by Rishi Kundi
In the episode "Nightcrawlers", Pete and what few Nightcrawlers remain after a week lounge, dazed, on the curbside. As the camera tracks down the line of wearied, harried adolescents, the score is infiltrated by the cheery sounds of piccolos and flutes. A quick pan up shows Joyce Wrigley strolling down the sidewalk, carrying groceries and whistling as she not-so-coincidentally passes her erstwhile son and his gang. With a tone that can only be described as honey-coated razor blades, she says, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" and glances pointedly at Pete.
The young Viking is down for the count; his forces are sadly depleted, his will is sapped. He is on the brink of surrender when his mother says this. To a weaker man—say, older Pete—the triumph in that condescending remark would have been enough to sway his stance. But this is Little Pete; he has been taught by Artie in the principles that make a Viking a Viking. He glares up at his mother: to her surprise, the lassitude is vanished from his eyes, replaced by the blazing heat of a thousand suns. Beautiful day? Surrender? Not bloody likely. From under that fiery stare comes the simple defiance that is Pete:
"Dawn was better."
When I first saw this, I was stunned. In less than fifteen seconds, the show had summed up all that is virtuous about man—loyalty to principle, willingness to suffer, and a stout heart in the face of overwhelming odds—and placed that summary in the words of a ten year old boy.
What is the significance of this, you may ask. These have been included in the plots of a million horrid sitcoms. Pete is special because its origin—the conditions—are trivial: a boy wanting to stay up late. The applicability and relevance of this profound expression of values to a relatively unimportant situation is telling of the ubiquitousness of those principles in everyday life, thereby establishing Pete's attitude as not only topical but fundamentally human in spirit.
So there you have it: the most amazing moment I ever experienced due to cable TV. I hopw you don't think that I am overanalyzing those two lines.