Into The Woods

Episode Report Card
Djb: D | Grade It Now!
Earnest Goes to Campy

Fade in on Roswell at night, an outdoor shot of trees, sky, and a whole lotta lightning. Clearly something serious is going down tonight. And speaking of going down tonight (gee, never used that one before), we pan down to an idle car overlooking some conveniently-placed cliff, and I quickly surmise that we are in the presence of the teen-sanctioned make-out point which exists in every fictional town in cliché-plot-device history but which never manifests itself in real towns like, say, mine. And they're always called "Lover's Leap" or "Romance Cove," though I'm sure if this one had a name it would be a cheesy, alien-themed one that just can't put aside the whole Roswell mythology thing for one second, like, say, "Lift Off Point." Ooh, and it's a phallic joke, too! Anyway, the shot zeros in on a pick-up truck, in which a couple of Roswell teens get down and jiggy in the back. But what's this? A flash of light forces them to stop in their tracks and look, frozen and open-mouthed, directly into the camera. Hi, guys. Relax, it's just lightning. Oh, and the guy's kind of creepy-looking and old enough to be the girl's father. That fact is probably a better reason to stop whatever it is I should not have just caught them doing.

Cut to the Crashdown, where Liz "Parker? I didn't even know 'er" fishes some pills out of a plastic baggie. Twenty-five seconds have passed without dialogue. And it's not that I'm just itching to rejoin the cast in its mad dash to bore me to stultified tears again this week, but you do have to admit it's quiet. Too quiet, in fact. Liz: "I hate the start of a cold . . ." And thus begins the lifeless, tedious hum that pervades all life experience, an uninterrupted drone known only to beekeepers, ham-radio enthusiasts, and viewers of this show forced to listen to the latest entry into The Good Book. The voice-over accompanies Liz going through the awe-inspiring and not-at-all-pedestrian ritual, one which the director of this episode clearly thinks none of us has ever seen before, of taking some pills and washing them down with some Poland Spring (they put water in a bottle now? Man, what will they think of next, a stove-top device that boils it? How about some frozen, cube-like receptacle designed to keep it cold?). The journal entry continues, and it is entirely about Liz's impending bout with the sniffles. Yeah, that kind of thing always makes me grab a pen and run for the nearest site of private contemplation. Maria "I'm Not a Lesbian, But I'm About to Play One on TV" DeLuca finally bursts in to break up the monotony a bit, announcing upon entry, "Insert cheesy cliché concerning self-empowerment here." Actually, she does it for us, practically acting her way off the set in an unrealized attempt to imbue the words "today is the first day of the rest of our lives" with any emotional heft. She launches into a monologue about the men in their lives and how much boys generally suck and how they have to start to explore new possibilities. To illustrate her liberated point, she begins to unbutton the front of her uniform and advance on Liz, who, like, freaks out. But relax, oh-ye-of-exaggerated-sexual-draw. Maria's disrobing serves the purpose of showing off her new belly-button ring. This moment is so unnatural and tacked-on that I cringe to think of the post-first-draft meeting at WB Interpol, where some network suit chastises the writer for his severely laborious script and constructively suggests, "The opening seg needs some more visual pop. Maybe you should try a sight gag or something. Lemme suggest you try something with lesbians. You can't miss with lesbians." After it has been made clear that Maria is talking about her new physical accouterment and not a desire to accompany Liz to Lift Off Point at some undisclosed future time, Maria offers the self-congratulatory "ta-da" and informs Liz that "we are turning over a new leaf!" Memo to the set dresser: no more big bowls of fortune cookies in the WB break room, okay? Okay. Liz expresses some interest in Maria's new ideologies, but informs her that "skewering my navel is not exactly my idea of fun." At which point Maria removes the ring from her navel and demonstrates it to be fake. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Liz takes it and sneezes, and as they make their way into the kitchen, Maria asks Liz if she's still taking the echinacea Maria gave her. She makes her way into the dining room, now wearing what was once Maria's navel ring. But instead, Liz has decided to put it in her nose. I view the transfer of said ring from Maria's linty navel to Liz's snotty nose, and I reflect for a moment on which locale I would like less to inhabit if I were a very small man in search of a home. Probably I'd avoid the nose, primarily on the basis of the gales which would threaten to propel me forever out of my lodgings with each of Liz's deep, soulful sighs. Then again, who the hell knows where that navel's been, really? Liz walks past her father, who requests some help with a large tray of dishes. We've seen him before. I'd recognize that vacant look of sheer dimness anywhere. This, to my recollection, is why we here at Mighty Big TV dubbed him "Slackjaw" to begin with. He turns to see the nose ring and registers a vague change of expression mild enough to convey, "I'm very, very slow. I'm aware of something bad, but make no mistake about it, I'm very slow." Liz tells him it's fake. Apparently already briefed on the incredibly brief shelf-life of parents on this show, Slackjaw wastes no time staking his claim on a Big Moment with Liz: "You've been so busy with school and new friends. We don't even get a chance to talk." Slackjaw, you're so slow. But don't worry, he reassures her, they can make up for it this weekend at some camping thing that I don't fully understand. Liz says her friends aren't really going, and everyone she knows has sort of "outgrown it." Yes, Liz. I know a thing or two about that. Like, say, the thirty years I have aged during this heinously long introduction. And I know it can't be over yet, because no highly dramatic event has yet ensued which can rationalize the glum-like glumness of the opening credits. At which point Bania the Curator bursts into the Crashdown looking for Max. "I thought he worked for you, dude," Maria sasses, almost as good a retort as one can expect under the circumstances. No one's seen him. So instead of tracking down his trusted confidante and the only other person willing to degrade himself in a blazer the color of which has been resolutely out since, well, clothes were invented, he entrusts his shocking discovery instead to anyone within earshot of the set: there's been a sighting. Liz: Guilty stare. Maria: Guilty stare. Slackjaw: A-yuh?

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