I’m going to preface by stating that I did watch the first episode of The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo years before I reviewed it properly. My initial impression was it that the show wasn’t great but wasn’t awful. This show didn’t impress any strong emotions or opinions for me. It was alright and just a weird mixture of the concept of have classic literary figures going on weird and magical adventures aimed at children but that is the end of its level of interest. Really I found it an average to middling children show of its time that had Victor Hugo’s characters*.
And now, having watched all the episodes, that it pretty much still the case. For me, it’s fine. It doesn’t make me angry the way 2023’s Quasi or the Dingo production did but nor is a feat of story-telling or artistry. If you were to think of basic premise for a Saturday morning cartoon show that was made in the 90s, a group of friends going on magical adventures with a wizard villain that they have to thwart would be a leading contender. The fact that show uses Quasimodo and Esmeralda with a sorcerer Frollo makes it a little more note-worthy. Still it’s an average cartoon show.
However I do un-ironically love Doris, the pink Gargoyle from a single episode. Maybe it’s a weird affinity I have for pink dinosaurs and pink dragon-like creatures. I do love her, she made me feel something as well as the other dinosaurs from the episodes. So totally worth it.
The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo very much the epitome of a “Saturday morning cartoon show.” Not super deep in its content but instead invokes a sense of “fun” using classical literary characters going on the titular magical adventures.
A Lingering Question
Was The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo a knock-off production? Does it only exist to ride on the coattails of the Disney version?
Given the studios other works, that there is a credit in the opening for “original idea and Graphic design,” a villain was named Yensid, which is Disney spelled backwards, I would say no, it’s not. The timing makes it seems that way but there are no other works from the studios involved in the production that mirror Disney other movies**. is Not sure how both versions came out the same time, I do have a wild speculative theory. Or maybe the idea between was in response to the Disney movie.
In a Nutshell
If you grew up with this show you’ll probably still like it but as a standalone cartoon it’s middling to fine. As a Hunchback version it’s a weird version but it’s definitely a take on the characters and the setting and not so much the plot.
Some Bonus Stuff that I want to Mention
I feel like an idiot for not catching this sooner; Quasimodo’s family name is de Bernasac which had to been inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac
It took me way too long to realize who the cloaked figure was cover art. It’s Robert, the Abomination, from a single episode.
They made dolls and for some reason Esmeralda was packaged with Dennis and Frollo with Dragon. I’m not sure if there were dolls of Quasimodo with François
*There is a 2007 children anime based around Cosette from Les Miserables. She did not go on magical adventures though.
**To be fair, I’m not sure about Arès studios since I couldn’t find a record of their works but looking at the other studios this show is an outliner in works that were similar to Disney animated films.
We’re discussing the Production Values in this post.
Production Values refers to the technical merits of a production. So in terms of animation, it would mean the character design, background design, the style and the quality of animation, music, voice acting, etc.
The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo was produced by Arès Films, CinéGroupe, Télé-Images, and Astral Media. CinéGroupe and Astral Media are Canadian companies while Arès Films and Télé-Images are French companies. Arès Films, CinéGroupe and Télé-Images were on the animation production side of the industry while Astral Media was a media conglomerate.
Perhaps if you grew up with shows produced by these companies you would be more familiar with them and their “notable” shows/films. According to their wiki, CinéGroupe’s most notable productions were The Kids from Room 402, What’s with Andy?, and Pig City. Of those three, The Kids from Room 402 rings a bells for me but I’m not 100% sure if I recall it. They also did the sequel to Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal 2000 but for me that just name recognition. As for Télé-Images, they did Highlander: The Animated Series and again that sounds vaguely familiar to me but I could just be remembering the name of the older show and not the animated show.
What does all the mean for The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo? All it really means is that the studios who produced it did not have widespread cultural reach. Not saying they were not known in their own countries or not successful, they were just not titans of industry. Which is fine.
However production can not happen without financing. According to the credits the financial participants were with Telefilm Canada, the Government of Quebec, and Centre National de la Cinématograohie (France.) All of these are state-funded agencies.
I do not know what the production budget was for The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo. I couldn’t find any info. It might be behind the paywall of imdbpro. However considering the show was financed either fully or in-part by public-funded agencies, I would wildly speculate that the budget for The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo wasn’t exorbitant but it doesn’t appear to be shoe-string either. It was 26 episodes which are mostly consistently produced across the board. In looking through the credits it appears that the animation was not outsourced to a cheaper studio to do in-between frames, which I think is a fairly typical practice. Not outsourcing would have impacted the over-all budget.
I do think that there was a couple hundred grand spent on this show which means a modest to average budget for a 26 episode show which also includes the writing, editing, pre-production etc. There is nothing about the production values that were overtly awful but also nothing amazing. The story and the over-all concept are more “interesting” than the character designs/ setting but again they are fine, very serviceable with getting the point and characters across to the viewer.
I think it would be easy to wave this show off as just another kid’s show from the mid-90s and therefore it just par-for-the-course that it was so averagely produced. But there were quite a few kids shows at the time that were pushing the envelope in terms of stories and animation that it would be disingenuous to those productions. However though shows probably had more of a budget and/or name recognition behind the production.
On a scale of Disney’s Hunchback to the Dingo Production, Magical Adventures falls somewhere is towards middle of the spectrum. It’s not a total trash piece but it’s by no means an example of the art of animation. However I doubt the production behind The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo was trying to be anything more than a semi-decent animated TV show of the mid-90s. It’s average in its scope of its production values and I think that was the goal.
Animation: C- Backgrounds: C- Character Design: C- Music: C Voice Acting: B- (My opinions)
Also I just want to mention that show’s quality of the animation that is available on streaming sites is at disadvantage. This due to the conversion process to covert film to digital which means there are frame-rate issues resulting in frame blending, rainbowing, and artifacts. The show is free so I don’t think much effort was put into the conversion other that to get it in a digital format. So any moments that MIGHT have had good fluid animation, like action scenes, suffer a bit. But at least it is available to watch and not lost to time.
The other members of the main cast (plus a very special bonus)
Dennis is Quasimodo’s primary care-taker. He works at Notre Dame though what he actually does is not clear. He seems to fulfill the arch-deacon role but Notre Dame functions more a secular place of knowledge. For instance, Dennis is always at the ready with just the right book from Notre Dame’s library for any situation.
He also is the King’s advisor and confidante.
King Louis XI
This show depicts King Louis as a kind good-nature ruler. Quasimodo, Esmeralda and François are held in very high esteem with him as they help protect France from Frollo’s scheme to take over. So he’s more akin to the 1939 version rather than the book who was an apathetic misanthrope.
Much like Dennis is Angelica, Esmeralda and François’ adopted grandmother. She took them in and raised them after their parents died when they were babies. Also like Dennis, Angelica is also has just the right piece of knowledge or insight when the situation calls for it. Though her knowledge is based on her experience and know-how rather book knowledge.
She also works at Notre Dame as house keeper of sorts.
Between Dennis and Angelica they either point Quasimodo, Esmeralda and François towards adventures or they help solves the issue.
Djali is Esmeralda’s pet goat and is the best. She is very similar to other versions of the character in that she is highly trained and very intelligent. This Djali is the most intelligent version as she saves Esmeralda’s life not once but twice. She is also either slightly older than Esmeralda or the same age given that Djali saved Esmeralda and François as babies after their parent put them in the river to save them from a forest fire.
Azarof is Frollo’s dog who is very loyal to Frollo even though Frollo is terrible. Frollo does prefers Azarof’s company to other people, which is relatable. Azarof is often used a test subject for Frollo’s magic however Azarof is a very talented singer and a good boy.
Of all the main characters Dragon is the weirdest. Dragon isn’t really a character, he is a stone gargoyle that Frollo brings to life via magic to do the heavy lifting, transport or whatever Frollo needs done. Dragon is Frollo’s brute-strength, a literal strong silent type.
Clopin makes a few appearances. He is one of Frollo’s associates who assists in a few schemes. He is the leader of a gang of thieves and has some association with The Court of Miracles. This might be the only instance of a version having Clopin in cahoots with Frollo since they tend to be on opposite sides thematically.
Though had his name not been associated with a book character I wouldn’t have included “Clopin” as he is a side-character in this show at best.
My home girl Doris
Doris is the best!
She is a pink gargoyle who had an injury but is all better and can fly again. According to the show, Doris was the inspiration for the gargoyles of Notre Dame. She helps Quasimodo who is helping the hidden valley where she lives with other mythical creatures and sauropod dinosaurs.
Doris should have been in more episodes. She is a hit of pure serotonin
Unlike Quasimodo, Esmeralda is a hot-head who will rush into situations. She is the most assertive one of the main characters. However despite being the most brash one of the group she considers herself “the happiest of people.”
Esmeralda and Others
Like all other Esmeraldas, she is very pretty but unlike most Esmeraldas she’s never singled-out for being super attractive. She never captures the attentions of this particular Frollo as he is not into her in the slightest. This Frollo has other motivations.
When Esmeralda first sees Quasimodo, she forms an instant affection for the shy hunchback. Their relationship is very innocence and wholesome. Had the show gone on longer their relationship might have evolved into something more romantic. However she likes his shyness and calls him “dear friend.” It is clear that the show was all for this pairing, as it is the only pairing.
In contrast to other versions, this Esmeralda has a twin brother, named François. François is similar to Gringoire from the novel as François is also a “poet.” This is different from other adaptations and yet the novel does sort-of support this take. After Esmeralda saves Gringoire in the novel, she makes it very clear that they will not be lovers but would have a more sibling-like relationship.
The decision to make Esmeralda and François siblings could have been less about book and more to prevent a love triangle. François and Esmeralda being siblings means the young audience will not root against any flirtations between Quasimodo and Esmeralda. There is at least one episode that Esmeralda has a bit of an admirer which gives Quasimodo some insecurities. Esmeralda does not reciprocate this admirer and it is never mentioned again.
This version also fixes Esmeralda’s backstory from the book so it that it’s free of negative stereotypes but still akin to the novel. Esmeralda and her brother are raised by their grandmother, Angelica, who took them in after their parents died. However this is only part of the story. Esmeralda and François believed that Angelica was a blood-relation and thus they were fully member of the nomads however that is not the case.
They were raised by Angelica after their parents died in a forest fire. Their parents placed them in basket on a river with Djali to look after them. So yes they were taken in by the nomads but no they were not stolen. Esmeralda takes this news really hard because she really believe that bloodline matters. The tension is resolved by the end of the episode and Esmeralda learns her lesson.
A Girl of Action
In addition to all the magical adventures, saving France and thwarting Frollo’s evil plans, Esmeralda does dance and does train Djali. These are things she enjoys but she is rarely called “dancing girl” and there only few instances of Djali showing off her training. Esmeralda does fall prey to being a damsel in distress on occasion as typically getting into trouble for acting on her own. Despite that she is useful throughout the “adventures” especially with her other talent.
A Girl of Magic…?
Of the three main characters in The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo, Esmeralda is the only one who can actually use magic. This is a complete departure from other Esmeraldas who are accused of witchcraft but are only guilty of having a smart goat or parlor tricks.
The outliner would be Melody from Enchanted Tales who is has the godlike power to bring instruments to life. The Magical Adventures Esmeralda is not as godlike as she can only create powerful illusions using her locket. While the illusions are tangible, they are temporary. So technically, yes she is the most bewitching Esmeralda on the the technicality that the other character has a different name.
This Esmeraldas has a good balance between of the late 90s conventions and her characterization from the novel. She is pragmatic, somewhat dreamy, yet can stick up for herself, help in a fight and is delightfully charming. Plus Djali!
The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo version of the titular hunchback is quite likely the most well-adjusted iteration of the character. He starts out being too afraid to go outside but he gets over that quickly when Esmeralda is in trouble in the first episode.
His Award-Winning Personality…
Aside from the hunch, Quasimodo is quite a catch. He is smart, kind, loyal and charitable. Add in that he is athletic and creative in both art and problem solving. But what about a sense of humor and kind to animals? Of Course!
The Magical Adventures version of Quasimodo is not as musically inclined as some of his other counterparts. However massive bells cathedral bells are hard to play. He just needs some practice which is he willing to do, so he’s humble too.
He is also well-versed in the act of patience but can be impulsive. When he is impulsive it is out of necessity. As in something he needs is getting away like a scroll or a messenger pigeon. So he is flexible.
If you want to stretch the text of the novel, this backstory is not too far off but is is a stretch. Quasimodo is Frollo’s ward and Frollo is a member of the petty nobility with a small fief and an alchemist.
His Love Life…?
Quasimodo is sort of in a semi-commitment relationship with his best friend, Esmeralda. They are just friends but they flirt a fair amount and genuinely care for each other. In fact it’s Esmeralda who makes the first interested overtones to Quasimodo.
They are still young and it’s a younger kid’s show so they maintain friendship between them but had the show had more episodes, I think they would have started a more a romantic yet wholesome relationship. A given episode could center on them going on a date but either a Frollo plan or François mucks it up somehow. Or some eclipse happens that endangers France with magical shenanigans that plague the world. Again this not the only version to have Quasimodo have an actual romantic relationship with Esmeralda. The other versions are Quasimodo del Paris, The Enchanted Tales version, and 1986 Jetlag version.
Is he Perfect? You Bet!
Aside from Quasimodo’s psychical deformity he is pretty much without major fault. Throughout the show the hunch doesn’t really pose much of an issue. He is shy in the beginning of the show but after he makes some friends, saves the king and freed from his abuser, he is no longer shy. Quasimodo doesn’t have much in the way of hang ups or insecurities. His hunch is only a minor issue when he is rejected from the army but he just shows up and proves how capable he is to the captain and that solves the problem.
Making Quasimodo nearly perfect is a tactic to get the young audience to like him and want to watch his magical adventures. Ergo he doesn’t need to be heartbreaking or super compelling. This version of Quasimodo just needs to be fun, likable and maybe make a silly quip every once in a while.
When I first heard of The Magical of the Adventures of Quasimodo, I thought the usage of the word “magical” was metaphoric. Like the adventures were going to be “charming” or “delightful.” Maybe there is a touch of whimsy but it’s was grounded since the book is grounded and the concept of “magic” is tantamount to madness and injustice but no, that is not the case. There is magic in this show in multiple forms in most every episode. And that is just how it is.
Now this show came out right on the heels of the Disney’s Hunchback being released, about a month prior, so was this show in the works as fantasy show and got reworked to fit a Hunchback-esque theme in order to capitalize off of the Disney movie or did start off a knock-off and became something else or maybe it was a coincidence? I have no idea however because it’s a weird hybrid of fantasy that is inspired by Hugo’s novel this makes the show its own unique thing. It’s strange to be sure but it’s memorable and odd.
Mind you it is very flawed and for a very specific age and time period. Not that it’s not enjoyable in parts but it’s a product of its day and age. It’s very debatable whether this show is good or not.
So is there a plot and is the plot anything like the book? Kinda and no, not at all. The plot of the book does not feature in this version. There are shades of it but it’s manifests as being representational of the characters. Quasimodo is the bell-ringer at Notre Dame in Paris. He develops feelings for Esmeralda who is a nomad dancer & goat trainer. At the start Frollo and a Priest, Dennis, are Quasimodo’s care-takers. Frollo’s lust leads to him becoming a criminal but his lust is for power and wealth instead of a beautiful woman. The setting and time period reference the book but aside from Notre Dame acting more as a boarding school with an impressive library it functionally is not the same, it exists in name only.
So does this loose take on the novel have any plot? While the episodes are episodic there is a narrative through-line, a through-line that is muddle because the order of airing. Basically most episodes feature Frollo and magical shenanigans as he tries and fails to conquer the world or France or tries to gain wealth either through magic or alchemy, sometimes both. And kudos for this show going hard on the alchemy angle because it mentioned in the book but it’s a major facet here. Alchemy also factors into the plot because of the other through-line which is Quasimodo’s quest to find his parents.
In the second episode we learn of Quasimodo’s origins, that he is really the son of nobles who were alchemists who also supposedly died in a fire. This fire is what led to Quasimodo getting separated from his parents as a baby. From there he was left at Notre Dame by his nursemaid. Quasimodo’s birth name is Jacques. However it’s later revealed that they might be alive and are in hiding so Quasimodo sets out to learn more about them and maybe their location in hopes of reuniting with them because they are awesome.
However by the 12th episode Quasimodo learns that a couple matching his parents’ description is about to leave France for England. Quasimodo is forced to make a choice between his parents and Esmeralda and François who are in danger.
This feels more like a conclusion to his quest as it about Quasimodo’s wants vs needs. As a coming-age story this makes sense since Quasimodo wanted to reunite with his long-lost parents but he needs to be a grown up and saves his beloved friends. I think this was the production’s intent but due to the demographics skewing younger it was switched around since this narrative ending doesn’t work as well for younger children (6-8 year olds). It would work better for older children (10-12 year olds) but this show feels a little too young for that range. So whether the episode order was intentional or not there was still a hope for Quasimodo to reunite with parents again even though narratively with the episode order it doesn’t make sense.
However a plot through-line for a late 90s kids show was something that wasn’t often seen in Western cartoon productions. Typically plots in this style of show would be a two-episode arc or reoccurring characters or gags not a on-going quest or goal. So even the little it gives is commendable.
Again this show is hopelessly flawed and can be annoyingly juvenile but it did try to do its own thing and does have a unique charm.
I started watching this show like two years ago and finally I have watched the whole thing. The duration of how long it took me to watch the entirety of the show doesn’t really reflect the show. It’s weird and odd but it’s not the worst show ever.
Episode 25: The Guardians
Four year old me freaking loved this episode.
The gang of pals learns of a nature sanctuary from one of his parents’ books which the only book not written in code. 25 episodes into this show and we get the word “Sanctuary.”
As they talk about going Frollo appears at the door of the library and overhears them. I have too many questions about why Frollo is just walking into the Notre Dame library? But he is needed for the plot and we are too far from the spooky tunnel lair. If ONLY Dragon, Frollo’s stone flying gargoyle, could have overheard this it but OH well, Frollo is just walking around in broad daylight . I should say Frollo’s lair was mention in this episode BUT there are no caves/subterranean lairs instead we get so much more…..
On route Frollo swipes the book from Quasimodo and after tussling on Dragon they both fall off. Quasimodo is saved by a man with a freaking unicorn and brings him to the Hidden Valley Sanctuary.
There Quasimodo learns that his parents were the only people from the outside world to enter the valley and were good friends with the King. He also learns that they King’s nephew is power hungry. But the biggest thing that Quasimodo learns is that the valley is home to mythical creatures referred to as “Living Treasures.” So we have unicorns. dragons, Pegasi (Pegasus), a sauropod dinosaur and more!
Quasimodo warns the King about Frollo and the King assures him that Frollo will be dealt with. However the nephew overhears and promptly finds and teams up with Frollo so they can use the “Living Treasures” for war and conquest. Shenanigan ensues but with the help of Doris the Gargoyle and the lovely Gorgon the day is saved and Quasimodo is given his parents’ code book.
This episode felt a lot more like the earlier weirder episodes. Like the one when the star was falling and everything went crazy. Defiantly a creative episode. Minor weird nitpick, François’ voice changes a lot in this episode. Makes me think that it was an older episode that got pushed back for some reason. I only noticed because after episode 24 I rewatched clips of episode 2 and it was different cadence to his voice in that episode that in present in parts of this episode.
Another nitpick was that it was very much implied that Quasimodo’s parents did make a Philosopher’s Stone as they sent gold to the King which helped the valley care for the “Living Treasures.” It’s a little odd given the episode of them finding Flamel’s which was dangerous and the results were temporary. Not sure if the de Bernassac version is less dangerous and more effective than Flamel’s or since they were nobles maybe it was just normal gold but there implication was there that they created one.
Also one of the denizens of the valley was the one who craved the gargoyles of Notre Dame. When? They started going in 1240s as gutters. So what are we talking about here? Though Doris is beyond cute so who cares? I know as you know that this show is not meant to be factual accurate to dates by any means.
Plus there is a sauropod dinosaur! Now I love Doris, she’s best (along side Djali) and there are unicorns, dragons, weird gazelle things, Pegasus (Pegasi) and more but 4 years old me freaking LOVED dinosaurs heck cranky adult me loves dinosaurs. Especially Sauropods. So is this the best episode ever? YES! Yes it is! 110%
No Djali but Dinosaur and Doris made up for it. Doris is the best, tell your friends.
I mean it’s a weird episode for a show that is based on a 1830s novel with religious overtones and totes a depressing ending but kudos for the creativity. And I’d still say the star episode was way weirder.
Also also, Quasimodo misses his geometry test for this adventure, I just wanted to state that.
Episode 26: The Secret of the Templars
This is last episode and we are going out on François focused one with a moral. Up-side a lot of great Djali moments so I will forgive it.
François gets kidnap by some men in strange white costumes. In the effort to save him Good girl Djali head-butts one them and gains a clue, that Dennis identifies as being the symbol of “The Order of the Templars.” Then they get a note from François saying that he is happy and he is surrounded by people who love his poetry. This doesn’t track with Esmeralda as his poetry is known to clear the room, it’s his superpower.
They find Templars’ location immediately but not before getting trapped but Djali gets them out of because Djali is a good girl. Turns out François is now the Grandmaster of the Templars because he is the direct male descendant of the founder which also doesn’t track with Esmeralda, she doesn’t believe that, he just looks like him.
Anyway one the Knights wants the secret treasure which he thinks François knows the location of but François is a Jon Snow in this situation. Esmeralda, Quasimodo and Dennis are then locked up because of this guy. When they try to use François’ poetry as ploy to get the guards to leave so they can escape the guards claim to like the poetry but an encore proves too much and they peace-out. Quasimodo then comes up with another ploy to reveal the greedy knight and the templars give up their quest for the treasure.
François bemoans that he is no longer special because of a supposed bloodline and Esmeralda reminds him that it doesn’t matter because they are super happy people. Dennis then discovers a secret room filled with treasure which he rejects but is then rewarded with two gemstones by Templars ghosts so that he can help the sick and poor.
This episode is very reminiscent of episode 9 “Trapped” when the gang of pals get trapped in that booty-trapped orphanage but this was one more enjoyable probably because of Djali. It’s not the best episode it’s more of middle range. There is some weirdness around the plot because the Templars are using François to find the treasure but there a weird line from which made it seem that the knew where the treasure was located expect for the one greedy one but that was an isolated weird line, they didn’t know. And the ghosts wouldn’t have been happy anyway. Turns out the villager who warned Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Djali and Dennis that the place was haunted was right.
This was weird episode to end off the show. Nothing really happened and it was a smaller scale plot even for this show. François is kidnapped because he looks similar to the founder and might know where a treasure is but he doesn’t and that’s it plus ghosts. There is a moral about how greed is bad and wealth leads to jealousy and corruption. But these are the happiest and least selfish characters imaginable so they don’t need wealth, just each other.
If there were a regular episode it would be fine but as sort of ending it just is very underwhelming. Makes me rather curious if there were going to be more episodes planned or if the episode aired out of order. Both are likely.
Also IMDB’s only trivia for this show says that François was inspired by a John Barrymore movie The Beloved Rouge (1927) where he played a poet named François. Not sure if this is true, Pierre Gringoire is a character in the original novel, is a poet and Esmeralda considers their relationship to more like siblings than romantic. The building blocks were already there so this trivia is more confusing than illuminating, if true.
And now that the show is all watch we can review the show even more! And you hoped we were done!
The gang of pals and Dennis pay a visit to St Bernard University which is still being constructed after 30 years. Quasimodo’s childhood friend, Pierre now is over-seeing the project after his father, Henri stepped down following the stress of a weird shadow and vanishing items. The university has connections to Nicolas Flamel who is a legendary alchemist, synonymous with the Philosopher’s Stone. Basically Flamel hid a secret in the unfinished library stained glass window. There are no physical copies of the plan as Flamel forbade it and instead made Henri memorize the design.
Frollo kidnaps Henri and Esmeralda to get the a copy as well as leverage. Quasimodo figures out the secret of the window which is a map. Everyone converges on the Indiana Jones’s style subterranean tunnel because there is a cave/tunnel quota in this show. The booty-trapped tunnel is where the stone is kept BUT it’s very dangerous to those with greedy souls who just want gold thus there are coded warning everywhere. So Frollo turns to gold after touching it but it’s okay he will revert back normal BUT not before being lugged off to the Bastille BUT it’s okay Clopin helps him bust out. Nothing it REALLY resolved narratively and it’s back to the status quo.
This episode on the one hand is weird since we meet a childhood friend of Quasimodo’s which robs his connections with Esmeralda and François as well has this character being named Pierre. Pierre does mean “Rock” which makes a cute little reference to being architect but would have made more sense to have named François Pierre since he is the Pierre Gringoire stand-in. That is a nit-pick for a puzzling design.
Also given how late we are in the show it seems weird to have Frollo get out two set-backs that are resolved within a minute. He gets turned into a gold statue but it’s ok he will revert back and then he frees himself with out any fuss or even tension.
So all that is gained from this episode is the Philosopher’s Stone is dangerous with its Midas touch and is still where Flamel kept it. Though why would Flamel even want there to be a clue to the location of the stone if he didn’t want people finding it? It was in a libray window not exactly a private place. Also we could nitpick dates but is there really a point? Also what is the point of them finding the Philosopher’s Stone when Frollo has been searching for the recipe to create it this whole time? It’s muddled.
Then again there is so much in this episode that is good. For the standards of this show there is a very well-animated chase sequence. You can tell a real effort went put into that part. All the talk of alchemy and Philosopher’s Stone, which is a big part of this show, is part of the book. It’s not a vital part of the narrative it’s more for characterization but it’s great to see it at a forefront in a version.
Also it’s good to see a stained glass window used for knowledge acquisition. That was the point of them at this point in time; to educate the masses who couldn’t read, that was their function. So as weird as it was for this window to show a clue that Flamel didn’t want people to know, the concept goes back to something fundamental about architecture of that period and the novel or rather Hugo’s tangent in the novel. Whether the original markers of the show intended to be that specific to novel or not, it’s an appreciated point.
Also I appreciated when Clopin adjusted his eye patch to show it was just decorative, it was a good touch.
Counter-point though no Djali, I suppose we can’t have it all but Frollo did look so very happy with the stone until he wasn’t.
Episode 24: A True G***y
In the episode we get the backstory of Esmeralda and François. Which we already got way back in episode 2; Angelica adopted them after their parents died when they were babies. But I guess it was thought that she was their actual grandmother by blood and not adopted. The revelation is too much for Esmeralda and she starts acts out. Honestly I’m more shocked that Djali is over 16 years old(?)and that Esmeralda and François are full siblings, most likely twins and not actual nomads much like the novel without the cruel stereotype. I thought they were adoptive together but no they are the spitting images of their parents with Esmeralda looking like their mother and François looking like their father. Also François takes this news very well as it doesn’t phase him at all.
Most of this episode is strange. Esmeralda acts out when she learns she it NOT a true nomad. As she is processing this news the King of the Nomads gets kidnapped. Esmeralda won’t listen to protocol as she is not a true member and instead she sets off on her own to save the King in a disguise with Quasimodo and François following in behind also in disguises. After finding the King she is captured too. Turns out the King had been taken by his cousin, Kasimir, who is next in line to the throne as well as exiled. Kasimir has one his goons lie that the King was seen leaving France but Quasimodo unmasks Kasimir in front of the Nomad leaders. Kasimir then reveals that he has the King and Esmeralda tied up. Why? Why would he do this? Then again he is delusional like all villains.
For whatever reason François has Quasimodo challenge Kasimir to a battle of heart and fitness of leadership. If Quasimodo wins the King will be reinstated and Kasimir will go back into exile but if Kasimir wins the King and Esmeralda will be imprisoned forever. Possibly in a cave because Kasimir threaten imprisoning him in a cave, I guess saying the word hits that beloved cave quota. I wonder if this show was sponsored by a Cave Tourism Board?
Anyway the challenge is in three parts; making their way out a stone maze in an allotted amount of time, hand-to-hand combat and pulling a rattlesnake from a bag. Quasimodo wins 2-1 but Kasimir sets fire to the stake that the King and Esmeralda are tied too. I’m not sure why they had they even bothered with validity of challenge since the King was right there proving that Kasimir was lying, it was a whole confused thing. Maybe everyone is delusional?
Anyway… Esmeralda frees herself and the King with he power of her locket which conjures a dragon, that is a bit of head-scratcher. The King then proclaims that she and François and honorable and true nomads which wasn’t an issue till this episode. Also Esmeralda reconciles with her grandmother because family is more than blood, which is a great note to end off on, no fault there.
This episode is very much a mess. While I do appreciate that this show tried to make Esmeralda’s backstory like the book without being problematic the retread from episode 2 was a little weird. I also liked that the King character was a different character than Clopin because they are frequently merged, it a minor thing just a nice touch.
What I don’t get was any of the succession, Kasimir, the King, protocols and that challenge stuff. It seemed as far a plot-line goes very half-baked. Why would they build a permanent stone maze structure for this purpose? Or maybe it was just there? But they what do they do for this challenge if it’s not at this specific location? The King was right there in front of everyone so why would they even entertain the exiled heir ruling when they were against it when they thought the King had fled France?
None of it made sense and got in the way Esmeralda’s character dealing with an identity issue and feelings of being lied to by her family but that gets resolved with King just saying she is a nomad like she has been raised which the King allowed when she was adopted by Angelica. So either it should have been a bigger issue for her and the focus of episode or it shouldn’t an issue at all. It’s just messy.
Random pluses are Djali, always Djali, the goofy dragon that Esmeralda randomly conjures to save herself and the king, and François’ muppet-like voice, loved that.
After François didn’t feed Djali, she goes to the library for a snack. After assessing the damage, Dennis discovers a scroll of an old design for the facade of Notre Dame which depicts the likeliness of his awesome parents on the edifice. This leads to Quasimodo to find the stone depictions of his parents as well as hidden scroll behind them which is made of the highest quality paper ever because this takes forever to rip in half. This is because Frollo sends his Gargoyle, Dragon to steal the scroll tears in half. So Quasimodo has half and Frollo has the other half.
However the scroll pieces are blank which leads everyone to reach the same conclusion, invisible ink! Which leads both the gang of pals and Frollo to Esmeralda’s friend who is an expert on invisible ink, how very convenient for everyone. Anyway the message turns out to be a map. Quasimodo hopes it leads him to his parent’s location and Frollo hopes it will lead him to the Philosopher’s stone.
In the end it leads them to an old inn where his parents used to rent a secret room. Quasimodo finds a chest full of gold and because doesn’t need money, and he really doesn’t, he gives to the innkeeper who uses the money to renovate the inn.
The idea of this episode was fun; a competing scavenger hunt which highlights the characters’ wants as well as their differing approach to deductive reasoning.
The pay off though is a waste because we already know Quasimodo has awesome parents and he proven himself to be unselfish and we don’t really learn any new and there doesn’t seem to be a lesson or a moral. Also if I recall his parents might have gotten on a boat to England in an earlier episode, which was episode 12 “The Choice.” So the scroll which was left 15 years before would have had old information anyway about their location. It’s good that there is a narrative through-line in this show which is the quest for Quasimodo’s family, but the show seems to forget it or retread a lot or in this episode’s case pads it out. Then again other “more adult shows” do this too so it’s not really a big deal. Just pointing it out. Truthfully it’s less annoying than most shows with more ambitious, “grown-up,” and/or matures plots.
Frollo did have a humorous line “From Tiny Minds Come Tiny Answers” Inspiring. To be fair he was trying to read tiny text so he shrunk himself down to read it, which did work. Also Frollo falls down a lot in this episode because humor.
Other positives, Djali, always going to be Djali and François was less annoying because he wasn’t focused on too much. Plus Tortoise cameo and there was a cat. That’s something.
Also Also the whole map is the de Bernassac crest which is an eagle which is also a map of Paris so it’s a sort-of reference to the chapter “A Bird’s-Eye View of Paris,” a chapter that is very skippable. I still appreciate it though.
Episode 22: The Oracle
This episode starts with the Gang of Pals getting a message from Angelica who has been recovering from a cold in the Alps with Dennis’ cousin Maurice. However the message says that Maurice has been arrested and the village is in the gripes of some kind of danger. So the Gang of pals is off in their covered wagon to the rescue. On the way they stop by a spring that has some weird green substance it it, hmmm could this be part of the plot? You bet!
Arriving in the village they see that the villagers have spots on their faces and the leader is now The Oracle. Who predicts lightening will hit the village and it does! Hmmm, very curious …. he foretold it would happen and then it did!
The gang of pals soon learn that The Oracle put something in the water and that he is going to charge the villagers for the cure. Angelica tells Quasimodo that The Oracle is storing potions in a cave near the Spring. Oh Good just when I thought there wasn’t going to be a cave or spooky tunnels we get a cave for the Cave Quota.
In the cave Quasimodo learns the tricks of The Oracle like the lightening was made with tar and gun powder. Quasimodo uses similar tricks to undo The Oracle’s hold on the Villagers as well as giving everyone the universal cure-all that cures them. Thank goodness! And today’s lesson is education is the best cure for ignorance and superstition and to not believe everything you hear. How true, most of the time. Brainwashing and indocination is a thing but Children’s show, so it’s simplicifed.
The Oracle is a charlatan who poisoned a town as well as committed arson and he got off really light. I mean the villagers apologize for being duped which is what brings up moral about education being great which is a great moral but it was tacked on in the last second. Basically everyone finds out that The Oracle was a scammer and they escort him off in the background. Blink and you miss it, because I did and I had to rewatch that part to notice it. Also what are they going to do with him? Quasimodo collapsed the jail when they were busting out. So who knows what happen to him maybe he didn’t get off light.
Anyway doesn’t matter what does matter is this episode forced me to recall my time on the Oregon Trail, those poor oxen who drown, the Diphtheria, the failure of it all and I of course mean the computer game I was terrible at it, abysmal even. Also Quasimodo failed a little in this episode brought down by his own hubris. He failed to get the carrier pigeon with Angelica’s message and François is the one who gets it. Woo to Quasimodo. François later is paralyzed by some powder and complains about being thirsty, which is really Quasimodo’s thing. But in the end François is still the butt of many of a joke and Quasimodo is still the best, so again doesn’t matter.
So positives, Djali, always going to be Djali and there is a pigeon. But this episode is pretty good. I did like Quasimodo playing Sorcerer and that whole plan to discredit The Oracle. Though this show has already established magic as an actual practice independent and in conjunction with alchemy so it’s a little muddy that there is a scammer using potions to create skin spots, causing paralysis and growing hair and that science and knowledge is the fix to discrediting his wrong doing.
I’m overthinking this but what is The Oracle’s backstory because clearly he is smart and has great alchemist knowledge and this is best he can manage for himself? Poisoning the water supply to cause skin pigmentation with no other side effects and then charging for the cure? Which is a universal cure-all for all his potions. Who is this guy? But that is not the story and the lesson of the episode is knowledge is good and gullibility is bad. Still good lessons especially in today landscape.
Side Note – This episode was the second appearance of The Oracle. He first appears in the fourth episode “The Star Master” and is pal of Frollo’s. Didn’t remember him but good job show using an old character.