The 24th and 25th episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “The Rich Young Comic Ruler,” Larry wants to own every comic book in the world, and in “Popcorntastrophe,” the kitchen gets flooded with popcorn!
“The Rich Young Comic Ruler”
One of the biggest differences between VeggieTales in the House and the original videos is that the explanation of the moral is presented differently. In the old series, the show was presented as a series of sketches, and Bob and Larry would discuss the connecting moral of the sketches at the end, usually tying it up with a Bible verse. (I’m referring to the shows pre-Jonah – I know some of the more recent ones have featured full self-contained stories.) House doesn’t really do this; as per most modern edutainment series, the lesson is discussed in-character by the characters themselves. Sometimes, the moral is more implied than anything, but other times, it’s just said outright. In the same vein, sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. These two episodes decide to go the more obvious route, which I think is the best approach, at least for this show.
“The Rich Young Comic Ruler” starts off with Larry and Bob at Pa’s store, grocery shopping. Larry rushes around, because he wants to buy a new comic book. Unfortunately, the only ones Pa has are of the distinctly educational and boring variety, which gives Larry the idea to ask Mayor Archibald if comic books could be able available at the library. Luckily, Archie happens to also be doing his shopping and thinks it’s a great idea – but there’s not enough money in the budget to buy any comics. He not-so-subtly hints that Larry should ask Ichabeezer for a sizable donation.
Ichabeezer unsurprisingly refuses, saying the only books he likes are instruction manuals. Larry follows him home in order to convince him, even telling him the story of the Rich Young Ruler, a story about a rich man who was told to give his possessions to the poor. (It’s not referenced as such, but this is the story of the rich young man found in Matthew 19:20-22.) Larry also sings a kind of mean, albeit silly song about Ichabeezer being ridiculously rich and stingy, hence why he should make a library donation. To no one’s surprise except Larry’s, Ichabeezer still refuses to support the comics idea, saying that he learned the importance of giving resources to the needy, “not giving comic books to the Larrys.”
Meanwhile, the French Peas had overheard Larry’s plea to Ichabeezer outside Pa’s store and decide to make their own comic book. It’s a relatively pointless sideplot filled with slapstick gags involving the French Peas’ cousins, Tiny Pea and Gigantic Pea (who is voiced by newcomer Kel Mitchell). Despite their names, they are more artistically inclined than either Jean-Claude or Philippe, and so they begin work on the comic.
Back at Bob and Larry’s house, Larry gets the idea to simply write to all the comic book publishers and ask for every comic ever made. Bob thinks it won’t work (no kidding), but sure enough, the doorbell rings and Larry opens it to see a wagon full of comic books.
Bob notes that the stack seems to be a bit small for EVERY! COMIC! EVER! MADE!, but Larry is too excited to pay attention, and he heads straight off toward the library to donate them. On the way, however, he gets hit with a wave of greed – he is, after all, in possession of every comic ever made, why shouldn’t he just keep them? Larry somehow gets himself and the wagon on top of one of the kitchen chairs, where he can hide the comics. Bob goes to town to check with Archie that Larry donated the books, but Archie informs him that no such donation has been made, and then Ichabeezer shows up and says that he will indeed donate money to the library – to buy instruction manuals. Everyone has a ridiculously over-the-top horrified reaction to this, and Bob goes off to talk to Larry on the chair. (Larry: “How’d you find us?” | Bob: “I looked up.”) Larry tells him that he doesn’t want to give up what are ostensibly his comic books, and he picks one up to begin reading right then and there, only to discover that it’s totally blank – except for a note from Ichabeezer: “I, Ichabeezer, have tricked you, Larry. You care about comics just like I care about money. I will now fill the library with instruction manuals.” And then “HA HA HA HA” a bunch of times inside all the covers. (Ichabeezer clearly has some issues he needs to work out . . . ) Larry is angry at first, only to realize that by hoarding the comics for himself, he’s no better than Ichabeezer.
Naturally, Larry returns to the town to announce that he still wants to get comics for everyone, not just himself. The French Peas hand over their homemade comic, which is appreciated, but then shockingly, a truck full of real comic books arrives, actually full of every comic ever made, apparently donated out of the goodness of the publishers’ hearts. That would never happen in a million years, of course, but hey, it’s a cartoon! Obviously, the lesson in this episode is about greed. Though it’s not exactly named as such, the fact the Larry has that moment of self-reflection on his greedy actions is still pretty powerful.
This episode is all over the place, but it’s also pretty fun! It begins with Bob making a special kind of pizza-flavored popcorn with his chemistry set (because Bob is a scientist, apparently). Curious Larry, of course, can’t help messing with Bob’s formula while he goes to answer the door. Bacon Bill is there (thankfully somewhat toned down from his previous appearance), asking if Bob has any chores he could do for pocket money. Bob turns him down, referring him to Ichabeezer. He returns to the popcorn bag, now somewhat larger than before, but he doesn’t suspect Larry other than giving him a suspicious look.
At Ichabeezer’s house, Bill asks if he could walk Rooney for him, which Ichabeezer agrees to, since he wants to go fishing at the kitchen sink (I really do love how everything in the house is simply called what it is). Rooney is very excited by this because, as Ichabeezer points out, dogs love bacon. (Does that mean non-anthropomorphized bacon exists?)
Back at Bob and Larry’s, they’ve invited Madame Blueberry over for a cartoon marathon. She clearly is not enjoying herself, despite Bob’s attempts to convince her why cartoons are so amazing (well, duh). They decide to break for popcorn, which means taking Bob’s special chemistry-altered bag to the giant microwave. (Does that mean little microwaves don’t exist?)
As predicted, the popcorn has been altered drastically, and huge kernels of burnt popcorn explode out of the microwave, raining like boulders down on the town. (Larry: “What an apostrophe!”) The townsfolk are understandably very upset about this, and they sing a really random, Ghostbusters-esque song about how smelly the burned popcorn is and that whoever wrecked the town should be taught a lesson. Bob, a little surprisingly, speaks up right away to confess that it was their fault (normally, it takes the whole episode for the wrongdoers to speak up, but then, this episode isn’t about honesty). He, Larry, and Madame Blueberry apologize (Larry says sorry for messing with the formula in the first place, it was “a flawless mistake”) and offer to help clean up. Mayor Archie admits that the town is a mess, but “who among us has not needed forgiveness?” and so all the Veggies get to work.
Ichabeezer is, of course, the grumpiest about this, feeling that Bob and Larry should’ve been punished for what they did, but he is distracted by a distraught Bacon Bill, who has lost Rooney. A very upset (and dramatic) Ichabeezer joins Bill in his distress. Madame Blueberry comes up, as Rooney has just eaten her cell phone, and she and Bill go after the olive dog.
The town is now restored, and Bob and Larry return home to finish their cartoon marathon, when Bill and Madame burst in, chasing after Rooney. (Not hard when a whole wall is missing from your house . . . )
(It’s so cute, though!)
The ruckus concludes with the TV being knocked over and broken, and everyone ending up in a pile on the floor. (Larry: “It’s a BLT. Bacon, Larry, Tomato!”) Bob demands that someone needs to buy them a new TV, and the blame shifts from Bill and Madame to Rooney to Ichabeezer, as he’s the dog’s owner. They all march off, angry mob-style, to Ichabeezer’s house, running into Archie on the way, who’s disturbed by their intent for “recompense and restitution.” Ichabeezer is happy to see Rooney back but has quite a suitable retort when Bob demands that he buy them a new TV because his dog broke it: “Well, well, Mr. Attack the Town with Giant Popcorn suddenly wants justice!” Bob insists that Ichabeezer get no mercy, only to break off when he realizes how he’s acting – like Ichabeezer. Archie points out that “if there’s no mercy for him, there is no mercy for you.” Bob and Larry nearly destroyed a whole town but were forgiven, and so they in turn must forgive Ichabeezer. In the end, Ichabeezer does end up letting them have a new TV (since he has a whole room full of them, anyway), and they all go back to Bob and Larry’s house to watch cartoons together.
As you can see, this episode was a bit wild, but I actually quite enjoyed it! The moral, of course, was about forgiving others, and considering the 11-minute time limit, I think the introduction to the lesson (Bob and Larry’s popcorntastrophe) and the payoff (accusing Ichabeezer) came together pretty well. Both episodes do a good job of presenting the educational part of edutainment, despite some awkward gags and the frenetic pacing.
What about you? How do you help your children learn about the dangers of greed and the benefits of forgiveness? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: VeggieTales in the House from Big Idea Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Television, and Bardel Entertainment