Appellate Judge Tom Becker wished upon a star and became a real boy; unfortunately, he was 31 at the time.
One Shooting Star. Three Wishes.
I've always been a fan of crossover television—you know, when characters from one program turn up on another. This is generally done when the characters have some prior relationship, such as Mary Richards showing up at Rhoda's wedding, or the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction all sitting down for a holiday meal.
Wish Gone Amiss gives us what might be called a tangential crossover. Characters from three Disney Channel series—Hannah Montana, Cory in the House, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody—each make a wish on a shooting star, and we get an episode of each program focusing on how those wishes go…well, amiss.
If you were hoping that characters from all three shows appear together, then now is the time for your tears. Wish Gone Amiss is merely an umbrella for separate, though thematically linked, episodes from these series. The only constant is the shot of the sky with what looks like a flashlight being dragged in front of it. All three of these episodes were originally aired on the same night, July 13, 2007.
Now, I suppose we could consider that this would have to be one big mother of a shooting star, if Zack and Cody in Boston, Cory in Washington, D.C., and Hannah Montana in Malibu can all see it, but if you can conceptualize that, then these programs probably aren't for you.
This is 'tween programming, aimed for that all-important (from a consumer standpoint) 10- to 13-year-old demographic, though its reach extends to kids as young as 6 and as old 16. These shows are simple and inoffensive, and if you're someone whose voice has already changed, you can probably rattle off the jokes before the characters do.
Hannah Montana is the most popular of these three shows, thanks to the talented Miley Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray). Cyrus fille has parlayed her Montana persona into a successful career as a pre-teen idol. The premise of her show is that, by day, Cyrus is Miley Stewart, high-school girl, who at night secretly becomes Hannah Montana…pre-teen idol. She creates this secret identity by donning a wig. This might be the first show in history that makes Clark Kent's glasses seem like a Rick Baker makeup effect.
In the episode on this set, "When You Wish You Were the Star," Hannah/Miley is distressed that mundane things like school work are getting in the way of her glamorous life as a pop star. The final straw is when having to finish a science project means turning down a date with actor/singer Jesse McCartney, playing himself. Since McCartney is 20 and Cyrus is 14, the episode could have been called, "When You Wish You Had a Good Lawyer." Anyway, she wishes there was no secret, that Miley never existed and she could just be HM all the time, and before you can say, "Mary, don't you know me?" we're getting a whole It's a Wonderful Life-kinda thing, with everyone leading a miserable existence until Miley/Hannah "unwishes" everything back to normal.
Things run pretty much the same in the other two 'tween-coms. Cory (Kyle Massey) lives in the White House with his father, who's the President's chef. Cory sees the shooting star and wishes he was president, and disaster ensues. Chubby-faced blond twins Zack and Cody (two kids named Sprouse) take a page from the Eloise at the Plaza handbook and live in an upscale hotel with their mother, who is a lounge singer or something. They see the SS, wish to become superheroes, and…you can probably guess the rest.
All these shows have a decidedly '80s-sitcom look and feel to them, like Gimme a Break, The Facts of Life, or Charles in Charge. In fact, the scripts could have been recycled from that era, as Hannah makes a reference to Circus of the Stars, which stopped airing before these actors, characters, and the series' intended audience were born.
The shows are presented in their original full-screen format and look the same as they do when they're broadcast on the Disney Channel. Since there's almost nothing in the way of music or sound effects, the 5.1 Surround track has little to do except make the laugh track sound more robust.
Other than some "Sneak Peeks" (read: Previews for other Disney products), the only extra is a five-minute "Guide to Making Wishes" hosted by Hannah Montana co-star Jason Earles. This featurette is filled with clips from other Disney films and programs, and it's ultimately little more than a marketing tool for those films and products.
But Disney, of course, is all about marketing. Currently, the home-video marketing strategy for Disney Channel sitcoms seems to be releasing them in bits, with either a few episodes of a series or a thematically matched set such as this. Not to second-guess home-video marketing strategizers, but the thinking might be that by the time Disney decides to release the complete series, the current audience will have outgrown these programs, and the next generation will be clamoring to own Zack, Cody, Hannah, Cory, and whoever else, thus making these sampler discs a less-odious double-dip proposition.
Hannah's jailbait flirtation aside, these shows are all innocuous and unremarkable. If someone in your household is a fan, doesn't want to wait until these episodes are repeated, didn't tape them the first time, and won't necessarily be insisting you purchase the inevitable full-season (or full-series) sets, then, why not?
Guilty of a few minor crimes, but nothing to get in an uproar over.
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Scales of Justice
• A Guide to Making Wishes (5:00)
• IMDb for Hannah Montana
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