Hello, Spongey here.
I think it’s time for another TV review, but this time it’s not from 2016! Infact, we’re going back to 2013, for something in the Bay Window category, rather than Review It up, thank god. We’ve done episodes that fail for various reasons, but we’re here to do one that fails entirely because of the story and pacing.
Yeah, that’s boring but I don’t care. And who better to bring us that kind of episode than Liv and Maddie? I kind of talked about this show in the Holiday reviews, but I suppose I can say more. As far as Disney Sitcoms go, this one is interesting as it’s close to a “Good” one.
It has a lot of those Disney Sitcom elements holding it back from even being Girl Meets World good, like over the top acting and one of the main characters being a big star, but it’s mostly a better one.
It’s a lot more genuine and can manage to mature in certain episodes. Sometimes it’s preachy but even that works since it shows they are showing to do deep messages. (See: Rate A Rooney).
But it also has that stupid title gimmick, so it’s hit or miss.
And here we have a miss. Now, I haven’t done and re-watched all of the show, so there could be a worse episode by my standards, but this is a flawed one. Flawed enough for a review. This was actually suggested by my pal Unknown over at http://nickanddisneyreviewed.blogspot.com/ so there you go. I’ve asked him for suggestions on bad Disney sitcom episodes, so it won’t be the last time he influences my review, but we’ll see how that goes later.
The only things you need to know is that this was only the 4th episode, which does explain it’s problems, as later episodes would be way better paced. So at least they learned their lesson. But it’s still worth a review, so let’s dive in.
This, is Steal-A-Rooney
Writers: Linda Mathious & Heather Macgillvray (If you’ve at least seen Kathy Kan A rooney, you know why their first names are bold)
The episode starts with Liv coming into the living room, and sees Maddie watching Basketball. She’s gearing up for a big game that Friday, and even Dad has her pumped up.
“It’s like I live with a family of bears’
I don’t have too much problems with this opening scene, or even most of the first act for that matter. It establishes how different they are, to get us into the main conflict. This is an episode where it’s main problem doesn’t become apparent until the ending, but it’s important to talk about the rest as well.
Liv asks Maddie to go with to the mall.
“I would love to go the mall with you except I hate the mall and I’m busy”
I do like that she genuinely wants to hang out with her sister. Like I said, the set up is fine, and hell the plot in general is good on paper. Maddie says that maybe it’s time to find Liv a real friend as Maddie is often too busy to hang out with her.
After some unrelated jokes, and the theme song, Mom approaches Liv at school (both parents happen to work there), as she heard about Liv’s quest for a friend. There is a reason it’s not called Friend-A-Rooney, but I do think that would have been a better title. …They did use it later, at least.
Not much happens with the Mom, so let’s move on to when Liv bumps into a girl named Ocean. Another name that indicates someone has weird parents. Surprisingly, she does not recognize Liv for her show and hits it off with her naturally.
“I’m into Up cycling”
Forshadowing for later episode! Ocean is a perky one and lives on a farm. She actually did become a full character for the series…until she randomly vanished and has not shown up sense. To be fair, her actress likely left for Mighty Med, where she ended up doing very little anyway. And now it’s technically over, sucks to be her.
So far things are pretty good, but now it’s time to begin our subplot. Like the C plot in Weekend with Inga, it’s better the main plot, but nothing special. Joey shows Parker his new Z-phone.
Wait, Z-Phone? That thing from ANT Farm? …So this got induction into the DCLAU 4 episodes in? Huh.
He’s pretty addicted to it.
“I haven’t seen Joey this excited since we got our pet hamster. He wouldn’t let that out of hands either. I hope we won’t have to bury that phone in the backyard too”
….That’s not funny.
Mom payed for the phone and Joey wants to pay her back, so he got a job at the mall food court. Should be fun, but back to the main story, where we start to get into the problems. Liv talks to Maddie about her new friend.
Then Maddie mentions Ocean’s cool backpack, which Liv never brought up. Liv never said anything about Ocean yet. I think you know where this is going.
“I sort of found the only girl in school whose friend doesn’t have a TV and sort of sent her your way?”
And here’s our main problem: The pacing. Technically, her motivations for doing this are understnable. After all, Ocean seemed to hit or with her naturally, and wasn’t faking or anything.
But the pacing hurts this because it just comes out nowhere, and is revealed WAY too quickly. They JUST met and this is being revealed. Hell, Disney spoiled it in the promos! Yeah, this isn’t actually our main conflict, which is a mistake as it alone could have been interested if paced well.
“You totally friend-dipulated the situation!”
Liv is a bit upset, and like anyone she’s too mad to listen to reason at the moment, so this bit is understandable Not so much what happens next in this plot. Back with Joey, he’s working at the fastest growing Carrot franchise in all of Wisconsin.
“How many carrot based franchises are there in Wisconsin?”
“Logic kills, Joey’
I imagine the writers say this a lot.
Not much happens here but at least it’s funny. The next day, Liv bumps into Ocean and tells her she knows Maddie sent her to her. She walks off without really listening to her. It helps that Ocean just says friends can made in different ways, instead of actually defending herself at all. Funny how bad writing can justify things.
Yeah, the pacing becomes pretty bad around here. Liv sees a tough looking chick and for whatever reason tries to start a conversation with her. Of all the girls, she picks the one Liv usually would not like because plot. At least she doesn’t act like a bitch to Liv and just leaves.
Maddie says this and says that was Kylie Kramer who is an infamous bad girl, kicked out of 3 schools. But of course, Liv doesn’t care because she doesn’t trust Maddie anymore. Once again, this makes some level of sense to an extent, but the pacing makes it so she’s being way too irrational and dumb for her own good.
She doesn’t come across as all that understandable at this point, because they just rush through it. I get that when you’re mad, you may not listen to reason, but this is pushing it. She runs to talk to Kylie, who doesn’t even hide who she is.
“I’m a different person now”
“You turned over a new leaf?”
“I got a new ID, I’m literally a different person”
She plans to skip school and Liv tags along. This is not understandable by any means. Being mad at Maddie is one thing, but Kylie pretty much wants to do something clearly bad and Liv has no reason to join her. It’s just forced.
Why is Kylie even letting Liv hang with her anyway? We’re given no real reason. She doesn’t seem to hate Liv even though she should. This could have been interesting if the rest was written differently.
And again, this is all happening way too quickly. She just met Kylie and all this is happening. But hey, we’re now only halfway so maybe the rest will go through this better. Even though we get no break before going into the next scene in this plot, where Ocean tells Maddie she heard Liv skipped school .Gossip travels fast when the plot needs it!
Finally, we get back to Joey, who asks for a promotion and he gets it. His boss is pretty cool as you can tell. But that’s all we get before moving on. Meh.
Conveniently for Liv, Kylie has chosen to go to the mall where we see they don’t hit it off that well. Kylie gives Liv some sunglasses that she just stole. They are nationally caught and they run, leaving the sunglasses there.
But with the worst timing ever, Maddie shows up and picks them up, and is mistaken for Liv. Wah wah. Eh, they do dress differently enough but for the sake of the plot, sure their twin-ness can cause this.
But once again, it just feels a bit rushed. We are give no real break during this plot before being hit with something really important. Oh, but this scene has a bigger issues you may pick up on by the end.
Later at home, Maddie takes the fall for Liv since her rep could be hurt by this. Finally, a character action I actually understand. This is a pretty minor offensive, as well as her first, but they decide to punish her harshly because Parker says their usual punishment is getting boring.
Slightly forced but it’s not a big deal. She is benched at the game going on that night, which is pretty harsh for something like that.
“You can’t bench my star player”
Yeah, you’re the coach, you have more power than she does! But of course he doesn’t fight her with logic at all. Because as we said, logic kills.
Hey wait a minute, Maddie can tell them Liv did it without it spreading to any gossip blogs or anything. I get not telling the authorities but I’m sure you’re parents will at least understand since you tend to be truthful.
…Wait, Maddie thinks Liv stole them at the moment. Damn it, this actually makes sense for now. But the Dad thing is still dumb!
After just a very quick bit with Joey, Liv talks to Maddie and sets the record straight, and overall they just finally clear the air.
“You tried to make Ocean my friend, you tried to protect me from Kylie and just now you took the wrap for me. Just because you were right in every single on of those instances does not mean you know what’s best for me”
She wasn’t right on the first one. Also, did you just point why this doesn’t really work? And before we can dare to actually go deeper, we get back to Joey. At this point, do we need even need this? Anyway, he finds out he accidently dropped his phone into the food and tries to get it back. But it’s too late and it’s ruined. I…really don’t care.
Liv tells Mom and Dad what really happened, so Maddie get be un-benched. But she will still be punished for lying, even though she had very good reason for dong what she did, which never gets to say because she is conveniently not in this scene, technically.
Liv is punished too, which makes a bit more sense but two weeks grounding is a bit too much and she doesn’t even get to explain herself. And worst part is, this is the end of the plot! Joey closes us for some reason.
Ontop of this ending showing all the pacing problems, there’s one other issue you may have noticed: Kylie vanishes after that previous scene with her! She exists the episode almost as quickly as she came in. She’s never punished and nothing happens with her.
Like everything else, she was completely forced for the sake of the plot. Ocean doesn’t even appear to give Liv a proper friend. This episode almost feels unfinished with it ending on a lame joke of her reaction to being grounded.
Anyway, may as well say how this thing ends. Parker is able to save Joey’s phone but he says he had to make some medications to make it work. So Parker has to wear this silly helmet…but it still doesn’t work as it’s all just a cruel prank by Parker, as he takes a pic of this.
The end. Figures we’d end with pointless torture brought on by someone being a jerk for no reason. Lame.
Yeah, this review was on the Filler-y side but I think I needed to highlight one that fails on writing alone. Tons of KidCom episodes fail due to writing, so I had to spotlight at least one. But yeah, this episode was bearable, and not too unfunny but still fails for reasons I went into.
On paper, some of the story seems fine. I like most of the concepts here, and the story is at least focused on character development to an extent. But as I keep saying, the pacing pretty much kills it.
This episode is more concerned with hitting the plot points than letting the story follow naturally. Each plot point sounds okay on it’s own, but the pacing makes each bit fail. The main problem is that so much was crammed in.
Each major plot line here would be a good episode on it’s own, but putting them together just makes it muddled. It’s like they had two options for a Liv friend plot, and just did both without really thinking.
As a result, both Liv and Maddie act irrationally for poorly explain reasons, and in whatever they learn is not shown well. It ends so abruptly that it shows me how they cared about this plot.
It’s not like it was for Comedy, as this is about the story, with the jokes just being there. This was a poorly written story all around. The subplot is better, but mostly pointless and doesn’t really save it.
But at least this thing was well intentioned, and any character problems are due to the story rather than anyone being hateable. As it stands, it’s a tamer dud than Bay Window, if only because it doesn’t represents any bigger issue with the show.
At least this was early on, and the writing got better. But this one is still a pretty weak blemsish. Overall, this is a decent plot ruined by very poor pacing that makes everything rushed, and ruins any decent character motivations that exist.
I’m sure there are worse episodes for this show (I’d like suggestions if possible, just remember my standards for bad episodes), but this is a good showcase of a common problem with these shows.
It’s bearable, but still pretty weak.
Hopefully my next two TV reviews should make up for this being weak. Not sure which one will be next, but one will animated, and the other will shake up our game a bit.