BMW: 319, “I Was a Teenage Spy”; April 26, 1996

Aw man, there’s just one episode after this and then my FAVORITE episode. I mean, my other favorite, since I already called The Monkees reunion one my favorite.

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Turner and Eli force Cory to hand out fliers for the school dance even though they aren’t at school. The school dance is “50s Sock Hop” themed. Cory asks Topanga to go with him but Topanga rightfully points out that Cory is the one who broke up with her so it would be stupid of them to go out together.

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Meanwhile, the microwave is broken. Eric plugs it in and it shuts off Cory’s computer, so now he has to start his 10 page paper on the Russian space race all over again because he’s an idiot and never once saved his paper while he was writing. Or handwrote the paper and then typed it up. Or just handwrote it.

Amy and Alan talk about Sputnik or something, and Cory tries to fish for more information because they were there when all that nonsense was going on, except apparently they went to high school in the 70s so they would’ve been too young to have a first-hand account of the space race.

Feeny, however, was alive and aware during the 50s. Okay.

Then Cory plugs in the microwave for literally no reason and then goes back in time.

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All these screencaps are large.
All these screencaps are large.

It’s 1957. And apparently I mixed up THIS time-travel episode for one of the other ones on this show (because there are THREE time-travel episodes).

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Cory gets excited when he sees Shawn, or Shawnzie. I guessed he would be called Shawnzie before he said anything but that may just be because I’ve seen this episode before.

Shawnzie had a little prank set up outside of Feeny’s office, where when the door opens a rain of ping-pong… er, table tennis balls fall down. Cory takes the blame so Shawnzie won’t get in trouble, and Cory claims his name is “Brad Pitt, sir” because Shawnzie tells him to make up a name. So Feeny calls him “Mr. Pittsir”.

The bell rings and everyone piles into class. There’s somehow an empty seat for Cory/Brad Pitt even though he’s not really a student in the 1957 school.

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The topic for discussion that day is “What will life be like in 40 years?” This seems an odd topic for an English class.

Cory, having come from 39 years in the future, says “Man will walk on the moon, pizza will have cheese baked right in the crust, and men and women will be equals not just in the workplace, but in relationships.” Two of those are true.

Turner is like “… tell us more about that pizza.” Then he has everyone practice their fallout drills. Duck and cover! I know taking cover under a table definitely would not save you in the event of a nuclear war, and probably a lot of people back then knew that as well, but I think maybe they just told people that so they could feel safe? I mean, when you’re living in a constant, day-to-day dull fear that any minute now, a bomb could drop on your city, would you rather feel like maybe you could survive if you hid under something, or be told there’s literally nothing you can do at that point besides close your eyes and pray?

Turned out to be a moot point anyway.

Cory comments that it’s ridiculous to think hiding under a table and covering your butt would save you. Turner is shocked to hear someone utter the “utt-bay” word. Shawnzie claims it was he who said that word, to repay Cory/Brad for taking the fall for him earlier.

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1950s Eric is torn between going to Harvard or Yale, as both have accepted him, and it turns out both want him as a teacher rather than a student. Feeny reminds him that there are no females at Harvard. Eric doesn’t want anything to distract him from his studies, so Harvard it is. Haha, 1950s Eric is the opposite of 1990s Eric!

Topanga objects of Feeny sending Shawnzie to a reform school. I forget what Feeny says, but Cory offers to take Topanga to the zoo to look at the giraffes so she can forget her troubles, and then they can go get some rocky road ice cream. Topanga is uncomfortable that this guy she’s never seen before is acting like he knows her.

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Then Feeny comes back from somewhere with terrible news – the Russians have launched a satellite, and it might have an atomic warhead on it! Duck and cover!

Cory does the math and realizes the satellite is only Sputnik, which isn’t a spy or war satellite, it’s just for space experiments. Feeny, Turner, and Eric then accuse Cory of being a Russian spy. Cory yells “Flash!” getting everyone to duck and cover, and he runs away while they’re distracted.

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It turns out he didn’t run far because Shawnzie and Topanga have him stuffed in a locker, where he’s hiding from the witchhunt. Cory then takes the two of them to his house, even though his parents probably won’t recognize him because no one else does. Also how lucky is it that Cory wasn’t wearing a plaid flannel shirt over a white t-shirt and under a hooded sweatshirt? [Fun brain fart: I typed that as “shootsweart”, somehow, at first]

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Cory’s super excited because there’s a big plate of homemade brownies on the table. Who WOULDN’T be excited? Brownies are awesome.

Morgan comes from downstairs and tells him not to eat any, because mom said they were for after dinner. Weird that they’re just all sitting out on the table, then, isn’t it?

When asked, Morgan explains that their mom is out currently, but dad is upstairs. Cue dad:

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Boy, 1950s Alan sure looks like Tom Bosley who famously portrayed Mr. Cunningham on 1950s-set show Happy Days.

Oh wait, that isn’t supposed to be Alan. There’s a knock at the door, and Cory wonders if perhaps that’s Alan, but doesn’t wonder why his dad would be knocking on his own house door. And of course, it’s not Alan.

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It’s Anson Williams, who famously portrayed Potsie on 1950s-set show Happy Days… and also several episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Lizzie McGuire, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Stark Trek Voyage, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and one episode of Cousin Skeeter.

Good ol' Nickelodeon.
Good ol’ Nickelodeon.

Tom Bosley offers him a brownie. Anson Williams tries to cheer Cory up by sharing some advice his parents used to give him, until he remember that he didn’t have parents, or even a house. He just hung out at other people’s houses.

Morgan sees a story about Cory being a spy in the newspaper. Tom Bosley calls the cops, that ratfink.

So Cory gets arrested, but his parents come to bail him out.

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It turns out they’re actually Russian spies. Huh.

An air-raid siren goes off and the cop at the station yells “It’s the big one! Duck and cover!” he unlocks Cory’s cell and he and Amy and Alan hide under the various tables in the cell, while Cory runs out. Shawnzie and Topanga set off the siren and now they’re going to escape with Cory, but not before he puts on this clever disguise to avoid suspicion.

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Where’s Cory and how did they get that sweater on that chicken?!

They head to Shawnzie’s makeout pad, which is Turner apartment but everything is covered in dustsheets, and also there’s a record player and a cheerleader already there.

Cory tries to convince Topanga his name is really Cory and he’s from the future. He shows her his underwear, because his mo always sews him name in it. Except he’s wearing Eric’s underwear, apparently. Topanga tells him it doesn’t matter who he is or where he’s from, as long as he’s here now.

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Topanga likes giraffes and rocky road and stuff, so she likes Cory and whatever.

Feeny breaks into the stereo broadcast to say there’s currently a witchhunt out for Cory’s head. Shawnzie says they ought to go to the Wise Man for advice. Wise Man is conveniently located at Chubbie’s.

Wise Man is also Pat Morita, who famously portrayed Arnold on 1950s-set sitcom Happy Days, and also was Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid franchise. And the emperor in Mulan.

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He advises Cory that the best way to go back to his own time is use the method that got him in the past in the first place – a microwave. Shawnzie and Topanga say their goodbyes, although Topanga tells Cory if he stays she can really “make it worth [his] while”.

Eric and the police dogs are outside, having tracked Cory down, and then Cory realizes that it’s 1957, so there are no microwaves.

Except the first microwave oven, called the Radarange, was sold in 1946! If only the cast of Futurama had known that in that episode where they go back in time to a mishap with a microwave oven.

Cory’s realization is still valid, though, because microwaves weren’t sold for home use until the 60s (apparently they were too large and bulky in the 1950s for your average home, rather like the issue with computers). Cory starts repeating “How am I gonna get home?” while everyone else from the episode shows up and chants “Spy! Spy! Spy!” at him, oddly including his parents who were also Russian spies.

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Cory’s mom wakes him up in modern times. And Shawn is there because he’s always there for Cory. Either he’s got some sort of Cory radar or someone went out of their way to call Shawn to tell him that Cory had a bit of a shock. Probably should’ve just taken him to the hospital, especially when he didn’t wake back  immediately.

Also Topanga’s there and Cory’s touched. Yay.

I mean, not literally.

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During the credits, Cory is typing up his term paper. So they had all their final exams in the last episode, but Cory’s typing up a term paper now? Probably would’ve made more sense for this episode to happen before the previous one. Eric notices the battery on that lapbrick is running low, so Cory plugs it in. The electricity goes haywire like when he plugged in the microwave before. They really ought to look into what’s wrong with that plug if it’s not just the microwave that’s having issues.

Anyway Cory initially worries he’s gone back in time again, but nope. Everything’s fine.

Except for futuristic Mr. Feeny!

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He talks into his watch/telecommunication device and announces he has “the earth alien” and will be “beaming up” shortly. Cory tries to protest at first but then is just like, “Aw, who cares?” And then they beam away.

There’s a lot in this episode that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it was all a dream, so I won’t waste time on it. I mean the other night I had a dream where I was attending Degrassi Community School while also being one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting. THAT doesn’t make sense. It was great, everyone thought I was really boring and plain, but they invited me to court because I knew how to fix instruments. And for some reason Burt Chance from Raising Hope was also there.

Discussion Topics: Any of you ever have really weird dreams like mine, or like Cory’s? Have you ever felt like you’ve gone back in time as a result of faulty wiring? Are any of you old enough to remember when laptops were several inches thick? Have any of you ever been accused of being a Russian spy, or have you accused anyone else of being one?

Random fact: My textbook for Spanish I or Spanish II included a set of vocabulary words for kitchen gadgets – like refrigerator, sink, toaster, and microwave. The example sentence for microwave translated to something like “The microwave is great new invention!” The odd thing is, as I pointed out, the microwave was invented in the 1940s and became commercially available for homes in the 60s.

So obviously when I was taking Spanish in about 2007 the microwave oven wasn’t really a “new” invention. But the really weird thing is, it wasn’t even new when the textbook came out.

That’s the problem with textbooks. College textbooks, they release new editions every 5 months and you HAVE to have the new one even though all they usually do is rearrange chapters sometimes. In lower education, they NEVER give you new textbooks ever, so you have cases like my Spanish textbook, which in addition to the microwave thing also prominently featured a photo of 80s band Menudo.

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Again, we were using this textbook in about 2006 or 2007. The Menudo thing wasn’t even in the context of like “Here’s this formerly popular band of all Hispanic boys”, it was like “Look at this hip, fresh, totally new band because this textbook was written in 1989.”

Also featured in that Spanish textbook: Floppy disks and audio- and video-cassette tapes. Which weren’t totally outdated back then… well, except the audio-cassette tapes, even if you didn’t have an mp3 player then you definitely were using CDs at least.

Am I the only tv recap blog that will talk about outdated textbooks and microwave ovens at length?

Oh yeah I think the bit about the sock hop at the beginning of the episode was just to… hm… I was going to say it was probably so there was something 50s-themed in Cory’s mind for his dream, but he already had the Sputnik thing. I guess maybe it was just there for Topanga to tell Cory to move on and then have Cory… not move on.

 

 

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