Ladies and gentlemen, set your DVR and/or Betamax to "record," because this coming Tuesday (February 22) is a "very special episode" of Glee! (Record scratch.) "Hold on there, Wm.™ Steven Hump-Me!" I hear you cry. "Isn't every episode of Glee a 'very special episode?'" Well... okay! You have a point! Glee is basically the Blossom of this millennium—except with more explicit teen sex, gay bullying, and addictions to unnecessary mash-ups.
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 in 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 its "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 drunken 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 SMOKED 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 Berkley) 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 overacting?
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!), MacGyver (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.)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17
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.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18
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.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19
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.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20
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...
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21
8:00 ABC THE BACHELOR
Brad meets the father of one of the contestants, who says, "So, you're the man who gave my daughter herpes."
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22
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.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23
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.)