Dawson's Creek
Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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Annoying Mr. Shack
So is it me, or is it Hollywood? I mean, am I the only one who finds himself consistently and repeatedly rooting for the villains -- arch, witty, intelligent, and stylish -- to triumph over the alleged heroes -- usually a whiny collection of brats whose unfounded sense of entitlement frequently eclipses any actual personality traits that could be considered admirable? Take a look at Disney cartoons: Eartha Kitt, Jeremy Irons, and James Woods versus David Spade, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Tate Donovan. I mean, can there be any question as to which team's banner we should be waving? I'm just saying this as advance warning for my recap of the Kevin Williamson-Katie Holmes vehicle (and that vehicle is a rusted-out, stripped-down 1972 Chevelle sitting on cinderblocks in the "Godawful Estates" trailer park) known as Teaching Mrs. Tingle. The title, if you weren't aware, was altered from the Congressional-Task-Force-on-Teens-and-Violence-in-the-Media-unfriendly original, Killing Mrs. Tingle, because of Columbine and all. Because violent titles lead to violent kids. You remember that horrible rash of matricides following the release of Throw Mama from the Train, don't you? I've read that the ending was changed, too. Again, they claim it was the whole "violence" thing, but I suspect that the original ending featured Helen Mirren just sitting in front of the camera, crying and shrieking, "What have I done? What have I done to deserve this? Please, somebody, put me out of my misery! I just needed to keep my work visa valid. I had no idea it would result in such torment!" for fifteen minutes and it didn't test well with preview audiences. Anyway, some Jewel-sounding woman croons about "trying to try" and "waiting for nothing" and other offenses to the ear of anybody who, like me, prefers evocative lyrics that make sense. The camera pans through a room full of trophies, certificates, ribbons, and books. Obviously Williamson got a larger budget for "props that indicate high-school intelligentsia" than the director of Varsity Blues. The camera lands on Leigh Ann "Joey II: Return to the Wrong Side of the Tracks" Watson, busy putting the last touches on what appears to be a summer-camp advanced leatherwork diary project. Mom wanders in, wearing the drab colors of the only job working-class women in Hollywood's America ever have -- the diner waitress. Mom is exhausted from pulling a double shift, but comes in to swoon at Leigh Ann's project anyway. Mama Exposition asks Leigh Ann whether she'll find out about her scholarship today. Leigh Ann tells her not until after finals. She'll only find out her class ranking today. But she did find out that her grant and loan applications were declined. So she's pinning all her hopes on a single scholarship. I'm going to avoid extended comment on this ludicrous contrivance -- for now. Not because it isn't completely and utterly stupid. There's only one scholarship for which she is qualified? But because issues like these have been discussed ad nauseam on the Dawson's boards over similar nonsense on that show this season. I'll only add that you practically have to be in prison for a felony to not qualify for even a small college loan.

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Dawson's Creek




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