Episode Review

The Trouble With Tetris

Friday, September 22, 2006, 4:51 PM - Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 3:43 PM

Summary (Friday, September 22, 2006, 4:51 PM - 4:53 PM)

Since Seasons 1 and 2 of the series will be coming out on DVD on February 13, 2007, I will not be including summaries in these reviews for the rest of Season 2. If you're reading this review before you get the DVD set, you can read a short summary of the episode at http://ldloveszh.tripod.com/cnepis.html#tetris1

Misc. Tidbits (Friday, September 22, 2006, 4:53 PM - 4:55 PM)

The episode was written by Michael Maurer.

The episode originally aired on Saturday, October 13, 1990, as the sixth episode of Season 2 and the nineteenth episode of the series.

I first saw this episode on NBC, then on The Family Channel, and finally "Captain N & The Video Game Masters".

Interesting Notes (Friday, September 22, 2006, 4:55 PM - 5:52 PM; Sunday, September 24, 2006, 4:01 PM - 5:00 PM; Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 3:13 PM - 3:33 PM)

The title is white with quotes.

The episode's title comes from the "Star Trek" episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles".

Lana's father used to tell her stories about Tetris when she was a little girl.

Tetris is so far from the Palace of Power that it never joined the fight against Mother Brain.

Kevin's Zapper beams are blue in this episode.

Lana has an older brother named Lyle. She hasn't seen him in 2 years. He's a Keeper of the Sacred Square on Tetris. He left before King Charles was kidnapped by Mother Brain.

Kevin's weapons don't lose power in this episode.

The Palace of Power does not appear in this episode.

Great Lines (Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 12:24 PM - 2:48 PM)

Mother Brain: "I'd like to stay and chat, but eeevil calls."

Dumb Lines (Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 2:48 PM)


Rant (Friday, September 22, 2006, 4:57 PM - 5:52 PM; Sunday, September 24, 2006, 9:30 AM - 9:59 AM, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 12:00 PM - 3:43 PM)

This episode was written by Michael Maurer, Jeffrey Scott's brother. It looks like Michael, like his brother, is a classic "Star Trek" fan, judging by this episode's title.

The other episode written by Michael Maurer that I've reviewed so far is "The Invasion of the Paper Pedalers". He chose a rather odd game to based an episode on. How well does he do this time?

This episode is...something else. I don't know how to describe it, so let's just start at the beginning.

The episode begins with King Hippo, Eggplant Wizard, and Mother Brain watching the N Team flying around in space in the Warp Wagon. How can Hippo pound Eggy's head into his body without killing him?

It turns out that the N Team is flying through a meteor field for fun. Why would anyone do this as a game?

Why would the steering wheel go out of control like that because of a pull?

The N Team crash-lands on the world of Tetris. Let me repeat that: the world of Tetris. The writer of this episode turned Tetris into a world. Tetris is a puzzle game with falling blocks. Other than the scenery in victory screens, that's all that there is to it. Turning Tetris into a world with a block-shaped humanoid population is the dumbest thing that's been done in this series yet. Whose idea was it? Jeffrey Scott told me that he believes the games were selected by DiC and/or Nintendo. Did the producers of the show make up the world of Tetris and tell Michael Maurer to write a script around it, or was Michael Maurer simply told "Write a Tetris episode", and he took it from there? Either way, it's retarded.

That said, it's clear that most of this episode has nothing to do with the actual game. If I come across any actual Tetris gameplay, I'll let you know.

The background music that plays after the N Team crashes is the title screen music from the Game Boy version of "Tetris". I wonder if it was a deliberate choice to use music from the Game Boy version or not. Maybe they did that, because Gameboy plays a prominent role in this episode?

What does Simon mean by having his cheeks "re-rosied"?

There are a lot of block-related jokes in this episode - from the names to vocabulary. It's slightly annoying.

Is Mayor Squaresly the mayor of all of Tetris or just that particular city. If the former, then the title of "Mayor" is odd. If the latter, then...does Tetris even have "cities", or is it just one large world government?

When the Keeper of the Calendar points at the days, yesterday and tomorrow (both holidays) as well as today (not a holiday) have writing on them. He should have pointed at an empty square for today.

Lana has a holiday named after her,...sort of. Yay.

It's nice to hear Lana give some background info on herself, but it doesn't make any sense that a world that the N Team flies near to play games in space would be so far from the Palace of Power that it never joined the fight against Mother Brain.

How can Tetris' economy function with so many holidays?

It's illogical for Tetris to have cars with square wheels and sharply-angled streets just to fit in.

The Sacred Square? Okay, so a mystical square object supposedly built the world of Tetris. Yeah.

How could Hippo and Eggy survive being distorted into square shapes?

Why would the Chamber of Tetris require a key to get out of it?

Lyle's face turns square-shaped when he walks into the door. Ha, ha. Furthermore, he's able to get it back to normal by pressing his nose. Sheesh.

We now hear music that I can find only in Nintendo Famicom version of "Tetris", which is a very odd source for this series. It's the title screen music. The music comes from an old Russian melody called "Korobeiniki".

In Cubies, we hear the "Get a Little Bit Crazy" song, which we hear in whole in "Having a Ball".

Why is Simon upset about his brick burger? Is it actually made out of a brick?

The Blockheads are introduced. Apparently, they're a popular rock band on Tetris. They also perform at Lana's ball in "Having a Ball". Which episode aired first will remain a mystery until the DVD set is released.

Anyway, I like their song, which I call "Block Party". It's this episode's featured song. It sounds like a parody of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets, but another fan swears it's really a parody of another, similar song that was released in the same year. Can anybody tell me for sure?

Kevin and Lana dancing together is teh cute. =) Apparently, Kevin has successfully taught Lana how to dance. (See "How's Bayou".) I especially like how they stop moving their feet and just move their upper bodies.

Incidentally, I specifically recall seeing them dance on a small, black-and-white television set in my bedroom on NBC. I don't recall if it's the first time that I saw this episode, but it's a specific scene that I remember seeing in the NBC run.

In yet another similarity to "Having a Ball", King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard dance together in disguise. In this episode, though, Eggy is the woman. Perhaps Hippo's "But I'm leadin'" line is a reference to their discomfort at dancing together in "Having a Ball"?

Why are Kevin and Lana still dancing after the song ends - especially during a loud commotion?

How can Kevin's Zapper fire on its own in mid-air?

During one shot in Cubies, when Simon, Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and Duke abandon their table, the picture is blurry. I'm reviewing this episode from a VGM copy. I don't recall if the shot was like this on NBC and The Family Channel or not.

Okay, so Lana has an older brother named Lyle that we haven't heard of until now. It's unclear whether the rest of the N Team has heard of him / met him or not. Simon's surprise might simply be regarding Lyle's clumsiness.

Lana hasn't seen Lyle in 2 years, and he didn't know that their father is missing, which means that the King was kidnapped less than 2 years earlier. This fits with the information in "Having a Ball" that Lana's father gave her a birthday bash last year.

It's cute how Kid Icarus sets down a chair right behind Lyle right when Lyle goes to sit without looking. :P

Okay, we get another featured song, which I call "Now You're a Man". It's a parody of "Walk Like a Man" by The Four Seasons. Wow, we have 3 songs in one episode. That's never happened before. Come to think of it, we've never had 2 songs in one episode.

When Lyle is launched towards Simon, he sounds like Link. Does that mean that Jonathan Potts voiced Lyle?

Simon's eyes pop out of his head. Sheesh. More lame cartoon physics.

Why was Lana waiting outside of the store? Was she embarassed at seeing Lyle in his boxer shorts? She was tapping her left foot while waiting outside, so she might as well have gone in.

When Lyle kisses Lana's right hand, Lana's eyebrows are missing. I guess that sort of matches Lyle, who is without eyebrows throughout the episode.

How can Eggy eat a bomb that explodes inside himself and not die? He said the tomato bomb would turn the safe into chopped cabbage.

Kevin asking Lana, "Isn't that what you wanted?", is interesting. Does Lana not want to be the ruler of Videoland?

Three of the four shots in the scene in Lyle's bedroom (Lyle and Gameboy) are blurry. The only non-blurry shot is Gameboy by himself.

The entire world of Tetris will fall apart, just because the Sacred Square is removed? No wonder that the thing is locked up!

The shot in the next scene of Lana, Mega Man, Simon, Kid Icarus, Duke, and Kevin arriving is blurry as well.

In the shot of Lana and Kevin running after Mother Brain, Lana's pupils are missing. Freaky.

How does Kevin know that Tetris is doomed without the Sacred Square? If Lyle mentioned it in his apartment, then why didn't Gameboy know?

The shot of Mother Brain moving from behind is blurry as well.

When Kevin yells "Head's up, everybody!", his voice momentarily jumps to chipmunk pitch during "everybody". Is this in the actual episode or just on my copy?

Those green circles that come out of Mega Man's blaster look cool, but I don't recall seeing them in any other episode.

What's this "power dive" that Kevin mentions? He just speeds up and then jumps out of the hole in the wall. Heck, he didn't need to power dive at all. Duke ran at normal speed and made it through as well!

Of course, Kevin has enough power to pull the jump off. His power meter is at least almost (if not completely) full. :P

I wonder why Kevin presses the B button instead of the A button, though. In most games, you jump by pressing A. Not in "Tetris", though. Then again, you don't jump in "Tetris"...

When Kevin presses the B button, his Power Pad looks weird. It's way too big, and it's missing the Select and Start buttons (and maybe the cross-key, but that might just be my monitor).

Mayor Squaresly is overly enthusiastic in wanting to declare holidays. He forgot that today is All Squares Day. :P

Lana's offer for her and Lyle to rule Videoland together is nice but odd. How can two people rule something together? Who would outrank the other?

Also, since Lyle's "rightful place" is as ruler of Videoland, why did he earlier say "Glad you approve, sis", and why does Lana now offer Lyle joint rule of Videoland with her to get him to come back to the Palace of Power with her? Do both of them not know what "rightful place" means?

Lesson: You must believe in yourself before anyone else will (although that's not true).

If it wasn't for the game that this episode is based on, then this would be a pretty good episode. As it is, it's average. This is Michael Maurer's second "weird game choice" episode.

Suddenly learning that Lana has an older brother that took off 2 years ago without telling her is interesting, but Lana's reaction at suddenly seeing him again after so long is rather subdued, and we've had no indication in previous episodes that Lana's worried about her missing brother. Then again, we've had almost no indication that Lana's worried about her missing father either.

As for what to cut out, I can't think of any filler in this episode.

Overall, "The Trouble With Tetris" is an okay episode.

Usefulness ratings:

Kevin: 10 (zapping 3 ceiling blocks, zapping 2 falling blocks, zapping 3 falling blocks, zapping 1 falling block in the tunnel, knocking the Sacred Square away from Mother Brain)
Lana: 0
Simon: 0
Mega Man: 2 (zapping 2 falling blocks)
Kid Icarus: 2 (shooting 1 falling block, providing the tightrope)
Duke: 1 (getting Kevin's Zapper)
Gameboy: 2 (saving Lyle, flying Lyle to Mother Brain)

Kevin's high score deserves some explanation. Even though his zapping of the blocks is of questionable value (did it make any difference?), I added the points to be fair.

The running total usefulness ratings for this season so far are:

Kevin: 58 (7 episodes)
Lana: 11 (7 episodes)
Simon: 10 (7 episodes)
Mega Man: 16 (7 episodes)
Kid Icarus: 15 (7 episodes)
Duke: 7 (7 episodes)
Gameboy: 13 (7 episodes)

Lana is still ahead of Simon in this season's competition for the moment, but she's now been overtaken by Gameboy.

The running total usefulness ratings for the series so far are:

Kevin: 105 (20 episodes)
Lana: 20 (20 episodes)
Simon: 31 (20 episodes)
Mega Man: 33 (20 episodes)
Kid Icarus: 38 (20 episodes)
Duke: 21 (20 episodes)
Gameboy: 13 (7 episodes)

Kevin has passed the 100 points mark. Everyone else is nowhere close.

That's the end of my review of "The Trouble With Tetris". I have "The Big Game" listed for Saturday, October 20, 1990 (though a lot of my air dates might change when the DVD set comes out), so I'll review that next. See you all in my next review!

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