Discussion for Episode 2: Dancing in the Dark

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 20th 2003, 8:43 pm

Another question: at the beginning of the episode Angela is watching a film about the solar system, which strikes me as a science class kind of thing. Then we see her in bio dissecting a pig's heart. Now maybe this was just my anal retentive high school, but usually we did a whole unit on one thing so that we could see the connection, the application, etc. Help me out here?

My other hypothesis is that the solar system movie was shown in English class now that Miss Mayhew is AWOL.

:D
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 20th 2003, 9:00 pm

Angela says, "[Brian's house] smelled exactly the same which was reassuring, and annoying. Sort of like Brian himself." This statement seems to indicate that Angela does not recognize the change in Brian - she still thinks of him as the kid who lives across the street. Just as she has changed, so has Brian. The difference is that Brian acknowledges the new Angela (even though he doesn't like all the aspects of the new Angela, like her Let's Bolt outfit), while Angela wants to relegate Brian to the category of "dork neighbor" without bothering to see how he has matured or acknowledging the good qualities that he still has.

Rayanne says, "You are gonna so love having a fake ID. I, like, collect them," but in the pilot Rayanne says that Tino will get them into Let's Bolt. If Rayanne does in fact collect fake IDs, she should have been able to use one (and lend Angela one) to get into Let's Bolt. Soooo is Rayanne exaggerating once again ("it's an emergency")? Or was Rayanne being big-hearted in saying that Tino would get them in so that they wouldn't have to leave Rickie behind? I'm not a big fan of option #2 since in the same episode, Angela says, "Well, I'm not leaving Rickie," and Rayanne replies dismissively, "Rickie don't mind" without even looking at him (and you can clearly see by the look on his face that he DOES mind).

Neil doesn't say that he isn't surprised Graham is considering cheating on Patty - Graham says that he met a girl (nothing more) and Neil responds, "What? What? Well, I'm not surprised." When Graham asks why Neil isn't surprised, Neil says, "I don't know. I just..." I think that Neil, being a single guy, admires that Patty and Graham have a stable relationship (especially since it provides him with food!) but he does seem to have a commitment problem with Marla, hence their frequent breakups. In that sense, I get the feeling that Neil views Graham and Patty's marriage as something he admires, possibly aspires to, but doesn't understand and is slightly afraid of. As Neil says so eloquently (of his recent Marla breakup), "I screwed up. I don't..I...I just can't...I don't...oh boy...I...I mean I envy what you have with Patty."
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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 20th 2003, 9:07 pm

candygirl wrote:Another question: at the beginning of the episode Angela is watching a film about the solar system, which strikes me as a science class kind of thing. Then we see her in bio dissecting a pig's heart. Now maybe this was just my anal retentive high school, but usually we did a whole unit on one thing so that we could see the connection, the application, etc. Help me out here?

My other hypothesis is that the solar system movie was shown in English class now that Miss Mayhew is AWOL.

:D
I was a substitute teacher for two years. I always had a movie or TV show ready to show my junior and senior high school students in case no lesson plans were left by the teacher. So, your guess about the film being shown in English class due to Miss Mayhew's quick departure is probably not far off the mark. One of the TV shows I used was my MSCL's "Pilot." I had an entire lesson plan built around the show. Of course, I also used the "Hidden NFL." The kids really liked "Pilot" and the class discussions were very interesting.

I think it's funny that Miss Mayhew leaves and no one really knows where she goes. This actually happened in my senior year of high school. One of my teachers simply didn't show up at the start of the year. I had a slew of substitute teachers for half the year. What was hysterical was that she taught Latin. Who teaches Latin? How do you get subs for the classes? We basically talked, watched movies, studied for other classes, and slept. No one complained. It was great!
Last edited by TomSpeed on Jan 20th 2003, 9:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 20th 2003, 9:20 pm

In eighth grade, our French teacher had some sort of meltdown, and we were left without a French teacher for about three months. We had a parade of substitute teachers, none of whom spoke French. We were literally on chapter 3 for months - the vocabulary words were all the places around town, and every once in a while we got a sub who didn't speak French but tried to get us to do work. This usually consisted of asking what chapter we were on and asking us to do exercice un, which we had done a million times by then. The smart/lazy subs who didn't speak French usually told us we would have a study period. Sounds cool at first, but after weeks of "study hall" in French class, we realized we might have to all repeat the year since we weren't learning anything. When we finally got a sub who DID speak French, we asked the school if they would consider hiring her because we didn't want to end up repeating the entire year. When I was in high school, whenever our French teacher was out we inevitably had a study hall session with the sub. It's hard enough to find a sub who speaks French, but a sub who can teach third year French? Few and far between.

I always wondered why Miss Mayhew disappeared. It's one thing for a teacher to leave without spilling her personal life to all her classes, but it's another when she doesn't notify the school at all and whoever is walking by decides to have them diagram sentences or watch movies. I did work at a place where two people quit without telling anyone. They left for lunch and never came back. That's what you do when you really hate your job and don't care about putting it on your resume, but for Miss Mayhew to leave without telling anyone makes me think maybe she had a family emergency or an emotional breakdown. Most teachers who are in their right minds feel an obligation to their students to finish the term.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 20th 2003, 9:28 pm

candygirl wrote:At Angela's house, what is Rayanne eating with a spoon? Small white container with red writing? As they are walking upstairs, I love the juxtaposition of Rayanne with a celery stick in one hand and a liter of soda in the other hand! :D

What does the magnet on Brian's refrigerator say?
Where is Nostradamus when I need his expert frame by frame examination? :wink:

Based on the way Rayanne is licking her fingers, I would go with Tom Speed's assessment that she is eating ice cream, except the carton looks like the kind that Ricotta cheese comes in. Not that I'm saying Rayanne was eating cheese right out of the carton. Then again, she does seem to like cheese (Wallace and Gromit!) since Patty claims that Rayanne devoured an entire brick of cheese in the pilot. Now if it was mascarpone cheese, I could see eating it straight out of the carton!
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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 20th 2003, 10:54 pm

candygirl wrote:In eighth grade, our French teacher had some sort of meltdown, and we were left without a French teacher for about three months. We had a parade of substitute teachers, none of whom spoke French. We were literally on chapter 3 for months - the vocabulary words were all the places around town, and every once in a while we got a sub who didn't speak French but tried to get us to do work. This usually consisted of asking what chapter we were on and asking us to do exercice un, which we had done a million times by then. The smart/lazy subs who didn't speak French usually told us we would have a study period. Sounds cool at first, but after weeks of "study hall" in French class, we realized we might have to all repeat the year since we weren't learning anything. When we finally got a sub who DID speak French, we asked the school if they would consider hiring her because we didn't want to end up repeating the entire year. When I was in high school, whenever our French teacher was out we inevitably had a study hall session with the sub. It's hard enough to find a sub who speaks French, but a sub who can teach third year French? Few and far between.

I always wondered why Miss Mayhew disappeared. It's one thing for a teacher to leave without spilling her personal life to all her classes, but it's another when she doesn't notify the school at all and whoever is walking by decides to have them diagram sentences or watch movies. I did work at a place where two people quit without telling anyone. They left for lunch and never came back. That's what you do when you really hate your job and don't care about putting it on your resume, but for Miss Mayhew to leave without telling anyone makes me think maybe she had a family emergency or an emotional breakdown. Most teachers who are in their right minds feel an obligation to their students to finish the term.
I haven't thought about the missing Latin teacher in years. However, what you wrote jogged my memory. Yes, after a few weeks or so, some of us did complain, and some of us were concerned about having to repeat the year. A few complained more loudly than others. We had too much of a good thing. I was one of two third year Latin students. The rest of the students were 2nd and 1st year. Me and my fellow 3rd year student were OK with having the free period. We used it to study for our Advanced Placement classes (college classes at high school) when movies were not being shown. Sometime during the 2nd 9 weeks of school, a full-fledged Latin teacher was found. Who knows where she came from? Boy, she was very sharp though. I remember plunging into Caesar and Cicero's writings right away. She counted the grades we made for the 2nd 9 weeks twice (for the 1st and 2nd 9 weeks). No one had to repeat the year from what I remember.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by NIGHTJESSI » Jan 21st 2003, 4:17 am

Starbug, Graham's reaction to ballroom dancing struck me as his way of giving in without completely giving in. It's a passive aggressive way of dealing with Patty. He knows once she makes the suggestion that they are most likely going, but he hopes that if he makes disgruntled remarks about going that she will get frustrated and pull the plug on the whole thing. Given Patty's pretty driven personality and Graham's more laidback approach to life, I'm sure there are many decisions they have where Graham just begrudgingly gives in to placate Patty and get on with life.

TomSpeed, great minds really do think alike since we were almost mirror posts on both who Angela's fourth kiss could be as well as favorite lines from bio class.

I loved your insight into Angela's skirt parting and how she is unintentionally revealed. Sure she has fantasized about being with Jordan, kissing Jordan, etc., but given her relative lack of experience, she would definitely need to take things slow. Jordan intimidates her simply because he is so beautiful and he is older than her and the object of her affection. When he crosses that invisible line in the car, it wasn't the perfect moment as she had envisioned a million times over.

Megs, my guess on Graham being so open about his interactions with this girl is because he is again being passive aggressive. After the sour moments at the ballroom lessons, maybe he hopes Patty will walk in and catch him. That will stop him from doing something that he knows deep down is wrong. He is definitely in foreign territory here and that's why he is making mistakes like having a conversation with the girl right around the corner from his house. Then again, he is in a spot away from view where no one should have seen him. Had Angela really stayed over at Rayanne's like she said she was going to, then she would have never spotted Graham's exchange with the girl.

When it comes to Graham's expectations of Neil, I think he envied Neil's free-spiritedness a little even if Neil wasn't really happy. Graham was just thinking the grass was greener on the other side and it might be nice to spice up life with another female. He probably liked having a woman be aggressive and chase him but not in a way that demanded anything of him other than being charming. Even though Neil previously mentioned that he didn't want to see Patty and Graham break up and that they were the happiest couple he knew, his comments struck me as a bit sarcastic. Just look at Graham and Patty's interaction during the dinner with Neil. They are obviously not on the same wavelength there. I do think Graham expected Neil to be a horny man and encourage the affair because Neil could see the tension between Patty and Graham and also because Neil tended to cheat in his relationships.

As for the comment about there being no divorce on the horizon, I really think Graham thought he would somehow get caught before things went too far. I really do think he and the girl had just talked and flirted, possibly doing the playful pushing each other or touching each other. I don't think they had kissed, although that might explain why he stopped kissing Patty in the morning before work. In any case, he probably figured that there was a family involved and nothing could break up that unit even if he was unfaithful. It's not a realistic perception but would make sense given Graham's frame of mind at this point.

Candygirl, when it comes to fake IDs and Rayanne's "collection," it wouldn't matter if she had a fake ID at Let's Bolt because neither Angela nor Rickie had one. Rayanne doesn't look old enough to pass off bringing in a few people with no problem. Besides, maybe her comment about Tino getting them in was tied to fake IDs that he could have brought for all of them.

As for Miss Mayhew, my guess on her departure is that she couldn't take the stress of everything going on. She mentions to Angela in the Pilot how she isn't even able to take a lunch break because of all the cuts, so she was overwhelmed. She was also in charge of yearbook where at least one person, Angela, quit before the crew had even picked a theme. With the aforementioned cuts, she was probably really overloaded with work and just couldn't handle it all. She seemed like a fairly quiet person and someone who wouldn't tell her personal business to others although she tried to help others like Angela who were going through a tough time.
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Post by Nostradamus » Jan 21st 2003, 6:31 am

candygirl wrote:At Angela's house, what is Rayanne eating with a spoon? Small white container with red writing? As they are walking upstairs, I love the juxtaposition of Rayanne with a celery stick in one hand and a liter of soda in the other hand! :D
The soda was diet, so it does kinda go with the celery, by the same logic that leads to food products like "Lard Lite" and "I Can't Believe It's Not Carcinogenic!"
Based on the way Rayanne is licking her fingers, I would go with Tom Speed's assessment that she is eating ice cream, except the carton looks like the kind that Ricotta cheese comes in. Not that I'm saying Rayanne was eating cheese right out of the carton. Then again, she does seem to like cheese (Wallace and Gromit!) since Patty claims that Rayanne devoured an entire brick of cheese in the pilot. Now if it was mascarpone cheese, I could see eating it straight out of the carton!
Whatever it is, it's strawberry-banana flavored. No wonder you couldn't read the red writing; it was strawberries! I couldn't make out the smaller text, but it could be "natural flavor" or "nature's best" or something like that. There's raised writing on the lid, but I'll have to invert the colors before I even try to read it.
What does the magnet on Brian's refrigerator say?
Sorry, that one's too tiny even for my eyes.

The green liquid in the Volume Meter may have simply been water dyed to more easily gauge displacement caused by the mouse. Or, perhaps Brian was a member of the secret project to create a hybrid human/alien "super soldier". (See X-Files) :wink:

Other things I noticed:

Tacked up at the dance loft is a notice for "Free Ice Skating" -- Patty's favorite!

How did Graham walk past Angela without wrapping her up in the phone cord?

Patty's little eyebrow waggle at the end of the episode is one of the few times she drops the frumpy soccer mom persona.

The painting of a boy visible downstairs as Patty and Camille chat is the Full Length Portrait of Edward VI by Guillim Scrots.
Where is Nostradamus when I need his expert frame by frame examination? :wink:
Conducting an in-depth analysis of the artistic merits of Girls Who Like Girls IV. :P
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 21st 2003, 1:50 pm

Where is Nostradamus when I need his expert frame by frame examination? :wink:
Conducting an in-depth analysis of the artistic merits of Girls Who Like Girls IV. :P
Well I can certainly understand the delay - the merits of such a cinematic acheivement could take hours! Do let me know how your research went. In the name of science, you know.

:D
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Post by Double Espresso » Jan 21st 2003, 5:25 pm

When Ryanne and Ricky ask Brian about the Volumetre, he seems to struggle at explaining it, and then just leaves the explanation as "It's for extra credit"

I can't help wondering if this is a comment on Brian's intelligence, in that he can regugitate information, which is basically how you pass exams, but he doesn't actually know how to explain it in any way other than the text book definition. Admittedly he could just think that Rayanne and Ricky won't understand, but I can't help but think the writers are trying to make some comment here. I remember so many of the brains at school used to be able to trawl out all the right answers when asked (like in the scene in The Pilot where Brian answers all the questions), they did loads of extra work, but if you ever asked them to explain something they couldn't do it, cos they only knew one way of answering it.

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 21st 2003, 5:37 pm

I think that Brian's problem lies more in communicating with others than the actual processing of information. Brian strikes me as a very intelligent person with poor social skills - he is easily tongue tied (unless he is trading insults with Angela). When we are privy to his inner monologue, we see that he does think coherently, but, like Angela, his thoughts (which are in complete sentences) often come out as garbled and incoherent ("uhhhh, like, ummm...") which leads me to believe that Brian is capable of far more than regurgitating information. Based upon that interpretation of Brian's inner vs. outer, I think that Brian could explain his project to a teacher or write down all the principles of his experiment, but faced with entities like Rayanne and Rickie in his house, in his kitchen where he eats - he sputters. The exact moment that you refer to - I also think that Brian has given up on the pomp and circumstance of the project and reduces it to what it really is - something to booster his A+ a bit further.
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Post by likelife » Jan 21st 2003, 6:07 pm

sorry if some of this has been said already...

the fake id's
i agree that rayanne could not have gotten angela and rickie in even if she had a fake id for herself. it's also quite possible that "let's bolt" was the type of event where fake id's would not cut it (excessive security?). and let's face it, rayanne may have known all along that actually getting into let's bolt would be difficult or impossible. she is convinced that tino or the older drunk lecherous guys could get them in, but who really knows? i always assumed that angela getting one from jordan was all about angela getting to talk to jordan. and then the product in question being a fake id, well, somehow that's sexier to a 15 yr old than discussing homework...

patty and the ballroom dancing
i always figured that patty mentioned the dance lesson in front of everyone to a) put pressure on graham, and b) to be demonstrative in her efforts as a good wife. patty does a lot of "performing" if you will, esp. when she is nervous, upset or insecure. she pretends she is happy, pretends things are great, pretends she has this spur-of-the-moment great idea to go dancing. i believe that she senses the strain in their marriage and wants to fix it, but she is too afraid to directly approach graham. this is HER passive aggressive move: she suggests dancing when she really wants to talk about marriage issues. she mentions it in front of everyone else because she does not want to get into why she really wants to go in the first place.

brian and the experiment
i think brian talks the ways he does about the science experiment for the same reason patty mentions dancing at the dinner table. he is trying to say something aloud to an audience in order to believe it for himself. i, too, assumed that the teacher knew of the extra credit pairings based on previous discussions. angela and brian live close to each other, and i assumed, given how hard it is for angela to be out on a school night, that she had earlier agreed to partner up with him and not someone else.

new subject: rickie at brian's
rickie is one of my favorite characters and i love like, everything he says, usually. this episode was the only one in which he annoyed me. i especially didnt like the way he acted at brian's ("poor mouse!" and "what kind of pressure?" or whatever he says) he just seemed a little ditzy or something. in retrospect, maybe he is acting strange because they are around a straight boy, brian, and he is generally intimidated/unsure of himself. and i guess he could also be totally in awe of yet another "normal home" like angela's. does anyone else know what i am talking about?

patty's reaction to the hillary clinton comment
i think that patty was annoyed to hear the comment about hillary clinton because it reinforced some worries she'd been having about what men want and what men notice. also, hillary is a notoriously strong, independent, smart woman (like patty), so it hit home even harder (she works all day long, supports a family, etc. etc. and all they notice is her hair and whether or not they like it).

the broken china -- shattered dreams
i agree that patty breaking her doll was symbolic of her bubble being shattered, or perhaps of her pretend life ending and her real life starting, something like that. and i like that some drew the parallell to angela, and her old world being discarded.
in a weird way, this topic relates to the hillary clinton topic as well -- patty's been hoping all of these years to rise above the notion that as a girl or woman you are judged by your look and style (even if she's secretly obsessed with it!), and with one comment from her husband/brother in law, she's wondering whom she was trying to fool. yet another "reality" shattered.

how to be a man
ah! great scene between angela and graham at the dinner table, and graham says the perfect thing. i love how perceptive he is, too, about what went on, even though he doesn't literally know a thing about it. and speaking of angela and jordan wanting the same thing in the car but approaching it from different ends of a LONG tunnel -- graham is RIGHT that it's hard to figure out how to be a man. if jordan had tried to kiss her for the THIRD time, from his perspective he would have been violating her (considering how she'd acted already).. and yet she was ready to forgive past discressions as long as the kiss was not too intense or assuming. how was jordan supposed to know that?

ms. mayhew
i always thought that we were supposed to assume that angela's talk with miss mayhew and her depressing lunch (and bra strap) in the pilot was to have an altering effect on ms. mayhew's life. i think mayhew was totally depressed and really fed up with the crap she was having to put up with. she finally realized it when she saw a bright, promising (and still relatively innocent and "unjaded") student like angela give her a truly insightful critique of the yearbook. what angela says about the yearbook is the way i assumed ms. mayhew was starting to feel about the world (i know this belongs in the pilot section, not ep. 2). she probably had a breakdown and left teaching... or at least the school. and yes, i believe that the solar system video was a product of a substitute teacher day.

brian's house, the dishes
i always liked angel's assessment of brian and his house being kind of reassuring and kind of annoying. it's true that angela may be unwilling to admit brian's changes, but it's also possible that angela is just admitting to herself that there IS a place n her life for brian. that he's a fixture to her, someone whom she relies on, if only sometimes... i am not saying that this is a fair analysis of bri, but rather that angela IS acknowledging their connection. as for the dishes, i thought it was the polite thing to do and also a way of being apologetic for the less-than stellar job she'd done as a partner. furthermore, i think angela doing the dishes is pretty symbolic of her personality/upbringing. though we all think that patty is a little off for getting mad about the block of cheese that rayanne ate, we also know that angela would NEVER go to someone's house and eat a whole block of their cheese. she would maybe take a snack and definitely clean up after herself. rayanne would open the fridge without asking, and leave her mess for someone else.

jordan's reactin to the "french" girl
jordan knows angela is not french. but he also is very insecure when it comes to knowing anything about language, school, or expressing himself, for that matter. i think he second guesses his assumption that OF COURSE angela is not french, when, he has such a horrible time trying to communicate with her. i like the foreshadowing of the brian vs. jordan dilemma. i see it beginning when they discuss her in brian's front yard. they both refer to angela as "her" like it's just a given who they are talking about.

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Post by likelife » Jan 21st 2003, 6:08 pm

can anyone tell that i write my posts at work and that my keyboard sucks? sorry about all the bold!

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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 21st 2003, 6:33 pm

One classic scene occurs when Brian is telling the science teacher about his extra credit project -- notice the expression of the boy who sits behind him. He looks like he is thinking, "Huh?"

In many ways, the smart kid who couldn't talk his way out of a wet paper bag is a cliche. However, like Graham says in "Dancing in the Dark," cliches happen. Brian is smart, and he does think and communicate. It's just that he has to work to communicate, esp. with his peers. My guess is that he feels much more comfortable in the classroom than with friends (or semi-friends) in his kitchen.

Plus, add to his distress the fact that Angela is AT HIS House! after a long absence. And, Rayanne, an obviously attractive girl, is there as well. If you add those things up, it's easy to see why he gets tounge-tied.

I remember a friend in high school. I actually spoke to him about a year ago. Well, we emailed each other. Anyway, he was much smarter than I. However, he had a habit of walking around with his shirt buttons not buttoned into the right holes. His shirts were crooked. However, he could talk with anyone and had a devious sense of humor. I picture him in the kitchen with Rayanne, Rickie, and Angela. I can also picture myself there, too. Although, I'm not as smart as Brian and my friend.

I don't remember my friend being popular with women (neither was I). However, women knew of him. Many classmates liked him. When we were emailing, he told me that he had married and opened his own business. I've never been married, and I work for someone else. So, I guess he has done OK. I'm not sure if he buttons his shirts correctly now though. Maybe I'll try to find out when I get back to my hometown next time.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
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Post by starbug » Jan 22nd 2003, 6:17 am

Double Espresso wrote:When Ryanne and Ricky ask Brian about the Volumetre, he seems to struggle at explaining it, and then just leaves the explanation as "It's for extra credit"

I can't help wondering if this is a comment on Brian's intelligence, in that he can regugitate information, which is basically how you pass exams, but he doesn't actually know how to explain it in any way other than the text book definition. Admittedly he could just think that Rayanne and Ricky won't understand, but I can't help but think the writers are trying to make some comment here. I remember so many of the brains at school used to be able to trawl out all the right answers when asked (like in the scene in The Pilot where Brian answers all the questions), they did loads of extra work, but if you ever asked them to explain something they couldn't do it, cos they only knew one way of answering it.
I always thought that it was because Rayanne asked such a wide-open question that cuts right to the heart of it. 'What's the point?'. It's difficult to know where to begin with an answer to this. Is he to explain the principles of pressure etc? Is he to explain why he has this set up in his kitchen outside school? Why is he doing it? For such a thinker, like Brian, I would have thought he would try to deconstruct the question in his mind before answering it and decipher what Rayanne was really asking. He struggles to do this and the verbal result is some sort of babble. I agree that he's unsettled because two virtual strangers are in his house, but I think we've already covered the scientific point of the experiment: 'it's to measure pressure' 'the mouse makes pressure, just by breathing?'. Rayanne's question cuts to the quick a bit more and that's what throws him. That's what I always thought, at least.

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