Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Mask: The Animated Series - Mask Au Gratin

Sorry this is so late, but in the long run, my finals and visiting my family are probably more important than my blog. Plus I needed the small break. After consistently posting really huge posts every three to five days, a small vacation was imminent.

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...

Mask Au Gratin


Availability: Online Only

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!"
I almost missed what was going on since I was so distracted by the background music practically drowning out the dialogue. Stanley is five days late on the rent, but Mrs. Peenman (his cranky old lady landlord who's really quite awesome in her eternal grouchiness) is willing to cut him a deal. Her niece Jennifer is in town, and if Stanley takes her out, shows her around town, and she has a good time, Stanley gets to skip this month's rent. If Stanley doesn't take her niece out, Peenman will throw his ass out on the streets. And she says that while displaying a realistic gun (it's a paintball gun, but come on, look at that thing!) in a holster. You know, just like every landlord in a major city, especially one filled with supervillains.

Oh, by the way, Stanley has the best pajamas in the history of animation.
Even though this deal really sounds too good to be true, because seriously, skipping a month's rent to take someone out sounds alright to me, Stanley still dreads the thought, because he imagines her niece to be exactly like her and even Stanley has his standards. We even get to see into the depraved depths of Stanley's mind, just so the slower members of the audience will get that this would be a terrible situation, dating someone related to Peenman. There's no way she could be anything other than the spitting image of that person he hates!

...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...
So at four pm, Jennifer shows up, and well what do you know, despite being related to his old, ugly, grouchy landlord that he hates, Jennifer is young, smoking hot, and nice and he immediately falls head over heels for her. Color me surprised. This cartoon moment has been brought to you by Situational Irony.

She also has a great sense in fashion.
I do love Mrs. Peenman in this scene, even if that dreaded clown music (that's apparently her theme song, which just feels unnecessarily cruel to this character) rears its ugly head again once she's onscreen. She basically hints to Stanley that if he does anything to her niece (I'll let your dirty minds do the rest), she's going to blow his head off with the shotgun she carries with her at all times. Mrs. Peenman sure likes to exercise her Second Amendment right to bear arms, especially when it comes to scaring the crap out of her tenants.

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.
One screen transition later and they're at a fancy restaurant (and how can Stanley afford a fancy restaurant if he's behind on both bills and the rent, hmm?), with Stanley saying that he's never met an archaeologist before. So let me get this straight. Mrs. Peenman's niece is hot, funny, nice, and incredibly smart too? Geez, I bet she can also walk on water and set the VCR too.

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?"
But then things take a turn for the supernatural when Jennifer mentions that she removed Gorgonzola's amulet from her tomb, a relic that hasn't been seen in over four thousand years. Gorgonzola was basically the evil half sister of Parmensanu, the greatest dairy farmer of Mesopotamia, and went mad and vowed revenge. You know, basic stuff that happens in ancient cultures whenever archaeology is involved in a cartoon. And man, dairy was serious freaking business back then. Good cheese comes from happy cows, but head-explodingly amazing cheese comes from Mesopotamia.

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!
Just to make things even better, there's even an inscription on the amulet that says that whoever removes the necklace from the tomb will have a curse placed upon them. Because, you know, archaeology and tomb raiding in a cartoon will always lead to a curse, guaranteed. Jennifer even, while not once feeling worried about this (because she likes to offend the spirits of the dead in her spare time), says that the inscription mentions a transformation will occur when the moon is in its third quarter. She just blows this off because, after all, transformations and curses are just superstitious mumbo-jumbo, she says, while talking to the man with a superpowerful mask.
"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."
With that awkward dinner conversation over, we find that Stanley and Jennifer are out walking in a beautiful park near a pier while the background music takes on a pre-transformation vibe. Can't really put it into text, but you know what I'm talking about. Pre-transformation music is as much of a staple to wereanything plots as a moon set against parting clouds. And, just to seal the deal, we even get to see the sky go through a miraculous transformation of it's own, because it transforms from the sun setting to pitch black darkness before our very eyes! Smooth transition, guys!

That is one hugeass moon there.
As expected, Jennifer feels all light-headed and all pre-transformy (shut up, Spellcheck, that is so a word!) and Stanley, not at all genre-savvy to transformations even though he freaking owns The Mask, something that invokes powerful transformations, decides to run off to the convenience store to get her some water, leaving her all by herself. Hey, sure, that makes total sense. Just don't act too surprised when Jennifer turns in Gorgonzola during your absence, Stanley.

"Just don't turn into a horrible monster while I'm gone, sweetie."
And thus, Gorgonzola returns in all of her lactose-filled glory! Those allergic to cheese-related puns might want to leave the room for the rest of the episode, because things are about to get cheesy in more ways than one.

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. 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!"
The moment Gorgonzola returns from the grave, she throws her hands up in the air like she just don't care and shouts out that she's going to take revenge on the mortals who treated her unfairly. Only she said it with more cheese similes. One of Gorgonzola's powers is being unable to open her mouth without saying something dairy-related. A common problem with themed supervillains in 90's cartoon shows. 

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.
But who am I kidding. I'm watching a woman with yellow skin and hideous eye shadow use lasers to turn people into giant cheese statues. Clearly common sense fled the building screaming at least six minutes ago.

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!"
Meanwhile, Stanley returns and finds that Jennifer not around (no duh, Stanley, she's kind of wearing a mythical amulet that invokes transformations), while Gorgonzola decides to change the bridge into cheese in the part I like to call "The Section of This Cartoon That Appeared in the Convention of Evil Clip Show". I love how, even when you've seen what lead to this, this scene still makes absolutely no sense.

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.
If you were familiar with the Convention of Evil episode (which I'm going to helpfully link here), you should be all too familiar with this part. Reporters just appear out of nowhere (and really, even with the extra set-up, you see them just magically walk into the episode) and casually report the cheesified bridge like this is an everyday occurrence, The Mask shows up and is insulted by someone saying that a cheese witch is bigger news than him, and then promptly decides that he's going to fight this strange creature that showed up in his town. But first he has to save everyone on the bridge because there are cameras recording his actions and he doesn't want his callous actions to make their way onto the Internet.
This section of the episode has been brought to you by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Now with spiral noodles!
So The Mask does what he does best with Ms. Wisconsin (aka, be annoying and hope that Gorgonzola just gives up being evil in the face of therapy and nails on a chalkboard) while I get the oddest sense of deja vu. I realize Convention of Evil comes after this episode, but considering I've watched Convention of Evil dozens of times, seeing this scene again is just weird. Somehow this scene just doesn't have the same punch without the notion that Gorgonzola isn't later recounting this in front of Ben Stein and Tim Curry.

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.
While this scene continues on its merry way, the background artists made a fantastically huge goof when the cartoon fades into commercial. After The Mask annoys The Wicked Witch of The Cheese for long enough, she shoots an eye laser (which is going to be her main method of attack, so I sure hope you like lasers), and it fades into black. Typical behavior for a superhero cartoon, but before the commercial, they're on the dock, and after the commercial, they've somehow made it into the park even though both characters were supposed to be standing still. I have no idea how they can make a mistake like this.
According to the inscription on the amulet, the pier will transform into a park when the moon is in its third quarter.
But then, while the backgrounds go through a mythical transformation of their own, Gorgonzola manages to turn The Mask into cheese.

...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?"
But then, it turns out that The Mask can just break out of his cheese prison very easily (almost as if it was made out of cheese, even!), which shocks Glinda Gorgonzola, but she gets over it pretty quickly, turns a bus into cheese, and then orders the cheese bus to run over The Mask. Because she has command over all forms of cheese, including giant bus-sized cheese wedges on wheels.


...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...
Now, as you can imagine, this is basically 80% of the episode. Gorgonzola uses cheese powers, The Mask overcomes them, and while this is going on, both of them spew cheese puns. Cheese cheese cheese. It's a pretty standard formula they adhere to, considering The Mask encounters the villain pretty early in the episode. You'd think this would get old (and in a way, it kind of does), but the sheer volume of different cheese obstacles and jokes is just astounding in this episode. Really, I think what makes this episode unique is the fact that the writers and the animators were able to come up with so many different cheese and dairy puns. With Darkwing Duck, they end up reusing the same jokes about electricity and plants. With The Mask, each dairy pun is brand new and the magnitude of it is almost breathtaking to behold.

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!"
Somewhere along the way, Gorgonzola just has about enough with their vaudeville act involving food that gives my uncle stomach trouble, so she uses some string cheese to fling The Mask into a rock concert. Not sure how we went from cheese to Generation Xers having a mosh pit, but hey, I'll take this change of scenery. That inexplicable park (remember, they used to be standing on a pier before they magically teleported into a different set piece) was getting kind of boring.

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.
Oh those wacky teenagers and their rock music, because when The Mask flies into the building completely unannounced and completely defying all the laws of physics, all he gets is some kid in green hair, who's drawn in a different style to the rest of his friends (I love how the shape of his eyes just does not match with anyone else in his group), saying that his green face is totally "happenin'" while infringing on Siskel and Ebert's copyright. Because this is the 90's. Gratuitous use of slang was considered far out back then.
"My green hair gives me more realistic facial features!"
Cheese lady stomps in, starts tossing The Mask around (she's pretty strong for someone who spent the last four thousand years buried underground), and, for a very brief moment, we get a cameo from one of the cartoon's main villains, Walter. Walter's one of those characters that makes a ton of background cameos in this series' run, probably because the animators loved throwing a silent, Frankenstein-esque character into the most random spot for some unforeseen reason.

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.
She tosses our hero around, we get some more lame puns, and this scene ends with...Gorgonzola just randomly running out of the building because she can't stand rock music and it hurts her ears.

...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!"
But then, we get one of the weirdest transitions ever. It turns out that problem with Gorgonzola just kind of stops, because when we leave the rock concert, instead of seeing anymore of either our main hero or our main villain, we get Stanley in bed, sleeping.

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!"
Oh, but the twist is that it was real, because Stanley went to sleep with a giant cartoon cheese wedge, which he somehow didn't crush while he slept. I like how the camera even has to zoom in on the cheese wedge, as if the viewers couldn't get it the first time. Dun dun dunnnn...

"I am the cheese! I am the best character on the show! I am better than both the salami and the bologna combined!"
Frightened, Stanley turns on his TV and helpfully finds a recap of what Gorgonzola did that night. Turns out that she's turned entire buildings into cheese. I have to wonder if that turned everything including the people in the building into cheese, or if we got people falling to their deaths after falling through twenty floors, since cheese couldn't support their weight. And I wonder what building cheese tastes like.

...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.
But he can't dwell on this shocking plot twist for too long, because Mrs. Peenman shows up (along with that hideous, godforsaken trumpet and tuba music, god I hate that song so much) and tells Stanley that he has to go on yet another date with Jennifer because she likes him. Only this time, they're going to the park and later the football game, because that way, Peenman can keep a better eye on them and watch them the way a vulture eyes a flattened rabbit on a busy highway. Like the vulture waiting for the cars to pass on by so it can snack on rotten intestines, Peenman is just waiting for the chance to see Stanley slip up so that he can start packing and leave her building for good.

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.
So once again, we're with Stanley near a horse-drawn carriage at nightfall, leaving us to assume that absolutely nothing happened between 7 am (the time his alarm clock woke him up) and sundown. You know, even though the television clearly said that Gorgonzola turned half of downtown into cheese, that somehow did not affect Stanley's workday one bit. So you mean to tell me that no one on the streets was panicking that they just lost their workplace and they can't even go near it on account they're vegans? No?

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."
But before Stanley can tell her that she's turning into a cheese monster and wrecking havoc on his fair city (although I'm not sure how you'd bring that up politely in casual conversation), she drops the subject and gets to talking about her amulet while they have a nice horse-powered ride. It turns out that in the light of the third quarter moon, the bearer of the amulet transforms into a monster with awesome destructive dairy-related powers. No, really?

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?
Pictured: Archaeology.
Of course, we quickly get just that, with Jennifer mentioning that she feels really drowsy and transforming right in Stanley's lap. And that sounds way sexier than what the cartoon had.

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. 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."
Since Elphaba Gorgonzola wisely figured out that Stanley was trying to remove her amulet, aka the source of her power, we then get a great scene where Stanley runs out of the carriage and has to dodge cheesifying eye lasers in a park. I love this scene because of two things. One, it reminds me a lot of that shooting minigame from The Oregon Trail (aka a game I could never win because everyone in my group would either ford a giant river and drown, or die of dysentery), instantly making it awesome. Two, it creates a phenomenon called Tree Cheese. Tree cheese is just awesome. Now I can't help but wonder if tree cheese is vegan friendly, considering it's a plant and no animals were harmed in the making of it, save for whatever unlucky squirrels happened to be on the trunk at the time.

And every time she misses Stanley, that dog from Duck Hunt laughs at her.
Suddenly, disaster befalls our poor hero, for he is transformed into a cheese statue moments before he can put on the mask. Like many moments in this show, Stanley is usually caught by the main villain and rendered completely helpless before he can transform into the invincible superhero we know and love, in an attempt to drum up some suspense in the cartoon. Nine times out of ten, Milo or Peggy ends up saving him, but this episode in particular was kind enough to not have that happen. We even get to see the mask dramatically fall onto the grassy lawn, a perfect set up for our next commercial break. Could this be the end of our Masked Wonder?

Spoiler alert, but no. This is not the end of The Mask. But you already knew that.
Hey Stanley, say cheese!
But before we actually see some commercials, Gorgonzola loots Stanley, like any good World of Warcraft player that discovers a fallen corpse would, and finds tickets to the football stadium. She then gets an idea for her next evil scheme, because apparently, up until now, she was just going to wander around aimlessly and turning things to cheese with her eyes. I like how this villainess just plain doesn't have a set goal in mind beyond "make humanity miserable because my sister was mean to me four thousand years ago". Her only motivation is hatred for her people who don't have cheese laser eyes. 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!
With that strange string of coincidences bringing The Mask back into the game, we can finally get into this cheesy calcium-rich climax. At a football stadium. Apparently human beings wrote this script, but at this point, I'm having trouble believing that. No mortal hands touched this episode, I'm sure.

And the people in the stadium remembered it as the best Halftime show ever.
I do love how oddly polite Gorgonzola is when she enters the stadium with her stolen tickets. She just hands the man his tickets and walks right in. No cheese eye lasers (which, now that I think about it, would give you one hell of an eye infection) or anything. Her face when she does it just totally sells the scene too, like she's seriously considering reducing his body to processed fat and calcium but then deciding against it.

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!, 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."
But don't worry, Gorgonzola totally flips her gourd and just makes her way onto the jumbotron and saying the defining quote that's the reason why this episode exists. With a cackle and with hair that would make Jem jealous, she shouts "The last thing you'll ever smell is the sweet stench of my revenge!" 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!"
So she starts making quick work of the entire stadium by zapping fans, football players, and hot dog vendors alike into cheese. You know the drill, people. At the point, you can just assume she's using her cheese lasers, because Gorgonzola can never think outside the box and do something unique with her powers. Mesopotamian witches are not known for their massive creativity, but hey, if the weapon's reliable and has never failed her so far, then by all means.

Man, Gorgonzola just really likes swiss cheese. Why not cheddar or pepperjack for once?
Also, cameo alert. The hot dog seller is the exact same guy who got his shadow stolen in Shadow of a Skillit. Nothing tickles my heart more than a cartoon that has a very stable sense of continuity, one where you can watch even the minor background characters and get a sense of their day-to-day lives.

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*
Of course, The Mask shows up and we get a frighteningly weird scene where The Mask treats Gorgonzola like a football (yeah, I don't know either, but the cartoon's almost over), because a football stadium can't exist in a 90's cartoon without the ever popular football form of cartoon violence. Without going too much into detail, slapstick ensues, touchdown dances are involved, and the cheese puns all but disappear on account it's incredibly hard to link football to cheese in a joke. Unless you're a fan of the Packers.

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 Gruntilda Gorgonzola into using her cheese lasers in a way that he can quickly bounce them off a lollipop that's really a mirror (don't ask, it's a long story) and reflect them back onto her, thus turning Gorgonzola into a cheese statue. She was hoist by her own petard, if you will.

...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.
"Wensleydale, Gromit!"
Then The Mask uses his supernatural powers to actually travel all the way to Mesopotamia and put the amulet back in its tomb, sealing Gorgonzola's soul back into the eternal prison she was in and thus eliminating the cheesy threat. I'm...just going to accept the fact that The Mask can just travel across the globe within several seconds in order to solve a plot point. Because hey, he's The Mask. I'm sure he could find the cure for cancer and AIDS if the reward was getting a trophy at the Coco Bongo.

...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.
But I can't dwell too long on that cheese witch's eternal damnation at the hands of whatever cruel and malevolent belief system that was in place at the time, the day is saved! We then get to see everything that was turned into cheese revert back to normal, from that policeman at the very beginning to that often-remembered bridge that was also in Convention of Evil. People are restored back to their fleshy states, the cowboy once again gets to live another day (one where he's probably planning to move out of this city, no less) and Jennifer is back to normal.

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?
And so we finally get our end. Jennifer hints that she wants a three-cheese omelette for breakfast, Stanley and Jennifer are still together, and Mrs. Peenman shows up on that big football scoreboard while carting a shotgun. In other words, all is right with the world.

Mrs. Peenman is awesome.
...anyone else in the mood for literally any type of food ever except for cheese? I think I've had enough cheese for the next two months.

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.

Final Verdict

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.