Happy Days: Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve, Very Special Readers! I will keep things short today with this sweet little episode from Happy Days‘s first season.

Howard Cunningham has some VERY serious Christmas rules. No one can be in the house except for family and no one can start trimming the tree until he is ready. He freaks out when he thinks someone has tried to start decorating without him, but it turns out that it’s just a rogue sock from a laundry basket.

In a rare appearance, we see Chuck Cunningham as the sock’s owner. But it’s like they were already writing him out:

I forgot that Howard Cunningham owned a hardware store. He and Richie are at the store’s holiday party (where an employee is so drunk he literally passes out. Woah, Happy Days!) Sadly, Howard’s car breaks down on the way home. But on the bright side, Fonzie is still at the shop and can fix it for them. Fonzie won’t let him pay for the job since it’s Christmas. As they head home, Richie realizes he forgot to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench). He heads back to give Fonzie the gift and sees him eating Christmas dinner alone. Richie doesn’t want to embarrass Fonzie, so he turns back to the car without giving him the gift.

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Richie tries to tell his dad when he gets back in the car, but Howard is SOOO excited for family time that he doesn’t tell his dad about Fonzie until the get home. Howard is still reluctant because it’s “family time,” but he realizes what an ass he sounds like as he lectures his family on why they shouldn’t invite someone in to share their Christmas.

So Howard and Richie head over to Fonzie’s to invite him over. He tries to fake them out like he’s going to visit his cousin and is going to miss his bus. The whole thing is so pathetic. Howard ties to help Fonzie with his suitcase only to discover it is empty. And Fonzie dismisses the presumable emptiness of his suitcase by saying, “I travel light.”

Trying not to hurt Fonzie’s pride, Richie tell him that he just wishes he would wait to go to his cousin’s until in the morning because he really wants them to see their great Christmas tree. To which Fonzie replies, “I got a tree.” And it’s like the saddest tree this side of Peanuts.

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They’re so full of shit.
Earlier in the episode, we saw Fonzie give gifts to all of the waitresses at Arnold’s, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph. But no one had anything in return to give to Fonzie. (I guess we can assume that Richie picked something up at the hardware store receiving Fonzie’s gift at the diner.)

They finally get him to spend Christmas with them without insulting him, but telling him that they need him to fix the Santa on their lawn. It has some kind of electrical problem this year and it’s a very important tradition. By the time he has fixed Santa (and their Christmas tree lights), Fonzie has missed the last bus. So they’re all like well, guess you have to stay here. Ever prideful, Fonzie still resists. And then Howard “Family Time” Cunningham is like hey let me drive you!

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I mean Santa is legit broken though.
And then Fonzie (who obviously really wanted to stay) is like oh man, it’s  snowing too hard. It would be wrong for me to make you drive me. And then Marian is just like finally done with all this crap and she tells Fonzie that he is staying and that’s the end of it.

happydays3But the best part is when Howard lets Fonzie take over all of the Christmas traditions. Fonzie wants to do EVERYTHING and Howard gladly passes the baton. He realizes how fortunate he is to have such a lovely family and he’s finally happy to share that with someone outside of it.

And if you’re not in tears when Howard asks Fonzie to say grace and all Fonzie says is, “Hey God,” you’re literally the grinch. I’m like sobbing right now.

Very Special Holiday Lesson: I mean this is the same lesson as Sabrina‘s episode, but this one made me cry. Brb. Crying.

The Brady Bunch: The Voice of Christmas

f0a1754e462631d8d476b109fe8c03b0This is one of my FAVORITE Christmas episodes ever. I am SO glad you voted for it.

In this episode, Carol Brady comes down with laryngitis just before she is supposed to sing a solo at the church Christmas service. She’s been so busy getting ready for Christmas that she’s worn herself out. But being the great husband that he his, Mike tells her to follow the doctor’s orders and take it easy. It’s their “first family Christmas together” (awww) and he promises that he and the kids will take care of everything. Carol just needs to rest her voice and get some sleep before the service.

They try every remedy known to man, including a smelly home remedy from Alice’s grandmother, which consists of placing a towel soaked in a vinegar-solution around Carol’s neck. Nothing works.

When Mike takes the kids to finish their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, Cindy decides to ask the one person who can do something about this drug-resistant laryngitis. Santa Claus.

brady5They arrive to a very long line of children waiting to see the big man. Cindy insists that she can wait in the line by herself. Since he needs to exchange Carol’s gift (which would have been a poorly timed voice recorder), Mike let’s her wait alone. He arrives to pick her up just as an elated Cindy hops off of Santa’s lap.

Cindy runs up to Mike and let’s him know that Santa has promised to make sure Carol can sing at the Christmas service. It’s 1969 so television won’t let him say this, but Mike’s face clearly says, “Oh shit, as if I didn’t have enough to deal with right now. He tries to play it cool.

“Oh honey, how could he do that? He’s not a doctor,” he says.

“He’s better than a doctor. He’s Santa Claus,” says Mike.

Oh shit is right, Mike.

Mike goes “backstage” to the Santa break room and is like, “Dude what gives” (but like in 1969 Brady language.) Promising to give kids toys is one thing, but promising miracles is another. And the guy basically says he doesn’t want to disappoint her and just wanted to make her happy. So Mike’s like ughhhh I have to deal with THIS on Christmas morning.

But there are other things to deal with this Christmas Eve, like hiding presents. Since they’re Brady’s, they all rush around hiding presents for each other instead of just leaving them under the tree like normal people.
brady_bunch_a_lIn the middle of the night, the four eldest Brady kids meet downstairs and decide to postpone Christmas because Carol is sick. Alice finds them in the midst of their discussion and says they might as well return the presents, take down the tree, and throw away the turkey. But that might be A MAJOR BUMMER since their parents planned this whole freaking Christmas for them. And then they’re like okay, just kidding.

On Christmas morning, Carol wakes up humming “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” (Oh, of course she does). SHE CAN SING!!!! In honor of this beautiful talent that we lost this year (F.U. 2016) I’ll end with Florence Henderson singing one of my favorite Christmas hymns:

Happy Days: Haunted

arnoldsEvery year Ralph has a Halloween party and every year a gang called The Demons crashes it and destroy it. So this year he’s decided to have it at a creepy old house where The Demons will never find him. He sends Richie to check out the house and make sure that it is spooky enough for the party.

On his way home from taking Joanie to a “Chipmunks” meeting (which I guess is kind of like “Brownies”), Richie stops to check out the house. Joanie has heard plenty of stories about people getting their heads chopped off in that house, but she reluctantly follows Richie in when he refuses to leave her outside by herself. When a painting falls off of the wall above the mantel, Joanie flees to the porch. Alone in the house, Richie thinks he sees a headless body. He confides in his father when he gets home, but Howard tells him that it must be his mind playing tricks on him.

Uh okay. You don’t even want to maybe call the police? Just in case?

qk4epya8hwxbazsf9ggbckhifdoWhen the time comes for the party, Richard is all freaked out about a potential ghost. Dude, if you find a headless body in an abandoned house, you should be freaked out about a potential serial killer. But I guess the 1950’s were a more innocent time.

Richie and his date arrive at the party to find that they are the only ones there. And it is SPOOKY. But then Ralph pops out of a coffin and blows some bubble gum. Then the rest of the party pops out from behind some pocket doors.

a281Everything is fine until the lights go out later on in the night. But it’s just Ralph fooling around again. Richie calls him out on it and Ralph gets pretty pissed that Richie ruined his prank. So he goes over to talk to Potsie. He taps him on the shoulder mid-dance, so Potsie thinks he’s trying to cut-in. But Ralph just wants to talk, so Potsie tells his dance partner to go make him a sandwich. Literally. Ohhhh the 70’s/50’s.

Since they can’t just let their friend be happy dancing with his date, Potise and Ralph ask Richie to get some root beer from the closet–where of course they have rigged a headless dummy to freak him out. The whole party laughs at Richie, but when another headless figure descends the stairs and threatens to chop of their heads, they’re all legitimately frightened. Richie is the only one brave enough to confront the headless figure. And it turns out that it’s just The Demons! Ha-ha.

Very Special Halloween Lesson: Apparently, you can just spend a ton of money on a party in an abandoned house and that’s totally not considered trespassing. Also, it will probably be pretty clean and have electricity.

Sanford & Son: The Olympics

Feeling like you’re an old fart who will never achieve physical greatness since you didn’t start gymnastics at the age of 4 because it looked painful when your mom took you to observe a class in the church gym and thus by the time you realized that Dominique Moceanu’s 1996 floor routine was  your life’s goal it was already too late? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even better, there’s hope. All you have to do is make it to Senior citizenship.

But first, the greatest theme song of all time:

In an effort to emerge triumphant in a love triangle, Fred enters the Senior Olympics. He’s determined to best his romantic rival in the Decathlon. Grady acts as his coach, while his son Lamont is baffled that someone who cannot even go for a long walk is going to compete in a Decathlon. (See, hope for all of us.)
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Unfortunately, things don’t start off well. Fred cannot complete one push-up and he refuses to jump rope. I don’t think he’s missing out on too much training here though because Grady’s version of jumping rope is throwing the rope to the ground and stepping over it. They quickly move on to Discus, but they don’t have a discus so they have to use a hubcap. Fred does pretty well with the hubcap. I’d like to think I would too, but I know how poorly I do with a frisbee…

Next it’s time for the 50 yard sprint. I’m not sure how long it takes him because Grady forgets to time it, but Fred looks pretty worn out. Yet in true Olympian fashion, he must go on even when all the odds seem stacked against him. Even though his girlfriend tells him he doesn’t have anything to prove, Fred decides to compete.

And it all pays off. Fred sweeps the gold in every single category at the Senior Olympics. He’s also the only person who showed up to compete. But that’s beside the point! Fred’s rival drops by and they decide to arm wrestle for the goal. Fred wins but “sprains” his opponent’s arm in the process. This of course sets up a perfect Florence Nightingale situation and Fred is left alone yet again. Oh well buddy, can’t win em all.

Very Special Lesson: There’s always bobsledding.

Welcome Back, Kotter: What Goes Up

916qzrq-ppl-_sl1500_Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) is having a bad day. He appears to be going through opiate withdrawal. But he tells the rest of the “sweat hogs” that he’s just groggy because he’s taking some pills that the doctor gave him for a knee injury.

Then his friends find him in the bathroom taking pills out of his shoe. (They’re in a manila envelope, fyi. He’s not taking dirty-foot pills.) He claims they are vitamins that the doctor gave him to help with “grogginess.” Well, I think we all know what kind of vitamins these are.

Freddie is obviously high in class, so Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) decides to confront him about it. And let me just say, Gabe Kaplan is like the worst actor to attempt a dramatic scene. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is dancing in circles around Gabe Kaplan’s skills and they are so incredibly mis-matched that the whole scene is weirdly flat. He’s obviously incapable at helping Freddie, so the sweat hogs decide to take matters into their own hands.

23_midiTheir master plan is to pretend like they are all also on drugs. Interesting approach. For a bunch of inner city kids, they sure seem like they’ve never seen anyone on drugs before. Their bizarro drug imitation works on Freddie for about 5 seconds until he realizes that they’re just being weird. So when that didn’t work, Arnold decides to do some like weird acrobatics. He plans to jump from Mr. Kotter’s classroom window to the window across the courtyard.

And that’s when they realize that Arnold isn’t pretending to be on drugs. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS ARNOLD THOUGHT THAT FREDDIE WAS ACTUALLY TAKING VITAMINS. THIS IS THE EXACT PLOT OF FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR: JUST SAY YO.

Very Special Lesson: You guys, Fresh Prince totally ripped this off. Like is this plagiarism? Does the world already know about this?

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:

Happy Days: Richie Almost Dies

hqdefaultRichie decides to buy a motorcycle from Fonzie. I really can’t imagine Richie on a motorcycle at all. But fine, this is where the writers are taking us. His dad tries to prevent Richie from riding the bike until Fonzie promises that bikes are totally safe as long as Richie wears a helmet and leather or whatever. Now, what idiot seriously believed this even in the 50’s? I figured Howard might be a little more worldly since he’s the Grand Poobah of the Leopard Lodge, but I stand corrected.

Now that we’ve set this up so idealistically, it’s obvious that it will all end in tragedy. Richie and his girlfriend, Lori Beth, end up in a terrible motorcycle accident. This accident leaves Richie in a coma, from which the doctor isn’t sure he’ll ever wake up. (Good news, he was wearing his helmet.)

While the family sits around the living room and waits to see how things will turn out for Richie, Leather Tuscadero (singer/songwriter with a late 70’s mullet) regales us with a ballad on the family piano. And just in case this wasn’t schmaltzy enough, we get a soft-focused vignette montage of Richie doing random stuff from the past few seasons. Yikes, this show was so far past it’s prime at this point.

hqdefault1Late at night, Fonzie breaks into Richie’s room to talk to him. Fonzie (who is essentially a mystic/archangel at this point in the show) make a deal with God. And guess what? Richie wakes up!

I seriously feel like I just watched an episode of Touched by an Angel.

Very Special Lesson: If you’re going to live dangerously, make sure you live dangerously with the Fonz.

Eight is Enough: Never Try Eating Nectarines Since Juice May Dispense

eighttitleThis is the first time I’ve watched Eight is Enough, so I figured why not start with the pilot? The show is about a family with eight kids (hence the title). Within the first ten minutes of this pilot, one of the kids gets arrested in a drug bust. Her parents immediately hire a lawyer and try to get her a light sentence. But oldest son (played by Mark Hamill in the pilot) freaks out and says that hiring a lawyer and will make her look “bad” to her friends because they’ll think she ratted out her boyfriend (who incidentally was the one who the drugs belonged to anyway. Very special rule #42: the drugs never belong to the regular cast member).

You’d think that maybe the important part of this episode was the teen daughter whose boyfriend had a ton of narcotics on him and her subsequent felony arrest for “obstruction of justice.” But no, the main item of importance seems to be Mark Hamill’s disagreement with his father. He even decides it’s time to get his own apartment (triggered by this incident specifically).

4So all 7 of the other kids call a meeting to discuss Mark Hamill leaving the nest. Their dad gives this whole big speech about how he won’t apologize to Mark Hamill because he did nothing wrong. And the kids basically say they don’t really care one way or the other. The daughter who got arrested thinks her dad is doing the right thing by hiring a lawyer for her and not even providing one for her boyfriend (as Mark Hamill suggested) so it’s good to see she’s no idiot. But really, this whole meeting is about how the other 7 kids want Mark Hamill’s room. Vultures.

One of the kids, Mary, is part of a study on the waking cycle of bats. She wakes up super early to get to the lab and finds her mother in the kitchen. (Their father is so stressed out about Mark Hamill leaving the house that he’s grinding his teeth and keeping her awake.) They get to talking and Mary says that sometimes the kids at school make fun of her for being part of such a big family. And Mary’s mother tells her that about half of the kids were accidents.

Uh, what? What kind of conversation is this! Look, I’ve never been a parent but I feel like the Parenting 101 class probably tells you not to discuss the merits of hiring a criminal lawyer for one of your children with the rest of your children at-large. But even if that’s not the case, I’m pretty sure telling one of your children that she (and possible 50% of her siblings) are the result of unplanned pregnancies is at least a no-no.

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Just a couple of “teens”

Also, am I supposed to believe this woman is a high school student? I just looked her up on IMDB and she was 23 years old when this aired. Is this the original Dawson’s casting? So the just kind of leave that half of you were unplanned bit hanging and they don’t really resolve the felony arrest plot line either. But Mark Hamill and his dad do make up.

So..surprisingly this was NOT a very special episode. Whoops, my bad. In my defense, this series’s description sounded like a 1970s version of 7th Heaven. And I am super shocked that a teenager’s felony drug arrest was not grounds for some seriously high stakes lecturing.

Please join me tomorrow for the Letter “F” as I continue fumbling my way through Blogging from A to Z.

 

The Brady Bunch: The Un-Underground Movie

Greg is making a movie about the Pilgrims for his history class. Pretty soon all of the adults in his house take over writing the screenplay. Greg’s pretty pissed about it and I guess fails to see that he’s getting away with not doing his homework and also not getting in trouble.

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It’s only a matter of time before the entire production is out of Greg’s hand. Carol wants to dress all of the girls in color because of the color film, even though Greg insists that pilgrims only wore black and white. All of his sisters demand the same part and say they won’t be in the movie unless they’re cast as the lead “Priscilla.” Bobby and Peter are pissed that they’re forced to play pilgrims, when they would much rather play racially stereotyped braves.

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Greg kind of freaks out but like in a really Brady-fashion. And his awesome parents are completely understanding. They’re not even mad that he got mad because they realize they were being jerks. This concludes our instructional video on how to have a healthy fight with your family.

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Also, Greg casts Jan as the lead just like he always wanted to. (Ha, Marcia.) Then Mike has to explain to Peter and Bobby that the pilgrims stole all of the Indians land and you can tell he feels a little awkward about it. It’s 1970 now so things are about to start getting really guilty for the white folks.

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Anyway, they finally get the movie done and Greg puts everything in slow-motion. So it’s basically a pantomime. And it’s basically the greatest film ever made, as far as I’m concerned. Like Florence Henderson really missed her calling at a 1920’s dramatic actress.

Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Don’t boss your kid around, but do let him boss the rest of the family around.