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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.
Man in the Flannel Mask
Ah, extracurricular activities, after-school programs existing for the sole purpose of keeping you longer after school. When Louie was pressured to join one of them, none quite seemed like a good fit. They included opera appreciation, geology club and even the male cheerleading squad, all of which were crashed and thoroughly ridiculed by Glen Glenn. However, to avoid being cast in a musical for the drama club, Louie lied about being in the chess club, and so he was personally escorted there by Principal Halloran, probably to ensure he actually went. Louie is then introduced to the only other 3 members in the club: all dorky, know-it-all kids with the exact same voice, and all named Melvin. So now he had a choice: either tough it out and learn to play chess, or jump out the window. After watching two of the Melvins play for a considerable amount of time, Louie makes an offhand suggestion on where to move the knight, and surprisingly, it results in a checkmate. As is typical for stories such as these, Louie discovers he's some sort of chess wizard and he fit right in and beat the Melvins at every game. They comment how he might even be a better player than... The Great One (gasp!) And they don't mean Jackie Gleason. They're talking about a masked chess player from long ago, and through slides and exposition, they tell Louie the legend of the Great One... oh, and three guesses who it is. Those glasses are a dead giveaway. Not sure if that was intentional or not, probably was, but yeah, he looks pretty darn familiar. Anyway, like your typical masked hero, he appeared out of nowhere, won every chess game across Wisconsin, and then one day, he just disappeared... or got drafted into the war, came home and had 11 kids. Nobody knows... but WE do. Anyway, when Louie goes home and asks Ora if they have a chessboard, he pretends the Melvins are imaginary friends, which she thinks is adorable as Louie had never been able to make imaginary friends before. I dunno, if it were a choice between imaginary ones and Grunewald, Toddler and Jeannie, I think I'd take the former. But when Andy finds out Louie is going for his old chessboard, he nears blows his top. Gee, he sure doesn't try to "mask" his feelings, does he? Doesn't try to "cover up" his emotions? He needs to keep his temper in "check."
Andy immediately tries to dissuade Louie from playing chess, in a similar way that parent tries to get their child to not do drugs. This is your brain, this is your brain on CHESS. Any questions? So, yeah, Andy puts down chess and chess players with such vitriol that you'd think a chess player killed his family. No, the real reason behind Andy's attitude (well, here, at least) is that he's got a deep, dark, secret that he never wanted to get out. See, when Andy was a lad, he played chess (No!) and he was ridiculed endlessly, as a child, a teenager, even during the war, his chess set made him a laughingstock among the Germans. Well, despite Andy's exaggeration, he was right about chess players being ridiculed, mostly if they were weak, neurotic kids who let stupid, wiener-head bullies steal their chess pieces and destroy them. Look at it this way, Melvins, in 20 years these guys will be snaking your toilets, so start filling up on chalupas and double-chili burritos now. So, how will Louie avoid being laughed at and ridiculed himself? Learn from his father... er, I mean, the Great One, and wear a mask. Louie in a mask generates the Clark Kent effect, as nobody can seem to tell it's Louie under there. He's ready to enter the Cedar Knoll Chess Tournament, which the Melvins went behind his back to sign him up for, wasn't that nice? When Andy hears about the appearance of a masked chess boy, he suddenly has to slip out, as this is a job for the Great One. Yeah, it seems not even Ora knows Andy's "true identity." Back at the tournament, his friends learn his identity by placing an animation cel of Louie over the Masked Chess Boy. Now that's a break-the-fourth-wall moment if ever I've seen one. What else could it be? It's an animation cel of Louie that exists inside this universe for some reason. Just then, the Great One bursts onto the scene. Hi, Andy! So, Masked Boy and Masked Man go head to head, all the while Glen Glenn shouts from the stands to "take it off!" The masks, you sickos. Luckily, some big kids who are chess fans drag him outside. Good, stick a few pawns and rooks where the sun don't shine. Louie removes his mask, and then, Andy removes his. The match is a tie, and Andy is finally honest with himself about his true feelings on chess. So all was well again, as Louie and his pals learned that it's okay to like stuff other people don't approve of, and to not care what other people think.
I think this episode presents a very relatable situation for Louie, and for Andy as well. Nobody likes to be ridiculed and made fun of for what they do, but as pointed out by Ora, those who pick on those who do something well are just jealous. Yep, green eyed monsters. They should be pitied, not feared. This was the first appearance by the 3 Melvins, and as you may have noticed, they're all voiced by the same man: Eddie Deezen, your go-to guy anytime a nerdy character needs a voice. This episode was also one of only two to be released on video, along with "For Pete's Sake." I wish they'd ALL get released to DVD or Netflix or even for purchase on Louie Anderson's web site. Hope he considers that some day. While this episode isn't great, it's still got a great message, and while I generally despise that Glen Glenn kid, he was pretty funny trolling those extracurricular classes at the beginning. I do recommend The Masked Chess Boy, because aside from how absurd it is that people can't tell it's Louie and Andy under those masks, it's still got it where it counts.
Who's Laughing Now?
Some jokes are funny, and some are not. It takes a real man to be able to identify which types of jokes are in good humor, and which are meant solely to put someone down. Will Louie be able to tell the difference between good natured and bad? We'll find out on tonight's episode of Life With Louie. Now, I'm sure you're all familiar with the nightmare of coming to school in nothing but your underwear, well imagine a similar scenario when you're awake, and your underwear is accidentally exposed to the entire class? Such is what Louie experienced in math class, thus creating the equation Louie - dignity=laughter. In desperate need of a pick-me-up, he goes to the grocery store. En route home, a big stretch limo pulls up beside him and out jumps a wise-cracking, fast-talking showman named Marty Kazoo, having come all the way from Vegas to perform in the little town of Cedar Knoll. Well, mostly he's there to reclaim an old flame... are you ready for this? Ora Sherman (Anderson), and he goes on about what a sexy thing she was, all to the boy who was her son, and when he clarifies his role as Ora's offspring, Kazoo gives him tickets to his show that night, requesting he bring his mother. However, it turns out Ora never heard of a Marty Kazoo, even though her actions speak louder than words. In this case, putting the groceries away in the wrong places. When Louie shows his parents the free tickets to Kazoo's show that night, and while Andy jumps at a free show, Ora passes, citing comedians to be cruel and heartless. So, how does Kazoo's show fair, and just what kind of a comedian is he? He's like Henny Youngman without the wife jokes. Seeing that man do his schtick gave Louie an insight on what he wanted to do with his life: insult people! Going to see Kazoo the following day, he asks him to teach him a thing or two about comedy. While at first reluctant, Kazoo gives him when Louie promises to invite him to dinner at his house...unfortunately, that never happened because Ora instituted a B.S. 'No Comedians Allowed' policy in the house. Ah well, what Kazoo doesn't know won't hurt him.
Lesson 1: look for peoples' faults and point them out for laughs. Kazoo demonstrates this practice to Louie in the park, going up to random people and insulting them. But when he insults the wrong angry bald guy, Kazoo whips out the two most important words in the English language: "just kidding." However, he gets quite a few laughs at Baldy's expense at his next show, with Louie sitting right on stage behind the curtain. So inspired was he by this crude, flamboyant man that he tries it out at school, making fun of Craig Eric's ridiculously loud shirt. That particular joke came with a very literal punchline, and unfortunately "just kidding" was not his Get Out of Jail Free card. As Louis admires his new shiner, Jeannie is right at his side to tell him he kinda deserved it. Say, whose friend are you anyway? But Louie won't let a little setback like this get him down. Kazoo sends him around the park on a time trial: how many people can he insult in under 30 seconds? Quite a few. Since he's passed the test, Kazoo tells him that he can put together 5 minutes of material, he'll bring him out on stage at the end of his next act. Louie couldn't believe it, it was like a dream come true! But what about his part of the deal, getting Kazoo to have one of Ora's home-cooked meals? Louie arranges a chance meeting between his mother and Kazoo at the grocery store, with a curious Andy spying on them. Rumors were going around that his wife used to date a comedian, and he was worried this old flame was going to be rekindled. Fortunately, true love prevailed as Ora stomped out that campfire and rebuffed Kazoo but good. It's true, they used to date, and Kazoo was a real smart-ass who told mean jokes about Ora to everyone at school, prompting a very well-deserved break up. Well, on to Louie's debut. Hopefully nothing will go wrong. Well, at the tail-end of Kazoo's act, moments before he would be introducing Louie Anderson to a comedy crowd, he started joking about how the people of Cedar Knoll are fat, and their kids especially are morbidly obese. Louie took great offense to his "jokes" and left the stage, heartbroken. Of course, the big jerk tells him not to take it personally and "that's the business." Louie tells him where to stick his business and goes home. In times of crises, you always find out who your real friends are, as they'll catch you when you fall. In this case, Louie had his very supportive family to pick him up and dust him off, with his mother relaxing her "No Comedians" rule and she and Andy encouraging him to have his big debut at home. He was advised to find his own voice, and if he needed material, just look around. I mean, he could do an entire routine on his father alone. So, Louie launches into his act, getting big laughs from his family. Oh, and I like this little scene at the end, where Kazoo's limo stops outside the Anderson house, and he listens to Louie's family laughing at his jokes, while he looks sad and depressed. We get a good insight into who Marty Kazoo REALLY is: a very lonely, unhappy man, in contrast to Louie who has friends and family who love him for who he is and stick by him no matter what.
Funny episode with a very good message about showing respect for your fellow man. Louie's routine at the end is gold, and as far as his comedy career, the rest is pretty much history. And let me tell you, that when it comes to comedians named Louie, I'll take Louie Anderson over Louis C.K. any day. That man is vulgar, sexist, racist, immature, and his idea of comedy is shocking people into laughing. On the flip side, Louie Anderson can make people laugh without being vulgar and insulting. He thinks up real jokes, as said above, he can do a whole routine on his family life alone, especially his father. As for C.K., he had a show on FX called Louie that got pulled when he was revealed to be a degenerate pervert. But, if you like listening to a pathetic, foul-mouthed hack turn the air blue and recite crude names for female body parts, then more power to you. For me, I'll stick to people who are actually funny. Speaking of whom, that's Sid Caesar doing the voice of Marty Kazoo, and the character is a decent caricature of him. So, if you've ever thought of being a comedian and then you came to your senses, I suggest Kazoo's Coming to Dinner. Incidentally, he never did get that dinner, did he? Sure, he's a jerk, but a deal is a deal. Perhaps Ora can bake him a great, big humble pie to choke down as he goes back to Sin City. Check this episode out, it's good for some laughs.
Miss Robertson, you're trying to seduce me.
When Mr. Lambert was out sick one morning, Louie's class had a substitute, and doggone if she wasn't the sexiest young educator whoever wielded a yard stick. Miss Robertson, a sweet-natured, beautiful British brunette, wearing a short-cut dress. Needless to say, Louie was smitten by her. So much so that he took to voluntarily waking up early, showering, greasing his hair and wearing his finest clothes to school. He looks like a young Donald Trump, doesn't he? Though, something tells me Life With Donald wouldn't make for such an endearing show, and wouldn't be educational, but I digest. Since Louie is the first one to class, Miss Robertson offers him a crumpet. He thinks she only has eyes for him, but then he realizes he's not the only suck-up in class, as Grunewald, Scott, Toddler, Glen Glenn and a whole line of boys brought her little tokens of their esteem. In today's class, Miss Robertson taught the children about William Shakespeare, someone they knew very little about and thought of as incredibly boring. While that was going on, Andy was continuing to work on the bomb shelter he started two episodes ago, and he's consigned his neighbors to help him, with the promise that they all get to use the shelter should the nuke ever drop. He tries to get Louie to help him, but his son was too invested into the works of Shakespeare, even going so far as to change his dialect. Now, something funny happens when Louie tells his parents the name of his teacher. The moment he mentions Mrs. Robertson, Ora suddenly looks up, as if shocked. It's never mentioned in the episode if she knew Miss Robertson or had any sort of feelings toward her, good or bad, so I'm wondering why the animators made her move that way. Maybe it was part of a subplot that got left on the cutting room floor or missed during a script rewrite? I don't know, it's just weird. Anyway, for his sensational knowledge of Shakespeare, the teacher crowns the boy King Louie Lear. Hmm, Louie Anderson as King Lear. Might be worth a look.
Overzealous Andy decided to have a bomb drill at 2:00 in the morning, waking everybody out of a sound sleep and ushering them into the bomb shelter pit, neighbors included. Instantly, they all start complaining about lack of room for their own families. Louie manages to inspire everybody with some Shakespearean words, and Andy suggests a system, wherein they share the shelter in alphabetical order on certain days of the week. Yeah, that's a noble gesture, Andy, but let's say the bomb drops while families A-M are appointed the shelter. Families N-Z are screwed. But then, his family will be in the shelter, so I guess he doesn't care. When the sun was finally out, and Andy was digging the shelter on his own, he began to grow very irritated with Louie's Shakespeare talk, especially since he doesn't understand it, and he's putting him before his own father. Being the dubious schmuck that he is, Andy goes down to the school to complain to Principal Halloran about the new teacher and wants her to be fired. When Miss Robertson joins the meeting, Andy starts in on her by accusing the young lady of teaching his son to mutiny. I think after spending so much time digging that ditch, the sun had fried Andy's brain. The teacher tells him she's an army brat herself, and points out several Shakespeare stories about battle. Well, hearing that he wrote stories about war, she now has Andy's undivided attention. So they all have some tea, and Andy has now completely changed his mind about Miss Robertson and requests she stay on full time, but unfortunately, there are no full time positions available. He suggests she replace Halloran, and I'm for that. At least Miss Robertson doesn't feel the need to write a book about every, single, solitary situation that could come up in one's life. However, Andy presents another solution: getting her a job at the military academy, so it looks like things will work out for her after all. Not so much for Louie, as everyone gets mad at him about his father getting Miss Robertson fired. Glen Glenn overheard the beginning of the conversation in the principal's office. When Louie got home, he berated his dad for ruining his life, but Ora calmly explained that Andy did a good deed, and she understood her son having a crush on the teacher. In time, it would all work out, and he benefited a great deal from her guidance. So in the end, it did work out. Miss Robertson came to visit Louie before starting her new job, and to thank Andy for getting her said job. And as for that bomb shelter in the backyard, Andy broke down and turned it into a pool. A temporary one, of course, because we never see it again after this episode.
I'm sure many of us can relate to Louie, having a crush on a teacher at some point in our lives. Do I think Andy was unreasonable for going down to the school and complaining about Miss Robertson? Personally, I think he overstepped his bounds and behaving irrationally. He thought his son helping him dig that stupid bomb shelter was more important than his education. If he hadn't found it Shakespeare wrote about war, poor Miss Robertson would've been thrown out in the street. Andy mentioned in a couple episodes that he has a metal plate in his head, which would really explain a lot. He started digging this bomb shelter in Military Reunion, as stated above. Yep, even after being honest with himself about what REALLY happened during the war, he's still got his head up his keister about it. Well, besides Andy's issues, this episode was nice. I would probably recommend it, as both Louie and Andy can be very relatable in their respective situations. So check out The Undergraduate.
After hearing Louie tell a fantastical story to his friends on the playground, Miss Kinney the drama teacher managed to talk him into auditioning for her version of Sleeping Beauty. Deciding, "eh, whatever," Louie attends the prince auditions. At the end, there were only 4 finalists: both Melvins, Glen Glenn, and Louie. Pick your poison. So she chose the best of worst and so Louie is now the prince. I bet you can guess who's going to play the princess. It's Jeannie, of course. This is probably why Glen Glenn wanted to play the prince, so he would have a chance to kiss her. Anyway, when Louie tells Ora the news, she's so thrilled she calls Andy at work, but the noise of the tractor factory totally makes him misinterpret the news. Then he complains to his co-workers, Earl and Gus, that the problem with the plant is management, and he boasts he could do his boss's job better... something we pretty much all feel. But suppose your boss asks you to put your money where your mouth is? That's what happened the following day, as Mr. Applegate called Andy into his office and told him he'll be in charge of the plant while Applegate takes a vacation to Hawaii. At first, Andy is thrilled to be in his boss's chair, but by the end of the day, he's exhausted and doesn't mince words telling his family when he gets home. Still, he (begrudgingly) helps Louie rehearse for the play. However, deciding he needed to brush up on his kissing, Louie decided to practice on the TV (during a romantic late night movie), his teddy bear, and even spy on his sister Laura and her date. As expected, Andy caught them, teaching Louie another important lesson in romantic moments: timing. So, Louie pressed on, really having his work cut out for him. Not to mention, Glen Glenn was appointed his understudy, and he's determined to put the smooch on Jeannie, so he keeps picking on Louie. Geez, Louie, just punch him already, or if he wants to kiss something, tell him to bend over and kiss your... er, sorry, got carried away. Where was I? Oh, he wimps out when it's time to practice kissing Jeannie. Man, I wish this kid had a backbone. Probably traded it for a dozen donuts.
After yet another failed rehearsal, Jeannie starts to blame herself for Louie's lack of desire to kiss her. In fact, butterball wants to outright quit the play. Oh, that's nice, you gonna let your enemy have your girlfriend? Anderson, you're killin' me. Fortunately, Jeannie managed to set him straight, so he'll stay. For her. I dunno, while I really dislike that Glenn kid, at least he seems to WANT to be in the play. Anyway, what happened next was fate playing a very cruel joke, as when Louie got a nutty bar from the school vending machine, he broke a tooth and had to be numbed with novocaine, so how he's a drooling, babbling mess. The dentist said the effects would wear off in a few hours, but probably not in time for the play. Speaking of which, do you think Andy the Boss will make it? Luckily, old man Applegate returns from the islands and Andy happily leaves the rest of the mountain of paperwork on his desk for him. Well, on to the theater. Unfortunately, he forgot to use the restroom, so by the time he gets to his seat, Andy's back teeth are floating like pickup trucks in a tsunami. Miss Kinney's production of Sleeping Beauty opened with Melvin as the witch, poisoning an apple that will make Sleeping Beauty sleep forever... er, poison apples are from Snow White. Sleeping Beauty was cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel. Miss Kinney has her fairy tales mixed up. So, after Jeannie eats the apple and falls asleep, Prince Louie rides atop his noble steed and babbles about seeing his duty clear to try and awaken the fair maiden. All the while poor Andy is crossing his legs and holding the floodgates closed as hard as he can. Man, I know what that feels like, and it's torture. When you REALLY have to pee, but you have to hold it in. Back on stage, Louie's incoherency makes Miss Kinney call in the understudy: Glen Glenn. This forces them to cut the intermission short, so poor Andy will have to hop around on one foot a little longer. The waterfall on stage didn't help him either. Fortunately, Louie's voice returned to normal just in time for his big scene. Without hesitation, Louie took hold of Jeannie and kissed her smack dab on the lips. Hooray, way to go, Lou! Jeannie even returned the favor at curtain time. Anderson's a player. So, at long last, Andy could go to the latrine... but there's a line. This is torture, alright. But, sooner or later, he got to drain the ol' lizard. It was truly a happy ending for all.
Ah, Louie's first kiss. Well, technically, he kissed Kelly Bassett in Lake Winnibigoshish, Jeannie kissed him on the cheek in A Fish Called Pepper, though this is the very first time the two of them touched lips. I think most of us can relate to Louie in getting stage fright, both in doing a play and kissing a girl we like. We can probably also relate to Andy, thinking we can do our bosses' jobs better than they can, only to realize it's much harder than it looks. First and only appearance of Andy's boss, Mr. Applegate, played by Ed Asner. As stated above, Miss Kinney did get her fairy tales mixed up, because a poison apple is what put Snow White to sleep. I guess they could've done a play on Snow White, but they didn't have characters to play the dwarfs. So in closing, I recommend The Kiss is the Thing. It's very touching, heartwarming, and extremely effective in making you recall times when you've had to use the bathroom, but something always stopped you.
Life with Louie: Do It or Donut (1998)
Fat Men Can't Jump
You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Louie Anderson is one of the greatest basketball stars whoever lived. It all started back when he was 8-years-old, out on the blacktop with his friends, shooting hoops and talking about Nightsniffer. You know, that dog detective/lawyer/whatever all the kids like. Just on and on and on about how he's the greatest this and that... sheesh, why don't you just marry Nightsniffer? All the while, Louie continually made one basket after another without missing. His special knack continued on the courts where he actually lead his team to victory, thus he was no longer chosen last. The coach saw real potential in him and wanted to use him on his intramural squad. Now, despite being apparently very good at shooting hoops, Louie didn't think much of his talent and turned down Coach Rockwell's offer to stay at school an extra few hours and practice in favor of going home and sitting on his ass. But when his friends encouraged him, he decided to go for it. At the first game, Coach divides the two teams into shirts and skins, but Louie convinced Rockwell to let him switch teams, so we don't have to see his man-boobs. So while Louie tears it up on the B-ball court, Andy goes to the doctor for his usual checkup. The doc diagnoses him with being out of shape. That's an understatement, as Andy has always been a weird shape: pointed head on a big, round torso atop two spindly legs. In short, the doctor says he's too fat and needs to go on a diet regiment and get more exercise. Surprisingly, he takes the doctor's advice and decides to go buy a weight set, but when the price outweighed his wallet, he decided to improvise and construct his own makeshift weight room in the garage, constructing his own barbell with Grandma Helga's fruitcakes.
Louie's biggest problem in all this was his confidence, which as you may recall, he has very little, and his flabby underbelly being exposed to the world really doesn't help his image of himself and his self-respect. So after choking down their dinner of vegetables and fruits, Andy introduces Louie to his latest invention: the Anderson Lift and Crunch, everything for the man who wants to exercise, but is too lazy to do so. It includes a swinging refrigerator door so they can build up their arms opening and closing it. However, deciding to go the easy route, as usual, and try to cop out, Louie decided he was going to start shooting hoops badly. He threw game after game, with everybody wondering if he were jinxed. His friends knew what was up: Louie was far too self-conscious about his body, and so Grunewald, Jeannie and Toddler take to bodyshaming each other to cheer him up. It sorta works, I guess. As for Andy's exercise machine, he sold it to a door-to-door salesman for $25. Yeah, I can't see that coming back to bite him in the keister later on. Finally, it's time for the game. Since Louie's parents are in attendance, he asks his friend Teako if his are coming, and if you recall, Teako was the orphan boy whom Louie befriended in "Family Portrait." For some reason, they aired these episodes out of order, so at this point, Louie hadn't found out the truth, so Teako lies and says they couldn't make it. Well, maybe at this point he got adopted and his new parents... no, they just screwed up. It was quite a game, with Louie leading his team to victory, and Andy's constant nagging and attempts at coach weren't helping, so now it was the final round, just ten seconds left in the game, and the visiting team was ahead by 1 point. Instead of trying to make the shot himself, Louie passes the ball to Teako, who slam dunks it. Cedar Knoll wins, 55 to 54! Hooray! Andy tries to take credit for the win, saying he practically taught Louie all he knows, and then he invites everybody out for some donuts, everything's on Coach Rockwell. After that, Louie took all the life lessons he learned from his whole experience to heart, learned to accept himself as he was, and he agreed never to play basketball again. Andy gets a swift lesson in the school of hard knocks himself when he sees that salesman selling HIS exercise machine for $200. Cue muted trumpets.
Good episode with some good life lessons on self-esteem, your own self image, and how the choice to either improve yourself or let yourself go rests entirely on your own shoulders. I think most of us can relate to Louie's situation, especially those of us who are a bit on the flabby side. Well, if he thought wearing a jersey was bad, imagine how he must have felt having to shower with the other boys. They didn't show that, because it's a family show, but that's whole other avenue of self-consciousness right there. This episode is another good example of how much Andy's character has lightened up and is a bit on the goofy side now. Sure, he's always had a superiority complex and was wholly unaware of his own limitations and doesn't think things through, but he's not as grouchy as he used to be. His subplot is like something Homer Simpson would've done. I'm not saying Andy is stupid, but he's the textbook definition of vain. So anyway, I definitely recommend Do It or Donut, perfect for the chubby kid in all of us.
Life with Louie: Military Reunion (1997)
The Legend of Corporal Keister
As you may have heard, watching this series for three years, Louie's dad was a war veteran. Yeah, I'm just as shocked as you are. He's so subtle about it. But in all seriousness, Andy Anderson's whole life was WWII, telling the most outrageous stories of his days with the Fighting Fifth, and how the war couldn't have been fought, let alone won without him. Pretty fantastic stories he tells, but I'm sure they're all true... right? Well, Andy's war stories were going to be put to the test and determine once and for all if he REALLY did everything he claimed, or if he's just full of hot air. It all began when Louie's school would be honoring the fifteenth reunion of the Fighting Fifth Regiment, which meant war themed activities all week, and best of all, each student would have to give an oral report on what their parents did during the war. Man, talk about the easiest A Louie would ever earn. When Andy heard Louie's request to tell him about the war, tears of joy ran down his cheeks. It was a request he'd been waiting to hear for 8 years. And for 13 hours straight, as Louie struggled to write as fast as he could, Andy wove a tapestry of the most fantastical war stories you ever heard: everything from learning German on the fly (literally) to open a stuck hatch to drawing a herd of cows to distract the enemy, for which he won a golden calf award. Louie's got in the bag, right? No way he can fail. Well, something unusual happened that night: when Louie mentioned the reunion, Andy suddenly got tired and went upstairs without another word. Funny, shouldn't a decorated war vet like him be excited to see his old comrades in arms again? Andy was acting strange, but no more than usual.
The next day, Louie gave his big presentation on his dad's war record to the class, and the moment he was done, the two Melvins pointed out several holes in the stories, such as Andy somehow managing to be on three different continents in one day within only a few hours of each other, and that he somehow fought in the Spanish American War before he was even born. Louie is sent to check the veracity of his old man's braggings, and finds him in the backyard, digging a bomb shelter. He says it was all true and that his teacher didn't believe him because he was jealous, and when Louie asks his mom, Ora simply says that Andy is not a liar, but an artist. Telling stories to build a certain atmosphere. Deciding to get answers from some outside sources, Louie goes to talk to the Fighting Fifth veterans, who are docked on a boat called The Cedar Knoll (despite the name 'Orca' written on the stern. Well, don't wreck it, because Quint is going to need it back to go hunt a giant shark soon), and none of them seem to have ever heard of Corporal Andy Anderson. He's not even in the group photo at the VFW. Something's rotten in the state of Wisconsin. Asking his dad about the reunion and him constantly dodging questions only seemed to further prove to Louie that he had been lying, and so, he carried his box of his father's "war junk" out to trash. So while Andy spends the morning in his bomb shelter reading the paper, Louie and his friends attend the reunion, and as he watches the men reenact a certain battle in a pasture, it seemed very familiar to him. The story was apparently true, but Andy wasn't the protagonist. Suddenly, the "Cedar Knoll" in the water suffered an explosion, due to the poor storage of combustables onboard, and some brave soul in a cow costume rows out into the lake to save the men trapped on the vessel. Pulling off the mask reveals... Andy! Fortunately, he manages to save all the veterans before the ship exploded, and then, at long last, the truth comes out: his fellow veterans refer to him as Corporal Keister, and he got that name because he was the platoon cook, who accidentally burnt his keister on the stove and his screams alerted the troops, just as an enemy invasion was imminent. If you recall from the Washington episode, Dwight D. Eisenhower recalls this very incident, but I guess Ike was too busy to attend this reunion. So, it was all brought out into the light: Andy was in the war, but he didn't see much action, so he inserted himself into the war stories to build himself up as a hero to his family and friends, as he was ashamed of the nickname Keister. Oh, and he wasn't in the photo, because he was the one taking it. After hearing all this, Louie was proud to call himself Louie Keister. Then came time to dedicate the statue of the Fighting Fifth, and sure enough, there was Andy... caught with his pants down. Literally. Don't look, kids. After that, Louie erected a new box of "war junk" dedicated to his old man: a picture of him as a cow, some foot powder, and ointment.
A very good episode, and a humbling one at that. It was something of a closure to Andy's war stories, as if they knew this would be the last season, so they decided to bring some light on Andy's days in the military and show the truth: despite being a regular Superman in The Big War, he was a cook, but he did end up saving everybody. Also, am I the only one who noticed all the veterans at the reunion were elderly, when they should've been middle aged like Andy? This episode is set in 1960 (fifteen years after WWII ended), so the men shouldn't be as old as depicted. Also, I think the animators were fans of Jaws, naming that boat Orca. So if you wanna see what Andy REALLY did in the war, I recommend this episode. It's one reunion you'll be glad you attended. He may be long-winded and a bit of an exaggerator, but when all was said and done, Andy truly shines as a hero... in the end.
Life with Louie: Blinded by Love (1998)
Barking up the Wrong Tree
Louie wants a dog, and he's willing to go to outrageous lengths to get one, but every single attempt always proved futile, even when playing burglar, breaking into his own house with Tommy playing a guard dog. His parents refuse him every time. All seemed lost, until Louie heard about the guide dog program. It started when he was at the donut shop, getting his usual half dozen, when in came an elderly blind man, Vic, who kept bumping into things and even whacking Louie with his cane. Mr. Stevenson suggested he get a dog, but Vic was too stubborn to consider the idea. But for Louie, it was perfect: guide dogs start out as puppies (well, they ALL do, duh), but the puppies are given to kids to raise, then they enter the training classes to be guides. He presents the idea to his parents, and while Ora immediately loved the idea, Andy of course was skeptical, until Louie pointed out that a majority of the people who use guide dogs are war veterans, and then he's all for it. Hooray! They go to pick up the newest member of the Anderson family: Scout, and his whole trunk full of accessories: food, bed, leash, etc., Fortunately, this is a puppy that came with an instruction book, and a very strict one at that. The dog wasn't allowed to sleep in Louie's bed, so he slept with it in the dog's bed. He even gets to take Scout to school, where he becomes a hit in the classroom. While all this was going on, Andy was having a little adventure of his own, which started when he was cited for parking in a handicap spot, or rather, the Rambler's front tire was sitting an inch inside the handicap spot. While that could easily be resolved in court, Andy decided to take it a step further and petition for war veterans to be able to use handicapped parking spots, mainly because they're war veterans. Entitled, much? He even stands on a street corner in his war uniform to try and get signatures. Needless to say, it doesn't quite work out as he'd hoped.
One afternoon, while Louie and Scout where in the grocery store, they witness old Vic trip over a display stand, and even after they come to help him, he rebuffs them and walks away. Something tells me he'll change his mind by the end of the episode. I dunno, I got a good feeling about this one. Well, as Scout grew and grew, Louie knew it would be only a matter of time before he'd have to give him up, however he discovers a loophole in the book: if the dog is not able to perform its guide dog duties, the puppy raiser gets to keep him. But, despite Louie's best efforts, Scout is a fully disciplined guide dog. He didn't want to accept the harsh truth, but his parents told him it had to be this way. Determined to keep him anyway, Louie takes HIS dog and goes downtown, and just as Andy found him, Scout suddenly snapped into action and saved old Vic from crossing at a busy intersection. In the process of helping the old man to his feet, Andy dropped his brief case and accidentally forgot a certain envelope as he packed up and headed to court, where he stood before the judge and pleaded his case about how war veterans should be afforded the same treatment and the same privileges as handicapped people. After he and the judge reenact A Few Good Men, Andy goes to show him photos of reserved parking spaces, but they were in that envelope he dropped. Fortunately, Louie and Scout bring it to the courtroom just in time, but seeing that guide dog suddenly opens Andy's eyes. He decided to dismiss his case, as he realized there are people who need reserved parking spaces more. Then, came the sad day when Louie and Scout had to part ways. Eventually, the dog passed his courses and was going to graduate. And who should be there, but Scout's new owner, Vic (See, I told you). He's had a complete change of heart, and Louie was proud of himself for making a big difference in someone else's life.
I don't know, do you think Louie's parents were unreasonable about not letting him have a dog? Sure, he can be a tad irresponsible and a bit on the lazy side, and his parents know him. It's something many parents wrestle with, whether or not their child can properly take care of a dog, because more often than not, the responsibility falls on Mom and Dad's shoulders. Do I think they were unreasonable? Actually, I do. Just a little. Perhaps having Scout will make Andy and Ora change their minds about having a dog in the house. Probably not. As far as Andy and the parking spaces, his wanting to park there simply because he's a veteran was indeed unreasonable, but he did have a right to fight his ticket as he was only on the reserved spot by a few inches. Trivial stuff. So anyway, if you like dogs, you wanna get an insight on how the guide dogs program works, then I do recommend Life With Louie: Blinded by Love. Also, this was Norman Fell's final acting performance before he died. RIP, you gave'em hell, Fell.
Love Thy Neighbor
Louie Anderson brings us a special Christmas surprise this year, as he tells us through the miracle of animation, about one special Christmas back when he was a young boy. Growing up in Cedar Knoll, Wisconsin, Louie lived with his grouchy, war veteran father Andy, his sweet-natured, sensible mother, Ora, and obnoxious little brother Tommy. Oh, and he's got 9 other siblings, but they're not germane to the plot. On this particular day, Louie heard the wonderful news about school being canceled, and he went out to play in the snow with his friends, and what an oddball bunch these guys are: slacker Mike Grunewald, dimwitted Toddler, and kind-hearted tomboy Jeannie Harper. Unfortunately, their game of throwing snowballs was cut short when Louie caught one in the ear. Now that hurts like a son of a gun, allowing you to even swear and get away with it, so he shouts "darn it!" all over the house. Hey, watch your language, Louie, this is a family show. That evening, the Andersons go out to buy their Christmas tree, with Andy grumbling the whole way. When they find a tree they like and learn it's $35, Andy unsuccessfully tries to haggle for $3. So once they set it up, it immediately lops to one side, so Andy says to just stick it by the TV. "For thirty five bucks, that tree should dance!" So now with the tree decorated, it was finally time for Andy to string lights around the house. He does a really half-assed job of it and comes inside to watch TV, all while Ora looks out the window at their elderly widow neighbor, Mrs. Stillman, and assumes she can't afford gifts or decorations, and knows how lonely she is, and that's when it hit her: she conscripts Andy to take their extra decorations and put them up on Stillman's house while Ora takes her shopping. Naturally, Andy is very opposed to the idea, but it would seem he has no choice in the matter, so he begrudgingly gets to work, taking Louie with him.
As Andy sets to work, he's spotted by two local cops who assume he's a burglar. He tries to explain he's putting up some Christmas lights for his neighbor, except the terrible job he did on his own house only further convinces the police he's a crook and they arrest him, but thankfully he's off the hook when Louie backs up his story. Well, back to work. As soon as Andy set foot on the roof, who should come walking up the front walk but Grunewald, Jeannie and Toddler, ready to sing carols. This startles Andy so much he almost falls off the roof, and as he's hanging onto the gutters, the kids mistake him for a burglar and chuck snowballs at him. Once again, Louie has to come to his father's rescue and explain the situation. When they hear it's for Mrs. Stillman, they all agree to pitch in and help. At last, it's all set up: lights all over the house, train in the front yard, a Merry Christmas sign on the roof. All Andy had to do was plug it in (drumroll please). Well, as you probably expected, the lights don't come on. You know what that means? Checking every single bulb, one by one. Suddenly, Grunewald notices a familiar dark green Rambler rounding the corner. But luckily, the piece of junk stalls out a few blocks down, which gives them a little more time. Luckily, Andy finds the root of their problem: they had missed one plug. Not a moment too soon, for as soon as his crappy car finally restarted and headed for the house, Andy plugged in the lights, received a massive electrical shock, and then everything came to life! Beautiful! Needless to say, Mrs. Stillman was very happy with this wonderful surprise. It's later revealed that the real reason she didn't put up Christmas decorations was that she's Jewish. Then, to cap off our little Christmas story, we get to see Louie and Tommy open their presents Christmas morning with Andy telling them how much money they set him back, and then they present him with his gift: the tools he'd lost weeks ago.
Well, what can I say? Life With Louie: A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman is fantastic! One of the best Christmas cartoons of the 1990s. From start to finish, it's downright hilarious, for both kids and adults, though I think adults will like it even more, mostly for the novelty of seeing (and hearing) Louie Anderson as a child, and that Andy represents the father pretty much everybody had. Many scenes in this special are based off real events from Louie's life, and while the characters do represent real people too, I wish I could say Louie's dad was the lovable loudmouth we see here. In reality, he was a drunken wife-beater. No way they could portray someone like that on a children's show, or make him remotely likable. But I think most people will agree Andy Anderson is their favorite character, because he's very relatable. Not much else I can say, this was one fantastic Christmas special that even gave a few nods to A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. They're subtle, but you can spot them easily enough. I definitely recommend this one. Well made from start to finish and leaves you wanting more.
One Mother of a Mother
I think I should warn some people that this particular episode of Life With Louie is surprisingly mean-spirited. Very unusual for an otherwise light-hearted, upbeat, children's show, but this episode deals with an abusive parent and the effects of abuse on her child is very apparent. It only seems appropriate to bring such a harsh reality to life, but I don't think the makers of this program did it in a very effective way, or at least a way that's taken seriously. So anyway, as you all know, that school bully Glen Glenn is a bad seed who makes everyone's lives-especially Louie's-miserable, but did you ever wonder why he's such a little hellraiser? We saw in the ski episode that his father encourages bullying, but there's another member of the Glenn family we haven't been introduced to yet, and I think we were all better off. Glen's overzealous, outrageous and super outspoken mother. You remember the mom on Malcolm in the Middle? This is pretty much a prototype to her. Jen Glenn: the loudest, meanest woman in town. I swear, just listen to that voice! She sounds like a duck that's being strangled after smoking 40 packs a day. The town of Cedar Knoll had to suffer with this awful woman, but we the audience are lucky, because we can mute the TV. This woman is so paranoid, she listens in on party lines for any gossip about her, and while it is rude to gossip, how can you NOT talk about this woman? I'd say she belongs in a mental hospital, but not even a lobotomy could fix this. I'm serious, the town even holds meetings to try and put a noise ordinance on her voice, but she crashes that and screams about her right to free speech. Okay, Jen, you can have your First Amendment right, but how about the other residents of town exercising their Second? Well, one fateful day, a miracle occurred: Jen Glenn lost her voice. A long overdue attack of laryngitis sends her to the hospital. Ora insists they visit her because it's the right thing to do and, "wouldn't you want Jen Glenn to visit you in the hospital if you were sick?" There are NO words. The doc says Jen's got a very rare form of laryngitis that can only be cured by one doctor, and he lives in Paris.
With that nasty tyrant out of commission, Cedar Knoll became a much happier place. Yep, everyone was right neighborly with each other again. It was like paradise... for a few minutes, then everyone got bored. In fact, the town got voted one of the 8 boringest towns in the country, or rather, it was all 8. Well, as if Louie didn't have enough problems, guess who's coming to dinner? Yep, Ora invited Glen Glenn over to dine with them. At first he's his usual obnoxious self, but one mention of his mother turns him into a bawling mess. After that, he latches on to Louie and becomes his new best friend. Yeah, it's really creepy, he follows him everywhere, even to his house, and is even waiting for him in the morning. There's a difference between a BFF and a stalker. This kid has some serious problems, in fact, so does the entire town, as everyone has been a zombie since Hurricane Jen went mute. So, at the next town meeting, Ora proposes they have a block party to raise money for Jen Glenn's operation, and Louie is in favor of it? REALLY? He'd rather have a bully than a weird friend? So Ora, being the optimistic idiot that she is, began listing a bunch of B.S. reasons why Jen Glenn is the best thing to ever happen to the town. Even henpecked Andy gets in front of the crowd and rallies in support of ol' J.G. Hey, you know that 8 boring towns list Cedar Knoll topped? Well, I'll bet it would also top the list of Most Retarded Towns too. So they have their block party, yadda, yadda, yadda, a tape recording of Jen's voice makes Glen Glenn tick, blah, blah, blah, the horrid woman gets her operation, she's back screaming up a storm in no time, and ol' Louie gets his old bully back. I'll bet as he's dangling by his underwear in that tree, he's having serious regrets, all while listening to Jen scream at her son about hanging fat kids in trees. Oh, SHUT UP!! Shut up, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!!
Man, this was BAD. I didn't think there were any bad Life With Louie episodes, but this one is definitely worthy of that title. What kind of message were they trying to convey? That negative actions towards other people can spread like wildfire? That definitely worked, because this one made ME angry. When I was binge watching Life With Louie episodes, I initially skipped this one, it's so bad. Even as a kid when I first saw it, I didn't like it. It's so MEAN and so GRATING. That's Hamilton Camp voicing Jen Glenn, and as stated, he sounded like a duck choking to death after smoking 400 times its weight in Marlboros. The writing was stupid too. It was as if they knew what the intended ending for such a story would be: Jen recovers, decides not to yell so much and be nicer to everyone, and they live happily ever after, and decided to turn 180 degrees and give us an ending we were NOT expecting. Well, going against audience expectations doesn't always work (Last Jedi), and it didn't work here either. Was it nice seeing Louie and Glen Glenn finally getting along? Not really, I think he would've probably gone Brokeback Mountain on him eventually. So, yeah, this episode is terrible. Do yourself a favor and skip it. There are 37 much better episodes of Life With Louie to watch, not this garbage. I mean, I hate this episode. I hate it. I hated having to watch it, I hated having to listen to that horrible voice-I'd rather listen to Jar Jar Binks recite the National Anthem-I hated how stupid every, single character acted, I hated everything about this mean-spirited episode that clearly shows an abusive parent and an abusive spouse who is allowed to get away with her actions! It's horrible!
The Anderson Files
It's funny how one little childish prank can quickly balloon into a nationwide event. Happens more often than you think. Take the one time Louie and Grunewald used their science project to fool Cedar Knoll into believing in the existence of aliens. It all began when the boys were being smart-asses in class, which lead to Mr. Lambert pairing them together to come up with a decent project. Well, I'd say it's probably pretty lucky that happened or Louie would've just been stuck with Glen Glenn, as usual. Anyway, Grunewald gets an idea from seeing another boy's comic book about space aliens, and that's when it hit him: they would construct their own flying saucer. They find plenty of spare parts in Andy's garage, yet when they come across his old telescope, he tells them a long-winded story about how that telescope saved his whole platoon from invading forces by being used as a makeshift baseball bat. So, does Andy believe in aliens and alien sightings? No, he balks at the news stories and say those people are just bozos looking for fame and attention. Ha, oh, the irony. So after dinner, Louie and Grunewald finish their UFO, constructed from an umbrella stand, Christmas lights, and for propulsion: balloons stolen from Tommy. Does it fly? Indeed it does, and for good measure Grunewald attached a walkie talkie to the craft so it would sound like the aliens are announcing their invasion. I dunno, the whole things looks like flimsy, doesn't it? I mean, what kind of peabrain would fall for such an implausible, far-fetched concept? Andy, of course. He falls for it hook, line and sinker, and for some reason doesn't recognize Grunewald's voice. Speaking of whom, the little wiener-head couldn't leave well enough alone and named Andy the ambassador of earth and told him they would return within a week. Fortunately, Andy managed to snap a photograph of the UFO so people won't think he's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
When Andy shows the photo to the guys at work, they also believe it, as does everyone else in town. It's all over the papers, and Andy becomes a local celebrity, bragging about how he singlehandedly stopped an invasion and straightened out the little green men. Plus, they're making a killing with Ora selling Anderson Aliens T-shirts. Ha, you don't see any 'Andy's A Dope' T-shirts... probably cause those sold out in minutes. Nah, I'm only kidding, that's a Simpsons reference. Andy has proof and people actually believe him. The whole town has alien fever. So while Andy constructs a landing pad in his backyard and invites everyone in Cedar Knoll to witness the phenomenon, Louie and Grunewald repair their UFO, with Louie having a big guilty conscience about inevitably making a fool out of his father. He confides in his mother, who tells him life is like a box of cookies... or rather, making cookies. Say you're making a batch of chocolate chip, and then Brussells sprouts got added into the mix. It might turn out chocolate chip Brussells sprout cookies might actually taste good... though I highly doubt it. But do you tell people what they're actually eating? Well, anyway, the point is honesty. So Louie attempts to tell Andy about the alien faux pas, but he won't listen. So, that night, or rather that day-for-night, all of Cedar Knoll and even the news media were camped out in the Anderson yard to await the arrival of those men from space. Andy was sucking up all the adoration, feeling this evening was more about him than their impending visitors. When Louie and Grunewald finally fix their UFO, including some attached electric fans with a 30 foot extension cord, they launch it into the air, and voice their greetings. When Andy inquires where the rest of the fleet was, and Grunewald can't come up with a good lie, Louie takes over, telling him they stopped for donuts and took a wrong turn at Jupiter. Unfortunately, their craft gets away from them-again-and it goes flying out of control, crashing into the tool shed, exposing Louie and Grunewald. The jig is up. Andy is exposed as a fraud, the mayor takes back the key to the city, Principal Halloran tells him to read her book on alien sight-- ah, go stick your books where the sun don't shine. So the kids are rightfully punished-hopefully Grunewald got the belt-but they both receive an F from their teacher, so all they have to present before the class is a big, healthy dose of humility. As Andy disassembles his landing pad, Louie came out to make a heartfelt apology to his old man, presenting him with beloved telescope, now good as new. Andy forgives him, telling to use a battery pack next time.
Very good episode, as it's amusing and has a good message about how one little thing can blossom into a huge disaster. It also shows how much Andy's character has changed. In the early episodes, he was crankier and more abrasive, so he might not have fallen for this alien facade, but now he's a bit more jolly and wacky, so it fits more with his character here than in Season 1. The lessons Louie, and hopefully Grunewald, learned in this episode are very true: when you make a fool out of somebody, you're only hurting yourself. So if you ever build a tiny UFO for your science project and your father thinks it's real, tell him the truth. Close Encounters of the Louie Kind is an out of this world romp that you will definitely enjoy. Also, I wonder why they did that day-for-night effect for the night scene? It was irritating and difficult to see what was going on, they just put a dark filter over the camera. Were they trying to do a throw-back to old B-movies that always used day-for-night? I guess so, but there's a time and place for tricks like that, and this wasn't it.
Life with Louie: Buzz Stop (1996)
Mind Your Own Beeswax
So, what interesting topic has Louie chosen for his science project this year? When all the good topics are taken, and he's down to either dung beetles or bees, Louie reluctantly chooses the latter. At first, finding bees was a big problem, but eventually he was able to nab two before Andy could spray them. Hiding out in the front yard, dressed in camoflage, just waiting for enemy yellowjackets to invade his turf, that's essentially how Andy spends his free time, and he thinks bees are nothing that special. But then, something happened that really rocked his world: the Jensens returned home from their vacation, driving a shiny, giant, brand new RV. They invite the Andersons over to watch slides from their vacation, and wouldn't you know it, the parked the RV in every, single shot, as if to tease Andy and rub it in his face. Speaking of which, the extra sunlight shining off the RV parked in the driveway next door, sent an extra ray into the Anderson house, giving Andy a sunburn down half his face, so he now he looks like Two-Face. One half may be red, but the other was definitely green. He wanted an RV of his own, and so to make extra cash, he invests in honey futures. In other words, he purchases a beehive and a full-sized beekeeper costume, which he paints yellow with black stripes to "fit in." He even got Louie one for good measure. Well, one way to look at it is Louie's father is helping him with his science project, but we all know the real reason Andy's making a fool out himself (this week) is so he can afford an RV bigger than the Jensens'. You may laugh at Andy's actions, but he's much better at taming bees than you would think. Louie catalogs each day of General Bee keeping his little black and yellow soldiers in line. He can even make them spell out his name. Boy, if the tractor factory ever goes under, Andy can join circus as a bee tamer.
Despite having someone to practically do the work for him, Louie was not satisfied with his project and was sure he was going to fail. Seriously? All he needs to do is videotape his dad interacting with the bees and he'd get an A+. I think even the television media would 'bee' interested. Well, anyway, Andy's new hobby was going to his head, fast. So much so that Ora gave him an ultimatum: his family, or the bees. Not too quick on the uptake, Andy continues fawning over his little buzzing buddies, until finally the day arrived to collect on his investment. He set out a line of jars and attached a spigot into the hive, but sadly, no liquid gold came out. Angrily, Andy hung up his bee suit, while Louie went and collected a single bee from the hive to bring to class. Unfortunately, the one he happened to pick was the queen! The rest of the bees swarm over the entire school, playground and all. Now it's Alfred Hitchcock's The Bees. Mr. Lambert tries calling for help, but the bees chewed through the phone lines. Can they do that? While the kids are trapped in the school, Andy rushes to Jensen's office, as his knack of understanding bee speak let him know that Louie took the queen. Together with Jensen in his RV, they head off to save the kids, after many stops for the gas. It was also then that Andy became disilusioned by the giant vehicle, and balks when Jensen admits the reason he parked it so close was to entice Andy into buying it. If only he'd said that a week ago, he might have saved everybody a lot of trouble. Anyway, with everyone in the building and Mr. Lambert trapped in the phone booth outside, Louie devises a plan of his own. Confiscating Glen Glenn's dinosaur costume and Jeannie's solar powered go-cart, Louie ventures out into the swarm and tows the teacher to safety. When Andy arrives, he gets the queen back from Louie, then lures all of the bees into the RV, using Scott's flower seed project. Now to take those bees somewhere they could buzz off, but not before Scott identifies these creatures as hornets, and not bees. No wonder he couldn't get any honey. So, after releasing the hornets into the wild, Louie learns that he scored a whopping B- on his project, so it was all worth it.
This episode, while wacky, was still good fun. Every now and then you gotta just forget reality and go with the flow. Just shows how far some people are willing to go just to pass a science glass and/or make a lot of money. But then, if you're not doing it for either, what the heck are you doing it for? The RV subplot is similar to that episode of The Simpsons where Homer wants an RV because Ned Flanders got one. Tragically, Homer's credit rating was zilch and all he could afford was a crappy camper van. Also, it seemed Jensen was trying to sell Andy his RV right from the start, placing it in photographs of their trip and everything. My guess is Jensen owed a ton of money on it and was trying to pass the bill on to Andy. Well, like the saying goes, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. So in closing, I recommend Buzz Stop. You'll have a honey of a time.