A Substandard Camping Trip

Welcome back, loyal fans.  You’re in for a treat today.  I know it’s been a long layoff for the sitcom, but I promise you it’s worth it.  It’s December, and you know what that means.  It’s the perfect time for a camping episode.  

This episode opens with Sonny and Vic surveying a campsite in the wilds of northern Virginia.  JVL is excitedly unloading far more camping equipment than is necessary for a two night camping trip.  JVL is clad in the best clothing for climbing mountains that money can buy despite there not being a mountain in sight.  Sonny is dressed as he usually dresses on brisk December evenings.  Vic is dressed as he imagines a fire marshall would dress.  He’s trying to “butch himself up” for the camping trip by emulating the most butch guy he knows, Captain Bill Dwyer.  

Vic: Smell that clean, country air.

Sonny: I think we’re technically still in the Washington DC Metropolitan Statistical Area.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I can see a strip mall from here.  Yeah, that’s definitely a strip mall.

Vic: Still, there’s just something about being in the great outdoors.  This smell reminds me of camping trips back home in Toms River, New Jersey.  What is that gives it that “outdoorsy” smell?

Sonny:  I think that’s the air pollution.  (sniffs the air)  Yeah, it’s definitely the air pollution.

JVL: Don’t bother helping, guys.  (grunts as he lifts a large backpack out of the back gate of Vic’s Woody Wagon) I know that sounded passive aggressive, but I’m actually being serious.  I.  Love.  Camping.  And I love you guys.

Sonny: Ugh.  Save it for the show, JVL.

Vic: I love you too, JVL.

JVL: Sonny, I’m not going to let you get me down.

Sonny: You’re just happy to get out of the house because you don’t want to watch your kids.

JVL:  That’s not entirely untrue.

There is a lull in the conversation as JVL gets back to unpacking the car.

Sonny: This is awful.  People do this for fun?  Where’s the TV?  Where’s the leather sofa?  Where’s the bottle of whiskey?  Remind me how you got me here.

Vic: No, we’re not doing this.

Sonny: What?

Vic: Using a conversation like this as exposition for an episode.

Sonny: An episode of what?

Vic: I just think it’s the laziest sort of trope writers employ.  What’s next?  Are we going to start talking directly to the camera?  Are we going to start using a reality show type confession cam?

Sonny: What’s going on? Are you having another stroke? Do you smell oranges?

Vic: What I’m saying is we’re not going to break the fourth wall in this way.

Sonny: I wouldn’t say it’s a breaking of the fourth wall.

Vic: But we’re acknowledging the audience.

Sonny: I think it’s more like we’re going meta by acknowledging that we’re–

Sonny is interrupted by the theme song for the Substandard Sitcom

Cut to earlier that day with a title card which says “Earlier that Day”  Vic and Sonny are in the Washington Free Beacon office at, um, I’ll say the water cooler?

Vic: How are you old friend?

He claps Sonny on the back.  Sonny is immediately defensive at Vic’s overearnest congeniality.  I mean, Vic is the class president but this is even a little over the top.  Cautiously, looking at him out of the corner of his eye he responds.

Sonny: What do you want Vic?

Vic: What? Why so suspicious?  Can’t two friends gather at the, uh, water cooler and talk?  Like old friends?

Sonny: Just tell me what you want.

Vic: Oh, well, I was going to tell you later, but I got you tickets to Sucker Punch Con this weekend.

Sonny: Which one?  The real one in Brattleboro or tickets to that lame one the imposters hold in Terra Haute?

Vic pulls out of his pocket what looks like a receipt from Dunkin Donuts

Vic: Let me check the tickets. (squints at the receipt) It says Battleboro.

Sonny: Brattleboro.

Vic: Whatever.

Sonny: Then we’d better get on the road. It’s 434 miles from here, 448 if we stop on the way to pick up Comfortably Smug.  That means we have to leave soon if we want to make it to the opening cocktail hour.

Vic: What’s so important about making it to that?

Sonny: Dude, because that’s when we reenact the beginning of the movie, when Babydoll slips into a fantasy world in which she is newly arrived in a brothel owned by Blue, whom she envisions as a mobster, where she and the other patients are sex slaves. In this realm, she befriends four other dancers – Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Rocket’s sister and “star of the show”, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish).

Vic: Vanessa Hudgens is in this?  How did I not know this before?

Sonny: I don’t know.  Don’t you know how to use Google?  Or Wikipedia?

Vic: What year was Sucker Punch made?

Sonny: It was released in 2011.

Vic tilts his head and starts counting on his fingers. He’s clearly doing some complex calculations. He concludes by shrugging.

Vic: Then she’s an old lady by the time she was in Sucker Punch.  (quieter, and clearly to himself) I wonder if there is a High School Musical Con?

Sonny: Vic.  Snap out of it.  Let’s go get ready.

Cut to the Woody Wagon pulling up outside JVL’s house.  Sonny and Vic knock on the door.  Shannon answers.  Her eyes are bloodshot and her hair is pulled back into a messy bun.  Behind her is what can only be described as bedlam.  The boys are climbing on the furniture firing nerf guns at each other. Even Favorite Daughter is acting out.  But in her case acting out means disappointing her father by eating murder meat and asking for a second serving of dessert.  

Vic: (clearly concerned) What’s going on in there?

Shannon: We finished all the Lepin, and it’s Friday, and the kids are bouncing off the wall because we have no more Lepin to put together.  And you-know-who just pooped the tub, but Jonathan is so traumatized by the last incident that I’ve got to deal with that all by myself, along with…(pauses)…I will give either of you a thousand dollars to watch the kids for just one hour so I could take a long bath, light some candles, and read some Jane Austen.

Vic: Sorry, we can’t.  Remember, we’re going caaaaampoooooon.  Campon.  I mean Camon.  Ca-on.  Con.  We’re going to the con.  I mean we’re going (speaking stiltedly) to the con of Sucker Punch.

Sonny: (eyeing Vic with amusement…and concern…but more amusement than concern) Are you having another episode, Vic?

Shannon: (ignoring Sonny and quietly so only Vic can hear) I know you’re going camping.  And I don’t mind at all that Jonathan is spending more time away.

Shannon’s hand resting on the doorframe begins to tremble.

Shannon: I’ll be fine.  I’ll be fine.  I’ll be fine.

Sonny: It sounds like she’s going to be fine.

JVL walks down the stairs, loaded down with baggage.

Vic: JVL.

JVL: Vic!

Sonny: JVL, I’m glad you finally have come to see things my way.

JVL: What?

Sonny: Regarding Sucker Punch.

JVL: Oh.  Yeah.  Sure.  Masterpiece.

Sonny: I know.

Vic: Did you know it had Vanessa Hudgens in it?

JVL: But she’s in her 20s.

Vic: I know.

JVL: You do?

Vic: Well, I do now.

Sonny: Let’s hit the road.  Shotgun!

Shannon: For the record, I fully support my husband in all his endeavors, no matter how far they take him from his family.

Vic: (to JVL) You should really tell her about your reserve stash of Lepin.

Shannon’s eyes narrow as she turns to JVL

Shannon: There’s a reserve stash? When were you going to tell me about the reserve stash?

To be continued…

Check in at some point in the near future for the conclusion of this episode.  You won’t want to miss it.

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