European Vacation: Family Matters vs. Sabrina Goes to Rome

This is a toughie. Both of these episodes have intrigue, stylish mid/late 90’s clothing, and great comedic timing. But only one can advance to the Very Special European Vacation Finals.

But first, a brief recap of Family Matters: Steve and the Winslows go to Paris via the Urk-Pad. Stefon becomes a super model. Steve is kidnapped by his pen pal at gun point because she wants to steal the Urk-Pad. A chase ensues and Steve falls off the eiffel tower only to be rescued by Carl who has turned on the Urk-Pad at the base of the tower, just in time.

tumblr_n50dckup2z1rn2pfqo1_500Sabrina starts with Madonna’s “Sky Fits Heaven” so I’d say this is a lock on the music category. Sabrina is headed to Rome to release “the power trapped within” a locket she’s received from her father. All she knows is that “the secret lies in Rome.” Oooooh so mysterious! Sabrina ends up with a roommate in Rome. But she turns out to be a witch too. Only she’s not a very good witch, so that’s kind of the comedic relief here.
Anyway, this locket belonged to Sabrina’s sister, Sophia. She fell in love with a mortal who betrayed her, so she was stripped of her powers and banished like some Shakespearean character. Some American dudes who want to hit on Sabrina figure out she’s a witch and decide to sell a story about her to a tabloid. So Sabrina thinks her biggest challenge is balancing her new romance with solving this mystery, but really this dude is trying to ruin her life and she has no idea what danger she’s in. Sabrina takes an extended break from mystery-solving to go designer shopping.
2Jennifer Page’s “Crush” is in this as well during a montage! So 1998! Finally, Sabrina decides to just go back in time and ask her Aunt Sophia to open the locket. (Omg, seriously. All this and that’s her freaking solution??) While back in time, Sabrina realizes that it wasn’t Sophia’s boyfriend who betrayed her but rather some lame courtier. Sabrina isn’t supposed to interfere because maybe she’ll mess up history and never be born. But when she figures all of this out, she can’t help but tell Sophia. So then Sophia puts her power (or herself?) in the locket and disappears. Sabrina and Sophia’s boyfriend run away from the evil courtier but leave the locket behind. Then Sabrina gets into a massive sword fight. Okay, so yeah Sophia is stuck in the locket.
And back in modern times, the guy who is trying to sell Sabrina for a story starts to have real feelings for her. Meanwhile, the worst witch has accidentally turned one of their warlock friends into a pigeon. When she finally finds him and turns him back into a human, he tells her that Sabrina’s crush is trying to destroy her. (Turns out pigeons have ears.) It’s too late to stop Sabrina though. She’s at the Trevi fountain making her crush’s dreams come true. She just transported him to see his family in a small Italian village. So the cat’s out of the bag about her being a witch and all. But this dude is so moved by the power of love that he’s not going to break her trust. His friend, however, has managed to capture them appearing and reappearing on tape by the Trevi fountain, so she’s screwed either way. Her friends want her to turn this dude into stone for 400 years. If she does this within twelve hours of him betraying her then she can keep her powers. But Sabrina won’t do it because maybe he won’t betray her. Ugh. So Sabrina goes to the museum to say goodbye to her aunt’s portrait. She’s all like I will always choose love over magic. Bleh. The dude she did NOT turn into stone shows up and shows her that he has destroyed the video evidence of her witch-ness. And this frees Sophia from the locket! OMG this was an epic!

Now, let’s break it down.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 12.06.29 PMVacation Attire: Stefon is looking fine in some 90’s couture suits. But Carl is hurting the Family Matters camp with all of his 90’s tourist dad outfits. And Steve matches his suspenders to his beret, so I really want to give him points for that. But honestly, I cannot give this point to Family Matters because Laura wears one too many ugly-ass floral print shirts for my liking. Plus Sabrina goes shopping at Armani AND travels back in time to the 18th century. So there’s that.

Music: Madonna AND Jennifer Page, be still my 90’s heart! Sabrina takes this point as well.

Integration of European SettingSabrina actually filmed on location and she’s literally all over the city of Rome solving this mystery and dating this cute guy, so point to Sabrina on this one.

2d12a4b9d7f567b81b865500e05a-was-the-family-matters-paris-vacation-episode-pretty-much-inspired-by-seinfeldOverall Plot: This is a particularly hard one. I absolutely love that Steve accidentally gets involved with some gangsters. But the Laura/Stefon romance has always been boring to me. Then there’s Sabrina’s cool locket-solving thing. But honestly she spent some much time figuring out that locket only to decide to just travel back in time and ask the original owner how to open it…so really we could have skipped the entire movie if she’d done that in the first five minutes. That is some poor writing I just can’t get behind, so points to Family Matters on this one.

Family Matters
: Overall Plot = 2 points
Sabrina: Music + Vacation Attire + Integration of European Setting = 3 points

Next Week on The Very Special BlogThe Final: Growing Pains vs. Sabrina Goes to Rome

European Vacation: Growing Pains vs. Taxi

First, a quick recap of Growing Pains: Mike sells Jason and Maggie a bad tour package. Maggie gets appendicitis and can’t do anything the whole trip, but Jason has a chef (from the restaurant where he proposed) cater a special dinner in her hospital room. Mike traipses about Barcelona with a girl that he does not get along with and then they fall in love.

960Now on to Taxi: Elaine has four weeks away from her kids for the summer, so she convinces Alex to go to Europe with her. On the plane, Alex offends everyone while Elaine makes friends with a cute guitarist. Life in first class was nice in the 70’s because everyone finds it very endearing when Elaine and the cute guy start singing Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” It’s loud and not exactly in tune. Thankfully, after the commercial break, we even get to hear the original version. Point to Taxi on this one. In Europe, Elaine continues to have a lovely time whereas Alex is lonely and miserable. The most exciting thing that happens to Alex is halfway through the episode. He’s playing a game of darts and accidentally hitting a fellow patron instead of the dart board. Did I mention he’s having a terrible trip? Alex gets increasingly depressed but won’t ask Elaine for help. He does finally get a date with a model, but she ditches him as soon as she finds out he’s a taxi driver. One night, Elaine finds a post card that Alex plans to mail to her address in New York. It says, “Dear Elaine, the time we spent writing post cards together was the best part of my trip.” Alex and Elaine decide to sleep together and the episode ends.

Scoring Breakdown:

Integration of European Setting: This goes to Growing Pains for at least appearing to shoot on location. But the scenic countryside could be Napa for all I know. Taxi very clearly used sound stages and establishing shots.

Vacation AttireTaxi. No contest. Alex was sad but he always had on a nice suite and Elaine was disco ready at every turn.

Music: Billy Joel wins this point for Taxi. 

Overall Plot: Here’s where things get tricky. Taxi is leaps and bounds better than Growing Pains, but this was a weak episode overall. Alex and Elaine aren’t as great without their ensemble cast. And while this was certainly a very realistic depiction of loneliness, Alex and Elaine barely share a scene for the entire episode. Over at Growing Pains, the make romance plot is pretty dumb and un-inspiring but the Maggie/Jason appendicitis plot seems very legit and also a realistic depiction of travel gone-wrong. Plus the episode was just a bit more entertaining overall. I’m giving this point to Growing Pains.

Growing Pains: Integration of European Setting + Overall Plot = 3 point
Taxi: Music + Vacation Attire = 2 points

Next Week on The Very Special BlogFamily Matters vs. Sabrina Goes to Rome

European Vacation: Blossom vs. Family Matters

Oh my gosh, Blossom actually spends 4 whole episodes in Paris! What have I committed myself to??

mayim-bialik-1024Blossom: Blossom goes to Paris to find her mother, who is a singer in a night club. Her mom thinks it’s just a visit, but Blossom pretty much plans to live there permanently. Her brothers want an inexpensive trip to Paris, so they decide to become couriers. They accept a job at a sketch office and both carry one package together to Paris. They’ve unknowingly accepted a job from the mob and even their dad isn’t skeptical of this arrangement. Meanwhile, Six tries to find an interim best-friend while Blossom is away. OMG BRITTANY  MURHPY IS IN THIS EPISODE. But only for 3 seconds. She’s one of Six’s potential friends.
Blossom’s mom bails on her for dinner, much like she bailed on their family, and Blossom befriends/romances the waiter. Meanwhile, Vinnie plans to fly to Paris to ask Blossom to marry him, even though they are like 16. Her life is so dramatic.
After a freaking eternity, Joey and Tony grow suspicious and decide to look at what’s in the package they’re carrying. Just as they open-it, they see a mobster (who they recognize from their flight over) staring them down. They he chases them all across Paris. But they’re literally running the whole time, so this seems like a cheap attempt at “integration of European setting” to me.
Blossom and the waiter start making out and then Vinnie just happens to bump into them right at that moment. Then some other stuff happens. Vinnie appears to be trying to make Blossom jealous with some French chick whiles some adult contemporary music plays. This song is performed by “The Party,” who I am pretty sure were the band in the Disneyland episode.
Vinnie gets in touch with his anger about his mom abandoning the family. They run from the mob some more. But it turns out that the “mobster” following them is Bolivian secret service agent, whereas some random lady was the black market contact that they were supposed to deliver the package to.
Six’s mom and Blossom’s dad consider dating. Geez, there is SO much more than a European vacation packed into this crap. They make-out.
Vinnie and Blossom get back together, of course. Blossom tells her mom that she can’t live with her because they would end up hating each other. Blossom leaves and her two brothers show up. They ask their mom to come home with them and she says no.
Blossom tells her dad that he’s the kind of parent she needs. But somehow, even with all of that plot, Blossom managed to be boring as hell.

tt0096579_s8_e1Family Matters
: Steve accidentally sends Carl to his pen-pal, Nicole, in Paris. (Well, Carl accidentally stood on Steve’s Urk-Pad, a teleportation device.) But Nicole sends him back safe and sound. Carl had such a good time that he decides to go back with Harriet and Eddie. Steve decides to visit Nicole at the same time that the Winslows take their trip. Also, Laura and Stefon go to Paris on one super-long date.
On their first day in Paris, Eddie nearly destroys a cafe. So he has to work there for two weeks in order to avoid going to prison. Also, Stefon becomes a model. And then he and Steve agree to star in a commercial together. Nicole tries to seduce Steve, but Steve is loyal to Myra. This is so bizarre because Myra is kind of awful and Nicole seems cool, but to each his own. But it turns out Nicole only likes him for his Urk-Pad.
Then Stefon and Laura are in a fashion show and her dad does the Arsenio dog pound cheer from the front row. Stefon is such a hit that he has an offer to live in Paris and become a supermodel.

Just look at how well the coordinated that vacation attire! With the set even!
Oh and I almost forgot, Nicole and some jerk have kidnapped Steve at gunpoint because they want to steal his Urk-Pad. Only, his kidnappers are afraid to try the Urk-Pad. So they make Steve demonstrate it. Right after Steve steps on the Urk-Pad, the idiot man who kidnapped him realize that he’s getting away, so he grabs on to him and they end up in Carl and Harriet’s hotel room.Then some kind of musical Urk-Pad hopping occurs, and they all end up back in the theater where Steve was being held hostage. The Winslows and Steve fight off his captors.
Laura tells Stefon she wants him to come back to Chicago with her, but urges him to stay in Paris to see what he can make of his career.
The kidnappers chase Steve up the eiffel tower. The kidnapper-man hangs Steve over the side of the eiffel tower to make him tell him how the Urk-Pad works. Then he actually does push Steve off the eiffel tower, but Carl turns on the Urk-Pad on the ground below, which sends Steve back to Chicago instead of splattered on the sidewalk.

Scoring Breakdown:

Blossom: Music + Bonus Point for Brittany Murphy = 2 points
Family Matters: Vacation Attire + Overall Plot + Integration of European Setting = 4 points

Next Week on The Very Special BlogGrowing Pains vs. Taxi

A Very Special Summer

Happy Memorial Day Very Special Readers!

I hope you are having a very relaxing Monday! As you well know, Memorial Day is the start of the Summer Season, and on that note I have 2 very special announcements!

Announcement #1
I am reviving “The VSB: European Vacation” bracket challenge! Starting on this Wednesday, June 1, new match ups results will post every Wednesday morning. So dig up your bracket from 6 months ago (hah) or use this one below:

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Announcement #2
“The Very Special Movies of Summer”
This is mostly just an excuse for me to watch I Know What You Did Last Summer for the very first time. I got really freaked out by Scream, so this should be interesting. I’m also going to watch The Sandlot and Adventures in Babysitting to make myself feel better. Look for these posts in July and August.

Okay, bye have fun at the beach!


I had planned to kick off the European Vacation Episode challenge tomorrow, but since 4 of the 6 episodes take place in Paris I’ve decided to take them off the schedule for now. It just doesn’t feel right to make light of silly sitcom adventures that take place in a city experiencing so much pain right now. If you have already filled out your bracket, then please save it for a future date. I am giving you a very special rain check on this one. For now, stay tuned for more very special episodes!

The Very Special European Vacation

The time has come for another very special bracket challenge!

This time our favorite sitcoms will be facing off to see who took the very best trip to Europe. The contenders are:
Growing Pains: Let’s Go Europe
The Facts of Life Goes to Paris
Sabrina Goes to Rome
Family Matters: Paris Vacation
Taxi: Vienna Waits
Blossom: Blossom in Paris

And the grading criteria, as always:
Overall Plot–2 points
Music–1 point
Vacation Attire–1 point
Integration of European Setting–1 point

I decide to be fancy and make a bracket online (woohoo)! I told it not to seed the contenders, but for some reason there are still numbers next to the “teams.” So just ignore that.

Also, it looks really little in this post, but if you click on the bracket image below, then it will open in a new screen and look normal-sized. Then you can print it and fill out your predictions! The competition will start Monday, so make sure you have your bracket filled out by then! Or don’t fill it out, but you’ll still read all of the posts, right? 🙂
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