Monday, November 22, 2010

Favorite Episodes: Growing Pains

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Growing Pains
was kind of a big deal for a long time, I think. It was in reruns forever (or so it seemed) on multiple networks (not too many), and once Leonardo DiCaprio became a big deal, it really kinda came to the headlines again. Now, that was already more than ten years ago (can you believe that??), but I still think the show is pretty good, despite the fact that it shows up fairly rarely on this site.

The premise (in the event you're not familiar with this family sitcom from the 80s-90s) is a psychiatrist and a journalist with three children. They've always tried to arrange it so one parent can work at home, which is a contention point a few times throughout the run of the show. The oldest, Mike, is a chronic underachiever. Carol is a brainiac. Ben is a schemer. And Chrissy, who is born a couple seasons into the show and rapidly-aged, is your cute little kid, really. No steady neighbors or close friends (Boner joins the Marines and we never hear from him again), though Luke joins the family in the final season as a foster child of sorts (and this photo is from the final season, so he is included). Now, on to the favorites!

Season 1: "Reputation" (S01E19): Mike really wants to pass a history test, so he writes answers on the soles of his shoes. Ben catches him in the act, and Mike explains that "Appomattox Courthouse" is a black friend of his, "captain of the basketball team." However, when he puts his feet on a desk at school, the answers become apparent to everyone, and everyone things Mike cheated (when, in fact, he ended up not needing to). Jason and Maggie aren't sure if they should believe him, and in the end, Mike ends up re-taking the test wearing just his underwear, LoL. Part 1 | Part 2

Season 2: "The Long Goodbye" (S02E21): The Seavers have had the same handyman for years, and he's starting to make more mistakes. The family has had it with his slow and clumsy ways, but Jason lobbies for the old guy, until he doesn't save a document on his laptop and the handyman cuts the power. This episode is particularly interesting because Ben is making a video for school and we see things mostly through his eyes. Whole Episode

Season 3: "This is Your Life" (S03E10): Ben is in the hospital for a tonsillectomy, and is pretty scared that something will go wrong. While he's under anesthesia he imagines that he goes home, only to find that the family has replaced him with another Ben. It's pretty memorable, as boring as it sounds, LoL. Whole Episode

Season 4: "Second Chance" (S04E20): Again, Ben is rocking the video camera. But the main part of the plot focuses on Carol, who finds out that her boyfriend, Sandy, was in a bad car accident. She and her parents go to the hospital to see him, and though he was okay then, he dies before she gets home. This is a really sad storyline, and I was weirded out that Carol thought that Mike would joke about that sort of thing. Whole thing, but not the best quality.

Season 5: "Ben & Mike's Excellent Adventure" (S05E15): Ben needs glue for a school project, so he and Mike go out to buy some. But they end up chasing some girls, running into the principal, allowing their parents to delay them, and more. It's kinda cute, tho it worried me that Ben would be getting such a late start on his project, LoL. Whole Episode

Season 6: "Let's Go Europe (1)" (S06E09): Jason and Maggie go on an anniversary trip to France, which is a package that they bought from Mike, now a travel agent. However, when they get to the airport, the family finds out the Mike is also going abroad, having earned a free trip due to his sales. Mike's tour gets off on the wrong foot, and Maggie getting appendicitis make for some awful starts to their respective trips. I'm a sucker for vacation episodes, LoL. Whole episode, decent quality.

Season 7: "B=MC2" (S07E12): Ben is trying to prepare for AP exams, but overhears a sarcastic comment of Jason's and thinks it's true: Ben's nothing more than a dummy. Meanwhile, dorky neighbor Dwight and Carol start to have feelings for one another, which only half-sounds like a match made in heaven, but ultimately doesn't go as one would think. Whole Episode
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