The Other Half of the Battle: “The Funhouse”

Continuing our look at key episodes of G.I. Joe (1983), G.I. Joe (1989), and GI Joe Extreme (1995)…

“The Funhouse”
original airdate 10/01/85
Written by Steve Mitchell and Barbara Petty

The plot in one sentence: Cobra kidnaps scientists and makes six Joes run the gauntlet of a deathtrap-filled funhouse.

Personal Trivia: I own a production animation cel and background from this episode.  They’ll be in the book.

G.I. Joe Trivia: Steve Mitchell, co-writer of this episode, inked the covers to three issues of Marvel’s monthly G.I. Joe comic book.  Before he got into writing and producing, Mitchell was an inker seen on many a Marvel and DC title, notably Norm Breyfogle’s Batman and Detective Comics runs.

Best thing about this episode: Dusty pops a balloon filled with gas and hallucinates.  His reaction, and the character animation on this scene are great:

G.I. Joe "The Funhouse" screencap Dusty, Airtight, Cobra Commander

Worst thing about this episode that’s also kind of the best thing about this episode: This carnival barker Cobra Commander robot.

G.I. Joe "The Funhouse" screencap Cobra Commander robot

Best line:

Cobra Commander (from an overhead monitor): “Despite your rudeness, I offer you a sporting chance.  Three doors, three choices.  Two of them lead to dead ends.”

Flint: “What about the third one?”

Cobra Commander: “It leads to me.”

Alpine: “Then all the doors are losers.”

Worst example of one character finishing another’s sentence:

Lady Jaye: “I don’t know where we’re going–”

Air-Tight: “–But anywhere’s an improvement.”

Does it hold up? This episode is a strange one.  It’s straightforward – Cobra, scientists, Joes, deathtraps – until you look carefully.  It’s best not to think too hard about where and how Cobra comes up with its deathtraps, but the ones in “Funhouse” really beg some questions.  Who built an indoor roller coaster in a Latin American step pyramid?  Would Cobra Commander have been upset if all six Joes had taken one door and the other deathtraps had gone to waste?  On the positive side, the character animation is so great, year one character (and discontinued action figure) Zap makes an appearance, the pacing is tight and the banter snappy, and there’s an explosion that looks suspiciously like a mushroom cloud.  Not a good representation of the show at its most grounded, but definitely the pinnacle of the show’s balance of cool and zany.

Tim Finn gives this episode 5 out of 5 MacGuffins

I give it 5 out of 5 MacGuffins.

1 Comment

Filed under The Other Half of the Battle (Episode Reviews)

One response to “The Other Half of the Battle: “The Funhouse”

  1. Nate

    I’m with you on this episode, man. I think I’ve only watched it maybe once or twice and it was an oddball one, to be sure (although I never critically thought about it as you posed in this blog entry), but I think because snippets of it were used in the closing credits montage for a while, it became an iconic episode. The colors and action are fun in it. In fact, I think I’m going to go watch it right now!

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