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Friday, December 14, 2012

Silver and Golden Girls

It seems hard to believe, but yesterday was the midway point in The Pop Culture Addict's Advent Calendar. It's all downhill from here as we get closer and closer to the big day!

This marks Day #14 of the advent calendar, and since today is Friday, we're going to be looking at a holiday themed television show.

This week, we're going to be doing an episode spotlight on a particular sitcom that ran for seven years on NBC. It's been a while since I've done one of these, and I wanted to choose an episode that really focused on the real meaning of the holiday spirit.

And you know what? I think that I've succeeded in doing exactly that...albeit in a non-traditional manner.

First, let's discuss the show a little bit.

Last year, I already talked a little about the television series “The Golden Girls”, when I did a character spotlight on Blanche Devereaux (played by the late Rue McClanahan). But this time around, I'll be looking at the whole cast, which also included the late Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, the late Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, and the very much alive Betty White as Rose Nylund.

It seems hard to believe that a show about four elderly women sharing a home in Miami, Florida would last seven years (it ran from 1985-1992). I honestly don't know if the show would have lasted had it debuted during any other time period. Yet, for some reason the show just seemed to click. The four main members of the cast worked incredibly well together with undeniable chemistry, and the writing was top-notch. I'll even admit to being a huge fan of “The Golden Girls”, especially now that I am adult and I can understand the meaning of the jokes and punchlines a little better.

So, I really wanted to put the focus on a particular episode of this program for the holiday season, and in this case, I couldn't think of a better episode to spotlight than the very first Christmas episode of “The Golden Girls”.

The episode was entitled 'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas, and it originally aired on December 20, 1986. And guess what? I found it online! Just click on the link below, and spend the next twenty-four minutes and forty-eight seconds watching it. Go on. Click on the link and watch it. I'll wait.

Okay, now that you've watched it, we can discuss it. And even if you haven't, we're going to discuss it anyway. Just don't get too upset at me for spoiling it for you, because you were warned.

It's Christmastime in Miami again, and it looks like everybody is making preparations to spend time with their families. Rose is flying back out to St. Olaf, Minnesota to spend the holidays with her family. Dorothy and Sophia are planning to spend Christmas in New York City. And, I'm not sure where Blanche is going, but wherever she was headed off to, I'm sure she would have fun. After all, she seemed to have a lot of fun with Santa Claus!

And, yes, Blanche would actually hit on a Santa Claus. Heck, she'd hit on the Easter Bunny if she felt he was attractive enough for her out-of-control libido!

But with all the preparations that everyone is doing, it seems that all of the girls are having their own problems with the holiday. Dorothy is not impressed by the idea that Christmas has gotten incredibly commercialized and feels that everyone has forgotten the real meaning of the holiday. Sophia, on the other hand, is all about buying gifts and presents for everybody else...even if it meant borrowing Dorothy's credit card to do it. And Blanche just seems sort of preoccupied with getting lucky...though to be fair, she is like this the other 364 days of the year.

Oh, and Rose's St. Olaf stories drive everyone crazy as usual.

But Rose does come up with a brilliant idea. She talks about a tradition that she used to take part in when she was growing up in St. Olaf about how they exchanged handmade gifts instead of buying them. Dorothy is all for the idea, thinking that it was a great way to display what the holidays were really all about...until she ended up getting her gift.

A wooden maple syrup spigot...which Dorothy remarked would come in handy...if she were ever lost in the woods with a stack of pancakes.

(Gotta say, I love the one-liners of this show the best!)

Of course, Blanche's present to the rest of the girls isn't much better...a 12-month calendar of all the men that she...well...had relations with during all of 1986. Apparently Mr. September's pose was rather scandalous, though we viewers never see why...and honestly I'm all right with that.

Still, it was a nice enough party, and on Christmas Eve, the women are all ready to head to their destinations to spend Christmas with their families. But before that can happen, Rose has to finish her shift at the crisis center where she works. And on Christmas Eve, Blanche and Dorothy (who have come upstairs to wait for her to wrap up her shift) end up getting to know the clients of the office which include a pathological liar and a man who has an unhealthy obsession with matches.

And to top it all off, Santa Claus (not the same one that Blanche was lusting after, but a different one) barges into the crisis center with a bag of presents and a handgun, holding everyone hostage!

TRIVIA: The Santa with the gun was played by Terry Kiser, who also played a rather stiff role a couple of years after filming this episode...he played the role of Bernie in the movie “Weekend at Bernie's”!

Turns out that “Santa” is a little bit tired of spending the holidays alone, and since he used the services of the crisis center before, he figured that by holding everyone hostage at the place where he felt most happy, he could generate his own magical Christmas. The problem was that Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy were not too keen on missing their flights back home to entertain a Santa who has had an obvious mental breakdown. Rose, in particular, is uncharacteristically curt with the man, and says the following to the man after he tries to give her a present.

We don't want your presents!”

SANTA: “But, it's Christmas!”

Not for us, you've ruined our Christmas!”

DOROTHY: “Rose...”

I'll handle this, Dorothy. I'm not surprised that you always spend Christmas by yourself, You know why? Because you don't know what Christmas is all about! People don't owe you a nice Christmas because you decided that's what makes you happy. You can force us to stay here all night, but I'll be damned if you're going to force us to celebrate the most joyous holiday of the year with you!”

Wow. That was quite impressive, wasn't it? Too bad Santa is holding a loaded gun...

...which gets taken out of Santa's hands by an upset Sophia who is upset over having to wait outside in the car like a “dachshund”. And then Sophia gets upset that Dorothy can't tell the difference between a real gun and a toy gun (Santa was holding the latter). And then Dorothy and Blanche gets upset because they were fooled into thinking that the gun was real. And then Santa gets upset because he realized that everything that Rose was telling him about himself was the truth.

Needless to say, Rose, Dorothy, Sophia, and Blanche manage to make it to the airport with just minutes to spare, and they all hug each other goodbye as they board their flights...

...and then five minutes later, it's New Years Day and they all come back home.

Just kidding.

What REALLY happens is that a storm system passes over Miami, effectively grounding all flights out of Miami on Christmas Eve.

As a result, the women are forced to spend Christmas Eve at a diner. They're upset and depressed over missing their opportunity to go back home on Christmas. They do manage to befriend the man who is running the diner, and he does offer them their favourite cheesecake dessert, but all four of them are too depressed to eat them. The women later explain to the man that they were unable to go home for Christmas to spend time with their families, and the man seemed shocked because he thought all four of them were family, as they all got along so well and were really close.

(Well, he WAS half right, as Sophia and Dorothy are mother and daughter.)

But his observation ended up making all of them rethink everything. To them, it didn't matter where they were. What mattered was that they were together and they were enjoying each other's company. That was what Christmas was all about.

And it's interesting how the Christmas spirit can spread when one is doused in it. For when all four women end up having their realization, they tell the man to go home and spend Christmas with his family...they would run the diner while he was gone. There's even a little bit of a Christmas miracle at the end of the episode...something that almost never happens in Miami!

Now, don't you agree that this was a lovely Christmas episode to watch?

Unfortunately, I can't make the same claim for Day #15. Tomorrow we feature a holiday special so depressing, my poor sister had to beg my mom to change the channel midway through!

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