Jag är en jävla nörd

olaf billy sad

Season 1, Episode 3

“Why, ‘Mudge?  Just why?” 

A fair question, posed by a dedicated reader who may be rethinking that dedication right aboot now.

Since I have another whole episode to tackle in this post, for now I’ll just offer this quick list of some of the factors that led to my decision to dedicate this blog in its entirety to the analysis of Fifteen:

  • People talk too much — WAY too much — an opinion I ‘d already made crystal clear on this page before starting in this new direction.  Rarely do we convey useful information with our speech, but we always seem to believe that the personal triviality du jour aboot which we’re blabbing is the most important thing in the world.  It isn’t.  Whatever it is, I promise you, nobody cares but you.  In fact, they’re probably not even listening to you because they are too busy doing the same thing simultaneously.  THUS, if I have to listen to everyone’s incessant chatter aboot the excruciating minutiae of their mind-numbing daily lives (which I do, because I’m a person), then YOU have to put up with the fact that I fully intend to continue blabbing on and on and on and on aboot Fifteen for at least the next year of my life.  My point?  Mock-praising a show like Fifteen may be stupid, cheap, frivolous and childish – but no more so than the excrement that spews from the mouths of 99% of the human race every single moment of every single day.
  • If anyone really believes that I can go for 65 posts withoot delving into philosophy, politics, and quantum physics, then that person hasn’t been reading my blog for very long. Despite my initial assertion to the contrary, I will of course continue to interject opinions aboot those topics – but only when I can manage to do so through the vehicle of Fifteen.
  • In the past, I have written aboot religion and spirituality an awful lot – sometimes with reverence and sometimes disparagingly, but always with a sense of importance. On Saturday, some guy in Phoenix killed his spouse, two of his children, and a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, while his 3 year old hid under the bed.  During the interrogation, he told police that “God told him to handle things this way and God was okay with it” due to his wife’s alleged infidelity.  Yay, God!  I have washed my hands of religion – Buddhism included – because the alleged significance of mankind implicit in almost every belief system just nauseates me.
  • I LOVE Canada. Any mockery towards my lucky northern friends in these posts comes from a place of love, I assure you.  Why, you ask?  To name just a few of the wonderful things aboot the Great White North: Rush; SCTV; Skinny Puppy; ice hockey; FIFTEEN; Leonard Cohen; MyDangBlog!; socialized medicine; legal weed; Voivod; Neil Young; You Can’t Do That On Television; back bacon; Molson.
  • On the off chance that Ryan Reynolds should ever decide to Google himself on a lazy Sunday afternoon and stumble upon this page, my entire silly, aimless life up to this point will have been entirely worthwhile.
  • Fifteen kicks ass. It kicked ass when I was a 21 year old angry drunk and it kicks even more ass now that a quarter century has passed.

All good now?  Ready to stop worrying aboot my mental state and move on to more important topics like, say, The Dislocated Swede?   Great!  Then let’s get to it.

The episode opens at Brooke’s palatial mansion.  Dutch Boy is still badgering Brooke in her bedroom aboot her promise to be home for Mom’s stupid phone call on Friday night.  Suddenly, Brooke opens the bedroom door and shouts down the stairs, “I’LL BE ANOTHER TEN MINUTES, KEL, WHY DON’T YOU COME ON UP INSTEAD OF SITTING ON THE STAIRS LIKE A LOSER!”  These quotes are verbatim, by the way.  Kelly enters, Dutch Boy splits, and the devious duo catch each other up on the progress of their evil plot.  They are the only people in Brooke’s room, but once again they lean in real close and whisper in each other’s ears, so we aren’t yet privy to what they have up their Benetton-clad sleeves.

At his locker, a hungover-looking Matt apologizes to Ashley for screaming at her yesterday at The Avalon.  Like every single apology in this show, it starts oot contrite enough, but then goes off the rails and somehow metamorphoses into the diametric opposite of an apology.  Here, see for yourself:

Matt:  Look, aboot yesterday afternoon, I’m really sorry.

Ashley:  it’s ok

Matt:  No, it’s not okay.  I was acting like a total jerk.

Ashley:  you were just upset aboot getting hassled by the coach.

Matt:  But that didn’t give me any right to blow up at you and Jake.  I mean…okay, it gets on my nerves a little when you guys have a cow every time I talk aboot having a beer –

Ashley:  no one was having a cow, matt.

Matt:  Let’s just drop it!

They continue talking and Ashley hesitantly voices her concern aboot rumors she’s been hearing that Matt and Brooke are having a secret side-fling.  Matt reassures her that he has no interest in Brooke, Ashley apologizes, Matt reminds her that he was the one who was supposed to be apologizing and they continue to sit on a bench apologizing to each other for the next fifty years.  It’s always problematic when the director falls asleep on the job and neglects to yell “Cut!”

Now Brooke and Kelly are examining some forged notes they concocted, one from Matt asking Jake to meet him at the mall at 7:30 and one from Jake asking Matt to meet him at The Avalon at 7:30 to discuss something important.  They deem the plan brilliant and fail-safe while delighting in its potential falloot.

Grandma Walton and Whisper Wuss enter through the Vestibule To Nowhere talking aboot some shitty Courtney-penned poem over which Ashley is gushing.  It’s going to take a while, but trust me, this Courtney-the-Bard-of-Avalon shit is going to culminate in an episode that’s guaranteed to make you contemplate slashing your wrists, but we don’t get to hear the fruits of her literary labors just yet.  They approach their lockers and suddenly Ashley halts her obsequious fawning to have a mini-stroke aboot the fact that she forgot her gym clothes again (“…and Miss Leddingham said that if I forget them again, i’m dead!”)  She works herself into a sobbing, mouth-foaming frenzy and flees the school, leaving her self-absorbed Amish wannabe fuckhead of a friend to sarcastically soliloquize, “Well, thanks for reading my poem, anyway.” (“She crashes on your couch when she loses her job; you feed her soup when she breaks her jaw; you help her pee when she’s got that thing, ‘cause she’s your BEST FRIEND!!”)

Brooke approaches Matt in the lounge and asks him if this is “nerd-oot time or something” because he happens to be reading a textbook in school.  She sits down and asks him what his Friday night plans are.  Not yet having received the fake note from Jake, he says that he’ll be taking in a movie with Ashley (“the new one, with Mel Gibson”).  As Brooke responds with pleasantries or mockery or who the fuck can ever tell the difference from these little shitheads, a tall doofus with some kind of European tote bag slung over his shoulder wanders into the scene looking lost and staring at a piece of paper.  Brooke spots him oot of the corner of her eye and alerts Matt to the “major geek at three o’clock”.  Matt acknowledges the geek and explains to Brooke that he’s “from Finland or something” and that his name is Olaf.  As loudly as possible, they continue to brutally trash him, yet he seems not to hear any of their mockery even though he is now aboot a foot and a half away from where they’re sitting.  Olaf cheerfully greets them and tells them that he “seems to have dislocated himself”, causing his new horrible acquaintances to laugh in his face and imitate his imperfect command of the English language.  Politely, he guesses, “This was not the right word?”, setting off even more uncontrollable laughter.  Nonplussed and seemingly incapable of offense, Olaf continues to explain that he’s having trouble finding a classroom, so Matt starts to give him an intentionally over-complicated path to his destination.  Midway through his fake directions, some hippie chick saunters over (our first introduction to Cindy) and helpfully tells him that his destination is “the portable classroom at the north end of the building”.  So there are portable classrooms, too.  At the north end of The Hillside physics-defying labyrinth.  Christ on a freaking cracker.

The Avalon.  A waitress delivers some milkshakes to the booth where Courtney, Matt and Jake are sitting, then pivots and takes an empty soda glass from the table where Brooke is sitting, just feet away.  In case you hadn’t already noticed, where ever the hell these kids are supposed to live, there is literally NO FUCKING QUARTER in which you can ever get away from the eyes and ears of every other little petty busybody infesting this godforsaken town.  Kelly enters and sits down next to Brooke, obviously bursting with some tidbit of gossip.  She asks Brooke if she’s seen Ashley, Brooke says no, and Kelly informs her that she’s at this very moment running “aboot 800 laps” because Miss Leddingham busted her for skipping school due to her earlier gym clothes freak oot.  The camera swings back to the other table where Matt, et al are discussing the exact same thing with only slightly less glee.  Courtney explains to her as-yet-undisclosed object of infatuation and her pet hamster that Ashley forgot her gym clothes, ditched school and hid at the library, where she was caught by the principal.  Jake opines, “Only Ashley would skip class and go to the library.  If she had come to The Avalon instead, she’d have been fine.”  You must be new here, Jake.  Nobody ever leaves The Avalon with their soul unscathed.

Here’s where my linguistic skills are bound to fall short.  If there were a way for me to extricate this scene from the larger episode and post it here, believe me, I would.  Ashley enters wearing a sweat jacket that’s aboot 10 sizes too large, sheepishly approaches her table of friends and says, “hi, guys.  still feel like talking to me?”  Ever the gentleman, Jake cedes his seat next to Matt (and his milkshake, apparently) to Ashley.  She begins by complaining in an exhausted whisper that her whole body, even her hair, hurts because she “just ran 5 laps”.  Kelly was engaging in a touch of hyperbole a few moments ago, you see.  A hitherto unexposed side – or, to be more precise, several dozen hitherto unexposed sides – of Ashley begin to manifest themselves in the multi-faceted psychotic episode to follow.  She gets progressively animated while mocking Miss Leddingham’s authoritative voice, then segues into an impression of a lecture she received from the principal, Mr. Zimmerman, before momentarily falling into mournful silence again.  Matt interjects that it’s not a big deal, causing Ashley to argue that it IS a big deal – she’s never skipped a class in her life.  She then launches into a sad reverie aboot how she’s “always tried to do exactly what she’s supposed to do, but now…”, and this is when her brain suffers a fatal malfunction, along with her entire nervous system, which is doing all the acting in this scene on behalf of its host, Laura Harris.  She stifles a laugh as she ecstatically marvels at the fact that she now has a “brand new reputation” and she’s gone instantly from being a good little student to a “problem girl”.  Then a giggling fit ensues that literally defies description.  Her toddler giggles don’t appear to come from her mouth but seem to assault her entire face like an unseen and violent exterior force.  She proclaims with great satisfaction, “i think it’s wonderful! *snicker* *giggle* *chortle*”.  She pauses.  “*giggle*, *snicker*, *giggle giggle*”, pause.  “giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle”, pause.  As Matt jokingly tells his friends that “she can be a little weird sometimes”, his fucking mental patient of a girlfriend continues to have oddly-timed seizures of softly maniacal laughter, always falling momentarily silent between each seemingly involuntary fit of lunacy.  As I look on in terrified confusion, it takes every ounce of my restraint to refrain from punching myself in the temples.  I’ve more than once found myself in the company of people who were tripping out on Ecstasy and none of them approached the level of horrifying emotional maelstrom that Ashley achieves in this baffling sequence.

Just as I suspected, my best attempt did not do this scene justice.  Do me a favor, dear readers, and consult YouTube for this one (season 1, episode 3, at the 11:30 mark).  I know when to admit defeat, and Laura Harris’ performance absolutely trumped my capabilities as a writer.  Touché, Ashley.

ashley laughs

To close out the scene, Brooke and Kelly remark from their nearly adjacent table that by 8:00 tonight, “Little Miss Perfect won’t be laughing at all.”

Back at Hillside, Jake approaches Courtney at her locker and apologizes for being 3 minutes late so profusely that it sounds like he has apology-Tourette’s.  They’re meeting to work on a geography project but Jake, bless his stupid heart, starts whining about how wrong it is to do homework on a Friday afternoon in an obvious attempt to turn this little meetup into something more akin to a date.  Always the trailblazer, Jake suggests milkshakes at The Avalon and off they go but not before running into Deadpool who wants to tag along but instead is treated to the “go away, kid, ya bother me” routine from his loving sister.  Incidentally, the dreadful top Courtney’s been wearing for the last several scenes seems to have an oversized lace bib sewn into the fabric and yet this does nothing to dampen Jake’s unquenchable desire for this fugly sperm curdler.

Olaf is sitting on a bench reading Lord of the Flies when Cindy comes by, peers over his shoulder and correctly guesses that ostracize is the word with which he’s struggling.  This, of course, serves as the perfect opening for Cindy to start prying into whether Olaf may be feeling a bit ostracized by his new, oddly Finn-phobic peers.  Olaf concurs, but not before politely pointing out to Cindy that she’s very…”what’s the word I’m looking for?”  “Blunt?”  Thank you, Cindy, but I’m pretty sure Aubrey Nealon Olaf already knew that and was just posing his question rhetorically.  With that, an airtight bond of shared peculiarity is formed.

Ashley is sitting alone at a booth in The Avalon when Dylan, who up to this point has never been shown to have any connection to Ashley whatsoever, approaches and asks her aboot yesterday’s incident with the gym coach.  Ashley tells him the story, but bumps the number of laps she ran up to 10, so all we really know for sure is that she ran anywhere between 5 and 800 laps.  Dylan responds by welcoming her into the fold of juvenile delinquency as Matt (of course) enters, strikes a cock-blocking pose and interrogates Dylan as to why he’s daring to speak a few words to his girlfriend.  Dylan opts to cut his losses and split, but not before turning to Ashley and in what I can only guess is meant to be an homage to Humphrey Bogart says, “Schee you later, Schweetheart!”  We will come to realize that this ridiculous Bogart thing is Dylan’s signature move with the ladies but astoundingly, not one of them reacts by laughing in his strategically-scarred pretty-boy face.  Matt sits down and informs Ashley that he won’t be able to keep their movie date tonight because of the note he received from Jake (it’s just as well, Ashley…you probably don’t know this yet, but Mel Gibson is a drunken anti-Semite).

Brooke’s room.  Theresa storms in and gives her sister a stern dressing down for failing to show up on time to answer Mom’s stupid phone call.  She is livid that she missed her friend’s birthday party due to Brooke’s selfishness.  The significance of this scene is that it marks the precise moment that Theresa begins to genuinely despise Brooke, though it’s unlikely Brooke is even mildly intimidated by this goofy tantrum thrown by Blossom of the North.

Kelly is on The Avalon payphone talking to – Ashley!  Speaking as if they’re lifelong friends as opposed to antagonistic acquaintances, Kelly feigns surprise at the fact that Ashley and Matt won’t be seeing each other tonight, then suggests that they get together instead.  She convinces Ashley to meet her in front of The Avalon at 7:45.

Dylan is in his garage playing what I’m sure they want us to believe is an original riff, but is actually an amateurish note-for-note cover of a segment from Rush’s 2112.  Suddenly, the camera cuts to an extended moody exterior shot of the garage-laden junkyard at dusk.  This is convenient, because it gives us a long moment to size up the Blackwell homestead.  There isn’t a residence anywhere to be found, just three garages and/or sheds rising from the junk.  Do his parents live in one of the smaller garages?  There’s no bed, mattress, futon, cot, La-Z-Boy, hammock or sleeping bag visible in the garage Dylan inhabits, so where the fuck does he sleep?  THESE AREN’T RHETORICAL QUESTIONS, BINKLEY – I DEMAND ANSWERS!

A tie-dye-clad Deadpool knocks on the door and Dylan greets him with confused annoyance or annoyed confusion, because it’s just bad protocol to drop in unannounced on someone as publicly private as Dylan.  Finally, Dylan eases up and invites Billy to “make himself at home” even though there isn’t a single chair upon which to park one’s ass.  Dylan must have cleared oot such superfluous items to make room for the drum set that he doesn’t play.  Deadpool clearly admires Dylan’s near-homelessness as his mentor tells him that he likes it because it’s quiet, “just me and the guitar”.  Mm hmm.  I’m convinced you do more than pluck oot old Rush ditties on that thing, Dylan, and I’m starting to understand your aversion to unexpected visitors.

Eventually, Dylan invites Billy to try his hand at the drum kit.  Deadpool grabs the sticks, dons a shit-eating grin and proceeds to hammer away like Keith Moon with late stage Parkinson’s.

Matt is at the pinball machine, waiting for Jake to arrive (which, of course, he won’t because he’s at the mall waiting for Matt to arrive – this is a complex and multi-layered plot unfolding here).  Brooke arrives on schedule and feigns surprise that Matt is here by himself instead of at the movies with Ashley.  Matt tells her he’s waiting for Jake.  Brooke peers around The Avalon, notes that Jake doesn’t seem to be around and offers to keep Matt company in the meantime.  She takes a step towards Matt and he backs away like she’s covered in leprosy sores.  After some more flirtation, Brooke holds her hand oot to Matt and asks if he likes her new ring.  She wiggles her hand in his face until he grasps it to get a closer look.  Take note: Matt grasps her hand at the 22:33 mark in the episode.  As Matt nervously compliments Brooke’s ring, Kelly and Ashley enter on cue through the door next to the payphone.  They stand in the middle of The Avalon talking aboot how nice it is to be hanging oot together for the first time until Kelly glances towards the pinball room and pretends to be shocked at what she sees, quickly telling Ashley in a panicked voice that maybe they should go somewhere else.  Kelly continues to fix her gaze on the pinball room until her dim-witted companion finally gets a clue and turns around to see Matt and Brooke holding hands.  Matt notices his girlfriend glaring daggers at him and abruptly releases Brooke’s hand.  This happens at the 23:25 mark.  For the math-impaired, this means that Matt was holding Brooke’s fucking hand for 52 SECONDS, a veritable eternity no matter whether we’re talking about reality or a shitty Nickelodeon soap opera.  Ashley tells Matt to never speak to her again, “ever!” and flees The Avalon while Brooke and Kelly exchange some priceless looks of schadenfreudic satisfaction to take us to the closing credits.

Things are about to get real, y’all.  Until the next time.

 

Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies

pinball

Season 1, Episode 2

I have had recurring nightmares, though I don’t ever recall having a nightmare one night, waking up and living through the day, going back to bed and picking up on last night’s nightmare right where it had left off.  Have you ever wondered how that might feel?

Scenes from last week, theme music, exterior shot of The Avalon (Chinese Foods) and then – holy fuck – COURTNEY IS STILL WHINING TO JAKE ABOOT HER PARENTS!!  At first, I wasn’t sure if this was the exact same conversation from last week because for at least the first 30 seconds, we’re assaulted by an extreme closeup of Courtney in her cow milking-best, quiver-lipping her way through an explanation of the “Dad-sized hole” in her household since he moved oot.  Finally, when they pan oot to show us the whole booth, we see that it’s still Jake being bombarded by this torrent of unsolicited self-pity and he’s still wearing the same shirt we last saw him in.  This pathetic soliloquy eats up the first three and a half minutes of the episode before Courtney finally decides that the “bright side” to all of this is that it will give her writing material.  So now we know that Courtney fancies herself a writer.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Now Matt is back at Attila The Hun.  This time, we can hear pinball sounds but the flippers don’t respond to Matt’s fingers.  What kind of fucked up prop is this?  Couldn’t these morons just buy a goddamned pinball machine and plug it in?  They must have purchased this thing from the same discount prop store that provided the Hillside lockers.  Kelly coolly eases her way into the pinball room and starts asking Matt some very specific questions aboot his weekend plans and whether he’ll be spending time with Ashley.  This is an information gathering mission, of course.  Matt tells her that Ashley is bogged down with homework but they might spend time together tomorrow.  Mission accomplished, Kelly takes her leave and Matt looks puzzled.  No one ever seems to be suspicious of Brooke and Kelly when they are so clearly in the process of trying to destroy lives – just puzzled at the interactions.  It’s as though none of these kids have ever met each other before – or they’re all having a recurring group nightmare that doesn’t ever pick up where it left off.

Now we’re back at Hillside where Ashley is studying.  She’s wearing Matt’s letterman jacket over her usual pink attire and before I even have time to process how ridiculous she looks, here comes Courtney down the stairs looking like an FLDS sister-wife.  Ashley bolts oot of her seat to apologize for not calling Courtney last night, Courtney says it’s fine and that she’s fine, which is the cue for her best friend to remind her that she’s not fine, no one’s fine, nobody in the history of ever has ever been fine, Courtney!  “Come on…maybe you’re coping, but you CAN’T be fine.”  Jesus Christ, Brooke, let’s get cracking on destroying this asshole, please.

While I’m trying to fashion a noose oot of some old bedsheets, Ashley’s blathering on aboot how she’s certain she failed today’s English test as Brooke approaches the table, says some Brookey things and soaks up Courtney’s sycophantic flattery.   Matt approaches and sits down next to Ashley.  Brooke, who is still hovering behind everyone at the table, tells Matt that it was great talking to him on the phone last night which elicits a stunned “What?!” from Ashley.  Aside from the look of shock on Ashley’s face, this is all very boring and it turns oot Brooke called Matt aboot a homework assignment or some shit, but since this is all clearly part of Brooke’s evil plan, I put the noose aside and resign myself to finish watching the scene.  This was a mistake on my part, because after Matt leaves the table with Brooke tagging after him, Courtney turns to Ashley and says, “Brooke really dresses beautifully, doesn’t she?  In fact, Brooke is beautiful.”  Forget it, Courtney.  She’s oot of your league.  But I understand Jake is single.

Now we see Matt and Jake at their bizarre stand-alone pair of lockers.  Matt tells Jake that he’ll catch up with him later because he “got a note from Coach Williams” who wants to see him at noon.  This is a high school basketball coach who communicates with his team by passing notes.  Jake ascends the stairs in a paroxysm of Matt adoration that ends with a completely unironic, “Catch ya later, Ace!”

The dulcet tones of Dylan’s guitar emanate from the lounge where he is sitting on a table playing his electric guitar which is plugged into an amp that’s sitting on a coffee table that seems to have appeared in the lounge just to facilitate Dylan’s private jam session.  Seriously.  This butt nugget is hanging oot alone in the school lounge with an electric guitar and an amplifier, yet he acts surprised when Deadpool shows up and gushes aboot what a great guitar player he is, as if he hadn’t expected such an intrusion upon his private concert for one.  Oot of nowhere, Dylan says to his little identically-dressed groupie, “Did you know Jimi Hendrix played left-handed?” as Matt approaches, makes a few “rock star” remarks to Dylan that I guess are supposed to be insults, and mocks Billy for his Dylanesque duds.

Back in the girls’ locker room, Brooke and Kelly remind any amnesiacs oot there in TV Land that they’re plotting to do something devious to Matt and Ashley.

Now we’re back in the strange locker vestibule and Courtney is tagging after an extremely disinterested Brooke talking animatedly aboot her writing.  As if attempting to save her pathetic friend from further embarrassment, Ashley comes bounding down the stairs like a six year old that just ate a case of Pixie Stix and tells Courtney that she did okay on the test she’d been stressing aboot earlier.  She asks Brooke how she did on the test and she curtly answers, “fine.”  Dylan is listening as he comes down the stairs and he notices (because he has eyes) that Brooke’s test paper is sticking oot of her folder, so he snatches it and informs everyone in earshot that she got a 53 on the test.  Brooke runs off, mortified.

What follows is the single greatest scene ever.  Ashley, still wearing Matt’s letterman jacket, approaches Matt at his locker:

“hi, matt.”

“YEAH?!?!”

“jake said you had a meeting with your basketball coach.  So how’d it go?”

Matt violently chucks some books into his locker, slams it closed, it swings back open (of course) and Ashley is once again left to wallow in devastated confusion.

The excitement is short-lived, because now Courtney and Deadpool are on the steps waxing catatonic aboot their parents again.

Back at The Avalon, Filth Pig serves up some sodas to Matt and Ashley’s booth.  Matt’s explaining to Ashley that Coach Williams told him he’s lazy, despite the fact that he averages 19 points a game.  Never one to engage in damage control, Ashley whispers another log onto the fire in Matt’s soul by seeming to side with Coach Williams:

“i don’t know.  maybe…”

“MAYBE WHAT?!?”

“maybe he thinks you do need to work a little harder.”

“I scored 27 points!”

“maybe he thinks you can score even more.”

“OH, THIS IS GREAT!  YOU’RE TAKING HIS SIDE!”

Ashley finally snaps oot of her masochistic episode and gets up to go to some meeting as Matt continues to grumble aboot having an absentee girlfriend while he’s “dealing with all this garbage from Williams”.  As Ashley exits, we see that Kelly and a couple of unnamed girls are sitting at a nearby booth watching with amusement.  But this here is a double-lurk situation, y’all, because if you look closely, you will see Theresa for the first time sitting on a stool at the counter eavesdropping on the table of eavesdroppers.  Kelly is planting the seeds of a rumor aboot Matt having a crush on Brooke.  I’m surprised they didn’t keep panning oot until eventually we saw God eavesdropping on Theresa eavesdropping on Kelly eavesdropping on Ashley and Matt.  FUCK – I thought this goddamn scene was finally over.  How foolish of me.  Dutch Boy in Garanimals catches up to Kelly on her way oot and chastises her for spreading rumors.  Kelly refrains from chastising Dutch Boy for not minding her own fucking business.  It is nothing short of tragic that I’m unable to find a Google image of what Theresa is wearing in this scene.

Back at Hillside, Brooke kamikazes Matt in the hallway and tries to get him to admit that he and Ashley are having problems.  Instead, he continues to vent aboot his problems with “the yo-yo that coaches the basketball team”.  We get treated to the exact same diatribe he just unleashed on Ashley at The Avalon, but Brooke, of course, is far more sympathetic and flattering.  Matt thanks her for her manufactured kindness and adds, “It’s nice to get a little support from someone.”  Matt splits, Dylan wanders into view, and Brooke continues flirting shamelessly, as if it doesn’t matter one bit who she flirts with, as long as she’s flirting with someone.  Brooke is fishing for Dylan to ask her to The Avalon later and he pretends to take the bait.: “It could be fun.  Tell you what, forget Avalon’s.  Let’s go to New York for the weekend.”  Brooke calls him a pig and glares after him as he swaggers away, apparently too offended to point oot that the only place in town that any of these little Canadian shit stains ever patronize is called The Avalon.

Exterior shot of the plantation where Brooke and Dutch Boy live.  Brooke’s bedroom is considerably larger than all the apartments in which I’ve ever lived combined.  This is pre-Internet Age, of course, yet she has two computers.  Brooke is putting clothes away when Theresa enters.  The discussion to follow is ridiculous and dull, but of course, essential for the understanding of future events, so let’s see how fast I can explain this nonsense.  Theresa reminds Brooke that she promised she would be home this coming Friday afternoon to answer a call that their mother is expecting.  Yeah, I don’t fucking get it, either.  Apparently, Mom is expecting an important call at 4:30 on Friday, but won’t be home to take it.  Rather than, I don’t know, trust her answering machine, she instead insisted that one of her daughters stay home to answer this call.  Theresa wants to go to Crystal’s birthday party that afternoon, so she’s reminding Brooke of her promise to be home for Mom’s telephone call.  Then Theresa asks Brooke aboot the rumors she overheard Kelly discussing and attempts to advise Brooke not to get between Matt and Ashley.  Harsh words are spoken.  Animosity foments.  The world keeps spinnin’.

Kelly and Brooke are at The Avalon, sitting at the counter.  There are some hard-to-discern baked goods visible through the dingy plastic of the normally empty cake stand, perhaps hastily gathered together by Filth Pig when he noticed that two main characters were choosing to sit at the counter instead of their usual booth.  No one else seems to be present, not even the staff.  Yet, when Brooke tells Kelly that she has a plan to break up Ashley and Matt, they both lean in as close to each other as possible while Kelly cups her ear and Brooke pantomimes whispering a secret.

Attila The Hun room.  Matt is pretending to play pinball, even though the machine is clearly unplugged, while Ashley and Jake hover over him.  They’re still talking aboot Coach Williams hassling Matt.  Ashley whispers something and Matt yells at her.  Jake nervously chimes in and Matt yells at him.  Matt – still yelling — changes the subject to weekend plans.  The rest of this scene makes me giddy because it’s the first time that Matt’s drinking is mentioned.  I’ll let the l’il Canucks speak for themselves:

Matt:  There’s gotta be a party somewhere.

Jake:  Sounds good to me!

Matt:  Then that’s what we’ll do.  You find oot where there’s a party happening and I’ll line up a case of beer.

Jake:  Oh.  Right.

Matt:  Don’t sound so enthusiastic.  C’mon.  You can’t have a party withoot beer!

Ashley:  well, actually, you can.

Matt: Oh, man, here we go!  The ‘Just Say No To Beer’ lecture.

Ashley:  I’m not lecturing.

Matt:  Look — it’s not totally unusual for guys to have a few beers on Saturday night.  So what’s the problem?

Jake:  We’re not saying it’s a problem.

Matt:  Good!

Ashley:  but it’s not just Saturday nights, is it?  I mean, you drink beer more than once a week.

Matt:  LOOK – I’M SICK AND TIRED OF BEING HASSLED!!  First, I have to put up with Williams and now this, AND I JUST DON’T NEED IT!

Matt storms oot of The Avalon as a sullen Ashley closes the episode with this foreboding summation: “he’s changing…and I’m really starting to worry aboot him.”

Trust me, Matt: there isn’t enough beer in the world to make this fucking little whispering douche pickle palatable.  But I’ll bet you everything from a diddle-eyed Joe to a damned-if-I-know that Brooke can hold her liquor.

Next installment: THE DISLOCATED SWEDE!!

 

The Nightmare Commences

cafe

Season 1, Episode 1

A school bell rings as an illustrated high school morphs into a real high school while the greatest theme music ever composed on a toy Casio keyboard assaults your ears.  A wide shot of the school hallway where Matt (credited in the opening as “Matt”), Ashley (“Ashley”) and Jake (“Jake”) pass a basketball around.  Then we find ourselves in Brooke’s bedroom where Theresa (“Theresa”) picks up the phone, then hands it to Kelly (“Kelly”) who proceeds to hand it off to Brooke (“Brooke”).  Finally, we’re in Dylan’s garage, introduced by turn to Billy (“Billy”), Dylan (“Dylan”), and Courtney (“Courtney”).  An interior shot of the Avalon and we’re off to the races.  As you can see, aside from the exclusion of Cindy and Olaf from the opening montage, it basically accomplishes in aboot 20 seconds what it took me 28 paragraphs to do in my last post.

These episodes all had titles, incidentally, but aside from the previously mentioned “The Dislocated Swede”, I’m not going to bother finding oot what they all were.  And no, they are not indicated anywhere on the DVR set that I recently scored which is of slightly higher quality than a collection of cell phone videos of a TV screen.

First we meet Brooke and Kelly who enter through the perplexing door that may or may not be the main entrance of the school.  On the one hand, there is an exit sign above the door, visible from the inside, but if you look through the narrow window panes, you can see that there’s something else going on back there and it can’t be the direct access to the school from ootside.  If my first day of school at this den of torture had been over a decade ago, I’d probably still be standing ootside trying to figure oot how the fuck to get in.  Anyway, Brooke and Kelly waste no time launching into their mean girl schtick and Kelly tells Brooke that she saw Courtney sitting ootside on the steps “looking totally tragic”.  Of course, they must find oot why ASAP.  Then they continue to fill in some backstory by mercilessly trashing Ashley for being, well, Ashley, and debating Matt’s hotness.  This is the cue for Matt to appear from the mysterious stairwell (which is across from the soda machine, not next to it as I indicated previously…this is important!).  In the early episodes, Matt is almost always wearing his Hillside letterman jacket, which is a small mercy as it temporarily shields us from his abominable wardrobe composed entirely of clashing-colored polo shirts.  Matt asks them if they’ve seen Ashley, then beats a hasty retreat, leaving Kelly to gush aboot how hot he is through her cumbersome but somehow aesthetically appealing braces.  A few pointed eye rolls later and we see Matt approaching a table in the student lounge (?) occupied by a couple of jocks and Jake.  Jake is no jock.  I think the writers hadn’t figured oot what to do with him yet because his attitude is relaxed and even slightly antagonistic as he gushes on and on aboot what a fabulous basketball player his shitty best friend is.  Jake is so obviously warm for Matt’s form, but in a show that tackled issues like alcoholism, divorce and terminal disease, homosexuality was still a bridge too far.  So let’s assume it was intentionally implied.  One of the unnamed jocks hails Matt for scoring “27 points…in the last 5 minutes” in Friday’s game.  I have to assume that the opposing team must all have come down with explosive diarrhea at the 5 minute warning, since it would be literally impossible to score 27 points in 5 minutes even if you were playing against a squad of paraplegics.  This scene is so painful to watch and it’s also the only time that Ashley’s entrance elicits a sigh of relief.  Ashley even somehow manages to walk in a whisper.  She whisper-walks to Matt’s side and whispers “hi, matt”, and Matt gives her a tiny peck on the cheek.  Got that?  A tiny, completely platonic peck on the cheek.  Jake reacts: “WOAH-HO!  STAND BACK!!  WE’LL GET BLINDED BY THE SPARKS OF PASSION!”  I shit you not.  Ashley and Matt mutter a few platitudes to each other that make it seem as if they’re meeting for the first time while Brooke and Kelly, obscured behind a fake potted bush of some kind, sneer at the nauseating spectacle (“If those two don’t cut it oot, I’m gonna gag!”)

As Ashley walks away from the table of jocks, Brooke and Kelly call her over to mock-praise her ootfit.  Ashley is wearing a pink denim jacket over a purple shirt and pink denim jeans.  I won’t have to describe what she’s wearing for the rest of this season, since it’s always a pink denim jacket over a purple shirt and pink denim jeans.  The only variation to her look is that the tougher life gets for poor Ashley, the more her pink denim jacket slides precipitously off her shoulders.

The scene changes and we see Courtney for the first time, wandering around the school wearing what I can only assume is her dead grandmother’s sofa.  Ashley enters from behind and says hi.  Courtney doesn’t return the pleasantry and asks if Ashley’s seen Billy.  Ashley sheepishly asks, “Your brother?” to which Courtney replies, “No, Billy Idol.  Who’d you think?”  BFFs warm the heart, don’t they?  Courtney’s facial features ooze disdain for her bestie – and this is the first time we’re ever shown an interaction between these two.  Courtney says a few more unnecessarily sarcastic things and bolts, setting up the first of countless close-up shots of Ashley’s face trying to process the fact that life just once again took a jackhammer to her fragile little soul.  These poignant and wonderful moments are the reason film was invented.

A completely superfluous dialogue between Brooke and Matt follows.  This whole scene is irrelevant, but there are a few key things to point oot.  Matt is eating a bag of microwave popcorn at one of the lounge tables.  Brooke is carrying what looks like a cafeteria tray with an apple on it.  Brooke flirts for a bit, then walks away.  Jake appears, seemingly from thin air, and asks for the first time the question that is pretty much the backbone of the show: “Did I just miss something here?”  No, Jake.  No, you didn’t, because you were fucking eavesdropping the whole time, just like everyone who inhabits the Ninth Circle of Hell, a/k/a Hillside.  But the important thing here is Brooke’s cafeteria tray.  Never again do we see any sign of an actual cafeteria or lunchroom because everyone brings a bag lunch and eats in the lounge, even though the lounge is never occupied by more than 4 people at a time.

Matt and Jake exchange a few sweet nothings and on their way to the gym, they run into Dylan swaggering through the halls, all leather jacket and ripped jeans.  He greets Matt with a sarcastic (I think), “Hey, Stud”, then launches into what is either an insulting diatribe or a sincere tribute to “THE Matt Walker”, replete with words like “spectacular”.  Then he leans in and pinches Matt’s polo shirt and says, “May I touch your raiment?”  Think aboot that.  Somebody actually sat down and wrote that shit into a television script.  They nearly come to blows, some ominous music plays and we have now established that Matt and Dylan are sworn enemies whose only means of expressing such animosity is through effusive and sometimes Shakespearian praise.  As Dylan exits, Matt sarcastically asks Jake if he should be shaking in his boots and Jake, of course, doubts that “a macho guy like you” needs to be worried.  Jake is mucho attuned to Matt’s macho appeal.

The next scene is supposed to be some time later, I guess, because now Dylan is at one of the lounge tables studying or pretending to study or looking at porn that he has discretely hidden in his open textbook.  Enter Deadpool carrying a skateboard.  It seems that at this stage in his career, Ryan Reynolds hadn’t yet mastered the art of dialogue withoot getting uncomfortably winded.  They talk aboot skateboardy things for a few seconds until Brooke inserts herself into the scene and – just in case we hadn’t yet gotten a handle on what Dylan’s all aboot – says, “Well, look at this!  If it isn’t Hillside’s professional rebel, looking like he just fell off the back of a motorcycle”.   A swing and a miss, Brooke.  Brooke says a few more things and saunters off, leaving Dylan to warn young Billy to “be careful” of women like Brooke because “they’re trouble”.  This is to establish at the onset the sort of hip-paternal attitude Dylan takes towards his little protégé.  But this is Deadpool – no slouch even at 13 years of age – and he’s wise to the fact that Dylan secretly has the hots for Brooke.

Now comes Courtney and Ashley’s second attempt to convince us that they’re actually friends who don’t secretly desire to disembowel each other.  It’s slightly more successful than the first attempt.  As Courtney’s funeral home drapes swish around her lower half, she tenders an apology for having been “a real cow” earlier that morning.  They establish that they’re still friends and then keep acting as if they’re painfully uncomfortable in each other’s company.  Finally, Courtney sits down and fills Ashley in on what’s been up her ass all day, while Billy and Dylan look on, oot of earshot.  Billy is eagerly waiting for his sister to open her brown-bagged lunch because he shook up her can of soda earlier and thinks it will be a hoot when she opens it.  Courtney tells Ashley that last night, “after supper”, her mom wanted to have a talk.  Two or three eons pass as Courtney hems and haws and basically says nothing at all, leaving Ashley to whisper-guess what might have happened.  Before Courtney finds her words (a process that always takes longer than most trips to the DMV), she opens the can of Sprite and gets sprayed all over her atrocious old lady dress.  In her frustration, Courtney decides this is a good time to inform her little brother that their parents are breaking up.  We get a dramatic close-up of Courtney’s tortured face as Ashley whispers, “courtney” over dramatic scene-change music.  I don’t think Jean Paul Sartre could have conceived of a more horrifying version of Hell than this fucking school.

Our first exterior shot of The Avalon, arguably the most consistently confusing thing on this show.  It’s on a city street with an el-train above and behind the street, and an ominous building that looks like the Texas Book Depository flanking the strip of businesses.  The only storefront sign that can be made oot says “Chinese Foods”, though we’re never given reason to believe that The Avalon traffics in egg foo young.  Even the traffic patterns on the street ootside the buildings make no sense.

Inside, a chubby kid is serving milkshakes to Brooke and Kelly’s table.  His apron is filthy and stained, as is the disgusting rag slung over his shoulder.  He never speaks.  You will see this guy several more times and he’s always just as unappetizingly filthy.

The seeds of a plot to destroy Ashley are germinating here, but nothing really gets off the ground.  So I’d advise instead that you pay attention to the extras in the background, at the counter, etc.  There’s a cake stand on the counter that is always empty but I guess that’s just as well because everyone at the Avalon who isn’t part of the main cast appears to be mute, so they might not even have mouths.  Often they just sit perfectly still, staring ahead.

Cut to the boys’ locker room and our first unobscured glance at one of Matt’s unholy polo shirts.  Jake is whining to Matt aboot having to do gymnastics until Matt tells him that he likes gymnastics which, of course, shuts Jake right the fuck up.  Then Jake gets to what’s really on his mind – the fact that he saw Brooke talking to Matt earlier.  Jake’s possessive jealousy is so transparent that I’m surprised Matt doesn’t constantly pirouette to ensure he’s not staring at his ass.  Jake is fully dressed but for some reason has a towel draped over his shoulder for this entire scene.  Matt mockingly advises Jake to watch oot for the pummel horse which is “trying to kill him” while grasping his shoulder in a way that must send Jake’s libido into overdrive.  Matt closes his locker, which doesn’t close.  None of the lockers in this school close, but just bounce back open according to the amount of force applied in the attempt to close them.  In other words, the budget didn’t allow for operable cheap metal lockers.  But it allowed for fucking Ryan Reynolds, didn’t it?

Courtney and Deadpool are in the hallway talking aboot their parents.  Courtney tells him that last night, after supper, Mom filled her in on the fact that she and Dad weren’t getting along so well.  We kind of know all this shit already, so the rehashing is superfluous, but there’s one thing to keep in mind for future reference.  More than once, Courtney describes this little talk with Mom as a “family meeting”, even though it involved only her and Mom (“…because I’m older, I guess” – wrong, Courtney).  But of course (and there’s no such thing as a spoiler alert for this show), not getting along eventually progresses to Dad moving oot which finally ends in divorce.  For each of these developments, a family meeting is called.  However, the divorce news was broken only to Billy in an “after supper family meeting”.  So sometimes, these psychopathic parents tell one child major bad news and sometimes they tell the other, but never both.  I guess they think breaking “tragic” news to a sibling puts hair on yer chest.  We never meet their parents (or ANY adults, for that matter, for the entire 65 episode run) but one thing is for certain: Canada’s version of DYFS needs to pay a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, stat.

Holy Mother of God, there are still over 9 minutes left in this episode.  What the hell did I get myself into?

As Courtney walks away from Billy, she is blitzkrieged by Brooke and Kelly who are coming down the stairs, ostensibly sympathizing but clearly delighted aboot her family troubles.  No matter how shitty Brooke is to her, Courtney clearly admires her and wishes that she was Brooke instead of Courtney, which I guess is understandable, but no less pathetic to watch.

Back at The Avalon, the disgusting chubby pig of a waiter is delivering a round of sodas to Ashley, Matt and Jake.  These three are seriously sitting at a booth, idly swirling their sodas with a straw, discussing the possible divorce of Courtney’s parents.  The melodrama is so thick you could cut it with a hockey stick, especially that which silently tiptoes its way oot of Ashley’s mouth.  Courtney enters and approaches the table and everyone, of course, falls silent.  The rest of this scene makes me want to pluck oot both of my eyes with a salad fork.  The gang extends condolences to a surprisingly upbeat Courtney and when she informs them that she’s doing okay, they refuse to accept that, especially Ashley, who clearly hates it when people are doing okay.  She even whispers, no shit, “it’s a long way from being okay”.

Back at Hillside, Billy’s sitting on the steps when Dylan descends and tenders a heartfelt “bummer” aboot the situation with his parents.  They decide to go skateboarding.  They could have just as easily inserted a commercial break right here and no one would have been the wiser.

Now we’re in the back pinball room of The Avalon and Matt is holding court at the Atila The Hun machine.  The flippers are moving and a ball is actually in play.  We will see Matt, among others, “playing” pinball at this machine many more times, but this is the first and last time that it actually seems to be operational.  Ashley’s pink denim whispers ‘round the corner like an autumn breeze in Ottawa and she asks Matt how he’s doing.  This scene takes far too long just to essentially establish that Ashley is a fucking dork that belongs to every school club there is and because of this, she and Matt don’t see each other as much as they’d like.  Matt asks her to the mall.  Ashley demurs and says she has to go home and study.  Of course.  Fucking pink denim dork.  They kiss lightly and I throw up in my mouth a little, as does Brooke who is eavesdropping with Kelly at a booth just ootside the pinball room.  Brooke sets a timeline for the destruction of their relationship: next Friday.

Next scene, we’re still at The Avalon, but it must be again as opposed to still because Jake is retrieving two sodas from the chubby pig behind the counter and bringing them to the table where he’s sitting with Courtney.  Remember when I told you to pay attention to the people at the counter in the background?  Right now, it’s the same two people wearing the same ootfits sitting on the same stools as THREE AVALON SCENES AGO.  I don’t understand the way the space-time continuum plays oot in Vancouver, I guess.  Jake and Courtney are discussing weekend plans.  Jake hasn’t heard of any “wild parties” going on, so he predicts that he’ll stay at home “watching reruns on TV”.  Notice how the writers couldn’t even think of an easy pop-culture reference to shoehorn into this chat: the best they could come up with was “reruns on TV”. This is the first time we are made aware of Jake’s fatal Courtney crush, but I think it comes too quickly on the heels of his barely concealed advances toward Matt.  Jake asks Courtney oot – to a movie or something – or at least thinks he does.  Miraculously, she seems to accept until she follows with “we’ll get a whole group of people together and have a really good time”.  DENIED, JAKE!!  This clearly isn’t what Jake had in mind and his awkwardness upon hearing it is Oscar-worthy, but short-lived.  Courtney must hear the scene-change music starting up because she suddenly looks Jake in the eye and says, “Oh, Jake.  They’re my parents.  My mom and dad.  If they break up…what am I gonna do?”  They stare at each other for a painfully long moment as the scene stubbornly refuses to end no matter what the background music indicates.

But this time, it’s not a scene change, but clips from next week’s episode, and now I understand why they dragged oot that interminable staring moment for as long as they did.  Dramatic effect, pure and simple.  The first rule of an effective teen soap, of course, is this: Always leave ‘em wanting to hang themselves from the shower rod with a towel.