So, I watched Danny Phantom when it first came oout in 2005, and I remember loving it, since it was essentially a Spider-Man cartoon with a ghost skin. Having recently bought the complete series on DVD, I thought it would be a good idea to review the show episode by episode.
Unfortunately, I thought the the pilot episode was average at best. Since I don't want to leave things on a sour note, I'll be starting with the bad and gowith the good.
Bad: Jack Fenton does not get a good introduction here. I know being obsessed with ghosts is his thing, but he comes across as egotistical and annoying, especially with how he intereacts with Jazz and trying to prove she's a ghost in the show's B-plot. Sure, he was humble when willing to change when he briefly thought that ghosts didn't exist (and somehow not hearing the big explosion going on in the background along with Jazz and Maddie), but when he is proven right he reverst to childish gloating. He's also either absent-minded or impatient, given how he doesn't hear how Maddie says the Fenton Finder is only almost done (then again, Maddie never corrects him, so whatever).
Also, Sam isn't really polished either. I'm not talking about trying to change the school cafeteria menu (we'll get with that), but she goes into a mini-burst about how her parents don't get her during Danny's more legitimate and relevant problems, and her comment at the beginning at calling cell phones "mainstream" reminded me a lot of [[Series/Community Britta Perry]], and not in a good way. Same goes for Jazz, but she was never annoying.
As for the main plot as it resolves around changing the menu, everyone except maybe Danny keeps going to extremes on the issue. Yes, schools should offer a vegetarian alternative, but it's astounding (and possibbly unrealistic) that Sam was able to change the entire school's cafeteria menu with no alternatives. Also, that part of the plot just kinda stops at the end of the episode. I guess we're supposed to assume that the cafeteria goes back to how it was, but it's more focused on letting Danny get one up on Dash.
Good: I liked Danny a lot. While I think the episode would've been if it started with him getting his powers, but there's nothing wrong with what we get and his arc of the episode is serviceable, as is his wit.
The Lunch Lady comes off well as a bi-polar lunch lady set in tradition, and she actually puts up a really good fight against Danny. We never see how much of a toll controlling her meat puppets takes on her, but I doubt Danny would’ve won the fight without the thermos. While it's easy to see why this is the only episode where she was a main villain, I could totally see a sequel episode where she sets up a fast food or grocery store chain around Amity Park (and then the world!!! and it turns everyone who eats her meat into her minions and Danny has to stop her and everyone he knows, including Tucker.
Notes/Nitpicks: Just what "war" was Jack's family affected by that his family to eat horse meat? Did his family visit Vietnam during the war and were cut off from traveling back to the states for some time?
Why did Dash leave Lancer's office to make sure Danny and Tucker didn't escape? All Lancer needed was the broom, so why not keep an eye on the two of them?
So, when Danny passes out after rescuing Sam and Tucker from the Lunch Lady, he falls from the air and Tucker bounces in a way that, if this were real life, would've broken his neck twice over. Sam probably would've gotten some bad bruises, and Danny's half-dead, so he’s probably fine.
Am I the only one who finds it weird that as part of his Meat Protest, Tucker arranged for a bunch of dancer girls to dress up as sausages? Seriously, Freud would have a field day with this one. Was the reason the Fenton Thermos never worked until now was because it needed contact with a ghost itself so it knew what signature to look for? I ask because Danny starts glowing like blue when the thermos warms up for the first time. Aside from Danny looking the same in hero and civilian mode in addition to Fenton and Phantom sounding the same, Danny phasing the dumpster of meat to punish Dash is one of the many times where people should've figured out Danny's secret a LONG time ago.
Best Joke: Danny-"(after Tucker and Sam storm out of Danny's house) Eh, well I'm sure everything will be back to normal by tomorrow.(dissolve to next scene) Orrr not. Maybe it'll be worse." Can't beat the classics.
Missed Opportunities: I wish that the pilot were an hour long like Reign Storm or Ultimate Enemy. What I would’ve had Danny go into the portal and get his powers, which fuels Jack’s hope that he and Maddie have finally made contact with the ghost zone. Throughout the episode, Danny’s struggling to figure out what to do with his powers while Jack’s trying to prove that he’s made a breakthrough, but not having any evidence to the contrary. You could even have Jazz have a mini realization when she realizes her father was right. Keep the meat vs. veggies conflict, but have it end with the cafeteria adding a vegan option to the lunch menu. That way, you can have a “the more things change, the more they stay the same” moral, showing that Danny can do good with his powers but still be a normal kid.