Appellate Judge Tom Becker never touched Scott Baio.
"My name is Scott Baio. Last season, I decided to make some changes in my life. I announced I was ready to get married, and two seconds later, life decided to make some changes on me."
It seems like only yesterday that we could wake up, greet the day, and declare, Scott Baio Is 45…and Single! Ah, but time waits for no man, even the seemingly ageless star of Skatetown, U.S.A.. Turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four, turn around and Scott Baio Is 46…and Pregnant.
When last we saw the one-time Tiger Beat cover boy, he'd decided to embrace encroaching middle age and pledge himself to his long-time love, Renee. In the closing moments of Scott Baio Is 45…and Single, Renee seductively muttered in Mr. Baio's ear, "I'm having a baby," setting the stage for a second season of testosterone-leaking posturing and philosophizing from the guy who top-lined Bob Clark's final project, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2. Hey, it's a paycheck, and evidently a good one, since much of this season focuses on Scott and his blossoming bride purchasing, furnishing, and renovating a swanky new home.
In the first season, Renee was barely seen, as Baio did the "What's it all about?" thing while hanging with his paunchy, graying entourage and suffering humiliation at the hands of paramours past. Intimacy issues resolved (in that reality-TV way), Season 2 gives us a more domesticated Scott. The episodes are easy-going half hours (actually, around 20 minutes now that the commercials are gone), not horrible by any stretch, but not all that compelling. Over the course of the season, Baio's daughter is born, he and Renee get married, and there's a final-curtain surprise that's not nearly as intriguing as the first season's.
What's more interesting is what went on when the cameras were off. The day after daughter Bailey was born, Scott and Renee were informed that their child had tested positive for GA-1, a metabolic disorder. Even if caught early and treated, GA-1 can lead to brain damage or death.
In a remarkable show of restraint, Baio and Renee sidestepped this very real drama and continued to "play cute" for the cameras. They did not discuss their child's health at all and kept on their game face while awaiting the results of further testing. As it happens, the original test had produced a false positive, so their daughter is healthy, but the re-testing took 10 weeks and wasn't completed until filming was finished.
Had they gone public with their concerns about their child's health, Scott Baio Is 46…and Pregnant would have been a stronger show. It also would have been a very different show, far more serious than the breezy reality-com on display here. It would likely have been hailed as groundbreaking and would have brought Baio a whole new wave of fame as the heroic face of a devastating ailment.
But Baio and Renee chose not to go that route, and who can blame them? It would have meant turning this profoundly personal tragedy into a spectacle and turning their child's health issues into a series of weekly cliffhangers. It also would have made Scott Baio Is 46…and Pregnant the rightful heir to the original TV-reality series, An American Family, in which a mundane look at the mundane Loud family was jolted by unexpected crises, including divorce and a child's coming out as gay to his parents. Thirty-five years later, the canned histrionics and calculated revelations of current reality shows, celeb and otherwise, can't hold a candle.
Baio might have outdone the Louds, but the actor, whose exploits with women might have once been labeled "shameless," showed admirable restraint and didn't play up a crisis for ratings gain. At a time when video confessionals are becoming more commonplace and the most intimate and painful details of one's life are mere fodder for viewership and spin-offs, Scott Baio Is 46…and Pregnant gets points for keeping a shred of dignity.
Not that there was anything dignified about the rest of the series, but at least they didn't go "there."
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