The plot of this episode is a major bummer. Woody catches his wife’s father cheating and has to decide what to do about it. YIKES. Luckily, we’re here for the B-plot, so let’s ignore everything about what’s going on with Woody.
Rebecca is hosting a friends-giving and she’s invited the whole Cheers crew. Unfortunately, she might have given everyone in her family food poisoning the last time she cooked Thanksgiving dinner. This leads Sam to suggest hosting a potluck at Cheers instead. Rebecca was going to make grilled cheese for everyone (less risk of food poisoning) but with Sam hosting, they can have a turkey.
Norm can’t remember whether or not his father-in-law is dead, so he repeatedly asks Vera who won’t respond to him because WTF. Then a pissed-off Vera decides to spend Thanksgiving at her family’s house without Norm. So Cliff suggests that Vera call her parents’ house to see if her father answers. Only when Cliff hands Norm the phonebook, he can’t remember Vera’s maiden name! Okay well now that I’ve typed it out, it sounds awful. But it was very funny when George Wendt said all the lines.
Anyway, Thanksgiving at Cheers is probably Norm’s ideal Thanksgiving. Sam’s even allowed him to bring his barcalonger into the bar — though he did have to sign an agreement stating it would be removed by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Rebecca has decorated the bar for Thanksgiving…which is interesting because Thanksgiving decorations are not like a thing, are they? Anyway, she’s used Halloween decorations that the store was throwing away. But she’s got a pretty good explanation for it: “The witches came over with the pilgrims and then the pilgrims burned them all at the stake.” This explains the skeletons as well (ick) and she doesn’t mention it but I will, the ghosts too. Honestly, it tracks. That’s airtight logic, Rebecca.
She intends to borrow plates from Melville’s because they’re closed for the holiday. And she’s also cooking the turkey in their oven on the sly. Fraser then suggests she borrow the candlesticks while she’s at it. And Sam mentions that she better take some silverware because they don’t have enough plastic sporks.
No one wants to listen to Cliff’s stories for an entire meal, so Sam tells him that he’ll be sitting at the kid’s table as the “adult supervisor” — a role he takes very seriously and seems a little flattered by. Meanwhile, Norm eats his meal in the barcalounger.
As the gang toasts John Alan Hill for “donating” all of their borrowed items, he appears in the bar. Evidently, Melville’s has a silent alarm. But strangely, even John Alan Hill is generous on this day of giving thanks. So he lets the Cheers gang eat in peace (but makes them promise to sanitize the Melville’s items before returning them).
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Honestly, I didn’t think Rebecca’s grilled cheese meal sounded bad. But I guess the lesson here is that you really gotta be mindful of those silent alarms.
Hello! Today is the 29th anniversary of this episode. And I’m low-key obsessed with it. Why, you ask? Because our friend, Jessica Fletcher, has been turned into a controversial comic strip character. And she’s a fox (which of course we already knew) but a literal fox in this case. Oh and Harvey Fierstein is in this episode. What I’m trying to say is, it’s perfect.
The fox is accusing NYPD officers of doing corrupt shit — so actually this comic strip could be a public good — but unfortunately Jessica isn’t involved in the comic strip and can’t verify the information. Of course, everyone thinks she’s behind it — I guess because she’s a writer — but she’s genuinely not involved. She sincerely asks a lieutenant if he’s stealing drugs from evidence and he just straight up doesn’t answer — which feels like a YES to me — but it’s MSW so he’s probably falsely accused.
It looks like Jessica Fox is also exposing a Wall Street scandal. And Jessica Fletcher will now be sued for libel (which makes noooo sense) along with the artist and comic strip syndicator.
With actual money on the line now, Jessica tracks down the artist, Mr. Hatter. And that’s how we finally get to see Angela and Harvey on the screen together!
That’s when Mr. Hatter explains that he didn’t draw the comic strips that appeared in the newspaper. And his syndicator cannot figure out how the artwork got switched. He shows Jess his real comic strip which involves Jessica Fox solving innocent little barnyard animal mysteries. It’s all quite wholesome (aside from the murder).
Anyway, Mr. Hatter agrees to kill off the Jessica Fox character, which would seem like the end of all this. Except then the lieutenant comes back to see Jess and shows her a blackmail letter. Some of the letters in the note were cut out of the Cabot Cove Gazette.
Jess finds the letter perplexing, but she explains that she hasn’t been in Cabot Cove for three weeks. Even more importantly, she was in Italy on the date the newspaper shown in the letter cutout was published. So she goes back to Mr. Hatter and blames him for everything — saying he could have purchased the paper from a stand at Grand Central that carries one-week old issues of Cabot Cove Gazette — which like yeah, right I’m sure it does…
But Mr. Hatter shows her the strange comic strip in the day’s paper and points out explicit stylistic differences between the printed copy and the versions he showed her in his studio. His whole team backs him up, stating that the printed copy is most definitely a forgery.
The whole thing explodes into a very public argument between Mr. Hatter, Jess, and the people who want to sue them. So Jess decides they should all sit down and try to figure out who has motive to print all this stuff in this dirty laundry sort of way. And Mr. Hatter is kinda like well, I do have a lot of enemies.
The next morning, Mr. Hatter’s letterist (I’m not sure the correct term for someone who draws letters in comic strip so I am going with letterist) heads to work at 3:45 am (evidently, he likes to get an early start) and is hit over the head by an unknown assailant. Hopefully, he’s knocked out and not dead, but I’m not sure because we cut to Jess interviewing a potential suspect.
This guy, Mr. Whiting, says that Mr. Hatter used to be his assistant and stole the idea for the comic strip from him. And then all of his artwork disappeared in a mysterious fire. He says Mr. Hatter is just trying to get attention/money for his work and urges her to sue him. And she’s like no, I’m trying to avoid lawsuits, thanks. Plus she doesn’t think Mr. Hatter would make his characters look bad because they mean so much to him. Kind of a thin argument. But she says it’s exactly how she feels about the characters in her books.
Unfortunately, we do get confirmation that the letterist is dead. The detective on the scene doesn’t notice the damaged award (that was totally the murder weapon) until Jess points it out.
At this point, the detective openely accuses literally everyone around her of the crime — including Jess! (To be fair, I’ve frequently wondered about Jess’s proximity to all these murders myself…)
Meanwhile, it finally occurs to Jess that she should look for the source of the information in the comics. This leads her to a tabloid writer (who has been lurking around this whole time and for some reason she never checked up on him until now). She accuses him of being involved in blackmail and he claims that his files were stolen.
This leads Jess back to Mr. Whiting who says he was too busy having an affair to kill anyone. And then Jess is abruptly like okay, cool so if it’s not you then I know who it is. This leads us back to the studio in the middle of the night.
Jess notices that a plant has been rotated and discovers that this was done to hide a bloody artist’s glove. So she calls every single person that the letterist worked for and found out that he wasn’t scheduled to be in the studio when he was — meaning the murder wasn’t premeditated. There’s also no evidence on the glove except for the letterist’s blood. So Jess replaces the glove and calls Mr. Hatter.
That night, she catches one of the artists going back to remove the evidence. He explains that the letterist caught him drawing the libelous comic strips, so he faked his suicide.
Jess then explains that she really had no evidence on him whatsoever, but luckily he took the “message for Mr. Hatter” as bait. And most importantly, I need to point out that the detective has been making the below face for like two solid minutes:
But you know what, maybe that is the correct reaction to whatever the hell just happened in this episode.
I now have a multi-part series on fictional book covers. I honestly didn’t see that coming. But I really like them! And actually this one is sort of like an off-shoot of my previous two. Mapleworth Murders is a parody of Murder, She Wrote (which you can watch for free on Roku) and features a lead character who imagines herself as the protagonist sleuth she writes about in her novellas — not unlike Tom Selleck’s character in Her Alibi.
Peppered throughout the series are book covers featuring the Mrs. Mapleworth mysteries.
Anytime our lead, Abigail (played by Paula Pell), finds herself in a jam, she imagines what Mrs. Mapleworth would do to get out of a bad situation. The fantasy never matches up with the reality and the results are hilarious.
There are also a lot of great guest stars from the greater NBC family, including multiple SNL alums, Terry Crewes, Jack McBrayer, and Paul Lieberstein.
Honestly, I think I need to figure out how to be a book cover designer. I think I’ve uncovered deep passion here.
Look, I get it. We’re all dressing for comfort right now. But if you’re vaxxed and looking to actually go out for Halloween this year (!!!) then please look no further than your own closet for a costume. Suggestions below:
Drew Barrymore (Casey) in Scream
Now, if you already have a blonde bob then you’re 25% done with this costume. If however, you need to purchase a wig, you may do so at Forever 21 for $7.99. I don’t usually encourage fast fashion, so please do try to wear this wig more than once — preferably several times over the course of many years. You’ll also need an off-white (or, hell, who cares you can use white too) cable knit sweater. This is great going into the cold weather months. You’re going to want to wear this again and again. If you don’t already have one, you can grab one at Stitch Fix for $58. Next, get some loose fitting light-wash jeans. If you buy them from Madewell, you can send them back to be recycled and the company will give you a credit on future jeans. The white cordless phone is, evidently, now a collectors item for something like $200 on ebay. But this shit is so boxy, I suggest you get your craft on and make one out of a white paper box.
Sigourney Weaver (Dana) in Ghostbusters
Now technically this dress should be crewneck, but as long as you’re wearing a gray sweater dress of some sort, I think we can be flexible with the neckline. You’ll also need a purple plaid scarf and a black belt (not in karate but if that is all you have in your closet then definitely just tie that around the dress and call it a day). Now I have scoured the internet and I cannot find Dana’s exact scarf, so use your best approximation. The belt and the dress are both from Gap and I’m sure there’s some kind of discount code you can apply to make them a little easier on your wallet.
Patrick Swayze (Sam) in Ghost
Toss on that red shirt you’re no longer wearing to the office and pair it with some black jeans. Now you’re Patrick Swayze! Wear black shoes if you have them, but it doesn’t really matter. No one is going to be looking at your feet.
Penny Marshall (The Devil’s Wife) in Hocus Pocus
This requires jammies, a robe, and some of those hair curlers that kind of look like snakes. The robe below is from LL Bean so look at is as an investment item, or just wear any old robe because to be fair the one below doesn’t match the pattern in the movie anyway. You can get mint green PJs on sale at Madewell for $34.99. Finally, fill up a glass with whisky or tea and put on a real grouchy face like your husband is flirting with a bunch of strange women who are way too old to be trick-or-treating and keep calling him “master.” Oh and the hair rollers are $14.99 at Target.
Multiple OptionsUsing Athleisure
I’ve seen a lot of Squid Game costume suggestions floating around here on the internet, which is great. But maybe you don’t own a green tracksuit. Maybe your tracksuit is black, pink or red. Here are a few options for you. It’s also okay to pair a red sweatshirt and yellow shorts and pretend it’s 2008 and you’re dressed as Paulie Bleeker. It’s okay in 2021. It’s all okay.
A lot of these will depend on whether or not you’re dressing up as a group. For example, if you all have green tracksuits, then you should probably go as Squid Game players. But if you’re dressing up solo, then you should opt for Old Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. Margarita Glasses are optional for the Cool Mom from Mean Girls. The red tracksuits from Royal Tennenbaums also work for a group. But a plain black tracksuit (with or without gold medallion) will work best as Christopher from The Sopranos.
Literally anyone from the 80s or early 90s
Scrunchies are back. LEAN INTO IT. You don’t want to stop wearing leggings? PUT THEM ON. Got a giant ass sweatshirt that is way too big for you? Congratulations, you’re on your way to Jazzercise. Ditch the scrunchie and put on a pair of heels if you want to be Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.
Mare of Easttown
There are so many good options here. You really just need some thick sweaters, blue or brown outerwear, and a low ponytail. Gauze/Ace bandage on your arm are optional. Please don’t vape. Thank you.
Baby-Sitters Club Member
This one is super flexible in terms of costume. You can dress up as a group or you can dress up solo as your favorite club member. You can style it old school or you can be the more modern reboot version. But here’s where the magic comes in. Worried about your mid-late (idk what phase we’re in) pandemic social anxiety is getting the best of you? Don’t worry about it. You’re packing a Kid Kit. And Everyone loves a coloring book. Now you’re the life of the party. You’re welcome.
This movie is great if you don’t think about the plot. At all. Just don’t think about the plot at all!
I mostly succeeded in doing this until a giantttt glaring hole presented itself near the film’s climax. In which, Keanu Reeves’s Johnny Utah, having already blown his cover by pursuing his friend-turned-bank-robber-perps in his plain clothes and normal ass face, some how decides to still join them on a sky-dive in order to — what — not blow his cover? — wtf I don’t know. That’s the point where I could no longer make the movie make sense at all.
However, I will say it’s so, so nice to see Patrick Swayze playing against type and killing it. (Also has his hair ever looked better?) Furthermore, this was Keanu’s first action movie for which I think we can all count ourselves eternally grateful.
Plus, let’s be honest, this movie is all about the vibes, not the plot. It introduced me to this really great early Sheryl Crowe song and reminded me that I find Lori Petty absolutely charming. I also very much enjoyed Patrick Swayze’s performance. His character made sense even when the plot didn’t, which I think deserves a whole ton of credit.
Other things I would be remiss for not mentioning: Red Hot Chili Peppers’s Anthony Kiedis makes a cameo as a member of a surfer gang that beats the crap out of Keanu.
And also Ratt (a band I would like to go on record and say I do not like) recorded the final song, which was the last featuring their original lineup. The song is fine, I guess. Feels like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song would have been better though…
More importantly, a number of bars have taken inspiration from the film:
Moving Sidewalk (permanently closed) had several Point Break themed cocktails. You may not be able to order one from the bar anymore, but you could try recreating your own “Lawyers Don’t Surf,” which Eater Houston tells me is a “mix of Rye Whiskey, Aperitif wine and Rhubarb Amaro with a salty sea water twist via celery salt tincture.”
Okay, up next is To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. This will be a first time watch for me. I’m definitely going to have to do my research on that one! I didn’t really do research on this one. All that trivia came from the IMDB trivia page. Oh and I should mention that the IMDB trivia also mentioned that Keanu Reeves learned how to surf in Hawaii after being cast in this role. And Swayze did a substantial number of his own stunts (including an honest to God sky dive). Because of course he did.
This movie is truly a classic. The cast is phenomenal. The plot is captivating. And dare I say feminist? I mean yeah, technically Patrick Swayze’s “unfinished business” is that he must save Demi Moore from danger and stop his murderer from harming her too in pursuit of access to laundered drug money (Oops sorry, spoiler alert. But come on this movie has been out for 31 one years so that’s on you.) However, I would argue that the movie is really about overcoming his fragile masculinity, which held him back in life and threatens to prevent him from achieving his ghostly goals but damn he is resourceful and with the help of a subway ghost and Oda Mae Brown he manages to save the day and move on to the afterlife in one fell swoop! Talk about inspiring!
It also contains one of the sexiest (and most parodied) scenes without actually involving sex because Patrick Swayze is just that good. And it was filmed on location in New York. Honestly, this movie checks all the boxes for me. I will say that I watched this back to back with Point Break as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Henri pelted New York City with rain and I was trapped inside eating dinner roles and trying to entertain myself. Therefore, my thoughts are kind of blending together and you’ll probably get shorter recaps of both of these because of it.
But honestly, I don’t have too many opinions on this one aside from the fact that I love it. I mean, find me one person on this planet who doesn’t love Ghost? It’s especially comforting after Patrick Swayze’s death. It’s an overwhelmingly positive feeling about humanity — like aside from the plot about the drug money laundering and the murder. But like. It’s an overwhelmingly positive feeling about humanity’s ability to spiritually overcome a drug money laundering, murdering kind of world, you know?
Idk honestly I’m going to stop here because I am blessed to inform you that this movie is available in its entirety, for free, no-ads, on YouTube Movies. It’s legit. It’s not a lowkey ripoff. 2021 threw us a break and made Ghost free for everyone on YouTube. You’re gonna have to click that little “watch on YouTube” button in the bottom cause I’m definitely not allowed to embed a two-hour long video. But otherwise, you should be good to go. Bye!
It recently came to my attention that there was a spooky show called Friday the 13th (no plot connection to Jason Vorhees) back in the late 1980’s. I was like oh cool, I’ll write a post on that for The Very Special Blog this Friday! And then I watched the thirty second promo for the first episode and while it is 99% hokey, these dolls are some scary ass shit. Therefore, I will not be watching any further. Here’s the promo if you want to see for yourself:
There’s also a really robust Wikipedia page that, of course, I couldn’t read (see above regarding dolls). Checked it out if you’re so inclined!
For other spookyvery special reads this Friday the 13th check out some posts from the archives:
The 1984 film Red Dawn paired Patrick Swayze opposite his co-star from The Outsiders, C. Thomas Howell, and future Dirty Dancing co-star, Jennifer Grey. Joined by Lea Thompson and Charlie Sheen, the cast plays a group of teens in a Cold War era adventure-film envisioning a Soviet land invasion of the midwest.
Prepping for this post was my very first time watching Red Dawn. Before that my only exposure came from the wonderful VH1 Anthology Series I Love The 80’s 3-D. (They’re all good but I might actually be partial to I Love the 80’s Strikes Back).
Unfortunately, I Love The 80’s 3-D made this movie look a lot more fun that it really is. Suffice it to say, I regret having to watch this one and not Skatetown, U.S.A. However, Red Dawn is pretty important in the development of Patrick Swayze’s career and, even though I think it’s fair to say I absolutely hated it, I still feel like it wouldn’t be right to skip this.
Just like in The Outsiders, Patrick is still carrying that Big Dad Energy in Red Dawn. He’s playing the slightly older brother of a high-school senior-aged Charlie Sheen, even though in real life Patrick Swayze was born a whole thirteen years before Charlie Sheen. When Soviet and Cuban forces invade their small Colorado town (instead of say, a more pivotal strong-hold for reasons that make absolutely no sense when scrutinized) by parachuting into their schoolyard (please, don’t pay attention to any logic here), the two brothers and a bunch of teens (including C. Thomas Howell and a few other boys I didn’t recognize) head for the hills (or rather, mountains) to wait out the attack.
When their parents are either killed or placed in re-education camps, the teens and Swayze quickly transition from “wait it out” mode into “paramilitary” mode, employing their high school mascot (Wolverines!) as their rallying cry. So here’s where I’ll pause and say that, aside from the clunky plot, the biggest problem with this movie is that it feels like watching two straight hours of propaganda. The next biggest problem is that when they finally introduce a couple of female characters (played by Jennifer Grey and Lea Thompson), it kind of feels like the two women are acting out some Rambo version of Nell while the guys exist in the Rambo version of The Goonies — I’m borrowing this phrase from “Fast-Rewind” — which is to say that the guys have a lot more character development and fairly good scenes while the women are usually left with very little dialogue and a murky backstory.
It’s almost like the movie wanted to be a little “girl power” wit them because Lea Thompson’s character goes off on Charlie Sheen’s character when he tells her to “make herself useful” with the dishes and both women are very capable paramilitary members…but…who are these women? Aside from knowing their grandpa asked Patrick Swayze to take them up into the mountains because they were being harassed by the invading troops, I literally know nothing about them. Even with the guys I can’t remember (because I don’t recognize them from any other movies), I know approximately how old they are, where they went to school, and how they feel about their families. Heck, I even know one of them is the student body president.
So let’s talk about what the movie did well (because it’s not all bad). Spoilers abound in this next part:
-Jennifer Grey’s physical acting was put to good use in this movie in a way that I maybe should have expected having seen Dirty Dancing but didn’t.
-Both Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen have fully developed characters and a ton of highly emotional scenes that they handled incredibly well. Even when the plot was disjointed, I found them both to be very believable.
–Harry Dean Stanton was around for a little while as the father to our protagonist brothers. It’s always good to see him. He always does a good job. He did play a lot of dad’s didn’t he? Unfortunately, in this movie he has some of the corniest dialogue ever written.
-Powers Boothe played an American pilot and, like all Powers Boothe appearances, it’s impossible to take your eyes off him.
-We got a cameo from Coach Reilly from The Mighty Ducks and Judd Omen from Dune and, at some point or another, practically every 70’s or 80’s TV Mystery show you’ve ever seen.
-I wasn’t really sure what C. Thomas Howell was going for at first or if he would have much of a character. I know he’s a good actor, but like I said this script isn’t really doing anyone any favors. That said, I found his performance to be one of the most affecting in the film. He starts off as an innocent and tender-hearted teen, who gradually becomes hardened and hollowed out as he spends more time as a paramilitary member until he is left with almost no sense of morality by the end of the film. He’s usually doing this with very little dialogue, which I cannot imagine is easy to do. I’m guessing he’s about sixteen or so in the film, so about two years younger than an eighteen year old soldier. But I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching the slow development of P.T.S.D. in the making, which was possibly the hardest part to watch at times.
-While the casting of Superfly‘s Ron O’Neal (who as far as my research can tell was not Latino) as Cuban Commander Bella is problematic for a number of reasons, the script at least afford itself a little bit of nuance FINALLY when we see Bella struggle (as a former paramilitary member himself) with his new role in a totalitarian takeover without populist support. He also gives Swayze and a mortally wounded Sheen safe passage (even though they’re doomed anyway). However, this collective 90 or so seconds is a welcome reprieve in an otherwise jingoistic (with the absolute broadest of brushstrokes)film.
-This movie is beautiful. Yes, it’s incredibly painful and depressing to watch for two very long hours, but the cinematography is genuinely gorgeous. (FYI the locations are Nevada not Colorado).
But you’re here to hear about Swayze so let me focus on the man of the hour (er, I mean, summer):
Look, I’m obviously a fan girl or I wouldn’t be doing any of this, but all that aside — there were so many moments in this movie where I felt like Patrick Swayze belonged in another, better version of this film. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of good acting from the younger actors, but they’re all trudging their way through a mediocre film, trying to make the best of it. Meanwhile, Patrick Swayze gives a consistently sincere and nuanced performance in a script that contains almost no nuance. He’s the kind of actor who gives you hope for what Red Dawn could be — the kind of film where nuance and subtlety do exist because a ragtag bunch of resistance fighters is an interesting and effective story when in the right hands (a.k.a not in the most paranoid, and frankly racist, plot I have ever seen in anything that isn’t technically called “propaganda”). You can’t help but think, damn this man needs a better script! (Luckily, he was about to get it.)
I’m going on a very special vacation, so join me in mid-July for Dirty Dancing.
For many, many years I was TOO sad to watch a Swayze movie because I miss him SO much. But this year, I’m swinging in the other direction. This is also my 500th post (!!) and we’re coming up on the blog’s 7th anniversary (!!!) so I want to do something big to celebrate. Very Special Readers, Welcome to the Summer of Swayze.
I’m really excited to share this line-up with you.
–M*A*S*H – “Blood Brothers“ –The Outsiders –Red Dawn –Dirty Dancing –Road House –Ghost –Point Break –To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar –Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
In the meantime, feast your eyes on a young Patrick Swayze dancing in Toto’s “Rosanna” music video. Swayze’s the one in the red jacket (until he takes it off at 04:15).
Do you love the saving for retirement? Do you love Cheers? You do?! You love both!! Great. I have a very special “lost episode” for you.
At the top of this episode, or should I say mini-episode (because it clocks in at less than twelve minutes long), Cliff announces that he will be taking a trip to Tahiti by using his savings bonds.
Sam says he’s thinking of buying some savings bonds as well, but Diana poo-poos this and says they offer poor returns. But fun fact, this episode was commissioned by the U.S. Treasury, so for once Cliff gets to be right. Even better, you get to hear Norm actually talk about accounting and sound like he’s good at his job instead of just someone who sits at a bar when he’s supposed to be working.
When Carla and Coach admit that they don’t have many savings, Sam decides to start a payroll savings plan for the bar BECAUSE IT IS NOT THAT HARD TO BE A FAIR AND EQUITABLE EMPLOYER. This short film should be required management training!!!!
The rest of the episode is pretty dry. I’m so sorry to say that because if Cheers cannot make retirement planning interesting to me, then I’m probably doomed to work until I literally drop dead because I won’t have grasped the key fundamentals necessary to create my nest egg. Anyway, maybe you’ll get something more out of it than I did.