Category Archives: “Family Matters”

Sit-Com Stars in Hallmark Movie

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On another post, we had just been talking about 1989, when a few

of our favorite funny situation comedies originated. I could not

believe my ‘luck’ when I turned on the Hallmark Channel to find a

movie with a catchy title, “The Christmas Con.” There is an ensemble

cast of six famous actors from more than six situation comedies.

They show their talent and  versatility in this meaningful Hallmark

movie.

 

I will sketch the plot in, along with giving you the ‘who’s who’ of t.v.

series actors. If you are a fan of television trivia games, you may be

able to ‘keep up with me,’ in this essay about performers who have

been around television for years: one since 1982. Although the title

isn’t very pretty nor the story as simple as some Hallmark Christmas

movies are, it tells a meaningful story of hope and forgiveness.

 

There is a collection of outstanding, amusing actors who played

character parts in this story of ‘redemption.’ The movie has two

characters, an ex-convict who needs to change his way of dealing

with people, passing through his life ‘taking’ and never ‘giving.’ The

second character must face his addiction, he has to fall flat on his

face, embarrass himself, go to jail and then, find his way home.

 

The actor who plays the character of an alcoholic man, came from a

caring family, dramatic show, “Party of Five.”  My two daughters loved

the whole cast of this show. They would know this man who later left

this show to play an irascible red-headed doctor.  Although, you may

or may not,  have known the popular teenaged-cast of “Party of Five,”

he was, “Will Mc Corkle.” Then you may have seen him as the red haired

“pain in the butt” doctor from the serious show, “E.R.”  This character

was the head of the “E.R.” as, Dr. Archie Morris. “Archie” was disliked by

most everyone, (nurses and the E.R. hospital staff) which showed quite

a range of talent in this role played by Scott Grimes. It was nice to have

known him as a likable man in the first show, then respect his portrayal

of a ‘by the books’ doctor who sometimes went ‘head to head’ with John

Stamos, who played another type of character on “E.R.” Scott Grimes

went from “E.R.” to act in a few television movies, along with another

series, “Band of Brothers.”

Interestingly enough, Scott Richard Grimes made a ‘soft rock and roll’

album, (also described as  ‘popular rock’) called, “Sunset Boulevard.” He

wrote all of the songs and sang them, too. I have not checked this out

but it was favorably reviewed, in its genre.

 

Then there was the character of the  endearing ex-convict with a ‘heart

of gold,’ who plays Santa Claus, making a promise he nearly is unable to

keep for the son of the red-headed man. Scott Grime’s plays a father/

ex-husband who is unfortunately battling alcoholism. His son asks Santa

Claus to bring his mother and father back together again for Christmas.

 

Santa promises to bring this estranged father back ‘into the fold,’ becoming

part of the trio the boy considers his ‘family.’ The ex-con is played by Barry

Watson, who both my daughters had major ‘crushes’ on, while he was the

oldest son in a family of seven members being raised by a minister, known

as, “Seventh Heaven.” Barry Watson left “Seventh Heaven,” to battle in his

own personal ‘real life drama,’ Hodgkins Disease. My family, son included,

had Barry in our prayers for a few years. His attractive long-haired look in

the family show changed to a gaunt, bald look when he was interviewed

during this period of time. The producers allowed him to ‘spread his wings,’

by being behind the camera, in his writing plots and helping set up scenes.

 

There is a memorable scene, in The Christmas Con,” which paints a fairly

accurate picture of an A.A. meeting, where Scott Grimes’ meets Santa Claus,

out of costume. I feel capable of analyzing this subject, due to my own personal

experience of being married to an alcoholic, having attended one year of A.A.,

two years of Alanon, and taking my three children to Children of Alcoholics

meetings.

 

The man who is Santa/Barry’s best friend is played by, Jaleel White, who

portrayed the dorky, inept character named, “Steve Urkel,” in “Family

Matters.” His character has mended his ways of conniving and trying to

trick others, while also being a good and supportive friend to Barry’s

character. He gets to also romance Barry’s ‘sister,’ in the movie, using his

charming demeanor. He looks ‘nothing’ like Steve Urkel, has grown into

a handsome man.

 

John Ratzenberger’s in the cast of this Hallmark movie, playing a Grandpa,

and you know where he came from?  “Cheers,” where he was “Cliff Clavin,”

the mailman, the one who sometimes kept the bar stool warm for hours.

He was the stocky man’s (“Norm’s”) best friend, “where everyone knew

their names.” This series lasted from 1982 -1993. No wonder we felt these

actors were part of our family! John R. went on to make a few different

television movies, played guest character roles on shows and my ‘grandies’

love him in such familiar children’s animated films as the “Toy Story” series,

“Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars,” where he plays (‘voices’) a rusted-out truck.

 

Another familiar character, where you may wonder, “Where have I seen

this attractive black woman before?” She has a unique character part,

as a female preacher in a church.  By the end of the story, you realize this

does not exist. It is a boarded up church, having been condemned. The

recognizable woman, who you don’t immediately ‘place’ or figure out

where she came from, is  talk show hostess, Wendy Williams. She ends

up being a fantastic singer, when she is caroling with church folks in a

neighborhood. I felt she was the Guardian Angel for Barry’s ex-convict

character.

 

The last famous displaced series player, is the actress, Melissa Joan Hart.

You got to know her as a teenaged witch in “Sabrina the Teen Age Witch,”

if you had children in the 90’s. (This ran seven years, 1996-2003.) Along

with Melissa’s more current role on  the show, “Melissa and Joey.” In the

Family Channel show, she is a town councilwoman and Joey (Lawrence)

is playing her ‘stay at home’ Nanny/Housekeeper. Can you believe Joey

was on The Johnny Carson Show, singing at age 5 years old? He is NOT

in this Hallmark movie, but was in one with Melissa Joan Hart, a few

Christmases ago.

(Yes, the plot for “Melissa and Joey,” resembles the one of “Who’s the

Boss?”)

 

Melissa’s character believes in her brother, the man who has just been

released from prison. You don’t feel he was a dangerous criminal and

are sympathetic to his character. (He had been a ‘grifter’ or ‘con artist,’

hence the name of the movie…)

Melissa and Barry make a believably good sister and brother team.

Melissa Joan Hart debuted as the director of this movie, which is a

new position for her to be in.

 

When Jameel’s character meets Melissa, he shows his debonair side,

which eventually they become close and they make a ‘cute couple.’

Their characters go about playing the ‘normal’ fantasy of carrying out

Christmas routines, as they decorate Melissa’s house, listen to Santa/

Barry’s quandary. Both Jaleel’s buddy character and Melissa’s sister

character cheer for the miracle of fixing the nearly irreparable marriage

and family together again.

 

Yes, I told you part of the ending.

The journey makes it worth watching.

The cast of recognizable people who have become part of our ongoing

landscape of television. Those people who come into our living room,

visit and stay awhile. They become more familiar than big screen

actors.

There are a few ‘surprises’ and twisting turns leading you to the

expected and satisfying ending. I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t

know since almost all of these movies come out ‘safe and sound.’

 

Hopefully, instead you will want to watch this more. Since it is the

way they handle the simplistic story, how they fulfill their duties as

characters which will help you admire Scott Grimes, Jaleel White,

Barry Watson, Melissa Joan Hart, John Ratzenberger and Wendy

Williams. In my mind, this is an ‘All Star Cast’ of television experts.

 

This is a treat to see, savor and remember. It shows me Christmas is

a time for all possibilities imaginable to come true.

 

Recent Stuff, (Including 1989 T.V. Shows)

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I had my two grandsons overnight, we went out to look at the Dec.

13, 2014 Geminid Meteor Showers at 9 p.m. and were a little unsure

of whether we were looking in the correct direction. The meteor

showers were located behind the Gemini constellation, (the “twins”).

We saw more brightness there, but since we were relying on our

own eyesight, we were not able to see the radiating yellow flashes.

It is always fun to walk over to Ohio Wesleyan campus and go to the

center of the circle of the original buildings made of blue limestone

from Delaware’s old quarry.

 

We came home and put our pajamas on to play ‘flashlight’ Hide

‘n Seek. I have a few ‘tricks’ up my sleeve, while the two boys hide

in the bathroom to “Count to 20.” I am getting rather good at

figuring ways to make myself small to hide under things and

behind them, too.

 

They walked right past me, flashing their lights at the bed, while

not looking behind the door. Another time, I rearranged the toy

chest location, making myself  hidden by covering up with a soft

blanket behind an upholstered chair. Their vision played tricks

on them, thinking no one was there, the toy chest blocking me

behind it.

The boys favorite surprise hiding place was in the kitchen, a

narrow ‘closet’ where I keep my small upright vacuum cleaner.

Skyler quickly hid this item in my front closet under some coats.

Micah stood in the back flattening himself, then Sky closed the

door, using the edge of my Christmas apron that hangs on the

doorknob to this narrow closet to pull it closed from the inside.

I actually have never found both of them in there together, so I

circled my one bedroom apartment a few times. I was puzzled

and one of our ‘last resorts’ is to ask for a vocalized response,

“Are you still here?” I heard the muffled voice of Sky, saying,

“Yeah.”

Their other favorite ‘team hiding place’ is my bedroom closet

where there is a small dresser on either side of the closet. They

shut the door on either end, climbing up on each respective

dresser. One hides behind my clothes while the other one hides

behind the wedding dress, flower girl and bridesmaids’ dresses.

I guess by the time my oldest daughter has decided to marry,

the dresses will need to be pressed or steamed…

The kids giggle while they hide in ‘plain sight’ under blankets,

since it is a silly companionship moment, where I say such things

as, “Who in the world would ever just hide in a blanket in the

middle of a room, don’t they worry their old Nana will step on

them? Is this short body, Skyler, all drawn up into

himself or my little Micah?”

 

If you look in the area of the Gemini constellation, you may

have one more night of sightings of the yellow, golden flashes.

Good luck and hope you have binoculars! I hope you get a

chance to see this and let me know about this beautiful

experience.

 

In 1989, a few series of quirky, wacky and fun shows were

initiated. One ended up lasting 25 years, one introduced us

to a strange pre-teenager who wore pants that showed his

socks or ankles, (we used to call these pants, “high water,”)

and another helped us to believe in geniuses who could

carry out a professional job. There is one in the bunch which

was all about ‘everyday’ and discussion about ‘nothing.’

These shows came on the television screen 25 years ago:

 

1. “The Simpsons” was a show I watched with my children.

I supervised this show, which over all had a “Dennis the Menace”

message. Where lessons of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices were actually

shown but in such a way, there are a vast number of people who

despised the show and others who watched this one for famous

people caricatured but voicing their own character.  There is a

PG-13 video game where it is not a positive force for children,

where points may be earned by being ‘bad.’

 

The thing is, my son pointed out, it is like acting out their

thoughts of disliking other kids, usually the ‘bullies.’ I do

not judge this show, since I have laughed out loud and have

enjoyed famous guests on it. Nor would I say I was a ‘perfect’

parent, since I knowingly let my son and his best friend go

to the multi-plex with other babysitting kids and they went

to the next theater to watch Will Smith and Martin Lawrence

in a rated R movie. They were probably 14 and 12, at the time.

I did clear this with the other boy’s parents, and Mick was also

allowed to sneak into “Bad Boys.” They later, when it came out,

were allowed to see, “Bad Boys 2” but this was in 2003, so Jamie

was 22 and Mick was 20. The way I look at it, ‘you pick your

battles in parenting.’

 

2. “Seinfeld” came out in 1989 to much success, it lasted quite some

time with its simple plots but complicated characters. I liked the

main characters, while sometimes I did not always appreciate

the way some ‘bad’ habits carried on throughout the series, no

real signs of ‘growth and development.’ Many special episodes

are memorable, ones with parents involved, dating and parties,

the Chinese restaurant waiting in line, the shopping multiple

level parking lot and the final episode in jail. While I liked

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in this show, I completely enjoyed the

one where she was in her own show, “The New Old Christine

Show.” It was hilarious, since she had a funny brother, a coworker

and partner in running the gym, where you never saw her or

Wanda Syke’s using the gym equipment.

 

3. “Family Matters” was a family show where we actually would

schedule our bedtime routine around, baths and snacks before

watching it, then reading a book before going to sleep.  Carrie

was 9, Jamie was 7 and Felicia was 4 years old. It was one of our

favorite shows. There were times we would discuss the character,

Urkel’s ineptness, clumsiness and not fitting into school, too. It

had heartfelt acceptance at the core of this show.

 

4. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” had mostly ‘accidental’ laughs,

ones where some family member was videotaping another, a pratfall

or something would occur, the inevitable guffaws would follow. My

own children liked to play their own ‘home version’ where they would

get the babysitting kids to create a scripted sequence, while I was

doing laundry or cooking lunch, on a snow day. They would invited me

to be their ‘guest’ and witness the carefully planned ‘accidents.’ It is

one of my fondest memories of my children, so I am thankful for this

long-lasting show.

 

5. “Doogie Howser Show” had a young professional physician, where the

ensemble cast helped to create this amusing show. It was one where

there were problems, time spent solving them and sometimes a few

tears shed when challenges got the best of the patient or doctor. Would

you trust someone so young? I may believe he would be more current

than an older doctor, but this was a constant question in clients’ minds.

I still enjoy Neil Patrick Harris, wherever he performs, in a show or as

a host. He is quite witty and never unkind in his comments. I feel he

‘radiates’ a child-like and friendly ‘boy next door’ quality.

 

6. “Cops” started in 1989 and I have never watched this. I feel the plot

of real life is definitely a good source of ‘stranger than fiction’ stories.

 

This quintet is a ‘mixed bag,’ with my favorite one being “Family Matters.”

I did not list the actors and actresses in this, since my grandson is now

finished with an hour of playing games with “SpongeBob Square Pants”

and checking out the Columbus Zoo website. He felt the baby bonobo

was “so cute” and the stingrays in the reef photographs were “scary”

and “interesting.” He told me he would like to go home and play video

games with Skyler, now. Micah allowed me to type out this post, but

it is being published:

“As Is!”

P.S. Micah is watching me type out his name and wishes me to tell

you the movie we watched was about Dinosaurs that Walked the

Earth and was “really, really good!” He said the best part of the

movie was when the main character, Satchi, saves his brother.