It’s begun: the exile of Miranda. Lalaine missed six episodes of the second season, including the finale, and was absent from The Lizzie McGuire Movie for reasons vaguely related to her music career and the filming of a completely forgettable DCOM. I don’t fully understand the timing on that, because they filmed the movie during the fall of 2002, when season 2 was already airing – you can tell the movie was filmed later because everyone looks noticeably older. It might be that I just want to invent a scandal here, but I wonder if Lalaine just got sick of being on Lizzie. It had to be hard getting stuck with the shoplifting and anorexia plotlines when your costar’s character got to date celebrities and whatnot. And Hilary Duff had already had a smash hit DCOM and was launching her music career by the end of the series, so I’m sure Lalaine was itching to get some of the same success.
It seems like a bad miscalculation, though. Lalaine got a clunker of a DCOM script and not much help from Disney in launching herself as a singer – her song for the You Wish! soundtrack was bland and grating, and her CD wasn’t widely distributed. She would have gotten a lot more exposure in an actual feature film. And writing her out of the series feels all kinds of wrong – Miranda is a central character and her absence is noticeable. Please discuss Lalaine’s departure in the comments. I find it all a lot more fascinating than this episode.
“Lizzie’s Eleven” begins with Lizzie crawling around in a mouse costume for “pep club initiation.” When Gordo laughs at her for it, she explains that she’s trying to get into a lot of clubs so she can have more photos in the yearbook. What? Gordo already did that in “Best Dressed for Much Less” – and his method, just crashing the club photos, was easier. She says she doesn’t want it to be like last year, when she only had one photo in the yearbook, but in “Best Dressed,” she specifically said she was in three pictures last year.
Gordo calls her quest pointless. This stance is way more in character for Gordo, but he did this exact same thing! Lizzie points out that he did this exact same thing – “last year.” I am THROWN for a LOOP here. So season 2 is actually meant to be seventh and eighth grades? How does that make any sense even at all? The actors are all older and have different hairstyles from season 1! So…like….”First Kiss” was supposed to be Valentine’s Day of seventh grade? Or was it eighth? Gordo went from not caring about his yearbook photo to trying to be “most photographed” over the course of one year? And why did they all talk about “last year’s yearbooks” in “Best Dressed” and refer to teachers in this school if they would have been in elementary school the year prior? I am CONFOUNDED by this information!!
Kate saunters up just to tell Lizzie that she’s decided to cut out all eleven pictures of Lizzie that were supposed to be in the yearbook and just use a picture of Lizzie having an allergic reaction because she’s yearbook editor and mean. She says the yearbook is going to print that night, so they can’t do anything about it. Kate has been such a useless bully for so long that this felt out of character to me.
Also, I’m getting tied up a lot here because this opening scene is a mess, but why is Lizzie going through pep club initiation the day the yearbook goes to print? It seems unlikely they’d get a photo in time anyway.
Gordo hangs out in the gym looking through CDs and saying “Lizzie won’t have a lot to work with when she DJs tonight” out loud for exposition’s sake. Kate and Ethan come in to scope out the best place to take a picture together that night, which Kate explains is Monte Carlo Night for exposition’s sake. She says, for exposition’s sake, that she wants a pic with Ethan at Monte Carlo Night in the yearbook and that the yearbook will go to print immediately afterwards.
Gordo calls Lizzie and tells her to give up on her yearbook dreams because yearbooks aren’t important anyway. “People are just gonna write, ‘Have a great summer! Love ya!'” he says, though this would have been a good time to set up that apparently every person in this school writes “You rock. Don’t ever change.”
Downstairs, Sam tells Matt, for exposition’s sake, that he’s also going to Monte Carlo Night as a greeter, and Jo adds, for exposition’s sake, that she was assigned to be a waitress but wanted to be a blackjack dealer. Never does anyone provide exposition on what the shit Monte Carlo Night is. Jo voiceover says she put herself through grad school working as a blackjack dealer on a riverboat while stunt Jo hands do lots of cool card tricks. Once again, I’m sad about how Jo’s life turned out.
Lizzie asks Matt to help her come up with a plan to get her pictures in the yearbook, because, for exposition’s sake, “Miranda’s out of town.” Matt presents a list of demands, but Lizzie gives him a wedgie until he agrees to do it. I genuinely wonder if any kid ever laughed at bits like that.
Matt says, “It goes down tonight, at Monte Carlo Night,” and it switches to voiceover and shots of people at Monte Carlo Night. I thought this was one of those sequences when the mastermind describes the plan and it plays out in theory and then later they enact the plan and it all goes wonky. Nope, this was actually a transition to that night. It was confusing.
Lizzie is DJing, which seems out of character, and she keeps yelling extremely nerdy things like “Yo yo yo! Bustin’ some monsta jams!” and, even more oddly, “Kick it up, big baby!” (Perhaps it was supposed to be “Kick it up big, baby!” but that’s not how she delivered it and either way, what?) She keeps having to switch from “walkie-talkie” to “broadcast” on her headset. I wonder if that will cause problems later!
This episode is honestly bonkers, so I’m going to describe it as best as I can. Monte Carlo Night is some kind of gambling night for middle schoolers that’s only in the plot for the Ocean’s Eleven reference. Lizzie is the DJ. Matt and Melina slink around in spy outfits. It’s all a heist caper, and an extremely confusing one.
Lizzie begs Kate to put all her pictures in the yearbook, and Gordo overhears and yells that he’s fed up with hearing about the yearbook and doesn’t want to be Lizzie’s friend anymore. Cartoon Lizzie is upset about Gordo, which is weird because the fight is obviously staged. Lizzie throws Gordo’s CDs back at him – they didn’t really establish that he’d given her any – and he drops all of his chips when he catches them. Kate swoops down to take all of his chips, leaving her purse on the ground. Melina switches her purse with a duplicate purse that she has somehow.
Matt and Melina search Kate’s purse and find the key to the yearbook room, which Kate has on a keychain with her own picture on it. Gordo meets Matt and Melina and they congratulate him on a convincing fake fight and hand off the key. This whole thing is peppered with walkie-talkies and hand signals and code words.
I always feel bad for actors who can’t dance, because I’m an actor who can’t dance, but there’s a 3-second shot of Kate dancing that’s so painful I had to cover my eyes. Clayton Snyder is delightful as always. This is the second episode where we’ve seen Ethan intentionally dancing badly and it’s great.
Matt ruins all of Kate’s pictures with Ethan to stall while Gordo adds all of Lizzie’s photos into the yearbook. He seems to load them all onto a photo spread of just Lizzie, which seems…obvious.
After lots of Matt’s shenanigans, Kate finally yells that she’ll take the picture herself after she gets her PURSE, a declaration that is definitely thrust into that sentence for plot purposes. This triggers a completely insane purse-switching sequence that involves Lizzie gliding down the halls on a library cart at full speed. She reaches the doors to the gym and I assumed she’d crash, because she’s Lizzie McGuire, human disaster. Nope! She flips off of the cart, cartwheels over to the DJ stand, then swings on the giant velvet curtains in their gym (?) to switch out the purses. Weird how they didn’t use Hilary Duff’s gymnastics skills in “I’ve Got Rhythmic” but we keep seeing them in episodes like this.
Kate finally gets her picture, so Lizzie frantically yells for Gordo into her headset – but it was on “broadcast,” not “walkie-talkie” mode! Kate hears and drags Jo over because Kate’s a little bitch. They all go to the yearbook office, where Jo sternly supervises as Kate loads her picture into the yearbook – using some magic made-for-TV computer program that allows this to happen in a second – and then trots off to the printer with her CD.
As soon as she leaves, Jo reveals that she was in on it and this was all part of the plan. Sam shows up and is all “What’s going on? I’m a doofus” and so, for exposition’s sake, they all go over everything that happened – the fake fight, the fake broadcast/walkie-talkie mixup, Kate dragging Jo into it, and Jo switching out the CDs using her blackjack dealing skills.
The episode ends with a weird monologue where Lizzie realizes that the experience of pulling off a high-stakes caper to illicitly get her pictures in the yearbook was more important than the pictures themselves all along, which is…a weird lesson for kids. Maybe the real dangerous escapade was the friends we made along the way.
This one was essentially a retread of “Night of the Day of the Dead” in that it involved a super convoluted plan to punish Kate, and in that it tried to trick the audience too. Cartoon Lizzie, for instance, kept popping up to feel sad about her fight with Gordo or freak out about the broadcast button mixup, even though Lizzie’s inner voices should have been saying “Yes! Another step perfectly pulled off!” The whole thing was pretty exhausting and Kate-centric. Not my favorite episode.
Unnecessary references: Sam makes a weird reference to then-President Bush. He says, “President Bush, if you don’t settle down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave!” and then explains the joke to Matt as being “Because he’s actually very nice.”
Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a suit, which I don’t think her character would pick out in general. It was definitely chosen for the Ocean’s Eleven aesthetic.
It has a fascinating belt.
She still looks lovely in it – Hilary Duff is a little bit more broad-shouldered than most, and she always looks smashing in blazers.
Ethan wears a tuxedo T-shirt, which is perfect. Gordo wears a shirt with cards on it, which I absolutely believe that he would own.
Interestingly, I believe the costume designers found the shirt and liked it but thought it should have more cards on it, as one card appears to be a pin.
Melina’s spy outfit is EVERYTHING!
Look at those shiny flared-leg pants! It’s so Y2K I could scream.
With big chunky sneakers and a turtleneck? Cast her in a Hackers sequel.
Other interesting tidbits: This episode was directed by Robert Carradine, a.k.a. Sam McGuire, and it’s literally the only thing he ever directed. I think he did a good enough job, apart from the transition that confused me and the very obvious substitution of stunt hands for Jo’s during the blackjack tricks.
Lazy prop alert: Kate is wearing the outfit she wore earlier in this episode in the picture on her keychain.
Tudgeman’s hair appears to be at least slightly red again. We still don’t know why.
Normally I don’t mind the animation of Cartoon Lizzie – other than the fact that it looks nothing like Hilary Duff – but this week there were some very weird animated cartoon vegetables that really threw me.
This episode didn’t have rights-free stock music! I don’t know how that worked out. It actually featured Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever,” Hanson’s “MMMBop” and also some early 2000s Paul Oakenfold-type song that I cannot for the life of me identify because it sounds like every other song at the time and it might not be famous at all and I’m mixing it up with something that was because it sounds like every other song at the time.