Syndicated TV, 1998
For me, the tag team of Bret & Owen Hart is one of the most frustrating “what ifs” in wrestling. Despite having such individual technical skill and natural chemistry, the two most famous of Stu and Helen’s boys only tagged a handful of times, including a great match against the Steiner Brothers seen only on Coliseum video.
True, before the 1994 Royal Rumble, Bret vowed to dedicate the rest of his career to teaming with his youngest brother, but the pairing imploded mere weeks later when Owen famously kicked Bret’s leg out of his leg.
Owen’s tragic death in 1999 closed the book on any future Hart brothers tag team run, but in 1998 they had made one last run as a tag team in the most unlikely of places: syndicated television.
Even more unusual is that the Bret and Owen were working for WCW and WWF, respectively, when the episode was filmed and aired.
And as for that TV show?
The “Honey, I” franchise began with the light-hearted family comedy, “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”, where Wayne Szalinski used Zentradi technology to revert his children into Micronians.
This was followed by the powerful, “Honey, I Blew Up The Kid”, a stirring call-to-arms against Accidental Childhood Nitroglycerin Ingestion (ACNI).
Capping off the trilogy was the straight-to-video, “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves”, which featured only one remaining cast member from the original movie, Rick Moranis.
The next logical step in running the franchise into the ground was a syndicated “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids” TV show, which the producers, unwilling to expend any more precious creative energy, named, “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show.”
On the plus side, only one remaining cast member from the original movie declined to appear on the show.
So anyway, the whole family got recast.
For instance, playing son Nick is Thomas Dekker…
…best known for playing the future savior of mankind on the Terminator TV show…
…and for refusing to give back his autographed Steinbrenner birthday card on Seinfeld.
The Szalinksis’ youngest son, Adam, however, is not featured on the show. He got blown up in the second movie, remember?
In the second season of the show’s three-season run (which I don’t remember in the slightest), the Harts would show up. Or at least Bret would.
Either Owen’s real name was David Parkinson, or they left him out of the credits.
As is typical for a wrestling episode, we find out early on that one of the main characters is a wrestling fan and always has been, but we’ve just never noticed.
In this case, it’s Amy Szalinski, who is obsessed with the Hart brothers.
When she finds out that the Harts’ next match (which just happens to be in her own town of Matheson, Colorado) is sold out, she pouts quite hard.
After all, she pouts about everything.
But luckily for her, the Harts show up outside of her school to sign autographs.
After Amy introduces herself, the Harts recognize her name as that of the obsessed fan who has been writing them letters every week for years.
They offer her four free tickets to the show, and she in turn invites them to dinner. Bret Hart makes a quite inappropriate joke to the high-school girl. Perhaps his part was written for Bruce?
With dinner coming up that same night, Amy has to tell her mother, Diane (the titular Honey of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”) on the shortest of notice that the Harts are coming over.
But on the bright side, the family will get to see them wrestle the Executioner Brothers, who are the bad guys. And how does Mom react?
By correcting her daughter’s insider wrestling terminology. Who wrote this show, Ed Ferrara?
(Answer: kind of)
It turns out that their neighbor, the chief of police and future Port Asbestos marina operator, knows all about wrestling – Dick the Bruiser, Verne Gagne, you name it. It seems the only character on the whole show who doesn’t follow wrestling is Dad.
When the Hart brothers come to dinner, Wayne sticks his foot in his mouth by unfavorably comparing pro wrestlers to those of the Olympic variety, then suggesting that wrestling isn’t exactly on the level.
Owen takes special offense, suggesting the Szalinski patriarch speak with Hart’s chiropractor, who’d be happy to tell him that wrestling is as real as his title of “doctor”.
Outside, the Harts demonstrate both chain wrestling…
…and the dreaded delayed nerve hold…
…which goes into effect ten seconds after it’s applied.
I think I’ve seen Mark Henry use that move.
After showing everyone how dangerous wrestling really is, the Harts offer to teach the family some moves. Makes sense to me. Chief McKenna scoop slams Owen…
…while Diane takes Bret over with a wrist lock…
…injuring both Harts.
At the local medical facility, the Harts enlist Dad and the Chief to take their places in the match.
Of course, the regular guys want nothing to do with it, so the show ends right then and there.
In the next scene, we find out that Dad and Chief’s upcoming opponents, the Executioner Brothers, are in fact burglars on the run from the law.
Owen (Wilson, possibly) leaves the hospital on crutches…
…while Bret leaves with his arm in permanent Seig-Heil position as they take off in their specially labeled car, not to be seen for the rest of the episode.
All is not lost for the brand new tag team of Wayne Szalinski and Chief McKenna, as Wayne has the perfect invention just for the occasion, a super-powered super-suit…
…which he rationalizes as no more of an unfair advantage than steroids. Ouch! And to control it, all he needs is this special controller that is certainly not a TV remote.
At school, Wayne and the Chief’s sons take up a collection of bets for their dads’ wrestling match, but get caught by their principal…
…and grounded by their parents, meaning they can’t go to the match that night.
That’s too bad, because only Chief’s son knows that the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel will drive Chief McKenna, who has vowed never to be violent in front of children, into an uncontrollable rage.
The boys also discover, using super-advanced Szalinski technology that unfortunately still has to display hideous 1990s web pages…
…that the Executioner Brothers are two escaped criminals put in prison to begin with by the Chief.
The dads don’t stand a chance against the out-for-revenge Executioner Brothers and their Bludgeon Brothers-style mallets.
At the Civic Center, Judge & Jury, come to the ring first. Judge, being a judge, carries his giant gavel…
…although Jury, despite being a jury, is not twelve people.
Next, Mother and daughter lead the babyface team to the ring dressed as policewomen, leading certain horny fans in the front row to just *beg* to be arrested.
Considering that one of the “cops” they’re hitting on is a underaged girl, arrests are not all that unlikely.
Meanwhile, the boys, who are still grounded, enter the arena incognito by pulling the old “dress as one really tall guy” routine. Not only did no one on the event staff get suspicious, they apparently let the boys into the sold-out show without a ticket.
Dad hands Amy the ever-important controller to the suit. She immediately and obliviously drops on the ring apron (which is the hardest part of the ring, if you didn’t know)…
…at which point it gets kicked around the arena floor and mistaken for a baby’s toy, rather than a TV remote – I mean, uh, super-suit controller.
The match kicks off with the Executioner Brothers throwing the referee out of the ring. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if someone had listened to Gorilla Monsoon’s advice for once and employed a second referee for tag team matches.
“Deputy” Szalinksi is too busy signing autographs to notice Chief McKenna getting his clock cleaned. When Szalinski does notice, he thinks McKenna’s just selling, not realizing that this match has turned into a shoot (if it was ever supposed to be a work in the first place; that’s never quite explained).
When it’s his turn, our genius inventor is stunned to discover that his super-suit isn’t absorbing his opponent’s blows at all.
Worse yet, the baby in the audience starts playing with the remote…
…causing Szalinski to spin around and knock down anyone in his path, friend or foe.
Coincidentally, this was Owen Hart’s Mega Move from WWF Raw.
Outside the ring, Dad is still at the mercy of the baby with the remote control, who forces him to repeatedly pimp-slap a fan in the front row.
At this point, Wayne Szalinski is probably wondering why in the world he needed his super suit, which he wears on his own body, to be operated by a remote control.
Fortunately, once Diane tracks down the remote, getting it back is literally like taking candy from a baby, except it’s a remote control instead of candy.
Now with the remote to his own suit in his hand, as it should have been from the start, Szalinski takes care of business.
The grounded middle school boys get found out by Diane, but give her the important scoop about the Executioners being fugitives.
The Szalinksi women unmask the bad guys as the escaped convicts…
…while the boys (who still insist on pretending to be one person) commandeer the announce booth and play Pop Goes The Weasel on the accordion…
…which makes the once-docile Chief go all Festus on the Executioners’ fugitive asses.
Between the costumes and the music, those tuning in might be forgiven for thinking this show is, I don’t know, stupid.
The babyfaces win and make the arrest to boot, keeping intact the undefeated streak for sitcom characters.
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