McGee and Me: Back to the Drawing Board

In Which Nick and Todd Compete in an Art Contest

(And Wikipedia spoils the outcome. Thanks Wikipedia!)

Our Scripture reading for today is James 3:13-18

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

There is a cartoon of McGee cleaning up a cow(I think) for a livestock competition. The guy standing next to him is fat, hairy, and only has 3 fingers. His cow is dirty and misshapen. McGee’s cow, of course, is perfect.  3 Fingers switches their animals when McGee isn’t looking, but loses anyway. He throws a toddler like tantrum.

The whole thing is painful to watch. Even as a child I hated cartoons like this one, where the bad guy is dirty, fat*, and ugly. Even as a small one I knew that ugly comes in pretty packages. This is also biblical: does not Satan Himself appear as an angel of light?

In any case, we open on Nick telling us all that the weather is cold, there’s lots of snow, and schools are closed. Except for his school, of course. Nick is showing is friends a drawing, and they’re all jabbering about how awesome it is.

Seeing as how Nicholas’ drawings have a history of coming to life, I’d be more worried than awe inspired. But probably none of them know about McGee.

I’ll let actual art critics judge the quality of this picture. For someone Nick’s age, it probably is pretty well done.

Derek comes along asks Nick if he’s playing with crayons again.

“Why,” asks Renee, “Are you missing yours?”

Now my comeback here would be, “Yeah, yeah I am. Maybe Nick stole them.”

But of course perfect comebacks never occur to us on the spot, so Derek just goes, “yeah, well, takes one to know one.”

Everybody lets out a loud, “huh?”

I actually think this isn’t terrible. If you can’t come up with a witty comeback, at least confuse the shit out of people.

Just then the teacher walks in the room to introduce a new student, Todd.

Nick sees that Todd has a sketchbook, and scary violin music plays. Like, ok, why would the very presence of a sketchbook scare Nick? Lots of people like to draw, and it doesn’t mean they’re very good at it. Even if Todd is good at drawing (spoiler alert: he is very good at drawing) why is that a threat to you? Are you afraid your audience of ooers and ahhers will no longer fanboy/girl over your drawings? Perhaps they don’t even draw the same type of stuff. Nick is  into cartoons, perhaps Todd is more into realistic drawings of cats?

In any case, I find my eyes rolling at how over the top it all is. Especially when nick says that up till now, this has been a “one sketchpad school.”

Seriously? I grew up in the 1990s. Sketchpads were popular. I have a very hard time believing no one else has one and that no one else is as good as Nick. Nick’s school may be small, but it’s big enough for each grade to have their own classroom, so there must be a fair amount of students.

Mcgee goes to spy on Todd’s drawing. The camera moves up and down making boing! boing! noises, which are probably supposed to indicate that we’re in McGee’s headspace now.

McGee says Todd’s drawing is, “An interesting statement perhaps, but a little too post neo-modern for my taste.”

Nick and I ask, at the same time, out loud, “what the fuck does that mean?” Except Nick doesn’t say “fuck.”

McGee doesn’t know what that means any more than Nick and I do (I bet whoever wrote this episode grabbed a bunch of random art jargon and smashed it all together.)

The bell rings and kids pour out of classrooms. My cat looks confused. that bell is loud.

Nick, Phillip, and nameless extras 2 and 3 ask to see what Todd was drawing. Todd smirks a little before showing them all a drawing of a cartoon robot.

Louis thinks the drawing is cool, and says Nick can draw too, and Nick shows Todd a picture of McGee. Louis even says, “That’s McGee,” So, I guess the kids all know about him? Do they know he comes to life? Has it been established whether or not they can see him?

In any case, Nick shows Todd this:

And I can’t think why. Nick does actually have talent, but this doesn’t show it.

“Cute,” says Todd dismissively, which is probably what I’d say because this, while still probably better than I could do, is truly terrible.

Todd and Nick exchange their drawings.

The scene changes to a shot of the Martin’s house, with snow in front of it. Nick decides to show how easy it is to draw this robot. Spoiler alert, it isn’t.

We cut to a scene where Nick’s mom asks his father to clear off the table.His father insists that he’ll be done with the really complicated puzzle in a minute.

“so, we’re in one of our Cosby moods, are we?” Says Nick’s mom.

Which, with what we now know about Cosby, comes across as way creepier than the writers ever intended.

Sarah walks in and says it’s officially a blizzard since her dad’s got a jigsaw puzzle. He says that everyone who helps gets to sleep inside tonight.

Mom asks Sarah to help out with dinner. Sarah asks Nick to help, and he snaps at her that’s busy and can’t everyone just leave him alone?!

Um, if you wanted to be left alone, why are you in the living room? You have a bedroom with a desk for god’s sake, why aren’t you using it?

Nick storms off, probably to go make use of said bedroom, while Sarah sits with her parents around the kitchen table.

McGee is in their room, practicing the violin. Nick is irritated with this, and McGee tells Nick he’s just jealous because all he can play is the radio.

Playing the radio is my specialty, ok? Unlike Nick, I get to actually listen to real music.

Nick and McGee get into a fight about whether or not Nick is jealous of Todd’s drawing. Nick says he’s never drawn anything like that with “all those angles and stuff. If by “stuff” he means the coloring, I could see it. That shading does look like it would be kind of hard to do. Not sure how angles would play into it?

McGee plays a sad song on the world’s smallest violin while Nick whines angrily for a few minutes about how he doesn’t care about Todd. The boy doth protest too much,methinks.

Even Nick is tired of McGee’s violin music, saying it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to trade him in for a robot. I fully support this decision, but don’t trust the writers not to make a robot just as obnoxious and irrelevant as McGee.

Notice that McGee only seems to exist for Nicholas to talk to. I’d consider McGee a personification of Nick’s subconscious, but then, why can the dog see him?

The next day, Nick is at school and it is still snowing.  Nick’s voice over tells us he may have overreacted a little bit to having another cartoonist around, and that maybe it’ll be a lot of laughs. We cut to a scene where everyone is sitting around Todd, laughing. Todd is saying he’s just goofing off, that this kind of drawing is easy. We get a glimpse of this:

Hang on, Todd’s only seen one McGee picture, and he was shirtless. How does he know what McGee looks like without the boxing gloves? I like this drawing because I hate McGee. However, in the context of the story, this is unnecessarily insulting. Todd has never seen McGee come to life, so he doesn’t know how obnoxious he is. He’s therefore not drawing this picture for the same reasons I would be.

Derek comes up and asks who wants to loan him 50 cents. He compliments Todd on his drawing. He then asks why Nick can’t draw like that, and then leaves, without his 50 cents. I’m not supposed to wonder what he needs 50 cents:eacher tells everyone it’s time to go back to class. She asks if everyone has picked a book for their report. Derek steals a book from Renee’s hands, and goes, “I sure have.”

Renee doesn’t try and stop him from taking it, which should have been his first clue. Mrs. H picks up the book and reads the title.

“‘Pretty and Popular, the modern girl’s guide to good looks.’ Well. I certainly am interested in reading your report on that.”

I’m laughing out loud, because that is actually pretty funny.

I’m going to insert a side note in here about how maybe this is why Derek is so mean all the time. Maybe he has a secret interest in nail polish and dresses that he will never be allowed to express. Back in the 90s when this show was made, being gay was not acceptable, nevermind being transgender.

As Derek randomly stole the book from Renee, we know that this is not the case. But it would be an interesting side story. Such a side story probably wouldn’t have been done in the 1990s even by non homophobic christian media, so I’ll let that pass. For now.

Derek glares at Renee, who grins at him mischievously. Sorry Derek, but you kinda put your foot into that one. Next time, just randomly grab a book off the shelf. You still might have the same results, but at least you won’t look like a dick.

So, credit where credit was due; that was actually funny.

Nick’s teacher comes up to Nick, and tells him there’s some kind of art contest she thinks he might be interested in. The winner gets their drawing printed in the paper.

She also gives a flyer to Todd. Nick decides this is his chance to “put that puffed up Picasso in his place.”

We’re next shown the students in class as the teacher drones on about the artists of the Renaissance period, Nick begins to daydream.

I can tell it’s going to be terrible. It’s basically a medieval competition between Nick and Todd. It’s just as cringeworthy as it sounds, and if I describe it too much I will end up writing pages and pages about how inaccurate it is so we’ll move on. Except to note that Todd displays The Mona Lisa but calls it “The Moaning Lisa,” and I am laughing really really hard because I am 12.

So moving on.

Nick wakes up from his fantasy shouting “I can do better!” And the entire class laughs. Which seems like a non realistic response. I’d personally go for, “staring at him like he’s crazy.”

Back at Nick’s house, it’s still snowing. Nick’s mom, dad, grandma, Sister, and other sister Jamie are sitting around the table working on the puzzle.

Grandma and Jamie are back in this episode. I have no idea why they were absent for 2 whole episodes out of 6.

Nick comes in and says there’s nothing to eat. He sarcastically tells his mother that he could always eat the baking soda. His mom says to go ahead. We’re probably supposed to see her as neglectful in this scene, but Nick is 12. That’s old enough to figure out how to make spaghetti. They’re out of peanut butter, so he can’t make himself a PB&J, but don’t tell me 12 isn’t old enough to figure out how to cook something besides baking soda. No one’s paying attention, so Nick threatens to eat dog food.

“Ok,” [Nick’s mom says.] “And could you please get your junk off the counter?”

Nick throws away his sketch pad and stomps off. Grandma notices, the rest of the family doesn’t.

I’m torn between “it’s nice to see Nick not being a goody two shoes” and “Nick’s being a little shit.” Surely there’s a middle ground between “too good to be realistically human” and “I kind of want to punch this kid?”

Grandma follows Nick with a bowl of kibble, “just the way you like it,” she says. Did she just take that from Whatever? That poor dog! He’s probably following behind her, whining.

Nick tells Grandma what’s wrong. Grandma tells him he’s jealous, and asks if he really thought he was the best artist in the world. I’m with her up until she starts going on about:

Nick, God gave you the ability to draw to honor Him. Not to honor you.

Jee, God’s a dick.

In any case, grandma argues that Nick is only hurting himself by giving up drawing because of Todd, and I wish I’d had someone who cared enough about me to tell me this when I was his age.

Grandma starts talking about a time when she was jealous. It’s a story that doesn’t make much sense to me and I don’t really care. Something about being jealous of missionaries.

She gives him back his sketchbook. So Nick gets right to work –wearing a hole in the living room rug. Pacing back and forth while music plays.

And that is a metric FUCKTON of snow falling outside his window. Is this supposed to be a 4 day blizzard in which they are constantly getting dumped on? If it is, the fact that school is still open is the most realistic part to me. Some schools will remain open in the worst conditions ever.

Finally, Nick starts actually drawing. McGee does some stuff that’s supposed to be funny…. I don’t care.

Finally the musical montage is over and I turn the volume back on.

Nick and Todd turn in their posters. Derek comes up and calls Nick’s poster, “McGeek,” and I find myself liking Derek more and more this episode.

Oh god, more of this godawful music. I wonder if someone actually composed these songs for this show, or if Focus on the Family just picked out the world’s worst contemporary Christian songs every on purpose. And  drew them out for a full 2 minutes longer than necessary! I keep turning on the sound hoping it’s over. It is not over. Except for like, a 30 second interlude where Derek talks, this has been going on for over 2 straight minutes. Gag me.

We then get an incredibly pointless scene of the teacher pinning Nick’s poster up on the wall with the others, grabbing her coat, leaving the room. Then, after staring at the empty room for a few seconds, the light clicks off. We are in darkness for a while, then the light clicks on. Because the musical montage wasn’t pointless enough, I guess we needed more pointless shots to make the episode last a full half hour.

Ok, I’m back. My master came up to me with her toy mouse and told me to throw it for her. She’s so cute.

In any case, sorry about the blurriness, this was the best picture of the posters I could get.

 

We then get a scene where McGee and the Robot come to life and fight each other. In case anyone was wondering, I’m rooting for the robot. Unfortunately, McGee wins.

Back at the ranch Nick’s house, Nick’s family is still trying to put together that puzzle. They’re one piece short, because Whatever decided to use it as a chew toy. Nick and Sarah chase him, and I hope the poor dog doesn’t swallow that puzzle piece. We never get to find out if he’s rescued, because the scene shifts to Nick at school.

The teacher announces the winner and it’s… Derek. Well, I have to admit, I didn’t see that one coming. Wiki spoiled the fact that neither Todd nor Nick win, but Derek? Really? Derek draws?

Also, um, is Derek trolling, or does nobody in this classroom know what this sounds like?

 

All joking aside, I like this. This gives our Standard Bully(tm) some character development, and possibly growth. Derek has hobbies outside of stealing money from Phillip and books from Renee.

McGee comes along, whining about the contest being rigged. I roll my eyes so hard I get a headache. Why is McGee even in this show at all? I get that he’s a title character but he isn’t plot relevant at all, and there’s no reason you couldn’t take any one of Nick’s conversations with McGee and replace McGee with… well, anyone. They could show Nick developing relationships with actual people instead of his imaginary friend. It would be an opportunity to develop some of the other kids’ characters as well. How does Louis react to Nick’s jealousy? Renee? Sarah? Jamie?

Do people actually think McGee is funny? I’m asking honestly here. I don’t actually remember much of McGee as a character when I watched this show. I remember Nick, I remember Sarah, Jamie, and grandma, but I don’t remember McGee.

I’m not sure whether or not that says something about me, or the show. Perhaps a little of both.

 

 

*I do not mean, here, to intend that being fat is ugly or a character flaw. I’m including it here because it is, whether it should be or not, on the list of “stereotypical description of ugly villains.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

McGee and Me Skate Expectations

Today’s scripture reading is from one of the gospels. Insert story of Good Samaritan here. McGee, of course, is playing the Good Samaritan in the cartoon illustration of this. I wish he’d play the victim (all his life) because I hate him. I wrote that paragraph before watching the movie, and don’t need to edit it. That’s how predictable these movies are.

We cut to a scene of Nick in school. It’s almost 3 o’clock, and instead of beginning the end of school procedures like every other elementary school teacher I know, a teacher is droning on about HOMES, that thing that’s supposed to help you remember the great lakes. I’ve never found these memory devices to be particularly helpful, as I can remember HOMES, but not what I’m supposed to be using it to remember. Is it the order of operations?

Anyway, Renee from the last episode is apparently in Nick’s class. Nick looks bored out of his skull, and I can’t say I blame him. Geography’s boring, and he’s desperately hoping the bell rings before he gets called on to name a Great Lake. He just barely makes it, avoiding having to name Lake Michigan.

The teacher gives them a take home geography test, telling them the answers are not all in the textbook so she hopes they  were paying attention. This is hilarious, because even when this was filmed, it was not hard to look shit up. If you couldn’t find it on the internet, we had these things called encyclopedias. 

Nick comes across Phillip being bullied. I get that these kids are supposed to look like they’re robbing him, but they look like they’re trying to pull his pants down. Or get down the front of his pants…. anyway it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to and it’s just bad acting in general. At least, I’m going to assume that bad acting is the cause here….

Nick waits till Derek and his gang leave, then helps Phillip pick up his books. He asks why Derek (the biggest of the bullies, I’m assuming) is picking on him.

Like bullies need a reason to pick on smaller children. But I’ll guess:

  1. Derek wants to feel powerful
  2. Derek is being bullied by someone else and is taking out his aggression buy passing along the torture
  3. Derek hates the look of this kid
  4. Derek hates his high waters (Seriously terrible fashion sense)
  5. Derek is poor, and that is why he is robbing the kid (or, attempting to, kid doesn’t have any money)

Nope. Apparently, Derek is making Phillip give him the answers to the geography test.

“Figures,” Nick says, picking up his skateboard. “Derek probably can’t handle big words like, “Ohio.””

Nick tells Phillip not to give Derek the answers. Phillip says he can’t just not give Derek the answers, but doesn’t say why. Did Derek threaten him? A this point Derek is probably going to keep bullying Phillip regardless, so, unless Derek promised to stop bullying him or threatened him in some way, why can’t Phillip just not give him the answers?

I hope you weren’t curious, because this is never explained. Ever. I thought they were waiting for a more strategic moment to reveal this, but nope.

“You oughta give him all the wrong answers. It’s not like he’s never failed a test before.”

Phillip has this expression on his face the scene fades out:

 

We cut to the next scene, where Nick and Sarah’s mom is totally, despite what she says, guilting Sarah into babysitting so some people can go to a wedding. Like, seriously, weddings are boring, they are not missing anything. Sarah has had miniature golf planned for a while now and has promised everyone else she would go, and that she would help drive them there.

Seriously parents, don’t do this to your oldest child. They have lives too, and if you’re going to guilt trip them into babysitting, for Satan’s sake, at least PAY them for it.

Mrs. Harmon gives he kids back their tests. Nick gets a C-, despite getting extra credit for the map he drew. Mrs. Harmon tells Derek that his test was the most creative she’s ever seen, and makes him read his answers out loud.

What is the state capital of Michigan?

“Motown.” Derek replies seriously.

The rest of the class bursts into laughter.

“Where are the great planes located?”

“The airports.”

Ok, seriously? Derek should have known this answer was a fake. I mean, good god, it’s a geography test, surely he knows that this test is not talking about airplanes. Airplanes are not geographical features. No 10-12 year old is that stupid.

“Derek, you’re only cheating yourself when you turn in a paper like this. I’d like to see you after school.”

Does Mrs. Harmon have to do this in front of his peers? She doesn’t know why Derek did his test like that, and I really think she should be having this conversation with him in private.

Even if she thinks he did it as a big joke, (we know better, but she doesn’t) this is the wrong approach. If Derek did this because he thought it was funny, what did calling him out in public like this earn him? An audience, that’s what. A laughing audience who thought he was funny. The best way to deal with this is to deal with it in private so he doesn’t have an audience who rewards him for such things.

Nick can’t believe Phillip took him seriously. I can’t believe Nick was dumb enough to think Phillip wouldn’t.

The next scene is lunch, wherein Derek’s gang starts bullying Phillip. I’ll spare you details. The other kids look away, and my guess is that they don’t want to be the next victim. Renee whispers to Nick that Phillip is weird.

Part 2 kind of begins in a strange spot. It begins where the story of the Good Samaritan left off earlier, with McGee playing the good Samaritan helped the poor man in the ditch who’d been beaten up.

The Poor Man is too heavy for McGee’s donkey, who refuses to carry him. There’s a small fight over it, with me cheering on the donkey. McGee pricks the donkey a pin, and the donkey gets up and runs. I want to prick McGee in the butt and see how far he’ll run afterwards. There’s more scenes of McGee treating the donkey like crap.

Seriously, this show wouldn’t be half so unwatchable if McGee wasn’t in it.

We cut to a scene of Nick sitting at his desk asking McGee what he should do about “Derek and the Goon Platoon.”

Goon Platoon? Oh my god WHO TALKS LIKE THIS?!

McGee suggests Nick fight Derek. This is actually a better idea than it sounds. Sometimes, the only way to handle a bully is to just punch them in the face. Other things should be tried first, but if you can’t reason with them and you can’t compromise and you just can’t do anything else, turn around and punch them in the nose. I don’t know why it works or how it works, I just know this works.

Nick points out that Derek is twice his size, and anyway, his mom and dad disapprove of fighting. “Hi, my name is Nick, and I parrot my parents’ views on fighting even though I’m 10 or 12 and should have been able to decide whether to accept or reject this for myself by now.”

McGee finally suggests a skateboard competition.

Most of the time, I can really count on McGee–to be wrong. But this time it seemed like he’d really come up with a decent idea.

So Nick challenges Derek to a skateboard race, wherein he makes Derek promise to lay off Phillip if he wins, and if he loses….

Louis tells Nick that Derek won some kind of skateboard race, and that he’s really good. Louis is rocking a baby pink sweatshirt, because real men wear pink.

Nick and McGee have a telepathic argument about whether or not this is such a good idea. Spoiler alert, it’s not, but neither is picking a fist fight with someone bigger than you, so no one’s got any better ideas.

Nick is at home working on his skateboard. Sarah’s friend tells her not to babysit if she doesn’t want to (her mom’s guilt trip is clearly working) and tells Nick he heard about the big race. News travels fast in their tiny town apparently.

Sarah’s friend tells us how awesome Nick is for doing this. Because we can’t trust the audience to just figure it out on our own, we must be bashed over the head with how awesome Nick is for trying to help Phillip.

Sarah gets more guilt about helping people even though it goes out of her way to do so, because the writers told her to guilt herself about it, that’s why. It’s kinda forced into the story.

Phillip gives Nick a shirt for the race that says SKATF on it in pink letters. We get a musical montage of Nick practicing. He’s not very fast, and when he tries to do tricks he falls off his board.

We cut from Nick practicing to Derek practicing. Derek isn’t very good, but at least he can manage to stay on his board without flaffing about, which is more than Nick can say.

The music is terrible, but let that pass. I’m looking at the way they spliced the footage, and I wonder if either of these actors can actually skate. They show shots of Derek’s feet, and when that happens his skating is good. Then they show the top half of Derek turning around looking like he’s skating, without showing his feet. We don’t ever really get a long full body shot of either of these boys doing skateboard tricks, unless it’s of Nick falling off his board. Makes me wonder if one or both of them had stunt doubles.

Derek and his gang run up with skateboards. Here we get a full body shot of Nick actually improving, even though he still wobbles about like and looks like he’s about to fall off his board at any moment.

Derek feels threatened, even though what Nick is barely succeeding with isn’t even half as good as what he can do. Or at least, what closeups of Derek’s feet could do. We never did see a full body shot with him. I know, because I watched this shit on slow motion 3 times.

Derek and his “goon platoon” watching Nick skate. I can’t tell what the actors are trying to portray here. They just look high to me.

Goon1, Derek, Goon2

We get a scene, later that night, where Nick has doubts and is praying about them.

The next day, McGee is at the race to cheer on Nick. He gets bit in the butt by a small dog with a pink bow who I’m going to call Cherie. Go Cherie, get him, get him!

Nick and Derek are off.

Renee runs up to Louis and, overdramatically, asked if he’s noticed that none of Derek’s friends have shown up.

There’s more bad music as Derek and Nick both do some stuff. I know nothing about skateboarding so I’m going to skip most of it. But if Nick was practically falling off his board a day ago, I highly doubt he’s able to ride a pipe now.

Derek and Renee ride around on their bikes looking for Derek’s “goons.”

I played the jump scene in slow motion. It really is Nick skateboarding in that scene. I was unable to get a similar closeup of Derek. The quality isn’t great, so that doesn’t mean much.

I’m also watching this shit on silent because the music is BAD.

Nick takes the lead, and Derek gives a pissed off expression. Which tells us that, rather than pace himself like I’ve heard people do in races, he is legitimately behind. I wish the film makers had left us to wonder about that for a while.

Nick is hogging up the entire sidewalk, making it impossible for Derek to pass him. This isn’t particularly sporting, but of course Nick won’t get called out on this.

But Derek’s friend will get called out on throwing a water balloon at Nick, knocking him off his board. Unfortunately, he doesn’t sustain any serious injuries. He gets back on his board and continues.

Another of Derek’s friends block’s Nick’s paths with trash bags, Nick jumps over them, and continues.

Derek crosses the finish line ahead of Nick, which, to be honest, would have happened without the cheating so I don’t understand what the point of all that was.

I also don’t understand the point of Derek having a skate double back in the middle of the film during the practice montage. We never see either one of the boys attempting to do such tricks in the race, so, why bother to even include them in the montage? All those scenes did was make it harder to suspend my disbelief that Nick could get better than Derek in a day.

Maybe Derek didn’t really have a stunt double, but if he can actually skate, as it appears he can in the race scenes, why cut the footage  in the montage that way? IT MAKES NO SENSE!

Everyone starts cheering for Nick.  The little kids saw Derek’s friends cheat for him, and are not amused. Unfortunately, since this is a kids’ race with no real rules, they’re overruled by the bigger boys and Nick has to be Derek’s slave for a week.

Just kidding.

McGee is still fighting with the dog, who has not managed to kill him. But kudos, Cherie, for making him suffer. Good girl. Here’s a treat.

Phillip thanks Nick, even though I have no idea what he’s thanking Nick for. Because Derek isn’t going to care that he won because he cheated, in his mind, he still won, and Phillip is still fair game. This race solved nothing.

Nick puts his arm around Phillip, who looks up at him with adoring little puppy eyes as they walk home. A godawful pointless scene with makes Phillip look like, well, a silly little puppy dog.

This goes beyond cheesy. This scene is not cheesy but awww inducing. This scene is forced and makes Phillip look pathetic.

When Nick gets home, we get an over the top scene in which Sarah goes to babysit because “It can’t hurt to give a little once in a while, right?” She’s sacrificing her miniature golf so the Robinsons can be bored to tears at a wedding. How generous of her. Her mother’s guilt trip won.

I want to note that we did not see Jamie or Grandma in this scene. They are still missing, and an explanation has not been given.

We end with McGee falling off his skateboard and hurting himself badly. It’s a great ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

McGee and Me, Episode 3: The Not So Great Escape

The Bible verse for the day (in a much looser translation) is: Be ye not conformed to the world, and love not the things that are in the world. We get a cartoon image of McGee running toward fireworks as Nick’s voice over reads that the things of the world are evil and not safe. Also, they’re going to burn in the end, so you shouldn’t get too attached to them, or you’ll burn too.

There’s a small handful of verses that rant about how evil the world is, so I’m not sure which one specifically Nick is reading. He neglects to tell us.

McGee enters a casino, which even secular me thinks is a bad idea because everybody knows the house always wins.

Anyway, it gets weird when McGee eagerly enters a building, which then begins to start spinning really fast, then spits him out. A nearby man calls out “another satisfied customer.”

Sigh. I hardly think this illustrates the meaning of that bible verse. I think a better illustration would’ve been McGee losing all his money to the slot machines. Or, as is my fault, spending all your money on booze and winding up way too drunk.

Cut to Nikolas and Louis playing some kind of game involving an orange helmet and fake gun. They’re pretending to hunt aliens… it’s kinda boring.

Nick’s mother comes out and says to come in, it will be getting dark soon.

Nick(in his head) Getting Dark soon? Does my mom live in an alternate time zone?

And I actually agree, because it looks it like it couldn’t be any later than 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

The 2 boys go into Nick’s room and play around more, when Louis picks up a newspaper (because 12 year old boys totally read the newspaper) and notices an ad for Night of The Blood Freaks, part 4. Which sounds like an absolutely fascinating movie I’d love to watch. In case you didn’t pick up on it, that was sarcasm.

What the hell is a blood freak anyway? I feel like the folks at Focus on The Family just came up with the most gruesome title they could think of and ran with it.

I googled, and 90% of the results when I google “Night of the blood Freaks” are McGee and Me, BUT I did find this http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132888/

There is *A* movie out there called “blood freaks” which was made in 1972. It appears to be about a giant turkey monster, and drugs are involved. I couldn’t really find out more than that and I didn’t care to. It only got 2 stars, and never had a sequel, so It’s up in the air whether or not the writers even knew of its existence.

Louis talks about how great the 3rd movie, Twilight of the Blood Freaks was. I feel like I could make a joke about the Twilight craze but that would require actual creativity on my part. I’ll just say this scene was prophetic, mmkay?

NIckolas, sadly, wasn’t allowed to see it.

I’m honestly not sure I’d let my 11-12 year old see a movie like that either… I’d have to go read the reviews first. And yes, they did have movie reviews in 1980 something. We found them in these things called “newspapers” and “magazines.”

Anyway, either this movie actually is appropriate for the demographic or parents just aren’t looking at what their kids watch, because everyone at school has already seen Dawn of the Blood Freaks, Day of the Blood Freaks, Twilight of the Blood freaks and now, as the shadows fall…. NIGHT of the Blood Freaks!

We are still getting absolutely no explanation of what exactly a blood freak is. Is it like a zombie? A vampire? A Zompire? No really, I feel like this is a very important detail. And last I checked, the parents in the target audience of the movie would’ve clutched their pearls over either of those options.

Nickolas has to ask his parents for permission to see the movie, and his mom says absolutely not. Which makes you wonder about the other parents. Don’t the other kids need their parents permission too? And aren’t other parents concerned? If so, why? If not, why? I feel like there needs to be more explanation.

His mom’s reasoning is “why would you want to see a gross movie like that anyway” which, seriously? He’s 12. 12 year olds, especially males, tend to like gross things and think they’re hilarious. I never understood it, even when I was in that age range, but to each hir own. His mom outright condemning it as “gross” before she even knows what it’s about is only going to make him more defensive, shows that she’s not listening to her child, and doesn’t really care about his personal preferences.

Nickolas’ dad comes in, and I actually think the mom should be saying this because the mom’s reaction is based on emotion (“it’s gross!”) and his dad’s is more logical, and I HATE that trope that “women are emotional and men are logical.” But it is FOTF, so what can you expect.

Nickolas’ dad’s first reaction is to ask what the movie is rated. Nick gets a blank look on his face. His sister, Sarah, tells them the title of the movie. His father then says, “absolutely not!”

We never do get an answer to what the movie is rated, and I feel like that’s very telling. It’s probably like, PG13 or something equally appropriate and Nick’s parents are just overreacting because the title isn’t something they’d pick.

Honestly, they’re only reasons for not letting Nick go seem to be “it’s gross” and “it has a stupid title.” I don’t dispute the last one, but those are not in and of themselves valid reasons. I’d respect it more if they sat down and discussed it with him, but that would mean TALKING to your children, and Dobson can’t have that because his approach is all about punishment.

Nick gets mad, his parents get upset… his parents tell him not to talk like that but honestly all he did was tell his sister to shut up, which was appropriate, she was being a pest. Then he ranted about how he couldn’t do anything and didn’t want to sit around with a bunch of old–

He gets cut off when his dad sends him to his room and grounds him. What? You don’t know that he was going to insult you. Maybe he was going to say “old fashioned.”

And really, there isn’t anything wrong with Nickolas expressing a little frustration here. I know Dobson believes children shouldn’t express their opinions like this, but honestly it’s healthy to let kids let off the pressure valve a little. Let them rant at you a little, and then go talk to them later when they’re calm. I mean, do you remember what it was like to be a kid, how you couldn’t express anything negative or it was disrespect and backtalk and all you wanted was to be heard? All Nick’s doing here is ranting about how he can’t do anything. If it were my kid I’d just kind of let them go on a bit and walk away when I got bored. Then I’d go back and we’d talk about it like 2 rational people. I feel like Nick’s parents are way overreacting here.

Why didn’t we find out what the movie was rated? And what the heck’s a blood freak? Why is McGee alive and how did it happen? Why is no one answering the important question?

Nick goes to his room, and McGee starts talking to him about how he’ll turn out dumb if he watches movies like that all the time. So, all those poor other Junior High students are going to turn into stupid people when they grow up? Uh huh.

McGee, as it turns out, is an (alleged) film critic. We then watch a cartoonized clip of McGee pretending to be a detective. Yawn.

Nick then tells McGee they made a remake of that movie. This clip is just the McGee detective shooting guns and throwing grenades, with no actual plot.

Nickolas has somehow been transported to the theater with McGee, and somehow the smoke from the explosion gets all over them. McGee asks Nick if that was really any fun. Because it’s totally fun to be suddenly covered in gunpowder.

Nope, in the next scene we see Nick in bed, totally clean.

McGee: You wanna watch that filth? Why not just stick your head in a garbage can?

Nick: Because then I’d have to room with you

Sigh. Right. Because watching a bad movie is TOTALLY the same as sticking your head in a garbage can. Totally.

Louis calls up Nick, and asks if he is ready to go. Hang on, I thought phones were a no no when grounded? What does grounded even mean, anyway, besides staying inside your house? The most I ever got grounded for was like, a day. I was totally like Cady’s dad in that movie Mean Girls when Cady goes out and he’s all like, “they can’t do that when they’re grounded?”

In any case, Louis gets the bright idea for Nick to sneak out. Since this is part 3 or 3, I’m guessing it doesn’t happen. Oh movie, please prove me wrong.

Nick rigs up a device to play back recordings if his parents knock. Then he goes downstairs. His mom is in the living room and his sister is on the phone. Nick whispers into a walky talky, which Sarah somehow doesn’t hear, which I don’t find believable because even if she’s on the phone, those 2 are being really really loud.

We get really long footage of Nick crawling around on the kitchen floor which… hang on, his wire recording device was attached to the door from the inside. How’d he get out without setting it off? He really should’ve climbed out a window.

Unfortunately they forgot about Whatever, and Nick almost gets caught. McGee distracts whatever just in time.

They get to the theater, and then they have to figure out how to get in if they’re not old enough. Old enough for what, Night of the Blood Freaks, or the theater itself? So, is this movie R rated, then? Anyway, they get in by pretending the guy in front of them is their dad, which actually works, even though the man does not respond to “dad” when they call out to him. He just walks on by them like he’s never seen them before and I’m all thinking, dude, just be cool about it and help them.

Nick’s mom knocks on his door. He says he’s drawing now, and to come back later.

Meanwhile, at the theater, Nickolas and Louis are wearing their cheasy 1990s 3d glasses with the blue and red plastic lenses eating popcorn. Nick looks scared at the screams emanating from the screen. No, we don’t actually get to see any of it ourselves. Louis also looks like he’s about to vomit, though much less so than Nickolas.

Unfortunately, Nick wasn’t smart enough to record more than one message on the same time, he just has it replaying over and over? Anyway, when he starts sounding like Mickey Mouse on helium, Nick’s mom opens the door and find, surprise, not Nickolas. His mom looks pissed, his big sister Sarah looks happy.

In the theater, Nick isn’t the only kid who looks like he wants to vomit. I get that we’re supposed to think they’re scared here, but those kids look like they have the flu.

Now, really. His parents should’ve just let him have gone to the theater, so that he could see for himself that this was junk. Then he would’ve admitted mom and dad were right (or they may turn out to be wrong, never know) AND no need for any guilt trips about “disobedience.” Or being grounded. Same result, zero trauma.

The movie ends, and Nick takes off his glasses. He shoots Louis an angry look and rubs his eyes. Maybe he’s one of those people who gets a headache during 3d films. There’s a few seconds there where I really think he is going to vomit, but then some cheesy song starts playing about how he thought this would be great but he’s a fool. As far as songs in this series go this one actually doesn’t sound too bad.

Instead of sneaking back in, he walks right in through the front door. Maroon.

The parents sit him down and give him a huge guilt trip about how the movie was dirty and polluted and Jesus wouldn’t want him watching it, because theoretically it pollutes the mind.

So, Nickolas is about 12… I see no reason he can’t make the call about those movies himself, at that age? Oh right, parents need the shelter their children in plastic bubbles till they’re 18 or worse, until they’re married.

His mother then goes on about how he’s got scenes in his mind he’ll never erase. He’ll have them with him for the rest of his life!1!!!111!!!!11!1

Yanno, if the movie hadn’t scared him as much as he did, and if there wasn’t this big to do about all the guilt over it, maybe he WOULD forget them. Heck, maybe he’ll forget them anyway. I used to have nightmares about movies all the time, and except that one VeggieTales episode, I can’t remember scenes from any of them. And I know there was more than one.

I bet if you’d just let Nick make the call himself, he might’ve forgot all about it and went, “huh, that was a really bad movie” and gotten on with his life. Because at the age of 12, that’s about what I did. Especially with movies I wasn’t allowed to watch, some of which, like Harry Potter, were actually excellent movies but that’s another rant for another time.

Also, what kid WANTS to watch a movie wherein a kid’s parents are punishing him? It was just uncomfortable and squirmy to watch when I was a child as it is now that I’m an adult, especially since I think Nick’s parents are sorta being absolute pricks here.

I mean, have his parents ever once given him an explanation for why the movie is wrong? all they will say is that it’s “garbage.” What do they mean by that? Well, they don’t tell us and, honestly, within Christianity, with every denomination of Christianity, there is a huge variance over the definition of “mental garbage.” Half the Adventist church would condemn anything fiction as mental garbage, and the other half embraced science fiction, fantasy and, gasp, romance novels. So the definition of mental garbage, as I was growing up, depended on exactly who you talked to.

I could insert an Ellen White quote about what she said on the subject, but I have a feeling that would qualify as “getting off the subject.”

I hope Nick grows up to become an atheist and later finds all the prequels to Night of the Blood Freaks to see if they were as bad as the one he saw.

Speaking of which, we sat with Nick through that whole movie and never even found out what a blood freak was.

They send him to his room, punishment TBD.

The next day, while doing extra chores, Nick decides his parents are right all along, and that he’s going to be much more careful with what he puts into his mind.

So, does this mean he’s not going to go see Midnight with The Blood Freaks, Part 5 that’s coming out next year? Or with the theme would it be more like Dawn of the Bloodfreaks 2: The Next Day (the story continues!)

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy

I actually wanted to do The Toy That Saved Christmas, since I used to love that movie as a kid, but I can’t justify renting it on Amazon when I just asked J if I could rent The Giver yesterday (spoiler alert: The book is better), Musn’t get greedy, especially since I’m toying with the idea of asking to watch Maze Runner.

So, we’re going to be watching: The Little Drummer boy!

I’ll let you all in on a little secret: I’m a sucker for Christmas. All aspects of it. Sure I don’t believe the bible is real, but I mean, Harry Potter isn’t real either, and I still enjoyed it. The bible does have some good stories, and the story of Jesus’ birth is one of the better ones. I mean, it’s a cool concept: a god sending his son to die for fallen humanity. Of course, you kinda have to squint a little to forget that the person god is saving us from is… himself.

So, before I get started on my usual Christmas rants, I want to make one thing very clear: I love Christmas. I also have no problem with people using the holiday to celebrate Jesus’ birth. What I do have a problem with is… well, actually, let’s not get into that right now. Let’s just let things unfold as they go, shall we?

Good. That little disclaimer out the way, let’s begin.

The scene opens with Pa Grape reading a newspaper while listening to (a secular) Christmas song. Junior Asparagus comes downstairs and starts practicing his drums by banging 2 sticks on the staircase. Mr. And Mrs. Asparagus come downstairs and call out, “ok Pa, we’re all set.”

Hang on, do they call him “Pa” because that is his name/title in the community, or is the grape supposed to be Junior Asparagus’ actual grandfather?

Can Vegetables even intermarry with fruit? How would…. you know what, never mind.

Junior’s dad actually calls Pa grape “Grandpa,” so yes, Pa Grape is Junior’s…

You know what, never mind.

Junior’s parents say they’re thinking of getting him a real drum set for Christmas, because he’s such a natural. Grandpa tells them to get him the kind that don’t make noise, and I decide I like grandpa because oh my GOD I don’t know what I would do if my child look up the drums. Make him go practice in the barn or something.

Junior’s friends come by to pick him up for caroling. Junior is too busy drumming to hear, and they leave. Their opinion of Junior’s drumming is that it sounds like “a really bad kitty.”

Junior is sad his friends “totally ditched me.” Junior insists this is on purpose, even though he KNEW they were coming and should’ve kept his ears open for the doorbell.

Pa Grape decides to read him a story to keep him occupied. I hate it when this happens. Couldn’t they have just skipped all this and started it out like it was a real story? I HATE “stories within a story” by having the character tell a story. It’s reason #2 I HATED the princes bride.

Anyway, the drummer boy, played by Junior (of course) is a shepherd boy named Aaron. He is being given presents by his parents… wait, why? Is it his birthday? Because this story is about the birth of Jesus, and I’m pretty sure Christmas wasn’t around back then. I mean, it wasn’t around really till hundreds of years after the bible was even written, but I feel like it is an especially awful error to have someone celebrate christmas before Jesus was even born.

Anyway, Aaron gets a drum set for… a present. He’s over the moon about it.

Aaron’s drum playing makes the animals dance. Cue footage of dancing camel.

Sadly, the Romans wanted Aaron’s parents’ land, so they… burned it to a crisp. Aaron hid with the animals, but the parents died.

There were a hundred different ways to die back then without needing to introduce a villain, but no, we need one, so, um let’s throw in some ROMANS. Anyway, this convinces Aaron that he hates people. ALL people.

We get an interruption where Pa Grape goes up to get some food. It’s boring and unnecessary, and now I want fruitcake.

Pa Grape reads about the census that Mary and Joseph were participating in. This particular census (which records show occurred in the spring, btw) was unusual in that the government made people travel to the place where they were born, but only the men, because I’m sure women didn’t count. Otherwise, Mary wouldn’t have been able to be with Joseph.

Which is good, because anyone who forces me to go back to the place I was born is likely to wind up with their head chopped off. Me? Go back to Berrien Springs, a town full of Seventh Day Adventists? Over your dead body, bitches.

Ahem. Anyway, Pa Grape adds in a disclaimer that the little drummer boy isn’t found in the bible, but was inspired by the Christmas story.

A quick google search reveals that not much is known about the history of the tale. The tune is said to be Czech in origin, but even that is debated.

We get two goons jabbering about milk, honey, and chocolate milk. There’s more goons, and they appear to be a traveling circus trying to cash in on the census traveling. Along comes Aaron and his dancing animals, so they put on a little show for him. Insert song and dance number. The song is about how Aaron should join this traveling circus. The Gourd tells Aaron he can’t be alone, he needs money to eat. Ben Haramed, the leader, promises Aaron that if he makes a lot of money, he can be so rich he never has to deal with people again.

So Aaron and his dancing animals joined the traveling circus.

Cut back to Junior Asparagus and Pa Grape talking about how Haramed tricked Aaron into joining which… doesn’t sound like a trick to me? It sounds like Haramed actually used… logic? Unless he doesn’t plan on paying Aaron but so far we have no implications of that, except that Pa Grape tells us this.

Oh, and there’s some talk about how taxes means “paying money to the Romans, who, btw, totally killed Aaron’s parents.” Sigh. No, taxes is NOT just “giving money to the government.” Taxes are there for a REASON. In those days, the Romans used the taxes to build roads and highways, and I THINK for sanitation but don’t quote me on that last one. Taxes are money which is paid for a SERVICE, like road maintenance. Sure the Roman tax at the time was really heavy and tax collector was synonymous with “thief,” but I feel like this could be explained in 2 sentences, and it wouldn’t make taxes sound like this horrible even thing that only bad guys do.

I know there are Christians out there who really believe that, but VeggieTales is meant to appeal to a mainstream audience. You know, the audience that reads the bible verse that says “render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s,” aka, “pay your damn taxes.”

Anyway, back to the story, the Gourd is telling bad jokes (what do you get when you cross a Roman with a head of lettuce? Ceasar salad! what do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer. Does anybody get that last one, cuz I don’t. And a better answer to the first would be “romaine lettuce.”)

We get some heavy handed preaching about how Aaron has not forgiven and forgotten what happened to his parents. I don’t think he should, but of course this movie thinks otherwise.

The traveling circus sets up shop in busy Jerusalem. No one likes the show until Aaron comes out with his dancing animals. There’s a Star Wars reference as Bernie, the Gourd with the terrible jokes, is having slushies thrown at him. “Help me Ben Haramed, you’re my only hope.”

Ben Haramed has a long argument with Aaron about how he never smiles or laughs. Aaron comes across like a petulant child who is being asked to smile for a picture and is just being rather stubborn about the whole thing. I NEVER SMILE. I DON’T LAUGH. EVER. I DON’T EVER SMILE OR LAUGH, EVER.

Aaron and the animals do a song and dance. Aaron sings about how he only smiles for his friends, the animals.

The lyrics aren’t anything to write home about but the song is catchy, and I can listen to it without booze. So, props, guys.

The audience multiplies in size and begs for an encore.

Aaron gets pissed that they’re happy and he’s not. He starts shouting, and the audience starts getting angry. God, Aaron, ruin everything. You need that money. Don’t go on and on about how you don’t need money, or anything from anybody, when you’ve made your home in the desert, which is not known for its farmable land. How are you going to EAT without money, grah?

We interrupt your regularly scheduled movie for Silly Songs with Larry, always my favorite part of the show.

This song is “8 Poilsh Foods of Christmas,” Which is about a guy named Oscar (likely the Oscar from the I love My Lips song) bringing food to a party.

The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas
Bob: So, what did you bring us?

Oscar: What I bring you? I tell you what I bring you.
The first Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
A boiled potato topped with dillweed.
The second Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Two steamed pierogies...

Jimmy: What's a pierogi?
Oscar: It's a dough, wrapped around meat.
Jimmy: Oh...

All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The third Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Three simmered gwumpkies...
Larry: What's a gwumpkey?
Oscar: It's a cabbage wrapped around meat.
Larry:  Oh..

Jimmy: Two steamed pierogies.
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The fourth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party
Four baked paprikas...
Archibald: Now, what is a paprika?
Oscar: It's a bell pepper stuffed with meat.
Archibald: I see.

Larry: Three Simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The fifth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Five smoked kielbasas!
Pa: What's a kielbasa?
Oscar: It's pretty much just meat.
Pa: Oh.

Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The sixth Polish Cristmas dish I bring to the party,
Six fried chruscikis.
Bob: Let me guess, something in the meat family?
Oscar: Actually, it's a delightful pastry with a thin flaky crust.
All: Ohhhhh!
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped
with dill weed.

Bob: Wow Oscar, I'm gettin' kinda full, I think that's about..

Oscar: The seventh Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Seven pitted prunes...
Jr: I don't like prunes!
Oscar: With this food, you'll need 'em son.
Archie: Oh, is that right!
Pa: Uh huh!

Bob: Six fried chruscikis,
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped
with dill weed.

Pa;  I'm gunna bust!  I couldn't eat another bi...

Oscar: The eighth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Eight poppy seed cakes,
Larry: Poppies, poppies, poppies...

Archibald: I'm feeling rather sleepy. There's no place like home.
Jr: Seven pitted prunes,
Bob: Six fried chruscikis,
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Arcibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkis,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed!

That does not sound like enough food to feed a crowd. At all.

Back to the story, the traveling circus has fled into the desert, and Aaron is still with him, despite his stupidity. Haramed wants to know what’s wrong with him. Claims Aaron owes him for the money he lost from his outburst.

and then the traveling circus meets ups tin the 3 wise men. The wise men were following the star. You know, the one that appeared over Jesus and guided the wiremen to the place of his birth.

Ellen White, the Adventist Prophet, writes in The Desire of Ages that actually, it wasn’t really a star. It was really an angel up in the sky guiding them, but the wise men saw it as a star because that’s what they understood. Which would mean the bible isn’t infallible, because the bible says “star.” I get the feeling this is why Seventh Day Adventists like to leave out this detail when telling the Christmas story; it would either undermine Ellen White’s status as prophetess, or the authority of the bible. And they can’t have either one of those now, can they?

Lest anybody attempt to call Shenanigans and tell me I’m wrong, here it is, in her own words. From The Desire of Ages, Page 60. Which may or may not actually BE page 60 of whatever copy you happen to pick up. It’s in Chapter 6:

The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant. Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them. They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Num. 24:17. Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince.

I mean, shoot, if what she says is true, even the old testament contradicts the new one because it was predicted a STAR would appear, not a company of angels pretending to be a star.

Yes, Adventists take the bible literally, so you should not listen to them try to retcon as they tell you the bible was written by ignorant men who couldn’t tell the difference between an angel and a star AND in the next breath, say that God, a divine being who never makes a mistake, inspired every word of scripture.

So, that is your interesting tidbit of the day about Seventh Day Adventist culture.

Anyway, turns out the 3 not-so-wise men are happy to welcome the traveling circus to their little party.

Wait, what? Aaron and Haramed don’t notice the star, because of their sins of unforgiveness and greed, respectively. Remember, kids: forgiving and forgetting that people KILLED YOUR PARENTS is a SIN and you will go to HAY-ELL if you don not forGIVE them.

The concept of Christian forgiveness is quite screwed up, but that’s another rant altogether. Moving along.

The bible doesn’t mention the names of the Magi, but apparently there is a tradition that does…. wait what, really? *googles* Well, that’s interesting. I’m not sure why Christianity set the number of wise men at 3, or where these names came from, but they are: Caspar/Gaspar (the Veggie Version has gone with Gaspar, for obvious reasons), Melchior, and… not Cuke Skywalker. Sorry Larry, you don’t get to pretend to be a Jedi. This is not Star Wars, though a movie called The First Christmas: Star Wars Style,  WOULD be very interesting. I feel like Larry is on to to something here.  The real name of the 3rd is Balthazar.

Huh. You learn something new every day.

Haramed makes a deal with the Magi, selling off Aaron’s camel while Berny distracts Aaron.

Aaron is understandably upset, and goes off after Joshua and the Magi.

Aaron watches the Shepherds gather around while the angels tell them of Jesus’ birth, and then sing praises to him. Except we don’t get to see the angels. Only blobs of light where they would be.

This is a CLOSE UP of the angels. Seriously.

Following the shepherds, Aaron and his animal friends find Joshua, but then a Roman in a chariot runs over Baba, the little lamb. Aaron, of course, is upset, and goes to the Magi for help. The Magi are conveniently in the stable, worshipping the baby Jesus.

Melchior tells Aaron he’s a Magi, not a doctor, but the baby can help. Aaron doesn’t get it, and neither do I, since I’m unaware of Jesus using any healing powers before he hit the age of 30, but setting that aside for a good story, Aaron tells Melchior he doesn’t have a gift.

He’s worried about not having a gift for a “King” that is born in a stable. I’m not sure how they managed to convince Aaron he was a king, because even back then, kings were NOT born in stables.

Aaron goes up to the manger, and then sings the song The Little Drummer Boy. I’m sure we all know it, so I’ll avoid posting lyrics.

Playing the song with drums filled Aaron’s heart with joy an drove, and e forgave the people who hurt his parents…

I feel like something is missing here… playing a song for a baby king and then having the king smile at him healed him… yeeeeaaaaahhhh sorry not buying it. Maybe there was something in the original story that I am missing? Which came first, the song or the story? I think the song, based on googling, but I could be wrong. So I feel like the story could’ve been easily edited to make more gorram sense.

Why oh WHY is the fullscreen button literally right next to the “skip ahead to the end of the movie” button? Seriously, who’s dumbass idea was that?!

Anyway, after Aaron plays his song, someone comes up to him and –OH SNAP! His parents SURVIVED! They thought Aaron died in the fire, and he thought they died… finally, an ending I actually LIKE. Yes, I’m a sucker for sappy Christmas movies. Sue me.

Oh, and in case you were worrying about the lamb, don’t worry, his parents take care of it.

Aaron thought the newborn king was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen which, SNORT, have you ever SEEN a newborn? they’re not cute. Or remotely beautiful. They’re wrinkled and red and ugly. They don’t get cute for another few days or a week. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who has SUCKER tattooed on her forehead when it comes to babies and children.

Junior’s caroling friends then come to call at his house which sounds weird but whatever. I guess they decided to carol on his street.

They then have a 2 minute talk about the misunderstanding at the beginning of the movie. Love and forgiveness all around…. yawn, go back to the Christmas carols and the reunited parents and son.

The end credit music, unsurprisingly, is The Little Drummer Boy. And since I’m a sucker for Christmas music, and this song is very well done, I listened to it 3 times.

In reading the reviews on Amazon, I’m not the only one disappointed with the resolution of the story. Other people also felt it was too rushed and forced. There is nothing in here about why Jesus coming as a baby should change Aaron’s life. It’s just sort of a magical thing that happens when he sees what should be an ordinary newborn. (The bible says Jesus was not ugly that we should despise him, yet not beautiful that we should love him for his beauty. It therefore stands to reason that Jesus would’ve looked like a typical human newborn: pretty darn ugly.)

I’m also surprised there was no comparison between Jesus forgiving us for our sins and Aaron forgiving the Romans for theres. I would have found it extremely problematic so I’m almost kind of glad, but it would’ve fit right in with the Christian narrative, and would’ve at least made the story make sense, because otherwise there is literally no explanation for why seeing a baby suddenly changes Aaron’s life. I feel like you could have still had the story: Aaron angry, then finds his parents, happy ending, and left the whole story of Jesus out, and not lost anything from the story.

And that’s…. no ok, because, Jesus’ birth is sort of supposed to be the point of the story, not Aaron’s whiny childish angst.

I think the movie is ok, but it falls so short at the end. I just… feel this movie is lacking.

McGee and Me Episode 2: Star In The Breaking

Apologies for errors. The issues with my keyboard have still  not been resolved.

“When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited?

Luke 14:8

This is the verse Nikolas reads at the beginning of the episode, though in a much looser translation. McGee and his cartoon friends all fight over the seat at the head of the table. An old lady clonks McGee over the head with her purse. Go lady! McGee then forcibly removes her from the chair. The host of the feast then brings in a man and tells the man he wants him to sit at the head of the table, so poor McGee has to go take the least desirable seat, with cobwebs. I don’t feel sorry for him, because forcibly removing old ladies from chairs isn’t cool.

Nikolas then explains that every Monday after school his family gathers around the tv for “quality entertainment” which basically is… something that looks really stupid. On the tv a kid gets hit in the face with a pie. I get the feeling Nick’s comment about quality entertainment was supposed to be sarcastic. At least, I hope, or I will seriously wonder what Focus on the Family officials were smoking back in the day.

Boring shots of under the couch, the crack in the door, then under the couch again.

Back to Nickolas and his sisters. Nickolas finds “the slime slide” hilarious. His older sister isn’t even watching, she’s reading what looks like the newspaper.  At the mention of “slime slide,” she looks up and says, “gross.” I like this character already.

McGee scares Whatever, who jumps up and walks across the living room, making a better door than a window, I’m sure.

Anyway, this appears to be one of those shows that actually lets real live kids be a part of it. The host announces the kids who’ve won the opportunity to be on the show, and guess what, one of them is Nikolas. Even the older sister is excited that he gets to be on tv, even though I would be rolling my eyes, embarrassed to have a family member be on such a ridiculous show.

In the next scene, NIkolas’ family is eating dinner. BIg Sister (did they ever tell us her name? I honestly can’t remember) asks him what he’s going to wear. Because all teenage girls are overly concerned with clothes. Really.

McGee asks Nikolas what his share of the profits are, and Nikolas answers out loud, “nothing.” His poor sister wonders why he wants to go on TV in the nude, while grandma says that sort of thing is frowned upon in children’s movies.

This is the movie’s attempt at humor, and it sort of works. It definitely establishes that the rest of Nick’s family can’t hear McGee, but they can hear Nikolas talking to him. Which, ok, that’s bizarre, but we’ll go with it.

Nick’s mom gets a call about a job interview, and afterward she behaves more like someone who got a date, but whatevs.

The next day at school, Nick’s much younger sister and him are walking down the halls toge–

Wait, what? Last episode we were told Nick went to “Junior High.” Nick’s sister can not possibly be much older than the age of 5, MAYBE I’ll give 7, but she has the high squeaky voice of a 5 year old. Since when did they let 5 and 7 year olds into Junior High? In fact, most Junior High schools aren’t even in the same BUILDING as the elementary school. I only know of one school who tried to integrate the 2 into the same building, but they made darn sure to keep the little kids very separated from the big kids. And it didn’t end up working anyway, because parents got upset.

So I have a hard time believing NIck and his younger sister would be meeting in the hallways at school.

Right after Nick promises to help Little Whatshername (I seriously need to make myself a cheat sheet with names) draw a wombat, 3 girls come up and ask him if he got to school in his limo, and telling him he’s a big star and they can’t wait to see him on TV, bla bla bla…

Nickolas decides there are advantages to being a star, like being with pretty girls, and goes after them. I love the multicolored sweater one of the girls is wearing. Heather is very clearly having a crush on Nick, but I doubt that’ll ever become a main plot point.

Though I wish it would. Heather is not what ye typical Jr High student would think of as pretty. She’s got long brown hair that’s got flyaway strands, she’s not thin, and she’s wearing a plain striped shirt. I would love to see the main character get with the “plain” girl for once.

Even though we were told last episode that Nick is in Jr High, it sounds like he’s going to be in one classroom for the whole day… I think the writers just like to forget what they wrote last episode. That’s going to be obnoxious.

The principal actually interrupts a teacher in the middle of a lecture to congratulate NIckolas on his TV appearance. The teacher wasn’t the best teacher, but still, that was highly rude of him. I actually sympathize with the teacher for being annoyed.

We then get treated to a dream Nickolas has of walking the red carpet. The only problem I have with this scene (besides it being kinda stupid) is  the fact that it occurs in cartoon world. That’s not the problem, the problem is that it’s in cartoon world, and Nicholas is not cartoonified, for lack of a better word. As such, it just comes across as bad video editing.

Snerk…. he’s doing the princess wave….

That morning at breakfast, Nickolas tries to order Sarah, his big sister, around. At first it makes sense, because Sarah’s right next to the milk, no reason she can’t hand it to him. Then he asks her to get the sugar, which she does. then he gets after her for not bringing him his spoon. Sarah flicks sugar in his face and says, “get it yourself, I’m not your slave!” Then grabs her books and stomps out the door. I like this girl.

Nick then proceeds to act like a jerk to his friends. I hate it when kids get big head syndrome from stuff like this. It’s so cliched and overdone.

In the next scene, grandma is talking to Nick’s mom, Elizabeth. Apparently the people who were going to give her a job just wanted her to answer phones. Well duh, she’s a woman, of course that’s all they want her for.

It’s unclear exactly what job Elizabeth was applying for. She said she wanted to “offer her services to help those people,” whatever that means. I get the impression that even the people at FotF can’t imagine a woman with kids doing an actual career.

McGee and Nick have a fight. They throw things at each other. Yawn.

Jamie is laying on the floor trying to draw a wombat. like Nick, I have no idea what a wombat looks like, but thank you google.

I’m not sure what the rules are about taking pictures from google and posting them here, so I won’t do it. And Yeah, I wouldn’t know how to draw that either. Cute little bugger, though.

Frustrated, Jamie goes up to her brother’s room. She hears the noises on the other side of the door…so wait, she can hear the noises of McGee’s helicopter and fake guns, but she couldn’t hear him talk at breakfast?

I would REALLY like a solid explanation of whether other people can hear McGee or not, because the screenwriters seem to have decided that the answer is “whatever is convenient to the plot.”

Jamie then enters Nick’s room without knocking, which would piss me off, actually. I’ve literally told people, “do that again and KNOCK this time.” It usually works, and after that I’m quite happy to talk to them. So I don’t blame Nick for not being thrilled at being caught hiding under his bed wearing his football helmet because his sister walked in on him playing with his imaginary friend.

Jamie asks Nick if he will help her. He replies that he doesn’t have time for that stuff, because the show’s tomorrow, and a wombat is a dumb choice anyway.

Hold on… we were told at the beginning of the episode that it was Monday, that Nick would be on the show on Saturday, and it’s only been 2 days. By my count, it should now be Wed. I don’t blame the writers for wanting to skip the week in between, but I wish they’d make it more apparent that they were doing a time skip, or have Nickolas be watching the show on Thursday instead of Monday.

And yeah, I kinda was wondering about why Jamie would choose a wombat as her favorite animal, but I still don’t think it’s dumb, and Nick’s comment was unnecessarily cruel.

Jamie is hurt by Nick’s unkind comments, and goes away sadly. McGee throws a paper ball at him. Nick tells McGee he’s still not going on the show with him. That’s apparently what their big fight was about. I thought other people couldn’t see McGee anyway? So what would it matter if Nick took or didn’t take him?

Consistency people, even in a kid’s show, IT MATTERS. I say this as someone in the target market range of this video who sat there and picked out all the plot holes and inconsistencies in tv shows before she was even old enough to read, so I can’t be the only one who’s noticing this.

Nick puts on his best suit on Saturday morning, and for a minute I feel like I’m watching an Adventist tv show. His sketchbook lies on the floor as he walks out the door. Like, literally, we get a closeup of the red cover. Seriously, who takes their sketchbook to a tv show? I enjoy writing, but sometimes I don’t want to mess around with carrying a notebook everywhere I go. Nick wasn’t told to bring it.

Shots of Nick walking into the studio being awed by everything around him.A song saying, “you’re a big shot, you’re a super star!” plays in the background as Nick is taken to hair and makeup, where he’s given a pair of goggles and I notice he is no longer wearing a suit.

Wow. The show is actually called “Trash TV.” I’m sure parents will get the joke, as some in the FotF crowd thing all television is trash anyway, and I’ve literally heard the term “trash TV” thrown about in a casual conversation. Or it’s because the show is really stupid and LOOKS like trash.

Amy and Nick are the only 2 contestants, and are wearing what look like Karate suits. Nick’s family stands in the wings to cheer him on. This strikes me as the most realistic aspect of the show, because a child must have an onset guardian at all times. In fact, it’s quite possible Joe’s real mother is around somewhere. (Joe=actor who plays Nick).

The object of the game show, apparently, is to trash your opponent as much as possible and rack up points, and whoever wins the most points is the grand prize winner. I like this show less and less.

I predict Amy is going to win it, because Nick must be humbled.

Predictably, I’m right. It’s rather boring and painful to watch. And disgusting. Lots of closeups of kids in the audience pointing and laughing. Like, LOTS of closeups. More than necessary in my opinion, and it goes on for way too long. Amy is the winner, and is congratulated as Nick walks off the stage as a bible verse about being humble repeats. Yawn.

Also, hey wait a minute… The host of the show said he chose Nick specifically because he could draw really well…. and then the show has nothing to do with his drawing abilities whatsoever? I feel like, since it was specifically mentioned, it should’ve been relevant to the plot. Especially with Jamie trying to draw a wombat and needing Nick’s help, it seems like really clunky foreshadowing that went absolutely nowhere.

McGee comes along to pat Nick’s shoulder and have a talk with him.

The next day at school the kids aren’t so nice to him anymore.

Elizabeth took the job at the counseling center answering phones. She said Nick’s not the only one who’s been learning humility.

Erm, what? Elizabeth applied for a job as a counselor at a counseling center, and was offered the position of, it sounds like secretary. That, to me, doesn’t sound like a lesson in humility, it sounds like a lesson in how sexist our society is. She’s a woman, so all she’s good for is answering phones. And Elizabeth, like a good little woman, finally bows down and accepts this. Never mind that she probably went to school for this and is just as qualified as the (no doubt) male counselors.

This side plot just… doesn’t seem like a lesson in humility AT ALL. Sure the Nick plot was overdone and cliched, but at least it demonstrated “pride goeth before a fall.” The Elizabeth side plot demonstrates…. blatant sexism in the workplace?

McGee makes a lame joke, and Nick threatens to slam the sketchbook shut. So, apparently McGee lives in the sketchbook? So, he can become flat whenever he wants? And do we ever get an explanation of why and how McGee came to life? Is he really there, or is he only in Nick’s imagination? Since he was able to physically hurt Nick by throwing nuts and crumpled papers at him, I have serious doubts he is only in Nick’s head.

And yet, no one else seems to be able to see of hear McGee, soooo I don’t know. I only know that NOBODY thought this through.

Oh, and I learned this tidbit from the wiki: Whatever’s real name is Poundcake. I think they should’ve just gone with that for the show, because isn’t it easier to use a dog’s real name? And Poundcake is an original enough name without changing it.

I looked up the actor, Joe’s, age. He’s 12 at the time of filming, so definitely would be in Junior High, especially since Junior High used to start at 6th grade, in some places.

Now THIS is interesting. Apparently the actor playing Sarah’s real name is…. Sarah. And she’s Joe’s IRL big sister. Neither one of them have done much acting since McGee and Me, which is kinda too bad because they both seem like decent actors. I guess this show kinda killed their career… Gee, I can’t think WHY.

The Big Damn Mcgee and Me Rewatch, Episode 1 “The Big Lie.”

I’m going to try and eventually work my way through all the episodes ever, but only if I can find them on the internet. So for now. we’re going to do episode one.

For those that don’t know, McGee and Me was a television show that aired in the late 1980s/early1990s era, give or take a few years. It featured a boy (of course, cuz girls never go on adventures) who drew this cartoon character who then came to life.

It’s written and produced by Focus on the Family, which at some point was run by Dr. James Dobson, a man who proudly writes in his book about he beat up his dachshund to prove he was a manly man in charge of the house. FotF is seen as pretty mainstream by some, but by others, heavily conservative and dangerous.

So, let’s begin.

It starts, as usual, with a theme song, during which a boy draws a cartoon, which then comes to life.

Look! I’m alive!
Whoa! I gotta lay off the crack!

The real episode begins with Nick (the boy who draws) opening the bible and reading a (very liberal translation) verse about how lying is bad, and the same thing as hitting someone with an axe.

We are then treated to a cartoon version of McGee getting hit in the head with an axe. Don’t worry, his head regrows.

Except for McGee, none of the characters are cartoons, so it looks a little odd.

Nick explains that he’s just moved into his grandma’s house, and he has to start all over again with new friends and a new school. God I know that feeling, multiple times over.

Nick has an older sister who is sporting a side ponytail. Oh, 90s fashions…

SNORT. Their dog’s name is… Whatever? No, I had to go re-listen to it, but that’s seriously the dog’s name: Whatever. Nick’s father is mad because the dog stole toast off his plate. The older sister insists her dad needs to loosen up about Whatever, but I kind of agree that it’s annoying when dogs steal your food. I also think that the man shouldn’t have put the food in a place where the dog could reach it if he didn’t want Whatever to have it.

I am so going to name a dog or a cat Whatever. That is just an AWESOME name for a pet.

There’s another girl in the family, a younger sister with beautiful golden curls.

The family, except for Nick, scatters.

There’s some loud coughing from the cereal box, with pieces flying out. Out pops McGee which, ew. If someone, cartoon character or not, had been coughing in my cereal, I’d smack him, hard, because ew, gross.

McGee doesn’t answer Nick’s “What are you doing?” Question.

Nick reminds McGee that the last time he gave him advice, it didn’t turn out so well.

We get to see Nick’s first day of school, where he gets in trouble for cutting class because he couldn’t find his homeroom (seriously, does this ever happen? I thought teachers gave new students leeway, at least, mine always did.), drops all his food at lunch as the girls laugh, and then gets caught with a can of spray paint at recess because someone throws it at him.

Then Nick has the misfortune to run into some older boys, who bully him out of some money, or at least try to. Just as he’s going to beat up Nick, another boy comes up and manages to convince Derek, the bully, not to beat up Nick, saying that Derek usually goes for bigger guys, and beating up this little boy would sully his reputation.

Derek and his gang of bullies walk away, and Nick thanks Louis. Louis is a person of color, and I like that. What I don’t like is when he tells Nick not to cut through a certain person’s yard because “that guy’s a crazy old Indian who eats live animals.”

Sigh. So much for no racism. “Crazy old man” is one thing, “crazy old Indian man” is another. And may I remind people that an adult wrote these words, not the child who is speaking them?

Louis tells Nick that anything, human or animal, that goes through there doesn’t come out a live.

McGee then starts talking to Nick, and they have a conversation about whether or not Nick should go. McGee argues that this is Nick’s chance to make an impression, and Nick shoots back “didn’t you hear what he just said!?”

All the while, Louis is standing RIGHT THERE. Which begs the question: do people besides Nick not hear McGee? Do they also not hear Nick when he talks to McGee? Because Louis is standing there right within earshot, and should really be wondering why Nick is talking to himself. And, possibly, where the other voice is coming from.

I could accept that no one else can hear McGee, and I could even stretch it to no one hearing Nick talk to McGee. But I feel like there needs to be an explanation. Come on, throw me a tachyon pulse, some unobtanium, something.

Nick cuts across the old guy’s yard as Louis screams after him to come back. Nickolas stupidly climbs onto the cellar door to peek in the window. The boards are rotted and he falls in, as Louis is still screaming for him to get out of there. Like he can now, dumbass, he’s TRAPPED. For some reason there is an owl in the barn. You know those Indians, amiright? They totally keep owls as pets in their basements.

Anyway, the old man gets up out of his rocking chair and goes down to the cellar. Nick screams and runs past him, and I can’t see very well because it’s dark, but I think for some reason the old man is holding a live rabbit.

He runs into Louis on his way out of the house, “just to say hi.” I do kinda like this kid’s sense of humor.

The next day, as Nicholas comes out of his house, he finds a group of Louis and his friends waiting for him. They are all very impressed that Nickolas had the guts to go into the old guy’s house. They start asking Nick a lot of questions. Nick tries to set the record straight, but then gives up and plays along. After all, it’s hugely helping his street cred.  The Indian man was big, like a monster, and eating a live rabbit.

As we all know, this is how rumors get started in Middle School.

Derek and his gang get wind of it, and they corner Nicholas.

Derek: I don’t believe it! What kind of  a fool do you take me for?

Nicholas: I don’t know, how many kinds are there?

I actually do like his comeback here.

At home, Nick’s grandma talks about how someone broke into George Rivers’ place and scared him real bad. He’s got arthritis so bad he can barely walk, but he gets up to take care of all those injured animals. Grandma goes on to say he’s the sweetest man you’d ever want to meet.

Looks like I misjudged someone…

We switch over to McGee in cartoon world. I guess McGee has his own little cartoon world? McGee and his friends are playing baseball. McGee hits a home run, and the ball crashes in someone’s window. At least 5 police cars immediately come around the corner with their lights squealing. Soldiers surround them on all sides and point guns at them.  McGee’s eyes turn red as he  hurriedly thrusts the bat into the hands of a younger boy. The big fat police officer hauls the  younger boy off in chains. The boy looks out the window with tears streaming down his eyes.

It’s all very over dramatic and stupid, and even as a kid I would’ve rolled my eyes so hard they’d rattle around in my skull. But watching it in school probably got me out of math class or something, so whatever.

Back on planet Real World (and I admit, except for Cartoon World, most of what’s been happening in this episode is very realistic and I could see happening.), Nick’s dad comes in to talk. Nick has some handy little remote that opens the door for him. Not entirely sure how he rigged that up. Tachyon pulses, I guess. Nick’s dad tries to talk to him, but Nick doesn’t answer. Finally he asks Nick whatsup.

Seriously, I want a show where the mother goes to have a talk with the son. But there’s more than one episode in the series so maybe that’s coming up.

Nick kinda sorta tells his father what’s going on. His dad reminds him “the truth will find him out,” which is actually a direct biblical quote. We get treated to a lecture on who all gets hurt when a lie is told about someone. It hurts the teller of the lie, the person about whom the lie is told, and of course, we hurt Jesus when we lie.

I was subjected to that line of reasoning A LOT growing up. A whole stinking pile of dung-guilt which wasn’t necessary, because Jesus doesn’t exist. And also, seriously, every little sin we do, no matter how small, hurts God immensely? Wouldn’t God be in intense pain all the time? Oh but wait, the good things we do make him happy, so he’s also in perpetual joy? So, God is simultaneously in never ending agony and perpetual joy? My room mate and I actually had a talk about that once, but it hurt our brains too much to think about, so we did the same thing we always did with our questions/doubts/things that made no gorram sense: shut up and stuff ’em up where we couldn’t remember ’em.

In any case, I have a huge problem that most, if not any, thing we do affects god in any way. Maybe if I was to go murder someone it would make sense, but a little lie told to middle school students to up a kid’s street cred? Come on. They were afraid of him anyway.

In the next scene, we see Nicholas drawing, looking totally stoned.

There’s a cheesy song about lying playing in the background as we are next shown Derek’s gang getting together after dark by a chain link fence. And then we’re shown Mr. River’s windows windows being broken via rocks. Quite honestly, it would’ve come to this anyway. Kids have always been afraid of Mr. Rivers, so  it would be extremely surprising to me if this were really the first time some dumb kids had vandalized his house.

At the end of the song, we’re shown what Nicholas has been drawing.

Derek didn’t bother keeping what he did quiet, because the next day everyone at school is talking about it. Nick’s family must have moved to a small town, because I don’t remember shit spreading this fast in the bigger schools I’ve been to.

Nicholas is just finishing up with music class when Louis comes up and tells Nicholas he’s going to miss all the action. Derek and his Dorks are going to put the finishing touches on… what Louis says sounds like “old cheese.” and “it should be good.” Then he runs away.

McGee puts on a superhero costume and struts around. He tells Nick it’s time to fix his mistake. “But they’ll kill me!” Nick exclaims.

Given what the bullies have been known to do, I don’t blame him for thinking this. Those boys could really hurt Nick.

McGee convinces Nick to do something,

Cheesy music plays in the background as we are shown footage of Nick running to the scene as Derek and “his dorks” vandalize Mr. Rivers’ porch, setting his animals free, breaking things… again, if kids were always this scared of him and hated him, I’d be extremely surprised if this was the first time this happened.

I’d also be shocked if they decided to listen to Nick when he tired to tell them things got blown out of proportion. Which, I’d like to point out that, even if Nick hadn’t lied, it probably would’ve gotten spread around the school like wildfire and blown our of proportion anyway, because that is how small towns work.

But no, it’s all Nick’s fault for going along with it.

Which, probably he does have some responsibility, but at the same time, once these things get started, even if you don’t lie, there’s really no stopping it.

The song wines about how love never lies. Has focus on the family ever thought about lies such as “no that dress doesn’t make you look fat at all?” Ok, some lies SAVE lives, and are told in love.

When McGee finally, after an eternity, reaches the front porch, the boys scatter, calling him “squid.” Mr. Rivers looks at him.

No words pass between them, but Nick goes home and cries about it afterward. I think this is unfair, I don’t think it’s all Nick’s fault. I mean, sure his actions kind of instigated it, but honestly, if it hadn’t been him, it’d have been someone else. And even if no one else had done what Nick did, Derek and his “dorks” sound like the type who would eventually do it anyway.

In any case, the next morning, Nick is shown cleaning Mr. Rivers’ front porch. Louis comes up.

Louis: You didn’t see anything you said you did, did you

Nick: No. I didn’t really see anything.

This, strictly speaking, is not true. He saw animals that were stuffed, which creeped him out, he saw a live owl, and he saw Mr. Rivers holding a live rabbit.

This, then, is the big lie, but of course, the movie wants us to conveniently forget the first act.

Louis tells Nick it was fun while it lasted, then leaves. McGee sits in a water dish for the raccoon talking about how great it is to be helping out, “yesirree bob.”

Nick doesn’t think he can face Mr. Rivers after what he did to him which, oh my god seriously? It’s NOT Nick’s fault Derek and his “dorks” vandalized Mr. Rivers’ house. Even if Nick had told the truth, it still would’ve spread all over the school all embellished, and in any case, I’d be really surprised if they weren’t going to eventually do it on a dare anyway. But Nick has to beat himself up for it because he is a Good Christian ™.

Mr. Rivers comes out and smiles at Nick, telling him he should start on the cellar steps next.

Nicholas laughs as the raccoon licks McGee, who thinks he’s being eaten and screams like a girl.

Aaaaaaand that’s it. The end credits roll.

I don’t dislike Nick, at least, not yet. I also don’t think what happened is entirely his fault. I feel like there could’ve been a better storyline for the whole “lying is bad” thing. And I know we saw glimpses of it, but I really wish we’d seen more of Mr. Rivers being nice to… well, we don’t really get to see much of him at all. So I would’ve liked to see, instead of grandma telling us Mr. Rivers is the nicest person you could ever meet, I wish we’d been shown that Mr. Rivers is (or at least, can be) a really nice person.

And I wish they hadn’t gone with the whole stereotypical “Native Americans are close to nature hence all the injured animals” thing.

I’ll wait and see more episodes before I judge, but so far I dislike the writing, but the characters and storyline are somewhat believable. Nick also never came across as self righteous and stuck up. In fact, he seemed kinda like a normal kid who struggles with… well, whatever it is kids his age struggle with. And that’s refreshing. I don’t (yet) hate the protagonist in a Christian movie.

And now I’m going to go take some NyQuil and call it a night.