Awhile back, I wrote about three TV shows that I wasn’t entirely sure existed outside of my imagination. You know, that hazy childhood memory thing where you kind of sort of think you can picture the characters and maybe even the plot lines of some of the episodes, but nobody you ask has any idea what you’re talking about? Well, it’s time for Round 2.
The Torkelsons (a.k.a. Almost Home)
Even when I read about this show now, it’s still confusing to me. The fact that after one season it was completely re-tooled and re-named Almost Home certainly doesn’t help. But let’s back up a minute. The Torkelsons, as I still think of it, started as a sitcom about a down-on-her-luck mother living in Oklahoma with her five kids trying to make ends meet. I’m sure a lot of emphasis was placed on their financial issues, but what sticks out the most to me is the fact that the oldest daughter, Dorothy Jane, sat by her bedroom window talking with “the man in the moon” quite a bit. The kids were all scrappy and intelligent and had a lot of sitcom-y interactions with their neighbors. In the second season, the newly named Almost Home featured the family moving to Seattle where a whole new cast of characters was introduced, including none other than the late, great Brittany Murphy. At least in this incarnation, much was made of the Torkelsons’ Southern demeanors in comparison to the hardened Seattle folks (uh, right), which seems like a premise with more possibility than the original. That said, Almost Home ended after one season as well. Given that there were only two seasons of this show, I’m not really sure how I have so many memories of it. Better go ask The Man in the Moon.
No, not that show that aired for one season in 2009. I’m talking about the 1996 Disney show pumped in from our neighbors up North in Canada for our viewing pleasure. Flash Forward is notable for being the first original series produced by Disney. But at the time, I didn’t know or care about that. The story is about two childhood best friends and neighbors, Becca and Tucker, who are both navigating the perils of 8th grade. This was total wish-fulfillment for me because I definitely didn’t have any guy friends when I was in middle school, let alone a best friend/neighbor who maybe was also the person I was supposed to end up with, but in the meantime we were going to have lots of adorable adventures and help each other with the tricky world of pubescent love. Fun fact: for the first four episodes, Becca’s older sister was played by Rachel Blanchard, whom you all know and love from Are You Afraid of the Dark, Clueless, and 7th Heaven. Even more notably, Tucker himself was played by Ben Foster of X-Men fame, who also portrayed the mentally challenged Eli on Freaks and Geeks, and, of course, starred in the classic 2001 teen rom-com, Get Over It. You know you know it. Stop acting like you’re too cool.
Ready or Not
Another Canadian gem, this one produced for Showtime (how did I even have access to this show? Seriously!) and eventually Disney (okay maybe that’s how), Ready or Not was about two best friends, both girls, navigating the tricky waters of… life. I’m not sure there was much more to it than that. They start out in 6th grade and end up in 9th grade. The show lasted five whopping seasons and actually started out as a short film called Thirty-Two Double A (and yes I am totally stealing that title for something). Ready or Not was fun for me because there was a lot of focus on puberty, which I was pretty obsessed with as a child. The girls ask for bras and get their periods and realize they have crushes on boys and all that fun stuff. It’s like Judy Blume Lite, a.k.a. every middle school boy’s worst nightmare. Also, the girls were pretty regular looking, which was a nice change from the Saved by the Bell hotties I grew up admiring.
According to Wikipedia, these shows actually existed… but does anyone other than me remember them?