Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island - Master of Disaster

Ooooh boy, where do I begin with this show?

I remember first learning about this show when I happened to flip through the channels while me and my family were staying in Maui. I saw an episode that involved bananas obtaining Thanksgiving vision and shooting cooked turkeys out of their eyes in order to battle a sentient blender, and by the time the episode was over, I immediately wondered if the TV was just giving us a taste of what it's like to be on LSD. I had written the show off as maybe some sort of fever dream and went along with my life pretending that this didn't exist.

But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

It's Coconutbob Swimwearpants!
Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island is another cartoon that escaped the public's notice. It had 2 seasons and 13 episodes and then was quietly cancelled without so much of an audience to speak of. The show didn't get killed so much as quietly whimper and choke on its own vomit. The only reason I've seen people bring it up is because of two reasons.

1. It's a shameless ripoff of Spongebob Squarepants, with Rob Paulsen even saying so in an interview.
2. In an episode, a sentient piece of fruit dresses up as Sephiroth. I know this sounds silly, but this was a huge defining moment of this cartoon. I looked up this show's Wikipedia article and 80% of the article is going on and on about how an episode referenced so many different pieces from Final Fantasy 7, so much that a part of everyone's character profile is what video game character they dressed up as in that faithful episode. Square-Enix fans will support anything that even mentions the words "Midgar" or "Cloud Strife" and this is no exception.

As much as I want to take on the fateful episode where Coconut Fred dresses up like Cloud Strife, making several thousand Square fans go "KAWAII NO DESU NE!" and soil their pants in delight, I kind of want to hit the first episode first just to see what kind of maniacal piece of animation I'm subjecting myself to, especially after watching Spliced. The episodes are divided into 11 minute segments, but believe me, that's all I can probably manage of this show at a time. I'll either end up dead or craving like several thousand tons of fruit salad if I take on a full 22 minute episode. You don't want me to eat myself into a cherry and orange-induced coma, now do you?

I'm going with Master of Disaster since Coconut Fred's show has a freaking huge title (what, was "Fruit Salad Island" by itself already taken?) and Master of Disaster has the shorter title of the two 11 minute segments.

So yeah, Master of Disaster. How fitting.

Master of Disaster

September 17, 2005

Availability: Online Only

So yeah, what will this show bring us? Well, for starters, it's probably a bad sign that the very first sound effect the cartoon gives us is the seagull sound that's used at the end of every Spongebob Squarepants cartoon during the logos.

It's probably also a bad sign when the first thing that happens in the cartoon is that Coconut Fred jumps out of bed and shouts every line of dialogue that spews out of his mouth like Rob Paulsen is trying really really hard to be Tom Kenny (which is really sad since Rob Paulsen is a great voice actor), which in turn bugs his neighbor who complains about how dangerous and annoying Fred is. I know I should be giving this cartoon the benefit of a doubt and not immediately default to declaring it a Spongebob ripoff, but this is all rather...

Okay, obviously starting this on the wrong foot. Let me try again. The sun (or rather, a slice of orange) rises, causing Coconut Fred to wake up and say (siiiigh) "Goooood morning Fruit Salad Island! It's another perfect day in paradise!" I have to wonder if Warner Bros. did the whole "Look over there!" trick with the Nickelodeon lawyers while they snuck this show under the radar.

Hey, he's round and has a gap instead of buck teeth, so he's not ripping off
Okay, okay, fine, it's probably not a good thing to have this whole thing be about how much this is ripping off the yellow sponge. That's not really being objective about the actual subject matter itself, so from now on I'm not going to mention the dreaded S-word when describing this show. However, I'll just say one more thing before I inflict a Spongebob embargo on myself: The lemon is Squidward. Only they're a lot less subtle about this role in the cartoon, and it's really sad when the cartoon being more subtle than you is freaking Spongebob Squarepants.

The lemon (who, according to the Wikipedia page, is named Wedgie and dressed up as Pauline from Donkey Kong in that episode where Coconut Fred turned into Cloud Strife, which is apparently important info) doesn't so much hate Coconut Fred as live in constant fear from him. His major shtick is that he wants to leave the island but his plans are constantly thwarted by Coconut Fred and his friends. Also his girlfriend is an inanimate figurehead he named Betty. Will his plan to get off the island work in this 11 minute segment?

"I am vengeance! I am the night! I am LEMONMAN!"
To make a long story short, no. Because Coconut Fred's house can act like a catapult or something and the coconut launched himself right at Wedgie. In the director's uncut version of this, Coconut Fred fractures Wedgie's skull (do these fruits have a skeletal system?) and we watch as Wedgie slips into a coma while blood (lemon juice?) leaks out of his ears.

Coconut Fred cruelly ricochets off of Wedgie's now broken dreams and ends up next to Slip and Slide, a pair of sentient bananas in overalls. What's the first thing they do to illustrate their personalities to the audience? They...pull their underpants over their faces. Okay then. I guess the annoying, child-at-heart main lead needs some stupid friends to go along with his schemes. I'm not going to say the P-word but I bet you're all thinking it.

The Bananas in Pajamas don't like to talk about their earlier roles much.
Before I can question what fruits would need with underwear if fruits don't have complex organ systems, Coconut Fred converts the underwear into masks (or undertards, because there are tards underneath the masks), which causes a crowd of fruit paparazzi to start snapping their photos. Only one minute in and already I have no idea what I'm subjecting myself to.

So, are the fruits human-sized or fruit-sized?
I'm probably overthinking this.
With that little acid flashback done with, we're introduced to another character. Bingo the Cherry, who I swear I had the hardest time pinning a gender to. Apparently he's a guy but his voice sounds really androgynous, and I know technically none of the fruits even have sex organs since they're all a part of the reproductive process of various fruit trees, but still. He's small, constantly frightened, and we first see him trying to sneak away without Coconut Fred noticing him.

It turns out that like Wedgie, Bingo is also afraid of Coconut Fred. It's sort of a bad sign if two out of the three characters you introduce (Slip and Slide can be considered one character since a lot of their lines are just them saying the same thing in unison) are absolutely afraid of your main character.

To be fair, I'm kind of afraid of Coconut Fred too.
Unlike Wedgie, who's afraid of Coconut Fred because he denies him the ability to leave this hellhole of nonsensical talking food ruled by the fruit that kills the most people every year, Bingo is afraid of Coconut Fred because his plans usually involve physical pain at Bingo's expense. The cartoon illustrates this point even further by presenting us with flashbacks. The flashbacks range from sort of making sense (a rocket) to what-the-hell-am-I-watching territory (Coconut Fred making friends with aliens). They do a good job explaining why Bingo fears this fuzzy brown menace so props for that.

It also wins props for the line "Leprechauns sure hate it when they find their gold!", just because it was the first thing this cartoon uttered that made me sort of chuckle. That's a good sign, I guess.

Pictured: Kang and Kodos after their Slim Fast diet.
Naturally, after that carnival of horrors Bingo just showed the audience, he later concludes that all he wants to do is rest today. Then there's a rather pointless scene where Coconut Fred doesn't know the meaning of this strange word and makes a bunch of funny faces trying to pronounce the word, possibly to entertain the younger crowd watching this.

Bing's opinion of Coconut Fred's Lady Gaga impersonation was less than favorful.
After waves of stupidity crash over the cherry like a tidal wave, Bingo just kind of gives up and says he'll go with Coconut Fred's plan. What's this big plan that's the only thing resembling a plot point that's been build up all this time? Silly Hat Day! Whee?

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the one thing that separates Coconut Fred from other whimsical, child-like characters. See, Coconut Fred uses the power of imagination and can warp reality to suit his whims. So when Coconut Fred says "Silly Hat Day", hats honest to god appear out of nowhere and cover his friends' heads. It's a concept that goes from fun to mildly unsettling the more you think about it.

He has the power to create...and to destroy.
In fact, the intro implies that Fruit Salad Island and all of its inhabitants are nothing more than products of this magical coconut's imagination. Hence the title Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island. The intro even has Coconut Fred walking on water and creating the Fruit Salad Island out of sand and dirt. Sooo, without getting too theological here, does this mean that Coconut Fred is like God to these fruit? How did he come to get these magical abilities?

I also just realized I'm writing a blog post about a reality-warping coconut god who magically made hats appear out of thin air to satisfy his fruit friends, which makes me want to think about my life choices and have a good, long cry.

But wait, we're bombarded by our next important plot point! Coconut Fred spots a funny-shaped cloud in the sky, which means that a volcano named Melvin is about to erupt. I feel like I have to follow every one of the Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island plot points with "I'm not kidding you, this really happened".

Why wasn't Melvin in any of the previous episodes? Because Coconut Fred used his god-like abilities to spontaneously manifest a volcano that's about to explode. That's right, friends. Like God, Coconut Fred can be both friendly and vengeful. He can give you your hats, but he can also smite you with the power of falling ash and molten lava.

The two bananas both realize how doomed they are.
But the insane rantings of a crazed deity are quickly interrupted by another character introduction; a giant watermelon named Mel Greenrind who's obviously set up to be the one attempting to ruin everyone's fun by trying to enlist order and a set of rules onto the island. Since he's trying to bring order to this land of hysteria and nonsense, he instantly became the fruit I would support. Plus any fruit that can somehow maintain balance when he's that top heavy wins points in my book.

He's currently in season and tastes very delicious with a pinch of salt.
His rules feel like a protest against this mentally insane god that had taken up residence on this island, because a lot of the rules are really nonsensical but can all be applied to Coconut Fred. Also, when the list of rules pans down, it actually creates a small thing known as a Freeze Frame Bonus. Doesn't make the cartoon any more intelligent (and trust me, the only way this cartoon can get more intelligent at this point is if it discovers a cure for cancer), but any time where I can find hidden text in an animation just by pausing at the right time makes me feel like a winner. It's like a treasure hunt!

No Kids in the Hall? Does Greenrind have something against Canadian sketch comedy?
My theory is even further cemented when we see the watermelon hastily add in a new rule: no volcanoes. There's a really stupid fart joke added in the cartoon, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the first character who, while also afraid of Coconut Fred, tries to make an attempt to change what's going on this island instead of trying to leave or just accepting it. Greenrind's the real hero of this show when you really think about it.

You know that if he could, he would attempt to kill this twisted celestial being
with his bare hands.
This really comes to play when Greenrind actually stops and points out the fact that whenever Coconut Fred gets an idea in his head, no matter how stupid or insane it is, it magically appears. He just comes out and lays out the premise of the entire series for all to see. And that's when we see some of Coconut Fred's previous creations, and to be quite honest, some of them are pretty dangerous.

How dangerous? Well, for starters, Coconut Fred imagined up a giant blender monster that just walks around indiscriminately on an island of fruit people. Think about it for a second. Imagine if there was a 20 foot monster that could instantly liquify any human it eats magically poofed into existence. The fact that the blender is nearly full of juice basically says that Coconut Fred led several unsuspecting fruits to their pureed doom and he doesn't care one bit about it. This is a pretty scary cartoon if you think about it.

Hee hee, it's funny because his family's remains are floating in that thing
and he's going to be next!
Compared to that monstrosity, the other items Coconut Fred created are less harmful, possibly to lure the audience back onto Fred's side after showing us just what horrifying creatures he can create. Yeah, sorry Coconut Fred. I don't care if you made pickle clowns or a dog with helicopter blades attached to it. You also created a nearly erupting volcano and basically the fruit equivalent of The Thing.

He's also responsible for this thing. Horses and men both eat fruit,
Coconut Fred. Stop creating monsters that can eat the inhabitants!
So anyways, Melvin shoots another plume of smoke into the air and that causes all the fruits on the island to notice the intimidating force of nature that suddenly sprouted in their backyard and panic. Again, we see just how dangerous Coconut Fred is because he doesn't care one bit that everyone thinks they're going to die. In fact, like most horrible pagan gods, he laughs and seems elated by the screaming and fear of the innocent.

"I'll stop the volcano from erupting if you give me a virgin sacrifice!"
Also, great use of cut and paste there, animators.
Luckily, Coconut Fred decides he's going to stop that volcano, but instead of using his reality-shaping abilities to just make the volcano disappear, he decides he's going to play this game more fair and square. So he flies through the air (because he can do that) and ends up in his Nut Hut, which can be best described as the contents of every garage in existence.

So he, I can't believe I'm writing this, walks up to a tiki-head shaped slot machine, asks it how he can deal with Melvin, and the slot machine spits out a postcard from Hawaii in response. And since the people on the postcard are smiling and wearing flower shirts, clearly it's a ritual to stop the volcano from erupting. I wonder if they lightly misted all of the script writers with cocaine while this show was in production or if they poured the cocaine into the water supply.

What's wrong with your hand, Coconut Fred!?
Long story short, the dancing smiling flower shirt and lei ritual doesn't work even though Coconut Fred has the powers of creation and probably could make it work. Also, for some reason Fred invited all of his imaginative accidents to the ritual including the blender monster.  Geez, Fred. Must you torment the mortals on your island any further?

I'm sure Hawaii loved the free advertisement, right?
You think this show can't possibly get any more insane? Well, okay, bear with me, because I'll try to explain this to the best of my abilities. The sentient coconut with the ability to create things out of nowhere goes back to his Nut Hut, consults the tiki head that's also a slot machine, and it gives him a roll of toilet paper that has the real solution to stopping the volcano. Got all of that? Also, I found a new thing in this show to be afraid of; Coconut Fred's hands in close-up.

They take a shortcut (a magically teleporting tree because Coconut Fred spits in the face of physics) to the rim of the volcano and Coconut Fred reveals to us the contents of the scroll, but first he fools with Greenrind's mind by making up fake rituals because Coconut Fred is a jackass. Oh, and we learn that Greenrind can tear apart a seagull with his bare hands. I think we all know who the manliest fruit on the island is now.

"You two hold the watermelon down. To appease the volcano, I have
to carve out his heart."
There's some rather innocent rituals, like whistling with a mouth full of crackers, but then, like every good horror movie, the rather harmless things build up into something terrible. In this cartoon's case, the last ritual is for someone to jump into the volcano. Holy cow, Coconut Fred needs sacrifices too? I wonder if H. P. Lovecraft has a missing journal where he detailed the Old God that looks like a coconut. Thanks a lot, cartoon. Now I will never be able to eat certain pieces of those Valentine's Day heart boxes without thinking about the poor sacrificed natives on this island.

By the way, guess who falls into the volcano. Hint, it's the one that was trying to fight off the horrible deity's claw-like grip on this island. Sure, Coconut Fred makes it look like an accident, but we all know his true intentions.

Poor Greenrind. He challenged the gods and lost.
Luckily, while Coconut Fred may be a shocking celestial being who has powers no coconut was meant to wield, this still is a daytime television show aimed at a younger audience, so of course Greenrind makes it. He had landed on a ledge and climbed all the way back out through the sheer force of willpower, and probably wrestled a bear off-screen because he's that manly. Greenrind is a true warrior even if I carve up his brethren to enjoy their soft innards with my turkey dinner. Unfortunately, he also exhibits pure hubris and brags about how he tricked Melvin. Maybe there's a reason why the gods hate you, Greenrind.

That's one badly-drawn mouth there.
Aaand, I hate to say it, but this is when the show gets really REALLY preposterous. Yes, my friends, all of that I just told you, all of that reality-warping and total nonsense, was just an exercise for what comes up next, because this is when the cartoon just gives up and throws random images at us. Nothing can compare you for the sheer impossibility of what happens next. It's basically like watching that Pink Elephants on Parade segment from Dumbo for the first time, except the elephants have a tropical island theme to them.

Okay, first, Coconut Fred runs up the volcano and gives his four friends matching silly hats because it's still Silly Hat Day (oh hello, random throwback to some random joke made in the beginning of the episode), all while molten lava is raining everywhere and killing many of his loyal subjects. Some molten lava lands on Fred's head, but since he's immortal and omnipresent, he's perfectly fine.

That's some phallic lava there, animators.
The lava however steams up the milk inside Coconut Fred's body, causing his head to swell up to an enormous, impossible size and plug the top of the volcano, stopping fiery death from raining down and killing more of his followers. Personally, I was hoping for Coconut Fred to expand so much that he'd explode and rain milk and coconut fragments down from the skies like a heavenly rain, freeing the non-magical fruits from his tyrannical reign of terror, but I guess being permanently wedged in a volcano top works for me.

With the day saved, does that mean it's the end of the episode? No.

First, the lava has to burst out of the seafloor and conveniently ruin Wedgie's (remember him earlier? That guy who suffered the massive concussion and the internal bleeding) attempt at leaving the island. Ah, the wrath of a vengeful, all-knowing fruit inflicted on more likeable characters sure is fun to watch, isn't it? You think with a throwback to an earlier joke, it's the end of the episode, right? Still no.

"Too bad that molten lava didn't kill me."
Well, the hardened lava pillar that Wedgie is trapped on breaks and starts hammering the entire Fruit Salad Island under it's completely underwater. Yes, really. But I have great news, the episode's almost over. The pain will be gone soon.

So how did Wedgie survive this...?
But wait, the silly hats saved them from drowning, even though everyone else on that island is surely dead. With them being the only ones left alive, and with Coconut Fred god-like abilities, they can just create a new island and create new inhabitants, thus ending the episode? Hah, you wish, because this episode is like the Energizer bunny of total insanity. It's still not over.

Okay, the volcano honest to god creates a whirlpool and sucks all the water in, essentially lowering the water level around the island and restoring everything to its status quo. Yeah, bullcrap. There's no explanation as to how everyone survives, there's no explanation as to whether the water is sucked in or if the island raises up high, creating the illusion of sucked up water, and nothing's really explained. To be honest I wonder if Coconut Fred just made everything all better again after feeding on all of those strong negative emotions and having his fill. Those poor fruit probably suffer daily at his hands just so he can devour their fear and anger.

Obviously Greenrind needs the help of 24 other fruit to take down Coconut Fred
in a raid situated in the heart of the Melvin volcano.
And the episode finally, thankfully ends with Mel Greenrind farting out a cloud of pink smoke that carries the two bananas, the cherry, and the coconut god out of the volcano and up into the sky.

And now I know what it's like to be on very strong hallucinogens.

The Moral of this Cartoon
If you find yourself on an island mercilessly ruled by a immortal being that can alter time and space itself, don't even try to escape or overall draw attention to yourself, lest you end up falling into a volcano or find yourself in a personal hell in which there is no escape. 

Final Verdict
I'm not quite sure what to make of this cartoon because part of my brain is still coming to grips with the fact it exists and I watched it.

Basically this cartoon is what would happen if Spongebob has god-like abilities. I guess it's sort of cool that this show has this kind of a gimmick because it can open itself to a lot of different possibilities, but Coconut Fred is basically a more unlikable version of Spongebob. He's Spongebob dialed up to 11 without the inability to feel any emotion besides total crazy happy joy. Even Spongebob will feel sad sometimes and it's really terrible when Spongebob has the more subtle emotions. It also hurts that Rob Paulsen is a great voice actor who voiced a lot of my favorite characters and seeing him reduced to trying to imitate Spongebob's speech patterns is really hard to watch sometimes.

Also, it probably doesn't help this cartoon that the flash animation, while better than Foster's Home and the Total Drama series, is still really stiff. It's not so much apparent in the stills as it would be watching it, but it's never smooth and the characters never feel three-dimensional. Some of the exaggerated poses are pretty fun, but yeah, still at crummy flash level.

But I will admit that despite this, the fact that this show is one of the strangest shows I've run into so far wins it some points. I recommend everyone to watch at least one 11 minute segment, just because I can bet that whoever watches it will say at least one "What the hell?" at the situations that pop up in this cartoon. And I was totally sober watching this too; imagine watching this under the influence.

All in all, it's mediocre animation with mediocre written characters (except for the characters who have some sort of hatred towards Fred because I can partly relate to them) that manages to be one of the craziest things I've ever seen.