(Sorry for the incessant recapping of late. But I've found that it's true what they say -- you can't keep
bitchness creativity down. I'll stop soon, I swear!)
This FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC (deliberate caps lock, bold and italics) episode is based on the classic SVH book Jessica Against Bruce, the recap of which can be found here. Basically, the awesome-upon-awesome Bruce Patman creates an institution that goes around playing pranks on people long before Ashton Kutcher thought to do it. Oh, and copying SVH, Kutch? That's the ultimate Punking.
And exciting news, folks...SVH TV has its very first GUEST STAR! (!!!!!!!) I know! I'm just as excited as you.
Scene one -- it's a beautiful day in Sweet Valley. Like it wouldn't be. Chrome Dome Cooper goes out to the parking lot to what I can only assume is his most prized possession -- his car. Now I don't know about you, but I always imagined Chrome Dome looking like that teacher who's a dick to Marty in Back to the Future, so I'm kinda disappointed. Just as Chrome Dome gets to his car, a bag of jello (we call it jelly in Australia, but I'm willing to be faithful to the original literature) hanging from the above tree explodes and dumps it contents all over the hood of the car. Um, zing? I guess being able to make that much jello all at once does sort-of show some commitment. (Or that you have a really big fridge.)
Lila and Jessica are watching this little show, and immediately know that Club X is behind it. What's Club X, I'm sure you at home are wondering. We need some serious exposition, ladies, so why don't you conveniently discuss everything you know about this secret society as we listen in? Thanks. Apparently Club X is gang of rebel pranksters who've been going around Sweet Valley making all sorts of mischief. Jessica thinks it must be Bruce and the gang of boys who are congratulating each other at his locker. Gee, I wonder why she'd think that. Maybe because Bruce is making it SO DAMN OBVIOUS! Where's the mystery, boys?
Jessica goes up to Bruce and the gang and tells them she wants in. Bruce maintains his innocence, but says that he's heard Club X doesn't let girls join. Bruce, you can't bluff for shit. Really, I'm disappointed in you. Jessica says, "I guess that explains why you're not in it." And now he's getting burned by Jessica Wakefield? Bruce is quickly losing my respect. Personally, I don't think it's possible that this group of boys is Club X, because Manny's there, and who in their right mind would let fucking Manny be part of their secret society? Next thing you know, they'll be signing up Patty.
Obligatory scene at the Moon Beach. Winston's throwing himself a pity party, and Elizabeth asks what the fuck's up. (I wish she had said 'fuck'. It might've made this scene watchable.) Winston's like, "Todd was supposed to drive me somewhere, but he bailed to play basketball or some shit." This leads to Liz and Winston complaining about how Todd has been challenging everyone (who's stupid enough to let him talk to them) to one-on-one games. For money. Which I do believe is gambling, and at their age is totally illegal. Todd is such the rebel. Apparently, though, Liz and Winston think this new Todd is kind-of egocentric and unbearable. Super, Liz, now you know how EVERYONE IN THE WORLD feels about you. How do you like them apples, huh? Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought, bitch!
The next day, Jessica is going on about Club X again. Lila thinks it's cool she wants to join. Liz, predictably, thinks it's a bad idea. Beat it, Liz, no one cares. Jessica gets a note in her locker from Club X, asking her to go to some abandoned warehouse late at night, and Jess is all excited-like. She's looking forward to getting up to some Club X shenanigans. I don't think I need to point out that Jessica has never needed an excuse before to be an insane schemer, as this is pretty much common knowledge. But good on J. Wakefield for standing up in the name of feminism, I say. It's a refreshing break from most episodes, where she actively shits all over everything it's about while simultaneously setting the cause back sixty years. Of course, she probably still hates fatties and uggos. (That kind of drastic personality change only ever happens following coma-inducing motorcycle accidents.)
Moon Beach again. Todd walks in all sweaty from beating some guy at basketball. Winston confronts him, like, "Dude, why are you being such an assclown?" and Todd's all, "I'm allowed to be 'cause I'm good at sports." Which, if I remember correctly, was pretty much the entire message of the books, but whatev. Todd reveals that the reason he's started all this basketball-for-pay business is to earn enough money to take Liz white-water rafting. Hmm, would we call Liz the white-water rafting type? That feels decidedly out-of-the-blue, but okay. Todd pretty much lets Winston and anyone who'll listen know that he's Sweet Valley's answer to Kurt Rambis, and I find myself (shudder) agreeing with Liz. Todd, you're already a rageaholic and a dumb shit, don't add 'douchebag' to that list now.
Liz, meanwhile, is waiting outside the Sweet Valley Charity Centre (could they be any more vague?), when former L.A. Lakers star Kurt Rambis exits. Ha HA! That's why I described Todd as the Sweet Valley Kurt Rambis before, not because I didn't know the names of any current basketball players! I made my own foreshadowing! And it was fun! Now I know why the ghostwriters do this so often! Kurt Rambis signs an autograph for a little girl, which is really for her dad (hee!), and then goes over to Liz, because apparently he knows her. Of course he does. Why am I surprised? Liz explains that Todd was supposed to pick her up, but he flaked again in favour of another one of his basketball games. Kurt's like, "Damn, bitch, that's harsh," and then offers her a lift home. I just can't believe Kurt Rambis lives in Sweet Valley, mainly because he's freakishly tall and everyone knows Sweet Valley ain't all that accepting of those who aren't blonde, tanned and size-six. I guess it must be the good-at-sports thing that saves him from getting mocked something fierce every time he walks down the street.
Jessica enters the abandoned warehouse, and is immediately accosted by a bunch of cloak-wearing dudes in presidents' masks. Um, yeah. Jessica says, "Oogy-boogy, I'm sooo scared," which is pretty much my reaction (except for that 'oogy-boogy' shit) and rips the Richard Nixon mask off one of the boys. Shocker, it's Bruce. I'd just like to point out that since Bruce is Club X's leader, he probably got first choice of the masks, which means he chose to be Nixon. Hmm. I think at this stage, Bruce, you're at negative two on my Awesomeness Scale. Plus, what the hell was their plan anyway? They just looked like they were standing there waiting for Jessica to take off their masks. (Their arms are restricted by their cloaks.) Negative three now, Brucie, and sliding. Bruce tells Jessica that if she wants to play with the big boys, she has to complete a dare. Jessica agrees.
Oh, in case you're wondering who the other members of Club X are, it's pretty much Manny and a bunch of extras. And a token black guy, who doesn't get to talk, because we already have one token black person in Sweet Valley with a speaking role. (And she's kind-of shit.) Wait, hold on...that token black guy is Karl from the Halloween episode! Which means that not only does Sweet Valley have more than one black kid, we just got hit by some spectacular sneak-attack continuity! I am so very impressed right now, I can't even tell you.
The next day, Bruce tells Jessica her dare. What, did he keep her in suspense all night? That's kinda win, so Bruce gets to climb up a rung on the Awesomeness Scale. (Although if he's climbing up a rung, it's somehow turned into an Awesomeness Ladder...and it seems I'd rather snark my own writing than go back and edit anything. Ground-breaking or lazy? You decide.) Jess's dare? She has to steal a car from the SVH parking lot. Jessica leans in close to Bruce and tells him it'll be easy, discreetly slipping a hand into his jacket pocket and pulling out his keys. While the boys are distracted by Chrome Dome walking past, Jessica unlocks 1bruce1 and takes off. Bruce yells, "Hey, that's a new clutch!", and Karl actually gets a line and says, "Patman, burned at his own game!" Only he pronounces it like it rhymes with Batman, while I always assumed it was pronounced 'Pat-mun'. Everyone else calls him that. I suppose this is Sweet Valley, where black kids are either overtly violent or uneducated. Oprah would shit a brick if she knew. And as if that lapse in awesomeness wasn't enough, Bruce gets totally humiliated by a Wakefield (again) in these shorts:
Oh, and at some point (it may have been earlier; I'm taking some liberties on the timeline today), Elizabeth introduces Winston to her good friend Kurt Rambis. Winston is a fan, and just in case there are any viewers out there who aren't sure who Kurt Rambis is, he makes sure he reminds everyone that Kurt won four world championships. Woot for subtlety, SVH writers. This scene is barely noteworthy, except I can't help but notice a resemblance of sorts between Winston and Kurt.
The next day at Club X HQ (i.e. that scummy warehouse), Bruce initiates Jessica as an official member. He shows her their system of deciding who does what dare -- a giant wheel. (See top for corresponding screencap.) Um, boys? That's one girly wheel. Anyway, they spin the wheel and it lands on Jessica's name. Bruce explains that the school has invested in a brand-new water fountain, and Chrome Dome's got some big huge unveiling ceremony conveniently set up for tomorrow. Jessica has to put detergent in the fountain so the whole thing bubbles. Lame-ass dare, Bruce, but you don't lose any points because it would look pretty cool. And for all you pointless trivia-aholics out there, I've taken a good look at the wheel and come up with the complete list of Club X members -- Jessica, Bruce, Manny, Karl, Gil, Jeff, Rob and Steve. (As in, Steve Wakefield? Because that would clock up a nine on the Awesomeness Scale.) But seriously, no Ronnie Edwards? No Charlie Cashman? That's bullshit with a capital FAIL, Executive Producer Francine, and you know it.
At the Moon Beach, Whizzer Wilkins blows Winston and Liz off again. Jeez, Todd, I think I liked it better when you were just psychotic. Wanker Todd is a world of annoying. I'm actually siding with Liz and Winston on this one, and that doesn't make me happy at all. Winston wishes there was something they could do to deflate Todd's ego a little bit. Then Liz remember that they haven't Hatched A Plan in this episode yet, and she gets her idea eyes. Or maybe they're her bedroom eyes; I can't tell.
Back at SVH, Jessica is dressed like a janitor and loitering around the new fountain. She gets out a bottle of detergent and starts making good with the dare. But as if Bruce Patman could be beaten that easily, Jessica! At that exact moment, inside the school, Bruce is telling Chrome Dome how wonderful he thinks the new fountain is, and what a bang-up job the female janitor is doing on its presentation. Chrome Dome's all, "Gee thanks, Bruce, but -- WHAA? We don't have a female janitor! I must go investigate this immediately." But for all his hard work, Bruce goes nowhere on the Awesomeness Scale, because he does his random act of awesomeness dressed like THIS:
Aaarrghh! Sweet fancy Moses! I don't even know if I can blame this eyesore on the crazy nineties, because this shit is bad. FOR SHAME, BRUCE! Anyway, Chrome Dome sees this mystery female janitor and starts running after her. Jessica turns on the sprinklers, because for some reason that helps her get away quicker. Yeah, I don't know. She runs through the school hallway, deliberately leaving a trail of yellow detergent behind her. Whatever for? Why, to make Chrome Dome slip and fall over, of course! Because this is a cartoon. Before he can get back up, Jessica has just enough time to dump her jumpsuit. She innocently walks back down the hall (whatever happened to leaving the scene of the crime? Why wasn't that working?) and mutters something to Chrome Dome about how she's "off to the library." Ohh, Jess. You probably would've gotten away with it, too, and then you say that. Chrome Dome looks back in shock, and realises that her sneakers have all sorts of foamy bubble shit on them. (Detergent + sprinkler water = foamy bubble shit.) Bitch gets busted.
Back to the Todd storyline now. Todd's bragging to Winston about his b-balling skillz (do the kids still call it b-ball? I'm not hip to the lingo), and Winston grabs the basketball Todd's holding and challenges him to a game. I'd be laughing out loud right about now if I hadn't seen this plan coming from a mile away. Winston bets Todd all of his earnings and an extra fifty bucks that he can beat Da King at his own game. Todd's like, "Done, sucka!" Winston throws the ball to Todd, presumably as hard as he can. Whoah, calm down now, Egbert -- it seems Todd's patented rage blackouts are contagious. Todd laughs at the force of Winston's throw patronisingly. Okay, Todd is so asking for it. I'm actually really going to enjoy watching Liz and Winston feed him a nice cold dish of revenge soup. On a side note, now seems like as good a time as any to point out that when I read the books, I liked Todd. I really did. Not as much as, say, my absolute idol Lila (my very first Hotmail address was lila_sweetvalley. True story), but Whizzer wasn't exactly on my hate list. (Liz was.) I mean, he was a jock and a decent boyfriend who obviously didn't mind that his girl wouldn't put out. He cared about stuff, like whales and...um, you know, other stuff. God, what happened to you, Todd?! You're not even ON the Awesomeness Scale now!
It's night. Jessica's by herself at the warehouse. That doesn't seem like the best idea to me, especially considering the Wakefields' history of getting caught up with rapists/kidnappers/murderers/vampires/we
Bruce and the gang arrive (ohh, Jess is there for a meeting. I get it now!) and Bruce announces the next dare -- whomsoever the wheel of misfortune chooses as its victim will parachute into the obligatory SVH 'big game' from an airplane with a banner that reads 'Club X Rules'. Finally, a half-decent dare! Woot! Bruce is not happy when, instead of Jessica's name, it lands on his own. 'Cause Jessica moved the magnet, yo! Beaten at your own game again, Brucie. And you're still wearing your red Bruceshorts; how are you the coolest guy in school?
By the next day, Bruce has done an attitude 180 on the jumping-out-of-a-plane thing. He now thinks it's gonna be all-time, that he'll be legendary. He thanks Jessica for the opportunity, because he so knows that she messed around with his magnet thingie. There's no foolin' the Patman. Then he awesomely says to the gang, "To my plane!" which is just about the coolest thing I've ever heard anyone say in this show. That is exactly something Bruce Patman would say! He sounds like a superhero. (Batman, perhaps? Maybe that was a Freudian slip from Karl before. Just putting it out there.) Jessica says she'll catch up to them, but first she wants to call and confirm that his flight's ready to go. Bruce actually believes her. Really, Bruce? After I just said there's no foolin' you? You're making an idiot of both of us now. Jessica goes over to a payphone (snigger) and calls the flight company to change the co-ordinates of Bruce's dive. It's Scheming Jessica, back with a vengeance! This episode rocks the party.
Today is also Game Day for Todd and Winston. Just as they begin, Winston takes a dive like an Italian soccer player in the '06 World Cup semis. (Socceroos fans, can I get an amen?) He says his ankle's too hurt for him to take part in the game (lie, filthy lie!), and Todd thinks this means he wins. No, Todd, that's not exactly what these two have in mind. Liz says, "That's not fair, he should at least get a replacement!" Todd agrees, then foolishly says he'll challenge anyone. Words he may live to regret...because here comes Kurt Rambis, ready to take Winston's place! Todd's reaction is freakin' priceless.
Not surprisingly, Todd gets owned. It's hillarious. After the game, Kurt Rambis (aka The Destroyer) tells Todd that he's actually pretty good, and not to give up on his hoop dreams. Um, no, dude. The plan was to humiliate Todd, not give him a boost. You win four world championships but you can't keep up with the plot of an SVH episode? Fail, Rambis. Todd goes over to Winston and Liz, handing over the prizemoney and tucking in to his slice of humble pie. Yeah, eat it, Todd! On all fours, like the dog you are! Liz hands the cash back and says, "It was never about the money." It was about showing Todd what a bad friend he was being. Okay, while I do understand the gist of the plan (I'm not Kurt Rambis, after all), I don't get how it showed Todd what a bad friend he was being. It'd be more accurate to say that it showed Todd what bad friends Liz and Winston are. They just orchestrated his public humiliation at the hands of Kurt Rambis! The guy absolutely wiped the floor with Todd's scawny ass, and they set that up all because he forgot to drive them somewhere? Drive yourselves, fools! I'm definitely back off the Liz bandwagon. Which makes what's coming up even sweeter -- Todd tells Liz that the only reason he started playing these street games was to earn enough money to take her on a rafting trip. Instead of saying, "Oh Todd, that would've been nice but too bad I'm such a heinous scheming monster who'll die alone" (too harsh?) she just says the "that would've been nice part". Todd says he's going give the money he earned to charity and then he's going to get a part-time job instead of, uh, hustling people. Then they make out. It's a bit gross.
To the big game! The big football game, not the big Todd/Winston/Kurt Rambis basketball game. I know it's confusing, but this is the franchise that gave the Wakefields seventeen junior proms. Deal with it. Manny is looking for Bruce through his binoculars (*cough*Loser!*cough*), but can't see him anywhere. Jessica says, "I told you he'd chicken out," but we the viewers know better. Bruce actually does jump out of the plane with the Club X Rules banner. He's having an absolute blast, too, thinking about how he's going to make the six o'clock news and how he'll be in the papers tomorrow morning. Which kinda means the whole him-being-Club-X-president secret will be out, doesn't it? Ugh, whatever, we're too far into this plot for us to backpedal -- Bruce just jumped out of a freakin' plane, for God's sakes!
Suddenly, Bruce notices that he can't see the football field. Ruh-roh! He lands in Chrome Dome Cooper's convertible, just as Chrome Dome is getting out. Um, what? I love that Jessica managed to give the pilot the exact co-ordinates to make Bruce fall into the backseat of a car that could've been parked anywhere for all she knew. Gee, that's luck. But since Todd just finished playing one-on-one with Kurt bloody Rambis, I'm not going to start pointing out how fabulously ludicrous this entire episode is. I'll just say this, though -- where exactly is Sweet Valley High's football field located if Bruce couldn't even see it two minutes before landing just out the front of the school? Chrome Dome sees the Club X Rules banner, and tells Bruce that he's in big trouble. Freeze-frame and roll credits on Bruce looking disappointed. Oh, Bruce. Foiled again! This would never have happened to Batman.
Man, this episode was great. Couldn't tell you why, though. We've had contrived plots, lack of Lila, Bruceshorts out the wazoo...yet at the end of the twenty-two minutes, I didn't feel like topping myself. (Which is my usual SVH TV reaction.) And then of course there's the moral of the story, kids, which is that if you wear butt-fugly shorts to school, it's going to end with you parachuting into your principal's car and getting shitloads of detention. And also, don't treat your friends like dirt, because I guarantee you that at least one of them knows Kurt Rambis and will convince him to publicly humiliate you. God, I love Sweet Valley.