(Review) The 2016 Pilot of Cartoon Network’s Upcoming Series ‘Summer Camp Island’

You often find an original pilot of a series that is set to be shown on TV screens near you. I find it as a way to prepare ourselves and get a taste of what a series has to offer. Of course, series creators usually do some tweaking and changing to their program and you will most likely always see something different between the pilot and the final product.

Today, we’re looking at Summer Camp Island, which may be exactly what it sounds and much more. This cartoon was created by former animator and writer from Adventure Time, Julia Pott, and was greenlit and set to air on Cartoon Network in Summer 2018. Above anything, Julia is known for her unique animated shorts that can be found on YouTube. I must say that she has done a good job at creating her own style, so much that you can spot a series created by her from a mile away.

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So what has Pott unleashed on us with her 2016 pilot of Summer Camp Island exactly? How about a Summer camp full of bizarre and unusual situations? The camp counselors are popular girls who know magic (aka WITCHES), talking pajamas, monsters under the bed that are nosey and more oddities that you just don’t find at a normal Summer camp. Not to mention it’s all on an island. All of these strange happenings seems to overwhelm a fourteen-year-old anthropomorphic Elephant named Oscar, who misses his normal life outside of camp, so he plans a sleepover for himself and his best friend Hedgehog, who he also happens to have a crush on. Bad news for Oscar, because Hedgehog invites some others to the party including Max, an anthropomorphic badger who plays the role of the typical careless and jerk-ish teenage boy in a backwards hat and hoodie. Max is clearly the apple of Hedgehog’s eye and she gives him all of her undivided attention, which infuriates Oscar and ruins his original sleepover plans.

Just like the overall series itself, the world inside of Summer Camp Island is a roller coaster ride of strange and peculiar emotions. You can’t help but empathize with main character Oscar and feeling like a third wheel when someone you’re crushing over is all over someone THEY are crushing over. The series did a great job of totally spinning a kid’s usual experience at a Summer Camp into something out of a trippy dream. Trippy, as in almost everything was coming to life, including a pair of pajamas and a slice of pizza. Although, I do have to say that for a teenager, Oscar is a bit too child-like. So much that if his mother didn’t reveal his age in the beginning, you wouldn’t put him past ten years old. The same goes for Hedgehog, who I think shows her more mature side when Max is around. I’m not implying that they should act reckless, ride skateboards or drink coffee just because they’re teenagers, but the sleepover activities kind of screamed fifth grade.

With all of that being said, my B- rating does not change the fact that I 100% still want to see this show happen on Cartoon Network this Summer. I have to admit that the “nice guys finish last” lesson that came in plain sight at the end of the episode really surprised me. I was expecting the typical “good guys finish first” followed by a monologue from Hedgehog about how she doesn’t really like Max and that Oscar is the one she loved all along. Or Max ends up screwing things up with Hedgehog and her feeling magically bounce to Oscar. Really relieved that things weren’t so predictable with this one, but poor Oscar. The animation is something that is unique, but it’s going to take some getting used to of course. It’s definitely a different style from the series airing on Cartoon Network at the moment, so it makes me wonder whether the series will fit or not. We’ll just have to wait and see! We’ll keep you updated for an official release date for Summer Camp Island.

Fun Fact: Summer Camp Island is set to be the second series in Cartoon Network history to be solely created by a woman.

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The Music of Adventure Time: Interview with Composer Tim Kiefer

Just as Cartoon Network’s hit series Adventure Time is on its final countdown before the epic finale, what a better way say our goodbyes than taking the time to appreciate the best aspects of the series. Adventure Time took place in the mystical land of Ooo where many fascinating oddities galore. Jake the dog and Finn the human, the inseparable duo found themselves in an endless number of adventures along with other characters such as Princess Bubblegum, Beemo, Lumpy Space Princess, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Ice King and more. Adventure Time is something that you would think came straight out of a magical, colorful, unique daydream. If you’re pleased with the visuals, then you’ve definitely heard the music behind the show.

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The story lines and adventures that came about in this series was everything, but the musical composition behind those scenes made it all tie together in a perfect knot. Think of a mystical and enchanting, followed by epic, and you’ll get the music from Adventure Time. Since the beginning, there has been some musical masterminds behind the soundtrack of this show, and I am honored to have a chance to speak with one of them. Upon the ending of Adventure Time, I am honored to have had the chance to interview composer Tim Kiefer about his favorite musical moments and best memories from working on the past 10 seasons of Adventure Time.

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Cartoon Buzz: Hi Tim! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. So you have been working on Adventure Time as a composer for a majority of the episodes. Tell me a bit about the process it takes to compose a track for the adventurous & mystical series.

Tim Kiefer: Hey! Yeah, it’s been a long time and a lot of episodes. For the most part Pen/Adam would relay the mood and timing of what they wanted, then let me choose my own musical palette. That freedom meant I could mess around with all my favorite musical influences – Scandinavian skweee, Southside Chicago juke or footwork, 8bit nostalgia, or braindance – so long as I was expressive and earnest. I’d have as much as 2 weeks for some episodes and as little as 4 days for others, so some would be super intricate and polished while others were raw and edgy. Either way there was a beauty to how each came together.

Cartoon Buzz: So you collaborated with creator Pendleton Ward throughout the series. What are some moments that you’ll never forget while working with the man behind the show?

Tim Kiefer: Most of all, developing a sound with Casey around Pen’s “buddy music” concept, in which bros are just relaxed, comfortable and imaginative. It was at the very least grounding, if not meditative.
Cartoon Buzz: When composing music for the show, did you often envision viewers like me listening to it? How did you want us to feel or react?
Tim Kiefer: I wanted to paint vivid sound paintings that brought viewers deeeep into the Adventure Time universe as they watched. And most importantly, keep everyone happily on their toes – mashing up esoteric music movements with familiar pop sounds, finding weird ways to play normal instruments, you name it. Just constantly reinforcing how unique and magical the alternate reality of Ooo was.

Cartoon Buzz: How did you get into being a composer? Is it something that you always saw yourself doing or did you become inspired along the way?

Tim Kiefer: Well, I have this eerily accurate epitaph I made as a little kid for school or something, it reads: “Here lies Tim. He made millions of people happy with his music.” I guess it was just always the plan.
Cartoon Buzz: What was it like working on the series early on compared to working on the last episode?

Tim Kiefer: The whole Adventure Time universe was simpler back in the old days, and so was the music. The characters didn’t have much to worry about so there was a lot of chill “buddy music” or party tunes. After 8 years, the series ends on a pretty serious note and you can really feel the weight and complexity of the characters’ journey embedded in the music. I can’t help but tear up when I watch through the finale, it’s so emotionally loaded.
Cartoon Buzz: What are your favorite musical moments from the past 10 seasons?
Tim Kiefer: A few: Fionna & Prince Gumball talking about butts in “Fionna & Cake”, Bananaman’s workout music in “The New Frontier”, Oh What A Good Boy Am I montage in “Five More Short Graybles”, Megamush battle in “Mama Said”.

Cartoon Buzz: I’ll regret not asking this later if I don’t, and this may be a toughie, but who is your all time favorite character on Adventure Time?

Tim Kiefer: I’m a Tree Trunks guy!

Cartoon Buzz: If you could describe Adventure Time in FIVE words, what would they be?

Tim Kiefer: The Hero’s Journey Meets Spongebob

Cartoon Buzz: Many fans are heartbroken that Adventure Time is ending. Is there anything you would like to say to them?

Tim Kiefer: Keep it going in your own way.. it’s everyone’s story to finish.

 

And that’s the end folks! I want to thank Tim Kiefer for taking the time to chat with me!

The 10 Times ‘Braceface’ Was Too Real for a Kids Show

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You might wanna buckle up for this one, because I’m about to dive into a show that got too real at numerous times. Think of an early 2000s teenage cartoon with ten times the drama, and you’ll get Braceface. Much like other tween series like As Told by Ginger, Braceface centers a awkward yet smart teenage girl who longs for popularity, with two best friends by her side. Oh and I definitely don’t want to forget crushes and mean girls. Sadly, this show came and went with only three seasons to religiously watch, but there are some major aspects of Braceface that set it aside from any other kids show.

It still surprises me that this show ever aired on Disney Channel, but it did. Sharon Spitz and her life with braces seemed quite miserable for a teenager, but despite the show being centered around her metal mouth, there are numerous topics touched in this series that was way too real. For that reason, I consider Braceface to be the realest teen series to ever air. Sure, there are shows out there covered most of the topics that would’ve never been spoken of in a kids show like 40 years ago. But they often sugar-coated it. Braceface straight up set these topics on the table and didn’t bother to tone it down much. I give the series all of the credit in the world for that, because it takes guts to feature some of these issues on kids networks like Disney Channel. Let’s dive into these said issues.

1) When the subject of divorce came up.

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The topic of divorce comes up in many shows aimed at kids and teens. It’s sometimes censored by networks in order to maintain a kid show’s innocent image, but that definitely wasn’t the case in this show. In Braceface, Sharon’s mother and father are divorced. Sharon and her brothers seem to live a nice life with their mother and you get the impression that they understand the divorce but are not too upset about it. In episode 9, titled “The Divorce Thing”, this subject is brought to the table when Sharon’s mom is dating again and her father comes to visit. She attempts bring her parents back together, but has to face the harsh reality that somethings people who once loved each other grow apart, even your parents.

2) When Sharon got her first period. DURING HER FIRST DATE.

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Menstruation in a kids show? You would have never thought you’d see that topic, but in episode 8, titled “The Worst First Date Ever. Period.”, Sharon meets her monthly friend sent by mother nature for the very first time. While on her first date with her crush Alden, Sharon starts to experience painful cramps to the point where she thought she was experiencing appendicitis. Alden calls the ambulance and Sharon is sent to the hospital, where she finds out that she has actually started her menstrual cycle. I’m a little skeptical about how the episode played out. All I can assume is that Sharon’s mother obviously never had that little talk with her before, because from what I’ve learned in my 21 years of being a female, is that I’m pretty sure menstrual cramps hurts way less than something as serious and life threatening as appendicitis.

3) Underage drinking.

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If this series hasn’t gotten real for you yet, then how about we discuss the time Sharon got drunk from rum and cokes when visiting her dad in Miami. In episode 14, titled “Miami Vices”, Sharon gets sick of her mom’s strict rules and wants to let loose by going on vacation to Miami to visit her rock star dad and indulge in his “cooler” life. Sharon learns that her dad can be just as strict as her mom despite his career choice, when he finds Sharon drunk and partying with his friends. Once again, still shocked that Disney Channel allowed this to air, but bravo for the writers and directors for creating this episode, because it shows that these things tend to happen for teenagers. On vacation in Miami, strict mom with rules isn’t around, out partying with rock star dad’s cool friends, and there’s alcohol? Like I said, it happens.

4) Sexuality and the unfortunate adversity that comes with it.

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Yes, there was an openly gay character on Braceface, and yes, he faces awful mistreatment from other students because of it. This has to be the absolute realest topic ever displayed on Braceface, due to the fact that Dion being openly gay was one of the reasons that the third season did not air in the U.S. But before he was openly gay on the show, his sexuality was wrongly called into question by other students in episode 27, titled “The Social Fabric”. Sharon was paired up with Dion as a part of the senior mentor program at their school, and she found herself in a dilemma of choosing whether to drop him as a friend to avoid harassment as well or stick by him. Homophobia and bigotry is alive and well, especially towards young people in schools that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I applaud Braceface for touching on this important subject for its viewers.


Braceface, Vol. 1: Brace Yourself

5) Love and relationships.

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Having a crush can be a very stressful and confusing time as a teenager. You think that the person you’re “in love” is the only person you’ll ever be smitten over. Braceface proved this to be the case when displaying the affection Sharon had toward Alden. We soon see the two dating in season 2 but Alden doesn’t find it easy being Sharon’s boyfriend. The two break up in episode 30 titled “Dear Alden” when Sharon wrote a letter of frustration about him and it accidentally ends up on the school website. Alden later starts dating a girl named Marlo, but we discover that he still has feelings for Sharon on the last episode. It was just a crazy rollercoaster with these two. Maria also began dating Alden’s best friend Brock towards the end of junior high and onward.

6) The dangers of extreme diets.

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This is one of Braceface’s more infamous episodes that was often aired on Disney Channel, and I’m glad it was. In episode 34, titled “Skin Deep”, Nina’s makes disparaging comments about Sharon’s body, which causes Sharon to go on a crash diet before participating in a fashion show. Maria and Connor take notice in the effects of Sharon’s dangerous diet and they began to worry about her. While Sharon walks the runway, she collapses from starvation. Another great episode to school the kids on how harmful body shaming can be. It’s straight up bullying and I hope other girls who experience what Sharon experienced talk to someone instead of resorting to crash diets. Speaking of bullying…

7) Bullying.

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Introducing Nina. She’s a mean girl, but not a typical one. I like to think of her as slightly less wicked than Miranda Killgallen, but still wicked nonetheless. Nina and her bullying antics have gone too far at times. She’s basically the reason that Sharon starved herself and fainted on the fashion runway. Dealing with blatant bullying and mean girls is a common theme in shows with teen characters, and it’s another topic that Braceface did well on. Something that is painfully obvious about bully characters like Nina is the insecurity that they have for themselves. Being in their own skin hurts them so bad that they unleash all of their fury on the protagonist character.


Braceface, Vol. 2: Getting Real

8) Blatant Racism.

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If there’s any subject that I’m glad Braceface touched on it’s the subject of racism and pushing offensive stereotypes. In episode 35, titled “Grey Matters”, Maria began dating an Arab boy named Cloud. Sharon can’t help but think that Cloud might be abusing Maria. On top of it all Sharon’s grandfather began making racist comments towards Cloud such as asking Maria if she’s “a part of his harem” and asking him when he’s going to “get his own camel”. To ignite an even bigger fire in his bigoted furnace, he states that he shouldn’t lend it to Maria because “Chinese are such bad drivers”. Words cannot simply describe how furious I was after watching that scene. Oh wait, they can. I wanted Cloud to bounce that basketball off of Sharon’s grandpa’s head twenty times in a row. Cloud was the coolest when handling those offensive comments by throwing jokes right back at him. But Sharon… OH SHARON. You naive little… you know what. At least she learns at the end, especially when she gets a dose of her grandfather telling her how he let her mother marry a “rockstar… and a jew no less”. Kudos to Braceface for teaching viewers the sad reality of bigots.

9) Underage smoking.

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The peer pressure that many teens are faces with is unfortunate. In episode 52, titled “Up in Smoke”, Sharon moves in with her father and his girlfriend. She meets her potential step brother named Griffin, who’s a juvenile delinquent. He persuades Sharon into smoking a cigarette with him, until she finally takes a puff and finds it disgusting. The second time a use of addictive or mind-altering substance has been featured on this series.

10) Body image issues.

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Just so you know, this episode was banned in the U.S. and several other countries. In episode 58, titled “Busted”, Sharon is tired of being seen as a little girl and decides to enhance the look of her breasts with a pump bra. She soon runs into trouble when she starts attracting unwanted attention from the wrong kind of guys and when her bra ends up malfunctioning at a party. It’s understandable that this episode was banned, because there are certain lines, and I guess Disney Channel decided not to cross this one. What I don’t understand is how so many episodes got away with being aired on Disney, not that I’m complaining. This show was a fantastic addition to the lineup of my childhood, but I’ve always imagined it airing on The-N (what TeenNick used to be called). It definitely catered more to the teenage audience rather than kids, and this list proves it.


Braceface, Vol. 3: Twist of Fate

4 Animated Series That Must Be Revived

There’s always that one show that you feel like shouldn’t have ended, gotten cancelled or left to be abandoned by it’s writers and network. It can leave the viewers in tears or outrage, or even both. I would watch finales of my favorite cartoons and often thought, “That’s it?”. Or if a show was simply not renewed for another season and then time would go by and I’d be like… what happened to _______? I mean, back then I was too young to understand what cancelling or ending a show was, and too young to look up news about the show on the web. There are some of my favorite shows that I just feel should’ve gotten justice. In my opinion, these shows could’ve gone on longer even if it’s just a bit. And it’s not just because they’re my favorite shows…… Ok, it kinda is but that as well as they had potential for more seasons.

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It was a bummer that this show wasn’t even one of Nickelodeon’s most popular Nicktoons. Don’t get me wrong, it was my top favorite show on Nickelodeon and it still is, and many people can relate to me on that. I’m saying it deserved popularity status like SpongeBob or Fairly OddParents, because this show got real on many levels. Ginger Foutley learned she was one-quarter Jewish and introduced Nick viewers to another religion & holiday. Her little brother Carl Foutley was an atheist, which was mentioned by their mother Lois Foutley in A Lesson in Tightropes, while Carl was praying in a hospital church when he thought his big sister was going to die. The topic of death showed up a number of times on this series, along with suicide and depression. They should’ve moved the show to The-N, now known as TeenNick, and made more mature episodes covering more real issues while the characters were in high school. I guess the show got too real for Nickelodeon. #RIPATBG.

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I’m having flashbacks of my 10 year old self sneaking out of bed at 3AM & turning to Comedy Central to watch this show in the den. Or when it wasn’t on sometimes, I would watch it on Comedy Central On-Demand. This show is too much for words, or at least this post. Drawn Together made Family Guy & South Park look like kid’s shows. With it’s racist jokes, homophobic jokes, abortion jokes, high level sexual content, a pig pooping in a cantaloupe, Drawn Together wasn’t meant for the sensitive beings. The show took major risks with it’s filthy nature and left many original jokes in it’s episodes, and that’s what really made this show grow to be one of my top favorites. It’s cancellation was announced in 2008 and the movie and final farewell to the housemates was released on April 20, 2010. The movie ended with the characters being erased from existence, which left me unimpressed and amused. Drawn Together wasn’t ready for cancellation. This show had potential to have more than three seasons, simple as that. #ReDrawDrawnTogether

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Another kids/preteens show that got real. An animated Canadian series that took America by storm. Though ATBG did cover puberty, Braceface went all out and had an episode where the main character Sharon, had her period during a date with her love interest, Alden. Poor Alden, thinking Sharon was dying, called 9-11. No need for an ambulance buddy, it’s just mother nature releasing her monthly wrath, that’s all. This show even covered racism, a major topic that was unthinkable in kid’s shows at the time but did show up in a few. After Sharon’s grandfather made racist comments about Maria and her boyfriend, Maria is worried that his bigotry might have rubbed off on Sharon. This series also dealt with body image, sexuality, and anorexia. Braceface has many similarities to As Told By Ginger, but mostly the fact that both series started with the main characters in middle school and ended right when during their high school years. Makes no sense! At least make the series last until they finish high school. There are many more challenges this show could’ve covered. #Justice4Braceface

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An anime that us black kids related to, and it came with a lot of comedy as well. It was the perfect combo for a show, and The Boondocks was definitely a show to remember. The way it covered the struggles of being black in a white neighborhood was spot on. It’s portrayal of celebrities & pop culture was pure comedic and slightly too accurate for words. After season 3 aired, a few years passed by and it had been thought that the show was cancelled or simply abandoned. Then season 4 happened and fans rejoiced, only to find out the series was ending. You can’t just abandon a great show like The Boondocks for years and then come back with such a great season, then end it all. I say bring the show back for about four more seasons, and show the freeman boys growing up and getting some major character development. Then, the show could end with a bang that will shock the viewers. But not a cliffhanger though, Boondocks fans have been through enough. #BringBackBoondocks

Do you agree or disagree with that any of these shows should be brought back to life? Or what about any other show that wasn’t listed? Comment below!