The twelfth and thirteenth episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “Larry’s Cardboard Thumb,” Larry tries to take care of Petunia’s plants, and in “The Gong Heard ‘Round the House,” the Veggies must name the new generosity shelter.
“Larry’s Cardboard Thumb”
Bob plays an interesting double role in VeggieTales in the House. Most of the time, he’s the “sane man,” the one who points out the flaws in Larry’s wild plans, reminds others of their duty, and sometimes even acts as a mentor (when Pa’s not around). But other times, as we’ve seen in quite a few episodes, he can just as selfish and obsessive as the other Veggies (besides Pa). Petunia is rather like this, too, where she’s usually the most level-headed but also can make mistakes (see “Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot!”). This doesn’t necessarily make for bad characterization, but I can’t tell if it’s meant to show Bob as a more complex character – as opposed to Larry, who is always silly – or if it simply depends on the whims of the writer in terms of Bob’s role in an episode. “Larry’s Cardboard Thumb,” for example, focuses almost entirely on Larry, so Bob is calm, collected, and wise, which slightly contradicts a few of his other appearances. I’ll talk more about this later.
In this episode, Bob had offered to take care of Petunia’s plants for her while she helps Pa set up for a flower contest. Larry thinks this sounds like fun, so when Petunia stops by to pick up Bob, Larry offers his assistance instead (“”Bob may have a green thumb, but look at me, I’m all green!”). Petunia accepts, and Bob (surprisingly?) doesn’t put up a fight about it but merely asks if Larry needs any advice. Larry turns him down and goes off to with Petunia to her greenhouse. As might be expected, as soon as she leaves, Larry manages to destroy everything. To his credit, he kinda knows what to do in terms of basic plant care, knowing they need water and sun. But using a magnifying glass was probably not the best way to do it.
Panicking, Larry sees a bag that he thinks says, “Super Fast Growing Seeds” (how convenient!), but after spreading the contents everywhere, he realizes it actually says, “Weeds.” With weeds everywhere and all the plants burnt, even Petunia’s contest daisy, Larry resorts to drastic measures: he goes home and constructs a perfect replica daisy out of cardboard (from a box he’d been playing with at the start of the episode). He rushes off to Pa’s store to give it to Petunia, who shows it off for the contest – only to have it wilt immediately when she tries to give it water.
Everyone is angry at the fake flower entry, but Larry speaks up at last to admit his mistakes (the theme for this episode!), namely that he isn’t actually a good gardener like he proclaimed and that he killed Petunia’s real daisy. Bob suddenly comes on stage and reveals his own daisy – or rather, Petunia’s. Bob had apparently stopped by the greenhouse to check on Larry, only to see him nearly being eaten by a Venus flytrap. So he switched his daisy for Petunia’s and . . . went back home?? I mean, it was nice of Bob to save Petunia’s daisy, but why didn’t he stay to help Larry? Clearly, things were nearing a disaster, but perhaps he thought Larry needed to learn a little lesson. It’s hard to say, but in any case, Petunia thanks Bob and forgives Larry – though a little prematurely, because she sounds pretty angry when she gets home to see that all her plants are now gone.
“The Gong Heard ‘Round the House”
This episode starts off in medias res, which means it skipped over any boring bits and went straight to Mayor Archibald and Ichabeezer about to have a monster truck race. Both want to have their name featured for the new generosity shelter. (Quick aside: It’s interesting that the Veggies would even need something like this, given how small and communal the town is. Are there homeless Veggies?) Bob expresses how silly this race is, and Larry points out that he’s holding a clipboard with no hands. This exchange could probably represent the series as a whole, to be honest!
The race ends in a tie, and Archie ultimately decides that the shelter shall be named after the most generous person in town. Bob believes that he’s the obvious choice but isn’t sure how to prove it. Meanwhile, behind him, we can see Laura happily sweeping the street. Really makes you wonder who will be picked, huh?
Back at home, Bob helps Larry unstick his two gum-covered game controllers and smugly touts his helpfulness, only to realize that people won’t know if he’s generous if they can’t see it. He decided to actively advertise it, using Larry’s gong that he either bought or found in a dumpster, he can’t remember. (There’s actually quite a few very funny lines like this throughout the episode.) Bob takes the gong to the center of town, helps Pa wipe a window, then bangs the gong to announce what he’s done.
The other Veggies realize that Bob is on to something, since they all want to prove their generosity and get their name on the shelter. Pa tries to remind Bob of what true generosity is about, but Bob is too distracted by everyone else using tubas, trumpets, and other instruments to proclaim their “good deeds.” Ichabeezer decides to not even bother helping at all but to write a song and sing his own praises. With all the Veggies running around being “helpful” (ultimately doing more harm than good), Bob becomes discouraged. And here again is a different Bob than the one from the previous episode. Here, he’s let his obsessive, perfectionist nature get the best of him, causing him to be selfish and inconsiderate. Pa reminds him of that fact when Bob tries to buy a soda at the store. He quotes Matthew 6:2:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets.”
(This is obviously perfect for the current situation.) Bob isn’t sure he understands until Laura gives him the money to pay for his soda, since he left his wallet at home, and she doesn’t expect anything in return. Pa points out that’s what true generosity looks like (theme!). Back outside, Ichabeezer has gotten entirely carried away, ordering a giant boom box placed in the center of the town to broadcast his horribly discordant singing (if you know what musical talents Paulsen actually has, it’s even funnier what an absolutely terrible singer Ichabeezer is). The noise knocks over the shelter entirely, which sharply makes everyone come to their senses about how selfish they’ve been in proving their generosity. They decide to right this wrong, and all the Veggies help pull the shelter building upright again with ropes and monster trucks. Though now the lesson has been learned, Archie realizes they still don’t have a name for it. No one feels they deserve it, with Jimmy saying it definitely shouldn’t be called, “The Jimmy and Jerry Shelter of Jimmy and Jerry’s Generous Generosity, and also Hot Dog and Donut Stand Brought To You By, Yep, You Guessed It, Jimmy and Jerry. And in addition, The Super Monster Truck Covered in Caramel Sauce and Sprinkles Shelter, For the Benefit of All Mankind to Eat More Snacks, Like Beef Jerky, Assorted Nuts, Monkey Bread, and Happiness Shelter, Without Forgetting About Playing with Lots of Action Figures, Collecting Stamps, Whatever They Are, and Loving Your Mom and Dad and Stuff Shelter.”
Throughout the episode, you can see Laura quietly in the background, opening doors open for people, picking up trash, and other deeds. Bob (subtly urged by Pa in the previous scene) recognizes that only Laura has been truly generous and asks her what the shelter should be called.
“The Everybody in Town Shelter!” she says – a bit wordy, perhaps, but full of sentiment. It’s interesting though that it’s not outright stated that Laura was the most selflessly generous. It’s implied by Bob and Pa, but it’s not specifically acknowledged as such, which I suppose is the point, but I would’ve liked for Laura to have more directly been . . . maybe not rewarded, but at least thanked for all her contributions.
What about you? How do you help your children understand that it’s okay to admit their mistakes and about how to be generous? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: VeggieTales in the House from Big Idea Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Television, and Bardel Entertainment