Your milk makes me sour. Strawberry Shortcake:
The Purple Pie Man Cometh. HAH!

Matt - 6.26.02 /// Previous ArticleX-ENext Article

I don't know much about Strawberry Shortcake, but really, I'm not supposed to. It's not like guys who name their cat 'Custard' and run around scribbling love notes like Apple Dumpling have terrific social standing. I'm in a terrible position enough as it is with my hairdo and fascination with fondue pots - it's not like I need any additives to prove I'm a loser. Still, eventually, I was going to have to review this one. I really can't escape it if I want to have the net's largest archive of crappy retro toon reviews. I've chosen today to review it simply because I already have a headache and I may as well breeze through this while I'm already in pain.

The only thing I really recall about SS from my childhood are the couple of girls in elementary school who had Shortcake lunchboxes. It must've been in Kindergarten or at the latest, 2nd grade, because all the kids in our class deemed lunchboxes totally uncool by the third grade. You couldn't bring one into the school without being heckled, so everyone either ate school-bought 'hot' lunch or had their parents put it in bags. Personally, I was never too upset with the downfall of the lunchbox since the last one I remember having was of the Tonka Go-Bots variety, so even before they went out of style I was the focus of ridicule. You know, now that I think about it, lunch time in elementary school was pretty fucked up...

We all used to have these competitions with our juice boxes to see which of us had the highest percentage of 'real juice.' The kids who had 10% all sat together, with the lucky 100% group sitting far away, mocking them. As much as I loved Ssips iced tea juice boxes, I'd give my mother Hell every time she bought one, because the percentage was 10% and it meant I'd be sitting with Billy, who pissed himself, and John, the only kid in class who was balding. It got to the point where people were drinking boring shit like pure orange juice and liquid cranberry extract just so they could sit on the cool side of the table. And you thought self-loathing, Tracey Gold, and Cosmo were the only inspirations for eating disorders.

Oh yeah, Strawberry Shortcake. I'll say this about the show: I recognized that it was meant both for people of the opposite sex and for people around fifteen years younger than myself, but the show still succeeded in really making me want cake. The title of this megaspecial is The World of Strawberry Shortcake, which must have been the first episode, if any others even exist. I dunno, I ain't looking that shit up. Because this is one of those shows that words really can't do justice, I've included a download of the entire episode which follows the review. Much like operating heavy machinery, I don't recommend watching it while under the influence or while severely depressed, as it just might be the straw that breaks your camel's back. Only watch it when you're babysitting, baking, or trying on your cousin's panties.

The Sun is a major character in the story, even more so than in most raisin commercials. He's sort of like that guitar-totin' snowman from Rudolph, only a little more intense because he hasn't adopted Uatu's policy of not getting involved in the action. Since he's friends with Shortcake, it'll take a god damned miracle for any villain to do her in. It must be pretty hard to do bad things when the sun could just shoot fire at you on a whim.

Shortcake is pretty much like any cartoon six-year-old - pretty vapid and stupid. I didn't realize that all these characters were supposed to be an inch or so tall, but I guess I'm just a big idiot because otherwise they'd be living in cakes the size of volcanoes. Indeed, they are little people. Shortcake spends most of her days watering flowers and fruit, actions which are accompanied by really terrible songs that place the word 'berry' in the stead of 'very' and repeat the process long enough to where you realize it was never particularly funny or clever to begin with. Okay, okay, now I'm just being whiny. Berry berry whiny.

Oh yeah, the Sun tells us that today is a berry special day - it's Shortcake's birthday! Now that we've got our plot derivative, we can meet the villain. All these years I thought this show was about some superheroine who called upon the power of strawberries, when in fact it's just a show about little kids who just harvest strawberries and wear silly hats. I should've reviewed Rainbow Brite.

Okay, the bad guy: The Peculiar Purple Pie Man. He's a lot like Gargamel, only he just wants strawberries for his pies - he never once makes a noble attempt to eat the kids or turn them into gold, and he's flanked by some stupid crows instead of a certain cat I like to do voice impersonations of. The Pie Man lives in this weird castle that looks like a wrench, where he dances around, talks in rhyme, and plans his assault to gain more pies.

I'm not sure what's so bad about a guy who just wants to make pies, unless they're evil pies. Maybe he throws in some razor blades and gives them to the kids? I dunno, anything to spice this up a bit. I realize it's meant for a three-year-old but they could've stuck in one nice bloody murder to keep the rest of us happy. Though I am a little pleased with the Pie Man's fu manchu - last time I saw a mustache like that, it was when I was pretending to know about the ball players when collecting baseball cards with my friends, telling them without a hint of hesitation that Rollie Fingers was the best player ever. They figured I was just pretending to be interested in sports, so they asked me to name three current Yankees. I named Mattingly, drew a blank, faked an asthma attack, and never mentioned baseball to anyone ever again. If only origami was considered boyish and macho, I could've been the next Dylan McKay.

Strawberry Shortcake's friends plan a surprise party for her. These other characters are also all named after different types of cakes and pies and pastries, but I can't remember 'em so oh well. There's a little baby named Apple Dumpling though, who gets across her points by scribbling notes on paper. The others are just different walking personality traits - one's lazy, one's spunky, one's forgetful - they're like Snow White's dwarves, only without pubic hair.

I was searching around a little while ago to see what old toys Shortcake had made for her back in her heyday, and it's INCREDIBLE. Go type in 'Strawberry Shortcake' on eBay, and you're met with thousands of different items, ranging from little PVC figures to hot raver pants and beyond. Am I missing something about this show that's making it so popular now, or is it just another case of anything 80s becoming cool because it's now obscured and retro and thus, worth liking? I mean, I'm no trendsetter, but I find it a little amusing seeing teenage girls who were nothing more than a cent in their father's sperm bank when Shortcake was around, skipping across the mall wearing her shirts and a ridiculous amount of silver eyeliner. I don't have a problem with anyone picking up an interest in things before or after their time, because that'd be hypocritical of me. I just don't quite understand why these people buy all the new shirts and themed-lighters and hairclips when the only thing they could possibly know about Strawberry Shortcake is that it's vaguely associated with strawberries. It's like the kid who listened to Green Day at home but wore Fugazi shirts to school. Haven't they seen those Sprite commercials? Image is nothing - thirst is everything! Eh, who am I to talk? I didn't like Nirvana till the guy blew his head off.

Things take a turn for the dramatic as all of Shortcake's friends cruelly ditch her to go set up her birthday party. Oddly, Shortcake doesn't seem to have any idea it's her birthday, but the Sun said so and I refuse to believe that the entity which gives us color would lie. Shortcake starts crying her head off because none of her friends (or even her cat) want to hang out with her, and the whole thing seems so mean and unjust that you start hating all her friends for trying to do something nice. Course, it doesn't help that they get away from her to set up the party by basically saying 'I hate you, go away,' but what's the fun in throwing one of these surprise deals if you can't make the recipient feel like a clueless, worthless piece of crap first? They're gonna be the center of attention soon enough - why waste the entire day catering to 'em?

The scenes with all of Shortcake's friends are the most brutal in the show, because everyone speaks at a rate of three words per minute. So, when they try to express something a little more difficult, like an inquiry as to what to get Shortcake for her birthday, months upon months are taken up. I was checking around to see if any bullets were heading for my skull because everything was moving so slowly and that usually means you're about to die. Admittedly, compared to other creatures of their size, this group of cake fiends are pretty intelligent. Now if only someone would point out that wearing giant pink balloon hats after Labor Day is a major faux pas, we'd be well on our way to recovery.

The Purple Pie Man dresses up as a harmless Purple Old Man and tries to sell Shortcake an enchanted watering pot, which unbeknownst to her, is cursed. She can't afford the 7.50 price tag, so she instead walks away to the middle of an empty field and cries some more. This show really didn't teach kids to roll with the punches.

Never one to let a minor snafu halt his plans to control a strawberry monopoly, the Pie Man instead sells the pot to her friends, who firmly believe this is the greatest birthday present possible. If somebody gave me a watering pot for my birthday, I'd piss in it and pretend their car needed watering. Fortunately, Shortcake is berry interested in this watering pot, since the cloaked Pie Man explained that it never runs out of water. Magical watering pots in the land of cakes and lollipops. By the way, look at all the effort they put into that birthday banner in the second pic up above. They must've been preparing this party for weeks.

The Sun has the unfortunate duty of watching Strawberry Shortcake cry her eyes out, so finally he can't take it anymore and tells her to go to the field, explaining that her friends didn't abandon her. He doesn't come right out and say it's a surprise party, and the idiot girl doesn't put two and two together because she has no idea it's her birthday. Shortcake agrees to seek out her friends, but she's still a little upset that none of her friends wanted to have lunch at her place. Well Strawberry, that's what you get when you serve regular, shitty cold cuts instead of Boar's Head. YOU'VE GOTTA ASK FOR IT BY NAME, BABY!!!

After she arrives, the party goes smooth and everyone's happy again. Shortcake acts like this watering pot is the best gift ever, gushing all over the place like she just won the lottery or got her first training bra. Even her friends don't know quite what to make of it - the only reason they bought her that was because the only other things in town are strawberries, and she had enough of those. Sadly, lest we all forget, that watering pot is cursed - a means for the Purple Pie Man to take control of all the great fruit. Sure enough, bad things happen when Shortcake demonstrates it's magic water powers...

The watering pot never stops pouring out the holy liquid, entirely flooding the valley within mere moments. Who knew you could stop a draught for just 7.50? The kids don't know how to respond to this, so they just act like nothing's really wrong. I mean, it's not like water can kill anyone, right? After a few minutes of floating around in a basket, one of them brings up a kinda important point, that being that all their cakehouses are now underwater and they can't possibly go about their daily lives living on rafts. The strawberries would sog. Nobody knows why the watering pot ended up causing so much pain and trauma, so it's fortunate that the Pie Man was dancing around nearby waiting for the chance to explain his evil plot.

The Purple Pie Man demands all the berries in Shortcakeland in return for getting all the water out. Our hero children are upset, but they've really got no choice. They're farmers, not swimmers. And even if they were swimmers, cakehouses aren't buoyant enough to live in without drowning. It's a berry bad situation for the good guys, and they're simply too stupid to find a way out of it.

So, they gather all the berries. Oddly, while they do this, there's no flood, but as they're delivering them, the flood's back again. Water's pretty mysterious. God this show makes me hungry. I don't have any strawberries, so I'm eating pistachios. They're dyed red so at least they're in the same color family. By the way, there's a lot of songs in this show, so I don't think it was a typical episode. Did Strawberry Shortcake ever have an actual television show? This one seems more like a direct-to-video thing, or at best, a one-time TV special. That's not really a bad thing since I can't imagine an ongoing struggle for fruit being interesting enough to last long. Then again, Growing Pains survived for like eighteen thousand seasons on three sight gags.

After they deliver the goods, they realize that Apple Dumpling (the baby) was sleeping on the strawberry carts, and now she's trapped in the castle with that dastardly pie cooker. Shortcake gripes that they'll never see the kid again with the same level of emotion we display when ordering a pizza. The Sun solves the problem by granting Shortcake a birthday wish - instead of simply wishing the Pie Man dead, she asks for a grand army of living trees to go fetch the baby. Hey, nobody said she was a smart cookie. We just said she likes cookies. Okay, okay, I didn't say that. But it was inferred.

The trees all gather around and storm Pie Man's castle, knocking the entire place down in all of two seconds. It wasn't exactly a Braveheart-level battle, but it beat the Hell out of the Gungan/droid army war. One thing I've noticed about kid shows - the target audience years mean a whole lot more. When you look at show directed towards people of older generations, the demographic can spread a whole lot more. Shows geared for an 'adult' audience can be viewed by seventeen-year-olds and guys in their late 40s all the same. With kid shows though, it's a whole lot different. The mantra of shows meant for four-year-olds versus the mantra of shows meant for six-year-olds are totally different worlds. Strawberry Shortcake appears to be geared for kids still in the womb, so if I seem lost with this one, it's because I'm too experienced with more highbrow episodic television. You know, like He-Man.

The Peculiar Purple Pie Man is forced to sign a totally legal and binding contract that forces him to stop doing such shitty things and become a good guy. The baby Apple Dumpling writes the contract, and I'm a bit embarrassed because her penmanship is much better than mine. He signs it because there's a group of mean trees egging him on. Now, if he wants to make pies, he'll have to do it the heroic way. No more stealing berries or talking about evil cake icing. And forget flooding the valley, that's so yesteryear now.

The show ends with Strawberry Shortcake teaching the Pie Man how to be a friend - which consists mainly of explaining how to use the word 'berry' instead of 'very,' illustrated by a two-minute song with giant strawberries flying around in the background. I have to admit, little girls would've loved this and there was positively nothing scary or wrong with it to gets parents upset. It serves it's purpose well.

Overall: Reviewing things like this is one of the primary reasons I often wish I worked in construction, but considering who it was meant for, it's not so bad. The only other girl shows I know enough about to compare it to are My Little Pony and She-Ra, both of which had enough spooky elements to scare the *really* little children. This one was good for sugarfreak fraidy cats. If you fit that criteria, use the download link below to watch it yourself.

Download: Realplayer file, a little over 7MB. Click here to see it! I understand that this download isn't for everyone, so here's an alternative. Click here to see something evil instead!


- Matt
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