Tag Archive | Root Beer Guy

“Cherry Cream Soda” Review

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Original Airdate: November 4, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing more offensive than Root Beer Guy’s death is his revival in Cherry Cream Soda. I wasn’t particularly mad at the fact that the show initially killed off Root Beer Guy back in Something Big, as I never thought that RBG’s character needed any subsequent appearances outside of his debut. He was a lot of fun in Root Beer Guy, and it was nice to see him in brief cameo shots afterwards, but he doesn’t have the type of personality that truly leaves me wanting more. My main gripe with his death was that I thought it was presented a bit tastelessly, and I would have preferred just never seeing RBG again than to have him kicked off in such a mean-spirited way. But of course, a ton of people were upset with his death, and I’m sure that was part of the reason the writing staff decided to resurrect his character once more. It’s not even like Prismo, whose revival at least provides for an important episode down the line. RBG was simply brought back for the sake of this one episode, and instead of being the fun reunion that Is That You? was, Cherry Cream Soda mostly has me scratching my head and asking “why?” At this point in the series, it’s quite frustrating that Adventure Time cannot simply just commit to killing off a character. This isn’t even an instance that provides for a juicy or interesting story, like with Prismo, and later with Glob and Fern. Cherry Cream Soda genuinely feels like a waste of my time.

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The strongest part of this episode is definitely the beginning, and I don’t even mean in comparison to everything else. Cherry Cream Soda going about her day, unable to move past the grief that surrounds her with each waking morning, was legitimately good stuff. The atmosphere is sad and ominous, and carried a lot by the backgrounds, music, and terrific voice work from Anne Heche. Heche is definitely the best part of this episode, devoting her full energy to every single line presented to her. Of course, I don’t know at all what it’s like to be a struggling widow, but the situation is presented so well that CCS still has my fullest sympathy. There’s many poignant exchanges, mainly between CCS and her newly wedded husband Starchy: “I love you, baby, but isn’t there an expiration date to this grieving thing?” “I don’t think it works that way.” It’s quite frankly a melancholic sentiment that reinforces how the pain of losing a loved one never truly disappears, especially early on. There’s also that depressing opening statement from CCS of, “one day at a time,” which is an optimistic viewpoint in its own right, but typically translates to struggling.

The flashback reveal that CCS and RBG were literally “made for each other” is also an interesting concept that really sheds to light on how the Candy People operate. While it doesn’t seem ill-intentioned, PB’s behavior once again comes into question on whether or not the methods of creating her people were actually orthodox or not. On one hand, it is nice that PB created two beings and automatically paired the two with one another – it’s almost like character constructing, in a way! But on the other hand, she never gave Cherry Cream Soda or Root Beer Guy the option to be alone or even to get to know each other. This may relate to PB’s failure to understand just how much humanity that her people do possess, and that not everyone can be as dumb and half-witted as Cinnamon Bun.

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That’s pretty much where the good stuff ends, as Cherry Cream Soda bids a final farewell to her late husband. Might I also note that RBG being revived by lightening is the single most uncreative revival this series has ever pulled. In a world full of magic, the episode uses a method that is absolutely banal.

What follows this lightening strike is just… weird. I know that’s a vague statement on its own, because AT as a whole is an inherently obscure series, but Cherry Cream Soda is unusual in all the wrong ways. It feels like the episode is trying to be really quirky and jokey with the way that Root Beer Guy and Starchy interact with Cherry Cream Soda, but after the already established macabre tone from the first act, it’s kind of tough to get behind this story taking somewhat of a goofy turn. It’s also just really… uncomfortable. I get why Cherry Cream Soda is pissed at RBG and think the pain that she conveys is legitimate, but I also think it’s unnecessary for Root Beer Guy to get shit all over. I mean, he literally sacrificed himself so that he could potentially save all of the Candy Kingdom (and possibly Ooo) in the process, and now he’s suddenly alive out of nowhere. Did Cherry Cream Soda expect him to NOT come back and feel like everything is normal? I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling or even who I’m supposed to be rooting for. This feels like the exact wrong episode to put Graham Falk behind the helm. Granted, Falk storyboarded the original Root Beer Guy episode, so it only makes sense that he would also board its successor, but his style is way too zany and comical for a complex scenario such as this one. But it’s not only that it’s complex, it’s also that I just don’t really… care. I cared about Root Beer Guy and Cherry Cream Soda’s relationship in Root Beer Guy mainly because of the comically melodramatic tone that episode took on, but here, it really just does not work. It’s not fun in the slightest, and that’s fine that the episode wanted to take a more dramatic turn, but my investment in the withstanding of Cherry Cream Soda and Root Beer Guy’s relationship is little to none. The humanity that both characters showcased in both Root Beer Guy and the beginning of Cherry Cream Soda are what make their characters legitimately poignant, but when you take out that humanity and substitute it with a bizarre, unlikely situation, it kind of kills what made their characters interesting to begin with.

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I’ll give Cherry Cream Soda this, I do like the scene with (the newly christened) Dirt Beer Guy within the Candy Tavern, mainly because I had missed seeing Lady and Jake together after such a long time. But, that scene ends as quickly as it starts, and we’re treated to a truly off-putting squabble between Starchy and DBG. I’m typically impartial to Starchy, but he’s painfully unfunny and unlikable in this scenario. The bits towards the end where Starchy attempts to get rid of DBG are paced so awkwardly and unremarkable that I honestly remember thinking to myself, “if this is what season seven has to offer this early on, AT might be in trouble.” Luckily, that statement was soon retracted, but the bad taste of this one still remains. The ending scene where CCS chooses to dump Starchy, and then get to know Dirt Beer Guy, somewhat makes for a nice ending, but it’s also slightly confusing. I mean, the main thing that is different about CCS’s husband is his physical appearance, but it seems like he’s pretty much the same person that he always was. And, even though they never got a chance to “take it slow” before, didn’t years of being married give CCS and RBG a chance to really get to know each other? So, I get what the ending is trying to accomplish, but I feel like it’s somewhat squandered in its execution. I do like Cherry Cream Soda’s line of “one date at a time,” that mimics her first statement in the episode, but I also feel as though Cherry Cream Soda ends pretty much out of nowhere. Again, this is a series that usually features abrupt endings, but this one felt especially unceremonious.

Cherry Cream Soda is just simply a shit show of tonal confusion, and one that really, really makes me wish that Root Beer Guy just stayed dead. I’m usually fairly forgiving with plot points and story arcs that I don’t particularly like because I grow to appreciate how they affected the series in the long run, but I can honestly say that Root Beer Guy’s revival may be one of the most POINTLESS stories that Adventure Time has ever told. There’s that bit of lore regarding the creation of the Candy People, but that’s about it. I feel as though I have gained nothing from this episode and his subsequent appearances. I really would have liked if Cherry Cream Soda just committed to the “CCS is a sad widow who is trying to get by each day” story, because that was most certainly the most well done aspect of this episode, but even those bits are made absolutely pointless by the fact that everything ends up alright in the end. We’re instead treated with an uncomfortably harsh story that’s nowhere near as poignant or interesting, and one that is most definitely among my least favorites.

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Favorite line: “Honey, I’m fairly upset that you remarried.”

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“Root Beer Guy” Review

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Original Airdate: December 2, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk

Root Beer Guy is a diversion from the typical Adventure Time formula and centers around a character we know little to nothing about. The past episode James did so to its derailment, though this one effectively makes me care about this newly introduced character in a single minute than I’ve cared about James in any of his individual appearances.

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Root Beer Guy isn’t a completely new character, however. Root Beer Guy has made several background appearances throughout the past few seasons, so his inclusion in this one as a regular Candy citizen feels much more connected to the world of Adventure Time and not just a random entity. For years, we’ve seen the wacky jobs that Candy citizens possess, from Banana Guard positions to edgy tavern owners, but this is the most humanized example of the Candy Kingdom. On the one hand it’s odd, because The Enchiridion! gave us a glimpse at a kingdom that does nothing but wiggle their arms around and party all day, but this Candy Kingdom seems like a simple mundane example of everyday adulthood. Yet, that’s what works to this episode’s strength.

Part of what makes Root Beer Guy so likable, is the fact that he’s so simple. He represents the mundanity that everyone fears in adulthood, but the life of an man spending most of his days in an office is a sadly realistic reality. Experiencing his days exactly the same, with nagging anxiety about his life passing by around him, and the burden of the inevitability of the future growing more by the day (maybe it’s also because I have a part-time job in telemarketing, but I partially feel his pain). The beginning of the episode goes through great lengths to show the stagnant nature of Root Beer Guy’s life: his dead-end job and pushy boss, his casual train ride home, the repetitive nature of his dinners, and a somewhat awkward relationship with his wife. The first few scenes do a good job of showing that Root Beer Guy isn’t necessarily depressed, but striving for more from his everyday life. This is shown in his reaction to Finn and Jake battling the ogre (a callback to the aforementioned The Enchiridion!), his interest in graphic novels, and his own novel that he’s been working on for quite some time. It seems pretty obvious, though, that his own novel isn’t entirely a passion project, but an escapist project where he can easily place himself in the shoes of the main character “Joe Milkshake.” Root Beer Guy is merely a dreamer who wants a life of excitement and constant action, but is unable to do so by what the circumstances of life have dealt him. This is all established within the first few minutes.

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The way Finn and Jake are incorporated into this one is a lot of fun as well. Not to diss the later episodes that exclude Finn and Jake, but this one does a great job of having the focus be on separate characters while still including Finn and Jake in some of their most humorous moments. I love the way they’re painted in this one; they’re as absurd and disconnected as possible. Obviously we know that Finn and Jake didn’t actually kidnap Princess Bubblegum from the second that element is introduced, but their commitment to being as shady and unusual as possible is great. Moments such as when they take long strides through the streets of the Candy Kingdom with their arms still or when Jake easily tricks the Banana Guards with an entirely poor imitation of Princess Bubblegum are what really help to shape the humor in this episode.

But the episode still primarily centers around the life and adventures of Root Beer Guy, and that’s perfectly enjoyable as well. I like Root Beer Guy, and I really want to seem him succeed by the end of it. Again, a lot of his charm comes from his simplicity, as well as some terrific voice acting from Jack Pendarvis in his first ever voice acting role (aside from his work on the ever-strange Rudy & Gogo Famous Cartoon Show). I care about his relationship with the equally interesting Cherry Cream Soda, who simply wants attention from her husband and will go through several different methods to do so, no matter how kinky. Honestly RBG, you’re a fool for not paying attention to your French maid-dressed wife. All jokes aside, what makes this dynamic work is, again, the simplicity and realism within RBG and CCS’s characterization. The Candy Kingdom is full of crazy and silly characters, so to view the story of a member of this race that is more down-to-Earth and relatable is a refreshing change of pace that also works as potential worldbuilding. It not only makes me care for RBG, but also the entirety of the Candy Kingdom as a whole. It makes this entire area feel more like our own world, and more like a world that we can potentially relate to. Also, Root Beer Guy’s novel and indecisiveness with his writing style is hilariously relatable to me. I experience the same exact issue with rewording statements nearly every time I post for this blog.

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This episode is just as great in terms of visual appeal. Graham Falk returns once again for his second storyboarding gig on the show, and man, his influence and emphasis on silly expressions really help his episodes soar. His style is virtually different from any other storyboard artist on the show, and it allows for some really stretchy, evocative, and wacky character expressions that are practically eye candy.

It’s also scattered with funny moments outside of Finn and Jake’s influence. This is one where the Banana Guards are possibly at their finest, and their stupidity feels more refreshing than tedious. The melodrama between RBG and CCS, while captivating, is also quite delightfully silly on some aspects, namely the French maid outfit mentioned earlier. And I also enjoy the inclusion of another newly introduced character, Buck Pudding. Buck is the perfect example of a somewhat haunting, yet completely innocent redneck ally to our main protagonist. I’m glad he got at least one cameo appearance after this episode.

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The conclusion ties things together nicely; Root Beer Guy is able to have his moment where he saves the day, and he’s rewarded appropriately. I am glad that we are able to see RBG have a happy ending. Given AT’s somewhat sadistic and darker tendencies to its lesser known characters, I’m glad Root Beer Guy is able to have his happily ever after, where he appropriately ditches his typewriter to live out his own real life adventure.

And that’s mostly what this one boils down to: just a fun adventure featuring a rather subdued and unbeknownst hero, but it works really well. I enjoy the character exploration of Root Beer Guy, the solid animation and character drawings, and the lovely bits of humor sprinkled throughout. I think Root Beer Guy also works as a key indicator of how interesting it can be for Adventure Time to explore lesser known characters. Obviously it’s be done before with episodes like Thank You, but I think Root Beer Guy in particular paved the way for future episodes such as Lemonhope, Little Brother, Hoots and so on. It’s an experiment that I think works out exceptionally well, and one I continuously enjoy upon revisiting. If only Root Beer Guy’s legacy could be kept as perfect as this episode left it…

Favorite line: “Nice place to hide a body if you’re into that sort of thing.”