Friday, August 28, 2009

Lizzie McGuire -- Jack Of All Trades

Remember those TV/movie/book characters you used to think were so cool, but when you look back, you realise they were actually pretty lame? (The Wakefield twins, DJ Tanner, those fucking Planeteers?) Well, Lizzie McGuire is one of them. Granted, I always liked her nemesis Kate better, but I never had anything against Lizzie per se. Turns out she's whiny, passive aggressive and selfish, so I don't particularly want to do an episode where she takes centre stage. Since this is kind-of her show, that makes things difficult.

This episode is mostly about Gordo, who you just know has grown up to be a STUD. He always had a babyfaced cuteness about him, didn't he? In case you're wondering, here's what he looks like now:

Okay, we were wrong. But imagination's a powerful thing, so let's all pretend we didn't see that, and go on thinking that Gordo's out there somewhere modelling for Calvin Klein. Sound like a plan? Good, let's move on to the recap.

Gordo, Miranda and Lizzie are in science class, but instead of regular old science, they're doing one of those tests which gives you a better idea of what your perfect career will be.

Quick story: we did a test like this is Year Twelve, only instead of just one option it gave you a few. Apparently, though, the people at the careers testing company thought I'd make a good mechanic. Yeah right, I don't even know how to drive. One of my friends got cheesemaker, which was baffling and oddly specific, to say the least. Another chick in our class was told her perfect career was -- and I don't even know where this came from -- a fish farmhand. Not even kidding. Because apparently we all took the Aim Low And Be Happy With Obscure Menial Labour Careers Test.

Mr. Pettus, the quirky science teacher, is giving out the test bubble procedure, informing the kids not to put a tick or a cross in the test bubble, but to lightly shade it. Cartoon Lizzie snarks the crap out of this, and I wish for a moment that Reality Lizzie could be more like Cartoon Lizzie. In fact, Cartoon Lizzie pretty much always tells us what Lizzie's really thinking, and boy is that bitch passive-aggressive. It can't be good to hold all that anger in. Lizzie will probably end up with some sort of personality disorder. Gordo actually says something re the test bubbling lecture out loud, and Mr. Pettus tells him off for being a smart-arse. Even before the opening credits, we've got a foreshadowing of Mr. Pettus's and Gordo's rocky relationship. Nice work, writers.

After class, Gordo is telling Lizzie and Miranda that he's been getting Bs in science because Mr. Pettus hates him. He says to them, "If there was some gross abnormality about me that Mr. Pettus hated, you'd tell me, right? Like an infected pimple, or a deformed twin growing out of my shoulder...or a unibrow?" At the mention of unibrows, Miranda and Lizzie freak out. Ah, thirteen-year-olds. And can we just stop for a minute please and discuss Lizzie's outfit?

Gah! What a pattern overload! The sad thing is, I remember having shirts like that, but not even I was stupid enough to wear them with pants like those. It's hideous. And you can't see it in this picture, but Lizzie has one of those inflatable backpack things that used to be cool in 2001. My God, I can't believe that was only eight years ago.

At home, Lizzie tells her parents about the career aptitude test, and Jo reveals that she got 'rock diva' as a result. What sort of test actually tells kids they're going to be rock diva? It's a wonder Jo made the transition from rockstar-wannabe to housewife without her self-esteem being ripped to shreds. Oh, and we get one of those cool little fantasy-type interlude things showing Jo posing in her best 80s garb. I never really understood where those fantasy things came from (are they in Lizzie's mind? 'Cause they happen when she's not around), but I like them. And I can promise you more to come later.

Jo tells us that Sam's test said he had "untapped mechanical ability." You and me both, brother. Matt comes to the table and starts the more awesome of the two storylines in this episode, announcing that he now wants to be called M-Dogg. Hee! He tells his parents that there are four Matts in his class, and he just wants to be different.

Sam: "I knew we should've named him Dylan."
Matt: "There are seven Dylans."

Hee! The actor playing Matt (Jake Thomas) has comedic timing beyond his years, that's for sure. Lizzie laughs at this suggestion, and her parents tell her off. Which is kind-of harsh, really. Her little brother just came to the table and announced that his new name was M-Dogg; what else would you do? Lizzie's kind-of cool in this scene, and she makes smart comments about everything that comes out of Matt's mouth. And her parents yell at her every time. She even suggests that he goes with an Indian name, and says, "How about Falls Off His Razor, or Still Wets The Bed?" Jo and Sam? Not happy. God, they would hate having me as a daughter. That was pretty much how every family dinner went for Team Lorelai -- my little brother would tell us about his day, and I'd snark the living daylights out of it. It was fun. And don't even get me started on the crappy parenting being seen in this particular exchange. They yell at Lizzie for (rightfully) paying out Matt's stupid name idea, and yet they give Matt the go-ahead to be call himself M-Dogg and act like a rapper? Yuh-huh, okay, let's see how well that works out.

At school the next day, Lizzie is amped to get to science class, because she wants to know how she did on her last assignment. Gordo is less enthused, because he knows he's getting a B. Miranda doesn't care either way, because Miranda has very little to do in this episode. Which sucks, because even though I never realised it when I was younger, Miranda's actually really awesome. Anyway, they get to science, and Lizzie's paper (titled 'Our Friend The Dolphin', for those of you playing at home) gets a B-plus. Gordo's gets a B. Because Miranda is absolutely pointless in this episode, we don't even get to see what she got. Harsh, writers. Lizzie is all sorts of outraged that Gordo's brilliant paper only got a B, because it's fantastic. Gordo makes a throwaway remark about how he left out everything about the Coreolis effect 'cause he knew he was going to get a B and didn't want to do extra work, a remark that we just know is going to become important later.

The next morning, Matt comes downstairs dressed like...well, like this:

Jo has a fit and tells him to go upstairs and change into something less "Barnham and Bailey." Matt turns to her and says, "Can I at least wear my do-rag?" which I find really, really funny for no apparent reason. (Jo calls it a don't-rag, which is perhaps even funnier.) Lizzie's actually rather restrained today, considering her kid brother is taking his fashion cues from Vanilla Ice. I guess that scolding by the parents last night really got to her. Lizzie's can be hella lame when she wants to be.

Sam comes in, and says he found an M-DOGG vanity plate attached to the back of Matt's bicycle. How in God's name did he manage to find a vanity plate with M-DOGG on it in the first place? Who sells those? Is it a common name? How common? 'Bort' common? So many questions and no answers. Jo and Sam admit that they're in way over their heads. Um, guys? You're not. Just tell Matt that his name's Matt. Rule the iron fist every once in a while. It's like every TV mother and father went to the Full House school of parenting, where they just let their kid do whatever they want, and hope that they learn a lesson at the end of the twenty-two minute episode.

Science class again. So much science, I wonder how these kids have time to study anything else. Mr. Pettus gives the kids their next assignment -- the brain. That's it. How oddly vague for a school assignment. He makes a lame joke about signing up for a brain-swap experiment, which stupid brown-noser goody two-shoes Lizzie giggles at. Jeez, Lizzie, why don't you just have your lips sewn to his butt, huh? Would that be easier for you? Yeah, I thought so.

The kids also get the results of their career aptitude test. Would you like to see what they got, along with screencaps from the corresponding fantasy sequence? I'll bet you do.

Miranda: navy seal

Lizzie: cosmetologist

Gordo: blackjack dealer

Now would usually be the time that I'd go on and on about how unbelievable it is that any test would actually give kids such bizarre and uninspiring results, but I'll just refer you to my 'quick story' at the start of the post, and I'm sure you'll support my decision not to cast stones in my glass house.

On the phone that night, Gordo is overly devastated about his result, and Miranda is refusing to become a navy seal. Don't these kids get that it isn't compulsory for them to actually stick with those careers? Miranda says she's not becoming a navy seal because she doesn't want to get her hair wet. I'd snark this if I didn't agree with her wholeheartedly. But I do. So I won't. Gordo is freaking out about becoming a blackjack dealer. Gordo, take a pill. It's just a guide. Although how they managed to get 'blackjack dealer' from what Gordo wrote on his test is beyond me. I get that Lizzie's into beauty and that could've translated into cosmetologist, but what questions did they ask that resulted in 'blackjack dealer'? Weird.

Oh, and Gordo calls Miranda and Lizzie, "Monica and Rachel." What a hip pop-culture reference. Me likes it a lot. Of course, I did spend the rest of the episode trying to work out which one he thought was Monica and which one he thought was Rachel, though. (In case you're interested, I ended up with Miranda being Monica, because they have the same colour hair and they're both awesome, and Lizzie being Rachel, because they're both airheads.)

Lizzie is in the kitchen finishing off her brain project. Which is just a poster with a labelled drawing of the brain on it entitled 'Our Friend The Brain'. Sorry, but I don't buy that as a proper assignment for a thirteen-year-old. If I was Mr. Pettus, I'd fail that shit. In the lounge room, Jo and Sam have caved and started calling Matt M-Dogg. He's all, "what up with that?" and Jo and Sam say that they've decided to respect Matt's long as Matt calls Jo Mew-Mew and Sam Dee-Dee. Apparently he used to call them that when he was younger and couldn't say Mom and Dad. How are Mew-Mew and Dee-Dee even close to Mom and Dad? Evidently Matt was an extremely slow learner. Matt's not happy about this new turn of events.

Gordo calls Lizzie and tells her that he just finished his assignment, and it's the best thing he's ever done. When he asks what that means to her, she actually says, "Uh...nothing?" Rude, Lizzie. It means your friend worked his arse off and you need to give him some praise, you selfish cow. Gordo asks her if she'll switch projects with him, because he wants his ridiculously win project to get the grade it deserves instead of a stinky old B. Lizzie isn't sure about this, especially when Gordo suggests that she "may want to bring in a 12-volt battery and any insulated wiring you have lying around the house." Hee! Gordo rules. In this scene, we get a good look at Lizzie's bedroom, and who didn't want Lizzie's room growing up? She had a pink phone, cool fairy lights and a double bed. I sure as hell didn't have any of that shit when I was thirteen. All I had was a Heath Ledger poster and some glow-in-the-dark fairy stickers.

The next day at school, Gordo comes up to Lizzie and Miranda, asking Lizzie again to please please pretty please with a cherry on top swap assignments with him. (Not quite in those words.) Lizzie finally relents. Why she didn't do that before is beyond me. Obviously this little switcheroo is going to work in her favour. Gordo takes the girls to the janitor's closet, where he's storing his project -- a giant model of the brain. Each lobe lights up when you press the corresponding switch, but Gordo warns Lizzie not to turn on all the lobes at once. Lizzie asks what'll happen if she does. Gordo's like, "I don't know, but it can't be good." Gordo, you really are the smart one, aren't you? Miranda's like, "Do you really think Mr. Pettus is going to believe that Lizzie made this?" Thank you, Miranda! A little common sense! If this episode has taught us anything, it's that Lizzie is borderline retarded and incapable of doing anything right. I'm glad someone other than me gets that.

A week or so passes, and our three protagonists are sitting in science class yet again. Mr. Pettus is handing back their assignments. Gordo (who handed in Lizzie's weak-arse brain poster) gets a C. Really, a C?? Is this remedial science or something? Lizzie's all shocked that her poster got such a low mark. Lizzie's going to get a rude awakening when she gets to high school.

Mr. Pettus comes up to Lizzie and congratulates her on her brilliant assignment. Gordo? Flips. The fuck. Out. He reclaims his brain (hey, that kinda rhymes) and starts pressing all the buttons while ranting to Mr. Pettus about how he's getting screwed over in this class. You know what? It's so awesome, I think I'm going to share the whole thing with you.

Gordo: "While everyone else was at the water park trading Beanie Babies, I was
slaving away like Igor! And I can prove it. If you touch this button, the
temporal lobe lights up. See, the temporal lobe controls your sense of hearing.
I have great hearing. I know this, because I'm the only one in this class who
hears your lectures. And this one turns on the occipital lobe. The occipital
lobe controls your sense of sight. Because of this lobe, you saw someone else's
name on my project and gave away my A-plus to Madge the cosmetologist over

Hee! Anyone who refers to Lizzie as Madge the cosmetologist gets my vote. But wait, there's more.

Gordo: "And this area is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe controls higher
intellectual functions and reasoning. For example, right now my frontal lobe is
telling me that I'm getting the shaft in this class, that I'm not getting the
grades I deserve! It's telling me that the man is trying to keep me down and
that everyone is against me!"

Go Gordo! The dude's regular Dr. Cox. But uh-oh -- he's turned on a whole bunch of lobes at once! The entire thing explodes, coating Lizzie, Gordo and Mr. Pettus with a whole lot of grey goo. Ew. Mr. Pettus angrily dismisses the rest of the class, and warns Lizzie that they'll talk about her plagiarism later. Yeah, suck it, McGuire! It's a bit weird that Gordo doesn't take this time to point out that it wasn't Lizzie's idea, but okay. (He does later.)

Gordo and Mr. Pettus have a heart-to-heart about what's troubling poor old Gordo. Only Mr. Pettus calls him Gorda, and Gordo awesomely says, "It's Gordo. Gorda's the big girl in ESL." Hee! Mr. Pettus tells Gordo that the only reason he's been giving him Bs is because he doesn't want him coasting through the year. He knows he can do better, and he's trying to get him to work harder and achieve the elusive A. Wow, that backfired completely, huh? I'm actually in two minds about this idea. I understand the method behind the madness, but still, an A's an A, you know? You can't give an A-grade paper a B just because you think the kid can do better...can you? That's not how it worked at my school. I coasted through high school doing as little as I could get away with (often less), and I turned out semi-okay.

Gordo says it doesn't matter anyway, because he's only going to be a blackjack dealer. What the fuck, Gordo? If you're so smart, how come you don't realise that you don't have to be a blackjack dealer! Mr. Pettus tells Gordo that when he took the career aptitude test, it told him he was going to be a rodeo clown. Again, this is just screaming, "Snark me! Snark the test that tells kids they're going to be blackjack dealers and rodeo clowns!" but I really don't want one of those stones I cast to break my pretty glass house. Mr. Pettus tells Gordo that his brain assignment is getting an A-plus, despite the whole explosion finale. Yay for nicely wrapped-up endings.

Outside, Miranda and Lizzie are trying to listen in. They decide it'll be a good idea to listen through the half-open window above the door, so Lizzie has to stand on Miranda's shoulders. There's lots of falling over. The Three Stooges would be so proud.

Oh, and I just realised -- Lizzie's wearing the same disgusting outfit from the start of the episode! Headband and all! And so's Miranda! Okay, that's just lazy. The costume department couldn't even change their outfits? I hate little details like this. Apparently out of the three of them, only Gordo isn't an outfit-repeater. He comes out of the classroom and tells the girls that he can probably end up with an A in science, and he's learned his lesson. Or something. I hate these moral-y bits of shows. It's like, just entertain me already! I don't want to learn anything!

Then Gordo (finally!) tells the girls that the career aptitude test is just a guideline, and they don't actually have to follow it if they don't want to. Miranda still doesn't get it. Miranda, I'm so disappointed in you. Lizzie goes on some pointless spiel and compares taking the careers test to trying on midriff-bearing T-shirts at the mall. She completely misses the point, but at this stage, I'm surprise Lizzie McGuire is able to form complete sentences.

Back at home, Matt is getting sick of calling his parents Dee-Dee and Mew-Mew. I wonder why. He makes a deal with them -- he'll go back to being just Matt if he can call them Mom and Dad again. A-ha, the taste-of-your-own-medicine routine worked! You know what else would've worked, Jo and Sam? Actually having some authority and not letting your kid run wild in the first place. That works too. Just keep it in mind for next time, that's all I'm saying.

Speaking of, next time on ABC Not-Just-For-Kids -- Bananas in Pyjamas. Oh, the fun we had with those guys!


  1. I never did watch Lizzie McGuire. I was a bit too old for it when it started. I've always kind of liked Hillary Duff though. She could just as easily have turned into a coked out freak like Lindsay Lohan, but she totally didn't, so she's okay in my book. I think she might have had a sister who I hated though.

  2. Haha, this is GOLD! Very entertaining. I think I actually saw this episode too. I mostly remember the M-Dogg stuff...lame. How bout just saying no to your child, Jo and Sam?

    The stuff about Gordo turning out icky at the start of the recap was hilarious.

    And yeah, Lizzie is kind of a bitch when you analyse her. Just like Lizzie from another series I know!

  3. This totally inspired me to look for Lizzie McGuire videos on YouTube - I used to love this show! Some of their earlier episodes, such as this one, are pretty rubbish but some of them are cute :) Miranda is definitely one of the best characters and I love how dense Ethan is. Thanks for recapping this!