Saturday, May 23, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 5: The Baby-Sitters Special Christmas

Memory Reaction
I was convinced I never saw this episode, but I predicted the end pretty early in.  So either I did see at least part of it once, or it’s just really predictable.  Or both.

Revisited Reaction
It’s Christmas, so guess what the BSC is doing? Planning a party for some sick kids at the hospital.  Because that’s the kind of girls they are.  They also do a Secret Santa gift exchange since they don’t have the money to get everyone in the club a gift.  That part’s just an excuse to see a montage of them all bumping into each other at the store and spying on each other.

We also get a couple of side plots.  Kristy really wants a fancy new baseball mitt and asks if her mom will get it for her for Christmas.  It’s “very expensive,” so her mom only agrees to pay for part of it if Kristy does extra chores around the house.   We get several montages of Kristy washing windows and doing yardwork where she accidently steps in a bucket of water and dumps a wheelbarrow full of yardwork stuff on the ground.  She gets her glove on Christmas Eve and is super excited about it. But then at the hospital party she gives the glove to a little boy whose parents have so little money they have to work all the time and can’t visit him.  That was the part I predicted.

Meanwhile, Stacey’s having trouble sticking to her diet with so many holiday goodies floating around all the time.  She sneaks some sweets, but Dawn catches her, acts all judgy, and lectures her.  Stacey ignores this saying it’s no big deal, but she starts to feel sick.  Dawn keeps being judgmental. On Christmas Eve Stacey feels so bad she gets brought to the hospital.  On Christmas morning the rest of the BSC finds her there when they go to the party and she gives some silly confession about how she sometimes hates not being normal but knows she shouldn’t eat sweets.

High/Lowlights
  • These girls say “wow” a lot.  During the opening credits we see them walking around a store talking.  The director must have told the actors to act amazed or something, because they all keep pointing to things and picking them up.  And saying “wow.”  Constantly.
  • Also during the credits we see all the girls gather around Santa Claus at some department store.  As they all come around him he actually rolls his eyes at them and their chatter.  That made me laugh.
  • The creepy part of the Santa scene is that Jessi starts to stroke his beard. 
  • This is another episode where a client, in this case Mrs. Rodowski, asks for two sitters even though she never did in the books.  They say it’s because someone needs to sit with Shea while he practices piano and someone else needs to watch Jackie and Archie.  But it’s really an excuse to let Dawn watch Stacey eat a Christmas cookie she made with the boys.
  • I was somewhat pleased at this explanation because Shea totally played piano in the books and I love good continuity.
  • Speaking of cookies, why would you bake cookies with Jackie “The Walking Disaster” Rodowski? That seems like asking for trouble.  Although, in this episode Jackie seems extremely un-klutzy.
  • When Kristy asks her mom about the glove, her mom asks her how much it costs.  Kristy just keeps saying it’s expensive, then finally whispers her the price.  It seems really weird because no one else is there, so why whisper? I guess they didn’t want people watching this 20 years in the future hear a price that sounds cheap now and laugh at it being called expensive?
  • This kid at the hospital, Ned, watches the girls set up for the party a few days before Christmas.  When he says he’s not that into Christmas, Kristy’s all, “what? How can anyone not be into Christmas?”  I don’t know, Kristy, maybe he’s Jewish?  And okay, this kid isn’t Jewish.  But he could have been, so it seemed like a rather insensitive comment.  The books were much more aware of diversity stuff like that.
  • Ned seems to have a broken leg.  Why would a kid have to stay overnight in the hospital so long for a broken leg? He’s moving around in a wheelchair so it’s not like he’s in traction or anything.
  • Charlotte seems younger in this episode than I pictured her reading the books.  I don’t remember that about her other episode.
  • We see Claudia, Jessi, Mary Anne, and  Mallory go into a store to Christmas shop.  They all say to the saleswoman, “I’m looking for a gift for my Secret Santa.  Where’s the hats/perfume/etc.”  By the time the last girl comes in, the saleswoman guesses that she’s shopping for a Secret Santa.  She seems amused by the whole thing.  Why not just say friend?  And if you know what you’re getting, why not just ask where the hats/perfume/etc. are? Why does the saleswoman care who you’re buying it for?  But anyway, I guess this scene is to make up for the fact that these four characters didn’t really have anything else to do in this episode.
  • It’s very convenient that Kristy’s family always opens presents on Christmas Eve, so that she already has the glove to give to Ned when she got hit with the Christmas spirit.
  • It’s even more convenient for the producers that Kristy and her mom actually exchange gifts alone in a room without their huge family around.  Fewer actors to pay.
  • When the girls are at a restaurant, Stacey keeps drinking water and talking about being thirsty.  Now, I know thirst is a symptom of diabetes.  But I have to say, my mom’s diabetic, and has been all my life.  I have never seen her drink a ton of water like that or complain about being so thirsty.
  • It’s good to see that the show follows the lead of the books and shows Stacey having to go to the hospital because her blood sugar is high once.  They should have showed Stacey being in much worse shape if they wanted to have her end up at the hospital.
  • Kristy’s mom tells her she doesn’t need a baseball glove because she already has three.  Kristy points out that Karen has a ton of dolls, but her mom and Watson still got her a new one for Christmas.  Kristy’s mom yells at her for snooping instead of explaining why it’s okay to spoil Karen, but not Kristy.
  • Awe, at the party Jackie and Charlotte are there and when Jackie stands under the mistletoe, Charlotte kisses him on the cheek.  He’s annoyed about it, cause he’s a 7-year-old boy.  But they are cute kids.
  • Stacey keeps “sneaking sweets” throughout the book and Dawn’s a total jerk to her about it.  She keeps acting all judgmental about how Stacey isn’t supposed to eat that stuff.  Now, while Dawn has a point, she should be nicer about it instead of having it come across like a lecture. 
  • The worst part’s at the end Stacey basically tells Dawn she was right.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 4: Kristy and the Great Campaign

Memory Reaction
I actually owned this video as a kid so I saw it a bunch of times.  What stands out to me is that they made these super-elaborate ice cream sundaes.  I remember watching with my friend talking about how no one would ever have that many toppings in their house.  But maybe we were just deprived kids with healthy-eating parents.
I also remember that the BSC gets Courtney to wear her hair in a ponytail for most of the episode, but then at the end she pulls it out right before her speech.  It’s supposed to be symbolic of her being herself or something.
Revisited Reaction
The BSC has this new client, an 8-year-old girl named Courtney.  She’s a nice, shy girl who really likes animals.   Meanwhile, Kristy hears that this annoying kid, Jeremy, is running unopposed for third grade student council and that Courtney doesn’t really like him.  Jeremy’s the little brother of Justin Marver, a guy who Kristy has a rivalry with (even though he wasn’t in the books).  Kristy convinces Courtney to run to beat Jeremy and to help make friends.  This is a bit of a hard sell, but Kristy manages to pull it off by saying everyone deserves to know how great Courtney is.  Kristy enlists the whole BSC to help.  They make campaign posters for her, help her with her speech, and even give her a makeover.  They put a lot of effort into all this.  I don’t think that anyone who ran for student council in my high school put so much effort in.
Anyway, Justin’s also helping Jeremey with his election.  Since Kristy kind of hates him, and is rather competitive, this pushes her to go a little overboard with Courtney’s campaign.  She doesn’t let Courtney hang out with a new friend she has made, she ignores Courtney’s ideas for posters and speeches, and just acts overall pushy with the whole thing.  Eventually, Courtney blows up and says she doesn’t even want to run.  But Kristy realizes what she did wrong and talks to Courtney to tell her she’s a great kid and would do great in student council, but should just be herself.  The rest of the BSC doesn’t know this and runs all over town trying to find Kristy and tell her to talk to Courtney.  I don’t know why they didn’t think to look at the school where the election was happening, but I guess no one in the club’s supposed to be a genius.  Anyway they get to school in time to realize Kristy already talked to her.
Courtney gives a nice speech about how even though she doesn’t talk a lot she has good ideas and is a good listener and would be good in student council.  Then Kristy starts chanting in support, followed by the rest of the BSC and then actual elementary school students.  So, Courtney wins.
High/Lowlights
  • At a club meeting, the girls are talking when the phone rings.  Kristy picks up the phone and loudly says “shhh” to the rest of them before answering.  Shouldn’t she have shushed them before picking up the phone?
  • The BSC’s getting together with all their clients on a particular day to watch a video together.  But they take all the kids to the store with them.  In what universe did they think taking a bunch of kids to pick out the video was a good idea?  Of course they’re going to argue about what to see. The sitters should have picked out the video ahead of time.  Luckily Courtney was there and was able to find a good compromise.
  • Kristy refers to the “grade school” elections.  Who calls elementary school grade school?  That’s kind of outdated, isn’t it?
  • Mallory comes up with the slogan “Count on Court” for the campaign, which they end up using. I guess they gave that win to Mallory the writer, but I liked Mary Anne’s “Westin’s the best one” better (Courtney’s last name’s Westin).
  • Courtney’s makeover consists of putting the front of her hair in a high ponytail, and dressing her in leggings and a baggy sweater.  I totally tried to imitate that outfit when I was a kid.
  • But the ponytail scene reminds me of the scene in Not Another Teen Movie where they give the nerdy girl a makeover by taking OUT her ponytail.  And doing nothing else.
  • This is the video where they are talking about the Arnold Twins and Jessi announces how she uses Pig Latin on them.  I remember her saying that so well, even if I thought it was in a different episode.  
  • While they’re helping Courtney plan her campaign, they’re making ice cream sundaes.  Kristy scooped all the ice cream, but then Courtney put on toppings.  And when she’s finished they all tell her how amazing she is for doing such an awesome job.  It was a bit over the top, but I guess they were trying to build her confidence.
  • Jackie Rodowski’s in Courtney’s class and has a bit of a crush on her.  But he doesn’t want to admit it, so when Jeremy asked him to play a trick on Courtney, Jackie agrees.  The only problem is that the trick’s dropping the class pet garter snake on Courtney’s foot in the middle of some kind of “meet the candidates” thing.  Everyone freaks out (including Jeremy for some reason), but Courtney is calm because she’s already been established as an animal lover.  She ends up looking like a hero.
  • The Science teacher’s nearby, and he just ends up carrying the snake back to his classroom instead of yelling at anyone or wondering which kids were behind the trick.
  • Why’s Jackie in third grade with Courtney? He’s supposed to be 7.
  • When the rest of the BSC finds Courtney at the end, right before she’s supposed to give her speech, Dawn stops and says, “I’m so glad we found you.  We have something very important to tell you.” Followed by a big pause, during which Courtney gets called to the stage.  Why didn’t she just say it without preamble?
  • The election seems to happen at some kind of after-school assembly.  What kind of kids would stick around for that? My school always did them during school hours (although I guess then the BSC couldn’t be there.
  • Jeremey Marver’s campaign posters all say “Marver-lous.”  That’s kinda cute.  I’m probably not supposed to think that, but I do.  I’m also jealous that my last name isn’t anything that could be turned into a catchy campaign slogan like that.
  • I wish Courtney’s opponent was the little brother of Alan Gray or someone we actually knew.  All these new characters invented for the show don’t work as well as the pre-established ones.


Monday, April 6, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 3: Stacey’s Big Break

Memory Reaction

I actually saw this episode when I was a kid, so I thought I’d do this memory section again.

I remember Stacey making a big deal out of how she had to wear shorts outside when modeling.  And that first the rest of the BSC thinks she was wearing them inside, and got all impressed when they found out otherwise.  It was winter, obviously.  I also remember how Stacey clicks her tongue to give Charlotte confidence or something when she’s in a play.  I thought it was really sweet at the time.

Revisited Reaction
The girls are putting on a play with the kids they sit for, because, why not? It’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the BSC thinks Charlotte’s perfect for the part, despite her ridiculous stage fright.  Stacey says Charlotte trusts her and will do it if she asks.  Nice manipulation of a kid, Stacey.  She tells Charlotte they'll have a special signal that should help Charlotte not be scared when she hears it.  This special signal’s just Stacey clicking her tongue, so I don’t know how secret it is.  But Charlotte’s eight, so whatever.  

Anyway, it's also a big week for Stacey elsewhere, because she gets spotted by some kind of modelling agent who wants her to meet with a photographer.  That turns into a test shoot, and then some actual modelling gigs.  She even gets to be the local store’s representative in some "New Faces Competition."  And she wins! Of course, this comes with a price, and that’s that Stacey misses a bunch of Snow White rehearsals.  Charlotte’s not happy about this and says she can't do it without her. The other sitters try to help, but Charlotte won’t tell them about the secret magic tongue clicking thing.  But eventually she does agree to let Dawn help her learn her lines.  Then Stacey’s all annoyed that Dawn’s taking her place.

Stacey’s sure she can go to the performance, but winning the contest has led to more jobs, including an opportunity to be in a commercial and go on a trip to Hollywood.  But Stacey finds out she'll have to miss the Snow White performance.  She quits the modelling and shows up at the play just in time to see Charlotte freezing on stage (and by stage, I mean someone's living room).  She clicks her tongue and Charlotte remembers her line and all’s well.  Stacey says she's okay walking away from modelling because anyone can do that, but not just anyone can be in the BSC.  Which is kind of cliquey if you think about it.

High/Lowlights
  • There’s a mention of the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant and how Charlotte totally flamed out during her performance.  And yet, the girls still think it’s a good idea to cast her as the lead in the play.  Just because she looks the part? They must have a bunch of dark-haired girls who would love to do it.  Why force Charlotte to do something she doesn’t want to do?
  • When Stacey gets a sitting job for Charlotte, Stacey’s all, “great, she’s my favorite.”  As if the other girls in the room didn’t already know Charlotte was her favorite.
  • There’s a line about Stacey liking Bill Cosby, which I think is actually good continuity with the books.  I remember one where she and Becca are watching The Cosby Show.  I have no other comment on Bill Cosby…. 
  • Kristy says how she would hate modeling, because she even hated to pose for pictures at her mom’s wedding.  But I remember her being surprisingly excited about getting to dress up for that wedding.  I know that’s not the same as posing for pictures, but still.
  • Stacey spends ages deciding what to wear for the first meeting with the photographer, and then we see her getting her picture taken in it.  Wouldn’t they give her something to wear? I can see picking out a nice outfit because she wants to make an impression, I just think they’d have her change for the photos, even if it’s a test.
  • It’s a cute scene, but I can’t believe Stacey would ask the other BSC members what to wear.  She’s Ms. Fashionista, would she really need to ask Mallory or Kristy how she looked?  I can only see that happening if she ignored their advice.
  • There’s a young boy who refuses to wear tights in the play, but I can’t figure out who he’s supposed to be.  It’s bothering me.
  • When Stacey walks into the Snow White performance, it sort of seems like Charlotte’s first scene, because you’d think that’s when stage freight would start.  Except it’s the scene where Snow White wakes up at the dwarves’ house.  So did she perform fine at the beginning and then just lose it?
  • Jackie Rodowski’s supposed to be one year younger than Charlotte, but the actor looks a lot older to me.
  • Surprisingly absent in all this is Mrs. McGill.  Stacey goes to the test shoot and all her jobs by herself.  Her only supporter at the contest is the BSC. And even when she quits she’s alone.  Wouldn’t there be contracts and stuff a parent was needed for?
  • There’s a scene where the BSC’s eating at a pizza place, and Charlotte comes in with her mom.  Stacey walks over, has this whole conversation with Charlotte and Dr. Johanssan doesn’t even acknowledge her.  It’s kind of funny, actually.  We do hear Stacey saying good-bye to her, but I guess that actress wasn’t allowed to talk or something, because she doesn’t say it back or even smile at her.
  • I wouldn’t expect the BSC’s play to be in some big theater, but it’s literally in someone’s living room.  Stacey shouldn’t have needed to click her tongue, Charlotte would have just seen her.  And I don’t think I see any parents in the audience for this play, which seems odd.  Do they have a maximum number of adults they can hire?
  • Kristy plays Prince Charming in the play.  In case you are curious.
  • The woman who seems to be Stacey’s agent seems to work for Bellairs (that department store in Stoneybrook).  Because she picks Stacey to be the store’s representative in the contest.  Then she also seems to be hosting the contest, which seems like an unfair bias.  But maybe I misunderstood and it was a contest to pick the face for the store?


Friday, March 20, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode 2: Dawn and the Haunted House

Recap
The title of this episode’s kind of misleading.  It’s called Dawn and the Haunted House but is really about Dawn thinking some old woman’s a witch.   Witches are not the same as ghosts, and ghosts are who haunt things.  It starts with the girls are on their bikes, we see them go past a house that Mrs. Slade, this older woman, lives.  Dawn thinks she’s a witch because….she’s old, I guess?  Gives off a creepy vibe? It’s not really elaborated on. 

The girls get a sitting job for a new client thatlives next-door to Mrs. Slade.  Dawn and Stacey both go on the first job, because apparently on the TV show they send two sitters for 3 kids. While sitting, the little boy that lives there says he thinks Mrs. Slade’s creepy.  Stacey and Dawn take this as some kind of evidence or something.  Then they see a “weird” rock garden in the woods behind her house and think it’s an animal graveyard or something.

Meanwhile, Claudia failed a test at school and her parents are insisting she buckle down and get better, otherwise she’ll have to quit the BSC.  She doesn’t tell the rest of the club.  But her parents to get her a tutor to help.  We don’t  hear who the tutor is, but it is obviously going to turn out to be Mrs. Slade.

At the second job at the Slade’s, Mary Anne sand Stacey see Claudia inside Mrs. Slade’s house.  They think she’s been kidnapped or something, so they come up with a plan to “save” her.  Stacey calls Mrs. Slade to say she saw a hurt dog outside, and Mrs. Slade goes to look for it, since animals are her thing.  Then the rest of the club goes into her house to get Claudia.  Claud’s all, “guys, she’s my tutor. She’s really nice.”  Then Dawn and everyone else feels guilty and they go to find Mrs. Slade so she doesn’t spend all night looking for the imaginary hurt dog.  They apologize and Claudia kind of insults them when telling Mrs. Slade they thought she was a witch.  And Claudia aces her science test so she gets to stay in the club. 

High/Lowlights
  • These girls use “KL5” in the poster they put up for the BSC.  Isn’t that a bit….dated?
  • For the record the full number is KL5-3231.
  • It occurred to me that it’s kind of creepy for 13-year-olds to just go to the house of someone they never met to baby-sit.  It could be some pervert who just wants to lure young girls to their house.  Perverts must have had some way of finding young girls before the Internet.  If I had kids I wouldn’t let them sit for people I didn’t know.
  • When biking at the beginning, Kristy says they shouldn’t do it because it’s creepy.  They should have given Mary Anne that line, Kristy was never one to get creeped out easily.
  • Claud’s house is white with blue shutters.  That isn’t how I pictured it.
  • At the BSC meeting the girls ask Claudia how she did on her test, and she’s all, “yeah, I did fine.” Then two minutes later someone notices she looks upset and asks if she’s sick.  Seriously, girls, learn to pick up some cues.  She was obviously lying about being sick.  Maybe the script called for Claudia to be a better liar than the actress could pull off.
  • For some reason I had thought this episode was about Dawn’s secret passage, and that she found old letters in it.  I don’t know if I am thinking of another episode, or if I made it up.
  • Someone really studied their BSC history in this episode.  Someone asks if Mal ever had the chicken pox (I guess the kid she’s sitting for had them), and she points out she had them twice.
  • The new clients want two sitters because they have a baby and two little kids but so did the Perkins and the Papadakises.  They never needed two sitters.  It’s obviously because they wanted the girls to be able to talk to each other (they can’t have an inner monologue like in the books), but they should come up with a better excuse.
  • If the Kishi’s hate junk food why do they have a full cookie jar in their kitchen?
  • Another piece of continuity with the books….Mrs. Kishi mentions she talked to Mr. Kingbridge at school, which was definitely the name of the Vice Principal in the books.
  • These writers are even good with continuity on the show. They talk about the treasury being low because they just spent money on kid kits, which they totally did in the last episode.  But in that episode, they had a surplus, so they should be even now, unless they overspent.
  • The girls are buying supplies for a sleepover, which includes flashlights and candles to make it “spooky.” Okay, that’s weird enough.  (Not the wanting spookiness, but wasting money on flashlights when your parents must have them at home). But then we have Stacey say she loves hardware stores.  Which just seems so counter to everything we know about her.
  • When Dawn’s talking about Mrs. Slade being creepy, she mentions a shovel.  I guess she thinks she uses the shovel to dig her pet cemetery? I don’t know, but when Claudia suggests it’s for gardening, Dawn calls her dumb.  Dawn does not come off very well in this episode.
  • It seems like anytime Claudia got a tutor or spent extra time studying, she did well on tests.  Not to sound all parent-y but she should have just done that all the time.  Don’t just stop using a tutor after one test.
  • Is it me, or is this episode practically the same plot as the first Little Sister book?


Monday, February 23, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 1: Mary Anne and the Brunettes

Recap
I only saw some of the TV episodes/videos as a kid and this wasn't one of them.  But from what I can recall, they were usually original plots that seemed like they could have taken place in a book.   But this first episode has a plot that seemed similar to a combination of books, but with the characters acting less likable.  

This girl at school, Marcy, who’s basically Cokie with a different name, is into Logan even though he and Mary Anne are already dating.  Marcy flirts with Logan in the store and says they should go to a party together.  Logan doesn’t say yes, but he doesn’t really give a firm no either, so Marcy thinks she has a chance.  Kristy witnesses this and tells Mary Anne to watch out and talk to Logan.  Mary Anne says she trusts Logan and doesn’t need to ask him.

Marcy continues to flirt with Logan and taunt Mary Anne about it, and Mary Anne keeps telling the BSC girls she trusts him.  They finally talk her into talking to him, and she practices doing this in the mirror, but thinks that she sounds dumb (and she’s right).   The next day they’re at a fair at school and Logan asks Mary Anne about details for a baby-sitting job they were supposed to be doing together that afternoon.  Mary Anne’s all, “If you’d rather go to the party that’s fine with me.” And Logan’s all, “WTF?” and totally doesn’t know how to answer her.  Then inside the fair, Marcy makes some snarky comment to Mary Anne about how Logan’s a good kisser.  Mary Anne throws a pie in her face, it’s kind of awesome. She just happened to have a pie in her hand because there was some kind of pie throwing booth.

Later Mary Anne’s sitting for the Rodowsky’s (at the job Logan was supposed to help with) and he shows up.  Mary Anne’s kind of rude to him, but when he asks what’s wrong she says nothing, instead of asking if he really kissed Marcy.  So Logan leaves, but then Jackie talks some sense into her.  That’s right the “Walking Disaster” talks sense into Mary Anne.  Maybe because he’s played by Little Pete he has more wisdom?

Anyway, I guess Mary Anne goes to find him to talk about it (after Mrs. Rodowsky is home), and while she’s doing that Logan comes back to look for her.  But they ultimately find each other and talk and work things out.  Meanwhile, Kristy and Marcy argue at the party and Kristy ends up squirting Marcy with a hose.  Then Kristy and the other girls go to look for Mary Anne to tell her Logan’s a jerk, but find her already made up with Logan who has proven himself to not be a jerk afterall.  So all is well.

High/Lowlights
  • I really like that when they show a BSC meeting, all the girls are sitting exactly how they are described in the books.  Kristy’s in the director’s chair, Stacey’s backwards in the desk chair, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Claudia are on the bed, and poor Jessi and Mallory are on the floor.  Here we see Jessi and Mal on big pillows on the floor, which is not how I pictured it.   But still, it’s really accurate.
  • At the beginning of the episode we get a little introduction to the girls by hearing Kristy talk about a crazy sitting job they’ve had recently.  Mallory’s job involved sitting for someone named Christopher, and I honestly can’t think of any kid they sat for that was ever named Christopher.  The other names mentioned are all very specifically people from the books.
  • Kristy’s intro has her being surprised to find out she had to watch a pig.  Literally, a pig.  But I don’t buy that because after the first book where she accidentally had to watch dogs, didn’t she always insist on getting lots of information from the parents?
  • Mary Anne’s super-wimpy in this episode.  In the books she was always shy but not really wimpy.  And she usually didn’t have an issue telling people why she was angry, but I guess that was more with the girls than Logan.  It did take her an entire book to break up with him.
  • Mary Anne’s also weirdly passive aggressive, I wouldn’t have blamed Logan if he dumped her.  She says she doesn’t want to ask Logan about Marcy, but then acts all snippy with him and says he should go to the party if he wants.  When Logan asks what’s wrong she won’t even tell him.  Sigh. 13-year-olds.
  • While Mary Anne’s wimpy and passive aggressive, Logan still shouldn’t let other girls be so flirty with him.
  • The party Marcy wants Logan to be her date for is a costume party.  She and her friends dress as hippies and the BSC dresses as football players.  I can see Kristy dressing like a football player, but not the rest of the girls.  Especially not Claudia and Stacey.  Claudia would dress like children’s book characters as part of her daily routine, there’s no way she would wear a costume as mundane as a football player.
  • It’s very convenient that Mary Anne happened to have a pie in her hand when Marcy taunted her.  I have never been that lucky.  But this also brings me to a very important lesson, which is never insult a person who’s holding a weapon (or something that could get used as a weapon).
  • Speaking of that, there are two incidents of physical attacks in this episode that happen on school property.  Mary Anne throwing the pie and Kristy using the hose.  In re-reading some childhood books as an adult I have seen lots of incidents where the main characters actually do pretty crappy things to the so-called villains.  Marcy was a bitch, and it’s fun seeing her get comeuppance, but objectively, the attacks seem kind of over the top, and I’m sure if they happened in real life both girls would get in trouble. God, I’m getting old.
  • For a TV show, I think the casting here is generally pretty good.  Most people look how I pictured them.  However, it really bothers me that the girl who plays Mary Anne is so tall.  I think she’s one of the tallest of the girls on the show, which is just not right.  She otherwise does seem to look like I pictured Mary Anne.  But I don’t get why they couldn’t find someone who looked similar and was shorter.  It’s the first episode so it’s not like the cast a short girl and she grew.  And I can’t believe this girl was so much better as an actor than everyone else who auditioned.  She’s not bad, but she’s nothing fantastic either.
  • Also, the girl who plays Claudia doesn’t look at all Asian.  I know there’s not just one way to look Asian, but the way Claudia’s described in the books, it is as looking pretty traditional Japanese-American.
  • Logan also says he was only doing a science project with Marcy and never said he was into her.  But he could have been less hesitant.  And he said he never agreed to go.  So that means either he just never answered her at all and/or Marcy’s just delusional.
  • Marcy has two mean girl underlings, and all three have brown hair.  Hence the stupid title of this episode.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

“I’m not very good at guy things”……..California Diaries # 15: Ducky Diary Three

Recap
It’s summer and Ducky’s spending his time working at Sunny’s dad’s bookstore and hanging out with Sunny.  They’re getting along well, but Ducky starts to think Sunny’s acting weird/different.  He can’t figure it out, but then Brandan (Amalia’s boyfriend) asks him if they’re dating. Ducky laughs it off, but then realizes that maybe that explains these looks Sunny has been giving him.  Sunny asks Ducky to go to the movies, and says they shouldn’t invite anyone else.  At the end of the evening, Sunny kisses him, and Ducky completely freezes.  Sunny goes home and Ducky freaks out for the rest of the book. 

It turns out that it was Ducky’s first kiss, and while he really likes Sunny as a friend, he just wasn’t into kissing her.  Sunny tries to act like it was no big deal, but Ducky can tell she’s hurt and things get a little weird between them.  Ducky tries talking to his brother and then Brandan about the situation and they’re both like, “if you aren’t attracted to her don’t force it,” but Ducky still feels really guilty about it.  He talks to Dawn too, who says it’s too bad, but that she thinks Sunny will get over it and they’ll be friends again.

Eventually Ducky does talk to Sunny and she tells him she wishes she could unkiss him because she hates how he looks scared every time he looks at her now.  Ducky says he was just worried about hurting her feelings and he thinks they’re meant to be best friends.  And it looks like Sunny’s okay with that and they’re on track to get back to how things were.

Meanwhile Maggie has been having a rough time because of her mom’s drinking.  Her dad’s out of town for work, and one night Maggie calls Ducky late and asks him to come pick her up.  So, Ducky does and when he gets there he hears Mrs. Blume screaming and smashing things inside, and so he takes Maggie and her little brother back to his place.  The next day Maggie calls her dad and insists he come deal with things.  He actually does, and arranges an intervention for Mrs. Blume, which ends with her going to rehab.  Now her mother’s issues are one thing I don’t blame Maggie for complaining about, so I guess it’s nice that progress was made.  But I’m sure Maggie will find something new to complain about that’s annoying.

The book ends with Ducky having an end of summer party at his place with the girls and Brandan and they all seem really happy.  So, I guess that’s a nice way to end the series.

High/Lowlights
  • Ducky says how it’s weird that he’s a 16-year-old boy who likes shopping.  He mentions how he didn’t intend to go shopping, just hang out at the mall, but Sunny dragged him into stores.  But isn’t hanging out at the mall basically shopping anyway?
  • Ducky thinks there’s no right way to answer the question, “Do I look fat?”  I’m pretty sure there’s always a right way to answer that. “No.” Always say, “No, you don’t look fat.”  I’m sure women ask plenty of questions with no good answer, but asking about fatness isn’t one of them.
  • Brandan and Ducky seem to be developing a friendship, which is nice because Ducky was previously upset about losing his childhood male friends, one who turned into a douche and one who tried to kill himself (and who’s still off in whatever hospital he went to in Ducky’s last book). 
  • When having lunch with Brandan, Ducky thinks they should be talking about sports (because that’s what guys do), so he asks about the WNBA.  It makes me wonder if he knew he was asking about a womens’ league because it seems like a weird thing to talk about when trying to be manly.  But luckily Brandan’s not into sports either.
  • Sunny apparently dreams of finding a retro bowling shirt with her name on it.   That’s a sad dream.  I guess it must be annoying to have a rare name and never be able to find stuff like that, but as someone with a very common name, it’s also annoying to always need to include your last name as an identifier.
  • Sunny does find a retro gym shirt, but the name on it says “Elaine.” She wears it anyway.  I’m not sure what a “gym shirt” is but I’m guessing it’s ugly.
  • Ducky wonders if his brother Ted went to school to be an obnoxious big brother.  I’m pretty sure that obnoxiousness is just an ingrained trait of being an older brother.  Ted’s a lot nicer than my brother ever was.
  • Maggie and her brother Zeke don’t understand why their father’s always away and think they should matter more than his movies.  But I have to say, I never got the sense that Mr. Blume was an absentee father, more that he always wanted his kids to do exactly what he wanted. 
  • But speaking of actual absentee parents, Ducky’s parents are still off somewhere for work and haven’t been around for months. They still call a lot, and once mention that they’re thinking of a cooking class vacation.  Now, I don’t mean to judge, but if I had a job that kept me away from my family for 11 months of the year, I might use my vacation to see my kids.  I mean, I don’t have kids so I can’t be sure, but I like to think I’d be a decent person like that.
  • Ducky and Brandan’s friendship means we get a bit of an update on the Amalia/Brandan relationship.  Amalia has been distant since Brandan got back from camp, and he’s worried about it.  It turns out to be because she thinks he’s too good for her, and Ducky helps her see that isn’t the case, and things seem to get better for them.
  • I really wish this wasn’t the last book, because I’d really like to hear Sunny’s side of the story about her kiss with Ducky.
  • There’s surprisingly little Dawn in this book, considering it’s the last one and she was the person who started the spinoff.  At the beginning she’s back in Stoneybrook, but she returns pretty early in the story.  There’s only one really decent scene with her and that’s when she’s talking to Ducky about Sunny. But I’d like to have heard more of her perspective on things too.
So….this is the last California Diaries book, and I was planning on ending my reviews, mainly because I have no time anymore.  But it just doesn’t feel right, so I am going to try and recap the BSC TV series.  I think it will actually be more fun because I watched most of those episodes back when I was a kid, so I’ll be able to go back to doing memory reactions versus current reactions.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

“I forgot who I was on that Friday outside the cineplex”…..California Diaries # 14: Amalia Diary Three

Recap
It’s approaching the end of the school year and Amalia’s feeling a bit pressured.  She’s trying to study for finals, thinking about a summer job, and is working with her sister to plan a surprise anniversary party for their parents.   She also has the painful job of being Maggie’s friend, and having to listen to her complain about her poor little rich girl life.  Maggie spends a lot of time at Amalia’s house to get away from her fighting parents, and it starts to get on Amalia’s nerves.

Amalia’s out on a date with this guy Brandan, whom she met in her last book.  After the movie they are waiting outside for Amalia’s sister to pick them up.  The sister’s late, and the theater’s locking up for the night, when Brandan runs back in to use the bathroom.  The usher offers to let Amalia wait inside, but she says she’ll wait out front.  It’s late so not many people are around when a group of teenage girls walk up and start making racist comments to Amalia for being Latina.  They start pushing her around and one girl actually spits in her face before the usher comes outside and breaks things up.  Then Brandan comes back and her sister shows up and they hear what happens.  Everyone is appropriately concerned.

Anyway, Amalia deals with this for the rest of the book.  She doesn’t want to call the police even though others encourage her.  But she is pretty miserable for awhile.  Her sister tells her about a similar event that happened to her before they moved to Palo Alto and how she regrets not telling anyone about it at the time.  This helps Amalia see that she still has her dignity and that no one can take that from her. She even sees one of the girls who attacked her on the beach one day, and is fine with it and continues enjoying her day.

Amalia and Maggie also get into a fight because Maggie’s father offered both girls summer jobs working on some movie set and Maggie thinks this is just awful of him.  Amalia’s all “WTF, I’d take that job” and it leads to a bigger fight.  But they make up at the end.  However, Amalia acknowledges that they still have some differences that they don’t understand about each other.  Mainly that Maggie thinks her rich white girl problems are worse than any stress Amalia will ever deal with.

At the end, Amalia does well enough on her finals, cements her relationship with Brandan, and has a great time at her parents’ anniversary party.

High/Lowlights
  • Amalia has the worst luck.  First she dates an abusive guy then she gets beat up and spit on by a bunch of racist girls?  I think she ranks right below Sunny in terms of problems the people in this series deal with.
  • Brandan’s going to camp for most of the summer, in Massachusetts.  He grew up in NJ and has gone to the camp every year and is going to be a CIT.  For some reason I was hoping they would reveal the name of the camp was Camp Mohawk (even though I can’t remember what state that was in).
  • I forgot that Amalia’s diaries have all these annoying cartoon-y drawing to illustrate things that are happening instead of just writing everything.  They are more annoying than Maggie’s “poetry” because with those poems, you can skip them and still get the story.  But Amalia’s cartoons explain key events.  And she kind of sucks as an artist.
  • I mentioned this in the book where he was introduced, but Brandan’s from Short Hills, NJ, which is like two towns over from where I grew up.  That makes me smile for some reason. 
  • It’s a plot device to make Maggie and Amalia fight, but I kind of can’t believe that a movie producer would just hire 13-year-old girls to work on set.  There are strict laws about child actors, so why would they want to hire more kids? Especially when they can use college students as “interns” to get totally free labor.
  • So right after the incident with the racist girls Amalia’s annoyed with Brandan for taking so long inside and leaving her alone.  But afterwards she’s surprised to hear Brandan has been blaming himself for what happened.  I guess the initial reaction was just her first irrational thought and later she’s seeing it more objectively?
  • The story Amalia’s sister tells about what happened to her isn’t nearly as bad as what happened to Amalia.  It was really just that the sister’s ex-boyfriend was joking around with some other girls about how he was on “vacation from white girls” until she moved.  Which is a really crappy thing to say, but it’s not physical or anything.
  • I can’t believe Maggie has the nerve to tell a girl who got hit by random girls on the street she doesn’t have problems as bad as an eating disorder and a dysfunctional family.  I wouldn’t even call Maggie’s family that dysfunctional.
  • Maggie insists that her limo driver always pick her up around the corner from school so she doesn’t have to get seen being rich.  As though everyone in that school doesn’t already know who her dad is.
  • There’s also a subplot about how Sunny and Ducky are planning a going away party for Dawn (who’s going back to Stoneybrook for the summer).  But their surprise plans keep getting leaked to Dawn before they can carry them out.  In the end they just kidnap her and take her to the beach.
  • At the beginning of the book they are talking about the party as a going away thing, but at the end Amalia starts talking about Dawn’s birthday present.  So, that’s a weird continuity mistake I think.  Like they forgot what they were doing by the end of the book (or like two different people wrote it).
  • Amalia’s annoyed because her English teacher tells her that their final exam’s going to be essay questions selected at random from everything they did that year.  And Amalia doesn’t like that it means she has to know everything.  I guess I’m old, because I just thought that was the whole point of a final.
  • I guess Maggie has been making progress with her therapist because after finals she thinks she aced all of them, rather than assuming she failed only to get a 98 like she used to do.  But I still wish there wasn’t so much Maggie in all of Amalia’s books.
  • Amalia’s nervous about failing her tests and having to repeat 8th grade. I guess she’s new to this never aging thing in the BSC-verse.