Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: Terms of Embarrassment (S1E8)

I have a duck tape addiction. It's nothing I can't handle!

What is it? Is it duck tape or duct tape? That's a very good question indeed! I'm going with duck tape to cross-promote with the reboot of DuckTales coming...sometime. In the future. And you bet this blog will cover it! (if things don't interfere because I'll actually be taking a summer course during that time)

But for at least the second time in a row now I have to talk about how difficult this show is to review. Really. I'm just going to flat out say it: I hate reviewing this show.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I hate it. In fact I love it, if the unbroken string of A-scores are any indication. Spoiler alert: I'm giving this episode an A+. I hate doing that.

Why? Because it's honestly making writing these reviews a chore if you're just going to come in here and expect a forgone conclusion. And to just talk about how great this show is, and why it's so much better than Girl Meets World, blah blah blah blah blah. I can't just keep giving it A's all the time because then I start seriously losing my cred as a reviewer. But I can't not keep giving it A's when it's justified because that's just a disservice to the show. And I can't just stop reviewing it and just sit back and enjoy the show because so many people (well, the five or so of you who read this blog) just simply expect me to review it. It's truly become our new GMW.

Now, with GMW, the sheer volume of episodes incoming (sometimes on consecutive days) made it logistically difficult, and the quality of the show itself just started making it a chore. Watching Andi Mack is hardly a chore, again I freakin' love it, but it's becoming increasingly hard to find new ways to talk about how much I love this show and not just have it come off as fanboyish gushing (which it probably is anyway).

I guess at the end of the day that's a good problem to have, as it certainly beats having to review a really bad show on a regular basis (there's a reason why we've only reviewed three episodes of Bunk'd in that show's entire run). But at a certain point a solid unbroken string of A's starts looking as much of a disservice to the show as being outright dishonest about its scores, good or bad. For readers, especially new readers (I'm very optimistic that we'll actually have some) it's hard to distinguish a line between trying to convince them this show is that good and, well, fanboy gushing.

Maybe I'll come up with a way to fix this problem. Maybe I'll come up with new ways to convince people that this show really is all that. Maybe the show itself will just solve the problem for me and the next episode will turn out to be a real stinker, or at least in B territory. I don't know. At least I only have to worry about crossing this bridge again on Friday, at the earliest, if I don't just slack off again.

But to this episode - and actually, for a while it was skirting into B territory itself. Cyrus' storyline was seriously coming off as an inane time-filler, and maybe Bowie was being a bit awkward not only for Andi but the audience. So what saves this episode, and in fact launches it all the way into the stratosphere of A+ territory? It's because those things actually ended up having some really satisfying payoffs. Bowie's awkward "I just found out I had a daughter!" stage didn't even persist for that long before it started to have serious narrative and even emotional heft, to say nothing of that ending, tho. And even at the end of Cyrus' storyline, we can see hints that despite all of this exercise in personality gymnastics being over a stupid misunderstanding, and how Buffy absolutely is in the right that Cyrus shouldn't let it bother him and be comfortable himself, it wasn't a total waste because he still found something of personal value in that and was able to grow from it.

That's good children's television right there. And yes, that's something Girl Meets World had trouble executing (hell, it's something have trouble executing in my own creative writing) - it's gotta pay off

Episode Grade: A+. Again, no big surprise especially since, you know, I flat out told you this very explicitly several paragraphs ago. 
Episode MVP: Joshua Rush, and for some reason I have a feeling that this is his second MVP win in a row. I have to go check but I'm too lazy. But my point being, it's because of, again, how Cyrus shows personal growth in this. This easily could've gone to Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Lilan Bowden, Lauren Tom or even, uh, guy who plays Bowie for the same reasons.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Interesting that they have the outdoor shot of Buffy and Cyrus in the gazebo when it's snowing, especially since it's obviously a mid or even late spring snow with so much green outside. They also realized they could take advantage of it and shot it beautifully down to how they chose to transition into that scene. That's something TV shows in general usually forget to capitalize on. Incidentally, this episode aired during the last time it snowed here, (hopefully) the last snow of the season but then again it was already the latest I ever remember it snowing and at this point I could just about expect anything. Usually you could expect absolutely no snow in May, but now the last few years have seen quite a bit of snowfall at least in the early week of May. And here we are, having just elected a major climate change denier President.

 - I suppose I really should be spending more time talking about that payoff thing. But what it boils down to is that you need to show how your characters grow. And again, related to Joshua Rush's MVP win, it's not just the writing or the directing (well, the directing is a huge part of it) but the skill of the actor to make sure that shows, even subtly. In that regard you need to rely on both the actor's on skill and the director's ability to bring that out of the actor or even just to remember to include it in. For a writer, it can be difficult or easy depending on not so much the writer's skill but rather the context of the scene, and of course if the writer even remembers to add those details in.

 - One thing I forgot to include in my Radio Rebel/Shrinking Violet review is this weirdness from the bonus features:

...this isn't it, I'll have to see if I can actually encode it off the DVD and see whether or not I can "Fair Use"-it on YouTube.


  1. It's duct tape, but there is Duck brand duct tape. It stinks.

  2. This episode was good but a slighlty weaker one. It was a tad predictable and the subplot was especially underwhelming Started off with a hint of interesting themes but oh wait it's just a sitcom mis understanding.

    I expected just a tad more, although the main plot mostly made up for it, even if some bits weren't as good as they could have been.

    1. Oh it was really looking like a B+ for a good while there, but in the end I just felt the payoff was worth it.

  3. Can you review old and new cn and pbs like bare bears Steven universe amazing world of gumball


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