how to watch bad old sitcoms

Noted today’s episode of the MeTV airings of “Diff’rent Strokes”, and the basic evolution of a television sitcom in a prior era.  (To be sure, the sort of meta-study level on which one ought watch  — even somewhere off as background noise — such shows.)

Looking it up on the listing of episodes at wikipedia, we see this synopsis.  Tell me if or if not this is rather ludicrous, and if it’s what the producers had in mind when they developed the show.

Arnold’s toy rocket crash lands at the Russian embassy and nearly causes an international incident.

I don’t know if this fits a bill for a “jump the shark” trope, and at any rate they shot their load with the familiar ratings gnabbing trope — celebrity guest star:  Mr. T… cue Gary Coleman entering with Mr. T afro, laughtrack in hand.  And we’re also in the “Cousin Oliver” stage of the show — this season, with Arnold having to be moved up in age (though, the pronounced shortest kid in whatever class he’s in), they usher in a new kid — who has his own array of childhood issues to be encapsulated in 30 minute episodes.

It is maybe a mistake to detect that with childhood traumas as bed wetting and having to be left benched on a little league team stuck to Sam, this leaves Arnold with a greater number of the more strident message episodes– see the next episode where Gary Coleman faces off against peer pressure and alcohol — but, then again — we are coming off an episode where the Soviet Union mistakes a toy missile as a United States military weapon — and what’s the message imparted in that one.

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