Saturday, August 1, 2009

After Gorging Yourself on Guacamole

Originally Posted 5-4-08

Super Bowls and M*A*S*H finales are good at bringing in the big numbers, viewers-wise. Of course, Super Bowls come every year and the M*A*S*H finale only happened once. That is, unless you count the final episode of AfterMASH, which you shouldn’t.

A lot of times, networks use the time slot immediately following the Super Bowl to push new shows. Shows like Malcolm in the Middle, The Wonder Years, Davis Rules, and The A-Team had all premiered directly after the Super Bowl and gone on to highly successful runs—except for Davis Rules, which kind of disappeared after a few years. That show featured Mary Jo Hupp and Giovanni Ribisi, who we'll see on Friends later.

If a network has no new series that can be deemed post-Super Bowlworthy, then it pushes their strongest show to get people to watch it. I reference the only episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I have ever seen; the first of a two-parter.

In 1996, NBC followed its telecast of Super Bowl XXX with an hourlong episode of Friends. Not just any hourlong episode of Friends, but one that is swimming with major celebrity guest stars.

Julia Roberts, Chris Isaak, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Brooke Shields—all of whom kiss at least a Friend each. In fact, each Friend gets some high-profile action, except for Ross, who is reunited with Marcel.

I don’t know, if I were Ross, I’d rather make out with a celebrity, except the only star who was actually playing a star was Jean-Claude Van Damme. This is because it’s not wise to stretch the acting mettle of Van Damme beyond playing “Jean-Claude Van Damme,” or “guy standing in the small crowd,” which he masterfully played in Breakin’.

If it weren't for Haing. S Ngor (The Killing Fields), Adolph Caesar (A Soldier's Story), Ralph Richardson (Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes), John Malkovich (Places in the Heart), Pat Morita (The Karate Kid) and a few others, that Oscar nod would have been his.

I should also note that it would be quite the wicked game to refer to Chris Isaak as a “major celebrity star,” but he got the major celebrity star treatment, like the other three in this episode. That is to say that his name was in the credits in the beginning, and he got to get all kissy on Phoebe (in a library, in front of a roomful of children…inappropriate, guys), only for him to disappear without there being a clear established end of the relationship.

In addition to the big stars, are your everyday normal Friends guest stars, like Fred Willard and Dan Castellaneta, playing employees to the zoo where Marcel lived temporarily.

There was also, that kid. You know. The real-life brother of the Sister Sister sisters. Only, this probably wasn’t a “Let’s get him, he’s a star,” deals. It was more like, “We need a kid. Hey, he’s a kid,” things.

In this episode Canadian Triples date took place. Canadian Triples isn’t really a term that exists. Canadian Doubles is what they call it in tennis when two people play against one. A double date, obviously, is when two couples gather for a date. A Canadian Triples date is when there are five people on one date. I mean, what else do you call it when Chandler, Julia Roberts, Joey, Brooke Shields, and Ross are on a date…besides outwardly ridiculous and ripe for comedy?

I find it interesting that in an episode that featured Marcel the monkey, a Canadian Triples date was taking place at a restaurant called Marcel’s.

They probably put that in there for the people who really pay attention. That's probably a waste of energy on their part. I don't feel like I should be rewarded for my attention to detail by means of an in-joke like that.

There were some more momentous events in these episodes. It wasn’t just Candace Gingrich, the half-sister of Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, officiating what was probably prime time television’s first same-sex union ceremony.

Gunther has his first line. I didn’t think to record his debut utterance, but it was literally one line. He has yet to be referred to again, nor has he spoken. He is still dutiful in his serving. He is often engaged in inaudible conversation with patrons, surely describing the Jamaican Blend or the Kenyan…Blend.

Getting back to Carol & Susan’s wedding, when it was announced that they were getting married, the actors had to hold for a good 5-10 seconds for laughter. Grow up, audience members.

So, Ross and Rachel finally kiss. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who cares?

The important thing?

Rachel’s eating friggin’ Mallomars! Mallomars are definitely the thing that I never thought I’d miss from the East Coast that I find I miss. Most other foods, I knew I was going to miss. Mallomars? I want some now. Sadly, even on the East Coast, they’re “off season.” You can only get them in the fall and winter, because the chocolate and marshmallow doesn’t travel well in the summer. Since it doesn’t travel well in general, it’s hard to get them when you’re on on the East Coast, which I must say is saddening.

This art hanging in Monica’s short-time boss—played by Michael McKean—is a little beyond creepy. Very Yellow Submarine, but creepy. As is, what is this a cookie jar?

Yeah, why would you bring such evil into your kitchenette?

Actually, what caught my attention here was the NYNEX phone book. NYNEX was a telephone company in the northeast for a short period of time. Here’s how this went down, as far as I understand it. So, we had AT&T that was everywhere. Then the Justice Department was like, “Uhh, Sherman Anti-Trust Act,” so AT&T had to break up. We had New York Telephone, which was known as a “Baby Bell,” or one of the many smaller companies that were the result of the breakup. Then NYNEX came about after New York Telephone combined forces with a company or two. NYNEX was New York and New England (the ‘x’ was for seXy). Then that got eaten up to become Bell Atlantic. That covered everything from Maine to South Carolina. That gave way to Verizon, which is everywhere. Way to stick to your guns in enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, guys.

Here’s Ross, using his home phone, which looks to be second-hand from Monica and Rachel. Why would Ross, a paleontologist, need to take his sister’s used phone? He’s a lot better off than the waitress and the unemployed chef he got the phone from. If anything, he should be given them his phone.

This is interesting. I believe it’s the first time a cell phone is seen on the show. Rachel borrows it from some guy at a restaurant. I was expecting it to look more comically outdated. Comically outdated like Chandler’s laptop computer.

They couldn’t just leave it at Chandler saying, “Hey look, I’ve got a computer!” No, they had to go into outdated specifics. It’s got a 28.8K bps modem, 50 megabytes of memory AND spreadsheet capabilities. Spreadsheet capabilities? Even at this point, Excel had been coming bundled with Microsoft Office for a couple of years. Personally, I’d be more apt to mention FreeCell before I mention something vague like “spreadsheet capabilities.” I guess it’s what you’d expect from a guy who dresses like this.

In other “fashion” news, I’ve entered Ross’s ‘George McFly’ period.

Other notable guest stars (not after the Super Bowl) was Phoebe’s grandmother played by Audra Lindley.

Better known as Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company. Call me crazy, but I prefer Mr. and Mrs. Roper over Mr. Furley. Always have.

Another notable guest star was David Schwimmer with chin putty.


Oh, the split-screen hilariousness continues as Ross is confronted with Russ, a guy that Rachel dates on the rebound from Ross. However, Schwimmer doesn’t give himself credit.

And I leave you with this gross image.

Chandler is lured into a men’s room stall for what he believes will be a quickie. It’s not the fact that they’re about to have sex in a bathroom stall that icks me out.The woman Chandler is with—played by Julia Roberts—is barefoot in a men’s room stall. Don’t get me wrong; I love being barefoot. I go barefoot whenever I can. Public bathrooms are an across the boards NO! I don’t care how clean it looks.

I don't think I'd want to have a quickie with someone who goes barefoot in a public restroom. If she has this much disregard for keeping her feet germ free, what about other body parts?

Also, what if shit does happen and nine months later there's a baby. There's a chance that my kid would have the gene that makes it not care about being barefoot in a public bathroom. I don't know what the chances are for that, I'd have to do a Punnett Square. It would definitely be predisposed to want quickies in restroom stall, and I'm a little uncomfortable with that.

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