The Trouble with Larry Exhumed!

Last week I took a detailed look at every single episode of The Trouble with Larry, the worst sitcom I’ve ever seen. It was painful, but there were only three episodes so I didn’t think it was quite painful enough.

This week, I’m reviewing the three episodes that never made it to air. That’s right, these episodes weren’t even worth airing after CBS paid for them. Surely they must be good!

And that’s not all. Just as I have obtained the complete script for a lost episode of ALF, I have managed to get a hold of a script for an unproduced episode of The Trouble with Larry. It’s called “Pinata Full of Bones,” it’s written by Charlie Kaufman(!), and there’s a mummy in it.

I cover that as well, so be sure to check it out.

Closer to home, I’m hard at work on this year’s Rule of Three, in which I take a look at three related comedy films beginning April 1. That’s one week from today, so be sure to come back then to read about some things that are marginally better than The Trouble with Larry.

The Trouble with Larry Reviewed!

In 1993, just after Perfect Strangers ended forever, Bronson Pinchot starred in a new show called The Trouble with Larry. It was cancelled in about the time it took you to read that sentence, so the odds are good that you missed it.

I know I did. I adored Perfect Strangers as a kid and definitely remember commercials on CBS trying to get me to watch The Trouble with Larry, but I never got the chance. It ran for only three weeks and disappeared forever, leaving a legitimate fascination behind in my mind.

There isn’t much information about The Trouble with Larry on the internet. I can confirm it existed, find the episode titles, and…that’s about all, really.

What was this show? Could it really have been so bad CBS needed to delete it from the schedule before anyone accidentally saw it? Why does nobody talk about it, even as a punchline?

Well, in the year of our lord 2019, I set out to answer these questions. Or to say cursewords about the show and take funny screengrabs. Mainly that.

I have reviewed every episode of The Trouble with Larry in a two-part series. The first part, covering the episodes that actually aired, is available right here, and the second part will post next week.

As this show is linked inextricably in my mind with the end of Perfect Strangers, and as I don’t want this crap on my site, check it out on Perfect Strangers Reviewed. There are even links to watch along, but seriously, don’t do that.

Anyway, yeah, I wrote 9,000 words about a show almost nobody knows existed with another 9,000 to follow next week so go read those things and convince me I shouldn’t be disgusted with myself.

Urgent: A lost episode of ALF has been discovered!

This is not a drill, a joke, or a trick. I have in my possession a complete and very real script for a never-produced episode of ALF.

This is what I was referring to last week. I didn’t want to promise anything until I actually held the script in my hands. Any number of things could have gone wrong. The post office could have eaten it. The script could have been incomplete. The whole thing could have been a hoax.

But here I am, with 30 minutes’ worth of never-seen ALF in my grubby little hands. It’s called “Home Sweet Home” and I’m dying to tell you all about it…but that will have to wait.

This is a piece of television history that was almost lost to the ages. Granted, it’s a small piece of something nobody likes, but still. It’s something.

And it’s a hell of a damn find. In July I reviewed the ALF Sega Master System game, and I was pretty certain that was the last ALF project to warrant coverage. I even ended that review by saying, “Tune in next year when I review the fuckin’ paper plates.”

But now, I have this.

I am going to cover it in July for this year’s ALF review. That is to be expected, I’m sure, and I’m thrilled to be able to share this with the world for the very first time.

However, I’ll need your help in terms of how to present it. In every other case, you could watch the episode or play the game or whatever yourself, and then read what I have to say about it. In this case, that’s not possible. I have the script and you don’t. That’s a problem.

The easiest solution would be to scan the whole thing and post a .pdf, but I don’t own the rights to “Home Sweet Home” and have no intention of distributing somebody’s script without permission.

Fair Use, however, allows for transformative works. That’s why I’ve never had any qualms about using screen grabs and quotes in my reviews; they’re being presented in a transformative context that does not rob the episodes of their own identities. The reviews exist in a space that doesn’t overlap the value of the episodes.

All of which is to say, there are a number of ways I could go with this. The script could be illustrated, storyboarded, animated, acted as a radio play…anything, really. I want people to be able to enjoy it, so please let me know how you would like to see “Home Sweet Home” presented, and I’ll do my best to give you something worth coming back for.

Share your thoughts, either below or otherwise. I’m all ears, and we have a few months to do this right.

We’re making history, here, people.

Updates, and This Year’s Rule of Three

HELLO as I’m sure was pretty clear I’ve had a difficult month. But I’m here, I’m okay, and I have some updates I think you will enjoy.

The book: The loss of Mike a few weeks back made me profoundly unproductive, which I think most people would agree is understandable. As such, I wasn’t able to finish the next draft of my book as quickly as I’d have liked. It’s still been submitted ahead of the publisher’s deadline, so there’s no problem there, but I had hoped to have it finished sooner and work on some blog stuff instead. That didn’t happen, but things will pick up very soon.

Fiction into Film: Ghost World won the poll for my next Fiction into Film. That was the project I had hoped to tackle over the past few weeks, but it will have to happen a little later instead. I’m planning to have it done at some point in March, so that it’s out before this year’s Rule of Three starts up in April. More on that in a bit.

Advertising: Every so often I get an alert from Google AdSense saying my site is in violation of some guideline or other. Typically this happens while I’m at work, and by the time I get home and check on my site, the violation is gone without explanation. I almost never have any clue what they thought I violated, so I’m assuming they’re just false positives that get automatically cleaned up by the system. (It would be nice if they told me what was causing them, though.) Today I got one and was able to check it quickly enough. It was a sexual content violation on my Fiction into Film for The Running Man, which, as I’m sure you recall, was done in the style of hardcore pornography. Granted, I do talk about sex in that writeup, but only in terms of how the adaptation handles it. Each time I get flagged, ads either stop being served or I stop making any money from them until it’s resolved. And since I’ve yet to post any hardcore super sex on this site, it’s getting irritating. I may just do away with AdSense altogether. Some folks have suggested Patreon instead, and while I have nothing against that I’d feel pretty bad if the audience paid for my services rather than sponsors or employers. Wanting you enjoy my content and expecting you to fund it are two very different things. I’m open to ideas, so let me know your thoughts.

ALF news: It’s very possible I will have one hell of a big coup for this year’s one-off ALF review. Stay tuned. It’s a good one.

Rule of Three: The big update is this year’s Rule of Three, the comedy-focused sister series of Trilogy of Terror. Rule of Three kicks off April 1, and this year I’ll be looking at movies based on novelty songs. I could say more about why I chose that topic, but I’d rather save that for the actual features so I’m not spreading my criticism into places later readers won’t find. If you’re interested in watching the films ahead of time, you’ve got about a month!

The schedule is as follows, with links to the appropriate songs so you can be amazed anyone squeezed 90+ minutes of narrative out of this crap:

April 1: Harper Valley PTA (1978)
April 8: Convoy (1978)
April 15: Purple People Eater (1988)

These are all varying degrees of glorious trainwrecks, and I look forward to writing them up and sharing them with you. On a related note, I apologize for letting you know these things exist.

For now, I just want to thank you for your patience. There’s good stuff coming. Life may slow me down, but it has yet to keep me down.

My Friend Mike, Who is Dead Now

Let me tell you about my friend Mike, who is dead now.

I grew up in a tiny town. A rural area. I had friends, and very good ones I should make clear, but I never really fit in. Southern New Jersey wasn’t the place for me. I can’t remember a year going by during which I didn’t look forward to getting out and never looking back.

It’s not where I belonged. I doubt anyone else thought I belonged there, either.

I say this as context so that you’ll understand what it means that my friend Mike, who is dead now, was never anything but kind to me. Even when I was frustrated by who I was, what I was, where I was. Even when I treated others poorly and didn’t deserve kindness in return. Even when he no doubt knew that we’d graduate high school and move on and he’d never have to deal with me again. He was always my friend. Mike, who is dead now.

Someone described Mike, who is dead now, as a gentle giant. I couldn’t possibly choose two better words myself. He was a big guy. He always was. Physically imposing, but wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’ve seen him laugh. I’ve seen him happy. But I never saw him upset. I never saw him sad. I never saw him angry. I never heard him say a negative thing about anybody or do a negative thing toward anybody.

My friend Mike, who is dead now, was soft spoken. He was funny. He had the biggest God damned heart. People go through life making friends and enemies but Mike, who is dead now, never seemed to get around to the enemy part. He was friendly to everybody. He hung out with the popular kids. He hung out with the outcasts. He hung out with the nerds. He was good to all of them. He was better than most of us deserved.

There was a sincerity about Mike, who is dead now, that it’s difficult to put into words. If you knew him, you’d know immediately what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, you never will, because he’s dead now.

He could have been a bad person. It was high school. He had the stature and strength and popularity to back it up. He could have been a jerk. He would have gotten away with it. It could even have been fun. A lot of people go that way when they have weight to throw around. I probably would have, too. But he didn’t. Mike, who is dead now, was humble. He didn’t think he was better than anybody. He was always there, this friendly, funny presence with the great big heart.

I have a lot of specific memories of friends from that time in my life, but I don’t have many of Mike, who is dead now. I think that’s because my fondness for him can’t be boiled down to a night of video games or a weekend of drinking or some ridiculous mischief we got up to together that we’d never dream of pulling today. Mike, who is dead now, was a more general part of my life. A constant. Someone always friendly and reliable and trustworthy. One who always played along if someone were teasing him, and one who never teased back.

When I left New Jersey, I lost touch with a lot of people. Including Mike, who is dead now. I had a new life to focus on, and they did, too. But time passed, and I started reconnecting with many of my old friends. After I lost everything a few years ago and was barely scraping together the money to rent a room and the energy to earn that money, when I started rebuilding myself personally, I reconnected with even more of them.

Mike, who is dead now, was one of them.

He looked so happy. Well, as happy as Mike, who is dead now, ever looked. He always seemed to wear the same expression. You’d see the real smile in his eyes.

Mike, who is dead now, seemed to be living a stable, healthy life, and of all the people I went to school with, myself absolutely included, I can’t imagine anyone deserving that more.

He had a beautiful family. He didn’t look a day older than the last time I’d seen him, nearly 20 years ago. I’d see him post photos of sunsets and beautiful mornings, better looking skies than anything I’d seen myself when I was in New Jersey, and he’d caption them with positive thoughts. Affirmations. And every so often he’d comment on something I had posted, just to show his support. That’s just who Mike, who is dead now, was.

On Feb. 1 at 6:37 pm, Mike, who is dead now, posted a long status update. He was venting about someone who had clearly treated him poorly. It was longer and angrier than anything I’d seen him post before. But I didn’t see this post until much later. I missed it, or overlooked it. A lot of people did.

That same day, at 11:32 pm, he shared an uplifting video with the caption, “That’s a beautiful story.” I didn’t see that post, either, but that’s more the kind of thing I expected to see from Mike, who is dead now.

On Feb. 4 at 8:34 am, a family member shared the news that Mike, who is dead now, passed away over the weekend. I was sad. A lot of people were. Everybody wanted to know what had happened to Mike, who is dead now. People reached out to me to see if I knew anything. I didn’t.

On Feb. 5 at 9:58 am, I learned he’d committed suicide.

Mike, who is dead now, killed himself.

I’ve had a number of friends die, and of course the old crew crawls out of the woodwork to post condolences. That’s okay. That’s how it should work. But I believe there’s a noticeable difference between those who offer condolences because that is the right thing to do, and those who are genuinely upset and will miss the person deeply, perhaps more deeply than they ever would have guessed. The latter is all I saw for Mike, who is dead now.

I don’t know what he struggled with. I don’t know the situation. I don’t know what he carried in his heart or his mind or what demons he fought every fucking day until he finally decided he couldn’t or wouldn’t fight them anymore. I don’t know because he never told me. I don’t know because Mike, who is dead now, never told anybody. He felt more comfortable taking his own life than he did reaching out for help.

And Mike, who is dead now, had a wealth of people who would have listened. Who would have tried to help. Who cared about him and loved him and are too late to help him push through.

Mike, who is dead now, took whatever he was feeling, whatever he was fighting, however deeply he was hurting, with him.

I’m sad and I’m angry and I’m frustrated and I’m heartbroken.

Because Mike, God damn it, I would have helped you. And I’m not alone. Seeing that you were happy, you were doing well, you were living a great life…nobody deserved that more than you. And just recently you posted kind words to me. And just recently you talked with a mutual friend and had her convinced you were doing great. And just recently you bumped into another friend in the convenience store and he couldn’t have been happier about how well you were doing.

And you killed yourself, Mike. You’re gone now. You aren’t coming back and if anyone knew what you were going through, we would have helped, dammit. If you needed money or a place to stay or a shoulder to cry on, we fucking loved you. And we would have been there. If we knew, we would have been there.

But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we never told you that we loved you. Maybe you knew you had friends, but didn’t know they were people you could trust. Maybe you didn’t know how much people actually cared and were willing to help. And maybe that’s because we’re fucking idiots and we never told you.

I wish I could have told you. I wish I could step a few days into the past and find that worrying post and reach out. I wish I could go back to high school and give you a big hug. I wish I could do anything at all to change where we are, right now, with you dead by your own hand because you didn’t think there was another way forward.

I hate that that’s where you ended up. I hate that you, of all people, were on the bottom, beneath something so heavy you had no hope of lifting it up. I hate that I’m out here writing about mental health and being open about my own struggles and trying like hell to help people avoid and deal with the shit I have to face every day and my friend, the gentle giant, the sweetest, warmest fucking guy imaginable, struggled and fought and lost without me even realizing it.

Please don’t be like Mike, who is dead now. Please, for God’s sake, reach out. Let someone know. Because somebody out there cares more than you think they do. And if you don’t believe that, then reach out to me and I’ll prove you wrong myself.

And if you’re doing okay reach out to someone today, tomorrow, the day after that, someone who isn’t. Reach out to the ones you know struggle and the ones you assume are fine because why wouldn’t they be. Reach out, damn it. Because people need you, and however open and accessible you assume you are, when they are losing that fight, they’re only going to see one way out, and it won’t be picking up the phone and calling you. So pick up the phone and call them.

Mike was my friend. In our most recent messages he was excited to be going back to school to get a degree. I was excited for him.

He’s dead now. Whatever he was planning or looking forward to, that’s where his story ends.

He was my friend. I wonder if he even knew that.

The saddest part of It’s a Wonderful Life, to me, has always been its ending. Yes, everything works out, but it’s terrifying that had George Bailey actually killed himself that night, his story would have ended there, without him realizing or knowing or understanding that there were so many people out there who would have helped, who wanted to help, who would gladly do whatever they could to help.

He didn’t reach out to them. He stepped out into a cold winter’s night and decided for himself that there was only one way out.

He never reached out. He never knew. Somebody else had to show him.

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