Mondo Extra
Black & White Television

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Michael Neal: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Mrs. Walsh is on the phone with the nosy neighbor about the alarm she still can't figure out how to shut off. Brandon scolds her to get rid of the thing. Brenda points out the obvious -- that if it weren't for their crappy alarm system, Sherice's friend would have never been bothered. Brandon then asks the alarm specialist, there to try and fix the problem, if security officers are required to fill out a report when they detain a person. "Yes" is the answer. A time lapse, and Brandon is hightailing it to Watts to find Devo at his place of work. Brenda is concerned for Brandon's safety and his glee at playing "Woodward and Bernstein" but he will not be deterred.

MC Junky Rap & DJ Laser Effect On A Keyboard play as Brandon cruises the hood. He parks his ride at the Tamale Hut and is immediately faced with three members of the Bloods and Crips youth outreach program. He stares entirely too long at them all, and they stare back. Look, if freaking Omar Little can get it, Brandon, then so can you. Lucky for Brandon, Devo shows up to save the day. He speaks to the others ebonically to get them to leave. This is the network Negro at his finest. He says things like "bounce" and "posse," managing to sound more like a black character in Fame than one from the 1990s. Brandon follows him back into the Tamale Hut. "You're Devo, right? Devo Damars? I'm Brandon Walsh. I'm a reporter for my school newspaper at West Beverly High." Devo angrily tells him to beat it, and the two go back and forth; Brandon is consumed with fairness, wanting to do what's right and turn a spotlight on this tragic event. Brandon's the archetype of the liberal crusader who believes he can somehow redeem the condition of this tragic black youth. Devo deliciously points out to Brandon that he is no more welcome in his neighborhood than Devo was in Beverly Hills. "That doesn't make it right!" screams Brandon. "It makes it the kind of world that we live in today," is Devo's retort. Devo finally brings up Rodney King, which I've been waiting for, but with a weird aside. "You know, that guy who got beat up by the LAPD," he adds. This is still a year away from the Rodney King verdict and the riots, but did America actually need that aside as a reminder, or is this just television dumbing it down for us? I suspect it's the latter, but if people weren't aware of Rodney King by this point, then no wonder there was a riot. It also occurs to me that this Devo character and his Mr. T earring supposedly occupy the same streets that currently blast Dr. Dre's first chronic album (a classic) and that turned Ice Cube into an existentialist.

Devo is more sad than angry about what happened the other night. He has a sizeable list of reasons to be sad, too. Let's see...his mother had to beg for cash to pay for a cab ride to Beverly Hills that night; two of his brothers are in jail; and his other brother is hitting the pipe. But he wants to make his mother proud and having her see him in a hospital, in a strange neighborhood, with a gashed lip wasn't part of the plan. Brandon sees the humanity of this Devo fella. The freeze-frame photo effect captures them in deep discussion. Look out, he's got a knife! ...No, he doesn't. It's Robbie, with his sister and Brenda. They drove down to find Brandon because they were worried. Sherice sprints past Brandon and into Devo's arms. He says something to her about hot tamales. Brandon talks to Brenda and Robbie. He isn't so sure about running the story anymore, but Robbie encourages him to write it and use some of his pictures. "I'd like that," smiles Brandon. So will the board of admissions at Stanford. "You know what I'd like, guys?" asks Brenda, a loaded question.

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Mondo Extra

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Mondo Extra
Black & White Television

Episode Report Card
Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
Times Change

Cut to that silly photo effect again, only this time it's Brenda taking a picture of Brandon with his arm around Robbie. They are both holding tamales. It reminds us all that black or white, rich or poor, we will all have to answer to the Latino vote sooner or later.

At the Walsh house, the full roll call of teens are hanging out in the living room, Robbie included. Luke Perry must have had to host Saturday Night Live that weekend, because Dylan gets only his second line of dialogue this episode: "Do you know how good your paper looks this week?" Right. Because Dylan is suddenly Bill Keller, paying tribute to the news. If there's one thing that the most popular, anti-establishment guy at a high school in the richest zip code in the country is impressed by, it's a nicely laid-out Sunday edition. He reads his favorite line from Brandon's article: "'It's when we stop looking at the human race as individuals we as a generation are in trouble.'" It's a perfect sentiment to stencil on the wall at a Barnes & Noble. Mrs. Walsh is at the front door, talking to that nosy, racist neighbor woman. The woman is upset that they decided to ditch their alarm system, but Mrs. Walsh explains that it isn't Neighbor Lady's concern, and that they have company. She shuts the door in Neighbor Lady's face and returns to the kitchen, where her husband and Mr. and Mrs. Ashe are shooting the breeze. They are all...getting along.

Later, Brandon's convertible comes across Sherice's convertible. They stop in the street to chat. Sherice is back together with Devo; it seems Brandon's article convinced her father that Devo isn't such a bad guy after all. They still do the flirty-eye thing at one another, but this time it's more collegial. The freeze-frame effect (AGAIN) gives us pictures of both of them in black and white, but no shot of Robbie afterwards to suggest he took them. The cameraman is either the unseen eye of the Lord, or it's a prowler -- probably a prowler. There goes the hood.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2007). Episode: "The N-Word"

Larry stands at the front door and he's calling for Auntie Rae, the Nawlins matriarch of a displaced Katrina family, the Blacks. Larry, kind soul that he is, has scrubbed away a patch of dirt near the side of his mansion so that Rae can practice her hobby of gardening, a favorite pastime for a woman who once teetered on the edge of poverty in the Ninth Ward. "Grow some lettuce, Auntie Rae," exhorts Larry, and the two hug for one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi... Auntie Rae breaks away in disgust at what is implied to be Larry's massive boner.

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