Blast From The Past : What A Country!

Mind Your Language was a super hit British tv series that premiered in 1977. It had a worldly appeal due to the simple yet hilarious situations and jokes that almost seem innocent by today’s standards. There were several attempts to recreate the dynamics and base a new show around the same concept. India did it twice and several other countries had a show or two copying the Mind Your Language formula. However the only one that I had watched and liked was an American show called What A Country!

Now while MYL was about an adult education college in London and focuses on the class in English as a Foreign Language taught by Mr Jeremy Brown, who teaches a group of enrolled foreigners, there as a change in the scenario for What a Country! in that being an American sitcom, starring Garrett M. Brown and Yakov Smirnoff that aired in first-run syndication from September 27, 1986, to May 23, 1987, it focuses on  a class of recent immigrants to the United States who are trying to pass the citizenship test. The series was intended as a showcase for Ukrainian-American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, whose catchphrase provided the show’s title.

Their teacher, Taylor Brown (played by Garrett M. Brown), is a part-time substitute teacher looking for a high school soccer coaching job but is convinced by principal Joan Courtney (Gail Strickland) but mostly Russian immigrant Nikolai Rostopovich, to become the permanent teacher. Rounding out the cast were George Murdock as Laszlo Gabo from Hungary, Vijay Amritraj as Pakistani immigrrant Ali Nadim, Harry Waters, Jr. as a former African prince in exile Robert Muboto, Ada Maris as Maria Conchita Lopez, Julian Reyes as Victor Ortega & Leila Hee Olsen as Yung Hi from China. Strickland would be replace by Don Knotts as Principal F.J. “Bud” McPherson.

It didn’t reach the highs of MYL, and the show was cancelled after the first season of 26 episodes. But it does have some memorable laughs. I watched it when I was 12 or 13 and it was a lot of fun. Even though some of the dialogues in the first episodes are taken straight from MYL.

Special Honourable Mentions To My Favourite Sitcoms I Watched As A Kid

Back in April of last year I wrote about my top 5 favourite sitcoms that I watched as a child (back in Kuwait, ages 1 till 11). This list is a few honourble mentions that either I watched very little of or the show didn’t last long but I have fond memories of them.

The Jeffersons

The Jeffersons was a spinoff sitcom from All in the Family that ran between the 1970s and the 1980s. It followed George and Louise Jefferson “moving on up, to the East Side” with their family in a new and expensive high-rise apartment. The show put George Jefferson, a notorious bigot and opportunistic businessman, at the center of it all alongside his much gentler wife Louise played by Isabel Stanford in an Emmy-winning role. The series was groundbreaking for how it tackled topics like racism and gun control, and for featuring a Black family at the forefront.

Diff’rent Strokes

Airing from 1978 to 1986, Diff’rent Strokes followed the lives of two young African-American brothers from Harlem – Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis Jackson (Todd Bridges) – who were adopted by wealthy widower Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) after their mother’s death. This sitcom tackled various topics such as race relations, class disparity, and drug abuse with sensitivity and humor. Coleman’s memorable catchphrase “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” became an enduring part of American pop culture.

He’s The Mayor

He’s the Mayor is an American sitcom that aired on ABC from January 10 to March 21, 1986. It stars Kevin Hooks as a 25-year-old man who is elected mayor of his hometown. He sometimes clashes with his widowed father, an electrician and comic relief Wardell, his friend who is now his chauffeur. David Graff who plays a counsilman is also hilaious in the show that only lasted 13 episodes before it as cancelled.

The Two Of Us

The Two of Us is an American television sitcom starring Peter Cook, Mimi Kennedy and Dana Hill that aired on CBS from April 6, 1981, to February 24, 1982. It is a remake of the British LWT sitcom Two’s Company (1975–1979). Cook plays an English butler named Brentwood, who works for a single American mother, Nan Gallagher (Kennedy). Dana Hill played Nan’s 12-year-old daughter, Gabby. Notable guest star was a very young Helen Hunt

All Four Of The Big Bang Theory Halloween Episodes

The Middle Earth Paradigm (Season 1, Episode 6)

Speaking of Leonard and Penny’s first kiss, The Big Bang Theory season 1, episode 6, “The Middle Earth Paradigm” provided this classic moment in the show’s history. This episode places highly thanks to Leonard and Penny’s big scene, but it’s an otherwise standard season 1 outing with a lot of lazy jokes about Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj failing to fit in with Penny’s friends at her Halloween party. Luckily, a few great gags elevate this episode, like Sheldon attending the party dressed as “The Doppler Effect” and struggling to see what’s so strange about his outfit.

The Good Guy Fluctuation (Season 5, Episode 7)

Easily the show’s worst Halloween episode, The Big Bang Theory season 5, episode 7, “The Good Guy Fluctuation,” is particularly unpopular as this is the outing that saw Leonard cheat on Priya. While this Big Bang Theory Halloween episode was a betrayal of Leonard’s usually sweet character, that wasn’t the only issue with its plot. The show soon revealed that Priya had also cheated on Leonard, a twist that made their entire multi-episode romance seem pointless in retrospect. Like many of Leonard’s doomed romances, this storyline was played for laughs but ended up feeling surprisingly bleak despite this.

The Holographic Excitation (Season 6, Episode 5)

While The Big Bang Theory season 6, episode 5, “The Holographic Excitation,” isn’t the show’s best outing, it is the strongest Halloween episode in the series. Not only does “The Holographic Excitation” feature a rare Howard-centric storyline, the episode also explores what draws Penny to Leonard. The Big Bang Theory’s Howard refusing to shut up about his recent space mission, along with him and Bernadette attending a Halloween party dressed as the Smurfs, is a classic bit. Meanwhile, Penny admitting that she finds Leonard’s scientific prowess hot explains a lot about their unlikely pairing.

The Imitation Perturbation (Season 12, Episode 6)

While The Big Bang Theory season 12, episode 6, “The Imitation Perturbation” is admittedly not an all-time great episode, this final season entry did feature some strong gags as Howard and Sheldon dressed as each other for Halloween. The simmering tension between Sheldon and Howard was always good for a few laughs as Howard usually took Sheldon’s constant mockery with good humor, but sometimes lashed out with hilarious pranks that drove his friend to unhinged breakdowns. The strength of The Big Bang Theory’s cast proved pivotal to the appeal of “The Imitation Perturbation,” as seeing four of the show’s stars imitate each other was enough to carry the episode on its own.

The 11 Inch Pianist

So a guy walks into a bar one day and he can’t believe his eyes. There, in the corner, there’s this 11 inch man, in a little tuxedo, playing a tiny grand piano.

So the guy asks the bartender, “Where’d he come from?”

And the bartender look up and says, “There’s a genie in the men’s room who grants wishes.”

So the guy runs into the men’s room and, sure enough, there’s this genie. And a few seconds later you hear the genie’s booming voice say, “Your wish is my command.” And then a whole lots ducks coming into the bar area and creates a ruckus.

Then the guy walks out of the men’s room all angry and he’s, like, “Hey, bartender, I think your genie might be hard of hearing. I asked for a million buck not a million ducks!”

And the bartender’s, like, “No kidding. You think I wished for a 11-inch pianist?”

Five Fun Movies Centered Around A Witch(es)

The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 American supernatural comedy film directed by George Miller and starring Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne, alongside Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon as the titular witches. The film is based on John Updike’s 1984 novel of the same name, telling the story of three women who are unaware of the power of the words they speak; as they tell each other their deepest desires, a man arrives just in time and fulfills them, but has a dark side of his own.

Practical Magic is a 1998 American fantasy romantic drama film based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film was directed by Griffin Dunne and stars Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Aidan Quinn, and Goran Višnji?. Bullock and Kidman play sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, descended from a long line of witches. Raised by their aunts after their parents’ death from a family curse, the sisters were taught the uses of practical magic as they grew up. As adults, Sally and Gillian must use their magic to destroy an evil spirit before it kills them.

Bewitched is a 2005 American fantasy romantic comedy film co-written, produced, and directed by Nora Ephron, and starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell alongside an ensemble cast featuring Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth (in her first film appearance), Heather Burns, Jim Turner, Stephen Colbert, David Alan Grier, Michael Badalucco, Carole Shelley, and Steve Carell. The film follows an actor (Ferrell) who discovers, during the remake of Bewitched, that his co-star (Kidman) is an actual witch. Produced and distributed by Columbia Pictures with Red Wagon Entertainment, the film is a re-imagining of the television series of the same title (produced by Columbia’s Screen Gems television studio, now Sony Pictures Television).

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a 1996 American television film adaptation based on the comic book series of the same name from Archie Comics. It came before the Sabrina the Teenage Witch television series and premiered on Showtime on April 7, 1996. The only two actors who would appear in both the film and television series would be Melissa Joan Hart and Michelle Beaudoin, who played Sabrina’s best friend, named Marnie in the film, was renamed Jenny for the television series. Also of note is the fact that, unlike the comics, which were set in the fictional town of Greendale, and the eventual television series (located in an equally fictional town named Westbridge), the television film was said to take place in Riverdale.

Hocus Pocus is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Kenny Ortega from a screenplay by Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert, and a story by David Kirschner and Garris. It follows a villainous comedic trio of witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) who are inadvertently resurrected by a teenage boy (Omri Katz) in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. The film was released in North America on July 16, 1993, by Walt Disney Pictures. Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews from film critics and was not a box office success, possibly losing Disney around $16.5 million during its theatrical run. However, largely through many annual airings on Disney Channel  and Freeform Hocus Pocus has been rediscovered by audiences, resulting in a yearly spike in home media sales of the film every Halloween season.

3 Rude Catholic Jokes

A man is leaving church when he sees an altar boy get hit by a car. The man rushes over and asks the dying boy, “Would you like me to get the priest?” To which the altar boy responds, “How can you think about sex at a time like this?”

A Catholic priest in New Orleans had tickets to the NFC Championship game against the Vikings last year. Unfortunately, he also was scheduled for confession.

He notices a very devout looking parishoner praying and decides to ask the man to cover confession for him. The parishoner replies, “Father, I’m not qualified to do that.” To which the priest says, “I have a book in the confessional with all sins and the correct penance for it so I don’t make any mistakes.”

The man reluctantly agrees and the priest races to the Superdome and the man takes his seat in the confessional.

A man enters and says, “forgive me father, for I have sinned. I have had sex with young boys.”

“I see,” he says, and opens the book to find the correct penance for anal sex with young boys, but to his dismay it wasn’t listed. He opens the door and sees an altar boy lighting candles. He asks, “alter boy, what does Father give for anal sex with young boys?”

The alter boy replies, “he usually gives us a tootsie roll and a cherry coke.”

A man goes to confession.

“Priest, I kept a woman in my basement for years.”

“Go on, my son.” said the priest.

“You see, she’s a Jew and they were looking for her. I told her I would hide her.”

“Well, that sounds like the Christian thing to do. Sure, you might have had to lie a few times to keep her out of harms’ way, but you saved a life.”

“But, I asked for sexual favors in return for my services.”

“Still. You did a good thing. Ten ‘hail Marys’ and you’re forgiven.”

“How many ‘hail Mary’s’ do I have to do to keep from telling her for another few months that the war is over?”

A Young Priest Who Is Nervous When He Speaks

A new young priest at his first Mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. He delivered his first homily in a monotone, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

After Mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.

The monsignor replied, “When I’m worried about getting nervous at the pulpit, I put vodka instead of water in a glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip. That always calms me down.”

So next Sunday, the novice priest took the monsignor’s advice. At the beginning of the sermon when he got nervous, he took a drink from the “water” glass. It worked! He proceeded to talk up a storm.

Upon his return to his office after the Mass, he found a note on the door:

1. Sip the vodka, don’t gulp.

2. There are 10 commandments, not 12.

3. There are 12 disciples, not 10.

4. Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.

5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.

6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.

7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the Spook.

8. David slew Goliath; he did not kick the shit out of him.

9. When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don’t say he was stoned off his ass.

10. We do not refer to the cross as the “Big T.”

11. When Jesus broke the bread at the last supper. he said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” He did not say, “Eat me.”