[I continue to make my way through my SpongeBob Squarepanets DVDs...]
I think I may have gotten Michelle into the show. Well, not quite, but she wanted to do some cross-stitching this afternoon and I put this on, showing her "Bubblestand" as a sample episode. She enjoyed it (but didn't like SpongeBob's bubble blowing technique!) and was amused that I laughed so hard at Tom Kenny's "Bring it around town" rendition. She watched episodes 1.4 and 1.5 with me after that, and enjoyed parts of it. That's better than I expected for some reason. She did agree with my Looney Tunes/classic cartoon comparison.
Episode 1.3 (Jellyfishing / Plankton!)
The relationship of the sentient beings in the SpongeBob underwater world and the 'animals' is an odd one. SpongeBob has a pet snail and chases after jellyfish, which are treated like violent butterflies. Why are these creatures non-sentient? What makes a sponge or plankton inherently more advanced? Granted, there are hints of intelligence, but that's standard for this sort of thing. The bottom line is that there's a divide here and it seems somewhat random. Now, if it were only fish that were sential, I'd get it. Despite there being dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of species of fish, there's a common link there. Throw in dolphins and whales, and you're set. But why lobsters and crabs, but not snails? Why starfish, but not jellyfish? It's somewhat baffling.
"Jellyfishing" and "Plankton!" didn't blow me away. "Jellyfishing" basically had SpongeBob and Patrick torturing Squidward for no reason, while the jellyfish come off as both victims and total dicks. Some nice gags like the opening music, but not one I really enjoyed.
"Plankton!" introduces the show's main villain: a small, green, evil plankton named Plankton. He owns a rival burger place to the Krusty Krab called the Chum Bucket and his quest in life is to obtain a Krabby Patty to analyse it and reproduce it with the hopes of putting the Krusty Krab out of business. It's pretty inane stuff and, really, shouldn't be that hard to accomplish. But, of course, it is. I like how Plankton revels in his evilness by playing evil, bombastic music at the end of his evil monologues. SpongeBob not realising he's being controlled by Plankton was funny since it makes you wonder what his internal world is like. He must be used to his body just doing as it wishes.
Despite "Plankton!" being a 'big' episode, it doesn't feel like a proper introduction to Plankton. It's too small scale. Too wacky. The plot is the sort you expect for his third episode, not his first.
Episode 1.4 (Naughty Nautical Neighbors / Boating School)
There's a nice recovery with these two episodes. "Naughty Nautical Neighbors" is a simple morality play, while "Boating School" shows SpongeBob in the outside world a little more. They both play up the physical humour well. In the first, Squirdward is annoyed by the fact that SpongeBob and Patrick are having fun, sending messages to one another via bubbles, and he ruins it by creating his own messages. As a result, he soon has the two of them competing to be his best friend. In the second, SpongeBob wants his boating license, but can't pass the road test because of nerves.
"Naughty Nautical Neighbors" reminded me of sleepovers when I was a kid. I don't know how everyone else's sleepovers tended to go, but it was common for me (and my sisters and on The Cosby Show, too) for there to be a fight with my friend, causing ten to twenty minutes of hating one another before making up and forgetting that there was ever any problem. It didn't happen every time, but it seems like it did. Kids are weird like that. You hate someone, you like them again... I got in a fight once in the first or second grade when a friend was being mean to my sister, but we were best friends again when he accidentally knocked out a loose tooth (meaning I'd get Tooth Fairy money). That's what happens here. A stupid little argument seems like the end of the world for SpongeBob and Patrick, but they eventually make up and it's like there never was an argument. It was all stupid minor shit. No worries.
"Boating School" has a fantastic moment where Patrick is helping SpongeBob with his road test after they shoved a radio in his head, so Patrick could tell him what to do while watching through a telescope. I'm slightly bothered by the idea that Patrick is not only a good driver, but he's good enough to guide SpongeBob from miles away. But, the road test is almost over the poor, beleaguered woman, Mrs. Puff, that teaches at the boating school is so happy that SpongeBob has finally gotten over his nerves that she wonders aloud how it could have happened, laughing the entire time -- and she describes the Patrick/SpongeBob scheme exactly. Except she's laughing and SpongeBob is laughing, too, until she mentions that would be cheating.
SpongeBob freaks the fuck out. He's cheating. He's cheating! He just flips his shit, starts screaming "I think I'm cheating!" over and over again, loses control of the car, and crashes. Sometimes, SpongeBob is such a child.
Episode 1.5 (Pizza Delivery / Home Sweet Pineapple)
"Pizza Delivery" coming right after "Boating School" had me thinking that they just did two boating-related stories in a single episode. I lost track of how many stories I'd seen, so it seemed like a nice continuation, of sorts. It still works that way. SpongeBob and Squidward have to deliver the first ever Krusty Krab pizza right at closing (mostly because it's a chance for Mr. Krabs to make some money and that's what he loves most). Things go wrong when Squidward makes SpongeBob drive. All he has to do is back out of the parking space. Instead, he begins backing up and keeps on backing up until they run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. What ensues is them lost, tired, SpongeBob saying ridiculous things that he heard the pioneers did, Squidward wanting to eat the pizza that SpongeBob insists is for the customer. It all culminates in them finally delivering it and the customer being a giant asshole, claiming that SpongeBob forgot the drink he ordered despite not ordering a drink. When it nearly breaks SpongeBob, Squidward shoves the pizza (in the box) down the guy's throat.
This is a nice classic premise of characters stranded in the middle of nowhere. SpongeBob annoys Squidward while clinging to his faith in serving the customer. We get to see SpongeBob pushed to the limit of sanity as his idealism is nearly crushed by the reality that some people are loud, boorish assholes. Squidward shows his softer side by protecting SpongeBob from his awful truth. This was a needed episode as it at least established that Squidward isn't all bad. We had hints of that in "Naughty Nautical Neighbors" when he was enthused/surprised at SpongeBob wanting to play him some music (until SpongeBob played, of course...).
"Home Sweet Pineapple" does little for me. SpongeBob's house is eaten (or, more properly, drank) by nematodes. It's an amusing idea that never really works after it happens. I enjoyed the nematodes drinking the house and, somehow, that meant objects inside were drank, too. After that happens, SpongeBob looks forced to move back with his parents, but tries two things first: building a new house with Patrick and, then, staying with Patrick. Neither work out. Both have the odd decent gag, but, like I said, it never really works entirely. It's a fine, decent, average sort of episode. The solution at the end is eye-rolling.
More as I watch them...