By this paragraph alone, you might think that I'm talking about Captain Planet. Sadly, no. If there's one thing I learned about bad ideas in cartoons, it's that they never appear in just one cartoon.
|"My head is ridiculously huge!"|
...excuse me. I think I need to go lay down now.
Wait, I should probably talk about Widget the World Watcher here. There's not much to be expressed about a cartoon where the honest to god mediocre videogame adaptations are more well-remembered than the actual show itself. Other than pity. Lots and lots of pity. Seriously, the only other time I can think of a videogame outshining the actual cartoon when the videogame itself isn't very good is Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Gold. It's a sad fate to befall any show.
|In fairness to this game, it at least looks funner than Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Gold.|
Another notable thing about this show. Like all really dumb shows of the 90's that not many people remember, it's incredibly rare. Out of a 65 episode show, only a handful of episodes are available online, and they're all pulled from VHS videos that, on eBay, run to be about 40 dollars.
That being said, you like kangaroos? Dingos? Bad Australian accents? Then boy, do I have an episode for you!
Airdate: 27 October 1990
|Awww, that's kind of cute that they had a married couple write this together.|
Availability: On VHS, but good luck finding one!
If you grew up in the magical time known as the 90's, you are well aware of how a lot of animated shows from that era happened to have incredibly catchy intros regardless of the quality of the cartoon. Who knows how many cartoons have tricked me into watching them just because they happened to have decent music. DuckTales and Heathcliff are the most infamous examples (if only because I can still recite the entire DuckTales song by heart), but now I can add this show to the list. Compared to Captain Planet's intro, which is basically a narration of what the premise is set to instrumentals while Ma-Ti totally fails to help with a forest fire, Widget the World Watcher opts for the more traditional "have people sing entirely in exposition while set to a catchy rhythm" route that most cartoons stick to.
And, despite the preachiness of the lyrics ("Danger and evil are everywhere, Nature called we didn't care"), it's a really successful song. The singers and their backup sound like they're pouring their heart and soul into their work and make an fantastic song out of lyrics that say that humans crapped up the world so badly that shapeshifting aliens from another planet had to step in and clean up our mess. That takes talent.
...but maybe I just have a weakness for theme songs that contains a copious use of Whoa-oh's and CGI objects flying through space. Whoa-oh, Whoa-oh, Widget the World Waaaaaatcher!
|This screenshot was brought to you by the color purple.|
This episode involves "Australia's endangered red kangaroos", in case you're curious. Well, I'm off to a good start here. The cartoon didn't even start yet and already it's made a huge factual error. Red kangaroos aren't endangered, morons! Out of all of the Australian wildlife they could dedicate an episode on (you could make an entire series on the amount of marsupials and indigenous Australian animals that are facing extinction), they had to choose the one that's in absolutely no danger. Smooth. At least when Captain Planet features wildlife, they do some research and make sure the animal is a vulnerable species we may lose due to mankind's activities.
...and see what you did, cartoon! Not even two minutes in and you made me give a compliment to Captain Planet.
|And only one of those kangaroos is red! This whole episode is a lie!|
|"Pitiful Earth creatures! Your puny attempts at wilderness survival greatly amuse Widget!"|
|"So, let me get this straight. Your species has to fashion soft cushions in order to protect their |
soft, naked pink bodies from the elements? This information will be useful."
...and somehow Widget gets so stuck in the sleeping bag that he needs the two kids to help pull him out. How is that even possible? Sleeping bags are equipped with zippers and Widget can shapeshift!
|"Is this how humans procreate?"|
And if you look closely, the male Old Wise One's fingers are somehow outside of the hologram. Alien technology sure is amazing sometimes.
|Old Wise Ones! Gotta catch 'em all!|
...although now that makes me wonder if there are other World Watchers on Earth and, since Widget sucks so much (come on, he needed help getting out of a sleeping bag) the Old Wise Ones just hand him these really easy assignments just so the embarrassing little recruit feels better about himself. I bet before he had to help the endangered red kangaroos, he had to help some endangered coyotes in Nevada and some endangered pigeons in New York City while the real World Watchers took care of the rainforest.
|Good god, where did the Eurasian landmass go?|
"G'day, mate! Time to go practice with my boomerang!"
Uuuuugh. I slapped my forehead so hard from hearing that line that I gave myself permanent brain damage. As you might guess, if you actually live in the continent of Australia, this is going to be a very painful experience.
|Australians, this is what Widget thinks you look and act like.|
To make matters worse, we hear that the two dumbass kids are perfectly okay with randomly going to Australia at the last minute (and that it's downright awesome that they get to do it), just as long as they're back before breakfast. Because they'll miss waffles. Oh sure, their parents might call the police to report that their children have been kidnapped, but god forbid they miss waffles.
|Widget's luring them into a false sense of security. And then, the probings will commence.|
It's...rather jarring to say the least, and it only makes you wonder just how aware the kangaroos are about their current situation. Did they actually talk to the cattle and sheep farmers about their water shortage before arriving at this decision? How much voting power do you give to a marsupial anyways?
|"But, Mom! I don't wanna clean my room!"|
Sadly, according to the intro that unfortunately spoiled everything, this character is going to be a major player in this entire episode. I think I officially hate Australia now for being somewhat responsible for this freakish mutant's creation.
|"Baby, you are looking fiiiiiiiiine."|
You can probably guess what the real plot is now just from this turn of rather uninteresting events. Despite being branded as a ecological cartoon, this episode decides to take a page out of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers' book and have the plot be more about cute baby animal rescue. The whole "ranchers taking the kangaroos' water" is never going to be brought up again, we're not going to see any poachers or any polluters try to hurt the kangaroos, and all of the dangers presented in this cartoon are going to be completely natural as opposed to man-made. Way to miss the point as to why your cartoon was made, Widget the World Watcher.
|"So Bob, did you check to make sure we got all the kangaroos on the reserve?"|
"Eh. It's not like these animals are a protected species or anything."
...although this is the only family of kangaroos we ever see talking and performing advanced human tasks. Maybe they're hyper-intelligent lab experiments gone wrong, mutated in a way similar to the rats of NIMH, that ended up settling in an ordinary mob of kangaroos in order to hide themselves from the cruel, unforgiving government that would rather cut them up and examine their unnatural brain tissue than allow their family to live in peace.
And crap. Now I want a movie with that plot, especially if Pixar was involved.
|And then they were shot by poachers.|
And we get to see just how much Widget cares about doing a good job with the whole "saving the environment" thing when he crashes his spaceship into the ground and starts bragging with his friends about the awesome loop-de-loops and spirals he did in his vehicle, trick maneuvers that caused him to lose control in the first place. Hey, thanks for digging a huge furrow into a protected wildlife reserve, Widget! Suppose a kangaroo happened to be standing there?
And how the hell did those two kids survive the crash? From what we saw earlier, the spaceship clearly didn't have any safety restraints!
|Aww! It appeared to be caught!|
Remember, this is a cartoon that is supposedly dealing with more adult issues like animals needing to be moved to other locations due to a dwindling water supply thanks to competition from meat and wool industries and protected wildlife reserves that are supposed to preserve vulnerable species and animals acclimatizing to it. Any other cartoon, I would've been like "Okay, kangaroo has a handkerchief. She must also have an ironing board and an apron in that thing.", but in a cartoon that's supposed to deal with issues that happen in real life, this just doesn't fly. Why would the kangaroo have material possessions if it lives in reserves and grazes like a lowly animal? This doesn't make any sense!
...and yes, I realize I'm asking for a cartoon that involves a shapeshifting purple alien that travels in a giant Poké Ball and sounds like a Disney duck to make sense. But come on, Captain Planet had more dignity. Captain Planet.
|"I can't believe they cancelled Chuck!"|
Just wondering, Widget, but the mission your Old Wise Ones gave you was to make sure that ALL of the kangaroos are happy with their new resort. From the sounds of it, you're only going to help this one couple for this entire episode. How is this fair to the other red kangaroos? What if one of the kangaroos had problems dealing with his crippling Avoidant Personality Disorder and you totally blew him over in favor of this couple?
|His wrinkled kneecaps creep me the hell out.|
What makes this different from any other cartoon that allows the bland child protagonists to shoot their mouths off in an attempt to appeal to the target audience is that, while this is happening, Widget just kind of stands off to the side, his expression deepening in severity as he wonders why the hell he brought these annoying little dickweeds along. He doesn't actually say anything, possibly in order to be polite and keep his child-friendly image, but you can practically taste his utter disgust.
|"I'm just waiting for my hideous alien larva to burst out of that kid's chest."|
|"Hello, kids! I'll be appearing in your nightmares tonight!"|
And, to make things worse, after he doesn't help the group pinpoint their location (making his demonic summoning entirely pointless), he instead informs everyone that there are more poisonous snakes in Australia than anywhere else on Earth. I just love the look on Widget's face when he hears this too. I guess I can't completely hate this eldritch abomination too much if he's going to be such an asshole to his friends, especially considering he's voiced by one of the best voice actors of the 90's, Jim Cummings. Therefore, when Mega Brain talks, he sounds like a bizarre mix of like twenty different cartoon characters all at the same time.
|"The test results are in, Widget. It's cancer."|
By the way, even though all they have to do to avoid the snakes is run in the opposite direction, I just want to point out a couple things about this scene. First, Australia has very distinct poisonous snakes, and none of them gather in groups like this. Second, one of the first things you learn about venomous snakes is that most of the species are not at all vicious, choosing only to attack humans if provoked. And finally, how come these snakes can't talk? The kangaroos could talk, hug, and could even produce their own handkerchiefs!
Unless in Widget's universe, the only animals that can talk are the cute, herbivorous animals and not the icky reptiles and carnivores. Unfortunately, this theory only gets reinforced by what comes up later. Widget the World Watcher, everybody; while teaching your kids how to save the environment, he's also going to stick to harmful animal stereotypes.
|These snakes automatically hate the heroes because they're evil, unholy creatures!|
They do get directions from the koala, since, unlike the snakes, it's cute and therefore capable of intelligent speech. But for some reason, this koala sounds incredibly stoned (man, what was in those eucalyptus leaves?) and the directions she gives them are extremely vague. In her words, in order to reach the baby kangaroo, they need to reach the Billabong near the Never-Never in the back of Beyond.
...well. That certainly narrows things down.
|"Man, is anyone else in the mood for tacos?"|
Someone with a keen eye can instantly notice that no matter what form Widget turns into, he always retains his purple colorations and he can never shapeshift his tail away. I guess this is so the viewer can pick Widget from a crowd in case he's on the same screen as other animals his species, but that's such an unfortunate character flaw that prevents Widget from ever going undercover and experiencing life the way the Earthlings do, which I imagine is why he has these powers in the first place. What if Widget wanted to be human for a while? Purple skin and strange, crooked tails tend to raise questions.
|So this cartoon contains animals, shapeshifting, and alien invaders. |
I wonder if Animorphs was based off of this...
"Purple pulsars! It looks like Widget the World Watcher is gonna save the day!"
Man, usually when the character is this obnoxiously self-centered, the cartoon turns it into a character flaw instead of presenting it in a meant-to-be-charming manner. That's why I applauded when an eagle appeared out of nowhere and tried to eat Widget. Good job, nature! Smite the monstrous alien that takes the form of your beloved creations!
|So the eagle can't talk either...?|
Simple. In order to scare the creature off, he turns into a dragon.
...a rather ugly, off-putting sins against nature type of dragon that manages to still have his face, but hey, it's the thought that counts. It's a shame that he didn't turn into a ichor-spewing tentacled abomination with seventeen gaping mouths that each contain a separate dimension, a being so hideous and ugly that it drives the eagle mad and the poor mortal creature has a fatal stroke just trying to comprehend Widget's real form. But in the show's defense, that would've been really hard to animate.
|And I'm certain none of the locals saw the mythical creature suddenly appear out of nowhere...|
That's because the two bland, uninteresting kids have been cornered by Australian Aborigines, and the sight of these strange, awkwardly-dressed strangers just standing there and doing nothing is so frightening that the two kids are actually shaking and so afraid that they can't talk and need Widget to talk to them for them. All because two people with slightly darker skin appeared in front of them. Holy crap. There are no words for the amount of offensiveness that has been directly beamed into my eyes.
Without spoiling anything, this episode is the reason why I'm glad that Ferngully didn't have any native tribes in their movie, choosing to instead go the "this is Australia even though no one has an accent" route. This cartoon handles the subject of native Australians with the delicacy of a sledgehammer.
|I see the grandfather is rocking the bandanna, dried pineapple, and shorts combo that's custom to his tribe.|
But you have to picture this scene from the Aborigines' point of view. They find two Caucasian males stranded in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden, a honest to god purple dragon falls from the sky and transforms into hideous balding elf with lavender skin. And then, after he babbles in tongues to his loyal minions, he conjures several decapitated body parts that only remotely resemble something human and can perform frightening tasks like suddenly manifesting material objects like an oversized dictionary. I bet the reason our two Aborigines are both wearing brown pants is so that we don't see them crapping themselves in fear.
|"You know, this seemed like a way better plan in my head."|
So they introduce themselves to the frightening hellbeasts, but since their personalities are so bland and their names are so indistinct (seriously, the younger one is named Jim. Jim.) that I'm probably going to call them Old Aborigine and Young Aborigine from now on. They only exist so that the animation studio can gain street cred for having different ethnicities in their productions, no matter how boring the end product happens to be.
|"Whatever you do, don't make fun of my grandfather lack of nipples and chest hair. He's very sensitive about it."|
Excuse me. I think my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I'm going to need surgery to correct my eyesight. Normally when a cartoon is this fantastically racist, it at least gives you a warning so you're expecting it.
|"Which legend about my people talks about the day when my planet sends our space armada |
to your pitiful world and enslaves your weak, pathetic species?"
No. No. Don't make me roll up a newspaper and hit you on the nose, cartoon! You don't make natives show up just so they're skilled trackers and have the white kids stand back in amazement! What the hell is wrong with you?
|Pictured: Racial insensitivity.|
In other words, woooooow. There's insensitive and then there's this. When I started watching this cartoon, I was hoping that they didn't make Australians out to be displeasing Steve Irwin parodies, but after seeing this frighteningly xenophobic trainwreck, I would've vastly preferred that.
So, judging by what I learned so far, Australia is filled with poisonous snakes, stock Australian animals, and horrible stereotypes. What an educational experience!
|"Grandpa never was the same after he suffered that stroke..."|
This scene is kind of weird, because while the kangaroo is posing like a human, doing human gestures (I want to know if kangaroos can even physically perform some of the tasks this cartoon depicts them as doing), and using human slang, the cartoon then implies that the animals can't speak each other's language because the echidna is totally silent during this entire scene. Unless he's so annoyed by such blatant display of cutesy-wutesy (this kangaroo's voice is the physical embodiment of a migraine) that he figures he's not going to waste his time. Kangaroos are assholes anyways.
|"How goes guarding the Master Emerald?"|
I also just want to point out that if this cartoon was actually doing its job and being educational, that baby kangaroo, since he didn't notice the crocodile until he was well within striking range, would've been dragged underwater, killed by the crocodile's powerful and infamous "death roll" hunting technique, and later ripped to bite-sized chunks. Any children's cartoon that has enough balls to introduce a typical baby animal character and then have that character killed would instantly become a classic, I guarantee. Just look at Animals of Farthing Wood.
|"Excuse me, but that's MY river you're sticking your grimy, disease-coated paws into."|
I love how absolutely cheesy Jojo's close-up is, by the way. It's not enough to hear the marsupial come to grips with the fact that, due to his stupidity, he's never going to see his fellow kangaroos ever again and he's never going to enjoy suckling his mom's elongated teat nestled in her pouch. We also have to see the majestic, heartbroken tears roll down his face. I think the next time someone posts something stupid on one of the message boards I frequent, I'm using this as a reaction image.
|Don't worry, Sheila. I'm sure you'll appear in another Spyro the Dragon game in the future...|
...it's official. This cartoon is making me feel highly uncomfortable.
Also, I find it funny how so far, the only thing Kevin and Brian (I had to look up their names, that's how much I give a damn about these two) have contributed to this cartoon are annoyance and cultural ignorance. Why the hell do they even exist again? It feels like you could digitally remove these characters with Photoshop and still have the exact same product on your hands.
|"If you ask me to wrestle a crocodile or fry a shrimp on the barbie, it's perfectly legal for me |
to ram this boomerang down your throat."
Incidentally, boomerangs were historically used by the indigenous people of Australia in order to hunt animals including kangaroos. Wouldn't be ironic if Kevin's throw ended up sailing so wildly off-course that it struck Jojo the baby kangaroo in the neck and killed him? And then the rest of the episode could involve Widget using his shapeshifting powers to make Jojo's death look like an accident by turning into different carnivores and mangling the corpse to disguise the real cause of death, all so that he doesn't get his World Watcher license revoked from the Old Wise Ones.
Speaking of the Old Wise Ones, whatever happened to that whole "make sure the kangaroos are adapting to their new home" mission that Widget was supposed to do?
|Can boomerangs even slice this efficiently?|
...so, how did Jojo run into the pack of hungry, ravenous dingoes? Considering he's a baby, just one dingo is enough to kill him and eat him. Having a whole pack chase after him just makes this situation even worse, because it's implying that this drought Australia is suffering is so bad that the dingo packs are being driven to desperation.
I also like that the Old Aborigine just says that the baby kangaroo "is in terrible danger". How terribly vague. Come on, Brian and Kevin are old enough to handle the truth. You can say that the bloodthirsty hunters are inches away from eviscerating that baby kangaroo for sustenance.
|"Oh, I'm sure the baby kangaroo can outrun the-oh, nevermind. One of the dingos just ripped out his throat."|
Also, Widget has a pouch. Which is something only female kangaroos have because that's how they care and nurse their young. Umm...
And oddly, this scene where he's a kangaroo and gestures to his devout followers is a lot more smoothly animated than any other piece of animation in this entire episode. Weirdest production bump ever.
|I can't help but picture a shapeshifter's duel between him and Project GeeKeR.|
...but I'm willing to let this slide, since Widget is a horrifying alien monster, after all. I'm sure he has some sort of intergalactic superstrength at his side and, when he transformed, he made sure his pouch was free of disgusting bodily fluids and nipples.
|I'm sure this is a fetish somewhere on the Internet.|
...oh, so that's why he made one of the kids jump in his pouch. Widget's obviously seen A Cry in the Dark.
|"Quick, grab the bottle of barbecue sauce in my pouch and cover yourself with it. That'll distract them!"|
I will like to take the time to point out that this cartoon is careful never to show the kangaroos talk when they're not just by themselves or around Widget. I guess this implies that only Widget (and to a lesser extent, Mega Brain, since he had that book that listed "Aardvark" and "Abominable Snowman" as possible language choices) can talk to animals, but that sure doesn't explain the handkerchief and the hug from earlier. Do animals just exhibit human behavior like that when we're not aware? What has my cat been doing behind my back all this time?
|And then he contacts rabies.|
Luckily, a rather racist, stereotypical miracle shows up just in time to make Kevin relevant to the plot. Remember how those two Aborigines were just totally insensitive parodies of the native peoples that inhabit the Australian landmass and how they were all about hokey legends, tracking things, and boomerangs? Wouldn't it be great if they showed up with emus out of nowhere and called them the race cars of Australia?
And that's exactly what they do. I hope someone got fired for this episode.
|Man, the Star Wars Extended Universe sure is strange...|
...hate to break it to Widget, but dingoes don't attack one at a time. If there's a pack of dingoes, Widget's pretty much screwed because they're going to work together and make sure that they don't leave until they have a kangaroo carcass to feast on. Or an alien corpse after he reverted back to his original form. I'm not sure what would happen if you killed Widget while he was shapeshifted.
And, again, Widget doesn't just talk to the dingoes and explain his problem, choosing to instead beat them up for daring to be carnivorous. Why can't his mystical Dr. Dolittle-esque abilities work on animals that eat meat?
|Now would be a good time to point out that dingoes are more endangered than kangaroos. Good going, Widget.|
...even though they're on dry land. And saltwater crocodiles don't typically walk around actively searching for prey, choosing to instead eat whatever enters their territory. And they don't hunt in pairs. God, this cartoon's stupid.
Educational gaffes aside, this cartoon is really pulling out all of the stops to make sure this climax is as action-packed as it can possibly be! Dingos, crocodiles, random emus, phoned-in animation...it almost makes you forget about the fact that this episode doesn't at all have a clear antagonist, it doesn't at all address any of the possible global issues mankind has in terms of disturbing the Australian animals' natural habitat, and it doesn't even a clear story beyond "protect baby kangaroo".
|Brutus and Nero, what are you doing? You're supposed to be helping Madame Medusa recover the Devil's Eye!|
|I guess it's an Aborigine tradition to ram an emu's beak into a dingo's ass.|
Hmmm, I wonder if there was a scene from earlier that was hinting towards Kevin learning a skill that wasn't particularly interesting but could be used to pull a hastily-written resolution to this problem?
|Do you come from a land down under?|
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover
...yeah, if you're like me and just totally didn't give a crap about this character (and I really doubt he's going to leave an impact with anybody in this episode, considering 80% of his dialogue are racist questions aimed at the Aborigines) and his utter lack of anything resembling a personality, this plot development is going to come completely out of nowhere and you're not going to be impressed by it at all.
And saving a kangaroo by throwing a boomerang at crocodiles after riding an emu and narrowly avoiding dingos sounds like something even Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee would find too stereotypical. I bet that boomerang can also summon Vegemite sandwiches and some Men at Work mixtapes.
|"My trusty croissant will save the day!"|
|"Pfft. Ray guns and lasers are so mainstream!"|
...no, I didn't just randomly ram my face into my keyboard until something profoundly stupid and yet resembling the English language appeared on the screen. This seriously happened. Through a strange string of coincidences, a boomerang thrown by someone who's only used once knocked over a goddamn boulder which topples a goddamn tree. I know boomerangs are hunting weapons but I doubt they can move boulders. I'm sorry.
Ah well, at least the crocodiles were helpful enough to stand completely side by side or else the whole tree thing never would've worked. I also wonder what would've happened if the tree fell slightly more to the left and crushed those crocodiles to death. That sure would've looked good on Widget's resume.
|"Oh, no! A tree! It's our one weakness!"|
And is it me, or is it a little odd that this cartoon, which, again, is meant to talk about the environment, solved a problem by toppling a tree over? Imagine if one of the Planeteers did that in front of Captain Planet.
|"We injured some crocodiles with a tree! We're the best environmentalists ever!"|
But ignoring the courtship rituals of kangaroos for a bit, what makes this scene really strange is that the male kangaroo says that Widget has that smart Mega Brain fellow helping him with the search, when not once did Mega Brain interact with any of the kangaroos. I guess a scene got cut during production and they just assumed that we had fallen asleep from boredom long before we'd notice little errors like this.
|"I don't know about you, but I actually liked Kangaroo Jack."|
...well, this would be more adorable if it wasn't so obvious that Jojo was being voiced by an adult trying to sound like a child, anyway.
|"U mad, bro?"|
...Widget, can you kindly tell me what a solar slime snake is and why the hell you have to milk it? That sounds way more entertaining than what I'm watching here.
|Meanwhile, the Aborigines turned Caucasian thanks to a rogue coloring error.|
...no? Guess not then.
|I believe they call this a "Deus Ex Machina".|
|"Greetings, Earthlings. I come in DERP."|
Yes. Ship's thrusters. Pushing rainclouds. Somehow solving a drought. Thrusters.
Oh, I see now. I see what you're trying to do, cartoon. You're trying to frustrate me so much with sheer inanity that I'll just give up and turn this episode off. Well, sorry. I'm going to sit through this entire episode to the end if that's the last thing I do!
|Fire solves everything!|
...even though he gave absolutely no indication that he felt this way in the entire episode! What, so Jim (shoot, I actually remembered his name) actually wants to be a scientist when he grows up? Well, you should've had a scene to actually develop that character instead of choosing to fill the episode with kangaroos shooting the breeze with random Australian wildlife, cartoon. You're telling us that we should all work together to keep the world full of natural wonders, Aborigine? Yeah, that makes sense. That's why you needed space aliens to help solve your droughts, right?
I'm sorry. I should keep my pent-up rage at a minimum. I gave up expecting something intelligent from this cartoon a long time ago.
|"I'm going to become a scientist because I was inspired by a shapeshifting purple fairy."|
And where the hell did they get the food?
|"Will your parents mind if I implanted some electrodes into your amygdala in order to better study your vital signs?"|
|"Shgla'yos plahf mh'naus!"|
...that's okay, Widget. I didn't plan on sleeping tonight anyways.
The Moral of this Cartoon
The life of a single baby kangaroo is more important than anything else in the world.
Well, this certainly made me appreciate Captain Planet a lot more.
There's a lot to be said about this cartoon and this episode, and unfortunately, a lot of it is bad. The characters are bland as all hell, the animation never strives to be anything better than "passable", the research is downright terrible (kangaroos are not endangered!), it gets pretty offensive at times, and it's just not all that good. With Captain Planet, you get the sense that the world is in danger thanks to mankind and that we must do something soon or else we could lose finite resources, but with here, you don't get that. They really lose focus and instead spend most of the screentime on the kangaroos. Kangaroos that can't decide whether they're anthropomorphic or merely wild animals that can talk.
The only two things I liked, the music and potentially the concept of a shapeshifting superhero that travels around the world, are kind of buried underneath this thick pile of mediocrity. I mean, come on, they're in Australia, and all they did was point out some species (Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo, Dingo) while completely ignoring other species (poisonous snakes). Why not show us some of the precious landmarks Australia has to offer?
But instead, I got really annoying protagonists (seriously, Brian, Kevin, Jim, and Grandpa Aborigine have no personalities here, let's be honest with ourselves) mixed in with a really annoying kangaroo and some really annoying Aborigines and about halfway through the episode, I ended up wishing that the dingoes would eat the kangaroo's baby and we could focus on how the cattle ranchers are stealing all the water meant for Australia's wildlife or something. I'd rather it be preachy than stupid, and unfortunately, what I got was stupid.
But above all of that, it was boring. I can enjoy cartoons that aren't very well-made like Street Sharks and Loonatics Unleashed, but that's because they at least offer something. I like how dumb Street Sharks can be, and it's fun to laugh at Loonatics Unleashed. Here, there is no enjoyment. None. It's a wasteland completely devoid of entertainment and joy.
In conclusion, there's a very good reason why this show is pretty much all but forgotten. It's not a hidden gem by any means. Instead, it's more like a hidden turd and I'm definitely not going to watch this episode again. This was aimed for a younger crowd, sure, but it never strives to be intelligent for said crowd.
But hey, it at least answered a valuable question. Turns out there IS something worse than Captain Planet when it comes to environmentalist cartoons, and this is it. Thank you for giving me reasons to like freaking Captain Planet, Widget. And man, do I hate you for it.