Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jessie Reviewed: "Green-Eyed Monster" (#2.02)

The plot in two sentences: Jessie's boyfriend Tony gets jealous when her cop friend Petey is spending a lot of time around her. The kids try to deal with a bunch of pet lizards. 

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. 


  1. First of all, it's "Unknown. Yeah, let's stick with that." But Blogspot's nice enough to truncate it down to just "Unknown (dot dot dot)." I was looking back in the GMW-R archives to dig up stuff about Eric and Boy Meets World to try to help explain things and I discovered the Unknown moniker apparently more properly belongs to you, Christian (before you just went around being called Christian). It's a name I came up with about two years ago when my creative writing professor encouraged me to actually do a YAL review blog that if you check through my account history I obviously never got to. Plus, I really don't have enough of an imagination to come up with something better (I am a huge fan of this Jessie show, after all).

    Speaking of which, as you said I have rather complex feelings about this, both about the show Jessie itself and the actress Debby Ryan that portrays the title character. Easily much more than what a kiddie show of this nature really should be getting. I could just admit that I have a massive crush on Debby but it'd do little more than just make me look like a serious creep and not get into why I like this actress/show so much either beyond just a simple TV-crush or away from the creepy factor. It's probably going to take multiple posts to do it too (instead of what I did last time and link to IMDb, I'm just going to lay it out all here).

    I guess I should say first of all I do have a weakness for redheads. I'm watching Suits right now and I can tell you my favorite character is Donna the redhead legal secretary. Yes, I had a thing for Chelsea all the way back to That's So Raven. No, Francesca Capaldi is more than a little young for me (though I'm with Christian on this one!)

    But anyway, to use something you might understand and as weird as it might seem Jessie is my Eric. As I said I went trolling back through the archives because I remember you and Sean talking about what a watershed moment in TV it was for the two of you to watch Boy Meets World and especially with Eric. I'm old enough to watch Boy Meets World through its entirety but just barely, I was a few years younger than either Ben himself or Cory when the show premiered. I loved that show even though it didn't have the impact it did for you (I'll even admit I even liked Sabrina the Teenage Witch a little better, though Boy Meets World is still miles above everything else). But zoom more than a few years ahead and I was in this place I didn't really want to be, and just through happenstance (really thanks to Phineas and Ferb, another show you should watch) I ended up watching a lot of Jessie. It might seem a little stupid but that show ended up really helping me pull through when I needed it.

    ..huh, I guess it was a little easier and shorter than I anticipated. If you still don't get it, there's this old show (well, it just got canceled recently) on Nickelodeon called See Dad Run, about an actor played by Scott Baio who retires to go back to his family. There's an episode called See Dad Downsize about a fan who's really enthusiastic about Baio's old show, maybe a little bit too much, and he explains that as stupid as the show was it ended up helping him through some tough times. That's the same way I feel about Jessie. I'm willing to bet it's the same way you feel about Boy Meets World.

    1. I could get into it more but that should be enough for now. But that's just me - there are 4 million other people who I have to explain about their attraction to Jessie too. Yes that's right 4 million, it used to compete with and sometimes beat even GMW in ratings before the Kidocalypse happened. The only thing I have to say is that the woman has real appeal. Debby had been an actress in some capacity since even younger than G. as someone pointed out in the Dog with a Blog review, but she's only ever been a television actress since Suite Life on Deck which was Disney's big flagship show just before Jessie. So her acting has been directed towards what the directors (including Rich Correll who has been with Disney Channel for a pretty damn long time) think would appeal to the core audience, which is why I think her acting comes off the way it does. She's done three TV movies for Disney - The Suite Life Movie, 16 Wishes and Radio Rebel, and she's a much better actress in any of those (I'm fully not expecting you to suffer through any of those so you can just take my word for it). And of course she was in Girl Meets Demolition, you can compare how she is in that episode to Green-Eyed Monsters. In the end it might just boil down to a "if you don't get it, you just don't get it" thing. I actually think she's a pretty great actress, though I agree her body language direction on Jessie is pretty bad, especially since for some reason she tends to do a lot of crouching like she needs to fit into the screen to accommodate her shorter costars. Her body language is a lot better in her TV movies. And speaking of Scott Baio, the woman who created Jessie is the same one who created Charles in Charge. And The Nanny which probably explains why this show is the way it is. And Married...With Children. I'm completely serious on that last point. It's amazing how someone with those credentials can make...this. Debby herself supposedly had a hand in crafting this show too, but to what extent I'm not sure. It could be just that she got to hand-pick who got to co-star with her. Oh, and the kids do have parents - a dad (Chip Epsten of Nashville) who's a director and a mom (Christina Moore of...stuff....) who's an actress. That explains both how they're super-rich and why they're never seen.

    2. On the other hand I can't exactly use that as an excuse for the acting. To be honest I think the acting and execution of Green-Eyed Monsters is just fine and it's still one of my most favorite episodes, but then again I like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. There are a few episodes that I think are still better but at the very best you're probably looking at a C+ grade tops.

      As for the spin-off, Bunk'd, well, it's a vehicle for Peyton List who plays Emma, the blonde (I guess I should add the character is named after Debby's real life best friend). It's not a vehicle for Debby. Debby is mostly done with Disney and especially the Jessie legacy, because she's pursuing a music career and for reasons that really are a bit too complicated and not really appropriate to go into here. But since you did mention she has a nice voice, she has a role lined up on a future Disney Junior series. But back to Peyton, she has massive appeal with the fanbase. Disney is banking pretty big on her.

      And I'm going to say that you can Sean have inspired me to see about getting my own review style blog started up, probably mostly about Jessie just to try to explore why this show has the appeal and popularity it is but I'd love to jump more regularly into other Disney (and Nickelodeon) shows too. I'd love to also have a partner too, because I really enjoy the back-and-fourth you and Sean have (especially seeing how you can have such different opinions on things) and to help temper me and reel me back in to try to add some objectivity to things. If any of you out there think it'd be a fun project, I'd be happy to come along with you.

      I guess that pretty much covers it - it still feels a little incomplete but if there are any gaps I can come back and cover them. I imagine that'll probably satisfy what you're looking for, in the space for what these comments will allow. I know you (and others and even me) have butted head with him on IMDb before but ferrisb-1b actually knows a lot about Jessie too, you can ask him about the show and what's so appealing about it too.

      There's also another regular commentator on here that I know for a fact used to hang out with me on the Debby Ryan fan message board before that blew up due to...well, it's complicated. If he wants to talk about Jessie I suppose he will, I'm not going to push or "out" him in any way (I don't think he's even that big of a Debby fan, I think he hung out there mostly for other reasons). But I will say I do know what the initials of his user name stand for :)

    3. Oh, I did forget - Debby didn't blow her audition out of the water (well, she did, way back in Suite Life on Deck) but they literally wrote the show around her, straight to order without a pilot. I meant to put that in there when I mentioned the miscellaneous stuff about the show's background details, but it's hard to keep track of stuff in these tiny Blogspot windows.

    4. What the heck is the Kidocalypse? There's nothing on her wikipedia page about kids, so I'll shoot in the dark and guess that she started looking heavier at some point, leading to massive speculation that she was pregnant, and that this event is what messed up imdb for you. Total guess though. Also, hey, she's 22, don't be embarrassed. Unless you're like, sending her love letters, I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of.

      That's interesting stuff though. Everybody loves at least one silly thing. For me, it's many silly things. More importantly...

      CHIP FUCKING ESTEN IS THEIR DAD???????????? WHAT EPISODES IS HE IN!? YOU FUCKING TELL ME RIGHT NOW! That ties back in to improv, he was always my favorite variant performer on Whose Line (all you Brad Sherwoods can go to hell). Wow... I wonder if he had input on the improv scene in this episode. God I hope so.

    5. I AGREE WITH YOU AND LOVE CHIP ESTEN!!! He is in the pilot, Christmas story, star wars and gotcha day.

    6. No no no no no no no NO! Sorry, I probably should've explained what that was. The Kidocalypse has nothing to do with Jessie specifically, it refers to the massive ratings decline all across the board with all Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows that occurred during the weekend of July 11-13 2014 (so a little over a year ago). The weekend prior to that all the Disney Channel shows including Jessie, Austin & Ally, Girl Meets World, Dog With a Blog, Liv and Maddie so on posted their up to then usual 3+ million ratings, but suddenly during that specific weekend everything crashed to about the 1.5 million mark or even less. A few weeks later things started to stabilize and recover but almost never since has a show gone above 2.5 million viewers except on special occasions (series premieres, super-hyped events etc.) It's called the "Kidocalypse" because, well, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are still by and large kids' networks. Before the Kidocalypse Jessie (the show, not the actress - although that too) was almost insanely popular, and even after the ratings black hole Jessie (again, the show, not the actress - although again, that too) still remains very popular relative to everything else on Disney and especially Nick. Oh yeah, Nickelodeon especially got hit very hard, to the point where it changed that network's entire schedule landscape and business model. Here's an article about the whole thing:

      I probably should've explained a little more what the Kidocalypse was and at least meant that in the context I meant the show, not the actress - though really they can be interchangable in most contexts because Debby (and Peyton) really are the central appeal of the show. But in no way did I mean to imply people thought Debby was pregnant - my bad! But in all fairness yes, her apparent weight (or sometimes lack thereof) does tend to come under scrutiny. She's a lot like another Disney Channel queen, Demi Lovato in that regard (and a lot of people think they look alike, especially now that it's technically post-Jessie).

      And thanks, though it's not gotten to the point of love letters. Yet :)

      I really think you and Christian should watch the See Dad Downsize episode of See Dad Run, even if you never comment on it here. It's something you can just jump into without having any more background than what I already explained, and I think it does a really good job selling why people do have a lot of attachment to silly things sometimes. I'm also going to say that I actually have a little bit in common with the character who becomes obsessed with Scott Baio in that episode (you'll figure it out as soon as you see him, it's kind of impossible to miss).

      I don't know if Chip Esten had input in Green Eyed Monsters, by that point he pretty much left to do Nashville. If you're thinking he really was a presence on Jessie, you'd of course be correct. He's in the first episode, New York New Nanny, Gotcha Day (that was another episode I was thinking of recommending but it'd probably end up a little worse than even Green-Eyed Monsters), Star Wars (the one that got over 7 million viewers because it aired after the Wizards of Waverly Place finale) and maybe one or two others, but his episodes just ended up being few and far between. Christina Moore, for as little as she's on the show, still shows up a lot more including into the current season (she's in the Jessie series finale, I'm sad to say Esten is not).

  2. Damn, Christian and Sean are two good-looking guys. I'd watch you two in a sitcom.

    1. We're both fledgling creatives, so we just have to move to TV's magically-affordable-New-York-City and the show writes itself.

    2. "Real life isn't a CARTOON, Sean!"
      "Yeah go write a book about it, asshole."

    3. At the very least, you're welcome to come to Chicago, and participate in some Improv with me! Or, as I like to call it, Wacky Make-'em-Ups.

  3. Also a little bit off topic but I'm wondering what you think of the Nick and More site coming back. It's the only other blog that I've seen that's even remotely close to what GMW/BMW Reviewed does.

  4. Was what was written above a TL:DR situation. Well then let me help, with the history that is.

    Debby Ryan was originally cast on an old DC show "Suite Life On Deck", which is apart of the Suite Life franchise. Which is the longest running franchise, in terms of seasons, in DC history. When it was ending, she approached DC, and exec. producer Pamela Ellis O'Connell about this idea for her own show. That show ended up being "Jessie". Debby is essentially the co-creator and had/has influence over the casting and probably some of the writing. She's even directed a couple episodes. So, she was kind of put in this position as the "face" of the network. (Well, that can be up for debate) Seasons 1&2 of this show were really good. Then the genre wide drop in ratings happened, and so did the drop in quality of the show. Its been bad. Really bad. I won't get into the reason why Debby isn't in the spin-off, but just know its due to backstage issues. I am a fan of her, and I heard she recently booked her first feature. So, I wish her all the best.

    Yes, the kids have parents. They just don't show them often, which I know is an issue for many. Then again, I'd rather there be no parents on screen, than them go to the "idiot adult" trope all kid's TV uses.

    Christian, that was funny as all hell. Well done, sir.

    1. You and Unknown both are being very sneaky and vague about Debby and backstage issues. Are you not saying it because it's speculative and/or scandalous? Or because it's boring?

    2. It's boring in the sense of if you think the stuff TMZ, Perez Hilton and Crazy Days and Nights delves into is boring. In other words it's just run of the mill celebrity gossip. But more to the point it's definitely speculative and maybe a little bit scandalous in nature. I'm really not in a hurry to get into details out of respect for both Debby herself and this blog, but on the IMDb message board for Jessie there are tons of threads dedicated to this speculation, and that some of the Twitter activity (especially from Skai Jackson - Zuri, the littlest sister on the show) have seemingly at times very willingly dumped an oil tanker's worth of fuel onto that fire.

      What I am going to say is that Debby doesn't seem to be done with Disney Channel (as I said she's lined up a role on an animated Disney Junior project, and I'm willing to lay real money on the line that we haven't seen the last of Aubrey Macavoy on Girl Meets World either especially since she and Rowan seem to be really fond of each other) but she does seem to want to be done with the Jessie legacy. Much like how Miley Cyrus "killed" Hannah Montana, if you want to think of it that way. And given that as pwfan said Debby herself has put a lot of her personal sweat and creative energy into making the show and her own stardom a reality from the very beginning, and that Jessie is a big part of her success, recognizably and likability as an actress/celebrity, that she almost has to have mixed feelings about burying the Jessie character.

      Also, even I have to agree that the Jessie theme is the worst out of all the current Disney Channel shows, maybe of all of Disney Channel history. She recorded that back when she was still trying to discover the whole singing thing period and she was still probably regularly seeing singing coaches. I really, really wish they had just redone the theme at one point like they freakin' did with Austin & Ally. She's a much better singer now, trust me (yes of course I've attended one of her concerts).

  5. Hey sorry that this is unrelated to Jessie, but I wasn't sure where else to write this. You guys have probably seen the Twitter for "girl meets writers " but if any of you aren't following it yet, go ahead and do so! They promised that at 50 thousand followers they would do a massive q&a over Twitter and they'd give a lot of hints about the rest
    Of season 2. Last time they did it,
    It was totally worth it and they actually gave a ton of information. They're at 46.7k followers so let's get that to 50k.

    Sean and Christian if you guys throw that in your next review I'm sure a bunch more people will read it. Thanks again for these btw I love this blog

    1. That could be interesting, but I think a lot of the questions I have would yield disappointing answers.
      "How many more episodes is Eric in?" "One" :(
      "Do Lucas and Maya ever go on a date?" "No" :(
      "Has Trina McGee reached out to apologize?" "No" :(

    2. Actually if it makes you feel any better I think the writers have been hinting at maya and Lucas becoming a thing from their Twitter:
      "@GMWWriters: August 7: Rucas? Lucaya? One moment. Listen for it.
      We've been preparing you since they talked in the library.
      Season 2: Growth. Here we go."

      Or at the very least they're entertaining it. Don't forget that throwaway line from new teacher where auggie asked if two girls can like the same guy and they can all stay friends ..

    3. Man - can I just say, I've seen a lot of these GMW writer tweets and I hate them. Like, not what they're saying. But how they say it. They do this kind of thing a lot:

      "Rucas? Lucaya? One moment. Listen for it. Season 2: Growth. Here we go." What's wrong with you? Talk like regular people.

    4. I doubt they would even acknowledge the Trina McGee question.

    5. The GMW Writers Twitter account talks like the people on Jessie.

  6. You know what would be an interesting experiment for you guys? Reviewing Nickelodeon live-action sitcoms alongside the DC ones.

    1. They'd love Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn, Make it Pop, Every Witch Way and Talia in the Kitchen.

  7. These special projects have been great. If you guys want something to do on the week off maybe you could record the first few episodes of the show. They're all on YouTube and it might be fun to take a look back.

  8. christian and sean better get a television show one day goddamn it