Whatchyou Talkin’ ‘Bout Jordan?

Star Dates, Episode 6
Featuring: Gary Coleman

Star Dates’ premise is to combine Blind Date, Elimidate, Disgusting Date, and any other dating show you can think of. The twist here is to set up dates between a B list actor and a normal (read: not famous, but probably trying to be) citizen. Jordan Black hosts, and brings a healthy supply of sarcasm to the task.

This is the sixth episode in the series, and I wondered why E! had chosen to hold back on this one for several weeks. Sadly the answer would become all too clear soon enough.

The “Celebrity”

Gary Coleman is quite well known for his portrayal of spunky little Arnold Drummond on the TV sitcom Diff’rent Strokes which ran for eight years beginning in 1978.

Arnold and his brother Willis (played by Todd Bridges) were the children of a long-time housekeeper for the Drummonds. Upon their mother’s death, the Drummond family adopted the two precocious kids, and from there, one of the more popular sitcoms of it’s era began. Further, Diff’rent Strokes is responsible for the spin off show Facts of Life, therefore in theory, we have Gary to blame for bringing us Tootie’s dates last month.

While the show was quite successful, one has to wonder what was going on behind the scenes, as both Dana Plato (who died of a prescription drug overdose in 1999) and Todd Bridges experienced remarkably difficult lives.

Gary worked in several TV movies into the early 80’s, all with a kid theme, The Kid From Left Field, The Kid With a Broken Halo, The Kid with the 200 IQ, and Jimmy the Kid. I think that he could have simply made sequels to The Man Who Always Played the Role of a Kid, but for some odd reason they just kept coming up with new titles.

Gary’s career has not died since the show was cancelled in 1986, but so far he has been unable to recapture the magic.

In 1994 he returned to the big screen in S.F.W., and suffice to say that I can’t explain to you what that stands for without violating the FORT decency rules. It does star a very beautiful Reese Witherspoon though.

More recently he has been active in providing voice over work for several video games and animated specials, including the amusingly titled Night of the Living Doo, which is entirely wasted in my opinion, as this is really a Scooby Doo show. Imagine the fun Brian Heidik from Survivor, or Sarah Kozer from Joe Millionaire could have in a movie using that title…

Now 34, Gary is still 4’8” and yes, he is still a virgin. I wonder what Gary is like on a date, and he has answered this question on the E! Online site, saying: “I do like to joke--sexy humor--joke and make a girl laugh," he said in a 1999 online chat. "Just to see what kind of head a lady has." Hmmm… let’s hope it is a human head Gary.

He is also opposed to marriage, and when asked about this, he was quoted in 1981 as saying, “If Mom wants grandchildren, I'll adopt one, because I'm never getting married . . . I'm not going to step into something I'm going to regret. Women like money. Look at Burt Reynolds. He had four women, and they all left him."

No sex and no marriage… just why would someone date you Gary? Oh, I see it here in your bio, "I'm a huge fan of BattleBots.”

Whom shall he be dating?

The “Normal” Folks

Stephanie Curtis is a 23 year-old make up artist originally from Sweet Home, Oregon, which is just down the road from me. She is 5’ 2”, blonde, and very outgoing. I am certain that she gets carded routinely because she looks to be about 18. In fact, Stephanie looks remarkably like my date to my senior prom… ahh the memories.

Alison (no last name provided) is a recent college graduate who is now a drama teacher for children. Also 23, she is a tall brunette originally from Encino, California. After college, she moved back in with her mother.

Date #1 – Stephanie

Jordan arrives with the white envelope as expected. Stephanie’s roommate is on hand for the unveiling of the secret date. I am even more suspicious of this entire episode now, as they are spending a LOT of time in Steph’s living room for no apparent reason... that can’t bode well for the dates.

Stephanie opens the envelope and finds a vintage head shot of Gary from his Diff’rent Strokes days. The reaction?

Stephanie is smiling as she shows her roommate the photo. The roommate takes it a step further and is laughing out loud.

Stephanie says, “I am excited!” in her most appropriate gosh-there-are-cameras-on-me-and-I-don’t-want-to-seem-like-a-bitch voice.

So now, I am feeling sorry for Gary, and I hope that they will at least give him a chance. As if to let us know that Gary really is a ladies man, despite being a 34 year-old virgin, we cut to a scene of Gary at the hotel pool putting the moves on a couple of sunbathers. I assume the editors cut the scene where the ladies broke out the pepper spray.

Gary, in a confessional, shares that he is sick of 6’ actress wanna-be blondes with DD “boobies” that they recently purchased. Well, I can help you out there Gary, send them to me. I am just a Good Samaritan that way.

Stephanie says that she doesn’t want someone too buff, and would prefer the boyish type. Looks like she will get her wish.

I am rooting for Gary as he pulls up in the Escalade to meet his date. My faith is shattered, as it seems Gary will not be going to the door to get Stephanie. No, instead, Gary will stay in the car and wait for her to come to him… Yes, when you are a big Hollywood star (or a diminutive one for that matter), I guess you don’t have to bother yourself with courtesy.

They greet each other with a hug, and Gary, ever the charmer, says “you look better than your picture did.”

That may well be true, but I think a different choice of words would have helped. Stephanie counters with “you are a lot shorter than your picture.” Checkmate Stephanie… well played.

Back in the Escalade, Gary informs us all that the date will begin at a local model train club, where Gary is a regular.

Whatchyou talkin’ ‘bout Gary?

He tries to get to know Stephanie a little bit, and asks her if she is used to guys who are different than he is. You know, guys who ask her about sex, various positions, etc… Wow, way to get right to the point!

Stephanie laughs at the questions and deflects it back to Gary, asking about his last relationship.

Gary lets us know that he has never had a relationship. Stephanie asks, “Never?” He confirms that he has never been in a relationship with a woman. He further explains that the reason for that is that he was in love with a woman 21 years ago, and it didn’t work out.

21 YEARS AGO? Jeez, I’ve heard of being bitter over a breakup, but 21 years is pretty harsh. Plus, what does that make you Gary? 13 years-old at the time? I don’t think you knew enough about sex to be P-whipped back then, so what happened? She rode your bike without your permission? Took your Atari Space Invaders game? I think it is okay to move on, but it sure must have been something tragic to still affect him to this day. Once again, those feelings of empathy for Gary start to creep in.

They arrive at the train club, and it is a pretty impressive club. I don’t know if I would take a date to a train club, but the folks I know who are into that hobby do an amazing job, and this place is no exception.

Stephanie opens a can of soda, and accidentally spills some on her shirt. Gary rushes over to help, and without asking, leans up with his forearm and begins to wipe the soda. Basically he is feeling her up with his forearm. Stephanie simply stands there smiling her gosh-a-little-man-I-just-met-is-touching-my-chest-in-public-while-cameras-are-rolling smile.

Stephanie is bored by the trains, but to her credit she can see that Gary is in to this hobby, and she is as supportive as she can be. “Honey, you need a step stool” she suggests.

Gary is indeed into the hobby, so into it that he is basically ignoring Stephanie the entire time they are there… well, other than checking to see if any other spills occur.

Stephanie tries to break the ice by asking Gary, “What else do you do?” Gary responds by letting Stephanie know that he does not watch TV, but that he is an avid video game player, and likes chess.

Gary passes on the chance offered to simply take ten seconds and ask that same question of Stephanie.

They leave the train club, heading off for dinner. Jordan comments that Gary needs to change his approach quickly if he hopes to get his “train docked into this station.”

Outside of the restaurant, Stephanie picks up Gary, literally, and carries him in. In defense of Gary, I think that might well be a bit uncomfortable for him, but who knows; maybe it is payback for that soda spill.

Stephanie doesn’t want to order a full size meal, and offers to share something with Gary. He lets us know that he has a ‘thing’ about sharing food. I guess it is a ‘thing’ that prevents him from doing so… I hope that ‘thing’ isn’t some kind of communicable disease ‘thing’.

Stephanie is clearly bewildered by the events of the evening, and this strange man who is simply sitting and sulking most of the time. She blurts out, “I’m weird.”

No Stephanie, don’t make the mistake of blaming yourself for what someone else is doing.

Confessional time. Gary says, “She’s a looker.” He thinks that there is a good chance of a second date. He also says that he wouldn’t kick her out of bed. That is mighty kind of you to say Gary…

For her part, Stephanie is no longer disillusioned. She says that this isn’t a dream date at all, and points out that he has not carried on a conversation with her, let alone asked questions. She ends her thoughts with “Shouldn’t he have grown?”

Back at her apartment, Gary brags to the camera that he needs the crew to leave him alone while he gets her phone number. Meanwhile, we see a shadowy figure running away in the background. Could it be? Yes indeed, Stephanie is not sticking around to say goodbye, she is RUNNING AWAY!

The date ends rather abruptly at that point.

Date#2 – Alison

On the way to Alison’s house, we are introduced again to her and Mom. Alison confesses that she loves working with kids. Jordan has a very knowing smile on his face in response to that remark.

Jordan shows her the pic of Gary, and the reaction is even more pronounced than in Steph’s living room. Alison begins laughing, and she blurts out, “isn’t he the only one still alive?

Meanwhile, Mom has taken things a step further, and is laughing so hard, she falls on the floor. It is literally a rolling on the floor laughing moment. In between chuckles, she says, “Where is the little fellow?” This then launches everyone into another round of laughing. Mom is loving this.

Gary arrives, and they walk out front to meet him. Mom has a camera and wants to get prom photos of Alison and Gary.

Then she councils Gary on taking care of her precious daughter. “Be a gentleman at all times”, she scolds. I am really beginning to like Mom, she is quite a character, and if Alison turns out like her, then she will be quite a catch.

They jump in the Escalade and head out for a go-cart track called SpeedZone.

Gary is reclusive already, perhaps intimidated by Mom, or more likely, this is his personality most all the time.

Alison isn’t shy, and she asks him about Diff’rent Strokes reruns on Nick at Night. Gary responds that he never watches himself on television, and that he wishes the show was not being run anymore, as he feels that is what is keeping him from getting more work in Hollywood.

The always timely bubble message returns and lets us know that Gary has made over $7 Million from the show and it’s syndication run. So, while I sympathize with his plight, I think that $7 Million is quite a bit more than many people will make in their lifetimes, and all he had to do to get it is throw out a corny line a few times a week. I suppose a little perspective might be in order.

Now Gary takes it even further, and says that he wishes the show had never been made.

Then, in a quirky moment, he turns around, stands up in the seat, and leans over into the back of Escalade for some unknown reason. We have a long view of Gary’s ass.

They arrive at SpeedZone, and Gary shows Alison the dragsters they will be riding in. These aren’t your standard Malibu Raceway go carts, these are pretty good size dragsters. Alison says she is worried.

Gary gets in line, and is back to just ignoring Alison. Alison reiterates to him that she is nervous. “Scared #hitless” is her term for it.

Gary stands in line by himself, ignoring Alison.

The cameras cut to a sign that says you have to be a certain height to go on the ride, and Gary is still ignoring Alison.

They get into the racers, and Gary is asking for additional pillows, while ignoring Alison.

Red – Yellow - GO!

There really isn’t a race here, as Alison destroys him. Afterwards, the competitors relate their thoughts. Alison says, “It was fun! I kicked his butt!”

Gary is mad, “SpeedZone let her cheat because she is a looker.” Way to be a good sport there Gary, now get back to ignoring Alison.

Their next activity is miniature golf. Now Gary, I could have helped you out here, big mistake my friend. While I agree that putt-putt is a very romantic date, I have learned that many women don’t see it that way. I still don’t understand why women don’t find the moonlit course, the smell of Astro-turf, and the handing of putters and balls as a good date, but perhaps someday we will unlock the secrets of that mystery.

True to form, Alison immediately makes a hole-in-one, while Gary struggles to make a short putt. He is really in a foul mood now as they head to dinner.

At the snack bar, Alison gets a rather strong and big drink. Meanwhile Gary stays with his Pepsi. Their conversation is forced, and mostly non-existent.

Confessional time. Alison says that Gary has a good heart, but that “he is too uptight.” If he was a dwarf, Alison thinks that he would be Grumpy.

Gary doesn’t have much to say about Alison (still bitter over the race loss Gary?). Instead he takes this opportunity to launch into a lengthy diatribe about wanting to get back on TV in a regular basis. It is, frankly, pathetic.

They head back to the Escalade to go home. Gary lets Alison know that he has a gift for her. It is a toy helicopter. Kind of like the little toys you get in a happy meal. Now we have officially progressed from pathetic to sad.

Jordan sums it up best, “Between her gift and the race track, it is going to be a quiet ride home.”

We don’t even see the end of this date, as the credits roll at this point.

A few final thoughts. It is clear to me why this episode was held back, as it was decidedly below par compared to the other very entertaining Star Dates episodes.

While I am sympathetic to Gary’s life, which is probably difficult due to his height and the fact that he actually had to sue his own parents as a teenager, I cannot find a reason to excuse his attitude. I hope that he will work with someone on that.

Comments are welcome. Email: bill@fansofrealitytv.com