Nick On Toons-Episode 1-“Born To Be Beavers/Up All Night”

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Proof that some folks here on the Retro Junkies Network are either those of great faith, or those who masochistically enjoy the idea of bludgeoning them over the skull with my innate ability to focus on things very few people care about, Paul and Aaron have graciously allowed me to plague your beautiful lives with the following, a column I like to call “Nick On Toons”, which will be a delightful mix of a couple of things really. The main focus will be reviewing and discussing an episode of a classic Nicktoon, which includes the likes of Doug, Rugrats, The Angry Beavers, Hey Arnold, CatDog, and Rocko’s Modern Life. We may also delve into the likes of Rocket Power, The Wild Thornberries, and As Told By Ginger, and even Invader Zim and The Fairly Oddparents. We will also be looking at episodes of classic Nickelodeon shows like All That, Kenan and Kel, Salute Your Shorts, and Clarissa Explains It All, as well as those Nick game shows we know all too well. You never really know what I’ll dig into.

In addition, I will be periodically tying these shows into any video games where those characters make an appearance. We’ll talk about what was good about it, what was bad, as well as what it would be like if either a better game was made, or if it were a cartoon that never had a video game adaptation, what a good one would be like. I hope this interests someone other than myself and Aaron, who I believe would allow me to write an article about the benefits of flannel in attracting and killing a Jaws sized shark while eating a chicken biscuit and humming a Barry White song, all while sitting in a Sherman tank with Chadwick Hall. I mean, seriously, the guy let’s me write anything. He must have lost a bet with Nick(y) Stephens.

In this first edition of the column, we will be discussing the pilot episode of The Angry Beavers, with the two cartoons entitled “ Born To Be Beavers” and “Up All Night” both of which first aired on April 19, 1997. We will be discussing the synopsis of each cartoon, as well as the pros and cons of each one. We will then give a final rating on the full episode. I will try to throw in some tidbits of information, as well as also letting you know, based on the rating and things we discuss, whether you should skip the episode or not. Let’s get right into it, as we rediscover the antics of Norbert and Daggett!

The Angry Beaver-Season 1/Episode 1-“Born To Be Beavers”

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Synopsis: We are introduced to the Beaver Family through a nature documentary hosted by Bill Licking, which tells of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver and their first litter, Norbert and Daggett just before the second litter is born. As is the beaver way, Norbert and Daggett are sent out on their own, much to the chagrin of the younger Beaver brother, Daggett, who seems totally unprepared for such a life changing event. Dag and Norb begin an adventure to find a place to build their dam, Dag trying to adhere to the more traditional methods while Norb seems to want to find the easiest way to do it, choosing a bridge and even a hen house as a place to call home, the latter after the two brothers have an argument. After being discovered in the hen house by a farmer and his two dogs, Dag and Norb are out in the rain, chased into an old truck that’s on cinderblocks. Dag taunts the dogs and wants back out to make a dam, but a lightning strike helps him decide that isn’t such a good idea. The brothers relax in the truck, too much perhaps, as Dag takes the truck out of park and off the blocks as it goes sliding down a big hill, across a freeway, is hit by a big truck before careening into the air and slicing through a forest. In some true act of good beaver fortune, the objects in the back of the truck, combined with what they cut through in the forest, comes together to build their new home.

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Pros

-A solid introduction to our two main characters, Daggett and Norbert, setting the stage for future misadventures. It doesn’t take too much to understand who thinks they’re in charge, and who is the bumbling idiot who usually agrees to most of these orders. We get ample examples of brotherly love, tension, and their own individual and unique personalities.

-We are also introduced to some common Angry Beavers lingo that shows up from time to time in future episodes, some more than others, ranging from Dag’s “That was nuts!” to the ever popular “Spoothead!” and other less familiar ones like “Numbooger,” “Poopy pants” and Norb’s classic line of “Don’t try to put me in your little box, Mr. Man!”

-While a lot of cartoons don’t show you how the setting most episodes were created, this initial episode shows you how the Beavers’ dam was created, which was pretty cool.

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Cons:

-There’s one noticeable portion of the cartoon where Dag is beginning the process of making a dam and the animation is so screwy there are like 4 or 5 Dags working on this process and all of them appear to be talking at once. I mean, I know Dag is the crazy one (or crazier one) but even that seems a bit of a major error that should have been caught. While it adds a unique flavor to this first cartoon it feels out of place with the rest of the episode that flows so well.

-I honestly never knew the name of the area where The Angry Beavers lived, subscribing to the notion that they lived somewhere in the Northwest portion of the US, but what state I never knew. I actually had to look up the exact place and it is a fictional area in Oregon with a funny name, Wayouttatown, which would have been a hilarious additional fact in this episode. You see them pass a road sign that lists names of places they are within miles of, but with various names that also include Burbank (California?) you really are thrown for a loop here. This may seem like such a small issue, but I think having the name in the cartoon (I don’t think they ever mention it at all during the whole series) would have been a nice touch.

-The beginning of the cartoon has a spot where the black and white reel of the nature documentary cuts off and you never know what Bill Licking is referencing, which while mysterious and keeping you guessing didn’t really seem to have the exact effect it wanted.

Watch It Or Skip It? Definitely watch it, as it is the first cartoon that lays the groundwork for the other 60 plus episodes to come.

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The Angry Beavers: Season 1/Episode 1-“Up All Night”

Synopsis: Dag is having trouble sleeping, despite the fact that for many years the Beaver brothers were forced to go to bed by their mother when the sun went down. Norb reminds Dag that they don’t live with their mother anymore and using Dag’s limited intellect, talks him into joining Norb in staying up all night for the first time. The brothers engage in all kinds of shenanigans, from a jumping contest (that ends badly for Dag), to eating jalapenos and watching the monster movie “The Crawling Spleen” which causes them to actually think the creature is in their dam. The brothers even have a contest to see which one of them is more awake. In the end, exhausted from their night of misadventure, they discover the clock in their living room is unplugged. Opening the door to their dam, they realize they had been awake WAY longer than they originally thought.

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Pros:

-While “Born To Be Beavers” gave us a general overview of Dag and Norb and delved a bit into their individual personalities, this is the episode that got me personally hooked on the show and further developed both characters as individuals. We got to see the things they like, jalapenos and monster movies for example, and that they can be very competitive over some really stupid things.

-The part of the cartoon where they do prank phone calls gets me every time. “Do you have chicken necks? Wear a turtleneck sweater and no one will notice!” That’s so corny it’s hilarious, and following that up with Norb calling their mother and handing the phone to Dag, it’s the little things that really make you laugh in this episode.

-Even as cartoons, the characters seem very relatable in this episode, if by no other portion of the show than the point where they are laughing over something that isn’t even that funny all because they are so tired they’re practically delirious. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

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Cons:

-Even though this was only the second cartoon that aired in the series, it would have been nice to be introduced to at least one other character. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dag and Norb, but other than their mother, who is on the phone and not really present, and the actors involved in “The Crawling Spleen” we are focused in on the beavers this episode.

-There were times when the clock in their living room would jump between times rather quickly. I get the whole point here is they don’t even know how late they’re up. Also, how long was the clock unplugged for? If it was for a while, why did it still work through the majority of the episode?

Skip It Or Watch It? A definite watch, as it is even better than the first in this pack.

Final Rating: 4.0

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Conclusion
Like many Nicktoons of the era, The Angry Beavers was a cartoon you either got right off the bat, fell in love with, or were totally unimpressed with, and this first episode sets the stage for what’s to come. While there were certainly some aspects of these cartoons that had some gaping holes in animation and what not, I still feel there are other cartoon shows that had far worse debuts. If you love The Angry Beavers then this is definitely a series worth revisiting, starting here.

Join us next time on Nick On Toons as we journey back to one young man’s arrival in Bluffington on Doug!

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