Open scene! We're greeted with a new-agey shot of some trees and a lake and some gentle Enya-ish spa music that always makes me have to pee the second I get on the massage table. What the hell is this. I feel high.
And I have to pee.
When suddenly — CRASH BAM SMASH birds scatter, deer flee, trees fall helplessly, razed in the wake of some unfeeling machinery. It must be the evil developers come to destroy this peaceful nature reserve!
...Oh, no, it's the baby-sitters on a picnic, moving through the landscape with all the natural grace and dulcet tones of a group of industrial wood chippers.
Although only Kristy is dressed like an actual lumberjack.
Not content to act like noisy, destructive assholes only in stores, the sitters and the dozen or so children they have along for no particular reason are screaming so loudly that small mammals are dropping from the trees. It's actually drowning out the theme song, which fades out right in the middle, probably because the sound mixers simply gave up. ("Just stop. They don't make subwoofers capable of drowning out Kristy Thomas.")
Over at the lake, Dawn points out tadpoles for some little boy who might be Jamie or Andrew or perhaps Squirt, for all the casting director seems to know about the series. You know, since this show seems to think that every sitting charge is named Emma, I'll just make the same assumption. "Look," Dawn says. "Where?" Emma says in a soft little four-year-old voice. "Shhh!" Dawn admonishes. "We don't want to scare them!" They heard you guys coming in Vermont, Dawn. Emma asks if he can catch one and Dawn, the environmentalist, mind, says yes. She rides her high horse about ecology but thinks it's okay to grab wild animals out of their natural habitat. Great.
Emma puts his catch in a jar and Dawn says "THEY'RE TADPOOOLES" in this weirdly creepy inflection while looking right into the camera. What.
If I ever go insane and see one thing on loop in my brain for eternity, it will probably be this image.
She says they're going to be frogs when they grow up and Emma says he's going to be a chef when he grows up. "I know what you're going to cook," Dawn says, then they say really slowly in unison, "Peanut butter and honey sandwiches." Who in the hell wrote this script? It sounds like it went through Babelfish and back again a few times, then the cast got drunk on Nyquil and performed it.
Elsewhere, Kristy, Jessi, and Claudia, along with Becca and Charlotte, are tying a bunch of peanuts to trees with string and boasting about how awesome they are for leaving treats for the birds. That doesn't seem environmentally friendly either. Scattering peanuts on the ground to be picked up, sure, but this way it seems like either the string gets eaten, which is not good for the animals, or it doesn't, in which case they're just, you know, littering. I'm going to have to start a running tally of how many ecologically shitty things they do in this video while claiming to save the environment, aren't I.
Anyway, all that talking about bird snacks is making Claudia hungry. They're like "WTF we just ate" and she's like "Come on, just one little peanut string." I'm not clear on why the show decided to take her love of junk food from the books and turn her into Chunk from The Goonies, because there is yet to be an episode in which Claudia isn't eating or whining about eating at all times.
As soon as their backs were turned she took a bite out of a squirrel.
And finally, continuing their clandestine love affair where only the trees can see them, Mary Anne and Stacey lie on a picnic blanket together, talking in dreamy après-sex voices.
This is seriously the most homoerotic thing I have ever witnessed.
Emma interrupts their postcoital bliss by alerting them all to a injured baby bird he found, although the bird shown in close up appears neither injured nor a baby and in fact might be a still from Audubon Magazine.
They coo over how he's hurt and lost and Dawn tries to explain that it's better not to interfere, but Emma — oh, he's Jamie, Kristy finally said — turns the pouty-lipped guilt up to a billion about how the poor birdy's mommy just left him to die. I'm torn between agreeing with the fundamental maxim that nature needs to take its course and the knowledge that if I were actually there, with the sad cheeping and my kid welling up wanting to help it, I'd be breaking the sound barrier getting that damn bird to the nearest vet.
Okay, FINE, there wouldn't even have to be a kid. LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FEETS.
Dawn finally agrees to call the Parks Department and Charlotte's like, "My mom's a doctor! I bet she knows their number!" Uh, okay. They keep trying to hammer this "Charlotte is smart for her age" thing home and yet nothing she says quite backs that up.
They gather up and start to head out when they spy some surveyors. "Who's he?" Dawn snaps suspiciously, as if it isn't a public place where everyone has a right to be. "Looks like a park official to me," Kristy says. The face Dawn makes in response to this is truly amazing.
Well HURR DE HURR, butter my ass.
They're all "WHAT can they POSSIBLY be doing?" and Dawn exasperatedly says, "I'll find out," like the guy double-parked them or something. Or you could accept that sometimes people are working and it's not your problem why.
Dawn goes and talks to the surveyor for about five seconds while the camera watches from afar, then stomps back like a cranky baby who's just learned to walk.
Huffy fists, big uneven steps, wearing baggy overalls, stumbling like a drunk. Just like a baby. Or my Uncle Jim.
"Something's definitely wrong," Kristy says helpfully, in case Dawn's fist-waving and the suddenly dramatic music didn't clue us in. Thank you, Kristy. "THEY are going to build a ROAD through here!" Dawn shouts. "They can't do that!" Jessi exclaims. Uh...what? "They can't do that"? What does that even MEAN? Quite obviously they CAN, or they wouldn't be doing it. And it has to have been discussed and voted on before the project can move forward, so do you really think you're the first person to go, "Oh no! What about the birds"? Maybe it was considered but the boost to the economy or ease in traffic congestion was considered more important? Maybe some poor kid was excited that his dad was finally going to get a job constructing this new road and you're about to crap on that? They're just so damn ignorant.
Claudia's room! We don't even get an establishing shot, Dawn's so mad. "How can they just decide to build a road and ruin all those beautiful trees?" Right, they just woke up one morning and DECIDED to wreck the environment solely to spite you and the animals. They aren't filling a societal need or anything. God, shut UP, Dawn. This "developers are evil and want to screw you over, while thirteen-year-olds automatically know what's best for the whole community" plot is so stupid, I can't even.
Mrs. Newton calls for a sitter, and I can't help but notice that Mal and Jessi look and sound a lot older all of the sudden. I'm confused, because Wikipedia says this aired in 1990 like the other episodes, IMDb says it was made in 1993, and the credits say © 1992. They do look a couple of years older, but why anyone would resurrect this show just to make this one piece of shit episode is baffling.
The new season ended abruptly when Kristy had them assassinated for aging.
Once off the phone, Mal reports that Jamie is obsessed with their "special place." I feel like Mrs. Newton should be asking some more follow-up questions about that. Dawn merely huffs that "it is a special place…and we're not going to let them spoil it!" They ask what she's going to do about it. "That guy said he was from the Department of Public Works, right?...Well, we're the public!" she says with this total duh tone. The fact that she doesn't know what the Department of Public Works actually is or does is the perfect example of why they need to shut up about this. She insists that they have a right to say what happens to public land, which they don't, because they're children. Sorry, but children don't get to vote for a reason. Because they're generally uninformed and not capable of good rational decision-making yet. Claudia says they won't listen to a bunch of kids and Dawn say they "have as much right as adults" to say what they think. "That doesn't mean they'll listen," Stacey says. Ding ding ding! Nor should they, BECAUSE THEY ARE CHILDREN. Dawn insists that she'll "make them listen." Generally speaking, the louder a child screams about something, the more they're being ridiculous and probably need a nap. Take a nap, Dawn. Go on, lie down before I hit you with a skillet.
Next scene, outside some building with a hasty "Stoneybrook Town Hall" sign stuck on it. The sitters come out bitching about how they don't have time to read the giant armload of paperwork Dawn is toting regarding the road construction project. Dawn insists they don't have to read it; the city only gave them the paperwork to "stall" them. Right. It's not like the paperwork might actually PERTAIN to the project or contain all the reasons this road is a good idea or detail plans to plant new trees or anything like that. Once Dawn gets an idea, she certainly isn't going to listen to any pesky facts she doesn't want to hear.
And then she flings the whole lot into the trash can as they go by, rather than recycling it or returning it to them. So she has actually wasted a ream of paper in her quest to save the trees. Is...is this episode supposed to be ironic?
She decides they need to assemble an angry mob if they want to have any chance of succeeding at this thing. I think an angry mob needs to assemble about Kristy's skintight leggings/fanny pack combo.
This should be a felony.
Oh, hey look, there's Logan and some friend who prompts an interested "WHO is THAT?" from Dawn. I guess she's moved on from actual attractive guys to awkward looking dudes with grown-out mullets. I love Zach Braff, but adolescence was not a good time for him.
You can actually see his nervous boner.
Logan introduces his friend without the slightest trace of a Southern accent (thank god) to Dawn and Dawn alone, even though there are six other people standing there. JD, Dawn. Dawn, JD. Uh...okay. That's awkward. They stare at each other, hormones pulsing, until Claudia ruins the moment by whining that she needs something to eat, nooooow. Good GOD, Claudia.
As soon as their backs were turned she took a bite out Mary Anne.
Next scene! Back at Dawn's house, the slave labor camp has begun as the children are forced to make signs with meaningless platitudes like "Trees are our friends." Jackie actually throws down a pair of scissors and groans, "My fingers are so tired" and Claudia shoves them back in his hand and says, "Keep cutting!" Wow, that sure is healthy. There's also some subtle racism in this scene, as Becca looks right at a poster and says "What does it say?" as if she can't read. Nice.
Instead of spending some time on her sister's literacy problem, Jessi has them take a break for Mother May I instead. They play for a whopping thirty seconds and don't even get to finish before Dawn is like "Whatever, back to work." It's always fun, taking a refreshing break from work for a game in which you get to take one turn and then stop playing. I think this was a directorial decision just to showcase Jackie's bitchin mullet.
It puts JD's to shame.
Dawn tries to force Jackie into a tree costume that's clearly too small for him despite his wails of protestation until Kristy and Mary Anne come running up the drive. Dawn's all "Where the FUCK have you been?!" and they're like, "Uh, mumble Logan and Bart mumble orgy hrmmm." Dawn cannot be-LIEVE they would think about sex at a time like this. "Then I guess you don't want to come," Kristy says slyly. Dawn shuts up, suddenly interested.
Tell me, will there be donkeys there?
No, but JD was there and he asked for her personally! She's like, "Move this orgy to my place so I can make them work on my posters and we'll make this thing happen. Also see about donkey rentals."
Up in her bedroom, Dawn tries on earrings, and she actually looks really pretty and mature with her hair up in a bun. Or maybe that's just in contrast to how amazingly shitty Kristy and Mary Anne look next to her, because Kristy's hair looks like that time she tried to curl it sopping wet and Mary Anne is wearing a size XXL dress from Mennonite Miss.
Even the donkey is showing them up.
Mary Anne and Kristy try to tell her how smart, funny, and athletic JD is, which for some reason Dawn dismisses with much eye rolling. "Dawn doesn't care whether they're smart or talented, just as long as they're sooooo cuuuute!" Mary Anne says. Ha, stealth bitch Mary Anne totally just called you out for being shallow. Dawn's response face to this is also amazing.
Did Melissa Chasse take some acting classes during the hiatus? Because bravo.
They also take a jab at the fact that Dawn's become a complete psycho over this whole environment issue. Even if she's uninformed and misguided, at least she's becoming a psycho over something marginally important, Krystal. When Dawn takes offense, Mary Anne hastily changes the subject and tells Dawn to take her hair down. What the hell, Mary Anne! It looks good for once! Dawn yanks her bun out just as the doorbell rings and they're like, "What did you do that for?" and she's like "WHAT THE FUCK YOU JUST TOLD ME TO NOW I LOOK LIKE SHIT." They go downstairs, leaving her frantically trying to fix the janked up knot that is her weave. Don't worry about it, Dawn; look at who you're going with — Kentucky Tight Pants, Goody Spier, The Fanny Pack Kid, and The Amazing Hair Ledge.
The donkey is going to spot this crowd, make up an excuse, and leave.
Kristy mumbles something about needing to meet Bart—to cover up why they didn't cast anyone to play him, of course — so Mary Anne asks Kristy to go get Dawn. Kristy's idea of going to get Dawn is to turn around and scream up the stairs for Dawn to hurry the fuck up already. So classy AND good with instructions, our Kristy. While she yells, JD reads one of Dawn's Save the Trees fliers. He's like, "the hell is this?" when she comes downstairs. I think the better question is, "the hell is that on the back of your head?"
I think the barber misunderstood what you meant by a duck's ass.
She explains about the park and he's like, "Yeah, I know the park. I've been there with the surveyors." She and the music both react as if he said "I've been there with Hitler. We wore dead babies as hats and smoked the ashes of Abraham Lincoln. It was awesome." He says the park is great and the road will allow a lot more people to enjoy it. "You think the road is a good thing?" Dawn snaps. Um, yes, and he just gave you a perfectly compelling reason why. "Well, yeah," he says. "The way it is now, nobody gets to use the pond." THANK YOU, JD. A perfectly useful and logical reason for a road that, if Dawn had, say, read the information she was given, she would have known. "Nobody?" Dawn counters. He stammers around a bit, so I'll answer for him — nobody who isn't able-bodied enough to go hiking through the wilderness, DAWN. Way to think.
She wants to know how he knows so much about this, but then answers for him for some reason — his mom is commissioner of the department of public works. Everything about this script is just so bizarre.
The others are like, "This is really awkward, can we leave," but Dawn's high horse is a-trampling. She doesn't care about them anymore; she only cares about the animals "who won't have anywhere else to go"! Uh, they're building a road through the park so that more people can enjoy the park. Meaning that they are going to intentionally take down as few trees as possible and probably plant more to make sure it's scenic, because duh, has she ever driven through a park? Satisfied of her immense rightness, she turns and stomps up the stairs of her huge farmhouse, which I guess she believes was built in a vacuum of anti-space that takes up no room that was once part of nature, otherwise this would be terribly hypocritical, wouldn't it?
The Fuhrer of Irony, right, gesticulates wildly at her posters made of paper while leaning on a banister made of wood.
Next scene! The "demonstration" is underway, if by demonstration you mean about five picketing elementary schoolers. Well, I know I'd be swayed by that. Their signs say things like "If you care please honk your horn," so that means they want support from people who drive cars? You know, the cars that need roads to drive on? Did Dawn eat a can of tainted bean dip that gradually took over her brain?
They actually do get plenty of honking horns and waving, probably from the kids' parents driving by, except for one guy who drives by and GIVES THEM THE FINGER. WHAT.
Hey kids, look, a deer!
This has pretty much made my whole life. I don't even care what else happens in this episode. Or on earth. Bulldoze the goddamn rainforest, I don't give a fuck. And neither does that guy.
(Yes, my husband and I have already had a prolonged argument about whether that's a bird-flip or a blurry, crooked thumbs up. I maintain it's a bird-flip. Keep the dream alive for me, guys, all right? I have nothing going in my life.)
For some reason a news crew shows up to cover a bunch of children with uninformed political opinions, because Stoneybrook has no actual news to cover. Kristy tries to plug the BSC, but the reporter totally interrupts her to say, "Whatever. Could you tell me why you are doing this?" Haha, shut down. "To save this park!" Dawn says proudly. The reporter asks her somewhat incredulously if she's aware that the road is being built so more people can enjoy the park. "Does it have to be at the expense of the trees?" Dawn wails, as if they're paving newborn kittens into the road.
"All we're saying," Kristy interrupts Dawn, "is that it isn't fair for grown-ups to tell kids to recycle cans and bottles; to take showers instead of baths; not to waste or litter; and THEN go and cut down a bunch of trees!" As if trees are a renewable resource that you can just go and replant! What utter nonsense!
Dawn starts reciting some more trite blah about they just care about the environment, then her speech segues into her reading her quotes out of the paper at Claudia's house. This seems like it could have been competently done, but it, you know, wasn't.
"This picture looks great!" Claudia exclaims. If by "great" she means "a perfectly good picture of Dawn and Mary Anne."
Pictured right and left, surrounding Donkey, center.
They're all "Hurr, let's read it a few more times!" but Dawn thinks they don't have time — they have too much shit to get done before the hearing! They tell her to chill the fuck out and Dawn's all, "Sometimes I think I'm the only one who cares about this!" They're like, "Is it painful up there on your cross, Dawn?" Kristy takes the opportunity to tell her she was pretty rude to JD, by the way. Guuuuurl, when Kristy Thomas tells you that you were rude to somebody, your life, your choices, etc.
She once punched out a waitress at Johnny Rockets for running out of ketchup.
"He's on the other side...his mother's the commissioner!" Dawn insists. Even Mary Anne is like, "That is some straight up stupid bullshit and you know it." Kristy ominously says that "he may know more than you think." "I don't care what he knows!" Dawn insists. I'm depressed that she's so committed to ignorance.
The other sitters are actually like, "Fine, bitch. Peace out."
Time for the town hall meeting! The chairwoman stresses that they have spent "many months" working out the best use of this land, but I'm sure the two seconds Dawn spent making up her mind about her side of the issue is just as good. And to prove it, she steps up to the mic as soon as the floor is open and, without so much as introducing herself, announces, "I'm totally against this plan." "Scuse me?" the chairwoman says, because this is incredibly awkward. She mildly asks for Dawn's name and affiliation, even though I'd be asking her to sit down and let a registered adult speak.
Dawn starts whining about how she doesn't want the area destroyed and they're like, "Uh, neither do we. That would be why we are not destroying it."
Has your brain been eaten away by tainted bean dip?
Dawn's like, "But you're destroying TWELVE TREES!" ...What. Twelve trees. She's throwing a fit over twelve trees. My house sits on a tenth of an acre and I have twelve trees, which I hate so much that I tied a golf club to my least favorite one in the hope that it would be struck by lightning so homeowners insurance would pay to have its smoking carcass removed. I also ran over one with a lawnmower — true story, the scrawny, twiggy one by the driveway is always grabbing my hair, so I banged into it with the mower over the summer out of spite, and it gave a little, and I just kept running until I ground it into mulch. AND THEN IT GREW BACK. You can't kill twelve goddamn trees even when you're trying.
She wahhs on and on about her twelve trees while out in the audience, JD makes faces and shifts around in his seat like he jizzed his pants or has a particularly irritating hemorrhoid. I truly can't figure out if he's excited because he agrees with her or excited that she's making a total ass out of herself.
Either way, he is so turned on right now.
In the best unintentional arson, murder, and jaywalking example I have ever heard, Dawn winds up her big speech with "acid rain, global warming, and building a road?! It just isn't right!" How the place didn't just come apart and start pelting her with vegetables, I do not know.
"I enjoy your passion, Ms. Schafer," the chairwoman says, sounding like she'd like to tie a golf club to Dawn during a heavy storm. She tightly reminds her, however, that this will allow more people to enjoy the park. "More people?" Dawn snaps. "To make more pollution and garbage?"
"Excuse me, if you had studied this particular proposal, which I don't think you have, you would see that it includes facilities for garbage and sanitation which will minimize pollution," the chairwoman says coldly. "Also the access road is specifically designed to be accessible to the elderly and handicapped." OH SNAAAAAP.
Out in the audience, JD became so aroused he had to be resuscitated.
Dawn makes vague whining noises that are about as effective as if she just admitted to having a sexual relationship with the trees, and the chairwoman finally cuts her off with, "Thank you for your comments," obviously meaning "Fuck you for your comments." Then she's like, "Okay, whatever, let's vote now. Everybody who wants a road raise their hand." I was seriously concerned for a minute that they meant everyone who happened to be at city hall at the moment, but thank god it's just the board members. Unanimous! Road it is! The music tells us we're supposed to be sad about this — yes, how sad the elderly and handicapped are now afforded access to park facilities. What assholes.
Dawn sulks outside about how they were right, nobody would listen to her. Mary Anne is like, "You know...you didn't listen to a damn thing they said or offer anything constructive. Maybe nobody listened because you were acting like a dick." I enjoy that whoever wrote this made both Kristy and Mary Anne completely out of character just to make sure they got all the lines. They think Dawn should nicely suggest something else as a compromise...but what? Hmm...if there were only some way to REPLACE those twelve trees...well, she might as well talk to JD about it!
Next scene: Dawn folds origami at the library while waiting for JD. So...she's...wasting paper. Again. This level of irony has to be on purpose.
Dawn and Dawn alone can hear their pitiful cries.
JD shows up and Dawn apologizes for being a hosebeast, but JD says not to apologize — he's sorry she lost her fight. Why? Seriously, why? She was making no goddamn sense. She says she did some research and has an idea — see, they can make a dirt path that winds through the trees! Which is surely not vehicle safe, or a TRAINED CIVIL ENGINEER would have come up with that idea first, so it doesn't exactly solve the problem of people who can't traverse a trail, even a smooth one. She also says it needs to be "at least 48 inches wide," which is not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, walker, stroller, wagon, or larger than average person; nor would many of those vehicles be capable of safely maneuvering a bumpy, twisty, narrow trail even if it were exactly big enough to fit them. Everything about this plan is idiotic.
Also, her map of the park is actually a diagram of a Dutch copy machine.
JD thinks it's an awesome plan, though, because he can't conceal his raging boner for her.
Next scene! The sitters wait in the middle of a giant open field, discussing how sad it would be to lose the...nonexistent trees in this...giant open field. Okay, who's been snacking on Dawn's bean dip brain. JD and his mom, Chairwoman Mrs. JD, approach, to her surprise: "What is all this about?" She sounds pissed. "I knew you wouldn't come if I told you," JD says. She snaps that she's pretty mad about being tricked, actually. And about her son's obnoxious product-placed World Wildlife Fund shirt. Maybe I'm the one who's mad about that second one.
They're like "Please just look at our awesome plan that we totally could have come over to your house and shown you instead of dragging you out to this empty field to see!" You know what else would have been great? If this stately older woman, instead of having to walk all the way out to meet them, COULD HAVE DRIVEN THERE. But of course she looks at it and is all, "Well, this plan is awesome! Even though our plans were already approved and voted on, I can totally decide to do your thing instead!"
And suddenly I'm in the mood for a picnic!
No, she actually says that. I can't even with this script.
Next scene: Claudia's room! Chairwoman Mrs. JD calls to say they revoted and aren't going to cut down the precious twelve trees and they like Dawn's plan and also they've decided to let kids run for office or something. There's also a final scene where they go release the newly healed bird with the park ranger, but I can't. I have had it with this video. I need to go for a relaxing drive.