There is only one thing worse than showing a series’ premiere episode out of order. And that is showing a series’ Finale out of order! Showing the final episode *half way* through the season makes no sense whatsoever. Showing the end now can only lead to mass confusion. And a confused audience is not a happy audience. And an unhappy audience isn’t an audience for long. Madness. Sheer madness!
That being said, this is it, ‘The Big One’. The final episode of the series. And the big question on fans minds: do Lizzie and Gordo hook up? By the end of the episode all indications tend to point to a big *yes*!
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get into meat of this here steak.
I myself had a greater wish to see this episode than perhaps others. This is because I’ve had in my possession since October the Shooting Script for this episode, and I was very interested to see what differences (if any) there would be between it and the final edited, aired, version.
I was surprised at the amount of change that was made, though I don’t know why, since I’ve seen far greater deviation from Shooting Script to aired episode in other series. While the basic bones are the same from Shooting Script through to aired episode, there were many changes. Among them: slight to major dialogue changes. Scene order shifts. Others cut. Even whole characters are eliminated (Claire, Parker) and added (Mr. Lang).
I estimate a good 1/4 of the episode is different all together. Probably a little bit more. Some of the changes are for the better, some I liked better in the Shooting Script form. But one fact is undeniable; the episode is more fluid in its final aired state. Though I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I preferred the Shooting Script version of what Gordo writes in Lizzie’s yearbook. It was potentially mawkish, but it at least had a slightly more romantic edge to it than what was eventually settled upon.
So, I am left at a bit of a quandary. To be a good reviewer I know that I must base my opinion of the episode on the episode as it aired, not as it was scripted in the beginning. But knowing this, and doing it are two different things. So, what I’ll do is split the difference.
Sam and Jo awaken to find Matt sleeping with his feet in the fridge. He was hot and the air conditioning is busted. Lizzie comes down excited about going to High School. Jo starts tearing up about how Lizzie’s growing up.
At this point the Shooting Script and the aired episode diverge. The episode as aired extends the scene longer, and adds dialogue that wasn’t in the Shooting Script.
We then follow Gordo and Lizzie as they go to school. Lizzie finds the ‘rules’ the High School seniors have circulated to the ‘soon to be’ freshmen.
At this point the Shooting Script and the aired episode part ways again. In the Shooting Script Kate and Claire show up to give Lizzie (and Gordo) a hard time. In the aired episode Claire never shows up. As well there are the expected minor/major dialogue changes.
Also, in the Shooting Script Gordo’s flashback is more extensive than what is seen in the aired episode.
After this point there is a scene in the Shooting Script in which Jo and Matt engage in flashbacks about Lizzie’s being a good sister. In the aired episode only a small part of this scene is used (sans flashbacks) and is actually rearranged within the ‘timeline’ of the story. This is perhaps the most extensive change from the Shooting Script to the aired episode.
After that, Sam talks to Lizzie about her experiences in Middle School and her going to High School. This is (pretty much) the same in both Shooting Script and aired episode, with some minor dialogue changes (though the whole explanation of how Sam met Jo isn’t in the Shooting Script).
Next we see Gordo and Lizzie looking over their yearbooks, Tudgeman wanting Lizzie to sign his yearbook, and Gordo thinking back to “First Kiss”. Only minor changes are made from the Shooting Script and the aired episode.
At this point the Shooting Script and the aired episode diverge once again. In the script we see Gordo sweaty over trying to summon the courage to write in Lizzie’s yearbook while she goes off to get some lunch. Tudgeman then surmises that Gordo’s got “lady troubles”. At this point Parker comes up asking Gordo to sign her yearbook and we are subject to a flashback to “A Gordo Story”.
But in the aired episode Parker never shows up (and thus, no flashback), Lizzie isn’t part of the scene, and Tudgeman *knows* that Gordo is sweaty over Lizzie (I guess Kate was right. Everyone *does* know he likes Lizzie!).
Following this, the Shooting Script shows flashbacks of “First Kiss” and “Dear Lizzie”. In the aired episode the “Dear Lizzie” flashback is replaced by one from “Clueless”.
Then, in the Shooting Script, Lizzie has an awkward moment with Gordo, unable to bring herself to tell him something. And then there’s a whole conversation with Gordo that lifts the veil from Lizzie’s eyes as to Ethan and her crush over him comes to an end. Also, the whole ‘map thing’ isn’t there.
In the aired episode there is no awkward moment, and there is no discussion of Lizzie’s crush on Ethan. Plus, what they write in each other’s yearbooks is different. Plus a flashback is missing.
Then comes Tudgeman’s confrontation with Kate. Slightly different (for the better) in the aired episode than in the Shooting Script.
There after, comes Gordo comforting Lizzie some more at her home. The aired episode is significantly shorter than what was originally in the Shooting Script. Both in dialogue and number of flashbacks.
And then there’s Lizzie reading Gordo’s entry in her yearbook. As I said before, I much prefer the Shooting Script version of this. True, it is a bit ‘sappy’, but it’s still better than what we get in the final aired episode.
Well, here, you judge for yourselves.
Here is the quote as it is in the aired episode:
“Dear Lizzie. You rock. Don’t ever change. And only, I really mean it.”
Here it is as it was written in the Shooting Script:
“Dear Lizzie. We’ve been best friends for as long as I can remember. We’ve shared everything together and so I feel I should finally share this with you. I really, really like you a lot and I think you’re beautiful, both inside and out. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am without you and your friendship. There’s nothing to be afraid of if we have each other. I will always be by your side. Your friend always, and hopefully more if you want. Gordo.”
Now, I ask you, the fans. Which version do *you* prefer? What we got, or what was originally in the Shooting Script? I know which one *I* like better. :-)
And really, which one would *you* think would make a young teenage girl respond with an exclamation of “Oh my gosh!”
The ending, where Lizzie kisses Gordo on the cheek in the class photo thankfully is (mostly) unaltered.
Overall, the biggest difference between the aired version and the Shooting Script is length. Length of the scenes, length of the dialogue. Basically, the aired episode shows less than the Shooting Script did and the characters say less than they did in the Shooting Script. There are other changes to be sure, but the length difference of everything seems to be what hits one the most.
I think that if I were to have come into this episode without an idea of what happens I’d still come away slightly disappointed, I would feel a lack of ‘something’.
In the Shooting Script the Lizzie/Gordo romance thread, and subsequently Lizzie and Gordo’s feelings towards each other, is much more evident. As is, the aired episode almost seems to make no sense to some degree in regards to the episode that has come before this one; “Clueless”. In “Clueless” Kate informs Lizzie that Gordo likes her, and Lizzie makes her own determination that this is true.
Yet, in this episode, Lizzie acts oblivious to that fact. She even goes so far as to say that Larry Tudgeman was the only boy in Junior High who ever truly liked her. Um, hello? How can she forget what she just learned two episodes ago (in production order)? Either Lizzie has short-term memory damage or something is just plain wrong.
And it is that lack of Lizzie’s exploration of her feelings for Gordo which isn’t touched upon here (but is, to some degree, in the Shooting Script) that gives this episode a very ‘one sided feeling’. As it’s shown, one has a problem understanding Lizzie’s sudden ‘dawning’ of feelings toward Lizzie. While Hilary does a fantastic job of displaying this sudden flush of feeling, it just doesn’t feel quite right because there’s no ‘build up’. We saw Lizzie ‘flushed and lightheaded’ at the end of “Clueless”, but throughout most of this episode it is like that previous episode never happened. That’s a continuity gap too large to really handle.
As it’s shown, one has a problem with understanding Lizzie’s sudden ‘dawning’. The entry Gordo wrote (as filmed) doesn’t seem to have enough ‘oomph’ behind it to make her suddenly ‘see the light’.
But I suppose that at the end of the day the Lizzie/Gordo plot thread is resolved, and favorably, so it doesn’t really matter whether it was ‘better’ in one version or another.
But while one plot thread is resolved, another is left hanging. And that would be the ‘Redemption of Kate’ plot thread. The aired version holds the same complaint that I had with the Shooting Script: namely that in this, the final episode, one could reasonably expect to see another ‘Good Kate’ moment, letting us, the audience, know (once again) that Kate is on the resolute path back towards Lizzie and gang. But no such tid bit is here. Disappointing. While one couldn’t very well expect her ‘conversion’, one would have thought another ‘emotional pit stop’ would have been merited. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to wait for the motion picture to see Kate’s further development. ;-)
Those being the major items of interest, let’s focus our attention on the more ‘minor’ details of this episode.
As far as reoccurring characters go, the Shooting Script called for the presence of Claire and Parker. In the final aired version neither makes an appearance. Interesting. Was this changed for ‘story trimming’ reasons, or were the actresses who play the parts unavailable?
Also, Mr. Lang, who isn’t in the Shooting Script *is* in the final aired version.
As far as the still pictures in the yearbook go, there are a few questions.
For starters, who shot the picture of Miranda stuffing her face with frosting from “Working Girl”? That happened inside Lizzie’s house and no one had a camera!
And then there’s the picture of Lizzie sitting on the curb with Ronny right before they kiss. There was no one around then either, except Gordo! So who took the picture?
And if one looks closely, one of the pictures features Kate in the midst of the food fight from “She Said, He Said, She Said”, and in the same frame it appears to be Veruca standing next to her. But I don’t remember Veruca being in that episode! Could someone give me a confirmation?
Speaking of confirmation, something that long time Lizzie/Gordo shippers held to their hearts is apparently true. When Lizzie has her ‘revelation’ about her feelings for Gordo at the end of the episode, there is a flood of Lizzie/Gordo clips shown to romantic music. Among them? The over long panning reaction shot between Lizzie and Gordo way back in “Pool Party” when they were in the library together. It looks like that really *was* a ‘moment’ they shared! I was dubious, but open to the idea. It looks like those folks who pegged it as a ‘shipper moment were right!
On a real world note, notice the song used at the end. It’s “I Can’t Wait”, the song that Hilary Duff herself sang! Her own material is being used in the show’s final episode. That is neat.
Also on a real world note, get a load of Kyle’s ‘wet willie’ on Ashlie in the bloopers. Oh, she looked fit to be tied on that one! Humorous outtake there.
Miranda. Her presence or absence is always of note. Her explanation for not being in this episode is a good one. It is a relief that she hasn’t been ‘written out’ of the fictional universe. That in the mythical ‘third season’ of the show that Miranda would be back and ready to engage in more adventures with her friends. In fact, the reason is so good that one doesn’t miss Miranda’s being gone, doesn’t even notice. Which is a credit to the writer.
As far as the subplot goes, it is notable for its truncated quality. It was the same in the Shooting Script, but it’s pared down even more in the final aired version. It’s practically none existent. It’s pretty clear that this episode is about Lizzie and the tying up of the Gordo/Lizzie plot thread.
Well, here we are, at the end of ‘an era’. We’ve seen highs (many of them) and lows (very few). And through it all we’ve gotten by with a little help from our friends Lizzie, Gordo and Miranda. In this episode we leave Lizzie and Gordo on a new plateau in their relationship. Miranda on a vacation in Mexico with her family. Kate on her continuing quest for redemption. Larry as gaining more confidence in himself. And Ethan as, well, Ethan. ;-)
Overall, I’d have to say that this is a good Series Finale, even if I *am* slightly under whelmed. But I admit that I’m bias, having read the original draft of the script. Even so, I tend to think my opinion would be the same. But even taking that into account, I still like it, and it is still one of (if not the) best Series Finales I’ve ever seen. It’s not sad by any means. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. This Series Finale is all about new beginnings, new opportunities.
In that mythical land where fictional characters live forever, free to enjoy never ending adventures, somewhere out there in a little corner is “Lizzie McGuire” and our friends wonderful Lizzie, insightful Gordo, and fun loving Miranda.
I salute you three. And in the decades and centuries to come may your exploits inspire and comfort many millions of children, both young and old at heart, around the world, and in the vast cosmos of space.
I leave you with this quote from the theme song:
“But we get one step closer each and every day. We’ll figure it out on the way.”