Saturday, 28 November 2015

Het Huis Anubis: Episodes 1 ,2, 3 and 4

As a huge fan of House of Anubis, I decided to go back to where it all began. Het Huis Anubis: the original show. And since nobody reads this blog that hasn't been updated for several years, I can start something that may never get finished.

I've decided to knock over several of each of the 10 minute episodes at a time. I have most of Season 1 with (poor quality) English subtitles from YouTube but after that you'll be relying on my knowledge of Dutch.

NOTE: I do not speak Dutch.

The first episode starts, as the American version does, with Nienke (Nina) arriving at her new school for the first time. This time, she's with her grandmother who is sending her to boarding school so she can move into a retirement home.

As Nienke arrives, a car barrels out of the driveway. Those of us who've seen the other version suspect this may be the car with Joyce (Joy) in it? Although the later exposition given in this episode suggests this isn't the case.

Nienke arrives with an eerie, Gothic creaking door to the impressive Het Huis Anubis. She is, once again, greeted by Victor who declares her 'late' and gives her a potted history of the house, owned by the Winstbrugge-Hennegouwe's until inherited by his grandfather. So we know upfront that Victor owns this house.

This time when Nienke sees the photo of the Anubis residents, Joyce is still in it suggesting they hadn't yet gotten around to removing her from the photos.

We cut to the school where van Swieten is giving students either a make-up test or a study group before the start of term (not entirely sure, actually). We meet Mick (sporty) and Mara (brainy) before cutting back to the house to hear Victor's hilariously dated house rules. We meet Trudy and of course Corvus (which literally means 'raven' so Victor named his Raven, Raven).

That is so awesomely literal and so Victor that I don't know why the writers changed it to Corbierre for the American version. The raven has long been associated with death so when Victor strokes Corvus, he's stroking death. Corvus is taxidermied, showing a desire to control death. But stuffing it only gives it the appearance of life, which tells you all you need to know about Victor and his perpetual failures.

Everything that happens in this show and at the end we still have Victor, alone and mortal, stroking his Corvus in a house full of youth that will never begin to understand him because they're not at the end of a life devoted to a hopeless cause.

Continuing Nienke and Victor's house tour, we find out that Patricia is sharing a room with Mara before meeting Patricia back at the school. She comes off as intense and extroverted and a bit of a rebel but far more comfortable in her own skin than the American version is.

"Where's Joyce?" she asks, for what new viewers will be unaware is the first of about a billion times.

And the beginning of why the American version got this, at least, right and the original went wrong. Joyce did not come back to school from holidays. So what? If my best friend didn't show up at school after the holidays and then didn't answer her phone or emails and I heard her family had taken her out of school, I would have been angry and upset and confused - not convinced she'd been kidnapped. Having her arrive at school and move back into her room and make plans and attend classes and then disappear was much more effective at explaining Patricia's obsession than this.

Back to the house, where the music is telling us that Victor's being creepy while he explains that the cellar and the attic are out of bounds. And then he takes her to her room. Which is with Amber. So, in this version Joyce was sharing with Amber? Ok.

Downstairs, Amber (the Barbie) has received a bright pink gift, which she opens while an actually creepy figure lurks in the background. It's Appie (the clown), we find out when the present explodes and Amber is covered in soot. But I have to admit that lurking figure in the background was the first time I got a genuinely creepy vibe off this show.

Amber's crying and yelling how she almost died. It's a nice introduction to our little drama queen, and paves the way for her over-the-top reaction to Nienke being in her room. Although it still makes more sense when this is Patricia. Amber throws Nienke and her belongings into the hallway.

And that's the end of episode 1, with Nienke totally and completely alone in the hallway of a strange house with her life scattered around her. Very nice.

As episode 2 starts, Nienke is back in her room unpacking and making her bed and I feel like I've missed something. I guess she went back in and Amber left and there was some sort of explanation for everything in Offscreenville (so much happens there, I should set a story there myself).

Patricia storms in and grabs Joyce's stuffed toy and, again, if Joyce's parents decided not to send her back to school this term then of course some of her things would still be there. Another small thing that makes more sense in the American version.

"Where's Joyce?" asks Patricia. Again. It's dinnertime at Table Anubis. Her obsession is starting to show already as she's completely ignoring Mara here. Nienke comes in and I guess she's so shy and overwhelmed and upset about her grandmother going into a home that she just sits down and doesn't introduce herself. Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) smiles at her but she says nothing.

Mara, loudly, asks Patricia who she is and Patricia sneers, "Joyce's replacement!" and Nienke still says nothing. Is this Nienke mute or something? I get that she's supposed to be really shy but she could at least tell these people she's going to be living with her name.

Amber comes in and does the "you're in my place, where's Mick?" thing and Nienke silently moves next to Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) and still doesn't say anything. How do these two painfully shy dorks ever hook up?

I remember reading a comment about this show that said Fabian "fell in love with her at first sight". If that's the case, then "love at first sight" looks like mild curiosity and general pleasantness.

Mick comes in and we're made aware that Mara has a thing for him and Amber's insecure about their relationship, mostly I suspect because she has romantic fantasies based around bad young adult romance novels.

Back at the tables, Jeroen (the bad one) and Appie are mucking around and Amber is serving Mick like she's his fucking hausfrau or something. So I guess her real problem is her romantic notions were formed in about 1876 (since this is pre-Twilight and I can't blame that). Either way, this relationship is doomed the minute she gets a life.

Patricia hooks into Nienke about who she is and what she knows about Joyce and Appie throws spaghetti at her and it come across as the whole table bullying her so when she goes up to speak to her grandmother she's even more alone and miserable than she was before.

Back downstairs, Patricia demands Victor tell her where Joyce is and he just says that Joyce is gone. Patricia pulls out the bear and says, "She'd never leave this behind" and again, show.... she didn't. She just didn't come back from the holidays. Patricia later says to Fabian that Joyce "left important things behind and didn't say goodbye" but neither of those things are true because she wasn't there at all.

Appie's sorry about the spaghetti but Patricia's congratulating him on making Nienke leave the table (even though she really left for the phone) and Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) castigates her. Patricia's all like, "It's totally weird how my friend didn't come back from holidays and now this boarding house that's a business put a new paying customer in her bed just like that! It's a CONSPIRACY and Nienke has everything to do with it."

And, as I promise I will stop saying, this comes across as totally batshit in this version.  At least in the American one, Joyce leaves during the day and so Patricia wakes up with one roommate and goes to bed with another and her seething brain adds 2 and 2 and comes up with 57. This just makes her sound barking mad.

As Fabian says, "Why would they leave her room empty for three months?"

Patricia basically says Fabian's a selfish idiot whose good grades are meaningless so he leaves the table. Neither Mara nor Amber back her up so she storms off.

Later, Victor is monologuing to Corvus about having promised not to tell anyone where Joyce is when Patricia comes in for another round of "Where's Joyce? I want to speak to Joyce. Give me Joyce's number" and Victor throws her out. She vows to find out what he has to do with Joyce's disappearance.

As the second episode ends, Victor stands in the middle of house yelling that it's "10 o'clock and he wants to be able to hear a pin drop". He also drops an actual pin, which is just as awesome in both versions.

Appie defiantly runs around the house because he "has 3 minutes left."

In the office, Victor burns Joyce's teddy bear and I'm forced to conclude the only reason for him to do this in either version is that he's a massive dick. Mara admits to Amber she's worried about Joyce and Patricia and Nienke cries herself to sleep.

The next morning, Mara wants to throw a party but can't get anyone excited about the idea. Maybe that's because my English subtitles tell me she wants to "cut the arts" ???!? which doesn't sound like much fun to me. Patricia says it sounds like she wants to pretend nothing's wrong because JOYCE (I'm working around the hilarious subtitles at this stage) and so I guess this party idea is DOA.

Mick asks Mara to tutor him and Amber attacks some cakes instead of her but is obviously seething with jealousy. This Mick comes off as more of a player than the American version (who mostly just seemed self-absorbed and oblivious) so I think her jealousy here is probably not without cause.

That night, Patricia finds the message in the fog on the mirror that will propel her into her new stage of crazy while downstairs Mick and Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) talk about girls in a way that's actually kind of adorable.

When Mick raises the issue of Nienke, Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) shows his first hint of personality by defending her. He points out that blaming her for existing is kind of stupid and Mick, of course, interpets this as romantic interest. He actually refers to Nienke as an "ugly ducking" so either he's blind or teenage boys really are that stupid. Still, I remember having a crush on a gorgeous guy at school that some of the sillier girls told me was ordinary looking because he didn't fulfill some sort of stupid TV/magazine ideal. Boy did they eat their words when he hit 20. Damn.

Upstairs, Nienke is clearing the steam off the mirror and is discovered by Patricia who went to get Mara to see the message. Which was, of course, "Help me Joyce". And in either version, I have no idea what Patricia thinks that was. Also, whoever did it didn't punctuate it properly so it looks as though someone is asking Joyce for help.

Either way Patricia is now convinced that Nienke was "erasing evidence" or something and, since it's not the craziest thing she's believed, we'll just move the next day. Nienke gets up early to go and visit her grandmother, which means we endure more of Patricia's increasingly deranged conspiracy theories at the breakfast table. This time even Appie tells her to stop (although does that mean he wasn't the one who wrote on the mirror to tease her? Who did?).

Amber's too distracted by Mara rather intimately tutoring Mick in the background to pay much attention, although she does break in to point out that Nienke's just gone to visit her grandmother. Patricia declares this ailing-grandmother Sunday morning visit convenient because she is a crazy person.

Jeroen says something that doesn't translate, which I assume was basically massively sexist. Either way, everybody ignores him and Patricia asks Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) to spy on Nina. You can imagine how he reacts to that suggestion.

In the retirement/nursing home, (Benelux aged care is outside my experience, I'm afraid) Nienke sees a painting of Anubis and meets Sarah for the first time who rather vaguely and creepily tells her the house is dark and evil and watched over by a black bird so she should be careful. Nienke looks appropriately freaked out.

Probably not surprising she has a nightmare about it that night, which Patricia and Appie make worse by breaking into her room and screeching at her while she's dreaming. Amber's mother duck instincts kick in and she turfs them out. Nienke then tells Amber about Sarah and the dream.

The next day, Patricia - and I usually refuse to use this word for obvious reasons - is still being a vicious little bitch about the dream, running around telling everybody and screeching "black bird!" to Nienke whenever she sees her. Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) asks her to stop her bullying behaviour and start acting like the Patricia he used to know.

Meanwhile, the Amber, Mara, Mick triangle is continuing nicely - albeit without Mick's knowledge. Amber's annoyed about him and Mara but, since there is no him and Mara, he sees her withdrawal as a rejection.

On to drama, where we meet new teacher Jason Winker who's supposed to be so totally hot that all the girls swoon or something. I don't see it, personally, but I do remember being 15 and thinking any teacher under the age of 25 was gorgeous merely by being under 25 so I guess it makes sense.

We get even more footage of Patricia being an asshole to Nienke before suggesting, with the backing of Jeroen and Appie, that Nienke be initiated into the group (the translator has used the word 'hazed' here, not sure which is better as the latter is more of an Americanism). This initiation will apparently involve the attic and will happen "when she least expects it".

Fabian (oh Fabian, my Fabian) is against it but Nienke agrees because....? I have no idea. This Nienke is so reserved and so shy I have no clue what she's thinking. Nina agreed because she was tired of the bullying and wanted to show strength. Let's just assume Nienke's motivated by wanting to fit in.

Meanwhile, Mick and Amber reconcile and he gives her a friendship bracelet he had made (although we know from a previous scene with Fabian he has more than one so...that'll end well). Mara sees them and makes jealous face as Mick and Amber totally make out. Wow. What happened to closed-lip kisses and hand holding? Naughty! I like it! Or maybe this show hadn't yet worked out just how young their audience was going to end up being.

Either way, that's it for the first four episodes. The soapy nature of this show made it a little less interesting to recap than I thought but I'll keep going for now.

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