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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, let me start by saying that I am probably speaking through the filter of a heavy nostalgia bias.
That said, I thought the new Powerpuff Girls special (Dance Pantsed) was kind of underwhelming.
I missed it when it aired on Cartoon Network proper, but this morning they ran it on Boomerang. Problem: they also followed it with the 10th Anniversary special, and that with the 2002 PPG Movie. So really, they shoved it right up against some pretty hefty competition for how to best tackle a big-budget PPG feature.

The vocal performances were spot on the entire time, especially nice since they reunited all the original cast. But compared to the older material that aired later, the audio seemed to be a little flatter, more bland, and less bright. It wasn't an issue for the voicework, the music and SFX also had that different quality to them. Not saying it's worse, just noticeably different (and that mostly because they ran some older material afterwords so I could compare).

I think the writing was clever, and the plentiful sight gags much appreciated. Definitely loved all the Beatles references and other puns around "Fibonacci Sequins" (I really love that concept tbh), and the villain's final lines were classic. But it didn't manage to hit all the old notes for much of the show. The pacing crammed a lot of action in, but that's not really what the old show was about. The action was more of a punctuation, or release valve, or a gag. Here it served pretty much the opposite purpose. The whole thing just seemed a bit more frantic. Even the dialog came faster and thicker throughout. So the pacing is much faster with fewer pauses, and they use that to pack the 23-minutes with almost twice as much "stuff" going on. I think that could be taken either way, depending on the viewer.
Some of the plot- and character-relevant details that struck me as slightly off compared to the old episodes could just be a case of Your Mileage May Vary, so I'm not going to dwell on those. Some of the gaffs also matter only if you know a lot about the original series, like Trekkie-level continuity minutia, so I'm not going to nerd up on those either. Overall they shouldn't matter to whether or not you enjoy the special while it's happening (unless something else bothers you already and the gaff just serves to highlight it; you'd have to have in-depth knowledge for that anyway).

Then there's the visual overhaul, the largest and most significant difference between the original material and this special. You knew this part was coming, and going to be lengthy. Here goes:
One of the things that works in the original series' favor is the superbly clean, sparse, hand-drawn approach. This special is 3D CGI with minimal cell shading that almost looks like paper cut-outs. I realize the cost situation has shifted to the point that 3D can actually be as cheap or even cheaper than "traditional" stuff anymore, and since this is basically a one-off special the added novelty even makes sense if that's not true. But with hand-drawn cartooning you have so much more flexibility in how you render the material. You can subtly shift, distort, or exaggerate shapes and postures in ways that just aren't going to work in a 3D model, and PPG used those techniques extensively back in the day. There isn't much of that here, since the models are much more rigid.
Another shortcoming of the 3D approach is that it can come off as jittery or jerky if you aren't careful to make things move fluidly all the time (even in the background where nobody's looking). Sometimes it even seems to be a matter of frame-rate, as if they couldn't devote a couple more days to have the scene render two or three more frames in places.
You can get away with mostly-still images and recycled frames in 2D animation because in a sense that's what people expect. A flat image can afford to be static except for a mouth gabbing away. One of the characteristics of the original PPG series is how much it resembled a comic book on the screen. But in 3D, still figures look like actual statues; their lack of vitality is much more apparent. Instead of lending something a comic book vibe, it comes off as stiff. Especially since abstract backgrounds and lighting, used for greater impact in 2D, are much harder to pull off in 3D.
Even though it's very sparse by most standards, the visual design here was also more detailed, finer, and "busier" than the original animation designs. It's harder for the eye to discern those details when things ARE moving when they aren't defined by relatively thick black lineart for contrast. It's not as easy to follow the girls' freakishly small mouths as their heads wobble around, and they don't seem to convey as much expression despite having a more complete rendering of the eyes to use.

I was reminded of the later-produced seasons 3 and 4 of Dexter's Laboratory versus the first and second seasons. That also involved a massive change in the creative team and overhaul of the visual style (even suffered the loss of some long-time voice actors), and consequently it didn't feel like the Dexter's Lab I fell in love with. This PPG special hems much, much closer to the warm glow of its predecessor and more successfully recaptures the familiar feel, but there was just enough that was "off" about the texture to stand out.
I think it would have worked better with 2D animation done in the original style; that decision worked well for the 2008 anniversary special, which was also made after the series had been over for a few years. The less that's radically changed about a post-series special, the easier it is for an eager audience to get back into that happy place and forget the show's already been over for 9 years. Asking them to accept a very big, very obvious difference is just inviting more scrutiny for "what else can't they do the same anymore?" Hence, little niggles about different sound qualities or nuances of writing can stand out much more easily if the art is also unfamiliar. It's a nitpick multiplier effect.

Final conclusion: Definitely worth a watch. YMMV about the new look, but other than that it's mostly The Powerpuff Girls you knew from back when.

I don't know if I'd keep up with a whole season of new material done like this. I doubt they could harness the same attention to detail and tons of lower-key humor elements jammed in there if they had to do a whole series, and they'd probably have to start skimping out on the (already sometimes jerky) animation to get 13-26 episodes in the style.
It has a lot to recommend it, and the biggest change is certainly the visual design with everything else more or less successful at harkening back to the classic series.

That sure is a lot of words.
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Disney put ALL of Gargoyles up on the Youtubes: http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2014/01/29/news-flash-gargoyles-is-streaming-on-youtube/
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stripeypants



Joined: 24 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished all of Orange is the New Black between today and yesterday. There was a lot to like, but Imdon't even know what to think. Worth watching, for sure, wish I'd known the second season won't be available till June before watching it, though.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first episode in the new Cosmos miniseries is airing tonight on Fox/National Geographic channels, cable and broadcast, starting at 9pm Eastern (with a re-run at midnight, and then another tomorrow night at 10pm).

In the meantime,Nat Geo is running a marathon of the original Cosmos from noon (42 minutes ago) until the premiere.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The original Cosmos is also available on Netflix. No idea if the new one can be found online, though I hope so because I've been waiting for it!
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure it'll hit Hulu eventually.

I think the commercials really killed a lot of its ambiance for me. Could have been so much better without a dozen Jeep Cherokee ads.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

drat, i forgot about that - is it just on the natgeo channel, or is it on regular fox channels? 'cause sadly, i can't get natgeo unless i add a whole lot of unnecessary channels Sad
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fox channels too. I heard the plan was to at least play it at 8pm the following Saturday each week.
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Heretical Rants



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

my favorite channel, now on the widescreen!

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mouse



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Fox channels too. I heard the plan was to at least play it at 8pm the following Saturday each week.


oh, good! hope that happens.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

have to share this with other fans of BBC's "Sherlock": sherlock's reviews of musicals his parents dragged him to.
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DeD CHiKn



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why did I not start watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" earlier in my life? This show is amazing.

Terrible, but amazing.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And now I have even more to watch.
The book is fantastic and I highly recommend it whether you plant to see the miniseries or not.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been watching "My cat from hell." The host does have some nonsense about energy and sells holistic medicines, but really the show is filled with good solid advice about cat behavior.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've been avoiding that show for fear it will give my cats ideas.
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