GROWING PAINS:THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The second season of the classic 80s sit com follows the Seaver family with their three kids as they try to live in a more progressive world. Mike continues to be the trouble-maker, Carol the brain and Ben the baby of the family. Mike gets a car and a job, Carol gets a boyfriend and a taste of popularity and Ben learns some very adult lessons about which numbers he should and shouldn’t be calling. Meanwhile, Jason and Maggie deal with the struggles of being modern 80s parents – from debating a school dress code to facing a midlife crisis.
WHAT I LIKED
Like most people in my generation, I watched “Growing Pains,” not just in its prime time slot, but also when it hit syndication after we got home from school. We all remember it as being cheesy and often squeaky clean (in spite of the hilariously named best friend Boner and the mascot being the Dewey Hooters… I still contend that the “Growing Pains” writers just weren’t cool enough to know what they did there), but we tend to forget how loveable and topical the show was.
In the past couple decades, with Kirk Cameron’s often overblown prayer-warrior reputation, the show has been tarnished, but watching these episodes brings back a flood of memories. As an adult with kids of my own, I realize that the shows are relateable not just to me as a high school kid of the 80s but also to me now.
The 80s were a time when radicals from the 60s were trying to rationalize being a mature parent, and this is very much the case with Jason and Maggie Seaver. The generation has switched up again, and those of us who were running around in the 80s are now making that shift. Like their kids, Jason and Maggie don’t always make the best decisions, but they are written to be very human.
“Growing Pains” is a funny show, and it’s still fresh in its second season (though there’s a taste of a few “very special episodes” spearheaded by Kirk Cameron’s serial do-good-ness). They deal with some relatively heavy issues, but the pacing and balance is good, making funny shows without the awkward shift in tone we saw in earlier 80s shows.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As much as I loved this series, and as much as I rediscovered how much I loved this series by watching it again, the warts are very apparent. Shows were still shot on video back then, giving it a cheap look, and the weight of a sit-com framework (with everything resolving in 22 minutes) does push the cheesy envelope at times.
But still, you expect these warts on anything from this era. Were you not a child of the 80s, this might be unbearable. But for those of us who were… it’s a sweet return of a classic.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Children of the 80s who watched Mike, Carol and Ben grow up 25 years ago.