7 Things: My Favorite Episodes #5 – Even Stevens

For those who may not know, Even Stevens was a Disney series that aired between 2000 and 2003 and focused on two polar-opposite siblings – Ren and Louis – and their attempts at getting along and understanding each other. It was a comedy with a lot of heart, and, if I were to make a list of my top twenty series of all time writing-wise, Even Stevens would likely make that list.

Counting down my favorite episodes from Even Stevens. Some of the best writing. Some of the best moments. The best overall. Per me.

Of course, there will be a few spoilers. Probably pretty spoilery, since I figure no one will know what I’m talking about if I don’t lay it all out there, since Disney has a bizarre thing about not releasing their series on DVD. Which is a bummer. I would buy Even Stevens, That’s So Raven, Kim Possible and Phineas and Ferb. I’m not sure why they don’t want my money.

7 – Strictly Ballroom 1.19

Despite Ren and Louis’ differences, when either of them is in real trouble, the other one always comes to the rescue. Of course. One of the sweetest examples of this occurs in this episode from the first season.

Ren and Louis are only a grade apart in school and they get invited to the same party. Ren is so sure that Louis will embarrass her that she makes him sign a contract to stay away from her at said party. There’s a boy there that she wants to impress, but before she gets to talk to him, she ends up with her hair stuck in a plant, her foot stuck in the toilet, drenched in toilet water. Despite the contract, Louis comes to the rescue, dancing with the host’s mom to create a diversion while Ren can make her escape.

The moment of commiseration between brother and sister, each harboring a major crush, is good for the heart, and the parting joke, with the party host calling his dad to tell him that he needs to come home, as he watches Louis woo his mother on the dance floor, makes me smile every time.

6 – Stevens’ Manor 3.18

Louis and his friends want to go on a ski trip. What better way to make the money than turning the house into a B&B while the parents are away, older brother Donnie is gone for the night and Ren is sleeping over at a friend’s house? So, the Louis team rearranges some furniture, dons uniforms, and opens up for business. When Ren’s sleepover turns sour and she returns home, she can either bust Louis or go along with it. She goes along, and then provides the plan to get them out of trouble when trouble closes in.

Several of the guest stars in this episode are priceless, and the episode has one of the funniest Louis moments of the series.

5 – Sibling Rivalry 2.15

Speaking of funny moments, there is a fight between Ren and Louis midway through this episode that would put it this high on my list even if it didn’t have other things going for it. You can watch it here if you are so inclined (the match begins at 0:34) –

The episode does have a fuzzy sibling moment at the end, though, which gives it heart. Plus, in the B story, older brother Donnie has his eye on a hot French girl, who just happens to be the Wonder Years Winnie Cooper. Which probably came about as the result of Fred Savage serving as a regular Even Stevens director.

4 – Influenza: The Musical 2.21

Christy Carlson Romano (now just Christy Romano… for some reason), who played Ren on Even Stevens, appeared as Belle in Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast after leaving the show. Lauren Frost, who played Ren’s best friend Ruby on Even Stevens, has toured as a backing vocalist with Barbra Streisand. So, it comes as no surprise that Even Stevens had three major musical episodes and multiple musical moments throughout the series.

This episode, though, is the only full-on musical episode of the series.

The lyrics are witty, there is care in the choreography, there is a song about 6th period and a song about the horrors of gym class. What else could you ask of a musical set in junior high?

How about a nod to Even Stevens’ Mom Donna Pescow’s Saturday Night Fever days, complete with disco lights?

3 – Heck of a Hanukkah 1.15

Obviously, a holiday-themed outing, this episode gives my innards warm fuzzies I simply can’t describe. It doesn’t go anywhere too special – based on It’s a Wonderful Life, as so many holiday TV episodes have been and will be – but, still, it’s an enjoyable take on the story. The script walks a perfect line between comedy and heart. One line sums up Louis’ wishes for his relationships with both of his siblings, and just a little bit of magic goes a long way.

2 – Where in the World is Pookie Stevens? 3.2

By far the nearest Even Stevens episode to my heart, Where in the World is Pookie Stevens? sees Louis accidentally selling Ren’s security stuffed animal, Mr. Pookie, during a yard sale he’s having to earn money to buy a drum set. When they realize the mistake, the whole family is on the mission to get Mr. Pookie back, but they can’t find him. Until Louis spots Ren’s Mr. Pookie in the same pawn shop that is selling the drum set he worked so hard to buy. Of course, you know what happens, but it’s the smile on Louis’ face when he rescues his sister’s beloved Mr. Pookie and the moral that, with the right people, you get rewarded for doing the right thing that makes this episode soar.

1 – Band on the Roof 3.5

Filmed as a rockumentary, Band on the Roof follows the blending of Louis’ band, The Louis Stevens Experience, and Ren’s band, The Alan Twitty Project, into supergroup The Twitty Stevens Connection. The episode has one of the most attention-grabbing lines of the entire series, a snappy song, an excellent “all is lost” kind of moment, and a happy ending that proves not all happy endings are without consequence.

All-in-all, Even Stevens had all kinds of things going for it – a cast of super-talented kids, including the young Shia LaBoeuf (who should have been packaged as a comedic actor and not a Hollywood heartthrob), a great supporting cast, exceptional writing and lots of heartfelt laughs. Until Phineas and Ferb, it was my favorite Disney series of all time.

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