The world feels pretty grim these days. Everybody hates each other, we can't stop the environment from getting trashed, your ISP is telling every company in existence that you read sites like this, and all the ones in charge are completely incompetent. And everyone is asking, what are we doing to our future?
Well, I don't know about the future. That's anybody's guess. And to be honest, I don't see any reason for getting all depressed. Do you see where I'm going with this?
It's time to kick off our shoes, close the drapes, ignore the chaos outside, dance like idiots, and watch a Blossom episode.
Before we begin, a confession: I've never actually done this. You name most early 90's TV schlock and I can recite every line from it, with the exception of Blossom, because I've never seen a single episode. Not a one. I shunned the show as a kid because it was about a stinky GURL and it was probably about GURLS painting their nails and giggling about boys and talking about mushy GURL stuff. Real he-men watched Family Matters!
All I know about Blossom is what I've gleaned from pop culture. I know that Joey Lawrence was in it because for a brief period of time he was considered a hot piece of meat among the preteen set. That lasted about eight months before JTT became a thing, so Joey never got to star in a single forgettable Disney movie. And I know that Joey's catch phrase was to stare at the camera and whimper "whoa!" because everybody was imitating that. That's all I know Blossom for. This will be a completely new experience for me, so if some of my comments seem a bit off, it's due to ignorance. At least, I hope, I'll come off less annoying than when Tamara does this.
Today we'll be watching the fourth episode ever, "Who's In Charge Here," first airdate January 21, 1991. And if you haven't already guessed, of COURSE I have that original airing on file complete with ads and everything. Would you expect anything else from me? I need that authentic experience if I'm going to be effectively transported back onto my grandmother's living room rug.
This episode starts out with a familiar sitcom scene: a teenager cramming a bunch of random food into a blender. It's Joey's turn to clean the dishes today, so he figures he'll just use as few dishes as possible by transforming everything he eats into a gelatinous mass and gulping it down. Immediately, you know what Joey's contribution to the show is. He's the idiot.
So if this was the guy Lawrence was playing, how could so many young viewers go soft for him? Buffoonish butt monkeys usually don't get the chicks, or at least not this many. And apparently, they completely ignored the actor playing Blossom's OTHER older brother, who looks and dresses much closer to a typical teen idol. Girls, who can figure 'em.
He's played by Michael Stoyanov, and he has a name, but I'm not going to bother learning it, because I've decided to call him "Dangerous Dungarees." He's got this throwback, whitebread Fonz-ish idea of a rebel about him, down to his leather jacket and ripped jeans. When playing Six Degrees of Free Spirit, "Blossom" is easy because Stoyanov had a cameo in the fourth episode, as a lothario teen who unwittingly propositioned Winnie to "play tonsil hockey" (with the expected results).
Blossom's dad enters the
kitchen, and smacks his head on an open cupboard door. "How
many times have I told you to keep this closed? Do you want me to
poke my eyes out??"
"Well, if that happened we could at least have a dog," quips Blossom, and then points out that it was DAD who opened the cupboard earlier.
"Yeah, well, the point still stands. Also, alternative facts -- it was you."
The Russos are the offspring of a musician (and, presumably, a mother who is not shown here) and he's just received some good and bad news. The good news is that he's landed a gig playing for a cruise ship. The bad news is that such a job will keep him occupied for a solid week, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. Of course they see nothing wrong with that, so he explains why he doesn't feel he can trust them alone. Among the childrens' list of faults he casually throws out that Dangerous Dungarees is a recovering drug addict, which is....not the kind of character flaw I was expecting this TV-G family programming to utilize. You can barely tell, of course -- DD's eyes are free of bags or signs of fatigue; his arms bear no scars or track lines; we're just supposed to accept it. He's nuts for drugs, okay?
One of the kids is going to have to be crowned Head of the Household while Father is away. Nick sits down at the table and tells Blossom he thinks it should be her. "DD has a head full of problems, and Joey has a head full of hair." He pauses for the laugh track, then continues. "I'd appreciate it if you could take charge while I'm gone." Weirdly, when he walks into the living room, he tells Joey something similar. I don't get it. It's not a misunderstanding if he explicitly told them the same thing. And there's no scene at the end where he says "I thought I would teach you a lesson" or something like that. Why did he do this?
Well, I guess my smaller self was right about the nail-painting thing. He got everything else wrong, though. So far, I don't hate Blossom at all. There are people who can't stand this show and it's because of them I stayed away from it for so long. It might be too early to make a definitive judgment, but based on the eight minutes I've braved so far, I'd have to say the haters are full of it. I feared she'd be some kind of unbearable hyper preteen Disney Channel Doofus who made frequent use of "like" as a conjunction, but she's not that kind of girl. Turns out Blossom Russo is kind of a smartass, and of course, I admire that sort of thing. I can see why this stayed on for five years.
Also, it turns out she's NOT the most unconventionally named person in her neighborhood. That award would go to her friend here, who goes by the baffling and confusing name of.......6.
Is there any explanation in any of the other episodes for why someone would be named "Six"? It's just there; her friend goes by a number and everyone accepts it without question. Why is this person named "Six"? And what happened to the other five?
|Is it a Peanuts thing?
In the early sixties Charlie Brown met a kid named 5. He
had about as loud a reaction as I'm having to Six. It
turned out 5 had hipster parents who assumed in the
future, everyone would be naming their children numbers,
and they were just doing it before it was cool. Linus
remarked that he'd like to be named 45,306. "I don't
know," said Charlie Brown as he leaned on the fence,
"I think every Tom, Dick and Harry would be named
You'd think he'd be a throwaway character, but 5 actually remained in Peanuts continuity for several years afterward. He even showed up in the background during the early Peanuts specials. Watch "Great Pumpkin" and observe the kid in the ghost costume who salutes Snoopy as he marches out the door. That's 5.
What drives the plot in this one is that Dangerous Dungarees is in love -- with Stephanie, a girl he met at an AA meeting. "Isn't it amazing how more pleasant the world feels when you're in love? The sun seems brighter, the air smells sweeter, and the hunchback selling newspapers on the corner is standing just a little bit straighter." Out of all the Rule of Threes lines that have been uttered on sitcoms, this has to win some award.
DD enters Blossom's room and asks the titular character if she can keep Stephanie occupied, while he prepares for his date at an all-night bingo parlor (this isn't played as a cover story, but I don't believe him at all). As Blossom silently tiptoes down the stairs, she's just in time to witness Stephanie pick something off the living room table and slip it into her purse. OH NOOO!
Stephanie has stolen a gold pepper mill shaped like Little Richard, presumably not because she wanted it for herself.
terrible! My brother's dating a girl who's a THIEF!"
"Well, it could be worse," says Six.
"How?" asks Blossom.
"He could be dating a GUY who's a thief!"
Okay.....that's a side of Six we learned about tonight.
Blossom and Six
gallop down the stairs and start grilling Stephanie.
"Wow, that's a big purse you have there."
"Heh, yeah! I like 'em big! I bet I could fit that COUCH into this one."
"Ever try?" Blossom says nervously.
The conversation is cut short when Dangerous Dungarees comes down the stairs to take Stephanie out. As they leave, Blossom wallows in despair. Telling him about what she did could mean they break up, and if he loses a girlfriend, the depression could push him back into drugs again....it's all too much for Bow-Head to handle. Fortunately Joey stomps into the house at that moment to provide a distraction.
"Aw no, Blossom, my life is over!" Their father's car went missing from the mall. And it was at the mall because Joey drove it there in an effort to impress somebody of the female persuasion. He's only 15 this season and definitely has no license. None of this makes Blossom feel better.
"I can't believe it....Dad leaves me in charge and look what happens!" says Joey. "Uh....Dad said he was putting ME in charge!" says Blossom. And here it comes out, but instead of a conflict, Joey is fine with surrendering his title, given the circumstances. "This is your fault then....nice going, Blossom!"
Fortunately, because she possesses the mind of a genius (literally, look up Mayim Bialik's IQ), Blossom instantly comes up with a pre-Information Age way to track down the car. She dials the police and fakes an old lady's voice. "Ehhhh, this is Mrs. Beagleman! I forgot where I parked my car; this happens to me all the time! License number.....uh, 629FZQ." The police tell "Mrs. Beagleman" that Joey parked the car in a No Parking Zone and it was towed. He would need to show ID to get it back, which he does not have. This makes Joey utter an early version of "whoa."
Joey leaves the room trying to figure out what to do (or rather, leaving it to "the one in charge" and grabbing another Sandwich Smoothie). And then the phone rings. It's Dad, checking up on things. Blossom has to lie through her teeth that everything's going peachy, then fakes some static and hangs up. "Just great! Now I've lied to my father too. At least I'll have you for company when I go to hell."
"Blossom, I got locked inside the Port-A-Toilet at a Rolling Stones concert. I've been to hell." Um...er....what? She's been where? What is the story behind this? How'd she get there? She looks like she's literally her name's age. But no, we have to move on. I'm guessing this story is never brought up again for the rest of the series.
Blossom goes down to Stephanie's apartment looking for Dangerous Dungarees. Stephanie answers the door....in a wedding dress. Whah?
This episode is getting weirder by the minute. Blossom has picked the worst time to inform DD about his choice of woman because he's about to get married....in his apartment....somehow. Blossom tries to hold her tongue, but when she's told to speak now or forever hold her peace, the truth comes out.
"What? My bride's a thief??" exclaims Dungarees. "My life is over! I need some drugs right NOW! There've gotta be some around here!"
When the minister was officially revealed as Little Richard himself, I realized what was going on. Shoot, it's a dream, isn't it?
Now the question becomes just how much of what we've just seen was a dream. I wanted to see how Blossom would untangle this mess. If the majority of it only happened in her head, I'm goiing to feel cheated.
Fortunately, only the apartment scene was imaginary. When Blossom wakes up, Six is next to her in a sleeping bag, Stephanie is still a problem and the car is still impounded.
Blossom walks into the kitchen that morning to see Stephanie there. She gets right to the point. "I saw you steal from our living room; give it back."
sorry, Blossom. Ya see, I kinda have this....problem. No, it's
not drugs, I don't do the drugs anymore, I'm in AA! But I used ta
steal to pay for the drugs."
"Then.....why did you do it?"
"Well, now I steal to pay for my therapist! Larry is really brilliant; I recommend him highly!"
"So....Larry will cure you of stealing?"
"Aw, no, he can't know about that! If I told Larry about the stealing, he might try to cure me and if he cured me I couldn't afford him anymore! I THINK I COULD REALLY USE THE THERAPY, DON'T YOU??"
"Just a little!" Blossom says, visibly shaking at this point. You think you know somebody. Of course within the same 24 hours Six revealed herself to be a militant homophobe who crashes Baby Boomer rock concerts, and none of that shook her.
Dungarees comes home, Blossom still isn't sure whether to tell
him or not. It has already been settled, though -- he knows
already. Stephanie was successfully guilt-tripped into
confessing, and he broke up with her in response.
Unfortunately, this means he also knows that Blossom knew, and he's not happy she didn't tell him right away.
"Blossom, quit thinking you're gonna shatter me with bad news. I ain't made of glass...I'm not gonna BREAK!" To prove it, he slams his head against the coffee table. He...is off substances, right?
This doesn't resolve everything. Joey steps into the room, in panic mode. Mr. Russo just called to say he's coming home. The car is still impounded, and Joey can't convince anyone older to use their ID to help him out. He spills the entire story to Dangerous Dungarees, who looks....thrilled. This is the opposite of what Blossom did, and he's ecstatic that somebody finally trusted him with bad news!
Buuuuut he can't
go to the police station. "I was a user for four years; the
last person I wanted to see was a cop!"
Blossom points out that this is one reason why people were afraid to tell him the truth to begin with. "If you want to be treated normally, then act normally. Pulling Joey out of this mess would be a good start."
"Well.......uh, I said I CAN'T go; that doesn't mean I WON'T go! Those are two separate things."
man, I owe you a lot."
"Well, I'll tell you why. It's because I can't let Dad down. After all, he DID put me in charge!"
Everyone stares at him.
One transition scene later, Nick Russo is finally home. He plops his body on the couch and asks his boys how they handled things alone.
There's a beat, then they completely crack. "Dad, I drove your car to the mall to impress a girl, and then it got stolen, only it didn't really get stolen, it got towed to the police station because I parked in the Red Zone, and Dangerous Dungarees had to use his Dangerous ID to get it back, and I swear I'll never do anything like this again, I'm going to my room RIGHT NOW for however long you want me to stay there."
"And I found out my girlfriend, Stephanie, was stealing things from our house and using drugs."
There's another beat, then.....
into laughter. "Yours was good, but Joey's was REAL good!
You guys are GOOD!"
"Thanks for the LAUGH! AH HA HA HA!"
"So how was
your week, Blossom?"
"Oh, not nearly as eventful....Six slept over on Monday and that was about it."
"You'd better not be serious, young lady." Mr. Russo's mood completely changes. "How many times have I told you, NO SLEEPOVERS ON SCHOOL NIGHTS!"
|So that is
that. Final verdict? We had a lot of fun tonight. Aren't
you glad you took all your worries and drowned them in a
sweet sundae of early 90's sitcom ignorance?
Blossom is A-OK in my opinionation. I'm not at "make a webcomic out of it" levels of bliss, but I'm intrigued enough to seek out the rest of the Blossoms and see if they hold up to this one. If I had to pick between Urkel's nasally voice, Balki's weird accent and Blossom's dry one-liners, there would be no contest here. She's aged much more gracefully than her peers.
There is plenty to go around. Season Four is a whopping 28 episodes long and I didn't know they were still awarding TV shows with contracts like that past the early 1960's.
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