Geronimo Stilton – The Gem Gang

I’ve noticed my review of the Geronimo Stilton episode ‘Castle Creeps’ has got a fair amount of views, mostly from people searching for ‘thea stilton’ (make of that what you will). So let’s revisit everybody’s favourite cartoon about a world where mice are the dominant species (yes, there is more than one).

Geronimo Stilton is a cartoon series adapting the popular children’s book series of the same name, about a mouse journalist and his family solving mysteries and crap like that. Oh, and even though the Geronimo of the books resembles a mouse version of Franklin Roosevelt, the Geronimo of the cartoon resembles a mouse version of Bruce Wayne for some reason. Now from what I’ve seen of the show, it’s very dull, generic and even depressing. By depressing, I mean, it’s a cartoon from the 21st century and is on the same level as the stuff Hanna Barbera churned out about five decades ago. It’s pretty much every reason you grew out of cartoons rolled into one neat package. Every tiresome cliché, every generic plot, right on display.

Proof of this? One episode is called ‘The Gem Gang.’ Yeeep, that’s right. A gang of bad bad men who steal gems who our heroes have to stop. The plot of every other episode of Scooby Doo. And Goober and the Ghost Chasers. And Jabberjaw, Captain Caveman etc.

So let’s take a look, shall we?

We begin with Geronimo’s offices, which have…vultures perching on the roof? Ooh, did someone die? Maybe this could be inter…oh wait, everyone’s just bored. Trap, Geronimo’s goofy cousin. Benjamin, Geronimo’s nephew/annoying kid sidekick. Thea, Geronimo’s sister/heartthrob for manchildren. And Geronimo himself, playing a game of computer chess. And guess what? That’s a major part of this episode. Because that’s what kids want to see: people playing chess.

Wanna know why they’re all bored? There apparently hasn’t been in any news to report in weeks. So, what, they just published a blank newspaper for days on end? No puff pieces, no obituaries, no news to report? You’re living in a thriving metropolis, and it’s apparently akin to the village in Hot Fuzz?

Well, I suppose that’s one of the drawbacks of living in a kiddie cartoon world where the worst anyone can do is a petty theft; the journalists get bored. It’s kinda a variation on that philosophy about Heaven:  some people don’t believe in Heaven because they think a world where nothing bad happens would be unfulfilling and dull. Hell, All Dogs Go To Heaven II did an entire musical number on it. I’m not at all saying the world is better off with murder and rape, but this just seems one of those moments where you look at the show and say ‘Yup, I’ve definitely outgrown this shit.’

Kinda makes you wonder too: if Geronimo were given the chance to live in the real world, or a more “mature” program, where he could report on all the corrupt politicians and coked-up celebrities he could count, would he take it?

Anyway, Geronimo is frustrated because he can’t beat the computer at chess. Once again, this’ll be a major part of the episode. Just then, they receive a phone call, and Trap reacts to it as you’d expect THE WACKEH SIDEKICK ™ to react – with silly noises and a general cluelessness. Geronimo is invited to attend his chess idol Gary Goudoff face off against a computer. Yeeep, like I said, this is a major part of the plot.

So off Geronimo goes to the chess match, and WACKY TRAP comes along with him, sounding like a retarded bee on caffeine all the while. Thea and Benjamin are left behind, and guess what? We get more scenes of them being bored. Yay! Okay, they go out and find that the jewellery store has been robbed like it always ends up being. So they go in and the owner of the store…the owner speaks with this nasally pseudo-French accent. It’s annoying, but nowhere near as annoying as Trap’s voice, especially considering Trap’s a main character. So yeah, some diamonds have been stolen, as you could have figured out by the title, and we get, of all things, a joke about how much policemen like donuts. Really, guys?

Have I mentioned that this is one of the most clichéd kiddie shows of all time yet? Because the bad guy is from a rival news company and is ugly and mean and fat.  Yes, our villain, Sally Rasmaussen, here to report on the heist. Only she does so, for lack of a better word, bitchily. Because she’s a bitch and our heroes aren’t. When she reports, we also learn that the ‘Gem Gang’ leave behind a calling card, and the store owner picks it up with ungloved hands too. Wouldn’t that be considered evidence?

Back to Geronimo and his merry adventures with MR. WACKY. Yes, Trap came with popcorn and little pennants. It kinda loses its humour – if it had any to begin with – when the chess match has an announcer who acts like a wrestling announcer, ‘in this corner’ and all, meaning that it sorta makes sense for Trap to prepare the way he has. The announcer introduces the chess computer, and its inventor, who, like all cartoon scientists, has a ‘von’ in his name. Speaking of silly names, the computer has ‘cheddar’ in its name, in case we needed reminding that these are mice and not humans  with hypertrichosis and tumors.

Gary also gets introduced and hellooo obvious bad guy. Yes, Gary Goudoff has swimmer’s hair, a stern expression and a muscular bodyguard. He’s going to be the jewel thief, he is. It turns out that Gary prefers to play with his own personal chess piece, and at this point, it’s obvious it isn’t some OCD. Since he has a pawn missing, he decides to postpone the match, allowing Trap to be wacky and annoying again. The inventor is an inventor in a cartoon, so obviously he has to be pompous and egotistical (and German, can’t forget German) and thus he mocks Trap, saying he can’t beat the chess computer. No, don’t provoke the wacky character! It’ll lead to wackiness! In fact, who wants to bet the whole thing’ll end up like this?

Back to Thea and Benjamin. Guess what Benjamin found near the scene of the crime: a chess piece! And not just any chess piece: a pawn! Golly gee, I wonder who could have committed the crime, golly golly effin gee. In fact, Gary’s bodyguard appears to reclaim the piece. But…didn’t Geronimo and Trap have to take a boat to get to the chess tournament? How long were Thea and Benjamin investigating? I like to think that in the time it took for the bodyguard to get from the tournament to the bank, Thea and Benjamin were just staring at the wires for the alarm the Gem Gang cut. ‘They cut the alarm!’ ‘Yeeep, they suuure did.’

Thus begins a rather forgettable motorcycle chase, where the bodyguard seizes the pawn, and Benjamin ends up stowing away on the bodyguard’s motor boat. Not a good idea, since it can apparently travel at the speed of light. Meanwhile, Trap is playing the chess computer and loses every match. You can see why I chose to look at this show again, can’t you? It’s as fun as a barrel of monkeys. And by monkeys, I mean monkey corpses. And just as I predicted, Trap ends up making the computer malfunction.

Back with Thea, Sally the bitch appears and basically just acts like a bitch because she’s a bitch. Also, Trap attempts to fix the computer and, well I guess I was right about the boat’s speed because Benjamin appears instantly. Benjamin explains about the jewellery store, and Trap says about the store, ‘Ooh! They have nice stuff!’ Now…that’s just bad even by comic relief standards. Shaggy Rogers would facepalm at that, and not just because you’re basically ripping off his role.

Goudoff and his bodyguard return, so Benjamin, Geronimo and Trap hide in the computer. Yes, they hide in the computer. The match resumes and when the wrestling announcer guy announces the match is back on, the audience return, despite having left the theatre. That just gives me a mental image of the announcer’s voice booming through the island as if he were a volcano god that needed appeasing.

So Benjamin uses his AnnoyingKidTech portable doohickey to make the computer play chess, with Geronimo making the moves. And of course, since Geronimo is our stalwart hero and Goudoff is our UOV (uber-obvious villain), Geronimo wins. Also of note is the fact that the inventor says his computer is smarter than any human brain. But…there’s no humans in your world. Earlier on, the word ‘man’ was also used, despite the announcer saying ‘Ladies and gentlemice’. Make up your mind, show.

Geronimo then spazzes out, blowing his cover. So we all know Goudoff is the bad guy, so it’s time to reveal him as the bad guy. He’s the leader of the Gem Gang, and was smuggling the jewels inside his chess pieces!

Seriously, as a way of smuggling illegal goods, you could have done better.

Geronimo apparently has his own news show, so he reports on Gary’s arrest, all the while smiling and wisecracking, because that’s what gets viewers to take your word seriously when reporting a story. Also, at the end, there’s one last ‘I’ve definitely outgrown this shit’ moment, where Sally is punished for being a bitch by being attacked by seagulls. Pretty much the same ending an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog would have, where Robotnik would scream, ‘I hate that hedgehog!’ Personally, I’d rather have her attacked by the vultures from the beginning of the episode, but that’s just me.

I guess the most fun that can be had from watching Geronimo Stilton is imagining the kids who watch it growing up, looking back at it and saying ‘I can’t believe I used to like this crap!’ I’m not expecting Dexter or Silk from talking mice, but damned if I wouldn’t rather be watching those shows. Bet Geronimo himself would too.

Was that another ‘I’ve…oh, screw it.

PS. Why was it called ‘The Gem Gang’ if we only see one member of said gang? That’s like The Magnificent Seven only having one magnificent character.

About jabberw

A writer of short stories and reviews, who likes to dabble in other creative media as well.
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