So most of you by now are aware that a new chapter in the history of VeggieTales is starting on Wednesday on Netflix. And it's a sad thing that most people have mixed opinions on the new series. But having myself seen the first episode, I can reassure you that if you love VT (and I know you do), you will still love In The House! I'm here to present my review as a spoiler-free top ten list as to why In The House is awesome :)
I know I know... this is what most peoples' mixed opinions are about! But as I clarified on my previous blog on In The House, the designs, while different, are actually really fun and charming! My favorite designs personally are of Jerry, Petunia, Junior, and Pa. I would've never imagined what Pa Grape would look like with eyes, but his new design is adorable! He reminds me of the Mayor in The Powerpuff Girls! Hehe :D All of the designs are really well-thought-out and an absolute delight, and tied together with the great voice acting and beautiful animation, it makes for a seriously amazing show! I understand it'll take some getting used to for some, but it most likely won't take long for them to steal our hearts the way they did back in '93 :)
Songs and VeggieTales go together like baby carrots and ranch dip, and if you worried that they would skimp on that in ITH, you have nothing to worry about! Every episode has a fun Silly Song-worthy tune that still maintains the charm and silliness of the 45-minuters' songs! Oh, and the new theme song! Talk about catchy! The ITH theme is upbeat and a whole lot of fun, delivering an entirely new sound to the show that still holds on to its roots. Plus, Scott Krippayne worked on it, so that should be enough to get you excited! What... just me? Anyway, the new musicians at the helm, Terry Scott Taylor and Robert Watson, really capture the spirit and sound of the Veggies we've always known in a whole new way!
There is so so so much detail in this world our Veggies call home! The new artists, with Joe Spadaford's guidance and supervision, have created a whole new world surrounding the countertop that is just too amazing, even in building the house's exterior itself! All of the locales are just loaded with attention to detail, Pa Grape's shop being one of the most detailed of the bunch. And not a single prop has been reused from the original series! That is quite the feat to truly build everything from scratch! And as if we need any more reasons to love it, the design overall calls back to the earliest VT episodes, with a wonky, slightly-lopsided charm that one might remember from Junior's bedroom or LarryBoy's mansion. Along with the character designs, the artists on this show have made it truly a visual delight!
The trailer showcased on the Beauty And The Beet DVD was chock-full of comic action and hilarious slapstick humor that got me giggling beyond belief. But if you were worried that the physical humor would tilt the balance between slapstick and one-liners, that is far from the case! One of the funniest lines I've ever heard in the history of VeggieTales was in the first five minutes of the first episode! The humor remains as it always has with VT, just a little faster-paced and bringing in a very wacky sense of comic action that kids (as well as adults) will love!
It may not seem that the VT cast has changed much, but a few new faces have already made their debut thus far. Aside from a very colorful array of background characters, with some corn and broccoli in the mix, we have primarily in the first two episodes Ichabeezer and Rooney. Do not be confused, Ichabeezer isn't Mr. Nezzer, despite the resemblance. He's a bit more of a grumpy old man than Nezzer is, though I could definitely see them being related. If he sounds a lot like Mr. Beet, then you'd be right, because he is indeed voiced by the great Rob Paulsen! Ichabeezer is very practical, kinda gruff, and very good at nailing the occasional bit of sarcasm (nothing VT wouldn't do already, of course). I do miss seeing Nezzer around, but Ichabeezer's an easy character to love, even if he doesn't come off that way.
We also get to meet his olivehound Rooney! Yes you heard it right... he's an olive-dog. I can't help but adore the concept they came up with, and they made quite the endearing character out of him! Boy does that Rooney love fetch... a little too much, perhaps, for Ichabeezer, as you will see XD
And while other new characters are currently unknown, we do get some new versions and voices of the original cast, including Petunia, Laura, and Madame Blueberry, who all happen to be voiced by the great Tress MacNellie. Petunia still keeps her roots as a very confident, but kind, girl, and I love the way she's played out in these first two episodes. She comes off in a way that makes her seem like she'd got it all together, but that trailer footage proves that she'll have a few off-moments :)
I could talk more about Laura, but she overall hasn't changed as much, except maybe that she's a bit more bubbly and excitable, which makes her all the more adorable. Madame Blueberry, however, deserves some discussion as well. Ms. MacNellie has made Madame a bit less French a bit more high-society-rich-lady, which is still very in touch with her character. Her role has been one of the most enjoyable to watch, especially since she's one of the main characters in the second episode. The characters may have changed in looks and in voice, but they are still true to who they've been since '95, '98, and '05, for sure, and I can't help but love them.
I know I've already mentioned this, but seriously the animation really is great! It's very fluid, appropriately fast-paced, and, again, is dripping with charm and personality. What you might not've thought about concerning the new character designs is that they're actually made to animate a bit more realistically in some ways. Not that the originals weren't, but the characters were also built differently back then. Larry's super-bouncy personality is accentuated perfectly with the "bounciness" of the character animation and all of the animation itself! The cartoony-realistic feel just suits VT to a T!
ITH's faster pace is really a great thing. Not that there was anything wrong with the 45-minuters, of course, but this really does work well for the episode lengths as well as the overall feel of the show. That cartoony, or as Phil Vischer described it, Tom-and-Jerry-like, vibe just makes the show all the more fun, and will definitely appeal to kids and parents alike. It also makes the comedy punchier and all the funnier. While longtime VT fans may need to get used to it, I think you'll get into quickly. Plus, did I mention the well-placed goofy sound effects they use when necessary? Like that bit in the trailer where Bob and Larry's scream is a chicken squawk? Sue me, but I think that's pretty hilarious!
Of course, all this great comedy, art, and storytelling would be nothing without the heart. And ITH does not skimp! The first two episodes artfully and awesomely teach about responsibility and the power of words in a way that only VT can do. They weave it into each episode masterfully and oh-so-originally! And there is no shortage of Bible verses, which I know we're all glad for after VT on TV skimped in that area. These amazing truths and heartfelt story moments mixed together makes for a truly strong-hearted cartoon, not just your usual Looney Tunes short (again, not that there's anything wrong with it... you know what I mean).
Just think about this for a second: ITH is a Netflix exclusive right now. One of a handful of Christian-value-based programs on the service. Just let it soak in as you realize how much exposure the show will get! How many kids and parents who may've never seen or heard of VT who will see it! How many lives just might be changed, even in a small way, because of this! WOW! ITH's new home on Netflix is the perfect place for it to be :)
Even though the show is structured differently than the 45-minuters, they always end with the most important truth, the one that VT has been telling and clarifying since its beginning... "God made you special, and He loves you very much!". THAT is awesome.
So yes, I am more than excited now to be a part of this new era of VT! I can hardly wait to see more episodes in the near future as Bob and Larry take over their house... and houses all over the world! I hope I've helped in getting you truly excited for this seriously fun show! That's all the time I have for today, so remember...
GMUS & <3sUVM,