This episode begins, as they sometimes do, with Doug watching television. He sees a commercial for a product called Nic-Nacs. Apparently Nic-Nacs help you relax. Like cigarettes, minors can't buy them.
In one of his more observant moments, Doug seems bothered by the fact that Nic-Nacs are advertised during his show, which is apparently called Captain Cavity. I would love to know what this show is about. Presumably it's just a superhero dentist that gets his power from candy, but it's also possibly about a cruise ship's resident proctologist taking over after the ship's original captain got drunk and fell overboard. I would watch either show gladly.
Sometime later, Doug and Skeeter are shopping at a convenience store when Roger starts acting like every minor buying something illegally in every show where that's ever happened. Try to throw off the clerk by mentioning the other adult things you need to buy, then casually mention you want 200 Nic-Nacs. The clerk asks to see some identification. Roger's got that covered.
Or should I say, Cornelius has that covered?
This is the worst fake ID ever made. I'm surprised the picture is actually Roger. Like, when did "NOTFAKE ID CORP" take over the whole licensing process and make IDs the size of post cards? This must be what the clerk was thinking after Roger left with 200 Nic-Nacs.
At school, Doug wonders what Roger plans to do with all those Nic-Nacs. Skeeter says he looked pretty nervous and he must want to relax a lot. Roger shows up with a briefcase and offers to sell them for a dollar.
Doug asks how he can sell them for a dollar when they only cost 60 cents at the store. Roger points out that Doug doesn't have an ID, so he can't buy them at the store anyway.
After school, Roger is sitting outside with his briefcase open, waiting for all his new customers to throw their money at him. No one notices him.
Doug asks him how his plan is going and he says, "it's like nobody realizes they're not supposed to have them." This gives him a plan. The next day he goes to Principal White and tells him a sob story about other kids eating Nic-Nacs.
Principal White, while using Nic-Nacs, promptly makes an announcement to the entire school. Just say no to Nic-Nacs. After school, Roger's business is booming.
Roger will later go to college, graduate with a double major in business and psychology, and make billions selling whatever the hell he wants. Or he'll just grow and sell weed. Who knows? I don't think he cares either way.
Watching the buying frenzy, Doug has a reasonably clever idea for a cartoon for the school newspaper.
The editor, a dude named Guy, fucking loves it. He laughs and everyone laughs and Doug is happy. Until Guy gives him one small note. "Lose the picture, dump the caption and make it an article." He wants 4 columns and it should be more positive. Guy is a shithead. Doug tries to protest by pointing out that Nic-Nacs aren't safe, but Guy has his own shithead dismissals of that silly fact. He points to race cars and asks Doug if they're safe. He points to two kids jumping into and swimming in a quarry and asks Doug if that's safe. He points to some French guy approaching a girl he's never met and asks Doug if that's safe.
His reasoning is "nothing worth having in life is safe." I'm betting he's the guy that dies before high school graduation and everyone has to pretend they're sad instead of just indifferent. You know the guy I'm talking about. It sucks he died, but none of us really liked him because he was a bit of a jerk with no redeemable qualities. Maybe he would have changed some after high school, but instead he did something stupid and died so we'll never know, and the only thing we'll really miss is finding out if he ever became someone worth talking to at the 10 year reunion. Everyone but his closest friends will forget about him the next time one of their classmates dies, because the next one is always someone people actually liked. Anyway, that's Guy.
At Bluffco Industries, Mr. Bluff is playing racquetball while telling Mr. Dink what he needs for the new ad campaign for Nic-Nacs. They need a slogan to go along with the new character. Meet the Nic-Nac Yak.
This bald dude says, "he's edgy. He's sexy. He plays the guitar. We'll make action figures you can take home and dress up like cowboys or rock stars." Mr. Dink is not a fool. He asks who they intend to sell this shit to and the bald dude and Mr. Bluff promptly reply in unison, "adults." Mr. Dink points out that all this would be a great way to get kids to buy Nic-Nacs, if that weren't against the law. Mr. Bluff says Mr. Dink doesn't sound like he's being a team player. Mr. Dink replies that he is a team play, for "human kind." He tells them to write their own slogans and quits. Mr. Dink is kind of awesome.
At the park, Doug starts interviewing people for his article about how awesome Nic-Nacs are. All the kids at the park are popping those things in their mouths except Doug.
Connie says she likes them because they're so cool, relaxing and sophisticated. She then spits her latest Nic-Nac into her cup. I guess I should explain that Nic-Nacs are apparently some sort of star-shaped gummy that you chew for a minute and spit out. They are individually wrapped, so they're also very wasteful. Doug asks Al and Moo if they've tried Nic-Nacs and they freak out a little bit.
They said they never eat them. NEVER! Doug asks them why. They speak in code and run away without their ice cream. Mr. Swirly, or an employee wearing a fancy Mr. Swirly mask, doesn't care that his only customers ran away without paying. Roger approaches Doug and offers him a free sample of Nic-Nacs to try for his article. Doug doesn't want them, but takes them anyway.
After finishing his bullshit article, he shows it to the assistant editor of The Weekly Beebe, Sally.
Sally is unimpressed. Doug asks her what's wrong and she points to the Nic-Nacs he has on the table and asks if he'd try them. When he says, "no," she replies, "bingo." She takes him to the library and says the article doesn't say what Doug really thinks. Doug tries to say he's just writing what Guy wants and she's just like, "Guy, pfft." Because yeah. Guy is a shithead. She gives Doug an example of a reporter exposing the truth about something, and Doug is inspired to have a fantasy.
I'd watch this show. On this episode of Dougline, Doug is going to expose the truth about Nic-Nacs. He gets right to the meat of the story by interviewing the bald dude from earlier (at the racquetball game Doug wasn't at (so how does he know who this bald dude is?)). The bald guy is Ted Willackers (sp?). Here's how it goes:
Doug: Nic-Nacs. They aren't for kids. Are they in fact unsafe?
Ted: Oh no. Nic-Nacs are ju
D: Don't you intend to privateer a lot of booty for these products?
T: Beg your pardon, Doug?
D: Y'know! Bootle! Swag! Plunder! Aren't Nic-Nacs a plot by a bunch of scheming pirates!?
T: I don't know what you're talking about, matey. I...I mean...
Doug then reaches through the satellite feed to unmask Mr. Ted Willackers as the filthy pirate that he is!
This has joined the ranks of my favorite fantasies.
After the fantasy, Doug is really inspired. He asks Sally how he's going to find the truth. She says that's the hard part, and that no one is just going to call him up and give him all the answers. At that moment, an inexplicably placed telephone in the library rings and Sally picks it up. It's for Doug. Someone, Al or Moo, tells him if he wants to know the truth about Nic-Nacs, he should be at the Sleech garage in one hour. Naturally, he shows up.
I love this bit. It's a spoof of the classic trope of the informant in a garage hiding his identity by shining a spotlight on the investigator and standing in the shadows. It does make Doug look exceedingly stupid though, as he's standing in the Sleech garage, so named because it is attached to Al and Moo's house, talking to two guys that sound exactly like Al and Moo, and he asks for their identity. They throw him a package of Nic-Nacs and tell him to read the ingredients.
"Flour. Gelatin. Menthol. Nicoglutinous Monopextorate!?" Doug has a fantasy.
In a hazmat suit, Doug breaks into the laboratory where nicoglutinous monopextorate is produced to steal it. He remarks into his voice recorder, "it is a green liquid."
Doug doesn't escape with the nicoglutinous monopextorate though. The guards shut his doorway out and tell him to hand it over. He throws it on the ground at the feet of one of the guards and a gas cloud surrounds the poor guy. When the cloud clears, the guard has been transformed into the Nic-Nac Yak. In reality, the secret about nicoglutinous monopextorate, while pretty horrible, is not as exciting as a pirate scheme to turn people into dancing anthropomorphic yaks. I mean, would anyone really care if middle school kids were turned into obnoxious corporate mascots? Would anyone even notice a difference?
After the fantasy, there's a short scene involving the B story about Mr. Dink. Since he's quit his job, he's taking the time to finally write a novel. He reads a few lines to Mrs. Dink, but it's shit. He can't write narrative. He can only write slogan.
Doug, being as naive as you'd expect him to be, calls up Bluffco Industries, tells them he's writing an article about how harmful nicoglutinous monopextorate can be, and they swiftly pick him up in a Bluffco Industries van to give him the grand tour.
First there's a 3d movie.
There's not so subtle flashes of blank screens with lame, blatant attempts at subliminal messaging. After the movie, there's a roller coaster.
Yes, as a part of the tour to sell of a harmful chemical, Bluffco Industries built a roller coaster and named it after the chemical. Nothing so fun could hurt anyone. They drop Doug off at school, all decked out in his free Nic-Nacs swag.
Before the corporate spokesman leaves, Doug asks him if nicoglutinous monopextorate is safe and the guy tells him to bring his friends to ride the roller coaster anytime. The van speeds away and Doug is satisfied. Until Sally asks him if the product is safe. He tries to explain but quickly realizes what's happened. He has another talk about journalism with Sally, and again she says something about how he can't just wait around and wait for calls to give him all the answers before a nearby payphone phone rings and yes, it's Al or Moo for Doug. They tell him to search the internet for side effects of NM (because I'm tired of fucking typing it and I already have Nic-Nacs on ctl-v).
Remember the early days of the internet?
Doug prints off a large amount of information about NM, and because Sally is helping him, nothing about the supermodel of the day. After they leave the library, she remarks on all the reading he has to do, and then invites him to a party. Apparently she's in 8th grade, so Doug realizes it's a big deal to be invited. Obviously, his reaction is basically, "fuck reading about some bullshit. PAAAAARRRTAAAAY!"
At the party, there's a lot of unsettling spitting sounds. Sally notices Roger and his briefcase and asks, "who invited him?" Guy apologizes. He invited Roger because he brings the Nic-Nacs. Sally could have just as easily been asking Doug who invited Guy. Roger gives Guy a free package of Nic-Nacs, and they start passing them around until someone offers one to Doug. Before Doug responds, Sally intervenes.
Doug, having used up all of his ability to be observant, spots Patti and Chalky talking across the room and imagines how the current situation might score points with his crush. Never mind the cool, smart older girl that clearly likes you, Doug. That girl that's clearly at the party with someone else will be impressed by your rejection of the current trendy bullshit.
See? How could this go wrong?
Oh, unless Chalky and Patti are doing Nic-Nacs too.
That's not Patti being disgusted by Nic-Nacs. That's Patti mid-spit.
After this, instead of realizing this Sally girl is more his speed, Doug has a fantasy he's at some Nic-Nacs nightclub where the band is playing songs about Nic-Nacs and Patti and Skeeter are front-row, enjoying the shit out of some Nic-Nacs. Patti stops enjoying everything to confront Doug about his article about how Nic-Nacs are bad for you.
The anthropomorphic yaks at the club descend upon him and throw him outside, into a garbage can. He pleads to Patti to let him explain, but she yells back that he doesn't belong there.
At home, Doug struggles to write his article and begins hallucinating. First, Guy encourages him to make his article upbeat.
Then Al or Moo reminds him that Nic-Nacs are a threat to their very way of life.
Then Patti offers him some Nic-Nacs.
Doug gives up and throws his paper in the trash, because recycling isn't cool.
Meanwhile, the Dinks work out Mr. Dink's writing problem. He's not a man of many small words. He's a man of a few big words. Doug discovers this while sitting outside, basking in the sun and the glory of not writing an article that would paint him in an uncool light. Mr. Dink shows off his latest work.
He just writes the headlines. Doug asks him why he quit his old job. He's reluctant at first, but the thought of it gets him so angry he tells Doug he quit because they wanted him to help sell Nic-Nacs to kids. Doug finally gets inspired to do the right thing. On the second page of the long dot-matrix printout, he reads, "shows that nicoglutinous monopextorate can cause temporary juvenile oral paralysis." For some reason, he has to get out the dictionary for the word "paralysis."
He's shocked! Me too. I mean, really, they've got a product that temporary paralyzes the mouths of anyone under the age of 18 and made it illegal for them to purchase it? Fuck that. Give it out for free. Comes free with every movie ticket. Every plane ticket. Mandatory for all children everywhere!
So he writes the article and gives it to Guy. He starts explaining the contents of the article to Guy and gets no response. He gets upset with Guy's lack of response, so Guy tries to explain it to him, though he can't exactly speak.
Either because he's just fucking with Guy, or he's a fucking dumbass, Doug doesn't get it.
Hopefully he's just fucking with Guy, playing dumb to further frustrate the kid with the paralyzed mouth.
In the end, Doug's article gets printed in the school paper, and then in the Bluffington Gazette, thanks to Mr. Dink. Nic-Nacs swiftly fall out of fashion with the kids. Patti and Chalky are especially thankful for Doug's hard work.
Doug tries to gloat a bit, but Guy interrupts, trying to sell the next big stupid thing called Klankeroos, from the makers of Nic-Nacs. No one accepts. Not even Roger.
What's wrong with Al and Moo? I realize it would just make the episode a lot shorter, but there's no reason they couldn't just tell Doug what he needs to know.
And what's wrong with the adults in Bluffington? They've always been pretty damn useless, but here, the only one that even attempts to do anything is Principal White. It is a poor attempt. After that, the kids are all hanging out in the park, obviously using Nic-Nacs. Roger is blatantly selling them out of a briefcase in front of the school. Doug brings them to school. Everyone at Sally's party is doing them. Mr. Swirly's got his ice cream truck surrounded by kids popping Nic-Nacs
and his only two customers are scared off by some shithead kid trying to
write an article about how cool Nic-Nacs are. Fuck doing the right thing
for the right reason. Call the cops on all those kids because they
aren't buying ice cream from you. Mr. Dink quits his job so he doesn't help sell them to kids, but he could easily help Doug or the local newspaper with information about the company's attempts to market the product to kids. This is the best the town can do.
And Doug. Poor Doug. Sally is clearly what he should be chasing, instead
of Patti. This is another example of Doug's idea of Patti being so
unlike the real Patti that Doug should finally realize she's not right
for him. He won't. He dwells on her so much he just can't see reality
even when it spits on him and mocks him for a loser. Even then, he just
wipes the spit off his face and prepares an umbrella called "fuck it" to
guard against the mocking.