Tuesday, 19 October 2010



“Ever since there’s been school, there’s been field trips”.

Here is a Big Pete stand alone episode featuring what occurs one day on his school bus when his class goes on a field trip.  As he points out in his introduction “field trips are supposed to be educational but one thing teachers don’t get is that the real education takes place on the way there”.  He describes the school bus as a “giant incubator filled with the churning psyches of 48 kids” as inside “a sort of chemical reaction takes place as people change” and “a class trip becomes a journey into the darkest recesses of your own soul”.  It begins with Big Pete’s class being briefed by their teacher Mrs Drapusie about their trip to the Glurt County Milk Museum, rules of which are “no milking” and the clear instruction of no singing “If You’re Happy And You Know It” as it is disturbing to “Bus Driver Stuart”.  The back story of this turns out to be that this was the romantic song of Driver Stu Benedict and Driver Sally Knorp when they had been in love (“a love as rich and flowing as their favourite song”).  It remained their song until one heart splattering day when Sally was unable to respond to “if you’re and you know it clap your hands” conceding “I’m not happy Stu”.  Despite being offered the option of stamping her feet she remains insistent that its over.  On that note nobody knows what to expect from Stu if he ever hears that song again.  From here we cut to the trip and the kids boarding the bus as Big Pete states that the song wasn’t the real story of the day either as he reports someone having given Ellen a secret love note where the guy promised to reveal his identity by sitting next to her on the trip.  Big Pete states that he knows it shouldn’t bother him, he and Ellen are just friends, but for some reason it chomps on his guts.  With his suspicious mind he debates who sent the note: Teddy, Bill, Wendell Hyde, Endless Mike or even Mark Twib who has unusually flickable ears that meant he’d been steadily twibbed since second grade.  Indeed his right ear once went back and forth a record 79 times.  Big Pete decides he won’t stand in the way of whoever Ellen’s secret admirer is.  At least he thought he wasn’t as instinctively he sits in the seat next to her as she asks “what are you doing?” and objects to him sitting there.  With the instruction “remember to do a left onto route 6” Mrs Drapusie goes on ahead as Driver Stu addresses the bus through his feedbacking PA announcing “welcome aboard the Yellow Fever.  I am your captain Driver Stu Benedict.  Our travelling time will be approximately 60 minutes.  We will be cruising at about a speed of 55 miles an hour moving swiftly away from the twisted wreckage of my shattered life”.  And with that the journey begins.  The narrative continues “in school you see the same people everyday, nothing changes but on a long bus ride people reveal parts of themselves no one was meant to see”.  Case in point is Wendell Hyde who on every trip revealed a new side to the shyest kid in school.  This time it was he dream of singing at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs as he begins singing “you put your left foot in, you put your left foot out” as Della Sum quickly tells him to “shut up” as her revelation/problem is that for some reason just being on a bus makes her have to go to the bathroom more than humanly possible.  Then there was Teddy famous for eating his entire lunch in the first five minutes of every trip, he developed a new system of taking small precise bites to ensure half sandwich will last him until they get there so that he will have the other half for lunch.  As for Bill whenever he was on a bus it was like some practical joke hormone kicked in as he places a sign in the window that says “Help!  Being kidnapped!  Call police!”  However but of all the mutations that take place Big Pete’s is the weirdest as he and Ellen continue to bicker about him sitting next to her as he cockblocks her secret admirer, her lover boy.  With the journey now in full flow there is no turning back.  Some people (such as Endless Mike) spend their time twibbing while Bill keeps up with his pranking as suddenly an undercover police car passes seeing his sign and pulls the bus over much to the amusement of Bill (“I am king!”).  The next thing we see is Driver Stu being thrown against the front of the bus and patted down and even though his story fits out the cops aren’t convinced that he is fit to drive so they give him a series of gruelling co-ordination tests including serving tennis balls at a pile/stack of five doughnuts and being a human wheelbarrow.  As Big Pete continues to share Bill’s amusement Ellen asks what has got into him suggesting that next he will be wanting to flick Mark Twib (“go ahead, there’s no line”).  Eventually Stu gets back behind the wheel as he addresses the bus with “an update on our new onboard regulations, passengers will refrain from KILLING MY SOUL!” as he spots Pete arguing with Ellen and not paying attention so he sends him to the back of the bus and the seat next to Endless Mike as he states that he sees Pete is “having a little trouble with your lady friend” as Bill sits down next to Ellen (“I guess your pal’s muscling in on your girlfriend”).  Back to Stu’s regulations which end “and finally, passengers will chip in for gas.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate NOT to ask them”.  Now the transformation is complete as Endless Mike is now Big Pete’s buddy and Bill is now considered a backstabber as he suggests to Ellen that “maybe you’re ready for something new”.  At this point Della is making her latest toilet stop which is naturally testing the patience of Stu.  And thanks to Della’s bladder the trip now found itself two hours behind schedule and “driving further into the uncharted territory of our souls”.  It is at this time that Wendell sings his latest song sending a dedication out to Mark and Sue in the back enjoying their three week anniversary as he breaks into “Happy Anniversary To You” which Stu announces “ladies and gentlemen Wendell Hyde, you can catch his act all next week, in detention!”  Around this point Stu begins to ask “where am I?” as it becomes apparent that he is lost.  As he screams with panic he stops to ask a scarecrow for directions go as far as stepping into the field saying “excuse me Farmer Extremely Unhelpful” until he realises “you are straw”.  Meanwhile back with Ellen and Bill he shows her his latest prank in the form of armpit powder as she expresses that “this is not going to work” addressing the note to which Bill exhibits ignorance.  Now that Ellen knew the truth about Bill she puts her arm round him in a safe gesture designed to increase Big Pete’s jealousy so she can get her revenge on him.  As Endless Mike winds Big Pete up (“what a cool and inconsiderate beast”), Driver Stu remains in the field now beating the scarecrow.  Continuing to egg Big Pete on, Endless Mike offers up the solution to take care of Bill: hot lava warmed exactly to body temperature and mentholated (“do you know what that does to a popped zit?”)  “Vengeance is mine – say it Pete”.  With this Driver Stu returns to the bus holding a pitchfork and covered in straw as he thanks the passengers for their patience during a “little turbulence” before throwing the pitchfork out the door and getting back behind the wheel.  Now back on the road it finally happens as Big Pete’s own dark side bubbles to the surface as he concedes/confides that it feels great as he places hot lava in Bill’s right hand prior to tricking him into touching the left side of his face and causing him to scream with pain as it burns (“Menthol!”).  From here Big Pete returns to the back of the bus a hero/villain as Ellen looks on it disgust and Endless Mike welcomes him to the club as he adds “lets say we celebrate with a little bubbly wobbly” as they all pull out large bottles of Kreben Up which they pour on the floor prompting a flood from the back of the bus and traumatising Della into requiring a toilet stop.  Now stopped everyone gets off the bus and staggers around a field area as Stu expresses how he is “exceedingly not pleased” and how he “joined the service to help people, to do good for mankind” at which point he shouts Della in the style of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire who pops up from peeing complaining “I can’t go if everyone is thinking about me”.  At this point Ellen calls Pete to task “way to go Pete, way to trash your friend” as she maintains pretending that it was he who sent the letter and saying how he is fun as Pete defends Mike as also being fun.  Now ready to get back on the road Stu does a head count only to discover they are a person short which is Wendell who is in the distance singing a big band version of “This Is Your Bar Mitzvah”.  With this Pete concludes “we had all reached the point of no return” as footage of Mark Twib having his ears flicked coupled with Teddy, heaving eaten all his sandwich, throwing his lunch measuring tools in a hole to be buried in the ground as he shouts “I hate myself”.  Returning to the bus Endless Mike puts his arm around Pete saying “you really showed that creep but what about the woman?  What would make Ellen really mad?” as suddenly they spot Mark Twib and Mike says “one flick and you’re your own man” as Pete responds “its perfect” to sinister overtones.  Who could resist?  Those ears were calling to Pete, the fever was pounding in his head.  Then he does it.  Jumping up in pain Twib turns and is surprised to see it was Pete.  And he is not the only one surprised as ever sees and Ellen yells “I’ll never talk to you again”.  Big Pete is now a certified member of the Endless Mike crew.  With this Stu returns dragging Wendell back on the bus.  Now with just one flick of his finger Big Pete now finds himself having sent Mark Twib over the edge and now back on board he decides to make sure that nobody ever gets off the bus again.  And his method is to begin singing “If You’re Happy And You Know It”, the forbidden song, much to the fear and panic of his fellow passengers all telling/warning him to stop.  As his rendition becomes more crazed it is noticed by Stu who angrily puts his foot down and speeds up before joining in and singing along.  Even though it is delivered with a psychotic expression the passengers join in as the next thing we see is Stu singing and dancing along the aisle encouraging everyone to join in.  Eventually it is realised that nobody is driving the bus as it heads towards an accident.  Now in the zone Stu is unable to be drawn from his rendition leaving just one person to snap him out it: Wendell Hyde.  At this point Wendell begins singing more Bar Mitzvah songs (“Hava Nagila”) prompting the passengers to join in singing along with him but unfortunately it doesn’t work as Stu remains singing his song.  Then finally we catch glimpse of the cliff the bus is fast headed towards and the impending doom that awaits.  The next song that Wendell attempts is the “Hokey Cokey” which everyone sings along to.  As the song ends Stu slowly snaps out of his performance as he overhears “no one is driving the bus” as he calculates the meaning of the statement before spotting the unmanned driving wheel and running to his seat braking just in time to prevent the bus going off the cliff much to the relief and applause of his passengers.  Now safe Wendell is hailed a hero and just like that it is over as everyone journeyed to the outer limits of their souls and came out safely on the other side.  Finally the bus arrives at the Glurt County Milk Museum where immediately Mrs Drapusie sets the police on Stu lining all the kids up stating “one of you deliberately sang THAT song.  Whoever you are, you’re going to pay for the whole class” as everybody looks to Mark Twib to confess.  She adds that the person responsible will receive an F for the project and four weeks detention.  Feeling guilty Big Pete states that he feel sick inside and that his stupid twib had driven Mark to do it.  Much to Endless Mike’s chagrin Big Pete claims to be the culprit causing Mike to protest “once a dink, always a dink, you’re outta my gang”.  Mrs Drapusie expresses her surprise at it being Pete telling him that he gets the pleasure of staying on the bus while the rest of the class go inside the milk museum.  With this Mark asks Pete “why?” as he states that he shouldn’t have flicked him, he didn’t deserve it.  Equally Mark apologises for sending the secret admirer letter to Ellen explaining that he thought they were just friends as Pete backtracks “we are.  I mean, we were”.  Twib responds that he understands saying “I’ll just let you two figure that out”.  Now further facing the music Bill steps up to Pete asking “why’d you nail me, man?” as he apologises and is easily forgiven (“well, no hard feelings”) as a “Kick Me” sign is revealed as having been stuck to Pete’s back.  Finally Pete hears a voice say “that was brave, standing up for Mark like that” as Ellen pokes her head out from inside the bus conceding “I guess we both went kind of crazy back there”.  With this Pete takes the opportunity to say all the stuff he said, he didn’t mean as he suggests that possibly on the way back they can sit together as she suggests “how about now?”  Then as Stu finishes explaining things to the police and waves them away in conclusion Pete states that over the course of the journey he and Ellen learned more about themselves and each other than they ever would have about milk or moths or even creamed corn adding “who knew what we’d learn on the way back?”  From here the episode plays out with Wendell Hyde singing “Cobwebs In The Rain” to camera

Very good, almost Hitchcock like.

It means even the most simple things in life at surface level have hidden depths.  That and public transport is unendurable and one of life’s necessary evils.

That it was not only me that felt terrorized and terrified riding the school bus.  That school trips are not educational.  Also that you should not shit where you eat.

There really isn’t much reference to reality here.  At one point when Stu shouts “Della!” it is very much in the manner of Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.

“An update on our new onboard regulations, passengers will refrain from KILLING MY SOUL!”, “Excuse me Farmer Extremely Unhelpful.”

Wendell Hyde’s performance as a lounge singer is such an amazing and ridiculous concept.

Previous school field trips include visits to the Sioux City Moth Hatchery, the Triple A Ice Farm and the International Cream Corn Expo.

School bus rides both daily and daytrips were always testing

Wendell Hyde played by Rick Faugno.

Damian Young from Hal Hartley movies and later Californication appears as Driver Stu while former SNL cast member Ellen Cleghorne plays Sally Knorp.

If You’re Happy And You Know It”, the forbidden song, the anthem of Stu’s love for Sally.  Wendell also performs stomping versions of “Hava Nagila” and the “Hokey Cokey”.

Driver Stu pops up in a number of episodes.

Kreben Up, a lemonade beverage similar to Seven Up.

Even though he gets a credit Danny Tamberelli does not appear in the episode.

This is the first episode since Artie leaves Wellsville.

This is a very good episode almost reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode (specifically elements of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”).

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