Anti-Socialization: “Helicopter Dad” review

Sometimes, people just want to be alone. Is that so hard to understand?

I know some people are under the impression that a preference for solitude must mean there’s something wrong with you. Bullshit I say! I typically like being alone because it allows me to focus on the task at hand, whether it be writing, or reading, or watching a television program.

You gotta focus, it’s the only way to get things done.

But there are other reasons to crave solitude. For instance, you may find most people irritating. That’s a very good reason. I wish I could relate, but most of the people I know I don’t find irritating. Well, some people I do find irritating, my family for instance. Which is why the latest episode of Littlest Pet Shop hit especially close to home.

In case you have forgotten, I love the new series of Littlest Pet Shop. It reminds me of the early days of My Little Pony, when it was still good. Except this show has a much better theme song.

Anyway, this episode is all about socialization, and solitude. We meet a new character, Olive the Tortoise. Not a turtle, a tortoise. Really? We’re gonna do this again? Anyway, turns out she’s pretty shy, as the pets try to introduce themselves, and she stays inside her shell.

I had a pet turtle, and yes, they can recede into their shells, but you can still see their faces. But this is an old trope for cartoon turtles, that they can completely recede into their shells so you can’t see anything. They can even leave their shells. But that not true in reality. I’m not complaining, I just thought I’d mention it. Though I’m not sure why.

Best joke of the episode: “Which hole is her face? I don’t want to be talking to the wrong end.”

So they keep trying to coax her out, but she stays inside, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out at the end of the episode that it’s just an empty tortoise-shell. Perhaps the owner never noticed.

Pepper makes a joke referring to inter-species breeding, so I’ll have to take back what I said earlier this week with regards to shipping.

So the pets eventually give up, except for Minka who starts harassing the poor shell. This will not end well.

Meanwhile, Blythe is being dropped off at school, as her dad plays some air guitar very loudly. Attracting the attention of nearby tossers who laugh at him. Causing Blythe much shame.

He says he won’t be able to pick her up later because he has a commuter flight that day, and won’t be able to make it. Remember, he’s a pilot.

Okay, fine. But one problem: He has a commuter flight? Commuter flights are typically run on small planes for commuters making regular trips. Typically because they also travel small distances, but I’m sure there are other reasons. Anyway, this throws me off because unless my memory is failing me, five weeks ago (episode 12) he flew a goddamn 747 to Hollywood. And I know it’s unlikely my memory failed me since I saw the episode earlier this week.

I have a hard time believing a pilot licensed to fly a jumbo jet would ever go back to a prop plane. Nor do I believe that the airline would waste the likely limited resources of highly experienced pilots licensed for the largest and most complex planes, on a commuter flight when there are likely many more available pilots without those licences.

Unless I’m way off on how these licences work. Perhaps getting licensed for a jumbo jet is easier than I thought. Which actually kinda bothers me.

Anyway, we get a bit of banter between Blythe and Roger, and we learn something that I wouldn’t consider news. Roger is one of those ‘lame dads’ who try to be cool, and hip with the times, but fail epicly and don’t even notice.

There’s something that bugs me. Given the delivery, I assumed Roger was lying about the commuter flight, but given later dialogue, I don’t think he was. I’m gonna blame the VA for this one. It just feels so forced and rehearsed. Which it was, but the point of acting is that you don’t show that.

Roger also mentions he feels bad they don’t get to spend much time together. Well, I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s part of your job. Blythe understands. Just make the most of the time you have on the ground. Go see a movie with your daughter, have lunch, hit the fair grounds, see a concert, walk through the park, go shopping. And while you’re doing all that, share what’s going on in your lives, funny stories you haven’t told yet, views and opinions. And don’t spend the entire time texting or talking on the phone. I might be a little bitter right now, bear with me.

So, Roger drives off, and as Blythe is getting ready for class, her father surprises her by hiding behind her locker. Um… What? Well, seems Roger, or The Rahge, as he likes to be known, is going to be spending the whole day with Blythe.

Oh, and thanks Sue for stating the obvious, we really needed that.

So it turns out Rahge got someone else to cover for him, likely someone at a lower pay-grade.

Blythe is excited. Her father hanging out is going to be so much fun! Really? I remain skeptical. I don’t know about other people, but in high school, that would have bothered me to no end, no matter how much fun my father might have been. I guess he could blend in so easily, no one would notice. But it’s not just the views of other people. It’s the fact that I would like some space. This kind of parenting is also known as smothering. But he’s also mostly absent in Blythe’s life so that might have something to do with it.

So, as Blythe is chatting with Youngmee, Rahge somehow gets his hand caught in a ring binder clamp, then ends up in the nurses office. Which shows me he’s a pussy. But it pays off since I’m pretty sure he starts flirting with the school nurse. Go for it man! She’s pretty hot!

Time passes and we see him get in trouble with the school principal. Who’s not amused with the man’s antics.

At lunch, Blythe spots a new student who is apparently very attractive. I say he’s a new student because she acts like she never saw him before. But… wait. Okay, scratch that, his name’s Josh, and she did see him before. In the episode Blythe’s Crush, where she chases him all across town. So why is she acting so dreamy-eyed here? That’s more of a love-at-first-sight look. I guess it’s to introduce the fact that she likes him, but it’s a bit heavy-handed.

Actually, I thought those two didn’t even go to the same school. Because if they did, they would have met at school and not in the middle of the park.

Whatever, so her father starts saying that she doesn’t look so good since she’s red in the face, and she must be sick, because he’s fucking oblivious. He lists off the symptoms of love and romantic attraction, and embarrassment, and she scampers off. Not so excited anymore are ya Blythe?

Back at the pet shop, Minka keeps on harassing the turtle shell, and I’m surprised we didn’t see a fist pop out of one of the holes and knock her out.

Russel tries to get her to stop, but then she decides to parody Braveheart and declares that she will never give up. But the others decide to back off. Obviously it’s not worth it to them.

Minka argues that the turtle’s refusal to leave the shell does not mean she doesn’t want a friend. I don’t know about that. I think it precisely means she doesn’t.

Back at the school, it’s gym class and for some reason, Roger is participating. They’re playing volleyball and he sucks at it. He also keeps stealing shots from Blythe, pissing her off to no end.

Eventually, the day ends and the two arrive at the Littlest Pet Shop. Twombly explains that her sister’s sick, and she’s gonna visit her after closing. But Blythe takes advantage of the situation, and says she’ll take over until closing, since Twombly’s sister obviously needs her. Of course her father wouldn’t want to stay with her at work right? Well… no.

So Roger is a nuisance to Blythe as she is trying to work. She tries to get away by declaring she needs to check on the pets, but sadly, he doesn’t leave her side. This actually causes a problem since she can’t talk to them while someone else is watching, it’ll blow her cover.

They spot the tortoise, and Roger suggests they do the Howdy-doo song. Apparently it’s something Blythe did in her preschool talent show. It’s appropriately lame, and they also start to dance. When Josh, her crush, walks into she shop asking for dog whistles.

She’s appropriately embarrassed.

Back in the pet’s room, Minka tries a new strategy: She forces Olive into friendship. By the way, the tortoise still has not left her shell.

In the front of the store, Roger actually starts causing messes and continues to be a nuisance to Blythe. She goes into the back and tries to unwind with Minka and Olive. Minka dismisses the idea that Olive wants to be alone, so Blythe explains how her day went. So Minka gives her the obvious advice: Tell him how you feel.

Roger comes in and Blythe quickly hides behind a pile of animals. Yes, that is as weird as it sounds.

But a sneeze blows her cover and a few screeches from Minka convince her to confront her father on how she feels. So they talk, but Roger keeps interrupting her. And even when she does explain, he can’t take the hint until she screams: “I JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE!!!”

Pushy much?

Anyway, he doesn’t really take it well and sulks off.

Meanwhile, Minka’s acting like a schizophrenic. She’s talking to Olive and responding to what she’s saying, but Olive isn’t saying anything. In fact she still hasn’t left her shell.

She then tries a bit of tortoise empathy, by hiding under a bowl. Cue fantasy sequence where the two of them do nothing at various locations. It’s pretty funny.

Minka tries to yell at the tortoise to come out, but gets no reaction and finally decides to give up. It’s at this moment that Olive finally emerges and says, “And I was just starting to like you.”

Actually, this is the most bizarre part of the episode. Why did she suddenly decide to come out now? What changed? I’m so very confused. I actually started to assume that Minka was actually hallucinating this part. It would certainly fit her character.

Back to Blythe, apparently she feels bad or something, due to her outburst, and starts to sulk. Then Olive’s owner walks in. His name is Ken and it appears that he’s an old friend of Roger. They start to reminisce and Blythe goes into the back to get the tortoise. She sees Minka and Olive finally getting along, and like I said, it comes totally out of left field.

Blythe bursts into tears and hides in one of the play structures. Um… okay.

Ken leaves with Olive and Roger tries to comfort his daughter. Apparently she’s sad because she’s alone. No she’s not. She’s got the talking pets, her friends, her father… okay maybe not her father, but that’s irrelevant. Girl, you don’t know what loneliness is. When you haven’t seen your best friends in months, start crying to me.

Anyway, they both apparently learn moderation, and try to leave the play structure, but it appears that Roger is stuck. So, they start singing. Hey Russell, get off your ass and grab some butter or something!

So, that’s this week’s episode, and I kinda liked it. My only problem: the ending. Everything that comes after the point just before Olive finally emerges, feels forced and rushed. I still don’t know why she finally came out. Minka didn’t really do much to endear herself to Olive. I guess it has something to do with the fact that she finally gave up. Better ending:

Minka: I give up. [walks off]
[Russell walks by with a clipboard]
Olive: Is she gone?
Russell: GAH! [throws clipboard in the air] Uh… yeah?
Olive: [slowly emerges] Ugh, finally. She’s a bit of a pain isn’t she?
Russell: I guess…
Olive: Say, you wanna play a round of chess or something?
Russell: Uh… sure…
[Olive walks off-screen, Russell follows]
Russell: Weird…

See, that makes more sense, fits the character, and we get a reason for her emergence.

I know, we got no characterization out of her until those final scenes, but the little characterization we did get out of Olive doesn’t really fit with a character who spends 90 per cent of the episode locked in her shell.

Then there’s Blythe bursting into tears because she feels alone. Oh, I’m sure your animal friends appreciate that reaction. You cry, “I’m so alone,” as your friends are standing right next to you.

So, yeah, it started strong, but ended weak.

After watching the episode, I noticed some have criticized it based on Roger’s characterization. I think I understand… well, no I don’t. It’s a bit cartoonish, but that’s not exactly new. He’s acted like this since the beginning of the series. We’ve just never seen this much of him, so it may come as a shock to see so much absurdity at once, when before it was sprinkled throughout the episodes. I guess the problem is, people just don’t like Roger, and I can certainly understand that.

Next week, Blythe drops her necklace into some cupcake batter. Hilarity ensues.


4 responses to “Anti-Socialization: “Helicopter Dad” review

  1. >Oh, and thanks Sue for stating the obvious, we really needed that.

    What are you referring to? I watched this episode on a live stream thanks to your recommendation, and I thought it was just alright. The pets are really interesting, but the human interaction felt like something I’ve seen a million times before. Also: minkie pie and twilight barkle.

    • “Rahge! Short for Roger!”

      Yes, Sue, that’s his name. I find her to be the most irritating of the human characters. Roger’s also irritating, but he’s also funny, so that makes up for it.

      You’ve seen the human interaction a million times before huh? Well, there’s only so many directions you can go with human characters. Which is why they’re really not the focus of the show. Though some I find quite interesting. Like aunt Christine, the Biskits, and Blythe. The others can be quite dull.

      Now, comparing Minka to Pinkie. Sure, that’s apt. They’re totally different characters, but their demeanours are almost identical. Par for the course when you’re dealing with a monkey.

      Comparing Twilight to Zoe. No, sorry, I’m calling bullshit on that. They don’t really have much in common, other than colour scheme, you racist. Yes, they do play psudo-leadership roles. But that’s normal. Every group has that. Zoe’s not an intellectual. In fact, she’s closer to Rarity than Twilight.

      You’d have better luck comparing Twilight to Russell. Perhaps one day he’ll become a Princess.

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