The Golden Girls: A Primer

By now, I assume you have all heard the exciting news that Hulu will begin streaming all episodes of The Golden Girls on Monday, February 13th!

My initiation to The Golden Girls began as a wee eleven year-old. The entire 6th grade had a gigantic multi-month long project that called for us to create “poetry notebooks.” Basically, we were making our own poetry anthologies and had to fill gigantic binders with poems that met certain stylistic benchmarks. We also had to write like four or five of our own poems to fit certain stylistic benchmarks. AND it was like 90000% of your grade (well, maybe math wasn’t my strong-suit, but I digress). So every Sunday morning, I would watch The Golden Girls in syndication as I worked on my poetry notebook. I watched a crap ton of The Golden Girls. It elevated my sense of humor to levels I never thought previously possible and thus I now sit here and proselytize to you.

But I understand that many of you are adults (UGH!) with jobs (YUCK!) who can’t watch television all morning long while filling a binder with retyped Emily Dickinson on the pretty printer paper from Office Depot (CRYING SADFACE EMOJI) and also maybe haven’t already seen every episode of The Golden Girls (EDVARD MUNCH’S THE SCREAM EMOJI). Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

7 Seasons of a show can be a little daunting, even for the most seasoned of TV junkies. As you make your way out on the lanai this Galentine’s Day, you may want to visit these 12 episodes of The Golden Girls first:

mv5bnzkxmjm4mtgwmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtk5mjyzmze-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_“The Way We Met” – This episode from the end of the first season’s run has ALL of the backstory on how the girls met and became roommates. It is a great place to start if you want to learn a little about each character and figure out how the heck they all wound up together.

“Dorothy’s Prized Pupil” – Okay, okay I may have MOSTLY put this on the list because it features a pre-Saved by the Bell, Mario Lopez. But if you care at all about modern political issues like immigration, then it’s a good look at how things were in the 80’s and how things have changed (or not) since. Also, this episode was written by Christopher Lloyd (who also writes for Modern Family and wrote for Frasier and Wings).

befd7137be35a5560d1c818866eab9e0“Old Friends” – This is the infamous Jenny Lewis episode (in which she holds Rose’s teddy bear hostage). It’s also a  very bittersweet episode about Sophia making a new friend, who she soon realizes has Alzheimer’s.

“Letter to Gorbachev” – Rose has written a moving letter to Gorbachev, but he mistakenly thinks it’s from a little girl.We see the Sunshine Cadets again in this episode. (But not Jenny Lewis. My guess is she was removed from the group after the bear-napping incident.)

“Grab that Dough” – I think this episode would get 2087e51ecbed6af7d47512ca96e6a407Lucille Ball’s seal of approval. It’s zany. It’s a little slapstick. It’s a comedy of errors. The girls travel to LA to be game show contestants and everything, literally, everything, goes wrong.

“The Days and Nights of Sophia Petrillo” – I love this episode because it talks about society’s misconceptions of older adults. The three younger women all sit around in the house talking about how Sophia isn’t active enough. Meanwhile, she’s roaming around Miami having a full day.

hqdefault“Sick and Tired: Pts 1 & 2” – This episode’s writer has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and she used this episode to very clearly paint a picture of how frustrated and vulnerable patients feel when they are dismissed by healthcare providers who do not take their concerns seriously. It’s a pretty heavy A-plot, so thankfully the B-plot is downright hilarious. I mean SERIOUSLY one of the funniest things I have ever seen on television. Blanche decides to write a romance novel and stays up all night to the point of delirium.

hqdefault1“Clinton Avenue Memoirs” – This is a lovely flashback episode in which we get to see a young Dorothy and Sophia in their New York days. Sophia is becoming more forgetful in her older age, so she travels back to New York to revisit her past, particularly her memories of her deceased husband, Sal. If you’re not into Dorothy and Sophia as characters, then this might not be the best episode for you as there’s definitely not much of Rose and Blanche in this one.

e65ae51703a3bf04dd8c44da5fbedfdb“Henny Penny – Straight, No Chaser” – This one is just plain silly. The plot is pretty weak (a cast of children get the measles, so the girls perform this kids play in their place), but it’s really just an excuse to see veteran Broadway actresses sing and dance in chicken suits. I’ve been trying for years to find a way to get this episode on this blog.

“The Case of The Libertine Bell” – I already sort of covered this episode in a “Friday Face-off” a while back, but it really deserves a watch. Also, Wikipedia tells me that this episode is meant to be a parody of Murder, She Wrote, so that makes it even more fun.

mv5bmtkynjuyndqznf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmta5mdy1mje-_v1_“The Monkey Show” – Am I the only one who loves a good telethon episode? I don’t know what it is, but I just adore them. I may even do a series on telethon episodes one day, but I digress. So yes, this one is about a telethon. It’s also an hour-long episode, so you get double the fun! But it isn’t just a telethon, oh no, there’s also a hurricane on the way. THE STAKES ARE HIGH, PEOPLE! Also, the name of this episode comes from Dorothy’s ex-husband’s pet comfort monkey (essentially, a plush traffic cone with a face).

mv5bmjizntg1nzi5n15bml5banbnxkftztgwodq3mze1nte-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_“One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest” – This is the finale ( 😦 ). Dorothy leaves the girls (and Stan, finally) behind and marries Leslie Neilson. As endings go, this one is pretty solid. Too bad Sophia, Blanche, and Rose went on to do a lame spin-off (The Golden Palace). I don’t recommend it to even the most die-hard fans, unless maybe you’re a die hard Cheech Marin fan.

Did I leave out any of your favorite episodes? Let me know in the comments!

The Golden Girls: Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas

Dorothy is being kind of a Scrooge, but for good reason. She’s not feeling the holiday spirit because everything is so commercialized and her wallet can’t handle it. (Ugh girl, I feel you.) Rose suggests that they all celebrate “St. Olaf Style,” which luckily does not involve herring or strange festivals this time, but rather involves everyone making gifts for one another.

Rose gives Dorothy a maple syrup spigot, very handy in Miami, and Blanche gives everyone a nudie calendar, entitled “The Men of Blanche’s Boudoir.” All of the girls are traveling this Christmas, so they exchange gifts early. The following morning they all plan to travel to the airport together after picking Rose up from work. (This is back in her days of working at a Crisis Center.)

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Dorothy and Blanche arrive to pickup Rose from her office while Sophia waits in the car. However, Rose is with a client so they have to sit in the waiting area. As they finally prepare to leave, a man in a Santa costume enters the office and holds them up at gun point. He doesn’t plan on robbing them though. He just doesn’t want to spend Christmas alone. 😦

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Omg he even brought presents for everyone. And theses ladies are like WAHHH WE’RE GOING TO MISS OUR FLIGHT. Chill, girls. You need to hang out with this poor guy who brought you all gifts.

Oh wait, Rose makes a pretty good point. They’re not entitled to give him a good Christmas. And he’s being pretty darn selfish.

After a while, Sophia gets tired of waiting in the car. She walks into the office and immediately spots the Santa’s gun as a toy. They all rush to the airport, hoping to make it in time to catch their flights. Miraculously, they do make it to their gates in time! And then everything is grounded for a weather delay.

They go to a diner and feel sorry for themselves. When the waiter/cook (he’s the only guy working at the diner) comments on what a nice family they are, they realize they’re very fortunate to have each other (and to not be spending Christmas alone like the Santa at the Crisis Center). They want to do something nice for the waiter/cook so they convince him to go home for an hour to be with his family while they watch the diner…uh okay…

If that wasn’t implausible enough, it suddenly begins to snow. In Miami. This hasn’t actually happened since 1977. Yeah, I looked it up.

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Very Special Holiday Lesson: Sometimes the best families are the ones you choose.

The Golden Girls and Puppets, Everything I’ve Ever Wanted

Time is of the essence, Very Special Readers! If you’re going to be in New York City, you must check out That Golden Girls Show before they close on December 31st!

img_0034So here’s the thing. I had originally planned on this post being longer, but then my neighbor’s smoke detector went off for 45 minutes. We have faulty smoke alarms in this building (uhhh not reassuring at all now that I’m typing that out…) and there have been many false alarms. So I was banging on his door and then running around the building, calling the emergency after hours number, going outside and across the street to see if the light was on in his apartment, as one does, etc, etc. I’m sure I look like a creep on the security footage because then I was feeling his door and doorknob and sniffing the air for smoke, looking at the hallway to see if it looked cloudy, saying curse words like F*** WHY DO WE NOT HAVE A SUPER?? By this time, I was pretty confident that there wasn’t a fire (but don’t follow my example because if any of you die while following my instructions, I will never forgive myself) and then I convinced myself that my neighbor must have died while cooking and now his dinner was burning in the pan.

Long story short, I eventually joined forces with another woman who ALSO heard the alarm. And we tracked down the apartment manager together. Meanwhile, my neighbor was alive and well at the grocery store. That bastard. I’m glad he isn’t dead.

Anyway, the smoke detector incident ruined the time I set aside to tell you all about That Golden Girls Show. And girl, I did my DUE DILIGENCE on this one. I sat in the audience and took notes on my playbill. But this put me at odds with my inner former theater student who did not want to be a rude audience member, but also I HAVE TO GIVE THE PEOPLE (YOU) THE DETAILS! And then I thought, “Will they see me taking notes in the show and think that I’m a critic?” The answer is probably not because I don’t think critics purchase second row seats in small theaters in Gramercy and then pay the extra money to have a photo taken with the cast and puppets after the show. I settled on taking notes over a Ralph Lauren ad for Bloomingdales during the blackouts.

img_0036Anyway, I also now cannot find my playbill, so I’ll keep this actual review brief. Michael Hull played Dorothy in pitch perfect sarcasm. But I’m a shit critic who loses her playbill, so unfortunately I can’t tell you the name of the understudy who played Sophia. She was delightful and adorable, though she didn’t quite nail the voice like the actress playing Blanche (omg it was PURRRRFECT). Cat Greenfield‘s Blanche sounded like Rue Mcclanahan’s voice reincarnated. I understand that is a creepy sentence, but honestly hearing what could have been Rue Mcclanahan’s vocal twin felt like a warm, reassuring hand reaching out to me from 1986 and saying, “hold on baby, there’s still hope in 2016.”

The show’s plot involves a get rich quick scheme, a circus of herrings, and more Stan than you may like. It’s a little light on the satire (until the end, which I will not spoil). But ultimately, that’s okay. You can tell the parody loves its source material, as all the best parodies do. The runtime is 90 minutes no intermission, though I felt like it could have been a tighter script if they did it in 60. However, the novelty of the puppets will keep you entertained during the script’s slower moments. It is certainly worth the ticket price for fans of the series, especially if you pay the extra cost for the photo. The cast was charming and the photo-op does elevate the experience. You’ll join them on the sofa for a family photo. The only way this could have been better is if they’d invited us out on the lanai afterwords. Act fast and you can make the photo your Christmas card.

The Golden Girls: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

the-golden-girls-0Stan shows up with at the girls’ house and tries to get them to invest in a new business plan for manufacturing fake vomit. They slam the door in his face, of course.

Meanwhile, it’s really hot in Florida on December 23rd. None of the girls feel like shopping, so Dorothy decides that they should try “Secret Santa” this year so that they only have to pick out one gift. The only problem is that no one wants to be the recipient of a gift from Rose. She gives really weird gifts, like Yodeling Lessons. And Blanche is going to be stuck with a Rose gift this year.

gghappy

But she actually gets her an awesome gift. It’s a really shiny gold blouse, which is definitely something Blanche (or any of the GGs would love to wear). We don’t get to see what they other girls buy for each other. I guess Rose was the only shopper they could make kind of interesting.

219286Anyway, all of the girls decide to help out a Rose’s church, feeding the homeless. They’re really just looking to unload some fruitcake, but I guess it’s good to get volunteers any way you can. But when they get there they find out that Stan is homeless. He put every last penny into a novelty item of Santa wearing sunglasses and driving a fire engine. But the supplier only delivered the Santas on Christmas Eve. Oh and also Stan’s wife has thrown him out of the house.

Wow. I actually feel bad for Stan.

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Rose’s priest tells the girls all about homelessness and how most people are only two or three paychecks away from being homeless. And it turns out that nothing has changed in 30 years: stagnant wages, rising rent, you know the drill.

ggsoupkitchenBut Dorothy gives Stan a pep talk on how he once saved Christmas for their kids when they had no money. He convinced them that Christmas was actually December 26th and stole a tree from someone’s trash. He decorated it and they all had a nice holiday. I guess you can kind of see why Dorothy once loved this guy.

So Stan gives all of the little homeless kids the novelty fire trucks and I’m actually tearing up. Ahhh damn you, Golden Girls.

 

Very Special Lesson: Even jerks can be okay sometimes and if they’re okay around the holidays then that’s even better.

Saved by the Bell vs. The Golden Girls

There’s really no way to prepare yourselves for the awesomeness of this, Very Special Readers. Saved by the Bell and The Golden Girls both have EPIC Murder Mystery Weekend episodes and we will now place them in direct competition with each other.

But first thing’s first. The Very Special Winner of last week’s Friday Face-Off is: Salute Your Shorts. By a landslide. Congratulations, Camp Anawanna!

First up, for this week’s matchup is Saved By The Bell: Mystery Weekend. As you know, all the kids from the cool clique in high school liked to spend their free time at bed & breakfasts solving mysteries with middle-aged retirees. So things start off with the teens chilling with a lot of creepy adults in a “haunted mansion.”

So basically someone is “poisoned” and it’s a game of musical chairs to figure out who the drink was originally meant for and who delivered it. Everyone thinks it’s the butler, but when the butler dies too then a cop shows up and also dies. And somehow this helps us figure out the mystery.

When the elderly lady guest’s necklace goes missing (off script) and the party host is almost killed by a falling ax, things get spooky. The host decides to end the game since now it’s a massive liability to have anyone there. He offers Zack some vouchers for another stay in the future, but he vanishes while Zack is in his office. Now Zack is the prime suspect! It turns out that the voucher envelope really contains the prize money, so everyone accuses Zack of being a murderer.

Meanwhile, Lisa, who was packing while Zack retrieved the vouchers, has disappeared from a locked room. This leads Zack, Screech, and Slater to discover a secret passage leading from the bedroom to the host’s office (sketch). This causes Zack to somehow figure out that Lisa was in on the whole thing, the game never stopped, and the host is actually dressed as a woman and the murderer/thief/it doesn’t entirely make sense to me.

The Golden Girls: The Case of the Libertine Bell
Immediately upon arriving at the Mystery Weekend opening dinner, Dorothy instructs the girls to start determining which guests are actors and which are actually guests. She already has a much better game plan than the SBTB kids.

Todd Susman plays the private detective who was supposed to protect an 88 year-old man from being shot. He failed and the 88 year old guy’s twenty-something wife is also “dead.” Todd Susman finds an exotic dagger near the woman’s body and a gun in the old man’s spinster daughter’s purse (you follow?). He then tells the group of guests that they should be able to solve the murders just from this information.

Dorothy solves it all lickety-split with a brief summation of the psychological and physical evidence. Then they can all just hang out hand have a great weekend, right? Wrong! Blanche’s man friend is murdered (for real!) in a locked room (with Blanche!). The police are about to cart Blanche off to jail when Dorothy rushes to her aide.

Basically, there’s a rival with Blanche named “Posey McGlenn” They’re both trying to sleep with their boss and get a promotion. Dorothy determines that Ms. McGlenn must have killed Blanche’s male friend because she was jealous (and new exactly where Blanche had left her dress whilst showering pre-romantic rendezvous). Then Posey almost shoots Dorothy, but the cops intervene in time. And surprise, surprise, the dead guy walks down the stairs because it was all part of the game.

Everyone but Blanche and the girls knew…well Rose knew too. She was pissed at Blanche for stealing her earrings, so helping Blanche’s coworkers think she was accused of murder felt like an even trade.

Out on the Lanai

Hi Very Special Readers! Every now and then I like to do a little PSA. I don’t know how many of you listen to podcasts. I’m a dabbler myself, but I heard about this one today and I feel like it’s worth reporting to all of you pop-culture nostalgists.

“Out on the Lanai” is a podcast dedicated to reviewing all episodes of The Golden Girls. I wish the sound quality was a little better, but this podcast feels like sitting on the couch and having your BFFs describe a rerun you missed…which to me is like the ideal Saturday…

If you want to check it out, you can actually bypass iTunes and listen to it on their Tumblr: http://outonthelanai.com/post/116396768418/golden-girls-s2e2-chris-farah

The Golden Girls: All Bets are Off

You know what I find most bizarre about this episode? Oh hold on, maybe you need to know a little about the plot first. Okay, so Rose is learning to paint but she doesn’t know what a horse looks like (from memory). So she bugs Dorothy to take her to the racetrack. Dorothy resists and then finally obliges.

Then Sophia flips out at Dorothy for going to the track because it turns out that she had a debilitating gambling problem fifteen years earlier. And now she has fallen off the wagon!! (Are you allowed to use that phrase for non-alcohol problems? Like maybe she fell off the race-horse-pulled-wagon?)

Anyway, here’s what I find really odd about this. Remember that time the GG’s donated a jacket to charity with Dorothy’s winning lottery ticket still in the pocket? Yeah, that happened a full season before this episode and no one was pissed about her gambling then.

So it must be some kind of race-track-only gambling addiction. Fine. Things get pretty bad when she is so preoccupied by betting on the horsies, that she reschedules a job interview due to “car trouble” and then misses the rescheduled interview entirely.

But the worst part is when she manipulates poor, naive Rose into handing over her debit card, so that Sophia can “have an operation.” Only Dorothy feels guilty about this, and yells at Rose for allowing herself to be taken advantage of. But this is one of those times when Rose is surprisingly savvy, and knows Dorothy’s angle. She’s was trying to reverse-psychology her into not robbing her, and it works. Then Dorothy goes to gambling rehab and we never hear of this ever again.

Very Special Lesson: Give an addict unlimited access to your cash, and they’ll realize the error of their ways immediately.

The Golden Girls: High Anxiety

If you’ve watched The Golden Girls then you have probably heard a lot of crazy St. Olaf stories. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Rose hurt her back thirty years ago pulling a plow to till the soil during plantingoldengirlsg season. Ever since, she’s been taking narcotics. That’s why she’s so un-phased and stupid all the time. Rose is always on drugs. When Sophia accidentally knocks the pill bottle into the sink all of the pills go down the drain, and Rose cannot get a new prescription for two days. Things come to a head when she lashes out at a pizzeria owner who has come to the house to film a commercial starring Sophia.

“Excuse me I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I’m very upset”

                        –Rose Nyland during opiate withdrawal

The girls stage a mini-intervention and Rose agrees to quit cold turkey. She deals with this harrowing endeavor by having her friends stay up all night and playing a rousing game of Monopoly—St. Olaf style. Rose starts to waver as the night goes on and Blanche tells her that she understands how Rose feels because she tried to give up sex cold turkey after her husband died. Then she slept with her sister’s husband. Whoops. Anyway, just as Blanche finishes her story, Rose realizes that the sun is rising. She has made it threw the night without pills, and is thus free forever form addiction! Except she takes one pill later that day…so then she calls a rehab center.

Flash forward 28 days and…okay, now she is really cured!

Wait…if the only problem was that she didn’t get to take her pills for a day and got cranky…hm…that sounds like me without coffee.

Very Special Lesson: Even if you can totally afford your habit, you don’t do anything harmful to yourself or others, if you get a little cranky without your little helper then it’s time to go to the Betty Ford clinic.