Top 10 Fat Albert Episodes I Watched in 2012 | Jim Ousley

best2012 sqSince last year’s Top 10 list comprised video games my son kicked my ass at, I thought I’d focus on my five-year-old and his obsession with Fat Albert.

2012 albert

Since last year’s Top 10 list comprised video games my son kicked my ass at (update: he’s still kicking my ass), I thought I’d focus on my five-year-old and his obsession with Fat Albert. You read that right: Fat Albert.

When I was a kid, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was a Saturday morning staple, right up there with SuperFriends, Shazam!, and the Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour. Early in 2012, I began reminiscing about those pre-Cartoon Network days of yore, and picked up the “Fat Albert Christmas Special,” not knowing I was about to open up a Pandora’s Box of newfound next-generation fandom. So since I have once again been enjoying (immensely, I might add) the adventures of “Fat” Albert Jackson and his pals, I thought I might as well make this subject of my 2012 Top 10. Get on those pajamas, fire up a bowl of Captain Crunch, and let’s get started, what do you say? Hey, hey, hey!

  1. “How the West Was Won”
    There’s a new kid at school, a Native American named Johnny. The gang looks at him from a perspective fueled by what they’ve seen in movies and TV shows and ask him to do tricks like making a “rainstorm.” Thankfully, the Cosby-voiced Mudfoot Brown tells the kids a story that inspires them to get their butts to a library to do a little research. They end up treating Johnny with a lot more respect, which is fine I guess, as we never see Johnny show up at the junkyard ever again. What makes this episode even better is that the actor voicing Johnny sounds like a 10-year-old who just suffered the worst concussion ever.

    What I learned as a kid: Treat others with respect.
    What I thought as an adult: Did mobsters live in Cosbyland and did they bury Johnny in the junkyard?

  2. “Sign Off”
    Some dude named Cool Roy is a troublemaker whose idea of a good time is moving and changing street signs. He is also a graffiti artist, er, vandal. Fat Albert, the moral center of the junkyard gang, tried to show Cool Roy the error of his ways, to no avail. Eventually, Fats saves Pee Wee just in time after learning a building is about to be demolished and Cool Roy removed the signs! Ultimately, the Cool one has to fix the signs and clean the graffiti off the buildings he has messed up.

    What I learned as a kid: I will leave signs alone and will never be a vandal.
    What I thought as an adult: I think I need to watch “Exit Through the Gift Shop” again.

  3. “The Birds, The Bees, and Dumb Donald”
    In this episode, Dumb Donald falls in love with Elaine, a cheerleader at school. She has a boyfriend, a high school football star named Hammerhead Rex. The thing about Rex, though, is that he’s kind of a jerk. Long story short, Elaine sees him for what he is and leaves him for Donald.

    What I learned as a kid: I will never be a jerk and will do my best to be myself.
    What I thought as an adult: Where was a chick like this when I was in high school?

  4. “BUSTED”
    Outside the junkyard gang, Rudy has the worst friends. His friend, Larry, is in town and wants to have some “fun,” including stealing a car and driving the fellas around. As the title indicates, they are “busted” and the charges are dropped, except for those against Larry. However, the parents of the junkyard gang permit the authorities to take the gang to prison so they can get a close look at what happens when you break the law.

    What I learned as a kid: Though my dad is a cop, I will STILL never break the law.
    What I thought as an adult: How cool would it be to see an episode of Oz featuring the Fat Albert gang?

  5. “Rebob for Bebop”
    This one tackles the generation gap, as the fellas enter a Battle of the Bands competition. Turns out Mudfoot has a buddy named Lester Benson, a jazzer who was famous in the 1950s. One of their competitors, a punk who refers to himself as Buddy “Slash” Warren, insults the old man for his ancient music stylings. It all ends well, with a smashing jam session featuring the junkyard band and Lester bashing out some crazy hybrid jazz and funk.

    What I learned as a kid: How do they build those instruments out of junkyard parts?
    What I thought as an adult: I wish I could build those instruments out of junkyard parts.

  6. “Easy Pickin’s”
    Once again, the gang can’t seem to make new acquaintances who aren’t a trash barrel-full of trouble. A pair of twins, Steve and Claudia, are always flashing their flashy knick knacks and doohickeys, and the boys are pretty impressed—until they find out the twins are shoplifters and those cool bits and bobs don’t even belong to them. Fat Albert, always doing the right thing, notifies the parents who, upon researching the matter, find lots of suspicious acquisitions they don’t remember purchasing for their kids. When a store employee is accused of being the thief, the guilty duo cough up a confession and the record is set straight.

    What I learned as a kid: There is no way I would EVER steal anything!
    What I thought as an adult: Something tells me these twins are now successful executives in Corporate America.

  7. “The Gunslinger”
    We meet another friend of the Fat Albert and the gang named Shawn, who likes to play big-shot and carry his dad’s gun around. Everyone thinks this is pretty cool, except for Fat Albert who eventually goes to Shawn’s parents. It seems harmless at first, as the gun is unloaded. Usually. However, Rudy is checking out the piece and sees there is a bullet in the chamber. The gun backfires, seriously injuring his hand. The NRA intervenes, blames the entertainment industry, and suggests that teachers and armed guards be on hand at all of the gang’s inner-city schools. Just kidding about that last part! It’s the 21st century; that shit would NEVER happen.

    What I learned as a kid: Guns are dangerous!
    What I thought as an adult: Canada, help us.

  8. “The Fat Albert Christmas Special”
    My favorite Christmas special of all time! Mr. Tyrone, a lonely and bitter widower, owns the land on which the gang’s clubhouse sits. A little fella named Marshall enters the clubhouse as the gang is putting together a Christmas pageant and announces that his father’s car broke down. The passenger? His pregnant mother! The thing is, Mr. Tyrone wants to kick the kids out of the clubhouse, but Fat Albert and good ol’ Mudfoot go work and warm up the old man’s heart. After getting no help from hospitals, Marshall’s mom gives birth in the clubhouse, Mr. Tyrone helps dad get a job, and I’ll be tarred and feathered if this isn’t the merriest Christmas I’ve ever been a witness to.

    What I learned as a kid: Always do your best to help those in need.
    What I thought as an adult: The ending brings a tear to my eye every time. Oh, and Marshall’s mom is kind of hot.

  9. “Tomboy”
    Much to the chagrin of the junkyard gang, new-girl-in-town Penny shows herself to be better than the boys at almost every sport. Fat Albert decides to turn the tables by entering and winning a cooking competition at school. Everyone involved learns a few things about gender identities and stereotypes. Oddly, though, Penny is never seen again…

    What I learned as a kid: Girls are as good as boys.
    What I thought as an adult: I cannot get the song “She’s a Tomboy,” sung on this episode, out of my head. Damn you, Junkyard Band!

  10. “The Fat Albert Halloween Special”
    I’m starting to wonder who is enjoying this more—me or the kid? Well, needless to say, this is my favorite Halloween special, although there really aren’t too many of those. So, in this one, Rudy has yet another jackass friend enter the fray, this one named Devray. Devray is in charge of all kinds of tomfoolery: pranking the elderly, causing a ruckus in the local movie theater where the kids are catching a horror flick, etc. One of the elderly folks they target, a little old lady they have grown to fear for no reason other than she looks a little spooky, decides to give the kids a taste of their own witch’s brew.

    What I learned as a kid: Halloween is my favorite holiday.
    What I thought as an adult: I don’t think I’ve grown up, because Halloween is still my favorite holiday.

Happy 2013, Playback readers, and may your days be filled with lessons learned and junkyard jams. | Jim Ousley

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