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Classic Television Rundown: Salute Your Shorts (Ep. 1-10), "Cinderella Play"

Bear with me, folks. Thanks to some slipshod research, I accidentally jumped ahead 7 episodes. I'll go back, but please try to remember that the social environment surrounding this episode's airing was that of June 24, 1991, NOT June 7, 1991. So if you're wondering why this episode evokes the strange feel of June 17, 1991's exhumation of Zachary Taylor's body to investigate whether or not he was poisoned by arsenic, that is why. Duh.

Bear with me in general on these episode recaps, as well. I'm not really in the business of straight up detailing what's happening on-screen. Television's a visual medium, and the show is relatively accessible for your viewing pleasure. I'm more interested in working out my personal post-graduate complexes by extrapolating some menial, momentary point of the show into a sociological treatise on the decline of today's youth. Seriously, that's what I'm gonna do here; except for the bibliography, bitches!

Grizzly bear with me on something else, too, folkettes. I love cheesy wordplay.

"Cinderella Play" is the episode in which all your favorite characters get together to put on a show. Theater is every school-age sitcom's meat and potatoes, because who doesn't love to watch one of their fictional friends turn nutsy director while another reveals herself to be a flawed diva. It's my understanding that Glee is trying to trample this trope into the ground, but I'm still a sucker for the formula. Heck, make anything with teens that incorporates a play and ends at the prom, and I'll watch it. Partly that's because I can't let go of youth; mostly, though, it's just a perfect formula for simple drama. Live theater is so much more exciting than the movies, especially when it's in the movies!

After rejecting Donkey Lips' idea for a musical Return of the Jedi, as well as disappointingly shooting down Budnick's "Amazon Girls A Go Go", Counselor Ug announces that the camp will be putting on a performance of Cinderella. Being the only corporeal adult in camp I know of, Ug anoints himself director and contracts the accompanying neurosis. A brief catfight ensues between Dina and Telly for the lead role, yet there was little ever doubt our diva would get her part. Dina is destined for Hollywood, don't you know? She sure does: "I was born to be a star!... If I win an Academy award, I'll wear this really rad red dress that'll make Madonna look so sick, and then I'll go nightclubbing with Charlie Sheen." Apparently 1991 propped pop icons with staying power, as the campers also name-dropped Barbra Streisand and Johnny Depp. Who's replacing these allusions on today's shows, and where will they be in 19 years? (Answer: Lady Gaga, who will be in Las Vegas. The new Las Vegas on the moon colony.)

When Dina learns that the neighboring camp's resident hunk Richie Garber is going to be in attendance, a bout of stage fright inevitably overcomes her. Thanks to some savvy coaching from Sponge ("Imagine that there's a giant chicken in the audience"), plus a handy chicken costume, all's well that ends well blah blah and all the world's a stage... upon which Richie Garber gives flowers to Zizi instead! He's no chicken. He's a big, old turkey.

Time for me to get crotchety and dole out some cod wisdom yet? As mentioned before, this episode is little more than a pleasant take on a proven formula, yet still it manages to twist my snarl-stuck mouth into a smilette. We have Michael begging to rehearse his kiss with Dina, Donkey Lips playing a rapping mouse, and Budnick auditioning with the contemporary poetry of his class ("Beans, Beans, the musical fruit"). It's timeless humor that can and should transcend generations for as long as Johnny Depp remains a viable, awesome reference.

In contrast, here is what one of my sister's kindergartners told her he got up early to watch before coming to school last week - Saw V.

I imagine I'd be pretty loose with my kids' consumption. I'd be the parent who gets the call about his child's Apocalypse Now diorama. Nevertheless, I imagine I might have to draw the line at torture porn during breakfast.

Despite this being an extreme case, I am worried about the change in children's consumption, which I believe is also something you can die of on the Oregon Trail. Whereas Donkey Lips auditions for the play with some MC Hammer beat-boxing, I imagine today's teens would be quick to produce some profanity-laced misogyny. This isn't so much a comment on their character as it is on what's generally popular, and 20th century media was always drifting towards the open sea, but I don't want the lighthouse to disappear completely over the horizon.

If the beacon of good-natured fun that is Camp Anawanna managed to produce roustabout nihilists such as myself, I don't think I want to witness Jigsaw's world.

Memorable Quotes

Donkey Lips (rapping) -
At first I'm a mouse

And I live in a house

And they think I'm a louse

And then I turn into a... horse?

(to Zizi) - Quick rewrite. You're no longer a flying godmother. You're a... hopping godmother.

(calling out Dina's "memorization" technique) - She's got the first act on her arm, and the second act behind her leg.
- I can't wait to see where the third act is.

Dina (responding to a mustache graffiti-ed on her headshot) - I can't believe they defaced my picture! What's next? A beard on the Lincoln Memorial?

- The thought of going onstage... gives me bumps in my stomach. These lumps keep getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger...
- That's just last night's meatloaf.

- I can't imagine Richie Garber as a chicken. He's a hunk!
Salute Your Shorts, Season 1, Episode 10
"Cinderella Play"
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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  1. Blogger chris | 3:20 PM |  

    The thing I learned here is that I wish I listened to MPR back when I was watching Nickelodeon cuz I woulda then known about that awesome exhumation!

    Also, I might deface that t-shirt you got me now so it says "Camp Sawanna" - it'd make my students think I'm cooler than I am.

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