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1. First thoughts on 6x13: Okay, so you killed Aunt Edie. That's bad. But you kept her dog alive and let the Hecks bring her home. That's good!!
Second thoughts: oh god you're gonna give away this dog too, aren't you?

As it turns out, they keep the dog despite her constant whining to go back to the neighbors...ostensibly. But she was only seen in one episode after that, and otherwise never so much as mentioned. Is she still there? Why haven't they just given her to the neighbors if her only plotline is going to revolve around how she's desperate to go live next door?

2. Show, I see you trying to make me have feelings about Sue and Darrin breaking up over her breaking an engagement she didn't mean to accept in the first place, but that was really not a sad thing. That was more like beating cancer. I got great vicarious joy out of Mike repeatedly threatening to kill him and everyone yelling at Frankie for saying "oh, he's harmless!" in regard to the clod. Also I kind of hope Axl still punched him the shoulder for breaking up with her entirely when she suggested they continue regular dating vs. getting married the day after she graduated high scool.

3. I LOVED Axl's World Radio Day celebrations and his spectacular ability to pull off unconventional DEFINITELY NOT VALENTINE'S DAY gifts like a private bouncy castle. That is the best possible way to compromise between "girls says she doesn't want to celebrate Valentine's" vs. "everyone telling you no girl means it." Especially his response to "What are you getting me for Valentine's Day?", which is to tackle her to the floor of said bouncy castle and kiss her senseless. I continue to make the classic face of appreciation at all their interactions:


4. I'm also kind of enjoying the slow evolution of Axl and Sue's relationship from 95% "tormentor/victim" to more like 50% that, 50% cautious tolerance of each other, like classmates. With a 5% margin of error to treating her as an ally. After his one last temper tantrum about the possibility of her going to his school, of course.

5. I kind of hate how much I identified with Brick's very persistent "how do you kiss? No, what happens AFTER your lips touch? What do you do with your hands? EXPLAIN EVERY STEP WITH A FIVE-POINT DIAGRAM. This is extremely complicated, I need more guidance!"

6. One of my favorite moments (upon seeing Sue's financial aid package):


7. Finally...wait. Did I miss some backstory in how Axl got held back a grade at some point pre-series? Why is he turning 21 two years after graduating high school? If anyone should be 21, it's Darrin, who last I checked was a) in the same school class and Axl and b) explicitly referenced correcting Mike that he was 20 rather than 19 in spring 2014 due to having repeated a grade.

COME ON, SHOW. You have always been so unusually brilliant in understanding how American ages + school years work -- you even understand that Brick turns 13 in 7th grade -- that I don't understand how you screwed this up. If you wanted to do a Major Milestone Birthday episode, you had Sue turning 18 RIGHT THERE. You could have made a hilarious episode out of her trying something she's been waiting to do her whole life. Like voting registration, or something. Sue loves America SO MUCH, surely there's something funny about her build-up to the day she gets to vote for things.
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Separate Section: Finale Talk ("The Graduate")
Oh show. That was beautiful. THAT is how you do a finale.

I mean, sure, for the first 15 minutes I was getting increasingly upset about everything going wrong (I knew Disneyworld was a fluke!), and nothing is really ever going to make up for her yearbook photos being ruined and the Wrestlerettes apparently being disbanded forever or not getting a Perfect Attendance award despite frequently attending school against medical advice because she left campus for half an hour over lunch one day...that yearbook full of signatures from everyone who found her to have been a happy inspiration and super-optimist who made them smile made me break down crying. What a good fakeout for the lost yearbook. And the messages felt real, too! They sounded like things high school students would write. That prop is DEFINITELY going on my Wishlist of Impossible Things.

Having a musical montage of her high school career set to "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" did not in any way stop the flow of tears.

Also I really loved the dress she wore to her party. There have been a few moments during this binge where I've noticed she's actually wearing pretty and age-appropriate things, and even though she hasn't fully rounded the fashion corner yet, it's nice to see the few inroads.

Mike's awkward gift of calendars because "I thought maybe every year could be The Year of Sue" made me squee.

And then to top it all off, after an episode of "are they still together? who knows!" talk, Devin randomly ran into the Heck kitchen squealing with excitement and I instantly matched pitch as she jumped into his arms and wasted very little time smothering him with kisses. We only saw the double take from behind, but his face was still spectacular upon seeing her and promptly throwing hot dog bags to the side in order to catch her.

Crap, I think I'm invested. But I also think I can still access the emotional escape hatch if their inevitable breakup is pulled off as well as him and Cassidy*.

I think.

BUT WAIT THERE'S ONE MORE PART. I loved that last wonderful family shot of Frankie hugging all her kids together, despite Axl's "ugh, feelings" sentiments and complaining about Sue acknowledging how nice it was that he turned around on the way to see his girlfriend in order not to miss his sister's graduation. Awwww! It was just such a wonderful reminder about how important this show about family really is, and how good it's been despite being completely underappreciated by everyone, including its parent network. In case you're wondering, this ALSO made me cry happy tears even harder. If it had had to serve as a series finale, it totally could have pulled it off.

But I'm so glad it isn't.

Now, two more things:

1. But I also think I can still access the emotional escape hatch if their inevitable breakup is pulled off as well as him and Cassidy*
* = OR IF CHARLIE MCDERMOTT JUST DOESN'T COME BACK TO THE SHOW. Oh my god, I remembered hearing that he was leaving to star in a new pilot but I shrugged it off because the show and I were on what seemed to be a permanent break. Now I'm in full fledged panic mode. NO ONE WILL TELL ME IF THIS "SUPER CLYDE" IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. The latest info is that CBS passed but it was being "shopped around." Please fail. Please let failing mean he returns with series regular status and brings Recurring Devin with him. The internet has apparently deemed that this show will exist in the black hole of nothingness where Ghost Whisperer and Medium lived, devoid of spoilers or summer hiatus news or updates of any kind.

2. I looked up Devin (Gia Montegna) to see if I'd seen her before, and the first thing I saw was In The Land of Women as "Teenage Girl #3" to which I went OH OH OH I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!

Remember, I specifically said "I don't know who any of these girls are, but they were all a) better actresses than Stewart [and they also had more on-screen charisma than the woman playing Adam Brody's ex], and b) so realistic as typical teenagers that I rewound their single quick fangirl scene like 5 times because I was so impressed with all of their faces/enthusiasm/inflection"?? She has proven her worth, and proven me right by extension.

Also, ugh, she's going to be in an upcoming episode of Under the Dome so I guess I have to go back to watching that garbage show, barf.

For the record: the other two are Danielle Savre, who has 31 other credits to her name, many of them recurring characters and guest spots sprinkled all throughout a variety of shows formerly on my roster, and Kelsey Keel, who has inexplicably filmed nothing since this movie. It better be because she just decided not to audition, because otherwise I don't want to live in a world where Kristen Stewart is a movie star and Kelsey Keel isn't a screen actress at all.

Next year: I will say I am a tad nervous about what next year looks like when Brick is the only kid at home full time. I hope it means extra focus on the parents' marriage and not a starring role for the weirdo. Why do so many people love him? It literally boggles the mind.

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