Tag Archive | Tree Trunks

“Apple Thief” Review

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Original Airdate: October 3, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich and Bert Youn

Apple Thief is Tree Trunks’ return to center stage after her revival in Crystals Have Power. It’s a basic mystery themed story, and it’s a pretty decent one at that. AT has done many, many noir or mystery-esque stories down the line, and this one isn’t really one of the stronger episodes. However, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Tree Trunks, so it makes this experience at least passable.

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There’s some nice introductions in this episode including a brief bit of history into Jake’s criminal past, which we come to know as a central part of his backstory and early life. Finn’s reaction to it is perfect as well, he just briefly glances over it without even asking follow-up questions. We see a bit more into the Candy Tavern, which is a very enjoyable unseen aspect of the Candy Kingdom. We’re used to seeing Candy People who are strictly bubbly and dimwitted, so seeing a tougher, grittier version of said Candy People is really amusing (I love the image of a candy cane person on one of the bathrooms. What is that even supposed to represent?). I especially like the two gangs introduced in this episode, and almost wish they’d make subsequent appearances. They’re really cleverly woven into the plot, and I really wanna know what’s up with the Dr. J gang and the other rival group. Could totally see it working as a West Side Story homage.

This episode also introduces Mr. Pig, whose presence on the show is somewhat of an enigma to me. I never know really how to feel about him, his personality is never really fleshed out in full. He’s just kind of a reserved, quirky dude. Ron Lynch is really what carries his entire character though, he does a terrific job of giving him a sense of dry sincerity that’s completely monotonous. If you’re not familiar with Ron Lynch, check out Home Movies. It’s great!

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Besides that, there are a good handful of funny gags in this episode: I love Raggedy Princess’s brief cameo and how Finn, Jake, and Tree Trunks just completely ignore the fact that she fell and is stuck in a ditch. Raggedy Princess is one of my all time favorite princesses in the show, I just wanna give her a hug every time she’s on screen. That girl’s got, like, zero self-respect! I like Finn, Jake, and Tree Trunks trying to be tough, and TT thinking that eating toilet paper will make her seem grunge. In addition to that, I just enjoy the chemistry between Finn, Jake, and Tree Trunks. Finn and Tree Trunks’ relationship went in a bit of a formulaic direction back in Tree Trunks, but I just really love how genuinely sweet to one another they all are. Tree Trunks is a character that certainly requires a lot of patience to deal with, not because she’s antagonistic or obnoxious, but because she’s simply old and senile. Finn and Jake have the perfect amount of optimism and acceptance when dealing with her, and watching the three of them together is just really endearing. 

Besides that, it’s a pretty okay episode. Nothing that leans in the direction of really good or really bad, it’s just relatively subpar. There’s not really anything that noteworthy either. The resolution to the conflict of the episode isn’t really predictable, but it’s just something that doesn’t feel ingenious or hilariously executed. It’s just… cute, really. I think that’s the best way to describe this episode: cute. It’s not one that’s really strong in its story, or even its premise, for that matter. However, it is relatively enjoyable from beginning to end, and the characters are delightful to watch either way. Definitely not a strong episode, but one that’s perfectly passable for what it is.

Fun fact: Nick Jennings accidentally fucked up with the backgrounds in an early version of this episode and drew every tree with apples. Good thing he picked up on that!

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Favorite line: “All ne’er-do-wells call diamonds ‘apples’, calling money “bread” or rock-knockers ‘butter-slaps.'”

 

“Video Makers” Review

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Original Airdate: April 18, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Somvilay Xayaphone & David C. Smith

Pendleton Ward mentions in the commentary of this episode that he hates pitting Finn and Jake against each other. Simple reason: it’s just not fun. I completely concur with this notion, as with pretty much any series, watching two characters bicker for a majority episode just simply isn’t enjoyable or interesting enough to watch. Finn and Jake have a very close relationship, which means they’re prone to fight every now and then and get into disagreements. I personally think the episode Who Would Win? did a pretty decent job of that while still keeping the episode fun and enjoyable. How does this episode fare? Well, let’s check it out.

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It’s interesting to note that this is actually the first time the Great Mushroom War gets named dropped, and it’s done so in a relatively humorous way. I really like how seriously Finn and Jake take the Federal Warning, and it works perfectly as a conflict driver. I like how the literal apocalypse can be used for such a simple plot point like this one.

The scenes that follow are pretty humorous. I like that this is an episode that really uses most of the main and recurring AT characters to its advantage, and even giving some others a bit more screentime. For instance, this is really the first time Mr. Cupcake gets a chance to shine, and one of the first he’s pitted against Jake. Jake’s jealousy of him is pretty enjoyable, and I love how this is actually the start of a long term rivalry between the two of them. In addition, Shelby, one of my favorite side characters, gets some well deserved spotlight in this episode. Shelby’s general snarky attitude and diverse personality from the rest of the mostly optimistic AT characters is actually pretty refreshing, and the “check pleeeeease” line is definitely something I’ve considered putting on my graduation cap on more than one occasion. There’s also some other little fun gags at the beginning, like Finn’s magic cup that pours everyone’s preferred juice and oh-my-god-whatever-the-fuck PB was drinking. I seriously don’t know what to make of that.

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Aside from that, there’s simply not much to this one for me. Finn and Jake’s bitching at each other is tiresome, and it’s a bit ridiculously over-the-top for them to be angry at each other for such a dumb reason as picking a genre for their movie. I think it would’ve been way more interesting if they just went with the “two characters try to make a movie and it turns out terribly” plot, but instead they choose and obvious route that brings down the entire episode. It’s a shame really, because had they chose the former, they were headed in the right direction. There’s some other funny scenes like the one where Slime Princess jumps right into the crocodile pit and when Finn attempts to make it look like PB is riding the frog chariot, and if they just stuck with those ideas in mind, I think it would’ve turned out a much better product. Luckily BMO’s song (written by David C. Smith) is sweet enough to end the episode on a very endearing note, but otherwise, it’s a pretty weak entry from the second season.

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Favorite line: “Check pleeeeease!”

“Crystals Have Power” Review

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Original Airdate: November 29, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

Interesting how I mentioned in my previous review that Jake isn’t necessarily concerned with his physical strengths and one episode later finds him worrying about being too abrasive with others. It’s a nice shift and some well warranted development to have two Jake-centered episodes in a row, even if this one doesn’t necessarily match the quality of the last episode.

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I really like the backstory element in this episode as well. This is the first time we are introduced to Joshua being Jake’s father, as well as his brother Jermaine. The Jermaine in this episode feels like a bit of discontinuity with the Jermaine we meet later on, but I’m willing to convince myself that he’s going through some type of midlife crisis. Jake trying to be “soft” while his best friend is being crystalized is a bit frustrating to watch, especially since this is the second episode in a row that Finn is being tortured while Jake chills on the sideline, but his interactions with the crystal guards are funny enough to carry a majority of the episode. It’s also important to keep in mind that Jake’s entire motivation behind controlling his strength is the fact that he hurt his best friend, so it’s heartening to know he was driven by the person he cares about most.

This is Jesse Moynihan’s first episode as a storyboard artist and he acknowledged that he hadn’t had much experience drawing before this episode. A lot of his drawings are a tad bit awkward and flat looking at times, but that’s not necessarily a jab at him. A lot of his drawings are off model, yet we don’t get many off model shots from this show in general. It’s actually somewhat refreshing to get some crude, floppy looking shots for once.

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Also, this episode marks the return of Tree Trunks! On the commentary for this episode, Pen Ward mentions that this episode went through several rewrites before the final product, and it kind of shows. In fact, Tree Trunks’ return wasn’t even included in the episode in the first two scripts, but Ward kept pushing for it to be a part of the episode. The writers do their best to blend the two plots together, but it almost feels as though half the episode is devoted to Jake’s crisis of life and the second half is devoted to Tree Trunks return. Whenever I think back to this episode, I always think about either the Jake plotline or the Tree Trunks plotline, but never both together.

Aside from that complaint though, both set pieces are relatively well done. I do have a warm place in my heart for Tree Trunks, and it’s delightful to have her return to the series once again. The episode ends in the greatest way possible: having our three central characters fly through a portal while a techno song about apple pie plays in the background.

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Favorite line: “If I had a penny for every time someone went crazy hopped up on magic energy… I’d be Abraham Lincoln!”

 

“Tree Trunks” Review

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Original Airdate: April 12, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Bert Youn & Sean Jimenez

The episode starts off with Finn and Jake slicing up some apples with their swords. Hey, Jake’s rarely seen kickass sword! I forgot it was in this one. We’re then formally introduced to Tree Trunks, whose hot buns previously appeared in “Slumber Party Panic”. Possibly a controversial opinion, but I actually like Tree Trunks. I know a lot of people tend to detest her and believe she weighs down the show, but I think she’s really endearing honestly. I dunno, there’s just something really adorable about the idea of an elderly lady in the body of an elephant. The only thing I don’t particularly like about her is the fact that she’s like, a billion years old and she has the hots for a 12-year-old in this episode. That’s a little creepy.

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Anywho, Tree Trunks invites the boys in for apple pie as they talk about their aspirations and what they would do if they could do anything. Finn says he’d like to ride a shooting star and fight space monsters (one of these comes true, at least) and Jake wants to carve his face in the moon. Tree Trunks states that she’d pick in apple (lame) but includes that she wants to pick the legendary “Crystal Gem Apple” located in the Evil Forest. Insert Steven Universe reference here. F&J decide to adventure to the Evil Forest to retrieve it, and with a little hesitation, Tree Trunks agrees to come along.

Once they get to the Evil Forest, they encounter a Wall of Flesh. Huh, I wonder if it’s human flesh. Could be an ancestor of Finn. The boys try to slay the wall, while Tree Trunks spends her time putting stickers on it. Before the wall can hurt TT, Finn defeats it and lectures her on how stickers won’t do shit in battle. Then a bunch of totally gnarly sign zombies come along and Tree Trunks tries to have a picnic with them, and Finn gets pretty jacked up by them trying to protect TT. Finn’s all, “C’mon gurl, you’re killin’ me.” Tree Trunks apologizes once more, but when a brain snake beast comes along, she once again screws with Finn’s adventuring by trying to seduce the beast. Jake was supposed to keep a watch on her, but he ended up falling into TT’s seduction. Gross. Finn snaps on Tree Trunks and says she’s not a true adventurer, making the poor little green elephant cry.

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I’m just noticing now that this episode’s a lot similar to “Trouble in Lumpy Space”: Finn, Jake and a secondary character travel to a distant land and the secondary character keeps screwing things up for the main duo, causing Finn to snap at the secondary character and then apologizing in the end. This one works a lot better in respects to that episode, imo. For one, I prefer Tree Trunks is much more likable and easier to sympathize than Lumpy Space Princess. Second, LSP’s intentions in “Trouble in Lumpy Space” seemed much more based on her own selfish needs, even though she was the one who unintentionally caused Jake the lumps, while TT’s screw-ups are primarily based on ignorance. Therefore, it’s a lot easier to sympathize with Tree Trunks than LSP, because while LSP herself didn’t mean any intentional harm, TT at least was trying to help, and she does end up assisting in getting the Crystal Apple at the very end! Finn had to cure Jake’s lumps with only help from himself. Kinda weird how they decided to basically do two very similar setups so close to each other, but this one is definitely the better of the two.

After Finn and Tree Trunks apologize to each other, they’re faced with a Crystal Guardian who can mimic their every move, and after fighting the Guardian fails, the boys try to retrieve the apple “the Tree Trunks way,” which still kinda confuses me as to what they actually did, honestly. Did they seduce the Guardian? Whatever, TT takes a bite into the Crystal Gem Apple, and when Finn asks her how it is, she explodes. Well, damn. I guess I should talk about the ending a bit too. Legend has it that on the Netflix version and a couple of DVD versions of this episode, the ending cuts off when Tree Trunks explodes, while all other versions show TT in the Crystal Dimension after she bursts. I can’t really say which ending is better honestly; the ending with Tree Trunks exploding is definitely the better “what the fuck” ending, but I think it’s still pretty effective with the brief clip of TT in Crystal Dimension, so I don’t think it necessarily ruins anything. I guess Cartoon Network was afraid kids would think Tree Trunks was dead? “Crystals Have Power” must’ve not been in production yet.

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“Tree Trunks” really benefits from having a great selection of star characters and environments. I really love the Evil Forest; there’s some awesomely creative villains there, including the snake beast and the sign zombies. It’s also a pretty nice debut for Tree Trunks, and as I mentioned, plays around with the “misunderstanding between two friends” plot a lot better than “Trouble in Lumpy Space” did.