Jack & Bobby
The Kindness Of Strangers

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The Kindness Of Strangers

Bobby sits in class, getting ready to take a standardized test, which is, we learn, to determine who in the eighth grade ought to move into Unrealistic High School's "Challenge Program," which is what my junior high school called GATE: Gifted And Talented Education. (For smarties. You know.) Bobby opens his test booklet as the music supervisor cues us the Stirring Violin of the #2 Pencil.

Over in THE FUTURE, David Paymer tells us that "McCallister didn't like to be tested." Do you get it? Do you? Because, with the testing? Isn't that clever? (The answer to that question is "no.") Paymer further explains that the first presidential debate was the biggest test of snoooooooooore. I am so over THE FUTURE. Where's the talking head who informs me that I end up marrying George Clooney and while away the rest of my days on Lake Como, drinking martinis and having my feet rubbed? When we get to that reveal, wake me up. Anyway, Paymer blah blahs that Bobby got to be in the big Presidential debate, and that Paymer really wanted him prepared. Really? I thought they just tossed the candidates in there and let them speak off the cuff on whatever they wanted. "But it's always what you don't expect," Paymer intones. I didn't expect this show to be so boring. It's on The WB! Shouldn't there be more heaving teenage bosoms?

"WHAT DO THEY MEAN YOU DIDN'T QUALIFY?" Grace screams at Bobby, back in the present. Woman! Stop with the yelling! You're going to get a polyp on your vocal cords and then you won't be able to talk at... On second thought, yell away. "You're brilliant," she tells him. Bobby eats his breakfast and waves his hands in the air like he just don't care, because...you know, he don't. Bobby is all about the mediocrity. The show is all about mediocrity, in fact. Grace points out that, if he were in "Challenge," he'd probably find himself in a room full of "[his] future best friends." Well, that's not manipulative. That's like telling me that, if I were to, say, go to the dentist for my long overdue cleaning, I would find that Dr. Silvera, DDS, had replaced his dental chair with Julian McMahon's lap. Bobby pretends he doesn't care about sitting on Julian McMahon's lap...I mean, "about his social life," and Jack saunters in and announces that it's just as well, because in Gym, the hot cool kids use the "Challenge kids as hockey targets." Calling them "Challenge kids" makes them sound like they ride the short bus. "Don't discourage your brother," Grace says. "Take off your shirt, Jack," I say. Grace then launches into Big Important Grace Monologue #1, which I am afraid I can not recap entirely due to the Four-Line Rule I so wisely instituted last week. I wish I'd done that on Dawson's Creek! My recaps would have been three pages long! And I wouldn't be typing with hooks now, having lost my fingers thanks to the carpal tunnel. I can tell you, however, that Grace's monologue is mostly about how education is good, and it includes the phrase "intellectual irrigation." Man, last time I had my intellect irrigated, it really stung, I can tell you that much. Jack reminds Grace that he did fine in his non-Challenging classes. "Well, of course," she snorts, and he tells her not to push him -- Bobby, I mean, not Jack himself, because God knows, Grace would never push Jack because Grace can't stand Jack -- and the two of them are about to get into it, of course, when Bobby has to play mediator again, and announces that he doesn't want to go into the gifted classes because he already knows where all his classes are. Well, this is certainly the kind of vision and reasoning I expect from my world leaders. Grace Four-Line Rules herself into another long speech about what a mistake he's making and then announces that she's going to talk to Bobby's teacher. Jack tells her, firmly, not to. And so she changes her mind.

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Jack & Bobby

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