TV Recap – “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” – Season 3, Episode 1 “Happy Campers”


After an entire year of endlessly personally listening to Seb’s cover of “The Climb” and pondering what nominations the East High Drama department might have received for its production of The beauty and the BeastHSMTMTS is back for Season 3. The season got off to a great start with this week’s episode, taking us deep into summer vacation and the world of Camp Shallow Lake.

Wildcats are spread all over the place this summer, with some not making the trek to camp to experience musical theater in the woods. Can we… blame them? If I get the chance to stay in constant AC and watch the community theater around East High, I’ll take that. Is that my Boy Scout PTSD talking? Most likely, but I don’t want to worry about mosquitoes while playing a Sondheim ballad.

While Seb is working on the farm and Big Red is busy, some of our beloved favorites are taking a road trip to Camp Shallow Lake to start their vacation on a high. EJ is beyond excited to show off his second home to his friends. Gina is more than happy to spend the summer with EJ. Ash is more than happy to take her celebrity Belle into the lead at camp. Kourtney and Carlos are more than happy to… who knows, because the outside world isn’t really their vibe.

Ricky has decided not to attend camp this summer while he tests his new relationship with Lily. I say this on behalf of the entire HSMTMTS viewing community: you better go, Ricky! Luckily, before I can jump onscreen and personally unplug the relationship, Ricky finds the Beast Harness that Lily stole at the end of last season. Naturally, he’s livid and he rushes back to camp to quickly avoid his bad decision-making.

Meanwhile, Nini is about to embark on a SoCal road trip with her mothers to launch her music career. Her manager asked her to write a song a day, but she couldn’t find the inspiration. Add to that her nostalgic depression about missing camp, and Nini’s emotions aren’t paramount to working toward stardom. A quick trip to Miss Jen’s brings her the first piece of advice that disruption isn’t always a bad thing. “Be safe and take risks” sends Nini on the path to her goals and her future.

Camp Shallow Lake is rushing to open camp with the first campfire of the season, complete with a special celebrity guest. Duey Wood, Camp Director (What a name) presents Corbin Bleu to the campers and, of course, the big cats present are in heaven. He announces that the camp will be the first in the country to perform Frozen as a Community production. On top of that, he will film and direct a Disney+ special following the campers bringing the world of Arendelle to the stage. It’s meta.

Thanks to a healthy dose of confusion, Corbin doesn’t direct the production himself, leaving the camp without a director for their performance. Thanks to EJ’s closeness to Duey when the news broke, as well as his knowledge of how the camp works, he is cast in the director position. EJ is livid, but that’s show business. Happy summer vacation!

Additional Credit:

  • “Finally Free” by Ricky is a timeless. I don’t make the rules.
  • Two new characters were introduced in this episode: Maddox, who appears to be the the spirit of Camp Shallow Lake, for better or for worse. We also meet Jet, who would rather be somewhere else and has no discernible personality. I can’t wait to see how it goes…
  • Carlos living in “The Yurt Locker” and trying to connect with the “boys” sends me. Do puns and overly real experiences hit me like a brick wall? This show is perfection.
  • Remember the “celebrate yourself“Music video? Ah, good times.
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