Stuck on Re-Pete

Many of my peers fondly recall watching The Adventures of Pete and Pete on Nickelodeon. I’m not one of them, as we didn’t have cable at the time. Beth enjoyed the show, however, and showed me the DVDs. For some reason, only the first two seasons have been released, and the episodes aren’t always arranged in order. We watched those two seasons, plus some extra episodes that predate the official series, and I liked it. Beth says it reminds her of Jean Shepherd, what with its making common childhood events and problems into epic adventures. It could get somewhat absurd, with everyday scenarios leading to such plot elements as building a command center in the basement, finding a buried car on the beach, planting land mines in the neighbors’ yards, and the younger Pete trying to tunnel out of his house after being grounded. Some of the humor also comes from characters taking their jobs incredibly seriously: an ice cream man who never takes off his costume, a crossing guard who hardly ever leaves his post, a math teacher who’s obsessed with numbers, etc. At one point, a connection is made between the atomic bomb and a slushie drink. And there’s a superhero living in the neighborhood. He’s sort of like Little Pete’s imaginary friend, except he’s real.

Celebrities appearing on the show include Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, LL Cool J, Chris Elliott, Janeane Garofalo, Bebe Neuwirth, Michael Stipe. I’m not sure whether Syd Straw, who played the math teacher, counts as a celebrity. She appeared quite prominently in the They Might Be Giants documentary, and I didn’t know who she was. Apparently she’s a musician, but mostly a backup singer for more famous artists.

The band that performed the opening theme song, Polaris, contained two members who would later be part of Frank Black’s band, the Catholics. Of the child actors, the one who went on to the most fame afterwards was Michelle Trachtenberg.

Big Pete (Michael Maronna) now mostly does electrical work for movies and television, while I understand Ellen (Alison Fanelli) is working for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (or at least was a few years ago).

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