Thursday, 13 February 2014

"Grapplin' Grandpas, it's the Mandatory Wrestling Episode!"

And right into a wrestling episode - they're not holding off from any of the old standards, are they? "Leg Wrestle" has a different take on the theme - one that doesn't require positing an entire bizarre wrestling league that the characters join somehow (and thankfully avoids the need for even a 'special guest' referee) by keeping the conflict and resolution within the core team. Not one Macho Man impression or "is it real?" joke, either - there's a difference between going with the classics and going for the easy ones, and Uncle Grandpa is at least on the right side of the line more often than not.
"Leg Wrestle" opens with a variation on the old interrupted viewing gag, which I'm always surprised to see an all-ages cartoon get away with. Mr. Gus looked involved enough in his 'dumb crocodile show' it recalled Friends as much as Spongebob ...although, the question of why all three of these variations involve marine life is one best left to the ages. Especially if it's unwitting selection bias on the part of the person choosing examples.
Even when it comes to aquatic variations, there's precedent...
...and if I may be permitted one '90s "joke", I bet it's precedent Clinton, hurr hurr.
The fight itself had the standard geographically-named moves and un-imitatable action expected, but at least they worked a couple of really strange ones in. How the "Dino-Skin Shed Maneuver" is even supposed to work is beyond my comprehension - of all the wrestling episodes of the past half-century of animation, I don't think I've seen that one before. I have seen plenty of training montages, though, both sincere and parodied - and I say with confidence that self-referential jokes about the existence of montages are just as tired as the subject of mockery itself. Especially when they more or less play the montage sequence straight (well, for Uncle Grandpa) immediately afterward.

We also witness a few seconds of Uncle Grandpa's just-mentioned favourite show, "Teenage Fartthrob", which I'd like to see become a recurring segment - the entirety of the modern monster soaps (how I imagine them, at least - I'm not made of viewing time) condensed into a few seconds of high drama. It must be a consistent challenge to come up with premises dumber than Uncle Grandpa itself, to convey that it's ridiculous even in-universe...I can safely say challenge met with "Teenage Fartthrob". That's one more sign how times have changed, too. It now seems to be no big deal for a cartoon character to say "fart", even in reference to the fart they're visibly farting at that moment. Until recently, it was a considered a punchline for someone to allude to the fact that they could have said "fart". We've come a long way from "Stimpy's First Fart" being forcibly renamed "Son of Stimpy" before airing. PS: Fart. PPS: "Airing", yar har yar har.
Siiiick! It's so liney! John K would be proud, if he didn't hate everything to do with animation after 1953.
(I also didn't notice that Uncle Grandpa's foot is the exact same shape as his head until just now. Nice - it takes care to insert a freeze-frame bonus like this, and it takes restraint to not stop the action to point out your "hidden" joke (by, say, having the foot start talking).

On the subject of Ren and Stimpy, If Uncle Grandpa was actually made in the era, rather than just inspired by some of the grossout greats, the close-up of his foot would have been extremely grody and brutal...with like, rusty nails sticking out of it and one toe replaced with a barfed-up old dog treat or an eyeball or something. Here and now, it's just sort of...liney. For that matter, the entire "juicer ad" sequence would have been absolutely vile, rather than merely unsettling. But I reiterate, they could have never, ever spoken the word "fart" in a broadcast cartoon.

The backing short, "Evil Wizard", had such a Savage Steve Holland vibe going with the design and animation of the titular character that I actually looked up whether he was involved in some way. Sadly, wishful thinking on my part. Still, it was a lot funnier than the rap video or anything involving Tiny Miracle the Robot Boy.
Last entry I mentioned that Uncle Grandpa shone when it took "a few good lobs" at the radar - "Evil Wizard" ignores it entirely. There are completely innocent explanations for the state of the money at the end (even with the visual of the adhesion), but the Wizard's parting barb, "...and good luck figuring out why they were stuck together!", promptly eliminates all of those from consideration.

So far, Uncle Grandpa has relied heavily on stock plots, but built up an interesting cast of main and minor characters to perform them - nowhere is this more evident than "Leg Wrestle". The fact that it's a narcissistic, manipulative slice of pizza goading a ditzy pseudo-genie into leg-wrestling (which naturally is leg-oriented professional wrestling, rather than a type of contest in its own right) his dinosaur bodyguard over the right to watch "Teenage Fartthrob" is the sort of gleeful nonsense that makes Uncle Grandpa more than the sum of its recycled parts.

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