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"Trading Places" Review

So far, I've written reviews of episodes written by Kathy Waugh. I thought it would be nice to continue this pattern for a while---and maybe I'll even notice the differences in the writing when I move on to episodes written by other writers. And an episode I rewatched just earlier this week seemed like the perfect choice. So without further ado, here is my review of "Trading Places".

Synopsis

We open to a blue background, and depicted on it is Peep...with butterfly wings, flying on an abstractly drawn background of hills and flowers. And with that beautiful music from the end of "The Red Ballmoon" playing. All pointing to a very interesting episode.

We open to Peep, Quack and Newton the turtle under Newton's tree. Peep and Quack are sitting right by the tree, and Newton and Quack are eating. Joan introduces the episode by pointing out that after a big lunch of sunflower seeds (which Quack is eating, while Newton eats his apples) you have interesting thoughts. Huh. I might have to try that out sometime. Anyways, Joan points out that that's what's happening to Peep right now.

Peep sleepily asks Newton if he ever wonders what it would be like if he was a chicken instead of a turtle. Newton pauses in his eating for a while, replying "Ummmmmmmmm....no." Peep tells him that that's what he's wondering: if they were all different! What if he was a butterfly, Chirp was a duck, Newton was a squirrel, and Quack a turtle? Quack is shocked on hearing that. "Excuse me?" he says, spitting out his sunflower seeds. Flabergasted, he tells Peep that that's crazy talk! He points out that he warned Peep not to eat so much, but is clearly struggling to do so much as stand up himself (his stomach has notably expanded).

As Quack digs into the remaining three sunflower seeds, Peep asks him if he at least thinks it would be fun to be a turtle with a shell on his back. Quack doesn't, of course. Peep then asks if he'd like climbing trees like a squirrel. Quack still doesn't. Peep starts to ask him if he's at least curious. "Peep!" Quack says, finishing his last sunflower seed, "Let me explain! I am a duck. I don't wonder. I'm not curious. I don't do anything except live a simple, carefree duck life." Quack then sort of ruins the moment by burping as he lays his head against Peep, but it's still a nice moment showing how happy Quack is to be himself. I wish I could say the same about myself, but I do like the idea of being something else---namely a bird.

Newton, meanwhile, tells Peep that it's an interesting thought, saying he likes being a turtle, but sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a squirrel climbing a tree. Peep yawns, saying as he falls asleep that he also wonders what it would be like to do that, or fly in the air, or walk on a flower, just like a real butterfly. As he says this Quack is cutely looking at him with one eye open. As Peep starts to snore, Quack yawns, saying, "Oh Peep, if you were a butterfly, I'd be...confused." And he falls asleep himself, giving a quack in his sleep.

As the screen goes blurry and Joan tells us that Peep started to dream, we transition to him with butterfly wings on an abstractly drawn flower. Joan tells us this, saying he was looking down at Quack..."only Quack didn't look like Quack." We pan out to see, beside an oddly drawn tree...Quack as a turtle??!! No, seriously. Our favorite duck is a hatless quadruped with thick blue legs, a shell, and a tail. He tells Peep that he told him---he doesn't want to be a turtle! Peep tells Quack he can't help it---he's dreaming! He flies around a bit as he finishes. As he lands, he compliments Quack on his shell and four feet. Quack points out they're too big and he can't lift them, demonstrating his inability to do so easily, giving a quack as he does.

Cutting back to Peep, we hear someone call his name. Peep looks over and sees, coming up the hill on the oddly drawn backdrop...Chirp, as a large red duck with Quack's hat (but still her beak and three hairs). Peep tells Quack they should go say hi. "Let's not and say we did," Quack responds, annoyed. Peep flies off past the abstract flowers, leaving Quack behind. "Oh all right, I'm coming," Quack says.

He then starts to walk and complains he doesn't even feel like he's moving, and is walking, but not getting anywhere. He then asks what the point of it is, and yells at Peep to get back here. We then hear a little voice telling him to watch where he's going. We pan out to see it's a cute little ant. The most normal thing we've seen in the dream yet. He tells Quack, "You almost smooshed me, you big..." (here he moves forward to look at what Quack is) "...turtle!" Quack tells the ant that he's not a turtle, he's a duck, and that the feet are all Peep's fault. He says to go tell Peep that he can't move and is smooshing ants! The ant, meanwhile, is curious about how Quack can be a duck if he looks like a turtle. Quack tells him it's complicated, and to please tell Peep---the chicken who looks like a butterfly---to come back here and wake up so Quack can go back to being a duck. Kay-kay? The ant stares at Quack, confused, asking if he's OK. Quack assures him that he's fine, he just needs him to go get Peep and tell him to fly home immediately.

At that moment an apple falls to the ground and the ant just avoids getting smooshed. He runs behind Quack's legs, yelling at him to look out, as four more apples fall to the ground. Quack hides his head in his shell during this. Once it's over, he squeezes it out and looks up. The ant thanks Quack for saving his life, and tells him he owes him. Quack doesn't really care and is more interested in the ant going to find Peep and telling him that this duck is tired of being a turtle. "Got it," the ant says. "Turtle---no. Duck---yes. I am on it!" he finishes, saluting Quack, who watches him leave, then sniffs the fallen apple. Liking the smell of it, he tries to suck it towards himself, and sucks it into his mouth whole! After the initial surprise, he chews it happily.

We cut to Peep flying around by a tree, commenting on how big and flappy his wings are. We pan out to see Chirp watching him and more of the unique scenery. Peep shows Chirp that he can do a loop-de-loop, and lands on a branch. Chirp is impressed and then shows Peep what she can do. Doing an exaggerated waddle, she sings in a deep voice, "I'm a duck and ducks are best, better than all the rest...of you guys..." By the end it's clear she herself realizes she can't do more than imitate Quack's style. However, she points out she loves her hat. The two giggle and Peep asks her what else is fun about being a duck. Chirp says waddling is fun, as it feels sort of like rocking, demonstrating it as she walks around the tree---oh right, this is her tree. She then points out that her big flat feet make a lot of noise, clonking them around to show what she means. Peep then asks her if she wants to try swimming. Chirp finds the idea pleasantly interesting, and they should do it. The two then go off, Chirp waddling and Peep flying. Just then, the ant reaches the tree, and tries to yell to them to come back, as there's a very confused turtle who needs their help. Sighing, he keeps running after them. 

We fade to the blue sky, where Peep flies around. We pan out to see Chirp following him up the hillside, to an orange tree he's near. As the two go past the tree, we hear a voice saying, "Hello! Excuse me! It's Newton!" Peep and Chirp pause in their tracks and, as Newton explains he's in the tree, look up to see Newton as a green squirrel on a high branch. The pair go over to the tree and Peep muses to Newton about how his dream turned him into a squirrel. Newton says that although he sees that, and that it's thrilling to be in a tree, but he's nervous about coming down. Chirp tells him what the problem is---he's built like a squirrel, but thinking like a turtle. Newton considers this and tells Chirp he sees her point. He still doesn't know how to get into the proper squirrel mindset, however. Peep and Chirp look at each other in confusion and Peep flies up near Newton, telling him that he thinks he needs to be more jumpy. "Like...thiiis?" Newton asks, jumping around a bit, and then looking pleased. Peep nods, and Chirp agrees. Chirp then tells him to picture a huge, yummy acorn on the branch below, and...go! Newton nervously does, and makes it to the branch. He's so pleased with himself that he does a loop-de-loop around the branch, happy to have such an adventure. As Peep flies down, Newton thanks the pair, to which Chirp says, "No problem. Ducks love to give advice!" The two go on their way, as Newton bounces happily around on the branch. Just then, the ant reaches the tree and moans that he'll never catch up, but tiredly keeps on going anyways. 

Peep and Chirp reach the pond, and Chirp nervously sticks her right foot in. Peep asks Chirp what she thinks. Chirp says that the part of her that's a red bird isn't so sure about it. Peep reminds her that it's his dream, and tells her that in his dream she's 100% duck. Chirp is still nervous but heads into the water, telling Peep just to not wake up while she's out there. As she gets deeper into the water, Chirp discovers she likes it, saying it's not scary at all. She lies on her back, swimming around, saying there's no way she can sink, and her feathers don't even feel wet. 

Just then the ant reaches the top of the hillside near the pond, exclaiming, "There you are!" He hurries over to Peep and collapses, asking if Peep knows how hard it is for an ant to chase a butterfly. Peep tells the ant that he's not a butterfly actually, he's a chicken. The ant says, "Don't confuse me. I already got totally confused by a turtle who thinks he's a duck." Too funny. Concerned about Quack, Peep asks the ant where he is. Getting up, the ant tells Peep that Quack is back there, moaning, and that he wants Peep to wake up and turn him back into a duck. "Can you do that? Are you magic or something?" he adds. Again, too funny. Peep tells him that he's just dreaming, and the ant understands. Peep feels bad for Quack and tells Chirp he has to wake up now. Chirp asks him if he's sure as she splashes around, saying she likes it out here. Peep's wings then begin to shrink, signaling that he's waking up; he tells Chirp to hurry up, that it's happening, that he's starting to...

...and it's here that the screen goes blurry again and we transition back to Peep and Quack under the tree in their nap. Peep drowsily mumbles the last two words of the sentence he was saying and blinks. Then, surprised, he gets up, worried about Chirp, thinking she's still in the pond and that he has to save her. Awww. Of course that's when Chirp appears, telling Peep she's right here and asking him what's up. At this point Quack and Newton wake up and as Quack sits up, Peep, relieved says he guesses it was just a dream! He then talks about how he was a butterfly, Quack was a turtle, Newton was there too in a tree as a squirrel, and Chirp was a duck. Quack, yawning, chuckles at the idea of Chirp being a duck, finding it funny. Chirp is offended by this, saying she'd make a good duck. Quack, however, can't get over how funny the idea of a duck afraid to get wet is. "Headline: duck 'fraid to get wet!" he laughs. Chirp angrily tells him she would not be afraid---she'd be totally, totally not afraid. It's clear from the way Quack's looking at her, however, that he did not mean to be offensive. Newton, meanwhile, asks Peep if he had fun in the dream as a squirrel. Peep tells him that he did, once he got the hang of it. As we get a wide shot of them all happy under the tree, Newton says he's so glad that he finally got to climb a tree, and Quack yawns, giving a chuckle. 

Thoughts on the Episode

Back when I first watched Peep in 2007 and 2008, season four didn't exist, so I didn't really know about this episode until around 2014, when I saw the page for it on the wiki, and remember thinking how strange it looked. It was some months ago that I finally watched it.

So what to say about "Trading Places"? It's different, since it's a dream episode and gets a little surreal, but at least it's not one of those dream episodes where you don't find out until the end. That wouldn't work in Peep at all, I don't think, as that sort of idea is generally used to undramatize the story, and Peep isn't a drama by any means.

This isn't an idea that I really liked as it was in Peep, but it was quite pleasantly done and made for a sweet episode. True, Quack as a turtle looks just bizarre, and Chirp as a duck was particularly odd, but the way the characters all reacted to their situations in the dream was very amusing, particularly Quack.

Storywise, this is a very simple episode, with not very many characters. I'm not a huge Newton fan, but I think it's nice that he gets to feature prominently in an episode every once in a while. And that ant was not only ridiculously cute, but had some of the best lines in the episode. It's strange how out of the Kathy Waugh episodes I've reviewed, this one has the most minimalist storyline but is my favorite (not counting "The Sounds of Silence, Part One" as a single episode). Maybe that's because it uses the premise rather well. It doesn't really go overboard with it's dream sequence, it just makes it amusing.

Oh, and it was pretty sweet how Peep was worried about Chirp when he woke up. Because that's how all of us are after we've had a dream where something happens to someone that we don't want to happen in real life. Our first instinct when we wake up is to find them and make sure they're safe. So it was nice of Chirp to show up at that moment to reassure him.

Other than that, there's not much to say about this episode. Is it one of my favorites? No. Is it a classic? No. But is it one of my least favorites, like, "The Sounds of Silence Part II?" Definitely not. It's just a nice piece of fluff that I would expect from a show for children. The fact that Peep, at it's best, is so much more than that is what really speaks volumes about the show. It's a freakin' good show, with great writing, so it's episodes like this that I can do more than forgive, I can actually sort of welcome, as it's a nice break from writing perfection.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my review. I wonder what episode I'll review next?

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