Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Malibu Summer

It's time for another Super Edition and it's a woefully out-of-season one, but here we are. There's another two that I have to get to after having skipped them all to get to the Regina Morrow drama but I might come back to the regular storyline before that. Anyway, these Wakefield bints have some summertime shenanigans to get to, so let's crack on.

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Malibu Summer

It's summertime and the Wakefield twins are hanging out at the beach, being all sexy and tanned, with their blonde hair apparently giving them away as "California girls", because if you've got dark hair and claim to be a California girl you're clearly a goddamn liar. Looking at you, Katy Perry. Elizabeth is planning on applying for an internship with the Sweet Valley News for the holidays but Jessica wants to go to Malibu to work as a "mother's helper", which sounds positively Victorian but seems to just mean babysitter. It's what Lila is doing for the summer (apparently her dad thinks a summer job will be character-building), but Ned and Alice won't let Jessica go unless Elizabeth goes too. Needless to say, the smallest amount of pestering makes Liz roll over and decide to go to Malibu after all and do the internship next summer instead, on the condition that Jessica organises the jobs and interviews.

For some reason, the lady in charge of the nanny company is very excited to have twins working for her and tells Jessica that they have two placements left in Malibu. One is with a family called the Sargents, who have a baby and other is with a family called the Bennets who have a daughter that other nannies have complained about because she's a brat. Jessica finds out that the Sargents are cousins of rock star and teen actor sensation Tony Sargent and bagsies that position for herself, while reasoning that Elizabeth will enjoy a challenge and sticks her with the nightmare kid. However, the weekend of the interviews with the families clashes with Jessica's weekend away at cheerleading camp (and truly, this book should have been set at that very cheerleading camp, because that would have been way more fun) so she persuades Elizabeth to go on her own and pretend to be Jessica for the meeting with the Sargents after doing her own one. Elizabeth drives up to Malibu and it turns out that the Bennets are fabulously wealthy and live in a spectacular villa right on the beach with a tennis court, an indoor gym and a swimming pool, but the family setup is weird and the parents, Malcolm and Audrey, are never really around so she ends up being interviewed by a woman called Maria who works for them. Then she meets their daughter Taryn, who is sullen and withdrawn and is clearly going to be a lot of work. Elizabeth then heads over to meet Josh and Lucy Sargent, who live in a cramped little house, but are nice people. Jessica is going to have to sleep in the baby's tiny room as the guest room is full of boxes and stuff they don't have the space to unpack and Elizabeth thinks about how generous it was of Jessica to take the job in the tiny crammed house and let Elizabeth take the one that will have her staying in a private wing of a mansion, because she's clearly never actually met her sister who obviously had no idea this would be the case.

The twins get the jobs and head off to Malibu and Jessica's heart sinks when she sees where she has to stay, particularly when she meets the baby, Sam, who screams and wails the first time she holds him. Jessica and Lila hit the beach, later joined by Elizabeth with Taryn in tow. Lila's job is a walk in the park, as all she has to do is play with the little boy she's minding and his nurse does everything else, so her real concern for the summer ahead is finding herself a sexy older man, as she's decided that boys her and Jessica's age aren't sophisticated enough for her. Jessica eyes up a hot jogger on the beach and Elizabeth informs her that he's called Cliff Sherman and is a neighbour of the Bennets. He comes over to say hello and invites the three of them to a party he's throwing on Saturday for a friend of his who's in town to visit him. Jessica decides that she absolutely has to convince Elizabeth to switch jobs with her, so she can get to know Cliff better and get out of the cramped little Sargent house, particularly since finding out that Josh hasn't seen his cousin Tony in three years so he isn't likely to be dropping over anytime soon.

It turns out that Josh and Lucy are busy the night of Cliff's party and need Jessica to mind Sam, so she's devastated and tells Elizabeth about it, who volunteers to babysit instead so Jessica can go, as she doesn't mind missing it. Taryn continues to be grumpy and makes it pretty clear that she hates Elizabeth. Girl, I feel you. Liz thinks that she's just acting out because she's unhappy and lonely as her parents are cold and distant and don't seem to like each other very much. Or maybe she just doesn't like you, Liz. On one of their trips to the beach, Jessica gets annoyed with Taryn and tells her some silly stories about what happens to wicked little girls, namely getting eaten by a giant frog or turned into a dollar bill and spent. Taryn is fascinated and warms to Jessica, asking her to tell her more secrets and it's the first time Elizabeth has seen her being anything but a little brat. Meanwhile, Lila is windsurfing with a guy called Ben from San Francisco who she met at the mall and he seems all mature and cool and looks like he's about eighteen or nineteen and they're getting along wonderfully. On their next date, Lila asks him if he's in college in San Francisco and he gets all cagey and tries to change the subject, but Lila pushes the matter and he eventually tells her he's in high school and is only fifteen. Lila is upset at first, but only really because she knows that Jessica is going to give her a hard time after all her older man talk. She asks if he'll come to Cliff's party with her, but if he could pretend to be older in front of her friends. Unfortunately that's not going to fly as it turns out he's the friend that Cliff is having the party for so most of the people there will know him already.

It's the night of Cliff's shindig and Elizabeth is getting ready to head over to the Sargent's house to babysit Sam.

She slipped into her navy-blue cardigan. A quick glance in the mirror proved that she looked nice. 

Jesus, that was a close one. It's ok everyone, Elizabeth is STILL PRETTY. CRISIS AVERTED, STAND DOWN. She gets to the house and Lucy realises that she and Josh forgot to tell Liz that a friend of theirs called Jamie Galbraith will be arriving later on that evening to stay with them a day earlier than expected and just to let him in and tell him to make himself at home. Liz reads a book while Sam is asleep and then Jamie turns up. He's a cute 21 year old student at Yale who wears wire rimmed glasses and is majoring in English and the two of them get on like a house on fire. He puts on a Nina Simone album and asks Liz to dance with him in the sitting room which sounds entirely cringe, but Liz is into it and into him too but also thinks he's too old for her.

Sixteen must seem a little young to a junior in college.

It is. But try telling that to your brother.

Despite her reservations about the difference in their ages, Elizabeth agrees to meet him the following Monday on her day off at the Beach Café. At the party, Jessica is having a wonderful time, between dancing with Cliff and finding out that Lila's new mystery man is only fifteen. When she gets back to the house after the party, Elizabeth fills her in on the new houseguest, who has gone to bed at this stage, but leaves out that part about their upcoming date or that she fancies him. Monday rolls around and Liz meets Jamie at the cafe, and tells him that she's torn because she doesn't think her parents will approve and she'd feel terrible doing something they wouldn't agree with. She tells him that nothing can ever come of them seeing each other and that if they do it'd only be "for now" and also tells him not to let Jessica know about them.

Then we switch to Jamie's point of view and discover that - gasp! - he's actually seventeen year old Tony Sargent in disguise. He's in hiding after getting involved with some bird called Lisa who turned out to have a jealous ex-con boyfriend called Frankie who's now coming after Tony and managing to evade the cops while he's at it. Tony's agent, a dude called Jody, suggested a disguise and the plan to hide out in a nondescript part of Malibu.

Jody hired the best makeup men in Los Angeles to help Tony with his disguise. His hair was dyed brown and cut short. Dark-tinted contact lenses and wire-rim glasses toned down his eyes and made him look more intellectual. 

Yeah, hair dye and glasses, a feat that could only be performed by the BEST OF THE BEST. Tony is smitten with Elizabeth and thinks she's really special because she likes him for who he is and not because he's a super famous pop star and actor, so they continue to meet up in secret. Jessica thinks this Jamie guy is super annoying because he gets a kick out of winding her up, but particularly when he's pacing around the house and interrupting her makeout sessions with Cliff in the living room.

Jessica looks like she's on the prowl for a millionaire husband to murder and I have to say, I'm into it.
Taryn overhears her fancy parents having a blazing row, during which Malcolm tells Audrey that she never should have had a child (I suppose she made that happen all on her own then, eh pal?), Audrey accuses him of thinking that their marriage is a waste and then Malcolm storms out. That evening, Elizabeth and Maria think Taryn is coming down with a fever. She's also really upset and Elizabeth eventually gets it out of her that she thinks her parents hate each other and her, too. Liz tries to console her but Taryn secretly decides she's going to run away to her grandparents in Nebraska so she packs her little suitcase with some clothes and her doll and hides it under her bed for the following day.

Elizabeth is meeting Jamie/Tony at the Beach Cafe again and there's a weather warning for a storm that's about to hit Malibu, making this the second Super Edition out of four to involve a big thunderstorm as part of climactic events. Taryn sneaks out of the house while Maria is on the phone and as the storm gets worse, Jessica drops over to check on Elizabeth because her twin sense is tingling and she's worried because the house is right on the beach. When Maria answers the door and tells Jessica that Elizabeth is out with a friend, they decide that they should take Taryn and get out of the house to somewhere safer, only to discover that she's nowhere to be found. Maria realises she must have run away after hearing her parents fighting, so they call the police and take Jessica's car to go look for her. The cops have had a report of a little girl seen near some bridge so they head out to meet them there and find Taryn cowering on a broken footbridge that's about to be swept away or blown away or something equally dramatic. The cops are on the scene and trying to get her to come towards them as the remaining bit of platform is so flimsy, but she's too scared to move. The wind and rain snap some of the boards off the platform and it's about to give way, so Jessica leans out towards her, held by a cop, and tells her another wicked little girl story to coax her over. It works and Jessica manages to grab Taryn just as the bridge falls apart and they all rush to the hospital. Audrey and Malcolm turn up and the shock of what happened gets them to cop on to themselves and actually realise they should spend time with their daughter. The doctors are worried about Taryn's fever and tell the Bennets and Jessica that;

"She needs to want to make it. I don't know how else to put it, but we see it again and again in cases like this. If any of you can think of some way to help give her the will to come through..."

What is the deal with doctors in this series? That is not a diagnosis! "If you can't talk your daughter out of her illness, then her death is YOUR fault." It's Annie Whitman's suicide attempt all over again, where the only reason she came out of a coma was because Jessica deigned to let her be a cheerleader. That really happened, guys. Jessica looks out the window and sees that the sky is clearing up.

The storm outside was almost over, she thought bitterly. But the storm inside was only just beginning.

Yesss Jessica, now bite your fist and serve that soap opera realness.

Meanwhile, as the storm was raging, some dude calls to Josh and Lucy's house, claiming to be Tony's manager. Lucy assumes it's about the scary guy that's after Tony and tells the man that he's at the Beach Cafe. However, that guy was actually Frankie LaSalle, who found out about Josh and Lucy from Jody's secretary and is now on his way to murder Tony, or stab him a bit or something. Josh and Lucy only realise what's happened when the real Jody turns up to warn Tony that Frankie is in Malibu. They call the cops and rush out to the Beach Cafe, hoping to get there in time before anything terrible happens. While all this is going on, Liz and Secret Tony have been trapped in the Beach Cafe with two waiters and the manager as the storm was too bad to leave. Just when Secret Tony was about to reveal his identity to Elizabeth, Frankie bursts in with a knife and starts calling him Sargent and threatening him, and Elizabeth is like "wtf lads", but then Frankie lunges with the knife and the two guys tussle a bit until Liz wallops Frankie with a pewter vase and knocks him out. The cops turn up and take Frankie away and Tony's arm was cut by the knife so they go to hospital while Elizabeth comes to terms with Jamie's true identity. Tony apologises to her and tries to explain himself but Elizabeth is all upset because the guy she liked "didn't exist". Only Elizabeth would be upset that the dude she's dating was actually a celebrity. Negative craic.

They arrive at the hospital and run into Jessica, so she and Elizabeth each fill the other in on everything that happened. Jessica is astonished that Jamie has actually been Tony this whole time and can't believe she missed her chance with him. They go to see Taryn and Jessica tells Audrey about the wicked little girl stories she's been telling her all summer, so Audrey makes one up and tells it and Taryn comes around and is suddenly going to be just fine and also all of Malcolm and Audrey's marital problems have evaporated thanks to the ol' Wakefields-fixing-stuff magic.

Tony invites the twins and Lila and all their Malibu pals to a charity concert he's suddenly performing at and he tries to win Liz back but she doesn't see a future for them because their lives are so different. They all go to the concert and Tony sings a song about his "Summer Girl" (unfortunately the lyrics don't go like this) and Elizabeth is all sad but happy that they had their time together and that's it.

The next Super Edition better up it's game. Come on, people.

Notable outfit:
Jessica attended the interviews for the babysitting jobs in Elizabeth drag, which is always enjoyable and this time involved "a striped, button-down shirt and matching blue skirt", but it doesn't even come close to Lila Fowler's beachwear.

She slithered out of her sun dress, revealing a leather-look maillot that Elizabeth privately thought far too mature for her.

Oh WHATEVER, Elizabeth. God, she wouldn't know a good look if it slapped her in the head.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 199

References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6


  1. Love it! Did you know you can get a load of the Sweet Valley High books on the Kindle Unlimited on Amazon? I know what my Christmas reading is...... :D

    1. I didn't know that! Your Christmas reading list will be amazing!

  2. I knew what that link was going to be before I even clicked on it :-D Love me some Black Books

  3. Am I the only one who wondered where boring boyfriend Todd was while Elizabeth was all in love with Tony Sargent? Unless this was supposed to take place the summer before she met him? It was so hard to tell with the Super Editions. But then there was more than one of them for the same seasons with no indication given that they are not always 16. So maybe they take place outside of the time-space continuum?


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