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Archive for the ‘Mad About You’ Category

by Judi

Oh, the CROSSOVER. Jack Doneghy, I’m sure, loves the concept of the TV crossover being such a fan of things like “synergy” and “product integration”, “pro-menz” (that’s “positive mention” to you, little buddy) and “making lots of money.” After all, what better way to get your TV loving public to excitedly clap their hands and buy even more bags of Baked Lays than an episode of their favorite TV show starring people from their OTHER favorite TV shows. FUN FOR ALL, I dare say.

5. Dana from Step By Step helps Corey on Boy Meets World via dolphin in “The Happiest Show on Earth” (1996)

TGIF loved and I mean loved the crossover episodes. There was Urkel on Full House, Salem the cat from Sabrina running through all of the TGIF programs wreaking havoc on the sitcom space-time-continuum, and my favorite- Dana from Step by Step on Boy Meets World. True, she’s on for one scene and doesn’t say much but what she does say is enough to convince Corey that he’s still in love with Topanga. And she does this all through dolphins. Next to a dolphin tank. By telling him a story about dolphins. While they pet and feed dolphins. Dana sure is convincing. I hope she went into sales and is now so rich, she can by and sell JT. (And yes, I also hope she’s married to Cody. Shut up.)

4. Frasier Crane ruins Helen’s life again on Wings in “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes” (1992)

There were actually two Cheers and Wings overlaps, the other one being Cliff and Norm visiting Nantucket to go on a fishing trip but then they just go to the Sidecar and drink for two days. On “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes”, Cheers regulars Dr. Frasier Crane and his wife Lilith appear to do a seminar that Frasier’s devised about enriching your life (called amusingly The Crane Train to Mental Well-Being). The only problem is that Helen Chapel, recently back from a disastrous stint in New York City where she tried to become a cellist and ended up as a waitress as a strip club, took that same seminar in New York and blames it and Crane for all of her problems since then. The episode ends in a typical sitcommy way with all the Wings characters screaming at each other at the seminar and one of Frasier’s signature raspy “You people!” rants that we all so love. I enjoyed this episode so much when I caught the repeat last year, mostly because it reminded me of my sincere love for Lilith and her deadpan delivery.

3. George and Noah and Monica and Rachel on Friends in “The One With Two Parts” (1995)

It’s funny. I just realized a pattern here- the shows that used the crossover once more often than not used it several times. Friends is a solid example. We all remember (naturally- why would you be here if this were all new information?) that Mad About You‘s ditsy waitress Ursula is Phoebe Buffay’s twin sister, forcing a confused M.A.Y. Jamie and her friend Fran to mistakenly come to Central Perk and hassle Phoebe about getting them coffee.

Ok, so technically I’m cheating here. George and Noah weren’t playing their ER counterparts but really, come on. It’s a great episode, they’re CLEARLY playing off their ER characters and it includes one of my most favorite, rarely used sitcom gimmicks ever- Monica and Rachel have swapped identities because Rachel has sprained her ankle and lacks insurance so the cute doctors think each is the other. And then they get into a fight. (How did they pick who got George, btw? I mean, I love me some Librarian and all but being the one who gets George is cause enough for a fight to the death itself)

2. Lara Flynn Boyle tells Ally McBeal to eat a cookie in “Making Spirits Bright” (1998)

Usually, crossover happen because of a shared network but they tend to happen more frequently when they also share a creator. And no, I don’t mean the sweet baby Jesus. I mean David E. Kelley. Ok, to some of you, that IS the sweet baby Jesus, but around here he’s the guy who just really likes quirky urban lawyers and piano bars.

This nifty little cameo featuring Lara Flynn Boyle as her Practice attorney Helen Gamble sizing up bobble-headed Ally McBeal was inevitable, considering the media broohaha at the time regarding the fact that both actresses were in desperate need of a few trips to Arby’s and the aforementioned bags of Baked Lays. Oh yeah, and that whole thing about Ally’s skirts being too short. All wrapped up neatly in a thirty-second shot that really makes me want to get a cookie of my own.

1. Buffy drops in on Angel in “I Will Remember You” (1999)

It was a natural enough occurrence that the regulars on Joss Whedon’s Buffy would make an appearance on spin-off Angel. Angel would, after all, be nothing more than a glimmer in his big daddy’s eye if it weren’t for our favorite pint-sized slayer. In this episode, Buffy shows up for a reason I can’t remember off the top of my head and almost immediately helps Angel slay a big baddie, whose green slime accidentally turns Angel human.

The former couple agree that they won’t let this affect them, this sudden turn of events that they’ve both been wishing for since they met when Buffy was sixteen and Angel a spry 300 years old.  That naturally lasts about ten minutes and they end up going at it on Angel’s kitchen table. The ensuing scenes are pretty much everything we, the loyal Buffy audience (at least, those of us with girlie parts) have ever wanted- Angel discovering the joys of peanut butter and chocolate TOGETHER, ice cream, sunlight and being able to be with Buffy without turning into, you know, a total, murderous monster who likes killing her friends. Sadly, it doesn’t last. He’s a weak human now and can’t protect himself or her (not that she needs it but I guess after 300+ years, a sudden identity crisis would be pretty hard to overcome) so he goes to the Powers That Be and asks to be made vampire again. They agree to turn back the clocks, with the worst after-effect being that Buffy won’t remember their time together at all. And sure enough, even though she tearfully promises to remember everything, she doesn’t and soon stalks off the show back to Sunnydale.

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by Judi

5. Happy Days– Joanie Marries Chachi in “Passages (2)” (1984)

I, like many other children of the ’80s, was far too invested in the relationship of Joanie and Chachi. This wasn’t really my fault, though, and I’ll tell you why (of course I’ll tell you why.) Happy Days ran for so long that it had kind of the same emotional effect as a long-running soap opera. Meaning that most of us actually watched these crazy kids grow up. And, of course, the producers knew that and tied in the long-awaited wedding with what has to be the sappiest montage in television history and a tearful good-bye from the Cunningham family. Also, Scott Baio was seriously cute (and such is the depth of my affection that I can almost forgive his quoting song lyrics as vows. Ugh. Almost).

4. Cheers– Diane Doesn’t Marry Frasier in “Rescue Me” (1985)

As iconic TV couples go, you just can’t ignore Sam and Diane. The classic opposites-attract model of sitcom romance, playboy barkeep Sam’s constant wooing of aloof, refined Diane is pretty much the gold standard for inciting a riot of “will they or won’t they” among viewers everywhere. And if there’s anything TV viewers like better than a sitcom romance, it’s when that sitcom romance interrupts a wedding to another person (see Friends, Ross and Emily.) Poor Frasier. Luckily for all of us, he bounced back from this hitch in Italy to marry Lilith, one of the greatest characters in the history of the small screen.

3. Melrose Place– Craig marries Sydney in “Who’s Afraid of Amanda Woodward?” (1997)

Melrose Place was a solid prime-time soap, a bit dirtier and grungier than its BH counterpart and oh, we so loved it for that. Forget any shred of sap or sentiment. This wedding basically came about due to the high you get (or so I’ve heard) from a solid backstabbing- Craig and good old Syd plan to get hitched after basically ruining Amanda and stealing all of the clients from D & D.  Too bad it ends up with Sydney being awesomely mowed over by a car and, you know, dying. (Or not as she’s apparently going to be on the CW’s remake which I’m sure will be just as boring and stupid as the new 90210). I’m pretty sure Craig was the only one at the wedding who was actually bummed about it too.

2. Taxi– “The Wedding of Latka and Simka” (1982)

Andy Kaufman’s Latka was always good for a go-to laugh, if only for the seemingly bizarre culture of his native country, which Wikipedia helpfully reminds me was called “Caspiar.” His marriage to Simka is a perfect example. Instead of a simple ceremony, the couple are forced to partake in a series of really weird tests before they can get married in the garage, presided over by that dude from Ghost. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

1. Mad About You– “Mad About You” (1995)

While not even close on my list of favorite shows, I sometimes get the strangest hankering for old episodes of Mad About You. Maybe it has something to do with the way Paul Reiser talks with his hands. Or how Helen Hunt always looks like she wants to kill someone. Whatever it is, unlike Beal, I found the show to be pretty smart for a traditional sitcom. It felt more realistic as a New York show (than, say, Friends) and, let’s face it, meditations on married life can either be great (Everybody Loves Raymond) or AWFUL (‘Til Death) Mad About You struck right in the middle, though sometimes veering a little too far into reality for some people’s taste (they split up for a while, a big no-no in sitcom land).

This is my favorite wedding for personal reasons. In short, I think weddings are kind of stupid. A wedding costs an OBSCENE amount of money for what basically amounts to a party with bad food. You throw together all of the people in your life (ie AWKWARD) and then basically demand a giant gift in return. Other than the free booze and seeing your Aunt Muriel boogying to old Motown, I’d much prefer to get married the way Paul and Jamie do- on a dirty New York street in front of a work crew at 4am, presided over by Lyle Lovett.

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Why NBC, you’ve done it again! I had lost all hope in you when your Thursday night lineup slummed to Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER. It was like, just because Friends and Seinfeld had played out, you didn’t have to give up completely, but you did. I believe it was your shit Thursday that singlehandedly took your network to #4 in the ratings. Up to that point, I had always flipped to NBC when I had nothing in particular to watch during prime time, because your programming was generally better than any other network.

But then, you put Law & Order “spin-offs” [read: exactly the same show with a new tagline] (and what the hell was that one with Bebe Neuwirth?) on every single night, in every single time slot, and I had to let you go. It was a sad era for television, and I, along with the masses, said to hell with network and began obsessions with HBO and cable programming. 

Which brings me to last night. NBC, you’ve won me back!!

You have created a “Must See TV” lineup like no other, and I thank you for it. I submit that it’s better than its last heyday(s)The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Hill Street Blues—Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier, L.A. Law—and later—Friends, Seinfeld, ER.  [Yes, I intentionally didn’t mention the shitty shows that appeared amongst these gems: Boston Common, Mad About You, etc.

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Last night, I laughed OUT LOUD, alone, during each of the situation comedies you featured. Parks & Recreation was as funny as I could have hoped for, which obviously means it’s going to be cancelled, but I say please, please give this one a fair chance. Amy Poehler was the only reason I continued to watch SNL once it turned terrible, so I thank you for putting her in prime time. Her character is hilarious. When she rolled in in the duck taped travel pillow, pretending it was a neck brace from a fall she had endured into a pit, I peed a little. So so funny. And The Office can be totally hit or miss, but it’s funny more often than it’s not, and Michael Scott only forces me to change the channel sometimes. 30 Rock, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious. I won’t say any more. 

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As for Southland, I plan on giving it a fair chance and reporting back. My Name is Earl is a throw away show that’s essentially a bad skit gone on far too long. But that I can accept. Your new lineup with it’s new name COMEDY NIGHT DONE RIGHT, is no longer a lie. You win.

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