Horror On TV: Ghost Story 1.3 “At the Cradle Foot” (dir by Don McDougall)

On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, James Franciscus plays a father who discovers that trying to change the future isn’t as cut-and-dried as it seems.  When Paul (Franciscus) dreams that his daughter is going to be murdered 20 years in the future, he moves to the town from his dream to try to prevent it.  He ends up falling in love with Julie (Meg Foster), who happens to be engaged to man named Ed (Karl Swenson) who looks just like the man who Paul dreamt was going to murder his daughter!

This episode originally aired on September 29th, 1972.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 1.9 “Stranded” and 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

I’ll always remember, me and my friends at Hang Time!

It’s time to check in and see what’s happening at Deering High!

Episode 1.9 “Stranded”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 4th, 1995)

“Great!” Sam announces halfway through this episode, “we’re all stuck together and we hate each other!”

And yes, it is true.  After a terrible loss, Coach Fuller makes the team come in for a Saturday morning practice.  Only a few members of the team make it due to the fact that it’s snowing and those who do make it end up getting trapped in the gym by the blizzard!  Way to go, Coach!

This actually wasn’t a bad episode.  For one thing, memories of the 2021 Texas blizzard are still fresh on my mind so, for once, I could relate to what the characters on the show were going through.  I actually have been snowed in, with the power going on-and-off.  Fortunately, I wasn’t trapped in a gym.  I was in my house, with a book to read.

The majority of the episode was taken up with a group therapy session, in which Fuller tried to get the team to open up about both the loss and their feelings to each other.  And while I initially groaned when the scene started, it was actually handled fairly well.  We got to hear each character’s inner thoughts and it turned out that most of them were just as tired of Julie being the center of every storyline as the viewers undoubtedly were.  Add to that, a new member of the cast made an appearance when one brave boom mic made an appearance, hovering over the group.

While everyone tried to figure out how to survive being stuck in the gym overnight (did none of these high school students have parents trying to dig them out?), Julie and Chris debated whether they could both date and be teammates and Mary Beth, who was in the gym despite not being a member of the basketball team, tried to take care of the fake baby that she had been assigned for a class assignment.

As I said, this was not a bad episode.  Chris and Julie were still an amazingly boring couple but, with this episode, it felt as if the cast had finally come together as an ensemble.  Still, it’s strange that the episode ended with Michael saving everyone in the high school as opposed to say the parents who were undoubtedly wondering to where their children had disappeared during the worst blizzard in Indiana history.  Did the adults in town just not care about their high school basketball team?

Episode 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 11th, 1995)

This was a weird episode.  Mary Beth’s father demanded that she get a job so, somehow, she ended up as manager of the Sports Shack (which is the store in the mall where most of the characters work).  At first, Mary Beth is too lenient of a boss.  Then she become too strict of a boss.  All of her employee go on a strike but is there really a Sports Shack union?  Is the strike even legal?  Couldn’t everyone be arrested for disturbing the peace and, even more importantly, why can’t Mary Beth just fire all of them and hire cheap replacements?  That would definitely cut down on payroll.

Meanwhile, Coach Fuller is in charge of a new exchange programs where members of the basketball team pair up with girls from Russia and …. wait, WHAT!?  Earl gets a Russian who loves hanging out with him.  Michael gets a Russian who is overweight so, of course, the audience goes, “Whoa!”  “You are fresh prince,” the Russian tells Michael, on account of the fact that Michael appears to be the only black student at Deering High.  “Hah hah hah!” the audience responds.  Eventually, Michael learns an important lesson about not judging Russian mail order brides by their weight.  It’s all more than a little cringey but it is kind of sweet that Earl’s exchange student even follows him around while he’s working his security job at the mall.

Anyway, this one of those episode that kind of felt as if it was just a mix of scenes and storylines that had been cut from other episodes.  Perhaps it would have been better if everyone had been trapped at the mall by another blizzard.  Seriously, blizzards bring out the best of this show.

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.2 “The Concrete Captain” (dir by Richard Donner)

In the 2nd episode of Ghost Story, an important lesson is learned.  If you’re going to bury a sea captain, do not bury him in concrete because his spirit belongs to the ocean.  Upset his spirit and he’ll basically ruin whatever hopes you have of bringing tourists to the seashore!

This episode stars Gena Rowlands and Stuart Whitman and it was directed by none other than Richard Donner.  Donner, of course, would go on to direct such films as The Omen, Superman, and Lethal Weapon.


(Despite the weird thumbnail, this video should work if you click play.)

Great Moments In Television History #23: Barnabas Collins Is Freed From His Coffin

The year was 1967 and, in Collinsport, Maine, a petty criminal named Willie Loomis was about to make television history.  Convinced that a fortune in jewelry was hidden in the Collins family’s mausoleum, Willie broke in and opened a coffin that, strangely, was covered in chains.  Willie expected to find a fortune.  Instead, he found Barnabas Collins, a 200 year-old vampire who transformed Willie into his servant and proceeded to spend the next five years masquerading as a cousin from Britain while searching for both a cure to his condition and for the reincarnation of the love of his life, Josette.

Played by stage actor Jonathan Frid, Barnabas Collins made his first appearance on the April 18th, 1967 episode of Dark Shadows.  Though Barnabas was originally only meant to be a temporary addition to the show’s roster of characters, Frid proved to be popular with viewers, like my mother who not only watched the show when it first aired but also when reruns were broadcast in syndication many years later.  The show soon came to center on the ruthless vampire.

In fact, Frid and Barnabas became some identified with the show that many are still shocked to learn that Dark Shadows had run for a full year before Barnabas was introduced as a character.  When the show airs in syndication, it usually starts with Willie (played by John Karlen) opening Barnabas’s coffin and not with the earlier episodes in which the show’s nominal lead character, Victoria Winters, first arrived at Collinwood and met the members of the family.

Many future horror directors and writers have stated that their interest in the genre began with watching Jonathan Frid on Dark Shadows.  And it all began with that one great moment when Willie Loomis opened the coffin and set Barnabas free.

Previous Moments In Television History:

  1. Planet of the Apes The TV Series
  2. Lonely Water
  3. Ghostwatch Traumatizes The UK
  4. Frasier Meets The Candidate
  5. The Autons Terrify The UK
  6. Freedom’s Last Stand
  7. Bing Crosby and David Bowie Share A Duet
  8. Apaches Traumatizes the UK
  9. Doctor Who Begins Its 100th Serial
  10. First Night 2013 With Jamie Kennedy
  11. Elvis Sings With Sinatra
  12. NBC Airs Their First Football Game
  13. The A-Team Premieres
  14. The Birth of Dr. Johnny Fever
  15. The Second NFL Pro Bowl Is Broadcast
  16. Maude Flanders Gets Hit By A T-Shirt Cannon
  17. Charles Rocket Nearly Ends SNL
  18. Frank Sinatra Wins An Oscar
  19. CHiPs Skates With The Stars
  20. Eisenhower In Color
  21. The Origin of Spider-Man
  22. Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live Holiday Wish List

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 9/25/22 — 10/1/22

Not only did I spend this week preparing for Horrorthon, I also ended up watching quite a bit of television.  Here’s some thoughts on what I watched.

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

This week, Janine tried to get Abbott a computer and Ava got to host a Shark Tank-style competition.  Ava is such a great character.  This episode may not have matched the premiere but it was still pretty funny and a good example of how Abbott Elementary is able to deal with the realities of public education without losing sight of the comedy.

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of The Amazing Race here!

Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)

This week’s episode of Atlanta took a break from the surreal with a straight-forward but very funny episode about Earn and Al’s family.  Earn’s mother “kidnapped” Grandpa while Earn’s father made the mistake of buying a hat and allowing himself to get delayed in the mall.  While Aunt Jeanine called the police and demanded that her sister by criminally charged, Earn and Al looked for a way to escape the studio.  It was funny and enjoyably cringey.  Give Isiah Whitlock, Jr. an Emmy.

Bachelor in Paradise (Monday Night, ABC)

It’s a new season of Bachelor in Paradise!  All of the people who couldn’t find love on the main show get to hang out on the beach.  Bachelor in Paradise is actually more fun than The Bachelor because it’s honest about being a totally and completely shallow production.  Nobody is there for the right reasons and it’s great.

Apparently, Jesse Palmer is going to be the host for the entire season so I guess last season’s rotating host gimmick has been retired.  That’s probably for the best.  I actually like Jesse as the overall franchise host.  He doesn’t bring a lot of extra drama with him like Tayshia and Kaitlyn did and he seems to understand that his job isn’t exactly the same as being a brain surgeon.

That said …. where’s Meatball!?

Big Brother (Sunday Night, CBS)

Big Brother 24 finally came to a close on Sunday night.  Taylor Hale not only won the game but she also won America’s Favorite Player.  Considering the way that Taylor was bullied by the other houseguests at the start of the season, her victory was popular with the show’s fans.  Personally, I think both Monte and Turner played a better game but knowing that Taylor’s victory upset some of the worst people to ever appear on the show was still a satisfying feeling.  Knowing that Ameerah, Nicole, and Daniel were probably upset made the past few months worth it.

I wrote about this season over at the Big Brother Blog.

Bubblegum Crisis (NightFlight+)

80s cyberpunk!  Man vs machine!  The Sabre Knights vs a pack of robots known as the Boomers!  The main character, Priss, is also a rock star!  I had no idea what was going on when I watched this show early on Saturday morning but the animation was interesting to look at and Priss was undeniably cool.

CHiPs (Weekday Afternoons, Get TV)

I watched one episode of this old motorcycle cop show on Tuesday.  The cops kept the peace at an anti-nuke rally and Erik Estrada provided counseling to a child who was being abused by his parents.  I can’t say that I really paid that much attention.  I did like the bass-heavy theme song however.

Concentration (Weekday Afternoons, BUZZR)

This was an old gameshow from the 70s and the 80s.  I watched an episode on Friday while I was doing some work around the office.  The most interesting thing about it was that it was hosted by Alex Trebyk, who came across as being far more relaxed and casual about things than when he hosted Jeopardy.

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

Uncle Joey (you know, the one with the mullet) tried to teach Michelle how to ride a bike but he wasn’t very good at it and Michelle was humiliated when she fell off her bike at the park.  At first, Michelle blamed Joey but eventually she got over it.  What a brat.

This was followed by an episode in which poor DJ (who, really, deserves to nominated for sainthood for putting up with her family) has to take her two obnoxious sisters with her on a date.  Everyone learned an important lesson about sneaking into the movie and lying.  Don’t do either of them but, if you do sneak into the movie, don’t get caught.

Ghosts (Thursday Night, CBS)

The second season premiere of Ghosts was as charming as ever, with the ghosts spying on the B&B’s first guests and Jay discovering that, despite his near death experience, he still cannot see the ghosts.  I felt bad for Sam, as most of the stuff that the guests complained about when it came to her was the same stuff that people tend to complain about when it comes to me.  I cheered a little when she stood up to them.  The whole “Our yelp account was hacked!” ending was perfect.

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night, FOX)

Hell’s Kitchen is back!  This season is going to be 40-something chefs vs 20-something chef.  To be honest, the gimmick doesn’t matter.  I’m just looking forward to Chef Ramsay yelling at people and losing his temper at the potentially lethal incompetence around him.  Who will be the first to try to send out raw chicken?  Sadly, the premiere episode did not feature a dinner service but, according to the previews, it’s coming up next week!

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

Last week’s Law & Order was pretty good.  This week, sadly, was one of those middling, lefty political episodes that the franchise often does in an attempt to remain in the good graces of those who would otherwise dismiss the whole thing as being copaganda.  It’s always funny to me how the Law & Order franchise is full of blue collar, Catholic cops who sound like they spend all of their time watching Joy Reid and Chris Hayes as soon as their shift is over.

On last night’s Law & Order, the victim was the daughter of the governor of Texas so, of course, we got this whole big thing about how the governor is always criticizing New York City as being crime-ridden.  “Why does the governor of Texas care about New York?” one of the detectives demanded and that’s when I started to tune this episode out.  One could just as legitimately ask why people in California and New York always feel the need to comment on what’s happening in Texas.  Law & Order always errs on the side of going overboard when it attempts to deal with politics.  This was especially true this week, as Law & Order waded into the abortion debate and came up with an ending that was both so heavy-handed and so predictable that I felt embarrassed for the show’s writers.

Law & Order: Organized Crime (Thursday Night, NBC)

With the start of a new season, Stabler got a new partner and a new crooked family to investigate.  From what I’ve seen, Organized Crime is the least interesting of the Law & Order shows and often feels more like it should be a part of NCIS franchise than Law & Order.  It was difficult for me to watch because Stabler really does seem like he’s going to give himself a heart attack if he doesn’t figure out a way to relax.

Law & Order: SVU (Thursday Night, NBC)

This week’s episode of SVU opened with an extremely disturbing scene in which a teenage girl was gang-raped on a subway while, just a few feet away, the rest of her family was hacked to death with machetes.  This scene reminded me of why I don’t regularly watch this show.  It’s undeniably well-acted and usually well-written, except for when it tries to be overly political.  But Good Lord, are the cases ever disturbing!

Mike (Hulu)

I wrote about Hulu’s disappointing Mike Tyson miniseries here.

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head (Paramount Plus)

Inspired by a holy nacho chip, Beavis went on a spiritual journey and learned nothing.  This was a unique episode in that it told one story instead of the usual two.  It’s become obvious that Beavis, with his odd moments of clarity and his desire to actually be something more than just a sidekick, is a far more compelling character than Butt-Head.

Monarch (Tuesday Night, FOX)

This show gets sillier and sillier with each episode but it’s kind of worth it for the scenes of Trace Adkins glowering in the shadows while holding a gun.  I don’t really care much about which Roman daughter is crowned the next queen of country music but I definitely do what to know who Trace has been burying for the past three episodes.

Night Flight (NightFlight+)

From the 80s, it was a look at women in rock, from Janis Joplin and Grace Slick to Stevie Nicks.  I watched on Friday night.  The music was good.

Password (Weekday Afternoons, BUZZR)

I watched two episodes of this old game show on Tuesday.  Apparently, the aim was to try to guess a word and win money.  The episodes I saw were from the mid-70s and the most interesting thing about them was how cheap and run-down the show’s set looked.  One got the feeling that the whole studio probably reeked of cigarettes and spilled beer.

Saving Grace (Weekday Nights, Start TV)

On this show, which apparently ran for three seasons, Holly Hunter played an Oklahoma detective who, after she accidentally ran over a pedestrian after a night of drinking, was told by a fallen angel named Earl that she was going to go to Hell unless she changed her ways.  So, apparently, the rest of the show was about Grace solving crimes and talking to Earl.  How have I never heard of this show before?  It aired from 2007 to 2010 and Hunter was even nominated for two Emmy awards for playing Grace.

Anyway, the episode that I watched on Wednesday night featured Grace trying to solve a murder while another angel (F. Murray Abraham) tried to convince her to abandon Earl and work with him.  It was odd but Holly Hunter is always good and the show took place in Oklahoma so, as someone who spent some time in Oklahoma while she was growing up, I felt like I could relate to most of the characters.

Super Password (Weekday Afternoons, BUZZR)

I watched two episodes of this show on Tuesday.  It was just like Password, except the set looked cleaner.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.1 “The Dead We Leave Behind” (dir by Paul Stanley)

During the month of October, we like to share classic episodes of horror-themed television.  That was easier to do when we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens because every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.

However, there is some good news!  Twilight Zone may be gone but there are other horror shows on YouTube!  For instance, I’ve discovered that, in 1972, there was a horror anthology series that was originally called Ghost Story.  It was produced by William Castle and each episode featured a different guest star having to deal with the supernatural.

The show made its debut on September 15th, 1972.  In this episode, Sebastian Cabot (playing the role of the mysterious Winston Essex) introduces a story about the mortality and technology.  Jason Robards and Stella Stevens are a married couple who discover that their television cannot only predict the future but that also one of them is going to die!

Enjoy the first episode of Ghost Story!

Retro Television Review: California Dreams 1.9 “Mother and Child Reunion” and 1.10 “Romancing The Tube”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Last week, California Dreams dealt with both racism and misogyny.  It was two heavy episodes, featuring important lessons about the problems of the world.  Would the trend continue?  Let us find out!

Surf dudes with attitude, feeling mellow, let’s get on with it….

Episode 1.9 “Mother and Child Reunion”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 7th, 1992)

It’s been over a month since the Dreams last had a gig.  Maybe they should break up!  Matt thinks that they just need to practice more.  (Of course, being a music camp kid, he would say that, wouldn’t he?)  Sly thinks that the band need to change its image and be less beach-y.  Considering what was going on in music in the early to mid-90s, Sly probably has a point.  Anyway, Sly goes out and buys a smoke machine so that the Dreams can use it to change their middlebrow image.  Maybe they just need a new lead singer.  WHERE’S JAKE!?

Now, the smoke machine and the edgy image stuff is actually kind of cute but the majority of the show revolves around Tiffani and her mom.  It turns out that Tiffani’s mom essentially abandoned her when Tiffani was only six.  For ten years, Tiffani’s mom worked as a dancer in New York.  Now, she’s back in California.  At first, everyone is shocked by the fact that Tiffani doesn’t seem to be angry at her mom but it turns out that Tiffani is angry and that anger finally comes out at Tiffani’s 16th birthday party when her mom suggests that Tiffany come live with her for a year.

By the standards of California Dreams’s first season, this wasn’t a bad episode.  Kelly Packard did a good job of portraying Tiffani’s anger.  Plus, this episode did have one good joke, in which Sly tried to rename the band The California Nightmares in an attempt to change their image.  They should have stuck with the new name.

Episode 1.10 “Romancing The Tube” 

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 14th, 1992)

This was a weird episode.  I’ve seen plenty of episodes of California Dreams but somehow, I never knew that Sly and Tiffani were a couple for an episode.  Apparently, Tiffany and Sly fell for each other while Tiffany was teaching Sly how to surf.  It all led to a “Surf Soul Swapping” ceremony, which was overseen by Peter Tork of the Monkees.  However, at the last minute, Tiffani realized that she was just using Sly as a rebound to help her get over her ex.  And Sly never really wanted to be in a committed relationship to begin with.  So, they broke up and I guess it all worked out in the end.

Meanwhile, Matt, Jenny, and Tony were supposed to paint a room in the Garrison House in return for Mrs. Garrison paying them $300 so they could get a new lighting system.  But then they got bored and abandoned the job.  Fortunately, the new lighting system turned out to be a bust so they tricked Mrs. Garrison into taking it off their hands.  No one learned a thing, which was probably about as realistic as California Dreams ever got.

Weird episode.

Retro Television Review: One World 1.9 “Two Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and 1.10 “Ben’s Brother”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

This week, Ben discovers he has a brother and Sui and Jane discover that they have no choice but to live together, regardless of how little they have in common.  It’s all a part of living in …. one world!

Episode 1.9 “Two Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on November 14th, 1998)

“You’re not a better parent than our Dad,” Neal says at one point in this episode, “When we kids aren’t in jail, we’re pretty great.”

And he’s got a point.  The Blake children are a good group of people but they certainly do seem to spend a lot of time in jail.

When they’re not in jail, they’re getting visited by social workers who are trying to figure out why they’re still free.  In this episode, a social worker suggests that Jane and Sui see a therapist to determine why they’re incapable of getting along.  Jane thinks that Sui is spoiled.  Sui thinks that Jane is unstable and destructive.  It turns out that they’re both right!  But it also turns out that, underneath their hostility, they secretly care about each other and neither wants to see the other kicked out of the house.

Meanwhile, Mr. Blake is challenged to a bowling game by another coach and Ben tries to convince Marci to include him in a calendar of sexy Miamians.  It’s all a bit disjointed, to be honest.  This is another one of those episodes that seems to have been randomly pieced together with footage that was found on the editing room floor.  Still, I’ll give the episode some credit for its title.

Episode 1.10 “Ben’s Brother”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on November 21st, 1998)

“I just can’t believe I’ve got an identical twin brother!” Ben declares, shortly after meeting Bryan (Denny Kirkwood).

It’s true.  Even though Ben didn’t know it, he had a twin brother who was adopted by another family.  When Bryan learned of Ben’s existence, he came out to Miami to find him.  When they happen to run into each at The Warehouse (a.k.a., Miami’s Hottest Under-21 Club), they’re both overjoyed.  Bryan is even happier when he meets Jane.  It turns out that Bryan likes bad girls and, as was casually mentioned a few episodes ago, Jane is kind of in love with Ben.  Since Ben is dating Alex, why not just go out with someone who shares his face and his DNA?  Besides, the audience keeps going, “Woooo!” whenever Bryan and Jane talk to each other.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Bryan has a gambling addiction.  Bizarrely enough, City Guys also did a show about being addicted to gambling and I’m pretty sure that Hang Time eventually did an episode about gambling as well.  Was teenage gambling a huge problem in the 90s?  Because of the fact that they both look exactly alike, Ben discovers that Bryan is in trouble with some dangerous people but Jane refuses to break up with him because she’s a rebel.  Go, Jane, go!

In the show’s B-plot, Neal and Sui went on a game show.  Sui got mad at Neal for insisting on answering all of the questions himself.  Unfortunately, for the final question, Neal gets asked the name of the “pop singer who wore a cone bra on her Blonde Ambition tour.”  Somehow, Neal doesn’t know that it was Madonna.  Sui tries to answer the question but spends too much time talking and doesn’t beat the buzzer.  Oh well.  At least Sui gets to wear a really cute pair of boots on the game show.

So, in short, Jane is now dating a gambling addict, Ben is dating an alcoholic, and Marci and Sui are the best characters on the show.  What will happen next week?

A Blast From The Blast: Rob McElhenney Says Don’t Smoke

I don’t even smoke and I still think anti-smoking commercials are annoying.

Take this one from 1999, in which some weirdo harasses students as they try to leave their high school.  He gets an interview from one student, who seems to be annoyed with the whole thing and …. OH MY GOD, THAT’S ROB MCELHENNEY FROM IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA!

We finished?

Retro Television Review: City Guys 1.9 “Future Shock” and 1.10 “Easy Money”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Believe it or not, there’s a “lost” episode of City Guys.

According to Wikipedia, an episode called “The Movie” aired on November 1st, 1997.  Here’s the plot description: Jamal and Chris decide to make a film using the school’s video camera. Things gets hairy when Ms. Noble wants to see their progress on the yearbook video.  

Sound like fun, right?  Unfortunately, it appears that “The Movie” was not included in City Guys‘s syndication package and, as a result, it’s also not available to stream on Tubi or anywhere else online.  So, we’ll just have to accept that “The Movie” is lost to us.  That said, it is nice to see that the show apparently attempted to return to the video yearbook storyline.  For something that was supposed to be a big, year-long project, it certainly doesn’t appear that Chris and Jamal spent much time working on it.

For instance, in the two episodes that are reviewed below, they both manage to develop a gambling addiction and Jamal faces his own mortality.  But no one says a damn thing about the video yearbook.

Anyway, roll with the city guys!

City Guys 1.9 “Future Shock”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 8th, 1997)

“Meet Charlie Gresham,” Ms. Noble tells Jamal after he runs into Charlie (Corey Parker) in Noble’s office, “your class president.”

But wait a minute?  Didn’t they elect a new class president in the previous episode?  As you may remember, Cassidy, Dawn, and El-Train were all running for the office.  Who the Hell is this Charlie Gresham guy?  I’ve already pointed out that, even in its first season, City Guys struggled with continuity but this has got to be one of the show’s most glaring examples of just not keeping track of stuff.  Did no one involved in the production care?  I mean, even Saved By The Bell managed to remember that Jessie was class president.

Charlie is a lovable and charismatic class clown who is also a straight A student.  He’s even got a scholarship to Harvard!  He and Jamal meet and become best friends the same day!  But then, the next morning, Ms. Noble announces that Charlie has been killed by a drunk driver.  Bye, Charlie!

Jamal is so upset over the death of someone who he’s known for less than 24 hours that he decides that there’s no point of studying to do well on his PSATs.  Character actor Clyde Kusatsu shows up as the therapist who is brought in to help everyone come to the terms with the death of a universally loved classmate whom none of them had ever mentioned before.  Kusatsu is always good.

Actually, the entire cast does a good job in this one.  It perhaps would have been more powerful if Charlie had actually been seen (or even referred to) prior to this episode but, given the show’s lack of concern with continuity, I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie turns up alive in a future episode.  That said, Ms. Noble asking Jamal to deliver the eulogy at Charlie’s memorial service felt a bit weird.  They’d know each other for about 8 hours before Charlie died.  “I don’t know what to say!” Jamal says.  Yeah, I wouldn’t know what to say at a complete stranger’s funeral either.

Anyway, Charlie’s ghost comes back and encourages Jamal to keep on studying.  That was nice of him.  This episode ends with a totally unironic performance of Kumbaya.  That takes guts.

City Guys 1.10 “Easy Money”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 15th, 1997)

Chris and Jamal start making bets on football games!  They make a ton of money and they’re even able to go out and buy totally happening portable televisions!

Unfortunately, when they try to become bookies themselves (don’t ask), they end up owing $400 to El-Train and his cousin.  Yes, El-Train returns in the episode.  When we last saw him, he was running for class president and determined to turn his life around.  In this episode, he’s back to being the much feared school bully.  He’s so intimidating that Chris and Jamal steal $400 from the school raffle.  These city guys may be smart and streetwise but are they really the neat guys?  I’m having my doubts.

Anyway, everyone confesses in the end and Ms. Noble punishes them by forcing them to clean the school furnace for free.  Unfortunately, Chris and Jamal also had to give back their portable televisions.  What a shame.

The message is don’t gamble but the subtext is that Jamal didn’t learn a damn thing from Charlie Gresham’s death.  Hopefully, next week’s episodes will find him behaving in a way that would have made Charlie proud.