Make It or Break It: The Final Recap

You’ve come a long way, baby.

When I first sat down to recap the MIOBI pilot, I’d have never imagined that three years later, I’d still be here recapping the series finale. OK, I did, because I clearly hate myself and possess this bizarre compulsion to deconstruct bad TV shows in excruciating detail, but here we are. The end of an era.

So does MIOBI end on an appropriately absurd, cheesy, and ridiculous note? Of course it does!

So let’s jump right in for the last time.

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“Less Talking, More Zen!” or Make It or Break It 3×07

Apologies, my lovelies, for running a bit late on this one. I fear the drama was so heavy in this episode that the recap took a little more time than I thought. So let’s get started, shall we?

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Single White Female Gymnast or Make It or Break It 3×02 “It Takes Two”

I kind of like my title better. Lacking in creativity, I grant, but at least it’s not named after an Olsen twins film.

For some reason, I find this show infinitely more watchable this season. I didn’t say good, mind you. I said watchable. I was mulling over possible reasons for it, and here’s what I got so far:

  • Bigger budget. I’m not sure if you could call this show a hit, but I guess it performed well enough for ABC Fam to throw more money at it (some weirdos *cough* might have bought the DVDs, too). Whatever the reason, the sets no longer look like leftovers from an 80s after school special (can’t say the same for the writing, sadly) and the stunt work has vastly improved. Remember the pilot, when Emily threw some cowboyed flexed-footed vault that hadn’t been competitive since the early 80s? Now the stunt doubles (which still look nothing like the actresses, but baby steps) are throwing skills that actually are believable. We’ve come a long way, baby.
  • Less of the boring adults. They seem to have done a nu-90210 this season and scaled back dramatically on the adults, with most of the focus on the teens. Because let’s be real, who watches a teen show for the parents? (Queen Chloe, however, is exempted from this point. I miss you, Chloe. But not enough to want Emily back).
  • Less soap, more sports. I may be speaking too soon, but so far, this season actually seems to be about gymnastics (which is not to say that the athletes don’t still seem to have inordinate amounts of free time to chase after boys and pull pranks, but let’s not split hairs here). They actually seem to do other things at the gym than stand around the chalk bin and gossip, so it’s progress!
  • No Emily. Because I never miss a chance to shade Emily.

So let’s get this party started. Continue reading

I can’t believe I liked a book with so little boy drama this much or Horse Crazy #1, Horseback Summer

Taking a break from my usual snark fodder to recap a series I loved as a preteen.  I was never much into horses but the books were about camp, and you know how I feel about camp.  The first one was published in 1990, which means 80stacular glory.  Unforch, we don’t get too many outfit descriptions, but we do have illustrations, which I dare say are even better!

So the thirteen-year-old heroine, Emily, and her BFF Judy are headed to Webster’s Country Horse Camp for first six weeks/eight weeks depending on which part of the first chapter you’re reading.  But the day before they’re supposed to leave, Judy breaks her leg while trying to rescue her kitten from a tree.  I would comment on the stupidity of climbing a tree and risking major injury the day before leaving for summer camp, but thirteen-year-olds are inherently stupid, so this is actually pretty realistic.  What I can snark, though, is WTF were her parents thinking?  Surely they knew what she was up to since it was her mother who found the cat in the tree first.  Gotta love awesome YA novel parenting.

Anyway, Emily is reluctant to go to camp without Judy.  She’s afraid she won’t make friends or have any fun without
Judy there, which I think are reasonable concerns for a
thirteen-year-old.  I was the shy one in my group of
friends, and at that age, I’d probably have been nervous about going to
camp alone, too.  But Judy talks her into it, saying she doesn’t want to ruin Emily’s summer and her parents probably wouldn’t get Emily deposit back.  Which is actually pretty good reasoning, but I have to wonder if Judy’s parents got their deposit back.  Is there a clause for last-minute injuries?  And once again I put far too much thought into a YA novel.

Emily goes to camp and meets her new bunkmates, the “Fillies”–Webster’s sorts its campers by age, the “Thoroughbreds” being the oldest, the “Fillies” the middle, and the “Foals” the youngest. She immediately befriends Libby, the fiery redhead who reminds me of a girl version of one of the Weasley twins; and Lynda, the farm girl from Iowa.  Nothing stereotypical about these characterizations, not at all.  Then there’s Danielle a.k.a. “Danny,” who has no real personality traits besides being exotically beautiful; Penny, a twelve-year-old who reminds me of BSC’s Mary Anne pre-makeover; and Dru, the mousy plump girl with braces who despite Emily’s overtures of friendship remains mopey and sullen.  Cheer up, Emo kid.  Finally we meet fourteen-year-old Caroline a.k.a. “Caro,” the Designated Bitch(tm) whose rich parents made her come to Webster’s to “broaden her horizons.”  She arrives rockin’ the Mom jeans and a polo shirt with the little alligator on it. Fierce.

Caro begs Pam, the Fillies’ counselor, to let her bunk with the Thoros instead, but Pam puts the kibosh on that.  Resigned to her fate, Caro proceeds to hog the cabin’s only clothes rack.  The rest of the Fillies bend over and take it.  Lynda and Danny are impressed by Caro’s extensive wardrobe, so Caro warms up to them, but continues to ignore everyone else.

The girls take a tour of the camp and get their first look at the horses.  Emily is immediately taken with a Palomino named Joker, and no, not in the “his ‘wife?’ A horse” way (WARNING: link is NSFW and most definitely NSFL).  But Caro wants Joker for herself, too.  Wow, a bitchfight that’s not even over a boy!  See why this series is awesome?

This is not to say no boy-related bitchfighting occurs, however.  Caro’s got a thing for Warren, the dreamy son of the camp director, and is undaunted by the knowledge that he is “going steady” with Melinda, the Foals’ counselor.  O hai 1960.  Warren’s playing the campfire that night (hey, even Eddie Vedder had to start somewhere) and he’s totally 80s hot, you guys.  Check out that mullet, flannel shirt, tight jeans, and cowboy boots!  Be still, my eleven-year-old heart.

Caro arrives late and makes her grand entrance, using the opportunity to put the moves on Warren.  Melinda shows up and puts the kibosh on that real fast.  For a minute I was thinking she was going to throw down, but alas, no literal bitchfight.  Bummer.

The next day, the girls get their horse assignments.  In a shocking plot twist, Joker is assigned to Emily.  Caro pouts about it but Pam, the counselor, tells her the assignments are final.  The girls have their first riding lesson and of course it goes great, and Emily immediately bonds with Joker.  I admit I didn’t care too much about the horse bits so my recappage of those will be pretty minimal.  Sorry.

Later on, Emily is the bunk writing a letter to Judy, and decides to take a picture of Joker with her Polaroid camera.  I remember being so envious of Emily for having a Polaroid camera.  Weren’t those things the shit?  Caro, who’s just gotten back from a sesh of speeding up the aging process (a.k.a. sunbathing… ahh, the days before Mystic), invites herself along, wanting a picture with Joker as well.  Emily suggests that Caro take a picture with her own mount, Dark Victory, but Caro insists upon Joker.  Emily is suspicious but goes along with it.

Caro exhibits a flagrant disregard for the rules, wearing a bikini and sandals (you’re supposed to wear covered shoes in the stable) and talking Emily into taking Joker outside (campers aren’t supposed to take the horses out without supervision).  She also talks Emily into using up three of her last four shots on her and Joker, leaving only one picture left for Emily.  Of course, Emily’s picture doesn’t come out well.  Warren shows up and busts them, but Caro flirts with him and makes it sound like it was Emily’s idea to take Joker outside.  Emily is annoyed, but Caro appeases her by promising to buy her a new roll of film next time they head to town.  Ahh, the days before digital cameras.  These girls truly live in the Dark Ages.

In the days that follow, Caro quickly befriends Emily, lending her clothes and money and inviting her to sit with her and the Thoros at meals. Emily ditches the other Fillies, letting Caro bulldoze her into seeing Warren’s rock band in concert instead of going on a hayride with the other Fillies. We get some outfit descriptions, and they are 80slicious!  One of the Thoros wears her hair in “jagged spikes on top of her head” and sports “big, dangling earrings and lots of makeup.”  Hardcore.  Check out Caro’s getup: “white slacks, white midriff top, white sandals, and white scarf tied around the golden ponytail that jutted at a rakish angle on top of her head.”  Emily thinks Caro looks seventeen.  Hot.  Sadly, we don’t get much description of Emily’s outfit, but we know she’s got a black tank top, blue bandanna, and turquoise bracelet (all loaned by Caro).  Caro also laments that Emily’s ears aren’t pierced, or she could wear Caro’s “silver Navaho earrings.”  I think Emily dodged a bullet there.

At the concert, Caro pays for Emily’s admission and buys her a soda, despite Emily’s protests.  Emily has a crappy time at the concert.  The Thoros are all boy-crazy and boring and Emily isn’t really into the music, supposedly because she doesn’t know much about rock bands, but I’m inclined to think the River Rats just suck.  Emily insists she will pay Caro back but Caro will hear none of it.

Back at camp, Libby is suspicious of Caro’s motives and warns Emily, but Emily doesn’t believe her.  I see shades of Idiot Plot (WARNING: TV Tropes link… if you click, you will be sucked into the vortex!), but I don’t blame Emily too much.  It’s hard to deny the allure of hanging with the “cool kids,” even if they are all shallow bitches, and come on, it’s free stuff!

Later that week, Caro suggests trading mounts for a trail ride.  Emily hesitates, but Caro insists it’s just for one day, friends share stuff, blah blah.  She brings up all the clothes and money she lent to Emily. Emily figures she owes Caro a favor after all she’s done for her, and lets her have Joker for the day.  Caro spends the whole trail ride scamming on Warren, while Emily can barely handle Dark Victory. 

After the trail ride, Caro’s MIA until dinner, during which she avoids Emily and does not save a seat for her at their usual table.  Emily’s still too dense to put two and two together.  After dinner, Matt Webster, the camp director, asks Emily to step into his office.  He puts his arm around her as they walk to the office, and I know it’s supposed to seem affectionate and homey, but I was getting such creepy vibes, man.  The Mr. Collins of Webster’s Country Horse Camp, perhaps?  Matt asks Emily if she’s happy with her mount, which upsets her, because she is seriously obsesso over that horse.  I don’t think I’m that attached to my macbook, and I’m pretty scarily attached to it.  It turns out that Caro approached Matt about trading mounts with Emily for the summer, which is why she was MIA all afternoon.  Emily’s like “Aww, hell naw!” and reasons that Caro buttered Emily up all week so she’d “repay” her by trading mounts.  Matt tells Emily she’s a pretty smart Filly.  I beg to differ, but as I said before… thirteen-year-olds, inherently stupid, blah blah.

After leaving Matt’s office, Emily leaves an envelope containing the money she owes under Caro’s pillow.  Caro finds Emily and bitches her out, and Emily finally grows a pair.  She calls Caro on lying to Matt.  Caro tries to defend herself, confessing that she doesn’t have many friends.  Well, with that sparkling personality, I can’t imagine why.  Caro then calls Emily immature, which hurts Emily’s feelings, despite her realization that Caro’s been manipulating her the whole time.  Caro flounces off and Libby drops down from a nearby tree, where she’d overheard the whole thing.  She tells Emily “I told you so” but is otherwise pretty cool about the whole thing, and commends Emily for standing up to Caro.  As a former shy and wimpy preteen, I kind of agree.  Then Libby shows Emily a really disgusting bug she found in the tree, and the two of them plot to leave it on Caro’s pillow. All is well… till book two, at least.

The next one is about Dru, but that’s the one I don’t have, so you’ll have to live without reading about her. The third one’s pretty good; it’s about field day with the boys’ camp across the river.  This one oughtta be fun.

Hail, hail, summer camp

For a while I went through a phase in which I was obsessed with summer camp.  I really, really wanted to go, and my inner eleven-year-old is still gutted that I never had the chance to ride horses, make lanyards, or sing songs around a campfire.  I have no idea why summer camp appealed to me so much, but it might have to do with the YA books I was reading.  I give you my favorite camp books:

(Picture courtesy of dibbly-fresh.com)

You know BSC+camp was like a bookgasm for preteen me. The part I remember most clearly was Mary Anne being nicknamed “the feeb” by Logan’s cabin mates for the cheesy love letter she wrote to him.

Sorry, only picture I could find.  For those of you who don’t feel like squinting and giving yourself eyestrain, it’s Hail, hail, Camp Timberwood by Ellen Conford.  Thirteen-year-old Melanie goes to summer camp, learns to swim, learns to ride a horse, and falls for a dreamy guy.  If that wasn’t a great ad for  camp to eleven-year-old me, I don’t know what was.

Camp Girl Meets Boy by Caroline B. Cooney.  Oh man, this one had everything.  Boy drama, bitchiness, “frenemies”… it was like Gossip Girl in the woods. Good times.

ETA: I forgot about this one.  I got these through Book Week in grade school (remember those?).  This was one of those books I loved even though I didn’t care that much about the main premise (e.g. BSC).  I didn’t really care about the horse stuff but read for the middle school drama.

OK, not a book, but I loved this show.  I wish I could find it on DVD.  Old skool Nick is love.

I even tried writing some stories about camp (not having actually gone did not faze me in the least).  I wrote the first one when I was about ten or eleven, I think.  I never finished it, but it was pretty easy to see where it was going.  The main characters go hiking and get lost in the haunted woods surrounding the camp.  It probably would’ve still been better than Blair Witch.  I wrote the second one when I was about thirteen or fourteen, I think, and by then, I was more interested in boys than ghosts.  The heroine, an awkward and clumsy 13-year-old, goes to camp and falls for a dreamy guy, but the bitchiest girl in the cabin likes him, too.  I should’ve made him a vampire, and I’d have had a hit on my hands.

My final camp story was never actually written, but remember planning it (I was always planning stories but only a small percentage of those actually ended up getting written, and an even smaller percentage of those actually got finished.  This trend has continued into my adulthood).  This was right about when my obsession with gymnastics collided with my obsession with camp, thus forming an even bigger hybrid obsession: gymnastics camp.  Sadly, I will never know what adventures my characters would have at gymnastics camp, but I’m sure they would’ve been memorable.

Oh, and I still don’t know how to swim.  See, if I’d gone to camp, that wouldn’t be a problem now, would it?