“Allnighter” (season 3, episode 8; originally aired 11/23/1996)
We’re approaching the end of The Adventures Of Pete And Pete, and that means more episodes about ancillary characters. In “Allnighter,” we delve into the subconscious fears and desires of Wayne “The Pain” Pardue, Krebscout Monica Perling, and, to a lesser extent, Little Pete Wrigley.
Maybe it’s because we already know so much about Pete, but this episode is almost an afterthought for him. It’s like the producers booked a school and Adam West for a week, and after “Last Laugh,” they said, “well, might as well do this one, too.”
The gist: Principal Ken Schwinger tells the three kids, who have been punished, to sit in his office while he goes to attend to the art class, the students of which have taken over the kiln and have a list of demands. He doesn’t come back and Pete, Wayne, and Monica have the school to themselves for the night. They run around and do crazy stuff, all the while trying to elude the night guard, who they’ve heard kills kids and makes their skin into pants. Along the course of the story, each kid tries to accomplish what got him or her in trouble in the first place: Wayne wants to be a hall monitor; Monica wants to climb a rope; Pete wants to free worms from the biology lab.
They each achieve their goals, of course, because otherwise “Allnighter” would be a depressing and pointless episode. They also meet the night guard, Roger, and—not shockingly—he does not want to make their skin into pants. Instead, he shows them his rooftop garden and teaches them to repot night blooms. Ultimately, the sun comes up, the principal comes back, and they scare him back into being their bitch.
All’s well that end’s well in Wellsville. The kids still have to go back to class the next day, but for that one night, they ran the school and somehow totally didn’t get bored pushing the skeleton from the nurse’s office down the stairs or convincing Monica that the urinals in the boys’ bathrooms are foot washers. (“That white puck thing makes your feet smell pine fresh.”)
This episode is sufficiently creepy, harnessing Are You Afraid Of The Dark?-like levels of darkness and latent fear of the unknown. Kids who break the rules are, after all, punished, whether it’s by a teacher or cosmic justice or a sadistic murderer. More than punishment, though, this episode is about how kids are arbitrarily held down, told when to go to the bathroom, and unjustly subjected to stupid adult rules. It’s a simple enough message, and one we’ve heard and seen a thousand times in kids’ movies and on TV—particularly on Nickelodeon, “where kids rule”—but it’s an effective one. Show kids what they want—mirror images of themselves getting the upper hand on “dumb” adults like Adam West—and they’ll watch it over and over. Nickelodeon even ran whole contests based on the premise that it would be prize enough to see your school’s principal getting slimed “against their will.” Adults hate fun and love rules, right?
It’s weird, I guess, all these years later to be one of those fun-hating adults and still watching this show. Is there anyone on The Adventures Of Pete And Pete who reflects who we are today as an adult, or do we see more of ourselves in the Petes or Ellen and Nona? Sure, there are cool adults on this show like non-murdering guard Roger and Artie (though the latter is stuck in a weird, protracted childhood). Bus Driver Stu teeters on cool, though his penchant for outbursts and insanity is a little off-putting to kids and adults alike. Why else would he have driven away driver Sally Knorp?
Adults on kids’ shows aren’t meant to be mirrors of their everyday counterparts like the kids are. That being said, Pete And Pete does a decent job at not making every adult look like a total nincompoop. We might think we’re more Pete than Don, but even if we were Don, would that be so bad?
- Pete takes advantage of the school’s announcement system to project his mega-burps school-wide.
- Monica got stuck on the gym’s rope for 40 minutes because she was “too scared to climb and too proud to give up her quest to ring the bell” at the top.
- There’s no good insult of the week, but Monica does tell Wayne not to “get a goiter.”