I don’t like marketing departments. They tend to fuck things up.
It’s an odd phenomena I find, where crucial plot points, that are supposed to remain surprising or shocking, end up being part of a show’s marketing.
Case in point: the second Lord of the Rings film: The Two Towers.
I was never much of a fan of the series, I would say. The films were good, but I never felt the need to obsess over them.
However, I remember something interesting happening just before the second film came out. My friend Melanie was a proto big Lord of the Rings fan, by that I mean she was just starting out. And she mentioned that she was reading the books at that time.
Anyway, if you saw the first film, or read the first book, you would know one of the iconic scenes featured Gandalf facing off against meta-satan, screaming “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!” and then falling down a pit, presumably dying.
Incredible scene, and everyone thought he was dead. We all thought that was the last we saw of Ian McKellen in those films.
Then the marketing for the Two Towers started up, and these kinds of things are unavoidable, particularly if you don’t live in a cave. And especially back then, when people still watched television. But, in the TV spots, we saw Gandalf… the White… not dead.
It’s made all the stupider by the actual scene in the film, where our heroes are wondering through the forest, thinking Saruman (the bad wizard) is following them. Yet we all know it’s Gandalf, because it’s the same forest and characters that were in the TV spot! And he’s wearing Saruman’s clothes in the ad too!
And it pissed Mel off because she still didn’t know Gandalf survived. She hadn’t read that far into the book. She learned one of The Two Tower’s most dramatic plot twists from a TV ad. Not the book as you’re supposed to get it.
I know some people think others overreact regarding spoilers. But come the fuck on! When you set up a mystery, even a tiny mystery like that, and give the solution in the marketing, it makes the whole scene meaningless, and the mystery pointless.
Take The Island, a film I never saw, but already know the ending to. You see the film’s mid-point twist was revealed in the ads promoting it. So for the first half of the film, you’re watching it, screaming at the screen yelling: “You’re all clones! You idiots!”
Basically, the film goes: Oh, I wonder what’s really going on, I’ll bet you’re never gonna guess! Meanwhile they already told us in the advertising campaign.
It’s like an episode of C.S.I. being promoed by an ad saying, “In the next episode, this guy kills someone!”
I even remember seeing Roger Ebert bitching about this kinda thing back in the day, while reviewing The Island. That’s right! Roger Ebert agrees with me! I don’t need more of an argument than that!
And this brings me to the latest Littlest Pet Shop. WHERE THE SAME FUCKING THING HAPPENED!!!
We open with Russell excited he’ll be spending Friday night at the pet shop, since his owners are out-of-town. Oooo, fantastic! But why is he excited exactly? All alone in the pet shop, doesn’t sound like a wild time.
Then we learn Blythe will be spending the night with him (not like that!), which sounds like fun, but he didn’t know she’d be staying with him.
Then Sunil and Vinnie find out, being the only others in the pet shop (the girls apparently gone walkabout for some reason). So, they then make the decision to crash the slumber party. This won’t pay off for a while.
Anyway, as Russell’s preparing, Blythe appears with some odd artifacts: An empty can of fish food, and some chewed-on fish toys. Twombly inspects the items, and jokingly comes to the conclusion that it’s a ghost.
Bwahaha! That’s ridiculous! We all know it’s ridiculous, right Russell? We all know there’s no such thing as ghosts! That’s-
Yes, it appears as if Russell’s skepticism, established in Door-Jammed, went the same way as Spike’s competance. Mysteriously disappearing for no discernible reason.
Then again, skepticism isn’t always a consistent thing. For example, take Bill Maher; atheist, and generally a rational person. But he’s also anti-vax, so fuck him.
And there are plenty of otherwise skeptical people who’re into religion. So, I guess this can make sense.
That night, Blythe is all ready to spend the night at work, and Russell reveals the results of his research into the paranormal: An urban legend called Pink Cthulhu.
Not the real name, but they don’t give it a name, so I’m calling it: Pink Cthulhu.
Anyway, Pink Cthulhu eats hedgehogs, which is fucked up and the only reason Russell is paying attention to it. Which Blythe helpfully points out.
She also dons a glow stick necklace, which is one of those things I used to love wearing during nighttime celebrations. Like on Canada Day, which is when you can stay up late watching colourful explosions. Unfortunately, those glow sticks die off too quickly.
She also gives one to Russell, and then pulls out a board game called, “My First Formal Dance.”
From what I understand, it’s one of those high school horse shit simulators, like Dream Date, and targeted toward girls. Which is why the hedgehog dismisses it at first. Oh, fuck you, Russell. But then he gets into it, which I kinda like.
Meanwhile, in the apartments above, Sunil and Vinnie execute their late night party crashing.
Yes, they live in the apartments above Littlest Pet Shop, just like Blythe. Which is an amazing coincidence. But it’s also somewhat plausible, since if you lived in an apartment with a pet shop/animal kennel on the ground floor, wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
So they rendezvous in the hall, (it means ‘meet-up’ you gecko!) and Vinnie slips and falls, which doesn’t make sense. But it’s funny, so I’ll excuse it.
They make it to the back alley, behind the pet shop, and Vinnie executes his plan. He lassoes a pipe that was lying on the ground, and not attached to anything. Then he and Sunil climb up a nearby utility pole, throwing the other end of the rope over the telephone line.
The plan is to swing into the shop, ala Tarzan.
But they fail to realize that they are collectively heavier than the loose pipe. So it flies up into the air, and damages a distribution transformer.
The transformer explodes, cutting power to the neighbourhood… then half the city… then the whole city.
Oh, so the big blackout of 2003 was caused by two moronic pets! Good to know!
You know, actually, I got to say: That is one fragile power grid.
Back in the shop, Blythe responds to the power outage by leaving to check the breaker box, while Russell has a nervous breakdown.
We then experience an odd fantasy sequence where Russell finds himself in a random hallway, being chased by Pink Cthulhu, ala Benny Hill. It’s a decent comedy scene, but it makes me wonder: What exactly is happening in reality? The day camp room doesn’t have any doors like that! Did he just have a nervous fit, and collapse? Is he actually dreaming this?
Blythe comes back, and Russell claims to have heard some noises, which creep him out. So she leaves to check it out, which begs the question: Why not take him with you while he’s having a mental break?
Meanwhile, Sunil and Vinnie are still trying to get into the pet shop, and I’m surprised Vinnie’s tail didn’t fall off in the process. Did he learn to control that autonomic response since last time? How?
Anyway, they fail, then the man arrives to repair the transformer.
Suddenly, Vinnie remembers he told Sunil to pack a flashlight, which they finally use. He scans the building, and notices a vent next to the fire escape.
Yeah, that’ll work.
So they sneak in, and I’m a bit disappointed the lineman served no real purpose.
Meanwhile, Blythe is investigating the various messes left around the store, as Sunil and Vinnie make their stealthy entrance in the loudest way possible, scaring the shit out of Russell.
They knock over a pile of cans, and get abducted by Pink Cthulhu!
AH! It’s real!
Which is now the time I talk about the marketing.
You see, the episode is named, Eight Arms to Hold You, which isn’t a ghostly-themed, or slumber-party-themed title. It’s actually a very shit title, I must say.
Then there were the promos for the new season, which this frame was cut from:
So, yeah, it’s an octopus. It’s a pink octopus.
I actually kinda like this twist. And I wouldn’t mind, except for the fact that throughout the episode, as Blythe was picking up clues, I kept thinking: “It’s an octopus.”
Then, as Russell mentioned Pink Cthulhu, I thought: “He’s gonna confuse it for a pink octopus.”
And we didn’t see the octopus until this point. So that fucked up the episode a bit.
Yeah, the clues were obvious, but not that obvious! It would’ve been just as easy to think it was some other amphibious creature!
This ending would’ve been much better if they didn’t spoil the octopus in the marketing, and/or they gave the episode a better name!
But how did an octopus get in the shop?
Well, turns out he was on his way to the local aquarium when some reckless driving by a crazy Blythe’s Dad caused the truck he was on to get into a near-accident. And while the truck didn’t crash, the door jostled open, and he was knocked out of his tank.
After roaming the streets for a while, he ended up in the sewers below LPS, and had to sneak inside, through the drains. And he’s been living there since, stealing fish food.
By the way, I hate his voice. It sounds constantly whiny.
Then, the linesman finishes his work, and the power’s restored.
Is the entire city powered by that one transformer?
So the boys, and Blythe, start partying, and they play the princess game, with Russell’s new rules.
It appears Russell doesn’t understand the point of games.
“The essence of gaming is the ability to fail.” – Yahtzee Croshaw
So that’s it, the episode ends, and overall, it was fun.
We get a nice piece of comic relief from Vinnie and Sunil, and the A-Plot is pretty solid. Overall, great episode! Even if the ending’s a bit cheesy. They shouldn’t add a moral message unless it involves a letter to Princess Twombly.
And yeah, the name was shit. Apparently Eight Arms to Hold You was the working title for one of the old Beatles films. Don’t care, still a shit title, especially in this context. Oh, it has an octopus in it. Yeah, no! Still a shit title! Best guess: They were desperate to use this title as a Beatles reference, and they were likely to never see another octopus episode again. But that only angers me! That’s a terrible reason to use this title! It’s like naming the episode with Sugar Sprinkles, “Oh Look, A Cat!”
But, the episode itself was good, and I’m glad to see that the series isn’t heading on a downward slope. But so far, I haven’t seen it surpass last season. Then again, we’re only three episodes in, so we’ll see. Let’s hope it only gets better from here!