It’s Friday and you know what that means: pay day!!! Yes, but also the continuation of our month-long TGIF celebration! We’ve revisited Family Matters. We looked back at Step by Step. And now, we’re watching the pilot of another classic show from ABC’s old school Friday night lineup: Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper! Get your pencils out boys and girls, it’s time to take notes on this 90s fave.
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
Original Air Date: 9/22/1992
Pilot Plot: Mark is hired as a substitute teacher, but his roommate Robin must teach him how to control his students. Alan Thicke guest stars.
T: I’m 99% I’ve never seen this pilot. I would’ve remembered Alan Thicke. Pour one out.
M: I watched Hangin With Mr. Cooper but remember less about it than ANY TGIF show. Holy cow, it was on for 5 seasons?! Anyway from what I recall, Mark Curry is not-a-parent who is the cool adult/neighbor to Raven-Symone and a boy.
T: WAIT. Alan Thicke shows up as Alan Thicke, the star of Growing Pains, whose show was recently “retired” (you don’t say cancelled, you say “retired” or “rich” after seven seasons). All these shows from my past blur in my mind. It’s crazy to think Growing Pains ended before Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper began. I have no concept of time. ALSO THIS IS SO META WHAT IS IT DOING IN THE PILOT. MARK LITERALLY LOOKED DOWN THE BARREL OF THE CAMERA.
M: Alan Thicke just showed up to KOOL AID MAN THROUGH THE FOURTH WALL. Mark Curry is Mark Curry, preparing to star in HWMC & Alan Thicke is Alan Thicke, retiring from Growing Pains, talking about Mark taking over Alan’s time slot. Who thought this bit was at all good?
T: Alan legit just said “Good luck here in the ‘hood… if you ever need a white guy…” HUH?
M: I’m going to say it. It’s the worst cold open I’ve seen in my life.
T: I was about to say, “the opening credits are very En Vogue-esque.” Never realized it was actually En Vogue.
M: This is our first TGIF pilot so far to feature a cold open, so it was a little trickier to clock the theme song time. AKA I had to do simple subtraction. One minute … of excellence. We should do a post about 90s R&B theme songs.
T: I have no recollection of Mark’s house being the exact same as the Seaver house. The living room at least. I have a completely different picture in my head when I think of the Cooper home.
M: Is it Martin? Because I was picturing the house in Martin.
T: This guy Holly Robinson Peete is going on a date with isn’t “fine”, he’s “foine”. I get this on a deep leve.
M: “He’s got a butt that makes me with I was his wallet.”
T: THIS IS LEGITIMATELY THE SEAVER HOUSE THO. WHAT’S GOING ON.
M: Did they change the set later? I do not remember Growing Pains well enough to be able to picture the house. I didn’t think the house was so beige and blah.
T: Yes Mark, this warranted a “DAYUMMNNN”
M: It was probably the most “language” that had been used on TGIF to date. Holly looks smashing.
T: Omar Gooding, actor and brother of Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of the students in Mr. Cooper’s class, which makes sense since he’s a 90s TV staple.
M: Always wearing this exact outfit. Honestly, all the teens look so cool but ESPECIALLY the girl with the floral dress, black boots and blossom hat. That was 100% my dream look c. 1992.
T: As soon as the kids find out Mark’s a sub, they act up and start throwing papers at each other but Mark immediately lashes out and yells at them to stop, citing the fact he just got out of prison and I am DYING. On the verge of tears crying it’s so funny to me.
M: I rewound to watch it again!
T: Why is there a random boom box on the table next to Blossom?
T: Oh it’s so they can listen to Boyz II Men in class and dance to it.
M: Partially serious question, did ABC option the rights to Motown Philly? Because it also figured prominently into a Full House episode, which I’m sure you all remember.
T: Am I the only one finding this pilot is incredibly predictable? He picks unnecessary fights with Vanessa (because he likes her). He gives into the students’ wishes to have a dance party (and the principal walks in). He sits down in the chair after Omar/Earvin walks away from it (because he pulled a prank & did something to the chair). I’m not complaining, I’m just saying it’s typical ’90s fodder.
M: It’s like putting all the things that happen in 90s sitcoms in a hat and pulling them out. You can also tell from Episode 1 that it’s all about the Mark/Vanessa chemistry.
T: Mark was the kind of student that bullshitted his entire way through high school.
M: I can’t remember if they kept the Belding-esque principal and that Zach Morris-esque Omar Gooding character beyond this episode.
T: Do people actually work out in silence by themselves in their home? Also, she’s not even overweight in the slightest and she’s complaining about not being as sexy and thin as Vanessa.
M: Yeah you saw Vanessa in that mustard yellow dress, though. (Seriously, I DO remember it just being a very 90s thing that ladies in sitcoms/romcoms would talk about needing to lose weight but they never actually cast a fat person? It was v. Cathy comics.).
T: “Couch Potato or Stockbroker? Stud or Spud?” The live audience really loved that line.
M: Mark has said “dayumm” for the third time, proving the writers were really referencing the sitcom guidebook.
M: Vanessa bought one of that dress in every color, I think: comes down in a blue version. Mark is super weird with Vanessa’s date William, a boring stockbroker who will probably not be back. I realized why this wasn’t my fav sitcom until Raven-Symone and the little boy came into the scene: this is 100% about adults. Also Vanessa and Mark mention sex, which I bet means this was on my mom’s no-fly list (to be fair I was 6).
T: Coop shows the kids who’s the boss (not Tony) by supergluing Earvin’s chair, because that’s how you teach.
M: Confirmed: that’s Earvin’s only outfit, or all his outfits look the same.
T: Just before the show ends, there’s a scene where Mark introduces himself as Mark Curry… what is all this realism business? I don’t think I like it.
M: Makes no sense. I guess this is how you had to find out who people were before IMDB.