Tag: 90’s TV

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.


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