Tag Archives: ABC

Groaning Pains: The Time That Mike Seaver Said He’s Gay

This is the first in what may be an ongoing look at some of the more melodramatic, socially conscious, politically charged, culturally relevant, righteously pedantic or potentially controversial moments from ‘Growing Pains.’  Today we take a look at the sixth episode of the show’s first season, “Mike’s Madonna Story.”

Kirk Cameron, America’s premier born-again Christian, has gone on record (with Piers Morgan, not Greta Van Susteren) that he opposes homosexuality.  Whether he hates gays and believes God hates them too is up for debate, but he certainly disagrees with their lifestyle and believes they’re destructive to “our” Christian civilization  It’s a bit jarring then that his television alter-ego Mike Seaver would make light of same-sex relationships, suggesting to his mother in this early Growing Pains episode that the reason that he did not have sex with a young slut (played by the late Dana Plato) is that he’s gay.  Of course, the truth was that Mike was just too ashamed to admit that he was scared to go all the way (which is fine, kids!), but we find it weird that in 1985 they included this remark, especially that they used such a sensitive issue as a laugh line.  But, perhaps, this was a time that was pre-gay panic, where something like this was not yet politically incorrect or possibly offensive and instead totally acceptable on ABC Saturday night at 8pm.  We do know, however, that we never noticed – or perhaps more accurately, understood – the meaning of this reference until we saw this episode as an adult.  We were probably five or six when we saw this episode (in syndication), and the concept of homosexuality went way over our very short heads.

Besides the surprising, now distracting, throwaway mention of homosexuality, this scene features the hallmark endemic to any great, quintessential Growing Pains episode, an extremely long, deliberate, wordy scene between two or three Seavers, often concerning some social issue, but usually about love or family or trust or respect, some kind important value.  Most Growing Pains episodes actually break down into the same format, jokey opening, set up, conflict, and then a third act that may be comprised entirely of one extended scene.  In fact, many of these scenes actually feel like little one-act plays, with dense, measured dialogue and careful, detailed blocking.  Just look at this scene above and observe Joanna Kerns as she cuts across the room, then back to the kitchen counter, and then finally gliding over to the kitchen table. She reclines in no less than four places, all the while doing professional scene work with a carton of ice cream (note how she gracefully adds some granola crumbs to her dessert), while Kirk Cameron does his own prop work with a magazine and a baseball.  It’s theater, it’s Death of a Salesman, on a hammy, corny 80s sitcom.  It’s impossible to imagine a network airing a scene with this kind of glacial pace today, let alone viewers sitting through it.  But that’s what Growing Pains did from week to week, and even if it seems positively antiquated today, it does strike us as somehow very brave, very ambitious (including the gay joke, even if it feels in bad taste now).  It’s probably just how sitcoms were built then, and when you’re producing TV in a world of hammy, corny sitcoms replete long, melodramatic, sappy teaching moments, it’s hard to step outside that world.  And in that world of long, melodramatic, sappy teaching moments, few did it better than Growing Pains.  Even if we had no idea what “gay” meant.

But we have to wonder: would born-again Kirk Cameron approved of that joke?  Would he be willing, perhaps enthusiastic, to use homosexuality as a punch-line?  Or would he have been steadfast against any mention of the “sin” in the show, especially the suggestion, even as a goof, that his character is gay?  We can only hope he’ll comment on this post and enlighten us.

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Filed under Growing Pains, Makes You Think, Nostalgia Corner

Is ABC’s ‘The Neighbors’ Actually a ‘Meego’ Spin-Off?

Yesterday Zap2It wondered if CBS’s new fall sitcom Partners is actually a reboot of the 1995 Fox comedy of the same name.  However, the bigger question for us is if ABC’s new Friday night show The Neighbors is actually a spin-off of CBS’s short-lived 1997 Bronson Pinchot vehicle Meego.  The tale of the tape:

The Neighbors: The series, set in New Jersey, revolves around a gated townhouse community called “Hidden Hills.” This is where the Weavers (Lenny Venito & Jami Gertz), a normal average family, have decided to move to. But upon their relocation to this community they discover that this place is populated by residents who are actually from another planet, using names of sports athletes, where men can become pregnant, receive nourishment through their eyes and mind by reading books rather than eating, and cries out green goo from their ears. Not only that, it appears that these aliens have been stuck on Earth for 10 years, still awaiting for a distress signal to return home.

 

Meego: Meego (Pinchot) is a 9,000-year-old shape-shifting alien from the planet Marmazon 4.0. After his spaceship crashes, he is discovered by three children; Trip, Maggie, and Alex Parker (Will Estes, Michelle Trachtenberg AND Jonathan Lipnicki) . They live with their single father, Dr. Edward Parker (Ed Begley, Jr.!) and pass Meego off as human (he tells people he is from Canada). Although he plans to go home as soon as his ship is repaired, he becomes attached to the children and decides to remain on Earth to care for them.

 

The latter show was specifically created for the CBS Block Party, their attempt to topple ABC’s TGIF after picking up both Family Matters and Step by Step from the Disney network.  Pinchot himself was coming off of a short stint on Step by Step as beautician Jean-Luc Rieupeyroux, which followed, of course, his long run as Balki Bartokomous on original TGIF member Perfect Strangers.  While The Neighbors will air on Wednesday nights, not Fridays, it could have easily fit on that popular comedy lineup, and perhaps that’s where it will eventually end up, considering the statement from ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee that ““It’s time for Friday night to be a destination again for broad family entertainment.”  May not be long until The Neighbors slides  into Meego‘s old Friday at 8:30pm time slot.

Is it possible that residents of Hidden Hills are from the plant Marmazon 4.0?  Why not?  They all seem to have things coming out of their ears.

(and, yes, we realize that Meego is basically Mr. Belevedere with an alien.  Or Free Spirit with an alien.  Or Who’s the Boss? with an alien.  Or countless other shows with an alien).

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Filed under Krebstar, Nostalgia Corner, Rip-off, TGIF, Who's the Boss?, You Decide

Dancing with the Stars of TGIF; Or an Excuse for Reginald VelJohnson in a Uniform

Well, we assume that Dancing with the Stars was unable to strike a deal with Bartman to join their new cast, so they went ahead and secured the next best thing, Urkel!

That’s right!  Jaleel “Steve/Stefon Urkel” White will be the centerpiece of Dancing with the Stars upcoming 14th(!) season (which begs the obvious question, how long until they do Dancing with the All-Stars?).  And, we bet you thought we’d take this easy opportunity to post the Urkel Dance, right?  RIGHT?  WRONG.  Nope, we’re taking this easy opportunity to post what happened after the Urkel Dance, Drunk Urkel! (but you should totally go watch the Urkel Dance when you’re done here)

But, no half measures here, we’re also taking this easy opportunity to revisit our dormant, once regular feature, Reginald VelJohnson in Uniform Moment of the Week!  And this is what happened after Drunk Urkel after the Urkel Dance!

What TGIF star do you think they’ll snag for Season 15???  Cousin Cody?  We know that he can kick.

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Filed under Nostalgia Corner, Reginald VelJohnson, TGIF

Well, If We Can’t Have a New ‘Bosom Buddies,’ Then This is the Next Best Thing, Right?

No, wait, that’s the worst best thing.

This is still the next best thing.  And the best bests thing.

A good tip is to abandon the cross-dressing subplot.  Bosom Buddies figured that out by season two. Should have taken heed.

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Filed under Bad Humor, Buffy & Hildegarde, The Worst

This Could Only Be Better If It Somehow Involved Pizza AKA LOST & Kermit!

Many years ago two of my greatest, if not my two greatest, passions united in a music video. I speak of course of Weezer and the Muppets, joining forces for the “Keep Fishin’” music video. Unfortunately, by that time Weezer was already on their way to retroactively ruining the fanatical affection I harbored for them during my high school years. The union was still unimaginably cool, but would have required a little bit more freak out control if it was made just a couple of years earlier (or perhaps that’s the benefit of time talking, as well as the carnage inflicted by Make Believe and The Red Album*).

However, I have no such bitterness about this new, brain-exploding team-up, the latest in the Lost Slapdown” series.  Yes, as odd as it may sound, God (and Disney corporate synergy) have brought together Lost and Kermit the Frog.

But although this is a monumental, colossal cross-over, I will not be getting a tattoo commemorating this meeting of Kermit, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, despite what some have suggested.

Make sure to check out the other Lost-Muppet joint ventures, including Pepe auditioning for the role of the Smoke Monster, Rizzo infiltrating the writers’ room and the Swedish Chef, an apparent avid Lost fan, running the ABC cafeteria.

*For a truly thought-provoking and thoughtful look at the devolution of Weezer, specifically Rivers Cuomo’s fall from ironic yet genuine songwriter to hackneyed hyper-self-aware song-crafter, we urge you to take a look at Chuck Klosterman‘s** essay on the subject in his anthology Eating the Dinosaur.  And just go ahead and read everything else in the compendium, because it’s all genius.

**And if Chuck Klosterman*** does anything with the Muppets I’ll flip out just as much, if not more.  Even if it’s an essay comparing Elmo to Helen Thomas.

***Just realized that “Klosterman” contains the word “lost.”  Whoa.

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Filed under Freak Out Control, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, LOST, Muppets, Other people's stuff, Tyranasaurus Sex, Virulent

Thoughts on the LOST Premiere AKA Why LOST Was the Best Show of the Last Decade

I’m not sure if I’m going to make a habit of posting weekly Lost reactions.  First of all, there are countless other bloggers who do an infinitely better job parsing the show and its mythology (Doc Jensen, Videogum, Alan Sepinwall, AV Club to name a few)  And second, I think I’d rather spend my time reading other people’s thoughts and theories than formulating my own, because immersing myself in the world of Lost and its possibilities is one of my all-time favorite pastimes.  But, in honor of the season premiere, and in light of a post I didn’t get around to writing six weeks ago, I thought I’d put finger to keyboard and deliver commentary that’s more along the lines of Ken Tucker’s, focusing not on the mythology, but on the storytelling and the characters.  Not on what the things in Lost mean, but on what is Lost‘s meaning.

Read on: Why I thought Lost was the best show of the decade, and how I was wrong but still right.

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Filed under Freak Out Control, LOST, Must See TV

Muppet Wednesday: Slow down, Muppets, I can’t keep up!

If Jimmy Fallon didn’t already have the planet’s best house band, I’d say he should hire the Muppets, because, as seen in this outtake from their pre-Christmas visit to Late Night, the Muppets don’t only do Christmas Carols:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although, when I first saw the link I was hoping it was going to be this version of “One.”  Now, that would have been cool.

More Muppet News: Parades, Groins, Collectible Figurines!!!

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Filed under Mickey Mouse Club, Muppets, Virulent