Family Matters: The Show Must Go On vs. Boy Meets World: The Plays the Thing

This week it’s Shakespeare vs. Shakespeare in a TGIF matchup as Family Matters‘s production of “Romeo and Juliet” squares up against Boy Meets World‘s “Hamlet.”

While I would argue that Hamlet has a better plot than Romeo and Juliet, I’m grading on what we actually see of the production in each of these sitcoms. And based on that alone, Family Matters is the clear winner. (If we were judging on episode plot it would be all about Boy Meets World though. Cory squanders the lead in Hamlet because he doesn’t want to wear tights and it’s all a very good insight into gender roles and insecurities whereas FM is about Laura and Steve kissing as the leads in R&J).

But now back to the shows within the shows. We get to see most of the balcony scene uninterrupted in Family Matters. And Steve’s undying love for Laura makes him a pretty good Romeo…that is until he accidentally destroys the entire set which appears to be all interconnected by a pulley system.

Flying in set pieces is all well and good. But connecting each and every joint with string? That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen! However, I have to imagine that this makes strike a lot easier.

It’s major flaws aside, the set really is beautiful. It has a lot of levels, uses the full stage, and showcases a fairly interesting lighting design. In the screenshot for this episode, you can see Laura and Steve lit from behind the curtains of Juliet’s bedroom and from the front by “the moon.”

However, if the set was built with a kill switch, then the staging should have been such that Steve Urkel was NO WHERE NEAR IT. Point to Boy Meets World for staging because they have a whole cast visible and nothing breaks.

The costumes for both productions are really strong. However, I’m going to give the point to BMW because there’s just a little more going on with them. Shawn has a prosthetic belly, Minkus is sporting a monochromatic ensemble as the replacement for Cory in the title role, and there’s more diversity in the fabrics and color palettes.

Very Special Winner: Family Matters

Bracket Challenge: The Show Within a Show Showdown

It’s been a looong time since we did a bracket challenge, Very Special Readers! In fact, I thought of doing one during quarantine but I couldn’t remember how to do them because that’s how much my brain didn’t work! Anyway, I’m happy to say that most (if not all) of my executive functioning has since returned. With that said, allow me to introduce The Show Within a Show Showdown.

The Golden Girls': Memorable Images from the Iconic 1980s Series | IndieWire

Each of the shows in the showdown were selected because each production included a least one of our regular lead characters. The productions are “real” within the context of the show, a.k.a. no dream sequences, daydreams, or hallucinations (this excluded the “Lucy Goes to Scotland” episode of I Love Lucy).

We also must see the cast in full costume for a minimum of one full minute’s worth of airtime (this excluded a super cute Sister, Sister sequence which only had about forty seconds worth of “show within a show time” and just isn’t enough airtime to compare it to the other contenders.) While my reviews will describe the episode in its entirely, points will only be awarded for the show within a show. Thus, there needs to be enough of the play or musical itself to be able to give it a score within the point system.

Saved By The Bell”s Most Iconic Episodes |

Here’s the point system:

All episodes will be graded on a 5 point scale and the winning episode will have the higher score in each matchup:

-Overall Plot of the musical – 1 point
-Music – 1 point
-Choreography – 1 point
-Costumes – 1 point
-Scenic Design – 1 point

-Overall Plot of the play – 2 points
-Costumes – 1 point
-Scenic Design – 1 point
-Staging – 1 point

*Please note, I will use the play rating scale for the final round when a musical faces off against a play.

Any questions? Pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!

Grab your bracket below! And stay tuned for posts every Monday starting January 10th.

Family Matters: Dark and Stormy Night

When the weather is too bad to go out on Halloween night, the Winslow family decides to play “pass the ghost story” instead.

Carl starts the story and we are transported to the castle of Count von Winslow (Carl). He then passes the torch to Harriette, who continues the story. She describes the countess (Harriette) as “the brains of the family.” And really ups the ante in this next part — the count and countess are VAMPIRES. We then see the count and countess drinking juice boxes of blood, which is cute and gross at the same time!

Now it’s Eddie’s turn to continue the story. He describes the “teen heartthrob” son of the family — who is like a 90’s Elvis Vampire version of Eddie Winslow. The big drama thus far is that Eddie Vampire is a rebel who doesn’t torture the townspeople.

Eddie passes the story to Urkel. And I’d like to pause a moment and give Jaleel White a lot of credit for maintaining the Urkel voice for NINE YEARS on this show.

Urkel describe an Earl, who is passing by and asks to stay at the castle overnight because his carriage has broken. The von Winslows are more than happy to have some fresh blood in the house. Urkel then passes the story to Waldo.

Waldo describe the von Winslow’s faithful butler, who ushers Urkel to his room for the night. Yeah…he doesn’t really contribute all that much before swiftly passing the story to Laura. And here’s where things get really interesting.

Laura describes the Earl checking out his bedroom and eventually hanging his coat on a hook on the wall. This hook reveals a secret revolving door with one of the von Winslow’s victims (Laura) chained to it.

The Earl removes her gag and she explains that she is a peasant girl and has been trapped by the von Winslows ever since her carriage broke down!!!! She explains that they are vampires and the Earl should absolutely not drink the wine because it’s drugged so that they can suck his blood more easily.

Laura then passes the story to Rachel. She describes how the Earl avoids drinking the wine. (There’s a lot of switching the cups Princess Bride style during this portion.) When Count von Winslow realizes the Earl won’t drink the wine, he flat out admits that he wants to drink his blood and challenges him to a duel.

After a harrowing battle in which the teeny tiny Earl fights off the much bigger and stronger Count with a wedge of garlic brie and then pulls down a large curtain to expose all the von Winslows to a ton of sunlight, he rushes upstairs to save peasant Laura.

To make things truly spooky, the Earl looks up right before he is about to kiss Laura and reveals that HE IS A VAMPIRE.

Very Special Halloween Lesson: Don’t ask to spend the night at strange homes!!!

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: 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

Family Matters: Stevil

This episode is terrifying. It’s so abnormal for Family Matters to pull something like this that they had to have Steve warn the audience that this episode is “a little scary” (a.k.a. get the kids out of the room, or they will all have nightmares forever). Well, I was a kid that was not removed from the room, and thus ventriloquist dummies have been horrifying to me ever since. Today, I conquer that fear.

Steve makes a ventriloquist dummy that looks exactly like him. But he sucks at being a ventriloquist. So he goes to bed feeling dejected, and in the night lightning/a demon spirit strikes the dummy and he basically becomes the spawn of Satan. You know, good clean Halloween fun.

Steve wakes up in the night and the dummy speaks to him in the most frightening voice I can imagine. It’s second only in scariness to a Furby when the batteries start to die. (I even removed the batteries from mine and it still talked!!! So I locked it in a cabinet for years because it was obviously evil.) Steve tries to tell everyone about the demon in their house, but no one believes him.

Then we learn that apparently this only happened because Steve wished that the dummy could talk. Also, the dummy hates the Winslows and pretty much wants to murder all of them. And by pretty much I mean literally. Wtf. This is a family show. It’s called Family Matters. You can’t just have creepy dummies murdering the family puts the family in Family Matters.

Blissfully unaware, the two youngest Winslows head out to trick-or-treat as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin. Carl warns them not to eat any of it until he has time to inspect it because everyone was worried about razor blades in candy in the 90’s. Anyway, Steve thinks they’re all safe because he’s locked Stevil away (just like my Furby), only Stevil finds a way out of his prison!

He sneaks down the chimney and tricks poor, dumb Eddie into thinking he’s Santa. Then he straight up kills him. One of the Winslows is already dead! Then Stevil chops Laura up into pieces and puts her body in all of the kitchen cabinets. It’s horrible, but she can still talk and quip and I guess that’s somehow supposed to make us feel better. But it doesn’t make us feel better! It makes us think that we could be chopped into pieces and live to tell about it as a decapitated person. Ugh!

But the worst, the absolute worst, is when Stevil turns Harriet into a jack-in-the-box. Like this is actually going to give me nightmares right now at 25 and I have no shame in that. So then, Steve goes into the living room to tell Carl that Stevil has dismembered literally everyone in his family.

And Carl laughs. He doesn’t believe him. It’s all so ridiculous. He tells Steve to lighten up. AND THEN IT TURNS OUT THAT CARL IS STEVIL’S VENTRILOQUIST DUMMY. The only thing left to do is for Steve to physically fight Stevil, which is surprisingly hard. I mean Steve doesn’t have the best hand-eye coordinator, and for a while it seems like Stevil will probably win this fight.

But then Steve rips off Stevil’s head and dismembers him like Stevil did to the Winslows. But then Stevil’s body parts find all of their missing pieces and reconnect. And like basically at this point, if I were Steve, I’d pretty much decide I was doomed. But then Steve wakes up and it’s just a dream. (Ah, yes. The dream trope.) And then Eddie threatens to lobotomize Steve with a hand-mixer. But that’s just a dream too! So then Steve wakes up for real and he and Eddie go off to have a nice day and the dummy is just a dummy.

VERY Early Halloween Lesson: But, like do you guys think I should call my dad and warn him about the Furby that’s locked in a cabinet in my childhood bedroom?

Family Matters: Like A Virgin

Harriet finds a love note that fell out of Eddie’s pants pocket and she shares it with Carl. It says “Eddie, we were foolish to wait. Last night was so special, and now I want us to share this experience as often as possible.” This is literally the worst thing I could ever think of my parents finding and reading. Even now, as an adult and non-teenage person, I would gouge my eyes out if they found a love note in my pants pocket. Well, actually I would be like “what are you doing in my pants pocket and why did you read that?”

Anyway, it turns out the the love note was in reference to Eddie supporting his girlfriend through her mother’s rehab and wasn’t a reference to anything sexual at all. But instead of just being like “Okay, son. Sorry we snooped and ready your note,” Carl asks him point blank if he’s still a virgin. (At this point Urkel has come over to the house and is now eavesdropping from the kitchen.) So Urkel totally overhears Eddie say he’s a virgin and then decides that’s information that’s totally okay to share with all of the cool guys at school. Omg. Whattt?

To be fair, he’s trying to use Eddie as an example of how you can be a “real man” and also be a virgin, but wait yeah it’s still definitely not okay to have shared that information. But then Eddie tries to lie to everyone and say he’s not a virgin. And Steve is all like no, I heard you talking to your dad! Urkel is so not even amusing in this episode, except that he does kind of have a cool ninja-towel-fight with everyone in the locker room, so I’m giving him points on that.

Then Laura and Eddie have a heart to heart about the double standard of being a virgin for females and males. And Eddie finally realizes it feels better to stand up for his choices than to hide from his “friends” or try to lie. It’s not like everyone is all like Whoops, Eddie. We were wrong. You’re really a cool dude. They pretty much continue to think he’s lame but he feels a lot better for standing by his decision.

Very Special Lesson: Hey, I think this might be like the perfect not-played-for-laughs Very Special Episode. Good job, Eddie!

Family Matters: Saved by the Urkel

Carl get electrocuted by a lamp (after Urkel tells him it’s unsafe). Steve gives him CPR (while also walking the television viewers through the steps, but you should probably take a class before trying this yourself). Also, Steve’s chest compressions are noticeably too shallow, but I’m assuming that’s because he’s doing “CPR” on someone who is definitely not in cardiac arrest in real life. Carl wakes up and feels just fine, except for the fact that he now owes his life to Urkel.

So then Carl is super nice to Steve and it is weird. I hate it and I want them all to go back to being mean to him. What weird Leave it to Beaver world have we been transported into??  Okay, well he’s actually not that nice because he can’t manage to apologize to Steve for treating him like crap for his entire childhood. He finally does apologize, but he still feels indebted to Steve. He grants Steve his only wish in the world, unlimited access to the Winslow house.  Carl (obviously) regrets this immediately.

Meanwhile, the elder Winslow children feel awful that they couldn’t help their father. They decide it might be a good idea to take a CPR class like Steve did. They also start being super nice to Steve, and it is similarly weird. As Eddie puts it “Look Steve, you’re a nerdy, annoying dweeb. But after what you did, the least I could do is put up with you.”

This leads Steve to realize that he doesn’t want their friendship if it isn’t genuine. So he tells Carl to just go ahead and be mad at him for all of the stupid stuff he does (i.e. sit down on a freshly varnished chair, break the whole house, etc.) This leads Carl to berate Steve in a full-on verbally abusive onslaught, to Steve’s glee. That’s pretty awful. Luckily, for Steve, Laura is still happy to have him as a friend. She acknowledges that he’s nerdy and annoying, but he’s still a good friend. And then she kisses him on the cheek!

Very Special Lesson: You can save someone’s life, but that doesn’t mean they have to like you. They probably should like you though. Yeah. They should seriously at least like you a little.

Family Matters: An Unlikely Match

Steve is rocking a really lovely yellow sweater and practicing great dental hygiene in the school bathroom when some jerk has the audacity to bully him. Okay, so Steve gets a little sassy with them when the cool kids are smoking in the bathroom. But they are literally KILLING him with their bad habit. Then instead of just shaming him with their words like the girls in Full House, they give him a swirly.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.13.53 PM

[Side note: George Jefferson stops by to show Carl his new Porsche.]

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.02.19 PM

The next day at school Urkel tries to tell one of the bullies he’s been bulking up, and hasn’t seen another one of the bullies (Andre) around. Urkel assumes the bully is hiding because he’s afraid of Steve’s buffness. When Urkel learns that the reason the bully isn’t around is because he’s in the hospital with leukemia, Urkel decides to organize a bone marrow matching drive.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.05.01 PM

Then we time jump one month to show Carl decorating the living room with junk he got at a police auction. Harriet had been bugging him to redo the living room, and Carl decides the best way to do this is to make it look like a drug dealer lives there.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.06.00 PM

Meanwhile, at the high school no one has heard of cancer. Steve explains to everyone what a bone marrow transplant is and rallies all the over-18-year-olds into signing up to have their blood tested. And you know what? Nerds in sitcoms just can’t dry their hands. Stephanie Tanner couldn’t work the hand-dryer and Steve Urkel breaks the paper towel dispenser.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.06.48 PM

Luckily, Steve manages to get the paper towel situation under control just before Andre enters the bathroom to thank him for saving his life. Andre can’t understand why Steve would do anything nice for him. Steve tells him that life is more important than people being a jackass to you. (My words, not his.) And Andre offers to let Steve give him a swirly. Steve declines this generous offer, and Andre offers to buy his lunch instead.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.39.45 PM

Then we get a PSA from Laura and Steve. But really it’s just the actors not in character though still wearing their costumes. You can tell because Jaleel White isn’t being Steve or Stefan right here:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.50.41 PMDoes anyone know if that number still works?

Very Special Lesson: Whenever you feel like treating someone like shit, just remember that person could be your bone marrow match.