Netflix, New Season, Show

“Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving” is a lukewarm second course

Sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past few weeks. I had to transfer apartments, so I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare a review. Also, I just hadn’t seen anything that was really worth commenting on – I have a ton of just half-finished shows and partially written reviews to show for it. 

But like Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I’m back! And this time with a review of a cartoon I have been waiting, for ages for Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving. The first season of this show was an absolute delight. Who would have thought a book made using 50 words could be turned into a compelling 13-episode season?

The second season isn’t strictly necessary (as the source material was covered and the characters had their arcs) but I was compelled to see where Sam-I-Am’s search for his long-lost mother would go.

What I got – a spy-thriller focusing on stopping a nuclear war – isn’t what I expected. But I can’t really say that I’m disappointed.

SUMMARY

Following the events of the previous season, Sam and Guy set out to find Sam’s mother. Upon reuniting, they learn Sam’s mom is a spy – set out to bring the Moo-Laka-Moo to the country of Yookia.

Sam decides to follow his mother on her mission, wanting to make up for their lost time. And perhaps, find out why she left him. 

Guy ends up siding with Zookia – the sworn enemy of Yookia after the Zooks kidnap him and E.B. Their entire conflict is based on which way to butter toast – the conflict, which has been going on for seemingly centuries – is taken directly from The Butter Battle Book.

While Guy preps a defense mechanism, E.B. finds herself falling for Looka, a from Yookia as tensions between the two countries rise.

Michellee is largely absent – though she does have a kind-of important role to play as she turns out to be pregnant with Guy’s child. 

THE GOOD

The humor from the first season is still present: there’s a lot of fun with word-play, and meta-humor. Green Eggs and Ham is one of the few shows where I believe the narrator truly adds something and isn’t just a lazy way of getting in exposition.

The world is bright, interesting, and imaginative – the animation is fluid. The character designs are interesting and varied – in the original Butter Battle Book all of the characters were these vaguely humanoid figures with bird beaks. The only way to tell them apart was their clothing. In the show, both sides have a varied population.

This makes sense considering how the world has already been established. Guy and E.B. would stick out like sore thumbs otherwise.

As somebody who knows the source material pretty well – this was definitely a pragmatic adaptation of the original story; where it’s literally just each side getting bigger and bigger weapons. It ends with a man from both sides, holding the equivalent to a weapon of mass destruction over the other side of the wall, with a little boy wondering who will drop it first.

The Second Serving goes for suspense – Guy tries to invent defensive weapons but the Dookess of Zookia decides to weaponize Guy’s bad luck (of having his inventions blow up) against the Yooks, without his knowledge.

It’s certainly a Choice ™. Especially with Sam’s mom, Pam, working to get the Moo-Lacka-Moo for the Yooks. (In the book, the Moo-Lacka-Moo doesn’t exist. During the season, the actual purpose of the MLM is left a secret till the last moment.)

I also liked how they kept up the idea of trying new things with this season – the Yooks and Zooks all make butter sandwiches, so “Butter up on one side and down on the other.” It’s a nice touch.

I liked how they made the season into a spy thriller to contrast with the previous season’s buddy road trip.

But the uniqueness of the first season is missing a bit – I think that’s a problem with a lot of concepts like this (The Lego Movie 2…etc) the novelty just isn’t there anymore. What makes the first one of its kind so memorable is its sense of humor, unique animation styles, and character interactions.

But the latter – especially the latter – tends to go missing in sequels when more characters are introduced. And that’s what happens with The Second Serving.

THE BAD

The best part of Green Eggs and Ham’s first season was the dynamic between Guy and Sam. They played off each other well – and in the second season, they hardly interact at all. Sam’s busy trying to make memories with (and frustrating) his mother, and Guy’s too busy trying to provide for his family…E.B.’s mostly concerned with Looka, which leads to the pretty typical protective father, rebellious daughter dynamic.

And it just doesn’t work this time around. Their interactions don’t feel genuine, but rather awkward and poorly written. E.B. just exists as a way of bringing the two sides together. I don’t mind the romance angle, but I think it could have been done better.

Same with Sam and his mom’s interactions. They feel…very generic. Like I’ve seen these interactions before. There’s nothing unique about it. It just feels kind of boring – like I knew what the plot twists were going to be a mile away.

And not in a good way. Why did Michellee and Guy already have to get married? Why does Michelle have to be pregnant? Why does E.B. have to have a romance, when the rest of the characters are dealing with family issues? 

It’s just not cohesive. The way last season ended, with Sam wanting to go on another adventure worked well – all the characters had their arcs tied up and the ending felt deserved. I’m happy Sam found his mom – but he doesn’t really have an arc.

No one really does. And there are too many new characters that get introduced in this 10-episode season that it’s kind of hard to get too attached to any of them.

CONCLUSION

Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving was goofy and enjoyable, but it lacked the magic of the first season. The idea to completely switch genres was clever and interesting; I liked how they kept with the spy theme throughout, and at least, attempted to discuss the idea of discrimination and prejudice.

I don’t think it necessarily did it well – the book is more of a critique and allegory on the Cold War – with a focus on propaganda. The series tries to focus on the discrimination angle, but it gets messy. It would have been better if the history of the two countries was left unmentioned, rather than framing it as sibling rivalry gone wrong.

Due to the number of topics and ideas the story wants to focus on: The Butter Battle Book, Pam-I-Am, Guy becoming a family man…etc. There’s a distinct lack of identity and grounding when compared to the first season. I think, honestly, the open ending of the first season was preferable to the “happily ever after” we got in the second.

I doubt there will be a third season considering how everything ended – but if there is I’d be curious to see which Dr. Seuss book they decide to tackle.

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Score: B

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Release Year: 2022

Length: 10 episodes: 24 – 30 minutes

Executive producers: Jared Stern, Ellen DeGeneres. Jeff Kleeman, Mike Karz, David Dobkin, Sam Register

Producer: Helen Kalafatic

Directors: Lawrence Gong, Piero Piluso

Voice Actors: Michael Douglas, Adam DeVine, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Diane Keaton and Keegan-Michael Kay

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