Alvin Is a Dick and the “ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks” Reboot Sucks

alvin-101-alt-16x9

Last year, Nick Jr. premiered the reboot of Alvin and the Chipmunks and, let’s be honest, it sucks.

This is disappointing because it is currently my kid’s favorite show. While she still prefers princesses like Rapunzel and Sofia for toys and dressing up and still appreciates Pixar and Peppa Pig, she asks to watch Alvin nearly every single day.

It’s a phase, but one we hope she grows out of sooner rather than later.

Some of our distaste may be because people hate almost any update of a beloved element from their childhood. Part of it may also be that as you get older, listening to high-pitched dialogue becomes excruciating. Mostly, though, it’s because it just plain sucks.


Reboots are nothing new for Alvin and his crew.

The chipmunks first arrived in 1958 with their song, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” The song was credited to David Seville and the Chipmunks and was a major hit, spending four months atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling four million copies in less than two months, and winning three Grammy Awards.

That led to sixty years of TV shows and movies starring the chipmunks beginning with The Alvin Show, which ran on CBS about a year from 1961 to 1962. The song and the show were created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who went by the stage name of David Seville – the same name as the character of the chipmunks’ adoptive father. The Alvin and the Chipmunks series, which was very popular and ran on NBC from 1983 to 1990, was created by Bagdasarian’s son and daughter-in-law, Janice Karman.

The current iteration of the show  was also created by Janice Karman, so there is a thread from that show to this one, but the heart of that show is not present in the updated version. Perhaps that is due to the CG animation. Hand-drawn animation has a warmth inherent to it that just doesn’t translate through computer graphics, but CG is far cheaper and has become the standard method of animating.

In addition to the animation, another financial decision concerns the music in the show. Originally, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were popular musicians (based on the success of “The Chipmunk Song”), with David as their songwriter and manager, and often performed a cover version of a popular song. Now, their musical endeavors are referenced only sporadically – David has his own career apart from the chipmunks – and, because getting the rights to songs is horribly expensive, they now perform original songs, most of which are in the EDM realm. They sound like they have Skrillex in their group.

The actual title of the new show is ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks and that’s fitting for two reasons. First, it’s ridiculous and annoying, like the show itself. Secondly, the show is 90% Alvin with all of the other characters serving as little more than secondary support. It’s like the chipmunk version of I Am Legend or Cast Away where one character is in virtually every scene, only Alvin didn’t survive a pandemic or get stranded on a deserted island.

Theodore, especially, gets short shrift. While Simon is often included in various schemes as the rational one trying to talk some sense in Alvin, who bounces around like he just ingested a speedball, Theodore is often there in little more than a glorified cameo. He’s basically furniture in most episodes. Moreover, when he does get to speak, he’s a moron, failing to understand the most basic of concepts. Alvin is depicted as an evil mastermind and Simon is clearly a child prodigy, but their brother, who used to be innocent and naive, now comes across as a simpleton.

alvin-113b-clip-4x3

But the biggest problem with the show is Alvin. In short, he’s a selfish prick. My issues with Caillou are numerous, but the biggest is that he whines until he gets what he wants, thus never learning anything. Alvin acts the same way. Criticize Saved By the Bell or California Dreams all you want, but at least the vapidity of those characters was grounded when they learned a lesson. Even in previous iterations of this show, Alvin was a bit mischievous but generally harmless. Now, he goes out of his way to ruin the lives of his family and friends if things aren’t to his liking. Alvin will do something sinister, get caught, and then bitch about the fact that he got caught doing something wrong. Furthermore, he has no qualms about hurting those close to him because his pride or ego has been hurt, such as when he ran for class president simply to prevent his brother from winning. What a dick.

When the titular character of a show is unlikable, the show itself will not work.

ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks is a hugely successful show, but if the 2016 presidential race has proven anything, it’s that the general public is not always the best judge.

Other open questions about this shitty show:

  • Why do Alvin, Simon and Theodore have to live with Dave, but the Chipettes – Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor – get to live in their own treemansion in the yard without any caretaker or chaperone?
  • Why are the chipmunks far smaller than their classmates? Instead of being similar in size – though not species – to their peers as they had been in the past, they are now about one-sixth their size, hopping on shoulders and scampering around. This makes sense in reality – chipmunks are tiny – but not in their day-to-day life among regular-sized humans.
  • And why don’t they need to be in car seats? Children have to be in car seats until they go to college, but these tiny individuals can sit in the backseat with just a lap belt?!

Some of these problems – and more (like the hole in Alvin’s shirt) – were already addressed on TheRobotsVoice.com while some corrections have been made based on feedback from Chipmunk fanatics.


Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Advertisements

One thought on “Alvin Is a Dick and the “ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks” Reboot Sucks

  1. The fact that Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman have creative control over the new show is very evident, as it really captures the spirit of the previous cartoon series from the 80s, unlike those horrid live action/CGI movies where Twentieth Century Fox had way too much corporate influence and resulted in celebrity actors doing the voices, poorly-cast actors in the live rolls, and messing with the characters personalities.

    You’re right about them not doing cover songs anymore, but this is what’s preventing full season sets of the 80s cartoon from being released on DVD, and in fact, a number of episodes from that show that HAVE been released on DVD had to have song replacements because of it.

    One other thing I will agree with you on is how Theodore is basically just there and serves hardly any real purpose on the show. Each of the characters have certainly grown and developed since the 80s (Eleanor in particular now has a youthful sass that has breathed so much more life into who was an otherwise kind of bland and static character), but Theodore has clearly suffered Flanderization – his innocence, naivety, and babyish tendancies have been cranked up to eleven it’s not even funny.

    As for the Chipettes, if you remember the 80s cartoon, they originally lived on their own in a similar “treemansion” in the first few seasons before school officials found out and threatened to send them away to orphanages until Alvin convinced Miss Miller to adopt them.

    I do agree that the constant rehashing of older franchises has become tiresome, trite, and condusive to moans, groans, and eyerolls, but as I said, with the Bagdasarian clan in complete control of the new show, I find that ALVINNN is a pleasant exception to the rule (though I could do without the occasion of fart humor – the Chipmunks have always been above that level of humor). I can see the argument you make though, as I’ve noticed a lot of people have had the same complaints about the new show as you, including the size and design of the characters, the CGI animation, the manner in which Alvin himself is portrayed, etc.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s