Although probably not accurate, it seems no matter when I am scrolling through the cable listings, SpongeBob SquarePants is airing on one of the Nickelodeon channels. Led by showrunner Paul Tibbitt, who has held the position since Season Five following creator Stephen Hillenburg’s departure, SpongeBob and the gang from Bikini Bottom still remain very popular since their 1999 debut, scoring four episodes in the Top 25 basic cable shows for the week ending December 11, 2011. They also remain very funny.
For those that unlucky enough not to know the animated series, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) is a yellow sponge who lives under the sea in a pineapple with his pet snail Gary. SpongeBob works as a cook at local hamburger joint The Krusty Krab, owned and operated by penny-pinching Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown). SpongeBob has two good friends: Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), a dimwitted starfish, and Sandy Cheeks (Carolyn Lawrence), a spunky squirrel from Texas. SpongeBob’s neighbor and Krusty Krab co-worker is Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), who gets continually frustrated by SpongeBob’s antics.
The stories are zany and take wild plot twists, having more in common with Looney Tunes than classic Disney cartoons. This season SpongeBob and Patrick get stuck in a time capsule, get turned into ghosts by The Flying Dutchman (Brian Doyle-Murray), and discover a lost ship. They even build a tunnel between their houses, which runs right under Squidward’s.
My favorite episodes are the ones involving the villainous Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), whose single-mindedness brings to mind Wile E. Coyote. Plankton runs the less-successful restaurant The Chum Bucket and envisions elaborate plans to steal the Krabby Patty recipe from Mr. Krab. This season finds him posing as Sandy after stealing her pelt, SpongeBob’s grandmother, and Gary; taking over SpongeBob’s brain; trying to run a highway through the Krusty Krab; taking the form of a gaseous cloud; and building a transporter with Sandy.
The Seventh Season is available as a Complete set after the previous three seasons were released in two volumes. The four-DVD set contains all 26 episodes/50 stories, which first aired from July 19, 2009 to June 11, 2011. Unfortunately, the special features aren’t very special at all. Described as “Animated Shorts,” they are teasers for the episodes “Back to the Past,” “SpongeBob’s Last Stand,” “Legends of Bikini Bottom,” and “The Great Patty Caper.”
SpongeBob SquarePants is a great cartoon. The stories are entertaining in their silliness and the bright, colorful artwork is pleasing. Though likely to be a permanent fixture constantly playing on TV alongside other classic characters like Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry, I recommend having some SpongeBob on your shelf.