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.