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Rastamouse has Arrived! Retro Reggae & Retro Animation
Rastamouse is a new UK-made animated stop-motion series featuring Jamaican-Caribbean Mice puppets, based on 2 children's books.
It was first shown on the UK CBeebies channel, for very young children under 6. It's the first show with Jamaican animated characters it has become much wider known than any other similar program, due to how the UK media have covered it.
Rastamouse is a dreadlocked & Tam (woolly Rasta hat) wearing Mouse & his 2 supporting mouse characters are Scratchy, a oddly 1950s styled female mouse & Zoomer, a modern styled male. Others include Bandulu the Cook and the rather scary Bagga-T the heavily-blinged Orphanage guy. Others are President Wensley Dale, Fats the Garage owner, Missy D, Rubba & Dub the sporty twins, Saul the Trainer shop owner and Little Patch the Radio DJ.
The stories are uncomplicated but generally enjoyable even to an adult. Some stories can be a bit too simplistic with thieves & crooks getting off very lightly & having just to do a helpful thing for the Mouseland community. This echoes the Jamaican & Black idea of not liking "Babylon" and making their own sort of lifestyle rules here & Rastamouse can get a bit preachy in the less well written episodes. But for a young kids program that this clearly is, this is fine & the baddies getting heavy treatment wouldn't make a nice show.
People have much criticised this show in the early weeks, but to me there is nothing at all wrong with it. For a start, the show uses Black actor voices, if they used Jamaicans straight from Orange Street, we'd have trouble understanding the accent as you find in "The Harder They Come" film. The Scratchy character sounds very 1950s like 'Mammy Two-Shoes' from Tom & Jerry.Here just a few Jamaican Patois words are used, eg "Wha'gwan" meaning "what's going on" a lesser known word "Cris" meaning cool or similar and "Irie" meaning "good happy great".
The reggae is the late 70s-early 80s styles revived & the animation is very like "Paddington" with furry puppets & a 2D drawn background. It is a very appealing show to look at & the bright colours, happy music & upbeat nature to it make it a nice show to watch. The character puppets are around 12" tall, as a short-lived BBC website slideshow showed. The eyelids blinking are on pegs & are changed using tweezers. You sometimes see the fur by the eyes move as this is where the animators grip the puppets to move them. One scene showed Rastamouse has a hollow head, else he'd overbalance. Light could be seen through his hat! President Wensley Dale has no trousers in his outfit, yet wore some when playing golf!
After having watched all 26 episodes in the first series, some were in the wrong order introducing characters long after they first appeared, making the story lines jump awkwardly. The right order to watch them in is this: Da Crucial Plan; Da Bag A Bling; Double Crossin' Diva; Bakin' and Breakin'; Da Missin Masterpiece; For Real FM; Mice Camera Action; Hot Hot Hot; Da President's Pie; Toots Re-routes; Shorty Shapes Up; Boom Bada Boom; Rollin' Ragga Twins; Wicked Threads; Da Marathon Mystery; Da Cool Cruiser; Da Monstrous Fib; Cheesy Rumbles; Pie Without Cheese; Da Ice Cold Criminal; Master of Disguise; Lady Uptown; Sole Rebel; Hot Sauce; Sugarcube; Da Rhyming Teef. Then it will make better sense.
A few questions raise themselves about the show: why is no-one related apart from the odd nephew? What "bad ting" did Rastamouse & the gang do to be so obedient to the President's every call? Why do none of the characters have any family? Who bit Bandulu's ear? Why does Bagga T wear so much bling & where did he get it from? How does the President know Rastamouse will come when called as the Radio is a one-way one? Who were & what happened to the Orphans parents? Why do so few characters have a proper name, most if not all are nicknames.
It was first shown on 31 January 2011 and as expected YouTube got a copy of it & after 36 hours it got 120,000 hits before the makers didn't like that (as it admittedly gives the show away for free) yet decided within a week to use YT themselves to promote the show! 'Hypocrites' as Mr Marley once sang...
The controversy you will find elsewhere is largely about the first episode where "cheese" was repeatedly mentioned but none being seen until towards the end leading "typical forum types" to link cheese to other powdered goods linked to Rastafarianism. It is tiresome, but I suppose it is like "Magic Roundabout", having a hidden thing for an older audience to enjoy makes the show more popular, despite the expected denials of the makers! Rastamouse has become a name known in the UK way beyond it's basic Kids TV meanings within just a few weeks.
Apart from the main character, the Rasta theme isn't really mentioned, perhaps they should have really called it "Reggae Mouse", but then there would be less of a hint-hint that the media picked up on, controversy does get a product known fast after all & Rastamouse hit very big & very fast.
Non UK viewers will likely see the show in their country as it gets bought up Worldwide and we'll hear what they think of it. Will it be shown in Jamaica? That's the reaction we do want to hear.
I give it 8/10, some of the weaker & unsatisfying endings to stories let it down a bit, but overall it's "watch with a grin on your face" TV as it's so nicely made. If the show becomes a hit soft toys of the characters will be welcome here!
Respect to our Brethren as Rastamouse would say. And be nice.
Samantha Who? (2007)
A Watchable Show but not particularly Funny or particularly Memorable
Saw a few episodes on UK Comedy Central & as missed more decided to buy the DVD of both series on the basis of those early episodes. Have watched the lot now as I bought the thing & it's certainly not a 'keeper' like Scrubs or 30 Rock is. It appears Comedy Central don't show it anymore now.
OK, it's a watchable series that looks good in cast & set, but the overall point to it is just a little vague? The earlier ones as Sam discovers herself are the best, but after that where does it go? The trouble is there is not much comedy, more a weak romantic drama with San doing comedy bits that doesn't have any real direction. Sam's guy/flatmate is so bland I can't even remember his name (Todd on checking!).
The "Bad Sam" flashbacks are the easily highlight of the show. How much better 2 seasons of "Bad Sam" would be, the change in CA playing her is a great contrast to "Good Sam".
The other 2 females we don't really get to know much about and just fill in time with shallowness & a very superficial life as with Andrea. The Doorman guy is a wasted character only given very few lines.
Did I laugh? Erm, the only funny was the Doorman in the Restaurant scene & laughing at the surprise of it rather than what was said.
Memorable Episodes? Erm, not really any. No clever quotes or lines you'd remember forever. You'll compare the Doorman a bit to Rhoda, the vehicle the Dad buys to Frasier & the Mum to the woman Frasier dated in the later series! And naturally 'Married With Children' for Kelly Bundy.
Why was it cancelled? Well CA had her problems in real life & the before/after episodes you can't really tell, showing her high qualities of acting throughout the last episodes. You do feel a little awkward knowing the truth & that as a 'maybe' is a reason why, but don't think it. Another reason why is more likely the show had "No Direction" and it tried desperately to bring in some male characters later on in knowledge of it's weakness there.
The ending episode seemed a bit messy, it did offer an 'ending' to the main characters in a way so as not to leave it in mid air, in a way that '3rd Rock From the Sun' did a few times not knowing it'd be renewed. But it left ways to continue, if anyone was bothered watching more. It'll do for me as it is.
The last DVD of the 2nd season should be watched in this order: 1st title, the 3 "More Sam" ones then the last 3, to keep the continuity.
Is it a Chick Show? Male me tends to think it is. It's lack of Substance makes some of it tedious watching & you are left a bit empty after you surrendered to it, but it's only 21-22 minutes so not much time to watch just before going to bed!
All in All: it's one of those average frothy nothing shows that gets made far too often today, exactly like Blockbuster Films. Instead of concentrating on good writing like Frasier or Scrubs, it's just very expensive looking with little substance.
Rock & Chips (2010)
An enjoyable effort but with some errors!
As others say this was an enjoyable prequel to Only Fools with a good amount of early stuff mentioned in OFAH explained. It was well cast throughout and the period detail was a good attempt! The "errors" included the tone of 1960 being very rose-tinted. Denzil for a start had a 70s afro & his manner in 1960 would have been much less loud due to how life was & the limited views of the day. The other black guy however, looking very like Muddy Waters the blues legend, was spot on.
The incessant music & record references were a bit OTT, ooh we got the original record! You could see they had no-centre ex-jukebox records & reproduction London sleeves! The music chosen was certainly the pick of the era all USA artists even though many happily listened to UK pop like Max Bygraves & other MOR artists.
The purple pill popping was wrongly called "drugs" which is not even how we spoke of such in the 80s. Slater dancing stoned saying he was like a "rock star" was foolish, such a term not used until well into the 70s.
The "intense" cinema manager was a bit out of place perhaps, it appeared to be an attempt to appeal to today's TV crowd, although it ended up hilarious & the final joke subtle enough to only be understood by those old enough, which is a nice bit of writing. The Coffee joke was nice too in typical OFAH style.
Kellie Bright & James Buckley were perfect castings. Nicholas Lyndhurst was the obvious choice for Freddy, but he wasn't consistent & ended up more like Gary from 'Goodnight Sweetheart' simply as NL is known as a nice guy.
The title itself 'Rock & Chips' was a bit feeble after the working title & only a mention of it eating such on the bus.
Overall certainly the best show of the year so far & not to continue with it would be a shame, although having covered all the story we knew about having watched OFAH anything further would need some strong writing to keep the quality. One of those shows guaranteed to please those familiar with OFAH & being over 30 but it may just confuse those younger without the show knowledge.
The Outer Limits (1963)
Why is this Really Dull series so highly rated?
I love both series of 'The Twilight Zone' I enjoyed 'Star Trek' the 60s series & many of the ITC series. But this series to one who has never seen it on TV before (under 40) is a real dull clunker! Very dry sci-fi with no personality. Tedious stories that you find yourself doing something else (reach for a book to read etc) instead of watching as it does not catch the imagination.
I tried the highest IMDb rated episodes too: also really dull & interest was never found in any of them. The first episode is so ordinary in style & pace & so lacking in anything to inspire the viewer, even with what could have been a good story if used in other shows.
The very annoying & patronising start 'We are taking over your TV' appears to mindlessly brainwash viewers into thinking this junk is worthy. It amazingly gets compared to the brilliant 'The Twilight Zone' too by many, who obviously can't see the boring directing & pacing of this series for what it really is.
No wonder it was very cheap on Amazon! 2/10