Heaven's Design Team
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Heaven's Design Team ?
The bluefish are coming! The bluefish are coming! Never mind 18th century British soldiers, nothing's worse for kids during the hot months of summer in New England than hearing some version of that cry on marine radios across the harbor. Although there are no bluefish in this week's episode of Heaven's Design Team, Pluto's sharks seem to elicit a similar feeling (and warning) from the designers, especially because Pluto has let them out into the ocean without telling Jupiter, who's gone for a late night snack-n-swim. And just like I grew up being told very firmly not to get anywhere near the ocean while the bluefish were running, Jupiter's little adventure with the sharks puts fear into the hearts of all of the others on their supposedly relaxing Galapagos vacation.
Of course, if they hadn't decided to leave one day early for their trip, Jupiter wouldn't have this little shark problem, nor would Mercury have apparently been murdered. Or “murdered” as the case may be; as it turns out, flamingo milk is largely to blame for that whole scenario, along with Jupiter's questionable sense of humor. But it's hard to fault Heaven's Design Team for deciding to mix things up at the series' halfway point.
The idea behind this episode is that, as a reward for all of their hard work, God is sending the designers and Mars on a three-day vacation to Galapagos, with all work in progress not due until they return. (Which, as a few of them quickly realize, just means that they have to take the work with them on vacation. I guess God's not that nice.) Rather than wait the day between Shimoda telling them about the trip, the gang, minus Saturn, who's already there setting up, just says “screw it” and hops through the door early. All of Shimoda's flustered flutter can't stop them, and the result is not only the designs for the sawshark and hammerhead shark, but also an apparent murder mystery and several near-death experiences, including one for the squirrel Neptune is working on. Happily that last one brings us the California Ground Squirrel, a snake-munching furball of extreme cuteness, but otherwise this episode feels a bit like an exercise in trying too hard.
It's absolutely true that Heaven's Design Team could benefit from changing up its formula a little, and as I said before, this is a good time to do it. But apart from a couple of really good moments – such as the giant crustacean in the bath with the guys – this doesn't quite work. Mostly it makes both the goofier moments, such as Mercury's apparent murder, feel as if they're just shoving in elements that other shows have successfully used for comedy without truly embracing them. Surely more could have been done with the detective parody than five minutes of questioning and one mysteriously threatening note. For one thing, it could have been used to invent bloodhounds or maybe blowflies; the red-colored “milk” flamingo dads regurgitate for their young was a good touch as a blood stand-in, but it really just didn't go far enough. Likewise, the sharks could have been played up much more, and I feel like we had a missed opportunity for someone to try to create a kraken.
On the other hand, Pluto's tool sharks really do kind of look like something that was designed drunk, or possibly by a group of very enthusiastic third-graders, which, since I always pictured bluefish as sharks drawn by Dr. Suess when I was about that age, seems like a fitting way to end this review.
Heaven's Design Team is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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