It’s Friday during TGIF Month, and you know what that means: gonna have some fun, show you how it’s done, and liveblog another TGIF pilot from Hulu. Up today: Step By Step, the blended-family sitcom that we liked, but which didn’t gain the nostalgia foothold of a Full House or even a Family Matters. Like most TGIF sitcoms, it starts in the aftermath of something bad happening to a nuclear family. It’s the ’90s!
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
Original Air Date: 9/20/1991
Pilot Plot: While vacationing in the Caribbean, Frank and Carol get married, and when they return, have to deal with the conflicts between their children.
T: Definitely did not remember this show took place in Wisconsin. Definitely DID remember and will never forget this theme song/opening credits. Pitch: Step by Step cast reunites but they only recreate the opening credits as adults. That’s it. No episode. No series. Just that.
M: Yes, into it. For years I thought of the roller coaster every time I was (rarely) on one.
T: Port Washington, Wisconsin is a real town just north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. However, at the end of the credits when they zoom out on the roller coaster, the tide is so freaking strong it’s like the Pacific. What’s going on there?
M: Before you @ us we grew up on a Great Lake, they’re massive and you can’t see across them but there’s not a TIDE.
We should have clocked the opening songs starting with week 1 of TGIF Month… but this one was 1:51. Almost TWO MINUTES. Out of a sitcom episode’s 22 minutes. Just walking around a theme park in coastal Wisconsin.
T: I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN THIS PILOT. I have no recollection of ever being at Frank’s pig sty of a house before he moved in with Karen.
M: If I saw it it was once, in maybe 1991. PS, I was always HORRIBLE at remembering which kids are bio-sibs. That’s why the Brady Bunch color-coded the kids’ hair.
T: I feel like there’s always a science project on the kitchen table.
T: Tag yourself, I’m Dana with a hint of Mark.
M: I’m also a Mark/Dana, with a bit of the littlest brown-haired boy who nobody remembers. Brandon or whatever. [Ed. note: Brendan I guess.]
T: That Suzanne Sommers sure is a fox.
M: Wait there was always a hair salon hooked onto the house? I have exactly ZERO recall of that. This is some Steel Magnolias nonsense.
Also, Suze and her blue kitchen both look GOOD and she knows it. I have the hugest crush on this kitchen.
T: Frank went on vacation. Carol went on vacation and met a man. Frank is Carol’s customer and they’re secretly dating/got married in Jamaica. You’re telling me that the premise of Step by Step is loosely based on Grease? Also is a marriage legal if you only get married in Jamaica?
M: What the hell sort of single parent who lives in a hair salon is going on freewheeling vacations to Jamaica? If they’d just throw us a line about Carol winning a radio contest this would make so much more sense.
T: Suzanne is classic 90s overacting and I AM SO INTO IT.
M: The music cues are every bit as dramatic, too.
T: LAKE MICHIGAN UPDATE: Found this on IMDb. Apparently I’m not the only one who noted this issue:
In the opening credits the amusement park is intended to be in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. However at the end of the credits the body of water can be see to have rather large waves on a calm day. These waves are much too large for Lake Michigan in the absence of a storm.
M: Yeah, those were some Edmund Fitzgerald-looking waves. (SEE, WE KNOW THE GREAT LAKES. Traci even worked at an amusement park right on one, like in the credits!)
T: Patrika Darbo’s outfit is so 90s that it’s in right now.
M: This happens every week, but I am floored by how young the kids are, particularly JT who always seemed like basically an adult.
T: Guys, I’m genuinely enjoying this episode.
M: It’s so much fun! Which is weird because Step By Step gets a lot less nostalgia cred compared to a lot of other 90s sitcom.
“My God, here comes the Joad family,” a reference I do not understand. I have not read Grapes of Wrath.
M: I can’t believe that was a reference that in the early ’90s, writers of a family sitcom just assumed their audience GOT.
Frank & Co. move in with random chairs and wooden things strapped to the top of their vehicle.
T: 14:00 The fashion in this show is on point.
“I don’t think this is gonna work. Our kids hate each other. I’m a nervous wreck and to tell you the truth we just don’t like livestock all that much.” – a Carol line I actually LOLed at
M: Suzanne Somers, in addition to being a total fox, has good timing and delivery.
T: Do we think Frank and Carol are actually still together in 2017? Discuss.
M: Well. I actually paused my TV to think about that and I’m of a few minds. I could see them being one of those couples that gets together after divorces than stay together forever. On the other hand I could see them both leaving for greener pastures when that random little blonde girl they had later went to college.
T: CAROL IS WEARING A JUMPSUIT.
T: Also, do families still have breakfast together?
M: I think my siblings’ kids do? Not in a formal way, but they have cereal or whatever. Bleh. Leave me alone in the morning.
T: Al looks like Steve from Blues Clues’ sidekick.
M: I’m in Al’s corner. She goes from zero to moving in with this random family with a giant blue kitchen and getting taken to the doctor by her dad’s hairdresser. Adults are the pits.
T: Like Family Matters, are we going to get an explanation on what happened to Frank and Carol’s significant others? This is not a detail I’ve kept in my head for 25 years.
M: I decided they were divorced, but did the exes just disappear? This is probably addressed somewhere. It’s been decades.
The twinkly music starts while Carol and Al have a touching convo about blended families and appendices.
T: “I’d like to be your friend because that’s the first step in become a family.”
M: “You and I have something in common. We both love your father.” YEESH.
T: I can’t get over how into this aesthetic I am.
M: Future post: Step By Step Is Our Aesthetic. I keep thinking about that kitchen with stars in my eyes.
T: Note to self: visit exterior of the Lambert house in Pasadena.
M: Carol has the cutest tortoiseshell glasses!
T: The audience was actually clapping at the end like it’s a live theater play. They really don’t make shows like they used to.
M: For better or worse.
T: I think I’m going to keep watching to find out what happens.
M: I could consume an unhealthy amount of this show without even realizing I was doing it. It’s like the Goldfish crackers of 90s sitcoms.
T: EDIT: HULU AUTOPLAYED THE NEXT EPISODE AND URKEL CRASHES THE DINNER. LIKE LITERALLY HAS A JET PACK ON AND CRASHES ON THEIR PICNIC OUTSIDE. I CAN’T. (I am and I will).