Click here to see past years’ episodes of A Very Special Holiday Season.
Happy fifth night of Hanukkah, Very Special Readers! Here we are in the final season of The Nanny. Fran is finally married to Maxwell, and she gets to host a Hanukkah celebration with her new family. Also this episode marks Ray Charles’s final appearance on the show–because Ray Charles had a recurring role on The Nanny???? You learn something new every day.
Sadly, Maxwell has to go out of town for business. CeCe is going too but she and her long-standing enemy, Niles are “in love” by this point in the show, so I’m glad to see her gone. (He gives her a lemon Pledge soaked handkerchief to remember him by because he’s a butler and evidently that’s his dominant personality trait in the relationship ughhh). And for some reason the youngest child, Grace, goes to Boston with CeCe and Maxwell. Is she like a theater producer in training? I have no idea. I’m only just now realizing that the last season of this show wasn’t great and evidently I haven’t seen many episodes of it.
Fran is very upset that her stepdaughter and husband have left town on the first night of Hanukah. We learn (via flashback where Fran plays a younger version of her mother) that It’s very important to her that they celebrate this night together because she never spent the holidays with her family as a kid.
Meanwhile, in the car to Boston everyone is crabby. We learn (again via flashback) that young Maxwell puts business before family because that’s what his father (played by grown Maxwell) did when he was a child. We also learn that young Maxwell and young Niles played together as children! (Mostly because Maxwell’s father was neglecting him but aw that’s still a cute backstory!)
Realizing his mistake, Maxwell decides to turn back. He phones Fran from the car to let her know he will be coming home for Hanukkah. While they’re on the phone, Fran hears Maxwell crash the car mid-blizzard. So what I’m trying to say is that this sitcom has dramatically increased the stakes with only ten minutes remaining, And no, this isn’t a two-parter.
Meanwhile back in the car, (it’s The Nanny, they’re obviously not injured you guys), CeCe tries to sing for entertainment. It’s not very pleasant and luckily we cut away quickly. Maxwell determines they have enough gas in the car to run the heat for an hour.
I suppose because they’re anxiously awaiting news or the return of Maxwell’s car — Fran and her best friend Val are waiting outside of the townhouse in the freezing cold. Fran prays to God for help and a nun appears. Fran assumings that God must have gotten confused because of her new last name (hehe).
Fran and the nun pray together and wow–I guess she was right to wait outside! — Maxwell appears! He actually had enough gas to run the car for eight hours and was able to make it all the way home. It’s a Hanukkah miracle! Literally and figuratively!
They end up celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on the second night. And then Ray Charles plays “Home for the Holidays.” I think he’s dating Fran’s grandma. Is that what’s happening here? Someone more familiar with this show, please weigh-in on the comments. Was Ray Charles even an actor? Was he just moonlighting on the The Nanny near the end of his life for fun? I need to know more about this odd turn in his career!!
Will and his extended family are hitting the slopes for the holidays, which Will says is “for white guys named Sven and OJ Simpson” (because this was back when people thought OJ Simpson was delightful and hadn’t yet realized he is a colossal turd person). They’re all driving separately to the airport (omg please say this is going to turn into a Home Alone episode) and Uncle Carl hands out the tickets in advance.
Hilary is horrified to learn that the tickets are coach. I don’t know if any of you flew coach in 1991 (and granted my legs were a lot shorter back then) but I remember the seats being a LOT roomier. I shudder to think what Hilary would say if she got a coach class ticket these days. She’d probably opt to stay in Bel-Air and skip out on the ski trip all together.
The whole extended family goes skiing. Even Will’s mom join them. When they all meet up at the rental house (where sadly, Carl is left without a bedroom because of some kind of rental mixup) Will is horrified to learn that his mother has a boyfriend. She won’t share much info about the new relationship.
Later on, a man knocks on the door of their chalet and asks to use the phone. Carlton invites him in, but Will shuts the door in his face. Everyone tells Will he is being callous, but I get it. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE! Will says, “unless he is on a mule with a pregnant virgin he ain’t getting in here.” Aw, Christmas jokes, guys!
Will gets out voted and they let the guy in. He doesn’t immediately kill them and because this is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and not Dateline he probably won’t. OH MY GOSH HE HOLDS THEM UP. DUDE PULLS OUT A GUN.
To all the haters who judge a healthy dose of paranoia, let this be a lesson to you.
The thief take literally everything, including some toilet paper and a used pregnancy test. Uh. Okay. They better be sending the Special Victims Unit when the cops respond to this because what the actual f***(this is a family blog…well not really…).
With no gifts and no possessions, the family gives each other the present of their presences. They go around the table and say what they plan to do for their families and how these commitments will be their Christmas gifts. They plan to spend more time together, listen to each other more, and be more like the best qualities that they recognize in each other. Ugh, I’m tearing up. The holidays, dammit.
Then they all sing “Oh Holy Night.” It’s pretty. (Carlton wanted to sing a solo. They act like he cannot sing but Alfonso Ribeiro has a lovely voice. But they all sound great together too.)
Very Special Holiday Lesson: The best gifts are immaterial.
Hi Very Special Readers!
The Very Special Holiday Season is upon us again and this year I wanted to try something a little different. I want YOU to pick the shows you’d like to read about this year! Please use the poll below to cast your votes.
Some things to note:
-You can for as for or as many or as few episodes as you would like
-You can vote as frequently as you would like*
-The 10 shows with the most votes will appear on The Very Special Blog from December 15th through December 24th
*I’m pulling results on December 10th at 12 pm CST, so if you vote after that then it won’t count. But up until that point feel free to vote incessantly for The Golden Girls [or any other show, I’m just fully expecting some of you to vote numerous times for The Golden Girls 🙂 ]
Randy comes home from Costa Rica for Christmas and is immediately pissed that things at the Taylor house haven’t stayed exactly the same since he left.
He buys his whole family a protected tree in the Costa Rican rainforest, but Tim is more excited about the cool lights that Brad and Mark got him for the roof. It’s an admirable gift, Randy.
But you shouldn’t have been surprised that your dad was more into Christmas lights. He’s been waging a full-out war with Doc Johnson next door for at least seven years. And this year he’s taking on Al. So…
Then Randy speaks some Spanish with Wilson and that’s pretty cool. I can’t figure out if my Spanish is just that rusty or if his accent sucks, but I admire the effort. Randy is so short that he has to stand on the bottom rung of the fence to talk to Wilson lol.
So Randy deals with the fact that things have changed without him and Jill admits that she and Tim should have made more of an effort to spend time with him. I mean he did come all the way from Costa Rica.
Also, Al defeats Tim in the holiday lighting contest. I think Al needed this win.
Very Special Lesson: This show sucked without JTT. Why did they even do a final season without him???
The Bayside Gang have all gotten seasonal jobs at the mall! Slater is a gift-wrapper and Jessie is taking photos at Santa’s Village. Apparently, they let high schoolers do that. Totally saves on the cost of a professional photographer! Kelly’s working retail and it turns out that she’s working with a hot girl named Laura.
Zack’s got the hots for Laura (like he does for every girl he meets) and starts to tell her about how he gave a homeless man he met in the bathroom some cash for food. Zack says he hopes the guy actually used it for food and isn’t a “wine-o.”
Yes, Zack is once again proving to us that he is a jackass. Even worse, it turns out that the guy from the bathroom is Laura’s dad and they’re both homeless. So Zack’s blanket-insult also insulted his new love-interest. Just when you think Zack might finally get the brutal rejection he deserves, he apologizes to Laura and says he’s just ignorant. He comes from such an affluent background that he thinks poor people are people who don’t have cable. Ick.
Kelly and Slater rush to his rescue and tell Laura to give him a chance. For some stupid reason she does. But like also she’s homeless and this dude wants to take her out to dinner, so I’m guessing this is just survival on her part.
After getting a photo with Santa, Laura and Zack bump into Zack’s mom. She invites her to participate in the mall’s production of A Christmas Carol. Alas, the mall truly was a beacon of social and cultural life in the 90’s. Shortly thereafter, Laura’s dad collapses in the mall. When the gang goes to visit him (following the party that candy striper, Lisa, is throwing for the kids there) they find Laura visiting him and realize that she’s homeless too.
Zack and his mom learn that most of us are just a few pay checks from financial instability. Laura is currently the sole bread-winner with her mall retail job. Kelly tries to help her buy a sports coat for her father by telling their boss that she’s homeless, so he will give her an advance on her pay.
But their boss is an even bigger jackass than Zack and says he would have never hired Laura had he known she was homeless. When everyone heads off to A Christmas Carol, Kelly puts the sports coat behind the counter because she plans to buy it for Laura.
The gang’s production is horrible. I mean it’s so bad that I’m not even able to make fun of it in a humorous way here. It’s so boring and it’s six minutes of my life I will never get back. Slater plays Tiny Tim. Wtf. He’s the largest person there. But I will say this, there’s something charming about Tiffani Theisan’s cockney accent. Someone hire her for Pygmalion!
Anyway, the show ends and the store owner freaks out when he finds the coat missing. He calls Laura a thief when he cannot find a sales receipt and she runs away. The gang searches for Laura but no one can find her or her dad. So then Zack’s mom is like well, it’s time to buy a Christmas tree. And Zack is all like, “No, mom. I’m not in the mood.” And she’s like, “It’s time to get on with Christmas.” What??? No. What??? It’s not like “the show much go on” like you’re definitely just choosing to stop looking for these people after a few hours because you really need to get a Fraser Fir in your living room this evening??? I have no words. Like Zack’s mom might be a sociopath.
Coincidentally, Laura and her dad are living in their car at the Christmas tree lot! How convenient! I guess Zack’s mom actually is okay because she doesn’t want to leave these poor people sleeping in their car on Christmas Eve. So they stay with Zack and his mom instead. And also the retail store owner from the mall realizes he’s been a total dick and hand delivers the wrapped coat to Laura at Zack’s house. They’re going to stay there until Laura’s dad gets a new job, which he’s totally going to be able to do now that he has a sports coat.
So hm. I mean I feel like these people were all just like nice to some homeless people but like didn’t really help them until they fled the freaking mall where they probably lived. I mean Zack and his mom invited them over for dinner ONE TIME after Laura’s dad was in the hospital for collapsing from malnutrition. And then they were like “bye! we’ll see you at the mall sometime later on!” But you know what, this is Saved by the Bell, the people who brought you “Running Zack.” And by that standard, this is really thoughtful and progressive.
Also, OMG Jessie and Zack are next door neighbors? How did I not know this??
Very Special Lesson: All I learned from this is that you can live at the mall and that the Morris Family are a bunch of assholes for not buying that man a full suit and letting that poor desperate girl spend their food-money on that sports coat instead. This is the 90’s. People still wore suits to work at like every corporate job in America! But no. They needed to buy that damn Christmas tree.
I think this calls for an incredulous Tori.
I have to admit, after Scrooged, I thought Bill Murray had probably given all he could give to the Christmas film community. But then Netflix kept showing me trailers of A Very Murray Christmas and I was just dying to watch it.
They finally released it last night and it’s less than an hour long. (The ideal Christmas Special length, as far as I am concerned.) Like Scrooged, Bill Murray is not excited about Christmas in A Very Murray Christmas. But it’s more like a dejected sad kind of “not happy” instead of his uninhibited malice in Scrooged. He’s also playing a fictionalized version of himself, so if meta-humor is your thing then you might love this.
Anyway, I’ll try to adhere to my rule of not spoiling anything modern, but this is one of my new favorite Christmas Specials for three reasons:
1. It shows how inseparable joy and sadness can be in the holidays.
2. It’s really very funny.
3. The music is charming. Don’t expect the best vocals ever, but you will be entertained. And you can check out the soundtrack here.
There will be marshmallows for toasting and very special episodes filmed in places without any snow. It’s the hap-happiest television season of all!
I’m so, so excited for this year’s very special holiday season! I’ve been rediscovering shows I kind of forgot about but hold a special place in my heart, so I’ll be breaking some of those out this year.
And also, I’m feeling a lot of passion for holiday fashion. And not in an ironic way. Like I’m really considering buying some “ugly” sweaters but not because I think they’re ugly. I’m just in a place in my life where I don’t really give a crap if people think I look lame and I seriously just want to be festive and cozy. So like I may have suddenly aged into a 1980’s grandma, but I’m down with that.
Stay tuned for some holiday episodes from your favorite cheesy TV shows!
It’s the most very special time of the year! Break out your cocoa and cozy sweaters and celebrate the holidays very special style! There will be sappy speeches, charitable cloying, and hopefully lots and lots of tacky holiday wear. Grab your cocoa and footy pajamas, and let’s get started!