Nanny 911, the McCray Family: Arrested Development.
Hey gang, put in your earplugs and join me in the old Get Smart show’s Cone of Silence. Were you wondering what happened to old tv show sets and props? Well, just like that Seinfeld episode when Kramer reconstructed the Merv Griffin Show set in his apartment, one little trip on E-Bay, baby and I’ve got the Cone of Silence in my living room. It’s a life saver when you’re going to view Nanny 911, the show with more screams per minute than the super twister roller coaster at Five Flags over You’re Crappy Parents Who Don’t Set Any Limits.
For some unknown reason, Fox decided to pull The Johnstons’ episode featuring a family with 7 daughters, and served up instead The McCray Family and their 5 sons. We will have to wait a little longer to meet Nanny Yvonne (the hot young nanny), as Nanny Stella will be helping the McCrays. *click, click, click* there went our entire male viewing audience. Damn you, Fox.
Those of you who are still with me, hey, look this way. I know, it’s impossible to hear anything with all of that yelling and screaming. Seriously, duck under the Cone of Silence with me. Yeah, decades later and they still haven’t perfected the acoustics instead the Cone yet. That echo is horrible.
Critics haven’t been too fond of this show, and viewers aren’t flocking to it either. Yet somehow, the use of closed captioning skyrockets every time this program airs. I wonder what it would look like with my Spanish Captioning on:
Ayudame, Nanny Nuevecientos y Once!
You get the picture. Let’s meet the family.
NYPD Black and Blue
Craig McCray is a New York City Police Officer. He’s a big, strong guy who works long hours and just wants to sleep late and relax on his days off. That doesn’t happen. Neither does eating a dinner at the table with his family. Oh, and he thinks its funny to give his boys coffee (as if they weren’t hyped up enough already) and then tell them not to tell Mommy or Daddy will get in trouble. Officer, police thyself. What are you thinking? Granted, it’s got to be hard to think anything with all that noise. Craig is convinced that his boys are destined to be unruly and thinks that Nanny Stella can’t possibly help them. He’s willing to bet his police officer’s pension on it. Stella sees this as a challenge. And a huge potential pay raise, as the NYPD pension fund is much better paying than the Nanny Pension Fund. I can tell you one thing we know about Craig, and that is this cop ain’t shooting blanks. All of those boys look just like him, with three of them under the age of 4. I’d make some comment about safety bullets, you know, the rubber variety, ah never mind. . .
Tracey McCray is a stay at home mom who is truly, utterly exhausted. She’s given up on keeping the peace and just tries to minimize the daily injuries from fighting to things that an ice pack and band-aid will fix. In their videotape to the Nannies, one of the boys bites another kid, leaving an enormous red mark on his shoulder. Mom yells and nothing happens. If McGruff decides to retire anytime soon, Dad should audition this kid to do the ads for NYPD about “taking a bite out of crime” as this was a pretty sizable chomp. This “band-aid” approach isn’t the most pro-active. Tracey’s mom stops by during the episode, but remarks that she very seldom comes over because she can’t stand the chaos (or is it KAOS, my fellow Get Smart fans). Grandma hasn’t babysat for her grandsons since the third boy was born because they are so out of control that Grandma is afraid she can’t keep them safe. Good idea for the McCrays to have a couple more then. Tracey is so exhausted that she is mentally checked out and doesn’t even try to implement Nanny Stella’s advice, as she already decided that her boys are going to be horrible no matter what. That is until the little creeps start writing on her new leather sofa with a magic marker . . .
CJ is age 8 and is “The Ringleader” because he gets all the other boys whipped up into a frenzy and then sits back and laughs while they destroy the house, fight with each other, and pretty much make the family miserable to be around. We see CJ encouraging his younger brothers to hit each other, and he’s never heard of a “time-out.” As an 8 year old, CJ is probably in school and knows that this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in a classroom, yet he loves to revel in the chaos of the house. Wonder if he’d love to own a toy that wouldn’t get destroyed within seconds of entering the household? Who needs toys when you’ve got real life people to play around with.
Second son Michael, age 6, is “The Competitor” who excels in sports and wants to win every competition. Mikey is the least red-headed of the kids, but otherwise they all start to blur together. Mikey’s competitive streak works to the McCray’s advantage in the end as he realizes he can get lots of attention from his parents by actually helping with the dishes after dinner. See, I was the first to get up and clear my plate, mom. Notice me! Don’t call me “Number 2” because that means poo, Mom. I’m reminded of Austin Powers’ sidekick, Number 2, and his battle in the bathroom. Mikey seems to be the first son to “get it” that Mom and Dad might actually reward one of their kids for behaving like a human being. Positive attention for appropriate behavior – what a concept.
Middle son Joseph is 3 years old and for some reason (despite the fact that he has two younger brothers) Joey is “Mom’s Baby.” Joseph is the premier temper tantrum tosser and he spends more time kicking and flailing on the ground than he does sitting in a chair. Probably just as well, as one of his brothers would probably view sitting in a chair as a sign of weakness and try to topple it over just for kicks.
The Twin Terrors, Francis and Jack, are 2 ½ years old and pretty much run around like wild animals, peeing on the floor after telling Mom that they need to go potty, and jumping all over the furniture. I’ve had a toddler. Granted, not three at one time, but peeing on the carpet – oh that doesn’t need to happen. The kids are in pull-ups. He intentionally pulled it down just to whiz on the rug. This kid is lucky it wasn’t an electric fence. Yet Mom does nothing but yell. No time-outs. No consequences. Just got a rise out of Mom, which was exactly the reaction the brats were hoping for. Ok, I’m going to admit, I had no way of distinguishing between these twin red-heads, and I’m not entirely certain that it wasn’t Joey who was causing some of the havoc I’ve attributed to them. It’s all a blur. I’m having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing this episode and everything is foggy and my head hurts. I should have sprung for the extra-insulation on my Cone of Silence.
Status Quo = Kids Rule and There Isn’t Anything We Can Do.
Nanny Stella enters the household and observes for one day. She’s a new Nanny, but from what I can tell, the only real difference between Stella and Deb is blonde hair. Head Nanny Lillian informs us that Stella’s strengths are “tough love and a great sense of humor” or rather “sense of humour” as they’re British Nannies. I jolly well wish Fox would edit this show so that we’d actually get to see Stella’s sense of humor. Instead we are treated to repeated airings of the worst behavior known to mankind this side of Cops. Stella’s snap analysis: The parents are acting as zookeepers rather than parents, and will probably resist her ideas. Stella’s got her work cut out for her.
Stella lays down some “House Rules” and a new Schedule for the family:
1. Treat others like you’d like to be treated. Oh yes, the Golden Rule. No, not the one that goes “He who has the gold rules!”
2. Hands are for praying, not hitting. Perhaps she should add, hands are for washing, teeth are for eating, not biting your brothers.
3. Use good manners, say “please” and “thank-you.” Given that these boys have never all sat down for dinner together, I’d say that is more of a “long range goal” than a “rule” at this point, but Stella is thinking positively. And the McCrays are positive that she’s insane and won’t be of any help. Great attitude, people.
Stella starts to announce the daily schedule and Dad interrupts with some crack about how that will never work because there is a “woman involved” which could only mean Tracey. They argue about whose fault it is that their lives are complete and utter chaos, to which Stella says “just try this. It will make your lives far better.” Oh Stella, it is a far, far better thing than anything I’ve done before just to restrain myself from smacking both these parents upside the head for their “nothing can help, we’ve tried everything” attitude.
Stella announces her “battle plan” and it involves taking out the General, which is oldest son CJ. Good idea, divide and conquer. During one of the days many, many moments of conflict and strife, Nanny Stella gives CJ a choice: come help clean the table or have a time-out. CJ thinks they are kidding and wanders off. Nanny Stella gets the kitchen timer and sets it for 8 minutes, one minute for each year of age, and keeps restarting it at eight until he actually sits on the very lovely living room sofa for a full eight minutes.
Just like Fox hit show 24, we get to see all of it in real time. Ok, maybe we don’t, but it feels like it. CJ crawls around under the cushions of the sofa. CJ whines about how it is taking forever, and that sitting on his living room sofa is like “sitting in a dark, scary cage.” OK, while I wouldn’t choose that shade of leather for the sofa, it isn’t cage-like whatsoever, and in fact, I think Mom is rather fond of that sofa. CJ fantasizes about escaping and destroying the kitchen timer. CJ finally makes it through the whole eight minutes and is so relieved when life is finally “back to normal.” Take a look around, CJ, as normal isn’t that fabulous here at your house. Give me a vacation from that reality any time.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride = Buckle Up, Partners
Tracey remarks that they can’t really go anywhere because the kids won’t be good in the car, and we already know that not even Grandma will baby sit for these brats. We now find out why riding in the car anywhere, even to the grocery store, is such a chore. These boys won’t sit in their car seats. They arch their backs so Mom can’t click the seat belt straps. They undo the belts so they are bouncing around loose in the car. Stella is horrified. Dad, a POLICE OFFICER who knows that not only is it illegal for kids to ride unrestrained, that it’s incredibly dangerous for them, says nothing.
The parents have just given up all hope of being able to take a ride in the car with the kids actually sitting in their car seats. They look at Stella like she’s a space alien when she suggests bringing the car seats into the house so that the boys will get used to sitting in them. Craig hauls three car seats into the house while Tracey scoffs and thinks it is ridiculous. Within minutes, all of the boys are sitting in their car seats, wanting to be strapped it. Tracey continues to spout off about how stupid it would be for her to have to haul around 3 car seats. Right, like it’s smart to let your kids ride around like little projectiles in your moving car.
I’m not sure what happened next as I zoned off with drool running out of the side of my mouth. I need to make sure there is enough airflow into the Cone of Silence next week. Later in the episode we see the whole family going for a ride in the car. All the kids are in their seats, and some are even sleeping. That’s more like it. I’m not sure what exactly happened between point A and point B, but I can only guess that it was something similar to the South Park Underwear Gnome’s formula for great success.
1. Bring Car Seats Into the House
3. Car Ride Bliss (and Big Profits $$$).
All is not magically solved in the McCray Household, however, as we still haven’t won over Tracey to thinking that enforcing rules and requiring good behavior will actually work. Craig is starting to see the light, but Tracey is still in deep denial, but her denial is comfortable as she sinks into her new lovely leather sofa. It’s so nice sitting here, Tracey can almost not even notice the hoard of half-naked barbarian children climbing from the chairs to the entertainment center. Why disrupt this bliss with a dreaded time-out?
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back = Don’t You Little Punks Write On My New Sofa!
Craig is trying to impose a timeout onto CJ for “going spiderman” in the living room and climbing all over the furniture. Last week 4 year old Dylan was running back and forth across the sofa, and I remarked that my daughter has never considered running on furniture. Apparently in Wild, Wild West households, furniture climbing doesn’t decrease with age, but instead just changes its difficulty level. Eight year old CJ sees nothing wrong with jumping from the entertainment center onto the sofa, even when Dad tells him to get down.
Dad mentions a timeout and Tracey enters the room with thoughts that perhaps he hasn’t damaged enough stuff to warrant a time-out when LO AND BEHOLD, we see that one of these little angels has written all over Tracey’s new leather sofa with a magic marker. Jack, one of the fearsome twosome, is caught red-handed (as well as red-haired) with the marker still in his hand. For the first time in her life, Tracey wants to impose some discipline.
Dad switches from cop to defense attorney for a moment as he probes Tracey’s evidence to make sure Jack was indeed the culprit. Young Jack is no match when Craig goes Sipowitz and Jack spills the beans under interrogation. Or rather Jack just answers the question, because he was probably so surprised that he might actually get in trouble for doing something. Then Tracey takes a turn as judge, jury, and time-out watcher as 2 year old Jack gets a two minute timeout. Craig backs up Tracey and tells Jack it is not ok to write on the furniture. Tracey takes to imposing the time-out like a fish to water and then starts discussing one minute for every line on the sofa. Yes, it IS all about the sofa this week. The McCrays don’t have Bo-Bo the dog, so work with me on our sofa-love theme, people. Big steps by the parents; this is real progress. Nanny Stella is very impressed.
You Will Respect My Authoritaaay!
The corner has been turned in the McCray Household. All of a sudden, Tracey and Craig have learned to expect more from their children, and know that they have the ability to require better behavior. We sit down to yet another “Family Circus” dinner, only without Little Billy’s slashed line path through the entire neighborhood. Kids are sitting in their seats, eating Mac and Cheese.
All of a sudden, Mikey is out of his seat, running amok. That begs the question, has anyone ever walked amok. What if some young anarchist was really exhausted from chaos and mayhem and just didn’t have the energy required to “run” yet still wanted to travel amokly?
The parents sit Mikey back down and give him the choice between sitting nicely at his seat at the dinner table or having a time out in the living room. Don’t these kids have bedrooms? This makes me wonder, perhaps Mom was too horrified to allow the kids’ rooms to be aired on network tv. Not sure if primetime is ready to enter that particular ring of Dante’s Inferno just yet. No need for a time-out on the freshly ruined couch, as Mikey sits down and behaves himself. Then after dinner he clears his plate. Mom and Dad are in shock, so much so that Nanny Stella needs to remind them to praise him. And praise him they did, so soon all of the boys were cleaning up after dinner. All we were missing was Snow White’s “Whistle While You Work.” What, it can’t be Mary Poppins every single week. What fun would that be?
Cuff ‘Em and Stuff ‘Em
As the episode ends, we’re treated to a follow-up visit from Nanny Stella. She drops by the world’s smallest family gathering ever, as it appears to just be the McCray family and Tracey’s parents out to eat at a restaurant. At first I think “fake party” but then I remember Craig mentioning that Tracey is an only child. The nerve of her parents, having only one child that they could handle. Which makes it all the more sad that Grandma has been afraid to babysit her only grandkids because they were so out of control.
It looks like things could be changing for the better. Kids are so busy stuffing their faces with food they’ve forgotten to climb on the furniture and make animal noises while swinging from the tablecloth. Mom and Dad are so happy that they are crying. I’m crying too, but only because I’ve heard enough shrieking in the last hour that I think I’ve punctured an eardrum.
Unlike last week, we don’t get to see if the family is awarded a Caribbean Cruise as a prize for being on the show. It probably happened, but we didn’t get to see it as it was edited out to allow for more footage of shrieking kids. Damn you, Fox.
There will be a new family next week. This one has four out of control kids. No clue as to where the Johnstons have gone. Perhaps they’re giving that family enough time to change their names and leave town before airing it.
Haven’t heard enough whining yet? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org m