Sunday 2 February 2020

On ABC-ME 22 free to air digital TV - Barrie Pattison notes 100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE HIGH SCHOOL (Scott Fellows, USA, 2014-16)

The TV was still running the wasteland that is day time programs for stay at home mums and tinies who don’t want to risk all the toxins in fresh air. I glanced at what proved to be Nickelodeon’s 100 Things to Do Before High School  produced between 2014-2016 by Jack Mackie pictures. This one had an evolution recycling creator Scott Fellows’ admired ten-year-old Ned's Declassified School Survival guide which I missed but is clearly in the slip stream of Clyde Phillips’ Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990-1993), itself indebted to John Masius’ Ferris Bueller series (1990-1991) in turn struggling to repeat the success of John Hughes iconic 1986 feature film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.              

One characteristic gag there had foreground figures watching Corey Nemec’s Parker Lewis from the shadows and commenting “You see, Ferris, that’s what you should be doing.”

Coming from all this hash up of pop culture, (American) middle school lore and sit-com we get Fellows’ later venture which follows three rather endearing juniors, Isabela Merced, CJ Martin and Jaheem Toombs rising to the challenges of tribal playgrounds, menacing discipline and un-cool parents with only benign student counsellor (animation actor) Jack De Sena for back up.

The episodes I saw were genuinely ingenious and a variation on the familiar. As an example -Sit at a Different Table at Lunch Thing! had Merced stopping the mean principal from ratting out the rich girl who wore her mom’s expensive ring to class without permission. 

That one and several more are the work of director Savage Steve (One Crazy Summer) Holland, once the messiah of youth-at-the-helm feature making. It can be noted among current signs of his second coming.

It’s on ABC-ME (free-to-air digital) on Monday mornings, that is if they haven’t already used up all the episodes, and makes a welcome antidote to The New Pope.

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