Discussion for Episode 1: the Pilot

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 TomSpeed » Jan 19th 2003, 12:39 am

candygirl wrote:
Megs wrote:What was Brian about to say to Angela after the cop dropped her off and he told her the theme of yearbook? He says, "Angela..." and his voice sounds strained, like he really wants to tell her something, but she cuts him off and won't let him.
Sorry that I didn't provide this link at the beginning of this discussion post, but there were some theories about in this thread:

What would Brian have said?
Thanks for the link.

After watching the scene a couple times more, I have to say that Brian is going to tell Angela how he feels about her. He says "Angela" to get her attention. He's ready to express his feelings for her. The moment he has been working towards for who knows how long has arrived. However, they see Graham and the other woman. An event gets in the way. When he says "Angela" again, he is trying to recapture the previous moment, but it has already passed.
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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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Re: Discussion for Episode 1: the Pilot

Post by NIGHTJESSI » Jan 19th 2003, 1:54 am

I apologize for being so silent since posting my initial comments on this episode. RL was just horrible this week and this is the first time I have been able to return to the board.

Vampyr, I tend believe that Angela wanted the attention of Brian when she left her house to get ready to go to Let's Bolt. After all, she knows he will want to know what is going on, and she changes her clothes right in proximity of him. That's, of course, going to invite him to interact with her. It's almost as if she wants to show off that she is going somewhere and being different.

Candygirl, I think the reason Jordan doesn't say Rayanne's name when he sees them getting into the police car is because Rayanne is pretty much already in the vehicle. Jordan catches the tail end when Angela is getting in the vehicle, thus says her name and not Rayanne's.

Starbug, Rayanne's use of the phrase "It's an emergency" struck me as Rayanne being Rayanne. She wanted to use a saying that would invoke concern, and what better thing to utilize than an emergency? Rayanne always struck me as the type of person who said whatever she needed to to benefit her. Unfortunately, her delivery of the phrase tends to make the urgency seem less urgent and more goofy, thus turning people off.

As for why Jordan didn't use Angela's name at the party, maybe it's because he didn't know it then. But after having a brief conversation with her there, he wanted to know more and inquired around. Otherwise, he could have just actually paid attention in one of the classes they share and heard her name then.

To elaborate on the discussion about The Divinyls' video, it seemed that Angela mistakenly thought Jordan actually wanted someone who was sexually explicit and that's what she equated him watching that video with. Meanwhile, what we really see in his attitude toward the video is that overt sexuality bores him. And everything people would assume excites Jordan is not necessarily what he is into. Unfortunately, this encounter has only served to make Angela feel more inadequate around Jordan.

Vampyr, when the guy dumps Brian's tray on him in the cafeteria, I took it as an instance to show how Brian is thought of as a nonentity by some people. Yes, some would take credit for embarrassing a nerd, but perhaps this was a daily occurrence and the guy didn't even look at Brian as important enough to ridicule further. Then again, I could just be reading into things.
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Post by vampyr » Jan 19th 2003, 3:02 am

starbug wrote:
vampyr wrote: the priority in Sharon's question is more that she is at fault than exactly how that is true. Saying "it isn't any one thing" (with an elipsis of "... that you did") implies that Sharon is indeed responsible, by more than one doing of something, which is contrary to the priority of the two aspects of the question. (Somebody says they dropped a knife on their foot, you don't start with "do you need another knife".) What Angela said made Sharon feel more guilty, and even at age 15 she had to know that.
I completely see what you are saying here. I have thought about it and it's true that Sharon's angle is that she's at fault. Angela definitely lets her think that. But in Angela's defence, I would say that when you're growing up, and it's you that's changing, you don't see it
I absolutely agree that Angela doesn't know that it is the changes in her that have caused the rift between her and Sharon. But I don't think she's seeing or projecting changes in/onto Sharon, either. Actually (I just watched it again, paying more attention), it may be simpler than that. Angela starts by saying "You didn't do anything", but Sharon steamrollers her, so she tries it another way, going down the "it isn't any one thing" road. (And gets steamrollered again.) Angela is flustered by the confrontation with her (former) best friend, her clear guilt in the change in their relationship, and the fact that she has no idea why it's falling apart. She's in that autopilot state you get into when you're in a panic, and she says something that isn't really the best choice. (It's hard to remember teenager time, when "engage brain before operating mouth" was a completely unfamiliar concept, but that's where Angela is living.)

I don't think Sharon actually wants an answer, especially one that makes sense, she wants to make Angela feel bad, bad enough to change back into who she was yesterday. Everything she says is aimed at manipulating Angela into regressing back into yesterday. And when it becomes clear that guilt won't work, she launches the "I hate your hair" missile, which is entirely and only intended to hurt Angela. Sharon isn't ready, she doesn't want change, and she doesn't see that for Angela there is no going back. I like it. Thanks all for the new eyes!

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Re: Discussion for Episode 1: the Pilot

Post by Guest » Jan 19th 2003, 4:32 am

NIGHTJESSI wrote: Vampyr, I tend to believe that Angela wanted the attention of Brian when she left her house to get ready to go to Let's Bolt.
From the expression on her face when he first shows up, I think she's exasperated that he had to pick that particular minute to be there. She assumes he will be about his own business and out of her face, and her "Get out of here" is the result of discovering that he in fact has no sense at all about invading her space. My guess is she doesn't think of Brian at all, he's less than a bug, and his attention means nothing to her. From a later episode (sorry, candygirl, but I must :oops: ), we know that she in fact doesn't think of anything but Jordan Catalano.
NIGHTJESSI wrote: Candygirl, I think the reason Jordan doesn't say Rayanne's name when he sees them getting into the police car is because Rayanne is pretty much already in the vehicle.
It always seemed to me that the whole moment (interesting how after all the rain, Red and the area and people around... him?... are not nearly as wet as everything and everybody else) was about Jordan seeing Angela with new eyes. Yesterday she was a shy mud covered kid in a granny dress, today she's a hot teenager at a club. Why does he tell his friends he knows her? Showing off? "I know the girl the police just grabbed." Or just words escaping his mouth at the surprise of seeing her there. And the "Angela!" at the end, is that like running into someone from your apartment complex while you're in Rio, you blurt out "Lucy!" before you realize you don't really know her and you don't really have anything to say either? Or is that the moment when he notices that the "kid" he met yesterday is no such of a thing.
NIGHTJESSI wrote: As for why Jordan didn't use Angela's name at the party, maybe it's because he didn't know it then.
Or being the only two people in the room it wasn't necessary to identify who they were speaking to. Angela didn't use his name either.
NIGHTJESSI wrote: To elaborate on the discussion about The Divinyls' video, it seemed that Angela mistakenly thought Jordan actually wanted someone who was sexually explicit and that's what she equated him watching that video with.
Or she was seeing beautiful TV women who seemed to have his attention and was thinking she couldn't compete with them. She had just sat down next to and alone with the object of her desire, only to discover that "vastly more beautiful" women are in the room with her in effigy, and she despairs of being able to get his attention after all.
NIGHTJESSI wrote: Meanwhile, what we really see in his attitude toward the video is that overt sexuality bores him.
It looks to me like he's less than bored, he's actually not watching it at all until she arrives. When he first moves his hand away, his eyes are closed, and they're closed for longer than just blinking. I think he was resting in a quiet (or at least people-free) area and had to come back to full conciousness when she showed up. He does seem to burn both ends, I figure he's most of the time pretty tired.
NIGHTJESSI wrote: Vampyr, when the guy dumps Brian's tray on him in the cafeteria, I took it as an instance to show how Brian is thought of as a nonentity by some people. [...] Then again, I could just be reading into things.
Certainly possible. Or maybe the director just wanted Brian to look like a social incompetent by dropping his tray and told an extra to push it into him. I'm sure they had no idea we'd be watching this thing with DVD-quality freeze-frames eight (actually ten) years later and dissecting every scene. It was after all only the pilot!

I personally think 90% of what's here is people reading into things. Somewhere in the Buffy Season 2 DVD episode with the Marti Noxon commentary (What's my line, part one), she talks about Druscilla's dolls being gagged. If we were discussing that, we might be marvelling at the symbolism, but the truth is it wasn't her or Joss or the writer who thought if it, it was the prop guys who did it because they thought it was funny. That Graham dropped a stuffed bunny may have been a similar situation.

Speaking of freeze-frame (sorry to ramble on, but I must mention), watch Angela fall into the mud in slow. You can see her really hit the ground, the water under her chest shoots up under her chin and sprays all over, mud flies everywhere... by the time she walks away, they've cleaned her up a little, so you don't really see how muddy she actually got, but wow, Claire Danes, impressive bit of dedication to realism.

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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 19th 2003, 2:29 pm

Good TV shows and movies, like good books, tend to force people to read into things. That's one of the things that makes them so good! Even a small thing, like Graham's struggle to maintain a grasp on a bunny rabbit, can come from something of meaning, even if it is only a brief inspiration. Maybe the director told him to drop things...maybe not. Anyway, without us reading into stuff, this forum would be pretty boring.
TomSpeed

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 Nostradamus » Jan 19th 2003, 7:49 pm

After reading the speculation about Brian's abortive communication that night, I have another theory. Could it be that Brian knew more about Graham's lady friend than he was saying? Brian's crush on Angela borders on obsession: he follows her around, photographs her, shows up uninvited at her house with lame excuses for being there. In paying so much attention to Angela could it be that he unintentionally discovered some things about her family that were not meant to be known? Maybe his second "Angela...?" would have led to some spilled beans, had he not thought better of it.

That said, I do still believe what many have said here about his attempt to express his true feelings toward her. I wonder, if he had told her early on in the series (before she was on good terms with Jordan) would he have gotten a more rapid and definite response than the one he got at the end of the series? Either "Oh, that's wonderful Brian!" or "Aaaugh! You disgust me!" :P
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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 19th 2003, 10:08 pm

Nostradamus wrote:After reading the speculation about Brian's abortive communication that night, I have another theory. Could it be that Brian knew more about Graham's lady friend than he was saying? Brian's crush on Angela borders on obsession: he follows her around, photographs her, shows up uninvited at her house with lame excuses for being there. In paying so much attention to Angela could it be that he unintentionally discovered some things about her family that were not meant to be known? Maybe his second "Angela...?" would have led to some spilled beans, had he not thought better of it.

That said, I do still believe what many have said here about his attempt to express his true feelings toward her. I wonder, if he had told her early on in the series (before she was on good terms with Jordan) would he have gotten a more rapid and definite response than the one he got at the end of the series? Either "Oh, that's wonderful Brian!" or "Aaaugh! You disgust me!" :P
Ugh. That's a hard question. As much as I personally would like to say she would be receptive to Brian's true feelings for her, I think she would have rebuffed him. Yes, she does care for him. However, I don't think Angela feels romantic about Brian at this point. Maybe a seed of romantic feeling for Brian is within her, but it needs time to grow. I think Brian is lucky that they don't finish their conversation. He would not have received the response he wanted.
TomSpeed

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 20th 2003, 3:36 am

Nostradamus, I tend to think that if Brian had told Angela that night how he felt about her, she would have completely distanced herself from him. She already saw him as her dorky neighbor and was annoyed at him always being around. Given her infatuation with Jordan, she would have been even more likely to shun Brian because of his feelings for her.
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Post by likelife » Jan 20th 2003, 10:09 pm

tomspeed wrote:Good TV shows and movies, like good books, tend to force people to read into things. That's one of the things that makes them so good! Even a small thing, like Graham's struggle to maintain a grasp on a bunny rabbit, can come from something of meaning, even if it is only a brief inspiration. Maybe the director told him to drop things...maybe not. Anyway, without us reading into stuff, this forum would be pretty boring.
and i agree. plus, i was an english major and i'm "way too introspective" like angela, so i'm ALWAYS reading into things. something i've realized is that you have to let go of questions like, "did the author/director/actor/etc. MEAN for it to seem this way?" did she mean for a to symbolize b and remind us of c?" the beauty of good art and literature and movies and dance and music is that some of the most meaningful components are often spontaneous and unintentional. to be a good critic, tv watcher, or for that matter a good social scientist, one learns how to dissect and evaluate minute details in order to create a greater understanding of the culture that produced the product. mscl is a strong enough show that we are able to discuss it on all of its levels.

sometimes it's funny and interesting to find out that the "really important" part of something we've just dissected wasn't even supposed to be there in the first place (like, say, the bunny rabbit in graham's arms was tom irwin's good luck charm and he has it on every movie or tv set he's ever graced); but it doesn't make it less interesting to talk about!

now i must go on to dancing in the dark!!

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Post by shorty » Jan 24th 2003, 12:42 pm

This is just a little silly thought... whatever happened to that boy,.. you know the one, at the beginning of PILOT..."Like with boys, how you have to pretend you don't notice them...noticing you..." Why didn't Angela go out with him? I mean he was pretty cute, seemed like the nice clean cut type that she should have gone for, to stay out of trouble, and he seemed pretty interested in her at that moment in time... but I suppose if that happened there would have been no show! :wink:

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 24th 2003, 3:19 pm

I think that he was ogling her in a cursory fashion, not because he knew who she was or was specifically interested in her. She just happened to walk by and his eyes were open. To quote Xander on BtVS, "I'm seventeen - looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex."

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Post by likelife » Jan 24th 2003, 9:14 pm

i agree. i think its' actually IMPORTANT that that random guy checking angela out never has a part in the series. she's talking in general when she mentions him. she's saying that she's now the age where she feels the pressure to try to look and seem attractive to guys, but that she's also expected to play the game and act hard-to-get or aloof. it doesn;t matter who is looking at her, noticing her, she still feels like she has to act a certain way -- a way that she did not choose.
she actually doesn't feel that pressure in similar situations with jordan or brian. if brian is 'noticing her' she is oblivious, and if jordan is anywhere near her, she's the one staring.

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Post by Bubba » Mar 11th 2003, 1:05 am

Continuing with the observations of "in my humble opinion," there seems to be one moment in "Pilot" in which each member of the Chase family echoes Angela (or vice versa): Graham's "strangling" motion with the hand towel, a visible but subtle expression of his anger at Patty, echoes Angela's thought about stabbing her, repeatedly. And Angela and Danielle really seem like sisters when they barrage their parents to get what they want -- going out and watching the horror movie, respectively.

While I'm on the subject of movies, yes, "It's a Wonderful Life" is on the TV in the last scene in the Chase house.

But does anyone else see meaning in the particular scene chosen?

In that scene, Jimmy Stewart's character is putting his young daughter to bed, "fixing" a flower whose petals were beginning to fall off. Patty and Angela seem to be having a similar moment, but it's clear to the audience (at least) that this calm is temporary, that their relationship has permanently changed, that the petals cannot be put back on the rose.

(As an aside: Good Lord, I love this show.)
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 11th 2003, 2:04 am

Bubba wrote:While I'm on the subject of movies, yes, "It's a Wonderful Life" is on the TV in the last scene in the Chase house.

But does anyone else see meaning in the particular scene chosen?

In that scene, Jimmy Stewart's character is putting his young daughter to bed, "fixing" a flower whose petals were beginning to fall off. Patty and Angela seem to be having a similar moment, but it's clear to the audience (at least) that this calm is temporary, that their relationship has permanently changed, that the petals cannot be put back on the rose.
William's analysis from Angela's World:
In the background, the television shows a scene from It's a Wonderful Life, an allusion to Bedford Falls Productions, which created MSCL. Interestingly, it is the scene where George Bailey's sick daughter, Susan ("Zu-Zu"), has asked him to mend the petals that have fallen off her flower. He tries but cannot, and she is not fooled by his sleight-of-hand as he sticks the petals in his pocket. Indeed, there are some things a parent cannot fix. But that does not mean you cannot ask, or that they cannot try.
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Post by likelife » Mar 11th 2003, 4:11 pm

jimmy stuart's moment with his daughter, trying to fix the flower but not being able to, seems to be echoed throughout the episode....
i see it in the first episode between angela and patty, then again in dancing inthe dark between graham and angela, then again when patty brings ice cream to angela and tells her about the possible pregancy, and so on. the theme of a parent trying to "fix" a situation but not exactly having the tools to do so is echoed again and again. i love it! well done!

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