Real or Robots?/Special Delivery

Real or Robots?

Synopsis: Tommy thinks Stu is a robot.

I have to preface by saying that this episode still makes me lose my shit. By that, I mean it’s fucking hilarious. I always loved how the early Nicktoons didn’t patronize kids by using infantile humor and I think this episode is an example of that. The first few seasons of Rugrats were great. Too bad they had to ruin it later by making it so damn innocuous and generic (not to mention the addition of Dil and Kimi).

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Tommy and Chuckie are watching a movie in which a scientist plots to replace every man, woman and child with robots. A little kid enters his laboratory and yells, “Oh, no! Dad, you’re a robot!” Since this is a movie-within-an-animated-cartoon-series, I won’t nitpick. Stu, dressed in his pajamas and appearing drowsy as hell, shuts off the television and claims the movie to be too scary for the babies. Well, jeez, Stu, why let them watch it in the first place? I’m pretty sure one of the harmless Not Quite Human movies would’ve sufficed! He takes the kids to the nursery and says good night. He tells Chuckie that his mom and dad will pick him up in the morning. Wait… the same mom who passed away? Maybe she dies somewhere between season one and season two, but even then, there was a Mother’s Day episode in which Chuckie doesn’t remember his mom… that episode, of course, occurs in a later season. This series has a weird time warp kind of like that of the The Baby-sitters Club, in which the characters are permanently the same age for over a decade. It isn’t until the spinoff, All Grown Up, that everyone finally ages accordingly.

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Stu shuts off the light and leaves, and Tommy can’t sleep. When Chuckie asks him what’s wrong, Tommy discusses his suspicions. After watching that robot movie, Tommy has been thinking about who among the adults in their life could be robots. He suspects the mailman, the ice cream vendor and even Stu, who in his drowsiness did seem a bit robotic, has been abducted and replaced by a robot. Chuckie is freaked out but still skeptical. Nevertheless, he follows Tommy and the two babies leave the crib and make their way to Stu and Didi’s bedroom.

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In the bedroom, Stu is completely out of it and Didi, worried, advises him to work a little less hard and get some sleep, lest he starts sleepwalking like he did the summer before. She reveals that the last time he sleepwalked, he rearranged his sock drawer and tried to make a thirteen-egg omelet on the kitchen floor. Oh, my God, that is hilarious. I only sleepwalked once and it wasn’t as funny as Stu’s domestic/culinary sleepwalking escapade. I just woke up in my kitchen in my pajamas and my sneakers tightly tied. That was when I was fourteen years old, too. Stu immediately conks out before he can kiss Didi goodnight, and she shuts off the light and goes to bed.

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Tommy and Chuckie enter the bedroom and find Stu snoring away. Tommy deduces that robots wouldn’t need to breathe, and Chuckie tentatively agrees. He climbs up onto the bed, crawls up to Stu’s face and sticks his index fingers in Stu’s nostrils. Stu snorts and wheezes, and in a powerful attempt to exhale, sends Tommy toppling backwards. Stu wakes up and sees the boys on the floor, staring blankly at him.

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After Stu takes the kids back to the nursery, ties the crib back together with shoelaces and leaves, Tommy unties the shoelaces as he explains to Chuckie that he’s still not convinced that Stu is not a robot, explaining that there were noises coming from inside of him (his snoring). They get out of the crib and Tommy gets a wrench from his toy box (a plastic one, I assume), as well as a flashlight.

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When they return to the bedroom, Tommy gives the flashlight to Chuckie and crawls up onto the bed. He unbuttons Stu’s pajamas obviously looking for bolts and screws to open up the “chest plate” (like the robot in the movie). He points to Stu’s nipples and says, “See? There they are!”

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Holy shit, those things are erect!

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The look on Chuckie’s face is fucking priceless.

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Tommy takes the wrench and squeezes one nipple and Stu wakes up screaming, which scares the boys and makes them scream, too. I am not ashamed to tell you people that this entire scene still cracks my shit up over two decades later.  Mention it to me just once and I’ll be grinning like an idiot all day.

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Back in the nursery, Stu takes more extreme measures as he secures the crib a second time.  Well, this is shaping up to be an eventful, strenuous night for both babies and adults.

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Tommy and Chuckie escape by using… a blanket tied in knots?  How very A Man Escaped of him.  Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less from an infant who knows how to use an elevator.

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The boys take Tommy’s toy tool box with them this time.  “Tiny Tools.”  You know, it’s like these people knew that twenty-some years later, “mind-in-the-gutter” people like me would be recapping and finding dirty humor in seemingly innocuous things like a fucking plastic tool box labeled “Tiny Tools.”

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Chuckie pleads with Tommy to go back to the nursery. Tommy says not until he finds out for sure that Stu isn’t a robot, and Chuckie exasperatedly throws his hands up and says there’s no such thing as robots. Just then, Stu gets up and starts sleepwalking. He makes this groaning noise that frightens the babies, and they run out screaming.

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Okay, bullshit. Didi can’t hear shit going on five or ten feet away from her because of a fucking pillow on her ear?  Hell, I can hear shit going on in the apartment below mine, pillow or not.

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The babies run downstairs (miraculously without falling) and Stu follows in hot pursuit. He chases them all the way to the kitchen, with Chuckie shouting, “You were right! He is a robot!” Along the way, Tommy finds the TV on and the robot movie still playing, and Stu knocks over a bunch of breakable shit, like clay planters and lamps.

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Tommy and Chuckie hide in a cabinet and Stu heads for the refrigerator and retrieves… a bowl of noodles and a carton of eggs. Hold on to your seats, folks, it’s omelet time. Stu is talking to an “audience” as he is dreaming of hosting a live cooking show.  As Tommy and Chuckie watch on, Stu drops the bowl of noodles into Tommy’s high chair and calls the chair his “lovely assistant Ramona” and starts breaking eggs on the floor and counting each one, like one-potato, two-potato, three-potato, six-potato, fourteen-potato, sixteen-potato, one hundred nineteen-potato… you get the idea. It’s pretty funny, and the kids think he’s talking in robot code. Actually, my husband has said his fair share of funny shit in his sleep, too. Among my favorites are, “I love chocolate swirlies,” “We don’t have anymore of that stuff on the carts” (in response to me asking him where my cell phone was) and my personal favorite, “Idu diku, Kermit.” (I think he was trying to do his Muppet Babies Animal impression and say, “Okey-dokey, Kermit.” I looked up “idu diku” on Google Translate for fun, and apparently it means “go for beauty” in Serbian and “tenth of the germ” in Estonian. My husband speaks neither language, which makes it all the more hilarious.)

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Stu notices the babies watching, and in his sleep thinks it’s Drew spying and trying to steal his recipe. (“This is my cooking show, Drew!”) Tommy and Chuckie run to the living room with Stu in hot pursuit.

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I have to admit, this is a pretty creepy image.  If my dad walked toward me like this, swung his arms in an attempt to grab me and addressed me as “Drew,” I’d most likely piss my pants.

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Tommy sees the remote control for the TV and tries to turn Stu off. When that doesn’t work, he and Chuckie run back to the nursery. Stu dances with a lamp and then falls asleep on the armchair.

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All the commotion finally gets Didi’s attention and she goes downstairs. She sees the mess in the living room (I wonder if she went apeshit when she walked into the kitchen?) and sees Stu snoozing on the armchair and doing the “one-potato, two potato” count in his sleep. He addresses Didi as “Ramona” and she’s momentarily pissed until he explains that Ramona is an assistant from his dream cooking show, not a side chick. She realizes he’s been sleepwalking and they go upstairs together. Might wanna confront the lamp, though.

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Okay, why does Chuckie have a mouthful of teeth?  Animators, did you just say fuck all to continuity?

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Stu and Didi stop in the nursery and Tommy and Chuckie, still scared shitless, pretend to be asleep. Tommy overhears Stu telling Didi about a dream he kept having in which Tommy kept trying to open his chest with a plastic screwdriver like he was a robot. Tommy smiles as Didi assures Stu that he (Tommy) would never do that, and Stu remarks that Tommy is a great kid. So great, he’d try to open up your chest with a plastic screwdriver. Oh wait, it was a wrench.

Tommy decides his dad isn’t a robot after all, and Chuckie ponders the possibility of his dad being a robot and I laugh at the visual of Chaz getting his nipples tweaked and screaming bloody murder.

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Wait, when did Didi get hot?

Special Delivery

Synopsis: Stu buys a doll from a competitor. Tommy thinks this means he’s getting a new baby sister.

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We open with Stu working unsuccessfully on a walking, talking doll called Patty Pants. The doll eventually shorts out and stops working. I have to say, that doll is pretty fug.

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Tommy and a mailman get caught up in a rousing round of reverse tug-of-war with today’s mail (the mailman wins) when the mailman finally looks through the slot to see an angry dog flashing his teeth and barking. He promptly shoves the last of the mail, a thick catalog, into the slot and into Spike’s mouth, then leaves.

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The catalog is from a toy company called Eggbert, a competitor of Pickles Toys. Stu thumbs through the catalog and sees that Eggbert has released a doll similar to Stu’s Patty Pants doll called Tina Trousers, available for next-day delivery. Tina Trousers is actually a lot cuter-looking than Patty Pants. Tina Trousers is basically a walking, talking version of Baby Alive. (I totally had one of those when I was seven!) In fact, Tina Trousers actually gets realistic diaper rash. Inventive? Stu bemoans the fact that his doll can’t even say the right catchphrases, let alone wet realistically. Didi assures him that Eggbert always hypes up products that are never any good, and advises Stu to order one and see for himself. Stu decides that this is a good idea and goes to order one. I have to agree that this makes perfect sense. Stu can check out his competitor’s project and see exactly where the flaws are and release a better doll. (I hope this means refining her physical appearance a bit, that Patty Pants doll is scary as fuck!)

Holy shit, you guys.  Something actually makes sense in the Rugrats universe!  Somebody hold me!  Anyway, Didi shows Tommy the Patty Pants doll in the catalog and tells him that a “new baby” is coming in the mail. Tommy is rightfully confused.

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Betty shows up with Phil, Lil and Chuckie and Stu is downright rude to her. He bursts into the living room asking Didi for the catalog, then says, very rudely, “Oh, hi, Betty.” What the fuck? Didi explains to Betty that Stu is just stressed out over the Patty Pants project, but that’s still no excuse to be an asshole. Betty and Didi put the babies in the playpen and head to the kitchen for some coffee. Tommy tells his friends that his parents are getting another baby. Phil and Lil reveal that Betty wants another baby, too. Okay, Betty? You have two infants right now; don’t go back for seconds if your plate’s already full. Just sayin’. Chuckie asks Phil and Lil where Betty would find another baby, and Phil and Lil argue back and forth whether you go to a store or a stork brings them. Chuckie puts a stop to the argument by saying that his mom (the one that supposedly died) told him that he came from the hospital. Tommy says the baby his parents are getting is coming in the mail. Chuckie is impressed that Tommy’s family is getting a baby that’s going to be pushed through the mail slot (insert birthing joke here).

The next day, Tommy is sitting on a little stool in front of the mail slot, waiting for Tina Trousers. The usual mail comes through, but no doll. Stu opens the door and immediately demands to know where the package is. The same poor mailman from the day before, who has been attacked by every dog on the block up to this point, tries to keep his composure as he explains that the package was too large to carry and that Stu would have to pick it up. Stu starts screaming that he doesn’t have time to go to the post office and that the postal service isn’t as good as it used to be. God, STFU, Stu.

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Tommy, unnoticed (of course), dives into the mailbag and looks for Tina Trousers. He sees a baby magazine, flips through it and says, “Baaaaaaaby,” rather lustily, and I die a little inside.

When the mailman arrives at the post office, Tommy crawls out of the bag and onto a stool next to a conveyor belt. He spies a package that – I guess – is kind of shaped like a baby (it turns out to be just a vase). He climbs onto the belt, and… well, you can guess what kind of Rube Goldberg-esque shenanigans unfold….

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What.  In.  The.  Fuck.

No, seriously, what in the fuck?  Did the writers and animators just not give a shit?  Good God, that is horrible!  That poor guy.  That poor dead guy.  Imagine… being trapped in there for the rest of your days, alone, starving to death.  Since he’s a skeleton, it’s pretty obvious he’s been down there a long time.  I wonder how long before his family just gave up looking for him?

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Obviously, if the only other living human to have ever reached this little area died and was never heard from again, then it’s clear this room was never, ever intended for human use and it’s pretty fucking pointless to have those levers (unreachable ones, at that), isn’t it?

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Well, after that series of events (which, of course, also goes completely unnoticed, because it’s fucking Rugrats), he finally makes it to the end of the line, where the Tina Trousers package awaits. The box is not even wrapped in any sort of paper, so Tommy can see the doll through that little cellophane window on the box. He opens the box (which isn’t even taped shut, proving Didi’s point about the Eggbert company not exactly being high quality) and dives in, making conversation with Tina Trousers, whose only response is, “Mama!”

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Stu is in line at the post office, and when the postal clerk at the package desk calls on him, he immediately starts screaming at her. Literally. She actually calls him out for being rude, but he doesn’t get the memo. She hands him the box and tells him there’s no charge because the box is damaged (which Stu snaps at her for, as if she has anything to do with the condition of the box), and Stu storms off muttering about the shitty service at the post office. Stu, you’re a dick.

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And of course, he never notices that Tommy is in the box with the doll, not even when he opens the package and takes out the Tina Trousers doll. Clueless idiot. It isn’t until Lou comes into the kitchen and sees the package that he finds Tommy in the packing peanut-filled box.

By the way, I just love how this episode indirectly foreshadows a certain new addition to the Pickles clan a few years later.

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Damn it, Dil, why did you (and Kimi, for that matter) have to go and shit on one of my favorite Nicktoons?  I curse the day you were born!

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Grandpa’s Teeth/Momma Trauma

Quick note: Hey guys, just to inform you, another recap is half-done and will be up soon.  And yes, it includes the “Real or Robots?” episode… perhaps the funniest episode of the series.  Since the crappy connection where I live interferes with media being uploaded onto this site, there won’t be any screencaps for these recaps.  But I’ll insert them for the next one!

Grandpa’s Teeth

Synopsis: Lou loses his dentures at a picnic. This episode is every bit as disgusting as it sounds.

We open on Lou playing a sweet solo on his trumpet. Wait, Lou can play the trumpet? Is this ever mentioned again? Doesn’t matter; everyone’s fawning over him like he’s Satchmo… until he makes allusions to taking out his new dentures in order to eat the potato salad Didi made. Then everyone’s bitching and pleading for poor Lou not to take them out until he’s home. (Drew, in particular, is pretty nasty about it.) Granted, they do have a point: apparently Lou previously lost another set of dentures the year before. Still, they could’ve been nicer about it.

This episode takes place at a veterans’ picnic, and Lou is part of a band comprised of vets who served in World War II. Well, on behalf of all of us young ‘uns who watched Rugrats as kids, thanks for your service, Lou!  When Didi, Stu and Drew have all left the picnic table, Lou takes out his dentures and sets them on a napkin next to what looks like a plate of ribs. Ick. Tommy and Chuckie, who are watching from a playpen set up near the food table, make some pretty awesome faces demonstarting their surprise, then express envy at the fact that Lou can take his teeth out, mainly due to the fact that if you bit your tongue without your teeth, it wouldn’t hurt. They then try to pull on their own teeth (Tommy has like one little tooth and Chuckie has only his two front teeth… which I’ve always found rather odd. Was there ever a baby in existence that grew their two top teeth first, rather than the two teeth on the bottom?) as Lou samples everything from Didi’s potato salad to lime Jell-O. Then they see Spike take the dentures into his mouth, along with a rib, and run off.

At that moment, Didi yells at Lou to put his teeth back in his mouth. But of course, the teeth are gone. Didi asks Lou the last thing he did with his teeth, and Lou thinks they probably fell into the potato salad. We get a lovely shot of the bubbling surface, then Stu pulls back his sleeve and sticks his hand into the salad, making a squishy noise. Blaargh.

Tommy decides he wants to retrieve the dentures from Spike. Chuckie, of course, wants to forget the whole thing and tells Tommy, “Maybe he’ll grow some new teeth!” Heh. Dumb toddler. Tommy then goes off on a rant about how Lou is the only grown-up at the house that actually gives a shit about him, and how he actually takes care of him and plays with him when he’s not lying unconscious in a chair with the TV on. Yeah, that’s about right. Tommy produces a screwdriver hidden underneath the fabric lining of the playpen, and the babies escape. And by the way, no, the adults don’t notice at all during this episode. They’re too busy looking for Lou’s dentures. By the way, why did they bring the dog to the picnic in the first place? It just seems like a weird plot device, as does the fact that Drew is there but not Angelica, and Chuckie’s there but not Chaz. But whatever.

Spike has a run-in with a menacing bulldog, who is automatically frightened by the sight of Spike’s teeth in addition to the dentures. Tommy and Chuckie find Spike burying his rib by the lake and start making their way back. Huh. That was anti-climatic.

But soon, they are confronted by a bunch of oddly territorial geese who don’t even honk; the sounds they make sound more like growls. Spike barks at them and inadvertently spits out the dentures. The “head” goose gets them and chases after them, followed by the other geese. What is with these geese? Are they on ‘roid rage, or possessed by demons, or something?

Elsewhere, a little kid brats to his dad about not wanting to ride ponies because they might go too fast. The dad assures him that they can barely even trot on account of they’re so old. At that moment, the geese appear and scare the shit out of the pony, who starts running with the kid on the saddle and the dad screaming and clinging on to the reins. Wouldn’t you know it, the kid loves ponies now! The pony, the geese, the babies and Spike all run across the park to where a couple of old guys are playing shuffleboard. The goose with the dentures slips on a puck and the teeth come flying out of his mouth. Tommy retrieves them and he, Chuckie and Spike finally make their way back to the picnic area, where Lou is still frantically looking for his teeth. When he tells Didi to check a bucket of friend chicken, Stu spits out his food, which happens to be a drumstick. God, what the hell? I don’t remember this episode being that gross.

It’s time for the band to perform the national anthem. Without his dentures, Lou sounds like crap on his trumpet. Spike, with Tommy and Chuckie riding on his back, shows up just as the band begins their performance, only to be stopped by the same flock of crazy geese. Spike is running so fast that it’s too late for him to come to a safe stop, and he runs into the geese like a bowling ball. The dentures fly out of Tomy’s hand and by chance Lou sees them headed his way. He quickly catches them, dunks them into a nearby glass of water, sticks them in his mouth and plays the last few bars of “The Star-Spangled Banner” effortlessly, finishing off with a cheesy grin.

Chuckie and Tommy, unscathed and alone long after the crowds have parted (yeah, apparently no one has bothered still to check the playpen at this point) decide that being old sucks ass and that it’s best to keep your stuff (i.e., teeth) where it belongs… until they see a guy take off his toupee and wipe sweat off his dome. Then Tommy looks at Chuckie’s thick red hair and decides he wants to yank that shit off. Naturally, Chuckie tells him to fuck off.

Seriously, what was up with those crazy geese?

Momma Trauma

Synopsis: Stu and Didi take Tommy to a shrink.

Didi walks in on Tommy humming “Red River Valley” (?!) and coloring on the walls in the hallway with crayons. She decides he’s so emotionally fucked up that she needs to take him to a baby therapist. Stu is rightfully against the idea and Didi says Tommy doesn’t have a proper creative outlet. Okay. First of all, it is not unheard of for a child to color on the walls. If anything, it’s common. Hell, my sister did it when she was a toddler – she colored my mom’s bathroom with lipstick. Second, he’s one. He doesn’t need a creative outlet at this point. All he needs is a secure environment and age-appropriate toys. What is he even doing with crayons? He’s an infant! Third, the only problem he has is that the adults in his life are so fucking negligent that most of the time, they don’t even notice when he wanders off! And that goes for the rest of the parents on this show!

Didi and Stu take Tommy to the office of a Dr. Lepetomaine, Ph.D and M.D. Not only does Didi claim to take Lepetomaine’s writings as gospel (I thought she was all about Lipschitz?), she actually tells the doctor what could be wrong with Tommy. Let the man do his job, you fucking dumb broad! Stu is exasperated and tells Dr. L that he doesn’t feel like they should be there in the first place and wants to leave two minutes into the session. Hey, for once I agree with you, Stu-meister. Dr. L starts in on Stu and starts asking him questions… at which point, Tommy notices the open door and sneaks out right under their fucking noses. Which, considering what I just said about the parents on this show being a bunch of negligent asses, is not hard for him to do. He crawls into the lobby, where this receptionist with blonde hair and a shit-ton of dark green eyeshadow, who just seconds earlier was eavesdropping on the session, is listening to loud music on her headphones and dancing with her eyes closed. Moron.

Tommy spots a bunch of parents and children walking past the lobby and crawls out into the hallway to follow them. He crawls past a scary janitor who talks to himself and somehow gets into the elevator and rides all the way up to the top floor where, conveniently, he spots the same crowd of parents and children. They walk around a corner and he sets off to find them, crawling past the law office of Sockem and Suem (womp, womp) and a studio where some pervy painter is trying to score points with his model. He finally makes his way to the Snow, Steele and Trickum Agency (womp, womp) and finds the kids and their moms and dads. So what’s the payoff here? Well, it turns out the agency is helping a toy company test out new toys by letting the young ‘uns play with them. The toy being tested today is a plastic robot called Super Plasto-Man, a robot action figure that shoots a bouncy ball from its chest. That actually doesn’t sound too bad. Tommy removes the ball, which looks like one of those bouncy balls with a fabric covering, and the other kids follow suit. It turns out they prefer the ball to the overall robot toy, and the kids start playing with it, bouncing it, tossing it, what have you. Tommy accidentally loses his ball and it bounces its way down a stairway. So Tommy crawls out of the office and decides to take the elevator down.  Yeah, sure, why not?

The agents are losing their shit because the robot toy was top-secret and if they don’t retrieve the ball and return the robot to the toy company in one piece, shit’ll hit the fan and they’ll lose their jobs. I don’t see how losing a small, replaceable part of a toy is such a problem, especially since the other robot toys are apparently back in one piece, but whatever. Tommy somehow miraculously makes it to the floor where the ball has landed and finds it in an ashtray. He climbs onto one of those high-powered, electric floor cleaners to get the ball out of the (full – ick!) ashtray. He falls backwards and hits the on switch, and the creepy janitor from before plugs in the cord for the floor cleaner. Tommy whizzes past some offices, including – conveniently enough – Dr. L’s office. He then lands in a cart full of mail, and a mail clerk (voiced by Jeremy Piven, interestingly enough – I looked at the credits after completing the review) wheels it to (where else?) Dr. L’s office, where Stu is sobbingly breaking down over shit that happened in his childhood involving his older brother Drew, and Dr. L… is asleep. Didi and Stu both seem to be oblivious to that, just as they’re oblivious to the fact that Tommy has been gone the whole session and just came back.

Ironically, Stu and Didi have changed their respective opinions about Dr. L. Didi is upset that Dr. L didn’t even talk about Tommy and the bill for the visit was expensive, and Stu is happy someone was willing to listen to him bitch and moan about his problems with Drew and doesn’t seem at all concerned about the fact that the meeting was really supposed to be about Tommy. I have to agree with Didi that Dr. L’s “qualifications” seem phony. Any legit child psychologist would’ve straight up made the observation that they’re both shitty parents.