Episode Two: A Tail in Twain (Part Two)

Oof.  So my plan for weekly updates went straight out the window. I would love to tell you it’s because I’ve been ever so busy at my cool new job, but that would be a lie. Funemployment continues, and at this point my cover letter is basically an acrostic poem reading “Hire me.” Not to worry, I already have made a fake resume in which I have an MBA, PhD, MD, and JD, two years experience in all of those fields, and recently returned from a stint in space.  But at this point I am sick of applications, rejections, and feeling sorry for myself, and so I return happily to this blog, with a newfound dedication to writing things that don’t make me want to scream.

What’s going on in Oakdale:

Evidently the writers realized that in the match up of mouthy dumb kid vs. man with shovel, there really was no winner. So instead of waiting to see what the man with shovel does, we instead cut to a shot of Wishbone running away. Joe – arms flailing, perhaps hoping his t-shirt will inflate and fly him to safety, is not far behind, followed by Sam, who is really wishing she could have taken just Wishbone for a walk, and David, who could have been on at least level eleven of his video game by now.

I finally figured out what's creepy about this guy. He has NO LIPS.
I finally figured out what’s creepy about this guy. He has NO LIPS.

Shockingly, the guy with a shovel sort of runs after them, stopping to shout, “You kids stay away from here!” It makes sense he didn’t keep running after them. This is the same guy who took a break after shoveling for approximately 17 seconds.

Back to the running kids—Wishbone shows his athletic prowess, taking the lead. I guess Wishbone doesn’t really consider himself a guard dog, though admittedly Joe is not really worth guarding. If anything, Wishbone should have tripped Joe to give himself more time to get away.  They stop at a tree to catch their breath. Wishbone seems genuinely worried about the ghost element of this situation, probably because the writers couldn’t clear a dog saying “Holy shit, that guy was going to murder us with a shovel!” past the PBS executives.

Sam, David, and Joe differ on what they should do next. David wants to forget about it, noting that he doesn’t want someone like that mad at him. I’m not one hundred percent sure what he means by this. Was he hoping to become friends with the grave robber? Maybe David really is selling organs on the black market. Sam thinks they should report this guy, and I can’t say I disagree with her, if only because this town appears to be populated by about 17 people, so the Oakdale police must be eager for something to do. Though given the news these days, the cops may just arrest David and call it a day.  Joe thinks they should sleep on it and wait until morning, because Joe clearly doesn’t watch nearly as many true crime shows as my boyfriend, otherwise he would know that the first 48 hours are critical in catching any criminal. Unfortunately, as Joe is the entitled white male of the group, they go with his idea, because it’s important for children to learn about the subtle inequality of our modern society.

Joe attempts to bat away the flashlight beam with his hand because that's how light works.
Joe attempts to bat away the flashlight beam with his hand because that’s how light works.

Apparently the lighting guys forgot that it should be nighttime at this point, because I swear it went from 3:00pm lighting to 8:00pm lighting in less than 20 seconds, which cues Ellen calling out for Joe, telling the kids that their parents are all looking for them because they were supposed to be home at the precise hour of before dark o’ clock.  Ellen doesn’t seem all that angry at Joe, so she must be somewhat disappointed that she found him so quickly.

Everybody poops, Joe.  Everybody poops.
Everybody poops, Joe. Everybody poops.

We cut to Joe gazing outside his window, desperately attempting to act what I am guessing the script described as “pensive” but comes off more as “mildly gassy.”  Ellen comes in and asks Joe if he found the adventure he wanted, and Joe tells her everything, managing to throw Wishbone under the bus in the process, saying it was Wishbone’s fault that the guy saw them.  Ellen is skeptical, but tells Joe they’ll go back in the light of day and check it out.  She says that they’ll even get Wanda to go.  Because apparently Wanda is formerly black ops?  Or she can annoy criminals to death?

Sam and Joe called each other before meeting up to coordinate their outfits. They decided to celebrate Enormous Stripey Shirt Saturday.
Sam and Joe called each other before meeting up to coordinate their outfits. They decided to celebrate Enormous Stripey Shirt Saturday.
Clearly the historical society doesn't require their employees to have a  Masters of Library Science.
Clearly the historical society doesn’t require their employees to have a Masters of Library Science.

Anyhow, cut to the next day, where Wanda, who works or volunteers at the Oakdale Historical Society tells the gang about how there are no records for the No-Name Grave, only rumors.  She has a bunch of documents and newspaper clippings out which she probably stole from the historical society, and they don’t even seem to be in acid free folders. And they just LEAVE the files on the table, not giving a shit about the temperature and humidity conditions of a kitchen table, showing that Wanda should be fired from the Historical Society IMMEDIATELY.  Either that or this Historical Society is just some bullshit cover up for her black ops work. (Can you tell I’m a trained librarian/ archivist?) After this devastating demonstration of how NOT to store historical documents, the gang leaves to collect David and go back to the No-Name Grave.

My my ladies, you may just have to lie down for the rest of the day after all of this EXCITEMENT. You'll be talking about this adventure for the rest of the month in the safety of your kitchens over ice tea and carrot sticks.
My my ladies, you may just have to lie down for the rest of the day after all of this EXCITEMENT. You’ll be talking about this adventure for the rest of the month in the safety of your kitchens over ice tea and carrot sticks.

What follows is a mildly age-ist scene of Wanda and Ellen having to swing across the river on a rope swing and proceeding to act as though it is the equivalent of base jumping off a skyscraper.  Two women in their FORTIES swinging on a rope??? Think of their brittle, brittle, bones!

So he DOES know how to use a shovel.
So he DOES know how to use a shovel.

After successfully not dying on the rope swing, the group finds the No-Name Grave, which has ACTUALLY been dug up this time.  There is a real hole and everything.

David decided not to partake in Stripey Shirt Saturday, instead opting for a vest with lots of pockets to carry back any leftover organs.
David decided not to partake in Stripey Shirt Saturday, instead opting for a vest with lots of pockets to carry back any leftover organs.

All of a sudden they hear…a violin?  The alleged grave robber emerges, violin in hand, and tells them, yet again, to go away.  At the very least this guy is guilty of horrible manners.  Ellen demands an explanation, prompting the man to say he’s “come back for what’s mine.”  “I believe you mean OURS,” says David, further implying his shady black market dealings.  No no, David doesn’t say that.  What does follow, however, is a conversation that is INCREDIBLY misleading:

“What are you talking about?” Asks Wanda.

“The things in the grave, I’ve come back for them, that’s all.” Says the violin man.  Wait, so you ARE digging up a dead body? Why are you being all defensive, then? Also, can one really OWN a body? This is getting ethically questionable.

“There’s a person buried here!” Says Joe, perfectly defining the noun “grave.”  Two points to Joe for knowing what a grave is.  Negative 10 points for stating the obvious.

“No it’s not like that. The coffin wasn’t for a person.” Says the violin man.  Isn’t a coffin by definition for a person? Do you mean box?  I think you mean box. I think you also need a dictionary.

I'm really supposed to believe that all of these things are that well preserved after being buried for years in a wooden slat box? Come on, props department, show me some accurate aging.
I’m really supposed to believe that all of these things are that well preserved after being buried for years in a wooden slat box? Come on, props department, show me some accurate aging.

Violin man continues to be creepily vague until he shows them what he’s dug up, which turn out to be a box of keepsakes belonging to his ancestors, who buried their valuables (and made it look like a grave so no one would disturb it) before leaving Oakdale as an “act of faith,” so that they would one day be bound to return to Oakdale.  Which they obviously did not do.  So God is dead.

I loves my fiddle.  Loves my fiddle.
“I loves my fiddle. Loves my fiddle.”

Just kidding.  Since he’s their descendent, faith is restored. Or something. Either way, dude is super jazzed to get his hands on that violin — maybe he was all Codgy McGrumpster because the group interrupted a private moment between him and his beloved fiddle? (Is there a difference between a fiddle and a violin? Am I making musicians cringe just by asking this?) Speaking of grumpy, the group seems to have completely set aside the fact that this guy has been a grade A dick to them, and instead just invite him to a picnic. I would have invited him to “suck it” and called parks services on this jackass for disturbing the area.  Because I may not always trust the police, but I DO trust the nature police.

Looks like there's a love triangle forming between Wanda, Mr. Laszlo, and the fiddle.
Looks like there’s a love triangle forming between Wanda, Mr. Laszlo, and the fiddle.

The neighborhood picnic is hopping, and makes me think of how I’m not even sure of what my neighbors look like. Wishbone enjoys begging for food, and everyone happily indulges him, probably sending him down the dangerous path to doggy diabetes (it HAPPENS, people). Wanda fans herself while gazing at violin man (Mr. Laszlo) playing his fiddle, looking like she plans to play HIS fiddle later, if you know what I’m saying.

Ellen scrapped her earlier speech about Joe, after realizing that if SHE doesn't want to hear about Joe, the whole neighborhood probably doesn't, either.
Ellen scrapped her earlier speech about Joe, after realizing that talking about your biggest regret in life isn’t appropriate for a picnic setting.

Eventually, Ellen stands to give her speech, and talks about the importance of stories — how they bring us all to the same place.  Evidently Ellen wasn’t an English major in college, because I learned that most stories bring people to pretentiously speculate on meaning and devolve into petty arguments with at least one person mentioning Foucault or Derrida.  But she ends with a quote from Mark Twain, so we’ve come full circle.  Wishbone ends with a little flippy flip, and we’ve come to the end of the pilot episode of Wishbone!

What a cutie.
What a cutie.

What’s going on in St. Petersburg, Missouri:

Seriously, Wishbone's acting skills are on point. He even stares intently through a peep hole on command.
Seriously, Wishbone’s acting skills are on point. He even stares intently through a peep hole on command.

A quick summary: Tom Sawyer is still concerned that “Crazy Joe” would come back for revenge, and decides to distract himself. He finds Huck and they plot to find buried treasure in a haunted house.  They travel to said haunted house, but as they are exploring, they hear noises — “Crazy Joe” is back! He’s looking to bury treasure, but instead finds another box, also full of treasure! He and his crony decide to bury the treasure elsewhere, seeing Huck and Tom’s tools and speculating that others may have been to the house, and “Crazy Joe” mentions how he wants revenge — probably on Tom and Huck. Tom seems to have forgotten about the whole revenge thing, as he plans to follow “Crazy Joe” and find the treasure — after Becky Thatcher’s picnic.  During the picnic, Becky and Tom get lost in a cave, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s also “Crazy Joe’s” hideout.  After running from “Crazy Joe” and successfully finding their way out, Judge Thatcher tells Tom that “Crazy Joe” was found dead in the cave, and Huck and Tom recover the treasure, and are now rich. At a party, Huck gets a caretaker, only to run away.  Tom finds him, and the two walk off together, as Wishbone narrates that their adventures continue in  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

What works:

— Wishbone’s costumes.  This may always be under the category of “what works.” Because that dog can pull off any outfit.

— Again, this is  a fairly good abridged version of Tom Sawyer.

— Starting the series out with Mark Twain is a wise choice, as it shows that they aren’t scared of going into some pretty classic literature. It shows that such books are worth diving into, and even complex books can be explained to younger audiences. (Though tackling Huck Finn, with its slavery and domestic abuse, may be a tad TOO complex to go into in 12 minutes.)

What doesn’t:

— In the book, “Crazy Joe” (AKA “Injun Joe” in the books) disguises himself as a deaf-mute Spaniard, which is casually implied in the episode by offensively dressing “Crazy Joe” in a poncho and sombrero. Oof.  As they don’t make any real mention of his disguise, it seems like they could have just given him literally any other type of disguise. Though accuracy is important, we are buying into the premise that a dog is portraying Tom Sawyer, so I’m pretty sure the audience will forgive you for using a simple wig instead of a poncho.

— Only quickly addressing “Crazy Joe’s” death was also weird.  It seems odd not to just add in another sentence that the cave was sealed over, trapping Joe inside. It’s sort of weird that they essentially stuck in, “Oh, PS, Joe is dead, let’s party!”

— They skip over how long Becky and Tom were in the cave (days, not hours), so it makes Becky seem like a real whiner.  Then again, I don’t really know if a trainer could really make a dog convey that he’s slowly dying of dehydration without taking the show in a deeply disturbing direction, so it’s probably for the best.

I feel like I’m officially over a hurdle having tackled the two-parter pilot, so I will try to make these entries more regular for all my devoted followers (aka my mom). Next time, Wishbone brings Oliver Twist to life!

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