Episode #15 - An In-Depth Review

"The Magician Revealed"
BJ QUOTES
[From the Introduction] "Hello! I'm Brian Jacques and welcome to Redwall! Last time, we met Matthias' son, Mattimeo. With his help, we learned that Vitch was actually a spy for the deadly and feared Slagar! Sadly, Matthias did not believe his son's story about Vitch. Though Slagar was able to sneak into the Abbey and kidnap several of the young ones, today, Matthias and Basil Stag Hare set out to find the enslaved children. Watch this episode of Redwall!"

[When asked about Knights] [chuckles] "A knight was a very upright man. Well, he had to be. He was wearing a tin shirt. [laughs] No, seriously. The idea of being a knight, of knighthood, was, again, the idea of courage. It was a man of honor and valor, a man who took care of those weaker than himself and an honorable person. Just like Matthias. Although Matthias didn't have a suit of armor... oh, he did, didn't he? At the end! That's right. When he found Martin's stuff, he got all the armor on! And this was the symbol of the protector."

[Character Spotlight on Tess] "Tess is most sympathetic to Mattimeo. She knows what he's going through. And she's always been his friends, and she believes in him. And I think, too, that she believes that, one day, he will be the warrior that his dad was. Even though, at times, Mattimeo doesn't think so himself, she has faith in him. It's good to have faith in people."

[ASK THE AUTHOR Segment] "Your books are really cool. Are you going to come out with any new books for the Redwall Series?"

"Well, how many would you want me to write? I'll tell you what. I'll do you a promise. You keep reading them and I'll keep writing them. And I always keep my promises. I'll be writing them till I'm a little old lady with a long beard. [laughs]"

SUMMARY OF NEW FOOTAGE

The episode opens with last week's tapestry-closings, which were: 1) Orlando standing with his axe, screaming in rage; 2) Slagar standing on a hilltop with a whip, pointing; and 3) A large panning shot of the slave train walking down a path towards some mountains. The tapestry-shots fade into the Abbey, where the adults wake up, as in the book.

After John tells Matthias of the kidnapping, there's a short scene of Matthias running down Great Hall yelling, "Redwall to me!"

The scene where Tess stumbles in the slave line is interrupted by a scene with the vermin who are heading north, laying the false trail. That scene is then followed by Matthias standing on the ramparts of Redwall, telling Matti to be strong and apologizing for not listening to him. Then, the episode takes us back to the slave trail, where Vitch taunts the dibbuns, like in the book.

The episode ends when Matthias charges at the cart, shouting "Redwallllllll!" It fades into the tapestry-shots, which are: 1) The Abbey-mice strewn about the Abbey grounds, drugged by Slagar; 2) Slagar holding a chain and forcing two mice to walk; and 3) A wide shot, almost like a crude compass. Redwall stands in the center of the screen, hills rising up and down around it. Over the Abbey, Matthias stands with his sword. To the right of the Abbey is the cart. To the left is Orlando. And, finally, below the Abbey are four mice in the green habits of Redwall (either the slaves or Mrs. Churchmouse's search party).


CHANGES FROM BOOK

- Immediately after he wakes up, Basil sniffs a mug, suspecting Slagar drugged them. In the book, they didn't arrive at that conclusion until later.

- Matthias tells Basil to ring the bells. In the book, the bells were never mentioned.

- Instead of having Rollo trying to shake Mrs. Bankvole awake, he's sitting a few feet away crying. A minor change, really. Hardly worth mentioning. ;)

- Constance covers Lettie with her apron, rather than telling Winifred to cover her with a tablecloth.

- Matthias and Winifred, while searching for Hugo, also call out the names of the dibbuns. They didn't in the book.

- Basil's line, "Permission to carry my old friend back to his Abbey?" wasn't included. I mention it because this was one of the most touching lines in the entire series and it's a shame it wasn't included.

- In the council where the Redwallers take stock of things prior to speaking to John in the Infirmary, Warbeak is not present, as she was in the book. In the book, she suggested that the vermin came from the Northlands and left that way (since the Northern Gate was open). Basil agreed and said he'd track them once it stopped raining. The entire exchange is now absent.

- Also absent from the council is Matthias' observation that the only treasures Redwall has are the sword of Martin and the great tapestry.

- The explanation for why Hugo, John, and Lettie were not drugged is altered slightly, but not by much. In the book, Hugo and John already had full glasses so they did not have any of the drugged ale. Mrs. Bankvole was too busy tending to Rollo. In the series, though, all three were simply too busy and had not eaten nor had anything to drink yet. Mrs. Bankvole and Mr. Churchmouse were carrying a basket when Slagar made his move.

- Cornflower's statement that she'll not be returning to the gatehouse until Mattimeo returns is absent.

- The slaver that Auma warns Matti about is Threeclaws in the series, not Halftail.

- A small addition is made to Matti and Auma's talk. She tells him that the vermin have laid a false trail so their parents will go the wrong way. Matti asks her not to tell the others.

- Instead of Mordalfus and Sister Agnes finding Vitch's parchment out on the site of the feast, Mordalfus is holding it in Great Hall when Matthias and the others return from searching the north road. Mordalfus does say that Sister Agnes found it, however. Matthias also recalls Matti's series-only warning about Vitch here.

- The funerals of Hugo and Mrs. Bankvole are shortened and Matthias never dresses in full armour.

- It's Mattimeo who trips Vitch in the series, not Tim.

- Similar to the previous alteration, it's Mattimeo who tackles Vitch, rather than Tim, when Vitch boasts about killing the three Redwallers. (Poor Tim is losing his scenes. ;)

- Cornflower accompanies the initial party north. In the book, while Mrs. Churchmouse was included, Cornflower was not.

- In the book, Mattimeo's slumber is interrupted when he's taken to Slagar, not his meal.

- Matthias writes the note to Mrs. Churchmouse's group instead of Basil.

- Slagar does not untie his mask until the end of the story (probably for dramatic effect). In the book, he untied it at the beginning.

- In Slagar's story, he claims Matthias sent his mother to her doom. In the book, it was simply "Redwallers".

- Also in Slagar's story, he claims he was chased by Matthias rather than Constance.

- In the book, Slagar never refers to himself as anything but Slagar. After relating his story to Mattimeo, he instructs Matti to tell "the squirrel" (Sam) that he is the "son of Sela". It's through Sam that Matti learns the real order of events, as well that Slagar is named Chickenhound. In the series, the scene with Sam is removed and Slagar proclaims, "I am Chickenhound!"


VOICE CRITIQUES

Winifred (Catherine Disher) - Nothing to make this voice stand out. It's just.... average.

Rollo (Ezra Perlman) - A great voice for a dibbun. Cute without being too much. Kudos.

Cynthia (Sarah Gadon) - This is an example of excellent casting. Cynthia is whiny and perfectly conveys what makes Mattimeo and the others so frustrated with her.

Jess (Susan Roman) - Jess is the same as in the first season. No changes, no complaints, a nice job all-around.


CRITIQUE

The revolution continues. ;) The shock of how well done Mattimeo was had worn off. I expected to see some glaring changes that would jump out at me. Again, there were none. There is not a single change I objected to. I think it would have been interesting to see the scene where Sam relates Chickenhound's past, but I'm not angry over it's absence and it doesn't bother me a bit.

To be honest, Mattimeo makes these Critiques tough because I just flat out enjoy everything. Redwall continues to come to life, the pacing is absolutely perfect. The first season moved too quickly through the story elements, leaving them with huge gaps that were filled with the likes of Cluny's Clowns and the episode with Farlo. With Mattimeo, they stick to the story elements, they don't rush through them, and they don't mess with them.

They also pull out some really great scenes. Matthias standing in front of the Abbey, with the Sparra flooding the skies overhead, is excellent visual material. Mattimeo approaching Slagar is suitably spooky. Slagar's disfigured face is grotesque, yet "clean" enough for the kiddies.

Something I didn't get to in my previous review is the vermin. In the first season, Cluny's horde was, predominantly, rats. Scragg was changed to a rat, Killconey was not at all recognizable as a ferret, and the odds of seeing a different species was virtually nil. By contrast, there doesn't seem to be a rat in all of Slagar's band. They're all stoats, weasels, and ferrets. Very nicely done on the animators' part. Diversity is always nice, especially where Redwall is concerned.

I'm continually impressed by this series, as well. I was not expecting Hugo's death to be handled as anything more than a passing line that he was murdered. Instead, we see Basil crouching over Hugo's limp form. Basil's touching line was removed, as I said, but it was still a well-done scene that conveyed the proper feeling.

Then, there were the tapestry-shots. For some reason I really liked the final, quasi-compass shot. Something about it jumped out at me and I think it would make an excellent collectors item as a poster or something. But, then, I've always liked the tapestry-shots, haven't I? ;)

Overall, an excellent episode. I'll see you next time.




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