My So-Called Life – Strangers in the House
Sharon’s father has a heart attack and everyone feels vulnerable. Graham questions his life choices, and Sharon and Angela begin to mend their friendship.
When Sharon’s dad has a heart attack, Sharon moves into the Chase home while her mother stays at the hospital. Graham, who has always hated working at the print shop, starts to wonder if he’s wasting his life. In the end, Patty fires Graham so that he will be forced to pursue his dreams.
Angela tries feebly to make amends with Sharon, but she doesn’t really know how to start. This ep contains a lot of flashbacks to their idyllic childhood. Rayanne is totally neurotic about the friendship that is rekindling between A&S, probably because she has recently realized that Sharon is actually an interesting person. We also see in this ep that Brian and Rickie have stopped being awkward, and are now good friends.
Rayanne hears Sharon crying in the bathroom and ends up not only comforting her, but taking her to the hospital to see her dad. Angela, meanwhile, goes to class instead of accompanying them. She gets more and more uncomfortable around Sharon, and is uneasy about the idea of Sharon and Rayanne becoming friends.
Upset by everything, Angela hides under the bleachers to cry and runs into Jordan, who is smoking. Or maybe she follows him down there; it’s unclear. He says, “So are you crying or something?” She obviously needs something from him, and he is reluctant – my god, he turns his back on her! -- but she inches closer and finally he relents and hugs her. This is painful to watch. Moments later, his friend walks up and Jordan pushes her away.
Sharon & Kyle get into a fight because he’s not there for her. Brian, who is always there when the other boys flake, takes care of her. Angela gets jealous when she sees Brian and Sharon spending so much time together, so obviously she does recognize Brian’s feelings and likes being the sole object of his devotion. When Sharon makes up with Kyle, Angela questions how she’s been treating Brian and Sharon says, “YOU are lecturing ME about using Brian Krakow, when he is so obviously in love with you and you totally use him!” Brian is standing in the next room and hears all of this. And Sharon can’t believe that Angela can’t be nice to her even at a time like this. But in the end they both cry and admit that they miss each other, thus taking the first step on the road to mending their friendship.
Angela goes to share her overwhelming emotions with Brian (!!!), who is still embarrassed and treats her like crap. He keeps coming so close to admitting his flood of feelings to her, but he never fucking does it! Finally, in a vague and unsatisfying way, Angela admits to Brian that he is important to her.
And here is a love letter to my two best friends, courtesy of MSCL:
"There are people who’ve known you forever, who know you in this way that other people can’t. Because they’ve seen you change. And they’ve let you change." I love it!
My So-Called Life – Why Jordan Can’t Read
Angela learns Jordan’s long-held secret, and it fuels her feelings for him.
Awww yeah, things are heatin' up! Unable to sleep one night, Angela writes a long letter detailing her feelings for Jordan (which, of course, she never intends to give him). She tells Rayanne that she is finally over him. Then he talks to her. And yeah, she’s totally not over him.
On a field trip to an art museum, Angela lets Rayanne read the letter and naturally Rayanne loses it. And there is this killer moment where Brian and Jordan are both across the room looking at her, but of course she only has eyes for one of them. And she follows him, and Brian tries to stop her by telling her to stay with the group. I always liked Brian, but now that I’m older and wiser I really like Brian. He’s actually pretty cute, and his feelings for Angela are just so obvious.
But back to Jordan and Angela. Good lord, every interaction they have is SO awkward! I love it! When he says he could use a cup of coffee, Angela seems surprised and awed that he drinks coffee. Hmmmm, we used to stop at Hava Java every morning on the way to school. Were we abnormal? And! She asks if the song he’s humming is a Crowded House song. That’s the best she could do? Crowded House?!? Anyway, he tells her that he’s in a band now (Frozen Embryos) and that she should hear them play. This will be important later.
Back at school, Jordan returns the letter to her without a word. And she tells him that the letter is about her boyfriend from last summer, and that she only used Jordan’s name because she didn’t want people to know who she was talking about, because this old boyfriend of hers is dead. This episode is amaaaazing!
Anyway, Jordan says he didn’t read the letter and she keeps picking at him until she suddenly she realizes that he couldn’t read it. [We find out later he actually can read, just “not that good.”] And she invites herself to his band practice. Also, this is the episode where we realize that Rickie has had a crush on Jordan for years. Also, we find out that Danielle has a crush on Brian, but much like Angela, Brian doesn’t notice.
At band practice, Jordan sings a song that Angela and Rickie are positive is about her. I won’t subject you to the whole thing, but basically it’s about how a “she” that he calls “Red” has saved him, given him shelter from the storm, et cetera. Jordan gives Angela a ride home and while they're talking, he kisses her mid-sentence – just like in “Dancing in the Dark.” Only this time she’s ready, and totally into it. AND, proving that he’s not such a tool after all (and that he pays attention to things she says to him), Jordan apologizes for interrupting her. Jordan’s car seems to be the place du jour for kissing on MSCL (with the exception of the boiler room, though we haven’t reached that point just yet).
Angela corners Jordan after PE the next day and invites him to a movie. He is a little slow on the uptake, but agrees. Then Angela tells him her parents need to meet him first. Jordan is not into that. That night, Brian comes over and sees Angela all dressed up, and again it is so effing obvious. Brian actually yells [yells!] at her when she tells him that she’s taking Jordan to see The Bicycle Thief, and it becomes clear that this is a movie the two of them had seen together. Angela yells back, and during their little shouting match they have this really charged moment, that I didn’t remember at all, where Brian is *this close* to kissing her. But instead he storms out. Whew! I’m emotionally exhausted just watching these two. Scenes like this really make me wonder where second season would have gone. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
All this teen angst is moot, because Jordan stands Angela up. He tells his friends he can’t hang out with them, and then sits around his band’s practice space all night, brooding. There is a shot of him squeezing his head, which I guess is supposed to infer angst.
And there’s more! This is one jam-packed ep. In the girls’ bathroom, Sharon and Rayanne bond while talking about sex (Sharon has been publicly making out with Kyle throughout the whole episode). These two girls are determined to hate each other, and yet are drawn together. Angela is each girl’s “best friend,” but the two have much more in common with each other than with her.
In the end, Jordan tells Rickie that Angela makes things too complicated, and that the song that started all this drama is about his car. I love this show so much!!! Brian asks Angela if her parents were revolted by Jordan Catalano. She says they will not be talking about Jordan ever again, and a huge smile breaks across Brian’s face. This is pretty cool, I have to say. When I was 15, I could have cared less about Brian. It was all about Jordan, all the way – just like Angela. But now, I see that really it’s all about Brian Krakow. Interesting.
In the parental storyline, Patty thinks she’s pregnant. Turns out she’s not.
This huge, hand-embroidered love letter to FNL was created by our very own staff member Alligator! Check out her other work here, she's amazing.
Friday Night Lights – Humble Pie
Smash must deal with the consequences of his actions, Tami becomes coach of the girls’ volleyball team, Street gets a new job, and Riggins struggles with his feelings for Lyla.
Finally, the return of Jason Street! And Guy cracks Riggins over the head with a beer bottle in the middle of a parking lot in broad daylight! And the cops arrive to arrest Smash for assault! And all before the credits!
Phew. I admit I came into this ep just a little late, but something is wrong with Jason’s truck so he goes to Buddy, who offers him a job. Again with the continuity. Unless I’m missing something, wasn’t the last major interaction between these two when Buddy didn’t want him marrying Lyla? And now he goes to Buddy for help? Perhaps I am just a person who holds grudges. Anyway, all the other salespeople at Garrity Motors are irritated because Street can play the wheelchair card. And he totally pressures a “looky loo” into buying a truck. The same truck that we then see an advertisement for. An advertisement that uses the scene from FNL as part of the ad. I can’t even find the words.
Fortunately, in this ep we also see how Street and Herc are doing living on their own. Street is probably my favorite character, with Herc following close behind, so I hope this means they are back for good. I was, however, confused about the lack of mention of Street’s girl. I guess the waitress and he are no longer together? Or perhaps the writers thought we’d forget?
In other news, Riggins begins to pursue Lyla, who has become smitten with Chris. Riggs shows up at church and asks Lyla to come over later, and when she does he has cooked her dinner and set up candles and flowers. Puh-leeze. Fortunately, he immediately admits “this isn’t me.” Lyla walks out, he follows and says he loves her. She says, “How do I react to that?” He says, “Brutal honesty.” And she tells him it’s never going to happen, and that she doesn’t feel the same way.
Lyla then tells Chris everything – about what just happened, about how she slept with her paralyzed boyfriend’s best friend [they sure do love that phrase on this show], everything. And Chris, bless his heart, doesn’t judge her. He just asks if she has feelings for Riggins. And she says no, but does this very suspicious, slightly longing sidelong glance. Grrrr. I really, really do not want Lyla to have feelings for Riggins. I think it would be so much better if she honestly did not love him back, and he would have to learn that he can’t have whatever he wants,whenever he wants it. Especially when it comes to girls.
In other Riggins news, Guy knows that he stole the money and comes after him. The Riggins boys are jumpy, and every time someone knocks on the door they prepare for a fight. Eventually Lyla gives Riggs the $3000 (what?!?) and he & Billy return the money to Guy, foolishly thinking this is the end of the situation. During the exchange, Billy gets all protective of his little brother and attacks Guy, who pulls a gun, and I honestly thought Guy was going to shoot him. But the Riggins boys escape. Guy is kind of a weird character for the show to have utilized for so long, but the guy who plays him (Joey Oglesby) is super creepy.
In the Taylor family, Eric the Athletic Director convinces Tami to coach the girls’ volleyball team. But wait -- in the last ep wasn’t Tami just about to quit her job because she was spread too thin? Shake it off. Anyway, Tami takes over as coach and tries to whip the girls into shape, but they are truly terrible. When Tyra comes over for dinner, Tami sizes her up and realizes that she could be a good addition to the team. I do not believe for a SECOND that Tyra would join organized sports, but whatever. She does love Tami. She joins, and it instantly really good. [And there is finally some nice continuity in that Riggins is helping out, as part of his punishment].
Meanwhile, Landry has met a new girl named Jean who is super cute. They have a ton in common (music, movies, etc) and Tyra is jealous. When Tami is trying to coax her to put her heart into the game of volleyball, she tells Tyra to pretend the ball is someone she hates. So instead of pretending that it’s Jean, or even Landry, Tyra pretends it’s Riggins, which makes absolutely no sense but does make for a fun scene in which Riggins is forced to avoid a ball being smashed at his face. And the girl’s VB team wins their game, which is also ridiculous considering how terrible they were.
One thing this ep absolutely had going for it was a preponderance of excellent lines, mostly from Riggins. Lyla asking Riggins, “Why would you steal $3000 from a meth addict?” was particularly amusing, as was Riggins’ background chortling when Jean approaches Landry to give him a power metal mix CD and tells him he can listen to it in his car or his bedroom. “Wow, bedroom. Deep. Soulmate, right there.” Later, he asks Billy, “You’re going to apply a grade 9 education to the stock market?” And of course, Eric telling Tami he’d love to butter her toast.
In other player news, Smash is arrested for assault. His family is receiving obscene/threatening phone calls. He makes a formal apology, but then sees the boy he punched on TV railing on him. Suddenly a reporter appears, and Smash is coerced into telling the truth, which is that he wishes he had done worse to the kid. The ep ends with Smash coming home to find his mom and Coach Taylor in the living room, and Coach tells him that the board has chosen to suspend him for three games. “But that’s the rest of the regular season. How are we gonna get to State?”
And, with that climactic ending, we come to one of my main issues with FNL’s second season. Unlike season one, football has seemed utterly unimportant. We have seen almost no games, and the sense of urgency has been missing. Suddenly they’re concerned about going to State? Why weren’t they concerned before? Just because they won last year, that means nothing. For me, the lack of emphasis on actual football games means that the show has also stopped giving the impression that these kids are superstars in Dillon. Smash giving a press conference to apologize reminded me of that. I don't mind the character development, for sure, but I definitely think that football needs to come back into it in order to bring back the urgency.
Occupation: Music Industry
Current TV: Reaper, The Office, Supernatural, Friday Night Lights
All-Time TV: The West Wing, Buffy, Arrested Development, The Office (UK), Rescue Me
Movies: To Catch a Thief, A Fairy Tale, Pi, Eternal Sunshine
Music: Patsy Cline, Jawbreaker, Death Cab, Stars, Squeeze
Books: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Virgin Suicides, The Secret History, The Time Traveler's Wife, Absalom Absalom, Geek Love, anything by Flannery O'Connor
Websites: WWTD, TiFaux, Washington Post Crosswords, Aquarium Drunkard, Whole Health MD
Which TV character would you like to have...
a friendship with: Jen Lindley, Tyra Collette, Rickie Vasquez
a relationship with: Pacey Witter, Josh Lyman, Jason Street, Will Tippin, Charles Gunn
in your bed: Dean Winchester
Current TV: Gossip Girl, Flight of the Conchords, The Hills
All-Time TV: The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Sex and the City, Antiques Roadshow, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Murder She Wrote
Movies: Annie Hall, Gone with the Wind, North By Northwest, To Kill a Mockingbird
Music: Joanna Newsom, Melanie, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones
Books: On Beauty, Air Guitar, The Americans
Websites: Fred Flare, The Sartorialist, NY Times, The Stranger
Which TV character would you like to have...
a friendship with: Larry David (does that count?)
a relationship with: Aidan (Sex in the City), Brett (Flight of the Conchords)
in your bed: Michael Vaughn (Alias)
And our newest guest bloggers!
Name: Hans Blix
Location: Portland, Or.
Occupation: Office bitch
Current TV: Lost, Friday Night Lights, Family Guy, The Deadliest Catch
All-Time TV: Lost, Freaks and Geeks, M*A*S*H, Friends
Movies: Amelie, City of Lost Children, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Strangelove
Music: Beirut, Death Cab, LCD Soundsystem, Okkervil River, Stars
Books: Camus-The Plague, anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway
Websites: Pitchfork, PerezHilton, BlueOregon, Truehoop
Which TV character would you most like to have...
a friendship with: Hurley from Lost
a relationship with: Rachel Green from Friends
in your bed: Sarah Walker from Chuck
Name: Sexy Bacon
Occupation: YA Librarian
Current TV: Don't watch any current TV— mm, I guess the two I do watch are pretty good, Lost and Big Love (but I can't speak for this season)
All-Time TV: Six Feet Under, My So-Called Life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Movies: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Dead Poets Society, Beautiful Thing
Music: Iron & Wine, Neko Case, The Smiths, Antony and the Johnsons
Books: Norwegian Wood, God of Small Things, Interpreter of Maladies, The Book Thief, Goodnight Moon
Websites: A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Fuse #8 (now under School Library Journal)
Which TV character would you most like to have...
a friendship with: the blond chick from Freaks and Geeks, Christina from Grey's Anatomy, Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
a relationship with: McDreamy (post divorce)
in your bed: Vaughn from Alias, Nate from Six Feet Under, Franco from Rescue Me, Jordan Catalano
Once there was a girl. She slept in a lovely cottage made of gingerbread and candy. She was always asleep. One morning, she woke up.
My So-Called Life – The Substitute
An extraordinary substitute English teacher enthralls the students and frightens their parents.
Man, this theme song is practically making me cry just hearing it (much like the Friday Night Lights theme). I am such a pushover! The ep opens with Angela pontificating on teachers' private lives. Cut to a wild classroom with no teacher. In walks a (relatively) young, hip-looking teacher who proceeds to act as though he could care less what the students are doing. He tells them to continue wasting their lives.
Yeah, it's very Dead Poets Society. Or something. Anyway, the teacher somehow gets through to Jordan, like, instantly. And keeps on pushing him as the ep continues. And eventually realizes that "it seems that nobody ever bothered to notice that he never quite learned how to read!" But seriously, he's a very inspiring teacher. Notice, in the lower left corner of the above photo, Jordan's expression of orgasmic delight at being taught. It's a beautiful thing.
Brian tells the sub that one thing they're supposed to do this semester is publish an edition of the literary journal. So the sub reads their work and says it's boring and uninspired, and tells them all to re-write their stuff, anonymously. And someone writes a sexy poem and it causes this whole censorship issue. Patty's company is printing the lit mag, and she and Graham aren't sure they should print the poem … but after talking to the sub they realize it's not their place to censor. However it is the principal's place, and he collects all issues of the lit mag.
There is the strong suggestion that the poem is Rayanne's, but eventually we discover that Sharon wrote it. This is the first ep where my theory of Sharon & Rayanne being the external manifestation of each other's inner desires is explored. Neither of them can really talk to Angela about sex, so they turn to each other. Rayanne wishes she had written the poem, and she and Sharon totally bond over it.
Eventually, the sub quits, and Angela learns that he actually kind of sucks. He abandoned his family and is wanted for not paying child support. Angela takes a stand against censorship, which unfortunately has no effect but to get her suspended from school, and that's pretty much the end.
Once & Again – A Dream Deferred
In this ep, Judy wants Lily to build a coffee bar in the bookstore. Rick gets involved, and gets so excited about it that he ends up pressuring Lily to go through with it even though she knows they can’t afford it. Judy is fast becoming the only character I actually like on this show, so any eps that revolve around her are a step up in my book. Meanwhile, Lily learns that Jake is having money troubles when she gets a call informing her that their mortgage payment is late. So she whines about it to him. Blech.
Once & Again – The Ex-Files
The Sammler family goes on a trip together when Eli’s basketball team plays in some kind of finals game. There is a weird moment in the hotel when Rick sees Karen in her underwear and he kind of gazes longingly at her – while on the phone with Lily, mind you – but nothing ends up happening. Why tantalize me with this if nothing's going to happen?!? On the trip, Rick meets a new man in Karen’s life [who is the dad from 90210], named Lloyd Lloyd. Ouch. Meanwhile, Lily plans a relaxing weekend alone but can’t handle being by herself for a whole two days. Good lord. Jake has the kids for the weekend and they accidentally end up meeting Tiffany, a girl he’s been dating who is more into him than he is to her. Zoe likes her, but Grace is a raging bitch as usual.
Once & Again – The Past Is Prologue
Big surprise, Lily has a problem. Rick is distracted by work and Lily feels neglected. This ep features a lot of flashbacks to the early days of Lily and Jake’s marriage, when she also felt neglected and had terrible hair. Eli and Rick get into a fight in this ep, and Eli screams “What, are you going to beat me up?!?” Which is so totally out of nowhere and causes all this strife in the Sammler family. And Eli cries a lot, which is really bugging me. I think it’s really pathetic and weak. I know, I’m an asshole.
My So-Called Life – The Zit
Angela and her mother struggle with imperfection and self-image when Angela's skin erupts and Patty's confidence about her appearance flags while preparing for the Mother-Daughter Fashion Show. Sharon and Rayanne each win not-so-coveted titles in an informal poll.
Angela has a huge zit, Sharon has a jock boyfriend. Flyers rating the Top 40 sophomore girls are littered all over school: Sharon wins "Best Hooters" (and is horrified), Rayanne wins "Most Slut Potential" (and is delighted), Angela wins nothing. Meanwhile, Patty (who is feeling old) wants Angela to sign up for the Mother-Daughter fashion show, which Angela doesn't want to do. Oh, and Danielle totally wants to be in the fashion show, but everyone ignores her.
Rickie and Brian begin to develop a shaky friendship. Sharon treats Kyle like crap because he's friends with the guys who did the poll, and she thinks he only likes her because of her breasts. So she breaks up with him. Kyle, to his credit, is a sweet guy and seems utterly bewildered.
Later, Kyle corners Sharon in the band room and steals her shoe. He forces her to talk to him, and says that he although he likes her breasts, he also likes her smile, the fact that she's usually in a good mood, and the fact that it seems like she likes him too. It's pretty cute.
Angela tells her mom to stop trying to make her pretty, and they have a fight because Angela thinks Patty is ashamed of her. In the end, Angela does not participate in the fashion show (Danielle takes her place). Instead, she cries in the back row to the strains of Enigma's "Return to Innocence" while her voiceover rambles on about how people are so strange and complicated that in a way, we're all beautiful. Yikes.
Oh, and throughout the ep their English class is reading The Metamorphosis and Jordan asks Brian for help, then asks him if the story is made up. So I guess maybe Jordan IS supposed to be an idiot.
This ep was heavy-handed on the message du jour, but it did have this adorable moment:
Rickie: See, the Egyptians wore eyeliner to ward off evil spirits. They believed that if they outlined their eyes, the good spirits would spot 'em easier. I read it in a book, so that's why I tried it.
Brian: So you believe in evil spirits?
Rickie: Oh no, I'm Catholic. Basically I just like how it looks.
My So-Called Life – Father Figures
Daughters struggle with their flawed fathers: Angela suspects her father is having an affair and Patty's father is in trouble with the IRS. This ep is kind of boring, but features the denouement of the "my dad's having an almost-affair" storyline. And, we find out in passing that Rickie's father [really his uncle] is physically abusive. And, Winnie Holzman makes her first appearance as guidance counselor Mrs. Kryzanowski.
Rayanne is over at Angela's, and Graham teaches her to make fritters. They start talking about the Grateful Dead, and discover they are both fans. Rayanne is delighted, since she doesn't have a dad. Meanwhile, Patty is a bitch, continually referring to Angela’s friends as "that Rayanne person" and "that Rickie person." Graham gives Angela and Rayanne Grateful Dead tickets, and Rayanne is ecstatic. But Angela is pulling away from Graham, and he is concerned. Naturally, Patty is irate that Graham has suggested Angela go to a Dead concert, so he promises to get the tickets back.
Looking for an excuse to talk to Jordan, Angela casually mentions that she has Dead tickets, and Jordan offers to help her scalp them. So she does, without thinking about Rayanne at all. And Rayanne is super pissed.
When Graham tries to get the tickets back, Angela is so angry with him that lies about scalping them and runs out of the house, letting her parents believe that she has gone to the concert. And she hides in Brian's car, and ends up confiding in him. And they have this priceless interaction, which I totally remember!
B: Did you ever think that I could actually be doing something that does not involve you? That I may not just be sitting around in case you decide like that moment, that you need my car?
A: So what were you doing?
Finally, Rayanne and Angela make up, as do Angela and her father. No reason is ever given for Graham's near-dalliance – no long talks, no hashing out of problems, none ‘o that. It is never mentioned again, which is rather refreshing.
In other plot news, Patty's father appears when the business gets audited. He is overly judgmental and particularly hard on her, so we see why she is the way she is. And he was using the company car for personal use, so they have to pay all these back taxes.
Once & Again – The Scarlet Letter Jacket
I don’t like this show, but I have decided that it might be fun to blog about something I don’t like. I'm mad at whoever who voted for this show [I know you're out there, it won the poll]. Because I don't like this show, you get a three-in-one post today to help quicken our journey through the world of O&A.
In this ep, Grace tells Lily that everyone at school knows about her and Rick. Even Jake has heard about the relationship from a friend. Lily and Rick are having dinner when Karen interrupts, so Lily hides [which is really lame. To his credit, Rick tries to convince her not to]. The school is having some sort of carnival, and Grace & Eli, Lily & Karen, and Rick & Jake are assigned to work together. Grace and Eli get along really well, and she starts to develop a huge crush on him [I sense trouble ahead, though I think it’d be pretty rad if they also developed a relationship].
Setting up for the carnival, Lily hears all the mothers gossiping and realizes soon they’ll be gossiping about her. Jennifer’s friends are bitches, telling Grace that Eli thinks she’s too fat and her breasts are too small. One of the mothers finally tells Karen about Lily and Rick, and Karen gets pissed at Rick for not telling her.
Lily wonders if their relationship is going too fast, and tells Rick they have to be careful of other people's feelings. Rick feels that other people can get over it [I like Rick. Not so much Lily]. She then reminisces about all the times she has let other people control her actions. So in the end, Lily goes over to Rick in front of everyone at the carnival and puts her hand on his shoulder. This reminds me of the handholding ep of MSCL which will be discussed soon.
Once & Again – Liars and Other Strangers
Lily’s daughters are sullen and snippy (particularly Grace), as they don’t like Rick. Actually, they’ve never met Rick. But they want their own parents to get back together. Lily and Rick need a quiet place to have sex [this show is all about R&L doing it] so Lily’s sister Judy offers up her apartment. Unfortunately when Judy meets Rick, she hates him (she even says so in a B&W interview moment). Judy also tells Lily that she is teaching Grace that sex is shameful – she understands that sneaking around is what makes it hot, but it is teaching Grace the wrong ideas.
Eli lies to his mom about Rick & Lily so as not to hurt her feelings. When he realizes he has left his World Cultures textbook at Rick’s, he goes to pick it up but is stymied when he hears R&L having sex. Eli lies and tells his mom he stayed up all night studying, so when he fails his test she is worried that he can’t handle school even when he studies.
While at Rick’s, Jessie finds Eli’s textbook and Karen sees it. She’s pissed that Eli lied, but Eli won’t defend himself. Eli goes to Rick’s and starts crying, upset because he keeps getting put in the middle. Rick tells him not to cover up for him, but Eli says it’s his responsibility to protect his mom. Finally, Karen tells Eli that he’s good at being the man of the house, but that he doesn’t have to take care of her. She knows about Lily and she doesn’t need to be shielded from it. To sum up, we’re four episodes in and basically nothing has happened. Great.
Once & Again – There Be Dragons
Ok, this theme song is seriously getting on my nerves. I’m sure my cute upstairs neighbor is judging me based solely on this terrible music. It's a woman going "ooooh, ahhhh" much like in the early seasons of Felicity. Anyway, in this ep Rick decides that it’s time Lily met his kids. Rick and Jessie are going on their annual camping trip, so he tells Lily to stop by that morning. He is distracted by her presence and nearly slices his finger off, so Lily takes the family to the emergency room and Jessie likes that she was “not flustered.” Now every time someone chops vegetables in this show [which happens quite often] I’m expecting blood and gore.
Meanwhile, Jake tells Lily that he wants her back, and she says “screw you.” Basically. But it’s super obvious something is going to happen with them. This ep had an excessive amount of sappy B&W glimpses of Jessie's inner thoughts. Parts of this show are really good … there are times when it nails the parent-child relationship. But most of the time, it’s overly saccharine. And it makes a LOT of generalizations based on gender that really bug me; i.e. “sex means more to girls” or “men don’t worry as much as women do.”
Friday Night Lights - Who Do You Think You Are?
The Taylors consider daycare for Grace, Lyla takes a job at a Christian radio station, Matt has a realization about his feelings for Carlotta, and Smash's love life is scrutinized by those close to him.
The “previously on” shows Santiago! This is a good sign.
As the ep opens, Eric and Tami are enrolling baby Grace in daycare. Eric is concerned about the daycare center, so Tami goes alone to drop Grace off. However, once she gets there she finds she can't do it. This is actually a pretty cute scene, and makes me like Tami again. Eric talks to Mac about the situation, and Mac proves that although he semi-redeemed himself for saying something racist in first season, he has no problems being sexist [albeit kind of funny]. He tells Eric that women want to stay home and take care of babies, and that Tami should quit her job. Eventually Tami decides on her own that this is what she should do, but Eric convinces her that they have other options. It takes 4 tries, but eventually Tami leaves Grace at daycare, though only because Eric is there to support her.
Meanwhile, in the most boring storyline ever, Carlotta tells Matt that she has to go back to Guatemala because her family needs her. I don't know why, but the whole Matt-Carlotta story has never resonated with me. I realize this was supposed to be a really sad ep for Matt [and I do love me some Matt Saracen] but it just … wasn't. Anyway, he tells Carlotta he loves her and then she leaves a day early without saying goodbye. Big whoop.
In more exciting news, an old friend of Santiago's named Devon pops up again, and it's Weevil from Veronica Mars. He wants to drag Santiago back into his evil clutches, but Santiago refuses. Buddy meets Santiago's friends and tries to be all “cool” by inviting them over on Thursday night. In reality, he's nervous because the kids are all "thugs" and he takes all of his valuables to Eric's, blathering on about being worried, should he trust Santiago, he should, shouldn't he? It's cute. He ends up taking his stuff back home and Santiago sees him setting everything back up. Santiago's small gathering turns into a huge rager, and the whole time he's nervous and compulsively cleaning. After the party, he realizes that Devon has stolen Buddy's watch, so he goes after him and they get into a fight to the strains of “driving rap music,” according to the subtitles. There is a lot of fighting on this show recently; lots of testosterone being thrown around. Devon tells Santiago he has forgotten where he comes from, and that Buddy wouldn't care a bit about him if he didn't play football. Santiago goes home beat to hell, and Buddy takes care of him. Awwwww.
In equally exciting news, Noelle invites Smash's family to dinner to meet her parents and once they get together, all the parents tell the couple that they don't want them dating because the folks of Dillon are small-minded. Smash tells his mom that she has humiliated him. Smash takes his little sister Noannie to a movie, but really he is meeting Noelle for a secret date. Everyone at the theater [read: all white people] looks at them like they are lepers. At the movie, some [white] boys sitting behind Noannie start harassing her, so Smash intercedes. And one guy says “You got one of ours, why shouldn't we get one of yours?” So Smash punches him in the face. And they run out of the theater. Later, Smash asks Noannie not to tell their mom what has happened, even though she is really upset.
Finally, in the second-lamest storyline of the night, Lyla gets a job at a Christian radio station working as co-host of a call-in show, and she meets the adorable Chris (Logan from Gilmore Girls, although very un-Loganesque). Riggins & Herc call in, with Riggins pretending to be a girl, and ask stupid questions. Street makes only the briefest of appearances in this ep, asking Riggins if this is his way of telling Lyla he likes her. Lyla goes to Riggins' house and tells him that the radio show is important to her and she would appreciate if if he could respect that, so then he feels bad and suddenly realizes he's in love with her. The reveal was actually pretty cute, with him listening to her on the radio and then saying "Damn it, Lyla" as he realizes he loves her. However, because it's these two, I say "puh-leeze." So he buys flowers and goes to the station, but he sees Lyla and Chris kissing so he throws the flowers down and storms out.
I actually like the Lyla-Chris story, it's nice to bring in new blood, but the Riggins part just strikes me as ridiculous. I guess I don't see why Riggins is supposed to be in love with Lyla, plus I prefer the brooding playboy Riggins to the heartfelt flower-buying Riggins. Additionally, Chris was not given any real personality; he was just there to attract Lyla. I guess in a way this is realistic; when you first meet a person you don't know everything about him immediately. But a little more character development would have been nice.
This episode was rather boring overall, and brought up even more holes in the continuity of FNL. When Riggins calls into Lyla's show, he is hanging out at Street's place. So … why was he living with the Taylors when he could have been crashing at Street's? Additionally, the return of Landry was a little out of place. We have weathered a lack of continuity in relationships through the Smash/Matt feud, the Landry/Tyra love affair, the Julie/teacher connection, and now it happens again. Matt and Landry are joking around, cool as can be, although the last time we saw Landry wasn't he all brooding about being let off the hook for the killing? It just felt weird. Plus Landry looked really different, didn't he? Like more blonde, or something.
My So-Called Life – Guns & Gossip
A day in the life of Liberty High includes gunshots in the hallway and a rumor about Angela and Jordan. This ep also marks the shift from "Rickie as Rayanne's friend" to "Rickie as Angela's friend."
“Guns & Gossip” opens in social studies class, where all the girls are passing around a note. Brian goes to the restroom and sees Rickie getting pushed around, but he doesn't see who the tormentor is. Inside "soc" [I thought this was the accepted abbreviation for "Sociology," silly me] Angela sees the note, which says that she and Jordan Catalano had "complete sex" in his car. Outside "soc" a gun goes off, and Brian runs out of the bathroom to see Rickie and the aforementioned bully running in opposite directions, the gun lying on the floor.
A; "Who would write a note like that?"
R: "Everybody writes notes like that. We write notes like that."
Rayanne wants Angela to consider the note a positive thing, as it could help her get to the next level with Jordan – she believes that perhaps Jordan himself started the rumor. [NOTE: Angela refers to the kissing debacle of last episode as "introductory kisses." Is this girl nuts or what? That was one of the worst first-pseudo-dates in TV history!]
Throughout the ep, we see Rickie getting pushed around by various mean-looking dudes. And he gets called "fag" a lot. In "soc" the class talks about the incident, and Rickie says he can understand why someone would bring a gun to school because some people need protection. Meanwhile, the principal wants to talk to Brian about the gun incident, and ends up threatening him to get him to talk. Angela becomes increasingly concerned that Rickie was the one with the gun, and both she and Rayanne are bitches to Brian because of his chats with the principal. The principal threatens to expel Brian if he doesn't talk, and he finally stands up for himself, saying he's told them all he can. And he doesn't mention Rickie.
Patty goes to a meeting at school and admires an outspoken woman, who she later learns is Rayanne's mother Amber … and that Amber knows much more about her daughter's life than she does. She even knows about Jordan Catalano. And she thinks Angela has “complete taste.” [Everything in this ep is “complete” … I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard anyone say that.]
Jordan approaches Angela and oh-so-casually implies that since everyone already thinks they're having sex, they might as well go ahead and do it. She is shocked, the music turns dark, and she says she has to go. And he calls after her, "No pressure or anything." Yeah, Jordan's kind of lame. But I forgive him because I know what's coming.
Angela overhears Sharon saying that Brian is the one who has been telling everyone that she and Jordan had sex. Angela confronts Brian, and sadly he admits that it kind of was his fault. He says, "I didn't lie to her, I just … I can imagine what she did with it. But you lied too, when you said you didn't know about Jordan coming over that night. Because I've thought about it for like 50 hours. You used me." WHY does she not get that this kid likes her?!?!
Finally, in the gut-wrenching finale, Jordan tells Angela that he understands why she's upset ["some girls wouldn't be, but you're not like that"], and that he's sorry, and that he will make it very clear to everyone that he has no real interest in her and that they mean nothing to each other. So, now Angela feels like shit.
Oh, and Rickie admits that the gun isn't his; his cousin brought it and they were arguing about that fact. At the very end of the ep, they come into school for a new day and find that the school has installed metal detectors.
Since Gossip Girl is moving to a new night [Mondays at 8:00 for those who don't know], SDYW is losing GG blogger Alligator. However, we are certain we can convince her to donate an occasional post on some random subject or other now and again. It is possible that Boots will take over GG blogging duties. More on that soon. In other staff news, we are currently attempting to "hire" another guest blogger who will weigh in on Flight of the Conchords and [possibly] Entourage.
Readers, are you interested? Help us convince him by leaving a comment!
Once & Again – Let’s Spend The Night Together
As the ep opens, Lily and Rick make plans for “tonight” because their schedules are so hectic. When Rick picks the kids up for school, Karen tells him that she heard Eli say “I love you” to Jennifer, and asks him to talk to their son about condoms. At school, Grace tells her best friend that she caught her mom & Rick nearly having sex on the living room couch.
Rick talks to Eli about sex and tells him it always means more to girls, no matter what they say [WTF? Seriously.] However, when Rick gets home Eli appears half-naked. He says Jennifer is upstairs, embarrassed. Rick isn’t upset about the fact that his son wants to have sex, he’s upset about the sneaking around. Eli says, “So where should we do it if you say it’s ok with you?” Nice play, Eli! This gets no response.
Lily and Rick go to lunch and agree to have sex that night, but later Lily panics and cancels the date. He shows up anyway, and convinces her to go to his place. Next comes a horribly awkward sex scene that ends with Rick unable to maintain an erection and Lily in tears.
Yikes. This ep was iffy, though it’s early yet so I’ll try not to judge the whole show. I was particularly amused by Lily’s freakout before she cancels the date, as I have a friend who is recently out of a seven-year relationship and is worried about dating again because she thinks that everyone has herpes nowadays. So, that was kinda funny.
My So-Called Life: Dancing in the Dark
Rayanne arranges Angela's first contact with Jordan Catalano by having him sell her a fake ID, while Patty and Graham attempt to get closer by taking dance lessons. This ep includes Jordan and Angela's first "date" [in the loosest possible sense of the word], and involves Angela's parents way more than is necessary.
“What’s amazing is when you can feel your life going somewhere. Like your life just figured out how to get good. Like that second.”
Yes! One of my favorite episodes opens with Angela reminiscing about the three times she’s been kissed: once by a camp counselor with a girlfriend, once by a boy who lost a bet, and once during mouth-to-mouth after she almost drowned (although she admits this one may not count, as she was unconscious at the time). “All of them were people I never saw again. Which I hope doesn’t, like, mean something.”
Rayanne tells Angela that it’s time to progress to the next level with Jordan Catalano, and to help she asks Jordan to procure a fake ID for Angela. Rayanne & Rickie then appear to coax Angela out of biology class, and she slips out while the teacher’s back is turned. Brian covers for her and Sharon scoffs at him: “She takes advantage of you, and you totally let her.”
In the hall, Brian asks Angela to help him with an extra-credit project. Rayanne sees this as the perfect opportunity to invite Jordan over. Rayanne tells Angela that “part of him is partly interested in you, definitely, but he’s got other things on his mind.” And I was awfully close with my attempt to remember Angela’s response, which is:
But that’s the part that’s so unfair! I have nothing else on my mind! How come I have to be the one sitting around, analyzing him in, like, microscopic detail, and he gets to be the one with other things on his mind?”
Angela is [duh] super nervous, afraid of making her fantasy real. When Jordan arrives, she goes out to his car and is exclaiming over the fake ID when he kisses her. She shoves him off without thinking, and then says, “I’m sorry, I was talking.” He says, “No, whatever,” then attacks her again. She shoves him off again, saying, “You have to work up to that!” Jordan tells her she acts young and talks too much, and she is taken aback. They sit for a moment, and then he sighs and says he’s had a messed-up day. Suddenly the moment becomes perfect, and she is ready “for him to kiss me, for him to anything me” … and he leans over … and shoves her door open, waiting for her to get out of the car.
A friend who recently watched this told me that she didn’t remember Jordan Catalano being so lame. And though obviously I see him differently now that I’m 28, I never realized before that Jordan is totally confounded by Angela. They haven’t gone very deep into his character yet so I’m curious to see what will happen as we progress, but currently what I’m getting out of this is that Angela is nothing like any girl Jordan has ever known/been with, and he has no clue how to behave.
Meanwhile, Brian is sad that his night with Angela has turned into her night with Jordan. Angela is Brian’s “Jordan Catalano”— alternately exciting and confusing, sweet and infuriating.
In the parental story, Patty and Graham are growing apart so they sign up for ballroom dancing. Patty also cuts all her hair off. The two are terrible dancers, and get into a big fight about the distance between them. Later, Graham admits to his brother Neil that he has a date with another woman. He realizes he can’t go through with it and calls the woman to break the date, but Angela comes downstairs and hears everything.
Apparently I’m unintentionally going through some sort of Marshall Herskovitz/Edward Zwick phase right now, as they are involved in both MSCL and O&A. Next stop, Thirtysomething. And now, here's some background on Once & Again, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Once & Again aired on ABC from 1999 to 2002. It was created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the same team that created Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. One of the show's more unique aspects were the "interview" sequences filmed in black and white and interspersed throughout each episode, where the characters would reveal their most innermost thoughts and memories to the camera.
We open on Lily (Sela Ward) lying in bed, with a voiceover/B&W “talking head” of her talking as though she’s being interviewed [these asides are a bit irritating]. Anyway, she is saying “All I ever wanted to be safe. That’s the funny thing, cause I never chose the safe thing.” She feels as though her life is losing direction, and she isn’t sure what to do next. We see her waking up her children: 14-year-old Grace and 9-year-old Zoe. We learn that Lily is in the middle of a divorce because her husband, Jake, cheated on her. Next we see Rick (Billy Campbell) waking up, and his B&W bit: “I always had a map for my life. You know, where I was supposed to be headed. And now it’s like I’ve walked off it entirely.” No specific reason is given for his divorce, but we learn that he also has two children: 16-year-old Eli, and 11-year-old Jessie.
Rick and Lily first make contact while dropping their kids off at school. Their eyes meet and they have a quick flash of connection, then Rick drives away. Later that day, Grace is hurt in a soccer match and Lily takes her to the school office, where Rick and Eli are waiting for a meeting with the guidance counselor. Rick and Lily chat, each revealing that he/she is divorced, and they have a bit of cute flirtation. Later, Rick calls Lily to ask her out, and he is adorably nervous. She is distracted my her family crowding the kitchen and replies, “Uh yeah, thanks. You know, if there is any, we’ll call. Thank you so much.”
Which, yes, has absolutely nothing to do with what Rick has asked. Later, she calls him back to apologize and they make a date. During all of this, Rick’s kids know what is going on and are supportive of it [“Go Dad!”] while Lily tells her daughters she is going on a date, but does not tell them who she is dating. Lily’s kids are skeptical, as both want their own parents to get back together. Jake’s continued presence—he behaves almost as if they are not getting divorced at all—continues to make things difficult.
At school, Eli notices Grace in the hall, and her friends freak out. Later, he invites to a make out party, and Grace is amazed … for Grace is super high-strung, has panic attacks, and has incredibly low self-esteem (she thinks she’s ugly and overweight). And Eli is apparently somewhat of a school hottie.
Rick and Lily have a great date, and make out like teenagers. They set up another date, with Lily asking Jake to take the kids for the night. After much cute hedging, Rick & Lily go back to her place with the agreement that they will not have sex. However, this goes out the window pretty quickly, and they are getting naked on the couch when Jake & the kids walk in. Grace is horrified, and finally realizes that this is why Eli has been talking to her.
Lily and Rick meet for coffee, and she tells him they can’t date. He tells her that what is happening between them doesn’t happen that often, but she walks away. However, in the end she calls Rick and they meet again. There is no dialogue, they just walk up to each other and break into huge grins. And that’s the end of the pilot.
So far I like it ok. With the exception of Grace, the characters are presented as very well adjusted. I’m assuming this will disintegrate as the show continues, or else how boring! To sum up:
THE FAMILY MANNING
Lily Manning: high-strung, high-maintenance soccer mom who owns a bookstore with her sister. She is hesitant about relationships, is afraid of getting hurt, and uses her children as an excuse (i.e. “they’re not ready for me to date yet”). Lily has two children…
Grace Manning: a relatively normal 14-year-old. Not popular, but has her group of friends. Suffers from low self-esteem and panic attacks. Is desperate to start dating, but no one is asking her.
Zoe Manning: little miss perfect. Cute, sweet, able to easily manipulate her father…
Jake Manning: charming and handsome, his unfaithfulness led to his divorce. However Jake and Lily are not divorced yet, and there is a suggestion that until recently they were still fooling around.
THE FAMILY SAMMLER
Rick Sammler: calmer and more casual than Lily, owns an architecture firm with his best friend. Started dating immediately after his divorce. More “carpe diem” than Lily. Rick has two children…
Eli Sammler: handsome, popular 16-year-old. Good at basketball but terrible at school; wants a girl who won’t judge him for his tutoring (he is overly concerned with this). Girlfriend is Jennifer.
Jessie Sammler: at this point I know nothing about this child, except she’s 11 and the daughter of Rick and…
Karen Sammler: a normal mom, a little high-strung, very concerned with Eli’s trouble in school. Thinks Rick doesn’t want to admit their son has a problem.
Friday Night Lights – Jumping The Gun
Smash feels pressured to make a commitment to a college, Coach Taylor worries about Riggins and Julie, the Panthers gear up for the biggest game of the season, and Tami clashes with her sister. Photo © NBC.
As the show opens, we learn that Smash is dating Noelle, the recruitment-savvy girl we met a couple of eps ago. Noelle is cute and disarming but smart and tough, and her brother has gone through the recruitment process so she is a great help to Smash. His mother, however, does not like Noelle, or the recruitment process itself—she is being courted just as much as Smash, with recruiters accosting her even in the middle of her grocery shopping. She thinks Smash is spending too much time worrying about recruitment and not enough time on his schoolwork. Smash is feeling a ton of pressure to commit to a college even though his top choice, TMU, has not yet approached him. Tami suggests that Eric speak to Smash, so Coach, Smash, and Noelle have a meeting and Eric reminds Smash to consider all of his options very carefully. I was concerned the Noelle would be difficult, but she backs up everything the coach says. Finally, the TMU recruiter shows up, and Smash accepts his offer in front of an entire restaurant full of people. In the end, he brings his mom flowers, and the Williams family is relieved to be done with the recruitment process.
In other news, Julie wakes up from her night of hard drinking in tears. Eric pokes in his head to check on her, being very gentle and treating her … well, like a girl who has been taken advantage of. Julie tries to tell her father what happened, but he cuts her off, and honestly she really doesn’t try that hard. I am starting to hate Julie again. Flash to Tim, who has slept in the locker room that night. Eric, tough as nails, kicks him out. Julie eventually goes to apologize to Tim but says she couldn’t tell her dad what happened, and Tim is very sweet about the situation, surprisingly. I would be like, “Bitch, tell your dad the truth already!” FINALLY, at the end of the ep, Julie admits the truth, and Eric goes to Tim to apologize, telling him that he is an honorable man—and that he says this not as a coach but as a father. Cue the waterworks.
In other Coach news, Eric and the Laraby coach are not getting along, though Eric tries to make amends. (NOTE: “Laraby” is how the name was spelled in the subtitles, I used “Larribee” in my last post but it’s the same thing). The Laraby coach is distracted and it's obvious something weird is going on. At the Dillon-Laraby game, the coach’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and I'm thinking maybe his job is in trouble if they don't win the game. The Panthers pull some kind of switcheroo play [to be honest I wasn’t entirely clear on this] and the Laraby coach becomes so incensed that he runs onto the field and tackles Tim to keep him from scoring. Later, he admits to Eric that his wife is dying, which was a cheap sympathy ploy. I would have preferred my storyline.
Back at the Taylor household, Shelley passes her real estate licensing exam. Her presence is wearing on the family, but Tami doesn’t want to ask her to leave. However, after Shelley accidentally tapes “The Office” over game tape, Eric loses it and asks when she’s moving out. Shelley is hurt and embarrassed, as she thought that she was helping with Grace rather than being a nuisance. She leaves to check into a hotel, and Tami (who has no idea what has happened) runs into her as she is getting into the cab. Tami asks her to stay, but Shelley says no, and Tami is understandably pissed about Eric’s behavior. Later, Tami and Shelley meet for coffee and Shelley announces that she’s moving to Dallas. The end of the ep shows the new and improved Taylor household, back to the loving, joking family we grew to adore first season.
Finally, in more Tim Riggins fun, Tim goes back to Billy's and discovers a delinquency notice on the front door. Inside, the house is a disgusting mess. Jackie [hot mom/neighbor] is moving out, and tells Tim that Billy lost his job, and that they have broken up. Billy is also a mess, and he apologizes to Tim for dating Jackie. The brothers make up, but now they have a new problem, for the house will be taken away if they can’t pay their mortgage. Billy accompanies Tim to Guy’s [crazy meth-dealing roommate] so Tim can pick up his stuff, and Tim finds a stack of cash hidden under the couch … after he accidentally knocks Guy’s gun onto the floor. Personally, that would be my first warning signal that taking the cash would be A BAD IDEA. And, even though Billy knows it’s a bad idea, he lets Tim convince him they should take it.
Not that I’m complaining, but second season is really focused on Tim Riggins. I notice in this post I’ve started referring to him as “Tim” rather than “Riggins” which I think is a by-product of the in-depth character development we’ve been getting. And I love Riggins, but where oh where is my dear Jason Street? In this ep we had no Street, no Santiago, no Lyla, no Tyra, no Landry, no Buddy, barely any Saracen … geez!
My So-Called Life - Pilot
Nothing terribly exciting happens in the pilot episode; we are simply introduced to the characters. Angela Chase, a 15-year-old sophomore, is beginning to weather the trials and tribulations of adolescence. She dumps her childhood best friend, Sharon, and spends all her time with new friend & wild child Rayanne. She dyes her hair “Crimson Glow” after Rayanne tells her that her hair is “holding her back.” She is increasingly alienated from her parents, especially her mother. She is obsessed with cutie-pie and world-weary slacker Jordan Catalano.
Angela’s family is made up of an uptight mom, a cool dad, and a practically invisible little sister. Mom Patty took over the family printing company after her father’s heart attack, and husband Graham works for her, though his dream has always been to go to cooking school. There is a strong suggestion that neither of them would spending their lives in these jobs had they not been forced into it, although Patty does enjoy her work. Patty is the stricter parent, and is resentful that she has to “be the mean one.”
Angela’s new friends are Rayanne and Rickie. Rayanne is wild and independent, though she has a nasty little drinking problem. Rickie, who is gay and a minority, is supremely persecuted within the high school landscape. Adding to his troubles, he has an abusive uncle (though actually I’m not sure this is revealed at this point in the show).
Angela’s old friends/nemeses are Sharon and Brian, both of whom she has known since childhood. Sharon is as “normal” as they come, and is pretty one-dimensional in the pilot though she plays a much larger part later. Brian is the boy next door, a highly intelligent and socially awkward geek.
After the character introductions, a little story begins. Rayanne invites Angela to a huge party and she goes, but is shoved into a mud puddle about two minutes into it. She goes inside to clean up, and finds Jordan Catalano watching TV. The scene is excellent, and pregnant with possibility. Shocked speechless by the mere sight of Jordan, Angela tries to open a locked door and then stands awkwardly facing the wall, trying to gather the courage to open her mouth. When she finally does, this gem of a conversation develops:
J: This doesn’t seem like a Friday.
A: It’s Thursday.
J: Oh. Are you sure?
A: Well, yesterday was Wednesday, so…
J: Oh. Right.
A: So that’s how I know.
Jordan’s buddies come looking for him, and he leaves without another word, or even a glance.
Time passes. Rayanne convinces Angela to go to a rave [good god] and Angela has a charged interaction with Brian as she waits in front of her house to be picked up. It becomes starkly obvious that Brian is hopelessly in love with Angela, though she is totally oblivious. Brian has a hard time interacting with Angela, particularly when Jordan is involved, and thus comes across as judgmental and condescending.
At the rave (which they can’t get into) some creepy guys hit on Rayanne and the situation quickly turns serious, ending with Rayanne and Angela being loaded into a cop car … right in front of Jordan Catalano, who calls out Angela’s name. She, of course, is absolutely thrilled.
Arriving home, Angela sees her father talking with an unknown young woman around the corner. Nothing particularly sinister is taking place, except for the fact that Graham is taking to a strange woman, in the street, away from the house, in the middle of the night. Angela looks perturbed.
All in all a pretty good pilot, considering that nothing happens. The outfits are terrible, though familiar. Especially the sleeveless dress & long-sleeved top combo, which I totally rocked back in the day. The pilot was shot over a year before the rest of the episodes, so everyone looks really different. And, I just discovered a rather horrifying little factoid. According to MSCL.com, Claire Danes was 13 when they shot the pilot … and Jared Leto was 21. Yikes!
Thanks to my wonderful best friend, I am now in temporary possession of the complete series of My So-Called Life, recently re-released on DVD by Shout! Factory. The set includes all 19 episodes plus a disc of bonus features, and contains a deluxe booklet with essays written by creator Winnie Holzman, Joss Whedon, Janeane Garofalo, and more. Prepare yourself for posts full of “like” and ellipses.
Before I start devouring the DVDs, I wanted to remember what I could about the show. Most of it is hazy, but certain things rise to the surface: Buffalo Tom and hand-holding, Jordan Catalano singing “I Wanna Be Sedated,” the Our Town speech, Brian thinking about how Angela’s hair smells like oranges, the episode in which Patty finally meets Jordan and realizes he’s just like the first boy she fell in love with, and … although I’m not quite sure why … Shelley Fabares.
And, because I’m a huge nerd and obviously it struck a chord, there is one particular bit of dialogue that I remember almost verbatim. I think. I guess we’ll find out when I get to that episode. It is as follows:
But that’s the part that’s so unfair! How come I have to be the one analyzing him in, like, microscopic detail, and he gets to be the one with ‘other things on his mind’?
And now, some background courtesy of Wikipedia, amended by me:
My So-Called Life aired on ABC from August 1994 to January 1995 [I was 15, just like Angela]. The critically acclaimed show was short-lived and ended in a cliffhanger, cancelled in May 1995 due to low ratings and to the reluctance of star Claire Danes to return for its second season [I never knew that!]. MSCL predated the explosion of youth and teen programming, though the culture of television would change significantly in the years that immediately followed its demise, most notably with the rise of The WB and UPN networks.
MSCL depicted the teenage years as difficult and confusing as opposed to light and fun-filled. The show brought up issues that were usually not mentioned in family series at the time, including child abuse, homophobia, teenage alcoholism, school violence, and same-sex parenting, among many others. While a lot of shows brought up these themes as a one-time issue that would be resolved at the end of the episode, in MSCL they were just part of the world. Additionally, I remember MSCL being different from other teen shows in that it focused just as much on the parents as the kids.
Let’s re-familiarize ourselves with the major players:
Angela Chase (Claire Danes) is a 15-year-old sophomore. As she grows up and tries figure out her identity, she distances herself from her parents and her childhood friends in order to move in a new direction.
Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) is a super cute, super clueless boy who drifts aimlessly through life. His behavior hints that there may be a great deal below the surface, though he is ill equipped to fulfill this potential. He is the textbook definition of the boy a girl thinks she can “save.” Angela is obsessed with him.
Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) is Angela's new best friend. She is wild, promiscuous, irresponsible, and yet fiercely loyal [with one major exception, you’ll see]. Rayanne is a teenage alcoholic with a semi-checked-out mom, but to Angela she represents freedom and independence.
Sharon Cherski (Devon Odessa) is Angela's old best friend, dropped with no warning once Angela befriended Rayanne. For Angela, Sharon represents convention and boredom.
SIDE NOTE: Rayanne and Sharon are more alike than Angela realizes, and I always perceived each girl to be the external representation of the other’s inner desires.
Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz) is Rayanne Graff's other best friend. He is a gay, bi-racial boy raised by his uncle, who physically abuses him. The overt, tangible alienation that Rickie contends with mirrors Angela’s internal alienation.
Patty Chase (Bess Armstrong) is Angela's mother. She is opinionated and kind of judgmental, often clashing with Angela.
Graham Chase (Tom Irwin) is Angela's father. He is mellow and sweet, acting as the parent that Angela “likes.”
Danielle Chase (Lisa Wilhoit) is Angela's younger sister, largely ignored by the rest of the characters including her own family.
Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall) is the geeky boy next door. He is desperately in love with Angela, but due to his supreme social awkwardness he comes across as self-righteous or disparaging in most of their interactions.
Friday Night Lights - There Goes The Neighborhood
A tornado forces the Panthers to share close quarters with a rival team; Julie befriends Riggins after he moves in with the Taylors; and Landry makes a decision about his relationship with Tyra. Photo © NBC.
Ok, first off, Tim Riggins is so freakin’ HOT. Good lord.
As the ep begins, we find that Riggins has moved into the Coach’s house and he and Shelley play with baby Grace while a storm brews outside. [How long is Shelley visiting these poor people?!?] Tim leaves for the store and runs into Julie, who accompanies him. Shelley, left alone in the house, reminds herself out loud that Riggins is jail bait. [Finally someone acknowledges the statutory rape factor!] Regardless, I totally think Shelley and Riggins should do it, cause their chemistry is electric.
While they are at the store, a tornado hits and Tim protects Julie with those rippling arm muscles. If she didn’t already have a serious crush, you can bet she does now. Time passes. Back at the Taylor house, Tami tries to talk to Shelley and Jules, and is irritated to find that they are too distracted by Riggins doing situps to listen. All of this adds up to Julie becoming seriously hot for the boy. Talking with Lois about Riggins and the tornado, Julie says he was “holding me like protecting me, not like I love you.” So, at least she is smart enough to know where she stands.
Riggins fits into the Taylor household well (except Tami is a bitch as per usual this season, and she and Shelley get into another huge fight about their differences). In a fun twist on the prevailing “father figure” theme of the show, Eric truly enjoys having a “son figure” around. Riggins and Julie continue to hang out, and this culminates in the two of them going to a party where Julie gets wasted. Some kid brags to Riggins that he’s going to do her, and “big brother” Riggins threatens his life. He takes Julie home and tries to put her to bed, and the drunken fool tries to kiss him. Naturally, this is when Eric walks in, and he screams at Tim to get out of the house. Man, Riggins just can’t catch a break with Coach lately!
Meanwhile, the Landry/Tyra story progresses. Landry tries to hold her hand in public, and she puts him off. Landry asks her to the dance, and she says no but goes with Chip, Larribee quarterback. Landry can’t handle watching Tyra and Chip talking, and starts a huge cafeteria-wide fight. (And calls a guy with excessively curly hair “Richard Simmons,” which was great). Finally, when Landry shows up at the dance looking for her, Tyra admits that she likes him more than she’s ever liked anyone else, and that scares her. Landry, however, is sick of waiting and he’s not gonna wait forever.
In football news, the tornado has forced the closure of the Larribee school (Panther rivals), so the students come to Dillon. Obviously this causes a great deal of strife, and the Larribee kids fuck up the Panthers locker room and pee on their stuff. Their coach does nothing, and when Riggins tries to take matters into his own hands, Eric interrupts and ends up throwing the Larribee coach up against a wall. Go Eric! This episode had a lot of fighting.
Finally, Buddy becomes even more worthy of the viewers’ sympathy when Pam announces that she is getting remarried. He tries to win her back but she gently rejects him. And he cries. Awwww.
I loved this ep. It had all the things that make FNL worth watching, including a bunch of shots of Riggins in tank tops. While I understand Eric’s knee-jerk “dad” reaction to finding Riggins bent over his daughter's bed, with her in it, I am kind of irritated that Eric doesn’t know better by now. I am still sick of Tami, Julie is returning to her former likeable self, Landry has finally thrown down with Tyra. The only sour note was a continued lack of Street.
Will Riggins finally move home with Billy? Will Julie be able to convince her dad that what happened was her fault? Will Tyra man up and deal with the fact that she actually cares for a boy? Will Matt dump Carlotta and become interesting again? Only time will tell…