Rembert Tries to Explain the ’80s: Too Close for Comfort’s Very Special Episode

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new series, “Rembert Tries to Explain the ’80s.” Every so often, we’ll e-mail 24-year-old Rembert Browne a YouTube clip relating to the 1980s that Rembert hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. The first clip was selected by our editor-in-chief, Bill Simmons: an absolutely inexplicable episode of Too Close For Comfort that … Well, we’ll let Rembert explain. If you have an idea for a future episode of “Rembert Tries to Explain the ’80s,” e-mail us at hollywood@grantland.com.

Too Close For Comfort: “For Every Man, There’s Two Women”

Let me preface this by saying I have no idea what this link is going to be. All I know is that it’s from the ’80s and Simmons seems fairly confident that I have never heard of it.

0:19: Show = Too Close for Comfort. Doesn’t even remotely ring a bell. Sounds horrible.

0:21: Ted Knight? Nope.

0:28: Nancy Dussault? Nope.

:31: Deborah Van Valkenburgh? Nope. Also, way to keep it too real and not get a stage name. It’s like she went out of her way to not be successful.

0:34: Lydia Cornell? Whooooo are these people?

0:38: Jm J. Bullock? What kind of name is “Jm”. That better not be a shortened version of the three-letter “Jim”. It better be short for “Jermajesty” or I’m turning this off.

0:57: I can tell this show is going to be filled with subpar hijinks. I’m not looking forward to this.

1:01: A whiter show has never existed. It’s like the opposite of UPN.

1:27: Apparently, Monroe didn’t come home. I have no idea what that means.

1:59: This guy Ted Knight did not go to the Uncle Phil school of being a TV dad. He’s horrible.

2:17: I’m guessing these two women are his daughters, but they both look like they’re 34. Is that how it was in the ’80s, every feathered layer of hair ages you nine years? Why are they getting yelled at for staying out late? Why are they living at home? WHO IS MONROE?

2:27: Jm must be related to Will Ferrell. The resemblance is terrifying. Also, two and a half minutes in and I’m not convinced this show isn’t an SNL digital short.

2:34: Jm = Monroe. Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. Somewhere dumb.

2:36: I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a worse TV mom. Shame on you, Nancy Dussault. This show had to have gotten canceled after seven episodes, right?

2:42: Monroe was kidnapped.

3:00: Forced in van.

3:19: By two women.

3:42: Grabbed from underneath.

3:53: Blindfolded.

4:03: They sat on him.

4:11: Broke his beeper.

4:19: Monroe: “The big one said, if I knew what was good for me, I’d better cooperate. And I cooperated. In fact, I cooperated all night.”

WAIT A MINUTE. Did Monroe get raped? Is this the Too Close for Comfort Very Special Episode? There’s nothing like getting blindsided by a very special episode. I just gasped in the library. Everyone probably just figured out I’m watching a VSE.

4:49: When the dad talks seriously, for some reason he starts talking like Bela Lugosi. That’s got to be the weirdest way to handle a situation.

5:37: Oh yes. Family argument about whether men can be raped by females. Gender politics. My B.A. in Sociology spidey senses are going crazy right now.

6:00: Talk of “double standards.” This is too good.

6:19: The ladies don’t think it’s that serious when it happens to a man. How are they gonna hate on their own family member like this? That’s just wrong, ladies.

7:20: Hold up. Monroe just called the dad “Mr. Rush.” Is he not the son? What is Monroe doing in this house? What is Monroe doing on this show? Is he a tenant, or is this a Shawn from Boy Meets World situation? I need answers.

8:00: I’ve been hating on every character on this show pretty hard, but the dad’s Farleigh Dickinson crewneck sweatshirt is pretty fantastic. Outside of that, he couldn’t be any worse.

8:18: Bela Lugosi voice. Third time. I want to fight him.

8:34: The word “rape” has finally been uttered. Thanks for growing up, Too Close for Comfort.

9:48: Monroe tells detective he hurt his shoulder when the two ladies threw him into a tub of Jell-O. Casual.

11:00: Once again, hold up. Third mention of “breaking his beeper” followed by a thunderous laugh by the audience. Am I missing something? Is there an ’80s slang manual for new technological advances that were used to describe naughty things?

12:18: Monroe: “I guess when something like this happens to a man, no one takes it seriously. It just becomes a big joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.” For half of a second, I was actually touched. Then the dad started speaking again and all touching ceased.

12:25: So Mr. Rush just turned off Bela Lugosi and is now speaking like a Shakespearean actor. Ted Knight, you, my friend, are the weirdest actor of all time.

Part 2 (Watch it here):
0:02: Monroe interrupts a Mr. and Mrs. Rush nighttime sexy session to chat. Mr. Rush is not happy. As for the wife, even when she’s not on-screen, she’s a bad actress.

2:03: Mr. Rush is Tebowing a planking Monroe. WATCH IT AND TELL ME I’M WRONG.

3:09: Mr. Rush and Monroe are attempting to find the house of the lady rapists, via a paper map and the white pages. I don’t actually know what either of those things are. I’m just guessing.

5:00: They found the apartment and are about to go in. (Side note: I’m going to be so mad if they are two big black women. So mad. Please continue the streak of everyone being white, puh-lease.)

5:40: Big lady opens the door, Monroe says she is the smaller one, and he runs away. In terms of her race, she looks like a hybrid of Etta James and Paula Deen, so let’s just call her white.

6:30: Mr. Rush gets locked in apartment with the ladies. The Jell-O is in the bathtub, the wall bed has been pulled down, and I’m pretty sure he’s about to become victim no. 2. The laugh track is at an all-time high during all of this. Oh man — rape, you so crazy.

7:38: Monroe is back to the house, describing what happened to the mom. Suddenly, the police come in with a rescued and frazzled Mr. Rush.

8:40: Episode ends with a joke referencing something from earlier in the show. I can’t remember what it was. Oops.

9:17: Copyright 1984.

Final thoughts: After doing some research, apparently people did like this show. How does a show like this last six seasons, but The Playboy Club gets canceled after two commercial breaks? Unbelievable. Also, perhaps because I was so blinded by how wack this family is, I didn’t even realize Ted Knight was the judge from Caddyshack. I’ll take half of the blame, but he deserves as much for doing this show for six seasons. If I find somewhere that anyone on Grantland staff lists this show as a Top 10 sitcom, this will be my last article. Scout’s honor.

Filed Under: Rembert Tries to Explain the Eighties

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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