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Western Animation / Dorbees: Making Decisions

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.
All that is seen and unseen.
And in the panorama that is the unseen,
Beyond the secret world of the insect,
Beyond the atoms that form the grass they hide behind,
In the infinitesimal pantheon that lurks beneath our feet and beats with hearts anew,
Live...the Dorbees!
The introduction

Dorbees: Making Decisions is an obscure 1998 Christian Direct to Video computer animated film created by Benjy Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band, and produced by Benjy's studio Live Bait Productions. It mainly centers on two loosely-connected stories revolving around the titular "Dorbees": One about two children named Jack and Mary-Jane who ditch school to explore an old abandoned house, and the other about a vaguely Scandinavian immigrant named Otto trying to fit in with "the common folk" by going to a clothing store run by a 70's-obsessed Dorbee named "Dig". A third short revolving around a superhero duo named "Mr. Poe and Yogul" appears in-between the two.

Dorbees was intended to become a full series of tongue-in-cheek Christian cartoons in a similar vein to VeggieTales, but only one other installment began production before the whole concept was lost to Development Hel-er… Heaven. However, the film’s legacy was carried on somewhat by Gaither's Pond, a similarly Uncanny Valley direct-to-video Christian CGI cartoon series that first debuted the previous year and was also a Live Bait production.


Tropees, everywhere I look I see Tropees…

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The Dorbee world is more or less this; the opening narration states that they live in some kind of parallel realm that seemingly exists at the subatomic scale of our own, and as can plainly be seen over the course of the film, it is a World Gone Mad.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: One of the earlier, more ambitious examples not to have come from a major studio. As for the quality, well, you be the judge…
  • Ambiguously Related: The last name of every Dorbee whose full name is given is literally "Dorbee" despite no obvious familial relation.
  • Art Shift: Mr. Poe and Yogul employs Cel Shading to give the short a comic book-like appearance.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: All of Flec's appearances last about 30 seconds each, and yet he somehow manages to change his train of thought about 10 different times!
    • Also applies to Delta, as when telling the stories of the kids and Otto, he frequently blathers on about completely unrelated Noodle Incidents that each tale reminds him of (an encounter at the music store where the school now sits and a one-armed drummer, respectively) as the real stories fade in.
  • Broken Aesop: All three plots we see are about "making the right decisions", but in all of them the message is fundamentally broken in some way:
    • Jack and Mary Jane: The “right” decision is supposed to be for them to stay in school, but considering the teacher was giving them factually incorrect lessons (he says the sum of the sides of a triangle is 90 degrees; in reality, the sum of the ''angles'' is ''180'' degrees) and the school's security system flat out tries to kill them as soon as they step out of the classroom (nothing is done to establish that this system could tell the difference between kids intending to leave school and kids leaving the class for a legitimate reason, like to go to the nurse, the bathroom or being checked out), getting out of such a school seems like the much better decision.
    • Otto and Dig: The “right” decision is supposed to be for Dig to be honest, which he ultimately telling Otto that he can't possibly make someone as ugly as him look good (despite being in charge of the best clothing shop in town) and that Otto would be better off sticking to Scandinavian clothes rather than trying to integrate into the local fashion. Jeez. There's being honest, and then there's just being unnecessarily mean about how people look.
    • Mr. Poe and Yogul: Mr. Poe saves Yogul from Dr. Dairy's death trap by pressing a button to free him, ignoring the other two buttons which are labeled "Push for World Peace" and "Push to End World Hunger". Even if there was a reason why Mr. Poe couldn't press all three, pressing either of the other two could have saved millions of lives, making them better decisions than just freeing Yogul.
  • Cephalothorax: All of the Dorbees are malformed spherical heads with small limbs attached and no visible torso or neck.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Flec, a hillbilly Dorbee who Delta describes as “crazy” for his apparent Motor Mouth and constant incoherent babbling that jumps from subject to subject with zero connection.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The B-plot opens with Otto and he seems to be the focus, but it's Dig who ends up learning the lesson.
  • Deranged Animation: Even for its time, the animation and modeling on display looks like it crawled out of the deepest pits of the Uncanny Valley, and even basic Toon Physics are ignored with characters clipping into each other or the scenery constantly.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The newscaster believes Jack deserves to get injured and stuck in the haunted house just because he skipped school.
  • E = MC Hammer: Mr. Oliver's lesson on triangles brings up "MacGyver's theory of gumstick tubing”.
  • Framing Device: Delta narrates both of the stories to the viewer (or at least he tries to before getting side-tracked and rambling about some completely unrelated anecdote as the story fades in). Somewhat confusingly, each segment also ends with an overweight Dorbee on a couch watching them on TV before changing the channel.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Dig is introducing himself to Otto, Dig's assistant Norm can be seen levitating and wildly flipping through the air until he completely phases through the wall, only to re-appear in the next shot. This is never acknowledged.
    • During the news report, two of the students from Jack and Mary-Jane's class try photobombing the reporter.
  • Funny Foreigner: Otto (Scandinavian), Mr. Poe (German), Yogul (even more German), and Dr. Dairy (French).
  • Hammerspace: All Dorbees seem to be capable of pulling various random objects out of their bodies, usually accompanied by a fleshy squishing sound.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the "I Wanna Be Grown-Up" sequence, Mary-Jane at one point jumps up towards the camera. When the camera changes, she can briefly be seen hanging onto a large video camera suspended in midair.
    • At the end of the segment, fake artist, album, and label information can be seen at the bottom as though it was a music video for an actual song.
  • Noodle Incident: Several:
    • Flec somehow managed to get his overalls and a jaw-harp from the general store for free, and he found something in some navel lint (possibly corn fritters?).
    • Delta reminisces over an encounter at the music store that used to be where the school now is, as well as a one-armed drummer, both of which are interrupted by the actual stories fading in.
  • No Sympathy: The newscaster, after learning that Jack and Mary-Jane were injured in the haunted house, says they deserved it for skipping school. Harsh.
  • Overly Long Gag: Mr. Poe pulling various objects out of Hammerspace to try and open the gate.
  • Punny Name: Walter Concrete Dorbee, the newscaster for Dorbee Channel 2.3 Live-Action News.
  • Religious Edutainment: The film was made in collaboration with the Gaither Vocal Band, a southern gospel group, by the son of one of the members and was marketed alongside other direct-to-video Christian kids’ films of the era like Gaither's Pondnote  and VeggieTales. However, the film itself mostly averts this, as three very passing mentions of God are about as overtly religious as it gets.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: During the Mr. Poe und Yogul theme song, when the lyrics are shown on screen "strongest" is spelled "srongest." It may be intentional.
  • Running Gag: Flec shows up at complete random (usually breaking the laws of physics in the process), and goes on a long rant about something he found at the general store for 59 cents, but somehow got for free.
  • Self-Deprecation: Even the theme song seems to lament the existence of the Dorbees:
    Why don’t they go away?!
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Whale Aesop: If you skip school, a high-tech security system will attempt to murder you on the spot with floor traps, turrets, and Indiana Jones style boulders the second you step out of the classroom.
  • Stylistic Suck: "Mr. Poe and Yogul" is an in-universe cheesy German TV show with low production values.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jack and Mary Jane are more impressed by a floating "astro-ball" than finding Elvis or Jimmy Hoffa in the old mansion.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The teacher says that the sum of all sides of a triangle is 90 degrees. Firstly, sides of a polygon are not measured in degrees, angles are. Secondly, in a triangle, the angles add up to 180 degrees.

…Why don't they go awaaaaay?!
— Good question. Why don't they go away?