Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mike's Quest, Part 3 ("Quad With a Blog")

This show is very, um........some stuff happens's one of the most........what is this?!

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. This is part three 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, the original goal was to review one episode of every current live-action sitcom on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel by the end of 2016. I failed so I decided to continue in 2017. 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 updated promise. 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 2016, I decided to make this one exception and review it anyway. It deserves the attention.

Part 1: The Thundermans

Part 2: Liv & Maddie

Okay, let's do this.

I have a hard time talking about Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn because I don't know what to talk about. I'm familiar enough with the show, unlike Liv & Maddie, and I have seen an episode or two since it first aired. But this show might be one of the most forgettable that Nickelodeon has ever put out in its near 40-year history. I'm not exaggerating when I say that. If the show ended today, I really don't think anyone would notice. That's not to say NRDD is complete garbage like Henry Danger, or even an underrated gem like 100 Things to Do Before High School, but it's literally just there. It's one of those shows that the network didn't need, and if you compare this to anything that airs alongside it, it sticks out badly. It feels more like a family sitcom on ABC than a Nick show on Saturday night.

One of the reasons why I tend to overlook Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn and feel like it sticks out compared to other Nick live-action shows is the characters themselves. The quadruplets are still pretty young heading into season three, and I believe that makes it hard to relate to them. This wouldn't be the case if it was animated, because as we see from The Loud House, the main character can still be interesting and entertaining even though they're pretty young. But this is a live-action show with the same audience as The Thundermans and School of Rock, which have older characters and different ways of storytelling. I always felt like the characters being so young worked against them, because the audience watching this isn't going to be that interested in the endeavors of a bunch of little kids. Like I said, there would be a difference in tone if it was animated, and make it stick out more. I mean, why not have an animated series air on Saturday nights? But I digress.

The show has never done enough for me to judge it properly. It's not that good and it's not that bad. It's not even decent, it's just.....average. Very paint by numbers, and I'm worried that's going to be the case for other shows I review. I mean, I would rather have the show try and strive for something more but fail miserably, than have it just sit there and never evolve or develop in any meaningful way. But this is about the Quest, and no show goes untouched, so let's begin.

As I said earlier, this show is now officially in season three. The fact that Nickelodeon is actually allowing these shows to breathe and get more seasons is news to me. Even Henry Danger was given a fourth season. But maybe it's just because they turn away a lot of good ideas and don't have many options. Anyway, this episode is about the quads trying to save the Get Sporty cafe when a food blogger named Gourmet Guy is giving positive reviews to competing establishments. It drives away customers and prevents the cafe from going anywhere, which leads to the quads' parents contemplating closing it down. The quads attempt to make their own special food to compete with the other joints, but when they get a negative review, it is revealed that Nicky himself is Gourmet Guy. The quads decide to serve the meal Nicky originally prepared to him so he can give a guaranteed positive review, but because he doesn't think his own creation is up to snuff, he gives another negative review. It leads to a food fight, the parents deciding not to close the cafe, and a kitchen fire burning down the cafe anyway.

Okay, I have a problem or two with this. The one major problem is Nicky. I don't like how he was written in this episode. Once it's revealed that he himself is Gourmet Guy, everything falls apart. He knew that the quads were trying to save Get Sporty from shutting down and he still gives them a negative review because he has to be honest to his readers? Okay, I guess I can live with that. Then he gives another negative review, of his own food. Does Nicky have self-hatred or something? Is he a perfectionist? What the hell is going on here? Nicky was so confident and so prepared to put his meal on display at the cafe. But then he tries it himself and realizes it sucks? That doesn't make any sense. Wouldn't he have had to taste it before he unveiled it? And if he did, why did he give himself a negative review? And at the same time, possibly endanger his parents' business? They established Nicky in this episode as having a big cooking IQ, so I guess he always thought his work was crap and was perfectly fine with the cafe losing customers? Did other restaurants try locating Nicky because he claims he was anonymous, so when would he have had time to sample their foods? And why did he think it was cool to lie to his siblings like that? My brain is fried.

Also, the cafe burning down at the end meant that everything we just saw was for nothing. The parents saw how hard the quads worked to keep the place open, then there's a fire because it's funny since we just saw how hard they worked. I read that Matt Fleckenstein, the creator of the show and a former Schneider's Bakery writer, stepped down as showrunner so maybe that's one of the reasons why things didn't click like they should have. I'm just theorizing here, but losing the show's creative voice never turns out well. Season four of The Boondocks, enough said. American Dad hasn't really been as sharp as it used to since Mike Barker's departure as co-showrunner a few years back. Whatever the case may be, things felt pretty uneven and bothersome here. The episode was really on the right track until we found out that Nicky was Gourmet Guy.

Despite that, I actually laughed a few times. Humor can remove some sins, and I have to say this episode picked up in the comedy department as it went on. Dicky thinking their parents are customers, Nicky's weird usage of guacamole and the callback to it, Ricky reminding Nicky that there's only one thing on the menu, Nicky hearing everything the quads were saying from three feet away, Dawn dancing to "Peaches and Cream" by 112 with a hat on. Okay, that last thing never happened, but it would have been great if it did. All in all, it was a mildly entertaining episode with some story problems that really hurt it and kept things from being more cohesive. But it could have been a lot worse. It was just what you would expect from a show like Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn.

Episode Grade: C
Episode MVP: Aidan Gallagher. Despite my problems with Nicky in this episode, he was the most entertaining character here. A conflict between him doing right by his family and not letting his readers down could have been interesting to tackle. Instead, he just gives himself a negative review because he has low self-esteem, and doesn't really regret his actions at all. Ricky was also pretty funny, and Dicky's only as funny as the stupid jokes they give him. Dawn's not funny. Nothing she ever says is funny.

-I always liked the theme song for this show. The whistling combined with the heavy guitars and drums, it all works for me. The opening sequence is also altered since the kids are, slowly but surely, getting older.

-As a sign that the kids are getting older, Dicky and Nicky are both going through puberty. Dicky's voice change is more noticeable than Nicky's, but you can hear the cracks and things like that. I've watched so many shows where the kids' voices change after one or two seasons, it's not even funny. What's weird is that the kids still look more or less the same, except for Dicky getting taller. I don't know if Dawn's gone through any changes because she's always had that deep voice and height advantage.

-There's a subplot, I think, involving the parents and the suggestion box and a toupee.......there wasn't much to say about it at all so I'm just going to acknowledge it and leave it at that.

-I wonder what happened to Josie working at Get Sporty because that other actress wasn't her. Did another show snatch her up?

-Am I the only one who can get Nicky and Ricky confused sometimes character-wise? I mean, Nicky's really into cooking and Ricky's a stickler for the rules, but I feel like you could blend that into one character without it being a problem.

-There's a joke where Dicky laughs at something dirty twice and then the third time, he laughs at something that isn't. I feel like they dragged it out and kinda ruined the bit.

-Brian Stepanek is the quads' father, by the way. You might recognize him as Arwin from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

-The episode title is a reference to Dog with a Blog, and it's actually a little subtle since I didn't realize that it was implying that Nicky was running a food blog. I'm glad I never have to talk about that show while I'm here.

I see Mike's gone with the black text so I'm not sure if he minds me interjecting here or not, but I will say that I actually went so far as to name "Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn Go Hollywood" as the best individual episode of Nickelodeon in 2015, so, there I guess? Though maybe in hindsight I could've named an episode of 100 Things, but meh.

Also, I'm just as shocked that the writers of NRDD remember DWaB.


  1. Yeah, I'm not fond of nicky ricky whatever. It's just not very good. But i do enjoy the parents, but i tend to enjoy Brian Steppank in everything. I don't know why, he's just funny.

    I cringed when i saw the title of this episode.

    Also, I'm shocked the show is still on. The breaks in eps have been crazy, it doesn't have the name value of a Schneider show and it's not that popular. This stays on while 100 things and Bella got the Ax?

    1. Brian Stepanek also has a role on The Loud House, which is interesting because I feel like he's suited for voice acting. I always liked seeing him on my screen.

      I'm still upset they cancelled 100 Things after one season and Haunted Hathaways after two. Unless the ratings were atrocious, I don't think I'll ever understand the reasoning.

  2. He also voiced the Dad on Kick Buttowski (which Loud House Creator Chris Savino was a director on) which further how good he is at these roles.

  3. I agree that this show isn't great. Sometimes it gets really bizarre - like when they use that unconscious actor as a puppet so they can have a BBQ to impress their friends. The characters are just so mean and unlikable.

    I've reviewed a couple of episodes myself:

    It looks like I'm trying to do the same thing as you - review kids' TV shows. Next on my list is School of Rock - what did you think of that one?


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