Case Number 22918: Small Claims Court


Nickelodeon // 2009 // 572 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // December 11th, 2011

The Charge

Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!

The Case

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season has its moments, but is by far the least consistently funny season of the venerable cartoon. Most of the usual gang members are present and accounted for, although two of my favorites, the incompetent police duo from years past, have seemingly been replaced by a random series of generic police fish. The sad fact is the show's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Since everyone's temperaments and behaviors are so well established, the episode plots can't help but be somewhat repetitive. Watching an episode is akin to settling in with old friends and sharing laughs about good old days gone by.

Most of Season Seven's best moments involve the nearly evil genius Plankton; his grandmother and snail disguises being the highlights. Mr. Krabs' snail-napping for the sake of loose change is also funny, and the Mermaidman and Barnacleboy episodes -- while not as fresh as they once were -- are still better than average. Look for the cameo from Adam West and Burt Ward as young spry versions of the dysfunctional duo. Conversely, the Mrs. Puff pieces are regurgitations of previous efforts, especially the continual "Mrs. Puff is happy to get arrested" shtick. Sandy is relegated to bit parts, when she gets any airtime at all (the exception being the terrible "Rodeo Daze," featuring a mass road trip to Texas).

The titular sponge and his best friend Patrick have become the least engaging parts of the show, which is a problem since they dominate screen time. Patrick has been dumbed down too far, except when the writers need him to be ironically intelligent for humorous effect, a trope they fall back on with increasing regularity. As for I the only one who has noticed his voice has changed? Tom Kenny has voiced the happy-go-lucky sea creature since the show's inception, but his voice has gradually become more nasal over the years. It's distracting at times, but not nearly as much as the scripts, which seem to be written by people who were told what SpongeBob is like but have never actually seen the show. He acts like a happy, fun-loving, not-overly-intelligent sponge, but has entirely lost the naïveté which has long been the basis of his charm.

Then there are the songs. The writers have somehow decided these must be included with every "special" episode, but are invariably poorly written and arranged, filled with nonsensical lyrics to underline the inherent (and therefore supposedly hilarious) stupidity of the singers (SpongeBob and Patrick). In the songs' defense, my sons were singing happily along as we watched. To each his own, I guess.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season presents fifty episodes on four discs, including the decent "SpongeBob's Last Stand" double episode (wherein Plankton builds a super highway directly through Jellyfish Fields) and the sometimes funny "Legends of Bikini Bottom" series (which involve monsters, witches, oceanic drains, sea-billies, and the Bikini Bottom Triangle). Short commercials -- dubbed "animated shorts" for the purposes of the DVD -- make up the collection's special features. Many of them are far funnier than the actual episodes they're advertising. Presented in television's standard definition full frame format, the show features its normal bright coloring and simple shading. The Dolby 2.0 stereo sound is perfectly fine; voices are clear and the usual poppy soundtrack is well mixed and never intrudes.

Judging from my sons' reactions, none of the denizens of Bikini Bottom are in danger of losing their cherished place in Nickelodeon's lineup any time soon. Alas, the adult victims of second-hand-SpongeBob seem to be in for a rough journey, as the show continues to skew away from its historically strongest suit: the ability to appeal to kids and adults alike.

The Verdict

Since it's written for kids, and kids really like it, the court is forced to concede the point. Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 Josh Rode; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Nickelodeon
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 572 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Featurettes

* IMDb

* Official Site