According to Biography, Patrick Swayze was first a dancer and gymnast before joining Disney on Parade as Snow White’s Prince Charming. From there, he moved to NYC but was unable to fully pursue a career in professional dance due to a knee injury. It was during his 1978 replacement role as Danny in Grease’s original Broadway run that the television and film industry began to take notice.
His first film credit was Skatetown, USA with Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick, and Scott Baio. The movie looks like the love child of The Warriors and Xanadu. I won’t subject you to a review of that movie (mostly because I don’t want to subject myself) but here’s a video of Swayze’s performance.
Swayze didn’t perform in another major motion picture until 1983’s The Outsiders. Between Skatetown, USA and The Outsiders, he made a handful of TV Movies, performed as a dancer in Toto’s “Rosanna” music video, and landed a guest starring role on a 1981 episode of M*A*S*H, “Blood Brothers.”
In this truly heartbreaking episode, Swayze plays an injured soldier with an even more injured buddy. Swayze spends most of the episode agonizing over whether or not his friend will pull through. Swayze and his pal are the same blood type (hence the episode’s title), so he volunteers to supply blood for his friend’s transfusion.
When he takes a blood sample, Hawkeye discovers that Swayze’s character has leukemia. Hawkeye and Honeycutt agonize over whether or not to tell him of their discovery, which is shocking to me. I didn’t grow up in the 1950s and have certainly never been in a MASH unit, but did doctors seriously not tell their patients things like that??????
The soldier becomes suspicious after a nurse takes several blood samples and Hawkeye tells him they’re moving him to Tokyo General. So Hawkeye finally comes clean.
It’s surprising that this is such an early film credit for Swayze because he seems so comfortable being vulnerable and raw in this episode. (Contrast this with Ted Danson’s fairly wooden performance on Laverne & Shirley around the same time.) And yes, Swayze certainly had a lot of performance experience from an early age in dance and, eventually, theater, but those mediums allow for a certain distance between the performer and the audience and require a different range of facial expression. That Swayze was able to transition between mediums so seamlessly, and seems utterly at rase with emoting to a camera lense in a tight shot, is truly remarkable.
Swayze’s soldier spends the entire night talking with the MASH unit’s priest and decides to stay by his friend’s bedside rather than go to Tokyo General for most-likely futile treatment. Swayze’s performance is made all the more poignant by his eventual real-life diagnosis with pancreatic cancer to which he would succumb in 2009.
Join me next week for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders.
After Mary struggles with insomnia three times in one week, so goes to a doctor who gives her a magic little pill that makes everything better. Lou is immediately concerned that she’s in some kind of Valley of the Dolls situation. She tells him it’s really none of his business, so he tells her that it is work related because he’s putting together a documentary “on the dangers of sleeping pills.”
Mary reassures Lou that she isn’t addicted and that she’s taken them for fourteen consecutive days without issues. Lou challenges her to try to go one night without taking them (because he’s damn sure she is addicted). I mean wow what a strange way to handle a health concern with your subordinate.
That night Mary tosses and turns. She finally breaks down and takes a pill. But she feels pretty crappy about this because it proves that Lou is right that she is, at the very least, reliant on the pills. The next morning, Mary lies to Lou and says she didn’t take the pill. So he heaps praise on her…until she finally admits she took the pill as he suspected all along.
According to Lou, getting over insomnia is easy. He says, “All that you have to do is make yourself go to sleep at night.” Oh boy, if only someone had told me this in my mid-twenties. Could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights!
Lou urges Mary to skip the pill that night and promises to come over if she needs support. When he doesn’t hear from her, he goes over to her apartment, and the super just straight up lets him into her place. When Lou enters Mary’s apartment, he notices the phone is off the hook. Fearing the worst, he frantically searches for her presumably lifeless corpse. But she’s really just in the bath, reading a book and drinking some milk. Yikes.
Mary is understandably upset that Lou is in her bathroom. But he gets offended because he was only worried about her and he isn’t a pervert, he just insists that she is a dope fiend. So my GOD there is NO reason to be OFFENDED. WJM should be counting their lucky stars it’s the 70’s and they don’t have an HR department because this justifiable lawsuit would surely put them under.
Murray barges, quickly followed by Ted (who is as oblivious as Lou). Murray at least has the decency to turn around and face the wall. Murray and Ted leave but Lou stays behind to make sure that Mary doesn’t take a sleeping pill. She’s understandably a bit agitated and tries to sneak pill behind his back. So he puts them down the garbage disposal.
Lou wraps Mary in an afgan, sits her down on the couch, and puts his harm around her. He tells her to breathe deeply and pretend she is asleep. He then says he will sing to her just as he used to sing all of his children to sleep. I’m having a full on panic attack at the thought of being in this situation, so I’m not sure how Mary is feeling. For the record, Ed Asner has a pretty decent voice though.
Against all odds, this actually works. Incidentally, this is the first time that Mary Richards, a woman in her late-thirties, has had anyone tell her that she snores. It’s never too late for some good old fashioned self-discovery.
Very Special Episode: Evidently, the cure for insomnia is an Ed Asner a capella album of Irish lullabies and a warm afgan blanket. For best results, exhaust yourself beforehand by moving into a building whose super will gladly let all of your coworkers into your bathroom without your permission.
First of all, I’m sorry. This episode is a real downer. (For once, I’m not being hyperbolic.) But it features the lovely Ted Danson and it feels right to post this as he embarks on yet another starring role in a TV series with tonight’s premiere of Mr. Mayor.
In this episode of Laverne & Shirley, we see a young Ted almost three years before he became everybody’s favorite bartender on Cheers. And I’ll be honest, he seems a little wooden. He’s still affable and charming, but you can see the inherent shyness that Ted describes having to overcome in order to portray Sam on Cheers. On Laverne & Shirley, he’s playing Laverne’s fireman boyfriend, Randy.
He’s just such a sweetheart who likes Laverne for her brains and her bod. He’s the total package. And did I mention he’s a fireman? (Okay, seriously you’ve been warned to bail on this post now if you don’t want to be very, very sad.)
Laverne and Randy are desperately in love. They’re both a little weird and they both can’t get enough of each other. They share milkshakes, they play with puppies at the fire station, and they even want to get married. Unfortunately, Randy doesn’t make it much farther than halfway through the episode. You see, this is a very special episode after all — which means it’s a total bummer.
Laverne hears the news of Randy’s death from Lenny and Squiggy (who have somehow become volunteer firemen). I think this show is supposed to be a lesson in denial, but I really can’t say I blame Laverne for not believing Lenny and Squiggy. How could anyone take these guys seriously?
The denial really kicks into high gear when Laverne won’t listen to Shirley either. Laverne keeps doing her hair and waiting for Randy to show up. The next morning, she’s still getting ready for Randy when her father arrives to try to get through to her. Laverne refuses to listen to her father, saying that Randy will only be dead if she believes it, which is not exactly how denial works. However, I understand we’re trying to cover a lot of ground in this twenty-five minute episode so broad brushstrokes it is.
Laverne’s dad finally gets through to her by reading from the morning’s newspaper, which describes how Randy died in the process of saving a family. He then describes how he went through the same stages of grief when Laverne’s mother died. This scene is strong even though the episode overall is a bit uneven.
Very Special Lesson: This episode feels a little unnecessarily cruel. Like damn that’s a lot of emotion in twenty-five minutes. This might even be worse than that time Growing Pains killed off Matthew Perry. At least we got a few episodes with him! However, I think it’s still better to have loved and lost Ted Danson than to never have loved him at all.
Long extolled as an example of thriving on your own, this episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show wonders just the opposite.
At the end of the workday, Ted, Lou, and Murray share a drink in Murray’s office. The conversation quickly turns to how great Mary is and how odd they find it that “a woman like Mary never got married.” They all start to consider the fact that she hasn’t met the right person and maybe there isn’t even anyone worthy of being married to her. (Wow, so so much to unpack there.) And then they all start to fantasize about being married to her.
Murray’s fantasy is first: A much younger Mary and Murray share an apartment where Murray writes poorly and Mary praises everything that comes out of his mouth. A very pregnant Mary then announces to Murray that she is with child. They’re both super excited. Murray then apologizes for being so self-focused that he didn’t notice his wife has a giant womb. He admits that he’s barely even seen her because she’s been working several jobs while he sits at home and writes all day. Mary then delivers their baby by herself in the bedroom while Murray continues to write. Wow! She’s SO great.
Ted’s fantasy is next: We see Mary and Ted on their wedding night. Mary is disturbingly horny for Ted. Underneath his dress shirt, Ted wears a t-shirt with a photo of his face on it because of course he does. Then fantasy Mary turns the tables on him. She won’t sleep with him. Even in his fantasy. Which is great. Then she leaves him. Alone. In his fantasy. Oh to be Ted’s therapist.
Lou’s Fantasy is Last: In Lou’s fantasy they’re about 95 years old and still working at WJM – TV News. In this fantasy, Mary receives a postcard from Rhoda who is still waiting for Joe to return (cringe). Another fun fact is that this fantasy occurs circa 2027 but the newsroom hasn’t changed at all in 50 years! All throughout this fantasy Mary keeps hinting about being blissfully happen except for this ONE THING. Finally, we learn that the one thing marry is upset over is that she and Lou have never consummated their marriage. Lou explains that he doesn’t have romantic or sexual feelings for her, which seems like something he should have mentioned earlier like probably before the wedding. But then Mary takes her hair down and wow old Lou has a change of heart!
At the end of the episode Mary walks into the office just as they’re all leaving. She’s returned early from a date. Lou and Murray both tell her that the guy would be very lucky to have her end up with him. Ted tells her she should be sure to sleep with him if they get married (yikes).
Very Special Bizzaro Lesson: Maybe I shouldn’t speak for all women, but I do find the thought of three of my male coworkers sitting around the office and fantasizing about sharing a life with me to be a very off-putting group activity. They’re definitely all respectful (except for Ted), but it would have been a great episode if just one of them had realized that Mary was better off alone than in any of the scenarios they imagined for her.
That’s the end of our Bizzaro Series to cap off a very bizzaro year! 2020 sure has been weird, but I am super grateful for all you Very Special Readers! One small silver lining of having so much time on my hands these days is that I’ve been able to brainstorm more ideas for this blog over the past few months than I have in the past few years combined. So stay tuned for more in 2021!
I never know quite how to feel about Charlie’s Angels. On the one hand, the premise is that these bright, capable women were pigeon-holed into menial tasks at their jobs based on systemic bias against their gender. After Charlie “took them away from all that,” they’re given complicated jobs where they use their keen intellect, physical training, and ability to think on their feet to catch high-powered criminals — largely flying under the radar because they are women. So in terms of subverting traditional expectations in the 1970s — hell yeah!
On the other hand, the show is 150% shot from the male gaze — Charlie only surrounds himself with hot babes after all — which puts one hell of a damper on everything I mentioned above. At the end of the day, I still love all of the actresses on this show and the sophisticated characters they created. And I hope that in the late-70’s that the men and boys who tuned in solely to check out the eye candy, left feeling like women were smart, competent, and good in a crisis.
I think a lot of men and women also tuned in not just for the eye candy. I happen to be one of them. And hey, I’m not against eye candy. I’m simply grateful to live in a time where people are slowly but surely becoming more thoughtful about how we all enjoy each others bodies. Okay, so that’s probably enough of a disclaimer about the series! I’m sure there are many scholarly articles you could find if you want to delve further into the contradictory themes around this show. But my feelings about the angels are largely positive, so let’s get to the episode!
Side note: I have a vague memory of seeing this episode in reruns as an eleven year old and it scaring the shit out of me, so this should be a fun trip down memory lane.
Fun Fact: This episode aired 42 years ago today!
We open with an ESP test at “The Rossmore Institute for Psychic Research.” Dr. Holden, the researcher in charge of the study warns that they are not using the scientific method for this study, so his reputation is at stake. (Well duh of course it is. It’s not a research study then. You’re just playing science! Ugh okay, sorry.) Anyway, there was some kind of “disruption” when they ran the study the previous night, so they’ve brought in Ms. Rossmore to observe the study.
A woman with long platinum hair and an all white dress is participating in a telepathic experiment — okay, I think this is what scared me immediately as a child. And no, I don’t have a lifelong fear of telepathy or blondes. It’s that she looks like the spooky girl from Watcher in the Woods.
Anyway, the blond woman gets possessed by an ethereal male voice, who speaks directly to Mrs. Rossmore. She recognizes the voice of that of her dead nephew and gets, understandably, freaked out. Luckily, she’s Bosley’s bridge partner so she has a direct line to the Angels.
Mrs. Rossmore describes her nephew Martin’s fatal motorcycle accident for the Angels and everything seems pretty straight-forward — except for the psychic possession. Bosley thinks that it’s junk science, but Mrs. Rossmore believes it’s real. She created the entire institute in order to reach out to Martin. So it sounds mostly like she’s there because Bosley is concerned…cause like honestly it sounds like this lady got what she was looking for.
It turns out she’s really just asking for the Angels to prove she’s right and reassure Bosley, so they can continue to play bridge in peace. The whole situation is even more suspicious because ghost-Martin suddenly appeared after Mrs. Rossmore threatened to cut off payment to the study (cause they weren’t getting any results). Anyway, the Angels will be going undercover at the institute: Kris as a researcher and Sabrina as the subject of her research. (Stay tuned for what Kelly’s job in all this is, I guess?)
As they drive onto the grounds, Sabrina tells Kris to stop the car. She points out the tree that Martin crashed into (yikes, that’s macabre). On a lighter note, let’s look at Kris’s great researcher outfit. Love the neutrals and big glasses.
In order to prove that she has a “special gift,” Sabrina tells Dr. Holden that she “senses” someone was killed on the grounds. He is immediately impressed. You know, cause there’s absolutely no way she could have gotten that information in any other way.
To further legitimatize her psychic abilities, Sabrina alerts Dr. Holden that he is about to receive a phone call. It turns out to be Mrs. Rossmore, which makes him trust Sabrina as he believes that she could have coordinated the call with someone else but not Mrs. Rossmore. (Surprise, surprise, she did coordinate it with Mrs. Rossmore.)
Now that they’ve proved their legitimacy, the Angels are able to watch the next experiment in person. But this time Martin doesn’t posses the blonde woman. Instead he’s just a disembodied voice that yells at her. It’s spooky. He also appears to attack her because they next thing you know, she’s flying out of the chair. But it’s hard to say for sure because we cannot see Martin, of course. Oh but wait…okay…she’s dead. All right, the stakes of this investigation are higher now. Martin is spooky spooky spooky. And also now this is a locked room mystery, guys!!!!
Meanwhile back at the office, Kelly reveals that they dead woman (Kathy) was using a fake last name at the institute. She agrees to investigate her while Bosley finds out everything he can about Martin.
Sabrina and Kris work out a special code, so they can prove to Dr. Holden that Sabrina should participate in the study. She selects enough of the right “ESP cards” (usually the same one that Kris has selected but not always) in order to prove she has psychic abilities but not enough to show that they’re operating off of a code — what??? I don’t know anything about this ESP research stuff, but it would seem like either you have ESP or you don’t. Am I supposed to believe there is a faulty connection between cards sometimes? Well anyway, it’s enough to convince Dr. Holden that they Sabrina can be part of the study.
Cut to: Kelly investigating Kathy. She’s not undercover so she can just be herself and poke around and ask directly about Kathy’s background. Kelly goes to the set of a television show and speaks to a man named Peter, who is also a psychic and previously worked with Kathy. She learns from Peter that Dr. Holden is a skeptic who may not really believe in ESP.
Back at the institute, one of the research subjects has taken an interest in Kris. They take a walk on the grounds and he talks about the heavy emotional weight of having ESP. Every object he touches is embedded with memory and feelings and ugh it sounds horrible. He touches Kris’s arm and gets a vision of her at the police academy. OMG!!!!
Kelly continues to search for the truth about Kathy and in the process uncovers her grandmother. She owns an antique store and does not approve of Kathy’s interest in the paranormal. She also reveals that Martin was Kathy’s boyfriend!!!! Suddenly there is a spooky rattling in the shop. A mirrors crack, things fall off the wall, and the television explodes!
It’s like an earthquake almost, but Kelly is sure that it wasn’t. She hypothesizes that Kathy was a true believer, but Bosley suggest she might have simply been part of a plan to swindle Mrs. Rossmore. They all agree that someone must have double-crossed her…but it’s still a locked room mystery so no movement on who or how.
Kris tells everyone about her interaction with the man who had a vision of her at the academy. Kelly points out that he wasn’t around when Kathy was murdered…so maybe he’s the murderer? But there’s not enough to go on yet, so Bosley continues to dig into Martin’s past.
This includes learning that Martin may have set fire to a bunch of church choir robes because some other boys made fun of him when his voice changed. He may have also tried to drown a girl at a picnic as a child because they were fighting over a sandwich. This is really starting to sound like The Bad Seed.
Bosley finds over a dozen people that paint a pretty damning picture of Martin and his lack of moral compass. But Mrs. Rossmore still refuses to believe that he was a piece of shit. She sentimentally plays Bosley some of the casette tapes he used to send her with life updates from college (because he didn’t like writing letters). We then come to learn that Martin dropped of out college and used his tuition money to buy his motorcycle. Mrs. Rossmore argued with him over this, which was right before his accident. Mrs. Rossmore blames herself for his death.
Bosley convinces her to run the experiment again so that they can hopefully determine how Kathy was murdered. Mrs. Rossmore asks the psychic that Kelly met with earlier to run the experiment with Sabrina. He’s reluctant but Mrs. Rossmore insists because she is “stubborn as old ketchup,” which is apparently a phrase some people used at one point in time.
Everyone is confined to their rooms at the institute prior to the experiment. Kelly gets assigned to Martin’s old room. And Kris’s ESP crush comes to visit her in her room. ~ooooooh~
He tries to warn Kris to abandon the experiment. He says that he knows she and Sabrina are fakes and he doesn’t believe that Martin is a ghost. He’s afraid something bad will happen and thinks they should call the experiment off before anyone else gets killed.
In Kelly’s/Martin’s room the glasses on the bedside table start shaking just like everything in the antique shop did earlier. Kelly breaks the “stay in your room” rule to go find Kris. The both go to Sabrina’s room, but she there. Peering out the window, they see a motorcycle racing through the grounds.
It turns out Sabrina isn’t in her room because she’s busy searching the house. In the basement she finds a bunch of electrical wires rigged up to a sound system.
Meanwhile, Kelly and Kris find Bosley and tell him that Sabrina isn’t in her room. While outside of Bosley’s room they all hear Martin’s ethereal voice again (which we know is Sabrina messing with the sound system).
Cut to: a very confused, Bosley, Kris, and Kelly in the viewing area of the experiment room. Sabrina speaks to them from a booth and tells them she knows how the murder was committed.
Surprise! She’s actually right behind them! The Sabrina in the booth is actually a video recording! Sabrina has deduced that Kathy and Peter were working together when Peter double-crossed her by playing a pre-recorded version of his part of the scam, so he could sneak off and kill her during the experiment. Remember earlier how I said she flew out of her chair? She probably saw Peter at the door tried to run out and away from him to no avail.
While Sabrina waits for Peter to start the experiment, we seem him pull this same trick again. He accesses a hidden compartment in his booth and initiates the tape recording via remote control. He has also hidden a buzzer in this same compartment, which unlocks the door to both his booth and the adjoining booth (formerly Kathy’s and now Sabrina’s). Moments later he has Sabrina held hostage at gun point.
But it’s Sabrina we’re talking about here, so she manages to beat the shit out of him even though he’s armed. He takes off running and winds up pinned against the very tree Martin hit because the ghost motorcycle is back and headed straight for him! Hello 1970s version of the Headless Horseman!
This gives Sabrina and the other angels time to chase him down. And as it turns out, it’s Bosley who is riding the motorcycle. He found it stashed on the grounds during all the commotion. Peter was presumably the man riding it earlier, which explains why he didn’t hear the recording Sabrina was playing earlier in the evening. If he had been in the house, he would probably have gotten out of there before even running the “experiment.”
Back at the office, the Angels discuss how everything was a scheme for Peter to take over the institute. Bosley says that ESP is all a fraud, but Kris’s ESP friend is there (probably cause he loveeees her) and shares a secret of Bosley’s that no one else knows. So I guess it is legit after all! (Or Kris’s new friend is a creepy stalker. Yikes!)
Anyway, I have to say I loved this episode so freaking much. Solid 10/10. And I’d say it’s actually an episode that subverts a lot of the trope issues I have with otherepisodes. This felt like a spooky, grown up Nancy Drewand The Ghost of Blackwood Halland it was fabulous.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Truly what I learned here is that I need more pantsuits. But also that I would probably never lock myself in an adjoining room with that of a known murderer.
Merry Christmas Eve, Very Special Readers! I will keep things short today with this sweet little episode from Happy Days‘s first season.
Howard Cunningham has some VERY serious Christmas rules. No one can be in the house except for family and no one can start trimming the tree until he is ready. He freaks out when he thinks someone has tried to start decorating without him, but it turns out that it’s just a rogue sock from a laundry basket.
In a rare appearance, we see Chuck Cunningham as the sock’s owner. But it’s like they were already writing him out:
I forgot that Howard Cunningham owned a hardware store. He and Richie are at the store’s holiday party (where an employee is so drunk he literally passes out. Woah, Happy Days!) Sadly, Howard’s car breaks down on the way home. But on the bright side, Fonzie is still at the shop and can fix it for them. Fonzie won’t let him pay for the job since it’s Christmas. As they head home, Richie realizes he forgot to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench). He heads back to give Fonzie the gift and sees him eating Christmas dinner alone. Richie doesn’t want to embarrass Fonzie, so he turns back to the car without giving him the gift.
Richie tries to tell his dad when he gets back in the car, but Howard is SOOO excited for family time that he doesn’t tell his dad about Fonzie until the get home. Howard is still reluctant because it’s “family time,” but he realizes what an ass he sounds like as he lectures his family on why they shouldn’t invite someone in to share their Christmas.
So Howard and Richie head over to Fonzie’s to invite him over. He tries to fake them out like he’s going to visit his cousin and is going to miss his bus. The whole thing is so pathetic. Howard ties to help Fonzie with his suitcase only to discover it is empty. And Fonzie dismisses the presumable emptiness of his suitcase by saying, “I travel light.”
Trying not to hurt Fonzie’s pride, Richie tell him that he just wishes he would wait to go to his cousin’s until in the morning because he really wants them to see their great Christmas tree. To which Fonzie replies, “I got a tree.” And it’s like the saddest tree this side of Peanuts.
Earlier in the episode, we saw Fonzie give gifts to all of the waitresses at Arnold’s, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph. But no one had anything in return to give to Fonzie. (I guess we can assume that Richie picked something up at the hardware store receiving Fonzie’s gift at the diner.)
They finally get him to spend Christmas with them without insulting him, but telling him that they need him to fix the Santa on their lawn. It has some kind of electrical problem this year and it’s a very important tradition. By the time he has fixed Santa (and their Christmas tree lights), Fonzie has missed the last bus. So they’re all like well, guess you have to stay here. Ever prideful, Fonzie still resists. And then Howard “Family Time” Cunningham is like hey let me drive you!
And then Fonzie (who obviously really wanted to stay) is like oh man, it’s snowing too hard. It would be wrong for me to make you drive me. And then Marian is just like finally done with all this crap and she tells Fonzie that he is staying and that’s the end of it.
But the best part is when Howard lets Fonzie take over all of the Christmas traditions. Fonzie wants to do EVERYTHING and Howard gladly passes the baton. He realizes how fortunate he is to have such a lovely family and he’s finally happy to share that with someone outside of it.
And if you’re not in tears when Howard asks Fonzie to say grace and all Fonzie says is, “Hey God,” you’re literally the grinch. I’m like sobbing right now.
Very Special Holiday Lesson: I mean this is the same lesson as Sabrina‘s episode, but this one made me cry. Brb. Crying.
This is one of my FAVORITE Christmas episodes ever. I am SO glad you voted for it.
In this episode, Carol Brady comes down with laryngitis just before she is supposed to sing a solo at the church Christmas service. She’s been so busy getting ready for Christmas that she’s worn herself out. But being the great husband that he his, Mike tells her to follow the doctor’s orders and take it easy. It’s their “first family Christmas together” (awww) and he promises that he and the kids will take care of everything. Carol just needs to rest her voice and get some sleep before the service.
They try every remedy known to man, including a smelly home remedy from Alice’s grandmother, which consists of placing a towel soaked in a vinegar-solution around Carol’s neck. Nothing works.
When Mike takes the kids to finish their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, Cindy decides to ask the one person who can do something about this drug-resistant laryngitis. Santa Claus.
They arrive to a very long line of children waiting to see the big man. Cindy insists that she can wait in the line by herself. Since he needs to exchange Carol’s gift (which would have been a poorly timed voice recorder), Mike let’s her wait alone. He arrives to pick her up just as an elated Cindy hops off of Santa’s lap.
Cindy runs up to Mike and let’s him know that Santa has promised to make sure Carol can sing at the Christmas service. It’s 1969 so television won’t let him say this, but Mike’s face clearly says, “Oh shit, as if I didn’t have enough to deal with right now. He tries to play it cool.
“Oh honey, how could he do that? He’s not a doctor,” he says.
“He’s better than a doctor. He’s Santa Claus,” says Mike.
Oh shit is right, Mike.
Mike goes “backstage” to the Santa break room and is like, “Dude what gives” (but like in 1969 Brady language.) Promising to give kids toys is one thing, but promising miracles is another. And the guy basically says he doesn’t want to disappoint her and just wanted to make her happy. So Mike’s like ughhhh I have to deal with THIS on Christmas morning.
But there are other things to deal with this Christmas Eve, like hiding presents. Since they’re Brady’s, they all rush around hiding presents for each other instead of just leaving them under the tree like normal people.
In the middle of the night, the four eldest Brady kids meet downstairs and decide to postpone Christmas because Carol is sick. Alice finds them in the midst of their discussion and says they might as well return the presents, take down the tree, and throw away the turkey. But that might be A MAJOR BUMMER since their parents planned this whole freaking Christmas for them. And then they’re like okay, just kidding.
On Christmas morning, Carol wakes up humming “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” (Oh, of course she does). SHE CAN SING!!!! In honor of this beautiful talent that we lost this year (F.U. 2016) I’ll end with Florence Henderson singing one of my favorite Christmas hymns:
Every year Ralph has a Halloween party and every year a gang called The Demons crashes it and destroy it. So this year he’s decided to have it at a creepy old house where The Demons will never find him. He sends Richie to check out the house and make sure that it is spooky enough for the party.
On his way home from taking Joanie to a “Chipmunks” meeting (which I guess is kind of like “Brownies”), Richie stops to check out the house. Joanie has heard plenty of stories about people getting their heads chopped off in that house, but she reluctantly follows Richie in when he refuses to leave her outside by herself. When a painting falls off of the wall above the mantel, Joanie flees to the porch. Alone in the house, Richie thinks he sees a headless body. He confides in his father when he gets home, but Howard tells him that it must be his mind playing tricks on him.
Uh okay. You don’t even want to maybe call the police? Just in case?
When the time comes for the party, Richard is all freaked out about a potential ghost. Dude, if you find a headless body in an abandoned house, you should be freaked out about a potential serial killer. But I guess the 1950’s were a more innocent time.
Richie and his date arrive at the party to find that they are the only ones there. And it is SPOOKY. But then Ralph pops out of a coffin and blows some bubble gum. Then the rest of the party pops out from behind some pocket doors.
Everything is fine until the lights go out later on in the night. But it’s just Ralph fooling around again. Richie calls him out on it and Ralph gets pretty pissed that Richie ruined his prank. So he goes over to talk to Potsie. He taps him on the shoulder mid-dance, so Potsie thinks he’s trying to cut-in. But Ralph just wants to talk, so Potsie tells his dance partner to go make him a sandwich. Literally. Ohhhh the 70’s/50’s.
Since they can’t just let their friend be happy dancing with his date, Potise and Ralph ask Richie to get some root beer from the closet–where of course they have rigged a headless dummy to freak him out. The whole party laughs at Richie, but when another headless figure descends the stairs and threatens to chop of their heads, they’re all legitimately frightened. Richie is the only one brave enough to confront the headless figure. And it turns out that it’s just The Demons! Ha-ha.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Apparently, you can just spend a ton of money on a party in an abandoned house and that’s totally not considered trespassing. Also, it will probably be pretty clean and have electricity.
Feeling like you’re an old fart who will never achieve physical greatness since you didn’t start gymnastics at the age of 4 because it looked painful when your mom took you to observe a class in the church gym and thus by the time you realized that Dominique Moceanu’s 1996 floor routine was your life’s goal it was already too late? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even better, there’s hope. All you have to do is make it to Senior citizenship.
But first, the greatest theme song of all time:
In an effort to emerge triumphant in a love triangle, Fred enters the Senior Olympics. He’s determined to best his romantic rival in the Decathlon. Grady acts as his coach, while his son Lamont is baffled that someone who cannot even go for a long walk is going to compete in a Decathlon. (See, hope for all of us.)
Unfortunately, things don’t start off well. Fred cannot complete one push-up and he refuses to jump rope. I don’t think he’s missing out on too much training here though because Grady’s version of jumping rope is throwing the rope to the ground and stepping over it. They quickly move on to Discus, but they don’t have a discus so they have to use a hubcap. Fred does pretty well with the hubcap. I’d like to think I would too, but I know how poorly I do with a frisbee…
Next it’s time for the 50 yard sprint. I’m not sure how long it takes him because Grady forgets to time it, but Fred looks pretty worn out. Yet in true Olympian fashion, he must go on even when all the odds seem stacked against him. Even though his girlfriend tells him he doesn’t have anything to prove, Fred decides to compete.
And it all pays off. Fred sweeps the gold in every single category at the Senior Olympics. He’s also the only person who showed up to compete. But that’s beside the point! Fred’s rival drops by and they decide to arm wrestle for the goal. Fred wins but “sprains” his opponent’s arm in the process. This of course sets up a perfect Florence Nightingale situation and Fred is left alone yet again. Oh well buddy, can’t win em all.
Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) is having a bad day. He appears to be going through opiate withdrawal. But he tells the rest of the “sweat hogs” that he’s just groggy because he’s taking some pills that the doctor gave him for a knee injury.
Then his friends find him in the bathroom taking pills out of his shoe. (They’re in a manila envelope, fyi. He’s not taking dirty-foot pills.) He claims they are vitamins that the doctor gave him to help with “grogginess.” Well, I think we all know what kind of vitamins these are.
Freddie is obviously high in class, so Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) decides to confront him about it. And let me just say, Gabe Kaplan is like the worst actor to attempt a dramatic scene. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is dancing in circles around Gabe Kaplan’s skills and they are so incredibly mis-matched that the whole scene is weirdly flat. He’s obviously incapable at helping Freddie, so the sweat hogs decide to take matters into their own hands.
Their master plan is to pretend like they are all also on drugs. Interesting approach. For a bunch of inner city kids, they sure seem like they’ve never seen anyone on drugs before. Their bizarro drug imitation works on Freddie for about 5 seconds until he realizes that they’re just being weird. So when that didn’t work, Arnold decides to do some like weird acrobatics. He plans to jump from Mr. Kotter’s classroom window to the window across the courtyard.
And that’s when they realize that Arnold isn’t pretending to be on drugs. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS ARNOLD THOUGHT THAT FREDDIE WAS ACTUALLY TAKING VITAMINS. THIS IS THE EXACT PLOT OF FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR: JUST SAY YO.
Very Special Lesson: You guys, Fresh Prince totally ripped this off. Like is this plagiarism? Does the world already know about this?