REVIEW:Camp Camp: Ep 1-Escape from Camp Campbell

Spoiler: They don’t. It’s the first episode.

Spoilers Below

Rooster Teeth kicks off their Summer of Animation (despite 10 days remaining in Spring) with a brand new series fittingly centered around the great outdoors…and how much it sucks. Having attended camp several times before in my Boy Scout career, this is something I can personally attest to. The relentless heat, the drafty cold, the uncomfortable dampness, the countless blisters, the endless uneven rocky mountain trailer, the park rangers questioning me about my bunk mate’s disappearance just because I was the last one to see him alive and had been yelling death threats at him all week for erasing your Pokemon save file…Look, that could have been anyone’s bungie cord around Tyler’s neck. Plus he told me he was into some weird stuff. The dude clearly had issues, that’s all I’m saying.

Where was I…oh yeah, the swarms of mosquitos, the gross mess hall food, and so on. But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of positives to camping as well. The indescribable view, the rush of exploration, and just getting some fresh air and a healthy does of Vitamin C. And unlike Tyler Mahoney’s lifeless corpse, this show hopes to be a breath of fresh air to the line up of shows RT is producing, as it is a completely new story that isn’t based on a previous show like RWBY Chibi, or collection of company in-jokes like X-Ray and Vav, a previous 2D cartoon.

From best I can tell, Cameron Campbell (voiced by anime veteran Travis Willingham), an apparently world-renowned adventurer/cheap, grubby businessman, put together an all-encompassing summer camp to help add some excitement to the average kid’s life, at the smallest cost for the largest payoff. However, his attempted cult of personality has attracted one follower, David (Series Co-Creator Miles Luna), who was a previous attendee at Camp Campbell, and is now a counselor who is so overly optimistic that he could smile through a root canal, and plans on infecting everyone with the Camp Camp spirit. One camper isn’t drinking the bug juice, however. Max (Michael Jones) is not even in his teen years and is certain that he has figured life out, and acts as pouty and smug as you might expect. Nonetheless, Counselor David has made it his mission to help Max see the light and embrace the gospel that is Camp Campbell.

As the series begins, two new arrivals join the group, a wild child named Nikki (Elizabeth Maxwell) and a sheepish science enthusiast named Neil (Yuri Lowenthal). David tries acquainting the two with the campgrounds while Max tries to recruit them in his plan to escape. Neil starts losing it over not getting what he signed up for, and Nikki just gets wrapped up in the craziness while causing her some of own. Of course, the escape doesn’t work, but Max finally finds some kindred spirits to bond with. And thus, we have a show!

But while it may be refreshing for viewers of this company’s work, Camp Camp doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of other shows in its cabin. If you’ve seen shows like Camp Lazlo or Gravity Falls…or hell, even Brickleberry, you’ll probably recognize some character archetypes rather quickly, and they don’t do much to break the mold. Counselor David and Max’s dynamic are eerily close to Lazlo and Scoutmaster Lumpus’s from Camp Lazlo, just in reverse. A con-artist boss and a disgruntled dispassionate employee like Cameron and other counselor Gwen (Lee Eddy) could easily be mistaken for Grunkle Stan Pines and Wendy from Gravity Falls, except instead working at a tourist spot, it’s a camp. Nikki at least bothered to change out Mabel Pines for another Kristen Schaal character in Louise Belcher, but that’s not too far off to catch it. Even the end credits music is an obvious knock-off of DMX’s “X Gon Give it to Ya”. Just seems odd that the show is about a low-cost rip-off camp sold as something new and adventurous when the show itself is just the same.

Though, accepting the show as it is, there’s plenty of potential for new stories. Max’s jaded attitude and David’s persistent optimism couldn’t have just come from nowhere, and it should be interesting to see the origins of both, as well as observing how the two continue to clash throughout the 10-episode debut season. We also have plenty of fan-favorite voice actors amongst the other kids and faculty at the camp, as well as numerous avenues for stories about the different activities offered there. Much like a regular first day of camp, this show didn’t really start off as best it could, but as we continue down the trail, we might find something great.

SCORE
6/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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