Marching Band State Regional Championships are coming up, and Band Director James Markle is putting Big Pete and Ellen's friendship to the test. Desperate to prevent reliving his greatest failure, Markle is putting the Marching Squids through hell to prepare them, turning what was once a fun place for friends to make music together (not like that
) into a thoroughly painful experience. Ellen has been given the honor of being the dot on the "I" in "SQUIDS", putting her on the side of Markle's obnoxious
nephew James Markle Jr. when the band divides between those who are in it for the fun and those who are in it for the glory.
Meanwhile, Little Pete and his classmates are being endlessly towed around town by Bus Driver Stu Benedict, who is giving the kids a never-ending tour of he and Bus Driver Sally Knorp's fondest moments together to deal with their breakup. The kids, however, just want to go home.
"This is "Day of the Dot". And these are its tropes.":
- Chekhov's Gun: The science video at the beginning of the episode and Ellen's fascination with the lesson.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: The band playing "Love Roller Coaster" by the Ohio Players as part of Operation: 'Boogie Oogie Oogie'.
- Description Cut: Stu is mourning the end of his relationship with Sally...
Big Pete narrating: To try and help, Pete offered some friendly advice.
Little Pete: Deal with it, dipwad!
- E = MC Hammer: "E=mc^2" shows up during a science video atomic fusion in the sun.
- Epic Hail: "Love Roller Coaster" attracts Artie like "a giant funk magnet."
- Establishing Character Moment: Bus Driver Stu's first appearance is in this episode, immediately setting up his love-lorn nutcase persona by having him turn a ten-minute ride home into an hours-long tour of landmarks from his and Sally's life together.
- And even though Ellen's appeared in all the specials and almost all the shorts, this one does the best job establishing her character, as it's the first one where she has a Fleeting Passionate Hobby.
- I Uh You Too: Pete has trouble articulating what he means to say, but Ellen understands and plants the Big Damn Kiss. None of this will matter for the rest of the series.
- Large Ham: Band Director Markle.
Band Director Markle: Destiny knows where we live!
- Love Makes You Crazy: Bus Driver Stu. Moreso in future episodes, if you can believe it.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Because the DVD version of this episode has an inexplicable semi-transparent red line about a quarter-way down the screen in some scenes.
- Madness Mantra
Ellen: I am a dot. I am a dot. I am a dot.
- My Greatest Failure: Markle almost winning the State Marching Band Championship in 1967 and then being disqualified for forgetting to cross the "T" in "Horned Toads". Which was spelled in all-caps.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Big Pete gets this from Ellen, Bill and Teddy and when Operation 'Boogie Oogie Oogie' causes Markle to crank up the training and punish the entire band.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Markle believes that with Ellen as the dot on the I, "nothing can stand in our way."
- Operation Blank: Big Pete's plan to remind Ellen that marching band should be fun, Operation: 'Boogie Oogie Oogie'.
- Proud to Be a Geek: Summed up nicely by Big Pete in the Cold Open.
Big Pete: This is me. And this is my best friend Ellen. And this is the Wellsville Fighting Squids Marching Band. Along with our fellow Squidmates, we're proud to be in the band, even though we don't get too much respect from the rest of the school. The thing is, we just didn't care. I guess we were willing to sacrifice being cool because we love to play music.
- Psychic Link: Ellen and Markle Jr. (Markle's nephew), who are dotting the I and topping the I, respectively, attempt a "mind meld" to "telepathically bridge the gap between the dot and the rest of the I."
- Reset Button: Big Pete and Ellen kiss at the end of the episode. This is mentioned once, a season later, and has no real effect on the two's relationship.
- An admitted Character Development failure by the writers' own admission, who tried to keep episodes self-contained, which then affected the continuity of Pete & Ellen's friendship/relationship on several occasions.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Big Pete and the announcer at the end of the episode, when Big Pete derails the marching band's formation during the championship to get them to reenact a nuclear fusion video Ellen made a romantic simile with towards the beginning of the episode. The announcer not only understands what's going on but gives a spot-on, set-by-step description.
- This Is Not a Drill: Used by Band Director Markle over the intercom to get the band members to the band room.
- Training from Hell: Markle puts the band through military-style training. To prepare for a marching band competition.
- On the other hand, such training is used in some Real Life marching bands, though generally never this far over the top.