Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

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mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

If I recall proper, Shuriki wanted all the perks of ruling like wealth and power without all the messy business of actually you know taking care of the people. Esteban found his sort of niche by being the one who cared for the people. Victor had the ambition which would be a challenge to Shuriki's area.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

18) "My Fair Naomi". And it's the first time we see her new character model! Now she's less bug-eyed and has a wider range of emotions. The story here is pretty predictable- Esteban is trying to prove to a pair of snobby twins and Dona Paloma that he can make ANYONE a well-mannered elite, and rough & tumble Naomi is offered up as the impossible task, getting her ready for her Quincenaera.

lol I love the camera-shakes as Naomi "glides" over to Esteban, stomping her way down the hall to denote her lack of refinement. Then Esteban insists they "do away with that horrible rasp!" "WHAT horrible raaaasp?" lol. I never realized how throaty Naomi's voice was before.

lol these faces. I love how Esteban is only doing all of this for spite and ego, lol. Dona Paloma says he CAN'T pull it off, so he simply must. And then his attitude rubs off on Naomi. She offends all her friends by booting them from her "Quincenaera Court" because the boys can't dance well enough, Elena threatens to leave... and Naomi doesn't stop her.

Luisa's game is pretty good, saving the day- "Give these candles to your closest friends" and Naomi looks around and realizes she'd gotten rid of everyone she cares about. And so she runs off to the horror of Esteban, but brings back her friends with a Song of Apology and everyone's happy. I find it kinda funny they introduce this Countess and her twin just to have snotty extras to judge Naomi for good or ill.

Kind of not really an important one, despite being a big early look at Esteban & Naomi and how adversarial they are- it was more of a random "problem of the day" and the status quo returned. Also, I never quite "bought" that Naomi of all people would turn into a snob after a day or two with Esteban- the person she likes least.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

19) "Spirit Monkey Business" This one seems like it could have easily been "Filler", but it actually builds the story's foundations more, and gives us several "firsts"- it establishes that the "Tiring" Flaw on Elena's Scepter fades the more she's used to it, but that she fears the "Blaze" spell, since it's so dangerous and can backfire. But we get the first "Reveal" power, showing what's behind walls! Elena's line delivery is great when Armando is eating the sandwich he dropped- "Oh! Armando! nononononono don't do it!". So the crux of this episode is that another Chahule "spirit guide" is seen, and he's using a magical artifact to mess about on Earth- he failed Spirit Guide Training but still wants to advise mortals, and it's a mess. And he uses his powers to send Mateo to the Spirit World, so Elena & Zuzo have to chase after him.

See, this ep is super-good for lore. It lets us actually SEE the Spirit World for the first time, which establishes a lot of stuff later. Gotta learn to walk before you can run- Zuzo even mentions "Ancestors and Upper Management" at the top of the tree, setting the stage for Elena's parents and other stories. And we learn how Spirit Guides work (Zuzo even has other people he has to guide! Does that ever show up again?). And it turns out that they need Mateo's Spirit Guide... who is a sloth with low self-esteem. ah, Richard Kind. Always playing this kind of sad-sack character as Cacahuate the sloth guide, lol. He's been typecast like that since the '90s when he was on Spin City.

interestingly, the episode about Mateo's spirit guide barely features him at all. It's instead about Elena SAVING Mateo. But his guide has the same confidence problems Mateo does, but exaggerated. Pretty fitting. So Elena has to build him up, convince him of the cost of NOT doing something ("What if you don't?"), and he saves them from some weirdo creatures called Zanies who are gonna toss Mateo in a portal, because we need a deadline or the plot doesn't work. OHHHHHHHH and the whole thing comes right back to Elena's issues with her scepter, as she fears using the Blaze spell to disarm the naughty spirit- "What if I miss?". And now CACAHUATE is the one who goes "What if you don't?". These writers = clever. I didn't even see that one coming XD

So in this innocuous episode I don't even remember, we establish Elena's "Leveling Up" with the Scepter and gaining a new power, plus see an important side-realm of the show for the first time (one that features in many later episodes, AND a huge part of the Series Finale).
mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

This shown was always fun in that it built things up without alienating new viewers. This episode in particular builds up a good payoff in the finale.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

20) Mateo finds an apprentice in another one I remember very little of. Even the character introduced doesn't seem that familiar. So Mateo is feeling a bit left out when the whole kingdom comes to the palace to ask Elena for things, and he doesn't get anyone... until a little girl shows up. Mateo's so excited about having a fan that he lets her hold a Tambourita, causing her to blow a hole in the wall. However, he agrees to take her on as an apprentice in a move even Elena finds a bit... soon. Great pose as she does "Teaching isn't EASY... and neither is magic, apparently" with the most dry casual pose and raised eyebrows, flicking her hand up.

it's funny how immediately you realize things are going wrong with the training- Mateo isn't focused on it and just "leaving instructions", then hoping things will go well. And the girl is so over-eager she's memorizing his incantations, even while misreading the alchemy instructions and making purple smoke (Elena even notes to Mateo how teaching is a full-time job). oh, and though it'd be irresponsible to use the magic against orders, they give her an "out" because it's an actual emergency. So she rescues a trapped cat, but then it snowballs because now there's ANOTHER problem and she gets overconfident, so it's not just like she disobeyed Mateo for no reason.

Things go well until she summons a water spirit by accident, giving us our action setpiece, as the girl summons a giant Water Spirit and they have to give chase. Mateo's spells aren't powerful enough- more clever writing, as it's established that Mateo needs A) the right spell at hand, B) proper hitting power, C) a Tambourita, and D) maybe even another wizard. And so he has to teach his student PROPERLY this time, and they manage to freeze the spirit, then banish him, combining both their powers. I did like the "Chekov's Gun" of her using her initial study to come up with a solution, but they didn't make it so cliche- she's like "Hey, why not make him solid, like my training?" and that gave Mateo the idea to freeze it. Funny how all wizards have this accidental power to create mega-powerful spirits. And they never DID figure out how to fix that dry well, now that I think about it!
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

21) "Realm of the Jacquins" is a big two-parter that defines much of the rest of the series. And it's our first "Season Finale", as one full year has passed since she became Crown Princess (only 20 episodes, and that SEEMS kind of light, but it kinda fits how most TV seasons work- it's just that there's a lot of presumed "day in the life" stuff we missed between all these adventure-related ones!). Here, it's centered around Skylar's class of trainees from nine episodes earlier (including his little brother) finally getting their one test... but Victor & Carla return, cheating so poor baby-bro misses his shot! All so they can break into Vallestrella- since anyone who fails the test is banished back, the Jacquins have to open the gates, which is the only way Victor & Carla can pass through the portal!

I really feel like this is the ultimate moment that made them fan-favorite villains:
"They will regret they day they crossed... Victor Delgado!" *runs fingers along goatee*
*completely insane look on her face "And CARLA DELGADO-O-O-O-O!" *runs fingers along imaginary goatee, then sweetly smiles at daddy when he looks at her disapprovingly*

Vallestrella, being so important, is given a proper moment- a land full of multicolored rocks in impossible designs, giant riding flamingos, diamond-antlered stags with Easter egg designs, and more. The fly-by actually lets the animators show the whole thing very quickly.

Elena singing "I finally got this down!" in the beginning is some A-class tempting fate, though, and SURE ENOUGH- she decides to barge into Vallestrella (where humans are not allowed) to beg King Virago to let Nikko have a second chance, and this creates a HUGE mess as she repeatedly refuses to back down, even when the MOST AWESOMELY DESIGNED CHARACTER EVER tells her to leave. Seriously, they knocked it out of the park with Verago's design- a black jaguar with bright green markings. I love how he's all "Welcome to Vallestrella- now you must go". And when she's like "Hey, is it SUCH a big deal for Nikko to take the test again?" Verago's just like "yessss it isssss" with this big, unamused grin on his face. He gets his own song to point out how it's "a very... VERY big deallll!" that the rules be followed, since Vallestrella contains a ton of imprisoned magical threats, and she's about to go... when Victor unleashes Marimonda from her magical trap.

(part two is later)
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

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22) Part Two. Marimonda makes a big impression right away, as she's this tiny, sexy little elf who speaks in rhyming sing-song, but everyone treats her with so much respect that you get right away that she's a huge threat. And then she creates monstrous vines that cover the entire valley. The Jacquins go on the chase while Elena is ordered to leave, but she immediately ignores this all "I know what I'm doing!". Thankfully, Nikko's advice and cleverness helps them find the lost cave of Quita Moz, the lost Sunbird oracle! Played by CHEECH MARIN, now in the most unexpected role, as a quirky mentor-figure. He quickly teaches Elena the "Envision" spell from her Scepter before she has to run off with a sealing jar... and she immediately ruins the carefully-laid plan of the Jacquins, who HAD Marimonda ready for their trap!

Then there's a great, unexpected bit, as not only does Elena realize how much more she has to learn, and how she ran off without listening ("Oh Elena" goes the fandom catchphrase, "Elena NO"), Skylar now stands up for HER, getting in his father's face about how "If you'd have just listened to her and TEAMED UP, we would have caught Marimonda by now!". And Verago is at first defiant, all "What did you just say to me...?" before congratulating Skylar for having the courage to stand up for what he believes in. And the Jacquins team up with Elena and hold off Marimonda for just long enough for Elena to cast a second illusion that finally traps her as she attempts to destroy Avalor Palace. Verago finally agrees that Nikko has earned his role as a Guardian of Avalor- "This was bigger than any test- and you have passed with flying colors!".

This was a really good two-parter- Marimonda is put over as a really huge threat and gets her own song, and escapes traps TWICE so we know she's hard to beat- it really makes it feel earned when she's stopped, even though she's beaten soon after arriving in Avalor (it's made VERY clear she can beat everybody easily and destroy the city). And Elena chastising herself for not listening is a good bit of character development, but then SKYLAR stands up to his father (which has clearly not happened much before), and Verago is actually delighted by this development. Mateo lecturing Elena for not listening is a good friend bit (so we see he's not just a simp to her and does everything she says), Verago comes off as epic and wise, yet still willing to be taught, and Skylar & Nikko both look courageous and clever.

Cheech Marin is unexpectedly great as Quita Moz, too- playing goofballs and stoners for most of his career, and he's suddenly got to pull off "extremely quirky, yet vastly wise and important" and he manages to hit it! And he gives Elena a dire warning about "a dark force, rising from the shadows" that should she fail to stop, she will never be crowned Queen of Avaor! And we see immediately just what that is, as Victor & Carla drop a jewel from Marimonda's prison into the hand of SHURIKI- the villain from the opener is back!

Elena's "Hey, Mateo- don't stop giving me advice, okay? I think I'm gonna need it" is really great acting from Aimee Carrero, and Mateo taking her hand with his is prime "Shipper" bait, lol.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »


23) "The Gecko's Tale"
Elena, Isabel & Gabe (interesting trio, there) discover a Treasure Map from a legendary (and missing) explorer who seeks the Golden Gecko, even though there's a curse. And when they search for it, they come across a giant gecko- GEE WONDER WHY? The character bits are interesting- Isa is overly fastidious and packing too much, Elena forges ahead, and Gabe now adds a new wrinkle- he's afraid of lizards. This leads to the funniest bit- him leaping into Elena's arms in terror from a tiny little one. Though he apparently gets over it quickly, literally jumping in the way and nearly stabbing it when he thinks Isa is threatened. But at least the characters figure out the truth right away.

So they have to retrieve the Golden Gecko inside the temple, and it's full of Indiana Jones-style booby traps. And here we get the crux of the episode- Elena vs. Isabel and their ways of doing things. Isa is TOO fastidious, and screws them over more than once by taking too long to decide on a course of action. Elena, meanwhile, is overly aggressive, setting off the big booby-trap and blows off the danger of the temple while Isa takes forever to do everything. Isa even points out what is more or less Elena's key character flaw- "You wouldn't have so many accidents if you weren't in such a hurry all the time, you know- leaping before you LOOK!" And when Elena snaps back, Isa is so hurt she actually cries ("Isa... I didn't mean that" "Yes, you did!"- and Isa's RIGHT). Naturally, teamwork is the key- after the last Elena-accident creates a maze of walls in the core of the temple, the two do the old "walk back-to-back up the wall" trick (is that as easy as TV makes it look?) and save the day- Antonio Ogama the great adventurer returns to human form. Then, when GABE accidentally sets off a booby trap (by tripping, of all things), everyone does one last escape.

I gotta wonder... their whole random quest here nearly killed BOTH members of the royal family, and nobody would have ever known what happened to them. Their adventurous nature could have doomed all of Avalor, lol.
mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

Elena and Issa get into a lot of danger if I recall the other episodes right. Have a royal family that is so thrill seeking can't be healthy for the kingdom.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

mrdent12 wrote: Sat Jul 17, 2021 2:59 am Elena and Issa get into a lot of danger if I recall the other episodes right. Have a royal family that is so thrill seeking can't be healthy for the kingdom.
This show and Sofia the First were kinda weird that way. The show’s nature demanded adventure, but it was always this weird innocuous stuff that ended up turning out deadly. Elena even had an entire council devoted to overseeing her decisions and she still nearly gets killed by magic twice a month.

Sofia was an even weirder situation, as this tiny little girl is given a magic weapon and actually sent after active supervillains.
mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

Making a little girl(she was what 12 at most) a protector was crazy. She had that amulet though so it was okay maybe? Kingdom stability wise, she was third in line or maybe not at all depending on how step daughters worked in the line of succession. Elena being in life threatening situations constantly when they just overthrew a dictator and are trying to bring stability is just crazy.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

24) "Party of a Lifetime". I feel like I watched this one more than once, since I remember it so much better than the other episodes around this time. Maybe because it had a catchier song and memorable antagonists?

oh this is also the "compete over who's Elena's best friend" one. Man their eyebrows are super-animated when they're reading Elena's letter, lol. She says "To my best friend" to all three guests, and so Mateo & Gabe assume it's for them and they start competing to see just who she meant. Them being increasingly dumb as they compete for Elena's affections is sooooooo dorky. It's also kinda funny it's over which one is their "Best Friend". It's like the clearest sign this show wanted to avoid romance entirely, as almost any other show would've gone that route. I mean, two boys competing over the attention and affection of a girl? But here it's very clear it's all about friendship. But they're still competitive and immature about it, as if it was two boys fighting over love.

But then, like in most episodes, the threat they face is both a personal one AND a magical one, as the boys wreck Elena's ship by over-doing their competition, and they find a giant floating galleon full of revelers. And they eventually realize that the ship has rendered them all immortal, as a gift for rescuing a wizard's daughter. They are HUNDREDS of years old, and are holding a never-ending party- the gang decide to leave, but the Captain & crew kind of... jovially decide they never will. They refuse to give up their replacement rudder and the gang are expected to stay.

Khary "Cyborg" Payton does a good job as the Captain- he's menacing despite being so friendly and jovial. There's a real threat to the ship trapping them their forever. Though the boys are so childish here, lol. I forgot Naomi actually didn't get involved in their struggle. She's more excited about the ship since she's a harbor girl & all. In any case, she helps them sneak the rudder on board Elena's ship, and Gabe & Mateo get off the galleon at the absolute last second (one more and they'd been trapped on the ship forever). So once again a totally regular vacation turns into something that nearly destroyed Avalor forever, lol.

Though "people act super-immature"/"the clock is ticking" episodes usually weren't my favorite, so I don't think I ever repeated this one. But it really stands out in terms of memorable events.
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