Comedy Oddities: Baby Talk

Baby Talk was an American sitcom that aired in the early nineties, and loosely based on the then popular Look Who’s Talking movies. I’ve not seen the latter since they came out at the cinema and it’s been proven time and again that my younger self had seriously dodgy taste in films back then, but I’ve a fondness for any sitcom that tries to do something a little different, even if it doesn’t always succeed.

The series has never been released on dvd but I managed to track down one episode via youtube, “Pop Goes The Question” from Season 2 of the show. There’d been some big changes from the first season including the recasting of the main female role, Maggie, with Julia Duffy quitting due to the scathing reviews and being replaced by Mary Page Keller, and some bloke called George Clooney who appeared in a few episodes of the first batch wasn’t asked to return, with rumours suggesting that the producer’s thought he was rubbish and would never become a star. All round horrible person Scott Baio joined the cast however as Maggie’s new boyfriend James, I used to be fond of the man as a kid but since learning about his love for the Republican party, the sexual abuse allegations made by Nicole Eggert and his belief that the Sandy Hook shootings were a hoax, I can’t stand the fucker. Still, I’ve tried to be objective about the show and obviously back then no one knew what an obnoxious turd he is.

Tony Danza provides the voice of the main baby, Mickey, and is (mostly) amusingly inappropriate, and so provides the majority of the laughs. The pre-credits sequence has a gag about a young girl watering a plant and when Mickey queries what she’s doing she explains that she’s helping it grow, so he squirts water over her and when asked why he did such a thing he replies “I happen to like tall women”. So yeah, that’s the level of humour you can expect here, but it’s so silly that I couldn’t help but be fond of it at times. Some of the dullest ever credits then follow, featuring various adults hanging out with the supposedly cute moppet, and before they finish there’s the first ad break. Being from the UK whilst I’m aware of the insanity of the amount of ad breaks American viewers are subjected to this is the first time I’ve ever watched a show with them included and it’s ridiculously annoying, and interrupting the credits with one seems plain crazy to me.

Once we’re back from shitty ads for Taco Bell and Hershey’s Chocolate the episode revolves around Mickey saying his first ever word, Daddy, to Scott Baio, despite the fact that he’s only Maggie’s boyfriend and not partially responsible for unleashing Mickey upon the world. This leads to Maggie considering marrying James, but he also has plans to ask Maggie to become his wife, and complications ensue. Most of the time it’s watchable but not a great deal better than that, but there are some fairly amusing moments in it, like when the kids learn that Big Bird from Sesame Street is a man in a suit one responds “Oh no, first Milli Vanilli, now this” which if you’re old enough to remember who that pop act were will possibly make you smile. There’s also a meta joke with the kid mentioning how “he thinks like Tony Danza”, Maggie’s attempt to get the kid to say “Mommy’s significant other” elicited a quiet chuckle, and the final gag of the episode isn’t a bad one.

This is of course not a good tv show. It’s filled with cliches, the kid is occasionally irritating, it’s worryingly sexist in places (especially when Baio and a friend are discussing his little black book) and this episode doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel test, but at the same time it is occasionally funny, and an interesting relic of what passed for mainstream comedy in the early 90s. I’d never recommend anyone watch more than one episode unless you’re incredibly fond of trashy throwaway comedy, but there are worse ways to spend half an hour, like any episode of Two and a Half Men or one from the final season of How I Met Your Mother.

Alex Finch.

Related Links:
The episode on youtube.
A clip of George Clooney on the show.

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