Thursday, April 21, 2016

Land Before Time: Adventuring in the Mysterious Beyond

The last Land Before Time DVD is a themed one! In every episode, our heroes visit the Mysterious Beyond, the dangerous place where carnivores live. I find it amusing that this is the DVD's theme, considering how they do this in the majority of episodes. That's like having a Simpsons DVD, themed around Homer doing stupid things.

First is "The Great Egg Adventure". This episode features the return of the bullies from the third movie, and I was impressed by the writing here. The episode does a balancing act between their original bully personalities from the start of the movie, and their reformed bully personalities from the end of the movie. Characters with semi-complex personalities? That's way more effort than the rest of the show has led me to expect.

The story is that our heroes find three carnivore eggs. They don't want the carnivores to hatch near their home, so they decide to move the eggs far, far away. They split up into three groups, with each group getting one egg. The entire time, the mother chases them and tries to kill them. The mother made for an interesting enemy, partially because she's the only female carnivore we've seen (besides Chomper's mom) and because she was smarter than your average enemy on this show. Other enemies have been scared away by things like echoing voices and smelly flowers, while this one was smart enough to knock down trees to hurt her foes.

Overall, a good episode! It has an above average villain, and the movie cameos worked well. The only downside to the episode that bothered me was the fact that Hep looks completely different from the way he looked in the movie. He's a lot smaller, which is ironic considering that his theme song is "When You're Big". I imagine some people might dislike how the episode kicked Cera, Spike and Ruby out of the group, to make room for the three bullies, but that was probably for the best. Otherwise, the episode would probably have a character overload.

Second is "Escape from the Mysterious Beyond". There's not a whole lot of story to this. Our heroes are lost in the Mysterious Beyond, where they get chased by carnivores. That is the entire story. In the subplot, Chomper, Ducky and a carnivore get stuck on an island. The carnivore's tail is trapped, so it can't reach them. Tensions are high, as they deal with the nearby carnivore and worry that they won't be rescued by their friends.

The subplot was the best part, and I found it to be really different. Ten minutes of two characters talking to each other in a closed space, while someone three feet away tries desperately to kill them / break their morale. Not a typical storyline! Also, not typical for this series for the heroes to hold conversations with the carnivores. Plus, this is only time Ducky and Chomper have had an extended conversation by themselves. The scene of her hugging him for emotional support probably inspired a lot of fanfics.

I'd probably give this episode a 6 or 7 out of 10. The animation was neat, especially with the carnivore attacks. This could be the only time Red Claw is shown as a legitimate threat, and not just the stupid villain that gets easily defeated over and over again. But on the other hand, the episode's story is so non-existent that it's overshadowed by the subplot of two people talking for ten minutes. The last episode was also nothing but chase sequences, but at least they had eggs and different characters to talk about, instead of just screaming and running the whole time.

Third is 'The Lonely Journey". Everyone is celebrating the Time of Great Giving, when some of the adults make racist comments against Sharpteeth. Chomper is offended and sad he doesn't fit in, so he goes to the Great Beyond and tries to make friends with the Sharpteeth there. Things go badly, and he gets rescued by his real friends. Chomper sings "Feel So Happy", end episode.

Wasn't there another episode with this exact same storyline? It feels really familiar. The scene with Chomper talking to the young Sharptooth was interesting, but other than that, it was a generic Chomper episode. I liked it, even if it was a kind of average episode, with Chomper re-exploring issues he's already explored.

Side note: They sing "Feel So Happy" in eight episodes. Each time it has different lyrics. How do we know which version of the song is the official version?

Last is "The Hermit of Black Rock", featuring the return of Guido from the 12th movie. He's not as annoying here as he was in the movie, but still, I wasn't thrilled to see him again. Guido gets flying lessons from Petrie, when they both get caught in a wind and end up at Black Rock.

There, they meet a blind pterodactyl. I wasn't expecting to see a kindly, elderly blind man in this series. All three of them work together, to get back home, with Guido testing the wind and Petrie guiding the blind one. I don't think there's a subplot in this episode; it's all just Petrie and Guido. In other words, the worst character with one of the weaker movie characters. The episode is all right, but it's still the worst one on the DVD.

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