Lost in Space (“Ninety-Seven”)

Season 2, Episode 10
Date of release: December 24, 2019 (Netflix)

As expected, Ben sacrificed himself. As expected, some of the recurring cast died, but replace “recurring” with “main” and switch “died” with “probably died, but if the bitch really made it into the Jupiter transport, then all hell is gonna break loose.” Although I really have no idea how the writers are going to explain Smith’s survival and how she made it into the Jupiter transport without a suit. Granted, having Smith be the only adult in the room with all the kids is an intriguing premise, and if Smith really survived, this better be a great story in the eventual third season, but there have to be some really big deus ex machinas present for Smith to have gotten out of the airlock with an undamaged suit, before the robots woke up, and then made her way to the Jupiter transport. And the writers really made sure to let Smith survive the season and get into the next one, as the suit Maureen saw was empty. So of course she made it out somehow, even if I would love it if she sacrificed herself (to give the colony at least a couple of minutes of a head start). LOST IN SPACE does not even need Dr. Smith at this point, as it has created a lot of other plotlines it can follow, without having to carry along ballast from the original series.

Maureen is a split second before death by evil robot.

This was a good season finale, although it did deliver the usual season finale moments for a show like that. There have been quite a few VFX shots that made the entire episode look like a solidly budgeted feature film (the special effects heaviness of this hour may have been a reason it took 20 months between the releases of both seasons, as they look meticulously animated for a television show), there was a robot army acting like insects crawling into their new ant hill, there has been robot to robot action, repeating what the viewers wanted to see ever since the first season finale, when Will’s robot and SAR were smashing each other left and right, groups of characters were separated and left hanging in cliffhanger endings, Will at one point said the word “danger” and the very last image of the episode brought a new story into the mix, which will then most likely not be followed up on. The first season made such a big deal about the symbol the robot drew, calling it danger, but then it just turned out to be a star system with a couple of planets that have rings on them which looked like those were the homes of the robots. Okay, it was definitely danger, but the writers waited until this episode to make the robot’s “danger” star system shine, and that makes the first season’s cliffhanger a bit useless in hindsight. I am not expecting anything more from this cliffhanger, and I am definitely not expecting that the Fortuna has any survivors inside. Although I did notice there was a light on somewhere (close to the right end of the spaceship), so maybe someone actually lives there? Does it mean we will have a father/daughter reunion soon?

Ben sacrificed himself quite quickly, which means he was sequestered to the curse of recurring characters sacrificing themselves and be forgotten five minutes later. The characters were dealing with a robot army on the Resolute and no one even talked about Ben, let alone was I given the chance to mourn the character or think about how brave his sacrifice was. That happens when the writers retire characters in the beginning of an episode that has way too much going on for itself, especially when Ben’s death was overshadowed by the appearance of all the red lights in the close distance. No time to mourn a character, we already have to hold our breaths for the incoming robot attack.

Will tells you to stop right here and listen to him.

The rest of the episode was essentially the same: Robots attack, characters are running away, and in-between you get shots of emotion and reminders that this is still a family TV show and that nothing too dark can happen. Judy creating a plan to safely send all the kids of the Resolute to Alpha Centauri was sound though and I liked that it had a slight emotional fallout and that none of the parents were rebelling against separating from their children. That makes it easier for all the kids to be in their central plot with the third season, dealing with the Fortuna and whatever happened to the planet the ship orbits, but it also makes LOST IN SPACE a worthwhile show to hope for the best in humanity. And with Judy becoming their captain and leader, she grows out of being a Robinson in the search for a place in the medical world, becoming a more meaningful character in the process. Now, if only Penny would have gotten that job, but I guess she is going to write part two of the book over the break.

The return of Scarecrow was neat. I hoped it would happen and I hoped that Will having two robots on his side now is the “start of something big,” as Penny put it, but I am a little worried the writers did not know what to do with the robot race and whether to give them a back story as well. Right now they are just here to give Will one or two of them and have the rest blow up to pieces in big action set pieces. But what I was interested to know during the climax was why Scarecrow would go against his fellow robots and how a robot’s mind is being changed, just because a kid was talking to them. Not that I am expecting a big story about some robot rebels fighting against robot generals who want destruction and death everywhere while the rebels just want peace and unity with all the races in the universe, but with Will’s robot and Scarecrow, there have now been two robots going against their race without explanation. Who knows, maybe hanging out with humans too long infects them with empathy and love, although Scarecrow did not get any of that during its life as a prisoner under Ben and Hastings.

Seven Days (“Peacekeepers”)

Season 3, Episode 2
Date of airing: October 18, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 3.6 million viewers, 2.5/4 in Households

This is a perfect episode for when you need help to fall asleep after your big holiday dinner feast. Two seasons and two episodes into the show, and the production delivers an episode that could have been any episode of SEVEN DAYS in any season of the show, of any of the decades this show could have existed. The producers move into some boring backwoods of British Columbia for a few days, they find some random tunnel that looks like it had been used in the show before, and they set up the usual silly shootout and explosion mayhem that rather dragged the episode to its end than making it tense and action-packed. The best example of this is the fact that the Serbs did not immediately blow up the truck in the new timeline, which is what they were doing in the old timeline. But I guess you cannot just do what you were doing in the old timeline, when there suddenly is a main character standing right beside the truck and he was not allowed to be killed off this way. SEVEN DAYS always employed convenient storytelling, but this episode kinda baked, took and ate the cake in one swift move.

Parker only wears American during his outdoor missions.

The episode was pretty boring for other reasons as well. First of all, it was obvious that Donovan would decide to stay with the team — the season just premiered, and the show just got a brand new opening intro, which is not gonna be changed, just because another cast member has decided to step down (the fact that Sam Whipple is credited as “Special Guest Star” means he is about to be on his way out, although in his case it was the cancer diagnosis he got before or during the summer hiatus and which killed him two years later). Secondly, the action sequences were incredibly lame. The Serbs were not putting mortars on the trucks or the refugees, and the Serbs were too lazy to storm the tunnel from both sides and make sure that everyone dies quickly and the money is theirs. Thirdly, the Serbs apparently knew about the money all along. Couldn’t they have just taken it before the episode eventually happened to be? Couldn’t they have just killed the refugees in there and stolen the money? One of the characters talked about the Geneva Conventions and the notion that the land was not belonging to the Serbs just yet, but that did not stop them bombing the refugees and do whatever in the church during the old timeline. Besides that, the Serbs as depicted in this episode were criminals, murderers, they could have thought of something to make it seem that the church was theirs and never had anything else to offer but dust and blood. After all, the building looked like it had already been bombed multiple times before the episode even began.

Besides that, I was rolling some eye about the way the characters were behaving throughout the episode. Take Donovan, Morales and the refugees for example, who were taking cover behind the truck, yet Donovan was shot by a Serb who had him, Morales and all the refugees in his sight, which means the good guys were not covered at all. The same goes with Vladek, who popped out of the tunnel with a machine gun in his hand, listening to Major Danevic giving his final warning to the Americans — so, the Serbs did not see Vladek put half of his body out of the tunnel and were completely and utterly surprised they were shot at? And of course there is the thing about Parker’s almost execution. The ring leader was dragging out his countdown for his men to shoot, just so the episode can go for a commercial break and Donovan has all the time in the world to prepare himself in the bushes. There was quite the long sigh coming out of myself during that moment. Even Parker knew that he would be saved after the commercial block, because he never looked like he was about to face his maker through a bullet in his head.

Taking good aim at the bad bastards up the hill.

The only really good part of the episode as near the end, when Grubbs and Morales decided to go back, play the heroes and die fighting. Even though it was a huge cliche that they would change their mind, after having been on a treasure hunt these past one or two days, and get killed while being the good guys for once, there was at least some kind of emotional depth in the episode, even when it was wasted within five seconds during the remembrance part of the story. What would have levelled the episode up though is if Morales and Grubbs would have been the good guys from the beginning, and the entire mission was simply just getting the refugees out. Yes, they could have been there for the money in the first place, but when they saw the drama, they took matters in their own hands and decided to become heroes (and then take the money). Even though that would have killed an entire story filled with conflict material, at least the writers would have found some time to give more attention to Donovan fighting a war he so desperately wanted to fight in, and the episode would have been more grounded and less boring and sleep-inducing. Because really, I was rolling my eyes even more when Grubbs and Morales turned into slave drivers, watching the refugees carry the money into the tunnel. What was missing in that scene to make the American soldiers even more evil was a freaking whip.

Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Episode 6921)

Season 2020, Episode 4
Date of airing: January 7, 2020 (RTL)

This show is making use of the idea of someone having objections to a couple getting married at the altar, and it is using that idea before Nina and Robert even had the chance to get married. As a new viewer (of this decade and apparently of the century, as I might never even have watched an episode of the 2000s before I quit some time in the 1990s) I can already say that it seems impossible for Nina and Robert to get married, when a) the writers were already putting all their mighty effort into Leon being the couple’s ultimate and early doom, and b) the wedding would have been hyped and teased and romanticized before it happens, but you cannot do all three of those when another person has been added to this relationship. Besides that, it is what romantic storytelling in soap operas is all about: If you think that two people in love have it too easy and they were having the greatest time together, throw in an obstacle course and see where that brings you within the narrative.

This is for social media!

Leon was acting a little weird throughout the entire episode. Granted, I have no idea what his connection with Nina is and how far their back story goes, but apparently the bearded man only needs to hear once that she is in love with him and suddenly he is getting kicked out of the orbit of life. Okay, his run through the woods and his standing outside Nina and Robert’s apartment to cool down and think and luckily see that Robert just left was a great way to put character before story with twist, but if Leon gets his head twisted and turned like that, then how easy can he be manipulated in doing whatever his current partner wants from him?

Meanwhile, the Vlederbag story continued and it gave me the necessary amount of comedy that I needed to find access to the show again. First of all, the name of Emily and Sunny’s store is ludicrous and for that name alone they deserve to never be successful in their leather bag selling careers. Secondly, Gerome Charles is a bitch and every time he treats waiters and restaurant workers the way he treated Maria, all he deserves is bad luck and a posse that records all his bad behavior, ready to be leaked onto the internet for everyone to see how shitty Gerome is. I can only hope that this was Gerome’s second and last appearance on this show, although maybe he would make for a great dumb villain for an extended story arc — one who thinks he has everything under control when it comes to creating buzz and hype for certain fashion businesses, but one who never realizes that he is being undermined and constantly kicked in the balls by two women. Villains need to be punching bags for the heroes every once in a while, and Gerome Charles seems like he is the right kinda guy for that role.

Leon runs away from the greatest love ever felt.

Then there was the story of Lilly potentially saving a homeless man from angina, and it reminded me that I probably have not even met half of the regular characters of the show yet, which means the next couple of episodes will continue to throw at me new characters I have never heard of, involved in stories I do not have any back story knowledge of. And while I have no clue what went wrong in Lilly’s recent past at her job that got her suspended from the hospital, seeing her going straight into action mode on the cold streets of Berlin brought me two things: One, she is desperate to work again and she very much creates a situation out of nowhere, just so she can prove she still has it in herself (lucky her that Norbert really had angina). Two, maybe the writers made a date with an actual doctor to get the medical dialogue correct, which means the people behind the cameras of GUTE ZEITEN, SCHLECHTE ZEITEN do research, and I don’t think that every soap opera currently on the air worldwide is doing that. Whether it was correct or not I do not know. Usually I would get the help of ER in cases like these, but the medical drama has been of the air for a decade and half a year and I have not watched anything related to medicine in German language for a decade and a half.

Lost in Space (“Shell Game”)

Season 2, Episode 9
Date of release: December 24, 2019 (Netflix)

When I was thinking that the mutiny would run its way through the final three episodes of the season, I believed that a more elaborate story arc of a band of heroes versus a bigger band of villains would be exciting enough, especially when the Robinsons lead the heroes against Hastings’ band of antagonists. But the mutiny arc was only one episode heavy, and with its conclusion near the finale of the previous episode, the writers needed to find another way and a different premise to fill the season finale with. And as it turns out, I kind of like the more personal and emotional story the writers have chosen. The Robinsons are doing their thing almost by themselves, Hastings grows more and more into a villain who likes to be recognized in the history books (that is a super white explanation for his actions), and Will’s own story with the robot is turning into something that defines friendship and that could bring a new premise to an eventual third season, in which the characters have to deal with an emotional bond between two alien races (humans and robots). For now, only the colony on the Resolute had to deal with Will’s connection with the robot, but when he manages to succeed his mission and help Scarecrow, not only does the chance grow that Will calls two robots his friend (and vice versa), but other colonists outside the twenty-fourth colony could learn of what happened here. And again, this could make Will the most important human being in the history of this show’s universe.

There are eyes everywhere in this universe.

I also believed for a couple of episodes now that Ben Adler would never turn out to be an adult Will and that the writers would bring time travel into the show, like the 1998 movie did in a twist during its third act. I believed that may happen when Ben got introduced, but I stopped believing in the twist during his trip with Will and Maureen on the amber planet (it is so nice of the writers to call the planets by their color or what element is in abundance). This episode made me believe in future Will again. “Will and I… we’re the same,” Ben said. “I used to be him,” he continued. And in addition, Ben knew where Will and the robot would go during the Robinson kids titular shell game, which means there is more to Ben and Will’s relationship than meets the eye, with the writers heavily impregnating that picture in this episode. I still do not think that turning Ben into future Will is such a good idea though, and not just because it is a twist taken from the movie. But if the writers just wanted a character with Ben who looks like an ally at first, then turns into a villain, and finally realizes what he must to do save the Resolute and humanity, then they are certainly allowed to continue teasing the future Will twist, only to lead the viewers into a different direction. This episode’s title may not just be a reference to Judy and Penny giving Will enough time to escape the Resolute, but it could also be an in-joke by the writers leading the viewers into an obvious twist, only to surprise them with something entirely different.

Ben did turn into a bit of a better character during this episode. He is a conflicted man who is bound by his job and mission, and he has been compromised by the things he has seen recently and by his desire to be back with his family. In a way, Ben could turn into an anti-hero over the course of the next episode and there is a chance he might sacrifice himself for the greater good, knowing that Will will succeed in doing whatever he must to bring the Resolute to Alpha Centauri, even if that sacrifice would sort of bite itself with Ben’s desire to see his family again. But at one point there has to be a moment in the show that sacrifices a recurring character, and Ben seems to be the most obvious choice at that point.

Will lost his robot again.

I was also glad that it was not easy for the Robinson kids to acquire help from other people on the Resolute. You could have thought they would band together a little ragtag group of rebels and that Samantha would just be the first one joining said band of rebels, but Vijay said “No” (understandably so) and Don West was nowhere to be found due to the security cameras locked onto his butt. That makes it more fantastic and entertaining, since the Robinsons are on their own, but one might think the writers were cutting off a potentially interesting story about how the colony has had enough with the white guys running their trip to Alpha Centauri. Then again, no one really knows what Hastings is up to and it is not like he really is a full-blown villain for everyone on the Resolute. All Hastings wants is to get to Alpha Centauri. All the Robinsons want is to take a detour on the way to Alpha Centauri.

Meanwhile, John and Maureen were tripping inside the gas planet, having a meet’n’greet with the planet’s lifeform, and somehow got back into the Resolute even though I believed they were stranded for good. That was a bit of convenient storytelling, but at least the Robinsons are complete again in the final episode of the season, with each of them acting in on the same plan to help Scarecrow and the robot, and to bring the Resolute to Alpha Centauri with all its colonist and not half of them. The writers could have used John and Maureen’s stranding for a bit more character development though — John did not even react majorly on the news that Maureen cheated to get Will onto the twenty-fourth colony and he did not even say that Maureen did the right thing. Let’s just think about the fact that the colony would be dead without Will. The kid brought them off the planet in the first season by having the poop-for-fuel idea, and if it had not been for Will’s connection to the robot, they would have killed everyone on the Resolute. And then the remaining survivors would have been stuck on the amber planet without working tech and spaceships. John could have recognized all this and told Maureen she did the right thing to keep the family together. But he did not, so he is an asshole.

Hannah Montana (“Oops! I Meddled Again”)

Season 1, Episode 11
Date of airing: July 15, 2006 (Disney Channel)

This episode is proof that Miley is sometimes not able to separate herself from her alter ego. Blurting out that she read emails for and from Hannah Montana was a pretty stupid thing to do, and I was quite surprised and shocked that Miley would even go so far and almost blow her secret in front of a random character who will most likely be retired after this episode, except of course Becca Weller will be a recurring character for another episode or two and show us all that Oliver can keep a girlfriend for more than one episode and HANNAH MONTANA can be a serialized show sometimes. Well, so much for my nitpicking section of this review, because the rest turned out to be quite entertaining.

Look at this beach gangsta’s cute face!

Or maybe just ridiculously weird at times, when it comes to Jackson and Rico’s story. First of all, I would like to know who the owner of the beach-side store is — is it Rico, which would make him the youngest owner of a store ever, or is it Rico’s father whose name is also Rico, which makes Rico Rico Jr.? Secondly I would like to know why Rico does not like Jackson and where the origins of this conflict is, let alone why it is free of any clever humor and comedy. The thing with the chicken wings and hot sauce all over Rico’s face was eyesroll-worthy, but then a solid sketch happens and Jackson suddenly is in the chicken costume, getting buried in bodies and faces who were snatching up some free chicken wings. It was almost like the comedy parts of the episode were written by the entire writing room, which shows that some writers were hired because of their comedy skills, while others were here to find the story and character development that comes with the morale of the story. But because HANNAH MONTANA does not have a lot of character development and morale, it almost seems like that particular writers room has not been filled with actual writers. Jackson’s story depicted what shows on the Disney Channel regularly suffer from. At least he was brought into a more funnier C story about the toilet paper — I was amused by Robbie yelling for Jackson from the bathroom. By the way, the Stewarts have a huge house, so why don’t they have a cupboard in the bathroom that could house a few rolls of toilet paper?

Miley Stewart as Hannah Montana as a chicken.

So, Miley wanted to be cupid and couple up a cute girl with a ridiculous and maybe sexist boy. Not only am I shocked that Becca even had a crush on Oliver to begin with, but continued to have one even after hanging with him for a day. Fora moment it seemed like an interesting or worthwhile story, but the back and forth few boring after a while — first Miley was pushing Oliver and Becca together, and then her mission was it to keep them apart, followed by her mission to stop each other from ending this relationship. Let’s just hope Miley learned something from this experience and helps out by writing emails, instead of actively pushing two people to deal with each other who conveniently have no idea how to deal with each other, because it is funny for the young viewers. Although, I was impressed by the line “My Robbie name is hi” and how it became a pretty big joke when Oliver said it to Becca. I would probably act as foolish in front of women, since my anxiety would take over, so I cannot even blame Oliver for not knowing what to do when standing before a girl.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Blue Gold”)

Season 2, Episode 5
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

The ending of this episode might be proof that the writers did not really know what to do with the original premise of a Venezuelan presidential election going awry with an evil president and a candidate who may be in danger, all while the Venezuelan and American governments are embroiled in a conspiracy of sorts. After five episodes, the show is somewhere completely different: It closes in on BLACK PANTHER Vibranium ideas while turning Jack Ryan into a potential killer, about to be the target in a worldwide manhunt after Harriet probably decides not to tell anyone that her lover died with a perfectly placed bullet from her weapon. While I kind of like the idea of a manhunt for Jack Ryan (it would push the story towards him again, after he was only part of one part of the season’s greater story arc), I do not like how much the season’s premise has changed and how it stopped being about the Venezuelan election. That one has instead turned into a conversation piece between Gloria and Jim Greer, proving that two people from different worlds could be allowed to fall in love with each other, now that they have talked about their previous partners and children. And all this happens while a team of American soldiers is looking for one of their own in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle, talking about shooting Marcus in the hand for being such a crappy and useless team member. By the way, that is what happens when you decide not to hire someone who is still active in the business and instead decide to go for a guy who has already retired and may live with post traumatic stress after what he may or may not have done during behind-the-scenes conflicts.

In-between assassinations, there is time to care for family.

With the exception of the ending, which I found to be partial crap, the episode was mostly okay to solid. Finally the writers established an on-screen relationship between Harriet and Max (by the way, it is so nice of her to have a real name for a change), putting an unspoken back story into the narrative that could fill one or two more episodes. In the meantime, Jack gets a closer look into the conspiracy and is about to sniff out the guilty parties behind the murder of Senator Moreno, which apparently is not at all a plot the writers cared about after the second episode of the season. The murder is still mentioned, and Jack is still looking for the people involved in the assassination, but considering this is the murder of a freaking United States Senator, and Jack Ryan works for the State Department, I was hoping this would have a bit more of a bigger and maybe more emotional aftermath. Yet the show has forsaken American characters with the exception of Jack, Greer and Mike (the soldiers currently in the jungle probably do not even care about what happens with people working in Congress) and therefore decided to drop all focus on stories involving said American characters. This might look good for a television show focusing on international affairs, and it is definitely refreshing to watch a show that does not focus on American affairs already having been chewed up on other TV dramas, but with each episode of this season of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN, Moreno’s murder becomes more and more a plot device to kick off the actual narrative, turning less and less into an emotional event in return. Let’s not forget that the writers did not even get into why Moreno was targeted and what it has to do with whatever the villains are doing this season.

Is this the beginning of an international love story?

Harriet continued to be a confusing character and with it she became more annoying. She lied about working with Jack for the past three years, yet she immediately called him when threatened by Max. She decides to go after Max’s daughter for leverage, yet she also ditches Jack in the train for reasons unknown, when it would have been logical for her to just remain in the train. Max was too far away to suddenly hop into the train which was already closing its doors, but why Harriet made the decision to jump out, run away and then get shot by Max is beyond me. Is this just convenient storytelling to have her almost bleeding to death (with more added convenience of Max not killing her right there after finding out she sent Jack to his daughter) or was there an actual reason for the characters to make these moves? What I liked about the whole story is Annabelle’s gift and how she came to use it almost immediately. It reminded me of FACE/OFF and how John Travolta’s daughter stabbed the man with her father’s face and voice in the leg after she learned how to do that. Of course, with Max gone into the afterlife now, chances are Annabelle will be retired as a character as well.

And I wished the same could be said about whatever is happening in the jungle. It’s the C plot now, the one part of the show that adds minutes to the episode’s running time growing shorter, and now Matice and his guys are bitching about how they are still in this jungle and how this is the fault of the only black man of their team. At least Victor’s story from the previous season still had emotional value. Maybe I am waiting for the inevitable fight between the Americans and the Venezuelans, but maybe I just want this whole thing to end and for this season to focus on what it set out to do, because I am getting the feeling that focus is lost.

Diary of a Future President (“Hello World”)

Season 1, Episode 1
Date of release: January 17, 2020 (Disney+)

With the streaming network from the Mouse House in existence, writers and producers finally have the opportunity to get stories for kids on the air that have too much diversity and inclusivity for the Disney Channel to handle. Characters that are non-white, dialogue scenes that do not necessarily have to be in English, and back stories which are able to be recognized by more than just the white upper class among the audiences. As fun as some of the Disney Channel sitcoms are, it is very much recognizable how they have been cut from the same type of wood and how that could not have continued for much longer without at least the social justice warriors on social media to raise their fists in desperation to watch something more unique coming from the studio. DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT would have been perfect for the Disney Channel to prove that they can also to something that does not make them look racist, but as it turns out the show is produced by CBS Television Studios and was originally developed for The CW. Who would have expected for a The CW show to land with Disney at one point? Let this be part of every history lesson about Disney as a studio: DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT is a show Disney bought from a rival studio to air on the internet, because it is not a show that could have ever come out of the minds of the Disney executives themselves. But I guess baby steps, right?

Yes, we can consider us lucky that the show has made it to the streaming service at least, and we can thank the streaming gods that Disney does not want to try to be extra special and obnoxious with their television and movie offerings, now that they have a streaming service to sell to customers. DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT is as much a TV show as any other on the Disney Channel, only without the same laugh track over and over, and with a budget that gave the producers the finances to get out of the soundstage and shoot on location. It is the kind of show that should have aired on the Disney Channel, so that the TV network can join the twenty-first century of producing content for television. It is the kind of show that may have been necessary a decade ago, just to tell the world that there is nothing wrong with female protagonists, especially when they follow a path usually occupied by male characters (although I ask myself if any boy in middle school thought of himself as a future president or Supreme Court Justice, because within a fictional narrative, it seems to be an arc tailor-made for girls). It shall be the kind of show inspiring a new generation of girls, which is hopefully not too late, considering the current eroding of political norms and the return of Nazis during the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Whoever pops first has lost the game and will be unpopular for the remainder of the school year.

As a recent fan of whatever the Disney Channel has been offering to my eyeballs and my mind (granted, I have not watched a lot yet), DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT seemed like the perfect show to bring me away from the mostly over-the-top sitcomedy and deliver a show that tries to be true to life, grounded, develop characters who look and talk and feel real, and which could be considered a show that could easily give Disney an opportunity to be as generic as possible with their latest choice of a TV show premise, but also be diverse and inclusive enough to tone down some of the badmouthing against the studio when it comes to hiring Hollywood minorities. The majority of DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT is non-white, and the Spanish language is spoken more often in this episode than between Alex Russo and her mother Theresa in all four seasons of WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE (I assume, but the math should be close to right, if not correct). And in the meantime, the life of a middle schooler looks more real than it did in GIRL MEETS WORLD, although I do not think that the middle school life can never be as real on a Disney show as it was on LIZZIE MCGUIRE.

The premiere episode did its best to introduce the characters and develop the initial premise, although after the first 23 minutes, it is questionable why the idea of a future president is even needed in the show when the general idea of a 12-year-old girl’s life in middle school who goes through friends, conniving brothers, and potential stepfathers is already grand enough to fill an entire television show. The episode started with Gina Rodriguez’s version of Elena, planning her first address as President of the United States, but then the political aspect of the premise was dropped for the remainder of the episode and Tess Romero’s version of Elena started dealing with the jungle of middle school, including having crushes on boys, dealing with ex-girlfriends, and the definitely upcoming first period, which Elena is most likely handling with grace, considering she is already dealing with periods before she ever deals with them personally. Does this mean her education is already on a high level compared to other middle schoolers? Would Elena beat Riley Matthews from GIRL MEETS WORLD in a debate about a random social topic?

Allies can walk past you in a split second and you don’t even realize it.

The reason I figured that the premise of Elena being a future president being potentially unnecessary lies in her home story. Her father died three years ago, which means she might still try to get over the loss of her father while searching for a new father figure in her life. Her brother most likely became a conniving little dude because the father figure was missing from the home. And her mother is lovesick and ready to move on to the next stage of her life, which means there will be a lot of dating in the house, if Sam Faber does not happen to work out with Gabi in the long run. T(w)eenage characters with a missing parental figure in their lives are intriguing enough to fill an entire series with character arcs, but DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT apparently needs Elena’s political future to make an anchor out of, begging the question if the majority of the show will have a political edge to it. Maybe Elena will continue to learn about World War Two and figure out America’s history through school and whichever morale of the story she comes across, but maybe Elena will finish off her middle school career as class president and this season of the show is already planning to seed her dreams of becoming POTUS in thirty to forty years. Or maybe the show will go through the vocabulary of the lives of politicians, and take on one word in each episode, trying to sow it into Elena’s middle school life as she is learning how to live life by making compromises (the lesson of this episode: getting an ally by keeping a secret).

Fact is that DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT has so many premises to work with, you could drop one or two of them to focus on the others and you won’t even notice it. That could be a good thing for the show or a bad thing for the narrative in the long run. The former would be excellent and give the show life past its middle school era, which the characters will hopefully enter soon (the high school life of a future president might be a little more exciting, and not just because it could lead to the female equivalent of MR. STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT). The latter could be glossed over by a solid cast and well-written “morale lessons of the week.” There is definitely a lot of potential in DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT, which is why I wonder why it has been developed as a half-hour family comedy, and if the writers knew what they had in possession here. The next few episodes will give an answer to that.