Steve Urkel and continuity.

I’m going to making some changes to this blog which necessitated holding off publishing for a few days. I intend on the change happening sometime this weekend. Between that and a schedule change at work I should resume posting on a more regular basis. My writing habits haven’t changed so I hope it isn’t too annoying that I had to publish so many posts in one day.

I have a confession to make: I’m a continuity nerd. It’s an interest of mine to try to resolve continuity conflicts in popular fiction. It’s a fun hobby that doesn’t cost anything (other than what I already spent on indulging myself with the fiction in the first place). As such there’s something that’s been bothering me for years now. I’m not saying that it’s something that has been keeping me up nights but I have retained this question for long enough that I’m going to put this out into the open. Maybe somebody can help resolve this issue.

Jaleel White played the popular character Steve Urkel  on the show “Family Matters” back in the nineties. For most of the show’s run it was part of a Friday night family-oriented sitcom line-up called “T.G.I.F.” It might have been a set of crap shows but at that age it was one of the highlights of my week. To an extent I got caught up in the whole Urkel craze. As a result I was delighted (nothing more) when White made a guest appearance on another show on the same network “Full House.” In that episode he acted alongside John Stamos who played Uncle Jesse. Later on White guest-starred as Urkel again on yet another “T.G.I.F.” show, “Step By Step.” Yet after that John Stamos appeared on “Step By Step” as himself. He even said a line that referred to him as being from “Full House.” How did this happen? How were the producers able to bend the reality of the show like that? Who remembers “Step By Step” anyway?

One of the directions that I was going to take this whole continuity nerd thing was setting up a whole website trying to explain these things. I know this has been going on throughout the Internet for years but I get the feeling that it’s only really happened in individual fan communities. So, let me try with the above example. The easy out would be that each show has its own continuity to start with; therefore, the Urkel from “Family Matters” is similar to but not the same as the Urkel that appeared on “Full House.” This still doesn’t explain how both Urkel and John Stamos appeared on “Step by Step” when Stamos mentions “Full House.” It could be that Urkel played himself on “Full House” and for some reason in the “Step by Step” universe that guy is popular enough to get the gig (and crowd cheering). But if that episode of “Full House” exists within the continuity of “Step by Step” then why did he get credited as getting played by Jaleel White on “Full House?” Well, he is a pretty eccentric guy. Maybe it was some kind of in-joke with the producers.

If one takes all of these continuity issues seriously than we are led to believe that almost all of the NBC sitcoms of the late eighties and early nineties took place in some sick boy’s snow globe or something like that (I’ll let you look that one up). I find trying to figure this stuff out fun. There’s a wealth of examples out there. The only one I wouldn’t touch are things like “The Simpsons,” in which continuity is sacrificed for the sake of a joke, and usually willingly so. To try to analyze and explain things like that would be missing the point. It could be a fun game withing friends. Perhaps it could be turned into a sort of drinking game. I think if anybody was to sit around with his or her friends some evening doing this alcohol would definitely have to be involved.

Maybe this has something to do with my not having a girlfriend….


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