How Do You Talk to An Angel?

enhanced-buzz-12613-1363814355-7I have “How Do You Talk to An Angel” stuck in my head, but only the chorus part because I don’t actually know the rest of the song. I’ve been singing it on loop in the bathroom and my living room and in that fake-husky 90’s indie-rock voice. This is a song I have always known and never remember hearing for the first time.

As a kid in the early 90’s, I heard this song literally everywhere: At the mall. At the grocery store with the good candy section. At the McDonald’s where I got my coveted Happy Meal but with the boy’s toy because I had a bowl cut UGH THANKS GENDER NORMS. But I didn’t realize until more recenlty that this song is actually from a TV Show called The Heights.

As some of you may know, I write a blog about TV shows. Thus, I decided to turn this earworm into something productive. If only so I could say, “Oh it’s okay that I almost got evicted from my apartment for singing four lines of a song incessantly for several days because I reviewed this episode of The Heights for The VSB.”

Snark Pencil available on Etsy. Disclaimer: I don’t really have a snark pencil.
I turned to frequent VSB resource YouTube and found the full length transferred-from VHS pilot episode, which is also conveniently the episode that features the song in question. Things were really falling into place and I was sharpening my snark pencil, all ready to go. But I vastly underestimated how bad the show could be.

Watching The Heights made me hate “How Do You Talk to An Angel” with a fiery passion. I would like for the universe to return to me the seven minutes I wasted watching this junk. Yes, that’s right. The show was so boring that I only lasted seven minutes. Since I obviously cannot review the episode, I bring you instead: The Heights – An Autopsy.

In short, The Heights is a show about a band called “The Heights” that lives in a neighborhood called, you guessed it, “The Heights”. They’re twenty-somethings and they’re “eclectic.” It’s like The Breakfast Club grew up and started a band, but instead of finding commonalities in their disparate social circles, they all crowded around in a rehearsal space and whined about whether they should sing hair metal or folk music.

419517496_mFor this piece, I did a lot of heavy research: I read a wikipedia page and googled “‘How Do You Talk to An Angel’ + ‘Touched by an Angel'” [There appears to be no overlap between the two shows.] I also vaguely reflected upon an episode of something that I saw on VH1 roughly ten years ago that briefly talked about this song and how lead singer, Jamie Walters, went on to play an abusive boyfriend of Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) on 90210, which the show seemed to suggest killed his career. (Like apparently he got type cast as a deadbeat, which is kind of a bummer).

According to Wikipedia, The Heights was canceled one week after Whitney Houston’s iconic “I Will Always Love You” knocked “How Do You Talk To An Angel” out of the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 100. This leads me to believe that the only reason this show wasn’t cancelled after three episodes was that the song fooled America into thinking that we might actually want to watch The Heights.

So what actually happens in this 44 minute episode? This band of Gen-Xers is just “keeping it real” and living day-to-day in “The Heights,” while they try to figure out their band’s “sound.” No one likes the conventional “establishment” looking dude with the Jason Priestly haircut. But when some other dude in the band doesn’t show up to practice, they let him sit in. In the span of thirty seconds he elevates their sound, nay he IS their sound. And they decide that what they really need to be is neither a past-its-expiration-date hair metal group nor a neo-folk band, but rather a vanilla pop ensemble that produces this schmaltzy song.

And this leaves me really with more questions than answers:
-Why are there so many people playing guitars?
-Is this the same studio saxophonist who gave Rob Lowe his “musical talents” in St. Elmo’s Fire?
-Why are there so many people in this band?
-Why does it turn into a music video in the end? Am I to believe that this song is SO good that it immediately made them music video famous? Oh wait. That’s what actually happened in real life, isn’t it?

Oh hey, I found the VH1 video. #ThanksYouTube

Oh well, at least these guys had fun for a few weeks in 1992. Also, any LA people ever call the paramedics and have Jamie Walters show up? I’d LOVE to hear about that.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

I really don’t like slasher movies. But this was a “cool teenager” movie that I wasn’t allowed to see as an elementary schooler back in 1997, so I’ve always been a bit curious.

i_know_what_you_did_last_summerThe movie starts off with a beauty pageant. Sarah Michelle Geller (Helen) is winning, but I think we’re supposed to think that she thinks it’s a bullshit contest. We cut to Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Ray), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie), and Ryan Philippe (Barry) sitting not with the crowd but rather alone in the balcony, seeming to imply both literally and figuratively that they are “above” this small town pageantry. (Oh yeah, VS Readers, this is a critical analysis kind of post.)

Julie is sad that she and Ray will probably split up when they go to college at the end of the Summer. But he tells her that “the success rate of high school sweetheart relationship is higher than any other type of relationship” and she tells him to “cite your source.” So then he puts his hand over his heart like his heart is his source and I would ordinarily puke but Freddie Prinze, Jr. can get away with a lot of stuff in my book. So then she takes off her cardigan sweater, which I guess is like BIG. I mean maybe she just ALWAYS wears a cardigan and taking it off is like the equivalent of removing one’s pants in her world because Ray says, “Are you sure?” and she nods (aw I mean I appreciate the clear consent, so yay) and then they have sex. SO I don’t know how we got from cardigan removal to “are you sure you want to have sex with me?” but at least they are on the same page and that’s all that matters. Or like wait. Maybe she was just saying yes she’s sure she’d like to remove her cardigan…erm well maybe a teen movie from 1997 is not the best source of guidance on this topic.

rs_560x415-140915195510-1024-i-know-what-you-did-last-summer-1-ms-091514_copyAnyway, Barry gets so drunk that he can’t drive his BMW home. But rather than just chilling in the back seat and letting his friend drive his sorry drunk ass home, he sticks his head out of the sun roof and drops an open bottle of alcohol all over Ray’s lap–causing him to careen into a pedestrian, who admittedly was crossing a dark road on a curve but still… So because they are selfish bastards who don’t seem to be concerned as to whether or not this dude has a family that may be worried about his disappearance, they decide to dump the body in the ocean.

But before than can do any body-dumping, David from Roseanne shows up as some dude named Max. Julie and Ray get rid of him by playing it cool and acting like Barry is just casually drunk vomiting on the side of the road. Ray decides that speaking like a middle aged country clubber is the best way not to arouse suspicion and says thing like “What can I do for you, Max?” and “We’ll be seeing you Max.”

In a last minute moment of “compassion” they decide to check this dude’s wallet to see who he is. But when Helen goes to check it out, he reaches out and grabs her. Time to call an ambulance, right? Nope, instead they beat him back and toss him in the water. But he’s grabbed her beauty pageant crown and now Barry has to dive in to the water and reclaim the evidence. He’s like definitely still alive under the water and opens his eyes. So Barry flips out and leaves him to drown. These people are horrible and I can’t wait to see them be terrorized for the next hour and fifteen minutes.

39c5fdfd5a623d4e2f91072341d67079-0They all vow never to speak of the incident again, but that doesn’t last very long because about a year later Julie gets a note: “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER!” (For you close readers, you’ll recognize that as the title of this film.) So she starts rounding up the team. Unsurprisingly, they don’t speak to each other anymore and they’re all miserable. They immediately think it was Max, so Barry beats him up. This is obviously just a red herring and my money is one of the four-some betraying the others.

The someone tries to run over Barry with his own car. That person gets out of the car with a hook but doesn’t kill him. This is all very clearly to send a message.

Julie and Helen decide to play amateur detective and head out to David Egan’s family home. (David Egan is the dead guy BTW. They found out his name from a newspaper article.) They run into Anne Heche who seems them peering through a window. They make up some phony story about needing to call AAA and she doesn’t seem to care that they were about to break in her window. She’s David’s sister and she answers all of their inappropriately probing questions without ever appearing to become suspicious. Actually, she may be suspicious because she runs out to their car to give them back the cigarettes that Helen left behind. They’re just sitting there chatting while running a car that they said wouldn’t start.

summerMore shenanigans ensue. Someone cuts off Helen’s hair in the middle of the night. Someone puts Max’s dead body with crabs in Julie’s car. And Ray gets a threatening note. Barry is convinced that Ray is terrorizing them all. Crap, that was my guess. But it’s too early so it’s probably another red herring. But even though this person is clearly willing to murder them all, they still want to track him down and talk to him? So Helen rides in the 4th of July parade on the pageant float while Barry sits conspicuously at the front, scanning the crowd for any shady characters.

Also, am I really supposed to believe that it is July in North Carolina and all of these lead characters are wearing sweaters?

So Julie goes back to speak to the sister again. She once again shares a ton of info. And this gradually causes Julie to realize that the man they hit with the car is not David Egan. In fact, David also got a scary note saying “I WILL NEVER FORGET LAST SUMMER!” His sister thought it was a suicide note because David’s girlfriend past away the previous summer…but basically it seems like there’s a weird super-human killer out there in this North Carolina town and it’s not Robert DeNiro. (Cape Fear is still giving me nightmares.)

Anyway, while the slasher is busy killing Barry and Helen, Julie reads more newspaper article and figures out that the killer is most likely the father of David Egan’s girlfriend.

aqu112-034You know what guys, I think Ray is up to no good. I do NOT trust him. Omg wait. Now I’m not sure. Some dude just punched Ray in the face because he was chasing after Julie and like then he told her to run to his boat and she did but it’s so obviously A TRAP. Ugh, yep. She’s like definitely on the killer’s boat now. But luckily Ray helps her out because he is in fact, not the killer. It was all very harrowing and I would recount it but I feel like this is already way to long and I did scream at a level audible to my neighbors at multiple points in this movie. So basically, the bad guy’s arm gets caught in some kind of like rig on the boat. (I don’t know boat things so I can’t explain better…) and then he like gets strung upside down by the rig and then lands in the water, presumably drowning (again). Anyway, when the cops show up they can only retrieve his severed hand still holding the hook. The implication is that he’s hanging around still trying to kill them. This is confirmed by the last couple of minutes in the movie in which he stalks Julie at school and leaves a threatening note for her on the shower door, “I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER,” which is a movie I probably will not be watching.

Very Special Lesson: Do your research – if they’d read all of the available newspaper articles at the start of this movie, then they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. Also,

My Wish List for Lisa Frank

So I don’t know if you heard on the internet today but Lisa Frank, patron saint of my elementary school folders, announced that she’s releasing a coloring book for grown-ups. I’ve heard that adults are now coloring for “relaxation” and doing more “advanced” stuff with lots of tiny spaces and lines or whatever. But honestly, I’ve not been too excited about it because I’ve got a My Little Pony coloring book right now. I also have a 64 pack of crayons with the sharpener in the back. So clearly I don’t really need the “grown-up” version of coloring to enjoy coloring. Also, all those little lines kind of hurt my eyes.


But I’m pumped about Lisa coming back onto the scene because there are a few other items that I need in my life. And I’m hoping this is just the beginning. I’m a big believer in putting things out into the universe, so I’m just going to leave this here. Very publicly. On the internet. Hey, Lisa (or PR person) as you Google yourself (your employer) I have a few suggestions as you scale up your modernized brand.

Sticker Book for Adults – I’m thinking this would encompass a whole scratch and sniff line. Like the unicorn pooping a rainbow of cash and it smells like a vanilla cupcake with sprinkles.

Fold & Mail Stationary – Actually, if this is something I could color then that would be ideal. Bonus points if this comes with a stamp set.

Earrings- I think I read somewhere that Lisa actually got her start making funky jewelry, but don’t quote me on that because I’m not feeling like doing my due diligence and Googling this right now. Anyway, I’d really dig some Lisa Frank costume jewelry (nickle-free of course).

Desk Set – I had to settle for a Poppin desk set, which is cool and all, but what I’d really like is a Lisa Frank Polar Bear desk set.

Well, I feel like I just wrote a letter to Santa Claus. But my Santa Claus is a middle-aged woman from Arizona.

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:

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.03.12 PM

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!

That 70’s Show: Happy Jack

Okay, let me just give you a little background about how I decided I had enough material to to this blogging challenge:

  1. I read about the challenge
  2. Oh my gosh how exciting! I want to try to do this with very special episodes!
  3. But wait…do I even know shows that start with every letter of the alphabet??
  4. Let me look up a show and episode for each letter and then I can sign up!
  5. Let me make sure I can find all of those shows/episodes!
  6. Actually, let me get really excited about this challenge and think that I have found all of the show/episodes!

Today’s episode was supposed to be Too Close for Comfort‘s “High and Inside.” Too Close for Comfort is a show I only knew existed because my mom doesn’t have cable or internet but she has some kind of TV that gets like 8 channels–one of which was “Antenna TV.” I was just chilling out a few years ago watching The Monkees, as one does, when I saw this show with Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. So when I saw that there was an episode about pills I was like, DONE!

But now I can’t find that episode anywhere. Like where did I get the idea that I could actually view this episode?? I have no idea. So here’s what I’m going to do instead…I’m going to talk about one of my favorite shows of all time and how they parodied the very special episode!

The sixth season of That 70’s Show featured episode titles that were also songs by The Who. It seems like the writers tried to match up the episode themes most literally with the titles of the songs (not their original content.) So if you think about “Happy Jack” in very literal terms and within the context of a show about a teenage boy then you could see how this would be ripe for parody. Apparently, the original promos for this episode kept the details under wraps and joked that it would be a “very special episode.” And that’s how we ended up with this:

Saved by the Bell: The College Years: Slater’s War

600x600bb-851This is a super timely post because I just impulse bought 2 tickets to Saved by the Max earlier today. See you in June, Chi-town!

Anyway, this is a college years episode. I actually didn’t think I had seen it before but then I got a few minutes in and realized I actually had seen this on TBS when I was like 15. And I loved these characters so much that I didn’t even think this episode was dumb.

But it actually is dumb, so I’ll focus on that for now. There’s a Latina in Slater’s class and she’s like really smart and brings up really great, thoughtful commentary. So Slater’s like getting to know her and she introduces him to Chicano Studies. He starts to learn more about his roots, which is cool. So like yeah, I can see how this could have been a great episode. Except that…

Slater gets all pissed off that Zack doesn’t know he’s Chicano. (Zack assumed he was Italian). But like Slater didn’t really seem to know he was Chicano. I mean sure, he probably knew it technically but Slater is like suddenly aware of his ethnicity. And then he thinks that he’s being discriminated against.

3164366bd56da9c27_wBut then Slater explains to Zack that he didn’t even know that his real last name was Sanchez until he started researching his heritage and that knowing his history is really important to him. Okay, cool. So like great. We’re all on the same page now, right? Wrong. Never underestimate Zack’s penchant for being an asshole. He once again makes everything about himself. (He’s pissed off because Slater won’t ditch the Latina he likes in order to go skiing with him and some babes). Zack says, “If you want to be a Chicano then be a Chicano. Just be one in Lake Tahoe.”

tumblr_inline_o2wvrjg3bg1s786z0_1280Slater says, “Haven’t you ever cared about anything other than your self?” NO! He hasn’t. Why are you even friends with this dude?? Kelly, Jesse, Slater, Lisa, and even Tori–they’re all relatively nice people. Why are they hanging out with this dude who has been treading water on the path to emotional intelligence for at least 4 years at this point? His hair is not that great. Especially not in the college years!

Also, hello Zack. Did you not spend like an entire freaking episode being a Native American and saying that was important to you??? So now Slater is a jerk for being into his Chicano heritage?

But he’s our “hero,” so he has to redeem himself. He goes to the sit-in that Slater and the other Chicano students are staging (because they want to establish a new department–it is basically a B plot–don’t worry about it.) While there Zack talks a cop out of arresting all the Chicano students, but actually the cop wasn’t going to arrest them in the first place. So the only benefit of this speech is that Slater realizes that Zack cares about him and their friendship.

Just wait Slater. He’s going to screw you over in the next episode. This has already happened like 72 times.

Very Special Lesson: You know what, Mark Paul Gosselaar has got to be like the nicest man on the planet because based on the script alone Zack is the least sympathetic character ever. I’m convinced that he’s probably like a saint or something who when given that script somehow balanced out into this compelling character.

Hi, Here’s a 2019 Update: I edited this because I feel like I’m so into shitting on Zack Morris that I said he was trying to be a “white savior” in this episode. (I didn’t go back and watch it) but I think convincing the cop (even if he turned out not to need convincing) not to arrest Slater and his friends was a good example of using his white privilege for good. I also removed some O.J. Simpson jokes (I was watching American Crime Story when I wrote this post) because I have since seen “O.J.: Made in America” and I also listened to some of Kim Goldman’s podcast “Confronting: O.J. Simpson” and I just don’t really feel great about those jokes anymore. I also now realize that Slater was coming to terms with his cultural identity in a non-linear way because he grew up in a culture that didn’t value it or even recognize it (hence Zack assuming he was Italian and Slater not really even knowing the truth).

Baywatch: Bash at the Beach

It’d be easy enough for a show all about babes in bikinis to shirk social responsibility and never go deeper than eye candy. But that would be expecting too little from the people of Baywatch. I believe the writers must have felt a moral responsibility in writing this. You can only encourage so much excessive sun exposure before you start to feel a little guilty. And never ones to shy away form tough subjects, they brought us this cautionary tale of skin cancer.

And also Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. The lifeguards have to revive Hulk Hogan after he gets hit in the head by a jet ski. And Macho Man is there because he and Hulk are bffs, duh. 26055

There are a lot of characters in this show and I honestly can’t remember all of their names. There’s a brunette who also is a lieutenant (in the Baywatch, I guess). Since I don’t know her name, I’m going to call her Lt. It’s this lady:

The Lt. has a hot date on a private beach with a doctor. But the doctor notices a sketchy looking mole on her leg. He tells her that there’s no such thing as a safe tan and orders her to come to his office first thing in the morning.

Lt. feels like she cannot ever go outside again, but the Hoff tells her she just needs to wear sunblock everyday and reapply frequently. (Actually, that’s solid advice and there was a time when I did think you could tan safely. So perhaps this Very Special Episode is on point. But now I actually never go outside for more than 15 minutes cumulatively every day and I probably have a Vitamin D deficiency…oops I’m not talking about the episode anymore…)

The Hoff goes straight to the doctor for some answers about the Lt.’s biopsy. So like. That’s kind of a strange thing to do, but okay. And the doctor keeps saying he absolutely cannot break doctor-patient privilege. But isn’t it also not cool to skin biopsy your girlfriend?

OMG points to the Hoff! He asks the doctor that very question. Usually, I’m the only one asking these questions. I feel like I’ve underestimated Baywatch, you guys. Actually, this is highly informative. Like I’m learning the math behind SPFs. Yasmin Bleeth is only using SPF 8 so the Lt. tells her that if her skin burns in 10 minutes (sans sunscreen) then she’ll only have 80 minutes of protection with SPF 8. Yasmin works 8 to 10 hours at a time (and she’s getting in and out of the ocean during that time!) so she’s have to reapply at least 8 times a day. AND GUESS WHAT? She doesn’t reapply.

Yasmin probably doesn’t absorb all of this info though because she sees the bandage on Lt.’s leg and realizes what’s going on. Also, Lt. says that the most common spot for skin cancer is the back of the leg. Very Special Readers, is this true??? I’m going to need to pause for a moment while I obsessively look at the back of my legs. Okay, nothing but razor burn. We’re good!

Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan saves a drowning child. And Lt. yells at a bunch of burned teenagers slathering their skin with baby oil. And it turns out that this is just the first part of a sunscreen awareness spree. She grabs a bottle of tanning oil from a woman’s hand and tells a mother to put sunscreen on her baby. Then just starts approaching random people like a crazed lunatic obsessively repeating, “Excuse me. Are you wearing sunblock? Excuse me. Are you wearing sunblock? Excuse me. Are–” it’s like the most tragic moment of Baywatch probably ever.

OMG. She actually has cancer. I seriously thought this was going to be a false alarm. Baywatch is serious business, team. I hope this is almost over because I need to get off of this emotional rollercoaster.

Meanwhile, Hulk Holgan volunteers at the “Bash at the Beach,” a wrestling fundraiser to save a local community center. Actually, the fundraiser goes on for so long that there’s two minutes left in the episode when we finally get back to the skin cancer thing.

OMG THE CANCER HAS SPREAD. I am so, so sorry because this is now the end of the episode. I accidentally picked out a multi-episode story arc…but I really, really cannot watch anymore Baywatch. So I’ll just leave you with today’s very special lesson: Reapply your sunblock. Seriously. Also, the Lt. started wearing a really cool windbreaker. Try to wear a windbreaker too if possible.




The Very Best TLC Song

Usually, I have no problem making sweeping, definitve statements about subjects with relatively little real world value. Some might even say that’s the entire reason for this blog’s existence.

But I’ve tried to resolve this myself and I’ve reached an impasse. I need your help with this one. I’ve narrowed it down to my top 4 favorite TLC songs. And I’d really really like for you to tell me which TLC song is your personal favorite.

Your “Very Best TLC Song,” so to speak.



No Scrubs


So which one is your favorite?

Why now? Why TLC? Why are you incapable of making this decision on your own? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of data entry at work. And I’ve found that pretty much the only way that I can do this is to mainline Milli Vanilli. Yep, that’s right. I enjoy Milli Vanilli and I’m saying it right here loud and clear on the world wide web.

But when you’ve been listening to two model/dancers sing mouth-the-words-to as much bubblegum pop as I have, you start to doubt that you are able to discern levels of quality anymore. Basically, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of kitsch and I’m not sure I can pull myself out of it alone. If you’ve read this far down the post without taking the poll, please scroll back up to the poll-area and cast your vote. Think of this as my pop-culture cry for help.

I’m going to link this to the daily prompt even though I don’t really think I wrote this “as if I were a music critic.” I’m just opportunistic and I’m taking the chance to post about TLC.

The Definitive Ranking of the Mary-Kate and Ashley You’re Invited Series

If you were a girl child in the 90’s, you lived for the direct-to-video release of an MK & A party.
Each 30-minute party let you live out your bff fantasies as they played directly to the camera, a.k.a. totally looking right at you because you are bffs and they invited YOU to their party.
But which parties were the best?
Which could you skip out on and which could you not afford to miss?
Fear not friends, The Very Special Blog now contains the definitive ranking of the You’re Invited series:

10. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Costume Party (1998)
This one is really just plain boring. They basically play dress-up the entire time and are like “oooh this is an outfit from the 50’s.” The songs are super-grating even for an MK&A special. I feel like this one was just filler for them to stay on schedule with releasing these VHS tapes.

9. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Birthday Party (1997)
This one is cute, but there’s not much to it. (Well, there’s not much to any of these, but that means there’s even less going on in this one.) The twins have invited their friends over to celebrate their birthday, but they’ve forgotten to make any plans for the party. Like how did you even let it get to this point, girls?? So they spend their time fantasizing about what they can throw together, only to end up going to Six Flags instead.

8. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Hawaiian Beach Party (1996)
This one is primarily just scenes of Hawaii, which makes me really jealous. The songs are much less annoying than some of the other episodes, thankfully. But ultimately, all this episode will do is make you sad you’re not splashing around in the Pacific.

7. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Mall Party (1997)
This is pretty much just one big commercial for the Mall of America. But nothing was cooler than the Mall in the 90’s and the Mall of America was the king of all that. Plus, they’re like actually doing things in the mall. So much of this series is just like “I’m singing a song about doing this thing! And I’m doing some lame choreography!” (which I loved as an eight year-old, so seriously no hate.) But in this episode the girls like destroy some boys from school in mini-golf and then they perform with their band for the entire mall. Pretty sweet.

6. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Christmas Party (1997)
It’s really hard to mess up Christmas. There’s some bad remixes of classic songs, but there are also a lot, a lot of cookies to make up for that. And there’s a song dedicated to skiing. This episode has made me long for winter and I probably ranked it higher than I should have because I love Christmas.

5. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Fashion Party (1999)
I’d like to think the twins pushed for this plot line because they were already budding-designers, over the whole acting thing. One of their friends has an older sister who gives them a tour of her college, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Then MK&A get to be in a fashion show. They also start sketching their own designs and learn about how clothing is constructed. I feel like they seem to be genuinely more interested in this than like any other episode, which makes sense because that’s how they make their living these days. Also, it is the 90’s so Mary-Kate’s fashion show outfit is one of those cultural appropriating “Chinese Dresses” that everyone liked to wear. Thankfully, they didn’t give her one of those purses fashioned in the style of a take-out box.

4. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s School Dance Party (2000)
Points for this one actually having a plot. MK&A are stressing because of the school dance. Ashley is worried that her boyfriend will be voted king of (the title of the event) without her being voted queen, and Mary-Kate is trying to ask out the bad-boy of jr. high. They sing a really, really terrible “rap song.” The choreography is horrible and it seems like everyone learned it at the last minute and can hardly remember the pacing. Also, they must have recruited the supporting cast from Disney because the mermaid kid from The Thirteen Year and the mean-girl from Zenon are both in this. At this point, it’s undeniable that the Olsen Twins are not singers and it’s no longer cute to hear them sing simple songs. You can also tell this must have been an entirely contractual obligation and they do not want to make this video.

3. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Camp Out Party (1998) 
In this episode, Mary-Kate shows all of her friends that nature can be fun. Everyone is like really bad at fishing and co-existing with bugs, but she gradually wins them over with some butterfly chasing and marshmallows. Then they get scared of shadows outside their tent and decide to go sit by the fire (after we endure another awful song). Then they get freaked out by noises as they sit by the fire and run back into the tent without putting out the fire. I’m freaking out on behalf of the viewers-at-home by this point, until their mom yells at them to go to bed and says their dad is putting out the fire. It turns out they’ve been camping out in the backyard this whole time. I still think they deserve a lecture from Smokey the Bear on this one though.

2. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Ballet Party (1997)
This one is just so sweet. The ballet numbers are adorable and the songs are 72,000 times better than the rest of the series. Mary-Kate and Ashley take a trip to Lincoln Center to practice ballet and there are some legit ballerinas that you get to see dance too. Also, MK & A are much better at dancing than they are signing. They must kind of like ballet too because they seem a lot more invested in selling this than their lame-choreography in the rest of the series.

1. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Sleepover Party (1995)
The one that started it all is clearly the best You’re Invited episode. This one is just adorable and makes me miss sleepovers. Maybe when I get married, I’ll have a sleepover bachelorette party instead of going out to bars wearing a bachelorette sash and being harassed by creepers. Anyway, this episode is sweet and has pretty decent music. I mean there’s still some weird stuff. Like one girl wants to put a raw fish on their pizza and they make the black girl wear a Tina Turner wig in this episode:

Salute Your Shorts vs. Hey Dude

Ever noticed how some shows have basically the same plotline? And what’s even more bizarre than a PSA type episode with a boyfriend dying from injuries sustained while driving under the influence (Clueless and Growing Pains), is an episode about really intense capture the flag with odd rules. I guess it makes sense in a way because these shows both involve a group of people isolated from mainstream society. So maybe that’s some strange Lord of the Flies coping mechanism?

Let’s see who did it better, shall we?

Hey Dude: War
As it turns out, the only requirement for being head of staff at the Bar None Ranch is winning a game of Capture the Flag–except if capture the flag was more like Manhunt and involved finding the flag in an undisclosed location. The two teams stay up until dawn and look for the other teams flag and the first one to run it up the flag pole in the morning wins.

Everyone is divided into the red team and the blue team, but basically all you need to know is that Ted and Brad are competing for senior staff status. Everyone else is cool just letting the duke it out and supporting them as teammates for whatever reason. I would have been all like:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 11.11.53 PMAnd when Ted starts to take everything too seriously (a.k.a uses fake military tactics), Danny and Melody tell him that they don’t actually care and that they just want to play the game.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 12.35.17 AMWhen Melody decides she’s better off just going to bed, the Blue Team kidnaps her and tries to get her to tell the Red Team’s secrets. They plan on using music-torture, Noriega-style, to get her to talk. But she really doesn’t care about the game at this point, so she tells them right off the bat that they booby-trapped it over the fireplace in the main lodge.

Meanwhile, the blue team has hidden their flag in the lining of Ted’s coat, which is pretty brilliant, if you ask me. Finally, both teams obtain the other’s flag and race to the flag pole. But when they arrive, Ted and Brad collide into one another and are knocked out cold. In the meantime, Mr. Ernst (owner of the Bar None) runs the American flag up the flagpole. The kids decide to share Senior Staff Leadership and walk off arm-in-arm.

Salute Your Shorts: Capture the Flag
Let me start of by saying that I want to play Camp Anawanna’s version of Capture the Flag. This is intense. But we’ll get to that. First off, everyone at the camp has to tryout for a position on Ug’s team. He’s challenged another counselor, and the loser will have to dress up like Madonna and sing “Material Girl” in the cafeteria. So there’s a lot riding on this. Donkey Lips (I can’t believe they let that name exist in children’s television) wants to be an attacker, so it’s a really underdog story.

Now, Camp Anawanna doesn’t play your typical capture the flag. They’ve got bunkers. They’re decked out in war paint. And best of all, they use water balloons as ammunition. Ug communicates with team captain, Budnick, via walkie talkie and a VHS Camcorder attached to Sponge’s helmet. It’s kind of like Vietnam but in a fun way.

Donkely Lips doesn’t get to be an attacker though, and he’s left behind has Budnick leads the charge across the hill. (By the way, your favorite Anawanna kids are the red team and they’re playing against the blue team). But it’s a trap! They’re heavily attacked by water balloons.

The retreat behind a log, while the blue team slowly stalks them on the offensive and things get very:
Meanwhile, Donkely Lips and Z.Z. have dug a trench and captured nine members of the blue team. (But isn’t that like the entire size of the red team?) Pinsky talks them into saving the rest of the red team, while he stays behind to watch the prisoners.

But it’s only when Donkey Lips can overcome the tire obstacle course (his kryptonite) that barricade the other team’s flag that the red team can return victorious to camp.

So, I want to try this new thing. I’m calling it “Friday Face-Off” where I compare two similar episodes and you pick your favorite. Then on the following Friday, I’ll reveal the winner and the next face off.