After completing all of my graduating college senior work, getting through capstones, etc., I’ve finally been able to sit down and actually watch a bit of what’s been released.
I have now seen “The Sweet Spot” and “A Tale of Two Tables.”
I’ve been excited for this show ever since the artwork was first being released, and now that I’ve seen a bit of it, I’ve got high hopes for the series.
This is Nickelodeon’s newest cartoon series, and a welcome change from their previous campaigns for shows like Breadwinners, Sanjay and Craig, and Pig Goat Banana Cricket–shows that focus on characters that are, to many (and to put it mildly), a bit much to handle even for ten minutes. The Loud House drops us way back down to Earth, but doesn’t bore us. It’s almost like a realization at Nick that kids don’t have to be spoon-fed diabetes-inducing wackiness every second of the show. (This may be a bit hypocritical, as I’ve always loved Ren and Stimpy–but even that show had some white space in the writing where we could breathe).
The show focuses on Lincoln Loud–an average boy just trying to live day by day in a house full of girls–and follows his exploits as he addresses the audience directly with plans and plots and workarounds to his claustrophobic family situation. This is the gimmick of the series, which I always expect to get in the first few episodes of a series.
In “A Tale of Two Tables,” Lincoln works with his best friend, Clyde, to prove to his parents that he’s ready for the grown-up table. But when he gets there, he finds it insufferably boring, and hatches a plan to get back to the food fights and fart jokes that give life to the kiddie table. Setting a precedent, his older sisters follow along. This was the lesser of the two episodes, in my opinion, if only because the jokes are a bit cheesy and predictable. However, the characters shine very brightly in this episode, and we get a good sense of how things operate in the Loud house–particularly the chosen roles of the parents.
In “The Sweet Spot,” Lincoln’s family is planning a trip and Lincoln creates an elaborate system of agreements with his sisters regarding who will sit where in the van, breaking down the pros and cons of each possible position in the van and which spot, after much analysis, is the “sweet spot.” I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, as I thought it did a brilliant job of giving us so many character personalities in such a small amount of time, but without boiling each sister down to their gimmicky single-shot character archetypes. Yes, each sister is basically a stereotype, but the reason it works right now is because there are a whole lot of them, so these stereotypes give us a jumping-off point for when the series progresses and we get to see each sister’s idiosyncrasies.
Right now, the series is giving me what I expect out of the first two episodes. Establishing information, character iconography, and decent writing. As the series carries on, so long as it focuses on the characters and develops them through one-on-one interactions with Lincoln and each other, it has a chance of being a remarkable series–and a feat of writing for animation.
I’d say that it’s strengths are it’s warmth of style and it’s consistent, identifiable design. I’d say that it’s writing poses both strength and weakness. It’s strong in it’s execution of necessary information and writing structure, but the humor, as of these two episodes, is a little predictable. I did laugh out loud at the scene where Lincoln steps on the cat and strokes it back to sleep, and the nightmare scene had some really cool animation composition going for it. The only other thing I noticed, that I’d consider a weakness, is the abundance of sound effects and a lack of music. For a series with such an energetic theme song, I’d expect more in-episode music. I’d like a breadth of soundtrack with it.
Overall, I’m still very excited about this series and where it could go. It’s starting off as any great cartoon series has–with a foundation of charm and warmth, but a little work ahead of it to develop it’s universe and solidify it’s place in the annals of animated television history.
I say give ‘em whatever they need and let them play, Nick. They’ll knock this one out of the park, if my intuition is accurate. Here’s to a long run and a much-desired return to story-driven NickToons.