Monday, September 30, 2013

When She Was Still Spordelia

In the third season of Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar has this one scene in which she recalls her life before her character’s vampire-staking days: “Before I was the Slayer I was… well, I don’t want to say shallow but… Let’s say a certain person who shall remain nameless — we'll just call her Spordelia — looked like a classical philosopher next to me.” That’s a description to keep in mind when you watch the 1989 pilot for Girl Talk, which basically plays like a slumber party filmed before a studio audience, sponsored by Tiger Beat, fueled by Fun Dip and held in D.J. Tanner’s bedroom. Girl Talk co-stars Soleil Moon Fry and a girl named inexplicably named Russell.


It’s bizarre to watch baby-voiced SMG prattle on and on about cute boys, especially given the pop culture pedestal we now place Buffy on, and I can’t help but be reminded of a similarly bizarre clip of a 1991-era Jenny Lewis talk about hanging out with her friends in Westwood and then participate in a montage where she tries on a series of increasingly funny hats. (Yes, you should hit that link and watch it.)

Here, maybe you should watch Girl Talk now:


A short viewing guide:

0:03 — The theme song only lasts ninety-some seconds, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it plays nine hours. It also runs through your head with the violence of a ricocheting bullet. Sample lyrics: “School! That’s cool! / It’s the place to be! / All your friends are there / And the talk is free!”

1:31 — The announcer makes the mistake of introducing SMG as Sarah Gellar. I assume he was never heard from again.

1:43 — Please note that poor Russell (left) is dressed like a preteen version of Dorothy Zbornak.


4:30 — In case you didn’t realize that Soleil Moon Frye was THE. SHIT. at the time this episode was filmed, no worries: Russell and Sarah get to introduce her as the extra special, much more famous host of the show.

4:42 — The wisdom of Punky Brewster: “I think my favorite part of school is talking to my friends… especially the boys.” Hooray for education!

6:24 — Again, school is great because that’s where you get to talk to your friends about clothes, music and boys.

this is why you're bad at math

7:23 — So one of the things written into the show is that the girls all have crushes on a guy named Neil Tardio, who in real life is a director and the first husband of Tea Leoni. I hope his mention in this episode is how Neal and Tea fell in love. I would also like to think that her legal name was Tea Tardio for a period. Also also? The mention of that oh-so-sexy name Tardio prompts Russell to make this face:


7:34 — Then this happens:


But then you find out that the heartthrob they have visit the show for the first episode isn’t Kirk Cameron or Corey Haim or Chad Allen or any of the others you’d have reason to feel weird about today. No, it’s one you probably don’t have feelings about: Brian Robbins from Head of the Class. He causes much girl-screaming, I’ll give him that. Also, upon his entrance to the stage, SMG stage-faints and remains unconscious for the remainder of the interview.

10:12 — Robbins on shooting two episodes of Head of the Class in Russia: “The people were really interesting, kind of a little depressing. I think they should forget about things like glasnost and perestroika and all that and just paint the place. I mean, a nice shade of blue or something like that.”

13:50 — I have no idea who Safire is, but I’d like to think it’s the woman who wrote Precious, during her peppier teen years.


15:35 — The show also features comedy skits, like this one where Russell and Sarah play lab partners. Sarah is studious and quiet, while Russell blathers on stupidly. In the end, Russell is praised for being wonderful, while Sarah is condemned for attempting science. Hooray for education! The weirdest bit of dialogue: the bizarre brag of “Remember the guy who played the father on The Brady Bunch? Well, his real-life daughter used to go here!” Though for the record, Robert Reed did actually have a daughter. How stoked she must have been to have been included in Girl Talk.

17:20 — After having promised a performance by New Kids on the Block the whole episode, you find out that it’s only Jordan and Jonathan, appearing via a pre-taped interview. Here is how the Girl Talk hosts do “looking interested” when the gay one talks:


21:07 — Jonathan Knight’s advice to kids today about peer pressure: “I would say just be yourself. When people offer you drugs, if you don’t want them, just say no. And the final outcome will be that they’ll just pay more respect to you because you’re being yourself. They’ll respect you for that.”

21:40 — And finally this:


All in all, it’s still better than watching proto-Kathryn Merteuil on Swans Crossing.

8 comments:

  1. I would like to think that "Safire" refers to William Safire. I'm sure he would have fit right in on Girl Talk.

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ1PGTU1LDI

    Oh how I danced around the living room with black tape over my eyebrows pretending to be Safire.

    P.S. This guy has a tiny bed and a really low ceiling fan. It really doesn't seem safe.

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    1. I understand your fashion sense so much better now.

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  3. The girl painting her nails while wearing gloves has got to be the weirdest part of that skit.

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    1. Agreed. It pushes that sketch beyond lame comedy and into something truly weird, so I like it.

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  4. Was this show based on the game or was the game based on this show, I wonder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4TNJiUQZGU

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    1. I... have no idea. But weirdly that commercial you linked to has an actress who starred on Serenity, once again before Joss Whedon got to her.

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