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Keep the faith
Zombie's 1,038th Post Spectatular!: I review "Babar" (1989-1991)
Review reference list
Yup, I know this is overdoing it but I really wanted to do something really special the second time around. Now my choice of animated series may initially seem strange but after watching most of the episodes (on NBC) I found myself falling in love with it.
This may take a long time to do but I feel like this animated series needed more justice then it had in 1989 and I aim to review every episode of this series. Besides, isn't this supposed to be about animation of every kind?
Without further to do...
Babar's First Step
Babar is one of the longer lasting cartoon characters of our generation, alongside Mickey Mouse. Now his counterpart may be more well known, appear on more merchandise and cartoons and even had an empire built around him but that's not say that Babar was forgotten for all this time; granted he had a lot of books released, tons of drawings and even two television specials made by the same company who did the Peanut specials.
Now he may be a children's character and such but that doesn't mean that his world doesn't get somewhat dark at times; in fact, this pilot episode of this very series may have you thinking differently about what's good in children's series.
The entire episode revolves around a flashback to a period of Babar's life, which is told in the form of one of his stories. Don't assume that this is a one episode affair though, most of the first season involved this very setup; and it's understandable since a lot of his past does seem to produce very interesting stories and seeing the books come to life in an animated form is very exciting.
I mean it, very exciting.
All of the scenes here here manage to recreate the style found in the books while also managing it's own thick lined style, this style works well for the style of animation that they did; which even though it has some flaws and coloring errors, manage to be smooth, slick and at alot of times, legitimately cute; the colors here also manage to balance between bright, colorful and subdued and that look combined with the animation manages to make the scenes pop out and hook your eye to everything going on.
Some example shots of the aforementioned animation.
That doesn't mean there's a story behind this animation. Granted the story was adopted from the first part of the "History of Babar" book but it's still a good story regardless. There are a few changes though, mainly the addition of Palpador and Celeste being Arthur's cousin instead of her being Babar's cousin. I guess incest would not be widely received in a children's series, I mean it happened in the original book and they had children, did those children have Down Syndrome? I'm getting ahead of myself but I'm okay with it even though it's a deviation.
The story here is told through the perspective of Child Babar and even though there a few ad-libs from Adult Babar (who narrates the story), this is mainly his story with assists from a few characters. The story here progresses at a natural pace equal to most Simpsons episodes, but subtly quickened to get to the main points quicker. As the story progresses, we get to see the world in action and our first sight of these characters, and they do not disappoint; Babar here (played by a really appropriate child voice actor instead of the usual main actor) exceeds all expectations, he manages to play the role of a young child well while managing to include hints of his future characterization, the stuff that he does is wonderfully animated (some of it is even funny) and the way he delivers his lines exceeds all expectations and may draw in fans of all ages who finds stuff like this cute. (case in point, the Lisa & Homer and maybe Bart crowd.)
The rest of the characters are backseaters compared to Babar; even though most of them contain the voice cast of the present, I found the adult dialog to be somewhat generic (the dialog from them does get better as it goes along.) and delivered in a somewhat above average way (again, it does get better.) The kids ironically do better then their adult counterparts and even manage to transcend past most children's series and feel like real characters. Arthur and Celeste (despite the fact that they look like most elephants, perhaps the reason why they needed clothes was to tell them apart from each other.) even though they appear at the same capacity of the adult characters, manage to do well and as Babar and show hints of their future characterization; out of the two, I found Arthur to be the most enjoyable while Celeste to be really cute but also enjoyable as well.
Celeste (to the left) and Arthur (to the right). Without that, you'd confuse them for two random elephants.
There are even moments where the two intersect and those moments manage to be really sweet and really funny at the same time. Sure, some of the stuff may be for kids but alot of it will really connect with anybody. That's the true appeal of the series (and the franchise as a whole) it can appeal to any age, any audience and any one. Well maybe not anyone but it's one of those special animated series who's appeal can't be denied. I'll exfoliate on this as the reviews go on.
Of course, it can't be all sweet moments; there has to be conflict and notably this episode has one but low and behold, this episode has one of the greatest conflicts in animation history; one which just has to be mentioned when anybody is talking about Babar. There is a treestump which looks oddly enough like a Rhino (again, foreshadowing; this episode has a lot of foreshadowing, like Lost.) and it provides a conflict and even returns 4 times throughout the episode but that only plays a minor part in the conflict. (while also helping out Babar's character.) No... What I'm talking about is this...
Babar's Mother dies...
Yes, there is an ever present sense of danger introduced in the episode early on and it gets blown full force during the scene where everybody is having fun. I have to say, the way they handled both the danger and the fun parts is admirably done. I don't know if there's any other way they could of done it but it really portrayed the sense that there was danger about, even though everything is fine. Even the characters mention the appearance of what happened earlier (in the form of various fears, there is even a dispute which helps enhance the realism of the series.) which helps as it just establishes that these characters know about danger, it help enhances that aura that was established when the danger first appeared.
Anyways, the shots detailing the gruesome death are masterfully animated and even though there's no blood, you can get the sense that she's in pain and life and death is on the line. I even like it that she decides to sacrifice her life to save the heard from potential death after she's been shot herself; the fact that she manages to gain all of her strength to protect her heard and the fact that it's wonderfully executed just makes the scene all the more worthwhile.
The scenes involving Babar separated from her mother are also wonderfully executed and manage to show in his point of view the confusion he's going through as his mother is shot and when it's revealed that his mother is dead; I'm guessing that the scenes which show his mother's corpse on the beach, Babar crying over his dead mother's corpse and the entire heard gathering together to morn is going to make anybody have a tear in their eye, seriously everything about the scene just connects and it manages to be so somber, and this is supposed to be a children's television series!
The scenes following the immediate aftermath help Babar's character grow to heights not seen before. An example of this is a scene in the beach where everybody is having fun and Babar is just out there eating grass, everybody understands the situation that happened and everybody respects that but one person has it in him to spray a bit of water at him, which everybody gasps at as they expect retaliation but instead Babar spray waters back at him... Which means that all really one needs is an unexpected surprise to make them have fun again. It also increases Babar's determination and enthusiasm we've seen throughout the episode. Honestly, I just like that it was introduced in the middle of the episode, that moment just seemed like a near the end moment which is indicative of storytelling today but to just put it into the middle was a really good move and a move that helped the overall story rather then diminish it.
I would of liked to see more scenes about the sad Babar and the stuff going on with the elephant heard but hey, how can you fit all of that stuff into 30 minutes (excluding the beginning and ending scenes of course). I say that because the hunter appears for the second time for more. I can get why they'd reintroduce him but I personally felt that his reintroduction is too sudden to maintain the feeling they had in the beginning. Anyways, it is different in that the hunter comes in guns blazing when there's a discussing going on regarding this very matter and chaos appears once again. I admit, it isn't good the second time but it's still done well and the focus on Babar is very appropriate mainly because the situation he's been in is very recent and as well, it's his story...
The atmosphere manages to incorporate a different feeling of fear and danger, one seen through Babar's eyes; I preferred the earlier version but this one works too. It also works for unleashing Babar's vengeance (it is portrayed as a lesson in responsibility but it feels more like vengeance (while still trying to protect his heard) then anything else); I can understand where one would get the responsibility thing.) as he unleashes his feelings on his mother's killer. The fight scenes here are also wonderful and manages to feel down-to-earth while maintaining a sense of danger, there are also tons of scenes of majesticy and beautiful animation throughout. The colors don't sense danger but trust me, it's there as the hunter and Babar duke it out.
Just a little taste of the battle.
The ending of the battle (which also involves something mentioned tons of times before); fits the final piece of the puzzle as we get the untimely logical progression of Babar's character growth, let's just say that we feel that everything is resolved and yet unresolved at the same time. I will say that the scenes we get are both beautiful and majestic as his story comes to a close...
Of course, a story like that needs to be bookended. So there are two scenes which are both fitting as well as representative of what seems to be a good start for the series. Granted, these are our first taste of the characters and of Pom and Alexander but we learn about the two adults (Babar and Celeste) when the flashback starts. Like how it joins life in progress rather then having it start in the backup, makes it certain that life is established. There are a couple of fun scenes here and there but it's played mostly straight mostly so we can get to the story. While we do get some hints of personality, it leaves you wishing for more, which you do get in the later episodes (and even later, later episodes) but I can guess that they wanted to get to Babar's stories first and then let the others have the stories eventually...
So what do I think of this episode. Well even though there are some flaws I think this is a really good way to start off a series, a series that really could of had more episodes (not 500 episodes episodes but a modest number of episodes.) Babar's origins are told masterfully and even though there is an odd attempt to frame the story about responsibility, it's easily overridden by the masterful scenes of animation, the heartbreaking moments, the story and most of all; Babar's characterization. Which is both cute and serious; this may of been a piece of the puzzle but it proves that the series has landed and it wasn't going to go away without at least a fight. Set up your DVR's, you may want to record any episode of Babar (on NBC) that you can.
An appropriate crowd for an appropriate moment.
So... Questions, comments? This is just the first and I don't know how well this'll fare out as it goes along...
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 04-08-2012 at 04:58 AM.
Reason: retroactively added pictures
I Always Want To Be Eaten
good job making it to a milestone zombies
disco fuck yourself
Well, I believe 1,049 is a much better milestone, but better luck next time.
Originally Posted by Teddy
Keep the faith
Meh. I'm about to reach that within 3 posts.
Originally Posted by Handsome B. Wonderful
Originally Posted by Zombies Rise from the Sea
But congrats on your milestone zombies
now review Bob Barr
Keep the faith
Before the next review starts, I have to say something. When I first started doing these reviews; I did not get the reaction I wanted. Some say it's the milestone, others because they never heard of the show until now but I think it's because it's a combination of nobody seeing the show and nobody getting the jist of what I mean due to the lack of pictures. Starting now, reviews in this thread (including ones written before) will include a small number of pictures to illustrate certain points. I'm hoping that this change will help get across certain points in various reviews while at the same time complimenting them.
Episode two of Babar contains a continuation of what had happened in the last episode, but sandwiched inbetween two segments involving Pom figuring out what he wants to wear. Some of this stuff is funny but most of the moments are down to earth and realistic, especially the scene in the beginning and while it's not an important part of the story, the charm helps sell it regardless.
Now regarding the actual story. In this chapter of Babar's life, we see him encountering Paris, France (referred to as "The City" in the series.) after hours of running from what I assumed to be finding his heard. The fact that it's in continuity with the previous episode yet manages to also be a standalone story is completely amazing; just the fact that there is a continual story yet it can be watched without having watched the first episode, thanks to some helpful narration at the beginning.
"The City" is as beautifully animated as "The Jungle", making use of less saturated colors and a more modest range of colors to portray the hustle and bustle that is modern life and the stark, grey buildings and streets that are Paris, France. The detail there is also impressive; most TV shows (excluding theatrically released animated movies) would of just done it in a less detailed way, only animating the details needed to indicate that it is a city but Babar here does it like a movie, putting in details that aren't really essential but are really nice to have; it certainly shows that the animators appreciate what they're doing and they show it in their work, even when it isn't noticed by the average viewer. This type of dedication in animation is what everybody should see; seeing stuff like this really gets people interested in animation in my opinon.
I'm serious, tape a deep look at it.
Now this doesn't contain as much story as the first episode but I think that everybody involved in the show wanted us to focus on how Babar is unfamiliar in his new city surroundings and how he tries so hard to adapt/try to fit in (which is the moral of the story in this episode.) Alot of these scenes are fantastic visual treats animated beautifully by the fine folks at Nelvana, while there is dialog throughout these scenes, it's kept to a minimum as Babar greets folks, plays around in the pond and causes chaos on the streets.
Don't assume it's all like that though, there is one tension filled scene where Babar is chased throughout the city and we get our sights at another gun. We can just feel his fear, feel his thinking and just feel his need to survive. Personally I feel that the fact that they're able to have a realistic visual representation of guns (without sci-fi-ing or making it look cheesy or fake.) is freaking awesome and sets this series up and above the children's series of our time. I mean what children's show shows all of this stuff yet retains it's "TV-Y" rating?
Go ahead, name one.
Unsurprisingly, this is also the episode where she meets the Old Lady (aka Madame aka real name unknown.) and as expected, the two connect like an extension cord. With the Old Lady acting like a mother figure and Babar acting as the young boy in need of guidance. The numerous dialog scenes between them are good, even though they may be a bit moral heavy; I find that most of the dialog manages to avoid the preachyness that other kids shows have, you know where they force lessons upon you instead of letting it come across naturally. The fact that the dialog doesn't focus on it as much helps makes the medicine go down, though as I said before it's a bit moral heavy.
As it continues on, we reach a point where Babar places himself more in the shows of a city boy, the scenes/montage that involve Babar's schooling on modern life continue with the motive that everybody on the show has involved but it kind of takes a turn into "origin story" territory. While the scenes do keep up the fun vibe the earlier scenes ha, it showcases more of how Babar came to don the green suit and the methods he uses today for lack of better words. It's not bad at all, in fact it's certainly very interesting to see what you read in the books come to life; though in Nelvana's own way. While it may only be a small piece of the puzzle, you'll still feel satisfied nonetheless because the scenes here are really cute.
Ultimately, all of those scenes lead to a final test of sorts... a party if you will. It's obvious what the folks here will be feeling but they do manage to do it in a way that does suck you into the action. I would of liked to see more go into Babar's feelings heading towards the day of the party instead of jumping directly to the party though, stuff like that give the character more weight, even if we know what he's feeling beforehand. The stuff with the party further reinforces the moral the episode is pushing on you and I admit the antics are wearing a bit thin (on a side note, they seem to resemble a comedic movie from the 1980's-1990's.) but it's still enjoyable and if you need a good simple laugh, at least you have 30 minutes of antics with good animation to boot. On a related note, the last few parts of the episode manage to sneak in some truly sweet and cute moments, mostly relating around Babar and the old lady; I can't list any specific moments, you'll just have to watch for yourself but the moments there are cute and sweet.
Like this one.
So while it may not be as good as the first episode. It's still a good episode (though a really, really good episode.) that manages to expand upon the second episode and further Babar's journey despite some awkward scenes and some moral related issues. Alot of the scenes here are good for a quick simple laugh and the moments involving the old lady work are both down-to-earth and sweet. I can understand what they were going for when they made this episode and I can understand that they tried to live up to the story and they don't disappoint when it comes to the story but what they were going for may not have worked 100% but it does work 90% of the time, and I think that's a pretty high number as far as anybody is concerned. Babar seems on his way to complete and total stardom.
Keep the faith
The last of a trilogy surrounding Babar's struggles ("Babar's First Steps"), exile ("City Ways") and triumph. (which would be this episode.) This episode showcases Babar's return to the jungle and what would eventually lead up to as the greatest moment at the time. Now they could of drawn it out and had him return in like the 8th or 9th episode but the fact that they did it in the third episode is impressive; I guess the story-based format allows the writers to place the important stuff first and then get to other stories as they become either relevant or interesting; in my opinion that helps to mix things up a bit.
Anyways, this episode isn't as cute as the last episode but it does manage to be a bit more dramatic then the first episode; which I think gives the episode alot of weight and elevate the best moments past the somewhat cliche and cheesy moments. Don't get me wrong, there are cute moments; most of the first half (after some slightly dramatic moments involving Babar and the Old Lady) showcasing the moments where Babar, Arthur and Celeste reunite and they go on a night at the town while learning what city life is all about; those moments manage to be both cute, funny and beautifully animated. There is even a nice meta gag revolving around the indistinguishabilitly of the elephants I mentioned in the previous review; which I thought was nice of the writers to include.
The rest of what follows afterwards (after Babar and the Old Lady say goodbye in a really sweet moment.) leans towards dramatic (although there are some cute moments that happen later in the episode). This is evident as we see scenes of fear, worry and desperation within the elephant colony, the fact that they dug deeper into what the primal elephant colony was doing was nice; seeing some of what they do, some of their procedures and even some of their customs which we didn't see in the first episode. Doing that gives the elephant colony and alot of the scenes some weight, the fact that they tried to give the elephant colony some inner workings proves that they really dove deeper then the usual "children's television fare" to give something that would last up in time.
Society, as seen above.
The scenes with the hunter represent what happened in the first episode, except turned on it's ear. It does manage to retain the same suspenseful flair that it had in the first episode and the dramatic flair still remains; the scene in which Babar and the Hunter look at each other is a prime example, one which manages to be a nice callback, which manages to portray the seriousness of the situation and which manages to create tension for both the characters and the viewers watching the show. There is nothing new that we learn about him in this episode, except that he has a crew (in the first episode, he was a lone wolf.), he has equipment and that he's determined and skilled, really really determined and skilled; so skilled in fact that he manages to corner Babar in a few instances. He could of killed him too had it not been for sheer luck and ingenuity.
It does not stop there; for the second time in the series, a major character has died. I mean what children's show you know has characters dieing constantly; well not this show but what show manages to kill it's characters, makes those deaths feel heartbreaking and makes it so that it contributes to the plot; this show. The death of the Elephant King was done well; his death was attributed to reasonable circumstances (it was even hinted at somewhat through the dialog and the environment.) and it even moved forward the plot in a way that was sensible and logical (and that plot point contributed to the episode in a big way.) There is also a moment where a certain hit and run happens; it's not exactly deadly but the way is there and the animation does mostly imply it. Running people over with cars have usually been reserved for primetime series or PG-13 rated movies running in a theater or on your local TV station but never has it been done before in a children's TV series. (I may be wrong but this is the first time I've seen it happen in a children's TV series.) The sheer fact the taboo that showing someone running someone over with a car would of been inappropriate is both gutsy and respectful; again I may be wrong but the fact that they managed to show a moment where somebody gets run over by a car is cool.
An aforementioned example of the cool moments.
Of course, it can't all be cool moments you know; there has to be dialog when it comes to a plot like this and the dialog scenes do not disappoint; although they are somewhat cliched and cheesy but most of them are delivered with such excellency that they manage to outweigh the bad stuff. I feel like the best moments in terms of dialog is the intimate conversations between one or two people, usually involving Babar. I mean you know what these characters are feeling and you can relate to what they have to do, especially when it comes to a dangerous time. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the fun and cute dialog that is equally good and at most times manages to relieve the dramatic tension that the episode has going on; which is good since young children aren't capable of handing that much drama. The way they managed to switch between serious, dramatic dialog and cute and fun dialog is done well enough that you won't complain about it and at some times the mixture of both forms of dialog manages to grow the characters who are speaking the dialog; Babar in particular. Adult Babar's narration of the story also provides a second view to the story and adds additional information to various parts which is both helpful and nice, as is with most of the stories that he does.
There are also scenes in which there is a respectable amount of action going on, action which both helps entertain the kids and helps give the plot it's respectable conclusion. Those moments of actions can vary in length from short to taking up a few minutes and are both beautifully executed. From the small amount of moments which help serve the tension filled atmosphere to the ones which put a smile on your face and something in your heart, those moments are done well regardless and as a whole help compliment the plot as well as being beautiful. I may have said this in a previous review but I'll say it again, the action scenes here are down to earth and aren't done in an obviously cartoony way. It could of been done in a obviously cartoony way but having it done like that would of both ruined the atmosphere and gave less weight to the situation it was supporting; besides, would you rather laugh at Babar as he throws that perfume (complete with realistic smoke and effects.) at that car or would you rather be scared/relieved? Scared when Babar is being chased by the hunter and relieved when Babar finally defeats that hunter.
The moment when Babar finally gets crowned is representative of the entire episode, wonderful and magnificent. A payoff that is satisfactory as it is grand; It manages to mix all of it's ingredients into a winning combination, pay homage to the two episodes before it, somehow time those two episodes together into a coherent narrative, expand on moments introduced in those two episodes and provide one of the most dramatic satisfactory conclusions to a trilogy ever. 99% of the episode is great and wonderfully animated, even the interstitials that support the story. The other 1% does not hold up as well but that 99% of good outweighs that 1% of bad, and that's a really good thing. It's a shame many people don't know about this series because it's really, really good and episodes like this one are a prime example of what it's that good; if you haven't watched it yet then you really need to watch it by any means necessary.
Go ahead, you've earned it.10/10
Keep the faith
The City of Elephants
Continuing through our trip through history, the fourth episode of the season tells of the literal beginnings of what would be known as "Celesteville", well the construction part of it that is but it's still a beginning.
It begins with what has become the norm for these first episodes, a "slice of life" moment happening, Babar coming to hang out with the one having the problem and telling a story which segues into the main plotline for the entirety of the episode. These moments almost always coincide with the story that Babar is telling and the subtle lesson that is planted within these episodes; case in point Flora wants her kite to be first and she's frustrated that everything's going wrong; the story itself; Babar's trying to be first (for different reasons) and everything is going wrong. See what I mean? These episodes also end with most of the characters sitting around listening to Babar's story regardless of how the episode started or who she was telling it too; I can understand if they wanted to do this for most episode as it is kind of cute and works well as sort of a tradition for episodes...
See, tradition. (image edited to enhance point.)
Anyways, It blends itself into the beginning of the story nicely, starting off naturally with the location for the city being picked out and being completely planned out rather then being in the planning stages. This helps when it comes to both the plot and the pacing of the story. "Babar" has always benefited from stories that have a natural flow and pace; none of the scenes jump from one to another abruptly, alot of the stuff they do is reasonable and contributes to the plot and for the most part, it doesn't get derailed into unknown territory. This has always lead to great episodes with great moments, and this one is no different.
The titular plot moves along at a brisk pace, managing to showcase the various struggles of Babar as he builds his city and showcase the comedic antics revolving around the unfinished city itself. The two opposing sides (Pompador and Cornelius) and the conflict does seem to be a bit pushy and forceful but I found myself enjoying the episode to not focus on that much and the episode keeps those moments mostly short and focuses on what's important. It's only good when they keep it appropriate, not repeat it 10x ad nauseum throughout the episode. Additionally, the main character Babar appears to have his own opinions and doubts on the situation and understands the risks he is taking just so it can be ready in time for some threat (which appears to be the monsoon season, aka rain.); it's something that gives the character weight and the actions he's doing weight; having them aware of other choices (even the choices offered by his caring best friends not looking out for the interest in the city) yet feeling forced to do this. I appreciate the series for digging deep into it's characters and not just making them into one dimensional characters who do things for just one reason and have one personality, if they did that then the series would be radically different and not as memorable.
Of course it has to have something to compliment the plot with the city and that's where our first introduction to Rataxes and his assistant Basil comes in. Their introduction feels abrupt, as in the series had already theoretically aired a few episodes, one of them might of already featured Rataxes which may have had a proper introduction in that episode. Our first sight to them sees much of the established stuff that has already happened; Rataxes's self-developed rivalry/drudge with Babar; Basil in a well established advisory role; the needs of himself/his opinions, his possible lordship and the aggressiveness. Even the introduction to Lady Rataxes seems sudden as if we knew her for a while; while she is sweet and she does provide a nice contrast, she doesn't do much rather then support an idea introduced and then passively aggressively make Rataxes do it (while still wanting to do it himself I mean.) I can understand why she wanted him to do it and it does hint at bits of her personality but it just feels sudden. Still, it does prove the foreshadowing that was in the first episode and it does pave the way for the rivalry to grow.
Babar, meet Rataxes. Rataxes, meet Babar.
This sideline plot also introduces us to Rataxes ruthlessness when it comes to building the city; case in point stealing the materials from the elephants in order to build the city first. (With Babar not caring much about that, even when he sees the stolen materials in Rhinoland, which makes the forced rivalry stand out more then before.) This establishes one of the prime draws when it comes to episodes involving lessons and the plots relating to the lessons, that "both people are at fault". Case in point, Babar is at fault for speeding things up and cutting corners while Rataxes is at fault for going in and interfering with the building process, not one person can be blamed solely for the incident and it's evident when the two things mix together. It just provides a moral that is not strictly black and white, a moral that is more dynamic then other children's TV shows at the time. That dynamic moral makes the episodes more believable, the reasoning more acceptable and it just makes for great TV, this is an example that children's TV shows shouldn't have to lean towards one specific fault. Anyways, both seem to suffer the short end of the stick at the end of the episode when things literally fall apart. Literaly.
The episode continues on along this plot and it's great (it's less then expected but it's still great; don't think there could be much done to improve it.) until it reaches the half-way point where it gets dramatic and incorporates a trademark life & death matter into the episode; this time involving the Old Lady. The moments involving Babar and the Old Lady by the bed is pretty good drama, as the child actor who's playing the role of Young Babar is actually putting his heart and soul in the role and emoting like there's no tomorrow, and it's not forced, it's all natural. Hell the child actor could of used this to get work in Hollywood in more serious roles, had his career gone somewhere of course. The dialog from the other characters can't help but to enhance the somber feeling of the already somber scene, everybody is playing their parts, everybody feels sad and they don't know how to deal with it but they try the best they can to get through it; it isn't the best acting in the world but it is the best at the time and it does help out the scenes regardless...
Babar's devotion to his friends is also shown both by the bed and when he's getting the cure. I mean it's really admirable that he would give up everything to be by her side and the fact that he would give up anything just to see her possibly survive; even though it's been done many times before, it's done in a very "Babar" way that makes you care about what happens and makes you wonder if she's going to make it or not... His devotion also dies deep into making something special happen when she wakes up; a house built just for her, which I thought was especially sweet and the way they focus on the house and the entire characters near the house in the end makes for a good way to end the story.
However, I do take offense to the way the Old Lady gets sick; and the way that she gets sick is through getting bitten through an easily avoidable deadly venomous snake bite. I mean I would of accepted it had it been done well but the way it's done is so contrived. I understand that she was trying to protect Arthur from being bitten but seriously; she could of pulled him away, not taken the bite for him. Another thing I can understand that without the snake bite, we wouldn't have the whole dramatic plot-change and the episode wouldn't be as good as it is but seriously, find a better way for her to fall into a life & death situation.
Aside from that, the dramatic plot-change also brings about a separate piece of animation (presented as a dream) that serves as a showcase to Nelvana's animation chops at the time and has a pseudo-nightmare fuel. The dark backgrounds, odd colors, the jarring animation and the excessive audio echo affects serve to set the mood everybody wanted and oddly enough, it seems to work out well. I can't say what my favorite part of this segment is but I will say that the odd angles, the unique ideas such as the walkway and the plans and their take on the oddest elements around is among thebest done in terms of children's TV animation at the time; certainly high quality stuff that should be seen hands down. My only small dislike, the angels who come out to help Babar but I'll let it slide since it is a dream and it is Babar's realization moment.
Nelvana at it's prime.
So, while it's not as good as the three episodes that preceded it; it's still a good outing and a start of a new trilogy in terms of Babar's stories. The story revolving around the beginnings of Celesteville is entertaining but it's the dramatic stuff that elevates this episode into something more, but not by much; the dramatic stuff is really, really good though. It also serves up an entertaining Rataxes plot and it introduces Rataxes in an okay way (though he was introduced abruptly.), again; it's not as good as the three episodes that preceded it but it's still a good, semi-classic Babar episode.
I just wanted to say that I'm enjoying this thread I loved this show as a kid, yet it never occurred to me how good it would be for a rewatch. I truly enjoy the animation style, the voice acting, the background scores. I had the books too! Thanks for bringing it up.
at the other side of reality
Wow. Impressive reviews.
I didn't have the age to comprehend the hidden layers when I saw this I guess.
Keep the faith
Welcome. Glad to know someone's reading these reviews and I'm glad you like them.
Originally Posted by Food Blog
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 01-22-2012 at 01:49 AM.
Keep the faith
And a triumph indeed. The fifth episode of the series brings it full circle, starting with Babar's birth and ending with his triumph as he manages to unite the whole jungle together against a common enemy and show his destiny coming in full force and it does it with such grace and brilliance to boot. In short, this contains one of the best shows of character, drama and storytelling that the show will ever do.
Let's begin with one of the things it establishes in this episode, the political stuff. This episode is the first of many episodes where politics are frequently referenced, discussed, are used as plot points and also contribute to the world; now the mostly comedic stuff seen in these meetings may appear to make the politics simplistic but don't be fooled, the political stuff in this episode is actually pretty deep; the deepest that I've ever seen in a children's show. While you may not know the places that they're talking about, the issues that they're talking about do relate to real-life politics, the back and forwarth they do between them is logical and it's clear that their dislikes regarding among another are legitimately grounded rather then made up on the spot (and they never change much throughout the episode); which adds another layer to the political spectrum since they may or may not have their opinions influenced by that. There is a "follow the leader" style politics going on where most of the members of the delegation are following the lead of the dominant one; you'll know who when you watch the episode.
Politics in action.
What appears to be just another happy walk in the park turns into what appears to be the shows darkest half-hour ever. This episode turns into a "Hunter" episode, and episodes where the hunter appears are the best ones as they allow the characters to express themselves more freely, allow the best dramatic moments to come out, allow for a life & death situation to appear and allow for stakes to be raised. This one is no different but what is different is that they did put out all of the stops and spared no expense when it came to the situation at hand; leaving almost no room for the cute moments. That doesn't mean there are cute moments though; moments that help relieve the tension (the one with Arthur and Celeste comes to mind) but they're surprisingly scare as the drama, tension and suspense take over; which can be unsettling to those just first watching the series.
There is a constant feeling of impending doom throughout the episode, which is reinforced as the Hunter roams through with his unstoppable forces and bulldozer trucks. The sense of impending doom is evident as Babar tries his best to unite the animals while at the same time stopping the hunter from doing his thing, this sense of Doom also brings out the best in Babar as sings of his determination come through, despite neverending concern and doubts; you can really see that he's determined as he's not letting nothing stand in his way; nothing. He even does things which people would consider crazy, that's how determined he is. That determination helps carry Babar throughout the episode wonderfully. Other characters fair admirably as well, showcasing their emotions in a decent way even though they appear to play a minor part. I will say that Rataxes has some more layers behind him as I first thought in this episode as his portrayal throughout the episode was appropriate and wonderful; who knew Rataxes had a conscious side?
This show hasn't been afraid to push the boundaries with what could be done and supplementing what I said earlier, this pushes it to the limits it may never reach again; the really dangerous man-made oil forest fire in particular pushing the limits far. Now other animated series may have done this type of thing before, but Babar is the first series to show a forest fire being started on purpose by a guy who's intentions are really well known. In the argument of whether or not kids would find this stuff acceptable, parents might argue that this type of stuff scares children and warps their little mind but in my defense, kids might actually enjoy it as it is good, relevant to the plot and actually manages to center the whole thing together; especially with the amazingly beautiful animation these scenes offer.
The facilities set up by the hunter are shown to be more draconian and oppressive, something in contrast to earlier episodes where the Hunter simply had no facilities or had a simple wooden cage; adding to it is the fact that it's only shown at night helps set the mood that the creators were going for. The entire thing is also a setpiece for a major moment which illustrates the thing that's good about this episode, there are multiple things going on at once, the action isn't solely focused on one event, it's focused equally on four and it's sequenced naturally and logically; and there is a ton of action in this episode, so much action in fact that it may be the most action packed episode of the series in terms of dramatic plot, life & death situations and a crisis going on at hand. We have scenes of ambushes happening utilizing some military tactics and we also have scenes where they appear to be taken hostage, we also have the highest number of gun scenes in "Babar's" entire history, including one which you thought would never happen and one which the show would not repeat following this episode.
In like of this, this episode does have a moral to teach us and that moral is to work together; it's constantly referenced throughout the episode though it's constantly pushed to the backseat by all the drama, suspense and tension; therefore giving the moral a unexpected subtlety that enhances both the point of the lesson and the episode itself; mainly because it grows and grows until it ultimately plays a major role in the story. Sometimes the best morals can be learned through great storytelling, it doesn't have to be 100% in your face for kids to get it; they can have a story read to them, enjoy it and the next thing you'll know they've learned their lesson; that analogy is evident during the final scenes which are a blast to watch as Babar unites the whole jungle to work together to put out the fire, save the jungle and defeat the hunter once and for all. Of course, there are a bit of causalities here and there that make it a day that'll go down in infamy but you know what happens after those days...
Working together for a better cause.
Before I wrap it up, there are some notable oddities that only happen in this episode; for instance, the trio of Alexander, Pom and Flora wear white underwear/dresses that don't reappear in the episodes following this one. Don't get me wrong; they look cute but it's kind of hard to tell them apart. Secondly, if you've been dying to see Pompador without his eyepiece then this is the episode to look at as we see him without his eyepiece twice, it is really interesting to see him without his distinctive eyepiece and you can't help to think about how radically different he looks without it. I don't think this happens in episodes after this (though I may be wrong). Lastly, this episode contains one of the most unsettling death of the shows history; the death of the hunter. It may be kind of unsettling due to the things he says and the way he dies but it is a powerful and relevant part of the plot; even though it is unsettling. You would want to question the sanity of him as he do what he does.
So. The fact that this is the final episode in the hunter trilogy is a shame but this is definitely worthy of the "triumph" featured in the episode title. This episode manages to reach it's peak in terms the plot, the superb drama, the moments and the action. While there may not be as many cute moments as before, the stuff that happens on screen is good enough for you not to mind; in fact it makes it into it's own beast in my opinion. I've said before that episodes involving the hunter are usually the best ones, and this one is no different, except for the fact that this is the best hunter episode and possibly one of the best Babar episodes ever. I think what you need to do is obvious.
Keep the faith
This Thursday on NBC: Babar plans to take Celeste to the big dance; but he's in shock when he discovers he has to take another girl to the dance as well. <insert dialog from the episode here.> Terrible promo joke aside, this is the episode where things start to move towards establishment, as evident in the settings and life in general. It shows more of a slice-of-Babar's life from the past (bookended by Alexander and his cute birthday party) then it does his backstory but it's not a detractor or anything.
The plot may seem like something sitcoms have done thousands of times over but it's done in an interesting and unique way; I'm guessing the lack of a laugh track and the attention to detail when it comes to the environments, the actions and the dialog help make episodes like these what it is; these characters aren't making jokes every few seconds or standing around doing weird stuff to get a laugh from the audience, they're just being themselves and doing what they usually do, and that gives the characters more relatability then most other live-action sitcom characters out there.
Babar; relatable in every way.
Babar and Celeste have always been known to have a cute romance together and in this episode, it's put to good use. Having to tate another girl you have no interest in (in the interest of politics by the way, which makes it reasonable) is hard and having to satisfy both at the same time is also hard and it puts you in a situation that is hard to get out of (even when you have a mother figure like the Old Lady by your side), Babar seems to understand and what he does will make you sympathize with him; I get it, he wants to make both people happy, he doesn't want to break both of their hearts (even during the unexpected situation forced upon him, which was sudden but reinforced his character.) and he was just going with an idea that he thought was good at the time; that idea to make both people happy just reinforces what makes Babar great, though it does feel a bit sitcommy.
The two even have some intimate dialog which is down-to-earth and natural and even has some sentimental value. While some of those moments may have slightly contrived dialog, these moments of dialog just further enhances the bond these two share and it also serves to teach both the character and the viewer a lesson at the same time; while you watch those conversations unfold, you'll be thinking to yourself about how intimate these moments are and how cute they feel. They're just that good.
Aside from the Babar and Celeste and other date, the episode also contains gags of plenty and alot of them are just funny in their rustic retro way. I can't say what my favorite one is as they're all done well but I can say that what happens at the ball is easily the centerpiece of the whole episode; what happens at the ball can easily be described as a comedy setpiece reminiscent of those old movies in the 20's/30's/40's/early 50's. (complete with retro music), those movies which contained a hectic situation and the person trying their best to handle it while everything around them threatens to come apart or get in their way. The homage/comedy is done well and the wonderful animation helps to make it even better, we get that this is Babar's situation but we can't help but to let that go and just laugh at what's happening on the screen and if we've managed to done that then it's exceptionally well indeed. Plus it's also a change from what they usually do in live-action sitcoms and that's always a plus.
We're just dancing at the ball.
So yeah, it may seem sitcomish but it's not bad. It manages to combine the patented Babar-forumla with a sitcom plot to good results, Babar and Celeste's relationship, the gags and the situation are all put to good use and well; it's just a really good way to spend 30 minutes. There are times where it feels a bit sitcommy and contrived but if you get past that, I think you'll find a pretty good episode.
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 02-01-2012 at 03:37 AM.
Keep the faith
Race to the Moon
In another of a long-line of Babar's stories, we have one involving a struggle between his desire to rebuild a playhouse dear to his mother and an aforementioned "race to the moon" between the citizens of Celestville and Rataxes himself. Now a race to the moon may not seem like something that would work but trust me, it does.
Many people would be expecting this to be filled to the brim with comedic moments and for those people, they're on the mark. Don't worry, the comedic moments here are as good as you expect in a Babar episode, varying between the old-fashioned or more rarely, the absurd. I find it commendable that they put a bit more effort into their jokes then other children's series; I mean there is stuff in there that has some depth and actually pays respects to material of the past; I don't know of any definite examples but the parachute bit and the Zephir bit are representative of the comedy of the series in my opinion. There are some moments where the comedy doesn't land but there are much more hits then misses so you don't have to worry about that.
Another thing that they do in the series is introduce a variety of one-off characters and this one introduces two who play their parts exceptionally well. This series has always had a penchant for introducing these characters and using them to pay respect to roles of the past. Case in point we have characters like the contractor who makes interesting side comments/ideas while also being friendly and doing his job, we also have a spy who seems to do and say odd things while also doing his job well; both of those characters serve to pay respects to roles played by actors in the 50's-60's, comedic roles where the actors weren't required to be 100% strict and could play their roles with any sort of freedom they wanted, even adding their own spin to it. The way they play their roles and the way the roles are written truly feel like they could pass in the 50's and it just goes to show how much the creators of the show have respect for comedy of the past.
Paying homage to all the actors out there.
Additionally, it also serves to pay homage to the space race that happened in the 50's, especially in terms of the uniforms and the designs of the uniforms and the extravagance of it all. I think they got it down pretty well and that helps enhance the atmosphere a lot.
But despite all the comedic moments, the core of the episode is not about the race to the moon or the fun atmosphere; but rather the conflict/struggle between Babar in his attempts to rebuild the playhouse and the community which is too focused on building a rocket to the moon to help Babar (who initially helped them by the way, the reasoning behind their defection is reasonable.). Our focus on him helps to bring out his character which was wonderfully portrayed; he struggles to restore the playhouse himself with barely any help as the citizens focus on the moon race, he tries so hard to rebuild the playhouse himself despite the odds stacked against him, the fact that he remains determined throughout just gives untold depths to his character. His speeches regarding various incidents and what they should do are well thought of and actually makes sense when it comes to the situation and reinforce what makes his character so great, the benevolent personality of him.
The contrast between the moon race and the playhouse is also thoughtfully played out; I mean the playhouse means something to him (due to it being dedicated to her mother) and the people of Celestville treat the moon race as something grand and important; more important because of the improbable idea, the need to beat someone else to it, the consequences if they don't. Even Rataxes is caught up in the misguided belief that Celestville's beloved king is trying to beat them to the moon (the way the moon race start up is believable and I can see how it'd get misinterpreted, just makes it similar to a first season episode and that's a good thing.) and that just leads to a competition which reinforces the moon race in the very eyes of Celestville and furthers the contrast which fuels the episode. It also works towards the ending which seems well deserved as it shows just how silly (and excitable) these races can be and how people can unite over something more reasonable rather then improbable.
All of the characters here play their roles admirably and some even make you laugh, which helps in an episode like this. Rataxes does appear in his settled role of lord of an established empire which feels as sudden as the first time we saw him but this time we do get something of a character reveal. The stuff he's doing may be a bit reminiscent of "Peanuts" but it does show a somewhat lighter side underneath that tough side, the routine between Lady Rataxes and Rataxes do show both of their characters and this time it's a bit more as it actually reinforces the flawed but there romance that they have between each other; even though Rataxes doesn't exactly act romantic most of the time, it's a step in the right direction and it is shown that he cares for her.
Additionally; Arthur, Celeste and Zephir provide the cute moments you've come to know and love (including one of the most notable moments at the end of the episode), there are some decent conversations throughout the episode and this comes with some pretty impressive animation and scenes. I'm impressed at the amount of variety they managed to include in this episode and the different settings they managed to include. Especially considering the content of the episode, at one moment, you have an impressive scene of action (the moment when the playhouse catches on fire for example.) and then at the next moment you have one detailing a subject sitting on a chair knitting socks; the variety of the animation always manages to impress me and the attention to detail is just bar none, especially in the simplistic scenes.
So, is there anything else to say? This is a really good episode. It manages to mix a comedic core with a dramatic core and combine three stories into one consistent narrative. It also manages to be a good character showcase for Babar as well as a nice homage for whatever they put up on the screen, plus it does contain some pretty cute moments and decent animation. I can't really think of anything negative to say about it, there are some flaws but the good parts outweigh the bad and make this an episode that you would see more than once. Makes you wish that they made it to the moon though but that would of undermined the overall moral of the story.
Moonmen never kid.
I used to drive that blue car
Haven't watched this in years, but I might break out my old VHS tapes and watch them.
Thanks for bringing back some good memories when cable actually had hand drawn cartoons like this.
Keep the faith
No Place Like Home
One thing this series is known for is it's combination of zany antics and down-to-earth relatability. (in both it's environment and it's moments.) This episode effectively combines both of those to great effect, effectively proving to be one of Babar's greatest shows when it comes to general storytelling episodes like this one.
The plot is simple, the circus comes to town and Babar is intrigued by one clown in general; Andre, he entices Andre to check out his palace and one thing leads to another and he decides to stay but something else happens... Now the character of Andre may not be deep but he's done well and you can understand what his purpose is, to make people laugh no matter what the cost; the fact that he's so rooted into making people laugh helps the scenes in which he appears in the palace trying to adjust to life there. That ideology helps to build a character that we can all relate to and it also helps to move the story along in a natural way.
The scenes at the circus and regarding the circus are done in a natural and realistic way that doesn't focus mainly on the extravagance. Case in point, the scene where the circus packs up and Babar is helping them; those scenes showcase what is often the most forgotten aspect of the circus, the traveling part. See, the circus is not all about the extravagance, it's about moving from town to town, city to city; and the show manages to capture that wonderfully (the packing, the work, the hecticness) and as a plus, they use those scenes to advance the plot with Babar and Andre. That's not to say that there is extravagance in the circus; the extravagance is captured well and the various routines shown throughout serve as both a good homage to circus acts of the past and also as a good laugh. The antics of Andre also get mention as his attempts to fit into palace life also leads to some pretty fun and enjoyable moments, most of them are showcased in a montage but there is one scene that isn't in a montage and that scene is the scene involving Dinner; in which both the dialog, the actions and the moments help combine to make it one pretty enjoyable/funny/memorable scene.
Whoever heard of a circus without extravagance?
There is a twist halfway throughout the episode that introduces Rataxes and adds some tension to a plot which had no tension whatsoever. Honestly, I couldn't see it going any other way; I can see it going to where Babar tried to get Andre back into the circus but that just isn't the Babar way. This plot twist adds more to an episode that already had enough to begin with, and that's a good thing. This episode continues what the show is doing to it's second most prominent charcater Lord Rataxes, in that it expands his character and sets up character traits for future episodes to come. His love for her wife has been disputed in a couple of episodes before it but in this one, it establishes that Lord Rataxes cares for her and can't stand to see her upset for any reason, he even gets pissed off about it. There are some traits that do derail that (mainly his need to figure out how to make her happy, but it's understandable.) but this is something for those question whether or not those two should be together, they belong together.
Anyways, the Rataxes circus plot adds more to an already great episode. The gags that surround this part are both old fashioned and different at the same time (Rataxes slamming stuff for example.), the situation is both dramatic, sweet, and effective, the dialog between everybody works and it drives several lessons in well. Most notably this is where one of the most infamous/funny moments of the episode happens, the diplomacy bit/running gag between Pompadour and Basil. During the times that it's shown throughout the episode, it progresses and gets more true and ridiculous as time goes on; it makes you laugh every time and it never gets old. Just seeing the two squabble and pull out form after form after form is funny, and Babar's comment at the beginning just sells it whole price.
"It's called diplomacy; it's extremely boring and almost never works."
The antics you see from Babar and Andre near the end of the episode are just plain fun to watch; you know it when you're smiling at Babar's failed attempt to make them laugh and Andre's antics afterward. Andre's antics do serve a dual purpose, to drive the lesson in that you can't change someone and the fact that the people who raised you are your true family and they'll be around to help you no matter what. I feel like that if something has managed to make you laugh and make you learn something then I'd say it's done it's job well; the narration from Adult Babar does drive the point in but I think it's evident just by watching the action alone, though the narration is nice as always.
These moments are very good indeed do you know what drives these pivotal moments?; the animation. This episode contains one of the best usages of animation when it comes to the antics shown; I mean a moment is a moment but what happens when you add some pretty impressive animation, then it becomes something more. I always appreciate it when animators take extra care when it comes to these moments; the timing of the animation, the placement, the extravagant setpieces, the movement and fluidity of the characters. That type of dedication just goes to show that they care about these things and they're working extra hard to make sure everything is right; this is what makes this show (and various other Nelvana shows) good, it shows that these people have huge respect for animation and it shows in their work; regardless of the genre of work, that to me is always a huge plus.
Always a good sight.
What else is there to say? This episode is good all the way through and it just goes to show that Babar is a pretty cool dude. The story is engaging, the moments throughout are enjoyable, the animation is wonderful, it's very, very cute and it's just such a delight to watch. The show may not be as well remembered or mentioned in today's times but episodes like this proves why the show's appeal is timeless; I don't think there is nothing else I can say, this is just a really good episode.
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 02-16-2012 at 10:23 PM.
Reason: correcting quote
disco fuck yourself
I was flipping channels and saw a CG version of this. ???
Keep the faith
An Elephant's Best Friend
Pets, the long time companion; it's always fun when you've got a pet by your side to feed, to bathe, to watch, to be together with. The benefits of having a pet are numerous; so it's almost appropriate that this episode of Babar focuses on a story where the titular character gets a pet that bonds with him almost instantly; though in this case it's a warthog.
The episode doesn't just focus on that one plot; it manages to insert a bully plot, a negotiations plot and a thievery plot all into one. The way it manages to weave these plots together is wonderful; it manages to showcase the situation at hand while still shining the spotlight on the sweet moments and the entertaining moments the episode has to offer. We have Babar with the pet warthog and we have Lord Rataxes and Basil trying to get it back (for good reason; it's understandable that you want to get rid of a pet that she loves but that causes you trouble.); we even have a blockade (the aforementioned situation) going on. Those plots could of been used as separate episodes but to see these three things intersect each other is satisfying and the way that the blockade is being used as a constant grounding (complete with chanting, though the chanting can get repetitive.) just ties the room together; the feeling of the constant protest going on about the blockade can be felt everywhere and if it manages to make you feel that everywhere (despite the different situations) then the episode has done a good job at setting the environment.
The everlasting protest; small but everywhere.
There is a peer pressure mood the makers of the episode were going for and that is evident in scenes that are inside the palace, mainly regarding to negotiation and the situation at hand. Just seeing those scenes where Babar's cohorts (who do get some good moments that aren't specifically tied to the plot) try to pressure him to "do the right thing" while Babar reinforces his constant position which in itself is valid, is evident of that mood. Both positions are understandable as they don't have what they want and that something that they want is what everybody wants. Additionally, the blockade is designed to be somewhat of a tactic to get Rataxes what he wants; while it may be somewhat simplistic, it works; and that's all that matters.
The characterization in this episode is surprisingly on spot. Rataxes may still be his ruthless self but there are the signs of a caring yet somewhat immature husband in there and a ton of the actions shown in the episode support that; surprisingly there are alot of Rataxes moments that aren't one dimensional in nature, the scenes with Basil (who in this episode stands out) are evident of this as it puts Rataxes in a different position then he is known for, showcasing a side of Rataxes we have not seen before. Of course, there are the scenes for which he plays the role of the oaf who tries to do something but fails miserably but you should not count out the scenes where we do see Rataxes, even the scene which has him conversing with Lady Rataxes; besides, the scenes where is an oaf are short and they don't take over the whole episode.
Just goes to show there's a human being in there.
The character of Babar is also explored in a satisfactory way. The way both sides of his character (the blunt side and the caring loving side) are used is congruent and it's done in a way that supports the plot; there is also the worrisome side of Babar that is also showcased in this episode; which definitely shows that even though he has a stern opinion, he too can get lost in what is the right thing to do. The relationship between Babar and the warthog is one that drives the episode and one that provides a lot of the sweet moments in the episode; I mean just watching him and the Warthog interact with each other is enough to put a tear in someone's eye. These moments showcase the bond that he and the warthog have well; and that bond isn't just something that's there, it's an actual emotional connection that two things have for each other, which just enhances the scenes he appears in and the scenes where Babar and one of his cohorts are discussing about the warthog; you can tell that those two are truly inseparable, even when someone tries to take them away from each other.
There are comedic moments involving Basil, Rataxes and the Warthog that do work well within the plot. While they're aren't as funny as previous gags, they're still good for a laugh and as a plus, they're well well written, well timed, and well positioned. (There is also an unrelated gag relating to guards and I thought of that as decent.) They even use the same location for a ending of a joke montage twice, and it doesn't get old for the two times they show it. I don't know, maybe it's because I've seen it before but I just think they're okay; they could of gone a bit further with it though but it's still satisfactory enough (that bit where he dresses up with a woman works because of the elements alone.), especially with the animation at hand.
Speaking of which, the animation still manages to impress. This episode isn't a showcase of the animation but there are areas where the animation shines. There are a ton of scenes which has intricate shading and attention to detail and alot of those scenes aren't even the comedic moments; granted the comedic moments do have animation that is as detailed as it is realistic but there are a lot of scenes that aren't comedic moments that do look just stunning, even the scenes where there are minor differences.
Showcasing the still beautiful animation.
Lastly. There are also two lessons that this episode offers instead of the usual one and those lessons are both vital. "Don't give in to a bully" and "It's hard to let things go", both of those lessons are given equal time throughout the episode and things relating to those lessons shine at the appropriate times, alot of those times being the negotiation scenes and the scenes relating to the Warthog and the palace. Both lessons become more evident as both plots reach their respective conclusions at the end of the episode; Babar and Rataxes may be clashing and Reggie may be reunited with Lady Rataxes but both lessons are clear through the way that they act and the moments that are had; the lessons may have set in without those moments but it's those moments that make the lessons special, those moments that reinforce it.
It's also those moments that make the episode something more; it's really nice that they decided to end the story with Babar still sad and have it transition to the present day where Babar sheds a tear, that is really; really nice in my book. Additionally, it also helps the wraparounds in that it adds to the sweetness of the episode; those wraparounds are also different in that most of the family doesn't appear, it's just Babar and Flora. I don't mind, it helps the episode but it's certainly different from previous wraparounds.
In closing, this is another one in the long running line of good Babar episodes; it's not a classic or anything but it is really, really good. The episode has a sweetness and a emotional core that'll endure with audiences of all kind and it does have something everybody willl enjoy. The comedic moments aren't as funny as before and there are some flaws but it doesn't matter much, this episode is still a delight to watch. Nuff' said.
I just like to say : I love Babar! I live in Poland and it was a pretty popular cartoon at one point!
Thaks for the reviews
I loved this show growing up! Hope you don't mind but adding some of these shots to the wiki which was sorely lacking in content.
Keep the faith
The Show Must Go On
Today's episode of Babar involves a story about a play; but not just any play, the grandest of all plays featuring the world's greatest dancer; one who happens to be an ostrich and who happens to be the bossiest around. Episodes of any TV show revolving around plays tend to go either way, they could focus on a specific point or they could focus on the overall scope of the play as a whole. This episode of Babar manages to balance both things, focusing on the bossiness and the unreasonableness of the ostrich while working towards getting the play ready in time; the play which is constantly in danger.
Now this episode is different from the rest in that it doesn't contain a lot of jokes (in fact, they're use sparingly throughout the episode; Basil impersonating Rataxes as an example.), alot of the episode could be described in two words; "tense" and "hectic". I say that because there is a certain feeling to mostly every scene of this episode; every scene that insists a certain methodology; that "the show must go on". And it's insisted throughout the good and the bad times; even through the few emotional scenes comes out of the "tenseness" and "hecticness" of the scenes in general. That feeling may be common but it's a feeling that works really when used effectively, and in here it's used to the best of it's abilities; helping out every aspect of the naturally progressing plot.
Displays the hecticness quite well.
The way the plot progresses is one of the episode's strong points. It starts out with everything going according to plan and then there's a subtle decline that's introduced early in the program. The way they handle the decline actually works for the plot at hand; these writers were pretty careful in their handling of the moments where things get worse, making sure that the moments that happen feel natural and produce similar obstacles that raise the stakes of the plot, though the plots not without it's missteps. Things do happen suddenly and there are some scenes which could of been placed in better areas (there are scenes which ruin some of the pacing that the plot provides, scenes involving a certain couple.); still, the plot is still one of the nicest things the episode has going for it.
Speaking of which, let's talk about the special Ostrich character, also known as Madame Mazuell Matosa. The way they introduce the Ostrich with her acting like a queen and everybody praising her is appropriate; the show does have a way of introducing characters relating to the plot in a way that fits the plot rather then draws attention to the new character itself, in this case it establishes that she's a main part of the plot and it establishes several of her character traits which will play a vital role in the episode. Even though these sort of introductions have been done before, I felt like it worked within the context of the episode.
The ostrich; drawing a lot of attention to herself.
The introduction does show alot of her true colors early on; it'd be nice if there was some subtly but I guess it was needed for the episode at hand. Alot of this is weaved decently into the plot and even into a recurring theme where she sticks her head into the sand, something which obviously signifies ignorance of the situation; that gives the scenes some metaphorical weight and it also showcases her tendencies as an ostrich. However, it never really feels like the bossiness of the character raises to true heights; alot of it (while having some decent diversions) just seems middle of the road and rarely does it deliver some moments which are worth watching; I will say that when those moments happen, they are worth watching and they are entertaining.
Because of that, the main thing that makes this episode is Babar himself who is forced into the helm of director by the events that happen in this episode. Watching Babar as he tries to handle himself in this situation is wholly satisfying; there is just something about him as he tries to maintain his cool while ensuring that the show has to go on by any means necessary, even as things fall apart all around him. He manages to make the scenes with the Ostrich more by adding his comments and worries to those scenes, which both showcases Babar's character and exploits the flaws of the Ostrich; it ultimately brings the point across that despite the Ostrich's traits which don't hold up, they're ultimately needed for the plot of the episode and the moral of the episode.
Babar, keeping it cool.
Another thing that makes the episode is the addition of a Lord and Lady Rataxes plot to the mix. The episode didn't need one but the plot is worked in a way that makes it look like the episode needed that plot from the beginning; the conflict between Lord Rataxes manly ways and Lady Rataxes sweet sensible ways is put to good use and it's done in a way that doesn't interfere with the main plot of the episode; it's even brought up at decent and relevant times in the episode, helping to establish it's connection to the main plot in a way that helps it makes it a counterpart to that plot. This romance plot shows Rataxes not as a dictator, but as a husband who's trying to appeal to her wife senses but ends up failing more or less... It's helped by the stuff we've seen and the reactions he has; even though we don't see alot of him, we can sense that Rataxes is willing to do anything; even if it means acting in a play with a dress on.
There's also a sense of satisfaction when you're nearing the end of the episode; there's something about seeing all of your favorite characters together trying to put on the show and succeeding at it that just makes it worthwhile; just the cuteness of it and the determination of it as a whole. It also helps that these people all have skills that make their appearances viable and those skills aren't pulled out of thin air; it actually feels like they did some of that stuff before and during the episode. And all that fun, all that preparation; it all builds up to the grand finale where Babar finally realizes he has it in him and they pull off the play with standing ovations; that alone brings the entire story together full circle.
So aside from the story, the series is taking steps to expand it's world. Case in point this is the first time that kids who are not Pom or Alexander become involved in some form of the wraparounds that precede the story; they may exist for the purpose of having a play but I do like that the star of that play has character. The wraparounds themselves may be in a familiar place but they're continuing the trend of being set in different circumstances while still supporting the moral of the episode as a whole. Though this may be unrelated, it is nice that they gave some minor characters names; even though they're playing roles that are common and we will never see them again, the fact that they're being given names is admirable; makes them more like characters then roles.
Additionally, the variety shown in the animation is really impressive. I didn't think that there'd be a number of animated scenes that would stand out but the truth is there are. The animators behind Babar are a real talented bunch; being able to show the beauty of an indoor scene as much as they can an outdoor scene. (and it's fitting; since most of the episode appears to take place indoors.) Animators take note, you could learn a very important lesson similar to the one in this episode; that it doesn't matter whether it's outdoors or not, you can give any local the same tender love and care that you can give to any outdoor scene or any majestic scene; especially when it comes to television animation.
Take note, animators.
In closing; this is a really good story/episode. Despite some glaring flaws, the episode more then handles itself well with it's decent naturally progressing plot and it's characters/moments that will hook you in an instant. It may be lacking in jokes but it more then makes up for it in drama, charm and heart; this may be a bit different from a norm but it's enjoyable and it teaches a good lesson for the children. If you happen to come across it, let's just say you won't be disappointed.
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 03-11-2012 at 09:00 PM.
Reason: changing rating
Keep the faith
To Duet or Not to Duet
The question asked since the dawn of time... Except in the case of the episode it's not being asked in a sense of "will you do this duet or will you won't.", it's in a sense of "can you do it?". Today's Babar teaches kids about the virtues of setting reasonable goals for themselves; burred within 30 animated entertaining minutes as usual... The story here is this; a famous conductor ("Leopold") is coming to Celestville and Babar wants to do something special, a piano solo; but not just any solo, a complex piano solo!; within 4 weeks no less!
Seems like he has no problem with this...
This for me has always been one of "Babar's" enjoyable romps through the jungle, mainly because of the focus on Babar himself. The episode showcases Babar in the role as a person who knows that he has to "Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice" but can't help but to get distracted by other things, all because he can't get past the complexity of the piece; every kid has had this thing before where they couldn't obtain the goals set by themselves in a quick timespan, that's what makes this episode good, it's relatable to every kid in the world. This leads to some pretty good moments in the episode; moments which help set the feeling our main character is feeling and moments that entertain us as a whole. Any other show would be able to do them decently but this show manages to do it in a down to earth way and in a way that gets the message across without any additional hints (silence for one.) plus you can't help to smile when you see Babar goofing off, that's how good it is.
I liked how it switched from a solo to a duet all of a sudden and I liked how the focus of Babar's plot shifted from practicing the piano to trying to stay awake in the second act (due to a nightmare of course); while it may seem like the plot shifts away from the piano, it's more then related to it. The scenes where Babar tries to stay awake are decent enough and it's done in a way that keeps you entertained; more so, there are moments in this part that just manages to give off a respective loose-fun-vibe to things, though these scenes may be short, it's enjoyable to see the sort of party atmosphere going on combined with seeing your favorite characters combined with seeing Babar try to stay awake.
Yup, we still party.
Of course, there is also a second fiddle and while she isn't as big as Babar; she's just as important, she's The Old Lady... Her presence here accounts for almost half of the episode and the scenes that she's in always prove that they're she's kind and caring. You can get a feeling for this as Babar runs to her when he can't handle the stress; while those scenes may showcase how inseparable they are, they also showcase just how heartfelt The Old Lady is and how she can turn a bad thing around into a good thing. There are other scenes that ultimately shows that Babar does not want to disappoint them or even let them down, even if it stresses you out; something which is a running plot point in the episode, up until the very end... And it's understandable too; taking on something so complex, you don't want people to not think you can do it can you?
From the beginning to the climax of the episode, there are a lot of things that get referenced early on then play some sort of major part in the episode; things like events, stuff Babar gives up, the musical composition Babar plays in the beginning; those things may be mentioned like they're minor (and some of them are) but the minorness is not to be understated. Frankly, I'm impressed by the way they managed to use these things in a multiple of ways; to showcase a contrast, to call back to a certain moment in the episode and to support the plot... No one would think that a plot like this would be complex enough for a bunch of references and contrasts to an earlier part of the episode but they manage to prove us wrong. That's what I love about the writers of the show, they go above and beyond; simple as that.
You can't help to tear up when you look at this scene.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of jokes in this episode but there do seem to be a lot of fakeout gags; those gags work really well into tricking you into believing that being on screen is what's happening before revealing the truth, a plus which is sorely needed in today's times. The animation is decent as usual but there are fewer scenes that are showcases; one thing that is a showcase is the lighting of the episode, which manages to portray the mood of the episode effortlessly; and it provides us with a nightmare sequence (two actually) that's reminiscent of the third episode but is nothing like that at all; that's not to say it doesn't fit the episode and as a plus, it's good.
While this may not be one of Babar's most talked about romps, it's still a good romp regardless. There is just a lot that makes this episode; seeing Babar will put a smile on your face and seeing The Old Lady and Babar together will put a tear in your eye; plus you learn a pretty good lesson as a whole and you come out feeling satisfied. So this is just another day for Babar... meaning that it's another quality episode.
Keep the faith
The Missing Crown Affair
Over the three years it was on the air, the show has managed to do homages to some of the most prominent genres in history; here the show takes on a Sherlock Holmes-like mystery in only the most "Babar" way it can and ends up succeeding with flying colors. There are a lot of things that make this work and a lot of things that make this exciting, there are also a lot of showcases for the animation team at hand.
With Babar and Zephir being the best of friends, you'd think that the show would pair them up more oftenly; I mean those two have a chemistry that is at least natural. While the show didn't pair them up; they make up for it by having it be the very first time they pair up and the first time they do pair up is a delight. While Zephir may be playing the bit that appears in every children's show but he does so in a way that sets him apart from the pack and plays a decent counterpart to the straight-man Babar, who as the episode goes on becomes more and more relatable. Zephir's actions will cause anybody to laugh; I don't know if he was made to be the loose cannon but he does such a great job that I wouldn't mind if the actor behind him was chosen specifically because he could do that role. You'll laugh as you witness Zephir play the role of a Sherlock Holmes detective; pulling stuff out of thin air, changing his hat into a detectives hat, meeting up in the oddest of places and short guessing the clues with some degree of accuracy; he does retain alot of his personality so he hasn't become a detective for the entire episode and that's what makes this performance so entertaining; he doesn't become one thing, he just adds it temporarily to his character.
Zephir; loveable Zephir.
Babar as the straight man is a decent idea and it's also a natural one. With his personality, it's natural that he'd think of it as silly... it provides a very decent contrast to Zephir's zany antics as he constantly maintains his own opinion while being disproven somewhat at every turn; I mean without him Zephir's antics would just be zany, but with him they're something more; way more... The writers behind the episode also made sure that Babar got progression throughout the episode, becoming more and more worried as the episode reaches it's conclusion. It's actually nice that they did that, it's more believable to have him be very worried then to not be worried at all; no one is that brave, not even Babar; plus it provides a decent way to advance the plot and it provides alot of the best moments in the episode, including one that I wish would of gone on for much longer.
The mystery homage in the episode is done in a way that's both dramatic and cute; there are actually a ton of moments that actually pay respect to mystery movies of the past with scenes that have a sense of secrecy, scenes that have a sense of urgency and settings that draw back to the secret places of old. While some of the scenes may be common, a lot of the scenes do seem like they came straight out of a mystery movie; with the obligatory Babar twist of course. It helps that they actually tried to form a mystery with a sense of secrecy; there are scenes which seem like they don't play any roles but do later on in the episode, there are boxes who's contents are unknown, there are known people who's actions suddenly become funny and mysterious and there are scenes that throw you off the trail. It's actually pretty nice that they included a mystery for the family to try to solve, it can't be all antics all the time; I mean it can but then it wouldn't exactly be the same...
The stuff that happens around the palace does seem a bit obvious but I blame that on being a children's show rather then poor writing, there are scenes with counteract that with the obviousness being toned down and the subtly taking it's place; so it's nice that they thought about the intelligence of the audience. The characters we've all come to know and love play their roles well and do them with a sense of charm that helps lessen the tension of the mystery while raising it at the same time. For example: Cornelius and Pompador's antics may be obviously suspicious but the stuff that they do makes you laugh hard enough for you not to worry about that; the whole bit with the masked man is a nice turn on the common confrontation situations and while the Old Lady may be doing her vocals in an odd way, it's clear that she was having some fun doing it; plus the various disguises donned and the characters introduced help out the environment tremendously.
Of course, all of that doesn't matter if the animation doesn't drive it and in here; it does. The episode itself could be called a showcase and an example of how lighting should be done, especially real time lighting. There are a lot of scenes involving light in this episode, flashlights shined on people, doors opening and closing, sudden changes in light; not only does it help the mystery aspect of it but it's just wonderful to look at. The people who worked on this show have tremendous talent that could of been applied to any show; I mean there are millions of shows these animators could of worked on and at least one show would contain that brilliance that they learned from working on Babar. Anyways... It's a shame shows don't do this type of lighting anymore because it's wonderful; who cares if it costs a lot of money, animators should go the extra mile when it comes to including this stuff because this type of stuff is what makes shows like these look beautiful; that and the wonderful animated backgrounds throughout that look like the people took the time to fill in every detail, again the people who worked on the show were wonderful... Helped to make the show look timeless.
A showcase of the wonderful lighting.
So it seems like "Babar" has done it again... This episode successfully pays homage to mystery movies of the past while adding that "Babar" charm. It's mysterious, it's dramatic, it's funny, it's cute, it contains an actual mystery and best of all, it's fun to watch; especially with the family. The animation is wonderful throughout and those 30 minutes will fly by like nothing; Babar and Zephir will not leave you disappointed, in fact they will leave you pleasantly pleased.
Keep the faith
Babar closes out it's first season the same as it started; with a bang... And it also introduces something that we thought we'd never see; flashbacks of Babar's childhood life in Paris. With this episode, the people behind Babar shows us exactly what prime children's/family television is supposed to be; going above and beyond as they usually do to prove that.
First off... I gotta give praise to where praise is due; the animation. The first shots we see of Paris are simply beautiful, a sight to see!; in fact what can be seen is one of the finest showcases for the shows animation anybody has ever known... There are tons of various settings which showcase the exquisite detail and mood wonderfully, at many times feeling like you're actually there; helping matters a lot is the lighting of many scenes, tons of which manage to sell to you full price the impression that this is a living breathing city with age and life to it; hell, they even manage to make a number of things look very gritty and dirty. Animated shows are just cut clean, even when dealing with derelict stuff but the way the show does it truly gives the impression that it's run down, dank, used and at some times, even abandoned.
One of the things the series has been known for is scenes that look like well-done paintings and that's brought to more of a focus here with the various settings, which is a good thing because the attention of these scenes can't be denied. Makes you wish more shows would do these types of scenes though, many animated series don't exactly do these types of things anymore and in this day and age, those types of scenes would be refreshing to see. There are even some moments where the backgrounds transition from one to another and scenes where the smallest amount of detail can be seen. Paris is one of the most beautiful places in the world, there are tons of things that make Paris is and it would be a shame if someone underrepresented it; I'm glad that these animators didn't take that for granted as every scene is as impressive as the next. One of the wonders of the episode is admiring the animation. Sure, screenshots can show the detail but one has to watch the episode in order to fully appreciate it; just seeing their hard work and the time they took to make it look good unfold on your small screen, the hard work that could pass for cinema quality; I know I have said this before but never in a way like this, you'll be as amazed as the people who worked on the show.
Tons of impressive animation; tons...
Now then... today's story of Babar is one that the show always does well, and it's the story of Babar and another person; whether or not that person is a very close friend, someone who appears in a guest star role or even one of his associates, it always manages to result in episodes which are heartfelt and charming. In this case, the person is the aforementioned "Phantom" who resides in an abandoned playhouse, who's real name is unknown. In this story, Babar encounters the Phantom after hearing a piece of music coming from the playhouse and bonds instantly with him, gaining the desire to help the Phantom out in any way possible; over time growing to the point where he can't stand but to help him out, leading to one of the greatest conclusions the show has ever done. (Won't spoil it for you though, but let's just say it's both surprising and heartwarming at the same time.) Our introduction to the titular character is done well, with his introduction being as haunting and dramatic as it was built up to be; his personality is wonderfully done and as a plus, is accustomed to the mood of the episode as a whole; sure, there may be times where his behavior isn't believable but if you were forced to live alone without any human contact, wouldn't you live like that?
Besides, it's just so cool to see him swing and act all mysterious; plus that voice is amazing... It's nice of the writers to include a fleshed out backstory for the Phantom, these characters may not look like they need the backstory but regardless, they always seem to give the characters the extra attention to detail that others often neglect. The backstory are told through flashbacks which serve a dual purpose; showcasing the life of the character and standing out as an animated statement. These scenes are done in a modest way, showing the Phantom character in common (but deep) settings while he narrates his life story; while nothing major happens in these scenes, there doesn't need to be anything major happening as his backstory gets across clear as a bell; plus it helps the story and gives the Phantom character reasoning for his actions and a sense of personality.
Babar and the Phantom; a classic combination!
Babar also manages to be characterized in an exceptional way; even though it feels like it's joining his somewhat established Paris life already in progress, our first sight of the character in Paris is one that intrigues us because it's our first real glimpse into his childhood life in Paris, something which would be explored later on in the second season. Some of the stuff that made Babar the loveable character he is has made the transition intact but in a way that reminds us of the Babar we first saw in the jungle; his most important character traits remain (kindness, intrigue, enthusiasm and his sweetness) and a lot of those traits carries the best moments in the episode, mainly due to the fact that actor behind the young Babar has talent; he actually knows how to emote during those vital moments in the episode. Very few child actors can actually portray emotion during an scene, it's nice to see that there's an actor out there who could actually bring any kind of feeling to a scene and help the episode as a whole. Shame he didn't get more work after this though...
His performance is really engaging, mainly due to the fact that a lot of his performance contains some form of relatability. Whenever he's chatting it up with the Phantom or poking around in the playhouse, you can't help but to relate to him in some form; he's just someone you could easily relate to, he's the kid everybody was at one time or another. From the moments where he gets scared to the moments where he gets excited to even the moments where he confused/depressed, you'll relate with him every step of the way. There is also alot of charm to his performance; It's especially pleasing to see him being carried around on the streets, seeing him play soccer and interact with the various people around him (including the better then usual and more meaningful moments with the Old Lady); it's just so fun and cute!
Even though the two don't exactly have the best chemistry, they do work well together and they serve the purpose of the story perfectly. The story here is told in a way that gives it depth and appeal; more so then your average children's series and there are a lot of factors that give it that depth and appeal; one of those factors being the presentation itself. The presentation could almost be described as cinematic, with scenes that have the majesticy and sentimentability that you'd usually see in a film in a movie theater; it may not be full blown cinematic but alot of it does have that cinematic feel... The scenes in the playhouse are an example of this, there's just a lot of things that excite the imagination; when you're watching those scenes, you could almost feel the grandness of it all as you witness the various wonders and the intricate details the abandoned playhouse has to offer. Aside from being wonderfully told, it also manages to weave several themes within the story; themes of concern, themes of isolation and themes of dedication. The themes themselves are wonderfully portrayed throughout the story and they're portrayed in a way that voices the message loud and clear and helps enhance the morale of the story; to the minor but important parts of the story to the dramatic end where life & death (in a way that makes it serious) is on the line.
There is a theme which is used in a which which ties the entire thing together, many may say it's the playhouse but the me, it's a musical piece which plays an essential part of the story. Sure, the playhouse has a thematic contrast to it (which actually represents the isolation aspect pretty well and gives the episode metaphorical weight) but the musical piece is the one that holds everything together from beginning to end and the way that it's used to tie everything together is both unexpected and impressive, mainly considering that it's used in a way no one expects and the way it is used gives a lot of underlining meaning; to the song, the Phantom, the playhouse and ultimately Babar himself, making it into so, so much more... Case in point, this is what the modern Simpsons writers wish they could achieve in their lifetimes.
Tons of cinematic charm...
In closing... This is one of "Babar's" finest episodes yet and a mighty fine way to close out it's first and ultimately classic season. There are barely any flaws to the episode; every bit of the episode has some form of depth and the overall package of very entertaining. There's a certain cinematic charm to the story itself and it will keep you invested until the end; you'll be entranced by the charm and the characters and you'll be amazed by the amount of detail that they managed to pack into this episode (especially in the animation) as the episode plays out on your TV screen. This is something that you and the family will enjoy and if you're not convinced then let Alexander and Flora play you a bit of piano; seriously. A must see.
Keep the faith
Babar: Season 1
In the history of animation we have had several animated series, some of them cemented among popular culture and some of them just forgotten about; among those animated shows comes gems who's value is either recognized or neglected. "Babar" is one of those gems though you may not have heard of it before since it's barely mentioned at all; a shame because it's one of those animated shows that truly deserves the attention for it's sheer beauty, a beauty that has been neglected for all those years.
Every animated series has to start somewhere and this is where it's first season comes in. Babar's first season serves as the perfect start to what would be a pinnacle in children's television; proof of this is the first three episodes of the season (which consist of an aforementioned trilogy). Through these three episodes, you get introduced to the surrealistic world of well... "Babar" and you become antiquated as quickly as you're introduced, something which few television series can do; by the end of these three episodes, you'll supposedly be won over by the quality and the heartfelt charm and you'll probably be telling everyone you know to watch this.
One of the things that makes this a pinnacle in children's television is it's courage to go where few series have gone before; especially in life & death situations. As everybody knows, in the first episode there is a scene where Babar's mother gets killed; a scene that's as dark, somber, heartfelt and compassionate as you'd expect. Barely any animated shows would go near the concept of life & death (with a couple of episodes containing people dieing) or even realistic guns but the fact that one TV show manages to go near that subject and not be afraid to portray it as it is, that alone makes it different from the pack. It's not one time only, there are various moments throughout the season which showcase life & death situations and a sense of fear and worry (with one containing an actual threat and actual danger) throughout the season; and these situations aren't contrived, they're portrayed in a natural manner that gives the impression that they're truly in danger. It's nice because it actually makes the world more real and it just makes you connect more with the show. The show has always managed to maintain it's world while maintaining some sort of realism; I mean you're watching elephants wear clothes and yet you can relate to them every step of the way, says a lot about the world they inhabit and society these days.
You don't see stuff like this everyday.
Aside from the danger, there are things like the characters to focus on and in that regard it does well; the main character Babar is a delight to watch, spanning a wide range that covers just about anything and delivering a performance that almost anybody can relate to. His presence drives many of the shows best moments (including this seasons), whether it be comedic or emotional or even just natural and whether or not it's his younger self or his older self (who is usually narrating since this season is mainly his stories surrounded by wraparounds featuring the kids), he just seems so cool and relatable. The other characters fare as well as him but don't get as much screen time as Babar. Out of the few, I would have to say that Arthur, Zephir, Celeste, Pompador, Rataxes and the Old Lady deserve as much mention as Babar himself. All of these characters play a role, Celeste the love interest, Arthur and Zephir the zany bunch, Rataxes the rival and rhino with a sweet wife (Lady Rataxes) and the sweet old Old Lady but they don't let the roles define them; they mange to define their own character within these roles. Whether it be through opinion, dialog, actions, or even relationships, they define themselves from the characters that are out there today and this season gives us a nice introduction to all of these characters, even the small minor ones who we'll never see again.
There is also a wide variety of plots within the season's 13 episodes, ranging from dramatic ("The Phantom") to comedic ("Race to the Moon") to action ("Babar's Triumph") to even romantic ("Babar's Choice"). It's amazing how varied Babar's episodes are, it's like the writers saw the world and decided to take advantage of it by creating a variety of plots, and it's not like they stopped at generic plots (though they did do some of it), they even decided to do full blown homages which fully pay respect to the works of old. The writers behind the show know how to write these plots and they back it up by creating mostly deep, compelling works that knows when to take it serious and when to take it lightly; when they take it seriously, they manage to make scenes reminiscent of an experience at the movie theater; scenes in "The Phantom", "The Great Crown Caper" and "Babar's First Steps" showcasing this. When watching the scenes, you can't help but to be taken in by both the situations and the settings themselves and thanks to the superb presentation, the scenes greatly enhance those episodes that they're in; what makes them what they are is that they're not doing it for the sake of it, they're doing it to move along the plot or to help out a moment, making them much, much more.
When they do take it lightly, they manage to include a few jokes here and there but what makes these jokes different is that they're not mainly puns or cheap gags. There are the usual slapstick, wisecracks and visual gags but they're done in a way that gives it an old time feel and fits the show perfectly; Zephir's antics in "The Great Crown Caper" are funny and enjoyable mainly because there's no pressure whatsoever, they're just having fun with the dialog and the animations; just like the good old days and it's surprisingly refreshing, despite the fact that it's been 10x over; that says a lot about a show. They also manage to include some smart humor in there; for example, there is a joke in "Babar's Choice" that involves a Gazebo being built in a small size. That joke contains the appropriate visuals, the appropriate responses and the appropriate setup and punchline, it's much like a joke that you'd find in a Simpsons episode, except you'd never expect to find it in Babar.
Both dramatic and comedic.
What truly made the show stand out was that it wasn't strictly targeted towards kids; this was targeted towards families, (which few shows really do anymore.) there is a lot of stuff that is aimed towards kids but there are also a lot of stuff that the adults watching the show will like; in fact you may become a fan of this show yourself. A lot of episodes include hints (especially when it comes to mysteries) or references that kids would miss out on but adults would catch and that's good for you because while the kids are laughing at the screen, you're watching the show and you're being rewarded for watching because the show is treating you as a respected viewer; it's not treating you like the person forced to watch this stuff, it's treating you like a human being. Additionally, it's easy to watch with the kids. This season introduces the charm that would come to define the show as a whole but hat makes this charm unique is that it isn't driving the series per say, it's done in a way that is sweet but not to sweet that it gets in the way of your viewing experience, meaning that both kids and adults can enjoy it without having differing opinions; that definitely helps the family because you don't have to work up the tolerance for it, you can just sit back, relax and get sucked into the world of Babar. The charm also helps to make a lot of episodes what they are, I mean without the charm; do you think that the series would do as well?
Plus let's not forget about the animation. I know I mentioned it a lot in my reviews but there aren't enough times you can mention it plus modern animators really should take a page from their book. I don't know what the budget was for the show but it looks like a highly budgeted animated movie in a ton of scenes, complete with film production and everything. (something which nobody does since the move to modern animation, something which can never top film-based animation.) Highly detailed backgrounds, amazing lighting, smooth animation, it's really breathtaking. I have taken tons of screenshots of the animation but frankly it's more impressive in motion; if you believe that television animation is cheap (especially modern animation) then this will make you change your mind. This animation is a prime example of an era where animation was unique and impressive and the animators themselves went to leap and bonds to show off their craft.
A great success.
This season has a consistent quality feeling to it; something that is unheard of except for a few other TV series. Every episode may not be as good as the next but it is consistency good, with barely any deviation from the norm. There are barely any faults or bad episodes, hell there aren't even episodes that are rated below 7.5/10 (which is the lowest rating this season has managed to garner.) Every episode here is highly rated and has something that makes it memorable or extra special; those of which you'll find out as you watch the season. If there were any faults I'd have to say that it does sort of pander to the audience occasionally, there are some things which are overused and a lot of the flashbacks feels like it's in progress with barely any explanation whatsoever but those faults are minor compared to the entire season and besides, there are bound to be some mistakes during your first season.
So what more can I say? The first season of "Babar" is a wonderful start to what would be a wonderful series. There is barely anything to complain about, it manages to take the books and translate that to TV in it's own way (though some things are left out or changed). A lot of the season is surprisingly deep, containing scenes that could be considered cinematic caliber and featuring moments that go above and beyond. It manages to break barriers in regards to what a children's TV series could do in a lot of areas, especially when it comes to life & death; something which other series won't even touch. It's easily accessible, it's plots are enjoyable and it's characters are well thought of; and it just manages to suck you into it's world. If you've never heard of Babar or doubted him then you need to watch the first season, it's a very nice introduction to one of animations most underrated shows. Hell, preorder the DVD if you're so inclined, you may have me to thank for that.
Best Episodes: "Babar's First Steps", "Babar Returns", "Babar's Triumph", "No Place Like Home", "The Missing Crown Affair", "The Phantom", "City Ways", "Race to the Moon"
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 04-07-2012 at 03:18 PM.
Reason: adding images
disco fuck yourself
Reading the "season 1" complete review post which you talk about all of the show kind of makes me want to preorder the DVD before I even watched any of the show at all.
Keep the faith
Last edited by Zombies Rise from the Sea; 04-08-2013 at 03:09 AM.
disco fuck yourself
Keep the faith
The first season of "Babar" was a resounding success as people who had HBO or watched the CBC gathered around to tube to watch the adventures of one charming elephant. It was so successful that the suits over at Nelvana got an obvious idea in a meeting, saying. "Hey, people loved it right; therefore we have to put out another one of these." and everybody else nodded in agreement and so here we are; the start of the second season.
This episode that starts our season starts out like every other episode before it. Babar telling a story (with wraparounds that are both agressive and calming) and flashbacks to when they were kids and in this story, Celeste and Zephir get into a disagreement over who caused an automobile accident which both were involved in (hence the title) and Babar gets involved in the middle of it, ultimately being forced to resolve it despite his opposition; this story showcases one of the things that Babar does best, both people being at fault. It's always nice when the show does this because it just shows that there doesn't have to be one person at fault, it just makes the show feel more dynamic then it's peers. The whole "being at fault" thing plays a more obvious role then in previous episodes but that's a good thing because it's done in a non-pandering way and it fuels the disagreement between these two characters; the disagreement that makes this episode very engaging.
Celeste and Zephir are two of Babar's most recognizable characters, each with their own traits that make them different; Zephir being the wacky one and Celeste being the more sensible one. One would not expect them to be paired together and in this case, you'd be somewhat right; the show pairs them together with a car accident that is as random and unexpected as anybody would think. Pairing them in this way is a good thing because there isn't any sort of awkward connection that would hamper the disagreement; well they are friends but the way the accident is portrayed sort of covers up that connection. The psuedo-pairing of Celeste and Zephir is a good one and one that drives the episode at that; they seem almost at home as they argue and trade barbs between one another, giving you an idea that this may be what their relationship is like. The actors behind the characters pull of the rivalry well, managing to pull out all of their arguing stops and their snarky side in order to give views the impression they're actually fighting, they even manage to include some emotion here and there; without these actors, these scenes wouldn't be the same. The pairing isn't as recognizable as you'd expect it but it's there and it plays a major part in the episode as expected.
Celeste and Zephir, not exactly the best of pairs.
The story is told in a way that somewhat unique for Babar; all of the scenes are naturally paced but there is a lurking feeling that things are getting more ridiculous. You may think the ridiculousness would derail the episode but the truth is that the episode handles that wonderfully, it builds on it with every succeeding scene that leads into the next in a way that's reasonable and believable; those scenes manage to slowly elevate the ridiculousness while letting the three's issues(Babar, Celeste and Zephir; who all get appropriate time in the spotlight) intertwine with each other. The issues they have are both separate and one at the same time, meaning that while each person has their own issue to deal with, their issues ultimately come together to form the focal point of the episode as a whole. Take for instance the crossing guard; it sort of plays as a sidestep to the whole disagreement/automobile accident thing but it acts as a weight that gives a grounding to the situation at hand; both things may be different but by the end of the episode, you'll realize they have a common grounding that binds the two and also ties the entire room together. The momentum slowly builds scene after scene, moment after moment until it gets to the climatic point of the episode, the courthouse.
The courthouse takes up the second act and serves as the perfect setting for a homage to courtroom movies of all types, which they do here. The crowded room, the two people arguing at each other, the person typing everything down, the recitals, the testimony; the judging, every aspect just reminds you of a courtroom movie, it's not exactly 100% but they do take the concept more seriously then other cartoons and it manages to be a successful homage regardless. I would have to take note at the number of people outside of the courtroom, I mean it is blowing it up a little bit but I guess it fits the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Anyways... The entire thing manages to be both serious and humorous at the same time with an heir of conflict coming from a trial and an easy going feeling complete with Babar gaining yet another profession to include on his resume alongside with some beautifully animated testimonial scenes; both feelings are balanced well and neither manages to get in the way of the scenes themselves, in fact they go so far as to compliment them. If there was one thing that was wrong, it would be that they decided to dress up as if they were injured; if you were tuning in just as the second act was starting, you'd be tricked into thinking that they were actually injured, it's kind of an obvious thing to do but I'll let it slide as they do use it in a way that charmingly pleasing.
Just like an actual courtroom. (bonus included.)
Throughout the episode, despite the fact that there is a disagreement, we can't help but to have fun; the episode seems to notice this and as such lets itself loose more often then not, there are a ton of enjoyable moments in this episode which support the dramatic moments (such as the crash itself) as well as make you laugh with charm and absurdity. Take for instance the Tennis scene, it may involve a disagreement but they make up for it by having slick visuals, subtle jokes and appropriate reactions that make the scene a delight to watch. The characters are also funny with Pompador and Cornelius being standouts here; their humor is more subtle as most of it is in the dialog and the actions that they do, it may not be overly obvious but if you pay close attention then you can get the humor; they do get in some personality based humor and the running gag that they have going on is good, it even plays an essential part of the plot and you can't forget about the small stuff that goes on, the small stuff that's as chuckle worthy as it is charming; yet we can't forget about Babar as he charmingly tries to reunite the two. His efforts are seen as the episode progresses and when we reach the point in the episode where they battle it out in court, his efforts work out giving us a tremendous payoff and a nice way to cap off the 20 minutes we just spent with him.
And yet, there could of been more. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting "Babar's First Steps" but I am expecting more from a season premiere; this feels like an episode that could of aired in the middle of a season rather then one that would launch the season; of course this may have produced this episode as if they were in the middle of the season, I don't know how children's television shows are produced but I do know that they should of put a little bit more into it. It does have everything you want; quality animation, quality acting, charm but still... Despite that, it manages to start off the second season successfully and joins the long running line of enjoyable Babar episodes. The disagreement between Celeste and Zephir manages to be the perfect base for what we'll be watching for the next 20 minutes, they manage to provide a story that's as involving as it is rewarding and even though it's told in a slightly unique way, it still manages to be good, with the unique way ultimately enhancing the episode. It's not one of Babar's best but it's a episode that will not let you down and one that you'll ultimately enjoy as a whole.
I find you both... Friends.
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