Fresh from a three-year tour on Disney’s The Suite Life With Zack and Cody, twins Zack and Cody Martin (Zack’s the zany, athletic one; Cody’s the thoughtful, academic one) strap on their life vests for another Disney sitcom—this one set aboard the S.S. Tipton, a luxury cruise liner that offers the boys a high school, exotic ports of call and a cast of wacky shipmates. Oh, and shuffleboard.
London Tipton has always been a bit spacey, and no one’s surprised she’ll be taking a trip to outer space aboard her wealthy daddy’s newest satellite. But when she mentions to Cody and Woody that she can bring a guest, it sparks a no-holds-barred competition to see who will accompany the moneyed missy. Zack, meanwhile, moonlights as the ship’s senior activities director—that is, he plans activities for seniors—and must deal with an ultra-cranky elderly passenger who’s still mourning his lost youth. When Zack encourages him to play (you guessed it!) shuffleboard, the man waves the lad off, saying, "I’d rather pass another kidney stone."
For years, the Disney Channel’s been cranking out one clean, successful sitcom after another, creating a massive library of family-friendly (if not terribly original) shows. It’s frankly become the most kid-friendly spot on the tube these days—so it was a little jarring to see this Suite episode hit some rough waters:
We’re not talking about serious, Titanic-sized trouble, here. Compared to even many shows geared for tweens, this is still pretty tame. But there are issues. Woody and Cody, in their push to claim a spot on London’s satellite, sabotage each other with Machiavellian glee. Cody feeds Woody several cheese- and sardine-based dishes—right before London’s "motion sickness" competition, for instance. Woody, strapped to a spinning gyroscope-like contraption, loses more than the contest.
"He’s like a sprinkler!" Cody hollers, blocking Woody’s unseen vomit with an umbrella.
Not to be outdone, Zack and the shuffleboard shunner go on a prankish rampage, tricking a pack of senior citizens into blackening their eyes with sabotaged binoculars and spreading whipped cream all over their faces. Oh, and there’s talk of the phone prank "Seymour Butz."
Old-age issues are frequently targeted for gags, and the jokes may strike some as both disrespectful and a little off-color.
In fact, it felt a little like the spirit of Bart Simpson had stowed away on the S.S. Tipton—kinder and gentler than the Fox original, perhaps, but still a not-so-welcome guest aboard Disney’s normally squeaky-clean fleet.