I just finished writing a long review of Jimmy Neutron's spinoff, Planet Sheen. I've posted a preview of the article below; it won't let me post the whole thing because it has to many pictures. To see the whole thing and in its proper format, you can click this link here to read it on my blog.
Alright let's just get started here. I've written a lot about Jimmy Neutron on this blog before. Kane Hughes, a fellow fan and one of my followers, asked if I would take a look at Jimmy Neutron's spin-off, Planet Sheen. I knew that this show existed and had caught a few moments of it now and again, but I'd never sat down and actually watched a whole episode.
I figured that needed to change. I'm more than happy to oblige my readers' requests, and since I'm such a big Jimmy Neutron fan it really was time that I gave a good look at what its spinoff was like. So I've since watched three full episodes of the show; one 22 minute episode and four 11 minute eps. (These are Pilot, Is This Cute?, What's Up Chock?, Shave the Last Dance for Me, & Berry Big Trouble.)
What I saw had flashes of competence. But overall, this show is a flop. I think I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's just dive into this review.
Going where no show has (wisely) ever gone before.
The history of Planet Sheen is a complicated one. It was originally pitched to Nickelodeon as a much different program called Red Acres. This pilot pitch focused on an aimless fast food worker accidentally being blasted into space. The result? A search for intelligent alien life actually found aliens dumber than we are.
Nickelodeon loved the idea, but they wanted a child protagonist. After pitching Red Acres to other networks, it was offered to Nickelodeon once more with a major difference: this time it would be Carl and Sheen from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron in the rocket.
Nickelodeon's execs absolutely loved it, but things quickly went wrong behind the scenes. The episodic budget was lower than Jimmy Neutron's, one of the lead writers had never done animation before, and there were massive disagreements between the creators, directors, and writers as to the direction of the show. The end result?
"Doo wup doo wup monkey monkey boing."
Normally I start my reviews off with the positives, but then again most things I review are good. So let's get the bulk of the Planet Sheen's attributes covered first.
- Awful Theme Song:
A major thing I'm going to keep harping on in this review is lack of effort. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the worst theme song in existence.
"Dogs like cheese, cows like monkeys...tuna noodle casserole, pomegranate stew. Stranded on a planet, what'cha gonna do?"
This is the worst thing I have ever heard. I understand your show has a wacky and abstract sense of humor, but seriously. "Pomegranate stew?" There's really nothing else you could think of to rhyme with the word "do?" That's literally the easiest word to rhyme with.
"To me this sucks, how about you? Stranded on a planet, what'cha gonna do?"
That took five seconds. I'll take my check now.
- Very Frequent Bad Writing:
I'll state this again when I get to the good parts of Planet Sheen, but not every single joke or line is cancer-inducingly awful. But at least half of the gags fall completely flat, and much of the character and plot-forwarding dialogue is just awful.
Let's take the very first line of the series as an example. Get yourself in the right mindset here. You've been hired to write the pilot episode of a brand new show. You flip open your laptop and search your mind for the perfect opening line. This is your chance to prove you're a great writer and set the tone for the rest of this program's history. You want to blow away your audience, let them know right off the bat that this show is worth their time. Will you make a hilarious joke? Maybe tug at the heartstrings? Start off with a heart-pounding action scene?
No, because this is Planet Sheen, homeworld of utter disappointment. Instead you write this:
"I like chicken, I like pants. But I don't like chickens in my pants!"
Why did I do agree to write this post?
Look, it's not even that this line is idiotic (it is, though). Look at that first image of the series. This pilot aired four years after the last episode of Jimmy Neutron, a show that touched a ton of lives and inspired countless kids. When they see this image of Jimmy's backyard and lab, it hits them with a crippling wave of nostalgia. This animation is a false promise to these JN fans; it shows that there is going to be a connection to the old show that they grew up with and loved.
It would have been so easy to replace that stupid chicken / pants bit with something funny and heartfelt that connected to the old Jimmy Neutron world. In a single line they could have hinted at what happened since the Jimmy Neutron series has ended. Maybe Sheen's running out to the lab to get some new invention that Jimmy wants to show the entire group; showing once again how close the five friends grew over the course of the series. Or he could be muttering to himself that he's tired of watching Jimmy and Cindy share googly eyes now that they're dating. Maybe he and Libby had a fight, or the gang is getting ready for one last summer adventure before sixth grade starts...anything is possible here.
But instead we get a line about chickens and pants.
That's an example of the poor writing, but it's not the only one. Let's jump ahead a few minutes in the pilot, right after Sheen crash-lands on Zeenu. In one of the strangest creative decisions I have ever witnessed, there are three voice-overs by Sheen explaining the major characters of this show.
That might make sense, except Sheen just literally repeats what we just learned with no new analysis.