Thursday, October 18, 2012

Neighbors Season, One, Episode Four: Bathroom Etiquette

The Weavers enter their house bickering when they hear a scream.  It seems that Max has convinced Dick Butkus that he will be the target of bullies and so he is holding his head in the toilet to see how long he can hold his breathe.  Debbie and Marty are absolutely appalled but say that it's an educated guess. Debbie tells them that at school the toughest kid picks on the weakest kid, and Larry Bird responds, "and you wonder why the chinese are dominating you."  Debbie promises that Max will look out for Dick Butkus. The Zabvronians are overwhelmed and point out that on their planet they educate their children by feeding them the brains of their elders because it allows them to focus on nurturing them. Debbie and Matt respond that if they listen to them, everything will be fine. Larry Bird is not impressed and says, "listen to them, pardon me for being skeptical, look at how they use this room with all of their towels and soaps and excrement bowls."  This disgusts poor Dick Butkus because he realises that he has just had his head in the toilet for the last 40 minutes.  This confuses Marty because he cannot imagine what the Zabvronians do with their bathrooms. It turns out that the Zabvronians grow gardens and Larry Bird believes that this makes humans the "crazy ones."

The next morning, Debbie is preparing lunch for all of the kids, including Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus because she doesn't want them "outing themselves at school." Marty asks if Debbie is sure she wants to get involved because he believes that you shouldn't tell other parents how to raise their kids.  Debbie agrees with this sentiment but says that there is just something about their neighbors - "they're a blank slate."  She adds, "to teach them how to live makes me feel like Oprah."

Next door, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is busy ripping the garden out of the bathroom and she tells Larry Bird that they are living like humans now.  Larry Bird is not impressed because he feels like the Weavers are rubbing it in their face that they know more about being human. They then try to decide if what he said was sarcasm or irony. When they answer the doorbell, the Weavers are there with lunches.  Dick Butkus has his shirt outside of his pants and Reggie Jackson's pants are sagging. Larry Bird immediately demands that Reggie Jackson pull his pants up and that Dick Butkus tuck his shirt in.  Marty quickly intervenes and says that the sloppier the kid the cooler they are. The Weavers then assure Dick that that if the kids are mean to ignore them and that they will find a new target soon.  When Jackie Joyner-Kersee wonders if they should alert the commander of the school, Debbie says that doing so will only put a larger target on Dick's tiny frail back.  Larry Bird says, "we are truly grateful for all of your great advice Weavers, it means a lot to us." He then whispers to Jackie Joyner-Kersee, "now that was sarcasm." Jackie Joyner-Kersee says to Debbie, "Oh there's so many rules. Is there anything more complicated than raising two school aged boys?"  This is when we hear a harsh shrill call from Amber, "Mom, I need you now!"

Debbie walks up the stairs of her home, clearly trying to get her wits about her to deal with Amber.  Debbie opens the door and asks, "honey how are you doing?"  Amber reveals that she has a zit on her chin. Debbie tries to console Amber and suggests that it's not so bad but Amber believes that the zit is volcanic. Debbie accuses her of being a bit dramatic and Amber screams, "Huh dramatic. You wanna see dramatic?  Look at my face. Look at my zit. This is dramatic. Thank you for all of the french fries mom. Learn to cook."  Debbie leaves her house and meets Marty who is waiting out front with Zabvronians, who are holding signs encouraging Reggie Jackson and Dick to learn at school.

When Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Larry Bird, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus leave their home, the  Zabvronians strike up a marching band. The music quickly stops when Amber leaves her house with one of the Zabvronians saying, "oh my God, what's on her face?"  Amber walks towards the Zabvronians and asks them if they want a closer look and they quickly say no.  Amber turns to Reggie and tells him that it's time to go and get the bus.  Larry Bird informs Reggie Jackson that they will walk him to school and once there, give him an emotional parental send off.  Debbie of course quickly intervenes and sends Reggie on his way saying, "I don't mean to over step, but I am going to drop a little wisdom."  Marty reminds Debbie that she is not Oprah but she persists, "well they're teenagers, so being seen around your parents is humiliating."  Larry Bird is not impressed and says that on their planet, parents and children are proud to show affection.  Marty says that he has to get to work and Larry Bird responds, "how will we survive without you?"  This excites Jackie Joyner-Kersee because Larry Bird has been sarcastic.

At school, Reggie Jackson is concerned that he looks foolish in his jeans because he has to keep pulling them up.  When they walk into a hallway full of kids, Amber does a quick analysis and quickly breaks down who the most popular dude is. A girl bumps into Amber and says,"nice zit freak show." Reggie Jackson sees this as a good thing and says that she has a cool new nickname.

When Dick Butkus gets out of the car he says, "greetings new friends, I look forward to quenching our thirst for knowledge together." The kids turn and stare for a moment and then walk away. Debbie introduces the kids to the teacher and pauses when she get to Dick Butkus briefly.  She then encourages Larry to get out of the car to say goodbye but Larry is still petulant and believes that without the influence of the Weavers that he would still be in his bathroom, with his plants and his children. The Zabvronians want to perform their good bye ceremony, which will involve gathering random school children and Dick professing his love for his mother in traditional song form.  Max starts to scream mother and Debbie tries to cut them off, as Dick starts singing about how much he loves Jackie Joyner-Kersee and that he wishes he could over throw his father.  Larry Bird proudly professes that one day he shall.  Debbie again pushes for the teacher to get the kids moving, as Jackie Joyner-Kersee asks to profess her love of Dick Butkus.  The teacher gets the kids moving and Debbie says, "now buck up because this is what's about to go down. Your little boy is going to walk into  school and instantly become the newest, most unique boy there. Because of that he's going to get targeted as the weakest.  When it all goes bad and he comes home in tears, you're going to have to pick up the pieces."  Inside the school, as the kids gather around Dick Butkus and Max, Dick turns and punches Max in the stomach saying, "look, I'm not the weakest one here and I am expressing my dominance." One of the kids replies, "hey look, the new kid just got beat up by the red headed girl."

The Weavers are sitting in the princepal's office and she says that she has never had to call parents into school on the first day within the first half an hour. Larry Bird is delighted and replies, "it appears that the Weavers don't know everything about everything after all. Dick Butkus is the victor and it seems that Max Weaver is the feeble one."  Debbie is concerned and asked what happened because she thought Max and Dick were friends. Dick reveals that he beat up Max, so that he would not be viewed as the weakest.  The principal asks who told him that and Dick Butkus points to Max. Jackie Joyner-Kersee pipes up to add that they wanted to come to her but they were told that it would only make it more difficult for Dick. The principal asks Jackie Joyner-Kersee who told them that and the Zabvronians point to the Weavers.  Debbie is not pleased and points out that without their guidance, the Zabvronians would have sent the kids to school looking like Arnold Palmer.  Jackie Joyner-Kersee asks, "what has Arnold Palmer ever done to you besides keep an eye on your house when you were away and pick up your mail?"  The principal is confused by what is happening. Larry Bird demands that his family stand and he says to the Weavers, "all week you have deemed us incompetent parents and my son's victory proves just that." The principal is aghast and says, "no, no. it's not a victory, I am giving him detention." Jackie Joyner-Kersee thanks the principal and asks that it be sent to their home.  The Zabvronians leave and Debbie explains that the Zabvronians are British.

Reggie Jackson approaches Amber to report that he has had a disturbing day and says that if he didn't know any better, he would believe that the other students weren't interested in learning.  Amber tells him to hit the mute button because she is thinking.  Reggie sits next to her and asks what she is thinking about and Amber says that she is trying to decide how she can impress "Twilight over there" with the huge zit on her face.  Reggie asks how she managed in her former school and Amber replies that she just had to be herself and remember that she was in a celebrity relationship and to be cruel to her real friends in front of the popular kids. Reggie tells her that he finds her fascinating.

Back at the Weavers, Marty is getting ready to leave when Jackie Joyner-Kersee appears to return some magazines, saying that she and her husband do not want them near their toilet garden. "As appreciative we are of what you have told us, we are not bad parents despite what you may think." The Zabvronians cheer Jackie Joyner-Kersee on.  Marty says that if they are not going to raise their kids by human rules that he is going to have to insist that the kids don't spend anytime together.  Larry Bird replies that he will just go out and buy Dick Butkus a punching bag. Jackie Joyner-Kersee says that their kids are confidant, smart and strong.

At the school, Max is struggling as the two kids from earlier are trying to dunk his head in the urinal. When Dick Butkus walks in they ask him to join in but he says, "if you must dunk a head in an excrement bowl, I insist it be mine. I'm quite good at it." Max calls to Dick for help and Dick claps his hands above his head revealing his true form.  The Weavers and the Zabvronians end up back in the principals office.

Larry Bird believes that this is a proud moment to be called into the office. The principal says that it's not a proud moment and introduces the Newmans and the Butlers who have now been inconvenienced.  She then holds up drawings of a green monster which Ricky and Adam drew. The kids insist that they were just in the bathroom when Dick Butkus came in and turned green. Debbie tries to intervene and says, "I think you mean green with envy."  Larry Bird insists that Dick was merely coming to the defense of his feeble friend but the principal reminds them that Dick Butkus punched Max earlier in the day. The principal says that she has no choice but to suspend Dick and she asks Debbie, "what kind of parents act like this and don't tell me their British." Jackie Joyner-Kersee realises that Dick is going to be punished for something they have done, but the principal suggests that maybe their school is not a good fit for Dick. Debbie asks the principal to hold on and says that Jackie and Larry are great parents, it's just that they're from another country and in trying to teach them how things work, some thing might have lost in translation.  She asks both Max and Dick to promise that another incident like this won't happen again.

Reggie Jackson screams in the hallway, "you broke my heart Abbie Weaver. I gave her my heart and all the while she is having trysts with television's Alan Alda."  Reggie Jackson says that he read about it in US Weekly.  The popular boy that Amber likes invites her out and Amber yells out, "stay away from me stalker."  Reggie is pleased and walks away saying, "step two, be cruel to your real friends in front of the popular kids."

The Weavers visit Jackie and Larry and give them an orchid as a peace offering. Debbie admits that "it's not often that you get to train your neighbours, we may have gotten a little carried away." Jackie Joyner-Kersee admits that they asked for their guidance and that they know how to raise their kids. Debbie says that the point is that they are there to help if they need help.  From the other room, Dick says that it's a beautiful moment.  He is hanging from a rope and says that it's the first day of his suspension.

When Amber leaves for school the next day, the Weavers ask her for an emotional love salute or to say something her love for them. Amber stares for awhile and then smiles.  Debbie is excited and points out that they can learn from each other.  Larry and Jackie enter holding shovels saying that they just grounded Reggie Jackson and want to know how he breathes. The Weavers go running.

The schtick that The Neighbors pull is getting old fast.  I am not impressed that the term outting was used in relation to the revelation that the Zabvronians are alies.  It was appropriation and not in the least bit amusing.  I am sick of the way that Amber's character has been constructed.  Because she is a teenage girl, she is nothing but a ball of angst and irritation.  The relationship between Debbie and Amber has been so stereotyped that it's boring. Thus far, I have been able to laugh a little at The Neighbors but the gimmick that is dependent upon is growing old fast and I am finding it a form of punishment to sit through 30 minutes of nonsense.