With the proper premiere of Go On this week and its promising ratings, it seemed like the appropriate time to revisit our Groaning Pains series, specifically Go On star Matthew Perry’s short stint as Carol’s ill-fated boyfriend, Sandy. In other words, it’s time to discuss how we learned about drunk driving (and that a guy could be named “Sandy”).
When Friends premiered back in 1994 we may have been the only eleven-year-old in the country who thought to himself “there’s the guy who was in the Married with Children backdoor pilot and there’s the guy who was Carol’s boyfriend on Growing Pains that died from drinking and driving.” The former is Matt LeBlanc, whose Married With Children character Vinnie Verducci – Joey Tribbiani’s spiritual predecessor – was spun off with his father Charlie (the immortal Joseph Bolonga) into the very short-lived series Top of the Heap, and the latter is, of course, Matthew Perry. For years, Matthew Perry stuck in our mind because of his role on Growing Pains – 1) because his arc ended so tragically, and 2) because we never could quite wrap our heads around the fact he was named Sandy – and it would take a little while for us before we thought of Perry as Chandler Bing and not as Carol Seaver’s love lost, a cautionary tale.
Last night on American Idol Crystal Bowersox wowed us yet again by taking on Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia,” stepping out from behind the acoustic guitar to behind a piano and then stepping out from behind said piano. Despite what Simon said, it was lovely to see another side of her, because no matter the instrument or the shoes or the hair it was still quintessential Bowersox.
But, as my sister remind me, many of us (or just my sister and I) best know this classic tune as performed by Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gold on Growing Pains. Could it be that Bowersox grew up addicted to the show just like us? Will she put her own spin on “Show Me That Smile” during “Classic TV Themes Week? One can only hope and pray (although it seems that Chris Daughtry has beat her to it).
The Seaver version (starts about 30 seconds in):
Even though the cast of Growing Pains was made up of two Jews and a Canadian it contributed its fair share of Christmas themed episodes (likely somewhat due to the presence of at least one Jesus freak). To continue getting us in the holiday spirit we present “The Kid” from season 2, in which Ben, ever the lovable scamp, brings home a runaway for the holidays. Will she revert to her street rat tendencies? Or will her heart by warmed by the goodwill of the Seavers? Watch and find out…
Parts 2 and 3
Growing Pains would revisit this premise years later when Mike brought home juvenile delinquent Luke Brower. Of course, this particular hoodlum was played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and he’d stick around for longer than a very special episode.
What’s your favorite Christmas gutter punk memory?