BraceFace: S1, E12 “The Pickford Project”

When I rewatched the series in the past, this was one of the episodes I had difficulty finding online so I’ve only seen this episode at least twice. This is a camping episode and I’m not a fan of camping episodes on TV shows. They just bore me to tears. I appreciate the change of scenery, but that’s it. Let’s see how this one is going to fare against all of the camping episodes on TV shows I’ve seen in the past.

Today’s the day for the class field trip out into the wilderness. Everyone has their own reason to look forward for this trip. Some wanted to get out of class. This was always me when it came to field trips. No matter how boring the trip maybe, it was better than sitting in class. No surprise Maria is the only one taking the trip seriously.

Major Wong reporting for duty

She’s even dressed for the part.

Connor’s purpose for this trip is to become more “masculine”. He complains and finds it “weird” that he doesn’t have any guy friends. Sharon tells him he’s meant to be a “girl guy’s friend”. Yeah cause that’s all he is to you Sharon, isn’t he? And what is Sharon planning to get out of this trip? She’s hoping to come out of this more “transformed”. Whatever that means. So the teacher goes over the rules of this camp. No technology. No junk food. All they’ll have is an emergency pager, their camping equipment, a match, and a cup of sunflower seeds. On top of all of this, they’re given a list of items to look for and will gain bonus points. They also are expected to reach the Abandoned Hermit’s Hut by noon the next day. Whoever gets there first on top of the aforementioned bonus points might win themselves a perfect grade in Phys. Ed. All of this for a P.E. class?

Everyone has to drop off their personal belongings, but Connor gets to keep his video camera to get footage for the video yearbook (nice callback to “Driving Miss Sharon”). The other teacher (or chaperone) puts everyone into groups. Boys with boys. Girls with girls. Typical. And they’ll all be split into teams of three. I think I know where this is going. Alden, Brock, and Connor are paired up. Wait are they the only guys on the trip? Let’s backtrack, shall we? When they’re all on the bus and I see a guy in the background.

There's a guy there

When Sharon and the teacher are getting off the bus, I see another guy:

And another one here

This screenshot was hard to take because the guy showed up in the blink of an eye.

Hmmm….I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and say that they’re another Phys. Ed. Teacher and he has the other half of the kids. On to the review, Connor is excited to finally have some “male bonding”. He sneezes and the First Aid kit falls out of his backpack. Brock teases Connor and laughs at him with Alden joining in.

Dicks

Sharon and Maria are paired together and they’re happy to be working together, but all of that excitement goes away when they hear who they’re going to be paired up with: Nina. Nina complains to the teacher about being paired with them, but the teacher tells her to stop her whining and hand over all of her electronics, personal items, and modern appliances.

The teacher wishes them all good luck and Nina complains that she’s going to need it since she’s stuck with Sharon and Maria. Maria tells her to shut it since she wouldn’t survive without them. Nina says she can do it and Maria challenges her to lead the way. Nina swears that she can do it with or without them saying that she needs the marks. Maria is excited to hear that Nina isn’t doing too well in Phys. Ed., but Nina rebuttals saying that it’s hard to juggle a “demanding acting career” along with school. Sharon fires back saying it must be so hard being an extra. Haha! I’m enjoying this little cat fight between the girls. Nina, having nothing left to say, asks Sharon what does she know about the industry. Sharon and Maria-1, Nina- 0

Maria gets all preachy on us with the “We’re not doing it for this; we’re doing it for that” speech. Sharon agrees, but Nina isn’t trying to hear it and taunts them again.

Idk

With the guys, Connor is taping Alden talking about knots, but Brock calls bluff on what he’s talking about. Connor attempts to join in the conversation telling Alden that he hated Scouts, but Alden tells him he actually liked it. Brock changes the subject with his plan to scare the girls and Connor and Alden seem to be on board with this idea. Sharon is hungry and asks for sunflower seeds. Maria criticizes Sharon for skipping breakfast and knowing that they would be doing something like this. Sharon asks Nina to hand over the seeds and what do ya know. The bag of sunflower seeds are “defective”.

Defective bag my ass

Defective Bag, my ass.

Nina was able to sneak in some snacks of her own. Sharon pathetically runs over to Nina to get the snacks, but Sharon falls over. Nina laughs and walks away. I can’t believe Sharon thought that Nina was going to share her food with her. Just seeing her run over to her was hard to watch. They’re on their way to look for the Speckled Tree Moss, but Nina doesn’t care and thinks they should just go to the hut. Nina brings an unauthorized map and says that they can take a shortcut. Maria protests to the idea, but Sharon says that they have no choice.  The chaperones for this field trip did a really shitty job at making sure all of the kids got rid of the unauthorized items. Brock plans on scaring the girls with his arm-pit, farting noises. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? Pfft. That’s like some 2nd grade-level shit. Alden tells him to stop so he can read the compass. Connor discovers some pinecones and the guys debate over who could have done it. Brock thinks it’s the Bushy-tailed, black squirrel, but Alden believes it’s impossible for an animal to do this.

pine cones

While looking for the moss, the girls come across a bunch of trees making it impossible for them to find the moss. Nina and Maria blame each other for them being behind. It starts thundering and Maria, who’s on a tree branch, nearly gets hit. Jesus. And thanks to the thunder and Sharon’s braces, the pager and the compass are fucked up so the girls are screwed. Sharon starts calling out to Maria and finds her huddled in fear behind a bush.

Maria is afraid of thunderstorms

The tough, I’m-not-afraid-of-anything, Maria Wong is afraid of thunderstorms. One more reason for me to like Maria. While I wouldn’t consider myself scared of thunderstorms, I have a strong dislike for them. Nina taunts Maria for her fear of thunderstorms and decides to be the leader of their group. Nina forces the girls to walk across this rope-like bridge. They have no choice since they’re two hours behind because of Maria’s freakout. Maria has no problem getting across, but Sharon’s a nervous wreck. Meanwhile, Brock and Alden are goofing around while Connor seems to be the only one taking this thing seriously. While Maria and Sharon get through the bridge, Nina just so “happens” to find another bridge. A less precarious one at that. Seriously, fuck this bitch. Sharon accidentally falls and is holding on to the bridge for dear life.

Sharon hanging for dear life

We cut back to the guys where they discover more pinecones like the ones from before. Connor starts to tell them about some urban legend about the hermit and how he was raised by squirrels. Brock calls bullshit, but Alden clings to every word Connor says. Connor explains the pinecone mountains that they’ve discovered is the hermit’s way of warning people that he was hungry….hungry for flesh and he’s probably in the hut waiting for them. Now, Brock is scared for his life as well. Now we’re back to Sharon clinging on while Maria tries to cross the bridge to help Sharon, but Sharon loses grip on one of her arms so she’s hanging on by one hand. Just as Maria is about to grab Sharon’s hand, Sharon falls into the river. The currents carry Sharon away, but Nina grabs Sharon’s hand just in time. Oh, I see. This is one of those “the antagonist may be a bitch, but she has a heart” kind of moments. Nina pulls Sharon out of the water and comforts her.

Nina comforts Sharon

The guys enter the hut and are creeped out except for Connor. They find something flying around and when Connor lits a match, they discover it’s nothing but a bunch of butterflies. Meanwhile, the girls have set up camp for the night and Maria is trying to start a fire while Sharon attempts to get warm from the cold water and Nina gave Sharon her skull cap to keep her warm. Nina dries off Sharon’s coat with a hair dryer. Once again, the teachers did a shitty job confiscating the students’ belongings. Maria tells Nina to cut the dryer off and Nina rubs it in Maria’s face that she saved Sharon and Maria couldn’t. Maria rightfully tells Nina that this wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t lie about the rope bridge being the only way to go and knowing that there was another bridge to take. Sharon tells them to stop fighting and they stop. Sharon thanks Nina for saving her life, but Nina seemed to be only worried about getting bonus points. You didn’t really think Nina turned over a new leaf, did you?

The guys are in their sleeping bags set up in front of the fireplace. Alden teases Brock about being afraid of the butterflies. Connor joins in on the teasing saying that the butterflies are being used by the hermit to spy on them. Someone enters the cabin and it’s Mr. Hoffoff (?) (The teacher from before. Didn’t mention it earlier, but what kind of name is that?) and he congratulates them for being the first to make it to the hut. We cut back (all of this cutting back and forth is a bit annoying) to the girls and Sharon tells Nina that she didn’t chop her dolls’ heads back in second grade. Maria eavesdrops and can’t believe that Nina is still butthurt over that. Yeah, I said the same thing in my review of the pilot episode. How are you still upset over something that happened in elementary school? You guys are almost in high school. Move on. Nina tells Sharon that the eerie thing is that it was her favorite doll. It had an English accent and her name was Jalinda. English accent, you say? I’ve seen the entire show (aside from missing 7 episodes because they were impossible to find online at the time) about 2-3 times so I already know why there’s so much emphasis on the doll having an English accent. You’ll find out when we get to the episode, but it’ll be a while before we get there. Maria is getting annoyed with them going down memory lane and rightfully reminds Sharon all of the horrible things Nina has done to her.

The next morning it seems like everyone except the girls has made it to the hut. I see guys here and Mr. Hoffoff is the only teacher besides the other woman from earlier. So there isn’t another P.E. class.

Nina is hoping that they’re not last, but Mr. Hopoff tells them that it’s true. Nina gets pissed, hands the moss to Sharon, snatches the pink skull cap off of her head, and blames them for bringing her down.

What a bitch

I’m pretty sure Nina was just doing all of that for appearances and to publically humiliate them. This isn’t to say that she wouldn’t do it if there weren’t people around, but I felt like she was exaggerating her anger for appearances and to humiliate the girls, esp. Sharon. Sharon, who just doesn’t get it, tries to remind Nina about how much fun they had last night. Nina blows her off saying that she can’t believe she bought that (I can’t either, but this is Sharon we’re talking about) and says that all of that was her practicing for her next role. Once again, it’s obvious she’s overreacting for appearances.

Poor Sharon

Poor Sharon, but Maria sticking her tongue out is hilarious.

So Sharon learns that you can’t ever know everything about everyone including yourself and you can’t change everything at once. Ah, see more guys on the bus.

Oh look more guys

For a camping episode, this was a pretty damn good episode. Typically, camping episodes on TV shows are always about appreciating nature and spending time with your friends and loved ones. I like that this one deviated from the norm, which made me like this episode so much. There was a much different meaning from this one. It was interesting to see Sharon, Maria and Nina having to work together despite the first two being enemies to the latter. I know I talk about Connor getting left out of everything so it was great to see him come out of Sharon and Maria’s spotlight and shine on his own. Although I didn’t really care too much for the subplot, it was nice to see the chemistry between Alden, Brock, and Connor. They all worked well together and it’s such a shame we don’t see them interact like this in future episodes. Connor seemed like he really enjoyed being around the guys despite it looking like Connor wouldn’t mesh well with them in the beginning. I do like that we got a callback to the pilot episode about the dolls. We got more background on that and like I stated before, all will be revealed in a future episode. You know it’s not a review if I don’t talk about what I didn’t like. Middle schoolers on a camping trip. Who thought it would be a brilliant idea to send a bunch of 12-13 year olds by themselves in the woods? And all of this was for a P.E. class? It seemed more like a biology/ecology class since they had a list of items to look for. I get that they had emergency pagers provided to them, but did anyone notice that Maria, Sharon, and Nina were absent? No one called a rescue team for them. None of the teachers did a head count to make sure that all of the students were there. Irresponsible teachers. Never let this guy be a chaperone for your kids’ field trips. I understand that Nina saving Sharon was supposed to be a “the bad guy has a heart” moment, but it didn’t come across as such. Nina was still being her bitchy self and she even admitted that she only saved Sharon so she wouldn’t lose bonus points. She even rubbed it in Maria’s face that she couldn’t save her best friend. Nina was just unlikeable throughout the episode. I also hated how Sharon was so stupid to believe that things would change between her and Nina. I get that Sharon is grateful that Nina saved her and she thinks that them going down memory lane would mean that things would be different, but she shouldn’t have been so gullible.

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About rosecoloredglassesreviewer

Just a 20-something year old who loves writing and critiquing 90s/early-2000s TV shows. NOTE: I don't hate the shows I review. I enjoyed them as a child and I still enjoy them as an adult. My issue is with people who are blinded by nostalgia and believe that the shows they grew up are the best of all time and who believe today's shows suck.
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