Wizards of Waverly Place (“You Can’t Always Get What You Carpet”)

Season 1, Episode 6
Date of airing: November 10, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.306 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 1.884 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.879 million viewers with Tweens 9-14, 1.110 million viewers with Teens 12-17

You do not always see behind-the-scenes footage during the end credits scene of a sitcom, but apparently the Disney Channel was telling the producers to do so, because the executives might have been scared that some nine-year-olds watching WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE would try to fly a carpet and fall out of a window to die instead. Okay, it is a lesson that needs to be taught in a country in which the intellect does not seem to rise with age (hence today’s Trumpism), but I was a bit amused about the message between the lines when the greenscreen scene was shown during the credits, telling the audience that the carpet-flying scenes were all fake and if you really want to fly a flying carpet, you need a greenscreen and some machine that makes the carpet move. Still, behind-the-scenes footage during end credits scenes could actually be a nice gimmick for whichever sitcom brings it first, or second, since LIZZIE MCGUIRE brought something similar first, even if it was not really behind-the-scenes stuff and instead just one or two bloopers. Granted, you most likely kill another minute of storytelling and viewers might change the channel already, but I always wanted to see more of how shows are produced, whether it is just a simple CG scene, or maybe even a fight sequence, or just the good old blooper reel.

Alex, do not play with your life support!

The episode was okay. I did not care a lot about what was actually going on in this episode, although I have to say that the father/daughter relationship between Jerry and Alex was interesting to look at. Her puppy face was pretty cute and the fact that he fell for it was amusing, but the writers could have done a little ore with the premise of a father being scared that his daughter is growing up to be an adult, soon moving out of the nest and leaving the parents home alone. That part of the premise was not even in the episode (because it really was just about Jerry being scared to teach Alex a grown-up thing, realizing that his little girl won’t be so little forever), but it would have made this half hour much better and more emotional. But hey, WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE just had its first real parent/child moment after six episodes (granted, this episode was produced as the pilot), and I was impressed, albeit only slightly. I am getting the feeling the show is getting a tiny bit better with each episode, but only during one scene, and only when some of the premise is being utilized.

Meanwhile, the writers also realized that they could play on the siblings relationship a little bit. Seeing Alex ask for Justin’s help was new to me, even for a show that’s only six episodes old, but it was an equally nice moment of seriousness and realness in the episode, and those are moments I want to see more of. It is also nice to see that WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE is another sitcom, in which the siblings actually love and appreciate each other, even if they pulling pranks. By the way, why was the premise of Alex and Max pranking their older brother not the main comedy pull of the episode? Come on, prank storylines are always funny as hell, no matter how idiotic the pranks are. There better be an entire episode about this in the near future, especially after the writers have established now that they do in fact pull pranks on each other.

Is it a weapon or just a toy for Max?

The funniest moment of the episode was the punch Justin received in his balls. Sometimes, white men just need to be punched for no good reason, to be reminded that they cannot just walk around life expecting to get anything they want. In this case: waking up Alex in the middle of the night without getting crap for it. Please, more of that. And I mean ball-punching in general. When I read one more time that men dip their balls in hot sauce to find out if they can taste it, all while the same men also write laws that governs women’s bodies, I will riot.

Wizards of Waverly Place (“Disenchanted Evening”)

Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: November 9, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.339 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 1.820 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.623 million viewers with Tweens 9-14,

I got used to the silliness of WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE, even if the show still did not quite know what it really wanted. I guess the show actually went towards being a hit either later this season, when the writers knew that it was actually a hit, or in season two, when the Disney Channel got bang-boom ratings with the production (okay, the first season, too). Maybe the show will be a bit less episodic and a little more serious at times then, because I would not mind if some events from various episodes would actually have an aftermath and the kids would actually learn something of value from all the messes they create and all the mistakes they do. Or supporting characters would appear more than once. And I am not just talking about Amanda Tepe.

Among wizards, men with dad bods have an opportunity for a quick modelling career.

This episode was okay. I am a space geek, so the trip to Mars brought me joy, although the joke of the Martians doing their Earth wizard thing was a little lame. In fact, I was expecting for Max’s face to be captured by the Mars rover, and for NASA to see Max’s face, but apparently that gag was not even thought of by the writers. If you already do not care about grounding the show and have the teens be on Mars without freezing to death immediately, or suffocating in the non-oxygenated environment of the planet, or get radiated to death, then just have NASA look at Max’s face on a picture the Mars rover took, let alone have the scientists look at pictures of the Russo living room, in which the Mars rover spent some time in. It’s a cheap and predictable joke, but would also have been a good joke. Anyway, at least the kids went to Mars and I was able to do some THE MARTIAN jokes in my head. Surprisingly, they all worked, even though the book and movie came a few years after this episode aired. Who knows, maybe Andy Weir was watching WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE when he got the idea for his novel? Maybe he wanted to “set the science right,” which this episode obviously threw in the trash for the sake of kids comedy?

TJ was an okay-ish character. A bit of a dick and an asshole at the same time, and thankfully not a love interest for Alex, which I was expecting at the beginning when she saw him use magic. Unfortunately, TJ’s appearance didn’t do anything to flesh out the universe of the show, let alone made him a kid with a brain — using magic out in the open… This kid must have begged to be discovered by a stranger and then put into an interrogation room led by some radical scientist who likes to cut open living beings that are subnormal. But TJ’s existence kind of established that there are more families of wizards in New York, yet it looks like they do not know of each other, which I find just a little bit strange. Also, this was the first episode in which the Russos were acting with another family of wizards. I would have thought that was something of a rarity (considering the Russos and Taylors did not know each other and were excited to speak about magic to strangers without holding back), but apparently that was not the case either, since the Russos and Taylors talked to each other like they were friends (okay, magic was involved, but their excitement should have “overwritten” the charm). If the writers would have taken the magic world a little more seriously, there could have been some great stories, but the magic is considered like a plot device in each episode.

Welcome to Mars, make friends with machines!

In this particular case, the Taylors were dropped into this half hour of television, because Alex, Justin and Max needed to go crazy with their magic and be emancipated wizards for a few minutes. It was a promising premise (heh, have those two words ever been used like that before?), but barely anything was done with it. Alex changed from a care-free wizard to a worried wizard during a split-second trip from Mars to Earth, and surprisingly Justin cared a little too much about the rules he came to love. And I cannot say there are inconsistencies in the storytelling and the characterizations, because the writers have not even given one shred of depth to the characters. I do not know if Alex is a good student or a bad student (she failed Spanish, but that is all we know of her), or if Max is a nerd or simply just a crazy boy (he liked being on Mars and even fixed the rover, but did not care about the school project). After five episodes, one might have thought that the writers have figured out who the characters were and what kind of stories they should be planted in. WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE does not depict that, which begs the question why the show was such a success.

Wizards of Waverly Place (“New Employee”)

Season 1, Episode 4
Date of airing: November 2, 2007 (Disney Channel)

Does Amanda Tepe appear in close to every episode as the manager of whatever establishment the characters find themselves in? It would kind of be a cool running gag, especially when the character she would play in each episode is actually the same one and she has been changing jobs between each episode. Hey, in this episode she even got a name, even though it’s her real-life name, so there isn’t anything newsworthy to write about. Still, I kinda love that running gag, and it would be pretty cool if the writers decided to make Amanda (or whatever her name will be) the Kirk Gleason of WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE, because even a Disney Channel sitcom can steal an idea from a show run by Amy Sherman-Palladino. And it would give this show a comedy element that doesn’t try to focus on the visual aspects of it, let alone on the childish stupidity of the teenage characters.

She is really sorry that she made a mess.

It was a pretty solid episode, and I tend to see in which direction the show was starting to go. After the previous episode’s chocolate drowning, Alex drowned in another food group, although this time she should have been frozen by the end of the episode, considering how much ice cream she was trying to catch with her bare hands and then with her mouth. Ice cream is freaking cold, she should have turned into Elsa or Anna, Queens of Arendelle! Anyway, it was another practical joke, another SNL-like sketch comedy moment, which I truly appreciate, even if the other stuff in the show never really works to the fullest. Still, I was glad that the Alex/Harper storyline wasn’t just here to have Alex ruin a perfectly good spell and deliver it with a morale of the week regarding magic and wizardry, because the story was about the potential of Alex and Harper’s friendship being finished. This wasn’t about a spell gone wrong, it was about two girls separating and finding each other again — as if the writers have learned from shows like CHARMED and SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH, with their usual spells-gone-wrong-of-the-week storylines. One final note though: Seeing Harper throwing plates of food from behind the counter onto the tables of the customers was ridiculously magical, and once more I was wondering if no one even recognized that there was something supernatural going on. This world wouldn’t recognize there is magic when people’s loved ones turn into donkeys right in front of them.

This is Justin’s gang, they will pull your underwear over your head.

Meanwhile, Justin’s story was kind of boring. Apparently the writers really wanted to get some New York/Jersey mob boss humor into the show, having completely forgotten that this is a Disney Channel sitcom, and that kind of humor does not work, since the target audience won’t know what this all means. The only moment I loved about that story was Justin introducing his three underachievers, with one of them having a police record already. The story also sort of showed me that Justin is perfectly capable of having friends who might be out of his league entirely. I mean, he was hanging with the jocks of his school, an he is anything but a jock. Then again, the show hasn’t fully figured out yet what it wanted to be (so throwaway storylines were put into the script), and the characters haven’t gone through any kind of development yet. Remember Justin’s girlfriend? I’m about to forget her in a few episodes. Remember Lily, Alex’s biggest nemesis? Where has she been since the premiere episode? Her two nose job followers could have been a great running gag, but the writers dropped that one immediately. It’s almost like they weren’t interested in building a world full of supporting characters, who could appear a bunch of times throughout the season.

Wizards of Waverly Place (“I Almost Drowned in a Chocolate Fountain”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of airing: October 26, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.226 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 1.703 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.257 million viewers with Tweens 9-14,

So, what did it take for Selena Gomez to actually almost drown in that chocolate fountain? The scene was quite hilarious, albeit dragged to death, but it was a pretty entertaining three minutes or so that probably would have made all kind of chocolate lovers happy. Alex was putting her mouth into all kinds of chocolate Medium Rare had to offer (so, this restaurant was not a meat place, but a chocolate place that also serves nachos?), and even I wanted to eat some of it. Especially that one piece which was formed like a glass and strawberries fell out of it (or I think they were strawberries — the copy of this episode was not high-def enough for me to see what really fell out of it), that was almost like heaven to me, and I say that as someone who maybe should stay far away from chocolate and all the other carbs. But yeah, the scene was incredibly stretched, and I didn’t really need Alex doing the chocolate angel in the middle of the chocolate fountain puddle. By the way, why didn’t she do a proper chocolate angel? It was weird to see the move with her arms, but not with her legs, and it could have been a much funnier moment, if she had done a real chocolate angel while also giggling like she is on a sugar rush, which she should have been after devouring close to everything chocolate Medium Rare was putting out.

Watch out for this little guy, he has teeth!

Meanwhile, the writers finally started to have Alex be into boys, which after three episodes is kind of a record for the Disney Channel. It only took them one episode and nine-tenths out of the previous one for it to be a plot device, which might even mean that the writers have Alex go from one (group) date to another, before one pretty-looking boy with hair who is not from the 1980s lands in this show and gives the teenage audience waiting for a couple to ship something for their money. I was surprised though how the group date was pretty much just the setup for the chocolate joke. A possible date just being the preamble of practical comedy that went on for a little too long? Yeah, I definitely was not expecting that.

In addition, this episode kind of eradicated a possible inconsistency from the previous episode: After the whole do-over sandwich debacle, I sort of believed that Theresa had no idea about the magical lives of her family members, but this episode made it seem like she did know. Jerry mentioned the risk of revealing magic to the real world happened in front of Theresa, making me end up in the land of the confused. Either the previous episode simply just had a bit of a misunderstanding with me, or the writers still didn’t know what to make with WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE in general and how to portray magic in the show. The show is definitely all over the place (so was SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH in its beginning, but the stories were more streamlined) at the moment — as if the writers tried to figure out which kind of comedy suits the show best. After all, this episode had its first physical and practical comedy set piece, which could have been golden on a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE episode hosted by Melissa McCarthy (suddenly I have flashbacks to a sketch like that, but I don’t know if chocolate was involved, or just condiments), and so far it didn’t look like the show would even use sketch-like storytelling.

Know how to get drunk on chocolate and you’re good for Saturday Night Live.

And finally, the elves looked a little dumb. Yes, it was the year 2007, and the visual effects only needed a greenscreen here, but for some reason I was rolling with my eyes. Maybe it’s because of the unused possibilities of the premise, or because of the inconsistencies in the story: The first elf goes mad crazy and turns into an earthquake in his little box after eating chocolate, but Alex’s Spanish elf was pretty chill after having bitten her. So, maybe the elves needed to bite someone to stay calm? I kind of would have loved a moment of Alex’s purse apparently on speed or something…

Wizards of Waverly Place (“First Kiss”)

Season 1, Episode 2
Date of airing: October 19, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.733 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 2.221 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.958 million viewers with Tweens 9-14, 1.114 million viewers with Teens 12-17

Lucy Hale’s guest appearance made me wonder how many teen stars from the early 2010s and future movie stars from 2020 and later were guest starring on this show. It’s not like Lucy is a no-name on television (I would consider her a B-lister), and although I didn’t recognize her at first in this episode, I was happy to see her name in the credits. Five seconds later I forgot all about it though, and I won’t care about it ever again. So, Lucy Hale guest starred in a Disney Channel sitcom? Okay, that’s a little bit interesting. Until Orange Hitler Donald Trump comes with the newly developed scandal for a takeover of social media at least.

The sister always gets in-between her brother and his dreams.

This was a solid episode. Apparently the magical world is established, but I still don’t know anything. Except maybe that the wizards are living in secrets, and maybe even in front of Theresa? She was apparently very confused by the sandwich guys from the New York Mets (Mets Mets Mets) treating “To The Max” like it was anything they have ever eaten before, which means she didn’t even know that the do-over spell was at work. Which means she is not part of the magical world, which means her husband and her kids have been lying to her the entire time. But then again, the premiere episode had her mentioning painting part of a wand with lipgloss, so she must have knowledge about what her family is doing, and besides that it would be hella hard for the family to keep their magic a secret from the matriarch, especially when Alex is ready to use magic whenever, as evident in this episode, when she unpacked the do-over spell eighteen times. But hey, at least the magical world is a secret in this series universe, and that means the writers were able to work with the “secret blown” premise at one point, with the world knowing all about wizards and with the Russo being in danger (can such a dark premise even be part of a Disney Channel sitcom?).

The story of the episode surprised me. Watching the first episode, I believed that the guys will never have girlfriends, and Alex’s story will mostly be about boys. Well, I was wrong after only one episode, because Miranda is the first girlfriend, and Justin was the first Russo character to have made the step towards kissing, and WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE took only two episodes to get to two kisses depicted, which is something LIV AND MADDIE needed years for. Now I’m actually hoping that Miranda will be a recurring character for a few episodes, or otherwise the story in this episode was a bit of a waste. I mean, you give him a girlfriend here, but the girlfriend won’t return ever again? The idea that Harper has a crush on Justin is okay, albeit a bit of a troped-up story (Alex’s best friend has a crush on her brother, and I’m over here yawning), so there is at least one premise various Disney Channel shows have stolen from each other. Only one scene was extremely weird: Why would Harper be such a crazed girl and drop her smoothie on Justin? That would make Harper a very crazy woman, and if she and Justin would ever get together, people would have to warn him about her.

The mother is always happy when her big boy finds a romantic partner.

I was surprised though that the writers got rid of Alex’s first-kiss storyline this easily and quickly. She just walked up to Matt, put her lips on him, and it was all over. I did laugh a little, and then I was stunned — such a stereotypical teen sitcom premise, and the writers throw it away with such rigor and G-rated violence. I didn’t mind, but it left me speechless for a few seconds. Maybe it showed that WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE doesn’t care about the general teen sitcom tropes though. And I would definitely appreciate that. The show has been a success for Disney Channel, and there had to be a reason for that. Maybe it’s because the show was different from the rest of the teen sitcom field?

Wizards of Waverly Place (“Crazy Ten Minute Sale”)

Season 1, Episode 1
Date of airing: October 12, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.949 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 2.385 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 2.437 million viewers with Tweens 9-14, 1.340 million viewers with Teens 12-17

Was this even a pilot episode? Or was this not the official pilot, and the Disney Channel just threw in a random episode that has already gone through post-production and editing, because the network needed to air the show already? The only element that could make this episode the official pilot of WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE was Alex’s talk about how Gigi was her nemesis from the beginning, and how she wished to exact some revenge, which could be the beginning of the first-ever multi-episode story arc of the show. That was all exposition talk, besides being somewhat of a dumb story, because you should never exact revenge on a poor girl whose life you don’t know anything about. And after the first 22 minutes, I certainly don’t know anything about Gigi’s life, so maybe you shouldn’t bully her, even if she’s a bully herself.

Just kidding (sort of). Back in the day, before Disney+ came to be and before I got the chance to throw my eyes into the basic cable network’s productions from a time where I didn’t even bother with the Disney Channel, I was hoping to get into the show at some point after I have finished both LIV AND MADDIE, as well as GIRL MEETS WORLD, but after I finished both shows back in 2017, I wasn’t particularly interested in another Disney Channel sitcom. About a half year later though, I was, and I don’t even know why. Selena Gomez wasn’t in the news, the show wasn’t released in high definition somewhere… It just came to my attention again and I thought I should finally go through it, since it has been on my list for a little while now. This is how WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE turned into my fourth attempt at a Disney Channel sitcom, now with extra time to watch it because of the studio’s new streaming service. And I sort of liked it. It was dumb and sometimes terrible, and it’s noticeable that this was (one of) the first episode(s), because probably not even the producers thought what the show was going to be about.

The old times with lipgloss wands were the better ones.

So, let’s count the premises. It’s obviously a story about a family, who happened to live in a G-friendly world Harry Potter wished he could have lived in. It’s also obviously a story about being a teenage girl, because there is nothing that was more important than getting one over your teenage rival in the fashion department. It might also be a show about middle school or high school (whatever the characters are in, because this episode definitely did not establish that), which could be right up my alley, considering the comical high school stories on LIV AND MADDIE were always to my liking (despite Joey’s annoying antiques here and there). It could also be a show about siblings, and how their parents were trying to raise them, which could be boring, because I can already see how Alex’s brothers will be used for schemes and dirty plans, instead of morale lessons for the young viewers. And who knows, maybe it will be about friendship as well. Alex and Harper could be a dream team, similar to Miley and Lily, or maybe even Maddie and Willow or Liv and Andie or Lizzie and Miranda. At least I hope they will, which means Harper will have to learn about Alex’s magic talents very soon. Well, here’s a story already…

I did find myself laughing partially throughout the episode though. The idea of Alex splitting in two, so she can waste her girl talents during the sale, was amusing, especially when her father was about to discover the realness behind the quiteness of Alex’s copy. I smiled when he gave her the chance to skip class and go to the sale, and then I laughed when he was waving his money right in front of her, and the copy wasn’t moving at all. I guess waving around money can be considered a trick now, because when a girl or a woman doesn’t move after you promised her money, then that girl or woman must be fake or a copy. Or does not have a brain. Anyway, this was the funniest moment of the episode, which doesn’t say a lot though, since that moment was neither filled with quippy dialogue, nor physical comedy. It was just the idea of money not waking up a girl who needs money. Then again, this episode seemed to have established that WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE wants to be a show that focuses on physical comedy — the thing with Alex’s clone, as well as Alex’s antiques during the ten-minute sale were pushing to be a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE sketch, and that could be right up my alley as well.

Warning: Glass may break with your face pressed against it!

I was rolling my eyes as well though. Alex’s whirlwind appearance in the store made me question whether no one noticed there was a tornado inside, or if the world of magicians and wizards was actually established in this series universe. Do people know wizards exist? Or does Alex and her family have to keep their talents a secret? It would have been nice to get an answer for that question, because it would have established what kind of show WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE will be and actually is. I could imagine that the Disney Channel wasn’t particularly interested in repeating the initial HANNAH MONTANA premise about secrecy between girlfriends, but then again, every US television network likes to repeat the shows that work well. Just look at Hallmark, who always do the same kind of crap. Every Christmas the same premise turned into 20-or-so whitewashed movies. Which, according to Hallmark, starts in October.

I liked this episode enough to consider watching a few more, until I find out if the show is something for me. Granted, it already is something for me, because I was thinking about watching it for so long, but I even had difficulties seeing the good in LIV AND MADDIE during its beginnings, and I can see that WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE might be the inferior show here. But I believe things will change, when the characters are established, when the first ongoing storylines begin, and when the girls get their first boyfriends. And let me be a prophet for a second: Alex’s brothers will never get girlfriends, because that doesn’t seem to be part of the Disney Channel message. Just take a look at how long it took for Joey and Parker from LIV AND MADDIE to be cool with girl around them (or how the writers killed Joey’s relationship with Willow between the season break, as if it was nothing). Hm, maybe I should stop comparing this show with a Disney Channel sitcom that came much later…