Category: Movies & TV

Fall Preview Flash Back: Step by Step from 1991

Step by Step

Ahhh, Step by Step.  I remember when this debuted as part of ABC’s TGIF block back in 1991.  I spent my Friday night’s with TGIF, and generally watched every show they put on, and this one was no exception.  I was familiar with Patrick Duffy from all the years I spent watching Dallas with my folks, so it seemed familiar somehow.  Another plus was that I was also familiar with Staci Keanan from My Two Dads which had been a favorite of mine.

Now I wouldn’t say that I was “hyped” to see the debut, but I certainly didn’t mind the looks of this new show.  I wasn’t disappointed by any means, as it became another staple of my Friday night viewing habits for most of it’s run.  I didn’t watch it all the way through it’s run, as I turned sixteen in 1994, and at that point spent a fair amount of my Friday nights working, or cruising with my friends instead of being hunkered down in front of the television.

Before that though, my Friday nights consisted of going out to eat with the folks, hitting the local department stores so Mom could do her weekly shopping, and then heading home where the rest of the night was spent in my room snacking and watching the TGIF lineup.  Stuff like this really hits the old nostalgia bone and has me missing a classic Friday night from the early 1990’s.

Andy Mangels’ Hollywood Heroes from May 1993

Andy Mangels’ Hollywood Heroes was a news column that appeared in the pages of Wizard:  The Guide to Comics magazine, and Hero Illustrated in the early 90’s.  I thought it would be fun to look back at the news he was covering for that time period, since we are almost 26 years removed from it, and can analyze it a little bit.  His news is in italics, and my comments follow in bold.


Lois and Clark

“The big news this month is that ABC recently put in an order for a two hour Superman pilot film called Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  Andy speculates that this will be a more relationship based show than previous incarnations due to the title.”

Well, he was right about that.  He seemed a little surprised that Perry White has been cast as a black man.



“In other superhero pilots news, he mentions that The Resurrector has been ordered.  I don’t remember that one.  But he then goes on to mention that Fox has ordered a 2 hour pilot from director Sam Raimi called Mantis, about a chemist who is crippled in the L.A. riots develops an exo-skeleton and a power pack that gives him super-human powers.”

That one I do remember, and it was a pretty swank show, even though it only lasted one season.


“HBO is working on a small-screen werewolf movie to air sometime this year.”

It was untitled at that point.  Does anyone remember what this was and if it ever made it to air?


Swamp Thing

“Swamp Thing on USA Network is winding down it’s run with it’s last 5 new episodes.”  

That was such a good show too.  It’s one that would probably do well with a reboot these days.

Continue reading “Andy Mangels’ Hollywood Heroes from May 1993”

Retro Rerun Review: Kate and Allie

The Show: Kate & Allie 

Ran for:  122 episodes— 6 seasons from 1984 to 1989.

What it’s about: Two lady detectives? I really don’t know. I assume they were detectives. And possibly lovers.

My relationship with it: None, clearly. I’m sure I’ve seen bits and pieces of episodes, but it was when I was young and not the target audience for lesbian detective shows. 

This Episode: Season 4, Episode 6— “Halloween II”

Original Air Date: October 27, 1986

Kate and Allie are walking down the street and there is a very fancy car parked at the curb. They stop and talk about it for a long period of time like normal people do when they see a nice car. They are mad that the car owner— who they assume is a man— spent this much on a car when he could have given the money to charity. This is a weird hill to die on. Anyway, they walk off and the car phone rings, then goes to the answering machine and it is a woman on the message. “You have reached the phone of Dr. Walker…” So, I’m not sure if this is funny because they thought it was a guy and it’s a woman or if it’s funny because it’s a doctor or if, in fact, this is funny at all. I also wonder if this will be mentioned again or if it was totally pointless.

Now the doorbell rings and Kate-or-Allie (whichever one is Jane Curtin) answers and it is trick-or-treaters. The woman WITH the trick-or-treaters is Gloria Greenley, someone who Kate-or-Allie apparently knows. Then they leave and some other trick-or-treaters come. Then they leave and two older guys show up. One of them says, “we’re here for your daughters,” then he introduces himself as Dr. Frankenstein, then he shakes her hand and his fake hand comes off. Kate-or-Allie calls up the stairs for “Jenny” and “Emma” who might be her daughters, I guess? Two boys come down instead, one of whom is Kate-or-Allie’s son, and one who looks like a discount AC Slater. Dr. Frankenstein says, “which one of you is Jenny,” which is creepy. Kate-or-Allie stops the boys and searches their persons. She finds eggs, presumably for mischief-making. Expositionally, we learn that there is a parade on the street just outside.

Allie-or-Kate comes down the stairs, and she is dressed as Peter Cottontail. Okay, she calls Jane Curtin “Allie,” so I can stop with the ___-or-___ nonsense. Everyone leaves except for Kate and Allie. Allie says, “why do I feel a lecture coming on?” Kate is mad that Allie isn’t dressed up or seemingly even into Halloween. She tells her she’s going to make her into a ghost.

Continue reading “Retro Rerun Review: Kate and Allie”

Ernest Scared Stupid

Ernest Scared Stupid


Having already applied his bumbling shenanigans to one holiday in 1988’s Ernest Saves Christmas, slapstick neighborhood doofus Ernest P. Worrell set his sights on Halloween in 1991’s Ernest Scared Stupid. Purring singer/actress Eartha Kitt joined in the spooky/goofy shenanigans, as did an army of slimy trolls.

This time around, Ernest is in suburban Missouri, working as a garbage collector. As always, he’s a friend to kids everywhere, so when a group of neighborhood preteens asks for his help building a treehouse, Ernest naturally obliges. But this particular oak tree happens to hold Trantor, a 200-year-old evil troll, and as local crone Old Lady Hackmore warns, the troll will be released if a Worrell puts his hand on the tree the night before Halloween and says, “Trantor, I call thee forth.” Well, stupid is as stupid does…

Once Trantor is released, the mean, mucous-covered munchkin sets out to capture the souls of Ernest’s young pals by turning them into wooden dolls. That’s bad enough, but when Trantor tries to pull his wooden magic on Ernest’s pet dog Rimshot, the little snotface has crossed the line. Ernest is out to kick some troll tushie, and this time, it’s personal.

The Halloween season wasn’t as good to Ernest as Christmas had been three years earlier. Ernest’s “human cartoon” slapstick still brought in fans, but not as many as previous films had. Ernest Scared Stupid was the last Ernest movie made in partnership with Disney subsidiary Touchstone, but director John Cherry and actor Jim Varney plugged ahead without the corporate backing, turning out Ernest Rides Again in 1993 and four more direct-to-video Ernest films over the following five years.

Retro Rerun Review: Roseanne

The Show: Roseanne 

Ran for:  222 episodes from 1988 to 1997. (Oh, and then 8 episodes in 2018. Not sure if you heard about that, though.)

What it’s about: A gruff-yet-lovable family living an unremarkable existence in lower middle class America. Also, loose meat sandwiches.

My relationship with it: I have seen every episode at least once, and a majority of episodes multiple times. (It is a scientific fact that Roseanne is being shown at every given second of every day somewhere on television.)

This Episode: Season 4, Episode 6, “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down”

A lady is approaching Roseanne’s door. It is open a crack, and you can hear Dan and Roseanne, household members, screaming inside. It is very clear that Roseanne is murdering Dan. Whoa! The lady enters the house and says, “it’s Kathy,” and now we know she’s Kathy. And yep. There’s Dan on the table with his guts hanging out. Kathy freaks out, understandably. And here’s Roseanne creeping up behind her! And she’s covered in blood and holding a butcher knife. I think Kathy is about to mess herself. Dan gets off the table and offers her some liver. She knows she’s been had. She storms away angrily and Dan and Roseanne laugh about it.

After the cold open, we’re back in the kitchen. Becky comes in— it’s the first Becky, by the way— and tells them she’s going out tonight. They mention dinner and, once again, offer up the liver. This liver has paid for itself already and we’re like, 3 minutes in. Darlene comes in and gets a soda. Roseanne asks Darlene if she is doing something cool and Halloween-ish and Darlene says no, I’m staying home. And then here comes DJ, and he’s dressed like Ed Grimsley, I think. Wait, no, he asks who he’s supposed to be, and he’s actually dressed as Alfalfa.

Anyway, he’s pissed because he wants to be the Terminator, natch. He runs off in a huff. Roseanne and Dan commiserate because Halloween “used to mean something.” Jackie, Roseanne’s sister, comes in and Dan tells her to take the insides out of the pumpkin he’s been cutting because he needs to go get the tubing for their costume. He won’t tell her what it is, though, and she’s mad. They’re all going to a party later, and Jackie is going stag. They talk about the dates she TRIED to get for the party that night, and it’s pretty good dialogue. Then DJ comes in and he’s dressed kind of like the Terminator, but still with elements of Alfalfa. Roseanne calls him the Alfalfinator, which is a pretty lame joke, actually. Continue reading “Retro Rerun Review: Roseanne”

Retro Theater: Night of the Comet

Midnight Drive-In


Welcome to the Retro Rambling’s Midnight Drive-In…a place created for all you retro lovin’ night owls.  Our first presentation for Spooktober 2018 takes us back to the year 1984 for a special screening of Night of the Comet.  A quasi-horror flick in which a comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls fighting against cannibal zombies and a sinister group of scientists.  Enjoy.


Retro Rerun Review: Webster

The Show: Webster

Ran for:  6 seasons. 150 episodes aired from 1983 to 1989.

What it’s about: Webster was one of 23 sitcoms from the 1980s about a young black child (being played by a grown black man) who for one reason or another is adopted by an old white person or couple.

My relationship with it:  My first inclination is to say, “are you kidding? I’ve seen every episode of Webster! Come on.” But really, I know that’s not true. I’m guessing I’ve seen like, 20 episodes. But I haven’t seen one in a long time.

This Episode: Season 1, Episode 17— “Secrets of the Night”

We open with Webster in Karate class. Boy, is he one cute sonofabitch. No wonder everyone loved this show and Michael Jackson tried to adopt him! Anyway, class gets dismissed, and another boy says, “Web,” which is SUPES caj, by the way, “Web, we really need to practice our moves. It’s a good thing I’m staying the night,” to which “Web” says, “actually, I’ve gotta study for a spelling test.” But um, tomorrow is Saturday, so I feel like Web is being deceptive. The other boy says, “look, Wanda Bibbick could beat you up,” and then Wanda, who is two Websters long, threatens him.



Back at the Webster’s parents’ pad, George is telling Katherine that karate is NOT dangerous, but then she reads the definition from the dictionary for some reason and everyone in the audience laughs. According to the dictionary, it sounds like karate IS dangerous.

George asks Katherine where “Web” is (apparently nobody used his full name), and she says that he’s still asleep. George goes upstairs and knocks on his door instead of, you know, going into his 7-year-old son’s room like a normal parent might. Webster jumps out of bed and takes his pants off. I’m guessing he peed in them, and that’s probably the plot of this episode. The next few minutes consist of George trying to guess the password to get in, and Webster hiding his soiled clothing and bed linen. Everyone is laughing, but peeing the bed isn’t all that funny.

At the breakfast table, Katherine announces that she is going to gather clothes for laundry pickup (?) and wonders if Webster has anything he needs washed. He runs to his room saying “I said don’t go in my room!” which is suspicious. He brings back his karate uniform and then they coax him into taking a bath (a morning bath, the weirdest kind) which is all a front so they can search his room. (Well, Katherine wants to; George thinks it is being invasive, but again, Webster is in grade school. How much privacy does a 2nd grader need?)

In his room, they play with a viewfinder thing and Katherine finds a dead moth under his bed and finally she realizes that his sheets are AWOL. She looks around and then finds where he hid his pee sheets and very solemnly says, “Webster’s wetting his bed.” Webster is in the doorway, but they don’t know it. He looks betrayed, but also like he ate bad seafood.

After the commercial break, Webby is on the couch reading a newspaper but it’s upside down so that’s funny. George and Katherine are trying to talk to him, but he’s wearing giant headphones. Where’d he get those? Anyway, he’s mad because they found the sheets. He hollers “leave me alone!” and flees to his urine-soaked sanctuary. Once there, he barricades the door with toys. Totally normal behavior. Then his karate friend, Curtis, shows up. He’s having a sleepover and he wants Webster to attend, but for reasons known to us, Webster does not want to. He blames his inability to attend on George and “Ma’am.” Curtis says, “man, you’ve been acting WEIRD!” and Webster says “I am weird, wanna make something of it?” and Curtis is like, “I’m out, you crazy mf’er,” and he leaves.

Now Webster has no friends and a bed-wetting problem. What a mess.

Later, Katherine and George have a solid 5-minute conversation about the problem— how it’s normal, who in history may or may not have wet their bed(s), what may be causing Webster’s problem— and it is seriously a bizarrely long and unnecessary scene. Katherine proposes a gold star reward system and the whole thing sounds like it was written as a “how to be a parent” guide of some sort.

Curtis shows up and asks Webster to be friends again. Then he sees the calendar and stickers and here’s where things get incredibly strange. Curtis says, “oh, look, a puppy calendar and stickers. That’s neat! My little brother got the same thing, except his calendar had bunnies. But Webster, aren’t you an only child?” Webster says, “yep, no brothers or sisters,” to which Curtis says, “then I guess YOU’RE the bed-wetter.” (!?!?!?)

So, just to clarify: for some unbelievably peculiar reason, owning a regular wall calendar and a pack of stickers in Webster’s universe automatically means that someone in that household is pissing the bed.

Okay, sure.

Anyway, Webster gets mad at Ma’am and accuses her of telling Curtis. He runs off to the park.

Now Webster is in the sandbox sucking his thumb and George jogs up and climbs in. Then Katherine shows up. They start talking about what’s going on in his life. He mentions a math test, a spelling test, his karate tournament. You know, an average amount of things. Katherine says, “you know, Webster, I used to be like you,” and he says “you were BLACK?” and, 18-minutes in, we have our first legitimately kind-of funny line. Anyway, she explains that sometimes life makes you nervous. They explain that they will still love him even if he gets beat by a girl in karate, fails his test, and continues to wet his bed with reckless abandon. Everyone gets happy and they toss sand on one another.

After the commercial, we’re back where we started— karate class. George and Katherine are there, wearing karate robes. I’m not sure what is happening. Webster makes George pretend to be a mugger, and Katherine is supposed to be a lady bent over, tying her shoes. Then Katherine throws George to the mat and Webster does a weird giggle and it’s over. What a strange, unsatisfying ending.

Would I Watch Another Episode? Not on purpose. Webster was not a good show. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t smart. I’m honestly not sure who the target audience was. Orphans? Maybe orphans love Webster.   

Grade: 2/10