One of the most popular sitcoms of the 90s was a snazzy little series called Family Matters. The character of Harriette Winslow originally appeared on Perfect Strangers as the elevator operator of Larry and Balki’s at the Chicago Chronicle, which in those days…and probably now, was enough for ABC Network to greenlight a spin-off for Harriette and her family (sadly, the Love-matic Grandpa Simpson was not available).
Think about that for a moment, will you? Someone, someone in a position of power to make such decisions regarding what we, the American viewing public, got to watch on television decided that there was just too much story potential on Perfect Strangers to all be crammed into 30 minutes.
So yeah, Family Matters premiered in 1989 as a show about a middle-class African American family living in the suburbs of Chicago. Seen early on as somewhat of a Cosby Show ripoff, the show plodded along in the ratings, until the arrival of character that would dominate the rest of the series until its cancellation in 1998.
If you did not live through the madness that was Urkel-mania, then you have no idea what it was like.
Jaleel White as the Super Annoying Nerd Steven Q. Urkel was perhaps the most famous television icon of the decade. He had his own t-shirts, a cereal (it’s true, kiddies, though it doesn’t beat Blade’s lesbian cereal), a coloring book (I still have this somewhere), a pull-string talking doll and his own “Do the Urkel Dance“ single that was performed by Jaleel and BEA ARTHUR at the American Comedy Awards.
I know you cannot possibly believe those last nine words to possibly be true, so I present to you this photographic evidence:
But I digress.
As with most long-running sitcoms, there is at least one wrestling-related episode and Family Matters is no exception. This has been a long-requested induction, one RD was obviously too much of a fraidy cat to review (and honestly, who could blame him), but I will dive headfirst into the putridness.
That’s how much I love you kids.
So Eddie and Waldo are sitting on the couch while Eddie flips through a wrestling magazine. After all, who needs girls when ya got yer Wrestling Mags, right guys?
(Note from RD: At least they are both wearing pants. I will have those Young and the Wrestling flashbacks until my final breath.)
Eddie asks Waldo who he thinks the toughest wrestler is.
I’m amazed at this point if Eddie expects an intelligent, well-thought out answer from a guy named Waldo Geraldo Faldo.
After the usual, “play laugh track at anything resembling a joke” answer (and trust me, there’s a heapin’ helpin’ of that on this show), Waldo responds “Hurricane Al”.
I’ve never heard of Hurricane Al before but I’m guessing it’s one of Al Snow’s failed gimmicks that was later kyped by Shane Helms.
Soon enough our erstwhile pair is joined by Eddie’s father, Carl, who recognizes one of the “Psycho Twins” on the back of the WWF Magazine. Waldo says they’re “just the top tag team in the world!”
I dunno, they look like a couple of jobbers in a bad indie-circuit (Tag Team of) DOOM rip-off to *me* but let’s suspend our disbelief for 18 more minutes. Carl says one of them is an old friend from the wrestling team in high school.
Man, just imagine if Carl had stuck with wrestling. With his job as a police officer, he could’ve been The Big Black Bossman!
LICENSE TO PRINT MONEY!!!!!!!
Eddie says they’re defending their tag team titles on Wrestle-rama tonight, which just HAPPENS to be in Chicago. So as they get up to go to the local arena, Urkel barges thru the door to thunderous high-pitched cheers like he’s The Beatles on Ed Sullivan’s show.
See, the Winslows never seem to LOCK THEIR DAMN DOOR, which is odd when you consider the high crime rate in Chicago and the fact irritating havoc-wreaking neighbors can walk right in.
You’d think they would triple deadlock the thing.
Urkel shows them one of his new inventions called “Snooze Juice”, that’s supposed to cure insomnia. After some more laugh tracky goodness, Urkel invites himself to join them at Wrestle-rama.
Why Eddie or Carl doesn’t hurl Urkel into the nearest dumpster and slam the lid shut is beyond me BUT we gotta get the plot moving along so they do not tell him to beat it or inflict bodily harm on him.
There’s also a B-story that lasts about 90 seconds about Ritchie being caught watching his MIA cousin Judy Winslow’s porno tape….or lying to his teacher about his homework.
Eh, you choose which one you’d rather watch. Makes no diff to me.
Carl visits his old buddy Lyle Hopkins at the arena and the two catch up on old times.
Now here’s something that kinda…alright…REALLY annoys me about the episode.
Lyle and his partner are portrayed as nice, regular guys, decidedly un-Psycho-like and not kayfabing their gimmick, when the actual defending of the tag titles is said to be “real”.
Somewhere, Captain Lou is smiling and nodding along.
Lyle shakes hands with Urkel and Urkel sells the handshake. Oh if only his hand was wrapped around Urkel’s neck.
Actually, I have to give credit where it’s due. Urkel does the best selling than I’ve seen on any WWE show in the past 2 years.
Maybe he should head down to FCW and help out Steve Keirn.
Lyle invites them all to the show tonight and the group takes their leave. Lyle finds the “Snooze Juice” that Urkel left behind, so naturally they do what any one of us would do with a bottle we just found sitting on the side: they drink the whole thing up!!! Ah, the innocence of the pre-9/11 world.
And way to break those stereotypes about wrestlers being brainless jocks.
Speaking of stereotypes, the stereotypical weaselly promoter comes out with the water bottle and Urkel reveals to him that’s his snooze juice bottle. The promoter says The Psycho Twins are in the locker room fast asleep and that he’s going to sue Carl and Urkel.
In Soviet Russia, wrestling promoter sue audience members.
Geez, is the roster so damn thin that they can’t replace the Psycho Twins with The Heavenly Bodies or Well Dunn?
On second thought, I’d gladly be sued.
But alas, Carl does not want to have a lawsuit so he offers to make it up to the promoter.
*do the sitcom scene flip*
For an event called “Wrestle-rama”, there seems to be about 40 people in the building at best, which is a better turn-out than the AWA towards the end. The ring announcer says that it’s time for the MAIN EVENT. The Psycho Twins will be defending their Tag Team titles against….
The real sick part is this sounds like the MAIN EVENT for the last WWF house show I went to in 1995.
Ah, I remember the chant like it was yesterday:
“WHERE’S OUR REFUND?”
*clap clap, clap clap clap*
The Bushwackers seem to be the heels in this but that doesn’t stop everyone from doing the Bushwacker walk while Butch takes time to lick an enthusiastic ring rat…ON HER FACE!
ON HER FACE!!!
Carl and Urkel are wheeled out like Sabu in 1993 ECW by two porno nurse valets that have already signed a developmental deal with Johnny Ace, while their entrance theme is the Psycho theme played backwards.
I hope the families of Bernard Hermann and Alfred Hitchcock don’t find out about this, which is extremely likely.
“GET READY FOR THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY!”
Tony Schiavone must’ve taken announcing lessons from this gimboid.
Urkel says The Bushwackers are “light on the bush and heavy on the whackers”. How that line got past the censors is a mystery.
Carl says that the promoter spoke to Luke and Butch before the match and told them what was up so they’re gonna work the match and “they’re gonna make us look great”.
Digest that one, folks. THE BUSHWACKERS….are going to make them “look great”.
The match starts as they exchange headlocks…
…spinning toe holds…
…and the worst hip tosses you will ever see!
Richie is watching the match on TV while two announcers that sound like Howard Cosell (babyface) and Cliff Clavin (heel) call the match.
Now THAT would have been an announce team.
Harriette enters the room and when she sees what’s on the television she’s shocked. “I can’t believe Judy’s taking the whole thing!”
Ok….I’ll stop now.
As Carl has Butch in head scissors, Luke compliments Steve on their in-ring efforts (pffft, HA HA) and asks them what they do for a living. Steve says that Carl is a cop.
WE HATE CAWWPS!!!
IT’S A SHOOT, MATE!!!
Scary “they’re in danger!” music plays in the background as Butch and Luke murder Carl and Steve cause Carl is a BLOODY CAWWP!!!
Aaaand…just because it’s not quite wacky enough, we get a ref bump!
Butch throws Steve into the Eddie and Waldo’s lap while Steve tells them that the Bushwackers are shooting, which results in a fan and garbage pile-up and riot.
Carl and Steve are laid up on the couch and injured (I’d make a Nash joke here but he just got outta the hospital so it’s TOO SOON). Harriette says the promoter called and liked their fan-riot, so he wants them back.
And the show ends.
Ugh, that was a BAD show. Bad for Family Matters and bad for wrestling in general. Just plain bad.
Well, at least it wasn’t the episode of Small Wonder with Jesse Ventura but that is another induction for another time.
Take care, Snowflakes!