Liv and Maddie (“Brain-a-Rooney”)

Season 1, Episode 8
Date of airing: November 10, 2013 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 3.006 million viewers, 1.8 rating in Households, 0.597 million viewers with Adults 18-49, 0.47 rating with Adults 18-49

It was not particularly hard for this episode to be better than the previous one, but this episode happened to team up one of the twins with one of the boys, and that I always wanted to see in LIV AND MADDIE. And it turns out that Liv, the less smarter twin, would team up with Joey, the less smarter brother, and win a science competition that would have them both seem smarter than Maddie and Parker (who was missing in this episode, and I did not miss him at all) combined. Besides that, the introduction of Artie made the Brain Olympics a much better story than it had any right to be, simply because of the way Liv was seen as the girl in the group, who was not allowed to be the smartest, who was not allowed to carry the group through the competition, and who was only in the group to be the looker. Joey didn’t trust her to come up with a machine better than his, and Artie was only thinking of her beauty, and what to do with her, when the two are together in one of the alternate realities Artie has most likely been visualizing in his head. Oh man, it was absolutely necessary for the Brain Olympics to end with Liv winning the medals for her team, or otherwise the show’s message would have gone over everyone’s head, and not even Drax would have been able to catch it.

All Willow wants is a little more of Joey on her body.

This episode is most likely the funniest of the show so far, and I must say that the teenage-sexist Artie helped a lot in that regard. The rivalry-turned-alliance between him and Joey was already good for some laugh-out-loud moments, but I found it surprising that I even had to laugh a few times during Artie and Liv’s moments, even if I happened to be annoyed by the pause and unpause and repause moments, especially when Liv was unpausing to appreciate Artie complimenting her on her hair. At the end of the day though, this story showed that Liv managed to succeed in shelving off her character from Sing it Loud!, and to be seen as a smart young woman, ready to join the world as a geek, nerd or smart woman, who might even be able to join a sports team in the future. Not just for one episode, like she did when joining Maddie’s basketball team, but some sports that would show Liv to be more than just the probably-dumb bombshell she wanted not to be seen as in this episode.

Meanwhile, the backyard sale at the Rooneys was also interesting, leading to a whole different message about memories and hanging on to your past. While I was all kinds of amused about Willow buying everything that is related to Joey (just to continue the running gag that is Willow’s crush, which will never be reciprocated by Joey), I was especially connected to Maddie and Karen’s conflict over what to get rid of and what to keep, simply because the worth of memories is too high to just sell an object at a yard sale for less than a dollar. That whole story should have been a bit more of a joke though – Karen was already running after her priced possessions, so they wouldn’t be sold, but Maddie should have done the same. It could have been a duel of which Rooney was capable of keeping their object, and which Rooney would lose over losing their memorabilia for 50 cent. I’m still happy though that the story turned out to be a morale for Maddie learning something about the value of memories, and to never underestimate it, even if the object isn’t hers. Okay, that Karen would give Maddie the picture back was pretty much predictable, but it was still a nice moment between mother and daughter.

Liv calculates her chances of success.

Best part of the episode: The rover during the Brain Olympics made it for me. Someone give those kids who built it a job with NASA, because that was hilarious. When you can build a painting rover in two hours, you can land a human on Mars in the next 20 years.
Worst part of the episode: The fact that the Disney Channel was saving on money hardcore, as evident during Liv’s efforts to destroy Joey and Artie’s street credibility in nerd and geekdom. The extras that were with Dove Cameron during that montage could have been paid more for their work, if they had been allowed to say anything to make the montage scene more believable and funnier. But no, the network didn’t want to spend that money. No wonder Disney was able to buy 21st Century Fox.
Weirdest part of the episode: So, Willow essentially financed Maddie’s trip to Montreal? Why not just give that money to the woman herself, instead of “making an investment for the future?”
Player of the episode: The “Sisters by chance, friends by choice” picture maker, whose artistic talents were pretty much front and center during this episode. I’m pretty sure whoever in the art department of the Disney Channel created the piece wasn’t expecting for it to be part of the morale of the story here.

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