Weird Science

Season 3 Episode 6

Gary Wallace: Boy Reporter

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM May 13, 1995 on USA
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Gary Wallace: Boy Reporter
Gary decides to join the school newspaper as a reporter, in order to get closer to the girl that serves as editor on the paper. The only problem is that Gary has never read any news except for tabloids. Gary has nothing to report about, so Lisa creates an equalizer, which is a magical pen that will make whatever you write come true. Now the town is full of UFOs, Elvis encounters, a two-headed Scotsman, and even Chett as a Yeti.moreless

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  • A news flash for Camera Boy and Spaz Reporter.

    Remember school activities? Well, the staff of Farber High's newspaper ("The Farber Sentinel") now includes Wyatt and Gary. Wyatt is returning as a photographer, but newcomer Gary is uninterested at working at the paper in any fashion. (Then why did he even show up to the orientation meeting?) Enter Marie Koontz, whom Gary finds rather appealing. Since journalism is her passion, you can easily guess how he proceeds. However, the work required to find real news isn't too appealing to him. (Gary: "That could take hours.") Throw in a magic pen filled with tabloid ink (courtesy of Lisa) and Marie's fake fishsticks story, though, and get ready for some offbeat reporting. Wyatt's picture taking ambitions and Chett round things out.

    "Gary Wallace: Boy Reporter" was another great episode. I think this is one of the more grounded episodes of the show, actually (Yeti Chett and such notwithstanding). The "reporting tabloid stories that are real" angle isn't as prevalent as you'd think. We see a UFO and only hear about some of the other tabloid-style news items (aside from what happens to Chett, of course). At one point, I recall being a little miffed about this. I thought that there could've been a lot of funny moments derived from seeing Wyatt and Gary encounter tabloid-esque things. While I still think that, I now think that doing so would've detracted from the more grounded feel that I mentioned earlier. The money needed to produce multiple sights may've been a factor, too.


    - A lot of the enjoyment for me comes from seeing Wyatt and Gary pursuing more regular interests (better picture taking for the former, and getting a girlfriend for the latter). While it's usually fun to see the two deal with more "out there" stuff, it's also neat to see a break from that now and then.

    - Gary's eagerness over being a reporter in one scene that then seems to fade in the next. The large pile of crumpled paper -- likely many unusable story ideas -- really makes it funny.

    - The relationship between Gary and Marie is rather clichéd. At the beginning of the episode, Gary is clearly interested in Marie, but she rejects him and even insults him a bit (getting in some good zingers, by the way). Gary remains persistent, though. He even convinces Marie that they should team-up on her fake fishsticks story, which will help prove that the superintendent is (per Marie) "skimming from school funds to invest in real estate." Claiming to know a solid source, Gary uses the magic pen to make up phony leads to impress her with. The more he seems like a great reporter, the more she actually becomes fond of him. By the end, they seem like a new couple (or at least getting along better).

    Like I said, it's rather clichéd. Some of the basic points ("guy trying to impress a girl by being good at her given interest", "said girl slowly becoming fond of said boy as time goes on", and probably some others) are hardly new. Why put this in the highlights, then? Because the episode doesn't make any of this stuff feel clichéd, or phoned in, or whatever. Just because it isn't actually fresh doesn't mean that it can't feel fresh, and this episode accomplishes that. Gary and Marie (particularly after they team-up on the story) have good chemistry. I think they make a good couple. Kudos to John Mallory Asher and Jennifer Burns.

    - Gary's first use of the magic pen brings a UFO into the night sky. It shines a light on Wyatt and Gary, allowing us to briefly see their skeletons. The effects still look pretty good today.

    - Poor Chett really takes some serious abuse, this time. Gary and Lisa use the magic pen while brainstorming for story ideas, inadvertently causing Chett to endure during his shower:

    1) spontaneous combustion (mostly off-screen);

    2) becoming a giant, mutated octopus (again, mostly off-screen);

    3) becoming a two-headed Scotsman (this is also mostly off-screen, but what little you can see of the two heads appear to look at each other while the bagpipes play);

    4) becoming the Abominable Snowman (the transformation is off-screen, but we see the results after Chett steps out of the shower).

    Chett oddly doesn't seem to notice that last change, aside from feeling rather warm. By the way, the Abominable Snowman get-up looks pretty good.

    - The Abominable Chett's efforts to stay cool. This includes his inadvertently terrorizing Java Man patrons and workers in the hopes of buying a snow cone. He later spooks, but then mainly just annoys a young couple at (I think) Pinecrest Peak by stealing their ice cream and locking them out of their car. He ends up going to Farber High, but more on that later.

    - Wyatt's poor attempts at taking pictures of whatever Gary writes about (which, besides the UFO, reportedly include a giant lobster, a phantom 747 landing, Liberace's ghost, and Elvis being breast-fed by Bigfoot). Botching these golden opportunities irks him a bit, and he strives to do better. Seeing him wear that large set-up of multiple cameras is funny, as is Lisa having to remove the lens caps just before he can seek out picture opportunities. I also liked how proud Wyatt was over how well his picture of the Abominable Chett came out. You can really only see a patch of hair, but it was in focus.

    - Throughout their supposed investigation, Gary and Marie go to the Java Man, sit in a parked car at Pinecrest Peak, snoop around Principal Scampi's office, and head into the Farber High freezer (pretty much the result of Gary making up leads with the magic pen). Lots of ups and down for both, especially the would-be reporter. A lot of them relate to the two's changing relationship. A pretty much non-related one, though, occurs during the search through Principal Scampi's office. Gary tries to make up a lead that lies in a cabinet. However, he misspells 'fish' as 'fist' with the magic pen, so he gets a punch in the face upon opening the door. Cue laugh.

    - After accidentally getting locked in the freezer, Marie desperately tries to open the door. Gary remains quite calm, at least until he realizes that the magic pen's ink has leaked out and that he can no longer write with it. He then panics even more than Marie did.

    - The encounter between photographer Wyatt (with the large set-up of cameras) and the Abominable Chett at Farber High. Picture both screaming, as camera flashes go off. Funny stuff.

    - Locked in the freezer, Marie compliments Gary's reporting skills and admits that he's inspired her. Gary feels a bit guilty and (without going into details) tries to come clean by saying that his pen "really does all the work." He then opts to do a little searching to find the truth about the fake fishsticks, uncovering a package of (fishless) Breaded Soy Fingers. I liked that the improvisation with the magic pen still led to legitimately breaking Marie's story. Before feeling guilty, Gary's journalistic interest in it was (at best) minimal, and he was just out to "lead her on" (per Lisa). To leave Marie high and dry with her story would've been a bit cruel.

    - Gary and Marie are able to escape the locked freezer because the Abominable Chett busts in, looking for a cool place to be. His joy is short-lived, however, as he gets chased off by Wyatt and his cameras. (For those that are interested, Marie gets hit on the head by a falling container or something during Chett's forced entry and misses seeing him.)

    - Running through the hallways of Farber High, Chett returns to normal (hilariously, just as he lets out a loud yell). He doesn't appear to remember anything. (Chett: "Naked, dazed, and I have no idea how I got here. Huh, that's the third time this month.") Things only get worse for him, though, because he gets confronted by a security guard.


    - Right after the UFO encounter, Wyatt gleefully starts taking pictures of stuff off-screen. However, it looks like he's only getting stuff that would be right in front of him (you know, like at eye-level). Shouldn't he be aiming his camera up at the sky where we saw the UFO, instead? I don't recall any mention of UFO occupants beaming on down.

    - Based on that final headline at the end of the episode, Gary seems to have a new relationship with Marie. However, I don't think we ever saw her again after this. That's too bad because I thought Marie was a good character. And, no matter what show it is, it also bugs me when changes to the status quo (like a main character having a new relationship) just get glossed over. I guess this isn't specifically this episode's fault (it's probably more of a general show problem), but I might as well mention it here.


    "Gary Wallace: Boy Reporter" was indeed a great episode. Very solid stuff. And for those interested in the whole "reporting real tabloid-style stories" thing, check out that TV show, "The Chronicle". I enjoyed that show a lot, too.moreless

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