Animated Shorts: Tinkerbell's Chance to Shine
by Steve Fritz
Date: 05 November 2008 Time: 08:00 AM ET
Animated Shorts: Tinkerbell & More
One guesses that being a princess just isn’t good enough anymore.As of last week, Disney released the first of a series of direct-to-DVDs featuring the other Mouse Works logo, Tinkerbell. Not that we should really be surprised. On TV, the Mouse kept kids enthralled at his Club, while Tink welcomed us to the Magic Kingdom for the last half century (since 1954). Yes her jealousy and temper nearly got the Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys killed at one point or another. At the same time, she was a sexy little ingénue, a bit of a flirt and had a kind heart. She certainly didn’t wait around for Pan or some prince charming.
So the powers that be at Disney now feel that while their various Princesses probably appeal more to older girls, their younger sisters would be more attracted to fairies. An important marketing point is for kids, this also means boys, to be able to go online and become one of the elfin folk themselves. Why they even provide the URL’s needed to do this. All the better to target future marketing campaigns that way. The big question really is will Tinkerbell and her clan of sprites be able to compete with the likes of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Jasmine? The answer comes to a statement Disney’s creative czar John Lasseter gave Newsarama just about a year ago. Is this D2D the type of thing fans will watch 1,000 times? First things first, the creative team behind this series did give Tink and her fairy friends a potentially rich world to live in. Set before the time of Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys, the island the Fairies inhabit is divided into various groups based on their inborn skills. The basic skill is to improve on whatever nature has provided. There are those that prepare the flowers and trees to bloom as brightly as possible, those that cause sunny breezes, others who put the dots on ladybugs. You get the idea. Their favorite season, which they have an apparently heavy hand in, is Spring. Without them, summer and fall would be a disaster. Tink’s actually name is “Bell.” She belongs to the Tinker group (oddly enough, this is lifted straight from the original source J.M. Barrie). They create and repair the various devices the other fairies utilize to help perform their magic. The problem with this little fairy is she has a habit of creating new devices that usually end up raising havoc instead of aiding and abetting the fairy’s cause. When one of her ideas threatens that year’s Spring from potentially happen, things look pretty gloomy for the next year. The big problem here is the character of Bell herself. She’s probably a bit too headstrong and rash to truly be a likeable character. She doesn’t listen to her elders at all and her constant search to find herself make one want to trap her in a bottle until she learns a lesson. Of course, we eventually learn she’s a “special” fairy and all things go right with the world, but this wouldn’t be a DVD for the pre-school bracket if it wasn’t, would it? The animation itself is the expected soft, round and highly colorful type of CGI one should also expect from a DVD like this. On the plus side, one has to admit Disney didn’t chintz out on this. Neverland never looked so lush and fertile. The various other types of fairies and creatures that populate the island harken back to Disney’s work post-World War II to Sleeping Beauty. The problem is the story does, too. The problem is that period also had its share of dark tones, which Tinkerbell absolutely doesn’t. There is no character like Malificence or Cinderella’s stepsisters. Without those dark shades you get blinded by all the pastels, and Tink becomes all the more simply annoying in the process. The extra content includes a full map of the world, not to forget various other aspects of fairy life. It also includes the expected theme-oriented games and a way to have your kid sign up into an entire online virtual world Disney has created so your kid can role play being fairies. This is sad, especially as Disney has a number of other DVDs in the works, not to forget a gaming environment and all forms of merchandising behind this project. Honestly, one doesn’t see the kids, much less their parents, wanting to watch this DVD Lasseter’s mandated 1,000 times, much less twice. About the only way one sees this new project lasting is to hope later chapters in this tale of Tinkerbell has a lot more drama to them. After all, most of the various Princesses faced life threatening situations before they had their Happy Ever After. It would have been sweet if Tink’s main nemesis was that notorious cur Captain Hook. As it stands, there is one small cameo of another Barrie character, but it leaves one wondering why the creators chose her over everyone else possible. And yes, it is important for kids to role play. The question really is, would you want your young girl to be a fairy or a princess? I’d personally move for the latter. ADULT SWIM CASTING FOR CARL Just in from Cartoon Network: “Adult Swim encourages all Carl look-alikes to participate in an online casting call that starts, Monday, Nov. 3 at adultswim.com. This is a chance for fans to show off their acting skills and to bring Carl’s crudeness to life. Being like Carl might not even be an act for some, and hey, that’s perfectly acceptable. The best performance will earn someone the opportunity to star as the Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s hairy-chested neighbor in an upcoming live-action episode of the series. Anyone who behaves, reasons or even sweats like Carl should go to Justbecarl.adultswim.com and submit a video of themselves portraying the crass slob who loves sports and classic rock. It would also help to be bald, have a mustache and to wear a grimy white tank top with sweat pants and flip-flops. Online submissions will be accepted until December 1. The best portrayal of Carl will be decided by ATHF show creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. All auditions will be available for view online, so participants will be able to check out the competition. A live-action episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force starring real life versions of the animated characters is slated to air in 2009. It’s still one of Adult Swim’s most popular original series that follows the strange everyday lives of three human-sized food products who live in New Jersey. Their next-door neighbor is Carl, a simple man who’s endearingly sweaty, hairy, lewd, fashion-challenged and oftentimes annoying. It debuted in 2001 and is Adult Swim’s longest running show. Casting open at: http://www.adultswim.com/promos/carlcasting/index.html In related news, Bandai Entertainment announced Code Geass R2 will move to 2:00 am on Adult Swim starting November 8 with a rebroadcast of the first episode “The Day the Demon Awakens” which premiered last Saturday. Subsequent episodes will air at 2:00 am each week. FUNIMATION WANTS YOUR OPINION FUNimation Entertainment has begun production on the anime comedy Sgt. Frog. Before it proceeds further, the distributor wants to offer fans the opportunity to share their opinions. They’ve posted a test episode on the FUNimation channel on YouTube. They want you to watch it and let them know what you think. The URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ5mQPVQmZ8 The series follows the attempts of frog-like alien invaders to conquer Earth. Sergeant Keroro is the leader of the platoon which botches its attempt at world domination and is left behind in our hostile world! Then Sgt. Keroro falls into the hands of a human family ... NEXT COLUMN: We interview Madagascar 2 directors Erik Darnell and Tom McGrath.