Monday, December 26, 2011

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 31: Spongebob Squarepants

Welcome to The Cartoon Historian. It's been a while since I did one of these,huh?.

Mina: Yup. Hope you're not rusty.

I hope not either. Anyway,today we will be taking a look at Spongebob Squarepants.

*The Cartoon Historian Theme Plays*

SpongeBob SquarePants (often referred to simply as SpongeBob) was created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the Lovable Guy and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom.

Mina: The series' popularity has prompted the release of a media franchise, contributing to its position as Nickelodeon's highest rated show. As of 2011, SpongeBob SquarePants is the only Nicktoon from the 1990s that hasn't ended yet. It's also known for being one of Nickelodeon's longest running TV shows.

Much of the series' events take place in Bikini Bottom, an underwater city located in the Pacific Ocean beneath the real life tropical isle of Bikini Atoll. Stephen Hillenburg has stated that much of Bikini Bottom was based on the city of Seattle.

Much of this seems to be true,however,despite implications of the city's location as well as analogies to real life, Hillenburg has stated that he wishes to leave the city isolated from the real world, explaining the Baywatch parody scene from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie as simply a reference to his favorite show of all time.

Mina: So..he's a Baywatch fan.

The citizens of Bikini Bottom live in mostly aquatic-themed buildings, and use "boatmobiles" as a mode of transportation.

Each episode of SpongeBob SquarePants is self-contained, with references to previous episodes being rare. Episodes have ended with the entire town being destroyed, the entire cast being harmed, or other catastrophic events, only for everything to return to normal the next episode without any mention of what happened before.

Mina: The Magic Reset Button,ladies and gentlemen.

SpongeBob SquarePants is an energetic and optimistic young sea sponge (although his appearance more closely resembles a household sponge) who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail, Gary, who meows like a cat. Although,the characters have shown an ability to understand him.

Mina: Fun fact: Apparently,In the Show,Snails are the equivelent to Cats. This seems to be the case in the episodes where other snails are present.

Anyway,Living two houses down from SpongeBob is his best friend, Patrick Star, a dim-witted yet friendly pink seastar who lives under a rock. Even despite his "Mental Setbacks",Patrick still sees himself as intelligent.

SpongeBob's next-door neighbor and co-worker is Squidward Tentacles, an arrogant and ill-tempered squid who lives in an Easter Island moai. He dislikes his neighbors (especially SpongeBob) for their child-like behavior. He enjoys playing the clarinet and painting self-portraits, but hates his job working at the Krusty Krab.

Another close friend of SpongeBob's is Sandy Cheeks, a squirrel from Texas. Sandy is an expert at karate and lives in an underwater tree dome. When not inside her tree dome, she wears an astronaut-like suit because she cannot breathe underwater.

Eugene Krabs is SpongeBob and Squidward's employer and is a former officer cadet for the Bikini Bottom Navy force. He's a miserly crab obsessed with money and the owner of the Krusty Krab restaurant. Mr. Krabs has a whale daughter, Pearl, who is a teenage cheerleader.

Mina: The reason why Mr. Krabs' daughter is a whale is unknown. And it's best left untold.

Mr. Krabs’ archenemy is Sheldon Plankton, a small green copepod who owns a low-rank fast-food restaurant called the Chum Bucket across the street from the Krusty Krab.

Plankton spends most of his time planning to steal the recipe for Mr. Krabs's popular Krabby Patty burgers to obtain success (occasionally with the assistance of his computer wife, Karen),though his schemes always end in failure.

Mina: I like Plankton,he's entertaining. And he kinda sounds like a cartoony verion of Perfect Cell from DBZ.

And Now,The show's backstory.

Creator Stephen Hillenburg initially conceived SpongeBob SquarePants in 1984, while he was teaching and studying marine biology at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute.

During this period, Hillenburg became fascinated with animation,and created a comic book entitled "The Intertidal Zone" starring various anthropomorphic forms of sea life. Many of these characters would evolve into the various SpongeBob SquarePants characters. "Bob the Sponge",who was the co-host of the comic,would become Spongebob himself. However,Bob resembled an actual sea sponge,as opposed to SpongeBob who resembles a household one.

In 1987, Hillenburg left the institute to pursue his dream of becoming an animator, and began to envision the possible concept of a project involving anthropomorphic sea life,drawing several rough sketches.

In 1992, Hillenburg attended the California Institute of the Arts to study animation,having been accepted into the institute by Jules Engel,who was impressed with Hillenburg's previous work.

While attending the animation school,Hillenburg received a job on the children's TV series 'Mother Goose & Grimm',and worked on the series from 1991 to 1993. When attending the California Institute of the Arts, he made a thesis film entitled 'Wormholes',which was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation and was later displayed at various animation festivals.

In 1993, Hillenburg graduated from the institute,earning a Master degree in Fine Arts in experimental animation. In 1995,Joe Murray,creator of Rocko's Modern Life, met Hillenburg at an animation festival,and offered him a job as a director of the series.

Mina: Coolio,so he was involved in onother Nicktoon,not just Spongebob.

Apparently so,Anyway Hillenburg joined the Nickelodeon animated series as a writer, producer,and storyboard artist during the series' third season. He continued his positions for most of the fourth season.

The third season episode "Fish-N-Chumps" (November 12, 1995) was directed by Hillenburg,and involved Rocko,Heffer,and Filburt going on a fishing trip, oblivious to the fact that a pair anthropomorphic fish are attempting to catch them from underwater.

While working on Rocko's Modern Life,Hillenburg became friends with Tom Kenny. He also became friends with Mr. Lawrence and Paul Tibbitt,who would later be involved with the Show.

Rocko's Modern Life ended in 1996. Shortly following this,Hillenburg began working on SpongeBob SquarePants,teaming up with several Nickelodeon veterans and Rocko crew members. To voice the character of SpongeBob,Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny,who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life.

Mina: Originally, SpongeBob was to be named SpongeBoy,but this name was already in use. This was discovered after voice acting for the original seven minute pilot was recorded in 1997. The Nickelodeon legal department discovered that the name was already in use for a mop product. Never heard of it.

Mina: Upon finding this out,Hillenburg decided that the character's name still had to contain "Sponge" so viewers wouldn't mistake the character for a "Cheese Man." *laugh* "Cheese Man". He does kinda resemble a block of chese doesn't he?

Anyway,Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob." He chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and "had a nice ring to it". I think so too.

While pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon executives,Hillenburg donned a Hawaiian shirt, brought along an “underwater terrarium with models of the characters”,and some Hawaiian music to set the theme. The setup was described by Nick executive Eric Coleman as "pretty amazing".

When given money and two weeks to write the pilot episode (“Help Wanted”),Derek Drymon,Stephen Hillenberg,and Nick Jennings returned with something described as “a performance he wished he had on tape” by Nickelodeon official,Albie Hecht.

Although described as stressful by executive producer Derek Drymon,the pitch went “very well”; Kevin Kay and Hecht had to step outside because they were “exhausted from laughing”,making the cartoonists worried.

Mina:well that was strange *shrugs*

Now we'll talk about the Series itself. Starting with the Hillenburg era (1999–2004).

SpongeBob's first season was only a modest success during its initial run after the series' debut in 1999,but the show still garnered enough popularity that Nickelodeon quietly renewed it for a second season. Beginning with this season, production of the series switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint.

Mina: Interesting.

During the second season's run,the show slowly achieved big and world wide popularity,leading to an eventual third season pick-up. The show's continued success soon led to the creation of a feature film called 'The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie'

Mina: Here's an interesting tidbit for ya: The Movie itself was originally intended to serve as the Series Finale. However,shortly after the film's release,Nickelodeon renewed the series for a fourth season,due to the shows popularity.

Thast is interesting. Anyway,Following the film's release,Stephen Hillenburg resigned as the show runner,causing a shift in the series' production crew,as well as several of the series' writers. Following the end of the Hillenburg era,the animation style changed to 3D computer animation (although it would still use digital ink and paint).

Mina:Now for the Post-movie era (2005–present).

The series' fourth season began in May 2005.A fifth season was ordered months later on December 2005. This brought the show’s total episode count to 100.

In December 2006,SpongeBob was approved for a sixth season. During Season 5,Nickelodeon began airing a special event called the "SpongeBob New–New–New–New–New–Week". In this event,a new episode would airfrom Monday to Friday. This continued until the end of the second week.

Later on November 12,2007,a TV movie aired titled Atlantis SquarePantis, guest starring David Bowie as the voice of Lord Royal Highness. In March 2008,it was announced that SpongeBob would have an additional 39 episodes and a seventh season. These new episodes included the remaining episodes of the 6th season.

Mina:On July 14, 2009,a primetime SpongeBob tenth anniversary documentary titled Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants,aired on VH1,discussing the history of the show,and its impact on popular culture. Of course,that was back before the Cartoon Historian,so you had no choice if you wanted to get informed about the history of Spongebob.

Right,Mina. Starting on July 17, 2009 at 8:00 PM EST, Nickelodeon aired a 2-day marathon titled "The Ultimate SpongeBob Sponge Bash." The marathon included the premiere of 11 new episodes,countdowns of celebrities' and viewer-chosen top 10 episodes,and more.

On November 6, 2009,a second TV movie debuted on Nickelodeon, titled 'Truth or Square',in which SpongeBob,Patrick,Squidward,and Mr. Krabs are accidentally locked inside the Krusty Krab freezer on the night of the restaurant's eleventy-seventh anniversary celebration. While trapped inside,the friends look back on their shared memories with "shocking" reveals.

Mina: In otherwords,it was a Clip-Show.

Several celebrities made live-action cameo appearances on Truth or Square. I'll let you find out whjo was in this thing for yourselves. Also Victoria Beckham lent her voice as Queen Amphitrite,in the episode "The Clash of Triton,"..Which aired on July 5,2010.

Mina: SpongeBob SquarePants is currently slated to surpass Rugrats as the longest running Nicktoon in number of episodes. Rugrats aired 172 episodes in its run; SpongeBob, when the eighth season completes.will have 178.

The series was further extended to a ninth season this past January 2011,bringing its total to 204 episodes. It will become the first Nicktoon to reach 200 episodes. It will also be the second Nicktoon to have made it to its ninth season. The eighth season started this past March.

Mina: It's also worth noting that most episodes contain a French Narrator,done by Tom Kenny. He speaks at the start of some episodes and during intertitles with a French accent. He is shown in the series as a scuba diver with a TV camera.

Mina: On the November 16,2004 episode of the NPR program 'Fresh Air with Terry Gross', Kenny admitted that Jacques Cousteau was the inspiration for the French narrator,as series creator Stephen Hillenburg considered him an icon.

Mina: Now we discuss the Music.

The theme music was composed by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg and Blaise Smith as part of Hank Smith Music,and is primarily based on the sea shanty, "Blow the Man Down". The song is sung by Painty the Pirate,voiced by Patrick Pinney,and can be found on the soundtrack 'SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Theme Highlights'. A cover of the song by Avril Lavigne can be found on the 'SpongeBob SquarePants Movie' soundtrack.

Another cover by the Violent Femmes,which aired as a commercial on Nickelodeon to promote season two,can be viewed in a special feature of the 'Nautical Nonsense/Sponge Buddies' DVD. A choral version was recorded for the SpongeBob Christmas special where the last repetition of "SpongeBob SquarePants" was replaced by, "It's the SpongeBob Christmas special."

The theme song is occasionally used in marching ads. An instrumental version of the opening theme is used in Italy. The series' music editor and main composer is Nicolas Carr.

Most of the background music used in the series comes from the Associated Production Music (APM) Library, some of which have also been used in shows such as The Simpsons,The Ren & Stimpy Show,Rocko's Modern Life,The X Factor,Bill Nye the Science Guy,and The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

For competition-based episodes,some of Sam Spence's NFL Films music is used (such as "A Golden Boy Again" used in episodes such as The Fry Cook Games and "Ramblin' Man from Gramblin" is used in Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V.

"The Lineman" is also used extensively in Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy episodes). Ironically,one of Spence's more famous NFL songs is an orchestral version of "Drunken Sailor" called "Up She Rises",first suggested by Steven Sabol to his father Ed because he liked the song at summer camp.

Hawaiian steel guitar music is used for comedic and dramatic effect in the show. Various compositions featuring the Hawaiian steel convey happy,sad,or goofy emotions and situations.

Many are traditional Hawaiian melodies such as "Aloha 'Oe" and are usually sampled from the above-mentioned APM music library.From time to time,these songs are performed by classic steel guitar artists...including The Woodies,The Langhorns,and The MelTones.

Creator Hillenburg states that much of the music in the series was inspired by 1950s Hawaiian steel guitar tunes. Another aspect of the series' musical score is traditional sea shanties, which are used for the musical themes in the show. The most commonly used song in the series is "Drunken Sailor," though a ukulele version of the "Twelfth Street Rag" is often heard in the background as well. Unlike other Nickelodeon shows,SpongeBob features well-known independent musicians who contribute to its soundtrack.

Mina: Alternative rock bands,as well as metal bands have made appearances on the show and movies soundtracks. Which bands? You'll have to find out for yourself,because ,I ain't tellin'.

Like We mentioned,SB had a movie.On November 19,2004, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies produced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,a film adaption of the SpongeBob SquarePants animated series.

The film was directed by series creator Stephen Hillenburg,and was written by long-time series writers Hillenburg, Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer, and Paul Tibbitt. Nickelodeon official Albie Hecht, Drymon, Hillenburg, Julia Pistor, and Gina Shay produced the film, while much of the film's music was composed by Gregor Narholz.

The film follows SpongeBob,who expects to gwt promoted to manager of Mr. Krabs' new restaurant,The Krusty Krab 2 (although this restaurant is never seen or mentioned for the rest of the series). However,the position is given to Squidward instead,causing our favorite child-like sponge to go into a state of depression.

Jealous of Mr. Krabs' success,Plankton initiates his ultimate plan,Plan Z,which involves framing Mr. Krabs for the theft of King Neptune's crown. SpongeBob and Patrick then go on a quest to retrieve Neptune's crown and save the lives of both Mr. Krabs and the rest of Bikini Bottom from Plankton's scheme.

The film received a largely positive critical reception and grossed over $140 million worldwide.

Mina: My favorite part was with the Pirates at the begining and ending. That was funny.

Sure was. SpongeBob SquarePants was the first "low budget" Nickelodeon cartoon to become extremely popular. Low-budget cartoons had not garnered as much esteem as higher-rated,higher-budgeted shows,although when SpongeBob SquarePants aired in 1999,it had gained a significant enough number of viewers in the ratings to be considered popular,eventually reaching worldwide popularity by 2001.

SpongeBob follows other Nickelodeon shows that have attracted "older" followers. In fact,The Fairly OddParents won a similar fan base when it premiered in 2001,and is now second only to SpongeBob in popularity.

Though the show debuted in 1999, SpongeBob did not become hugely popular until around 2000,and it has remained popular since then. Since 2004,IGN made SpongeBob SquarePants 15th in its 'top 100 animated series of all time' list.

Mina: Wow. Oh,before we go I'd like to talk more about another special Spongebob Character..Patchy the Pirate. Patchy the Pirate,played by Tom Kenny,is a live-action character who is a pirate and the president of the SpongeBob fan club who lives in the city of Encino, California.

Mina: He's the host of the various Spongebob specials. Although sometimes it is just a title sequence of him saying "this is a spongebob special". He has a puppet parrot called,Potty. Potty likes to pull pranks on Patchy and shuns him at almost every episode they appear on.

Spongebob is the only show on nick nowadays that is worth watching. It's a damn fine show and I recommend watching it.

Mina: Amen,Stefan.

Well I hope you enjoyed this Final (atleast for now) New Episode of the Cartoon Historian. Because Starting Next Year,I'll be Redoing most of my Earlier Lessons.

Mina: Well,they Are kinda slopily done.

This Is The Cartoon Historian,saying until next time,Stay Gold.

Mina: Laters.

*fade to black. credits roll as the Spongebob Squarepants closing theme plays*

1 comment:

KingsSideCastle said...

:-D I never got the chance to watch Spongebob but it does look like a wild cartoon to watch. Nice overview of the show. ^_^