Sunday, September 25, 2016

Liv and Maddie Reviewed: Sorta-Sister-A-Rooney (S4E1)


What is it? Half-hour multi-cam sitcom. Also, it's just Liv and Maddie, but with "Cali-style." No, seriously, that's part of the actual show title now.
Where did it air? Disney Channel, where it's always aired, before Cali-style was cool.
Who Stars in it? The old cast - Dove Cameron who is in like a billion other things on Disney Channel and elsewhere now, Joey Bragg who is...Joey Bragg, Tenzig Norgay Trainor, Kali Rocha - but minus Benjamin King and now with Lauren Lindsey Donsiz (see below). Oh, and I should mention this particular episode guest stars Chloe East (her biggest role so far is being the lead in Jessica Darling's It List, a straight-to-digital-provider movie based on a series of middle-school novels in turn based on a series of young adult novels that eventually evolved into a not-so-good One-Woman Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants wannabee, and yes I've read all those books because of course I did, because the movie is produced by Debby Ryan. Produced. Debby doesn't even actually appear in it at all.) because apparently she's a thing now.
Why are we reviewing this? Because it's Liv and Maddie Cali-style!

Yeah, S4 is doing the whole "gotta have a subtitle for the finale season" thing, and with that, a revamped intro with newcomer Lauren Lindsey Donsiz replacing Benjamin King in the credit sequence. Oh, and when I say newcomer I really mean it - she's gotta be, like, 9 years old or so (she played Sadie, the ultra-bossy protege of Trish in that one Austin & Ally episode, her very first credited acting role on IMDb in fact, and she's played the 6th-grade version of Landry Bender/Cyd on Best Friends Whenever whenever that role is called for. Oddly enough she actually has dark hair to match Landry on BFW so even though I instantly recognized her from A&A it took going to IMDb to figure out she's on that show too). 

Anyway, and no offense Girl Meets World fans out there, but it's nice to be able to return to and review a show I can actually stomach watching. And given that it's Fall Premiere Season I can definitely stand to watch something good for a change - although Mike's reviews of the latest episodes of GMW has given me high hopes that the show is worth returning to.

Anyway, S4 picks up from where S3 left off with Cali-a-Rooney, with Joey and Parker putting all of their creative genius together to accidentally destroy their childhood home and being forced to move in with their aunt in California, which is where Liv was going to end up if she continued Voltage anyway, so yeah, she still ended up there but now without a show, lol. And now with the whole family living with Aunt What's Her Face, we're introduced to Lauren's character Ruby (apparently named after one of the production assistants on the show - this show likes doing that BTW), Liv, Maddie, Joey and Parker's young cousin (the youngest of the bunch now, a good deal younger than even Parker now). Liv sees an opportunity to manipulate Ruby into destroying a creepy velvet painting Diggie made...of Maddie can have a reminder, but in the process she ends up putting a huge cut into the Sisters by Chance, Friends by Choice picture in front of Maddie so now she has to keep secrets for both sisters.

Meanwhile Parker's psyched about becoming the big man on a new campus (this is where that Chloe East girl comes in, BTW, as one of the students new kid Parker is trying to impress) and Joey...not so much, because at Ridgewood High he at least would've been an established senior but now he feels like he's starting at the bottom again for his senior year. Until Aunt What's her Face hypnotizes him into believing he's Falcon. Not a falcon, just Falcon, Joey's new persona (it's still an improvement over actually believing he could fool everyone into thinking he's Dwayne Johnson). Amazingly enough, he pulls it off. Parker, meanwhile, is letting all his aggression and aggro get the best of him as Chloe and all the others end up hating him as a jerk, especially after Parker wins the Laser Science Fair (yes, it's a science fair specifically for lasers) by destroying Chloe's laser (I suppose I should stop calling her Chloe but I forgot her character's name). Falcon - yes, Joey-Falcon - manages to swoop in and save the day for Parker by being all, uh, Falcon-like. So I guess the show really could show Joey turn a new leaf, that'll be interesting to watch. Maybe even exciting!

Meanwhile Ruby cracks and confesses to both Rooney twins and they make up. It's Liv and Maddie, you really shouldn't expect anything else.

But at the end of the day, as pat and very sitcom-trope-y the show gets (to the point where the show isn't even afraid to poke fun at itself over that - see, that's how you do meta-humor, Girl Meets World!), Liv and Maddie does it with a charm that endears me to the show. to the point where I don't even care what people think (oh and that was another actual plotline the show did. Pink pink pink, girls girls girls! Glitter glitter glitter, twirls twirls twirls! Together! Forever! It's Linda and Heather! Best Friends!)I'm honestly not even sure why - maybe because the show doesn't take itself seriously at all unlike a certain *other* show (yeah I'll seriously stop taking potshots at GMW now), maybe the talent of the crew just shows through, maybe it's because they have a decent-to-great cast behind it or maybe they just make it entertaining and nothing more. It's not as great as say, Rate-a-Rooney that tried to make a statement and succeeded, but it's still a great way to get into Season 4 without missing a beat.

Episode Grade: B-. It's a good episode but as far as Liv and Maddie is concerned it's pretty average, especially compared to the vast majority, if not the entirety of Season 3 and even back in Season 2. 
Episode MVP: It's too easy to give it to Dove for so effortlessly pulling off how believable the two separate roles are (needless to say she gets series MVP) but, eh, let's give it to Tenzig, really. Joey's portrayal of Falcon was juuuuuuust a little too forced to elevate it beyond stock sitcom trope temporary persona reinvention, and quite frankly I'm not really seeing the acting appeal of Chloe East beyond, well, to put it bluntly, waaaay too many creepers who need to be reminded there are real legal consequences for being too into girls who can't even drive with a learner's permit yet. Lauren Lindsey Donsiz is still in that "little girl who's entire acting range still consists of little girl" stage. and quite frankly after Googling Chloe East (and for that matter, Dog With a Blog's Francesca Capaldi) I think for the time being as a 9-year-old or whatever, maybe she should still be glad she's still somewhat obscure for the time being.

Yeah there be a lot of creepers out there. So yeah with that let's see if Mike has any thoughts about this episode. But in the meantime:

Extra Thoughts

 - yeah needless to say I'm as psyched as Parker is to finally see Linda & Heather be realized in the flesh, so to speak.

 - That actually brings up another point: I am dorky enough to not only admit to it, but be proud in doing so, that I have actually submitted a fan script to John D. Beck and Ron Hart for Liv and Maddie. I mention this because it involves the Linda & Heather show, and actually has a plot point similar to the upcoming episode. A, uh, very slight resemblance. Anyway, the A-plot was going to revolve around the return of Kathy Kan (Piper Curda, Kathy Kan-a-Rooney - incidentally also the episode that introduces Linda & Heather and the theme song I recite in the main review) and Fangs (Laura Marano, Fang-a-Rooney) enrolling as students at Ridgewood High and becoming a part of Liv's clique, and Liv helping them adjust to Ridgewood life and "taking over the school" and all that girl high school trope stuff. The B-plot would be Joey taking Parker to see the Linda & Heather actresses in-person at a meet-n-greet, with those two actresses played by Bridgit Mendler and Debby Ryan because of course I would do that - and granted, they're a bit old for what Kathy Kan-a-Rooney suggested the actresses should be but it seems like the actual episode is going that age route anyway so meh. Anyway, just as Parker and Joey are about to finally meet them after being in line for hours, Linda and Heather butting heads results in them breaking up and refusing to do the show anymore, which breaks Parker's heart and motivates him and Joey to see if they could patch things between them. Again, I'm very interested in seeing how the version of Linda & Heather from the actual show's creators play out, because it does seem pretty exciting! Also, yeah, needless to say they pretty much used exactly zero of my script idea but no hard feelings right?



  1. I hate it when a show changes it's name for no reason. Just feels gimmick-y. Stil, sure the show will be as good as ever, haven't gotten around to watching the ep yet.

    1. It's hard to come up with a sub-title more gimmicky than Cali-Style, but I think that's what they were actually going for. Beck and Hart *really* don't take things seriously but they somehow make it work.

  2. My thoughts on Cali Style in two words: Cousin. Oliver.


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