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Friday, December 13, 2013

Finding Miracles in Bad Luck Sitcom Christmases

Hello, everybody! And, welcome to the thirteenth day of “THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR”.

And, as it turns out, Day #13 happens to fall on what some would consider to be one of the most unluckiest days of the whole year! Friday the 13th!

But don't worry though. I won't be doing a blog entry on Jason Voorhees murdering a bunch of teeny-boppers one by one. Somehow, slicing open somebody with a carving knife isn't exactly the best way to wish someone a very merry Christmas.

But that's not to say that bad luck can't happen on Christmas Day (or any other day of the week that doesn't have the number thirteen attached to it). In fact, that's what this entry of the blog is all about this Friday. We're going to be talking about some of the Christmas disasters that our favourite sitcom characters have experienced, and how they got through it.

I guess the reason why I chose to do a topic on that subject is because of a few reasons. One reason why I wanted to choose this topic is because the opportunity to have Friday the 13th fall on a Friday in December only happens at least three times over a period of twenty years. Why wait?

Secondly, I think a lot of people over-hype the day known as “Friday the 13th”. I mean, really, when you stop and think about it, does anybody really have that much bad luck on one given day? I don't think so. In fact, I think Friday the 13th is just another bad superstition that people believe, just as people believe it to be back luck to walk under a ladder, or cross the path of a black cat. It's absolutely ridiculous to believe that just because the thirteenth of a month falls on a specific day of the week that all hell will break loose. Besides, last year, the world was supposed to end on a Friday, and it didn't.

(Of course, that end date was the twenty-first of December...and surprise, surprise, we're still here.)

But the most important reason why I wanted to do a blog entry on some of the worst Christmas vacations on sitcom land ever is because in almost every single instance, the good outweighs the bad. Whether it be in the form of a Christmas miracle, or the characters coming to terms with what happened, or simply making the best of a bad situation, they seldom let bad luck spoil their holiday.

So, I'm going to talk about half a dozen holiday mishaps in the world of sitcom television, and we're also going to talk about how the main characters of the television show managed to have a happy holiday even if disaster struck.

So, let's begin, shall we?

FULL HOUSE - “Our Very First Christmas Show”
Original Airdate: December 16, 1988

It's the first year that the sugary-sweet sitcom “Full House” did a Christmas episode, and it is on this episode that the family decides to leave their home in San Francisco to attend a holiday family reunion. What could go wrong?

Well, how about everything!

First of all, the Tanner family have to deal with a crabby old man who keeps complaining and yelling about everything. And, it certainly didn't help matters much when little Michelle actually pulls off the man's toupee, thinking that it was a cat.

Because, you know, everyone wears pets on their heads.

That's not the worst of it though. Due to a freak winter storm in Colorado, the plane is forced to land at an airport in the area, and the angry passengers are upset to learn that they are going to be forced to spend Christmas at the airport. Worse still, the Christmas presents that Danny, Joey, and Jesse had bought for the girls ended up getting lost in the baggage claim area, meaning that the girls didn't even have any presents to open up on Christmas!

Of course, while D.J. was very upset because of the fact that there were no gifts. Becky was upset because she couldn't get home to see her family in Nebraska. And all of the stranded passengers were upset because the snow kept them away from their holiday plans.

It took Stephanie – who never gave up her dream that Santa Claus would find them no matter where they were – and Jesse – who was getting incredibly frustrated over everybody's foul attitudes – to get the Christmas spirit back up and running again. And after decorating a Christmas tree (made out of coffee cups and swizzle sticks), somehow being stuck in an airport for Christmas wasn't so bad. And there's a really funny scene where Michelle pushes a button and sends a sleeping Danny out into the cold on a conveyor belt!

Oh...and there's one twist at the end of the episode that wraps everything up nicely...but I won't spoil it for you.

PERFECT STRANGERS - “The Gift of the Mypiot”
Original Airdate: December 16, 1988

You know, there was a time in which both “Full House” and “Perfect Strangers” aired as part of the TGIF block of Friday night comedies on ABC. This is why the Perfect Strangers Christmas episode aired the same day at the Full House special.

And in this episode of Perfect Strangers, we all get to meet the character known as “Balki Claus”!

Now, how many times have you been to a Christmas party or any party in general where everybody is having a wonderful time except one person. And, what if that one person at the party was so bitter and angry at the party that they made it unbearable for the others to have a good time, meaning that everyone at the party ends up miserable because of one person?

Well, for Mr. Gorpley, the boss of Larry and Balki at the Chicago Chronicle, he was that wet blanket. Larry and Balki had all the best intentions when it came to hosting a Christmas party at their own home. They invited Jennifer, Mary Ann, Lydia, Harriette, and all of the staff members from the Chicago Chronicle for a Christmas gathering filled with great food, lovely gifts, and happy memories. Balki wanted Mr. Gorpley to come too, because he never wanted anyone to feel left out.

(You see, Balki has one of the biggest hearts out of almost every sitcom character to come out of the last three decades.)

But naturally, Mr. Gorpley is a real Scrooge once he arrives. He belittles all the guests, he makes fun of their presents, and he is so insulting to Larry that Larry organizes a mob to throw him out of the party! It's up to Balki Claus to make the mob stop and make them realize that Mr. Gorpley does belong. It is here that we understand why Mr. Gorpley is such a grouch at Christmas, and how one generous gesture by Balki helps Mr. Gorpley see the true Christmas spirit.

Or, you could always click HERE to watch it for yourselves.

SEINFELD - “The Pick”
Original Airdate: December 16, 1992

Okay, so I'll be the first to admit. I never really did get into the whole “Seinfeld” thing. When I was in high school, it seemed as though I was the only one who never watched it. I mean, don't get me wrong, Jerry Seinfeld is a funny guy, and I admit that I do enjoy Julia Louis-Dreyfus' work. Maybe it was the fact that I could not stand Jason Alexander's character of George Costanza that turned me off. Or, perhaps I was just scared of Kramer's hair. Who can say really?

Of course, there are some episodes of “Seinfeld” that I can watch. The one with the Soup Nazi, the one with Elaine's stupid dancing, the one where they all go to prison...those are good ones.

As is this Christmas themed episode which aired during Seinfeld's fourth season. Because this episode features at least two different situations that can spoil anyone's Christmas.

Can you imagine going to all the trouble to making a homemade Christmas card, going to the Walmart Photo Lab and printing off a hundred copies at the Kodak kiosk, and putting in that little extra effort to make sure that the card is absolutely perfect only to discover that the photo you submitted is not exactly the classiest photo ever taken?

Well, that's exactly what happened with Elaine. She was so excited to send out her Christmas cards for the year that she failed to notice that in the photo of herself she took, she was exposing a nipple!

Yes, twelve years before Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfuction at the Super Bowl halftime show, Elaine gave a show of her own...on the front cover of a Christmas card! How's that for embarrassing!

But as it turns out, karmic retribution works in funny ways. You see, the person who took the photograph was Kramer, who either completely ignored the fact that Elaine was popping out of her top, or was completely unaware of the whole brouhaha, and while I'm sure that Kramer had the best intentions behind snapping the card photo, it still made Elaine a laughing stock.

So when the opportunity comes later in the episode for Kramer to be given the job as a Calvin Klein underwear model and the final ad actually exposes Kramer's genitals, somewhere out there, Elaine was laughing hysterically, muttering to herself how delicious it was that the person who caused her own embarrassment got a taste of his own.

UNRELATED RANT: How can anybody justify paying nearly $30 for three pairs of Calvin Klein underpants when they can get twice that amount for half the price of any other brand? Is there something special about Calvin Klein underwear that justifies the high price? Inquiring minds want to know!

Anyway...back to the sitcom list.

Original Airdate: December 14, 1996

Okay, so what you're seeing above is a shot of the original Saved By The Bell cast sitting at one of the tables at “The Max”, a teen hangout where the décor is a geometry teacher's worst nightmare, and where the food is greasy and fattening...just the way today's teenagers like it. It managed to survive the entire run of “Saved By The Bell”, as well as the first four seasons of “Saved By The Bell: The New Class” before they had one of the New Class cast members turn it into a pile of smoldering ashes...on Christmas vacation, no less!

I know that the New Class series gets a bad rap when compared to the original, but this particular episode does illustrate a valuable lesson. If you have a real tree, don't forget to water it, and don't leave the lights on overnight.

It was a lesson that Ryan Parker learned the hard way. He and his friends were so excited about the holiday party that they were going to throw at “The Max” that when Ryan was closing up the restaurant, he left the tree lights on, which overheated and started a fire which turned into a great big fire when the dried out tree became engulfed in flames.

The end result was that a seven-year-old set was burned to the ground, and Ryan was blaming himself for the disaster, even though his friends insisted that it was an accident.

(Mind you, an accident that completely destroyed an entire restaurant.)

But after the owner of “The Max” overheard Ryan's friends, Screech, Mr. Belding, and Slater in a guest appearance reminiscing about the fond memories that they had at “The Max”, the owner decided that he would rebuild the iconic restaurant bigger and better than ever before. And for the show's last few seasons, “The Max” had a new look and more space. Still, there was something sad about the old building burning down.

The Old Max

Original Airdate: December 19, 1997

Okay, so Sabrina's been a character that has appeared in Archie Comics since 1962, and she has been involved in a lot of adventures that have had to do with Christmas and the holidays. She even had her own Christmas themed comic book back in the 1970s. Have a look below!

And, the Sabrina series of comics became so successful that Melissa Joan Hart was cast as Sabrina in the live-action series which ran from 1996-2003. And, in this Christmas episode, we learn that Sabrina seems to have a case of the gimmies. Seriously, she makes the self-absorbed Libby seem grounded! All Sabrina seems to care about is getting gifts and presents. It's a horribly selfish attitude to have around this time of attitude which sadly many of us have exhibited on Christmas. When I was a little kid, I think that I myself was guilty of putting presents above anything else.

But very few of us get the rare opportunity to actually help others during the holidays. And when Sabrina accidentally injures the real Santa Claus while trying to change her selfish attitude, she and Salem are forced to take over Santa's duties and deliver presents to every single person on his list before Christmas morning.

In fact, I have an added bonus to this particular entry. Click HERE, and you can watch the whole thing!

THE BIG BANG THEORY - “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”
Original Airdate: December 15, 2008

Our most recent example on the list, we have what some would consider to be the ultimate bad luck experience on the holidays. What if you get someone a present that they don't like? Or what happens when you get someone a gift only to realize that their gift to you is worth five times the price of yours? I mean, sure, most of us don't see it as that big of a deal because as long as the gift comes from the heart, no big deal, right?

Well, for Sheldon, he plans to bypass that whole thing by performing what he called the “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”. You see, Sheldon is really having a hard time buying a Christmas present for Penny. He knows that she would probably like a girly gift like a basket filled with soaps, perfumes, candy, fruit, and gingerbread cookies, but he's not sure what gift to give her because he wanted his gift to exactly match the monetary amount that Penny spent on him. His solution is to buy a gift basket from every store in the mall in every price point so that when Penny drops off his present, he can select the right gift basket from the assortment that he has purchased and return the rest on the day after Christmas.

(Seriously, how much disposable income does Sheldon Cooper have?)

So what happens when Penny gives Sheldon one of the best gifts ever? Well...have a look!

And, this concludes Day #13 of the Pop Culture Addict's Advent Calendar. And on the upcoming Day #14, I cheat a smidgen. We look at one of the coldest levels in a video game that I received as a Christmas gift some twenty-two years ago! This frosty edition of the Saturday Smorgasbord video game blog begins tomorrow!

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