In I Love Lucy, Ethel and Lucy write an operetta for their women’s club because Lucy (as treasurer) has so badly managed their finances that they desperately need to fundraise without spending any money. The show starts off really well. We get to see Ethel as the ingenue, which is nice because the show frequently forced Vivian Vance into a frumpy look, and its great to hear her show off both her lyric and coloratura soprano styles.
Ricky play the romantic lead and Lucy plays the “queen of the gypsies” whose solo song is drowned out by a chorus of much better singers — much to Lucy’s chagrin. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the full production because Lucy paid for all the costumes and set pieces with a post-dated cheque. Annnd everything gets repossessed mid-production. That said, the set pieces are truly beautiful and we do get to hear some of the wonderful music as composed by series composer Eliot Daniel. I would almost have awarded I Love Lucy the point for costumes…but…The Golden Girls knocked it out of the park on this one.
I mean SERIOUSLY just look at the detailed feather work here, people!
This was a close matchup, but The Golden Girls won with three points over I Love Lucy‘s two. Here’s a snippet of the winning production production:
One thing unique about Growing Pains versus most of the other contenders in this contest is that we do get to see a whole lot of the production. We’re treated to several minutes of Our Town and lots of quirky true to school amateur theater moments — the lights are too bright, the kids forget their lines, the director (the school’s coach and PE teacher) is still on stage when the curtain rises, etc. It’s very cute and I got a kick out of watching it. That said, the staging is horrible. No one seems to know how to cheat out — either because they wanted to keep that real amateur vibe or because these are a bunch of film actors with no stage experience. Needless to say, this isn’t a problem on The Golden Girls.
While the costumes are good on Growing Pains (and once again true to a high school costume shop where everything is just a bit ill fitting) I just couldn’t resist the mid-century dresses they put our girls Blanche and Rose in. Plus, Dorothy shows up as the small town sheriff (as a last minute understudy because no one else can fit into the costume) and I just love her energy in this role. So I did award the point to The Golden Girls for costuming.
Scenic design was a tricky point in this matchup. Those of you familiar with Our Town will know that the set is intentionally sparse. And the Growing Pains crew did a nice job honoring this in a way that’s both true to the tradition but also still interesting to look at.
But I did give the point to “Picnicish” (lol I’m not actually sure what the play is called but it’s not quite “Picnic”) because frankly I just thought this set was gorgeous.
You can see the stage a little bit in this video of the Blanche’s audition:
Growing Pains wins on overall plot because they do follow the Our Town script and we see a lot of their production! Also, I’ve never seen Christa Denton in anything other than this (she plays “Monica” as Our Town‘s “Emily) but oh my gosh I can’t take my eyes off her. She makes what could be a boring ingenue role really charming to watch.
The Golden Girls is great but um…they definitely go off book…as it turns out the out of town actor paying the lead turns out to be a romantic scammer. He sleeps with the entire cast of women and tells them all that they’re secretly in love. He’s gross. The GOOD NEWS is that Blanche confronts him on stage and it does kind of track with the performance…he’s playing a drifter…the call him out for lying to everyone…and then Dorothy, the sheriff, runs him out of “town.” The audience, none the wiser, erupts in applause. But it’s unclear how exactly the show will continue after the opening scene…it’s probably just a wrap at that point.
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.
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.
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:
For MUSICALS* -Overall Plot of the musical – 1 point -Music – 1 point -Choreography – 1 point -Costumes – 1 point -Scenic Design – 1 point
For PLAYS -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.
I spent so much of my time in the kitchen during 2020 that I enjoy shopping for kitchenware now! I’m obsessed! Here are some things I found on the internet that feel inexplicably important to have in my kitchen:
I recently rewatched Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Days later, I’m still thinking about it. So obviously I had to rush right over to the episode of The Golden Girls where the girls arrive home late after a Madonna concert and find that their house has been robbed.
It’s very interesting to see how differently each of the girls respond to the break-in. Dorothy responds by mis-quoting Dirty Harry in a loud voice (to threaten any lingering robbers). Sophia is utterly unafraid because she is old and “bathtubs are dangerous.” Blanche frantically searches the house for any missing expensive item. And Rose freaks the f**k out.
I’m reading a book called Chatter by Ethan Kross and I would definitely say Rose has been overtaken by chatter in this episode. She purchases a guard dog (even though she is afraid of big dogs). She purchases mace (which Blanche borrows when she mistakes it for hairspray…that doesn’t end well.)
When Rose comes home one day with a gun, Dorothy urges her to see a therapist. The girls decide to go as a group and they all feel better except for Rose. Things get so bad that Rose sleeps during the day and stays up all night.
One night as Rose lies awake in the darkness, she hears a disturbance at the front door. With their new alarm system wailing, Rose takes a shot. And thank God she’s a horrible shot because she almost killed Blanche’s date but luckily killed her vase instead. (Interestingly enough there is a big continuity error with the vase because it reappears fully intact in subsequent episodes.)
Things continue to escalate when Rose is in a parking deck and knees a parking attendant who chased her down to return her keys. To be fair, this guy should have yelled out something more informative than “hey lady” while in hot pursuit of an old woman, so I can’t really blame Rose for going for the “safe deposit box,” as she calls it. Anyway, this all somehow makes Rose feel better and in control of her life again.
Very Special Lesson: Losing your sense of reality and kneeing an innocent person in the family jewels will somehow help you regain your sense of power in the world –wait what? No, no, no. That’s not right. Buying a gun and shooting a vase will…no, sorry that’s not it either…um…when something traumatic happens and you find yourself stuck in a constant thought spiral, get a good therapist who helps you work through difficult emotions with strategic interventions that support healthy cognitive functioning. Yes, that’s the one. Third time’s the charm.
Want to spend a little more time with this episode? Check out the “Fudge, Yarn, & Gun” episode from Enough Wicker.
Ah The Golden Palace. I wanted to love this show so so much, but let’s face it The Golden Girls just doesn’t work without Dorothy. I at least hope they had more fun filming it without the on-set tension. Plus I’m not sure I love the hotel vibe. There’s so much to do at a hotel that it makes me miss the days when the girls had more freedom to randomly star in school plays or spend all day watching I Love Lucy.
One other item of note before we get into the episode is that I totally forgot they re-recorded the original theme song for the spin-off. I’m definitely partial to the original, but this version isn’t bad either. In this Christmas episode, we hear the standard GG musical interludes but this time with a little sleigh bell action superimposed. It’s quite nice.
At the top of the episode we learn that the hotel’s chef, Chuy (Cheech Marin) hates Christmas because of a string of very bad Christmas luck, including: being drafted, getting divorced, having to be a walking display for a cake at a restaurant and having other humans eat directly from his body (I am so sorry that really needed some kind of warning).
Meanwhile, Rose coaches hotel manager, Roland (Don Cheadle) on how to be the perfect Santa Claus for the children’s hospital. She’s kind of a drill sergeant. It’s really great. She enlists Sophia’s help in a mock present request demo. But Sophia sexually harasses Roland, which yeah…this is uncomfortable. Let’s move on past it.
Next Roland must deal with a seminar full of people who have been traumatized by Christmas and will be staying at the hotel to avoid it entirely. Only no one seems to have told Roland this in advance and he’s now tasked with stripping the hotel of any reminders of the holiday season lest he loose out on a block of fifteen rooms.
Enter Rose: dressed as an elf, ready for some more Santa coaching. She doesn’t react too well to the idea of skipping Christmas. “I’m gonna wear my elf costume or I’m gonna walk around naked.” Blanche then explains that they can still have fun as long as they keep quiet. For example, she still plans to have her date with a Dickens caroler. (This is followed but a lot of Dickens inspired double entendres from which I will spare you.)
But Roland isn’t willing to take any chances. Rose has to ditch the costume and Blanche has to ditch the date. Chuy, as the only grinch, is the one staff member to be happy about the new hotel’s new anti-holiday stance.
That night Chuy awakens from a dream and is greeted by an angelic Rose a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Past.” That’s right. This is a Christmas Carol episode. Turns out those Dickens double entendres were some kind of weird foreshadowing. Chuy says, “You’re not really here. You’re just something I ate at Woodstock.” But of course we’re going on this journey whether or not you believe she’s real. Christmas Rose and Chuy travel to his father’s restaurant. The kitchen looks suspiciously similar to the Golden Palace’s kitchen. But don’t worry about that. It’s an in-show joke. Rose tells Chuy that if his father had an oven and a sink in his kitchen, then it’s close enough.
Oh GOD this is a flashback to the scene that Chuy mentioned earlier where he had to walk about the restaurant dressed as a cake. NO. Hard Pass. Chuy’s dad spins this as a “great honor” and grown Chuy appreciates this whole situation in a different way than young Chuy did. It’s all about “a warm friendly place to celebrate the holidays,” his dad says — which like yeah I get that but can you not do that with a regular table?
Adult Chuy magically returns to his room and Christmas Rose disappears, replaced by Christmas Blanche a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Presents.” (That is not a typo.) Christmas Blanche asks Chuy to tell her what presents he purchased for his coworkers this year. He tells her that he didn’t purchase anything for them.
Christmas Blanche leads Chuy to a walk-in freezer, which is the only place the guests cannot hear or see the Christmas celebration Chuy’s coworkers are having — which includes non-ghost Blanche. The non-ghost version of Blanche tells the others that they can’t open presents until Chuy gets there. Uh-oh. Christmas Blanche asks Chuy if he feels like a total jerk now and he agrees that he does. She then returns him to his bedroom where he meets Christmas Sophia a.k.a. “The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.”
Christmas Sophia guides Chuy to a very dingy looking version of the hotel. Rose is scrubbing the floors in rags and we quickly learn that she, Blanche, and Sophia no longer own the hotel. We also learn that the new owner refuses to let anyone celebrate Christmas. Oh and also future Blanche is a spinster who abhors attention from men. We soon find out that Blanche swore off men after her ex-husband stole the hotel from them. Weirdly enough, her ex-husband is Chuy.
Christmas Sophia tells Chuy that he turned into a horrible person because he hates Christmas. Sounds like solid logic to me. Let’s move on. Future Rose begs Future Chuy to let them have a small Christmas celebration. He agrees as long as they let him dictate the festivities. Unfortunately, this involves forcing Future Sophia to wear the cake table and dance for them while everyone else claps along. I genuinely may have nightmares about this. Not even joking.
Thankfully, present day Chuy wakes up in time to stop this atrocity from happening. He hops out of bed and runs through the hotel yelling “Merry Christmas.” (Guess he forgot about the extra special request from that 15-room block.) When he cannot find his friends, he checks the freezer that Christmas Blanche led him to only to find they’ve all frozen to death. Wow. Dark. Luckily, this too is just a dream.
A now fully awake Chuy rushes into the conference room and shouts “Merry Christmas” at a room full of traumatized seminar attendees. Chuy then engages in some sort of proselytizing. In the middle of his speech, we cut away to Rose drilling Roland on his Santa impression in the lobby. Then Chuy and the entire seminar rush into the lobby, full of holiday cheer. (Whatever Chuy said seems to have worked. Whatever it was.)
Then they all sing O Come All Ye Faithful and Estelle Getty breaks the fourth wall to wish the fans a Merry Christmas.
Very Special Christmas Lesson: I have honestly always found the people-as-tables thing to be disturbing and this furthered my view on that point. Anywayyyy, I guess the more positive message here is that it’s never too late to change. So let’s all carry that into 2021! Happy Holidays, Very Specials Readers!
Food Network’s Holiday Gingerbread Showdown has taken over my brain. If you need something to short circuit the anxious thought loops and pandemic stress — I highly suggest you drop everything and watch some gingerbreads STAT.
But here’s the thing! The free season on Hulu just was not enough. So I’ve turned to YouTube. And I’ve found some truly inspiring, VERY SPECIAL one might say, pieces that I am sharing with you below:
Last month I was the grateful recipient of The Golden Girls Cookbook. First of all, this book is gorgeous. Every page is trimmed with a cheesecake illustration or the classic GG wallpaper. Packed with full-color photos and peppered with snippets of dialogue from the show, the book is a true keepsake that any fan would treasure. Even more importantly, this cookbook contains truly delicious recipes.
The sections are organized by character with a lovely full profile of each at the top of her section. That said, this can make browsing a little difficult. So you would want to navigate the table of contents if you’re trying to pick out a quick appetizer or dessert to complete your menu.
Most of the dishes featured in this post came from Blanche’s section: -Cheesy Grits Casserole -Panfried Okra -Honey-Bourbon Glazed Carrots
The one exception is the Pot Pie recipe, which came from Rose’s section. (Sorry, Dorothy & Sophia. I’ll have to try your recipes out later!)
A quick note for those making the pot pie (pictured second from left below): I would go easy on the milk/broth requirements. It was delicious but more of a bisque than a pie filling, and even adding more flour wouldn’t have thickened it into the filling I really wanted. If I were to make it again, I would cut back on some of the liquid. On a more positive note, the recipes are well written, which makes it easy to sub out ingredients. For example, my pot pie used shrimp instead of chicken. Stay tuned for cheesecake next time!