Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rayman: The Animated Series - Lac-Mac Napping

This might just be the unluckiest series I ever have to do. Reading about what had happened in the production of this show is really sad. This is the kind of show that other shows use as an example, a horror story of shows, but first, let's talk about the videogame this animated series was based off of, Rayman.

Aw yeah, this game rocked.
Rayman is a platformer game series that debuted in 1995 on the Playstation and PC (well, okay, also the Atari Jaguar and the Sega Saturn, but who the hell owned one of those?) and starred a really strange thing named Rayman that was vaguely humanoid and had a bunch of disembodied floating limbs rotating around a purple ball. It was a delightful sugar-coated happy romp full of bright colors, whimsical characters, and ball-crushing difficulty spikes. I've interviewed everyone in the world and I've found out that most people saw the maze full of sharp musical notes in Bongo Hills (or the maze of sharp tacks in Picture City), said "To hell with this", and returned this game and exchanged it with Spyro the Dragon.

The game was good enough to get a sequel, Rayman 2: The Great Escape aka "one of the best platformer games ever" (my main source being my own personal opinion of course). No seriously, play this game because it's fun. Rayman 2 was more manageable in difficulty, but it traded the sugar coating and the bright colors with a darker and edgier atmosphere filled with giant spiders, poisonous swamps, killer robots from outer space, and zombie chickens.

I'm going to stress the zombie chicken part.

The writer of this blog still can't play the Tomb of the Ancients level without breaking down and sobbing.
And the sequel spawned a TV series. A very ill-fated TV series that lasted...wait for it....


Fun fact: Creepy Crawlers the Animated Series is also French. French shows have the worst luck.
Yes, this show lasted four episodes. The entire show is four episodes long. I've seen series pilots that were longer than Rayman's show. I've encountered farts that lasted longer than this. It never even got broadcast in the United States and literally the only evidence of this show in the United States (besides the Internet) was Nintendo Power hinting towards its existence and a VHS that's rarer than the Creepy Crawlers action figures.

It was planned to be a 13 episode season, but lack of funds and presumably poor writing (although that didn't stop Captain Planet) made the producers pull the plug early. Since Rayman isn't exactly the most popular videogame star in most parts of the world (he's popular in French-speaking countries since he's a French creation, but that's about it) and the relative obscurity of the episodes, this show is pretty much unknown.

But I'm going to talk about this show because what the hell, I might as well. I personally love the Rayman games (at least until they decided that they were going to fill the series with minigame collections instead of releasing a goddamn Rayman 4 like we wanted them to), and it'd at least be fun to see how they interpreted it for the small screen.

That being said, boy, am I in for a ride, because this show happened to follow the Sonic Underground line of thinking in that as long as they stick Rayman in an unrelated setting full of unrelated characters that have nothing to do with the original games, it's still a Rayman cartoon. So thus, let's talk about the first episode of this series. Let's find out what happens when you call a show "Rayman" but really make it about this unrelated blue guy in...

Lac-Mac Napping

Airdate: 1999

Availability: On DVD...depending on the territory.

Before we begin, I just want to note the intro. Or, rather, the absolute lack of it. Instead of having some sort of catchy yet lame tune that introduces us to the heroes and the villains, we get...the title card of this episode appearing out of a black void with absolute silence playing on the speakers. Knowing this show's background, this is extremely unsettling. I'm sure if you turn up the volume all the way, you'll hear a Ubi Soft animator committing suicide.

We first wade through the wasted time, the overspent money, and crushed dreams of the show's makers by...viewing some really impressive TV CGI for its time. Okay, definitely a good sign that this 3D animation actually looks remarkable when I was expecting something akin to the Donkey Kong Country TV series. I can now assume the reason why this cartoon blew a 13 episode budget on four and a half episodes (the show was cancelled when a fifth episode was nearly finished) is because they wanted to make their animation look really kickass. Props for that.

Why does this shot invoke 80's synth pop instrumentals in my head?
But maaaybe I should talk about what's actually happening onscreen instead of performing brain surgery on a cartoon no one's heard of. A giant tent titled "Rigatoni" (run by Ringmaster Chef Boyardee) is traveling through the air in the middle of the night while the blissfully unaware city underneath it sleeps. Immediately, this strange French invention has instantly caught my interest because seriously, when everything's said and done, it's a levitating circus that moves like a caterpillar in midair. That's both cool and frightening; I both want it to exist in our world and be glad that it doesn't.

I will note that as the circus levitates on by, powered by its own hatred of the laws of physics, we subtly pass by a two-story building that has a poster stuck to the second floor. Take note of the character in the poster and notice that it's not Rayman, but rather a character invented just for this cartoon. Interesting subversion in that the circus's main attraction is not the main reason I'm watching this, but now I feel sorry that Rayman has to play second fiddle to that thing.

And as soon as Rayman fans saw the blue Jar Jar, their hearts just sank.
The circus hauls anchor, because I guess circuses have anchors now, and lands in a grassy clearing. Nice of the locals to clear a large enough area for space carnies to invade their lovely burg. I wonder how all of that canvas holds up for air travel.

Wasn't this the premise of We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story?
We travel inside of the big top and, the moment we see the actual characters, that's when this show starts to show some age. A giant shadow belonging to Rigatoni the Ringmaster (who, despite his name, has a Brooklyn accent, not an Italian accent) dwarfs several cages filled with poorly rendered creatures of various shapes and sizes while he says in a typical evil carny fashion that he'd better see a good show or else they're not getting fed.

...this seems familiar. I sure hope the plot doesn't involve Rayman falling into another dimension and ending up performing in a circus in a city ruled by a dictator who controls a cylinder-shaped army, or else I'm spending the rest of this review talking about the differences between all the Rayman 2 ports in existence. Because seeing it done with Felix the Cat is enough.

"It's time to face the facts. The makers of the game are going to ignore the fact we exist."
But then, after that short journey into the circus's lax health regulations, the cartoon suddenly takes a turn for the cheerful when we see the circus's entrance crowded with vaguely humanoid bird-like things. This is going to come up quite a few times in this show, but the cities of this world are apparently populated with only one species, with the only different species being the main characters, the freaks that perform in a circus. I always found this kind of weird, because it makes me wonder why there's such an utter lack in diversity in this community when the games were all about weirdly shaped monster men. Is this show really a subtle way of talking about racism and segregation?

...dude, District 9/Rayman crossover. Somebody make it happen.
And then all of those birdmen were horribly disappointed when they found out that
this wasn't an Italian restaurant with a circus theme.
Inside the circus interior, we get a rather unique way of introducing those characters we just saw in the cages in the form of a circus performance. Spotlights dot the stage, an unseen voice (one that doesn't belong to any characters that appear in this entire show, by the way) announces Betina, and a cannon ejaculates possibly the worst character design I have ever seen involving the Rayman brand. Say hello to Betina, even though I'd rather say "goodbye" before loading a shotgun.

Characters that look like they're human but aren't quite always creep me the hell out, and Betina is no exception. With a mouth that's way too wide to be normal and eyes that suck out all that is wholesome and good from any mortal soul, Betina ranks pretty high on my list of animation-related nightmares. The makers say she's human but I consider that a horrible lie.

After creepy humanoid horrorwoman makes her grand debut, she then directs the camera to Flips, whose head has swelled to an enormous size due to a crippling physical deformity. Flips is a tiny fairy that speaks in squeaks (because the creators hate us) and she's actually a really clever reference to a character that appears in a Rayman 2 bonus round, but saying that makes me sound like a huge dork. She's basically the team pet, the one that's supposed to be both cute and cuddly and utterly annoying simultaneously. I imagine in an alternate universe where this show was a hit, she would've been the one with the most merchandise.

Also, why did they give the tightrope-walking stunt to the creature that can naturally fly? That just kills all the suspense this act would've had.

The circus's next act is a fish holding its breath underwater.
And, last but not least, we get the ever-advertised Lac-Mac, and man, does this show really oversell this guy as the most amazing thing ever. Not only was he the only freak advertised on the poster, but he also gets the most applause and the most screentime. I guess he was supposed to be this show's breakout character, but I personally don't buy it. Hype something that's worth it, animators!

...but then again, maybe there's a niche audience for weird blue bucktoothed cockroach/rabbit hybrids that look like something Jim Henson and George Lucas would picture in their acid trips.

What has science done.
Lac-Mac (whose name sounds like a failed laxative/macaroni hybrid) performs some juggling tricks, shoots harmful ball-shaped missiles at the audience, does some shameless showboating, and basically silently pleads to the audience to pay attention to him. He so does not deserve the applause he gets. Instead, he makes me feel really bad for this poor suffering circus and its lack of impressive material. No wonder Rigatoni's resorted to enslaving various exotic races; the performances he pens up for his acts are atrocious. But then again, considering he named the circus just "Rigatoni", I shouldn't be expecting Shakespeare from this carny.

Are those horns? Antennae? Somebody clue me in please.
While Globox's less interesting cousin hogs the spotlight, a curtain is pulled back and we finally get a glimpse of Rigatoni himself and man, my expectations from this guy are already low. The artistic part in me wants to say that he looks like a mutated eggplant crossed with every bad circus stereotype known to man, but really, my mind is too distracted by the fact that his face is mostly chin to say anything constructive. Ironically, despite all of this, he passes more as human than Betina ever did, mostly because my blood doesn't freeze in my arteries when I look into his face.

Anyways, before I got off track, he excitedly pulls the curtains back and congratulates Lac-Mac on a job well done, letting us know that he clearly is playing favorites with his slave performers. Nobody likes that kind of atmosphere in the workplace, Rigatoni.

Way to overdo it on the lipstick too.
While Lac-Mac is bowing, his face falls and we see what else but a robot pirate with a tall Captain Crunch hat and fat striped pants crack a whip at him and order him backstage. Say hello to Razorbeard, the main villain of Rayman 2, and he's embarrassingly reduced to a lackey for Rigatoni.

...yeah, okay, cartoon. This is where it falls apart. I get that you're trying to tie this into the actual videogames, but you seriously telling me that Razorbeard, the leader of a gang of space pirates that enslaved countless worlds and shattered the core of the world, is now playing second fiddle to a circus leader? This is like if Robotnik and Snively switched roles for the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon; it just doesn't work.

And even if you haven't played the games (and I'm writing this with the expectation that not many people have), this setup is incredibly stupid. For one, why the hell is there a robot space pirate in a circus and why the hell isn't he actually performing? Imagine the possibilities of a robot pirate space circus act. How cool would that be?
As you can imagine, this show makes very little sense.
Razorbeard orders the retarded rabbit monster to go backstage, but not before Lac-Mac turns to the crowd and gives one last smile, basking in the exhilaration given to him by their applause. Ah yes, the sweet intoxicating elixir of fame. That's a terrible addiction to have, because soon Lac-Mac will be driven to do crazier and crazier stunts in order to keep exciting his audience and maintaining the high given to him by other people appreciating his work before finally turning to substance abuse. Pray for this poor man.

"The sound of people clapping is the only thing keeping me from killing myself."
After getting one last look at the only people who will truly love him, Lac-Mac glumly walks backstage, suffering from the crash that happens after one maintains an artificial high. He goes into his cage, where inside is our last of our main characters, Cookie. Cookie is a mole (at least several Rayman fansites say he is; he never actually does any digging and the only clue is his sharp toenails) and is the smart, logical, complainer-type guy out of the group. I'm not entirely sure why he was the only one out of all of them not performing but then again, maybe there was an off-screen accident that horrendously crippled him.

"The doctor just called. He said it's malignant."
Blue Showstealer climbs into the cage and, since Razorbeard is a dick, Razorbeard decides he's going to inflict physical pain on his boss's most valuable circus stars by spinning the cage at an incredibly fast speed. Because he's evil, which exempts him from using any logic. I sure hope Rigatoni gave that pirate hell for messing with the performer pulling the most attendance.

It is here that we hear Lac-Mac finally speak. While the cage spins in near darkness, painting a very dark picture, he drones out a "Lac-Mac SAAAD". Oh great, a character that can't use pronouns. Those are always fun. His situation, his imprisonment and subsequent performances against his will would be more depressing if he didn't sound like the Cookie Monster.

"Lac-Mac crawling in Lac-Mac's skin!"
After that display, Betina and her ugly, ill-proportioned face decide to flap her terribly malformed lips and start complaining about how everyone is treated and how the people should know about what goes on behind the scenes, because society should not stand by idly and let them suffer! Betina clearly envisions herself as a prime muckraker, one that will soon write the circus version of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. She's kind of person who would let everyone in this room know about her political opinions and how much she's into social justice.

In conclusion, I'm sure the others have quickly adapted and learned how to tune out her voice.

Did Rigatoni shove her head in a trash compactor before letting her perform? Seriously, what is up with that face...
Before I could brush aside her tirade and pray for Rayman to please show up, pretty please, she does bring up a really good and logical point. If Flips can fit through the bars, why doesn't she just fly away? But it turns out the fairy won't leave because the rest of the prisoners are her friends and all they have is each other. Aww...that's so-

...wait, did they know each other before they were captured, or did they meet in the circus? Seriously, what's their backstory? Such a colorful group of characters has to have some sort of a wacky story detailing how they first met. I'm picturing things like illegal drug dealing, ties to an underground mafia, a revolutionary war, Cookie hijacking a boat and meeting Lac-Mac stowed away in the cargo, and Betina really being the lost princess of Atlantis.

And if none of that made any sense, then welcome to world of Rayman. The last level of the first game is made out of cake, the scariest enemies are undead chickens, and you fight a giant saxophone.

No, Flips! Don't stare directly into her eyes!
 But after that, we finally get to hear Razorbeard speak and, at the same time, we learn the reason why he didn't speak until just now because his voice is such a letdown. With a robot, you're expecting something garbled and slightly mechanical, but instead he's got a high pitched Brooklyn voice. Why are all the villains sporting Brooklyn accents? Do the writers have something against New York? Nice use of tying everybody together, but still...

Oh, and fun fact here. Razorbeard and Cookie are voiced by the same guy; Carlos Alazraqui, aka the voice of Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life. Great voice actor, but here, he doesn't even try to disguise the fact that he's voicing the same two people. Razorbeard and Cookie sound almost identical, just with Razorbeard sounding slightly more pissed off. Even running Razorbeard's voice through a robot voice filter would've saved this.
I like how Razorbeard wears a pair of pants to hide his enormous ass, and yet can't be bothered with shirts.
Anyways, Razorbeard is confronting his boss and telling him that he's unable to teach the newest attraction any tricks on account he won't listen to him, thanks to Razorbeard not having enough badges to make sure he obeys him. Finally, Rayman shows up in his own show, and we learn that they want to build a new act around Rayman's "detachable" hands. I don't know if they should use that word, because the word "detachable" implies that they were really attached to something in the first place.

"Sir, may I suggest we get a more recognizable videogame star like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pac-Man for our act?"
Rayman opens his mouth, and...

...oh my god. Billy West's voice comes out of Rayman. Dude, Rayman. He sounds exactly like Fry from Futurama. Rayman is Fry. Fry is Rayman.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to need a moment to let this sink in.

"No, Rayman, I don't want to see your fryhole."
To sum up the following scene (since that's what this blog is for), Razorbeard tries to teach an old platform game hero new tricks and fails miserably at it since Philip J. Fry is sort of a jerk and frowns on his instructions with utter contempt. Oh that Rayman, disrespecting all the more mundane creatures that require muscles and skeletal structures in which to propel their limbs. If Razorbeard still needs elbows in order to move his hands, then Rayman has nothing to say to him.

Also, even though Razorbeard's name is, well, Razorbeard, that thing on his face is really a mouth piece shaped like a beard. This really is a strange universe that they live in.

"Bite my shiny metal ass!"
"Doesn't look so shiny to me."
"Shinier than yours, meatbag!"
Since Razorbeard absolutely sucks at his job (since he was trained in piracy, not circus operation), Rigatoni decides to step in and teach this mystical freak of nature some lessons in respecting his authority. Either Rayman performs or it's "the circus dungeon" for him. What is the circus dungeon? Apparently it's a dismal, hellish place where people go in but they never leave, indicating that it's less of a dungeon and more of an oubliette, a convenient place for Rigatoni to forget his failures until all the flesh rots off their bones. If that's the case, then why couldn't Rigatoni think of a better name than "the circus dungeon"? The circus dungeon just doesn't convey the kind of fear I would expect to radiate from such a ghoulish place.

I would love it if Rayman detached his head, just to freak out Rigatoni.
After that discussion at the circus's human relations office concludes, Rayman is thrown backstage and shoved into a cell where, quite honestly, he can escape pretty easily from. Rayman's essentially a bunch of floating body parts that can still inexplicably function; any place he can shove his head through, he can escape. I mean, wasn't his whole performance going to be based on how he can detach his limbs and make them go anywhere he wants? Why is he just sitting there and taking this?

Oh, and he was placed in Betina's cell. I feel like that's cruel and unusual punishment.

"Look, just because you put me in the same cage as her doesn't mean she's going to be my
romantic interest. Not gonna happen!"
Luckily, Rayman is enough of a gentleman to stay put, because Rigatoni has to go to one of the cells and congratulate Lac-Mac on a job well done. While he talks to his big, mentally handicapped star, Rigatoni offers possibly the only glimpse we're ever going to get into his background by saying that he finally has respect and power, and gone are the days where he was a merciless hired thug. I hate it when cartoons offer only a small scrap of what is probably a meaty backstory, because it just leaves me begging for more. Tell me more, Rigatoni! I'll even forgive you for being named after pasta.

Unfortunately, before we can see anymore on Rigatoni's rich and dark history, he once again buries the skeletons in his closet and starts sucking up to his star, asking him if he can get him anything. Lac-Mac then decides to test his boss's patience by asking if he could go free. Uh oh.   

"Holy crap, man. Chill out."
Rigatoni gets angry, reasserts his position as the man in charge, and all-around the scene concludes with him walking away and saying that they're pulling up anchor and moving away from this city before the cops can make a connection between the missing people and the performers at his circus. Wait, his circus is only in cities for one day? That's not a very smart way to make revenue.

But before this carnival of terrors can fly away to parts unknown, Rigatoni decides to pull a really scary face while laughing evilly at the people pulling in the big bucks for him. I guess it isn't a Rayman production without some unadulterated nightmares.
Well, there goes my ability to sleep tonight...
After the villains leave, the tent starts to gently rise into a sky like a thick cloud of carnival food grease. Alone to their own devices, all of the caged freaks start plotting their escape. But there's just one problem; the circus leader relies on ancient medieval technology for his cages and yet has stage of the art security cameras watching them. You can't cut corners in some places, Rigatoni.

And, at the risk of gushing too much about this show, I really like this shot. They really used their textures to the fullest and made it look like a really dismal place. What seals the deal is the empty cage (possibly because the occupants are literally rotting away in the circus dungeon) and the broken Rigatoni sign in the very back.

...although now I'm wondering what they do if they need to use the bathroom if they're in those cramped cells.
If I was in those cages, I'd try to swing my cage into the cage next to me. Just to be an asshole.
Since they pointed out the security cameras, we of course have to see Rigatoni watching the security cameras, and this is where this cartoon gets disturbing. After viewing Lac-Mac's sorrow over the TV, Rigatoni starts talking to himself about how great Lac-Mac is, going on and on about how funny and talented the giant blue moron is because he can juggle some balls and hop around. This, combined with his previous scenes with Lac-Mac, make Rigatoni look like a major Lac-Macophile if you catch my drift. Considering how depressed and mopey the giant rabbitroach is when he's not hiding behind a false smile, I can't help but wonder what sort of sexual harassment is occurring behind the scenes.

Also, where did Rigatoni get all of these television sets? I can excuse the flying circus since it's, well, Rayman, but this just seems like a waste.
"Hooray! I wasted tons of money on a wall of TVs when I only have one security camera! I'm a genius!"
Also, when we get a really big close-up on Rigatoni's face for no reason at all, we see that his mustache is actually a shade of red. Odd.
He also has a very interestingly-shaped five o' clock shadow.
Back to the cages. The mole gives up after about 20 seconds and then decides to start practicing with Lac-Mac on their latest trick; bending solid steel bars so that they look like animals using his super strength. Just stop and dwell on this, possibly while looking at what's holding up those cages, and you can see why Lac-Mac isn't exactly the brightest crayon in the box.

"Here. Please drive this through my skull. I grow tired of living."
Sure enough, the characters figure this out while shouting "Lac-Mac strong? Lac-Mac strong!" in unison while looking like total idiots. Or, in Betina's case, incredibly scary. Any second now, she's going to rip Rayman's skin off of his body like wrapping paper and then consume his soul. She looks more like something that would crawl out of your television set and murder you after viewing a cursed videotape rather than a protagonist.

...maybe THIS is why the show only had four episodes. Betina killed everyone responsible for her birth.

And then, Rayman stars in a Great Escape, instantly invoking memories of a fantastic game of my childhood. On Rayman's orders, Lac-Mac bends the bars to both cages, and then Flips distracts the cameras, Rayman hands Razorbeard his much-needed comeuppance, Cookie provides a sharp enough instrument to cut through the tent canvas, and Betina...opens her mouth really wide and looks really, really creepy. Eh, there's always one person in every group project that doesn't contribute anything. Despite that, you couldn't ask for more in a scene unless if Elvis teleported in this world and started performing "Love Me Tender".

Also, as someone who died countless times fighting Razorbeard in the N64 game, seeing Rayman just shove Razorbeard in a cage and be done with him is downright disappointing.

Really, Razorbeard. You're going to fight your archnemesis with a flyswatter.
I've heard of Villain Decay but this is ridiculous...
Rayman, no doubt questioning in his mind why Razorbeard was so easy to defeat in this show when his boss battle took almost 20 minutes in the games, cuts a hole in the tent's canvas, providing their escape route. It took me at least three watchthroughs to actually get this, but when Rayman creates a giant hole in the tent, that causes the tent to start losing oxygen and it starts rapidly descending on a collision course. The first time I watched this, I thought that somehow them escaping caused the whole circus to fall apart, sort of like how in videogames, when you beat a boss, sometimes the whole dungeon will collapse.

I also kind of love how everyone kind of lingers in front of the hole, most of them adopting a questioning look as Rayman seriously suggests that they jump. Fun times.
"Lac-Mac seriously doubting Lac-Mac's chances of survival by jumping out of flying circus."
While the tent is losing gravity, Rigatoni learns that apparently Rayman convinced them all to escape and blames it all on him. You know, even though Betina had a huge scene earlier where she was just dying to escape too, so I'm not sure why Razorbeard is giving Philip J. Fry all of the credit. It was really only a matter of time.

Also, Rigatoni decides to be creepy by shouting "Where is my Lac-Mac! I want my Lac-Mac!". Ha ha, eww. He really needs a girlfriend.
"Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on..."
While Rigatoni lets us know about his repressed sexual urges, the horribly deformed gang decides to jump out of the gaping hole, even though it looks like they're still hundreds of feet in the air. I bet the only people that survived were Flips and Rayman, while Cookie, Betina, and Lac-Mac broke every bone in their body and died instantly from the impact.

I also want to point out that, in all three of the main Rayman titles, Rayman can slow his descent by turning his earhair into a helicopter. Not once do they do this in this cartoon. For some reason, this pisses me off.

"On my signal, everyone grab onto Flips while Flips flies us to safety!"
But Rigatoni has one last trick up his sleeve. While his circus is crashing all around him and his ex-lover fleeing the coop, he makes a very important phone call, one that will set the stage for the entire short-lived show. He can't get the Chief of Police, but he gets the next best thing. He then orders the poor schlub on the other line to track his actors down, and he doesn't care what it takes as long as he gets his star act back. Aw yeah, we have ourselves a plot!

I like how he addresses himself as "The Great Rigatoni" over the phone, by the way. Uh, you were only in that city for one night, Rigatoni. You can't really call the shots.
"Goddamn Verizon, putting me on hold for 30 minutes..."
Who gets put on the case? None other than the actual villain in this show, or at least the villain that appears in more episodes than Rigatoni and Razorbeard. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, meet Detective Grub. He's basically the representative of the police force in this show, the misguided detective who thinks that the heroes are on the wrong side of the law when there's really something more. He's not quite a bad guy, but he's still antagonistic to the hero group on account he has a job he needs to do and he needs to pay for his utility bills just like everyone else. His little hat is adorable too.

I also like how this scene is set up. He receives the phone call and then runs out of the office, never to be seen in this episode again. It's quick, it establishes a character, and boom, he's out of the door. Great pacing. Just wish his office didn't look so much like the interior of an abandoned submarine.

I bet he likes all of his friends to address him as Marshal Sam McCloud.
Rigatoni vows his revenge on Rayman, even doing the whole "clench fist and scream at the camera" bit that villains just love to do in these shows, and then we get to see the deflated circus plow into a tree and fall into a lifeless heap. Since this is the last we ever see of Rigatoni and Razorbeard for the rest of this short-lived series, it's reasonable to assume that both ringmaster and weirdly shaped pirate robot died in this horrific crash that definitely appeared in all of the major newspapers. Good old-fashioned children's entertainment!

They didn't die instantly either. They suffered for days underneath several tons of broken beams
before dying of exposure.
We cut to morning and we find our ugly-looking protagonists miraculously in one piece even though they jumped out of a moving aircraft without anything to cushion their fall. I guess lifeforms are built with tougher stuff in this world.

And okay, I actually really like this scene. This is impressive work for a CGI TV show made in 1999. The lighting and the layout is really great and it personally kills me that great shots such as this are buried in a show that 98% of the world will probably never see. This is the Beyond Good and Evil of cartoons, which is ironic, considering both this show and that game were made by the same company.

The group led by the Planet Express delivery boy sort of aimlessly wanders through the city outskirts, discussing on what they should do in order to avoid getting captured by Rigatoni again. I love how none of them are worried that someone might recognize Lac-Mac even though his derpy face is plastered on every flat surface in the city and the entire police force is now looking for him. I thought he was a big star, guys! Could you be a little bit more discreet?
"Just so we're all clear, the first person who tries to sing "We're Off to See the Wizard" is going
to get stabbed in the eye."
But anyways, they need some transportation and fast, since it's only a matter of time until Rigatoni reconstructs all of his broken bones using nothing but pure hatred and gets his flying circus up and running again.

Enter a city resident with a broken down car. Convenient of him to have a broken down car right in front of that big spooky forest just so hikers can walk up to him and demand it from him, but there you go.

And, since I have no where else to put this, I've come up with two theories on what species these creatures, these strange beasts that populate this city, are. One theory is that, with the big noses and everything, they're sort of an offshoot species of Rayman's species and, since they have limbs, they're far more common and far less magical. The other theory is that they're the living versions of the zombie chickens that plague both every haunted area in all of the Rayman games and my nightmares, because that would explain why the games have a million zombie chickens when there's a million of these nondescript grey avians.

...aww, I just made myself feel bad, because I'm inferring that this city ends up getting wiped out and I end up killing these guys in my videogames.
"Don't ask me why my car looks like a giant hunk of cheese. It's paid for!"
But before I got sidetracked, Cookie finally proves his worth to the team by fixing the man's broken down hunk of junk, providing the circus escapees with a getaway vehicle. With engines a-roaring and that weird bird mechanic looking like he's about ready to slit his wrists (according to him, he was working on getting that car fixed for ten years and Cookie fixes it in a couple seconds), Rayman thanks him for the car and happily drives away.

In short, Rayman, with his delightful Billy West voice, is committing grand theft auto. I don't care if the mechanic expressed the intent to abandon (he said that anyone that can fix this doomed project can keep it out of frustration); that strange wood car is not his to take.

I'm sure that mechanic isn't going to call Detective Grub and send him on your way, right?
And that's how this episode, the beginning of one of the most tragic pieces of animation, ends. With Rayman stealing a car and driving off into the sunset. I sure hope that whoever worked on this at least got put on other, more successful projects because I can't help but feel sorry for everyone involved.

The Moral of this Cartoon
To be a famous ringleader, you have to kidnap rare and exotic animals and make them as miserable as possible while keeping them in basic, run-of-the-mill steel cages. After all, who runs a circus legally? Failures, that's what!

Final Verdict
When I watch this, I see a show that had the potential of being really good.

I think it's a real shame that this show only lasted four 11 minute episodes, because from what I've seen in this series opening, I'm actually interested in what happens next. Everything seems to lead into another, this looks like a show that would've had a strong sense of continuity, and I cared for what happened to the characters.

The strongest point for this show was definitely the animation. It's hard to see in stills, but this cartoon looked and moved better than Jimmy Neutron, a show that came out three years later. They actually knew what they were doing and I applaud them for it. CGI as a medium gets hounded a lot for not looking as nice as 2D, but this has a really nice atmosphere to it. This cartoon wouldn't have been as effective as 2D, so it did its job well.

I think the only problems are really Betina and Razorbeard. To me, Betina just feels like she didn't do much of anything other than give a speech that could've been uttered by our main star. Razorbeard, it's really odd seeing him as such a lowly servant character when in the videogames he was pretty much plundering and enslaving an entire population of people. He wrecked an entire planet and creating a huge cataclysm that weakened the god of the world. Seeing him go from that to cracking whips at giant lizard bunnies is just off-putting.

Also Rayman should've been more important in this show. It felt like the plot was mostly about Lac-Mac with Rayman just kind of showing up and giving everybody more confidence.

Other than Rayman not being important enough in his own show, an odd usage of Rayman 2's main villain, and an ugly character model, this show wasn't bad. I would watch this again, and it's nice to give an example of 90's TV CGI that doesn't make you want to gouge your eyes out.

Just man, Betina is probably going to replace the zombie chickens in my nightmares.

...okay, maybe not. Excuse me, I'm going to have a good long cry now...