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I guess I just like liking things

I really, really like how the writers take an underlying theme and relate all the different stories to that theme. This time around it’s “Fathers,” whereas in Bioshuffle it was “handling stress.” I’m sure it’s happened in more episodes, but these are the two that stick out to me. What do I like even more than that? More Veronica, and this episode has a whole bunch of that. On top of both of those things, we also get more Rose, one of the very few awesome TV kids to have ever graced the screen.

Any time you learn more backstory about a character, you have the chance to see where that character came from, philosophically. Generally it’s handled by extremes, either “parents are XYZ, so character is XYZ” or “parents are ABC, character is completely opposite XYZ.” Remember Alex P. Keaton? There’s your example for the latter, and I”ll leave you to imagine any of the myriads available to model the former.

We don’t really know anything about Veronica’s mother, but this episode makes it pretty clear where Veronica gets her Veronicaness from. The competition with her father has not only driven her to be who she is, but has also driven her mother away (well, that and Mr. Palmer’s … I’m trying to find a more dignified word than “porking,” and I’m failing here. Suffice to say, the competition between father and daughter is very believably the source of her Veronica powers, and I love that we get a look at it.

It’s not the only time the show uses a dark event as a springboard for comedy, but this one is really dark. Giving Mr. Palmer only a year to live, and making it cancer just seems so, man, I don’t know. In previous viewings, I think I registered it but moved on to enjoy what was going on around it, but for some reason this time I was struck by just how strange it was they went this route. The show is only eleven episodes old! Even Seinfeld waited until season six to joke about someone with cancer, and it ended up he was lying about it anyway (spoiler alert, I guess?). Given all the fantastical things Veridian (and, as we learn, DigiVation) has done so far, it seems like they could have manufactured some other reason. “Hey, I’m being sent to a new office on the moon, not sure when I’ll be back,” or something. But without the impetus of looming death, I suppose we wouldn’t have gotten to see Veronica instantly soften and get worried the second she finds out her dad is really dying, and that really is a beautiful moment for the character. Plus, the situation leads to Mr. Palmer’s best line of the episode, said to Linda when she is on one of her trademark rambles: “Young lady, are you aware that I have only one year to live?”

I’ve said before how great characters lead to great comedy, and seeing Veronica and her dad traverse the cycle of competition, trying to make their time together more special, and back to competition is some great character-based stuff. It’s not a “hey, let’s make so-and-so all of a sudden very interested in competition so we can use this storyline,” it’s an organic thing that comes from what we already know about her, and it fits. Yes, we see more depth, but it isn’t a change of the character, it’s another dimension.

Contrast Veronica’s experience with Ted’s. What’s interesting to me is that this is one of the few times we feel sorry for Ted. He’s successful, handsome, and well-liked, but he’s got this underlying pain about not being able to please his father. And, man, his father is a jerk!  I mean, we don’t get to know much about him, but good night, Irene! I hope none of you talk to your kids like that. Or cats or dogs or even fish. We don’t get to know him well enough to know why he’s like that, but we’re firmly on Ted’s side and we know he turned out all right, and we are supposed to think Ted’s dad is a jerk. Still, it’s sad that he grew up with that, and, yes, I’m sad about a fictional character’s fictional upbringing. I feel bad for Ted!

But Ted’s dad’s baldness as the impetus for Ted wanting to hurry along the hair-growth formula is great, and it’s revealed perfectly. Maybe I’m slow at picking up on things (I am), but the first time I saw this episode I didn’t see that coming at all. It was all “Ted, do real stuff” and “Who cares about grades?” and then, bam, bald. It worked very well on me.

Ted comes full circle, though, and it’s a good place for the character to end up. You get the real sense that he’s at peace with the relationship he does/doesn’t have with his dad, just like Veronica got to with her dad (even though hers seemed like a regression, I still think it was growth because she came back to their former relationship with deeper understanding of it). When Ted says at the end that he’s really not going to worry about it, I believe him, and I believe he’s going to go on and be okay with it. And all it took was a hair-covered desk.

Bits and Pieces:

  • Is it weird to anyone else that Veronica was a member of a sorority? I only really know the stereotype of sororities from movies and TV, but those don’t fit with what I know about Veronica
  • Veridian fixed Iceland’s presidential election
  • DigiVation Industries is a great name for a company, especially a competitor for Veridian Dynamics.
  • “My father and I hardly speak. We’re like oil and… what’s that thing that’s always disappointing oil? Oh, yeah, it’s me.” – Ted
  • Everybody has a better dad than Ted.
  • Lem’s dad’s last words were that he loved Lem more than all the stars in the universe and Ted’s dad once got kicked out of a zoo for giving a monkey a cigarette.
  • “It’s a disaster,” says Phil. “It’s a debacle,” says Lem. “A disastacle,” Phil says, with a great word to go alongside “magniflorious” and “horrivific.”
  • “See? I know things about stuff.” – Ted, after correctly using Einstein as an example
  • The only thing the class president does is go to student council meetings and feed the gerbil.  “I don’t even know if I want to win. The gerbil’s kind of a jerk,” says Rose.
  • “I want to bring him to his knees. No, I want to steal his knees. Can we do that?” – Veronica, about her dad (Sadly, she is told that joint-stealing technology is still years away)
  • “Whales are shallow twits. All they do is gossip and spread rumors. It’s like talking to teenage girls.” – Mr. Palmer
  • Rat, bat, hat, then a cat: proper order of testing at Veridian
  • The way Phil gets all nervous and faint when Lem says no to Ted is very Mymanesque
  • “We are not mad scientists, Ted, regardless of what our bowling shirts might say.” – Lem
  • “I’m gonna get you bowling shirts that say ‘Boss-disappointing, protocol-loving unlegendary scientists’.” -Ted
  • Phil walking the last potato back to the case is also very Mymanesque
  • “Why are you throwing your dad out of the building?” – Linda “He says he’s dying.” – Veronica
  • “I hate Dutch blend. And the Dutch, too. Those people are lunatics, with their wooden shoes and their fatty sausages.” I think this is the first time Veronica expresses her dislike of the Dutch, but it won’t be the last.
  • “At least now you have something to talk to your sister about besides all her stupid babies.” – Mr. Palmer
  • “It’s okay, Linda. you’ll get through this.” – Veronica to Linda when Linda says she’s sorry Mr. Palmer has cancer
  • Veronica and her dad mirroring the other couple in the park, only to find out the other couple is together
  • “Is it terrified in here, or is it just me?” – Lem
  • “Well, it’s not gonna shave itself.” – Ted, when Veronica asks if he’s shaving his office furniture
  • Those are some really fantastic bald wigs on Phil and Lem


Veridian Dynamics. We’re working hard to make your life better. But our competitor, DigiVation, wants to ruin your life. Since DigiVation was founded 50 years ago, millions have died. Millions more have become sad. What’s your problem, DigiVation? Veridian Dynamics. Good. DigiVation. Bad.

Ideas/Inventions mentioned in this episode (some alongside DigiVation making them, too):

  • 7-year battery
  • Hovershoes
  • Weight-loss toothpaste
  • Wrinkle cream that turns out to be hair growth formula that turns out to be technically a parasite
  • Genetically engineered flying koala bear

Coworkers named/seen:

  • A couple more lawyers (? maybe?), but no names. This episode was all about family

Next week: S01E12 – Jabberwocky


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