|VeggieTales - Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 14 March 2006|
The overall theme for this set is that of friendship. One of the Bible verses that inspired this release is Proverbs 17:17, which states: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” In the opening “Asparagus of La Mancha” story, a lesson is taught about the value of sticking with friends through thick and thin. The marquee work, “Sheerluck and the Golden Ruler,” drives home the value of giving credit when credit is due. In both instances, these values are presented with warm and memorable humor.
The character of Sheerluck Holmes is an obvious take off on the old British sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. But in this story, any clue Holmes figures out is through sheer luck alone, which is where he derives his derogatory name. The brain behind this duo clearly belongs to Dr. Watson. But whenever these two crime-solvers retire to their favorite eatery at the end of another long, crime-fighting day, Sheerluck proceeds to brag about their doings as if he accomplished all these feats alone, without giving Watson an ounce of praise or thanks. Eventually, Watson gets tired of being taken for granted and leaves Holmes to fend for himself. It’s only then that Holmes realizes how much he needs Watson to complete the team.
The humor comes fast and furious during this second animated segment. There’s a recurring Scottish character; when he speaks, Holmes cannot make out a single word he says. But even when folks are speaking intelligibly -- meaning without a thick accent, though using multi-syllabic words -- Holmes equally at a loss. Unlike Watson, who demonstrates a keen knowledge of deductive reasoning, Holmes is consistently and hilariously off-base in his wild crime scene assessments. For example, when a golden key, which usually sits upon a pillow, is discovered missing, Holmes announces that the likely culprit is a headless person. Headless, that is, because someone with a head would have surely also taken the pillow to lay his/her head upon it.
It has become a VeggieTales tradition to break up each set of episodes with a silly song from Larry the Cucumber. This time Larry breaks out a kind of call-and-response little number called “The Gated Community.” His character loses a ball just inside the walls of the title enclave. While Larry sings about wishing to get his ball back, the proud gated community members sing happily about the supposed greatness of their well-protected neighborhood. And what does this all mean? Probably nothing. Once again, it’s just for fun’s sake.
“The Asparagus of La Mancha” is a thinly disguised take-off on “The Man from La Mancha” tale. The story revolves around a mom ‘n’ pop restaurant called Café La Mancha. Don Quixote is the main character here, and due to his high intake of some particularly spicy salsa, he’s visited by a series troubling nightmares each evening at bedtime. These dreams foretell his establishment’s coming doom, which takes the form of the Food Factory, a Wal-Mart-like eatery that moves in right across the street from Café La Mancha. In contrast to the homey Café La Mancha, however, this chain restaurant is loud, brash and offers food servings “as big as your head.” This competitor’s sheer girth only escalates the intensity of Don Quixote’s nightmares. Quixote, along with his trusted pal Poncho, attempts a number of methods to try to compete with his rival. These approaches include temporarily turning the joint into a hip, Starbucks-like coffee hut. Another failed tactic involves physically attacking that evil place across the street.
This last Food Factory physical confrontation lands Quixote in jail. It is there in the old slammer that Poncho takes Quixote’s hallucinogenic – and presumably addictive -- salsa away from his beloved co-worker. This act – not coincidentally – also ends Quixote’s bad dreams. Once cooler heads prevail, these two small businessmen realize that the place across the way doesn’t open until 10 AM, which leads them to focus on serving breakfast, which is the answer to their business problems.
As the VeggieTales series began to stray from its Biblical story roots, it’s also lost much of its entertainment and educational value. When it tried to take on the epic “Lord of the Rings” with the puny “Lord of the Beans,” for example, it appeared to have run out of good ideas. Granted, “Man of La Mancha” is a story of epic proportion, too, but here it doesn’t seem quite so imposing. VeggieTales shows are always best when the scope is kept to small, concentrated levels.
As for the extras, VeggieTales folks heighten the family-friendly quotient of this product with a sing-along section, as well as a “How to Draw Sheerluck Holmes & Poncho.” Another bonus is a Bean Dip of LaMancha Veggie Recipe, which sounds more family-divisive than unifying, don’t you think?
This package of stories is book-ended by the usual introduction and postscript from Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato. Even this regular section is funnier than usual here, especially when Larry has a little fun with the state of South Dakota, which requires Bob to apologize to the whole state of South Dakota for Larry’s jokes.
It’s hard not to get behind the principles taught through these cute stories. Whether you agree with VeggieTales Christian basis or not, every young person ought to learn about the value of sincere friendships. Kids already get more than enough messages about the competitive nature of modern life. But the world is so much more livable with loyal friends – the kind who stick by each other even when things are bad. With Sheerluck Holmes, we see how necessary it is to recognize the altruistic efforts of those who help us out when we need it. It may feel good to be praised for something we didn’t actually do, but such behavior makes the uncredited ones feel particularly underappreciated.
If theVeggieTales folks continue with the kind of high quality found on “Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler,” the future is indeed bright for this series. For a while there, it seemed as though the sheer quantity of releases was lessening the overall quality of the product. But this excellent release proves that theory wrong, or at least premature. This is one of the best VeggieTales to come along in a while, and it’s not by sheer luck that it came out this way. These animators have once again presented basic human values in both a fun and funny way.