[on a motorscooter in the middle of a chase between police and a robber]
You know something, Moe?
We're not going to get out of this alive.
That's what I like about you, always optimistic.
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Legendary and timeless as well as way ahead of their time, the Three Stooges and their movies took slapstick comedy to heights that have not been reached again, more than a half century later. Their fluid chemistry and uncanny sense of timing made their routines side-splittingly funny no matter how many times they were recycled.
However, "The New Three Stooges" is more like a last gasp than a new beginning for the Stooges. Granted, the two Stooge stalwarts Moe and Larry are present (which is more than can be said for "The New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy"), but Curly Joe is a poor substitute for the original Curly. His performance makes you long for Shemp or Joe Besser, who are sometimes overlooked in Stooge lore. Curly Joe is way too subdued in the show - too passive to be one of the manic Stooges.
The show's episodes were formulaic. They featured one live action segment, which introduced a typical Stooges conflict, then segued into a cartoon Stooges short. Then it was back to live action, where the comical conflict was resolved in a manner only the Stooges can fathom.
I feel fortunate to have two episodes of the show on low-quality tape, despite its many flaws. One such flaw being the production values. The live action segments have all the budget of the average film school student's final project, as does the animation. Props are extremely limited. The cartoon animation is stiff and lacks the detail and color of more well animated shorts of the time from companies such as Warner Bros.
As for the plots, they're typical Stooge fare from the episodes I've seen. The Stooges deal with mean bosses (like in the Western railroad episode) and tackle odd jobs (like being police officers). They're back to their old schemes again, such as prospecting for gold. Even some of their old routines are present - like mistaking something else for syrup, specifically glue in one episode. Unfortunately the one thing not recycled from the old days is much of the slapstick comedy. Sure Moe scowls plenty and the Stooges get their fair share of bumps and bruises in the cartoons, but the face-slapping, head thumping action of yesteryear is sadly kept to a bare minimum, possibly due to the Stooge's ages.
When you look at all the show's flaws though, it's amazing the Stooges were able to deal with second-rate cartoons and their increasing ages and still make people laugh. The bit in one episode where Moe and Larry duel it out Western-style over a "fair dame" (played by Curly Joe) is classic. The cheesy sound effects and campy cowboy getup, combined with some hilarious lines is the perfect recipe for a laugh-out-loud skit. Their innate aptitude for childish antics make for comedy that is simultaneously idiotic and brilliant. And at the core, it is that special knack for comedy is the reason why the Stooges have made and still make many laugh, even in this flawed production.
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