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Sunday, June 6, 2010
1986's Sitcom Provocateurs: Christopher Hewett, "Still the Beaver," "Me and Mrs. C" and "Snatch"
We know what you're thinking. "They said, 'Christopher He Wet.' Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh ..."
Yes, we did. But primetime TV said it first--a full decade before MTV's Beavis and Butt-head "Did" America, and nearly a quarter century before FOX's The Cleveland Show spoofed a ballsy reference to the Urban-dictionary-entry-inspiring Mr. Belvedere himself.
You can thank the socially and sexually provocative mid- to late-1980s, America. Although Three's Company went to the big double entendre in the sky in 1984, its legacy of libido-charged innuendos changed the TV laughscape forever. And the zany farce's naughty humor, well, got a whole lot naughtier while climaxing (!) shortly after the we-know-what-that-title's-really-referencing Still the Beaver and Me and Mrs. C became ratings semi-sensations for the Disney Channel in 1985-86 and NBC in summer 1986, respectively. (Come to think of it, Happy Days--which also died in '84--was pretty smutty, too: "Sit on it, Mrs. C!" Helloooo!)
Okay, Me and Mrs. C was really a short-lived sitcom about (quoting the Associated Press) "a 62-year-old white widow who takes in a 22-year-old black boarder." And Still the Beaver (renamed The New Leave it to Beaver for its 1986-89 TBS run) was really about a 62-year-old white kiddo who after 22 seasons of syndication still had no idea his nickname had a vulgar connotation. But still. Their double-entendriffic titles alone paved the way for TV's biggest smutcom.
"What's Snatch!?" you ask. Well, according to its official Facebook page, ''Snatch!''--not to be confused with Vicki! or Cleghorne!--"is an American television sitcom that originally ran from 1986 to 1990."
"Hmmm," you're thinking. "Must've been one of those syndicated classics from the Emmy-winning writer-producers of She's the Sheriff and (The All-New) We Got it Maid."
To be honest, our memories, like Snatch!'s eponymous lead character, are a little fuzzy. Perhaps we should again quote the show's official Facebook bio: "The show was centered around a Mary Tyler Moore-esque character named Sally Fenway working her way through life and love in New York City. She also happened to have a wise-cracking, hairy, eel-like creature living in her vagina named Snatch."
"Oh, yeah," you're saying to yourself. "The Small Wonder spin-off."
Yeah. That one.
Again quoting Snatch! literature (because, this way, if you're offended, we can just be all, "We're just sayin'"): "The series starred Geneva Carr as Sally Fenway, Fred Berman as Sally's neighbor Ruben Maricasa, Jason O'Connell as her boss Nigel Flavinworth, Billy Warlock as co-worker Robert Marcus, and Sally Struther as Sally's mom, Roberta Fenway. The character of Snatch was portrayed by a live-vagina/hand puppet operated primarily by Jason Favale."
Phew. Glad that's over. Anywho, Snatch! somehow flew under the radar with its behind-the-bikini line humor. Maybe because the Terry Rakoltas of the world were too busy linking FOX's Married ... with Children with impending Armageddon to notice that Sally Fenway's crotch-puppet wasn't popping up just to chomp cookies or sass "Mr. Snuffleupagus" while teaching kids the alphabet.
Snatch! creator Berman is especially funny in this filthy Fragglerock. His nosey neighbor Ruben is a cross between Three's Company's Mr. Furley and Felipe Gomez as channeled through Will and Grace's Jack McFarland on crack. (Yes, the drug crack.) And Geneva Carr--famous for her hilarious spots as the grimacing, finger-waving mom in the AT&T Family Talk commercials--handles the lead role with aplomb. Or is that Eve's Plumb? Either way, she handles it. And she handles it well.
Also serving as a series producer (along with Now Lookee Here Productions' Jason Chaet and Jason O'Connell) is Ethan Duff, writer/director/producer of the acclaimed comedic short film Was Monroe Raped? That darkly comic project--also starring the fascinatingly versatile Berman--focuses on a scarcely-seen episode of the '80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort in which Jim J. Bullock's character claims to have been kidnapped and sexually accosted by two large women in a van.
No word yet if one of these women was a surly, gravelly-voiced crotch-puppet.