The Human Chameleon

Littlest Pet Shop, as a show, has always been a bit lop-sided.

For all intents and purposes, it seems as if we only have one character on this show; Blythe Baxter. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most shows feature one central character that we continuously follow, and it tends to work. My Little Pony did this for the entire first season, having Twilight Sparkle be a central figure in every episode. On occasion, when the episode featured a different character, her role would end up being a bit shoehorned in, but you didn’t really care since it still worked.

On Littlest Pet Shop, however, Blythe’s central role comes at the expense of proper characterization for everyone else.

Yes, the pets have gotten plenty of screen time, I’m not arguing that. We’ve had plenty of episodes about them, as one would expect. But even then, Blythe seems to overshadow all of them. Even the one episode that had plenty of reason to let her take a back seat (after all, she was out-of-town at the time), focused on her almost entirely. They could have opened the season with a single episode featuring the pets having a grand adventure without their human friend. Wouldn’t that have been nice? Instead, we got an episode focusing on how much they missed her, and how miserable they were without the main character.

Then we have the human characters. Last time I called Blythe’s friends the three stereotypes, and I wasn’t kidding. They’ve gotten nothing in the way of characterization, just enhancement of prior stereotypes, or in Sue’s case, establishment of her creepy-stalker side.

I’m still not sure what to make of that. And I even remember early episodes hinting at Youngmee’s love of exotic foods; but since then, it hasn’t really been utilized in any way, or even brought up.

Then there’s Jasper, an empty shell of blandness. I try to think of anything he’s done, any key moments, and all I can think of are his attempts to open Blythe’s locker during the première, him screaming ‘that sucks!’ in the season one finale, and the time he turned a photo of Sunil into a meme.

Not much to work with. But thankfully, I think this character is on the verge of a turnaround. Especially since last week, when we got an episode establishing him as being halfway interesting, when he turns into a douche.

This is gonna be fuuuuun!

The episode opens with a scene which I find incredibly funny, but I’m not sure why. It’s just a bunch of potential customers who enter the shop after misreading the sign. So I can assume they all have myopia! We see Italian Mario Batali looking for the Littlest Pot Shop, because he wants to get high. Danica Patrick comes in looking for the Littlest Pit Stop, which is apparently a thing. Then we have tiny Dara O’Briain, playing a racist stereotype.

Pretty sure that’s not on.

Anyway, the point of this scene is to establish the fact that business is slow at the shop, and that needs to change, if only for the sake of Twombly and Blythe’s sanity.

So Blythe suggests advertisement. Which I guess they never really pursued in the past. Why not? Well probably because they have very little money. Which is why our heroine suggests doing it on the cheap by starring in it themselves, and putting Jasper in the director’s chair, whom, Blythe explains, is an amateur filmmaker.

He accepts the job almost immediately, along with Sue and Youngmee, who volunteer as camera-girl and gaffer, respectively.

The pets are also excited. And I like the little touches here, with Pepper explaining what a commercial’s purpose is, the Matrix reference, Vinnie aping Vanilla Ice and not knowing what a fishing net is used for, and the multitude of fourth wall gags.

That is awesome.

And Twombly has her own ideas for the ad, all over the top, or this:

She really needs to get out more.

But she doesn’t care what the ad contains, as long as it contains her, which is pretty egotistical if you ask me.

But Blythe doesn’t notice, and she assures her boss that they won’t have any problems, since Jasper’s so laid back, he’ll be cool with anything.

Then Jasper walks in, acting like a douche.

Well, that happened. And as shooting begins it becomes clear that Jasper might be having a nervous breakdown, throwing a conniption after only three takes go wrong.

Then, it’s time for Twombly’s part. She keeps forgetting her lines, asks Blythe what they are, and then forgets she has to give them herself. I think Twombly’s going senile. Anyway, Jasper’s temper goes off, but in a subtle way where he just gives up after two takes. Which told me that he was going to cut her part.

I bring this up because from what I hear, with the exception of large-scale, highly destructive, in-camera scenes, they’re generally filmed with more than a few takes. The fact that he lost his temper that easily is a bit nuts.

Then it’s time to film the pets, whom he asks to stay still because, “I feel I’ll be able to emphasize what a fun place Littlest Pet Shop is for pets, by actually showing some pets.” … Staying perfectly still, not doing anything. Yeah, staying still, woop, woop, fun.

So he films them in front of a green screen, which shouldn’t have worked on Vinnie, but whatever. And none of them stay still, except Russell (who rolls in a ball) and Penny (who winks at the camera like she wants to nail it).

So with all the filming done, Jasper takes the film, and gives an egotistical little speech before leaving to begin the post-production work.

That night, he Skypes Blythe and explains his vision for the ad. He plans to use some software he just happened to have to make the pets talk. Wow, that’s different, and totally not what Blythe experiences every day. Of course, she gives him notes on the voices. But the real news is apparently the fact that he cut Twombly from the ad. I don’t see what the big deal is.

Anyway, when it’s time for the screening of the ad, everyone gathers in the upper floor of the pet shop, which I don’t think we’ve ever seen them use before.

Jasper explains to Blythe that he ignored her suggestions on the voices, and tells her “not to worry [her] pretty oversized head about it.” So now he’s misogynistic as well!

Turns out the voices he used were over-the-top comedy voices, which sound terrible. So he’s an idiot too! He didn’t even match them up with their genders! Pepper sounds like Grandpa Simpson for crying out loud!

So, obviously, the pets are upset. As is Twombly, since she was scrapped. And as is me since he ends the ad with this:

Douche.

So Blythe decides to talk to Jasper, and by ‘talk’ I mean, ‘tear a new one.’

She explains exactly how everyone’s been feeling during this whole experience, and how everyone hates him.

He reverts back and explains that he really wanted to get things right, and thought acting like a prick would be the best way to do it. Obviously he was wrong.

So Jasper runs off to fix the ad. The result? Twombly’s in it! And it’s one of the shitty takes where she asks Blythe what her lines are. Which perplexes me. Given that he just gave the pets voices, it would’ve been a great opportunity to cut to Russell or Pepper, and have them read out the line, while standing in front of a director’s chair. That would’ve been hilarious.

And what about the pets? Well, he gets the voices perfectly… except he mismatched them all. Again, it’s not even the right genders on some of them. And having Minka speak in Vinnie’s voice isn’t even close to correct! Look at her hairstyle!

She’s a girl! And Zoe has Russell’s voice?

No dude looks that fabulous! I mean, look at her hat! He doesn’t even get Blythe’s voice right! What the hell, dude!?

But regardless, everyone loves it, and business in the shop starts booming again. So happy endings all around.

And overall, this episode is notable for one thing: Giving Jasper an interesting personality. He’s always been the least developed character, so the fact that we finally got an entire episode devoted to him is certainly noteworthy. I kinda liked Douche-Jasper, and even though he reverted at the end there, the fact that he put on that kind of persona really adds to his character. It also gives insight to his general demeanor. In the previous episode, his first scene opened with him saying, “Hey, girl!” with Blythe replying: “It sounds weird when you say it.” Obviously it’s some kinda catchphrase he was trying out, and it makes me think that he only said it because he heard someone else say it. He has the kind of personality that just adopts from others, or adapts to fit the situation. Like a chameleon. Which is why he has so little personality, his personality is nonexistent, and merely adjusts to fit whatever he needs it to.

And believe it or not, but that is worth way more than you think it is. I gained a lot of respect for Jasper during the course of this episode, and I hope he doesn’t end up sabotaging it anytime soon. Which he’ll probably do just by appearing… and talking. So stay off-screen for a while, Jasper. For your own sake.

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3 responses to “The Human Chameleon

  1. ….. And you were a lot nicer to this episode than anyone still watching this show (especially fans of it who want to help the ratings out were) was to it, including me…..

    *Slinks away in shame & confusion*

    • I don’t know what to say, I just really enjoyed this episode. It was funny, and entertaining, and finally gave some characterization toward Jasper. I really liked it.

      The leprechaun annoyed me though.

      From a purely analytical standpoint however, you might be right. It had a lot of fourth wall gags, and ridiculous puns, which doesn’t really play in the episode’s favour. But you can’t judge art analytically, it has to be judged emotionally. How does it make you feel? And it made me feel good. That’s all I can tell you.

      • … Even if I wasn’t a fan of this particular episode, the way you put things into perspective here – I truly have a stronger sense of respect for you. Mainly because you do know what you’re talking about when comes to our “three stereotypes”…

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