Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Sitcoms Set In Wisconsin.

There was some discussion on the MU Scout board yesterday about things Milwaukee is known for. Amidst the brats, beer, and obesity references was a brief discussion of "That '70s Show," which was set in the fictional Wisconsin town of Point Place.

As I mentioned on the board, one was never able to conclusively determine where, exactly, Point Place was located. According to the producers of the show, it's a suburb of Green Bay (which is something of an oxymoron). At the same time, though, Point Place is apparently near Kenosha, since Eric & Co. can travel to Chicago in around an hour.

Now, because I'm somewhat anal (that's what she said), this kind of shit drives me absolutely insane.

But the "That '70s Show" mystery location pales in comparison to my favorite sitcom-set-in-Wisconsin clusterfuck:

The opening credits of "Step by Step."

"Step by Step," you may unfortunately recall, was a cheap knock-off of the "Brady Bunch" -- divorced parents, blended family, step-siblings probably fucking, all that shit. I can't tell you much more about the show, other than the fact that the dude who was in Kickboxer played a bizarre surfer-type cousin. And that it featured TV's Patrick Duffy, apparently before Patrick Duffy became Scuzzlebutt's leg. Oh, and Suzanne Somers was in it. (Her breasts also had a starring role.)


"Step by Step" was allegedly set in Port Washington, Wisconsin. And, like every good early- to -mid-90s sitcom, it featured a minute-and-a-half long song-and-dance, "hey, look how much fun we're having!" intro. In case you don't remember it -- and, please, pay special attention to the first five seconds and the last twenty:


The first shot tells us we're in Port Washington, Wisconsin, population: 9358. Then we're immediately shown a giant roller coaster, the kind you'd only find at a Six Flags-type park. And sure enough: we eventually see a sprawling, multi-acre amusement park, replete with roller coasters and Ferris wheels and all other kinds of crazy shit.

In Port Washington. Population 9358.

That's enough to get me going, but it doesn't take the cake. No, the cake-taking comes in the last 20 seconds of the clip, when the family (save for the dweeby fag with the glasses, who apparently vagged out and decided to hang with Grandma while the rest of his family had a kick-ass time at the amusement park) rides that giant coaster.

First, note the ridiculous attempt to make it look like the family is actually riding the coaster. Good try, folks. Maybe bring a fan in there the next time to make it look like the people are, you know, moving. (Seriously, the special effects in Total Recall are ashamed of that shit.) But the piece de resistance comes in the last shot, when we pan out from the coaster and see ...

An ocean. For one, I hope that this body of water was supposed to be Lake Michigan, and the producers couldn't find any stock footage. More importantly: apparently, the producers of "Step by Step" would have us believe that the designers of this amusement park saw fit to build a wooden fucking roller coaster that abuts a massive body of water. And check out how ferocious those breakers are -- from the looks of those waves, and from the absence of any kind of discernible shoreline, it looks like this coaster is getting pummeled by waves. Beautiful.

That said, this kind of opening did appropriately set the stage for a craptacular show like "Step by Step." At least the chick who played the tomboy turned out to be incredibly hot. I hope the dweeby fag got to hit that.


FPMKE said...

Good points... well written.

I'm pretty sure Point Place featured on "That 70's Show" was a suburb of Kenosha or Milwaukee. I recall them going to Kenosha for a wrestling match and I know you can make it from the south side of Milwaukee to Chicago in about an hour if you're ambitious or drive like I do.

"Step by Step" always confused the hell out of me. I've never been to Port Washington, WI but I know there isn't a roller coaster or an ocean there. Sasha Mitchell was a poor man's substitution for Henry Winkler.

The failure to mention other Wisconsin/Milwaukee shows such as "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" is disapointing. Nothing will ever compare to having a the Fonz living above your parents garage. And the faggy glasses kid was no Lenny and Squiggy.

Rubie Q said...

I understand why you'd think that about "That '70s Show," but remember, Eric and Red went to at least two Packer games, and Lambeau wasn't far from their house, either. Apparently, in the minds of TV people, Wisconsin is the size of Rhode Island.

FPMKE said...

Are you 100% positive that the games were played at Lambeau and not County Stadium?

Rubie Q said...

I'm 100% positive on at least one of the Packer games, because the Packers were playing the Bears (and Red gave Eric money to buy a souvenir, and Eric bought a Walter Payton jersey). The Packers only played the Bears in County Stadium once, in 1974. The show "began" in 1976.

FPMKE said...

Your research on this topic is extensive. I was hoping the County Stadium comment would stump the Schwab but I was mistaken.

EMoney said...

This is ridiculous