the_oracle: (gasp!)
On The Run
June 1988

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A shadowy past...


  After a chilling encounter with murder, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now ready for a calm summer in Sweet Valley-until Eric Hankman appears.

  Like Elizabeth, Eric is a quiet, sensitive writer, and the two of them immediately become friends.

  But Jessica's not convinced that Eric is as perfect as he seems. Her suspicions are aroused when her new friend, Darcy Kaymen, thinks she recognizes Eric as a boy from her hometown who has a mysterious past. Jessica knows Elizabeth won't believe a word of Darcy's story without evidence, but by the time she has all the proof she needs, it may be too late to save her sister.

  Read ON THE RUN, the second Sweet Valley High Super Thriller!



   What's this? An update? What strange, bizarro universe have we entered? How do you escape? When will the madness end?!

   Yeah, I know. Most people apologize when they disappear. Me? I like to go melodramatically weird. It's why you love me. Well, that and you're bored and looking for something vaguely entertaining, and dude, I do vaguely entertaining like it's my job or something. So, win/win for both of us.

   That said, let's begin. I can now see why I dragged my feet when it came to this particular Thriller. See, I love me some Thriller action. Bring on the Sweet Valley News and its chatter about typewriters and dreamy boy reporters and the interns who get coffee for them! Bring. It. ON! What I don't love, however, is the typical Liz cheats on Todd/Jeffrey formula. Because seriously? It's the same guy, over and over and over. And even though this is one of the first couple of times we've tiptoed down this particular path, and even though I'd pretty much forgotten Liz actually wanted to cheat on Jeffrey* I'm still bored to tears.

  But how can this be, given the material I was given to work with? We've got mob bosses, drug czars, death threats, mistaken identity, murders, new people in from Ohio [what, there was a run on 'em?], nosy neighbors, and oh yeah, the Witness Protection program!
   That's right. I totally ruined the book for you, huh? But yeah, by now you should know better than to read one of these if you haven't actually read the book. Anyway!


  The boredom stems from Liz and her archetype for the cheating on her boyfriend. Should the Valley ever spring to life once more, or possibly you feel like creating your own slice of California heaven and you need the perfect twin to cheat on her boyfriend, you need the following ingredients. It's okay, I've triple-checked this recipe for accuracy and dude, it rarely fails:


  Elizabeth's So Good You'll Cheat On Your Soulmate Boyfriend Man-Candy Recipe:

  • Tall [though truthfully he just needs to be taller than 5'6" and your average guy is. And if he isn't, then you're either dealing with Tom Cruise and should run away immediately, or you're dealing with one of my exes and you should kick them in their freakin' kneecaps and save yourself the trouble]

  • dark [we'll accept anything from medium brown hair right on through to black hair, though usually we like the darker hair]

  • pale [if we're outside California, try and make him preternaturally pale, please]

  • good looking, but not prettier than either Todd or Jeffrey

  • moody [We accept no substitutions on this one!]

  • a writer [any sort will do]

  • mysterious past with bonus points being given if he's got parental issues or you seriously consider him a potential murderer in that "it's always the quiet ones" sort of way.



   Your eyes may vary, but it's generally a good rule of thumb to go with a lovely contrast to that fabulous hair and try blue, green, or a lovely gray. Blue is the most common, but think of all the blues you could use! Green and gray come in one shade apiece, so really, with blue you get your money's worth. Mix it all together and you've got a guy Liz will fall for given enough time and Jess will probably agree is mildly less repulsive than Bob down in accounting, but not hot enough to fight her twin for**. Because that, you see, would just complicate the plot and we cannot have that.

  Normally I'd have given you an extremely long winded recap of the events and I'm sure you're waiting for that. I'm delaying the pain because, well, nothing freakin' happens.

  It's July. Liz and Jess are working at the Sweet Valley News, remember? Jess is bitching about the gig and due to her run in with a murderer, she's not really into the water cooler gossip going around about the DeLucca trial. Frank DeLucca's on trial for a variety of things, the most recent being murder, and most people seem to think he's going to get away with it because all the witnesses have either had lapses in their memory or refuse to testify. Cuz that ain't shady at all, DeLucca. Anyway, fascinating as this is, it's happening in New York.
   Strike One. I find it really hard to get behind a twisty plot where the action takes place off screen in New York when I'm centered in SV, California. Sorry. It's not even that I don't fully buy that people across the country would give a damn about such a thing as it's entirely possible the case is just that big. It's just that I don't care.

  So, I'm with Jessica on this. That whole 'murderer nearly killed me and the twin' thing would make it so that I wouldn't want to focus on a guy who probably killed, or had other people kill, a whole bunch of people. I'd want some rainbows, unicorns, and cute guys not made out of sensible twin's recipe.
   Since she works at a newspaper though, that ain't gonna happen. Seth and Dan get into a pissing contest over their beliefs as to whether anyone will come forward and nail DeLucca's ass to the wall or not. Dan says no one's that brave/stupid, and Seth disagrees. We all know that Liz has taken Seth's side even before she ever so earnestly shares her opinion with us.
  For whatever reason, we're introduced to Darcy K, who is the third intern and a recent transplant from Ohio. DK and Jess hit it off for reasons I never really do understand because DK is a two-faced bitch who isn't even all that subtle or smart in her bitchitude. I expect better from my Valley vixens, okay? Lila would never let this girl in, and you know how she feels about Liz during the Jeffrey years...
  Anyway, DK rarely has an opinion of her own and all the thoughts she does share with the class come filtered through her father. It's as annoying as you'd think it would be. Liz and DK clash immediately and the guys are oblivious because, well, they're guys.
   Back to the DeLucca case. Dr. Ryan has appeared with evidence, DeLucca is sent packing and the peasants rejoice. I... snore softly in the corner.

  During a fit of DK's bitchery, DK tells Liz to get Dan a coffee with cream and sugar, only Dan's allergic to cream [wha?] and Liz has to make two coffee runs. She meets Eric, new guy from Ohio [see?] and they hit it off because he was made for her. He actually sounds a bit creepy considering how he runs hot and cold so easily, but hey, that's Elizabeth's fling-type, so, whatever. Naturally DK falls for Eric much like Jess would [as in not really, but the idea that he's not in love with her is one too vexing to dwell on] and friction ensues when DK realizes Eric isn't all that interested. Except...
   I'm getting ahead of myself. Eric and Liz hit it off. Since he's new and not a psychotic bitch [or is he?], Liz offers him a tour of the city. He takes her up on it and you know they'll fall for each other and they do, but Liz doesn't want Jeffrey to find out or for Eric to find out about Jeffrey although, at this point, she and Eric haven't even kissed. She just wants them to. So they agree to keep things quiet.
  Thing is, anytime Liz asks about Eric's past, he clams up and gets this look in his eyes that freaks her out a little. Still, he's just her type...
   Doesn't take long for DK to realize Eric's not totally interested, but before she can get good and mad, she finds out that another intern, this one male, is going to appear. Still, DK is nosy, so she calls her friend back in Ohio to see if she knew Eric before he moved. No such luck, but hey, a girl was murdered right before Eric showed up in Sweet Valley. Based on this and the vague notion that a guy fitting the same description is the suspected killer, DK and Jess decide Eric is obviously Christopher Wyeth, the murderer.
  And you know, given how these things work out, the odds were actually in their favor.

  With this knowledge, DK and Jess don't go to the cops or their parents. Instead they decide to keep an eye on Eric to see if he'll crack. Right, sure, sounds good. *draws air circles near temples* Because the Valley is the size of a postage stamp, Mr. Wakefield knows Eric's father [he's a client] and invites him over for dinner. He also invites the next door neighbors, the Beckwiths. Interesting, as the Beckwiths are frequently mentioned but rarely seen on screen.
   There's a damn fine reason for that. Mr. Beckwith is an ass. The kind I will never be able to keep my mouth shut around when I'm old and cranky. He gets it into his head that he knows Eric's father from somewhere and will not shut up about it. I fully expect Mr. H to bitchslap him while shouting, "YOU DON"T KNOW ME, OKAY?"
  But he doesn't. Blergh. Jess is watching Eric and her twin like a hawk because she's fairly certain, given the level of moodiness and time it took Liz to get ready for the dinner, Liz has a thing for Eric and that he, DK's insanity aside, likes Liz too. Only there really isn't much to see.

  For two people who aren't dating, Liz and Eric have an awful lot of breakup moments. Liz gets pissed when she thinks Eric wrote a "love poem" for DK, but in reality it was for Liz but Eric didn't want to blow their cover. Then, despite Jessica's attempt to keep in the dark, Eric finds out about Jeffrey and is pissed.
  Now Jess is worried because if Eric really is Chris Wyeth, Amy and company have just handed him perfect motive for offing Saint Liz. Y'know, that whole she has a steady boyfriend that she never bothered to mention thing kind of stings.
  Jess tries desperately to get a hold of Liz but things have gone horribly wrong all weekend. Liz has gone to Enid's for the weekend and the note she leaves is destroyed by Enid's cat [what cat?], when Jess impersonated Liz prior to the Jeffrey revelation, the notebook she scammed off Eric was stolen by some creep in a Mercedes, and now Liz is off on assignment with Eric. To complicate matters, DK is a little more interested in her thing for the new intern than she is in keeping Saint Liz in possession of her life. Priorities, Jess!
  Anyway, Liz and Eric run into each other at the end of the day Monday evening and Eric is pissed. He drags Liz off somewhere, Jess freaks out and attempts to follow, only to be thwarted by Mr. Beckwith who is screaming about a little boy choking in Eric's little coffee shop. [Dude, so fired!] Jess panics and calls 9-1-1 after being all but slapped into action. Eric's father appears and heads off to help, which is odd because isn't he a "business" man? We need a doctor, man!
  Yeah, all those who realize that he's Dr. Ryan in disguise, give yourselves a couple of cookies. Eric tries to stop his father from interfering but his father goes in to do my very first tracheotomy.

  And this is the part that drove me bonkers even way back when.
  Beckwith finally puts all the pieces together and shouts, for all the fucking world to hear, that this is Dr. Ryan!
  What part of hit on his life do you not understand? No cookies for you, Beckwith! NO COOKIES!

   Eric and his father head home to pack and run away before they can be killed. Liz follows to say goodbye and to gush all over Eric who is really Michael. Only as Mike and Doc are packing, the bad guys find them and Liz must save the day.
  How? By realizing Doc never disconnected the previous owner's security, so she slams a button [red?] and informs Eric that the house is part of the Good Neighbors network and that right now at least six of their neighbors are rallying the troops. They'll call and if Doc doesn't give the password, they'll storm the fortress of solitude!
  And damn if that isn't what happens, although, um, would Doc even KNOW the password? I guess he could just say, "dude, what? No, we're cool" if it had been an accident... Still, as a kid I really liked this part, so I'll let it slide. After the cops appear and the day is saved, Liz and Mike say goodbye, their hearts breaking and whatnot, and by this point not even the ghost of my younger self can keep me motivated. Liz runs home, cries to herself and finally reads Eric's notebook which he's given her, seeing as all the poems contained within are written about her. The last breaks her heart and the music swells. End scene.
  Really, the book should have ended there, but we go back for more of DK so that she can inform us that gosh, Sweet Valley is ever so boring and Jess can think that it's really turning out to be awfully exciting.

  I died, really.


*In my memory, Liz and Jeffrey last for like, two seconds, so it's not so much that she didn't have ample opportunity to do what she does best on vacations, it's that she simply didn't have time. Re-reading the Valley has proven me wrong. Jeffrey lasted for a decent chunk of time, all things considered, and mostly Liz is as faithful as she is capable of being, given that she's a fictional sixteen year old girl who has wacky adventures and sometimes we need the nerdier twin to get some action.

** But later will totally be revealed in a diary entry that she did, in fact, skank it up behind Elizabeth's back. Oh, wait, that's reserved for Jeffrey and Todd. Never mind.




Trivia:

  • Liz and Jess are described, repeatedly, as identical opposites this go round. Later Liz will complain that she'll never be able to fully live up to the ideal everyone has created for her. She says to the guy she's cheating on her boyfriend with.

  • Lila's in Carmel.

  • The DeLucca case refers to Frank DeLucca who is on trial for murder and racketeering, though it's widely believed he's responsible for "countless crimes of murder, espionage, illegal drug and gambling activities." He was busted at the murder scene of Ray Underwood, but since then no one's been able to testify against him.

  • Ray Underwood was one of DeLucca's underlings who decided to do the right thing and ended up dead for his trouble. In his late teens he was diagnosed with early on-set diabetes and was referred to Dr. Ryan, and when Ray realized his days were numbered, he delivered his confession/fears in writing to the doc, just in case.

  • Seth Miller and Dan Weeks are the youngest reporters at the Sweet Valley News [SVN].

  • Dan is sure no one will ever testify against DeLucca. Seth disagrees. Liz agrees with Seth, Darcy Kaymen, the new intern, agrees with Dan. As does her Daddy.

  • Darcy Kaymen has silky red hair, brown eyes, freckles, is on the curvy side, looks like she's seventeen, will be enrolled in Whitehead Academy in the fall, got her internship because her father knows the man who runs SVN, and would rather have worked at the mall, or a cute boutique. If you did a shot for every time she said "my father" you'd die of liver failure within a day.

  • Darcy calls Liz "Crusader" and it is not a term of endearment.

  • Jessica's newest Hollywood crush is Cliff Benjamin, a young actor who's been in a slew of teenage movies. Darcy allegedly went the same school as he did back in Toledo.

  • Darcy has a little trouble with the truth and skews reality to the point where you want to smack her.

  • Jeffrey's back in three weeks, and the book itself covers about two, so he's expected back at the end of July/early August.

  • Liz and Jeffrey agreed to talk twice a week, not including letters.

  • Jeffrey's been teaching guys how to canoe. Jess mocks this.

  • William Ryan is Ray Underwood's Manhattan doctor [specializing in internal medicine] of six years who steps up with the evidence Ray left with him after Ray became convinced he wasn't long for this world.

  • Ray accused DeLucca and two other, unnamed, men of being the heads of an international drug ring.

  • Other minions at SVN: typesetter Paul is a lanky dude and Stan Fisher is the head of the editorial section.

  • The good people of the SVN call the corner diner across from the Western Building the Press Club.

  • While at the Press Club, Darcy outed Liz as a gossip columnist at The Oracle while claiming she had been an editor at her paper. Liz desperately wants to cry bullshit, but is too embarrassed about her gig as author of Eyes & Ears.

  • Eric Hankman works at the coffee shop on the first floor of the Western Building. He's tall [six feet tall, if Liz can be trusted] with thick, dark hair, hazel eyes, strong jaw, dimple in right cheek, and unusually handsome. Not that Liz was, uh, looking or anything. According to Darcy: he's a Taurus, born in May, he's seventeen, "stubborn, forthright, down-to-earth" and "very loyal once he's made his mind up about someone." He likes bike riding, music, he plays guitar and has written lyrics, long walks... and oh yeah, he writes poems that are awfully sad. And he drives a wreck of an old Dodge.

  • Liz tells Eric she hasn't written much poetry, but I swear in SY, Liz tells Jeffrey she no longer writes poems, which means during the Jeffrey administration she would have been writing poetry. I am so confused!

  • Eric claims to be from Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Darcy is from Toledo, but lucky for snoopy Darcy, her friend Sue lives in Shaker Heights.

  • Liz and Eric bond over typewriter ribbons and how expensive they are.

  • Liz claims she's going to the beach with Enid, but in reality she's taking Eric out for his first taste of the Sweet Valley tour.

  • Eric and Liz go see the new James Bond movie playing. Because that's what all of Elizabeth's not!boyfriends do.

  • When Liz and Eric swap writing, Liz has written "Futures" a short story about a young girl who's a companion [but not in the Whedon sense] to two elderly sisters. The girl learns a powerful lesson in courage and I gather one of the sisters risks her life for the other. I'm thinking Liz wrote the advanced Golden Girls era story of her and Jess and then inserted a younger Liz into the mix. But that's merely speculation, of course.

  • Eric has Liz read two short poems, "Harvest" and "Leaving You", both of which are pretty bleak. When Liz compliments him, Eric knows he's good, but isn't totally obnoxious about it. Just mildly.

  • Andy Sullivan is the newest intern, from Stanford with light brown, curly hair, sparkling gray-blue eyes, tall, and of course, handsome. DK peeks at his resume and finds out that he's a straight A student, on the varsity basketball team, junior editor of The Stanford Daily, and the recipients of all sorts of awards and honors for sports, writing, and scholastics.

  • Jess is seen getting ready to go jogging. I cry foul. Again.

  • Eric introduces Liz to Petrarch, 14th century Italian poet, who fell for a mysterious Laura and wrote her 366 poems, like "forever and a day." The implication is that there's a happily ever after in there, but there isn't.

  • Darcy swipes a poem from Eric's book, and since he can't admit he's with Liz [or wants to be] he lies and agrees when DK suggests it's meant for her instead. Liz is furious any time she thinks about the poem "To Her" although we never see it.

  • Rich Hankman does business with Ned. He's an attractive man in his early fifties, "a little on the portly side", dark hair, glasses, and a salt and pepper beard.

  • Dan and Amy Beckwith live next door to the Wakefields. Dan is an insurance agent at the Western Building and once he gets an idea in his head, he refuses to let go until he's made a complete ass of himself. They have a son, Jack, who is in San Francisco for the summer.

  • A young man hops out of the passenger side of a black Mercedes, knocks Jessica off her bike, and swipes Eric's book of poetry. He smelled of strong men's cologne and tobacco smoke.

  • Enid's mother has gone to New Mexico for a conference and Liz offers to spend the weekend with Enid to keep her company.

  • The Rollins do not have an answering machine, but they seem to have acquired a cat named Muffy who is "famous" for shredding things. Um, sure, okay.

  • Liz and Eric were supposed to meet in front of the Beach Disco at 8pm, but by ten to nine, Liz realizes she's been stood up.

  • Some guy pretending to be FBI and calls himself Riordon is looking for Eric. He drives a deep blue sedan.

  • Enid suggests going to her aunt's cabin in the woods when she sees how stressed Liz is. Dude, the E/E slash writes itself! Anyway, would that be her aunt's cabin in Tahoe or another aunt?

  • Seth and Liz go to Los Palmos to cover a possible teacher strike later in the summer.

  • When Doc Ryan performs his emergency tracheotomy on little Timmy, it's my first trach experience. Yours?

  • Eric's real name is Michael Ryan.

  • The Hankman's/Ryan's home is a part of the Good Neighbors system, wherein a [giant?] red button on the wall behind the coffee table, when pressed, sounds an alarm in six neighbors' homes as well as the police station. One neighbor will call and if not given the password, will run right over.

  • Frank Richman, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Applebaum [next door neighbor who called] as well as nine other neighbors rush over and manage to overtake two gunmen and a third man... you'd assume they were all pretty good with the killing of people but they couldn't take down that many people even though they had guns? Geez. All this happened Monday evening.

  • Michael's final poem to Liz is entitled "Goodbye Poem".

  • The book has a problem with random "s appearing.




Quotable Sweet Valley:

   Her eyes shone. "I want to get to know as many cute guys as I can. And I want you to help me!" - Seriously, someone illustrate this for me because you know the SVH graphic novel should exist and this scene should be in it. Oh, Darcy... p81

  "Darcy's never been a Dodgers game. Can you believe that?"
  "Well, it makes sense- if she's just moved here," Eric said. - Damn you and your earth logic, Eric! p88

  After all, these things happened. Painful as it was, Eric would have to get over her-somehow. p105
  "Write me another one and bring it up to the office! Oh, and can I have a cup of coffee please?" Darcy demands a love poem with a side of coffee. Classic! p 105

   Darcy looked scornful. "Jess, don't overreact. He's not going to go running around with a machete or anything." p118

  Elizabeth had never really been in this kind of situation before. - This kind of situation, by the way, is thinking a guy was interested in HER when in reality he wanted someone else. Which is untrue. Jess/Todd, book one. That aside, it's also a little bit bitchy to say Liz had never wanted someone who didn't want her back. :P p133

   Muffy was the Rollinses playful cat, famous for exactly this kind of domestic damage. - Uh, since when? p161

  "I'll keep the notebook. But you have to let me give you something in exchange."
  "Oh, Liz," Michael said, folding her in his arms for a last embrace. "You've given me the most wonderful gift in the world. You've made me believe in people again." -Liz/Michael make me wonder what, exactly, Liz would give Mike. A roll in the hay? Her watch? Some trash leftover in the Fiat? What? p 206


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   You may love On the Run. I... just didn't. I don't remember having a raging hatred for anything but Beckwith, so maybe it's just a case of the winter blues clouding my thoughts, but this isn't my favorite of the Thrillers by any stretch of the old imagination. I find parts of it amusing and I think I like the book for them alone. Like DK messing with Liz because Liz bugs her and it kills time at a job she [DK] hates. Also, because it's easy. I like that by this point you totally buy that Eric could be a murderer on the run, and it makes more sense for that to happen than for him to be in the witness protection program. I like that Enid appears [shut up!] and I'm a bit of a softy, so the idea of a book of poems dedicated to me would be awesome in theory, so younger me gets to vote yay for that. But...
  Eric doesn't really appeal, even re-reading it and knowing why he's so angsty. DK's not as fun as her motives [no matter how they try and paint them in a different light] and Lila should never have gone to Carmel. It's boring without her.
   Oh, I do have to wonder why does Jess let DK get away with being such a bitch to Liz? Usually Jess has a strict "only I make Liz cry" policy, but DK seems to have Jess wrapped around her finger. How the hell did that happen? Make it stop!

  Basically the tone of the book is a little off, and a big part of that is the way Jess acts. And, really, you could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse. [End of the series, I'm totally eyeballing you here!]

   OtR also makes me wonder about Steven. When the twins are busy acting crazy at various times throughout the series, he usually jumps in and attempts to smooth things over. Sure, he's a tool an awful lot of the time, but he was kind of forced to be mediator and the kid who probably got the least amount of attention in that house, even after he decided to take after his father in terms of employment as well as looks. If you jump way, way forward to the Margo months, he has to put on a happy face so that the whole holiday isn't a complete wash, and he's frequently seen doing this sort of thing. This ponderment was brought about after Beckwith repeatedly harassed the guest of honor and the tension needed breaking.

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Couldn't tell you if this is just a wonk-tastic lighting issue, whether there were two sets of the thrillers and they decided to show front and back or what, but I thought I'd share the fact that you could have your very own set of Thrillers which had the OtR cover used for the case.
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the_oracle: (gasp!)
On The Run
June 1988

Photobucket

A shadowy past...


  After a chilling encounter with murder, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now ready for a calm summer in Sweet Valley-until Eric Hankman appears.

  Like Elizabeth, Eric is a quiet, sensitive writer, and the two of them immediately become friends.

  But Jessica's not convinced that Eric is as perfect as he seems. Her suspicions are aroused when her new friend, Darcy Kaymen, thinks she recognizes Eric as a boy from her hometown who has a mysterious past. Jessica knows Elizabeth won't believe a word of Darcy's story without evidence, but by the time she has all the proof she needs, it may be too late to save her sister.

  Read ON THE RUN, the second Sweet Valley High Super Thriller!



   What's this? An update? What strange, bizarro universe have we entered? How do you escape? When will the madness end?!

   Yeah, I know. Most people apologize when they disappear. Me? I like to go melodramatically weird. It's why you love me. Well, that and you're bored and looking for something vaguely entertaining, and dude, I do vaguely entertaining like it's my job or something. So, win/win for both of us.

   That said, let's begin. I can now see why I dragged my feet when it came to this particular Thriller. See, I love me some Thriller action. Bring on the Sweet Valley News and its chatter about typewriters and dreamy boy reporters and the interns who get coffee for them! Bring. It. ON! What I don't love, however, is the typical Liz cheats on Todd/Jeffrey formula. Because seriously? It's the same guy, over and over and over. And even though this is one of the first couple of times we've tiptoed down this particular path, and even though I'd pretty much forgotten Liz actually wanted to cheat on Jeffrey* I'm still bored to tears.

  But how can this be, given the material I was given to work with? We've got mob bosses, drug czars, death threats, mistaken identity, murders, new people in from Ohio [what, there was a run on 'em?], nosy neighbors, and oh yeah, the Witness Protection program!
   That's right. I totally ruined the book for you, huh? But yeah, by now you should know better than to read one of these if you haven't actually read the book. Anyway!


  The boredom stems from Liz and her archetype for the cheating on her boyfriend. Should the Valley ever spring to life once more, or possibly you feel like creating your own slice of California heaven and you need the perfect twin to cheat on her boyfriend, you need the following ingredients. It's okay, I've triple-checked this recipe for accuracy and dude, it rarely fails:


  Elizabeth's So Good You'll Cheat On Your Soulmate Boyfriend Man-Candy Recipe:

  • Tall [though truthfully he just needs to be taller than 5'6" and your average guy is. And if he isn't, then you're either dealing with Tom Cruise and should run away immediately, or you're dealing with one of my exes and you should kick them in their freakin' kneecaps and save yourself the trouble]

  • dark [we'll accept anything from medium brown hair right on through to black hair, though usually we like the darker hair]

  • pale [if we're outside California, try and make him preternaturally pale, please]

  • good looking, but not prettier than either Todd or Jeffrey

  • moody [We accept no substitutions on this one!]

  • a writer [any sort will do]

  • mysterious past with bonus points being given if he's got parental issues or you seriously consider him a potential murderer in that "it's always the quiet ones" sort of way.



   Your eyes may vary, but it's generally a good rule of thumb to go with a lovely contrast to that fabulous hair and try blue, green, or a lovely gray. Blue is the most common, but think of all the blues you could use! Green and gray come in one shade apiece, so really, with blue you get your money's worth. Mix it all together and you've got a guy Liz will fall for given enough time and Jess will probably agree is mildly less repulsive than Bob down in accounting, but not hot enough to fight her twin for**. Because that, you see, would just complicate the plot and we cannot have that.

  Normally I'd have given you an extremely long winded recap of the events and I'm sure you're waiting for that. I'm delaying the pain because, well, nothing freakin' happens.

  It's July. Liz and Jess are working at the Sweet Valley News, remember? Jess is bitching about the gig and due to her run in with a murderer, she's not really into the water cooler gossip going around about the DeLucca trial. Frank DeLucca's on trial for a variety of things, the most recent being murder, and most people seem to think he's going to get away with it because all the witnesses have either had lapses in their memory or refuse to testify. Cuz that ain't shady at all, DeLucca. Anyway, fascinating as this is, it's happening in New York.
   Strike One. I find it really hard to get behind a twisty plot where the action takes place off screen in New York when I'm centered in SV, California. Sorry. It's not even that I don't fully buy that people across the country would give a damn about such a thing as it's entirely possible the case is just that big. It's just that I don't care.

  So, I'm with Jessica on this. That whole 'murderer nearly killed me and the twin' thing would make it so that I wouldn't want to focus on a guy who probably killed, or had other people kill, a whole bunch of people. I'd want some rainbows, unicorns, and cute guys not made out of sensible twin's recipe.
   Since she works at a newspaper though, that ain't gonna happen. Seth and Dan get into a pissing contest over their beliefs as to whether anyone will come forward and nail DeLucca's ass to the wall or not. Dan says no one's that brave/stupid, and Seth disagrees. We all know that Liz has taken Seth's side even before she ever so earnestly shares her opinion with us.
  For whatever reason, we're introduced to Darcy K, who is the third intern and a recent transplant from Ohio. DK and Jess hit it off for reasons I never really do understand because DK is a two-faced bitch who isn't even all that subtle or smart in her bitchitude. I expect better from my Valley vixens, okay? Lila would never let this girl in, and you know how she feels about Liz during the Jeffrey years...
  Anyway, DK rarely has an opinion of her own and all the thoughts she does share with the class come filtered through her father. It's as annoying as you'd think it would be. Liz and DK clash immediately and the guys are oblivious because, well, they're guys.
   Back to the DeLucca case. Dr. Ryan has appeared with evidence, DeLucca is sent packing and the peasants rejoice. I... snore softly in the corner.

  During a fit of DK's bitchery, DK tells Liz to get Dan a coffee with cream and sugar, only Dan's allergic to cream [wha?] and Liz has to make two coffee runs. She meets Eric, new guy from Ohio [see?] and they hit it off because he was made for her. He actually sounds a bit creepy considering how he runs hot and cold so easily, but hey, that's Elizabeth's fling-type, so, whatever. Naturally DK falls for Eric much like Jess would [as in not really, but the idea that he's not in love with her is one too vexing to dwell on] and friction ensues when DK realizes Eric isn't all that interested. Except...
   I'm getting ahead of myself. Eric and Liz hit it off. Since he's new and not a psychotic bitch [or is he?], Liz offers him a tour of the city. He takes her up on it and you know they'll fall for each other and they do, but Liz doesn't want Jeffrey to find out or for Eric to find out about Jeffrey although, at this point, she and Eric haven't even kissed. She just wants them to. So they agree to keep things quiet.
  Thing is, anytime Liz asks about Eric's past, he clams up and gets this look in his eyes that freaks her out a little. Still, he's just her type...
   Doesn't take long for DK to realize Eric's not totally interested, but before she can get good and mad, she finds out that another intern, this one male, is going to appear. Still, DK is nosy, so she calls her friend back in Ohio to see if she knew Eric before he moved. No such luck, but hey, a girl was murdered right before Eric showed up in Sweet Valley. Based on this and the vague notion that a guy fitting the same description is the suspected killer, DK and Jess decide Eric is obviously Christopher Wyeth, the murderer.
  And you know, given how these things work out, the odds were actually in their favor.

  With this knowledge, DK and Jess don't go to the cops or their parents. Instead they decide to keep an eye on Eric to see if he'll crack. Right, sure, sounds good. *draws air circles near temples* Because the Valley is the size of a postage stamp, Mr. Wakefield knows Eric's father [he's a client] and invites him over for dinner. He also invites the next door neighbors, the Beckwiths. Interesting, as the Beckwiths are frequently mentioned but rarely seen on screen.
   There's a damn fine reason for that. Mr. Beckwith is an ass. The kind I will never be able to keep my mouth shut around when I'm old and cranky. He gets it into his head that he knows Eric's father from somewhere and will not shut up about it. I fully expect Mr. H to bitchslap him while shouting, "YOU DON"T KNOW ME, OKAY?"
  But he doesn't. Blergh. Jess is watching Eric and her twin like a hawk because she's fairly certain, given the level of moodiness and time it took Liz to get ready for the dinner, Liz has a thing for Eric and that he, DK's insanity aside, likes Liz too. Only there really isn't much to see.

  For two people who aren't dating, Liz and Eric have an awful lot of breakup moments. Liz gets pissed when she thinks Eric wrote a "love poem" for DK, but in reality it was for Liz but Eric didn't want to blow their cover. Then, despite Jessica's attempt to keep in the dark, Eric finds out about Jeffrey and is pissed.
  Now Jess is worried because if Eric really is Chris Wyeth, Amy and company have just handed him perfect motive for offing Saint Liz. Y'know, that whole she has a steady boyfriend that she never bothered to mention thing kind of stings.
  Jess tries desperately to get a hold of Liz but things have gone horribly wrong all weekend. Liz has gone to Enid's for the weekend and the note she leaves is destroyed by Enid's cat [what cat?], when Jess impersonated Liz prior to the Jeffrey revelation, the notebook she scammed off Eric was stolen by some creep in a Mercedes, and now Liz is off on assignment with Eric. To complicate matters, DK is a little more interested in her thing for the new intern than she is in keeping Saint Liz in possession of her life. Priorities, Jess!
  Anyway, Liz and Eric run into each other at the end of the day Monday evening and Eric is pissed. He drags Liz off somewhere, Jess freaks out and attempts to follow, only to be thwarted by Mr. Beckwith who is screaming about a little boy choking in Eric's little coffee shop. [Dude, so fired!] Jess panics and calls 9-1-1 after being all but slapped into action. Eric's father appears and heads off to help, which is odd because isn't he a "business" man? We need a doctor, man!
  Yeah, all those who realize that he's Dr. Ryan in disguise, give yourselves a couple of cookies. Eric tries to stop his father from interfering but his father goes in to do my very first tracheotomy.

  And this is the part that drove me bonkers even way back when.
  Beckwith finally puts all the pieces together and shouts, for all the fucking world to hear, that this is Dr. Ryan!
  What part of hit on his life do you not understand? No cookies for you, Beckwith! NO COOKIES!

   Eric and his father head home to pack and run away before they can be killed. Liz follows to say goodbye and to gush all over Eric who is really Michael. Only as Mike and Doc are packing, the bad guys find them and Liz must save the day.
  How? By realizing Doc never disconnected the previous owner's security, so she slams a button [red?] and informs Eric that the house is part of the Good Neighbors network and that right now at least six of their neighbors are rallying the troops. They'll call and if Doc doesn't give the password, they'll storm the fortress of solitude!
  And damn if that isn't what happens, although, um, would Doc even KNOW the password? I guess he could just say, "dude, what? No, we're cool" if it had been an accident... Still, as a kid I really liked this part, so I'll let it slide. After the cops appear and the day is saved, Liz and Mike say goodbye, their hearts breaking and whatnot, and by this point not even the ghost of my younger self can keep me motivated. Liz runs home, cries to herself and finally reads Eric's notebook which he's given her, seeing as all the poems contained within are written about her. The last breaks her heart and the music swells. End scene.
  Really, the book should have ended there, but we go back for more of DK so that she can inform us that gosh, Sweet Valley is ever so boring and Jess can think that it's really turning out to be awfully exciting.

  I died, really.


*In my memory, Liz and Jeffrey last for like, two seconds, so it's not so much that she didn't have ample opportunity to do what she does best on vacations, it's that she simply didn't have time. Re-reading the Valley has proven me wrong. Jeffrey lasted for a decent chunk of time, all things considered, and mostly Liz is as faithful as she is capable of being, given that she's a fictional sixteen year old girl who has wacky adventures and sometimes we need the nerdier twin to get some action.

** But later will totally be revealed in a diary entry that she did, in fact, skank it up behind Elizabeth's back. Oh, wait, that's reserved for Jeffrey and Todd. Never mind.




Trivia:

  • Liz and Jess are described, repeatedly, as identical opposites this go round. Later Liz will complain that she'll never be able to fully live up to the ideal everyone has created for her. She says to the guy she's cheating on her boyfriend with.

  • Lila's in Carmel.

  • The DeLucca case refers to Frank DeLucca who is on trial for murder and racketeering, though it's widely believed he's responsible for "countless crimes of murder, espionage, illegal drug and gambling activities." He was busted at the murder scene of Ray Underwood, but since then no one's been able to testify against him.

  • Ray Underwood was one of DeLucca's underlings who decided to do the right thing and ended up dead for his trouble. In his late teens he was diagnosed with early on-set diabetes and was referred to Dr. Ryan, and when Ray realized his days were numbered, he delivered his confession/fears in writing to the doc, just in case.

  • Seth Miller and Dan Weeks are the youngest reporters at the Sweet Valley News [SVN].

  • Dan is sure no one will ever testify against DeLucca. Seth disagrees. Liz agrees with Seth, Darcy Kaymen, the new intern, agrees with Dan. As does her Daddy.

  • Darcy Kaymen has silky red hair, brown eyes, freckles, is on the curvy side, looks like she's seventeen, will be enrolled in Whitehead Academy in the fall, got her internship because her father knows the man who runs SVN, and would rather have worked at the mall, or a cute boutique. If you did a shot for every time she said "my father" you'd die of liver failure within a day.

  • Darcy calls Liz "Crusader" and it is not a term of endearment.

  • Jessica's newest Hollywood crush is Cliff Benjamin, a young actor who's been in a slew of teenage movies. Darcy allegedly went the same school as he did back in Toledo.

  • Darcy has a little trouble with the truth and skews reality to the point where you want to smack her.

  • Jeffrey's back in three weeks, and the book itself covers about two, so he's expected back at the end of July/early August.

  • Liz and Jeffrey agreed to talk twice a week, not including letters.

  • Jeffrey's been teaching guys how to canoe. Jess mocks this.

  • William Ryan is Ray Underwood's Manhattan doctor [specializing in internal medicine] of six years who steps up with the evidence Ray left with him after Ray became convinced he wasn't long for this world.

  • Ray accused DeLucca and two other, unnamed, men of being the heads of an international drug ring.

  • Other minions at SVN: typesetter Paul is a lanky dude and Stan Fisher is the head of the editorial section.

  • The good people of the SVN call the corner diner across from the Western Building the Press Club.

  • While at the Press Club, Darcy outed Liz as a gossip columnist at The Oracle while claiming she had been an editor at her paper. Liz desperately wants to cry bullshit, but is too embarrassed about her gig as author of Eyes & Ears.

  • Eric Hankman works at the coffee shop on the first floor of the Western Building. He's tall [six feet tall, if Liz can be trusted] with thick, dark hair, hazel eyes, strong jaw, dimple in right cheek, and unusually handsome. Not that Liz was, uh, looking or anything. According to Darcy: he's a Taurus, born in May, he's seventeen, "stubborn, forthright, down-to-earth" and "very loyal once he's made his mind up about someone." He likes bike riding, music, he plays guitar and has written lyrics, long walks... and oh yeah, he writes poems that are awfully sad. And he drives a wreck of an old Dodge.

  • Liz tells Eric she hasn't written much poetry, but I swear in SY, Liz tells Jeffrey she no longer writes poems, which means during the Jeffrey administration she would have been writing poetry. I am so confused!

  • Eric claims to be from Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Darcy is from Toledo, but lucky for snoopy Darcy, her friend Sue lives in Shaker Heights.

  • Liz and Eric bond over typewriter ribbons and how expensive they are.

  • Liz claims she's going to the beach with Enid, but in reality she's taking Eric out for his first taste of the Sweet Valley tour.

  • Eric and Liz go see the new James Bond movie playing. Because that's what all of Elizabeth's not!boyfriends do.

  • When Liz and Eric swap writing, Liz has written "Futures" a short story about a young girl who's a companion [but not in the Whedon sense] to two elderly sisters. The girl learns a powerful lesson in courage and I gather one of the sisters risks her life for the other. I'm thinking Liz wrote the advanced Golden Girls era story of her and Jess and then inserted a younger Liz into the mix. But that's merely speculation, of course.

  • Eric has Liz read two short poems, "Harvest" and "Leaving You", both of which are pretty bleak. When Liz compliments him, Eric knows he's good, but isn't totally obnoxious about it. Just mildly.

  • Andy Sullivan is the newest intern, from Stanford with light brown, curly hair, sparkling gray-blue eyes, tall, and of course, handsome. DK peeks at his resume and finds out that he's a straight A student, on the varsity basketball team, junior editor of The Stanford Daily, and the recipients of all sorts of awards and honors for sports, writing, and scholastics.

  • Jess is seen getting ready to go jogging. I cry foul. Again.

  • Eric introduces Liz to Petrarch, 14th century Italian poet, who fell for a mysterious Laura and wrote her 366 poems, like "forever and a day." The implication is that there's a happily ever after in there, but there isn't.

  • Darcy swipes a poem from Eric's book, and since he can't admit he's with Liz [or wants to be] he lies and agrees when DK suggests it's meant for her instead. Liz is furious any time she thinks about the poem "To Her" although we never see it.

  • Rich Hankman does business with Ned. He's an attractive man in his early fifties, "a little on the portly side", dark hair, glasses, and a salt and pepper beard.

  • Dan and Amy Beckwith live next door to the Wakefields. Dan is an insurance agent at the Western Building and once he gets an idea in his head, he refuses to let go until he's made a complete ass of himself. They have a son, Jack, who is in San Francisco for the summer.

  • A young man hops out of the passenger side of a black Mercedes, knocks Jessica off her bike, and swipes Eric's book of poetry. He smelled of strong men's cologne and tobacco smoke.

  • Enid's mother has gone to New Mexico for a conference and Liz offers to spend the weekend with Enid to keep her company.

  • The Rollins do not have an answering machine, but they seem to have acquired a cat named Muffy who is "famous" for shredding things. Um, sure, okay.

  • Liz and Eric were supposed to meet in front of the Beach Disco at 8pm, but by ten to nine, Liz realizes she's been stood up.

  • Some guy pretending to be FBI and calls himself Riordon is looking for Eric. He drives a deep blue sedan.

  • Enid suggests going to her aunt's cabin in the woods when she sees how stressed Liz is. Dude, the E/E slash writes itself! Anyway, would that be her aunt's cabin in Tahoe or another aunt?

  • Seth and Liz go to Los Palmos to cover a possible teacher strike later in the summer.

  • When Doc Ryan performs his emergency tracheotomy on little Timmy, it's my first trach experience. Yours?

  • Eric's real name is Michael Ryan.

  • The Hankman's/Ryan's home is a part of the Good Neighbors system, wherein a [giant?] red button on the wall behind the coffee table, when pressed, sounds an alarm in six neighbors' homes as well as the police station. One neighbor will call and if not given the password, will run right over.

  • Frank Richman, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Applebaum [next door neighbor who called] as well as nine other neighbors rush over and manage to overtake two gunmen and a third man... you'd assume they were all pretty good with the killing of people but they couldn't take down that many people even though they had guns? Geez. All this happened Monday evening.

  • Michael's final poem to Liz is entitled "Goodbye Poem".

  • The book has a problem with random "s appearing.




Quotable Sweet Valley:

   Her eyes shone. "I want to get to know as many cute guys as I can. And I want you to help me!" - Seriously, someone illustrate this for me because you know the SVH graphic novel should exist and this scene should be in it. Oh, Darcy... p81

  "Darcy's never been a Dodgers game. Can you believe that?"
  "Well, it makes sense- if she's just moved here," Eric said. - Damn you and your earth logic, Eric! p88

  After all, these things happened. Painful as it was, Eric would have to get over her-somehow. p105
  "Write me another one and bring it up to the office! Oh, and can I have a cup of coffee please?" Darcy demands a love poem with a side of coffee. Classic! p 105

   Darcy looked scornful. "Jess, don't overreact. He's not going to go running around with a machete or anything." p118

  Elizabeth had never really been in this kind of situation before. - This kind of situation, by the way, is thinking a guy was interested in HER when in reality he wanted someone else. Which is untrue. Jess/Todd, book one. That aside, it's also a little bit bitchy to say Liz had never wanted someone who didn't want her back. :P p133

   Muffy was the Rollinses playful cat, famous for exactly this kind of domestic damage. - Uh, since when? p161

  "I'll keep the notebook. But you have to let me give you something in exchange."
  "Oh, Liz," Michael said, folding her in his arms for a last embrace. "You've given me the most wonderful gift in the world. You've made me believe in people again." -Liz/Michael make me wonder what, exactly, Liz would give Mike. A roll in the hay? Her watch? Some trash leftover in the Fiat? What? p 206


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   You may love On the Run. I... just didn't. I don't remember having a raging hatred for anything but Beckwith, so maybe it's just a case of the winter blues clouding my thoughts, but this isn't my favorite of the Thrillers by any stretch of the old imagination. I find parts of it amusing and I think I like the book for them alone. Like DK messing with Liz because Liz bugs her and it kills time at a job she [DK] hates. Also, because it's easy. I like that by this point you totally buy that Eric could be a murderer on the run, and it makes more sense for that to happen than for him to be in the witness protection program. I like that Enid appears [shut up!] and I'm a bit of a softy, so the idea of a book of poems dedicated to me would be awesome in theory, so younger me gets to vote yay for that. But...
  Eric doesn't really appeal, even re-reading it and knowing why he's so angsty. DK's not as fun as her motives [no matter how they try and paint them in a different light] and Lila should never have gone to Carmel. It's boring without her.
   Oh, I do have to wonder why does Jess let DK get away with being such a bitch to Liz? Usually Jess has a strict "only I make Liz cry" policy, but DK seems to have Jess wrapped around her finger. How the hell did that happen? Make it stop!

  Basically the tone of the book is a little off, and a big part of that is the way Jess acts. And, really, you could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse. [End of the series, I'm totally eyeballing you here!]

   OtR also makes me wonder about Steven. When the twins are busy acting crazy at various times throughout the series, he usually jumps in and attempts to smooth things over. Sure, he's a tool an awful lot of the time, but he was kind of forced to be mediator and the kid who probably got the least amount of attention in that house, even after he decided to take after his father in terms of employment as well as looks. If you jump way, way forward to the Margo months, he has to put on a happy face so that the whole holiday isn't a complete wash, and he's frequently seen doing this sort of thing. This ponderment was brought about after Beckwith repeatedly harassed the guest of honor and the tension needed breaking.

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Couldn't tell you if this is just a wonk-tastic lighting issue, whether there were two sets of the thrillers and they decided to show front and back or what, but I thought I'd share the fact that you could have your very own set of Thrillers which had the OtR cover used for the case.
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