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SpongeBob SquarePants “Where’s Gary” – Promotional Triumph

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Proving that Nickelodeon knows how to “cross-platform” promote like a 21st century hybrid of PT Barnum and the Tasmanian Devil, lending the premiere of a new episode of a cartoon series about a walking-talking sanitation utensil with the pitched fervor of a Beatles reunion, last Friday night’s half-hour special episode of SpongeBob SquarePants “Where’s Gary” proved the highest-rated program on all of cable with kids 2-11 for 2005.

“Where’s Gary” was the highest-rated episode of SpongeBob ever with kids 6-11, and was the third-placed program for the year on all of TV for kids 2-11, behind only the SuperBowl and SuperBowl kick-off broadcasts, which they weren’t paying any attention to anyway. Almost 8 million total viewers tuned in to watch SpongeBob in his angsty adventure to find his beloved lost snail.

Regarding the cross-platform extravaganza, in addtion to almost endless on-air promos, which for the final day or so seemed to be on the Nick screen more than the shows they were interrupting, for the five days leading up to the “Where’s Gary” premiere, kids were told to log on Nick.com to enter the SpongeBob SquarePants “Where’s Gary?” Sweepstakes. Every night on the air, Patchy the Pirate (Tom Kenny) and guests searched locations across the globe for Gary. On Nick.com – which also featured sneak previews of the show and a “Trail of the Snail” Flash game — kids entered Patchy’s search locations in order to be eligible to win the sweepstakes.

Obviously it all paid off.

Unfortunately, the episode itself is rather wan and slack, notably lacking in the air of giddy zaniness that millions of men, women and, um, children so happily cleave to. All the ingredients are there: SpongeBob (Kenny) forgets to feed his pet snail for several days while attempting to meet the “Dirty Bubble Challenge” paddle-ball record. Gary, the meowing snail, becomes disillusioned and runs away from home. While living on the rough streets of downtown Bikini Bottom, the wayward mollusk is taken in by a strange but kindly old woman (SNL’s Amy Poehler) who mistakes him for one of her other pets.

When SpongeBob realizes he has forgotten to care for Gary who is now missing, he sets out on a flyer-flining frenzy to find his beloved gastropod and return him home. Meanwhile, as Gary is wrapped in comfy blankets and indulged in an endless assortment of snacks and soothing patter, he makes a horrifying discovery in a closet of his new benefactor.

Except it doesn’t really click: it’s not bad — it’s even grown on me a bit after three or four subsequent viewings forced on me by my children — but it doesn’t flow with the funhouse logic of the classic series’ best eps either. Perhaps the series, which first aired in 1999, has run out of steam, an especially pointed question now that creator Steve Hillenburg is no longer working on the show – but I’m not counting it out yet either.

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About Eric Olsen

  • casper

    The where’s Gary episode on T.V was the funniest episode of SpongeBob I’ve ever seen. I dont like the Spongebob series at all, I watched this one because I wanted to see SpongeBob cry.

  • james

    i loved this episode im a huge fan of this show but we need to have nick let us see the rest of season 4 i would like to see more new eps to finish it out. and i cant wait til they go back in time in lost in time. i cant wait so far i have all 3 season sets and cant wait for the 4th but also taping the season 4 episodes to watch over and over and over and over again. because its so funny. i know that hillenburg left the show but this show is still amazing. keep up the great work. and dont forget if you guys at nick end the show please have a special made ending episode when he was on nick. but also have a marathon each day with the episodes in order or something so we know it will be spongebobs last time on nick. like for an example a week long marathon for season 1 next week season 2 and so on til week 5 for season 5 if not season six is made also. but air it from 12 noon to probably 10 at night or something. it would be so cool. nickelodeon should do that.or maybe have 1 day a week for season one 2nd day season 2 i know if they have a no commercial week for it they can do that. but they need to make a special last episode and make it worth while bring all the characters in for this one and have it as they celebrate his how ever many episodes they did and they say we did it we made it now we can move on and have the show come to a close and wave to the camera and patchy the pirate with the cast and crew surprising the audience having their own goodbye party saying that was fun time to close this show out with a big bang while they sing the theme song for themselves and then it ends right there. and the patchy will host the season marathon week or something like that. i dont have a clue but would make a great idea.

  • GoHah

    SpongeBob as therapy: I inadvertently stumbled upon the show a couple years back after having been laid off work and subsequently lapsing into insomnia-plagued gloom. I then looked forward to being up at 6AM–hell, it’s not like I had a job to go to or something.

  • GHM

    I loved this episode. SPONGEBOB ROCKS!!! LONG LIVE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!!!!!!!