George Lopez (2002 - )
This crossover shocked me. Shocked me!!! Because… I freaking loved it. And I totally didn't expect to. While I think Freddie Prinze Jr. is a charismatic and nice guy, there have been very few Freddie Prinze Jr. projects that I haven't hated. I Know What You Did Last Summer was a decent enough scare. That's about it. So the idea of a Freddie Prinze sitcom alone made me nervous, let alone a sitcom. Turns out, I was way wrong.
The idea of Freddie and George Lopez crossing over actually makes a lot of sense. They are both ABC shows and they both are star vehicles for Latino leads. I could be wrong but I think at the time of air they were the only shows with Latino leads. The problem was how to hook the shows up. George Lopez starred, duh, George Lopez as a working class dad living in L.A. Freddie starred Freddie Prinze Jr. as Freddie, the proprietor of a Chicago restaurant. How would these two meet up?
The answer was pretty interesting. Seems Freddie's niece Zoey was instant messaging George's son Max. they had a little internet romance going on. That's the gimmick they'd hang it all on. The joke at the start of the George Lopez episode was that both Freddie and George assumed their kid was actually online with a sexual predator pretending to be a kid.
Okay, sounds creepy but it's so wrong it was funny. Both Freddie and George at the exact same moment take over the instant messaging, trying to force the "sexual predator" on the other end into revealing themselves. Well, since now it really was two men pretending to be little kids it seemed to each they really were talking to a predator.
On the sly the kids email each other. Freddie will be coming to L.A. so Zoey plans to try and go with him so they can meet. Again, Freddie and George discover the plan and both plan to ambush the predator stalking their kid.
This leads to the only weak point in the episode. They spend a lot of time with the setup and then they want to save the big confrontation for the end. The problem is the setup doesn't take as long as it might seem, leaving a lot of dead time in the middle when you just want them to get to the big moment already. But once the moment comes, it's pretty funny. George sets them up to meet at his goofy friend Ernie's house. George and Ernie lay in wait as Freddie and his goofy friend Chris approach the door. They talk through the door in fake "kid" voices. The fake voices confirm to each that the other is a creepy adult sicko. The door flies open and it's on! Geoge and Freddie wrestle around and call each other sickos. More fun is Chris's fight with Ernie. Ernie is a heavy set Hispanic guy. Chris grabs a bottle of hot sauce and tries to break it on a table to use as a weapon. It doesn't work. He keeps hitting the table as Ernie yells, "Dude! Not the table! That's rent-to-own!" Then Chris threatens to throw hot sauce in his face. Ernie deadpans, "Dude, you picked the wrong guy. I have hot sauce on my face most of the time anyway."
Eventually they figure out that their kids were really were talking to each other and not to a predator. George Lopez ends setting up the Freddie episode to follow: George and Freddie have made plans for the kids to meet. George, Max and Ernie are all going to fly to Chicago!
Now this is another sort of weak point in the story. Why would George go to Chicago with his son and his best friend instead of with his son and his wife??? What's up with that. But we'll give that a pass since for the potential for comedy is much higher with George and Ernie. I mean the whole thing was just an excuse to get the two of them to Chicago. Even the kids' plot really was just an excuse. It goes nowhere. The kids learn start off awkward and then discover they have nothing in common.
The point of the episode is getting Freddie and Chris together with George and Ernie. The fun comes from how much alike the pairs are and how different. Freddie and Chris are rich. George and Ernie aren't. This leads to a pissing contest between Freddie and George over who is more hard, more from the street! Meanwhile they're both really just full of it. But neither will back down on trying to prove how tough they are. This leads them to go to a dangerous bar. Once there, they accidentally start a fight with some real tough guys. Again, they are so out to prove themselves as tough that they don't back down and end up in jail.
Meanwhile, second bananas Chris and Ernie have their own plot going on. They tag along but are less concerned with proving themselves. Chris tries to get Ernie hooked up with a girl. The result is she asks for his address and gets his picture on her cell phone so she can arrange a restraining order. Chris at one point says, "So your trouble with women isn't just that you're fat." Before the bar fight, these two have already bailed out and gone for a massage. Ernie gets in two great lines. First, since Ernie has never had a massage before, Chris offers to let Ernie get a massage from the hot masseuse. Ernie passes and decides to choose "the big girl". "She won't judge me." Then once she You don't need any lotion on me. I'm self-oiling." Icky but so funny. Ernie is just so guileless ya have ta love him.
The thing I like most about this crossover is that it is a solid and real crossover. So often crossovers are just one show shoe-horning in a character from another show for some small cameo or some cynical attempt to do a stunt for ratings. This felt so genuine. Like George and Freddie wanted to do this and really wanted to do it right. No small quick meeting of characters. This was a big elaborate story built to get the characters together and then really have some fun with them. The characters worked really well together. This was a crossover the way you hope and imagine a crossover will go. This one works as well as the classic Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley/Mork and Mindy crossovers from the 70s. Really good and I totally didn't expect it.
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