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Masterpiece Youtube: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown

First of all, thank you to everyone who viewed, read, and commented on yesterday’s blog. It was my most viewed blog to date, with 113 visitors and 210 views, personal records for me, including my first visitors from Nebraska (howdy!), Hawaii (aloha!), and Croatia (dobrodosli!)  Hope you continue to hang out and enjoy. And as always, if you have any ideas of current events you’d like my opinion on, stories you’d like to hear, or a new feature, just let me know!

In honor of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (which apparently start in a few hours, at least in Russian time), I’d like to call your attention to something a friend of mine (well, okay, I don’t actually know her, but we’re friends on Facebook and responded to a comment I wrote her once) posted on Facebook. On your mark, get set…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 11: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown, 1994.

Said friend was indeed the Great and Wonderful Julie Brown, who reminded us all of this glorious moment in her career, or at least the glitziest. One of the most underrated comediennes of all time, Julie Brown was unleashed upon the world as a VJ on MTV, hosting her show Just Say Julie, and leading the cast of an unfortunately-cancelled sketch comedy show called The Edge which featured her alongside the likes of Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, and oh yeah, some other chick named Jennifer Aniston. She’s been pretty dormant over the past decade or so, but has come back with a bang. Most of her earlier work is still hanging out on YouTube, and it’s still funny even though the 1990s are not even a twinkle of an eye to today’s teenagers. I had originally planned on doing one huge salute/tribute dedicated to Miss Brown, but since she started it, I’m just going to roll with it.

This song comes from a parody film called National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5 Ft 2 In Women which satirizes the stories of everyone’s favorite penis-chopper Lorena Bobbitt and everyone’s favorite Olympic ice skater rivals, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. If you don’t know either of those stories, stop reading, click over to Wikipedia, and come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the situations, on to the video. We open on Tonya Hardly (played by Brown herself) gliding around her attic in a snazzy black and white sweater and early-90s white floofy scrunchie…oh wait, that’s actually supposed to be her hair. Flash over to the Nancy Kerrigan character being pursued by Tonya in a fit of rage and a dress that could turn Medusa into stone (bonus points to those of you who get that reference!). Her anger-fueled, acid-trip tune turns deadly when she pulls out her “little hammer,” something that I initially thought was just an unusual rhyme, only to realize about fifty re-watches later that it’s a cultural reference to the Olympics in Lillehammer. I’m not quite sure what the significance of the parrot lady is, but Julie Brown’s finest moment in the video is when she bites her lip and takes aim with her gun. Pure, unadulterated, early 90s vengeance. The music turns sweet again as she scrolls through a list of her “idols,” other infamous ladies from the early 1990s. Then, here comes a wrestler with a wheelbarrow of money, for no apparent reason, and then Brown skates around some more, dances a bit on the podium under the American flag, and ends with a triumphant slap to Nancy’s face.

What did I learn from this video? Skating and shooting are two activities that go well together. Skating in the fog is fun and mystical. The girl who plays Nancy has a weird-shaped face. But the most important lesson of all is that Julie Brown is so talented that she can make the world fall in love with Trailer Park Tonya all over again (like they say in those commercials on PBS about the technicolor Shirley Temple Collection).

But seriously, folks…skate at your own risk.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by Winter. Winter: When you go outside and the snot freezes inside your nostrils, that means it’s working.

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Masterpiece Youtube: “I Got You Babe,” Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Bea Arthur

It’s been about a month since I’ve posted one of these, so here goes.

That’s So Jacob presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 7: “I Got You Babe,” Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Bea Arthur (1990)

It’s a sign of the times.

There is something to be said about a performance that captivates you from start to finish, with not a second where you’re not tuned in to the action. This moment is among the best of many that made the 1980s/1990s sitcom The Golden Girls, well…golden. I say “golden” because it was a television series that had about 25 minutes on your screen and made the most of every second. Even though I did not watch this show growing up – I assumed that it was a show for old people, not just about old people – reruns of this show pop up on Nick at Nite or TV Land every now and then, and when they do, I tune in. If you’re reading this, you probably know what the show is about, so I’m not going to waste time explaining that, but I do want to acknowledge what made the show work: the four actresses, each with perfect comedic timing and the exceptionally-written script that soaked up every second of airtime and used it to its fullest potential. Despite the fact that the main characters were all older ladies, the episodes seem young and fresh even today.

A sign of a truly exceptional sitcom is one that is able to draw you in with absolutely no context. If I was flipping through channels and knew nothing of this show, I’d be drawn in by the music, the dialogue, and the oddly-dressed characters. You really don’t need any context to enjoy this scene; it works independently, on its own platform-heeled feet. Which is a good thing, because I’ve completely forgotten the context of what actually happens in this episode. How often does that happen?

Here’s the way I see it.

We open on Betty White (as Rose) sitting at the piano. A tiny woman walks into the room, even if you don’t know that she is Estelle Getty (as Sophia) you know exactly who she’s supposed to be. After a little banter, out comes the resident giraffe, the stately Dorothy, as portrayed by Bea Arthur. The stick-straight black hair looks so out of place on her and as they line up behind the piano, you can’t wait to see what they’ll do. Of course, they launch into Sonny and Cher’s iconic “I Got You Babe,” from the 1960s and the movie Groundhog Day. What solidifies the amazingness of this scene is encapsulated in one word; when Bea Arthur deadpans the word “Babe,” and flips her hair, that’s it for me. If there was ever a “Queen of the Deadpan” competition, Bea Arthur would have it all sewn up. But the scene must go on, and since hearing them finish the song is not that important now that we’ve milked the humor of situation, Rose gets flustered and starts off on a tangent, ending it with – you guessed it – a classic St. Olaf story. Sophia’s comment comparing Rose to Ernest Hemingway wraps it up nicely, and we’re onto the next scene.

I believe that today’s TV shows underestimate the viewer. This scene shows the right amount of “haha” funny and “serious” funny without stuffing it down our throats. These days, TV shows run the jokes into the ground, as if to tell the viewers “Hey! This is funny! Laugh you people!” rather than letting the situation illustrate itself. In interviews, Bea Arthur often said that this was one of her favorite scenes from any of the episodes, ever, and I’m totally down with that. It doesn’t take a lot to process it; just let the magic wash over you and bask in its shiny, fringy glow.

Here’s how Cher felt about The Golden Girls‘ interpretation of her torch song:

Groovy.