Diff'rent Strokes Episode 0501 Shootout At The O.K. Arcade


Aw yeah.  Remember Diff’rent Strokes?  I used to watch it as a kid.  Some of that Diff’rent Stokes *nostalgia*.

I still remember where I was when I heard that Gary Coleman died.  I was at work and one of the women there said “Gary Oldman died?  Oh.  Gary Coleman.  I thought it said ‘Gary Oldman’.  Who cares about Gary Coleman?” and I didn’t say anything because I’m not going to get involved in stupid office bullshit over Gary Coleman but I thought that it was extremely insensitive.

I don’t give a fuck about celebrities but Gary Coleman was great.  His parents took all of his money, he had serious health problems, but he didn’t keep trying to get work in Hollywood.  He just got a regular job like a normal person.  He was a security guard and probably some other stuff.  I don’t know why more child actors don’t do this.  A lot of them are always trying to get back into acting.  You’re no longer cute.  Get over it and just get a job.

Gary Coleman got it.  He was a down to earth guy.  He seemed to be kind of cantankerous at times but I liked it.  He didn’t take any shit.

So let’s check out some Diff’rent Strokes.

Great.  This video includes commercials.  But this seems to be a recent broadcast because the first commercial is about a “Word of God podcast”.  Huh.  This “church” seems to be in Atlanta and New York.  So…I’m guessing that this commercial was broadcast in Atlanta.  Weird.  Commercials for “churches”.  But that’s what these rednecks are into.

If you’re religious, that’s your business but I can’t understand people who are taken in my these fly by night revival things that are all the rage in the American South.  It takes a special kind of idiot to believe that Creflo Dollar Ministries is the path to salvation.

Then the next commercial is for Bobby Jones Gospel on BET.  Wow.  BET is broadcasting Diff’rent Strokes in or around 2020?  This is the best they can do?  And these fucking gospel music shows?  And commercials for scam religious groups?  This is shameful.

For the unaware, BET is Black Entertainment Television.  It’s a television channel aimed at black Americans.  So…well, draw your own conclusions.  Maybe this is what black Americans want to watch.  Religious bullshit and fucking 40 year old reruns of Diff’rent Strokes.

Then a commercial for a lawyer who specialises in kidney dialysis cases.  Black people have a higher incidence of diabetes.  Is this related to that?  If so, that’s shameful as well.  This shyster targeting vulnerable people.  Plus, Gary Coleman had kidney problems.

Then a commercial about debt consolidation.  Come on.  This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.  THESE are the commercials being shown on BET.  This is a con going after people who are deeply impoverished.  Black people have among the highest rates of poverty in the US.

I just want to watch some fucking Diff’rent Strokes.  But you have to go through 15 fucking minutes of commercials.

Let me give some interesting cultural insights.  This bullshit doesn’t go on any civilised nation.  I can give my experience of television in the UK.  No commercials for drugs, no commercials for laywers, no commercials for debt consolidation.  None of this shit.  But these commercials are ALL OVER American television.

And let’s talk about length.  A thirty minute program will have 12 minutes of commercials in the US.  Something like this.  There are commercials before the show, a few minutes into the show, then again, then at the end of the show.  It’s nowhere near as bad in the UK.  And on BBC, there are no commercials at all.

It really makes a difference.  And they aren’t these fucking scummy commercials for clear frauds.

Now a BET “service announcement” for heart disease.  What the fuck is this?  Who would want to watch this?  You just want to watch some Diff’rent Strokes but you’re bombarded with these racist commercials about how black people are all poor both financially and physically.

2:00 – Finally some Diff’rent Strokes goodness.  That familiar theme song.  Hey guys!  Remember the Diff’rent Strokes theme song?

Ooh, it’s a later episode.  But not so late that what’s his name, that red-haired boy was brought in.  Sam.  And Kimberly is still around.  She written out of the show after she got pregnant.  Then she had drug and alcohol problems.  She also starred in a softcore porn called Different Strokes.  Then she died of an overdose at 34, completely impoverished.

Wow.  Her son died 10 years ago.  I didn’t know that.  There’s not much information on it.  I can see a news article but I’m fucking blocked because I’m not in the US.  Oh, I got one now.  Yeah, he shot himself aged 25.

Now back to this happy theme tune.

Oh.  Conrad Bains.  Yeah, he’s dead too.  But he was almost 100 when he died.  He died a few years ago.

I think that Todd Bridges is still with us.  And that guy who played Dudley.

I’m pretty sure that all of the maids are dead.  But no maids even appeared the opening credits.  Maybe there weren’t any maids at this point in the show.

I mean, there was Mrs Garret.  She died not long ago, I think.  And there was that really old maid.  She must have died ages ago.  Maybe during the show’s run.  Then there was that chubby brunette woman.  She might still be around.  Who knows?  She was fairly young.

2:45 – It opens with Willis at the arcade playing some fake Superman video game.  It looks so fucking bad.  It’s called Space Sucker.  I wonder how they did this.  Is this an animation or what?  A very basic original game?  They’re not lingering on it for obvious reasons.

Willis is aiming to “beat” the game by getting 1,000,000 points.  I don’t think it works like that.  Maybe it’s like a kill screen thing for Pac-Man or whatever.

3:30 – Arnold then confides in Dudley that he’s jealous of his brother Willis.  Dudley counters, singing the praises of Willis, “He’s great at sports, he’s president of his class, he’s a terrific dancer, and he’s tall, dark, and handsome.”

This must be the episode where Dudley comes out as gay.  Diff’rent Strokes, like many sitcoms of the era, did many “very special” episodes like this where they tackled important social issues.  I like it.  You laugh AND learn.

Then Arnold gets the idea that if he practices at the game maybe he can beat Willis.  He then proceeds to put a coin into a DIFFERENT arcade cabinet.  So…this arcade must have two different Space Sucker games.  The game looks like complete dog shit, by the way.  Some sort of horizontal shooter with a character sprite that takes up about 1/3 of the screen.  The game must be popular in the Diff’rent Strokes universe, though.

Within seconds, Arnold is at the first boss and dies.  Yeah, I think this is animated.  I’m not sure, though.

4:15 – Next scene: Mr Drummond is in a floral apron and is attempting to cook.  Maybe he’s coming out as gay too.

But yeah, he must have got rid of the maids at this point.  But why wouldn’t he have a maid?  He’s a fucking millionaire living in a penthouse in New York.  I’m not entirely sure what he does for a living but it’s not important.  He’s a very wealthy man.  Just hire another maid/cook.

Then the food starts burning.  Ha!

5:30 – Willis and Arnold enter.  Willis says that he ate “chili chips” at the arcade.  What the fuck is that?  Chili fries?  But he’s using the British term for “fries”?  That would be weird.  Or does he mean nachos?  Either way, it’s interesting.  The term has clearly fallen out of favour.

 5:45 – After Willis does some boasting about his Space Sucker skills…wait.  Is this another gay reference?  Possibly.

But after Willis discusses his sucking prowess, Mr Drummon, who is not “with it”, asks what Space Sucker is.  Kimberly says, “It’s one of those weird video games.”

Kimberly has absolutely no interest in video games.  This is a fair reflection of society at the time.  Girls weren’t into this shit.

When was this episode released?  Fifth season…1982.  Wow.  Earlier than I thought.  This was the season premier.  Yeah, girls weren’t interested in this shit.

Even a lot of guys weren’t interested.  Look at the episode.  Millionaire Phillip Drummond isn’t buying an Atari 2600 or Coleco or whatever for his adopted sons.  Not out of lack of money, presumably, but rather a lack of interest from Arnold and Willis.

Dudley touched on some of the things that Willis was interested in: dancing and sports.  People weren’t fucking losers playing video games all day back in 1982.  They were out dancing with the ladies (or gentlemen…nobody’s judging) and playing sports.  Video games were simply a small part of life.  You’d play for a few minutes to kill some time and then do more interesting stuff.

Wow.  Dana Plato was such a bad actress.  I was trying to avoid making this comment but she’s bad at every line.

7:45 – Geriatric Mr Drummond claims to “still be working on puberty”.  What the hell does that mean?  His testicles haven’t descended yet?  I don’t need to know this.  But he has a daughter.  Maybe she’s adopted too.  Who’s the mother anyway?  Is that ever mentioned?  I’m sure it is but I can’t recall it.

8:15 – After Arnold asks for five bucks so he could practice more at the arcade, it’s time for another round of offensive commercials.

First commercial is advertising some “reality” show that features violent, foul-mouthed black men in bandanas and head rocking, sassy black women.  College Hill Atlanta.  Let me Google this shit.  It ended in 2009 so maybe this episode was taped around then.

By the way, didn’t Diff’rent Strokes get a DVD release?  Why didn’t somebody just upload the episodes from that?  We have to get this shitty tv broadcast, that probably has a lot of stuff cut out of it to make way for more racist commercials?

Then a commercial for a scam school that starts, “You’re sitting on the coach, you’re watching tv, and your life’s passing you by.”  Mm hmm.  Nothing racist about this.  If you’re watching BET, you’re probably black and you’re probably a worthless loser.  That’s the target audience for these commercials, after all.

This scam school no longer exists, by the way.  They were a for-profit system of “colleges”.  As Wikipedia dot com says:

In 2016, Corinthian Colleges was compelled to pay more than $1.1 billion to the State of California, in part for defrauding thousands of students. The judge ordered restitution of $820 million for students and civil penalties of $350 million. According to the California State Attorney General “For years, Corinthian profited off the backs of poor people—now they have to pay. This judgment sends a clear message: There is a cost to this kind of predatory conduct.

Oh, finally a normal commercial.  Bounty paper towels.  Everybody needs paper towels.

Then a weird Mario Kart commercial featuring some weird used car salesman character in a cowboy hat.

Then an air freshener commercial.  Does anyone actually buy air fresheners?

Then a commercial for Keebler cookies.  They look gross.

Then some sort of hotel booking website commercial.

Then ANOTHER commercial for this offensive College Hill Atlanta show.

11:30 – FINALLY some more Diff’rent Strokes goodness.  It starts with some Space Sucker action.  Oh yeah.  I remember this white friend of Arnold’s.  He didn’t appear in too many episodes, I don’t think.  He looks similar to Sam so that might be why they got rid of him.

This is something that I missed or it was cut out of this particular airing.  Arnold mentions reading a book in order to improve his Space Sucker abilities.  It’s some kind of strategy guide, I guess.

Arnold also got 300,000 points in this game after playing for an hour.  And he did it all on one quarter.  So in order to get 1,000,000 points and “beat” the game, presumably one would need to play for over three hours.  This game must not be much of a money maker.  Although, I guess Arnold did lose his first game after mere seconds.

12:30 – There’s a dream sequence where Arnold is like the big celebrity at the Superbowl half-time show just for being the champion at Space Sucker.  Everybody is cheering and he’s strutting around in his shirt that just says “Space Sucker”.  No art of any kind.  There’s like a double-wide arcade cabinet that he’s dancing in front of.

Oh, that’s another thing.  They have fake arcade cabinets in this episode and whoever made them only had a vague idea of what an actual arcade cabinet looks like.

Then Arnold places a coin into a slot which is apparently next to the joystick, as opposed to the front of the arcade cabinet.

He starts playing the game and the joystick is in the centre and there are buttons on both sides of this cabinet.  And he really has to stretch his arms out to reach all of these buttons because apparently they’re all used in this game.

Then there’s a shot where Arnold is only hitting the buttons and he’s doing it with both hands.  So no hand on the joystick.  And these buttons are spaced out really far apart.  So…yeah, this is a very poorly designed arcade cabinet.

14:30 – Arnold comes back to reality and challenges Willis to a Space Sucker…suck off, I guess.  Dudley’s eyes widen.  It will take place in two weeks to give everybody a chance to prepare.

Willis replies, “Arnold, the day you beat me, I’ll kiss your little tush in front of Macy’s window.”

Ummm…come on.  Is anyone in this episode NOT gay?  It’s like watching a later episode of Ellen.

And what a weird thing to say anyway.  Why would…I mean…what happens in Macy’s windows?  Isn’t it just the store display?  I don’t understand it.  I guess because a lot of people would be around there.

Also, there’s no real point to this challenge, is there?  It’s a single player game.  They can just continue as they’ve been doing: trying to get the high score on the scoreboard.  I understand that Willis is currently at the top of the scoreboard.

It’s just interesting to see that whoever was writing this only had the vaguest idea about video games.  Same with the guy who did the props.  Same with the guy who did the animation for the game.  People just weren’t interested in this shit but they had to crank out an episode.  “Kids today are playing these video games.  Let’s do an episode about that.”

15:30 – Oh great.  More commercials.  How long was that?  Four minutes.  Four minutes of the show, then three minutes of commercials.

They can’t even break it into the original three segments.  These half hour sitcoms were written in three parts, to allow for two commercial breaks during the show.  But now they want to cram even more commercials in so they have to break the show down even further.  This has to be done at unnatural breaks now.  It’s unbelievable.  How many fucking commercials do you need?  How much profit is enough?  And they’re showing these scummy, predatory commercials.

The first commercial is for auto insurance.  It features a car of young black men driving around and the passengers berate the driver for not having a manly enough car insurance policy.  What the fuck?  People are gaining or losing street cred based on what company they have a car insurance policy with?  I never fucking heard of that.

They bleeped out the name of his current insurance company.  What could have provoked that kind of response?  What are some of the effeminate car insurance companies?


I’ll just look for any gay ones…Assurant?  You know…ASSurant?  Chubb Corp?  Well, Hiscox, obviously, but they don’t seem to do auto insurance.  Actually, I don’t think that any of the ones I mention do.

Then a gym commercial.

Then a commercial for sleeping pills.  Come on.  Some Cosby shit here.  This is grossly irresponsible.  What are they encouraging with this?  And what are they implying?  Is this what black men do?

Then a diaper commercial that guilts you into buying their particular brand because they donate vaccines to third world countries for every package purchased.  Or something.

Then another commercial for a scam “college”.  And this one is particularly targeting “ex-offenders”.  I’m not even joking.  This is another for-profit, scam “college” which is targeting poor people.  And people who were in prison.

Then a maxi pad commercial.

Then a commercial for Iron Ring.  This is a “reality” show on BET where black men fight each other.

Then Mariah Carey is appearing on some show.

Then a commercial for some cheap phone covers.

20:00 – We interrupt these commercials to bring you a few minutes of the program.  .

Aw dude.  Come on.  Dudley is giving Arnold a massage.  INCLUDING A LEG MASSAGE!

Who the fuck was Shavar Ross’ (Dudley’s) agent?  Did nobody say, “Hey, this looks a little gay. Can we change this a little?”

20:45 – Oh yeah.  They’re in school.  I remember this Asian teacher.  Wasn’t she the one who was a stripper?  God, what a crazy episode that was.  Arnold and the gang discover that their teacher is a stripper.  Holy shit.  I’m going to have to find that episode next.

Oh, I just looked it up.  No, it was a different teacher.

23:45 – They’re back at the arcade for the big showdown and Dudley is rubbing on Arnold again.  It’s just ridiculous.

Then Willis enters and the competition begins.  Willis says that he’ll go first.  But…then there’s a musical montage that shows Willis and Arnold alternating play.  I don’t get it.  They’re only allowed one quarter each.  Again, whoever wrote this doesn’t have a firm grasp on video games, to say the least.

Then it’s game over for Willis.  He got 900,000 points.  So Arnold still has one “turn” left and he’s at 700,000 points.  So…I guess in this game you have, say, three lives and you can set it to two players and you alternate.  When somebody dies, the other player starts.  Is there any game like that?  I don’t think so.

27:30 – Arnold beats Willis’ score but then goes on to try to get 1,000,000 points to “beat” the game.

He does so and the end screen is the protagonist standing atop the mechanical dragon boss.

28:30 – Arnold suggests to Willis that he would like him to make good on his promise to kiss his buttocks in front of Macy’s window.  It’s just bizarre.

We don’t actually see that ending.  Fortunately.  Maybe it’s in the European release.  But the ending we do get is Mr Drummond getting a phone call from Miss Chung about Arnold missing class and Mr D subsequently grounding Arnold.

Roll credits.  Teleplay by Howard Leeds and Martin Cohan.  Who knows more about video games in 1982 than two old Jewish men?

Didn’t Howard Leeds do Small Wonder?  Yeah.  He did.  Huh.  Of course, that was a highly realistic show about robots.

And yeah, he was 60 something years old when he wrote this Diff’rent Strokes episode.

Martin Cohan was a spry 50 something.

These men never played a video game in their lives.  But I’m sure that they lived rich, full lives.  Hey, Martin Cohan co-created Who’s the Boss.  What a legacy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *