Monday, July 18, 2011

Terrifying Moments in Children's Television: Family Matters

 (photo @ boxofficeboredom)

Family Matters was a popular Friday Night sitcom  that aired during the 1990's (and was actually a spinoff of the show 'Perfect Strangers').  It revolved around the Chicago based Winslow family, their daily trials and tribulations, and nerdy/zany neighbor, Steve Urkel.  Urkel was a socially awkward yet impossibly brilliant nerd that constantly invaded the privacy of the Winslow household, pined after Laura Winslow, and tormented the Winslow family patriarch, Carl.

During one episode, Steve decided to make a ventriloquist doll and try out his comedy act.  Oh yeah, and the doll looked exactly like him.

The family reacted the way most of us would; with sheer terror and revulsion.

Urkel goes to bed that night, still upset that his ventriloquist act may never be good enough to take on the road (a common burden for all us).  As he sleeps (with his window open during a storm), lightning strikes the wooden doll.  Instead of igniting into flames and burning the entire family alive, the puppet comes to life and promptly begins tormenting Urkel.

As most of us would probably do, Urkel loses it and runs up to his room (yes, the Winslows gave Urkel a room in their house).  As he barricades himself in, the evil puppet climbs in through the window.  He then proves his sentient abilities to his human doppelganger with more threatening, demonic sounding dialogue and Latin dancing.

Urkel tries to reason with what is clearly a demon possessed entity, only to discover that it doesn't want to kill just wants to kill the Winslow family.  The puppet also decides to name itself 'Stevil.'

Urkel attempts to contain Stevil by locking him inside of a trunk, which only pisses him off further.  He escapes and promptly kills Eddie Winslow by dragging him up the chimney (not nearly has cool as it sounds or I would have linked a video).  Afterwards, he proceeds to run down small children while driving Urkel's smart car.

Corn ethanol/children's blood hybrid

He then somehow dismembers Laura Winslow into three separate pieces, but keeps her alive and places her in the kitchen cabinets.  Carl Winslow is made into a human puppet that Stevil controls to further torment and taunt Urkel.

Perhaps the most terrifying visual, however, is what he does to the family matriarch, Harriet Winslow.  She is beheaded, kept alive, and placed into a jack-in-the-box contraption that would have made the Jigsaw Killer from the 'Saw' movies nod in approval.  Combine that with 1990's green screen technology and you get something that looks like this:

Urkel eventually attacks Stevil and rips him apart, only to have him come back together and attempt to choke him to death.  As you most likely predicted, Urkel wakes up to discover that all this was a horrible nightmare...until the next time Stevil shows up.  This time, he emerges from a toilet within the Winslow household.

Ready to jump the shark again, kids?

Urkel wakes up and realizes it was once again a terrible dream.  He tries to tell Carl about his nightmares, but Carl tells him to grow up and leave him alone (which was basically how all of their conversations ended).

Later, Carl finds a random box that has been delivered to his living room.  Inside is a ventriloquist doll that looks exactly like him.  Instead of being utterly shocked and terrified (and wondering who the heck the billing slip was), he promptly takes the creepy doll out of the box and begins playing with it.

You can probably see where this is going...

I was in the first two Die Hard movies; now it's come to this...

Urkel tries to warn Carl that his soul will soon be burned in the fires of hell, but to no avail.  Stevil busts down the front door, walks in, and gives life to the new ventriloquist puppet, which promptly decides to names himself.....'Carlsbad.' (You have no idea how much it hurt to write that).

Stevil and Carlsbad then demand that Carl and Urkel give over their souls.  They also decide to have a dance off, because why not...

Stevil and Carlsbad then proceed to chase the terrified duo around the house and corner Carl.  Just when it seems that Carl may escape, he realizes that Stevil has stolen Urkel's soul and inhabited his body.  Stevil then shoots green CGI lightning at Carl and rips his soul from his eyes.

Just like all those people that saw you in 'Turner and Hooch'!

Carl wakes up to realize it was all a dream.  He and Urkel realize that they have learned a couple of very valuable lessons:  Carl should have listened to Urkel about his bad dreams, and the writers/producers of Family Matters loved watching little people dance.