After I decided to pick a Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors episode for this week's "Worst Ever" review, I ran into a bit of a snag. Despite being about a skunk-haired kid who roams the galaxy with an intensely annoying crew while fighting evil plant-cyborg vehicles called Monster Minds, Jayce is so unloved that it was impossible to decide which episode might be the worst. So I picked the episode with the word "circus" in it. Even if it isn't the worst, holy hell is it bad.
"Circus Planet" begins with Jayce, Herc and the absolutely loathsome robot Oon driving around some mountain planet in the eternal search for Jayce's dad. Jayce drives into a mountain -– literally, into a mountain, thanks to some completely inconsequential vehicle power -– where he finds a black ball. Back at the spaceship, he puts a white ball into the black ball and then it floats and turns into an orange ball which projects a hologram of Jayce's dad which explains he's hanging out on a goddamned circus planet.
A quick note: the overarching plot of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is Jayce's search for his dad, because they each have half of the "magic root" that will stop the evil Monster Mind plant-robot-vehicles and their leader SawBoss from… doing whatever it is they want to do. Now, instead of trying to find his son while his son tries to find him, Jayce's dad leaves this elaborate series of clues to his next move, putting the burden of finding him and thus saving the goddamn universe on Jayce's meager cognitive abilities. He could be trying to meet his son half-way, or pick a spot they both could get to at some point in the future, but no, he's running a goddamn scavenger hunt while the rest of the universe is being brutalized by asshole plants.
Anyways! Jayce and his crew — which include the Han solo rip-off Herc, the rejected Cookie Crisp wizard Gillian, the young plant girl Flora (who puts her hair in three ponytails), and the aforementioned Oon, who is basically Orko if he were a tiny, lance-wielding robot — split up to see the cavalcade of horror that is the circus. This includes:
• Four-armed trapeze artists, which seems kind of like cheating.
• Three-trunked elephants, which are more disturbing-looking than they sound.
• Some kind of albino pig man walking a tight rope.
• A clown that gives away "candy," including "carnivorous cotton candy," which sprouts a face and tries to eat Oon. The candy monster is infinitely less terrifying than the clown.
• An alien who's asking people to use his teleportation machine. A brief discussion with Flora reveals his teleportation machine hasn't worked in over 100 years. The question of why he's set up a booth to exhort people to use his teleportation machine when it doesn't even work is not answered.
Eventually Jayce's dad Audric gets a little proactive and starts to search for his son. He asks a giant ant-person if he's seen Jayce; the ant replies yes, but wants to be paid for the information. Audric, appalled at the idea of giving someone money in order to find his son and save the entire fucking universe, says no deal. So the ant points him towards some big top and then telepathically reports to the evil SawBoss about it. SawBoss declares his willingness to blow up the entire planet -– presumably because it's a goddamned circus planet -– but instead he only sends down some of his evil plants, which transform into Monster Minds.
Flora uses the three-point triangulation system that is her hair to realize the evil plant-cyborg cars are on their way, and she and Gillian tell Jayce. Jayce declares he has to find the ringmaster before SawBoss gets there, or the circus is finished, because of course this horrible goddamned circus planet -– actually, not the even the goddamned Circus Planet, but the Circus Planet's goddamned circus –- may close, which is obviously of paramount importance compared to every other fucking thing in the galaxy.
While Jayce's dad has somehow gotten lost on his way to the giant big top, Jayce and Herc manage to get inside and discover the ringmaster, a portly man with the world's worst W.C. Fields' impression. Jayce and Herc warn him about the invading Monster Minds, but the ringmaster dismisses the threat, saying the circus has neutrality. Apparently, the circus is recognized as its own political entity. Then the ringmaster looks inside his top hat and sees the Monster Minds invading, because why the hell not. He very astutely tells the audience they're being attacked, and everyone freaks the fuck out (including an odd group of aliens who look identical and run in a completely straight line perpendicular to the camera –- almost as if the animators were so lazy they only drew one alien fleeing the scene and repeated it five times on the same screen).
Jayce summons his Lightning League vehicles, and then just waits for them to arrive. Why bother running to them? They'll get there eventually, right? But in an outcome no one could have predicted, the Monster Minds arrive first and chase the trio back into the big top. Jayce starts climbing a rope, because, hey, circus, whatever. Meanwhile, Herc sets up an incredibly wretched sequence of events which involve Oon on a teeter-totter, a Monster Mind punching the other side of the teeter totter for no discernable reason, Oon flying through the air and grabbing on to a pole, sliding down it and snapping one rope, which somehow leads the entire circus net to fall on the massive plant vehicle. This is presented as a successful gambit, and not moronic.
But if there's one scene that could somehow encapsulate everything that's shitty about Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors in general and this episode in particular, it's this: Jayce makes it to one of the small platforms the tightrope is attached to when one of the Monster Minds has the brilliant idea of actually shooting at Jayce. Jayce is forced to step onto the tightrope, which is when the vehicle manages to absolutely destroy the platform, leaving the rope hanging straight out in mid-air. And Jayce fucking walks on it. And before you get some idea that it's some kind of solid space rope or something, the same Monster Mind shoots the rope again a second later, and then it falls it down with Jayce swinging on it, Tarzan-style. Finally, the Lightning League vehicles arrive, Jayce and Herc jump in, and then proceed to drive around, still denying their young audience the meager action they've so desperately craved.
Having been ordered to go back to the ship, Flora and Gillian instead wander around until they find the ringmaster huddled with a group of incredibly disturbing clowns. The two of them exhort the carnies to defend their precious circus, but they're too sacred… until the elderly man and little girl go to face the Monster Minds on their own. So then we're treated to the sight of a group of unarmed circus folk coming to fight against giant, evil, armed, monster truck-plant monsters, as if this is heroic and not immensely stupid.
The crowd joins the three Lightning League vehicles -– because even though only Herc and Jayce are driving (Oon's with Jayce), there are three vehicles being drawn –- which begin battling with the Monster Minds, with little clown-painted sacks of flesh caught in the middle. I'd say for no discernable purpose, except that a group of four rhino people jump on one Monster Mind, causing it to bash itself in its face with its own smashing ball attachment (it should be noted some of the rhino people are nude, despite all the other character -– and a one rhino person in the same scene –- are wearing clothes).
Then the aforementioned alien's transportation machine, which Jayce had accidentally drove into earlier, zaps one — one -– Monster Mind, and then somehow the whole fucking battle is over, despite at least five Monster Minds pictured together in a single scene and Jayce and his Wheeled fucking Warriors having taken out zero of them. The nude rhino people were more effective.
But then the weird wizard-y Gillian wanders off, and finds Audric! Jayce's quest is over, and the universe can be saved! …except the alien's teleportation zaps Audric right before he's about to hug Jayce. Oh well! Jayce is mildly disappointed, but he handles the continued peril of the universe pretty well, especially given the fact that since the teleportation machine could have sent his father anywhere, there's a 99.999999999999999999999999999999% or so chance he ended up in the cold vacuum of space and instantly imploded and froze. Gillian ends the episode with some bullshit about the universe having a plan and it being destiny or something.
So What Did We Learn?
• If the universe does control destiny, the universe is a complete and total asshole.
• This may explain why Jayce and his father seem to be in no hurry to save the universe from SawBoss.
• If a clown offers you candy, your "fight or flight" instinct should kick in immediately. If it doesn't, seek a doctor.
• Jayce's father does not consider the universe worth the $20 or so the ant asked him to pay for directions to see his son.
• Top hats apparently have satellite TVs in them.
• The people making the Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors cartoon did not give a shit.
• A giant, evil plant-monster-vehicle-thing is no match for a small rhino person without his pants on.
• If someone wants you to go to a planet full of clowns, even if it's your own father, YOU SAY NO. And then you hit them.