The Adventures of Pete and Pete : What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I've been wondering, but it's hard to put my finger on it. Can someone think of a show, movie, comic strip, book etc. that inspired the particular tone of the P&P series, or that has a similar type of humor?

A while ago I was reading the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, and its way of presenting fairly standard children's adventures with a strange mixture of adult-like philosophical reflections, surrealism, flights of fancy, irony, sarcasm and warm nostalgia strongly reminded me of the unique style of P&P's scripts and visualizations.

Of course mentioning Calvin and Hobbes brings to mind Peanuts as well....

Anyone?

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

It's a music video, but the atmosphere is similar. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x355v4_the-arcade-fire-rebellion-lies _music


and no redemption, by the way..

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Well, I hadn't thought of anything like that! I see a similarity in setting (suburban, autumnal) and the message (if I'm getting it right) that you should live your dreams, however weird or wonderful they may be, and not just reject them as some byproduct of sleep. There's something about it from 'The Nightcrawlers' episode.

Mostly, I think the imagination and inspiration of the video draws on the old Pied Piper of Hamelin myth.

Dicky

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Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Freaks and Geeks, The Wonder Years, Boy Meets World, etc.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

The show has been compared to shows like Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, The Wonder Years, and Boy Meets World. Another one that is similar to it is the show Eerie, Indiana.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Yes, thanks, I appreciate all of that. I call it 'The Wonder Years On Weed' or 'David Lynch Lite' to myself a lot of times, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's nice to see 'Eerie, Indiana' mentioned too - another favourite of mine.

To be more precise, I was wondering if there was any direct inspiration, any precursor. Only 'The Wonder Years' predated it (if you take the P&P shorts from 1989 onwards into account), so 'Twin Peaks', 'Eerie, Indiana' were more or less contemporary. Others like 'Freaks and Geeks' came later.

I was thinking in terms of the usual Hollywood pitch. How did creators Viscardi & McRobb develop the idea and sell it? Imagine something like "Think of it as The Wonder Years mixed with The Twilight Zone" for instance. I came up with "Calvin and Hobbes" because that one did predate the series. Though it's a different medium, I recognize a lot of the tone and the humor in retrospect.

Dicky



Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

It's hard to put your finger on because it feels original and nostalgic at the same time. But I think it's sort of in the vein of a christmas story. Which in turn spawned movies like the sandlot and shows like the wonder years. Of course those were literally nostalgic as the narrators were looking back as adults. Big Pete usually was looking back presumably just after the event.
It also had more of an alternative/indie quality to it compared to those shows. It was offbeat. So with some caveats I guess I think of it broadly in the nostalgia comedy genre told from the kid(s) perspective.

One thing to consider is that there was probably more room for experimentation in the pitch because the show started as those minute long shorts that didn't require a massive pitch. Then those caught on and so the loose structure was pre-sold by the time it was to be made into a long form show. (since I believe they said on the dvd commentaries that nick asked them to make it into a full length show.)

I should also mention the book 'super fudge' about the precocious kid who wants to be a bird when he grows up and his frustrated older brother peter and their family moving to new jersey. Of course it has a totally different tone and plotline.

more indirectly, it shared something in common with other 90's entertainment. Not just the music and style, but that intangible 90's feel. I remember watching 'doug' and reading the book 'orp and the chop suey burgers' and feeling some similarity. Maybe more stuff was told from the perspective of kids or maybe just how kids were portrayed at the time was unique. They all seemed to feature and play up those mundane day to day dynamics and interactions of ordinary syblings or friends. But also goof on their heroic aspirations and imaginations. Like Pete's super hero Artie or Doug becoming Quail man. It's like we were all in on the surreal fantasies as only being fantasies but came to like the boring and normal characters because they were more relatable.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Thanks a lot for your detailed and perceptive comments! You mention a lot of related sources that I am unfamiliar with, as I live in Europe (where Pete & Pete wasn't even shown!!), but I'll certainly try and check them out. Regardless, I see what you mean and that's what counts!

Dicky

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Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

It's occurred to me that if film director John Waters
("Pink Flamingos", "Polyester", "Serial Mom")
were to do a "family-friendly" kids' show,
the result would be very "...Pete & Pete"-ish.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

In a way, the book series Sideways Stories At Wayside School by Louis Sachar.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Thanks for the links! I have a rather obvious choice, come to think of it. P&P director Katherine Dieckmann's first-ever professional movie was the music video for "Stand" by R.E.M..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKKqLl_ZEEY

It has lots of touches reminiscent of P&P: improvisational feeling, some disarming dorkiness, real-life quality and sentiment (child-grandmother relationship), seemingly random associations with old family pictures, faded slides, maps, mechanical toys and diagrams.

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I think everyone has left out the most obvious connection (or similarity).

Not only are the story lines written in a manner that is similar to his films, but the show has 2 of the actors that have been in at least 2 of his movies (at least in the ones released in the 1990's, the same time as P&P).

Watch "Simple Men" by Hal Hartley, and listen to the dialogue closely.

AND, see if you recognize "Stu" and the similarity that 'his' character in the film has to the one in the show (always girl problems).

I've always considered P&P to be something of a Hal Hartley show for kids...

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Great observation! I did write somewhere in a fan review "The series' 'cool' credentials brought in many oddball guest appearances by alternative rock artists (...) and actors associated with the movies of the Brothers Coen, Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch." Yet I must admit I think I've only seen his films 'Trust' and 'Amateur' at the time - it's kind of blurry now, and then I wasn't at all aware of "Pete & Pete", which wasn't shown over here. Anyway, it's a good thing to check out some of his early Nineties' films out again sometime.

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I just found a web-article published 3 months ago, that makes it definitive...

(NOTE: "Simple Men" is now out of print, and getting expensive for used copies of the DVD, which I had actually purchased for $10 each several years ago as gifts for those friends who like Hartley's films)

http://www.avclub.com/articles/exploring-the-adventures-of-pete-and-petes-genesis,82042/

Its a series of interviews with Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi about the show '20 years later', with these statements from them near the bottom of the first section (where they are discussing having Steve Buscemi on the show):

CV: I think, to me—this is nothing against Steve, I mean, Steve’s great—but I was so much more excited to have Martin Donovan on the show [as a crossing guard]. Because we were such Hal Hartley fans at the time, and Martin was in one of our favorite Hal Hartley movies, and we were working with a couple of crew members of the Hal Hartley world—we got a lot more of them much later on when we went to series—but we got Martin for a day, and he would love to smoke onscreen, which still makes me laugh.

WM: That’s true. Everybody talks about the music of the show; we basically could put on any song that we liked that we could afford, and at the time, everything that we liked that wasn’t huge, we could afford, so there were no restrictions on that. And it was the same with casting. We loved Martin Donovan in [the 1990 movie] Trust. That’s one of our favorite deadpan—and yet wildly broad—comedies, and we basically said, “Let’s have him play…” It was the same thing with Damian Young. If you think about his performance in Simple Men, that’s basically the starting point for [bus driver] Stu [Benedict]. How often can you take a character you love from a movie, just slightly revise it, and then plug him into kids’ show? [Laughs.] That was really fun.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Lordnimbo: great find and well reasoned

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

"Trust" is now released on BluRay. Hopefully, the rest of Hal Hartley's early films (including "Simple Men" which has "Stu" in it) will also be released in HD...

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

If anyone's wondering just how closely related "Stu" in P&P is, to the 'sheriff' character in Hal Hartley's "Simple Men", look at 'this' photo...

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=65291&position=13

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Ooops, I mean 'this' one...

http://images.static-bluray.com/reviews/8218_13.jpg

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I always joked the Malcom In the Middle took place in the same "World" and neighborhood as Pete and Pete. It had just enough of the bizarreness but still almost realistic enough.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Fully agree with you on MITM. It's one of my favourites. Coming about ten years later than P&P, it's understandably flashier, louder and more hectic than this show, but I always consider MITM one of P&P's offspring.

Director Peter Lauer, who directed 5 P&P episodes and was highly praised by creators Viscardi and McRobb for his imaginative work on the show, went on to direct 12 MITM episodes, Chris Koch directed P&P's great 'Rangeboy' and 'Field of Pete' along with MITM's fine 'The Bots and the Bees', and Adam Bernstein, another P&P director, started off directing music videos for They Might Be Giants, who were essential to the tone MITM, as they signed for the Season 1 soundtrack.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Hey Dicky,

I never knew that! Thanks for that great trivia about two of my favorite shows. That explains a lot about some of the Malcom in the Middle episodes I remember as being my favorites. :)

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

My thanks as well. The instant I viewed my first episode of MITM, I sensed something similar to P&P.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I just had a nostalgia flashback and went on old Nickelodeon youtube videos and came across Pete and Pete, which lead me here to find your post. Watching the video, I commented that Pete and Pete is the original Malcolm in the Middle.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Thanks. Yes, this is exactly how I feel about it! I regularly return to those old Nick clips too on YouTube.

This Malcolm fansite happens to devote a whole section to shows that inspired the sitcom, among them Pete & Pete:

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=1143

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Motorama, for sure.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I'd never heard of Motorama, but I've looked it up and it sounds interesting. Is it any good? Most reviews say it's kind of wannabe cool and surreal, but not really well made.

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I thought it was made well enough, it was just trying to do something weird. Though, it's clearly not a movie for everyone. I went in just thinking it would be an oddball 90's road movie, but it was much more interesting and fun. The cover and the tagline are extremely misleading.

The same guy wrote "Vampires Kiss" if you have seen that, and it is equally bizarre, in a great way.

I think if you like pete and pete you would probably like this movie to some degree.


Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Fine, thanks! I'll see if I can check it out somewhere!

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Freaks and Geeks
Even Stevens
Twin Peaks
John Hughes movies
Rugrats
All That

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

The abc cartoon Pepper Ann reminds me somewhat of P&P. It was late 90's era, main character was a dorky redhead middle schooler with an overactive imagination, she had quirky friends/family and supporting characters, and sometimes the show had some fairly sophisticated humor. It didn't quite have the originality or surrealness of P&P but I thought it had a spirit to it that was similar at times.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Ha, I just came across this quote by the one and only Will McRobb himself, in an Entertainment Weekly article from September 6, 1991, when the second Pete & Pete special was about to air:

Cocreator and writer Will McRobb, 30, describes Pete and Pete as "The Wonder Years meets Calvin and Hobbes meets Stand By Me"


http://www.ew.com/article/1991/09/06/adventures-pete-and-pete

Surprise, the Calvin & Hobbes association is there! I wasn't imagining things!

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I saw that awhile back, Dicky. Thanks for posting it here.

I believe Pete & Pete was one of those shows where several things influenced it. Like you said earlier in this thread, Katherine Dieckman's R.E.M. videos ("Stand", "Shiny Happy People") clearly influenced the look and some ideas quite a bit. On top of that, Will and Chris have both stated that Michael Spiller's cinematography is the reason why many of the episodes worked and felt unique. And guess what? He worked with Hal Hartley! Nothing but coincidences here, folks!

So...

The Wonder Years (1988)
Hal Hartley (specifically Trust (1990))
Michael Alan Spiller's cinematography
Stand by Me (1986)
Katherine Dieckmann's music videos (particularly R.E.M.'s "Stand" and "Shiny Happy People")
Calvin and Hobbes comic strips


Also worth noting is that Katherine Dieckmann directed all of the shorts that preceded the specials/series (full episodes). So her presence was a huge part of why the show was special.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Hi Wizzleteats,

Great overview, thanks again! Another one for keeps - saving offline, I mean. Of course, it was your link to the EW article that confirmed my 'Calvin & Hobbes' connection in the first place!

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Comedy Central's Strangers With Candy, starring Amy Sedaris and featuring such actors as Stephen Colbert (in one of his very first TV roles).

Both were filmed in the New Jersey suburbs, both had the same level of basic cable production value, and both featured casts that resembled regular looking people and not glammed up super models posing as real people. Both would occasionally throw in fairly well-known celebrities in completely random cameo roles (LL Cool J, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi in Pete and Pete; Andy Richter, Janeane Garafalo, Will Ferrell, Wynona Ryder in SWC)

While Strangers with Candy was naturally much more twisted and edgy given it's very different target audience and adult themed humor, they both reveled in absurdities and portrayed a general sense of 90s era alt-quirkiness. Pete and Pete had Artie, the Strongest Man in the World; SWC had Jerri Blank's father Guy Blank, portrayed by a real actor but always depicted frozen in place and never actually shown moving on screen.

I'd like to think of SWC as something of a spiritual successor to P+P, aimed at people like me who watched P+P as kids and then graduated to SWC in college.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Thanks for your interesting observation on Strangers with Candy! I'd heard of it, though I've never seen it, and I know Amy Sedaris by way of her brother David.

The series actually shared two prolific TV directors, Adam Bernstein (3 P+P episodes and the SWC initial short and series pilot) and Peter Lauer 4 P+P's and 18 episodes of SWC), and some 'alternative' guest actors: said Janeane Garofalo, Bebe Neuwirth and Heather Matarazzo. Intriguing links!

Another one to check out!

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

P&P reminds me of:
-An Australian 90s children's show called 'Round the twist'
-The movies ' 3 o'clock high' and ' better off dead '
-Parker Lewis can't lose
-Eerie Indiana
-Stand by me and the 1950s parts of 'IT' - in a different way to the above though

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Ah, thanks for reminding me!

Definitely Parker Lewis Can't Lose and Eerie Indiana for me too. I've seen Stand By Me, but apparently in a somewhat different light, and I don't remember enough of Round The Twist, which I've seen only a few episodes of at the time, but I remember it was a mixture of family sitcom with a steady dose of supernatural elements.

We're still working on this - if we only had the time: ;)

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=1143

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

I always felt like Wes Anderson's movies had a Pete & Pete for adults vibe. Watch Rushmore, Max's plays feel like something out of the Pete & Pete generation.

---
You'll never get what you want if you don't know what it is.

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Eerie, Indiana

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Exactly! Eerie, Indiana was in fact already mentioned on the 1st and 3rd pages of this thread, but I'm glad to see you support the view!

We already grouped them together:

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=1143

Dicky

Re: What other show or entertainment does P+P's tone remind you of?

Exactly! Eerie, Indiana was in fact already mentioned on the 1st and 3rd pages of this thread, but I'm glad to see you support the view!

We already grouped them together:

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=1143

Dicky
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