Meet The Dupes (1)

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And Starring Jo Polniaczek As The Diction Coach!

Right back at you, Demian.

Fade up on a shot of Man-NOT-an Island under the cover of darkness as The Thrashing Guitar of the Dispossessed Urban Alien rages on the soundtrack. Out of the Canal Street N-stop walk four silhouetted figures, the last of whom happens past a fruit stand connected to a Korean market, holds out a hand, and sends the contents of said stand tumbling out into the middle of a strangely deserted Lafayette Street. If that's its real name. As the wacky, comic minority foils (listed conveniently on the production slate for this episode as "Mr. Status" and "Mrs. Quo") dash madly to recover their overturned citrus-y goodness, we are afforded our first close-up of these renegades. It's Max (kinda), Michael (sorta), Isabel (ish), and Tess (will these madcap antics never cease?), each bedecked in sleeveless cut-off which-way-to-the-RATT-release-party leather, sporting hair which, to varying degrees, suggests that the dominant fashion aesthetic of their distant homeland is overturned-Aquanet-truck-meets-ill-timed-hurricane-with-a-dash-of-diehard-Indigo-Girls-fan. Am I implying that this pack of attempted urbanized aliens got lost on their journey from Hair and Make-up to "hip city kid" and took an inadvertent left at "lesbian chic, minus the chic"? No, I'm not implying that at all. I'm stating it as an absolute metaphysical certitude. Except for Bizarro Tess, who just looks like The Arquette Sister That Even 1-800-CALL-ATT Couldn't Find. And she's the luckier for it, if you want to know the truth.

After raiding the cash register and doing a fair bit of discount produce shopping in the process (at least this Michael seems to have been introduced to the concept of "the lo-cal menu," as opposed to the New Mexico version, who prefers his grapefruit with a side of grease-dripping slab of beef and a tall, refreshing glass of gravy), the Man-NOT-an Four happen around one of the many darkened street corners lovely downtown Urbania ('cause this ain't no New York I've ever seen) has to offer and into the path of two African-American youths (listed conveniently on the production slate for this episode as…oh, never mind). Mr. Status gives Isabel "Upper Breast Side" Evans a good lingering once-over, telling her "you look good" in that way that totally means, "Wow, I didn't even know Samantha Fox had a new album out, much less her own clothing label." Well, that's what I got out of it, anyway. Michael "Statue of Gliberty" Guerin tells Mr. Status to "give [him] the rock," by which he means a basketball, a term he must have ripped right out of his English/Nothing Anyone Has Ever Said in This World or Any Others You May Know Of translation dictionary, which is product-placed with reckless abandon throughout the course of this episode. Michael pities the fool who would dare throw him "a rock" and actually expect it back, and he swaggers away from poor Status and Quo, in the process affording them with the full might of the back of his physics-and-good-taste-defying mohawk/mullet hair-don't. Nice fake-out, Mr. T for the new millennium. Sweet Jesus McGillicuddy, he looks like an idiot. Perhaps "Mr. Tee Hee" is more like it.

Status and Quo call futilely after Mr. Tee Hee to get back their "rock." They finally give up, add their screen time with the lily-white WB (who have nearly bankrupted the budget for this show surreptitiously hiring extra personnel to make sure they don't steal anything from the set while capturing this unflinching portrait of gritty life in Urbania) to their résumés, and are escorted off the set forever. Walking past the shattered storefronts and flaming barrels that so typify the Non York City experience, Mr. Tee Hee does his best Pesci-in-Lethal-Weapon-minus-a-chromosome impersonation in telling the other three, "They contacted us again last night. Same invite. We gotta tell 'em sometin'." Max "The Harlem EarlobeTrotters" Evans responds, "Tell 'em no," and Isabel asks if that means they definitely won't be attending "the summit." Mr. Tee Hee believes that this plan is "messed up," and Tess "SoHo" Harding adds, "We tell 'em no they won't ask again." Mr. Tee Hee confronts Mad Max Beyond Blunderdome head-on and spars, "What is up witchoo, man? I'm tired uh yoo. I'll go by myself." Mad Max's accent is a slow, easy drawl (he must be from the south…part of the island), his speech perhaps inhibited by the caterpillar-esque goatee hanging from his lower lip and fairly begging for a quality-of-life citation signed and administered by Giuliani himself for crimes perpetrated against unhorrific fashion. Don't laugh at that until you've lived here. I'm just sayin', it's not completely out of the question. As well it shouldn't be. Anyway, Mad Max responds, "They don't want the Number Two. They want the Royal Four." Sorry, but the former is pretty much unavoidable, seeing as how awash this episode already is in number two, if you know what I mean. Mr. Tee Hee purses his lips (drink!) and insists that they "go and see what they gotta say, why don't we go and get the answers," refuting Mad Max's claims that this might be a "set-up." Mad Max pauses and stares back at Mr. Tee Hee, quietly intoning, "I'm the man. Don't forget." Isabel steps in and notes that "it's been a mad long day" (where is that translation dictionary? I can't understand a word!), adding that they all need to "just chill." Cue slo-mo walking. Mad Max looks self-adoringly ahead, while Isa-Hell and Mr. Tee Hee shoot some conspiracy-laden glances behind him. Tess Arquette looks stumped. How come she didn't get to be in Little Nicky?

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