Can you believe we’ve arrived at Season 3 already? It seems like yesterday that I first had the epiphany, “Hey, I know what will piss people off and make former readers of my blog flee like rats on a sinking ship Hey, I know what will be a fun new direction for my blog!” and here we are, 4 months and 26 episodes later, on the precipice of the last watchable season of the incomparable Fifteen.
This season intro post will be brief, because there aren’t nearly as many character departures as there were for Season 2, and to my recollection, there are no new characters of significance introduced. So here’s what’s changed:
Jake is back from China, salivating over the prospect of getting into Courtney’s old lady pants. Can their long-distance romance withstand the face-to-face awkwardness it will inevitably confront?
As you know, Janice is gone, never to return and if I remember correctly, so is Amanda. So Brooke will need to find a new foil to whom she’s not related, but I’m pretty sure Who Farted can fulfill that requirement handily.
The combined effects of a broken home and a broken band will inspire Deadpool to become a bully for a spell. While I’m no fan of schoolyard bullies, I can excuse Billy’s brief phase of getting off on tormenting his peers because at least he chooses very appropriate victims in Dave and John. Since both of those characters are so profoundly fucking annoying, I choose to view this as Wade Wilson’s initial stage of mercenary practice.
Eventually, Dylan intervenes and puts a stop to his former drummer’s reign of terror.
Ashley and Chris – is it sustainable?
Courtney and Matt – will the sight of her ex and her best friend tongue-wrestling in public finally cause Ashley to raise her voice above a whisper?
Some other highlights to come:
A black eye!
A talent show presented in the style of David Lynch!
Courtney and Ashley become beatniks?!
Stick around, y’all. This is arguably the most surreal season of ‘em all.
It’s time for the Season 2 finale! At the conclusion of this post, we’ll have completed half of the seasons, but only two-fifths of the series, as Season 4 contains a whopping 26 god-awful episodes. Regardless, it still feels like an important milestone has been reached here at Notes From The Avalon.
We open on Arseman and Courtney sitting in The Avalon. Courtney is wearing her necklace again, so Arseman squeaks, “It still looks good on you!” as if its brief stay in Amanda’s purse could have somehow changed its (or Courtney’s) appearance. Headband has mixed feelings aboot it since her moronic tendency to take Brooke’s gossip as gospel truth basically forced Janice to transfer to another school. She fears that Janice’s whole family has left town because she tried to call her last night but got no answer. Arseman tells her not to feel guilty and assures her that Janice will turn up sooner or later.
In the student lounge, Roxanne is still badgering Chris to talk Dylan into firing Billy from the band. Chris explains that this is easier said than done as Dylan seems to feel some kind of moral obligation to keep Deadpool on, especially since he’s been having troubles at home. Roxanne reaches the end of her very short rope and snorts, “So is this a band or a support group for unhappy kids? Fine. Do what you want. It doesn’t matter to me if your band stays mediocre. Just don’t ask me for advice anymore.”
Roxanne splits as Ashley walks into view and Chris jumps oot of his seat to greet her. She compliments him on the concert, but he dismisses her flattery and declares that they were lousy, causing her to exclaim, “don’t talk that way aboot my favorite band!” She continues, “actually, the band was pretty good…you were great. i was listening to you especially.” Pinkasaurus then pulls oot all the stops in her pathetic attempt at whispered seduction:
Ashley: and by the way, you also give good advice. i spent an hour doing math homework last night.
Chris: So what’s that got to do with me?
Ashley: you’re the one who told me not to kill myself trying to get an a. normally, i would have spent four hours but i remembered the chris macdonald philosophy of life.
Chris: Oh yeah. That philosophy.
Ashley: live your own life the way you want to and don’t waste time worrying aboot what anybody else thinks.
Since that was literally a word for word repetition of his stupid maxim, I’m guessing that she spent the additional three hours normally devoted to math homework memorizing it last night. As if reading my blog thoughts, Chris exclaims, “Hey, almost word for word!” to which Ashley replies, “that was word for word.” Chris smiles and says, “I’m beginning to like your style!” just as Matt descends the stairwell and gives the hairy eyeball to Ashley’s shamelessly flirtatious display. He lingers long enough to hear Chris ask her on a date (to The Avalon, of course), an invitation which she giddily accepts.
Deadpool enters The Avalon and runs into Arseman and Courtney on their way oot the door. He asks if it’s true that Amanda stole the necklace and Courtney confirms that it is, adding, “Apparently, Amanda’s not the sweet little thing we all thought she was.”
Eventually, after we’ve had some time to get used to Roxanne, she’ll become one of the more tolerable characters on the show, but at this point, nothing aboot her makes any sense. Although she was only seen in passing and never spoke a line prior to the end of the last episode, now she’s just walking around the school giving her unsolicited opinions to everyone she sees as if she has the seniority to be so bold, kind of like Arseman at the beginning of the season. Now she descends on Brooke’s table in the lounge and starts giving her the third degree aboot Amanda’s criminal tendencies. Brooke responds in the usual fashion, feigning disbelief at her sister’s actions and taking credit for having exposed them, concluding that Amanda should be ashamed of herself for letting their family down. Roxanne self-righteously erupts, “Letting down your family? And you? What aboot how she let Courtney down by taking the necklace and Janice by blaming her? What aboot them?!” Brooke reluctantly concedes, “Well, them, too, of course,” causing Roxanne to stand up and bellow for the benefit of the two nameless onlookers hovering behind them, “Absolutely! You know something, Brooke? I’m starting to form an opinion aboot Amanda. I’m starting to think that she’s even worse than you are!” The camera pans oot to show Who Farted sitting at a nearby table with some other kids taking in the exchange.
Brooke marches over to Amanda at her locker.
Brooke: How could you do this to all of us?!
Amanda: Thanks for your support, Brooke.
Brooke: How could you? You managed to hurt Courtney and Janice and me – and the family.
Amanda: You and the family? What’s it got to do with you and the family?!
Brooke: (rolling her eyes) Nobody seems to understand this! You have besmirched our family name.
Brooke: I never thought a sister of mine would stoop so low.
Amanda: Oh, sure…and you’re just perfect, aren’t you?
Brooke: Or that you’d have the nerve to show your face at school after committing such a crime.
Amanda: Brooke, just stuff a sock in it!!
Amanda storms off leaving Brooke to mutter under her breath, “Well, there you go. People do get what they deserve sooner or later”. A kid standing behind her closes his locker and responds, “You better hope not, Brooke.” That was this kid’s first and only spoken line, but he’s no stranger to those who’ve been watching from the beginning. He has long hair, wears a black cap and vest and seems to show up everywhere, making me wonder why he never got his moment in the sun as a named cast member. For the final scene of Season 1, he was playing bass in Dylan’s garage, so maybe they had initially tapped him to play Chris before Andrew Baskin auditioned for the role and proved that his depiction of a total cocksucker was second to none.
In the boys’ locker room, Matt puts his jacket on and gets ready to leave when Dave enters and reminds him that it’s lunchtime and they were supposed to play some one on one. Matt tells him that he’s busy and doesn’t see the point in practicing when he’s only playing five minutes per game. Dave is sure that he’ll get more court time soon, but Matt replies that he’ll believe it when he sees it. Not wanting to waste this opportunity to moralize, Dave reaches into his metaphorical trousers and miraculously fishes oot a tiny pair of balls.
Dave: I mean, things are gonna turn oot okay. Things are already okay, right? You’re back on the team and you’re not doing anymore…
Matt: Anymore what?
Dave: You know…that problem you used to have…with drinking?
Matt: Oh. That problem.
Dave: You’re not doing that anymore, right?
Matt: Of course not! So why bring it up?!
Dave: I was just pointing oot that…things are going okay. Things in general. Matt, can I ask you something? What’s bugging you?
Matt: Nothing! Okay…it’s Ashley. I mean, we could always talk to each other – that’s something we always had. But in the last couple of weeks…I don’t know. It’s like there’s this huge wall between us. We can’t even say hello anymore.
Dave: You still…you really care aboot her, don’t you?
Matt: No. Yeah.
Dave: Why don’t you tell her that instead of just trying to say hello?
Well, I did specify that it was a tiny pair of balls, after all, but it still managed to elicit this reaction from Drinky Crow:
In the hallway, Deadpool is bragging to John that “this is exactly how the Beatles started oot! They started doing high school gigs when they were our age!” His new little acquaintance and future punching bag asks, “Who are the Beatles?” while Deadpool takes a drink from the water fountain and nearly spits it oot in bewilderment over John’s astounding pop culture ignorance. All kidding aside, I once dated a young woman who asked me this very same question, marking one of the most profoundly depressing moments in my entire romantic history. Spotting his sister coming down the stairs, Billy asks her to confirm the allegations he just made to John aboot the Beatles getting their start in high school, but rather than answer his question, she again wisely counsels her little brother not to get carried away with these impetuous rock star dreams. Sensing his disappointment, she tries to soften the blow of her blunt pragmatism just as Amanda approaches, rendering Headband momentarily speechless.
Amanda: You got your necklace back.
Amanda: That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?
Courtney: Well, yeah…
Amanda: Good! So now you can stop telling everyone what a horrible person I am!
Courtney: I haven’t said anything like that at all!
Amanda: (turning to Billy) And you! I bet you’re getting a great laugh oot of this! I bet you love it that everybody hates me!
Deadpool shows some class and denies her accusation that he’s wallowing in schadenfreude, adding that he just thinks the whole thing is really sad. That, of course, is far worse to a sneering little shit like Amanda, so she flees from the upsetting conversation that she initiated.
Coming down the stairs, Alfred E. Newman is co-opting Deadpool’s Beatles origin story for the benefit of Leah. Rather than remind him of his theory that intelligent boys don’t go anywhere near girls, she reacts with interest to his second-hand allegations aboot the Fab Four. Pumping change into the soda machine, he continues, “They practically started in day care, and when you start really young, that’s when you get to the top!” Leah excitedly responds, “Wouldn’t it be incredible if Teenagers In Love got to be really big stars? Maybe they’ll get a TV show or even their own Saturday morning cartoon!” So Leah thinks Dylan and the gang could one day be just as popular with preschoolers wired on Cocoa Puffs as Josie and the Pussycats or The Brady Six. Sounds aboot right. John takes this as his cue to make the inevitable proposition that they start a band, something he’s sure will be a stunning success since they’re even younger than the members of Teenagers In Love. Getting down to brass tacks, they suddenly realize that neither of them knows how to play an instrument, but this is a mere technicality for Dumbo who optimistically declares, “Then we’ll just have to learn!” All of this pointless filler material revolving around the two most inconsequential characters currently in the show hardly seems fitting for a season finale. Wake the fuck up, Binkley, you’ve got a mere ten minutes left in which to blow our minds.
Chris spots Arseman at a booth in The Avalon and takes a seat across from her. He asks for her honest opinion aboot their performance, but Sassy Pants isn’t keen on dissecting the concert any further. Regardless, he continues to press, so she finally tells him that she thought they were fine for a bunch of amateurs playing their first gig, then asks what he thinks.
Chris: I think I don’t wanna be with a bunch of amateurs for the rest of my life, and I think – you’re not gonna agree with this…
Arseman: That’s cool.
Chris: I think that for everybody’s sake, including Billy’s, we should maybe think aboot looking for a new drummer.
Arseman: How is this for Billy’s sake?
Chris: Well, he knows himself that he’s not really good enough.
Arseman: No, actually, Chris, if you ever paid any attention to how Billy feels, you’d know he’s having the time of his life. He wants to make this his career!
Chris: For everybody else’s sake, then…come on, Arseman! I know you like him, but you know he’s no good! Don’t you see? We need a new drummer if we’re ever gonna get anywhere.
Arseman: Where do you wanna get? I thought I was joining a garage band for fun. Billy keeps the beat—
Chris: He rushes the beat.
Arseman: So he’ll learn. The rest of us aren’t such hot stuff, either, you know. I mean, this isn’t Guns ‘N’ Roses! All I want is to have a good time.
Chris: That’s not all I want.
Courtney sees Ashley at her locker and asks if she’s seen or heard anything from Janice. She hasn’t. That’s it. Seriously. This is what passes for a fucking scene in this supposedly climactic season finale.
Chris enters Dylan’s garage and tells him that he talked to Jerry at The Avalon aboot whether they’ll get another gig. He informs Leather Jacket that Jerry “hedged…he didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no,” but I have to wonder if Chris even bothered to make sure that Jerry was awake before badgering him aboot another concert opportunity. Dylan scoffs, “He always does that,” which is either a dig at Jerry’s terrible personality or an acknowledgment of his undiagnosed narcolepsy. Finally, Chris tells Dylan that Jerry eventually said yes, on one condition: “He wants us to get a new drummer”. Filth Pig clearly has his faults, but I suspect this little story aboot his demand for a personnel change is something Chris concocted on his way over to the garage. Call me cynical.
Dylan: Jerry said that? He just came right oot and said, ‘I want you guys to get a new drummer”?
Dylan: Or are you the one that said it?
Chris: Alright! I told him that both you and me were worried aboot the drummer and he said, ‘Yeah, I agree completely’. He said that’s his biggest problem with the band and if we stick with Billy, he doesn’t think he’ll hire us again!
Dylan argues with his aggressive little band mate for a spell, then finally caves and advises Chris that he’ll tell Billy he’s oot of the band.
Jesus Jones! With only six fucking minutes to go, the writers suddenly decide this is a good time for a scene involving Dave and Big Ears, two characters who have never interacted on screen before whose only common bond is a flair for crushing boredom. As Dave passes by his table in the lounge, John asks him if he’s “heard the big news”. Distracted, Dave tells Babar that he’s looking for Matt but can’t find him anywhere, then momentarily patronizes him by asking him aboot the “big news”. John replies, “There’s gonna be a new rock band at Hillside! Me and Tristan and Leah!” Alright, first of all, nobody cares aboot this little homunculus and his stupid rock star aspirations and second of all, who the fuck is Tristan?! Dave obviously has other things on his mind and when he finally splits, John drifts into a reverie while muttering something aboot being “bigger than the Beatles”. To describe the concert-themed dream sequence that follows wouldn’t be half as illustrative as the following series of visual aids, so brace yourself.
The next scene opens on Courtney at her – holy shit! I’ve never been so happy to realize that I provided erroneous information on this page. It’s Janice!!! She excitedly greets Headband and tells her that she came to finish the school transfer paperwork and heard that Amanda confessed, asking, “Why didn’t anybody tell me?” Courtney apologizes profusely and explains that she tried to call but couldn’t reach her. Janice seems confused at first before suddenly realizing, “Oh, our phone’s oot of order!” Is that something that happened back in the golden age of landlines? I’ve honestly forgotten. Anyway, they confirm that they’re still friends and hug each other tightly. Though I’m happy that Janice was finally vindicated, this episode is definitely the last time we’ll ever see her, since she doesn’t return for Season 3. I wish I could hug her, too.
At the garage, Deadpool is telling Chris and Dylan that he thinks the band can really go somewhere, completely unaware of the thermonuclear bomb that’s aboot to drop on him. He asks if anyone’s talked to Jerry and Chris replies, “It’s complicated. Dylan will tell you all aboot it,” before bailing to meet Ashley at The Avalon, leaving Dylan to break the news himself. He begins, “Listen…there’s something I gotta tell you.”
Courtney and Janice are sitting at The Avalon counter when Matt walks in and asks if they’ve seen Ashley. Headband reacts to his inquiry like a deer caught in the headlights, but Janice is refreshingly ignorant of Matt’s love quadrilateral, so she cheerfully volunteers, “She’s in the pinball room with Chris!” He looks towards the rear of the café and sees this shit:
Matt, blindsided by this unexpected turn of events, staggers over to a table near the door and lowers himself into the chair like an old man with hemorrhoids. Janice asks Courtney if she said something wrong, but Headband has a ridiculously low tolerance for conversation aboot anyone’s issues but her own, so she changes the subject to Jake and the fact that he’s coming home from China on Friday. She tells Janice that she wants to throw him a welcome home party at her place, adding that she’s both excited and scared to see him again after all this time.
Ashley walks in from the pinball room and runs into Matt who asks if she has a minute. She reluctantly agrees to hear him oot.
Matt: Look, I’ve been thinking a lot aboot you and me…what I’ve been thinking is I’d like it more than anything if we could give things just one more try.
Matt: No pressure! I mean, if it doesn’t work oot, it doesn’t work oot. So look…there’s gonna be some sort of party for Jake on Friday and what I was thinking is – I mean, what would you think aboot you and me going together?
Chris walks in from the pinball room.
Chris: That’s a nice offer, Matt. The problem is, Ashley’s already going to the party…with me.
He puts his arm around Ashley’s shoulder as he daringly fixes Matt’s gaze.
Ashley: matt, i would have explained except i didn’t get the chance.
Matt: Hey. No problem. Good luck to both of you. I hope it lasts forever.
Well, that was some heavy shit and it was great to get some closure on Janice, but I don’t know. This season coda kinda left me feeling like a guy who ate a heaping portion of Chinese foods…aboot an hour ago. As always, thanks for reading, my friends. I’ll be back to dive head-first into Season 3 quicker than you can say egg foo young.
I regret that I have to start this post with some tragic news: I’m pretty sure the last episode was our final experience of Janice for the remainder of the series. She’ll still be mentioned from time to time during the last 2 episodes of the season as we find oot what really happened with Courtney’s stupid necklace, but she’s already cleaned oot her locker and is on her way to a different school. Here’s hoping it’s attended by nicer kids and has an open spot on its kick-ass volleyball team. If this show had been bold enough to tackle the issue of teen suicide, Janice would have been the obvious choice for the centerpiece of such a plot. I don’t know why Ian Weir felt the need to be so fucking brutal with her, but I sense that this Canadian screenwriting hack gets off on relentless cruelty to awkward adolescents.
At the Blackwell garage, Teenagers In Love are rehearsing their asses off for the upcoming show. At the conclusion of the song, even Chris admits that they sounded good, but a clearly nerve-wracked Dylan begs to differ: “What’s the matter with you guys?! We stunk!” He goes off on some shit aboot the band ending in D minor while Chris was in D minor seventh, something that might be a legitimate concern if their names were Geddy, Alex and Neil, but in this case, I think Fonzie should just be happy that Deadpool managed to get through another song withoot pounding a hole right through his drumheads. Chris storms oot of the garage in frustration while Arseman unsuccessfully tries to get Dylan to calm down. He responds, “I’m not worked up aboot it! But the concert’s tomorrow, so all I’m saying is that…I’m not worked up!”
Ashley and Courtney are at The Avalon counter as Headband embraces her inner beatnik and exclaims, “Billy is so wired aboot this concert, Man!” She goes on to explain that she keeps trying to tell him that it’s just supposed to be for fun.
Ashley: i’m sure it’ll go just fine.
Courtney: Oh, absolutely! And if it doesn’t, well, they can always just distract us with a few stunts. You know, bite a head off a bat or something.
Ashley: oh, courtney!
Courtney: Hey, this is rock and roll!
Ashley changes the subject to Janice and the missing necklace and after Courtney rehashes her disappointment at the sad dissolution of their 48 hour friendship, Whisperina dramatically sighs, “this whole thing is just really rotten, isn’t it?”
Back at the garage, Chris, Dylan and Deadpool are decked oot in what they clearly consider to be badass rock star attire even though they look like an unemployed parody of The Village People. Chris opted for a Naugahyde western style vest over a powder blue button-down shirt with a matching bandana tied around his neck like a bolo tie. Dylan goes for a more laid-back eighties burnoot look consisting of an Army surplus jacket over a Judas Priest “Turbo” t-shirt. Finally, Deadpool goes full-on Motorhead with fingerless black leather gloves and a chain that could double as a pit bull restraint encircling his neck.
Hopalong Chris asks Arseman what she’ll be wearing for the concert and when she indicates that she was planning to wear the same nondescript ootfit consisting of a plain yellow t-shirt and jeans she already has on, Dylan reminds her, “Well, Arseman, this is a show, you know. We need costumes!” Chris grabs a plastic bag from a nearby table and advises her that they brought another costume, “just as sort of a possibility…I mean, only if you’re willing to go with it.” Dylan chimes in, “We rented it yesterday!” and Deadpool adds, “It wasn’t cheap, either!” Chris produces a skimpy half-vest from the bag while Dylan admiringly remarks that it’s “very Madonna…very Paula Abdul!” Billy declares with relief that they weren’t sure she’d be into it, so Sass Master responds, “Of course I agree to it! It’s adorable and sexy – just what the band’s image needs! So…which one of you gentlemen is gonna be wearing it?” I think Matt Ender was asleep on the job while they were filming this scene because even the lunatic that was responsible for the background music in the Brady Bunch knows that this is exactly the type of situation that demands a wacky sad trombone progression.
Some kid walks into the locker vestibule and starts talking to three other nameless guys at their lockers:
Kid 1: Hey, I heard Chris is gonna smash a guitar into an amplifier!
Kid 2: Yeah?
Kid 3: Hey, someone told me Arseman’s gonna be dressed in some black lace ootfit!
Kid 4: Woah! Even if it sounds awful, it should be fun to watch!
At that moment, Chris and Dylan enter the vestibule carrying their guitars for some fucking reason. They ignore the barrage of questions with which they’re immediately assaulted until one of the kids asks, “Are you gonna dive into the crowd?” and Dylan responds, “No, I’m gonna jump off the roof!” As he gets something from his locker, Brooke and Who Farted descend the stairs and express their excitement aboot the concert. Brooke gushes, “I’m sure it’s going to be the most brilliant success!” before Leather Jacket walks off leaving her free to express her true feelings to Who Farted: “Of course, it’ll be a raging flop. They can’t play worth beans.”
In the student lounge, Deadpool is practice-drumming on one of his notebooks when Courtney comes by, sits down next to him and says, “Hey, Billy! Good luck at lunch time!” So this is a lunch time concert on a school day and even though that makes so little sense for so many reasons, at least it explains why they all wore their ridiculous pseudo-bondage gear to school. Billy plays it cool and tells her that they won’t need luck because “we’re gonna knock ‘em dead!” Courtney compliments his ootfit and adds that she can’t wait for Dad to see it. Billy’s mood momentarily sours as he informs his sister that Dad won’t be able to make it to the show. He concludes that he’s kind of glad that he won’t be there and Headband sympathetically agrees before all of Deadpool’s former confidence evaporates in a paroxysm of panic: “No, I mean it, Courtney! I wish nobody would be there! To tell you the truth…I’m not ready! I stink!!” In the course of Headband’s attempts to calm him down, we learn that Deadpool once wet his pants with stage fright before playing the part of a turnip in a grammar school play. That’s really not germane to the plot, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.
Ashley sees Dylan sitting on a bench in the lounge, so she comes over to give him her obligatory, sexually charged concert pep talk before asking him if he’d talked to Matt lately. She explains that she was still too mad to talk to him when he apologized at The Avalon yesterday, but is starting to regret her cold reaction. Dylan recounts his brief conversation with Matt and tells Ashley that he actually felt sorry for him, but somehow this just gets Pixie Dust on the defensive again. Dylan replies that he never thought he’d be defending Matt, but Ashley cuts him off and seethes, “don’t give me that! he’s just being a jerk!”
At The Avalon, Chris, Billy and Arseman are setting up their equipment beneath a cheesy banner bearing the slogan “Teenagers In Love” in multi-colored magic-marker. Dylan shows up and starts freaking oot aboot how everything is arranged, shouting, “We’ve never had the drums there before – Billy can’t read my cues! It’s a mess! It changes everything!!” Leather Jacket finally cools off and says, “Alright, maybe I’m just a bit strung oot, that’s all,” confirming my long-time suspicions. At least that would explain why he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that he doesn’t even own a bed. Arseman walks over to Dylan at the counter:
Arseman: This means a lot to you, huh?
Dylan: Nah. It’s just one more gig. I know it’s only rock and roll.
Arseman: But you like it!
Somehow Mick Jagger just rolled over in his grave.
Back at Hillside, one of the same unnamed kids from earlier in the episode greets some friends at their lockers.
Kid 1: Hey, are you guys going to The Avalon?
Kid 2: I don’t know. How much can you expect from a band called Teenagers In Love?
Ashley runs into Matt at the stairwell. He says hi and asks if she’s going to the concert. She reacts with a dismissive, “yeah, of course,” before hurrying away.
Back at The Avalon, the band’s tuning up in front of a sizeable crowd assembled in the café, the most notable and intentionally prominent constituent of which is the already legendary Roxanne.
She stares at Chris who acknowledges her with a nod and she returns the gesture before Dylan steps up to the mic and announces, “Right. We’re Teenagers In Love and, uh…here we go.”
Well, I’m too old to cry and I’m too young to fly, but Mama says be glad I’m young and I don’t ask why, ‘cause I’m fifteen, not old enough to be free.
Yes, I’m fifteen years old and that’s the trouble with me!
Well, it’s an awkward stage and a difficult age, pacing in your space like a rat in a cage…
Because you’re fifteen beyond the shadow of a doubt…
Yes, you’re fifteen years old, not old enough to get oot!
The Avalon erupts in applause as the band launches into…that other song they know. This whole thing was a fucking colossal dud after an entire season’s worth of build-up, but at least we’ll never be subjected to Arseman’s singing again.
Lunchtime over, the band returns to Hillside giving themselves mixed reviews on their performance as one of the more prevalent unnamed girls approaches Dylan and asks for his autograph. Some other kid holds an imaginary microphone up to Deadpool’s face and asks him in the tone of a reporter, “Billy, how do you feel now?” to which the always eloquent New Kids enthusiast responds, “Terrific! Great! Fabulous! Uh…terrific!” He saunters away from the crowd and runs into his sister who tells him that he looked like he was “having a really great time up there”. Billy excitedly declares, “Wait till our next gig – we’ll be even better! And after that, we can go on tour or something! We can hit the road!” Courtney gently advises Billy to slow his roll and reminds him that he’s only in the ninth grade to which he replies, “So what? We could drop oot of school! Just think of all the money we can make!”
Making the rounds, Courtney sits down next to Arseman in the lounge and compliments her performance. Sassy Afro acknowledges that she had a good time, but she knows they’re not really a good band and reiterates that she’s just doing it for fun. Despite everything her little brother just said, Courtney interjects, “Well, maybe you are, but I’m not so sure aboot Dylan and Chris”.
In the locker vestibule, Who Farted is telling Brooke, “I thought they were pretty good!” but Brooke of course doesn’t quite see it that way. Hoping to extract at least a modicum of praise from her overcritical girl-crush, Who Farted confidently declares, “But Arseman was good!” to which Brooke replies, “Ugh…a lot of flashy tricks, but no real substance!” So now we know that by Brooke’s standards, standing woodenly behind a keyboard in a plain yellow t-shirt while nervously droning her way through two verses of awful lyrics constitutes “a lot of flashy tricks”. Who Farted sticks to her guns and repeats that she really enjoyed it, prompting Brooke to respond, “Well, I guess if you don’t know much aboot music, it’s possible to enjoy amateurs.”
At The Avalon, Roxanne is giving Chris her critique of the show: “The keyboard work was good…a little stiff, but that will get better with practice. The guitar slipped oot of tune during ‘Come On Back’.” Chris asks what she thought of Arseman to which she replies, “Not bad…not very original, but that’s okay. She has fun up there, which is more than I can say for you and Dylan.” Chris thanks her for giving her opinion before she adds, “It could be a hot band, Chris…except for this guy Billy. He rushed the beat and he’s sloppy…do you wanna spend the rest of your life making noise in Dylan’s garage or do you want a band that’s gonna go places?” Chris confirms that he’d prefer the latter, so Roxanne flatly advises, “So dump him. Stop thinking aboot it and do it! This is rock and roll!”
Ashley sees Matt in the hallway and calls oot to him. She chews him oot for asking Dylan what was going on between them when she already told him that they’re just friends and an uncharacteristically sober contrite Matt responds, “Well, now I’ve heard from two reliable sources that I was wrong.” Ashley lightens up and jokingly tells him aboot the crush Billy has on her, to which Matt exclaims, “What? He’s 12!” Ashley corrects him, “He’s 14. I guess it’s just a crush. He bought me a scarf.”
Matt: Well, he’s obviously got great taste in women…and buying you that scarf? That’s pretty classy.
Ashley: it’s more than you ever did.
Alright, are these two assholes burying the hatchet or venting their eternal derision? And now that I think aboot it, if Billy’s fourteen, why the fuck did Dylan act like he was an impetuous toddler when he told him he was interested in a fifteen year old girl? Did no one even give Ian Weir’s horrible scripts a cursory glance before mimeographing twenty copies and sticking them in the hands of these little douchebags? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?!? Jesus H. Christ. Matt grins and responds, “True. Well, I can learn,” causing Ashley to bite her lip and smile coyly as the scene fades oot.
In the garage, Dylan’s assessment that the band’s performance was barely adequate inspires Chris to broach the subject of shit-canning Billy from the band again and this time, Dylan seems to reluctantly agree.
Brooke storms into The Avalon and marches over to the booth where Amanda is sitting, voluminously expressing offense at the fact that Who Farted isn’t here even though she asked her to meet her at the café after school. Amanda sneers, “Looks like you got stood up,” as Brooke takes a seat across from her and starts fishing through her purse. Unable to find what she’s looking for, she asks her little sister if she can borrow her mascara while grabbing Amanda’s bag. At first, Amanda just tells her to put it back when she’s done with it, then seems to remember something, stands up and says, “Wait!” Brooke smiles at the realization that Amanda must be hiding something in her bag as she unzips it and asks, “A secret?” Amanda sternly demands, “Just give it back! I’ll give you the mascara,” as if this could have any effect other than stoking her sister’s curiosity even further. Ignoring Amanda’s pleas, Brooke dumps the contents of the bag onto the table revealing Courtney’s necklace.
Brooke gleefully taunts her sister, “Sweet little Amanda! Teacher’s pet…Daddy’s favorite. Courtney loses a family heirloom…Janice’s reputation is ruined, she has to change schools! You little sneak!” As Amanda continues to beg her not to tell anyone, Brooke dangles the necklace from her fingers just as Courtney and Arseman enter from the pinball room. Amanda shouts, “I didn’t do anything!” to which Brooke sing-songs, “Yes, she diiid!” Amanda flees The Avalon as Brooke hands Courtney her necklace.
Only one episode left before we put the lid on Season 2. I hope y’all appreciate my tenacious dedication to this monumental but vitally important task. I’m happy to bear the burden for the good of humanity, but I expect you’ll do your part and tell all your friends that everyone who’s anyone gets their news at Notes From The Avalon. Journalistic integrity is my raison d’etre, after all.
It dawned on me this morning that writing these ridiculous analytical synopses of Fifteen episodes is the closest thing to a job I’ve had in over six months. But if anyone is considering embarking upon a similarly random and pointless venture, I’d advise against it. The pay sucks and carpal tunnel syndrome hurts like a motherfucker.
Walking through the locker vestibule, Courtney is expressing her disappointment in Janice while Arseman reminds her that they don’t really know her that well. So much for innocent until proven guilty. Apparently, the fact that Janice remained tight-lipped in the face of Brooke’s accusations is all the proof Headband needs. Since these two dummies opted to conduct this conversation two lockers down from Brooke’s, her inevitable antagonistic intrusion into it should come as no surprise, but they feign offense at her ham-fisted attempts to sound sympathetic at the loss of Courtney’s “family heirloom” just the same. Apparently forgetting her own words of approximately three seconds ago, Courtney responds, “Brooke, I don’t even know if she stole it, and anyway, we haven’t seen her today.”
Dylan and Ashley are commiserating aboot the difficulties of relating to their parents over milkshakes at The Avalon. We’ve heard this sad-cool John Bender routine from Leather Jacket before, so there’s no need to rehash, but I will add that aside from Dylan’s bet with Chris aboot who can get a date with Arseman first, all signs are pointing to the fact that Matt was astoundingly accurate in the “creepy” accusations he leveled at Pinky-Dinks a few episodes ago. Chris struts up to their booth and greets them as “Mister Dylan! Miss Ash Blonde Ashley!” effectively demolishing the last ounce of respect I had for this fictional dirt bag. Dylan excuses himself to get something at the counter, so Chris takes his seat across from Ashley and asks, “Parent troubles?” even though there’s no way he could have heard the content of their conversation that occurred before he walked through the door. Regardless, I’m glad he was able to psychically glean their thoughts because it leads to this beauty of a philosophical lecture:
Chris: Well, let me recommend the Chris MacDonald Philosophy of Life.
Ashley: do i want to hear this?
Chris: It’s clean and simple. The MacDonald Philosophy says: Live your life the way you want to and don’t waste time worrying aboot what anybody else thinks. Anybody!
Ashley: even parents?
Chris: Especially parents! Parents above all.
Ashley: kinda like what dylan said.
Chris: Oh? Well, even so, it’s still good advice.
Ashley: well, it sounds great but i’m not sure i have the guts…or the ability not to care.
Chris: Yeah, that’s the thing with you. You probably care too much.
I know, my mind is utterly blown, too. I’ll give you a few seconds to recover from Chris’ complicated ontological discourse before moving on.
Chris segues into an apology for perhaps having come on a little strong when they first met and Ashley graciously accepts it because she’s too fucking dense to recognize his manufactured regret as a less than subtle attempt to get into her pink denim jeans. Dylan comes back to the booth to see them giggling like a couple of Teenagers In Love and pointedly asks, “Am I interrupting something?”
In the student lounge, Arseman is still entertaining the possibility that the necklace was just misplaced, not stolen, but Headband seems to have made up her mind that it was purloined by Janice. Before this conversation even has a chance to start pissing me off, we hear Chris shouting at the top of his lungs from the other end of the lounge, “Only four suggestions?! AND THEY’RE ALL DUMB!!”
Dylan and Chris are digging into the suggestion box, reading off the submitted band names:
Chris: The Morons.
Dylan: Old Kids On The Block.
Chris: Total Lack Of Talent.
Dylan: The Rolling Stones?
Despite the fact that all of those potential band names are better than the ones they considered while brainstorming at The Avalon in the last episode, a highly annoyed Chris bellows across the lounge, “Alright, you guys, let’s get moving on this…come on, we need a name!”
Dylan spots Courtney and Arseman across the lounge and abandons Chris at the Name The Band kiosk to continue his idiotic pursuit of Arseman. After he delivers a few over-the-top decrees of adoration, Arseman cups her hand as if trying to be discrete and informs Courtney in a clearly audible voice, “This is what I was telling you aboot.” I’m starting to get the impression that Canadians don’t quite understand the point of the cup-handed whisper. Regardless, Dylan persists until Sassy Afro finally has her fill and leaves the table. As Dylan starts to pursue her, Courtney stops him and advises, “Dylan, give it a rest, whatever it is.”
Turning the corner, Arseman runs into Chris who embarks upon his next bumbling attempt at romantic flattery only to catch a big fucking sass pie in the face. Incidentally, for this entire multi-faceted lounge scene, Roxanne can be seen walking in and oot of the shot which can only mean that we’ll be meeting this bad-ass cast addition in the very near future.
Courtney sits down next to Deadpool on the stairs and reminds him that he’s supposed to have dinner with her and mom. Billy moans aboot the fact that his dad gives him a hard time whenever he goes to his mother’s place. She tells him that Dad has no right to make him take sides, but Billy softens up on his father a little bit and informs Courtney that at least he promised to come to his gig at The Avalon. As I’ve already indicated, we don’t ever meet a single adult for the entire run of the series, therefore if you feel so inclined, shed a tear for Billy now and get it the hell oot of the way. They talk aboot the missing necklace for a few seconds and Courtney gets up to leave, then turns to ask her brother if he knows what’s going on with Dylan and Chris chasing after Arseman. Young Deadpool reacts with the worst poker face he can muster, so Headband warns that if he doesn’t spill the beans, she’ll tickle it oot of him. Sarah Douglas must relish this brief opportunity to molest People Magazine’s three-time Sexiest Man Alive, but it’s short-lived. Billy blurts oot, “Alright! It’s a bet…loser buys winner a deluxe pizza with drink…the bet’s on who gets a date with Arseman first.”
Extricating himself from this nauseating tickle fight, Deadpool runs into Ashley and immediately starts nervous-stuttering something aboot the “private conversation” they were having the other day when they were “so rudely interrupted” (that school bell sure has some fucking nerve), then switches gears and asks her where she’s sitting. Ashley replies, “over there. you can come join me if you stop being so weird,” before turning to get a soda from the machine. While she’s thus occupied, Deadpool sneaks over to her table, removes the gift from his backpack, places it on top of her books and bolts like his fucking head’s on fire. You’re definitely not mercenary material yet, Wade Wilson.
At The Avalon, Amanda is gloating to the three nameless girls sitting across the booth, “So Janice isn’t in school today — afraid to show her face after stealing that necklace, right? But then, the principal phoned her at home and told her she was accused of theft…she denied the whole thing, said she didn’t know anything aboot it and did not have the necklace.” One of the girls asks where she heard this and Amanda replies, “She told me herself. I saw her in the hall. She was leaving the school again, crying.” Brooke is wandering aimlessly around The Avalon when she hears her sister’s story in progress, so she cuts in to express her disappointment aboot the fact that Janice probably won’t be held accountable unless she confesses or the cops search her house and find the necklace. She concludes that “it’s a terrible situation, but I always knew that Janice was that sort of person.”
Back in the lounge, Ashley is inspecting her new scarf as Courtney reads the anonymous card that was attached to the box: “To Ashley with deep sincerity, from a Secret Admirer”. Chris walks by and greets Ashley, “Hey, Kid. Nice scarf!” before sauntering off, causing Ashley to wonder if he was the source of the gift, but Courtney tells her that it’s unlikely since “he’s concentrating on Arseman”. Ashley bites her lip and asks, “yeah? you mean a romance?” but Courtney counters that it’s “not a really romantic one, according to Billy”. A hundred fucking days late and dollars short, Headband finally has an epiphany that maybe it was Billy that gave her the scarf. Ashley doubts it, saying that “Billy can get carried away sometimes, but not that carried away.” She throws the scarf around her neck and walks to her locker where Deadpool is just standing around like an idiot.
Ashley: oh, hi.
Billy: Hi! That scar loo’s nii.
Billy: I said that…well…that scarf looks good on you!
Ashley: i got it from a secret admirer, with ‘deep sincerity’.
Billy: Well, uh, that’s…you know, how I feel.
Ashley: then it was you! i don’t believe it! ha ha ha!
Deadpool flees in humiliation as Asshole Ashley continues laughing hysterically.
The next scene opens on Deadpool and Dylan at a booth in The Avalon, but before I go any further, let me provide you with a visual aid of the most common exterior shot of the establishment. I can’t believe we’re 24 episodes in and I’ve thus far neglected to do so:
Dylan tells Billy that he should have come to him first before doing something so impetuous and Deadpool reminds him that he did and it was his advice that caused this embarrassing situation. Dylan clarifies, “No, I mean you should have told me who she was, then I could’ve told you not to waste your time…it’s nothing personal but someone like Ashley’s just a little bit oot of your league.” I wonder if Corky Martin or Laura Harris still feel that way now. Anyway, he advises his young friend to tell him the next time before he makes a move on a woman and Billy counters that there won’t be a next time because, “I’m not getting involved with any more women!” That’s a little ironic coming from you, Billy…
Back at Hillside, Courtney is filling Arseman in on Chris and Dylan’s bet. Arseman sqeaks, “A pizza??” in disbelief more times than is remotely reasonable for ten seconds of scripted dialogue before finally declaring, “Well, I think it’s just aboot time to fix a couple of little red wagons.” In case you’re wondering, I don’t have a fucking clue what that meant, either.
In the lounge, Dylan, Chris and Billy are going through the next batch of band name suggestions that they dumped oot of the box onto a table.
Billy: The Buttheads?
Chris: Four Conceited Jerks Who Can’t Carry A Tune But Think They’re Hot Stuff ‘Cause Their Parents Bought Them Some Cheap Equipment?
Dylan snatches the scrap of paper from Chris’ hand in disbelief and notes, “They didn’t even sign this. Cowards.” Personally, I thought all of those names were first-rate, but what do I know? Chris splits just as Arseman shows up and asks Billy if she can have a word with Dylan in private. Once they’re alone, she initiates phase one of Operation Little Red Wagon Fix: “Look, we’re gonna be working together, so I want to be straight with you. All this stuff, you know, aboot the way I light up your life…I wish you wouldn’t say that…in front of Chris. Look, I know how you feel aboot me and you must know how I feel aboot you, so there’s no point in rubbing Chris’ nose in it. Let’s just get to the point – it’s Friday night. Why don’t you meet me at The Avalon…at aboot 7:00? And let’s just keep this to ourselves, okay?” Arseman walks away just as Deadpool returns and Dylan triumphantly declares to his confused little friend, “Billy! Remind me to tell Chris – no anchovies!”
At The Avalon, Dylan is excitedly telling Jerry that the band’s “really coming together” as The Artist Formerly Known As Filth Pig seems to be experiencing great difficulty in staying awake. Leather Jacket tells him that there’s just one more detail to work oot and Jerry correctly guesses that they need a name before volunteering a suggestion: “Dylan and the Dipsticks?”
Turning from the counter, Dylan comes face to face with Matt.
Matt: I just want to ask you something.
Dylan: Well, ask it fast, I’ve got a rehearsal at 4:00.
Matt: I just wanna know what’s going on between you and Ashley.
Dylan: Oh, come on!
Matt: Do you think I’m blind or something?!
Dylan: No, I just think you’re being a jerk and so does Ashley.
Dylan: You already asked Ashley and she told you there’s nothing going on, right?
Matt: Yeah, that’s what she says.
Dylan: So you think she’s a liar?
Matt: I just wanna know the truth!
Dylan: And she told you the truth. There’s nothing going on between us, have you got that?! So get off her case and while you’re at it, get oot of my way. I’m late for rehearsal.
At the garage, the band is actually playing something other than Mama Says Be Glad, but it’s the same shitty keyboard-heavy instrumental arena rock number that we heard them playing with Cindy on keyboards in the last scene of the last episode of last season. This is also the song that was playing during Courtney’s spaz-dancing fantasy sequence last year, so I have to assume that it’s something Matt Ender takes great pride in having composed. When they finish, Arseman asks Billy to give Dylan a hand with his equipment so that she can talk to Chris in private. From behind the keyboards, she makes the same confidential proposition that he meet her at The Avalon at 7:00, causing a triumphant smirk to spread across his face.
Amanda sees Janice at her locker and says hi, then asks her what she’s doing. Janice replies, “What does it look like?” as she loads books and folders into her backpack. Amanda notes that she seems to be cleaning oot her locker. Janice deadpans that she’s transferring to another school and Amanda reacts with what appears to be genuine shock.
Amanda: You’re changing schools because of a necklace?
Janice: No, I’m changing schools because everybody hates me!
Amanda: Come on…
Janice: I didn’t steal that necklace but nobody believes me, even Courtney. Courtney thinks I’m a liar and a thief just like everybody else does!
Amanda: Look, just give it time – people will forget all aboot it.
Janice: No, they won’t forget! I was just starting to make friends and now – now it’s all totally wrecked, so just leave me alone!
Curiously, Amanda seems more than a little upset by this exchange. If anyone reading this can’t guess why that might be, you owe me a fucking deluxe pizza.
At The Avalon, Chris is fixing his hair using the reflection from the metal napkin holder on the table. Dylan walks in wearing a button-down shirt tucked into his brand-new jeans and asks Chris what he’s doing here. In lieu of an answer, Chris asks Dylan the same question. After gloating for a bit, Dylan sits down and tells Chris that he’s meeting Arseman causing his bassist frenemy to declare, “But that’s impossible because Arseman asked me to meet her here at 7:00!” The two imbeciles seem just as confused as Matt and Jake were aboot the pathetically transparent and strikingly similar ruse that Brooke and Kelly pulled last semester until Arseman walks in from the pinball room. She sits down and unloads more unbridled sass upon her dumbstruck band mates than I feel ethically capable of reprinting here, but the general upshot is that they can stop dreaming that she’d ever go oot with either one of them, which is unmitigated bullshit, but you won’t find oot aboot that until the final season. Then she declares that they owe each other a large deluxe pizza and they’re going to eat them right now, causing Dylan to whine, “I just had this great big supper!” Arseman gets up to order the pizzas and adds that now they can “stop acting like teenage geeks in love”. She goes to the counter and Chris looks at Dylan and declares with deep sincerity (thanks, Deadpool): “Teenagers In Love! Hey, that’s not a bad name for a band!” It’s obvious from Dylan’s reaction that he enthusiastically agrees, and I am now convinced that both of Hillside’s resident dirt bags are the products of first-generation inbreeding.
At the only clothing store in the mall, Brooke is inspecting an ootfit when Amanda walks in. They snipe at each other in the usual fashion until Brooke puts the shirt on the counter and tells the girl behind the register that she’ll be paying cash. As the employee rings her up, Amanda informs her that Janice is transferring to another school. Brooke responds, “Good! One less thief at Hillside,” but Amanda explains that Janice kept insisting she didn’t steal the necklace. In a clear effort to convince herself that Janice is at least partly responsible, she adds, “…but she hasn’t even talked to Courtney aboot it, so if people still believe that Janice stole it, then it’s Janice’s own fault, right? So there’s no point in feeling sorry for her, is there?” Amanda sulks oot of the store prompting Brooke to turn to the girl behind the register and ask, “Are all little sisters this peculiar?”
Back at The Avalon, Arseman, Courtney and Ashley are standing around the booth watching Chris and Dylan choke down the last of their deluxe pizzas. Ashley remarks that “guys can be really entertaining sometimes, you have to hand it to them,” just as Matt enters and pulls her aside. He flatly tells her that he talked to Dylan and half-apologizes for jumping to conclusions, setting up Ashley for yet another classic closing shot:
Each time we have a quarrel, it almost breaks my heart
No one in the world ever gets what they want, and that is beautiful. Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful! – They Might Be Giants
Phew! That last episode was quite a ride. I posted that synopsis three days ago and everyone’s still talking aboot it, including Ashley and Dylan who we now catch in mid-conversation next to their lockers.
Ashley: he was so creepy aboot it! he said you and i were secretly dating or something…that i was using him, stringing him along. i’m not like that, am i?
Dylan: Of course not. He’s being a jerk.
Ashley: really! i never knew matt could be such a creep.
Chris appears from oot of nowhere and interrupts their private Matt-bashing session: “Well, if it isn’t the beautiful Ash Blonde Ashley!” Normally, Chris gets spared from the worst of my mockery because he’s such a perfect dick and as such, is just what the rest of the Hillside student body deserves, but this stupid nickname he devised for Whisperina makes absolutely no sense and this is far from the last time we’ll hear it. He makes a few inappropriate comments before asking Dylan if he talked to Arseman aboot joining the band. Dylan says that he hasn’t, then nods towards the stairwell as Arseman and Billy descend together. Deadpool is boring the shit oot of Sassy Afro with more of his weird and disjointed self-promotion when Dylan steps in between them for fear that his little drum monkey will say something so stupid that Arseman will reject their offer. After some mandatory sass, Arseman finally tells them that she’d like to take the gig as the band’s singer. Dylan and Deadpool nearly shit themselves with excitement, but Chris strikes a more businesslike tone: “Well, it’s nice we finally know who we got. Okay, show up at the garage at 4:00 today and be ready to wail. Jerry’s gonna be there.”
Arseman finally scrapes the bottom of her sass reservoir and takes off, leaving the band to engage in some celebratory guy talk in the lounge.
Chris: At least with her on stage, the fans will have something to look at.
Dylan: Uh huh.
Chris: What do you mean, “uh huh”?
Dylan: Well, I thought you weren’t just interested in her singing.
Chris: How’s that?
Dylan: Well, I, uh, thought you had a bit of a thing for her, and now I know it.
Chris: Hey, she’s a nice looking woman. Nothing wrong with that…especially when she’s interested in me, too.
Chris: It’s obvious! Haven’t you noticed how she looks at me?
Dylan laughs at Chris’ unjustified overconfidence before implying that he’s more the type of guy someone like Arseman would find attractive, setting himself up for a challenge that even Olaf would have seen coming from a mile away. (Remember Olaf? I kinda miss him.) They make the bet official: “The first guy that gets a date with Arseman, the other guy has to buy him a deluxe pizza”.
At The Avalon, Janice is admiring a necklace that Courtney took off to show her, explaining that she got it from her grandmother. “It’s so pretty! Is it an antique?” Meanwhile, Arseman enters through the side door and greets Matt who is sitting alone at a table near the payphone. He responds by shrugging his shoulders and making a noise that sounds like “fah”, causing me to wonder what time of the day this is for him to be so fucking shitfaced already. Arseman gets a drink from the counter and joins her friends at their booth. Like Janice, albeit completely unprompted, she gushes over Courtney’s ugly pooka bead necklace before announcing that she joined the band.
Janice: That’s great! I’ve never had a rock singer for a friend!
Arseman makes a few painfully unfunny quips in response, then Janice informs her that Courtney has big news, too. (She doesn’t.) She just got another fucking letter from Jake, who’s due home “in a couple weeks”. Arseman asks her how she feels aboot that, “Happy? Scared stiff? Or both?” and Headband replies that it’s a little of both. “Of course, I miss him, but in those letters, he seems to think we’ve got this heavy relationship going.” Yeah, and I’m sure you said nothing to encourage that belief, right, Shit Drapes? Janice asks if he’s cute and Courtney confirms that he is.
Janice: Well, if you’re interested in him, he must be pretty terrific! (Arseman and Courtney burst into uncontrollable laughter) What? What did I say?
Courtney: Nothing, it’s alright.
Arseman: Just that you should see some of the goofs Courtney’s been interested in!
That would be Dylan and Matt, Sassy Pants. Matt just showed that he doesn’t find you worth giving the time of day to and in aboot another season and a half, you’ll be experiencing the same unrequited love for Dylan as Headband here did last season, so you might want to put some effort into shutting your hyperactive cakehole for once. The three amigos break into a simultaneous giggle fit that mercifully ends this interminable visit to The Avalon.
Dylan and Deadpool are holding an impromptu band meeting in the lounge, the content of which is so asinine that it really doesn’t need my commentary.
Dylan: I gotta have a serious talk with Chris.
Billy: What aboot? This bet on Arseman?
Dylan: No. Aboot the band’s artistic direction.
Billy: What’s that?
Dylan: Well, you know, what kind of music we’re gonna play. He’s gotta stop sneaking thrash metal riffs into the songs. He’s trying to make us sound like Collateral Damage!
Billy: Collateral Damage is a good band.
Dylan: Hey, they’re a great band, but they’re not us, especially now that we’ve got Arseman.
Deadpool seems to find this conversation just as ludicrous as I do, so he pulls a slender rectangular gift-wrapped box oot of his backpack and tells Dylan that he took his advice aboot getting a girl a present: “I bought a scarf!” Dylan asks, “For who?”, and then jokes that if he’s after Arseman, too, then the bet’s off. Billy reacts with offense, so Dylan clarifies, “It’s a joke, Billy! Obviously, I’m kidding. Arseman’s fifteen!” Deadpool’s not having any of Dylan’s ageist shit, so he exclaims, “Excuse me! This other girl’s fifteen. I’ve decided I don’t have much in common with girls my own age.” Dylan laughs and seems to give Billy his blessing to pursue the mysterious older woman as he gets up and walks away.
Of course, Ashley sits down at a table in the lounge at this exact moment, so Deadpool takes a deep breath and walks over to where she’s sitting. He nervously asks if she minds if he sits down, and Ashley says, “Of course,” then asks what he’s having for lunch. Deadpool tells her that he already ate, so she wonders aloud why he’s so keen on watching her eat, leading to a torturously awkward silence. Ashley comes to his rescue by bringing up the topic of Arseman joining the band, punctuating her statement with a pronounced “eh?”, which is something of which we hear surprisingly little from this all-Canadian ensemble. Billy chokes oot a few queasy sentence fragments in response as he starts to pull the gift from his backpack just as the bell rings signaling the end of lunch hour. Keep your fucking Zack Morris jokes to yourself, dear readers. Ashley splits and Deadpool heaves a frustrated sigh as he shoves the gift back into his bag. I wonder if he used this same approach on Scarlett Johansson.
At the garage, Dylan is finishing up his “artistic direction” speech to Chris whose only response is to reiterate, “Billy can’t play for squat and you keep playing stuff from the Middle Ages”. Billy and Arseman enter together and Chris greets their new singer with a smarmy “Hey, Beautiful!” With all the subtlety of a drunk in a MAGA hat, Dylan steps between them and starts to creepily gush to Arseman aboot how great it is to have her in the band. Rather than acknowledge either of their retarded advances, she asks Billy to “do that thing on the cymbals” during Mama Says Be Glad. They may have sexual tension and bitter resentments, but Fleetwood Mac they ain’t. (For those unfamiliar, Fleetwood Mac was a band from the Middle Ages).
Jerry is putting on his jacket as he exits The Avalon shouting to someone behind him, “See you later. Gotta go see this band that’s been pestering me to audition.” The camera pans oot to show Ashley, Courtney and Janice sitting at a table near the door. Whisperina opines that Jerry is “so full of himself” just because he’s the owner’s son, but Courtney jumps to his idiotic defense and lauds him for “setting up all the rock bands playing here.” That may sound ridiculously overblown, but think aboot it: if this audition goes well, The Avalon will soon be hosting Collateral Damage, New Kids On The Block, Jimi Hendrix and The Grapes of Wrath. Pretty impressive for a small café in Vancouver whose marquee reads “Chinese Foods”. Janice suddenly declares, “That necklace is so pretty, Courtney!” and Ashley concurs. Headband replies, “Yeah, I don’t think they make stuff like this anymore,” setting up Ashley for her first and mercifully last attempt at comedy as she affects a stupid old lady voice and quips, “Nope, they don’t make ‘em like they used to, Dearie”. Janice gets up to leave, then sits back down, picks up her drink and says, “But first, a toast to the band! May they pass the audition!” followed by a three-way clinking of glasses. Janice finally leaves and Courtney muses, “I think Janice is gonna be a really good friend.”
It’s audition time. Rather than describe the band’s performance in words, I’ll let Jerry do all the work for me in three quick screen shots:
Regardless, he tells them they’re hired and our incompetent quartet reacts with shameless unmitigated glee. Feeling the moment is right, Chris sits down next to Arseman, puts his arm around her shoulder and tells her that he’s really glad she’s in the band. She stares at him in mild disgust while Dylan and Deadpool try to stifle their laughter.
Deadpool is skulking around by the lockers when Courtney comes by and says something aboot their dad to remind us that these two are supposed to be siblings. The gift-wrapped scarf is poking its head oot of the top of his backpack, so he tries to shove it back in at the appearance of his horrible sister. She congratulates him aboot The Avalon gig, then shows off her necklace, which Billy recognizes as their grandmother’s. She confirms that it is, calling it a “family heirloom”. Billy presciently warns her not to lose it before haltingly changing the subject in an attempt to get up the courage to broach the topic of his Ashley crush as Matt trudges by like he’s fucking sedated on 800 mg of Thorazine. Deadpool calls oot, “Hi, Matt!” and gets this reaction:
Apparently, seeing Matt in this zombified state gives Billy the courage to ask Courtney if she knows where Ashley’s locker is. She responds, “Yeah, why?” but Deadpool pussies oot and tells her to forget it, then begs her not to tell Ashley he asked. With a smirk, she tells him that it’s locker 276. Billy walks off mumbling, “With my luck, she probably keeps it locked,” which, from what I’ve seen of these lockers, is highly unlikely.
Dylan and Chris are at The Avalon trying to come up with a name for the band. I swear on the ashes of my mother’s beehive hairdo that what I’m aboot to type is fucking verbatim:
Dylan: The Pinball Machine. The Chairs. The Tables.
Chris: That’s so dumb!
Dylan: The Ashtrays. How’s that? That’s not a bad name for a band!
Chris: Yeah, right…a bunch of butts lying around.
Dylan: Alright, you come up with one. I’m making all the suggestions. You’re just shooting them down!
Chris: Let’s not have a name at all. The No Name Band.
Dylan: No, that’s been done.
Chris: Let’s call ourselves TBA. To Be Announced. That way we’ll get a lot of bookings.
Dylan: Maybe we should get someone else to think of a name.
Chris: You mean Billy? He’d wanna call us Really New Kids On The Block.
Dylan: No, I mean we’ll get everybody to think of a…hey, wait a minute – that’s not bad! We could have a contest!
Chris: Oh, come on, Dylan!
Dylan: No, wait, listen! This is good! A name the band contest! We’ll let them do the work for us!
Chris: I hate to admit it, but that might work!
Incidentally, this was exactly how The Butthole Surfers decided on their iconic name, too. They decide to make a banner and a suggestion box to put in the student lounge as Ashley and Arseman walk in, effectively ending their meeting of the minds. Dylan and Chris proceed to assault her with the most inept flirtation imaginable, but Arseman just shakes her head and tells them to “save it for a song lyric”. Chris proclaims that he’ll do just that and Dylan counters, “If he writes it, it’ll be a thrash metal wall-banger. I’ll do the most romantic ballad you ever heard!” They finally leave and Ashley asks, “What if they both have a crush on you?” to which Arseman replies, “Both of them? What a drag!” Sassy Afro goes on to opine that “Dylan’s alright, I guess, but Chris can be such a jerk!” and Ashley counters, “But kind of cute, right?” Yeah, you read that right. Ashley and Chris. I’d completely understand if you decide to bail oot of reading this blog any further now that you have this foreknowledge.
In the girls’ locker room, Janice is sitting on the bench rubbing her knee when Ashley enters and asks if she’s okay while she pins a note on Courtney’s locker. Janice explains that she banged up her knee falling over Courtney in a volleyball game. As Ashley walks towards the door, Janice shouts, “Courtney’s great, isn’t she? She always has something good to say aboot people!” You mean like, “I’m sure she means well, but she’s so irritating!”, Janice?
Dylan and Chris are setting up their Name The Band sideshow in the student lounge when some unknown kids walk by and treat them to some well deserved mockery. After they walk off, Guitar and Bass continue to snipe at each other over who Arseman finds more desirable.
Courtney is at her gym locker when she notices that her stupid ugly necklace is missing. She desperately scours her locker and rummages through some dirty clothes on the bench, but it’s nowhere to be found. You should’ve listened to Deadpool, Moron.
Ashley and Arseman are still at The Avalon, engaged in the same idiotic conversation aboot whether or not Ashley thinks Chris is cute when Courtney comes running over to their table in a panic. She bellows that someone stole her necklace that she’d placed in her locker during gym class. Arseman is positively aghast at the news, but Ashley responds by asking her if she got the note that she taped to her locker. It comes oot that Janice was in the locker room when she was leaving the note. Who Farted is sitting at the counter and when she overhears this last earth-shattering statement, she gets up and runs oot the door.
Who Farted rushes up to the table in the student lounge where Brooke is eating lunch.
WF: This is good. This is very good! This is prime!
Brooke: Don’t keep us in suspense, Dahling, do tell!
WF: It’s aboot Janice!
Larry, Moe and Curly are back in the girls’ locker room searching for the necklace as Larry whines that she should have listened to her brother and wonders how she’ll ever break the news to her grandmother. Arseman advises her to ask Miss Leddingham if anyone’s seen it, but Courtney is certain she left it in the locker, though she can’t believe that Janice took it. Janice enters the locker room smiling from ear to ear and asks, “Do I hear my name in vain?” Her smile melts when she faces her three stone-faced friends and asks, “What’s the matter?” just as Brooke and Who Farted walk in. This is by far the busiest we’ve ever seen the girls’ locker room. Look at this shit:
Brooke begins to bloviate: “What’s the matter? Now that takes nerve, wouldn’t you say? I mean, I have to admire a woman with that kind of gall, entertaining us with her innocent routine after she’s the one who stole the necklace herself!” Arseman and Ashley cut in to remind Brooke that people are innocent until proven guilty, and they go back and forth as Janice stands awkwardly between them until Brooke claims that Janice faked an injury to get into the locker room by herself and lifts up the hem of her skirt, proclaiming, “There! See? No bruise!” Janice runs from the locker room as Brooke crosses her arms and says, “I’m sorry, Courtney. I know you thought she was your friend.”
Jesus, I’m fucking tired and hungry. If the lack of a closing joke for this post disappoints you, just make one up yourself, okay?
I want you to notice / when I’m not around / You’re so fucking special / I wish I was special / but I’m a creep / I’m a weirdo. – Radiohead
On June 6, 1962, an obscure quartet of Liverpudlian musicians sat in an antechamber of Abbey Road Studios anxiously awaiting the arrival of famed record producer George Martin. The rest, as they say, is history.
On an unknown date in 1991, an obscure trio of Vancouverite musicians sat at the counter of The Avalon anxiously awaiting the arrival of famed talent scout Jerry the Filth Pig. The rest, as they say, is asininity.
While Dylan tries to calm his nervous band mates, we learn that Jerry is The Avalon owner’s son, but there’s still no definitive confirmation that he was the hygiene-impaired “dumpy motherfucker” of a waiter we all came to know and love in Season 1. As if reading my thoughts, the Man of the Hour shows up wearing a meticulously clean and pressed white apron. Chris immediately starts to dictate the terms of the arrangement before Jerry reminds him that he hasn’t even heard the band yet and wants to know what kind of music they play. Deadpool volunteers, “we’re kind of into New Kids” causing Chris to roll his eyes in exasperation and declare that they’re not into New Kids, so Dylan clarifies, “Well, basically, we’re rockers…but we’ve got a pretty good range!” Chris asks Jerry to drop by the garage this afternoon, but Dylan advises him that today’s too soon and he’ll contact him later in the week to schedule the audition. First, they need to find a lead singer, the desperate pursuit of which will keep them idiotically occupied for the rest of the episode.
Headband sees Ashley at her locker and asks if she’d like to go to the mall after school. As usual, Whisperina overcomplicates the process of answering a simple yes or no question, so Courtney changes the subject:
Courtney: Listen, aboot Matt—
Ashley: let’s just…leave it, okay?
Courtney: When I said I’d go oot with him, I just – I really thought it was over between you two.
Ashley: that’s what i thought, too. i thought i’d let go…then when i heard he’d asked you oot, i started going through the roof. you figure it oot. maybe i just need more time than i thought…to get used to the idea of matt going oot with someone else.
Courtney: You still care aboot him, don’t you? You still care aboot him a lot…and if that’s the way you feel, you’ve gotta tell him.
A couple of takeaways from this conversation: 1) Courtney’s obviously been spending far too much time with Arseman; 2) Matt started drinking again just in the nick of fucking time.
Dylan and Deadpool are brainstorming at their lockers when Billy suddenly declares, “It’s gotta be someone good…I mean really good, like – like Janet Jackson!” I’m gonna let that one slide because I know with the benefit of hindsight that someday you’ll be a wisecracking, ass-kicking superhero, but I’m watching you, Billy. Headband interrupts their conversation to wish them luck in the upcoming concert.
Dylan: Even though I’m a jackass?
Courtney: Oh, you are not.
Dylan: Sometimes I’m a jackass.
Courtney: Let’s just say sometimes I think you’re sort of a jackass.
Hmm. That didn’t go as planned. I thought if I typed the word “jackass” three times, Corky Martin would materialize in my living room and I could beat him aboot the head with a Dust Buster. Oh well, fuck it. Let’s move on.
In the girls’ locker room, Courtney tells Janice (phew!) that she’s really good at volleyball prompting her to wax nostalgic aboot playing on the volleyball team at her old school. As Courtney starts to leave, Janice nervously asks her if she’d like to get together some time at lunch hour. Headband hesitates, but when she notices the distressed look on Janice’s face, she asks, “How aboot tomorrow?” Janice is ecstatic, apparently forgetting all aboot the fact that Courtney finds her irritating.
I introduced the character of John in my Season 2 infographic post, but neglected to mention that we don’t actually meet him until the ninth episode of the season. This is the diminutive dork with elephantitis of the ears that we see Deadpool holding by the ankles during the opening credits. Anyhow, John is pounding on the soda machine in frustration when Billy walks over and tells him that there’s a special spot that when struck with a certain finesse – voila! – produces the can of soda. John is audibly amazed at Deadpool’s super powers, so his new acquaintance informs him that “it’s all in the rhythm…just like drumming”. He goes on to tell him that he’s in a rock band and that they’ll be playing The Avalon before he’s distracted from his self-promoting diatribe by the appearance of Ashley in the lounge.
As Erin and Leah look on from a nearby bench, Deadpool tells Ashley that he “really let Chris and Dylan have it” for rejecting her as the band’s singer. She blows off his unnecessary concern, but he continues to insist that he thought she was great. Ashley affectionately touches Billy’s arm and again tells him that he’s sweet as she gets up to go to class.
Erin: Major crush! Major crush! Major crush!
Leah: Isn’t it hilarious how a crush can turn an intelligent boy into an idiot?
Erin: Only Billy wasn’t that intelligent to begin with.
Leah opines that she doesn’t even know any intelligent boys, so Dumbo Ears who was eavesdropping by the soda machine this whole time chimes in to inform her that he’s not surprised, since “intelligent boys don’t go anywhere near girls!”
Deadpool is leaning over the back of the booth in The Avalon pinball room asking Dylan incessant moronic questions while Leather Jacket tries to work on a book report. Billy takes a seat and tries to get Dylan to advise what he should do if he’s unsure whether a certain girl likes him or not, ignoring his mentor’s annoyed attempts to brush him off. Realizing that Deadpool won’t leave him in peace until he gets an answer, he tells him to “buy her something expensive”.
Courtney and Arseman stroll through the student lounge discussing Dylan’s quest for a lead singer. Courtney thinks that he must be desperate, because he even asked her if she’d like to audition, so Arseman hands her a ruler as a prop microphone and orders her to sing. To my horror, she obliges Sassy Afro and begins to drone “Michael rowed the boat ashore, allelu—” before mercifully cutting her song short and whining, “I can’t!” Those of you who’ve been reading Notes From The Avalon since its inception will understand the significance of what follows.
Arseman: Well, that’s kind of a lame song anyway. See, a rock singer’s gotta be really aggressive. Like, um, you know that old song “Mama Says Be Glad”?
Courtney: Sort of.
Arseman: God, how does it go? (singing into the ruler while gettin’ jiggy wit it in the middle of the student lounge) Well, I’m too young to fly and I’m too old to cry, but Mama says be glad I’m young and I don’t ask why, ‘cause I’m fifteen, not old enough to be free! Yeah, I’m fifteen years old, and that’s the trouble with me!
The curiously large crowd in the student lounge (which Courtney referred to as “the cafeteria” just a moment ago) responds with thunderous applause as Dylan approaches from the locker vestibule and excitedly asks Arseman if she’d like a job.
An exterior shot of the school signals a scene change, but in its wake, we’re right back in the lounge listening to Dylan insist that Arseman has to audition for the band. She vacillates for a bit before Dylan tells her to be at the garage at 4:00.
Next we see Leather Jacket ambushing Ashley at her locker with the news of Arseman’s heretofore hidden talent: “She’s really got a…a style! I think we finally found our lead singer!” Ashley jokingly tells him aboot Deadpool’s allegation that he lit into him and Chris for rejecting her and they have a laugh before Dylan thanks her for understanding and then pulls this shit…
…a bold public display that unwittingly causes this shit:
At the mall clothing store, Billy is inspecting the price tags attached to several garments he has laid oot on the counter, hoping to find something at least moderately affordable with which to impress Whisperina. When he expresses consternation that something as simple as a scarf can be so expensive, the same obnoxious employee that helped to convince Who Farted to buy an overpriced skirt with her dad’s credit card starts to play the same poverty-shaming game with Deadpool. Incidentally, just over Billy’s shoulder, the black skirt with white polka dots that enabled Who Farted to take Hillside by storm is hanging on the wall. I’d really like to buy it for Janice, but if the merchandise in this place is oot of Ryan Reynolds’ price range, I’m sure I can’t afford to make such a gesture.
Arseman and Courtney are having a stupid conversation by the soda machine when Janice comes around the corner and deliberately avoids eye contact as she walks by. Arseman calls oot to her, so she immediately begins to apologize for eavesdropping, then nervous wrecks her way through an over-the-top effluvium of encouragement aboot Arseman’s upcoming audition. All the while, Arseman and Courtney are condescendingly staring at her like she’s a retarded kitten caught up in a ball of yarn. Janice finally runs off and Courtney decides that “she’s actually kind of okay” and Arseman seems to agree, adding that “she just needs to calm down a little”.
Arseman walks off and Courtney approaches Janice at a table in the lounge. Shit Drapes proceeds to break their lunch date for tomorrow and Janice understandably interprets this as yet another blow-off before Courtney clarifies, “How aboot this afternoon?” Good save, Headband. For a second there, I thought I was going to have to make an impromptu trip to Vancouver and go all Deadpool on your sorry ass.
Chris shows up late to the garage for Arseman’s audition. Not wishing to waste any more time, Dylan asks everyone present, “You wanna do ‘Mama Says Be Glad’ again?”, which I assume is a rhetorical question because it’s the only fucking song we’ll hear them play from here on oot. Billy gets up to adjust his snare and excitedly asks his bandmates, “Oh, hey, did you guys see that New Kids special on TV last night? They had some really great dance moves! We should try something like that!” Okay, Deadpool, listen up. In a couple of decades, you’ll have more than enough cred to get away with publicly airing your abysmal musical tastes – hell, when the time comes, I’ll even forgive you for ear-raping me and millions of other viewers with Chicago’s god-awful eighties abomination “You’re The Inspiration” – but those days are pretty far off, so you might want to keep your appreciation of audio atrocities under wraps for now. Chris responds, “The New Kids are goofs – and so are people who like them” before they launch into a painfully uninspired rendition of MSBG. When the song ends, Billy and Dylan seem ready to offer Arseman the gig but Chris asks her to step ootside so they can discuss things. As soon as she exits, Chris explains that he thinks she’s alright, but he doesn’t want her to be “too sure of herself” and wants to ensure that “she knows her place”. After a few more seconds, they ask her back in and tell her that she’s hired, but the Sass Master turns the tables and wonders aloud whether she even wants to be hired. She tells them that since she auditioned for them, it’s their turn to audition for her. Taking a seat and crossing her legs, she confidently instructs the dumbstruck trio, “Whenever you’re ready, Guys. Rock on!”
At The Avalon, Courtney is giving Janice tips on how to play pinball. After tapping lightly at the buttons for aboot a nanosecond, Janice throws in the towel and declares, “See? I totally blew it!” which doesn’t illustrate her lack of self-confidence as much as it does the fact that THE FUCKING PINBALL MACHINE ISN’T EVEN PLUGGED IN!! Courtney points oot that her initials, along with Matt’s and Jake’s, are displayed on the high scores list, prompting Janice to gush, “Wow! You guys are famous!” She expresses her envy towards pretty much everybody who isn’t her, gaining exponential psychotic steam with every word that wind sprints oot of her mouth as she treats Courtney to the most exquisite mental breakdown ever captured on celluloid:
Janice: I want to do something. Like at my old school. I was on the soccer team…everybody liked me. I was smart…and I come here and it’s not just that I’m not popular anymore, it’s also…I’ve turned into this idiot! I open my mouth and the stupidest things come oot! (a kid enters through the rear door and hurries away from her presence) There, see? I hear what I’m saying and I see people look at me like I’m crazy and I think, ‘Janice, SHUT UP’, but I can’t!! I’ve forgotten how to talk and I’ve forgotten how to shut up! SEE?! I CAN’T EVEN SHUT UP NOW!!”
More so than any of the performances we’ve seen from Laura Harris, Rekha Shah’s delivery of this glorious public meltdown defies my ability to describe it. Blindsided by this unexpected display of lunacy, Courtney tells her that it’s okay as Janice collapses into her arms and hugs Headband with all of her might.
Back at the garage, Arseman’s stone-faced reaction to the band’s performance seems to be the last straw for Chris who shouts in frustration, “Hey, take the job or don’t take it!” Sassy Ass goes off on some shit her father taught her aboot never signing a contract until you’ve thought aboot it for at least 24 hours before sashaying her self-satisfied derriere oot the door.
Matt trudges into The Avalon and Ashley says hi from her table by the door. He reluctantly returns her greeting before walking back to the pinball room. Whisperina heaves a sigh and grumbles to herself, “how come the girl always follows the guy?” before getting up to follow him. She stands, arms crossed, next to the inoperable pinball machine:
Ashley: so, how’s it going?
Matt: Hey, fine. Good, thanks.
Ashley: you know, i’ve been talking to courtney. we’re getting to be friends again.
Matt: That’s good, too.
Ashley: yeah. even when people care aboot each other a lot, they still have misunderstandings. but then they find ways to clear them up, right? and they can start over?
Matt: Why? You having misunderstandings with DYLAN?
Matt: ‘Cause you sure don’t seem to misunderstand each other! You seem to “understand” each other just fine!!
Ashley: what are you getting at? there’s nothing going on with dylan. we’re friends.
Matt: Yeah, real good friends from what I’ve seen! So where do I fit in? You having fun keeping me on a string while you’re playing with Dylan?!
Ashley: what are you talking aboot?
Matt: Or do you just keep me around so he doesn’t take you for granted?
Ashley: this is crazy!
Matt: Either way, it’s nice to feel useful.
Ashley: you creep! how come I never noticed what a creep you are?! were you always like this?
Matt: Were YOU?!
Ashley: you know something? i’m just really glad we broke up because now i don’t have to put up with any of this!
Matt: Hey, I’ll drink to that!
Ashley: you probably will! and it’ll be all my fault, won’t it? like everything was always my fault!!
Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Ashley. I’m pretty sure you weren’t responsible for the Crusades or the rise and fall of the Third Reich, but when it comes to Matt’s obvious alcoholic relapse – yeah, that one’s on you. Hell, you nearly drive me back to the bottle every time I have to transcribe one of your ridiculous whispered tirades. So nostrovia, Matt! How aboot we go for some beer and baguettes, eh?
Before I jump into today’s episode, I thought it might be fun to give you a little backstory aboot my relationship with Fifteen. In 1992, I was a drunken 22-year-old college dropoot living with a roommate in a shithole apartment in New Brunswick, NJ. I spent much of my time splayed oot on the sofa with a six pack, staring idly at the television. These were the early days of Roseanne, and I remember taking in many episodes of that sitcom in its indisputable heyday. But there was one show that was prominent above all the rest in my viewing rotation and that, of course, was Fifteen. Initially, I just stumbled upon an episode in progress and immediately understood its infinite potential for parody, which in those days consisted of me yelling stupefied vulgarities at the TV screen. But that alone wasn’t enough to make me obsess over a poorly produced Nickelodeon children’s soap opera. It would take something more than that to jumpstart my lifelong fandom, something that reached into the very depths of my soul and made me question everything I believed. That something was Laura “Liz” Harris, the actress who played the part of the soft-spoken, inappropriately libido stirring, infuriating, bipolar waif named Ashley Fraser. In other words, it was L-O-V-E that made me a lifelong devotee of the students of Hillside.
And that’s why it’s all the more confounding as I revisit Fifteen a quarter of a century later to realize that Ashley is a fucking self-absorbed moron whose affections I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Alcohol can really mess with a lonely young guy’s sense of discrimination. Just ask Matt.
Matt, Dave and four members of the Jock Squad are crammed into a booth at The Avalon after the game. Apparently, Matt scored two points during his brief time on the court and now he’s feigning humble embarrassment while Dave and his teammates shower him with effusive praise as if he’d just bested Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time scoring record. Following an impromptu chant of “MATT-MATT-MATT-MATT!”, the four jocks get up to leave, and a briefly audible moment of their simultaneous banter while they gather their things reminds me that “turkey” was still considered a viable insult in 1992. On the one hand, it’s a relief to be rid of this boisterous crowd of cliché-spouting stereotypes, but on the other, their departure just leaves us with Dave sitting across from Matt and I fear that taking in much more of his deadpanned verbal chloroform may trigger a spontaneous acute encephalopathic coma from which I’ll never awaken. Such are the risks of great endeavors performed for the betterment of humanity.
I’ve meandered too far from the action at hand, and for that, I apologize. Dave gives his hero a boring little pep talk, telling him that in no time, he’ll be back to scoring 18 to 20 points per game and “it’ll be just like old times.” Matt responds, “Not exactly. If it was like the old days, I’d be sitting here with Ashley.”
In the student lounge, Brooke is giving Who Farted’s old lady thrift store ootfit a thorough once over. She concludes that her new little minion could look really good, “if you just put yourself together a bit better.” Who Farted moans that her “clothing allowance” doesn’t allow for her to make high fashion choices, and Brooke is absolutely dumbstruck at the idea of being so financially limited. Brooke offers to accompany her to the mall at lunchtime to help her pick oot a more suitable ootfit, but Who Farted expresses hesitation at using her dad’s credit card for such a frivolous purpose.
Dylan enters The Avalon and approaches Chris at the counter.
Dylan: Mind if I sit down?
Chris: It’s a free country.
Dylan: Yeah. Listen, the band’s going nowhere unless we get it together. Together, like all of us. You, me and Billy.
Chris: You, me…and Billy the Kid? Terrific.
Dylan: He’s okay.
Chris: Yeah, sure.
Dylan: Aboot the other day…
Chris: Yeah, what aboot it?
Dylan: Could we just forget it?
Chris: Forget it?! You tried to show me up…in front of Ashley!
Dylan: You were being a jerk.
Chris: Don’t push it, Dylan! Ashley’s a big girl now. Besides, she can take care of herself.
Dylan: She’s a friend of mine. Okay, look, could we just get on with it? I’ll stay off your toes, you stay off mine, deal?
Chris: Yeah, okay. Deal.
Dylan: Have you got that?!
Chris: I said deal, didn’t I?
Dylan: Okay. Now aboot the band…we need a good lead singer and I think I’ve got an idea.
Deadpool sits down next to Ashley in the student lounge. As they engage in small talk, Billy’s mannerisms betray more than mild infatuation with his sister’s former bestie, though she doesn’t seem to be picking up on that vibe. She asks him how the band is doing and he replies, “Hey, we’re getting real good! We’re doing some New Kids stuff…and some metal.” Ashley feigns interest before asking Billy if he’s seen Courtney. She asks him to tell his sister that she’s looking for her, and he invites her to stop by the garage some time to hear them play. In case you weren’t paying attention, what she’ll be hearing if she decides to take him up on his offer is some New Kids stuff…and some metal.
Pivoting from one pubescent crush to another, he walks over to Amanda’s table.
Billy: It’s great to see her back, huh?
Amanda: Yeah. You two seem to get along real well.
Billy: I guess not everyone finds me hopelessly immature.
Amanda: No? Then why don’t you ask her oot?
This is a tangled fucking web in which you’ve ensnared yourself, Wade Winston Wilson. And since you mentioned it, who’s balls did you have to fondle to get your very own movie?
Dylan spots Ashley at her locker and asks her if it’s rough being back, leading me to wonder what the hell they’ve been talking aboot since she set up camp in his garage almost a week ago. They’re interrupted by Matt greeting Dylan with a sarcastic, “Hey, it’s the Big Rocker!”, to which Dylan replies, “Hey, it’s the Hero of the Hoops!” Somebody needs to school these two idiots on the nuances of trash talk stat. As Dylan stands awkwardly between them, Matt and Ashley exchange some words aboot Friday’s basketball game and the fact that Matt had been hoping to see her there. Reluctantly realizing he’s a third wheel, Matt finally takes his leave. Ashley tells Dylan, “i wish you guys would get along,” to which James Dean replies, “Hey, we get along. We have a great relationship. I can’t stand him and he can’t stand me, either. It’s perfect!” He changes the subject and tells Ashley that he didn’t just come here to watch her throw around books and lunch bags as she struggles to locate her math book. This leads to Dylan’s previously quoted declaration that “there’s more to life than a math book,” and when Whisperella retorts, “like what?”, he enthusiastically responds, “Rock and roll! R & B, metal…heavy metal!” This is, of course, Dylan’s lead-in to asking Ashley to audition for the band’s lead singer spot, a proposition she deems ludicrous because she can’t sing. She insists that it’s a crazy idea, but he just tells her to be at the garage to audition after school.
Oh man, I didn’t realize it would happen so early on, but we’re aboot to get our first glimpse of the fabled mall to which these little douchebags are always referring. The scene opens on this generic shot of shoppers strolling past various stores and kiosks:
However, the only establishments we will ever see these kids patronize for the remainder of the series are the clothing store in which we now find Brooke and Who Farted that boasts approximately four racks of shirts and skirts and the tiny café adjoining it. Don’t any of these adolescent shit stains ever get a hankering for Orange Julius?
Brooke is holding up a black skirt with white polka dots to Who Farted’s shapeless frame, declaring that she looks “really good!” Who Farted is still hesitant to use her father’s credit card for the purchase of new clothes, but when the girl behind the register presumptively asks, “Will that be cash?”, Brooke’s subsequent antagonism causes her to cave and buy the skirt.
Ashley sheepishly approaches the table in the lounge where Courtney is doing homework and apologizes for how she acted yesterday. Headband turns the tables and apologizes for almost dating Matt and it seems all is right with the world again before Ashley dramatically whispers, “things have changed, haven’t they? a lot of things are different. i gotta go.” Maybe it would be best if you just kept your apologies to yourself, Asshole.
At The Avalon, Matt is either pretending to play or dry-humping the dysfunctional pinball machine when Dave tells him that he was talking to Coach Williams earlier and the coach “wanted to know if you had your…problem under control.”
Matt: My problem?
Dave: Yeah…you know.
Matt: No, I don’t know.
Dave: You know, your drinking and all.
Matt: Hey – I don’t have a drinking problem!
Dave: Yeah, I know, but—
Matt: So what is this?! The coach got you spying for him?
Dave: No! Hey, look, he was just worried.
Matt: He’s worried? So you told him I have it all under control, right?
Dave: Yeah, I told him—
Matt: That’s just great! Thanks a lot! Man, I used to have a couple beers on Friday night and all of a sudden – wham! – everyone thinks that I’m some kind of alcoholic or something! Well, I’m not, so do me a favor, will ya? Run along and tell Coach Williams that I haven’t had a beer in weeks! Nothing! Not one drop!! ZIP!!! That oughta satisfy him. And while you’re at it, do me another favor – STAY OOT OF MY FACE!!
That was fucking awesome, but it would have been even better had it been Jake instead of Dave on the receiving end.
Back at Hillside, Ashley’s still searching for her math book in the student lounge when Deadpool walks over and asks if she’s looking for something. When she explains her predicament, he reaches down to the chair right next to him and holds up the missing textbook that this moron somehow failed to locate even though she’s been ostensibly hunting it down since the beginning of the fucking episode. She tells Billy that he’s sweet and that she’ll see him after school when she comes to Dylan’s garage to audition, sending him into a daydream involving him and his newest crush in formal wear at a candlelit table. In his fantasy, Ashley showers him with adoring praise and declares that he “really made it” while Deadpool casually brushes off his myriad accomplishments with false humility. She tells dream-Billy that he’s got “a boyish charm with a macho edge” and that he’s “dangerously irresistible”. What’s ironic, of course, is that in aboot 20 years’ time, young Billy’s fantasy will pale in comparison to Ryan Reynolds’ reality.
Who Farted is wearing her new ootfit when she enters the locker vestibule with Brooke. Chris, leaning over the stairway bannister, leers at her as she approaches and asks her if she got a new haircut or something. While she’s drinking in his flattery, the Jock Squad gallops down the stairs and each of them immediately starts fawning all over her as if she actually acquired a new face rather than a fairly standard-issue polka dot dress from the only clothing store at the only mall in town. She walks off with the jocks, bumping into Amanda who enthuses, “Nice ootfit!” Finding herself alone with her little sister, Brooke complains aboot the shallowness of people who overreact to something like a new dress, when “it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.” Amanda sneers, “Right. You know, you’re looking a little bleak. You should get Stacy to go to the mall with you…maybe she can give you a few tips.” All of that would probably have been quite amusing if I didn’t fucking hate Who Farted with every fiber of my being.
It’s audition time! Even though we’re only afforded two verses of Ashley’s cringe-worthy performance of some hastily penned fake pop song, I feel compelled to say so much more aboot it than I’m probably capable. You know, I used to devote my blog to things like quantum mechanics, Zen Buddhism, and a host of other ontological and epistemological topics, but never have I found myself so bereft of adequate words as when I need to verbally illustrate the indescribable phenomenon that is Laura Harris’ portrayal of this pink lunatic. Billy gushes that she was great while Chris makes it abundantly clear that he thought she sucked, so Dylan asks Ashley to come back later so that the band can discuss things. The ensuing band meeting goes exactly as you’d expect, with Chris advising Dylan that it’s his responsibility to tell her that she’s too shitty to sing for their shitty band: “She’s rotten, and you’ve got to tell her. Your problem, Rocker.”
At The Avalon, Brooke is trying to get Who Farted to rethink her perplexingly popular new look, declaring that she may have made a “terrible mistake” for talking her into something that “basically just doesn’t suit you.” Sensing that her newly stylish underling isn’t persuaded by her insincere words, she steps it up a notch and tells her that she looks fat, just as Deadpool walks past and enthusiastically tells her that she looks great. You decided to play Dr. Frankenstein, Brooke, and this is your monster.
Ashley returns to the garage where Dylan proceeds to nervously inform her that she didn’t make the cut. He seems enormously relieved when it becomes apparent that she doesn’t give a flying fuck, even though she made it pretty clear when he first approached her aboot this that she didn’t give a flying fuck.
In the boys’ locker room, Dave is making to leave when Matt calls oot to him. He starts to apologize for blowing up at him earlier but ends up getting all riled up again in the process of explaining how much it bugs him when people think he has a drinking problem. I seem to recall several such “apologies” from Matt over the course of the first season. Regardless, Dave indicates that everything’s cool between them and Matt thanks him with an affectionate pat on the shoulder.
In the garage, Dylan is noodling on some pedestrian blues riff when Chris enters to make sure that Ashley was informed of her inadequacy for their crappy band. After Dylan confirms that she was, Chris advises that they’ll need to find a decent singer fast because “Jerry down at The Avalon just offered us a gig.” It seems that The Avalon is starting to host bands on the weekend and Jerry (Filth Pig?) has been tapped to scout oot talent for this new venue. However, Chris slightly overstated the situation because first Jerry needs to check them oot and, “if he likes what he hears, we’re in.” He again tells Dylan to find a good lead singer ASAP before they ecstatically high-five each other in reaction to their big break.
Have you noticed that Janice has been AWOL for two whole episodes now? Where could she be? I’m starting to get a little concerned that something tragic may have befallen her — and so are you. So stay tuned, Motherfuckers!