Tommy’s First Birthday

Synopsis: It’s Tommy’s first birthday (duh).  Didi is totally anal and damn near loses her sanity over making sure this oh-so-important milestone in their child’s life is perfect, when all Tommy’s concerned about is eating dog food.

Stu and Didi wake up Tommy to wish him a happy birthday.  They blow a noisemaker in his face and throw a ton of confetti in his crib.  Nice.  They also hang a banner inside his crib.  Good one, Parents of the Year.  One, the baby can’t fucking read, and two, hanging a banner inside a crib is a safety hazard – the baby could strangle himself.  Stu is already annoying the crap out of everyone (wow, not even five minutes into the episode!).  He won’t shut up about this thing he invented called the “Hoverama” or whatever, and later he throws a hissy fit when Tommy throws strained carrots (blaargh) at his favorite shirt and stains it.  Dude, just throw it in the hamper and wear something else, no big deal.  He bitches that he paid seventy-five dollars for it and that it came from some important designer name Giorgio Laurenti (which I suppose is this show’s version of Armani).  So… you were going to wear the most expensive thing you own to a one-year-old’s party?  I don’t think so.

Didi is planning a big blowout for Tommy’s birthday and wants to make sure it’s up to Lipschitz standards.  Ah, Dr. Lipschitz, world-renowned child expert.  As any Rugrats fan knows, Didi raises Tommy completely by the man’s writings and advice.  I have to wonder just how by-the-book Didi is as far as child-rearing goes, since an actual child expert more than likely wouldn’t approve of her leaving her kid in a flimsy playpen that could easily be opened (or alone with a senior citizen known to fall asleep at any given moment), much less doing all of the shit she and Stu did right at the beginning of the episode.  Grandpa Lou brings up the point that putting on a puppet show for the party is unnecessary, as Tommy won’t even remember it.  Didi and Stu argue that Tommy will only have a first birthday once and that they’re not going to settle for less for their kid.  I gotta say I’m Team Lou on this one.  Does anybody remember their first birthday?  I’m sure parents document the occasion with photographs and stuff, otherwise we wouldn’t really know we had a first birthday party.  Never mind remembering tiny details like clowns, balloons, cake, et cetera.  It just seems like a lot of unnecessary effort for an infant who isn’t old enough to process that particular event into his memory, much less care about birthdays in the first place.  But that’s just me.  Right before inadvertently flinging food onto Stu’s seventy-five dollar Laurenti shirt (yeah, I know), Tommy diverts his attention to a small TV in the kitchen.  A dog food commercial is playing.  The advert tells us that this particular brand of dog food, Huskies’ Choice, is “so good, you’ll wish you were a dog.”  Tommy sees the family dog, Spike, eating something similar and gets an idea.  Stu and Didi leave the kitchen and Tommy busts out of his high chair with the use of a screwdriver (a real one taped under the high chair, not his trademark plastic one).  He crawls toward Spike’s dog food and is stopped by Lou.  Of course, Lou seems to understand why Tommy would prefer dog food over nasty-ass strained carrots.  I always liked Lou; he keeps it real.

The doorbell rings and it’s Betty and Howard DeVille, with their adorable (albeit big-headed) twins, Phil and Lil, and bespectacled, red-headed, buck-toothed, stuffy-nosed Chuckie “The Chuckster” Finster in tow.  Chuckie was always my favorite.  Betty is kind of butch and seems to be wired on something twenty-four-seven.  Howard’s a bit of a wuss.  Lou goes off on some pointless rant about what he considered entertainment as a child (pulling up tree stumps, wha…?) and Betty spares us all the rest of that story by calling Lou an old-timer and slapping him on the back.  Hard.  Lou is understandably irritated.  The adults go out to the backyard to stop Spike from destroying one of Tommy’s toys (a teddy bear), leaving the babies in the playpen.  That’s when the babies talk amongst themselves.  Tommy waxes poetic about the joys of dog food and points out how happy and carefree Spike, a dog food eater, seems to be.  He thinks a taste of that stuff will turn him into a dog.  The babies are excited about the prospects of sleeping in the flowers, licking people and wearing collars with name tags.  Well, Tommy, Phil and Lil are.  Chuckie, ever the voice of reason, points out that a dog’s life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, what with the fleas and all (word!  I have two dogs and have dealt with it all – fleas, ticks, tapeworm, ringworm, you name it.  Definitely not a picnic for dogs or their owners).  Of course, fleas only add to the twins’ excitement (of course it does).

Didi and Betty come back and Didi puts little party hats on the babies.  I’ve always hated those things.  Betty remarks that the hats will stay on for three minutes at most (the babies remove the hats almost immediately), and really can’t wait to “bust the piñata.” This woman and her violent tendencies! Also, doesn’t the piñata come directly after birthday cake, not before?  Didi suggests waiting until all of the children arrive.  Betty asks who’s missing, and upon hearing the name Angelica, the babies rock some genuinely terrified faces.  Cut to superbrat Angelica C. Pickles, Tommy’s shitkicker of an older cousin.  On the car ride over, that little shit actually tries to open Tommy’s birthday gift.  Fortunately, her dad Drew comes to… well, quite an abrupt stop,  preventing her from ripping the package and almost causing her to get whiplash.  Angelica’s all sweet in front of the grown-ups, but then drops the act completely once they leave and begins terrorizing her little cousin.  Tommy, undeterred, asks if she knows anything about dog food and the other babies pipe up that dog food can change humans into dogs.  Angelica, excited at the prospect of biting the mailman (of course she is… sadistic little shit), agrees to help the babies get some of that dog food.  Commercial break.

Tommy has created the most advanced drawing I’ve ever seen by a one-year-old.  It looks more like a five-year-old drew it.  The drawing maps out what appears to be Operation: Dog Food.  The babies are all gathered around it and nobody finds this the least bit suspicious.  Didi is in a tizzy over the fact that the puppeteers haven’t shown up yet.  She rants that her future as a mom depends on the party, and the party depends on the puppet show.  Betty tells her to chill the fuck out.  Word, Betty.  The doorbell rings and it’s Didi’s Yiddish parents, Boris and Minka.  I love Boris and Minka, they’re hilarious.  Now that everyone on the guest list has arrived, Stu suggests opening presents.  You know, the order in which I remember children’s birthday parties is entertainment (clowns, face painters, games and the like), cake, piñata (if one is available) and then presents.  What kind of a sham birthday party is this?  The present from Drew and Angelica is a toy truck.  Stu is kind of an asshole and tells Drew that his lame-ass present lacks batteries and any trace of imagination.  The twins fight over the truck for a few seconds until Angelica snatches it away.  Stu unwraps his present, the Hoverama, which is basically this huge, remote control-operated, flying saucer-like device that floats in the air.  Everyone thinks Stu is nuts, and I’m with them.  That’s an awfully weird choice for a birthday gift.  Howard and Betty’s gift is a baby monitor, the kind that works as a walkie-talkie.  This one even enables adults to talk back to the baby.  Pretty cool, actually.  The men (except for Boris, who walked off somewhere with Minka) think so, too, and decide to abandon the party and play with the baby monitors in the backyard.  Nice.

Didi finds Tommy in the kitchen making his way to Spike’s food bowl, brings him back to the living room to open the rest of his presents, and Tommy gets fussy.  Betty points out that the men are having more fun than the kids, and Didi laments that the party is fucked and that she isn’t living up to the “mom” image she sees portrayed on TV, like seriously?  A lot of TV parents demonstrate how not to raise kids (kind of like this show!).  The doorbell rings and some deliverymen bring in a puppet show set, however the puppeteers are unaccounted for.  Apparently Didi paid for a stage and puppets, but no puppeteers.  Lou suggests just cutting straight to cake time.  I’m with you, Lou.  Stu suggests that he and Drew act as puppeteers, and Drew and Lou are pretty much like, “Yeah, that’ll end well,” but Drew agrees anyway.  The puppet show is Little Red Riding Hood; Stu is Red and Drew is the wolf.  Drew totally flubs his lines and Stu gets annoyed, and an argument culminates backstage.  While Stu and Drew (Red and the wolf to the audience in the living room) are arguing over flubbed lines and incidents involving another puppet show years ago, as well as other totally unrelated childhood fights, Tommy and the babies sneak away to the kitchen, only to find that Spike already ate whatever was in the bowl.  They’re all distraught (especially Lil, poor kid really wanted to sleep in the flowers and cries about it), until Tommy spots a can of Huskies’ Choice on top of the cupboard.

Meanwhile, Stu and Drew’s argument has turned into a screaming match and goes on and on even after Lou, wearing a puppet on his hand resembling the Woodsman from the story, threatens to whoop their asses if they don’t knock it off.  Boris, on the other hand, is enjoying the show and is all, “Let the boys argue!”  In the kitchen, Tommy and Angelica are trying to climb their way up to the cupboard until the Chuckster takes out a pair of batteries and the remote control for the Hoverama.  How he was able to get them, I don’t know, but once he puts the batteries in, the Hoverama flies up and into the kitchen from the living room.  Again, none of the adults notice, and also fail to notice that the kids are no longer in the living room.  Chuckie directs the Hoverama to the cupboard and tries to knock the can of dog food off the top.  Chaos ensues as Tommy’s overall straps get caught on the antenna of the flying craft.  I’m wondering how the weight of that thing, plus Tommy’s weight, plus Angelica’s weight when she grabs Tommy to prevent from falling, doesn’t cause it to go crashing onto the ground.  Tommy’s screaming the entire time and no one seems to hear the commotion going on in the kitchen.  Angelica tries to hang onto Tommy but ends up being swung into a bag of flour.  Ha ha, Angelica!  Dishes and glass get broken, food gets knocked to the floor, water and ice are spilled and finally Tommy hovers out of the kitchen and into the living room, where a tearful Stu and Drew are apologizing to each other for shit that happened like thirty years ago (eye roll/vomit).  The antenna breaks off, Tommy lands safely onto Spike’s back and the Hoverama crash-lands into the cake.  That finally gets everyone’s attention.  Didi throws a hissy fit about the party, the carrot cake (blaargh!  What is with this family and carrots?) and the puppet show.  Howard says he actually enjoyed the puppet show (ha ha, I love Howard), and Didi and Betty shoot him a death glare.  Stu pulls the Hoverama out of the cake and gets icing all over his other favorite shirt.  Boris tells Didi the cake should’ve been chocolate (word!), and Minka tells Boris to STFU and mind his own beeswax.  Boris calls Minka a yenta and they start arguing in Yiddish.

Lou finds the can of Huskies’ Choice on the floor and decides to feed Spike.  Spike sniffs his food and walks away as if to say, “Eff Huskies’ Choice!”  The babies, seeing this, take the opportunity to grab handfuls of dog food and start eating, but then they spit it right back out.  Lovely.  Phil says he kind of liked it (of course he did).  He and Lil start scratching their butts and claim they have fleas.  Tommy barks.  Angelica growls.  Chuckie howls and says he can’t wait to start growing fur.  The adults look on happily as the kids have fun and Didi, no longer worried about the shitty outcome of her party, takes a picture of them playing.  We pan out on a photo album filled with pictures of the birthday party.  Fin.


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