Picture it: Nickelodeon. 1993. For the past year, Saturday nights had been completely transformed for kids across the nation. No more relentless channel surfing, no more begging your parents to rent a movie, no more caring if you didn't have friends to sleep over. Saturday night was time for SNICK, meaning two straight hours of unadulterated snacking in the glow of The Big Orange Couch.
How we loved that couch. It was the most gaudy piece of upholstery one could imagine, and sure to send parents' noses in the air at the sight of it. At 8:00p.m. on Saturday, that couch was a false idol kids everywhere bowed down to worship. It brought us laughs, it brought us thrills, it brought us a routine bag of Cheez Doodles for those two glorious hours each week. I, having just figured out the workings of a VCR, saw fit to record it on any video I could get my hands on.
Some tapings are full line-ups (most missing commercials), some I've clipped out Roundhouse, but many more are only Are You Afraid of The Dark recordings. Admittedly, the first 3 shows felt like build up to AYAOTD to me. It was my favorite show at the time, showcasing tales of the macabre presented in a fashion that made them creepy, but not nightmare inducing. For their first "Snick-iversary", Nickelodeon pushed the envelope by taking an actress from one SNICK show and dropping her into another. Melissa Joan Hart was the first of a few Nick actors to cross into Midnight Society territory, but not before completing her job as Clarissa.
The line-up didn't disappoint. The first episode of Clarissa, A Little Romance, tackles that wild topic of loooooove. Sam pops in Clarissa's window through his ladder stairway, downtrodden about about a date gone wrong, and looking for condolences from his best friend. Clarissa extends her advice while sorting through a neon fold-out box holding earrings that could easily double as fishing lures. Her recommendation is to find a girl that's more into the things they enjoy.
The rest of the family is convened in the kitchen for a retelling of how Marshall landed himself in a leg cast and on crutches. Out of work, tired, and bored, Marshall begins spying on their neighbors, the Soapersteins. A cliche subplot, which serves only as extra facetime for the male portion of the Darlings. Clarissa heads upstairs for her third outfit change of the episode while Sam, prepped for an evening of hunting UFOs, oogles her brainlessly. That's when she confronts him about his flighty behavior and Sam confesses to having "magic" feelings for Clarissa. Before she can respond, the little love-fest is interrupted by Marshall and Ferguson bursting in to spy on the neighbor's shady behavior through her window.
Although she tried to walk out on the situation and leave it behind, Sam pulls that whiny clingy shit on her that we girls all have to take pity on lest we face a barrage of being called the "B" word. Reluctantly, she agrees to set a "date" date with Sam, and he then leaves her high and dry for hanging out until then.
Clarissa's review of the date started off well, but when it got to the goodnight kiss, it was all rain clouds and washout. If emoticons were more prevalent then, it would have definitely been followed by a colon and a open parenthesis. Clarissa starts to freak hardcore because she needs to get her emotions in check. Or she could just be on the rag, we don't really know for sure. Before she has time to take a breather (or a carton of ice cream), the ladder crashes against the window and Sam enters the scene. The once great friends scuffle and separate.
Ferguson and Marshall present their beliefs to the family that Ned Soaperstein murdered his wife and buried her in the backyard. Crazy, delirious, and stir crazy, Marshall continues the erratic spying with his son. With no one else to confide in, Clarissa heads to good old mom for advice. Clarissa's mom is a bubbly director of a children's museum and a health nut to boot. Thankfully, she didn't mention "soy" once while having boy talk with her daughter. She didn't even offer her a carrot chip bran muffin, she just suggests that she talk it out with Sam.
Sam and Clarissa finally get their grunge music-lovin' voices heard and it turns out they both just want to go back to normal. Even better, the neighbor's wife hasn't been hacked into pieces, she was just on vacation. Everything in the Darling residence is back to its normal granola-munching routine.
And what did we learn? Well, for one we learned that you should never date a guy that's a bad kisser, even if you get along really well. We also learned that spying on your neighbors is a bag thing unless, of course, it involves them sans-clothes.
PART 2 >>>