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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Controller conducting the Andalite-for-a-disk trade shows up and he looks like this, so there’s that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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New review on Friday, it’s one of the worst episodes of television I’ve ever seen, gonna be great.
Guys, I’m starting to think this show isn’t very good.
This episode is narrated by Marco’s shoes.
Marco walks down a suburban street, having a voice over about paranoia—wait, we did this already. This is the same scene as Jake’s at the beginning of Episode 2, only instead of staring at lawnmower men and babies, Marco keeps getting freaked out by…doors. Okay. This war is effecting Marco’s mind more than expected.
One of these suspicious doors turns out to be that of Jake’s house (foreshadowing?), so Marco walks up to it and knocks. The wooshing camera from the end of Evil Dead zooms in on the back of Marco’s head as an intruder startles him into turning around. It turns out to just be Jake’s hideous older brother, Tom.
Tom is described in the books as being a good-looking high school jock, so I don’t know why they cast this dude who looks like he’s 30 and also undead. Tom lets Marco in, and our favorite orange-jacketed ’90s icon since Kenny from South Park heads up to Jake’s bedroom, where the whole Animorph crew (plus Homer) have assembled to check out Elfangor’s disk by shoving it into Jake’s computer. I have no idea why the entire group needed to be assembled for such a task, as this has to be at least a day after they retrieved the disc. Did Jake just come home and leave the possible weapon/source of information/greatest asset they have sitting on his desk while he played Beast Wars: The Home Version all night? Maybe he just wanted an excuse to get Cassie in his bedroom. Dem overalls, man.
Oh, it turns out Marco has to put the disk into the computer, because he’s “the computer whiz.” This is a detail the books often used to have Marco hack into protected files and shit, which is stupid. Here, Marco’s computer whiz ability is needed…to put the disc into an external CD drive (which couldn’t look more ’90s). As for the computer itself? I don’t know, I was only like seven years old in 1998, but no computer I ever used growing up had a screen like this.
Marco type-type-types away but the computer gives him an “unable to open file” message. He’s goddamn lucky it will even do that much, or that this alien piece of technology didn’t burst Jake’s Earth computer into flames. One of the other boys tells Marco to “try Alt-Esc-X,” and nothing comes up when I Google that, so the computer gives up and says “SYSTEM FAILURE.” Marco snarks, “It worked in Independence Day,” so maybe I’m not getting a cultural reference here. Or maybe Marco is going to welcome the Yeerks to Earf.
Tom pops his head into the room and is all HEY ARE YOU GUYS SUPERHEROES IN HERE. They cover pretty well and he peaces out to do whatever 40 year-old men who live with their parents do. Marco goes to close the door behind him and sees…this.
Because the show has to get across plot points in a quicker, more-direct manner, and because they don’t have the benefit of the books’ internal monologues, one of the sillier solutions they often turn to is associating Yeerk behavior with very obvious ear-related ticks like this. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it looks bad, and gives the bizarre impression that all controllers spend half their day itching their inner ear. Not that I’m saying Tom is a Controller or anything. However, given this evidence, Hannah from Girls probably is, explaining her toxic influence on the world around her (and why she’s infested our hearts).
Regardless, this ear fixation freaks Marco out. He exchanges a few long looks with, for some reason, Tobias. After the commercial break, the entire gang plus their mascots Homer and Marco’s jacket head out into Jake’s driveway. They decide to plan their next move tomorrow, and everyone except Marco leaves without saying goodbye. They all just kind of walk away. It’s weird. Marco and Jake start playing basketball. When Tom comes out through the front door, Jake asks him to play because Marco is like 3 feet tall. Tom blows them off because he has plans; Jake assumes he’s playing in the high school basketball game. It turns out he quit the team, probably because he’s 45 and needs to go work at the docks to provide for his wife and children. No, actually he’s going to The Sharing, “a new club” that “everyone” is joining. Jake thinks it’s super weird that Tom quit the basketball team to join what appears to be the cult from that Boy Meets World episode. Tom tells him that basketball is for squares, then launches into a sales pitch for The Sharing about how cool it is and how many chicks the boys could fuck if they joined.
After Tom leaves, Jake is left dealing with a mental breakdown over his quitting of the basketball team. Marco brings up how weird Tom is being, and how anyone could be a Controller. Jake gets pissed off and says there’s no way, but Marco says, “Have you looked in his ear lately?,” and knowing this show, I half-expect the next scene to be Jake shining a flashlight in Tom’s ear while he’s asleep. Jake throws a basketball at Marco and says, “Your dad really sucks lately. Maybe he sucks because he’s a controller. He sucks.” Marco goes home to tell his dad that Jake doesn’t approve of him and they can’t hang out anymore.
At Dead Mom Apartments, Marco comes home to find his dad watching a public-domain werewolf movie and giving up on his life.
Marco asks how his dad’s job interview went, but it turns out he canceled it. Marco is pretty unhappy but not surprised. He takes off his orange jacket, sacrificing the incredible superpowers it brings him for the sake of not being too warm. Turns out his dad went and put flowers on Marco’s dead mom’s grave instead. Marco rewards his refusal to move on with a pizza.
Meanwhile, Tobias walks Rachel home and they flirt/provide backstory.
Turns out Tobias lives with his aunt, but used to live with his (unrelated) uncle; he gets passed around a lot. Rachel mentions that she saw a hawk flying over her house that morning. Tobias is like “It totally wasn’t me and I totally didn’t watch you get changed through your bedroom window.” Then Tobias says, “Do you ever wish you could just…fly away?” and the sappiest piano music ever comes on. The two stare longingly back and forth and until Rachel says, “Sometimes.” Then Rachel’s little sister spoils the moment by taking a picture of them. Later, Rachel will strangle her with that necklace from the last episode.
At school, Marco runs into Chapman, who is a huge dick to him about his dropping grades. Chapman’s solution is that Marco should join The Sharing, which there is a banner for hanging in the hallway. Then Chapman tries to stomp on a lizard, probably because the Yeerk in his head thinks it might be an Andalite spy, but I like to think he just fucking hates lizards.
Marco meets Jake in the empty science lab where they hang out with a lizard that Jake didn’t earlier drop onto the floor and unleash into the populace to wreak havoc (Jake is the real monster here, isn’t he?). They make up, then overhear Chapman in the hall and start eavesdropping. For some reason, he and a twelve year-old Controller are discussing the fact that they are aliens in the middle of the hall during a school day. Chapman says that they believe surviving Andalites are hiding in the area, using teenage human morphs. Chapman says he’s gonna “Check the entrance to the pool.” Jake and Marco come up with a plan
Cut to the two morphed as lizards, because special effects are expensive. They run around the hall looking for Chapman, most of which is shown as first-person shots with a green filter over them. Jake says it’s super weird that he can’t see colors, but aren’t dogs also colorblind? I’m not going to look that up, though, so who knows. Chapman unlocks the janitor’s closet, where he meets with a surprising ally.
Tom turns a handle on the sink, which causes a wall to move within the closet, revealing a cavernous staircase downward. Jake is flipping the fuck out. Chapman tells Tom, “Very impressive, but it’s been three days. Regeneration must begin at sundown.” Tom agrees, “We need the Kandrona nutrients.” He asks how many new hosts will be there tonight, and Chapman says they’ve gotten at least fifty from The Sharing, but he’s pissed that Jake isn’t among them. Tom says that Jake “has a very strong will,” but whatever, he could just shove a slug into Jake’s ear in the middle of the night and be done with it. Then Chapman notices the two lizards who are chilling on an eye-level shelf and watching them. He picks up Marco, who is unhappy about it.
To escape, Marco…detaches his tail from his body and falls to the floor. Can lizards do that? Maybe he could manage it by forcibly pulling away from the tail held by Chapman. Maybe. I don’t know enough about lizard science to prove things either way. They both escape and demorph inside of lockers. “Next time,” Marco quips, “we use a phonebooth.”
That night, the assembled team walks toward Mission Fuck the Yeerk Pool in the Butt. Do Yeerks have butts? None of them have a boom box this time, so we’re good to go. Cassie tells Jake she’s sorry about Tom, and Jake swears they’re going to go on a roaring rampage of revenge and save him. The gang finds themselves at the zoo where Cassie’s mom works so they can acquire more capable morphs. One of my least-favorite changes about Marco in the show is that he keeps doing that George Lopez thing where he ends his sentences with Spanish words on a random basis. Also his haircut is stupid.
Cassie lets Jake into the Bengal Tiger cage. This whole scene, by the way, has a lot of comedic bits in it, like Jake and Marco arguing over who will climb over the fence only for Cassie to have the keys, or Cassie making animal noises to calm down the tiger and receiving WTF looks from everyone. This is pretty reminiscent of the books, where the kids exchanged a LOT of banter and jokes whenever they were on a mission. This is an element that gets lost in the TV show a lot, but it’s nicely displayed here. Jake acquires the tiger, who I am fucking in love with.
On an unrelated note, Jake has an orgasm.
Rachel acquires a lion, and I guess that’s it? In the books, they each get their own iconic morph for battle; Jake a tiger, Rachel an elephant, Marco a gorilla, and Cassie a wolf (more on Tobias later); I guess when it comes to working with animals, you have to take what you can get. On the way to the school, Jake mentions that he’s started carrying the disk on him all times, lest Tom find it in his bedroom. Although in this particular situation it makes little sense, considering they KNOW Tom is gonna be at the Yeerk Pool. It also raises the question of how do the kids morph while wearing clothes and carrying items like the disk on their person (as they can’t do that in the book), but let’s just roll with that, too.
At the school, controllers walk in slow-motion toward the Pool entrance. The kids easily blend in because the Yeerks have no security in place.
They head down into the Yeerk Pool, a huge cavern with a big sludge-pool in the center. Visser Three watches from high above, making sure life sucks for everyone, and the air is filled with human screams. The Visser gurgles something about going to hang out in his chambers because the show can’t afford to show him for more than two shots a week. Cassie gets separated from the group for no real reason.
While their Yeerks pop out of their heads for a recharging dip in the pool, hosts are kept behind these laser grids (though they don’t seem too bummed about it, as I guess the director forgot to direct them) and guarded by Hork-Bajir. One Hork-Bajir. One Hork-Bajir head wobbling around. They do show the Hork-Bajir in a full-body shot now and again (twice so far), and it looks so stupid that I really want to show you, but the shot is always too dark to really survive as a 500×300 screenshot. One day, guys. One day.
The kids…stand around. I guess they should’ve brought a boombox. Tom’s Yeerk goes for a swim and he freaks out the second he’s free, but is restrained. Some bald dude yells at the kids to get in line, but Tobias tells him they report directly to Visser Three. The dude totally buys it. What is wrong with these aliens?
Cassie ends up at the front of the drop-off-your-Yeerk line, and when she sits there not doing anything, the enemy finally gets suspicious. The others duck into a little nook and decide they need to distract the Yeerks, so Tobias melts into a bird.
Cassie fools them herself by picking up a rock, holding it next to ear, and dropping it into this pool. This works even though there are literally three men watching her do this. She puts on a big show of being “free” and something weird happens. The three men restrain her. Then Lion-Rachel shows up and throws one of the men into the pool. Cassie shoves a second man in…and the third man is just fucking gone. He vanished from the scene. Whatever.
Hey, there’s a Hork-Bajir!
Some bullshit happens. Lion-Rachel runs around the cave. The same shot of Visser Three from earlier says, “What’s going on here?”, even though he was supposed to be in “his chambers.” Marco, not morphed into anything, runs behind a Human-Controller and flips a switch. The guy cartoonishly turns around one second too late to see Marco and says, “HUH?”. Also, he’s the disappearing third man from Cassie’s scene! What the fuck!
The switch turns off the laser grid, freeing a bunch of people, who immediately trample a Hork-Bajir like Black Friday Shoppers. The same shot of Visser Three is all, “Fuck.” Rachel and Cassie head up the exit staircase during the chaos, but Jake, realizing he hasn’t done anything in this scene, morphs into the Tiger.
Tiger-Jake starts chasing someone…but the guy he’s chasing was already terrified and running for the exit, so it really seems like Jake is chasing a freed human back into the cave for no reason. Chapman yells at Disappearing Huh Guy, “Hey, there’s a fucking switch that closes the door everyone is escaping through, why don’t you hit it, why did we put you in charge of Switches?”. The guy does, but Cassie and Rachel are already out. A bunch of people get trapped below and dragged back into the cave, though, including Tom.
And then…what the fuck? Jake is human again! He literally did NOTHING as a tiger but chase one guy who may or may not have been a free human. Chapman chases Jake to the locked exit door, but he morphs a lizard off-screen and slithers out. Then Visser Three chokes out Chapman for being a failure.
Cut to Jake, Cassie, Rachel and Marco running down the street together. They just ran all the way from the school as humans? That wasn’t suspicious? They can turn into literally anything but themselves!
Marco has another voice-over about how being an Animorph sucks, but seeing Jake’s brother and other Yeerk captives made him realize how lucky he was. Marco points to a nearby hawk and says, “Tobias. He did it again. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be roadkill.” I guess that must have happened off-screen, because all I saw Tobias do was fly past a Hork-Bajir. Then it turns out that it’s just a bird and Tobias isn’t there. These guys are always forgetting Tobias exists, Jesus. Rachel has a panic attack over the possibility of Tobias being left behind. Jake says he’s sure Ol’ Wolf made it out, but everyone is pretty unsure. The sad Tobias piano from earlier kicks in as they all start shouting his name into the dark, wondering where he could’ve gone. Then I go outside and shout this show’s name into the dark, wondering where the quality went.
This episode started off fine, but once they got to the Yeerk Pool, holy shit was everything stupid. Straying from the source material is one thing, but that climax couldn’t even keep its own continuity straight. Characters disappeared mid-scene, the Yeerks are absolutely brain-dead, and no one actually did anything. Let’s compare this to the source material.
In the book, the Animorphs head into the Yeerk pool to save Cassie, who has already been taken by the Yeerks. They save her by engaging in a bloody battle with all five of them in battle morphs. Despite this, they only manage to save a single civilian, and Tobias makes a heroic sacrifice and ends up left behind.
In the show, the Animorphs all bumble into the Yeerk Pool and Cassie wanders into the wrong line, but is able to fool our alien invaders with a rock. Tobias morphs into a hawk and flies around doing literally nothing. Rachel morphs into a lion and knocks one dude into the pool. Marco doesn’t morph at all, hits a switch to free everyone in sight, and a TON of people escape. Jake morphs for no reason, chases a dude who was so poorly directed as to completely ruin the scene’s intent, and then runs away. Then it takes everyone 10 minutes of escaping to realize they’ve been talking to a random bird instead of Tobias.
I was looking forward to this episode because it adapted book material and I remembered the climax being interesting and different from the usual Ani-TV fare. Instead, it was complete nonsensical bullshit. Also, Marco was the narrator, but then he didn’t even morph during the climax but still learned a stupid lesson about lucky he was. Fuck this.
Adaptation Rating: 2/5. Both of those points are for the first 15 minutes of the episode. This episode used the rest of Book 1: The Invasion for its plot; the stuff with Marco and his dad was loosely adapted from Book 5: The Predator, but so loosely that it doesn’t really matter. They did fine adapting Marco and Jake arguing about Tom and the lizard stuff, but that entire climax was a total disaster. I do want to point out, now that we’ve reached the end of Book #1, that even though Episode 2 really fucked with Tobias’s character, it was nice to see him get more screen-time than he does in the first book.
Special Effects: 1/5. This is going to be a common rating. They used the same stock footage of Visser 3 like three times, and we had already seen it before. The Yeerk pool looked bizarre. The Hork-Bajir always look ridiculous, but seeing one get trampled by a bunch of barely-interested escaping humans was hilarious.
Character Development: Tobias and Rachel keep making googly-eyes at each other. Tobias has a shitty home life. Jake realizes he has a personal stake in this fight against the Yeerks. Marco learns even though it’s shitty to be Marco, it’s even worse to be Tom.
’90s Bullshit: External CD drives. Computers from the ’80s. Shitty writing and directing.
Overall Rating: 2/5. The first half was fine, and it should be clear that the second was the worst this show has offered yet. I did like the actual ending shot of the kids despairing over Tobias, though. What happens to him in the books kind of gets glanced over because Book 1 moves so fast; it was nice to see some genuine reaction, and our first episode ending that isn’t just a Mission Accomplished.
Next Week: The episode that made me lose all faith in the show during my first watch-through.
Since I posted the first ANIMORPHS review last week, this site has seen a (comparatively) huge spike in traffic. We got over 100 views that day for the first time (we used to average about 10 views a day, 40 that time I talked about Girl Meets World) and since then, we’ve gotten at least 30 views a day. I’m mostly blaming Reddit for this. Also, people are still finding this blog by searching dog with a blog porno, which is unsettling. Anyway, I wrote this, now read it with your eyes.
Since we only covered a third of the first book last time, Jake is still our narrator. We catch up to him still walking down the same street from the beginning of episode one, voice-overing about how the Yeerks could be anyone—even a lawnmower man.
As Jake passes by random people on the street, the camera flips the fuck out at each of them to exemplify his paranoia. It comes across as pretty hokey, because these people look more than unassuming—they look silly, and throwing the camera at their skulls doesn’t make them spooky.
When he’s done having an episode, Jake stops by the abandoned construction site. It’s been covered in police officers and haz-mat goons. Secret Agent Jake infiltrates the area in his least-suspicious morph: a gawky teenager named Jake. This is the first instance of a huge reoccurring problem on the show: because CGI is expensive and scenes focused around animals are difficult to film, the Animorphs often don’t morph at all, and just blunder around in their secret identities for no reason. Jake sees Chapman yelling about Andalite bandits or whatever and gets the fuck out.
Fuck yeah, a llama!
We get a bunch of animal shots with some deer and what I think might be a caribou and, finally, a horse. Tobias/Wolf is staring at the horse, being a creep as usual.
In the book-TV conversion, Tobias suffers pretty hard. On the bright side, he gets more screen-time than in the first book. Unfortunately, it’s mostly used on him standing around being a weirdo, staring at people and randomly disappearing, and everyone kind of thinks he’s a creep. Book-Tobias had a lot of angst, but he was also a pretty optimistic kid who was fucking psyched to transform into birds and shit so he could fly away from his problems. TV Tobias freaks me the fuck out.
It turns out we’re at the Wildlife Preserve run by Cassie’s parents. Mama Cassie shows up and is like, “Hey weird kid, are you looking for my daughter? Because I’ll call the cops.” Tobias is too busy eye-fucking the hawk she’s carrying around to answer. Marco and Rachel show up and are all, “It’s chill, this is Tobias, we don’t have any proof yet that he’s killed anyone.”
Mama Cassie brings them into the barn, which is full of animals, and Tobias is still freaking out over his hawk. It turns out the hawk’s mother was killed by a poacher. Tobias and Marco sympthasize with that, which certainly can’t be an important character detail for later.
Jake shows up, too, looking for Cassie, and her mom peaces out to find her. Jake calls a secret meeting of the Animorphs in the AniBarn, but Tobias just starts petting the damn bird. Jake tells Marco and Rachel about his visit to the crash site, and they deduce that the Yeerks have infiltrated the police. Jake yells at Tobias to stop fucking around and tell him about the disk he dropped. Tobias gets super pissy about that. Jake suggests they all head back to the crash site as animals to look for it. Then Cassie shows up as a horse. We learn that the show has decided to add a terrible filter (similar to Visser Three’s) whenever the Animorphs communicate telepathically (or in “thought-speak”). It sucks. Moving on. Cassie demorphs back to human and they’re really, really trying here.
Cassie has a huge boner for being a horse, and she’s kind of a shitty actress this week. Rachel wants to chase that same high. She morphs a barn cat, but I think she turns out more like a Bratz doll.
Being a cat turns Rachel into a bitch, but no one notices much of a difference. Jake is like, “Your turn, Marco,” and Marco says fuck that. Jake tries to apply more peer pressure, but Marco goes off on him about the mortal peril they’re all engaged in. Then he says, “You don’t even know what reality is,” and oh, it’s time for Sad Moment. Turns out that Marco’s mom is dead.
Marco doesn’t want to be involved in this shit, because if something happens to him, his dad will have nothing left. This is a major part of Marco’s character, but it really comes out of left field in this scene. It passes just as quick; Cassie brings up the valid point that Marco is more likely to survive if he can transform into a gorilla and beat the shit out of everyone than as a teenage boy in a big orange coat who won’t stop bitching about having superpowers. So he turns into a rat. At least, he tries to. Since he doesn’t believe in himself or the heart of the Animorphs, he gets stuck halfway through and turns out like this.
He tries again and gets it, so whatever. Then Cat-Rachel tries to eat him. She claims to be overcome by the animal instinct, but I think she’s just sick of his shit. Everyone declares the afternoon a shitty disaster and they all become humans again. Jake is all, “Well, we all did it, let’s go eat a pizza or something,” and then they realize they’ve all forgotten Tobias. They also didn’t notice him leaving. Friends forever.
Marco calls Tobias a dickhead and fears that the weirdo’s gonna crack and sell them out to the Yeerks. Jake defends him while Tobias lurks behind a tree like the kind of kid who steals underwear from his classmates with they’re at cheerleading practice.
This is A) a pretty shitty interpretation of Tobias’s character and B) pretty unnecessary drama. We’re twelve minutes into Episode 2 and we still haven’t covered half of the first book’s material, so the choice to pad out the run-time with making Tobias look sketchy is really bizarre to me. The kids keep arguing about it, and Rachel mentions that Tobias “said he doesn’t have parents.” They force Jake to make an executive decision on their next action, and he decides they need to get Elfangor’s disk back, although that was already the plan like five minutes ago.
Later, at Rachel’s house, our favorite Marco-murderer is gifting her little sister with a necklace she previously banned the child from touching. She hugs her sister tight before going off on Operation Find the Plot Device. This is a nice little character moment, especially since Rachel has been given few qualities so far beyond “girl” and “wants the Tobias D.” A+, Animorphs.
At Marco’s house, Marco makes dinner for his depressed-as-shit dad. Jake shows up to drag Marco along on the mission. Marco grabs a paper bag full of mystery and a boom box and lies to his dad about going on a scavenger hunt. His dad wants him to stay, under guise of “I can’t program the VCR,” but Marco has to go. As he’s checking his hair in the mirror, his dad tells him, “Don’t worry about it. You’re beautiful.” This is cute as shit and another solid, character-building scene. Marco leaves and his dad eats some sad spaghetti.
Rachel and Cassie wait at the crash site while Chapman orders some mooks to clean up the wreckage evidence. Jake and Marco show up and the plan goes into action, with Rachel morphing (totally off-screen) into a cat. She surveys the site, spots the disk, and reports back.
The kids enact their plan.
Step 1: Marco plays some alien sound-effects on his boom box while waving flares around and shouting, “Help, help, they’re landing.” Then he runs away.
Step 2: Cassie morphs into a horse, paints her legs blue (who did that? Jake? So quickly?) and walks behind a truck, looking like an Andalite to the Controllers. This begs the question of why the fake Andalite cobbled together by some kids looks way better than the real Andalites from last week.
Step 3: Chapman sends literally every single one of his men to chase the Andalite.
Step 4: Jake, as Dog, digs up the disk. He finds it just before Chapman spots him and Cat-Rachel, who is just hanging out I guess. They escape, with Jake in the lead…and he gets them trapped in a goddamn pipe again!
Without Homer to show up and save them this time, the kids are trapped fur real. Then a hawk shows up and punches Chapman in the head, allowing them to escape. The kids reconvene in the woods and are totally psyched about their new toy.
The rescue hawk shows up and turns back into Tobias.
The gang are all glad he saved the day, and that he just wanted to BE the barn hawk, not flay it alive or hide it under his pillow. They all agree that he can be their friend as long as he stops stealing Rachel’s underwear. Then there’s a weird bit where Marco freaks out and asks, “Where’s the disk?” even though Jake literally just showed it to him. They stare at it and wonder about its purpose. Is it a weapon? Is it secret war info? Is it a stupid fucking plot device that will go nowhere and become one of the show’s frustrating elements?
This episode was worse than the first. I really appreciated the nice bits with Marco and Rachel’s families, but otherwise, not much happened. Jake stared at a lawnmower man, dicked around at the crash site, they all turned into random barn animals, then they stole the disk back. Their plan to grab the disk was inventive I guess, but pretty weird. Why did the distraction need to be Marco, in his recognizable civilian identity, waving lights and yelling about aliens? If Jake was off being a dog, Marco was running away, and Rachel was a cat, who painted Horse-Cassie’s legs blue? The stuff with Tobias was pretty weird, and rendered a non-issue when he shows up at the end and becomes their buddy. The episode covered almost nothing from the book, other than introducing Marco’s family background, alluding to Tobias’s, and having a scene where they practice morphing. The next episode continues to cover Book #1, dealing with its climax, which should be way more interesting than anything on display here. Not sure what they were doing with this one.
Adaptation Rating: 2/5. Very little from the book was covered; it was almost all original content. I’m trying to reserve 1/5 ratings for when the show absolutely bastardizes a book plot; this episode just kind of ignored and stretched it out.
Special Effects: 3/5. I don’t know, sure. The morphing still looked silly, but there were no stupid-ass aliens—they made a wise choice to only deal with human controllers in a plot where there would reasonably be no alien presence. The fake Andalite-Horse-Cassie looked better than Elfangor.
Character Development: Tobias fucking loves birds. Rachel is nice to her sister. Marco has a dead mom and his dad is a suicide risk.
’90s Bullshit: Dads who can’t program the VCR. Kids getting stuck in pipes.
Overall Rating: 3/5. Not offensive, but not that engaging. Middle of the road.
Next Week: Maybe we’ll finally finish the first book.
Today I decided to check the stats for this blog to see if my recent reviews actually got any traffic. They did! My Animorphs review got over 150 hits in the first 24 hours it was posted–more than double any daily hits the blog has ever seen–and traffic has been unusually steady ever since. Thanks, Reddit! Then I realized that WordPress allows me to view the Google search terms which led readers to this blog. The following terms were searched by Google users who then clicked upon my site. Let’s see what you guys like.
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I hope I answered this question.
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This can’t be happening
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I hate all of this, but I like that one and how they were only looking for one singular Dog with a Blog porn. They aren’t greedy, at least.
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It’s really, really not okay that so many people are searching for the show’s preteen protagonist committing beastiality.
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That guy must have been pissed to end up here.
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Holy shit, is it?
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Haha. There you go. That’s why I am no longer reviewing Dog with a Blog. See you Friday for the next ANIMORPHS review.