The Golden Palace: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot (Less) Like Christmas

Ah The Golden Palace. I wanted to love this show so so much, but let’s face it The Golden Girls just doesn’t work without Dorothy. I at least hope they had more fun filming it without the on-set tension. Plus I’m not sure I love the hotel vibe. There’s so much to do at a hotel that it makes me miss the days when the girls had more freedom to randomly star in school plays or spend all day watching I Love Lucy.

One other item of note before we get into the episode is that I totally forgot they re-recorded the original theme song for the spin-off. I’m definitely partial to the original, but this version isn’t bad either. In this Christmas episode, we hear the standard GG musical interludes but this time with a little sleigh bell action superimposed. It’s quite nice.

At the top of the episode we learn that the hotel’s chef, Chuy (Cheech Marin) hates Christmas because of a string of very bad Christmas luck, including: being drafted, getting divorced, having to be a walking display for a cake at a restaurant and having other humans eat directly from his body (I am so sorry that really needed some kind of warning).

Meanwhile, Rose coaches hotel manager, Roland (Don Cheadle) on how to be the perfect Santa Claus for the children’s hospital. She’s kind of a drill sergeant. It’s really great. She enlists Sophia’s help in a mock present request demo. But Sophia sexually harasses Roland, which yeah…this is uncomfortable. Let’s move on past it.

Next Roland must deal with a seminar full of people who have been traumatized by Christmas and will be staying at the hotel to avoid it entirely. Only no one seems to have told Roland this in advance and he’s now tasked with stripping the hotel of any reminders of the holiday season lest he loose out on a block of fifteen rooms.

Enter Rose: dressed as an elf, ready for some more Santa coaching. She doesn’t react too well to the idea of skipping Christmas. “I’m gonna wear my elf costume or I’m gonna walk around naked.” Blanche then explains that they can still have fun as long as they keep quiet. For example, she still plans to have her date with a Dickens caroler. (This is followed but a lot of Dickens inspired double entendres from which I will spare you.)

But Roland isn’t willing to take any chances. Rose has to ditch the costume and Blanche has to ditch the date. Chuy, as the only grinch, is the one staff member to be happy about the new hotel’s new anti-holiday stance.

That night Chuy awakens from a dream and is greeted by an angelic Rose a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Past.” That’s right. This is a Christmas Carol episode. Turns out those Dickens double entendres were some kind of weird foreshadowing. Chuy says, “You’re not really here. You’re just something I ate at Woodstock.” But of course we’re going on this journey whether or not you believe she’s real. Christmas Rose and Chuy travel to his father’s restaurant. The kitchen looks suspiciously similar to the Golden Palace’s kitchen. But don’t worry about that. It’s an in-show joke. Rose tells Chuy that if his father had an oven and a sink in his kitchen, then it’s close enough.

Here is a photo of young Chuy in the cake table costumer before the slices of dessert have been placed on the table cloth portions.

Oh GOD this is a flashback to the scene that Chuy mentioned earlier where he had to walk about the restaurant dressed as a cake. NO. Hard Pass. Chuy’s dad spins this as a “great honor” and grown Chuy appreciates this whole situation in a different way than young Chuy did. It’s all about “a warm friendly place to celebrate the holidays,” his dad says — which like yeah I get that but can you not do that with a regular table?

Adult Chuy magically returns to his room and Christmas Rose disappears, replaced by Christmas Blanche a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Presents.” (That is not a typo.) Christmas Blanche asks Chuy to tell her what presents he purchased for his coworkers this year. He tells her that he didn’t purchase anything for them.

Christmas Blanche leads Chuy to a walk-in freezer, which is the only place the guests cannot hear or see the Christmas celebration Chuy’s coworkers are having — which includes non-ghost Blanche. The non-ghost version of Blanche tells the others that they can’t open presents until Chuy gets there. Uh-oh. Christmas Blanche asks Chuy if he feels like a total jerk now and he agrees that he does. She then returns him to his bedroom where he meets Christmas Sophia a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.”

Christmas Sophia guides Chuy to a very dingy looking version of the hotel. Rose is scrubbing the floors in rags and we quickly learn that she, Blanche, and Sophia no longer own the hotel. We also learn that the new owner refuses to let anyone celebrate Christmas. Oh and also future Blanche is a spinster who abhors attention from men. We soon find out that Blanche swore off men after her ex-husband stole the hotel from them. Weirdly enough, her ex-husband is Chuy.

Christmas Sophia tells Chuy that he turned into a horrible person because he hates Christmas. Sounds like solid logic to me. Let’s move on. Future Rose begs Future Chuy to let them have a small Christmas celebration. He agrees as long as they let him dictate the festivities. Unfortunately, this involves forcing Future Sophia to wear the cake table and dance for them while everyone else claps along. I genuinely may have nightmares about this. Not even joking.

Thankfully, present day Chuy wakes up in time to stop this atrocity from happening. He hops out of bed and runs through the hotel yelling “Merry Christmas.” (Guess he forgot about the extra special request from that 15-room block.) When he cannot find his friends, he checks the freezer that Christmas Blanche led him to only to find they’ve all frozen to death. Wow. Dark. Luckily, this too is just a dream.

This is elder abuse.

A now fully awake Chuy rushes into the conference room and shouts “Merry Christmas” at a room full of traumatized seminar attendees. Chuy then engages in some sort of proselytizing. In the middle of his speech, we cut away to Rose drilling Roland on his Santa impression in the lobby. Then Chuy and the entire seminar rush into the lobby, full of holiday cheer. (Whatever Chuy said seems to have worked. Whatever it was.)

Then they all sing O Come All Ye Faithful and Estelle Getty breaks the fourth wall to wish the fans a Merry Christmas.

Very Special Christmas Lesson: I have honestly always found the people-as-tables thing to be disturbing and this furthered my view on that point. Anywayyyy, I guess the more positive message here is that it’s never too late to change. So let’s all carry that into 2021! Happy Holidays, Very Specials Readers!

How Is Your Quarantine Going? I’m Mainlining Gingerbread Houses.

Food Network’s Holiday Gingerbread Showdown has taken over my brain. If you need something to short circuit the anxious thought loops and pandemic stress — I highly suggest you drop everything and watch some gingerbreads STAT.

But here’s the thing! The free season on Hulu just was not enough. So I’ve turned to YouTube. And I’ve found some truly inspiring, VERY SPECIAL one might say, pieces that I am sharing with you below:

Pop Culture Holiday Gift Wrap

For optimal reading pleasure: play this song in another tab while you read this post.

The following is a holiday gift wrap round-up because I am OBSESSED. I couldn’t possibly require this much gift wrap, but I’m hoping this extensive list that nobody asked for will *inspire* you this holiday season.

Mean Girls Gift Wrap  Wrapping Paper  Present  Birthday  image 0
Mean Girls from Lucy Maggie Designs
Jeff Goldblum (And dinosaurs!) from Angie Beal Designs
Britney Christmas Wrapping + Gift Tag from Foggish
Die Hard 8-Bit from katdoesartstuff
Tom Selleck (and mustache!) from Angie Beal Designs
Christmas Movie Gift Wrapping Paper Home Alone Elf Grinch Wrap image 1
Christmas Movie Gift Wrap from Posh and Sparkles
Christmas Dolly Wrapping Paper & Gift Tag   Celebrity Xmas image 0
Holiday Dolly Christmas + Gift Tag from Foggish
Jane Fonda from Angie Beal Designs

And that brings us to the gift tags…

Friends TV Show Christmas Gift Tags Friendsmas Holiday Party image 0
Friends Gift Tags from Sincerely Susan VIP
Schitt's Creek Christmas Gift Tag Set of 8 image 0
Schitt’s Creek Gift Tags from Boxing Bear

Full House: Happy New Year

Joey hasn’t had a date in while, so Danny and Jesse decide to set him up with a lady. Really this shouldn’t be shocking because he’s a grown man who randomly lives in the basement of his friend’s house. On top of that, I’m not even sure that he has a job at this point in the show. But fine I’ll pretend to care about Joey for this episode.

But first, I’m obsessed with Stephanie’s outfit here, so please leave me a note in the comments if you see this jacket in an adult size. Thank you in advance.

Joey spends the afternoon calling everyone he’s been out with that year to see if anyone is free for New Year’s Eve. This is the 1990 equivalent of getting a “hey” text several months later from a guy you regrettably hooked up much earlier in the year and have since forgotten about. NOT that I’m speaking from experience.

Joey — sad that he has no date but apparently unaware of the negative effect his denim shirt with Babar appliqué has on his relationship status — offers to stay home with Michelle and Stephanie on New Year’s Eve, so that Danny, Jesse, and DJ can go to parties. This prompts Danny and Jesse to find Joey a date. This also marks the last point in the episode in which there is any semblance of ethical or personal boundaries between these three grown-ass men. Should be a fun episode!

The two of them decide to sign Joey up for a video dating service without him knowing. To trick him into sitting for the video, Danny calls Joey up to the attic, where Jesse has hidden a secret camera in an ad for toothpaste. (So I guess this is the point in the series where Jesse and Joey are writing jingles. My bad for calling Joey unemployed earlier on.) 

Danny and Jesse act super strangely, which freaks Joey out. He notices they’re “talking to the easel” but doesn’t see the big circular cutout in front of the camera lens. He endures the weirdness just long enough for Danny and Jesse to get what they need on tape. When they come clean, Joey is made for literally two seconds. When Jesse tells Joey there are plenty of women who want to meet him, Joey gets over the massive violation of his privacy pretty quickly.

The prospects aren’t great though. And what follows is a PG version of the club scene from Coming to America. But then we get to Christine’s part of the video. Her friends have signed her up for this for Christmas and she’s kind of skeptical about the whole thing. She seems cool, so Joey invites her over to the house for New Year’s Eve dinner. I mean, I would have told DJ that she couldn’t go to Kimmie’s party, but I guess it’s fine to bring a first date over to dinner when you’re a grown man babysitting…(And just so you know I’m not a total jerk, Joey only agreed to babysit in the first place because DJ wanted to bail on her babysitting plans and go to Kimmie’s party next door instead). 

Unfortunately, Joey’s gotten a little obsessed with the idea of Christine. He’s decided she’s “the one” based on a five second video in which she said literally nothing about herself. But they do appear to hit it off pretty quickly. She’s even fine with babysitting three kids.Oh yeah, I should mention that Danny’s date also left her son behind for babysitting. He’s creepy and has breath spray even though he’s like eight years old. Please see below: Steph has a pro-tip for dealing with this and I’m happy to share it with all of you – 

Everyone arrives home in time to ring in the New Year, and Joey proposes to Christine. Even more bizarrely, she says yes. They decide to pack and go get married in Tahoe. In the time it takes Christine to go home and pack, they both decide that they don’t want to get married.

Very Special Lesson for the New Year: Eh I mean honestly, it’s just one day. 

The Nanny: The Hanukkah Story

Happy fifth night of Hanukkah, Very Special Readers! Here we are in the final season of The Nanny. Fran is finally married to Maxwell, and she gets to host a Hanukkah celebration with her new family. Also this episode marks Ray Charles’s final appearance on the show–because Ray Charles had a recurring role on The Nanny???? You learn something new every day.

Sadly, Maxwell has to go out of town for business. CeCe is going too but she and her long-standing enemy, Niles are “in love” by this point in the show, so I’m glad to see her gone. (He gives her a lemon Pledge soaked handkerchief to remember him by because he’s a butler and evidently that’s his dominant personality trait in the relationship ughhh). And for some reason the youngest child, Grace, goes to Boston with CeCe and Maxwell. Is she like a theater producer in training? I have no idea. I’m only just now realizing that the last season of this show wasn’t great and evidently I haven’t seen many episodes of it.

Fran is very upset that her stepdaughter and husband have left town on the first night of Hanukah. We learn (via flashback where Fran plays a younger version of her mother) that It’s very important to her that they celebrate this night together because she never spent the holidays with her family as a kid.

Meanwhile, in the car to Boston everyone is crabby. We learn (again via flashback) that young Maxwell puts business before family because that’s what his father (played by grown Maxwell) did when he was a child. We also learn that young Maxwell and young Niles played together as children! (Mostly because Maxwell’s father was neglecting him but aw that’s still a cute backstory!)

Realizing his mistake, Maxwell decides to turn back. He phones Fran from the car to let her know he will be coming home for Hanukkah. While they’re on the phone, Fran hears Maxwell crash the car mid-blizzard. So what I’m trying to say is that this sitcom has dramatically increased the stakes with only ten minutes remaining, And no, this isn’t a two-parter.

Meanwhile back in the car, (it’s The Nanny, they’re obviously not injured you guys), CeCe tries to sing for entertainment. It’s not very pleasant and luckily we cut away quickly. Maxwell determines they have enough gas in the car to run the heat for an hour.

I suppose because they’re anxiously awaiting news or the return of Maxwell’s car — Fran and her best friend Val are waiting outside of the townhouse in the freezing cold. Fran prays to God for help and a nun appears. Fran assumings that God must have gotten confused because of her new last name (hehe).

Fran and the nun pray together and wow–I guess she was right to wait outside! — Maxwell appears! He actually had enough gas to run the car for eight hours and was able to make it all the way home. It’s a Hanukkah miracle! Literally and figuratively!

They end up celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on the second night. And then Ray Charles plays “Home for the Holidays.” I think he’s dating Fran’s grandma. Is that what’s happening here? Someone more familiar with this show, please weigh-in on the comments. Was Ray Charles even an actor? Was he just moonlighting on the The Nanny near the end of his life for fun? I need to know more about this odd turn in his career!!

 

The Magic School Bus Holiday Special

It’s the holidays and Ms. Frizzle’s class is sorting recycling! (This genuinely makes my heart glow). Liz the Lizard is even powering the sorting conveyor belt by peddling a bicycle — so this is an entirely green operation!

But Wanda is being kind of a grinch about the whole thing because she’s worried they won’t finish recycling in time for her to make it to the Nutcracker ballet performance. She even has a special nutcracker that she’s brought to school with her.

In her haste, Wanda drops the nutcracker on the classroom floor as they head to the recycling plant. Arnold mistakes the nutcracker for recycling (idk how) and puts it in a bin. (Cue the drama.)

At the recycling plant we meet Ms. Frizzle’s cousin, Murph. She’s voiced by the one and only Dolly Parton! As you probably know, Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Lily Tomlin so it’s like a very special mini-9 to 5 reunion! (Also, I did not know Ms. Frizzle’s first name was Val, so that’s kind of a fun fact.)

At the plant, Arnold dumps the nutcracker into one of the transportation bins. Wanda spots it just in time to see Murph drive away, which sets us off on a journey through recycling! Wanda’s nutcracker doesn’t fare so well. He’s smooshed up and turned into a pile of plastic pellets, which is strange because I thought Nutcrackers were made of wood. But evidently in this case, they’re made of recyclable plastic.

So now Wanda hates recycling…and she wishes that recycling had never been invented. (Careful what you wish for Wanda! Sounds like you would really like the Trump administration).

Luckily, this is a safe learning environment and not 2019 America, so Ms. Frizzle decides to show Wanda what the world would look like without recycling. Hint: there are no trees and the landfills are overflowing.

Wanda is a hot mess. She bangs on the bus (rude, since we know the bus is anthropomorphic) which sets off its anti-recycling ray — and un-recycles the bus. So basically it’s a pile of junk.

Luckily, Murph is there to show them how to recycle bottles and cans (at the landfill that used to be their school) in order to rebuild their bus from plastic pellets in a few short minutes! Idk if this is okay with child labor laws, but I guess they were in dire straights and really needed that bus back. Now that they have the bus back, Ms. Frizzle restores the recycled world!

Things work out for Wanda too because she uses what she’s learned about plastic pellet recycling to make brand new nutcrackers soldiers for herself and the entire class. (So I guess they were toy soldiers the whole time and not nutcrackers–whoops, my bad.)

I’ll let Dolly handle today’s Very Special Christmas Lesson:

A Very Special Shopping List for Your Holiday Season

Happy Cyber Monday! Have you already been shopping all weekend? Do you already have a robust list for all of your loved ones holiday gift needs? Are you wondering what niche gifts you can purchase for the pop culture fan in your life? Why check out Oprah’s Favorite Things when you can check out this fully curated list of random things that I think are cool for the holiday season?

To wear:

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Duckie and Andie pins, $16, Mondo

To read:

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Pop Culture Trash, $24.99, ModCloth

 

To write:

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HiFi Greeting Cards, $12.95, Chronicle Books

To decorate:

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Stranger Things Funko Pop Ornament, $4.95, Barnes & Noble

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Deck the Halls

MERRY CHRISTMAS, VERY SPECIAL READERS! I was at a 7.5 hour long Christmas party last night, so I’m late on this post but it is still Christmas! So not too late!

So Will discovers that his youngest cousin, Ashley, isn’t very into Christmas. All of her friends are out of town, so she’s decided to make Christmas break interesting by learning a new word each day. Will is obviously concerned that she’s missing out on childhood, so he decides to make Christmas super special for her. He makes her write a letter to Santa even though she’s 10 and doesn’t believe.

He’s particularly bummed about the post-modern crystal nativity set, in which the baby Jesus is abstractly represented by a tiny disc. When he finds out that his aunt and uncle pay a store in Beverly Hills to decorate their home for them every year, Will opts to head to the story, pick up the decorations, and deck the halls with Ashley himself.

At the store he finds one measly box of sad, pretentious decorations, so he leaves them at the story and goes off in search of reindeer-worthy decor. The house is less minimalist-chic and more completely covered in candy canes:

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It isn’t long before the neighbors calling to complain about the “blinking Frosty the Snowman.” And Will threatens to fight one of the callers. Soon, an angry mob forms on the lawn. Carlton wants to solve the problem by “writing a few checks,” but his father opts for a rational discussion instead.

Ugh. The neighbors are complaining about property value and how these Christmas lights are ruining that. They suck.

As it turns out, Evander Holyfield (played by himself) is the neighbor that Will threatened to fight…so he quickly pretends that he never spoke to anyone on the phone.

Just then, a group of kids ring the door bell and sing carols. They’ve been driving around, looking at Christmas lights, and decided to sing carols at this house because they felt like it had the best decorations.

Just then Ronald Reagan (not played by himself) stops by to tell everyone how much he loves the lights because Nancy won’t let him decorate their house. So you know, if the Gipper approves, then I guess all of the other trickle-down aficionados have to play along too.

Very Special Lesson: “Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!”

Full House: Our Very First Christmas Show

First of all, Happy Festivus everyone! I was so busy airing my grievances that I’m just now able to take a break and get this post up. I’m also didn’t bring my laptop with me because I didn’t want to haul it around in my luggage, so I was similarly delayed both by having to borrow a computer and my inability to remember my WordPress password.

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Okay, okay, let’s do this. The Tanners are taking a trip to Colorado and Stephanie does NOT want to go on the trip because Santa Claus won’t know where to find them. The obvious answer here is that there’s a lot of other magic kids buy into with Santa, so why shouldn’t he be able to track them down wherever they are? I mean the whole Santa figure is surprisingly omniscient: “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.” That’s creepy, creepy stuff, man. The whole myth is a major invasion of privacy and yet we’ve somehow romanticized it because we’re materialistic creatures who like to rip open shiny, glittering packages.

On the plane, they bump into Danny’s co-host and Jesse’s future wife: Rebecca Donaldson. Jesse immediately asks her out while they’re in Colorado, and she’s like “nah, I’m just changing planes in Denver.” Stephanie and DJ get upgraded to first class, where Rebecca is also sitting because I guess she got $$.

Back in coach, Michelle pets a man’s toupée because she mistakes it for a kitty cat. He makes her cry. This is an excuse for the guys to sing “The Girl From Ipanema.” However, a giant snowstorm (that I guess NOAA failed notice) forces them to make an emergency landing in a dinky little airport in the middle of nowhere. Steph freaks out because SANTA WON’T FIND THEM OMG.

DAVE COULIER;JOHN STAMOS;LORI LOUGHLIN;CANDACE CAMERON;BOB SAGET

So maybe now is a good time to be like, “Listen, honey. Christmas isn’t about presents. It’s about being stuck in an environment that you do not want to be in but you do it anyway because family.” Instead, they let her use the payphone to try to reach the North Pole.

But then we dive deeper into the realm of delusion because DJ (not knowing that the airline has lost the bag containing the gifts) decides to tell Stephanie that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer has radar in his nose. So then Danny has to do a little damage control and say that the radar in Rudolph’s nose doesn’t always work, so Santa might take a few days to find them.

Meanwhile, Michelle keeps trying to pet that toupée. They really should take this kid to see an actual cat because she’s getting some pretty confused thoughts about what they look like.

Joey decides to dress up like Santa to talk to Stephanie and explain the present situation. (Because you know he just travels with a Santa Suit ugh this guy wtf.) This completely backfires when Michelle recognizes Joey, but Stephanie doesn’t. Feeling betrayed, she retreats back to the phone booth. (Twenty years later, I would love to be a fly on the wall of Stephanie Tanner’s therapy session.)

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Sick of the whining about presents, Jesse decides to rally the stranded travelers into singing carols and decorating a coat rack like a Christmas tree. Stephanie does not participate because she’s still chilling in the phone booth.

Jesse and Becky kiss under the mistletoe (that just happens to be hanging over an airport coffee vending machine), setting in motion the wheels of their future romance. (Do you think she’d do it all again if she knew that she’d have to move in with his brother-in-law’s family and live in an attic with her babies?)

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Then the REAL Santa shows up. He makes the presents reappear and leaves them a note on an ancient laptop.

Stephanie tells everyone she saw Santa flying away outside and they’re like “huh?” but decide to go open the presents rather than INVESTIGATING FURTHER! Then Stephanie sees a personalized note that no one else sees. (Man, now I really want to be a fly on the wall at her therapy sessions.)

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Very Special Lesson: Everyone on this show is telling me that airport Christmas is the best Christmas ever, but I’m suspicious.

 

Home Improvement: A Frozen Moment

Home Improvement was VERY dedicated to the Christmas episode, featuring one in each of their eight seasons. This was features a Christmas village — not a a cute little village that your grandma has on a table for the holiday season but a real human-sized Christmas village.

Tim wants the Taylors to dress up in costumes and take their Christmas card photo in the Christmas village. He’d also like to make it spaced themed. “Manager on the Moon.” He finally wins Jill over when he promises that they can do it her way next year if she doesn’t like how this year’s photo, which he promises to keep “tasteful and simple.”

For Tim, “tasteful and simple,” seems to mean dressing his children like elves, his wife like a sexy Mrs. Claus, and donning a Canadian Mountie outfit for himself. Sadly, the snow machine malfunctions and crashes into their glass door.

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So Jill takes over the Christmas card from this point on. (P.S. This episode is *technically* a Thanksgiving episode, which makes sense because most people take Christmas card photos around that time.)

The Taylors spend Thanksgiving with Tim’s Tool Time co-host, Al, and his girlfriend, an orthodontist who makes this joke:
“What do you call an animal that’s white and hairy and shaped like a tooth? A molar bear!”

In the end, the Taylors compromise by taking a normal Christmas photo (no creepy costumes) in the Christmas village. Sadly, this time Tim makes TOO Much snow and it all falls off the roof of the village and all over them. Oh well.

Very Special Holiday Lesson: It was the 90’s. There was nothing wrong with going to Sears Portrait Studio. Why complicate things?