Archive - Mar 2008

March 26th

Crawled Up His Own Sass*

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Memo to Bill Gibron: YOU ARE DUMB.

Here's the thing. I love Frisky Dingo. Bill Gibron, reviewer at DVDTalk.com, also loves Frisky Dingo. Now, by the transitive property of love, which I learned all about in my faith-based sex ed class, I should therefore love Bill Gibron. But I don't love Bill. I hate Bill.

I didn't want to hate Bill. It just kind of happened as I read his review. I actually went out of my way to check his reviewing history, because he writes the kind of review I'd feel bad about mocking if it turns out that DVD Talk let disadvantaged sixteen-year-olds write reviews for credit in their high-school English class. But this, sadly, is not the case. Frisky Dingo is Gibron's five-hundred-and-ninety-eighth review. Which means, on DVDTalk, there are five hundred and seventy nine reviews of even lesser quality, as Gibron found his voice and developed his talent since that fateful day, in January 2004**, when his review of MTV's Making The Band 2 - The Best of Season One took cheap shots at Puff Daddy's many names before offering up a "Highly Recommended" rating.

Six hundred reviews, and the damn thing reads like a book report. A section on "The Product". A section on "The Plot". The plot? In a Frisky Dingo review? Surprise surprise, his plot summary is really just a summary of the first episode, which goes on almost longer than the first episode, and largely misses the point, as Frisky Dingo's plot is a flimsy wire upon which a metric fuckload of jokes are hung.

And then, because these things apparently have to hit a minimum word count, he gives us one-sentence summaries of each of the episodes on the disc. Yay! I wasn't going to buy it at first, but now that I know that in the episode called "Kidnapped", Killface tries to kidnap Xander Crews, I can't get to Target fast enough. But just as you're wishing the dull recitation of easily-Googlable facts would stop, it does. And the analysis starts. Followed shortly thereafter by the screaming. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Frisky Dingo is the perfect example of a 'larch' style satire. Remember the moment in the classic Monty Python sketch when an ongoing slideshow depicted the now notorious tree without a single frame of familiarity of contextual reference? That's how this show functions. We recognize its (forest) familiarity, but have no stinking idea why it's frequently freaked out elements are part of the parody."

What. The. Fuck? "The Larch" isn't satire! It's nothing like satire! There can't be a perfect example of larch-type satire, because larch-type satire doesn't exist. It's absurdism. So is a lot of Frisky Dingo. I didn't think it was necessary to mention this, but there is more to comedy than satire and parody, even now. There are, for example, just jokes. Something Frisky Dingo is full of. And speaking of being full of, allow me to present to you the single most astonishing sentence you're likely to see this year... in an Internet review... of an Adult Swim DVD.

"It's not a new approach - most of the post-modern irony oriented work that passes for humor today uses this kind of comedy as a smarmy, smug retort. But Frisky Dingo has enough sass and verve to get away with it."

OK. I love language. And I'm a firm believer that we should use all the words. But only when the words are right. And unless you're 97 years old and discussing a flapper you banged in the Roaring 20s, "sass" and "verve" are not the right words. Or maybe if it's 1957, you own a bank, and your secretary, sick of your sorry uptight ass after ten years, finally tells you off. So you tell her she's got sass, she's got verve, and she's got to look for a new job. Apart from that, just say no to sass, just say no to verve, and under no circumstances cross the sass and verve streams.

Since I am not the type of person who thinks it's good form to mock reviewers for merely being wrong, I will not mention that, towards the end of the article, Gibron refers to "The Venture Bros." as "questionable content", and "funnier in theory than in practice". That's just a matter of opinion, and he's no more wrong than someone who, say, thinks orgasms are "more enjoyable in theory than in practice". So on that point, I will leave Gibron alone.

But I will say this. If you're going to try to get away with a summing-up paragraph like "To think it easily accessible or instantly likable is foolish in its own right. However, Frisky Dingo is not a dada-esque descent into pointless self-parody***. Instead, it's a show that has ambitions above and beyond its meager animation foundation. What those aspirations are remain a mystery, a conundrum concocted out of a familiar TV type.", you'd fucking well better know that it's a story ARC, not a story ARCH. Needless to say, we can file Gibron under Fail, Epic.

*Bonus alternate title: "Doosh!"

**While this is certainly a striking parallel to a certain grey, hate-filled website we all know and love, the similarities end there.

***Well, you would know, motherfucker.