The Adventures of Pete & Pete

The Adventures of Pete & Pete was like the last couple days of summer or at least the early days of thanksgiving break, and boy did I love it. It went and did all the things you only thought about doing as a kid, or at least, doing what you did to the Nth. Adults want you to stay after school? Stay there forever! Has oppressive bed time got you down? Join the "Nightcrawlers," stay up forever, and break the "International Adult Conspiracy" (governed by those suffering from hemorrhoids). School getting dull? Fake a sickday, or better yet, go for a "double dipper!" Left home alone? Sell the house! Of all things ginger and flannel cap, you couldn't beat this. From the rock band on the front lawn to the cutting of the grass with the approval of the lawn gnome, it was capital-R Radical, and true to what a brother relationship is like. I know, because this was pretty much my life as well.

So let's start out with the "Brothers Pete." Nobody was wiser than that spacey teenager with the denim and curly hair (named Pete) who narrated every "adventure," and nobody was downright cooler than his younger brother (also mysteriously named Pete) who could man his own ham radio station (WART), collect burps in a paper bag, wield a blow torch, and drive a riding mower to Canada. But then there were all their weird friends and enemies, first of all Ellen, older Pete's lifelong girlfriend, who dared to ask "why?" and played french horn in the marching band formations, scoring the "dot spot" in the word "Squids" (in Roman Gothic font, no less). Then there was also young Pete's lanky-armed "personal superhero" Artie The Strongest Man In The World (who was at least the strangest man in the world). After that there was Dad, who dreamed of catching the prize-winning fish named Bob, and Mom, who had something to do with why the drive-in movie phonebooth had been ringing for 27 years (until young Pete saved the town from its endless ringing and finally answer the call). "Mom, it's for you."

This show had a whole cast of surreal characters. Even the metal plate in Mom's head was a character (named "Mom's Plate" in the opening credits), picking up radio transmissions and frequencies that would cause her to break dishware, as was young Pete's hot chick arm tattoo "Petunia," who he could make "dance" by flexing his muscle (but who "never made into movies"). Then there was Ken the smoking crossing guard who had seen one too many spy flicks, Monica the "Kreb Scout of death" who never owned a pet that hadn't died (all 30 of them!), and Mr. Tastee the ice cream cone man who ruled the summer with an edible fist. There was Ray the Meter Man electrician who could see the future based on your house's kilowatt hour usage, Stu the love-crossed psychopathic school bus driver who tried to kill them all, Wayne the "Super Genius," and the British gym class teacher whose tyranny called for the great Dodgeball War after young Pete's insurrection.  Then there was Pit Stain, who really had a way of "picking your scabs," together with his crumby gang of bullies: Hair Net, Drawstring, and Nightbrace. Young Pete even had a personal "guardian angel of underwear" named "Inspector 34."

Watching a show like this for all three of its seasons could teach you some valuable lessons. For example, that the song "Marmalade Cream" was pretty hardcore. That there is nothing strange about cowboy neighbors branding their lawn equipment like cattle. That a hot summer day really can melt road tar and car tires. That kids who eat a lot of ketchup are definitely space aliens. That getting out of being grounded for life is as easy as tunneling through the yard with a string of Christmas lights and a mantle piece Statue of Liberty (symbolizing your freedom!!). That "Roadkill Bingo" can make a road trip more memorable. That pet geckos with a "lust for life" can play mini-Foosball. And that scissors definitely beats Papercut because he only throws paper!

I suppose the big lesson about the show though was just the brother relationship, and how the "Brothers Pete" could live in two totally different worlds and yet still jell (even if young Pete still needed a fresh supply of oxygen at his bedside after sharing a bedroom with his brother). The older Pete would be off doing the stuff teens do like hanging out with "girls" and working summer jobs (at the golf course and swimming pool) while Pete the younger would be doing all the cool stuff like launching the neighborhood "prank war" or traveling back in time on daylight savings (with the power of "Riboflavin") to exact revenge on the bully "Endless Mike Hellstrom."

This was adults vs. kids, kids vs. bullies, and "kids just being kids" stuff at it best, and it made you believe. Watching it now makes you realize just how innocent (and messed up) you were as a kid. More than sheer entertainment, the show has given me a very large collection of insults and minced oaths that I draw on from time to time in my daily life to "lay it down," so to speak. Such phrases as "get a life brain drain!"  "stuff it jerkweed!" "bust my clamps!" "suck my fumes, nimrod!" "oh poke me with a stick!" and "take that, lunch bag!" all really do the trick. And seriously, who can argue with such classics like "choke on it, tool box!" "kill me with a brick!," "cheese plug!," "no chance, wingnut!," and of course: "buckle up, it's not just the law, it feels good!" You said it younger Pete, nothing feels better than total subversiveness, and that's what this show was.

"Bite my scab!" --Paid for by the Committee to Give Pete the Bowling Ball.

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