TGIF Month: A Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper Live Blog

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.

Advertisements

TGIF Month: A Step by Step Live Blog

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.

T: “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).

 

TGIF Month: A Family Matters Live Blog

Welcome to the first installment of TGIF Month! Every Friday through October (and the first weekend of November), we’ll be watching and live blogging the pilot of five beloved sitcoms that aired during the iconic ABC TV block of programming, TGIF. Why? Because we can. Also, because a lot of these shows are now available on Hulu for the very first time, so we’re taking advantage of the nostalgia while we can.

First up is Family Matters, which centers on the Winslow family, a middle-class black family living in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the longest-running non-animated sitcoms featuring a predominantly black family, having run 9 seasons. It was one of the biggest shows to come out of the TGIF lineup, and brought us one of the most iconic characters on TV history. #DidIDoThat. Let’s take a look back at the very first episode featuring the Winslows.

Season 1, Episode 1: The Mama Who Came to Dinner

Original Air Date: 9/22/1989

Pilot Plot: Mother Winslow asserts a little too much authority when she comes to live with her son Carl and his family.

T: Did we all know that Family Matters is a spin-off of Perfect Strangers (another TGIF program available on Hulu)? Because I definitely forgot that fact.

M: Definitely never knew it in the first place. We compared notes of our Perfect Strangers memories, and both of us just remember the opening credits. To be fair we were like 3.

T: There’s no cold open in the pilot, and it launches right into the opening credits with the unforgettable theme song, “As Days Go By”. It was catchy like a lot of the other TGIF theme songs – which makes sense, because many of them were written by a dude named Jesse Frederick, who’s probably super rich rn. Also, this reminds me of when we did our Cheers recaps because it LOOKS like the ’80s.

M: I still get warm, cozy feelings watching this theme song. It feels like being home after school during the winter when it was dark out early, to name a very specific cozy feeling.

T: This is an extended version of the theme song!!!

M: You know what doesn’t happen anymore? Those opening credits where (A) it’s a long – and I mean LONG – song and (B) they show little clips of the characters from the episodes.

T: Everything in their house looks so dark? As in the wood trim and paint look much darker than I remember? But that just might be a result of the TV pilot structure, when a lot of things are different than when they are in the rest of the series.

M: Funny enough, this came up in our Cheers recaps too – that it was so dark, not in tone but the actual palette. It is also of a fuzzier quality than I remember. I specifically remember watching ’70s sitcom reruns and being super-proud of the better picture quality of our early ’90s shows.

For what it’s worth, I’m sure the paint was brighter later. It’s a very dingy beige. The house is all shades of brown, like a McDonald’s meal.

T: I probably haven’t seen this show since I was living at home at watching reruns on Nickelodeon, but I don’t remember Carl having such an adverse reaction to his mother being around? Or is my memory just horrible and that was the entire premise of the show?

M: In my memory, the grandmother was BELOVED.

T: Is everyone overacting? Was that a 90s sitcom thing?

T: I’m V into Harriette’s sweater.

M: It’s the brightest thing in that whole drab house, is what it is.

T: Remember extemporaneous daughter Judy? I barely do.

M: In my memory she was Aunt Rachel’s child and they both moved, leaving Richie behind for whatever reason. Wrong. Just a childhood head-canon to make sense of Judy’s departure.

T: Eddie’s adorbs.

M: This show started when we were LITTLE (age 3) and as a result I always saw Eddie and Laura (and Judy for 5 seconds) as big kids. Oh my god, they are all absolutely adorable.

T: Wait, are they living in an apartment??

M: In later episodes the front door came from outside/the front porch, but here it definitely looks like an apartment hallway. Which is weird, because the house is, like the Full House house, ENORMOUS with extraneous doors and hallways everywhere.

T: Kind of upset this episode doesn’t have Urkel in it. Didn’t realize that he wasn’t introduced until halfway through the first season!

M: That’s right…  he wasn’t planned to be a big part of the show, but audiences loved them some Jaleel White.

T: Do they ever reveal why Rachel is a single mother?

M: Now I’m picturing 1990 execs suddenly realizing they had put a single mother on TV and pulling Rachel during hiatus.

T: This is the type of outfit I always picture Mama to be in.

M: I like how old people on TV always used to be stuck in another century. Speaking of which, I IMDB’d it and Rosetta LeNoire (Mama) was born in 1911. WHAT. Time is a crazy thing. We’re youngish adults in 2017 reminiscing about a lady who was born when the Titanic was still a promising venture. And her godfather was Bill Bojangles Robinson!

T: UPDATE: Rachel’s husband Robert died so that’s why Rachel and Richie had to move in with Carl and fam. It’s like Full House but Danny Tanner is a supporting character.

M: True Story: My brother and his kids moved in with my parents after my sister-in-law died and I always refer to our family situation as “a real Miller-Boyett production.” Also, why does Rachel ask Laura if she “remembers” an event that had to have happened a couple months ago, and is a huge deal? (Exposition, is why.)

Harriette: Girls, don’t argue at the dinner table.

Laura (to Judy): Ok, let’s take it outside

Do not mess with young Laura.

T: THIS BOLO TIE ENSEMBLE

M: If I was several years older I’d have been all about Eddie. Despite those pleated slacks.

M: Mama says “it’s almost the 90s.” Did we know that “it’s the 90s” as a catch-phrase started before the 90s even did?!

T: Carl’s heart-to-heart with Mama included a musical cue of emotional music as soon as he hit the main talking point in his conversation, which I just realized is a common denominator in all these 90s family sitcoms. Danny Tanner assuring Stephanie he still loves her after accidentally driving a car into the kitchen? Cue the emo music.

M: My main thing is when the emotional music is THE THEME SONG SLOWED DOWN AND INSTRUMENTAL. Full House always did that, but the Brady Bunch perfected it first. “it’s the sto-o-o-ry of the lovely la-a-a-dy”

T: Eddie moved to the attic to let his grandma stay in his room, but it still looks like an attic? Like they couldn’t have cleaned it up and moved the misc. furniture and knick knacks to another location?

M: And they live in Chicago, so that attic will be hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. And there’s a grandfather clock in the attic and downstairs. How many grandfather clocks does a family need?

T: Of course Harriette, Rachel and Mama are singing He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands and OMG THEY JUST PANNED OUT THE SHOW THE FAMILY IN THE WINDOW SURROUNDING THE PIANO AND SINGING, WHICH IS IN THE CREDITS!

M: During the credits I almost said “this show involves far fewer family old-fashioned piano parties than the credits would have you believe.” Which was all-the-way wrong.

T: I feel like I’ve never even seen this episode before, and despite the fact that it’s corny like most 90s sitcoms, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

M: I also don’t remember this one (and haven’t watched Family Matters since I was a child), but I could see putting on episodes as sort of soothing background TV now that it’s on Hulu. Love those Winslows!