Did you ever have one of those days when you just couldn't find a book that's worth reading?"
Doug picks up a copy of Homer's Odyssey and reads enough to imagine this scene.
The Cyclops looks confused when Doug yawns like, "oh, a giant cyclops just stood up in the sea. Ho-hum." After the fantasy, Doug tries to find something more exciting and picks up an Edgar Allan Poe collection. He opens to The Pit and the Pendulum and is bored by this as well. He has this fantasy where he's the narrator and he's bored by the swinging pendulum, so he uses it to slice some meat.
Doug approaches the librarian and asks, "don't you have anything really exciting in this library?" She doesn't take this question well, as she suggests a book of Greek mythology while turning into Medusa.
Luckily, this was just Doug hallucinating. He yawns while hallucinating that Porkchop turns to stone and crumbles away.
This episode is about a book report for Ms. Kristal.
It's not a typical book report. She says you can use anything that best expresses what you got from the story. Skunky asks the question, "when you say anything, like, what do you mean?" She says that means no rules. Use your imagination and do whatever. Skunky hates this idea. After school, he complains to Doug and Skeeter that he needs rules.
Doug points out that he never follows rules. He says, "I do too! The rules tell you what not to do, so that's what I do do. If nobody tells me what not to do, what do I do?" Skeeter gets it. Anyway, Doug knows exactly what he'll do. The Tell Tale Heart.
So earlier, which is actually later (I suppose), when he said Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum wasn't exciting enough, what he actually meant was it was just too long. He points out to Porkchop that it's only 3 pages long as if that is the most important aspect of it. The Tell Tale Heart is 2093 words. The Pit and the Pendulum is 6155 words. Doug is lazy. The Pit and the Pendulum would be about 9 pages for Doug, but that's in goddamn Yawnsville.
Doug's tireless work on his book report is interrupted by a television broadcast featuring his school. Basically, it's a commercial for a show about Beebe.
She's excited. The show promises to show you what it's like to be a girl going to a school named after yourself. Basically, they're just going to follow Beebe around and that will be the show. It is weird because this episode aired in early 1997. I mean, I know Real World was earlier than that, but this is really a better criticism of the type of shitty reality/documentary shows that have ruined a number of cable channels in the last decade. Look at this and tell me what they're making fun of if not everything that came out after this show aired. Anyway, the show is sponsored by BluffCo. Industries. Basically, Beebe's dad is paying a bunch of adults to follow his young teen daughter around for a week and to film everything that happens so that it may be aired on television. If that doesn't sound like good parenting, then good for you. DFCS will not be called on you.
At school, Skeeter and Skunky are apparently excited by the documentary crew following Beebe. Skunky tries to steal the spotlight by pretending to be the principal, but Beebe interrupts him to get the crew to follow her into class.
Roger says the dog and pony show will interfere with his ability to learn. He's saying it to be a dick, but he's also absolutely correct and Beebe and her crew should fuck right off.
She says he's only jealous so he makes a face at her, sticking out his tongue. She makes a face back. This goes back and forth a few times before he asks the crew, "uhh, you're getting this right?"
Well fucking played, Roger.
At lunch, Skunky asks everyone what they're doing for the book report.
Willie says he's going to print his in 36 fancy computer fonts. Roger
says he was actually going to read a book, which is great for him but
not really an answer to the question. He's just being a smart ass. Doug starts to talk about his book report but Beebe and her crew walk by.
Her loud monologue to the camera about her book report about Treasure Island makes the rest of them realize that their book reports are going to be broadcast on television. Everyone's mild anxiety about a pretty standard book report just increased. It's a shame that Doug was finally getting through something with relative ease. He wasn't agonizing about what he should do or how it would be received. He found a story he liked and he ran with it and Beebe fucked that up.
So he looks at his drawing and asks himself if his "dinky" drawing was good enough for television. This is a fantasy.
The director, Spielpug, immediately interrupts Doug when he holds up his drawing.
It doesn't do anything. It's boring. He needs action. Something exciting. I wish Doug would just let it die here. It's a show for Beebe about Beebe. The director, the producers, the viewers, etc...aren't grading his book report. They don't fucking matter. It's not Doug's assignment to making interesting television. Obviously, this is not the end.
This fantasy was followed by another. This time, a rocket ship lands on a green asteroid?
Doug and all his school friends emerge from the rocket in space suits.
After Beebe says his book report is better than hers, and the director calls him a genius, Doug returns to reality saying, "yeah, that's the kind of book report I need."
First step is to dispose of the previous book report.
Second, he needed to find a book about the moon to fit with his unrealistic idea. Strutting up to the front desk at the library, Doug asks, "what books do you have on the moon?"
The librarian, being shitty and pedantic, says, "we don't have any books on the moon. They're all right here."
You fucking asshole. You knew exactly what he meant. Doug needlessly clarifies, and ends up with a small stack.
No need to look further. Jules Verne's got him covered. It's quite a bit longer than Tell Tale Heart, but Doug doesn't care. He won't have time for any reading now that he needs to build a moon set.
At the hardware store, he starts describing all the things he'll need and hallucinating them in that way that is torturous to retail workers.
Really, we know you have this picture in your head of what you're describing, and maybe you can even see it like Doug here, but please stop. Your hand motions are not helpful because no one else can see the picture in your head. Anyway, the clerk kindly says that his idea sounds pretty good, but the lumber alone will cost 63 million dollars.
Doug asks him for a smaller scale version and the guy produces a small piece of wood and some paint. So, Doug makes a pretty great model rocket.
Fantastic, Doug. Plus, since building a small rocket took far less time than building a moon and full scale rocket set, he'll have time to actually read the book. But first, Beebe has invited everyone to her house.
She's trying to pretend she didn't invite them, and basically it's just a pretense to show off her project. Her pool now has an island and a pirate ship and actors and she's just really over-doing it here. They're all blown away. Skeeter asks the logical question, "how will you move your pool into the classroom?" She imagines yelling at a construction crew.
At Mr. Swirly's, Connie asks Skeeter, Doug, and Chalky if they thought Ms. Kristal would let her ride a horse into class. Skunky interrupts her justification with an announcement that he finally knows what he's going to do. Treasure Island! He's even got a stuffed parrot.
Doug tells him that Beebe is doing Treasure Island (which he'd know if he'd been paying attention), and he asks if she's got a parrot. Everyone nods yes and he is defeated. And now we get few examples of other students' book reports and the extremes they are going to.
"Willie White had a suit of armor shipped from their ancestral castle." His book report is about whatever book he found about King Arthur.
Skeeter plans to build a tornado right in the classroom.
Genius. I don't know what book this is for, but he turns it on and it's too powerful.
I don't know how Skeeter created a tornado and destroyed his room with a rotary fan and a box fan, but there you have it.
Doug says even Patti was concerned with the TV aspect of it. They're playing catch when she says, "if they like my report, maybe they'll turn it into a TV show."
She has a fantasy (or maybe Doug has a fantasy for her?) and it's basically Star Trek. It's like Patti just isn't as smart as we've always assumed. Listen, Patti...if you're doing a book report and the TV people like it, they will go to the the copyright holder of the book and you will get jack shit. If the book is public domain, the better for them and still jack shit for you. Also, are you really doing a Star Trek novel for your book report? That's actually kind of awesome. Tell me; is it a novelization or an original novel? Because I fucks with novelizations (follow, if you will. Like this blog, I took a break, but I'm about to get back to it as well...) and I've got a few Star Trek novelizations and we could start a book club if you're into that sort of thing.
Finally, we get a sneak peek at Roger's book report. There's a guy dressed like him and talking to a woman dressed like his mom, describing the situation that lead to them becoming rich. Roger yells, "cut!"
He demands that the actor make him sound cooler. Doug asks, "what book is this from?" A totally reasonable question.
A totally ridiculous answer. Roger has an autobiography now. Doug asks, "you wrote an autobiography?" Roger says no and points out the guy who wrote it and is apparently still writing it. Here's a preview of the next chapter.
Considering the previous mayor and what else we know about the town, this isn't so absurd that it couldn't happen, or maybe even hasn't already happened.
Judy walks over to Roger, tells him to wear a hat, and kisses him on the cheek.
Apparently she's helping Roger get an A so he'll fund her next project. Before Doug can express enough outrage at Judy, this happens.
I would love an entire episode about Doug, directed by Roger and starring these two.
Back at home, Doug is convinced his rocket model is not good enough and so into the trash it goes to hang out with its friend the Tell Tale Heart.
Mr. Dink has a suggestion, of course. He says his favorite book when he was a kid was Swift Bob and His Radio-Electric Alloy Piercer.
It includes plans to build your own radio-electric alloy piercer! If you're not Doug, you're probably wondering what a radio-electric alloy piercer is, but if you're Doug, you'll just go ahead and build one before finding out it's just an electric can opener.
Doug is thoroughly disappointed, as you can see by his face in the fantasy below.
And the class laughs.
And the world laughs, because this is going to be on TV and the whole world will be watching the show about Beebe Bluff of Bluffington.
I included this screen shot instead of the one with the astronauts and the alien because Doug imagines mountain climbers on Mt. Everest would be dressed like Santa, and what else would you do after such a dangerous climb than watch crappy television. Anyway, the can opener is tossed into the trash with the model rocket and the Tell Tale Heart.
Doug approaches Al and Moo next. They suggest doing the book report on The Time Machine. They have one he could use.
Doug is impressed and asked how it works. Al tries to bring Moo back but the handle breaks.
So he pushes the time machine across the floor to reveal a hiding spot beneath.
And that's the end of that idea. It would have been great for TV, really. It's a simple illusion. The biggest problem would have been the lack of a hole in the classroom floor, not the flimsy handle. That could easily be replaced. Anyway, Doug didn't make it and he didn't read The Time Machine, so it's probably better this way.
On his way home, Doug sees everyone working on their book report and it makes him feel worse, but he's got another stack of books to choose from.
He actually drops most of the stack and gets an idea from the last one he's holding. I guess he could have saved a lot of trouble if he'd actually looked at the books he was picking up and just stopped at the first one. Back at the hardware store, the clerk helps him with a few supplies. After assembling a costume, he tests his new book report on Judy.
She's just sitting in her room, trying to read, when Doug starts playing a disco parody of Stayin' Alive and dancing and flashing lights. No warning. She asks him what the book is about. He says, "I don't know, but here's the cover."
She says you can't report a book by its cover. He says he doesn't have time to read it and demands help with the choreography. She declines and says he's going to get an F. He has a fantasy that's a weird sort of short Disco failure of the opening credits of the show.
In his room, Doug says, "so what if I didn't read the book I'm doing my report on? What choice do I have?" Porkchop has a few ideas.
Doug dismisses the can opener and the rocket ship because he didn't read them as much as he didn't read Disco Flu.
"Sure, I read that, but everybody else's reports are so exciting, I'll look like a doof on TV."
The next day, some people are struggling to get their book reports inside. Willie White can't get through the front door without falling in the suit of armor. Roger and Beebe are both trying to get multiple moving vans to park in one regular-sized space, as if they're trying to prove they're both dumb as shit.
Beebe struts into class and everyone else acts like regular assholes trying to get into the shot.
Skunky tells Doug he's got a great report about Roger's autobiography. Doug tells him that Roger is doing his report about his own autobiography and points out the actors and trailer set outside, crushing Skunky's dream. So now, let's get to the reports.
Standing next to the suit of armor, Willie White says he was going to wear the armor but he kept falling down. Before he can finish saying his report is on King Arthur, the armor falls onto him. Boomer is doing his report on Little Women.
"They were so little, they were afraid of ants."
Ned's report is about H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man.
He just walks outside the classroom and says, "I am the invisible man." Considering the whole class was trying to come up with something to compete with Beebe's Treasure Island, I don't know how to thoroughly describe Ned's complete and total failure.
Here's Connie rocking out a song about The Scarlet Letter.
Patti gives a basic description of a black hole and uses an over-powered vacuum.
It sucks in her shitty solar system mobile and starts sucking in the rest of the class.
Fentruck read a book about his native country and attempted to demonstrate one of their customs where they chase a hog. Luckily, when he opens the crate containing the dangerous wild animal, it is merely annoyed, turns around, and lays back down.
Skeeter does his report on The Complete Works of Sigmund Freud. He is the ego!
And the Super Ego!
And the Id.
In the end, I don't think Skeeter gets enough credit for this report.
Ms. Kristal then says something about stepping outside for Beebe's report. Beebe says, "forget it," and points out the window. Her Treasure Island is sinking into her swimming pool. Ms. Kristal tells her she can just discuss the book, but she says, "no, I'm too upset. Besides I didn't read it." Roger takes this opportunity to lead everyone outside to watch his report.
But of course there's a problem. His actors are on strike.
Why didn't he pay them? Why doesn't he just pay them now? Ms. Kristal tells him to just tell us about his book and he says he didn't read it. It's a book about him that's supposed to be an autobiography and he just told his teacher he didn't fucking read it. Skunky steps up and says he read it.
Skunky finally figured it out. When everyone else is so focused on the presentation that they don't read their books, you rebel by reading a book, especially if it can barely be called a book.
So, it's finally time for Doug to present his book report.
Immediately, Roger is critical and Beebe is bored. Ms. Kristal quiets them and Doug begins.
Everyone really gets into it, and they all start imagining they're in the story. Doug stops just short of telling them the ending, and suggests they read it themselves. It's just three pages.
Beebe gets annoyed that the camera man isn't focused on her while the class cheers for Doug's presentation. Doug gets a well-deserved A.
He gave a great presentation of something he actually read. It's a quite a stretch to call Tell Tale Heart a book, but considering the reports his classmates did on books they didn't read, Ms. Kristal had to have been thrilled with anyone that actually read anything.
This episode ends on the actor playing Doug in the autobiography of Roger Klotz for some reason. Previously, when Roger needed them most, they were on strike because he hadn't paid them. Now that the book reports are over, he's apparently paying them and continuing the rehearsal or whatever it is they are doing.
It's me, Doug. Today I learned something really good for me and it made me a better person and that something is blah blah blah blah blah!"
Roger's ghostwriter really nailed Doug's character.