Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hi! Pete & Pete Fan Here...

The Adventures of Pete and Pete is quite possibly the most influential children's show of my youth.  At some point, maybe when I was eight, I figured out how to use the recording device on my boombox. So of course, one Saturday afternoon, I held the boombox up to the TV and recorded the audio of several episodes of Pete and Pete. Because you couldn't see any of it from my audio recording, I added helpful narrations. During the opening credits - with Polaris performing their iconic song Hey Sandy - I spoke the names of the characters as they were introduced. In fact, when I introduce Dad by saying "Dad", you can hear my own dad yell "What?" from the kitchen. DIY ingenuity was a major theme in The Adventures of Pete and Pete and it was inspiring to me as a kid.

I'm grateful that I exist in a version of the universe where The Adventures of Pete and Pete was a show on Nickelodeon that lasted three glorious seasons in the early 90's. To give a quick synopsis, it's a show about two brothers, both named Pete, and their usual, yet not so usual, lives in the American town of Wellsville. They deal with middle and high school issues: bullies, strict teachers, parents, girls, friends, summer jobs, rules, social conflict - the typical fare of kids shows. However, if you take these basic stories and add superb camera work, clever set design, fine-tuned comedic timing, and a non-conformist flavor, you have the smartest live action kids show ever made.

Pete and Pete taught me about classic TV and movie tropes while turning them on their head. It taught me about rebellion and sarcasm, but also hope and friendship. It was about being different but also being kind. It was about creative insults, but also putting aside resentments and having fun.

It took the wholesome and hilariously outdated ideals from the TV shows of the Baby Boomer generation, and perverted it with a mix of Gen-xer cynicism and a Millennial "kids can do anything!" attitude. But it wasn't just a show with kids in sunglasses shaking their heads at their parents (which is 50% of Clarissa Explains It All. Don't @ me).

The story lines were filled with high stakes, and the child actors were extremely sincere with their performances. They played against their adult counterparts as equals, so you could watch a childhood drama, such as fighting over bed time, play out like a prison resistance.

Down to the music, lighting, and camera angles, the episodes took queues from film noir, gangster flicks, action movies, super hero comics, classic horror, and 1950s family sitcoms.

The characters in Pete and Pete were made up of familiar family members, trusted friends, not so trusted friends, and your typical neighborhood super hero. The show had it's villains too, who were neighbors, parents, teachers, classmates and teenagers a like. I almost forgot that I wrote a post about my favorite bully encounters from the show way back in 2011. Here's a link.

The show also featured characters reminiscent of a Sesame Street-type cast of neighborhood fixtures, such as a mail woman, bus driver, crossing guard, and even your underwear inspector.

In other children's shows these characters would be introduced to teach you about civil society and occupations. In The Adventures of Pete and Pete their dedication to these jobs were taken to a higher level; on the one hand making fun of the idea that this occupation purely defines this individual, but on the other hand presenting the message that being passionate about something is fulfilling and cool. And they were able to cast rock stars and actors your parents would recognize, which added a kooky twist to a wholesome crossing guard character or a parent.

Iggy Pop
The show truly respected the intelligence of it's viewers. A bus driver having a nervous breakdown doesn't sound kid-friendly (and maybe it wasn't) but done with the right comedic timing and care, you have fun for all ages. To this day I can watch any episode of Pete and Pete and belly laugh.

I could wax poetic about Pete and Pete all day, and I am playing with the idea of going back and reviewing each episode. But I'm also interested in designing fan merch for the show.

When I was in college I got my first silk screening kit and The Adventures of Pete and Pete DVDs for Christmas. So I made my own Pete and Pete themed t-shirts. I just gave them away to my friends.

I still have the two on the bottom right if anyone is interested.
A decade later, I find myself hopping onto the enamel pin bandwagon, and took those designs to lapel pin form.

Buy it here!
I'm starting off with this one pin: a cup of Orange Lazarus from the episode Field of Pete, an episode about corruption, addiction, power (possibly nuclear), and little league baseball. My shop name is called Slushenminer, based off my last name - Miner - and a slushy drunken slur from Teddy Foresman, "Buzz off slushenheimer." (Because German-sounding names are funny.)

I have more pins in the works! I love this show, and I want to create obscure references that I can share with other like-minded individuals. (Please, no one sue me).