……aaaaand we’re back.
A couple of days ago, The Kids started a list counting down the 15 greatest Hollywood Tragedies as seen by me instead of the stoopid folks over at E! entertainment, who’d done a similar program a couple weeks ago.
Anyway, the first installment of this list covered the majestic rise and fall of Mr. Belvedere, the latch-key loser kid doll My Buddy/Kid Sister and the hodge-podge of colored shenanigans that was California Dreams. In this installment, we crack open your childhood a little further, and feed it some vodka.
The Kids’ 15 Greatest Hollywood Tragedies: #’s 12-10
For a stretch of time, back around, say, 2004-06, it was sorta vogue to get the knock-off versions of brand-name stuff. Like I’d walk around town and women were openly and proudly sporting knock-off Coach bags (with some variation like “Coach” spelled “Cooch”) and guys wearing knock-off designer sneakers and whatnot. Well, thankfully, overall that trend has died down a bit, but little known fact is that the knock-off movement has its roots in……cartoons.
The Gobots were the cheap alternative answer to the shinier, more fun Transformers. They were like the government cheese to Transformers’ Velveeta. They were the Winslows to the Transformers’ Huxtables. The Gobots were inferior to the Transformers in every way possible. Just look:
- Weapons: Instead of laser guns and blasters, the Gobots used their hands. Hands! Fuggin’ robot-skeet everywhere.
- Transformations: the Transformers turned into cool, loud things like monster trucks, cannons, boom boxes and dinosaurs. The Gobots meanwhile turned into things like scooters (more on that in a second), motorcycles and Xerox machines. Fun!
- Names: Transformers: OPTIMUS PRIME (big-rig truck), MEGATRON (super duper mega-blaster gun), STARSCREAM (fighter jet), GRIMLOCK (tyrannosaurus rex), DESTRUCTICON (big mother-f*cker)–names so kick-ass that I didn’t even realize I’d written them in caps until now. Meanwhile, Gobot names: Scooter (a…scooter), Tank (a……tank), Dive-Dive (a submarine). These names, nay, the entire concept of Gobots seems straight out of an ESL creative writing class; the ideas are there, but the vocabulary just begs for expansion. Even their group name is lame; calling roving, transforming robots “Gobots” is like having a battery-operated doll that’s called “Walkbaby”.
It’s like the entire line was made to be sold on the Chinatown sidewalk.
Not surprising, the Gobots lasted roughly 4 years, whereas the Transformers continued on, going through several cartoon incarnations and experiencing a recent resurgence in the last 2-3 years thanks to Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, starring Shia “Hollywood is trying hard to make you love me” LeBouf and their most popular Transformer to date, Megan Fox, who can go switches from “Thinly Contrived Movie Whore-pot” to “Poorly Contrived Celebrity Skank”, and (fun fact!) is actually based on the earlier model, Lindsay Lohan-bot. Sadly, there isn’t more than meets the eye with either one.
#11: Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa Turtle):
As a friendless, dateless virgin from ages 13-22 (TMI?) Bayside’s boys and babes and Mr. Belding were like my best friends. I came raced home everyday after school to catch the latest hour-long installment of Saved By the Bell during a glorious period of TV viewing when the show was nigh inescapable: Fox in the afternoons, TBS in the evening and new episodes Saturdays on NBC. It was, in a word, prettyfuckingawesomeeverydayofmylifeduringthatperiod.
But like all good things–Robbie the Robot, A Diifferent World, The Search for the New Pussycat Doll, hair–eventually it came to an end. There were of course Gobot-like attempts to recapture that magic: most notably SBtB: The New Class and California Dreams (which would’ve fared better if the cast was on Californication).
And that’s what makes this tale all the more tragic. Just look at the post-Bell years for the cast:
- Jessie became an actress that even insulted strippers in Showgirls,
- Kelly became The Psycho Nympho Girl You Dreamed Kelly Capowski Secretly Was on Beverly Hills 90210,
- Zach hatefucked his career into weirdness by joining NYPD Blue and now Raising the Bar only to appear as Zach Morris on the Jimmy Fallon Show,
- Slater going into “creepy old guy” at the club territory by hosting America’s Best Screw Dance Crew
- Screech did porn.
But what of Lisa Turtle? While everyone else went onto various forms of fame and stardom, Lisa–who had to spend her ‘Bell years being chased by Screech “Likely Chronic Masturbator” Powers and get ‘tang-teased with only one hook-up with Zach when she was his candy-stripe nurse for a week at the hospital (though in real-life they dated for 3 years!).
She was cute, spunky, funny–you can’t tell me that Mr. Belding and the boys didn’t wonder what Turtle had going on under her shell–and yet, once the lights went out, Lark was left in the dark. I Googled around for her (“lark voorhies homeless”; “lark voorhies desperate”; “lark voorhies desperate so is now stripping”; “lark voorhies naked”) and finally found out the following: she appeared in a movie called Civil Brand which starred Da Brat. Lisa Turtle opened the door for every vapid wannabe valley-black girl that came after, like 1/2 the Huxtable kids, Wendy Williams, Tyra Banks, Oprah and Ms. Jaye on America’s Next Top Model. I mean Smurf, she can’t even get a Tyler Perry role.
#10: Small Wonder:
If there’s any further proof ever needed to argue whether or not the 80’s was a cocaine-fueled decade, one only need to direct your pals to the TV show Small Wonder. Small Wonder was about a middle-class family that raised a cyborg little girl they kept in the closet named “Vicki” who posed as the family’s child–because 80’s suburban people were too coked-out to have sex. Go ahead; read that sentence again if you need to.
That’s how Smurfing insane the 80’s were; shows like this were greenlit with reckless abandon. For further proof of the cocaine binges that TV execs were suffering from, no other period had so many black shows on the air: 227, Amen, What’s Happening Now!, andthe Cosby Show were all quality shows. I mean, hell, they put on cop shows named TJ Hooker and Hunter–hookers and blow, kids, hookers and blow–do you need anymore proof?
Of course, once the coke wore off and the money dried up, execs came to their senses again, and now we just have Flavor of Love.
Well I for one want more of Small Wonder because Vicki could do anything. Because of her computer brain and robotic strength, there were episodes were Vicki would dunk basketballs from the end of the driveway, lift cars, and carry grown men like blankets. Naturally, her suburban caretakers wanted her to be kept a secret (hence the closet a lot) and typically used her for largely domestic chores–I remember an episode where she had to do the taxes, all the family ironing and make breakfast all at once–and then back to the closet Vicki, until Ted came down at night for some “computer love”. But like Mr. Belvedere, Vicki inspired a new wave of immigrant labor that surged in the 90s.
Next up: when it’s ok to pull a Rabbit, the King is spinning in his grave and midgets with fur!