Yes goddammit of course I have a Disney+ subscription. I may actually have already mentioned ponying up around here; I signed up a few weeks ago and have been waiting impatiently ever since for the damn thing to actually launch. The entertaining bit is that after those several weeks of impatience I actually forgot until an hour or so ago that the thing was launching today, and didn’t get everything signed in and hooked up until just before dinner.
What am I watching first? Captain Marvel, of course, but we will absolutely be watching the first episode of The Mandalorian before bed, especially now that I have confirmed that a certain thing I was worried about does not actually happen in the show. (No spoilers, of course.)
We spent a couple of minutes scrolling through the available offerings and my wife went entertainingly nuts over some of the possibilities, so I think our $6.99 for at least the first month or two are going to be pretty well-spent. For me, the Star Wars and Marvel content is gonna be more than enough to keep me busy for a while, and having all the classic Disney films, many of which my son hasn’t seen, is icing on the cake.
This is, I believe, the fastest I’ve ever written one of these things, as my son just discovered this terrible program last night. I banned it forevermore before he went to sleep, only to get up this morning and discover him watching it again, apparently because my wife overruled me. I shall have my revenge, I swear it. Because Special Agent Oso is godawful, and I will not have any of its stupid songs running through my head.
Lets start with the theme song, which is like 20 minutes long. First of all, Oso’s last name is Special. Oso Special.
GET IT IT’S A PUN DO YOU GET IT HE’S OSO SPECIAL THAT’S A JOKE DO YOU GET IT.
Oso is a special agent for some unnamed agency, and the names of the episodes always contain James Bond references, which is the only interesting thing about the show, because it’s not like any of the kids watching the show will get any of them so they’re clearly the result of the writers trying desperately to entertain themselves. This special agency hires stuffed animals– yes, Oso is a stuffed bear, and the theme song specifically describes him as such. He’s not a real bear. He’s an animated toy. What dark magic allows his limbs to move is also left unclear.
At any rate, the episode always starts with Oso doing some secret agent shit, which would be cool if it weren’t for the part where Oso does not know how to do even one thing. It’s amazing that he can even breathe given how dumb the show represents him as. But they’ve got him doing all sorts of stuff. He was in freaking outer space in one episode:
At some point the show will cut away from Oso doing his secret agent shit and find some kid on Earth who has a completely random problem. This problem is always terribly minor on a level reminiscent of Super Why. At that point the doohicky on his wrist will vibrate and Mr. Dos will let him know that he needs to drop everything and go solve this kid’s problem. This is true no matter what he is doing or where he is. Including outer space. Go help this kid find the library or tie his shoes or whatever. LEAVE OUTER SPACE FOR THIS.
You may wonder how they find the kids who have the problems, because these kids never actually contact the agent themselves. It’s because this horrifying organization has the entire world under drone surveillance. Think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding:
The drones, who are always watching you, tell a floating space station that there’s a kid with a minor inconvenience, and then Oso is notified. He finds the kid and then begins asking questions that make it clear that he has no idea what the hell he’s doing and shouldn’t be a secret agent. For example, on TV just now, he asked what a circle was. Secret agents should be able to identify circles.
And then the worst part happens. He asks his chest computer, who is called his Paw Pilot, what his “three special steps” are to solve the kid’s problem. There are always three steps, and, underpants gnome style, the second is always “do the thing.” For example, if the problem is you need to find a book at the library, the second step is “find the book.” Need to wrap a gift? The second step is “wrap the gift.” It’s fucking weird.
Also fucking weird? The floating animated head that is the Paw Pilot sings a terrible song and looks like nothing so much as Mystique giving birth:
Let’s pause for a moment to let that image sink in.
So, yeah. Initially he will know literally nothing about how to solve the problem without help, but spoiler alert: he’s gonna solve the problem, whatever it is. He solves the problem, Paw Pilot sings another terrible song, and then something about whatever he just did helps him with whatever his special agent shit was at the beginning of the episode.
They also always manage to contrive some way to have a 10-second countdown at the end of the episode as Oso is trying to solve the problem. Is Oso trying to write his name on a library card? 10 SECONDS UNTIL THE LIBRARY CLOSES. Is Oso trying to wrap a present for someone’s little sibling? MOM WILL BE DOWNSTAIRS IN 10 SECONDS. Kite Day starts in 10 seconds. It’s never anything where could ever possibly matter if the thing he’s doing takes 12 seconds. Ever.
So here’s the new hotness: Octonauts, a show about British (mostly) animals (mostly) who live underwater in a giant octopus and Do Science. Most of them, as I said, are various flavors of British, and their accents are region-specific. Then there is the one with the southern accent (and by “southern accent,” I mean “southern US”) and what might be an attempt at a Mexican accent, maybe, since the character’s name is Peso? Only they’re all done by British voice actors, and they are perhaps done by British voice actors who have never met southerners or Mexicans, because the southerner (“Tweak,” the rabbit) sounds like the worst stereotype of a toothless Mississippi white-trash hick you’ve ever heard and the Mexican accent sounds so un-Mexican that I thought the character was supposed to be Asian at first.
Here are the Octonauts. They are so, so, so British, even the ones who aren’t British.
You’ll recall I said they were mostly animals. Note the plant on the right. His name is Tunip, but I thought it was Turnip until seeing it in print just now. The rest of the characters have personality and agency; Tunip and his other plant-based lifeforms appear to be either vegetable-based Oompa Loompas or actual slaves, and they really don’t fit into the rest of the show very well. It’s bizarre.
At any rate: Every episode involves the Octopod tooling around in the ocean and dealing with some sort of sea animal’s problem, or sometimes the sea animals are the problem. The animation is kind of cool and the ocean backgrounds are really neat even without the massive, Thomas the Train-level Britishness.
So goddamn British.
There’s a weird colonialism thing going on here, too: the white … polar bear? in the middle up there is Captain Barnacles, who has the Britishiest of the accents, and he’s in charge. He’s supposed to come off as this nineteenth-century naval captain dude. In practice, this means that he assumes in any situation that whoever he’s dealing with will understand and assume that he’s rightfully in charge and what he says is the best thing for everyone. Even if it’s a indigenous culture species of animal they’ve never seen before, obviously everyone ought to just agree with what the white animal thinks. He’s the Captain! Don’t you understand what that means?
Then there’s always a song at the end. It’s the Creature Report. It lives in my brain now, and I hear it all the time, everywhere I go, no matter what, forever. Let it be in your brain now:
I like the show. It makes me crave crumpets, and I don’t know what crumpets are, but I like it. That said, if I try to drift off to sleep one more night with the Creature Report running through my head, I will kill a substantial portion of the Midwest’s population.
I flat-out didn’t believe the news when I heard it, for the record. The Internet has killed Robin Williams more times than I can count over the past few years, at least once by suicide; the idea that the story might be right seemed incomprehensible, and I found out fast enough that any available confirmations were coming from places that I wouldn’t take seriously on their best day.
I was born in 1976. This means that Mork and Mindy was airing when I was practically larval; I don’t know if the show had any real life in syndication/reruns back then, but the episode I’m about to talk about came out when I was four. These are thirty year old memories, here; it’s kind of ridiculous that this story has stuck with me for this long.
I liked the show. Appealing to the sense of humor of a four-year-old isn’t terribly complicated, but Mork and Mindy managed it. Until (and I’ve looked this detail up; my memories aren’t that specific) the first episodes– an hour long premiere and a “part two”– of the third season, where– and I may be the only human being alive who can write these words and mean them– Mork and Mindy scared the overloving shit out of me.
You probably don’t remember– in those two episodes, the boss dudes on Ork decided that Mork was getting too human, and sent (amazingly, I remembered this title correctly) the Ancient Elder to Earth to straighten him out.
I don’t remember what they said about the Ancient Elder, other than he was, well… old. I do remember that I was terrified at what he was going to look like. I remember hiding my damn eyes when the egg floated into their apartment. Since it was a two-parter, I’m gonna guess the actual reveal that the Ancient Elder was, like, ten appeared in the second episode, and I feel like part of the reason this is so burned into my head 34 years later is that I spent the entire week in between the two episodes intermittently freaking out about it.
And then he was ten, and not actually ancient, because that’s how Mork and Mindy rolled, you dumbass little kid, and I can still remember feeling stupid about that, too.
Most of the Robin Williams stories you’re going to read over the next couple of days are not going to involve pants-shitting terror, I think. What can I say; I like to be different.
Oh. And I’ll have every word this dude said memorized until I die, too: