Mammoths, Musicals, Maniacal Robots, and Mystical Music In The Most Recent Installments of “Hamster & Gretel”

Hamster & Gretel keeps up with more action than music in the more recent episodes of the series, but continues to build the lore of their universe with callbacks and recurring villains.

Episode 12

Friday Night Fright

It’s family game night at the Grant-Gomez household and the family is quite competitive when it comes to this monthly tradition. Kevin and Gretel are out to beat the reigning champion, their mom, Carolina. Cousin Fred has also been invited but she is opting to help Hiromi with projects for the school newspaper.

Fred and Hiromi are interviewing the lunch lady when they overhear a phone call that the principal is making suggesting that something big get delivered to the school’s side entrance. Hoping to break the big story, Hiromi wants to investigate while, of course, Fred reluctantly hesitates but joins in anyway.

The Grant-Gomez household game night begins and is already pitting the family against each other when Hamster decides he is done hearing everything and turns on some meditation playlists – custom made for a family game night. This already on top of the removal of phones for the games means the titular heroes are now unreachable should something bad happen. And with that, I transition back to Hiromi and Fred, as they investigate what the principal is up to.

Turns out, he is with a new member of the faculty discussing their “Evil Scheme” and discover that they have turned the mascot plumber and toilet into a horrifying pair of animatronics. Of course, as it’s for the school paper, Hiromi takes a picture and breaks the cardinal sin of photographing animatronics – using her flash. The animatronics awaken and begin to hunt them down in one of the best action sequences we’ve seen in the series thus far, filled with comedy and a bit of suspense. I just hate that it’s interrupted by updates on what’s going on with Family Game Night.

The robots have Hiromi, Fred, and the Lunch Lady trapped in a separate room, where the lunch lady has suggested that they turn on the school’s fire sprinkler system to short out the robots. Fred takes a look at the school’s security cameras and discovers that the animatronics have actually disabled the system. The Lunch Lady takes a headset and sets out to restore the system, and through the use of her camera, they see her get approached by the plumber animatronic before her signal cuts out. The suspense!

Fred continuously tries calling Kevin, to no avail. Hiromi sets out to restore the sprinkler system, and gets there easily since the bots are hanging out in the teacher’s lounge. As she is turning the water back on, the animatronics catch her and her signal too, is lost.

Finally, a game night update with a bit of story purpose; Hamster realizes that there are over 100 missed calls on the phone and that can’t be good, so he sneaks down to Gretel and shows her the phone, when she reluctantly forfeits game night and heads to help Firomi- the new name for the new friendship between Fred and Hiromi.

Fred runs into the gymnasium and finds the plumber animatronic dangling Hiromi over the toilet animatronic which has a bowl full of blades. Devotees may recall that Fred is a particularly talented gymnast and uses her skills to reach the emergency valve in the ceiling. She gets up there while the song for the episode plays, and turns the valve, soaking the animatronics into shorting but soon finds herself slipping, possibly to her doom.

Hiromi rushes over with a ladder, but the bots activate their waterproof mode and stop her.

Good thing Hamster got the call when he did, as he arrives just in time to catch Fred as she fell. Hamster and Gretel save the day and then leave.  

The principal finally arrives on scene to figure out what is going on, and the the girls challenge him, saying the know about their evil scheme, which is even written on the box.

However, the principal reveals that’s an acronym for Eastern Valley Intramural League Sparring Contest of High School Electronic Mascots. The final “E” was reportedly a typo, though that doesn’t explaining the counting of High School as one word…but that could just be me. Never called my alma mater NEH. But hey. Anyway, The bots were built by the school’s engineering club for a robotic battle competition, and the new teacher is the new physics teacher troubleshooting a glitch – the hostility caused by a camera flash. The missing Lunch Lady also went to make food for later in the week. Fortunately for the girls they won't be punished since the robots almost killed them and the school can’t afford another lawsuit.

The Earworm

We open this episode seeing the Grant-Gomez family enjoying some television, namely a very catchy Taco Crunchies commercial with an addictive jingle. However, Dad points out it’s not nearly as catchy as the song from that boat ride at a theme park, “It’s a big big world.”

Later, as Gretel is drifting off to sleep, she keeps mumbling the taco song and gets into a trance, before activating her powers in her sleep, floating out of her window and into a nearby donut store, stealing the entire fresh-baked inventory.

The next morning on the drive to school, Kevin’s radio breaks in with a news report that a pair matching Hamster and Gretel’s description robbed a donut store. Neither Hamster or Gretel have any memory of this, despite Gretel’s hair being full of sprinkles and Hamster only recalling a dream featuring a large snake…but hey, he’s a hamster so that might check out.

Kevin tells Fred and she thinks he's overreacting. After all, they also just fought another little girl and rodent duo. Cut to: the next night. Hamster and Gretel are now hypnotized once again singing the taco song and now stealing from the local dry cleaner. But now, we see who is controlling them…kind of. A silhouette of a giant snake is telling them what to do. The next day, Fred is visiting when they watch the news and see the reports, and then Fred notices a drycleaning receipt on Gretel’s pajamas. Now she too is convinced.

Kevin and Fred follow Hamster and Gretel the next night and witness them break into a bank, and then head toward the nearby tortilla factory. The teens give chase and discover the giant cobra— or rather— a pretty on the nose costumed villain known as The Earworm. I must say, while I love the random and absurd backstories of some of these villains, when Kevin asks how he is getting Gretel to do all this, he gives his backstory and it’s so convoluted, it’s no wonder the buildup for the episode only lasted about 2 minutes.

And after he’s done saying it, the action is relegated to Kevin saying that while he was telling the story, he called the cops. Cops show up, Gretel is then commanded to dangle Kevin and Fred outside (where the cops are already on scene). Kevin remembers the best way to get rid of an earworm is to sing a catchier song. He then starts singing a song everyone knows, from that popular theme park boat ride, “it’s a big big world.” The police join in, complete with backup band and orchestra.

Gretel comes out of her trance and saves the day, though with the elaborate and convoluted backstory that led to this guy writing a jingle to become rich and impress his overachieving family, I would be surprised if this is the last we see of The Earworm.

Episode 13

A Mammoth Problem

It’s the school’s science fair, and there are a slew of animal exhibits and baking soda volcanoes. Gretel has one of the numerous volcanoes, and Bailey is also there, setting up her display celebrating the flatfish of the ocean. Gretel, however, is too competitive, and wants to win the science fair, and a new kid is there with his specially made laser. Gretel needs to win and wants to find the opposite of a volcano, so she flies away (having a run in with some jumbo jet pilots) and brings back a giant chunk of a glacier to impress the teachers and fellow students.

The new kid, Myrtle, is showing off that his project is actually science and can solve the world’s energy problems, when he fires it up and it backfires spreading hot goo all over the fair, destroying most everyone else’s displays and thawing Gretel’s glacier (irony!) which apparently has a frozen Mammoth encased in it that is now back alive again.

As the mammoth breaks free, its rampage gets itself entangled with Myrtle’s laser, and is now storming through town firing laser beams at everything.

Since Myrtle is convinced that Gretel is out to destroy his project, he tags along with her so now she is unable to use her powers to stop the rampaging Mammoth. Bailey also stays behind to distract the judges with her flatfish, since her project was completely unscathed. Hamster is also not answering his phone so he can’t help either, he’s occupied doing some early 90’s workouts from a video.

The kids get the mammoth’s attention, and they realize that they must work together to stop the laser shooting mammoth. They think that since the mammoth hasn’t eaten in 5000 years, he’s probably just hungry, and Gretel starts serving up some cheeseburgers when Myrtle gets his laser back and Gretel uses it to blast some metal down off a crane at the shipyard they’re at to cage the mammoth once again.

Finally, Gretel gets a hold of Hamster (and his welding torch) and he comes to aid with the moving of the Mammoth back to the science fair where Gretel and Myrtle are now working together so they can both be winners. Too bad Bailey has already won the contest with her fascinating flatfish display.

As the episode concludes, Myrtle runs back to his dad and tells him that he made a new friend. But Myrtle’s Dad is a bit familiar. He’s Professor Exclamation from the first episode of the series, and he too recognizes Gretel, but he can’t quite place it.

Bantam of the Elementary School Light Opera

We’re not done with Gretel’s school just yet! We’re back on campus for their viking musical production, directed by Hiromi with Gretel serving as the stagehand. Gretel has everything taken care of, and Hiromi also has the help of Fred and Kevin, taking care of props and sets. Kevin also is using his skills with duct tape to turn literally everything into a sword for the production, while Gretel is dealing with Miranda and her diva attitude. Bailey even comments on how she wishes that Gretel auditioned for the part, but a previous role as the Ham in a school musical about eating healthy seems to have traumatized her. She’s much more fit for the stagehand.

The rehearsal is going as planned until it's time to fire the cannon. It has little bang, and Miranda says her grand entrance can’t be grand with such a wimpy cannon. That’s when Fred speaks up and suggests that it's the Bantam—the Bantam of the opera. You know, a Bantam! Like a chicken but way more aggressive. You see, “way back” in the 90s, the school’s mascot used to be the Bantam, but changed the mascot causing the Bantam to curse the school. The same night, Christine, who played the lead the first time the school did the viking musical, disappeared, and hasn’t been seen since. Every school production since then has also been cursed.

With Miranda storming off, Gretel has been picked to take over the role of the Viking Queen, but is reluctant to do so, but she agrees to doing it anyway.

Costumes have arrived from a discount costume store that actually sent them Astronaut costumes, and a rewrite will take place to set the play in space. Perfect for Kevin to build a moon out of duct tape.

As the cast rehearse the new play, the harnesses (since they’re now in space) go haywire and Gretel investigates and finds a literal bantam who caused the ruckus. Gretel is also overwhelmed by her new role in the play and has nightmares about it. At the school, Kevin is giving her a bit of a pep talk when they hear the stage being destroyed and rush to find the bantam yet again, being destructive. The bantam steals the cannon and Gretel gives chase, minutes to curtain. Hiromi suggests canceling the play, but Kevin decides that the show must go on.

Gretel makes it to the Bantam’s lair and discovers the Bantam is actually missing 90’s student, Christine. Who ran away from her stage fright and started her new life in the mascot outfit. Upstairs, the play is going on and Kevin the prop master has now become the prop cannon. Christine accidentally sets off the real one downstairs when talking with Gretel and the stage begins to crumble, with Christine making her triumphant return on stage. Thanks to Gretel, she can now return to the world, becoming the mascot for the discount costume store.

These episodes of Hamster and Gretel are now available on Disney Channel and the DisneyNOW app. You can also catch up with earlier episodes, streaming now on Disney+.

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