Category: Prime Time TV

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”

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”

Do You Remember Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Are You Afraid of the Dark

The age-old tradition of the campfire ghost story got a 1990’s update in Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Debuting as part of the Friday night SNICK block in 1992, the show featured a group of teen and preteen storytellers, each telling tales of the spooky and the macabre.

Horror fan Gary was the founder of the Midnight Society, a club of kids who each week retired deep into the woods, lit a campfire and took turns scaring the living daylights out of one another. In addition to Gary, the original Midnight Society lineup included Betty Ann, Kiki, Frank, Kristen, David and Eric.

As each episode began, one of the Midnight Society members would begin spinning his or her web of gloom, and the show would segue into a dramatization of the story. The familiar vampires, werewolves, haunted houses, mad scientists, etc., were all present in the kids’ tales, but the stories also delved into Twilight Zone territory. Kids were given twisted morality lessons about prank phone call police, magic mirrors that showed inner ugliness, the problems with having your wishes all come true, and so on. And for the hard core scare fans, the Midnight Society also had its share of voodoo, cannibals, scary clowns and raising the dead.

The Midnight Society was the show’s only regular cast, as other actors took over during the stories themselves. That left plenty of room for guest stars, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? filled the bill with appearances by Bobcat Goldthwaite, Melissa Joan Hart, Neve Campbell, Boy Meets World’s Will Friedle and TV’s original Riddler, Frank Gorshin.

Midnight Society members came and went during the show’s first run, with Sam, Stig and Gary’s kid brother Tucker joining up to replace the exiting spookmeisters. With the start of the sixth season—which came after a three years of no new episodes—an entire new Midnight Society was formed, with only Tucker hanging on as the group’s new leader. Excitable tomboy Vange, upscale Megan, burly farm boy Andy and streetwise Quinn were now the ones sharing their chilling yarns.

Somewhere out there, the Midnight Society continue to hold their macabre meetings in the woods, and as long as kids love good ghost stories, the tradition will surely stay alive.

If you remember and want to relive the spooky fun of Are You Afraid of the Dark, or you’ve never indulged, then join us tonight at midnight in our Retro Rambling’s Midnight Drive-In for a curated selection of episodes.  That is, if you’re not afraid of the dark.

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 

Retro Rerun Review: Can’t Hurry Love

Welcome back to Retro Rerun Review. This week’s random selection is Can’t Hurry Love starring Nancy McKeon who you know as Jo from Facts of Life, and Mariska Hargitay, who you know as Lady Detective from Law & Order: SVU or maybe from being Jane Mansfield’s daughter.

The Show: Can’t Hurry Love 

Ran for:  A partial season. 19 episodes aired between September of ’95 and February of ’96.

What it’s about: A single woman living in New York City, looking for romance. This was the plot of 30% of all television shows and movies made between 1992 and 2003.

My relationship with it: Non-existent. Never heard of it. Feels like it might not even be real.

This Episode: Season 1, Episode 9— “Three Blind Dates”

Remember how last week I said that Fifteen’s theme song sounded like it was composed by a robot specifically designed to compose 80’s TV show theme songs? So, that exact same thing, except for 90’s sitcoms. This sounds like Frasier’s lightly jazzy intro made sweet, smoky love to Caroline in the City or something. It’s pretty horny and very 90s.

We open at a restaurant. There is a man sitting at a table and he has eaten 56 of something. There’s a poultry joke made, so I assume they’re talking about chicken wings? But I’m not sure. He’s eating with Annie (Nancy McKeon) who acts appalled by his gluttony. They start talking about dating, and the guy— who has a very stereotypical New York accent (he’s literally saying “yous” and that sort of thing)—says he wants to set her up “wit one-uh my friends, you know, yous all would gettalong so great, fughettaboudit,” etc. She says OK, sure, that’s fine, but if this happens, she gets to set him up with someone. SITCOM!!!

Hey, and here’s Mariska Hargitay! She looks super young because, well, she was. She picks up the bucket of bones and makes a pigeon joke, so I guess the guy— his name is Roger— was eating pigeon wings. Then, for some reason, a 4th person shows up at the table. The man says, “order me something big and nasty” and everyone laughs way too hard. He’s part of their group, I guess. Elliot— that’s the new guy— picks up the bucket of wings and says “hey Roger, looks like you forgot to suck the marrow out of these things” and again, the audience roars.

Everyone seems weirdly fixated on these chicken wings. Were they a new thing in 1995? Was Roger some sort of chicken wing trailblazer? Because now, if I’m at a table where someone is eating wings, 90% of our conversation does not revolve around eating the wings. In fact, no one says much beyond, “are those good wings?” I’m finding this all very strange.

Next we’re in an office and Annie is talking to a very rotund man in a red shirt and she says, “I hate to break it to you, but Fruit of the Loom just isn’t looking for a new apple right now,” so she is either a casting director or an extreme bitch. Oh, wait, okay, then she says, “in the meantime, how’d you like to be a janitor” and he says “okay” and begins immediately emptying wastebaskets, so I guess she is some sort of job placement specialist. Mariska Hargitay shows up, but I don’t think she works there, and oh, there’s Elliot. He works there, too. And the super stereotypical Italian bird-eating weirdo, he’s there, too.

Does everyone work at the same place? This is odd.

They’re exchanging blind date information, per their discussion from the first scene, and I swear to God, Roger actually says “fughettaboudit.” (I was kidding earlier, but he actually says it here.)

Anyway, they’ve written down all of each others’ blind date information on pieces of paper, mostly for laughter’s sake. There is some snappy banter and everyone gets their blind date info.

Now we’re watching as Roger shows up for his blind date. He rings the doorbell and, while waiting for his date to come, moistens his eyelashes. Is this a thing? His date opens the door and she has very short hair and pretty dorky looking glasses, but is otherwise perfectly normal looking. Roger, who is clearly an asshole, says, “if you need more time to get ready,” when we all KNOW she’s ready already! That’s the joke. They enter her house— despite the fact he said they had reservations at DeMazzio’s only three sentences before— and we see that they’ll be dining at her house, with… wait for it… HER WHOLE FAMILY! Zoinks.

We cut to Mariska Hargitay’s date. Well, she’s looking for her date, anyway. But she can’t find “Colin” at the crowded bar. She taps the shoulder of a random person which is not an action you or I would probably take, but we are not sitcom characters. It is a very butch lesbian-looking woman and Mariska Hargitay suggests that “some lipstick wouldn’t hurt.” This joke feels, I don’t know, dated. Anyway, Colin finally approaches HER. He is Peter Scolari from Bosom Buddies/Newhart/a thousand other things you’ve seen, and he is also actually, physically blind. We know because he has a tapping cane. (I wonder how many “blind date is blind” jokes have been made throughout the history of television. Is it 40% of all blind date episodes? Higher? Hmm.)

Back at the office, we’re with Elliot. See, the thing is, Elliot is married, and they’ve mentioned it several times already in this episode. A big to-do was made when Mariska Hargitay gave HIM a name on a piece of paper and then said, “your wife says it’s OK,” and he said, “haha, okay, SURE,” but then they called her and what the hell is going on, she said it was okay.

And now we know why. His “date” is a sassy 10-year-old girl. He is babysitting. See, earlier, he’d mentioned that his wife is pressuring him to have kids. So, here you go.

Meanwhile, back at Roger’s family-dinner date, he’s helping her cook in the kitchen. I’m not sure why she didn’t have all of the cooking done before he showed up, but it’s not my business, I guess. Anyway, she’s trying to kiss him in the kitchen and it is awkward. It is a very short scene.

Annie’s date Nick shows up at her door and he is smoking. She asks him not to smoke in her apartment and he drops his cigarette outside her front door which would be fine except that she lives in an apartment building, so I am assuming it is carpeted. He strokes her cheek and says “let’s go.” He looks and like the human version of a cartoon wolf who would be really into swing music.

The two with actual dates have decided to go on a double blind date, I guess, and it might be back at the restaurant from the first scene? It’s a bit hard to tell. The guys are maybe in the bathroom, and Annie and Mariska Hargitay (I swear they haven’t said her name yet) are both complaining, because their dates are shady and blind, respectively. We learn that the blind guy is deathly allergic to olives and then Annie’s date asks her to go shoot dice.

Elliot and his date are playing Go Fish. She gets mad and swipes all of the cards onto the floor. I’m still not sure who this little girl is or who decided to leave her with a stranger.

Okay, and Annie actually does go to play craps somewhere. It’s a casino in an apartment, maybe? Everyone in here is in the mob. This doesn’t seem very realistic, if you ask me. A joke is made about a furniture store having a “fire” sale, and nothing else really happens. All of these scenes are like, 30 seconds long.

Now we’re at the home-cooked family date with Roger again, and we catch him on the phone with a friend asking for a fake emergency call to be made. Only, thing is, Roger’s date comes in and hears it, too. He gets sauce on his shirt (or, as he’d call it, “gravy,” I guess), and she takes it off to clean it. They’re arguing and he’s slowly realizing that he’s a terrible chauvinist and I am sure his enlightenment will stick, long-term. The fake phone call comes through, but New Roger doesn’t want to take it. And, scene.

Back at the blind blind date, she asks, “seen any good movies lately,” which is a perfectly fine question to ask a visually impaired person, but not if you’re on a sitcom! WHOOPS! She grimaces and the audience laughs pretty hard. He responds with a joke about subtitles. Sure, why not. They are getting along, though, which is good. Some more blind jokes are made. Things are really rolling now.

Roger and his date are getting along now, too. She’s ironing his shirt and it’s one of those things where you walk in on a story that is almost to the punchline which is what makes it the joke. You know what I mean, the scene starts with him saying, “and so I says to ’em, I says…” That sort of thing. Anyway, they kiss. Feels like this all happened pretty fast if you ask me.

We’re visiting the blind blind date again and Peter Scolari has her blindfolded to teach her how to be blind. I’m not sure if this is something a real blind person would do, or why, but what do I know— I am sighted. He’s teaching her how to read a room without seeing anything. Predictably, it is not going well.

Back at the crap game (craps game?), Annie is doing great. She is making lots of good dice throws and Nick says she is “hotter than the car we came in.” Get it?

I guess the dates are over now because the four friends are all blindfolded and standing on a fire escape because Mariska Hargitay wants them all to know how amazing being blind is. They talk about Elliot’s weird date with a 10-year-old girl and then they all realize that New York City smells bad. The end.

Would I Watch Another Episode?: You might be surprised by my answer, but, sure, why not. It honestly wasn’t the worst. It was pretty standard, boilerplate sitcom stuff– you know, unrealistically snappy and punchy dialogue. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but the jokes were just fine and the actors were all tolerable. (Except for the over-the-top Italian caricature.) I’m honestly surprised it only lasted 19 episodes. While not necessarily my cup of tea, it felt no different than a Will & Grace or something of that ilk.

Grade: 5.5/10

Retro Rerun Review: Fifteen

 

Welcome back to Retro Rerun Rewind! This week, I’m reviewing the classic Canadian teen drama Fifteen. Do you think I meant to say Degrassi? Because this isn’t Degrassi. This is Fifteen. 

The Show: Fifteen (known as Hillside in Canada)

Ran for: 4 seasons. 65 episodes aired between 1991 and 1993.

What it’s About: Well, Canadian teens doing Canadian Teen Things, of course. It was a teen soap about kids at a school— Hillside School, obviously— and the serious things teens have to deal with: drugs, divorce, dating, drinking, maple syrup shortages, moose attacks.

My Relationship with It: Until I started compiling a list of shows for this column, I had never heard of Fifteen. At all. I mentioned it offhand to a friend at work, though, and she practically punched me in the mouth in her unbridled excitement. “Fifteen?! I LOVED THAT SHOW! GAAAAHhHHHHHAH!!” She exclaimed punchily as she punched the air in an excited manner. So, if you were rich enough to have Nickelodeon in the early 90s like Jessica, maybe you knew and loved Fifteen. Not me, though.

This Episode: Season 1, Episode 8— “Lean on Me.”

So the theme song sounds like it was composed by a robot built to specifically write music for late 80s/early 90s television shows. It is great. And instead of showing the actor’s name during the opening credits, it shows the character’s name. That’s weird. Also, they all have very generic names. Dylan, Brooke, Theresa, Ashley, Matt. And you know who plays Billy, right? You guessed it, it’s Ryan Reynolds. Rad.

It starts with Cindy the Environmentalist hanging up a poster about saving the earth and then getting really bitchy with someone who says hello to her. I’m already confused. Why is Cindy like this? Is there a history here? Maybe I shouldn’t have started in the eighth episode. Anyway, that scene just like… ends.

Now we’re at a diner— maybe it’s The Max! Maybe Slater will show up and say something super sexist! A small boy in a poofy red shirt named Jake is talking to a very whispery blonde girl. The blonde girl is worried about someone’s drinking problem. (Okay, the quiet blonde is Ashley, and she is worried about her boyfriend Matt.) Anyway, it is established that: 1) Ashley shouldn’t be talking to Jake, 2) Jake should talk to Matt because they are best friends, and 3) Ashley hasn’t done homework in a number of days. Neither one touches their milk; he doesn’t touch his something-that-looks-like-a-cinnamon roll, and I swear to God, I have no idea what is even supposed to be on her plate.

Back at Hillside, the girl who was yelled at by the environmentalist is still at the table, perhaps paralyzed with fear. A plainly dressed boy with floppy hair approaches and makes disparaging remarks about the environmental poster, then says he is getting bad marks in science and if he doesn’t course correct, will not be able to go to “the concert.” I can’t tell if the girl with the book cares or not. No one in this show seems to really like each other or even care that they are all in the same television show.

Okay, so then we learn that she’s sort of miffed because floppy hair kissed her a few days ago and then acted like it never happened. Oh, and not only that, but then when she went over to his garage a few days later, she saw that Brooke was there. Damn. But floppy haired boy swears that Brooke has the hots for a boy in the 12th grade. Then he storms off.

ENTER RYAN REYNOLDS. He looks like the epitome of 1991. it is quickly established that he is this girl’s brother. Exposition is given that they don’t see each other that often anymore, though, now that they live in “different places.” Double damn.

Ryan Reynolds explains that he’ll need to stay at their mom’s this coming weekend because dad, who he lives with, is out of town, but then sister is like, “why don’t we stay at dad’s instead, we can throw a party,” and Ryan Reynolds starts to try to talk her out of it, but then a nameless teen with cool soccer-guy hair walks by and says, “oh, you’re throwing a party this weekend? Cool!” and, well, there you go.

In the locker room, we learn that the guy who overheard about the party is the potential lush, Matt. He’s chatting with his best friend Jake who is still wearing his poofy red shirt. Jake is fiddling with his shoes and complaining about push ups, or something, when he decides it is time to go ahead and accuse his friend of being a drunk. I feel like this will go well.

In response to Jake expressing his concern, Matt says, and I am not kidding about this, “I AM A BIG BOY, GET OFF MY CASE,” and he storms out of the locker room. Jake tries to slam his locker shut but it bounces back open which you can tell was an accident.

Now we’re in the hallway and here’s Brooke and she runs into Matt and asks if he’s heard about the party. I’m not sure what the point of this scene was, exactly, but Brooke looks like a hotter version of Molly Ringwald so I’m totally OK with it.

The environmentalist approaches and she is ranting about all of the paper the school wastes. She is making a scene and she looks like a lunatic. (Side bar: why do they make environmentalists so aggressively unlikable on television shows? Can’t we all agree that we SHOULD care about the environment, and a good first step is to make the characters who are passionate about it less annoying? Great job, Hollywood.) Anyway, now she’s bitching about tuna fish sandwiches. I really, really detest this girl. A handsome dork joins her and also begins complaining about tuna fish. A crowd is watching.

The handsome dork is named Olaf, and Brooke and Matt make fun of him for being from Norway though I’m not sure how you’re supposed to believe them because he does not have any sort of accent whatsoever. The crowd disperses and the environmentalist girl calls everyone “zipperheads” which, I don’t know, could be very insulting in Canada.

Now we’re back at The Not Max, and Dylan is pensively writing song lyrics. God, I hope he shares them with us!!! Brooke is there, and she wants to see them, but he won’t let her. She sits down to talk and he finds out that she broke up with the older boy. He’s very moody and I don’t think he cares. She says, “there IS someone I’m interested in, though.” Dun-dun-DUNNN! And just like that, he is coerced into asking her to the party.

Later, Ol’ Floppy Haired Dylan is back at the school (these kids all seem to come and go an awful lot) and he runs into Ryan Reynolds’ sister, who I just realized is dressed like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She asks him if he is coming to her party, and he acts really rock star about it, but I think he’s basically onboard. He grimaces and says, “I’ve gotta run.” He looks constipated. All of these people look constipated, actually.

Little House rounds the corner and runs into Hot Molly Ringwald. She starts telling her about how Dylan is taking her to the party. FINALLY it feels like something exciting is happening. Then Little House leaves and Ryan Reynolds comes up. And please, let’s just pause for a moment and enjoy his shirt.

Wow.

Then Hot Molly Ringwald points out that Olaf, the handsome environmentalist, is sitting quietly in the corner by himself. Seriously. That’s what he’s doing. He’s sitting there, by himself. He’s waiting for someone to play chess with him, I guess. He talks to Ryan Reynolds and the whole scene is very… uncomfortable. Ryan Reynolds is acting—and I’m not trying to be funny here, because it is not really a funny thing— like Olaf has previously done something to him. Something molesty, perhaps. I really don’t know what’s happening anymore.

Now we’re back at the diner— dear God, will this ever end— and Little House is talking to Poofy Shirt. He has been to the diner twice today, at least that we are aware of. She is blathering on about Dylan and she’s like, “of course he doesn’t like me, why would ANY guy like me,” and Poofster is all, “lots of guys like you,” and she’s all, “name one,” and he gets all squinty eyed, like a diminutive, Canadian Clint Eastwood, and he says that maybe he does.

Little House leaves as Poofy Shirt tries unsuccessfully to profess his love, and here comes the crazy environmentalist girl, and I swear to God, if this scene doesn’t end with her choking to death on a mini corndog, I’m smashing my computer with a hammer. She sits down and starts talking about her favorite Canadian football team the goddamned environment, of course. She notices Poofy Shirt’s drawing of a frog (?) and gushes about how much she loves it.

In the next scene, we’re FINALLY somewhere other than the school or that godforsaken diner. It’s a shack in the middle of a junk yard!!! Sweet!

Apparently this is where Dylan and his Canuck Good Time Boys Band practices. He’s sitting there with a guitar that I’m pretty sure doesn’t have strings. He’s talking to Ryan Reynolds about Ryan’s sister. Then Dylan asks him to take his math homework back to school the next day because he’s not going. “I think I’m gonna skip school and just practice.” Then he kicks Ryan Reynolds out. This is how serious he is about rocking— he’s too busy to hand in his homework. (He’ll do it, he just can’t be bothered to return it.)

Back at the diner, we’re in a different booth than normal and the whispery blonde is whispering her concern to Matt about his drinking. He gets pissed. It’s a mercifully short scene.

And now we’re back at the junkyard rock shack. Dylan— who has been in the same blue t-shirt for several days now—is talking to Brooke. She’s getting on him about skipping school. He changes the subject to “I heard we’re dating, what’s going on there?” And she says, “are we?” And he starts approaching her and his hands are all cramped up for some reason like he has severe arthritis. I think they might kiss, but he also might try to hockey-fight her.

Okay, nope, they kiss, and the sound is nauseating. It sounds like a fat hand smacking a wet roast. And then it’s over. That’s it. That’s the end of the episode.

There is no party. The environmentalist doesn’t self-immolate to protest the cafeteria’s use of plastic forks. Little House doesn’t burst into the shack and murder suicide Dylan, Brooke and herself.

I feel, in short, horribly let down.

Would I Watch Another Episode?: God, no. Okay, well, for money. Pay me $200 and I will reluctantly watch another episode of his terrible program. It was just so bad. The acting was hideous, the scenes were extremely slow and uninteresting, the writing was plodding and tedious. When it comes to Canadian teen dramas, I’ll stick with Degrassi, thanks.

Grade: 2/10

Retro Rerun Review: Three’s Company

Hey Ramblers, I’d like ya’ll to give a warm welcome to the newest member of the Retro Ramblings family, Brandon.  Brandon is going to be filling out your Tuesday’s retro schedule for you with his reviews of retro television shows.  Show him some love in the comments section here on his first piece, but try not to over do it.  I really dig this review of Three’s Company, and look forward to see what show he follows it up with next week.  If you have any suggestions for something you’d like to see get the rerun review treatment, drop him a line.

– Retro Rambler


 

Oh, hello. So, I’m Brandon, and this is my segment. I think we’ll call it “Retro Rerun Reviews.” And then, once we’re all comfortable and conversational-like, we’ll call it “RRR.” Maybe sometimes even, we’ll get real cool and call it “Triple R” like that portly, sunburnt chef on television might.

The idea is this: each week, I’m going to review an old television show. Now, this might be a show I’ve seen every episode of twice, or it might be a show I’ve never even heard of. I’ve written down 206 shows on individual pieces of paper, and I will randomly draw that week’s selection from a giant hat. (Don’t worry— the hat is plenty big; it looks like a weird Dr. Seussian hat that Lisa Bonet would occasionally wear on the The Cosby Show.)

So, without further ado, I’ll move on to this week’s show.

The Show: Three’s Company 

Ran for: 8 seasons. 172 episodes from 1977 until 1984.

What it’s About: A pretend-homosexual named Jack Tripper who lives with two ladies in order to, I don’t know, save on rent? They’re in Santa Monica, I think, and he’s a cook, so maybe saving on rent is a big concern.

My Relationship with It: I don’t know that I’ve ever intentionally watched Three’s Company. It’s something I’ve seen, though, probably on a sick-day from school or in olden times when we only had a handful of channels from which to choose. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that I’ve seen probably six full episodes in my life, give or take, and snippets of countless others.

This episode: Season 2, Episode 17. “The Babysitters.”

Three’s Company, of course, has one of the best theme songs ever. Top 10, probably.  And this one, after the singing ends, keeps going on a long musical interlude, and then goes back to the singing! It’s like an extended club mix, and, at 70 seconds, much longer than nearly anything else you see on television today.

It starts when the brown-haired woman, Janet, comes out of the shower in a towel and Jack makes a very rapey comment. The audience laughs a lot because in olden times, it was much more acceptable to make sexually unwanted advances on your opposite-sex friends. LOL, you know? Anyway, we learn that Janet is getting ready for a date. She asks Chrissy to borrow some clothes.

The phone rings and it’s a guy named Jerry Randall. He tells Chrissy that Janet is supposed to be coming to watch his kid. SHE PROMISED WEEKS AGO!!! 

So, Chrissy offers to take Janet’s place, and Janet is like, “oh, you are the best, WOULD YOU” and Chrissy is all, “sure, where’s my date taking me” and the laugh track goes nuts. (THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, GET IT?)

Janet asks Jack and he’s like, “no way, out of the question.” Mrs. Roper is broached, but she has the flu. This is good, because if she didn’t have the flu, the problem would be solved and this whole episode would be over.

Now we’re in the Roper’s bedroom. Mr. Roper is taking care of his sick wife but all the while making a big deal out of the fact that he is a man and this is a bad arrangement. She asks him to stay and talk, and he says “no, I gotta watch television, Name That Tune goes on in a few minutes.” That’s a really weird way to say that, right? “Goes on?” No one says that. It’s  “comes on” or, short of that, “starts.” Anyway, they crack a couple of jokes and, because of some miscommunication, she thinks for a moment that they’re going to have sex which is something that she likes, I guess, and he does not. Then she sneezes and he panics and leaves.

Back at the Three’s Company House, Janet is still trying to talk Chrissy into taking the babysitting gig, but Chrissy suggests that her ineptitude will LITERALLY lead to the child’s death, so Janet volunteers Jack. He says he doesn’t want to go because he needs to watch the Lakers play the Trailblazers, but then Janet mentions that the Randall’s have a better television AND a bunch of “fancy cooking liqueurs” that Jack has wanted to try but can’t afford. This seems unethical, probably, but Jack is excited about it.

Janet’s date David arrives, and he appears to be a 47-year-old, super nerdy accountant. Their date, he announces, is a “performance of 14th century music” and Janet thinks that sounds horrid. She remarks to Chrissy, “maybe I SHOULD babysit instead,” only we know that won’t happen either, because again, this would be an eight-minute episode.

At the Randall’s house, we learn that the wife’s name, inexplicably, is “Punkin’” or “Pumpkin.” She is pregnant with their second child and there are some random jokes about how babies kick. Chrissy and Jack arrive and Jerry is completely cool with a person he barely knows and this person’s friend watching his child, apparently. About the fetus, Chrissy says, “is it going to be a boy or a girl?” which is a perfectly reasonable question when talking to a pregnant lady, I think, but Pumpkin Randall responds, “I certainly hope so.” This garners big laughs and I am not sure I understand how this is a joke.

Jack learns the television is out for repair, because of course it is, and Pumpkin or Punkin’ says “help yourselves to a drink,” which is a weird thing to say to someone who is caring for your 1-year-old child, or maybe that’s me being a prude. Jack pretends to watch the television and then learns the liqueurs cabinet is locked up. WHAT A REGRETTABLE NIGHT FOR JACK! 

The phone rings and it’s Mr. Pumpkin and, wouldn’t you know it, Child Two Who We Certainly Hope is a Boy or a Girl is on its way. Strangely, the news made Mr. Pumpkin look like he did a bunch of blow, and maybe he did because that was sort of the style at this time. He tells Jack he’ll “be a little later than planned” (??) and then Jack mentions the locked liqueur cabinet and Mr. Pumpkin tells him the key is in the desk drawer. Jack gets off the phone but then finds out the desk drawer is locked, too! He slams his fists on the desk in unnecessary anger and Baby Boy Randall begins crying and it is the weirdest noise ever. Seriously, it is like you explained the sound of crying to a deaf person and then made them do it from the stage at a haunted concert hall.

Chrissy and Jack look at each other and, in tandem, say “that’s all we needed!” No one has ever intentionally said the same thing like this on purpose in the history of mankind. I’m actually mad about this.

Then we go to commercial, and when we come back, Jack is rocking the baby and singing him dirty limericks. I swear. Then Chrissy feeds the baby while Jack reads him a story. The baby, it is now clear, is a loosely wrapped bundle of sticks. The prop budget must have been small in the 2nd season.  The sticks fall asleep and Chrissy drops them unceremoniously into the crib. (They could have at least told her to pretend like it’s a baby.)

 

The phone rings and it is the dad and he has found a way to do even MORE cocaine. His tie is lower than before and his eyes are wild and scary. He explains that his wife wants him there for the birth and he seems very put out by this fact.

 

Back at the Three’s Company Apartment, Janet is getting home from her date with the boring guy. She tries to shoo him out by saying her roommates are home, but when she goes to shut the door, and the phone rings and she goes to answer it, it doesn’t shut all the way and he SNEAKS BACK IN and it is a genuinely scary moment. He realizes that it is Chrissy on the phone, so, after the call ends he says “so, you’re all alone, huh?” and I’m starting to wonder if this is a Very Special Episode where Janet gets kidnapped and murdered? But then she manages to kick him back out, so I guess that’s that.

Meanwhile, at the Pumpkin residence, the bundle of sticks is inconsolable. Jack and Chrissy are doing a lot of harried, witty banter, just like two people would be in real life. Chrissy calls Mrs. Roper because Janet told her “she used to work at a hospital.” Turns out, she worked in the laundry room. WHOOPS. She starts giving out suggestions anyway, like, “oil him up and sprinkle powder on him” and “try putting some honey on his nipple” and Mr. Roper is now awake and FREAKING OUT about this conversation. Jack comes out of the baby’s room and says “it’s okay, the baby let out a burp and went to bed.” They hang up on Mrs. Roper because that joke is over now.

Jack makes another very uncomfortable, lecherous reference, this time about the fact that “we’ll have to sleep here, and there’s only one bed,” as in, “get it? We’re gonna be doing it later, me and you.” We cut to a scene of him asleep on the couch, alone. The laugh track goes wild.

It’s the next morning and Janet shows up. Then, while she’s trying to figure out what happened the night before, Pumpkin’s mother shows up. She looks like a cartoon, or a small Asian man in a weird wig playing a slightly aristocratic 1970’s mother. The truly strange thing is that she’s not there to like, take over or help— she thinks that Jack, Chrissy and Janet are hired nannies, or something? It is all very confusing and I think it’s supposed to be funny. Jack and Chrissy abandon Janet who is then stuck with this sneaky, bossy Asian man.

Some time later, Janet shows back up and she is exhausted. She is upset that Grandmother Pumpkin bossed her around instead of helping. She collapses on the couch and strangely, this is the end of the episode.

Would I Watch Another Episode?: Well, on a sick day, perhaps. People loved Three’s Company and it is still well-regarded from a critical standpoint. The late John Ritter is great and the rest of the cast is fine. It is a very traditionally written and paced sitcom. It’s hokey, and tacky, but mostly harmless. (Well, you know, except for all the casual rape chat.)

Grade: 6/10