The 30th Anniversary of the Sitcom Episode that Scared the Sh*t Out of Every 80s Kid

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

No, not that episode of Diff’rent Strokes. Or that one.

October 26 marked the 30th anniversary of “Burn Out”, the fifth episode of season two of Webster. No TV Guide preview could prepare us for the horrors this 1984 episode would contain. If you stumble upon a Webster conversation these days, chances are it’s about this episode. If Webster followed the Friends template of naming shows, this ep would be titled “The One Where Webster Torches All of Ma’am and George’s Shit”.

So what were the long term effects of this episode? I can tell you one thing for sure- there was no way in hell I was ever getting a chemistry set after my parents saw this ep. Come to think of it, was the “chemistry set as a child’s toy” thing going out of style anyway, or did this episode kill that industry entirely? I bet there were a TON of chemistry set lobbyists picketing outside of Paramount when this ep was in production. I’m surprised Big Chemistry didn’t get Webster cancelled after two seasons.

I didn’t necessarily come away from it with a heightened fear of fire, but I did start labeling all of my prized possessions as my “mementos”. I filled one of my dad’s old cigar boxes with my “mementos”, including Bobby ‘The Brain” Heenan’s autograph scribbled on a napkin, some extra special Garbage Pail Kids (see: Hooked Howie, Soured Howard), tiny G.I. Joe accessories I feared losing (Big Boa’s gloves, B.A.T. attachments, etc) and a backstage pass from a Corey Hart concert I didn’t go to.

See, when Webster [SPOILER ALERT] rushed back in to save his mementos from the fire, I vowed to never be in such an undesirable position. I’d keep all of my most important personal effects in one safe place, easy to grab on my way out the door in case of disaster. Like a highly flammable safe deposit box.

If you’d like to re-live the horror, the entire episode is below. Be warned, the video quality is a bit of a dumpster fire (too soon?).

You can buy the episode on Amazon here.

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