July 3, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls: The Calls Are Claudia’s Inner Demons, and They’re Definitely Inside the House

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 2:49 pm by Jenn

They’re so cute together

The second episode veers away from the book a lot. The phantom caller is really a B-plot – there’s discussion of a possible burglar who makes calls from inside your house, but he’s more of an urban legend than a real threat. Kristy’s the only one who gets calls from an unknown number…but it turns out to be Mary Anne using an old phone.

The main plot is that Claudia is interested in Trevor and wants to go to the Halloween Hop with him. She has a math test coming up, and her parents agree to a suggestion Janine makes that she only be allowed to go to the dance if she passes the test. She fails, but Stacey lets Claudia pass off her 95% as her own. Claudia’s guilt gets the better of her and she comes clean, which means she has to skip the dance, but her parents are at least somewhat understanding about how their expectations hurt her. Claudia feels like she’s good at a lot of things, and she shouldn’t be so pressured into being good at school. Sadly, Claudia’s impressive homemade Tippi-Hedren-in-The-Birds costume goes to waste.

The details:

  • The Kishis and Mary Anne’s dad (Marc Evan Jackson, perfectly cast as always) are exactly like they are in the books. Richard is especially strict. His demeanor affects Mary Anne much more here than in the books.
  • Trevor gets more development than in the books. He’s an artist like Claudia, but he struggles to live up to his famous father’s expectations about his art. He’s very sweet, especially for a 12-year-old boy.
  • Claudia says Janine likes to correct people’s grammar on Reddit. What a perfect detail.
  • Even in the era of cell phones, Kristy and Mary Anne still communicate with flashlights through their windows.

The differences/changes:

  • Kristy finally sits for Karen and Andrew here, but instead of changing her attitude toward Watson, she just warms up to Karen.
  • Instead of a hyper-talkative brat, Karen is a macabre kid who looks like she could be a Victorian ghost in a horror movie. When Kristy’s sitting for her, she holds a wake for a doll. No prayers – “Krakatoa was an atheist.”
  • There’s no Alan, and Kristy doesn’t threaten violence against any children.
  • Charlotte’s mom, a doctor in the books, is the middle school art teacher. (Oops, I screwed this up. Clearly the one who isn’t the art teacher is the doctor.) She’s also in an interracial same-sex relationship. I think if the show does another season and they bring in Jessi, her adjustment to life in Stoneybrook will be a lot easier than in the books.

February 8, 2020

Felicity 1.5, Spooked: War Stories

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

How did they pay for this??

Summary: As usual, Felicity is making a tape for Sally. She tells her that something “very New York” happened the other day. Flashback to “the other day.” Felicity and Ben are chatting while walking to his apartment; she’s interviewing for a job at Dean & DeLuca. She tells Sally that she thought things might be getting deeper between them. As they enter the apartment, someone ambushes them with a gun and makes them get on the floor. Other men are robbing the apartment. One takes Felicity’s necklace.

Once the burglars are gone, Ben and Felicity call the police. A detective asks them to come to the station the next day to look through pictures of suspects. He offers Felicity a ride back to her dorm, and Ben tells her she should go. In Felicity’s room, Meghan is telling Julie, Elena, and Noel about the robbery. Someone in the mailroom said shots were fired. He also told her that she now has the largest single room on campus, so that guy’s a jerk.

Edward calls, and Julie passes the phone to Noel to make him come up with an excuse for Felicity’s absence. Elena accuses Meghan of checking out Felicity’s side of the room. Felicity comes in and Edward is forgotten. He calls back and Felicity assures him (and her friends) that everything’s fine.

Ben’s roommates come home and check to see what the burglars stole. One, Sean (yay, Greg Grunberg is here!), is upset that his “idea book” has been taken. It contained all the great business ideas he’s thought up in the past four years. Another roommate says he can just write them all down again. Sean doubts he’ll be able to remember all of them. The ones he does remember: a 900 number for reporting UFO sightings and a quick car wash. He asks if Ben even tried to stop the guys. Then he realizes that was mean.

Felicity tells her friends how scared she was when she saw the burglar’s gun. Noel chimes in with his memory of the closest he ever came to being robbed – a homeless man pushed him and ruined his birthday cake. Thanks for your contribution, Noel. Elena thinks it’s different for women than men when a gun is involved. A couple years ago, she was mugged at gunpoint. Instead of being scared, she was mad. Sounds about right. Zach joins the group (in a pink shirt) and pulls Julie aside as Noel asks Felicity more questions about the experience. Zach awkwardly asks Julie to go see The Exorcist with him the next night.

Ben calls Felicity late that night, unable to sleep. She meets him in the dorm’s lounge, where he says he just wanted to make sure she was okay. Felicity tells Sally that she once read about soldiers bonding after going through battle together. She and Ben stayed up talking, and now Felicity understands what that bond is like.

Felicity is antsy at her Dean & DeLuca interview, and tells the interviewer, Javier, that she had an amazing night. He asks for details. She tells him about the robbery, then her night talking with Ben. Javier can relate to the awesome feeling of spending time with someone you like. He sees on Felicity’s résumé that she worked at a plus-size clothing store in high school. He’s surprised that the women who shopped there didn’t hate her, since she’s thin. Anyway, the Dean & DeLuca job is hers.

Elena corners Noel in a bathroom to complain about a Halloween decoration on her door. She’s offended that he chose a witch for her. She hates the holiday and doesn’t think anyone actually likes it. Noel says he does. She’s skipping a big Halloween party to study, but Noel thinks she should try to have some fun for once. Felicity and Ben look through mugshots at the police station, though Ben isn’t doing much looking. He finds an excuse to leave, though he says he’ll come back tomorrow to do some more looking. The detective tells Felicity that some people have trouble with this process.

Fast-forward to that night. Julie and Zach are leaving the movie, now a little more comfortable talking to each other. He gives her his jacket and asks her to get something to eat. Felicity’s studying in her room when Ben calls; he’s come by again to see her. Felicity walks by Noel’s door on her way to go down and meet him, and he asks if she’s going out. He’s worried she’s going alone, though maybe he’s more worried that she’ll be with Ben.

At Ben’s apartment, he and Felicity carve pumpkins for the Halloween party Sean’s throwing. Ben will be dressing up as Frankenstein’s monster. Felicity offers to dress as the Bride of Frankenstein. He likes that idea and says they’ll hang out. She asks him why he left the police station. He pretends that it had nothing to do with his emotions about the robbery.

Felicity worries about having to tell her mother that her grandmother’s necklace was taken. Ben says he hasn’t felt the way he did during the robbery in a long time. She tries to get him to talk about the times he’s felt like that before, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. They put candles in their pumpkins and admire them together.

Felicity says that she’s heard people say your life flashes before your eyes right before you die. She didn’t see her life during the robbery; she was just thinking about an assignment they were going on together, and her job interview, and a chem lab she hasn’t gotten her grade on yet.

Ben hesitates, then admits that his father had a temper when Ben was younger. Sometimes he would get mad because he’d been drinking, but sometimes there was no trigger. Ben thought he would feel safer when he moved out and came to New York, though he knows that’s kind of a ridiculous thought. Sean comes home and Ben decides to call an end to the evening.

The next day, Ben doesn’t meet Felicity at the police department. She looks through mugshots on her own. Elena apologizes to Noel for her reaction to the witch decoration. Her father never let her trick-or-treat, because he thought it was dangerous, so she’s never celebrated before. Noel has gotten them Subway uniforms (the restaurant, not, like, the actual subway), which doesn’t make her any more excited about the party. He has to go to the meeting, so he’ll meet her at the party.

Felicity and Julie show up together, Felicity as the Bride of Frankenstein and Julie as Catwoman. (Oh, man, Elena should have been Catwoman. That would have been awesome.) Ben has changed his costume idea and is wearing a suit. He blames Sean, who wanted his roommates to go as the Rat Pack. Ben isn’t even sure who he is. Someone else at the party thinks Felicity is Courtney Love. Ha!

Elena calls Noel to yell at him for his stupid costume idea. People keep placing sandwich orders with her and she’s sick of it. A guy named Blair, who’s dressed as the Tin Man, takes the phone when she’s done, and it looks like Elena might have found a love interest. Felicity confronts Ben for bailing on her at the police station, but he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. A guy dressed as Frankenstein’s monster brings her a drink and tries to get her more excited about the party.

Julie and Zach (who’s dressed as an explorer) chat outside about the movie he’s making. When the conversation gets awkward, as it usually does, Zach leans in for a kiss. Julie isn’t ready for that and goes back inside. Frankenstein’s monster only wants to talk about medicine and money, but Felicity isn’t interested. She’s heading for the bathroom when Julie stops her and says that Zach kissed her. Felicity asks for a rain check on the conversation so she can look for the bathroom…and instead catch Ben making out with someone else.

Upset, Felicity goes home and cries on her bed. Noel finds her there, still in her costume, and offers his help. She tells him she feels lost in every aspect of her life. Noel thinks she needs to focus on herself right now, not Ben. She just went through something horrible, and it’s made her feel vulnerable and weak. She needs to remember that she’s strong, beautiful, and independent. Everything will be fine. Great, even. Felicity asks if he really means it, then throws up on him. Noel says that changes his attitude about her.

The next day, Noel goes to Elena’s room to apologize for ditching her at the party. She’s over it – she hooked up with Blair, who’s still in her room. She claims they only hung out and listened to music, but I don’t know. Noel cracks himself up by warning her to be careful, since the Tin Man doesn’t have a heart.

Felicity confronts Ben in class, accusing him of blowing her off because they shared a moment together the other night. She felt stupid in her costume, without a partner. Ben says he only called her late at night because he was worried about her. She thinks he was worried about himself. He was scared, and when he got too close to Felicity, he got scared again. The next time he needs a late-night friend, he should call his make-out buddy.

Ben stops her from leaving and tells her that not everyone is as judgmental as she is. If he wants to make out with someone, he can. Felicity can’t make him feel guilty about it. Not everything has a big meaning, including their time together. Felicity realizes that that Julie’s in the classroom and heard them talking about their late nights together.

Felicity works at her new job while voicing over her letter to Sally. She’s realized that she’s been obsessing over a guy who’s not really that special. She needs to let it go. Ben and Zach hang out and play video games, and Zach asks if Ben and Julie went out. Ben says they just hung out. Zach confides that Julie shut him down after he kissed her. He’s not sure if he should try again with her.

Julie finds Zach while he’s working on his movie and expresses her appreciation for how he treats her like a real person. She got freaked out by their kiss because she’s worried about messing up whatever it is they have. Zach says he wouldn’t have normally acted on impulse, but he doesn’t have a lot of dating experience. If she just wants to be friends, that’s fine. Julie kisses him, so I don’t think friendship is what she wants.

Ben goes for a walk and broods on a park bench. Noel catches him outside Felicity’s room and says she’s not home. Noel is worried that Ben will hurt Felicity, so he doesn’t want to tell Ben where she is. Ben gets it out of him anyway. He goes to Dean & DeLuca, where Javier’s on the phone with his mom, talking about his boyfriend, I guess? Felicity tries to ignore Ben, but she reluctantly sits with him on her break.

Ben apologizes for being a jerk and tells her she was right about why he pushed her away. He has a hard time connecting with people, especially those who make him nervous. Felicity doesn’t think she makes him nervous, but he says she does. He gives her a necklace to replace the one the burglar took. He also offers to go back with her and look at more mugshots. The detective said the odds of catching the burglars are small, but Ben thinks they should give it a shot anyway. He puts the necklace on her.

Sally sends back a tape: Soldiers do bond during battle, but after the battle ends, they go home to try to make sense of things. She wasn’t going to tell her new love interest about her fiancé’s death, but Felicity’s tape made her realize she needs to. We all need to share our war stories because they bring us together and keep us alive.

Thoughts: Ben’s make-out buddy is dressed as the pink Power Ranger, an inside joke since Amy Jo Johnson (Julie) played the Pink Ranger.

Someone once mentioned that TV characters always have super-impressive Halloween costumes, and now it’s all I can think about during a Halloween episode.

Julie, you can wear little butterfly clips or you can put your hair in pigtails, but you can’t do both at the same time. Actually, I would recommend not doing either.

December 3, 2019

ER 5.5, Masquerade: The Scariest Thing This Halloween Is the Stupidity of the Future Doctors of America

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Peter Benton (can ya dig it?)

Summary: It’s Halloween, and Jerry’s plotting something. He stashes something behind a Dumpster in the ambulance bay, then tries to pretend he didn’t. Mark and Chuny meet an ambulance bringing in a woman named Coco who’s babbling. She claims to be pregnant, but the paramedics don’t think she is. Jerry calls someone to report that their plan is in motion.

Weaver tells Lydia that the night shift isn’t wearing costumes this year, since they might scare the patients. I don’t think Lydia’s French-maid costume will scare anyone, except maybe a patient who thinks he or she is being treated by an actual maid instead of a certified nurse. Weaver suggests festive pins instead. She thanks Randi for reading her memo about costumes, but Randi, who’s wearing a suit not unlike one Weaver might wear, has dressed up as “a total stiff.”

Yosh sends Doug to the new pediatric area of the ER, telling him there’s a child with puncture wounds. It’s just a prank organized by Carol, who wants to kiss her boyfriend with vampire fangs. He’s not amused, which is pretty interesting since, as Carol points out, he’s pulled plenty of pranks in the past. He wants to be more serious now that he’s an attending. He’s also asserting some power by insisting on signing off on all pediatric patients. That means he’ll be looking over Mark and Weaver’s shoulders.

Mark asks Carol to help him with Coco, who continues to claim to be nine months pregnant without any evidence. Mark asks for a tox screen and psych consult. Elizabeth has dressed up as a milkmaid, I guess, because she loves Halloween. Benton teases her for thinking that Halloween involves romantic hayrides. After all, they’re in Chicago. He says he has something against costumes. Elizabeth is sure that when he was a kid, there was someone he wanted to be. Benton claims there wasn’t. Dale ruins Elizabeth’s bad mood by giving her annoying work to do.

Weaver brushes off a man who comes to the ER looking for Mark; she’s busy trying to get a computer to work. Lily brings a wheelchair and some medical supplies into the ER, saying she found them in the ambulance bay. Jerry offers to take care of putting it away, then takes it right back outside. Carter arrives with Roxanne, who’s going to a teamster party that night, which gives her an excuse not to help Carter chaperone a dorm party. Lucy catches them as they’re about to make out, and she doesn’t get the hint that Carter wants her to go away. He gives her a fake arm so she can practice inserting IVs.

Weaver gives Carter a bunch of files so he can present a case at a conference the next day. She notes that it would be good experience for someone who eventually wants to be chief resident. Paramedics bring in a drunk man named Joe who claims he wants to quit drinking. Carter tells Lucy to set him up for detox.

Mark meets up with the man who was looking for him, Dan Litvak, a potential new chief for County. Weaver recognizes his name and beats herself up for not being more polite to him earlier. Doug gets a real patient, a kid named Jared who had an allergic reaction to his clown makeup. That means he’ll have to skip trick-or-treating. Jeanie promises to find him something fun around there instead. “Fun stuff around here sucks,” Jared declares, possibly making George Clooney break character and laugh.

Mark checks in on Coco, who would like to know where her baby is. He tells Carol to give her Haldol, an antipsychotic. Weaver finds an excuse to talk to Mark so she can wrangle an introduction to Litvak. She pretends not to know who he is or why he’s there. She learns that he’s there for his second interview, and the search committee plans to vote tonight on who to hire. Weaver didn’t think the vote was until next week. Litvak isn’t very impressed with his supposed competition for the job.

Lucy does well with the fake arm, so Carter agrees to let her try an IV on a real patient. She’s apologetic for not being truthful with him before, but he admits that he wasn’t supervising her closely enough. They head off to take care of Joe, but he’s fled the hospital. Lucy hopefully asks if anyone else needs an IV.

As Elizabeth tries to guess who Benton wanted to be as a kid, they meet up with Reese, who’s come by for a visit. He’s adorably dressed as a bee. Carla says they just came from a party at Jackie and Walt’s, and she was unable to convince Walt to put on one of his ’70s “supa-dupa-fly” costumes and come with them. Elizabeth makes sure to get a picture of Reese with his parents.

Thanks to the Haldol, Coco is now coherent, but she still says she’s pregnant. Carol tells her she’s not, but Mark realizes they didn’t get a pregnancy test, so it’s possible she is. Coco tells them she has schizophrenia and stopped taking her medication when she found out she was pregnant. The Haldol could leave the baby with malformed limbs.

Benton and Weaver work on a trauma patient together, debating whether a sternal saw should be used in the ER or just the OR. She thinks his preferred way of doing things is too slow. Mark confirms that Coco’s pregnant, but they don’t know if the Haldol affected the fetus. Coco wonders if she’s really up for carrying the pregnancy to term, since it means staying off her meds. Mark thinks she should wait a little while before she makes a decision.

Later, Mark tells Carol that he thinks Coco might terminate the pregnancy. Carol notes that that would get him off the hook for possibly harming the baby. She invites him to get a drink after work, but he has plans to meet up with Jen for some kind of talk. Carter tells Lucy that she can leave early, since everything in the ER is under control. She heads off to get ready for the party he’s chaperoning.

Joe is brought back in, repentant over leaving earlier. He says again that he wants to quit drinking and make a fresh start. The drink he left the hospital to have will be his last. Mark says he’ll get Joe a detox bed if he promises not to run off again. He’s decided to believe Joe when he says he’ll stay; he was a cynic with Coco, and look how that turned out. Carol decides to get some extra insurance by taking Joe’s clothes.

Weaver tries to examine a little girl named Amanda who won’t stop screaming. Doug steps in to come up with a way to test her without using needles. Benton, Elizabeth, and Jeanie tend to a preteen named Barbie Klingman who was in a car accident. She has an abdominal bruise from her seatbelt, which may mean she has a bowel injury that will require exploratory surgery.

Litvak observes as Doug and Weaver keep tending to Amanda, using a pad that gives her a painkiller without an injection. Weaver, never Doug’s biggest fan, is very pleased with the method. Litvak is familiar with it, as his hospital participated in some trials. Lucy’s one of only a few people at the dorm party, so Carter feels comfortable going off to do some work for his presentation. Lucy offers to be in charge while he’s gone, as if the three med students there need a chaperone.

Benton, Romano, and Dale operate on Barbie, who still has glitter on her face from her princess costume. Romano makes some Benton-seriously-report-him-to-HR comments about how Benton and Elizabeth should check into a jungle-themed hotel room for the night. The surgeons find a couple of masses in Barbie’s abdomen that appear to be abnormal lymph nodes. Instead of letting Elizabeth scrub in, Dale sends her to pathology to get the masses tested.

Jeanie tries to get Doug to realize that he can’t see every pediatric patient on his own, so he needs to send some to the regular ER. Rachel comes by to hang out in the lounge while Mark and Jen talk. She mentions that she and Jen are moving to St. Louis, which is news to her father. Elizabeth returns to the OR with results from the biopsy of the masses. They’re testicles.

Carter returns to the dorm, where the party has really gotten going. Maybe a little too much. For example, the med students have set some furniture on fire and are in the process of throwing it out a window. These people are studying to be doctors. Pray you never get sick. Lucy’s been drinking, so she’s not much of a chaperone. Carter gives the fire-starters a fire extinguisher, then declares the party over. A tipsy Lucy doesn’t get why and asks if they were too loud. “No, the furniture was too on fire,” Carter replies.

Mark complains to Carol that once again, Jen has made a major life decision and he’s the last to know. Carol laments that it’s right on the heels of Mark getting to spend extra time with Rachel. Mark was able to convince the necessary people to give Joe a detox bed, but he’s taken off again. Mark is having a really bad night.

Elizabeth sits with Dale as he tells the Klingmans (Klingmen?) that Barbie is biologically male, but her anatomy didn’t develop properly, making her appear female. She’ll need estrogen to continue life as a girl. They had to remove the testicles because other people with her condition have developed malignancies. Elizabeth tells the Klingmans that Barbie’s genetics don’t matter; she was raised as a girl, so she’s a girl. However, her male anatomy means she’ll never have children.

Elizabeth says they’ll get the Klingmans in touch with a genetic counselor to figure out how and when to give Barbie the news. As they leave, Dale compliments Elizabeth on her skills at speaking with patients’ family members. Just when it looks like he might not be a 100% horrible person, he cracks that the Klingmans will have to change Barbie’s name to Ken. IT’S CALLED INTERSEX, DOCTOR. Look it up.

Lucy and some fellow med students keep drinking in their lounge, complaining about the horrible assignments they’ve been given by their residents. Lucy uses the fake arm to hold a shot for her. At County, Weaver tells Romano how important it is for the ER staff to be able to use a sternal saw in traumas. Romano doesn’t think it would get enough use or would fit within the standard of care. Weaver says the current standard of care is poor anyway. Romano advises her to do a study and enlists Benton to work on it with her. Benton doesn’t support the idea, but Romano thinks Weaver’s proposal will fail anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Elizabeth’s good mood from earlier is faltering, and she’s not sure she’ll be up to a date with Benton after they’re off work. He calls Walt to ask for help in turning things around. Mark goes to Doc Magoo’s with Jen and Rachel so they can talk about how Jen is moving to another state and hasn’t said anything yet. Mark surprises her by not fighting her decision to move. They can’t both spend every day with Rachel, and he accepts that. Spending extra time with her over the summer helped him see that he and Jen need to think about her more than themselves.

Barbie wakes up after surgery and laments not being able to go trick-or-treating. She at least had fun making her costume with her mother. Elizabeth finds her tiara and puts it on her. Lucy, Bernard, and a third student are now pretty drunk, and think their fourth friend, Willie, has passed out from overindulging. They pull the prank on him where you put shaving cream on someone’s hand and then tickle his nose with a feather. Willie doesn’t regain consciousness, making Lucy realize that something’s really wrong. She sends the guys to call 911 while she gets Carter.

Carter determines that Willie’s not breathing, so he gives Willie CPR. His reward is vomit in his mouth. As an ambulance arrives, Lucy realizes that Willie took liquid ecstasy. Another student says a classmate, Branch, also took some, so Lucy rushes off to check on him. Mark settles a sports bet with Officer Al, then learns that Joe has turned up at a liquor store. Mark offers to call off the bet if Al will get Joe and bring him back to the ER.

Lucy and Carter find Branch passed out in a bathroom and give him CPR together. Benton checks on Elizabeth, who’s working late with Dale (though he calls her a “great little intern”). Benton pulls rank and tells Dale to let her leave already. Elizabeth is back to being excited about Halloween and wants to put her costume back on before she and Benton go out. She’s also still trying to guess his childhood dream job.

Al brings in Joe…only he’s not Joe. He’s Lloyd, Jerry’s cousin, and has used the hospital supplies Jerry took for him to enter a costume contest. He’s proud to have won an honorable mention. Weaver compliments Doug on all his work over the day, then gives him charts for all the patients the other doctors saw, since he said he wanted to sign off on all of them. Suddenly Weaver likes this new process. Carter and Lucy accompany Branch and Willie to the hospital, but since Lucy’s been drinking, Carter won’t let her assist.

Elizabeth exits the hospital to find Benton in one of Walt’s “supa-dupa-fly” suits, leaning against a vintage card. He’s filled the backseat with hay and gotten his nephew, Peanut, to take them for a hayride. Music comes on, and Benton notes that Elizabeth never figured out who he wanted to be as a kid. She recognizes the song as the theme from Shaft.

Weaver gives Jerry a bill for all the supplies he borrowed for Lloyd. He doesn’t have the money, so he’ll get some of it taken out of his paycheck for the next ten weeks. Mark tells Weaver that the search committee voted to hire Litvak as the new chief. He has a huge ego, so he wasn’t Mark’s first choice. He admits that he voted for Weaver. Jerry has a question about his paycheck garnishments, but now that Weaver won’t be in charge anymore, she decides to tear up the bill. She puts on some devil horns as she leaves for the night.

Carol stays late with Doug as he unloads some supplies in his new workspace. He gets her back for her earlier prank by pretending to cut himself with a box cutter. Carter meets up with Lucy back at the dorm after determining that Branch and Willie will be fine. Lucy says she didn’t know they were doing drugs, but Carter blasts her for not being better at being in charge. Lucy notes that she wasn’t responsible for policing everyone – he was supposed to be in charge. Carter chastises her for not being more mature. You were supposed to be in charge, Carter! Gaaaah!

And now, my favorite Benton/Elizabeth moment ever: As Peanut drives them around Chicago, Benton leans back coolly, channeling Richard Roundtree. Elizabeth sings along with the song and he teases her about not having rhythm. She cracks herself up by playing air tambourine badly enough that Benton has to ask what she’s doing.

Thoughts: You still can’t convince me that Benton was ever actually a child. He’s like Chidi from The Good Place – a 40-year-old in a child’s body.

Parents, don’t name your kid Barbie. She’ll never be able to escape “where’s Ken?” jokes. Also, don’t name your child Branch. That’s just mean.

Bravo to Kellie Martin for doing all the party scenes on skates, since Lucy was dressed as a roller-skating ’50s waitress.

October 26, 2019

My So-Called Life 9, Halloween: Legendary

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

Keep up the good work, Danielle

Summary: Angela’s carving a jack o’ lantern as she voices over that Halloween is the chance to be someone else. Patty offers to loan her a flapper dress, which Angela has already declined ten times. She’s not brave enough to wear a costume to school. Danielle says she can’t be Catwoman, since another girl in her class is going to be Catwoman and will look better in the costume. Graham suggests she go as Madonna instead. Patty says Danielle wants to be something scary. “Who’s scarier than Madonna?” Graham asks. Danielle tells him that she peaked.

Patty gets a call from the guy she hired to replace Graham; he’ll be late to work today because of a chiropractor’s appointment. The parents say nothing as Angela and Danielle pick on each other. Patty tells Danielle that this should be a lesson not to leave things till that last minute. Danielle also rejects Patty’s flapper dress for the tenth time. Angela reminds her mother that she’s going to Rayanne’s that night. Patty tells her she mentioned that ten times. So everyone’s picking on each other in the Chase house this morning.

As the girls leave for school, Patty complains to Graham that his replacement, Boyd, isn’t as good as he is. She suddenly realizes that they don’t have costumes for Camille’s costume party that night. Graham suggests the flapper dress, but Patty says she hates it.

A few people at Angela’s school are wearing costumes, including Sharon, though people mistake her for a rat instead of a cat. Angela regrets not dressing up, even though she doesn’t know who she would be. Brian comments that people are walking around dressed like idiots. “I wouldn’t talk,” Angela shoots back.

Their English teacher (who’s dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi) tells them they’re going to start reading about ghosts. She notes that Jordan’s absent and asks if anyone knows him. Angela voices over that that’s a good question. She’s talked to him and kissed him, but does she really know him? The teacher asks her to tell Jordan to stop skipping class or she’ll have him expelled. She only has time to look after the good kids, not the bad ones.

In the hallway after class, Brian gets distracted by the sight of Rayanne shaving her legs in the girls’ bathroom. Rickie comes in dressed as Brian, saying that he wanted to be “everyone else” this Halloween. Angela joins them and Rayanne excitedly gives her something to wear. She’s annoyed that Halloween is boring this year. She thinks they should find Tino, since he’ll make it fun.

Sharon praises Rayanne for wearing a vampire costume, since hardly anyone else is dressing up. Rayanne compliments her rat costume. As Angela emerges from a stall, dressed like a 1960s schoolgirl, Rickie looks through a book she got in class and sees that it was once used by someone named Nicky Driscoll. Everyone but Angela recognizes the name. There’s an urban legend that he died on Halloween after a dance. He fell from the gym rafters while painting the room black and was impaled by a girl’s high heel. Rickie heard that he was hanging a banner that declared his love for some girl.

Angela thinks someone’s playing a prank on her, making her think Nicky used her book. Sharon shares a story she heard about electricity going out at the exact moment Nicky died. Rayanne’s aunt once rode on Nicky’s bike – the same aunt whose clothes Angela is wearing. Rayanne tells Rickie he looks good without makeup. Angela finds a ticket in her pocket from a 1963 Halloween dance – the same dance Nicky supposedly died right after. She asks Rickie what else he knows about Nicky (except she accidentally calls him Nicky Catalano).

Patty and Graham go to a costume shop, which is surprisingly well-stocked, considering it’s already Halloween. The owner tells them they’re out of Power Rangers costumes, so they better not want any. She thinks Patty should dress as Rapunzel, and Graham should be a pirate. Graham laughs at the thought of Patty dressing as Rapunzel. The owner says that if they’d come in the day before, she could have given them Bill and Hillary costumes. They should take this as a lesson not to leave things till the last minute. (Ha!) They accept the offered costumes.

At school, Angela thinks she sees a guy wearing 1960s clothes, but before she can get to him, he disappears, leaving Jordan in his place. She makes sure he knows that she’s in costume and wouldn’t normally dress like this. She passes on their English teacher’s message that Jordan needs to come to class or he’ll get kicked out of school. Jordan doesn’t care.

Rayanne finds Angela and tells her that she and Tino have arranged to have a séance at the school that night. They’re going to try to contact Nicky. Angela goes to the library and looks through the 1963 yearbook, voicing over that when someone dies young, “they stay that way forever, like a vampire.” The yearbook is dedicated to Nicky, and the picture looks just like the guy Angela saw in the hallway. Rayanne warns her that dead guys will break your heart.

She has a magazine with Kurt Cobain’s picture on it and says she can’t look at it. Angela says that it feels like some people have to die young; it fits them. She thinks having a séance would be sick. She doesn’t believe in ghosts anyway. Rayanne notes that she ran to the library to look up Nicky right after she saw the guy in the hallway, so obviously she does believe in ghosts.

Brian interrupts Rayanne and Rickie while they’re talking about the séance (Rickie wants to skip it) and says Rickie can return his clothes any time. Rayanne says he won’t need them past Halloween. The whole point of him wearing them today is that he wouldn’t normally wear them. Brian asks if they’re going to a party, but Rayanne ignores him. She mentions the séance, and Brian isn’t sure if he’s invited. Rickie admits that he believes in ghosts, so the whole thing spooks him a little.

Patty comes home from work complaining about Boyd. She wants to fire him, by which Graham thinks she means she wants him to fire Boyd. Danielle has dressed up as Angela, complete with red wig, and scares her parents by making them think she’s gone emo along with Angela. Graham encourages Patty to give Boyd another chance. As they get dressed for their party, Patty says it’s reasonable for her to fire someone who isn’t working out. Graham says he’ll do the firing if she really needs him to. It’s scary for her to think about it, but Graham says there are worse things in the world. His pirate costume makes him bold.

Sharon comes by to pick up something of Camille’s and gives Danielle some pointers on impersonating Angela. Sharon says she has plans with Kyle, but it looks like she wants to hang out with Danielle instead. Brian shows up at the school, saying he’s locked out of his house and his keys are in Rickie’s pants. Angela and Rayanne have a good laugh over that.

Danielle and Sharon have a great time trick-or-treating together. Danielle says she hates Angela and wishes Sharon were her sister. Sharon points out that she’s dressed as the person she claims to hate. Tino is a no-show at the séance (shocking!), so Rayanne comes up with a new idea: Break into the school and write “Nicky Driscoll was here” on the gym floor in red lipstick. They’ll become legends, like Nicky. Rickie reminds her that Nicky became legendary because he died.

Angela notes that they’ll set off an alarm if they break in. Rayanne teases that Brian the nerd probably knows a nerdy way in. She realizes he really does, so she tells him he needs to come in with them so they can get back out before any cops possibly show up. Brian gives in, showing them a way in through an old storage area. He thinks Angela is risking screwing up her whole life by pulling this stunt. Angela says that at least she’ll know she’s alive.

The kids make it to a stairwell, where Angela thinks she sees Nicky passing by the door. She follows him, and Rayanne and Brian accidentally get locked in the stairwell together. They head back to the storage room, telling Angela to meet them in the gym. The lights go out and Brian doesn’t know how to turn them back on.

Angela goes looking for Nicky, following the sound of the song “Blue Moon” playing in the gym. It’s decorated for the dance, and two girls in 1960s clothes appear, talking about Nicky. Rickie’s still outside, where some guys are hanging out, including Jordan. He explains that the other guys come every year to make a mess, and Jordan’s sick of it. He’s trying to find out who egged Tino’s car. Jordan says that it’s always the same, but he comes anyway because something cool might happen and he doesn’t want to miss it.

Angela listens in as the girls in the gym talk about Nicky. One says he and his loser friends went to the cemetery. She doesn’t want to keep hanging out with him; he’ll just drag her down to loser status. She gets rid of the rose he gave her, and Angela picks it up. She hears yelling in the hallway and runs out to see Nicky.

Patty passes out candy at home, happy to be around sweet children for once. It’s almost time for their party, but Graham wants to make them late by getting romantic. They get interrupted by more trick-or-treaters. After the kids leave, Rapunzel and the pirate make out. When more kids show up, Graham just hands one of them the whole bowl of candy. The parents go back to their makeout session, and Patty tells Graham to leave his tights on a little longer.

Rayanne blasts Brian for letting the door shut behind them because he was checking out her legs. He starts to ditch her, but she confesses that she’s afraid of the dark and doesn’t want to be left alone. He asks if there’s a reason she’s afraid of the dark. Rayanne explains that when she was a kid, her father would come home high and lock her in the basement. She’d sleep at the bottom of the stairs, the only place where she could see light through the door.

She starts to cry and Brian comforts her, but she laughs and says she was lying. She doesn’t know why she’s afraid of the dark. Rayanne continues that she saw Brian watching her while she was shaving. Brian says that since his hobby is photography, he just notices stuff. Rayanne says her hobby is being stuff that people notice. She asks him seriously not to leave her alone in the dark.

One of Nicky’s friends urges him to help hang up a dummy dressed like their principal. Nicky warns that they’ll get kicked out of school. He looks right at Angela, though the girls in the gym didn’t see her. Brian calls his parents to lie that he’s spending the night with a sick friend. Rayanne coaches him on what to say.

Angela approaches Nicky, who takes back the rose. He knows the girl he gave it to thinks he’s a loser. He decides to help his friend with the dummy after all. Angela warns that he’ll get hurt. Nicky replies that at least he’ll know he’s alive. Angela tells him he’s not; he threw his life away for no reason. Nicky dismisses her and goes into the gym, dropping the rose in the hall. The door locks behind him and Angela can’t follow.

The next morning, Danielle returns the clothes she borrowed to Angela’s room. Patty thinks she’s happy to be herself again. Danielle leaves Angela a couple of pieces of candy, since she didn’t go trick-or-treating. Rayanne and Brian wake up next to each other, screaming when they realize they slept together. Rayanne finds Angela in the hallway and rushes her out before anyone can see them.

Patty calls Camille to say she and Graham are sorry they missed the party. She lies that they were going to show up as Bill and Hillary. Graham questions her lie, and Patty says it seemed easier. She doesn’t get Rapunzel’s deal anyway – people only know she had long hair and was imprisoned. Graham says she let her hair down for her rescuer to climb up to her. He asks if Patty wants him to fire Boyd. She says part of her wants him to. Graham says that part of her wants him to want her to. But when Boyd calls, Patty takes care of it on her own.

Rickie returns Brian’s clothes to him and says Rayanne already told him about her night with Brian. She said it was a waste of time and nothing happened. Brian, who clearly feels otherwise, pretends to agree. Patty returns her and Graham’s costumes to the store, where the owner guesses that her bodice was ripped. Apparently that happens all the time; Rapunzel just has that magic. She doesn’t charge for the damage. Patty tries to ask a question, and the owner guesses that she wants to keep the costumes. But what would they do with them the rest of the year? Patty just keeps a handkerchief instead.

Angela spots Jordan in the hallway before English class, which he’s skipping again. He thinks the teacher has been waiting for an excuse to kick him out because she knows he’s a loser. Angela says the teacher doesn’t know him, so he can’t let her decide what he does. Jordan says maybe he wants to get kicked out. Angela tells him that that doesn’t mean people can’t try to stop him. She knows that Jordan doesn’t think she can understand, but she does. She heads to class, and a few moments later, Jordan follows. Angela opens her/Nicky’s book and finds a flattened rose inside.

Thoughts: How awesome that this episode came up right before Halloween.

I can see Patty as Hillary, but I can’t picture Graham as Bill.

Rickie, please hang out with Brian more. You need better influences in your life.

January 15, 2019

ER 3.5, Ghosts: Benton’s Bedside Manner Is Way Scarier Than Any Ghost

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

I love this

Summary: It’s Halloween, so when Jeanie stops by Al’s house, she’s joined by some trick-or-treaters. She’s there for tax documents, not candy. At County, Gant complains to Carter that Benton wrote him a bad evaluation. Carter got the exact same evaluation, so he can relate. Jerry’s dressed as a kangaroo, and I wonder if Carol ever told him that she saw it. He reminds her that she has a shift on the hospital’s healthmobile that night. The lights flicker, and Lydia suggests a ghost on the fifth floor is messing around.

Susan’s coming back from Hawaii in a few hours, and Mark plans to welcome her with orange carnations. Chuny asks if he and Doug are coming to a party that night, where Haleh will be singing jazz. She makes Mark think that carnations weren’t the best idea. A man dressed as Frankenstein’s monster is brought in with a gunshot wound, and Weaver works on him with Gant and Carter. She lets Gant run things, and she approves of all his moves. When Benton joins the group, he takes over and makes Gant feel less confident. Carter steps in, and whatever he does makes the patient rise off the table like the monster he’s dressed as.

Carol goes to Malcolm X Community College for her first pre-med physics class. She’s paired with a lab partner, a kid named William who might not even be a teenager yet. He thinks her nurse’s uniform is a costume. Doug is also working in the healthmobile that night, thanks to Anspaugh, and isn’t looking forward to dealing with Chicago’s local nutbar patients out in the field. Chuny says her recent turn in the healthmobile wasn’t that bad. They got shot at, but since the shooters missed, she calls it a success.

Keaton quizzes Benton on children’s developmental milestones, and he proves that he knows nothing about babies. (Just wait, Benton. Your time is coming.) Carter knows all the answers, though Keaton says it’s probably because he did his pediatrics rotation more recently than Benton. Turns out kids don’t like Benton any more than Benton likes kids, so their young patient cries when Benton holds him. Keaton suggests that he try some props to make himself more appealing to kids.

Jeanie and Doyle tend to a woman named Sophie Jennings who’s in the late stages of Lou Gehrig’s and was found unconscious by her husband. She has a DNR, but Jeanie wants to treat her with medication anyway. Doyle objects, but she has to defer to Jeanie, who, as a physician’s assistant, has seniority. Weaver and Anspaugh tell Mark that Weaver’s done some research that should bring in a track. Anspaugh’s pleased that Weaver works for him, and he thinks Mark needs to step up his own research. He suggests something about pus. Mark is understandably…uninspired.

William helps Carol with their labwork, recognizing that she hasn’t taken physics before. He offers to help her with her homework, since he helped his mom when she got her real estate license. Paramedics bring in a ten-year-old girl named Tina who was hit by a car while trick-or-treating with her father. Benton quizzes Gant as they work, then tells Carter to hold the girl’s hand and calm her down (probably so Benton himself doesn’t have to do it). Next door, Mark and Weaver work on Tina’s father, who was injured more severely.

Tests show that Sophie is unconscious because she overdosed on pills in a suicide attempt. Jeanie still wants to work on her, though Doyle still doesn’t see the point – Sophie wanted to die. Jeanie sticks to protocol. Carter continues chatting with Tina as Benton determines that she may need surgery. Weaver signals to Mark that her father didn’t make it, and Mark has Carter run through the process to confirm that he’s dead.

Carol meets the healthmobile driver, Gus, who warns her and Doug that the patients will be expecting cookies. He tells them to go out the back window if anyone shoots at them, and if they get robbed, let the robbers take whatever they want. Doug and Carol aren’t pleased when they learn that they’ll need to wear bulletproof vests.

Jeanie and Doyle tell Sophie’s husband, Mitchell, that she’s in serious condition. He laments how depressed she’s gotten in the past few months, as her Lou Gehrig’s has gotten worse. He’s not surprised that she attempted suicide; he knows she’s been praying to die. Susan comes in fresh from her vacation, feeling very relaxed and refreshed. We all know that won’t last.

Tina asks for her father as she’s taken to surgery. Carter keeps quiet about his death, which Benton thinks is a bad call. Keaton, however, doesn’t want to upset Tina before she goes in for an operation. She then asks Benton to take some of her young patients trick-or-treating around the hospital. Not mentioned: whether these kids’ parents know their children will be spending the evening with a man who has no idea how to take care of kids.

Susan admits to Mark that she never made it to Hawaii. When the plane landed in Phoenix for a layover, she realized she would never be able to get back on. She spent her vacation with Chloe and Susie instead, which to her is just as good as a week in Hawaii. Mark tells her that Anspaugh loves Weaver and is probably going to give her the only open slot for tenure. He asks Susan if she wants to go to the staff party with her that night, making it sound casual and friendly. When she notices the carnations and greets them with, “Yikes,” he says a drug rep brought them in.

Doug checks out the meager supplies on the healthmobile, some of which have been expired for years. He finds a physics book in Carol’s bag, and she lies that it belongs to a friend. The healthmobile arrives in the inner city, where people are lined up to get free healthcare. The first patient won’t even tell them what’s wrong with him until he gets a cookie.

Mitchell sits by Sophie’s bed, telling Jeanie that she fixed herself up that morning, then told her husband that she was ready. He admits that he helped her take the pills. He got scared and called the ambulance, and feels that he was too weak to help her when she needed him to. He’s not ready to lose her.

Benton goes to the hospital gift shop to get some props, like a little animal that sits in your pocket and somehow makes kids think you’re not scary. Anspaugh catches him there and says that Keaton sends all the residents who don’t like kids there to get their “props.” Benton says he likes kids, and somehow Anspaugh doesn’t laugh in his face.

Doug treats a stripper who teases that she recognizes him. He’s insistent that they’ve never met, but with him, you never know. Suddenly a preteen girl named Charlie runs onto the healthmobile, yelling that she was stabbed. As Doug and Carol start to treat her, she reveals that she was just playing a Halloween prank. She asks for a cookie, and when she’s denied, she asks for condoms. She says she’s 18, but she’s definitely lying. Doug and Carol realize she’s turning tricks, but there’s not much they can do for her other than give her condoms.

Back at the hospital, the lights are still flickering. Susan’s with Lydia about the ghost being responsible. She tells the story behind the ghost – on Halloween 60 or so years ago, a doctor fell in love with an intern, but the intern was torn between him and a wealthy patient. When the intern went to the doctor for his declaration of love, he couldn’t get the words out. Then somehow, he wound up falling through a window. Jerry, Lily, Chuny, and Lydia are captivated by the story, but Mark dismisses it.

Carter goes to check on Tina, who’s doing well after her surgery. He offers to sit with her until her mother arrives. Keaton asks him to call her when Tina wakes up so she can tell Tina her father died. Carter wants to do that himself. Doug and Carol get a stabbing victim – a real one this time – but no one in the vicinity will tell them what happened. They use their limited supplies to tend to him, even with the threat of gunfire nearby. An ambulance won’t make it there for a while, so they decide to take the healthmobile.

Sophie dies, and Jeanie tells Mitchell he can sit with her body for a while. He isn’t sure if he did the right thing by helping her die, since this isn’t the sort of people they are. Jeanie thinks he showed who he is by staying with Sophie and giving her what she needed. Doug and Carol work on the stabbing victim in their substitute ambulance, overcoming the obstacles their supplies throw their way.

Benton continues giving Gant his scut work, and Gant finally asks why Benton keeps treating him so badly. He works his hardest, but Benton only gave him a mediocre evaluation. Benton notes that most interns only do mediocre work. Gant thinks everyone in their group does the same level of work, but Benton singles him out.

Benton reminds him that, as a black doctor, he has to work harder than everyone else. He asks Gant if he checked the box on his med-school application identifying himself as black. If he did, people will assume that he did it to get preferential treatment. They’ll also assume that he’s there to fill a quota. He has to work harder and stay longer to prove himself. Gant knows all that, and he asks Benton if he checked the box. Benton says no, but Gant thinks he’s trying to prove himself as if he had.

When Tina wakes up, Carter starts to tell her that her father died, but she already knows that he’s dead. Doug and Carol get their patient to the hospital, advising Malik to bring cookies when he takes his turn on the healthmobile next week. Doug tells Carol that if she does want to go to med school, he’ll support her decision. If he can make it through, she can.

Doyle tells Jeanie that she wishes they could have saved Sophie so Mitchell won’t have to be alone. She’s at rest, but he’s in pain now. Mark has to go to the fifth floor to pronounce a patient’s death, so he takes Susan with him “for protection.” Benton takes some energetic patients trick-or-treating, his idea of a Halloween trick. Mark and Susan do their work behind a curtain, so we only see their shadows, like an old monster movie. She swears she feels a cold wind, and he teases her about it.

Carter tells Keaton that Tina knew about her father’s death before he could tell her. She felt him with her during surgery, and he told her goodbye. Keaton says that sometimes kids just know that sort of thing. Carter had a similar experience – when he was a kid, he sensed the moment his brother died. Benton loses his kids when he takes one to the bathroom, because he sucks at this.

Haleh sings “Love Potion Number 9” at the staff party, where everyone’s having a great time. Well, except Mark, who can’t stop complaining about how Weaver seems to be kissing up to Anspaugh. Susan tells him to do something other than work, since it’s become his whole life. Benton finds his missing kids, who want to know if he was ever a fun-loving kid before he became a grumpy adult. He tells them that when he was younger, they had to do tricks to get treats. The kids demand one, so he stands on his head. The kids aren’t impressed, but Keaton is.

Jeanie goes to Doc Magoo’s to meet up with Al and give him back the tax documents. She tells him that neither of them ever changed – he’s always been a lousy husband, and she just put up with it for years. Seeing Mitchell do anything Sophie needed, including helping her die, has made her realize how awful their marriage was: “And now you’ve killed me.” As Haleh sings “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” Susan and Mark contemplate going out to get food, then decide to dance instead.

Thoughts: Charlie is played by Kirsten Dunst.

Props to Laura Cerón for wearing big curlers in her hair for the whole episode, since Chuny’s costume is herself getting ready in the morning.

Benton has three nieces and nephews – how can he be so clueless about children’s milestones?

 

October 31, 2017

SVT #110, Pumpkin Fever: This Halloween, Jessica’s Masquerading as a Good Person

Posted in books tagged , at 5:00 pm by Jenn

Do it! Do it! Do it!

Summary: A week before Halloween, Mr. Clark tells the students at SVMS about a local contest to find the school with the most “pumpkin fever.” If SVMS can get into the spirit of the season better than any other school in the area, they’ll win money they can use for a big school trip. The kids immediately start brainstorming, and Elizabeth comes up with the winning idea: elect a King and Queen of Halloween, with votes cast via jack-o’-lanterns. Aaron volunteers the soccer team to carve jack-o’-lanterns in each contestant’s likeness.

The Unicorns figure that since they’re the prettiest, most popular, bestest girls in the school, they’ll lead the votes. But Liz accidentally puts herself ahead in the running by arranging for a local newspaper reporter to cover SVMS’s participation in the competition. Everyone repays Liz’s favor by voting for her. And since the carvers put each contestant’s initials on the pumpkin, there’s no way Jessica can pretend those votes are really for her.

Jessica has to do a fall-themed art project, but she has no ideas. She sees some jack-o’-lantern earrings Elizabeth made out of acorns and decides to pass them off as her project, after telling Liz that they’re dumb and a big fashion don’t. This is exactly the opposite of the truth, as everyone at school loves the earrings. Janet decides that the Unicorns should make and sell them to make more money for the school trip. Since Jessica would rather die than lose the approval of Queen Janet, she agrees.

Elizabeth catches Jessica gathering acorns for the earrings, so Jess lies that she’s been taking care of a poor, orphaned baby squirrel. Liz buys this, even though Jess isn’t usually the type of person to do something like this. Elizabeth even decides to write an article about her heroic sister for The Sixers. And no, she doesn’t do any fact-checking.

The Unicorns’ earrings are a huge hit, and Elizabeth quickly realizes that a) Jessica stole her design and b) the acorns weren’t for a squirrel. She tries to stop the paper from going to press with her story, but it’s too late. Now Jessica is both an artistic visionary and the next Dr. Doolittle. Everyone votes for her for Queen of Halloween, and the reporter who comes to cover the contest gets interested in doing a piece on Jess and the squirrel, too.

Liz is fed up with her sister and tries to out her as a liar by telling the reporter to get a picture of the squirrel. Jess lies that the squirrel died, and she’s really emotional about it and would rather not talk about it right now, okay? Elizabeth’s plan completely backfires, as Jessica’s popularity only increases, and people commission pumpkins for her in the squirrel’s memory. Jess, sociopath that she is, has no remorse.

Apparently the acorn earrings are so fashionable and creative that a woman from a local boutique wants to buy two dozen pairs. Jessica enlists the Unicorns to make them, though they’re growing tired of all the attention she’s getting. California Girl magazine, which declined to feature Jessica back in Breakfast of Enemies, now wants to include her in a fall fashion article. Somewhere, Claudia Kishi is incredibly jealous.

Elizabeth is even more tired of Jessica’s sudden popularity than the Unicorns are, and she tells Amy and Maria that the first earrings were actually hers. They agree to help her get revenge on her twin. At first they want to just pelt her with water balloons, but Liz chooses to inflict some psychological damage instead. She writes a Telltale Heart-ish story called The Telltale Jack-o’-Lantern (I guess Elizabeth’s creativity was all tapped out by the earrings) about a girl who steals and buries her twin’s jack-o’-lantern so she won’t win a contest. The jack-o’-lantern digs itself out of the ground, driving the thief crazy with the sound. The girls also play a tape of digging noises to drive Jessica crazy.

It works, and when Jessica is inevitably crowned Queen of Halloween, she reveals that Elizabeth deserves the honor. However, everyone wants to reward Jessica’s honesty by letting her keep the title. Ultimately, though, Liz gets the last laugh, as she’d arranged for a big pumpkin-guts fight without telling Jess. Yeah, getting slimed with pumpkin guts totally makes up for all the lying. Also, California Girl no longer wants to feature Jessica in the fashion section, but they do want her to write about everything that happened for a piece about embarrassing experiences. She makes up with Liz by asking her to co-write the article. So, as usual, Jessica gets away with her scheming. Sigh.

Thoughts: I can’t believe this came up on the schedule the week of Halloween. What are the odds?

Also, what are the odds that the soccer players are also accomplished enough carvers that the faces on their jack-o’-lanterns turn out recognizable?

I guess we should be grateful that Jessica doesn’t try to catch a squirrel just to back up her story.

This book proves that Elizabeth can be almost as devious as her twin, just in a different way. Fortunately, she normally chooses to ignore her evil inclinations.

August 8, 2017

SVT #100, If I Die Before I Wake: Deliver Us from Eva

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:07 pm by Jenn

Well, they should have known something was wrong with the house when they saw that there were giant eyes inside

Summary: Eva is ready to finish off the twins, Amy, Winston, and Todd on the Riccolis’ widow’s walk. Even though they have the advantage of five people against one, and Todd is ready to fight, the kids resign themselves to death. Eva attacks Elizabeth, who falls from the widow’s walk, but Eva grabs her arm to save her, I guess so she can kill Liz herself. Come on, Eva, let gravity help! She loses her grip and Liz falls again, then suddenly wakes up inside the house. The other babysitters are also alive and well, though confused about how all five of them could have had the same dream. Liz also has cuts from where Eva scratched her in the “dream.”

It’s pretty early in the morning, but the sitters keep themselves awake until the kids get up. Amy, Todd, and Winston leave, and the twins fall asleep for about an hour while the kids are watching TV. They don’t have any dreams, so they figure they’ve somehow defeated Eva. When the twins get back home, Andrew calls to tell them that the kids’ nightmares have also ended. The twins think the horrible stuff is behind them and start looking forward to Halloween, which is the next week.

Fast-forward a few days, and everyone’s getting costumes. Steven wishes he could find something super-scary, but the store everyone’s shopping in doesn’t have anything he likes. Since his sisters have been talking about Eva a lot, he decides to dress up as her and scare the crap out of the twins. This means he’ll have to wear a nightgown with daisies on it and carry a teddy bear, but it’s a sacrifice Steven is willing to make.

The twins visit the Riccolis, who are all happy now, partly because their nightmares are gone and partly because Mr. Riccoli has finally joined them. He and Mrs. Riccoli ask the twins to babysit the kids on Halloween while they go to a party, and since they figure Eva’s out of the picture, the girls say yes. (Jess will have to miss a Unicorn party, and Lila bugs her about it, so Jess makes her fall out of a canoe at Secca Lake.) At home, Jessica gives Alice a Halloween costume she bought her, but Alice is apparently anti-Halloween (how have we never heard about this on any of the series’ past Halloweens?) and won’t even consider wearing it.

Jessica hears scratching noises at her window one night and thinks she sees Eva outside. The next night, Liz thinks she sees her, too. When the twins start talking about Eva at breakfast, Steven takes advantage of the conversation to ask a few questions about what Eva looks like, so he can put the finishing touches on his costume. The twins think they see Eva again that night and wonder if she somehow left their dreams and became real.

While doing some landscaping at the Riccolis’, Steven finds a piece of cloth with daisies on it under a boulder. Even though he was just thinking about Eva, he doesn’t put it together that this must be from her nightgown. Meanwhile, the twins pay a visit to a cemetery and find Eva and her parents’ graves. They’re shocked to see that Eva has followed them there and run from her. Eva loses her bunny slipper, and Elizabeth picks it up, for some reason. The twins barely get away.

Halloween is the next day, and the twins ask Amy, Todd, and Winston to join them at the Riccolis’ that night. Steven is just about ready to put his costume to scarifying use when he decides he’s missing something. He remembers that Jessica has a teddy bear (which is actually Eva’s) and goes to get it from her closet. He spots the bunny slipper, too, and decides to take it as well. Jessica sees him heading back to his room and thinks he’s really Eva, freaking out the twins. Steven pretends he was asleep and didn’t see anyone in his room.

While trick-or-treating that night, Steven comes across the real Eva, who’s not happy that he has her bear and her slipper. Steven’s so shocked and scared that all he can think to do is give them to her. Eva isn’t appropriately grateful, telling Steven that he and his sisters will die that night. Steven rushes home, where Alice has received a picture and letter from Eva, leading her to remember the last night she babysat Eva: Halloween exactly 25 years ago. Eva’s parents got to a party, and Alice puts Eva to bed with her teddy bear and one bunny slipper. She makes sure to lock the balcony door so Eva won’t fall if she sleepwalks.

Alice’s friends Dyan, Jim, and Walter (Amy’s mom, Todd’s dad, and Winston’s dad, remember) surprise her by sneaking into the house through Eva’s window. Alice realizes too late that they didn’t lock the balcony door after they came in. By the time she gets up to Eva’s room on the third floor, Eva’s on the balcony. Alice doesn’t finish her flashback until later, but it’s pretty obvious what happens: Eva falls over the railing.

Steven interrupts Alice, babbling about “she” and the twins being in danger. She tells him the twins are trick-or-treating, since she doesn’t know they’re babysitting. Steven runs around town looking for them, learning from Lila that they’re at the Riccolis’. As he’s on his way over there, Jessica is lured to Eva’s room by a voice she thinks is Elizabeth’s. She passes out, and the others start getting worried when she doesn’t come back, but they don’t bother going to look for her. When they hear a scream, they run up to Eva’s room, where Liz sees that the picture of Eva and Alice that used to be there is gone.

As Eva locks the sitters in a room together, Steven shows up. His costume is so good that the sitters think there are somehow two Evas now. Steven is able to slow Eva down while the sitters go get the kids out of the house. They realize that the house is on fire and they can’t make it outside by going downstairs. They’re able to get the kids out through a window, since the roof slopes low enough that they don’t have to jump too far to the ground. But Eva’s still coming for them…

At home, Alice finishes the rest of her flashback, then reads Eva’s letter, which reveals that she didn’t die after her fall. She was somehow able to keep coming back to the house without her parents knowing. She blames Alice for her fall, since Alice scared her when she was on the balcony. She admits to using makeup to make herself look like a monster so she can scare the sitters. Now she plans to go even further and kill Alice’s daughters as revenge. Alice realizes this is all real, and that her kids are in danger. She rounds up her old friends and tells them to meet her at the Riccolis’ house. Just then, the Riccoli kids arrive to confirm that Eva is about to kill the sitters.

Back at the house, the sitters head to Eva’s bedroom, since they have no other place to hide. The house starts falling apart due to the fire, but the sitters and Steven are able to escape through a window. Eva isn’t so lucky, as the house collapses her around her, apparently killing her for real this time.

Sometime later, Alice and the twins go to the cemetery to visit Eva’s grave, which actually contains her body now. They’ve figured out that Eva, like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, was never able to let go of what happened to her. They think the gardener who died in Too Scared to Sleep may have been helping her stay hidden. Though they can’t explain the shared nightmares, they think Eva was hurting them in real life, and they just thought she was harming them in their dreams. But who cares about details – Eva is gone, and everyone is safe. Let’s just hope the Riccolis had excellent insurance.

Thoughts: If you ask me, this whole thing is Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan’s fault. They should have moved Eva to a different bedroom or made the railing on the balcony higher when she started sleepwalking. And it wasn’t Alice’s fault that the balcony door was unlocked – it was Jim, Dyan, and Walter’s fault. Eva spent 25 years being mad at the wrong person.

So did Eva never grow? She should have been in her 30s during this miniseries, but apparently she was the same size as when she was a kid.

The ghostwriter needs to make up her mind whether Alice was 12 or a sophomore when she sat for Eva.

Winston: “I’m too nice to die!” Okay, Winnie.

May 16, 2017

SVT Super Chiller #9, Evil Elizabeth: Can’t Fight the Moonlight

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

So no one finds it weird that Elizabeth is just walking around with this on her face all the time? Really?

Summary: Elizabeth is really excited about Halloween, and wants to do a paired costume with her twin. Jessica thinks that’s immature, when everyone knows Halloween is the chance to dress up fancy and be really sophisticated. Whatever you say, Jess. Fortunately for Liz, Amy and Maria are up for figuring out a three-part costume. Jessica decides to go as a figure skater but has to reconsider when Lila announces that as her costume – and she’s even going to wear an outfit worn by an actual famous skater.

On the way to the Wakefields’ for a big sleepover, the twins and some of their friends pass a rundown house everyone calls the “Luna place.” Jess makes up a story about a witch who lives there, which annoys Liz. She sees a full moon over the house and points it out to her friends, but Amy and Maria don’t see it as full.

The girls have a séance at their sleepover, and Mandy seems to channel someone who speaks through her. The channeled voice warns the “sisters” (and Liz and Jess are the only sisters present) to “watch the rising of the moon, and watch your sister.” If they’re not careful, someone tragic will happen. Jessica sees the shape of a full moon in a candle flame, but no one else notices it.

Liz learns that “luna” means moon, and that there will be a full moon on Halloween. Those two things combined with the full moon she thought she saw make her a little creeped out. She comes across a black dog with an orange face carrying a grotesque mask in its mouth. When Liz takes the mask, she sees another moon. She puts on the mask and starts taunting Jessica. Jess tries to brush off her nastiness, thinking Elizabeth is just messing with her.

Elizabeth starts wearing the mask more and more often, acting meaner and meaner every time, both to Jessica and to Amy and Maria. When she’s not wearing the mask, she claims not to have any idea that she acted out of character. Jess is worried that the warning from the séance is the real deal, and that something horrible is happening. When she and Steven both see the moon turn red one night, Jess gets even more spooked.

Jessica tries to get Elizabeth interested in sisterly bonding by carving pumpkins together. Liz is back in the mask, though, and thinks carving pumpkins is immature. Later, maskless, Elizabeth is really hurt that Jess carved a pumpkin without her. Jess realizes that the mask is causing Liz’s strange behavior, so she steals it, but Liz easily finds it again and puts it back on.

Jess runs into the dog Liz got the mask from and follows it to the Luna place. There, she meets Corinna Black, the alleged witch who lives there. Jess tells her about the mask, which Corinna says was buried for decades. I guess the dog dug it up? She warns that the mask will make Elizabeth worse the more she wears it, and eventually Liz will be a horrible person even without it. Jess needs to make sure Liz doesn’t wear it when the moon rises, or the process will speed up.

Jessica tries to steal the mask again, but Elizabeth is obsessed with it and won’t let it go. She has a nightmare about feeling like everything is changing. Is this all just a metaphor for puberty? I guess it’s possible. Liz’s behavior keeps getting worse, and she’s reached the point where she doesn’t have to wear the mask to be awful. She starts hanging out with the SVH series’ reformed bad girl Betsy Martin, and everyone at school wonders why she’s suddenly changed so much.

When Jess tries to go back to the Luna place to talk to Corinna, there’s no door to the house. Jess doesn’t seem as freaked out by this as she should be. Elizabeth and Betsy get ready for Halloween mischief by egging houses, including the Luna place. Ned and Alice are their usual clueless selves about Elizabeth’s sudden shift – they think she’s just moody, and they don’t see anything wrong with her hanging out with different people.

Steven asks his astronomy teacher if the moon could appear red, but she says no. Again, mass hallucinations should be freaking these people out. Jess finally reconnects with Corinna, who insists that she make Elizabeth destroy the mask during the lunar eclipse that is conveniently happening on Halloween. Corinna reveals that the last person who wore the mask burned down her house, killing her entire family…except Corinna. So…maybe she should have done a better job of getting rid of the mask, eh?

Once Jess has filled Steven in on everything going on, the two of them come up with a plan. They know they need to stick close to Elizabeth on Halloween, but they also know she’s not going to let them. So Jessica dresses as Liz and tells Betsy that they should crash a Halloween party on Courage Mountain. She leaves Liz a note about the party, pretending it’s from Betsy. They plan to meet up with Liz on the mountain and force her to destroy the mask.

Jess goes out trick-or-treating with the Unicorns (she ran out of time to come up with a costume, so she goes with the classic sheet-ghost look) while Elizabeth and Betsy terrorize little kids by stealing their candy. An hour before midnight, Jessica pretends to go to bed while Steven tells their parents he’s going to a party. Jess sneaks out and the two ride their bikes up Courage Mountain. Jessica has a vision of the moon on fire, dropping flames onto the Wakefields’ house.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Betsy aren’t on their way up the mountain – they’re at the Wakefields’, where Betsy wants Liz to smash the pumpkin Jessica carved. Liz hesitates, because even in her possessed state, she doesn’t want to hurt Jess. But she gives in to peer pressure and chucks the pumpkin on the ground, accidentally lighting some leaves on fire with the candle inside.

As the eclipse begins, Jessica has a bad feeling and tells Steven she needs to go back home. Elizabeth is unable to break her trance as she watches the leaves catch fire, putting the house at risk. Jess arrives pretty quickly and starts to put on the fire before anyone even notices it. Liz throws the mask in, finally destroying it. The twins are extremely grateful to Corinna for helping them out, though Jess can’t help but wonder if Corinna was an innocent victim when someone else was cursed by the mask, or if she was the one who burned down her own house and killed her family. That’s…messed up for a book for preteens.

Thoughts: Clearly, the ghostwriter saw The Mask and wanted to adapt it for middle-schoolers.

I actually feel bad for Jessica in this book. No one wants a mean sibling.

Looks like Jess learned nothing from the Nora situation about not assuming people are witches. Why am I not surprised?

Ned, parent of the year, re: Elizabeth’s behavioral changes and horrible new friends: “She’s just going through a phase. It’s nothing to worry about.” Again, why am I not surprised?

What DOES surprise me is that Janet and Lila don’t consider themselves too told to go trick-or-treating.

February 21, 2017

SVT Super Chiller #7, The Haunted Burial Ground: The “Old Ones” Probably Don’t Approve of This Book Either

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Summary: It’s almost Halloween, and Steven decides to pull a little prank on Jessica by making her think she’s being followed by a tall, headless man. Apparently there’s a local myth about two skeletons, one without a head, being seen on Sleepy Hollow Road. Jessica’s relieved that this one is actually Steven and his friend Scott, who managed to ride a bike with one on the other’s shoulders. Impressive! Jessica quickly forgets about the prank since she’s so excited to talk to Scott – he’s in a band called the Skeletons, and he’s hot. Scott thinks Jessica’s 13, which is apparently super-mature compared to 12.

Elizabeth also has a new friend, Kala, who’s only in town for about a month before her family moves somewhere else. She’s Native American, and her time at Sweet Valley Middle School gets off to a rough start when Bruce, Aaron, and Jake Hamilton pull a prank of their own. They use fake blood and a rubber axe to make Kala think Jake has been attacked.

Elizabeth rescues Kala from the ridiculous boys and tries to assure her that the boys didn’t target her for any personal reasons. She invites Kala to come with her to work with Houses for the Homeless, Sweet Valley’s versions of Habitat for Humanity. At the worksite, Liz introduces Kala to Jack Whitefeather, a project chairman who cheers Kala up partly just by being another Native American in a town that doesn’t have many.

Jessica runs into Scott again (with Steven and Joe), and they start talking about music. He’s learning “Monster Ball,” a new duet from Johnny Buck and Melody Powers. Jessica’s thrilled, as she loves the song, and she tries to get Scott to invite her to sing it with him. He humors her, but he’s not that interested in singing with a kid. Jess decides that the Unicorns should throw a Halloween party and invite the Skeletons to play – maybe then Scott will bring her on stage to sing with him. Not only would she get attention and sing with a hot guy, but all the Unicorns would be jealous.

Unfortunately for Jess, the Unicorns don’t want to throw a party, for possibly the first time ever. They think a Halloween party would be childish. Jess talks them into it by pointing out that they can dress up as celebrities instead of ghosts or witches. The girls want to have the party someplace distinctly Halloween-y, and they settle on an old house Lila’s father’s company is about to tear down. He vetoes the idea as too dangerous, but approves of a shack on Sleepy Hollow Road, as long as the girls fix it up (using their Houses for the Homeless skills) so it’s safe. They also have to be respectful of an elderly couple living next door.

The Unicorns celebrate with a sleepover at Jessica’s, the same night Elizabeth has invited Kala over. The girls try to use a Ouija board to find out of the shack is haunted, but Ellen messes up the session by making the board warn the girls to stay away. She doesn’t want to have the party at the shack because they’ll have to do so much work to get it ready. Fair enough. Elizabeth thinks they can donate the shack to the homeless shelter’s Nature Club Scouts after the party, which makes their work more worthy.

Since no one wants to bother with the Ouija board if Ellen’s just going to screw with them, the girls decide to have a séance. Jessica bumps the table to mess with everyone, leading to a fight. In the middle of everything, Kala seems to fall asleep. As the girls try to channel a spirit to ask about ghosts on Sleepy Hollow Road, Kala starts talking in a weird voice, telling the girls, “Do not disturb the old ones.” Alice interrupts the séance to send everyone to bed before the girls can figure out what’s going on. Kala wakes up but doesn’t remember the séance.

The girls see skeletons outside the house as they’re going to bed, but the ever-logical Liz quickly figures out that skeletons don’t wear sneakers. She busts them as Bruce and Jake. The girls invite them in, and as everyone’s chatting, Kala comes downstairs to tell them that the “old ones” are resting and shouldn’t be disturbed. The girls think she means Alice and Ned. Kala seems to be sleepwalking, though Janet, who already dislikes Kala because she had the nerve to talk to Denny Jacobson at school, thinks she’s faking. The next morning, Kala says she doesn’t remember much of what happened at the sleepover.

Jessica stalks Scott, Steven, and Joe so she can invite the Skeletons to play at the party, but she can’t get Scott alone. The Unicorns are starting to sour on the party, since it’ll require so much, so Jess gets them interested again by telling them the Skeletons are playing. Elizabeth and Kala check out the shack, and Kala mentions a dream she had about a bat telling her that they need to leave it alone. Minutes later, the Unicorns arrive, and Jessica stumbles into a cave and is swarmed by bats. One swoops down on Janet, which disturbs Kala, since she imagined that exact thing happening after her dream.

The girls start the clean-up process, but Elizabeth’s mood darkens when a man from Fowler Construction tells them the shack is scheduled to be demolished right after the party. I hope the Nature Scouts can afford the rent on a place in an office park, instead of the clubhouse Liz wanted for them.

The girls clean up a bunch of trash, which they bag up for a special pick-up by trash collectors. But Jake, Bruce, and Aaron pull yet another prank, hiding themselves in garbage bags to scare the girls. Jake gets busted and tells the girls that Bruce and Aaron are in other bags – bags the trash collectors have just picked up. The kids run after the garbagemen and rip open their bags, but the boys aren’t inside. When they return to the shack, there are two bags there, containing the boys. They say that someone moved them, telling them to let the “old ones” rest.

Elizabeth finds an arrowhead on the property, because every children’s book that has anything to do with Native Americans includes someone finding an arrowhead. Kala talks more about her dreams, which featured a bear and an eagle. As Jess continues trying to get Scott alone to ask him about the party, the other Unicorns work on reinforcing the shack so it’s safe. The girls ignore Mr. Fowler’s instructions to respect the elderly couple nearby, dumping trash bags in their yard so they don’t have to take them to the dump (since the trash collectors are mad at them and won’t come back). Despite the Unicorns’ attitudes, Liz still wants the party to go ahead, for Jess’s sake, so she tries to keep the peace.

Ellen thinks she sees a bear in the woods, and Elizabeth sees a bird she thinks is an eagle. She tells Kala, who’s had another dream about all those animals; they want her to tell the others again not to disturbed the “old ones.” Then Ellen finds a skull in a creek, which the Unicorns decide to turn into PR for the party.

Liz helps Jess get Steven away from Scott so Jess can finally ask him about playing at the party. She basically dares him to play in a creepy shack. Scott agrees, as long as Jessica sings with him…and as long as she spends a night in the shack before the party, to ensure no ghosts will come after him. Jessica easily agrees and enlists the Unicorns, Elizabeth, Amy, and Maria to spend the night as well. Kala can’t make it, since she hasn’t been feeling well. I guess channeling ancient Native American spirits or whatever takes a lot out of you. But Kala shows up in the middle of the night, warns the girls that the “old ones” don’t like having their rest disturbed, then leaves.

Liz goes to see Kala in the morning, but Kala doesn’t remember going to the shack. They go back to the property and find more arrowheads, as well as a vase depicting an eagle, a bat, and a bear. Elizabeth thinks this means the property is a Native American burial ground. Kala must be channeling the spirits of people buried there, who don’t want their resting place disturbed so an office park can be built. Sure.

The girls go to Fowler Construction to beg the crew to stop the construction, which goes over as well as you would expect. It turns out that people paid to do a job won’t listen to two 12-year-olds who want them to stop working because dead people said to. The girls then go to Mr. Fowler’s office to talk to the man in charge, but he doesn’t consider their argument strong enough to stop the construction.

On Halloween, everyone gathers for the party, which Kala decides to skip, since the “old ones” are so against any disturbances there. But she gives Elizabeth some Native American clothing in the hope that the “old ones” will see it as a peace offering. Everything at the party goes fine until it’s time for Jessica’s duet with Scott. Things get really loud, and the shack begins to shake. The vase Elizabeth found gets smashed. That can’t be good.

There’s so much noise and so many people dancing that the shack collapses. Somehow, no one’s hurt, despite beams falling all over the place. Everyone sees a couple of skeletons, one of them headless, leaving the debris. The headless one retrieves its head – the skull Ellen found – and the two of them head off together. Everyone thinks someone’s playing another prank, but all the usual suspects are present and accounted for.

Jack Whitefeather confirms that the shack is on a Native American burial ground, so Mr. Fowler wisely decides not to tear it up for an office park. His company is also going to build the Nature Scouts a clubhouse. Mr. Fowler is actually a pretty good guy. Kala thinks this will please the “old ones,” and the sighting of an eagle seems to confirm this. Okay, well, thanks for stopping by, Kala. No one will ever mention you again.

Thoughts: Kala: “It was my grandmother’s name. She was Native American.” Elizabeth: “Wow. That means you’re part Native American.” What would we do without Liz?

Ghostwriter, please do your homework. It’s Melody Powers, not Melodie.

Lila knows what “macabre” means. I’m impressed.

When Elizabeth and Kala are meeting with the jerky foreman: “He gave her braid a friendly tug.” I hope Kala gave his shin a friendly kick.

September 26, 2015

BH90210 10.6, ’80s Night: The Naked Truth

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

No. Oh, so much no

No. Oh, so much no

Summary: David’s radio show is so popular that everyone at the After Dark now listens to it while he’s broadcasting. He urges a caller named Tony to dump his girlfriend, and when Tony hedges, David does the deed himself. In case we’ve forgotten, David’s a jerk this season. At the beach apartment, Donna informs Kelly that the Patches – the parents of her rapist – are there. Kelly refuses to talk to them, but they tell her they’ve forgiven her for killing Joe. They hope she can forgive them for what their son did. Kelly says that what Joe did was unforgivable.

A guy who lives across the alley from the After Dark comes to complain about the noise caused by Noah and Gina’s new after-hours business. Gina butters the guy up to get him to calm down. She reminds Noah that they need to keep things going so he can afford all the nice things Donna wants. Noah tells her they’re moving in together. At the Walshes’, Matt watches a news story about one of his clients, Pete, who’s been sentenced to death for rape and murder.

Donna goes by the After Dark, where Noah and Gina pretend they’ve been working on a theme for a Halloween party. Noah quickly comes up with the idea for an ’80s night. Gina runs out to get “accessories.” Noah gives Donna a nice bracelet purchased with the money he made from strippers. How romantic.

Kelly goes to court with Matt, who’s super-nervous about arguing such an important case. After all, a man’s life depends on him. Matt calls Pete’s brother Walter to the stand for Pete’s appeal. The brothers had a rough childhood with an abusive father. Pete confessed to Walter after he murdered a woman named Pam, and Walter turned him in to the police. In the ten years he’s been in prison, Pete has changed, and Walter pleads for the jury to spare his life.

Steve wants to turn the Walshes’ into a haunted house for Halloween, partly to get in touch with his inner kid. Janet already has plans for the holiday, going out with some old friends. In fact, she’s going to play with their band. Steve’s like, “I thought I was the wild and crazy one.” Back in court, the prosecutor plays a recording of Pete’s rape and murder confession. He relays his crime as if nothing major happened. Kelly leaves the courtroom, unable to hear it.

At the club, Tony asks David to help him get his girlfriend, Amber, back – the breakup was a huge mistake. David thinks it was the right thing, since Amber doesn’t love him. Tony begs David to fix things. Dylan calms him down, then tells David he’s being an idiot. David ignores him, then announces that the topic of that night’s show is “old friends and when it’s okay to tell them to go to Hell.”

Donna and Noah flirt boringly, and she complains that he works too many hours. Noah’s just happy that she has no idea what he’s been up to. He tries to make sure that the same goes for Dylan and Gina. Dylan’s back bugging David for his behavior, calling him reckless. David says that he just gives advice, and if people take it, that’s their responsibility. Dylan points out that he doesn’t have any training in counseling people, so he could really screw things up for someone.

Janet comes home to a haunted house that she admires until it scares her. She gushes about how great the band rehearsal was. Steve doesn’t think this is the right time for her to be revisiting things she did in college. Janet points out that he’s getting ready for Halloween to impress kids, so he’s not exactly demonstrating the kinds of mature, adult activities they should be participating in. She’d really like him to be supportive.

At the beach apartment, Matt apologizes for bringing Kelly to a trial that involved rape. She tells him about the Patches’ visit and their quest for forgiveness. She wonders if Matt would want Joe executed if he’d killed her. Matt says that he wouldn’t – the death penalty is immoral and isn’t applied fairly. Kelly’s disgusted that he would be okay with her killer getting to live. She hopes he loses Pete’s case.

Noah calls Gina in the middle of the night, asking her to grab Dylan’s key to the DJ booth and bring it to the After Dark. Otherwise the strippers won’t have any music to dance to. Gina gets the key and makes the delivery…then notices that Mel is at the club. Also at the club: Donna, who wanted to keep Noah company while he worked late. She starts to storm out but is stopped by police. The club is being shut down, and Noah’s in trouble for prostitution, operating without a license, and disturbing the peace.

Gina rushes Mel out the back door as the police cuff both Noah and Donna. They think Donna’s a hooker. Gina heads back to the hotel, putting Dylan’s key back on his keychain and getting back into bed with him to pretend she was there all night. When Dylan’s woken by a call from Donna, Gina learns that she was arrested. Kelly thinks that Matt’s doing something immoral by defending Pete. He introduces her to Walter, who’s hanging out with him until the verdict comes back.

Noah and Donna are released from lockup, and Donna gives back her new bracelet, since it was paid for with strip-club money. She leaves with Dylan, refusing to talk to Noah. Donna heads to the Peach Pit, where David’s telling Nat about his latest meddling in people’s lives. She tells him that he’s being a jerk and making fun of people. What would he say if a teenage girl called him and asked if she should give in to a boyfriend pressuring her to have sex? David’s behavior worries her.

The verdict is in, and Pete’s appeal has been denied. Walter blames himself for basically sentencing his brother to death. Kelly feels bad. Gina tells Noah that they made $4,000 the night before, even with the police breaking things up. She tells him he can have all of it, first making sure he didn’t tell anyone that she had anything to do with the strip club. Dylan arrives, announcing that he’s shutting down the strip club. He was fined $40,000, and his probation could be in trouble. The guys bicker about who works for who, and Dylan demands that Noah pay half the fine.

It’s Halloween! The haunted house is a hit, though some kids run away screaming before Steve can give them popcorn balls. Janet gets ready for a band performance, which Steve objects to. She can’t believe he’s being such an overprotective father to her after being so immature so often. She wishes he would come to the performance, since it’s so important to her.

David goes to see Amber, telling her he was wrong to force Tony’s hand. He asks her not to blame Tony for David’s actions. Kelly goes to see the Patches, wanting to talk about forgiveness. Meanwhile, the club holds its ’80s night. A bandana’d Dylan tells Gina and her crimped hair that he woke up in the middle of the night and noticed his key missing, so he knows what she’s been up to. She promises that the strip club is done and she won’t be lying to him anymore.

On air, David apologizes for giving bad advice to his callers, blaming his personal problems. Now he’s going to work on getting people together. He also seems to want to make up with Dylan. Noah tries to ease Donna’s worries, telling her that the criminal charges have been dropped, so he just has to pay the fine. Donna doesn’t think they should live together – she can’t trust him. Noah notes that he came clean, but she reminds him that he didn’t tell her while it was going on.

Matt joins Steve at the haunted house, which he thinks is about to have a new wave of visitors. Matt points out that it’s 9:15, so the kids are probably in bed. Steve says that he used to believe in capital punishment, but after talking to Kelly about Pete’s case, he’s changed his mind. Then Steve puts on his best Miami Vice outfit and goes to the club to see Janet play. His conversation with Matt helped him remember that he doesn’t have to be a responsible parent all the time. After all, kids have bedtimes. Janet just wants to make sure his costume isn’t from his own closet.

The band plays (Janet’s on bass, by the way), and Steve’s the most excited person in the audience. Gina sneaks out to call Mel, looking for some gratitude, since other people at the strip club got arrested. He tries to brush her off, so she asks what David and Jackie would say if they knew where he was the other night. She’s going to need some hush money.

Kelly returns from the Patches’, telling Matt that she “gave them what they wanted.” Whether it was genuine or not, she knows it was the right thing to do. Matt hopes she can forgive him, too, but Kelly has no sympathy for Pete. Matt says it’s his fault if Pete dies; it means Matt couldn’t save him. Kelly says that they shouldn’t see each other until the case is over.

Thoughts: Steve’s objection to Janet playing in a band is…? He never explains it.

No judgment, but I’m going to guess that Donna was mistaken for a prostitute because of her clothes.

Yeah, they don’t call a lawyer and give him a verdict over the phone. You have to go to court and get everything on the record. Nice try, though.

Who looks at his keychain when he wakes up in the middle of the night?

Donna dresses up as Madonna. Oh, I get it!

Noah looks like an extra from Wet Hot American Summer.

Janet’s friends’ band is called Zaftig Figure. That’s not bad.

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