The lizard story is so stupidly insane that I honestly think someone was joking when they pitched it, and their boss was just hung over enough to say "sure, do that." Everyone seems to be okay with having this many lizards in the house. It's too many lizards.
In an abstract, macroscopic view, there are some okay things about this episode, if you completely ignore the lizard story. Tony and Petey are normal guys working shit jobs, neither is close to being a Lucas-level super model, and neither has dreams of being a star, which is the most annoying aspect of many Disney Channel characters. And Tony's jealousy is a generally relatable problem. Granted, it's probably a one-episode problem, like Lucas's anger issues, but it deserves a similar amount of credit. Further, Tony takes Jessie on a date to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
So Tony and Petey are alright in my book. What about Jessie? She, on the other hand, does dream of being a star, and moved here to NYC to become an actress. Normally with these types of characters, they're super talented from day one and just need their big break, or they have to overcome their shyness, or whatever. But in this episode Jessie actually has to take the time to develop her skills, in the form of going to an improv class with Petey.
I did improv in high school, so the improv stuff spoke to me. Petey explains the hyper important core of improv, the "yes and-", to Jessie, which I appreciate, and it turns out that Jessie is bad at this, which I also appreciate. 90% of improv is people fumbling around trying too hard to be funny, and their performance captured the soul of that, I think. I don't know if most people would get anything out of these scenes, but for me personally it was enjoyable insofar as "heh, that's pretty spot on," including the shitty audience suggestions.
That all sounds pretty good. But those good ideas don't automatically materialize into a good script. There was one funny moment where the oldest female kid thought the house's intercom voice was God, but the rest of the humor was a huge miss for me. And it was not aided by every actor's poor delivery. None of the actors are remarkable. Petey's actor is probably the best of the bunch. If you ever saw School of Thrones on youtube, he played Theon.
Debby Ryan is... okay... worse than the lead girl on DWaB, but better than the voice actor for The Dog. As an aspiring voice actor myself, it makes me angry that someone gets paid to be that terrible. Speaking of voices, that's easily my favorite thing about Ryan. Her voice is excellent, I think she would thrive in a cartoon where her poor body language wouldn't be a problem.
Worst of all, she's a blinker. She blinks like a hundred times during every single line. Repeat after me: You cannot convey emotion with your eyelids.
The writing itself was freshman year of an English degree. Everyone sort of talks the same way and uses the same words. You pick any sentence from the show and I wouldn't be able to tell you who said it or how they feel about what they're saying.
This episode of Jessie gets a D- from me. (With a very secret C- if I'm unashamedly biased over the improv stuff.)
We basically agree on this one. Joey Richter is best known to me as Ron Weasley from A Very Potter Musical which I can't recommend more highly for a Harry Potter fan. Check it out on YouTube, so it was a treat to see him, but he was the only one with even a modicum of talent here and even he was realllllly camping it up.
In my real life, I actually do improv around Chicago at places like Second City and stuff, so this was also a treat for me for the same reasons it was for you. But yeah, while none of this is too bad in theory, it's all shit in execution. It's got the opposite problem of DWaB which is a horrible idea in theory but its execution was like.... kinda/sorta okay.
The writing is VERY bad. And I've seen more of Jessie than I have the rest of these Disney shows, because it's usually on before new GMWs, and it seems to consistently be this bad. Say what you will about Dog with a Blog OR Liv & Maddie, but clearly they are written by people at least moderately competent. You're absolutely right that this feels like a Freshman in college wrote this. It's just really bad.
The one thing I'll say about the actors is that this is the earliest episode I've seen of this show, and I do know they get better. In particular the boys, who are both significantly improved in what I've seen of them. Ravi (who is clearly doing a fake Indian accent) is absolutely awful in this one, to the point where I can barely understand him. In what I've seen of the recent episode, he's still the worst one, but he's markedly improved. So, there is that.
I really don't see what the big deal of this Debby Ryan is. Perhaps "Unknown..." who seems to have rather complex feelings about her can shed some light. She's not bad or anything, but what's the big deal here? How did this become Disney's flagship show? Am I right in thinking it is, it seems like it is, what with all the Debby Ryan attention and then that it's getting a spinoff?
I dunno. This is clearly the worst of the three. Also, do these kids not have parents? I've never seen their parents. Do they legitimately not have parents? Is Jessie their legal guardian?
Oh, and one more thing:
Wohoah! At long last, the man himself, a face for a name! Look at that, Christian was a hundred times funnier in 40 seconds than Jessie was in 25 minutes.
That's good about the boys. The one with freckles stuck out as having potential, several tiers above Ravi, but we didn't get to see him a lot in this one.
I was thinking the Debby Ryan hype might be contractual, like she blew her audition out of the water and negotiated the flagship-ness into her contract. It's a solid explanation for Disney Channel continuing to put their eggs into this consistently lame basket... but then why the spinoff? The spinoff doesn't even have Debby Ryan, or the kid with freckles. Freckles is doing "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything" instead, which is likely the most valuable career choice of his young life. So... I dunno, what is Disney Channel investing in? It's weird.
Also wanted to add that Jessie had the worst theme song that we've seen so far. I know how important that is for everybody.
The redhead girl... man, I'll just have to watch it again, I'm clearly missing something. Maybe if I mute the audio whenever the dog shows up...
You guys, he deleted, it, but before Sean made SUCH A MISTAKE. I won't tell you about it. But OH BOY, was there EGG ON HIS FACE.
Yeah, you're right, though, Jessie's theme song is garbage. I remember thinking how bad it was. It's bad.
Yeah, I actually ended up watching the first half of the Michelle Obama episode too, and the freckle kid isn't bad. He's going to be in your Descendants movie as Cruella DeVil's son, I think, so, look out!
Episode Rating: D+
Episode MVP: Joey Richter (who, IMDb tells me, hasn't been in an episode of this show in years)
Next time we'll do Austin & Ally for real.