OK, so Brandon and I decided to do a chatlog review of the new PVP animated series together, rather than record a show about it. This has been edited for clarity, as Instant Messaging has a naturally weird flow. So here, for your perusal, is what two critics think about PVP: The Animated Series.
Phil: OK, so. We’re about to watch this here PVP series. I’ve already watched it once, as have you, right?
Brandon: I’ve actually watched it twice. I showed it to a friend who’s outside of the whole Webcomic universe.
Phil: What did they think?
Brandon: I was curious what his reaction was and, interestingly enough, it was similar to mine.
Phil: Right on. Let’s hit that play button.
Phil: Still seeing problems with timing in the first five seconds. Also, the recycled gum chewing noise.
Brandon: So we’ve seen this already…this was the sample footage they released early.
Phil: Right. The trailer was just the first minute. I’m disappointed that it looks EXACTLY the same.
Brandon: The infamous Skull voice. I don’t personally have a problem with Skull’s voice.
Phil: Eh… it’s not what I’d've gone for. But whatever.
Brandon: And yes, I wish they had cleaned up the first minute a little. It’s rougher around the edges than everything else. The crunch noise when Skull falls is way too much. Sounds like a building demolition. There’s inconsistency between goofiness and “realism”.
Phil: I think it’s weird to have Brent insulting the series he’s in. I mean, it’s not weird because that’s his CHARACTER. But it feels weird, still.
Brandon: Brent insulting the series worked for the trailer.
Phil: For the trailer, yes. Cole’s voice totally works.
Brandon: Brent and Cole are standing waaaay too close together. Their intense overlap bothers me. I like when Cole sounds like his nose is stopped up every once in while. Great stuff. Brent’s good, too.
Phil: Brent’s great. Still wish Straub did it.
Brandon: Jade’s voice, which we’ll hear later, is good as well. Pretty much what I heard in my head. This bothers me…they later refer to the restaurant twice as “Hoot Hoots” despite the sign and the shirt saying “Knockers”.
Phil: Yeah, that’s kind of a glaring continuity error.
Brandon: The extra bounce to the waitress’s breasts is amusing.
Phil: It is.
Brandon: Beer and boobs.
Phil: Double B’in it.
Phil: I have problems with the animation in general. I’ll get into that after we finish.
Brandon: “I’m an architect” wins the best line award, at least for timing.
Brandon: Jade’s mouth bothers me. It’s not that it isn’t synced right (it isn’t), it just moves around too much.
Phil: Mm. I love the drinking game they’re playing.
Brandon: I think the contents of the condiment bottles have gone down, like they’ve incorporated that in their drinking. If not, edit that out.
Phil: I suspect that they did.
Brandon: The girl’s laughing sounds awful. Chicken clucking, however, is funny.
Phil: I think that’s actually a turkey.
Brandon: That’s what I meant. Damn, I’m retarded. Bleeped profanity annoys me.
Phil: Eh. They do what they gotta do.
Brandon: I’d rather have them just say it or change it to something else.
Phil: I would’ve just as soon said “screwed.”
Brandon: I like the music…the guitar and whistling just fits.
Phil: Agreed, definitely fits. That’s probably Straub.
Brandon: It is, according to the credits. So? What do you think, Mr. Phil?
Phil: Kind of underwhelming. Not awful, but didn’t live up to the hype. This is the pilot, of course, and things will get better from here. But outlook is hazy at the moment.
Brandon: I see potential for improvement. I know they’re already charging ahead, but I hope they’ll take some time to listen to input…constructive input, anyway. The legion of “SKULL SOUNDS RETARDED OMG” people can shush.
Phil: I have two major issues with this, formalistically.
Brandon: Bring it.
Phil: 1) The animation is wonky. It’s done in flash, and flash is a great animation program. But as I understand it, the art of animation is meant to create the illusion of motion to the motionless. Good animation lets you believe that the cartoons are real. Because this is flash, the hand object is different from the arm object, which is different from the body object, etc. It disrupts the illusion when the things look like they’re moving independently of each other, and not as a single entity, etc.
Brandon: Absolutely…the choppiness is jarring. Not choppiness, but segmentation. However, it works in some formats…there’s not exactly a lot of flow to a show like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but it gets a lot of praise.
Phil: I believe they did a better job with the animation in CAD Animated, from what I saw. It might just be Buckley’s style being more conducive to the Flash medium, but I don’t really know. All I know is that it’s distracting.
Brandon: I never saw CAD, but even the trailer for LICD looks smoother and less disjointed. Part of that may come from Kurtz’s style and the fact the characters are designed in a flat way.
Phil: 2) They’re not going far enough with the animated series.
Brandon: Far enough? How so?
Phil: Well, it’s a new medium. Essentially, it’s an adaptation.
Brandon: Which comes with its own series of challenges…
Phil: When you adapt something, it’s gotta be worth it. Like… When you bring a property into a new medium, you’ve got to do it so you can do things with the new medium that you can’t do with the old one. Otherwise, there isn’t much point.
Brandon: Well, they move around and sound like things. From a basic level, is that enough?
Phil: I don’t really think so. I mean, yes it has a bit of motion and voice. But I don’t get the feeling they couldn’t evoke the same response out of me (or other viewers) with the strip as it was.
Brandon: What makes this different from, say, Garfield and Friends as an adaptation in your opinion?
Brandon: That’s a serious question! I think Garfield translated well to the screen.
Phil: Well, with Garfield and friends, they were able to do the occasional song and dance routine, I suppose. Even get a little tricky with the animation, and break the visual format.
In the PVP series, the layouts of the characters are essentially the same. There aren't really any perspective changes, or things done compositionally that haven’t been done in the strip.
Brandon: That was something I was concerned with. I wanted a little dynamic to it that wasn’t there. There are new locations! Come on…a fleshed out, Straub-designed break room? That’s new!
Phil: Well, yeah. But you could do the new locations thing in the strip.
Brandon: I know, I’m joking around. Stop being such a NERD, Kahn.
Phil: Shut your face, Carr. You had it right before, it needs dynamic.
Brandon: It just needs something to lift it up above. I’m worried that the reaction to that will be “oh wait for Skull to do something zany!”
Phil: Yes, exactly. It needs to be taking serious chances, instead of just bringing motion to a normal PVP strip. I’m looking forward to a serious chase scene with the General Lee.
Or, if Brent and Francis are playing video games, why not show it?
Brandon: Judging from this initial entry, it doesn’t feel like that’s the tone they’re trying to set. Which makes no sense with an intro in which a main character is being MAULED BY A PANDA.
Phil: The Panda is totally out of place for the show, as far as can be seen by this first episode, along with the first scene. They’re setting up for zany comedy, but the rest of the episode is light comedy with dramatic development.
Brandon: The panda might show up in advertisements, etc. but not as a regular feature. But it SHOULD. What we’re looking at seems too modeled after sitcoms. And not the risk-taking ones.
Brandon: Final thoughts? Overall initial assessments? Unwarranted or warranted insults against Mr. Kurtz?
Phil: Heh. No I think there have been enough insults from our readers on the blog recently.
Brandon: Yeah. Yowza.
Phil: My only regret is that despite my basic enjoyment of the show, and best efforts to critically examine it, our thoughts on the manner have a strong possibility of being dismissed outright.
Brandon: Oh, I have no doubt. Especially considering that they’re already on the fourth episode right now, I think. Kurtz and Straub have a vision that will not be deflected. Our only hope is that by the end of the season, some of things we and others have mentioned will start to show through. At least if they’re hoping for second-year renewals.
Phil: For serious. You got anything else to add?
Brandon: I was excited about the idea of the show because Straub and Kurtz were so excited about it. Their enthusiasm was all over the place, from their video production blogs to banners and posts.
Phil: Oh, definitely.
Brandon: The reason that piqued my interest was because of the hope that the fun and excitement of the creative process would bleed over into the product. That meant I went into the final result with some expectations that were not fulfilled. Straub and Kurtz are wacky guys, as seen from the video blogs, as seen in the Blammimations, as seen in the fun flame wars they get into (scratch that last one), so why wasn’t the cartoon wacky? Where was the FUN to it? Other than the bouncing boobies and a gobbling turkey.
Brandon: And Skull farting, but whatever. That didn’t make me laugh.
Phil: Yeah, it probably made some people laugh, though. Which works, I suppose.
Brandon: That’s pretty much it. I wanted fun, I got functional.
Brandon: We’re agreeing too much.
Phil: Yeah. Where’s Daku?