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"monroe ficus" +raped +"too close for comfort" -"cosmic cow"
March 16, 2011 11:50 AM   Subscribe

A Very Special Episode: On July 20, 1985, ABC aired a "Too Close For Comfort" episode titled: "For Every Man, There's Two Women" in which Monroe Ficus (played by "unabashed gay icon" Jim J. Bullock) is kidnapped and raped by two bikers (possibly in a bathtub of jello). In recent years, stories have surfaced of individuals traumatized by the repressed memories of this mysterious episode. This is one of those stories. A film by Ethan Duff. (via The Retroist)

(the video on the main link doesn't work for me (neither Chrome nor FF), but the full movie is in the YouTube link.)
posted by mrgrimm (294 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite

 
not the same thing, but there was an episode of (I THINK) The Facts of Life where everyone gets killed by a serial killer that bothers the crap out of me, and I must have seen it twenty years ago.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2011


For clarity: ...Monroe was tied-up and raped (yes, raped) by two heavyset biker chicks ..."
posted by ericb at 12:01 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


> not the same thing, but there was an episode of (I THINK) The Facts of Life where everyone gets killed by a serial killer

I have memories of that happening in every single 80s sitcom that I watched, but I'm pretty sure it's wishful thinking on my part.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh man, that Facts of Life episode was the worse. Blair's overly made-up face reflected in the hand held mirror her frozen dead body was holding? What the hell?!?

(no, I am not kidding.)
posted by joelhunt at 12:05 PM on March 16, 2011


And suddenly "facts of life serial killer" rockets up in the Google search rankings...
posted by charred husk at 12:09 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I still can't walk into a bike shop without worrying that the manager of WKRP is going to offer me some wine.
posted by bondcliff at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


I was sure he went by Jm J. Bullock, but the intranets aren't backing me up.
posted by rocket88 at 12:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I now must watch this episode. Never have I felt so helpless. Somebody, please! Release the tapes!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:16 PM on March 16, 2011


I was sure he went by Jm J. Bullock, but the intranets aren't backing me up.

He did.
posted by xingcat at 12:16 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I may have this confabulated with something else, but I think the episode had a short debate over whether it was even possible for a woman to rape a man. If I recall correctly, the phrase "...like trying to stuff a marshmallow into a piggy bank" was used. Did I actually watch that?
posted by steef at 12:17 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Facts of Life serial killer episode was a dream or goof of some sort, right? A sitcom trope that even I thought was hokey when I was seven or whatever.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:17 PM on March 16, 2011


My dad said that for a while there was a trend in TV and movies where there would be pointless jello-wrestling scenes.
I guess there were pointless jello-rape scenes as well.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:17 PM on March 16, 2011


infinitewindow, I think it was a Halloween episode.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2011


Don't underestimate the influence of cocaine on the writers of these shows.
posted by goethean at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [28 favorites]


This might have also been about the time where all major sitcoms had major unexpected plot twists, where all of a sudden the female lead gets held hostage by a gorilla, et cetera.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:20 PM on March 16, 2011


Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:21 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


God, I distinctly remember seeing that episode on the syndicated reruns.

And even tiny little me was appalled that it was being played for comedy. Just...what the hell?
posted by Katemonkey at 12:25 PM on March 16, 2011


It's times like this I'm thankful I never watched contemporary sitcoms growing up. I'll stick with "Green Acres", thank you very much.
posted by brundlefly at 12:26 PM on March 16, 2011


dunkadunc, isn't there mud wrestling in "Stripes" -- with John Candy *shudder* -- an otherwise wrestling-free film of about the same era?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:31 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we want to talk about Very Special Episodes that actually happened, I remember being traumatized by "Sylvia," the two-part Little House on the Prairie story in which the little girl got raped by a mime. I remember thinking, "How cool is this - this lame, wholesome show that my mom makes me watch actually has a parental advisory on it tonight!" And then ...

(trailer, to uncork the memories)
posted by jbickers at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Okay that 'Facts of Life Murderama' thing got my curiosity raised. First I find mention via the time-deadly TVTropes, then a bit more digging pulls up the episode guide (search 'killer'), then the IMDB listing for the episode 'Seven Little Indians' airing in 1987. "On a dark and stormy night, the girls and their friends all meet with gruesome ends"!

But I won't leave you hanging. The episode is on Youtube. (later parts linked in sidebar)
posted by FatherDagon at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


IIRC it was a time when rape plots were the big shit on tv - no getting away from it. Like, I'd give a lot of money not to even remember there was such a TV special as "The Violation of Sarah McDavid."

NYT review pretty much confirms my newly cynical recollection of it - that we had to endure these kind of stories not for the consciousness-raising aspect of confronting a real social problem, but because networks made an ass-pile of money off this kind of "made-you-look" emotional gruesomeness.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Jm did crystal meth? What a dumbass.
posted by stormpooper at 12:41 PM on March 16, 2011


wait, the facts of life killer thing was real?
posted by jbickers at 12:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was sure he went by Jm J. Bullock, but the intranets aren't backing me up

Indeed. To be comprehensive, I used both the "jimjbullock" and "jmjbullock" tags. ;)

posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, I said I was not kidding.
posted by joelhunt at 12:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, is that mime/Little House thing REAL?

And who else remembers Arnold and Sam getting kidnapped? That was pretty special, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


That marshmallow/piggy bank thing rings a very loud bell.
My digestion thanks you.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:46 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm almost sad someone actually did link to the episode (not super-sad though, and thank you for finding it) because I think it would have been excellent, though not especially constructive - but indulge me here - if an assortment of people read this thread and thought the Facts of Life serial killer episode was a running joke invented in this thread and everyone else's recollections of it in-thread were just people adding to the joke.

Because I even thought it was a joke at first and I saw the episode when it first aired. It wasn't until someone mentioned Blair with the ghastly face and the makeup and the mirror and suddenly I remembered it quite clearly.

"And then there was Tootie!"

Excellent stuff.

I have a soft spot for episodes of shows, ostensibly for kids, which just spring unadulterated horror on you out of nowhere. The Facts of Life episode was one.

The Perils of Punky was another.

Pleasant dreams...
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought I had blocked out Too Close For Comfort entirely. Next you'll be telling me that there was some kind of show where Tom Hanks went in drag a lot...

The horror...the horror
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, from The Top Five Traumatic 80's Events
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:52 PM on March 16, 2011


More on "Sylvia," which I am now obsessed with finding and re-watching:

"Sylvia" is filmed in a way that is completely foreign to Little House. Audiences are treated to extreme close-ups of the clown-rapist's tiny pupils staring at Sylvia's winsome form, disturbing POV shots from the rapist's perspective, and conventions that seem to be directly lifted from John Carpenter's Halloween. Even with Little House's penchant for melodrama and occasionally tackling of issues that would make the After School Special blush, "Sylvia" takes top honors for the episode most likely to be discussed on a therapist's couch. If Michael Landon's goal here was prove that the series was not the sugary-sweet family fare it was thought to be, he certainly succeeded.
posted by jbickers at 12:52 PM on March 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's best to let the dead stay buried.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:54 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


not the same thing, but there was an episode of (I THINK) The Facts of Life where everyone gets killed by a serial killer that bothers the crap out of me, and I must have seen it twenty years ago.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:01 PM on March 16 [+] [!]


Oh my god. I remember that. It scared the shit out of me. I still remember that posh bitch being frozen in the mirror...presumably murdered in some funny way. It was not funny. It was about 25 years ago.

Why does that still scare me?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:55 PM on March 16, 2011


And who can forget the episode of Webster where he "accidentally" burns down their apartment building with his chemistry set? If I were Papadapolis, I think I would've traded the little firebug in for a less destructive model.
posted by item at 12:56 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh man, that Facts of Life episode was the worse. Blair's overly made-up face reflected in the hand held mirror her frozen dead body was holding? What the hell?!?

(no, I am not kidding.)


JESUS! What is this??
Why do other people remember this?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:56 PM on March 16, 2011


I remember Webster. Yeah.

Wasn't there a Punky Brewster about a kid who died by hiding in the refrigerator?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:57 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I saw that Too Close for Comfort episode, and it was definitely offensive. I thought so even at the time. The whole "rape of young man" thing was played for laughs.

I never saw that Facts of Life episode, and I really must look it up.
posted by orange swan at 1:01 PM on March 16, 2011


I had neatly folded and locked away all memory of these 80s sitcoms and now it's all exploded in a neural flood of "Ma'am, George! Punky! Whathcu talkin' bout!" brain vomit. I hate everyone now and consign you all to a hell in the basement of the mansion of Silver Spoons.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wasn't there a Punky Brewster about a kid who died by hiding in the refrigerator?

In the eighties, EVERY show had an episode about a kid getting killed in a fridge. The Fridge Wars were brutal, shit was like Maximum Overdrive... giant Frigidaires roaming the streets, luring toddler's hands into their crisper doors with the promise of ice cream, and then SNAP WHUMP the freezer doors shut. A scream and a crunch, then the ice maker turns on.. the cubes come out.... RED.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [61 favorites]


Wasn't there a Punky Brewster about a kid who died by hiding in the refrigerator?

Cherie Lifesaver.

As "special episodes" go, there was also Tom Hanks as alcoholic Uncle Ned ("you just drank a whole bottle of vanilla extract!") in Family Ties.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


A scream and a crunch, then the ice maker turns on.. the cubes come out.... RED.

Perhaps The Mangler is a more apt comparison than Maximum Overdrive.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:07 PM on March 16, 2011


oh thank god that's right the kid didn't die because punky paid attention in her CPR class oh thank you god thank you punky for listening to your teachers
posted by jbickers at 1:08 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


My scary TV memories include only The Brady Bunch special episodes where they went to Hawaii or the U.S. West. Greg almost drowning made me too afraid to try surfing. I can't remember what happened when they went out West but I somehow always insert Westworld into it.
posted by perhapses at 1:09 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Greg almost drowning made me too afraid to try surfing.

It was because Bobby found an evil tiki.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:16 PM on March 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


> I can't remember what happened when they went out West

A crazy prospector thought they were going to steal his gold so he trapped them in a mine or something.

Like I said..flood of mediocre entertainment memories. Damn it all.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2011


I was sure he went by Jm J. Bullock, but the intranets aren't backing me up.

This is how he was introduced every time on Hollywood Squares, if that helps.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A crazy prospector thought they were going to steal his gold so he trapped them in a mine or something.

Not just any crazy prospector, but Thurston Motherfuckin' Howell the 3rd.

Also, Peter was asking for that tarantula. You don't put an evil idol around your neck and then say "Bad luck, come and get me!"
posted by bondcliff at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hey, that "Very Special Episode" short film was pretty good. Neat ending. Thanks!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2011


There was an episode of Facts of Life I saw when I was a kid, where Arnold and his friend were hanging out in some older guy's basement. Arnold leaves and then the old guy lures the other kid into the bathroom to play King Neptune or something. Very creepy.

There was also one episode where some African-American gentleman gets lung cancer from smoking and has to have one of his lungs removed. The last scene of the episode shows him leaving their apartment and lighting up another cigarette. Even as a young child I remember thinking "what the fuck is this? I come here for 'whatchu talkin about, Willis?' not grade-A depression."
posted by nushustu at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have vague memories about a Very Special Episode of Mr. Belvidere, too, which I remember watching over dinner with my parents way back when.
posted by emelenjr at 1:23 PM on March 16, 2011


Oh ... and "Edith's 50th Birthday."
posted by jbickers at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget that every damn sitcom then had a Very Special Episode (no doubt funded by Nancy Reagan) that painted anyone who dared try drugs as an evil junkie whose live would be ruined.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:26 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


The bigger question is why don't they do this now? I want my children traumatized too, damnit.
posted by drezdn at 1:26 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


If we want to talk about Very Special Episodes that actually happened, I remember being traumatized by "Sylvia," the two-part Little House on the Prairie story in which the little girl got raped by a mime. I remember thinking, "How cool is this - this lame, wholesome show that my mom makes me watch actually has a parental advisory on it tonight!" And then ...

Holy cow, I knew I had a repressed memory about a childhood show somewhere, and that was it. Seriously. I was young enough that I couldn't figure out what was going on exactly, as I wasn't thinking about rape at that age, but put the pieces together after seeing it again a few years later. Very creepy. It's right up there with the episode where Albert is working through a heroin addiction, and Michael Landon helps him through withdrawal. I remember a lot of explicit puking going on in that episode.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:26 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The description of the Little House "Sylvia" episode is completely surreal, I can't believe it's real! Oh, and Sylvia was played by Olivia Barash (who later went on to play Leila in Repo Man).
posted by Auden at 1:27 PM on March 16, 2011


Growing up in one of the feminazi capitals of the world, I was taught that showing these rapes were a positive thing: yay! A taboo subject is finally being addressed on TV! Now maybe we can end all the evil in the world! Yet yeah, the mime on LHOTH made my 8-year-old self scratch my head a bit.

(It also wasn't completely clear to me whether Sylvia died at the end, and I was even more puzzled; why would something like that actually KILL her?)

Let's not forget that every damn sitcom then had a Very Special Episode (no doubt funded by Nancy Reagan) that painted anyone who dared try drugs as an evil junkie whose live would be ruined.

Not a bad message.
posted by Melismata at 1:28 PM on March 16, 2011


Wasn't there a Punky Brewster about a kid who died by hiding in the refrigerator?

There was, and it was something which got pushed as a message a lot for reasons which were opaque to me at the time since every teacher and a lot of other adults informed me that in games of hide and seek I must never hide inside a fridge since I would not be able to open it once inside. This made no sense to me at all and - being a kid - I figured there was some strange principle at the crossroads of physics and refrigerator design which would make it impossible to kick the door open from the inside once it was shut, despite the fact that it only took trivial effort to open the door from the outside.

It wasn't until years later that I realized that refrigerator designs had changed just slightly before my youth, and the refrigerators everyone was talking about were those huge deals with the latch on the outside that drops into place when the door is closed.

The mysteries of childhood.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:28 PM on March 16, 2011 [33 favorites]


Too Close for Comfort was one of my favorites back in the day. Lord knows why, I'm sure half the jokes went over my 6 year old head.

But now, thanks to the Internets, it has become painfully clear that all of my old favorite shows from early childhood do not stand up to the test of time.


(Except What's Happening!! That one's still awesome.)
posted by elsietheeel at 1:29 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


There was an episode of Facts of Life I saw when I was a kid, where Arnold and his friend were hanging out in some older guy's basement. Arnold leaves and then the old guy lures the other kid into the bathroom to play King Neptune or

Yes! Arnold and Dudley befriend the Bike store owner. One day they are hanging out at the bike store and the bike store owner puts on porn cartoons, slips Dudley drugs and molests him. Arnold has the good sense to go home after the bike store guy tries to convince him to take off his shirt.

Also the older guy who gets lung cancer is Dudley's dad. The kicker is that the beginning of the episode Arnold and Dudley try smoking and Arnold burns a hole in his sweater so everyone finds out. Dudley's dad comes clean about his lung cancer to stop the kids from smoking.

Wasn't there an episode of The Facts of Life where they smoke weed? I swear I remember an episode where they had a bong or a Hookah.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:30 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Glad to see I wasn't the only one scarred by the Brady's tiki trauma.
posted by CaptApollo at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about the Diff'rent Strokes where Dudley ends up in a bathtub in some weird guys apartment watching dirty cartoons...classic.
posted by Busmick at 1:33 PM on March 16, 2011


Wasn't there a Punky Brewster about a kid who died by hiding in the refrigerator?

In the eighties, EVERY show had an episode about a kid getting killed in a fridge.


Dragnet beat them all to it in 1967. I'll always remember this episode, because it had Joe Friday, who was normally Mr. Ice Cold Detective Guy, jumping out of his skin when he spotted the refrigerator in the open garage. Spoiler alert: The kid isn't actually in the fridge, but we all learn an important lesson.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:33 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow ...im slow...sorry.
posted by Busmick at 1:33 PM on March 16, 2011


> Not a bad message.

No, it was a terrible message. It was cynical and hypocritical bullshit served up by cokehead writers and network executives who were no doubt getting a check from the DEA to bolster their propaganda efforts. It was part of the wrong-headed message that we should criminalize and demonize drug users, and fill the children's heads with paranoid Just Say No misinformation rather than real usable facts about drugs and their effects. It was popular at a time when we mocked the propaganda and lies of the USSR but were actively engaged in the same thing to our populace, albeit with cute little black kids with stunted growth.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on March 16, 2011 [44 favorites]


I remember that there was an episode of Little House on the Prairie where Albert was really sick, and Pa takes him out to a field in the rain and builds a giant cairn/cross, which is then struck by lightning as Pa pleads with God to save Albert's life, and Albert is miraculously saved.

That's the point where my dad stood up and turned the TV off and said "we're done with this stuff," except he didn't say "stuff," and he -- a United Church of Canada minister -- never swore in front of us.

I'd been raised in the church, and it had never occurred to me before that day that you could be too OTT crazy-eggs with the Jesus stuff. My young assumption to date was that Jesus was good, more Jesus was extra good, and incredible amounts of Jesus was super good.

This was the first chink in the armour -- the revelation that people could overinterpret and misinterpret and turn worship into something sodden and grotesque -- that eventually turned me into an atheist.

I'm pretty sure that's not what Michael Landon had in mind, but there y'go.
posted by Shepherd at 1:36 PM on March 16, 2011 [43 favorites]


Growing up in one of the feminazi capitals of the world

Ohhh, let's not.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:37 PM on March 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


The kid isn't actually in the fridge, but we all learn an important lesson.

Balloon Boy!
posted by perhapses at 1:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except What's Happening!! That one's still awesome.

Never bootleg a concert or the Doobie Brothers will catch you.
posted by bondcliff at 1:39 PM on March 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


It scares me how many of these 1980s VSEs I remember. Tom Hanks drinking the vanilla extract has got to be my favorite.
posted by bondcliff at 1:40 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Television when I was a child was nothing but traumas. When the cast of Emergency wasn't sawing some kid's arm off in a weird little arm tent they were trying to put out Bobby Troup, one of the show's doctors, who had somehow managed to catch fire. And the teevee movies all seemed to be things like Bad Ronald, or Helter Skelter, or Duel, or Born Innocent, which was just abuse, abuse, abuse.

Jesus. I have to go back and watch those movies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dragnet beat them all to it in 1967. I'll always remember this episode, because it had Joe Friday, who was normally Mr. Ice Cold Detective Guy, jumping out of his skin when he spotted the refrigerator in the open garage. Spoiler alert: The kid isn't actually in the fridge, but we all learn an important lesson.

Oh man, when I was 11 Nick@Nite started rerunning Dragnet. The first episode was one about this kid who took acid, painted himself blue, called himself "Blueboy" and jumped off a building. It completely traumatized me. It was around the same time as the network-airing of the Beatles anthology, and I'd been pretty obsessed with the Beatles, reading lots of non-fiction about them. I decided then and there that, even though John Lennon wrote lots of good music on LSD, I would never do acid--even though weed didn't sound too bad.

Oddly, I stuck to that. Never did drop acid, despite having several opportunities. Never really thought about it, but maybe it was because of Blueboy? Television sure can have a strange impact on one's life.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the problem with the "Just Say No" take is that when kids finally tried drugs, they'd not only have crappy information on them, but it's pretty easy to realize you've been lied to by the "Just Say No" people.
posted by drezdn at 1:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yet yeah, the mime on LHOTH made my 8-year-old self scratch my head a bit.

Little House On The Hairy? Perhaps you were watching the (disturbing) porn parody.
posted by Edgewise at 1:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just to make me feel less creeped out...could someone please tell me there was an episode of Twin Peaks where the whole gang goes out for milkshakes and Leland Palmer learns a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas?

Or an episode of Oz where Adebisi accidentally breaks McManus's window playing baseball, then feels guilty when the Aryans get blamed for it?
posted by PlusDistance at 1:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Was anyone else traumatized by the Alf episode with the giant bug?
posted by drezdn at 1:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there an episode of The Facts of Life where they smoke weed? I swear I remember an episode where they had a bong or a Hookah.

Oh yeah. The 80s radio show I listen to every morning often plays a clip from that episode: "Guess what we got at the record store, Mrs. Garrett! Three bongs!" "I've never heard of that group. Are they punk rock?" (Poor little Tootie had been told by the cool girls who had a bong that it was used to keep jelly beans in. Natalie said that she was going to put root beer in hers--"it has a built-in straw!")

None of "our" girls actually smoked the weed, although Blair came close (she was holding). The cool girls invented for this episode did, and were expelled.

It was actually a pretty decent episode for an anti-drug one--no one went crazy or was painted as a degenerate, as far as I remember--they just were thrown out of school, and by god, that actually happens and in my book is worth a warning.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:44 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I learned what abortion was from a short-lived sitcom named Joe's World. I still remember the line "When a kid gets a free ticket to this world, you're not the one to take it away", or something to that effect.

Sadly, the show never made it through its 3rd trimester.
posted by bondcliff at 1:48 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I certainly thought of the serial-killer Facts of Life ep as a horror-movie satire rather than a Very Special--but there WAS another episode that fit the Very Special criteria for the attacking of women. I don't remember it too clearly, but Natalie was wearing a Charlie Chaplin costume when she was grabbed by a rapist who was terrorizing the community. I think the attacker heard voices coming and let her go before it could go any further, but what she got was scary enough and she had a bit of PTSD after, I think (not that there was really a name for it then). The show ended with martial arts training for the girls (again, not a bad idea).
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:48 PM on March 16, 2011


> The cool girls invented for this episode did, and were expelled.

That was a recurring theme. The Cosby show had a friend of a friend of Theo's that stuck a joint in Theo's textbook. One of Arnold's friend's friends brought a bottle of booze to the penthouse in Diffrnt Strokes, and so on. Let's demonize those other people and keep our familiar characters untainted.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


This might have also been about the time where all major sitcoms had major unexpected plot twists, where all of a sudden the female lead gets held hostage by a gorilla, et cetera.

I could have sworn that happened on Diff'rent Strokes to Dana Plato.

And who can forget the episode of Webster where he "accidentally" burns down their apartment building with his chemistry set? If I were Papadapolis, I think I would've traded the little firebug in for a less destructive model.

I remember that one quite clearly. It scared me a lot. The problem with my childhood was an overabundance of "children start fires" news stories and fire prevention education. I remember being so confused about what could start a fire that I drove Mom crazy with "Could X start a fire, even if it was wet?" questions.
posted by Calzephyr at 1:51 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I've said this before, but when I was a kid I was just absolutely floored by the scene in Teen Wolf where this guy and this girl get tied up together and covered in whipped cream, and they're just writhing around there on the floor while the whole high school laughs at them and no-one does anything about it. Photographic evidence here. Honestly I still can't figure it out.
posted by creasy boy at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My Two Dads, where the two dads catch their daughter sneaking a little beer for a little buzz and proceed to make her watch as they drink themselves insensate to teach her a lesson.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was also the episode of Family Ties where Alex takes speed. And the episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Aire where Carlton mistakes some of Wil's pills for vitamins and takes them, and they are actually speed! (obviously some pusher had given them to Wil and he decided not to take them)
posted by Ad hominem at 1:53 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


From the "repressed memories" link: Footnote: Long before any of this would have happened, I remember when Edith Bunker was nearly raped on "All in the Family" like it was yesterday. I was 10 in 1977 watching it with my mom in our living room in Madison Heights, Michigan, and at one point -- realizing this was one of those "special episodes" they used to have back then -- she said to me, "Do you know what rape is?" and I said, "No." (I watched nothing but "adult" television back then and probably didn't get half of it, but still loved every minute of it.) I remember her saying it was "when someone forces you to have sex against your will." (I understood then.) The oddest part about that conversation though, as I don't know how it even came to this, was that at some point my mom, perhaps putting herself in Edith's shoes and being terrified (I read Norman Lear tried to get Bonnie Franklin's character on "One Day at a Time" to take on the storyline, but she refused because it was too upsetting) said that if someone ever broke into our house and tried to rape her, all she would want is for us four kids to be placed in "another room" while he did it. A protective mother bear kind of thought she just sort of let slip out, something that's stayed with me for 32 years.

I have to say that I watched this episode on youtube a few months ago and still find it unbelievably terrifying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2011


I could have sworn that happened on Diff'rent Strokes to Dana Plato.

Yeah, Arnold and Kimberly were hitch-hiking (*gasp*!) and got held by some crazy dude.

Can someone confirm something for me, was there an episode of Eight is Enough where Nicholas burns the house down with a soldering iron?
posted by bondcliff at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about the creepy Little House episode where Caroline decides to amputate her own leg because she is delerious from an infection and thinks that the Bible has told her to?
"Cut off thine own leg if it offendith thee." Or something like that.
That was by far the creepiest Little House episode I ever watched.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Was that episode of Family Ties the same one where Courteney Cox gets killed?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2011


Also (this thread is awesome), didn't one of the kids on Valerie's Family burn down the house with a match that wasn't blown out, and kill their mother? That scared me off going near a match for years, and I still put them out in the sink.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are my VSE contributions, brought to you through the power of Aging!

On One Day at a Time, Bonnie Franklin's character has a crush on the handy man. She tries to get him to go out with her or snort coke in the hot tub or whatever, and he rebuffs her several times. Finally she confronts him, and he tells her he's gay. And that's the day I found out what 'gay' means.

I also vaguely remember a Growing Pains where Tracey Gold's character had an eating disorder, but this may not have actually happened, as Tracey Gold actually had an eating disorder in real life, and I may be confabulating those storylines.
posted by Mister_A at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know how Fox has an odd way of counting Simpsons episodes? They refuse to count a couple of them, making the numbering of episodes inconsistent. The reason for this is a lost episode from season 1. Finding details about this missing episode is difficult, no one who was working on the show at the time likes to talk about it.
posted by clarknova at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


A lot of the time - my memory is mostly of cartoons in this respect but I'm sure it happened on live-action shows as well - the Very Special drug episode would involve the introduction and subsequent death of a character via overdose, just to drive home the message that this shit was serious, since no one ever dies in a cartoon. Also very often the drug dealer would be shown as just the most heinous villain and even the show's regular bad guys were like, "No way, even I'm not that evil!"

See also: the Dragnet episode where Blue Boy somehow overdoses on LSD. What I mostly remember about that episode was the drugs it mostly singled out were acid, pot and heroin. You saw a lot of this in the eighties too: pot was something done by degenerate wastrels. I guess it makes sense that they couldn't very well go around saying "Just say no! But mostly to specific drugs because honestly pot is as close to harmless as a drug is going to be. Unless you're like driving or going to work or something, then you should probably hold off."

Doesn't fit on a tee-shirt as easily, I suppose.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Speaking of the Brady Bunch and serial killers, there was the episode where Bobby (I think it was Bobby) was obsessed with Jesse James for a while.

What cures him of his hero worship was imagining himself hanging out with James during a train robbery. But all his family is on the train and James just guns them all down in cold blood while Bobby looks horrified.

It's not particularly scary but I remember thinking, even as a kid, "WTF". Was a very odd interruption in the usual saccharine flow.

(The tiki was also kinda scary. In my college days, the girlfriend brought home a tiki mask and I had to think twice before hanging it on the wall.)
posted by honestcoyote at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and maybe this is a bit more positive, but I learned about erections from Roseanne.

In fact, once I asked my husband if he used to hide his boners behind books in middle school. He had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently he missed that episode, with that helpful tip.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:58 PM on March 16, 2011


OMG, that "Little House on the Prairie" episode! The one and only episode I've ever seen was that one. I didn't even realize (until now) that she was raped. Back story: Despite being a little girl in a small town during the show's heyday I never watched it. Never read the books either...I just thought they were boring and stupid and girly. So one night I have a friend stay over, and she loves the show and doesn't want to miss it. So we watch it, and it scares the crap out of us.

Later, my little brother took the white plastic hamper lid and made a mime mask out of it, sneaked up on us in the dark, and jumped out and yelled "boo!" That reminds me...I need to go shopping for a drum kit for my nephew's birthday...
posted by JoanArkham at 1:59 PM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Duel

Hell, that was Steven Spielberg's first feature, a low-budget thriller. How could it NOT be terrifying?
A cynic might say it's the only good movie he's made.
posted by msalt at 1:59 PM on March 16, 2011


Whoa, two unrelated mentions of Bonnie Franklin! We've reached Maximum Franklin! The Franklinarity approaches!
posted by Mister_A at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


That episode of All in the Family where Edith gets raped has always stood out to me a sign that that show was far ahead of it's time. All in the Family was able to masterfully present situations that were unheard of in the television culture of that time.
posted by dchrssyr at 2:06 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


And then there's Maude.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, I do remember Sylvia.

(It also wasn't completely clear to me whether Sylvia died at the end, and I was even more puzzled; why would something like that actually KILL her?)

I remember feeling like it was unclear, too, but the reason she died (and yes, she did) wasn't directly from the rape--it was because she was trying to escape the rapist, who went after her AGAIN when she was sleeping in an old barn, waiting for Albert to run away with her. She climbed up the hayloft ladder and then fell all the way to the floor when it broke. I assume she died of internal injuries from the fall.

I remember being interested in this ep in a morbid sense because damn it, I learned about rape before I learned about sex (that's what learning to read at age 3 and finding women's magazines in the 1970s more interesting than children's literature does for you).

The thing that's driving me crazy now, though, is that there was another, fairly short-lived TV show from the early 80s that was set in "olden times" and an episode of that show used the same kind of storyline! I remember this because I vividly remember telling my father "this is just like the Sylvia case" (child of a social worker showing her roots). The only other thing I remember about that show is a little African-American boy named Booker T.--I thought that was a funny name and my parents had to explain to me about Booker T. Washington. Does ANYONE else remember this show, and could tell me its name? The internet is failing me.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was anyone else traumatized by the Alf episode with the giant bug?

Wasn't that 'Naked Lunch'?
posted by FatherDagon at 2:10 PM on March 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


You know how Fox has an odd way of counting Simpsons episodes? They refuse to count a couple of them, making the numbering of episodes inconsistent. The reason for this is a lost episode from season 1. Finding details about this missing episode is difficult, no one who was working on the show at the time likes to talk about it.

It would be a lot more believable if you didn't pretty much lift the phrasing of this from a gazillion threads on the internet rebutting it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Let's not forget the episode of Growing Pains where Carol's boyfriend, Chandler Bing, dies from injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shepherd: This was the first chink in the armour -- the revelation that people could overinterpret and misinterpret and turn worship into something sodden and grotesque -- that eventually turned me into an atheist.

Ooooh this.
posted by JHarris at 2:18 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


OH HELL I HAD SUCCESSFULLY FORGOTTEN ABOUT THIS FOR ALL THOSE YEARS BUT NOW I CAN'T NOT REMEMBER IT AGAIN
posted by jbickers at 2:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread is win from start to finish. I get nearly every reference made here.

I guess I watched a lot of TV growing up.
posted by JHarris at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2011


Oh hey and remember that time on G. I. Joe where Shipwreck was all "hey, Roadblock!" and then Roadblock's FUCKING FACE MELTED OFF?

That whole two-parter was dosed with some serious upfuckedness. A little bit later, Shipwreck's friends all try to kill him and then melt into horrible monsters as well. Earlier: hallucinogenic psychological torture. Later: more psychotic torture stuff.

By the time the scene where Shipwreck takes his time choking and reverse-roofieing a nurse while two parrots battle and one melts, it almost feels normal.

I haven't seen a bit of that episode in probably twenty five years, and I caught it out of context, and every goddam one of those freakydeek moments was apparently crystallized in my mind at the time because I've been carrying it around ever since.

But at least people always ejected in time!
posted by cortex at 2:23 PM on March 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


Oh man, when I was 11 Nick@Nite started rerunning Dragnet. The first episode was one about this kid who took acid

I remember one Dragnet episode where they interrogated a guy coming down off heroin. Joe Friday offered him coffee, and the junkie politely declined. Friday said, "Better take it. You're going to want it in a little while anyway."

And I'm thinking, "He's going to need a whole fuck of a lot more than coffee..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2011


Lots of these kinds of episodes from the late 90s, too, during the time of that Clinton-era PSA/payola thing.
posted by box at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Candle Cove, anyone?
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 2:31 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm so excited! I'm so excited. I'm so... scared!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:34 PM on March 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


Oh man! "There's No Place Like Springfield parts 1 and 2" were pretty much the only G.I. Joe episodes worth watching!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:35 PM on March 16, 2011


That episode of All in the Family where Edith gets raped has always stood out to me a sign that that show was far ahead of it's time.

I apologize for hairsplitting, because I absolutely agree with you that AitF was ahead of its time, but Edith doesn't actually get raped (although she does suffer from what we now recognize as PTSD in the aftermath of her escape). She manages to physically fight off her attacker -- by pushing her burned birthday cake into his face and pushing him down the basement stairs -- and flee the house.

I think I was 10, maybe 11, when this episode first aired, and it made such an impression on me that now, 30 years later, whenever I happen to catch this episode, my pulse speeds up like a hummingbird every time Edith and the would-be rapist see the smoke pouring out of the kitchen. And the way the audience cheers and roars when she runs out of the house, screaming Archie's name, still makes me cry like a goddamned baby.
posted by bakerina at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


I learned two things from 80's sitcoms/cartoons:

1)"drugs" are bad. If you take "drugs", you will inevitably die in terrible but unspecified ways.

2) Later, I discovered that all authority figures (including and especially the First Lady) are totally full of shit.
posted by Avenger at 2:45 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mork from Ork Vs. the KKK
posted by ColdChef at 2:46 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


She manages to physically fight off her attacker -- by pushing her burned birthday cake into his face and pushing him down the basement stairs -- and flee the house.

It is a sign of how awful our house is that my wife and I use "This is gonna happen, lady!" as a short-hand when a crappy job needs to be done.
posted by yerfatma at 2:47 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


On One Day at a Time, Bonnie Franklin's character has a crush on the handy man. She tries to get him to go out with her or snort coke in the hot tub or whatever, and he rebuffs her several times. Finally she confronts him, and he tells her he's gay. And that's the day I found out what 'gay' means.

Schneider?!?
posted by Challahtronix at 2:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


It wasn't a TV sitcom that scarred me -

Does anyone remember a made-for-TV movie called "Adam?" None of my friends do. Apparently I'm the only person who has ever seen this.

It was based on real life events, where a little boy was kidnapped from a store and killed. My family had me watch it to teach me about Stranger Danger, I suppose.

Oh god. I was so totally scarred. Until then - at the ripe old age of 5, maybe? - it had never ever crossed my mind in any way that adults could be BAD. That they could hurt children - let alone cut off their heads (I very specifically remember that part of the TV movie, them talking about finding his head). I used to be the sort of kid that wouldn't go to sleep. I'd jump on the bed, play with my toys.

Oh man. After that? I slept with the blankets over my head, rigid with fear. For YEARS. In fact, 25 years later (obviously not scared of the dark anymore, or Stranger Danger. Well. Not much at least) I'll wake up in the morning with the blankets up around my head and nothing but my nose sticking out. It's ingrained.

Does anyone else remember this show?
posted by Windigo at 2:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I totally remember that movie, Windigo. Adam's father was the guy who hosted America's Most Wanted.
posted by nushustu at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2011


> Does anyone remember a made-for-TV movie called "Adam?"

Of course. It was harrowing when the parents received the call that Adam's head was found in a ditch.

That was Adam Walsh. His father John went on to host America's Most Wanted.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a VSE, but traumatizing: the Punky Brewster 2-part Halloween episode "Perils of Punky," in which part 1 ends with kids' faces frozen into a rock wall.

I never saw part 2. My born-again mother was so upset by the first part (we watched it together) that she made me (Why me? Why was this a lesson for me? Not sure.) write a letter to the network condemning their programming choices. I remember starting it and not finishing it.
posted by HeroZero at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think this thread deserves to be discussed in the next MeFi podcast!
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adam is also the reason most bigger stores have a "Code Adam" sign. There is some sort of announcement made when a kid goes missing in a store. I've seen it happen once, clerks go to each door and keep an eye on things.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 2:52 PM on March 16, 2011


They existed before the 80s too. Here's a very old one from my early childhood, where Sissy on Family Affair goes off and becomes a . . . hippie! And when she comes back she doesn't even care that Buffy's sick! She's doing drugs and, even worse, wearing a psychedelic minidress. Fortunately, Mr. French sorts it all out and Sissy realizes the error of her ways. I was like 4 when I saw that and yet I have never forgotten it. Apparently I'm not alone - it wasn't hard to find on Youtube. Wasn't there a Brady Bunch where Marcia went off and became a hippie too or have I blended them both together?
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:54 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


There was a de facto VSE when Greg Brady was actually stoned.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:56 PM on March 16, 2011


As "special episodes" go, there was also Tom Hanks as alcoholic Uncle Ned ("you just drank a whole bottle of vanilla extract!") in Family Ties.

Brings to mind Jim Carrey's role as the alcoholic brother, Tim Carter, on the 1992 made-for-television drama film, Doing Time on Maple Drive.
posted by ericb at 2:57 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always wanted my own Mr. French when I was growing up.
posted by perhapses at 2:58 PM on March 16, 2011


The film was indeed called Adam.
posted by cortex at 2:58 PM on March 16, 2011


I hated Gimme a Break! but the one with the Chief's gay partner ("The Chief's Gay Evening") really stuck with me for a long time. Also, "Joey's Train" after the Chief (Dolph Sweet) died.

And for non-traditional very special episodes the Newsradio episode ("Bill Moves On") after Phil Hartman died is top-notch.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


The bigger question is why don't they do this now? I want my children traumatized too, damnit.

Problem solved. As a start, plop them on the floor in front of the 'box' to watch: Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant and Real World Las Vegas.
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was surprised that I'd never seen that episode of Facts of Life until I saw that it was from the lame (ie, after I'd started high school) later seasons of the show. No Mrs Garrett?!

Anyway, what I remember about the FOL VSE where the girls smoke weed is Blair thinking she's getting all these great ideas for a school paper and writing them down, and then the next day they make no sense whatsoever.
Which wouldn't turn out to be my experience with getting high and getting all these great ideas AT ALL, no sir.
posted by Flashman at 3:08 PM on March 16, 2011


...my memory is mostly of cartoons in this respect but I'm sure it happened on live-action shows as well - the Very Special drug episode would involve the introduction and subsequent death of a character via overdose...

Like, for example, this episode of Bravestarr, which is exceptionally dark. Truly a high point in animated moralizing.
posted by milquetoast at 3:16 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cortex: "Oh hey and remember that time on G. I. Joe where Shipwreck was all "hey, Roadblock!" and then Roadblock's FUCKING FACE MELTED OFF?"

To this day, whenever someone asks about a hot weather day, my brother and I will inevitably quote Roadblock: "Sure was toasty!"

Here's another repressed Facts of Life memory: Tootie becomes a model, and the photographer wants to over-sexualize her in her photo shoot. The money quote that haunts me to this day:

"You want me to be sexy, but I haven't even kissed a boy yet!"

I'm so sorry.
posted by Exploding Gutbuster at 3:18 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was actually thinking about sitcom history earlier today, before this thread was posted. What made me think of it was last night's episode of Glee, where two boys kissed. Happily and repeatedly. And for some reason I remembered the Valerie's Family episode where the Jason Bateman character brings home some condoms in a brown paper bag, and of course his mom discovered them. Very Special Episode indeed -- I remember all the fuss before the show aired, and there being talk of some affiliates refusing to air it.

Thinking about what a big deal that was, and how the Glee kiss doesn't seem to be on the front page of any of today's papers, made me realize how far we've come, and how grateful I am for it. Even if we're not all the way there, at least there's been progress.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:22 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


In re Adam: Never saw the TV movie, but it sure made an impression on my parents because they would always threaten me when we went to the mall that if I didn't stay near them that a stranger might grab me and cut off my head and that they would find my head in a ditch and it would be blue. The part where it would be blue scared the shit out of me when I was five, more than the head getting cut off itself for some reason. I vividly remember looking out the car window at ditches next to the road and imagine a blue head inside.
posted by Falconetti at 3:22 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Probably the most traumatic Very Special Episode-type thing from my childhood was a prototype Stranger Danger film that we saw as part of a program in our church basement. It featured two girls who were lured into a car by a stranger with candy (yes) and their naked, bloody bodies are found in a ditch later. I had no idea of what rape was at the time, but I was still horrified at the fact that they were stripped in public as well as killed. Our car radio was playing Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie" as we left, and for years afterward, I would have a terrifying flashback when I heard that song. (I'm OK with it now, though.) I also saw the episode of Dragnet which had the tripping hippies forgetting about the baby in the bathtub (which was used later in Trainspotting); dirty fucking hippies were considered a serious menace back then.

The first time that I remember sexual assault being portrayed on TV was the Linda Blair movie Born Innocent, in which her fellow inmates rape her with a toilet plunger handle. Big scandal at the time, as there wasn't any warning beforehand of what the audience would see. Plus, of course, the body cavity searches.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:22 PM on March 16, 2011


Wasn't there something on Facts of Life about Jo and the KKK? I only remember a little tiny fragment.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:32 PM on March 16, 2011


Also (this thread is awesome), didn't one of the kids on 'Valerie's Family' burn down the house with a match that wasn't blown out, and kill their mother?

Exeunt, ("kill her off") Valerie Harper (due to a squabble with NBC's Brandon Tartikoff and her later successful lawsuit against the network for breach of contract). Her character's death was due to a car accident. You are thinking of the transition event that led to: Enter, Sandy Duncan and the renamed show, 'Valerie's Family: The Hogan Family' and then just 'The Hogan Family.'

"The season's third episode, 'Burned Out' (aired October 5, 1987), helped better explain the family's grief following Valerie's death. In that episode, a lamp stored in the attic develops a short circuit, sparking a fire that badly damages the house. While many keepsakes and mementos of the family's were destroyed in the attic and second floor, the piece that had the greatest emotional effect was a charred framed photo of Valerie. David found it in his room while the fire damage was being inspected, and immediately broke down in tears. Sandy comes into the room to comfort him, and as the scene changes, it is presumed that the two shared their grief for Valerie. The Hogans, meanwhile, stay with the Pooles while their home is repaired. The episode had a commercial tie-in with the McDonalds Corporation, who financed the expenses accrued in damaging the set for the fire. As a sponsor that evening, McDonald's commercials aired promoting fire safety." *
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tootie becomes a model, and the photographer wants to over-sexualize her in her photo shoot. The money quote that haunts me to this day:

"The wig IS the wardrobe!"

Also, was I do the only one who heard the plot that kicked this thread off as something that actually happened to J(i)m J. Bullock in real life, as opposed to his character?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:36 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lots of these kinds of episodes from the late 90s, too, during the time of that Clinton-era PSA/payola thing.

Wow, interesting....

Probably the most traumatic Very Special Episode-type thing from my childhood was a prototype Stranger Danger film that we saw as part of a program in our church basement.

I saw a fair number of these videos myself, although they were all about how Satanists were everywhere. Really, everywhere. Being an atheist now, I guess the real lesson here is: don't lie to people, or when the lie is discovered they will immediately examine everything you told them as suspect.

On nominating this for discussion on the podcast: we can do that? If so I second it.
posted by JHarris at 3:36 PM on March 16, 2011


omg. I have never seen any of these horrific things, which I attribute to the fact that I am older than most of you, and spent the entire 80s decade responsibly drinking and doing hard drugs — which was apparently much more mentally healthy for me than staying home and watching trauma-tv! Yikes!
posted by taz at 3:39 PM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


On nominating this for discussion on the podcast: we can do that?

Sure you can do that. Do it as much as you want. Just waste your life nominating. You know where it'll get you?

IN A DITCH WITH YOUR HEAD CUT OFF AND TURNED ALL BLUE AND THEN YOU GO THROUGH A CAR WASH AND YOUR FACE MELTS. THAT'S WHERE.
posted by cortex at 3:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [26 favorites]


What about the Diff'rent Strokes where Dudley ends up in a bathtub in some weird guys apartment watching dirty cartoons...classic.

Behold: The Bicycle Man. Made extra creepy because the Bicycle Man is Gordon Jump.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:44 PM on March 16, 2011


And for some reason I remembered the Valerie's Family episode where the Jason Bateman character brings home some condoms in a brown paper bag, and of course his mom discovered them. Very Special Episode indeed -- I remember all the fuss before the show aired, and there being talk of some affiliates refusing to air it.

Yep.
"In the episode 'Bad Timing,' which first aired February 7, 1987, David and a former girlfriend debate whether to have sex. The episode featured the first prime-time use of the word condom. Parental discretion warnings were issued in ads for the episode. The episode was later released to home video, especially for teachers and health educators to use as a tool to promote safe sex."*
Albany TV station cancels NBC show over condom issue.

New sex mores are chilling TV ardor.
posted by ericb at 3:48 PM on March 16, 2011


2) Later, I discovered that all authority figures (including and especially the First Lady) are totally full of shit.
posted by Avenger at 5:45 PM on March 16 [+] [!] No other comments.


Yup. And I and all of the rest of this generation's middle school teachers thank you for it, '80s.

Bitch.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Remember that episode where Scrappy Doo fell into the wood chipper? No? Well you should. 'Cause fuck that shit. More like Scrappy Don't, you ask me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:00 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


You are all engaging in an elaborate hoax, and I'm not following any of your links so that I can continue to believe that.
posted by Zed at 4:05 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Remember that episode where Scrappy Doo fell into the wood chipper?

Yes. Fondly. It was wonderful.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:09 PM on March 16, 2011


It's right up there with the episode where Albert is working through a heroin addiction, and Michael Landon helps him through withdrawal.

Albert had a good excuse for self-medicating. Not only was his girlfriend Sylvia raped and killed, his irresponsible pipe-smoking led to the deaths of Mrs. Garvey and Mary's baby.
posted by Knappster at 4:13 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's right up there with the episode where Albert is working through a heroin addiction, and Michael Landon helps him through withdrawal.

Ugh, I vividly remember the vomit from that episode.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:19 PM on March 16, 2011


Why was it white??
posted by mudpuppie at 4:19 PM on March 16, 2011


I'm failing googling here, but wasn't there an episode of Growing Pains where Mike Seaver is up in the middle of the night because he can't sleep, and he gets himself some warm milk (or maybe buttermilk?) from the fridge, and he's all talking to himself hilariously about how he doesn't even like warm milk but his stomach does so thanks a lot you weird stomach or something like that, and then OH HEY IT'S DEAD GRANDPA'S GHOST WHAT
posted by cortex at 4:25 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I seem to remember something similar in a Three's Company episode involving a pencil, or did I just imagine that?
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 4:26 PM on March 16, 2011


disturbing memories this post dredged up:

-an episode of "Highway to Heaven" where the water supply in a town is black sludge, and children are getting sick and dying, and maybe one of the main characters died too
-an episode of "Hunter" where McCall is raped
-an episode of a LAPD cop show where a kid who got AIDs from a blood transfusion on a ride-along with the cops. At the end of the episode, the cops get a call that the kid died. The end.

Need to dig this stuff up on youtube.
posted by scottjlowe at 4:26 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did someone mention the roach episode of ALF?
posted by Servo5678 at 4:27 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


but wasn't there an episode of Growing Pains where Mike Seaver is up in the middle of the night because he can't sleep, and he gets himself some warm milk (or maybe buttermilk?) from the fridge

It was a banana. It was a natural food item perfectly designed by God to fit in his hand and mouth. Like other items with similar qualities. This was revealed to him in a dream sequence by his close friend Boner. IIRC
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:41 PM on March 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Is it wrong that "raped by a mime" made me laugh hysterically in refusal to believe that this could in fact have been real?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


The only other thing I remember about that show is a little African-American boy named Booker T.--I thought that was a funny name and my parents had to explain to me about Booker T. Washington. Does ANYONE else remember this show, and could tell me its name? The internet is failing me.

Palmerstown, USA? (AKA Palmerstown) Created by Alex Haley (Roots)
posted by Sparx at 5:09 PM on March 16, 2011


Good Times had an episode where a kid in their apartment building, played by a very young Janet Jackson, has ben abused by her Mother (I think Mom might have been an alcoholic?). She takes off her shirt to try on something Thelma made for her and there are big scorched iron marks on her back.

And on Happy Days, Joanie started wearing leather jackets and mini-skirts, and Fonz and Richie have to save her from some grabby guys trying to sexually assault her, whereupon Fonz offers up this memorable line, "if you put out an advertisement, someone's gonna answer your ad!" Message: girls who dress slutty totally deserve geting raped!
posted by misha at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


omg i didn't imagine any of it. this is the greatest thread in the history of threads ever.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:17 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


you know uh

I'm not the kind of guy to get all high and mighty over not owning a TV?

but this thread makes me feel very lucky about it
posted by LogicalDash at 5:53 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if you had a television, Dash, you'd be too young to see these on when they were actually shown.
posted by flatluigi at 6:04 PM on March 16, 2011


Truly, truly outrageous!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:07 PM on March 16, 2011


The Granddaddy of them all?

"And Now a Word from Our Sponsor" from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

The year? 1959!
posted by MichaelJoelHall at 6:15 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I'm slightly too young to remember most of the crazy 70's/80's sitcom episodes, but the GI Joe episode with the dude turning to white goop was instantly recognizable. And then the guy behind him with the yellow band... it was like weird deja vu.

Of course, I remember the Fresh Prince episode where Carleton takes speed and ends up in the hospital but that was much later.

Anyone remember the Fresh Prince episode where Will's mom (or dad?) abandons him again and he breaks down and cries in Uncle Phil's arms?
posted by sixohsix at 6:18 PM on March 16, 2011


Oh, Helen, you should know better than to trust that Scotty Palmer fellow from Hardbodies.
posted by bondcliff at 6:20 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone tell my why I just read "Dead Bart" "creepypasta" before going to bed. That was a bad idea.
posted by sixohsix at 6:22 PM on March 16, 2011


Someone tell my why I just read "Dead Bart" "creepypasta" before going to bed. That was a bad idea.

. . . definitely don't search for "dead bart" on youtube, then.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:22 PM on March 16, 2011


Anyone remember the Fresh Prince episode where Will's mom (or dad?) abandons him again and he breaks down and cries in Uncle Phil's arms?

Here is the scene
posted by Ad hominem at 6:27 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I recall being freaked out by more than one Fantasy Island episode when I watched it as kid in the late 70s.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I truly believe that the LHOTP Albert-on-drugs episode with all the vomiting--teamed with an anti-drug movie I saw during a PTA meeting ("Dead Is Dead") that also showed a drug user vomiting copiously--are in large part responsible for the fact that I have never touched an illegal drug. Hell, I never smoked a cigarette, didn't have a drink until I was 25, and even now have never had more than two drinks at a time. Substance use = vomiting. I don't need that shit.

Train your kids early!
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Facts of Life" cast reunite for TVLand awards.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:18 PM on March 16, 2011


Never did drop acid, despite having several opportunities.

I did, but it was a basement window so all I suffered was grass stains which I spent the rest of the envening conversing with.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 PM on March 16, 2011


Oh wow, FAMOUS MONSTER, thank you for that post. I saw the same TV shows as a child and had no idea and for my whole life just assumed the same magical physics. Now I feel like one of those people who is 30 and believes unicorns are real.
posted by phoenixy at 7:29 PM on March 16, 2011


Let's not forget Something About Amelia, starring Glenn Close as Oblivious Mom and Ted Danson as Incest Dad.

The best part? Once the incest is revealed, the resolution is that the mom and dad and Amelia all go to group therapy a lot. He continues to live in the house with Amelia. No criminal charges. Just group therapy with other fathers who raped their daughters, and the moms who didn't believe it.

Yay, 80s message movies!
posted by tzikeh at 7:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I never did like that Ted Danson
posted by Sailormom at 7:51 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


They existed before the 80s too. Here's a very old one from my early childhood, where Sissy on Family Affair goes off and becomes a . . . hippie! And when she comes back she doesn't even care that Buffy's sick! She's doing drugs and, even worse, wearing a psychedelic minidress. Fortunately, Mr. French sorts it all out and Sissy realizes the error of her ways. I was like 4 when I saw that and yet I have never forgotten it. Apparently I'm not alone - it wasn't hard to find on Youtube.

Well now there's no way I'm not linking to the Voice Farm spoken-word piece "Ode to Buffy"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:55 PM on March 16, 2011


I showed a non-MeFite friend the post about the Adam movie, since I knew he'd been similarly scarred as a child by it. He responded with this link, which is the actual parking lot shown in the TV movie where the kidnapping takes place - seeing that it was an actual location helped him calm down that part of himself that was still traumatized years later. The scene in question is in here, about a minute in.
posted by wanderingmind at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2011


You do realize that Buffy came to a rather sad end, right?
posted by jonmc at 8:14 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, nobody has reminisced yet about the episode of Good Times where JJ is literally, actually shot?
posted by bardic at 8:52 PM on March 16, 2011


Wasn't there an episode of Benson where there was a murderer killing off the cast one by one? I distinctly remember loving this show when I was little (younger than 6) and I stopped watching it because that episode scared the beejeezus out of me. IIRC, the murderer cut the power in the governor's mansion and stabbed his victims.
posted by Fuego at 8:58 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: I think you're looking for this episode of Growing Pains.

To bring this full circle, Dead Grandpa was played by Gordon Jump, as pointed out earlier, making his star turn as the bike shop owner in that VSE of Different Strokes.

Playing both episodes at once may cause an interdimensional rift causing Earth to be overrun by RapeMimes on drugs.
posted by dr_dank at 9:09 PM on March 16, 2011


Back to the TCFC episode, here's a nice catalog of Rape Is OK When It Is Female On Male from TV Tropes. (To be absolutely clear, neither TV Tropes nor I endorse that idea, but do acknowledge that the trope exists, with far too many examples.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:21 PM on March 16, 2011


I think there was more than one episode of the Brady Bunch that freaked me out, but the Hawaii one was right up there.

There was also a Family Ties episode where Mike got hooked on diet pills (speed?) and missed an important test. But because his parents were ex-hippies he really didn't get punished for it, if I remember correctly.

And that Adam movie? Scared the crap out of me and made me a teensy bit overprotective of my kids.
posted by patheral at 9:26 PM on March 16, 2011


Television when I was a child was nothing but traumas.

I was just regaling my wife with a synopsis of a scary TV movie that totally traumatized my sister back in the eighties. I've only seen bits and pieces of the movie myself, but between my sister's memories of a murderous girl and a pizza cutter and my own scattered recollections, I managed to get her well and truly freaked out before bed. Haha, scaredy-wife! Scaredy-wife!

Then I looked it up on the Wikipedia - I knew it starred Dennis Weaver, who meets a grisly end involving a bath tub and a radio - and fucking god damn it was fucking worse than I remember and now I'm truly freaked out before bed, and don't want to have to go outside to smoke.

GOD DAMN YOU APTLY NAMED '80S TRAUMA MOVIE
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:52 PM on March 16, 2011


OH FUCK EVEN THE CHAPTER STILLS ON YOUTUBE ARE SCARY
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:53 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talking about anti-drug messages in TV shows, does anyone else remember the time a guy tried to turn one of Charlie's Angels into a heroin addict?
posted by hanov3r at 10:17 PM on March 16, 2011


This one time on BJ and the Bear, this dude...wait. The entire show and its premise was the scary part, right?
posted by maxwelton at 10:26 PM on March 16, 2011


I still cannot look at a bottle of vanilla extract without thinking about drinking it and getting TV drunk.
posted by gofargogo at 10:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like, for example, this episode of Bravestarr , which is exceptionally dark. Truly a high point in animated moralizing.

That's exactly what I was thinking of, hilariously enough.

The mother's anguished scream kind of stayed with me for a while, though it didn't disturb me so much as I thought it was funny as shit. It was like if Daffy Duck just stopped whatever he was doing and directly addressed the audience about the importance of getting tested for genital herpes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:39 PM on March 16, 2011


I feel like I know far too many people my age who first learned what a seizure was from that episode of Diff'rent Strokes where the mime (clown?) has one at the park.
posted by corey flood at 11:14 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny about the "trying to stuff a marshmallow into a parking meter"... Just heard this tonight, in the Errol Morris film "Tabloid" at SXSW Film. A screening that was in fact attended by Joyce McKinney, the subject of the film who was accused of kidnapping and raping a man in 1970's London. She arrived at the screening with a pit bull for a service dog and driving a Rascal-type scooter with a large banner reading "ERROL MORRIS' FILM "TABLOID" IS A HOAX" (set in Comic Sans, no less) taped to the back of the scooter's seat. She muttered loudly throughout the film, but nobody complained once they realized who it was. (Tip: Google this film and click on any blog post or review link, then scroll down to the comments. Just, wow. Pardon the derail.)
posted by shecky57 at 11:31 PM on March 16, 2011


Probably the most traumatic Very Special Episode-type thing from my childhood was a prototype Stranger Danger film that we saw as part of a program in our church basement. It featured two girls who were lured into a car by a stranger with candy (yes) and their naked, bloody bodies are found in a ditch later. I had no idea of what rape was at the time, but I was still horrified at the fact that they were stripped in public as well as killed.
This was called The Child Molester and was produced by Highway Films. I saw it in the third grade and I didn't know what "molesting" meant, I just thought it meant murdering little kids. I was scared to death for months after seeing that film - I was sure some man was going to break into our house during the night to murder me. Those bodies shown at the end were actual police film footage of two girls murdered by Jerrel Ray Howell in a Mansfield, Ohio, park.

Speaking (above) about the Sylvia episode of Little House, I always wondered where the heck her attacker got that spooky mask. Oleson's Mercantile was the only retail store for miles. What did he do, go in and ask for "a sack of seed corn, a milking stool, a union suit...oh yeah and a rape mask"?
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:43 PM on March 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Whoa, this thread made me feel like I went back to 1979 and then hurtled forward in time while all my childhood TV shows whipped by. I must have spent more time in front of the box than I thought.

Never did see that "Sylvia" episode of Little House on the Prairie, though.

*gets down on knees and thanks the gods of teevee*
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:43 AM on March 17, 2011


HR Puf n Stuf scared the bejesus out of me as a kid (Witchy Poo? No thanks!) Good Times had several messed up episodes for a sitCOM. (child abuse, JJ getting shot, lung cancer, etc…). And wait a second, didn't Tootie run into a teenaged prostitute? And before the wedding, remember Carol talking to Mike Brady on the phone and telling him to "take a tranquilizer" for his wedding jitters?

As for jello wrestling, That's Incredible and Real People provided lots of jello wrestling.

Slightly off topic, but everyone seems to forget about the show "Love Sidney". And that one in the late 70s where the Air Force guys would run around each week disproving UFO sightings. Name escapes me.
posted by readyfreddy at 2:12 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Project UFO! I freakin' loved that show as a kid, even if they always discovered that there was nothing strange going on in the end, no way, uh uh. It was a little bit like the later X Files, but with two Scullys and no Mulder, as the main characters stoically tried to explain away the increasingly bizarre events of a world gone mad around them.

"This woman says she spontaneously gave birth to a ball of light while her kitchen appliances sang the second act of Pagliacci."

"Obviously Venus reflecting off some swamp gas. Case closed."

"But..."

"CASE CLOSED!"
posted by Kevin Street at 2:36 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


And wait a second, didn't Tootie run into a teenaged prostitute?

I don't know about Tootie, but the Bette Midler-looking one from Fame definitely did.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 AM on March 17, 2011


There was a Silver Spoons episode where Ricky really wants to go hunting with the men. They indulge him. And he shoots but doesn't kill a deer.

There was a long close up of a live deer lying down after having been shot. Richie, of course, cannot finish the job. Then the men explain that the deer is suffering and that he must. There's a close up of Richie crying and hiding his face while there's a shot heard off camera.

My little mind concluded that hunters are the worst of the worst and TV was second worst since they shot a real live deer for a show. Traumatized still.
posted by montaigneisright at 3:34 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never been so glad to be a little bit younger than most of my chosen social group in all my life. I have vague flashes of most of the things mentioned in this thread, but I was clearly far too young for them to even register as narratives to my tiny brain. Thank goodness.
posted by Mizu at 3:49 AM on March 17, 2011


Then I looked it up on the Wikipedia - I knew it starred Dennis Weaver, who meets a grisly end involving a bath tub and a radio - and fucking god damn it was fucking worse than I remember and now I'm truly freaked out before bed, and don't want to have to go outside to smoke.

Alvy Ampersand, oh yeah, thanks for that horrible flashback. Good lord, I STILL occasionally think of the scene with the heart attack and iguana, and my heart races.

Also, I remember an episode of Fantasy Island where they were inside a cave in a volcano, and I swear that there was a sacrafice to the devil. Perhaps played by Roddy McDowell. I remember at the time (kindergarten) thinking "I can't believe they're airing this on television! It's the DEVIL! THE DEVIL!"
posted by librarianamy at 5:18 AM on March 17, 2011


Oh, you want to talk about the devil? How about the finest episode of television ever produced?

I once skipped class in college because that was on, and I was astonished that it was real.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:46 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



Also, I remember an episode of Fantasy Island where they were inside a cave in a volcano, and I swear that there was a sacrafice to the devil. Perhaps played by Roddy McDowell. I remember at the time (kindergarten) thinking "I can't believe they're airing this on television! It's the DEVIL! THE DEVIL!"


Yes! Like I said! That show scared the shit outta me. That episode rings a distant memory bell for me.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:47 AM on March 17, 2011


Nobody remembers that episode of the Golden Girls that ends with everyone's severed (yet animated, talking) heads on plates with lettuce? *shudder*
posted by janepanic at 6:18 AM on March 17, 2011


Remember that episode where Scrappy Doo fell into the wood chipper?

Link?!?!!!!
posted by orange swan at 6:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still cannot look at a bottle of vanilla extract without thinking about drinking it and getting TV drunk.

"Hey, it may not be Miller time . . . but it is . . . vanilla time!"
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:42 AM on March 17, 2011


That Donny Most/CIHPS link reminded me… CHIPS also had a gnarly punk rock episode with that middle sister from Eight is Enough gust starring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3y4PFCpoOw
posted by readyfreddy at 6:54 AM on March 17, 2011


The Cosby show had a friend of a friend of Theo's that stuck a joint in Theo's textbook.

There was an episode of Oprah where she invited three "famous TV moms" on to talk about their shows -- Phyllicia Rashad, Florence Henderson, and Barbara Billingsly. Oprah introduced the topic of "tackling serious issues," and Rashad started talking about how they handled drug abuse with this episode -- "but in the end everything was okay because it wasn't Theo's joint after all." Henderson then started chuckling and said, "the funny thing is, on The Brady Bunch we did that exact same episode, only it was a cigarette instead of a joint." And then Billingsly said, "And on Leave It To Beaver, it was a pipe!"

There was a long close up of a live deer lying down after having been shot. Richie, of course, cannot finish the job. Then the men explain that the deer is suffering and that he must. There's a close up of Richie crying and hiding his face while there's a shot heard off camera. My little mind concluded that hunters are the worst of the worst and TV was second worst since they shot a real live deer for a show.

I absolutely remember that. But I also remember that at the very end, as they were showing the credits, you heard a voiceover from Ricky Schroeder saying "the deer used in the filming of this episode was not harmed in any way!" I was reassured.

Slightly off topic, but everyone seems to forget about the show "Love Sidney".

Oh, I remember that -- but I only remember one brief clip from it, where Sidney and the little kid are talking about how they were outside in the snow and someone forgot Kleenex, and they handled the noses-running issue by sniffling the song "Jingle Bells." I was staying over at a friend's house that night and that made us both giggle like loons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on March 17, 2011


Okay, one more.

So it's, I don't know, several years ago, and FAMOUS BROTHER and I are watching cartoons. And what should come on but Tom and Jerry. It's an episode made before the shit-stupid decision to have them be friends and all. So they hate each other, and by God Tom wants to kill Jerry - he's a cat, after all - and this is one of the episodes with that duckling. The Cousin Oliver of adversarial cartoon shorts.

The usual hoopla happens. Tom comes close to catching them, and fails. They get the best of him. Merriment ensues. The plot revolves around the duckling wanting to travel south for the winter.

Well, at the end he makes it. He's sitting on the beach with Jerry under a big umbrella, soaking up rays and talking about how great it is that they're rid of that mean old cat.

Quite out of nowhere, Tom pops out of the sand behind them and slams a bucket down on top of them, so they're trapped. From inside the bucket, the duckling screams in panic, and Tom pulls down the umbrella while laughing evilly, hiding the scene from the viewer. And then: THE END.

And that's it. That's the whole cartoon. After God only knows how long, he finally catches the fucker, and he gets that duckling, too, and it happens in one of the most abrupt and dark endings I've seen in a cartoon short.

FAMOUS BROTHER and I stared dumbly at the screen a moment, then broke into cheers.

"Ha ha, nice story," you may now be saying. "It'd be awesome if it were true."

Yes. I suppose it would, wouldn't it?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:16 AM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thanks for reminding me of Project UFO! I had remembered it as "Project Bluebook," for obvious reasons. It was like Scooby Doo but with suits and fewer stoner cravings.
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 AM on March 17, 2011


Why did standards and practice let this happen? Did they exist? Were they on cocaine? Or did they just want more of that rape sitcom money?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:21 AM on March 17, 2011


cortex: I think you're looking for this episode of Growing Pains.

Oh man, that looked like a strong possibility but I'm pretty sure that "Home Malone" is not it, after skimming through the whole thing. It looks like it all takes place at Grandma and Grandpa Malone's old house, whereas the scene I remember is distinctly in the Seaver kitchen. And Grandpa's ghost is all over the place, and shows up in the first scene, spending the whole episode wandering around invisibly commenting/roasting the rest of the cast.

Which suggests it's a different Gordon Jump episode of Growing Pains, but according to IMDB that only leaves "Eddie, We Hardly Knew Ye" as a possibility since that's his closest previous appearance on the show and that's the episode where Grandpa Malone actually goes and dies. But I could only find an edited snippet of the episode, here, so I have no idea what happened in the other 16 minutes or so. Maybe that was it? Who knows.

Fun fact: there was also apparently a Cheers episode titled "Home Malone", which judging by youtube hits was a lot more well-regarded than the Growing Pains episode.
posted by cortex at 7:29 AM on March 17, 2011


I remember an episode of Fantasy Island that had ROBOTS. But they look exactly like real people. I only remember the scene where the robot rests his hand on a lit cigarette but can't feel it because he is a ROBOT. Then a girl notices it, and he acts like it hurts and leaves. But later she sees his hand and there is no burn mark there because he is a ROBOT.

And in my memory he looked vaguely like Khan's lieutenant in Star Trek II.
posted by nushustu at 7:29 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of the ones I remember have already been mentioned, but I have vague memories of an episode of a Good Times cliffhanger episode where James and Florida try to convince some kids mother that he's deaf, which she angrily denies, and the episode ends with him falling down an elevator shaft because he can't hear them yelling for him to stop.

And then my very favorite after school special where Fred Savage beats Candace Cameron to death in a steroid induced rage, and the wrestling coach covers it up because he has a chance to go to the state finals. Good times.
posted by electroboy at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The scariest was that episode of Manimal where he's diagnosed with feline and human leukemia at the same time.
posted by orme at 7:53 AM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Remember the episode of "That's my Mama" where the black militants crashed a party at Mama's house? They were just generic "militants" that had no named affiliation.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 AM on March 17, 2011


I had completely forgotten about that Little House where Albert inadvertently starts a fire. That (and the Happy Days episode where Chachi's carelessness leads to Arnold's burning down) must have left such an impression on me that to this day, I get mild "OMFGdidIturnofftheburner?!" panics after leaving the house.

My wife has the entire run of Little House on DVD, and it's surprising how often it went for dark subject matter - addiction, spousal abuse, disaster, etc. It's a wonder the citizens of Walnut Grove weren't in a constant state of PTSD.
posted by anthom at 7:58 AM on March 17, 2011


My turn: did anyone else see the episode of The Waltons where a poltergeist haunted the house? The youngest girl (Elizabeth?) had seen a few scary things but no one believed her. The episode culminated with an all-out psychokinetic freak show that interrupted a slumber party -- half-a-dozen or so preteens in their old-fashioned pjs.

I remember a rocking chair rising off the ground then crashing down onto the floor over and over, a piano playing itself, a glass of milk slurped down by some invisible entity... Good old-fashioned nightmare fuel.
posted by honkeoki at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how much detail we remember about these intense episodes. For instance, although I haven't seen The Bicycle Man episode of Diff'rent Strokes since it originally aired in 1983, I still remember that Gordon Jump was trying to ply them with Boston creme pie [*shudder*].

The Jesse James episode of the Brady Bunch mentioned earlier in the thread really threw me for a loop as a kid. Using his finger as a gun, every "bang!" was another dead, beloved Brady.

On a more serious note, the episode of White Shadow where C.J. was gunned down while witnessing a liquor store holdup was the first time I every saw a graphic murder on T.V. I was eight when that episode aired - pretty fucked up.
posted by ericbop at 8:22 AM on March 17, 2011


Palmerstown, USA? (AKA Palmerstown) Created by Alex Haley (Roots)

That has to be it--there's not too much info on the content of the episodes so I can't identify the specific one I was thinking of, but how many shows at that time would have had a little kid named Booker T.? (And I just have to say: one of the stars of that show was named "Star-Shemah Bobatoon" which I think has to be one of the coolest names EVAH.) Thanks, Sparx.

My wife has the entire run of Little House on DVD, and it's surprising how often it went for dark subject matter - addiction, spousal abuse, disaster, etc. It's a wonder the citizens of Walnut Grove weren't in a constant state of PTSD.

I watched the whole thing on DVDs from the library a couple years ago and was blown away by that. This was considered a family show back in the day, but I was reluctant to let my young stepdaughters see much of it! I'm fascinated by the cultural shift.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:23 AM on March 17, 2011


I was just regaling my wife with a synopsis of a scary TV movie that totally traumatized my sister back in the eighties. I've only seen bits and pieces of the movie myself, but between my sister's memories of a murderous girl and a pizza cutter and my own scattered recollections, I managed to get her well and truly freaked out before bed. Haha, scaredy-wife! Scaredy-wife!

Is this the one where the brother falls off the roof just as the mother drops a watermelon on the kitchen floor? That movie totally freaked me and my brother out for ages - who knew a TV movie could be that scary?
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2011


Oh, and the Beast In Black episode of The Greatest American Hero; normally a goofy, lighthearted show about a bumbling superhero who can't quite learn to use his superpowers, investigates a haunted house and gets possessed and attacked by fucking ghost dogs.
posted by electroboy at 9:05 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, thanks for the reminder, electroboy. That GAmH scared the hell out of wee me.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:12 AM on March 17, 2011


Man I've loved reading through this thread.

But how has no one mentioned the Saved by the Bell where Jessie takes caffeine pills (a la Alex Keaton)? "I'm so excited! I'm so... scared..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bflYjF90t7c
posted by laze at 9:12 AM on March 17, 2011


Damn, man. Mentioning "Saved by the Bell" was just cruel. We were just learning to forget.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2011


(oops -- just saw roomthreeseventeen's comment)
posted by laze at 9:14 AM on March 17, 2011


This thread is pure gold.

Bicycle Man. Ick. I also remember the bulimia episode of Different Strokes pretty clearly.

Sorry to digress, but...I noticed that more than a few people said about one show or another: "That was the only episode of that show I ever saw." When I was younger (around the time we all had these warped images burned into our defenseless little brains) there were more than a few shows that I never really watched, but whenever I tuned in for one reason or another, IT WAS ALWAYS THE SAME EPISODE! At first it was irritating, but then it was sort of creepy. And it usually happened to shows that were in syndication (obviously). Can anyone else relate to this?

Also, while we're trawling the depths of our pop-addled memories, does anyone remember a show about a kid who talked to aliens with his Commodore 64 (I think)? He had a little set-up in his basement romper-room, which had fake wood-panelling, of course. The music that played during the credits was Jupiter from Holst's Planets Suite. It aired very early on Saturday mornings on a Philadelphia area station, early '80s.
posted by eric1halfb at 9:18 AM on March 17, 2011


That broadcast was coming FROM INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:22 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


a show about a kid who talked to aliens with his Commodore 64

Argh, it's on the tip of my brain...was it a PBS show? I remember it being scary, and the kid's computer room had that awful 70s/80s wood paneling....
posted by JoanArkham at 9:25 AM on March 17, 2011


The Growing Pains episode you're thinking of is "Extra Lap" and it's his uncle, not grandfather who dies and then comes jogging back in the door in the middle of the night. Uncle Bob is James T. Callahan who I remember most as Mr. Powell on Charles in Charge.

I vividly remember this episode far beyond the way I remember much else from TV which makes me think I may have seen a repeat after 1989 when my grandfather died (I saw him at the bottom of the stairs when we were painting the walls of his house to sell it, but only for a second and we didn't speak - still freaked me right out).

Sorry, there are better links and video available, but I'm at work and can't get to much right now.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:32 AM on March 17, 2011


Maybe PBS. Definitely wood paneling.
posted by eric1halfb at 9:33 AM on March 17, 2011


I shoulda known this thread would dig up all sorts of disturbing TV memories. (I remember that CHiPs episode - and the one where Satan's Angels kidnap Bonnie!) ...

One show that hasn't been mentioned yet is ... Wonder Woman! For some reason, I was terribly creeped out by "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret," a two-parter where these pyramid-shaped aliens invade Earth and trap people inside of them. (And for some damn reason, it's the only two episodes from Season 3 not available on WB.com ...)

I don't know why but those pyramids creeped me out BIG time.

They do have Disco Devil (with Wolfman Jack as DJ Infra Red), however, with the creepy telepathic guy.

Wonder Woman was so sexually titillating for a young boy: hot Lynda Carter in a revealing outfit with a golden lasso that can make anything tell the truth or just OBEY. Ay ay ay!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:35 AM on March 17, 2011


Slightly off topic, but everyone seems to forget about the show "Love Sidney".

My traumatic "Love Sidney" memory: there was one where the little girl accidentally sprays Tony Randall in the eyes with some kind of caustic aerosol. He spends the rest of the episode with a bandage over his eyes. To assuage her guilt, THE LITTLE GIRL SPRAYS HERSELF IN THE EYES WITH THE SAME AEROSOL. So in the last scene or two they both have bandages over their eyes. Creepy as fuck.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:43 AM on March 17, 2011


Okay, this is something of a tangent, but it's as close as I'm ever going to get to getting "yes" answers to this question --

Does anyone remember a PBS show called High Feather, which was set at a summer camp and dealt with nutrition? I believe there were only about 13 episodes. I never saw it in my life -- never even heard of it until the mid-90's when I started seeing a guy who told me he'd been in that show when he was a kid. (I'd never heard of it, and thought he made the whole thing up to get inside my pants or something.) But then a few years back I found someone had a tribute web site to it, and found some VHS tapes of the show on eBay. (Got 'em. The guy I was seeing back then is still a dear friend, and I completely freaked him out by quoting some lines back at him next time I saw him.)

Despite all this, though, I have not found anyone who remembers seeing the show when it was originally broadcast (sometime in the early 80's). So -- did High Feather actually exist, or is this a sign that a different reality is starting to seep through?...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh -- and they apparently also had a "very special" episode or two; one of them was about how the girl who wanted to be a ballerina wanted to go on a diet to keep her weight down, so she tried subsisting on nothing but vitamin pills for a couple days until she passed out and the camp counselor told her that no, that wasn't how it worked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2011


The best Silver Spoons was the episode where Ricky hacked into a military computer to impress Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes who was doing a school newspaper article on computers and the FBI shows up.

The Great Computer Caper.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:09 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Growing Pains episode you're thinking of is "Extra Lap" and it's his uncle, not grandfather who dies and then comes jogging back in the door in the middle of the night.

Oh man, that's it! Didn't find anything on youtube immediately but the full episode is on this god knows how reliable random chinese video site. The scene I'm remembering starts right at 8:45, after a weirdly abrupt open in which everybody wonders why Uncle Bob isn't up yet and then Mike goes off to spray whipped cream on his face and then comes back and announces that he's dead.

And then for the next six minutes or so between that opening and the scene I remember it's a fucking clip show. Horror upon horrors.

After that quick remembered encounter, there's about seven minutes of sitcom hijinks and psychotherapy, after which Mike goes back to the kitchen and goes through the motions of summoning Dead Uncle Bob, who obliging shows up, and they spend the next three minutes convincing Bob that he is in fact dead, and then he's like "welp, okay, I'm outta here!" and then Mike's all NO DON'T GO and we learn a valuable lesson about how the people who die don't really go away because you remember them. Which is all pretty straightforward sitcom schmaltz I guess aside from the personification-of-dead-man-as-uncomprehending-spirit-trapped-in-a-potential-eternity-of-jogging thing. And it all cleans up nicely and trauma-free like you'd expect.

Capping off a bunch of "oh man remember the good times we had" lines with "remember the time I died in the den and you put whipped cream on my face" was a nice touch, though.
posted by cortex at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2011


EmpressCallipygos, I don't remember High Feather, but there are a few clips on YouTube and it has a Wikipedia page.

One of the top comments for this clip echoes what seems to be the essence of this entire thread:

"you are my god damn hero for posting this. a great weight has been lifted off my back. i was beginning to think i imagined that this tv show ever existed"
posted by eric1halfb at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2011


What about the Silver Spoons where Dexter almost has a fling with Whitney Houston? He definitely would've treated her better than Bobby Brown.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, I don't remember High Feather, but there are a few clips on YouTube and it has a Wikipedia page.

No, I know. I'm just saying that with such a preponderance of evidence I should be able to find more people that actually remember seeing it. And I haven't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2011


Not so much a VSE thing, just more of a general freak-out: Jason Bateman had a short-lived show called It's Your Move, where he basically played the same smart-ass kid he played on Silver Spoons. I don't remember the show much, except for one episode where he screwed over the guy who played Marcy's husband on Married With Children. Not Ted McGinley, the other guy. Anyway, the show sucked and it didn't last long.

A few months after seeing that show, I was watching some teen sex film on HBO (pretty much my intro to boobs and sex until we got a VCR and my brother acquired a porn video) featuring the mom from It's Your Move naked. It was the first time I ever saw someone I recognized from TV get naked and it kind of freaked me out. It might as well have been June Cleaver or my own mom.

I think the movie was My Tutor. The only thing I remember about it is the Bateman/boob connection.

Thus concludes this Very Special Episode of Bondcliff's pre-teen years.
posted by bondcliff at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2011


... except for one episode where he screwed over the guy who played Marcy's husband on Married With Children. Not Ted McGinley, the other guy. Anyway, the show sucked and it didn't last long.

What what WHAT!?

First off, he screwed over Norman every episode. That was the gist of the show, each of them one-upping each other. And the kid always won. Who wouldn't love that?!

Matthew Burton is one part Eddie Haskell, two parts Alex J. Keaton, and a smidge of Patrick Bateman.

I don't know many people who've actually seen all of the "It's Your Move" episodes, but there's a general consensus among us that it was one of the greatest one-season shows EVER.

Watch for yourself. YT user uwec95 has posted all the episodes...

featuring the mom from It's Your Move naked.

mmm, Caren Kaye ... She was always saucy on It's Your Move:
Matthew: Guys wouldn't know class if it walked up and bit 'em

Mom: (with faraway look) ... I've tried
posted by mrgrimm at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "Mind Pollution" (Parts 1 2 3) episode of Captain Planet always struck me as odd: Skumm, one of the major Eco Villains (and for a time, voiced by Jeff Goldblum) decides to sell drugs in DC, around the same time Linka goes to visit her cousin at the embassy, who ends up drugging her, and Linka ends up essentially turning into a coke-whore, with Skumm as her pimp.

So, Skumm, among the other villains, have been doing pretty much all they can to ensure the death of the Planeteers, and yet, he catches one, gets her hooked on drugs and... has her work for him? This is problematic for two major reasons: 1. If you kill a Planeteer, the chain is broken, they can't call Captain Planet, boom, game over. Failing that, ransom? Sell her to the highest bidder? Something? No, just give her more drugs and let her wander off, she'll be back if she wants more "Bliss" right? 2. Whereas most of the other Eco-Villains were capitalist greedheads whose destruction of the planet largely came from their slash-and-burn get rich quick schemes, Verminous Skumm was an agent of chaos (There's actually an episode where Skumm and Duke Nukem hatch a plot that is almost identical to the Ferry thing at the end of The Dark Knight, but I digress). Skumm is a weird rat creature that lives in the sewers and hates humanity. He's singlehandedly starting a drug epidemic because he wants money and he hates people. There are better drug mules than someone with the drive and power to destroy you. It's like Buffy where one of the vampires had a crush on her: Unnecessary risk!

Anyway, the Planeteers come to her rescue and help set up rehab tents all over DC (yay, no more drug problems in DC, haha) and Skumm ends up inadvertently taking his own drug and OH NOEZ I POISONED MYSELF.

on a different subject, there was an episode of Roseanne that talks about domestic violence (Jackie's boyfriend Fischer was physically abusing her). The scene where Dan comes in, hears Roseanne say "Fischer beat the crap out of Jackie, I'm taking her to the hospital", stops, and without a word turns around, grabs his coat and heads back out the door still makes me choke up a bit to this day.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:56 AM on March 17, 2011


Well. I gotta say, I followed jbickers link to the Sylvia preview last night in my dark bedroom all alone. I was doing okay until the mime showed up. Of course, my husband came tromping into the room soon after, which made me leap about three feet out of the bed. So.....thanks for that.

....I never figured myself for the type of person who would say "I was doing okay until the mime showed up".....
posted by nasayre at 10:57 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, fair enough. I guess I don't remember it very well, though I was older than I thought (15 or so) when it was on.

Whenever I think I know too much about pop culture I'm easily reminded that I don't know jack squat.
posted by bondcliff at 10:58 AM on March 17, 2011


The Roseanne scene

Ok, I had some of the details slightly wrong, but it never fails.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:05 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyone remember that special episode of Jack Squat where Jack OD'd on Ginkgo biloba?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2011


IRFH, I think you're thinking of the episode of Perfect Strangers where Balki becomes a qat addict and it stains his teeth black just before he's set for a big TV commercial audition for toothpaste.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:10 AM on March 17, 2011


When you rolling out the dough,
Just make sure you roll it slow.
If you make the dough too quick
Bibbibabka make you sick.

When you pour the filling in
Just make sure you wear a grin.
When you smile on what you bake
Bibbibabka turn out swell.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:34 AM on March 17, 2011


I'm pretty sure the mime in the LHOTP episode wasn't actually a mime. He was just a creep in a mime-like mask. And I always thought the masked guy was Sylvia's father, because her father was a controlling creep and made his daughter bind her breasts with tightly wound strips of fabric so the boys wouldn't look at her.

I have to give props to Roseanne for being real. It was so much better than many sitcoms because, instead of distancing itself from real life problems by having them happen to friends of the main characters, the main characters experience it themselves. In other sitcoms, the teenage daughter almost has sex on prom night but is talked out of it. On Roseanne, Darlene did. In other sitcoms, the teenage daughter runs off to elope with her boyfriend and someone goes after her and talks her out of it, or maybe one of the teenage daughter actually elopes and it's a Very Bad Mistake. In Roseanne, Becky actually did it and lives with the consequences.

I thought Gimme a Break! deserved some credit as well. One of the daughters had to be rushed to the hospital with sudden, violent stomach pains. It turns out she had inserted an IUD herself and, not surprisingly, not done it properly. And likely in that case the teenage sex was a done deal.

By comparison, on The Cosby Show, Cliff interrogates Denise's new husband and does a little dance when he discovers she was a virgin on her wedding night. I had two reactions to this, and they were 1) Riiiiiiiiight, like Denise never slept with anyone, and 2) It was totally gross and out of line for Cliff to be prying into his grown daughter's intimate affairs like that.
posted by orange swan at 12:11 PM on March 17, 2011


1) I watched entirely too much TV as a child.

2) Where the hell was my mom?!? Couldn't anyone just turn off the TV?!?

3) I remember so much of the '70s/'80s shows listed (no TV/busy adult in the '90s) and this thread made me feel better that I wasn't as isolated in my experience as I've sometimes thought. Thanks for probing and sharing your painful TV memories, folks!

4) The big five shows for me out of all these that still stick in my memory and come up randomly even now: Edith's 50th Birthday, the Too Close for Comfort ep that started all this mess, the revelation of Penny's abuse on Good Times, the vanilla-drinking on Family Ties, and that Jesse James Brady Bunch arc. That traumatic Benson ep drifts up, too.

5) Two no one else has mentioned (that I saw): James (the dad) dying on Good Times. He was written off, so there was nothing but a bald jump into grieving when the 4th season started. So upsetting! And then the Laverne & Shirley where they were tied up and a bomb was put under their chair. I remember yelling at one of the characters to shut up so the other one could think.

6) Trauma pandering is one of the laziest, most irritating tricks played by TV shows and hardly any ever handle it the way All in the Family did. I especially hate it when Sitcoms do this. It seems rude, crass, and exploitative. "Come be entertained! Haha! GOTCHA!"
posted by batmonkey at 12:12 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the only TV show that ever traumatized me was when Tommy Westphall revealed on St. Elsewhere that I don't exist. I've never been imagined to be the same since.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing has been the same since.
posted by bondcliff at 12:33 PM on March 17, 2011


What about the Fantasy Island where Annette Funicello is a ventriloquist and her fantasy is that her dummy come to life and she can interact with her. The dummy turns out to be an evil mean woman, and pretty much tries to destroy Annette!

The best part is that Annette is pretty repressed, and the (now live) dummy seduces the man that Annette really likes. Did I mention that anything physical the dummy has happen to her, Annette can feel? That was pretty trippy stuff to my pre teen mind.


posted by lootie777 at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2011


Speaking of St. Elsewhere, I wasn't normally allowed to watch it, but for some reason the ONLY episode I saw was the one where Mark Harmon got slit open with the razor blade by his one night stand. In my befuddled pre-teen brain, I remember asking my mom why the woman was pretending to be a vampire.

Which seems to run with everyone else's memory of always seeing the most tramatic episode of a show they never watched.
posted by librarianamy at 12:46 PM on March 17, 2011


I take it back - there was one more show that traumatized me. It was a show that my kids watched: Blossom. Every time that show's title track ran, I wanted to jab a pencil through my eardrum. What the fuck is an "opinionation?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other sitcoms, the teenage daughter almost has sex on prom night but is talked out of it. On Roseanne, Darlene did.
Actually, no. Darlene did rent a motel room and they did try, but David was unable to perform. They finally first had sex up in Darlene's room when Roseanne and Dan weren't home.

This wasn't exactly Very Special Episode territory, but I remember being completely taken aback at this explicit scene of hamster birth (around 7:00) on The Partridge Family when it originally aired. I mean, I knew where babies (both human and animal) came from, but up to that time I hadn't ever actually seen it happen.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:00 PM on March 17, 2011


I don't know how "very special" it was, but there' was an episode of the old Incredible Hulk TV show where he drifts into town and gets a job in a recording studio, where he proceeds to unknowingly get "dosed' by a coworker. He turns into the Incredible Hulk and proceeds to freak out in the studio, but doesn't wreck anything because he's hallucinating and his feet are stuck to the floor.
posted by Challahtronix at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2011


Tasha Yar teaches Wesley Crusher an important lesson about drugs.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let it be again proclaimed that this thread is full of awesome. After a bad day yesterday, this filled me with joy...and, of course, terror.

The two things I remember from TV that affected me because I watched them alone and had no one to talk about them with (something I, despite feeling like I turned out a-okay, I would probably never be able to let my own imaginary kids do):

1) The episode of Good Times when J.J.s prom date was a heroin addict, and this was revealed to the audience by her pulling out her rigging to shoot up in the Evans's bathroom on prom night. I totally did not understand what was going on -- I think I may have seen an edited-for-syndication version where they pulled away before it was well explained -- but somehow I eventually figured it out through context clues.

2) An episode of St. Elsewhere in which a young cancer patient has a wet dream/masturbates to orgasm for the first time and thinks this means either that his cancer has come back or moved to his genitals.

Oddly, though these things were rather upsetting to me at the time, they proved valuable lessons for later in life to answer such important questions as 1) what's that guy with the watery eyes doing with that rubber hose and 2) OMG what's happening to me.*

As far as Too Close for Comfort, that show -- and my unnatural affinity for it at the time of its original broadcast -- is the television equivalent of those Born This Way (previously) pictures. There aren't any pictures of me looking particularly "that way", but looking back, why else would I insist on wanting to watch a crappy TV show about a guy who lives in San Francisco with a probably gay upstairs tenant and his fabulously haired daughers with their fabulous apartment? (I have often though about painting that stripe in my own abode.)

Of course, as an adult, I have recently viewed episodes on Too Close for Comfort on the Antenna Network -- which is a completely unnecessary channel obviously inspired by the success of the awesome MeTV -- except there aren't enough good old TV shows left for them to choose from. (Who has two thumbs and thinks the public wants edited-for-television-complete-with-commercials showings of Loverboy? The programmers of Antenna Network.) Any love I had for the show completely doesn't stand up. All episodes are completely ridiculous, even by coked out 80s standards; a non-rape involving episode plot included for some reason (which is barely explained), the Rush women (plus Monroe) hosting a seance, in which the medium spouts some nonsense which causes Mrs. Rush to think her husband is cheating on her... which starts to seem true because of ridiculous farce elements that make Three's Company seem like Moliere.

For all the damage done to us by forgotten very special episodes and TV movies (Windigo, let me tell you how Adam and the disappearance of Johnny Gosch led me and every kid in my hometown to fear every adult who happened to come into our small town -- which meant every Orkin man and Jehovah's Witness was going to cut off our head, no question), I think the true damage is the absolute crap that was broadcast. And there were lots of bad shows, but Too Close for Comfort is so bad it was created as an example of how to make yourself stupider in 30 minutes or less.

* Lest my childhood seem more interesting than it was, my exposure to someone shooting up and my beginning puberty were, despite the construction of the sentence above, many years apart and did not happen in that order.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Elsewhere... all I remember from that one was an episode where a woman is telling Jack(the blond curly haired guy) to get revenge on the guy who raped him. Then my mom explains the woman is only out of jail to get medical treatment and was jailed because she shot Peter, the ex-hospital employee who had raped her and some other nurses.
posted by soelo at 2:30 PM on March 17, 2011


there were lots of bad shows, but Too Close for Comfort is so bad it was created as an example of how to make yourself stupider in 30 minutes or less.

ah, but the sweet, sweet music made it all better.

Regardless of the bad premise and poor writing, Jm and Ted Knight were both high-quality situational comedy actors, imo. TCC beats the pants off Family Matters or Step by Step.

btw, any "Best of the West" fans out there? That show has always been my Monroe's Rape. It's when I see Joel Higgins on TV and somebody says "Hey, Silver Spoons dad!" and I say "Hey, you remember that sitcom he was on before Silver Spoons, the one with fucking Christopher Lloyd back when he was funny and the guy from Repo Man?!?! Oh man, it was great ... REMEMBER?!?!?!" and everything goes quiet and everyone stares at me.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:44 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


btw, any "Best of the West" fans out there?

What I remember about "Best of the West" His wife saying (while sweeping) "I just can't seem to get the dirt off-a this floor." His reply, "Well, it's a dirt floor." After that, I got nuthin'.
posted by patheral at 3:23 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


CLASSIC!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:44 PM on March 17, 2011


BEST OF THE WEST! Sweet, holy crap...my best friend and I actually did "radio shows" based on that show on my Tandy tape recorder.

*sobs and embraces mrgrimm*
posted by JoanArkham at 4:00 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


"His name was Best. Best of the West!"

I remember seeing Repo Man for the first time and thinking "Hey! That's the guy from Best of the West!"
posted by bondcliff at 4:41 PM on March 17, 2011


Oh man! Thanks, mrgrimm!
posted by bondcliff at 4:45 PM on March 17, 2011


ah, but the sweet, sweet music made it all better.

You know, I read this and I immediately had the song in my head. But I still listened to make sure.

And I was exactly right.

And thank god, cos it's replaced the Charles in Charge theme song which had been stuck in my head all day.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I have often though about painting that stripe in my own abode.)

You know who else had a stripe like that? Effin' Kotter. Fabulous, schmabulous.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


honestcoyote, THANK YOU. For 30 years I have been having occasional nightmares about riding with my family on a train and watching while Jesse James kills them all. There's a palpable dread as he looks over my sisters (I don't have sisters) and takes our valuables and and and ...

I've always thought it was a Brady Bunch episode but that didn't make ANY sense. This is the first time anyone but me has remembered it. I'm so relieved I didn't imagine it!
posted by kostia at 8:46 PM on March 17, 2011


I remember that Jesse James episode too. I gave me bad dreams forever.

Oh, and thanks Sys Rq, now have the Welcome Back Kotter song stuck in my head. I know they also had a special episode but for the life of me, I can't remember it. I have a vague memory of Arnold crying...
posted by patheral at 8:49 PM on March 17, 2011


elsietheeel, was it this version of the Charles in Charge theme song?
posted by hanov3r at 9:49 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I take it back - there was one more show that traumatized me. It was a show that my kids watched: Blossom. Every time that show's title track ran, I wanted to jab a pencil through my eardrum. What the fuck is an "opinionation?"

Ah yes, back before "Whoa" was a Keanu thing.

Blossom's opening theme also featured Mayim Bialik dancing around and, at one point, doing one of them kicks where the kicking foot is pretty much pointing straight up while the other foot stays on the ground. My sister and I, as kids, were watching this, and decided to have a contest to see who could kick higher. I kicked her in the eye and she went to the emergency room.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


speaking of the theme song to Blossom: can someone please disavow me of the sinking feeling that Dr. John performed it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on March 18, 2011


elsietheeel, was it this version of the Charles in Charge theme song?

Oh no, I'm not falling for that.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:47 AM on March 18, 2011


Sorry EC, but it's probably true:

Dr. John has also done vocals for Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits' "Luv dat chicken..." jingle, as well as the theme song ("My Opinionation") for the early-1990s television sitcom Blossom.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:51 AM on March 18, 2011


Since we're now just throwing up tv effluvia I offer 110 minutes of Exidor (remember when he reveals to Mork he worships O.J. Simpson?!)

"Sure, Moses crossed the Red Sea, but could he have done it on astroturf?"

Ah yes, back before "Whoa" was a Keanu thing.

Whoa
posted by mrgrimm at 8:32 AM on March 18, 2011


We talked about this thread on my radio show this morning, BTW ...
posted by jbickers at 8:49 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that one in the late 70s where the Air Force guys would run around each week disproving UFO sightings. Name escapes me.

Yes! Project: UFO, which was produced by Joe Friday himself, Jack Webb. There were at least a few episodes of it on YouTube, and it was not until I was 39 years old that I discovered that the creepy UFO which had haunted my nightmares for 3 decades was, in fact, a plastic Testors model aircraft carrier turned upside down with some extra sprues and lights glues onto it.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:45 AM on March 18, 2011


awesome, jbickers. I'm originally from Louisville and I love WFPK!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2011




elsietheeel: "And thank god, cos it's replaced the Charles in Charge theme song which had been stuck in my head all day."

Have you folks listened carefully to the lyrics to that song? There is so much wrong with it.

New boy in the neighborhood
Lives downstairs and it is understood.
He’s there just to take good care of me,
Like he’s one of the family.

Charles in Charge
Of our days and our nights
Charles in Charge
Of our wrongs and our rights

And I sing, I want,
I want Charge in Charge of me.

Charles in Charge
Of our days and our nights
Charles in Charge
Of our wrongs and our rights

And I sing, I want,
I want Charge in Charge of me.
posted by tzikeh at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Charles in Charge, was anyone else terrified of the series finale, where it was revealed that it was ALL JUST A TV SHOW? That kind of metatextual shit totally freaked me out as a kid.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2011


Actually, it was all just Scott Baio's dream. Still, freaky.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:44 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


tzikeh, I hate you so much right now.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Streaks on the china
Never mattered before
Who cared
When you dropkicked your jacket
when you came through the door
No one glared.

...

According to our new arrival,
life is more than mere survival
And we just might live the good life yet.

posted by mrgrimm at 12:41 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear mrgrimm,

That Whoa! video will haunt me forever. I hate you. I also can't wait to ambush my friends with it. I love you.

Your friend/sworn enemy,
IRFH
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:52 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


heh, that's been my "rickroll" go-to for a couple years now.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2011


I haven't enjoyed a thread this much in a long time. Well done!
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2011


Yeah the Jesse James episode.. My takeaway was Mike lecturing Bobby that James shot people in the back. Killing people was fine it was shooting them in the back he didn't cotton to.

There is another good one where they convice greg convinces everyone there is a UFO by shining a UFO shaped light on a sheet or towel.

There was one particularly cool Fantasy Island where it was the guy's fantasy to beat Mister Rourke at various feats of strength and they arm wresle with live tarantulas on the table so whoever loses will get bitten! That was awsome.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:50 PM on March 18, 2011


Speaking of crossovers. The best one has to be Boss Hogg tries to buy Mel's Diner.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:55 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crap... what was the show starring Sam Waterston that was kind of steam-punkish... Sphere? No... Dammit!
posted by tzikeh at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2011


what was the show starring Sam Waterston that was kind of steam-punkish

Q.E.D.?
posted by Knappster at 8:53 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, thank you! I saw High Feather in the early 80s; WGBH Boston used to show it along with another "very special" show called Inside Out, and one of my elementary school teachers used to have us watch them during class. The only High Feather detail I remember was when somebody sees one of the gang injecting himself with a needle and most of the episode was "OMG he's taking drugs!" but then it turns out that he's diabetic and he was just taking insulin. (I think I worried about getting diabetes for a while after that one) Definitely one of those shows whose existence I have sometimes questioned, because nobody else ever knows what the hell I'm talking about.

Similarly, I remember a PSA that used to run on one of the Boston stations during cartoons about how kids with asthma can have fun too, despite not being able to run around or play baseball or (this was my impression) go outside. I worried a little about asthma too thanks to that one.
a show about a kid who talked to aliens with his Commodore 64

Argh, it's on the tip of my brain...was it a PBS show? I remember it being scary, and the kid's computer room had that awful 70s/80s wood paneling....
I feel like I might be conflating two creepy PBS computer/alien shows, but maybe you're thinking of Read All About It? That whole show was just generally weird and creepy, but what freaked me out the most was that the evil Duneedon looked exactly like my classmate Jenny's dad.
posted by usonian at 7:06 AM on March 21, 2011


Thank God, usonian -- I was wondering what was going on, because I found all sorts of secondhand evidence it existed but no one who could remember seeing it as broadcast.

(My friend played - and these are his words, mind you -- "the fat kid". He ended up helming a couple of "junk food is bad, m'kay" episodes.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 AM on March 21, 2011


EmpressCallipygos, it may be the power of suggestion, but I do seem to vaguely recall one such episode now that you mention it.

Also: No discussion of childhood PBS TV trauma would be complete without the episode of All About You (sadly, not the episode linked) where Louise McNamara puts a hamburger and milkshake into a blender to show you what the contents of your stomach look like. I still get queasy if I think about it for too long.
posted by usonian at 8:50 AM on March 21, 2011


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