Monday, July 27, 2015

Liv and Maddie Reviewed: "Cook-a-Rooney" (#2.16)

Jumping up front here to explain what this is about for those confused: We're not starting to actually review Liv & Maddie too. We're just going to review one episode each of all the current Disney Shows and compare/contrast them with GMW and one another. This is the first!

Every episode of this show is structured xxx-a-Rooney, which... is dumb, if I'm being gentle about it. But this was one of the higher rated episodes and the description sounded fun. 

Indeed, fun is right where we start. Two young male characters are destroying a card board rendition of their town, dressed as a giant robot and a dinosaur. That's awesome man, that's some shit I'd want to do in real life. Liv, the "girly" sister, and her mother join in too. It's a little over-done with the slow motion shots, but overall it's a good time.

I think brevity is important in this post, nobody needs a play by play of Liv and Maddie, but first impressions are also important. So there. Also, the voice Dove Cameron uses for Liv makes it abundantly clear why they wanted Kristen Chenoweth to play her mother in Descendants. It's high pitched in a unique way, like Chenoweth's. 

This episode has three stories. First is Liv trying to gently reject her younger brother's friend, who evidently has a crush on her. The obvious twist is that he doesn't. There's nothing special here, but Dove Cameron is surprisingly skilled. She is carrying this show on her back.  

The second story is the older of the two brothers inventing fake clubs at school to take "field trips," which consist of various forms of goofing off. The dad on this show is also the basketball coach at school, so he ends up working in tandem with his son on these field trip cons. That's a great idea, it's actually a hilarious and refreshing concept for a one-off gag. Unfortunately, the actors are both average at best and the execution is unimpressive.
The third story, though, and the real meat of the episode, is about Maddie, the "sporty" sister. And now we can address the most important question of this series. Dove Cameron plays both Liv and Maddie, so are they sufficiently different? Yes, 100%. The mannerisms, body language, voice, and speech patterns are all distinct. You can chalk some of that up to writing, but Cameron clearly knows what she's doing. I was expecting something like Lindsay Lohan in the Parent Trap, but this is in another universe compared to that. BIG thumbs up from me on the portrayal and characterization of Liv and Maddie. I'm curious to check out the pilot episode to see if it's something Cameron nailed right away or if she's built up to this over time.

This story is about Maddie trying not to fail Home Ec. Her only chance is to win the Home Ec cooking contest against the class brown-noser, Artie. The teacher, by the way, is played by Kevin James for some reason... It's arguably a better role than any of his films in the last few years. 
They make a point of heavily explaining that Artie has a crush on Liv. I was convinced that Liv would somehow persuade Artie to let Maddie win the contest in a Disney-tastic expression of sisterly love, BUT THIS AIN'T THAT BULL SHIT YOU'RE USED TO! Maddie wins on her own with a fucking awesome idea because she's a strong character. The "Snack-adium" was entirely unpredictable, creative, and character-specific (because she likes sports). It's awesome. And Maddie knows it's awesome.
Straight up, I liked this a lot. Maddie is a well written character that I'd like to see more of, and not just because she's good looking. Liv is probably equally compelling, but she was off to the side for this episode. The brothers are both kinda lame. The parents are lame. But I'll be very surprised if Dove Cameron doesn't have a future after this. Sabrina Carpenter is without a doubt the best actor on Disney Channel, but I'd wager that Cameron is a strong second.

Christian? Don't break my heart man.

Oh. This was more involved than I was expecting! I thought we'd do one post snapshotting everything! Okay then!

I more or less agree with your thoughts. From the little I've seen of all these shows, I knew Liv & Maddie was one that looked a little better than the rest, and mainly because of Dove Cameron who, I agree, is great. While this was a Maddie-centric episode, I actually liked her performance as Liv a little better, as it seems to be the role that requires more acting (in that I'm sure Maddie's voice is Cameron's actual voice, and Liv's high-pitched voice is fake) and, I dunno, I actually just found Liv super endearing. 

Liv & Maddie were notably segregated in this one, appearing only together in the final scene, and in that scene never actually speaking to one another. While I've never seen a full episode before, I've seen beginnings and endings of a few, and I actually am not sure I'veseen much of Liv and Maddie interacting. Now, it makes sense that they'd have each character anchor a different story, but... they're twin sisters and the title characters of this show too. So, I wonder how often they interact? Is that a problematic aspect? I know with movie magic you can get people in the same scene, but there may still be awkwardness there. Chemistry is important with cast members, and I'm not sure how much chemistry Dove Cameron can have... with herself... in a scene she filmed earlier.

Totally random that Kevin James is in this episode. I'll also add my props that he's a bigger guest star than GMW has ever had, and yet Liv & Maddie didn't feel the need to have the audience erupt into applause when he came out.  Still, what the hell is Kevin James doing in this? Is he, like, that Artie kid's real life dad? Also, Artie sucks. Is he an every episode kind of guy? Yikes.

Both the Mom AND Dad work at the school, eh? While I get that it helps them stay involved, it feels like too much. Very glad Topanga's not at JQA too as there as Riley's, like, math teacher. 

Both brothers sucked, particularly the older one. The dad's not great either. Mom's okay. While, yeah, I was obviously not Liv who the kid had the crush on, I kind of thought it might be the Mom. 

Overall, I'd give this a B-. Like you said, Cameron absolutely carries this show. There's nothing here worth watching but her (well, and Kevin James, I guess, but that's just in this episode) and it wasn't really that funny. Still, not nearly as offensive as some other Disney stuff I've seen. Am I going to tune into the show? Nah. But I wouldn't rush to change the channel after a GMW episode either. 

But if this is indicative of one of the best episodes of L&M, I would have to say I'd consider Girl Meets World to be the superior show. 


Everyone, take this Official YouTube quiz to find out  if you're more like LIV or like MADDIE! I got... I got Maddie.

Yeah, I had no intention of getting in depth, but was compelled after thoroughly not hating it. B- sounds good. There are plenty of GMW episodes less entertaining than this. But you're right, if one of the strongest episodes got maybe four laughs out of me... Do you think that any episode of "Dog With A Blog" is better than even Girl Meets Fish? I GUESS WE'LL FIND OUT. 

I got Liv... in the quiz... Based off that video it seems like her real voice is in between her two characters. And based off the credits on IMDB, they use lookalikes when Liv and Maddie are in the scene together. There was one part of that quiz where it very obviously wasn't Dove playing Maddie. Interesting.

Oh, I actually have a specific Dog with a Blog episode I'd like us to do. I'll look into it. It was an episode I started watching after a GMW episode ended, and I recall being slightly curious about where they were going with it. Not enough to... not turn off the TV. But still. I'll hunt that episode down, and maybe that'll be next as long as it's not regarded as, like, a blemish on DwaB's good name!

And, I should have known you'd be a Liv. Always chilling at home in a sparkly shirt with your hair all glam and curled!  I wanna take a "Are you Riley or Maya quiz?" now. This is all I found when I tried to find if they had one of those. 

It's Rowan and Sabrina reading a scene as each other's characters. VERDICT: Sabrina could play Riley, Rowan absolutely could not play Maya. 

OH WAIT! Here's one with Disney Channel characters from ALL shows! You can be Liv and Maddie (again), Riley and Maya, Jessie, and Ally. They didn't even bother with anybody from Dog with a Blog or I Didn't Do It or K.C. Undercover. 


Wow, that's a fun idea for a video. I would KILL to see Rider and Ben do that. Or have Will in there for the three way swap. Rowan just has the one voice, apparently, but man, Sabrina is way too good for this channel. 

I got Liv again, so it's basically official at this point. The quiz reminded me how much I disliked the mocumentary segments in Liv and Maddie. It's such a lazy direction choice to have those snippets of the characters talking to the audience. For shame. At least Modern Family sometimes makes vague references to why it's all being filmed.

NEXT UP! "Avery Dreams of Kissing Karl" from Season 3 of Dog with a Blog. 

Oh, I didn't give an MVP here: Dove Cameron, natch. I imagine she wins it every episode. The odds are in her favor, character-wise. 


  1. While I didn't see this episode in particular, I just wanted to jump in and heap more praise on Dove Cameron. I remember reading the press releases when Dove was announced as the star of L&M, and how she was going to play 2 roles AND get a DCOM right out of the gate, and you guys nailed it. She is extremely talented. One of the most talented young women DC has ever hired. Once she's done with the network, I have no doubt she'll be on to much bigger and better things. Whether it be in acting, or singing.

    1. Oh yeah, and Sabrina is much too talented for DC in her own right. And I hope Rowan will work her way to such a status.

  2. Wow you're not kidding about Rowan and Sabrina. Sabrina nailed it, I think Rowan was having too much trouble getting past (laughing) at Sab's performance.

    And this is incredibly minor but you can get K.C. Cooper from KC Undercover in the quiz, she's a "hidden" character you have to "unlock."