Tooncrap #48 - Spongebob Squarepants: A Pal For Gary

Nickelodeon: 2010

Written by: Raymond Gallant

I'll make an honest confession. I've never been a major fan of Spongebob in either of its variations. By that I mean not the old classics, or the abysmal newer episodes. Granted, some episodes like "Chocolate With Nuts" and "Graveyard Shift" were hilarious, and had some brilliant writing. I can't say Spongebob was a bad cartoon with some funny episodes, even if it wasn't required viewing for me.

And if the show had bowed out during its stronger days, when creator Stephen Hillenburg was still involved in writing the show, and not just being an executive producer, then things probably wouldn't have been so bad. Spongebob could have ended on a fair 52 episode run like other Nickelodeon classics like Rocko's Modern Life. But because the show is a merchandising success, Nickelodeon keeps it alive, while often cancelling far more entertaining cartoons (*CoughDannyPhantomCough*). And now we've gone from some brilliant writing, where the annoyance and stupidity of Spongebob, Patrick, and the other beloved citizens of Bikini Bottom still had their charm, and were hilariously handled, to a show that feels like it has to up the ante in terms of annoyance and unpleasantness.

And thus we lead to the first of several infamously bad Spongebob episodes to take a look at, and give the treatment of some crap shooting. And like Captain Planet, a show that gave us much to crap about, there are plenty of unfunny fish in the sea that is Spongebob Squarepants. Starting with our first choice in "A Pal For Gary", an episode that even die hard Spongebob fans claim to be one of the worst episodes in the series to date. So, let's find out just what makes this the worst of the worst. Let's review this thing.

We open the episode at Spongebob's house, as the titular square pantsed one is preparing to leave for work. Gary, his pet snail has a leash in his mouth, making Spongebob believe that the snail wants to be walked. Spongebob feels bad since he can't walk Gary right now because he has to go to work. But we see as soon as Spongebob leaves that Gary uses the leash to get his snail food out of the cupboard, as he enjoys his life of Riley. Nothing could possibly spoil such a good thing

Oh right, except for the fact that his master is Spongebob.

At the Krusty Krab, Spongebob begins to feel bad about Gary being alone. His concern of course comes at the expense of the customers, which he annoys. After feeling like crap for not being a "responsible pet owner", he races home after work in hopes that his snail is okay. However, he runs into a cart with an old gypsy fish woman selling weird fish pets. Despite her warnings that the pets are dangerous (even though she sells the damn things, so why would she have any concerns at all?), Spongebob blissfully buys one to ensure that Gary won't be lonely.

Back at home, Spongebob introduces Gary to his new friend "Puffy Fluffy". And as soon as he leaves, you can guess what happens next. Puffy Fluffy roars at him, which looks downright frightening for a kid's cartoon, but we're just getting started on this. Spongebob gets the pet food ready, scolding Gary for planning to eat without sharing, and then leaves. Puffy Fluffy eats the food, while scaring Gary. As Spongebob returns, he sees Gary cowering behind the tv.

Of course, the logical mind would see that perhaps this new pet experiment isn't going too well. Nah, Spongebob thinks that Gary is trying to ignore Puffy Fluffy and tries to get them to play. More scaring of Gary ensues, and of course, Spongebob thinks that Gary is being disrespectful to his new friend.

If you're getting pissed at the yellow moron, don't be. Save your anger for later.

Later in the night, Spongebob decides that Gary and Puffy Fluffy should sleep in the same bed together as he leaves once again. Puffy Fluffy scares Gary again, and Spongebob chastises the snail, again. Gary discovers that Puffy Fluffy seems to have shed his shin, and goes to the kitchen to see...


You know, I grew up in the era of Ren and Stimpy, which had its share of extremely disturbing imagery. But Spongebob has for the longest time been a show for children, and yeah, I can see how a lot of it can be major nightmare fuel, including our new super demonic Puffy Fluffy.

Gary tries to fight off this monster, as his responsible master sleeps. Yeah, if this is how Spongebob thinks he's responsible, god help us see what he thinks is being negligent. The battle with Puffy Fluffy eventually causes a fire in Spongebob's house. Yeah, you know how pesky those fires are UNDER THE SEA!

The smell of smoke doesn't wake Spongebob either. Even with the building being almost totally demolished, he maintains his beauty sleep. Good for him. His pet could be murdered by a monster he brought into his home, but at least he got some rest. The morning arrives and Spongebob finally awakes. When he makes it to his library, he sees that his house is destroyed. Of course, it had to have been Gary. Not the stranger you brought in.

He goes into the kitchen to yell at Gary, just as Puffy Fluffy is about to eat him. And, despite seeing the situation at hand, he still yells at Gary, believing this to be all his fault.

Yeah, this is the problem with this episode. I get it. Spongebob's an idiot. He's written to be dumb a lot. But in the older episodes, there was still some logic in him to have the foresight to see what was wrong with this picture. That, hey, maybe the creature he brought was a monster that was causing problems. But no, he thinks that his loyal pet is causing trouble, even when he sees that Puffy Fluffy turned into a gigantic beast and is about to disembowel Gary. That isn't lovable idiocy, that's being blind, and horrible. Spongebob in this one moment becomes more of a monster than the monster in this episode.

Puffy Fluffy grabs Spongebob, and is about to eat him (please), and Spongebob, instead of being in a panic because he's about to be, oh, I don't know, EATEN, still takes the time to yell at Gary instead. Gary manages to lasso the tongue mouths of Puffy Fluffy, saving Spongebob. And as Puffy runs off, Spongebob yells for him to come back, while still being mad at Gary. Because it was a bad thing that he did wasn't it? How dare he save your life? Honestly, I'm rather shocked he did. And the episode ends with Spongebob deciding that Gary would have much more fun at work with him, away from his life of Riley, because god forbid this end on a happy note.

And that's "A Pal For Gary". And yeah, this may have been one of my reviews with far less jokes and references, but that's for a good reason. This wasn't a so bad it's funny type thing. This was so bad it was uncomfortable to watch. 10 minutes of pure unpleasantness from start to finish. The conflict is moronic, even for Spongebob conflicts. There's enough imagery to traumatize children. Hell, I'd have been scared of Puffy Fluffy as a kid, I'll admit. But the damning thing about it is Spongebob himself.

His actions are mean spirited, cruel, and thoughtless. He's written to be oblivious to what's in front of him for the sake of laughs, and it doesn't make you laugh. It makes you hate this guy for his actions, and especially that he doesn't learn his lesson, and gets no comeuppance. He just goes about his day, not caring about what he's done to someone he claims to love. This is the finest example of what writers think is befitting of modern Spongebob Squarepants. Let's just make him a moron with no consequences to his actions, and that's enough to be funny. In this occasion especially, that doesn't work.

So, in the end, this was crap. Unfunny, unappealing crap from a show that should have been over a decade ago. But hopefully the next time I look at a Spongebob cartoon, it'll at least have some things to mock, and not just make me angry.