Case #3.11: "Wooly Bullies"

Thanks to the episode title, the Chipmunk version of this song is now stuck in my head. Open at Grant High School. Generic doo-woop/1950's style music plays over a montage of kids leaving the building. It must be the last day of school or something because the halls resemble the wildebeest stampede from The Lion King. 

Two nerds discuss math formulas. Doug appears, mullet greasy and slicked down, wearing Coke bottle glasses and a pocket protector. A muscular guy in a white T-shirt heads their way. The real nerds hastily excuse themselves and flee to the safety of the computer club room. Doug knocks on the door, tells the nerds he's good at math, and wants to join their club. "We're full up," says the nerd, pulling the door closed and nearly taking off Doug's glasses in the process. 

Doug invites himself to sit with the nerds at lunch. He tells them he has a nice new computer and wonders why he can't hang out with them. The bully in the white T-shirt is watching them. "That's why," says one of the nerds. The bully pours the contents of Doug's milk carton into his shirt pocket. Doug is obviously restraining himself from fighting back.

Cap'n Rufus calls Doug into his office, wanting to know where he's been; Harry said Doug didn't come home the night before and Doug also didn't report to work that morning. "I cut school," Doug explains. Rufus reminds him that he's not in 8th grade. He sees Doug looks upset and asks if he wants to talk. 

Doug's current case involves the nerds at Grant High hacking into the school computers and changing everyone's grades. Doug explains that he's getting bullied and "I'm stuck in this Clark Kent cover and can't do nothin' about it." Cap'n Rufus chuckles; nobody has come to him about being bullied since he took over Jump Street. 

White T-shirt reminds Doug of somebody who picked on him in school. Doug asks the captain if he was ever bullied. Rufus was, as I think everyone has been. "Doesn't it still make you so mad you could rip his lungs out through his nose?" asks Doug. Rufus tells Doug that he wasn't always a sharp dresser himself.

Flashback to 13-year-old Cap'n Rufus sporting Coke bottle glasses, rolled up pants with white socks, and shirt buttoned up all the way. Young Rufus's biggest problem then was Leon, a kid who called himself The Leader of the Pack and thought he was something else because he once sang doo-wop on American Bandstand. On Rufus's way to school, he passes Leon and company singing on the street corner. They stop when they see him. By the way, 13-year-old Rufus is played by a young Larenz Tate, AKA Black Shawn from Rescue Me. Leon makes fun of Young Rufus's clothes.

Leon offers to teach Young Rufus to dress cool and tells him to ditch the white socks. Young Rufus protests that it's 20 degrees outside. Leon gives Young Rufus the choice of taking off the socks or taking off the socks and pants. In voiceover, the older Rufus reveals that Leon was his cousin; his younger self had to walk past the corner where Leon liked to sing or go 20 minutes out of his way to get to school. The next day, Leon gives Young Rufus another fun choice: steal himself a new outfit from a nearby store or sing Shirelles songs in the nude. Young Rufus picks Option A.

In front of the store, Leon gives Fuller a list of things to take: khaki chinos, All-Star high-tops, an alligator belt, two sharkskin suits, and ties (no paisley). Young Rufus doesn't get how he can leave the store with all that and not get caught. Leon tells Young Rufus to take the suits, etc. to the dressing room and put them on under his regular clothes. Young Rufus hesitantly goes into the store. Leon and his gang laugh at him through the front window. Young Rufus comes waddling out of the dressing room thanks to all the extra layers. He gets busted at the door by a policeman.

"So that's what made you become a cop?" Doug asks. Cap'n Rufus corrects him, "That's what made me a sharp dresser." He, Doug, and Blowfish share some laughs and high-fives. Blowfish tells them about his high school bully Russell Pasquale. 

Flashback. Teen Blowfish had several rackets going back in the day. He sold cigarettes, airplane bottles of liquor, and concert tickets out of his locker; he also had his own little sportsbook. Russell was the only guy in Blowfish's high school who was too old to be drafted; rumor had it he kept failing on purpose so he could hang out with his girlfriend Sheila.

Russell asks to make a bet on Monday Night Football. Teen Blowfish says he just closed up shop but relents. Russell tells Teen Blowfish to fill in the team on his betting slip after the game. Russell swipes a pack of cigarettes from the open locker and later bets on a college football game between Atlantic City College and Bayonne. Russell keeps betting on nonexistent teams and Teen Blowfish is too scared of him to refuse to take the money. 

Sheila comes by one day to collect her boyfriend's winnings: "This Atlantic City College, they're, like, good at football, huh? You know, I'm thinking I should go to this Atlantic City College. Don't tell Russell, but I'm gonna graduate this year." Teen Blowfish tells her it's a good school and "they hold classes on the boardwalk." 

"Sounds like you were the victim of an illegal shakedown of an illegal operation," Cap'n Rufus says. Teen Blowfish was left with one option: go to his uncle Tony, "a very important man," which sounds much nicer than "mobbed up." Blowfish asked his uncle to have Russell bumped off, but Uncle Tony "wasn't in the business of knocking off 10th graders." 

Uncle Tony had another solution. His associates had the score of a fake game between Atlantic City College and Hackensack State printed on the local sports page. Russell bet on AC and lost $250. 

Everyone eats pizza around the big squadroom table. Doug says that what happened to Blowfish and Cap'n Rufus "are not things that are going to scar you for the rest of your life." "They could," Tom reasons. Back in 4th grade, a bully used to hit Tom in the face every day at recess. 

Flashback. The school nurse asks Young Tom how he managed to kick himself in the nose. Young Tom says it was an accident. The nurse rattles off a long list of "accidents" and wonders if Young Tom needs glasses. Tom Senior gave his son boxing lessons to help him deal with the problem, not knowing the bully's name was Maureen, meaning Tom couldn't fight back.

4th grade was also the year Mrs. Hanson signed Tom up for ballroom dancing lessons. Maureen was in his class "armed with a deadly pair of tap shoes." At recess one day, the nurse spots Young Tom sitting on the playground bench. "I've seen the way Maureen's been treating you," she says gently and asks if Tom knows why Maureen picks on him. 

"It's because I won't hit her," Young Tom replies and I think he's right. The nurse thinks Maureen has a crush on him. "Gross," Young Tom comments. The nurse suggests that he invite Maureen to the cotillion. I always thought cotillions were for older kids?

The next day at recess, Maureen greets him with, "Hiya, runt. Where ya been hiding?" Tom tells her that he knows Maureen picks on him because she likes him and asks her to be his partner at the cotillion. "Gee, I don't know what else I can say except...FORGET IT!" Maureen says. She plows her swing right into Young Tom, knocking him against the trashcans. 

At the cotillion, Young Tom stands against the wall. The only girl without a partner is, you guessed it, Maureen. She looks deceptively angelic in her pink dress with lace ruffles and white gloves. "Your offer is accepted with pleasure," she says. She pulls him onto the dance floor and they start to waltz. 

Voiceover as the rest of Jump Street tries to find out what happened next. Doug: "She tried to trip you?" Harry: "She socked you in the jaw?" Judy: "She pushed you into the punchbowl?" None of the above. They started to enjoy each other's company. Young Tom tried to grab her butt like he'd seen older guys do, but "she wasn't ready." Instead of slapping him, though, Maureen just moves his hand to her waist.

"The first of many feisty women in your life," Judy smiles. Booker tells a story from his youth. When he was 10, a bully tried to steal his lunch money. He knocked the boy out and went right on into school. "Macho man," Cap'n Rufus teases. Doug is not impressed by anyone's stories. 

Flashback. "After my parents died," Doug narrates, "I moved to a new town with my aunt and uncle." Young Doug sits at his desk with a KICK ME sign taped to his back. His biggest problem at his new school was Jack Archer: "There was somethin' about me this kid just didn't like. I think he said it was my face." Little Doug is wearing his Saint Michael medal, nice nod to the present.

Jack liked to shoot rubber bands and spitballs at Doug. He called him Penpal and told Doug to call him Mr. Jack. Outside school one morning, Jack steals Little Doug's lunch. One bite of the sandwich convinces Jack he doesn't like tuna. He swipes Little Doug's hat, puts the sandwich inside it, and plops the hat back on his victim's head. "Finally, I had to ask my aunt to pack me two lunches," Doug narrates, "one for me to eat and one for Jack to shove in my face." 

"Doug, that's awful," Judy says sympathetically. Doug is just glad his aunt never packed walnuts. Jack also liked to knock Doug's books out of his hands just to watch him pick them up. He'd do it over and over until Doug started chucking his own books on the ground to save him the trouble. 

For the science fair, Doug made a toothpick model of Apollo 15. Little Doug weaves around parked cars and the like, trying to get to school without meeting his nemesis. In the school courtyard, Jack is waiting. He threatens to set Little Doug's project on fire and waves a cigarette lighter. Little Doug takes a step backwards, and falls. The rocket model hits the ground, shattering into pieces. "Why'd you do that, jerk? I wasn't gonna do nothin' to it," says Jack. 

After school, Little Doug tosses the remains of his project into the fireplace. Uncle Nick, played by the late great Dom DeLuise, sits reading a newspaper. Little Doug asks his uncle if they can talk about something. "That depends. Is it something that's gonna give me happiness, sadness, gladness, or heartburn?" asks Uncle Nick. Little Doug wishes he'd never moved. Uncle Nick doesn't understand what's wrong with the town: "It's got trees, that park, good school."

Little Doug doesn't like the kids at school. Uncle Nick gasps in realization, "That Archer boy. Still? Did you tell your teacher?" Doug firmly tells his uncle that he's a wimp, not a snitch. Uncle Nick gives Little Doug classic parent advice about bullies: They're just cowards and they'll leave you alone if you stand up to them. I'd be genuinely shocked if that's ever worked for anybody. 

"You didn't fall for that, did you?" Booker asks in the present. Tom winces and says, "Oh God, I can't look."

Flashback. After school, Jack taunts Doug. Doug calls Jack a dipstick. Jack takes a step forward. "I'm warnin' ya!" Doug says, throwing his books to the ground. Jack overturns a trashcan and plops it on Doug's head. The kids nearby laugh. 

Uncle Nick's bullyproofing tip was Doug's first lesson in "don't believe everything you hear." Booker wonders why parents give advice like that. Cap'n Rufus suggests, "I think it's because they want their children to get right what they never could." Plus Uncle Nick doesn't seem to have had kids of his own and did the best he could at being an instant dad. "This guy Jack, he terrorized me for 5 more years," Doug goes on, "Somehow, he always ended up in my class."

Flashback to high school. Doug's younger self is now being played by Peter DeLuise's real life little brother Michael, who will be referred to in this recap as Doug/Mike because writing "Teen [Character Name]" is getting old. Doug/Mike has a KICK ME sign taped to his back. While sitting in class minding his own business, Jack jabs him in the ass with a safety pin. "OW!" Doug/Mike screams. Everyone turns to stare at him. The teacher asks if there's a problem. Doug/Mike says no.

Adding fuel to his embarrassment is Doug/Mike's redheaded crush Carol, who sees the whole thing happen. "This girl, I mean, she looked like she came out of a shampoo ad," Doug narrates. We see Carol performing at a pep rally in her cheerleading uniform. Doug/Mike watches in the bleachers, spellbound. "I wanted to ask her out to the prom so bad," says Doug.

After the pep rally, Doug/Mike is getting a drink from the water fountain when someone pushes his face into it. I have my own private flashback to the girl who bullied me in nursery school and kindergarten. "Sorry, I thought you were somebody else," Carol apologizes. Doug/Mike is lost for words and stammers, "I thought you were somebody else too." Carol dries his face off with a tissue. 

Carol knows this will sound backwards, but she wants to know if Doug/Mike will take her to the prom. Doug/Mike opens his mouth and makes a funny noise. "Is that a yes?" asks Carol. Doug/Mike nods. Carol promises she'll talk to him at lunch because she's late for class. Doug/Mike grins in a dopey way as she leaves.

"Finally, a reason to believe that the world wasn't designed to torture a 16-year-old kid named Doug Penhall," Doug narrates, "The big night comes. I buy the finest tuxedo money can rent." In his room, Doug/Mike listens to "Night Fever." He practices his dance moves in nothing but a bath towel and his bowtie. Somebody call Chippendales! "My uncle, he loans me his cherry 1957 convertible Cadillac. He never let anyone drive that car," Doug goes on.

Doug/Mike comes into Uncle Nick's living room in his tuxedo, carrying the corsage box under his arm. "If anything happens to the car, you call me immediately. Understand?" says Uncle Nick as he hands over the keys. He puts a red carnation in his nephew's buttonhole. Doug/Mike asks how he looks. "Your garage door is open," says Uncle Nick. Doug/Mike zips up. "I'm surprised you didn't feel the breeze," Uncle Nick jokes, "Have a good time." "She's not that kinda girl," Doug/Mike says. Uncle Nick laughs, "You know I mean be a gentleman."

Doug/Mike promises to be careful with the car. Uncle Nick asks if he ever told Doug/Mike about his prom. We get the feeling that it's a long story Doug/Mike has heard several times because he says it's getting late and he has to pick Carol up. Uncle Nick asks if Carol is pretty. "She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," Doug/Mike grins. He starts to leave. "Just a minute!" Uncle Nick calls. He wants a picture because he's never seen Doug/Mike in a tie. 

Doug/Mike protests but agrees. "I'm very proud of you," says a teary-eyed Uncle Nick, giving his nephew a kiss on the cheek. He snaps a picture, nearly blinding Doug/Mike with the flash. 

Doug/Mike drives up to the school. For some reason, it's snowing; every prom I've ever been to or heard of has been in the spring. The kids outside watch admiringly as Doug/Mike pulls the classic convertible up to the curb. He gets out and walks around to open Carol's door. "Rad-lookin' wheels, Penpal," taunts a dateless Jack, "Is it yours?" He peeks through the window and sees Carol: "Hello, sweetheart!" Jack gets in the front seat and locks the door. He rolls down the window to ask, "This thing get FM?"

Doug/Mike tells him to get out: "I gotta park it." "Why didn't you say so?" asks Jack, "Let me park it." He starts the Cadillac. Doug/Mike pleads with him to get out of the car. Jack pulls away. "Archer!" Doug/Mike yells after him. Offscreen, there's a loud crash.

In the squadroom, everyone looks solemn. "I swore that night that I would die before I let anyone step on me again," says Doug. Booker asks why Doug didn't go to Jack's house and crack him in the head with a tire iron. Doug never got the chance because Jack moved away. Uncle Nick eventually forgave Doug, but Doug still hasn't forgiven himself. "There is no justice," says Judy. Booker amends that, "Gotta make your own justice." 

Doug takes a long walk through the city in the rain, wearing his trusty trenchcoat. What looks like either hours later or the next morning, he arrives at a house and knocks on the door. Uncle Nick answers and invites him in. They sit down by the fireplace with coffee mugs and a plate of cookies. Doug says, "I think I recognize those from Christmas." Uncle Nick gets defensive: "They were in the freezer." 

Doug asks, "Did you call the guy, find out where he lives?" Uncle Nick gives Doug a piece of paper from his breast pocket and tells him the address is 45 minutes away. He knows this is about Jack: "That happened 8 years ago. Why don't you forget about it?" Doug can't forget until there's justice. Uncle Nick tries to reason with him: "It's too late now. You're a grown man." Doug sets down his coffee mug and says it hurts too much. "It hurts if you let it," Uncle Nick counters. He squeezes his nephew's shoulder and advises, "Leave it behind, Douglas."

Doug stands up, grabs his coat, and kisses Uncle Nick on the cheek. Sometime later, Doug is sitting on his motorcycle in front of a rundown house. He makes up his mind and goes up to the porch. He takes a deep breath and knocks on the door. Harsh coughing is his reply. The door swings open. Jack has either a split lip or a wicked cold sore and nasty teeth. He looks like an addict.

Doug asks if he's Jack Archer. "Who wants to know?" Jack challenges. From somewhere else in the house, a woman calls out, "If that's one of your lowlife pals, tell him ya ain't goin' out tonight!" Jack tells her to shut up. He asks what Doug wants. "Nothing," Doug replies after a minute. As he lopes back down the porch, he can hear Jack's wife screaming at him some more. Doug smiles broadly to himself as he kickstarts his motorcycle.

Doug, back in nerd attire, asks the Grant High Computer Club kids for help writing a program. The nameless bully comes up to them. He calls Doug a pimple (what the hell kind of insult is that?) and knocks his books out of his hands. Doug grabs the bully's fingers in a death grip and calmly tells him to be nicer: "One day, you're gonna shrink, you're gonna lose all your hair, and you might even wind up married to a cow." 

Doug lets go and of course the bully leaves. One of the nerds hands Doug his books. The nerds invite him to join computer club and say they run the school. End of episode. 

No comments:

Post a Comment