Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“End-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 15
Date of airing: March 24, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.302 million viewers, 0.29 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.28 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.64 rating with Females 12-34, 0.27 rating with Adults 25-54

Do you see how things work when you know you get to write a series finale? This was quite a touching episode — albeit with no humorous elements, but it was emotional enough to send off the characters onto their own paths and have them live their own lives. Interestingly, each of them could be served to the LIV AND MADDIE fans with a one-hour episode about what they were doing over the summer. Liv’s Broadway stint could work well in a mockumentary format (I kind of want to see the same with Hamilton, because all the documentaries I saw — well, just one to be honest — are not enough), Maddie’s stint in New Orleans to build Tiny Houses could be a project for a JUDGING AMY-ike show (when it was in its third season) or maybe even a reality-TV type program on HGTV, Joey’s stint as a comedian could serve well as a Comedy Central special, and Parker’s adventures in the biodome could be an entire movie presented by PBS’s NOVA or National Geographic — preferably without Pauly Shore though, because that film is still haunting me. It’s intriguing how the writers said goodbye to their characters by giving them the best option of life they could have ever dreamed of, even if those options couldn’t have been more privileged and white. LIV AND MADDIE ends with the characters taking a step into their futures, which is especially miraculous in Joey’s case, since that kid was a six-year-old crazy boy for three years and suddenly he gets to make a career in stand-up comedy.

Introducing the folks behind the cameras.

Still, I liked the series finale. When everyone said their goodbyes to each other — first individually, and then as a group — it felt like even I was saying goodbye to a family I have been following for four seasons now, and for a moment I was actually sad that the show closed up shop with this episode. While I had a few troubles with LIV AND MADDIE during its infant stages, I came to love the show for its spaced-up comedy, while I continued to hate the show for never doing anything with characters like Parker and Joey, who were always the clowns of the bunch. And while this was a proper series finale, there wasn’t really much story in it. Basically, every character (except the adult ones) got a send-off, because they decided to follow their dreams. There was no conflict to solve, there was no story to finish, and there were no couples to (re)unite. Maddie and Diggie were still a couple, only without a kiss (okay, they kissed once, which adds a third kiss to their series-long count); Joey and Willow were just friends (I was actually expect them to share a kiss or something, but I got disappointed); and Parker and Val were holding hands, which is probably the most sexed-up thing the Disney Channel could allow for a sophomore high school couple.

I did like the notion that the documentary team behind the camera was mentioned and depicted. Yes, LIV AND MADDIE stole from THE OFFICE in this episode, but it was nice to know that the writers also wanted to close out this story and explain why the interview sequences were happening, although it wasn’t an explanation I wasn’t waiting for, let alone was it necessary to explain the talking heads. Dump Truck binge-watching the show and experiencing the Falcon for the first time might have been considered the only story of the episode, but at the end it was a meaningless plot, because even in that minimalist story there was no conflict. Joey was expecting death and torture, but Dump Truck liked Falcon. And there it pretty much ended. I would have at least written in a moment, during which Dump Truck was teaching Joey how to be Dump Truck, instead of being Falcon. It could have been a 15-second scene, and it could have been a hilarious one.

There is one more romance to tease during the closing minutes of the series.

And finally, the closing scene. Of course it needed to be a song, and of course it needed to be an acoustic version of Better in Stereo — which I dug, by the way. Please, release a version of that song, and I will put it onto my playlist. The final revelations of the characters were lame though. I was expecting a couple of secrets that were mentioned throughout the show, but the writers cut that crap down extremely quick. But I also kinda liked that the episode wasn’t drowning in flashback-kinda moments. It was a very present-day episode, without memories and all that stuff, like the third season finale, which had Liv and Maddie reminiscing about three seasons worth of their lives. The fact that it was such a present-day episode needs to be applauded.

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“Voice-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 14
Date of airing: March 17, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.973 million viewers, 0.21 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.14 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.41 rating with Females 12-34, 0.21 rating with Adults 25-54

Okay, maybe the vocal nodes drama wasn’t the story that connected the final episodes of the show. It’s not like the writers didn’t know that this was the final season, and they could have whipped up some ongoing and serialized drama for the final few episodes, to make the viewers gasp and grasp on something before the curtains closed. Consider me disappointed that LIV AND MADDIE does not end with a three-episode arc involving one of the central characters’ future, but it does look like some of them at least have exciting futures in front of them. And at least Liv’s next career move was the connector of the final episodes, though apparently it happened with three different premises: the nodes, the chance to be on Broadway, and whatever the next episode might bring. It’s a good-enough idea, but I was hoping for a bit more from these episodes, especially since they brought Liv in a particular situation, in which there was barely a good way out of, because everything was relying on fate and on Adele references, basically.

Team Ginger is ready to kick your butt on the way to Mars.

But I did like that The Dream came together for one last non-performance. Even though that was just a way for Holden to blurt out that he visited college in New York, and with Liv possibly being New York-bound as well, maybe a rekindling was in order, and maybe a revival series will have Holden as Liv’s rocker band husband while she is doing what Idina Menzel does in real-life. I loved the image of a surprise that was The Dream, and I thank the heavens for one final appearance from Andie, who was always my favorite supporting character (mostly because she was the most normal one of the bunch). Anyway, Holden apparently wasn’t expecting to spend the day in Los Angeles though. He came to town to help Liv for a minute or two, but then he had to catch a plane back to New York, right during the moment he successfully reconnected with Liv on an emotional level — come on, the kid wasn’t even in town for more than five minutes. Hello inconsistencies, my old friends. Meanwhile, it was to be expected that Liv would get her voice back, and that she wouldn’t lose her singing career. Ending the show on that note would have been a suicide for some Disney Channel executives, though at the end no one would have cared. But the guarantee that LIV AND MADDIE will almost quite definitely end on a happy note means that Liv will get the Broadway musical. Which makes the series finale predictable already, and that’s no fun.

Meanwhile, the Mars Madness story was good. I love seeing Parker and Val together, doing things as a team and potentially as love interests, about to save the world from maniacs like Artie, and Artie’s presence in the story made me chuckle a few times. Team Ginger was actually great, and Evan’s change from evil Artie minion to Parker’s best friend was interesting to watch, although as predictable as Liv finding her singing voice again, because never was I thinking that Evan was truly evil and would stab his best friend in the back. By the way: Reggie failed in being Evan’s best friend back home in Stevens Point. How the hell did Artie get to Evan without Reggie stopping him? Are black characters not worth anything on the Disney Channel?

It’s time for another production group photo.

And finally, a few words on Stacy, the kitten. I’m pretty sure some people behind the cameras saw KEANU and wanted to steal the idea of the movie (which was an idea created for JOHN WICK, so the line of theft is quite big now, and who would have thought that JOHN WICK and LIV AND MADDIE can be mentioned in the same sentence?), especially the moment of Joey taking pictures of Stacy in various backgrounds. Also, it was noticeable that Joey Bragg was in love with the kitten. During one of the dialogue scenes with Karen, Joey was kissing the kitten while Karen was speaking. It looked like there was a lot of love between the pet and the human on set. No wonder, because who the frack doesn’t like kittens? Oh, you don’t? Then better get the next ride to Mars, because you don’t deserve to be on this planet.

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“Sing it Live!!!-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 13
Date of airing: March 3, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.001 million viewers, 0.21 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.14 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.46 rating with Females 12-34, 0.20 rating with Adults 25-54

And the series possibly ends with a threat to Liv’s singing career. I’m gonna take a hazarded guess and say that the story won’t be concluded in the next episode, but it will end in the series finale with an all-out happy end, because that’s what Disney Channel series finales probably are all about. Liv’s vocal nodes were an intriguing story, because they brought proper drama into the show, and there even was some tension during her final number on Sing It Live!!!, because there always seemed to be the possibility that her voice would crack on live television, and that the show would be ruined, her career would be shattered, and Gemma would not be happy, her career would be shattered, and maybe she would even have had a mental breakdown on set — a scene I would have loved to see, by the way, because I’m sure the writers would have found the funny way out of that premise, even though it kind of is a stupid one.

Only buy if you want your farts to smell like bacon.

I was wondering how many viewers watching this episode were thinking that Justin Timberlake would actually appear in this episode. When Gemma mentioned him, I immediately knew he wouldn’t get to be in this episode, and that the writers would have to find a way to keep him absent, because JT was too big a name to appear in a cheap Disney Channel show like LIV AND MADDIE, whose biggest cameo appearances were carried by aging TV personalities like Kevin James (The Rock showed up on WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE once, but that was before his Hollywood career put him into the superstar stratosphere). With that, I was wondering how many viewers of this show were hugely disappointed that Justin didn’t make it into the episode and hated him because of that, not realizing that the writers were just taking one random name out of the superstar bubble and decided to put it in here. The only superstar celebrity I would have expected to see here, maybe, was Miley Cyrus, but only as a thank you to the network which gave her the big break so many moons ago.

The premise of a live Sing It Louder!! episode was a neat one, though unfortunately the producers missed to think about whether to actually air this LIV AND MADDIE episode live as a little in-joke and as proof that the network and the show’s producers can actually deliver great television and that not everything the Disney Channel airs is cheap. Who knows, maybe they did think about it, but decided there wasn’t enough money in the show’s budget to mount a live episode three episodes short of the series finale. Still, it would have been an impressive feat if it had come to that, and the Disney Channel could have shown it was ready to do more than just cut down the budget of all of their television shows.

Voice-breaking cliffhanger ending.

While I didn’t get why Gemma was giving 30 seconds of airtime to Joey and Parker, I found their advertisement for their bacon briefs hilarious. I have never laughed this hard during LIV AND MADDIE, and not just because the entire scene felt like a genuine SNL sketch. Joey and Parker knew that it was a disgusting pitch, and even Gemma had to say that they were disgusting, but the idea of bacon briefs was so shrill, it absolutely worked in the tone of the show, and it worked with the characters. I was not expecting at all that the weak fourth season of LIV AND MADDIE would bring the best gag of the entire show. I almost hope the final two episodes would be similar, when it comes to the comedy, just so I can witness LIV AND MADDIE ending on a high note after I’ve had so much trouble getting used to the new setting.

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“Big Break-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 12
Date of airing: February 24, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.918 million viewers, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-49

Well, at least the writer were ending this show by giving Joey, one of the most loser of all brother characters on the Disney Channel, a place in the adult world. After three seasons I was wondering if the guy would ever get to know the workforce or ever gets to finish college, let alone high school, but the premise of him becoming a stand-up comic was actually a great one. It fits with his character traits and flaws, and for a guy like Joey it must actually be pretty easy to get acquainted with the stand-up comedy world. From there on it’s not far to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE or a 60-minute comedy special on Showtime or HBO, and with that the first starring role in a Judd Apatow comedy movie. In a way, Joey was starting his Hollywood career in this episode, when it was clear that he can not only do comedy, but also deliver jokes when they were sought after. I’m glad that the writers found a way to give Joey a rosy spot in the post-LIV AND MADDIE future, even if the story in the episode itself was kinda dumb.

When in California, all you can do is eat sugar and carbs.

Because really, Mickey was an asshole. You give new comedians a 3-minute shot on stage, just to have those new faces realize how harsh and cruel and deadly the world of stand-up comedy can be. You give those folks their 200 seconds of fame, so they can be booed off the stage and thrown out of the club, and that way they will never return and never think about doing another open mic night again. And if they happen to be a success with the audience, of course you’re gonna ask them back and get your money back this way. If I would be the manager of the club, I would give one or two new faces a three-minute shot during a two-hour stand-up comedy event every night, just to let the world see if they’re good or bad. That’s how comedians start, even if they are still minors. Hey, if a ten-year-old can make me laugh, make them a star! It’s cheaper than putting on a live show of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT or STAR SEARCH.

I was wondering what kind of material Joey was working on though. When he was doing his stand-up outside the club, did he even have some jokes left when he started doing his comedy inside the club? He just started his new career and dream, and he seemed to have material for a 60-minute special already. Maybe it would have been a nice idea to let Joey smell the failures of the business as well. Not all his jokes should have landed. But whatever, I wasn’t writing this show, so I shouldn’t be bitching and moaning about it.

This is the moment Joey became a mature person.

Meanwhile, the B plot was weird and predictable. I liked that Liv and Maddie were sharing a plot, but I couldn’t buy that the two would antagonize each other, just to be the smartest girl in the room and to show that fact off to the other. First of all, that story was going against the feminist and liberal morale of the show, in which everyone is equal to each other. Secondly, the twins behaved extremely out of character. Liv makes a salad instead of cutting the cake? Maddie throws her head (and apparently her shirt) into the cake, instead of being the smart girl she wanted to be? At least Parker knew what he wanted to do with his little experiment (hence the story being predictable), though maybe it might not have been such a bad idea to actually get into the science of the experiment a little bit. Liv and Maddie were behaving like animals throughout this episode, maybe Parker should have given some bullet points to explain the behavior of his twin sisters and give the audience actual scientific explanations as to why the twins behaved this aggressively.

At the end, the episode was sort of forgettable. The writers cared enough about giving Joey a financially secured future, but because that story was taking most of the screentime and morale, the rest of the episode needed to get into the mind of the viewers through the eyes, and out of it through the ears again.

Liv and Maddie (“Tiny House-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 11
Date of airing: February 17, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.012 million viewers, 0.18 rating with Adults 18-49

In which LIV AND MADDIE delivered another morale-of-the-story episode. And I must say I like the morale of LIV AND MADDIE more than I like the Cory Matthews’s morale lessons on GIRL MEETS WORLD, even though that is just my harsh opinion, because GIRL MEETS WORLD has a morale lesson in nearly episode and it tends to get annoying really quickly, in spite of me liking the remainder of the show. Also, the LIV AND MADDIE morale-of-the-stories weren’t sledgehammered into my brain constantly, and they were sweetened with a few jokes here and there, making things a little easier to accept. In this particular episode, the show was giving the viewers a lesson about metropolitan homelessness, in which a wonderfully nerdy freak like Val can prove herself as an architect who uses science to solve real-world issues, although for a second I found that a little weird because she wasn’t involved in Parker’s story at all. Then again, this episode has also proven that Val isn’t just here to be Parker’s love interest and instead be her own character. For once, one of the recurring characters in this off-beat season has been used for a different plot than the one the characters was originally conceived for. Also, the writers brought back Willow, and that after I thought the writers were about to forget all about the character since the whole thing with Joey.

The new model needs to put her chin in the right position.

Anyway, the homelessness story was neat. I could connect with it, because I have learned the lesson of “homelessness doesn’t look like the homelessness you’d expect to see behind every corner” multiple times, and not just because I work at a drop-in community center that also functions as a homeless shelter during evening and night hours. Every story about every homeless person is a different one, and every once in a while you find the ones you would have never imagined to see in this spectrum of life. People like Eddie can be homeless and you wouldn’t even know it when interacting with him, and I loved that his character was used for that specific morale, without going too deep into the tragic story of why he is homeless. Maybe the story would have worked better, if there would have been an emotional angle to Eddie’s back story, but it was the thought that counted, as well as the happy end of the story. And who knows, maybe the idea of building little transportable homes was an idea good enough for a viewer here and there, and they decided to make it a non-profit organization? I am however asking myself how tiny the house must be from the inside and how there is pretty much no room for a washroom, let alone a shower.

Meanwhile, I was entirely and completely amused by the boys’ storyline. Parker might not have had the best of ideas when dressing and behaving like a four-year-old, but I loved the deadbeat reactions of the ticket saleswoman. And then I couldn’t hold my laughter, when Joey actually had the best of ideas and decided to dress himself up with Parker. When Joey fell on his back because of the weight, I thought I just saw the funniest scene of the entire show. It was a ridiculously stupid joke, and an obvious scene to follow up on, but I still laughed. By the way, what do you understand under “5D”? There was a joke hiding in there somewhere, but the writers didn’t use it, which disappointed me a little bit.

Val is the master in geometry.

And finally, there was Karen’s shot in the world of models. It was not much of an entertaining story, and it kinda looked like the writers’ efforts to give Liv something to do in this episode. The photo shoot itself looked horribly fake, and the only salvageable moment was the one in which Joey and Parker decided to nope the hell out of the house after they were planning to get into it. Because even that story was one that ended in a very obvious way: Karen wouldn’t have given two craps about how her pictures were used, so of course she was thinking of herself as a professional model, even if it was her neck who was the star of the photo shoot. Predictable storytelling is predictable, but at least Karen stayed consistent as a character, which is not always a given on the Disney Channel.

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“Ex-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 10
Date of airing: January 27, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.213 million viewers, 0.24 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.17 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.55 rating with Females 12-34, 0.23 rating with Adults 25-54

Hey, there is an entertaining episode here, hallelujah! I didn’t even know this was still possible after I kind of felt bored and neglected by the show during the previous two handful of episodes. This half hour could almost be the best of the season so far, but by this point it doesn’t even mean anything. The show was not only dead already, because as soon as the fourth season started production, it was close to obvious it would be the last one, but also because the writers didn’t even care building up a new series universe with the California setting. The writers cared so little about it, they brought back Stevens Point characters for an episode, and so far the row of new characters hasn’t really been established yet, with Ruby being absent from this half hour and Val essentially being the only one from the recurring pool to get a bit more attention these days. There might not be a lot of chemistry between her and Parker, since their young portrayers will not be playing partners in a relationship at this age on this cable network, but I liked seeing the two together, successfully trying to work on a major problem that could have led to a prequel to LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, while also focusing on the science angle of the season, which is the only good thing about LIV AND MADDIE season four. By the way, if the show would have continued on, how long would it have taken for the writers to realize that the ability to put freshmen high school students into a romantic coupling was a thing they could have done? How long would it have taken for Parker and Val to share their first kiss?

Maddie would really like to have a fancy beard.

The one-sided switcharooney was a great story though. Seeing Joey trying to keep his only friend was a good-enough premise by itself, but involving Liv performing her second-best Maddie yet, was entertaining to me. I was expecting for Maddie to turn up at the restaurant though, and I was awaiting for the awkwardness to rise up and drown Joey, but when Maddie actually turned up and the story continued as planned, I was still entertained by it. If this would have been a completely ridiculous and off-beat comedy, Joey would have gotten a couple of shovels, and he would have holed himself all the way through the core of the Earth, and come back out of the ground in China. For a split moment, the awkwardness was explosive. I was disappointed to see though that the twins didn’t have that much of a twin code, because I would have expected that one or the other would never go out on a switcharooney completely by themselves. And that there wouldn’t be a bigger punishment for the guilty twin, if she happened to be caught, because I find that a one-sided switcharooney could be used for many things that would make the other twin less than happy. Just look a little closer at this story: If Liv’s, and therefore Joey’s, plan would have worked, Maddie and Josh would have been history forever, and Joey and Liv would have ruined a good friendship. That would not only have made Liv and Joey evil screw-ups, but Maddie’s emotions would have been manipulated by the other twin. Seriously, how did Liv even accept Joey’s idea and decided to pull the one-sided switcharooney? No sense, this story makes.

Welcome to the Disney Channel version of Little Shop of Horrors.

What I just realized is that the episode only had two plots. Which seemed like a miracle, considering the season has been build with three plots per episode. See, when some of the siblings happened to be involved in the same story, you get to spend some extra time with another story, and all of a sudden the episode felt more natural and real. This episode even had time to get into Jax & Max for a second, and I loved the writers for putting a little in-joke about the difficulty of producing content with an actor in a dual role. I was actually wondering what young viewers were thinking about how LIV AND MADDIE was made. And then I was thinking how their minds would get blown to shreds, when they were watching ORPHAN BLACK for the first time. It does get me intrigued whether or not the producers had thought about attempting the style of ORPHAN BLACK for a scene or two, but decided against it because Dove Cameron is not that great an actress to pull it off.

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (“Falcon-a-Rooney”)

Season 4, Episode 9
Date of airing: January 20, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.227 million viewers, 0.27 rating with Adults 18-49

And here is another episode in which one more Stevens Point character decided to make his presence known in California, because apparently it’s super easy for a senior high school student (which I assume is what Artie and his minions are) in Wisconsin to skip a week of class, travel to California with his three minions (do they have class? Do they have parents? Did Skeeter pay for the plane tickets? Was he pissed that he also had to fork over plane fare for Artie’s two minions?), and decide to be a pain in the ass for a couple of characters. I didn’t mind about the story, but it was a confusing one and not just because the black minion happened to find his voice and get a line into the episode, which I think was the first time any one of the minions spoke, although I could be wrong about it. I’m pretty sure the actor needed a SAG card real quick, which is why the writers and producers decided to be friendly to him. I should check out that young man’s IMDb page, because chances are that the guy found a couple of spots with other shows, now that he got a SAG card out of this episode, if he hadn’t one before this episode.

The big sister is bullying the little bro’s girlfriend.

Joey’s Falcon ruse was finally put into the ground, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. I was glad it happened with Artie front and center, and I was not shocked at all that Joey’s honesty at the end would even raise his popularity degree with his school friends, but it was a fine-enough story, because the Falcon persona died and Joey could at least be himself again: The kitty shirt-wearing, voice-breaking idiot who wouldn’t hesitate putting on a costume to look and sound even more ridiculous. I hope that will happen throughout the remaining episodes, because seeing Joey in the butter stick and robot and prank-proof outfits turned out to be hilarious in hindsight. I never thought I needed these archive footage clips. Especially that one in which Artie and Joey raced in the school hall. It looked like the writers were using the Falcon persona for that one specific reason, which is kind of great writing. I even dropped my jaw for a hot second because I could not believe that Joey was portrayed as someone who would steal something and then use it for himself, especially since I completely forgot that Artie established himself as a falcon during the rocket race many moons ago.

Meanwhile, I continued to like Val, but only because she brought Parker into a different kind of story. Finally he was a normal kid for once who just wanted to hang out with a girl he liked (and the girl happened to like him, too), and finally there could be a chance for Parker to be more than just the scientist whiz. But with six episodes remaining, there is basically no time for either Parker or Joey to become “men” in this show. I did however love that Maddie saw herself as the father of the family, when Parker came home with a girl. While the writers didn’t do anything with the tension between Maddie and Val (there could have been hilarious moments, but nothing happened), it was nice to see that one of the twins was involved in one of the boys’ storylines and that Maddie developed into a big sister for one of her little brothers, which is something she has been doing on a rare basis throughout the show. Those kind of storylines were always short to come by, and I would always be sad about it.

It takes two to perform this musical number.

And finally, a few more scenes from Sing it Louder!!, and now I was really wondering why the writers focused so much on the production of the show-within-a-show. I previously wondered why Ruby’s character was so mysterious about why she was at that boarding school (there was an entire scene about it in the previous episode), but now I was wondering what the hell was up with the threat of the school being sold to some random personality. It’s almost like I found myself more intrigued with the storytelling of the show-within-a-show, and it almost looked like the writers were trying to force the viewers into focusing on Sing it Louder!!, instead of the way the show brings Liv and Ruby closer together as sorta-sisters and co-starring friends on a musical television show. By the way, I loved the egg drop. I wished I would have had a creative class like that, because figuring stuff out should have been part of every class in school.