Why is Porkchop dressed like this?
Because Doug is working on his sculpture for the Tri-County Art Festival.
Doug is easily distracted from his work when his mom gets the mail. I assume he hates sculpting because he is really excited about the mail. Theda completely ignores him and gives Porkchop his mail, because of course that happened.
Dogs send each other mail all the time. Doug asks his mom if there was any mail for him, as we all did when we were dumb kids that thought mail was exciting even if it wasn't our birthday. She hands him an envelope, saying he can open it if he wants. It's just junk mail.
You are already a semi-finalist in the Ponzi Publishing Sweepstakes, making you eligible to win...
Apparently Ponzi Publishing has more money than there could ever actually be, and they're just giving it away. Doug thinks he's going to be a zillionaire. I know what you're thinking too; "Ponzi!?"
Don't worry. This is Peter P. Ponzi, not that Charles Ponzi fellow everyone likes talking about so much. I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Look, all you have to do to win this sweepstakes is finish this puzzle and send it in.
What's the harm in that? Theda tries to get him to realize what his chances of winning are but he dismisses it because he's almost finished the puzzle. He calls the puzzle really hard and asks, "how many people do you think can figure this stuff out?" With that, Doug has a fantasy of the people at Ponzi Publishing.
It's just two really old men groaning about how no one has been able to finish the puzzle in the 42 years they've run the sweepstakes. One of them wants to quit the contest but the other refuses and then finds Doug's entry. Finally, they have a winner and they start dancing around to celebrate. It's hard to believe a sane person would think a simple word jumble would be so difficult that no one was able to crack it in 42 years, and then in an afternoon an eleven year old kid did it.
So Doug mails in the puzzle and gets back to work on his sculpture. Potential zillionaires have to do something to pass the time. At the end of the week, Doug finally gets a letter from Ponzi Publishing.
Pretty badass! He made it to the SUPER SEMI FINALS!!!!!!!!! The nine exclamation points are proof that this is a legitimate contest. This Ponzi Publishing really has their shit together. Doug now has to do another puzzle and send in a $25 fee, because that's how real contests work.
Unfortunately, Doug doesn't have $25. He quickly runs to his mom to ask her for the money. She says $25 is a lot of money, and again tries to hint at the fact that it's a scam, saying, "sometimes those contests aren't what they seem to be." A little dejected, Doug decides to see if he can do the puzzle anyway. "For fun."
Doug says this puzzle is even harder than the first. Why is Doug so fucking stupid in this episode? Every now and then he just encounters a situation that turns him into a complete idiot that can't be helped. He's way too proud of himself when he finishes the puzzle, but says it was fun while it lasted and gets back to work on the sculpture. He doesn't have $25. He can't compete in the super semi-finals. He starts chiseling away on the sculpture, but he's too distracted. He keeps looking back at the puzzle until he has a fantasy.
In this fantasy, this giant ship plows across the land and drops anchor in front of Doug's house. The man tells Doug it's his ship, and after 11.5 years, it's finally come in. Money is flying out of the containers on the ship the entire time. When you have all the money in the world, it doesn't matter if the wind is constantly carrying it away. The man on the ship asks Doug if he sent in his $25 fee. When Doug says he didn't, they immediately pull up the anchor and leave. This seems like a fantasy that might help Doug come back to reality, but it isn't. It doesn't make him question the idea that someone would need $25 to give him all the money that's ever been printed or ever will be printed. Instead, it makes him determined to get that $25.
After the fantasy, Doug is counting his change and finds he doesn't have enough. He asks Porkchop to loan him the remaining $9.74. Naturally, Porkchop agrees and reaches into his back pocket to get out his wallet.
Since Porkchop isn't wearing pants, it's a bit unsettling to think about where he's keeping that wallet. Also, Porkchop is a dog and doesn't have any money. When he opens his wallet, a fly flies out. If your dog has a wallet, and you expect it to have money, and you actually ask to borrow that money (instead of just saying, "why does this dog have money," and taking the money), then you are definitely an insane person. After the crazy option, Doug tries to bring Skeeter in on the deal.
Skeeter is reluctant at first. Doug promises to split the winnings with him. Half of a zillion dollars is some other made up number! Probably a jillion dollars! Is zillion more or less than jillion? Whatever. You can have half of it all, Skeeter! Skeeter says he read somewhere that you have a better chance of being kidnapped by aliens than winning one of those things. Doug pulls out the original letter with the impossible winnings on it and hypnotizes Skeeter into helping him out. Unfortunately, after counting up Skeeter's money, they are still $2.87 short. Skeeter is getting half of all the money ever for contributing $6.87. It's a good deal, but they still need more money.
Doug starts scouring the house looking for loose change. He finds some under the couch, some in the kitchen, and two pennies in his penny loafers he never wears. During his search, Judy reminds him he's supposed to enter his sculpture in the art festival today, but he says he doesn't have time for that.
He's finished the house and has moved on to the yard with a metal detector. He only needs 5 cents and the metal detector is starting to go off.
Worried that the ants might take the nickel into their vast underground lair, Doug dives at them, forcing them to drop the nickel and flee. Because all of this is normal ant behavior. Those ants need that money to buy the queen a foot bath.
The next few days, Doug and Skeeter do nothing but wait for the mailman. One day, Patti, Beebe, and Chalky ride up and invite them to go to the Honkerburger. Doug says they are "kinda short on cash." Skeeter says, "yeah man, we're broke."
Beebe says, "broke? Broke? What is 'broke'?"
This is a classic moment of total lunacy. Someone asked me what episode this happened in a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't remember. I hadn't watched this one since I was a kid. How does Beebe not know what this means? This can't be the first time she's heard this colloquialism. She may be rich, but in her group of friends she's the only one that is rich. This can't be the first time her friends haven't had the cash to do something. Also, she can't figure it out from the context? Doug just said they had no money and in agreeing with him, Skeeter said they're broke. Beebe is stupid. Chalky says they'll explain what "broke" is on the way and they leave.
Right after they leave, the mailman comes. Doug and Skeeter rush to open the latest letter from Ponzi Publishing. It congratulates Doug for reaching the Grand Super Bonus Finals. Skeeter is excited that they are finalists, but Doug points out they want $50 this time. Time to give up, right? You had to steal a nickel from ants and your dog has no money. Where are you going to get $50? Better to just realize it's a scam now than to go through the trouble of losing more money...
Nah, fuck that. What's $50 when you will most likely be winning the totally real amount of one zillion dollars? So they try to sell lemonade for $50 a glass. Skeeter drinks all the soda in the fridge so they can turn in the cans for the five cent deposit. Actually, here's a list of what they did to get money.
These kids are idiots. This is the second time they've come up with the worst money-making schemes. Seriously, though...walk gerbils? What are they even thinking? Deliver soap? What soap? Who is ordering this soap? There are two items at the bottom of the list that aren't crossed off. "Judy" and "savings bond." Doug's grandma gave him the savings bond. It's supposed to be for his college education. So it's Judy then.
And Judy laughs and laughs at the idea. Doug promises to give her half of the winnings and she still says no. She tells him to forget this stupid contest and asks, "wouldn't you rather be an artist? It's so much more...artistic!" Angry, Doug imagines himself as a starving artist, because a zillion dollars has made him forget that he actually does want to be a comic book artist...
Porkchop is playing the piano (because Starving-Artist Doug still isn't hungry enough to eat dog meat) while Doug chisels away at a chunk of stone. The wood stove fizzles out (because Starving-Artist Doug lives in a previous century) and Porkchop gets up to throw his music into it to keep the fire going so they don't freeze to death. Doug stops him, saying it's his turn to burn a masterpiece. He grabs his unfinished sculpture and says, "cursed be the day I ever started on this miserable path," before throwing it into the stove. Out of wood for the stove? Just use this chunk of marble. It'll burn clean and keep you warm. He looks out the window to the casino across the street where he can see Zillionaire Doug playing roulette.
Zillionaire Doug puts a savings bond on the table and says, "50 to win." He wins. It's an easy game.
After the fantasy, Doug is getting the savings bond from his father.
Phil tries to get Doug to realize how stupid he's being without outright saying it. He points out the bond has been accruing interest for 11.5 years, and if he trades it in now he's throwing that away on a gamble. Doug says it's not a gamble because he's a grand super bonus finalist. Phil asks how many people are grand super bonus finalists and Doug says he doesn't know. A couple? Phil thinks Doug sees his point and finally hands over the savings bond, confident his idiot son will do the right thing.
Completely missing Phil's point, Doug rushes to the post office. He has to get there before it closes to mail it today to meet the deadline. The door at the post office is locked so he starts banging on the door until one of the generic worker characters opens up for him. Doug tells him he has to have that letter post-marked today to meet the deadline. The guy says, "oh, one of these? Sure kid!" Then he turns and says, "yo, Hiram, got another Ponzi puzzle."
So generic pink worker guy is Hiram? Anyway, Hiram walks by with that big cart and the other guy put's Doug's Ponzi puzzle in it. Doug asks if all of those envelopes in the cart are for the Ponzi Publishers Sweepstakes and he says they are. They get them every week. Doug says, "but I'm a grand super bonus finalist." They guy replies, "yeah, kid. You and a zillion others." Everyone in Bluffington is falling for this shit. It's sad.
At home, Doug is sitting on the front porch talking to Porkchop about how everyone was right. He never really had a chance. Theda walks over, announces that Doug got a letter, and gives Porkchop and Doug their mail. Porkchop is still getting mail. Doug thanks her and puts the letter down without looking at it. Theda asks if he's going to open it but he says he's sick of mail. Judy tells him to open it and he quickly relents on his "fuck mail" attitude. This letter isn't from Ponzi Publishing. It's from the Tri-County Art Festival. His sculpture "Dog Crossing the Delaware" won third prize. Doug is confused since he didn't even enter the festival and Judy reveals she entered it for him.
Try-county? Try-county? What is "try-county"?
Doug finishes up saying he learned that get-rich-quick schemes are tempting but unreliable. It's better to stick with what you're good at. He never learned that this was simply a scam and he's just a sucker. He still thinks this was a legitimate contest with impossible odds.
As Doug is finishing up this journal entry, a weird thing happens on tv. Porkchop wins the Canine Sweepstakes!
What Canine Sweepstakes? Apparently, that was the piece of mail he just got. He opened it, got excited and ran off while Doug was getting excited about winning third place. Porkchop's prize for this sweepstakes is a zillion bones. Because Doug just had to end on an insane point to prove that sweepstakes do have winners. They aren't just scams. It also explains why Porkchop's wallet was empty. He used all his money on the Canine Sweepstakes.
This episode gives us a little insight into the hands-off approach to parenting Phil and Theda take to raising Doug. Instead of saying, "son, that shit is a scam," and throwing the puzzles away, they let him go through with it so he learns the hard way. He's always learning things the hard way. This method of learning certainly works for some things with kids, but I get the feeling this is all they've ever done with Doug, with the exception of making a kite. That was a straight-forward "this is how you make a kite and anything else is garbage" lesson. Everything else is a "fuck it, let him get burned" lesson.