Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
We’re back with another episode of Tim & Eric’s Friday Night Lights where the duo enters the high stakes world of school sports! Sure it’s just a bunch of untalented middle schooler wrestlers they’re trying to manage, but you’ve got to start somewhere! The episode begins with life imitating art as the local boy’s wrestling Coach is a raving jackass who ALSO happens to be played by the human car alarm known as Gary Busey. The reason said Coach is shouting at the kids of Jefferton Middle School which includes Tom’s son Brendon (or is it Branden?) is to try and get them ready for the upcoming wrestling tournament against their HATED rivals… actually who are they wrestling against? Oh it doesn’t matter. GO JEFFERTON PINNERS!! Speaking of Tom, what’s he up to right now? Well it seems that he STILL hasn’t found a job since he quit his CEO position back in White Collarless, so in order to pass the time he’s become the Equipment Boy for the wrestling team which means he’s hosing down jock straps while wearing a thong. Now NORMALLY this would come off as a little bit strange, but I guess anything goes when Gary Busey is in charge.
While attending to his duties and feeling a modicum of pride in his work, Tom finds that one of the lockers has a giant tub of something called FLAX-A-MAX which is a sort of growth hormone that will surely pack on the pounds but will probably cause all sorts of health problems; especially for kids as young as this. Tom, ACTUALLY being responsible for once, heads straight for Coach Harris (AKA Busey Coach) to show him what he’s found. Before Tom can get to him though, we see that Coach is very clearly scarring Brandon (or is it Brindon?) with emasculating rhetoric and openly mocking his father’s manhood. Clearly this seems to upset Brindon (or is it Brendon?) but Tom comes in just in the nick of time to try calm his son down and to chide the coach ever so slightly for using such harsh language. Oh, that was a mistake. Coach Harris is so aggressive and hot headed that he immediately threatens Tom with decapitation and neck hole defecation, and in the process he has a stroke right there on the spot. Well I guess that solves ONE of the Team’s problems since Coach Busey is out of commission for the rest of the episode and we only see him being quiet in the background for the remainder of the episode, but now they need to find someone else to lead the team victory; not to mention there’s still that whole FLAX-A-MAX thing that could easily get them all disqualified if the judges find out about it. Not sure of what to do here, TOM GOES TO THE MAYOR to ask his advice on the situation which is mistake number one. You NEVER ask The Mayor to help with anything that doesn’t involve illegal activities and mass murder because otherwise he will complicate your problems by including illegal activities and mass murder. It turns out that The Mayor has a VERY strong interest in making sure that the team secures victory at any cost and we learn that he once wrestled in middle school tournaments as well; albeit when he was a grown as man and not like… eleven. Still, he did SO well in those tournaments that the town of Jefferton (or at least The Mayor using the town’s money) paid to have a statue built in his honor, so losing this tournament or getting disqualified is simply not an option. His brilliant plan is twofold; He needs to find a way to get Tom off of this whole FLAX-A-MAX thing so that the team can dominate in the tournament, so he convinces Tom to start taking FLAX-A-MAX himself so that he stops raising questions about it, and then immediately afterwards makes him the new Coach which… I guess is better than no Coach at all? In any case, it actually doesn’t take much to convince Tom to do that by the way because he’s a total pushover for anything (he can’t rightfully judge how safe it is if he doesn’t try it himself, right!?), but oddly enough the FLAX-A-MAX also has an addictive quality on top of building muscles. Now I’m not saying that addiction to steroids isn’t a thing, but they tend not to get you high the same way that Tom seems to be getting whenever he starts to snort the stuff.
No time to think about that though! Tom’s got a team to coach if he wants to bring home the gold! How is he gonna do that you may ask? With a PowerPoint presentation of course! Yeah, as hard as it is to believe Tom isn’t the best Coach out there, though he DOES at least try to scare the kids straight about using FLAX-A-MAX… while he takes every opportunity to duck out and use it himself. Eh… you know I’ll let Tom pass on this one. I’ve hammered him about being a weak willed and inconsequential monster before, but addition isn’t the same thing by a long shot. Okay, it’s a BIT weir that he’s become a hopeless addict within hours of using it (it’s gotta be a pretty fleeting high if he’s sucking down this much this quickly), but it’s not like we have a lot of time to build up an arc! We’ve only got eleven minutes to tell this story!!
Tom really needs to get his act together though as the WHOLE TOWN is invested in the outcome of this tournament, to the point that even the Married News Team are doing puff pieces about it on prime time! Can he get over his addiction and get these kids ready to go? Well on that first point… no. He uses so much in fact that in a very short amount of time he’s gained a huge amount of weight and his voice has gotten several octaves deeper. On that second point… no as well. The night before the big tournament, he and The Mayour are having a chit chat in the locker room when they stumble upon yet another tub of FLAX-A-MAX, and this one doesn’t belong to Tom! DARN THOSE KIDS! DID THEY LEARN NOTHING FROM THE POWERPOINT!? The Mayor is pissed that Tom hasn’t gotten this issue taken care of but in a rare moment of putting his trust in someone else he begs Tom NOT to go public with this information and to let the tournament go on as scheduled. Tom is ADAMANT about his principals and insists the kids need to be punished, but his tone softens somewhat when The Mayor sweetens the deal; promising Tom a statue of his very own to stand right next to The Mayor’s for all time. Not a bad deal I guess, but Tom needs some time to think it over. This is when things get… odd. The script just kind backs itself into a corner that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and The Mayor ends up acting very out of character because of it. We jump to the next day and for whatever reason, The Mayor had sent a letter to City Council with Tom’s forged signature confessing that the kids had been using illegal substances. Wait, he JUST begged Tom to keep this quiet last night. The Mayor is fickle, but he’s not THAT inconsistent! It turns out the reason is because HE thinks that if one team is found to have used illegal drugs, then the tournament will be decided on a coin toss… and The Mayor has a two headed coin. I’m sorry, WHAT!? Even Tom is completely baffled by this asinine reasoning, and this is a dude who threw a child off of a hot air balloon just because The Mayor asked him to! Despite The Mayor’s IRONCLAD reasoning, City Council does not go with the coin toss and instead drug tests all the wrestlers who ALL come up with traces of FLAX-A-MAX and end up being disqualified. This is where things get… confusing again. With no wrestlers left to compete, the town turns to one person, and that’s… Tom. TOM!? Why the hell is TOM wrestling in the tournament? Not only is he a grown ass man, but he’s the biggest FLAX-A-MAX user out of anyone! Even if we buy for a second that anyone would be okay with him competing against middle schoolers, why wouldn’t HE get disqualified for the same reason everyone else was!? I mean granted it’s a VERY funny scene to watch Tom battle these kids, but the show isn’t usually this slapdash with its story!
Mostly due to Tom’s height and weight advantage, he eventually wins the tournament and Jefferton couldn’t be happier! For once in his life, he did something that was actually worthwhile in his miserable little existence! Well… worthwhile might be a bit strong, but he did get a standing ovation in the rec center! From there we jump twenty years into the future where The Mayor looks exactly the same (because he is an immortal demon taken human form) and Tom is a lot worse for wear. He lost most of the weight, but he also seems to have lost the ability to use his legs or speak for the most part; mostly sticking to grunts and hoarse whimpers. Don’t do drugs kids, or else you’ll end up like Tom! Well… you probably shouldn’t end up like pre-drugs Tom, but post-drugs Tom looks pretty bad too! It’s not all bad though, because The Mayor finally got Tom that statue he promised him…. except the statue looks absolutely terrible and doesn’t even spell his name right. Oh well. Such is the fate of Tom Peters; a tragic character of Shakespearian proportions.
A lot of people consider this to be one of the best episodes of the series (even Adult Swim proclaimed as much in one of their bumpers) and I was right there with them for the longest time, but having to take a serious look at this in the context of the rest of this series, I don’t think it holds up all that well. Gary Busey as an extremely intense and mean spirited coach was probably a lot funnier a decade ago, but at this point his reputation as a GOOFY WEIRDO has been completely spent and is now replaced by just being a skeevy asshole. Even taking him out of the equation (which isn’t THAT hard to do considering he’s more or less gone by the three minute mark), there’s still a lack of consistency with the story as it just starts falling to pieces as we get towards the end. Now a plot not making a whole lot of sense isn’t necessarily a BAD thing for a show like this, but what would usually come across as absurd eccentricities in better episodes just ends up being lazy writing here. The Mayor just seems to be doing whatever the script needs him to which is not what we should expect from the character. He may be inscrutable at times, but you always get the sense that he’s following his own sense of internal logic; even if it’s outright destructive and monstrous. Here, you GET what he wants but his way of getting it just stops making sense the moment he sends that ridiculous letter to City Council and the big fight scene at the end with Tom vs the children is FUNNY but also feels completely contrived. Maybe if you aren’t trying to watch it as closely as I am, then you can easily ignore the issues about the plot and just enjoy this episode for what it is, but we know that this show can deliver on the jokes without sacrificing the narrative which is what they’re doing here and what makes this a bit more disappointing than I remember it being.
The Recap Recap!!
- Gary Busey shows up as Coach Harris who berates a bunch of children before having a stroke and staying quiet the rest of the episode.
- Bob Odenkirk shouts FLAX-A-MAX catchphrases whenever we see a jar of FLAX-A-MAX on screen!
Tom Who Now?
- In a newspaper clipping about the Tournament, they spell Tom’s last name Petress.
- At the end of the episode when Tom finally gets his statue, he sees that the engraving says Petress as well.
Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)
- Everyone on the commentary immediately starts tearing into Gary Busey the moment the episode begins. It was a NIGHTMARE working with him.
- On the first day of Busey’s time on set, he immediately starts glaring at Tim Heidecker who’s trying to get the ball rolling and tells him he talks too much.
- ALSO on the first day, Busey threatens to call the press and tell everyone how poorly this production studio treats its talent.
- Busey apparently terrorized the staff as well; not just Tim & Eric. Tim Heidecker VERY briefly mentions that the guy was grabby which I don’t have a way to substantiate but certainly falls in line with other reports about him.
- At one point, Busey kicks Tim Heidecker out of the office and lectures Eric Wareheim for nearly an hour over it.
- At one point, Tim is invited back into the room by Busey who then explains Tim was doing wrong and they get back to work… before Busey kicks Tim out again for putting his feet on the coffee table. Eric gets another lecture.
- Busey refused to do the poses for his scenes, so they just had Eric do the poses and stuck Busey’s head on top of him.
- Several other characters in this episode were done the same way, though not because the actor was being an uncooperative prick. The kids on the wrestling team have their heads stuck on larger bodies, and the actor who portrays Joy Peters (Michael Q Schmidt) is the body for Tom once he starts gaining weight on FLAX-A-MAX.
The Bonus Screenshot