Plot: We open on the Planet of Unusually Tall Things, with Jim and his sidekick Peter trying to escape Professor Monkey-for-a Head. They do manage it, but the Professor escapes when Jim steps on Peter's foot, triggering the dog's transformation into a huge, purple beast. This prompts Jim to fire Peter as his sidekick, though they will continue to live together. Awkward.
Across the galaxy, Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt tasks Psycrow with capturing her sister, Princess What's-her-Name (so many hyphens), who then he will ransom to Jim in exchange for his super-suit. The plan hits two snags. One, the Princess is an immensely strong resistance leader who proves difficult to keep prisoner. Two, Jim can't decipher Pyscrow's note to figure out where he would need to deliver the suit to, and goes through a series of sidekicks while rescuing the wrong princesses from the wrong treacherous hideouts.
Ultimately Jim does find the right dangerous location, but the day is saved because Peter stowed away in the rocket and was able to control his transformation for once, mostly.
Quote of the Episode: Psycrow - 'On no, a puppy. I must abandon my evil plan lest he destroy my very self. *pause* You unnerstand that was sarcasm, right?'
Cow at the End? Yes.
Peter transforming Count: 2 (2 overall).
Other: Did Calvin want some lighter fare after a steady diet of Nazis and their asskissing wannabes on Foyle's War? Yes. Also I wanted a show I didn't have to set aside 90 minutes per episode.
So, Earthworm Jim. At first I thought it was strange to have the first episode be one which is all about Jim getting rid of his sidekick for being an active hindrance, but it was probably seen as a good way to introduce Peter, what makes him unique, how he fits with Jim. They're can both be drama queens, Jim with all his bombast and shouting, bold invocations of the Great Worm Spirit. A lot like Marvel's Thor or Hercules, really. Peter's the fawning fan, just wanting to stick by his hero, and thrown into despair when that's taken away. He even attempts to describe his woe to Snot (the semi-sentient pile of boogers that normally lives in Jim's backpack) through interpretive dance, before descending into a tantrum.
Of course, Peter's small stature and emotional state hide that he does possess some heroic nature, in the same way they hide a monstrous power. Jim's a worm-thingy, as the guy at the hero store describes him, not an organism noted for strength, nobility, or heroism. 'Spineless worm' is not used as a compliment. But Jim still uses his powers for good, rescuing hostages and such. Peter's transformation gave him the capacity to save Jim, in the way the suit altered Jim so he can fight evil.
Pyscrow's letter to Jim states he was keeping the Princess in the one place even Jim would be too terrified to approach. Then Jim immediately sets out for the Swamp of Appalling Peril, so my reaction was that Psycrow underestimated how terrified Jim would be. As it turned out, that wasn't the correct terrifying place, so maybe that wasn't the problem. Jim hadn't selected a scary enough location to look.
As you might have guessed from the names of some of the locales and the characters, it's not terribly subtle. Jim finally figures out the correct location by reading about a place that is a favorite of man-sized crows in yellow spacesuits. Well, even if Jim does have four hyper-intelligent brains, those are hyper-intelligent by worm standards, presumably, so that's not saying much.
I'd forgotten how much the show feels like a series of loosely connected gag set-ups. Maybe it's just this episode, with the multiple brief sequences of Jim exploring different dangerous places and losing a succession of crap sidekicks in the process. But I suspect I'll find most episodes have a thin plot designed to serve as something to hang various jokes on. Which is OK by me as long as I get a good laugh out of it.