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Wrong Direction (1934)
Lights! Camera! Mayhem!
What happens when Edgar Kennedy becomes a director? Well, technically, he was a director for a while during the silent era, and at least he didn't have an annoying family hounding him at every turn, but times have since changed. Edgar and his family have moved to Hollywood where he's an assistant director for Magnet Pictures, and they've got a real diva of a starlet giving everyone a hard time on set, so much so that the director's had a nervous breakdown. Now who's going to finish the picture? Well, just after Edgar's family gives a him a hard time about how they want to see a picture made and figure he'll never make it as a director, the producer calls up and asks Edgar to direct the last scene on the movie they're making. Brother ends up volunteering him, then Florence and Mother provide Edgar with a new set of clothes they'd procured for when he would finally be a director: riding britches, a beret, and even a bullhorn. So, Cecil B. Kennedy reluctantly goes to the studio to pick up where the director had left off. I like how the producer tells him that "a good director never takes a scene more than twice." Just wait til this guy gets a load of Stanley Kubrick. And I also love how every time Edgar tries to take a scene, his family interrupts by trying to enter the set. Yeah, they gained access to the lot by taking Edgar's studio pass and simply added "& Family" in front of his name. Pretty sure that wouldn't fly in real life, they would've had a better chance sneaking in behind Milton Berle. Some security this lot has, as they can't stop three troublemakers from entering a sound stage, which isn't even a sound stage if they can hear racket from outside. I realize Edgar is only a novice director, but I'm surprised he doesn't try to rehearse the scene before rolling the cameras. Had he done that, his family wouldn't have blown two takes already. It's not until after those idiots force their way onto the set does Edgar make an attempt to have his actors rehearse. Once that's done, they're ready to roll... until Mother in-law recognizes Carol Bonet and barges on set to ask for her autograph. Despite Edgar saying she's temperamental and seeing how she treated the producer, she must be a hell of a lot nicer than she's lets on, as she signs Mother in-law's autograph booklet. I mean, I know there are plenty of nice stars in Hollywood like, say, Tom Hanks, but I'm pretty sure if a fan burst on set and asked him for an autograph while he was rehearsing a scene, he'd tell them to hit the road.
The next take goes bad because Mother ended up sitting on a camera crane that ascended at a crucial moment, then the next take was blown because Brother switched on a giant fan, blowing papers all over the place. He scampers away up a scaffolding to hide from Edgar, and when a 1000 watt light is requested, Brother drops a bulb on him. It's time like these that I decide to start asking logical questions, like why on earth doesn't Edgar simply call studio security and have his family arrested for trespassing? I know they have a forged pass, but just simply adding "Family" to it wouldn't fly. I'll bet you no other director in movie history would tolerate what Edgar's going through. You think James Cameron would stay quiet if his family crashed the set of Titanic? Suppose Orson Welles' in-laws got in his way while filming Citizen Kane? What if the mechanical shark in Jaws wasn't Steven Spielberg's only headache if he had some annoying relatives hounding him on set? Yes, I know this is just a comedy short, but if you drill enough holes into the logic, then it comes a little hard to tolerate. Well, speaking of Titanic, the production of Edgar's movie was sinking fast. Finally, on take 52, the film was able to proceed. Makes me wonder how they family fumbled every other take before that. Well, being Edgar's family, I'm sure they found a way. That's when the producer comes on set to see how they're doing. See, he's determined to get this movie finished by 5:00 or Miss Bonet would receive a $10,000 bonus. Ha, well, if time and money were of the essence, why didn't Edgar rehearse the scene before filming, and why couldn't he bar his family from set? Well, it's not HIS money being spent, but it is his job. Anyway, how do you think this take went? Surprisingly well, Edgar could frame and take a decent lovemaking scene between a guy and a gal... unfortunately, Brother soon got the drop on them. Literally. Then the set erupts into a frenzy as we see some really terrible fight choreography. Look at those punches. I've seen children play-punch each other in a more convincing way. Oh, and guess what? Edgar gets fired. I'm also guessing Carol Bonet walked away from set ten grand richer. Hopefully she thanked Edgar for that.
This short, among many of Edgar's early Average Man shorts are much more frustrating to watch, because the family is more annoying. Basically all the damage done here is their fault. I know Edgar made a lousy director and the studio security were as effective as a wall made of toilet paper, but you just can't fathom how annoying and entitled these jerks are. It starts at the very beginning of the short, where Edgar had a tough night and asked to sleep in, only for his noisy neighbors to wake him up. He's even taken up drinking, as evidenced by all the empty beer bottles on the front porch... either that, or they were just renting a house from W.C. Fields. Mother in-law was on a kick about getting autographs, and I think we can see where I Love Lucy drew inspiration for their Hollywood episodes. I mean, can you imagine what would've happened if Ricky were chosen to direct a picture and Lucy kept crashing the set and causing trouble? I know there was one episode where Lucy had a chance to be in a movie, but she kept upstaging her co-stars because she wanted the spotlight. Well, sir, Ricky would've put her over his knee and played Babaloo on her fanny, something Edgar should've done with Florence. No, I don't condone spousal abuse, but for crying out loud, he needed some cajones here. The nerve of that family thinking they were entitled to see a movie made. Maybe Edgar should rent a camera and film his own movie, starring his family: the very first snuff film. In closing, do I recommend Wrong Direction? Well, I mean it's alright. If you like Edgar Kennedy and films from the 1930s, then you'd enjoy this. But be prepared to chuck logic out the window. Going back to what I said about Kennedy being a real director during the silent era, I think a lot of the problems presented for him here would've been solved had it been a silent movie they were filming. Chaplain and Keaton sure had it easy when making their movies.
Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's... A Baby.
I love Sabrina Spellman. She's the perfect representation of people who think magic will solve their problems, because not only will it not solve your problems, it will only make them bigger. That's a lesson she learns in the hard way in... pretty much every episode of this series, and the animated series that preceded this one, and the live action series, and the comics... so, really, she never learned her lesson. It's the same formula: Sabrina wants something, or wants to do something, then she's denied, then she turns to magic, she screws up royally, uses magic again to turn things back to normal and is left holding the bag... of tricks, that is. So how does she mess things up this week? Well, it all started one Friday afternoon when Aunts Hilda and Zelda would be going out of town, and Sabrina was sure she would be trusted enough to stay home alone. As she brags about this to her friend, Maritza, who should come along but her rival, Cassandra, who manages to guilt her into throwing a party. Yeah, she wants to be "with it" like the other girls. Well, if the other girls jumped off a cliff, would Sabrina do it too? Yeah, probably. Well, at least she has the house to herself for the weekend... no, as predicted, her aunts don't trust her as far as they could throw her, so they get her a babysitter. Yep, elderly Mrs. Pratt, who instantly takes to slipping a pink sweater on Salem and stroking him as hard as she could. Well, what's a desperate, teenage half-witch who promised a party in an empty house to all her friends to do? Ask Salem for help, of course. In exchange for 1/3 of Sabrina's pizza, he suggests finding her aunts' old spell book in the attic and magically make Mrs. Pratt younger. So after leafing through the ancient tome, she finds the spell and calculates the old bat's age to be around 80, and wants to make her around 20, because 20-year-olds are never party poopers. Well, I think it goes without saying that the spell works all too well, as Mrs. Pratt goes from an elderly woman to an infant! D'oh! And worse yet, Maritza drops by. Sabrina can't simply tell her the truth, because she's a mortal. Well, so was your other friend, Chloe, and you had no problem telling her. Witches sure have strange rules. Well, I guess it wouldn't be as funny as if she couldn't hide her little faux pas and give us sub-sitcom hijinks. So she fibs and says she was forced to babysit at the last minute. Yeah, that works.
So now the two girls are stuck with babysitting duties, and as you would expect, they're completely clueless. When they deduce the baby is hungry, Sabrina tries to give it pizza, then pours milk in a glass. No, you put it in a bottle, dum-dum. She conjures one up via magic and then, that problem is solved. Until they burp the baby, making her spit up all over Salem, who then licks it up. Gross! Oh, and speaking of gross, now the baby has a dirty diaper. They don't know how to conjure one up, and Salem says he's never even seen a diaper... well, that's an odd thing to say. Surely he was around when Sabrina was a baby? No matter, they decide to just go buy some, and Salem conjures up a baby carriage with a pumpkin ala Cinderella. Speaking of which, you know how Cinderella had until midnight? Well, Salem doesn't find out until it's nearly too late that the carriage has a time of span of roughly ten minutes... so after running up and down the walls screaming, he runs after the girls, who had just spent a whopping $30 on baby supplies, and catches the little tyke right as the carriage disappears. Good, crisis averted. Boy, the absurd lengths they'll go to keep their magic stuff a secret. So by the time they get back to the house, the little brat is still crying up a storm, and of course, the kids all arrive for Sabrina's party. Needless to say, the party dies before it even starts, because while Sabrina uses her hairdryer to warm a baby bottle, she watches Cassandra putting the moves on Harvey. What's more, when two girls decide the meager snacks Sabrina put out as party food sucked, they go for microwave popcorn, thus overloading the circuits and causing a blackout. Deciding that having no grown ups around isn't as fun as they thought, Sabrina decides it's time to change Mrs. Pratt back into an adult. Unfortunately, neither she nor Salem can find a reversal in any spell book. However, when Cassandra goes snooping around the house and discovers what's what, she manages to change her back into an adult with a wave of her hands. Maybe Sabrina could have figured that out, but I guess she isn't that smart. Well, when the babysitter discovers the party going on, she phones Hilda and Zelda, who rush right home and make Sabrina aware of the monumental trouble she's in. As we close, Sabrina and Maritza talk on the phone about how hard adults have it and decide they want to stay teenagers forever. Sabrina says that will take some powerful magic, but she'll work on it... I thought she wasn't allowed to tell her friend she's a witch. Well, she just gave it away.
This episode was quite funny and enjoyable, though it features an older-than-dirt plot formula. The classic babysitting routine: take an inexperienced character and put them in charge of an infant. Hilarity will ensue. Sometimes it will be a real baby, other times it will be another character having been turned into one. It works so well and is so much fun to watch every time. I mean, who doesn't love babies? Well, unless you have to deal with them I guess. I'm sure this experience not only made Sabrina and Maritza more appreciative of being teenagers, but will serve as a very good lesson against teen pregnancy. To think, this whole batty situation could've been avoided if Sabrina just called Cassandra's bluff and said something like, "yeah, I'm having a party, but you're not invited." Or maybe said nothing and not had the blasted party in the first place, but then teenagers are not noted for rational thinking. So do I recommend Sabrina's Secret Life: Baby Makes Three? Sure. Even if you don't watch the series regularly or are a fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, you'll still enjoy it. As I said, it's a classic formula. In fact, the premise of this episode was very similar to the movie Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, except there, the babysitter just died on them. Imagine if that had happened here instead of being turned into a baby.
A Christmas Story (1972)
A Special Delivery
It's Christmas time again... yes, I know it's only June, but we're halfway there, and the way things are right now, we could all use some Christmas cheer. This animated special is brought to us by our good friends at Hanna-Barbera, and it's all about the lengths a faithful dog and his mouse friend will go to ensure a certain little boy's letter reaches Santa Claus in time for Christmas. So, as we begin amidst a beautiful choir rendition of 'O Come All Ye Faithful', we see an average family relaxing at home on Christmas Eve. Little Sherman... I mean, Timmy is read The Night Before Christmas before being carried off to bed, excited for Santa's arrival later that night. That's when Goober, the family dog, and Gumdrop, the optimistic mouse, notice Timmy's letter to Santa Claus laying on the floor. Knowing that poor boy's heart would be broken if Santa wasn't able to bring him what he wanted, they decide the only logical thing to do was to find ol' Saint Nick and deliver the letter in person. So they set out walking along the icy streets, searching every nook and cranny. I would like to add that the very first time I saw this special was in third grade, and right at this part, the teacher turned it off and sent us out to recess, or lunch or something, but she never played the rest of it. I guess she just forgot, but I would always wonder what happened next. Luckily, I got my answer years later when this special aired on Cartoon Network. I mean, I wasn't on the edge of my seat and losing sleep over it, just one of those things. Anyway, back to the story: Goober and Gumdrop become separated, and that's also when the latter runs afoul of a quartet of sleazy cats, who would like to have our intrepid, pint-sized hero for dinner. Literally. Fortunately, he's saved from his untimely demise by the heroically clumsy Goober, who scares off the cats by slipping and sliding into a trash can. Way to go, Goob.
Good fortune comes the duo's way when they see Santa Claus flying by in his sleigh! He heads to the orphanage, even though I'm sure Grampy had already been there, giving the little tykes some nifty homemade toys. Unfortunately, our heroes are too late, as Santa hightails it out of there pretty quick. So while the orphans played with their shiny new toys, the dog and mouse head all over in town, searching for their elusive Mr. Kringle, seeing he had visited almost every house so far. Gumdrop deduces that Santa will hit the Andersons' next, as they're Catholic and therefore have lots of children. And what a relief, Santa hadn't been there yet! Now to get on the roof and deliver the letter. They find a ladder, and just as they're near the top, the letter predictably blows out of Goober's paw. Oh no, here comes Santa! What to do? Fortunately, that old ladder breaks into a pair of stilts, which Goober uses to chase after the letter. Just as he successfully grabs it, he loses control of the stilts and falls to the ground. That's when he's spotted by a kindly mailman, who assumes he got locked out of the house. He places Goober in the mail truck and goes off to deliver some special packages. When attempting to free himself, Goober accidentally bumps the parking brake and the truck takes off! He and Gumdrop hang on for dear life as they go on a wild ride around town before finally coming to a halt by way of crashing into a tree. Predictably, they also missed Santa again. It seemed like a lost cause and Goober was ready to give up, but Gumdrop encouraged him not to lose hope. But what could they do now? A couple of squirrels say they'll help, and that's when Goober has the perfect solution: use the animal relay to find Santa. It's kind of similar to the twilight bark in 101 Dalmatians. Using their own, unique ways of communicating, animals around town all search for Santa, but end up seeing so many, they're not sure which one is the real deal. Eventually, they do find the real Santa. Gumdrop folds the letter into a paper airplane and chucks it at the sleigh... only it ends up becoming a paper boomerang and comes right back. Boy, they just can't catch a break. Dejected, the dog and mouse go home, feeling their efforts were for naught. They attempt to wait up, hoping Santa will still show, only they end up falling asleep. But when they wake up Christmas morning, a miracle had occurred! Timmy got everything he wanted, even Mom and Dad got what they were asking for (peace on earth)... or so we can assume, as we only see it written in the sky, and even Goober and Gumdrop found some gifts for them too. What they didn't know was that Santa took the letter from them while they slept, meaning he already knew what Timmy wanted and still would have come. So was everything they went through that night for nothing? Well, that depends how you look at it. It showed how far they were willing to go for young Timmy to make his Christmas special. Never doubt the strength of love and devotion your pets have for you.
And that was A Christmas Story, a very underrated holiday special. Those who are familiar with The Flintstones Christmas in 1977 will recognize several songs, as they were recycled from A Christmas Story. This special also stars very recognizable voice talent from Hanna-Barbera alumni, such as Daws Butler, Don Messick, Paul Winchell, Hal Smith, John Stephenson, and Janet Waldo. And remember earlier when I called Timmy 'Sherman'? That's because Walter Tetley, who voiced Mr. Peaboy's boy, provides the voice of Timmy here. Fantastic voice acting, terrific songs, decent animation, even for H-B. This is a good one to watch around Christmas, or even before. And, if you're a teacher looking to show it to your class around the holidays, be sure you remember to show them all of it. You know, they sure don't make Christmas specials like this anymore. Something that isn't cynical, isn't commercial, tells a story without being preachy. So if this comes on TV again or you find it on DVD or some streaming service, I definitely recommend checking it out. You'll be glad you did.
Love Your Landlord (1944)
Just Fix the Faucet!
It's always amazing how one tiny inconvenience can lead to a whole mountain of trouble. For instance, we've seen many times how Edgar Kennedy tries to weasel out of paying a small sum of money to do a job himself, only to have the repairs cost two to three times more than what the job originally would have. In this particular short, we see Edgar's weaseling tactics once again turn around to bite him in the rear. It all began with a leaking faucet. All it needed was a new washer, but Edgar felt that it should be the landlord's responsibility to fix it. He then says aloud that if their landlord, Mr. Barnes, doesn't fix it, he won't pay the rent and move out. Unfortunately, Barnes happened to barge in at the moment Edgar was spouting off. Oh, and get this: Edgar's profession is plumbing. Yeah, he's a plumber who refuses to fix his own sink. How lazy can you get? Barnes calls his bluff, only for Edgar to affirm that he and Florence would be out by noon. Well, now what? Edgar sends Florence to pack while he goes out looking for a new place to live. His wife reminds him that the car is pretty low on gas and their ration cards won't be good until tomorrow. See, during WWII, people were given gasoline ration cards, and you could only get gas on certain days. It's similar to the gasoline shortage in the 1970s, but at this time, it was about making concessions to the war. Anyway, Edgar is certain he'll find a place in no time flat. So, after driving passed a myriad of No Vacancy signs, his eye catches a For Rent sign... and so do about three other people, who all make a bee-line for the house, but Edgar wins, crashing right into the yard. He puts down a $10 deposit, which gets him two weeks. Unfortunately, the lady was looking to rent a single room in her garage, as opposed to the whole house. Yeah, I don't even think $20 a month could rent a whole house, even back then. The lady berates Edgar for being a "cheapskate" as he runs back to the car, though she keeps his $10 down payment to repair the fence Edgar destroyed.
Luckily, Edgar doesn't have to go far to find another tenement. However, since he spent his last $10 on the bogus offer, he hasn't anything to make a deposit on this place, though he assures the landlord he'll be right back. After all, this place had been vacant for an entire year, so surely another hour wouldn't make a difference... right? Unfortunately, Edgar's car won't start because it's out of gas, but he does manage to find a mover with a big van. The man hasn't any help, so Edgar volunteers. This means the man gets to act like a slavedriver and boss him around... even though Edgar's the one who's paying. Hey, not many of us are in a position where we can order our bosses around. So they get to the Kennedys' old residence, where Charlie Hall and his giant family are eagerly waiting to move in. This hampers Edgar's efforts to move the old furniture out, since Charlie and his family are bringing in their own. A scuffle ensues, including a pillow fight that decorates the room with feathers, then Edgar throws a stove at him, only it flies out the window. Unfortunately, we the audience don't see that, as it's told to us by the mover as they're driving away. So they arrive at their intended residence... but guess what? Yeah, that place what was vacant for a year was suddenly rented within one hour. See what happens when you don't put money down? So they get back in the truck and drive on, with Florence saying they'll go to her uncle's house on in Marview. She tells the driver the easiest way to get there, but Edgar insists on taking Highway 76, which he says is quicker. At that point, Edgar takes the wheel and after driving in the dark a few hours, they make it to Widehaven Avenue in Marview, where Florence's uncle supposedly lives. Edgar takes a flashlight to look over the house, when he accidentally stumbles inside. And wouldn't you know it, it's at that exact moment that the cops show up. It seems no matter what Edgar does, the police always seem to get involved, somehow, and like usual, they immediately suspect him of wrongdoing. In this case, they caught Edgar in an empty house with a moving van parked out front. Sure didn't look good. What's more, Edgar's "keen" sense of direction has lead them all the way to Arizona. So the three of them are hauled away, and in the morning, Florence tells the whole convoluted story to the judge. He even calls Edgar's former employer, who uses some very colorful words to describe what kind of an employee he was. So, they'r free to go, only to find the mover split, leaving all their furniture in the street. Worse yet, even though the gas rationing card was good today, it wasn't good out of state. He would have to hold the cards until the supervisor arrived in a few days. To add insult to injury, one of the cops who arrested Edgar comes over and asks him to put a washer on a leaky faucet at the station.
To think, all that trouble could've been avoided if Edgar had simply put on his big boy pants and simply put a washer in his kitchen faucet. It just goes to show that pettiness comes at a price. This Edgar Kennedy short was very entertaining as well as a good cautionary tale for what can happen when you blow tiny problems completely out of proportion. It was also a nice change of pace to be without Mother and Brother. This was one story where they didn't fit, which allowed for Edgar to be more of a bungler, and Florence not quite as batty or obnoxious. It's always better when Edgar gets himself into trouble, rather than have it caused by a member of his family. Because then it's more satisfying to see him try to dig his way out of the hole he dug for himself, only to keep digging deeper and deeper and deeper. A well made short film with laughs, suspense, decent gags, and a very good moral: don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
Noisy Neighbors (1946)
Where is State Farm When You Need Them?
Never do business with family, especially Edgar Kennedy's family. Not his real-life family, I'm sure they were good people. I'm talking about that family from Hell he was given in his RKO Average Man series that ran from 1932 until his death in 1948. I've seen a handful of these shorts, and while some are pretty good, others are just plain bad. While the one I'm reviewing here isn't BAD, it certainly isn't very good, and it's laden with moments that are completely removed from reality. Not to mention, it displays one of the WORST examples of utilizing stock footage I've ever seen, but I'll get to that later.
Our film opens with Edgar coming home in an unusually happy mood. This is because he's bought a new car, and he's going to trade in the old one. Brother suggests letting him handle the deal, as he thinks a splash of new paint on the old car could fetch five or six hundred, rather than the "measly" $200 Edgar would be getting for the trade-in. Like the big sap that he is, Edgar agreed to sell Brother the old car for $200 and let him try out his plan. You see, unlike Edgar, we already realize what a freeloading bum his brother in-law is, so naturally he wouldn't have two hundred simoleans on hand to pay Edgar. Now, you've heard of trickle-down economics (and what a terrible idea it was), but in the Kennedy household, they apply what I like to call Merry-Go-Round economics. It works like this: Brother needs money to pay Edgar, so he asks Florence for the money, and she gets it from Edgar's savings. Round and round we go, where we'll stop: when Edgar's broke. So, a somewhat reluctant Florence lends Brother the $200, which the dunce promises she'll get back with a $25 profit. To be fair with Florence for once, she does try to warn Edgar about what Brother had done, but of course, he won't listen. Speaking of listening, he gets woken up bright and early the next day by the three idiots doing amateurish repairs on the old car. But he wasn't the only one having to listen to that racket, as their next-door neighbor received a rude awakening too. Politely, Mr. Franklin went to the window and asked them to shut the hell up. Though, not in those exact words. So they move on to polishing... but, uh oh, that's not polish! That's paint remover! D'oh! Worse yet, the horn gets stuck (doesn't it always?) The stuck horn summons a very annoyed Mr. Franklin out to their driveway to apply a little "manual labor" of his own. He rips out the faulty wiring and ominously tells Brother to replace them before going back to bed.
As if things couldn't get any worse, Florence lets it slip about the $200, so Edgar chases brother around the car and hurls a hammer at him... only it misses and goes sailing through Mr. Franklin's window. Uh oh! So he returns the hammer by throwing it through the car's windshield. I bet Edgar wishes Laurel and Hardy were here, then we could rain some Big Business down on Franklin and his house. Anyway, Edgar decides to paint the car, which he does, all by himself, and then goes into the house to take a bath, while the rest of the family washes the windows. Just as he's filled up the tub, Edgar gets a phone call: his new car is going to be delivered later that day! How about that? Finally some good news. Sadly, it's at this point that the film begins to fall apart and things happen that have no rhyme or reason to them, and they only happen because Edgar HAS to fail, for no other reason than he's Edgar. It starts when he tries to take a bath: the water is so hot, he jumps around shouting in pain. That's not how water temperature works. In the time he went to answer the phone, even very hot water would've cooled down moderately. So unless he filled that tub with molten lava, that shouldn't have happened. But ol' Eddie tramples downstairs with his burned feet. He runs across the house, moaning and groaning. Good lord, this is not funny, this is pathetic. He goes into the kitchen and rubs butter... yes, BUTTER, on his feet to cool them off. But, you see, he does this for reason convenient to the plot. The gag writers here are so lazy, they had to resort to gimmicks like this. Again, this entire sequence is painfully unfunny, and so is what happens next: when Edgar tries to stand up, he goes slipping and sliding like he's on an ice rink. It's not funny, because it's contrived and was telegraphed moments earlier. Snap out of it, Kennedy, you're making a fool of yourself! And, of course, Brother gets the car horn stuck again, and that beckons a now livid Mr. Franklin to come storming outside. He rips some more wires out of the engine, prompting Mother in-law to rip the sleeve right off his robe. In response, Franklin rips off one of the headlights. Ooh, now we're definitely in Big Business territory. Unfortunately, what happens next isn't nearly as funny as that film. Here comes the whole reason why I wanted to talk about this short: so after Mother rips Franklin's robe in two, he gets in front of the car and pushes it down the driveway, and here it is: the WORST example of utilizing stock footage I've EVER seen! Look at that shot of the car going out into the street. First of all, that is NOT the same car! It's not even from the same decade! If you're wondering what this is, it's a shot from Edgar Kennedy's 1945 short film You're Driving Me Crazy. It happened when dummy Edgar borrowed his landlord's car and didn't set the parking brake when going to shut the garage, so it rolled down the driveway and out into the street. But look at it! The freakin' car takes off under its own power! It was a horribly executed effect in that film, and it's even worse here! WHY did they do this?? They couldn't film the car they had going down the driveway?? How? Why? That looks so BAD! Anyway, let's wrap this up: Edgar's new car gets delivered, and boy, she's a beaut! Mr. Lucas informs Edgar that the reason he could deliver it was so he could take his old car for a quick sale. Ha ha ha! Yeah, well, hopefully that sale is to a junk dealer. So in lieu of the $200 trade-in, he'd get a whopping $10 for it. Oh well, at least Edgar has his new car, and he and Florence can take it for a test drive. But, of course, the horn gets stuck, because that cheap gimmick hasn't gotten old yet. They book it before Mr. Franklin can lay a hand on the new ride, and because Edgar apparently doesn't know how to drive, he backs them right into oncoming traffic. The End.
To sum it up: this short is just plain silly. It's a classic gimmick: trying not to disturb a neighbor who is trying to sleep, but despite your best efforts, you constantly prevent his head from hitting that pillow. Like I said, the scene of Butter-Foot Edgar slipping and falling on the kitchen floor was stupid, as was his reaction to stepping in hot water. That was so cheap! I would love to know who's bright idea it was to insert that clip from You Drive Me Crazy. I hope that editor never got work again. But aside from those ridiculous moments, it wasn't that bad. It certainly isn't among Edgar's best shorts, but this one sort of ran out of steam towards the end. It's like they realized they were going to recreate Laurel and Hardy's film Perfect Day, so they tried to find an out. Either way, that film and Big Business were much better than this. I wonder if Edgar ever regretted leaving Hal Roach, because I think he would've been better off staying there and playing L&H heavies than going to RKO and constantly being the victim of a horrible family and virtually every other person he met. But, anyway, take this one for what it is: a mediocre, yet decent film.
A Clean Sweep (1938)
A Dirty Job
So Edgar has somehow gotten himself fired from his job at the bank, and he had the good sense NOT to tell Vivian he was unemployed. Despite his poor attempts to hide the want ads, she doesn't managed to put two and two together. She makes sure to remind Edgar about a house-warming party for a friend of theirs and bring over a gift. Oh, will he ever bring them a gift and US too. So, after claiming he's going to work, Edgar goes down to the park to read the paper. There, waiting for him, is his friend Billy, and if he looks familiar, that's because he's played by Bill Franey, who usually plays Edgar's father in-law, but for an interesting change of pace, he plays someone who Edgar actually gets along with. He tells Billy about his unemployment woes, managing to pull it over on his wife for so long because they'd been living on his savings, and now it's almost gone. They'd been living on it for three months, and considering this was during the Depression, that's pretty good. How did Edgar lose his job, you may wonder? Oh, because he was rooting for the Giants. Not in the way you would think: Edgar had lied about going to his mother in-law's funeral when he was actually at the game, and so was his boss. Rotten luck, that. So when perusing the classifieds, an enticing ad catches Edgar's eye: a fast growing industry is looking for men with integrity to become financially independence. Yeah, I think we're ALL familiar those THOSE ads. You find them even today. They're not entirely rip-offs, but at the same time, they're not for everybody. Because the task you think you're going to do and then what you end up doing are entirely different. Take Edgar, for example: his rapidly growing industrial integrity job for financial independence is selling vacuum cleaners door to door. He walks his non-aggressive sales pitch around an apartment house and comes up empty. Perhaps a demonstration is in order? So, he knocks on multiple doors to get multiple tenants out in the hall, including a very surly janitor. Edgar will set out to test the cleaning capabilities of the Dandy Vacuum, so he invites everybody to make a big mess in the hall... I think we all know what's going to happen, because this scenario is definitely familiar, especially to avid viewers of I Love Lucy. So after everyone dumps their dirty and trash all over the hall floor, Edgar attempts to demonstrate the vacuum... only it isn't working. That's because get ready for this: the building's electricity was off. D'oh! As a result, the janitor handed Edgar a broom to clean up the mess the old fashioned way.
As if that weren't bad enough, guess who Edgar's next perspective customer is? Mabel, Vivian's friend, and who was presently throwing her house-warming party. She sees the vacuum and assumes Edgar brought it for her as a gift. This wouldn't be so bad if Edgar hadn't had to buy the freakin' thing. Yeah, that's something else those "fast growing industry" jobs require: you gotta pay for your own supplies. So that's 50 bucks down the crapper. Dejected, Edgar leaves the building, but is confronted by his boss who wants to see the day's profits. Unfortunately, that costs him yet another 50, and his "10% commission" leaves him with only $2.00. Hope that Giants game was worth it, Edgar. Oh, but speaking of his past employment, the bank manager is considering hiring Edgar back. Good thing too, because at the rate Ed's going, he'll be broke long before he actually sells a vacuum. But when he gets home, he finds out that Vivian must have taken stupid pills, because he tells Edgar to quit his job at the bank, because she found him a better one. Oh, I'll bet you did. And what's more, the bank manager comes by to offer Edgar his job, but his rotten wife denies him that small ounce of dignity, so now the bank is officially closed. But no worries, because as stated above, Vivian found Edgar the perfect new career. I'll give you a hint: it's in sales. He's going to be selling a very important item door to door. That's right, he'll be selling vacuum cleaners! Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh no.
Well, this one was okay, some parts were pretty funny and it wasn't quite as mean-spirited as some of Edgar Kennedy's other shorts. As I said before, the scene of Edgar making a big mess in the hallway to demonstrate the cleaner must have definitely served as inspiration for the I Love Lucy episode "Sales Resistance." You remember that one, right? Lucy gets tricked into buying a new vacuum, only ordered by Ricky to get rid of it, so she attempts to put on the same song and dance routine as the salesman, and ends up dirtying the floor of someone whose electricity was off. The concept and plot of this short film is still relevant today, because those types of ads are still popping up in the classifieds and people are still learning the hard way that their 'dream job' isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maybe it's just me, but I found Vivian to be somewhat out of character at the end there. Usually she's much more reasonable and level-headed than, say, Florence. Her dumb move is something more akin to one of Edgar's other wives. So, do I recommend A Clean Sweep? Sure. It's predictable, but it has some pretty amusing moments.
Art in the Raw (1933)
Picasso, He Ain't.
Edgar Kennedy's short subjects made by RKO are generally hit or miss. Some are pretty good, but some are also pretty bad. Some of them are so removed from reality and lack any sort of logic or common sense on anybody's part. This one is a clear-cut example of something that is going to make viewers scratch their heads and repeatedly ask, "why?" Why is any of this happening? Why are human beings on planet earth behaving this way? I know this short is from 1933 and audience expectations weren't very high, but I don't think that's an excuse to insult their intelligence. Now when I saw this short recently, I couldn't believe how stupid, annoying and just plain baffling it was.
So, let's set the scene: Edgar has turned artist, as evidenced by the picture he drew that he's hanging on the door. Okay, I'm no Picasso myself, but it looks like something a 5-year-old would draw, and I guess he's hanging it on the front door because there's no room on the fridge? No, it's to set up a scene of Florence, Brother and Mother in-law opening the door in face and him getting the still-wet ink plastered on his forehead. Didn't see that one coming. So Florence, the tittering dingbat has a letter for Edgar, which she already opened and read. It seems Edgar won an art contest. He designed the "Before" model for a weight reduction firm. Yes, you can go from a fat cartoon to a slim live-action human, in 12 easy steps. Edgar also got a decent sized check: three whole dollars! Regardless of the small monetary prize, Edgar is pleased that his art has finally been appreciated, and wants to spend some time in the country. Maybe the exposure to nature, wildlife and lovely fragrances will inspire him to make his next masterpiece. But, of course, his family insists on going to Greenwich Village instead. Edgar argues for the country, the family argues for Greenwich Village... don't fight it, Edgar, we all know where you're going.
They rent a crummy loft in Greenwich Village, and while Edgar is trying to get some inspiration, a prissy artist barges in and exchanges smocks and hats with him. Hi, Franklin Pangborn. You may remember him as the landlord in Next-Door Neighbor, the short that kind of launched this Average Man series. He plays a less aggressive character here, but still annoying nonetheless. While that's going on, Florence calls the grocery store to send over some food, but for some reason the guy on the phone can't spell milk. Is that funny? No. Then Edgar gets his thumb stuck in his paint palette and decides to move to a quieter section of the loft. Before any inspiration can hit, he's called out for lunch, which he vehemently refuses. Then Brother barges in and steals his canvas to lure him out. Edgar shouts about not wanting lunch, when suddenly, the loft becomes overrun by freeloaders! Man, I've heard of starving artists, but this...? Frank Pangborn starts an impromptu party, and suggests Edgar being locked in a room by himself until he can finish the painting. So, they decide to try that. Florence gives him an apple and a bottle of milk, then locks him in the attic. Okay, good, no more distractions. Though, for some reason, the dog got locked in there too. Who's dog is that? I'm guessing it's Pangborn's, but he never says anything about it. Anyway, Edgar sets about painting the apple, as basically and simply as he possibly can. Wow, all that trouble just to draw an apple? But just as he finishes, some jerk opens the window and steals the apple? What?! What was that all about? How did he even know it was in there? Instead of shouting at him, Edgar then tries to paint the milk bottle, only a second jerk comes along and swipes that too. What the hell is that about?! Who are those two creeps and why are they so cocky with stealing Edgar's props? And why doesn't spineless Edgar do something about it?! Unfortunately, the party downstairs starts getting much louder and noisier, literally shaking the floorboards! Oh, but that's nothing compared to what happens next. I'm NOT making this up: one of the jerks who pilfered Edgar's food lights a stick of dynamite and tosses it into the attic. What is this, a Warner Bros cartoon now? That guy just wants to straight up murder Edgar??! This is so STUPID! And so are Edgar's futile attempts to get rid of the dynamite, which conveniently gets itself stuck on Edgar's wrist. It explodes, but miraculously doesn't kill him. As for the painting he created, despite all the interference, Pangborn considers it a work of art and gets it hung in a museum. To cap off our little escapade, Edgar finally gets the palette off his thumb... only to immediately get it stuck on again. The End.
I'm not going to mince words when I say I hated this film. I straight up hated it! I hated every cruel, loud, insulting and unfunny moment of this tripe. Nothing here makes any sense! WHY doesn't Edgar stand up to that horrible family of his? Why does he let everyone walk all over him? The whole idea of this film was stupid: Edgar was hardly an artist to begin with, but because one crappy piece of artwork won a contest, he wants to do another one, and he louses that up too. This was painful to watch, and I like Edgar Kennedy. I believe he was a very funny man, but alot of these RKO short subjects, like I said some are funny, but some are downright awful. Again, I know this made in 1933 and everybody associated with this film is dead, but still, 87 years later there are still people who will point out how illogical and stupid everything was. When I first saw this, I was in disbelief about how unfunny, cruel, and removed from reality it was. I do not recommend this film at all. It's terrible. If Vincent Van Gogh had to endure what Edgar went through, he probably would've cut off BOTH ears.
For That Special Honey.
With it being February and all, the Month of Love, I thought it would be a good time to look back on that time Pooh Bear and his pals learned the meaning of Valentine's Day. Much like Charlie Brown, Winnie the Pooh got a litany of holiday specials, most of which came out in the mid to late '90s, and this is one of them. I haven't seen it in 20 years, and at the time, I think I was very unfair with it when I wrote an old review, so I think it's time to go back to the Hundred Acre Wood and give it another chance. So our special opens with Pooh looking for Christopher Robin, who isn't at their usual meeting place. Concerned, Pooh goes to visit Piglet, who tries unsuccessfully to hide a Valentine's Day card he was making for him. Deciding that Valentine's Day is what's preoccupying Christopher Robin, Pooh sets out with Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, and Gopher to find him. They discover the lad writing a letter, though all they hear is the recipient's first name: Winnie. Ha! Well, Pooh, it seems your troubles are over. Christopher Robin is writing a Valentine to you... sure, it may seem strange for someone to write a Valentine's Day card to a stuffed animal, but hey, these guys are the only friends this kid has, so I say give him a break... Oops, looks like we spoke too soon: it isn't Winnie, it's Winifred! Incidentally, did you ever notice how nobody ever calls Pooh "Winnie"? It's technically his first name, but everybody calls him Pooh, and never Winnie. Always found that strange. Who, or what, is a Winifred? Well, Owl informs the group that Winifred is a girl. Funny they all act so surprised, though until now, the only female they've ever known was Kanga... and to a lesser extent, the little bird Kessie. Then, Owl sings a song about the difference between girls and boys... and it's a family friendly song, so don't shoo the kids from the room just yet. When he finishes his song, Mr. Know-it-Owl goes on to state that Christopher Robin was bitten by a "Smitten", and don't forget, this is the same guy who once thought CR went to a place called Skull and was captured by a Backson, so I wouldn't trust anything he says. However, they buy into his nonsense and know they must find a cure for their friend. Tigger suggests catching another "Smitten" to counteract the effects of the first, and Rabbit agrees, so Operation: Smitten Snatcher jumps into action. The bait: a reluctant Piglet, dressed in debonair clothing. Unfortunately, naive goofball that he is, Tigger had Piglet stand on an anthill with a bouquet of poison ivy, so that didn't work. If that was Plan A, I'd hate to think what Plan B would be.
It was then that Pooh noticed a strange, glowing bug on his honey pot. It was just a firefly, but to Pooh and his pals, it was the Smitten! The love bug! They pursue it to the deepest, darkest section of the woods. After a bit of running around, everybody getting separated and scaring each other half to death, Pooh successfully caught the firefly! Hooray! And with its help, everybody finds each other again. With that all settled, they can give the creature to Christopher Robin to cure him of his "ailments" and be with them again, instead of this "Winifred" chick. They meet up with him, and just as Pooh is ready to give him the bug, the boy shows them the card he was writing for Winifred and asks their opinion of it. Despite pushes from his friends to deliver the "Smitten", Pooh makes a very tough call and releases the firefly instead. His reasoning was that Christopher Robin was happy with the way things were, and that's how he wanted it for his friend. He goes home, sad and dejected, but all is not lost, for waiting for Pooh Bear at his house was a Valentine's Day card. Piglet, Rabbit, Gopher, Tigger and Eeyore found cards in their mail boxes too. For no matter who Christopher Robin would meet in his life, he assured Pooh that there would always be a special place in his heart for a certainly silly old bear.
This was actually better than I remembered it. Winnie the Pooh and Valentine's Too... I know they tried to do away with that particular title variation, but you know that's what they wanted to call it, is exactly what it sets out to be: a Valentine's Day special with the Winnie the Pooh gang, and yet another one with Kanga and Roo. It's funny Owl got left out of the Valentines giving, but then he didn't really contribute anything to the story, just came in long enough to tell the gang about Smittens and then flew away. Oh well, at least he didn't do as much damage here as he did in the 2011 Winnie the Pooh feature. Growing up with the original Disney Winnie the Pooh shorts from the '60s and '70s, and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the late '80s, I always found these late '90s specials to be a bit too saccharine and, for the most part, tearjerkers. I know it's all underscoring the relationship Pooh has with Christopher Robin, but it's more heavy-handed in these specials than in the earlier ones. Don't get me wrong, the way they did it at the end of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) was outstanding. Also, this was Paul Winchell's final time voicing Tigger, before the role was taken up full-time by Jim Cummings, who sings for Tigger at one point in this special. From what I heard, they actually fired Winchell because he no longer sounded like Tigger, and when the Imagineers working on the Winnie the Pooh ride at the Disney theme parks heard, they personally invited Winchell to voice Tigger fro the attraction. Very nice and respectful gesture there. So, in closing, I do recommend Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You, and see how the gang celebrates Love Day.
Don't Push Your Luck.
"Don't push your luck." Advice that CBS and Fox should've taken when they wanted to give M*A*S*H not one, but two follow-up spin-offs. Since I decided to talk about AfterMASH, I figured I might as well review W*A*L*T*E*R too, because I hate myself. So, yeah, AfterMASH was a disaster that was poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted (except by Morgan, Farr and Christopher), and an overall terrible concept. So why on earth the network thought we needed TWO M*A*S*H follow-ups is beyond me. AfterMASH wasn't exactly hot property by 1984, but ever since Radar's cameo on that show, they decided it was time to catch up with our favorite little clerk from Iowa. If you didn't see the episode, Radar shows up on Potter's doorstep, getting cold feet about his wedding. It's resolved in 30 minutes, he gets married, and lives happily ever after... or does he? No. Of course not. Why the hell can't these writers give Radar a break? They can never allow him to be happy or ever allow him to have any luck with girls. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. It's only one of many terrible ideas they came up with for a pilot episode to Radar's own TV series, and thank God it never got picked up. This one is worse than AfterMASH, as this one had NO effort and NOBODY was trying. Hard to believe two of the writers worked on Lucille Ball's successful sitcoms, but then, after this they made Life With Lucy, so it's obvious they were burnt out. It was also co-written by Everett Greenbaum, who I lost a ton of respect for after that horrible M*A*S*H episode "House Arrest." Finally, our director is Bill Bixby... insert Incredible Hulk joke of your choice here. I kinda wonder why Gary Burghoff agreed to come back and play Radar again. He left M*A*S*H in 1979 because he was tired of playing a manchild, but then two guest spots on AfterMASH, and then this. I guess the M*A*S*H residuals alone weren't enough to pay the bills.
First of all, why are there asterisks in the title? Is it supposed to be like M*A*S*H? I guess, but it's not cute! So we see Walter, now no longer called Radar, living with his cousin in St. Louis, Missouri, in the year 1954. His cousin, Wendell, got Walter a job on the police force, and believe it or not, I like that concept. It's actually a good idea. Radar as a cop. It had potential... and I say HAD because they don't do anything with it! Now what has Walter done to get himself to this point? Wasn't he supposed to be married, and what about the farm in Iowa? Well, rather than seeing flashbacks or have that explained to us gradually, this episode begins with an interview conducted by Clete Roberts. That's right, they dragged poor Clete out of the nursing home for another of these ridiculous interview shows. I mean, "The Interview" was one of M*A*S*H's better episodes, and "Our Finest Hour" from Season 7 was... acceptable, but it was more of an excuse to do a clip show. So why are they doing it again? Clete's doing follow-up interviews with members of the 4077th. Why? Who is going to care about that? He mentions, "last week, we talked with Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, and now we've caught up with Radar O"Reilly..." um, Clete, you know they had real names, right? Why are you using their nicknames? Oh, and this interview is shown intermittenly throughout the episode. Every time characters see a TV set, the interview is in progress. That's a clumsy storytelling gimmick if ever I've seen one. Why couldn't Walter just tell us this stuff by way of being asked about it by new characters? There was no point to that stupid interview! As for the farm, he had to sell it. He sent his mom to live with his aunt while he moved in with Wendell. And as far as his bride, she leaves him... but not before leaving him an obnoxious letter about how she still loves another guy. So why did you marry Walter and then just abandon him a week later? What an ('S' word that rhymes with mutt). So, after that, Walter went to a drug store to buy sleeping pills so he could O.D. and kill himself. Suicide is painless. Um... okay, if this series was meant to be a drama, this would be okay, but it's meant to be a comedy! They got the stupid laugh track blasting away every time a character says something stupid. Being depressed, down-and-out and wanting to kill yourself is NOT funny! Well, the pharmacist, played by Victoria Jackson, that girl from SNL who sounds like she inhaled a pound of helium, plays the drug store clerk and tries to perk Walter up, by way of an embarrassing display of "singing" and "dancing." Don't quit your day job, Victoria... her character is named Victoria too. So we jump back to the present, and I like how the TVs in the store window cut off before Clete says who they're interviewing next week. Ha, well insert your predictions here. B.J.? Hot Lips? Winchester? What have they been up to? Luckily they never got crappy spin-offs of their own, so CBS knew when to quit. Where was I? So, Walter is asked for his autograph by some kids who watched the interview, because it's pretty much the ONLY thing on TV today. He signs an autograph and then... uh oh, his wallet's gone! Cue muted trumpets!
Great police work, Officer O'Reilly. Oh, but he's gotta get that wallet back, his "M*A*S*H picture is in it." Yes, that's seriously what he calls it. He sounds like a fan who received an autographed wallet-sized photo of the cast. You're not even trying!! Unfortunately, the pickpocket has to wait because he and his horny cousin Wendell-yeah I forgot to mention this guy is an extremely poor man's Fonzie-have to report to a disturbance at a strip club. Walter is hestitant to go because he's too shy to see naked ladies. There are NO words. Good God, Walter, you're not a kid anymore. You know, now that I think about it, Sandy was right to leave your squeamish little ass. I seem to recall Walter being much more adult in his final M*A*S*H episode, so who's bright idea was it to revert him back to "childhood"? Anyway, this strip club scene goes nowhere, and much like every other moment in this show, it's not funny! There's a moment where Walter has to call down a dove by using his dove-calling abilities... didn't know he had those. By the way, Dick Miller, what are you doing here? Roger Corman taught you better than this. Sadly he, along with Noble Willingham, two funny guys and wonderful performers, were roped into this piece of crap too. Anyway, Walter and Wendell see the little bugger who stole their wallets and chase him down the street. When they finally catch him, he gives Walter a sob story about his parents being dead, and apparently he has no priors, so it looks like he's innocent. Feeling bad for the little urchin, Walter offers to buy him a shake... with what? Your wallet's still gone, dude. Oh, but it's at Victoria Jackson's drug store, so I guess he's got a tab. So while they drink down root beer floats, Walter bellyaches about his "M*A*S*H picture", and in case you're wondering what exactly his M*A*S*H picture is, it's a photo of Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Henry, which he showed to Wendell at the start of the show. Okay, his old friends from the 4077th. That's fine. But what about Trapper? I recall he and Radar being good friends, so why is he being shafted? I mean, he was closer to Trapper than he was Hot Lips (at the time) Maybe it would remind viewers that they could be watching Trapper John M.D. instead of this garbage. But anyway, lo and behold, the punk kid coughs up the McGuffin! He says he did it because he lost his own father in Korea, and because he and his grandmother needed the money. Anyway, Officer O'Reilly decides not to arrest him, but makes him promise to meet him there at the drug store on Saturday, so he can become a mentor to him. Yeah, can't see how that could go wrong. The End.
W*A*L*T*E*R... I'm not mad. I'm not even disappointed, really, because I went into this expecting zero effort and expecting to hate it, and it did not disappoint. I knew this thing was going to insult my intelligence and treat me like an idiot for watching it. Like I said, the idea of Radar being a cop had potential, but they just kept messing it up! There was no clear thought process with this horrible show. The characters are bland, unlikable, and not funny. The script is horrible. The directing was horrible. The acting was beyond corny. Nobody in this thing could give a decent performance. It's like they weren't even trying! This thing was a disaster right from the start, which is probably why it wasn't picked up, and this "pilot" never aired again after that night in 1984. M*A*S*H was pretty much dead at this point, and this show was the final nail in the coffin. How could such a fantastic series get such HORRIBLE spin-offs? If you look at another great show, like All in the Family, it had two very successful spin-offs: The Jeffersons and Maude. Now, some people consider Trapper John M.D. to be a continuation of the 1970 MASH movie, rather than the series, but it's clearly based off the latter. That was the RIGHT WAY to do a follow-up series to M*A*S*H: they don't make constant references, they don't parade in old characters for the hell of it, they have well-rounded supporting characters, and it doesn't try way too hard to be funny. Plus, it ran for 7 seasons. THAT'S how you do it! It makes me wonder why WALTER wasn't set in modern day, so Gary could play Radar closer to his own age? Why did it need to be set in the '50s? In closing, it goes without saying that this one-hit BLUNDER is a big mess that we should all forget about. This and AfterMASH. Forget'em. Just stick to the original, because this shameful attempt at a follow-up just plain S*U*C*K*S!
After MASH (1983)
How Not to Do a Follow-up to a Successful, Character-Driven Show
I have a lot to say about this one. So, yeah, this series has caught a ton of flack as being the worst spin-off in television history, but is it really as horrible as everybody makes it out to seem? I will say this: AfterMASH is more BORING and POINTLESS than it is terrible. I mean, it's BAD, but you can tell they TRIED to do something with it. Tried and FAILED, but you can tell, for some fleeting moment, something was there. Anyway, so as M*A*S*H was on its last legs in 1983, they aired a 2-hour series finale movie, which was the top-rated event in television history and it held that honor for 30 years! Everybody in the world tuned in to see how the characters would get home after the war. Even people who had stopped watching M*A*S*H by then still tuned in. It was a juggernaut in the ratings, so you know Fox and CBS couldn't let M*A*S*H go at this point. Not when it was still as profitable as it was, but the series was over, and only 3 of the 7 main cast members were willing to continue. How can you continue an ensamble show of that caliber with just three cast members? Make a follow-up, spin-off... and put NO effort into it whatsoever. The producers hired back Larry Gelbart, who had left M*A*S*H in it's fourth season to develop the new show. Not sure why he bothered, but then again, I'm not sure why he bothered writing "Hawkeye". So, he created the title AfterMASH, which he thought was the funniest thing he'd ever written in his life. No joke, he laughed about it for hours. Yeah, I get it, it's a pun on the word "aftermath", but is it really THAT funny? No, it isn't. Then Jamie Farr suggested setting it in a stateside veteran's hospital. "It's never been done before." Yeah, there's probably a reason for that, Jamie. Stateside vet hospitals are boring. But hey, the original cast and some funny side characters can make it work... right? So, here's where things take an "interesting" turn, as you have to wonder how Colonel Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy, characters from opposite ends of the country and who have nothing in common, all get together again in one place. If it sounds farfetched, that's because it is. The series begins as Colonel Potter returns home to Missouri, and we finally get to meet Mildred. Potter's got a job at General Pershing Veteran's Hospital in Riverbend, and Klinger's going to be working for him. Yeah, you remember in the M*A*S*H finale where Klinger actually volunteered to stay in Korea and help his bride Soon-Lee find her family? She'd been looking for them for months and hadn't found them. That was a big character moment for Klinger and went against his years of trying to get out of Korea, and this gave him motivation to stay. Eh, they found her family almost instantly, and now they're back in the states. Wow, what an insult. Father Mulcahy joins the gang in part 2 of the two-part pilot, and you remember how his hearing got damaged by an exploding mortar blast, and he was going deaf? Another huge character moment from the finale that got completely tossed aside due to a miracle surgery. Geez, I'll bet if Winchester were in this show, he'd go right back to listening to music.
So, what about the other characters in this series? We've got the hospital administrator, Michael D'Angelo-yes, that's really his name-and the best way to describe him is to imagine Henry Blake if he were not funny or likable. That's Mike. We've also got Alma Cox who would be Hot Lips if she were not funny or likable either. Both of these characters are dull, boring, and just plain mean. There are, however, two promising new characters who actually are likable: Dr. Gene Pfeiffer, a young, idealistic doctor who works alongside Potter, and Bob Scannell, who served with Potter in the first World War. He's also likable and has a few funny lines. Towards the end of the first season, the show began to completely fall apart. Dr. Pfeiffer is replaced by Dr. Boyer, who is essentially an unfunny, unlikable Hawkeye. Yes, that's the strategy for AfterMASH's new characters: take likable M*A*S*H characters and give them bland, unlikable personalities and make sure NOT ONE line of dialogue is funny. Boyer has a sullen attitude and lost his leg in the war. Why did they replace Pfeiffer with this sadsack? Also, D'Angelo eventually leaves and is replaced in Season 2 by Wally Wainwright, an even more unlikable character. Soon-Lee gets pregnant, and Klinger goes to jail for assaulting a shady real estate agent. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Radar makes an appearance in their tenth episode. He could've joined the cast here, but they instead gave him his own spin-off: W*A*L*T*E*R, and the less said about that horrific piece of crap, the better. Anyway, so in Season 2, they recast Mrs. Potter and changed the opening sequence. Also, they had Klinger declared insane to avoid going to jail, and you know what that means: he gets to pretend he's crazy again. You're not even trying!! But then again, when were you ever? So nothing much else happens as the series mercifully got canceled at the end of Season 2, with one episode never airing.
So, yeah, this is a BAD show. Mostly because it's BORING. It had NOTHING to say, it had NOTHING to add to the M*A*S*H canon, it was just a lazy, sloppy, incoherent show CBS made them throw together quickly in a vain attempt to save their most successful show of the 1970s. Nothing but a shameful cash-in. It's also painful to watch actual funny people performing such terrible scripts. Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher were TOO GOOD for a show like this. You could tell they were trying hard to make this show work, but they couldn't do it. The writing and directing was that bad. Apparently, this series was killed when it aired opposite The A-Team in a foolishly cocky display that made them think AfterMASH would steal their viewers. I pity the fools. The A-Team was a well-written character driven show that was fresh and new, while AfterMASH was tired, old drivel. I heard that Martin Short auditioned for it, but the producers told him he was way too good for that crap. They're right, of course, but Martin could have breathed new life into it and saved the show. I've seen about four episodes of AfterMASH, and they are boring, dull, lifeless, and not funny. I could get a weak chuckle out of Morgan, Farr and Christopher, because they're naturally funny people. I also liked Patrick Crenshaw as Bob Scannell, but nobody else in this cast can be funny or give a good performance, to say nothing of Rosalind Chao's naive, fish-out-of-water act. I think most M*A*S*H fans disregard AfterMASH and it wasn't included in the Complete Series DVD set, or even released on DVD at all. Maybe it's for the best. I think this series needed better writers, better directors, and a supporting cast that can actually be funny, but maybe that was too much to ask. It was obvious the network was scared of taking risks with it, and when the ratings slightly dropped at the end of its first year, they panicked, which is why they recast Mildred and changed the intro. So, in closing, do I recommend AfterMASH? No. It's boring and pointless. But if you're curious to see what happened to Potter, Klinger and Mulcahy after Korea, then I'd say take a look. Oh, and one more thing: why does it have to say "A continuation of M*A*S*H" in the closing credits? I think we can figure that out ourselves, but then again, this show thinks its audience are idiots.
Condo: The Neighbors (1983)
Movin' on Down
Ever since I saw the episode "Condomania", I wanted to give this show another chance. I thought that episode was terrible, and this show was the worst thing to appear on McLean Stevenson's resume. So, after viewing this, the very first episode of Condo, I feel exactly the same. This one is even worse, and this was the pilot episode. This is what got it on television! How? This show is horrible, and this episode was just poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly acted!
We begin with a helicopter news report about traffic and a heat wave, which has no baring on the plot. Then we meet the Kirkridges consisting of uptight bigot James, his kooky wife Kiki, space cadet son Billy, and bland older son Scott. It seems James' life insurance firm bit the dust because people are too poor to buy it... no, I think it's because he just sucked at selling it. They talk about some Hindu family buying their old house. "They have goats." "They paid cash!" Not funny! Then, next door, we have the Rodriguezes: patriarch Jesse, who is essentially a Hispanic George Jefferson, but much less funny and even less personality. His wife Wheez... er, Maria, her father, Jose, and their smokin' hot daughter Linda. Well, things get off to a bad start when James becomes stuck on his back patio and mistakes Jesse for the gardener. He demands plants on his patio and acts like a real stuck-up jerk. Even when Jesse tells him he's their neighbor, not the gardener, James doesn't apologize for his racist, xenophobic attitude. Kiki and Maria meet, and they get along much better. But then, Scott and Linda meet and it's love at first sight. No joke! They go from one minute to snide comments to a date on Sunday. Then we cut to three months later. Again, no joke. Really? We're just skipping ahead? Yeah, screw character development, let's just jump ahead to see nothing has changed.
It's Christmas, and the families are having dinner together, mostly due to Kiki and Maria's friendship. But, of course, James and Jesse are completely at odds, and as for Scott and Linda... they're in love. They want to get married. Geez, slow down, you two! This is what Romeo and Juliet would've been like if it was written by a crackhead. So, the two lovebirds are predictably caught by their fathers, and Jesse forbids Linda from seeing the boy again... and instead of drama, we get a ton of stupid jokes. Anyway, we cut to an additional three months later... good lord, maybe this show IS on crack. Slow down! So we cut to a sauna where an actual funny lady is sitting: Florence Halop. But sadly, even she can't make this enjoyable. We find out that Scott and Linda have eloped, and... get this: she's pregnant. Oh no, why would you do that to the human race? These two families have no business procreating. What are their fathers gonna say? Tune in next time. Yeah, it ends here, and we get a preview of "next week's show" where the families find out and Jesse spews a bunch of Santa names. The End.
This is a horrible show! It's not so-bad-it's-good, it's just BAD! The writing is just awful, the jokes are so terrible and unfunny they make Full House look like Seinfeld. The acting is terrible also, as nobody in this thing can give a decent performance, and it stars some otherwise talented people. Despite this, I do have a favorite character: Jose, Jesse's father in-law. He's amusing in every scene he's in because his indifferent attitude perfectly reflects how I feel as a viewer. James Victor is another actor too good to be in this crap. Condo was such an unbelieveably bad and unfunny show. How it ever got on TV is beyond me, and I really think McLean Stevenson should've retired after Hello, Larry. He should've taken a hint after that, and I like McLean! He deserved better! Condo is so bad, and this episode? I hated it! I hated this offensive, unfunny trash. It's funny how many shows tried to be All in the Family, but FAILED. You know, at the same time this godawful abomination aired, on the same network, there was a show called Amanda's By the Sea, which was an American version of Fawlty Towers. Yeah, didn't you always want to see an American Fawlty Towers with Bea Arthur in place of John Cleese? Geez, maybe Disney really did save ABC, because how that network stayed alive with garbage shows like those is beyond me.
Thanksgiving: a time of being thankful for what you have, and whom you have. A time for getting together and eating. It just so happened that today was Thanksgiving in the Hundred Acre Wood...and everywhere else too for that matter. As you can imagine, Winnie the Pooh and all his friends will be getting together to have their own feast. They sure do, and each brings their own special dish: Pooh brings honey (what else), Piglet brings acorns, Gopher supplies the lemonade, Eeyore brings thistles, Owl brings biscuits, and Tigger's got the chocolate ice cream. I guess Kanga and Roo weren't invited. Well, this is certainly a creative makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, and of course, leave it to Rabbit to rain on their parade and act like an expert. He callously tells them that the food they brought "isn't what Thanksgiving is all about" and proceeds to lecture them on his limited knowledge of the holiday in question, mainly saying that it's about tradition and custom. Rabbit is very conservative, you see, he hates change. Because they're so gullible, everyone believes Rabbit's nonsense, and so he assigns each of them the task of going out to catch a traditional dish. Tigger and Eeyore are tasked with collecting cranberries for the sauce, Gopher is charged with making the pumpkin pie, Owl is given the duty of washing the dishes, Mr. Know-It-All will put up the decorations, and guess who gets to hunt them a turkey? I'll give you a hint: he gobbles too... well, gobbles honey. That's right, Pooh and Piglet get to find the turkey. Hey, what about the mashed potatoes? Well anyway, neither Pooh nor Piglet knows what a turkey is, so Rabbit shows them his very amateurish drawing and says it is the most vital part of Thanksgiving, like the fate of all humanity rests on people eating turkey for the holiday. So they head off into the dark woods, with Piglet scared to death that a turkey may be as fierce as a "jagular", and Pooh describing what he thinks a turkey looks like certainly doesn't help. I'm calling it now, guys, I don't think they're going to find a turkey.
So while the bear of very little brain and the pig with very little courage go combing the woods for a turkey, Gopher goes about his duty of baking the pies by way of blowing them up with TNT and trashing the kitchen. While that's going on, Tigger and Eeyore are off picking berries, and because Tigger doesn't know what a cranberry is, he just picks any berries he sees, even painting them red if he has to. Yeah, that ploy didn't work for the Queen of Heart's rose bushes and it won't work for cranberry sauce either. Once they gather their weight in berries, they head back to Rabbit's house, neglecting to notice the hole in the bag through which the berries are spilling. Uh oh. Bouncing back over to Pooh and Piglet, the former hits upon a brilliant idea to set a turkey trap, so they dig a hole... and find that it's too deep for them to climb back out. Oh bother. Eventually, they rescue themselves from the trap and try to find bait. They come across the berry trail left by Tigger and decide to use them. It's about now the striped one realizes their berries had flown the coop, and was all about to give up hope until he saw the trail they had left, so, back they go, as the trail predictably leads them to Pooh and Piglet's turkey trap. With Tigger and Eeyore in a sack, they think it's a turkey and bring it back to Rabbit's house, just as Gopher's pie is on the table and Owl's carrying a nice, tall stack of washed dishes. And now, my friends, witness as this whole fiasco crashes and burns before their very eyes: they tip up the table, sending the pie flying through the sky, and when Rabbit catches it, he falls in face-first (talk about getting your justdesserts), Owl trips and breaks all the dishes, just as Pooh and Piglet accidentally tear down all the decorations. As he stared at the mess HE created, Rabbit sighs and sinks into a deep depression. There's nothing to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is ruined... forever. So one by one, everyone goes home to pout and feel sorry for themselves. But all is not lost, for leave it to Pooh Bear to stumble upon the true meaning of Thanksgiving: sharing what you have with others, and so he rounds up the gang and they go back to try again, bringing their personal dishes (honey, acorns, ice cream, thistles, etc.). This time Christopher Robin joins them and they make Rabbit the guest of honor, and this time tradition seems to mean nothing to him. Maybe if they had just done it this way in the first place, they might have saved a lot of trouble. So, there you have it: the TRUE meaning of Thanksgiving: it's not WHAT you eat, it's WHO you eat it with.
There you have it, friends. Winnie the Pooh and Thanksgiving Too. Aside from Charlie Brown, there aren't very many noteworthy Thanksgiving specials out there, mainly because I guess unlike Halloween and Christmas, not much can be made out of a Thanksgiving story. Similarly to Charlie Brown, Pooh and his friends create a makeshift dinner using what they have, and the stuck-up know-it-all of the group has point out that it isn't a TRUE Thanksgiving dinner without turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes (again, Rabbit forgot those) and pumpkin pie. It's only later that this stubborn individual gets a swift lesson in what the holiday is truly about. They usually wait until the end of the special to do that, or else it will be very short. I remember Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving used to air after Charlie Brown, but not lately. There's not much else I can except it's your typical Winnie the Pooh fair, and I'm glad they included Gopher, as he seems to be becoming more and more scarce in recent franchise projects. This special was really good, predictable, but nothing too over-the-top. Again, it's Winnie the Pooh, so it's extremely innocent. If you can find it, I do recommend it. There isn't really anything about it I would change, and for the most part, I'm glad they didn't go the route of Pooh and Piglet actually meeting a live turkey and saying, "we'd like to have you for dinner." I guess, if they did that, the extremely dark prospect of Pooh characters actually killing someone would be instantly realized, and that's absolutely something they would want to avoid at all costs.
Where Are We Going?
After receiving yet another sweater from Grandma on his birthday, Louie is told to send her a thank you note. However, being the world-class procrastinator that he was, he kept putting it off. Every time he was about to write it, he willingly put it aside and went to hang with his friends. He knew he'd have plenty of time to write Grandma a thank you note.. until that one fateful day, when Ora came into his room in tears, and she sat Louie down and told him the awful news, that Grandma had passed. According to her attorney, she had left her collection of photo albums to Ora, and to Andy, she wanted him to deliver the eulogy at her funeral. As he struggles to think up some nice words to say about his mother in-law, Louie still ponders what to do about his thank you note. He knew Grandma wasn't alive anymore, so he wanted to find out her new address and send her the note. He asks Andy, who tells him Grandma is with God, and since God is everywhere, Louie thinks Grandma is too. When that didn't work, he went down to the local church to speak to the priest in the confessional. The father tells him his grandmother went to heaven, but when Louie asks for Heaven's address, the father comes up short on answers. And if you think Louie is being naive or dumb, then you're ridiculous. Plenty of children ask these types of questions when a loved one dies. Deciding to look elsewhere, Louie accompanies Mrs. Stillman to Temple Beth Israel and asks the Rabbi, who assures Louie that Grandma has gone someplace good, but cannot give any direct answers... some rabbis say yes, some rabbis say no. Deciding to seek other religions, Louie discovers that they ALL have different interpretations of the afterlife: paradise, Val Hallah, even Cleveland. The Monks believe in reincarnation, which leads Louie to suspect his grandmother has come back in a different life form, any creature at all. Poor, confused boy.
While Louie was trying to find out about the afterlife, Andy struggles endlessly to come up with nice things to say about Mrs. Sherman, but all he does is turn his usual insults around into semi-positives. Then one day, he just sits down and takes a hard look at Grandma's photos, and he remembers the time she rearranged his tools alphabetically, and credits that to her great sense of humor. He's also still got a scar from the time Grandma accidentally opened the awning of the ice skate shack in his face, a little momento. So while things were looking better for Andy, poor Louie had taken to gathering up every bug he could find, thinking one of them was Grandma reincarnated. Fortunately, Principal Halloran stopped him from becoming a laughingstock by bringing him into her office, then she phones Ora to come down to the school to have a talk with the boy. He goes over everything he learned from all the religious people he talked to, and how jumbled their interpretations of the afterlife are. But he still doesn't know how to get Grandma her thank you note. So, Ora takes him to his grandmother's house and shows him the photographs by her bed, saying she had a special place in her heart for Louie, who agreed that she knew everything about him and knew what he was feeling, so his mother assures him wherever Grandma went, she knew Louie was thankful. At the funeral, Andy managed to give a pretty heartfelt eulogy, probably as heartfelt and genuine as he ever sounded. Then, Louie reads his thank you note and leaves it on Grandma's grave. After that, things slowly returned to normal... until Andy received a call from Grandma's lawyer, who just discovered a Deus Ex Machina clause in the old lady's will. In other words, he "forgot" to read the last page, and it's something else for Andy. Money? Yes, but not FOR him. See, Grandma was nice enough to "let" Andy pay all her legal bills. Ha ha, one last laugh at her son in-law's expense. That's our Grandma.
This is probably the best episodes of Life With Louie, it's beautifully made from start to finish. It handles the subject of death very maturely for a children's Saturday morning cartoon. They give it to us straight, they even correctly portray how children interpret the death of a family member. I think this episode needs to be played in schools, by grief counselors, or anybody who helps children trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. I mean, this episode is so smart, so heartfelt, and funny, but only when appropriate. That scene when Ora takes Louie to Grandma's house and tells him how much she loved him, and when Louie tears up, I get misty eyed myself. Seriously, I find myself crying at that moment, and when Ora tells Andy she misses her mom. I'm not someone who cries easily at movies and television, but this one always does the trick. I lost my grandmother in February of this year, I know what the Andersons were going through. I also like how they attached some levity at the very end, letting us go out with a laugh. Bottom line, I urge EVERYONE to watch this episode and show it to ANYONE who wants to explain death to their children, or to a friend, or anybody at all. It's very important. Like when talking about where babies come from, Life With Louie handled death in a mature, honest fashion, at least from a child's point of view. It's a masterpiece, and it should've won an Emmy. Did they give Emmys to Saturday morning cartoons? If not, they should've made an exception here. Also, this episode served as a nice tribute to Mary Wickes, who passed away in late 1995. That's why we didn't see Grandma in Season 2, because Wickes died after "When Cedar Knoll Freezes Over", and she was in the middle of voicing Laverne in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. R.I.P. Mary Wickes and R.I.P. Henrietta Sherman.
Slalom and Gomorrah
Louie Anderson and Mike Grunewald have been best friends since the day they exited their mother's wombs. Um... define friend. Mike is always teasing Louie and taking advantage of him, but in retrospect, he almost qualifies as a friend, so I guess he'll do. Andy and Earl Grunewald have been bosom buddies for many years too, working side by side at John Doe. However, something happened one fine day that would shake the very fabric of their universe. On this day, conveniently a Take Your Kid to Work day, they would be announcing a big promotion at the plant, and I think we can already guess who is NOT getting it. You've seen this story many times before. It's Earl, not Andy, who gets promoted to upper middle management. Well, that just bites, getting passed over for a promotion right in front of your child. Well, if you think a promotion wasn't going to change Earl or his son, think again. He struts around the tractor factory like he owned the place and bragged to his former co-workers about the executive washroom, while Mike showed off his brand spankin' new Nightsniffer lunch box with chocolate milk! Brown gold, Holland tea! So, after Grunewald brags to the other kids about going skiing that weekend, Louie tries to show him up by saying he and his family always went skiing and that they're won numerous events. Therefore, the Grunewalds invite the Andersons along with them, mostly in hopes that Louie could teach Mike how to ski. Ha ha, oh Louie, you just bought about ten dozen double-glazed, double-filled donuts from the bakery of lies, and you're about to get a serious stomach ache. En route to Winter Wonderland, Andy complains about Earl's promotion and knows this whole trip was just to toy with him, and Louie eventually confesses about his lying to the Grunewalds that they were expert skiers. As a result, Ora tells him that as soon as they get there, he would come clean and admit the whole thing was a filthy lie. And then what? Drive all the way home? It'll be a pretty short episode if we can't watch Louie and Andy try to ski and fall on their asses. Oh, don't worry, we'll get plenty of Anderson ski slapstick in good time.
Louie's lie spread like wildfire, and the Grunewalds' friends want to meet the world-famous skiers and witness the magic themselves. I think perhaps he should change his name to Lou-nocchio. Every time he tells a lie, his stomach grows. Oh, but we all know what a braggart Andy can be, and so he goes along with Louie's fib, even adding his own fictional feats to the tale. The truth will out eventually, and it won't be more apparent than when the Andersons actually try to ski. First up, Louie is entered in the expert level ski competition, even giving him the nickname "Iceman," because he's a real... top gun. So, down the hill the Iceman goeth. He trips over a rock and slams into a tree, but he still won. Lady Luck is on his side, but will she be as generous with Andy? Unfortunately not, as right when Earl correctly suspects Andy has no idea what he's doing (gee, what gave it away?) his loud voice triggered an avalanche. So after accidentally winning his second ski competition in a row, Louie heads up to the final jump with Mike, and when something has "Dead Man" in the title, you know it isn't good. As they headed for the summit in the ski lift, Louie comes clean about never been skiing in his life and only bragged because Mike was waving his chocolate milk in his face. As they fight, Grunewald accidentally knocks one of Louie's skis off, which ends up jamming the works, breaking the fan belt and causing the lift to because a roller coaster, sending the kids on a wild ride. All the while, Andy and Earl bicker endlessly about the latter's promotion and that Andy practically invented widgets, as he's a world-class widget spinner... er, tightener. Seeing their sons in jeopardy made them set aside their differences and run to the rescue. Luckily it's the widget in the mechanism that was causing the ruckus, so both men work together and get it shut down. With everything okay, Anderson and Grunewald fathers and sons make amends and are all friends again. After that, everyone hung up their skis and things went back to normal, and because of a new Deus Ex Machina policy at the plant, Earl was given his old job back. All was well... until Grunewald announced an upcoming rafting trip and, well, because Louie didn't learn a thing from last time, history was about to repeat itself.
While this episode isn't as enjoyable or entertaining as the others, it's still fun to watch and has a very good message about friendship, and about how bragging and lying can get you in serious trouble. Me, personally, I've never been skiing and I don't think I'll attempt it any time soon, but if that's the sport for you, then go for it. I think we can agree that both the Andersons and Grunewalds have their differences and their faults, but when the chips were down, they sure knew how to put them aside. It was also humorous at how gullible the Grunewalds and their friends were, buying Louie's ski lies and thinking Ora's simple winter coat was a European fashion statement. Well, maybe it was, I don't know one fashion from another. So, if you like skiing and want to see more Life With Louie snow follies, then go along on an Anderson Ski Weekend... bring a parachute.
Life with Louie: Roofless People (1996)
Thar She Blows!
It was just another day at Cedar Knoll Elementary, but for Louie, it might have just been his best day. The teacher brought cake! All those awful studies and lectures were totally worth it, but wouldn't you know, right when Louie was getting his just dessert, a tornado drill rang out. They always seemed to come at the most inconvenient times, such as when Louie was about to learn the identity of Nightsniffer's real father. (Spoiler alert: it's Rin Tin Tin). Oh, but the worst was that field trip to the donut factory. Just as Louie's class was being lead into the sample room, that mournful siren started blaring. Oh come on, that's just cruel! On the day they finally get a break from loud sirens, phony tornadoes and Louie's sweet tooth getting teased, he learns that Tommy's got a crush on the lunch lady. She makes those Sloppy Joes just the way he likes them. Taking his mother's suggestion of letting his beloved know how he feels, Tommy searches the attic for Andy's old love letters to Ora, and man, they are as corny as the fields of Nebraska. But he neglected to put the letters back before leaving the attic, thus allowing the wind to blow them outside. Yep, it was starting to get very stormy outside, and since he's used to tornado drills interrupting him at the most inopportune times, like today it rang out after he kicked a home run, Louie was determined to face the twister head on, because this was no drill. Like a dumb-bell, he walked down the street toward the storm. When he suddenly realized his mistake, he took cover in a trash can. The fierce cyclone damaged the Andersons' roof, but was nice enough to give Louie a "lift" home. So despite the damage to the roof, and a cow that was blown into a tree outside Louie's window, everything was back to normal after the storm, except the little ride gave Louie such a fright, he didn't want to leave his room, even refusing breakfast.
Down at the hardware store, Andy discovers that he's unknowingly become a laughingstock. Remember those love letters Tommy left out that got blown away? They flew right into the hands of Andy's pals who laugh at his corny poetry. Of course, Andy denies ever writing those letters. Probably forgot, which is common. So as Louie refuses to leave his room, Principal Halloran comes over to try and help, offering Rorschact tests, but all Louie saw in them were tornadoes and the damage caused by them. She diagnoses him with tornado-induced agoraphobia (she's a psychiatrist too, I guess), and she tries to sell the Andersons her foolproof 11-step program at a VERY steep price... sheesh, either this principal is paid peanuts at the school, or she's insanely greedy. Andy rightfully ejects her and says HE will cure Louie himself. What cure does Dr. Anderson offer? First: write down your fears, and it's here we learn Andy is afraid of the dark, Brussells sprouts, and the garden hose coming to life and strangling him. Andy has issues. As for Louie, he couldn't even write the word. Next, he tries lecturing Louie on "Wind: Our Friend," by using a somehow super powerful fan, which shreds the window curtains, sucks Louie's pillow right into the blades and sends feathers and fabric everywhere. Finally, a game of hang-man doesn't help, but does produce the new word "tornady." All the while, Ora keeps feeding that cow stuck in their tree, who is so stubborn, she even kicks away the fireman trying to rescue her. Just cut down the tree. One problem at a time, I guess. In his effort to recollect Andy's wayward love letters, Tommy notices how much it's bringing neighborhood couples-married or otherwise-closer together. Andy was quite the silver tongued devil, wasn't he? Finally deciding to fess up, Andy admits he's a poet and he knows it, and willingly recites one to Ora right then and there. Aww. As for that cow in the tree, she manages to give Louie some helpful advice... not sure if he was dreaming or not... but she put things in perspective: she was stuck in a tree, but Louie was not stuck in his room. So, little by little, Louie was honest with himself about his fears, and finally left the room... just in time for another tornado to hit. Isn't it always the way? But uh oh, where's Tommy? Gone to profess his love to Lunch Lady Newton. Fortunately, Louie rescues him just in time, and after that, tornado season was over for another year. All was well again... but history has a strange way of repeating itself, as Andy's list of fears blew out the window and into Jensen's hands, which he was thoughtful enough to use to tease Andy and post copies all over town. What a weenie.
Well, anyone who has had to deal with tornado drills or even the real thing can probably relate to Louie here. For me, I lived where there were no tornadoes, so I think I was pretty lucky. Man, those sirens they blare are the most mournful sounds ever produced by a human. Air raid sirens, I think they call them. Could they have used a less bloodcurdling sound? But anyway, this episode handled the idea of facing your fears and owning up to responsibility nicely, and it ended in classic Louie tradition: he goes from loafing around his bedroom to the backyard hammock and watches Andy mow the lawn. Ha ha. So I definitely recommend Roofless People, as it's funny, clever, has a great message, and the title reminds of that classic song by Weird Al Yankovic, Toothless People. I know it's based off Ruthless People, but you can have it both ways.
Anderson, Take a Lap!
Just by looking at Louie, you just know he was not exactly the most athletic kid in school. His sluggish movements and his lazy attitude made him a real thorn in grumpy Coach Rockwell's side. At the end of every gym class, Louie would dread having to go to the next and tried to sleep it off. Usually that always worked, until one day at work, Andy's friends tell him that that it's un-American for his boy to not be playing baseball. That is seriously the catalyst for why Louie would be joining the baseball game. No cliched "my boy's made the team and he's better than your boy" or "I was the best player in school when I was your age, and you're gonna follow in my footsteps whether you like it or not." I'm glad they decided to be original, and Andy's not going to make Louie compete with another boy just to make himself look good to his friends. No, he's going to make Louie play the game for the SOLE purpose of looking good to his friends. Anyway, he brags to them about Louie "The Babe" Anderson, and how he's as American as French fries, and that he's so excited about baseball season, he can't sleep. Oh, Andy, you just ate over half a foot-long liar sandwich, and you probably bit off more than you can chew. As for "The Babe", he tries to get Ora to sign a bogus note that would excuse him from gym class, but she declines. As for Andy, he tries to get Louie to join the baseball team, but he stubbornly refuses. However, the old "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" ploy got him interested. So, in exchange for Andy signing Louie's excuse note citing an ingrown toenail as the reason, he would pick up a bat and ball. Well, maybe playing baseball won't be so bad. All Louie's friends will be there... including Coach Rockwell. D'oh!
Right away, Coach starts picking on Louie, though to be fair, he's being lazy and a smart-ass, so maybe his being ordered to take a lap is somewhat justified? Yeah, something tells me Coach doesn't believe that ingrown toenail hooey, otherwise he wouldn't make Louie run so much. Needless to say, young Mr. Anderson is pretty lousy at playing America's favorite pastime. Wonder how he's going to do at the big game on Saturday? At least he has his family to cheer him on, and Ora even made some embarrassing T-shirts for his team, the Chipmunks. Personally, I think Coach Rockwell is not much help to his team, as when he isn't needlessly screaming at them, he's got a fetish for making them run laps. Of course, matters were not helped by Andy shouting from the stands. To shut him up, Coach sends Louie up to bat, and at his first pitch, he strikes... as in he accidentally strikes Coach Rockwell in the head with the ball. With him out of commission, the Chipmunks need a new coach, and guess who steps up to the plate? Corporal Anderson, of course, and immediately he changes the team's name to the Mortar Blasts and exchanges their baseball uniforms for military issue, making his players his own little army. Does this make them better players? Take a wild guess. Well, since Andy dropped the ball, maybe Ora can pick it up. And that's just what she does, showing Louie a few tricks she picked up as a little girl playing ball with her brothers. Her tips turn the Mortar Blasts from misfires into direct hits. They start actually winning games for a change, but naturally, Andy tries to take credit for their progress. But to be fair, he was probably unaware of Ora's coaching them on the side. Eh, even if he were, he'd still try to take credit. The team does so well, they make it into the playoffs, with just one minor caviat: the game was at night, under very bright lights, so they couldn't see Ora giving them plays from the stands. Bottom of the ninth, 1 out needed to win, and Louie was on the plate pitching to, who else, but Glen Glenn. Fortunately, his first two pitches were fouls. Coach Andy tells Louie to walk him, but from the stands, Ora shouts "use the outside slider, Louie!" So he does, and Glen misses the ball, sending his bat across the field. They won! The team dog-piles Louie, then they carry Ora on their shoulders... those kids must be REALLY strong... all while Andy sulks about the victory not being his. But eventually, he's humbled enough to give credit where it was due. After that, Louie goes back to gym class and even wants to try out for football, but that's another story... that never happens, but he does play basketball in Season 3.
It was a clever idea for Andy to try and run a baseball team as if it were an army, though football is the sport that's more about strategies and battle plans. I watched George Carlin do a stand-up routine on the differences between football and baseball, and the former is definitely the more aggressive and war-like of the two. That's Tommy La Sorda doing the voice of Coach Rockwell who, as I say, loves making people take laps. I think this episode does a good job conveying messages about sportsmanship, working together as a team, and that said team functions on the sum of its parts, and not just on who's leading it. Even non-baseball fans would like this one, and as stated above, it was a refreshing way of getting Louie to join the baseball team by simply saying his not playing the sport was un-American. All they needed to do was say that, and there he goes. If this series were set in Canada, he'd be made to play hockey for those reasons. So I definitely recommend this baseball themed episode of Life With Louie. Behind Every Good Coach... is someone who understands the game better than he does.
In the Doe
When out of season, deers were cherished animals, whom people only wanted to shoot with cameras. However, the moment deer season officially began, everyone pulled out rifles and shotguns as if they were Texans, and went to hunt themselves some deer. Andy enjoyed the sport so much his kids hardly saw him, which explains why he was intentionally left off of Louie's family portrait, which made himself with crayons. Of course, when the hapless hunter came home, Ora showed him the picture and chided him for not spending enough time with his own son. She suggests Andy take him on his next hunting trip, and he wanted to say no, but he knew full well if he did, Andy Season would open. So, bright and early, Andy and Louie head off into the woods with Jensen and Gus. They make Louie their official deer caller, meaning he has to belt 'deer calls' into the woods, but he ends up sounding like a constipated moose. Shh! Be vewy, vewy quiet. They're huntin' dee-uhs. Huh huh huh huh. So, the men move deeper into the woods, with Andy certain he knows where to find some deer, all the while telling a story about how he saved the Feldman hunting party from a pack of bloodthirsty, rabid deer. Cool story, bro. Louie tried to keep up, but as we all know, he's not the rugged outdoor type... he's strictly an indoors man. Fortunately, he seems to get a little help from a deer. That's right, he's got himself an antlered guardian angel. Just goes to show children notice things that most adults don't, especially bumbling huntsmen like Andy, Jensen and Gus. As you may have guessed, the men don't shoot themselves any deer, but Jensen does plug a pine tree, which they strap to the roof of their pickup, as you do, and will probably save it until Christmas. However, that isn't the only little "souvenir" they were bringing from the hunt. Unbeknownst to them, a certain four-legged friend followed them home.
Next morning after Andy goes to work in his usual foul mood, Ora and the boys discover the deer, and beg to keep him until the end of hunting season. It would be their little secret, and it might have worked, had blabber-mouth Louie not told all his friends at school about his new "pet." Word gets back to Andy that there's a deer in his house, and he bursts in with a loaded rifle... which quickly gets him in dutch with the wife, and after they endlessly beg him to keep the woodland creatures, he folds like a towel. Hooray, Spot the Deer is here to stay... that's what Louie named him, though I think he should've named him John. Unfortunately, harboring a wanted criminal would not be an easy task, as a bunch of hunters are camped out in front of the house, even selling T-shirts with Andy's head sporting antlers. All day and all night, those bloodthirsty, gun-toting fools waited for the slightest sign of a deer to reveal itself. Luckily they aren't as observant as they like to think, because Spot manages to sneak out of the house one night without anybody noticing and slip back into the woods. When the family discovers their deer flew the coop and knew he'd be a sitting duck with all those hunters, Andy says they should let it go, and I believe he has a point. I mean, eventually someone somewhere will shoot that deer. But, when his family keeps pestering him, he takes Louie out into the woods, holding the hunters at bay with a set of fake deer antlers in the kitchen window. Given how slow these guys' brains work, this should buy them a good three hours. So after a little bit of trekking, Andy and Louie find Spot at the bottom of a hill, but unfortunately, 150 armed hunters are not far behind. As they all pointed their guns of various sizes at poor spot, Andy makes an impassioned plea for them to leave him alone, saying they would have to go through him first... and judging how trigger-happy some of these guys are, I'd say they would probably have done just that, if it weren't for the saving grace of the park ranger declaring deer season officially over! So, Spot got reunited with his deer family, and as for Louie, he finally "remembered" what Andy looked like and included him in his next crayon family portrait, and they both agreed never to go hunting again.
Who else spotted (pun intended) that Free Willy reference where Spot jumps that rock wall to go back with his family? Well, Tracks of My Deers, it was kind of a silly episode, but it did have a good message about respecting wild animals, and how some people take the sport of hunting far too seriously. I mean, this episode wasn't really saying hunting is bad, but rather you can easily get carried away with it and forget about what truly matters. Also, if the hunters used their brains, they might have brought the authorities in. I'm not an expert on legal matters concerning woodland critters, but I'm sure it's illegal to keep a deer in a private, residential house. I could be wrong, but I know some states and some cities do have stiff laws about keeping wild animals as pets. Inversely, Andy could've called the police on those hunters staked out on his property: pointing loaded weapons at his house, indirectly endangering his family, trespassing, and disturbing the peace, also crimes. But this is what happens when people decide to take the law into their own hands. Anyway, if you like deers or you like hunting or are against it, Tracks of My Deers is for you.
The Cold Shoulder
One freezing winter morning, the Andersons prepare themselves for the annual Cedar Knoll winter carnival. At first, the kids don't want to go, citing how lousy they did in the years before, but Andy insist on going and giving it 110% anyway: cutthroat competition is what separates us from the animals. So, they all go to the carnival, where Grandma works the skate shack, and... well, Tommy believed Louie when he said the ice castle was made of candy, so he got his tongue stuck to it. Louie just scoffs and says, "dumb kid." You said it. Anyway, the first competition is the dog sled race. It's Andy versus his pals Jensen and Earl, and even Ben Glenn, who gives us our first insight into why Glen Glenn is such a bully: his dad encourages it. That's nothing, you should meet his mom in Season 2... you've been warned. Anyway, Andy gets dragged away by his dog sled and loses the race. Meanwhile, Louie goes to see Jeannie at the ice rink, and sees quite the beautiful young lady skating across the pond. It's the older sister Jeannie never talked about: Lana. Louie falls hard for her... right on the ice. As for the other guys, they all try to put the moves on Lana, but what they lack in charm, they make up for with very clumsy skating. Was there no one graceful enough to skate with her? That's when Louie decided he needed to become a champion Olympic ice skater pronto. In the meantime, Ora competes with the women in a skating race through town, even wearing an embarrassing red body suit. She looks like a giant tomato somebody painted a road stripe over.
Next is the ice sculpting challenge, and it looks like Andy may actually win this one. Unfortunately, the lunkhead insisted on putting hot lights over it, making it melt, and destroy everyone else's sculptures in the process. Here's an idea, Andy: stop being a braggart, get your head out of the clouds, and focus on competing IN the race, NOT on winning it. Might save you some heartache. As for Louie, at Grandma's suggestion, he asks Jeannie for some skating lessons, all the while checking out Lana on the ice. And here is where we discover that although Jeannie may be sweet, she gets very jealous, and Louie learns the hard way about discussing women around other women, especially if said women are older and more... developed. So after Louie picks himself up from the ice, he receives a big surprise: Lana actually talks to him. Somehow he interprets this as an invitation to the ice dance that night. Come on, Lou, she's out of your league. But he doesn't care, he's a young fool in love, and is about to get another pain lesson in it. Uh oh, what are Andy and the other guys up to now? There's cheese in them thar hills! Their mission is to find a piece of genuine Wisconsin cheddar cheese that the mayor sliced himself, which results in Ben Glenn trying to tell a joke. Like father, like son. Andy is certain he's got this one in the bag-oh no, here we go again-and he's got a trick up his sleeve, or rather in his jacket pocket. Who better to seek out a piece of cheese than a mouse? As he walks his pint-sized companion to sniff out the gold, they cross paths with the ladies' skating race, it's Ora Anderson and Kitty Grunewald in the lead, exchanging quips and childish insults as they went. See? Women can be puerile about competitions too. As for Andy, after an unscheduled trip down a hillside, he finds the golden chunk of cheese! Huzzah! Finally, the Andersons are tied for the first place... along with the Grunewalds. It's all on Ora now. Man, those two gals are getting very aggressive. They get so busy insulting each other, they skate right over a broken bridge and Kitty nearly falls to her death. Despite the finishing line in sight, Ora goes back and saves her friend, and it's a tie! Looks like this carnival won't be such a bust after all. That night was the big ice dance, and Louie jumps at his chance to dance with Lana, only for her to turn out to be a world-class Bee-yotch (with a capital B) as she and her actual date patronize and make fun of him, and Glen Glenn and his bully pals rub it in. Luckily, Jeannie comes to the rescue, having forgiven Louie after a heart-to-heart with his Grandma. They make amends, and Louie gets to dance with the right girl. So, in spite of everything, it was a very successful winter carnival. Can't wait 'til next year.
It doesn't matter if you win or lose, so long as you play the game. What would've happened if the Andersons just stayed home and missed the carnival? They wouldn't have learned the true value of sportsmanship, friendship, and how little misunderstandings can quickly balloon into full-blown catastrophes. As stated above, we meet Glen Glenn's father, who is also a big jerk and kind of a bully himself, which does explain why his son is one. As for Jeannie's sister Lana, yeah, she was bad news. I think Louie was spared a great deal of heartache by not going with that one. Also, how did that girl not catch pneumonia from skating in a mini skirt. I get that she's being a tease, but still. While not one of my favorites, it's still very satisfying and provides a great message. It was also a treat for a live action Louie to recall and reenact the snowball incident from "A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman" at the beginning. So, this winter, or whatever time of year it happens to be, watch what happens "When Cedar Knoll Freezes Over."
Music Hath Charm
Looks like Louie is going to have himself a little competition, because there's a new boy in town vying for the affections of Jeannie Harper. His name was Sean, and he puts the S in Showoff. Already he's got Jeannie going nuts for him, as she breaks off previous plans with Louie to go hang out with Sean. Determined to win her back for Valentine's Day, Louie brings her a wagon full of goodies. Unfortunately, the new kid gave her a thoughtful message... in skywriting! Yeah, he rigged a skywriting apparatus to a kite... well, I'm sure Benjamin Franklin did the same thing to woo his sweetheart. Anyway, Louie gives what's left of his Valentine's candy (he got hungry on the way home) to his mother and asks how she got Andy to like her. Ora recalls that fateful night long, long ago when she and the gals in Chicago went to a dance hall, and there, she met the handsomest man ever to play a swinging sax... and it was not Andy. His act was up next, and for some reason, most of the girls are abhorred and leave. Are they insane? I thought chicks dug men in uniform. The leader of the Army Men was a boy named Andy Anderson, and as the boogie woogie bugle boy tried to play, he released the spit valve, inadvertently expectorating on Ora. That's when she knew it was true love. They got married on February 27th, however when Andy told the story, in addition to getting the location and time of day wrong, he says the song he played was intended for another woman, however when another serviceman claims said woman, Ora asks Andy if the song was dedicated to her, as he happened to be looking in her direction at the time. He fibs and says yes, and they dance the night away. He claims they got married on February 28th. Ah, well, it's just one day off, no need to raise a wall over that, but there was a point to this story: music hath charm, and so Louie decided he would join the school band.
As you might have guessed, he's a terrible trumpet player which throws off the rest of the band. He tries the clarinet, but he really blows on that too. The trombone ends up giving Coach Rockwell a concussion, due to a loose pump, or maybe Louie's playing was so bad, it wanted to escape. Hey, maybe wind instruments aren't Louie's thing. Put him on a guitar or a keyboard or the drums. I guess the music teacher isn't familiar with those and instead gives Louie a tuba, though I'm sure he would've preferred a 'tub'a' cookie dough. As expected, Louie can't even make a single sound on the tuba, but listen to Sean on that wailing sax... by the way, how old is Sean supposed to be? The kids are all 8 and he looks like he's 14. Musta been held back, but even so, why would a high school freshman have a thing for a third grader? I think Jeannie should stay away from that punk. But she's just gaga over him, going on and on about how talented a musician he is, what a gentleman he is, how he walks on water, yadda, yadda, yadda. As if Louie didn't have his fair share of petty problems, Andy and Ora start bickering over what day they were married. Back and forth, back and forth, insisting it was the 27th or the 28th. Even though Ora knows the wedding certificate says 27th, Andy denies city hall can keep accurate records. It was at that moment, Louie finally manages to play the tuba, providing us with an amusing fart joke in the process. Proud of Louie for finally getting a handle on his instrument, the teacher gives him his very first solo for the upcoming concert. Okay, Sean, put this in your sax and smoke it. Uh oh, his solo consists is a single B note. Louie wasn't going to let that stop him, he was gonna give them a show at that concert. So on the big night, as everyone's families were in attendance, Louie was determined more than ever to upstage that third grade teenager, so he improvises his tuba solo, so bad it caused everyone to evacuate the building... except Andy, who cheered him on. Needless to say, Lou scored zero brownie points with Jeannie. When they get home, Andy decides to stop being stubborn about the day he and Ora were married, and let her be right, as THAT is the key to a woman's heart: admitting your wrong. On the night of their anniversary, Andy attempts to recreate that magical night 19 years ago, with Louie and Tommy as a makeshift band. Taking this lesson to heart, Louie and his tuba venture over to Jeannie's house, where he recites and plays her a little heartfelt apology. The neighbors were acrimonious, but Jeannie was deeply touched. So all was well in Anderson Country again, and that Sean kid is never heard from again. Hopefully the authorities closed in on him.
Once again, Louie and his family demonstrate situations that are all too familiar: spouses arguing over petty things like anniversary dates, and Louie feeling jealous of another boy moving in on his girl. It was all handled and resolved very well, and in the end, Louie can play a mean tuba. Louie Anderson is not a bad singer either. In fact, I think he should've put out a Life With Louie album back when the show was popular, especially at Christmas time: Louie and Andy singing Christmas songs. Not much else I say about Mr. Anderson's Opus, other than it's well made, clever, funny, and touching. If you can relate to Louie and/or Andy, then it's definitely for you.
A Deluge of Friendship
Winters in Cedar Knoll, Wisconsin seemed to last a life time. But then, one day, the "ice age" came to an end and spring arrived. After being cooped up indoors for so many months and everyone's case of cabin fever wore off, it would often result in a big, old fashioned neighborhood feud. One tiny, insignificant problem could start a domino effect and create an all out war between the neighbors. This is something Louie encountered that week in spring when the heavy rains nearly washed Cedar Knoll off the map. It all started when the Andersons got new next door neighbors: the Jensen family. A prissy stuck-up pathologist, his wife, and their son, Scott, whom Louie quickly befriends, and Ora brings Mrs. Jensen up to speed on all the neighborhood gossip. Being a full-time window watcher, she has the inside scoop on them all. As for Andy and Mr. Jensen, they got off to a bad start at a Sunday barbecue when Andy resents the man's line of work. Well, we can't all be buried in foxholes, Andy. Next, they disagree on who is the funniest comedian; And is a Bob Hope man, while Jensen's yuks come straight from Milton Berle. As a result, Andy creates a scene in front of all the neighbors in attendance, and even burns the burgers to a crisp. Right about now Mr. Jensen is learning why he got his house so cheap. As if that weren't bad enough, they also have a little dispute over property lines, as the tree in the Andersons' yard is actually on Jensen's property line. The men start bickering about whose land is whose land, as a storm starts brewing. Literally, thunder, lightning, rain, the whole nine yards. Becoming too paranoid for his own good, Andy thinks to himself, "what would Donald Trump do?" Well, not really, but he does build a wall. For several rainy days on end, Andy constructed his brick barrier, fortifying his house against the pathologist enemy.
The feud continued at school, where Louie's so-called friends laughed at him over his father building a wall. Miffed at being a figure of ridicule, Louie accuses Scott of letting their dog go in the Andersons' yard. This results to shouts, and then it almost becomes fisticuffs (and enjoy this while you can, because it's the ONLY time Louie willingly attempts to fight someone), but luckily they're saved by the bell... or rather P.A. announcement, telling them school has been called on account of rain. So, braving his way home through his flooded town, Louie realizes the one place in town that isn't halfway under water was his house, courtesy of Andy's wall. Speaking of whom, the old soldier doesn't even realize it's flooded outside, as he's spent all his time inside... his own head, and you all know where THAT usually is. However, due to the flood and so many neighbors being without homes currently, Ora went behind Andy's back and invited them to stay at the Anderson house. After a few families, their house quickly becomes a makeshift hotel: the Folded Arms. Eventually, everyone in the neighborhood was at Casa de Anderson... except the Jensens. Against his better wishes, Andy is sent to check on them, and of course, he forces Louie to go too. They find the Jensens on their rooftop, and at first the stubborn patriarch refuses Andy's invitation to come over the wall, but eventually changes his mind. Good, now the neighborhood feud can continue, with everyone fighting under one roof. But at least Louie and Scott make amends, and then they set out to find Scott's wayward dog. They commandeer a boat and proceed down the river through the neighborhood, rescuing everyone else's lost pets and quickly turning their little craft into Louie's Ark. Back at home, Andy felt like a stranger in his own house as his neighbors began taking up all his space... incidentally, just how big is the Anderson house? They've got, like, 7 kids and 2 adults living there, and now they've got, what, 20 additional people? How is that thing not packed to the rafters? I guess Ora was kind enough to allow the neighbors carte blanche to park it wherever they wanted, not caring about her own husband. What a nice woman. As if things weren't already tense, it seems Andy's solid wall was starting to spring a leak or two...or ten. Louie and Scott get back just in time to alert their plethora of house guests. But instead of moving to higher ground... how they would do that is anyone's guess unless Andy built a third story to the house... they all pitch in and patch up. A little mud here and there, and when that wasn't strong enough, Ora's sweet potatoes did the job. Next morning, the sun finally came out and the deluge was officially over. Even better, Andy extends an olive branch to Jensen by he (and a reluctant Louie) scrubbing and drying out the Jensens' house. So now all was well, the flood was gone, the neighborhood feud ended, and it seemed as though Andy and Mr. Jensen would get along just fine... until they have yet another argument about Bob Hope.
When the chips are down, people can easily set aside their differences and do what must be done to survive. That and learning to live and let live are some of the lessons this episode teaches us. I'm also glad that despite the Jensen family being African American, they never address that or have any sort of hint at racism. I mean, it could've gone like that Berenstain Bears book where a Panda family moves in next door and Papa shows his intolerant side. It's good Life With Louie never felt the need to address such a topic, as everyone was created equal. As stated before, Andy Anderson predates Donald Trump in building a wall as a solution, except in Andy's case, the wall was actually useful. The Andersons sure have a giant house to put up all their neighbors during a storm. Maybe Andy should think about starting a hotel, it would make him some decent money. But I don't think they have enough bathrooms for that. So anyway, I definitely recommend Raindrops Keep Falling on My Bed. Classic Life With Louie with great messages.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
Don't Lose Your Head
Long, long ago, before New York became the crazed, crowded, liberal, epicenter of art, culture and yuppies, there was a little town known as Sleepy Hollow, which was just that: a sleepy town where the residents sit around snoozing. The only life of the party was a brash young gentleman named Brom Bones, who although fancied himself to be a bruiser and a troublemaker, he was still seen as a gentleman and a town hero. That is, until one fateful day there came a new man in town: an awkward, lanky man with a misshapen head and long, pointy nose in a book, simply known as Ichabod Crane. He quickly drew the attention of everyone in town-man and horse-as they had never seen his kind before. Yeah, something tells me the people in this town don't read. Ichabod is the new schoolteacher, and he runs a tight ship. However, he's willing to forego any infractions in exchange for dinner invites. You see, not only does Ichabod adore free meals, he's also quite the ladies' man. One such lady really caught his fancy: Katrina Van Tassell, only daughter of the richest farmer in the county. She would have the men lining up to catch a glimpse and flirt with her. Despite being a tart, she's got the men swooning and even worshiping the very ground she walks on. So, in addition to Sleepy Hollow being a boring, dead-end burg, it must also be the bachelor's capital of America... either that, or these men are really gonna be in dutch with their wives. As for Ichabod, he spends days on end, fantasizing about Katrina, and about her rich daddy's farm. Is Ichabod a gold-digger, or is he genuinely interested in the prettiest and most sought-after maiden in town? You make the call. But yeah, he is a gold-digger. Looking to inherit all that sweet land when Farmer Daddy kicks off. Stirring up some pretty bad karma there, Ichy. Eh, what's the worst that could happen? He lose his head? Ha ha.
However, someone else was interested in the fair Katrina: ol' Brom Bones, who seems to go from town hero to bully in this scene, chasing off those other desperate men to have Katrina to himself, but he has a formidable adversary to contend with in Ichabod Crane. Back and forth, he and Brom perform acts of chivalry, trying to outdo each other, but only end up embarrassing themselves. After all, Brom could've just been a man and let Ichabod win this round, but all's fair in love and war, I guess. After that, the plucky new schoolteacher finds himself invited to old man Van Tassell's annual Halloween night ball, where he delights in the free food, kissing up to Mr. V.T., and dancing with Katrina, while Brom Bones just sits around and sulks, as his only alternative was dancing with a fat chick. His attempts at changing partners always fell flat. However, fortune may soon work in his favor, as he notices another little quirk about Ichabod: he's superstitious. Knowing he'd believe a ghost story hook, line and sinker, Brom tells, or rather, sings about a mysterious and nefarious Headless Horseman: a cursed demonic presence who wanders the wood one night a year, looking to get head... I mean, get a new head. He tells the only solace is to make it across the bridge, as the Headless Horseman can't cross it for some reason. Well, I dunno, maybe ol' Brom Bones is full of hooey and probably just sang that catchy song for kicks. Either way, Ichabod's ride home through the dark, spooky woods was very unsettling. Just the tiniest sounds and whistling of the wind made his knobby knees wobble. But I don't blame him, these are the scariest woods in the whole world. Even the Blair Witch would be terrified of this place. And worse, it seemed like all these creatures were mocking him. Suddenly, his horse comes to an unexpected stop, but Ichabod still hears the sound of hoof beats. Could it be? Naw, it was just some cattails tapping against a log. Ha. He and his horse have a good laugh, as there was nothing to be afraid of... OH MY GOD! It's the Headless Horseman! With a terrifying cackle, he raises his razor sharp sword and takes a swipe at Ichabod's head, so he and the horse haul ass out of there. But that evil being is close behind them, cackling and brandishing his sword. After riding topsy-turvy through the woods, they see the bridge in the distance, knowing freedom was a short distance away. But as Ichabod and his horse cross the bridge, the Headless Horseman tosses them a parting gift: a flaming pumpkin. By daybreak, all that remained at the scene were Ichabod's hat and a shattered pumpkin. So in the end, Brom Bones got the girl, and as far as Ichabod, some think he got away, settled down and started a family, but everyone else knows the truth, that he was "spirited away" by the Headless Horseman.
There have been many incarnations of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, most notably Tim Burton's, but most people are familiar with the Disney version. The Headless Horseman has been hailed one of the scariest villains ever to appear in a Disney film. There is some speculation as to who he really was, as he wasn't seen or mentioned until that climactic chase. Personally, I buy into the theory that Brom Bones was the Horseman, trying to either kill Ichabod or run him out of town. The narrator says he was a practical joker, and we all saw how jealous he was of Ichabod, and how he'd been made a fool of in front of everybody in town. Jealousy can drive a man to do some pretty crazy things, and it wouldn't be entirely beneath him to resort to foul play in order to get his way. If this is the case, then he's a Disney villain who not only got away with his evil deeds, but also gets the girl in the end. Pretty brazen for Disney to go that route, even if it is how the book ended, as the Hays Office often demanded a happy ending. All that aside, this was a fantastic short film, narrated and performed brilliantly by Bing Crosby. Rich with detail and the splendor that Disney's animation never fails to deliver and perfect to watch around Halloween, I definitely recommend The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. And remember, kids, it's only a cartoon... right?
All's Fair in Oven War
The Andersons are going to the fair. Ah, the good ol' county fair: nothing but fun and frolic, competition and reckless abandon as the far as the eye could see. Naturally, Ora would be entering the bake-off, while Andy would be showing off his company's brand new tractor: the John Doe XR-2350, and as for Louie... he's in for a special treat. Since he's much older this year, he gets to walk around the fair without adult supervision AND Andy would give him 10 tickets. Louie must be wondering who this man is and what he did with his real father. Yes, with this much freedom, this just might be the year Louie conquers the Dragon's Breath. No, I'm not saying his breath stinks, I'm referring to a ride at the fair dubbed Dragon's Breath: cars spin in the air like a tilt-a-whirl and a mechanical dragon breathes smoke on them. Ever since Louie was an infant, that thing scared the pants off him. It didn't help matters when Ora mentions a near-fatal incident with the Dragon's Breath, involving a car dislodging from the ride, flying miles away into a pasture, causing all the cows to give sour milk. Cool story, bro. Regardless, Louie was looking forward to his day at the fair, and it was going to be spectacular... with one minor caviat (yes, I like using that word), guess who gets to tag along with Louie at the fairgrounds? His little brother, Tommy. Complete with child leash, which is a very good invention, in my opinion. All small children under 10 should wear them, and the ones under 5 should wear a muzzle too. No, I don't hate kids, just annoying ones. So anyway, let's get this show on the road. As Andy rides his tractor down a busy highway-as you do- he sings his own rendition of Old MacDonald. Ha ha. That's our Andy.
Once at the fair, Ora sets up at the Cassarole table with an old rival, Sally. Then Andy parks his tractor and sits at a table, waiting for hoards of people to come and take a gander at it. A perspective customer seems interested, and he's loaded. He wants a simple-to-operate tractor for his simpleton son, but before Andy can give him the song-and-dance, the man decides to shop around first. As for Louie, he foregoes the big rides and instead accompanies Tommy on the baby rides. Anyone could tell he was trying to avoid his fears, and those who could see promptly teased him about it. However, Louie manages to get a well-deserved break from Tommy when Jeannie invites him on the Tunnel of Love. He does what any proud, red-blooded American male would do: ties his brother's leash to a pole and joins his sweetheart on the ride. No way this could ever backfire. But at least Louie is having the closest thing to fun at the fair, as Andy's duty prevents him from entering all those wacky contests, and Ora is constantly having to put up with Sally Showoff. Fate rears its ugly head when Jeannie pulls a fast one and drags Louie into the Dragon's Breath line. Hey, look at it this way, Louie, you got someone to hold your hand while you scream bloody murder. Naw, butterball chickens out. Louie, you weenie. Oh yeah, and Tommy's disappeared too. Cue muted trumpets. While Louie combs the fairgrounds for his wayward brother, Tommy is having the time of his life as he just happens to find a lost roll of tickets and uses them to get on the big-kid rides... how they ever let him on, we'll never know. While that was going on, Andy left his post to join in the greased pig contest, while that farmer's dopey son climbed onto the XR-2350 and starts it up. Uh oh, this is gonna be trouble. Speaking of trouble, when Louie hears Tommy is on the Dragon's Breath and refuses to get off, he ends up getting on the ride himself. Time to face those fears and put your big boy pants on, Lou. While that was going on, Andy won the greased pig competition. Actually, he won second place, and the prize was the pig. Oh well, ham and bacon tonight. But oh no, the tractor is making a big ol' mess of things! With help from Andy's new pig pal, he manages to stop the tractor before it can plow through the Prettiest Baby Contest. As for Ora, she presents her dish to the contest judge, Johnny Cash... er, I mean, Johnny Love. Fortunately, he has taste, and gives Ora First Prize. So this day at the fair was a success for everyone: Andy sold his tractor, Louie conquered his fear of the Dragon's Breath, and Ora learned it's not whether you win or lose, so long as your competition is put in her place.
Classic fairground fun. As I watched this one, it reminded me of a Little House on the Prairie episode called Meet Me at the Fair, and had subplots similar to this one: Caroline enters a cooking contest, Charles takes part in the contests, and Laura has to mind Carrie. And just like Louie loses Tommy, Carrie becomes separated from her older sibling too, but unlike Tommy, Carrie didn't get to have fun, however she did get an unscheduled trip in a hot air balloon. It was a fun episode of that series, and this one is a fun episode of Life With Louie. I'm sure we can relate to Louie, having deep-rooted fears of carnival rides and roller coasters. No matter what suits your interests, A Fair to Remember has got it where it counts. Not much else I can, except give it a look if you can find it.
The Good Son
For most families, the second biggest holiday of the year, aside from Christmas, is Mother's Day. The one time of year you have to show your mom how much she means to you, and how much it meant to you that she brought you into this world. It's a pretty big affair in the Anderson family as well, with Tommy boasting another adorable, heartfelt gift he was making for Ora, and Louie, well, he's got something big in mind too... translation: he's got zip. Speaking of which, Andy's mom calls up and tells her son she won't be able to come see him, as they took her license away. SO, Andy gets to drive up there to see HER. Oh boy. Naturally, he's anything but pleased, however she manages to guilt him into coming to pick her up. Friday was the big day, and Andy had to hit the road early as Minneapolis was 280 miles away, and Grandma Helga waits for no man. It will be a miracle if that Rambler even makes it across the state lines. It was nightfall by the time he made it, and while Helga packed, they go back and forth about how Andy's brother Eric is much more successful than he, and he's their mother's favorite, although she would be very quick to deny that. Even on the ride back to Cedar Knoll, she doesn't let Andy forget the time he accidentally broke her favorite rocking chair when accidentally tripping on Eric's trophy case. Yep, worrying about petty problems definitely runs in the Anderson family line. Speaking of problems, Ora wakes up the next morning feeling very under the weather. Without being told to do so, Louie jumped into a position of responsibility in making, or at least trying to make, breakfast. Sister Laura was no help, as usual. All the while, Louie was becoming mighty paranoid at what Tommy could possibly have up his sleeves for his Mother's Day gift. Looks like he's working on something pretty special in the basement. As he attempts to glue together a Happy Mother's Day sign with toothpicks, his selfish brother Danny tosses his baseball glove on it and tells Louie to make Mom's lunch. He can't do it because he has a game. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Louie's older siblings are completely worthless (Not his real ones, the ones in this cartoon).
Being the only one in the house who cares about his mother's wellbeing, Louie puts aside his own personal amusement and does Ora's housework so that she can stay in bed and rest, as per doctor's orders. So after being towed around the house by the vacuum cleaner (luckily this wasn't Mr. Mom or it would've chased him), Louie still can't make up his mind over what gift to get his mother, meanwhile worthless older sibling #3-Carol-comes in to tell Louie that Mom needs tissues, but she's too busy drinking soda to get them. Man, it is just mind-boggling how useless these guys are. I mean, I think that was the joke, and part of the reason why Louie Anderson's older siblings could be excluded from the series for the most part, because they contribute absolutely nothing. Why do they even exist here, other than for the sole purpose of making Louie look responsible and considerably much less lazy by comparison? Anyway, Andy and Helga come home after a very LONG car ride. Mother sends her son into the kitchen for some drinks, all while telling Louie and Tommy the famous rocking chair story. Determined to right this wrong and shut the old lady up, Andy decided to build her a new one. Louie is still hard-up for a Mother's Day gift, and Andy's suggestion of a crank shaft didn't help. Oh well, I'm sure he'll get her something really nice. In fact, I think he already has. Next morning, Louie cooks breakfast for the family, well the ones who count anyway, and suddenly, in comes Ora, good as new and well rested. That's not the only surprise; guess who else pays the Andersons a visit on this day? Good ol' Eric, the wealthy show-off. You remember Cousin Sammy from 'The Fourth Thursday in November'? He was pretty much a precursor to Eric. Naturally, jealous Andy tries to bar him from the house. I actually don't really blame him, because Eric is quite the obnoxious, mama's boy. Since it's his house, Andy gets to give Helga his present first, and she loves the rocking chair. What did Eric get her, a recliner? Nope. A new car. Um, yeah, if he was such the attentive son that he was, he would've learned Helga can't drive anymore on account of her eyes are shot. Give the new car to Andy... but oh, yeah, his Rambler is his BFF. Never mind. So, what about Ora's gifts? Louie still doesn't have a present. He tries throwing together a fruit basket, but Andy beat him to it. And here's what Tommy's been working on: A Lot's-o-Huggin' Bear. No, not the evil one from Toy Story 3, a teddy bear with arms attached to strings that can give hugs. Ain't that sweet. Eat your heart out, Hallmark. Then, Louie sadly comes clean about having no present, but he is informed that he gave Ora the best present of all: allowing her to rest and taking care of the house. So, all in all, Mother's Day was a success, and to celebrate, they all go for a drive in the new car Eric gave Helga, oh, and he's getting her corrective eye surgery too. Regardless, she loves her boys equally, so it worked out for everyone.
This is the series finale of Life With Louie, and it felt like it was the closing episode, as it ends with the family driving off into the sunset. However, I think the show might have been canceled because it was around this time that Saturday morning cartoons like Life With Louie were becoming extinct. The kids all wanted action, things blowing up, Japanese pocket monsters, robots fighting aliens. They didn't want to be educated, they wanted to see stuff blow up. Even during its initial run, Louie had some stiff competition from X-Men and Spider-Man, people in costumes fighting, no room for good old fashioned values. Though, maybe it's for the best that the series ended when it did, because Season 3 is undoubtedly the weakest season, as episodes were practically no longer based off Louie Anderson's material and were original situations fabricated for the series. In other words, the show became very far-fetched at this point. But, in retrospect, Life With Louie was a very good show, and it's a shame most people have forgotten about it. It needs to be seen by future generations, which is why I hope one of these days Louie Anderson will release the series on DVD or stream them from his web site. I'm sure the show means a lot to him and he put a great deal of work into it. So, in closing, I do recommend Project: Mother's Day, an episode with a very strong message and a terrific example to follow, and I especially recommend the whole series of Life With Louie: low-key, simple, didn't try to be more than it was.
With Election Day right around the corner, now would be a good time to look at the time Louie's school held class presidential elections. You remember how excited the kids would get on running for class president, right? Yeah, neither do I, because they never seem to want to. However, two candidates rise up from the ranks: Melvin, or one of the three Melvins-the taller one-announces his bid for the presidency, and so does Mike Grunewald. I pity the poor sap who has to be his campaign manager. Incidentally, it's Louie, and not because they're friends, but because he blackmails him with some incriminating photographs: of Louie in a Speedo and wearing water wings, and his friends all laughing at him. Man, these are guys are jerks. Ha. Blackmail. At least the kid is starting out as a legitimate politician. Oh, and Toddler wants to run for president too. Yeah, if Munchkinland needed a president, he'd be a shoe-in. Calling it right now, I'd vote for Melvin. He's the obvious choice and most qualified of these inane, weaseling and inexperienced candidates. I know the irony here, but I refuse to point it out. So now that Louie's stuck being his slacker friend's campaign manager, the first thing he needs to know is how to do the job. His parents are not much help, especially Andy who is preoccupied with bowling night. His team never has much luck at the lanes, mostly due to Earl Grunewald's inability to get the ball near the pins. After so long, Captain Andy boots him off the team and replaces him with a show-off named Jack. Never let it be said Andy doesn't understand the true value of friendship. You wanna bowl a strike, huh, well you just did.
So, how are Louie and Mike doing on the campaign trail? Taking a tour of their dilapidated school, Louie decides they need bigger lockers so they can store more trash. Longer recess, as twenty minutes is not long enough. Separate shower stalls for the locker room are a must as well. Okay, legitimate issues, except for the lockers. Maybe more trash cans in the hall would be a better idea. They also decide the school should do away with lima beans, because let's face it, nobody likes them. As for the other two candidates, the longer recess is one of the planks of Toddler's platform-and the only one at that-and as for Melvin, he proposes some real changes that will help the school in the long run. Unfortunately, nobody wants to listen to him and are instead enticed with longer recesses and the elimination of lima beans. Very prophetic, this episode is. Louie isn't the only one with the prospect of losing looming over his head, as Andy has contend with his sloppy bowling team and his really misguided decision. Earl may have been a lousy bowler and Jack may be skilled, but the man's head is so big, it's a wonder he can fit it in the bowling alley. Despite this, they've still got a lousy bowler in Jensen, so they might lose, and Andy is determined to break his record this year. Anyway, Louie begins to grow desperate and he turns to the last person in world one should ever go to for help: Glen Glenn. Gonna call out the big guns and cheat, eh, Lou? Well, Glen agrees to spread a rumor about Toddler in exchange for a month's desserts from Louie...make that two months, and Louie has to eat his lima beans. Surprisingly, Louie agrees to his deal. Why? He's not the one running for president. Make Grunewald do that stuff. But, oh yeah, it's Louie's show, not his. So Glen Glenn spreads word about Toddler skipping recess. Ha, two can play at this game, so Toddler next sell his soul to the "Devil" in exchange for eating sauerkraut for a month... and then, after Glen Glenn puts a Kick Me sign on Grunewald's back (ha, ha, I'd definitely go for that), he welches and tells another rumor about Toddler... like you thought you actually trust that creep? Yeah, I still wouldn't vote for either Toddler or Grunewald. Campaign and lies aside, they're both horrible people and don't know anything about politics... yep, very prophetic. So finally comes the big day. Who will win? The qualified candidate or the two loafers? If this were a real election for American president, Grunewald would win, but because school children are much smarter than us, they make the RIGHT choice: Melvin wins by a landslide. So the friends apologize for all being jerks to each other, and hopefully Louie and Toddler won't choke on all those lima beans and sauerkraut they have to eat. As for Andy, he finally wises up and realizes Jack was a bad call, so he benches him and brings in Earl. Guess what? You made another bad call, Andy, because they lose again. Win, lose or draw, everyone's got to eat crow at some point.
Well, aside from being very prophetic about American presidential elections, and right-on-the-money about how campaigns are usually fought, with lots of cheating, this episode wasn't one of the best. In fact, I'd call it one of the weakest. Mostly because of how mean-spirited it all is, with Andy being a jerk as usual, in fact, he was as big a jerk as we've seen him in quite a while, why did the writers decide to make Grunewald a contender for president when it should've been Louie. I mean, nobody likes Grunewald, he's a horrible kid. So is Toddler. If they wanted to be realistic, they should've had it be Louie vs. Glen Glenn, and Melvin being the third man who is clearly capable of the job and rightfully wins. But of course, if they did that, Louie would just chicken out and that jerk would threaten him off and on. So, yeah, this episode was a real gutterball. The only thing going for it is how surprisingly accurate it is about how campaigns usually always work. Many underhanded tactics and bribery are applied at every turn, and in the end, no matter who wins, we all lose. This one just wasn't interesting, it wasn't funny, it was just downright cruel.
A Whale of a Tale
Today's episode of Life With Louie reminds us of the Golden Rule, and it's NOT he who has the gold makes the rules. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Louie learns this lesson the hard way when he falls in with a trio of troublemakers who set out to target an innocent young girl, all while vacationing with his family at their favorite summer time resort, in beautiful Lake Winnibigoshish. It all began very early one morning as the Anderson family, in this case Andy, Ora, Louie and Tommy, were packing up the Rambler and ready to hit the road before the sun came up, and they were sure to make as much noise as possible in the process. Andy enjoyed cheesing off the neighbors whenever possible. It was going to be a very LONG 12-hour drive. As they pass a billboard some a place called Yummies, Louie, Tommy and Ora all feign having to go to the bathroom, making a very reluctant Andy pull off the freeway. This reminds me of an anecdote Louie Anderson told in one of his stand-up routines on how his dad never stopped so they could use the bathroom, and instead telling them to pee in a milk carton. Back on the road again, Ora delightfully tells Louie that a little old friend is going to be up at the lake: Kelly Bassett. Louie is anything but pleased, because she's an icky, geeky girl, and she has cooties. Anyway, when the Andersons finally arrive in Lake Winnibigoshish (Big Winnie), they discover that all the good cabins were booked and they had to settle for a smaller, dirtier, crappier one. As the family unpacks (i.e. Andy carries all the luggage inside by himself), Louie has a run-in with Kelly. He wants to avoid her like the plague, simply because she wears glasses and has braces and a bit on the awkward side. You're not exactly Normal Norman yourself, Lou. Well, bright and early the next morning, Andy coaxes Louie out of bed to help carry his fishing gear down to the docks. He's going to hit the lake to catch the infamous Husky Musky, biggest fish in the lake. He invites Louie to join him, but the groggy young man preferred going back to bed. Seeing Kelly, however, quickly makes him change his mind. Out on the lake, father and son bonding... more like son listening to father grumbling. I'll bet you're thinking Andy won't catch anything. Oh, he does: a teenie, tiny goldfish. Louie sees the Husky Musky twice, but of course, Captain War Wound doesn't believe him. Back at the docks, Mr. Bassett woos the vacationers with his robust catch of the day, while Andy draws quite a bit of ridicule with the microscopic minnow he reeled in.
After a long day on the water, Louie decides to go swimming, and he really makes waves in the pool. Literally. He draws the attention of the Lanza Triplets... I sure hope none of them are named Adam, and they're the coolest dudes at Lake Winnibigoshish. Three immature jackasses who brood, scowl and snicker all the day. It would take a mighty shallow, self-depreciating person lacking in self respect to want to socialize with those hooligans, so Louie jumps at the chance to hang with them. First up, they stand on a cliff and make dog noises at poor Kelly Bassett. Yeah, yeah, bassett hound. Real original, boys. But then, shockingly, Louie joins in and barks at poor Kelly. He wasn't proud of himself afterwards, and he shouldn't be, because this is among the very few cruel things Louie ever did on this show... in fact, I think this is the only time we see Louie being intentionally mean to someone...outside his family. He was a jerk to Tommy in Miracle in Cedar Knoll, but that's another story. Where was I? Louie tries to confide in his old man for some good advice, but he's too busy throwing a temper tantrum on not being able to land the Husky. Deciding to be proactive, Louie tries to swipe some of Mr. Bassett's miracle bait, when he's caught by Kelly. Despite his being a big jerk to her, she still acted kindly to him. I wish I could say butterball apologized for howling, but he chickens out. Before they part company, Kelly lets him in on the big secret: marshmallows and peanut butter. Ha. Well, this girl may be sweet, but she's got a sick sense of humor. She lied about the marshmallows and peanut butter. But, on the plus side, Louie was humbled enough to finally apologize, and the two go for a walk on the beach, despite the Lanza creeps howling at them. Louie didn't care, because he began to see the situation from Kelly's side, realizing that his dad was in a sense, like Kelly himself: treated as a figure of ridicule by the other fishermen. Speaking of Andy, does his bogus "miracle" bait bear fruit? No, but it catches one giant fish. It's the Husky! It devours half the boat, and almost Andy himself, but he manages to lure it away with one of Ora's pimento loaf sandwiches. By the time Andy and half his boat return to the shore, nobody believes him about the Musky attack. Nobody except Louie. But all was not lost, as ol' H.M. left a souvenir: a tooth. Put that under your pillow tonight, Andy, maybe the fish-tooth fairy will leave you a nightcrawler. Well, the evening goes out with a bang. Literally. The pyrotechnics display was on the blink, but Andy the munitions "expert" manages to put on quite a show. What better way to cap off an explosive vacation at Lake Winnibigoshish. How about this: despite the Lanza twerps howling and making fun of Louie and Kelly, the former plants a big kisseroo on that sweet girls' cheek. Go Louie! Then it's back home they go, but not before another unscheduled "bathroom" stop.
This is definitely one of the series' best episodes. It's my mother's favorite, and she's also a Louie Anderson fan. The messages ring very true, and they did a really good job on Kelly Bassett's character. She's based off a real person, by the way. In Louie's narration, it says that although he never saw her again, he did learn about her eventually becoming Miss Minnesota. Personally, I think they should've brought Kelly back to the series, maybe have her family move to Cedar Knoll and she could attend Louie's school. Sure, it would cause some jealousy with Jeannie, but having two cute girls at his side would make Louie quite the player. Everything about Lake Winnibigoshish is classic and endearing, even the very end when live action Louie tell the audience to go give their fathers a hug. Oh, and I wonder if anybody caught that little adult joke mid-way through: when the fisherman comment on the small fish Andy caught, one guy says, "you know what they say: small fish, small..." and is cut off by the outboard motor. Ha, ha. Yes, this series was just as much for adults as it was children. In closing, I definitely recommend taking a trip to Lake Winnibigoshish. One of the series' best and most solid episodes.