Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Episode 1: Doug's Last Birthday

This episode begins with Doug explaining why he hasn't written in his journal all summer. According to him, nothing ever happens. The town is building a new middle school, he's still obsessed with Patti, Roger's still just an idiot dick, Skeeter's still his best friend, Beebe has too much money to change, Mr. Dink still buys stupid shit, Porkchop's still his best non-human friend, and he still hates getting haircuts. Right now, he's 5 days from his twelfth birthday, which he wrote on his calendar so he wouldn't forget.

Doug doesn't like that his birthday is always a few days before school starts. I would call him crazy for this, but really, what sane person likes having a reason to celebrate the end of the summer. I know I sure don't like hanging out with all my friends and family, enjoying good food, and getting gifts right before something shitty. It makes the shitty thing so much more dreadful.

Anyway, Doug is making personalized invitations to his party, because he's pretty awesome. He's drawn pictures of everyone for their invitations. My favorite is Roger's.

He draws one for Patti too, but it is far too graphic to include a screenshot. After finishing the invitations, he walks downstairs and informs Theda that he will be delivering them personally. It will be a chance to catch up with everyone. This is when shit starts to get weird.

Theda, while restraining her uncontrollable need for food, reminds Doug to get his hair cut.

His first stop is Joe's Barber Shop. He asks Mr. Sweeney for "the usual" and is promptly murdered and cooked into a pie.

Actually, Mr. Sweeney tells him he can't give him the usual. Up until now, Mr. Sweeney has been giving him a grade school cut. He's going to middle school now and he needs to pick a new haircut from Mr. Sweeney's magical "Choose a Do 4-U" machine.

Doug flips through many options.

"Good grief." He decides to think about it and come back later.

For some reason, he decides to deliver Roger's invitation first. He doesn't say if Roger's trailer park is closest to the barber shop, or if he's just really excited to be Roger's friend. I don't know. Anyway, he informs us that the trailer park where Roger lived is actually where they're building the new middle school. The middle school doesn't have a name yet. Looking at the construction, Doug worries a little about how middle school is going to change his life. He decides to deliver Connie's invitation next, because he can always count on her to be exactly the same.

Or not. She just got back from "Camp Make-Em Over," which is the nicest name for a fat camp possible, right Connie? Chalky is next, and Doug says, "at least Chalky still looked the same." Chalky is throwing a football with his dad. Doug notices a bunch of strange men hiding behind bushes and in trees and asks who they are. Chalky says, "I think they're scouting me for high school athletics programs." Or they're fucking perverts. Seriously. Scouts don't waste their time watching athletes casually toss a football in their front yard with their dad. Fucking perverts waste their time watching that. Chalky should be smarter than that.

One particularly short "scout" wearing a ridiculous hat comes up and asks Chalky to skip middle school to be the 86er's starting quarterback. Also, they'll give him a car.

All Doug can say is "wow! Chalky's life sure was changing." So finally Doug decides to deliver his invitation to Skeeter, certain he can always rely on his best friend to always be the same.

WHAT THE FUCK!? Skeeter says he hit a growth spurt. No! Skeeter says it's a pain because he keeps kicking his hands. This is too much. On the way to the Honker Burger, Doug asks Skeeter if he's noticed that everything has changed. Skeeter says, "nope, except maybe you sound different." So long, Billy West. You will be missed.

When they finally get to the Honker Burger, a snooty French guy tells them they must wear a jacket and cravat to enter.

The Honker Burger has new owners, and they hate making money so they changed the name of the place to Chez Honque, and they hired a snooty French guy to turn away all their customers, because the only people that are ever in the Honker Burger are fucking kids who never wear jackets and don't know what cravats are. Walking away, mourning the loss of their favorite fast food establishment, Doug says, "it can't get worse than this." Because saying that is the same as wishing it was worse, Roger pops out of a store with a big announcement.

He's rich. I don't know why, but this is extremely upsetting to Doug. He screams. Roger gets everyone to meet at a shitty, roadside dive called Hopping Whopping Wieners to tell them how he became rich. Everyone ignores Roger because of the awful smell of the place. Hopping Whopping Wieners is conveniently located near a sulfer mine, a farm, a sock and shoe recycling plant, a place called "Just Cabbage," and a sewage treatment facility. Everyone gets their hot dogs and almost vomits. They relocate to Beebe's yard.

So, as Roger was saying at Hopping Whopping Wieners, he's rich. No one believes him. He got rich because the old middle school collapsed while school was still going on. Beebe's dad said he didn't want his daughter to go to a school made of dust. He decides to build a new school. When deciding where to build the new school (for some reason, the site of the old school is not an option (apparently)), Beebe suggests they bulldoze Fat Jack's Trailer Park. Mr. Bluff is reluctant until he realizes it's perfect. He buys the land from Fat Jack, who takes the money to buy the Honker Burger. For unexplained reasons, the French take over and kick Fat Jack out. So when the school is half-built, Roger's mom finds her contract with Fat Jack and reveals she actually owned the land under her trailer. So naturally she jacks up the price and sells it. When she tells Roger they will be moving, Roger is at first reluctant because all of his memories are there.

When she shows him the check, he throws rosebud down and makes me want to finance a shot-for-shot animated remake of Citizen Kane starring Roger Klotz. So that's how Roger is rich for now. He still has rickets, and he's blowing the money the same way lottery winners blow it, so he'll be poor soon. So I don't know...whatever.

The rickets are worse than ever. Still, no one believes he's rich, even though Beebe should know about this, or at least could easily check it with her father. Doug gets up and walks away without saying a word. He decided getting a haircut was better than hearing about Roger's new fortune. On the way to the barbershop, Doug walks by one of those old fashioned appliance stores I don't believe actually existed where televisions played in the window and often attracted crowds. Doug sees a trailer for the new Smash Adams movie. At first everything seems totally normal and Smash Adams-y, but then it's like the original Casino Royale movie, and "Smash Adams is...WACKY!"

Doug is devastated. At home, Phil asks to see the new haircut, and Theda yells at him for not getting it. He's worried he will get a bad haircut. I didn't take a screenshot of it, but I feel it is necessary to note that Theda is under the car, fixing some unnamed problem. Phil is supervising. After yelling at Doug, she rolls out from under the car to eat something out of a brown paper bag. I didn't take a screenshot of this, but it is important.

At Theda's insistence, Doug walks back to the barbershop. Where is his fucking bike? Before he walks in, Al and Moo call out to him. They ask him if he heard the news. Doug covers his ears and says, "oh no! You're going to tell me something else has changed. I don't want to hear it." They just wanted to tell him about a Beets concert next month. Doug is excited and can't wait to tell Patti and Skeeter. Al or Moo (I'll never remember which) then says it's part of their farewell tour.

This is worse than the Smash Adams thing, though if Doug had learned just a little about The Beatles, he might have seen this coming.

Later, Doug is with Patti and Skeeter in I don't know...someone's bedroom (?) watching a small tv. They're watching the last press conference the Beets will ever have (probably) and it's about why the band is breaking up. They don't really explain the reason so much as demonstrate it by arguing about every little thing that any of them says. So that's that. After the press conference, Doug says he couldn't handle all these changes if it weren't for one thing: "soon we'll all be back at school together."

That's when Patti drops the bomb...

"I won't be going to school with you anymore."

At this, Doug imagines a world shaped like his head spinning out of control and exploding.

Patti goes on to explain that she's going to be doing home-school with her dad this year. After Patti explains the very simple concept of home-schooling to Doug, he has a fantasy that reveals he has no fucking idea what she's talking about. They're at the train station.

It's the classic, cliche train station goodbye. Patti's on the train, heading off to home-school, and Doug chases after the train yelling that he doesn't want her to go. If you have to get on a train for home-school, you're doing it very wrong. Very wrong, indeed. At the end of the fantasy, real-Patti says it will be great because she'll still go to regular school in the afternoon for science and sports. Because I guess her crippled father doesn't know science and can't teach her shit about sports. Offensive. Anyway, Doug doesn't hear any of that shit about her going to middle school in the afternoon.

Later, for unexplained reasons, Doug and Skeeter are wandering the grounds of their old school. Doug wonders why things can't be the same as they were at this school, and starts to hallucinate fake memories.

In this one, they run off to the cafeteria because they are excited about getting "magic mystery meat."

In this one Skeeter reminds Doug of a Beets concert in home room (which is ridiculous because elementary schools don't have home room (typically)) and Doug comments on how delicious the magic mystery meat is. There's another fake memory-hallucination where Doug and Mr. Bone have a bubble gum bubble blowing contest that Doug remembers as hilarious and fun. Skeeter calls him on his bullshit, pointing out that Mr. Bone was a dick and mystery meat was gross. Doug denies this and says that Skeeter is the one that changed. Crazy asshole with his rose-colored glasses...

At home, Doug makes a crazy decision. It's the day before his birthday and he's tired of the fact that getting older changes things. He marches down to dinner to make a big announcement. Phil, Theda, and Judy make it for him in unison.

"You're cancelling your birthday."

Apparently he does this every year. At 2, he cancelled because of a dirty diaper. At 5, he crashed a tricycle. There was a creepy clown at 6. An incident with a pony at 7. Grandma Opal ruined 8 somehow. At 11, he cancelled his party because he didn't want to move to Bluffington. To be fair, it's a pretty dick move to make a kid pack up all his shit and move on his birthday. Judy mentions Doug's old friends Arthur and Buster as if they were the worst people ever, and here they are.

She goes on to mention that he never would have met all the great friends he has now, and it's really depressing to think about their attitude towards his old friends. They're just written off so easily because of old rubber-arms and home-schooled. Judy ends her speech by pointing out that life is change. "That's what makes us different from the rocks."

Doug asks, "what about erosion?" She storms off and he adds, "and earthquakes?" He's just fucking with her though. He got her message. He's not a rock and it's time for a haircut. He marches back to the barbershop, announcing to everyone on the way that he's not a rock and he's getting his haircut. Everyone is excited for him. Here he is faced with the entrance to the barbershop.

If it seems weird that all those people are standing there, cheering him on, it's because they aren't really there.

So he gets his hair cut and has his party. For his new hair style, he gets the standard Doug, which for some reason involved buying a new undershirt with longer sleeves.

I guess it's a baseball shirt. Patti got a haircut too, but it was not nearly as big a deal. She's not crazy.

Roger pulls up in definitive proof of his new-found riches.

Beebe passes out from the shock and Porkchop splashes water on her to wake her. Doug decides to face the worst change of all and turns to Patti and says something about this being the last time they'd see each other. She's confused, because didn't he hear her when she said she'd be going to school in the afternoon for science and sports? No, he didn't. He was too busy having an insane fantasy where home-school meant saying goodbye forever at a train station. And even if she was home-schooled all the time, it's not like they couldn't hang out after school. That's when all the good shit happens anyway. Doug doesn't realize immediately obvious things because he is crazy.

After the party, Doug and Skeeter are cleaning up when Skeeter laments the loss of the Beets. Doug repeats Judy's lesson about life being change, and how that separates us from the rocks. Skeeter asks, "what about lava?" Ignoring that, Doug says that change can be great. He reveals Judy will be going to college soon (! I don't remember this and always thought she was a sophomore (at best) in high school in the Nickelodeon series) and he'll be getting the bigger bedroom. He shows Skeeter a crude drawing of his plans for the room. He will not be wasting space in this room on a fucking brick collection. Before they can discuss this useless bit of trivia further, Phil asks Doug to come inside. They have something important to discuss. Fuck you, Skeeter. You're not invited.

Inside, Theda is eating cake while Phil gets very serious. Divorce serious. Doug and Judy are concerned by the tone of his voice when he says there's going to be some changes around the house. Theda butts in to say she's pregnant.

So, she's eating every time you see her in this episode because she's pregnant. Also, she's under a jacked-up car, flexing her mechanic muscles because that's a good idea for a pregnant woman. I don't think it's terribly old fashioned to suggest that a pregnant woman probably shouldn't slide under a car to fix something while her perfectly capable husband stands by watching. Don't get me wrong. I think it's awesome Theda can fix a car, and should I get married, by all means fix the car as often as needed. I'll stand here and get you anything you need. But seriously...just fucking relax while you're growing a person inside you, maybe. The car can wait until you and the baby get out of the hospital.

Anyway, Doug and Judy are excited. Judy says, "way to go, dad" and it makes Doug say, "dad?" Phil says he'll explain later because Doug doesn't yet know what he really wants to do with Patti. Then Phil and Theda tell Doug they know how he doesn't like change so they're going to use Judy's room for the nursery and he can keep his old room. It was the only change he was excited about and they fucking ruined it with their fucking.

I include this picture only because it is hilarious.

In the end, Doug can't believe he thought change was scary. He fantasizes that change is like the ocean. "You can't stop it or control it, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride."

So basically, this episode is the same as Doug Graduates, with a little Doug Gets His Ears Lowered. Doug has a lot of anxiety around any sort of change. In this one a lot changed, and he didn't freak out too much. Maybe he's getting better about dealing with it. His head-world did explode when he thought he'd never see Patti again, and he was really stupid for thinking he'd never see her again, but he didn't run away from home or anything. He just tried to cancel his birthday. Again. I'm a little worried about his detachment from his old friends. Apparently his friends don't mean as much as he thinks they do. If the Funnies moved again, he'd just meet more people that would fill the roles he needed them to fill. He'd find a best friend, and he'd find another unrequited crush. Probably before he even talked to her too. The actual person doesn't seem to matter as much as the idea of the person in his mind. That's a miserable existence, isn't it?

I'm not sure why Doug apparently locked himself in his room all summer either. The only change that should have been shocking should have been Connie. She was at camp all summer. Everything else happened in town and Doug should have seen it happening. I can only assume that the real reason why Doug did not write in his journal all summer, or hang out with any of his friends, is severe depression. He locked himself in his room and scarcely emerged to eat. The result was long hair and a total lack of awareness of many obvious changes going on around him.

Also, does anyone actually write their own birthday on their own calendar? Seriously...