Tag: 80’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

Up All Night: The Fall Guy

Up All Night

Welcome back to the Up All Night Theater!  Tonight, I had a hankering for some classic 80’s tv, and the show in particular I’ve been craving is The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors.  So without further ado, here are a few episodes for us to binge on and kill a few hours with tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Monday – Week of August 20

 

Music Monday

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending August 20th, 1983

  • For the third week in a row, the top three songs remain unchanged.
  • David Bowie’s “China Girl” is slowly climbing the charts. It’s a song that he recorded with Iggy Pop in the mid 70’s when they were both spending time in Berlin. Iggy recorded it for his 1977 album The Idiot. It’s a very different sounding version of the song and, I dare say, Bowie’s version is better. While many people thought the song was about drugs, Iggy has stated it is a metaphor about his career with the Stooges.

Up All Night: Garfield in Paradise (1986)

Up All Night

 

Welcome back to the Retro Rambling’s Up All Night Theater!  We’ve been on a summer kick here during these dog days of August, and we roll on with that theme again tonight.  But this time, we’re presenting an animated selection.  Garfield had a lot of tv specials through the years, and this one was one of my favorites.  Garfield and family head to Hawaii for quite an adventure, and if you’ve never seen this one before, hold on tight.  Let’s get to it!

Drop some thoughts and a rating in the comments section below.

 

Up All Night: Computer Beach Party (1987)

Up All Night

 

Welcome back to Retro Rambling’s Up All Night Theater!  We’re keeping the summer theme going for a little while longer since it’s still August and all, and tonight’s selection is another cheesy 80’s B-Movie.  Tonight, we’re showing Computer Beach Party from 1987.  It’s about some greedy locals are trying to turn some beach property into a tourist attraction, and a computer expert sets out to use is knowledge of computers–along with the help of several local “beach bunnies”–to stop them.

As usual, it’s no fun watching alone, so drop some thoughts and maybe your rating in the comments section.  Let’s get this summer show on the road!

 

Forgotten Food: Fast Food Edition

 

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written before, then you already know that I associate nostalgic feelings and memories with food more than any other subject.  I’ve written several pieces in the past diving into the subject, and today, I’m going a little deeper.  This isn’t going to be like the mega post, Back When Pizza Hut Was an Experience, or an angry diatribe like Why Wendy’s Ain’t Like It Used to Be.  No, this is going to be some quick hits about some old fast food choices that I loved, but are no longer available.  As you also know, there are plenty more foods that I miss, but for today, let’s just hit these bygone classics.


 

McDLT

The McDonald’s McDLT gets mentioned on it’s fair share of fondly remembered foods list, and for good reason. Of all the great, and horrible, things to ever grace the menu of McDonalds, the McDLT was one of the best items they created.

It was a burger in similar size as Burger King’s Whopper sandwich, and featured mostly the same ingredients. A quarter pound beef patty, lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese, pickles, and ketchup on a toasted sesame seed bun. The beauty of the McDLT though was it’s packaging. It came in one of McDonald’s signature styrofoam containers. But this one was slightly different. It featured two separate compartments instead of one.

On one side, the bottom bun and burger patty rested, while on the other was the rest of the toppings and the top bun. This allowed the hot parts to remain separate from the cold parts until you were ready to put it together and eat. And that was the brilliance of it all. A fresh tasting McDLT when the hot patty met the cold toppings.  What I could never figure out though, was why the slice of cheese was included on the cold side.  To me it would have made much more sense to put it on top of the patty on the hot side so it could get all melty.  But apparently, I’m not a genius like the burger builders at McDonald’s.

It was released in the early 80’s to much fanfare, but was eventually pulled in 1990 due to pressure from environmental groups protesting their use of the styrofoam containers. Once the divided container was gone, so was the magic of this burger. It was later re-released as the Big ‘n’ Tasty burger, but without the separated ingredients, the burger fell flat.

 

More Forgotten Food  |  The Time McDonald’s Tried to Sell McPasta

 

When I first discovered it as a kid, I was at the age where I was getting a little old for Happy Meals, and found the McDLT to be a perfectly acceptable replacement for it. I’m guessing it was basically the novelty of it that turned me on to it, but it was a great burger in it’s own right so that kept me coming back for more.

As a side note, McDonald’s lost a little luster to me with the fall of those original containers. Each container was a different color to represent what was held inside, and even the McNuggets had a little compartment built-in to hold the sauce cup. I understand the environmental impact and agree with the decision to stop using them, but dang, they looked cool, and figure prominently in my memories of McDonald’s and childhood in general.

The timing of the fall of the McDLT kind of lines up perfectly with my ascent to teenager from childhood.  Maybe that’s why it holds such a special place in my memories, and why I miss it so.


Hardee's Patty Melt

Back in 1992, Hardee’s stumbled across a major hit when it introduced it’s now legendary Frisco Burger.  They combined grilled sourdough bread (in a round slice) with a 1/4 lb burger patty, two slices of Swiss cheese, bacon, mayo, and tomatoes and turned them into a culinary masterpiece.  After strong sales upon release, they were looking to duplicate that success. Enter the New York Rye Patty Melt.

Introduced roughly 4 months after the launch of the Frisco burger, the New York Patty Melt was the heir apparent to their first hit.  Unfortunately, it was not to be. Sales of the Patty Melt didn’t come close to those of the Frisco burger, and it was dropped from the menu about 6 months after it’s introduction.  But man, that was a great six months.

The New York Rye Patty Melt borrowed from its famous cousin and used a regional favorite bread by using New York Rye.  Sliced the same way as the Frisco (round), it too was grilled and paired with a 1/4 lb beef patty. A layer of melted cheese, along with soft grilled onions finished off this burger.  Like most kids, I wasn’t a big fan of onions, but on this burger, they fit right in. But for me, the real star of this taste sensation was the rye bread. I had never had it before, but this burger moved the bread up my list of favorites in a hurry.

As is the case when doing a piece like this, I was quite disappointed when I went to order it one time only to be told that it was no longer available.  If my Father hadn’t been standing there beside me, my fourteen year old self may have let out a string of curse words aimed in the cashier’s direction. Luckily however, the Frisco Burger was still available, and it ranked pretty high on my list back then too.  But for me, the Frisco Burger was always the Sundance Kid to the New York Patty Melt’s Butch Cassidy.

These days, the Frisco Burger is still on the menu, and since it has been a top item for over 26 years, Burger has gotten in on the action with their Bacon Swiss King burger.  If you would happen to be wondering how it compares to the original Frisco burger, you can check out the comparison video my daughter and I filmed for her food review Youtube channel.


Chilito

Ah, the Chili Cheese Burrito from Taco Bell.  A lot of people in this world only know it by that name, but back in my day, it was known as “The Chilito”.

It featured chili flavored beef, Taco Bell’s iconic red sauce, and melted cheese rolled up in a soft flour tortilla and would run you anywhere from $0.69 to $0.99, depending on the time frame when you enjoyed them.  For me, that time frame was the mid-90’s after I started driving. My friends and I on small budgets, due to part-time jobs, would load up on these due to their cheapness on nights of cruising around.  Way back then, you could count on Taco Bell to deliver the goods, not only in taste, but in value as well.

 

More Forgotten Food  |  KFC’s Modern Chicken Littles Have Nothing on the Originals From the 1980’s

 

Taco Bell had these available from the late 80’s through the early 90’s before discontinuing them as a regular menu item.  Some franchises decided to keep them however, and you can still find them on the menu in roughly 12% of Taco Bell stores nationwide.  A while back though, while traveling in North Carolina, I was in a Taco Bell that had a poster up celebrating the triumphant return of the Chilito.  Unfortunately though, I didn’t even notice the poster until I had already placed my order.  Maybe I should have placed a second order, with which I might could have recaptured that magical taste and feeling of the Chilito.  Or, maybe I would have been disappointed by this newer version at a much higher price.  I decided to let things be, and wait until another time to sample the modern Chilito.  I still haven’t, and am not sure I should.  Sometimes the memories are better than what you find today.

Now, at least I stop at just writing about missing the Chilito, but here’s a dude who wrote a whole song about Taco Bell taking it from the menu:


McDonald's Super Hero Burger

Historically, the Big Mac has always been the largest burger on McDonald’s menu.  But for one glorious month in 1995, it played second fiddle to the Super Hero Burger.  With it’s 3 (that’s right, 3!) burger patties on a hoagie length bun, with two different slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo….this sucker was a monster.

The Super Hero burger had two promotional tie-ins attached to it.  First and foremost, it was available during the release of the movie Batman Forever, and Batman, Robin, Riddler, and Two-Face all figure prominently in the advertising spots for this burger.  Secondly, 1995 was the year that McDonald’s released a different burger every month, and this was the Burger of the Month.

I was driving by this point in life, so that meant I spent a fair amount of time “cruising” through town.  Most nights, a stop by the local Mickey D’s was how we ended our night, and for that month that this super burger was on the menu, it was what we ordered.   We probably could have kept this item on the menu all by ourselves based on how many of them we consumed, but as expected, when the month ended, so did the Super Hero Burger.  Alas, another fast food item was added to my list of fondly remembered food from back in the day.

I’m not the only super fan of the Super Hero Burger, and someone over at DudeFoods.com got tired of waiting for McDonald’s to bring it back, so they tried their hand at creating their own.  You can watch the video here.


In closing, I want to say that I’m thankful to have even gotten to try all of these items in the first place.  My dad would take us out to eat on the weekends when he was in town, and that provided ample opportunity to indulge in so many great menu items from a variety of places.  And as the saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.

So tell me, what extinct fast food items do you miss and wish was still around?  What memories do you associate with them?  We all have a story, and I would love to hear yours!  Just drop me a line in the comments below, and tell me that story.  Heck, I probably have memories of YOUR favorite too.  Also, did you have any experiences with the items on my list above?  Tell me that too!  The next time I talk about food here, it’ll probably be about dining experiences that no longer exist, or my favorite snacks, or something else of the sort.  But until that time comes, hit me up in the comments below, or on Twitter @yesterdayville.

Music Monday – Week of August 13

 

Music Monday

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending August 6th, 1983

Not much happening this week on the chart. The Police still have a lock on the #1 spot and the Eurythmics are still holding steady at #2…