Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Mask: The Animated Series - Convention of Evil

You know, animated adaptations of big hit Hollywood movies get a really bad rap these days. What was once a big staple of the 90's (ironic considering how often nostalgia fans praise the 90's for being the most original) is now seen as unoriginal, banal pieces of crap that ride upon the coattails of a successful movie franchise and are almost never good. The words "the animated series" are like the brightly colored skin of a poison dart arrow frog, warning off potential viewers of the show's toxicity.

Usually, this is correct (because oh man can I name some animated adaptations that suck all that is wholesome and good out of the animation medium), but first I'm going to show off an animated adaptation that, in my opinion, works better than the movie it spawned from. Say hello to The Mask, and let me answer your first question: yes, there was an actual The Mask cartoon.

There are a ton of things are wrong about this show, making its 3 season, 52 episode success almost baffling. It's better to just go about them in list form, and really, it ends up sounding like a recipe list for making the perfect disaster.

1. It's a superhero cartoon about a movie that was nothing about superheroes.
2. Key elements are discarded. The mask can now work during the day and Stanley's girlfriend (who was Cameron Diaz in her very first star role, by the way) is completely missing. And Peggy, who was considered a villain and was even killed in a deleted scene, becomes The Mask's friend in the series.
3. 80% of the cast was completely fabricated from scratch and would so not fit in with the movie's cast. Okay, ask yourself. When you watched that Jim Carrey film, did you ever stop and think "You know what this needs? A mutant honeybee monster, a half-balloon man, a talking fish, a Mesopotamian woman who controls cheese, and Satan!" to yourself? If you answered "yes", then you were one of the character designers on this show.
4. This was created during the peak of a Jim Carrey craze and two other Jim Carrey films were being adapted into cartoons as well.
5. They turned two iconic lines in the movie into catchphrases. "Sssssmokin'!" and "Somebody stop me!" were used ad nausem in this show's run.

and worst of all...

6. It's a watered-down animated adaptation of a movie that's a watered-down adaptation of a very violent comic book. Fans of the Mirage TMNT comic books should instantly know this feeling all too well.

I'm willing to bet that a large amount of people will respond to this with "There was a comic!?"
So okay, what's the punchline, you might be thinking. This couldn't possibly have ended well.

Well, it did. Partly because Film Roman knew just what the hell they were doing and allowed the show to have an actual budget. I don't want to risk gushing too much about how inexplicably awesome this show is, but let's just say it's way more well-remembered than the two other Jim Carrey shows, Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura, for a very good reason. Plus it helps that I like this cartoon when I don't particularly care for the movie (I can't enjoy Jim Carrey unless if he's in small doses), so it does its job well.

Anyways, I'm done talking about the show. Now for the actual episode I'm going to dive right into. For the first episode I'm covering from this show, I'm going to cover...the first episode I ever personally watched, thanks to a friend linking me and telling me "this is better than it sounds, trust me". Not the first episode of the show; the one that first exposed me to the show. Which doesn't make much sense, but hey. My blog; my rules.

I will warn you, since this show currently doesn't have a DVD release, that means the copies I find on the Internet all contain network bugs. That being said, let's watch a cyborg, a hideous bee mutant, Satan, a woman with a cheese obsession, a half-shark mobster, Ickis from Aaahhh! Real Monsters, and a nerd in skintight underwear sit around at a table and discuss their mental issues with Ben Stein in...

Convention of Evil

Aka the San Diego Comic-Con.
Airdate: 1996

Availability: Online Only

This episode opens on a very stately highrise city building in the middle of the night, first showing the lovely art deco exterior and then taking us to a beautiful interior filled with statues, priceless paintings, glistening marble floors, and modernized Roman pillars. Therefore, it seems fitting that the first people we see in this cartoon are driving a little mini scooter through an otherwise posh, lovely locale, subtly destroying what looks to be thousands of dollars in interior decorating with sooty carbon emissions and tire treads. What assholes.

Reason #27 why I want this show on DVD - I want to know what that sign says.
After running over tiling that's probably worth more than his life, what can best be described as a human weasel stuffed into stereotypical punk garb declares that this must be the place while his riding partner, obviously his mental superior, makes a sarcastic remark about his intellect. Considering their disregard for other people's property (especially those marble floors), these are obviously villains.

Well, that, and the fact that one of them has sharp teeth and claws. That's usually a giveaway.

"Would it kill you to at least turn on the radio?"
And, since they're too lazy to park their vehicle and walk five feet into the room, they drive into what else but a convention of evil. They know how to label these episodes. The moment they enter, we hear the timeless voice of Tim Curry fill the air with delicious villainy and welcome them to the jungle. They've got fun and games.

Since there's a lot of villains present, I'm going to take the time and introduce the villains in the order that this episode introduces them before moving on with the actual plot. Mostly so that no one gets lost in my walkthrough because this episode has six major villains in its ranks (Seven if you count Pete and Lonnie as separate. I don't.) so it'd be incredibly easy to get mixed up with such a large cast.

Just because he's an evil villain doesn't mean he can't enjoy a good Atari game every once in a while.
First, we have Pretorius, who is blessed with the gift of Tim Curry's voice and is none other than the main villain in this show. Pretorius is the resident mad scientist villain with a vaguely European accent, but the fun thing is that he doesn't really have a set theme. Even his level of destruction fluctuates from total world destruction (he wanted to recreate the world's population in his image) to merely hiring bounty hunters to hunt down his arch nemesis The Mask.

Pretorius is fun to watch because he's absolutely calm and serious about absolutely everything. He'll talk about bizarre, crazy stuff like taking pictures of aquatic sea life living on the moons of Neptune (and yes, this happens in an episode) and sound like he's completely sane. Somehow that makes The Mask's antics funnier, because he'll be in a situation where some man with a green head shapeshifts into a pirate with a cannon for an arm and all he'll do is stand there and look slightly annoyed.

In short, Pretorius rocks and he knows he rocks.

"Ask me about Jersey Shore one more time and I won't be responsible for my actions."
Next, we have Lonnie the Shark and Pete, aka the two that just drove in here on their lazymobile. These two are the mobsters of this show, the ones that represent organized crime and are probably the closest this show gets to emulating the villains from the movie. Their main shtick is that Pete has a uneducated Cockney accent, is voiced by Charles Adler (aka Chicken from Cow and Chicken), and is a total flipping coward, and Lonnie is sort of like Pretorius in that he'll do incredibly demeaning things for his schemes and yet be totally serious about it. The main difference between Lonnie and Pretorius is that Lonnie's got a temper and he regularly dishes out punishment to his whiny little toad of a minion. Plus the sharp teeth. Not sure where he got those.

Oh, and Lonnie the Shark is actually a subtle homage to Lawrence Limburger from Biker Mice From Mars. I love it when slightly rare cartoons reference cartoons that are equally rare. It's like if Project GeeKer referenced Flying Rhino Junior High.

She's still mad that The X-Men rejected her audition.
Next we have Gorgonzola, Evil Goddess of Cheese. Not kidding you. She's a Mesopotamian witch that, if someone removes her pendant from her tomb, she'll possess them and grant them to power to control all forms of cheese and the ability to turn things into cheese. What makes her interesting is that she's the end result of a contest where a lucky winner got to make a villain for the show. I wonder if the winner just came up with the premise or included things like the strange fashion disaster of an outfit she's wearing. Although I guess it's better than her dressing up in a giant foam cheese slice or, god forbid, a giant cow suit. 

Compared to the other villains, she's not very exciting. Other than the fact that she's a woman in a superhero show that doesn't have huge boobs or a revealing skintight outfit, there's not much more to say about her. I think the only reason she's even here is because Pretorius wanted to be equal opportunity and have at least one chick in his evil cartel.

Holy Bad Costume Choices, Batman!
After that, there's Tempest, who controls all forms of weather. I would honestly like this guy a lot more if they went for a different design for him. His episode is actually really great, his voice has really nice range, and he has great acting, but geez, I can't get over how lame that costume looks. It's basically if Robin and a radioactive cloud collided and made an angry weather-controlling baby.

Which is really sad, because it's fun how much of a jerk he is to all the other villains. He picks fights and threatens to shove lightning bolts up where the sun doesn't shine. It's just dude, Tempest, you look like a dork. Underwear worn on the outside of your costume went out of style fifty years ago. You're embarrassing the other villains.

He likes to show up at high school science classes to give lectures on lab equipment safety.
And last but not least, we have The Stinger. The Mask took the classic "scientist that turns himself into a bug guy" and really ran with it as far as design goes because just look at that. At first, his design looks extremely off-putting and makes no sense, but it actually comes together in a creepy, fun way. I like how creepy his facial structure looks, from the bug-sized eyeballs (which make him fit in with any run-of-the-mill Anime) to the razor-sharp teeth that may or may not be an homage to the 1980's version of The Fly.

But despite that, he's probably the most laid-back of the group, despite the fact that his motive for committing crime is the fact that his mutation changed his metabolism so much that he has to keep eating honey so he doesn't starve to death. Dwell on that and how unbelievably dark that is. He doesn't commit crime for fun; he commits crime to survive. The Stinger essentially acts as if he's still a pudgy, middle-aged college professor even though he now looks like something that would star in a B-grade monster film. He also controls an entire swarm of hyperintelligent monster bees because if a giant bee monster doesn't frighten you, a giant swarm of aggressive bees will. Bees are scary.

Anyways, back to the actual episode. Pretorius takes the time to introduce the villains one by one. I'm not going to post what he said since it's basically a cliffnotes version of what I wrote.

I love that face on Pretorius. It's like he knows how stupid a Goddess of Cheese sounds.
The only thing notable about Pretorius introducing the villains is what The Stinger is doing. While Tempest and Gorgonzola just kind of chill there with cups of coffee and look just all-around casual, we see just how much a giant bee monster cares about table manners because his first action in this episode is to completely guzzle down a pot of honey right in front of his fellow colleagues. First he sucks on the straw so hard that his eyes nearly pop out of their sockets and then he lets out a satisfying belch. I'm sure Pretorius appreciated hearing that.

And yes, I know the character has to keep eating honey in order to live, but he should still be more courteous.

"I'll have what he's having."
After that charming glance at The Stinger's eating habits, Pretorius gets right to business and tells them exactly why he brought all of them here. After all, they're not here just to sip coffee (or honey) and shoot the breeze; they're here because they're rotten to the core! He feels that what this town needs is, in his words, "a consolidation of power", a group of bad guys working together. Aw yeah. Villain team-ups!

This is a very common plot that gets heavily used in superhero cartoons, but what sells this scene is the fact that Pretorius delivers his lines like he loves listening to himself talk. It's like he can barely contain his excitement on how awesome it would be to have a team of buddies that share a common interest in villainy. And after The Mask is defeated, they can hang out and watch movies! It'll be fun!

"Man, I'm awesome."
So, okay, now we know what exactly we're dealing with in terms of a plot. With the combined elements of weather, cheese, swarms of insects, and organized crime, Pretorius and his four flunkies are going to form a horrible group of villains and take down The Mask, right?

"Yeah, fine, ignore me. See if I care! Maybe I'll go down the street and ask the other,
more competent villains to join my evil cartel!"
Well, actually, no. The moment Pretorius brings up this idea, all of the other villains actually don't immediately say yes and immediately jump into crime-related shenanigans. In fact, they're unsure of this idea and find it totally insane. The Stinger even jumps from his seat and says in a hesitant manner (and with bug puns because hey, mutant bee) that Pretorius's idea just sucks.

By the way, in this scene, we learn that Stinger's mutation has made it so that his voice buzzes. It's an interesting effect that I didn't see used that often in other shows with bug mutants, and really, it just adds to list of reasons why this character needed to appear in more than two episodes.

Also, Stinger, you could've just raised your hand if you had an issue instead of rubbing it in that you're the only one in the room with wings.

Nobody likes a showoff, Stinger.
Now, see, despite the lack of action, I like where this plot is going. I like that the other villains don't instantly follow Pretorius just because he happens to be barking orders at them. In Darkwing Duck, you don't even learn how Negaduck gathered up the Fearsome Four members or how he manages to keep them all in the group. In TMNT, Shredder just gives a flimsy excuse that he's paying off the related rogue gallery members in "Night of the Rogues". This episode? The villains actually question whether they'd like the idea of someone ordering them to fight someone they've already lost to. Because they're actually thinking it over.

It helps that the moment he hears that none of the villains want to agree with his obviously brilliant idea, the Tim Curry cyborg adopts a look of pure disgust. Yeah, that's what you get when you try to make a villain team-up that consists of a giant bee and a woman who shoots cheese out of her hands, Pretorius.

"I hate this town and everyone in it."
Pretorius calls them all weenies for not wanting to fight an invincible shapeshifter capable of inflicting heavy amounts of pain on them, which causes several of the villains to get defensive. Oddly enough, Pretorius predicted that the other villains would pussy out (I love how little faith he has in them) so he's brought a backup plan. What's his secret weapon? Ben Stein.

Oh, okay, this character's name is really Dr. Neumann, but I like to call him Ben Stein because that's who voices him. Like Tim Curry, anyone who watches cartoons on a regular basis has probably run into Ben Stein's voice at least once. It's one of those iconic voices of our generation.

Since morale is low amongst the supervillains in Edge City on account the hero they have to deal with is an invulnerable reality-warper that has practically no weaknesses, Pretorius decided he was going to be helpful and bring in an actual psychiatrist to talk to the villains that would be most useful for Pretorius's evil schemes. Now the true nature of the convention of evil comes to light. The convention of evil is...a therapy session. It's basically like those AA meetings, only with more mutants. I'm on the edge of my seat with excitement!

As you can probably guess, none of the other rapscallions are too happy at the thought that they're going to get their heads examined under false advertisement and first react with hostility. Ironically, the one that has the most issues with seeing the psychiatrist is the one that needs it the most. And by that, I mean the person in the room that's wearing the skintight spandex and the fluffy cloud pendant on his outfit.

What makes this scene great is, when Tempest yells about how he doesn't have any repressed hostility, the person sitting next to him slowly inches away from him and Ben Stein replies "Yes I can see that" in his typical deadpan snark. Trust me, Dr. Neumann, Tempest has more issues than the back catalog of TV Guide. It's better not opening that Pandora's Box. 

You know you've got problems when a mutant bee monster is staring at you like you're crazy.
But the villains all calm down once they hear that Dr. Neumann's...written a book on the subject he calls "Maskophobia". So wait, there's so many people afraid of The Mask that they need an entire book on the subject? Holy crap, man. What's wrong with this city?

Isn't slapping a giant picture of The Mask on a book for Maskophobes kind of counterproductive?
Anyways, Dr. Boringvoice says that, to free them from the shackles of fear, they should talk about their run-ins from The Mask. They can even take turns, with one reciting a past experience with the Jim Carrey character, while another one can talk about an episode they've had, preferably a previous one, where they fought The Mask and lost. They can even bring in special effects to take the audience to that previous episode!

Yes, you can see where this is going. I just tricked you into reading a review about a clip show. I'm that cruel. But you'll see in a moment just why I actually really like the way this clip show is done.

The first people up are Pete and Lonnie, probably because, unlike the other villains invited to this place, they debuted in Season 1 and therefore have seniority over everyone else. They've been making rounds in this city while the others were still mundane citizens.

"Stop saying I look like Marlon Brando."
We get a twinkly sound effect and a dissolve, and we're in a previous episode! What fun. This episode is called "Malled", and basically it involves Pete, Lonnie, and a tribe of morbidly obese bikers holding a giant supermall hostage in exchange for all the money in the bank vault. It's a very standard set-up, but I won't go too much into the episode that isn't shown in flashback.

The flashback instantly throws us right into the action and shows Pete and three angry fat dudes with beards looking very upset that The Mask is skating around in an ice rink. I know the context behind the scene, but for now, I'm going to pretend like I'm watching this without any previous knowledge of the other episodes. That, and you wouldn't believe me if I tried to give you a short summary of what does happen in Malled, because it involves stolen baked goods, a dog wearing The Mask, exercise machines, and a bank manager getting his back waxed.
I hate that I have the phrase "getting his back waxed" next to a screenshot of hairy fat guys.
Finally, we get our first glimpse of The Mask in this episode. Well, technically not this episode, but you get the idea. The best way to describe him is a living cartoon character, one that can randomly change costumes and can bend the laws of physics to suit his whims. It's sort of like if Screwy Squirrel fought actual supervillains. Think Freakazoid, only not so full of random segways which, to me, makes him more bearable than Freakazoid.

Oh, and he beats the fat guys with ice skating. Don't ask me how he does it; I'm not the one who wrote this episode.

Lumberjacks on ice!
After The Mask takes care of the beard patrol, you'd think he'd beat up Pete right? Nope, first he has to take a movie break, because The Mask suffers from ADHD. Imagine how insulting that would be to a villain if the superhero thwarting your evil schemes decides that a movie is more interesting than finishing you off on account he knows he can wipe the floor with you in about two seconds. Pete's self-esteem probably hit rock bottom at that moment.

And, like all episodes that deal with flashbacks, this leaves me wondering how Pete was able to describe this. Did Pete see The Mask enter the movie theater? How did he know what The Mask said to the camera, breaking the fourth wall? Something's fishy with their story.

A nearly empty theater with the only person inside looking very angry? They must be showing Son of the Mask.
Long story short, since the gangsters are making so much noise that The Mask can't enjoy his movie (your guess is as good as mine), The Mask defeats Lonnie the Shark, Pete, and Unnamed Bearded Fats by making their elevator fall thirty stories and then sticking them to the House of Velcro. Now, maybe it's me, but one of those situations seems a lot more like the end of a conflict than the other. It's probably because it's pretty hard to lead up to something satisfying after you involve something lethal like falling elevators. did Lonnie and Pete survive being in an elevator where the cable snapped anyway? Did all of those corpulent rolls of flesh in that small area of space shield all the occupants from harm? I'm imagining the kind of cushioning effect packaging peanuts have, but with more human fluids. Have fun with your mental images, readers.

This screenshot contains fat.
And then, the flashback is over and we're back in the room filled with evildoers wallowing in an ocean of their own evil. Since Pete's story ended with him getting stuck to a wall while surrounded by sweaty fat guys, Ben Stein appropriately calls it a very traumatic experience. Despite that, Pete's totally happy now, and feels unburdened of his fear. Meanwhile, we don't see the other villains' reactions to that, probably because they're still dryheaving from the descriptions of the half-naked obese men.

And what happened to the nameless guy in the blue suit from earlier? His chair's empty!

My guess is that Lonnie got hungry and ate him. He is Lonnie the Shark...
Who's up next? Gorgonzola. Trust me when I say this, but she has the least interesting flashbacks of the bunch. That isn't to say "Mask Au Gratin", the episode the clips came from, isn't a good episode (oh geez, the fact that I can remember these episode names off the top of my head worries me so much) but for some reason the writers decided that a woman that has cheese superpowers was the most interesting villain out of all of them and gave her two separate flashbacks. Geez lady, save some for the other villains. Mostly The Stinger because he's awesome.

"Can I get a different seat? The Robin dork is creeping me out."
Tinkly sound and ripply wave effect later, and now we're in another flashback, conveniently hiding the part in the episode where Tempest makes little footballs out of bits of paper and tries to flick them across the table into someone's coffee cup in an attempt to slay his boredom. What happens in this flashback? Oh nothing special; just a woman with horrible clothing walking around, enjoying the fresh park air in a lovely night outing, and turning city bridges to cheese with the laser beams that shoot from her eyes. Again, love how the flashbacks just cut right to the action. No unnecessary dialogue, no padding. Just boom, here's a lady who has cheese vision. Enjoy.

Also, cartoons need to stop using eye lasers because they never look right. It looked stupid in Loonatics Unleashed and it looks stupid here.

It's dangerously cheesy!
As soon as a bridge magically turns into something that must stink incredibly bad (and is making the water unfriendly for vegans, might I add), we see a cameraman and a news reporter decide to report on it. Since this is Edge City, land of people made out of putty and balloon rubber (yes, there's an actual mutant made out of putty), they're not at all shocked that a public city structure turned into a giant piece of food. Come on, guys, at least say a "Holy crap!" or something rather than just civilly doing your job like you're dealing with a convenience store robbery instead of an odd, magical transformation that would never happen in real life.

Enter The Mask, who's decides that the only reason he's going to help is because the reporter thinks that an ancient witch turning things into dairy products makes for a better story than a known presence that's been existing in the city for quite a while now. Hah hah, it's funny because he's an attention whore.

No, in this cartoon, he doesn't save the TV reporter on a weekly basis.
So, just so we're in the clear, The Mask's motivations for saving the day in these episodic retellings were for entertainment and because a villain is being more destructive than him. I like how the villains collectively select what parts of the story to tell in order to make their arch-nemesis look like a total jackass. I know I do that too in my debate class.

Oh, and he saves the people on the bridge by inflating his butt. For some reason, I feel like sharing this to my readers.

So that's what inspired that annoying 90's rap song!
And so, we get The Mask annoying Gorgonzola by...pretending he's a therapist. So, in this cartoon, Gorgonzola is attending a therapy session where she's talking about a therapy session. Things got all Inception in here all of a sudden.

And then he asks her to tell him a past encounter with The Mask, and then she tells him about the time she
went into therapy where she had to relate a story about The Mask...
There's some demonstration on how annoying The Mask is, some more eye lasers are involved but then, the flashback is interrupted and we're back in the present. Why? Because the fireplace suddenly burst into dangerously high flames and is filling the room with smoke, all while the villains scream in terror and are rooted to their seats in fear.

And that's honest to god where we get our commercial break. With the notion that this crowded room full of evil villains is going to die of smoke inhalation due to a freak accident with the gas valve. 

And why is there a fireplace in a conference room...?
Back to the episode, the other villains cough and get dangerously close to having permanent lung damage while a figure in a black trenchcoat, a beard, fanged teeth, and pointed ears manifests into the room and excuses himself for being late on account he has to travel by fire. Hmmm, seems suspicious.

"Man, you should've seen the looks on your faces. Classic."
Ah yes, looks like our final villain is arrived. Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to Bub. He traveled a long way to get here, he lives somewhere really hot, and he likes to make deals with mortals in order for their souls. Bub also happens to have an occupation people know him for. People even say he inspired things like heavy metal, Dungeons and Dragons, and Stephanie Meyer's writing.

His favorite people are lawyers, politicians, carnival workers, and the people who work at the DMV.
Or, I can just come out and say that he's Satan. Yes, Pretorius, for his evil villain team-up, was actually able to hire The Devil. That sounds a lot like bringing an atomic bomb to a knife fight there, hiring The Devil to do your evildoing. I also now kind of wonder if any of the villains are practicing Christians and now take offense to the fact that they're working with the author of lies. What if Lonnie's a devout Roman Catholic, Pretorius? What then?

Also, it's weird for me to write this, but I like this portrayal of The Devil. He looks like he totally enjoys his job and is actually charismatic, as opposed to some silly looking red guy with horns. I bet Satan was a lot more in favor of this cartoon adaptation of him as opposed to the strange transsexual thing with crab claws in The Powerpuff Girls. 

I'm sure the moment Pete signs that, he'll become a famous rock star that ends up dying at age 27.
Despite the fact that the room now contains the freaking devil, Gorgonzola continues talking about herself as if nothing's happened and throws us into another unneeded flashback. Okay, not even going to give her the dignity of paying attention to her silly little memory. Satan's now in the room. That's kind of more important than hearing some cheese-themed villain talking about how much her life sucks. 

It's sad that I honestly can't decide whether Tempest or Gorgonzola has the goofiest outfit.
When The Devil hears the mention of dancing in Gorgonzola's story, he starts to relate a tale of his own. This show barely gives us a moment's rest before dumping us into yet another flashback against our will. This one happens to be from the episode called "Boogie With The Man", which involves The Devil, selling your soul, and Hell. Considering the amount of crap Disney got for Darkwing Duck's "Hot Spells" episode (which got banned, by the way), I have to wonder how Film Roman managed to escape the wrath of the network censors for having such blatant depictions of Satan.

...and why are there papers on the table all of the sudden? Was Pretorius expecting everyone to take notes?

"And just to settle the score, I'm not responsible for Batman and Robin. That was Hollywood's fault."
Anyways, in the flashback, The Devil and The Mask are having a dance-off at the Coco Bongo, aka the local nightclub from the movie that appears a lot in this cartoon. Again, not saying the context of the scene, because it's so much funnier to picture Lucifer being ticked off at the fact that he lost a dancing contest. Hey, just because he's lived for thousands of years doesn't mean he's not bugged by little annoyances that happen to him.

Also, Satan dances like a boss. I guess Hell got a big National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Would it be considered blasphemous to find this hot?
Long story short, (partly because I'm definitely going to cover this episode later on) through the use of explosions, The Mask wins the dance competition. That's how I would win in dance competitions too, at least until they confiscated my plastic explosives and put me under house arrest.

I love how totally casual all the judges are about judging a contest where the competitors are some guy wearing an enchanted, reality-warping mask and Satan, by the way. Edge City's weird.

"Eat your heart out, Ace Ventura!"
We're back with the villain therapy session, and Bub tells them all that he's going to get The Mask someday. Simple, run-of-the-mill villain talk, until Pretorius decides to make it downright depressing by saying "I venture to say that we'll all end up with Bub someday". Look at the faces on some of these bad guys when they hear that they're all going to Hell. Way to bring up a topic no one likes to think about in their spare time, Pretorius.

It'd be funny if one of them had the guts to say "Oh yeah? Well, I'm an atheist and
I don't believe in you!" just to see Bub's reaction.
I love how Bub totally confirms it too. He says in nice, happy terms that basically everyone in this building is going to spend an eternity roasting in the pits of Hell while he torments them for their sins. Just what I like to think about when I watch my cartoons; eternal damnation.

Meanwhile, Pretorius just does not care that he's going to spend eternity in Hell. He's that composed.
But apparently giant mutant bees can totally get over the fact that their mortal soul is doomed, because instantly the cartoon snaps back to The Stinger, who's chugging away at his honey pot without a care in the world like a nightmarish version of Winnie the Pooh. He knows that since he goes to church every Sunday and accepts Jesus into his heart, Heaven has room for a man who has a horrifying insect body.

I hope he realizes that honey's essentially fermented bee vomit...
Okay, without sounding like I'm biased, this scene where The Stinger tries to tell a story is just adorable, or at least as adorable as a scene with him in it can get. Look at how happy he is. Look at that big, toothy smile. This is a man who doesn't care one bit that he was hideously mutated in an accident involving bee venom, unlike whiny Bushroot or the self-hating fly version of Baxter Stockman. He just know he's got honey and he's surrounded in people that will respect him for who he is. He doesn't care what Vogue says; he knows he's beautiful.

It also excuses the fact that his line was "I have a honey of a story to tell!". It's easy to ignore bee puns when the character can somehow smile with flesh-rending teeth and still look friendly.

Awww, he's the happiest sin against nature ever.
Unfortunately, Tempest decides that he's going to be an asshole and decides to pick a fight with the nicest character in the room by calling him Bee Boy, a name that instantly riles up the once cheerful, honey-drinking bee. We learn from The Stinger that no one calls him Bee Boy, which leads me to wonder why. Is he just incredibly picky about terminology (he spent all day thinking up that villain name and by golly everyone's going to use it!), or is he drowning in denial about the whole "I'm no longer human" thing?

It's probably the latter, since Tempest follows up with "What's the matter? Does the truth have a nasty sting to it?". That little jerk knows just how to push the right buttons.

"At least put some pants on, you freak!"
"You first! I'm tired of staring at your underwear!"
By the way, that was really smart, Tempest. Piss off the normally mellow villain that can control a sentient cloud of bees. Because now you're on the floor, nursing several hundred bee sting wounds. Hope you're happy.

It's a good thing Tempest isn't allergic or else the next topic of discussion would be where to hide the body.
Since Tempest is a baby, once the victim of his insults actually fights back, he gets so angry that he summons a storm that fills the entire room and takes his anger out on every single occupant including Satan. Yes, apparently The Devil is weak against gusts of wind. One commercial break later, and we find that Tempest is still doing this, leaving me to picture that this terrifying magically induced cyclone of death went on for the entire commercial break, after which Pete threw up all over himself.

Tempest used WHIRLWIND!
Enemy CONVENTION OF EVIL was blown away!
But then, something incredibly awesome happens. With a shout of "Enough!", Pretorius summons all the collective might and power of Tim Curry's voice, pulls out a laser gun, and shoots Tempest in the crotch. This stops the storm because anyone would lose concentration if a laser hit them in the scrotum. By the way, thanks for doing us all a favor, Pretorius. We really don't want to see this man breed.

Oh, right in the adult diaper!
With the whiny little manchild of a villain all calmed down now that he has a bad burning sensation in his bikini area, the villains all agree to let the lightning-shooting jerkwad tell his story on account he threw such a big temper tantrum. Even The Stinger agrees despite the fact that Tempest is still enough of an asshole to persist calling him Bee Boy, letting us all know that those razor sharp claws and teeth are all just for show. He's really just a big teddy bear. A frightening, exoskeleton-covered teddy bear.

"Come on, I can't be that ugly..."
So then Tempest starts talking about his origin episode known as "Rain of Terror", another episode I'm thinking about doing from this show. Man, this episode is like a menu, giving me so many wacky options to tackle for my very own blog.

His flashback is run-of-the-mill "bad guy uses his powers to commit mass evil" story only, unlike the other villains' stories, his is a lot more deadly. Those bright yellow tighty-whiteys conceal the balls of a villain who loves to slaughter for fun. I mean, look at this screenshot. Those are the tops of skyscrapers floating in that sea of water. Don't try to tell me that countless people didn't die from this.

It took the animators days to edit out all the floating corpses.
And, like all the other flashbacks, The Mask gets the better of him. Only in this one, the frighteningly bald superhero beats him by...sending him down a sewer drain. Wow, that's pretty lame, Tempest, and I'm saying that after I heard The Devil talk about how mad he is over losing a contest. No wonder you have such anger issues.

Well, that, and the fact that you're wearing that outfit. Seriously, man. The little lock of hair in the shape of a lightning bolt just makes it so much worse.

Also, a better name for this episode should be "Spoilers of Evil" because I think it gave away the endings of two whole episodes.

I'm sure the ninja turtles appreciated the spandex-wearing dork falling right on their doorstep.
Back at HQ, Pete finds the ending of the flashback as lame as I did because he laughs at Tempest, causing Robin's evil twin brother to say one of the best lines ever. He approaches the thug, points a glowing finger at the closest orifice, and says "Ever had a lightning bolt shoved up your nose?". The best part of this is that you can replace 'nose' with a body part of your choice.

Tempest is a licensed proctologist.
But wait, the episode's almost over and The Stinger hasn't told his story yet! Luckily, Ben Stein was saving the best character for last and says "It's time to hear from you, Mr. Bee." Uh oh. He just kicked a hornet's nest right there. Bee's nest. Stinger's nest. Whatever.

I like how no one wants to hang out with the repulsive arthropod.
And as predicted, the moment The Stinger hears this, he just completely loses his temper and flies (get it?) into a rant and screams about how his name is "The Stinger", complete with accenting the different syllables like he's speaking to an English learner. I find it funny that the fiercest he gets is when someone calls him a name with the word "bee" in it. Come on, Stinger, it's pretty easy to guess why they would come to that conclusion, what with the whole bee thing going on. Clearly this guy has some issues with identity, and why tackle his fear of The Mask when you can sort out these inner demons, Dr. Neumann?

Fun fact: Not once in the show does he actually use those claws.
But then we hear The Stinger tell his story. What's notable about this flashback is less the episode it came from and more the fact that the episode involved, "To Bee Or Not To Bee", is pretty infamous among fans of the show for being completely unavailable in English online. And since there's no DVD release, this episode is considered missing. You can't see it unless if you saw it during the show's original run or, if you're really desperate, hit up a copy of the episode that's in another language. Currently the only way to hear the English dialogue from To Bee or Not to Bee is to see this small clip in this episode, and man is it infuriating.

It's doubly infuriating for me because, in my opinion, The Stinger's probably the most interesting character in the group. At this point, I really don't have to say why.

Go on. Ask him how he felt about the Wicker Man remake. I dare you.
Since his episode is completely MIA, I'm going to actually discuss his flashback in larger detail. In his episode, after he mutates and finds out pretty quickly that he's going to die of starvation unless if he creates a large enough amount of honey, The Stinger used hybridized monster bees to hypnotize the entire population of Edge City so that they can build a giant honey factory to keep himself alive. The flashback happens to cut to him while he's making a giant speech to his army of zombies. And don't let the word "zombies" mislead you; The Stinger's not a necromancer. It'd be neat if he was, though. He'd call them Zombees.

I will say this. The guy wins props for managing to have a giant villain motive rant that's completely devoid of bee puns even though he's a giant bee. I bet that took a huge amount of willpower on his part.

"My first decree is that we destroy the ones responsible for Bee Movie!"
But then, who else but The Mask shows up. Because this episode has a theme it has to adhere to. Of course, instead of actually fighting The Mask with his, you know, teeth and claws and stinger, The Stinger decides that he's merely going to utilize a gun spewing liquid hot wax to destroy the person trying to shut his beehive down.

Wait...wax gun? Wax gun!? How the hell did he build that? Just because he's a bee scientist doesn't mean he's also a mechanic.

Long story short (man, do I love using that phrase today), the wax gun doesn't work, so then they have a mine cart sequence that invokes Donkey Kong Country flashbacks to the people watching this. And, since The Stinger has a mine cart track that leads to a Dead End for no reason, this somehow leads to a hideous bee monster and The Mask bursting out of a giant beehive while riding a freaking motorcycle. God, I love cartoons.

This deserves to be the cover of a Judas Priest album.
But then the flashback is unfortunately interrupted by something that doesn't normally happen in clip shows; a plot twist. At the very last moment, Pretorius receives a call from his cell phone (they had cell phones back then? Holy crap) and learns that Dr. Neumann is stuck in traffic and will be running a bit late. But wait, if Dr. Neumann is in traffic, then who was here the whole time, listening to several themed villains spill their hearts out?

You know what that means. It's time for the classic Scooby Doo ending!

Come on, you had to have seen this coming.
Alright! With The Mask finally making an appearance in the actual narration, we're really going to see some sparks fly! Maybe this is a two-parter episode, and the ending of this one will then lead into another episode where these villains have control of the town and it's up to The Mask and a gathering of other heroic characters to stop them. It'd be just like Just Us Justice Ducks, only better animated.

As an Animation student, just looking at this perspective makes my drawing hand hurt.
Well, actually, no. Since they didn't receive help from an actual therapist, that means that all of the villains decide to be stupid and attack The Mask one by one and are instantly trounced. Yes, even Satan, the freaking devil, is beaten by The Mask without the hero even breaking a sweat. What a waste. 

So basically the moral is that therapy is all a lie? That's good to know, cartoon.
Also, I love how it looks like The Mask KILLED Pete and Lonnie there.
And that's honestly how this episode ends. After all of that build-up, after all of that therapy in order to heal the bad guys so that they'd be mentally sound enough to take on the green-faced Jim Carrey, after all of those sob stories where they would've won if not for those meddling kids, The Mask just beats them all in less than two minutes. That's how it ends.

There's a word for how disappointing this is, but personally I shouldn't be expecting so much from a clip show. Even if it does contain giant bees.

The Moral of this Cartoon
Villains, even if you try to band together, you're always going to lose to the hero. But don't worry, with a quick little therapy session, you can learn to accept the fact you're always going to fail.

Final Verdict
Is it wrong to say that I love this show?

I mean, yes, I just watched a clip show and I just watched a cartoon that's a movie adaptation. But the character interactions are just so clever that you forget that you're watching the cartoon version of a Jim Carrey vehicle.

And the reason this clip show works for me is because of the parts inbetween the flashbacks. I like that each of the villains have their own separate personalities and bounce off each other in a really fun way. It makes them feel more like people as opposed to targets for the hero to beat up. I sort of have a soft spot where the villains interact with each other and they're not performing some evil scheme but instead hang out just to hang out. It's a plot device that's sadly underused.

It probably helps that this is an episode packed full of recognizable characters from the show but none of them go off-model and the animation is really smooth. This sounds like a weird thing for me to note, but if you ever watched Darkwing Duck's "Just Us Justice Ducks", you can turn the number of times the Fearsome Five go off-model into a drinking game. Especially Bushroot, who likes to lose his entire bone structure on a regular basis in Fearsome Five eps.

The characters interacted with the flashbacks in a way that melded the flashbacks with the new material. These characters are fun, the choice in characters was fun, and really, the only bad part I can say about this episode is that they never teamed up and made an episode where they tried to fight The Mask. Dude, seriously, how cool would that be? The other bad part is that a good number of these characters appear in only two episodes, and this episode is one of them. It's unfair that The Stinger only got one full episode to himself. Such a cool design needed to be used more often.

So yeah, in short, this show is surprisingly good and very well-written. I highly recommend everyone gives it a chance at least once because it's a real hidden gem. You won't regret it.