McGee and Me, Episode 4: Twister and Shout

The bible verse of the day is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

During the psalm reading, we get to watch McGee. First he goes fishing by a nice stream with green grass. Then he gets pulled into the water by a tiger shark, which is depicted as an orange shark with black stripes. Sigh. As someone who occasionally dabbles in elasmobranchology, (YES WordPress that IS a word) this kind of makes me cringe.

And for the record, I was rooting for the shark because McGee annoys me greatly.  Anyway, McGee  God defeats the shark, and then God prepares a banquet for McGee in the presence of the shark, who is in a fish tank with a bandaid. Poor shark. It is way too big for that tiny little fishbowl. Somebody should report him to The Society for the Protection of Pet Sharks. Or something.

Nick opens the episode by saying that something weird must happen to you once you turn 14.

Well, yeah, dude, it’s called HORMONES.

The episode, however, does not agree with me.

Nick’s older sister Sarah turned 14 recently and she’s been acting weird. Not, Nick assures us, that she was ever normal to begin with. Right as he says this, Sarah throws what looks like a grape into the air and tries to catch it in her mouth, then laughs and shakes her head when she misses.

Apparently Louis is spending the weekend at Nick’s house, and Sarah is babysitting. Oh, and she’s babysitting this other little kid, whatshername. Because the small child who played Jamie was sick that day, so they needed another little girl. Actually I don’t really know that, but neither she nor grandma are in this episode. The official in movie explanation is that grandma and Jamie have gone to visit relatives. I think this is a way to get rid of grandma, because it lessens the tension if there’s an actual adult in the house. As for the kid change, I’m going to assume it’s to shoehorn in some preaching later, setting up a possible conversion scene for future episodes.

Nick and Sarah’s mom and dad are giving her last minute instructions, as they are going out to the press club awards and won’t be back till later that night. Mom and dad’s friend whatshername (No, we never do get a name for her) drops off her little girl: Renee.

Nick’s mom is wearing the UGLIEST dress. I think I saw this exact dress on a doll once, and I had to take a seam ripper to it to make it even semi acceptable.

Even for the 1990s this was bad!

Mom keeps telling Sarah the emergency numbers are on the refrigerator, but we get a clear shot of it in the background, and there is NOTHING on that refrigerator. Which is odd, because Nickolas is always drawing, and you’d think his parents would have the darn thing covered in drawings by now.

Anyway, Sarah says it’s no big deal to watch Renee, because “what’s one more munchkin.”

After more worrying and fretting, and McGee yelling at her to take the dog out –for good (It’s the dog’s house McGee, you don’t like it, you move out.) the parents leave, and Sarah sets the ground rules.

1. Don’t bother me

hmmm. I like this rule.

2. Stay off the phone

If she wants to keep the line open in case mom and dad call, that makes sense. It’s never explained, though, leaving it open to interpretation as to whether or not Sarah is being selfish.

3. I’m not going to spend all night playing referee, so try and act a little more mature than usual.

Reasonable, but I think she could phrase it better.

4. Basically, do whatever I say, whenever I say it.

Yeah, even  I would hate her for that one.

The next scene shows Louis and Nick chasing Sarah and Renee around the kitchen, to “teach Sarah a little respect.” They then set a fake mouse on the girls that makes them scream.

Next we are shown Mom and dad at the press club awards, where everyone congratulates them and Nick’s dad is fake humble about the acceptance speech that he’s been practicing in the shower.

I’ve heard of shower singers, but shower speeches? is that a thing?

Nick’s mom says she brought an umbrella because it looked like rain, which is our cue to tune back in to Sarah and Renee getting their revenge on Nickolas and Louis by putting a bucket of water above the door which dumps on them when they open it. Sarah then declares a truce, because they’re all even. She declares an end to the practical jokes.

Nick complains about Sarah having declared a truce only after she’d won. Really Nickolas, really? You totally got her twice, and when she decides to only get back at you ONCE and declare herself done, you have the nerve to complain?

He throws a fit, saying Sarah can’t just say it’s over and have it mean it’s over. Which, yes she can, she is in charge, and really, someone needs to put a stop this before someone gets really hurt, or the house gets destroyed. Or both.

Nick: “I’m not just some little kid you can boss around!”

Sarah: “Yes you are,”

Which, as everyone knows, is the worst response ever.

I’m going to pause here to note that Sarah and Nick are brother and sister in real life, so I have to wonder how much of this sibling rivalry is actually acting.

Nick: I’m 11 years old!

Sarah: I’m sure that seems old to you, but to the rest of the world, you’re still a kid.

Nick: Oh like 14 makes you an adult!

Well, actually Nick, in some cultures….

Let’s not get into that.

It’s raining. Nick and McGee are plotting revenge. I don’t care. And not just because it’s not the main plot point of the episode, it’s because I don’t care that Nick is sulking.

Nick gets scared by the lightening and thunder and goes downstairs “In case anyone else is scared” and is disappointed when they’re not. Sarah asks what his “major malfunction” is.

We’re not supposed to like Sarah in this episode, and yeah she is being kinda rude, but I don’t blame her for not being so friendly toward Nick after he sprayed her with silly string and scared her with a robotic mouse thing, then got all upset when she tried to end the war before it got out of hand. When Nick approached suddenly, she probably thought he was coming at her with water balloons or something.

The parents, back at the award ceremony, are trying to call the kids because they’re worried. They’re not getting through because Nick is calling “every 2 seconds” trying to win concert tickets. Poor Sarah, not very good at enforcing the rules, is she?

Just then the TV comes on with a notice that a tornado is extremely likely to form. And I immediately have flashbacks to every single campmeeting I ever went to.

Sarah, Louis and Renee look worried. Sarah changes the channel.

McGee goes into an animation of him being chased by a tornado with teeth. I wish it had gotten him.

You know, I really don’t understand the point of McGee in this episode. He has nothing to do with anything related to the plot, is absent for large portions of the episode, and when he does show up, it’s to make Wizard of Oz jokes that are completely unrelated to anything else.

Get it? Wizard of Oz? Because Tornado? Get it?

We cut to Nick’s parents, where we learn that the phone is dead. I’m not sure if Nick’s dad means the phone on their end is dead, or their house phone is dead.

A woman comes rushing up to them, exclaiming, “this storm has caught everyone by surprise! The power is down and the lights are out all over.”

This despite the fact that the lights right next to her are on. So “all over” apparently means, “everywhere but here.” Her dress is much nicer than Nick’s mom’s. It actually looks like a nice dress you’d wear someplace not a funeral home. Anyway, Red Dress informs mom and dad that a tornado has been spotted near their house.

The parents are freaking the ever loving fuck out because they can’t get a message to them. Oh noes!!! the kids will not know what to dooooooooo.

Sarah is 14. She’s young, but she’s not stupid. I’m not entirely sure what state this takes place in, but, having lived my whole life in a state not exactly known for being tornado alley, even I know to

1. Go to the basement

2. Or a room without windows

3. For the love of GOD stay away from the windows

4. Try not to touch anything that could conduct lightening

5. Do not go outside to watch the tornado.

 

Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah

6. Pray. It won’t actually help anything, but it’ll make you feel better and give you something to concentrate on.

Sarah’s parents would have told her this, and, while they’d still worry, they’d know she was smart enough to remember what they told her to do in case of tornado.
Nick’s dad declares that all they can do is pray that their children will be alright. He hugs Nick’s Mom. Red dress comes up to them and says, “that’s something I haven’t done in a while.”

She’s referring to the praying, I think, not the hugging. Although given that we later find out she’s divorced, I could be wrong.

This is their cue to switch back to Sarah and co, who are laughing in front of the TV, minus Nick, who is presumably still trying to win concert tickets. Or plot his revenge. Or sneak ice cream out of the freezer when Sarah’s otherwise occupied.

An alert comes on TV (Remember when TV just interrupted your shows with severe weather alerts? Ah, the good old days.) that a tornado has been spotted in the area.

Sarah’s response to this is the same as it was last time: she changes the channel. Does… does she think that will solve the problem? Do the directors of this film know how real humans behave?

Renee asks if they should all move to the basement. Nick says that would be a great idea –if it wasn’t flooded.

Everyone starts shooting out ideas of what they’re supposed to do. These include:

  1. Hide in a ditch somewhere
  2. Gather in the center of the house
  3. Open a window
  4. open a door
  5. open 2 windows, one on each side of the house.
  6. open the refrigerator, so I can put the ice cream away

Option 4 makes the most sense to me*,but they all end up going for option 5. Wait a second, how long have they been watching TV? Why has the ice cream been out of the freezer this long? If my ice cream is melted and refrozen, there’s gonna be trouble.

Renee, who is rocking that side pony tail (oh 90s fashion, you kill me every time) asks if they are in trouble. Nick starts to tell her that they’ll be fine, when suddenly the TV signal gets cut off. Sarah decides to call her parents, which she probably should’ve done a longass time ago when the first alert came on. Anyway, there are still no numbers on that refrigerator, and the phone’s dead.

Sarah tells them all to relax, so of course that’s when the movie decides the power goes out. It’s also the moment my cat decided to attack my chocolate. I may or may not have jumped a little. Bad cat.

Nick lights some candles, and prays (out loud) that the Lord will help him to trust Him and not be afraid.

Yeah, no, at this point in the sequence of events, I was usually praying something like, “DEAR GOD! PLEASE! DON’T LET ME DIE! I wanna LIVE to see adulthood!”

I always found it weird when people prayed out loud in movies. Prayer is kind of a personal thing, and it’s weird to feel like I’m intruding.

Nick brings over the candles, and tells Sarah to go get dad’s camping lantern, and he’ll get the flashlights. They light the lanterns at the same time as the candles, which seems like a bit of a waste to me. They should use one till it runs out and save the other, rather than running the battery and the wax all down at once. But hey, what do I know.

Buckle up, because we’re getting ready for a lot of heavy handed preaching.

Sarah: Dad says God is bigger than our fears

Nick: that’s right, at least we know that god is with us

Louis: yeah….

Sarah: You don’t believe in God Louis?

Louis: I don’t know… I guess.

We have finally figured out what Louis is doing in this episode: Sarah and Nickolas needed someone to preach to, because staring at the camera spouting off religious “wisdom” just looks weird.

Sarah tells the little group a story about the old house they used to live in, that had a big heating grate, and whenever it came on it used to creak and scare her. She’d lie in bed imagining someone was creeping down the hallway. But of course, there was no one there, it was just her imagination.

Come to think of it, she never heard the vent when dad was home, and neither did Nickolas. (No, the mom is not mentioned in this conversation.)

Renee says she didn’t notice her house creaking till her parents got divorced. (Because there is no longer a penis bearer in the house.)

This… is clunky. Nick and Sarah mentioning them not hearing the vent when dad (not mom!) was home is clumsily tacked on to the dialog. I’m guessing it was added to the script because it was a way for them to inform the audience that Red Dress is a divorcee.

Hmm divorced parents in a TV show made by Focus on the Family. They’re probably not Christians. And because they’re not, it’s not a huge leap for me to assume that Renee’s probably not a Christian either. At least, I assume that that is what the writers of this TV show want me to assume, because that’s how logic in these TV shows work.

Sarah continues her sermon.

Look, I know that the storm outside is real, but maybe the real reason we’re so scared is because we think we’re alone. But we’re not, we have GAWD.

Renee: So, what you’re saying is, God is watching over us right now?

At which point I facepalm because every small child in America knows that God is (supposedly) watching over us all the time. At least, my non Christian neighbor kids all knew that.

Sad violin music is playing. I vomit a little in my mouth. Louis says something random about tornadoes doing weird things, and Nickolas continues preaching:

Nick: we just have to have faith that God will give us the strength to make it through.

Louis: you know I’ve never really thought about it much, but you’ve got a point

I am rescued from having to hear the rest of this conversation by a tree branch coming in uninvited through the window.

The tree is my favorite character in this episode.

Jee, I’m really glad that scary music is there to remind me that this a scary moment. I wouldn’t have known otherwise why Sarah was grabbing Renee in a hug and hiding behind the couch.

Nicholas says he’ll get the branch out, and tells Louis to go get some cardboard so they can patch it up.

Um, shouldn’t he be  staying away from the windows? What if another tree branch comes through while you’re clearing away that one? Shouldn’t you find a windowless room to vacate to now that it’s clear you need to stay away from the windows? The gang should all relocate to the bathroom, though in fairness to the writers they probably don’t have the budget to build a new set.

Nick starts bossing people around. Renee should get a bucket to put under the leak, while Sarah should sweep up the broken glass and I have to type one handed because her majesty insists I pet her.

Music plays as the children clean up the mess. There’s a 2 minute montage (exactly 2 minutes, I counted) of the siblings and friends working together and getting along. It’s kinda boring.

They get out their sleeping bags and set up in the living room.

McGee, whose absence I have not been missing, comes up to Nicholas and says, “ya did good, kid.”

“Thanks McGee,” Nicholas says before turning off the light. Music continues.

Nick and Sarah’s TV parents are back, they were so worried, bla bla bla. Nick shows how he repaired the window, and instead of chastising him (what the heck were you thinking repairing the window before the storm was over?!) He says, “good job son.”

Red Dress is apparently Renee’s mother, which I missed on my first 3 watch throughs. Renee said earlier that her parents are divorced, so if Red Dress is her mother, that would explain why Red Dress hasn’t prayed in a long time.

I like this. For a Christian movie, this is subtle. Red Dress doesn’t give a small speech at the banquet about why she hasn’t prayed in a long time, and Renee doesn’t belabor the point about her parents being divorced causing her to have issues with Jesus**. There is no conversion scene for either of them. We are simply given the two statements and trusted to put them together. For Focus on the Family, that’s well done.

The scene changes. It’s the one we’ve all known was coming and I’ve been dreading. Sarah knocks on Nicholas’ door and they have a talk. It is exactly as painful as it sounds. Sarah apologizes for treating him like she did, and he really came through last night. Because 14 year old Sarah, who has shown herself to be a pretty capable person in the beginning of the episode,  was really scared and didn’t know what she’d have done without him.

Look, I get that the writers were going for a “Nick isn’t such a bad little brother after all, he’s great to have around in a crisis” scene. But they could have done that without making Sarah seem like a scared, incompetent little girl.

I get that they probably thought Sarah was too proud and needed to be taken down a few notches… and sure, she could’ve been less mean at the start of the episode, but really, we could have had her realize that Nicholas was just as capable as she was without making her seem incapable. We don’t need to bring Sarah down to build Nicholas up.

We still could’ve had the “guess you’re not such a little kid after all,” scene without all that nonsense.

The adult part of me is screaming that 11 is still “little kid” territory. Of course so is 14, but there’s a lot of difference between 11 and 14, particularly across genders.

We get a shot of McGee sweeping by the broken window, saying, “there’s no place like home.” (Get it everyone? Get it? Wizard of Oz? Tornado? Get it? GET IT!!!!!!) Mercifully, he falls off the ledge before he can get too annoying.

The episode ends by Nicholas breaking the 4th wall. He talks about all his blessings: he lives in a house, has a mom and dad, etc. When things like the storm come along, Nick realizes he takes all these things (and god!***) for granted.

The episode ends with him running after Sarah with a water balloon, because, “I owe her one.”

Um, actually, I counted, and she owes you two. But whatever. I’m assuming they shut the camera off before Poor Sarah actually got soaked. Then again, these two are siblings in real life, so, Nick probably threw the balloon at her anyway after the director said cut.

 

*I actually have no idea, I’m just guessing you’d want some kind of cross breeze so the high winds didn’t break the window.

**Because in movies like this, having divorced parents always causes the child to have issues with Jesus.

***No really God is just kind of stuck in there like an afterthought

 

 

 

 

 

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