“35 Hours” (season 3, episode 1; originally aired 10/01/1995)
Airing a full 10 months after season two ended, season three’s opener, “35 Hours,” denotes a rather marked departure for The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. No, one of the Petes didn’t leave for college or whatever, but a lot has changed, even though you might have to squint a little to notice it.
First off, the title cards have changed, updating the images of the Wrigleys and subbing in Nona for Artie. (Farewell, our big Viking.) Second, it looks like the Wrigley family now lives in an entirely different house? I think this has happened before on the show, but we’re kind of not supposed to notice. Unfortunately, because this episode centers around the ol’ Wrigley homestead, it’s kind of hard not to notice.
The plot is this: Don and Joyce decide to go away for the weekend. They leave the house in the capable hands of the Petes. Three hours in, Big Pete ditches Little Pete for Margie Corsall (played by Gilmore Girls’ Paris, Liza Weil), who “has a way of tugging her earlobes.” They go swimming in a quarry and somehow, in the meantime, Little Pete ends up selling the house to the Kretchmar family, a shockingly normal and nice family with a mom played by Patty Hearst.
Big Pete tries various tactics to get his house back before his parents come home, but to no avail. The Kretchmars don’t care that the house is supposedly under a major airplane flight path and subject to frequent luggage dumps. They also don’t care that the plumbing is allegedly shot, precluding them from taking any, well, dumps. Big Pete even resorts to asking Endless Mike for help, only to find him won over by the Kretchmars, who rope him into a rousing game of Duck, Duck, Goose.
Little Pete eventually relents, agreeing to help Big Pete get the house back, but only after the brothers ride the Wrigley 500, a (duh) 500 lap race around the house on their bikes. It’s all for naught because even when faced with a cannon, the Kretchmars refuse to give up the house. Fortunately—for both the show’s plot and the Wrigleys—Mr. Kretchmar is transferred to Alaska a week later, sells the house back, and all is again right in Wellsville.
Something’s just a little off in this episode, but it’s hard for me to put my finger on it. Little Pete has a couple of good insults and there are a couple of good sight gags, like Nona sucking Big Pete’s shirt off with Don’s leaf blower, but the writing’s just not quite up to par. A couple lines are clunky at best, and without the usual Pete flair.
Season three also begins the parade of love interests for Big Pete that are not Ellen. All season long we’ll get to see random teenagers pop up without much back-story or immediately intriguing characterization and see Pete fall head over heels for them. I don’t want to sound like a jealous ninth grader here, because I wasn’t—promise—but even in 1995 I thought this was kind of bullshit. It just seemed cheap, like the show had run out of storylines and had to bring in these random characters to move things along, while they still had some of the most solid core players around. Had the writers done absolutely every thing they could think of with Pete, Pete, Ellen, and Nona that they had to open the whole thing up? It just seemed weird, or even just a little lacking. I try very hard to not glorify an era of one thing or another, and I know that there are great episodes in season three, but “35 hours” isn’t really one of them. I’m sure it was fun to make, but it’s not all that fun to watch.
- Everything the Petes aren’t supposed to touch has a “NO!” sticker on it with Don’s face in the “o.”
- “Like a dog with a bladder problem, the Kretchmars were leaving their mark everywhere.”
- “The ‘f’ stands for free range.”
- Little Pete insult of the week: “Suck on soil, lounge act.”
- Little Pete’s first steps were on the ceiling of the Wrigley’s front porch.
- Pete and Pete test out the stereo by listening to Kreb Zeppelin’s So-So.