sunny days, sweet treats, standing on her head, going barefoot and advanced mathematics (Yeah, you heard right!). Favorite Color: Poppy Red. She's obsessed with her awesome hair and dislikes cold weather and baked beans!

JELLY: Residing in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Jelly loves tank tops, sunny days, sparkles, rainbows, martial arts, standing on her head, going barefoot and advanced mathematics (yeah, you heard right!) Favorite color: berry pink. She’s obsessed with having fun and dislikes cold weather and beaked beans!

Also, Jelly regularly wears colorful tops (sports a different one in nearly every episode) each with a different cutesy decal on it. Can you guess that I just plain like that idea?

 

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JAM - Hails from his bedroom in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Sk8s and shreds every free moment he gets. Loves snack cakes, techie toys, skateboarding, lanyards, duckies and Jam shorts. Favorite color: baby blue. Favorite music: techno. He takes his skateboard to bed with him, can tie a knot with his toes and wants to get braces so he can have bling-bling on his teeth!

JAM – Hails from his bedroom in a big house in Barnacle Bay. Sk8s every free moment he gets. Loves to try out the latest techie toys when he’s not Gleaming the Cube, shredding waves, playing soccer or just being dirty and stinky. His favorite possession is his skateboard which has a Turbo Jet and Hover Mode–Awesome!

True to his name, one of Jam’s shticks is that he’s almost always seen wearing Jam shorts.

Jam Shorts

“Hey. Nice pants!”

Moving on to the supporting cast: Jelly and Jam are brilliant children, but they’re still and still prone to impulsive, immature behavior. As such, they need to be supervised. The last time they were left at home alone, they filled their entire bathroom with whipped cream and then teleported the house to planet Saturn! Keeping a watchful eye on the twins are their quirky but likable parents. Once again, I’m going to list both of them together in order to prevent either one of them become more prominent than the other.

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Let’s go with the “businesswoman and stay-at-home father” shtick. It’s cute and it’ll be good for the whole “female empowerment” thing.

 

As for the Candace character, she isn’t necessarily a needed character. However, we could keep such a character around, although she wouldn’t be trying to bust her younger siblings in every episode, nor would there be any shipper drama with her and Jeremy. She could mention a boyfriend, but said boyfriend would be mostly off screen. Basically, she’d mostly just be there to roll her eyes, snark on little brother and sister and provide some of that good old fashioned fan service.

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BOM-CHIKA-WOW-WOW!

What about Perry the Platypus? We’re glad we pretended you asked.

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You probably thought we were going to drop Perry, right? But no. He’s popular with fans, and he’s such a uniquely bizarre idea that he’s earned his place on the show. The alterations we’d make to Perry are really only tweaks. He’d still do the Agent P shtick, just not in every episode, and he wouldn’t face off against the same guy every time, ’cause that’s repetitive and kind of weak. When Perry isn’t saving the free world, he spends his time getting dressed up by the twins (and Jam enjoys doing this too–yay, progression!) or being used as a guinea pig in their kooky experiments.

So we keep the twins (obviously!). We keep the parents. We keep the pet and (maybe) keep the teenage sister, but the rest of the P&F cast – gone! P&F has an pluarity of unnecessary characters and we’d definitely like to thin out the herd. No more Fireside Girls (if one of the twins is a girl, there’s our girl quotient right there). No more Buford. No more Bajeet, and definitely lose Jeremy’s little sister, (obnoxious brat). the twins will have friends when they need to have friends, but they don’t need to have a gang, per se.

However, just for laughs, lets throw in a grouchy, creepy, easily annoyed neighbor character to serve as a foilf for the twins?

“Get off my @#!!! lawn!”

This guy could be annoyed by the twins antics and would often complain about having to live near them. You blow up someone’s car a couple of times and suddenly they have a problem with you!

The basic premise of the show wouldn’t be all that different: our 2 leads pick a “super fun, super cool” activity to do from their Summer Fun list (ex: transforming their wading pool into water park/island resort, traveling into space, creating the latest summer blockbuster movie, making a burger the size of a parking lot, etc.) and put their plan into action. The difference would be that things don’t always go smoothly for our kid duo; they sometimes overestimate the scale of their plans or they’ll struggle or squabble or get distracted by something else. They also wouldn’t succeed every time, which would keep them relatable.

To assist in the ventures, each twin would be armed with their own super high-tech tablet, each with a ton of improbable apps on them.

These apps would be capable of such feats as: f=emitting fireballs, lightning blasts, sonic booms, GPS, enabling flight, super speed and oh, yeah, email.

These apps would be capable of such feats as: emitting fireballs, lightning blasts, sonic booms, creating 3-dimensional holographic illusions, enabling flight, super speed, bringing video game power-ups to life for use in the real word…and oh, yeah, email.

The twins would hatch their crazy schemes from their tree house, which they have dubbed Treehouse Awesome.

Said tree house would house the twins science lab, a skateboard ramp, a hard light rainbow slide, and would even be capable of travel, including through space and underwater. It would house numerous dimensions; despite its' small exterior, it would have an implausibly massive interior. Think the TARDIS meets Snoopy's dog house.

Said tree house would house the twins science lab, a skateboard ramp, a teleporter, a hard light rainbow slide, and would even be capable of travel, including through space and underwater. It would house numerous dimensions; despite its’ small exterior, it would have an implausibly massive interior. Think the TARDIS meets Snoopy’s dog house.

In a nutshell, that would be our take on Phineas & Ferb. There’s nothing else to say, so let’s celebrate the summer…in October. KICK IT!

The Pac is Back

Back in June, we gave you a brief preview of Disney Close-Eyed Grin (XD)’s Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a new Japanese/Canadian/American computer-animated television series in production by 41 Entertainment based on Namco Bandai Games’ Pac-Man video game franchise. At the time, the series hadn’t premiered yet, but now that it’s made its’ debut (the series proper premiered on June 15th) and several episodes have aired, I can now give Ghostly Adventures a full review.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

The premise isn’t anything you haven’t heard before: Pac-Man saves his native soil of Pac-World (as opposed to the Pac-Land of the 1982 Hanna-Barbera animated series) from ghosts. But the way it’s presented is new and different. This isn’t the Pac-Man of your older sibling who’s stuck in the 1980’s (“Skinny ties are coming back, man! Just wait and see! And man, Alien was a cool movie!”) Visually, Ghostly Adventures is a real treat: the show, which is presented in stereoscopic 3D, is one of the best looking CGI shows I’ve seen on TV. It takes us inside a beautiful, futuristic, high-tech Pac-World full of spherical and ovular buildings and spherical and ovular Pac-People, chock full of sci-fi tech such as hover-boards and other way-out gadgets, very bright, colorful and fun. The show’s cast is also quite colorful, but literally and figuratively:

The Heroes:

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Pac-Man himself (or just “Pac”, to give his more familiar name; the “Man” part is just a title bestowed upon him after saving Pac-World for the first time) is here portrayed as a happy-go-lucky, likable, energetic, well-meaning, sincere and good-natured (if a tad naive) teenager with a voracious appetite. On this show his yellow color scheme isn’t just for show, it actually ties into the premise: on this show Pac-Denizens come in a wide ranges of colors, as opposed to most of the previous media, where most of the Pac-People were yellow by default; the yellow Pac-Worlders are legendary heroes and the sworn protectors of Pac-World, as they’re the only Pac-People capable of eating ghosts. As such, Pac-World’s greatest threat has systematically hunted down and eliminated nearly all of the Yellows down to near-extinction, leaving Pac as seemingly the only yellow Pac-Worlder left alive (though other yellow Pac-Worlders are sometimes seen in the background, or maybe they’re supposed to be gold?). Not only is Pac the only one capable of devouring ghosts and spitting out their eyeballs, but he also receives unique powers and abilities by eating the magical Power Berries from the Tree of Life (this shows equivalent to the Power Pellets and the Power Forest), enabling such wacky-but-useful transformations and abilities as growing to giant size, bouncing around like a Super Ball, a fire form, an ice form, a titanium form with a magnetic tongue for attracting ghosties, a chameleon form with a long-stretching tongue (no, he doesn’t hock Geico insurance!) and more.
“Oh, sure. A short, round dude who gets crazy powers by eating stuff. Never seen that before! Real [bleep]ing original!”
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Cylindria (or Cylli for short) is one of Pac’s best friends and partners in crime on this show. She’s a lavender Pac-Girl with streaked purple-black hair, red-framed glasses, fingerless gloves, striped socks and black Goth boots. Cylli is basically the Hermoine Granger of the show, but thankfully she’s not overbearing with it. (Is it wrong to find a lavender ball somewhat adorkably hot? I’m asking for a friend.)
Sprial is Pac’s other best friend. With his large ovoid body, tuft of curly blue hair atop his head and bright red coloring, he resembles a living radish. While he may look weird, he’s a true and loyal friend to “the Pacster”, as he calls him. Spiral’s always got Pac’s back and is full of “cool” best bud phrases which he’ll spout at the drop of a hat.
President Stratos Spheros is the green colored President of Pac-World and the one who typically sends the Pac team out on its’ mission. He’s usually flanked by his semi-competent guards, who are all blue in color and wear sunglasses (The Men in Blue, perhaps?)
Sir Cumference (get it?) is Pac-World’s resident nutty inventor, also green, BTW, who builds and designs the team’s ghost-busting gadgets. He also fought in Pac-World War 1.
Spheria Suprema is a brave and sassy orange colored Pac Lady with a Southern accent. She’s another former PWW1 freedom fighter and is currently Pac-World’s reigning Pac-Pong champ. Spheria also happens to be Pac’s aunt, who is raising him now that his parents have been killed. (Awwwww.)
The Villains:
Commander/Lord Betrayus is the show’s main antagonist. He’s the absolute dictator of the Netherworld, similar to the character of Spooky from Pac-Man World 2. Once he was a Pac-Worlder, a dissident who attempted to take over the planet with an army of traitors, monsters and ghosts, launching Pac World War 1. (One thing I like about this series is that it actually gives its’ villain a back story which actually ties into his having once been one of them, as opposed to the HB show which just plonked a human would-be Gargamel onto the show with no explanation of who he was, where he came from, what his motivations were and how he came to be there). He was also the one responsible for the near-extinction of the Yellow Pac-Worlders. Upon his defeat, Betrayus and his followers were all stripped of the corporeal forms and banished to the Netherworld as ghosts, but after the portal sealing them all away was accidentally breached (by Pac, as it happens) Betrayus now hatches scheme after scheme to defeat Pac-Man and take over once and for all. He typically employs monsters, specters and gadgets, all of which fail week after week Rita Repulsa style. When Betrayus rages out (which is often) he emits fire. Betrayus has an ego the size of a mountain and is more than just a little nuts; as such his minions aren’t so much loyal to him as they’re too afraid of the wack-a-doodle to act any other way towards him. (Incidentally, Betrayus, both in corporeal and ghostly form, is white. As yet we haven’t seen any other white Pac-Worlders; perhaps Betrayus is a mutant, or maybe he just spent zero time in the sun.) Lord B. is also President Spheros’ brother.
Buttler is Betrayus’ hapless purple-gray colored personal servant. When he had a body he was a corporal in PWW1, who was secretly leaking secrets to Betrayus. After being discovered, which led to the defeat of Betrayus’ army, Betrayus blames him and now forces Buttler to serve him for all eternity. It’s fitting that he has a head shaped like a pair of buttocks, since he’s the frequent butt of jokes and target of abuse.
Dr. Buttocks is the Netherworld’s resident mad scientist, who creates the inventions Betrayus employs in his attempts for revenge. He resembles Buttler, only blue-gray in color instead of Buttler’s  purple-gray and with a mad scientist-required German accent. There’s a reason for their resemblance: they’re twin brothers, though they don’t get along: the Doc considers Buttler to be a lowly servant (which he is) while Buttler considers Buttocks to be a long-winded egomaniac (which he is). Buttocks’ ego is just as big as Betrayus’ and the 2 clash almost immediately.
Somewhere between the good guys and the bad guys are The Ghost Gang, the 4 ghosts from the games. Whereas before they were clear-cut villains, here they work as double-agents, leaking secrets, plans and advice to the good guys in order to fulfill their own personal agenda: they hope to get their bodies back. The Ghosts are even less loyal to Betrayus than the other spooks, though they’re not actually evil, just mischievous pranksters.
Blinky, the red ghost, acts as leader of the Ghost Gang (as opposed to the HB show, where he was a quaking coward in a farmer’s hat). Blinky speaks in a slanted, street-wise tough-guy brouque and helps the good guys when it suits his own purposes, though he’s quick to abandon the crusade to keep his ectoplasmic fat out of the fire.
Pinky, the pink ghost (duh!) is the only female member of the gang. (The HB cartoon was one of the few media where Pinky was portrayed as a male.) She has the same sass level as her brothers, but with a feminine charm. Pinky’s other defining trait is that she has a HUGE crush on Pac, and her desire for him often leads her to stick her (lack of) neck out further for the heroes than the others. As a side-effect, Pinky harbors an almost Pavlovian disdain for Cylindria.
Inky, the blue ghost, is a tad scatter-brained and a little spastic, but nowhere near the googly-eyed, tongue-wagging imbecile that he was in the HB show. Inky shares Blinky’s tough-guy mode of speech and desire to keep his rear covered over helping the good guys. In fact, Inky and Blinky are so much alike that they occasionally butt heads.
Clyde, the orange ghost, is a jumbo-sized gentle giant sized spook who, true to his game character, typically takes up the rear. Despite his slowness and somewhat vacant sounding voice, he is actually the most insightful member of the gang and is the most helpful. Clyde is also a pacifist, preferring to sit back and muse rather than scare people and pull pranks; Clyde’s gentleness and caring demeanor often annoys Blinky and Inky, but luckily Clyde is so huge that he can knock their heads together, literally.
Now, on to the gripes. Are there gripes? Really, the only gripe I have with the show is very minor: the recurring character of Skeebo, a blue-colored jock jerk in Pac’s class who insults and torments Pac for fun and who falls into the trope of Jerk Character Who Lives to Antagonize the Hero Even Though He Has No Reason to Actually Hate Him. He’s such an unneeded element to the show, especially since he has no clear cut motivations; we have no idea why Skeebo gets such a boner from hating on Pac, he just does. But thankfully, his machinations end up with him looking like a fool every time, so he hardly qualifies as a threat.
My overall rating: B. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures won’t change your life, but it’s a fun way to kill a half-hour. The show managed to make me feel sympathy for a little yellow ball who’s lost his parents in a genocidal spree and now has the weight of his entire world hoisted onto his nonexistent shoulders. The show deserves credit for that alone.