I have long said the great thing about streaming services is being able to watch things that were a bit over my head as a kid. With HBOMax… all old things are new again. So with my friend streaming it, I decided to give it a try. It is worth saying, I had a close friend that had the show on dvd. The Nanny is a sitcom which originally aired on CBS from 1993, to 1999, starring Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, a Jewish fashionista from Flushing, Queens, New York, who becomes the nanny of three children from the New York-British high society. The fun thing about this show is that I am also from Queens… so this first watch through, I was able to catch different references. Fun times. The show is also loaded with a number of guest stars some before they hit widespread fame. These include: Joan Collins, Jane Seymour, Patti LaBelle, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, Rosie O’Donnell, Celine Dion, Bette Midler, John Stewart, Jason Alexander, Jason Marsden and Elizabeth Taylor. So as is always the case. I have picked a handful of episodes that stuck out to me and had me in stitches.
So here we are in no particular order:
- Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1) – I have to start with the pilot… because I remember breaking up with a guy that I worked with… and then needing a new career asap. Long story. But just like the theme song says she ends up being dumped and fired the same day. She is forced to try selling make up door to door for money. I admire her hustle. I mean she was out there door to door right after losing her job. It is funny that the theme song highlights the pilot episode perfectly. When she get to the Sheffield’s door, Maxwell believes she is there for the Nanny position. I think my favorite part is when Brighton comes in faking an injury and dies in front of her. Fran who claims this job will be easy… steps over him and continues talk to Maxwell. She claims to have experience taking care of children. Imagine showing up for a job where you have no experience and your resume written in lipstick… and still getting the job. There are a lot of character introductions made in this episode but somehow… it doesn’t seem like too much to remember. From Maxwell and his children, to C.C. Babcock, to Niles the butler… It somehow worked just fine. What I enjoyed most about this episode and becomes the catalyst for the show (Fran upsetting the apple cart.) Maxwell is have a backer’s party to fundraise for his production, and Fran is excited to go along with the children—until they inform her that they, along with the nanny, are not invited. Fran and the kid’s show up all dolled up (Fran in a loud red dress) and they are allowed to stay. It is one of the first times that Fran is fired from her position. Another running theme.
- My Fair Nanny (Season 1, Episode 3) – This episode was pretty fun to me. Naturally, Fran would have been fired by now IRL… but she lives in TV Land. CC proposes to enroll Maggie into the debutante ball, an idea which Maggie objects to. Maggie is not a fan of the girls that are apart of this ball. Fran decides that she can ease the tension by throwing a high tea for Maggie to get in good with the mothers and daughters. However, C.C. (who is still annoyed that Fran is still around) puts in Fran’s head that she not going to fit in with the uptight group and will ruin Maggie’s reputation. (C.C. was on the right track with this assessment. Except she has no caring about anyone other than herself.) Fran seeks Maxwell and Niles’ tutelage of how to be a socialite. Fun scenes ensue with them commenting on how they need to get rid of her accent and when she points out that they, too, have an accent. They point out that they are British and will be viewed as classy no matter what they say. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPlyKPqXNzE&t=8s) Niles and Maxwell managed to subdue everything about Fran from her big hair to her big voice… and she wins over the mother’s at the high tea. But Maggie hates the new her and Maggies’s friends are bored out of their mind. She ends up changing back to her old self.
- What the Butler Sang (Season 2, Episode 20) – There is something about C.C. and Maxwell finding out that Niles has other skills besides cooking, cleaning and doing their laundry. Niles has a great singing voice and auditions for Maxwell’s new play. That leaves them a person short. Of course, they need someone to cook for the family. Enter Fran’s Sister, Nadine, who is a caterer. This turns into a disaster as most things do when Fran and her family is involved. Nadine becomes more of a nuisance when she starts chasing after Maxwell. Nadine and her husband are estranged and she is looking for a replacement for him. Nadine starts to annoy Fran, who calls Nadine’s husband to come retrieve her. They have a big argument that almost ruins Niles’s audition. C.C. is swept up in the ensuing nonsense as she is trying to keep Fran and Nadine quiet. A tall order in itself. Nothing like 3 grown people running through a mansion top speed and screaming at the top of their lungs while Niles is signing his ass off is just laughable. In the end, Nile’s audition was a success but not in the way one would think. Onlookers were more impressed by what they thought was a slapstick showing in the background than they were about Niles. Poor Niles was soon back to his station in life without even getting a taste of stardom. Poor Niles. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUjaZLNIsi8)
- Where’s the Pearls? (Season 3, Episode 20)– I should have known it was a star studded episode when Maxwell starts out trying to get Fran out of the house. Did I think it was going to be Liz Taylor? I should have known… it is 90’s tv. The iconic actress appeared in this episode — along with three other CBS series all airing on the same night — to promote her new fragrance. I am sure at the time… that this was a must see even. Even 20 years later, I am entertained. This storyline is a bit over the top. From Fran’s mother Sylvia (and grandmother Yetta) stowing away in the closet to meet Liz, to Liz handing over her black pearls necklace to Fran entrusting her to find a courier for them. Now even I know, she is the last person I would entrust pearls with. But it wouldn’t be a sitcom otherwise. In Fran’s defense, it was Sylvia’s idea that Fran take over the delivery. She takes a cab, and accidentally bumps her head against the window when the driver (Rosie O’Donnell) misses a red light. She wakes-up in the hospital with amnesia, and believes that she is Mrs. Sheffield (which Maxwell can’t bring himself to correct). However, news about an old rival restores Fran’s memory, and she blurts out that she lost Elizabeth’s pearls just as Maxwell enters.
- Lamb Chop’s on the Menu (Season 2, Episode 18) – If I had to rank episodes, this would probably have been number one. If you grew up in in the 90’s, then Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop need no introduction. (I spent many an hour annoying the hell out of my parents with the song that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friends. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz6OGVCdov8) Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop was a kids show that I watched RELIGIOUSLY growing up. It was very popular… or at least I remember it being. Oddly enough… people don’t really talk much about it anymore. I am 33 and hadn’t thought about Shari Lewis in years. Cue this episode. Fran offers to care for Chester while C.C. is having some work done in her apartment. Meanwhile, C.C. secures the film rights for “Lamb Chop: The Movie”. You guys should have seen my face when they said that Shari would be coming by the house. Now, I didn’t think it would actually be her. (I remembered that she died in the 90’s and wasn’t sure when.) I figured we would get a cheesy look alike… the way they do with Barbara Streisand. No. Shari Lewis herself walked through the door and I couldn’t stop smiling even as an adult. Maxwell tries to only talk to Shari and Fran has to point out that he should make nice with Lamb Chop. Maxwell, at first refuses to do so because she’s just a puppet. But Fran has to point out that he is making the talent mad. Props to Shari Lewis, her comedic timing is impeccable. There were so many sex jokes, I am not sure that I should be laughing. Mr. Sheffield invites guest star Shari Lewis to stay at his house, prompting a star struck Fran and Val to snoop around her guest room. While there, she accidentally lets Chester loose, who, she believes, eats Lamb Chop. Knowing she’ll get in trouble, Fran makes a “Fran-Chop”, a modified version of Lamb Chop, but Niles finds the real puppet in the laundry basket. It was a blast from the past and I was here for it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAT0_yWmSJ8)
- Me and Mrs. Joan (Season 4, Episode 6) – Anyone who has watched Dynasty before got a kick out of this episode. I had the SOAPnet channel people. Enter Joan Collins. This episode we get to see a bit more of Maxwell’s family. Up to this point, we had seen his sister marry the chauffeur, and his overbearing mother. This time we see Maxwell’s father, James, is in town and Fran decides to help end the Sheffield family feud by inviting James for dinner. Fran obviously believes that if she can mend the issues between father and son that she will win Sheffield’s heart. That almost never goes according to plan. Especially since she has no clue what the rift is about in the first place. James brings Joan (guest star Joan Collins), his former secretary for whom he left Maxwell’s mother. There is real tension there… and you can also understand why Maxwell is so standoffish. His father left the family devastated and Maxwell doesn’t want to do that to his children. He is also still sad about his wife. Maxwell is outraged at his father’s selfishness during dinner, while Fran keeps wondering why can’t Maxwell act more like his father and marry the help. Fran doesn’t get the big family reunion she is hoping for. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUJNoL2cfGo)
- The Nuchslep (Season 1, Episode 4) – This episode was super entertaining to me. Maggie has a first date… and Maxwell being the overprotective father that he is… doesn’t want her to go at all. (Been there done that.) Maxwell claims that it is because the boy, Eddie, (James Marsden), was the very same one he caught kissing Maggie in the pilot episode. Fran tries to argue on behalf of Maggie and Maxwell only relents if Fran agrees to be the chaperone or “nuchslep”. (At that age, I would rather die.) But Maggie seems to take it well. Maggie struggles to get a word in during the date while Fran has no problem keeping the conversation going. Poor Maggie was nervous as all get out. When Eddie calls the next day asking for Fran, Maggie gets jealous and accuses her of stealing her boyfriend. Fran is on the outs with Maggie. But Fran was really doing her job. Have a bit of fun but not too much. Fran blames Maxwell for sending her to be a third wheel. Maxwell blames Fran for not sitting a few rows back at the theater. My favorite was the couple in the theater talking about Fran like she wasn’t there. Fran realizes that she needs to serve as Maggie’s friend as opposed to her nanny, and decides to end things with Eddie, only to discover he just wanted to get his resume to Maxwell through her and that he really does like Maggie. (The big ballon pricker.) Aside from that, this episode also features the first appearance of Chester, C.C.’s vicious Pomeranian who hates his owner and loves Fran. Too funny. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O67-THf4LY4)
- Val’s Boyfriend (Season 3, Episode 17) – You gotta love Fran’s friend Val who really is not all there. Both Val and Fran face the same issues, with being over thirty and looking for a man. Very 90’s for women to feel that 30 was the end all be all. (I had my own bout with that but I am reenergized… especially after staying home for a year.) In the way that I am sure has happened to most of us before… our friend gets a significant other and we are still single. So that takes a bit of getting used to. Val gets a new boyfriend and Fran goes through an unusual situation: her best friend has a date and she doesn’t! She tries to find a way to spend her time… and ends up spending it with C.C. C.C. is also at a low point herself because she asked Maxwell for an equal partnership, and after he denies it, she quits. When Val’s boyfriend makes a move on Fran, Val’s just chalks her claims up to being jealous. The memorable scene comes when C.C. takes Fran out for sushi for her first time and Fran mistakes a glob of wasabi for mustard. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YLkLOYrswU) C.C begs Fran to help reunite her with Mr. Sheffield. Fran does so by getting her old music teacher–who happens to look exactly like Marvin Hamlisch (and is played by him)–to pretend to be Hamlisch and convince Maxwell to take C.C. back. In the end, Val’s boyfriend goes too far and reveals himself as the dog he is and gets the boot. And C.C is back with Maxwell.
- A Fine Friendship (Season 2, Episode 19)– Grace has a friend over and Fran meets his nanny. More like Hot Manny. Kurt Jacobs is a very attractive man, who Fran treats as one of her girlfriends because she thinks he’s gay. Stereotypes… doing what they do best. Being harmful. When he makes a move on her she freaks out (after all, this is a guy who’s seen her without makeup on). They still go out on a few dates, but it doesn’t work out. And I wasted time hoping that she would get a meaningful relationship… but hell what do I know. Meanwhile, Gracie thinks she’s pregnant after being late to watch The Lion King and overhearing Fran say women who are late are pregnant. Nothing like kids misconstruing something. Fun times. Poor friend of Gracie’s not really understanding how he got her pregnant. HAHAHAHA. Have the talk with your children people.
- Fransom (Season 5, Episode 4) – Only Fran Fine would get herself mixed up in a kidnapping plot. Oddly enough, it didn’t dawn on me where this episode was going. Needing extra money for Yetta’s bridal shower, Fran is hired by to be Chester’s dog walker by C.C Babcock. C.C. and Chester were featured on the cover of a magazine so it draws the attention of dognappers. As Fran and Gracie are strolling in Central Park, a man distracts them and steals Chester. He asks for $20,000 for Chester to be returned safe, which C.C. balks at having no emotional connection to the dog. (She even forgets his dog breed.) Fran and Val decide, for that much money, they decide to take over the investigation and rescue Chester themselves. Fran has tracked the dognapper to Greenwich Village. But of course they also end up being kidnapped. Now the kidnapping couple is asking for $40,000 to return the ladies and the dog. Mr. Sheffield goes out for the rescue, but Fran gets rid of the kidnappers with some laxative chocolate Yetta gave her. A rule to live by… be careful of the chocolate given to you by old people.
- The Two Mrs. Sheffield’s (Season 3, Episode 9) – Only Fran would run into Maxwell’s mother before she is set to arrive at the house. Fran scuffles with a woman while purchasing flowers to welcome Maxwell’s mother who is visiting. The woman later arrives at the Sheffield house where Fran learns she is Mrs. Elizabeth Sheffield! Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, C.C. is the only one that seems to get along with her. Mrs. Sheffield annoys everyone in the house. Mrs. Sheffield tells her son to fire the nanny as she assumes they are in a relationship and doesn’t want history repeating itself like his father (addressed in season 4’s “Me and Mrs. Joan”), but Maxwell proposes to Fran instead just to provoke his mother. (Total jerk move. But Fran fixes him.) When Fran realizes the proposal isn’t real, she decides to toy with Mr. Sheffield and make him feel guilty for the insincere proposal.
- Kissing Cousins (Season 4, Episode 13) – Enter Jon Stewart. I love John. Fran meets an incredible man at a singles bar. He’s Jewish, a doctor, rich, and everything Fran ever dreamed of in a man. He looks great on paper. And even Sylvia wouldn’t have anything to complain about. But as we know all that glitters ain’t gold. Fran is stoked about having a date to her cousins wedding. However, they meet up at the wedding only to discover that they are cousins. Seeing Fran devastated, Mr. Sheffield decides to send her to a therapist, Dr. Miller (Spaulding Gray), who says Fran is obsessed with marriage. Fran decides to stop chasing men, just to make Mr. Sheffield guilty.
- Stock Tips (Season 2, Episode 9)– Fran meets a man, Glen, at the supermarket and he tells her that he works on Wall Street. Fran introduces him to Maxwell. Glen convinces Maxwell to investing 100,000 dollars in stocks. At this point, I wouldn’t trust anyone that Fran knows… PERIOD. Fran later finds out that Glen is not a stock broker, but a hot dog vendor who literally works on Wall Street. Fran then needs to keep Maxwell from being scammed by infiltrating an exclusive gentleman’s club, prompting her to disguise herself as a man to get inside. Is it even a sitcom if no one is dressing up? Fran pulls it off.
Honorable Mention goes to Niles doing the Tom Cruise Risky Business Dance. Check it out. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNXcS9JlJA8)
This was a fun show to watch. Aside from the whole have to find a man craziness that woman are still judged on… The show remains hilarious. No one handled the kids better. And the casting was great too. I am not sure anyone other could have played Fran’s mother. I lived for Niles’ zings. Niles and C.C going at it was hilarious for me. Love it.
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