Entry updated 21 February 2022. Tagged: TV.
US animated television series (2019-2021). Pixar Animation Studios. Ten 6-10 minute episodes. Colour.
A Pixar Television Anthology Series designed "to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment"; aside from a couple of YouTube releases, most were first shown on Disney+. Several are of genre interest. Writer and director in brackets below.
Purl (director Kristen Lester; writers Michael Daley, Bradley Furnish, Kristen Lester and James Robertson): Purl, a perky pink ball of yarn joins B.R.O. Capital, and discovers her colleagues are exclusively besuited cocksure males. She is ignored until she learns to fit in by becoming one of the boys, mimicking their behaviour – and knitting herself into a suit. When a second ball of yarn joins the company, Purl initially joins in with the men's dismissive attitude, until she remembers her own early days – so goes to offer her support (see Feminism). We see the office in the future, its atmosphere now more relaxed and populated by a mixture of yarn and men – some even jacketless. Smash and Grab (Brian Larsen): On a futuristic train (see Transportation) delivering supplies to floating Cities, two Robots are tethered by their power lines to the engine room: Smash breaks up the fuel; Grab loads it into the engine. Though friends, the two cannot make physical contact as their power lines are not long enough. Smash looks out of the window and observes that the city inhabitants – high-class robots – use spherical batteries, allowing free movement. Having noticed batteries are their train's cargo, Smash tears off their power line and steals a couple. Attacked by security robots; the pair manage to escape, albeit reduced to sharing a battery and with Grab having lost an arm. Float (Bobby Rubio): a single father becomes stressed when his child begins to float (see Telekinesis); he eventually snaps, yelling, "Why can't you just be normal?" The child's distress brings him to his senses, and he accepts their talent. Wind (Edwin Chang): in a vast Underground cave of floating boulders, grandmother and grandson live on one of the larger rocks; the son, tied to a rope, regularly leaps from it (whereupon Gravity ceases to affect him) and scavenges the mechanical debris that floats by. These are used to build a Rocket to fly through a hole they can see high above. The boy succeeds, reaching a verdant surface world, but the grandmother stays below. Out (Steven Hunter): a gay man is reluctant to come out to his parents; talking to his dog he wishes he had their easy life – whereupon the pair swap bodies (see Identity Exchange). Before returning to his own body he learns that his parents already knew and are accepting. Burrow (Madeline Sharafian): a rabbit attempting to dig her dream home is unsettled to find she has many close neighbours of various species; shy and insecure about her plans she tries to get away, digging deeper, hitting the water table. She finally learns to ask for help and the neighbours assist in diverting the flow of water out of harm's way, then help to build her home [see Beast Fable in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Twenty Something (Aphton Corbin): now 21 and taken to her first nightclub by an elder sister, Gia's insecurities are reflected by being three girls in a long coat – herself at age 16, 10 and 1 – arguing about how to react to situations. Eventually she sorts herself out and we see Gia as a confident 21 year old (see Identity).
A solid collection of shorts using various animation styles, the SparkShorts segments were all generally well received; Out, by being the first Pixar (and Disney) film – albeit a short – with a gay main character, is probably the most important. All deal with serious themes: feminism, exploitation of workers, social insecurity, immigration, sexuality, anxiety, becoming an adult – with the non-genre shorts also covering autism, animal welfare and family bonding. Disney (see Disney on Television) ran a similar anthology series called Short Circuit (2020-2021). [SP]
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