Overview (Spoilers Below)
“What’s Love Gato Do With It?”
When the family comes back from the onion festival, they’re blocked from entering their building by a bunch of cats. Abuela fends off the feisty felines with a well placed chancleta, but the family agrees that they dislike the meowing menaces. Shortly afterwards, Bobby is delivering baked goods to a nearby birthday party, when Greta the Magician (voiced by Kari Wahlgren, famously Jessica on Rick and Morty and less famously from Hoisington, KS which is nearby my hometown!) starts her show. Bobby’s love of magic results in him volunteering to hypnotized, and an off-hand mention of gatos results in him being transformed into (what else?) his family’s least favorite animal. His catty ways start causing problems, but it’s nothing that love and some minor head trauma can’t solve.
“Dial M. for Mustard”
When a beloved hot dog cart goes missing from the park, there’s more at stake than missing snacks: Bruno (Eric Bauza, also known as Splinter on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) was also set on winning a trip to Vienna at the Great Lakes City Hot Dog Contest. Ronnie Ann teams up with her cousin Carl (who has a full noir private eye investigator persona ready to go) to track down the thief. While questioning suspects, it seems like the most likely guilty party is Hector, their very own abuelo! While watching some video that Carlotta had taken at the park, they realize a hot dog costumed criminal is at fault, and set off on a Scooby-Doo style hunt (complete with Lalo filling the signature canine role) to retrieve the cart so Bruno can live out his sausage-tasting dreams.
Unlike The Casagrandes, I’m a huge fan of cats, so the fact that the family hates most felines rubs me the wrong way. However, the silly humor and sweet moments of this show win me over in the end.
Both episodes this week feature some quality visual humor, from Abuela’s chancleta bandolier to fend off an offending feline (who turns out to be Bobby in his hypnotized catboy state), to the classic cartoon gag of food smells forming an enticing beckoning hand to tempt Arturo into chowing down on one of Bruno’s delectable dogs.
In addition to having an exception bilingual pun as the title, “What Love Gato Do With It?” might be my favorite episode so far. The family may dislike cats, but the animators have clearly spent time around enough of these funny little furballs to infuse this storyline with all sorts of cat humor, both obvious and subtle. I know that hypnotism is a commonly accepted theme in all sorts of pop culture, and while I simply accepted it as a real thing when I was younger, it’s especially funny to me personally after an encounter with a stage hypnotist that very obviously didn’t work. For cartoons (and honestly most works of fiction) I’m willing to suspend my disbelief, especially since there’s likely varying degrees of this particular power of persuasion. But it’s equally hilarious to assume Bobby is at least semi-aware of his cat-like actions, especially when interacting with strangers; the classic cat move of wanting affection and then hissing when that person attempts a pat plays out as funny both because of Bobby’s feline wiles and because the person in question was genuinely considering petting another human. When he abandons his family to live with a nearby feral cat colony (#goals), Ronnie Ann and her cousins hunt him down. This necessary set up for a happy ending gets a hilarious edge to it from the responses when they show neighbors pictures of Bobby asking “have you seen this cat” and at least one calls it like he sees it, “that’s a man?” Finally, the episode intro tune is comprised of autotuned meows! I’m not sure who gets the credit for that, but it’s a cute and thoughtful little touch that I just love.
“Dial M. for Mustard” opens with Ronnie Ann showing off her new skate move, “vertigo”, which is the episode’s Checkov’s gun, of sorts. After crashing into his hot dog cart, Bruno offers her and Arturo “two dogs, dragged through the garden, on the house!” I adore diner talk (or general “in the know” styles of ordering at various eating establishments), and this particular order, which appears to mean “topped with guac, tomatos, cilantro, and a pickle” looks delicious, as cartoon food always seems to do. From here we’re treated to a classic “who dunnit” storyline, complete with Detective Carl’s hard boiled set up (which includes a backdrop and everything, very impressive) and the Scooby-Doo influence appearing both in Lalo’s “pointer dog” pose after sniffing a pickle shoe, and the big reveal happening after Ronnie Ann weilds her skate prowess in full force at an abandoned warehouse, natch. After they make it to the contest in the nick of time to ensure Bruno’s victory, Vito (Carlos Alazraqui, who also provides Sergio with his signature squawk) apologizes, explaining that he simply couldn’t live without his favorite food for a full month. Bruno revealing that he was going to bring Vito with him to Vienna is an adorably sweet moment to end on, and something that I’d love to see more of in this show, and pop culture in general.
Overall, these two episodes continue to build on the colorful world of The Casagrandes, and have me looking forward to next week’s offerings!