The sixteenth and seventeenth episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “A Gift for Singing,” Pa wants Madame Blueberry to sing a jingle for his store, and in “Lie-Monade,” Larry starts a lemonade stand.
“A Gift for Singing”
I’ve talked before about how VeggieTales in the House tends to be relatively inconsistent; some episodes are pretty strong and focused, and others just miss the mark entirely, either because of too much silliness or too much story. “A Gift for Singing” is unfortunately one of the latter.
Right at the start, there’s an awkward, rapid-pace opening to set up the multiple plotlines: Bob accidentally breaks Petunia’s favorite flower teapot and doesn’t want to tell her, Larry is jealous of Laura selling juice pops better than he can, and Pa Grape commissions Madame Blueberry to sing a jingle for his store, which Ichabeezer is strangely upset about. This all happens within a span of a few minutes, making it difficult to understand what’s exactly going on.
The actual main story is Madame Blueberry being jealous of Petunia for her singing abilities. Petunia asks Madame for lessons, which Madame quickly realizes Petunia doesn’t need. Which is weird in a meta sense, because both Veggies are voiced by Tress MacNeille, so she’s basically jealous of herself!
Meanwhile, Ichabeezer for some reason wants to sing Pa’s new jingle, though about its shortcomings, rather than to promote it. He laughs maniacally about it while making his preparations.
There’s a couple scenes with Bob trying to repair the broken teapot and having to resort to asking Pa if his store has any similar ones. (Pa: “Nope, I don’t have any broken teapots for sale.”) Bob clarifies his request and after buying a whole new one, goes home to re-pot the flower inside.
Larry then confronts Pa about Laura selling juice pops when that’s supposed to be “his thing.” Pa points out that it’s something little kids do to earn pocket money, not for grown Veggies like Larry. He also says that being happy for someone else’s success doesn’t have to take joy away from you but can actually add to it. This is a really great theme / lesson, and it’s a shame it’s so obscured by this mess of an episode.
Madame Blueberry feels that she shouldn’t be the one to sing Pa’s new jingle, as Petunia is a much better singer than she is. Ichabeezer overhears her quandary and evilly suggests sabotaging Petunia with “bark tea,” which will dry her throat and leave her unable to sing.
This whole thing is confusing for multiple reasons. First, Madame Blueberry is a great singer, as outright stated by other Veggies and also shown in previous episodes. She admits that her specialty is not in commercial tunes, but blues (understandably so), and Ichabeezer even agrees with that, but her being jealous suggests she can’t sing at all. Second, Madame Blueberry wasn’t actually replaced by Petunia, and no one even knows Petunia can sing, so Madame has no reason to sabotage her or even tell anybody about her misgivings. As far as Pa and the other Veggies know, Madame will write and sing a great jingle for his store, and Petunia doesn’t enter the picture at all. Yet Ichabeezer manages to convince her that Petunia is an actual problem.
While all this is going on, Larry is unsuccessful at getting anyone to buy his juice pops (Laura oddly doesn’t react to any of his antics), and Bob confesses to Petunia that he broke her teapot and had to replace it. She appreciates the gesture but tells him that it was the flower inside that was her favorite, not the pot. Bob is both stunned and relieved.
When it’s time for Madame to sing her jingle, she correctly decides not to do anything to Petunia, repeating what Pa said to Larry earlier about being happy for other people’s talents. Ichabeezer takes advantage of her delay to sing his own terrible song about how bad Pa’s store is. Madame manages to get him to stop, then invites Petunia to sing the proper jingle instead, which of course she does perfectly. Everyone is happy, and Larry ends up accepting Laura’s success and buys a juice pop from her.
This . . . is a convoluted plot at best. There is enough material here for a whole other episode, and so it feels cramped and messy. I really don’t know what the point of Bob’s story was, and Larry’s was only made slightly relevant by his altercations with Laura. The point of Ichabeezer’s character is to be the antagonist to whomever the main Veggie is for the episode, but he was particularly and rather unnecessarily evil this time, though he does get his comeuppance in the end. In any case, for future rewatches, “A Gift for Singing” would be one I’d skip.
Ah, now this is more like it. “Lie-Monade” is still pretty fast-paced, but the focus stays on Larry the entire time and is thus much stronger for it.
The episode starts off with the Veggies fawning over the latest video game, Baseball 3 Billion. Everyone starts talking about how it’s the best game ever, but when Laura asks Larry how often he plays it, Larry doesn’t lie but actually admits he doesn’t own it. Jimmy calls him an outsider for being the only Veggie without the game, and they all leave. Larry feels sad that he did the right thing and told the truth but still ended up feeling left out.
He rushes home to ask Bob about buying Baseball 3 Billion, pitching it as the only game where you “destroy robot zombie baseball-playing trout.” Bob (sans his own storyline, is the wise mentor for Larry here) has to remind him that they don’t have any money for video games. Bob suggests that they build a fort together, as that’s something they can afford. (It’s actually kind of sad how poor Bob and Larry are.) Larry turns down the offer and decides to try selling lemonade to raise the money he needs.
This venture proves to be largely unsuccessful, with Larry selling only one (pity) glass of lemonade and hilariously forgetting what he was selling by the end. He figures he has to prove that his lemonade is worth buying and so the next day, he decides to go the ol’ 1920s barker route, even sporting a straw hat and cane to appeal to the masses.
Larry is actually a fantastic salesman, and the song he sings to sell his “Lemonade Plus” is super catchy (showcasing Mike Nawrocki’s incredible voice talents). All the Veggies scramble to buy this magical drink that promises to do whatever it is they want. By the end of the day, he has enough money to buy the game and does so from Pa’s store. While ringing up the purchase, Pa asks Larry if his lemonade really does all the things he promised. Larry insists that he didn’t promise anything, just told less of the truth. Pa points out that it doesn’t sound any different from a lie and leaves at that, though he gives Larry a receipt in case he wants to return the game.
Larry goes home to play it, but he isn’t very happy, as now he’s starting to feel guilty about selling his “lie-monade” (title drop!) to everyone. Bob, though looking very cute carrying a little cardboard box for their fort, lays it on a little thick when he informs Larry that his dissatisfaction with the game is derived from lying to all their friends.
Since he doesn’t want to return the game, Larry decides to invite the people he tricked over to play it, so “everybody wins.” Bob is uncertain about this but agrees to help. Of course by now, everyone has figured out that “Lemonade Plus” – or rather, “Lie-Monade” – was a scam, and no one wants to play with Larry, not even Mr. Lunt (“You’re a bad influence on my otherwise-sterling character.”).
Larry now fully regrets his actions and after returning the game, sets up a new sales stand – this time, to admit what he did and return everyone’s money. He sings about how he shouldn’t’ve lied, since the best thing to do is tell the truth so your heart can be at rest, quoting Colossians 3:9:
“Do not lie to each other.”
My favorite lyric from Larry’s song is that there is no such thing as “little” lies. All lies are simply that, and anyone can be hurt by them. The good lesson is partly why this is a strong episode, but again, it’s because there was one main plot (the B-plot, by the way, was Ichabeezer’s unsuccessful attempts to steal Larry’s lemonade recipe and has very little relevance to everything else going on). By staying focused on Larry, the other characters can fully react to his actions, rather than being distracted by their own stories.
And I also just really love Larry in that adorable straw hat.
What about you? How do you help your children learn to appreciate other people’s talents, and about lying? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: VeggieTales in the House from Big Idea Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Television, and Bardel Entertainment