Tag: 70’s

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

Hanna-Barbera’s Jabberjaw

Jabberjaw

In the year 2076, a group of teenagers, as teenagers often do, formed a band. They called themselves The Neptunes, with Biff on guitar, Shelly on tambourine, Bubbles on piano, and Clam-Head on cello. Not getting the sound they wanted, the band was faced with difficult questions: Where are we going to play? Do we need a drummer? and, perhaps most importantly, Why is there a cello in our rock band? Deciding to tackle the drummer issue first, they turned to their good friend Jabberjaw.

Jabberjaw brought several things to the table. Aside from the fact that he was a terrific drummer, he was very funny. That would come in handy during those lonely nights on the road. He was also a real shark at the negotiating table. As a matter of fact, he was a real shark everywhere. A great white, to be exact. The band now complete, The Neptunes would ride in the Aquacar to their concert dates, playing bubblegum pop tunes and inexplicably getting mixed up with criminals in nearly every episode.

Jabberjaw constantly whined about getting no respect, a trademark of comedian Rodney Dangerfield, yet his voice and mannerisms were eerily reminiscent of Curly from The Three Stooges.

The show ran for two seasons, the second of which was composed entirely of repeats. The shark himself reappeared later in the decade as a competitor on Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics.

Lawn Darts – One of the Most Dangerous Toys of All Time

Lawn Darts

Starting in the 1970’s, people began to cast a suspicious eye on the safety standards used in making toys. Parents and lawmakers began voicing their concerns and this led to new legal standards for what could and could not be sold to children at the toy store. Toys have become much safer over the years as a result of this, but a hazardous toy slips through the cracks every now and then and makes it to the market. One of the most notorious examples in recent memory is the case of Lawn Darts. These outdoor leisure items enjoyed a lengthy period of popularity, but quickly got yanked from the marketplace when its potential for danger became too obvious.

More Toys  |  Things I Always Wanted but Never Had

Lawn Darts began to appear in sporting goods and toy stores in the 1960’s and were made by various manufacturers (Sears Department Stores had their own Sears Lawn Darts, and so on). Also sold under the name ‘Jarts,’ these items were 12 inches long, with a heavy tip made of metal on one end and decorative plastic fins at the other end. The metal tips were blunt so they wouldn’t cut the hands of the person tossing them, but remained pointy and heavy enough to stick in the ground they were thrown at.

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8 Board Games I Love

Board games have long occupied space in closets and on book shelves, and have entertained families of all types and sizes for decades. While growing up, my brother and I spent many days and hours playing games, just like my daughters do today.

I admit, when the original Nintendo came along, I spent far less time with the conventional board game, and shifted most of my focus to video games. Even so, I have so many fond memories attached to board games, so here today I’m taking a trip down memory lane to look at six of my favorite board games from days gone by, and two more recent ones.


Monopoly

Monopoly

When I hear “board game”, Monopoly is the first thing that comes to mind. I would consider it the “Boardwalk” of board games, while all the others are “Vermont Ave” or “St. James Place”.

The current recognized version was first published in 1935 by Parker Brothers. It underwent a major resign in 2008 that saw Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues colors from purple to brown, and GO from red to black. It also changed the Income Tax to a flat $200, and upped Luxury Tax from the original $75 to $100.

When I was a kid, my family would play, but in the beginning, I was too young to be in on the game. When my time finally came, I instantly fell in love with it. I thought I was a big deal when I could barter my way to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, or buy Oriental Ave. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand back then how the game worked and would usually be quickly put out of the game due to faulty business decisions.

As I grew older, I graduated from playing with family to playing with friends, where the playing field was a little more level. As an adult, my friends and I came up with a set of additional rules that we called “Survival Monopoly”. It threw in things like “everyone moves one chair to the left”, meaning that you now owned all of your neighbor’s property, and left yours behind to be taken over by someone else.

From the simple color schemes, to the simple rules, playing this board game these days always takes me back to another place in time. A place when I was sitting in front of the fire-place, with my brother and my folks enjoying the evening together. It’s one of the things that brings back some of the strongest feelings of nostalgia within me, and makes me ache to go back. But at the same time, the game helps me stay anchored in the present, as I love to play the game with my daughters. I see in their faces the same joys of playing the game that I have always experienced, and know that I am helping to create in them something that one day they will look back on with similar nostalgic feelings.

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The Bad News Bears

Bad News Bears

Written by Bill Lancaster (Burt’s son) and directed by Michael Ritchie (who had helmed adult fare like The Candidate and Smile), this winning 1976 film worked on a lot of levels—and not just the “hey, those naughty kids are cussing” level either. There was the underdog triumph story at the movie’s core; there was the satire of the uniquely American institution of Little League and its overly-involved bench parents (in the year of our country’s bicentennial, no less). There was also a redemptive character piece at work, as Buttermaker, via his group of misfits, tried to get his shambled life together once and for all.

Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is a former minor league baseball player, and currently, a disheveled drunk and a not-so-devoted pool-cleaner. And if you think he’s mastered the fine art of uncouth and offensive language, wait until you meet the kids on his future Little League Team.

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Forgotten Food: Del Monte Pudding in a Can

 

Pudding in a Can

Kids who came along in the early 90’s and later can have their Hunt’s Snack Packs, or their Swiss Miss from the dairy aisle. For me, the king of the hill when it came to pre-packaged pudding was Del Monte’s Chocolate Pudding in the can. Not a plastic cup, but in the little metal can! Scientists can conduct all the experiments they want to determine what effects tin and plastic packaging have on the taste of packaged food, but I can save them a little time and sum it for them in one sentence. It just tasted better out of the can! Period. End of story.

Of course fond memories, nostalgia, and many, many years of time can mislead the brain when it comes to reality. Maybe it wasn’t the metal can that made it taste better. It could have been the fact that I would get this fantastic little treat when visiting my grandmother. She always kept a large supply on hand, because she had 16 grand children, and every one of us were fans of these little cans of chocolate heaven. More times than I can even start to remember, my cousins and I would sit on her front porch indulging in the magic of those little cans of pudding while talking about important subjects of the day like He-Man, Transformers, and the latest issue of Batman.

 

When I was sick and out of school, that meant a day at Grandma’s to recuperate. And on those days, you were treated to not one, but TWO cans of Del Monte Chocolate pudding. One with lunch, and an extra one “just because” later in the afternoon. You pair those cans of pudding with some Tropicana orange juice out of its glass bottle, and a can of Chicken Noodle soup, you had a remedy for sickness better than anything a doctor could prescribe.

Nowadays, you can always run to the store to pick up a 4-pack of pudding in cheap plastic cups, but you’ll not find that incredible taste that you could enjoy when you popped a top on a can of Del Monte back in the day.

Wax Pack Flashback: Rocky II Trading Cards From Topps 1979

Rocky II Wax Pack

Rocky 2 Trading Cards

Rocky II Trading Cards

Rocky 2 Wax Pack

Rocky II Trading Cards