NEW YORK, NYâ€“Growing up as child of television sitcoms I donâ€™t think there was anything that displeased me more than when one of those shows had something they liked to call “a very special episode.” Those four words only meant one thing: not only is tonightâ€™s episode not going to be funny, itâ€™s going to flat-out stink. Why television writers, producers, and directors felt the need to offer up cautionary messages in shows such as “Diffâ€™rent Strokes” and “Perfect Strangers” is beyond comprehension. Seriously, did anyone need to see Gordon Jump (WKRPâ€™s Mr. Carlson) play a pedophile bike shop owner on “Diffâ€™rent Strokes” or find out how Cousin Balki dealt with the death of his beloved grandmother? OK, granted there was some unintentional comedy involved in those scenarios, but they really got away from their core responsibilities which were Gary Coleman saying: “What you talkinâ€™ bout?” and Cousin Balki force feeding his odd customs to a half-crazed cousin Larry. Basically, no one needed to tune into a show like “Family Ties” to see Tom Hanks illustrate the dark side of alcoholism. We could learn that from watching our own families thank you very much.
This type of programming showed a certain kind of desperation. Can you imagine “The Honeymooners” doing an episode on spousal abuse after Ralph finally follows through on his threats to send Alice to the moon? Of course not, just as you would never see “The Odd Couple” send Oscar to Gamblerâ€™s Anonymous or “Taxi” have Louie DePalma in Anger Management. The truly great shows did not need this kind of phony drama to boost ratings. Which brings us to this yearâ€™s New York Mets (hey, you knew I had to get here eventually), if thereâ€™s one thing the Mets donâ€™t need during the 2009 season itâ€™s any “very special episodes.” The last two seasons have provided enough of that garbage. The 2007 collapse, Pedroâ€™s injuries, Delgadoâ€™s displeasure with the fans, the 2008 collapse, Omarâ€™s firing of Willie at the stroke of midnight… the amount of pointless drama this team has generated could only be equaled if the chick with cerebral palsy from “The Facts of Life” (Geri Jewell, in case this comes up at trivia night) mainlined heroin with Tootie on one extra-special episode. Itâ€™s been a flat-out embarrassment.
The bottom line is this, the Mets donâ€™t need storylines like these this year: K-ROD CREDITS SAVE TO KABBALAH; DAN WARTHEN CAUGHT TEACHING SLIDERS TO MASSAGE PARLOR EMPLOYEES; and REYES LOVES MERENGUE MORE THAN THE METS. The team across town may feed off this kind of junk but the one in Flushing needs to avoid it at all costs. The Mets need to be the “Cheers” or “Seinfeld” of the National League. Meaning, they need to go out every week, block out what everyone else is doing, and just be the best game in town. Itâ€™s not near as difficult as it sounds. Mets fans donâ€™t want drama unless itâ€™s the extra-inning, game-winning variety. Like everyone else, they just want to see winning baseball. The Metropolitans certainly do not need to be boring in order to win, but they really need to put the game first and their individual personalities second. To paraphrase Crash Davis: Once you start winning, be as colorful as you want. Anyway, letâ€™s hope that the Mets donâ€™t have to revert to their old network tricks in order to generate back page headlines this year. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program: A very special episode of “Blossom.”