McGee and Me Episode 7: Do The Bright Thing

Today’s Scripture reading is brought to you by–

Nope, that’s not how this episode starts. Unusually, The episode opens on McGee cutting the film of the intro credits with scissors, saying:

Ok ok, that’s enough of that. We’re about to go on an adventure you’ll never forget. The Glamor boys from Hollweird are just holding things up.

Hollyweird? Really? Sigh.

First, McGee tells us, he has to change into a costume.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go into one of the most mysterious and exciting places anyone has ever known?

Why, yes, actually, I’ve spent hours daydreaming about what it would be like to go to Hogwarts.

After a costume change, a monkey appears. Oops, McGee says. Wrong outfit. He puts this one on, stating that this is “much better.”

 

In any case, we’re not going to Hogwarts today (I’m not even 100% sure the first Harry Potter book had been written at this point anyway), but rather, the mind of an 11 year old boy, Nicholas. We’re going to see how he makes little decisions.

Which would be pretty interesting. I find child psychology fascinating. Unfortunately, this show is produced by Focus on the Family, and I’m pretty sure they don’t even believe in child psychology. At least, not any form of it that would be recognized by actual experts in the field.

McGee tells us to remember to keep the owner’s manual handy, by the which he means the bible. He reads today’s scripture reading: Psalm 119:66

Now teach me good judgement, as well as knowledge, for your laws are my guide.

McGee is tolerable in this sequence, but his accent is godawful. He sounds like… I don’t know… like a New York taxi driver on helium. Or at least, what someone thinks a New York taxi driver on helium sounds like.

We get more credits, set to rodeo music. Nicholas and Louis come out of nick’s house, and the godawful noise music stops playing. Louis says he can’t believe that Nicholas is going to use the $150 he’s saved up (a large sum for a kid today, but back then that was even more huge) on a drawing table. Louis thinks a new bike would be a better idea.

Much as I support Nicholas buying quality supplies for his art hobby, I’m inclined to agree with Louis. That bike looks like Nick’s going to outgrow it at any minute. That’s not Louis’ point though. Louis thinks it’s just not cool enough. He bets Nick can’t do a wheelie.

McGee voices over to tell us that this is an example of how little decisions can impact us. He says we’re going to take a look at what’s going on inside Nick’s head. instead of showing us a bunch of synapses firing, we get this:

 

I guess we’re not doing anything too horribly scientific.

Props to the show, I guess, for trying something new, but, spoiler alert, this doesn’t work.

Anyway, McGee approaches the computer and says the question is:

“Bet you can’t do a wheely.”

That’s not a question, that’s a dare!

Nick’s voice-over goes over his options.

Option A: Can I do it?

Option B: Will I break my neck?

Oh my god. It’s a fucking wheelie. *I* can do a small one, and I’m like, terrible at biking. Nick is a pussy.

Option C: What will Louis say if I don’t try?

Option D: I thought McGee made all the crummy suggestions?

And I’m just picturing Nick standing there thinking all this, blank eyed, while Louis looks on like, “dude, you ok? Hello? Nicholas? Nicholas?”

Nicholas tries to do a wheelie, and falls backward off his bike into the leaves. He lands on his back, with the bike on top of him.

Louis runs over.

“Dude, are you ok? Oh no, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have said that if I’d known you’d hurt yourself!”

Just kidding. He doesn’t say that. He doesn’t even act concerned.

What Louis really says is:

“Look, forget the drawing table. Let’s go shopping for a pair of crutches.”

Nick finds this about as funny as I do (I don’t), and gets up.

McGee’s conclusion is that showing off can be hazardous to your health. Yawn. I’m bored. How long is this episode?

We next see Nick and Louis at the art store, where Nick wants to look at drawing tables. Unlike Louis, I actually think investing in quality equipment for one’s hobby is a wise way to spend one’s money.

The salesman makes a few unfunny jokes. Louis rolls his eyes. The Salesman asks Nick what his parents think about him spending all this money on a drawing table. He tells nick that this is the last drawing table of that kind in stock, so he should probably go talk to his parents soon.

As they leave the store, Louis tells Nick that he should blow off some steam by playing video games. Which, to be fair, is not going to solve Nick’s problem but might be an adequate way of dealing with his frustration.

McGee punches some buttons on his computer, and Nick goes over his options.

Nick wonders if playing video games is good for him. I roll my eyes. Nick remembers that his mom wants him home by noon, and this is a truly creepy picture:

Cool watch though.

I can’t tell, as it’s kind of blurry… does that clock read 9:30? Either way, it’s definitely nowhere near noon. He’s got at least 2 hours.

Nick decides that after an hour in the arcade, he wouldn’t even have the money to buy a pencil. He decides to go home.

I get that drawing pencils are expensive, but you are seriously going to spend $150 in quarters in an arcade in an hour? That would take some true talent.

More annoying music, another McGee voiceover. This is boring. What am I supposed to be learning from all this? There’s no science here, just some whiny pre-teen angst that most of us are way too familiar with.

We cut to a scene where Nick asks his mom when he can talk to her and dad about the drawing table, as he has to make his decision by Monday. His mom asks about his book report. Nick tells her he’ll finish it on Sunday after the Science Fiction show, but Nick’s mom says he probably won’t have time because of church. She thinks he should skip the movies and do his book report. Nick races upstairs to finish his book report right now, and Nick’s mom grins. We can tell she was manipulating for him to do just that.

Nicholas picks up the book, then groans when he finds he still has 2 more chapters to read. Depending on the size of the print, that is not that much. There aren’t that many pages after the bookmark. If he speed reads, he can get it read in an hour.

Nick wonders if he could get away with reading the last couple of pages. Yes, yes he can, depending on how thorough of an analysis his teacher wants. I’ve BSed my way through college papers on a book I couldn’t afford to buy, but that I found the the first three chapters of online. I got an A on my paper.

Looking back, I do wish I’d have just bought and read the book, as it was a very good one and I would have learned a lot. College finances, however… in any case, a little alarm goes off in McGee’s computer room, because apparently, reading all but the last 2 chapters plus some pages at the end is somehow cheating. I don’t see why, he’s not likely to miss anything important, and he did read 97% or so of the book ,so he still read it. It’s not like he just watched the movie and thought he could get away with that.

As Nick ponders his decision, he thinks about the Sunday matinee. We see Nick sitting in front of the TV as the set announces that they are playing, “Lawanda, Queen of Venus. Starring Snooks Wheelor.” And at this point I am wishing Youtube had reliable subtitles because I am not sure I’m hearing this right at all. In any case, Nick gives us this weird look, and I can’t help but wonder why. It sounds like a show I’d watch. How would a society on Venus work? What kind of beings could live in an atmosphere like that? Would they be like us, having to live in bubbles, or would they have evolved to adapt would God have created them to live and thrive in those poison gasses?

Clearly I am thinking about this way more than the writers have.

Anyway, Nicholas gives us this look: Clearly he doesn’t think much of my musings on Venutians and Venutian society.

Nick has no taste. But then, this is the same child who wanted to watch Night of the Blood Freaks back in episode 3, so, what was I expecting.

McGee and Nick ask the wise guy, and we cut to a shot of Derek, who is as confused as I am. McGee says,

No no, not the wise guy, the wise man.

We cut to an image of a guy in an obviously fake beard with a very big book that is supposed to be an old fashioned looking copy of the bible, who spouts off a bible verse about honoring your parents and being honest.

Yanno, this whole religion thing is seeming more and more like a mind trick tool adults use to get children to listen to them. I mean I knew that before, but I tried not to think about it. Now I do.

Nick decides he wanted to read the whole book anyway, and the bibliophile in me wants to know what book it is he’s reading. There’s no title on the cover.

We cut to a scene where Nick talks to his parents, who want to know what’s wrong with his old art table. Nick says his old art table is old, and he’s had it since he was a kid. Great argument there, Nick. You know, he could make the argument that the new art table has many features his old one doesn’t that would be super helpful, and that he could give his old art table to his little sister, Jamie, who is also absent from this episode.

You get the feeling the writers regret giving Nick a little sister at all, at this point. She’s not in many episodes, because she’s not really necessary. We don’t really have enough time in these episodes for the character development of her and Sarah and their parents and Nick and their grandma, who is also absent from this episode. We’ve had exactly one episode so far where she was relevant to the plot, and we’re almost done with the series.

Nick’s parents come to the wise conclusion that if Nick saved his money, and wants it, he’s earned it, and he should spend the money. Nick confesses that he still isn’t sure if he should get it or not, and I’m banging my head against the wall because I don’t get why this is a big deal? Yes, it’s a lot of money, but it’s an investment.

Nick’s parents tell him he’s obviously thought about it very hard, and the only thing left to do is pray about it. (Mercifully the writers do not show us Nick praying. Thank diety for small favors.) His mom says that this is Nick’s decision, and it’s like, the first time in this series I’ve agreed with his parents. They’re there to offer helpful advice, but in the end, Nick has to make his own choices.

We cut to a scene in school Where Derek is hard at work on homework, and Renee tries to show him something. Derek snaps at her to leave him alone, which, duh, he’s clearly working on something important. Renee is looking at Nick’s drawing of McGee, and I don’t blame Derek for not wanting to see it. Renee asks Nick why he isn’t as funny as McGee.

Because McGee’s not funny, that’s why.

Anyway, Nick gets a dismayed look on his face, and wonders if he’d be more popular if he acted like McGee.

Answer: Yes. He’d be the laughingstock of the school.

Oh God….

This must have been incredibly embarrassing to film. Anyway, all the students laugh at him.

He gives his book report McGee style, with the class staring at him with mouths open so wide they’re going to catch flies. Nick states that one of the characters in the book is Long John Silver and, after filtering out all the restaurant results, Google tells me that the book he read was Treasure Island. I’ve been wanting to read that book myself, actually. I started reading it when I was 11, but I never finished it. No idea why. I should pick it up again.

In any case, Derek rolls his eyes and goes back to writing. Oh, 1980s. The days when book reports weren’t required to be typed up and you could finish your report in the middle of class when you thought the teacher wasn’t looking! I wanna hear Derek’s book report. He’d be way more interesting.

Anyway, it turns out that all of this was, mercifully, in Nicholas’ imagination. Nicholas says,

“Boy McGee, I don’t know how you get away with it.”

Uh, by not being real?

Oh wonderful. Here comes the musical montage. Nick, his mother, and Louis all drive to the art store in the car. I put the computer on silent and listen to Stronger Woman by Jewel instead. It doesn’t fit the scene, but it’s at least a decent song. Then we get footage of Nick longingly stroking the art table, then playing hide and seek with it.

Then we see the register drawer open and shut, shut and open, open and shut. We see the scene of Nick and his mother and Louis driving to the store in reverse, played backwards. Somebody obviously thought they were doing something cool. They weren’t. This is annoying, and so is the music.

This is probably supposed to create suspense: It doesn’t.

Nick gets a new sketchpad instead. When Sarah asks, he tells her he’s not ready for something so “fancy” and “it’s just not me.”

Having quality art supplies isn’t for him! Wow, what a humble guy! Not!

Nick goes on to say that it doesn’t seem right for him to spend all that money on himself. He’s going to use some of the money to help someone else and the rest to buy a new bike.

Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk.

So, what we have learned from this episode so far:

  1. It’s wrong to spend so much money on quality tools to support your hobbies
  2. It’s wrong to spend a lot of money on yourself
  3. Being able to do wheelies on a bike when I don’t particularly care to do them unless Louis is watching is more important than investing in a hobby which is clearly more important to me.

Jeez, no wonder I feel guilty any time I spend money on myself and my hobbies! What fucked up messages I received about this in childhood!

Anyway, Sarah tries to persuade Nick to use the money he’s saved up to help her buy a car, promising to share it once he gets his learners permit. Nick and Sarah’s parents laugh, and Nick’s dad wishes he could be a kid again.

We cut to a shot of McGee buried underneath computer printouts, He whines about how the credits are about to start, which is, of course, the cue for the credits to start.

 

Oh my god… this was the most boring episode of this show ever. It felt like it was a lot shorter than the other episodes, but I wonder if that’s just because I skimmed over the parts where nothing happened. And it contained a metric fuckton of McGee, which, alone, is going to make the episode worse.

We didn’t gain any insight into how an 11 year old boy makes decisions, either. This shit is the same stuff we’ve seen in other episodes, only in more interesting ways. It’s way more interesting watching  Nick talk stuff out with his friends or McGee than watching McGee sit in front of a computer “analyzing the data.”

The entire plot basically centered around one thing: Does Nick buy a new drawing table or not? Along the way he makes other minor decisions that are analyzed to death in the most boring way possible. These little decisions could have been cut, leaving room for something, anything that would have been more interesting. A side plot involving Jamie being jealous of Nick’s ability to draw? A side plot about Sarah saving up money to buy a car? A side plot wherein we watch paint dry?

Aside from being boring, having fucked up messages about how you should spend your money, and too much McGee, this episode is… nope, still terrible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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