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My thoughts on Redwall (Season 2)

 
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IceDragon
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Joined: 03 Apr 2014
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Location: Argentina

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:39 pm    Post subject: My thoughts on Redwall (Season 2) Reply with quote

This an extremely old post that I wrote for a forum that no longer exists and that I thought was lost with it. Here it is, to celebrate its miraculous survival.

I just re-watched Season 2 for the sake of being a nerd, and I would like to talk about my past and present experience with it.

Honestly guys, when I first heard about the Redwall cartoon, I was reluctant to even give it a chance. I mean, it is no secret that I love cartoons... a lot, but at the time I was just finishing a masterpiece of animation like Watership Down and I thought that this other cartoon wasn’t going to be able to live up with my -already huge- expectations because it had to follow one that absolutely delighted me. Such a hard task... and it surprisingly achieved its goal... I really liked Redwall.

At the time that I gave it its first -and only- chance I was working on two jobs and doing chores on the afternoons, WHILE playing two sports at the same time... it was a total mess, but I liked this cartoon so much that I actually “flew” thru it in less than a week (often staying up late and being unable to turn the computer off). I loved the story, the setting, the characters (and their voices)... pretty much everything was a hit with me. I liked it SO much that I was actually sad when Season 1 came to an end. Still, I remember that after watching Seasons’ 1 final episode several times, I finally moved onto Season 2, being reasonably and expectantly excited about it.

Well... let’s just say that, while Season 1 took me a week to watch, Season 2 took me a whole month and I’m still amazed that I even got thru it. Why? For a lot of reasons.

First of all, I think that the cartoon was overly eager to be done with itself and move onto another thing... it really tries to force everything it can down your throat and it even expects you to digest it fast. I mean, we have this kid Mattimeo, who is kind of a rebel on his own way and is very different from Matthias; that could have been a great idea, but the character is given little-to-no development at all and the results are tasteless. There’s also this rat living on Redwall Abbey that is obviously a spy but nobody seem to mind it... the idea COULD have had a lot of potential, but once again the show rushes thru it and the whole situation gets resolved in one or two episodes. I’m sure that the book gives it a better treatment, but this is just the art of missing opportunities just for the heck of it.

Another thing that I don’t like is the pacing... look, Season 1 had the perfect pacing, it was never too fast nor too slow and it shows, but Season 2 made me feel like if someone had stolen my remote control and was playing with the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons at will. In fact, the whole situation made me “invent” my own war-cry... and instead of “Wot,Wot” I was shouting “Wait, What?” (Razz).

I don’t even know why I’m trying to find the right words to describe the rather gray experience that that cartoon delivers, when the opening sequence does it for me... let’s compare Season 1 and 2, shall we?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2W_3uXqsfw

Look at that intro, this is gorgeous. It tells you everything you need to know in less than a minute. It also covers even the most meaningless of details and I really like how it starts off by showing the tapestry, seeing that that is a big part of the Redwall universe. Plus, the camera work and pacing is just amazing on this thing. I keep finding myself returning to that shot of Cornflower running up the stairs of the Abbey whenever I think of this intro because of the angle and the lighting on the shot. This is, in definitive, what you would call an opening and, for the most part, Season 1 really lives up to its awesome presentation.

Now, what does Season 2 have to offer?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pfB4D_6Z8c

Ok, it is not BAD, and it is definitely building up to something but... have you ever noticed that most of the shots are from the first coupe of episodes? That can’t be good. And besides, I’m noticing an awful lack of excitement on these scenes, like there is not much fighting going on here, is it?

I know that I have talked about the pacing quite a bit, but that’s really a problem for me because I’m used to fast-paced, maniac cartoons (Season 1 was a lot like that, actually) and this thing was not making it easy for me to sit thru it. Most of the episodes felt like an endless cycle, with Slegar and the slaves walking thru different locations while Matthias and his allies were right after them, always two or even three steps behind and always being fooled by the first group (that is incredibly off-***** and off-character for the mouse and was a little awkward the first time I saw it). There were, however, three or four episodes that really moved the story forward and were action-packed Redwall at its best... problem is, they didn’t last and we were soon back to the old routine again (which was a huge disappointment).

Honestly, the only thing that really stands out on this whole Season is General Ironbeak and even him seems rushed and he feels like if he would be more at home somewhere else. To top if off, the final battle that the whole Season was building up to felt more like a chore than anything else. And, while it really did have some memorable moments, it didn’t feel exciting in the slightest because Season 3 would do the slave thing again, with far more success.

Oh yeah! There was something else I liked about “Mattimeo”: even when no character is fully developed, it allowed a great amount of them to have screentime and some of them even had quite a bit of dialogue, which made the Abbey seemed a lot more populated than it was on Season 1 and it also made it feel more like a diverse community rather than a building full of mice.

But truth to be told, this was a very bland season and, while it didn’t feel like a waste of time, it really got dangerously close to that definition.



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IceDragon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually found the text that I wrote after that one (this time regarding Season 3)! For the sake of preservation, it hasn't been changed... so grimmer might actually suck.

Ok, Season 3 was everything Season 2 tried so hard to accomplish, but couldn’t quite do it. It really brought the series back to the right path and allowed a lot of changes that made it one of the most memorable ones on the show’s history... which only adds to the frustration to know that there weren’t any more seasons after this one, because one can only wonder what would have come out of this now that the writers, animators and directors finally understood what Redwall was all about. In fact, I think that Season 3 was the best season on the show, because it took everything that made the first one so good and it multiplied it multiple times over.

Let’s go back to the intro one last time, shall we?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ConcPKeyeck

NOW this is what you would call an intro. I love this opening sequence so much because it brought back the dark, moody atmosphere that worked really well at the beginning of this show, but it also made all kinds of improvements to the formula: every key character is covered on this presentation, no one is left out and, for the first time in a long time, we actually got to see clips from several episodes, instead of the first couple of entries from the series. To top it off, we are facing a great amount of action here, with fiery arrows flying all over the place, a ship ramming another, action and adventure all in one single, master shot. But even if those elements weren’t part of this opening, we still wouldn’t been able to say that it wasn’t a good one, because it really knows when to push the limits and when it needs to slow down a bit and lets us taste the details (even if those were on for only a coupe of seconds, that’s a hard lesson they learned from their past experience). The tapestry is also given special attention and care here, appearing in multiple shots... man, I LOVE that. But I think that the thing that really sold me on the idea of watching this third season was the initial shot of those two monks opening a wooden door to the dark caves that were just behind it. That spells out “adventure” no matter how you look at it.

I guess that it is obvious to say that Season 3 was a breath of fresh air for me. Once again, I flew thru it in less than a week and I enjoyed the experience very much. The show used some silly tricks that I didn’t really appreciate (those guys trying to play a deadly game with the group were a bit pathetic in my opinion, but the show would do something amazing with them later on, so it was not that much of a big deal now that I think about it) but it kept it quality above average during its entire run time. I like how, for the first time in a LONG time, we actually got to met the characters on a more personal level (being able to actually met Rose’s hometown and relatives was a amazing detail that I didn’t actually expect) and thus, I really cared about them more than I did with anyone from either Redwall or Mattimeo. I also love the idea of having multiple foes to fight this time, instead of either Cluny or Slegar with Ironbeak... the idea works this time because the group fights these new enemies at the same time, instead of having one group taking charge of each of the “bad guys” (seriously, how many times am I going to have to go back to “Mattiemeo”?).

Another thing I really liked about this whole situation is that our two main villains actually interact on this, making for some great sub-plots. Not only Badrang and Clogg give their absolute best every time they have to share a common location, but it is also incredibly hilarious to see how they always try to sabotage or back-stab each other, usually creating ridiculously complicated and highly ineffective plots to get rid of the other one and rule Marshank at will. It is pretty cool to know that, when the action is not focused on our main characters, the show has something to offer... in fact, when everybody converges at said fort the results of the combined idiocy of these two would make for a strangely epic series finale.

There are some things that I don’t like, though. The character of Martin starts off really strong on the show, but, as the series progress, the attention is put almost exclusively on Rose. That wouldn’t be bad if played smoothly, but that sadly isn’t the case. Granted, Rose is a really interesting character (one of the most interesting ones to appear on this show) but the action and screentime should have been split a little more in between the main protagonists of this cartoon. I also find it kind of annoying that both Grumm and Pallum seem to be written out of some of the episodes (specially during the second part of the Season)... they do get some lines here and there, but their contribution seems less and less important as the series goes (this is especially true on Pallum’s side).

I’m also a little annoyed at the lack of care that is given to the character of Luke the Warrior. He appears on the intro (heck, he does it a few times during the entire sequence) and is directly responsible of the plot, by giving Martin his sword, but he’s never seen nor heard of again right after his job is done. I understand that the writers needed to cram a lot of stuff on a relatively short time-slot, but this was just lazy. Because, when we get down to it, what do we really know about that character? Not enough to fill up a napkin, that’s how much we know about him.

Now, I gotta admit that the “Fur and Freedom fighters” idea is one of the most clever, well-executed and even kind of epic that I have seen on this show. It is really obvious at first glance that a lot of love and care went into this particular part of the series. I like how for the first -and probably only- time on the program different people working towards a common goal have different approaches and even differences of opinions regarding how to achieve said goal. There’s no more “let’s all defend Redwall” or “do what Cluny says”, but instead we have people trying to attack and destroy Marshank to prevent more slavery from happening and the other group of slaves just trying to move on and leave the fort behind as a bad memory. The idea works so well because, as would later be implied, no side has the right angle nor the perfect solution... taking too much risks and being moved by sheer anger would only lead to tragedy, but avoid everything in its entirely would also lead to more unpleasant results. Heck, at the end only those who refused to take out the blindfold were the ones that ended up being killed or losing someone close to them. I find the message strong and the execution brilliant (and even a little moving).

All in all, I can’t really say that I liked every trick that this cartoon pulled off (the "recycled" models on Ballaw and Rowanoak were an unpleasant surprise) but it at least TRIED to do things right and, in that regard, Season 3 was a HUGE step in the right direction. It is a tremendous shame that the show had to die right after this new incarnation was done, but it at least went on a high note... and that’s something that not every cartoon can accomplish.



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IceDragon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And now I'm watching -and loving even more- Season 3 again. Huh Razz



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