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Case Number 03525

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SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete First Season

Paramount // 2000 // 474 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // November 10th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 1 (published December 12th, 2007), Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 2 (published November 27th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: The Complete Third Season (published February 8th, 2006), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season (published December 11th, 2011), SpongeBob Squarepants: 10 Happiest Moments (published September 19th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Fear Of A Krabby Patty (published August 31st, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Friend Or Foe? (published August 29th, 2007), Spongebob Squarepants: Home Sweet Pineapple (published January 19th, 2005), SpongeBob SquarePants: Legends of Bikini Bottom (published December 12th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense / Sponge Buddies (published March 19th, 2002), Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge For Hire (published February 9th, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob Vs. The Big One (published March 16th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob's Pest Of The West (published April 25th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongicus (published April 9th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: The Great Patty Caper (published March 13th, 2011), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Seaside Capers (published March 13th, 2004), Spongebob Squarepants: To Love A Patty (published February 6th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: To Squarepants Or Not To Squarepants (published July 27th, 2009), SpongeBob Squarepants: Triton's Revenge (published September 11th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Truth Or Square (published November 20th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Where's Gary? (published December 14th, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Who Bob What Pants? (published November 13th, 2008), and Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip (published September 25th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!

Opening Statement

Call me crazy, but I think SpongeBob SquarePants is the best animated American comedy since The Simpsons. There have been so few successes and so many failures that it's refreshing to see a great animated comedy surface.

After various single disc compilations, Paramount has made the decision to issue season-by-season box sets of the popular Nickelodeon show. They have delivered a first rate package, slightly tarnished by one small flaw, which we'll discuss later.

Facts of the Case

Under the sea, in a town called Bikini Bottom lives SpongeBob SquarePants. A childlike adult sponge who lives in a pineapple, SpongeBob means well but often gets into trouble with his best friend, Patrick Star. He also manages to irritate his next-door neighbor Squidward Tentacles on a daily basis.

SpongeBob and Squidward work at the Krusty Krab, the undersea equivalent of McDonald's. The owner, Mr. Eugene Krabs, sounds like a pirate and pinches pennies tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge. Adding to the craziness is Sandy Cheeks, a female daredevil squirrel who decides to live underwater for a new challenge, and Plankton, hell bent on ruling Bikini Bottom by discovering the secret behind the Krabby Patty.

The Evidence

I know the above description doesn't sound very promising, but this show defies description. It's a bright, sunny animated comedy that delivers big laughs and even well earned sentiment. In an era when children's made for TV animation is often third-rate junk, it's great to see a show that is great fun, but lovely to watch.

As for my claim that SpongeBob SquarePants is the best animated American comedy since The Simpsons, it is a claim I stand behind. It is true that we have had good animated comedies over the years such as King of the Hill, Futurama, and Family Guy, most attempts at a half-hour animated comedy have fallen flat. (Does anyone even remember God, The Devil and Bob?) Anyway, SpongeBob SquarePants is accessible to all. Adults will enjoy the witty satire and sly in-jokes subtly inserted into every episode. Children will love the bright colors, spunky pace, and lively characters. Best of all, parents will not have to worry about violence or crude humor.

It's hard to describe the appeal of SpongeBob. On the surface, he seems to be this annoying block of Swiss cheese who has a laugh that would rival Fran Drescher's. But that's a shallow position to take. There is a sweetness and innocence to him that is really nice. Too many cartoon characters have become cynical and downbeat and it's just refreshing to see something upbeat and good hearted. Of course, a show isn't complete without a gallery of supporting characters. Patrick Star is the village idiot, who sometimes gives SpongeBob some really bad advice, but he is a loyal friend and that's something we don't see much of these days. Squidward is a cross between Bert (Sesame Street), Woody Allen, and Roger Addison (the grouchy next-door neighbor on Mr. Ed, but he has some heart, if you can find it. He's the straight man for his neighbor's antics. Mr. Krabs is greedy, but he fills the Fred Mertz role quite nicely. Sandy Cheeks is a strong female character, which is refreshing to see.

Vocal talent is top notch for an animated series. Tom Kenny is the perfect choice to voice SpongeBob. The voice could be annoying to some, but it contains the right amount of innocence and wonder that we would expect from this sponge. Bill Faberbakke is the voice of Patrick Star, a sort of underwater Dauber (his Coach character). Patrick is the definition of stupid and his antics will have you laughing out loud. Rodger Bumpass (what a name!) gives Squidward his Bertesque voice. Mr. Lawrence (real name Doug Lawrence) originally auditioned to play SpongeBob but was hired as a writer and created Plankton (which utilized the same voice in the audition). Carolyn Lawrence (no relation) is Sandy, a variation of her normal voice but it works for this specific character. The biggest surprise is Clancy Brown, who gives Mr. Krabs his voice. Who would have thought that the actor who played Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption (and who usually plays dark, disturbed characters) would be better known as the cheap, crusty Krabs? It's quite a performance.

Forty episodes are spread out over three discs. I have rated them on a scale of zero to five starfish:

"Reef Blower"
Squidward tosses a loose clamshell onto SpongeBob's yard. Disgusted, SpongeBob decides to break in his new reef blower. And nearly suck the life out of Bikini Bottom in the process. This is an excellent short in the tradition of Keaton, Lloyd, and Chaplin.
Rating: **** 1/2

"Tea at the Treedome"
SpongeBob meets Sandy Cheeks, who invites him over to Treedome for tea. One problem: there's no water in Treedome. Will it be known as SpongeBob's last stand?
Rating: *** 1/2

SpongeBob opens a bubblestand for 25 cents a lesson. Patrick and SpongeBob try their best to convert Squidward to the joys of bubble blowing. The laughs are too forced in this episode and the ending is a real disappointment.
Rating: ***

"Ripped Pants"
After accidentally ripping his pants while playing with Sandy and Larry the Lobster in Mussel Beach, SpongeBob quickly wears out the joke, and his welcome. This episode is one of the best, with a great musical number.
Rating: ****

SpongeBob and Patrick try to introduce Squidward to the joys of jellyfishing. Of course, Squidward's grouchy demeanor ends up angering the jellyfish.
Rating: *****

Plankton desperately wants to learn the secret formula for a Krabby Patty. Since SpongeBob won't tell him, he's just going to have to force him!
Rating: ****

"Naughty Nautical Neighbors"
Squidward makes trouble and ends up creating animosity between SpongeBob and Patrick. Can he repair their broken friendship before they end up killing him over which one is his best friend?
Rating: *****

"Boating School"
After failing his driving test 38 times, Patrick convinces SpongeBob to plant a walkie talkie in his brain and give him all the answers.
Rating: *****

"Pizza Delivery"
Squidward and SpongeBob get lost in the middle of nowhere while delivering a Krabby Patty Pizza. My personal favorite of all the episodes, this one is loaded with enough unique twists and hilarious comedy to bear repeat viewings.
Rating: *****

"Home Sweet Pineapple"
SpongeBob's house is devoured by nematodes and he needs a new place to live. Either that or move back home with his parents.
Rating: *****

"Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy"
SpongeBob and Patrick try to coax their heroes back into active duty. Guest voices: Ernest Borgnine as Mermaidman and Tim Conway as Barnacle Boy.
Rating: *** 1/2

SpongeBob apparently forgets to put pickles on BubbleBass' Krabby Patty. Will he regain his confidence? Or will Mr. Krabs have to find a new fry cook? Funny and sweet.
Rating: ****

"Hall Monitor"
SpongeBob becomes Hall Monitor and searches Bikini Bottom for the fiendish Maniac. Problem is the police are looking for SpongeBob!
Rating: **

"Jellyfish Jam"
SpongeBob brings a wild jellyfish home as a pet, but doesn't count on the whole herd following him home!
Rating: ** 1/2

"Sandy's Rocket"
Sandy plans a rocket trip to the moon, but Patrick and SpongeBob accidentally ignite the rocket and crash into Bikini Bottom shortly after takeoff. One problem: they think they're on the moon!
Rating: **** 1/2

"Squeaky Boots"
Mr. Krabs unloads an unwanted birthday gift onto SpongeBob. The gift comes back to haunt him again and again in this gentle spoof of "The Tell Tale Heart."
Rating: *****

"Nature Pants"
SpongeBob longs to ditch civilization and live amongst the jellyfish. Only problem is that Patrick wants to catch him as a pet!
Rating: ***

"Opposite Day"
Squidward decides to sell his house. To prevent potential homeowners from running, he tells SpongeBob and Patrick that "Opposite Day" has arrived and to act differently. He'll be soon eating his words.
Rating: ****

"Culture Shock"
To bring customers to the Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs and Squidward stage a talent show. The show's a disaster until SpongeBob…
Rating: ****

SpongeBob decides to change Plankton to the side of good. He'd have better luck finding Jimmy Hoffa.
Rating: *** 1/2

"MuscleBob BuffPants"
SpongeBob wants big muscles without all the work, so he orders inflatable muscles. Unfortunately for him, Sandy enters him into the anchor tossing contest.
Rating: *****

"Squidward, the Unfriendly Ghost"
SpongeBob and Patrick think they murdered Squidward and mistake his baby-powdered skin for a ghostly allure. Squidward decides to take advantage and gain two slaves in the process.
Rating: *****

"The Chaperone"
Mr. Krabs' daughter Pearl needs a date for the prom. SpongeBob is recruited for the job, but will his prom night be a total disaster?
Rating: *****

"Employee of the Month"
SpongeBob has won the title 26 times in a row. Squidward decides to give our little yellow friend some competition after some choice words from Mr. Krabs. Mr. Krabs will live to regret it.
Rating: **** 1/2

"Scaredy Pants"
In this official Halloween episode, SpongeBob chooses a scary costume: the Flying Dutchman. Only thing is he doesn't scare anyone. But with Patrick's help, that may change. Guest voice: Brian Doyle Murray as The Flying Dutchman.
Rating: *****

"I Was A Teenage Gary"
Squidward agrees to look after SpongeBob's pet snail Gary for the weekend. He neglects him and Gary becomes sick. After accidentally injecting SpongeBob with Gary's medicine, Squidward finds he'll have to take care of two snails.
Rating: *****

Squidward accidentally sends himself back in time and meets a prehistoric SpongeBob and Patrick. Will he be able to return home or will he be stuck?
Rating: *** 1/2

"Karate Choppers"
Sandy and SpongeBob's constant karate workouts drive the citizens of Bikini Bottom crazy. Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob an ultimatum: either karate or his job. Can SpongeBob resist?
Rating: *****

"Sleepy Time"
SpongeBob finds he can enter the dreams of his friends. He proves that he can be just as annoying in dreamland as he is in reality.
Rating: ** 1/2

SpongeBob gets the suds after leaving the refrigerator open all night. SpongeBob asks Sandy to take him to the doctor, but Patrick fills his head with tall tales.
Rating: *****

"Valentine's Day"
SpongeBob plans the ultimate Valentine for Patrick. But Sandy has trouble delivering the gift so SpongeBob improvises a handshake for Patrick's gift. Big mistake.
Rating: ****

"The Paper"
SpongeBob thinks of a thousand uses for Squidward's gum wrapper. He has fun until Squidward decides he wants the wrapper back.
Rating: ****

Mr. Krabs enlists SpongeBob and Patrick to accompany him on a treasure hunt. Brian Doyle Murray returns as The Flying Dutchman.
Rating: **** 1/2

"Rock Bottom"
SpongeBob gets lost beyond Bikini Bottom Limits. Will he make it home safe or will he remain lost forever?
Rating: ***

Sandy becomes homesick and decides to return back home to Texas. SpongeBob and Patrick come up with a plan to prevent her from moving.
Rating: ****

"Walking Small"
Plankton plans to change Goo Lagoon to his new restaurant, The Mega Bucket. His weapon: Evil SpongeBob.
Rating: *** 1/2

"Fools in April"
Squidward pulls a traumatizing April Fools prank on SpongeBob. His attempts at apologizing are one big joke.
Rating: *****

"Neptune's Spatula"
In this spoof of the King Arthur legend, the ultimate fry cook will be crowned after the chosen one pulls the rusty spatula out of the hardened grease. Guess who is the chosen one?
Rating: ****

Mr. Krabs warns SpongeBob and Patrick not to play with the dreaded hooks or they'll wind up in a can of tuna. They ignore him. Guest stars: Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie of "Fishing with Lurie."
Rating: *****

"Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy II"
SpongeBob receives the Magic Conch Signal as a gift and proceeds to drive his heroes nuts. Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway return as the title characters and Charles Nelson Reilly guests as The Dirty Bubble.
Rating: *****

The full frame transfer is stunning in its brilliance. It is sparkling clean and beautiful to watch. After seeing some television shows get lackluster treatment on DVD, it makes me thrilled to report the great care and work that went into this flawless transfer. If you have only seen SpongeBob on television, you have to see it like this. The colors are brighter, visuals clearer, and it makes it easier to appreciate the animation. This is Paramount's best work to date.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound mix is superb. Free of defects and problems usually associated with sound recorded for television exhibition, dialogue and music come through clean and clear. Again, Paramount's best work to date.

For the fans, a treasure chest of extras are included:

• "The Origin of SpongeBob SquarePants" Featurette: Creator Stephen Hillenburg discusses the creation of SpongeBob and how he evolved from a college comic strip to the spunky yellow sponge we all know today. Worth a look.
• "Recollections from the First Season Crew" Featurette: The various directors, writers, and animators talk about their experiences working on the show that first season. At five minutes, a bit too short for my taste.
• "Everybody's Talking: The Voices of SpongeBob SquarePants" Featurette: Interviews with the vocal talent behind the show. The best of the featurettes because it is the most revealing (and entertaining).
• Cast Commentaries on "Plankton!" and "Karate Choppers": These are two wildly entertaining tracks featuring the six principal vocal talents discussing the making of these shorts. My only complaint: if you managed to get these people into a room at the same time, why not have them record more than 22 minutes worth of commentary? The things some will do to save money.
• "Drawing the Goo Lagoon" Featurette: An all too brief look at the creation of the backgrounds of Bikini Bottom.
• "SpongeBob's Life Strategies" Featurette: Hilarious look at how to succeed in life in Bikini Bottom. If you only watch one featurette, watch this one.
• Violent Femmes SpongeBob Music Video: Terrible rock version of the hummable theme song. Skip this. I'm begging you!
• SpongeBob ScaredyPants and SpongeBob DancinPants music videos: Clips from their respective episodes set to music. These are for kids only.
• The Bikini Bottom's Up Tour!: Interactive "walk" through various "landmarks" of Bikini Bottom featuring live action footage of Slappy the Pirate (played by Kenny). For kids only.
• Krusty Krab Karaoke: You too can sing along to the musical moments from the first season with or without vocals.

Most of these extras are found on the third disc, but the commentaries appear on the first and second discs respectively.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

This is not quite the complete first season. "Help Wanted," the episode that shows how SpongeBob came to work for the Krusty Krab, is missing from this set. I don't know why Paramount chose to omit this episode; without it, this set is hardly The Complete 1st Season, is it?

It's a small flaw in an otherwise top notch package.

Closing Statement

While some may find SpongeBob (and his laugh) annoying, those people aren't going to give this set a try no matter what I say. I'm appealing to fans of animation, comedy, or both. Rent this set (or any of the SpongeBob discs out there), or check it out on Nickelodeon if you get it in your neighborhood. There is much to enjoy, even in the lackluster episodes.

With a retail price of $49.99 for three discs, fans do not need my endorsement to pick this set up.

The Verdict

Not guilty!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 82
Acting: 98
Story: 95
Judgment: 97

Special Commendations

• Golden Gavel 2003 Nominee

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 474 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Cast Commentaries on "Plankton!" and "Karate Choppers"
• "The Origin of SpongeBob SquarePants" Featurette
• "Recollections from the First Season Crew" Featurette
• "Everybody's Talking: The Voices of SpongeBob SquarePants" Featurette
• "Drawing the Goo Lagoon" Featurette
• The Bikini Bottom's Up Tour
• Krusty Krab Karaoke
• "SpongeBob's Life Strategies" Comedy Featurette
• Violent Femmes SpongeBob Music Video
• SpongeBob ScaredyPants Music Video
• SpongeBob DancingPants Music Video


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