In “The Evolution of Craig” episode of Cartoon Community’s refreshingly pure animated collection Craig of the Creek, our younger hero struggles with the thought of rising up and the concern of remodeling into a unique, older particular person. With a tadpole taking the place of a pocket monster, Craig learns a Pokémon-impressed lesson about the advantages of evolving as an individual.
Craig of the Creek facilities on a trio of younger buddies rising up in a magical throwback neighborhood the place kids exit and play as a substitute of sitting inside fidgeting with screens. The woods and waterways surrounding Craig’s neighborhood are house to an unlimited society of kids whose imaginations forged them as adventurers, explorers, inventors, and defenders of their area. 9-year-old Craig is a cartographer, mapping his magical land together with his fixed companions Kelsey, a red-headed eight-year-old who fancies herself a warrior, and J.P., a tall, bumbling, 10-year-old with a Southern accent and a form coronary heart.
The present jogs my memory of my very own childhood, roaming or biking by means of the woods surrounding my suburban Atlanta avenue, happening tiny adventures that appeared a lot bigger again within the day. My buddies and I have been slightly older and a few of our adventures concerned beer or pot, however the vibe is similar. It’s a present adults can respect, as demonstrated by Kotaku contributor Ben Bertoli’s article on one of many present’s earlier video game-themed episodes and subsequent interview with its creators.
“The Evolution of Craig”, which aired on August 24 and is on the market to stream on the Cartoon Community web site, by no means straight mentions Pokémon. Craig and his grandfather, contemporary from a go to to the library to select up a e book for the boy’s fifth-grade summer time studying project, come upon a tadpole stranded in a puddle. With a predatory chook lurking dangerously shut, Craig’s grandfather urges him to take the newborn house to guard it because it grows.
In response, Craig hurls a plastic capsule from a merchandising machine on the puddle, upset when it doesn’t work “like in that present.” Craig finally ends up amassing the tadpole by extra typical means, taking it house and inserting it in an aquarium.
The tadpole is a welcome distraction for Craig. With the summer time coming to an finish and fifth grade looming, the imaginative teenager is apprehensive about his future. His fifth-grade summer time studying project is an grownup e book. Quickly he’ll have grownup obligations. As an alternative of happening adventures, he’ll need to do grownup issues like driving round for no motive. Will his buddies nonetheless be his buddies? Will the creek nonetheless be his haven? Sadly for Craig, his distraction doesn’t final lengthy. His tadpole good friend, as tadpoles do, is slowly reworking into an grownup frog.
The Pokémon parallels on this episode are plentiful. The evolution playing cards are good. The chiptune musical cues are splendidly refined. Industrial breaks function hilarious “Who’s That Creek Child?” segments that includes incidental characters nobody remembers. At one level, worrying that he’s turning into his stodgy older brother Bernard, Craig imagines himself evolving like a Pokémon and getting right into a turn-based battle together with his buddies after they don’t acknowledge his older, extra mature self.
The tadpole inevitably turns into a frog. Craig tries to cover the now-adult amphibian from his grandfather however will get caught. The frog doesn’t need to go away. Craig desires to play together with his buddies. He’s not able to go to fifth grade and evolve into Bernard.
Grandpa units his grandson straight. “I do know change is horrifying, however simply since you’re rising up doesn’t imply you’re going to cease being you,” the outdated man explains. “You’ll all the time be Craig. You’ll simply know extra and have the ability to do extra.”
Change is certainly scary. I first found Craig of the Creek within the hospital final yr following a harrowing well being difficulty. I turned on Cartoon Community figuring it could convey me nearer to my kids, who have been too younger to come back see me within the intensive care unit. Watching Craig of the Creek I imagined them exterior enjoying within the woods, however I additionally noticed myself. Newly-paralyzed from the chest down, I used to be fighting my very own scary change. The present helped. I solely want “The Evolution of Craig” had aired a bit sooner.
The episode ends with an thrilling battle between the developed tadpole and his nemesis, and Craig one step nearer to being the easiest Craig he may be, like nobody ever was.