Nubbin But Trouble 305
Again, Stan Against Evil has done an excellent job giving us two back to back episodes–including one of my favorite ‘themed’ episodes they’ve ever produced. Nubbin But Trouble plays on the ‘evil doll’ theme, bringing us evil, homicidal muppets. I love the way that Dana Gould’s mind works– he never provides us a carbon copy of any trope or theme, but spins it in an unexpected way that brings both humor and a fresh new face to the terror. Because I’ll tell you one thing–I hate ventriloquist dummies, but now I’m starting to think muppets might have it in for us, too.
So yes, the episode centers around Marty Nubbins, a muppet from an old 70s puppet show that Denise and Leon watched–they even know the theme song. The look on Evie’s face is priceless, as she clearly doesn’t understand the fascination with this–but it doesn’t really matter, as Denise is the one taking home Marty, not Evie.
Now, what is Stan doing while Denise is buying/taking weird muppets home with her? Well, making beer. He’s decided he doesn’t want to pay for his alcoholism anymore, and instead will just make his own booze. He makes a big point to Denise that if he doesn’t ferment the beer it could turn into jet fuel, so remember that for later.
In typical ‘evil doll/puppet’ fashion, Nubbins watches Denise while she sleeps, despite her attempts to put him away. In retaliation, she throws him in the trash…which of course will lead to that muppet going rogue. Really, if a muppet I bought was caught watching me, I’d burn it immediately, not just throw it in a trash can.
By the way, that beer Stan is producing? Toxic. Surprising no one, a few sips of Stan’s beer makes him blind. Not surprising to me, instead of being upset over it, Stan is very zen about it, thinking that it allows him to, “see with [his] ears like Jesus.” You know–basically all the tropes of ‘magical blind person’ set in Stan. Now what I love about the show is that it never confirms if he really is having his other senses heightened, or if he’s just delusional. But hey, does it really matter? It’s fun!
Speaking of fun, watching Nubbins attempt to murder Stan by biting him to death was hilarious, especially as our new ‘super senses’ Stan decided to bite back, as it were. Poor (?) Nubbins ends up losing the battle…and an arm, and part of his neck. You have to give John C. McGinley–he makes fighting with a muppet look badass.
Licking his wounds, Nubbins decides to attack Kevin via the power of very loud ‘Learn Japanese’ records and duct tape. It clearly doesn’t work, leaving him to go awaken the other muppets from the show. So now we have a gang of muppets against our gang of protagonists. Cue some great Warriors and Aliens references. Seriously, even in a muppet/doll themed episode, we have the writers slipping in other homages to great films.
The standoff in Kevin’s house really shows how well Stan Against Evil can get atmosphere right: no matter how ridiculous the premises is (murderous muppets) the show takes it seriously, and provides some amazing scenes.
True to form, Evie saves the day by using a previously mentioned barrel of Stan’s poison-alcohol and her own squad car to blow up the muppets. It’s a great end to the episode, and leads really well into the next one.
Vampire Creek 306
I’ve enjoyed a lot of episodes of Stan Against Evil, but as I said above, I think this one may be my favorite. Perhaps it’s the focus on Denise (who I adore), the ridiculousness of vampires, or the wonderful performances provided by the entire cast (and the guest star, Chris Mintz-Plasse). For an episode that didn’t move the overall plot forward, this was a singularly enjoyable half-hour of television.
Everything in this episode is centered around Vampire Creek, a True-Blood/Vampire Diaries spoof that both Evie and Denise love–and Stan doesn’t understand. Which hey, I get…my dad didn’t understand my love of Teen Wolf, but he supported it. We also find out that Denise loves the show so much, that she won a fan-fiction writing contest… a slash fan-fiction contest. I appreciate that the show doesn’t poke fun at the idea, besides that ‘slash’ just means everything becomes gay. Because, well…that is the tl;dr of it all. But Denise’s passion (it is her second favorite hobby!) for it is just fun to see, and it’s clear that we are meant to be laughing with her, and not at her. And heck, it caused her to win a piece of the Vampire Creek set! A mirror! …well, a mirror given to her specifically to seduce her, but look, she won a prize.
So excited over winning, Denise wants to celebrate with Kevin, but he’s too busy wanting to better himself as a digger, moving from graves to swimming pools. She feels neglected, so when the mirror starts to talk to her, she doesn’t hesitate to allow it to suck her into the world of Vampire Creek, where the lead, Zach (a demon vampire working for Constable Eccles of course) wants to turn her into a vampire and take her to prom. That idea isn’t actually very far fetched, considering some of the things I’ve seen on Teen Wolf–but Denise, to her credit, knows that “tv shows aren’t real,” and thinks she’s either hallucinating or dreaming.
I have to give a shout out to Chris Mintz-Plasse right here. We’ve seen him as a vampire before in Fright Night, but here as Zach, he’s melodramatic, hilarious, and genuinely elevates the episode to the next level. His attempts at seduction and subsequent frustration at Denise’s reluctance since she won’t ever be able to have pop tarts again, is brilliant.
Stan wakes up in the middle of the night, and once he realizes that Denise isn’t in her bed, immediately stomps off to Kevin’s and accuses him of murdering her. Honestly, we often see Stan seem dismissive of his daughter, and seeing him trying to find her is sweet. Well, sweet in Stan’s way, at least.
Of course, while this is happening, Evie ends up getting sucked into the mirror, just in time to stop Denise from killing a hobo so Zach can drink his blood. Which sounds horrible, but Denise is following dream logic, so it would have been fine. Still, Zach bites Evie instead, and while she is pissed she’s a vampire now–it is a seriously good look on Janet Varney.
Things aren’t going so well in the world of Vampire Creek, as Denise is getting annoyed over how clingy Zach is, and Evie is upset that no one wants her–leading her to drink way too much blood at the vampire prom. Janet does an amazing job with the drunk-acting here, especially when she offends the leader of a coven by mistaking his name, Bart, for Fart. Highbrow humor at its best.
Surprising no one, back in Willard’s Mill, Leon helps no one, leading both Stan and Kevin to get trapped in the mirror world as well–all because Leon doesn’t understand how to hold onto a rope.
At vampire prom, Stan gets turned into a vampire (and seems surprisingly all right with this), and Kevin makes a very heartfelt plea for Denise to come back with him, pushing through a load of vampires (hey I see our resident creature-feature Mick Ignis out of monster-makeup!) to do so…and gets bit for his troubles.
His speech does get Denise to change her mind, learning the only way to set her friends free is to stake them through the heart, killing them. She goes about this with a passion, telling her dad she’ll, “enjoy killing [him] most of all.” Which, again, is very sweet for Denise. She also kills Zach, which releases her from the mirror–setting everything to rights again.
Seriously, if you couldn’t tell, I loved this episode. While not as ‘horror’-filled as some of the others, the comedy was pitch perfect, and I truly enjoyed the story and everyone’s performances. The one-two punch of tonight’s episodes highlight why this show is so damn fun.