Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jessie Reviewed: Jessie Goes to Hollywood/Ooray for Ollywood (#4.20, series finale)

Just enjoy it. It feels like a party every day.

Them and their obligatory meta jokes.

What is it? multi-cam kidcom, half-hour (24 minute) length - which really tells you how much they actually care about this show when it's the friggin' series finale
Where did it air? A network that clearly stopped giving a damn about what had been its flagship show for four years.
Who stars in it? No one really. But Debby Ryan, Peyton List, Skai Jackson, Karan Brar, Cameron Boyce and Kevin Chamberlain followed some stage blocking and someone just happened to catch it on film. Also, there's some video evidence of the elusive Christina Moore.
Why are we reviewing this? Because we clearly care more about the Jessie series finale than anybody else, including the people who are actually friggin' in it. Also, how Nick rates the series' regression by season is so friggin' true.

So, that's a wrap on 101 episodes, four seasons and just as many years. In terms of raw episode production code count Jessie now stands as the second-longest running live-action show in Disney Channel history, behind just Wizards of Waverly Place with an ultimate episode count of 108 (including the post-script 1-hour special Alex vs. Alex) and ahead of That's So Raven and Good Luck Charlie by exactly one episode, and I believe will be ahead of Austin & Ally by one episode as well (we'll have to wait for Liv and Maddie and Girl Meets World). 

So......this show. I was going to post my thoughts separately, but to save time, I'll just do it here. But seriously, Disney Channel? A show that lasted four years and 101 episodes could not have gotten a freaking one-hour series finale? It's just ridiculous. 

Yeah, sorry about that, when I first made this thing I didn't see your post. I read it and I really liked what you have to say (actually I was kind of blown away by it, no really) so if you don't mind I'll just go ahead and copy-paste it here:

Unknown has already touched on this show enough and what it has meant to him over the years, so now it's my turn. From one New Yorker to a New York-based show, it's time for the big one. It's time to address one of the biggest shows on Disney Channel in the past five years. It's time for me to give my last thoughts on Jessie.

I got around to watching the series finale which aired last night. As I sat there watching it, I realized how much it failed from being 22 minutes. Call it old-school thinking or whatever, but if a TV show is on its way out, it always deserves a one-hour slot. There's only so much you can do with a regular episode and unless your writing is just naturally dense, you need to have enough time to close the book. That's So Raven is a weird case since its finale was never really official. Suite Life, Hannah Montana, Wizards, A.N.T. Farm, Good Luck Charlie, iCarly, Big Time Rush, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, even Ned's Declassified. All of these shows got the one-hour series finale treatment, and Jessie lasted a considerably long time in today's era. So why not? I guess somebody out there just had no respect for the show. You can tell they squeeze in a lot of material for 22 minutes, and it just doesn't work for a lot of shows.

Drake & Josh got a proper extended finale episode and a movie (granted, it was a Christmas movie but still, it gave even further closure). BTR's finale was at least advertised as a legit movie. Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana even got theatrical movies, though I suppose that's a bit much to ask for Jessie (I guess even a DCOM is a bit much since they never gave one after Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!) 

I remember watching the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (yeah ultra-nerding out time). It was...pretty damn crappy, especially given how great the rest of the series was (way better than even Babylon 5 and I don't care what you fanboys say). Most of it was just self-congratulatory circle-jerking, something that's way beneath such a great sci-fi series that lay down the foundation for a lot of 21st century sci-fi so far, moreso than what people might think. But it still provided some sense of closure. Even the iCarly finale, which, again, was mostly just self-congratulatory circle-jerking in that manner that's inevitable when you have a single showrunner almost run the whole network for you, was at least a finale. I really want to know what gives with Jessie, unless they thought 1.) we have Bunk'd so whatever or 2.) everybody just wanted to move on that badly (Cameron to Gamer's Guide, Debby to anywhere but here, everybody else to Bunk'd). 

I watched it and there was this uncomfortable feeling the whole time. A constant feeling of discomfort. Maybe it was because I was watching a half-hour series finale, maybe it was because this type of humor is beginning to wear thin on me, maybe it was because this show technically is still happening with a spin-off that acts like it is just the summertime, but honestly, I felt a little embarrassed watching it. I was at least expecting the show to be a little different since I had tuned out a while back, but it was hard to sit through at points, and depressing at the very worst. Jessie apparently auditioned for the role of a depressed actress looking for a big break, but she was "too real" for the part and made the director sad. Okay, that's pretty awful. Jessie only got the part in that movie because Mrs. Ross is the producer and insisted on getting her in so she could spend more time with the kids. Then she fully intends on leaving them again until she has a talk with Bertram. Also, everyone knows Bertram is lazy but they keep him around because the kids love him. What? A lot of stuff in this episode just had me scratching my head. You know which show did the cynical butler thing a lot better? The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Geoffrey was never a big fan of his job and made it very clear in every episode he appeared in, but he was the best butler you could find and he worked hard for whatever he received. He actually worked for money. Bertram is basically just a fat guy that occasionally does a small amount of work and lounges around for money. If the show was smart enough, they would actually have Bertram do his job well with an air of cynicism and smugness about him. But we never got that. He's just someone the family likes keeping around. What?

You know what the funny thing is? There is a Disney Channel character who exists exactly as you describe Geoffrey. In fact, and this is probably going to come as an incredible shock, but such character exists on this show, right here. That character's name is Bertram Winkle (or at least Bertram before they gave him the middle name - fun fact: Jessie's last name was referred backstage as "O'Keefe" because apparently all redheads are Irish, sure, whatever, before Cattle Calls and Scary Walls gave us Prescott). If you watch Creepy Connie Comes A'Callin' (which will be on next week), he shows a lot of pride and skill in his butler work. He wasn't even all that lazy, he just hated kids. Depending on the writer he'll go from being lazy to hard-working from one episode and back to the next, or even again in the same exact episode! Consistency, amirite?

I saw the forced dramatic scene where the kids hike all the way up to the Hollywood sign which no one notices at any point and they get stuck. Then Jessie gets there with some cartoony plan in what takes a few minutes or even less based on what we see. Some hideous direction with that scene as well, especially since we know nothing will happen to the kids. And because of what the kids did, the Hollywood sign is broken and we never see anyone even talk about it. The show even acknowledges this by saying, "Yeah. This shit happens every week at least twice. We don't really care, we just go with it." That's it. The series finale reminded me of why I stopped watching the show in the first place. At some point, it became too wacky, too over-the-top, too awkward for its own good. Emma believes the solar system has 15 planets even though she was nowhere near that stupid when she entered the science fair herself. Ravi still has that accent for some reason even though he has lived in New York for quite a while now. Luke is still Luke. The same dumb, hygienic-challenged Luke who wants to do things to Jessie. Nothing has changed about this show or its characters or its experiences. Nothing changed, I mean. I............

...and, um, you just kind of trail off there. I hope you finish it, it's real good. I especially am interested in hearing about all the details of what Luke wants to do to Jessie, I hope it lines up perfectly with what Fanfiction.net says (though that stuff usually also involves Emma, Christina and...well, it's pretty much 50 Shades of Red at that point). 

I'd like to talk more about how the show has evolved specifically, but as I mentioned before I think I've got one more retrospective up my sleeve for that. Right now I just want to focus strictly on the episode (which is why I kept my post separate from Mike, but I wanted to make sure he had the podium all to himself for this because I really do want you to read his words on this).

Just a quick note on the title: I've seen this listed both as Ooray for Ollywood (as it's listed on my programming guide) and as Jessie Goes to Hollywood (what it's actually listed on the Disney Channel website). So, um, ok, whatever. It matches the care of everything else in this.

So this is how the series finally ends - because Christina finally just gets jealous of the nanny and making her take an acting gig is less messy than just offing her, because after all this is Disney Channel, not Castle (again, a show Christina Moore has actually been in, as the murder suspect no less). And then stuff happens, and then as Jessie is finally on the verge of success the kids run her over and she dies (not my theory, someone's from Twitter, but hey it's one I'll fully roll behind).

More specifically, we have Christina being so out of touch with her own kids she confuses their likes and hobbies when she brings them gifts, then Zuri has the same art project Emma had back in the pilot, then we have more callbacks to the pilot, then Jessie mentions fearing revolving doors which is a callback to the first season Christmas episode. And apparently Tony is out of a job too because Mrs. Chesterfield wants to install automatic doors, so that provides a convenient excuse for him to have to quit his job and potentially stalk Jessie to her new gig, but that is a predictable contrivance that will never, ever happen on a show like this

I would also like to point out that the very last episode of the CBS sitcom The Millers also had a plot riffing on George R.R. Martin. That episode wasn't planned to be the last episode and that show was yanked off the air after one and a half seasons. Not even a full two, just one and a half. Maybe riffing on George R.R. Martin isn't a good omen. I guess he's got, I don't know, some sort of spell cast on him to make Game of Thrones parodies dangerous waters for comedy television.

The fantasy genre outside of GoT isn't even that hot. You can tell when a genre is flaming hot when nearly every damn network, especially the broadcast networks (the true barometers of television trends) start having to have their own clone. Now, I could be very mistaken and feel free to call me an idiot in the comments but the only blatant GoT clone I can think of is Vikings on History Channel which, for all its good qualities, is still such a laughably tryhard copycat series as ever I had seen that I can barely contain my sides from being launched into geosynchronous orbit (especially in its last season - oh, and if you happen to disagree with me, again, feel free to call me an idiot in the comments section). I'm really confused why Old Nanny Pammy (that's not even mine that's from /tv/) thought this is exactly the role either Jessie Prescott as a character or Debby Ryan as an actress is born to play. As I said in my last retrospective, there's not a lot of distinction between Jessie Prescott as a character and Debby Ryan as an actress and actual person by design, at least to the typical semi-biographical sitcom extent. Either way, whether she likes it or not Debby's been so closely tied to the Jessie character that it's hard to separate how their acting styles and preferences would be so different. When Jessie decided to be go all star-crazy and start becoming a fame-monger she mostly gravitated to the type of role specifically designed as Meryl Streep-bait, not the type of heavy action role that you'd more see, say, Angelina Jolie in. And really, it just seems to fit Debby's style too. She was just fine in my opinion delivering lines about her co-star fainting from hanging upside-down too much - that's the type of humor and delivery Debby's good at - but as soon as she starts shouting We're going to take their empire down! it was a little painful to watch, almost as if Debby was thinking I only have to do this for one good take and then when we're done I can collect my final paycheck and go back to touring with my band and shopping for random-colored hair dye. So, naturally, this was the scene they shove into all the previews. 

The Hollywood rescue scene...just. No. Fucking. Words. Mike already said them for me. Look, I know one of my biggest complaints about Jessie was how the title character stopped being a badass, but this is just stupid. Not stupid on Jessie's part, stupid on the kids' part. It's like, you gather all four of them together and they immediately all assume Luke's intelligence. Ravi, I mean, freakin' Ravi, Indian-Accent Einstein, is supposed to be smarter than this. Zuri, the only one who's actually well-adjusted enough to potentially survive on her own, is smarter than this. Emma, freakin' Emma, is smarter than this. Oh and guess what even Luke is smarter than this. And, wait...what, what was that? It was RAVI'S idea to climb up there? 

Whatever. Whatever. It's at this point where I'm seriously considering changing the episode quote opening the review from the actual quoted line to what it should more accurately be, Fuck You. This is Debby Ryan's way of saying, to the fandom that has supported her and in some ways practically worshiped her for the past four years, the fandom that, as whatever the director's name said so himself, plucked her from obscurity from a lifetime of bit barely-speaking roles in random movies and fucking community theater onto whatever real-world job she would've been stuck with to Suite Life on Deck and rewarded her charisma and talent and screen presence and even just basic personality by ordaining her the goddamn fucking Queen of All Disney, Long Live Queen Deborah the First, and then further rewarded her by not only giving her the justification for her own show, but sticking with that show with the same loyalty, and giving her the star-power and the economic safety net and means to go start a band and go on national tours and front for Fifth Fucking Harmony of all things, and everything else that a nation full of starstruck 14-year old girls can do for an actress they admire because she represents all the things those 14 year old girls want to be, in all the positive bullshit politically correct messages Disney Channel keeps paying lip-service too - not only legitimately beautiful but also strong and confident and able to play in the boys' club and be an independent teen woman, blah blah blah whatever, and her final reward and thank you back to the fandom amounts to a Fuck You, go worship Rowan Blanchard now, the old queen jumped off a cliff, Long Live Queen Rowan the First now

Or, barring that, this is Pamela Eells O'Connell's way of saying, to the same fandom that has given her show enough support to not only have her keep getting a Disney Channel paycheck but to essentially lock that in for the next three or even four years yet by being popular enough to justify a spinoff, and to reward Debby, the actress that has made her show nearly as synonymous with the network itself as had Hannah Montana or Wizards of Waverly Place and build that foundation for a spinoff, and her final reward and thank you to both the fandom that has stuck by her show and to the actress that made the show enough of a success to keep her employed as a bigshot Disney Channel showrunner, Fuck You, you're all going to watch Bunk'd anyway, Fuck Debby Ryan, she's yesterday's news, she's too old to bring in the horny tween boys just discovering what a "vagina" is anymore, I want me some of that sweet, perfect Barbie blonde Peyton List action now.

Aaahhhhhhhhhh...well, now that I got that out of my system...eh, maybe it's a bit of an exaggeration. Did I love the GoT ripoff aspect? You can jam the business end of a loaded Tokarev into the temple of my skull, yell threatening Russian to some scary guys with huge-ass scars poking through their 8:30-o-clock shadowed chins while motioning towards a five gallon gas can, a lit match and a pile of old tires, and tell me you're five microseconds away from pulling the trigger unless I say, yes, I loved it or I'm ready to pay my gambling debts, and I'm still going to give a firm "no." Did I love the Hollywood Sign "action" scene? Again, those scary Russian dudes are going to be left with some pretty nasty clean-up. But...in the grand scheme of things, it was tolerable.

But...you know what, nevermind, fuck that shit. Let's just get to the part where the actors quit being characters and just start saying goodbye to each other. I liked that part. I liked that part enough to salvage the episode, if only I know because this is the fucking goodbye and this is what it's going to be. The actors always quit whatever stupid direction or lines they're given and then they just start being themselves and you can tell exactly what kind of person they really are, either that or they really are going to be the next Meryl Fucking Streep because it feels real enough. And I think Debby is genuine in feeling so much privilege and so much gratitude in playing the part of the character whose name is literally the same as the show itself, being an integral part of the creative process, seeing her tween costars grow into teens and in Peyton's case an actual adult herself just as Debby had been when this whole thing started, and passing the baton to Peyton, Skai and Karan on Bunk'd and Cameron on Descendants and The Ultimate Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything, just as Dylan, Cole, Brenda and Ashley passed that same baton on to her. And I think Peyton is genuine in turn having so much gratitude for being a part of this journey which has ultimately served as a stepping stone for another one, a journey she'll get to helm herself just like how Debby did this one that's now coming to an end.

Also, everybody else was thinking the final elevator scene on iCarly, right?

And then Jessie finally goes to LA and surprise surprise Tony is there so all the Tessie shippers can go to sleep at night knowing that Tony and Jessie will get to be together forever after all, except not because they're still baaawing over Jogan and/or especially Rucas. Oh, and Tony had to quit the firefighting academy. That whole thing seemed so frikkin' half-baked from a half-billion lightyears away anyway and I don't know how they thought they could resolve it with exactly one Tessie episode left, the fucking finale itself. Whatever, Tony and Jessie boinking each other is practically canon now, fuck Brooks, that's all we care about. And then the kids use a golf cart to knock Jessie into the bushes while the end credits roll because, I dunno, a final Fuck You to Debby for being too old (even though she's barely old enough to drink), too much yesterday's news, not blonde enough and for actually having a feminine body that would exist in real life and men would actually consider attractive away from the Disney Channel-reinforced standard I guess. No, I'm not bitter at all. 

Final Grade: Meh. Meh. Meh meh fucking Meh. Whatever. This show is over forever so what would anybody care for anyway. The good parts balance out the bad parts and the bad parts more or less managed to avoid being offensive anyway. It's enough for a B-. Congratulations you're better than the I Didn't Do It Non-Finale, and the Victorious Non-Finale. Have fun on Bunk'd, Peyton. Good luck with...whatever, Debby. Just stay relevant please, and not in the batshit-crazy Miley Cyrus/Ariana Grande way.
Episode MVP: I know Nick gave it to Kevin, but...whatever. It's Debby's episode, its Debby's series, my Episode MVP goes to Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan. My whole Series MVP For Jessie Now and Forever goes to Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan. If Debby had never been cast as Bailey on Suite Life on Deck, yeah, whatever successor show we would've gotten would be totally different, if we even got one at all. They could've just given a show to some other plucked obscure unknown, or another actress on a secondary role on another show (say like Alyson Ashley Arm from Sonny With a Chance or finally given Alyson Stoner her own show). Jessie as a show and Jessica Whatever The Fuck Her Middle Name Is Fucking Prescott as a character absolutely exists because of Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan. Kevin may have stolen the scene here and there but this was always Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan's moment, this episode and the whole show, so, yeah, Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan. See my previous retrospectives if you want more convincing. 

As for the 22-minute deal, yeah, that's a fucking ripoff if there ever was one. Even the Suite Life on Deck finale was an extended 40-minute episode (yeah the run-time was a bit awkward). I wish there were more emotional moments and a greater emotional connection, a better realization through showing, not telling, about how not only Jessie shaped the kids but how the kids shaped Jessie and maybe that shaping was exactly what Jessie needed to become a bit-hit Hollywood star instead of the nonsense we got, of Jessie effectively being kicked out of the Ross household because Christina got jealous and giving her an acting gig was more convenient than just conking her over the head with the vase sitting next to the elevator that Zuri broke a million times and tossing her not-for-Disney Channel-shaped body over the terrace, hopefully missing Mrs. Chesterfield's hottub. Actually, maybe that's why Christina gave her the acting gig, because it's hard to explain how your barely adult nanny ended up dead in your hateful neighbor's hottub without the most obvious suspect being you. Maybe Christina did learn a thing or two from her stint on Castle. Yeah, whatever. I'm still not bitter. I think at the end of the day everyone involved just wanted it to be done and over with and move on, not the least of which being a certain young lady named Deborah Ann Fucking Ryan. Whatever. There's a redhead on Talia in the Fucking Kitchen I can move on to. There's a redhead on WITS Fucking Academy I can move on to. If I haven't moved on by the time Francesca Capaldi is legal-aged and gets her own show then I do just need to move the fuck on already.

Anyway, I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this, Mike.

(Note: for the purposes of page design - in addition to that fancy engineering thing I was talking about I also have document design as a minor - I'm going to rearrange some things. Mike's content and order isn't changed, just where it's sitting in this review).

Good grief, everything I said got deleted. Stupid Flanders. Anyway, what was I saying? Right, the show.

 I just don't understand why a professional writing staff, the producers, the cast themselves who have to give this dialogue some life pretty much let a show decline that badly. Do they watch their own episodes after filming and think about this stuff? Is it just them not wanting to try because they have no lofty aspirations for what they consider to be a pedestrian kids show? Is that really it? Whether you're working on Jessie or American Horror Story or Mad Men or whatever, you should always try your hardest with every episode. Even if your writing doesn't reach the mark, you should at least make the attempt to give your characters flesh and bones, create stories that are interesting and make sense, try questioning yourself a bit if you feel like what you're doing doesn't really fit the show itself. My main problem with Jessie is no quality control. At some point, whoever was in charge was uninterested in keeping the show's charm and opted to make a more vapid, paper-thin, bottom of the barrel product. Jessie refused to grow. Now I'm not saying that every single show needs to have the characters be multilayered and complex and go through harsh, traumatic events that make them stronger. Family Guy makes no attempt at developing its characters but it has been hilarious for quite a while. It's nowhere near its glory days, but subverting the expectations of the audience, getting clever dialogue in, taking risks every now and then. The show excels at random, off-the-wall, madcap humor. So yes, it can work. The problem is Jessie didn't try any of those things.

There is a general theory that you always put your best effort into your work, otherwise why bother. It really should go without saying, and I think that after the success of Good Luck Charlie and especially now with Girl Meets World, and even going back to Lizzie McGuire, it holds true for Disney Channel now more than ever. Good Luck Charlie didn't grow much for long stretches but it at least maintained a consistency in those characters, and those characters weren't defined by single traits. Teddy didn't really have a single thing she could be Flanderized down to. Gabe started as devious and crafty but eventually grew to scheme more for an actual goal aimed at benefiting his own self-interests (usually just in the interests of being lazy) rather than acting like a bratty Dennis the Menace ripoff. Bob and Amy were goofy (and Amy more singularly-defined than Bob) but they were more than just "goofy dad who squashed bugs for a living" and "fame-monger Momma Bear." One of the most interesting things about the Bob Duncan character was actually his job - though the writers did originally set out having him as an exterminator because they wanted him to have a "loser" job, they decided it was a bit too harsh for the show and network and not only made him much more successful at it, but gave him an actual motivation for being an exterminator (he was just really interested in bugs). That's the type of thinking that helps avoid a show becoming too cynical and hateful. Girl Meets World might try to grow very, very ineptly, maybe even in an embarrassing manner given the experience behind the crew, but at least its an effort. 

Watching the series finale made me realize that nothing has changed about these characters or their outlook on life other than what you would expect (their opinion on Jessie herself). It's disheartening when Girl Meets World is in its second season and shows a desire to mature. It's disheartening when Liv & Maddie has, from what I heard, got its style down pat and is now one of the best shows on the network. It's disheartening when Star vs. the Forces of Evil has been more impressive in one season than Jessie had been in a year. I use this show as a punching bag because I know it could have done better. There was just no attempt to try anything new. I know just as much about Luke or Emma that I did in season one, and that's really sad. I watched the episode and said to myself, "I haven't learned anything that I didn't already know."

What I should probably realize is that maybe I was expecting too much from this little show. I should have seen it coming. Talented people lose their minds sometimes. Look at Al Jean, for instance. Maybe Jay-Z was right. Jessie had a spark when it started, but then it just turned to garbage. It fell from top ten to not mentioned at all. Son, A.N.T. Farm's third season was better than yours. The sun don't shine, the sun don't shine.

Pamela Eells O'Connell probably had no idea what she was doing when she got further into kids television. You said you've been in this game for ten years, I've been in it three. Smarten up, Pam. Four shows in ten years, O'Connell? I can divide. That's one every......let's say, two. Two of them shows are due. One was ehhhhh, the other was the original Suite Life. That's a one hot show every ten year average. Alright, what about the show? I'm going to miss Debby Ryan on Disney Channel. I saw the woman grow up right in front of me. I remember watching the pilot episode of The Suite Life on Deck (Suite Life season four, to be honest) live and this one girl caught my attention. Seven years later, I saw her come into her own and become a star, some kind of idol for the network. Hopefully, Ryan takes some time to realize what she really wants and keeps her head up. A career in voice acting isn't too far off. No, seriously, Ryan has a great voice for animation. She should consider dabbling in that.

What else? Well, fun fact. One of my close friends knew Peyton List when they were in junior high. They actually talked a couple times. I wonder how she feels now that the show has ended.

So yeah, four interesting seasons. What a mess.

Episode Grade: B-
Episode MVP: The fans, because I have this strange feeling that the show would have wrapped up sooner if not for the high demand.

I had to streamline some of this since my original post never made it.

Yeah, Blogspot is as much garbage as what Jessie turned into in its nadir but...more on that later.

I'll touch much more on this in my retrospective but Jessie...well, it's obvious looking at the first episode and most of the first season that this was an older coming-of-age story in the process, and that a part of that storytelling would be seeing the characters grow. Oh, the characters did grow all right - in the negative direction. They became much flatter and while you note their opinion of Jessie has changed, I'm convinced even that's in the negative direction. All of a sudden just in time for the very last episode Jessie turned into their surrogate mommy, but throughout Seasons 3 and 4 and even all the way back to Season 2 they usually didn't really regard her as much other than being a living obstacle or a convenient punching bag or scapegoat or, in Luke's case, someone he can have wet dreams about who isn't his non-biologically related, uncomfortably hot sister. 

I wouldn't go so far as to say that ANT Farm's Season 3 was better. ANT Farm Season 3 was an unholy mess of proportions Disney Channel would have to intentionally work at to see again. The whole damn season nearly become unwatchable, to a show that while it certainly had its down moments it certainly had its up moments too (MutANT Farm 1, ConfinemANT, InfluANTces, SignificANT Other which actually hinted at character growth at least, etc.) The only things worth remembering ANT Farm Season 3 for was that it gave us Piper Curda (see I Didn't Do It reviews where I reward her MVP just for being hot) and well the actress who played Dixons' girlfriend or whoever seems she could be pretty cute too (I looked her up and it turns out she's just 17 so...uh, I'll let Mike handle that one). 

Yeah, I don't know how much of a game plan Old Nanny Pammy (again, not mine) had when they started this show. The show at least did a halfway convincing job of giving the impression it was going to go somewhere, at least with Tessie. I should point out that there were two major producers involved with the first season and first season only - Tim Maile and Douglas Tuber. Other than in having somewhat unfortunate last names, they're also notable in having been involved in nearly every one of Disney Channel's major early live-action series including Lizzie and especially Phil of the Future. I think when they left at the end of the first season (no one outside of that decision knows why, it's not really the point of this blog to speculate) it really marked a critical turning point for the future of this show, and it wasn't a good one.

As for Debby, well...I've already touched on why she's special for me, but obviously for whatever reason she has a tendency to really capture the attention of a lot of fans, both male and female, young and old. If she didn't, Jessie never would've existed in the first place. I think it boils down to her screen presence and her personality, she just has an intangible "it" factor that clicks. Maybe not in the way as, say, Rowan Blanchard or Olivia Holt but maybe more like Sabrina Carpenter - in an unexpected, down-to-earth girl next door kind of way. But given how cynical her character and the show had turned in the last two seasons I wonder how much of that goodwill even remains. 

I really hope she isn't doomed to wander Hollywood as a journeywoman actress like, well, Beth Littleford, or worse, leave the industry period (though doing minor local tours as frontwoman for an indie band beats having to hunt for a real job too, and I actually like her band anyway). I'd like to keep seeing her face on TV or in movies. Though, again, being stuck as a voice actress for your primary and first employer beats having a real job (though barely, VA pay scales suck). She did luck out in having a really nice voice that can lend her a lot of talent and jobs, both in acting and in singing. On that note, at least you'll be able to see her in person now as she does local and national tours with The Neverending (you can Google search that one) especially when she goes on tour again next year, and she'll be Thumblelina in Goldie and the Bear which is premiering soon, though I understand it's a meh-sized part and it's going to be a while until she even shows up (like Eric on GMW).

I have more to say but I think I'll leave it for my final retrospective (I can't make any promises). In the meantime we're still waiting for Nick on this one. Oh, and I'd also like to know what your friend thinks of the show ending, or Bunk'd. And yeah, the fans are a strong candidate for MVP, of course they're the reason why the show was able to last this long (or get Debby her own show in the first place).

And as for Blogspot, yeah, it's kind of broken the last straw with the nonsense it's been pulling as of late, so I'm going to see if we can migrate to this Kinja thing. I've been using Kinja to publish blogs and articles for two years now under Gawker Media, so hopefully it'll be good. Then again, Kinja has its own set of problems....

This episode was slightly disappointing. The finale delivered what made me love Jessie from the beginning, the funny antics. This episode brought everyone together in the episode and had a nice ending.

First things first, the first season of Jessie was PERFECT. Perfect plot, perfect comedy, perfect cast. But things went downhill from after Season 2. Season 2 was amazing, but season 3 was when everything fell apart. Starting with the terrible idea of an episode, "Caught Purple Handed" was a drought of good plots. I'm also disappointed by the downhill acting.

SKAI JACKSON WAS THE BEST SASSY LITTLE AFRICAN GIRL IN SEASON 1. But he acting began to disappoint me as she got older. Now I feel like all she does is just memorize her lines. I could've taken a random African girl in LA and she could've done what Skai is doing. In fact, Skai is worse in BUNK'D. Second, Debby's acting was less passionate as time went on. But I guess, Debby was more focused on her music.

Episode Grade: B- ; C plot, but an emotional ending.
SERIES MVP: I've already said this before, but Kevin Chamberlin.

Season Grades:
Season 1: A
Season 2: A-
Season 3: B-
Season 4: C

Riele Downs (Charlotte from Henry Danger) probably would be a better Zuri than Skai. Just sayin'. Plus...eh. I'm just going to fucking say it. Skai is a very fine ladies' name, don't get me wrong. But "Riele" sounds classy as fuck. I'm totally going to name my daughter that. 

Yeah, if I had to give season grades I think it goes without saying that Season 1 gets an A. I'd hesitate to give it an A+, it takes a real groundbreaking series to pull that off. Not even Wizards of Waverly Place, as popular as it was, can pull that off. I'm not even sure Girl Meets World can pull that off unless it just becomes the Shawn and Eric Show. I'm not even sure if Good Luck Charlie can pull it off and that's the only real post-Hannah Montana show I can think of that would have the best shot. You'd probably have to go back to, I don't know, Even Stevens. That was a Godly show. 

Now I could be biased about Season 1 since for me a number of outside factors are going to cloud my judgement, and given my own personal experiences, I'm going to let those experiences cloud my judgement, screw objectivity. Christian and Sean have talked about how external factors shaped their love of Boy Meets World, why can't it shape my love of Jessie? Season 2...is an A-. Maybe even a B+. There were more than a few great character-building episodes that lived up to the type of storytelling Season 1 delivered: The Trouble With Tessie, Why Do Foils Fall in Love, Shape-Up and Break-Up, even Throw Momma From the Terrace and G.I. Jessie even though "Don't Tell Gawker Deadspin Is Pretty Much #NotAllMen" Drew Magary says it's the worst episode of not just the entire series but pretty much human cultural achievement. Yes, not only will I keep bringing up Drew Magary but I'll actively look for excuses to do so, fuck his Chopped win oooooh I'm so impressed -_-. 

But you can already tell that the series was jumping the shark and getting Flanderized to its eventual departing nadir. Pain in the Rear Window. Panic Attack Room. The Whinning. These were all decent to legitimately good episodes, but each and more than a few others got the ball rolling in the wrong direction. Quitting Cold Koala had good heart and intention, but it also gained infamy as the "banned" episode. Way to go Ahren and McLaughlin. 

Season 3 was, just....ugh. As long as the air date was still within the 2013 calendar year the crap hadn't quite hit you in the face at full-force. I disagree with Nick, Caught Purple Handed was decent enough, though again it either started or was indicative of some pretty crappy trends. Understudied and Overdone at least had a modicum of triumph for Jessie, plus Debby looked crazy pretty in that trench coat onstage, just saying. Lizard Scales and Wrestling Tales had good intention but was just more than kind of stupid, though I have to give it props for the cute title (an episode like this needs all the accolades it can scrape from the bottom of the barrel). Lights, Camera, Distraction! basically has the message "be thankful for your shitty life, for some reason" (alternatively: at least it barely beats suicide, I guess). That, and Debby was crazy hot as, uh, Dimples Galore I guess? (truth time: I barely know what a dimple even is. It's not a feature that typically shows up on my race as we look like we're puffing our cheeks all the time). My point is, I'm not even convinced Debby even has clearly-defined dimples so it goes to show that the writers pay less attention to their actual actors and more attention to the type of stock trope-soaked humor that sounds good in their minds. Where's Zuri? aired, what, June, July '14? I bring that up to explain that I can't possibly tell you what happened beyond what the title gives away because it was so awful I refuse to watch it after its first showing. Something about burning the apartment down because of Hudson's fireworks? That was a fast rebuild, by the way. Oh, and Hudson. As much as I liked what's his face, Bart Something?, on Tru Jackson VP and How to Build a Better Boy, Hudson was pretty much an indication that this episode was going to be a total shitfest.

Plus, he actually declined to touch Jessie's boob. That, my friends, is as clear as sign as you're ever going to get on anything that all realism has completely flown straight out the window like one of Hudson's fireworks. Final Season 3 grade: yeah whatever Nick said.

And then Season 4. Nick says S4 was actually an improvement so I'm surprised he gave it a lower grade. I don't care if I'm the only one who hates it, I don't care if Meaghan Martin is in it, Rossed at Sea Part 1 is basically Where's Zuri? but on water. Rossed at Sea Part 2 is more of Rossed at Sea Part 1. Once upon a time there was something that was just like Rossed at Sea, but a whole series, and actually good (well minus Season 3) called Suite Life on Deck. It had the Sprouse twins continuing their roles from Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and it had Brenda Song, and it had some newcomer actress who quickly became super-popular named Debby Ry...hey wait a minute. Yeah, if I want to watch Debby Ryan on a boat I'll just watch any given episode of Suite Life on Deck except for Party On!, which was that series' version of Where's Zuri? If I want to watch Peyton List on a boat I'll just watch Bunk'd's Camp Rules, or better yet, watch Bunk'd while hitting myself over the head with a frying pan until everything gets scrambled up there enough so that I think the whole series is about Emma being on a boat. And what's worse I don't think they referenced SLOD even once during Rossed at Sea. 

And as the season went on it became painfully clear that absolutely every one stopped caring. The network stopped caring that they had a dozen episodes left of this lame duck show called Jessie that they're stuck with no matter what and they have an obligation to air them so let's find the least resistant path of airing them (hey let's bury the series finale under Girl Meets Self-Congratulatory Circle-Jerk!), the fans stopped caring as the show went from its typical 3-million-ish viewership from Coffee Talk (Nick can correct me on this) down to something like sub-1 million for Lights, Camera, Distraction!, the writers including Old Nanny Pammy (I will never stop using that) stopped caring and Peyton, Karan and Skai stopped caring because they just wanted to move on to Bunk'd already and collect bigger paychecks, and most of all Debby herself stopped caring. Sometimes I look into some of those Season 4 and maybe even Season 3 scenes and I look at her face and I read ugh, I could be writing pop-emo love lyrics or buying hair dye instead. It's outright shocking - I really mean it, shocking - the unbridled enthusiasm Debby had for this show in Season 1 and Season 2 and then at the end it just seemed like some skull-numbing boredom-inducing near offence for her to be stuck in this studio in front of this wall of cameras. What the fuck happened Debby? That's not something that's normal to actors. They either enjoy it or they just don't, there's no on/off switch to suddenly makes them undergo a personality or attitude change. For something to happen like that, sometimes it's an indication that something really fucking wrong happened, backstage or otherwise. And I'm stepping back as a reviewer and idiot self-important blogger about kiddie shows when I say that, I'm saying that as a serious question.

But, yeah. The final season gets like a C+ or something. See even I lost care. There were a few flashes of brilliance - A Close Shave was nice closure to the Darla saga that began with G.I. Jessie but was with the show since at least Romancing the Crone; Ghostess With the Mostest what this season's pathetic excuse at a Tessie episode thanks to the writers being unaware of their own episode count but whatever; Rossed at Sea Part 2 was the only part of the trilogy that I liked (so naturally it was the episode I had to miss on its live airing) and Katch Kipling and especially Identity Thieves weren't near the disasters I was expecting them to be. Identity Thieves was clearly the best episode of the post-"Sounds of Summer" (ugh) hiatus, including the finale. Is it wrong for me to say that Peyton was lookin' bangin' in that dress? It is? Oh. Nevermind then.

I know a few of you in the comments said I was overly harsh about something, and to that I say, I need to look it up to remember what I even wrote in the first place.

Anyway, that should wrap it up. As I've mentioned previously, there's one last retrospective coming up. It's mostly going to take a look at the specific character growth, both figurative and literally. It really is shocking going back to some of these episodes, some of which feel like the dust needs to be blown off before viewing, and then looking back and going, "wait, I remember seeing promos for the premiere of this episode." It makes me feel way older than I need to feel. I have enough of that going on without such reminders. 


  1. Well, this was bitter for a post on a big emotional finale. All that 'this is fuck you stuff" ....still doens't make sense. Despite the existence of Bunk'd, this is was a very normal finale, and didn't do anything too unexpected.

    Anyway, if it's That's so Raven, the big show that started never got a real finale thanks to corey in the house, than I'm just happy they got a finale at all. They had a real plot, they had an emotional wrap up, Christina finally learned her lesson,it's all good.

    Really, all the flaws i can forgive because it's the finale. Your biggest issue, the Holwood sign stuff, wasn't a big deal for me cuz I'm so used to stuff like that on these shows, i just don't care.

    As a whole, the finale, despite being short, worked fine. The big ending was so good i can forgive it. It just made me look back on the show in a good way. For all it's ups and downs it was certainly interesting and could do some good things.

    I'll go ahead and Say B for the ending, and MVP....yep, Debby, because shes' amazing.

    1. I'm not bitter at all :p

      But seriously, this is why I went out and got co-authors to balance out shit like this.

  2. A&A will only have 87 episodes.

    S1 - 19 episodes
    S2 - 26 episodes
    S3 - 22 episodes
    S4 - 20 episodes

    For a 4-season show they got pretty small episode orders.

  3. I was never much of a Jessie fan. I watched a bit of the first season and caught pieces here and there. That said, the ending scene was really well done. It's clear on all of these shows the casts become families. I can't watch the ending scene of Boy Meets World anymore without getting a little lump in my throat. I don't know why but as I've gotten older, I've gotten much softer. I was sobbing real tears when I saw Inside Out.

    Happy Trails, Jessie. And best of luck to Debby Ryan.

    That said, I've seen like ten minutes of Bunk'd and it sucked.

  4. Oh, some more Mike stuff. I thought the chararecters grew in a sort of shallow way. You know, in the sense the kids and jessie grew kind of closer and learned some lessons. Although they only pointed out Zuri as having grown in any way, and given how much better she was in Season 4 vs 3....eh.

    I know i've said this many many times but mike brought it up so: The show downhil in the natrual way a lot of these shows do. it had both good and bad elements to various premise, so it's sadly natrual it may eventually give into the bad parts.

    And as i said, season 4 did improve from Season 3, at least a little bit. As bad as it got, i can kind of see why they think all of this was okay. I said before that a lot of these comedies feel the need to top themselves in terms of how big they can get, and that's how flanderization sets in.

    Even with Season 3 and onwards, i felt they were still trying pretty hard....a bit too hard. Mostly due to the occasional solid episode that actually tried. And As i said, they tried way harder with Season 4, to fit more emotional and character driven stories.

    Got much to add here so that's all i got


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