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November 25th, 2001

Sorry, No Jo

As promised in last week’s Pings to Do, here is the report on the Facts of Life Reunion shown on ABC last Sunday: it sucked worse than an ultra-powered Hoover.

I was quite psyched at the prospect of Mrs. Garrett returning with her four girls and reliving some memories. Shoot, I would have even dealt with the return of that annoying twit Mackenzie Astin. Instead, what I got was a crap ass Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen script reverse-fitted to a partial Facts of Life cast. Perhaps the worst part was that the movie alluded to the return of Jo Polniaczek at some point late in the movie, but instead delivered only her daughter and husband. I guess Nancy McKeon was too busy with The Division.

I honestly cannot stress how awful this “reunion” was. It would have been easy to please me: put the crew back at Eastland and let them relive some memories while showing how each had matured over the years. But no, instead, the Stamp of Suckfest was emblazened all over this script. Imagine, if you will, Natalie with two boyfriends. The cliched “keep one boyfriend away from the other while trying to date both of them” routine starts things off but degenerates into “the two boyfriends meet and argue about who Natalie will choose and decide to have a competition that ends with the two men in boxers pushing each other.” But nothing, nothing, demonstrates how painfully bad the writing was on this movie more than the line Tootie had when insisting that it would be no problem for Mrs. Garrett to push Thanksgiving dinner up a day (paraphrased): “Sure, Mrs. Garrett can do it. She can do anything! Didn’t you ever watch our show?”

But, as the theme song said, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…” With a steaming pile that even Eisner should be embarrassed by (and tell me, Disney, why remake Brian’s Song? Was the original not emotional enough for you?), there were a few redeeming qualities. Charlotte Rae’s return as Mrs. Garrett was excellent. She had some great lines (“You look even better than your JPG!”) and was even more entertaining than she was on the original show (and who knew she was even still alive?). Blair (with license plate: BLR WTCH) and Tootie both looked good and there was something comforting about seeing Natalie, even though her character was nothing like during the show.

While I’m disappointed with how painfully awful the reunion was, I’m also not totally surprised. After all, it was presented on Sunday night’s “Wonderful World of Disney,” whose only halfway-worthwhile spawn was Mr. Boogedy. Perhaps somewhere down the line, we’ll see a reunion movie that will really bring back some memories… like an ass-baring Ricky Schroder joining up with an ass-baring Joel Higgins in a Silver Spoons reunion. Until then, we’re all left with the collective bad taste of the bad, bad, bad Facts of Life Reunion. Thanks for ruining our memories, Disney. -ram

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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