Ferris Bueller: 101, “Pilot”; August 23, 1990

Hey, it’s been a while! Sorry about that! I just got fed-up with the episode of Girl Meets World I was reviewing crashing over and over again, and then, well…

Anyhow, here’s a brand-new old show! You know the classic John Hughes film starring a young Matthew Broderick, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? Probably you know that. Did you know there was a tv show based on the movie? If you didn’t know that, there’s a good reason for it, and it probably has nothing to do with you being young.

Incidentally, there’s also a long-forgotten tv adaptation of Back To the Future, Little Shop of Horrors, and Teen Wolf. Not the current MTV Teen Wolf. A different one. All three of those shows were cartoons, incidentally. Along the perhaps more memorable tv show versions of Jumanji, Beetlejuice, Men In Black, Ghostbusters, and The Mummy (okay, probably I’m the only one who remember The Mummy cartoon).

The Ferris Bueller tv show is live action, though! And reportedly terrible. I’ll be recapping it here as I watch it for the very first time because someone, somehow, had a copy of the show lying around and uploaded it to Youtube.

We start out with a click look at Ferris’s room with a spectacularly 80s synth tune playing in the background.

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Finally we find Ferris, who sits up in bed and recites some Mark Twin quote about names. 20 seconds in and I’m already beyond baffled. The room is pretty accurate to the movie, but the guy who plays Ferris not only looks nothing like Matthew Broderick, but also sounds like Phoebe’s brother from Friends, but with a higher voice.

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Ferris says he’s never changed his name, especially now that he’s been on the big screen.

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Well now I’m even more baffled. Apparently Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was based on a true story, the true story of this kid from Long Island, New York.

He says Matthew Broderick was too white bread, and pulls a chainsaw out of his closet, and takes Broderick’s head off. Okay.

His sister Jeannie yells at him to keep the noise down while she’s curling her lashes.

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Jeannie is played by pre-Friends and pre-Leprechaun Jennifer Aniston. Ferris gives us the spiel that Jeannie thinks he gets away with murder, but she’s the one with the car and nose job. Totally the same thing.

Incidentally, the role of Jeannie was played by Jennifer Grey in the movie. Jennifer would go on to guest-star as Rachel’s friend Mindy on Friends, and of course, Rachel was played by Jennifer Aniston. Also, coincidentally, Jennifer Grey and Jennifer Aniston both had nose-jobs… and I think Aniston’s sporting her original nose on the show. (It’s not nearly as large as Rachel’s original nose in the flashbacks on Friends, by the way). Anyway, as terrible as this show is so far (I’m exactly 1 minute and 23 seconds in), at least we can say it predicted the future, in a way!

Ferris talks about his parents and the dad likes oatmeal or something. Ferris goes on to talk about how being a teenager sucks and whatever, and school is only good for keeping track of friends. There’s Cameron:

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Look at that horrible, clunky old thing. The computer’s pretty bad too. Hey-oh!

And Sloan, the newest transfer to his high school. They’re about to fall in love, he says, all they have to do is meet.

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Is this Sloan or Kelly Kapowski?

Okay so now I’m REALLY confused because apparently there’s a movie based on this kid, and in that movie, he had a girlfriend named Sloane, but on the show, he has never even met Sloane? The heck??

Ferris tells the camera to stay as long as it likes, just to be careful about not wasting electricity or touching the stereo. Then he invents the camera to just come to school with him. I think Ferris should be more worried about wasting the audience’s time, rather than electricity.

Then we get the credits and theme song and by God, is it the worst/most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.

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They literally green-screened the actor leaving a building. And the theme song is just variations of “Ferris Ferris! Bue-bue-bue-bueller!” But they literally green-screened the actor leaving and later entering a building.

Ferris heads downstairs for breakfast, where we find out it’s the first day of school. Mrs. Bueller asks Mr. Bueller if he has any advice for Ferris. He replies “Never invade Russia in the winter.” Wow. Hilarious. Also, Ferris called Matthew Broderick whitebread. Meanwhile he’s wearing khaki pants and a light-blue button-down collared shirt.

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Jeannie gives Ferris the standard “leave me alone while we’re at school because I’m older and you’re embarrassing” talk. Ferris is like “Yeah, whatever” and then hops into a waiting limo.

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Inside it is Cameron. Of course. They drive to school together, but first stop at the Santa Monica pier for hot dogs. Cameron complains about high school and how gross and disease-ridden it is, and especially that gym is awful. Luckily Ferris shares his computer hacking skills with his movie counterpart, and he changed the schedule so Cameron doesn’t have to talk gym, and also he put himself and Sloane in all of the same classes.

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Principal Rooney is going to start the school’s morning address because they don’t have in-school tv morning announcements in 1990. They start with the Pledge of Allegiance, as is standard, then Rooney continues.

Rooney: Good morning, students. I’m Edward Rooney, principal of Ocean Park High School.
Some kid with a Brooklyn accent: Loudah!
Rooney: A new year. New beginnings, a chance to learn. An opportunity to excel.
Some kid: Up yours!

Rooney begins reading from the student handbook, just basic rules about no smoking on campus, you can’t leave the school without permission during the school day. The kids grumble and one kid asks “What is this, a school or a prison?” Rooney demands to know who said that, and the kid actually waves, but Rooney calls up a student who looks less threatening.

This student, who can best be described as “standards 80s tv/movie nerd”, protests. He says that Ferris says everyone deserves a right to freedom of expression. Rooney says he won’t tolerate Ferris or any of his disciples this year, and begins to expel Standard 80s Nerd. Luckily, Ferris has a remote-controlled trap door built into the outdoor stage, and presses the button before Rooney can finish his sentence.

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So that kid doesn’t get expelled, I guess, because Rooney was interrupted partway through. Also, odd that the idea of expelling Bueller apparently never came up.

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We jump to Ferris and Cameron discussing their first classes of the day. I was going to say that the background music sounds like the intro to the song “She Drives Me Crazy,” but it turns out that’s actually the song that’s playing. If Name That Tune was still on I could totally win. I’m predicting Sloan will enter the scene shortly.

A bunch of random people come over to talk to Ferris, with problems and stuff. One kid wants to park closer to the school, and Ferris happens to have some stickers that the school staff uses to legally park in the faculty lot. Two girls come over to complain about the lunch menu being mac and cheese again. This is the first day of school, though… Ferris says he’ll take care of it, anyway, and pulls out his enormous 80s cell phone to call the food services people.

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Then Sloan enters the scene.

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Can I call it, or what? I swear, I didn’t know ahead of time she’d actually show up while “She Drives Me Crazy” is playing in the background. It was just obvious to me, as a person who’s seen television and movies before.

Sloan and her group of friends glance over and giggle. Even though Sloan is a new student…? When exactly did she transfer to the school?

By the way, Sloan is played by Ami Dolenz, daughter of Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees! It’s sad, this is basically her only starring role.

Oh, she’s the blonde, one, by the way.

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The bells rings, and Jeannie runs down the hall, bumping into Principal Rooney. He writes up some slip, probably a detention slip. Then this happens.

Ronney: You’re late. You know what that means?
Jeannie: Yeah. I won’t go to heaven.

Jeannie is the best character on this show.

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In class, Ferris talks about how great Latin is. He conjugates the verb meaning “to love” at Sloan (she doesn’t acknowledge him at all so I say he’s talking at her instead of to her). He doesn’t know why Latin is considered a dead language, and claims that just last night, his mother told him to be home any later than V. 5 pm? That’s a ridiculous curfew for 16 year old on the last night of summer.

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Ferris is playing volleyball with the girls. I don’t know if it’s just because he wanted to spend time with Sloan, or, when he said he put himself in all of Sloan’s classes, he put himself in a girl’s gym class. I’m thinking it’s the latter because I didn’t see any other boys in that scene. Ferris finally introduces himself to Sloan.

Then, science class, where they’re dissecting frogs on the first day of school. Ferris introduces himself again and asks for Sloan’s name. She just looks up at him and looks back at her work. Ferris gives us this look.

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He kind of looks like 90s Ellen Degeneres here.

In driving class, Ferris drives his virtual car into Sloan’s virtual car. He tells her that they now need to exchange phone numbers, for insurance purposes, and asks her to lunch. She asks if he has the car, or if the driver’s test dummy does, because she’ll go out with whichever one has the car. Ferris says he has the car… even though he doesn’t. But his sister does!

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In the principal’s office, Rooney complains that he asked for a No. 2 pencil, not two pencils. The secretary lady is looking out the window and comments that they make a nice couple. Rooney replies, “And if they’d only breed I’d have a full box,” referring to his pencils. The secretary clarifies that she meant Ferris and Sloan, who are climbing into a Toyota in the parking lot. This makes Rooney ecstatic – he’s caught Ferris red-handed! He’ll be expelled for sure this time!

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A boring history teacher says something about a battle or something about a general. He asks if anybody knows the general’s last words. Jeannie, looking out the window, sees Ferris driving off with her car, so she stands abruptly, exclaims “I’ll be right back!” and leaves. The teacher says her answer was close and asks the rest of the class if they know.

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Jeannie runs out into the parking lot to find Rooney. She tells him to call the cops because her car’s being stolen. Rooney’s just happy that Ferris is definitely guilty of breaking the rules. He also issues Jeannie a citation for unauthorized absence from class.

Ferris and Sloan hang out on the beach. Ferris flirts. Sloan is nervous because she used to go to Catholic school, and has never cut class before. Ferris says the first time he cut class was in kindergarten. She tells him he’s brave and cute, and she kisses him and tells him she wants to be a ballerina. She runs off and trips in the sand.

Then they come back to the parking lot, where Rooney is weaving through the cars and hiding, in order to surprise them.

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Ferris claims that Sloan’s tonsillitis flared up and he was merely driving her to the hospital. It was a false alarm, though. Rooney doesn’t really care and talks about detention, and how that’ll be on her permanent record, and eventually that will make her a homeless college dropout. Ferris quips that a lot of homeless people are actually college graduates. Mm-hmm.

But Sloan confesses the truth to Rooney, and excuses Sloan because she’s new. But he leads Ferris to the principal’s office to work out his expulsion. Ferris demands the right to call his attorney.

After a jumpcut, the attorney leaves Rooney’s office, and asks Ferris to walk him out, so they can talk. The secretary asks Rooney what happened.

Rooney: He held a gun to my head.
Secretary: Well you didn’t stand a chance against a man of his caliber.
Soundtrack: *Makes most 80s/90s-music riff ever.*


Seriously, what IS this show? What WAS that?

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The lawyer says he threatened Rooney with lawsuits and stuff, and managed to get Ferris detention instead of expulsion. Ferris is upset – he doesn’t do detention. And it turns out the guy’s not a real lawyer, and Ferris paid him with Billy Joel tickets. Wow, Billy Joel plus that rad synth riff. The 80s levels are off the charts here 3/4 of the way through 1990!

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Jeannie attends detention in a foul mood. She perks up when she finds out that Ferris got detention too. Her mood sours again when she discovers an imposter has taken Ferris’s place in detention.

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This reveal comes immediately after Rooney says “Who do these kids think they’re dealing with, some kind of dummy?”

Cameron and Ferris leave school, and it turns out the limo from earlier was hired by Ferris and not Cameron’s wealthy dad. It was a one-time only thing, though, and Cameron is not pleased to have to take the bus home. Cameron is my second-favorite character despite only being in three scenes and having two lines.

Ferris finds Sloan waiting for him outside. She apologizes for freaking out and confessing earlier, and reveals that she’s decided to take Ferris’s advice: she’s going to transfer to the performing arts school across town. Ferris is just as confused as you, don’t worry. He offers to walk Sloan home, but says she has to carry her own bags – he has a bad back. She then offers to carry his bags.

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Then Jeannie gets pulled over for driving a stolen car, even though it’s her car and she reported it stolen. She can’t find her registration, and assumes this whole thing was some joke put up by Ferris. She drives off.

Ferris arrives home, gives his mother a big bouquet of flowers, takes an apple, and declares he’s going upstairs to get a start on his homework. Then Jeannie calls. We don’t know what she says, but Mrs. Bueller says “Your daughter has done it again” to Mr. Bueller. It sounded like Jeannie was probably in jail.

It turns out this is true, and her bail is set to $250. Except Ferris hacks the police computer to change it to $250,000.

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Wow, what a jerk. Jeannie did literally nothing to Ferris this whole episode except tell him to leave her alone in school. So he steals her car, takes her registration papers, then ups her bail. Who knows if their parents can even afford that much? They’re clearly well-off, but that’s still a lot of money.

Mr. and Mrs. Bueller leave for jail, telling Ferris his dinner is warming up for him. Ferris leaves, but not before telling us/the camera that we need to dress up better next week, because “You have to have style if you want to hang with Ferris Bueller.”

So all I can say is “What in the heck is this??” There are a lot of words I could use to describe this show, but I try to keep this place PG. It was just awful. Jennifer Aniston as Jeannie and Richard Riehle as Rooney were great, and the little we saw of Cameron was pretty great. But Sloan was really bland, and the “I’m transferring to performing arts school” thing came completely out of nowhere. We didn’t even see her dance at all, she just said she wants to be a ballerina and then… yeah. Ferris was really unlikeable, too. I already mentioned how needlessly awful he was to Jeannie. But he’s just too smug and too all-powerful in this show. In the movie, Ferris comes off more as a guy who wants to live life to the fullest, and is maybe putting on a strong mask to hide his insecurities. TV Ferris just comes off like a guy who wants everyone to think he’s really cool. Jeannie in the movie is a girl who’s exasperated by her brother constantly getting away with stuff and being seen as so cool by everybody. Jeannie in the tv show is pretty much the same only Ferris is also more awful to her. Movie Jeannie and Ferris seem to have just a normal sibling rivalry.

I don’t know if I even want to watch the rest of this show.

Honestly, Saved By the Bell is a much better “Ferris Bueller the TV Series” than this. Many people in the comments also suggested “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” as a better Ferris Bueller tv show, but I haven’t seen it.



One thought on “Ferris Bueller: 101, “Pilot”; August 23, 1990

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