Saturday, March 17, 2018

An introduction to the Episode by Episode journey through Kim Possible, The Reboot.

Very short version: I'm planning to restart (both in the sense that it is currently stopped and that I mean to start over) my decon-type stuff and this is a general introduction to the Kim Possible one.

General Notes

It is worth noting that Stealing Commas got its start in the comment section of Fred Clark's wonderful page by page deconstruction of the atrocious Left Behind series written by Jerry Jenkins with the heavy theological input (enough to be listed as a co-author) of the now-late Tim LaHaye.  People eventually asked me to put my rewrites into a single place.  Thus, Stealing Commas.

Fred Clark's place is known as Slacktivist (original definition) and many of the Slacktivites from the comments there ended up doing their own things as well.  It was journeying in the greater Slacktiverse that brought me to Ana Mardoll's Ramblings where I followed her Twilight and Narnia deconstructions, and that led to even more of the writings you'll find here.

As such, everything that you see before you was built on deconstructions, even though for the longest time I wasn't doing any decons myself.

As such, it might not come as a surprise that I eventually started doing my decon type thing.

While others often focus on examining things because of cultural significance or whatnot, I originally had a different criteria.  I started when the depression was rather bad, and I knew that engaging with things I liked would lead to improvement, but I wasn't able to make myself do that.  I thought that if I made it into a sort of job then I might.  Thus the .hack//Sign and Deus Ex ones started.

Kim Possible came later, but it shares the same idea.  It's something that I like.

If you look at the tags, I don't call them decons.  I call it "slow reading" in spite of the fact that none of the things are actually text.  In some ways "close reading" might be a better description of the goal, but the idea is that if you slow things down and take them a little at a time you start noticing things that would whiz passed you otherwise.

What has come before

The previous attempt at Kim Possible, though, proved to not be slow enough.  The original idea of taking it one episode at a time didn't work because they cram in too much stuff.  The second plan of taking half an episode at a time was already straining when I hit episode three.

Episode 4, intended to be the first one where I cut the episode into four posts, is where I stalled out.  So the previous attempt at Kim Possible only covered three and a quarter episodes.

The new new plan

The plan now is for me to go back to the beginning and start over with a "four posts per episode standard" from the get go, a better handle on what I'm doing, and hopefully a lack of stalling out.

I'll also be looking over the posts about the theme song and title sequence to see if I think they're good enough or if they should see revision.

The general idea will remain unchanged: take a small portion, look it over in great detail, hope that the result approaches grokking in fullness.

Before I get to that I'll be starting with a look at the now-available pages from the pitch-era series bible, which hadn't been released when I started the previous attempt.
On the likely tone

It will always be important to remember that it is ok to like problematic things.  I like Kim Possible, but that doesn't mean I'm going to take it easy on the show.  The show is beloved, it might be a classic depending on how old something has to be before earning that status, and it is also deeply flawed.

It's a show made by fathers for daughters, and that brings some baggage.  It's a show where the creators wanted it to give an action hero role model for girls in the manner of Captain Kirk and James Bond for boys, but they decided to make the genre comedy in spite of neither of those "for boys" examples being from comedy*.  Most of all though, it's a show made by flawed people who were deeply enmeshed in the very culture they were trying to push away with.

It's got all these problems and I will be talking about them.

Also, I tend to grade in a very harsh way.  I grade from the top down instead of the bottom up.  That means that I'm much more likely to point out the failings that separate something from perfection than I am to point out the good things that separate it from utter dreck.

Also, the built in spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "dreck".  What utter dreck.

A general introduction to people and places

I am most definitely not going to cover everything before I even start, but I can show the most common faces and most common places.

The name of the show is "Kim Possible".  So let's start with "Team Possible" the team that Kim leads.

~ Team Possible ~

Kim Possible is a superhero and a high school student.  When at school she's the head of the cheerleading squad, a member of seventy thousand clubs, and generally the most popular person in a twenty mile radius.

When not at school, she travels around the world doing good.  It's not quite true to say that she does it for free.  While Kim refuses to take money for her services she is more than willing to accept favors which can be anything from a flight on a private jet to get her to or from a mission to help on her biology assignment.

Ron Stoppable is Kim's best friend since Pre-K (pre-kindergarten pre-school attended circa age 5) and unsung sidekick.  His motto is "Never be normal!"  When at school he's usually under-preforming (but still at a level of passing), unappreciated, and the least popular person in a twenty mile radius.

When not at school he's the side kick no one pays attention to.  He's always there for Kim, unless the episode is about a rift forming between them, and basically never acknowledged.  He's also clumsy, romantically inept, and a disaster magnet.

Rufus is Ron's pet/family.  He is a naked mole rat.  As such he's a technological genius who can speak near English and do martial arts.  Wait, that's not what naked mole rats are like?  Real life naked mole rats are a fascinating species, but none of that comes into play.  He's the cute animal side kick to Kim's Disney Princess, and as such his powers are more tied up in "cute animal sidekick" than his actual species.

When not sleeping or eating he can be found saving the day.  When not saving the day he can be found sleeping or eating.

Wade [no last name] is the final member of Team Possible and, for years, the only one that never appeared in the field.  He runs Kim's website, which is how people who need help contact her, keeps track of favors owed to arrange transportation, invents their gadgets, and does anything computer related that the team needs.

When the series starts he's a ten year old reclusive super genius who already has a degree or more.  Specifically, he "aced high school and college in like eight months".  When not helping Team Possible save the world he's a gamer and tech consultant, though always from his home.  Since he's a ten year old, that home is with his parents.

~ Family ~

Doctor James Timothy Possible is an absent minded rocket scientist who also seems to be hired to do various science things that have nothing to do with rockets.  He runs the Middleton Space Center.  He's known for accidentally launching rockets early by leaning on consoles.  His past, his friends, his relatives, and his co-workers come up with some frequency.

Doctor Ann Possible is a brain surgeon.  She tends to be more down to earth, figuratively at least (her husband is a rocket scientist, not a rocket pilot), and gives good advice on occasion.  She's known for talking to Kim on speaker phone while performing brain surgery.  She . . . exists . . . and probably came from somewhere.  One would imagine she has a family beyond the nuclear Possible family, and has friends.  One would imagine.

Jim and Tim Possible are Kim's younger brothers.  At the time the series begins they are, like Wade, ten year old super geniuses.  Unlike Wade they have not used this to finish off school.  They mostly use their prowess for building rockets, doing minor side projects, and annoying Kim.

Kim, and therefore most of the fandom, refers to them as "Tweebs" which is Kim's portmanteau neologism for "twin dweebs".

Mr. Stoppable and Ms. Stoppable are Ron's parents.  They have a very . . . unique parenting style.  One which allows them to be completely omitted unless the plot specifically demands their presence.  We'll deal with the details as we go through the episodes.

~ School ~

Mr. (Steve) Barkin holds an unspecified job at Middleton High School.  He often fills in for other teachers when they're sick or injured.  He's stricter than his position requires and cares little for the thoughts or feelings of the students.  His relationship with Ron in particular is often openly antagonistic.

Bonnie Rockwaller is, by mutual agreement, Kim's primary rival.  Bonnie is number two on the cheerleading squad, unimpressed by Kim's superhero status, and completely invested in the idea of there being a popularity food chain.  Since Ron is at the bottom of that chain she frequently insults him.

She is, pretty much always, the voice of popularity.  Kim can't be this voice because a) it's not a nice voice, and b) Kim hangs out with Ron (which never threatens Kim's popularity, but invalidates her as a spokesperson for the popular kids in general.)

Monique [no last name] is Kim's closest female friend.  At the start of the series she isn't even in Middleton yet, but when she shows up she and Kim instantly hit it off.  She basically is able to geek out with Kim everywhere that Kim and Ron lack common interest.  She works at a trendy clothes store called Club Banana.

She gets good grades, seems generally popular, and is the only member of Kim's inner circle who isn't a part of Team Possible and its superheroing ways.

~ Enemies ~

Doctor Drakken is an genius whose focus is on science, engineering, and evil plots that aren't terribly well thought out.  He's Kim's arch nemesis, he consistently forgets Ron's name, and he's hopelessly inept in a great many areas.
Shego is Dr. Drakken's assistant/second/bodyguard/sidekick-type person.  She's doesn't take Drakken seriously, and seems genuinely surprised if any of his plots look like they might succeed, but that doesn't stop her from doing her job, and doing it well.  The job is basically to steal things and fight Kim.  Sometimes concurrently, sometimes not.

Monkey Fist is Ron's arch foe.  He is obsessed with all things simian, had his feet and hands genetically altered to resemble those of a monkey (somewhat), is an expert in monkey Kung Fu, and one of three individuals imbued with Mystical Monkey Power(TM).  His things tend to involve magic, prophecies, or magical prophecies.

Strictly speaking Doctor Dementor doesn't belong here.  He's almost never featured.  I include him because he's meaningful in understanding Drakken.  Dementor is Dr. Drakken's rival.  He's better funded, better staffed, better equipped, quite probably a better inventor, and definitely better known.

As such, Dementor is a living embodiment of Drakken not getting the respect (he thinks) he deserves even within the villainous community.

~ Places ~

This is the Possible home.  The interior floor-plan is impossible (which is annoying because a fair bit almost works) and Kim lives above the garage in the room with the slanted roof.  It is a very rare episode that doesn't feature this house.

This is Bueno Nacho, imagine a universe in which the McDonald's equivalent hadn't had burgers as their focus.  It'll give you the right idea.  Unless there is a very good reason for them to be somewhere else, this is where Kim, Ron, and Rufus eat and hang out.

This is Middleton High School.  We'll be seeing it a lot.  Whether it's creating inter-dimensional portals as part of science projects, getting a date to the dance, or using your super smart hairless rodent companion to cheat at math class it'll be done here.

I can't exactly use just one screenshot to capture the concept of "villainous lair" so here's the one we'll visit most often.  Drakken's Caribbean lair.


* Something like The Trouble with Tribbles may be hilarious, but it's in the context of two superpowers who only narrowly avoided a massive bloody interstellar being at a point where poisoning and killing an entire colony is an on-the-table tactic so long as it's done sneaky-like.)  James Bond is almost never intentionally comedic.

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