Love, Death and Robots: The Dump

the dump4Perhaps if it were called The Junkyard, I might have liked it more.  The unfortunate truth is I have a bit of a bias myself: I don’t like things to be low class.  Crass behavior puts me off and I don’t love dirty places and disorder really throws me off.  When my desk gets out of hand, I get twitchy.  So an episode taking place in a dump isn’t going to appeal to me aesthetically but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a good story to explore. Except, even that is about grungy people in grungy places.  

Dave lives in The Dump.  An inspector shows up to evict Dave.  Dave tells a story and things go bad for the inspector.  Could there possibly be a deeper meaning?  

The Good

the dump1I can’t complain about the computer animation.  It’s rock solid.  I also can’t complain about the things I picked up on as possible inspiration for this episode.  There are hints of The Blob, the classic 1950’s horror movie, when Dave’s friend Pearly gets attacked.  The Blob is genuinely a classic and some of the imagery is very reminiscent of the movie.  Weirdly, I also got a hint of How the Grinch Stole Christmas when Dave is about to destroy the unknown creature in his junkyard when he sees a dog makes up part of its body.  Suddenly, Dave no longer cares that his friend was killed; he sees that dog and realizes there’s something innocent about the creature.  Finding understanding in the face of adversity is a big win for a fairly lackluster episode.  Lastly I thought of the Chevy Chase comedy Modern Problems where garbage spills on a man giving him unusual powers.  While no one gets powers here, a mound of junk does come to life. 

The Bad

the dump2The aesthetics of mountains of junk just does nothing for me, especially when those mountains are out of logical proportion.  They stand upside down, with the top side being grossly oversized against a much narrower base.  

Also, none of the three human characters are likable.  The city inspector is a Better Call Saul style lowlife who steps out of his car onto a dead animal, curses, lights a cigarette and then gets excited to evict someone from his home.  When he sees Dave doesn’t have a working cigarette lighter, he lights his own and then pockets the gold lighter with a smug look.  (When he is killed by the strange garbage monster, the lighter falls at Dave’s feet – that was a nice touch!)  

Lastly, Dave’s friend Pearly is the first to encounter the creature when he goes to urinate after spending a night drinking and looking at pornographic magazines.  Already unnecessary to tell the story, it hits new heights when Pearly can’t bother pulling his pants up and runs around with genitals flailing about.  How much of this was necessary to tell the story?  Not a bit of it.  The nudity doesn’t enhance the story nor does it play any part whatsoever barring to show that someone knew how to do that with computer animation.  A dismal attempt to make good with some really fantastic technology!

The Ugly

the dump3Through all this, there could be one or two important take-aways.  The most obvious is to appreciate what you have.  Dave clearly does and he doesn’t want to lose it just because some government inspector says he has to.  Even before the inspector arrives, Pearly is trying to coax Dave out to go check out the “whores” in town, but Dave is content to be where is he.  He doesn’t need more than what he has.

Perhaps another lesson is to appreciate the little things more.  Dave learns to befriend the garbage monster and plays catch with it.  He’s clearly not interested in big flashy things.  He’s content.  Are we?

The Game

This week is another basic set of icons.  The lighter is clearly the representation of that which falls from the inspector as he is getting devoured by the junk monster.  The X, which based on the title of the series represents death, I’d sooner take it like what we would see in Family Feud: the X represents the “nope”; the denial that Dave is going to be evicted.  No sir, Mr. Inspector, you will not be evicting Dave!  The reason I don’t see it as “death”, is that we get the skull to represent death in other episodes.  Lastly the mound is the mound that represents a dung heap.  Sadly, that would be my sole icon for this episode.

The Verdict:

Unfortunately, coming off such a good episode, this was a depressing waste.  Luckily, it’s running time is under 10 minutes and that’s a big win for this series: even the worst never last so long that you can’t sit through it.  Unfortunately, like the final icon in our little game, I can see little past this episode barring that dung heap.  ML

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