Episode #2 - An In-Depth Review

"Cluny the Scourge - Part II"
BJ QUOTES
[From the Introduction] "Hello! I'm Brian Jacques and welcome to Redwall Abbey! When we last saw our woodland friends, the evil Cluny was approaching the Abbey! Now, we see what happens when a villainous rat tries to take over Redwall. Will Mathias and Constance be able to stop them? And why is Cluny so frightened by the old tapestry? Find out next on Redwall!"

[When asked about Castles] "Wouldn't you just love to live in a castle? Eh? Wonderful, wouldn't it? Well, castles were usually built on a hill. See, so you could look out and you could see where your enemies were coming from. Now, Redwall is not only a place of home and all that, it's got to be a place of safety.... so, it's got to be built like a castle, like a fortress. And the first thing you do is you build a big wall around everything! Not to stop anybody getting out, just to stop enemies getting inside. Y'see?"

[Character Spotlight on Cornflower] "Now, Cornflower is not a...eh... a tomboy. A girl who wants to become a warrior and wear armor. Cornflower is a little girl. She enjoys being a little girl. But, she's very brave. She's very courageous. And, when it comes down to it, she backs Matthias up and she does some pretty brave things herself!"

[ASK THE AUTHOR Segment] "Where do those crazy accents like molespeech come from?"

They are not crazy accents. They are native to the British Isles. Heh heh heh. I mean, I love the way they speak in Texas and other places. ::southern drawl:: "I love Texas." And down south. But, all my accents come from the British Isles. The moles are the old-fashioned villages in Sommerset. "They'm all talk'n loike that mole all roight! Moi dear, moi beauty, moi heart! Ho-ho!" So, they're all different British accents, yes.

SUMMARY OF NEW FOOTAGE

After leaving the tapestry, Cornflower goes to the kitchens. We see her cutting up vegetables while two mousemaids (named Jenny and Meg) gossip. The mousemaids talk about how bad things will be for the poor souls in Mossflower woods while Cluny is about. They begin fretting over whether or not they'll have enough food to accomodate those fleeing from the rats. Cornflower interjects and says that of course they will. They'll just have to be careful. Also in the kitchen is Friar Hugo, who is scribbling some recipe onto a roll of parchment. As he finishes, Constance walks up behind him, informing him that Father Abbot has ordered an inventory of all foodstocks. Hugo huffs that he's never heard such a thing and begins ranting that the larders are full and the nuts are stored. Constance points out that the woods are full of rats and should they stay there, Redwall won't be able to restock it's supplies. The two mousemaids latch onto that, proclaiming that Redwall is seiged. Cornflower asks Constance how Father Abbot wants the list and Constance says she's in charge and may do it as she thinks is best. Constance then goes off to find Brother Alf. Cornflower tells Jenny and Meg to start counting acorns and she tells another mousemaid (Saffron), who is churning butter, to get her brothers and weigh the corn. She then leaves the kitchens to find more help.

Cornflower passes through the hall, causing Shadow to stop his work on the tapestry momentarily. On the staircase, Cornflower meets Matthias and tells him to find everyone he can and come help at the kitchen. Matthias nods and waves as she leaves. He starts walking when he hears Martin calling for him. The scene pretty much proceeds as in the book.

There is a scene where Matthias, Mortimer, Constance, and Cornflower watch two Brothers of Redwall carry Shadow's draped-body on a stretcher, presumably to be buried. Matthias feels guilty for Shadow's death and Mortimer once more repeats the pacifistic views of Redwall. The following scene has Mortimer addressing Constance, Matthias, Cornflower, Methuselah, and Brother Alf. He tells them that, until they know Cluny's intentions, they will offer aid to all who need it and keep a close eye on their foodstocks. He still refuses to let there be any talk of fighting. Matthias protests that Cluny killed his family. Constance pats his shoulder and tells him that she knows, but Matthias must never talk of revenge. That is not the Warrior's way.

As Matthias has his wounds seen to by Cornflower, they question Methuselah about the tapestry. Methuselah tells them of the sword. He says that when the right one appears, wording it like a prophecy, then the sword may be found when the code is broken. Matthias asks what code and Methuselah points to the "I Am That Is" printed above where Martin's part of the tapestry hung. Matthias exclaims that that's what Martin said to him. Methuselah is intrigued, but interrupted when Constance comes in with the crying Colin. She informs them that Cluny has captured the Vole family. Matthias clenches his fist as Constance, Colin, and Methuselah walk off. Cornflower comes up to him and gives him a kitchen knife, saying that he'll need it if he's going to rescue the Vole's. He asks her how she knew, and she says that his eyes looked the same way they did when he saw Cluny. He thanks her and sets out to rescue the Voles.

Matthias, the Vole family, and Basil return to where Ragear was tied up to find him missing (Asmodeus has already gotten him). Matthias asks what happened, Basil sniffs and declares "Asmodeus. Come on!"


CHANGES FROM BOOK

- As Cornflower finishes tying her kerchief onto Matthias' arm, Matthias tells her he must now go and find Methuselah. He says that "if anyone can figure out the meaning of this tapestry, it's him." As they depart, Shadow enters and begins chewing through the tapestry.

- Shadow doesn't knock over Mr. Fieldmouse during his escape. Aside from Matthias, Shadow doesn't meet anyone else, really.

- As the Joseph Bell tolls to call all Mossflower-dwellers to Redwall, we see mice standing guard by the gates of Redwall with bows and arrows. At this point, Redwall wasn't supposed to have any real weapons of war.

- We see the Vole family approach Redwall when they're attacked by Ragear and Cheesethief. Mr. Vole tells Colin to run and Colin escapes to Redwall to carry word of the Vole family's capture. This completely removes Ambrose Spike's introduction.

- While Methuselah is telling Matthias and Cornflower of the sword, he says there was a rumor that it was stolen by the sparrows. In the book, the only thing Methuselah knew is that a sparrowhawk he treated had said the sparrows stole one of Redwall's treasures. He didn't know what it was. It's too early to reveal that the sparrow's have the sword.

- Ragear is out looking for Colin when he spies Matthias. The scene proceeds as in the book, though.

- Basil meets Matthias right after Matthias knocks out Ragear, not by St. Ninian's as in the book. The explanation of "Stag" is also omitted.

- It's hard to say for certain, but it looks like they made Scragg a rat. I've never seen a weasel depicted with such a long tail.

- Basil's "bob and weave" lesson is not featured.

- Matthias and Basil never part ways, so Matthias doesn't get lost and Silent Sam is not introduced at this point.

- Cornflower, while running along the battlements, notices Cluny and the others on the plank. She also sees Matthias. She runs to let Constance know. Cornflower gathers a crew of otters and opens the main gate. The otters push the rats back while Matthias, Basil, and the Vole family run inside.

- As they gather around the plank, Constance asks who Basil is. In the book, Basil was already known to the Redwallers, especially Constance and Mortimer.

- Cluny threatens to harm his hostages if they don't stand aside. Matthias asks if he means these hostages and moves to show the Vole family. Cluny screams and yells, "Charge!" When he's halfway, Constance raises the plank above her head. She's unable to flip it until Matthias jumps up and helps her. In the book, she flipped the plank alone and Matthias & Co. weren't even back to Redwall yet.

- Matthias asks Basil who Asmodeus is. Basil tells him "poisonteeth, serpent-type". Then goes off to eat with Cornflower. Matthias moves to the wall to watch the rats carry Cluny away. Methuselah walks up behind him. A few steps later, Cluny's tail whips up and around the neck of Cheesethief. His eye opens and he growls. Matthias gasps and exclaims that Cluny is still alive! The scene fades into a tapestry depiction of rats with spears assaulting Redwall, which is defended by mice with spears of their own. Further up the tapestry we see Matthias, Cornflower, Basil, and Constance standing on the wall while Cluny falls from the plank. The episode then ends.


VOICE CRITIQUES

Mr. Vole - Mr. Vole sounded a little older and crustier than I imagined him. Nothing too drastic, though, and the actor pulled off the role well. I'm reminded of the voice of one of the dwarves in the Rankin-Bass Hobbit production, though. Thankfully, it fits a vole better than a dwarf.

Mrs. Vole - Pretty much your standard mother. A solid performance that fit with the role alright.

Colin Vole - Well, Colin's character has been completely overhauled. Now he doesn't do much more than laugh or cry. Way too young a voice for Colin, but fits the role that Colin has become.

Ragear - A pretty good vermin voice. Nice acting when Ragear was rambling as he was about to attack Matthias.

Cheesethief - Cheesethief has an almost Russian accent. Enough of an edge to fit a vermin, but off from what I picture for Cheesethief. We'll have to wait and see how he pulls off the role in the future.

Basil Stag Hare (Richard Binsley) - The breakaway star of this week's voices. Richard Binsley was outstanding as our lovable Basil. His dead-on performance was excellent. "Read your mind sir! Neither mad, nor dangerous!" A perfect portrayal of a hare's crazy personality and joking manner. Kudos.


CRITIQUE

Well, this pace quickens even more with Episode 2. Based on a quick estimation, we're now into the second "book" of Redwall, "The Quest". After two episodes! And this is a thirteen episode series. How they'll manage that at this pace is boggling.

Nitpicking time again. First, the misportrayal of Colin. Colin is supposed to be a jerk, especially to Matthias. He was also supposed to be captured along with the Vole family. Changing this not only changed the character of Colin, it cut out Ambrose Spike's introduction (he was the one to inform Redwall of the Vole family's capture). It's a small part of the episode, but one I cannot overlook.

The second nitpick comes in the form, or lack thereof, of Silent Sam. His introduction was leading Matthias back to Redwall after the Vole family was rescued. Where was he? The entire scenario was deleted.

Third nitpick-- No one at Redwall knew Basil. In the book, not only did Basil know Redwall, Constance and Mortimer knew Basil. An "eccentric" hare, they called him. It was a little bit of back-story to Basil that shouldn't have been removed, especially for no reason that I've seen other than one line.

The rest of the nitpicks are carry-overs from last week's episode. Nothing too major.

Now, time for the positive stuff.

I continue to enjoy the series. The animation remains fluid and vibrant, and the accompanying music is outstanding. The music at the end of the episode, combined with the tapestry visuals, is excellent. It's an almost haunting melody when presenting like that. For you video game fans out there, I've noticed definite similarities, not for the first time, either, to the soundtrack from the game Final Fantasy Tactics. I'd dare to say that Redwall's soundtrack surpasses FFT, though. Great job on that.

Another kudo must be given to Basil Stag Hare. Richard Binsley's dead-on portrayal of him, combined with the great script-treatment, made any scene with this old chappie in it excellent. Basil's easily on his way towards ranking #1 on my list of how well the character translates to the screen. Just an excellent job.

That's about it for this week. A nice job, all-around. Sadly, a few of the changes do bug me. They work in the context of the show, but knowing that they were changed from the book dampens my enjoyment of them. The show maintains the ranking I placed it at last week. Nothing to increase or decrease it. At this point, that's pretty darn good.




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Matthias