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.


annakelly said...

I barely remember this one, but I think I remember Budnick losing the game because he was hogging the ball.

Even though I was never one for obstacle course type shows, I kinda liked Legends of the Hidden Temple. And What Would You Do? There's a classic.

nikki said...

I thought I didn't remember this one, but the toilet seat picture seems awfully familiar to me. You've really put me in a nostalgic mood, I need to Netflix some of these old Nick shows!

I linked you on my own new blog:

colleenn said...

...and you are now added to mine. :) yay! I do love the nostalgic YA lit.

corduroyspocket said...

Telly=the black Kristy Thomas? Discuss.

Molly said...

If they would just make a Classic Nick channel...sigh. There are like a million Nick channels for CURRENT shows, they can't spare one for the good stuff?

megan s said...

Budnick was always my fav!!

BadKat said...

I still see kids playing with water guns. I think that a lot of parents are too soft with their kids and think any type of gun toy is bad. I come from a bunch of hippies, and they still let me play with water guns (and played themselves). I had one that launched some sort of water-soaked ball at people, it was great!

Um, is ZZ channeling Claudia from BSC?

colleenn said...

They do need a classic Nick channel. Their Nicktoons channel is more or less useless and should be converted. :)

And yes, Telly is so Kristy Thomas. I don't know how I didn't see it before. Z.Z. is kind of a cross between Claudia and Dawn I think. She's hippie-ish like Dawn but seems to have Claudia's bizarre taste in homemade accessories.

13readingat30 said...

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