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What the . . . One to Grow On?

August 31, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the One to Grow On?

Do I ever forget anything?


While away from you all on my bloggy staycation, enjoying the good life of nose-and-butt-wiping, I forgot about my weekly WTF? segment.

So my sincere apologies if you came here last Friday hoping to see something in the way of a Mr. T’s Fashion Show, or a Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies commercial, or a Mr. Wizard threatening a kid with a hammer type of thing.

Did I forget about One to Grow On, the Saturday morning PSA that I once used as my moral compass?

No.  Never!

Even today I’m still applying to my everyday life those generous nuggets of wisdom that were passed along to me by my favorite sitcom actors.

Why, in fact, just last week I refrained from burning down my house with a box of matches because I remembered the words of Kid #1 in Members Only Jacket spoken to Kid #2 in Members Only Jacket.

“You burn me up.  What’s the point of playing with fire if it can burn both of us?”

– Kid #1 in Members Only Jacket


And who can forget this?  The passion, the fire — yes, fire — in Michael J. Fox’s eyes.  Wow.  Did they give out Emmys for PSAs?  I hope so.

54 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2012 11:58 am

    The instant I saw the screen capture with Tootie, I said in the tone of the commercial, “That’s one to grow on!” Man, some memories never fade. Argh.

    P.S. I thought of you when I found out Blair is going to be on Survivor. So weird to see two different eras combine so openly on television. Oh how I wish Blair would wear her school uniform while paddling ashore the island. I wonder if Mrs. Garrett will make a surprise appearance.

    • August 31, 2012 1:40 pm

      The opening to One to Grow On is burned in my brain as well. Weird little cartoon kids depicting various “issues” morph into one another. I should’ve included a clip with that intro.

      Blair is going to be on Survivor? I live under a rock (or perhaps on a deserted island that is not inhabited by reality show stars). So I appreciate these updates about what’s going on in the world. I bet Tutti would kick some Richard Hatch ass.

    • August 31, 2012 10:30 pm

      One of my customers said I reminded her of Tootie. I’m way too young to know who that is, so i made a face and my customer laughed and said “She was cute and so are you especially when you smile”. Once I saw that pic of Tootie I’m like “Yeah, she was cute but I’m way cuter”.

      • September 1, 2012 6:18 am

        Well, if you are way too young to remember Tootie, you won’t remember Jane Curtain from the early days of Saturday Night Live. When I was in high school and college, everyone told me I looked like Jane Curtain. UGH. The worst.
        I’d much rather look like Tootie – she was super cute as a kid, and she has grown up to become a beautiful woman. No doubt you have, too. :) Now, if we could just get HER on Survivor.

      • September 4, 2012 11:45 am

        Tootie! I loved Tootie — it’s a compliment! I was told I reminded someone of the main character (a boy) on the movie Dazed and Confused. Now that’s what you call a put down.

  2. August 31, 2012 12:38 pm

    Gee, that was great! “What’s so hot about playing with matches?”

    • August 31, 2012 1:42 pm

      I know! So many puns…it’s killing me…oh no, Dorothy, I’m melting…please make it stop…!

  3. August 31, 2012 12:54 pm

    Wow. I never stepped a toe out of line when I was a kid because of PSAs like that one. Yes. I was a dweeb.

    • August 31, 2012 1:43 pm

      I was right there with you in the toeing-the-line dweeb category. Don’t let the bratass face fool you.

  4. August 31, 2012 1:05 pm

    What is in Michael J. Fox’s eyes is, I believe, the results of over indulgence in illicit substances.

    • August 31, 2012 1:06 pm

      Holy crap, you saw it too! When he first turns around to face the camera, I thought he looked high as a kite.

      • August 31, 2012 1:08 pm

        Perhaps that was the only way he could be persuaded to do this PSA!

      • August 31, 2012 1:11 pm

        Too bad it wasn’t a PSA for “just say no” — we kids might’ve really learned a thing or two. Like “Where did you buy your stash, Mr. Fox?”

      • August 31, 2012 1:13 pm

        Not me, said the chicken. I was a good girl. Until I started doing drugs and getting paid for it, that is.

      • Running from Hell with El permalink
        August 31, 2012 3:00 pm

        LOL!! You gotta be right Elyse! Thanks for the grins, Angie!

      • September 3, 2012 8:00 pm

        Thanks for stopping by, El!

    • August 31, 2012 6:25 pm


  5. August 31, 2012 1:21 pm

    I think the PSA should have pointed out that they might drop a match and put a hole in their Member’s Only jackets! That’ll keep a kid on the straight and narrow.

    • August 31, 2012 1:45 pm

      Yeah, who cares about the text books catching on fire? I used to walk around puddles to keep my Members Only jacket gleaming gray.

      • August 31, 2012 6:25 pm

        My thoughts exactly. That’s just what you need to do: give kids the idea to set their school books on fire.

      • September 3, 2012 8:02 pm

        Yeah, who in the world wrote that script? Nancy Reagan right after she endorsed the “just say no” campaign? Can you be any more out of touch with kids, script writer person?

  6. August 31, 2012 1:39 pm

    Oh, yeah, those spots were truly inspirational. Hey, THE MORE YOU KNOW, right?

  7. August 31, 2012 1:48 pm

    Snow and ice don’t burn, so I don’t think they played that one in Canada – though it explains why Michael J. Fox (who I am legally mandated to point out is also Canadian) used lighters.

    We’re having a dinner party tonight, and I was just wondering whether or not to light some candles. Now I have my answer. I honestly don’t know how I would live my life without the timely wisdom you share here.

  8. August 31, 2012 3:26 pm

    The music doesn’t really fit, like it sounds more suited for a laundry detergent commercial than the dangers of burning fire.

    • September 4, 2012 11:43 am

      Yes, and I think a laundry detergent commercial offers a more convincing PSA. Oh god, I’ve mixed whites with colors! What can be done about this? Oh, the devastation of bleeding colors! My son’s white socks are pink! He’ll be kicked off the baseball team!

      That kind of nonsense right there will scare you straight.

  9. August 31, 2012 6:26 pm

    That was painful to watch. Oh, poor, poor Alex P. Keaton.

    • September 4, 2012 11:29 am

      Poor Alex P. Keaton is right. He looks so mad here. I wish I could ease his mind and tell him that, in the end, the kids make the right decision.

  10. August 31, 2012 7:25 pm

    I was past the Sat morning phase when these came out and in to the lusting after MJF stage. However, I was very concerned about our height difference further aggravated by my unruly giant hair adding another 3 inches of (unwanted) stature. Because, of course, we were destined for each other and would eventually meet in order to live the rest of our lives together. Looking down on him might have been, well, off putting. For him.

    • September 4, 2012 11:33 am

      Ha! I’m a shortie so he’d be perfect for me! I also recall feeling taken aback when I learned he was actually 48 years old when he played Alex P. Keaton. Or maybe not quite that old. Maybe more like 38. Or probably 28. Okay, I don’t remember the age he was. But I just know that he was ooooooold and playing a teenager. In truth, he was probably a lot younger than I am now.

  11. Emily permalink
    September 1, 2012 9:47 am

    That was good……not “don’tcha put it in your mouth” good, but still respectable. Nice throwback, Angie. :)

  12. September 1, 2012 10:09 am

    I love everyone’s intensity. Fox looks like he’s never heard of anything more pathetic and reckless than playing with matches. The second kid talks like if he were 20 years older he be yelling, “WHAT THE F***, RALPH!? WHAT THE F***?! YOU WANNA BURN MY BOOKS? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT, YOU MOTHERF***ER?! YOU’RE KILLING ME HERE, RALPH, YOU’RE KILLING ME!!!”

    • September 4, 2012 11:36 am

      Intensity indeed! I love the words “anything more pathetic…than playing with matches” in your comment! Seriously immoral, these two. Later we learn that Harry will go on to be a serial killer. Fox will also give his perspective on Harry’s serial killing, and it will look a whole lot less intense than his performance here.

  13. September 2, 2012 6:35 am

    Haha! I was convinced until they put forward the idea that the risk of setting your school books on fire would actually be a deterrent for school kids.

    • September 4, 2012 11:37 am

      I know. And you can’t tell me that at least one kid didn’t go on to burn his textbooks after watching this.

  14. September 2, 2012 5:20 pm

    Ah, the 80’s way of PSA’s. Everything was toned down and all Smokey-the-Bear-nice when it comes to dangerous things like fire. One to Grow On, though catchy with their celeb backing, didn’t quite have the impact of today’s.

    My kids are like, “What’s a match? You mean that long blow-torch thingie that you use to safely light the coals on the grill? That we figured out how to use when we were 4? That can remove all of your hair in seconds flat?”

    Matches are so yesterday, Angie (my Angie, that is). PSA’s on fire cannot be understated. Here was my kids’ YouTube teacher. Not as, uh, 80’s, rainbows and unicorns.

    PS – I agree with Ape No. 1. Like NOT burning your books is a deterrent? I’d be, like, LIGHT ‘EM UP!

    • September 4, 2012 11:40 am

      Holy cow! That is one intense PSA, Shannon! Although, I still think Michael J. Fox’s performance in One to Grow On is much more scary. I feel like he’s looking at me like I disappointed him! It makes me bleed inside.

      • September 5, 2012 8:24 am

        LOL That look making you “bleed inside.” I know what you mean. I had a crush on him big time – plastered him right over my Shawn Cassidy poster on the ceiling above my lime-green corner-unit roll-away bed. So dreamy, that.

        BTW, did you know that Fox is Michael Pollan’s brother-in-law? Kinda neat trivia, given my current situation.

      • September 7, 2012 8:42 pm

        GET OUT! Are you serious? I knew his wife’s last name was Pollan. How crazy. I love adorable little factoids like these. I could just gobble them up for days. Thanks for sharing!

        I think my grandparents had that lime-green corner-unit roll-away bed. Theirs might’ve been green plaid though.

      • September 7, 2012 8:44 pm

        Yeah, but did their corner unit table (under which one of the beds would roll) have AM radio AND FM? Mine had both…and the control knobs were on my side (rather than my sisters). Man, was that gold.

      • September 7, 2012 8:50 pm

        The ’70s were an innovative time in furniture craftsmanship. Not until the ’90s when some genius invented the classy look of drink holders built into recliable couches did anyone ever top these table-bed-couch-radio units.

  15. September 3, 2012 10:56 am

    Was it my imagination, or was Michael J. Fox doing a pretty decent Christopher Walken imitation?

  16. September 3, 2012 4:10 pm

    At the end, did they say, “Let’s go see the creature that ate Ralph!” or was I hearing things??
    WTF indeed!

    • September 4, 2012 11:27 am

      Ha! Yeah, I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about either? Maybe we missed the first scene in the clip. Or maybe they’ve been smoking from the same joint that Mr. Fox is enjoying. That’s what the matches were for.

  17. September 4, 2012 12:41 pm

    I heard all the cool kids comment in this comment box now. But frankly, I’m still trying to shake off my disappointment at finding out you forget things.

    I never forget anything.

    Wait, what was I saying?

    P.S. – You know that video is unrealistic because any sane 8-year-old boy would KILL to set his books on fire.

    • September 7, 2012 8:31 pm

      I believe this video launched the future careers of many serial arsonists.

  18. October 1, 2012 2:55 pm

    Could the script be any more out of touch with the youth of the 1980s? Even as a total dork, I’d be more worried about my clothes catching on fire than my text books. My clothes, my hair, or my face. Get with the program, 80s PSAs!

    • October 6, 2012 11:53 am

      You are so right. When he mentions the risk of burning their books, I almost felt like I was waiting for a laugh track.

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