Live from Chicago, it’s Dr. Manny Presents!!!
I saw this coming. In my review of Angela Anaconda, I mentioned Pepper Ann. The creator of that show, Sue Rose, also co-created Angela Anaconda and lent her voice to the title character. As I reviewed Angela Anaconda, I realized two things:
1. Sue Rose is no actor.
2. It’s not the first time an otherwise-good person created a dud (search Da Boom Crew, The Buzz on Maggie, and (apparently) Rocket Power to know what I mean).
Still, I felt obligated to review Pepper Ann (it was in my list of things to review from the get-go). I remember watching it whenever it was on back in the days when there will still good things to watch on TV. Don’t get me wrong, of course we still have some gems now (I also plan on reviewing Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil, as well as Inside Amy Schumer – it can’t all be animated,) but I wish there was more effort put into them, like the ones I mentioned (glares at Horrid Henry). Pepper Ann certainly had effort. So, without further ado, let’s start the review.
Pepper Ann’s two best friends are Nicky Little and Milo Kamalani. Nicky is a “smart guy” kind of character, and also an aspiring violinist. Milo is a bohemian, but he’s very dramatic. They’re just some of this show’s offbeat characters - Pepper Ann’s mother is about as kooky as they come; Pepper Ann’s sister, Margaret Rose (nicknamed “Moose”) is probably the greatest example of a tomboy this side of Misty (not that I’m complaining…); foreign exchange student Dieter is this show’s Uter; and so on. It’s a… unique show, though not quite as unique as Doug.
Sadly, this show is one of the most underrated out there. It could never catch up with Doug or Recess while they were on the air (Disney's Doug became arguably the most successful show on the block, spawning a stage show and Doug's 1st Movie; while Recess became a cult hit with adult viewers... much like how a LOT of these shows are now). Sure, it's not very memorable ratings- or merchandise- wise, but is it memorable in story-wise sense? HELL YES.
For an episode review, I'm going to talk about the first episode I saw when I searched YouTube: "Peer Counselor P.A.", aka the basis for that crappy YTP above.
Anyway, some douche guns down Pepper Ann's plane, no doubt an analogy to our battle with the Nazis. Suddenly, BAM!
Pepper Ann is taken back to reality by her mother, who warns her that her short attention span will lead to horrible consequences...!! Pepper Ann just shrugs it off.
Pepper Ann: Oh, Mom, there is no "poorhouse" anymore. We'd be on the streets.
Apparently, this carries over to her schoolwork as well. Normally, Pepper Ann isn't a good student – duh – but her daydreaming caused her to mess up her report (she got a C+) on famous Americans (5 pages about 50 famous Americans, not 50 pages about 5 famous Americans). ...That ALMOST sounded like a tongue twister, but I'm not clever enough.
Pepper Ann laments her failure, just as her teacher begins talking about an extra credit assignment. Her teacher turns into a fly (!?), and begins buzzing about something, but of course, Pepper Ann doesn't hear it. Actually, that's not true – she interprets what the teacher says as "pier," and thus thinks that's what the extra credit assignment involves. Note that her fantasy involves a kid being afraid of heights.
Pepper Ann comes to school sometime later wearing... this.
She and Nicky are the only ones in their class who volunteered. Wow, Pepper Ann's classmates are douches! As it turns out, Pepper Ann signed up for a peer counseling class! Yay!!
Nicky: I think you're wise to maintain a casual beachy appearance. It'll put your counselees at ease.
Don’t ruin this episode, Nicky.
Mr. Finkle begins the lesson. Pepper Ann begins copying the notes, but then starts drawing sketches on the paper. She imagines the sketches coming to life.
Surprisingly enough, the Pepper Ann sketch starts chastising the real Pepper Ann; after all, her short attention span is what got her into this mess to begin with. She erases the sketch's head in fury.
So anyway, the next few moments are of Pepper Ann's attention span clearly undoing her during the peer counseling session, despite her insistence otherwise. A kid with pink-eye is her first client; Pepper Ann falls asleep. Identical twins Tessa and Vanessa James are her next clients; Pepper Ann makes an eraser pig. Childish. "Popular girl" Cissy Rooney (yeah, this show goes there) is her third client; Pepper Ann just... wanders into space while Cissy just says "blah" over and over.
Pepper Ann: Ah! Would you look at that? Time's up.
We see that Nicky is a much better counselor than Pepper Ann... as she should be. As for Pepper Ann...
Pepper Ann's reflection in the water jug stresses the fact that Pepper Ann needs to listen. HOLD UP – Pepper Ann knows she's not a good listener, but she keeps on denying it?? Um... Am I missing something? I remember Pepper Ann being a good show back in the day... OK, I admit to never seeing this episode in full (or maybe I did, but don't remember it), only using it for that YTP, but... Well, as MrEnter says, even good shows can have some duds. And this episode is starting to become one.
Pepper Ann boasts that the next person who comes to her will be changed "like never before." Enter Dieter. He complains that his mother is having trouble adjusting to American life. What's Pepper Ann do? She tells him to follow his dream; not to let anyone stop him. OK, maybe this episode will get better--
Dieter's mother: The only thing he left behind was this note. "Dree Mummy, I've decided to take Pepper Ann's advice and go to run away from home."
He ran away?! Krist, this episode is becoming The Wild!
The one time Pepper Ann listened during this whole course, and she misinterpreted Dieter's words. Freaking wow...
Pepper Ann: Dieter, wherever you are, I will find you!
That's what she does. She, Nicky, and Milo split up to find him; they all look in implausible places. Pepper Ann, for example, looks in a trash can...
Eventually, Pepper Ann gives up, until Nicky tells Pepper Ann to retrace her steps. The flashback is played like a videotape.
Here, it's revealed that Dieter actually wanted to become... a Hazelnut Pup Scout? (I may or may not have misheard that.) Pepper Ann and her friends find him at "Camp Runawiffraham" (stupid name). Pepper Ann comes to a rather convoluted conclusion: Dieter, in order to feel more like an American (sorry if that sounded offensive) had joined the Pup Scouts; a pin Dieter was wearing was a Pup Scout ritual; because English was not Dieter's mother's first language (natch), she misread the note.
She tries to strike up a conversation with Nicky and Milo, but they both got nothing to talk about at the moment, much to her annoyance. The episode ends as Pepper Ann keeps trying to force her friends to talk to her...
Well... that was tough to review. Looks like I'm not so good at paying attention myself; otherwise, I would've chosen a good episode of this show to review. Don't get me wrong, I love Pepper Ann, and I definitely wanted to watch it after so long; then again, just as a bad show can have a good episode, a good show can have a bad episode. Of course, that's just my opinion. Come another day, I will definitely review a better episode of Pepper Ann.
Before I conclude this review, I’ll list the pros and cons of this show as a whole:
Some really good animation and fantasies.
The characters are tolerable. Even the ones I'm supposed to HATE become characters I like.
Just like the Simpsons, the opening features a different gag every episode. This wasn't the case in the first season, however.
Disney's first show created by a female (Sue Rose would go on to create Angela Anaconda and Unfabulous) This wouldn't happen again until Star vs. The Forces of Evil.
Mr. Warburton, creator of Codename: Kids Next Door, designed the characters. That's something, right?
The voice direction... isn't the best, unfortunately. This show's got some good voice actors, but it doesn't seem like some of them are really suited for their roles.
The animation can get choppy sometimes.
Stereotypes, of course. At least, unlike Horrid Henry, at least this show actually portrays characters with heart and respect.
This episode in particular, Peer Counselor P.A., was pretty badly written. I get the gist, but it has WAY too many unsettling moments. As I've stressed, it felt like The Wild at times. Speaking of...
Number of times The Wild has been mentioned in this review: Six (including this sentence.)
Also, I'd like to thank this guy, that guy, that other guy, that hairy gorilla in the back seat, and everyone else tonight! It was WONDERFUL!
AHEM... This has been Dr. Manny Presents. Join me next time as I review... another thing. (Yeah, "stay happy, and have a wild day" seemed childish to me. This is better.)
Garfield: The Movie
A Shin-chan movie
Star vs. The Forces of Evil
Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon"
Bubsy pilot: "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"
If you’re interested in these reviews, leave a comment or send me a note with your suggestions! I’ll reply as fast as I can!