October 23rd: Family Matters

Brought to you by Big Peanut Brittle.

Hey, we all know...

Family Matters

We know it, we love it, we bought the "Do The Urkel" cassingle, we worry about what happened to their youngest daughter. In the annals of Miller-Boyett Productions, the Winslow Family reigns right up there with the Tanner Cult, taking their mantle of feel-goodery and carrying it ever-onward into a new age of Urkel-based multiple-personalities and busting on a dimwitted young man named Waldo Geraldo Faldo.

Yeah, the show got really weird towards the end, moving from a pleasant family-thing into a visiting-neighbor-all-the-time-thing, and well... here we are, still wondering what happened. But in the beginning there was near-normalcy, and despite their future Halloween eps, it is in the beginning that we shall indulge.

Space: Chicago, IL
Time: October 26th, 1990
Episode: "Dog Day Halloween" Season 2, Episode 7

As we knock on the front door of the Winslow Family's abode, we are confronted with Eddie completely pulling off his Frankenstein-look:

He and his jackass buddy, Don King, are headed out for trick-or-treat, but (would you believe it?) it appears the lads are more interested in the tricks, as they are busted with several eggs and rolls of toilet paper. And soap, which is a prank I've never understood, as it seems almost helpful - it's almost like mowing somebody's lawn and thinking, 'That'll show em...'

Anyway, you can't pull a fast one on Carl and Harriet, especially when they, like so many families (and their matters) of the era, are so on top of what the barometric pressure is like outside.

This whole time, we've just been waiting for the party arrive, and arrive he does: Steve Urkel. This popular American icon shows up and does not disappoint, laughing and snorting and punning his way through the scene, even busting out the ol' peanut brittle springy-snake routine:

Yes, Officer Winslow, the ever-alert watchman of peace throughout Cook County, falls for the dumbest trick in the book. As though anyone is after peanut brittle ever, let alone Halloween. Wake up, Carl! Laura's loving it though, isn't she?

Needless to say, as the evening winds its way along, Laura, dressed as Tina Turner, and Steve, dressed like - well, this:

...end up at a bank together for some reason. I know Steve has to cash his paycheck, just as I know Steve has to dance (Steve Urkel dancing in the early-90s was as sure-fire a thing as Fonzie going 'Heyyyy'), and he does both with his paycheck-dance, but I don't recall why Laura was there with this person she so utterly loathed.

But before we're able to linger on this oddity (Laura, just say you don't want to see him!), we have a trope we need to exhaust; yes, according to the laws of sit-coms, if a bank is introduced in the first act, it must be held hostage in the second. Matters (as I'm taking to calling it) does not disappoint, and within seconds, an Abe Lincoln enters and holds everyone at gunpoint.

Hilarity ensues as Steve is chosen as the robber's familiar, and he is tasked with getting the cash behind the counter into the bag. Urkel being Urkel, he fucks this up big time.

Let us now pay tribute to young Jaleel White, the Shia LeBeouf of his day, and a performer who was almost freakish in the accuracy of his timing and physical comedy beats. He was very, very good at being Steve Urkel, if only because he was so weird. This weirdness can sometimes be off-putting, but in this case it becomes compelling, and you just can't take your eyes off it. So, cheers to you, Jaleel - your rubbery, crotch-centric dancing will live on forever in the syndication of our hearts.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, a snapshot of life in 1990:

Yes, that's elusive daughter, Judy, dressed as Janet Jackson during her tour of duty as Vice Admiral of the Rhythm Nation, and lil Ritchie as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Wow, did they ever nail 1990. Ritchie dishes out a 'cowabunga" and we lap it up like cats at a milk saucer, pleased that the 1980s have finally drawn to a close, and eager to start this new decade of pizza, ninjas, and skateboards.

Anyway, would you believe that Carl is the cop who gets to save the day back at the bank-situation? With the peanut brittle snakes no less? It's true! Why, this episode would hardly be the classic it is if some random officer showed up instead - that's just good writing! Just look at this man's face as he takes down the bad guy like a boss:

You go, Carl! And you go too, Steve - back to your house and out of Laura's life. And you too, Judy Janet Jackson - you go to your room in the fourth season and don't come out until, well, ever!