Oh snap, y’all! We made it! It’s the actual, non-finale final episode! Like the Disney Channel’s airing order and life itself, this milestone is pretty meaningless. But we’re here, and we reached it together.
Lizzie and Miranda hang out in Lizzie’s room playing with makeup and reading beauty tips in magazines. It’s extremely adorable, and exactly the sort of thing I wish the show had more of. It’s that perfect mix of realistic but aspirational – it seems like something middle school girls would definitely do if they had a best friend who lived nearby, their makeup was perfectly applied by professionals, and their clothes were cooler and more over-the-top than anything real middle schoolers would wear.
Lizzie realizes it’s time for Green Valley, which sounds like some sort of soap opera even though I think teens stopped watching soap operas in the 80s. When she turns on the TV, the kids’ show Clover and Daisy’s Magic Train is on. She and Miranda reminisce about rushing home to watch the show in kindergarten and Miranda says that it’s crazy that they used to watch kids’ shows and now they’ll be able to drive in a few years. It’s actually kind of touching because Lalaine’s Serious Acting doesn’t kick in to make the whole thing too dramatic.
They each reveal that they still love watching Clover and Daisy and crack up laughing. This cold open is delightful. I think it’s because there’s no Gordo. Usually all three of them hang out, and if Gordo had been here he would have complained about them talking about makeup, lectured them about maturity when they took a moment to realize how old they were getting, and scolded them for herd mentality when they divulged their interest in the kids’ show like it was a secret. When it’s just Lizzie and Miranda, they can actually be girly and excitable and have fun together. We never really get scenes like this, and the difference is stark.
Daisy announces that the show is doing a live tour, and Lizzie and Miranda contemplate going to see a taping of the show. Lizzie says it could be a raincheck for the taping they missed as kids when they both got strep throat, and this part is also delightful because we get a flashback of little Lizzie and Miranda. There just aren’t enough Lizzie and Miranda episodes! The reminder that they’ve been friends for so long is really sweet.
Both girls know that they’re too old for Clover and Daisy, so they try to convince Matt to come to a taping to make it look like they were babysitting. Matt refuses and goes back to his project for the week: setting up a museum of all of the McGuires’ dust bunnies and stains. Points for creativity on the subplot, I guess?
At school the next day, Lizzie and Miranda ask Gordo if they could borrow his toddler cousin to take to Clover and Daisy. The cousin was a convenient invention we’ve never heard of before, and he’s dismissed just as quickly as he’s introduced when Gordo says his cousin’s family moved to Tokyo. Gordo says they should all ignore societal norms and just go. I involuntarily physically facepalmed here, because Lizzie says that’s a very evolved position for Gordo to take and he responds, “If ‘evolved’ means that I can like Foo Fighters, vintage pinball, AND Clover and Daisy, then thank you. I’m evolved.” This fuckin hipster ruins everything.
Matt begins taking groups around the house to show off the family’s spills, mold and dirt. If this had happened in my house, my mom would have literally just actually died. Just succumbed to mortification and perished right there. The McGuire parents, though, just accept Matt’s explanation that it’s a “study group” and ignore everything that’s happening.
Matt leads his group into Lizzie’s room to show off a vomit stain Lizzie made on the rug when she was 7. It’s a throw rug, not wall-to-wall carpeting, so the idea that she just kept a vomit-stained rug for 7 years does not reflect well on her. This is particularly embarrassing for Lizzie because Ethan is part of the group, and because she and Miranda had specifically put on clothes to make themselves look younger.
They make it to the taping of Clover and Daisy’s Magic Train, and a small child who can barely handle his line screams, “MOMMY, I can’t see over the big ladies’ heads!!” I laughed out loud. The kid is terrible and the line is hilarious. He can’t even stay on his mark at all; he sort of flings his body around while he says it.
I don’t know, man. This episode keeps hitting me right where I live. Like that amazing toddler, Clover and Daisy’s Magic Train is so confoundingly bad that it’s enjoyable. Giant terrifying puppets sing a slow song in wavering, grating voices, and the lyrics are as follows:
We’re like family, no ifs, ands or buts,
I like to sing
I like to dance
Yooooooouuu weeeaaarrrr enormous pairs of pants
This poses a strange but wonderful relationship
That’s literally how the song goes and it makes Lizzie cry! It’s amazing!
Sadly, my enjoyment of this episode falls off sharply at around this point, because Clover and Daisy pull out a seat number to give a random audience member a prize, and of course it’s Lizzie. And that makes Kate notice her, because Kate is there babysitting. It’s my last episode recap, man! I gotta come up with more words about how bad Kate is?
The next morning at Lizzie’s house, Lizzie and Miranda brace for a day of humiliation at school because I guess Miranda spent the night? She doesn’t usually spend the night on school nights. This episode is making Lizzie and Miranda seem a lot closer than they usually are. It’s an improvement, but it’s definitely off.
There’s a weird moment that feels meta to me when they get to school and see no immediate backlash. “Maybe we overestimated Kate’s influence,” says Lizzie. “Yeah, maybe she’s not as popular or venomous as we make her out to be,” Miranda agrees. “Maybe she’s a badly written character portrayed by an actress who lacks the presence and composure to project the intimidation necessitated by the scripts and therefore none of the other characters’ motivations surrounding Kate will ever fully make satisfying sense,” I concur, alone in my room eating a croissant almost 13 years after this episode premiered.
Anyway, we’re all proven wrong because Kate has covered their lockers with Clover and Daisy pictures and the word BABIES. This isn’t great, but they could just rip it off, right? Instead they try to cover it up by just…standing under the word BABIES like it’s a label.
A giant crowd gathers around and starts laughing at them, even though this prank isn’t particularly funny, as it requires a lot of context that I imagine not everyone would have. Upsettingly, even Ethan laughs at them! Ethan, you’re too good and dumb for this!!
Gordo refuses to take any of it personally and is really annoying about how much he doesn’t let others’ opinions get to him. I guess this week we get dumb goofball Gordo, which is better than Gordo Being the Worst Gordo but still pretty irritating.
Jo tries to comfort Lizzie after school by saying that all the kids at school still probably like things from when they were little too. That isn’t advice I would necessarily bank on. Jo goes a step further by revealing that she still cuddles with her old stuffed animal as a grown-ass adult woman, which struck me as idiosyncratic but maybe understandable, but she follows it up with “And my blankie,” which put it firmly into weird territory to me. How bad is Jo’s life that she stays home alone all day cuddling a stuffed animal and blanket like a child? Matt brings another group into Lizzie’s room to show off the vomit stains, which answers my question. Jo’s life is pretty bad. However, Jo again accepts his explanation that it’s a study group, and that’s on her.
Lizzie and Miranda wear pencil skirts and heels to school the next day and try to appear more grown-up. They tell Kate they attended the Clover and Daisy taping as part of their “thesis” for their “pre-college” program studying “sociology and childhood development,” which is moderately amusing. Kate could have a solid comeback if she called out the fact that Lizzie and Miranda are clearly lying, as they had sputtered that they were “also babysitting” when she saw them at the taping. Instead she says, “That sounds amazing! Too bad I don’t believe it.” Her banter is always such weaksauce, man. She’ll never have a burn as harsh as “Nobody likes you, Kate.”
At lunch, Gordo offers up the same conclusion as Jo: that the other kids in school are just jealous because they can’t admit they also like Clover and Daisy. That seems like a pretty big gamble! He starts singing the Clover and Daisy theme song, which inspires Lizzie to stand up on the table and announce that she did go to a Clover and Daisy taping and that Kate could learn something from the show about being nice and sharing and helping each other. It’s way too much. If she just announced that she didn’t care that she went to the taping that’d be fine, but she seems way too into this kids’ show. It’s Brony-adjacent enthusiasm at this point.
Then she starts singing one of the Clover and Daisy songs and all of the students in the courtyard join in. This episode has gone off the rails. However, Ethan breaks out some of his signature terrible dance moves here, which almost makes it worth it.
That night, the McGuire parents answer the door for some kids asking about the dirt museum, which finally makes them realize that Matt isn’t having study groups over every day. There’s a pretty dumb scene of Matt trying to protect the dust bunny from Jo’s vacuum, and uh…that’s it. That’s how Lizzie McGuire ends. No scene at the end of Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo saying they’re gonna keep being themselves and being there for each other even though they’re getting older. No Lizzie thanking her mom for comforting her and offering her advice. This feels anticlimactic.
But it’s the end! We did it, y’all. I’m gonna take a week off since I didn’t for the holidays this year, but I’ll be back in 2017 with some final posts – Season 2 Reviewed, Lizzie McGuire (as a whole!) Reviewed, my review of the movie, and more. As always, thanks for reading.
Unnecessary references: Matt says a stain looks like Carrot Top. This is the show’s second Carrot Top reference, which is at least one too many.
Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a shirt that looks almost identical to her rodeo shirt, but this one says DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND. Miranda wears a flight suit?
Miranda also wears a shirt that looks homemade. Her outfitting is so much more interesting than her actual canon characterization. This look makes me picture her at home, blasting Good Charlotte and surrounded by puffy paint, ripping up an old T-shirt to feel like a badass.
Why…does Kate’s hair…always look like this….
The McGuire parents wear pajamas that are so over-the-top they seem like parodies of pajamas. Who really wears housecoats like that? The director clearly didn’t think these obvious pjs or the obvious darkness outside really conveyed that it was nighttime, so Sam also has to carry an overly obvious signifier of a nighttime snack: cookies and milk. This part lasted like 15 seconds but was still jarring, because it felt like it was taken from a show in the 1950s.
Other interesting tidbits: Every once in a while there will be an alternate episode title that some sources use. This one seems like it was called Lizzie and Miranda’s Magic Train in some places, which is a way better title.
Matt’s dust bunny gets a sign that says “2000 – 2002.” But this episode didn’t air until February 2004! For context, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Cheaper by the Dozen had already been released at this point. “Bye Bye Hillridge Junior High” aired over a year before this one.
I know why I liked this one! It was written by Amy and Wendy Engelberg, who also wrote “Scarlett Larry” (and Stuck in the Suburbs, too). Their work is pretty solid. I loved the Miranda/Lizzie dynamic here, and the central idea of giving up something you used to like because you feel too old for it is realistic and interesting. I don’t like how it was resolved at all, but this one wasn’t a chore to watch.
At one point Kate, clad in an unflattering turtleneck and fussy hairdo, greets Lizzie and Miranda by saying, “Hello, girls!” It’s so awkward and she sounds so extremely uncool. She doesn’t seem like a middle schooler at all.
In fact, this is what it made me think of:
18 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 34: “Magic Train””
Suprisingly I really liked this episode. When I saw the title and episode description I thought I’d hate it, but it was pretty well done for the standards this show has and it did at least cover a problem I imagine some middle schoolers might have ACTUALLY had (ehhem Frankie Muniz), but it shows that no matter how competent the writers were the show just suffered from a case of bad actors and innconsistent characters. Also this being the last aired episode just exacerbates my problem with the airing order. I can’t find any disernable reason for it! The show took random 1 month airing breaks in the second season and this episode aired over two months after the Christmas episode. If they had actually followed a reasonable airing schedule they could have fit the entire second season in before the movie. Even though this episode wasn’t bad it had no ending resolution. If they had ended it with Bunkies or an episode to that effect then at least it would have seemed they put some sort of effort in it, but instead it seems they picked an airing order out of a hat.
Loved all of your reviews and looking forward to the movie (which I actually liked) review! Thanks for doing this!
I agree with all of this! I thought this one was pretty charming and legitimately funny across the board.
I imagine they had to have wanted to stretch the show out as long as possible. I remember seeing commercials that began “This week on an all-new Lizzie McGuire!” and thinking “Wait, didn’t they already air the finale?” Lizzie was the first big cash cow for Disney, so I’m sure they wanted to keep it on as long as they could convince people to buy merch and DVDs. But that doesn’t explain the extreme laziness of the airing order at all.
Firstly, congrats on reaching the last episode!
Your comments about Lizzie and Miranda’s “friendship” are interesting, because it points out the sharp contrast between them and modern-day Disney Channel Best Friends *TM. Since the days of, I want to say Hannah Montana, DC goes way over the top to show the main characters are best friends. They say it every episode and in a few cases the best friend moves in with the main character (see: Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Best Friends Whenever I think? Not sure, I haven’t seen BFW.) Girl Meets World is a top offender here. It’s a long way from Lizzie McGuire, where the female best friend is pushed out in favor of the best friend-male BFF/love interest dynamic.
I also wonder if Magic Train is a better finale episode in retrospect. Think about it – Lizzie and Miranda learn it’s okay to reserve a place in their hearts for favorite childhood shows. A topic explored on a blog dedicated to a kid show we all used to watch in/around middle school. There’s a “full circle” element here, especially given today’s obsession with ’90s/early ’00s Nickelodeon and Disney. It’s almost become cool to wax nostalgic about shows we watched when we were kids. In a way the show unintentionally foreshadowed how fans would feel about Lizzie McGuire in the future.
(And yes, I know I’m reaching. They just messed up the episode order.)
Oooh, I’m loving this. Never be afraid to get deep in the LMR comments!!
I stopped watching/being aware of Disney shows around the time of Suite Life, since that’s when my youngest sibling stopped watching, so I only have a vague awareness of the later shows. Did any of the others have the same female BFF + male BFF who becomes a love interest dynamic? That’s So Raven had a similar trio but no will they/won’t they, and Phil of the Future’s Phil/Keely endgame seemed baked into it from the start. But Hannah Montana didn’t ever…date her friends, right?
I’d be totally down with this as any kind of finale if they’d ended on a nicer beat than a zany Matt bit. All of the Lizzie and Miranda scenes were very real and resonant, and they touched on themes about getting older that weren’t even covered in the actual finale. But it could definitely go further in making it particularly moving, which I’m sure they didn’t attempt to do because IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO AIR LAST.
Oh, and it’s definitely cool to obsess over 90s/00s kids shows now. For sure. It feels like mostly BuzzFeed’s fault. Part of the reason I started this blog was the abundance of “15 COMPLETELY ICONIC MOMENTS FROM LIZZIE MCGUIRE” or “35 OF THE MOST AMAZING LIZZIE MCGUIRE OUTFITS” or “750 REASONS LIZZIE AND GORDO WERE #GOALS AF” lists everywhere and no one saying, “Man, Lizzie McGuire was just okay, right? It kinda sucked sometimes.”
“But Hannah Montana didn’t ever…date her friends, right?”
^ No… but she dated her brother on the show, and her brother told the whole world how he was in love with her. Must have been weird when her identity finally got revealed.
I perfer to the shows where it seems like no character actually likes each other. (Cough Jessie Cough)
I got into Disney Channel again around the time my sister started watching Hannah Montana, etc. I became obsessed with Wizards, then the last two shows I really watched were Good Luck Charlie and Phineas & Ferb (see below comment).
Wizards of Waverly Place was odd in terms of romance. Believe it or not, people shipped biological siblings Alex and Justin Russo. They shipped it HARD – I saw too many fanfics where they turned out not to be related. The actors had way too much chemistry, so the characters’ canon relationships were never as popular with the fans. As for actual ships, Alex’s best friend Harper and Justin’s best friend Zeke got together. Note that this is after Harper’s creepy, stalkerish crush on Justin that’s played for laughs and never goes anywhere.
Anyway, I agree, Buzzfeed and the like play up readers’ nostalgia for these shows. I guess in a way it’s nice because people no longer have to be embarrassed like Lizzie and Miranda. While some kid shows like Lizzie McGuire weren’t actually that good, there were better ones that deserve way more attention. I still marathon So Weird at least once a year.
(Also I agree with the above comment – from what I saw of it, Jessie was awful.)
Re: the comments above… Raven and Eddie had a thing! That was weird to me, tbh. I don’t remember much build up between the two of them except for the online dating episode. (That actually might have been the only instance. I’m not sure.) And on Hannah Montana, Miley’s best friend Lilly ended up with their best guy friend Oliver. I always felt like it was a twist to not have the main character end up with the male best friend. Miley/Hannah mostly dated celebrities. At least on THAT show it made sense, hahaha.
I commend you for making it through all 65 episodes. Seriously! You must feel so relieved, omg. (I’m only 11 into mine. I understand it’s an incredibly daunting and time-consuming task. So, yeah. You get all the respect and awards right now! lol) I’m reallyyy looking forward to your review of the movie! 😀 Enjoy your week off!
Raven and Eddie and Lilly and Oliver are the only ones I can think of too. Do Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable count? Kim had female friends but her BFF was Ron, who became her boyfriend in the last season. I’m not sure about any show past Good Luck Charlie (a show that focused more on family, which was refreshing) and Phineas & Ferb. Oh! On Phineas & Ferb, the main ship was Phineas and best female friend Isabella.
I also keep tabs on Girl Meets World since I loved Boy Meets World. GMW is this weird combination of forced drama and weak humor. They promote a TIGHT BFF-ship between Riley Matthews and her sister-from-another-mister Maya. (Because they’re the new Corey and Shawn. Get it? If you don’t, you will after the first five minutes.) I mean, they say they love each other so much that I believe Maya/Riley is a fan ship. But then they did this weird arc where both girls like the same guy. It’s a mess.
I was only thinking of/counting live action shows! I was never a big fan of animated shows so I only watched Kim Possible occasionally and I’ve never seen a full episode of Phineas and Ferb.
But, yessssss. My mom and I watch GMW whenever it’s on to keep tabs as well and cringe/laugh at how off the rails it is. I was going to mention the main trio love triangle drama!! God. Could you imagine if that happened on Lizzie? *gags at the thought.* It was so uncomfortable, far too melodramatic, and was dragged out for way too long. I don’t even like Lucas! He can’t be Riley’s “forever” relationship like Cory/Topanga. He’s too much of a pretty-boy. They make a strange couple, imo. Riley should absolutely be with that Charlie Gardner kid. I’m still so mad they wrote him out in favor of LOVE TRIANGLE MELODRAMA!
You hit the nail on the head with “forced drama and weak humor.” It’s all terribly written and acted. (Not to mention, the whole Maya/Shawn relationship dynamic is CREEPY. Like, is that just me? Or?) And yeah! Riley/Maya’s friendship is overkill with the “we love each other” stuff all the time. Like, CHILL! haha. I’ve heard that it might not get renewed for a Season 4. Not surprising. Because, yeah… It’s a mess.
“He can’t be Riley’s “forever” relationship like Cory/Topanga. He’s too much of a pretty-boy. They make a strange couple, imo. Riley should absolutely be with that Charlie Gardner kid. I’m still so mad they wrote him out in favor of LOVE TRIANGLE MELODRAMA!”
^ I never saw him as someone who could be with Riley until the very end of the show. She always seemed too young for him – maybe because Peyton Meyer was born in 1998 and looked it while Rowan Blanchard was born in 2001 and looked 11 in season one. Also, chemistry wise, Lucas had more in tune with Maya, and they even looked good together. Cue season 2, when everyone looks older (especially Farkle!) Maya and Lucas just seem like the ideal pair. And then the love triangle started, and I was okay with that, until they ended it in the dumbest way possible, with Maya “becoming” Riley and “renouncing” all feelings for Lucas as if the feelings were false and the moment she said it out loud, they dissipated.
But I never thought Riley should be with Charlie. He came off .. like a creep.
You’ve touched on how you like the sweet Lizzie/Miranda friend moments before. I believe there’s a pretty good show lurking in here somewhere. A single camera, on-location show about a relate-able middle school girl (and relateable storylines) with a best friend that really acts like a best friend and even a male best friend that is sweet and supportive while still being very much a guy and maybe not necessary a love interest. But I don’t think that show would ever be put on Disney Channel these days.
And you’re right, Kate never looked like a middle schooler in this show. Always in fuzzy, fussy sweaters with her over done hair. And her supposed rich clothes look so boring and generic in blah colors. And I love you your inclusion of Bob’s Burgers. I love that show. I think if we knew each other outside the internet, we’d be friends.
Your second sentence is EXACTLY how I feel about the show: there’s the basis for a good show here that just somehow never came to fruition. The weird thing to me is that everyone seems to remember this show as the great show it could have been but don’t recall any of the flaws.
“if Gordo had been here he would have complained about them talking about makeup, lectured them about maturity when they took a moment to realize how old they were getting, and scolded them for herd mentality when they divulged their interest in the kids’ show like it was a secret”
^ Well… there’s a truth bomb right there.
“When it’s just Lizzie and Miranda, they can actually be girly and excitable and have fun together.”
^ Ugh, “girly”. I always dislike hearing or saying “girly” or “manly”. I’m weird/different, I know.
“Gordo says they should all ignore societal norms and just go. I involuntarily physically facepalmed here, because Lizzie says that’s a very evolved position for Gordo to take and he responds, “If ‘evolved’ means that I can like Foo Fighters, vintage pinball, AND Clover and Daisy, then thank you. I’m evolved.” This fuckin hipster ruins everything.”
^ HEY! While I agree with your gripes on Gordo most of the time, this episode is certainly not one of those. I liked Gordo in this episode; he made sense, and it was in character. He always was the one who spouted that he didn’t care what other think and that Lizzie & Miranda shouldn’t either. And he wasn’t yelling at anyone this episode, or doing his other “Gordo is the Worst” stuff.
“How bad is Jo’s life that she stays home alone all day cuddling a stuffed animal and blanket like a child?”
^ I mean… she is married to that doofus Sam. Who I can’t imagine as being the husband Jo really wants… which is probably why she took Matt to see shirtless Tarzan with the loincloth without notifying Sam since Sam was aware Jo was attracted to him.
“Matt’s dust bunny gets a sign that says “2000 – 2002.” But this episode didn’t air until February 2004! For context, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Cheaper by the Dozen had already been released at this point. ”
^ The movie was already released by that point? oh yeah, 2003. This was one of those shows that filmed in 2000-early 2002 and then aired from 2001-2004. They stretched it out til ’04 even though they filmed the episodes before, including the finale… so when they got together in ’02 to film the movie that came out in ’03, the show hadn’t even gone through the final episodes yet. But whatever – money speaks volume, and Lizzie McGuire earned a lot for them.
” There’s a pretty dumb scene of Matt trying to protect the dust bunny from Jo’s vacuum, and uh…that’s it. That’s how Lizzie McGuire ends. No scene at the end of Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo saying they’re gonna keep being themselves and being there for each other even though they’re getting older. No Lizzie thanking her mom for comforting her and offering her advice. This feels anticlimactic.”
^ So.. this is the episode they chose to air as their finale. That’s weird. Why would they do that… what a way to end the show. But at least there’s the movie, right?
One reason Season Two episodes aired out of order was because the Disney Channel had its viewers go on the website and vote for which Lizzie McGuire episode they wanted to air next. They’d put up two episodes and ask us which episode we wanted to see that week, and the episodes that didn’t win were aired later. I can’t remember which one this episode came up against, but I definitely remember seeing it advertised during the summer of 2002. It was either Best Dressed or Those Freaky McGuires, or some other episode up against this one so…yeah,
Also, this episode would have worked best as a Season One episode – I would have rather this aired as the second or third episode.
WHAT?! That’s so weird!!!!!!!!! I don’t remember that at all!