This is not a good episode to start off Album 3. If the episodes had been in ascending order this one would have been third, which would allowed for a much better first impression of the album. Now, the most likely explanation for this episode being first is that you can’t have a “back to school” themed show after you’ve already had an episode preceding it that takes place in school. But that still isn’t the best reason to begin the album on such a low note. This episode probably should have ended up in The Lost Episodes right next to its counterpart, It Sure Seems Like It to Me.
This episode’s theme is friendship but it spends the first half in Leslie’s imagination. What would have been more entertaining would have been showing the audience a real first day at school where things didn’t go as planned. Instead we were given Leslie’s nightmare scenario which sounded like it should be a Halloween special. Everyone she describes is mean, creepy and/or evil. Her mother is cruel and insensitive. Her bus driver is a maniac and a criminal. The haunted house of horrors where Leslie attends school is worse than a prison. This is a very dark picture that Leslie paints and it’s a little scary. I was glad when Leslie’s nightmare tale was over and we actually got to the point of this episode.
Following Leslie’s exaggeration subplot, the episode’s purpose is finally revealed. Leslie was neglecting her friendship with Anne because she was trying so desperately to remain best friends with Cindy. The episode would have benefited greatly if this storyline had been expanded on instead of dwelling on Leslie’s tale of misery. Leslie’s mom talks about how Leslie and Anne hung out all summer. But the audience didn’t get to witness any of that. Anne definitely deserved more airtime.
Leslie is not a sympathetic character but she partially redeems herself by the end of the episode when she has a heartfelt conversation with her mom. Her honesty is refreshing. And it fits perfectly into the episode because it expands the definition of friendship from friendship between people of the same age to including the friendship that can exist between a parent and a child. Unfortunately, the maturity Leslie seems to have gained through this lesson is completely undone in the next episode, It Sure Seems Like it to Me.
There’s nothing wrong with somber episodes but this one could have been a lot more relatable and engaging. It felt impersonal until near the end when things turned around. The overall concept was a good idea but the episode turned out to be below average, lowering the quality of the whole album right off the bat. This episode gets 2 out of 5 stars.