More absorbent, yellow, porous fun
The Story So Far...
The remaining three episodes almost perfectly represent the show's now-standard episode types, including two Squidward stories, pitting Spongebob against his snobbish neighbor; a Gary tale, with Spongebob's pet snail; a Patrick-focused episode; a story with Spongebob's boss, Mr. Krabs; as well as yet another face-off with his driving instructor, Mrs. Puff. With a decade of Spongebob behind us, these are stories we've seen many times before, which makes them a tougher sell. That they, as a group, just aren't that great, doesn't help either. The theory some Spongebob fans hold is that creative changes following the series' feature film brought down the quality of the show, and episodes like "Summer Job," where Mrs. Puff has to train under Spongebob to work at the Krusty Krab, repeating the same conflicts of previous episodes, make it hard to argue that.
Though there's not a story on this disc that I would turn to when choosing a Spongebob show to watch, it's not all bad, as there are at least two worth a look, and they are in the same episode. It's hard to go wrong when you center your episode around Spongebob and Patrick, as their good-natured idiocy usually makes for a good time. But in "Yours, Mine and Mine", where they fight over ownership of a Krusty Krab toy, something is a bit off. Part of it is the negative feeling whenever Patrick has the upper-hand on Spongebob, but it's also less fun to see them in conflict. That show is paired with "Kracked Krabs," where Spongebob travels to the Cheapest Crab Convention with his boss. It's mostly about the cheapness of the crabs, with Spongebob serving as observer and as a pain the neck of Mr. Krabs, as he attempts to win the title of Cheapest Crab. Even so, it's mostly an enjoyable 15 minutes.
Even when the show isn't hitting, as seen in "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful" and "A Day Without Tearts" (unsurprisingly both Squidward-focused stories), the skill and talent that goes into the episodes is undeniable. From the main cast, led by the wonderful Tom Kenny, to the oddball guests, like West and Ward (and the perfectly cast Mary Jo Catlett as Mrs. Puff), the voices are spot-on, while the animation remains consistently enjoyable, blending true creativity with the established look of the series. Perhaps the problem is, after nearly 300 stories, the characters have reached the limits of what you can do with a bunch of pals goofing around. There's always a chance a new spark can be found (The Simpsons certainly turned it around after some lackluster years) but it didn't happen in these episodes.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is solid, but in no way eye-opening, as the mix is right down the middle, with nothing dynamic at all. It's the same basic cable audio presentation you get on TV, without any distortion issues.
The other extra the third episode of the first season of T.U.F.F. Puppy, featuring "Mall Rat" and "Opration: Happy Birthday." This series, starring the voice of iCarly's Jerry Trainor is a fun, old school action comedy, featuring Dudley Puppy, a dim-witted dog, and his spy partner Kitty Katzwell, as they save the world as part of the secret agency T.U.F.F. It's goofy and silly, and this episode is a fine example of the show's quality.
The Bottom Line