Quarantine Post #75: Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

Nothing better than getting an old-school show back on a streaming service. HBOmax has come through for all the vibes. HBO is really making a case to stay around when I downsize on my apps. Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper is a sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 1992, to August 30, 1997, starring Mark Curry and Holly Robinson. The show took place in Curry’s hometown of Oakland, California. The series chronicles Mark Cooper (Curry), an NBA player-turned-substitute teacher/gym coach (and later basketball coach), and his roommates, Vanessa, and his cousins, Geneva and Nicole. Younger me missed that Mark Curry was a comedian. But I loved him in the show. So as far as rewatches go… I knew that was where I was going to start. OAN: I also didn’t realize that Mark Curry is so tall. I kept watching episodes and thinking to myself… “His arms seem really long.” Well, that would be because he is 6′ 6″.

For some reason though, there was a lot I did not know about the show. The first season seems a lot like Three’s Company. I remember it being a part of TGIF… but the first season wasn’t all that kid-friendly. Now when I say that, I don’t mean it was raunchy or inappropriate. In the first season, Mark Cooper, Vanessa Russell, and Robin Dumars live as roommates in a house that they rent together. I don’t know that I would live with a male friend mostly because who wants to constantly talk about putting the seat down? Mark, whose room is in the den, had initially moved in with Robin and Vanessa to help them with their rent. Gotta love the arguments that ensue over who spends too much time in the bathroom and Mark eating all the groceries. Robin is Mark’s childhood friend and Vanessa is Robin’s best friend (and sorority sister) from college. Robin is played by Dawnn Lewis. And if you read my post about A Different World, you would know how much I love her. Not sure why she had to leave. The first season worked just fine with her. She even did the theme song. It was my favorite. I didn’t get why she didn’t stay past season 1. When Raven and her mother take over in the house… It was one of the more seamless transitions that I have seen on television. (Still miss Dawnn though.)

The second season intro isn’t so bad either. I forget that the ’90s was about bright colors. Check out the intro here.

So like I usually do in these instances, I have a list of episodes that I think are pretty great. I will say… I have enjoyed this show more than I thought I would. And more than I remember doing so in the past. So let’s jump into some of my favorite episodes from the show.

  • Hangin with Michelle (Season 1, Episode 2) – You guys know Michelle Tanner right? LOL. So this was not an episode that I remember seeing but again it makes perfect sense given that the shot has a spot on TGIF. Since Mark is a substitute teacher, he subs for Michelle’s class. I was hoping to see Tahj as Teddy. He’s not there but I do get to see Jurnee Smollett. Young me screamed out. Poor Mark is out of his league with the first graders. He ends up hurting his back and needing to be wheeled out of the classroom on a stretcher. Michelle comes to visit (being dropped off by Uncle Jesse.) but she ends up causes Mark more pain. Not purposefully but Mark is pretty good with kids. It is no wonder he is a teacher. Check out some of the scenes here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVi17LJOx3s)

  • Cheers (Season 1, Episode 5) – Did Mark irritate people in a past life? Because he can’t seem to make into the PE department. The Principal wants Mark to help the Cheerleading team win the cheer competition. Seems like he is setting the team at a disadvantage. What does Mark know about Cheerleading? Nothing. I see Countess Vaughan here as one of the cheerleaders though. Mark may be about jokes but he does come through when students are involved. When Vanessa shows that she knows about cheerleading… Mark enlists her help to help him train the girls. He gets the girls pumped for their competition even though they come in second place. But the girls want him to remain their coach for the season.

  • My Dinner Date with Mark (Season 1, Episode 9) – Vanessa can be a bit sheltered and uppity… But she is good people. Reminds me of Whitley.. except less rude. Vanessa is given the opportunity to pitch her new idea to bring in a new client. She corners the client (Mrs. Walker) in the elevator and actually secures the meeting. The thing that annoyed me…. and this has to be because the show aired in the early 90’s was the fact that Mrs. Walker kept calling Vanessa a secretary as if there was something wrong with that or somehow beneath her. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone who is not an executive. Weird since the idea for how to invest her money came from Vanessa. When Vanessa figures out that her boss is stuck at the airport and wants her to reschedule… there is a dilemma. Vanessa tells Robin, there is no way she can reschedule since Mrs. Walker didn’t want to deal with her in the first place. It is Robin who suggests that she get someone to pretend to be an executive… because nothing can go wrong there. Who else could it be but Mark? Mark can be troublesome but he comes through in the clutch to seal the deal. But it is all ruined in the end. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAeZHFdpnTg)

  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Season 1, Episode 14) – When teachers go on strike, Mark is left to try and find another job. He manages to secure a position in the mailroom of Vanessa’s company. Vanessa starts out thinking that she can order Mark around. However, Mark is never one to be told what to do. He manages to land a higher position which means that he is Vanessa’s boss. She can’t handle that. Mark dazzles accidentally on his short lived fame of playing with the Warriors. He is bringing clients without really trying. Mark has a natural ability which is driving Vanessa crazy. She tries to kill him but decides to quit first. Before she can do so, Mark is replaced with another celebrity and sent back to his teaching job. Poor Mark.

  • Piano Lesson (Season 1, Episode 19) – Robin’s boyfriend, Jason, gives Robin a necklace. Robin assumes that she will go to Hawaii that weekend. She cuts out on her hang day with Mark at the pool hall. She pushes Vanessa to go with him instead. (Recipe for disaster? Sure.) Vanessa does not fit in with the crowd even though she claims to know how to play pool. She gets Mark into a fight. SMH. When they get back home, they tell Robin they had a great time at the pool house and that they won the game. This leads Mark and Vanessa to go to a Jazz Concert. Meanwhile, Robin’s boyfriend tells Robin that he has to go to Hawaii for meetings and can not bring her along. She starts feeling like a third wheel to Vanessa and Mark. There is a great scene where they try to explain to Mark why Robin is upset, even though Robin never expressly said why. Mark even asks her why she didn’t just say she was mad and why? Poor Mark didn’t get it. LOL.
  • Free at Last (Season 2, Episode 5) – Vanessa has an idea that she is going to be promoted at her job… Toplin and Toplin (Is this a father and son? Are they brothers? I mean it is not essential to the story but I would like to know.) Things don’t go as planned when she attempts to move into the office with the help of Mark and they both meet the new guy… She is asked to train the new man that is going to be her boss. Needless to say, she makes far less than he does and is still expected to get him up to speed. (We have all been there right?) Mark later points out that her bosses would not have asked that of a man. (He’s not wrong.) He tells her to demand her promotion. So she does just that… But she ends up fired. She decides to pick up another job at a Japanese Restaurant. SMH. What would make her think she would want to work at a restaurant of any kind? She invites Geneva, Mark and Nicole to dinner. (Another thing I wondered… why did they keep making this man sit on the floor? It seemed like a lot for him to get down on the floor. Mark Curry is all limbs people.) He tries to save the day with the man on the hibachi up and quits. (Not his fault… Because Vanessa is notoriously bad at her job.) It is the disaster you are picturing in your minds. Pretty Funny though.
  • Air Cooper (Season 2, Episode 10) – They wore out the “Mark played for the Warriors thing.” More like he did. But I mean… At this point, it had already gotten him a job with Vanessa. So when he was offered a commercial by Vanessa’s boyfriend. I didn’t bat an eye. He thinks that he is going to be the star of the commercial. He tells everyone and of course they want to put in a request for new sneakers. And who wouldn’t. He cons his boss into renting out the gym so that it can be filmed. And he looks good with the ball in hands. But because he is actually talented that have to talk him into missing baskets. He doesn’t seem to get that the director wants to paint him in worst light possible. He catches on and decides to continue doing the commercial for the money. But P. J and the team back him up. There is a point where he walks over to the a sign hanging up on the gym wall behind him and pulling it down. It is times like that where I remember how tall he is. The great thing is at the end.. the commercial is made and the idea around it was revamped with Mark in a much better light.
  • Private School (Season 2, Episode 12) – Mark gets pimped out for Black History Month. (I won’t go into detail about how that is a trend for February…) P.J. assigns Mark to teach Black history at an expensive private school for one week. Seeing that the class is all-white, he decides to teach them “from slavery to Soul Train.” It doesn’t help that the school has much more amenities for teachers not to mention better pay. When the principal offers him a job at a much higher salary, Mark has a big decision to make. He takes his job as a teacher and coach seriously. And he wants to see all of his students succeed. But we all know how well public schools are funded, how well teachers are paid and how much worse it is when we are talking about intercity public schools. Mark manages to look past the money and stay with Oakbridge High.

  • It’s My Party and I’ll Die if I Want To (Season 2, Episode 14) – Is there nothing more 90’s than an episode where someone thinks they are dying? It is almost Mark’s 30th birthday and there is not a better present than Tyler finding a weird growth on his arm. Tyler is one busybody neighbor whose parents seem just find with sending him to disturb mostly Mark. (How come people do not lock their door?) Tyler tells Mark about a relative that had a weird growth and died. (There is no real explanation. Those two things may not even be connected but no matter.) Mark gets it removed at a doctor’s office where she tells him that she will call him with the results. (That big baby was scared of a needle.) So what ensues a series of miscommunications. Mark uses a baby monitor to listen in to Geneva and Vanessa to find out what he is getting for his birthday… (He doesn’t know that they know he is listening…) However, they sound like he’s not going to live long. He takes it to mean that the doctor called and that he is dying. He spends the rest of the episode crossing things off his bucket list and giving away his belongings. Bungee Jumping. It is at his party where it is revealed that he is fine. SMH. It is still pretty funny.
  • My Achy Breaky Back (Season 3, Episode 9) – This is by far my favorite episode of the series. No lie. I was watching an interview with Mark Curry where he talks about having to be physical to get the show. No where is it more apparent than this episode. So it starts off with an injury to Mark’s back trying to get groceries out of the car. Just before the injury he talks about getting an interview with a college basketball club. Is the back injury going to keep him from the interview? Absolutely not which may not be the best idea. He hobbles into school and refuses help until he is almost in tears. Ervin thinks he is helping but he just makes things worse. Vanessa talks him into coming to her doctor’s office for treatment. (Why in the world would he trust her at all is beyond me?) He ends up strapped to this table, getting electroshocks. When Vanessa leaves the room, he ends up spinning around uncontrollably. When Vanessa finally pulls him off the table… He can at least stand on his own accord with no pain. All seems to be well… until the next day when Marks starts having uncontrollable muscle spasms…. (He flings his cereal on Geneva. I had tears in my eyes. I could not have been counted on to film this scene with them.) Vanessa reveals that 2 out of 3 patients have the same issues. I would think that is something you would tell someone before you do a procedure on them. But hey. They try to get Mark to reschedule his interview but he can’t. He is like a walking tornado in that man’s office. It is some of the best physical comedy that I have seen in a while. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J1p8gCkMgc&t=845s)

  • The Matchmaker (Season 3, Episode 20) – There is nothing like a family member (or anyone ) that shows up unannounced. In this case, we have Aunt Eunetta who takes 6 days to drive from Georgia to Oakland and parks her RV in their driveway. She spends her week harassing the trio by claiming she can match these single people up by reading their heads. Poor single people can’t ever get things done in their lives without an older person wanting to set them up. SMH. Like she actually strong armed Vanessa on the couch. Aunt Eunetta decides that Vanessa is the best person for Mark. The funny part would be dream sequences both Mark and Vanessa have about what their relationships would be like if they do get together. Mark and Vanessa decide to head out to the Anita Baker concert since she purchased the tickets for it prior to her and her boyfriend breaking up. Mark and Vanessa, get stuck in an elevator and share a kiss to dispel her prediction and discover that they enjoy kissing each other. (It is Vanessa’s idea… Mark never seems put off by it.) Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8ok8Ka23U0)

  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T (Season 4, Episode 9) – Geneva is fed up with doing everything for everyone and having to work. (The working family woman’s plight.) Except in Geneva’s case… Mark and Vanessa are not kids. They should be doing their own laundry as well as cooking their own food. Mark is fed up with Geneva’s rules and opens his big mouth to say so. (Mark is usually not so pigheaded so this was disappointing but he gets it in the end.) Geneva decides to move out with Nicole since she is not getting any respect. Mark invites his inconsiderate friends Steve and Lydell to move in, causing Vanessa to move out. Very quickly we realize that the shoe is on the other foot. They don’t clean or pay for anything. Mark is the new Geneva which makes it easier for him to understand her plight. (Tyler is the one who points out that his complaints mirror Geneva’s and why she had so many rules.) Nicole and Tyler set Geneva and Mark up so that they can talk to each other and Mark can apologize… Eventually things get back to normal. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR-WyuSDe_c)
  • Rivals (Season 4, Episode 17) – Jamie Foxx guest stars…. After their teams trade pranks against each other’s mascot, Mark’s rival coach fakes a heart attack.  Later, Mark is banned from their game. Mark tries to get people to believe that Jamie is faking but no one is on his side. Geneva is stuck between a rock and a hard place because she has to eject Mark from the game. Mark decides to dress up like the opposing teams mascot to gain entry to the gym and coach his team incognito. He gets them both thrown out of the game. They can’t even watch the game. They patch things up in the locker room because there is really nothing else to do. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LDjii3uY0w)

  • True Confessions (Season 4, Episode 20) – This episode made me want to kick Mark in the shins. But do people use words anymore? Do they talk about how they feel? Did they ever? Anyway, after Geneva introduces Vanessa to a successful, handsome man, Mark does everything he can to sabotage the developing relationship. He interrupts their date by sitting in between them and talking about the history of basketball. (Like from its inception to the present.) Vanessa can’t get him to go away no matter how angry she is. Then he decides to make it up to her and her date by buying 4 tickets to a Whitney Houston Concert. He gets Vanessa to agree to double date with him and another woman. (Why she agreed is beyond me… It has to do with Whitney I bet.) What we find out later is that Mark’s date is the ex fiance of Mark’s date. (He had to know that to begin with.) Needless to say, the ex couple rekindles their relationship leaving Vanessa out to dry. Vanessa exacts on Mark by taking a crowbar to his car. She forces him to admit that he was jealous because he wants to be with her. (It goes back to the first episodes when Robin points out that Mark is attracted to Vanessa… and to the Matchmaker episode.) Vanessa is the one who suggests they share a kiss to make sure they have chemistry. It is Mark who suggests that they do it again. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl0iHzgf12M)

  • Breaking Up is Hard to Do (Season 4, Episode 21) – At breakfast, Mark and Vanessa announce that they are dating. Things start out fine until they have dinner with Vanessa’s stale friends. Mark starts off tell her he does not want to hang out with Ben and Barb…. They listen to AM radio… I mean that is reason enough. (I ask again why they keep making this sit on the floor. He looks so awkward getting up and down. SOMEONE GET THIS MAN A CHAIR.) During the date, he complains that he is bored to tears…. I mean the man is talking to him about rice. (The fact that I found interesting though is when describes his preferred night… even though he mentions basketball… he says he wants to watch a game at home with her… And then the twins show up that know Mark and things progessively get worse… After their first fight, they decide that it would be better if they were just friends. It is a bit extreme I know. (I used to think my guy had to double date with me all the time.) Both Mark and Vanessa go on dates with other people (more to make the other person jealous than because they actually like the people they are dating. Mark actually dates the twins at the same time.) Eventually, since both Mark and Vanessa are stubborn, Geneva has to forced them back together in a ball pit… and yes that is as whacky as it sounds. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWLfM8xserg)
  • Will She or Won’t She? (Season 4, Epsiode 22) – Lydell comes over to let everyone know that he and his girlfriend, Florence have decided to get married. While both Geneva and Vanessa are ecstatic about it. Mark is not. He likens marriage to prison and wives as wardens. While Vanessa is disappointed to hear this… she isn’t shocked. This wasn’t the last time I heard this attitude towards marriage but why be in a relationship with a person you do not like? Also why not just be happy for your friend? Despite wanting to marry Mark, (because where is this relationship going?) Vanessa innocently has lunch with her former boyfriend. Geneva spills the beans on purpose it seems like because she did very little to keep her mouth shut. When Mark finds out, he frantically proposes marriage to her. SMH… Why would you do this only to keep her away from someone else. I wanted to pluck both of his eyes. LOL. Vanessa rejects him, thinking he only did it out of jealousy and she was not wrong. Since Mark is Lydell’s Best Man, he has the good luck to be the one to keep the man from jumping out of his skin and running away before he leaves the alter. Lydell repeats a lot of what Mark spouted about marriage but Mark assures him he is making the right decision. Mark decides then that the right decision is to seriously propose to Vanessa which he does at a Warriors game. It was cute. Probably better if she actually liked sports. But I will say it did take her by surprise.

  • The Ring (Season 5, Episode 1) – This man proposed with no ring ya’ll. So when they announce their engagement to Geneva, naturally she wants to see the ring. Mark and Vanessa eventually go ring shopping together. But Vanessa has expensive tastes… and Mark, who on a teachers salary, is trying to save money. The cheapest ring that Vanessa was looking at was $14000. Ma’am… what. This episode is over 20 years old but 14k seems like a lot for me. More because I don’t have that to throw around. Mark tries to save money and impress Vanessa by cutting corners and you and I know that never works. He enlists the help of Ervin… I am not sure why he called Ervin. Ervin is never the go to person. They end up at this back alley marketplace trying to buy a ring. The cheapest they found is 5K but Mark only has 2K and tries to work out a deal with the guy. He leaves with the ring but soon finds out that he needs to come up with the other 3K. Instead of taking the ring from Vanessa… although he tries… He ends up giving away his ride to make her happy. But she doesn’t allow that. It was a cute scene where he gives her the ring.
  • The In-Laws (Season 5, Episode 3) – Vanessa is in a tizzy because her parents are in town and want to meet Mark. She fears they won’t like him… She attempts to prep him for a meeting with her dad… and things go horribly awry. With all the preparation, Mark still gets drunk and makes a complete fool of himself. Well more like Vanessa’s father gets him drunk. It is a ploy to try to drive them apart but Vanessa stands her ground in her decision. Evenutally, her mother makes her father apologize and they have proper do over. But drunk Mark is great. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw2DdHN9JXM&t=298s)

In the end, it was a fun rewatch. Mark is pretty funny and great at physical comedy. Watching this show led me to watch a lot of his stand-up. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the characters and the fact that he was a black male teacher. There are still not enough of those 30 years later. It was a bit cheesy but I am always cool with that. Maybe it is me… but I do not think it got enough recognition back in the day. Like people don’t talk about it much. But thank goodness these shows are seeing a resurgence on streaming services. And here’s to hoping we get more shows like it. That is all for now.


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