Season 4, Episode 1
Date of airing: September 23, 2016 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.662 million viewers, 0.29 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.28 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.30 rating with Adults 25-54. 0.61 rating with Females 12-34
With a new title, a new location, a bunch of new characters, a new (and kinda creepy) high school, Maddie in college, and Liv doing… I don’t know what she is doing, because the episode didn’t go into it at all — Does it mean the show is gonna change? This episode definitely had a bit of a different tone and vibe, but that was just because the new characters had to be established, and in a way I was missing all the established Ridgewood folks. There might be a chance for some guest appearances here and there, but I’m not gonna hope for it, although Artie somewhat made it into the end credits of the episode (and I hope he will never do it again this way). I just wondered if the writers were actually able to recapture some of the magic of the recurring characters of the past three seasons, especially since the newly established characters had to be compared to the ones already established. And a three-year history is a major one to go up against.
And that brings me to say I didn’t quite like this episode. This was not a new car smell episode, this was an episode that has been painted with new colors, and the smell of paint is not a pleasant one. Ruby was an okay-ish new main character, and I, ehm, sorta love the new sorta-sisters chemistry, but the writers could have had that through three years of LIV AND MADDIE, by having Liv or Maddie or both connect with Parker to be the big sisters they wanted to be in this episode. It happened once or twice in the first season (I can still remember the slumber party episode), but the writers needed to focus a little too often on the Parker/Joey chemistry, which was annoying at times, as well as absolutely ridiculous and void of all kinds of tension or emotion. I guess the same will happen in this season, which was already show to be the case by having Parker and Joey attend the same creepy high school, while Liv and Maddie had to deal with the emotional fallout of having to keep secrets with their new sorta-sister. What I wanna say is: I wished the writers would give Parker and Joey something to do, instead of putting them into sitcom-y plots literally all the damn time. It’s like they have their own lives and their twin sisters aren’t even involved in any of it.
I was surprised to see that Aunt Dena wasn’t part of the main cast though, and instead the writers brought a new kid character to the table. It’s a fact that Benjamin King, an adult cast member, was replaced by a kid cast member, because apparently shows on the Disney Channel needed to be invaded by kid characters. Dena not being considered a main character was a bit of a shame, because I was hoping to get a bit of a Karen/Dena chemistry. The episode was working on giving Ruby a lot of time with Liv and Maddie, but Karen had a sister in this episode, too. Karen and Dena were not of worth for the writers?
At least I was amused by the appearance of the Falcon. Joey in a leather jacket was two stops short of becoming Jess Mariano, and I was chuckling a few times, when he started to talk and his mesmerizing words were actually affecting his new classmates. I was surprised to find out though that Parker didn’t try to ruin Joey’s newfound confidence by ratting him out, or even just saying that “Pucker” is the Falcon’s little brother, which might have given Parker some credit, even after being a self-centered little brat during the laser fair. But yeah, the entire BOOM school was creeping me the hell out. There can never be this many nerds in the same room without the planet going to shit. Also, I feared that the little bit of realism the show still had would be shot out the window with this episode, because now the writers needed to make fun of nerds. Plus points for focusing more on the science through Parker’s hobby though — now he isn’t the only one on the show doing scientific and technological things, now he has an entire classroom to spit around ideas with.