The Very Best Very Special Hawaiian Episode

It’s time for the ultimate showdown. It is time to see who will be named the “champion of vacation episode champions.”

Who will emerge victorious from this epic battle of sitcom family versus sitcom family? Will it the be the Bad-Luck-Bradys or the marooned Tanners?


Let’s turn our attention to the four pillars of VSE: Hawaiian Style:

Overall Plot. I’m not sure if it is the fact that the Brady Bunch Hawaiian episode feels so played out (it has been parodied and rerun at least seventy-seven thousand times),but I really feel more drawn to the Full House plot. I almost want to detract a point for Aunt Becky magically having a couple of different outfits while stranded on the desert island, but they already made a Gilligan’s Island episode within the script, calling Danny the “Skipper” an then yelling at him as the “Skipper” once he strands them on the deserted island, so even this plot error feels sort of smart. I cannot believe I’m giving Fullori-loughlin-jodie-sweetin-candace-cameron-mainl House points for plot, but I found the episode to be better paced and more entertaining than the Brady episodes. There were a lot of episodes that comprised the Brady vacation, so maybe they could have benefited from some editing. Either way, the point goes to Full House on this one.

Music. I still prefer the dulcet tones of Don Ho to John Stamos’s impersonation of Elvis. Plus, the soundtrack to the Brady vacation is pretty amazing all throughout. I would totally like to make a Brady-Hawaii Playlist and go chill on a beach for a little while. The point for music definitely goes to The Brady Bunch.

Vacation Attire.  This is such a tough one. As I have said before, I love what the Bradys are wearing. However, I think that Full House wins this one. The makeup department clearly put a lot of work into their hair and it paid off. Steph’s cute bouncy curls are way sassier than Cindy’s (who was possibly forced into wearing a wig at this point) and more fun in general. Also, DJ pretty much wins the beachy hair award that I’ve never been able to attain. Once again, I’d like to pay my respects to Uncle Jesse’s palazzo pants, but I have to give Aunt Becky’s floral print sundresses equal credit. And then there are all of the adorable outfits they put little Michelle in. It’s hard to beat a toddler’s fashion, so the Bradys really shouldn’t take this loss too hard. They put up a good fight.

Integration of Hawaiian Setting. I still want to give the Bradys mad props for paying their respects to the USS Arizona, especially since all of the actors seem genuinely moved at the site, but overall I believe that Full House shows more of what the average family might be able to experience on a Hawaiian vacation. Danny might seem like a jerk for forcing his family to interact at all times, but I think that his rigidity has made for a very sneaky tourism video. Hawaii has something for everyone: the casual golfer, the relaxed naturalist, the enthusiastic historian, the film buff, and those who want to watch their boat float away while stranded on the wrong side of a well-populated island.


Point Break Down:
The Brady Bunch:  Music (1 pt) = 1 point

Full House: Vacation Attire (1 pt) + Integration of Hawaiian Setting (1 pt) + Overall Plot (2 pts)  4 pts

Champion of Vacation Episode ChampionsFull House


Boy Meets World vs. The Brady Bunch

This is some stiff competition, you guys. The final semi-final round is upon us. This is the penultimate post before we find out once and for all which of our six sitcoms took the best vacation to Hawaii! As you may recall, all of the Brady’s got to go to Hawaii on business with Mr. Brady. They almost died because of a “tabu” amulet, but luckily they managed to return the amulet to a creepy cave, thus avoiding total destruction, and ended up having a lovely family vacation.

But over at Boy Meets World, Corey and Toboy-meets-worldpanga are finally on their honeymoon! Eric messes up their wedding night by sending Corey and Topanga to a honeymoon suite pretending to be another couple. The best-man/wacky-brother decides to make it up to them by lightly stalking them on their honeymoon in order to make sure everything goes perfectly. Corey and Topanga have such a good time on their honeymoon that Corey pressures Topanga into not returning to Philadelphia and instead spending the rest of their lives at the Hawaiian resort. Corey manages to make enough money painting celebrity heads onto coconuts, which all of the tourists love. They actually end up being pretty rich and very popular. The island is really weird to be honest. Everyone relocated from Ohio and managed to remain pasty white. They also use soup as deodorant?

Eventually, Corey and Topanga realize how much they miss their family. Mostly, because Corey paints a couple of coconuts to look like Shawn and Mr. Feeney and has absolutely no memory of doing so. (As it turns out, Eric actually painted them and then was held captive by the Ohioan-Hawaiian clan.)

I think these two episodes will be hard to compare, but here we go! The Brady Bunch clearly wins on integration of Hawaiian setting. I’m pretty sure everything except for 4 seconds of stock footage was filmed on a soundstage in Boy Meets World. They also win on overall vacation attire as well, in part because the late-90’s prep fashion can never compare to late-mod meets suburban-hippie garb. Even though I love the “adorkable” Brady’s, the writing on Boy Meets World is (unsurprisingly) much tighter and manages to be genuinely heartfelt even when it is ridiculous, so they win on overall plot. The Brady Bunch soundtrack is solid and even features Don Ho singing to little Bobby and Cindy, which of course the canned elevator music of Boy Meets World‘s Hawaii just cannot match. Brady_Bunch_Hawaii002

Point Break Down:
The Brady Bunch:  Music (1 pt) + Vacation Attire (1 pt) + Integration of Hawaiian Setting (1 pt) = 3 pts 

Boy Meets World:  Overall Plot (2 pts) = 2 pts

Very Special WinnerThe Brady Bunch

The as yet undefeated Bradys advance to the final round. Will they have the best Hawaiian Vacation ever??

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Growing Pains vs. Full House

Hi friends! It’s time for another installment of VSE: Hawaiian Style! In our first semi-final match up, the victorious Growing Pains faces off with the hitherto unchallenged Full House.

Let’s start off with a brief recap of what’s going on in Growing Pains. When we last saw the Seavers, Carol and Mike were off pursuing island romances, Maggie was struggling to balance her career with her family, Jason was stressed because his family didn’t want to spend time together, and Ben was just hanging out being a kid.

Meanwhile on Full House, Joey also falls in love with a native Hawaiian because that is what everyone does when traveling to Hawaii. Resident patriarch Danny tries to force his reluctant family into doing everything together (sound familiar?). And the similarities don’t end there! The Tanner family ends up stranded on a desert island in a much more dire albeit similar situation to the Seavers being stranded mid-ocean…on a boat that Jason Seaver intentionally sabotaged for the sake of family together-ness.full-house-hawaii-episode-cast-w724

But who had the best self-imposed isolation in the name of family bonding? Who learned the most about the importance of interpersonal relationships through their time in the tropics?

As far as overall plot is concerned, I’d have to say that Full House wins that category. The way that Danny forces everyone to do participate as a group in something that each person enjoys (everyone gets bored watching Joey play golf, everyone gets bored trekking to Elvis movie locations with Jessie, and so on) really highlights the importance of family separateness. I think that’s an important very special lesson that we often overlook. I also think this would have been a great opportunity for a Gilligan’s Island-style Full House spin off. I wish we could have seen an episode arc where  they’re stuck on the island and Jesse tries to build a raft but Joey is also organizing a talent competition. I feel like that would have been an opportunity for the Joey character to actually do something because I could never figure out exactly why he was around in the regular series. Becky already managed to change form a bikini into a sundress even though their boat floated away and she brought no luggage on this day trip.Tanner's Island

The point for fashion also has to go to Full House as well. John Stamos is killing it with some palazzo pants and everyone is rocking the floral prints. I’m still giving Growing Pains the music category, not because I love Christopher Cross but rather because I hate Elvis impersonators. The end of the episode features John Stamos singing “Rock a Hula” because of course they weren’t really stranded, they were just on a deserted portion of the island where they were trying to attend a big luau/arena concert. I feel like neither episode outperformed the other in terms of overall integration of the Hawaiian setting, so I’ll call that a tie and disregard it in the point breakdown.

Point Break Down:

Full House:  Overall Plot (2 pts) + Vacation Attire (1 pt) = 3 pts 

Growing Pains:  Music (1 pt) = 1 pt

Very Special WinnerFull House

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Step by Step vs. The Brady Bunch

Welcome back to VSE: Hawaiian Style! Today two blended families face off in the ultimate Hawaiian vacation challenge. Let’s start with a brief summary shall we?

In The Brady Bunch, Mike Brady’s architectural firm pays for he and all of his family (including their housekeeper) to spend a few weeks in Hawaii so he can supervise a construction site. Talk about fringe benefits, right? Unless, you’ve been living under a rock for all of brady-bunch-huluyour life, then you probably know that the youngest boy, Bobby, finds a “cursed” amulet at the construction site. He mistakes it for a good luck charm, but it seems to be wreaking havoc on his family’s entire vacation. It makes poor housekeeper/nanny-person, Alice throw her back out when she wears it during a hula lesson. And it even near-murders his oldest brother, Greg, in a freak surfing accident. The entire family races into the water to try to find in the current except for Carol, but she’s only his step-mom anyway, right? An another note, the kids learn a lot about Pearl Harbor and even visit the USS Arizona. They check out the local flora an fauna along as well, managing to pick up a tarantula on the way–that’s the amulet again! The Brady’s finally find out that the only way to get rid of their bad luck is to return the amulet to the sacred ground from whence it came.

Okay let’s jump twentyish years in the future to another blended family with Step by Step. You can tell that this is a totally distinct series because instead of the mom having three girls and the dad having three boys, the dad has 2 boys and a girl and the mom has 1 boy and 2 girls. See how much more normal and believable that is? The Lambert-Foster family wins an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii. One of the girls, Dana, is all pissstep_320ed that she has to go to Hawaii because it will interfere with her study schedule. But don’t worry, she falls in love in Hawaii and becomes the center of this two part episode. She decides after a few days that she wants to marry this dude (he’s a 22 year old rich entrepreneur so you can see the attraction). Meanwhile, Suzanne Somers can’t relax on vacation and keeps trying to create tasks for herself. I think this is the most realistic part of this episode. The rest of the kids enter a sandcastle building contest, which is a challenge for them because they are from Wisconsin, but it’s pretty boring so that’s the last I’ll mention of it. Dana’s mom freaks out because she’s worried Dana will get married without her permission (which I didn’t know was possible at seventeen but I guess it is in the TV world?) Ultimately, Dana and her boyfriend (whose name I don’t even know) decide to split up because he doesn’t want her to go to college. So that’s pretty crappy. Yeah I think she made the right choice here.

Point Break Down:
The Brady Bunch:  Music (1 pt) + Vacation Attire (1 pt) +Integration of Hawaiian Setting (1 pt) +Overall Plot (2 pts) = 5 pts 

Step by Step: 0 pts
This was a terrible episode all around and The Brady Bunch wins by a landslide.

Very Special WinnerThe Brady Bunch

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Growing Pains vs. Saved by the Bell

In the first round of the VSE: Hawaiian Style competition we have Growing Pains vs. Saved by the Bell. Let’s start with a brief summary of both episodes shall we? In Growing PaiGrowing Pains Hawaiins, the Seavers head to Malibu for a vacation that nobody but Jason, the father, and youngest son Ben are interested in. Maggie and the two oldest children are way too busy with their lives in Long Island to be interested in Hawaii. The entire episode is basically about how they can’t deal with interacting as a family, and also Mike ends up dating a woman with a two year old child even though he’s like seventeen. They make a point of saying that she “got married early” and Jason counsels Mike on taking more responsibility in his life, which he does by babysitting her kid while she works as a hula dancer.

There’s a lot going on in Saved by the Bell. I’ll try to make this as succinct as possible. The gang has to save Kelly’s grandfather’s hotel from a corrupt competitor, Zack also falls head over heels for a Hawaiian with a child (tsaved by the bell hawaiian stylehis one is 6 though and he’s only 10 years older than the kid so woah like wtf Saved by the Bell), and Screech is kidnapped by a local tribe and appointed their chief. If you did not find “Running Zack” to be offensive enough to indigenous people then perhaps this is the episode for you. Also, the corrupt competitor’s lawyer flirts with Kelly and tricks her into getting her grandfather to almost sell the land, so that’s also sketch on multiple levels. Lisa, Slater, and Jessie have a boring bet about whether or not Jessie and Slater can keep from fighting for the duration of the trip, which of course they cannot.

Each episode features a special song. Growing Pains uses Christopher Cross’s “Swept Away” for at least three montages and it begins to outlive its usefulness as a plot tool. Here’s the end montage from the episode:

Saved by the Bell definitely wins on the featured song front because it uses “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in place of the usual opening credits.

While Saved by the Bell wins on the music front, I’m a sucker for the Seavers and I have to say that the Growing Pains episode warms my heart way more. Plus, Saved by the Bell is really not performing up to par here. Yes, I have high standards for a Saturday morning TV show, and yes, I will hold that show to those high standards in my role as Judge Supreme in the competition for this entirely fabricated yet very important award. Plus, I like the family togetherness. And even though Maggie stupidly quits her job in order to return to the vacation, I do like the idea that she’s making an effort to get her priorities straight. Luckily, Jason is a psychiatrist who makes tons of money on writing prescriptions for twenty minute visits with clients, so I think they can handle her being unemployed for a little bit.

Even though I love the Growing Pains plot, I am not digging their matching Hawaiian shirts and thus, unsurprisingly, Saved by the Bell gets the point for fashion. However, Saved by the Bell has once again succeeded in achieving a culturally insensitive plot line with the whole Screech-is-chief thing. Almost by default, I have to give Growing Pains the point for successful integration of the Hawaiian setting. After all, that luau looked pretty nice and actual Hawaiians were performing instead of Jessie, Kelly, and Lisa.

Point Break Down:

Saved by the Bell:  Music (1 pt) + Vacation Attire (1 pt) = 2 pts 

Growing Pains: Overall Plot (2 pts) + Integration of Hawaiian Setting (1 pt) = 3 pts

Very Special WinnerGrowing Pains

Sorry, Saved by the Bell, you were uncharacteristically creepy and I think we can all tell form this set of episodes that Tiffani Theissen and Elizabeth Berkley were about to ditch you.

Bracket Update 1

The Very Special Episode: Hawaiian Style.

Hello Very Special Readers!

Summer is winding down. (Well, technically I guess we have another month before it’s scientifically over, but Labor Day looms just a mere nine days away.) In order to celebrate the end of the season, I’m engaging in the ultimate very special sitcom analysis. The Very Special Episode: Hawaiian Style.

Take a look at the full bracket here and don’t make fun of my slanty lines: 

VSE-Hawaiian StyleHere’s a pdf if you want to fill out your own bracket because obviously this is way more important than March Madness, and I expect all of you to start office pools: VSE-Hawaiian Style

All episodes will be graded on a 5 point scale and the winning episode will have the higher score based upon which categories it wins:
Overall Plot–2 points
Music–1 point
Vacation Attire–1 point
Integration of Hawaiian Setting–1 point

Here is a list of the full episode titles (as you can see the writers were not too creative with these episode titles):

Growing Pains: Aloha
Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style
Step by Step: Aloha
The Brady Bunch: Hawaii Bound
Full House: Tanner’s Island
Boy Meets World: The Honeymooners

Stay tuned this Monday for the first showdown Growing Pains vs. Saved by the Bell!