SpongeBob Reviews: Season 1 (Sandy’s Rocket/Squeaky Boots)

sandys_rocket

I really want to avoid comparisons between pre-movie and post-movie as much as I can during these reviews, but sometimes, as in the case of Jellyfishing, it’s kind of hard to do that. It’s expected that our perceptions of pre-movie would affect the way we look at post-movie, but what’s weird to me is how our perceptions of post-movie can retroactively affect the way we look at certain pre-movie episodes. I think that’s an interesting phenomenon to discuss, though I still I don’t want to get too deep into comparisons between the too eras too often.

This episode kind of fascinates me. I don’t mean that on an entertainment level, because I actually find it pretty dull. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s like, the existence of this episode fascinates me, especially when I look back on it having watched all of post-movie and having formed Opinions on certain things.

This is the only pre-movie episode where Sandy can be seen doing anything science-y. It’s the only pre-movie episode where she shows any sign of being even remotely interested in science.

The only reason that fact is significant at all is because in post-movie, Sandy’s identity revolves almost entirely around science. I remember finding it very off-putting in season 4 when the show declared that Sandy was a scientist. Where was this coming from? I wondered. Pre-movie Sandy is into extreme sports and daredevil-ish stunts, she was never described as a scientist, nor does she ever show interest in it. So it was weird for the show to suddenly plop Scientist Sandy on me, and for it to take over her character as drastically as it did. Oh sure, she was still into sports and all that, but it was rarely seen as most of the emphasis was placed on her being a scientist. Over time it grew on me, or at least I came to accept that Scientist Sandy is just a thing now and if I want to enjoy Sandy’s character at all now I have to just get used to it. But there’s a part of me that still feels it doesn’t quite fit. Sandy’s personality tends to get lost in her scientist role, especially since more often that not it’s only used as a plot device, and I definitely wish we could see more Sporty and Extreme Sandy.

Having said all that, it’s hard for me to know what to do with this episode. It being the only pre-movie episode to show Sandy being interested in science, it’s kind of an anomaly. If I was supposed to gather from this episode that Sandy is a scientist, it didn’t work. If it was always intended to be part of her character, why wouldn’t it have come up more? Was it always intended to be part of her character? Or was that something that was decided upon randomly later, most likely with this episode in mind because what other episode could give them the idea? Why does this episode exist?

My guess is that it exists to be an episode that highlights the differences between Sandy and her friends, as a land creature living among sea creatures. After all, that was the idea behind Sandy’s creation, to have a kind of “fish out of water” (tee hee) character among them. Let’s say we suspend disbelief enough to accept that squirrels can have rocket ships that go to the moon. Sea creatures don’t even really have a moon and I’m guessing they don’t mix with space travel often, if ever. So this is an opportunity for Sandy to introduce something that’s exclusive to land creatures to her sea creature friends and for those worlds to collide, right?

The only problem with that is that Sandy isn’t actually in the episode that much. She appears at the beginning of the episode to provide a setup and that’s it. She shows SpongeBob her rocket, explains that it’s for a trip to the moon and tells him not to touch it, and she’s pretty much out of the episode until she reappears at the end to scold SpongeBob and Patrick. The time in between the setup and the ending is spent with SpongeBob and Patrick, who snuck into the rocket without Sandy, accidentally launched it, and only ended up crashing back to Bikini Bottom, though they believe they’re on the moon.

So it’s not really about worlds colliding in the end, it’s about a misunderstanding. Which I guess is fine. I mean, it is a pretty funny idea, to have SpongeBob and Patrick unaware that they’re still in Bikini Bottom, thinking that everyone they meet is an alien. There’s only so many jokes that can come from plots involving misunderstandings, but it doesn’t get too stale before the end of the episode, luckily. As for whether or not this episode was truly the beginning of Scientist Sandy or if it was just an outlier and should not have been counted… I’m kind of thinking it’s the latter.

Maybe if Sandy had actually been in the episode more, or if she showed interest in science in any other pre-movie episodes, I could see it being the former. But as it stands, it really just feels like an anomaly that conveniently fits the purposes of a change made farther into the show’s run. Or maybe I’m wrong and Sandy was always meant to be a scientist and they just forgot to ever bring it up in any pre-movie episodes. Who knows. This episode is weird.

In the end, though, it shouldn’t even matter! I should be able to just take this at face-value as a silly episode and nothing more. But personally I can’t ignore what a weird episode this is in relation to Sandy’s character both in pre-movie and post-movie, and there isn’t enough in this episode that I find entertaining on a base level for me to have much use for it. Fans seem pretty mixed on this episode and I can understand why this episode appeals to some people, but I can’t find a way to get into this episode.

Rating: 4/10

squeaky_boots

Oh man, this episode. I think this is the least liked season 1 episode, aside from maybe Nature Pants or I Was a Teenage Gary. I’ve always kind of liked this episode, or at least I’ve never hated it, but I can definitely see why it’s unpopular.

This episode is not only the first episode to really focus on Mr. Krabs, it’s also our first introduction to Pearl. Not the character from Steven Universe. She’s Mr. Krabs’ daughter, and she’s a whale. A lot of people ask why Pearl is a whale if her father is a crab but honestly I don’t see what the fuss is about because I always just assumed she was adopted. That’s plausible, isn’t it? Anyway, Pearl isn’t in this episode very much so I won’t talk about her too much right now, she’s mostly in this episode to give us some setup and then she disappears until the very end where she only has a brief appearance. Mr. Krabs gives her a pair of old boots for her birthday, and she hates them and starts to cry. To be fair, if all I got for my birthday was a pair of smelly old boots, I’d probably cry too. Since Pearl doesn’t want them, Mr. Krabs is left with an old pair of boots that he has no idea what to do with.

He ends up being able to trick SpongeBob into wanting them and paying much more for them than they’re worth. SpongeBob loves the boots and he wears them 24/7. The only problem is, they squeak. Very loudly. The squeaking quickly begins to annoy Mr. Krabs, to the point that he becomes unhinged. As for how the squeaking affects the viewers, it depends on who you ask. Part of the reason this episode isn’t very popular is because of the squeaking. For me, the squeaking kind of walks a fine line between being funny-annoying and being actually annoying, but for many it falls very firmly on the side of actually annoying. I can’t say I don’t understand where they’re coming from.

Honestly though, this episode is entirely justified to me for the simple fact that it’s a reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Mr. Krabs steals SpongeBob’s boots one night and hides them under the floorboards, hoping that this will be the end of it. When SpongeBob comes in to work the next day devastated that he lost the boots, Mr. Krabs is so wracked with guilt that he starts to hear squeaking everywhere. Then he finally snaps.

Mr. Krabs: Stop it! STOP IT! Oh, oh, can’t you hear it? Yes, I did it! I did it! I took the boots! They’re here, under the floorboard! Oh, please, make it stop! It’s the squeaking of the hideous boots!

Probably not something kids would get, but it’s a fun reference for older fans.

So then Mr. Krabs takes the boots from under the floorboards and eats them. I’m always a bit surprised by the amount of people who describe this scene as “scary”. It’s stuff like this where I have to wonder how much my perception of certain things differs from other fans’ because of the fact that I was significantly older than most of them when I first started watching. A lot of people apparently started watching this show when they were as young as three, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but whatever. I was around ten when I started watching, so by that point I was too old to really be scared by anything in this show, but I guess I can see how certain scenes might freak out younger kids a little bit.

If there’s one thing to be said about this episode, it’s that it definitely has the most striking animation of any episode so far. The facial expressions, especially near the end, are really diverse and creative and just plain hilarious. It’s easily the best thing about the episode.

The rest of it, though? Well, like I said, I can see why it’s unpopular. It’s not the strongest episode as far as humor, and the unpleasant squeaking doesn’t really help. Eh, I don’t know, I can’t bring myself to hate this episode, though I can’t say I love it either. I have a bit of a soft spot for it because of the reference to The Tell-Tale Heart, and the animation is at least enough to keep me entertained.

Rating: 6.5/10

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