The Fabulous Five #24- the Great TV Turnoff

Tony Calcaterra, Katie’s man, and Katie are at Tony’s house while the baseball game is on. Katie is trying to talk to Tony about Wakeman Jr High gossip, but Tony is completely ignoring her to watch the baseball game.  Katie is fed up with baseball- last week, Tony was late picking Katie up for their date because of a baseball game, and as a result they missed the movie. Katie stopped by Tony’s to spend time with him as she’s barely seen him all week, but Tony is too obsessed with the game.  Katie gets so fed up with Tony ignoring her, that she leaves in a huff.  Katie decides to go talk to one of her friends about Tony’s insensitivity.  Katie bikes to Melanie’s house, and Mrs. Edwards announces that Melanie is watching TV.  Melanie is too wrapped up in the episode of Star Trek she is watching to really listen to Katie’s woes, so Katie gets fed up and leaves Melanie’s house.  When Katie gets home,her mom is working ( she’s a freelance reporter who works from home) so Katie decides to call Christy. Christy’s mom says Christie is watching a nature program on TV for school. Katie can’t believe it- passed over for TV- AGAIN!  Katie is now having a strong urge to talk to someone, so she decides to go into the spare room that serves as Willie’s office ( Willie being Katie’s mom) t0 talk about what is frustrating her.  Willie asks Katie if her home ec teacher has mentioned the harmful effects of TV- like how it can affect basic human relationships and is a substitute for family interaction- during their unit on television? And Katie replies no- all the teacher says is what TV programs to watch and which to avoid. Willie is shocked that the class isn’t participating in a TV turnoff project. Katie asks what that is. Willie remarks that it’s when a group of kids agrees not to watch any TV at all for a week, and sometimes whole schools get involved.  Willie then says that Branford Junior High had a TV turnoff last month, and it was very successful.  Katie had not. Branford Jr High is Wakeman’s biggest rival. Willie is going to write an article for the local paper suggesting that Wakeman Junior High do the same thing that Branford did.  Katie tries to convince her mom not to because if the kids at Wakeman can’t watch TV for a week or more, they are all going to be pretty mad at Katie.  But Willie is too busy scribbing notes down to listen.

 Katie has forgotten about her mom’s plans until she sees the article written by her mom the next Saturday. In it, Willie talks to experts who talk about the harmful effects of TV on children, and some people from Branford Jr High say it was the best thing that ever happened to them at their school. Willie then pleads for Mr. Bell the principal to institute a similar project at Wakeman.  At the mall later, Beth tells Katie that if Wakeman kids can’t watch TV, no one will be able to see the videos the Media Club is working on and she hopes Katie’s mom won’t actually convince Mr. Bell to institute a TV turnoff.  Katie says it’s only for a week and Melanie FREAKS- Melanie says there’s no way she can miss her favorite soap,   Interns and Lovers,  for a whole week!  Jana and Christie say that neither of them really watches much TV and Christie says it may even be a good idea. Then the Fantastic Foursome- Laura McCall, Melissa McCormick, Tammy Lucero, and Funny Hawthorne- saunter over.  Laura and her friends start loudly mocking Katie’s mom’s article.  Katie is about to confront them when Tony and some friends head over to the movie theatre at the mall when the Fab Five is.  Tony waves at Katie, but doesn’t come over. Jana says maybe Tony will sit with Katie at the movies. Katie keeps looking around for Tony but he’s nowhere to be seen.  After the movie, Katie sees that Tony and his friends are watching a baseball game at a store at the mall!

 At school on Monday, Beth  and Dakeisha Adams rush over to the rest of the Fab Five and announce that Mr. Bell is having a big meeting with all of the teachers in the Media Center.  Dakeisha tells Katie she bets it’s about the article Katie’s mom wrote.  Katie is about to protest when the bell rings.  At the cafeteria, Tony asks Katie if he can come over tonight. Katie says yes and Tony says great because his TV isn’t working, and the Yankees are playing the White Sox tonight and he can’t miss it.  Katie starts yelling no way and she’s sick and tired of baseball and television, and Tony is turning into a TV addict!  Laura then goes over to the table and says that Katie only wants a TV turnoff because she doesn’t want to lose Tony to television. 

During Katie’s last class, there is an annoucement over the school loudspeaker- Mr. Bell annouces that there will be a TV turnoff at Wakeman Jr High- and he knows everyone wants to beat Branford as they have beat Wakeman at sports twice this year- so to top Branford’s TV turnoff of one week he wants the Wakeman kids to not watch TV for TWO whole weeks!  Some kids are cheering that they can beat Branford in a flash, other kids are upset that they can’t watch TV for two weeks.  A lot of kids feel it’s Katie’s fault that there’s a TV turnoff. Katie goes to talk to Willie about it,  and Willie says Mr. Bell and most of the teachers pledge their full support, and it may teach the kids that there’s much more to life than TV.  Willie tells Katie that everything will work out in the end, but Katie is NOT believing it.

 Jana calls Katie that night to say that Randy, Jana’s BF, told her that Tony is really mad at Katie and that Katie only got Willie to plan a TV turnoff because Katie is mad at Tony for watching baseball.  Katie is more upset than ever.  At Bumpers the next day,  Beth announces that the Media Club gets to interview Jack Albright, star of a big TV show called Taking Chances!  Beth is upset though, that the interview may air during the TV turnoff  and no one will be able to watch her interview Jack Albright.  Laura starts spreading a rumor at Bumpers that Willie doesn’t like television so she doesn’t want anyone else to watch TV. Katie yells out that it’s not true at all, and Katie is going to help promote the turnoff- uh oh!

 There’s going to be an assembly to promote the TV turnoff, and Dakeisha says the turnoff can’t be all bad if they get to miss a period of class for an assembly!  Kids who want to perform skits about the TV turnoff can sign up to perform.  Katie then hears the two McNatt brothers- one is in eighth grade, one in ninth, saying the turnoff is dumb and they refuse to participate. Katie hopes that kids will actually agree to be part of the TV turnoff.  The next day, the TV turnoff contract goes around. Kids can’t play video games, watch movies or watch videos ( what we call DVD’s today LOL) during the whole turnoff.  Beth is none too happy about possibly missing out on watching herself interview Jack Albright, but she agrees to sign the contract. Melanie says that if Beth can miss out on watching her interview, Melanie can not watch  Interns and Lovers  for two weeks.  Melanie then says that for two weeks she won’t know what happened to Sylvia. Sylvia is this beautiful character on the soap who is so in love with a doctor named Cal she is buying a wedding dress in case he decides he’s in love with her- WHAT THE FRIG?? and Sylvia is in a coma after being hit by a car.  Melanie decides that every day after school she will write a diary describing what she thinks is going on with  Interns and Lovers  and then when the turnoff is done and she can watch the recorded episodes, she will compare her diary to what actually happened on the show.  Shane Arrington, Jon Smith and Keith Masterson ( Jon is Christie’s boyfriend and Keith is Beth’s) are upset that they can’t play video games for 2 weeks, but they decided to launch rockets one morning instead.  The boys have all agreed to participate in the TV turnoff.

It’s the day of the assembly. Dakeisha Adams ( she’s black just so you know) dresses as Bill Cosby and makes these jokes about how Branford is really great and Wakeman will never beat them. Everyone loves her act.  Curtis Trowbridge dresses as Abe Lincoln saying that all kids should be emancipated from TV watching.  The seventh grade cheerleaders do cheers about not watching TV, and the ninth grade cheerleading captain Kaci Davis twirls her baton.  After all that, a boy and girl from each girl are on stage weraing all black. Katie brings out a TV and Mr. Bell pulls the plug and puts a TV in a coffin. Incidentally on the cover of this book none of the kids are wearing all black in this scene.  The six kids take the coffin offstage with the expectation that kids will put their signed contracts into the coffin if they are participating.  Dakeisha Adams warns Katie after the assembly that Laura McCall and her friends are trying to talk kids out of breaking the contract.  Katie says no kids will listen to her, but Dakeisha points out that Mr. Bell says the the TV turnoff is voluntary.

At a Fabulous Five meeting that Sunday, Katie says that she and her mom played Monopoly over the weekend. Jana went bowling with her mom and stepdad and had a lot of fun. Beth says her older siblings Brittany and Brian and her sister Alicia are whining over not being able to watch TV.  Katie then says that the Fab Five need to find spies- girls they are friends with- to watch who Laura and her friends are talking to about breaking the contract, so that the Fab Five can convince those kids not to. Jana bets that Dakeisha, and their other friends Mandy, Alexis and Melinda will agree to be spies for the Fabulous Five.

Two girls named Elizabeth and Lisa come up to Katie whining over not being able to watch TV all weekend. Lisa says her friggin parents are all pissy because they want to watch the news and other programs, so they are still watching TV and not supporting Lisa.  Katie tells Lisa and Elizabeth to try to get their parents to agree to have the TV off, and don’t Lisa and Elizabeth want to beat Branford?  Lisa is not convinced.  Jana then tells Katie that Randy and the other guys had a great time launching rockets, and Tony joined them. He signed the TV turnoff contract! But he’s still not talking to Katie.

Mrs. Clark asks the kids in homeroom what they did besides watch TV. Kids mentioned reading books, the rocket launching, and counting money they have saved. Mrs. Clark praises the kids participating in the turnoff.   At Bumpers, Dakeisha says she heard that Laura and her friends are saying they will watch TV shows for kids for fifty cents an hour and will tell kids what is going on with their favorite TV shows. God, Laura is almost more devious than your average Unicorn Club member!  Katie says that’s cheating and Dakeisha says she bets Laura will let Mr. Bell know who is cheating so that Wakeman fails.  Laura tries to get Melanie to pay her to watch  Interns and Lovers but luckily Melanie refuses.

Katie tells her mom after school that there are parents refusing to participate with the kids in the TV turnoff and Willie is steamed- time f or another article!   The next day at school, Melinda tells the Fab Five that shse made a really yummy fudge cake, and Heather Clark is writing a book.  Instead of homework that night, Katie writes a list of fun things kids can do instead of watching TV, like making beaded jewelry and taking pictures of friends and putting them in a collage.  Then Jana calls Katie and says that Laura is going to have a TV watching party on Saturday and a lot of kids are planning to attend!  Katie comes up with an idea to get the kids away from Laura’s TV party- she says they can get a group of kids together to bike to the amusement park, Adventureland ( like the movie!) and then they can all eat pizza at Mama Mia’s afterward!  Jana is going to see if Randy can ask Tony if he would go to the TV party or Adventureland. Katie hopes this plan works!

Katie gets Lisa to go by saying the boy she likes, Bill Soliday, will be going. Katie and her friends do get some kids to agree to their plans. Beth then says that Willie really cut down parents who aren’t helping their kids stick to the contract. Beth had her interview with Jack and it went great, by the way.  Melanie has Sylvia convalescing on  Interns and Lovers,  and Cal is helping her, according to Melanie’s diary of what is going on with the show. Katie is at the office running an errand for a teacher and Miss Simone the principal’s secretary says Mr. Bell is fielding tons of irate calls from parents mad about Willie’s article.  Parents thought the school talked Willie into writing the article. But Mr. Bell knows this is all for a good cause.

TONS of kids showed up at the Wacko Jr High parking lot ( what the kids call Wakeman) to go to Adventureland and Mama Mia’s! Katie is very impressed, and Jana said it’s one of the rare times, other than sporting events, where she’s seen so many Wakeman kids together! At Adventureland, Jana, Melanie  and Beth went on rides with their boyfriends, and Katie goes with Christie. I thought earlier that Christie was dating Jon Smith, but I guess not. I know she had been! Well, tons of the kids tell Katie this was a great idea, and they are having tons of fun. Then a bunch of boys with Branford Jr High letter jackets show up at the park- wait, kids can letter in sports in junior high?  The Branford boys start taunting the Wakeman kids but then Melanie and Beth spot some friendly Branford High cheerleaders to try to stop the potential violence.  Beth and Melanie plan to do cheers for their schools for the TV turnoff to distract the other kids and it’s a huge success! 

Mama Mia’s is very crowded and Jana reported passing by Taco Plenty and Bumper’s and seeing tons of kids at those restaurants, too.  Randy tells Katie that Jon and Scott didn’t go to Laura’s party because Tony really laid into them about not breaking their contract. Katie is SHOCKED!  Tony goes up to Katie and says he’s been reading a lot about baseball and he’s so glad to have learned a lot more about the sport now. He and Katie make up in case you haven’t guessed.

On Monday, we hear that NO kids but the Fantastic Foursome came to Laura’s party! GREAT SUCCESS!  Lisa then says that her parents were upset by the article written by Willie at first, but they got to thinking and figured if other people can give up TV so can they, and now both parents are reading great books.  Miss Simone even says a lot of parents called back to apologize about being upset before and bunches of kids tell Katie they feel closer to their families.

The turnoff is over, and there’s a big dance to celebrate. Melanie watched one week of her soap- and Sylvia is STILL i n a coma! Melanie can’t believe that nothing happened in a week, and her stories were a lot more interesting.  Mr. Bell then announces the results of the TV turnoff, and how the kids fared vs Branford.  At the end of Branford’s one week turnoff, 64 percent of kids didn’t watch TV. As for Wakeman- SEVENTY EIGHT PERCENT OF KIDS watched NO TV in TWO weeks! WAKEMAN WINS!  Everyone says that the TV turnoff wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t for Katie’s hard work. Katie feels all warm and fuzzy inside. 

The end of the book is the usual chapter introducing the next book- Christie is upset that kids make fun of her for being smart.

At the Chick Manifesto website, ( link on right) there is a contest to win 2 VC Andrews books! Sign up to win!



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