Retro Television Review: One World 3.3 “The Two Year Itch” and 3.4 “The Race Car”

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, Jane makes a new friend and Cray gets a new car!  That’s life when you’re living in one world.

Episode 3.3 “The Two Year Itch”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on October 7th, 2000)

Early on in this episode, Sui’s purse is stolen.

“My life was in that purse!” Sui says.

“You mean like your money and your ID card?” Marci says.

“No, I mean my gum!”

This is a joke format that One World used quite frequently and it always felt incredibly awkward.  It’s certainly not a reflection of how real people talk.  Perhaps that’s understandable, given that this is a TNBC show.  But One World was also meant to be edgy and realistic, a step away from the silliness of Saved By The Bell.  The show’s combination of corny jokes and real world issues was strange at best and cringey at worst.

As for the rest of this episode, it follows Jane as she tracks down Jessie, the runaway who stole Sui’s purse.  It turns out that Jessie is a homeless teenager who is struggling to survive, just as Jane once was.  Jessie has an attitude, just like Jane once did.  Jane decides to take Jessie home with her.  Jane arranges for Jessie to crash in the hippie van that the family refurbished last season but Jane also goes out of her way to try to keep the Blakes from discovering that Jessie is there.  Why?  Because this is a stupid show.

Anyway, the Blake kids see Jane sneaking around and keeping secrets and they decide that she must be on drugs.  An attempted intervention leads to the Blakes discovering that Jessie has been living in the van.  Jessie runs away but later, she decides to go to social services and “enter the system” so she can find a family like Jane’s.  It’s a good thing that the American foster system is known for being efficient and well-managed.

In the B-plot, Cray is selected to appear in an orange juice commercial.  Cray becomes totally focused on getting an agent and pursuing a show biz career.  Dave asks Cray why he’s behaving like this and asks, “Why can’t you just rob a liquor store like other child actors?”  In all fairness, Brandon Baker is actually kind of funny as he lets fame go to his head.  But again, he gets tripped up by One World‘s dumb joke structure.  When he finds out that he’s being replaced as the spokesman for the orange juice company, we get this gem:

“You are being replaced.”

“By a big star?”

“By JoJo the Wonderchimp.”

Seriously …. So.  Cringey.

Episode 3.4 “The Race Car”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on October 14th, 2000)

The Warehouse, Miami’s “hottest under-21 club,” is holding a contest.  Whoever can keep their hand on a car for the longest amount of time wins it!  Cray wins the car, despite the fact that Marci is assistant manager of the Warehouse and Cray should have been disqualified for being a relative.  Since Cray is only 13, he needs to find someone to drive him around all the time.  St. Neal refuses to do it.  Ben can’t do it because his license is suspended because he keeps parking in handicap spots.  (The audience laughs, even though it’s really not funny.)

Jane agrees to drive Cray around but Jane also leaves the keys in the car.  When Neal and Ben decide to take the car for a joyride, they get approached by a cop who demands to know if they own the car.  When Neal attempts to explain that the car belongs to his “little brother,” the cop accuses Neal of being a gang member and arrests him.  When Ben attempts to explain that Neal is not in a gang, he gets arrested as well.

While Neal and Ben languish in jail, Sui and Marci get ultracompetitive over a tennis game and opening up a jar of pickles.  Naturally, Sui is the ultimate winner because Sui is the coolest character ever.

During this episode, Karen mentioned several times that she was pregnant.  This was a plot development that I has forgotten and, from the amount of times that it was mentioned during this episode, I’m guessing the writers had only recently remembered it as well.

The episode ends with Neal telling off the racist cop while also defending good cops and making it clear that the bad cop was just an aberration, which is the type of ending that would get this show slammed by the AV Club today.  Back in 2000, though, the audience loved it.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.3 “Alley Oops” and 3.4 “Face the Music”

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!

Let’s get this over weight.  No, no …. I’m not at all second-guessing my decision to sit through every episode of City Guys.  Not at all …. this is definitely the best decision that I’ve ever made.

Episode 3.3 “Alley Oops”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 18th, 1999)

Oh God.  This episode not only features a lot of bowling but Ms. Nobel gets a storyline as well.

Even though it’s never been mentioned before, it turns out that Jamal, Chris, Al, and Dawn are all on the same bowling team.  What?  Like seriously, where did this come from?  Anyway, it turns out that the team would be great except for the fact that Dawn is a terrible bowler.  Okay, that makes sense.  There’s never been any indication that Dawn would be a good bowler.  And since Dawn has never been portrayed as being a member of the group’s “inner circle,” you have to kind of wonder how she ended up on the team in first place.

Anyway, there’s a big game coming up against a Puerto Rican team that is led by the flamboyant Lupe Guadalupe (Jose Urbina).  One of the interesting things about City Guys is that for all of its “Open up your eyes, we’re all the same” rhetoric and liberal posturing, it was a show that had absolutely no problem making fun of people of either Asian or Spanish descent.  Lupe and his team all speak with exaggerated accents and randomly drop Spanish words into their conversation, which the live studio audience finds to be hilarious.  On the one hand, Lupe is a stereotype.  On the other hand, he’s also the best character in this episode because he never stop taunting the City Guys.  Lupe is the better bowler and he knows it and he makes no apologies and it’s impossible not to enjoy the exaggerated rituals that he goes through before rolling the ball down the lane.  Considering that this show often acted as if Jamal and Chris were the center of the universe, it’s good to see a character who doesn’t have any respect for them and who is actually better than them at something.  Go Lupe!

Anyway, realizing that she sucks, Dawn fakes a wrist injury so that L-Train can take her place on the team.  L-Train is a great bowler and it looks like the City Guys might win the trophy!  But then Dawn cheers too hard and the cast on her wrist flies off.  Everyone really she wasn’t actually injured and an important lesson is learned about something.  I don’t know what the lesson was to be honest.  I don’t bowl.

While this was going on, Ms. Nobel developed a crush on the new substitute teacher, Mr. Washington.  But then she saw Mr. Washington with a younger woman and she assumed she was his girlfriend.  It turns out she was just his sister so yay!  Ms. Nobel’s getting it tonight.

Let’s move on….

Episode 3.4 “Face The Music”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 18th, 1999)

“Lionel,” Ms. Nobel tells L-Train towards the end of this episode, “I think you learned an important lesson tonight.  Before you show your songs to anyone, you should copyright them.”

Finally!  A lesson that all of City Guys‘s audience could take to heart!

Anyway, in this episode, it’s revealed that L-Train is a huge fan of the blues, a songwriter, and a follower of Slick Willie (Sherman Hemsley), a veteran bluesman.  Much as with the bowling league, all of this kind of came out of nowhere but, by this point, I’m kind of used to that as far as City Guys is concerned.  L-Train, Chris, and Jamal go to see Slick Willie perform at the local blues club.  L-Train lets Slick Willie see one of this songs.  Slick Willie steals the song and puts it on his next album.

Didn’t the same thing happen to Jake on California Dreams?

This felt like a bit of a throw-away episode, as if Peter Engel called the writers into his office and said, “We’ve got Sherman Hemsley for a day, find something for him to do!” and the writers panicked and just recycled an old California Dreams script.  It’s funny that a show about copyright law basically stole its plot from another show.  How much you want to bet that we’ll never hear another word about L-Train being an aspiring blues musician?

Eh.  You’re disappointing me, City Guys!


Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.14 “Isaac’s Double Standard / One More Time / Chimpanzeeshines”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

It’s time for love and monkeys!

Episode 1.14 “Isaac’s Double Standard / One More Time / Chimpanzeeshines”

(Dir by James Sheldon and Richard Kinon, originally aired on January 14th, 1978)

This is a bit of an odd episode.

It’s odd because it features yet another stowaway.  Somehow various characters were always managing to stow away on the boat.  This week, the stowaway was a chimpanzee.  How did a chimpanzee get on the boat?  Gopher brought her on.  Apparently, Gopher was under the impression that he had the week off so he agreed to look after a friend’s chimpanzee.  Then he discover that he actually was working that week so he decided that it would be a good idea to smuggle the chimpanzee onto the boat.  Of course, it doesn’t take long for Isaac and Julie to discover that Gopher has a chimpanzee in his cabin.  Neither one of them appears to be surprised that Gopher has a friend who owns a chimpanzee.  Me, I would want more information on whether or not Gopher’s friend worked for a circus or a zoo or a research lab.  I mean, most people just don’t own chimpanzees as pets.  Instead, everyone just accepts that Gopher is living with a monkey and that it is now their duty to keep Captain Stubing from finding out.

Of course, the chimpanzee gets loose.  She runs around the ship, stealing food and clothes and surprising passengers.  Fortunately, she’s a well-trained chimpanzee and she doesn’t try to kill anyone.  In real life, Chimpanzees are known for being extremely dangerous and unpredictable.  On shows like this, they’re adorable! 

While looking for the chimp, Gopher meets and has a romance with Anne Parker (Kim Lankford), who has just had a nose job.  She’s insecure about her new nose.  Everyone assures her that her new nose looks great.  And it does!  As someone who spent most of her teen years planning on getting a nose job, I was really impressed with it.  (For the record, I still have my original nose and I now realize I wouldn’t change it for the world.)

While Gopher is dealing with the chimp, Isaac is freaking out because his mother (Pearl Bailey) is on the ship with her new boyfriend (Arthur Adams) and they’re sharing a cabin!  Isaac is being a little bit hypocritical because he happens to be sharing a cabin with his girlfriend, Charlene (Tracy Reed).  Isaac finally realizes he’s not being fair and he accepts the fact that his mother is having sex at his workplace.  So, it all works out.

Meanwhile, in our third storyline, Nanentte Fabray is a singer who is hired to provide the cruise’s entertainment.  She’s upset to discover that her pianist (Don Adams) is also her ex-partner.  Don’t worry, they get back together by the end of the cruise.  Of course, everyone’s too busy looking for the chimpanzee to notice.

This was not a terrible episode, just an odd one.  The Nanette Fabray/Don Adams storyline was pretty forgettable and, though it’s always cool when Ted Lange actually gets to do something other than make drinks, Isaac’s family situation played out predictably.  What made this episode stand out, for better or worse, was all the business with the chimpanzee.  How Gopher kept his job after that, I have no idea.  Chimpanzees have been known to kill people if they get stressed out and being dragged onto a cruise ship by a stranger seems like it would be a stressful situation.  Still, after all that, Gopher kept his job.  I’m beginning to think that Captain Stubing might not be the disciplinarian that the crew things he is.

Next week, we’ve got more love but hopefully less monkeys.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.13 “Fool For A Client/Double Your Pleasure”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week’s episode of Fantasy Island is …. well, let’s just say that not every fantasy can be a winner.

Episode 1.13 “Fool For A Client/Double Your Pleasure”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on May 13th, 1978)

This episode begins with Tattoo suffering from a toothache and Mr. Roarke giving him a hard time about it.  Indeed, Mr. Roarke seems to take an almost sadistic delight in telling Tattoo that he shall have to see a dentist.  The relationship of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo strikes me as being an odd one.  On the one hand, Roarke allows Tattoo to handle the money and Tattoo appears to be the second-in-command.  One assumes that, if Mr. Roarke ever went on vacation, Tattoo would be left in charge.  At the same time, Mr. Roarke doesn’t seem to particularly like Tattoo and he seems to take a lot of pleasure from the various humiliations that Tattoo suffers on a weekly basis.  From what I understand, Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize were not exactly friends offscreen so perhaps, this is just a case of reality bleeding into fiction.

Anyway, Tattoo’s toothache is perhaps the most interesting thing about this episode.  Both of the fantasies are kind of lame.

In the first fantasy, Ken Berry plays Larry, a blue collar guy who has spent 12 years working on the Alaskan pipeline.  His fantasy is to spend the weekend with two beautiful women.  No sooner has Larry arrived on Fantasy Island, then he meets Nina (Caren Kaye).  She’s beautiful and Larry’s happy.  Then he meets Dina, who is Nina’s twin sister and, because of the whole twin thing, she’s beautiful and Larry is happy.  EXCEPT …. it turns out that there’s only one woman and her fantasy was to pretend to be a twin for the weekend.  Wait …. what?  I mean, it works out.  Dina and Larry fall in love and they leave together but it seems like Larry didn’t really get his fantasy and, at the very least, he deserves a partial refund.  

In the second fantasy, comedian Rich Little plays Herb Costigan, a paralegal who wants to be the world’s greatest lawyer.  Mr. Roarke sets him up with a house on the “other side of the island,” which Roarke explains is populated by rich people who apparently have vacation homes on Fantasy Island.  Roarke has told everyone that Costigan is a world-famous attorney.  However, when a murder occurs, Costigan is framed for the crime and soon, he’s defending himself in court!  Eventually, it turns out that there was no murder and the supposed victim just faked his death and is now wandering around the Island with a fake beard glued to his face.  It really doesn’t make any sense but this fantasy does establish that the island is, at the very least, a territory of the United States as there’s a big American flag in the courtroom.

Neither one of these stories really worked for me, largely because neither Ken Berry nor Rich Little seemed to be particularly invested in their characters.  It also doesn’t help that Berry and Little shared a superficial physical resemblance, to the extent that it was often a struggle to keep straight who was having which fantasy.

In the end, Tattoo’ toothache was the highlight of this show.  Fortunately, it just turned out to be his wisdom teeth coming in.  Take that, Mr. Roarke!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”

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!

Season 2 comes to an end with …. The Best Game of the Season!

Episode 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 30th, 1996)

The final episode of season 2 begins with Mary Beth screaming, “9-11!  Girl in trouble!”

It turns out that Mary Beth was trying to clean the backboard in the gym when the ladder fell over.  Now, she’s caught in the net!  The team runs into the gym.  They’re impressed by Mary Beth’s dedication but then they remember that she just wants to get a car that she’ll apparently receive if the team makes the playoffs.  “I thought she had Tornado Fever!” Josh says and the entire team laughs about how the whole school has Tornado Fever.  Julie agrees that there is no way that the Tornadoes aren’t going to make it to the playoffs.  Fuller yells at everyone for getting cocky and forgetting that they still have to win one more game.  Uh, guys …. SOMEONE RESCUE MARY BETH!  Eventually, Vince sets up the ladder and climbs up to the backboard to save Mary Beth.  But then ladder falls over again and …. ha! …. Vince is trapped as well.

Fuller tells Julie to come talk to him in the locker room after practice.  It turns out that there’s a man with a fake Italian accent waiting for the two of them.  Coach Fuller explains that the man coaches “the Women’s International Basketball Team in Milan.”

“Really!?” Julie exclaims, “Milan, Italy!?”


Anyway, Coach Mario wants Julie to come play for him in Europe.  Fuller thinks that Julie needs to focus on high school and college before going pro.  Fuller explains that graduating from high school and college will make Julie a more mature and better player.  Somewhere, LeBron James is laughing.  (And that, quite frankly, is the extent of my LeBron James knowledge.)  In a rather creepy moment, Mario says that he knows all about Julie, including that Chris cheated on her before going to college.  WHAT!?  Julie finds nothing strange about this.

“I-a know it-a is-a big decision,” the actor playing Mario says.

Later, in the school hallway, Josh tells Julie that she should take the opportunity but that he would really miss her if she goes.  Julie kisses him.  “Wooooooo!’ the audience says.  Amy suggests that Julie should just go to the tryouts and see what it’s like before making a final decision.  Julie says that’s not a bad idea.  Danny says, “Plus, you probably won’t make the team anyways.”  Julie glares at him but Danny’s only saying what we’re all thinking.

At the mall, everyone listens as Mary Beth and Vince debate whether or not it’s better to get a BMW or an old mustang convertible.  But then Julie shows up and tells everyone that she went to the try-outs and she played the best ball of her life.  Then Fuller shows up and tells Julie that she made it.  Everyone gets excited.

“I made it!” Julie says.

“There’s something else you have to make,” Fuller says, somberly.  “A decision …. by this Monday.”

But what about the car!?

The next day, Fuller is frustrated because the team is more interested in talking about Julie’s decision about going to Italy than practicing.  Julie announces that she’s going to Italy.  The team freaks out.  Fortunately, Mary Beth ends the fight by announcing that she washed the scoreboard with soapy water.  Sparks fly across the gym.  Everyone’s upset about the scoreboard but I’m just happy that Mary Beth didn’t get electrocuted.

At the mall, everyone gathers at The Stadium (I just remembered that’s the name of the crappy restaurant where they all hang out) to say goodbye to Julie.  Everyone except for Mary Beth and Vince!  Those two try to run a buffer over the gym floor but they accidentally grab a sander instead.  The gym floor is destroyed.  “Oops!” Vince says.

The next morning, Josh approaches Julie in school and gives her two tickets to a lecture from someone who I assume is a basketball player.  I assume this not because I recognized the name but because every guest star on Hang Time was a basketball player.  Unfortunately, Julie has just learned that she had to leave for training camp right away.  No lecture.  No going away party.  And no playing in the final game.  The Tornadoes are doomed!

Coach Fuller steps into the gym and freaks out when he discover Vince and Mary Beth repairing the floor.  Accompanying Fuller is an 10-foot tall woman who I assume is a basketball player.  While Fuller yells at Vince and Mary Beth in his office, Julie steps in to the gym and talks to the basketball player.  The player and Julie dribble the ball around and Julie is so thoroughly humiliated that she realizes that she’s been way too cocky about going to Italy.  The player orders Julie to stay in school and go to college.

At the big game, Julie shows up and announces that she’s not going to Italy and she’s ready to lead the team to the playoffs!  Except …. The Tornadoes lose by one point!  YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO ITALY, JULIE!  Julie assures everyone that they just played “the best game of the season.”  No, you lost, Julie!  Maybe if you had gone to practice instead of spending your time packing for Italy, the team would have gone to the championship!  Still, no one is upset at Julie because no one on this show is ever allowed to call out Julie being more than a bit self-absorbed.

And so season 2 ends.  Next week, season 3 begins!  Will Julie and Josh be able to lead the Tornadoes to another championship?  Julie might but Josh won’t because his character didn’t return for season 3.  Who will replace him?  Tune in next week to find out!

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 11/27/22 — 12/3/22

Here’s a thought or two on what I watched this week:

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

With Janine struggling with food poisoning, Ava was forced to leave her office and teach Janine’s class.  I loved this episode.  Ava is a wonderful comedic character but Janelle James never allows her to turn into a caricature.

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

We have our final three and I couldn’t be happier with the three teams that made it!  I’ll be rooting for Derek and Claire but, honestly, I could be happy with any of the teams winning.  I wrote about this week’s episode at Reality TV Chat Blog!

Bachelor In Paradise (Hulu)

I got caught up with the latest season’s finale on Sunday.  This season didn’t do much for me.

California Dreams (YouTube)

I watched two episodes of California Dreams and then I reviewed them!  They’re here on the site, somewhere….

City Guys (Tubi)

I watched and reviewed two episodes of City Guys.  I did it all for you!

Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields (Netflix)

I watched this 3-part Netflix docuseries on Monday.  It deals with a stretch of land near Houston where it appears several different serial killers have been dumping the bodies of their victims.  As a Texan, this was a story that I’ve read quite a bit about and it always disturbs me, both because of the unbelievable tragedy involved and also the suggestion that there are multiple serial killers out there, all using the same stretch of highway.  The docuseries took a look at some of the victims but there’s been so many of them that it would probably take several seasons of Texas Killing Fields to tell all of their stories.  I was particularly touched by the story of Kelli Cox, who — as I would later be — was a student at UNT when she initially disappeared.

The docuseries also featured the efforts of Tim Miller, the father of one of the victims, to get justice for his daughter.  Miller is convinced that she was murdered by his former next-door neighbor and while you always do want to exercise caution when it comes to making accusations, he does make a pretty good case.

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night, FOX)

Eh.  There wasn’t a dinner service during this week’s episode.  That disappointed me.  The chance to witness people trying to send out raw food at the dinner services is pretty much the main reason why I watch this show.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (Hulu)

On Tuesday, I watched the episode with the Paddy Bucks.  It occurred to me, as I watched it, that It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia managed to predict crypto fraud.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Tuesday Night, CBS)

Yay!  Rudolph put those snotty reindeer in their place.  This is such an old special but it’s a classic and I love it.  Some television exec is probably going to try to do a new, updated version at some point in the future.  That’s just the way of the world now.  But the original is the one that has all the heart.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

Sami played a pretty good game but it came to an end this week.  It still freaks me out that his job is cremating dead pets.  I wrote about this week’s episode at the Reality TV Chat Blog.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 2.14 “21 Jake Street” and 2.15 “Can’t Buy Me Love”

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!

I do have to say that, having now watched several episodes of City Guys and One World, I actually appreciate California Dreams a bit more.  It was one of the better shows to be produced by Peter Engel, one of the crown jewels of the Engelverse.

Episode 2.14 “21 Jake Street”

(Originally aired on December 25th, 1993, directed by Don Barnart)

Wow, this episode premiered on Christmas Day?  Really?  How many families put off unwrapping presents so they could watch the latest adventures of the California Dreams?

There’s a new girl at PCH and all the male members of the Dreams want to date her.  However, the only guy that she’s interested in going out with is Jake.  Soon, Jake is dating her and …. WAIT A MINUTE!  Isn’t Jake dating Tiffani!?  Have we not gone through several episodes that have featured Jake dating Tiffani?  Yet now, Jake is dating a new girl and Tiffani isn’t even upset about it.  Once again, it appears that this episode was shown out of its intended order.  NBC was notorious for doing this with their morning sitcoms and, as a result, the continuity of California Dreams, City Guys. Hang Time, One World, and Saved By The Bell was always a mess.  At the time, it’s possible that no one noticed or cared.  Back in 1993, it wasn’t like people could hop on Twitter and demand to know whether Jake and Tiffani were still a couple.  And honestly, there are worse things in the world than sloppy continuity.  It’s just that, when you binge one of these shows, screwed-up continuity jumps out at you in a way that it might not otherwise.

Anyway, the new girl is really interested in Sly’s plan to get fake IDs so that the Dreams can play in a 21-and-over club.  It turns out that she’s an undercover cop and she’s working to break a Fake ID ring!  If you only watched shows that took place in the Engelverse, you would be justified in thinking that fake IDs were the biggest problem in high schools in the 1990s.  Saved By The Bell, Hang Time, City Guys, California Dreams, they all did at least one episode about fake IDs.

The fake ID dealer is arrested.  Sly nearly gets arrested as well but he’s allowed to go free after he promises to never buy a fake ID again.  That’s not really how the legal system works but whatever.  Jake tells the undercover cop to look him up after he graduates from high school.  He says it right in front of Tiffani.  WHAT A JERK!

Meanwhile, Matt and Tony compete in an art competition.  Matt paints an abstract portrait of Sam.  Sam tells Matt that he has no talent.  Tony sculpts a bust of Tiffani and wins first prize after a large chunk of it is broken off.  Yay!  The art stuff was dumb but kind of cute.  The cast had just enough chemistry to pull it off.

Episode 2.15 “Can’t Buy Me Love”

(Originally aired on January 8th, 1994, directed by Don Barnhart)

The high school needs a new scoreboard for the gym so Tiffani decides that the perfect way to raise money would be told hold a slave auction!

Okay, technically, it’s a “servant” auction but the idea is that, once someone buys you, you do whatever they say for an entire week.  And you don’t get paid and you don’t really get any say in what you’re ordered to do and …. well, it’s a slave auction, okay?  Oddly enough, buying people was a frequent theme in the Engelverse.  Saved By The Bell, Hang Time, and City Guys all had episodes that featured date auctions.

Anyway, if that premise wasn’t awkward enough, the show’s only regular black character, Tony, agrees to be sold.  He’s hoping that he’ll be purchased by his crush.  Instead, dumbass Matt scratches his head during the auction and he ends up accidentally buying Tony!  Agck!  At first, Matt refuses to give Tony any orders but, eventually, he does ask Tony to do a few things.  Matt feels so guilty about it that he ends up becoming Tony’s servant.

Meanwhile, Sly buys the most popular girl in the school because he’s convinced that he can brainwash her into loving him.  (Good Lord, what is with this episode?)  However, the girl turns out to hate Sly so much that all of his efforts go nowhere and she ends up telling everyone in the school what a sleazy dork he is.  For some reason, we are now supposed to feel bad for Sly, despite the fact that he is kind of a sleazy dork.

Jake gets purchased by a group of cheerleaders who drive him crazy by being overly peppy.  Tiffani is purchased by Sam, who really enjoys bossing her around.  To be honest, Sam buying Tiffani (at a discount because Tiffani is the last person left to be auctioned off) is a lot funnier than you might expect.  That’s largely because Jennie Kwan had the best comic timing of any of the second season cast members.  As played by Kwan, Sam is an agent of chaos and her cheerfully destructive performance contrasts nicely with Kelly Packard’s much more earnest performance as Tiffani.

This is an episode that probably shouldn’t work but it does.  The entire premise is incredibly problematic but the cast had a strong enough chemistry that they could even gets laughs out of the dumbest of situations.  I already mentioned the comedic team of Jennie Kwan and Kelly Packard but Michael Cade and Jay Anthony Franke also make for a good team in this episode.  Sly and Jake were probably the most cliched characters on the show but Franke and Cade both brought a lot of energy to their performances and they played well off of each other.  As with so many of the second season episodes, you find yourself laughing almost despite yourself.

Next week, hopefully no one will be sold or brainwashed.  It’s supposed to be about the music, people!

Retro Television Review: One World 3.1 “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and 3.2 “Push Comes To Shove”

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

It’s time for the third and final season of One World!

Episode 3.1 “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on September 23rd, 2000)

At the end of season 2 of One World, Neal and Jane were both facing an uncertain future.  Having been caught cheating on the SAT, they had been banned from retaking the test and they were both going to have to figure out a way to get into a good college with no SAT score.  It was a pretty dark situation.  Neal even said that it was now going to take him a little bit longer to achieve his dreams.  I was curious to see how the show would handle this situation in season 3.

The first episode of season 3 handled the developments of season 2 in much the same way that most TNBC shows handled any sort of unexpected drama.  They ignored it.  Over the course of the first episode of season 3, no mention was made of the SAT or college.  Neal is apparently still in high school (though he was a senior last season) and he’s got the highest GPA of anyone in his class.  Once again, his future is bright!  Jane, meanwhile, is no longer talking about college but she does now have a really awful spiky hairstyle.  Seriously, I want slap whoever it was who decided to dye her hair that color of yellow.  It totally washes out all of her features.

As for Ben, Cray, Sui, and Marci …. well, they’re pretty much the same.  Marci is still materialistic.  Cray is still dorky.  Ben is still dumb,  And Sui is still way too cool for this show.

The first episode featured a guest turn from James Avery, playing Mr. Richard, the father of Neal’s girlfriend, Kate.  (Yes, there is a joke about how he “looks like the guy from Fresh Prince.”)  Mr, Richard is a successful and wealthy attorney and a Harvard graduate.  When Neal mentions that he used to be in a gang, Mr. Richard forbids Kate (Tasha Taylor) from dating Neal.  Neal confronts Mr. Richard and accuses him of being prejudiced.  (“Ohhhhhh!” the audience says.)  Mr. Richard tells Neal to watch his mouth.  (“Ahhhhh!” the audience responds.)

Later, Kate sneaks into the Blake home and tells Neal that she’s willing to defy her father but Neal says that he won’t go against her father’s wishes because he still has the same integrity that caused him to get banned from taking the SAT.  (No, Neal doesn’t bring up the SAT.  That’s just me wondering what happened to that whole storyline.)  Mr. Richard is moved by Neal’s integrity and decides that he’s okay with his daughter dating a former gang member who was will basically never be able to get into a good college.

On the one hand, Neal has a point about giving people a second chance and judging people by their actions and not their past.  On the other hand, Mr. Richard is played by James Avery, who was a far better actor than the material deserved.  The character is written to just be a snob but Avery instead turns him into a father who sincerely cares about his daughter.  So, despite the show’s intentions, Mr. Richard actually comes across as being more sympathetic than either his flighty daughter or the somewhat self-righteous Neal.

Meanwhile, Marci buys a bunch of clothes online but discovers that they were stolen.  The most interesting thing about this storyline is that everyone is shocked to discover that you can buy things online.  I guess that’s 2000 for you!

Episode 3.2 “Push Comes to Shove”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on September 30, 2000)

Cray has a bully!  Earl (Joshua Boyd) goes from demanding the Cray bring him a sandwich to demanding that Cray bring him money.  Jane counsels Cray to beat Earl up.  (Has she not seen Cray?  Cray’s not beating anyone up.)  St. Neal suggests that Cray should turn the other cheek and remember that violence solves nothing.  Neal, however, turns out to be a huge hypocrite because, when he talks to Earl, he ends up getting into a fight with him.  Neal beats up Earl (off-screen, of course) but he then has an ethical crisis over having violated his principles.  Good Lord, Neal’s annoying.

Meanwhile, Jane is dating Bradley Covington, the scion of the richest family in town.  Bradley asks out Jane despite her terrible hair and the fact that the supercool Sui was in the same room.  Bradley takes Jane to a country club and we get a badly acted scene in which Jane stands up to Bradley’s snooty cousin.  That whole subplot didn’t really go anywhere.

Well, that’s not a great start to season 3.  Hopefully, next week will be a bit better!

Retro Television Review: City Guys 3.1 “Greece Is The Word” and 3.2 “Mr. Baseball”

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!

Season 3 of City Guys begins with a new school year!  Interestingly enough, everyone was either a junior or a senior when this show began so you really do have to wonder why they’re all still going to Manny High.  I mean, L-Train was investigating colleges just a few episodes ago!

It’s almost as if TNBC just didn’t care….

Episode 3.1 “Greece Is The Word”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 11th, 1999)

Oh, Christ.  Let’s get into this….

A new school year has begun!  Al and L-Train are looking forward to hazing freshmen.  Dawn has sworn that she is not going to spread herself too thin this semester.  Jamal shows up on campus and all of the students applaud.  Chris shows up and explains that he spent his summer in Greece and had a romance with a girl named Ariana.  Chris and Jamal do not do their stupid radio program so maybe that’s something that the show has finally abandoned.

Anyway, Ms. Nobel thinks that a school dance will be the perfect way to start the year.  Cassidy and Chris immediately volunteer to organize the dance.  It can be a 50s dance, they decide.  Everyone can wear leather jackets and poodle skirts and they can have a hula hoop contest!  Is there some reason why these schools can never have a normal dance?  

In order to research the 50s, Chris and Cassidy go to an arthouse theater that is showing …. you’ve already guessed, I’m sure …. GREASE!  Chris and Cassidy end up making out while watching the movie so they are now officially dating.  Except …. uh-oh, what’s Ariana doing in New York!?  Her father is in New York on business so Ariana decided to come with him so she could see Chris.  It turns out that she still thinks that she’s dating Chris.  It also turns out that Ariana delivers all of her lines in heavily accented broken English and the audience thinks it’s hilarious.

What’s dumb is that Cassidy already knows that Chris had a romance in Greece.  He told her about at the movie.  So, it’s not like she doesn’t know who Ariana is.  Cassidy got into a relationship with Chris fully aware that he had feelings for Ariana just a few weeks previously.  But, instead of telling Cassidy that Ariana is in town, Chris decided to lie to both of them.  He tells Ariana that he doesn’t have a New York girlfriend and he doesn’t tell Cassidy a thing.  Chris thinks that he can pull it off because Ariana is only going to be in town for a day but what if Ariana decides to stop by the dance before she leaves the country?

And yes, that’s exactly what happens.  Ariana gets upset and yells in broken English, which the audience finds hilarious.  Chris, who is dressed up like Elvis, apologizes to Cassidy.  Cassidy says that they’re going to have to take their relationship slowly.  So, I guess that means the writers still hadn’t decided whether they really wanted to commit to Cassidy and Chris as a couple.  We’ll see if this is another one of those storylines that gets abandoned or not.

This was the type of episode that drives me crazy, in that all of the conflict could have been avoided by people not being stupid.  It’s certainly not a good start to everyone’s second senior year at Manny High.  Hopefully, things will get better in our next episode….  

Episode 3.2 “Mr. Baseball”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 11th, 1999)

After spending the previous two seasons as an unathletic goofball, Jamal is suddenly revealed to a star baseball player in this episode.  In fact, Jamal is so good that he has never been struck out and there’s also a scout coming to the game to check him out.  Of course, Jamal lets the fame go to his head.  And, of course, Jamal strikes out with the scout watching.  Jamal’s immediate reaction is to announce that he’s quitting baseball and then to get into a fight with a random Paul Rudd look-alike on the roof.  Ms. Nobel, however, gives him a good talking to and Jamal decides to keep playing.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Chris and Jamal do still have their radio show but, with Jamal devoting all of his time to baseball, L-Train takes over as Chris’s co-host.  While the whole radio station thing has never made much sense to me, I do have to give credit where credit is due.  In the role of L-Train, Steven Daniel was often this show’s secret weapon and he shows it here, managing to get laughs from even  the lamest of jokes.  L-Train often got the worst lines but Daniel always delivered them with such sincerity that it was impossible not to smile.

Meanwhile, Dawn is upset that the Manny High’s mascot is a hunter.  She wants to change the mascot to a big apple.  Everyone laughs at her until she mentions that the Big Apple will always be accompanied by cheerleaders.  Did the Manny High Hunter not have cheerleaders?

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad episode at all, even if it was all a bit predictable.  Wesley Jonathan was not the most convincing athlete that I’ve ever seen but he did do a good job of portraying both Jamal’s anger and his shame after he struck out.  Even Cassidy gets a decent storyline, one which sees her getting thrown out of the game for excessive trash talk.  You go, Cassidy!

Maybe season 3 won’t be so bad after all….

(We’ll find out next week!)

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.13 “Too Hot to Handle / Family Reunion / Cinderella Story”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

It’s Love!

Episode 1.13 “Too Hot to Handle / Family Reunion / Cinderella Story”

(Dir by James Sheldon and Richard Kinon, originally aired on January 7th, 1978)

It’s time for another cruise with three separate stories!

Newlyweds George (John Rubinstein) and Sally Allison (a youngish Kathy Bates) board the Pacific Princess, hoping to enjoy the ideal honeymoon.  Instead, it turns out to be one disaster after another.  Sally gets sunburned.  George gets poison ivy.  Having gotten off the boat in Mexico, Sally returns to discover a totally different couple staying in what she thinks is her cabin.  Uh-oh.  It turns out that Sally accidentally got on the Sun Princess and the Pacific Princess has already set sail without her!  This was a pretty simple storyline and, if anything, it mostly seemed to exist so that the show’s writers could see how many bad things that they could do to one perfectly innocent couple.  But John Rubinstein and Katy Bates are so likable as George and Sally that the story works.  You can’t help but hope the cruise gets a little better for them.  Kathy Bates was 29 when she appeared on The Love Boat and there’s nothing about her performance that would necessarily make you say, “Hey, that’s a future Oscar winner!”  But still, both she and John Rubinstein do a good job with the material that they’ve been given.

Meanwhile, Tommy (Bob Crane) is a middle-aged man who has been hired to work as a steward on the ship.  Captain Stubing takes an immediate dislike to the irresponsible, womanizing Tommy.  When he discovers that Tommy has been drinking on the job, Stubing comes close to firing him.  However, Tommy confesses that he’s drinking because he’s just discovered that the daughter who he abandoned years ago is on the cruise.  Wendy (Dori Brenner) has always believed that her father died in a shipwreck and she hopes that Stubing might know something about the wreck.  Seeking to help out Tommy, Stubing tells a lot of lies about Wendy’s “deceased” father but Tommy finally breaks down and confesses the truth.  At first, Wendy rejects Tommy but, with the help of her understanding husband (Robert Hays), she eventually forgives her father.

This storyline hinges on a huge coincidence.  What are the chances that Tommy and Wendy would just happen to end up on the same cruise together and that Tommy would be assigned to serve as Wendy’s steward?  On top of that, what are the chances that Wendy would just happen to have a picture of her mother sitting out where Tommy could see it?  It’s all fairly predictable but, if you’ve seen Auto Focus, it’s interesting to watch Crane’s performance here.  This episode aired just a few months before Crane was murdered in Arizona and it’s easy to see the charismatic but irresponsible and self-destructive Tommy as being a reflection of who Bob Crane himself had reportedly become at the time of his death.  Tommy is a character who lives with a lot of emotional pain and regret and Crane is so surprisingly effective in the role that it’s hard not to wonder if perhaps, on some level, he related to Tommy.

Finally, in the show’s final storyline, Bill Edwards (Bruce Solomon) is a supermarket manager who has booked a cruise with his wife, Doreen (Judy Luciano).  When a wealthy advertising exec cancels his trip, Julie and Gopher decide to let Bill and Doreen stay in the man’s luxury cabin.  This, of course, leads to Stubing mistaking Bill for the ad exec!  Suddenly, Bill and Doreen are sitting at the captain’s table and competing for an advertising contract!  Eventually, the truth comes out but business tycoon Greg Beatty (David White) is so impressed with Bill’s ideas that he arranges for Bill to get a job with an actual advertising company.  Mad Men it’s not!  However, it’s still a charming little story, largely due to the performances of Bruce Solomon and Judy Luciano.

If last week’s episode was a “lesser Love Boat,” this week’s episode show just how much fun The Love Boat could be.  Yes, all of the stories are fairly predictable but the guest stars all perform their roles with a lot of energy.  Bob Crane brings a poignant sense of regret to his performance as Tommy while Bruce Solomon and Judy Luciano are exactly the type of attrative couple that you would want to meet on a cruise.  And, as I said already, it’s impossible not to like John Rubinstein and Kathy Bates as the newlyweds who just can’t catch a break.  The regular cast is used sparingly but effectively in this episode.  Fred Grandy gets a nice scene where he has to explain to John Rubinstein that Kathy Bates got on the wrong boat.  Bernie Kopell plays Doc Bricker as being an agent of chaos.  It’s a fun episode and what more can you ask for?