In honor of the tenth anniversary of one of what I consider the most interesting Peep episodes, I've decided to give it a comprehensive review. Since the episode is two parts long, I'll be writing it in two separate blog posts.
So, without further ado, here is part one of my review of"The Sounds of Silence".
We begin with a title card on a yellow background. Peep, Quack and Chirp appear to be listening. Quack starts to look impatient (he taps his foot), Chirp looks happy, and Peep, as usual, looks inquisitive. It's a good setup for an episode, but the fact that it's clearly going to be two parts suggests a pretty good story lies ahead.
We open to a nice shot of a sunset across Big Bay. Joan Cusack, our narrator, asks if the sun makes any noise when it sets, and, as we cut to Peep and Chirp sitting on the beach, informs us that they are trying to find out. Very cute, especially when they look at each other.
Joan then explains that that's why they haven't said anything yet---because they're listening. They hear something to their left. It's Quack, chewing on his feathers (and looking ridiculously cute). He then starts to talk about his morning, how after he woke up, he stretched, and then yawned---twice, to be exact. Chirp shhhshs him, reminding him they're trying to listen. Quack keeps his voice down, relating his interactions with the fish. He imitates their voices and it's ridiculously cute. Peep and Chirp exchange an uneasy glance during this, and Peep eventually quietly tells Quack that if he keeps talking, they won't hear the sun touch the water. Quack hears him out, and the three birds sit in silence for some seconds.
Quack then asks quietly if they want to see how long he can hold his breath (how many times has he done that now?) So he does (for ten seconds, if anyone is curious) and as he does, Chirp looks very annoyed, closing her as in frustration and flapping her wings agitatedly. Quack finally releases his breath, wheezing and coughing a lot (but proud of himself nonetheless) and Chirp screams in frustration, then yells at him that he's the loudest duck she ever knew, and would he please be quiet. While she's yelling at him, Peep tries to get her attention, to no avail. She continues to yell at Quack about how they're trying to hear the sun set, but Quack tsks at her, saying they just missed it. A shocked Chirp sees he's right, and so does a rather disappointed Peep. Quack then points out how they couldn't hear it because Chirp was talking. Oh, the irony. A pissed-off Chirp growls and shakes her wings in frustration, before angrily hopping off. Peep and Quack watch her go, to which Quack muses, "What's up with her?" Very amusing.
We fade to a bright sunny day outside Peep's can. Joan informs us that Chirp soon forgot about that instance. I like that, as it shows that while Chirp can get angry easily, she doesn't hold onto things like some people would. We pan down to see her and Peep lying on the ground on their sides. Joan informs us that they're listening for worms (or lurmies, haha). Peep asks Chirp what they sound like. Chirp doesn't know, but thinks they'll hear them moving if they listen close enough. We hear from off screen the familiar sound of Quack's scatting, and then see him arrive and greet the two. He asks if they want to hear his new song (you can guess what it's about) and Chirp shhhshs him and explains what they're doing. Quack says he can help, as he has great ears and will be the first to hear the lurmies. While lying on his side. Quack tells Peep and Chirp how duck ears are a miracle of nature (speaking of which, since they're birds, and none of them have visible ears). Duck ears, and duck feet of course. And duck wisdom.
Throughout this, Chirp looks increasingly agitated, and as Quack is musing about how he possesses three miracles of nature, Chirp gets up and yells at him, "What's the matter with you? Why can't you ever be quiet?" Quack stares at her and then off into space, then back up at her, and tells her he can. Chirp furiously tells him he can't, but Quack insists he can be quiet any time be wants (I should point out that if he actually wants to is a different matter entirely).
Anyways, Chirp glares at him, telling him to prove it. Giving her a frosty stare, Quack tells her, "Fine. I'll never speak another word until you beg me. See? I am closing my lips for good. Until you beg me. Starting right now!" Chirp is amused by Quack's offer, and makes sure she heard him right. "Exactamundo!" Quack replies (seriously, the lines these writers come up with are gold!) and then catches himself. Peep, however, says he doesn't want Quack to be quiet----"Well, sometimes might be nice but not all the time," he adds. That's one of the best things about Peep. He never takes sides, he just wants what's best for both parties and tries to keep the peace. We need more people like him in the world. Quack mumbles to him that he understands and that it will be a difficult experience for them all...but that they'll come through it. Chirp laughs that Quack can't stay quiet for two seconds and won't last. Quack almost argues back but catches himself, keeping his beak closed and in the air and his eyes closed.
We fade to later, watching the birds walk towards Quack's pond. Joan tells us that amazingly, Quack lasted. As they're walking he stubs his foot badly in a rock, to which Joan adds, "Even when it hurt!" In his agony he hops into his pond. Chirp, meanwhile, remarks how amazed she is that she can hear things she never heard before, like the reeds in the pond. Peep, meanwhile, hears someone slurping up water. Quack notices too. It's the skunk from "A Duck's Tale". Quack rushes to the side of the pond where the skunk is drinking, and gesticulates with his feet to go away, pointing at him. Then the skunk does something interesting. He licks Quack's foot.
Okay, so there's a few ways that this can be interpreted. Did he simply think that was what Quack was telling him to do? Was he trying to anger Quack? Or could it be a sign that he might actually like Quack and was showing affection? You could even theorize that he was trying to make Quack's foot feel better, assuming he saw Quack hopping in agony (it's the same foot he hurt, by the way).
But this is all theoretical. Quack is of course horrified, and rubs his foot on the ground in panic before rinsing it in the pond. He then proceeds to mouth to the skunk what's obviously an order to leave. Or, as Joan interprets, that you need to ask permission before licking his foot. He glares at the skunk, who yawns and turns his back to Quack, his tail raised. That sends Quack running.
We fade to the sun setting over Big Bay again. Joan tells us (and we see) that the birds are returning to watch the sunset. This evening they take their place on the cliff. Chirp hopes they'll hear the sun set this time. Peep looks excited at the prospect but Quack just looks annoyed. They watch, and the sun sets quitely, to the surprise of Peep and Chirp. Chirp muses that she thought it might hiss or something. An annoyed Quack tilts his head backwards. Peep then notices there are frogs croaking in the distance. He and Chirp listen in interest while Quack taps his foot impatiently (this was the title card I described earlier). Chirp points out that they can also hear seagull, and the sea (we get a nice open shot of them all on the cliff here) and a garbage can, as pointed out by Peep. Focusing back on Chirp, we hear someone's stomach growling. Chirp says it must be Quack's. It sure is, as we then see it vibrating. Quack then tilts his head backwards in annoyance again, then gesticulates with his foot in the opposite direction, and then hops off screen, while Peep and Chirp continue to look out over Big Bay. As they look around, Quack hops back into our view, glaring at them. Chirp thanks him (awww...) saying it's nice to hear the world for a change. Then she hops off to her bush, wishing her friends good night.
When she's gone, Peep tells Quack that he misses his voice and hopes Chirp begs him soon. Again, very touching. Quack then tilts his head backwards yet again, and pretends to hold his breath and collapse. Opening one eye as he lies on the ground, Peep asks if he's trying to tell him something. Quack's expression in response is his usual bored, sarcastic look. He sits up, and then finally breaks his silence, telling Peep he needs to do something, because if Chirp doesn't beg him to talk soon...and just as he's raising his voice, Chirp yells from off screen that she heard him. Wait... what? I think he "ears" must be a miracle of nature.
Anyways, back to the story. Quack finishes by telling Peep that he's going to burst, giving a Quack. And then Chirp suddenly is there, saying she heard that too. Uh...yikes. Did she sneak back to see if he would break his silence while just around Peep? That... wasn't really necessary. She asks Quack if he's giving up, to which Quack shakes his head defiantly, beak and eyes closed. Peep points out that Quack can't stay quiet forever. When he asks her if she'll ask him to talk, Chirp says she will tomorrow...or the day after...or... maybe next week? (Quack is startled by this, of course). Chirp hops back over to the edge of the cliff and points out all the stuff they can now hear. When Peep asks her what she has in mind, Chirp suggests they try listening to a flower growing tomorrow. Peep is excited about this, but is quickly quieted by a stare from Quack. As for Chirp, she's just happy to have some peace and quiet, and, wishing Peep and Quack good night, she hops off to her bush, for real this time.
As Peep and an annoyed Quack walk off in another direction, Peep tries to assure Quack that Chirp will change her mind. Quack is still worried, though, as Joan explains ("See? That's his worried look.") It's kind of worrisome to me as a viewer, too, as he now seems to be paranoid to even talk outside of Chirp's presence. Not only is not speaking or singing about ducks something that he's concerned about, but now he's afraid he won't be able to snore, or even gargle! "Could he really do this, or would he have to admit...that Chirp was right?" Joan asks. That's an interesting question. In the end, it all comes down to making the decision of what means more to him: keeping his pride, or getting to return to his loud, loveable self. I think Peep could really help him in making that decision.
As the episode ends with a close-up of Quack's fearful face, Joan says, "Stay tuned, everyone---the story's not over!" It's a fantastic way to leave us on this fantastic cliffhanger. I can't really cap off the review synopsis of part one any better, so I'll just say, "Stay tuned, everyone---the review's not over!"
Personal Thoughts on the Episode
So Quack has never been the quiet type, and Chirp has always barely been able to tolerate him. Here, these issues are directly confronted, which I think is a great idea. It shows how great the writing for Peep is
We see in this episode how much Quack values his pride, as he gets himself into a situation he clearly can't handle just to prove Chirp wrong. It's interesting and even a little refreshing to see the usually confident Quack actually struggle.
We also see how desperate Chirp is to have a break from listening to Quack all the time. She's desperate enough that after a day of not hearing him, she's simply too happy to have any desire to beg him to. Add to that the fact that if she doesn't and he breaks his silence, he'll have to admit defeat. I can definitely see Chirp enjoying that for a bit, but soon toning it down and assuring Quack him being wrong doesn't mean anything to her in the long run.
Throughout this all, we have Peep being the third party. He clearly wants what's best for both sides. He wants Quack to be able to talk, but also cares that Chirp has her peace and quiet. It's difficult being put in the middle of a situation like this, especially when both sides are your best friends and there's no real right or wrong side. But Peep handles it all very maturely, not pressuring Chirp to tell Quack to talk, and assuring Quack that it will be fine.
All in all, characterization is fantastic here. And there's much more that's great. The episode has good humor, as usual. Quack is hilarious as ever, despite being silent for half the episode. The birds thinking that the sun setting would make a noise was great. The return of the skunk was interesting to see, as it raised the questions I mentioned in the review. The atmosphere, the soundtrack, the voice acting, the scenery, everything---just puts you in the world of Peep, as usual. This may have been the start of the shows third season, but the creators clearly could still create the same magic the show had from day one.
Which reminds me---season two was the last season I watched regularly during my original Peep phase. I watched season one on KCTS in late 2007 and early 2008, and season two online in late 2008. Season three wasn't available online yet, and I eventually lost interest in the show. So in a way, this review is sort of a comeback for me---its my return to Peep right from where I left off. What a perfect way to truly reunite with my favorite trio of birds.