Coming Up Raccoons: “Sleeper” review

Back in April, approximately two months ago, Littlest Pet Shop had its second season finale.

It wasn’t a bad episode, but it wasn’t a great one either. Sort of middle-ground sludge, just waiting for something to happen. All it seemed to do was set up future plot points as Blythe becomes a well-known pet-fashion designer. And to end a season on that seems like they’re just egging us on. Hey, look at all the great storylines we have planned! And you’ll have to wait ’til next season to see them!

A lot of shows do this, end seasons on cliffhangers, and it always annoys me. I guess they really want us to tune in for next season, but it’s unnecessary. I was already on board. All this does is make me irritated, and anxious, during the break. And it gets even worse if the show is cancelled on a season finale cliffhanger.

However, in the case of Littlest Pet Shop, we don’t have to wait so long for the continuation to this story; because a mere seven weeks later, the next season premiered.

Fuckers just aren’t wasting any time are they?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I was kinda looking forward to having a break. It case you haven’t noticed, this site is a bit backlogged. Blame college.

Not only that, there’s something to be said for pacing the show out. I mentioned before that one of my favourite TV shows, 24, really went downhill once they stopped having mid-season hiatuses. Going on break for a few weeks allowed us to absorb and examine what happened before, and speculate on what would happen next.

It also spaced the show out, giving us a full television season, from the fall to the following spring, rather than having it compressed into four months. And this gave us more time to appreciate the show, and keep it in our minds. During a given season, it would never really fade from thought. So spacing that out is quite beneficial, if only from a marketing standpoint.

But of course, this is technically between seasons right? However, I think the principle still stands. You need to space out the content.

But all that being said. It’s quite irrelevant to the show as a whole, isn’t it? You can’t judge a show based on TV schedules and marketers. So let’s focus on the season première itself.

As they hinted in the last episode, all the success Blythe had at the International Pet Fashion Expo resulted in a boost in publicity and business for Littlest Pet Shop. Which keeps Blythe and Twombly quite busy.

So much so that Blythe starts using roller skates to quickly restock shelves.

Meanwhile, the situation is quite different at Largest Ever Pet Shop.

Which makes Fisher confused. After all, how could such a small store be having so much success, while a large store is having so little? I think the bigger question is: How in the hell did he manage to get the sales figures from the Littlest Pet Shop? His network of spies?

But a hypothesis comes to him once his daughters arrive with a copy of some fashion magazine, wanting to shred it.

“Is it possible that all this publicity has actually resulted in Littlest Pet Shop taking sales away from Largest Ever!?”

Publicity resulting in an increase in business? No, there’s no way! That is so far-fetched why would you even think it?

Fisher’s an idiot. Of course increased publicity would result in increased business. That’s basic marketing. How is he successful!?

And the rest of the episode pretty much continues along this vein. He sets Monban, the robot, in marketing mode, so it can give him advice. Rather than actually hire a human to do the job.

Someone explain to me why Fisher doesn’t have employees.

Anyway, through Monban’s analysis, he learns that the one thing Littlest Pet Shop has that Largest Ever Pet Shop doesn’t is: love.

… Well, that was useless. I think the phrase he’s actually looking for is: decent customer service. But Fisher doesn’t think of that. So with no real leads, he decides to send his daughters to the store, incognito.

Oh, this’ll work out well. I mean, these two are terrible at disguises. Every time they’ve tried, their disguises have been so uselessly transparent, they shouldn’t have even bothered. And it’s not like they’re just going to suddenly become good at it.

Okay, I stand corrected. They look like completely different characters. How exactly did they get so good at disguises? I’ll assume Fisher did all the work.

Actually, they look quite similar to some early character design work.

Probably a coincidence.

So they manage to blend in with the crowd quite successfully. Watching as people buy cheap pet toys, and cheap pet food, but cannot find a single reason why people shop there. Until they try a bit of water from the water cooler, and realize how delicious it is. So the secret must be: water!

Yeah! Install a water cooler! That might help!

Or install a log flume inside the pet shop, because that makes sense.

This actually ends in disaster, because instead of having a professional run the ride, he does it himself. And once the first person boards the ride (he’s actually forced to try it out), Fisher decides to turn it up to 11, causing an overload, and destroying the entire store.

So all he managed to do was scare his one customer off, and destroy his business. Wouldn’t it have been better to just start a new round of fresh advertising, and do a bit of remodelling, while recommitting your business to more hands-on customer service? I’m pretty sure that would’ve worked. At the very least it would’ve attracted a lot of attention and a lot of customers, arriving only so they could see what all the hubbub was about.

I think what we’ve learned in this episode is that Fisher Biskit is a terrible business man. If I had to guess, I’d say he inherited most of his money. But now that Largest Ever was demolished, I think this might be the beginning of a fresh, and interesting, new arc. We’ll get to follow Fisher as he opens a new pet store, much smaller than his old one, and has to rebuild from the ground up. I’m certainly interested to see where this goes. It might also affect the Biskits, who suddenly have much less money than before, as their father has to cut corners. Can’t wait to see how that affects them. It’s going to be great!

Or he’ll just rebuild the same old store, and the series will continue as if nothing changed. That’s the other possibility. It’s also the possibility that makes this entire episode completely pointless.

And that’s the problem with this entire première. Because while this entire plot thread was pretty pointless, it was the most interesting part of the episode, and it only covered half of it!

The other half is devoted to Vinnie and Sunil, who just made a wager with Russell, that they can show a pet just a good a time as he can.

The winner gets bragging rights, and the loser gets shamed by Russell. Seems like a slightly uneven wager.

Anyway, their subject is to be the next pet that visits the day-camp, which just so happens to be an overweight raccoon named Otto von Fuzzlebutt. Obviously named after the 19th century Prussian politician responsible for the formation of the unified German Empire; and a random assortment of syllables that an eight-year-old thought would be funny.

Great contrast!

Oh, and the raccoon’s a fucking nut. He introduces himself by assaulting everyone, while laughing maniacally and jumping like a maniac. And I’m pretty sure I’m the only one disturbed by that.

Makes me think of the Joker, played by Mark Hamill.

Also, who has a raccoon as a pet?

So, as part of the wager, Sunil and Vinnie has to wait on Fuzzlebutt paw and foot. Because apparently it’s expected by visitors to the day camp, and it’s normally what Russell does.

Um… why? I get that Russell’s glad to have the day off, but why did he ever do this in the first place? Oh, wait, he explains it in the opening scene by saying he wants every guest to have a good time. Still, I think they can get their own food.

So after a few minutes of Fuzzlebutt jumping like a twat, he has a sudden stroke and dies.

Wow, that got dark pretty quickly.

Actually he’s just sleeping, which means he’s probably narcoleptic or something. But this also puts Vinnie and Sunil into a panic, because they assume they caused his sudden slumber. Well, fair enough, they were nearby. But they can’t let Russell find out! So time for a bit of a cover-up.

That’s right, they paint eyes on his face, and try to pass him off as awake.

And so begins a series of gags that reminds me of that classic comedy: Weekend at Bernie’s. You know Weekend at Bernie’s, right? It was that film about two guys who find their boss dead, and decide to use his corpse as a marionette, in an effort to pass him off as alive! I like to ignore the fact that rigor mortis would make that impossible because it’s not a bad film. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but I remember it being quite funny. I also remember it being not appropriate for kids.

I had a very progressive mother.

Nonetheless, we have a kids show doing a tribute to a film about corpse desecration. So thank you Littlest Pet Shop for keeping a cheery tone.

But yes, this is pretty much what the rest of the episode devolves into. A raccoon in a coma being tossed around like a rag doll, in a series of slapstick sequences that are just there to kill time. It’s just filler. We also get an 80s power metal musical number that’s not bad, but pointless.

The only interesting thing: Penny develops a crush on the coma patient. Just like Twilight and Blythe before her. Hey-oh! I’m sure there’s another joke in here about a typical woman, but my point is: I expected better out of her. I never saw Penny as being shallow before. Now… not so much.

Eventually, he wakes, and explains that it was just a case of mini-hibernation, which is essential for raccoon. Even though I can’t find anything on raccoons doing it, but plenty on marsupials. And it’s supposed to happen at night, not randomly. I think he’s full of it. He’s narcoleptic! He needs to see a vet!

So all in all, for a season première, this episode was a damp squib.

Here’s the thing, you want to start on a bang. And by that, I don’t mean an actual explosion. I mean with effort, and quality. You want to start with something good. Start strong and end strong, because if an episode is terrible, and it’s in the middle of a season, we’ll just forget about it. No big deal! But to start on a weak episode like this is just abhorrent.

And it is extremely weak. The plot is just bland, and the only interesting parts either add terrible characterization or will likely find their way into the memory hole for future episodes. By the way, if I’m wrong on that, then this episode will earn some points. But I doubt that’ll happen.

I think if this episode does have one thing going for it. It’s the fact that it’s one of the few episodes where the pets found themselves in a pickle and decided not to cry ‘Blythe!’ Sunil and Vinnie tried to handle the crisis on their own, and in the end it worked. No one got permanently or catastrophically injured, and they won the contest. But honestly, I think they should’ve asked Blythe for help, since Fuzzlebutt could’ve been in serious danger. As far as they knew, he was slowly dying! Though that might’ve been happening before he collapsed.

A brain aneurysm could probably cause that. Right? You got a better explanation?


One response to “Coming Up Raccoons: “Sleeper” review

  1. I’m actually curious to how you would write a better season premiere than this one, with what you’ve successfully pointed out…. And I bet you could write a better season premiere, too – You are pretty damn smart, sir.

    Good luck with the rest of Season 3, provided this doesn’t stop making you watch this show at all…

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