Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: Gravity Falls "Irrational Treasure"

I don't know about the rest of you, but this episode's revelation that Santa Claus is the eternal President of the United States of America is pretty refreshing to me. I mean, now we don't have to worry about Trump vs. Clinton.

Although his stance on migrant elf workers is pretty controversial.
Though it apparently aims to reference and briefly lampoon National Treasure, the episode is actually closer in spirit to one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, "Lisa the Iconoclast."

The basic plot of that episode might sound familiar: During an anuual celebration of a town's history, a kid discovers that the town's long-held historical icon might not have been the paragon of humanity they were painted to be, and they undergo a quest to discover the truth. Along the way, a comic relief character goes nuts ringing a bell.

But the formula is a good one, and I'd consider both episodes to be classics of their respective series.

My only criticism is that if they wanted to lampoon National Treasure, then they could have been a bit more clear about it. As it is, the only real parts parodying National Treasure are the title, the bit about breaking into the museum, and the general idea of a national conspiracy. But honestly, that's a rather minor point, and I actually like the fact that they decided to give this episode a bit more depth than simply being a National Treasure parody eight years after the film came out.

And don't think for one moment that film parodies aren't something Gravity Falls would try to do; Alex Hirsch desperately tried to do a whole episode parodying Labyrinth, but was shot down when Disney thought that kids wouldn't get the references.

What else? Be yourself. Though I must say that this episode has a fairly interesting take on how Mabel is affected by Pacifica's insults in the first place.

Mabel Pines

Mabel knows that she's a little different. As she says to Dipper, she always assumed she was simply charming. But discovering that people consider her silly deflates her because she assumes that people think less of her because of it.

It's not that she's embarrassed of who she is. Mabel's afraid that she doesn't have people's respect; she's worried that in the end, her silliness makes her deserving of ridicule.

In the end, Mabel doesn't have a desire to fit in, she has a desire to be respected, which is part of the reason why her quest doesn't involve becoming like Pacifica in an attempt at being loved by the populace, but specifically doing something serious.

Quentin Trembley (Alex Hirsch)
Trembley is loosely based on Alex Hirsch's take on Teddy Roosevelt from his short film Teddy Roosevelt: You So Crazy.

The character's particular brand of lunacy is definitely a love-or-hate deal. Personally, I like him. Though I will admit that I'm a bit glad he only showed up in a single episode; Trembley could have easily turned into an annoying bit of comic relief. Of course, some would claim that he already is annoying comic relief.

Pretty standard for the show, but I have to praise a couple details.

1: The Room of Secrets.

I just like how cool it looks, despite its rather narratively convenient existence as a repository for lost secrets.
2: The wall of text.

Definitely worth pausing the episode to read.
On the other hand, I have to call foul on the angel carving; when you turn the original image upside down, it doesn't match what Mabel sees when she turns upside down.

Final Thoughts
Not a bad episode. I'll admit, there are better ones, but I'd still consider this to be above average for the show. Though your enjoyment of this particular episode definitely hinges on whether or not you like Quentin Trembley.

Next time, Mabel makes a new friend. Several times. And I'm not referring to the episode where she meets the boy band Sev'ral Times.

See you then!

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