Hello, Spongey here.
Time for our first TV Review of 2017! I wanted to do this in January but I got lazy so here it is. Today we’ll be another double feature. Yeah, I’ll try not to do as many of these going forward but in this case I felt I had to given the levels of bad we’re dealing with here.
Both are bad in ways I find to be interesting especially given the show we’re talking about. I already talked about Lab Rats Elite Force back in October in regards to it’s Halloween episode, but I have to go over some of this again because this show is very interesting.
Because when it comes to the scripted Disney Sitcoms, this is their first one seson wonder. Yes, really. Even I Didn’t Do It and Corey in the best anime ever made it to season 2 before getting the axe.
Some of their failed experiments like that prank show and So Random got 1 Season but that’s to be expected given what they were. This was a spin off of 2 pretty big shows and it had only 1 Season.
Hmm, a show combining two hit shows that the Network expected to milk a lot out of but only got 1 season. ….History really does repeat itself. Thankfully this show was a lot better. When you get down to it, it was about as hit or miss as the shows it spun off from.
Lab Rats and Mighty Med could have really some surprisingly good dramatic stuff and went to places I was not expecting for a Disney XD show, but they also could have dumb comedy and flanderization could get bad.
I’m very glad Adam wasn’t part of this show, is all I’m saying.
Elite Force was about the same, the good and bad things just stuck out slightly more due to only having one season. Honestly, I think it would have improved had it gone on. Maybe, you never know.
Still, it did stuff to like especially in the more dramatic moments, for the most part. The comedy parts tended to be more hit or miss and that’s where some of the problems came from. But we’ll discuss those as we get into the episodes.
Some of the problems the show had when it comes to comedy and characterization (and even story in one case) are highlighted in these episodes. These are issues these shows have always had but these take these up a bit.
Although even with these episodes, the show was still decent enough to go on longer, especially since it had a cliffhanger ending. Yes, really. It’s part of Disney’s plan to axe most of their shows so no one watches their network anymore.
What, it’s the only other reason so many of their shows are getting the axe? Once Liv and Maddie ends, I’m not sure what the fans are gonna do. But anyway, onto two episodes that give Face Off a run for it’s money….the 2nd one at least.
The first is Bad but not THAT bad and 2nd is very bad. Yeah, this should be fun. Let’s go over the tame one first, which came earlier.
This, is Follow the Leader
Writer: Ken Blankstein
He also wrote the other episode. Ouch.
The episode starts with Chase entering a room…only to find Prinpcial Perry there. Oh boy, we’re off to a good start. I’ve discussed her before way back in the XD Sitcoms post and there I had mixed feelings on here as sometimes her being a terrible person was funny and sometimes it wasn’t.
My feelings have not changed since then. Only I think lesser of her because the writers clearly like her waaaay more than I did. Everytime they had a chance to either develop her or ditch her, they kept her on. She was the first to discover their secret, then she went with them to the Bionic Island.
She added so little and was such a nuisance, I kept wondering why they put up with her, especially once the world knew their secret and she no longer had any leverage. I was very glad when she was ditched come Elite Force…but now she’s her for the Spinoff Cameo. At least it’s only a one off..
She’s here for a vacation (no explanation of how the island or school will deal without her, or wherever she works now) and she happens to be from this city, because why not. She plays around with a weapon (to be fair, who kept that lyng around to begin with) and zaps the elevator lift thing, which traps them there.
We haven’t hit the intro yet and Perry has done nothing but make dumb jokes and make things worse. Why is she here, again? She keeps blasting it and I wonder why Chase doesn’t take it away from her, like a logical person would do.
They get a mission alert but of course Chase can’t meet up with them or even contact them. It’s a pretty urgent situation so they have no time to look for him, which is fair enough. After the intro, we cut to later as the Hyper Lift gets fixed.
It conveniently happens just as the others get back from the mission.
“What is she doing here? Oh sorry, didn’t mean to say it like that…What is IT doing here?”
Okay, that was funny. But seriously, throw her out. By the way, she has very little bearing on the actual plot besides kickstarting it. Speaking of, the mission went very well. Wish we could have actually seen it.
Skylar took charge and turned out to be a good leader. They do at least explain what she did and it seemed like she came up with a smart plan and was a good Chase replacement. Again, we don’t see it but at least we have more an account of what happened than I expected.
PERRY: Yeah, they really need you.
Thanks for hammering in the obvious. Yeah, it’s that kind of plot which has been known to be done badly. It’s done badly although in different ways than I expected. You’ll see. Later, Oliver and Kaz are playing Jenga (they call it something else, but it’s Jenga) with cups when Bree coms in.
Why is Bree getting the best lines so far?
Chase comes in and apparently Kaz and Oliver needed help with something which Skylar already took care. Why are the important things she does done off screen? Show, don’t tell! To be fair, Skylar herself is written okay, as she rightfully points out that just helped out when needed and when she’s on screen, she’s written like a normal person and Chase’s reactions seem to be unfounded.
Speaking of him, it’s time to start addressing him. Chase was pretty much the butt monkey on Lab Rats, but sometimes they would balance that out by giving him a bit of an ego so having Adam around sort of put him back to earth. But usually the problem is that it would go too far and he would too much of a butt monkey.
This episodes goes too far in the other direction, by Flanderizing him into a huge asshole. He tells her that he is the mission leader around here and she should back off. They aren’t even attempting to have him be sympathetic so far and just painting as a jerk who thinks she’s replacing him when clearly she is not.
It gets worse as does the other minor issue we’ve seen. Skylar stands her ground which is cool until Perry pops up to remind us that Skylar is awesome.
“You know what Perry? You’re the reason this happened, so pack your bags and get out!”
Finally, someone starts making sense!
“Okay, I guess I’ll stay with the one friend who will never leave me. Loneliness”
FAKE AUIDNECE: Hahahahha
Not even the fake audience is falling for this. Also, screw you. In the next scene, Skylar is packing her stuff while Perry just watches.
“Aren’t you gonna pack your stuff?”
I hate you.
“I don’t get why Chase and Bree don’t like you”
….You’re an idiot. And after Perry acknowledges it and is okay with it, we move on. K. They get another mission alert and they must go take care of it. However, Skylar seems to be missing although we know she’s in that area I don’t recall the name of.
They don’t bother checking that area Chase was in when he vanished, although Chase would stop them from looking in it. Oh yeah, we’ve reached the part where the episodes lost me. Skylar tries to leave but the hyper lift is stuck.
And then it turns Chase turned it off, on purpose.
Oooooh boy, here we go. As I said, this where they lost me. Chase has deliberately trapped Skylar just so he can be the mission leader. Do I even need to explain why this is bad? Chase can be jerk-ish but this is just going too far.
I mean, just wow. Most takes on this plot will have the problem of the replacement being too glorified and treating him like more of a jerk than he really is. This has the opposite problem of skipping over any sympathetic elements this may have and just making a huge dick who can’t stand anyone being better than him.
Up to this point I could be okay with for the sake of humor but this is just taking a step too far. Even if he will learn this lesson, doing it this way just really loses me. This is indeed the worst part of the episode but there’s other issues left to get to.
They get to the mission site and are not happy about not finding Skylar in time. There’s jokes about them wanting to try again instead of letting Chase lead and now we have another problem. It was a minor one before but it comes into play around here.
Skylar herself is written fine, as with her they adress she just helped when needed, which fits with how Chase is handled. …But everyone else treats her like Jesus for doing a few smart things and then act like dicks to Chase.
At this point, Chase has done anything to deserve it but this issue started earlier and they don’t know what he did. So on one side you rightfully acknowledge Skylar is just doing the right thing….but on the other side she is this amazing person and is way better than Chase.
You can’t have it both ways!
Back with Skylar, she and Perry get out using the underground tunnels. Which is Perry’s idea, making me wonder why they didn’t do that before. The other manages to save everyone and we go back to sucking Skylar’s …dick, so to speak.
Chase is being egoistical in this scene but it doesn’t make this nay less annoying. Skylar and Perry pop up as the tunnels lead to here, because why not. Part of the roof of the place collapses which traps Skylar, Chase and Perry behind some rubble.
“We are an Elite Force”
Roll credits! …Sorry, had to do that.
“What would Chase or Skylar do?’
“Well I know one of them would be beautiful”
Chase does have his fangirls. Also, Oliver, stop, I’ll get to you in the next episode.
Perry point blank tells Skylar Chase locked her in Mission Control on purpose. No idea how she figured that out but okay. Then we almost get to the interesting moment that is the reason this is Not THAT bad but still kind of bad.
Chase admits to it and I’m fully expecting Skylar to just wail on him for the horrible thing he did but spoilers that never happens. At the same time, the others figure out how to get rid of the rubble: Take out a certain one that will get them to the other side without toppling the whole pile.
Yes, just like that game from earlier. Proper foreshadowing? Whoa, maybe the writer knows how to craft a story after all! It was a tad predictable but it;s something.
“Except when we play, almost no one dies”
And a funny line comes with it!
“That’s genius, Bree”
“I told you to move a rock, Settle down”
It’s too late to get good! Then we have that moment I disccused.
“I’m sorry. I was afraid you were gonna take my job…When I saw how the team responded to you, I just panicked”
“It’s just a title chase”
“Not to me. Without that title, I don’t know who I am”
Normally I’d get mad right away due to the cheap attempt at sympathy but I almost want to respect it. It feels close to genuine and it sort of makes sense on some level. It’s an attempt to write a real story, which puts this above some of the episodes I’ve reviewed.
But it still fails for a pretty simple reason. What he did was waaay too bad to match up with this. Every moment with him showed him as a jerk, and there’s hidden depths and there’s just grabbing stuff out of your ass.
This is the latter. It doesn’t hit at all because it doesn’t match with what we’ve seen, and it’s way too little to late. This moment is all of what you get, as they are rescued right after. I’ll say more in a sec though.
Skylar decides not to tell them what Chase did and hardly even reacts to Chase’s little speech and doesn’t get too mad at him.
“I get it. Because once I almost lost my identity and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.”
Yeah…no. If you’re identity is tied to a title, that’s not a good thing. Skylar’s identity was tied to her powers and her problem was much bigger in that regard. Chase’s is tied to his title according to him and someone taking charge is no big deal.
And did I mention how he’s waaay too much of a jerk for this to work? It’s far from the worst attempt at sympathy but it falls so flat because it just doesn’t match up with what we’ve seen so far.
Also, while the rest avoided making Skylar herself “too’ good, this just makes he forgive Chase for being an asshole for no reason because she’s perfect and amazing. That’s the moral, Skylar is amazing and Chase is the worst. Even their attempts at making him sympathetic fail!
Oh and rushed climax was rushed. But we’re not done. Chase announces that there will be no more team leaders, and everyone will be equals so anyone can step up when needed. Huh, not a bad conclusion to be honest.
See, this is why this one’s not THAT bad. There’s at least an attempt to tell a good story, and some parts do work. You failed, but you at least tried….Then Chase says he’s letting Perry stay because we can’t end on a good note.
She helps once and suddenly you forget that she’s kind of awful? Then again, awful acts seem to be no big deal in this episode. We’re done here. This gets a C+. They tried but it didn’t work and I’ll say more in the big wrap up.
We get the tame bad one out of the way so onto the very bad one, where only a couple minor prevent it from being Bottom 5 Materiel. Oh yeah.
This is The Intruder.
The episode starts with the teens hanging around, with Oliver and Kaz making hot dogs on a rake. Already I get to touch on a bit of the Flanderization going on. In Mighty Med, Kaz was the dumb one with Oliver being the smarter but awkward one. Typical dynamic but it was there.
While that does show up here, they sometimes act like the exact same character. I honestly could not tell the difference between them in the previous episode or this one. Oliver is not smart at all in these episodes and his only one unique trait…and oh boy, we’ll get to it.
“Wow, you actually made random tubes of animal parts even more disgusting”
I think Bree may have been the best character on this show. Oh, and someone just used the rake to clean the guitars. Grade A humor. Skylar calls them out for using their powers on such dumb things but she makes the mistake of saying “you boys” in her sentence, which makes them point out that the girls do this too. They don’t target specific people or even this act, but the boys and girls.
You know where they’re going with this and it ain’t pretty.
“I propose a challenge. Guys Vs Girls to see who can go the longest without using bionic abilities or super powers. Last man or woman standing wins”
And there we go. This kind of plot tends to be rather mixed, both the Boys vs Girls and “who can go longest without doing a thing” plot. This does both and gets them both wrong. Why did this even need to be about gender?
This could been about the individuals and how they deal with not using their powers for dumb things. Instead, they focus more on the other aspect. But hey, this can work too if handled well enough.
Spoilers, they do not. At all.
Chase calculates the odds of the girls winning.
“How exactly did you calculate those odds?”
Okay, that was funny with how they got Chase out of the plot so early. But it is slightly forced given so he can do a subplot which starts after the intro. We’ll be skipping over it but I would to talk about it.
This kid keeps getting into mission control because he’s pretty smart and they try to keep him out but long story short, problems arise and he proves his worth enough to be invited to visit anytime.
While this plot is nothing special, it’s….fine. The only two problems are when it interacts with the main plot although that is that plot’s problem more than anything. And….well,…i don’t like to poke fun at the acting for kids, especially on these shows…but the kid can’t act.
Okay, maybe it’s more his voice/speech than the acting which I know he can’t help. But he’s supposed to be his smart kid who acts like he’s better than everyone, because he kind of is given his smarts.
And his acting does not sell that for even a second. It’s so phony,yet we’re supposed to think he’s this smart guy. It’s not great but more tolerable than the main story. He appears in the next episode….than vanishes never to be seen again even though they treated him like a big deal.
Maybe he was supposed to be in the next season but maybe you could have fit him in the finale if he’s important at all. Told you these can show problems with the show’s plot sometimes. Anyway, we’ll touch on this plot when it touches the other story. And yes, the episode is named after the subplot…sort of.
The Boys Vs Girls story has more character and more to it but the other is technically more important to the show and gets the title. Yet each take turns being more important rather than it being equal, or obviously in favor of one.
When I can’t tell what the main plot is, that’s a problem.
Anyway, Bree is out right away as she runs fast when told that Harry Styles is outside. Is 1D is even relevant enough anymore for that joke? Also, way to kick out the best character right away.
“That was low”
I agree but still better than most of what we get from them in this episode. Yeah, it’s like Cofee Talk where no one seems to like each other anymore. Not quite as bad but still. Thankfully, Bree sticks around to help Skylar because even the writers know she’s the only person giving us funny lines in this.
After more subplot, Bree uses her invisibility (because sometimes they get new powers cuz why not) to take Kaz’s toast. ….This isn’t even part of the competition, and he hasn’t done anything in this scene. You’re just being a bitch.
Well, great now Skylar has to be the best character in the main plot .Oliver is watching a video he made of…Skylar gargling mouthwash.
“I’m a weird dude, we’ve been over this/”
Ugh, we gotta go over this now. This is his only unique trait in this episode, being incredibly creepy towards Skylar. He’s always had a crush on her and since she is more aware in this show, the writers had him be more overt about it.
And oh god, is his Flanderization at his worst in this one. It’s not even that big a part of the plot, it’s for a lot of very not funny jokes. He acts like Oliver and more…well his character from ANT FARM, just a tad less dumb.
Oh,and he gets with her in spite of this a couple episodes later. Didn’t I just get off this shit in Not Cool?
They do a few quick things to try to get the others to cave, and Oliver gets out when Bree tosses his phone off the balcony and he flies to get it. Don’t have anything to say to that except the girls are being way more underhanded so far. Yeah, as I said, no one is likable here which can work in this plot if it’s funny but it’s not.
After another creepy joke, Skylar smashes his phone. Funny reaction but at this point he deserves much worse than that. See, there she had a better reason at least.
“I find you creepy, we’ve been over this”
After ore subplot, Bree tosses some of Kaz’s stuff off the roof. I just noticed that the boys have done one thing against them so far. This is a very equal challenge so far. Seriously, this plot works best when either the escalation is faster and funnier or they both get equal blows in. One side is winning or given too many chances, too quickly.
The boys figure that they need to get Skylar out pretty soon. Oliver plans to freeze her thus forcing her to break herself out. Okay, that’s not even fair, that would be for a good reason, not something stupid.
Then Kaz he can’t bring himself to do because…Skylar walks in and he likes her. Ugh. Now it’s time for the plots to collide. For reasons not worth getting into, Chase becomes magnetic in a room made out reinforced steel. You can imagine what happens next.
Douglas (Yeah, Donald is out for most of the show because reasons and Douglas is typically in his place. No idea where he went in the previous ep though) and AJ, the kid create a human shield around him and go upstairs where there is less metal.
They explain what happened and mention that they must keep up the sheil to preveent everything in the room from hitting Chase.
“I’m not hearing a problem”
NORTY: Does anyone like each other anymore?!
I’m going to use that “Clip” a lot in the future, I bet.
Douglas has to fix the problem but he must break the shield, so the others must use their powers to stop the metal objects. Given their little contest, that’s not gonna happen….but they put it on hold to help Chase.
Yep, the main plot is dropped, including the point of it, to help the subplot. They aren’t naturally colliding, one is pretty much stopped for the moment. That is not good writing. Oh, and I like how the AJ plot now has way more danger. Why isn’t it the main plot, again?
They help him and the contest is back on. Even when they met, it’s so short it may as well not even have happened. The subplot wraps up after this and we have only 1:31 left in the episode. Really.
How can you screw up the balance of two plots so badly?
Oliver meets with Kaz and wants to smoke some weenies (that sounds wrong) but they sort of have that thing going on. But Oliver assures Kaz the girls are gone doing …a thing. Yeah, after Kaz does a thing, it turns out to be Bree using that face mask from Face Off.
Because referencing other bad episodes is a great idea.
“The real Oliver is curled under the sink waiting for me to brush my teeth”
Bree then tosses the rake off the roof. Because she’s just a bitch with no motivation now. Kaz flies after the rake and the episode ends. And so one side wins despite both being equally bad, and in some ways that side has been way worse.
The boys got one whole blow in and the girls did dirty things that had nothing to do with the competition. They also acted way more smug about the whole thing. Who the hell was I supposed to be rooting for?
If someone is going to win in this kind of plot, we must know how to root for in the context of the story. So I can at least get madder at the winner or even see irony in the worst person wining or some crap.
Whatever, let’s wrap this up.
Follow the Leader tries in some places, but just falls flat. The whole ends up being a circle jerk for Skylar, which makes me think Oliver wrote it. They try to make Chase sympathetic but it fails because there was no hint of it before and he was way too much of a smug jerk.
In some bits that can work but they try wildly different tactics when doing this kind of this. It also had a bad case of show don’t tell. We hardly see Skylar do anything that impressive, and hell, we never see how Chase is as a leader in this episode.
Here’s how I would write it: Open on a mission where everyone is present and maybe Chase starts being a tad too bossy and Skylar is being a bit more constructive and overall seems like a better leader to them, thus leading to her taking charge more and everyone likes her more.
The rest needs work, but that’s a much better start that gives us a better taste of why they like her more and such. Instead, the story comes across as messy, even though it at least is an attempt at a story.
Also, Perry is mostly useless and not funny..
The Intruder is a flat out mess. The only reason I don’t hate it more is that the actions aren’t as bad as in say Coffee Talk and there are some funny lines, although usually from the acting more than the writing.
Everything else fails. Even the subplot, while fine, has problems, is nothing special, and adds to the overall problem. I think it was supposed to be the main plot, but the subplot just got too much. It’s like the other characters should have been involved!
It’s a competition plot where we don’t know who to root for, yet it has a winner who acts way wore. Sure, Oliver is creepy but in terms of the competition itself, they only get one blow in, and the girls sometimes get almost too unfair.
And yes, the female side being treated as better and winning does have plenty of bad implications. And I tend to like the female characters more on this show!
I could forgive certain small things in a competition plot but this gets nothing right. You need to set up who is supposed to be the one we root for, but even with the girls’ acting worse, no one is truly “Good” yet someone wins!
It’s the Dan Schneider school of writing where you take a plot and then take out any substance it could have had, then make it as messy as you possibly can make it. Actually, he himself has done this plot better in Drake and Josh.
The very very very ending joke was dumb but in that episode, they felt like they were on more equal footing and they both rightfully lost in an amusing way. There’s likely a better example but that shows how this plot can work a lot better.
Instead, they did it in one of the worst ways you could do. Even if you don’t quite care who wins, you should write it a lot better. And while the comedy has it’s moments, Oliver’s crap kills it. What the hell did they do to him?!
Follow the Leader is mediocre with messy writing but it tries and bless them, they tried. But with this, my god did they not care. I don’t want a super tight story, but something better than this would be nice.
If it were not for the actions not being the worst and some amusing moments, this would be a few notches higher on my Shit-o-meter. As it is, it’s still pretty bad. 2016 was full of surprises, wasn’t it?
Intruder Grade: D
Well, that was fun. Not sure when the next TV Review will be or what. I have ideas, but we’ll see what happens. Thankfully, LBEF did improve after these duds. Too bad it had to get the axe.