Yesterday was not only Thanksgiving, but the 20th anniversary of the Nickelodeon teen sitcom The Adventures of Pete & Pete. As we've already covered, this show is one of the best kids' shows of all time and has developed into a big cult fanbase with its surreal atmosphere and strange tone representing childhood. With that said, choosing our top 10 favorite episodes of Pete & Pete wasn't easy since almost every single one was very solid, quirky, and memorable. Eventually, we were able to jot down a list we felt satisfied to feature as our all time favorites. Here's Kevin's top 10.
10. Valentine's Day Massacre
This is the first episode from the pilot season that featured from 1991-1992. In this episode, Big Pete throws a discus around the school's football field and accidentally killed the school mascot, a squid named Edna. While hiding his secret from the school maintenanace man Mr. Beverly, Big Pete also develops a huge crush on his math teacher Ms. Fingerwood. However, Big Pete's arch enemy Openface knows about this and tries to help Mr. Beverly get closer to Ms. Fingerwood to sabotage Big Pete. I really like this episode because I found it to be funny and charming. It's a good step to showcase what the series would be about.
9. Field of Pete
In this episode, Big Pete's baseball team goes through a big losing streak. His baseball coach is not pleased with this, so he brings Little Pete aboard to yell insults to the opposing team. It succeeds and the coach constantly treats them to Orange Lazarus, an orange slushie that, according the slush man who created it, is dangerous to consume. Eventually, Big Pete feels unsatisfied about his coach's decisions for the team's winning streak and decides to bring a cooler filled with extra cold Orange Lazarus. The team has a huge case of brain freeze and Big Pete tells the coach that they're going to play fair and square. This episode is great because it shows that winning isn't everything and if a person is going so far to ruin something in order to win, the fun is taking out.
8. Grounded for Life
In this episode, Little Pete is grounded for ruining his dad's lawn. This angers Dad since he's in a best lawn competition with his neighbor. So Little Pete decides to dig a tunnel to escape while his parents are away looking at the fireworks during the 4th of July. This is also the episode where we're introduced to Nona, the weird little girl with the cast in her arm who would eventually become Little Pete's best friend. There were funny moments that went over my head when I was a kid like Little Pete finding Jimmy Hoffa's wallet, which is why I like it.
In this episode, Big Pete is a new rookie lifeguard at the town swimming pool for the summer and Little Pete is ruining it when the adults have their adult swim. The senior lifeguard tells Big Pete that if he prevents Little Pete from disrupting adult swim, then he would make him senior lifeguard having the privilege of sitting on the lifeguard's chair. Despite Big Pete not wanting to wreck Little's Pete fun and banning him from the pool, he accepts. Little Pete figures it out and decides to up the anty and plan the biggest cannonball ever at the large diving board. It takes me back to when kids were upset that they had to leave the pool so that the adults could swim, which I always hated. I can totally relate to this.
6. Farewell, My Little Viking Part 1 and 2
In this episode, the adults around Wellsville hate Artie's action around their kids so they plan on getting rid of him. Meanwhile, Little Pete takes down the school bully Papercut on rock, paper, scissors. Papercut is not happy about it and challenges him to a rematch. Little Pete isn't afraid since he knows that Artie will protect him. But the adults convince Artie that Little Pete doesn't need him anymore so he decides to leave Little Pete and become a salesman. Eventually, Little Pete took down Papercut without Artie's help and Artie then decides to leave Little Pete to help another kid in need of a superhero. This was the last episode that featured Artie and it was sad to see one of my favorite characters go.
5. Apocalypse Pete
In this episode, the Petes' dad and Ellen's dad compete in a race to win a trophy. However, Little Pete sabotages Ellen's dad's car to gain his father's approval and love. With that, the car explodes and Little Pete takes the action figure that inside it. It results in a war between the two families and Big Pete and Ellen are told not to speak or see each other again. This is an episode I always remember watching since Ellen's dad is played by Steve Buscemi. It's funny watching this and seeing him in Boardwalk Empire.
4. Hard Day's Pete
In this episode, Little Pete is running late to school and sees a garage band playing a song. Eventually, the song gets stuck on Little Pete's head and he tries his best to remember it. But slowly, he forgets. He decides to start his own garage band named The Blowholes so he can try to recollect the song. But then, he runs the electric bill up to $700 and is told to quit the band. Little Pete decides to play songs based on requests to raise money for the bill and eventually, they make it. Also Little Pete finds his song at the end. I really like this episode because I like the music in it.
3. 35 Hours
In this episode, the Petes' parents leave for the weekend and Big Pete and Little Pete have the whole house to themselves. So they decide to have fun by playing bowling with a frozen turkey, listening to music loudly, and plan the longest bike race ever. But Big Pete decides to go out with a girl instead. So Little Pete sold the house to the nicest family in the world for revenge. Big Pete finds out about this and try to get their parents' home back before they get home. It has so many funny moments, especially when Big Pete invites his arch bully Endless Mike to chase the family away.
2. The Nightcrawlers
In this episode, Little Pete doesn't want to go to bed so he decides to break the world record of staying up for 11 nights alongside his friends. Slowly, his friends succumb to sleeping and Little Pete tries to keep himself up. Meanwhile, the adults find out about this and are scared that their kids might break their bedtime rules. In the end, Little Pete is the only one up and is close to breaking the record. Little Pete's mom decides to compromise and moves up Little Pete's bedtime. I like this episode because I remember when I wanted to stay up longer when I was a kid and seeing Little Pete trying to stay up all night was something I wish I could've done.
I love this episode. I don't know why, but I really love it. In this episode, Big Pete tries out for the wrestling team and had to take down Endless Mike, the reigning champion. This episode is insane and hilarious and I watch it every chance I get.
Now, here's Patricia's top 10.
10. Dance Fever
Around Season 3 of Pete & Pete, it felt more mainstreamed with Artie leaving and the focus shifted towards Little Pete and Nona as opposed to Big Pete and Ellen. It had a different tone that most people didn't care for, myself included. There were three episodes from Season 3 that I enjoyed: "Splashdown" , "35 Hours", and "Dance Fever". In this episode, a school dance is occuring and Little Pete is afraid of dancing, Nona is afraid of dancing with her dad because she feels embarrased around him, and Big Pete develops a crush on the bassist who plays the music for the dance. I really like this episode because it was able to bring in the quirky charm that featured in the previous seasons and it shows that there are moments when kids feel embarrassed about things and facing their fears.
9. Day of the Dot
This was the first episode I remember watching when I got introduced to The Adventures of Pete & Pete. I didn't understand it at first, but when I saw this episode again around 2005 on The N, I appreciated it a lot more. In this episode, Big Pete and Ellen are in band practice and their coach shows them their new formation to use in the band competition. Ellen was told that she was giving the position of being the "i" of the word Squid. Ellen and the rest of the band practices hard doing the same thing over and over while Big Pete tries to change it up to make it fun again. Eventually, they break the coach's controlling ways and did a new formation and brought fun again. This is a great example of how adults suck out the fun out of something that is suppose to be enjoyable and take things too seriously. While "Field of Pete" also has a similar message, I felt that "Day of the Dot" is a more focused and tells this lesson better.
In this episode, Ellen asks the math teacher Ms. Fingerwood on why algebra even matters. Ms. Fingerwood isn't able to answer the question. She decides to quit and try another job. Meanwhile, the other teachers feel that they need to control their kids so that they won't ask that question. So they brought in multiple subtitute teachers, including Ellen's father, but it doesn't work. Eventually, Ellen finds out that Ms. Fingerwood is leaving town on train and uses algebra to find out what time her train arrives. She convinces Ms. Fingerwood to return to teaching. I think that Jim Bevan from Manic Expression said it best on episode 23 of Casual Chats discussing about Pete & Pete when describing this episode. As a kid, you see it as an episode of rebellion on questioning on why things they way they are. As an adult, it teaches you that you have to reason of why you're questioning and if it's valid or not.
7. The Big Quiet
This is, in my opinion, a very overlooked episode. Not many people talk about it and I don't understand why since it's a well written episode with a great lesson. Little Pete's lizard Gary died in a tragic hit and run and he has a funeral for his pet. As time went on, he dedicates his radio station WaRT Radio, has slide shows, and a mural dedicated to Gary. But everyone slowly forgets about Gary and Little Pete is determined to keep Gary's memory alive. Meanwhile, Big Pete is feeling more uncomfortable around his dad as he no longer has anything in common with him. Ellen, Bill, and Teddy prep Big Pete with facts about his dad for a 3 hour long car trip with him using emergency cards about jokes and facts that he likes to talk about. Eventually, the Petes let go of their problems and learn a lesson of moving on and being yourself. It's a great episode that never feels forced and teaches those lessons in a solid way. It's too bad most people don't recollect it.
6. Space, Geeks, and Johnny Unitas
This is my favorite episode of the pilot season. It's about Pete and Ellen completing a difficult science project with complicated topics. Along the way, a student named Joe Jones talks to Pete about how The Greatest Game Of All Time, the 1958 NFL Championship with the New York Giants vs. the Baltimore Colts is being featured right now in a far away galaxy. Pete's favorite athlete is Johnny Unitas from the Baltimore Colts and works hard on researching this hypothesis. Joe Jones also tells Ellen about possible aliens and Ellen also does research on that. Eventually, they learned from their science teacher that if they turn these papers in, they'll fail the course and will take summer school. Big Pete and Ellen found it a huge waste of time until they decide to confront Joe again. But Joe is nowhere to be found until the last day when the project is due. They learn something about Joe that shocks them. I'm not going to spoil the ending. I recommend you watch it for yourself. This is a great episode filled with facts on astronomy and sometimes deep, philosophical thoughts on why doing a project matters when we ourselves are small and insignificant compared to the vast universe.
5. Farewell, My Little Viking Part 1 and 2
Kevin already gave the synopsis on this episode, so I won't go too deep into it. While I felt that Part 1 was slow, Part 2 made up for it with Little Pete taking on Papercut and Artie realizing that Little Pete didn't need him anymore and leaves. It's one of the saddest moments in Nickelodeon history and I was even a little teary eyed in the end. It didn't help much feeling sad when the song "Why I Cry" by The Magnetic Fields was playing during the credits. I felt that when Artie left the show, Pete & Pete wasn't the same again. It felt kind of empty similar to when Little Pete was searching for Artie when he disappeared. It's a great contrast to the previous episodes when it was mostly cheerful.
4. Yellow Fever
This is my favorite episode of Season 2. It's funny, weird, and disturbing at the same time. It's about Big Pete's class going on a school trip to a dairy museum. But things go terribly wrong with bus driver Stu depressed about his girlfriend Sally breaking up with him for the millionth time, Big Pete slowly turning mean picking on everyone, and losing Ellen, Bill, and Teddy as friends and becoming close to Endless Mike. This is a perfect example of a field trip gone horribly wrong and it shows the boiling point of how a nice, humble guy like Big Pete can turn into a bully.
3. 35 Hours
If you've follow our Old School Lane Facebook page or my Twitter account, then you would know that in preparation for Pete & Pete's 20th anniversary, I saw the series all over again. I said that my favorite episode of Season 3 was "Dance Fever". But then when I thought about it, "35 Hours" was a lot more funnier, crazier, and memorable than "Dance Fever". I loved how Little Pete took revenge on Big Pete not doing the big bike race with him by selling the house to another family and Big Pete inviting Endless Mike to chase them away. It was so funny and I failed to realize that when I saw it again. I have to thank Kevin, Alex, and Jim for pointing that episode out on Casual Chats when they were talking about it.
2. Hard Day's Pete
This is the episode that Pete & Pete fans love! They praise this episode to no end. While watching it again, I can definitely understand why. Manic Expression member Ingonyama70 said it best when he, That Longed Haired Creepy Guy, and I were talking on Skype the other day about the show. He always found The Adventures of Pete & Pete to be a bit too weird until he saw "Hard Day's Pete". He said that this episode is very relatable because all kids at some point find something that they least expected and leave just as quickly. It becomes engraved in your skull that you have to find it again so you can relive that moment. Some people say that "Hard Day's Pete" is overrarted, but I don't think so. After "The Nightcrawlers" episode, all the other ones from Season 1 were okay. But then the Season 1 finale "Hard Day's Pete" came about and it cemented the show as a true classic. It's a great touch of strangeness, but at the same time it's relatable and has memorable moments. From Little Pete seeing the garage band perform the song to making his own band, this episode is a blast and I can see why many people list this episode as their favorite.
1. The Nightcrawlers
This is indeed a nearly perfect episode. It has the perfect amount of strange, surreal moments, but at the same time, it's very relatable to what every kid at one point goes through: wanting to stay up past their bedtime. Little Pete trying to break the world record of staying up 11 nights and the adults wanting to take control back on their kids is great and all, but what cements this episode as my favorite is the ending. Mom and Little Pete compromise and they each respect their boundaries. That's amazing. That is what a real parent does: try to make rules for the kids so that they can learn the lessons of growing up as responsible adults, but letting their parents know that they can make up their own decisions. It's a great example to showcase that The Adventures of Pete & Pete is one of those rare shows on TV that never talks down on their audience and that for every strange moment, there's a great lesson to learn in the end. It shows how real the characters and situations are no matter how surreal it is and Pete & Pete hasn't shown that better than "The Nightcrawlers".
What are your favorite episodes of The Adventures of Pete & Pete? Post it in the comments below and let us know. That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.
-Patricia and Kevin