One Day at a Time: The Runaways

Here are 3 things I learned from this show that have nothing to do with the actual show.

  1. I thought this show was about two older women raising a little girl. But then I realized that it’s actually two daughters and the one I thought was the mom’s friend is actually a teenage daughter played by Mackenzie Phillips.
  2. Netflix is rebooting this series.
  3. The guy who played Veda Sultenfuss’s uncle in My Girl is the mom’s romantic interest.

600x600bb-85So here’s a quick run down of this four (4!) part episode. Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) is a senior in high school and she wants to marry her college drop-out boyfriend, Chuck. Her mother thinks that it’s stupid for her to a. get married while still in high school and b. marry a guy with no job and no education, so she forbids her to see him. They then runaway together.

After a day or so of living in a van, Julie seems to be regretting her decision a little bit but she stands firm in her convictions and distracts herself by making out with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Julie’s mom and her Chuck’s parents join forces to try to find the kids. But it basically consists of them saying that they have no idea where the kids might be and then Chuck’s parents judge Julie’s mother heavily for raising her daughter to be such a skank.

Then Julie and Chuck pick up a couple of strangers. (I guess van rent was getting too expensive for just the two of them.) After spending the night with some actual runaways, they realize they might be more like their parents than they expected. Basically, Julie tells the real runaways to get jobs instead of begging for money. And then the real runaways quietly plot to steal the van’s tape deck.

Luckily, their apartment super has an oddly close relationship with Julie’s mom. He makes friends with a bunch of CB radio-using truck drivers. Those truck drivers eventually track down the van.

But then things get a little scary. The cops bring the kids home only it’s not Julie and Chuck. It’s the REAL runaways. And one of them is wearing Julie’s necklace. So I’m thinking we have a robbery-homicide on our hand here, people.

But maybe I over-reacted because Julie and Chuck have actually moved to a motel. They’re selling blood and making money at a car wash. Julie decides to call Barbara, her little sister, to ask for money. She tries to get Barbara not to tell their mom where she is, but Barbara isn’t an ass so she tells her sister that she’s not going to play along. Very special pro-tip: it’s not nice to let your parents think you might be dead.

So Barbara sends their mother over to the roach-infested motel and Julie, for some reason, thinks she has bargaining power. She demands to come home under her own rules: coming and going as she pleases, taking trips with her boyfriend whenever, and not checking in with her mother. She wants to be treated as an adult, while her mother pays all of the bills and feeds her.

So yeah, that’s a pretty sweet deal. But her mother is actually a good mother and therefore doesn’t agree to Julie’s terms. It’s television, so the strong-arm method works and Julie comes home because she “misses showering.”

Very Special Lesson: You might think it’s all over and done with once your runaway comes home from a fleabag motel. But before you relax on the couch to the sounds of your children bickering underneath the safety of your roof, you’ll definitely want to call an exterminator. Put him on retainer. You’ll need him on standby.


MacGyver: Black Rhino

I have to be honest, were it not for “Blogging from A to Z” I would be doing nothing but binge watching Kimmy Schmidt and eating ice cream right now. But instead I am watching MacGyver and eating ice cream. And yes, I’m largely upset because of MacGyver’s hair in this episode. I’m all about MacGyver’s 1985 hair but I just want nothing to do with his 1989 hair.

This is badass:

This is bad:

So in this episode MacGyver goes to Africa. And how could we possible transition white people from North America to Africa? Like 3 straight minutes of Lady Blacksmith Mambazo playing over scenes of an ORV (I see you 80’s) driving through an animal reserve. Oh and by the way, just in case you thought you were watching National Geographic instead of CBS:Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 6.57.28 PM

Yes, this is a very special episode about poachers. My apologies. But I think this might be the most modern of our VSEs because idiots are still going to Africa on the regular and being jackasses. Naturally, MacGyver learns about this poaching issue and can’t help but get involved. After he watches a conservationist shoot a mortally wounded animatronic rhino to put it out of its horn-poached misery, MacGyver all but gives up on searching for the missing guy he’s in Africa to find and dedicates all of his time and energy to conservation efforts.

Also, Cuba Gooding, jr. is in this episode, so that’s a pleasant surprise. (sorry, just took a break to watch this Midnight Special performance featuring, Cuba Gooding, sr. But I’m back now).

Oh my gosh, I apologize. I’m not really following this episode but now apparently some poachers are attempting to hang Cuba Gooding, jr.? Ohhh oh my gosh, so Cuba is the dude that MacGyver has been looking for. And luckily, he shows up to save him from the hanging! Wow, like thank God for dramatic timing or this episode could have taken a much different turn.

K so now I’m back in the game. Cuba is trying to track down a major poacher and has gotten pretty close to finding him. He says his written every records office in Africa and asked for anything that had to do with this poacher. Two thoughts: 1. He wrote an entire continents worth of public agencies?? 2. This well connected poacher didn’t catch on to this one dude asking around after him??

MacGyver discovers that the poachers are hiding granulated rhino horn in sugar packets. MacGyver discovers this by tasting it. Ia want to puke everywhere ewww. Guys, no. No. That’s messed up.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t poach. Also, don’t watch an episode in which MacGyver doesn’t MacGyver anything. The only thing he made was a filter out of a napkin for which to mix that “sugar” with water and then taste the rhino horn. It was boring and gross and now I’m sad. I suggest we all go enjoy our Friday evening and forget this ever happened.

Oh, PS they do catch the poachers.



Kate & Allie: Brother Can you Spare a Dime

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I think this is an episode truly worth watching and I’ll link to it on YouTube here. If you’re not willing to take my directives blindly (ugh, fine) let me take a moment to convince you. Kate & Allie is a sitcom about two divorced women raising their children together. If you’re like “omg no, not Beaches the TV show,” don’t worry. It stars Jane Curtain and her dry wit will take care of you, always.

Another fun fact about Kate & Allie is that it was legit filmed in New York City. A lot of shows in New York film at Astoria Studios or in the Brooklyn Navy Yard or son on and so forth. But this was filmed at Ed Sullivan Theater (which you may be more familiar with as the long time home of The Late Show) and on Teletape Studios’s Second Stage at West 81st and Broadway (where Sesame Street was also filmed at the time). This is of course in addition to the numerous on-location exterior scenes in the series. And believe me. there are a ton of those in this episode.

In short, Allie (Jane Curtain) leaves her wallet in the back of a cab. She’s miles away from home and dressed in dusty old clothes from spending the morning cleaning out her brownstone. As she walks from Washington Heights to the West Village, everyone mistakes her for a homeless woman. This episode was made in conjunction with the New York Coalition for the Homeless, and Jane Curtain certainly does the subject matter justice. The New York Times ran this piece about the episode in 1987. Their description of  Jane Curtain’s experience on location are definitely worth the read.

Jem: A Father Should Be

jerrica_benton_jemSo happy to be catching up with my girl Jem. Over at the starlight house, Ba Nee is super sad because she has no father. So Jem goes down to the record studio to find the drummer in Riot’s band. Ba Nee once thought this drummer was her father, so they’re hoping to use him as a surrogate dad. (Woah, keeping it real, Jem.) Hoping to make Ba Nee feel better, the studio musician heads back to the Starlight House with Jem.

But Ba Nee is way past wanting to hang out with a fake dad. She even says she “doesn’t want to live.” Woah, so now we learn about how to take Ba Nee to the hospital, right? Nope, no, cue music video about “family.”

maxresdefaultBa Nee can’t understand why her real father won’t come to the Starlight House to pick her up. And Jem decides to comfort her by saying hey, “we don’t even know if your father is alive.” So Jem & The Holograms start a missing persons investigation. All they know about Ba Nee’s father is that he is a Vietnam vet who has red hair and is named Martin.

Jem goes to Riot (again for help). Turns out he’s a military brat and his dad is pretty high up. So the military prints a list of possible red-headed Martin’s for Jem. And there are only 3 possible names! Can you believe it? Neither can I.

The Holograms split up across the country to check out all of the Martins. Tons of people are willing to help them as soon as they say they’re trying to help a little girl. A doctor even gives them some guys home address!

So things get really, really sketchy here. I’m like totally freaked out and I feel like this almost needs a trigger warning. Kimber has quite obviously found the right father. But Jem brings back some creep-0 who seems to be pretending to be the father. This pretending also seems pretty obvious, but Jem is slow on the uptake and let’s the fake father take Ba Nee from the Starlight House. And he takes her to a freaking abandoned zoo. WTF Jem. This is giving me nightmares as an adult. If I’d seen this as a kid I would have straight up cried.

Ba Nee has now been kidnapped and is being held captive in an abandoned zoo exhibit. This is a freaking horror film, you guys. The creep-o calls Jem and demands 1 million dollars in exchange for Ba Nee. The real father uses his army training to try to rescue Ba Nee from the abandoned zoo exhibit.

And then he has a freaking Vietnam War flashback in the middle of the abandoned zoo. This is the heaviest children’s cartoon subject matter I have ever seen in my entire life. But this flashback actually turns out to be the best thing to have possibly happened. You see, the real father has been suffering from amnesia. And aside from the intense war moments, he also begins to remember Ba Nee’s mom.

mqdefaultJem uses synergy to fool the creep-o into thinking a gorilla is chasing him. Then he runs right into Ba Nee and her real father (who has rescued her). Her real father also captures the creep-o. And then they have a big party to celebrate that everything turned out okay! Even The Misfits show up to wish Ba Nee well. Like seriously. They’re being nice to her.

Very Special Lesson: Wow, there’s just so much to unpack here. I think the most important take away from this is not to assume someone is your father without extensive genetic testing on the front end.

In the Heat of the Night: Crackdown

Well, folks. Much like my 21 Jump Street Pilot Episode post, this is going to be almost entirely from my memory! That’s largely because all of the YouTube episodes entitled “In the Heat of the Night: Crackdown” are wrong and this episode isn’t available on Amazon or iTunes. So, all I have is the Youtube clip below and the searing affect this episode had on my 11 year old mind to guide me.

Watch the clip below and join me won’t you?

If you didn’t recognize her from the clip above, that’s Audrey from National Lampoon’s Vacation. So, I first saw this episode when I was about 11 years old. You know, right at that point in time when all of the counselors at school are trying to scare you about drugs before you become a teenager. So this episode had a profound effect on me.

I don’t know if this is still the case, but WGN used to air In the Heat of the Night reruns in the middle of the day for like 3 hours at a time. I think I caught this episode on summer break at my grandfather’s house (prime In the Heat of the Night watching time). The whole world of boys and parties was so mystical to me then. And the looming threat of casual drug use felt terrifying and inevitable.

Now, let me just say for the record (or really just for my mother as she reads this post), I have never been offered crack cocaine. Not even once. But at 11, when I watched this episode, I was sure I would one day be peer pressured into heavy drug use. I also was sure that someone was going to try to get me to smoke a cigarette at gun point. But then I grew up and can honestly say that no one has ever offered me a cigarette. Plenty of people have tried to bum smokes that I didn’t have or ask for a light, but if any of the chain-smoking theater kids I went to college with offered me a cigarette, it was such a rarity that I can’t even remember it now. (TL;DR: A lot of people in my childhood told me that big tobacco were “drug dealers” and I took this very literally.)

I also tended to over identify with “hard hitting” topics on TV (and now I have this great blog because of it!)

So when 11-year old me saw “Crackdown” here is what I thought:

  1. I will be a shy girl at a party one day.
  2. A cute boy will approach me.
  3. IF I TALK TO THE CUTE BOY: He will offer me a thing to smoke. What am I smoking? What is this? Is this crack? You SMOKE crack?
  4. IF I SMOKE THE CRACK: I will become a crack addict.
  5. IF I BECOME A CRACK ADDICT: I will pawn all of my family’s prized possessions.
  6. IF I PAWN ALL OF MY FAMILY’S PRIZED POSSESSIONS: I will welcome the attention of a friendly cop who gets way too involved in my case on a personal level and only wants to see me succeed.

And here is how 11-year old me planned to avoid the situation above:

  1. I will never go to unsupervised parties.
  2. IF I END UP AT AN UNSUPERVISED PARTY: I will not talk to any boys.
  3. IF I AM FORCED INTO SPEAKING TO A BOY: I will not speak to him privately and I will not inhale anything.
  4. IF I SEE A CRACK PIPE: I will pretend to faint and then crawl my way to freedom when no one is paying attention.
  5. IF I PRETEND TO FAINT AND THEN CRAWL MY WAY TO FREEDOM: I will die alone and friendless and that will be just fine.

And here is the very special lesson I wish that 11-year old me had known:

  1. I will one day be a shy girl at a party.
  2. A cute boy will approach me.
  3. If that cute boy offers me crack cocaine, I will say to myself, “Hm I don’t think this is the kind of person I want to start a relationship with.”
  4. I will tell the cute boy, “I have to go to the bathroom. Bye.”
  5. I will have fun at the party with my friends and never do crack cocaine.

But I didn’t know that and I was a very sensitive child. So I spent the rest of the afternoon very sad for Audrey from Vacation and also had the oddly empowered feeling that comes from being “scared straight.” Hah-ha, I said! I will never allow this to happen to me! And that’s what I said every time I watched a lifetime movie for the next two years. And now I get to share all of this with you 🙂

Happy Days: Richie Almost Dies

hqdefaultRichie decides to buy a motorcycle from Fonzie. I really can’t imagine Richie on a motorcycle at all. But fine, this is where the writers are taking us. His dad tries to prevent Richie from riding the bike until Fonzie promises that bikes are totally safe as long as Richie wears a helmet and leather or whatever. Now, what idiot seriously believed this even in the 50’s? I figured Howard might be a little more worldly since he’s the Grand Poobah of the Leopard Lodge, but I stand corrected.

Now that we’ve set this up so idealistically, it’s obvious that it will all end in tragedy. Richie and his girlfriend, Lori Beth, end up in a terrible motorcycle accident. This accident leaves Richie in a coma, from which the doctor isn’t sure he’ll ever wake up. (Good news, he was wearing his helmet.)

While the family sits around the living room and waits to see how things will turn out for Richie, Leather Tuscadero (singer/songwriter with a late 70’s mullet) regales us with a ballad on the family piano. And just in case this wasn’t schmaltzy enough, we get a soft-focused vignette montage of Richie doing random stuff from the past few seasons. Yikes, this show was so far past it’s prime at this point.

hqdefault1Late at night, Fonzie breaks into Richie’s room to talk to him. Fonzie (who is essentially a mystic/archangel at this point in the show) make a deal with God. And guess what? Richie wakes up!

I seriously feel like I just watched an episode of Touched by an Angel.

Very Special Lesson: If you’re going to live dangerously, make sure you live dangerously with the Fonz.

As Told by Ginger: Stuff’ll Kill Ya

as_told_by_ginger-showAs Told By Ginger was one of my favorite shows in 2000. I was an awkward preteen and here was the perfect show that depicted exactly that. It was a cartoon (yay, kid stuff!) that talked about puberty (ugh, awkward stuff) and perfectly reflected exactly where I was at that time in my life. Plus, my girl Macy Gray sang the theme song. What I didn’t realize is that this show produced episodes long after I stopped watching. In fact, today’s episode first aired in 2006 and talks about the dangers of COFFEE! (Insert hyperbolic gasp here).

That’s right, this isn’t even a caffeine pills episode, people. This is straight up filtered coffee from the coffee shop. Now, when I last saw Ginger, she was a student at Lucky Jr. High. But she’s moved up in life and is now attending high school.

For all intents and purposes in this episode, coffee is cocaine. Ginger overhears a couple of “cool girls” illicitly discussing a “Mocoloco Frothinator” that allows them to finish the overwhelming amount of homework they have to do each night. So Ginger goes out in search of the cure for her exhaustion.

Suddenly it’s after 12:30 in the morning and Ginger crashes. But she has to wake up for school of course–except that she doesn’t wake up until after 10 am. And her mom won’t write her a sick note. Ugh. So Ginger guzzles some more coffee (which by the way is making me have major coffee cravings) and doesn’t even bother to change out of the close she wore the day before. She has rapid, pressured speech and generally acts like a spaz.

mv5bmtq0mju5odewnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnty1mjyymje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_Her mother and friends confront her at the coffee shop. And even though she only had her first coffee less than 24 hours earlier, she has no idea how many she’s had. Ginger’s mom forces her to throw out her coffee (which is actually 6 coffees in a carry-out container, I should point out.)

“Anything that alters your body or mind is a strict no-no,” her mom says. Well, I guess that makes me kind of a crack-baby then because I’ve been drinking milky coffee since I was four. So basically, Ginger just goes to bed and gets a good night’s rest. She also falls asleep in class that day…so maybe like a harm reduction model was necessary here. But instead, Ginger (and her mom) cold turkey quit coffee.

My mom cold turkey quit coffee once and she got the shakes. So yes, I’m saying that I come from a family of caffeine addicts. But since none of us have hypertension, I’d like to think we’re all just super passionate about lowering our risks for Parkinson’s and liver cancer. Although what’s this about a fairly common genetic mutation?? Well, I may have to under go genetic testing now. Great, thanks Blogging from A to Z. This has been a really productive challenge for me so far.

Very Special Lesson: Ignore Ginger and drink lots of coffee. (This post was not paid for by Starbucks. I promise.) Unless you have that very specific (yet common) genetic mutation I just read about, then you should watch your coffee intake. (Please consult your primary care physician and not this blog.)

Full House: Stephanie’s Wild Ride

Whoops, due to the fact that I accidentally scheduled this post for March 31st (which is in the past) some of you may have already read this…but for those of you that haven’t:

I’m so glad the Phoenicians made F the sixth letter of their alphabet. The first 5 posts in this challenge have been rough, but now I feel like I’m amongst old friends. That’s right, today’s show is the tried and true very special show, Full House. In this episode, Stephanie and her bff/resident bad girl, Gia, are at the mall picking up some older guys.

screen-shot-2013-10-01-at-1-54-45-amThey pretend to be sophomores in high school even though they are thirteen. But when DJ and Kimmy Gibbler show up, they recognize the boys from their school as total sleazeballs who drilled a hole in the girls’ locker room. But for some reason, even with the knowledge that these two dudes are juvenile sexual predators, DJ and Kimmy go along with Stephanie and Gia pretending to be three years older than they are.

The two guys offer Gia and Steph a ride home. At first Stephanie is all like unsure about riding in a care with strangers (so prudent) but the Gia tells her that they’ve been talking for three minutes and therefore are not strangers (blargh) so Steph goes along.

These guys apparently have a death wish, so they drive their convertible at like 100 mph on sharp turns. And when that’s not thrilling enough, they decide to drive on the wrong side of the road, just to make things extra “fun.”

bef2d06a99b0a19ce499020786c2b32bWhen Steph gets home and tells DJ about her wild wide, DJ is livid. Gia and the guys try to get Steph to joy ride with them again after dinner, but DJ threatens to tell their dad if Stephanie goes with them. I think it’s important to point out that the very next episode is “Under the Influence,” in which we learn that the girls’ mom was killed by a drunk driver. So it’s really not surprising that DJ is adamant about road safety. Also, I feel really bad for her knowing now that she had to deal with a dumb sister in this episode and then a dumb best friend in the very next episode. But her best friend is Kimmy so I guess she deals with a dumb best friend a lot.

That night, Danny tells Stephanie that Gia has been in a car accident. She’s okay (this is Full House after all) but has to spend the night in the hospital. Stephanie realizes she could just as easily have been injured in that car if not for DJ. But DJ wasn’t always so responsible. It turns out that when DJ was 13 she and Kimmy stayed out all night on Halloween and even hitchhiked to Berkley. Yikes, so maybe that’s why they never had a true Halloween episode.

Very Special Lesson: Riding in cars with boys is dangerous. Didn’t you see that movie with Drew Barrymore?

Eight is Enough: Never Try Eating Nectarines Since Juice May Dispense

eighttitleThis is the first time I’ve watched Eight is Enough, so I figured why not start with the pilot? The show is about a family with eight kids (hence the title). Within the first ten minutes of this pilot, one of the kids gets arrested in a drug bust. Her parents immediately hire a lawyer and try to get her a light sentence. But oldest son (played by Mark Hamill in the pilot) freaks out and says that hiring a lawyer and will make her look “bad” to her friends because they’ll think she ratted out her boyfriend (who incidentally was the one who the drugs belonged to anyway. Very special rule #42: the drugs never belong to the regular cast member).

You’d think that maybe the important part of this episode was the teen daughter whose boyfriend had a ton of narcotics on him and her subsequent felony arrest for “obstruction of justice.” But no, the main item of importance seems to be Mark Hamill’s disagreement with his father. He even decides it’s time to get his own apartment (triggered by this incident specifically).

4So all 7 of the other kids call a meeting to discuss Mark Hamill leaving the nest. Their dad gives this whole big speech about how he won’t apologize to Mark Hamill because he did nothing wrong. And the kids basically say they don’t really care one way or the other. The daughter who got arrested thinks her dad is doing the right thing by hiring a lawyer for her and not even providing one for her boyfriend (as Mark Hamill suggested) so it’s good to see she’s no idiot. But really, this whole meeting is about how the other 7 kids want Mark Hamill’s room. Vultures.

One of the kids, Mary, is part of a study on the waking cycle of bats. She wakes up super early to get to the lab and finds her mother in the kitchen. (Their father is so stressed out about Mark Hamill leaving the house that he’s grinding his teeth and keeping her awake.) They get to talking and Mary says that sometimes the kids at school make fun of her for being part of such a big family. And Mary’s mother tells her that about half of the kids were accidents.

Uh, what? What kind of conversation is this! Look, I’ve never been a parent but I feel like the Parenting 101 class probably tells you not to discuss the merits of hiring a criminal lawyer for one of your children with the rest of your children at-large. But even if that’s not the case, I’m pretty sure telling one of your children that she (and possible 50% of her siblings) are the result of unplanned pregnancies is at least a no-no.

Just a couple of “teens”

Also, am I supposed to believe this woman is a high school student? I just looked her up on IMDB and she was 23 years old when this aired. Is this the original Dawson’s casting? So the just kind of leave that half of you were unplanned bit hanging and they don’t really resolve the felony arrest plot line either. But Mark Hamill and his dad do make up.

So..surprisingly this was NOT a very special episode. Whoops, my bad. In my defense, this series’s description sounded like a 1970s version of 7th Heaven. And I am super shocked that a teenager’s felony drug arrest was not grounds for some seriously high stakes lecturing.

Please join me tomorrow for the Letter “F” as I continue fumbling my way through Blogging from A to Z.