Original Airdate: January 7, 2016
Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk
Just as a heads up for all you blog readers, this will be the last week where reviews are posted semi-daily. As my schedule begins to get busy, I’ll resume posting at least once or twice a week (with the exception of breaks) which should lead up to the beginning of summer 2019, where this blog will begin to come to an end. Though, there’s no need to worry about that now, as there’s still tons of other episodes coming up that I couldn’t be more excited to cover.
For now, we have Summer Showers. Viola is one of my favorites of the pups, and it’s a shame that this is only star role to date. She’s actually the pup who gets the least amount of flack and screentime, and is often sidelined by her siblings Kim Kil Whan and T.V. (who are, ironically, my least favorite of Jake’s children). Regardless, she makes a lasting impression in her first prominent role, not particularly because her personality is exaggerated like her other siblings, but because she’s down to Earth and easily relatable, and represents the anxieties of a young adult quite nicely.
I probably have said this an endless amount of times by now about various different characters, but Viola’s character is carried a lot by the talent of her voice actor, Paget Brewster. It’s actually funny, because I could’ve swore Viola was voiced by Maria Bamford at first, as Brewster hits on all of those same notes of sensuality and commitment. In addition to her voice, Viola’s role in the episode itself is really what helps to define the struggles of her character and to make her a thoroughly captivating protagonist. While it can easily be drawn to a matter of how the world of theatre works (and as a former theatre kid myself, I can confirm this as realism), it also shows the issue of being caught in a job or position that isn’t exactly something to brag about or even to be proud of.
Of course, one can learn to accept their duties as simply a start-up position that they can gradually work their way up from, but one of the bigger burdening pressures (that I can relate to especially as someone who is soon going be graduating from college) is the belief that your parental figure will be disappointed and let down. This is exactly what Viola experiences when meeting with Jake at a local coffee shop. I think Jake’s relationship with Viola is definitely the sweetest out of any of his kids, and it’s so delightful to see him as genuinely proud and full of joy over Viola’s successes. Of course, this probably only stresses Viola out more, though it wasn’t Jake’s intention. His brief moment of doubt and guilt within his own parental skills is definitely sad, but it’s reassuring that he does experience immense pride in the success of his kids, and sweet to see that he is actively trying to see them more. Also a nice touch: he’s wearing Joshua’s hat again!
Initially, I was somewhat bothered by Lumpy Space Princess’s harsh portrayal throughout the entirety of the episode, but I’ve really warmed up to her in subsequent appearances. It doesn’t feel like she’s being an asshole just for the sake of being an asshole; LSP truly feels like a passionate director who isn’t particularly nice or fair to her cast, but is set on having her vision fulfilled as much as possible. And while it’s somewhat dull, the Summer Showers play seems to be actually good. It isn’t materialistic or an attempt to play off of LSP’s vanity, like The Prince Who Wanted Everything was, and seems like Lumpy Space Princess put legitimate work into making it coherent and engaging. It’s a surprising feat for herself, and no matter how aggressive she gets during said production (in somewhat humorous notions; I love how she consistently treats Viola like an actual dog), it all contributes to the internal stress that overpowers her. While LSP views Viola as a mere lackey, the two are more alike than she could have expected. LSP too suffers from anxieties regarding the fact that she may not be able to create a successful life for herself, and instead of venting her own issues out in retaliation, Viola is charismatic and listens to LSP’s every word, trying to please her by getting the raindrops just right.
The middle part of the episode can get a bit dull, as it’s mostly just a completely straightforward depiction of the summer showers play, which isn’t inherently interesting on its own, though not particularly painful to watch in any means necessary. Tree Trunks, Crunchy, and Mr. Cupcake get nice side roles, and something that always strikes me as especially funny is Mr. Pig’s over-the-top reaction to Tree Trunks having a kissing scene. The guy already has to deal with a demonic child in his house, but he also has to juggle Tree Trunks’ bullshit on top of all that. He may be the most stress-ridden person in Ooo.
That charisma carries through in Viola’s every step, as she takes it upon herself to learn all of the lines to the actual play, and commits to being the best stagehand possible. She’s truly shown to be dedicated to her work in every way necessary, which only helps to show her breaking point when LSP selfishly casts herself in the role after everything that Viola has accomplished. It’s a nice to see that, even if she is mild-mannered and a bit of a pushover, Viola does have her limits. It does provide for her to have her moment of victory, and to even still commit to the role that she was intended to play.
And even though LSP was duped, she still gets her moment of victory when the play proves to be a success (with a cute multi-handed clap from Jake), and Viola experiences her own euphoria in more than one way. While Jake is supportive of her role within the play, he’s even more enthralled by the fact that she ran the “special effects” department. While not everyone can say that their parents are supportive of them in any endeavor, Summer Showers does show off the benefit of having supportive parents by your side, no matter what endeavor you take up. It’s truly sweet to see how affectionate Jake is toward his daughter’s passion, even if it isn’t exactly what she is engaged in herself, and to see that she’s able to breathe easy, knowing she has the approval of her family. Except for that dick Kim Kil Whan, who didn’t even show up to his sister’s play!
Summer Showers is definitely one that’s “nice,” and I think that’s the best word I can use to describe it. It has nice character portrayals, a nice story, and nice individual moments. Certainly not mindblowingly dramatic or even exceptionally funny, but an entirely pleasurable experience regardless, mostly because of Viola’s terrific presence. Some moments are a bit dull throughput, but they’re completely justified by Finn’s hilarious reaction to the play itself. I think we’ve all been there at one point or another, buddy.