Mission Hill Episode Guide - Episodes 1 - 4
1. "THE DOUCHEBAG ASPECT" (Or, "Pilot Episode")
Andy French is a young, single guy working at a waterbed store in a city called Mission Hill. He goes to visit his parents in a nearby suburb before they move to Wisconsin, and to pick up his pet dog Stogie to bring home with him. But there he discovers they intend to have his younger brother Kevin go with him and finish high school before going off to college. Andy is not at all thrilled with the development, finding Kevin to be completely irritating.
After humiliating Andy at a nightclub, Kevin decides to lighten up. So at a party Andy throws in his apartment that night, Kevin gets very drunk and makes a complete fool of himself, muttering nonsense and dancing like an idiot.
Meanwhile, Kevin and his girlfriend Gwen are in his bedroom about to have sex, when he hears Kevin is still making a fool of himself. Despite Gwen's insistence of leaving him alone, Andy sighs with resignation, "he's my brother," and goes to take care of Kevin.
In the morning, Kevin has a massive hangover and lies in the bathroom, with Andy watching over him. Gwen is understanding of the situation and leaves, promising to see Andy later. Kevin decides being like Andy is too difficult, and on Andy's suggestion, decides to just be himself.
I caught this show by accident one night, and I immediately became hooked. The dialog is very funny, the characters are likable and the actors are great. Posey and Jim are especially noteworthy, Posey with her spaced-out breathy voice and Jim's always mellow, laid back monotone.
I also found the art style and colour scheme of the show to be very unique and eye-catching, like some strange new age art, animated. The colours are all bright, but usually pastel-like or muted, and objects in the background are not coloured within the lines.
The most standout moments were Kevin's scene in the night club as he humiliates Andy, and Kevin's drunken dancing and muttering during the party (where the colours took on a surreal shade of black and blue).
2. "GREAT SEXPECTATIONS" (Or, "Andy Joins the PTA")
Andy, at Kevin's behest, goes to parent-teacher conferences at his school. There, he meets Miss Peck, a former marine turned teacher. In order to impress her, he joins the PTA to prove he's a responsible parenting figure and ends up organizing the upcoming school dance.
While all this is going on, Posey gets involved in selling organic vegetables she has grown on the roof. Her initial attempts to sell them fail, simply because most people don't see a demand for them. However she slowly finds her niche, and ends up forcing a rather shrewd deal from the owner of the local convenience store, much to his chagrin.
Kevin meanwhile, begins playing an online computer game with Toby. When Toby falls asleep at his computer and causes enemies to ravage their fort, Kevin sells Toby into slavery (in the game that is, not real life). This does not go well with Toby, who carries his anger back into the real world and swears he will have his revenge (in the game).
This causes Kevin to become paranoid, and he vigorously guards his fort, which means he won't go to the dance. Andy drags him, wanting Miss Peck to see Kevin having a good time that Andy was responsible for. At the dance, Kevin and Toby spot each other, and they race home to get to their computers to kill each other in the game. Unfortunately, Kevin falls into a sewer and Toby beats him to it, slaying Kevin's video alter-ego.
The situation at the dance also falls apart, as the students get drunk off spiked punch and Kevin staggers back, bruised and filthy. Andy and Kevin walk back home, with Andy carrying Kevin, muttering how nobody is around to appreciate his good deed, except for Kevin.
This episode had three simultaneous subplots, with two of them interweaved closely. As a result, they tie up together in the end quite nicely, adding a hint of cleverness to the episode that would've otherwise been just a series of laughs.
The Andy subplot has a few good laughs in it, especially since he contrasts so much with the other parents in the PTA. As well, you see how the teacher Mr. Czelanski is really quite degenerate himself, with his drinking, smoking and seeming devil-may-care attitude. And the final scene at the dance is quite funny, which crashes all of Andy's mistakes and desperate actions all on his head at once.
It's actually pretty funny that Posey, the spaced-out hippie chick, turns out to be quite the business woman. Other than that it provided a few decent laughs, but it was a pretty minor subplot.
Kevin's subplot was also good for a few laughs, and it does serve as a good parody of online role-playing games, which have consumed the lives of thousands all across the world. Despite Toby's anger, he's powerless, or at least chooses not to, do anything about it in the real world besides carry the anger with him.
3. "PORNO FOR PYRO" (Or, "Kevin's Problem")
Kevin takes over for his friend George at the local corner store while George takes time out to study. Unfortunately Kevin finds himself distracted by a pornographic magazine and goes into the bathroom to 'enjoy' it. Meanwhile, in his haste he didn't realize there were still two people in the store, punk kids from his school. They take the opportunity to loot the store but find Kevin 'enjoying' the pornography in the bathroom. In a panic, Kevin attempts to burn the evidence but accidentally sets fire to the entire store, with him trapped in the bathroom.
When Kevin comes to, he finds Andy very concerned and relieved he's alright, but also finds the police have arrested the two punks who robbed the store. More surprising to Kevin is they are being charged with attempted murder and could get sentenced to 25 years to life. Nobody is on their side, while Kevin is constantly praised. This causes the guilt to gnaw at him until he confides in Andy, who gets angry at Kevin for his unwillingness to confess the truth only because he is ashamed to admit he was looking at pornography.
Meanwhile, Andy sees a growing trend of people, including his roommate Jim, wearing vinyl hot pants from Japan that are in bright colours and have cute animal faces on the back. He hates the fad, but soon finds himself being ridiculed for his inability to keep up with current trends.
On the day of the trial, Kevin is on the stand, and reluctantly brings himself to lie that the two punks did do as they were accused. As he is about to step down, the statue of justice turns into the woman he was ogling in the pornographic magazine. She 'convinces' him (I won't spoil how) to confess the truth, and his admission causes everyone to laugh at him.
Andy then steps up (now wearing the hotpants) and gives a speech about how Kevin should not be ashamed to look at smut, because he convinces everyone to admit, that they do too. As they leave the courtroom, Andy, now wearing the hot pants he hated, finds it is no longer 'cool' to wear the pants, since the fad has now caught on with everybody.
It's good to see some more depth to the characters. Even though Andy and Kevin fight, a lot, both physically and verbally, they deep down do care for each other. After all, they're brothers.
The subplot with the hot pants (or 'kurai pantsu', as they're called in their original country of Japan) is pretty funny too. It satirizes the fickle nature of fads, and about the whole idea of 'mainstream' and 'sellout.'
I don't want to give too much away but it's just very funny how this whole scenario spirals out of control, with everybody supporting Kevin and absolutely nobody standing up for the two punks. Kevin's left with quite a dilemma, and a sense of guilt that's gnawing away at his resolve to keep the truth hidden. It's quite interesting to watch as everything turns in his favour. And of course, the nameless 'smut' lady who acts as his conscience, is quite funny and almost poetic, because despite all the good that's happening, he's still got that nugget of truth he has to face. The way Kevin's fantasy woman 'convinces' him to confess is both hilarious and a bit disturbing. You'll have to watch the episode to see what it is. And Andy's speech at the end is very funny, and while it may be true (not that I'm revealing anything about my personal life), I wouldn't rely on it to get out of a jam!
4. "THE BIG-ASS VIACOM LAWSUIT" ( Or, "Andy vs. The Real World")
At first, Andy and Jim hate it when the network comes in and ruins their neighbourhood, with boom mike operators and cameramen wandering everywhere to film the people from the house. Andy decides to go in and sabotage the production, but when his efforts cause one of the people to get hurt, the show hires him as a replacement. Andy accepts, and is soon swept up in the show, which alienates him from his friends and neighbours. When he tries to escape, he finds himself trapped.
Then, it's up to his friends and neighbours to bail him out with an elaborate scheme. They succeed in grabbing Andy and all the tapes.
The tapes are now being watched by the whole neighbourhood, who have gradually wandered into Andy's apartment. Andy is humiliated in front of everyone, who burst into an intentionally uplifting (although ineffective) chorus of REM's "Everybody Hurts."
This episode was very funny at the beginning, but I feel it kind of lost some momentum in the middle. Still, it's a pretty good satire of the Real World and of the reality-show genre in general. Personally I can't stand those TV shows so I love it when anybody gives them a good ribbing. And you know, maybe this episode is not too far off in how much calculation, manipulation and marketing go into these shows.