Very Late But Very Special Friday Fun Link

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Reader Fred Nolan points us to Wikipedia's entry on the Very Special Episode. Some highlights:

Family Matters—When Laura gets assaulted outside of school, a guy at school offers Laura a gun, Urkel tries to stop her. This is one of the most serious episodes of the series, the only comedic scene featuring Urkel rapping. It even ends with a message from Jaleel White about guns.

Facts of Life—Natalie is almost raped by a clown on Halloween.

Perfect Strangers—Balki is sent to an internment camp after his island nation of Mypos declares war on the United States.

Television viewers and critics alike widely regard the term very special episode as ironic and melodramatic.

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  1. I think wikipedia jumped the shark right about when i looked up the US draft (conscription) and I found no referance to the gates commision and Alan Greenspan…there is also no referance the gates commision under Greenspan as well.

    sad.

  2. The list of sitcom VSEs is good, but why do they bother singling out an episode of “Degrassi Junior High”? Every single episode of that show was a VPE. Those kids had more life-threatening problems than the rugrats in “IT.”

  3. What, no nod to the “very special Blossom” episode? Her boyfriend tried to kiss her and feel her up! Then her dad got deadly angry! Then Joey said “Whoa” but nobody laughed ’cause it was serious stuff. I think that episode won a very special Emmy or something. Maybe not.

  4. No mention of “Strangers with Candy,” the Comedy Central show that wins the prize for best spoofing of moralizing TV shows.

    “I guess what I learned this week is that only losers do drugs. Unless it helps you win, in which case only winners do drugs.”

  5. “I think wikipedia jumped the shark right about … ”

    You do know you can add these things yourself, right? If folks don’t like the additions you can also present your case and fight to keep them. I use the science and math entries regularly … check out my recent addition of the Grotthuss Mechanism. Who knows, maybe other folk here have something worthwhile to add. Great resource.

  6. My two favorite VSEs are the episode of Different Strokes where Arnold almost gets molested and the episode of Family Ties where Alex P. Keaton gets hopped up on amphetamines and digs irrigation ditches in the yard.

  7. Welcome Back, Kotter ? Boom-Boom Washington is hooked on pills, and a na? Horshack childishly refuses to believe his friend needs help; Gabe and the other Sweathogs believe Boom-Boom has a problem.

  8. The list of sitcom VSEs is good, but why do they bother singling out an episode of “Degrassi Junior High”? Every single episode of that show was a VPE. Those kids had more life-threatening problems than the rugrats in “IT.”

    Tell me about it, and the show is like heroin. My girlfriend got me addicted, first taste is free, after that you’re chasing the dragon.

  9. My favorite was the very special X-File where Scully shoots Mulder, Skinner and the Lone Gunmen early in the episode then strips and talks directly into the camera for the rest of the show. She bribes me with whisky and some red pills then does the sexiest lap dance ever. I remember that one like it was just last night.

  10. How about the VSE of Little House on the Prarie where Albert gets hooked on morphine?

    I don’t know what’s worse, albert getting hooked on smack, or the fact that I watched “Little House” every week. Still have a calico fetish too.

  11. It’s true, every episode of “Strangers with Candy” was a very satirical very special episode. Likewise with “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

    Kinda ironic eyyh?

    The modern sitcom version of Shakespeare stars the poster child for very special angst.

  12. John, good call on the Family Ties amphetamine episode. My Family Ties favorite was the Ruben Tedesco episode where he’s making fun of all his students in front of their parents.

    What about the Brady Bunch episode in Hawaii? The scene where the boys have their arms and legs tied up in the cave by Vincent Price. That was pretty creepy to me. There’s certainly some child sex crime involved with that.

  13. Thanks, Tim, so much, so very much, for reminding me of the very special episode of “Diff’rent Strokes” when Gordon Jump tried to molest Arnold.

    I still wake up screaming.

  14. pigwiggle,

    wikipedia gives greater weight to those with time on thier hands and with an ax to grind over facts.

    sorry that is the truth.

    wikipedia is great for say pop culture referances, but for everything else it is crapola.

    Unless you are an expert in a field there is no way to garantee that what you are reading is the whole story and it can change from day to day, depending on which side has happens to have won the most recent round of revisions.

    and if you are an expert already why use an encylopidia in the first place.

    Another thing is that dispite the potential, wikipidia negelects primary sources which is wierd becouse it is on the web.

    When someone links to wikipedia as fact I put it in the same standing as just another blog.

  15. I always liked the Very Special Episode of Dinosaurs where Robbie and Spike discover a “happy plant” in the forest, and at the end Robbie talks to the audience and explains that drugs are bad because they lead to preachy sitcom episodes about how drugs are bad.

  16. Thank you so much Joshua for that Very Special Explanation of why Wikipedia is actually a Wankopedia.

  17. “Diff’rent Strokes – When Arnold is offered drugs on the playground, Nancy Reagan comes and speaks to his class about drugs and pushes her “Just Say No” campaign.”

    Too bad Kimberly (Dana Plato) couldn’t just say no to drugs. / snark off.

  18. “Robbie and Spike discover a “happy plant” in the forest”

    Yes, something that is natural and created by the Intelligent Designer must be bad because it can’t be patented and marketed by the pharmaceutical industrial complex.

  19. the episode of Family Ties where Alex P. Keaton gets hopped up on amphetamines and digs irrigation ditches in the yard

    Part of me thinks you’re kidding, and part of me thinks he remembers that episode. Was there a scene where Alex digs through a wastepaper basket on his hands and knees, looking for the pills Mallory just threw out?

  20. “Diff’rent Strokes – When Arnold is offered drugs on the playground, Nancy Reagan comes and speaks to his class about drugs and pushes her “Just Say No” campaign.”

    To paraphrase Jay Leno (from back in the days when he was funny), when I see that one, I just want to shoot up and die in the street.

    Observation #2: Has there ever been a VSE about guns that wasn’t pro gun-control?

    Observation #3: What about the King Of The Hill where Peg unwittingly becomes a foot-fetish model…does that count?

  21. What about the King Of The Hill where Peg unwittingly becomes a foot-fetish model…does that count?

    No, you’re thinking of the episode where Hank doesn’t take Luanne’s experience of being molested while working as a golf-course waitress seriously until he himself is molested by a horny dolphin in the country-club swimming pool.

  22. “wikipedia is great for say pop culture referances, but for everything else it is crapola.”

    Well, you are just flat wrong. Nature recently conducted a study on the science and mathematics portions of Wikipedia and found them to be as reliable as Britannica, but with more content. I?m a scientist (theoretical chemist) and I now search Wikipedia before I pull down my textbooks; for example Wikipedia has nearly made my Mathematical Methods for Physicists text redundant.

    Further, there are entire communities of Wikipedians whose sole purpose is to patrol articles and sift out opinion, bias, and speculation. Other communities edit for readability, grammar, spelling; others patrol for vandalism.

    Really, the remarkable thing about Wikipedia articles is the relentless peer review and necessary consensus. When I publish my manuscripts are peer-reviewed by several other folks before it is published. Wikipedia is no different. And given their new policies, the peer review becoming even more rigorous.

  23. For once, I agree wholeheartedly with John.

    Best. VSEs. Ever.

  24. They forgot The Very Special Episode Lifetime Achievement Award: Seventh Heaven.

  25. Jennifer,
    I recall watching the “happy plant” episode of Dinosaurs. I fell off the couch when they got to the “don’t do drugs because they cause preachy sitcoms” part. I still have the scar on my forehead from hitting the coffee table. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Amazon. I just ordered them, thanks to you.

  26. pigwiggle:

    “joshua corning” is just bitter because Wikipedia editors regularly reject his submissions for having too many misspelled words

    jennifer:

    maybe we should call on Congress to implement a nationwide ban on Very Special Episodes because they are a gateway to needing drugs to deal with the existence of Very Special Episodes

  27. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Amazon

    They are? Finally! Hosanna! I loved that show. A couple of episodes were kind of dumb–I didn’t care for the one about “Sexual” Harris–but that show hit the mark far more often than it missed.

  28. Just checked Amazon–sure enough, the first two seasons come out in May. I hope they follow up with the final season soon; that had my two favorite episodes–the Exorcist parody where Baby reaches his Terrible Twos, and the horribly depressing final episode where we learn exactly why the dinosaurs died out.

  29. Was there a scene where Alex digs through a wastepaper basket on his hands and knees, looking for the pills Mallory just threw out?

    I remember that episode. Alex was gettin’ the pills from his sister’s fat friend although we never saw her–they were diet pills. Alex was takin’ ’em so he would do well on his SATs, and he crashed so hard, he slept right through the test. …Bah ha ha!

    When his parents woke up–damn hippies–he started goin’ through the trash for the pills.

    …Not to worry, by the next episode, Alex was no longer a speed freak.

    There were some good episodes of that show. I always remember the one where Alex keeps tryin’ to get his parents to kiss this one teacher’s ass so he can get a recommendation to Princeton, but the teacher’s such an a*#hole! Every time his parents gets around the guy, one of ’em ends up punching him out.

    “Buddy (played by Kristy McNichol) is pressured into sex by her boyfriend (played by teen idol Leif Garrett). Although she is tempted, she ultimately decides that she is not ready for the responsibility just yet, teaching viewers that they, too, can say no to sex if they are not prepared. Family was one of the first television shows to deal with very topical subjects in this manner.”

    And here I thought that was Kristy McNichol’s way of comin’ out of the closet!

  30. You know that “pressuring girls into sex” thing is a realy problem these days. …Back when our parents were in high school, guys didn’t try to get girls to have sex. Someday, by way of school councilors or after school specials or something, we’ll get rid of this problem. …and boys ‘ll stop tryin’ to get girls to have sex.

    The ol’ “Trouble With a Capital T” routine’s been playin’ for an awful long time, and the “very special episode” is a great format for it. …but I don’t think we see much of the morality play in mainstream sitcoms anymore. …the sitcoms targeted to teens and younger, I’m sure still do.

    …not that I’m watchin’ Raven to find out.

  31. Ken, are you saying you don’t think a half-hour sitcom can undo the biological urges that five billion years of evolution have bred into teenage boys? Damn, you’re cynical.

  32. Well, Jennifer, it’s an uphill battle. …but getting guys to stop tryin’ to get girls to have sex, if we could do that, if we could just make it all stop, I just know we’d be in paradise.

    Unfortunately, there’s all these libertarian types, and they just want to let Hollywood get away with puttin’ half naked women on television… For goodness’ sake, there’s a girl in a bikini on this very page, right up yonder to the right! Guys see that, especially young men, and it just makes ’em see women as sex objects. …and before you know it, they start wanting to have sex with women. I tell ya’, we’ve gotta put a stop to it!

    I went to the same prep school my parents went to–my Geometry teacher had actually been my Mom and my Aunt’s dean way back in the ’50s. I was complaining about having to dress so formal all the time, once, and she started talkin’ about the dress code back then. Apparently, one of the things they used to enforce had to do with girls wearin’ open toed shoes. …The reasoning (and I’ve had independent confirmation on this) was that when boys saw girls’ toes, it made ’em think about babies.

    I read something recently comparing the pregnancy rate (and abortion rate) among French teenage girls as compared to American teens. Their sexual activity rates are comparable if not the same, but American girls are five times more likely to get pregnant, with a comparable multiple for abortions and STDs. The difference, apparently, has to do with French attitudes about providing minors with contraception, which we’re loathe to do in this country for fear that it might contribute to teens, both boys and girls, having sex.

    Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that the War on Terror doesn’t last as long as the War on Drugs or the War on Teenage Boys Who Want to Have Sex.

  33. Testing…

  34. I watched Perfect Strangers religiously as a child, and I remember no such episode as the one described above. It seems rather un-timely, too -who cared about internment in the late 1980s? (Come to think of it, that WAS when the Japanese-Americans got their congressional apology and token reparation payment, but still, internment wasn’t a “live issue” in the same way that drugs and rape are always in the news.) I suspect a hoax.
    The Family Ties speed episode, on the other hand, is definitely real.

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