Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Heart times soul equals rock n' roll!" - The Adventures of Pete & Pete

Let’s talk about Syd Straw.

Apparently, she’s some sort of singer/songwriter. But more importantly, she plays Miss Fingerwood on Pete & Pete. Her first appearance was in the special, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, as Big Pete’s math teacher. She appears again in this episode, A Hard Day’s Pete, as Little Pete’s match teacher. I have no idea what happened that she went from teaching at Big Pete’s high school to Little Pete’s middle school, but let’s not worry about that. Anyways, while she doesn’t exactly conjure up images of Brando or Streep, she nails the right Pete & Pete tone, playing Miss Fingerwood as awkwardly endearing. You see, in this episode, she plays bass for Little Pete’s band, the Blowholes. And, you see, as a math teacher, she’s obsessed with numbers. She points out that she knows the backbeat to “One is the Loneliest Number.” She counts off time with a “1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4.” She has a pi symbol on her bass. And she plays off these silly gags with so much sincerity that they actually work. She also gets to sing a little and does a great job (what with that being her primary career and all). Maybe I should check out her work.

Having gotten that out of the way, let’s move on the rest of the episode. Building an episode around Little Pete discovering his favorite song and trying to find it again is a great concept for an episode. It’s both trivial and integral at the same time. Think about your favorite song for a second (unless it’s by Fall Out Boy – in that case, your favorite song is entirely lame): it’s not essential to your daily life, but it means a lot to you, right? Thus, one feels for Little Pete as he quests to get back in touch with it.

It also means we get to see Little Pete play in a band and call himself Pete “Thunderball” Wrigley. The scenes with Little Pete rocking out are cute; he doesn’t have pipes, but he definitely gives it his all, like Danny Tamberelli always does. It also gives us privy to silly pastiche songs, like “Marmalade Cream,” a fake ‘60s rock song in the vein of Led Zeppelin and Cream that is apparently quite popular in the P&P universe. Also, once Little Pete takes on his moniker, the rest of his band (which not only includes Miss Fingerwood, but Little Pete’s friend Clem and – a meter man) faithfully refer to him as Thunderball for the rest of the episode, which is a nice enough running gag.

And for those of you who recall me bemoaning how When Petes Collide didn’t really do much to build off the Petes being best friends, there’s a great moment between the two. They don’t even share the same screen, but Big Pete takes a quick break from his narrating duties to help his brother out when the situation looks dire, placing a simple phone call that inspires his brother. If the rest of the season had more scenes like that, the When Petes Collide would have felt earned. Even then, the scene is touching. And true to P&P form, I’ll take little treats like this when I can get them.

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