Friday, December 16, 2016

Mike's Quest, Part 2 ("Cali Christmas-A-Rooney")

It's the same show, but it's in California! And we'll keep reminding you that it is until your ears bleed! In the citayyyyyyyyyy of L.A................

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. This is part two of Mike's Quest. I'm like that guy......that Spanish guy who fought the windmills. I don't know, Don Quixote or something. Anyway, I made a goal to review one episode of every current live-action sitcom on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel by the end of 2016. Some shows will be alright, and some shows will be terrible. But maybe, just maybe, one show will be good at least. My hopes aren't high, but I'm sticking to my promise. Hopefully, I have no idea if I can do this in time at this point. Just a few things to clarify:

1. Shows that I have already reviewed (Henry Danger, Girl Meets World) are off the table.

2. Despite Bella and the Bulldogs ending in June, I decided to make this one exception and review it anyway. It deserves the attention.

Part 1: The Thundermans

Okay, let's do this. 

I really know how a lot of reviewers feel now when they have work that can't get done. I promised to do a lot of reviews this month since it's Christmas and I wanted to get in the spirit with a bunch of holiday stuff, good and bad. But the week I said that, I came down with a bad toothache and nearly lost my ability to do anything productive. That has to be the worst pain I have ever experienced in my entire life. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. I just recently had an extraction to get rid of a baby tooth that suffered from dead nerves. Plus, I have some other dental work to get done but at least now, I'm on the first step to having the teeth I always wanted. It might take a while, but I'm ready to do what I have to do to get my health in order.

Anyway, what I went through set me back for a while and the only thing I really did was work on my show. Even that's taking longer than I anticipated, so in the meantime, it's time to make up for all those lost days. And what better way to start than with killing two birds with one stone: Continue the Quest, and review a Christmas episode.

That brings me to today's topic: Liv & Maddie. No, you're not reading this wrong. This is definitely a Mike review of Liv & Maddie. This is something that has been way overdue. At this point, I shouldn't even need to review this show but.....things happen. Besides, in less than a year, the show is going to end so why not do it now? I came into this show with fresh eyes because I have never watched an episode before this one. Yes, I know a majority of the characters and have a general idea of what the show is about. I also have seen my fair share of commercials. But before today, I had never seen an entire episode. As in, more than two minutes. And from what I gathered over the past year or so, this is apparently Disney Channel's best show. Apparently. So what did I think about this one?

Well, before we get into that, why don't I start us off with the plot? Maddie is homesick because this is the family's first Christmas in California, and it's absolutely nothing like the ones she experienced in Wisconsin. So Liv decides to put together a Wisconsin-style Christmas for her. Meanwhile, Joey takes part in a Santa contest to get the opportunity to hand out gifts to children, and Parker decides to give Ruby her very first snow day.

Honestly, this was a really good episode. At first, I wasn't impressed. The first act moved really slowly and there weren't a whole lot of jokes, just stuff happening. In my head, I was asking myself, "This is the best.....of the best....of the best, of the best, of the best.......that this network has to offer?" But when the Santa contest started, that's when everything kicked into high gear. The episode started firing off some more funny jokes, the plot started moving quicker, and I was entertained the rest of the way. There really weren't any dull moments after that. I know Unknown is a Liv & Maddie fan (and hopes that season four of Girl Meets World never happens) so maybe he can give some insight as to how stories work on this show. Do most episodes have this slow pace, or do they often come out with energy?

I wasn't really impressed with Liv or Maddie too much here. I'm not sure if it's because they need someone to play off of other than each other (which is why Liv's scenes with Diggie were pretty funny) or because they just didn't have much material to work with here. Neither of them stood out much. I will give it up to Dove Cameron for convincing me that Liv and Maddie are played by twins. The way she's able to create two characters with distinct personalities and have them work without coming off as tacky is not easy to pull off in the slightest. But she's doing a real good job separating them from each other. Of course, writing plays a big part in that, but with a show like this, the acting can make or break something like that. Fortunately, Dove makes the characters who they are.

It was Joey who really stole the show for me. I'm not sure who the most popular character is on this show, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was him. He got a lot of good lines and even though he has that nerdy character, it feels like he embraces it and takes comfort in who he is. One of my favorite parts in the episode is near the end when he believes that he's saved Christmas for everyone, and Liv replies by saying he almost ruined everything. His response? "Exactly. Almost." I was really expecting this episode to be uninteresting, but the second and third acts really pulled their weight and made it worth watching. I don't dislike any of the characters (at least not yet) and I felt like the plot was a simple way. It was really easy to follow. I don't know if it's because these stories are hard to do or because the writing of Girl Meets World makes it really complicated, but it's refreshing to watch an episode where I didn't even have to think about that.

You know what? I think it is Girl Meets World. The fact that I would dread GMW tackling this story and I literally didn't think about how this plot would turn out says it all. I wouldn't mind watching more L&M episodes, especially the really good ones that gave the show its identity. I heard season one was garbage, but I'm curious to know how good this show really is. Too bad this is the last season, but at least it had a good run.

Episode Grade: B
Episode MVP: Joey Bragg. Enough said. Parker wasn't bad either, but Joey ran away with this one.

-Okay, I have to ask........why the California thing? I mean, I know why they're in California after doing some research, but why do you have to promote it? Why do you think new viewers will be interested in the show because it's based in California? Is the style of the show different now in terms of storytelling and characterization? Are the jokes more in your face instead of subtle like before, or vice versa? I'm curious, I want to figure this out. Cali-style? Really? I don't know, it comes off as real corny to me. Besides, we all know what happened to the last Disney Channel show that constantly reminded you it was in California. I think the Jonas Brothers were in it, something like that.

-Joey's logic makes perfect sense: He loves handing out toys to kids, because then they're forced to like you.

-I like the theme song. It has a nice tone to it and Dove Cameron is a really good singer. I can see why she was hired now.

-The cutaways that this show uses are nice too. It helps give it a distinct identity away from other shows on the network. I mean, if you're going to have a show, you might as well have that one thing to separate it from others like it.

-In this episode alone, they make three jokes about Parker and Joey destroying the house last season. I didn't laugh at any of them. In fact, the first joke was what led me to do more research in the first place. Is this a running gag? Because this is the sixth episode of the season, and I'm not going to watch the previous five and see these characters constantly remind us of what happened. Makes me feel like I'm watching Fuller House or something.

-I was kinda surprised when I saw Diggie because he's apparently an idiot, and considering Maddie's personality, I would think he was smarter or had some kind of special skill. I don't know, this is the only episode I've ever seen. His scenes with Liv were pretty funny like I mentioned before. Like when he told Liv he wasn't going to say "Surprise!" despite his instinct and the awkwardness of that conversation in general. Or when he was in the box and Liv told him not to move ("I can't move, I'm in a box!").

-It was hilarious when Joey was in the Santa contest and you saw this old guy who barely even tried to give it a shot. Just when it seemed like it was a lock for Joey to win, here comes his enemy Todd Stetson doing the sexy Santa look and pulling it off because everyone was enjoying his shirtless dancing. That sounded wrong, just watch the episode.

-Joey says that he wants to show everyone what Christmas is all about. So, with no irony or awareness of the situation, he steals everything Christmas-related from his own house, including Diggie. The part where he is humming "Deck the Halls" while trying to get the Christmas tree out of the house, then his joyful humming turning into annoyed grunting as he struggles to get the tree through the door, was absolutely hilarious and my favorite part of the episode. Then he continues to hum it while Diggie is on the phone with Liv, scared and confused.

-Parker sounds a lot older than he looks. What did puberty do to him? The weird thing is he doesn't look any different from how he did in season one.

-"Why did you do this for me in the mall?" "That was Joey's fault." "Ugh, he is the worst." *Liv nods in approval* The best part is that Maddie didn't know Joey was Santa. But part of me feels like she would have said that anyway.


  1. I kind of had the same issue with it starting slow, and i had the same issue with the Halloween one from this season. the other ep from the season i saw didn't have that issue so I'm not too sure what the deal is.

    Joey is one of the better examples of the "Goofy brother who is a loser and gets dumped on" trope these shows love (See Jackson from Hannah for where this type started in disney sitcoms, i think) because he owns it, and thankfully isn't too much of a butt monkey most of the time.

    This might now have been the best to start with since it is not focused as much n development or even the main charecters themselves, but for a chill episode that doesn't anything too crazy, it's an okay start.

    Season 1 wasn't bad per say, but just kind of average with writing issues (See my review of Steal a Rooney) but once the whole Space Werewolf arc begin, it got way better.

    1. Thank you for the insight. Yeah, I had a feeling that this one wasn't really story-heavy or focused on the main characters much because it was really more about telling a couple good jokes and doing Christmas stuff. But this is a good start for a show I was always skeptical about.

  2. Mike it's me,Joy. When your show going to be online? 😭😭😭😭😭😭😵😵😵😵😵😵😵😵. thank you heavenly. I have my own show hello misery a dark parody. It's the fucked up version of hey Arnold.

  3. Lisa Lopez- the real version of Maya Hart and Ernie snotz a kid agent. Vanna Savannah.

  4. Lisa Lopez- the real version of Maya Hart and Ernie snotz a kid agent. Vanna Savannah.


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