HOWEVER! This week's episode in particular hearkens back to the golden age of "very special episodes" because it deals with the subject of "teenage drinking." Now I'm not here to take a stand on this controversial issue - mainly because I pay my high school interns with wine coolers. (Apparently they use it for "braising chicken and poaching pears." They also claim to prefer cooking with Bartles and Jaymes "Fuzzy Navel" in particular for it's "herbaceous undertones." Whatever, kids! I'm a little too drunk to give a shit!!)
Where was I? OH YEAH! While "teen drinking" is a classic trope in "very special episode" history (Remember Tom Hanks as Alex P. Keaton's drunk uncle Ned in Family Ties? Or Urkel getting poop-faced with spiked punch in a "very special" Family Matters?), there are much better ethical quandaries to resolve. Here's how a few classic TV shows dealt with 'em:
Saved by the Bell - These high school drips had so many ethical dilemmas, they could start an... an... ethical dilemma 99 cent store, or something. Remember when the gang finally met their favorite actor, only to discover he SMOKES POT? (Actors these days rarely smoke dope as it interferes with their cocaine snorting time.) Or the time Zack's pet duck Becky was killed by an oil spill? (In fairness, Becky was asking for it.) And who can forget the classic episode in which Jessie (Showgirls' Elizabeth Berkeley) becomes addicted to caffeine pills? ("I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so... so scared!") Goddammit. Why do they never hand out Emmys for over-acting?
Diff'rent Strokes - Here's another great series that squirted out an impressive number of "very special episodes," like Arnold and Willis being excluded from a fancy school due to racism (BOOO, RACISM!!), or sister Kimberly's sudden descent into bulimia (BOOO, BULIMIA!!), or the one where pedophile bike shop owner Gordon Jump (from WKRP in Cincinnati) tried to molest Arnold! (BOOO, GORDON JUMP, WKRP, AND PEDOPHILIA! Oh... AND BIKE SHOP OWNERS!!!)
And lest we forget, there were also "very special episodes" of Punky Brewster (Don't climb into abandoned refrigerators!), McGyver (Don't kill rare black rhinos in Africa!), Boy Meets World (Don't join a cult!), Growing Pains (Don't offer Kirk Cameron drugs at a party!), Mr. Belvedere (Don't get Alzheimer's!), Walker Texas Ranger (Don't get racism, AIDs, or sexism!), Good Times (Don't get VD and subsequently an overbearing lecture from a then-unknown Jay Leno!), and 7th Heaven (Don't start "cutting"! Unless you're cutting off this really horrible show.)
So while watching Glee this week, be sure to also raise your glass to the sweeping history of "very special episodes" that came before it. (Except you, interns! Because "TEENS SHOULDN'T DRINK!" Unless you're braising. Or poaching.)
Tonight on a "very special" email... firstname.lastname@example.org
8:00 NBC COMMUNITY Troy finally meets his idol (and yours) LeVar Burton! EEEEEEEE!!!
9:00 NBC THE OFFICE Michael debuts his long-awaited film, Threat Level Midnight to a largely unappreciative audience.
8:00 CW SMALLVILLE Lois encourages Clark to get a disguise to protect his identity - not a blonde wig with fishnet stockings.
10:00 IFC ONION NEWS NETWORK The Onion team reports on a drone plane on trial for being too murder-y.
10:00 SCI AN IDIOT ABROAD Karl Pilkington visits Egypt - oh, so that's what originally caused all the protests!
11:30 NBC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE A repeat hosted by the wildly attractive Paul Rudd, and the somewhat less attractive Paul McCartney.
9:00 NBC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE BACKSTAGE A peek behind the scenes of an average taping of Saturday Night Live - and maybe Jon Hamm with his shirt off? Hmmmm?
9:00 HBO BIG LOVE Bill faces a Mormon boycott of his stores - who I'm pretty sure boycotted this column years ago...
8:00 ABC THE BACHELOR Brad meets the father of one of the girls, who says, "So, you're the man who gave my daughter herpes."
8:00 FOX GLEE In this "very special episode," Figgins lectures the kids on the dangers of alcohol. (Like, never buy it for interns!)
9:30 FOX TRAFFIC LIGHT Mike meets a sexy female colleague who's a little too much like him.
8:00 CW AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL Season premiere! The new gaggle of models are instructed to climb inside a huge hamster ball. Let the humiliation begin!
9:00 CW SHEDDING FOR THE WEDDING Debut! Overweight couples compete to lose pounds before their wedding day. (I give their marriages two years tops.)