But judging by both the poll and the pageviews, quite a few people like it when I talk about this show.
Now, when I watched Convention of Evil, this prompted a couple people to ask about the actual episodes in the clip show. And thus, it'd be a smart choice to talk about them.
Course, choosing an episode was hard. My first choice was, of course, The Stinger's episode, but due to language barriers (as of this writing, an English copy still hasn't been located) and the fact that I'll look like a dumbass by trying to talk about a cartoon while muting it, so that was a no go. I'm still waiting for the day that episode crops up online in English, if only because that'll be the day where I can talk about a giant bee man for hours and hours and not be judged by my fellow Americans.
But anyways, I figure I'll go with the second best choice, one that was brought up by friends and e-mails alike, while hanging my head in sadness and wishing this was that glorious, honey-flavored episode. In other words, this is the episode where some Mesopotamian cheese witch attacks a city and turns things into processed food with her laser eyes. Not as cool as some mutant honeybee that forces people to toil in his homemade nectar factory, but you have to admit it's original.
Without further ado...
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Now, normally I'm filled with delight whenever a The Mask episode opens up, because it means that I'm going to view one of my favorite 90's cartoons.
Unfortunately, the very first thought I have of this episode is "Oh god, why is the music so terrible? Quit assaulting my ears, cartoon! Make it stop!". It's hard to describe this abortion of musical notes using only text, but imagine if you will a stoned trumpet player and his suffering tuba friend trying to play light-hearted clown music and failing at making it sound at all comical. Instead of getting happy, humorous music, you get what is basically Annoyance in sound form. This music will drill itself into your ear drum and then hump your brain until you lose a thousand brain cells, it's that bad. It hurts that I'm insulting The Mask right now, but geez, this is the worst possible music choice to open an episode.
And this music, this horrifying mutation of a song, goes on for almost a full minute too. What did I do to deserve this, cartoon?
|"See? The bills have been piling up. You can tell because I helpfully labelled that stack of papers!"|
|Oh, by the way, Stanley has the best pajamas in the history of animation.|
...yeah, you can probably guess the punchline to this setup pretty easily. Even if I did like how, in Stanley's imagination, he goes through that date hungry as well as miserable. Note the number of plates on that table.
|Freud would have a field day with this...|
|She also has a great sense in fashion.|
|The saddest thing is, I can totally buy the idea that Peenman's shot and |
murdered tenants and the cops just never found the bodies.
Jennifer the Perfect and Magical is happy to talk about her job that's miles better than Stanley's job, mentioning how she just got back from a Mesopotamian archeology site. She even got to travel into Gorgonzola's tomb, which has delightful tourist attractions like The Hall of A Thousand Cows. Yep. I'm not making this up. The cartoon really said "The Hall of A Thousand Cows". There's a place in Mesopotamia where they buried a thousand dairy cows to honor a cheese witch.
...yeah, you can tell just when the cartoon just starts traveling down Insanity Road. I like how, up until now, the cartoon was pretty grounded in reality (tenant negotiating with his landlord to skip a month's rent in order to fight the bills that have been piling up) and pretty sitcom-y until it just slaps you in the face with Gorgonzola and cheese witches. It's really surreal, to say the least. Points for using a place besides ancient Egypt, I guess.
|"No offense, Jennifer, but you're making this crap up, aren't you?"|
I like the fact that she's basically wearing an incredibly important and priceless archeological find around her neck as a piece of jewelry. Truly we're dealing with a professional here!
|The Mesopotamians were the true inventors of cartoon cheese!|
|"The inscription also says that anyone who takes this cursed amulet into a city with a crimefighter in it |
is bound to turn into a themed supervillain. I wonder what that means."
|That is one hugeass moon there.|
|"Just don't turn into a horrible monster while I'm gone, sweetie."|
Unfortunately, dairy-themed villains are lacking when it comes to transformation sequences. I was expecting something grandiose, like some sort of cheese explosion that turns our hapless young woman into a hideous witch from four thousand years ago. But instead, Jennifer just stands up and fades into Gorgonzola. She doesn't so much transform as she does just phase into another dimension and have someone else take her place. But I guess I can take what I get from a cartoon that's cheese-themed.
...by the way, when I first saw this scene, I totally pictured the Sailor Moon transformation sequence music in my head. It might be the glowing necklace.
|"Cheese prism power!"|
Just one problem there, Ms. Cheese Lady. The mortals who treated you unfairly? They kind of died four thousand years ago and happen to be on the other side of the globe, where modern day Iraq happens to be. This is a pretty poor excuse to be an asshole to people you don't know just because you were treated unfairly by your sister's subjects. And how the hell can you speak Modern English?
|Apparently Mesopotamia also invented bad eighties hair.|
And yes, she does in fact walk up to random people and just transforms them into cheese merely for existing. I have to wonder if that kills them or freezes them in time, or just how durable the cheese is. Would pushing the cheese man over shatter him completely? Can you break his arm off, therefore making a really gruesome scene when he reverts back to normal? Can you eat this guy? Does policeman cheese have a different taste to it than normal cow and goat cheese? I'm incredibly curious about this superpower, Gorgonzola! Tell me and the rest of the audience!
|"Cheese it! The cops!"|
In fact, it now makes even less sense than it did when it was completely detached from any possible storyline, because now you have to add in the fact that this is the result of a Mesopotamian curse that affected one of Mrs. Peenman's relatives. Jennifer, Mrs. Peenman's niece, is walking around, under the spell of a four thousand year old piece of cartoon cheese trapped in amber, and zapping things with her eyes and turning them into cheese. And this is seriously what she told the other villains.
...waaaait a second. If Jennifer is Gorgonzola, then how was Pretorius able to invite Gorgonzola to the Convention in the first place? Ironically enough, that episode does address the fact that Gorgonzola can only exist at night, but never this problem.
|And yes, I just took a second screen of her shooting cheese lasers out of her eyes because it's just too hilarious.|
|This section of the episode has been brought to you by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Now with spiral noodles!|
And, since I have nowhere else to say this, I'm just going to come out and say that Gorgonzola has one of the weirdest accents I have ever heard in this cartoon. Normally the characters try to sound like they're somewhere on planet Earth, but she's trying to sound like royalty mixed with a cheerleader mixed with a southern belle. I'm not sure how that's supposed to remind me of ancient Mesopotamia.
|This is so going on The Mask's Facebook page.|
|According to the inscription on the amulet, the pier will transform into a park when the moon is in its third quarter.|
...well, that wasn't in Convention of Evil. You'd think she'd have mentioned that in front of the other villains! That would've scored her some major brownie points!
|"Yeah, Pretorius. I basically got rid of your archnemesis, the same one you've |
been fighting for months, in about ten seconds. Jealous?"
...what the hell did I just type!?!
|I'd love to see the look on that animator's face when he heard just what exactly he had to draw...|
And yes. They do in fact use "cut the cheese" somewhere in this episode. I'm glad you asked that question.
|"Ooh, that's very cool, but you know what would be really impressive? |
If you could summon a food that wasn't cheese!"
This scene is also in Convention of Evil, but for such a brief time (she somehow snuck this scene in after Bub showed up through the fireplace) that I just plain didn't say anything about it. I always did find it unfair that Gorgonzola gets two whole flashbacks to herself when that time could've been devoted to The Stinger, aka the patron saint of Awesomeness and Greatness.
|Ah, so that's the band that plays that generic rock music that shows up in every 90's cartoon ever.|
|"My green hair gives me more realistic facial features!"|
But, since I didn't properly talk about him yet, since at this point of time, I haven't covered an episode where he has a major role, so I doubt anyone reading my blog is going to care. I'm just noting him for posterity and possibly to score praise from longtime Mask fans.
|Gorgonzola's kind of overdoing it on the metal bracelets.|
...well that was anti-climatic. The Mask says a great line about New Age music so I'm willing to forgive the writers for writing themselves into a corner, but still.
|"No, anything but Nickelback! That's my one weakness!"|
Cartoon? Aren't you kind of forgetting something? Remember the plot? You can't just show the main character sleeping in his bed and expect me to instantly buy it.
Yep, Stanley wakes up and even has a scene where he talks about that weird dream he had where the entire city was being turned into cheese by "a hideous monster". I don't have to go into too much detail because you know exactly how this scene goes because it appears way too often in both live-action and animation. I always hated these scenes as a kid because, to me, it felt like the biggest lie my cartoons could tell me. This is why I never liked the "Over The Edge" episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Nothing is a bigger cop-out than "oh, it was just a dream, none of that cool or weird stuff happened, everyone go home". If I live through that disappointment every time I get up from bed, then why should I see it in my entertainment?
Incidentally, if Gorgonzola is a hideous monster to Stanley, what does that make The Stinger, Kablamus, Putty Thing, Walter, and Fish Guy? Gorgonzola actually looks pretty good compared to some of the hideous mutants running around this town. Plus her hair has great lift!
|"Man, that was such a weird dream I had! Even though I own The Mask and this kind of stuff happens all the time!"|
|"I am the cheese! I am the best character on the show! I am better than both the salami and the bologna combined!"|
...and yes, considering the fact that the time we saw her run out of the concert is the last we see of her before we cut to Stanley in bed, this basically means that The Mask, instead of following the woman who can turn both living things and giant metal structures into cheese and taking care of business, just stayed in that rock concert and danced the night away while she ruined countless lives with her lactose lasers. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
Oh, and it's during this scene that Stanley finally figures out that Jennifer's amulet is doing strange things and links Jennifer with Gorgonzola. I do love it when I end up figuring out something ten minutes earlier than the main character. It either makes me feel so much smarter or makes the main characters look really stupid.
|Those food commercials get more elaborate every year.|
I have to admire her restraint in this scene too. Not once does she pull out her gun, or even implies that she's carrying one. That's Peenman's way of being generous.
|Her tenant is a human fish bowl.|
While I dwell on this plot point for way too long, Jennifer tells Stanley that for some odd reason, she can't remember anything she did last night. Gee whiz. You know, you'd think an archaeologist would be able to figure this conundrum out. You have a Master's Degree, Jennifer! You figure it out!
|"I don't believe in magic. A lot of superstitious hocus pocus. I'm going after a find of |
incredible historical significance; you're talking about the boogie man."
In other words, we're learning absolutely nothing in this scene. Can't she just turn into The Duchess of Cows already so that we can advance the plot?
Boy, the more I think about this, the more I realize how awkward of a moment this is. I wonder what Stanley thought now that he was invading a supervillain's personal space, one that smells like four thousand year old cheddar, and I wonder what the horse driver thought when one of his customers shapeshifted into the same person that changed half of downtown into stinky, impossibly high, possibly now falling apart cheese statues.
...how long do those cheese statues last? I wonder if that policeman from the beginning of the episode was pecked apart by pigeons and later torn apart by hobos.
|"No thanks. I'm lactose intolerant."|
|And every time she misses Stanley, that dog from Duck Hunt laughs at her.|
Spoiler alert, but no. This is not the end of The Mask. But you already knew that.
|Hey Stanley, say cheese!|
...as you might have already guessed, but this is the episode equivalent of a Salvador Dali painting. But instead of melting clocks, it's melting cheese wedges.
And I wonder how many times the word "cheese" appears in this blog post.
One commercial break later (I like to imagine that, if I watched this when this first aired, I would've seen an N64 ad), and we get one of the weirdest things to save The Mask ever, something that will make you wish that he was saved by his amazing, superintelligent dog. What happens is some kids (including that green-haired kid from earlier) find The Mask on the ground and just happen to get the grand idea to put the mask on a cheese statue.
...yes. Two teenagers walk up to a wooden mask, and then randomly decide, through a very bizarre, unsettling train of thought, to put it on a human statue made out of cheese. This is what saves Stanley. Did the writers just run out of ideas? Because this is the weirdest cop-out I've ever seen in a cartoon.
|Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense. I do this all the time!|
|And the people in the stadium remembered it as the best Halftime show ever.|
Incidentally, and this is a bit late in me pointing this out, but Gorgonzola could make millions upon millions of dollars if she used her ability to conjure food completely out of nowhere to good use. Why get revenge on the mortals when you can use your eye lasers to turn trash into cheese, a vegan-friendly, environmentally-friendly cheese that doesn't need factory farms and suffering cattle might I add, therefore ridding America of our swelling landfills and solving world hunger? You'd be hailed as a saint by everybody!
...no, I guess you're sticking to your revenge plot, Gorgonzola? Fine, be that way.
|"I would turn you into cheese but that would be just a huge waste of my time."|
...at the risk of using a joke that's been done to death, Best. Line. Ever. I'm now going to find a way to use that in everyday conversation, along with "Let's Creepy Crawl!", "Son of a broccoli!", "I hunger for cowabunga!", and "Jawsome!". Pity the people who talk to me, gentle readers. I'm pretty sure I'm just one cheesy catchphrase away from mutating into a cartoon character.
|"Go Green Bay Packers!"|
|Man, Gorgonzola just really likes swiss cheese. Why not cheddar or pepperjack for once?|
Also man, that cowboy just cannot catch a break. What was this show's beef (or should I say cheese) with cattle wranglers? Why do they hate Texas?
|"Yee haw! I'm purty glad I got my shadow back!" *gets turned into cheese*|
Finally, after much humiliation (because it wouldn't be a The Mask episode without The Mask making his enemies hate themselves), The Mask finally uses some reverse psychology and tricks
...just wondering, but why didn't The Mask do this earlier? She's been spamming those lasers in a way that would make Cyclops blush. You can turn her eye lasers into a fantastic drinking game, even. And yet, even though The Mask had plenty of opportunities to go and do this, he has to wait until after she destroys half the city. What a jerk.
...I might as well address the elephant in the room. If Gorgonzola was sealed in her tomb all the way in an ancient tomb in Mesopotamia, how the hell was she able to reappear in Convention of Evil? Part of me figures that Pretorius was just genre-savvy enough to actually travel back to the Mesopotamian tomb and get another host for Gorgonzola (does the host have to be female, or would the transformation work on male bodies too?), but that doesn't excuse the fact that there is now a gaping plot hole in this show's clip show.
Also, the scene where Gorgonzola gets sealed is kind of creepy if you don't expect it. This cartoon is really light-hearted most of the time, and then you get a screaming ghost crying out in agony just completely out of nowhere. It's kind of chilling if you don't expect it, and kind of makes me feel sorry for Gorgonzola, what with the whole eternal suffering in a horrifying afterlife thing she has going on.
|Mesopotamians also invented the Ghostbusters Eco-Containment Unit.|
Course, the cute moment is ruined once The Mask says that now, in his words, he "gets to play hero with Stanley's girlfriend". Ewww! Don't say things like that out loud!
|So if a magically-induced split personality steals your girlfriend, |
does that really count as having your girlfriend stolen?
|Mrs. Peenman is awesome.|
The Moral of this Cartoon
Archaeologists, if there's an inscription on something inside a tomb that mentions transformations and mystical powers, for crying out loud, don't start wearing it like a piece of jewelry.
This episode is kind of in the middle for me as far as how it ranks with the rest of The Mask's episodes.
It's a strong episode, with solid animation, great jokes, and funny moments, but it's not the best. I think part of it is the fact that Gorgonzola really is a one-note villain, especially considering her method of attack is basically spamming lasers all over the place. It's not a terrible episode, and it's actually pretty good as far as my standards go, but I can't see myself watching it again and again, and I can't call myself a Gorgonzola fan. If they played more with the snobby, rude royalty angle like they started to do in Convention of Evil (she was kind of a brat in that episode) and if they gave her a more concrete motivation, maybe she'd be more interesting, but right now, she's just got a gimmick and therefore is hard to use more than once. Which is why it's kind of weird that she was one of the people that appeared in the villain clip show.
So to put it in one sentence, this episode exists. I neither love it or hate it. It's purely in the "I can watch this and get enjoyment out of it but don't actively seek this episode out" realm.
...not much more to say about the episode really other than that. That, and how well you like this episode depends on how long you can take cheese pun after cheese pun and whether you can tolerate cartoon cheese texture.