Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Cheating is a dreadful thing": Fifteen, 2.01 - People's Places*

*Note: The only place I could find this episode title online was at, where it is listed as "Peoole's Places." However, that seems very much like a typo to me. But in the off chance that this episode really is titled "Peoole's Places, I figured I'd list it here anyway.

Most of the commenters in my "extra" post from a few weeks ago expressed interest in Fifteen (which is the American title of a Canadian show called Hillside, so Canadian and possibly other non-US readers know the show by that name). I was able to find one full-length episode so far on Youtube, so I figured I'd recap it this week. Consider it my lame attempt to make up for the lack of entries during my move.

I remember the main characters and basic storylines from this show, and that pretty blonde Ashley was my favorite character. I think I wanted my name to be Ashley for awhile. And I loved her hair. I also have pretty strong memories of this scene from season 1 for some reason. I think it was part of an ad for the show. "That's it, Walker, push it!" classic. And the gay joke practically writes itself. Watching this specific episode again brought back more detailed memories--Ashley's basement; the Avalon (with its pinball machine!); Dylan's super-cool "rebellious" hair, leather jacket, and garage band. And I remember the soap-opera-ish scene-change music.

This show had a large rotating cast of characters, some of whom I don't even remember because they didn't join the cast until the final season. So here is a list of the characters who actually show up in this episode, and those who were mentioned but not seen:
-In This Episode:
Ashley Fraiser - Pretty, blonde, "perfect" girl; dated Matt
Courtney Simpson - Ashley's best friend, older sister of Billy
Billy Simpson - Courtney's little brother, friends with Dylan; a young Ryan Reynolds
Dylan Blackwell - The rebel; in a band, always wears a leather jacket
Brooke Morgan - The mean girl; an all-around bitch; I hated her
Matt Walker - The basketball star with a drinking problem; dated Ashley; looks like a young Matthew Broderick
Arseman Harrell - Friend of Courtney and Ashley who shows up in season 2 as if she had always been there
Amanda Morgan - Brooke's goody-two-shoes little sister, introduced in season 2
Janice - Seems to show up for the first time in this first episode of season 2; rather unremarkable, at least in this episode
-Mentioned but Not Seen:
Jake Deosdade - The Asian character, who randomly goes to China for six weeks at the start of season 2
Theresa Morgan - Brooke's other nice-girl little sister, as seen here in a season 1 clip with Brooke's best friend/chief rival Kelly. Both girls do not appear in season 2; Brooke explains in this episode that Theresa has transferred to art school, but Kelly's disappearance is never explained.

From what I gather, this episode picks up on a few loose ends from season 1: Matt getting kicked off the basketball team for drinking, Ashley getting caught cheating on a math test and leaving school in shame, Matt and Ashley's breakup, and Brooke getting caught stealing a geography paper. Courtney is at Ashley's house and is about to leave to catch up on some homework. Courtney has curly reddish hair and no fashion sense. Ashley always talks in this affected hushed half-whisper. It sort of gives everything she says a bitch undertone, but I think it's just bad acting. Courtney asks if Ashley thinks she'll come back to school tomorrow, because it's been almost a whole entire week. Courtney says that no one cares that she cheated on the test. Ashley says she doesn't care what they think, but she's going away to private school anyway. Her parents think she's surrounded by bad influences at Hillside, and Ashley wants a change. She is moving into her new school the day after tomorrow. Ashley affected-half-whispers, "Well, you better go, Courtney. Don't you have homework to do?" and Courtney gives her a melodramatic "I can't believe you're doing this" look before walking upstairs, as Ashley affectedly throws a pillow onto her couch and sighs. God, you'd think she killed someone. All she did was cheat on a test? I'm sure that happens every day.

The Avalon! The cool hangout where everyone gathers. A group of very early-90s basketball players enters discussing plays. Matt approaches them and asks how it's going. Awwwwwwwk-ward. The team seems to be on a winning streak since Matt got kicked off. The guys mumble that it was good to see him and then bolt. Sucks to be Matt. Cue dramatic scene-change music.

At school, Brooke enters in what one Youtube commenter called her "Footlocker getup," and that could not be more accurate. She looks like a trendy bitch referee. She also cut her hair super-short in season 2, and I remember hating that look. Anyway, replacement-Theresa Amanda is there, trying to get Brooke to speak to her again after she told their father that Brooke had been caught paying someone else to write a geography paper for her. Amanda says that she didn't mean to tell, but it just slipped out. Brooke bitches that she's just a "sneaky little daddy's girl." She says she'll consider forgiving Amanda if she heads out to the spot where the school buses gather and sees if she can get herself run over. Harsh words there, Brooke. Brooke stomps off as the dramatic music plays and Amanda looks shocked and hurt. ha.

Back at the Avalon, Matt is playing the pinball game I remember so well. Billy walks in and asks how Matt's been doing and how Ashley is. Matt's all "why are you asking me???" and Billy's all "you're supposed to be her boyfriend, aren't you?" Oooh, tension. Matt hasn't seen Ashley in a week, but he's starting to get the feeling she doesn't want to talk to him. Billy asks why, and Matt snarks, "Because she keeps slamming the phone down in my ear. I'm a perceptive guy, Billy." Matt asks Billy to say hi if he happens to see her.

Back at school, Dylan says hi to Courtney, but she totally goes all ice-queen on him and blows him off. But he asks if she's seen Ashley lately. You can hear Dylan's obviously cheap leather jacket rubbing and squeaking as he moves... weird. And he has an earring and gelled hair and metal necklaces. And his name is Dylan. Of course his name is Dylan. Rebel-without-a-cause Dylan asks if Courtney knows whether Ashley is coming back to school, and Courtney bitchily snoots, "What do you think?" Dylan says that he doesn't think much, and according to his teachers, that's his problem. Ha ha... get it? --He's stupid. And a delinquent. And wears a leather jacket. He says he's just kinda wondering about Ashley, and Courtney is just like, "Well, see ya around" and leaves. Ooooh, burned.

Except that she only goes, like, two feet away, to a table where Arseman is sitting. I don't see why Dylan couldn't easily overhear their conversation. This was supposedly Arseman's first appearance, but they have her sitting there acting as if she's been friends with them the entire time. Oh! Maybe Courtney and Dylan have a romantic past together? Courtney tells Arseman that she no longer feels like killing Dylan, just, in Areseman's words, "maiming him a little." She tells Arseman never to get involved with a guy. Arseman says she's not planning to. Is this Arseman's way of announcing that she's a lesbian? Arseman and Courtney plan a surprise going-away gathering for Ashley at the Avalon as a way to show her that no one is judging her for cheating. Since Ashley doesn't want to see anybody, Courtney is going to invite her to a one-on-one night out for pizza, but all her other friends will "just happen" to show up. And who should overhear these plans but queen bitch Brooke. Arseman and Courtney tell Brooke to keep her mouth shut about the plans, and Brooke promises to keep their secret. Courtney and Arseman walk away, and Brooke goes all Shakespearean villain on us as she soliloquizes, "Absolutely. Not a word. Not one word to a single soul." dun-dun-DUN.

Back to Ashley's basement. Courtney stops by during lunch as Ashley is packing. She tries to convince Ashley that no one blames her for cheating, but Ashley says, "That really doesn't matter now, does it?" Actually, it kind of does. Otherwise, what else is there to leave school over? Courtney puts her plan in motion and invites Ashley out for one last pizza at the Avalon, and Ashley reluctantly accepts.

Matt is alone at a table at the Avalon, and Brooke enters and sits across from him. After a quick lame explanation about the mysterious disappearance of Brooke's original little sister Theresa, she "accidentally" lets it slip about Ashley's move to private school. She says, "Oh Matt, I'm so sorry! I feel so terrible!" complete with hand-over-heart posing as Matt leaves in a huff.

Courtney and Arseman are back at school discussing the night's plans. Courtney's turtleneck and dress make her look like a fifty-something-year-old schoolteacher. They decide to invite Brooke, since she knows about it anyway, and Matt, even though talking to him will be difficult. Matt oh-so-conveniently walks over at this moment and tells them that Brooke filled him in on Ashley's move. Matt is pissed that he wasn't told sooner. Even though her best friend didn't know until last night, and she hasn't spoken to him in a week, and they just broke up. Shut up, Matt. Courtney still thinks he should go because, "all I know is... [dramatic pause] ...I know she still cares." Matt storms off as Courtney and Arseman look worriedly at the camera.

Poor, pathetic new-girl Janice walks up to Dylan at his locker and introduces herself, but he makes it clear that he is way too cool and rebellious to be seen with her. Janice is wearing this ugly pink or possibly white (poor episode quality) blouse with black polka-dots all over it. Billy walks in and just pushes Janice aside to talk to Dylan. That was so awesome. But poor Janice.

Courtney and Ashley are having their "pizza for two" at the Avalon, and Ashley is bitching that she doesn't want to see anyone from school. Too bad, Ashley, here comes Arseman. They fess up to Ashley about the plan, and at first she gets up to leave, but Dylan and Billy show up next and the group reassures her that no one hates her for cheating. The boys back off to go grab a soda, and Ashley starts to relax a little. Cue Matt's entrance. Matt seems to be taking a cue from the Ashley acting school of the affected-half-whisper. They exchange a few affected words before Matt heads over to the pinball machine.

Enter Brooke. Brooke really has the stealth bitch act down cold. She goes all mock-concerned over Ashley, going on about how terrible it is that she's being shipped off to "reform school" and letting her know that they all "forgive" her for the "dreadful" act of cheating. After all, she only cheated because she was totally unprepared, and it isn't a crime to be inadequate. hee... what a bitch. But it's Dylan to the rescue! He walks over and tells Brooke to find a toilet and flush herself down it. How tough and rebellious of him. Brooke stomps off, and Ashley goes to have a tearful talk with Matt by the pinball table. It's all very emo and "wah-wah-wah... I'm sorry... it's awful when something really great gets totally ruined." Matt ends with a dramatic "Well... take care Ashley" with his eyes welled up with tears, and Ashley half-whispers, "You too" back to him, and I want to rip my eyes out after watching this scene, which culminates in Matt staring wistfully at the pinball machine.... yeah.

"Next time, on Fifteen": Oh noes! Matt's drinking again! And Billy sucks as a drummer. Oh, and Janice makes a friend! yay Janice! And Amanda grows a pair and tells Brooke that she has no friends.

Random Thoughts:
-Anyone know why Nickelodeon decided to change the show's title from Hillside to Fifteen for American audiences? It seems kind of random and arbitrary.
-I really liked Theresa better than Amanda.
-I watched this show all the time when I was in my preteen years. But I somehow never noticed how horribly over the top and melodramatic it was.
-As a 26-year-old who is an unashamed fan of both the original Degrassi Jr. High and Degrassi High as well as the newer "Next Generation" show, I can definitely say that if more episodes of this often overlooked Canadian teen melodrama are out there, I must find them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Let's play ball, basket cases!": Salute Your Shorts, 1.06 - Toilet Seat Basketball

I'm back! All moved into my new place (but not all unpacked yet, and our internet is a little fussy). Sorry for the complete lapse in updates during the lead up to the move and move itself.

This was another one I had to watch again before writing the "Memories" section. Ug's "Traveling! Blocking! Charging! You're outta there!" referee chant came back to me when I saw that scene. I think things that are sing-songie like that tend to stick in my memory very easily.

Main Characters:
Bobby Budnick - Kind of a bully and all-around smart-ass; long red hair that was pretty much in a mullet in season 1
Eddie "Donkeylips" Gelfin - The requisite "fat kid at camp"; close friend of Budnick's
Sponge Harris - The nerd; skinny kid with glasses
Michael Stein - Kind of a normal Everyman sort of character, the "new kid" at the start of season 1
Ronnie Pinsky - Michael's replacement in season 2; more of a rival to Budnick
Dina Alexander - The rich, spoiled, fashion-loving girl
Telly Radford - The sporty girl
Z.Z. Ziff - The hippie-ish nature-loving girl
Kevin "Ug" Lee - The kids' counselor

Michael is narrating through Sponge's video camera as the kids play a game of basketball. They will soon be challenging the Hurricanes in a camp basketball tournament. Telly is the team leader. Michael introduces Donkeylips, saying that you better not get in his way. Cue Donkeylips running and crashing into the camera. Budnick brags about how good he is, only to miss his shot. The camera pans to Sponge, and Michael labels him the "brains behind the outfit." Sponge is currently picking his nose. Z.Z. and Dina are pretty much useless. The winners of the upcoming basketball tournament will have their names written on a plaque at camp. The losers, meanwhile, will have their picture "framed" in a toilet seat cover labeled "Losers" hanging on the wall. 

Opening credits. I was going to include a link for everyone to enjoy since I didn't link to it last time, but the only thing close to it I can find is this one where some random obnoxious kid inserts himself into the theme song. Also, Venus de Milo can't really carry a tune.

At the start of what I assume is a team practice, Z.Z. picks up some acorns and announces to Dina that she is going to make them into earrings. But Dina informs her that "nature is out." Z.Z. actually seems hurt by this statement and wonders how nature could possibly ever be "out," since "we all come from the earth, just like these acorns." Dina's pretty awesome reply is, "Z.Z., I do not come from the earth. I come from New York." Telly heads over, ready to start practice. The boys are sitting on the bleachers with a fan blowing in their faces. Budnick says he's got two words for her: "Get a life, we're not moving." ha. Donkeylips is wearing what looks like one of those beer helmets with two cans on each side with straws leading into his mouth. Telly starts trying to draw one of those playbook diagrams of X's and O's in the dirt with a stick... and is she stupid? A third of her team is made up of Dina and Z.Z. Just tell everyone to pass the ball to her or Budnick and they'll be all set. But no, she insists on drawing her X's and O's, and when she asks what the team's next move in that play should be, Donkeylips gets up and points to the dirt, saying, "tic-tac-toe, three in a row." Again, ha. Telly says not to blame her when they put their faces on the toilet bowl. Budnick fake-sincerely says she's got their undivided attention. He's wearing a shirt with a sad smiley face on it, and I want it. Telly launches into another overcomplicated play, but the other kids all get up and leave as she's drawing in the dirt again. Awesome. You suck, Telly.

Telly is in the common room staring at the winner's plaque, and Ug comes in to tell her about how the plaque is one of the great traditions of Camp Anawana. Wow, Ug looks so young in this scene. For some reason, people who are older than me always look older to me, even if I'm watching a tape that's 15 years old and I could very well be older now than they were when they made it. Does that make any sense? Like, Uncle Jesse on Full House always looks old to me even in season 1, when he was only supposed to be around 24, and even though I'm 26 now I still see season 1 Uncle Jesse as "older than me." But here Ug looks really young. Maybe it's the backwards hat he's wearing? Anyway, Ug says that the plaque memorializes the camp's former heroes. The list goes back to 1977. Telly tells Ug that her team pretty much sucks, and Ug says that if she wants to be a leader she'll have to learn the "four F's" of good leadership: fearlessness, fairness, firmness, and control. Telly astutely points out that "control" does not start with an F, so Ug changes it to three F's and a C. Telly says that that sounds like Donkeylips' report card.

Dr. Kahn announces that both basketball teams can get out of instructional swim to relax and reflect quietly before the game. Telly's team, of course, is using this time to have a squirt gun competition. Telly comes in and spoils their fun by trying to blow a whistle to silence them, but the whistle appears to be broken. Ha ha, Telly. You suck. Not everyone wants to spend all their free time playing sports. Telly thinks the whistle must be one of those ones that only dogs can hear. Cue Donkeylips holding his hands over his ears in pain. ha. Poor Donkeylips. Telly yells at her team to drop their water guns and be dressed and on the court in ten minutes. The others totally blow her off and continue the squirt gun fight. Awesome.

Back at the basketball court, Z.Z. is the only one who joins Telly, saying that she wants a drill. Telly starts off on a litany of basketball drills they can work on, but Z.Z. interrupts to say that no, she actually meant drills from the tool shop, so that she could work on her acorn earrings. Umm, then why is she at the basketball court rather than at the tool shop? I hate when jokes are written around the punchline even when said punchline makes no sense in the given context. Telly says, "But what about the team?" Z.Z., who must be a little slow, says that she guesses that she could make earrings for everyone, but she doesn't think they'll look that great on the guys. Normally, I'd mock Z.Z. for her stupidity here, but I really am not much of a Telly fan, and I love how everyone is screwing with her this episode. Z.Z. skips off, assumedly on her way to pick up a drill.

Ug is standing in front of a mirror in full referee getup, totally powertripping on the fact that he has a whistle. I guess when your job title is "camp counselor" you need to feel important any way you can. He starts this chant of "Traveling! Blocking! Charging! You're outta there!" and sort of dances off running through it.

At the tournament, Telly's team is lounging around on the bleachers with drinks while the Hurricanes take practice shots. When Telly shows up, Dina says they're "celebrating their victory," and Telly yells that they haven't even played yet. Good point, Telly, but I still don't like you and think you're getting way too uptight over a silly basketball game. Maybe that's just because I was never a sporty girl though. Still, if she wanted to win so badly, why not hold tryouts or something to put together a team of talented players who were invested in the game? Why have people like Dina and Z.Z. anywhere near the court? It's her own fault for expecting to win with the team she has. Telly commands them all to sit up and pay attention, and then says, "Donkeylips, down here," pointing to the spot in next to her as if he's a dog or something. I know you're supposed to be on Telly's side here, but I'm so not. Telly orders Donkeylips to lift up his shirt. Well then. She's drawn a secret play on his back with marker (why he let her do this, I have no idea), and everyone gags at the sight of Donkeylips' sweaty back. Budnick says that the secret play must be "Donkeylips raises his armpits and everyone faints." Budnick was pretty awesome, even though he is an ass. 

The game starts, and Telly yells to pass the ball to Z.Z., who is open. When the ball is finally passed to her, she just stares off into space as a Hurricanes player grabs it and scores. Telly asks why Z.Z. just stood there, and Z.Z. dreamily says that she was just thinking about how much she likes birds. Telly must be getting really pissed off now, it's great. Budnick, meanwhile, is shoving Ug for no real reason. Telly calls a timeout. She says they're supposed to be working together, not against each other (wow, the writers really are doing all they can to get you on Telly's side, aren't they?). Then there's a really abrupt cut to a shot of the three boys on the ground wrestling over the ball and Ug breaking them up. 

At the end of this first game (of three), which we assume they lost, Telly is once again lecturing her team. No one seems to really care. Z.Z. says that in the second half, she lost one of her acorn earrings. Telly bitchily responds, "No one is interested." Actually, Telly, no one seems all that interested in the game either, so shut up. Z.Z. says that some people might be interested because when she was looking for it, she found a tooth, and if no one claims it she will make a pendant out of it. umm, eww. The tooth is Michael's. Telly lectures, "Michael lost a tooth in a brawl with his own teammates. Now what does that tell us?" Budnick, of course, responds that it means that Michael fights like a wuss. Telly says that no, it means that that they're not a team, and Budnick fires back that that's because of her. Do I actually agree with Budnick? Budnick says that she stinks as a captain. Yes, yes I do agree with Budnick. Telly, showcasing her bad-captain-ness, tells them fine, just go ahead and pick a new captain, because she thinks they're all lazy chumps. That's some good leadership right there. Budnick nominates himself as new captain and guarantees a win using the patented Bobby Budnick method, which makes "sitters and quitters" into "winners and grinners" by using your brain over your muscles. Telly thinks Budnick is full of shit, but all the others are intrigued by his method and vote him in as captain.

The morning of game 2. Budnick arrives to the court with new tie-dyed shirts with bombs drawn on them that read "Budnick's Bombers" on the front. His advice to Michael as they step out onto the court is, "win, you knob!" The Hurricanes, however, pull way ahead. Budnick calls a timeout, during which Telly asks him if he's got any bright ideas. Budnick tells her to "ride the pine," and I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean, but it's still funny. Budnick dramatically ties a bandana around his head as he puts himself in the game. There's one of those three-in-a-row repeat shots of him turning around with the bandana on to increase the drama of this moment. hee. He goes out and starts kicking ass and being a ball-hog, but the team does start to catch up to the Hurricanes as everyone looks on in shock. Budnick's team ends up winning 28-21.

Dr. Kahn awards Budnick's team free sodas, which they shake up and squirt all over each other. But Telly is not celebrating. She storms in and sarcastically says, "Congratulations, Budnick. I don't know how you did it." Oh shut up, Telly. Budnick just says he's a natural-born winner and continues celebrating. That night, Telly is lying in bed still being pissy that the team won without her in charge. She wakes up Dina, who was about to get into a ferris wheel with Patrick Swayze in her dream. Telly says that Michael Jordan couldn't have pulled off the moves Budnick made that day, and she vows to get to the bottom of it.

The next morning, Telly spies Budnick thumbing through a book, and when he leaves his cabin, she sneaks in to find that it is none other than the Hurricanes' playbook. Didn't this happen in some other kids show too? Budnick wagers his entire candy supply on the upcoming game because he feels that the game is a lock. Telly, because she's a bitch, crumples up the Hurricanes' plays and throws them one by one into the "Losers" toilet seat on the wall. I know they're trying so desperately to get the audience on Telly's side, but I'm just not. I wonder if as a kid I was angry with Budnick for cheating. I mean, obviously he's being a shady little rat, but Telly just pisses me off so much with her attitude. Budnick shows the other guys the playbook, and they discover that it's empty. Telly and the other girls are there to snap a polaroid of Budnick's reaction, as Telly triumphantly proclaims, "roasted, toasted, and burned to a crisp!" hee! I remember that line from the first episode of this show, when Budnick said it a few times. Budnick says that he only did what they wanted--made them winners without having to work. Telly said that they can do whatever they want, but she doesn't want to be involved in a scam like this.  Could she be any more high and mighty?

Telly is back out on the court by herself when a side-ponytailed Z.Z. comes by saying she wants a drill--a basketball drill. Telly is thrilled, and then the rest of the team gathers around and says they told the Hurricanes everything, and the Hurricanes still want to play them in a fair game. The team gets to work on some passing drills. Ug comes by and tells them it's their shift for dinner cleanup duty in the kitchen (umm, is that normal at camp? Do they really make the kids clean the buildings and stuff???). At first they're worried because they can't practice, but Telly is there to come to the rescue and turn the cleanup into basketball-like drills of passing and shooting with trash and plates. 

The next day during the final game, the team is actually doing pretty well and staying even with the Hurricanes despite only having one quasi-legitimate practice. It is 19-20, Hurricanes, there's 10 seconds left, and Telly's team has the last shot. Budnick asks to be let in the game, giving a big sappy speech about how "if we can learn to play together on this court, then mankind can learn to play together on the court of life, and we'll all come out winners." I love Budnick. He's just worried about his candy. Telly's not buying his speech, but lets him in anyway, telling him to play team ball. But of course he doesn't, and he takes a shot himself rather than passing to a wide-open Michael. He misses, they lose, and everyone is pissed at him. Awesome... Donkeylips just said, "smooth move, Ex-Lax!" I love him. Ug takes a picture of them looking pissed off, which is then prominently displayed on the toilet seat frame of losers. Budnick has to hand his candy over to the Hurricanes, which makes the rest of the kids feel a little better. But Budnick gets the last laugh once again, as he was hiding more candy under his shirt strapped around his waist.

Random Thoughts:
-Do kids these days still play with squirt guns? I hope so.
-I kind of like how there is some embarrassment involved for the losing team, in the whole toilet-seat-photo thing. It feels like too many kids shows nowadays partake in that "everyone gets a trophy and we're all winners" mentality, and in doing so they miss out on the comedy of toilet seat basketball.
-My recording of the episode has a voice-over ad for The Tomorrow People during the closing credits. Did anyone watch this show? I didn't really like that one, so I rarely saw it. But coming up after this Salute Your Shorts episode aired was Legends of the Hidden Temple. I really miss old Nickelodeon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Extra: 1991 Nickelodeon programming guide

So this doesn't count as a real update, I know. It's totally cheating on my part. But I'm about halfway through my next real recap (a Salute Your Shorts episode), and all the "midweek free time" I thought I'd have to get it done has been taken up by helping my mother with the first part of this big research paper she has to do that she's been freaking out over. And between leaving work on Friday and having to squeeze in seeing a bunch of people before I go, I don't think I'll be able to have time to get the update completed until Sunday at the earliest now. So, to tide you over until then, I wanted to post this in the meantime.

Below is a copy of what was airing on Nickelodeon in the summer of 1991. I believe this is correct for at least the Eastern US, but I'm not sure how other time zones or other countries worked. I found it when I was searching for copies of other old shows that I haven't tracked down yet. Thank you to Steve of Rugrats Online for putting this together in the first place and then letting me reproduce it here. Fans of the old (pre-Dil) Rugrats can check out his pretty extensive site (that's been up since 1996).

So, what strikes me about this schedule is how vastly different it is from Nick's present-day schedule. It looks like Pinwheel (anyone remember Pinwheel?) was off the air by this point, but I used to watch that all the time in the 80s. The nighttime airings of Doug, Rugrats, and Ren and Stimpy (with the asterisks) were not the usual programming, but this was taken from TV Guide the week the Nicktoons first premiered and were broadcast in primetime. What is really sticking out to me is the Special Delivery (remember that?) installment titled Pardon Me for Living. I totally remember watching that as a kid, but I only have the vaguest of memories about it. I think it was about a shy boy, or maybe it was the one about the heavy girl who was teased (or maybe they were both in this one). And Manxmouse. I remember that one too... I believe it was a cartoon. I wish they'd re-air those old Special Delivery specials.

So, what are people's favorites from this list? Had people forogtten about any of these shows? Anything here you'd especially want me to try to track down for recaps if they're floating around somewhere?

Saturday Sunday Weekdays
6AM Lassie
6:30AM Littl' Bits Kidsworld
7AM Eureeka's Castle Mr. Wizard's World
7:30AM Kid's Court Yogi Bear
8AM Cound Duckula Inspector Gadget
8:30AM Heathcliff
9AM Inspector Gadget Cartoon Kablooey Lassie
9:30AM Inspector Gadget Maya The Bee
10AM Yogi Bear Doug Eureeka's Castle
10:30AM Rugrats
11AM Out Of Control Ren & Stimpy The Elephant Show
(Sharon, Lois & Bram)
11:30AM SK8TV Salute Your Shorts Fred Penner's Place
12 Noon Dennis The Menace
(1960's sitcom)
Wild & Crazy Kids David The Gnome
12:30PM Clarissa Explains It All The Little Koala
1PM Lassie Fifteen Noozles
1:30PM Flipper Welcome Freshmen Maya The Bee
2PM Special Delivery:
Special Delivery:
"Adventures Of Tom Sawyer"
Littl' Bits
2:30PM Lassie
3PM Special Delivery:
"Drawing A Blank"
3:30PM Special Delivery:
"The Tin Soldier"
Special Delivery:
"Pardon Me For Living"
Looney Tunes
4PM You Can't Do That On Television Heathcliff
4:30PM Make The Grade Yogi Bear
5PM Family Double Dare Mork & Mindy
5:30PM Salute Your Shorts Fifteen Hey Dude
6PM Wild & Crazy Kids
6:30PM Welcome Freshmen Clarissa Explains It All Get The Picture
7PM Inspector Gadget
7:30PM Looney Tunes
8PM Looney Tunes Doug* Mork & Mindy
8:30PM Bewitched Rugrats* Bewitched
9PM Donna Reed Ren & Stimpy* Get Smart
9:30PM Mister Ed Dragnet (' 67 - ' 70)
10PM My Three Sons Alfred Hitchcock Presents
10:30PM The Patty Duke Show Green Acres
11PM Dobie Gillis Hi Honey, I'm Home
(repeat of latest ABC episode)
The Best of Saturday Night Live
11:30PM Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mister Ed
12 Mid Bewitched Looney Tunes
12:30AM Green Acres Dobie Gillis
1AM The Best Of Saturday Night Live The Patty Duke Show
1:30AM America 2 Night (Fernwood 2 Night) My Three Sons
2AM Dragnet (' 67 - ' 70) Infomercials Donna Reed
(except Wednesday: Infomercial)
2:30AM Donna Reed America 2 Night
(Fernwood 2 Night)
3AM Mister Ed Mork & Mindy
3:30AM My Three Sons Get Smart
4AM The Patty Duke Show Dragnet (' 67 - ' 70)
4:30AM Dobie Gillis Alfred Hitchcock Presents
5AM America 2 Night (Fernwood 2 Night) Mister Ed
5:30AM Dragnet (' 67 - ' 70) Dobie Gillis

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm moving!

So, I am moving in less than a week so that my awesome fiance can start a PhD program. I'm also transitioning into working from home after this week, since I'm keeping my current job after the move. And because of all this, my free time, especially on the weekends, is completely crazy right now. There will be an update coming, but I probably won't be able to keep up my usual Sunday (or Monday at the latest) update schedule for the next week or two.... I expect to have more time midweek this week and next week. So I will get the next update up as soon as I can, hopefully in a few days, and once the move is over I can get back into my regular schedule.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Let's get a shot of him feeling my muscle": Doug, 2.11 - Doug Pumps Up/Doug Goes Hollywood

I chose to repeat Doug this week for two reasons. First, this week (August 11) is the anniversary of the day Nickelodeon launched its first three Nicktoons back in 1991. And second is that in honor of the Olympics, since there's no shows I can recall with actual Olympics-themed episodes, I figured I could at least recap episodes that involved sports competitions of some sort these next two weeks. But I must apologize if this is not the best recap ever--I've had a migraine/headache of some sort literally for about three days now, and being on the computer makes it worse.

I remember Doug getting really bad rope burn when he tried to do the rope climb event. It was painful just to watch that scene. And I remember that the only event he could do after that was sit-ups. I always thought I could've won the sit-ups contest too. In my fourth grade journal we had to write in every now and then for one class, I have one entry that says "today I did 200 sit-ups in gym." I definitely would not be able to pull that off now.

Major Characters (since I missed listing them the first time around):
Doug Funnie - Our eleven-and-a-half-year-old main character
Skeeter Valentine - Doug's best friend
Patti Mayonnaise - Doug's friend/secret crush
Roger Klotz - The bully
Beebe Bluff - The rich girl whose father owns pretty much the entire town
Chalky Studebaker - The all-star athlete, natural leader, good student, etc.
Connie Benge - Another classmate of Doug's, sweet and innocent, kind of heavyset in the Nickelodeon years but a lot skinnier in the Disney-fied version of the show
Judy Funnie - Doug's dramatic, Shakespeare-loving older sister
Phil and Theda Funnie - Doug's parents (they have first names?)
Mr. Bone - Doug's school principal
Mr. Bud Dink - Doug's crazy neighbor, known for his lisp and weird guffaw laugh
Mrs. Tippy Dink - Mr. Dink's wife, almost always very dry and sarcastic
Bob White - The mayor of Bluffington. "Vote for me."

Doug Pumps Up
Opening theme. Doug and Skeeter are at the mall, and Doug sees Patti carrying some heavy bags and offers to help. He jokes, "What did you buy, barbells???" and Patti answers, "...yeah" somewhat embarrassedly. Connie and Beebe walk over and just throw their bags into Doug's arms as well. That's kind of rude of them. Doug understandably collapses from the weight, but Beebe and Connie laugh at him because he's so weak. How bitchy is that? They throw their bags at him and then laugh in his face when he drops them (in front of the girl it's blatantly obvious he has a crush on).

Title screen: Doug chases after Porkchop after Porkchop paints the episode title onto the wall, and then Porkchop sneaks back to shut off the light.

Patti helps Doug up after he falls, and Doug mumbles a lame excuse about there being a bump in the sidewalk. Doug and Skeeter see a life-size cardboard cutout of Ronald Weisenheimer (an obvious Arnold Schwarzenegger parody) with a recording telling them to sign up for the All-Bluffington Fitness Test. Doug fantasizes being big and jacked like Weisenheimer. Patti, surrounded by weights and barbells, says in a damsel-in-distress voice, "How are we going to carry all this stuff?" Doug-as-Weisenheimer walks over and grabs all the girls' weights and barbells as he proclaims, "No problemo" in an Arnold-esque accent. Back in real life, Doug and Skeeter both go to sign up for the Fitness Test. Chalky Studebaker is handling the signups, of course. He says hi to Doug but then calls out, "Next!" and doesn't believe Doug when Doug says that he is next.

Walking home, Skeeter also questions Doug's ability to compete in the Fitness Test. Way to be supportive, best friend. Kids really are assholes to each other. Motivational music plays as Doug says that maybe he won't set any records, but he's going to train and in four to five weeks will be ready to pass that test. Skeeter bursts his bubble by telling him that the test is the day after tomorrow. Because he needs to think fast, he for some reason thinks it's a good idea to visit crazy psycho Mr. Dink, who is bound to have exercise equipment. Mr. Dink has just acquired a ("very expensive," as is his trademark) Lazy Guy exercise system that promises to make working out easy and fun. Doug's walking on a treadmill where a background behind him changes the scenery to any kind of setting he'd desire. One of the available backgrounds is the moon, which Mr. Dink says that Tippy loves. "It reminds me of our honeymoon," Tippy replies with her usual dry sarcasm. They must have the weirdest relationship ever. Doug thinks that he should be working hard and sweating, but Mr. Dink assures him that the Lazy Guy does all the hard work for you. He brings Doug over to do pull-ups to work on his arms, but the shot widens to reveal that Doug is standing on a platform that is raising and lowering him automatically for each pull-up. Mr. Dink's reaction is, "I bet you thought working out had to be painful!" Why is Doug even stupid enough to go to Mr. Dink in the first place? The man is obviously insane. And he's not exactly the poster-boy of fitness. Plus, in the first episode of the series I recapped last time, Mr. Dink tells Doug he's a writer. And believe me, there's no way a writer can afford all this "very expensive" crap he's always talking up to anyone who will listen. No wonder Tippy always sounds like she wants to kill herself. Anyway, the pull-up machine goes out of control and is way too fast for Doug.

Doug walks back home, his arms still stuck in pull-up position. He has to bend way over to look at the paper on his front steps because he can't move his arms to pick it up, and when he does succeed in lowering his arms, he can't raise them to lift the paper. He heads to the school gym for a real workout. He starts off trying to lift gigantic barbells that are too heavy for him, but know-it-all Chalky tells him not to strain himself. But Doug rationalizes that since he only has 24 hours to get into shape, he better keep at the big weights. He fantasizes that he is in the Mr. Dumbell competition, once again big and jacked and up against similarly muscular guys. But they are all put to shame by a bodybuilding Porkchop in a Speedo. Poor Doug is even pathetic in his fantasy. I can relate. Back in real life, Doug manages to get the large weight lifted over his head but is losing control of it. Chalky comes by to see if he's OK, and Doug drops the weight and it falls on top of his foot.

After a trip to the nurse's office, Doug's right foot is bandaged up, and he thinks this means he is out of the Fitness Test and that everyone will think he is a goof. But he spies a climbing rope in the gym and gets an idea--he doesn't need his foot for the rope climb, so he can focus on that event. (Here comes that horrible rope-burn scene I remember from when I was a kid....) Doug is having some success at rope climbing, and he fantasizes that he's on Bloatsburg Gladiators, climbing a rope as a challenger pours butter down it. His opponent then bites Doug's rope in half so that Doug falls into an alligator pit. But Doug springs off the alligator's jaws to grab the bell at the top of the rope and ring it with his teeth as the announcer proclaims, "What an athlete!" Back in the real world, Doug has successfully reached the top of his gym rope. But in his celebration, he loses his grip and slides all the way down the rope, his hands smoking from the rope burn. Not fun to watch.

It is the day of the Fitness Test, and the mayor is there with Ronald Weisenheimer. The mayor wants a shot of Weisenheimer feeling his muscle (that sounds a little dirty as I type it...), and Weisenheimer grabs his arm but totally flattens it with his grip. I remember that part! Chalky asks Doug what happened to his hands, which are also now bandaged like his foot. That's the thing about Chalky--he's one of those perfect-at-everything people who you really want to hate except that he's so nice you can't hate him without feeling guilty. I knew someone like that growing up. Doug sits on the sidelines prepared to just watch the Fitness Test. Patti walks over, and her arm is in a sling because she pulled a muscle trying to carry those bags at the mall. I bet Connie and Beebe laughed at her too, bitches. Doug says that Patti can still run without her arm, but Patti thinks she'd look kind of stupid. Doug encourages her to go for it anyway, and she says they should go together. Doug says that sitting is about all he can do, and then gets the brilliant idea to enter the sit-ups contest.

Skeeter counts out Doug's sit-ups as Patti runs in her race. Doug reaches 200 and then 300 sit-ups, and the only other person still left in the competition at this point is of course Chalky. They reach 400, and Patti wins another race. Chalky collapses at 500 sit-ups. Doug is about to quit at 497, but Patti urges him to keep going, and he pushes himself to 501 to win the competition. The mayor comes over to shake Doug's still-rope-burned hands, and Arnold Weisenheimer tells him, "Someday, you will be like me." Dream big, Doug. Patti tells Doug that he was wonderful, causing Doug to spout little hearts on either side of his head, and Chalky tells him that he has a lot of guts. That's kind of arrogant, isn't it? Chalky's trying to act like a good loser, but you know he's secretly beating himself up over losing to a skinny little artsy type like Doug and worried that his over-demanding father will hate him. Or maybe that was just Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club. Doug writes in his journal that once he stopped worrying about having to impress everybody, he discovered that he is a sit-up machine. umm, good for you? I guess you have to take what you can get.

Doug Goes Hollywood
Hot-shot director J.B. Spigot is reportedly in Bluffington scouting for a fresh new face to star in his latest big movie. Word is really getting around. Mr. Spigot's limo stops outside the Funnies' lawn, where Phil, Doug, and Porkchop are playing catch. He snaps to his sycophantic little assistant and whispers something in his ear. The assistant walks over to Doug and tells him that he's got something special there. Doug introduces himself and Porkchop, and Mr. Spigot through his assistant says that he's perfect. The assistant snaps a photo and gives Doug Mr. Spigot's business card, promising that "my people will call your people."

Title screen: Same as the one in the first half, with Doug chasing after Porkchop and Porkchop coming back to shut off the light. Were they always the same in both halves of the episode? That is kind of lame.

Doug, who apparently hasn't heard the Spigot buzz around town, wonders if anyone's ever heard of him. Judy and her theater-snob friends are driving to hear Mr. Spigot announce his movie plans to the town, commenting on how Spigot is banal and cliche. And that they'd give anything to be in his movie. The whole town is gathered to hear the announcement, and Doug is shocked that so many people know who Spigot is. Doug apparently lives under a rock. Skeeter informs him that Spigot has done all of the "Wafflestomper" movies, which Doug has actually heard of. Roger says that he intends to be chosen as the new Wafflestomper, and if Patti plays her cards right she could get cast as Wafflestomper's girl.

This, of course, sets Doug's horny little mind off into a fantasy where Patti is tied to a chair (how kinky of you, Doug) by Roger and his gang dressed as evil James Bond-esque villains. They laugh maniacally, but then Doug-as-Wafflestomper with slicked-back hair and a white suit jacket enters and cheesily announces "trick-or-treat" in a low monotone. Villain-Roger claims that they're not doing anything wrong, but Wafflestomper-Doug comes back with the oh-so-clever monotoned retort of "liar, liar, pants on fire." Villain-Roger hates stupid catchphrases and sends his guys to attack Wafflestomper, but Wafflestomper lives up to his name by stomping on the ground with his large feet, causing heavy boxes to fall on Roger's goons. Then he picks up Roger by the collar as Roger calls Wafflestomper a "big-footed baboon." Wafflestomper's monotone cheesy reply here is, "Ouch. You burned me."

Doug is snapped back into reality by the arrival of Mr. Spigot's limo to the town hall. Mr. Spigot's assistant (apparently named Curtis) speaks again on Mr. Spigot's behalf. He says that Mr. Spigot still wants to look at more of the townspeople but wants to see them being themselves in their own element, so they should act as if he isn't there. Anyone who's ever seen an episode of The Real World knows that acting as if they don't have an audience will be impossible for the Bluffington townspeople.

Back at home, Doug hears Judy gushing on the phone about how Mr. Spigot looked right at her when he said the word "star." She wants to take his movie and use it as a stepping-stone into more artistic projects, and she says that if she doesn't get this part, she will just die. Doug tries to tell her that Spigot picked him, but she slams the door in his face. He heads outside and sees Mr. Dink driving his car to the mall in a superhero costume. Although I'm sure this is just part of a normal day for Mr. Dink, Doug asks why he's dressed that way. Spigot is rumored to be at the mall, and word is going around that his new movie is going to be superhero themed. Skeeter shows up on his skateboard dressed as an astronaut, saying he heard it was a space-adventure flick. And then Roger appears dressed as Frankenstein to say that he heard the movie will be a monster movie. Mr. Dink drives them all to the mall, where everyone is dressed in bizarre outfits and trying to perform and show off in front of Mr. Spigot. Just then Doug spots Judy dressed as a homeless person. Maudlin music plays as Judy crawls up to Spigot's table in the mall pizza shop, crying and over-acting as she holds up a ragdoll and says, "It's too late for me, but please, sir, the child!!!" Spigot and his assistant get up without a word to her.

The next day, Doug once again tries to tell Judy that he got the part over her. He asks hypothetically what she'd do if he got the part and she didn't. Judy laughs at him and says she'd hurl herself off of Mount St. Buster. Doug doesn't have the heart to tell her that it's true that he has been selected. He envisions himself as a big-time movie star with what looks like red leather pants with a matching jacket and dark sunglasses, flanked by two bodyguards. They're walking down the street followed by Doug's adoring fans, when they come across a poor homeless Judy, trying to get some money by dressing cats up in tutus and holding up their front legs to make them "dance." Doug's entourage laugh at her as they walk by, but Doug walks back and throws a few coins her way. Homeless Judy cries, "Bless you, sir!" as Doug fades out of his fantasy and back to town hall, where the entire town is once again gathered.

Mr. Spigot, or rather, Curtis, is going to announce his decision to the crowd. He says, "The new star is YOU" and points in Doug's direction, but Doug feels that he can't do that to Judy because acting means the world to her, and he starts to protest and turn the offer down. Curtis then clarifies that he wasn't pointing to Doug, but to Porkchop, who is perfect for the new dog food commercial they're shooting. The entire crowd is of course pissed off to hear that the "big movie" is in reality only a dog food ad, and Roger asks why Mr. Spigot wanted to see the townspeople in the first place. Mr. Spigot himself replies, "Well, somebody's gotta open the can."

Some time later, Doug's family is watching the completed commercial on TV. Porkchop is the star, and Judy got to "act" after all, as she was chosen to be the can-opener. "Don't you love the minimal understatement of the gesture?" she asks Doug.

Random Thoughts:
-I didn't watch the Disney Doug all that much, but now when I watch this one all I can think of is how much I hated Patti's new short hair in the Disney series.
-I love Judy. I don't think I quite "got" her as a nine-year-old when the series first started, but now she is awesome.
-This episode includes the closing credits, whereas the first episode I recapped didn't. If you don't remember them, music from the episode plays as pencil drawings of Doug and Porkchop wave goodbye, growing increasingly more tired/bored as the credits wear on. Porkchop eventually pulls out his headphones and begins dancing, but Doug taps his foot reprimandingly at him and Porkchop sheepishly runs away, with Doug chasing after him.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"This year, I'm not going to look like Miss Dorkus USA": Clarissa Explains It All, 1.02 - School Picture

I remember weird random details from this episode, like Clarissa's friend's earrings that looked like big globes. And I remember Clarissa's homemade computer game where her mother had to choose the "real" Clarissa from a burning building filled with look-alike imposters. For the show in general, I remember how I loved Clarissa's "No Fergusons" sign on her door (a photo of his face with a circle around it and line through it) and her "Guard Dog"--the photo of a dog that had a real (non-photo) chain leash around its neck that was thumbtakced to the door. I always wanted a cool room with a cool door. I got my own room when I was eight, but it had formerly been our front porch and had no door whatsoever, just a doorway. It was rough.

Major characters:
Clarissa Darling - Teenage girl explaining her life and world to us
Sam - Clarissa's cute guy friend
Ferguson Darling - Clarissa's obnoxious kiss-ass little brother
Janet Darling - Clarissa's health-food-nut mother
Marshall Darling - Clarissa's father, an architect known for his bizarre modern designs

The dvd labels this episode as episode 2, but imdb says it was produced second but aired as episode 6. Clarissa, in a studded leather jacket and bright red punk wig, turns to face the camera. She assures us that the new style doesn't mean she's joined a cult or anything, but that she's making a statement (or, she will be, once she figures out what that statement is). Clarissa tells us that there are three days a year that really burn her up. First is New Year's Eve, when you want to be rocking with Echo and the Bunnymen (only it sounds like she says "Echo and a Bunny Man") but instead always wind up listening to Guy Lombardo and watching old Lawrence Welk reruns with Aunt Dorny. (There are so many early-90s references in this episode, it hurts. And I mean that in a good way.) Second is Ferguson's birthday, which according to Clarissa's animated calendar that pops up on the screen is February 13. Third is School Picture Day, which is a day to wear dweeby clothes and get your picture taken so your mom can give it to your grandparents to show to random people on buses. Clarissa vows that this year will be different and there will be no dweeby knee socks or cardigan sweaters that make her look like everyone else in her class photo. She's currently wearing a wide-brimmed purple hat, hippie glasses, a black scarf with neon yellow spots, an orange jacket, a black and white leopard print baggy shirt, and black pants. Claudia Kishi would be proud.

Opening credits. Way cool! But it's the credits from the second through fifth seasons even though this is the season 1 dvd. Remember the first season credits, where Clarissa woke up in her pink pajamas printed with black ants all over them? I loved those pajamas. And then her family tries to get her to dress the way they see her (her mom puts her in a ballerina tutu, her dad in a basketball uniform, her brother in a gorilla suit), and then Sam finally helps her morph into her own unique look. I can't find a YouTube video of it anywhere, but I liked that opening so much better. When season 2 began, all the season 1 episodes used the new opening in reruns, which sucked.

Back to Clarissa's room, where she's pulling clothes out of her closet. "Salt N' Pepa say, 'Shake your groove thing--ow! Do what you wanna do': This is the exact philosophy I'm adopting for Picture Day," she tells us. (The actual song in question just says "shake your thang" ..."Shake Your Groove Thing" is that disco song from Peaches and Herb.) She shows us last year's class photo,where the entire class looks bland and boring in kilts or slacks and blouses. But she can't make up her mind about what rebellious look to go with this year. Since I went to a Catholic school my entire life and always had to wear a uniform, I never much put up a fight about school picture outfits, since I was always just so thrilled to not have to wear that awful plaid skirt/vest/knee socks combo for a day.

Clarissa's red-haired friend Jody stops by. It's very weird to see a friend enter through Clarissa's door and not her window. Jody has big hair and a wide headband. She also has an accent that I can't place, but I know I've heard it before. It's the same one that Anna Chlumsky and Fred Savage have (he doesn't actually speak in that clip I linked to, but I love that scene so I couldn't resist). Jody pronounces "Clarissa" like "Claire-issa" instead of "Cluh-rissa." Claire-issa and Jody are helping each other brainstorm cool outfits, and Jody has brought over her brother's Elvis impersonator costume so Clarissa can try on the jacket. But she'll need it back next weekend because her brother is playing a sweet sixteen party where the girl's father is a Star Search judge, and it could be his big break. Clarissa hands Jody a cape that she says is "Tina Turner meets Elvira." Jody wants something more Winona Ryder-ish, so Clarissa hands her a black wide-brimmed hat. I can't tell you how much I love the early-90s.

Clarissa in the bathroom is showing us her "salute to world leaders" ensemble. It includes "authentic" features such as a "Mao collar" (a black jacket with the collar pulled up), "Ghandi trousers" (her dad's blue sweatpants), a "Jackie O. pillbox hat," and a gold brooch "like the ones Barbara Bush would wear at Christmas." Is it wrong that I think her outfit looks kind of cute? Her mother calls her down to dinner without giving her time to change first, so she heads down to the kitchen in her "world leaders" getup. There's a 1991 wall calendar behind Clarissa's seat in the kitchen. Janet is serving soy sorbet for dessert. I think that's supposed to sound weird and health-nut-ish, but there's nothing too bizarre about that. Janet asks about Clarissa's fancy outfit, and Clarissa tries to casually mention that she's thinking about wearing it to school. On Friday. For Picture Day. Janet doesn't take too kindly to this idea. Suck-up Ferguson says that he will be well-groomed and tastefully dressed in his photo. He's such a little brown-noser. I'd hate it if he were my kid.

Janet shows Clarissa her old high school yearbook to show her what a lasting impression school photos can make. A set of twins to Janet look "messy and rumpled," but to Clarissa, they look "sloppy chic." Janet's picture, according to Clarissa, looks "tidy." Clarissa shows us an image of her mother's photo with her own face superimposed on it, which is actually pretty funny, and she does not want to turn out like that. Clarissa is freaked out to find that her father, on the other hand, exists only as a blank space marked "No Photo Available."

Clarissa is back in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub and pulling some striped tube socks over black flower-patterned leggings. Jody enters with some photos from downstairs. Why was Jody rummaging through the family photos rather than Clarissa? That would creep me out if it were one of my brothers' friends going through my family pictures. Jody's wearing Clarissa's big dangling globe earrings that I love (and a black and red houndstooth plaid sweater, black skirt, and bright red tights), but she expresses some hesitation over their Picture Day plan. Clarissa's response is, "Warning, Will Robinson, warning." I love how most other Nick shows of the era seemed to for the most part shy away from pop culture references, but this one just drops them in left and right with no shame. Apparently Jody's mom has told her that she'll have to do a hundred extra Hail Marys at confession if she dresses wildly. Clarissa says that if dressing chic is a sin, then Cher is definitely going to hell (they just said "hell" on Nickelodeon!). They've been searching through all the photos but still can't find Marshall's yearbook picture. Then they come across an old photo of a teenage Marshall with long hippie hair. Jody says that he looks like one of the Nelson twins, like "Gunner without, like, makeup or the spandex." Way cool. Jody laments that Clarissa's dad looks like a rock legend (Nelson? Rock legends? umm, ok) while her dad looks like Homer Simpson.

Janet is downstairs on the phone. It's Clarissa's principal, and there's a rumor going around school that Clarissa is planning to show up naked on Picture Day. They say "naked" way too many times in this scene. Clarissa and Jody come into the kitchen for cookies just as Janet is exclaiming, "Naked?!" into the phone. Clarissa is wearing a different shirt from when they were upstairs in the bathroom. Either that or she was wearing a jacket before and took it off. In any case, her black turtleneck coupled with the black and white wide headband in her hair is really cute. And she's also added jeans rolled up to the knees over her leggings. Her jeans are soooo high-waisted. yay 90s. And umm, the door behind Clarissa just opened by itself a crack and then closed again. It looked like someone was about to enter but didn't. Crew screw up, perhaps? Anyway, Janet is obviously not very happy about the news of Clarissa's plan to show up naked at school, but Clarissa assures her that it's just a rumor, and in fact Ferguson started it. He told someone that Clarissa was going to dress up like the Virgin Mary, which got passed on to someone else as Madonna, with "the underwear on the outside," which led to the naked rumor. Clarissa's mother says, "Why does my daughter have to be the weird one?" and I'm sure my mother identifies with Janet right here. Janet says that this has gone too far, and she won't have her daughter looking like Pee-Wee Herman on Picture Day. Clarissa is intrigued by this Pee-Wee Herman idea. Janet plans to do an inspection of both her and Ferguson's outfits tonight. Jody pretty awesomely says, "Whoa. Did she just upchuck on your ball gown or what?"

Ferguson's inspection goes off without a hitch because he's wearing a boring jacket and bow tie. Clarissa's wearing yet another jacket over her black turtleneck in this scene. She's seriously changed like three times over a span of a few hours. Janet, Clarissa, and Ferguson march into Clarissa's room for her outfit inspection. Clarissa kicks Ferguson out, but he protests until Janet asks him to "be a prince and go shine his shoes." Ferguson mutters that "princes don't shine their shoes--they have slaves" and with that thought heads off to find his dad. Clarissa tries to plead her case to her mother, but all her attempts fall flat. She unveils her intended outfit--overalls, a wildly patterned blouse, an orange jacket, several big necklaces (a peace sign, one that looks sort of like a cross only the top is a loop [*an ankh, thanks molly for helping me remember that!], and one with a big red and yellow ball hanging from a silver bar), and a black hat with gold patterns on the brim and rhinestones and gold patterns on top, worn with the brim to one side. Janet immediately heads to Clarissa's bureau to find some knee socks and a pleated skirt. Clarissa asks her to first play a game she's made on her computer titled "Blaze O Rama." There are a bunch of Clarissa look-alikes at each window of a burning building yelling, "Help, Mom! Help, Mom!" in computery voices. Clarissa points out that her mother can rescue the "real" Clarissa by finding the girl who is dressed differently from everybody else. I always thought Clarissa's computer was the coolest thing ever. Clarissa shows her mother the picture she found of her father with the long hair to illustrate that what looks silly and embarrassing to one person may be cool to someone else. Janet loves that picture of Marshall, whereas Clarissa feels like "if this is good looking, people should stop bugging Sinead O'Connor" (note that the link is of a live version of the song because all the official music videos have the audio disabled for some reason). Ferguson and Marshall enter, and Janet shows Marshall the picture. Marshall recalls that this photo was his yearbook photo, which the school refused to print because his hair was so long. Since he was also a nonconformist in his high school days, Janet relents and allows Clarissa to wear what she wants in her school picture.

The next day after school, Clarissa comes home in her Picture Day outfit obviously angry. Janet thinks that the kids must have made fun of Clarissa's outfit, but Jody pulls out the class photo (the photo was printed in a matter of hours???) to reveal quite possibly the greatest "twist" ending in a Nickelodeon show ever--inspired by Clarissa, the entire class also decided to rebel and dress creatively, and she once again wound up looking just like everybody else in the class photo.

Random Thoughts:
-I never realized how almost everyone in the main cast has a somewhat distinct New York accent. It sticks out so much to me now every time Clarissa says a word like "call" or "all," but I never noticed this as a kid. (I'm not mocking the NY accent by the way.... Boston's is just as distinct when you hear it on TV. And we do weird things like rhyme "bought" and "pot," which I learned in my college English textbook that no one else in the country does.)
-I also never noticed how obvious it was that Elvis, Clarissa's pet alligator in season 1, was never actually on the set. But now it is so blatantly fake looking whenever they cut to the same closeup of him growling whenever Clarissa talks to him.
-This show had a laugh track, which was odd for Nickelodeon shows at the time. Either that or it's the "live studio audience at Nickelodeon Studios" mentioned at the end of every episode.
-Either this dvd's color balance is off or this show was just really bright, because every scene looks over-saturated. It's probably a little bit of both... a really brightly colored set coupled with a cheaply produced dvd.