October 21, 2017

The X-Files 6.8, The Rain King: “You’re Not Just a Weatherman, You’re THE Weatherman”

Posted in TV tagged at 1:21 pm by Jenn

Look how concerned he is that Scully’s seeing this

Summary: A woman named Sheila signs a valentine, leaving a lipstick print on it. It’s Valentine’s Day, and Sheila’s in Kroner, Kansas, eating candy and watching TV. She tunes in for Holman Hardt’s weather forecast, turning it off when her fiancé, Daryl, comes home. He’s upset that she put a marriage announcement in the newspaper, since he thought they were going to keep it quiet until business picked up. Since it hasn’t rained in a while, and there’s no rain in the forecast, he’s not optimistic.

Daryl slams Sheila for eating candy, since her butt is already getting big. He goes out to his car, mocking Sheila’s assurance that it’ll rain soon. Sheila puts on the radio, which is playing “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Daryl listens to the same song in his car, drinking a beer as he drives away. As Sheila cries into her candy, it starts raining outside. Daryl’s happy at first, but the rain turns to hail and breaks his windshield. He crashes his car as heart-shaped hailstones continue to fall from the sky.

Six months later, Mulder and Scully arrive in Kroner via a prop plane. They’re greeted by the town’s mayor, Jim Gilmore, and a young baton twirler. Gilmore apologizes for not arranging better accommodations, but he didn’t realize Mulder would be bringing his wife with him. He also apologizes for the poor welcoming committee. Gilmore tells the agents that drought has devastated the town, and Daryl is profiting by charging people for rain. You can hire him to come to your farm and do his “dog and pony show,” and it’ll rain. Gilmore thinks he’s causing the drought so he can make money.

Scully’s starting to get why Mulder didn’t tell her the reason they were coming to Kroner. He denies that he “intentionally misled” her. Kroner seems to be “ground zero for extreme weather,” and if Daryl is controlling it for profit, he’s a criminal, so they’re right to investigate. Scully thinks the people of Kroner are just frustrated and looking for a scapegoat. Mulder asks how many scapegoats turn that into a business – specifically, Rain King, Inc.

They go to Daryl’s office, where Mulder asks to see “the king,” putting an Elvis-ish spin on the word. Daryl’s receptionist tells them he’s out of town, and she’s unwilling to give them any information without a warrant or subpoena. Besides, he’s a hero to Kroner, so the FBI shouldn’t be accusing him of anything nefarious. Holman’s giving a forecast on TV, and the receptionist credits Daryl with the rain Holman says is coming. Scully won’t give up, so the receptionist hands over a client list.

Mulder gets the idea to visit the TV station where Holman does his forecast. Sheila works there and greets them enthusiastically, saying she couldn’t be happier for them. It turns out she’s mistaken them for a couple named the Gundersons who won a contest. Holman takes the agents to his office and raves about how awesome it is to be a meteorologist in a place with so much interesting weather. He doubts that Daryl can control the weather, which is all Scully needs to hear.

Mulder asks about the rain, which Holman puns is “a more clouded issue.” Mulder brings out Daryl’s client list – dozens of people are claiming that he made it rain for their farms. Holman says he went to high school with Daryl, and though he’s not very accomplished, it’s true that it rains wherever he goes.

The agents head to a farm, where some people are having a picnic and waiting for Daryl. Scully feels bad for these people who are putting their trust in someone who could be scamming them. Daryl arrives on crutches and chastises his receptionist for bringing him the wrong boot for his prosthetic leg. Mulder asks him to explain his “unique ability,” but Daryl says it’s just a gift. He comes from a line of healers, and his spirituality allows him to connect with the “unseen real.”

The receptionist puts on some music, and Daryl dances around, saying he communicates with his ancestors (he’s 1/64th Cherokee) to bring rain. Scully walks away, done with this craziness. Mulder notes that plenty of Native Americans in the past performed rain dances; Daryl’s just doing the same thing. Scully doubts that the rain dancers in the past looked quite this stupid. She doesn’t think that Daryl looks like a man who can control the weather. She has to stop talking when it suddenly starts raining.

At the TV station, Sheila chats with Holman about their upcoming 20th high school reunion. She wishes the agents would leave Daryl alone. It turns out that she and Daryl have broken up; he was only with her for her money. Holman can’t believe that she still loves him after that. It looks like he wishes she would love him instead.

Scully has trouble sleeping, thanks to the noise caused by the rainstorm outside. Mulder’s still awake by choice, eating sunflower seeds and reading up on tornadoes in Kroner. He gets up to close a window and sees a cow being pulled into the air by one of those tornadoes. It comes crashing back down right through the roof over his motel room. R.I.P., Bessie or Elsie or whoever you were.

The next morning, Mulder’s things are moved into Scully’s room, since the rest of the rooms in the motel are booked for the high school reunion, and the people working there think Mulder and Scully are dating anyway. Mulder thinks Daryl tried to kill him with the cow on purpose, to try to scare off the FBI. Scully asks if he was checked for head trauma. Holman shows up and blames the cow incident on a regular old tornado. Sheila arrives next and announces that she’s to blame for Mulder’s near death by bovine.

Scully tries to ease Sheila’s guilt, but she says this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. The high school was destroyed by a tornado the night of the senior prom. On her wedding day, it snowed, even though it was July. Three years later, the day her divorce was finalized, the clouds in the sky looked like they were laughing at her. In the ten years since, nothing has happened until last night. The agents learn that Sheila and Daryl were engaged until six months ago, when he crashed during the hail storm and lost his leg.

Mulder promises Sheila that none of the weird weather is her fault. She says she wants to believe him. A medic who heard the whole conversation tells Mulder that the hail didn’t cause Daryl’s accident – he was drunk. No one said anything because he’d already been punished enough by losing his leg. Holman is shocked to hear this. Out at a farm, Daryl brags to his receptionist about his powers of concentration and his ability to make it rain. Then the rain stops.

At their motel, Mulder shows Scully an old newspaper article about a time it rained rose petals. Scully tells him there’s no case, and he himself told Sheila she wasn’t controlling the weather. Mulder continues that Holman’s mother died the day of the flower shower. Every time there’s a big meteorological event, he’s hospitalized for exhaustion. He thinks Holman is controlling the weather. If people with seasonal affective disorder can be drastically by the weather, why can’t the opposite be true? Maybe he has feelings that he’s not expressing, and they come out in the weather.

Holman wants to get those feelings out the right way, telling Sheila that he’s in love with her. He practices making his declaration, getting interrupted when Sheila calls to tell him that she’s decided she’s over Daryl. She wants someone who makes her feel safe, someone she can talk to. Then she confides that she’s decided to pursue Mulder. Holman responds with a lightning storm.

Mulder goes to see Holman the next day, asking him to get help for his problems: “You’re not just a weatherman, you’re the weatherman,” Mulder says. Holman says that if he could control the weather, he would end the drought. Mulder doesn’t think he can control his abilities, and in fact, his emotions make the weather go out of control. He needs to express his feelings for Sheila. Holman confirms Mulder’s theory, confiding that he accidentally destroyed the school when he found Sheila getting it on with her boyfriend. But how can he, a frog, telling Sheila, a swan, he wants to be with her?

Scully calls her partner (“Mulder, it’s me”) to tell him they’re not going to be able to leave Kroner as planned, thanks to thick fog. “Holman!” Mulder chastises. He tells Scully that Holman wants his dating advice. Scully’s speechless, then asks the last time Mulder went on a date. “I will talk to you later,” Mulder replies, hanging up on her. (If you can find this scene, please watch it, because I can’t do it justice here. Duchovny and Anderson’s delivery makes it gold.)

Daryl learns from his receptionist that his business isn’t doing well. She tells him he’s like Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain, who “shined too bright for too short a time.” But she’ll still tell their future kids how awesome he was. Daryl’s distressed about his money woes, but the receptionist isn’t worried – she can always go back to Dairy Queen, where she was making almost $6 an hour. Daryl has another idea, knowing that Sheila has money. He decides it’s time to break up with the receptionist and go back to his former fiancée.

At the TV station, Holman tells Mulder that he’s always been envious of men like him who have so much experience. After all, Mulder gets to spend all day with the “beautiful, enchanting” Scully. He’s surprised that the partners have never hooked up, especially since they seem to gaze at each other. Mulder claims he’s happy enough just being friends with Scully. He takes Holman to Sheila in hopes that the drought will end if Holman tells her how he feels. As a P.S., Mulder says he doesn’t gaze at Scully.

Holman starts to bare his soul to Sheila, declaring his love, but she thinks he just means as a friend. It starts raining, and Mulder thinks Holman succeeded, but Holman tells him that Sheila said she’s in love with Mulder. She tells Daryl the same thing when he comes by to try to get her back. Daryl doesn’t get the appeal and takes a swing at Mulder. Sheila yells at him to avoid Mulder’s face, which is a good priority. Since Daryl’s drunk, Mulder doesn’t have much trouble ducking his punches and subduing him. Scully and Holman come around the corner just in time to see Sheila thanking Mulder with a kiss.

The fog has lifted, so now Mulder and Scully can go home. Mulder, who’s covered in Sheila’s lipstick, sees on Holman’s weather radar that thunderstorms are moving in, so their flight is probably canceled. The reunion is still on, with a Wizard of Oz theme, though people have to avoid the buckets placed around the high school gym to catch leaks. The agents show up looking for Holman, who says the thunderstorms aren’t his fault.

Sheila asks Mulder to dance, but the agents get her to dance with Holman instead. He finally tells Sheila that he’s been in love with her since high school. Mulder and Scully watch them from a distance, swaying back and forth, either to get a better view of them or because they like the song. When Sheila runs off, Mulder jokes that he’ll build an ark if Scully gathers the animals.

Scully follows Sheila to the bathroom and tells her Mulder’s theory about Holman and the weather. Sheila thinks Scully’s just jealous because Sheila and Mulder have a “special connection.” Daryl shows up to the reunion, looking for Sheila. Scully tells her that she and Mulder aren’t involved, and Holman really does want to be with her. Sheila’s surprised, since she and Holman have only ever been friends. Scully thinks that the best relationships are ones that start out as friendships. One day, you see something new in your friend, and the friend becomes the only person you want to be with.

The storm drains are filling up from all the rain, and the bathroom sinks back up and start to flood. The women leave the bathroom as Mulder and Daryl fight in the gym. The power goes out as Daryl passes out, claiming he could take on Mulder if he had two legs. Sheila comes back to the gym and confirms that Holman can affect the weather. She kisses him and tells him that’s the most romantic thing she’s ever heard. As they kiss again, sparks fly and the rain stops.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” comes over the sound system and everyone starts dancing. The receptionist comes to bring Daryl his leg back, and the two of them make up. Mulder asks Holman how it went, and Holman replies, “You should try it sometime.” A year later, Holman and Sheila have a baby, and the skies over Kroner are beautiful, with a rainbow right outside the family’s window.

Thoughts: Gilmore is played by Dirk Blocker (Hitchcock on Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I love the running joke of everyone thinking Mulder and Scully are a couple. I also love that, while Scully corrects everyone, Mulder says nothing until he’s talking to Holman.

Mulder: “I do not gaze at Scully.” Everyone who’s ever seen an episode of the show: “Uh-huh.”

Having a Wizard of Oz-themed reunion right after a tornado was a rough coincidence, but it’s Kansas, so that probably happens a lot.


October 17, 2017

SVT Super Edition #9, The Twins Go to College: This Isn’t the Kind of Pot I Expected Jessica to Do

Posted in books tagged , at 5:01 pm by Jenn


Summary: Jessica’s ready for a mindless summer of shopping and tanning, but when she and Elizabeth get accepted into a two-week study program at SVU, Ned and Alice tell her she’s going. They’ll be vacationing in Grand Canyon, no kids allowed, and Steven will be at basketball camp, so Jess has no choice. She’s devastated, and it doesn’t help when the Unicorns amusingly throw her a mini-funeral to mourn the loss of her summer. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is excited to take one class for two weeks, live in the dorms, and basically get a taste of what college will be like (minus the love triangles and attempted murder).

Ned and Alice take the girls to SVU and proceed to talk nonstop about their time there. The twins try to rush them along so they can sign up for their classes before all the slots fill up. Elizabeth will be taking a course on Romantic poetry (that’s Romantic with a capital R, as in odes and nature and stuff, not love), while Jessica has settled on ceramics, since she thinks it’ll be easy. Thanks to a broken clock tower, the girls are able to get rid of their parents an hour ahead of schedule.

They get the classes they want, then meet their roommates. Elizabeth’s is a girl named Marion whose parents are both detectives. She’s learned her parents’ tricks and become a master of disguise and observation. I kind of love her. She’s taking a criminology course, which I think I would choose if I were in this program. Jessica’s roommate, Susan, is AWFUL. She’s a snob from L.A. who thinks Jessica’s beneath her because she wears jeans and T-shirts. She’s Lila cranked up to 11, without the class.

The girls meet a guy named Mike who’s at SVU for a few days before he and his fellow Nature Scouts go on a canoe trip. Jessica likes him, but Susan quickly steals him, so now Jess hates her even more. Elizabeth is next to meet a guy, encountering a kid on a bridge and quoting poetry with him. She doesn’t get his name, but she’s in luuuuuuuuuuuv.

Jessica’s hopeful about her ceramics class, thanks to all the cute guys there, but when she starts actually working, she realizes it won’t be as easy as she’d hoped. Just making a clay pot takes a lot of concentration and control. She ends up covered in clay and embarrassed in front of her new classmates. Liz, meanwhile, gets a shock in her poetry class – it’s taught by her poetry buddy. His name is Ethan, and he’s a student and TA at SVU, which means he’s too old for Elizabeth.

Jessica comes across a gallery on campus and chats with an old woman who tells her about a curse pot. To mess with someone you hate, you can make an imperfect pot with the face of your enemy etched into it, along with some symbols. Firing the pot will trap the person’s spirit inside it. As she’s leaving, Jess runs into a guy transporting her classmates’ work and accidentally breaks some of it. So far, this summer isn’t going great for Jessica.

Inspired by Marion’s skill with disguises, Elizabeth decides to try to land Ethan by pretending to be someone else – specifically, someone older. She calls her new alter ego Geraldine and decides she talks like a southern belle from a few decades ago. She’s supposed to be 18, by the way. I would love to know how the characters in Elizabeth’s stories talk.

Jess decides she’s done with the study program (wow, she almost lasted an entire day!), so she packs a bag and heads for the bus stop. She’s missed the last bus home for the day, but it’s not a complete bust: She sees Elizabeth leaving a boutique in her new Geraldine clothes and decides to follow her. Liz goes to SVU’s snack bar and chats with Ethan, pretending to be her own older sister. They arrange to hang out later in the week and discuss poetry.

Jess gives ceramics another try, this time making a pretty decent-looking pot. She etches Susan’s face in it and turns it into a curse pot. She fires it with Bernard, the guy she ran into who was transporting the other pots. Meanwhile, Ethan tells Liz that he met Geraldine, then asks her to come along when the two of them hang out. Liz says she can’t go. Marion figures out what she’s up to and seems amused by the whole thing. Susan doesn’t come back to her and Jessica’s room that night, and she’s not around the next morning. Jessica is a little confused but doesn’t give it much thought.

Ethan and Elizabeth chat after a class, and he tells her that he thinks she’s more suited to Romantic poetry than Geraldine is, just from the way Geraldine talks. Way to insult your student’s sister, dude. Liz realizes she needs to quit it with always saying “my, my!” and “indeed” as Geraldine. Yeah, I’d say so. Jess has lunch with Bernard and later finds a poem in her pocket called Ode to Blue-Green Eyes. She figures it’s from Bernard, since she was just with him, but it’s obvious to the reader that it’s from Ethan, and he mistook Jess for Liz.

Susan is still MIA, and Jess starts to wonder if her curse pot actually did the job what it was supposed to. She goes looking for Elizabeth to fill her in, and finds her hanging out with Ethan, as Geraldine. Liz quickly pretends that Jessica is her. Jess plays along, hoping that in exchange, she’ll get a favor in the future. She mentions the poem she found in her pocket, and again, it’s clear to the reader that Ethan wrote it, but the twins don’t catch on.

Jessica pressures/threatens Elizabeth into helping her find the woman from the gallery so she can learn more about curse pots. Marion helps them get into the gallery after hours, but they have to hide from a guard and can’t get to the curse pot. The next day, Bernard tells Jessica that someone broke into the gallery and stole the pot. Jess is shocked, since it was there when she, Liz, and Marion broke in, and she knows none of them took it. She asks about the old woman, and Bernard offers to try to get contact information for her.

Ethan mentions Ode to Blue-Green Eyes to Liz, who has no idea what he’s talking about. He invites her and Geraldine to a concert on campus that night. Liz tries to bow out so only Geraldine will go, but Ethan insists. Elizabeth gets Jess to agree to play her again, and Jess gets Liz to agree to go with her to see the old woman, Hatta. The mystery of the missing curse pot is quickly solved, as Hatta took it. She made it, so she figures she can do what she wants with it. Jessica tells her that she made her own curse pot but now wants to reverse the curse. Hatta isn’t sure she can.

When the girls are back at their dorm, Ethan calls to tell Elizabeth that he got a fourth ticket to the concert, so she should bring Jessica along. Of course, Jess is already planning to play Liz while Liz plays Geraldine, so they’re all out of twins. But Marion looks enough like the twins and can mimic Jessica’s characteristics well enough to pass herself off as Jess. It seems like a foolproof plan until Bernard joins them and easily IDs “Elizabeth” as Jessica, and Marion as an imposter. All three girls fake stomachaches and flee.

Jess finds another poem in her pocket, and Liz starts figuring out that Ethan is writing the poetry. Good job, Nancy Drew! However, she thinks Ethan likes Jessica. She’s surprised when Marion tells her that obviously Ethan likes Elizabeth – the real Elizabeth, not Geraldine. This is gross, because he knows Liz is 12, but I think it’s supposed to seem sweet.

Ethan confirms his crush after the next class. He also reveals that he’s 16, and the Doogie Howser of SVU’s English department. So there’s only a four-year age difference between him and Liz, which is less gross than when she thought he was at least 18, but still gross enough. Fortunately, both realize that their difference in ages means they shouldn’t date. They agree to just be friends.

The twins, Ethan, and Bernard go back to Hatta’s house, but she’s still not sure how Jess can break the pot’s curse. Her only idea is for Jess to break the pot and leave the pieces in the mud on her riverbank, which is where the clay came from. Maybe if it’s returned to its origins, the curse will be ended. Jessica reluctantly breaks the pot, and the clay seems to pull the pieces into the ground. Moments later, the Nature Scouts appear in canoes, on their way back from their trip. Among them is Susan.

The official story is that Susan decided to ditch the study program after she met Mike. She didn’t bother to tell anyone she was going on the trip with the Nature Scouts, and I guess the school didn’t call her parents when they couldn’t find her, since no one went looking for her. This would have been a better plot if Jessica had said her roommate was missing and everyone else denied that Susan ever existed. Also, Susan doesn’t strike me as the sort of girl who would enjoy a nature trip, so she must have really liked Mike. I wish Jess had just enjoyed that she was gone – she got to have a dorm room all to herself.

Thoughts: Some of the courses offered: Cooking for Fun and Profit, Cruising the Internet, What Really Happened to the Titanic?

This program has no curfew or chaperones, and I really can’t believe so many parents would allow their kids to participate. I suspect they just wanted them out of the house for two weeks.

I’d rather read a series about Marion than the twins.

October 14, 2017

The X-Files 6.7, Terms of Endearment: Definitive Proof That Children Are Little Demons

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

Hee hee hee

Summary: A couple has just had a sonogram, and their doctor is breaking the news that that the baby seems to have an abnormal skeletal formation. The husband, Wayne, walks out, upset, and his wife, Laura, tries to tell him it might be nothing. They’ll have to wait and see. The two go home to Hollins, Virginia, and Laura takes a pill and drinks some milk before going to sleep.

A devilish-looking creature suddenly appears, surrounded by flames, and attacks Laura. Wayne has disappeared, and Laura can’t fight off the creature, so she bites it (A for effort, Laura). The creature reaches in and takes the baby, which has horns. It’s a nightmare, and when Laura wakes up, Wayne is next to her in bed again. However, the baby is no longer inside her.

A Hollins deputy, Stevens, gives the case to Spender, having heard that he specializes in weird stuff like this. Stevens happens to be Laura’s brother. Spender promises to make the case a priority, and Stevens is grateful that Laura will have someone who will listen to her. As soon as Stevens leaves the office, Spender shreds the paperwork.

Mulder retrieves the shredded pieces and puts them together, taking the case from Spender and pretending it was assigned to him. Stevens drops him off at Wayne and Laura’s house, thanking the FBI again for looking into things. Laura tells Mulder that the baby had horns and a tail; it was “some kind of monster.” She gets emotional and leaves the room. Wayne tells Mulder that she’s been struggling ever since the doctor told them there were complications. Mulder asks Wayne if he was really in bed with Laura the whole time, since she said he wasn’t. Wayne says that was just in her dream.

Scully’s interviewing a potential FBI agent, Ginsberg, but she doesn’t seem to buy his claim that he’s never smoked pot or spent time with people who have. Mulder calls her (“Scully, it’s me”) to explain why he’s not at work with her. He wants her to look at Laura’s medical charts. Scully thinks Mulder’s act of taking a discarded case out of Spender’s trash isn’t any better than Spender’s decision to get rid of it in the first place. She’s annoyed that he’s off chasing an X-File while she’s stuck doing background checks.

Mulder says this is “a classic case of demon fetal harvest.” Scully tease that she saw Rosemary’s Baby, too. Wayne listens in on their phone conversation via a baby monitor. That night, as a fire burns in an outdoor stove, Wayne digs around in the leaves in the yard. Laura comes out, seeing the fire, and he tells her he was just burning leaves. He was just doing his chores and trying to make things look nice. Yeah, I’ve never seen someone do chores while looking so squirrelly or crying.

The next day, Mulder, who spent the night in his car outside Wayne and Laura’s house, is woken by a call from Scully. She looked at the baby’s medical charts and saw the birth defects, which could have involved horns. Mulder draws horns on a picture of Wayne and asks if he might have passed the defects on to the baby. Scully blames Laura instead – she had an herb called mandrake in her system, and may have tried to self-abort. Thanks to Virginia laws about third-trimester abortion, Mulder can arrest her.

Mulder watches Wayne drive off somewhere while Scully tells him that the couple’s doctor said Laura took the news of the baby’s defects very calmly. Mulder clearly still thinks Wayne had something to do with what happened. Scully warns him to proceed carefully, since this could be an emotional situation. Mulder goes up to the house as Wayne goes to see…his other baby mama! Wayne’s a two-timer!

Stevens and some other deputies come to Laura and Wayne’s, where Mulder has accused Laura of trying to abort her baby. Stevens objects, saying that Laura wouldn’t even have access to mandrake. She says she only took herbal sleep aids. Wayne comes home, and Stevens yells at him for not being there when Laura was being interrogated. Mulder promises Wayne that he’s not trying to hurt Laura – and he knows Wayne would “hate like the devil for that to happen as well.”

Wayne allows the deputies to search the house, which contains a number of health supplements. He decides it’s time to tell Laura that he got out of bed the night the baby was taken, and when he came back to the bedroom, he saw her chanting over their just-born baby. Wayne took the baby from her and burned its body in the outdoor stove to protect her. He knew he couldn’t bring back Wayne Jr., and he didn’t want to lose Laura as well. Just then, the deputies find the baby’s body.

Laura tells the deputies that when she heard about the baby’s defects, she thought she had done something wrong, and that the baby was evil. But she didn’t mean to hurt him; the herbal medication must have been to blame. Mulder eyes Wayne suspiciously as Stevens arrests his sister. “I know what you are,” Mulder tells Wayne as he leaves the house.

Wayne rushes to see his other baby mama, Betsy, who’s about to leave for a sonogram. Oh, and she thinks they’re married. Mulder follows Wayne, who claims he’s on his way to an appointment with a client (he’s in medical insurance and travels a lot for work). Mulder invites himself along on the appointment, so Wayne changes course and goes to a client’s house. He takes some of her blood so he can make sure the woman, Kim, isn’t a “policy risk.”

They chat about kids, and Wayne says he feels like he’s been trying for a baby forever. Kim, however, has been blessed with three perfect boys, even though she calls them monsters. When Wayne leans over, Kim sees little nubs on his neck, like the ones the doctor saw on the baby’s sonogram. He hears a horn honking and looks outside to see Mulder letting Kim’s sons play in Wayne’s convertible.

Wayne comes out and orders the kids out of the car, not acting like someone who loves children as much as he claims. Scully calls Mulder to tell him that Wayne called Kersh to complain that Mulder’s been harassing him. Mulder tells her to tell Kersh that he’s in Hollins doing a background check.

Wayne visits Laura in lockup and tells her that the lawyers he’s been talking to think they can get her acquitted. Laura has found a hole in his story – the baby was found wrapped in her nightgown, but she was still wearing it when she woke up from her nightmare. Also, she remembered something about the creature. Wayne stops her, promising that he just wants to protect her. As he hugs her, she sees wounds in his neck. He grabs her wrists and tells her he wishes she could have been the one. Then he sucks something out of her.

Medics are called to Laura’s cell, where Wayne says she just collapsed. Mulder’s face: “Sure she did, buddy.” The medics revive Laura and rush her to the hospital. Wayne goes to Betsy’s, and she tells him that the doctor found growths on the baby. Like Laura, Betsy isn’t too concerned. And like with Laura, Wayne promises that he loves Betsy no matter what. Why doesn’t he get her some milk before bed?

Scully meets Mulder at the hospital where a comatose Laura has been taken, and she reveals that there’s no medical evidence that Wayne did anything to her. Mulder’s pleased by that – he was hoping the result would be “not a shred of evidence.” He actually did what he said he would, performing a background check on Wayne. He’s actually a Czech national who came to the U.S. in 1984 and was acquitted of the murders of his two previous wives.

In Slavic societies, Wayne’s original name is synonymous with the devil – specifically, a demon that sucks the souls of its victims. Scully admits that men can be demonic, but why would a real demon pretend to be a normal husband and father, just to suck some souls? Mulder doesn’t know, but this makes more sense than any other theory he can come up with.

Wayne fixes up some demon brew for Betsy as a team searches his and Laura’s property for more dead demon babies. Mulder and Scully arrive just as they find a skeleton. Mulder tells Stevens to put out an APB for Wayne, knowing he won’t come back to the house. He tells Scully that Wayne’s trying to breed, and will do or say anything to succeed. He’s killing the demonic babies because he wants a normal child.

Betsy has the same demonic encounter that Laura did, only she knows right away that the demon trying to take her child is really Wayne. Mulder gets a second address for Wayne from his office and guesses that he has a second wife. He probably uses his job to screen potential wives, then “plants as many seeds as he can.” A car almost runs the agents off the road, and they pull over to see Betsy getting out of Wayne’s convertible. She tells them that her husband took her baby.

The three of them meet up with some deputies and head back to Betsy’s house. Wayne’s digging in the backyard, and when the agents confront him, he laments that he just wanted a normal life and a normal family. He tells them that Betsy took the baby. He starts to say something about his second wife, but Stevens shoots him before he can finish. “I just wanted what everyone wants,” Wayne says.

At the hospital, Stevens tries to keep his sister and brother-in-law separated, but Mulder tells him to calm down, since he’s already in enough trouble. He takes Stevens to see Betsy so they can get some answers. Wayne wakes up from surgery, then starts spasming. The soul he sucked from Laura goes back to her body and she wakes up from her coma as Wayne flatlines.

Mulder meets Scully back at the house, where Scully is still excavating demon skeletons. None of these has any defects, and Betsy’s baby isn’t there. Mulder isn’t surprised – he thinks the baby’s were Betsy’s, not Wayne’s. He believes that Betsy killed normal babies to keep Wayne from having what he wanted. Wayne realized that he’d met someone even more evil than he was. Indeed, Betsy heads out of town in Wayne’s car with her newborn demon, pleased that she kept Wayne from getting the one thing he wanted.

Thoughts: Wayne is played by Bruce Campbell.

’90s music alert: Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains,” which should have been saved for the next episode.

What a weird, dumb episode sandwiched between two fun ones. We all deserved better, but especially Bruce Campbell.

Thanks for showing up for no reason, Spender!

October 10, 2017

SVT #108, Cammi’s Crush: The Three Matchketeers

Posted in books tagged at 5:06 pm by Jenn

The phones! Hee hee hee!

Summary: Principal Clark announces that the school district wants to honor a Scholar of the Semester, a student from any school in the area who has the highest GPA for the semester. There are three finalists, and two are from SVMS – Cammi Adams and Randy Mason. (Elizabeth is out of the running thanks to a B she was given after a fight with a home-ec teacher over the proper consistency of brownies.) If Cammi or Randy wins, Mr. Clark will give the entire sixth grade a picnic and an entire day off from anything school-related, including homework.

Jessica is desperate for that day off, and she takes it upon herself to ensure that one of her classmates wins the competition. After Elizabeth talks her out of getting the unknown third student eliminated (and Jessica figures she couldn’t pull that off anyway), Jess approaches Cammi with an offer to sabotage Randy. Cammi notes that the third student could still beat her, so that’s no guarantee. Jess advises her to suck up to her teachers, but Cammi wants to win fair and square. Jessica next approaches Randy about sabotaging Cammi, but he has the same attitude Cammi does, wanting to rely on his intelligence to win, since that’s what’s gotten him this far.

Both Cammi and Randy start getting paranoid that the other has agreed to work with Jessica to sabotage him or her. They decide to worker harder than ever to take their grades from straight A’s to straight A+s. But one morning, Cammi oversleeps, misses a quiz, and has to hand in crumpled homework, earning herself two F’s from a cranky substitute, Ms. Sherman. Later in the day, Randy accidentally rips a project he spent extra time on and earning himself a 0 from another cranky sub, Mr. Jules.

Thanks to one teacher out on paternity leave and another out with a broken ankle, the SVMS students are stuck with Ms. Sherman and Mr. Jules for a while, and no one’s happy about it. They’re tough graders, taking off points for poor penmanship, and they have no sympathy over the amount of work the kids have to do for other classes. Randy and Cammi realize that they won’t be getting a break from these two, so they both turn to Jessica for help getting their grades back up. Because…that’s exactly who anyone would think of for that?

Jessica’s first instinct is to find a way to get rid of Ms. Sherman and Mr. Jules. Her plan involves playing pranks until the teachers get so fed up that they quit. When Cammi and Randy veto this idea, Jessica says they should instead try to make the two teachers happy so they’ll be nicer to everyone. Cammi comes up with a plan that all three agree to: Play matchmaker for the teachers, a la Clueless. Love conquers all!

The Three Matchketeers start by finding out the teachers’ favorite colors, flowers, and food. They leave Ms. Sherman a bouquet of her favorite flowers, pretending they’re from a secret admirer. Then they arrange for Mr. Jules to find out about a new Mexican restaurant in town so he’ll ask Ms. Sherman to go there with him. It works, and Jessica tells the Unicorns that she’s ensured the sixth grade’s day off. What she doesn’t realize is that Cammi and Randy have started to develop feelings for each other as well.

Now that the subs are mellower, Cammi is able to get one of her bad grades changed, since Ms. Sherman realizes she graded her unfairly. Mr. Jules decides not to give Randy’s class a quiz, which means one less potential bad grade for Randy. Everything seems to be going great, but then Janet notes to Jessica that Mr. Jules and Ms. Sherman’s blossoming relationship might not work out. If they break up, they’ll be crankier than ever, and the students will suffer. Jessica realizes that she, Randy, and Cammi need to make sure the two teachers stay happy.

Cammi tries to get closer to Randy by asking him the same questions they asked the teachers. He doesn’t seem interested in her, so Cammi asks Jessica for more matchmaking help. Jessica turns to her go-to plan for helping her female classmates: a makeover. Cammi thinks that Randy doesn’t care about her new look, but the truth is that Randy doesn’t think Cammi has the same feelings for him that he does for her. He thinks she got a makeover because she’s trying to get the attention of another guy. He decides to try to drop his crush on her and focus on his grades.

Cammi tells Jessica that Randy acted kind of weird with her, so Jess encourages her to talk to him about it. Just as Cammi finds him, they hear Ms. Sherman and Mr. Jules fighting – he found Jessica’s notebook with notes about his favorite things, and he thinks Ms. Sherman was coming up with ways to woo him. They break up, and they’re back to being cranky with their students. Randy and Cammi take out their anger on Jessica for not keeping a better eye on her notebook.

Jessica goes back to brainstorming and comes up with a variation on the get-Mr.-Jules-to-ask-Ms.-Sherman-out-on-a-date plan. While looking for a calculator so she can make sure she can pay for their next date, Jessica comes across some of Ned’s client files and discovers that Ms. Sherman and Mr. Jules knew each other before they started subbing at SVMS – they’re currently going through a divorce.

She tells Ned, who breaks attorney-client privilege to tell her that the two teachers probably shouldn’t get a divorce. They fight because they’re competitive with each other, but they don’t have any issues that they couldn’t resolve. The fact that their last straw was a fight over a bowling match makes me think that they’re not mature enough for this kind of committed relationship, but what do I know?

Jessica takes this new information to Cammi and Randy, getting them to agree that they need to use the teachers’ competitive nature to their advantage. If they each think the other is beloved by the students, they’ll try harder to be nicer. This actually makes so much sense that I’m surprised Jessica came up with it. Unfortunately, the Matchketeers don’t get to put their new plan into action. Mr. Jules and Ms. Sherman hear them plotting and call them out.

The good news is that the teachers admit that they’ve been letting their personal problems affect their teaching, and they need to stop. They punish Jessica by making her write a 10- to 12-page paper about why you shouldn’t meddle in people’s lives (which is way over the top), but they allow Cammi and Randy to make up the assignments they got bad grades on.

All of the Matchketeers’ work amounts to nothing, however: The third student, who goes to a school in Big Mesa, wins Scholar of the Semester. Fortunately, Mr. Clark decides to reward Randy and Cammi’s hard work by giving the sixth grade a day off anyway. And at the picnic, the two nerds admit their feelings to each other, wrapping up that barely-there subplot. They give Jessica a Certificate of Excellence to thank her for helping them out. So Jessica will mostly likely take that as a sign that she needs to meddle in people’s lives more often.

Thoughts: No one mentions that if Cammi and Randy’s poor grades would knock them out of the running for Scholar of the Semester, someone else from SVMS would move into the running. The competition isn’t for students with perfect GPAs, just the students with the highest averages. If Elizabeth was taken out by one B, Cammi and Randy’s F’s should bump her up to the top. Eh, whatever.

Randy: “If I don’t get my average back above a C soon, I can forget about being valedictorian of Sweet Valley High.” Jessica: “Randy, that’s like five years from now. At least.” Maybe a few more for you, Jess.

Jessica: “Randy won’t even know what hit him when you show up at school tomorrow, looking gorgeous.” Cammi: “I don’t want to hit him.” Seriously, Cammi?

Not only does Ned break attorney-client privilege, but he also thinks Jessica will keep what he told her secret. In related news, Ned is new here.

“She’d been making notes for over two hours, but so far she hadn’t come up with a good reason not to interfere in other people’s lives.” It’s official: Jessica never learns anything.

October 7, 2017

The X-Files 6.6, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:00 pm by Jenn

Fantastic casting right here

Summary: It’s Christmas Eve, “somewhere in Maryland.” Mulder’s waiting for Scully outside a spooky old house so they can do a stakeout. She’s late because she left her holiday shopping until the last minute. She complains about the number of times she’s heard “Silent Night” (if she heard it one more time in the store, she was going to take hostages) and how she needs to wrap her presents, so this is a waste of her time. But she’s willing to listen to Mulder’s explanation for why they’re there.

Mulder tells her that no one lives in the house; they’re staking out the former occupants, who have supposedly come back. Scully details the horror-movie clichés present and correctly guesses that her partner wants to do some “ghostbusting.” She starts to leave, but Mulder tells her that back in 1917, amid a time of “dark, dark despair,” a pair of “star-crossed lovers” died in the house.

The man was Maurice, the woman Lyda. They thought they were going to be separated, so they made a suicide pact so they could be together forever. Every Christmas Eve, their ghosts return to the house. Scully praises Mulder’s storytelling skills, but of course she doesn’t believe in ghosts, so she’s going home.

As Scully starts to leave, Mulder goes up to the house to check things out. Scully decides to start putting her New Year’s resolution into practice early and not follow him. But suddenly she can’t find her keys. Mulder goes in the abandoned house alone, and thunder crashes just as Scully joins him to ask if he took her keys. Mulder suggests that a ghost snagged them. They hear footsteps above them, then the chime of a grandfather clock. Scully tries to explain the sound of wind upstairs. Suddenly the front door slams shut, and Scully can’t get it open.

Mulder tries to convince Scully that ghosts are usually friendly, so there’s nothing to be afraid of. He heads upstairs to check things out, while Scully sees that it’s less than an hour to midnight, so she only has 55 minutes to do her pre-Christmas preparation before it’s no longer pre-Christmas. Even though she sees what looks like a spirit, she thinks Mulder’s let horror movies go to his head when there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on. Besides, why would a ghost show up for no apparent reason? Humans just made up ghost stories to explain human feelings and desires.

Mulder tries multiple doors, all unlocked, but finally one opens…on its own. Scully admits to being afraid, but she knows there’s no reason to be scared. She checks out the room with the open door and realizes that there’s a light on, though it wasn’t on when she and Mulder were outside. The room is a big library, and all of its lights are working. That combined with the clock downstairs keeping time and a dying fire in the fireplace make Scully think that someone’s living in the house.

Since every couple who’s ever lived in the house has died tragically – in the last 80 years, three double murders have occurred in the house, all on Christmas Eve – Mulder thinks the house is cursed. So why would anyone want to live there? The door slams shut and the lights go out, so that doesn’t help ease his fears. The agents hear something under the floorboards, and Mulder bends down to listen while Scully looks for a way out of the library. She sees something that catches her attention, but when she tries to alert Mulder, he comes up behind her and scares her, just for kicks.

Mulder thinks there’s a hiding place under the floorboards so he grabs a fireplace poker to pull them up. Scully’s scared, but Mulder reminds her that she’s been in scarier situations. Plus, she has a gun. Mulder finds two corpses under the floorboards…two corpses who look an awful lot like a decaying Mulder and Scully. In fact, they’re wearing the same clothes the agents currently have on.

Quickly realizing that they’re looking at their own dead bodies, the agents run to another room, but mysteriously find themselves in the same room they just left. They keep moving back and forth between the rooms, but when each is in a different room, the doors between them close. “SCULLAY!” Mulder yells, unable to hear his partner.

Because he’s Mulder, he uses his gun to shoot off the lock, but now there’s a brick wall on the other side. Suddenly, a man appears in the room to ask why Mulder’s in his house. The electricity is working again, and the man doesn’t seem to see the brick wall keeping Mulder from leaving. Mulder thinks this whole experience has been a trick, and the man is a ghost. The man cracks up, guessing that Mulder’s a ghost hunter. He’s not the first to show up.

Mulder asks if the people under the floorboards were also ghost hunters, but the floorboards are back in their rightful place. Now Mulder’s not sure what’s going on. The man asks if he’s drunk, high, or “overcome by the impulse to make everyone believe [him].” He’s a mental-health professional, specializing in disorders involving pathological behavior involving the paranormal. He’s made up the term “soul prospectors” to describe ghost hunters who are narcissistic, self-righteous, antisocial workaholics.

The man continues that Mulder has probably convinced himself he’s seen aliens because he’s lonely. He’s just chasing “paramasturbatory illusions” that he thinks will give his life meaning. He probably thinks he’s passionate and misunderstood, and people probably don’t want to spend time with him. The man guesses that Mulder spends every Christmas alone, and he doesn’t believe Mulder when he says his partner is also there. How did he get her to stick around – steal her car keys?

The man thinks that Mulder’s afraid of his loneliness, so he gets Scully to accompany him on crazy treks. The brick wall is gone, so the man encourages Mulder to leave the room and change his life. But as he’s trying to leave, the brick wall reappears, and Mulder’s stuck.

In the next room, Scully gets frightened by a woman who thought Mulder and Scully were ghosts. Like Mulder, Scully notices that the floorboards are back in place. The woman tells her that there are ghosts in the house – her house – and she laughs off Scully’s claims about the corpses.

Scully keeps her gun trained on the woman while she explains that she came to the house with her partner. The woman feels bad that Scully runs around with a partner who believes in things she doesn’t. She’s trying to find fulfillment with someone else – “intimacy through codependency.” The woman continues psychoanalyzing Scully, saying her only joy in life is trying to prove Mulder wrong.

Scully asks why everything in the house is covered, if the woman actually lives there. The woman says they’re having the house painted. Why is there no Christmas tree, then? Well, because they’re Jewish. The man comes into the room, telling Scully that her partner will be in soon. Scully makes the two put their hands up, and for the first time she notices a giant hole in the woman’s stomach. When she takes off the man’s hat, she sees a hole in his head. It’s enough to make Scully pass out.

The man and woman – Maurice and Lyda from Mulder’s story – complain that they only get one night a year to drive people crazy, and they have to use cheap tricks to do it. He thinks their pop psychology just annoys people. Lydasays they can’t let their reputations slip; otherwise, they’ll be taken off the tour literature. Maurice doesn’t get why Lyda wants to scare people on Christmas Eve. She says it’s more fun to torture them when they’re filled with the hope of the season. Maurice decides it’s time to show these two miserable people “just how lonely Christmas can be.”

Lyda finds Mulder searching the library for a way out. She bars him from leaving, but when realizes that he can touch her, he just moves her away from the door. Too bad he can’t do that with the brick wall that’s appeared there. Lyda, now behind Mulder, doesn’t appreciate being called a frump or a ghost. Mulder figures out who the man and woman are; he’s confused because they were young when they died, and now they’re not.

Lyda looks through some books, amusing Mulder with her psychokinetic skills, until she finds one called <i>How the Ghosts Stole Christmas </i>by R. Grimes. She starts a fire in the fireplace without touching it, then shows Mulder a picture in the book of Maurice as a young man. She thinks Mulder and Scully came there to do the same thing she and Maurice did there 80 years ago. Mulder says they didn’t, but Lyda notes that he knew the house was haunted. They should have discussed their feelings for each other before they got there.

Mulder learns that the story of the suicide pact is false – according to Lyda, she and Maurice died in a murder-suicide. Mulder thinks that Lyda’s trying to say that Scully’s going to shoot him. Lyda notes that Mulder might shoot her first, but he says that would never happen. He also wouldn’t let Scully shoot herself. Lyda reminds him of the bodies under the floor, then hands him his own gun, which is missing from his holster. She tells him this is the last Christmas he’ll ever spend alone.

Next door, Scully regains consciousness and finds that Maurice has locked her in the library. She warns that she’ll shoot him if she needs to, but Maurice thinks it’s more likely that she’ll need to use her gun to protect herself from her partner. Scully can now hear Mulder yelling for her, but Maurice says he’s capable of some very dangerous things. He offers her back her car keys as he says that Mulder’s acting out his fear of being alone. Scully ignores him and tells him to open the door.

Maurice goes to the door, giving Scully one last warning that he’s seen a number of murders in the house. Scully says she doesn’t believe him. Maurice finally lets Mulder in, and he immediately shoots at his partner. He tells her there’s no way out of the house, and one of them has to murder the other. Even if they get out, they’ll just go back to their lonely lives. Scully says she doesn’t believe him, but Mulder doesn’t listen. This time, his bullet hits her in the stomach.

As Scully collapses, Mulder approaches, wishes her a Merry Christmas, and puts the gun to his head. But he’s really Lyda, just making herself look like Mulder. Maurice grabs her to stop her from shooting herself and pulls her out of the room. The real Mulder makes it in and finds Scully, who says she didn’t believe that he would hurt her…but she would. She still has her own gun, and she uses it to shoot her partner. Again, it’s Lyda playing a trick, and she’s pretty pleased with herself.

The ghosts put “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the record player as Scully wakes up alone. Mulder finds her and they struggle to point their guns at each other, weak from blood loss. They both admit to being afraid. Mulder wishes he’d thought of this possibility before. They each accuse the other of shooting first, which makes Mulder realize that it’s just a trick. Neither of them is hurt. They open the front door, and the second they step outside, their wounds and blood are gone.

The couple runs to the car as the song says that “through the years, we all will be together.” Maurice and Lyda are proud of themselves, thinking they almost succeeded. They wonder what Mulder and Scully were really looking for at the house. Maurice says that for some people, Christmas is “just another joyless day of the year.” But Maurice and Lyda haven’t forgotten the meaning of the holiday.

Mulder watches the end of A Christmas Carol alone at home, unmoved by Scrooge’s happiness, which Scrooge doesn’t think he deserves. Scully comes by to confirm that everything that happened at the house was just in their heads. Mulder says it must have been. Scully wants to make sure that Lyda wasn’t right about her only joy in life coming from disproving Mulder. Mulder wonders when she’s ever actually disproven him.

Now Mulder isn’t sure Scully really wants to be out in the field with him. Scully says maybe she does. The agents had agreed not to get each other presents, but they both did, so they exchange gifts side by side on the couch, unlonely for at least a few minutes.

Thoughts: Maurice and Lyda are played by two Hollywood legends, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. Apparently Tomlin had approached the show seasons before, wanting to do an episode, so they wrote this role for her. They wanted Bob Newhart for Maurice, but he turned them down, so they got Asner instead. (I think Asner was better for this role, so that worked out great.)

With only four people in the episode, this is the smallest cast to ever appear in The X-Files. It’s something you don’t really notice when you’re watching, though; it doesn’t feel like anyone’s missing.

I wish this episode had come up closer to Halloween. The atmosphere and plot are perfect for it.

October 3, 2017

SVT #107, The Twins Hit Hollywood: That’s Show Business, Baby

Posted in books tagged at 5:05 pm by Jenn

Next, turn the scissors on those horrible denim outfits, please

Summary: A casting agent who saw the twins in their Corny O’s commercial thinks they would be perfect for an upcoming movie. They head to L.A. and discover that they’re up against a number of pairs of twins. No one will tell them what the roles are or even what the movie is about. No parents are present. The whole thing is completely ridiculous, and not even in a good way.

One pair of twins is so determined to land the roles that they sabotage the other girls. They cut one girl’s hair so she and her twin won’t be identical anymore, and so they won’t keep landing shampoo commercials. Another pair of twins, Tammy and Louise Parker, kind of laugh this off, since it’s show business and that’s just how things go. Elizabeth is understandably anxious about getting too deep in this, but there’s no way Jessica’s going to let her walk away now.

The Pearsons (the twins who were recently rendered unidentical) show up to the next round of auditions with new haircuts, still in it to win it. Because the movie will include at least one musical number, the girls all have to sing and dance in their auditions. One of the Pearsons keeps getting in Elizabeth’s way to make her look bad. But then she loses a contact lens, rendering herself and her twin unidentical again while also screwing up her vision, which interferes with her dancing. Karma must be smiling on the Wakefield twins, because the Pearsons get cut.

It comes down to the Wakefields and the Parkers, and the girls start fighting dirty. Steven has a cold, so the girls send him to sneeze on the Parkers and get them sick. (Dude, germ warfare! Not cool!) This doesn’t work. The Wakefields receive a gift basket, supposedly from their agency, and when Jessica uses the shampoo it includes, she gets tar in her hair. A hairstylist is able to get it out, so the two sets of twins are tied at 0 to 0 for successful schemes.

The Wakefields send the Parkers fake script pages, making them think they’re doing scenes where they have to scream. Their hope is that the Parkers will lose their voice before the final auditions. The studio sends real pages, though, so the Parkers figure out the deception. The Parkers somehow set up a stereo playing a tape of fighting cats outside the Wakefields’ house so the twins won’t be able to sleep. That’s…creative, I guess, but pretty weak.

The night before the last audition, Jessica and Elizabeth can’t sleep, so they watch a movie on TV. They quickly realize that it stars the Parker twins (playing the same role), and that they’re really good actresses. The Wakefields actually praise the Parkers at the audition the next day, but in the process, the crew realizes that the Parkers couldn’t be 12, since they were 12 when the movie was made four years ago. The girls admit to being 16, which means they’re too old for this movie. They’re cut, and Jess and Liz are in the film.

Jessica is ecstatic to learn that the movie stars her favorite actress, Connie Bryant. It’s set in World War II, and Jess and Liz play Connie’s twin sisters, who want to perform with her in a USO show. Connie turns out to be a complete diva who’s horrible to everyone and wants to make sure she’s always the focus on screen. She gets the twins written out of scenes, makes them dye their hair brown, and holds up production by throwing tantrums and making various changes. The studio can’t do anything since Connie owns 51% of the movie, and it’s only getting made because of her. To add insult to injury, the twins have to do their schoolwork on set, which Jess hates. They don’t have time to see their friends.

The twins would love to quit, even if it means giving up their chance at a big break. Their contract prevents that, though, and they realize that the only way to get out of doing the movie is to have Connie send them away. The twins have befriended the film’s writer, who hates the changes Connie’s made to the script, and she helps them get Connie to believe that 12-year-old twins are too cute and would upstage her through the whole movie. Instead, she needs twins like the Parkers. Thus, the Wakefields are released from their contract and get revenge on the Parkers all at once. At some point in the future, the twins see the movie in a theater and discover that their characters were written out anyway, so they basically saved themselves a lot of torture with nothing to show for it.

Thoughts: Why would you audition for a role you know nothing about? You could end up doing something really embarrassing.

My imagination cast Sarah Paulson as Connie, not because I think she’s a diva but because I think she could pull off the character’s over-the-topness.

The executive producer tells Jessica she’s attractive, so now I have to go throw up.

One of the twins’ outfits in the movie is matching white velvet sailor suits. Let me repeat that: WHITE. VELVET. SAILOR SUITS.

September 30, 2017

The X-Files 6.5, Dreamland II: A New Man

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:20 pm by Jenn

I love this shot so much

Summary: Morris Fletcher narrates a little story for us about Mulder’s life. He mentions Samantha’s disappearance, Mulder’s push to solve mysteries, and his subsequent mental instability. Until recently, he was “one step away from pushing a baby carriage of tin cans down the street,” but now Morris knows things are going to change.

We go back to Mulder being removed from the convenience store, yelling about how the other Mulder isn’t him. Morris tells “Dana” that he went to Kersh behind her back because he was worried that she would lose her job. Scully says he did the right thing, reminding him that she’s been telling him for years that he needs to follow the rules. “It’s the new me,” Morris says.

Mulder is taken to a cell next to McDonough’s. McDonough says they’re both in a lot of trouble, and is offended when Mulder (who sees him as Lana) calls him “ma’am.” Back at FBI headquarters, Morris plays his golf game some more, then checks in with Scully after she meets with Kersh. She’s been suspended for two weeks. Morris pretends to be upset on her behalf, inviting her over for dinner to “help ease the pain.”

McDonough tells Mulder about the test flight, but he’s not interested and tells “Grandma Top Gun” to shut up. Wegman summons Mulder so he, Grodin, and Jeff can confront him for replacing the data recorder and giving the FBI a fake one. They wish he’d told them he was going to trick the feds.

Realizing he’s not in trouble, Mulder says he didn’t know if he could trust them – after all, one of them could be the security leak. He tried to get Mulder’s contact through Scully, but Mulder screwed it all up. Grodin asks for the real flight data recorder, and Mulder nervously says that of course he’ll get it. Wegman praises him for making a big move, unlike some of his colleagues. In fact, Grodin’s facing the trouble Mulder just avoided.

Morris prepares for his big date night with Scully, quickly realizing that it’s not going to go as smoothly as he’d thought, and not because of her. Mulder’s bedroom is full of junk, making Morris guess that he hasn’t had sex in ten years. (I guess that vampire in that horrible episode doesn’t count.)

Mulder goes to Morris’ house for more abuse from his fake family. Two guys are parked outside, watching, but they’re not very good at subtlety, since Mulder notices them. He tries to explain everything to Joanne, who’d rather complain about Scully being a tramp than listen to her husband’s stories. She figures he’s having a weird midlife crisis.

Mulder shows her the men in the car, saying that Morris has a dangerous job, and if anything goes wrong, he and Mulder are both in trouble. Joanne says that if Mulder doesn’t like the person he’s become, that’s fine, but he can’t just make up a fictional life to replace reality. “Accept who you are, however repulsive that may be,” she tells him.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment, which Morris has managed to make look respectable. He even bought a waterbed and put a mirror on the ceiling. Scully seems a little charmed, so Morris breaks out a bottle of champagne, expecting to get some. Scully has a different idea: handcuffs. Morris is too dumb to catch that he’s on to her. She knows that Mulder was telling the truth, and that Morris isn’t the real Mulder.

The bad news is that Morris doesn’t know how to undo the body swap – and if he didn’t, he wouldn’t do anything about it, because he hates his life. To him, the body swap is a gift. He also knows that no one will believe Scully when she tries to get help, so he doesn’t need to do anything. Scully threatens to shoot him, but he sticks to his claim that he can’t do anything. He also says he doesn’t know anything about Mulder’s source.

The phone rings, and the answering machine (which has an outgoing message Morris changed to advertise that he’s about to get laid) takes a message from Mulder’s source. Scully makes Morris take the call. Over at the Fletchers’ house, Joanne complains that Mulder’s still there. He suggests that they find a place to go where they’ll be around a lot of people.

Scully and Morris go to the Little A’Le’Inn to meet the source; it happens to be the same place Mulder has taken Joanne. The source turns out to be Wegman, thrilling Morris. Wegman says he sabotaged the UFO, but he didn’t mean to make it crash; he just disabled its stealth mode so Mulder would be able to see it.

While they chat, Mulder goes outside to avoid some of Morris’ colleagues and meets up with Scully. He’s surprised to see her. As Morris gets what he supposedly came for from Wegman, Joanne ducks outside and sees Mulder with Scully. Morris passes his wife on his way out and seems to soften when he realizes how upset she is. Jeff arrives, looking for him, so Morris leaves. Joanne throws her drink on Mulder to let him know she saw him in the car with Scully.

Mulder goes to the bathroom to clean up, and Morris follows, so the two men are finally alone together. “So you’re the guy that wants my life,” Mulder comments. “I assume that means all the a%$-kickings.” Morris stops him from attacking by warning that Jeff’s outside and can’t see them together. He reveals whatever Wegman gave him, and Mulder orders him to take it straight to Scully. Morris repeats that Jeff can’t see them both, so Mulder needs to sneak it past him.

Wegman starts to leave the bar, but when he spots Jeff, he ducks into the bathroom. Mulder and Morris have jumped in a stall together and are peering over the top. Scully goes inside and sees Joanne and Jeff, then spots Wegman leaving. He tells Jeff to detain Mulder as he’s leaving with a bag of beer, not the flight data recorder Wegman gave him. Morris has the real one and is making his getaway with Scully.

The Lone Gunmen are enjoying a home-cooked meal together (the cook is Frohike) when Scully and Morris drop by. Morris looks around the guys’ lair while they examine the flight data recorder and tell Scully what the aircraft contained. Scully tells the guys that Morris isn’t Mulder, but she can’t really explain the body swap. Morris mentions the warp in the space-time continuum.

He’s pretty amused by everything about the Lone Gunmen, including some of the things they write about in their newsletter. Saddam Hussein isn’t testing a mandroid army in the desert – there is no Saddam Hussein! He’s an actor named John Gillnitz, and the government hired him in 1979 to play a dictator whenever they need a distraction. In fact, most of the stories the Lone Gunmen believe are things Morris thought up while on the toilet.

The next day, Mulder goes to see Wegman, who’s figured out the body swap. Wegman is shredding documents and knows that it’s too late to save himself – once Mulder and Morris have swapped back, Morris will make Wegman disappear. Mulder asks why Wegman sabotaged the aircraft in the first place. Wegman says he regrets spending his entire career hiding the truth from the public.

Mulder asks what the truth is. Wegman claims he doesn’t know; they oversee the flights, but they don’t know what kind of technology they use. Mulder wonders why Wegman contacted him to leak information. Wegman’s familiar with Mulder’s history of looking for aliens, and he’s also curious about whether they exist.

The Lone Gunmen break the encryption on the data recorder, seeing the anti-gravity technology being used. Morris laughs at another of their newsletters, headlined “Monica: Minx or Mandroid?” After he and Frohike bicker a little, Scully leaves with Morris, telling the guys to contact her when they get more out of the data recorder.

Some 20-somethings have infiltrated Area 51, which could probably use better security. One guy knows the area is called Dreamland, and that they’re in the perfect spot to see UFOs. Something flies over them, and the two 20-somethings who were making out end up fused together. So that’s awkward.

Scully meets up with Mulder again, and he worries that she hasn’t found anything that will resolve the body swap. He’s afraid he’ll have to find a way to put Morris’ two kids through college. Scully has heard from Frohike, who reported that the Lone Gunmen were able to analyze the crash data, but the body swap was a random event they probably can’t recreate. Even if they could, any slight error could lead to Mulder getting fused to, say, a rock.

Mulder asks after the new him, and Scully tells him that Morris is Kersh’s new favorite agent. She reveals that she’s been fired from the FBI, so there’s not much she can do now. Mulder encourages her to take the data recorder to Kersh and use it to get her job back. “I’d kiss you if you weren’t so damn ugly,” Scully tells him. Morris honks at them impatiently from the car, and Mulder wonders if shooting him would be considered murder or suicide. Scully’s about to leave, reluctantly, when Mulder calls her back to give her some sunflower seed husks. How…romantic?

The nonfused 20-something stops Grodin as he’s driving by and drags him to his friends. But they’re no longer fused together and don’t seem to remember it ever happening. Grodin promises that he believes their buddy when he says they were stuck together.

Scully laments the loss of her partner as Morris tells her how much he’s enjoying the perks that come with being an FBI agent. He offers to talk to Kersh about getting her job back once they’ve handed over the data recorder. He thinks they’ll have fun together once she gets to know him. Scully lets him know that she still has her gun. They drive by the gas station that was destroyed in the previous episode, but which is now back in its original condition. The attendant is even alive and well, with no memory of what happened two days before.

As Grodin puts Lana and McDonough in a cell together, Scully and Morris go to the Fletchers’ house, where Mulder is moving out. Joanne is annoyed to see Scully at her house again. While Mulder and Scully talk, Morris manages to convince Joanne that he’s really her husband by telling her things about their life together.

The agents decide that the events of the time warp are reversing, so they need to go back to the highway where the body swap took place. Before they can leave, Jeff arrives with some soldiers to arrest Morris as a traitor and get the data recorder. Everyone heads back to Area 51, but Grodin stops them on the highway and reveals that Lana and McDonough are back to their normal selves. He regrets screwing up his career record and wants to make things right again.

Mulder knows that the reversal will mean everyone will forget what happened over the past few days. Morris decides to take his last few moments as Mulder to tell “Dana” that “it’s been real” and touch her butt again. Stay classy, Morris. An aircraft flies over, the swap is reversed, and the past few days are erased. In fact, everyone’s in the same clothes they were wearing at the time of the original body swap.

As Mulder heads home that night, Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) to let him know that Kersh doesn’t know about their trip to Nevada. Mulder has decided that Scully was right about his potential source just being a sci-fi-loving nut. He thanks her for going to Area 51 with him. Not everything has been reversed – Scully finds the two coins fused together, and Mulder’s apartment is still redecorated. In fact, he has to look at the number on his door to make sure he’s in the right place.

Thoughts: The way they did the body swap is kind of confusing; at a couple points, I forgot that people weren’t seeing what we were seeing. I wonder how these two episodes would have gone if David Duchovny and Michael McKean had actually switched characters.

The Lone Gunmen think Monica Lewinsky’s a mandroid? I would have guessed they would peg Hillary for that.

Even when she’s working with a fake Mulder, Scully doesn’t get to drive.

September 26, 2017

SVT #106, Breakfast of Enemies: Cereal Killers

Posted in books tagged , , at 5:11 pm by Jenn

Whoever wrote the blurb here didn’t read the book

Summary: Jessica and Lila entered a magazine contest in hopes of being chosen for California Girl‘s real-girl feature. Lila is picked but Jessica isn’t. The Unicorns are ecstatic that one of them will be in a national magazine, but Jess finds it hard to be happy for her friend. No surprise there. She sees an ad about a casting call seeking twins for a commercial filming nearby and decides that this is how she’ll get the attention she so desperately wants. (Has Jess ever wanted something in a way that couldn’t be described as “desperate”?)

Elizabeth isn’t on board right away, but Jessica convinces her that she can use the money she makes from the commercial to buy stuff for The Sixers. This is so fitting – Jess wants to be in the commercial so she’ll be famous and more popular than Lila, while Liz is only up for it because she can do something nice for other people. That’s it, that’s the whole series.

Next, Ned and Alice need convincing. They’re very wary that, like other times in the past when the girls have had to work together, they’ll end up fighting instead. They agree that the twins can audition if they show they can get along. So the twins go above and beyond to prove that they’re able to cooperate. They even take advantage of Steven’s constant teasing to back each other up and defend each other. Ned and Alice know it’s all an act, but it’s better than hearing them fight, so they give them the green light to audition.

Jessica screws up the singing part of the audition (they commercial is for Corny O’s cereal, and they have to sing a jingle), but the twins get the part anyway. They’ll be sharing one role to work with child-labor laws. Apparently, in this universe, the twins never appeared in a movie, as this concept is brand-new to them. Ned signs the twins’ contract, but it doesn’t seem like the twins have to have a parent or guardian on set with them while filming, so I guess the ghostwriter only read up on some aspects of child-labor laws.

Jessica, because she’s Jessica, wants to start spreading the word at school that she’s going to be getting her big break in a commercial. Elizabeth thinks they should hold off in case they’re required to do something embarrassing. Jess agrees to keep quiet, but when Lila keeps talking about her awesome magazine photo shoot, Jess snaps and announces that she’s going to be on TV. No one believes her, so she sings the jingle. This backfires, as the new Corny O’s jingle is really…well, corny. Jess goes from potential big star to the laughingstock of SVMS.

Elizabeth hears some kids making fun of the jingle and realizes that Jessica told people about the commercial. They fight, and when Ned and Alice see that they’re not getting along like they promised they would, the girls are threatened with a month’s grounding. They’ll have to keep pretending to be BFFs all through the filming of the commercial.

Jessica sees an interview with her favorite actress, Connie Boyer, who’s a stereotypical Hollywood diva. Jess is inspired, and when she starts working on the commercial, she tries to take control. She thinks she should do the part the way she wants, no matter what the director, Stan, says. Between her showboating and Elizabeth’s wooden delivery, the first day of filming doesn’t produce anything good. The second day doesn’t go any better, and Stan is quickly growing annoyed with Jessica.

Liz has gotten more interested in the commercial, and she’s worried that Jessica will ruin everything for them, so she decides her best option is to keep Jess out of things entirely. Liz locks her in the makeup room, goes to the set as herself, and then pretends to be Jessica when it’s Jess’ turn to perform. Jess gets out of the room and makes accusations against her twin, but no one listens to her.

With only a couple hours left in the filming schedule, both twins are tasked with running through a kind of obstacle course, each being filmed by a different crew at the same time. They’ll use green screens to make it look like the twins are traveling around the world in a race for Corny O’s. The girls start bickering and end up in a serious catfight, destroying the set. Stan fires them, and the twins decide to come up with an excuse for why their commercial will never air.

But when Lila’s magazine profile comes out, there’s a sidebar mentioning the twins’ commercial, so now everyone’s eager to see it. The girls brace themselves for humiliation, but the producers were able to make their catfight look like a battle over Corny O’s. Suddenly the twins are beloved again, and they even get an invitation to go to Hollywood to talk about a movie role. So the lesson here is that even if you massively screw up your job, people will still like you.

The B-plot is like that episode of Friends where Joey tries to find a twin so he can be in a medical study. Steven wants to find a twin so he can do a commercial for Wake Up and Win Flakes. (Are the only commercials available in Sweet Valley for cereal?) He thinks he and Joe can fudge their identicalness enough to fool a casting director, but Joe doesn’t want to participate in this madness. Steven then runs into a guy at the mall who looks a lot like him, but the kid is already a twin, and Danny and Manny appreciate Steven telling them about the audition.

Finally, Steven meets Larry, a new kid at school who looks like him. He talks Larry into auditioning, but they’d be working with Stan, who has just fired the girls and vowed to never work with another Wakefield. There goes Steven’s big break and the payday he was hoping for. The only funny part of the plot is that Danny and Manny get the role Steven wanted, and they never would have known about it if it weren’t for him. Heh.

Thoughts: The ghostwriter seems to think that a couple of no-name 12-year-olds would make a ton of money doing a single commercial. Where is Maria Slater to fact-check this stuff?

Wake Up and Win Flakes? No, thanks.

Jessica, locked in the makeup room: “You’re holding me back as an actor! You’re keeping me from my public!” Heh. That’s such a Jessica thing to say.

September 23, 2017

The X-Files 6.4, Dreamland: The Man in the Mirror

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

I want to know who thought this was a good idea

Summary: Mulder and Scully are on a highway in Nevada, on their way to meet a source. Scully’s skeptical, as usual, thinking the source is just a sci-fi-loving nerd who won’t have anything useful to say. But Mulder believes that they’re going to learn something about Area 51. Scully wishes they had normal lives – that they could stop driving around the country, looking for answer, and settle down somewhere. Mulder doesn’t get that, since he considers this normal.

Cars approach the agents, blocking them from continuing to the meeting point. Military personnel make them get out of the car, and a man smoking a cigarette (but not CSM) tells them they have to leave, since they’re nearing a military testing ground. Scully sarcastically asks if they’re testing out alien technology. The man laughs this off. As the agents are about to leave, an aircraft flies overhead. It flashes a light on Mulder, and as it flies off, Mulder and the smoking man appear to switch bodies…but Mulder’s the only one who notices.

Scully drives off with the smoking man, though she thinks he’s Mulder. The real Mulder gets in a car and explains to another man, who calls him Morris, that he let the agents go because they didn’t know anything. The other man, Howard Grodin, is annoyed that now they won’t be able to find out who the agents were going to meet with. A third man says they’ll find out another way.

Mulder goes with his colleagues to the testing ground, pleased to see that he has Morris’ ID. The picture is still of Morris Fletcher, and Mulder can see on a surveillance monitor that when people look at him, he has Morris’ face. The men see a higher-up named Wegman and guess that something big is happening. While they’re looking into it, Mulder finds his office, which is full of pictures of Morris with powerful men, including Newt Gingrich, Bush Sr., and Saddam Hussein.

Scully and Morris stop at a gas station, where she addresses the fact that he’s been silent since they got back in the car. Her phone rings while she’s pumping gas, but Morris has cranked up the radio and can’t hear it. Mulder’s calling, but by the time Scully gets to the phone, he’s hung up. Morris asks “Dana” to go inside and get him a pack of Morleys, asking if she’s “going to be a Nazi” about his sudden smoking habit.

One of Morris’ coworkers tells Mulder that they found a leak in their organization – someone used Wegman’s phone to call the FBI just that morning. Morris’ phone rings, and Mulder picks up a call from Morris’ wife. She’s furious that he’s working late again and didn’t call. She reminds him to pick up milk on his way home. Mulder gets a ride from a coworker, but they don’t make a stop on the way, so he goes home milkless. He tries to make a call from Morris’ house, but it’s on base, so he’d have to go through an operator.

Morris’ wife is in bed when Mulder goes in, and I guess he doesn’t want to share a bed with a woman he doesn’t know, so he goes to the living room to watch porn instead. Meanwhile, Wegman is called to the scene of a fiery test-flight crash. The co-pilot is alive, but he’s jammed inside a boulder. The other pilot is shaken and only speaking Hopi.

At FBI headquarters, Scully waits for Mulder (well, Morris) to join her so they can have a meeting with Kersh. Morris arrives late, calling her Dana again, and says he got lost on his way in. Kersh questions the agents’ trip to Nevada, which has been followed by a call from the Pentagon demanding that Kersh reprimand them for trespassing on military property. Morris says they were supposed to meet with a whistleblower who claimed to work at Area 51, but it didn’t work out. If he had the contact’s name, he’d give it to Kersh.

Kersh reminds the agents that they’re not supposed to work on X-Files. Morris promises that they will never disobey orders again. As they’re leaving, Scully asks why Morris was so willing to give up the contact’s name. “He asked,” Morris replies before going back into the office to flirt with Kersh’s assistant. Scully questions Mulder’s weird behavior, so Morris teases that she’s jealous, then pats her on the butt.

Mulder is woken up by an angry Mrs. Fletcher (though he first thinks she’s Scully). She blasts him for watching porn in the living room, where their kids, Chris and Terry, could have seen him. Mulder, who has no idea what his supposed wife’s name is, asks where his car keys are. The Fletchers’ daughter comes downstairs, and when Mulder takes a stab in the dark and calls her Terry, she runs back up, crying. So that would be Chris. Also, Terry wants to be called Terrence instead.

Mulder tries to escape his new domestic non-bliss, but first Chris wants an answer about her nose. Mulder says she’s too young for plastic surgery. Chris cries again, because she only wanted a nose ring. She says she hates Mulder and wishes he were dead. I think he wishes the same thing right now. Morris’ wife, who accidentally helps Mulder out by revealing her name, Joanne, asks if he wants a divorce. Mulder says apologetically that he’s just not himself lately.

Joanne notes that Mulder’s still in the suit he wore yesterday, so he goes up to their room to change. Morris’ closet is full of black suits, prompting Mulder to remark, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Johnny Cash.” While getting dressed, he sees Morris’ reflection in the mirror instead of his own. Then the show makes the actors do some I Love Lucy-type pantomime that apparently someone thought would be funny. Joanne finds her non-husband dancing in front of the mirror when she brings him the phone. His coworker, Jeff, tells him to get to the office ASAP.

The pilot, McDonough, is still speaking Hopi, and claiming that his name is Lana Chee. The real Lana Chee has been brought in, and she seems to think she’s McDonough. She tells Wegman that there was a loss of power during the previous night’s test flight, as if the plane “just wasn’t in the mood to fly.”

While Scully does some actual work, Morris plays a golfing computer game. Mulder calls Scully from a phone booth (“Scully, it’s me”), but she doesn’t recognize his voice, and she thinks her partner is sitting just a few feet away, so she thinks he’s a nutbar when he tries to explain that he and Morris swapped bodies. She tells Morris to pick up another line so he can listen in on the call. Scully thinks the caller is Morris’ source and starts to run a trace, but Morris suggests that they tell Kersh so they don’t get in trouble. He tells the “little lady” to “get [her] panties on straight” – they’re feds, so they have to play by the rules.

Mulder buys sunflower seeds at a gas station convenience store, driving off before literal tumbleweeds blow in. Moments later, the store starts shaking as if there’s a big earthquake, and the windows blow in. Mulder’s on his way to the office when he passes his coworkers, who tell him to head back the way he came. He goes back to the now-destroyed gas station and alerts his coworkers and a few soldiers that there’s an attendant. They find him stuck in the floor, with only his upper body showing.

Grodin thinks they need to leave in case whatever caused the destruction comes back. Mulder insists that they get the attendant a doctor, but a soldier shoots and kills the attendant, taking care of that problem. Grodin orders the soldiers to burn the station down.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment, arriving just as Kersh’s assistant is leaving. She tells Morris that the call from the supposed source came from a location near where they were stopped in Nevada. He brushes off the importance of the call, so Scully yells that something’s wrong with him. He’s suddenly uninterested in the X-Files, which were formerly his “life’s crusade.” Morris reminds her that they’re off the X-Files.

A lizard-rock hybrid is brought to Wegman, having been found right near where the flight crashed. Grodin thinks they’re dealing with a warp – a tear in the space-time continuum. The test flight’s anti-gravity system may have caused some blip in reality that now allowed two things to exist in the same time and space. Jeff thinks this theory is bogus, since he, Grodin, and Morris were right at ground zero at the time of the warp. Grodin thinks that’s evidence that it did happen, since lost time is often a symptom of being neat anti-gravity propulsion systems.

Mulder keeps his mouth shut when Grodin and Jeff wonder if there were other consequences of the warp; instead, he asks what they do about it. Grodin tells him to keep it out of the media and get rid of any witnesses. Mulder’s more interested in finding out how to reverse the effects. Grodin replies that they might not be able to. Meanwhile, Scully goes back to Nevada and sees the destruction at the gas station. She finds the coins Mulder didn’t take as his change stuck inside each other.

Mulder is again woken up by an angry Joanne, who wonders why her husband is so distant. She thinks he must be in love with another woman – the Scully he mentioned in his sleep. Mulder asks if Scully sounds like a woman’s name. He pretends that he’s under a lot of pressure at work, saying that there are things about him that Joanne doesn’t know. He adds that he’s not the man she married. Joanne thinks he’s admitting that he can’t get an erection, which is something she can work with. Mulder makes this face.

Just as Joanne is softening toward her husband, Scully comes to the house. Looks like Mulder’s sleeping in the living room again tonight, whether or not he wants to. Scully recognizes “Morris” as the man she and Mulder encountered the other night, and he again tries to explain the body swap. He tries to prove he’s really Mulder by reciting things he knows about her, like her full name, her mother’s name, and the fact that her brother hates him. Also, she’s been eating yogurt with bee pollen in it lately, even though he keeps telling her that, as a scientist, she should know that eating pollen is ridiculous.

As Joanne starts throwing Morris’ things outside, calling him a cheater, Scully stays skeptical about Mulder’s claims. He vows to prove to her that everything he’s claiming is true. As Scully drives off, Morris watches from his car. He calls Grodin, saying he’s Mulder, and tells him that someone has been calling to offer him classified information. Mulder steals the flight-data recorder from the test flight, unaware that Grodin’s watching.

Kersh calls Scully, busting her for going back to Nevada – Morris told him that she disobeyed orders again. If she doesn’t follow Kersh’s instructions completely, she’s fired. Mulder goes to a convenience store to meet Scully and give her the flight-data recorder, but she’s followed Kersh’s instructions, which involve having Mulder detained by the military. She yells at Scully that Morris isn’t him, since this isn’t something Mulder would do. It looks like Scully is finally starting to agree. To be continued…

Thoughts: Morris is played by Michael McKean, who’s always good in everything he does. Joanne is played by Nora Dunn, who I think is very underrated and needs to be in more things.

This show had a pretty good-sized budget, right? So they could have reshot the pantomime until it matched up perfectly, yes? (Or, you know, cut the whole thing, because it’s dumb.)

God bless the attendant for scoffing at Mulder saying he can keep his 11-cent change: “Wow. Maybe I’ll just close early.”

How awkward do you think things were between Mulder and Kersh’s assistant after this?

September 19, 2017

SVT Super Edition #8, Jessica’s First Kiss: Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:11 pm by Jenn

Yeah, this didn’t happen

Summary: In the category of Things That Would Never Happen, the whole middle school is going on a mandatory week-long camping trip. I would fake mono or some sort of horrible injury so I wouldn’t have to go. Lila thinks that since they’re staying at a place with “estate” in the title, they’ll basically be at a spa for a week. Elizabeth tells her and Jessica that they’re wrong. Liz, by the way, is super-excited about spending a week in the great outdoors, especially since she’ll get to spend time with Todd. She writes a really bad poem about it, and Jess and Lila find it and tease her. Siblings are the worst.

On the way to the estate, Elizabeth and her dorky friends pass the long bus ride by singing camp songs. The Unicorns are completely over it. Liz tries to flirt a little with Todd, bringing up the possibility of going on a private nature walk together. Jess tries to do the same with Aaron, but he’s the epitome of a middle-school boy in this book and doesn’t get it. Aaron just keeps talking about bears, so Jessica hopes he gets eaten by one. Spoiler alert: Before long, the reader will have the same hope.

The first night of the trip, Aaron wakes everyone up by yelling that he saw a bear. A new student named Dennis Asher calls him on his prank, kicking off a rivalry between the two of them. Aaron’s the real idiot, though, since Bruce accidentally cuts a hole in their tent while trying to run to safety, and when it rains later in the night, Aaron gets soaked. He deserves it.

The Unicorns are miserable on the trip; they’re not allowed to have any electric beauty products with them, so their hair goes uncurled, and the showers smell of sulfur, so they don’t want to get in them. Aaron tries to pull his bear prank again, this time on Jessica, and she decides she’s through with their near-relationship. When she meets Dennis, she decides she’s ready to move on to a new guy. Too bad her unshowered, unprimped appearance is leaving her looking like a mess.

Though the kids are expected to take classes (such as learning about the history of the estate) or participate in athletic or craft activities during the day, the rest of the experience is a lot like summer camp. They have campfires every night, and at one, Winston tells a story about a pair of twins who were in love with the same man. They flipped a coin to decide who should be with him, but then the twin who lost murdered the twin who won and took her place. Was her name Margo? Aaron annoys everyone by pretending again that he saw a bear. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of adult supervision on this trip, and Aaron doesn’t suffer any consequences for pulling the same trick over and over.

Inspired by Winston’s story and the fact that April Fools’ Day is coming up, Jessica decides to pull her own twin switch in order to win over Dennis. Elizabeth is looking much cleaner and more attractive than her sister, so Jess wants to make Dennis fall for her, thinking she’s Jess and the dirty twin is Liz. Then when they get back to civilization, Jess will pretend she was the clean one all along. She signs up for the same activity as Dennis, pretending to be Liz, and chats with him a little. She warns him that her sister likes to play tricks, so if he addresses her as Jessica, she’ll say she’s really Elizabeth.

Indeed, Dennis sees Liz elsewhere and calls her Jess, confusing her. Jessica, pretending to be Elizabeth, encourages him to get to know her better, then makes sure Todd is off somewhere else so he can’t interfere. She also tells Dennis, who’s noticed “Jessica” with Todd, that Todd isn’t anyone to worry about. Jess convinces Dennis that “Jessica” likes him, but then Liz starts to put everything together. She tells Todd, and they decide to mess with Jessica for pulling a twin switch.

Liz flirts with Dennis, then gives him half of a maple leaf; if he’s ever uncertain which twin he’s talking to, he can just ask if she has the other half. She starts laying it on thick, saying she wants to spend tons of time together. Jessica gets sick and is sent home early, but Aaron doesn’t know; every time he sees Elizabeth with Dennis, he thinks she’s Jess. He’s jealous and mad that she’s spending time with a guy he doesn’t like. Aaron confronts Dennis, who tells him that Jessica should be allowed to choose which guy she wants to be with. What a concept!

Jessica’s better by Saturday, when everyone comes home from camp (which also happens to be April Fools’ Day). She gets all glammed up and goes to school to welcome everyone home. Dennis now thinks Jessica is Elizabeth, and since it’s April Fool’s Day, he doesn’t believe Jess when she claims it’s really her. He asks for her half of the maple leaf, and when she doesn’t produce it, he goes to Liz. Liz doesn’t produce it either, so Dennis decides he’s done with Wakefields. Smart boy.

Aaron comes to the Wakefields’ house and apologizes to Jessica for not being nicer to her on the trip. Jess realizes that Liz inadvertently did her a favor by hanging out with Dennis, since it made Aaron jealous. Aaron kisses Jessica, giving her the first kiss in the book’s title. I hope she was still contagious.

The Unicorns spend the whole book complaining about camping. Eventually Lila decides to call her father to send a limo and retrieve all the Unicorns. The camp director, Mrs. Sanchez, doesn’t care who she is or who her father is; she can’t use the phone unless there’s an emergency. The girls decide to fake an illness so they’ll be sent home, but when they can’t get their stories straight about their symptoms, the camp nurse again rebuffs them. Next they try to use ESP to contact their parents. Then they stage a fight so they’ll get kicked out. Instead, they’re forced to clean a grease trap in the kitchen.

The Unicorns decide to just leave camp and try to hitchhike back to civilization. They plan to leave after a campfire one night, but Aaron and Winston pull the bear trick again (sigh), telling a story about a ghost bear, which Aaron pretends to be. The girls are too spooked to venture off in the woods alone. When they attempt to leave the next day, Aaron spots them, follows them, and sees a real bear. He has to climb a tree to get away from it. The Unicorns get spooked and head back to camp, forced to suffer through the rest of the week. Aaron spends the night in the tree because no one believed he was really in danger from a bear. Ha!

Thoughts: I didn’t realize Jessica hadn’t had her first kiss yet. This means, amazingly, Elizabeth has surpassed her in this area.

If my friends started singing “Old MacDonald” on a bus full of middle-shoolers, I would just assume I’d died and this was my personal Hell.

Janet: “If you don’t mind, Jessica, some of us are trying to send ESP messages to our parents?” Snort.

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