Monday, July 08, 2013

Dennis (The Menace) & Gnasher S2 Episode 1 Review 2013

Dennis (The Menace) & Gnasher Episode One Review 2013
~This article will also talk about the comic that stands beside the series 

I have previously written a few articles based around the evolution of Dennis the Menace. One in 2009 explaining the characters developments up until now.

Well things have changed once again in the mighty year of 2013, (Well maybe a bit earlier but I'll talk about that in a bit)
In the previous article I mentioned how Dennis' look had changed through the years. It was always a constant that he should remain a child with childish wants and feelings.
"As the eighties progressed, Sutherland's Dennis began to take on a life of his own. He became taller and stockier, his nose more bulbous and his chin ever broader. As the nineties dawned, Dennis was looking like a thuggish teenager, some way from the cheeky, if surly, youth Law had created and nurtured. In 1993, editor Euan Kerr stepped in. As he later explained to me:
"It was felt that Dennis had become just a bit too elongated and consequently older than he should be. A more active look was also sought for. Another reason behind the change was to make him easier to animate for the Beano Video which was then being planned. ... To be honest, the artist probably went a little too far and made Dennis too young and cute. However, some readjustment [was] made, and we feel he is now just about right.""
This is obviously an old quote and one about 'The Beano' comics, the still weekly home of Dennis and Gnasher. It also referred to the first animated cartoons of The Beano characters in Beano Allstars. The point was that the aim was to always keep Dennis as a child, with a childish spirit. 
Let's all admit Dennis has never really had the typical 'child' look...
After this came the 1996 TV series, 'Dennis the MENACE'. Unsurprisingly Dennis had his 90's design (and he was a menace)  Image to the right >
90's Dennis from The Beano

So in 2009 the 90's figure of Dennis the Menace, this reckless hooligan kid who, every week ruined peoples lives was watered down to become 'Dennis'. This happened both in comic form and in his 2009 Animated series. 
His look changed, he gained individual eyes and mouth and his personality was that of a kid just wanting to have fun. Rather than deliberately causing havoc, he'd cause it accidentally trying to help someone. Actually most of the time 'Walter (used be the Softy) was tricking Dennis. 
Sophie Aldred, (Ace from Doctor Who) did the voice of Dennis. Personally I think it was fine, a great casting choice, great performer and sounded perfect for Dennis in this series.
"We chose to alter Dennis’s character to give him a wider appeal.
With plans to air the Dennis animated series in new territories (for him), it was felt we could maximize his appeal by giving him a broader character."
- Alan Digby 

2009 Dennis from Animated Series, 'Dennis and Gnasher'

As you can see, Dennis had a much more friendly, child-like look as well. This series apparently went down very well with audiences and critics and got good ratings.
The problem for me with that series was only this, the writing. The first series was mostly a bore for me unfortunately. I used to tune in just for the animation, just to see Dennis in motion. And see the cool intro.
Some of the themes, activities and friendships were brilliant. But nothing ever felt FUN or, realistic. (I only say I want it to be realistic because I could not relate to it. The world was not believable enough and the personalities not interesting enough.)
I know what you're thinking, "It's a cartoon! It's all pretend! ALSO, it's for kids! Not 23 year olds!"
But I can back this up with the fact that I was and still am emotionally attached to every Mike Pearse Beano special comic back in the day. All of the comedy and strong character personalities.

I am also emotional attached to the new Dennis and Gnasher comics from the Beano. The 2013 ones. These weekly Dennis comics are written by Nigel Auchterlounie (What a name) and Nigel Parkinson (One of the hardest working comic artists alive since I was born). The comics are both funny and mostly have good story lines. It also seems very important to the creators now that Dennis DOES act and talk like a kid.
There is no doubt reading the weekly strips that Dennis is a child, not wanting to go to school, do his homework, have fun. And because he is a menace again, he'll do ANYTHING to get what he wants. But not in an evil demon-like fashion. In the way a sneaky, but clever kid might get around it. And he talks like a kid, everything he says, and it is funny. As well as the new parents. The only lacking I can see at the moment is Bea, hopefully she'll shine in the TV show.
This picture kind of says it all, in true Calvin and Hobbes fashion.

So if the comics could do it, the TV show should be able to do it even better right? Let us see.......

So Series 2, episode 1 broadcast today and this brings me onto 2013, the year of the menace.
It looks like a lot is going on around this new series. The Beano has scrapped 'The Beano Max' monthly comic magazine to release this alongside the TV show.

It honestly only just occurred to me the connection between this new MEGAzine and the new series...

See I was mostly looking forward to this new magazine due to the fact that the Dennis and Gnasher comics have recently been so good.
The announcement of this had me in HOPE that the series would reflect it's recent, dialogue driven comics.

Just before I move onto the review itself I'd like to mention that strange occurrence of Dennis looking different everywhere.
The 2013 TV series has changed the design of Dennis' parents to fit the comic strip and so when the comics changed Dennis' design back to the 90's style Dennis (As shown above) I thought they might change the TV show's style as well. As it happens I am happy they did not but it MIGHT be strange for people that Dennis looks one way in the series and looks different in the comics.
But I am very happy it is this way. Nigel Parkinson's Dennis looks super and always has done and the TV show one also looks pretty great.
Den's hair looks awesome in the show with it's curved edges.
If you'd like to read about crazy mental new parents designs and all of the plot holes that surround it please go ahead to this link. 

'Dirty Deeds' The Review

The Script:
I just finished watching the first episode of 'Dennis (The Menace) and Gnasher series 2. One thing I was hoping for when it came to this series was some really interesting scripts and great character dialogue. (Similar to the recent Dennis strips)

In this episode Dennis is shown with his pals, Pie Face and Curly in Den's tree house. Walter soon comes along and they show him some full on menacing with home alone traps and gadgets set up all around the tree house. It is safe to say Walter got 'Menaced'.
Walter wants to get his own back and so sidetracks the gang using his underpants and a girl (Will need to watch this again I think) while Walter gets the deed to the tree-house and makes it his own.
Dennis and the gang come back, notice this and then with the help of Gnasher they gain the tree-house back and all is well!
That was the story, it's foolproof and I think if there was more time it could have been stretched out quite well. But there WERE some problems with this episode on a first viewing.
I know they wanted to go crazy on the menacing aspect, proving Dennis still has the menacing skills that were once taken away from him. But this episode was way too busy for 15 minutes. It was mostly menacing with tiny in between bits of plot. The first series, even though sometimes it was a bore, still had a dialogue based build up before the story goes somewhere and then concludes.
This episode had too many things to notice as a first episode, new voices, new animation, new characters. It was action all of the way through without a breath. I'm sure the rest of the series will expand on Dennis and his parents new personalities but in this case there was no room for them. Everyone was pushed aside for loads of action.
The episode was fun though and the story did make sense (Although I'll have to rewatch the whole underpants thing, why did Angel Face have Walter's underpants? O..kay)
I was looking for fun and more menacing with this series and I've got it, but I want the menacing to work with the personalities and stories and want a good pace.
It was entertaining but just too fast. I look forward to seeing more though and the expanding of characters personalities.

Pie Face was funny

The Voices:
The voices!
Whoa there is the big one. Well first off, it seemed a bit weird that the title sequence was the same as the previous series when the animation was so different but I guess that is for the animation section. Believe it or not, Dennis was my favorite voice in this episode.
I loved Sophie Aldred but with all of these series changes it was okay to bring in a new voice. When I first heard Chris' new interpretation of Dennis I just thought of it as a slightly more grown up Sophie Aldred. Which is good, it meant it sat comfortably with me.
There was some things that were a bit off putting in this episode, some of the animation, the speed of it all but Dennis' voice was always a constant joy. He was always excited and it fitted him perfectly, this is the voice I hear when I read the comics.

Onto the other voices...
Pie face was great, I'm not sure whether he is the same voice as the last series but still great. The character was brilliant as well, I think he had a bird on his head at one point pecking him, that's my kinda lol stuff ya know? ahem...
Is Curly scottish now? Sorry, I am bad with accents. I maybe so wrong there but at first his accent was like "Whoa, that was an unexpected change, that was not needed".... but eventually I liked it and I'm happy to hear more of Curly and his new voice!

Walter's new voice is okay, comparing it to the previous versions I don't like it as much. But it was okay,  nothing too spectacular (Apologies to voice actors)

Den's dad was a bit of a disappointment for me unfortunately. It is going to be purely personal but the voice that was recorded was not the voice I have in my head when I read the comics. I have a more dopey deeper voice in my mind. But that is just me. Also the Dad did not seem to come off as well as Nigel Parkinson's drawings, his belly was not quite big enough....

Angel Face's voice was good but I cannot recall Den's mum as she did not really appear.

The Animation:
Well the series has a whole new look! The first series had a very traditional look, frame by frame art work and all very beautiful. I would tune in for just the animation.
But as an animator I was personally surprised that the animation studio managed to produce 52 short episodes in this beautiful frame by frame style.

So when this new series trailer came out with it's very digital puppet like tween animation I was... not surprised. This sort of animation will go down okay and take a lot less time to work on. So if they are doing 52 animated episodes for this series, this style is most likely the best choice for speed and cost.

The new animation is mostly reusing already drawn parts of characters bodies like arms, legs and eyes and moving them around instead of redrawing whole body movements.
You see this look in a lot of kids cartoons and online webtoons. It is absolutely fine to work with but was a bit distracting on my first viewing (kind of not in a good way but I don't mind). I'm also certain that some kids will notice this big change as well. As mentioned above it was weird the titles were the old traditional look.
But saying that, most of the action stuff was animated drawing by drawing of course and I personally loved Gnashers animations. He was a very convincing dog.

That is about it, really. It was a bit of surprising shock, in both good and bad ways for me. But a second viewing may change my opinion and I hope future episodes will dive deeper into this 15 minute world.
I'm looking forward to what gets dished out next.

- The Daily Crumb


To be fair, here are my online comments about Episode 2: Last Day of Summer, broadcasting on the 9th of July.

"Really enjoyed today's Dennis the Menace, the second episode had a way better pace than the first ep and great dialogue"
"Bea played a huge part in both this episode and the development of Dennis, Gnasher and his parents. She was so important and I loved that."
" If i wrote a review of ep2 i'd say one of the best episodes since 2009!"

Go and support my own comic strip! Tomothy and Pals!
LIKE my Facebook page! Or go and check some of the strips and character bios out here! I'm working on a book so need all of the support I can get!

Go and check out the makers of Dennis (The Menace) and Gnasher 

Comic and Creators
Editors and Voice recording
Dennis voice

PS: why redo the theme song?
PSPS: where were Roger, Minnie, Les Pretend and The Bash Street Kids? :D

1 comment:

  1. Why redo the theme song? Because Dennis is the singer!