The eighteenth and nineteenth episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “Let’s Build a Fort,” Junior wants his dad to help him build a fort, and in “Bacon & Ice Cream,” a new character joins the Veggie crew!
“Let’s Build a Fort”
It’s nice when an episode happens good. If you’re still watching this series, you’ve probably gotten used to its frenetic energy, which doesn’t always work, but when it does, it makes for good TV – er, Netflix. I think perhaps the writing is labored by the restrictive 11-minute runtime, so when they keep things simple, it works much more smoothly. “Let’s Build a Fort” is one such example.
As the title may suggest, Junior wants to build a fort – a proper one, not using “kid scissors and gluesticks” – with his dad, Captain Mike. Dad Asparagus is clearly meant to be a rolemodel for Junior, though he is mildly and interestingly flawed. When Junior and Laura ask him to join in their fun in their little cardboard fort, he initially protests, since he’s reading a book. The kids win him over, but he’s a little too big for the fort and it collapses, which is what inspires Junior to urge his dad to help him make a better one. Again, Mike gently puts him off, as it’s a big project, and he has something else to do: BOWLING. Like in the original series, Dad likes to bowl, and it’s at this point, Mr. Lunt shows up unexpectedly with a package containing Mike’s new bowling ball. (Mike: “You deliver packages, Mr. Lunt?” | Mr. Lunt: “I do in this episode.”)
Mike asks Junior for a raincheck and hurries off to his practice game with his team. Junior decides to ask Bob and Larry to help build his fort, since they made a great one with Mike earlier in the year. He heads off with Laura to their house. Bob declines, since he’s on Mike’s bowling team, but Larry is eager to offer his assistance. Laura is wonderfully skeptical of Larry’s skill, but they all end up getting too excited to care very much about logistics, and they create a spectacular fort that is round like a ball and perched on a pile of boxes. The trio plan to return the next day, after the glue has dried.
Meanwhile, Mike and Bob are disappointed to learn that their third teammate, Archibald, is busy with mayor duties and offers Madame Blueberry as his substitute, who has never bowled before. They don’t have a chance at winning anyway, with Ichabeezer’s (cheating) robot bowling ball, C.A.S.P.E.R. (Cybernetically Advanced Scientific Pin Eradication Robot). In any case, their big game is on the day Mike promised to help Junior build his fort, and so he hurriedly tells Junior the bad news and takes off. This is interesting dynamic for a parental figure in an educational kid’s show to have, since parents are usually practically perfect. Mikes loves Junior, of course, but as a individual, he has his own wants, and in this case, he let them take precedent over his son. He realizes the error of his ways when he can’t enjoy the bowling game (that Ichabeezer is
cheating winning at) because he knows he should be with Junior.
Both stories literally come together when Junior’s new fort loses its base and begins rolling destructively toward town, with Junior, Laura, and Larry trapped inside. Mike takes C.A.S.P.E.R. and with a great amount of innate skill, flies around the ball fort, trying to get it to slow down. They bounce around for awhile and somehow end up on the ceiling fan (proof that these tiny Veggies can interact with the “big” areas of the house). Mike rescues Laura, Larry falls out onto the fan cord, causing it to start spinning, and Mike saves Junior before he goes flying (“Junior, give me your hand!”). Junior apologizes for letting his fort get out of hand, but Mike admits it was his fault for not taking the time to help him build it properly.
Scene cut to Mike and Junior near a whole pile of boxes, ready to start their awesome – and awesomely safe – fort. It’s Bob who wanders by and wonders where Larry is? (Still stuck on the ceiling fan!)
“Bacon & Ice Cream”
Oh, Bacon Bill. So hyped and so . . . hyper.
This episode starts off with Larry helping Petunia with selling ice cream (or just giving it away, it’s hard to tell). She informs him that she’s supposed to help Pa with the store all day tomorrow and that she wants him to be in charge of the ice cream cart. Larry is ecstatic about this, though Petunia rather forcibly has to remind him that it’s only temporary. Regardless, Larry rushes to Pa’s store to tell the good news to Bob, who is working as a greeter again in a nice bit of continuity. Also in the store is a newcomer to the Veggie town: Bacon Bill.
This “meat” character (voiced by Rob Paulsen) is hyperactivity turned up to eleven and quite frankly, is pretty annoying, though probably appealing to younger kids. He’s actually a rocket scientist, believe it or not, and talks about his rockets and space and the moon and cabbages and cheese and – well, he likes to talk. Surprisingly, Larry is pretty rude to him, which is a little out of character, though the justification is that he is more focused on being in charge of the ice cream cart than anything else. Pa tells Larry to let Bill help him sell ice cream tomorrow, which Larry doesn’t want to do but has no choice.
The next day, Bill is (literally) bouncing off the walls with excitement, putting him at odds with this strangely serious Larry, who just wants to sell ice cream. There’s no real reason why Larry doesn’t want Bill’s help, especially when he sings a fun little song about being an ice cream seller and doesn’t seem to mind Bill singing along. But every time Bill tries to hand out cones to the crowd (where there is a hilariously random Christopher Walken-esque Veggie), Larry stops him. This conflict results in the cart being dislodged from its brakes, and it rolls down the hill into a fountain. Larry snaps and yells at Bill for ruining everything, and Bill cries and runs away. You’re probably supposed to feel sorry for him, but he’s more childish than childlike, and well . . . it really doesn’t work.
The whole episode is about treating others with patience and tolerance, and I think it would work better if it was with an established character instead of Bill – or really, anyone except Larry with Bill, since we know he’s not going to learn from this lesson. Silliness is Larry’s forte, and Bill seems to be nothing but a copycat usurper. Bill says something about wanting Larry to be his big brother, which also falls flat because there’s nothing prior that suggests he wanted Larry to be that kind of rolemodel, nor did Larry agree to take on that role (which he does point out).
In any case, Larry feels bad about hurting Bill’s feelings, so he, Bob, and Petunia chase after him to Ichabeezer’s house, where he’s singing on the roof. Larry manages to coax him down with a game of hide-and-seek, and they rejoin Pa at the store, now bosom friends. Pa says that he knew the two would get along – and he’s absolutely right, which is why that instant conflict at the beginning feels so weird.
We’ll be seeing more of Bacon Bill in the future, though he’ll hopefully have a better role than simply “Larry, Jr.”
Quick aside: For anybody keeping count, Bill makes three regulars for Rob (along with Ichabeezer and Captain Mike), nearly tying him with Tress MacNeille, who has four (Junior, Laura, Petunia, and Madame Blueberry). Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki still lead the pack with . . . every other character.
What about you? How do you help your children learn about patience and tolerance? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: VeggieTales in the House from Big Idea Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Television, and Bardel Entertainment