First, a quick recap of Growing Pains: Mike sells Jason and Maggie a bad tour package. Maggie gets appendicitis and can’t do anything the whole trip, but Jason has a chef (from the restaurant where he proposed) cater a special dinner in her hospital room. Mike traipses about Barcelona with a girl that he does not get along with and then they fall in love.
Now on to Taxi: Elaine has four weeks away from her kids for the summer, so she convinces Alex to go to Europe with her. On the plane, Alex offends everyone while Elaine makes friends with a cute guitarist. Life in first class was nice in the 70’s because everyone finds it very endearing when Elaine and the cute guy start singing Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” It’s loud and not exactly in tune. Thankfully, after the commercial break, we even get to hear the original version. Point to Taxi on this one. In Europe, Elaine continues to have a lovely time whereas Alex is lonely and miserable. The most exciting thing that happens to Alex is halfway through the episode. He’s playing a game of darts and accidentally hitting a fellow patron instead of the dart board. Did I mention he’s having a terrible trip? Alex gets increasingly depressed but won’t ask Elaine for help. He does finally get a date with a model, but she ditches him as soon as she finds out he’s a taxi driver. One night, Elaine finds a post card that Alex plans to mail to her address in New York. It says, “Dear Elaine, the time we spent writing post cards together was the best part of my trip.” Alex and Elaine decide to sleep together and the episode ends.
Integration of European Setting: This goes to Growing Pains for at least appearing to shoot on location. But the scenic countryside could be Napa for all I know. Taxi very clearly used sound stages and establishing shots.
Vacation Attire: Taxi. No contest. Alex was sad but he always had on a nice suite and Elaine was disco ready at every turn.
Music: Billy Joel wins this point for Taxi.
Overall Plot: Here’s where things get tricky. Taxi is leaps and bounds better than Growing Pains, but this was a weak episode overall. Alex and Elaine aren’t as great without their ensemble cast. And while this was certainly a very realistic depiction of loneliness, Alex and Elaine barely share a scene for the entire episode. Over at Growing Pains, the make romance plot is pretty dumb and un-inspiring but the Maggie/Jason appendicitis plot seems very legit and also a realistic depiction of travel gone-wrong. Plus the episode was just a bit more entertaining overall. I’m giving this point to Growing Pains.
Growing Pains: Integration of European Setting + Overall Plot = 3 point
Taxi: Music + Vacation Attire = 2 points
Next Week on The Very Special Blog: Family Matters vs. Sabrina Goes to Rome