This'll make you feel old: as of now Free Spirit is 25 years young. Feels like we just discovered it yesterday. On September 22, 1989 its pilot aired and its "season premiere" appeared two days later. Four months after that it aired for the last time, with a bit of stuntcasting and extra promotion as its last chance. It was also moved to 8:30 for that last chance, as America's Funniest Home Videos moved into its old slot for Episode 1 of a seemingly eternal run.

Equally eternal is The Simpsons, which also began its regular run opposite the episode we'll be discussing. There was one more episode left of Free Spirit after this week, but America would never see it. (Rumor has it the episode aired in Canada. We'll find it yet. Keep looking!)

Thomas has now joined a firm and doesn't have to do his lawyering from home. This leaves his office room up for grabs, and the family is all too eager to explore the possibilities -- but Thomas orders everyone not to touch any part of his old office until he's confident he likes the new job.

Before Thomas leaves to scope out the new digs, Winnie gives him the present of a snowglobe. She claims that right before she left her world, her parents gave her that snowglobe as a memento. This cannot really be, because in the pilot, Winnie was clearly brought to Earth abruptly and without warning. She also had no initial plans of staying beyond one day. There are all sorts of weird things you notice about this show once you start studying it, like for example, Robb has no room.

I'm serious; we never see Robb's room, nor does he mention having one. He never says he doesn't have one either, but Gene, Jessie, Thomas and Winnie all have separate rooms upstairs and based on the size of the downstairs, and the exterior shots, there can't be more than four up there.

What follows is the Point of No Return. I liked Winnie plenty enough already from the previous twelve adventures, but this was the scene that tipped those feelings into full-on obsession. The moment I saw this, I was lost. LOOK WHAT SHE DOES.

This is even despite the fact that the scene includes the infamous "WINNIE! THIS IS GREAT!" line. It's not alone either. I don't know what was up with Hannigan when they shot this, because nearly all the other lines she had were delivered in the same overacting manner.

You'll never guess what sounds these machines make. If you guessed "the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man," you win the No-Prize. This was the stock Hollywood sound effect for any video game for a long time. They got around to updating it somewhere in 2008.

I love how putting electrical tape over one letter in a logo effectively dodges copyright. Gene walks over to R-TYPE, in this world known as R-TY, and starts fiddling with the controls while describing a game that doesn't sound like R-TYPE at all, or any game that was out by 1989: "Here comes the dragon! But I've got my LASER SWORD."

Come to think of it, in the entirety of gaming history through the past 25 years, in all that time, in all the thousands of video games released for so many different machines.....I can't think of a single game where you fight a dragon with a laser sword. It's never been made.

The reason for this is obvious once you realize which popular, iconic franchise has a legal lock on swords made of light. You can have a dragon, a sword, or any combination of the two, but that sword can't be a light beam or Lucasfilm/Disney will clamp down on you. The closest any game's been able to come is No More Heroes, which used a "beam katana" that had a covering over the top to make it different. The Super Smash Bros. games also have a sword item you could say was made of light, but there have never been any dragons in it. There's still no Laser Sword game.

Then something not normally seen in R-TYPE, or even Laser Sword, happens: Dave Coulier's face. Talk about a glitch!

A wisecracking man in weird clothes comes out of the game in a plume of smoke and nearly frightens the Harpers' mullets off. He says his name is Kevin, that he's a warlock, and that he's also Winnie's fiance.
"Winnie has a fiance?" asks a startled Gene.
Kevin gestures toward the monitor he emerged from and says "Haven't ya heard of VIDEO DATING?? Ha, I kill myself!" His jokes are exceptionally bad, even for this series. I can't tell if it was an intentional part of his character or not.

Coulier is mainly here because Full House was red-hot and ABC was doing a struggling show a favor. Even if it was forced upon the writers, and even though Dave's a bit of a creep in real life....this role was well-cast. It's a goofy part, and this is the man who was also voicing Baby Animal on Muppet Babies. He took a ridiculous job and completely threw himself into it with pride. He's playing the antagonist, but we're not supposed to HATE Kevin. Kevin is boisterous and misguided, but not evil. Coulier walked that line flawlessly.

Well, this is a freaky development. The children rush over to Winnie so fast she almost zaps them from fright. Gene tells her some guy popped out of his game and claims he has dibs on Winnie, a notion she laughs off at first -- until her expression changes and she asks, "What's his name?"
"Oh no, it can't be!"

Did they name him Kevin to make a sly Wonder Years reference? It took me a long time to put the two names together and realize that.

Winnie holds the snowglobe while explaining the full story, which is mostly told in flashback. This is our only glimpse at Winnie's home life, and like I said before, it's unclear where it takes place. The setting looks medieval, but is it on Earth or somewhere else?

150 years ago, Winnie's parents set her up for an arranged marriage, trading her in exchange for forty goats. But Winnie protested that she didn't love Kevin and pleaded for a way out. Her father eventually relented, though he couldn't go back on the deal. Instead, he set up a series of "conditions" that had to be satisfied before Kevin could be deemed worthy of Winnie's hand. Kevin would have to perform several impossible tasks without magic, which would keep him busy for a long time, hopefully forever.

Unfortunately, now human progress has provided methods for Kevin to complete all his tasks. He was supposed to find a chicken without a bone, so he went to a fast-food joint. He was expected to cross the sea in a day, so he hopped on a plane. The only task he still had problems with was shaking the hands of twelve virgins ("Thank goodness for the Amish!")

Winnie grabs his task scroll and anxiously looks for something he hasn't done. "Uh....AHA! You haven't....CAPTURED FOREVER A WOMAN'S SMILE! You can't do it, it's over---" Her speech is interrupted by the flash of a Polaroid in her face.

All the tasks are completed, and now nothing can stop the wedding, which will take place...RIGHT NOW! Kevin makes the whole setup instantly appear in the living room, including Winnie's father. As she's being pulled to the altar, Winnie throws the Harpers the scroll and pleads with them to find some kind of loophole before it's too late.

They struggle to find anything, so right before the vows, Winnie's pop discreetly adds something to the scroll with a spell. Robb reads, "Winnie can't marry Kevin because......she's already married!"

Pop stands up and acts surprised: "ALREADY MARRIED? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! Winnie, I will never speak to you again!" Before he leaves, he says quietly "I'll call you on the broom phone." And I thought, what a lame joke! He just took the word "phone" and added "broom" to it? .....then I realized, he meant "car phone." This was back when if you wanted to call somebody in a car, you had to own a phone fully installed into the car itself. This kind of thing was seen as a luxury for big businessmen -- if you mentioned you had a car phone, everyone was instantly impressed, because it meant you were doing well. Winnie's dad must be living in a better house now than the one we saw in the flashback.

Kevin feels more dejected than angry. "I spent 150 years.....all that time wasted!"
"Well, it was a long time....what did you THINK was going to happen?"
" least let me know the name of the lucky warlock who beat me to you."
"His name was.....THOMAS HARPER! The father of my three lovely children!"
The kids rush around Winnie and act the part.

After the wedding scenery disappears, Kevin asks to meet Thomas. Not good -- Winnie tries to talk him out of it. "Um, normally that'd be possible, but he's out doing heroic, valiant warlock stuff!" And in typical sitcom fashion, Thomas rushes into the room on cue because there's a big spider in the garage and he wants Winnie to kill it. He was supposed to be at the firm, wasn't he? Was the pull of this predictable setup line so great that it teleported him back to the house?

Thomas is naturally startled when Winnie starts referring to him as "honey." She yanks him into the kitchen and spins the best yarn she can: Kevin is an old ex-boyfriend who never got over Winnie, and to get rid of him, she told him she was married. So if Thomas plays along, Kevin's feelings won't be hurt. Thomas thinks telling Kevin the truth would be a better idea but Winnie insists that would destroy him.

Thomas and Winnie happily skip back into the living room arm-in-arm. The charade goes unbelievably well at first, if a bit awkward. Kevin and Thomas have a two-sided conversation about Magic (Johnson) beating the (Golden State) Warriors; Kevin thinking he means these things literally and Thomas thinking Kevin's a basketball fan. Then Kevin asks where Thomas is from.
"Did Winnie meet you on Earth, or in the witch dimension?"
"The witch dimension?"
"Really? I didn't see you there."

It looks like Winnie has squeezed through another predicament and Kevin is about to leave. Then...Thomas opens the door to his office, or where his office used to be, and his mood drops.

I should mention Corinne Bohrer is ON FIRE in this episode. Her performance is as strong as it's ever been. The expressions, the intonations, the funny looks -- it's all flawless. Just look at this:

"But....but what about the kids?"
"YOU CAN HAVE THE KIDS!" Thomas stomps off.
"WINNIE, THIS IS GREAT!!" Coulier says with his best Alyson Hannigan impression.

Well, that backfired hard. There's only one way left to escape this, and it's the way Winnie's been hoping to avoid all this time.
She takes Kevin aside and confesses, "The truth is, I don't want to marry you because....I don't love you."
"What? But.....But I'M ADORABLE!"
"Oh, I know, but I just don't! Trust me, this is better for you too! You need someone who loves you for YOU, and....not for your goats."

"I appreciate the thought, Winnie, but.....there's just no one out there for me."
"Not necessarily," Winnie insists, and makes a photograph materialize. "Have you seen my sister Abigail?"
"No, I don't think---WHOA, WHAT A FOX!! And she's got four arms!"

This is the second time Winnie has mentioned having a sister named Abigail with four arms (she was also referenced in "Hallowinnie"). There's also the little sister Robb's age who appeared in the lost Episode 14. Both these people are unlikely to ever appear in the comic. I feel the more family Winnie has, the less likely she would choose to stay with the Harpers indefinitely. They didn't think much about psychological motivations on this show, but that kind of character depth wasn't the way things were done on television in the eighties, or in any previous decade.

After the last break, Winnie catches Thomas late at night playing Laser Sword. She apologizes for swapping out the room, but he apologizes back for getting bent out of shape. "I was just unsure, you know? I wanted this office to fall back on." He's decided to stay with the firm. What did they do with this area in Episode 14? Do any of you know? Did Robb move in there?

"How come you didn't really go for Kevin?" Thomas asks. "He seemed like a nice guy." Ironically, a Nice Guy was exactly what he was.
"Well....either the magic's there or it's not," Winnie answers. They're teasing a relationship that will never happen again.

Then Thomas and Winnie spend their final moments on the air playing two-player Frogger simultaneously, which is impossible, but...Winnie's involved, so who knows.