Commercial Break

Imagine having to start your acting career playing the younger brother of this frightful beast:


That’s precisely the handicap from which Ryan Reynolds has been attempting to recover for over a quarter of a century, and I must admit he’s done a very impressive job.  But like most Hollywood success stories, fame comes at a price.  Whether one’s poison is alcohol, cocaine, heroin, gambling, promiscuity or Toon Blast, addiction touches us all, as Ryan so courageously illustrates in the following PSAs:


Return of The Phantom

ash back

Season 2, Episode 4

We open on Brooke moping in bed amidst a menagerie of emotional support (stuffed) animals.


Of course, Brooke’s hastily fashioned happy place can’t withstand the onslaught of Amanda’s inevitable intrusion, so she reluctantly gets up and walks back over to her desk where she’d abandoned her homework in progress.  Brooke defends herself against her little sister’s bitterly sarcastic taunts by calling her “Daddy’s Little Darling”, to which Amanda responds with a mock apology for not realizing her elder sibling’s life was “so tragic”.

Dylan enters The Avalon and approaches the booth where Billy is sitting alone reading a comic book.  He greets The Little Drummer Boy with a cheerful “Hey, Kid,” only to receive a confusing dose of annoyed sarcasm in reply.  Fonzie asks if something’s bugging him, but since Deadpool is under the impression that he was fired from the band in absentia, he leaves Dylan to guess the source of the enormous stick that’s wedged between his (world’s sexiest) ass cheeks.  Finally, Billy starts to chew him oot but finds himself at a loss for words.  He gets up from his seat and shouts, “I thought you were a friend of mine,” before bolting oot the door.

In the student lounge, Matt is reading a magazine as he lobs a half-eaten apple into a nearby trash can.  From behind, The Headbanded Whore of Hillside shouts, “Two points!  Matt Walker does it again!” as she sensuously slides her ass into the chair next to him.  They proceed to repeat the same conversation they had yesterday, nearly word for word, so I let the video roll while I get up and make myself a sandwich.  Turkey breast, Swiss cheese, tomato and mayo on marble Jewish rye, to be exact.  I return from my brief repast to find that these two asswipes are still apology-flirting until Matt finally switches gears and tells Courtney that he was thinking of writing a letter to Jake, but “you know…writing letters?  Guys have to be careful aboot that sort of thing…people might start to think you’ve gone all sensitive.”  They both agree that it will be good to see Jake again in “just another few weeks”, or 9 ½ more blog posts for those who prefer to mark the passage of time by my online activity.  Courtney gets up to go to class, but before she’s oot of earshot, Matt asks her if things are getting serious between her and Jake.  Loathe to jeopardize any potential romance, she plays it safe and tells Matt, “Wanna know the truth?  I’m still wondering myself.  If I ever figure it oot, I’ll let you know.”  Great, while you’re at it, how aboot letting Jake know, too, you festering genital wart.

The next scene opens on these three total strangers walking through the locker vestibule reminiscing aboot some unknown kid’s “wild party” that raged on until 2:00 a.m. and its upcoming repeat performance:


They continue to talk as they approach the stairs when Brooke appears and says hi, indicating that she must be familiar with these episode interlopers.  Apparently, she’s expecting an invite to the party, but as soon as she makes this apparent, they beat a hasty retreat up the stairs.  Amanda is lurking close by wearing a satisfied smirk, so Brooke loudly laments the trio’s rudeness and “inexcusable” behavior.  Seemingly unfamiliar with her new sister, she sets Amanda up for some easy shots by wondering aloud, “What’s going on around here?  People used to look up to me.  I used to be popular!”, but Amanda merely grins and walks away.

I didn’t think the Nick cartoon “Doug” dated back this far, but apparently I was wrong aboot that, because the next scene opens on Leah wearing a Doug T-shirt as she discusses her upcoming sleepover with some other girl in the locker vestibule.  They greet Erin at the soda machine and continue debating what videos to rent for the party.  Erin asks them if they’re discussing Leah’s planned Friday night sleepover and they confirm that they are but again neglect to invite her.

Courtney schleps into The Avalon and Brooke calls oot to her from a nearby table.  Stevie Nicks of Saskatoon takes the opportunity to rip into Brooke for reading Jake’s letter and blaming it on Matt, so Brooke takes that as her opportunity to turn the tables with a torrent of self-pity: “Fine.  You can think what you like aboot me, it doesn’t matter.  I’m getting used to it.  People don’t have a clue where I’m coming from and can’t be bothered to find oot.  You know, you don’t have to put up with my sister, or my father, or with four hours of geometry homework every night!”  She then gets up from her seat and splits just when I was foolishly thinking that this scene might have a discernible point.

Oh fuck.  I knew the time would come sooner or later, but I guess now’s as good a time as any to rip off the band-aid and get our first taste of Stacy oot of the way.  Amanda comes down the stairs and sees a blue pom-pom laying on the floor, so she bends to pick it up.  A girl in a blue cheerleader uniform approaches, takes the pom-pom from Amanda and introduces herself as Stacy Collins.  This is the grotesque, groaning, awkward swamp thing I’ve dubbed Who Farted, and I will continue to refer to her as such for the duration of the series.  They chat for a few seconds and Who Farted makes it clear that she admires Amanda’s older sister, eliciting a less-than-subtle sneer from her new acquaintance.

stacy first

Back to the student lounge for round 2 of Dylan vs. Deadpool.  Before Billy can dodge him, Dylan desperately pleads with his little friend to tell him what the problem is, so Deadpool breathlessly blurts, “I don’t believe you!  You kick me oot of the band, you don’t even have the guts to tell me to my face…and then you pretend that you don’t know what the problem is!”  Dylan replies, “I kicked you oot of the band?  How come I don’t know anything aboot it?”  Billy explains that Amanda told him, so Dylan marches directly over to her locker to give her the third degree.  In an uncharacteristically nervous tone, she advises Dylan that Chris told her, prompting Dylan to declare, “I’m gonna kill him!”

Ugh.  Matt and Erin at The Avalon counter.  She tells Matt aboot how she wasn’t invited to Leah’s party and once again decries her lack of friends, so Matt gives her a pity invite to a movie on Friday night while Courtney conducts a wordless transaction with an employee at the register in the background.  Erin thanks her brother and leaves, so Herpes Simplex 2 saunters over to tell him that the conversation upon which she was eavesdropping was “really sweet”.  He shrugs off her compliment, but she continues, “I mean it.  Lots of guys wouldn’t even bother to notice that their sister was feeling lousy.”  Okay, that’s it.  FUCK YOU, COURTNEY!  Your brother was feeling lousy for the entirety of last season, but you wouldn’t remember that, of course, because you couldn’t bother to stop obsessing aboot Dylan long enough to notice, you fucking hypocritical flea-infested Yeti.

Jumpin’ Jesus on a Jitney, it’s like they’re playing musical chairs at the fucking Avalon counter!  Just as the last vapid conversation draws to a close, Arseman wanders up to the register to mutely pantomime buying a pack of gum.  She stares at Courtney as she walks past, eliciting a confused “What?” from her friend, to which she coyly replies, “Oh, nothing.  Nothing at all.”  In other words, Courtney, your flirtation is aboot as subtle as Charlie Sheen on a 3 day Vegas bender.

Back at Hillside, Erin is sitting on a bench when Leah walks by and says hi.  She asks her mopey friend, “Is 6:00 okay for you…for the sleepover Friday night?”  When Erin expresses surprise, Leah tells her that of course she’s invited, she just didn’t feel she had to ask her because they’re “best friends”, so she assumed it was a given.  Erin smiles, and so do I at the realization that this ridiculous and pointless plot line has finally resolved itself.

Shit…okay, it almost finally resolved itself.  Now she has to break her date with Matt, which the next scene mercifully takes care of promptly.  As Erin walks away from her brother, Dylan swaggers over to his nearby locker and Matt asks him if he’s ever tried to keep up with a 12-year-old, to which Leather Jacket cryptically replies, “Not lately.”  Matt smiles and says, “Don’t bother, it’s impossible,” before walking away from his…sworn enemy?  New friend?  Conveniently situated acquaintance?  This fucking show makes less and less sense by the second.

Courtney and Arseman sit down at a booth in The Avalon with some drinks and a couple of plates of French fries.  They’re discussing Ashley and the fact that no one has heard from her since she left for private school.  Courtney resolves to write her “best friend” a letter.  Switching gears, Arseman straight up asks her what’s going on between her and Matt.  When Courtney asks what she means, Arseman tells her that the way they act around each other is “not exactly like Romeo and Juliet, but not exactly like Shredder and the Ninja turtles, either,” and I am impressed at the durability of my laptop while I proceed to pummel it violently with my fists.  Courtney protests that since he was Ashley’s boyfriend, she never even thought aboot him that way before finally conceding that “he’s kinda cute” and wistfully pretending that this is the first time she’s ever stopped to think aboot any potential attraction.

At the Blackwell garage, Dylan is perched on a sawhorse noodling on his guitar when Chris enters and asks how it’s going.  Not only are Chris and Dylan’s jeans identical, but even the Ramones-style holes in the knees are in the exact same spots.  Dylan gets up and faces Chris, telling him that he knows he told Amanda that Billy was kicked oot of the band.  Chris acknowledges this fact, brushing it off as “just a slip of the tongue, I guess.”  Dylan grabs him by the shirt prompting Chris to snarl, “Get that hand off me…NOW!!”  Releasing his grip, Dylan sternly warns his delinquent bandmate, “Just don’t you ever pull a stunt like that again.  It’s my band…and Billy stays.”

chris dyl fight

Who Farted enters The Avalon with two other girls and tells them that she’ll “catch up with them in a sec” upon seeing Brooke sitting alone at a booth.  She stands there awkwardly groaning flattering platitudes at her idol before inviting her to come join her and her friends in the pinball room.  Brooke snottily declines, but then seems to realize that this is the biggest display of undeserved adulation she’s received in quite some time, so she instead invites Who Farted to join her.  She does, of course.  Who Farted is annoying enough in these early episodes, but at least at this point when she’s still a little kid that hasn’t yet blossomed into full ghastliness, I can still listen to her speak withoot simultaneously plotting oot the details of a multi-state killing spree.  She tells Brooke that she’s always wanted to talk to her, but finds her a little intimidating, which seems to please Brooke immensely, and a new friendship is born.  Christ, I wish Kelly was still here.


Band practice at Dylan’s garage, with Deadpool back behind the drum kit wearing a shit-eating grin.  The song (for lack of a better word) ends and Billy and Chris immediately begin sniping at each other, causing Dylan to shout, “Alright, THAT’S ENOUGH!!  We’re a band!  We’re in this together, so let’s just get on with it!”  Chris lays off Billy long enough to growl that the band needs a singer, and Dylan agrees.

Brooke and her new protégé enter her room as Who Farted marvels at its opulence.  Who Farted suggests they go to the mall, but Brooke advises she’s loaded down with geometry homework.  Not missing a beat, Who Farted officially gets into Brooke’s good graces by telling her that her brother is a whiz at geometry and he might be willing to “help” her (the going rate is $20 a pop, incidentally).  Enter Amanda with a message from Dad who wants to know how her homework is going, prompting Brooke to respond, “Tell Dad it’s completely under control and tell him my friend and I are at the mall.”

A waiter at The Avalon delivers some food to the table of a solitary girl who looks strikingly familiar from behind just as Dylan enters from the pinball room and spots her.

ash avalon

“Ashley!  What are you doing here?”

“just having some fries.”

“No, I mean what are you doing in town? I thought you were at private school.”

“i was.”

“Well, then, how come you’re back?”

“i’m not.”


“i’m not here.  you didn’t see me.  so just don’t tell anyone, alright?”

“Look…um…I don’t get this.”

“just don’t tell anyone…please.”

She gets up and runs oot the door as I heave a sigh of relief that Whisperina hasn’t lost her flair for annoyingly cryptic dialogue.  I hope she finds Matt and Courtney oot in the parking lot drunkenly groping each other on top of Filth Pig’s car.

An Awkward Pause


Season 2, Episode 3

On May 31, 2019, faithful and long-suffering reader Anony Mole left the following comment below my last post: “Are you done yet? (Pleezze gawd oh gawd, let the mudge be dun.)”  I always try to respond to my readers’ inquiries, so before we launch into episode 3 of Fifteen’s sublime second season, please excuse me while I address Mr. Mole’s inquiry:

Not a fucking chance in Hell, my friend.  My dad was in town for a visit for the past 3 weeks, hence the brief sabbatical.  As soon as I turned the corner from season 1 to season 2, you should have realized that this will be, as promised, a 65-episode ride.  All good?  Right, then let’s waste no further time.

Matt is alone at The Avalon reading a magazine when Dave enters and approaches his booth.  Dave is still wearing his Hillside letterman’s jacket, and I can hardly blame him considering that it’s the most prestigious garment this monotonous jock strap scrubber will ever own.  Matt wallows in self-pity for a bit, lamenting that the perusal of Sports Illustrated is his only current connection to the world of athletics.  Dave responds by droning the blues aboot his status as the team’s underwear boy in our first extended exposure to his abysmally awful acting, even by Canadian teen soap opera standards.  He encourages his hero to talk to Coach Williams aboot possibly getting another shot to play on the team, but even Matt appears too bored to be paying any attention to this somnambulistic suck-up.

Brooke is doing homework when Amanda knocks on the door and informs her sister that it’s quarter after eight and if she doesn’t leave now, she’ll be late for school.  The conversation that follows is ridiculous, but Amanda is armed with her impressive arsenal of sneering snark throughoot, and Janice notwithstanding, watching Amanda get under Brooke’s skin is the best thing this new season has thus far afforded us.

Matt is readying to leave The Avalon when Janice enters and asks him if he has a second.  He tells her that he’s in a hurry, so Hillside’s newest social reject gets right to the point:

“Look, I know we don’t really know each other, but all the same – I couldn’t help hearing what Courtney said to you the other day aboot me being…irritating.  It’s not a very nice thing to have to hear aboot yourself and I don’t think it was very fair, either.  I mean, none of you even know me!”

“Right, exactly.  And I’m sure Courtney didn’t really mean it.”

“Then why’d she say it?”

“Well, if it’s bugging you, I guess you should probably ask her.”


“Look…I’ve really gotta run.”

janice desperate

When I was in grammar school, we used to refer to classmates such as Janice as “corroded” while pantomiming the activation of an aerosol can that I guess was supposed to symbolize an anti-corrosive spray.  What do you want from me, we were fucking eight years old.  But as the show’s name implies, these kids are supposed to be fifteen years old, yet their reactions to Janice aren’t any more clever or mature than those of my classmates at Harry S. Truman Elementary when they found themselves in the presence of the terminally awkward.

arseman romantic

Courtney and Arseman enter the locker vestibule as Sassy Afro is marveling that the piece of paper in Courtney’s hand is the third letter she’s received from Jake in less than two weeks.  Arseman tries to get Courtney to divulge its contents before scrunching her face in exaggerated anticipation and guessing (gushing) that “it’s pretty romantic, huh?”  Courtney continues to downplay the amorous nature of Jake’s missive, causing Arseman to screech, “REALLY romantic??” in a voice so profoundly irritating that Courtney has no other choice but to confirm her nosy friend’s suspicions, adding, “It’s so strange.  I mean, it must be something in the Beijing water.  Why would Jake start getting all romantic aboot me?”  Um, Courtney?  I know you have a bit of a learning curve to surmount in most situations, but do you really have no recollection whatsoever of THIS:

bad kiss 2

Matt is walking through the hall with his sister while Erin whines that she still hasn’t made any friends (fuck you, Erin – Janice could’ve been your BFF by now if you weren’t so unjustifiably particular aboot the company you keep).  Of course, Matt consoles his little sister and tells her she’s a great person and she’ll make plenty of friends, yada yada yada, but I’m too busy trying to figure oot why there’s a picture of Bob Dylan on a flyer just below his locker to pay any mind to this insipid dialogue:

bob dylan

They’re interrupted by Courtney who must have just realized that it’s been at least an hour since she shamelessly flirted with Matt while simultaneously leading Jake on from 8,508 kilometers away. (Fun fact: 8,508 km is the actual distance from Vancouver to Beijing.)  Here’s a verbatim transcript of the conversation that ensues:

Courtney:  So, how are you these days?

Matt:  I’m fine.

Courtney:  Good.

Matt:  Why shouldn’t I be?

Courtney:  What’s that supposed to mean?

Matt:  Well, just the way you asked.

Courtney:  No, I didn’t mean it that way.  I just meant, kinda, ‘how’s it goin’?’

Matt:  Like I said, fine.

Courtney:  Like I said, good.

Holy Mother of Satan on a goddamn saltine, Binkley.  Are you motherfucking serious with this shit?

Matt finally breaks the centrifugal pull of this vapid conversation by asking Courtney if she’s heard from Ashley.  She hasn’t.  He then informs her that he’s contemplating having a chat with Coach Williams and Courtney feigns excitement while undressing him with her eyes.

Amanda is sitting with some girls at The Avalon.  It seems that Brooke’s ire aboot the geography paper incident isn’t the only thing that somehow transferred from Theresa to Amanda during the season break, because Brooke’s new sister is asking her friends what they think of Dylan withoot even trying to hide her obvious infatuation for the perplexingly popular rebel.  Enter Deadpool, who nervously drums his fingers on the table and tenders a breathless, “Hey,” to the object of his obvious infatuation.  Had Amanda not already made her opinion known that she thinks Billy’s a doofus, her icy sneer at his greeting would have made that just as abundantly clear.  Unfazed, Billy tries to impress her by telling her that he’s in a band, adding, “We’re getting pretty hot.  I mean, we’re getting really hot,” before walking back to the pinball room, apparently satisfied with his latest attempt to win Amanda’s affections (something her permanently curled lip makes me doubt the existence of).

Courtney is doing homework in the lounge as Matt approaches and takes a seat next to her.  They talk for a few seconds until Courtney abruptly rises from her seat and says she needs to go talk to Arseman, asking Matt to keep an eye on her books.  As soon as she’s oot of sight, Matt lifts the top book from the pile to reveal Courtney’s letter to Jake, which he promptly begins to read.  Brooke sneaks up from behind and does the same over his shoulder.  She makes her presence known by bellowing, “Is this for real??” and grabbing the letter from Matt’s hand.  Brooke proceeds to read aloud: “Dear Jake: I’ve been thinking aboot you, too.  In fact, I guess I’ve been thinking aboot you a lot…” before Matt snatches it back and tells her it’s a private letter.  Brooke retorts that he was reading it as Matt replaces it between Courtney’s books while Queen B ponders the infinite comedic potential of the fact that Courtney’s in love with Jake.  Matt begs Brooke not to tell Courtney that she was reading the letter to which she replies, “Oh no, no, no, no.  You were reading the letter.  I was just passing by and couldn’t help noticing.”  Before taking her leave, Brooke assures Matt that she won’t tell Courtney in a manner that makes it clear she has every intention of telling Courtney at the earliest opportunity.  This might be a good time for a stiff belt from your flask, Walker, especially considering that Ashley’s temporarily oot of your hair.

At the Avalon counter, Chris and Dylan are expressing their animosity towards each other through the vehicle of an unofficial band meeting:

Chris:  I know it may be a hard concept to grasp, but it is the 90’s.

Dylan:  Wow.  You’re kidding, Chris!  Man, you could have fooled me.

Chris:  Which is why it would be kind of nice if the band could move into the 90’s, too.

Dylan:  What’s wrong with playing a couple of Hendrix songs?

Chris:  He’s a fossil!

Dylan:  Oh, come on!

Chris:  They add a few violins and play him in elevators.

Dylan:  He’s the greatest guitarist that ever lived and if you don’t know that

Chris:  All I’m saying –

Dylan:  I know what you’re saying.  You wanna turn this into a thrash metal band.

Chris:  I do not!  I’m just saying we need an edge(incidentally, they could also use a Bono and an Adam Clayton and a Larry Mullen, Jr.)…otherwise, we may as well call ourselves Dylan and The Dreamers and look for gigs at old folks’ homes!

After a few more seconds of this, Chris makes it clear that he means business and reiterates that they need a new drummer.  Dylan begins to loudly defend Billy as Amanda walks over and says hi.  To her chagrin, Dylan takes this as his opportunity to extricate himself from the conversation, so she hops up on the stool next to the remaining short-fused dirt bag.  Chris kids her aboot her obvious crush on Dylan, then adds that he thought she was Billy’s girlfriend.  Amanda protests that it’s just Billy who’s always hanging around her trying to tell her what a great drummer he is, and Chris can’t resist taking the bait.  He tells her that Billy’s lousy and “that’s why we had to let him go.”

Erin is sitting in the student lounge when a couple of girls, one of whom indicates that her name is Leah, approach and start talking to her.  There.  Friends who aren’t Janice.  Now quit yer fucking whining, Erin.

Brooke is once again laboring over a pile of math homework in the lounge (remember, she’s on academic probation for the geography project fiasco) when Arseman saunters over to her table to engage in some asinine small talk.  Brooke sighs and indicates that the problem upon which she’s working is impossible, so Arseman offers to help because apparently, the memories of Brooke’s countless previous displays of infinite awfulness fade very fast beneath that glorious afro.  Brooke of course takes this as an offer to complete the assignment in its entirety, so Arseman hits her with some trademark sass, though I doubt she’ll be capable of remembering this interaction by the time she has her next chance encounter with Brooke.

New friends Erin and Leah are walking through the hall.  They run into Matt at his locker.  She introduces Leah as “my new friend” and Matt smiles.  That’s it.

Seriously, that’s it.  Move on to the next paragraph.

Brooke and Courtney are getting changed in the girls’ locker room.  Withoot a moment’s hesitation, Brooke asks aboot her budding romance with Jake and all those “torrid love letters” that “Matt told me you were writing”.  She reacts to Courtney’s look of shock by feigning surprise that Matt read the letter withoot her permission before Shit Drapes storms oot of the locker room.  Looks like you’re finally getting your mojo back, Brooke.

Dave the Dullard is at the soda machine as Matt comes down the stairs.  Underwear Boy asks how the meeting with Coach Williams went and Matt details the encounter in a slow, frustrated tone that implies it didn’t go as planned.  But Matt is cleverer than you may realize, dear readers, because the upshot of his long-winded, morosely delivered account is that he’s back on the team.  Oh, Matt, you irrepressible scamp you!

But the fun doesn’t last for long, because here comes Courtney down the stairs in the hissiest of hissy huffs to give Matt some well-deserved what for.  She calls Matt a jerk, setting Dave up for his first opportunity to deliver everyone’s favorite catch phrase: “Am I missing something here?

Holy shit, another superfluous goddamn Erin scene.  She’s at her locker when two of her friends and some other girl are discussing a sleepover party at Leah’s, to which Erin apparently hasn’t been invited.

I honestly don’t recall what happens in this next scene, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be great.  How do I know this, you ask?  Just look:


That’s right.  Headband/Shoulder Sweater Courtney is doing homework at The Avalon while Janice approaches from one side and Matt from the other.  All things considered, it’s unlikely that what’s to follow will be anything short of priceless, so let’s waste no further time.

Matt makes a wide berth around Courtney’s booth, eventually leaning over the back of the seat across from her while Janice hesitates for a moment before skulking back to the pinball room.  Matt begins to explain, “The letter was just laying there…I couldn’t resist,” but it’s going to take more than this to cut through Ma Kettle’s icy façade.  She tells Matt to “stop weaseling”, which I didn’t realize was a verb, and he continues to explain that Brooke was secretly reading the letter over his shoulder.  Immediately upon learning that Matt didn’t tell Brooke aboot the letter, the moisture begins to return to her granny panties because even an untrustworthy Matt is far more appealing to this woolly mammoth-in-heat than Jake.  I apologize for getting your hopes up that this scene would be anything more than the pointless crapfest it ultimately turned oot to be.

At the Blackwell garage, Chris and Dylan are finishing up a practice session sans Deadpool.  They discuss the band’s need for new equipment and Chris suggests stealing some new amps.  Dylan the poser informs his scofflaw of a bass player that if he keeps up that attitude, he’s gonna find himself in “truly major trouble”.

Back to The Avalon for one more dose of Billy’s awkward flirtation.  Amanda asks him why he’s so cheerful, and Deadpool asks her why wouldn’t he be before inviting her to Dylan’s garage to watch them rehearse.  Prefacing her bombshell with an exasperated, “they haven’t even told you yet?” she informs Billy that the band is getting a new drummer.  “Chris told me at lunch.  He and Dylan had decided…that you’re history.”

Don’t fret, Deadpool.  You’re far from history, unlike the rest of your castmates in this sublimely abominable production.  Someday, Amanda’s only claim to fame will be the fact that she once starred in a show with Ryan Reynolds while you’ll be fucking the likes of Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson.  Sometimes, justice prevails.