October 13, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.4, Jessi and the Superbrat: If It Makes You Happy

Posted in TV tagged , at 8:07 pm by Jenn

All’s well that ends well (with ice cream)

Summary: Jessi is struggling to keep up in her new dance class, which she had to work hard to get into. She’s used to being the best, but now she wonders if she was always the best because she loves dance, or if she loves dance because she’s always been so good at it. Jessi chose that dance school because she wanted to improve, which isn’t happening, and her parents are hesitant to let her take more classes because it takes away from family time. Plus, her classes are already keeping her from hanging out with her friends.

Fortunately, Jessi’s dance schedule allows her to take a regular weekly job sitting for Derek Masters, here a TikTok star. His dad asks Jessi to help him film a video while she’s sitting. Mr. Masters (Chaz, ugh) is a complete stage parent, but Jessi loves how supportive he is of his son. She feels like her own parents don’t do enough to encourage her love of dance.

Jessi’s disappointed that she didn’t get the lead in her class’ winter recital. She doesn’t even get a supporting role. She’s just in the corps, one of the “leftovers.” But she lets her friends believe she got the lead so they don’t find out she’s just an icicle. She confides in Derek, admitting that she doesn’t feel like she should keep dancing if she’s not going to get a good role. Derek suggests that she build an “online platform” get sponsors, and move into acting. Jessi decides to try something that will get her more attention and the fame she’s always dreamed of.

This will require getting her parents on board, so Jessi turns to Mary Anne for help, since Mary Anne was able to talk her dad into letting her be more of a teen than a kid. Jessi tells her mother that she wants to build a platform so she’ll have a better shot at getting cast in other projects.

Mrs. Ramsey doesn’t think she has time for that. Jessi drops the bomb that she wants to quit ballet, but her mom won’t let her. The family has sacrificed to get her into her new dance school. Jessi can’t throw that all away just because she didn’t get the lead in her recital. Mrs. Ramsey won’t let her quit because she didn’t get what she wanted when she wanted it. There will be no making of unboxing videos in Mrs. Ramsey’s laundry room instead of continuing to work hard.

Derek auditioned for a TV show about a kid president (Kidmander in Chief – love it), and when he doesn’t get a role, his dad pushes him to refocus and keep at it. He’s pretty overbearing, and Derek feels pressure to keep up his work because it’s bringing in money for his family. Jessi gets him to loosen up with some ballet moves and homemade ice cream instead of worrying about the things he feels he has to do. Her mom taught her to make ice cream so Jessi can just be a normal kid. Unfortunately, they don’t film any of this, so Chaz thinks the whole afternoon was a waste.

Jessi starts to get that when you’re a kid, you need to do things just because they make you happy, not because they get you attention. At her recital, she admires how happy the lead is to be dancing, and not just because she has the lead. Jessi remembers what it was like being three and just loving to dance. She gives her best performance ever, even though she’s “just” in the corps.

The B plot involves a big outing with kids, though we don’t really get to see it. There’s a big town hall meeting about a stop sign, so Kristy wants the girls to plan a fun afternoon for the dozen or so kids whose parents will be attending. They end up taking all the kids to Jessi’s recital. Mary Anne apologizes for not warning Jessi that they would all be coming (since everyone still thought she was the lead), but she wants Jessi to know that her friends will always be there for her, whether or not she’s the star.

The details:

  • Jessi: “One day, my mom was playing this old song, ‘Always Be My Baby’…” That “old” song came out in 1995. Excuse me, I have to go scream into a pillow.
  • Derek’s dad wants to talk to Jessi’s manager about her work with Derek. Of course, as an 11-year-old sitter, Jessi doesn’t have a manager. Well, unless you count Kristy. She reminds Chaz that Jessi’s job is sitting, not creating content. Amazingly, he respects her and offers her some homemade ice cream.
  • We get more of Mrs. Ramsey here than we ever did in the books. She’s a little strict, but it’s more about making sure her daughter is a well-rounded person than it is about enforcing rules. She doesn’t want ballet to become Jessi’s whole life – she wants her to be a regular kid.

The differences/changes:

  • Derek became famous at the age of two, while wearing a cape and calling himself Superbrat. Now he mostly shoots slime at people.
  • Mme. Noelle is about as strict as she is in the books, but she’s not French.
  • Becca doesn’t seem to be painfully shy here. She’s even in an a capella choir.

November 13, 2012

BSC Mystery #30, Kristy and the Mystery Train: Strangers On a Train

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:28 pm by Jenn

That’s how I look when I run, too

Summary: Derek Masters is back in Stoneybrook, but only briefly – he’s just finished a movie about a boy who witnesses a murder on a train, and he’s about to take a train from Boston to Charleston to help promote it. Mr. Masters, one of the producers, asks Kristy, Abby, and Stacey to come along to look after Derek, his brother Todd, David Michael, Linny Papadakis, Nicky Pike, Buddy Barrett, James Hobart, Derek’s friend Greg, and Todd’s friend Daniel. (Yes, Mr. Masters is crazy for letting all those kids come along.)

Since this is a mystery, there is, of course, some weirdness on the train. People get notes talking about secrets coming out, and it’s not clear if they’re part of the movie’s publicity. The ex-husband of one of the movie’s stars comes to the train station and pleads with her to work out their problems, then makes some threats. Someone puts a rubber hand in that same actress’ lunch. A smoke bomb is set off. There are a ton of people on the train who could all be suspects: the movies’ leads, the publicist, the only reporter allowed on board for the whole trip, and the screenwriter, Daniel’s father Ronald.

One night Kristy, Stacey, Todd, and Daniel are in the observation car when they hear two men fighting. It’s too dark to see who they are (or much of anything, really), but Kristy thinks she sees one man push the other off the train. When the possible crime is investigated, no one is missing from the train. The only clues (if you can call them that) the BSC girls find are a page from the script and a note the reporter was given telling her to be in the observation car at the time of the possible attack.

The BSC girls tell their charges what’s going on, and they all search through people’s rooms to see who’s missing a page from the script. (Totally legit babysitting activity, by the way.) All of the scripts are intact, but Derek later realizes that while the dialogue is correct, the names of the characters on the page aren’t the same as the names of the characters in the actual movie. Kristy realizes that the page is from an earlier draft, which would only be owned by Ronald, the screenwriter.

The lights go off and another smoke bomb is detonated, but Kristy manages to get to Stacey and Abby and fill them in. They confront Ronald, who confesses that he took the idea for the movie from a student who’s now blackmailing him. He was fighting with the student, Laurence Channing, in the observation car and thinks Channing is going to come after Daniel. Indeed, Channing tries, but Kristy protects Daniel, and Mr. Masters and Ronald subdue the crazy blackmailer. And no one even had to call Sgt. Johnson!

In the most boring B-plot ever, the other BSC girls babysit at the new/old country club and Jessi teaches Stephen to swim. See, told you it was boring.

Thoughts: This is one of the better BSC books, though there are too many suspects and red herrings. It’s a little like an Agatha Christie mystery for tweens.

Three days on a train with nine elementary-school-aged boys? I would tie myself to the tracks. (Though the kids are really well-behaved.)

The director’s name is Rock Harding. Um, what kind of movies does he direct, exactly?

Other ridiculously named characters: Jane Atlantic, Anne Arbour, Benjamin Athens, Elle San Carlos.

Channing’s plan, revealed after all the drama, is fairly awesome in a soap opera way: He was going to fake his death, frame Ronald for his murder, wait until he was convicted, then reemerge pretending he had amnesia. I would read that book.

April 11, 2011

BSC Mystery #15, Kristy and the Vampires: Go Away, Twilight Fans, This Isn’t What You Think

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 10:55 pm by Jenn

I like my vampires broody or platinum blond, thank you

Summary: Derek Masters, my favorite recurring characters, is coming back to Stoneybrook for the summer, to shoot a TV movie called Little Vampires. His parents hire Kristy to look after him on the set. The other BSC girls, as well as many other Stoneybrookites, hang out on the set as well. Strange things start to happen, at first just little walking-disaster-type things perpetrated by Derek, but then a pane of break-away glass is replaced with real glass, and a stuntwoman’s harness breaks. The BSC girls are all, “Mystery! We’ll solve it!”

The girls have a list of suspects, including the prop guy (who was fired after the glass incident), Derek’s co-star Carson (who’s being upstaged by Derek and clearly doesn’t like him), Derek’s manager, the movie’s PR person (since any publicity is good publicity), and even Cokie Mason, who keeps hanging around, trying to get Carson’s attention. But that’s mostly because she throws a party for the cast and crew, and everyone gets food poisoning. She must have served red herring. (Cough. Any laughs for that?)

Kristy finally pieces together that a girl who’s been hanging around Carson is the daughter of the guy who supplied the not-breakaway glass. Kristy finds out that the girl has been reading a manual about car maintenance, and she tampered with the brakes on the car Derek’s being driven around in. She stops the driver from going anywhere and outs the crazy girl, who wanted to get Derek out of the way because he was stealing all of his scenes with Carson. Yes, there was attempted murder in this BSC book. Also, Mallory is hand-picked by the director to be an extra. I ask, which is more surprising?

In the B plot, Claire is too scared to go to the movie set because of all the vampires. Kristy solves that by having her dress up as a witch, which she thinks is scarier than a vampire, and “scare” the vampires on the set. That’s actually pretty brilliant.

Thoughts: Once again, Stoneybrook turns its back on child-labor laws. Having a 13-year-old watch an eight-year-old on a movie set is totally not legal.

Carson doesn’t help to dispel the hunky-actors-are-dumb stereotype by thinking a TV movie about vampires will make his career.

“What good is being a movie star if you can’t eat cookies whenever you want to?” This is why I love Derek.

October 25, 2010

BSC Mystery #6, The Mystery at Claudia’s House: May Not Contain an Actual Mystery

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 10:54 pm by Jenn

Her first mistake was not dressing like Nancy Drew

Summary: Janine starts acting weird (wearing makeup and borrowing Claudia’s clothes, sometimes without asking), so Claudia tries to figure out what she’s up to. Derek Masters is in town and has appeared on a show about kid detectives, so Claudia enlists him to help with the investigation. This basically involves stalking Janine and staging a fake courtroom scene so she’ll spill the truth (which only makes Derek come clean about his own secret).

For some reason, makeup + different clothes + seeing Janine with a boy doesn’t = Janine has a boyfriend/crush to the BSC girls, who laugh when Mallory suggests it. Turns out she’s right, and Janine didn’t want to say anything because – get this – the guy is hot, and she doesn’t want everyone to judge him on his looks instead of the fact that he’s also super smart. While part of me has to respect that, the rest of me says, “Dang, girl, flaunt it if you got it.” Once Claudia figures out what’s going on, she rats Janine out to her parents, since Janine keeps lying about where she’s been. Janine’s mad but eventually gets over it, probably because she still wants to borrow clothes from Claudia.

Derek gets the B plot, which revolves around him learning that he’s going to have to kiss a girl on his TV show. The Pike kids first try to get Becca and Charlotte to help him out with some practice, and then the triplets try to pimp Vanessa out to him (they seriously pay her $2.13 to kiss Derek). Derek lies and tells everyone he’s kissed a ton of girls so it ain’t no thang. After the failed courtroom sting, he decides to tell the truth, but the Pike kids have already figured out he was lying and don’t really care. And then he doesn’t have to kiss the girl anyway. And for some reason, Derek is one of my favorite recurring characters.

Thoughts: “I think one of the reasons Becca picked Lamont [one of Derek’s co-stars] to have a crush on is because he’s African-American.” No, it’s because biracial relationships aren’t allowed in Stoneybrook.

Claudia reveals that Mary Anne lays out each day’s entire outfit the night before, “from headband to shoes.” First of all, I get laying out an outfit, but the headband? And second of all, why would you tell anyone that?

Claudia wears checked pants with a polka-dotted shirt. Claud, are you trying to kill Tim Gunn?

I’m so stealing “I guess she didn’t want to look at a gift horse’s teeth.”

Derek’s suggestions that Janine was abducted by aliens or is a kleptomaniac are so much more interesting than the truth. (For the record, Jessi agrees with me.)

May 10, 2010

BSC Super Special #5, California Girls!: Neither Super Nor Special

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 10:30 pm by Jenn

Enjoy this picture, 'cause it's the only one we get

Summary: The BSC girls win the lottery (…just go with it) and decide to spend the money on a two-week trip to California. It’s a super special, so everyone gets a storyline:

Dawn is really frustrated with Carol, her dad’s girlfriend, who hangs out with the BSC girls the whole time, in some ways acting like a teenager. Carol eventually acts more like an adult and Dawn realizes that she’s much more likable that way. She tells her father that she’d be okay with him marrying Carol, and even writes Carol a letter telling her all of her feelings.

Claudia meets a guy named Terry who, as she describes him, is basically a male Janine. They have a couple of awkward dates because Claudia feels dumb compared to him, but when she finally relaxes and is herself, things click. Of course, they’re only 13 and live on opposite sides of the country, so this will never go anywhere.

Stacey takes up surfing and hangs out with a bunch of high schoolers. They get into a car wreck because the driver is a complete idiot, and she realizes that she was doing unsafe things. (No one mentions that she was spending her whole vacation with people who weren’t the friends she came to California with, but whatever.)

Mallory wants to be a California girl so badly that she dyes her hair blond. She still gets overlooked, including by a casting director, and her friends have to beat it into her that they liked the old Mallory better. No word what they’ll do about her apparent body dysmorphic disorder.

Jessi has pretty much the same plot she did in Jessi and the Superbrat, even down to having Derek Masters in the story. Nothing happens.

Mary Anne is a walking guide book. She also babysits for a girl named Stephie who has asthma, and freaks out and becomes overprotective, a lot like her father. The girl does eventually have an asthma attack, but it’s after Mary Anne has already calmed down about the whole thing, so she’s able to handle the situation well.

Kristy wants to show up the We ♥ Kids Club, Dawn’s friends’ sorry BSC rip-off, so she accepts a sitting job with two little hellions. She proceeds to suck at keeping them under control. I always knew she was all talk.

Thoughts: I’m sad that there are no ridiculous pictures in this super special. That’s what usually makes them so special! And super!

Even though I’ve never been in her situation, I understand Dawn’s feelings toward Carol. I’m sure a lot of 13-year-old daddy’s girls would find their father’s new girlfriend annoying. But Dawn shows a lot of maturity in starting to accept Carol and even respect her.

Why would you buy a lottery ticket for your 13-year-old daughter? And why would all of the BSC girls’ parents let them spend their $1,428.57 each on a trip instead of college or something? Especially Mary Anne’s father or Mallory’s parents, who just had a bout of unemployment and have to send eight kids to college?

Claudia wears a red shirt with sombreros and cacti on it, blue and white striped pants, polka-dotted suspenders, an engineer’s cap, and cowboy boot earrings. Where did she get an engineer’s cap?

Dawn asks for chicken on the plane. Shoot the ghostwriter.

I’m sorry, Mallory knows how a mortgage works but not what asthma is? And she knows who Marilyn Monroe is but not who Alfred Hitchcock is? You guys, Mallory’s a moron.

Ten-year-olds listen to the Grateful Dead? Really?

The girls keep going to the mall. They’re spending their lottery winnings at the freaking mall. This is why teenagers shouldn’t have access to so much money.

If I were Mr. Schafer and my daughter’s friend dyed her hair without her parents’ permission while she was in my care, I would be on the phone with her parents so fast, it would reverse the Earth’s rotation and we would travel back in time to before the dye was ever purchased.

Jessi thinks Derek will have her picked up in a limo, and she plans to say, “This is just like the one at home.” Jessi’s imagination rivals Karen’s.

Kristy thinks the We ♥ Kids Club has a stupid name. Well, yes, but it’s not like the BSC has the most original name.

Claudia describes Universal Studios as “a theme park like Disney land but it isn’t Disneyland.” Who says Claud is dumb?

Mary Anne corrects Jessi’s grammar. Shut up and read your tour books, Frommer’s.

What’s up with Terry being 13 and liking French restaurants and foreign films? That’s just…not normal.

Jenny Prezzioso wants to name her new baby brother or sister Yucky Toilet. Now that is realistic for a four-year-old.

Every time I hear something about Elaine Stritch, I think of this book, since she appears on Derek’s TV show. I’m weird.

Why does Stacey have to tell her parents she was in a car accident but Mallory doesn’t have to tell her parents she dyed her hair? It would be much more in keeping with Mallory’s ongoing loser-ness for things to happen the other way around.

January 25, 2010

BSC #27, Jessi and the Superbrat: Fame! Jessi’s Gonna Live Forever!

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:33 pm by Jenn

Those are some ugly triplets

Summary: Jessi learns that a kid named Derek Masters, who stars on a TV show, used to live in Stoneybrook. Then, coincidentally, he comes back to town! Wow, who could have seen that coming? Also coincidentally, Jessi winds up sitting for him and learning all sorts of stuff about Hollywood. Derek encourages Jessi to move out to L.A. and become a model or actress or something, despite the fact that she’s a dancer and those things don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. Jessi’s in the midst of auditioning for a community production of Swan Lake, and she uses the idea of going to L.A. to distract herself, or something. I don’t know.

Basically the only other stuff that happens in the book involves Derek and people’s reactions to him. The “superbrat” refers to a kid Derek talks about who’s mean to him, but – shocker! – Derek is actually the superbrat. Yeah, who cares? We want Hollywood dirt, kid!

Thoughts: You can tell this book is from the ’80s because Derek is bullied and doesn’t bring a gun to school to exact revenge.

I love how the shows the Stoneybrook Civic Center puts on are this big deal, like Stoneybrook isn’t a nothing town so small kids can bike across it. Actually, I love how there’s an actual Stoneybrook Civic Center. And how Stamford is apparently the equivalent of New York. Nice fake geography in your fake town, Ann M. Martin.

Karen, who’s obsessed with being a star, makes up a little play about…well, wanting to be a star. And as annoying as Karen usually is, the play is exactly something a six-year-old would come up with. For once, the ghostwriter got something completely right.

The BSC girls throw a breakfast party for Derek and his classmates before he returns to L.A., since the morning is the only time they can find to have a party, and Kristy makes the girls wear robes so the kids know they’re the ones in charge. Because they can’t tell the difference between eight-year-olds and teenagers? Give the kids a little credit, Kristy.