Frozen Stiff: A Murder, She Wrote Freeze Frame Zine

I got this adorable Murder, She Wrote zine on Etsy and I want to tell you all about it. The zine is a collection of thirteen freeze-frame endings from the show, hand drawn by artist Amy Talluto. The level of detail here is truly amazing.

Frozen Stiff: A Murder She Wrote Freeze Frame Zine image 0

I’m partial to the one from “Magnum on Ice.”

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It’s only $5 (including shipping) on Etsy so snag yourself one here.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Mary’s Insomnia

After Mary struggles with insomnia three times in one week, so goes to a doctor who gives her a magic little pill that makes everything better. Lou is immediately concerned that she’s in some kind of Valley of the Dolls situation. She tells him it’s really none of his business, so he tells her that it is work related because he’s putting together a documentary “on the dangers of sleeping pills.”

Mary reassures Lou that she isn’t addicted and that she’s taken them for fourteen consecutive days without issues. Lou challenges her to try to go one night without taking them (because he’s damn sure she is addicted). I mean wow what a strange way to handle a health concern with your subordinate.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Season 7 Episode 11

That night Mary tosses and turns. She finally breaks down and takes a pill. But she feels pretty crappy about this because it proves that Lou is right that she is, at the very least, reliant on the pills. The next morning, Mary lies to Lou and says she didn’t take the pill. So he heaps praise on her…until she finally admits she took the pill as he suspected all along.

According to Lou, getting over insomnia is easy. He says, “All that you have to do is make yourself go to sleep at night.” Oh boy, if only someone had told me this in my mid-twenties. Could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights!

Lou urges Mary to skip the pill that night and promises to come over if she needs support. When he doesn’t hear from her, he goes over to her apartment, and the super just straight up lets him into her place. When Lou enters Mary’s apartment, he notices the phone is off the hook. Fearing the worst, he frantically searches for her presumably lifeless corpse. But she’s really just in the bath, reading a book and drinking some milk. Yikes.

Mary's Insomnia (1976)

Mary is understandably upset that Lou is in her bathroom. But he gets offended because he was only worried about her and he isn’t a pervert, he just insists that she is a dope fiend. So my GOD there is NO reason to be OFFENDED. WJM should be counting their lucky stars it’s the 70’s and they don’t have an HR department because this justifiable lawsuit would surely put them under.

Murray barges, quickly followed by Ted (who is as oblivious as Lou). Murray at least has the decency to turn around and face the wall. Murray and Ted leave but Lou stays behind to make sure that Mary doesn’t take a sleeping pill. She’s understandably a bit agitated and tries to sneak pill behind his back. So he puts them down the garbage disposal.

Lou wraps Mary in an afgan, sits her down on the couch, and puts his harm around her. He tells her to breathe deeply and pretend she is asleep. He then says he will sing to her just as he used to sing all of his children to sleep. I’m having a full on panic attack at the thought of being in this situation, so I’m not sure how Mary is feeling. For the record, Ed Asner has a pretty decent voice though.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Mary's Insomnia (Lou Grant Singing to Mary) -  YouTube

Against all odds, this actually works. Incidentally, this is the first time that Mary Richards, a woman in her late-thirties, has had anyone tell her that she snores. It’s never too late for some good old fashioned self-discovery.

Very Special Episode: Evidently, the cure for insomnia is an Ed Asner a capella album of Irish lullabies and a warm afgan blanket. For best results, exhaust yourself beforehand by moving into a building whose super will gladly let all of your coworkers into your bathroom without your permission.

101 Dalmatians: Smoke Detectors

In the mid-90’s Disney had an animated television series based on the 101 Dalmatians movie. Personally, I think the 90’s animation is way less cute than the original 1961 animation. But anyways, in this episode Cruella De Vil is forced to stop smoking cold-turkey after she slowly sets every single room in her house on fire. Her insurance company gives her an ultimatum and refuses to let her live in her house again until she is a certified non-smoker. So she moves in with Anita and Roger temporarily. (This adaptation is a weird version of the story in which they appear to be neighbors and on rather cordial terms.)

In all seriousness, the amount of smoke coming from her house is sheer sweatshop level. It’s so bad it keeps the puppies awake at night. But the only thing worse than the constant air pollution is the possibility of endless cohabitation with the woman who is constantly trying to murder them for their fur.

Faced with a literal hellscape, the dogs decide to help Cruella with her smoking cessation plan if only so they can sleep a little better at night (a.k.a. without the constant threat of death). They spend a lot of time snatching cigarettes out of Cruella’s mouth and blowing out her matches. After realizing that this is a Sisyphean approach, they decide to lock her in the bathroom while they destroy her stash.

While Cruella is dazed and locked in the downstairs bathroom, these puppies create a literal assembly line to move several thousand boxes of cigarettes to the upstairs bathroom where they intend to flush them down the toilet. At this point, I have to ask where even are Pongo and Perdita?? It seems like these puppies could use some adult supervision!

As the puppies set about ruining the plumbing in this old house, Cruella breaks out of the downstairs bathroom. Just as she is rushing toward the stairs, the toilet over flows and floods the entire house. After that the puppies decide to try a different approach.

As it turns out, Roger stopped smoking his pipe by using a self-help tape in his sleep. That night, after Cruella returns home, the puppies break into her house with a boombox. Unfortunately, the puppies cannot read, so they accidentally play a puppy training tape for her instead of the anti-smoking tape. This somehow hypnotizes Cruella into a dog-like state. At one point it seems like Cruella is seriously considering urinating on a fire hydrant but opts to bite a delivery person’s leg instead. I never thought I would say this, but I am genuinely beginning to feel bad for Cruella De Vil.

Roger manages to snap Cruella out of her hypnosis, but it turns out this has all been for the better because she has finally hit rock bottom. Anita offers her a pack of gum to help with her craving.s And it turns out that’s all she needed! Except then she chews so much gum that she destroys her house with that too.

Very Special Lesson: Everything in moderation. Except for cigarettes. No cigarettes.

Boy Meets World: Teacher’s Bet

Boy Meets World" Teacher's Bet (TV Episode 1993) - IMDb

At the top of this episode, Shawn and Cory decide that Feeny’s job is so easy that even a kid could do it. Meanwhile, Mr. Feeny introduces that week’s lesson: Prejudice. The class will be covering Black slavery in the American South, The Holocaust, and several other issues concerning prejudice. ALL OF THIS IN ONE WEEK, FEENY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

He sends this kids home with the first thirty pages of Anne Frank’s diary, but pulls Cory aside at the last minute to scold him for acting up in class. Cory and Feeny argue that it’s easier to be in the other one’s shoes, so they decide to swap places for the week. Cory will teach his class while Feeny sits in front of Shawn and acts up. To make it interesting, Cory bets his new bike and Feeny bets 20% of his weekly paycheck. If more kids do well on the test than usual, then Cory wins. Cory thinks it will be a breeze because: “The book does all the teaching. Feeny’s just Vanna White pointing at the letters.”

At school the next day, Cory tells all of the kids in class that they can wear their baseball caps and should refer to him as “Hey Dude.” That’s my kind of teaching! Topanga requests that Cory waive the entire dress code so that she can be more free to culturally appropriate and wear a sari to school. Cory agrees.

Boy Meets World Reviewed: Episode 1x08 "Teacher's Bet"

Back at Cory’s house, Morgan cramps Eric’s style with his new girlfriend Linda because she’s really nice and Morgan wants to be her new BFF. But I think this really works out for Eric because Morgan seems so endearing and it makes Eric look like a family man. The next day, Linda sends Eric home with a Japanese lantern for Morgan.

As Cory’s first day of teaching comes to a close, his father (who is very concerned about the new bike he just paid for) inquires about the details of Feeny’s grading. In the course of their conversation, Cory reveals that Feeny is going to take the test since he’s a student this week. Alan explains that Feeny will get the highest score, thus breaking the curve, and will win the bet.

Cory is STRESSED when he returns to class the next day. Topanga decides to sit on a yoga cushion instead of at her desk. She’s wear a sari, as promised, and there’s a whole joke about how “scary she is when she meditates. (For an episode that is all about everyday racism, this whole bit is a sour note.) Minkus decides to goof off for once in his life. And Mr. Feeny shows up wearing a Phillies jersey just in time for Shawn to deal him into poker. Suffice it to say, Cory isn’t able to get any teaching done and is bike is effectively toast.

When he arrives home from school, he agonizes over how to get through to the class. As Cory is trying to figure out a game plan, Eric arrive home with a sobbing Linda. Someone at the mall called her a racial slur. Cory, a white boy from suburban Philadelphia, is fully shocked that prejudice still exists in the modern world of 1993.

The next day at school, Cory goes fully Feeny and wears a suit. (Feeny wears a Meat Loaf sweatshirt.) Even though everyone is goofing off, Cory proceeds on with his lecture: “Class, I’d like to talk to you today about prejudice and how it still exists in today’s world. I didn’t even know that until last night when I saw a real smart totally cool Asian girl crying her eyes out because some idiot at the mall called her a bad name. My lesson for today is that when people treat other people badly because of their skin color, or their religion, or where they come from, then real smart totally cool people can really suffer.”

Teacher's Bet - Boy Meets World Image (19058361) - Fanpop

No one listens to him. Cory is totally dejected and is about to walk out of the classroom (and away from his proverbial bike) when Feeny gives him a meaningful look. Corey turns back around and asks Shawn what his mother’s maiden name is. Then he uses a slur for Italian people. When Shawn is just about to deck him (Feeny is allowing all of this to happen for “education purposes”) Cory points out that not everyone has the luxury of being able to stand up for themselves. (Cory doesn’t say this here but if you were listening to his lecture earlier it’s obvious that his larger point is that they shouldn’t even have to.) Cory concludes the class by reading the most famous quote from Anne’s diary.

The next day, Feeny reveals that the exact same number of students passed, so the bet is a draw. Cory keeps his bike and Feeny keeps his full paycheck. Cory is disappointed and feels like he wasn’t a good teacher. (Turns out it’s a lot harder than it looks.) But Feeny lifts his spirits by revealing that Shawn scored a letter grade higher than he usually does. He got a B! Feeny also reveals that Cory learned something as well. Oh Lord, this brought me to tears multiple times. This episode is AMAZING.

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Okay, this episode is especially cute in the context of Girl Meets World where Cory really does grow up to be a teacher. It totally works. I love it.

Something that I think is particularly great about this episode is that it doesn’t stop at raising awareness. Part of this, yes, is Cory becoming aware of the fact that racism exists in his world — something he has never personally experienced as a white child in an upper-middle class bubble. But Cory quickly realizes that raising awareness to this issue through his lecture didn’t really get anyone’s attention. So he quickly moves on to a different approach: he provokes Shawn.

Shawn is a safe person to try this with. If he’s going to punch Cory, there will at least be a bit of a lead up to it (and hopefully time to de-escalate). And with this lead-time, Cory starts a conversation. It’s an inflammatory conversation, but it’s with someone who he knows will continue to listen even if things get tense because Cory has that kind of relationship with Shawn. Cory then uses a series of very pointed questions that provoke Shawn. He questions him on what he would do in this hypothetical situation and then remind him that he doesn’t have the power to actually do anything.

When Cory confronts Shawn in front of the class, it’s like he’s doing his own mini blue-eyed/brown-eyed experiment where he, Cory, is the powerful blue-eyed boy while Shawn (the proverbial brown-eyed) can’t do anything to better his station in the classroom. Our budding activist wraps the class up with a call to action. He reminds everyone that it isn’t enough for the people who are suffering to stand up for themselves, but rather that the people in power must stand up for them too. It’s not a very great call to action because it’s pretty vague and evidently left a lot of kids still missing the point. But he’s only eleven, so we’ll give him points anyway. And hey, Shawn got a B on the final assignment, which really is saying something.

Is there some kind of campaign I can get behind to show this episode of Boy Meets World in every classroom in America? And also maybe every church and every office space? I know a lot of adults who could really benefit from this clip:

This episode may have aired in 1993 but it certainly feels like it could be describing life in 2021.

The Golden Girls: The Break-In

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I recently rewatched Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Days later, I’m still thinking about it. So obviously I had to rush right over to the episode of The Golden Girls where the girls arrive home late after a Madonna concert and find that their house has been robbed.

It’s very interesting to see how differently each of the girls respond to the break-in. Dorothy responds by mis-quoting Dirty Harry in a loud voice (to threaten any lingering robbers). Sophia is utterly unafraid because she is old and “bathtubs are dangerous.” Blanche frantically searches the house for any missing expensive item. And Rose freaks the f**k out.

I’m reading a book called Chatter by Ethan Kross and I would definitely say Rose has been overtaken by chatter in this episode. She purchases a guard dog (even though she is afraid of big dogs). She purchases mace (which Blanche borrows when she mistakes it for hairspray…that doesn’t end well.)

When Rose comes home one day with a gun, Dorothy urges her to see a therapist. The girls decide to go as a group and they all feel better except for Rose. Things get so bad that Rose sleeps during the day and stays up all night.

One night as Rose lies awake in the darkness, she hears a disturbance at the front door. With their new alarm system wailing, Rose takes a shot. And thank God she’s a horrible shot because she almost killed Blanche’s date but luckily killed her vase instead. (Interestingly enough there is a big continuity error with the vase because it reappears fully intact in subsequent episodes.)

Things continue to escalate when Rose is in a parking deck and knees a parking attendant who chased her down to return her keys. To be fair, this guy should have yelled out something more informative than “hey lady” while in hot pursuit of an old woman, so I can’t really blame Rose for going for the “safe deposit box,” as she calls it. Anyway, this all somehow makes Rose feel better and in control of her life again.

The Golden Girls" Break In (TV Episode 1985) - IMDb

Very Special Lesson: Losing your sense of reality and kneeing an innocent person in the family jewels will somehow help you regain your sense of power in the world –wait what? No, no, no. That’s not right. Buying a gun and shooting a vase will…no, sorry that’s not it either…um…when something traumatic happens and you find yourself stuck in a constant thought spiral, get a good therapist who helps you work through difficult emotions with strategic interventions that support healthy cognitive functioning. Yes, that’s the one. Third time’s the charm.

Want to spend a little more time with this episode? Check out the “Fudge, Yarn, & Gun” episode from Enough Wicker.

Boy Meets World: B & B’s B ‘n B

I’ve had grifters on my mind lately. Yesterday, I started the new Operation Varsity Blues documentary on Netflix. Earlier this week, I finished The Glass Hotel and then decided to round that out with the four-part Bernie Madoff podcast series from American Scandal. THEN, just for good measure, I listened to an episode of CNBC’s American Greed about Anna Delvey. Now if you’re like, “wow that all sounds like a bummer and I don’t know if I want to continue reading,” hold on just a second because one time Cory and Shawn ran a grift on Boy Meets World and it was mostly good fun.

Ranking Every 'Boy Meets World' Episode Ever! – The Twizard

This episode is from Season 4, which I consider to be the golden-era of Boy Meets World. Season 4 contains my legit favorite very special episode “Chick Like Me,” the classic “Cult Fiction,” and a really sweet Eric-centered episode called “Uncle Daddy” — which sounds weird but actually isn’t. In fact, I think I love season 4 so much because it feels like Eric is really coming into his own and the character hasn’t become totally flandarized yet.

In “B&B’s B ‘n B,” Eric and Mr. Feeny are both going out of town (separately). Cory and Eric’s mother is supposed to take care of Mr. Feeny’s plants while he is away, a job she quickly pawns off to Cory and Shawn. Remembering that Mr. Feeny mentioned he would be staying at a bed in breakfast, Shawn is quick to hatch a plan in support of his economics project.

Boy Meets World" B & B's B'n B (TV Episode 1997) - IMDb

Meanwhile in Boston, Eric pretends to be a CEO but the bartender quickly makes him for a recent high school grad who works for his father and is attending his very first out-of-town conference. He settles for drinking a root beer and bumps into Mr. Feeny who is having a drink at the bar before he meets his dinner date. Feeny confesses that he has been in a long-distance with another school teacher for years, but they’re both too career-oriented to leave their current jobs and move cities.

That night, Cory returns to Feeny’s house to water the plants and discovers Shawn there along with some bed and breakfast guests. Shawn has bribed airport cab drivers to tell travelers that every hotel in the city is booked and redirect them to this suburban Philadelphia home instead. I give you the first Airbnb!

In Boston the bartender offers to buy Eric dinner, which is pretty strange since she just called him a baby when they met two seconds ago. Was that flirting? Idk I’ve decided she’s an old-looking 21 and he’s 19 and it’s been fixed in my mind. In the end, she gives him a kiss on the cheek and he goes to sit with Mr. Feeny who is very sad.

Feeny confesses that he has realized that there is a limit to his love for his long-distance girlfriend (and vice versa). He worries that he’s too old to take a true risk and therefore too old for true love. After years of taking advice from Feeny, Eric is finally in a position to be the advice-giver. He tells Mr. Feeny that he believes love can come at any age and then offers to be Mr. Feeny’s wingman while their in Boston.

“Cruise for chicks?” Feeny says. “And their mothers,” Eric replies.

Back in Pennsylvania, Cory, Shawn, and Topanga (who has compromised her ethics for the good cash tips), serenaded the guests on Feeny’s piano. Cory agonizes about getting caught because he believes the universe will not allow them to get away with wrongdoing. “Without punishment my world loses both form and meaning,” he says and I hope discusses with a good therapist at a later date.

Boy Meets World 4x13 B & B's B'n B - ShareTV

Feeny arrives home, just after all the guests have left, to a freshly cleaned house. Just when they think they’ve gotten away with it, Feeny asks how much money they made from the bed and breakfast. (Turns out the cab driver was still selling the place.) Shawn hands over the cash and expects a much harsher sentence than his usual detention. But Feeny goes easy on him because he’s proud of Shawn for taking a risk. Oh YIKES no I don’t think that was the thing you were supposed to learn from your failed relationship Mr. Feeny!!! Or at the very least, you shouldn’t be projecting it onto teenage grifters!

Boy Meets World Reviewed: Episode 4x13 "B & B's B 'N B"

Feeny promises to keep the cash for Shawn and return it to him when he is in college because he’s shown a keen eye for business strategy. Huh. Well, I forgot that it ended this way. But I guess I don’t hate the college fund aspect of this. Let’s just hope Shawn doesn’t become the next Jordan Belfort or whoever.

This post is brought to you as part of the 7th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon. Check out the other posts here.

History Repeats Itself: Are Squishmallows the New Beanie Babies?

Hello, I have just learned of the existence of Squishmallows. These plushes are squishy not beanie and Gen Z seems to love them. One Gen Zer featured in The New York Times has three hundred twenty-five!

Squishmallows 7" Plush - Assorted* | BIG W

Having lived through the Beanie Baby collectible craze of the 90’s, and ultimately, the big ole bubble burst, I’d like to take this moment to reflect upon our toy mania history, lest we repeat ourselves. Thankfully, 3rd Rock from The Sun has a 1998 episode on exactly this topic — well almost exactly. The toys in question in 1998’s “Collect Call for Dick” are “fuzzy buddies.”

For those of you unfamiliar with 3rd Rock from The Sun, Dick (played by John Lithgow) is one of a group of aliens sent to live on Earth to observe humanity. It’s like a really weird group of anthropologies from another planet. During a trip to a fast food restaurant, Dick receives a fuzzy buddy toy as part of a promotional giveaway. Initially disinterested, Dick becomes invested in the fuzzy buddy craze after learning that several of the toys are rare and valuable.

3rd Rock from The Sun 4x04 - Collect Call for Dick - video Dailymotion

Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize this until after he gives the extremely rare toy he received at the fast food restaurant to a coworker. He then panics and offers her $500 for the toy. Thus begins Dick’s foray into the world of fuzzy buddy re-selling. This is a 30-minute show, so things escalate quickly. Soon Dick is using the group’s food money to purchase more fuzzy buddies. (Some would call this a real dick move, pun intended).

Beanie Baby bubble
Helpful infographic from The Hustle

One of Dick’s fellow aliens urges him to sell the fuzzy buddies for a profit as soon as possible. But Dick’s too caught up in the game. Instead of selling his collection he purchases another rare fuzzy buddy for $800.

The group stages an intervention and Dick is finally confronted with his behavior. By the end of the episode, he sells his whole collection (which is good because the freezer was literally full of fuzzy buddies instead of food). He then goes on a crusade to warn others of the dangers of fuzzy buddies. So I suppose I’ve taken up that mantle with this post here. But I dunno…those squishmallows sure are cute…maybe I should get one of those little ones for my keychain…

In Defense of Her Alibi

Released in February of 1989, Her Alibi earned a whopping half-star rating from Roger Ebert and lead actress, Paulina Porizkova, was nominated for a Razzie.

This movie is desperately bankrupt of imagination and wit, and Tom Selleck looks adrift in it. He plays a detective novelist, named Blackwood, who has run out of inspiration. So he goes to criminal court for fresh ideas, and there he falls instantly in love with Nina (Paulina Porizkova), a Romanian immigrant who is accused of murdering a young man with a pair of scissors. Blackwood disguises himself as a priest, smuggles himself into jail to meet Nina, and offers to supply her with an alibi: She can claim they were having an affair at his country home in Connecticut at the time of the crime.” — Roger Ebert in his review of Her Alibi (1989)

As with many negative things in life, the bad reviews are a problem of perspective. Much like I hated Footloose when I rented it from the video store as a thirteen year-old who took all older teenagers very seriously, I loved the movie seven years later when I caught it on television and realized it was hilarious and metaphorical in all the best ways possible. It was also an early sign of a doomed relationship when the guy I was dating at the time negged me for loving it! Pro-tip, only date people who graciously give you the space to love campy things!

Okay, back to Her Alibi. We’re going to approach this from the perspective of literally everything is a joke whether or not the movie is in on it. This starts with the opening credits, which has some Clue-worthy theme music. It also features a lot of fake book titles. If you regularly read this blog, you know I’m already a sucker for that. More importantly, the book titles let you in on a very important aspect of this movie: it isn’t take itself that seriously.

Much of the narration in this film comes from Tom Selleck’s character writing his latest novel in a detective series. The titular detective is “Peter Swift,” reminiscent of Tom Swift from the same syndicate that brought you Nancy Drew and The Hard Boys. These are airport novels with corny titles. The cover that features a football helmet bears the title “The Dying Position.” The one with a theater setting is called “Looks Like Curtains.” My personal favorite features a stained glass window of a nun with a giant syringe in the foreground. It’s called “The Dying Habit.” You get the picture.

The film opens with a murder in a New York City apartment building. The only leads are that the victim was a student whose downstairs neighbor heard an argument in a “weird language.” Meanwhile, Phil (Tom Selleck) meets with his editor (William Daniels a.k.a. Mr. Feeny) to discuss his four-year long writing dry spell. Shortly thereafter, Phil heads to court where he sits with a group of other writers, eavesdropping on arraignments for inspiration.

When Nina (Paulina Porizkova) enters the courtroom, Phil develops a crush (and a sudden rush of writing inspiration). There’s just one catch — remember that dead body from just a few minutes ago? They think Nina and a pair of nine-inch scissors are responsible.

Dressed as a priest, Phil visits Nina in jail and offers her an alibi. He will pretend to be her lover and she can come home with him to Connecticut. (They work out this deal while Phil shouts at her across the room with a correctional officer just on the other side of the door. Very stealth.) Understandably, Nina plans to ditch Phil as soon as she is released. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of thugs waiting for her as she leaves the jail, so she goes to Phil with Connecticut anyway.

Phil’s Connecticut home is a lovely old farmhouse with lots of vaulted ceilings and stone-facing. True to the promise he made in the jail, he gives Nina the guest room and doesn’t attempt to do anything creepy. He mostly just cooks poorly and writes his novel in his head.

The recurring joke of the movie is that Phil is fairly paranoid, who were it not for the power of lust would probably never take a risk at all. We see this paranoia frequently juxtaposed with Phil’s narration of Peter Swift’s daring exploits. As the night wears on, Phil becomes increasingly terrified of Nina, which is understandable given that she’s an accused murderer who throws a giant knife at his head — to kill a bug.

Isolated in Connecticut, Phil interprets almost everything Nina does as an attempt on his life. He’s so jumpy he falls into the pool while taking out the trash because he catches a glimpse of her through the window. She’s painting her face entirely white. Clearly murderous stuff. But who can’t relate to a(n) (un)healthy dose of paranoia these days?

One day, Nina rides her bike to a local shopping center. While there, she narrowly escapes the thugs from earlier and rushes home to Phil, who is just about to leave for the barber shop. She’s afraid to be alone, so she insists on cutting his hair herself. Phil reluctantly agrees to let her use the presumed murder weapon so close to his major arteries. And we get this sexy haircut scene in return:

Shortly thereafter, Phil teaches Nina how to use a bow and arrow — you can see his new level of trust after having survived the haircut. Unfortunately, shoots him in the ass. One harrowing drive to the hospital later and Phil is paranoid again.

Eventually, Phil works up the courage to ask Nina point blank if she committed the murder. She refuses to answer. He follows her downstairs and sees her brandishing a pair of scissors through a crack in the door. As Phil attempts to barricade himself in his room, Nina appears behind him with a rose. She was only using the scissors to remove the thorns.

We then learn that Phil’s been in a bit of a rut since his wife left him. And taking an attractive accused murderer home might be some kind of subconscious attempt at DIY exposure-response therapy. So does Phil finally trust Nina? He does until a bomb explodes behind him in the kitchen while Nina is a safe distance away in the pool.

Phil asks a writer friend to use her connections to research Nina’s past. He also begins listening in on her conversations. Unfortunately, the only thing Phil’s able to glean from his pocket Romanian dictionary is that Nina has mentioned something about a funeral.

In the next scene, Nina makes dinner for Phil’s entire family. She says it’s a Romanian custom where the youngest woman makes dinner for everyone and then takes a walk while they eat it. When Nina leaves for her walk, Phil gives a little portion of the food to the cat before the rest of the family sits down for dinner.

As it turns out, Nina’s walk consists of fleeing with a friend in a car. Meanwhile over dinner, Phil laughs with his family about all the times he thought Nina had tried to murder him. He then goes to the kitchen and finds the cat, dead. He returns to the table and announces that Nina poisoned them all, but the family thinks it’s another joke. The cat’s dead body quickly proves otherwise.

As the family heads to the hospital, Nina returns to the house so that she can tell Phil the truth about everything — which you may have guessed does not include poison. Alone with Phil’s laptop, Nina reads the novel he’s been writing.

Just as the family arrives home after having their stomachs pumped, a neighbor approaches and explains that his wife saw the cat get electrocuted outside and left its body by the door so as not to interrupt their dinner. Nina then confronts Phil for depicting her as a murderer in his new novel and leaves him for good.

Phil later learns from his contact that Nina’s family of famous acrobats has disappeared in the United States after trying to defect from Romania. It turns out the “funeral” from Nina’s phone call is The Funeral of Grimaldi.

Dressed as a clown, Phil finds Nina at the funeral. This must be sort of a Sandy/Danny at the carnival moment because they both instantaneously overcome their trust issues. They’re chased by the Romanian thugs but fight them off just in time for the lead detective to show up. And good news: Nina’s family’s asylum has been approved! Oh and that dead guy from earlier? He was trying to help them to defect and wasn’t as lucky as Nina and Phil when it came to escaping the thugs.

And what good 80’s movie doesn’t roll credits with a Randy Newman song?

This movie is not quite suspense, not quite romantic comedy (though it’s probably trying to be both). Think of it as a TV movie version of Romancing the Stone. Whether or not you like this movie really comes down to whether or not you’ll get a laugh out of Phil’s corny narration because his novel truly is terrible. Personally, I find tight shots of Tom Selleck mixing a chocolate milk while his voice over says “Swift poured himself a bourbon” to be nothing short of hilarious.

This post is part of the Third Annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. For the full roster of posts please click here.

Family Ties: Speed Trap

I know you’re all very familiar with Jesse Spano’s caffeine pill problems, but did you know that Alex P. Keaton once took diet pills so he could study more? (Honestly, it sounds like your mileage may vary. Comedian Elna Baker describes taking phentermine and spending several intense hours making a really shitty birthday card in her book, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir. So in my very special opinion, you’re not gonna get quality results on your mind or body with speed.)

In this episode, Alex wants to stay up all night working on school work. He enlists his sister Mallory’s help in getting diet pills (a.k.a. speed) from a friend of hers. Mallory obtains the pills from her reluctant friend with the promise that Alex will take her out on a date — even though he’s super not into her and fat shames her to Mallory when she tells him the details of the transaction. Oh my gosh the 80’s, there is soooo much that is wrong with this situation. And you can betchya only the pill issue will be addressed in this episode — and only as it relates to Alex.

Alone in his room, Alex delivers a lengthly soliloquy (and a little more fat-shaming) as he agonizes over whether or not to take the pills. Seeking the advice of his framed 8×10 photo of Richard Millhouse Nixon, Alex eventually pops some pills (off-screen).

The next time we see Alex, he’s high on stimulants playing Monopoly with his family (as if Monopoly could be any more aggressive). Alex’s ex-hippie parents are very oblivious to the fact that their son is high. I would truly expect better of people who met at Berkeley.

Later, Alex approaches Mallory for more pills and when she tries to cut him off, he breaks cardinal rule number one (never go through a teenaged girl’s purse) and takes the pills for himself. Mallory tells Alex that she never wants to speak to him again. Alex tells Mallory that if she tells their parents about what he’s doing then she’ll be in trouble with them too. (Seriously? The hip Berkeley parents of the 80’s?? Mallory isn’t all that smart, so she believes this to be true.)

Alex becomes increasingly exhausted and irritable. This culminates in a fight with his mom after he catches her watching a documentary with Jennifer about the human reproductive system. He turns off the television, calls it smut, and says Jennifer should believe in the stork until she’s twelve. Oh boy, the Reagan Years.

Alex’s mother tells him that it isn’t his house and sperm-egg fertilization is science not smut. His mother decides to punish him by having him clean the house — which his speed-addled-heart loves. Come on parents, why so slow on the uptake???

Alex later tries to bribe Mallory for more pills, which doesn’t work. He then calls her friend directly. (On a cute little yellow touchtone phone. Oh man don’t you miss how fun landlines were???)

Mallory’s friend hooks Alex up with more pills (also off-screen). The next time we see him, he’s studying while painting his room bright blue at 3:30 am. This finally causes his father to realize something is up. He then discovers that Alex has only slept four hours total during the past week and finally realizes his kid is on drugs.

Alex tells his dad that he’s doing great on pills. (He isn’t. He started digging trenches for a sprinkler system nobody asked for in the backyard.) Alex’s father tells him that when he was younger he took speed too, which is why he can say that this is a horrible idea. He tells Alex that they both need to go to bed and will discuss this further in the morning. Alex falls asleep mid-lecture. He continues to sleep through his big test.

Waking up an hour late, he frantically tosses his room looking for more pills. It’s so poorly written but Michael J. Fox is so good. He’s really, really too good for this writing. Alex finally realizes he can’t stave off the inevitable crash and that his whole speed plan seriously backfired. We then end with Mallory reminding Alex of the details of his date with her friend — oh and another fat joke.

Very Special Lesson: Sleep is super, super important. Like SO important. It also just makes me sad when people abuse drugs for the purposes of studying. Like damn, I know our education system is broken but still. I suppose the one good thing about this episode is that even model-student goody-goody Alex P. Keaton is not immune to the cycle of addiction. But that’s about all this episode does well. Diet pills and supplements are often terrifying. And popular culture knew that when this episode was released–at least in terms of OTC pills. Allowing for the fact that doctor prescribed diet pills are largely a sign o’ the times in this episode, it’s a real shame that neither Alex nor his (formerly) hip-to-drugs father spare a moment for Mallory’s friend, who was taking those pills to impress people like Alex while most likely suffering the same side effects he found so debilitating. For all we know, she wasted several hours off-screen making him a shitty card, risking her life in an attempt to satisfy conventional beauty standards. But Alex was too busy insulting her, using her, and worrying about his grades to think about how she might be feeling.

On a lighter note–just a quick plug: I’ll be participating in the 3rd Annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon later this month. Stay tuned for my take on the CLASSIC film Her Alibi staring Tom Selleck and Mr. Feeney.

I Carried A Watermelon (and bought more pop culture make-up).

I do not know what it is about this quarantine, but I must have bright colors and I must have them now! I also must have lost my damn mind because I do not remember spending $38 on a palette. It’s a super cute palette, but I think I got caught up in the branding. I wear eyeshadow literally thrice a year.

Anyway, this palette is “Forever Baby” from Sola Look (the people who brought you the Grease palette). Okay yes, it’s all coming back to me now. They got me with the nostalgia. The packaging looks like an old school VHS tape. My #1 criticism is that there is no watermelon color, but further research tells me that this was included in a retired palette that I missed the boat on. In that case, my new #1 criticism is that they went with “heartbeat” instead of “hungry eyes” for an eye shadow color name. Come on! Otherwise, it’s perfect in every way.

Also bonus points for some truly 80’s colors in here. You could 100% recreate Joan Cusack’s working girl shadow with this.