Tooncrap #48 - Spongebob Squarepants: A
Pal For Gary
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.