Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who should die in the Dora The Explorer movie? We need *your help* to decide who should be killed off!

As was announced last month, Paramount will be stocking up its post-Dreamworks animation slate with a number of Nickelodeon properties, among them being the long-awaited first feature film for Dora the Explorer.  It figures that we'd finally get a big-screen Dora adventure just as my daughter is about to outgrow said franchise, but them's the breaks.  Anyway, Dora the Explorer is still among the more entertaining shows aimed at the preschool set and few can deny that it revolutionized the kids-show format with its interactive 'let's go on an adventure' template.  And now, about twelve years after its premiere, we're finally getting a movie.  So the question immediately becomes: who's gonna die?  It's a movie and said big-screen adventure has to do something to matter in the broad continuity, otherwise it just becomes a 4-5 part episode projected in DLP 3D.  And we all know that the easiest way to achieve narrative 'relevance' in a longstanding property is to kill off a major character.  So, as we await the big-screen spectacular that is Dora the Explorer 3D, let us discuss just which longstanding character is the most likely to perish at either the second act climax or the very finale of the picture.

Aside from the title character herself, the two least likely to bite the dust are Backpack and the Fiesta Trio.  No matter what kind of scientific advances we make, Dora still needs something to carry her stuff in.  So unless Dora trades up her backpack for a Rescue Pack, good-old backpack is probably safe.  The Fiesta Trio are likely safe as well, for the simple reason that they have to appear in every episode.  If they don't make it, perhaps sacrificing themselves in a Lone Gunman-esque 'we all die together' moment, then we will be bitterly reminded of their passing at the conclusion of each and every Dora adventure, giving her episodic victory and the resultant 'We Did It' dance a bittersweet pang of regret.  Actually, speaking of Dora's 'stuff', advances in geographic technology makes Map a pretty likely candidate for extinction.  After all, what kid uses a map to get around when they have access to GPS?  Who do you ask when you don't know the way to go?  You sure don't ask a map anymore, do you?  Of course how the movie could finagle inserting Map into the narrative in such a way to place him in mortal peril is a question I'll leave to the screenwriters.

We can assume, for the sake of preventing childhood trauma, that Dora's immediate family is probably safe too, although I wouldn't write off a 'passing of the mantle' as Dora's mother (an archaeologist) is unable to solve a puzzle that only her would-be protege can crack ("We've been on many adventures Dora, but to the great beyond, I go first!").  But no, I don't think the film is going to whack either of Dora's twin siblings, even if once they spent an entire episode in a runaway stroller racing towards a fiery volcano.  That brings us to the three supporting characters that are the most likely contenders for extinction primarily because nobody gives a crap about them.  But on the other hand, would anyone be buzzing if Isa the Iguana, Tico the Squirrel, and/or Benny the Bull went down in proverbial flames during the action finale?  Their best defense may be their general irrelevance, as dispatching any of them would be akin to an Expendables sequel that whacked the young upstart who just joined the team with whom we had no emotional connection.

There's no plausible way for The Grumpy Old Troll to partake in the adventure in such a way that puts him in the line of fire, so let's move on to the big leagues.  That brings us to the heavy hitters, the major characters whose demise would have a massive impact on the Dora the Explorer universe.  Of the big ones, Diego is pretty much immortal for as long as Paramount/Nickelodeon still sees money to be made with Go, Diego, Go! merchandise. Putting him in climactic peril would be like The Avengers trying to convince us that Iron Man was going to flame out in the finale.  Speaking of Joss Whedon, if you're playing the 'who hurts the most' game, Boots would arguably top the list.  No, Boots probably isn't anyone's favorite character, but he's someone who everybody on the show wholeheartedly loves, we've met his family, and he's been with the series since the first moments of the pilot.  But despite that, there is one clear winner in this sweepstakes, and it's sadly Swiper the Fox.

Swiper the Fox is probably the most recognizable character outside of Dora herself, and he's a party to no small amount of romantic fan-fiction in various online circles.  He is technically the villain, but he is also the show's shining optimism, as the series has never relented on the idea that Swiper could be redeemed and cured of his obsessive-compulsive need to swipe stuff.  A noble sacrifice, preceded by an admission of love from Dora herself, would be the perfect caper to the Dora the Explorer universe up to that point.  In the end, Swiper, a tragic example of uncontrollable selfishness ever yearning to be generous, would make the ultimate act of selflessness for the sake of the people/animals who never ever gave up on him.  Take a minute to wipe those tears from the keyboard and then kindly move on to the next paragraph.

So that settles it.  If Nick Jr. and Paramount want to craft a Dora the Explorer movie that actually matters in the great narrative arc of the pint-sized explorer and her various animal friends, Swiper must pay the ultimate price.  Well, at least until we get Dora the Explorer 2: the Search for Swiper.  Okay, your turn.  Who do *you* think should be killed off in a Dora the Explorer movie?  Did I miss any major characters above and if so, what makes them ripe for the forbidden temple in the sky?  Let me know what you think about this pressing topic.  After all, I need *your* help!

Scott Mendelson

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