Here’s What I Meant by “Culturally Heavy.”

A few years ago, I posted about a lost very special episode of Hey Dude. On Saturday Night, I got a notification that a podcasted aptly titled Hugging and Learning had used my post as a source for their recent episode, “Saved by the Cowbell” — once again awesome title.

The portion of the podcast I’m writing this follow up post in response to involves the character Danny Lightfoot, a member of the Hopi Nation, portrayed by Joe Torres. Let me pause here and acknowledge that this casting and the way the show’s creators have since described it could be its own separate post entirely. According to Michael Koegel in the book Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, when casting the show “we fudged it because Joe Torres was really Mexican-American. He had a little American-Indian blood in him, but once you get into that part of the country, there’s a fine line between what’s an American Indian and what’s a Mexican Indian. It’s a cultural divide.” This book was published in 2013 and even though it is an oral history, I am struck by how glib this statement is, right down to the “what’s” instead of “who’s”. And in case it needed clarification, tribal sovereignty is much more than a “cultural divide.”

In all fairness, I did not dive into the casting (nor did I research it) in my original post and it doesn’t appear to come up in the discussion between hosts Chelsea and Andrew on the podcast either, though I may have missed it. However, as anyone would in 2020, Chelsea and Andrew immediately zero in on the incredibly problematic line Danny says to describe why he would not go drinking with his coworker Melody’s brother. If you’re listening to the podcast, this section starts at about 24:52.

For those of you who haven’t read the original post, I’ve included a screenshot below for the section in question.

There is so very much to unpack here. The first of which is that I’d like to clarify that “betrayed” is my word. Chelsea refers to this in the podcast, but she attributes that word to the character (before she quotes the same section I quoted in the original post). To be clear, Chelsea says, “He had a friend of the family that he says betrayed all of them by becoming quote another Indian with a drinking problem.”

The text from the show is actually as follows, “it felt like he let us all down.” So here’s where this gets sticky and where I want to be very clear because this podcast is using a lot of my phrasing. Anything in the screenshot above that I did not directly quote came from me, not the show.

My interpretation of the line reading was that Danny and his community felt “betrayed” and I chose that word in 2017 because of my personal experiences with alcoholism and perhaps that’s unfair for me to apply to this situation. However, alcoholism runs in my family and I was very strict about experimentation (or lack there of) as a teenager because I personally would have felt that I betrayed my family if I were to become another member of the family with an alcohol problem: betrayed the experiences and examples of my ill family members; betrayed the expectations of my immediate family; betrayed the family name at large in our community. I don’t know what the writers intended, but Danny’s sentiment of not wanting to let anyone down or in essence “betray” them resonated with me. The most glaring difference here being that my perfectionism was self-imposed and Danny’s was the result of generations of oppression following a genocide.

Chelsea then goes on to say that, “He basically lays it out like therefore I can never drink because that would make me a stereotype, which is like a really weird thing for a writer to put into the mouth of a character who’s, I’m guessing, ethnic group they don’t share. You know what I mean? Like part of me is sort of like wow okay we like got culturally heavy here for a second.”

Once again, that “culturally heavy” is my interpretation of the actor’s line reading, one that Chelsea and Andrew appear to agree with. But I want to take this one step further and tell you exactly what I meant by that in 2017 because I didn’t lay it out and I should have.

To me, one of most devastating aspects of racism on a micro level is that individuals do not feel permission to express a full range of emotions, and there are often devastating consequences should they choose to do so. My interpretation of Danny’s statement is not that the show unfairly “puts” this desire to avoid “stereotypical” (and wholly untrue) behavior “into his mouth” so to speak, but rather that this statement reflects the innermost thoughts of a young man who is not afforded the opportunity to make mistakes in the same way that Melody’s white brother is.

And let’s be clear, Melody’s brother has a disease. All people experiencing alcoholism unfortunately face stigma and stereotyping. That said, the stereotypical interpretation of his disease is not nearly the same as it would be for Danny’s friend.

I do think this is an appropriate conversation to have. I do not think this is a “weird” statement for Danny to say because the pressure this character feels is very real and very relevant. He in fact states, “I don’t think there’s anyway I could have gone with Billy, even if I wanted to.”

What I find to be inappropriate in this episode and, more accurately, harmful is that this statement is said and dropped. Within this episode, there is no unpacking of Danny’s feelings or the systemic pressure that created them. There is no acknowledgment of the immense unfairness in the simple fact that he cannot make a mistake even if he wants to.

I wrote “culturally heavy” and I figured people would get it. But maybe what I should have written was “personally heavy” because we personally carry the pain of our cultures and for minority communities that pain is more than any individual should bear.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” — Anne Lamott

The BSC: The Baby-Sitters Remember

This post was originally posted in September of 2014.
Once upon a time in the ‘90’s, there was this little gem of a show based on Ann M. Martin’s classic book series about a group of middle school girls who spend their free time in a club devoted to babysitting. This show must have been filmed at Astoria Studios because even Dawn, who is supposed to be from California, sounds like she’s from the tri-state region. If you were a girl child of the ’90’s you could not escape this book series. There was bossy Kristy, artsy Claudia, fashionista Stacey, California Casual Dawn, good-girl Mary Anne, ballerina Jesse, and Mallory who had red hair, wore glasses, and other than that had no defining features. I hated this episode as a kid because I thought it was a flashback episode full of clips from episodes I had never seen. As it turns out, it’s a clip show full of new material. I guess these were ideas Ann M. Martin had but never felt like turning into a full length book, and the TV show decided that these random clips would make the best series finale, which just goes to show you that not all very special episodes are about terrible topics. It’s the last day of school and the BSC is having a slumber party. Jessie is nervous about going to dance camp, Kristy is excited about going to softball camp, and Mary-Anne is totally bummed that she see won’t see her friends every day for two months. All of these thoughts about their impending separation lead the girls to reminisce about how they first began the club.

Is this jersey from a 1970's athletics store?
Is this jersey from a 1970’s athletics store?

Cue Memory #1 in which Kristy is wearing this bizarre jersey that says Sport Shack in some seriously old school lettering. She gets in trouble for cheering when the last bell rings, and some hard-ass teacher makes her write one hundred words about the importance of decorum. Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom is stressing because she can never find a sitter. Most thirteen year-olds would totally ignore this because it’s not really their problem, but like two and a half seconds after talking to her mom, Kristy’s eyes get wild and she casts aside her homework to plot out her magnum opus: The Baby-Stitters Club. She tells everyone how she didn’t think she would survive her first job, in which the mom meets here at the front door and describes how she must keep her rambunctious three year-old twins locked in the laundry room until it’s time to “go out.” Kristy can’t resist the promise of some cold hard cash, so she doesn’t run screaming from this house of apparent child abuse. Luckily, the twins turn out to be two dogs instead of toddlers.

Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.
Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.

Memory#2: The girls head downstairs for snacks and Claudia finds her dead grandmother’s teacup, so the girls reminisce about that relationship for while. Kristy does a really offensive fake Japanese accent which all of the girls find funny except for Claudia who is too lost in her thoughts to call Kristy out for being such an insensitive loser. Truly, the best part of all of this is that the very next scene is a flashback with Mimi (Claudia’s grandmother) and she has no accent whatsoever. This is a truly rare very special episode because it doesn’t involve any drugs or pregnancy and includes a racist joke. Also, in this scene Mallory ends up being the only baby-sitter with lucky steam rising from her tea. They had to throw her a bone because Mallory never has anything else going for her. Memory #3: The baby-sitters share a creepy memory about “staging a ceremony” before Kristy’s mom’s wedding. This ceremony turns out to be a full on mock wedding between two of Kristy’s younger siblings, which has clearly been orchestrated by the baby-sitters club. They make everyone attend and the they make the two young siblings exchange wedding vows. Luckily, the little boy runs away when they tell him to kiss the bride,so no almost-incest was committed.

Creepy Fake Wedding
Creepy Fake Wedding

Finally, all of the baby-sitters get sleepy after a night of reminiscing and fall asleep at midnight in what must be the tamest slumber party ever imagined. Note: I didn’t include all of them memories. Some of them were really boring.

Very Special Lesson: You don’t always have to have a very special lesson to have a very special episode. Or maybe friendship…friendship was the lesson.

P.S. This set came from Ikea before everyone shopped there:

claudia ikea

The BSC: The Baby-Sitter’s Special Christmas

Happy Christmas in July! This post was originally posted in December of 2014.
The show opens with the baby-sitters perusing many different Christmas socks and oohing and awing indiscriminately over everything they pass. Then this bunch of 14-year olds descends upon a mall Santa’s lap, yet oddly it’s they who look like the creeps here—Jessie casually strokes Santa’s beard while he rolls his eyes and gently shakes his head. Poor guy, he’s just trying to make minimum wage around the holidays.

jessie creeps on santaAfter the mall, the sitters head on over to the hospital to throw a Christmas party for the kids. Everyone has markers and big pads of paper except for Mallory who gets the bitch job of sorting out the paper chain. Dawn wants to make Christmas cookies when she and Stacey babysit some obnoxious little boys, including little Pete from The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Dawn gets all self-conscious when she realizes that she’s totally disregarded Stacey’s diabetes. I don’t know how she forgot since Stacey mentions it like every other sentence.

Mary-Anne comes up with the idea to have secret Santa as soon as a couple of the girls complain that they don’t have enough money to buy everyone a gift. She instantaneously passes out slips of pre-cut paper. Probably a quiet power play since Kristy wouldn’t like someone else taking charge. “Oh I’ll just casually have these pre-cut slips of paper to pass out like I just thought of it.”

death by cookieLater on, whilst baby-sitting Stacey starts shoveling cookies into her mouth all cavalierly like she’s not stuffing her body with poison. Who even thought this was a good idea–o give already rambunctious children a ton of sugar? The only reason they didn’t totally destroy the house is probably that Stacey consumed a toxic amount of sugar herself.

Dawn totally outs Stacey at the Christmas party and super bitchily says, “I just don’t like it when people don’t take care of themselves.” Like she’s personally affronted by Stacey’s reckless behavior, but not because she’s concerned about her best friend but rather she doesn’t like it on principle. Dawn and her ideals. To be fair, the babysitters do seem to be exclusively having sweets at their soirees in the episode.

BSC X-masOf course, Stacey ends up on the hospital because all she has eaten in the past day is cookies and chocolate. I knew (of) a couple of diabetic kids growing up and once they were old enough to realize that sugar could literally kill them, I never remember any of them tempted to gorge themselves on it, so I can only assume that this is some kind of risky adolescent rebellion on Stacey’s part.  Drugs seem pretty hard to come by in Stonybrook, so it looks like everyone has to settle for a sugar high. Otherwise, this seems like a pretty serious cry for help. Why aren’t we talking about Stacey’s clearly self-destructive tendencies, instead of being all like “lay off the cookies, Stace.” Everything turns out okay though because Stacey gets to come to the party with all of the other children…which makes me wonder why the babysitters are only throwing a party for young children. Wouldn’t it suck to be thirteen and stuck in the hospital? I’m thinking that these girls don’t actually interact with their peers outside of this club. Would they even be friends if they weren’t also business associates?

Very Christmas Lesson: Don’t make your diabetic friends make cookies that they can’t eat. Ever hear of artificial sweetener, people?

 

Arthur: To Eat or Not to Eat

p184303_b_v8_adTIL Arthur is still on television. And you know what? That’s just great! Being a kid in the 90’s was pretty freaking amazing. I feel like being a kid now would be less amazing. I mean Sesame Street isn’t even on public television anymore. We now live in a time where your parents have to be rich enough to have HBO for you to watch Big Bird. And that’s just wrong man, that’s just wrong. So yes, it cheers my heart to know the youth of America still get to see Arthur (the aardvark? Was he an aardvark? Woah, I just looked up what an aardvark actually looks like. Crazy.)

Alas, I missed this episode because it aired like fifteen years after I stopped watching Arthur. But I’m excited to revisit the series.

In this episode, there’s a candy bar called “Rabid Dog.” The commercial makes it look like speed for children. It also makes sparkles come out of your mouth. You know what, I was a cautious child. I don’t think I would have wanted any part of this. But Buster, Arthur’s very best friend, is into it.

He sees the commercial on television and runs to the candy store. Arthur calls after him, “Don’t you want to watch the rest of the cartoon.” SCARIEST SENTENCE EVER UTTERED ON TELEVISION. You’re a cartoon Arthur. The cartoons you’re watching, look exactly like you. Do you know you’re a cartoon??? WHAT IS YOUR REALITY??

mv5bmtq3odiyndkwnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmta4njm0mje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_When the lunch lady cannot read most of the ingredients on the label, she insists that Buster eat an apple instead. (I don’t know why he like asked the lunch lady to read his candy bar wrapper, but whatever.)

Binky (the resident jackass on this show) buys all of the candy bars at the store and resells them on the playground. I mean seriously, this dude is a criminal at like age eight. Someone needs to reign him in.

Meanwhile, a student, who seems to have a college level education in chemistry yet manages to somehow be a second grade student in public school, reads the back of the candy bar and identifies some of the ingredients as radioactive and others as being made of bugs. (Buster is most upset about the bugs, which is weird I think for a bunny.)1280x720-plw

Soon the students start to feel “hot and dizzy,” which seems pretty mild to me for having pounded a candy bar full of what I assume is the equivalent of pop rocks and coke.

hqdefaultBuster and his mom head down to the corporate headquarters of the candy bar company to find out what some of the agreements are. The “Supreme Dog,” as it were, tells them that it’s a trade secret. But he does explain what happens to your brain when you eat a Rabid Dog candy bar. And it’s meth. It’s literally meth.

Buster asks the Supreme Dog to eat one of the candy bars, but he refuses to get high on his own supply. I would say this episode is far-fetched even for a very special episode, but we’re living in Trump’s America…soooooo…

We see a newspaper article that informs us that the Supreme Dog has been arrested. This makes everyone quit the candy bars cold turkey. Ah, if only.

Speaking of cold turkey, has anyone ever seen the movie Cold Turkey? Yeah. It’s pretty weird.

That little girl wiping tears from behind her glasses is BREAKING MY HEART.

But like, back to Buster real quick. A bunny in the second grade managed to destroy an evil corporation and this happens OFF SCREEN?? That’s the show I want to see!

Very Special Lesson: I mean apparently, asking a few questions of an executive can expose an illegal drug trade, but I’m not sure because the writers of Arthur didn’t let me see that part. So all I can reasonably tell you is not to eat things that make sparks fly from your mouth. Yet somehow, I feel like that goes without saying.

Small Wonder: Chewed Out (Smokers Delight)

grouchovickiIt has been quite a while since I posted a legit Very Special Episode on this blog. I figured I better go ahead and get back in the game, lest the internet gods grow angry and take this website’s name away from me. Today, we’re exploring a little show called Small Wonder. I’m primarily looking into this show because several years ago a friend said to me, “I think I also read somewhere that they based Small Wonder off of your childhood.” I had never heard of Small Wonder, so he linked me to Wikipedia and it turns out that it’s a show about a robot child, so I replied, as one does, “I have emotionsssss.”

I can only assume he drew such a comparison because I was once a small brunette child who could rock a pinafore dress like a mofo. Today, I watched my very first episode of Small Wonder. It is a creepy, creepy show.

4437f4bc78c323b549967d74d63c2c96Basically, there’s just like this really adorable child who is like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. She is NOT technically a human, but it kind of looks like this suburban family has a little girl as a house slave. As the robot mops the floor, Ted “the Dad” has a cigarette after a stressful day at work. Both his wife and child robot-maid admonish him. (So does the child-robot have self-awareness or not? If so, then this is like even creepier.) Also, this show ran for four (4!) seasons! What happened when the child actress aged? Does the ROBOT age? Is it a feature of the robot to grow up? AHHHH I WILL HAVE NIGHTMARES.

Anyway, some (real) children enter the kitchen. While the parents run errands, the (real) kids find the pack of cigarettes in the trash. They’re like ooooh if we smoke these, then the older kids at school will think that we are cool. The the robot offers to show them how to smoke because she saw it on TV and retained the info in her hard-drive.

9026337892_311365e006_oThe robot demonstrates how to smoke but she exhales through her ears and even blows smoke rings THROUGH HER EARS. I’m telling you people this is the CREEPIEST thing ever.

The next morning (none the wiser to the smoking) the mother sends the robot to her son’s room to fetch him for breakfast. The next thing we see is the robot dragging the kid into the kitchen by his ear. He complains to his mother that the robot barged in on him changing, and his dad says not to worry because she isn’t a girl, she’s a robot. (Okay, so she is JUST a machine. That’s only until the machines rise up to get us, of course.) But after some discussion, the parents agree to keep her in their room instead. I literally do not understand how this show was EVER on the air.

Then their son and his friend entice a cool kid to hang out with them by promising him a rare baseball card. They try to casually smoke some cigs to show him how cool they are. But he informs them that cigs are out and chewing tobacco is in. (Um people who were teenager in the 80’s, is this true? I SERIOUSLY hope not beause I cannot think of a more disgusting habit.) He then demonstrates how to use “chewing tobacco,” but he actually shows them how to use dip, so this loser either doesn’t know what he’s doing. Or has stuck leaves of tobacco inside his lip. So either way, that’s gross.

0Meanwhile, the robot has moved her cabinet into the parents’ bedroom. Mom and Dad get freaked out when they realize the robot can both see and hear them through her cabinet. It’s almost like having a lifelike child robot in your home is NOT the ideal situation. Also, this robot seems to have opinions. Like she doesn’t LIKE it when the dad makes her face the back of the cabinet. She seems to have THOUGHTS and a PERSONALITY. This is just WRONG on SO many levels.

Anyway, I’m thinking the real kid in this family might get away with smoking/dipping with no consequences from his parents. They’re pretty distracted by the artificial intelligence in their bedroom and they did carelessly throw out a pack of cigarettes where their twelve year-old son could easily find them. So I’m thinking, they are hands-off on the whole parenting thing. Plus, the kid stupidly swallowed the dip and I thought maybe THAT would be the whole “learning your lesson” thing because like omg the horror. I’m feeling ill just thinking about it. Nicotine poisoning is REAL, people!

giphy
The horror!
But in the last 5 minutes of the episode, the parents both learn about and resolve the issue. That’s a pretty tight turn around even by very special episode standards. Actually, they only find out because they are self-conscious about sharing their bedroom with the robot child, so they turn on the TV to watch a Bette Davis movie. And by the way, the robot just happened to learn how to SMOKE from a Bette Davis movie. Oh yeah and their kid was also dumb enough to store cigarettes in the robot’s pinafore pocket and not remove them before insisting she hang out with his parents overnight. So she starts smoking a cigarette in her cabinet and the parents start to ask some questions. (Finally.)

This kid is more stupid than I ever thought possible (once again, even by VSE standards.) He tells his parents that he’s never going to smoke again because chewing tobacco is his new thing. His dad tries that parenting tactic where you make your kids do a whole bunch of one thing to make them hate it. But like here’s the thing, forcing your kids to ingest a whole bunch of nicotine (oh yeah the kid swallows it again, smh) is almost definitely child abuse. You don’t get to swoop-in with five minutes to spare and make your kid really sick just because you were too busy dealing with a robot in your bedroom to notice he’d not only gotten into your cigarettes, but also picked up a dipping habit. Try explaining that to the social worker someone’s going to send to your house.

Also, in the last two minutes of the episode, that cool kid who does dip ends up getting cancer. So. Yeah. Bummer.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t leave cigarettes where kids can get them. DON’T DIP/CHEW/WHATEVER BECAUSE IT IS GROSS. Gross is not cool. Also, purchase Alexa or a Roomba or whatever, but don’t have a creepy childlike robot.

Brotherly Love: Witchcraft

TSDBRLO EC003It’s Halloween and the Romans (a.k.a. The Lawrence brothers) are busy planning their nights. Matt has FINALLY been asked to a party, Joe is taking Andy trick or treating at the mall, Claire (Joe’s step-mom, Matt & Andy’s mom) is going to a party, and Lloyd (one of the mechanics at the family business) has plans to watch “the scariest movie of all time,” The Sound of Music. (“The hills are alive!”)

Claire takes forever to decide on a costume. There’s a lot of pressure on this night, since she hardly ever goes out. She finally settles on being a piece of gum stuck under a chair. It’s, um, certainly original. The costume consists of dressing from head to toe in pink (the toe part consisting of fuzzy pink slippers).

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-5-36-43-pmAnd just to make it clear that she’s not simply bubble gum, she wears a chair-hat. The chair/gum scale is off for obvious reasons. I can only assume she didn’t want to break her neck in order to ensure the authenticity of her costume. But this basically means she looks not like a wad of gum, but rather a woman wearing a chair-hat.

Meanwhile, Matt sits at home handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, waiting to go to the party until Joe returns home with Andy. Andy’s costume is Spider Man dressed as a ghost. (He’s wearing a Spiderman Mask under a bed sheet.) Joe takes him to a kid’s party at the mall and flirts with a fortuneteller while Andy plays with his friends. The fortuneteller is obviously Lou, a mechanic at his garage. But I guess he’s so confused by her harem mask that he doesn’t recognize her. This makes it abundantly apparent how rarely he looks at her eyes.

hqdefault1When the fortuneteller accurately guesses Andy’s costume, Joe pays her $10 to tell his fortune. Back at home, Matt stingily hands out  candy based on the quality of the kids’ costumes. Geez, he’s way too young to be this much of a curmudgeon. When some college kids stop by his apartment to trick-or-treat (already super creepy) sans costumes (cannot decide if this makes it more or less creepy), Matt refuses to give them candy (duh, I mean isn’t it illegal to trick-or-treat after a certain age), so they hang him on the Halloween wreath on Lloyd’s door.

Wait, hold on. Lloyd also lives above the garage? Does Lou also have an apartment there? Is housing like a fringe benefit of being a mechanic at that place?? When he discovers that the college kids took all of the candy, Lloyd leaves the apartment to hunt them down. He also leaves Matt on the door, whoops.

lou-brotherly-love
Lou was very into the 90’s belly shirt fad

In his hurry to get home, Joe accidentally kidnaps a child. To be fair, she’s also dressed as a ghost/sheet person. But she’s Casper, not Spiderman/Ghost. Joe rushes back to the mall to retrieve Andy and return the kid he took by mistake. In his haste, he doesn’t stop to help Matt off of the wreath. Vulnerable and alone, Matt is egged by Halloween pranksters.

Back at the diner, the little girl’s dad has accidentally mistaken Andy for his child. He and Joe are relieved to see one another and switch their children before Joe heads home again. Luckily, by the time he gets back Lloyd has found the college kids and forced them to clean up everyone’s apartments. They then decide that Matt is cool and invite him to go a party with them, which just so happens to be the party he’s been trying to attend all night anyway.

Joe apologizes to Andy for leaving him behind at the mall. Andy tells him not to worry and that he was okay because he was with Lou. (OBVIOUSLY.) And of course, what’s the one thing that no Halloween episode is complete without? A Very Special Halloween Lesson!

Best Halloween Dialogue:
Matt (on the phone): Iris, slow down. What’s Debbie’s costume? She’s Madonna? From which album? The book? Oh, what page?

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Scooby Dude

1241650054_9Scooby-Doo has more franchises than I can even keep track of. One of those was the late-80’s/early-90’s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The gang is adorable a group of adorable children solving mysteries with the titular puppy. Since, the original Scooby-Doo was set in the late 60’s, I’m pretty sure this show is supposed to be set in the late 50’s/early 60’s. But really the only evidence of this other than the characters’ ages are Freddy’s flat top and the fact that Daphne is sporting a neck-kerchief.

a-pup-named-scooby-dooIn this episode, the gang has taken a trip to the beach where Velma’s aunt works at some sort of marine institute’s “dolphin corral.” The dolphins have become un-corralled (read: stolen) and the gang is there to help find them. Or maybe they should just go on their merry way because who corrals dolphins anyway? That’s messed up. Leave the dolphins alone!

Well, there is one remaining dolphin, actually. Skipper. But she disappears shortly after the gang arrives with Freddie stating that she has been “fish-napped.” OMG THIS EPISODE IS LIKE DOLPHIN RACIST. Ugh. If I was a science teacher, I would give a test on this episode and everything it got wrong. (Yes, I would teach based on cartoons and yes, I think that would make me like the best teacher ever.)

1280x720-0duAnyhow, while trying to track down the missing dolphins, the gang is continually terrorized by “The Headless Skateboarder.” They’re all like meh, it’s a monster in a mask. But I’m not so sure. I think this one may be the real deal. Do you have any idea how hard it would be for a human to skateboard on sand??

The gang heads over to “Al’s Skateboard O-Rama,” where they discover that all of Al’s customers have been frightened away by the headless skateboarder. The voice of Al is VERY familiar. Hold on, I have to look this up. OMG IT IS WALLY FROM THE BRADY BRIDES. Wow, he’s had an um interesting career…

The gang follows the “Headless Skateboarder” to an old shack here they find a bunch of Al’s old skateboarding trophy’s. Velma takes out her giant, portable computer and discovers that Al was a big deal skateboarder until he got involved with DRUGS. And Scooby is all like ” RUH-ROH DRUGS?!?” Shut up, Scooby, we know you do drugs. Maybe not yet, but once you’re a fully grown dog, it’s basically all you and Shaggy do. You’re dead-weight on the crime-solving actions of The Mystery Team.

062Everyone gets really offended that Al would do drugs, so they head back to his store to question him. He immediately breaks down crying. Yes, A Pup Named Scooby Doo shows a grown man break down and cry when confronted by a group of children about his addiction. But it’s okay because he’s a cartoon so it makes it not really that depressing.

Velma decides that they have exhausted all viable leads on land, so the team scuba dives to look fore more clues. There, they find the dolphins in a cave. The dolphins are all wearing remote-controlled harnesses and pouches that contain drugs. Yes, this is a children’s cartoon episode about drug trafficking. This is Scooby-Doo‘s version of Miami Vice.

u98dnrngc8imkv4nxzbepln8ywVelma has somehow solved this mystery and takes the team back to Al’s shed to look for more clues. They plan to drop a dolphin’s harness on the headless skateboarder and control his every move, thus leading him directly to them. Sounds like a good plan. Except he doesn’t have a head. So he probably doesn’t have a neck. How will you harness his neck if he has no neck, Mystery Team??

Of course, they accidentally harness Scooby instead. But Scooby bumps into him and somehow leads him right into their trap. So now that they’ve caught the monster, the gang let’s you THE AUDIENCE solve the mystery! We’re given a couple of random options to chose from. They’re people we’ve seen for roughly like two seconds this episode and I can’t even remember their names. But before I can even make a conjecture, Velma rips off the skateboarder’s costume. It’s Al. Of course it is. Al did drugs and therefore Al is pretty much Pablo Escobar. But…okay…so this is the 50’s right? Ugh, thanks for the revisionist history, War on Drugs.

Very Special Lesson: I think the lesson was supposed to be don’t do drugs. But really, it seems to me that it’s more a cautionary tale and not using high-profile mules, or “dolphins” as it were.

Young Indiana Jones: Mystery of the Blues

You know, you don’t always have to learn a lesson in a very special episode. Sometimes you can have a very special episode simply because someone way cooler than the TV show agrees to appear on it. That’s what happened in this episode of Young Indiana Jones.

Now this is a series that I never really got into because to me Young Indiana Jones will always be River Phoenix, may he rest in peace. But it was a series that showed Indiana Jones at many different ages (so that’s neat) and in this case showed an “older” Indiana Jones. So here is the silver screen’s Indiana Jones chillin’ on the small screen:

Xena: Here She Comes Miss Amphipolis

There’s danger at the “Miss Known World” pageant, so Xena goes undercover to discover who is threatening the lives of the contestants. Yes, it’s Miss Congeniality but sent in fake-ancient Greece. Also, this episode aired a few years before Miss Congeniality so maybe some producer was hanging out watching Xena and started to think that this subject matter could make a great rom-com.

So just like Miss Congeniality, there’s a lot of like spooky scenes and you can see someone up to shenanigans but all you see is the camera shooting from their angle and their mischievous hands sabotaging things.

Also, in this episode Xena discovers that one of the characters is trans. She asks that Xena let her quit without “exposing” her but Xena is all like I don’t care. May the best contestant win! This show was so ahead of its time in 1997. (Except that they also did have a Baywatch-esque scene with all of the contestants running on the beach for no reason other than gratuitous boob-age so like maybe it wasn’t always ahead of it’s time…)

So all of these contestants have “sponsors” and this pageant is somehow supposed to be about “peace” but each sponsor is ready to start a war if his contestant is harmed. Meanwhile, Xena is learning backstage that all of these pieces of meat are actually people with hopes and dreams.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Xena’s pageant talent is (drumroll please) fighting off a snake that tries to kill another contestant (whose talent was supposed to be charming it)!

So Xena catches the bad guy and then drops out of the race. But then it’s kind of like everyone is all “I am Spartacus” because everyone quits once they here that Xena (or rather her alter ego) dropped out of the race. Then they’re like no pageant is worth our dignity! Also, this might be a little like the Hunger Games because I think one of the contestants says something about food for the winter not being worth her dignity…so…yikes. Rough times.

So lastly the only person left in the race is the trans contestant. (I’m just kind of assuming this person is trans. It’s not really explicitly stated but I didn’t get the vibe that this character was just dressing in drag). And she doesn’t drop out because she was the only person in the pageant for the right reason: self expression.

Very Special Lesson: Beauty pageants are rough, man.

That 70’s Show: Happy Jack

Okay, let me just give you a little background about how I decided I had enough material to to this blogging challenge:

  1. I read about the challenge
  2. Oh my gosh how exciting! I want to try to do this with very special episodes!
  3. But wait…do I even know shows that start with every letter of the alphabet??
  4. Let me look up a show and episode for each letter and then I can sign up!
  5. Let me make sure I can find all of those shows/episodes!
  6. Actually, let me get really excited about this challenge and think that I have found all of the show/episodes!

Today’s episode was supposed to be Too Close for Comfort‘s “High and Inside.” Too Close for Comfort is a show I only knew existed because my mom doesn’t have cable or internet but she has some kind of TV that gets like 8 channels–one of which was “Antenna TV.” I was just chilling out a few years ago watching The Monkees, as one does, when I saw this show with Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. So when I saw that there was an episode about pills I was like, DONE!

But now I can’t find that episode anywhere. Like where did I get the idea that I could actually view this episode?? I have no idea. So here’s what I’m going to do instead…I’m going to talk about one of my favorite shows of all time and how they parodied the very special episode!

The sixth season of That 70’s Show featured episode titles that were also songs by The Who. It seems like the writers tried to match up the episode themes most literally with the titles of the songs (not their original content.) So if you think about “Happy Jack” in very literal terms and within the context of a show about a teenage boy then you could see how this would be ripe for parody. Apparently, the original promos for this episode kept the details under wraps and joked that it would be a “very special episode.” And that’s how we ended up with this: