ANIMORPHS Episode 7: The Escape

Marco, Rachel, and Human Ax are hanging out at a bizarrely non-cyber Cafe. They’re talking about (I think) using their Animorphy powers to attend the opening of a Planet Hollywood that “Arnold” will be at. I have a feeling the “90s references” section of this review will be fat and juicy. Ax doesn’t know who Arnold is because is a fucking alien, Marco, leave him alone.

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The gang gets milkshakes and Ax loses his ever-loving mind. This fun time is quickly sidetracked by the slow-motion dramatic camera as Marco notices a sobbing drug addict eating oatmeal at the counter.

Animorph Oatmeal: A Missed Branding Opportunity

Animorph Oatmeal: A Missed Branding Opportunity

He’s had four bowls of oatmeal. He’s eaten the entire diner out of oatmeal. He starts licking the bowl. This is very dramatic. Ax eats his milkshake with his fingers.

The entire time, this scene keeps cutitng back to a fan, which is really fucking weird.

Spooky Scary Fanningtons

Spooky Scary

The Addict has a fit, knocking stuff over and screaming that he needs more oatmeal until the police (they exist???) show up and drag him away. Then Rachel starts a voice-over and a cliffnotes of the entire seen replays AND THEN THAT DEADLY FAN AGAIN. So this is by far the weirdest episode yet.

In the barn, Jake and Cassie are like “Yo that shit sounds mad crazy. Was there a creepy fan?”.

Tobias remains a bird.

Tobias remains a bird.

Rachel shows up to tell them she recognized The Addict, named Edelman, in one of her lawyer-mom’s recent cases. His family’s trying to lock him up for being insane/eating all the oatmeal. Apparently Edelman is convinced there is an alien called a Yeerk in his brain, and he’s been locked up in the psych ward. Despite Marco’s protests, everyone agrees to go on an adventure. Ax is not in this scene so I guess he is just drinking milkshakes somewhere.

At the Psych Ward, a man is flying around like an airplane. 

Classy depiction of mental illness.

Classy depiction of mental illness.

Then…son of a bitch. Marco and Rachel are sneaking into the Psych Ward by dressing up like doctors. YOU CAN MORPH INTO ANYTHING. YOU COULD BE DOCTORS. You could be Arnold. You could be on a better show.

Okay, maybe you couldn't be that, Boris.

Okay, maybe you couldn’t be that, Boris.

The airplane guy flies by them and stops to yell, “GETTING GIDDY AND HIP. NA NA NA NA NA.” This reminds me of Twin Peaks.

"Those '90s kids' books you like aren't going to come back in style."

“Those ’90s kids’ books you like aren’t going to come back in style.”

Marco insults the mentally ill and the camera goes into slow-motion for no reason until they find George Edelman’s room. Edelman’s staring out the window, but even he’s sane enough to realize these two teenagers aren’t his usual doctors.

"I thought you'd be dogs or something."

“I thought you’d be dogs or something.”

Marco makes some actually-funny jokes before they start asking about the alien in his head. Edelman thinks they’re just fucking with him, but they get him to provide an accurate description of the Yeerks. Then we learn that apparently, Edelman broke free of his Yeerk’s control…by eating Instant Maple Oatmeal, which essentially gave the brain-slug an allergic reaction. He then has another fit as the Yeerk tries to assert control. Tobias-bird outside the window warns Marco and Rachel that someone is coming. Edeman tells them about the Yeerk Pool, and Rachel asks “where is this Yeerk Pool?”, even though she’s fucking been there. The kids escape as two thugs show up to put a new, healthy Yeerk in Edelman’s head. Watching this, Rachel says, “They’re replacing the Yeerk.” Thanks, Rachel. Thachel.

Bird Tobias watches Edelman and some goons head into a fast-food joint. Cut to inside and, ugh, it’s Yeerk Stupid Labs, and UGH, there’s a Hork-Bajir here with Chubby Scientist and Visser Three.

lol

lol

Basically, they’re testing out a force-field that destroys with lasers anyone who isn’t a Yeerk. They test it out on a Hork-Bajir and everything looks like shit.

My sanity dissolved similarly

My sanity dissolved similarly

Edelman shows up, back under control again, and Visser Three demands he find the Andalite Bandits. Isn’t that always the goal, dude?

In the barn, Rachel is feeling guilty about Edelman being re-infested.

Note Ax mimicking Marco.

Note Ax mimicking Marco.

Marco wants to weaponize oatmeal (oh my God) to strike against the Yeerks. Tobias is morally opposed, as Edelman shows that this has a pretty bad effect on the human host as well, but Tobias is a bird. Rachel argues that they should be trying to kill all of the Yeerks they can, but Jake and Ax bring up that this doesn’t KILL the Yeerks–it just gets them to lie dormant in their host’s head while also fucking up the host psychologically. He says that he wouldn’t want to do that to Tom. Jake brings up the Civil War, and how the Union ended slavery not by killing the slaves, but by fighting the slave owners. He decides they have to go back to the Yeerk Pool and mount a direct attack.

I don’t know. This is a nice moral issue, but the thing is, we’ve established that the Yeerks need to feed at the pool every three days to live. So couldn’t a controller just go on a 72 hour oatmeal bender until the Yeerk dies of starvation? I also don’t know about the slavery analogy–it’d be more apt if they were considering killing humans just to kill the Yeerks inside. Regardless, this is a pretty good scene. This whole episode has actually been good, minus how ridiculous the oatmeal idea is in concept.

Jake meets Marco and Cassie and Rachel at the fast food joint, which Tobias has ascertained is an entrance to the Yeerk Pool (I guess they couldn’t use the stupid door in the school again?). While Rachel creeps around trying to figure out the secret password to get in, Marco and Jake have a very un-Animorphs-TV conversation about how ridiculous the whole oatmeal idea is. “World War II–neither side used oatmeal.” It’s great.

"And then I was like, 'Hey, baby, I'm on after Are You Afraid of the Dark.'"

“And then I was like, ‘Hey, baby, I’m on after Are You Afraid of the Dark.'”

Rachel discovers that the code is to order “a cheeseburger, hold the cheese.” I believe the phrase from the book was “a Happy Meal, with extra happy,” but I guess McDonalds would’ve yelled .

They head up to the counter to talk with Chip, who is an asshole.

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They deliver the password and he sends them to the secret door in the most suspicious way anyone has ever done anything. Classic Yeerks.

The gang heads into the storage closet, and then to the secret door……and the Yeerk forcefield. Rachel steps through, but confusingly, it doesn’t fry her to death, but sets off an alarm.

morphsssssssssssssssBy the time Chip gets there, they’ve all transformed into bugs and headed back out. What the fuck. Chip finds no one there and just grins. This doesn’t make any sense.

Back in the barn, they explain to Ax that they “snuck under the door before the light could hit us.” Whatever. Ax explains the finer points of the “biofilter,” a stolen Andalite technology that will disintegrate you…on a convienent three-second delay. Cassie decides they should all be ferrets.

Note Ax not knowing how to sit.

Note Ax not knowing how to sit.

In the Ferret Field, Rachel turns into a ferret and heads down into a ferret-hole. This happens all off-screen, I guess, and we see everyone else standing around and talking about it. Ferret-Rachel pops her head back out to announce that she’s dug all the way into the Yeerk pool caverns. Oh my God, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Move over, cats!

Move over, cats!

Off-screen, they all Ferret their way into the cave. We catch up with them as humans again. Also, Tobias is down there–what the fuck? Did he fly down into the Earth through the ferret-hole? The kids sneak around, armed with…water balloons full of oatmeal. Oh. Ohhhhh. Oh.

There’s a funny bit where Marco asks Human Ax, “You can throw, can’t you?” and Ax assures him that he can before asking, “Marco, what is THROW?” The Ax humor really does work, guys, this kid can totally sell it.

"Marco? What is ANIMORPHS?"

“Marco? What is ANIMORPHS?”

A Hork-Bajir spots Cassie, so Tobias squawks and distracts him….and then a controller shoots and kills Tobias. Tobias, hit, falls from the sky as a limp, dead bird.

Oh

Oh

Rachel screams out in agony and runs after him. She’s shot at, too, which sends her flying into the Yeerk Pool.

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Well, shit.

Visser Trent shows up (fantastic). He and his goons watch the Yeerk Pool, waiting for Rachel to resurface. As he gloats, Rachel thought-speaks to Jake that she’s okay and that she’s already made it out. Ax threatens to poison the Yeerk pool if Visser Trent does not let them go. Trent’s like fuck that, there are five of you and thousands of us, I’ll let all of these Yeerks die to catch you. Then Rachel-Lion shows up, who knows how she got out of the Pool, and runs by Visser Trent, and for what seems like the fortieth time this season, he falls over like a doofus, this time landing in the pool.

morphsssssssssssssssssssssssThe Animorphs launch into action, tossing their balloons of oatmeal into the pool, and there’s no way to make that dramatic. After being pulled out of the pool, Visser Trent is hit in the face with a balloon. His soggy face wobbles as he bellows, “STOOOOOOP THEEEEEEEM.”

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I hate him.

The Animorphs make their escape while they are shot at and this happens:

Oh. Oh. Oh, no.

Oh. Oh. Oh, no.

Jake grabs Dead Tobias’s Dead Deceased Bird Body Corpse and is about to be evisicerated by a Hork-Bajir (man, there have been like four sightings of them in this episode) when Marco nails it with another balloon.

"I never got a chance to tell him he was creepy."

“I never got a chance to tell him he was creepy.”

The kids all escape up the staircase (which is definitely the same set from the firrst Yeerk Pool visit), Jake carrying dead Tobias like a football. They off-screen morph into ferrets and crawl up through the ferret-hole…which also raises questions about how Jake carried a dead bird up and out of the ground as a ferret.

The episode closes with an insane sequence of Rachel voice-over set to shots of the ocean, Visser Trent laughing maniacally, and Bird Tobias flying through the air.

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Well, I guess that’s it, guys. Tobias is dead.

Final Thoughts:

Wow, this episode sure was a real mixed-bag.

The oatmeal idea itself is completely ridiculous–you can’t use the word OATMEAL in a serious fashion–but the larger plot is pretty interesting, and a lot happens in this single episode. Edelman’s acting is not bad and he’s an incredibly interesting character who ends the episode still under Yeerk control despite all of his struggles. All of the “off-duty” scenes with the kids just hanging out or coming up with plans are very well done and feel authentic–this is the best job the show has ever done of nailing the feeling of friendship and camradarie present in the books. Ax’s humor continues to be great, and because there is no on-screen morphing, the dumb special effects are limited.

On the other hand, parts of it just absolutely make no fucking sense, which is really infuriating. Why did Rachel and Marco dress up like doctors when they could’ve easily morphed into adults/doctors (which they’ve been shown to do in other situations)? Why did the Biofilter vaporize a Hork-Bajir in seconds, but later it set off an alarm and took so long to function that the entire cast was able to morph and get out of the way? How the hell did Tobias get into the Yeerk pool, WHY did he even go there, and why was he SHOT AND KILLED, and how did they smuggle his corpse back out? Why did the episode end with shots of the ocean? Why was that fan so menacing, and WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CYBER-CAFE?

This episode was written by Jessica Scott and Mike Wollaeager. This is Jessica’s first episode of Animorphs, but she wrote two two-parters later in the series. Mike doesn’t seem to have an IMDB page. I hope Jessica’s later work shows the same quality this episode did.

Adaptation Rating: ?/5. Sorry guys, but this is based on THE UNDERGROUND, one of the few Animorphs books I don’t have in my collection. If anyone wants to talk about how well this episode was adapted, please do so in the comments, as I’m pretty interested.

Character Development: The characters actually have an ethical dilemma worth discussing. Ax drinks his first milkshake. Tobias is shot and killed.

Special Effects: 3/5, I guess? The Hork-Bajir and the Biofilter look dumb, but those were the only real effects, and there was no stupid Visser hologram this week.

’90’s Bullshit: Planet Hollywood. Arnold. Water Balloon Fights. Instant Oatmeal.

Overall Rating: 4/5. This is up there with “My Name is Jake, Part 1″ and “Best Friends” as being the better episodes of this series so far. The good parts here are better than those episodes, but it also has a lot of utter nonsense that those two avoided.

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of a Hork-Bajir flipping you off.

morphsssssssssssssssssssssssssssNext Week: We get an Ax-centric episode. I’m cautiously optimistic, because Human Ax has been great, but the Andalites look like shit all the time.

3 A.M. Netflix Nights: Bernie

Lately I’ve been going to bed at 5-6 a.m., so I’ve started watching all those movies on Netflix that I always pass up in favor of watching, I don’t know, Animorph-ass ANIMORPHS. So I thought, why not start posting little write-ups about them? I’m not going to take screencaps or anything, but if you wanna know what I thought, now you will know what I thought.

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Bernie is a Jack Black movie released in 2011, so Black’s mustachioed mug has been staring out at me from the Netflix selection screen for a while now. I really had no idea what this movie was about before going into it. Something in my brain had related it to the Black/Ben Stiller movie Envy from years ago, but not for any real reason. It’s not like that.

Bernie is a dark comedy done mockumentary-style, focusing on black as the title character: a chipper, flamboyant small-town funeral assistant who befriends the local Old Rich Bitch. And hey, this is probably one of Black’s better acting jobs, from what I’ve seen. Bernie is way more subdued than your average Jack Black cartoon-character, and all of his eccentricities are pretty memorable. Matthew McConaughey shows up now and again as the town sheriff.

The movie presents itself as a series of interviews in which the townspeople discuss Bernie’s life, which pulls you in pretty well. You start off just wanting to know about this offbeat character, and once that wears off, the narrative has dropped enough hints about the larger plot that you want to follow those threads and put things together. There are some “Oh, shit” moments, and the movie made me chuckle throughout, though honestly none of the gags really stuck with me enough to recall them today. And hey, it’s based on the true story of a real-life Bernie, so that puts a little more doc into the mock.

It kind of tapers off as it goes, though; once the “big oh shit” occurred, my interest waned more and more. The climax itself ends up being pretty dull, though the conclusion fit the movie well.

Should You Watch It? Yeah, sure. It’s something different, it’s Jack Black playing against-type, McConaughey does his whole shtick, you get it. Even if the last quarter is dull, this is a pleasant movie that you can watch on Netflix with your eyeballs.

ANIMORPHS Episode 6: The Message

Oh, it’s Friday, I guess.

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We start with a hawk’s-eye (read: brown-tinted) view of a field and a rabbit as Tobias the Bird flies around and considers eating it. This goes on for three years or four. Then at the last second before Tobias eats that bunny from the inside out, it screams out in Cassie’s voice: “Tobias, it’s me”

morphsOh, great, it’s a Cassie episode.

Cassie is always interesting.

Cassie is always interesting.

Cassie suddenly has a migraine as her brain is assaulted by a voice-over and footage of a spaceship falling out of the sky. It seems someone or something or whatever is crashing out of the space. Cassie falls over and goes into a coma and I am jealous.

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After the intro, Cassie and the the boys & bird are in the barn. She’s told them all about this spooky happening and OH WHO CARES, MARCO’S ORANGE JACKET IS BACK.

My special effects budget now matches the show.

My special effects budget now matches the show.

Also Rachel isn’t here. Guess she’s dead.

Cassie thinks the thing calling out to her dumb brain is an Andalite calling out to them for help. Marco and Jake aren’t so on board, afraid they’re going to end up going on a mall-ass mall adventure like the last time an alien contacted them.

The worst Drunken Barn Dance since '99.

The worst Drunken Barn Dance since ’99.

Meanwhile, in Dumb Yeerk Labs, Chubby Scientist and Visser Trent are still trying to unlock the secrets of the Andalite disk.

And the cure for baldness

And the cure for baldness

Chubby tells Visser Trent that his human morph is pretty hot, so Visser Three transforms into an alien’s arm on a stick and chokes him out, presumably as foreplay.

"I have the weirdest boner right now" - Visser "I know, it's on my shoulder" - Scientist

“I have the weirdest boner right now” – Visser
“I know, it’s on my shoulder” – Scientist

Cassie walks through the woods and continues getting mind-messages from the alien. Visser Trent receives them as well, and while Cassie just keeps making a headache face, the Visser responds by seizing about the lab and burbling “hrmrmrmrmrmrmmrmmrmrm”.

"hrmrmrmrmrmrm" - a paid actor

“hrmrmrmrmrmrm” – a paid actor

It’s a thing that was shown on television. Visser Trent surmises that “another one has landed.”

Cassie finds Jake and Marco at the Cyber Cafe. The Cyber Cafe.

"Another day of rollerblade shopping ruined."

“Another day of rollerblade shopping ruined.”

They all decide to discuss Cassie’s imaginary alien brain-buddy in a public setting. She tells them that her visions included “a forest…a fence…some kind of pipe.” That last bit really freaks Jake out, so I think we all know how this will end.

"Ah, pipe jokes, we meet again"

“Ah, pipe jokes, we meet again”

A convenient news broadcast tells the kids that a local area befitting that description has been closed off to public access.

The news, I guess

The news, I guess

Then a helicopter flies overhead for whatever reason. The gang assumes this must be the alien crash site, so they head off into the woods. Marco puts the hood up on his orange jacket, but the power it bestows is too much for him and he has it off by the next shot.

"Haha, Jake, look, a talking bird, lol"

“Haha, Jake, look, a talking bird, lol”

Cassie, Jake and Marco (seriously, did Rachel’s actress abandon the show?) find the abandoned woodland warehouse district and Cassie gets another headache. It seems someone has already cut open the fence, so they head inside. Unfortunately, Tom and his gang of Yeerks with flashlights show up and they have to hide. Tobias shows up and says he’ll keep a lookout for controllers as the others explore because renting that bird for another hour of filming would’ve been too much for the budget.

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The kids explore the building and I have to note that we’re halfway through the episode and the only “morphing” that has occurred was Cassie pointlessly being a rabbit at the start. Well, whatever, a shadowy Andalite grabs Cassie from behind, holding her captive or sexually harassing her.

Look at that cardboard-ass tail.

Look at that cardboard-ass tail.

Marco is like “Visser Three” and the Andalite is like “Racist orange asshole.” Jake name-drops Elfangor, which puts the Andalite at ease before he starts stroking out. Jake tells the Andalite that the Animorphs were Elfangor’s BFFs, but Visser Three starts calling out “Andalite cousin” over and over again, and the Andalite runs off to find him. The kids hide, at which point Cassie remembers that she can turn into animals. She becomes a skunk.

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The Andalite and Visser Three confront each other and it’s shot entirely in shitty silhouettes while musclehead extras stand around in the background questioning their purpose in life.

I'm blue, if I were green I would die...

I’m blue, if I were green I would die…

Jake and Marco do nothing while CassieSkunk skunks all over Visser Three and the Controllers, completely incapacitating them with her stinky asshole. The Animorphs escape by having a production assistant throw a stuffed skunk toy into Marco’s waiting arms. It looks fantastic. This show is fantastic. My life is fantastic.

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The kids and the Andalite escape into an enclosed alley between a bunch of abandoned buildings. The Andalite is like “yo this sucks” and the Animorphs are like “yeah that’s pretty much par for the course on this show.” They all acquire and morph a convenient butterfly (because I guess none of them have ever acquired any flight-capable animals because they’re all dumb assholes) and fly away.

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Then probably the most ridiculous scene so far happens, and for reference, the alien overlords were just a moment ago defeated by a skunk being too smelly. Visser Trent, in his human form for no reason, off-screen morphs into his Andalite form for just long enough to break down the door separating him and the Animorphs. Then he steps through the broken door in human form for no reason, and finds them gone, butterflying into the sky to go twice as high. He raises his stupid hands to the air and screams, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

"hrmrmrmrmrmrm"

“hrmrmrmrmrmrm”

The Animorphs hang out with their new Andalite buddy in the barn. They ask if he can help Tobias become a real boy but he is like Nawwwwww lol. Then he asks if they can take him to Elfangor, and they are like Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww ROFL. The Andalite flies into a rage and Tobias starts squawking for bird reason.

The kids chase the Andalite out into the woods, where Cassie has a heart-to-heart with his torso (since like all Andalites, his legs don’t seem to exist).

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Turns out Elfangor was the Andalite’s brother. Shit sucks. The Andalite tells them his name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (holy shit) and that’s he sorry for screwing up their day. Then, I’m not fucking kidding here, Rachel just strolls up out of NOWHERE and is like, “…what the fuck.”

"We were filming this week?"

“We were filming this week?”

They decide to shorten the Andalite’s name to Ax because no one can figure out how to pronounce that shit. Then Ax does this really weird thing where he absorbs the DNA of all four of them, and stirs it together in a cocktail to make one human morph that looks nothing like any of them. Then this happens. Forever.

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After all that shit, we end up with the kid from Road Trip. Totally worth it.

There’s a pretty good bit where Human Ax can’t comprehend walking with two legs or speaking with a mouth or only having one set of eyes. Jake promises that they’ll take of his dumb alien ass since all of his friends are dead. Ax bows down and pledges his loyalty to “Prince Jake.” He awkwardly shakes the hands of everyone involved EXCEPT TOBIAS BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY HANDS. A butterfly butterflies by. Whatever.

Final Thoughts:

Reading this review makes it seem like this episode wasn’t the bad I guess, but it was pretty stupid. It looked and felt a lot like a bad high school student short film where you just grab your buddies and a couple of props and film in whatever locations you can find that kind of look like the places you wrote about in your script. It should be sufficient to say that in the book, the kids morph into dolphins and swim to the bottom of the sea where they rescue Ax from inside of his crashed ship while fighting sharks and undersea monsters. In the show, they found him sitting in a warehouse and turned into butterflies.

Adaptation Rating: 0/5. Pretty much the opposite of the book.

Character Development: Ax is now a character who exists. Rachel vanished for a week and none of her friends noticed. Marco put the hood up on his orange jacket.

Special Effects: 0/5. Shadows: The TV Show

’90s Bullshit: Abandoned Woodland Warehouses, Cyber Cafes, Poorly Adapting Popular Scholastic Books

Overall Rating: 1/5. Gutter trash but that scene at the end with human Ax was kinda funny.

Next Week: I keep reviewing Animorphs.

ANIMORPHS Episode 5: Between Friends

The God of ’90s Nostalgia answered my prayers: this is a decent episode of ANIMORPHS.

morphs0We open on Rachel reading a magazine in bed while spooky camera angles stalk the exterior of her window. It’s the episode where Rachel gets sexually assaulted already? I figured that would be the season finale.

morphs1Rachel gets hella spooked and opens her window to investigate. A bird flies in and she screams, freaking the fuck out.

"WE'RE GONNA BE CANCELLED AFTER 1 1/2 SEASONS?"

“WE’RE GONNA BE CANCELLED AFTER 1 1/2 SEASONS?”

Oh, shit, it’s Tobias!

Remember Tobias? He's back! In bird form.

Remember Tobias? He’s back! In bird form.

Rachel is mad shocked that Tobias wasn’t captured and sent to Yeerk breeding camp or whatever aliens do with angsty teen boys in leather jackets. Tobias tells Rachel that during the Yeerk pool assault, he stayed in morph for more than two hours, and that he’s now permanently trapped in the body of a bird. Rachel says, “No!” Tobias responds with birdface.

"Bird." - Tobirdias

“Bird.” – Tobirdias

Rachel is in denial but Tobias is all, really, I’m stuck, there’s no turning back, no backing down, nowhere to hide, THEME SONG TIME Y’ALL. HOLD BACK THE DAAAAAAAAAAARKNESS.

At school, Rachel is wearing the same outfit she wore last week. She voice-overs that Tobias fucked up and is now stuck as a hawk. I already know that, Rachel. Marco and Jake show up at her locker, Marco yelling about how shitty it is that Tobias is now a bird. They decide to not yell about aliens in the hallway and reconvene at the barn later that night.

"mmm, overalls" - jake

“mmm, overalls” – jake

Rachel’s friend from last week, Melissa, shows up looking SAD. Rachel starts grilling her about the creepy alien club meetings she’s been attending. Hey, it turns out that Melissa’s dad is alien-infested Principal Chapman. That sounds like a premise to me!

Too sad for the mall.

Too sad for the mall.

In the barn, Rachel really wants to break into the Chapman house and “do something.” Jake tells her to simmer down. Rachel wants to morph into Chapman’s cat and infiltrate their house to save Melissa from being infested by her dad/looking too sad to shop.

Meanwhile, Marco is being an asshole

Meanwhile, Marco is being an asshole

At the Chapman house, Principal Chapman is having an awkward dinner with his daughter. Mrs. Chapman is out of town because the show didn’t want to pay another actress.

"I hate lizards. And cats. And potatoes."

“I hate lizards. And cats. And these potatoes.”

Rachel creeps around outside. Why is she breaking into their house at dinnertime? Jake was right, Rachel, this is a shitty plan.

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After almost being spotted, she either comes back later or goes around to the other side of the house (it’s hard to tell with this editing) so she can lure the cat outside with food and morph into it.Jake shows up too late to stop her from morphing into the cat and heading inside.

I can't wait to add this screenshot to my resume.

I can’t wait to add this screenshot to my resume.

At the dinner table (so I guess that settles that), Chapman sees Cat-Rachel and is all, “FUCK YOUR CAT MELISSA.” Man, I love that the Yeerk in Chapman’s head completely detests all animals with such fervor. Rachel cats her way down to the basement, where she goes human again and starts rummaging through Chapman’s tools (?). He’s about to go ruin her plan when neglected child Melissa desperately pleads for him to help her with her homework and tell her he loves her. Chapman is undeterred, but luckily he keeps stopping to do random tasks such as checking himself out in the mirror.

"Yes. I still look like me. GOOD."

“Yes. I still look like me. GOOD.”

As Chapman gets closer to the basement, Jake checks his watch and says, “C’mon, Rachel, let’s go.” What timetable is Jake operating under?

"We're gonna miss THE SECRET WORLD OF ALEX MACK, only on Nickelodeon!"

“We’re gonna miss THE SECRET WORLD OF ALEX MACK, only on Nickelodeon!”

Then the real cat gets back into the house, so Jake is really accomplishing a whole lot this week.

Chapman gets to the basement and the show does that thing again where someone is about to be caught but then the camera turns around and they’ve morphed an animal already. Chapman sees the cat and yells, “Cat!”, which cracked me up.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

Then Chapman goes into his secret room behind the walls and doesn’t notice that Cat-Rachel follows him in. Your enemies are literally defined by their ability to transform into animals. You’ve seen them be cats before. You deserve whatever you get, Chapman.

"Chapman!"

“Chapman!”

Anyway, Chapman calls up Visser Three on the shitty hologram phone. He tells the Visser that Melissa is getting suspicious and that humans are really hard to understand, man. Visser Three tells Chapman to stop crying already. He says that the homing device plan as “a fiasco,” which is a great description of last week’s episode, and that his Top Yeerk Scientists haven’t managed to unlock Elfangor’s disk.

Ugh

Ugh

Rachel spends the scene looking cute as shit, look at that cat!

morphs14Then the real cat shows up, and Chapman yell, “Cat!”. This is the best.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

In a much-more-bored tone, Chapman says, “Andalite. But which one.” Visser Three is like, “You’re kidding, right? This is why I choked you out in Episode 2. Just bring me both cats.” The cat playing Rachel does a pretty poor job of conveying her emotions because it is a cat.

"We find no levity in this misunderstanding." - Cats

“We find no levity in this misunderstanding.” – Cats

Due to how much of a fuck-up Chapman clearly is, Visser Three demands he brings Melissa along, too, so they can just put a slug in her ear already. Chapman takes off in his car, and Jake runs after it for a while before remembering that he can turn into a dog. If getting stuck in pipes is Jake’s biggest weakness, chasing cars is his biggest strength.

This was shown on television

This was shown on television

Chapman shows up at a swanky gated house and drives on it, Jake getting stuck outside. Because he has the power to morph into much smaller animals and animals capable of flight, Jake wastes his time digging a hole under the fence.

Chapman meets up with Visser Three and some goons and plops his cat carrier down because this is serious business. Visser Three looks worse than ever before. Rachel says, “Meow.”

"I am still cat."

“I am still cat.”

Visser Three morphs into a hideous bald man named Victor Trent because there’s no way they could’ve gotten that Visser costume to pick up and hold a cat.

I'm OUT I'm DONE It's OVER

I’m OUT I’m DONE It’s OVER

Jake, human again, sneaks toward the scene and says, “Hold on, cousin,” which couldn’t be a more awkward line (I’m sure the show will prove me wrong soon). Vissser Trent decides he will leave the cats locked in the carrier until the two-hour morphing limit expires and Rachel is trapped forever. He turns to Chapman, pissed that he didn’t bring Melissa. But that argument is cut short when Jake the Dog tackles the alien overlord to the ground. So why the fuck did he turn human a second ago?

Jake attempts to free Rachel from the cat carrier in the ensuing chaos of the Visser falling down, but he fails because he’s a dog. The flashlight goon squad grab him and tie him to a post. Visser Trent is just like “lol” and goes back to bitching about Chapman’s daughter.

Why did they bring the rope though

Why did they bring the rope though

So, it turns out Chapman became a voluntary Yeerk host on the condition that his daughter be left alone. Visser Trent rages about how the Yeerks do not negotiate with humans, and I’m left wondering the circumstances of this deal. Clearly more Yeerks than the one in Chapman’s head had to be involved, because it’s not like that particular Yeerk brain slug could just crawl over to Chapman’s house and strike up a deal with him. And I know there are voluntary controllers, but why would the Yeerks agree to such a deal? If Chapman was in the position of knowing about the Yeerks and their intentions, it was likely a scenario where they could’ve just forced him to become a controller—and even if they did strike this deal, once he was infested, he’d have literally no way of ever fighting back if they did infest his daughter. I don’t know, man. This doesn’t check out.

Visser Trent tries to stick his finger up Chapman’s nose, and that’s the last straw.

"Boop!"

“Boop!”

Chapman starts beating the shit out of the Visser and screaming, “Leave my daughter alone!”. So regardless of how it occurred, it turns out Chapman is a pretty cool guy and loves his daughter enough to temporarily break free of his Yeerk’s control.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

While the Visser concerns himself with helping Chapman’s Yeerk reassert control, Jake gnaws himself free of the rope and lets Rachel out. The two run off into the woods, Yeerk goons armed with laser-flashlights (I honestly can’t tell when their flashlights are guns and when they’re just flashlights). They’re almost caught but Tobias shows up to peck some Yeerk dude’s eyeballs out.

In the post-9/11 edit, the flashlights become walkie-talkies.

In the post-9/11 edit, the flashlights become walkie-talkies.

Chapman gives Visser Trent some line about how infesting Melissa would only anger his host more, and the Visser is like, “Fine, whatever, I don’t even care, she’s a fourteen year-old girl and not at all helpful to our war cause. I just can’t stand your shit anymore. Go home and yell at your cat.”

A bit later, Rachel and Jake walk down the street with Tobias on Jake’s arm. You can tell Shawn Ashmore is real psyched to be buddies with this bird.

Episode 5: Between Birds

Episode 5: Between Birds

Rachel apologizes for doing exactly what Jake said not to do and then almost getting both of them killed, but he is like whatever, I’ve got a bird.

Jake peaces out so Rachel and Tobias can have a heart-to-heart. Tobias says that being a bird is pretty chill because he gets to skip school. Rachel brings up the picture her sister took of the two of them, which is accompanied by a terrifying piss-yellow-toned epileptic flashback.

morphs30

Tobias doesn’t want to see it, but Rachel makes him look at it. Was she just carrying this photo around all day in case she saw Tobias again and she needed to make a speech?

We didn't have Katniss and Peeta, kids. THIS IS ALL WE HAD, AND WE LOVED IT

We didn’t have Katniss and Peeta, kids. THIS IS ALL WE HAD, AND WE LOVED IT

Anyway, she tells him, “The guy in the photo is still you, and we’re gonna get him back.” She tells him to never forget that his human self still exists, and Tobias says, “Maybe I want to forget.”

"I need to forget what a doofus I looked like."

“I need to forget what a doofus I looked like.”

Then he flies away without saying goodnight. Good to know he’s still a dick.

At school, Rachel leaves a note for Melissa that says, “Your father loves you more than you can know,” signed “A Friend.” Melissa decides not to kill herself for now and the two make plans to go shopping or talk about boy butts or whatever teenage girls do. Rachel’s textbook is titled “MATHPOWER.”

"Butts?"" "LOL, butts."

“Butts?””
“LOL, butts.”

Final Thoughts:

This episode was fine, and next to the last two atrocious entries, it looked even better. They covered the entire plot of Book 2: The Visitor, and considering what they had to work with, they did so pretty pragmatically. Despite some minor bits of confusion (why did Jake morph from dog to human to dog again in the span of thirty seconds? Why did Visser Three become Visser Trent for no stated reason other than to make filming easier), they wrote a solid story that made sense this week, and I’m thankful for that.

The biggest fault I can find is that even though this is a Rachel episode, we learn way more about the Chapmans than we do about her. Because we don’t have access to her internal thoughts, Rachel has no dialogue at all when she’s lurking in the Chapman house as a cat or when she’s brought to Visser Three (until Jake rescues her), and that’s a huge portion of the episode, so most of her screentime is just shots of a cat doing cat stuff. When we did get to see her as human-Rachel, we saw much more of her aggressive, “we need to get shit done” personality than we did in the first few episodes, which is nice.

The Tobias situation is weird and not handled that well. They really stretched out getting to the reveal of him being stuck as a hawk (which occurs at the end of the first book), but then really rushed through the reveal itself. The book also kinds of glances over it, but two books later we get one completely focused on him. I’m not sure when we’re going to get a similar episode (if we ever do), so it’s very likely that we’re not going to get much of one of the better book storylines.

Adaptation Rating: 4/5. Not a 1:1 adaptation, but they made the best episode out of Book 2 that they probably could have.

Character Development: Tobias is a bird now. Chapmans are people, too.

Special Effects: 2/5. I don’t know. Visser Three looked shittier than before, but I guess the couple of morphing shots didn’t look that bad. Or did they look completely terrible? I honestly can’t tell the difference anymore. This is the fifth episode.

’90s Bullshit: “Cat!”

Overall Rating: 4/5. If this was the only episode of ANIMORPHS I had ever seen, I would think it looked like a decent show.

Next Week: The Animorphs discover an injured Andalite on Earth in what is sure to earn a 1/5 Adaptation Rating.

ANIMORPHS Episode 4: On the Run

I had a really shitty week, you guys, and now I have to review this dumbass episode of ANIMORPHS. This is easily the worst episode yet, and it’s got a special place in my heart as the episode that made me give up all hope of this show being watchable.

In better news, it turns out ANIMORPHS was added to Netflix in early July. Now maybe my screenshots won’t look so terrible and someone will read this blog. It’s an Animorphs renaissance, so let’s watch Episode 4: On the Run.

morphs0

We open with Marco—sans orange jacket, unfortunately—doing some computer nonsense at…I don’t know, it’s some kind of cyber cafe. It’s entirely neon green and silver and couldn’t be more 1998. Jake comes in with his dog because apparently he just brings him everywhere.

Whatever happened to the Beast Wars arcade

Whatever happened to the Beast Wars arcade

Marco is having a “Yeerk-free day” and shopping online for roller blades. The site he is on…let’s just say that of all the websites that have ever not existed, this one existed the least.

I was born in the right generation.

I was born in the right generation.

They start arguing about rollerblades (is this what teenagers did in the ’90s?) until the footage slows down so Jake can have another voice over about how his life isn’t normal anymore. Then Marco joins in the voice over, too.

After that waste of time, every computer in this ridiculous place starts fucking up. The screens fizzle out to an image of the Andalite disk, with the caption WE KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. Marco and Jake say “No way!” at the same time. I say that, too, for a different reason.

I especially like that Visser Three's intern put some spinning word-art on the left side.

I especially like that Visser Three’s intern put some spinning word-art on the left side.

The computer promises “1 ANDALITE FOR THE DISK” which, okay, that’s inane. “But,” you might say, “doesn’t Jake carry the disk with him at all times, as established last episode?”. Yeah, they thought of that. Jake sticks his hand in his jean-jacket pocket, comes up empty, and says, “Oh, man, I lost the disk.”

"Maybe I dropped it in that pipe i got stuck in today"

“Maybe I dropped it in that pipe i got stuck in today”

After the theme song, Jake’s dog is still in a cyber cafe. Jake wants to e-mail the Yeerks about the disk and Marco is like, “That’s stupid.” Jake wants to arrange a meeting place to trade an Andalite for the disk, then just take the disk and not give them an Andalite. Solid plan I guess.

At school, Friday is hot dog day.

Fuck yes finally

Fuck yes finally

Rachel and Cassie run into Rachel’s friend Melissa. She’s going to The Sharing and tries to bug them into going with her. Cassie is all “fuck that i’d rather wear overalls” but Rachel agrees that they’ll both come. Cassie is pissed until Rachel reminds her that Tobias has been missing for like days and The Sharing is their best chance at getting information about him if he’s been captured. Yeah, good point, Rachel. What’s Marco doing spending his day buying roller blades? Tobias is probably dead.

Back at the cyber cafe, Tom shows up to call Jake and Marco losers. Then he’s like “Jake, why the fuck did you bring our dog here?” and takes Homer home him. So why was Homer even there? Jake starts chatting with the Yeerks via e-mail, telling them to meet him at the mall in an hour. Marco is pissed.

What an asshole

What an asshole

At The Sharing, which basically looks like a Boys & Girls Club, the girls hang out with Melissa. Turns out there’s a secret backroom where most of the members, including Melissa, don’t get invited. Rachel ditches to the bathroom, leaving Cassie to deal with Melissa’s bullshit. In the stall, Rachel off-screen-morphs into a fly, and we get a lot more filtered POV shots. They’re blue this time.

woah what

woah what

At the mall, Marco (and his orange jacket! Yahoo!) walks into the pet store with Lizard-Jake in one pocket. Marco shoves Jake into a terrarium and bounces.

Boris is worried someone will notice he is on ANIMORPHS

Boris is worried someone will notice he is on ANIMORPHS

Fly-Rachel spies on the Controllers in the secret room. They’re legitimately the worst actors on the show so far. The worst of the worst smacks Fly-Rachel, so I guess she is dead.

Fuck her for real

Fuck her for real

At the mall, Marco hits on a mall cop. He’s actually acquiring his DNA via handshake. In the books, whether or not it was okay to steal a human being’s identity by morphing into their shape was a big point of dissension among the kids. Some of them thought it was pretty morally fucked up, and they argued about it a lot. On the show, Marco just does it. This doesn’t really matter that much, but it’s a pretty good example of the books’ moral and ethical dilemmas being completely ignored. Anyway, Marco tries to morph into the mall cop, but it doesn’t work for no established reason. His hair looks extra stupid today.

10

The Controller conducting the Andalite-for-a-disk trade shows up and he looks like this, so there’s that.

11

He walks around the pet store yelling “ANDALITE!” at random rabbits and birds while Jake talks to him in thought-speak. This is a pretty good plan on Jake’s part, and is something they would pull off in the book. But this bodybuilder guy squatting around the pet store and screaming at random animals is the silliest shit. Jake eventually convinces him to toss the disk on a random terrarium.

"ANDALITE?" - douche

“ANDALITE?” – douche

Marco finally shows up, and Jake is pissed that he’s still Marco; apparently he was supposed to morph into the mall cop and arrest the Controller for trying to steal the “Andalite” animal out of the store. While Jake bitches at him, the Controller prepares to punch a parrot in the face.

This is my favorite screenshot yet.

This is my favorite screenshot yet.

While the Controller is distracted by a store clerk, Marco grabs the disk and Jake and heads out of the store. Then another one of those unexplainable Ani-TV things happens. The mall cop grabs Marco, telling him he’s under arrest for shoplifting a lizard, and we fade to commercial. When we come back, there’s a quick shot of the mall cop running around looking for someone, and then we see that Marco has morphed to a rat and is hiding in human-Jake’s pocket. What the hell happened there? How did they get away? Whatever.

"Watch out! I gotta find my career!"

“Watch out! I gotta find a better acting gig!”

Then…fuck this.

I wish I were on the run

I wish I were on the run

A huge van pulls up to the mall. In the back are two more controllers who are even worse at their jobs of controlling/acting. And they’re adults, too, so they have no excuse. They’re chatting with a hologram of Visser Three’s head. Apparently the disk has a homing device on it, so they’re gonna track the Andalites down.

Good.

Good.

Marco demorphs. Jake says, “Give me the disk so we can get out of here,” but it turns out Marco “put it on the ground next to some plastic bags” before he became a rat. What the hell happened this time? How did this chain of events ever come to pass? Why would he leave the disk on the floor of a public place when it’s been established they can morph just fine with the device in their pocket? This is the most disjointed and pointless storytelling I can imagine. The disk is gone and the plastic bags are being carried away by a janitor, so Marco and Jake give chase. He’s like “Fuck you guys, my life is a disaster, you guys can go through these bags and find it if you want.” So Marco jumps into a dumpster.

An apt metaphor

An apt metaphor

Marco bitches about their day, saying, “Morph into a guard, whose plan was that?”. But what does that even matter? He never even morphed into the guard, for unspecified reasons. Jake decides that he is gonna go a snack from the food court in the middle of this very important mission. Literally the moment he leaves, a garbage truck drives up menacingly. It picks up the dumpster with Marco inside while he vaguely complains about it. Marco gets dumped into the truck along with the bags of garbage. The walls start to close in, ready to crush him. Shouldn’t have taken off the magic jacket!

Jake shows back up, food and jacket in tow. He sees the garbage truck and realizes, oh shit, I guess you shouldn’t go get a hot dog in the middle of a mission. He does a weird jump-cut morph into Homer and chases the truck.

At The Sharing, Tom shows up and creeps on Cassie and Melissa. Then Rachel reappears, so I guess she’s absolutely fine. Good cliffhanger, guys. Rachel and Cassie leave because Tom creeps them the fuck out. Have I ever mentioned that Rachel is Jake and Tom’s cousin? She is. Now we all know. Tom is just like “fuck it sucks when your cousin is hot.”

I kind of think the actor just got bored and started hitting on his co-workers.

I kind of think the actor just got bored and started hitting on his co-workers.

Marco and Jake end up back at the cyber cafe, where Rachel and Cassie are waiting. We learn that Jake “had to bail him out of the city dump.” So I guess he just didn’t get crushed, and Jake chased a truck around for a while as a dog. This is like the third shitty cliffhanger this week that was completely resolved off-screen. The girls catch them up on what they learned at The Sharing, which is basically “there is a secret room and Tom is creepy-looking.” Marco is like “hey look what we got” and shows them the disk, and they’re probably like, how the fuck did you lose it in the first place?

Then the Controller/Shitty Actor Squad shows up in the mall, having gained a third member and wielding Dollar Store spaceship toys and flashlights—literally, just flashlights—as weapons.

Surprisingly, author K.A. Applegate didn't enjoy this series.

Surprisingly, author K.A. Applegate didn’t enjoy this series.

In the cafe, Rachel tells the guys that this isn’t even the real disk. It’s heavier than she remembers, so I guess her logic is full-proof. Marco and Jake wonder why they wasted 22 minutes of their lives. I wonder the same. The girls figure out in 30 seconds that the fake disk is a tracking device. The Shitty Squad stalks around the mall, and this goes on for far too long, so I’ll just skip to the punchline: the kids stick the tracking device in an elevator, totally blowing their stupid alien brains. Everyone, Controller and Animorph alike, decides this adventure was fucking stupid and calls it a day.

"We accomplished nothing." - Characters, Writers

“We accomplished nothing.” – Characters, Writers

The kids walk home and Jake and Marco talk about how they are best friends. No matter what happens, they will always be able to talk about roller blades. Meanwhile, Tobias is probably dead in a sludgey alien gutter.

gap

Final Thoughts:

Man, last week’s episode had a really terrible climax, but “On the Run” is like that hellish ten minutes spread across an entire episode. Jake and Marco’s plot has a setup without any logic—Jake loses the disk without ever noticing, he and Marco just happen to be in the one place where the Yeerks are broadcasting a nonsense negotiation demand—and in the end, it turns out to be meaningless. Then where the actual disk go? Did Jake really just drop it somewhere, and the Yeerks picked it up? Cassie and Rachel’s plot also had no point, they learned nothing about anything. The entire episode feels pointless—the synopsis is “Animorphs go to the mall, meaningless shit keeps happening to them off-screen, then they go home.”The biggest problem—in addition to the shitty-ass acting from literally every one-off character involved—is that no less than three times, we go to commercial with a character in mortal peril, only for them to completely escape the situation off-screen by the time we come back to them. That’s some shitty-ass writing. This episode really sets up the problem with this TV show—even when they contain the plots to human antics so they can save money on the CGI/animal budget, everything still happens off-screen. Nothing flows together. It’s like watching someone’s boring dream.

Adaptation Rating: 0/5. It didn’t adapt anything.

Character Development: Marco and Jake will always be best friends and no one gives a shit that Tobias died for their rollerblading sins.

Special Effects: 1/5. There’s only one on-screen morphing shot, and it’s of Marco’s hand turning black as he tries to morph the mall cop. Also, the Yeerk weapons are flashlights.

’90s Bullshit: Cyber Cafes, taking your dog to the mall, rollerblading, hitting on your younger cousin.

Overall Rating: 1/5.

Next Week: We finally reach Book 2 and it has to better than this.