Recently, in between episodes of Keeping Up With the Trampdashians and Your Daughter’s F*cking Cialis Hefner, E! was playing 15 Unforgettable Hollywood Tragedies–a collection of Hollywood tragic deaths, and the only time you’ll see a program in which Christopher Reeves and Bernie Mac appear with Peter Jennings, especially now that Warner has scrapped doing Superman v: Attack of the Mac.
But with little interest and vastly more snobbery, I convinced myself that The Kids could present a much more compelling Hollywood tragedies list, and so, this week, we’ll be unveiling this list in segments, with our #1 tragedy unveiling itself this Friday.
So strap in, folks and get ready for a wild ride through the sad, dark alleys of pop culturedom.
It’s what Bernie Mac would’ve wanted.
The Kids Don’t Get It: 15 Greatest Hollywood Tragedies: #’s 15-13
#15: Mr. Belvedere:
For a long time growing up, I thought white people were only capable of two things: teaching me in school and turning off our power. The idea that they could be anything other than that was inconceivable (note: this was before White Embarrassments Courtney Love, Joey Buttafuocco and Elizabeth Hasselbeck). So, when the TV show Mr. Belvedere aired in 1985, about a portly British gentleman that moves in to serve as the butler for a middle-class family in Beaver Falls, PA, my family and I were hooked.
Mr. Belvedere the show was amazing for its creative ability to find a use for baseball cokehead Bob Uecker, the bratty boy Wesley (who was like Problem Child meets Dennis the Menace) and Very Special Episodes (“inappropriate touching”, HIV/AIDS, Uecker’s unaired “the proper way to cook coke” episode). I spent 5 years watching Mr. Belvedere wash, cook, clean, and taint-swab Uecker. Normally, this work would fall into the hands of Nell, or Mrs. Garrett or that mammy from Gone With the Wind.
But Mr. B changed the game. Brought the UK to PA. The show’s eventual cancellation meant a return to plain old brown people waiting on white people again–like Megan Mullaly’s housekeeper on Will & Grace, the ‘dainty’ innkeeper/butler/whatever on Gilmore Girls and drivel like Adam Sandler/Tea Leoni’s movie Spanglish aka Happy Gilmore Hires a Day-Worker.
Interestingly enough, the show ends with Mr. B marrying and leaving PA to live in Africa, which is well before the States got introduced to Amy Winehouse, who brought us Hepatitis Z and her soulful voice.
#14: My Buddy/Kid Sister:
When Kid Sister was announced, I can honestly say that I didn’t know one single kid that wanted one. Not a one. And that’s saying a lot. I mean, sure, this was a doll that had to compete with Cabbage Patch Kids, which were huge, but this was the 80’s, meaning that it’s competition was also toys like Glo Worm, which looked like a poorly-disguised sex toy (a battery-powered “night-time” doll). And the marketing was weird as it was aimed almost exclusively to weird, antisocial kids. A purchase of a Kid Sister or My Buddy doll was an admission that your kid was a fun-sucking loser that ate boogers and had birthday parties that were only attended by uncles, aunts and parent’s co-workers.
The commercials supported this too, just look–in the “My Buddy” segment alone, we see the young boy being chased out of the clubhouse by his peers with stones and hatchets, only to be seen seconds later climbing a fucking tree with his doll like Fay Raye and King Kong, followed by the second weirdest escape sequence that involves the boy weirdly straddling My Buddy as he wheels away in his Power Wheels bike.
Couple that with the fact that the dolls didn’t have actual names and it was really like you were buying some anonymous runaway off the black market. My Buddy/Kid Sister’s saving graces were that eventually sales came in the form of police and neurotic parents who used the dolls’ life-like appearance as decoys for hostage situations, kidnappings and “good hug, bad hug” demonstrations.
Also weird; the dolls had removable clothing–but no additional outfits to buy. So basically, if you’re cleaning out someone’s attic and you see a collection of buck-naked My Buddy’s with ransom notes, run.
#13: California Dreams: In my tween to teen years I watched Saved By the Bell, City Guys (“C-i-t-y, you can see why these guys are so fly–city guys!” *ahem*), Saved By the Bell: New Class, Saved By the Bell: the College Years, Saved By the Bell: Oops I Knocked-up Lisa Turtle and California Dreams, a show about a group of teenagers–excuse me, multi-ethnic teenagers–that formed a band and played music around town. They were sorta like those annoying kids on campus you always saw playing the guitar or singing in the dinning hall (if you were a Terp) that you wanted to simultaneously laugh at and choke. Anyway, the show never worked for me for two reasons:
1) there’s no way that I could ever believe that the two leads, Jenny and Matt, weren’t doing it. I didn’t care that they were brother and sister; I always waited for the Adoption Episode where they would discover that they were not related,then hook up, then Jenny would get pregnant, then Matt would kill her and then shoot himself before and then come back to life as the baby, like on Days of Our Lives.
2) there was a black guy (Tony) in the band; outside of Randy Jackson, I’ve never heard of a black man willingly being a member of a band that didn’t have the word “-Tang”, “Pound” or “Crew” in its title. So, two strikes against California Dreams for those atrocities alone.
In the end, the show only lasted 3 seasons, and during the whole time their cast partially changed members literally every season. Not a good sign. At 16-18 years old, if you’re choosing to go home and play with Kid Sister instead of starring on a teen sitcom, you know the show sucks. However, California Dreams does win points for having the most confusing Very Special Episode about non-violence ever. Take it, wikipedia:
An old friend of Tony’s is severely beaten by a couple of guys, and another friend wants to get revenge. Tony wants to get revenge using a bat, but also convinces his friend that using a gun isn’t the way to go.
In addition, this whole multi-ethnic group thing lead into the eventual creation sensations of The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and The Mighty Assholery Black Eyed Peas–who just might be making an appearance on The Kids Don’t Get It 15 Greatest Hollywood Tragedies Countdown….who knows? Tune in tomorrow where we’ll talk Rabbits, Turtles and Bots…….?