Saturday Spotlight: Contains Small Parts

Like a children’s board game, this week the blog was full of tiny pieces that probably should not be consumed by children under the age of 4 – both the real tiny pieces of games like Mall Madness (which would make a great movie), or of crustacians like our buddy Marcel The Shell… and just, you know, little bits of writing. Enjoy! Don’t choke.

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The Big Screen Pitch: 90s Board Games

Because apparently movie makers can’t come up with original ideas anymore, there is a live-action film based on the board game Ouija that is coming out today.

In the movie version of the game, a group of teens try to contact their dead friend but have to confront their “most evil and demonic fears” when they dark powers of the Ouija board come to life. That’s the real plot. Of course the concept of taking a board game and making it into a movie is nothing new, with the likes of Clue and Battleship before it, but I feel like it hasn’t been until recently that producers are looking to kids for ideas. I mean look at Transformers and The Lego Movie, which were blockbuster hits. There must be other board game movies in the works, but until those come out, here are a few suggestions from iconic 90s games that should head to big screen.

13 Dead End Drive

Pitch: Aunt Agatha, the matriarch of a rich family in the Hamptons, with a similar demeanor to the Dowager Countess of Grantham, dies at the age of 110, much to the delight of her greedy family. They fight over her estate and assets over the course of a weekend in her Long Island mansion, but her offspring are each secretly trying to kill each other in order to get the most money out of her will. Keep your eyes out for that sneaky cat that might actually trump the humans in the game of trickery.

Mall Madness

Pitch: Set in the 1990s in Minnesota, twin sisters are given a credit card to spend any way they want in the Mall of America for their birthday. But when their parents set them loose, they go a little crazy with their spending habits, running around the mall from store to store swiping the card willy nilly, despite their parents telling them to only spend $150 each. In the process, they witness a man stealing from the local Foot Locker and spend the rest of their day trying to catch him. It’s a big screen version of The Adventures of Mary Kate and Ashley: The Case of the Mall Marauder.

Dream Phone

Pitch: Jennifer, Kaci and Veronica are having their monthly sleepover and decided to prank call a bunch of cute guys from their school. But when they misdial a number, they end up talking to a man who isn’t as friendly as he sounds and they spend the rest of the night trying to avoid his calls – and his unwanted visits to their house.

Don’t Wake Daddy

 

Pitch: The girl who plays Lily on Modern Family and the kid who plays Cory and Topanga’s son on Girl Meets World are siblings who secretly stay up to play a game that’s like Rock Paper Scissors and Russian Roulette late at night and whoever loses each round has to go into their parents’ room and play some sort of prank of their dad – without waking him up. Luckily he’s a narcoleptic so it’s easier done than said.

Pretty Pretty Princess

Pitch: Set in Renaissance-era France, this movie is a coming-of-age story about a young group of boys sneak into one of their dutchess mom’s rooms to try on her clothes and jewelry and one of them secretly likes dressing up in women’s attire more than the others.

Perfection

Pitch: Mary Anne is a high school junior who has always been a perfectionist and at the head of her class. Lately, college tours, application essays, the SATs and the regular grind of school have been making her go a little crazy, so she keeps having odd recurring dreams. The main one involves her trapped in a labyrinth where the main goal is to put huge shapes into their proper corresponding holes before a giant buzzer goes off and she’s ejected from the game and has to start all over again. Starring Ed Begley Jr. as the Games Master.

Splat!

Pitch: A modern tale of a twenty-something Brooklynite who already trouble balancing her job at the local coffee shop and her dog walking job, and the fact that she’s in a long distance relationship with a boy from New Jersey. It only gets worse when she gets bed bugs.

Ask Zandar

Pitch: Zack and Elisa find an old board game in his mom’s attic, and it contains a weird fortune-telling wizard as the main component. Zack is the ever cynical one of the BFFs, but Elisa knows there’s something more to the crystal ball than they think. They end up seeing parts of their future that they like, but a lot they wish they had never seen at all.

Girl Talk

Photo May 25, 9 28 57 PM

 Pitch: Three high school girls stay up all night talking about boys, school, playing MASH and eating Halloween candy, but what they don’t know is that someone is following their every move and recording everything they say. The next day at school, their secrets are exposed and it’s up to the trio to find out who is out to get them.

*Yes, that is me and my two friends from high school, because we were really cool back then.

Gator Golf

Pitch: A group of friends decide to spend their Saturday night at the local mini golf place after plans for a pizza party fall through. At the final hole, they assume the ball goes through the giant gator and down to the golf clubhouse, but one brave soul figures out that by going into the gator’s cave-like mouth, there is a tunnel of secrets underneath the seedy underbelly of the mini-golf course that the owner never wanted exposed.

 

Reasons I Failed To Successfully Live Blog “Twitches”

It’s October, and around here, October means live blogging low-budget children’s Halloween movies. Or, usually it does. For the following reasons, I sat down to live blog Twitches, a DCOM (that’s a Disney Channel Original Movie for you adult-acting grownups out there) starring Tia and Tamera Mowry as teenaged twin witches, but just could not finish the job:

1. I Didn’t Know There Would Be Tia And Tamera

Look, I’m not the best at vetting crappy tween movies before I watch them. And by “not the best,” I mean the actual worst. As in, when we went to From Justin To Kelly circa 2003, I didn’t realize that it would be a full musical.

idiot.

It’s been a decade, but I still can’t believe that that was a theatrical release. It wouldn’t even have made a good TV movie. It seems like something the counselors would write for the show at the end of summer camp, but at like a decidedly non-performing-arts-y summer camp.

Anyway, I didn’t know that the Mowry twins would be in this, and I spent the first 10 minutes or so trying to see if I could decide which was which. Disney gave one straight hair and one curly hair, which was nice, and their genetic code gave one a mole and one no mole, which is even nicer, but still.

I Googled it later, by the way. Tamera. Tamera has the mole. Tamera is also the reason that I spent my entire childhood mispronouncing the name “Tamara.”

2. Then, I got ticked because they couldn’t even find a new way for Tia and Tamera to meet each other

Please, don’t think I’m the kind of person who hates Tia and Tamera Mowry. I did watch Sister, Sister. I’m not a monster.  And I clearly remember the two girls meeting while trying on clothes in a department store. And it happened again here! Come on, Disney. Give the gals something else to work with. Even Lindsay Lohan got to meet her twin at summer camp. Heck, I met my long-lost lookalike cousin at a family reunion. There’s more than one way to find out you have a double out there. Orphan Black has found like 10 ways. Lazy.

If you didn’t have that hat, you were nothing.

3. The Outfits Were Too… Too

I didn’t see this movie when it first came out. It’s not that I was watching highbrow television in 2005. I hadn’t even grown out of children’s entertainment about twins:  I remember watching an old Mary Kate And Ashley dance party VHS while pregaming to go out around that time.  I just missed this one. While it’s tempting to feel like 2005 was mere moments ago, it was almost a decade in the past and we don’t dress like this anymore:

Although, did anyone dress like that, ever?

The mid-2000s fashions were too much for me. But the Disney Channel had its own sparkly, sequiny velour-ful take on 2005 style that is frankly an assault on both the eyeballs and good taste.

4. Everyone In This Movie  Is Too Accepting Of Magic, Secret Twins, Etc.

It’s a children’s Halloween movie, and I can suspend disbelief. But would it be too much to have the characters be a little shocked to find that they’re secret twins with special powers? Harry Potter was like “WTF is this owl about” and even that girl from Halloweentown was a little confused. I’m just asking for 2 minutes of incredulity.

APPROPRIATE REACTION —>

5. What Sort Of 21st Birthday Is That??

I guess finding your secret twin could derail your plans, but whose 21st birthday was that tame? I can’t remember mine all the way but I’m sure it was more fun than that. In all fairness they did talk about a party that the rich Mowry was going to have (Tiamera? Tameria?) but I quit by that point.

6. Wait. Who Are Those Adults?

While I was taking notes on the outfits, this guy Karsh starts showing up. He’s magic and looks like the human version of a fancy dog. And he brought his bestie Ileana, a woman with flipped-out hair who dresses like Tara from Buffy. They’re boring.

7. Sudafed Sleep

Yesterday I took Sudafed for some sinus stuff, and I was awake every half hour that night. I was at least interested in what my sleep graph would look like on my Fitbit… but my sleep was so restless that I had ripped it from my person and flung it onto a faraway throw pillow at some point in the night.

So by the time Twitches aired, my Sudafed-speed-meth energy had worn out and I was just a tired lady with congested nasal passages.

8. Frankly, I Just Didn’t Get That Into It

After 45 minutes or so, I completely gave up. It didn’t have the 90s nostalgia value, or the all-star cast, of Hocus Pocus. It didn’t have the low-budget childish silliness of Halloweentown. It was starring grown adults, which seems a bit weird for a Disney movie.

I really did sort-of try to live blog Twitches. But you know what they say about trying: it’s the number one cause of failure.

I Think I Owe Pink An Apology

When Pink first came on the pop music scene in 2000 with her debut single, There You Go, it was in the middle of the TRL era, where it seemed like anyone who made the top 10 countdown could easily have a number one hit then go away the very next day (Sisqo, where are you?). Of course Pink went on to record hit songs like Most Girls (yesss that jam), and Lady Marmalade, which won her her first Grammy. Then there was the ‘I love Carey Hart’ then ‘I hate Carey Hart’ and finally ‘I love Carey Hart forever and we have a kid together’ phases of her life that brought her even more hits. Honestly, she hasn’t made a wrong turn anywhere musically over the past nearly 15 years. With over 40 million albums and 65 million singles sold worldwide, she’s a bonafide pop star.

As an admittedly shameless pop music fan, I appreciate Pink. I like her music. I know all the words to her songs that I subconsciously picked up along the way. I’ve sat in awe of her live performances. I mean to this day I still think this one of her hit Try from the 2012 American Music Awards is one of the best ever. She’s an amazing performer, an unparalleled singer, yet I’ve never owned any of her albums or singles or purposely seen in her concert. But why? Everything about her on paper makes her the perfect pop star, yet I’d rather pay to see Beyonce or the Backstreet Boys or even Britney Spears before her.

And I think I’ve finally figured it out. She’s normal. She’s a regular human being or just extraordinary talent and can churn out hits like no one’s business. With Bey, it’s like she’s some kind of immortal goddess that is unreal. BSB will always and forever be my number one teen idols. Britney is – well, we all lived through the Brit Brit disaster of 2007, so we know there’s that. But Pink is like the girl who lived down the street from you when you were growing up (Alecia, you called her back then), and you’re just happy for her success.

With Pink’s latest project, a duo called You+Me with Dallas Green from City and Colour, she turns to a folk side of her, a calmer, less flashy side that maybe most of us (definitely me) hadn’t seen before. And I can’t believe it took me this long to realize it, but she’s a true artist. In the back of my mind, Pink has always been that brightly colored hair girl from the TRL days who is just a “pop star” that makes number one songs. I always knew she had a phenomenal voice, but I guess I never thought that if she used it in a different genre, it could change my perception of her completely.

You+Me’s album, rose ave., came out last week and is the perfect record if you’re driving down the highway for a road trip or want to listen to something relaxing while you bake pumpkin pie and sit by the crackling fire. The best thing I can compare it to is The Civil Wars, and that is obviously a welcomed addition to the music world since those two decided to officially call it quits.

Apparently the two of them have been friends for a while, and Alecia had been hounding Dallas to do a record with her, and he finally acquiesced. The result is a perfect blend of their voices – it’s like they had meant to be singing together all along. Both Alecia and Dallas bring that passion and longing in their tone to each track, making you feel like you’re a part of whatever heartbreaking or romantic situation or feeling of belonging they’re describing. Any good harmony can bring me to tears and if we’re being real, I’ve shed a few while listening to their incredible harmonies on this album.

With this new You+Me era Pink is entering, I feel like I owe her an apology. I’m sorry I never appreciated her for her true talents. I saw her flying up above all those celebs doing aerial stuff at the Grammys but I guess I only saw it for a big production number. I’m only seeing now how you’re using those same talents and putting them in a different vessel and it’s completely putting you under a different light. Pink deserves more than we currently give her and maybe we can start here. Just You+Me.

Stream You+Me’s rose ave. on Spotify (and thank me later)

Tiny Crush Tuesday: Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

I think everyone knows what it’s like to feel tiny. Maybe, like me, you waited around for a late high school growth spurt, only to find it leaving you at 5’2 (if they invent time travel, please tell my nine-year-old self that she can shelve that copy of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret for another decade or so, and also that those exercises don’t work). Even if you aren’t physically small, you’ve probably been the least-accomplished person in your grad school classes, or the new guy at work. If you’ve always felt both full-sized and adequate, that’s very nice but you can stop reading and go back to self-actualizing and exceeding expectations and knowing what’s on the top shelf of your cupboard; we’re done here.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a big star – the focus of three YouTube videos and two books –  who knows a thing or two about being tiny. The Marcel videos have garnered millions of YouTube views; the third video, posted yesterday, is edging up on a million hits already. A big factor in his success is that while most of us are not sneaker-wearing mollusks, we all know what it’s like to feel small. I mean, except for those large, successful people who we dismissed in the first paragraph. But that little shell is so self-assured and confident, and doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry that he can’t nibble on cheese without experiencing a cholesterol event, or that his sister Marissa took an ill-fated journey on a balloon.

Sure, Marcel has a few setbacks. He has to deal with the idiots of the sea (shrimps), wishes he had a dog (although lint is a shell’s best friend), and longs for a nickname (don’t we all? I finally got one in college, but it was Smalls, and I tried telling everyone that it was stupid, but I don’t think they could hear me because my tiny voice died out before it floated up to their ears). And he fears his household Bichon, who, like so many Bichons before him, has a distinctive face-smell and only cares about snoozin’ and treats. But Marcel handles everything in a matter-of-fact way, with these little bursts of confidence. It reminds you that moments of tininess are a part of the human experience (and shell experience as well?)  that you can acknowledge without shame, because everyone’s been there. Except those buffoons from paragraph one.

But while adults feel small some of the time, children feel small all of the time. Do you have children in your family? You can’t buy their love, but you also don’t need to. The three Marcel shorts are free on YouTube. Marcel is my nieces’ and nephews’ favorite thing ever. I know you aren’t supposed to get small children to calm down by sticking them in front of a screen, but frankly they aren’t my children and these videos work better than anything else I’ve tried. Marcel videos have defused so many grumpy kid moments, and garnered me so much Fun Aunt status, that I think I owe Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp some kind of Edible Arrangement or cookie bouquet. And for Marcel, a single cherry cordial that he could work his way through over the course of several holiday seasons.

Even better, if you know children or were one once, Marcel is the star of two fantastic children’s books. The first, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me, has the nephew seal of approval: I bought it for Hank’s fourth birthday in July and he’s nearly worn it out. The second, The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been, hits bookstores today. The first book, at least, is also available as an audiobook if your Marcel voice isn’t up to par. As I start to realize that my favorite childhood books were about self-important jerks like Amy March and creepy church hags like Marilla Cuthbert, it always feels nice when you find picturebooks that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Weirdly specific selling point: Things About Me is hand-lettered in a spidery curlicue script. This means that you get to read the book out loud to kids who are independent readers but haven’t learned cursive yet. After kids learn to read there are fewer and fewer chances to read aloud to them, but it’s good for them. And for you: makes you feel big, makes them feel small, which – Marcel would tell you – isn’t so bad.

Man Crush Monday: John Krasinski

I think it’s only appropriate that today’s Man Crush Monday goes out to one of the loves of my life, John Krasinski – this, on the day of his 35th birthday.

You probably know John as the only sane guy working at Dunder Mifflin in The Office. You may also know him as Emily Blunt’s husband, Hazel Krasinski’s father, or the dude who does the voiceovers for Esurance. To me, he is one of those people that always ends up on the short list of my ‘celebrity crushes’ (I definitely don’t have that written down somewhere) because of his charm, wit, and acting abilities. So to celebrate the anniversary of his birth, let’s go over just a few of the reasons why JKras is my Man Crush for this Monday and all Mondays to come.

He’s a Boston Boy

John was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, which is right on the outskirts of Boston. Being that Boston is like a second home to me, I feel like we have a connection – especially since he is proudly wearing all that Celtics/Red Sox garb making him even hotter. Also I have friends who are from Newtown and we may or may not have found out where he grew up/his parents’ house is and may or may not have done a drive by. It’s fine. Not at all creepy.

He’s An Ivy League Grad

While attending Newton South High School, John starred a play (which The Office co-star BJ Novak wrote) but it didn’t really make him want to become an actor. He was accepted to Brown University but was put on the wait list so decided to go to Costa Rica to teach English before heading off to college for the second semester. While at Brown, he helped coach a local youth basketball team. I mean smart and philanthropic? Are you real? So he went in as an English major and didn’t get the real acting bug until he was part of a staged reading for David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, which, full circle, he adapted for film and starred in directed in it in 2009. It was during that reading that he realized he could use his talents to become an actor and writer. He ended up graduated from Brown with honors in English as a playwright.

He’s Charming As All Hell

Salesman Jim Halpert was a charming motherfucker who was just too good to ever stay at Dunder Mifflin, but it all worked out since he got the girl in the end. But that charm and wit is not just Jim Halpert – it comes from John Krasinski. It’s hard to see anyone else in that role because JKras made it what it was. In fact I think both Adam Scott and John Cho were up for the role, so can you imagine how much more different Jim would be if they were cast. If you’ve seen any of his TV interviews, you know how personable he is, and this video is just one example. If you listen closely, you can hear women all over the world droppin their panties during the vid.

He Was Meant To Be Jim Halpert

After he decided to be an actor, John moved to New York City in hopes of being living the dream – being paid to act. He was waiting tables and not really getting any work and got to the point where he was ready to give up. He said he would go on one more audition, and if it didn’t work, it would be a sign that he needed to pick a new career path. That audition was for The Office and the rest is history. John has said that the show has changed his life in more ways than one, not only with all the professional success in his life, but if he had never moved out to Los Angeles to shoot the show, and if the show never took off the way it did, he would have never been able to meet his wife, the lovely Emily Blunt. He was meant to be Jim Halpert, just like Jenna Fischer was meant to be his Pam. <3 <3 OTP <3 <3

He’s the Most Adorable When He Breaks

With all the hilarious material the folks at The Office were given, it’s nearly impossible to not laugh during a scene. This is evident in all the bloopers from the nine seasons of the show, which I admittedly have watched way too many times. While John is a tall drink of a man, when he breaks, he kind of turns into a giggly little girl. It’s totes adorbs.

He Is Great At Physical Comedy

John wasn’t given a lot of physical comedy during The Office, but if you want to see his lanky self do some hilarious bits, watch License to Wed or Leatherheads. Or just watch him doing this amazing marionette bit over and over and over again.

He Is Great At Drama, Too

Because he’s most known for his role on The Office, people don’t automatically think of him as a dramatic actor. But that will change if you see him in one of my personal favorite movies, Away We Go. I originally saw this movie strictly for him, but I was delightfully surprised to see that it was actually a wonderful film. Plus you can’t go wrong when you share the screen with Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney and Chris Messina.

He Has The Greatest Wife

When your celebrity crush gets married, the only thing that will cure your shattered (delusional) dreams is if the person they’re marrying is equally as awesome. Luckily, John married the equally awesome Emily Blunt who is devastatingly beautiful and talented and funny. And when they’re together, it’s even better. Have you checked out their Ice Bucket Challenges?!

He’s The Greatest Dad

LIKE, CAN U NOT, KRASINSKIS? CAN U ACTUALLY NOT.

He Wins All The Lip Sync Battles


I AM NOT STOPPING WITH THE CAPS LOCK BECAUSE I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. YOU MAY HAVE SEEN EMMA STONE AND JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT CHALLENGE JIMMY FALLON IN A LIP SYNC BATTLE, BUT THE PERSON WHO STARTED IT ALL WAS JOHN KRASINSKI. AND WHEN THEY DID THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME I’M PRETTY SURE I LIT’RALLY SWOONED. I STILL SWOON. MAKE SURE YOU’RE SITTING DOWN BEFORE YOU WATCH THIS.

ICYMI: 90s TV Nostalgia to the Max

BYE 4EVR SATURDAY CARTOONS!!! Jk I’m not actually that upset about it because I spent my mornings as a youth watching Hang Time instead.

Alternative Saturday Morning Programming of the 90s

Last week, we talked about how Saturday morning cartoons have effectively come to an end. CW was the final network hold out, but on Saturday, September 27th, they aired the last remaining cartoon block, ending a continuous animated run that lasted over 50 years. 50 years!! You can blame live-action shows, reality programs and the fact that people’s TV habits have changed, but in its place, networks have opted to show educational series aimed at teenagers.

If you ask me, I think it’s a good idea. Not only is it a good move to try to lure teens in with informative shows as opposed to whatever they’re showing on MTV these days, but because I, for one, was never really into cartoons. Sure, I watched Rugrats. I enjoyed Doug and Recess, but I never sought out cartoons. Then again, I was the girl who was watching The Real World: London when I was 9, so I mean, that explains a lot about me in the present.

That’s not to say I never watched TV on Saturday mornings – it’s just that I opted for other shows instead. If you switched channels between TMNT and The Smurfs and TNBC, you might recognize some of the following programs I was watching while the rest of y’all were staring at the animated folk.

California Dreams

California Dreams is like the SBTB spin-off that should’ve been. Like if SBTB’s Hot Sundae took and and toured with the California Dreams, that would’ve been perfect. California Dreams was an slight alternative to SBTB, but you know, in a different part of The Golden State. The show was originally intended to be a family sitcom, focusing on the Garrison family, and the two kids, Matt & Jenny who were in a band. However the show was rebooted in season 2, and focused on the teens in said band instead, and it was a much “better” show after that. It surprisingly lasted for five seasons, and in 2010, Jimmy Fallon managed to get the band back together for a reunion on Late Night. Oh Sly.

Hang Time

Please note that all these videos are for the theme songs to the shows, because for some reason, all these songs are still trapped in my brain after all these years. Also trapped in my brain: the fact that this show took place in Deering, Indiana. While I was never much of a sports fan, I appreciated that this show featured a girl on an all-boys basketball team and still had those elements of a teen sitcom. In addition, sometimes when I hear the name Anthony Anderson, to this day, I still associate him with this show.

City Guys

C-I-T-Y YOU CAN SEE WHY. I’m telling you – these songs were pretty damn catchy. SBTB:TNC, Hang Time and City Guys were all part of the TNBC Saturday Morning lineup that is forever etched in my brain. Now that TNBC had covered its bases in California and Middle of Nowhere, America, they came full circle and had a new show set in New York City. Teaching kids that we live in a diverse world, the show centered on a white kid from a wealthy family and a black kid from a working class family and how they can be friends, and sometimes enemies, in school.


 

Are you still missing cartoons or any of the shows I just mentioned because you got hit hard with the nostalgia stick? Well luckily there are current shows that will fill that void for you.

90s Nickelodeon Shows – And Today’s Adult Equivalents

Buzzfeed, Tumblr, and your Facebook friends won’t let you forget it, and neither will we: 90s kids are adults now, and we’re all still really, really passionate about the 90s. Can you blame us? The 90s were a great time for kids’ culture. With so many Baby Boomers having children from the late 70s to the mid-90s, there were a lot of us growing up then. The economy hadn’t tanked yet, and 911 was still just an emergency phone number. Nickelodeon was at the forefront of it all, promoting a “pro-kid” culture and presenting kids as cooler and smarter than adults. If people want to blame Millenials for forming a mass internet-culture that older folks can’t penetrate, it all started with Nickelodeon and its ‘us against them’ attitudes.

Today’s TV networks aren’t stupid. They know what Millenials want. That’s why, for every beloved Nickelodeon show from our youth, there is an adult equivalent on the air right now:

Are You Afraid Of The Dark = American Horror Story

Are You Afraid Of The Dark: From the second you heard those creaky swings and eerie theme music, you knew you were in for a scare. The midnight society gathered every week to tell stories and throw some sort of weird sand into a camp fire, and we were right there with them. I watched every week as a five-year-old, even turning off the lights for an extra scare. We liked this show because it didn’t underestimate kids. There were real ghosts, vampires, and murders in Are You Afraid of the Dark – it wasn’t that weak-sauce kid stuff where the creaking in the attic was just a leaky pipe, or the ‘ghost’ was just a beekeeper in a bonnet (I’m looking at you, The Adventures Of Mary Kate And Ashley). If you didn’t love the story one week, you’d just wait until the next Saturday when you’d get a whole new plotline to scare the pants off of you and make you ask your mom if she will let you sleep with the hall light on. That’s right – a children’s horror anthology series. Can you really blame us for missing the 90s?

American Horror Story: Like Are You Afraid Of The Dark, American Horror Story is a spooky anthology. However, to account for adult attention spans, each season tells a different story, instead of each episode. This show touches on all aspects of the horror film genre – psycho killers, ghosts, aliens, nuns, evil doctors, Anne Frank, witches, a pinhead, The Black Dahlia … it’s like a winning hand of Apples To Apples.

An aside: I just finished watching Season 2 of AHS. Somebody told me to start with that one because Coven isn’t on Netflix yet, and Season 1 would scare me more. Now that I’m done, I have to wonder – if Asylum was this freaky, what the hell could possibly happen in Murder House? Don’t worry, I’m starting it this week, because I’m an adult now and I’m in charge of my own hall light.

Clarissa Explains It All = Girls + The New Girl

Clarissa Explains It All:A young woman with ambitions of being a journalist lives in a cooler bedroom than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings-out with her brother Ferguson, and the undying support of her buddy Sam. She dresses like a cool hobo. Lots of tights. Clarissa has a creative solution to every problem and gets into a lot of scrapes because she sort of doesn’t think everything through.

Girls: A young woman with ambitions of being a writer lives in a cooler apartment than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings out with her friends, yet somehow retains their constant support. She dresses like a cool hobo.

The New Girl:  It’s almost like Jess Day and Hannah Horvath are two different versions of how Clarissa could have turned out. Jess and Clarissa have a lot in common. The first word you’d use to describe them is “quirky.” They have wacky clothes. They have a cool home. And – unlike Hannah Horvath – they both have fun, sunny attitudes toward life. So, if Clarissa went to college, became an el-ed major, and held onto her obsession with tights, you have Jess. If Clarissa decided to become a hipster in college, started writing for the school literary mag and reading a lot of McSweeney’s, and went to slightly seedier college parties, she graduated and became Hannah.

Salute Your Shorts = Community

Salute Your Shorts: A group of teens are thrown together for summer camp, and form all of the bonds and rivalries that you’d expect in that kind of close situation. They work both with and against the camp’s administration (counselor Ugg) and truly become a community of their own. There are even themed genre episodes – Zeke The Plumber, everyone? The characters are surprisingly well-developed for a kids’ show, with the jock, nerd, and popular girl presented as being complex people instead of just stereotypes.

Community: A group of adults are thrown together in community college, and through forming a study group, they become a… well, community of their own as well. Like in Salute Your Shorts, there is a love for Greendale Community College, but just like the kids at Camp Anawanna, they also have to work against it sometimes. I don’t think I even need to tell you about the genre episodes. Character development is a big deal on this show, too, and the former athlete and the brainy liberal arts girl aren’t just two-dimensional.

Hey Dude = Brooklyn Nine Nine

Hey Dude: Somehow, a bunch of teenagers are working at a Dude Ranch, because… why not, I suppose? It filled pretty much the exact same niche as Salute Your Shorts, except these kids had JOBS and RESPONSIBILITIES and HORSES. Never underestimate the pull of horses for tween girl viewers.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: This is one sitcom you should be watching if you aren’t already. Equal parts buddy cop (with multiple pairs of cop-buddies), workplace comedy, police procedural (er… kind of) – but with really clever writing an an awesome cast. Like Hey Dude, this is a funny ensemble show that actually shows people doing their jobs. Every kid who grew up watching Salute Your Shorts thinking “ugh, somebody get those irresponsible kids some stalls to muck or cows to lasso” should watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, a workplace show where people actually work.

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete =  Parks And Recreation

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete: This show is probably the reason our generation has been into quirky indie comedies since we were in high school. This small-town sitcom is a bit absurd, and centers around two brothers named – you guessed it – Pete and Pete. The show was so matter-of-fact about the weird goings-on of the town that the place became a character unto itself, and the audience accepted all of its weird quirks at face value.

Fun Fact: The Wellsville of Pete and Pete is apparently supposed to be Wellsville, NY. I live about 100 miles from there and have passed through on plenty of trips, and honestly, apart from an annual Balloon Rally it’s not that interesting.

Parks and Recreation: If you grew up loving slightly offbeat comedies about life in a more-than-slightly-offbeat town, you may as well watch Parks as an adult. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of this show around here, but we’ve never stopped to consider that our childhood watching Pete and Pete primed us for this small-town comedy about a group of unusual personalities. Like our favorite redheaded brothers, the folks in Pawnee face situations that are a touch more surreal than you’d see in real life, but the show somehow manages to be more true-to-life than a lot of more ‘realistic’ comedies.

The Secret World Of Alex Mack = Orphan Black

The Secret World Of Alex Mack:How good was this show? So good, right? Alex Mack was a junior high student who was hit with a truck from a chemical plant, and she developed special powers like being able into morph into a puddle of what looked like mercury, moving objects with her mind, and conducting some sort of electrical charge. Alex, with the (sometimes grudging) help of her brainy sister Annie, had to keep her powers on the down low so the folks at the chemical plant wouldn’t find out about her and … well, I’m not sure if we knew what they would do. Experiments, probably.

Orphan Black:  Here’s another show about a young ladies who are scientific freaks because of circumstances beyond their control (they’re clones). Once again, they have to escape the clutches of the sketchy Dyad Institute, and creepy Dr. Leekie, who are already collecting samples and monitoring the clones against their will. Like Alex Mack, Orphan Black deals with the ethics of scientific progress. No, really –  a major issue ahead is going to be the copyright of human DNA.

Space Cases = Battlestar Gallactica

Space Cases: It’s hard, guys. It’s hard walking around under the burden of being the only person alive who remembers the show Space Cases. It was a short-lived children’s sci-fi show set in space. I think this one is due for a re-watch, if only to revel in the low-budget 90s-ness of it all. Some of the props were evidently things like CDs glued together, and the game Lights Out pasted to the wall. See, things like this are why the Montreal TV industry – and children’s cable sci fi shows – never really took off.

Battlestar Gallactica – I’m positive that this is a sci-fi show with space ships, the future, and I’m pretty sure aliens. Okay, you caught me. I’ve never seen it. But there haven’t been too many outer space-based sci fi shows in recent years, and this is the closest one I could find in the near past. I suppose Stargate Atlantis is another option.

Noozles = Doctor Who

Noozles: According to Wikipedia, this show is 1000% more confusing and screwed-up than I remember it being. But basically, it’s like this: Noozles were adorable koala bears, but only certain people could know that they were actually aliens!

Doctor Who: Doctor Who is an adorable British man, but only certain people can know that he’s actually an alien!

The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo = Scandal

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo: Shelby Woo was a ridiculously talented teen who, with the help of a mid-90s PC and her crew of friends, solved mysteries and fought crime. As a mere teenager, Shelby wasn’t officially part of the police department, but we all know that Shelby Woo was the law.

Scandal: Children who grew up without questioning how it was possible to solve mysteries in a short span of time with the help of just an internet connection and a rag-tag crack team of experts – without wondering why the proper law enforcement didn’t just deal with crime itself instead of allowing a non-officer to take the reins — well, those children probably grew up to watch Scandal. Like Shelby Woo, Olivia Pope is able to fix anything – even stuff that technically, we’re pretty sure somebody else should be handling.

Nick News With Linda Ellerbee = 20/20

We love you, Linda. We don’t care what Dawson Leery says.

Nick News: This was a kids’ news magazine which tried to deliver the “who, what, where, when, why and how”  of the age to kids whose other main source of news was that Scholastic Weekly Reader that you’d get on Friday afternoons when your teacher had basically given up for the week. To be quite honest, Nick News did an admirable job of it, breaking down issues like presidential elections, the Gulf War, racism, and global warming down to a nine-year-old’s level without condescending. In fact, you can probably thank Nick News, in part, for the environmental “go green” push that’s sweeping the nation. Older adults were just getting into these issues after that Al Gore powerpoint, but us 90s kids grew up hearing about pollution and climate change from one Ms. Linda Ellerbee.

20/20: Well, this one also is able to break news and information down to a nine-year-old’s level. We may have mentioned this before, but both of us watched way more than a normal amount of 20/20 as kids. As a fourth-grader, I stayed up until 11 on Fridays because 20/20 was on at 10. At least these days, 20/20 is light on the news, heavy on the magazine, with a bunch of tiny segments simplifying stories as much as possible. Actually, maybe Nick News was better – at least they didn’t do monthly stories about “places you won’t believe our crew found a lot of germs!”

All That =  Saturday Night Live

Okay, this isn’t quite fair. All That was almost certainly intended to be a kids’ version of SNL, so there shouldn’t be any surprise here. But when you consider that today’s 20-somethings grew up watching Kenan Thompson on All That, it is sort of remarkable that we’re watching the same guy on the grown-up version of the show.

I may have been under-supervised as a kid, but I watched a lot of real SNL in the 90s (especially the older stuff), and was struck by how very not funny All That was in comparison. That Lori Beth Denberg sure could deliver the fake news, though.

Saturday Spotlight: With Glowing Hearts

Oh, Canada. The imagery in your national anthem is truly inspiring. This gem of a line from Canada’s number one tune (well, other than the theme to Hockey Night In Canada, Let’s Go To The Mall, and the twinkly piano score to Anne of Green Gables) carried us all through the week. Continue reading

What Can I Do For Fun When I’ve Been Exposed To Ebola?

Boy, it’s been a long time since we’ve done one of these. Last year, we examined what you could do during the government shutdown (can not: go to space, enjoy national zoos; can: sneak into the Liberty Bell). But that’s long over, and a new threat’s a-looming: Ebola. So if you find yourself having been on the same airplane, hospital wing, or just to be safe, let’s just say continent or Earth as a person with Ebola, you may have some questions. That’s where we come in.

Last time, we talked about space. Can I go to space if I’ve been exposed to Ebola?

YES. Please, please go to space. Enjoy the earth from afar for … however long your incubation period is, then come back. When reentering the atmosphere, exit through some kind of a small pod. Allow your space craft to disintegrate as it re-enters the atmosphere. We can buy others. Then go to a large volcano, and throw your space suit in there. We will leave some disinfectant wash and a fresh change of clothes for you. Then roll your space pod into the volcano and come back and join us, buddy! Welcome home.

Okay, but during the government shutdown, when space was closed, you suggested maybe a really high airplane as an alternative. How about it: can I go up in a really high airplane?

Oh, no. No, no, no. No airplanes. Please. Speaking as a human, the concept of flying is terrifying enough. You are not supposed to sit in rows next to strangers, making small talk, watching 30 Rock episodes (still, somehow), and drinking plastic tumblers of booze as you soar above the clouds. The gods have struck humans down for less. But throw an infectious disease into the mix and it’s almost too much to bear. Nobody wants to breathe your Ebola air.

So, no. No airplanes if you’ve been hanging around Ebola and feel a bit feverish. No coughing your Ebola spittle into those scratchy airplane horse blankets. No pooping your Ebola poop in those miniature airplane toilets. And for goodness sake, do not take an airplane to go out of state to try on wedding dresses. Your state has wedding dresses. I guarantee it.

Awesome, so I can try on wedding dresses with my Ebola, as long as I stay in my own state?

Good Christ. NO. Trying on clothes is gross already, all that fabric that’s been on someone’s possibly dirty, possibly sweaty skin; not to mention deciding whether you look good enough in whatever you’re wearing to pay money to continue looking that way – the real reason I rarely try on clothes. But when your sweat, saliva, and latent self-esteem issues get on a dress that you don’t even buy, all you’re doing is leaving it in the dress shop to ruin someone else’s special day. And I will not have it.

Well, the thing is, my wedding is really soon…

You have to cancel that shit. Postpone it, whatever. I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, but I was on the internet after the Red Wedding episode happened. You don’t want that sort of scenario marring your big event. Do you want all your guests to get killed? Or, if not killed, get really bad diarrhea? Put off those nuptials until you can guarantee that they won’t be referred to for time and all eternity as The Brown Wedding.

So I should just keep to myself, lay low, follow CDC recommendations….

Basically, yeah. But whatever CDC says to do, go one step beyond it. Pretend you’re a nerdy kid gunning for extra credit. CDC says you can fly? Maybe don’t, for a while. CDC says you can hang around regular people (no offense, you know what I mean Ebola People)? How about you text them for a while instead? Take up a craft. Now’s a good time to get into knitting! But please don’t donate your handcrafted woolens to cold children or lonely soldiers or basically any charity. Use them as kindling, or something. That’s some smallpox blanket business there.

I’m trying to stay home and watch TV but TV has me really worried about Ebola!

Yes. 24-hour news stations are exploiting disease paranoia for ratings. However, you’re a lot more likely to die in a car accident (buckle up!), or even regular ol’ pneumonia and flu (get those flu shots!), but those don’t have a cool name or a Patient Zero.

You may want to lay off of the scare-mongering news magazines until you’re over your Ebola.

But how can I avoid it?

It’s fall premiere season! The BEST time of the year to be quarantined with an infectious disease. You aren’t missing any outdoor summer fun, and you haven’t run into mid-season reruns. Lucky you! Except for the Ebola part.

Or how about this. Get Netflix. I’m serious about this. Gilmore Girls is on it. You can watch Abandoned, which is this National Geographic show about cities and buildings that are neglected and falling into decay, like all of our cities will be if you get out there and spread your Ebola. It’s pretty cool. Cosmos is up now. There are lots of romcoms, like Sleepless in Seattle and Annie Hall.

So here’s my deal. I really mean it. If you have documentation that you have Ebola, and can prove that you have a flight scheduled in the next 20 days, I will personally mail you the seven dollars – eight, maybe – so you can get Netflix for a month. Stay home, avoid the news, and keep your Ebola to yourself.

That’s perfect, because I already have streaming Netflix but I’ve been meaning to upgrade to disks!

Easy, killer. You are NOT going to send your Ebola disks flinging around from sea to shining sea. This offer is only for people who have Ebola, have a flight planned, and do not have Netflix already. In fact, if you DO have disk delivery, and you have Ebola, and you have a flight planned, I will pay you a dollar to cancel your disk service for a month.

If you have a disk at home already, just tell Netflix you never got it. For real. It works every time.

Alternative Saturday Morning Programming of the 90s

Last week, we talked about how Saturday morning cartoons have effectively come to an end. CW was the final network hold out, but on Saturday, September 27th, they aired the last remaining cartoon block, ending a continuous animated run that lasted over 50 years. 50 years!! You can blame live-action shows, reality programs and the fact that people’s TV habits have changed, but in its place, networks have opted to show educational series aimed at teenagers.

If you ask me, I think it’s a good idea. Not only is it a good move to try to lure teens in with informative shows as opposed to whatever they’re showing on MTV these days, but because I, for one, was never really into cartoons. Sure, I watched Rugrats. I enjoyed Doug and Recess, but I never sought out cartoons. Then again, I was the girl who was watching The Real World: London when I was 9, so I mean, that explains a lot about me in the present.

That’s not to say I never watched TV on Saturday mornings – it’s just that I opted for other shows instead. If you switched channels between TMNT and The Smurfs and TNBC, you might recognize some of the following programs I was watching while the rest of y’all were staring at the animated folk.

Saved by the Bell: The New Class

We’ve touched based on SBTB:TNC before – in fact we’ve even done the digging for you and told you where your other fave Bayside students are now – but let’s talk about the show for a sec, shall we? The show was one of two spin-off from the OG SBTB, which ended in 1993. The New Class premiered that September, at the same time as the premiere of The College Years. However, instead of being a spin-off, it was more of producers attempting to create the same magic that they had with the first cast. Each OG SBTB character had a TNC doppelgänger.  And that’s where they went wrong. Spin-offs aren’t supposed to be a re-creation of a hit show – it’s supposed to use an element from the hit show to make a new hit show. See: Frasier (Cheers), The Jeffersons (All in the Family), Angel (Buffy). Needless to say, I stayed loyal to Zack + Co. over in college. So imagine my disappointment when one year for Christmas I got the SBTB: TNC board game instead of the original cast. Ugh, come on Santa.

California Dreams

California Dreams is like the SBTB spin-off that should’ve been. Like if SBTB’s Hot Sundae took and and toured with the California Dreams, that would’ve been perfect. California Dreams was an slight alternative to SBTB, but you know, in a different part of The Golden State. The show was originally intended to be a family sitcom, focusing on the Garrison family, and the two kids, Matt & Jenny who were in a band. However the show was rebooted in season 2, and focused on the teens in said band instead, and it was a much “better” show after that. It surprisingly lasted for five seasons, and in 2010, Jimmy Fallon managed to get the band back together for a reunion on Late Night. Oh Sly.

Hang Time

Please note that all these videos are for the theme songs to the shows, because for some reason, all these songs are still trapped in my brain after all these years. Also trapped in my brain: the fact that this show took place in Deering, Indiana. While I was never much of a sports fan, I appreciated that this show featured a girl on an all-boys basketball team and still had those elements of a teen sitcom. In addition, sometimes when I hear the name Anthony Anderson, to this day, I still associate him with this show.

City Guys

C-I-T-Y YOU CAN SEE WHY. I’m telling you – these songs were pretty damn catchy. SBTB:TNC, Hang Time and City Guys were all part of the TNBC Saturday Morning lineup that is forever etched in my brain. Now that TNBC had covered its bases in California and Middle of Nowhere, America, they came full circle and had a new show set in New York City. Teaching kids that we live in a diverse world, the show centered on a white kid from a wealthy family and a black kid from a working class family and how they can be friends, and sometimes enemies, in school.

One World

Speaking of diversity, this show was the epitome of it. One World was about a couple in Miami who take in six teens of varying ages from various backgrounds and ethnicities. Basically it was The Fosters before ABC Family claimed it. For some reason the one major plot line I remember from this show is that two of the foster kids started to have a romantic relationship and it was obvs a scandal?! Is it weird that I remember that and that alone? Probs. Also Johnny Tsunami’s in it.

Beakman’s World

That’s right, nerds. If you were the type to also spend a lot of your time with Bill Nye (the science guy), you were also familiar with Beakman’s World too. But this show was much more dramatic and outlandish than Bill Nye, as everyone on the show were actors who just played out these scientific experiments. In fact, Beakman himself was played by Paul Zaloom, an actor and puppeteer who has apparently taught his craft at the college I went to. Because yet, I went to a liberal arts college where puppetry was a class. Also he used to be married to a woman and has two kids but has split from her because he’s gay. *the more you know*

Moolah Beach

Remember when Survivor was like THE hottest show on TV? Producers ran with the idea and made a kid’s version called Moolah Beach. Except instead of being kicked off the island, everyone stuck around to win $25,000. It only lasted 6 episodes – but that’s because it was reworked into a show called Endurance, that aired on NBC then switched over to the Discovery Kids network. Did anyone else watch this? Or was it just me and my friend Ryan who secretly were way into it???