Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Episode 52, Part 2: Doug's Bad Trip

This episode begins with the Funnie family on a road trip. Doug and Judy are arguing in the back seat.

Theda turns around and yells at them to stop arguing so their father can find the right turnoff. Phil says he knows the right turnoff and insists that he's not lost. As if she didn't hear him, or because she doesn't believe him, she says they should have just stopped and asked for directions. Doug and Judy continue their argument in the back seat, which is about who is to blame for this shitty vacation. When Doug tells her to shut up, Phil turns around and starts to say something but he's interrupted by the blowing horn of a moving truck headed straight at them. Why is he driving so fast, at night, in the rain, in an unfamiliar location? Because he's Phil Funnie, and he's fucking stressed. Anyway...

A day or so earlier, the Funnies are having a family meeting. Phil is pacing the room and sadly tells everyone they won't be able to go to grandma's this year.

They are all shocked and saddened. When asked why, Phil excitedly says it's because they are going to the Great Painted Gorge. They are excited. Doug calls it a real vacation, which I'm sure his grandmother would find insulting. He tells them to go pack, because they're leaving at 8 am the next morning. After a few days of driving, they should be there just in time to see the sunrise over Painted Gorge Falls. He's got the whole day planned out already.

I love lists like this. Without a list of things you plan to do, what are you going to cross off when nothing goes the way you planned? Also, I'm really looking forward to "stargazing with Ranger Bob." Who is this Ranger Bob? I hope he holds Phil's hand while they're stargazing.

The next morning, they pack their luggage on top of the car (Judy's trunk is too heavy for Doug as she has apparently packed nothing but books) and the road trip begins. They immediately start singing "Old McDonald" with too much enthusiasm for anyone anywhere ever. Seriously, fuck that song. Later they are singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" with a lot less enthusiasm and no Judy. Later, while Judy is asleep, Doug and Theda sing "This Old Man" as if they are tired of being tortured by whatever law requires traveling families to sing old repetitive children's songs. Look how defeated Phil is because of these songs.

After "This Old Man," Doug falls asleep while Theda and Phil ride in silence. But soon Doug is awake again and complaining about how boring road trips are. Judy is reading through books so fast you can only assume she's looking forward to running out of things to read so she can join Doug in boredom. Doug asks Phil how much farther they have to drive. After saying they're making good time, he reveals that they have 1500 miles to go. Ridiculous. Why didn't they fly?

Doug starts noticing billboards for a tourist trap called "It." It's 125 miles away. He is fascinated and has a fantasy.

Nope. It's not going to be that good. You will not have to walk into anything but maybe a gas station to get a look at a tourist trap called "It." The fantasy continues to reveal that It is a giant blob monster they initially mistake for a wall.

The blob monster is super friendly.

That would be worth the 125 mile excursion. I guess. I mean...do you get to play a game of rescue Han Solo or is it just the picture?

Doug is excited by his fantasy and begs to see It. Judy calls It a stupid tourist trap and Phil figures the detour would mean they'd miss the sunrise over the falls. Theda says It might be educational and helps convince Phil to head towards It. Why? Maybe she's never taken a road trip and doesn't know shit like It is never educational. Maybe she wants to see It as much as Doug and just knows how to get her way. Either way, It turns out to be a potato.

A recording asks if It is a deadly vampire bat, and then quickly tells you that no, it is just a potato grown by some asshole in some shithole that doesn't matter. "But the resemblance is quite eerie!" What a bunch of shit. At the very least, they should smash the case and burn down the surrounding buildings selling It souvenirs. Instead, Phil crosses a few things off the schedule and they get back on the road.

Everyone is a little pissed. Phil says these man-made tourist traps will never compare to the majesty of nature. Judy calls them lame and slaps Doug on the arm. He says, "can't a guy make a mistake? At least I'll never fall for something like that again." He adjusts his It cap while he's saying this, as if to prove that he's learned absolutely nothing.

Immediately after saying he won't fall for shit like that, he sees a billboard for Bug Ranch, 75 miles away. He immediately has a fantasy.

No, Doug, you don't get to do that until you change your name to Fry and go to Mars.

After the fantasy, he's trying to convince them to go to the bug ranch. Judy says they're not going to go on another one of his inane mystery tours. He reasons that with this one, they at least know what it is. It's a bug ranch. "Tell me, how could it be bad? Huh? How?"

Yep. They went a few hours out of their way, again, to see something that couldn't possibly have been exciting. A bug ranch could only be a place with a lot of bugs, which is literally everywhere on the planet. Everyone is very disappointed. Judy is pissed and calls Doug dimwitted before making a few jokes about the bug ranch. Phil crosses off another item on the itinerary.

Back in the car, Judy is still making jokes and Doug is getting really upset. Theda asks them to stop arguing. Judy asks Doug what their next stop is going to be and he reads a billboard for a place called Blythe Field. Judy yells, "stop," and demands they detour for this field. She says it's the most famous field in all of literature. It's where Blythe composed all of his most famous poems. Phil points out that it's 300 miles out of their way. Judy points out that they saw all the lame shit Doug wanted to see. Theda sees her point and they're off. Doug keeps asking if they're there yet, and Phil keeps crossing things off the list. No more petrified buffalo herd. No more canyon mule ride. Finally, they arrive at the famous Blythe Field.

And there it is. It's just an empty field. She runs out into the field and immediately finds Gloria's Rock. The poet apparently sat there and wrote some poem about Gloria. You know Gloria, right? Doug points out that it's just a big old desert. She completely ignores him and starts pointing out other locations where the poet wrote other poems. No one cares. Phil says they have to go because they've already lost any hope of even spending a whole day at the Painted Gorge. Theda points out that it looks like it's going to rain. Doug calls this field "lame-o central," with the reason that the Bug Ranch at least had t-shirts. I hope that he did not buy one. Anyway, the rain starts and they get in the car and everyone is pissed. After a while, the argument from the beginning of the episode starts happening. Finally, we are going to see the Funnie family killed in a car accident in the middle of nowhere.

Nope. Phil swerves out of the way just in time and comes to a stop on the side of the road. He asks if everyone is okay before trying to pull away, but the car is stuck in the mud. He turns off the car and says, "well, family, that's the end of our trip." I guess they're just going to live there now. He says there was a gas station 10 miles back. He's going to walk there to get someone that can tow them out of the mud. Doug and Judy apologize for their shittiness (finally) and Phil starts walking. Doug gets out of the car and tells him to stay. "Maybe we don't need that tow truck."

Doug counts to two and tells Porkchop to hit it, because of course the dog is behind the wheel of the car, stepping on the gas to do his part to get it out of the mud. After a little struggling, they finally get the car free. After celebrating briefly, the sun starts to rise over the horizon to reveal that they are in fact on the edge of the Painted Gorge. It's beautiful.

Doug says the trip brought his family closer than they had ever been before. Meanwhile, grandma is lonelier than ever.

During the credits, the most amazing version of Pomp and Circumstance ever plays because of Doug Graduates. This version should be used any time this song is played anywhere from now on.

And that's it. Doug's a big fan of the mystery box over the sure thing. At least they didn't tie Porkchop to the back of the car and forget about him. Letting him drive, even if it was just out of a mud hole, was crazy. I can only rationalize the three detours by assuming the entire family is crazy. They were driving more than halfway across the United States to see something they could have flown to in a few hours. The drive would take them days and they took multiple detours that were both unreasonably long and obviously bullshit no sane person would waste their time on. If it was something right off the highway, then sure. Stop and have a laugh. 125 miles out of the way? 300 miles out of the way? Fuck no. The good feeling they experience at the Painted Gorge will be gone about an hour after they start driving back home. By the time they get home, they will hate each other more than ever.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Episode 52, Part 1: Doug Graduates

The sixth graders are graduating from Bluffington School in three days. From there, they will go on to jr. high. Everyone is excited about this except Doug of course.

Skeeter notices that Doug is not happy and tells him to cheer up because three more days! Doug says he feels funny and down about it.

Some jackass on a skateboard rides by and tells Doug he should talk to Mr. Shellacky about it. Al and Moo said they did that and recommend it. Doug is not convinced. Roger suggests Doug see Mr. Bone. "He always straightens me out." That's actually kind of sweet. Connie suggests he see Principal Buttsavitch.

"He's supposed to be a great guy."
"YEAH! He's the one that got us the school newspaper back!"
"And our new volleyballs!"
"He built the new planetarium."
"When the chemistry lab blew up, he single-handedly pulled Skunky Beaumont out of the flames."

Is that something that actually happened? Did an elementary school really get a planetarium? Did it really have a chemistry lab that blew up? I should have grown up in Bluffington. Sounds awesome. My elementary school was broken into and vandalized once, but nothing ever exploded, and we certainly didn't have a planetarium. I feel cheated.

Doug is convinced and suggests they all go see the principal. They march straight to Mr. Bone's office and are denied their request.

Mr. Bone says he's all booked up. He's way too busy running the school to waste time talking to students. I'd call bullshit on that based on my school experiences, but I never went to a school where the principal had to personally get volleyballs, build a planetarium, and rescue students from burning parts of the school. Maybe he is too busy.

After Mr. Bone kicks them out of his office, they realize none of them has ever actually seen Mr. Buttsavitch. Doug wonders what he's like and has a fantasy.

He's the Wizard of Oz. He's pissed that he's been disturbed and he doesn't understand why Doug is unhappy. Doug says he can't feel excited about graduation like everyone else. The Buttsavitch of Oz quickly changes his attitude, saying, "why didn't you say that in the first place? You just need the same thing all other kids have!"

A gift from the Buttsavitch of Oz! Perfect! Unfortunately, when Doug goes to open it, it morphs into his alarm clock and he wakes up.

It wasn't going to make Doug feel better anyway, but I like the angry, fiery Buttsavitch of Oz that turns into the cheerful, glowing Buttsavitch of Oz aspect of this. Porkchop didn't even uncover his amazing ruse that involved projecting his head while he stood behind a curtain. Nope, he's just regularly a giant floating red head.

I also want to take a moment to finally say how much I love the poster above Doug's bed. I don't know why he has WWII propaganda above his bed, but I love it. I feel like that poster might be his ruin with Patti. He has to keep his crush a secret or it will be the death of him.

With two days left of sixth grade, it is now yearbook day. Everyone is getting everyone to sign theirs, and their 20-something selves aren't there to tell them "don't bother." They are already laughing about lame shit in the book like the Bumpkin Ho-down. Apparently the school had a Bumpkin Ho-down and I was not invited. Anyway, Doug walks up and Patti asks him to sign her yearbook. Because he's thinking so much about Buttsavitch, he doesn't really realize what's going on here and absentmindedly signs her yearbook and misses another free opportunity.

Doug tells Patti, Skeeter, Beebe and Chalky he's figured out a plan to see Mr. Buttsavitch. They've all forgotten about the whole thing. Doug's plan is predictably inept. Skeeter is standing on Chalky's shoulders. Patti is standing on Skeeter's shoulders. And Doug is standing on Patti's shoulders.

They're graduating sixth grade and don't even know how to steal a ladder from a construction site. This is sad. Also, what a terrible plan! There are several easier ways to see the principal than this. Doug could simply wait outside his office at the end of the day until Buttsavitch finally emerges. To make this plan even worse, they aren't even outside the principal's office. When Doug finally gets to the window, a bunch of girls scream. One of them shouts, "somebody's peeking in the girls' bathroom!" These kids are morons. Of the four of them, with genius Skeeter (though Chalky gives a speech at graduation, so how smart is he?), how did they not know which window to peek into? Did Doug's plan involve starting anywhere and then having the bottom person walk them around the school until they found it? Or is it just an unfortunate coincidence that the principal's office is right next to the girls' bathroom and the girls' bathroom has giant unobstructed windows? How unsettling is that? Anyway, Mr. Bone lets them off the hook because they are graduating the next day. Sure, peeking in the girls' bathroom might actually be the worst thing they've done in sixth grade, but who cares since they're graduating?

Doug starts to suggest hiding out in the teachers' lounge (already a better plan) but everyone else wants to forget it. They don't care. Doug feels a little more anxious and has another fantasy. Doug, Skeeter, Chalky and Beebe are climbing a mountain.

There's something really weird about this fantasy. It starts with Patti saying "Doooouuug, why don't we just forget about it?" Then Beebe yells, in Patti's voice, "WE'RE GRADUATING IN TWO DAYS!" It's crazy.

So Doug drags the rest of them to the top.

"As principal of an elementary school, it's important that I do all my stamping at my desk on the top of a mountain. The thin air makes the ink dry faster."

Anyway, just as Doug drags the rest of them to the top, his rope breaks and only he falls to his death like Wile E. Coyote.

Doug jumps up from his bed. It was just a dream, which, to me, excuses the Beebe/Patti voice switch. Dreams are naturally weird like that. My favorite dreams are the ones where the only other character is an amalgamation of all my friends that looks and sounds like no one I've ever met.

Finally the last day of sixth grade has arrived and it is every bit as useless as the last day of any school year. They're having a party and Chalky is giving Ms. Wingo a card signed by the whole class.

Ms. Wingo gives Roger his last lesson and informs him that "sayonara suckers' is two words. Roger is embarrassed, but it seems like quite an improvement. She didn't correct his spelling, and if he was maybe a bit quicker, he could have said he just wrote them too close together, perhaps to save room for the other students. She really didn't need to call him out on that. Bitch. She asks why Doug didn't sign the card and Patti says they couldn't find him. Ms. Wingo says, "couldn't find him? That's funny. Where do you think he is?" She also could have said, "couldn't find him? That's Funnie. Where do you think he is?" I am not certain which spelling went with what she said, because they both work. So where is Doug? Oh, he just had himself shipped to Mr. Buttsavitch.

How much did that cost? The secretary asks who the package is for but the delivery man can't read it. She tries to read it but gives up and assumes the box contains the new volleyballs. Doug is left in the gym.

He escapes saying, "maybe if I sneak into his car." Well obviously. He probably should have thought of that before he spent all that money shipping himself to the school. How did he do that anyway?

Outside the gym, Ms. Wingo stops him to tell him she was worried she wouldn't see him again. Their conversation sets off another fantasy. This time Doug and his classmates are on a rocket hurtling through space. Everyone is excited except for Doug, who points out that they are being sucked into a black hole.

Doug determines to find Captain Buttsavitch, but he breaks into the cockpit and finds it empty. Theda wakes him up and ends the dream. It's time for graduation.

While the graduating class sings their alma mater song, Patti and Skeeter talk about the absence of Doug. Skeeter reasons that he's probably just fixing his tie. If he only knew the truth. Doug is actually climbing through the air ducts.

This might be one of my favorite moments of the series. Doug climbs up to a vent and sees this.

It's a giant, one-eyed, shirtless man shoveling coal into a furnace, muttering about how glad he is that it's graduation because he needs a vacation. Is Jim Jinkins David Lynch?

Meanwhile, Chalky is giving his speech (because I guess he is more genius than Skeeter). Doug comes up to another vent to see a teacher dancing on a desk and singing a song of good riddance.

Because a climbing-through-the-air-ducts scene wouldn't be complete without it, Doug finally reaches a point where he falls through the ceiling into a room. It happens to be the principal's office. Finally.

Look at his stupid butterfly collection. Doug starts asking, "Mr. Buttsavitch?" until finally the chair spins around.

Doug asks him what he's doing there and he says, "what do you think, lamebrain?" Doug says, "you're not hiding out from graduation are you?" Roger explains that he's been in sixth grade for three long years (!!!) and he practically runs this school. Everyone is afraid of him. Who is he going to be in jr. high? Doug reassures him that he's not going to be the only one going to jr. high. Everyone he knows is going to be there. The teachers and the building are going to be different, but all of his friends are going to be there. This actually makes Doug feel better too, finally. Roger sees his point and is glad that he'll be there with Doug, if only to have someone to pick on.

I still maintain that all he wants is to be Doug's best friend. They exit the office together and join the graduation ceremony. At the ceremony they are giving out diplomas, because let's face it, some of them are going to need their sixth grade diplomas to get a job.

Doug and Roger get in line behind Patti and Skeeter. Skeeter tells Doug he missed the principal. Patti says he gave a great speech. Doug says, "oh, well, no big deal." Patti and Skeeter are surprised. His anxiety only showed as an extreme curiosity about the principal. Once he finally dealt with the anxiety of the situation, his curiosity disappeared. Anyway, Mr. Bone finally calls his name.

And Ms. Wingo's concern that she wouldn't get to see him again no longer makes sense. She knew this was going to happen. Presumably, she's done it every year she's been teaching. It might not be the best opportunity to really talk to your departing students, but it's certainly the best opportunity to say goodbye and good luck.

"When you're about to go someplace new, it can be kinda scary. Well, you kinda want somebody older and more mature to tell you everything's gonna be alright. But I found out today, that older, more mature person was...me."

That sounds a bit crazy, but it's not really. He tried to talk to someone that would reassure him, but found that person to be hopelessly inaccessible. Mr. Bone phones it in on the last few days, Ms. Wingo makes the situation worse, and who knows which window is the window to Mr. Buttsavitch's office? What's crazy are the fantasies that start in the school and end the next day when Doug wakes up and they were just dreams. And all of his ridiculous plans to see Mr. Buttsavitch. None of them make any goddamn sense at all. Only a crazy person or a graduate of the sixth grade could invent such shitty plans.