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Michelle a la Carte
Season 7, episode 20
Michelle a la carte
Air date March 15, 1994
Writer(s) Cathy Jung
Director John Tracy
Previous Love on the Rocks
Next Be Your Own Best Friend

Michelle a la Carte is the twentieth episode of season seven of Full House. It originally aired on March 15, 1994.

Opening Teaser

Stephanie gets a broken arm after slipping on a discarded slice of pizza in the parking lot outside a skating rink. As Danny guides her in through the front door, D.J. brings Alex and Nicky into the living room, and the boys notice the "big boo-boo". D.J. jokes that if anyone asks, Stephanie should say that she missed the landing on a triple-toe loop. Danny suggests she change her pants if she's going to stick with that story (as the camera zooms out to reveal a big red triangle on her jeans [pizza sauce]), as she heads upstairs.

Synopsis

After being insulted by a neighborhood boy named Kenny, Michelle decides that she wants to be in the annual downhill soapbox derby championship, and she gets Becky to help her build a soapbox car.

As they're working on her car, Kenny comes back to insult Michelle again, making comments about how girls should not be doing things like entering a soapbox derby race. When Becky demonstrates the car and tries to prove otherwise, the left front wheel falls off. And due to those comments, Michelle feels like dropping out of the race (much to the studio audience's groans).

Elsewhere, D.J. and Steve Hale decide to try to give friendship a try after their recent breakup, but all he wants is his CD back.

Meanwhile, as Stephanie works to regain her strength following her accident (see Opening Teaser), she gives Joey ballet lessons as a way to help him improve his skills in ice hockey. During the lessons, he ends up accidentally ripping the seat of his pants. Luckily, by practicing over and over, he gets really good at it, and, after he gives Michelle back the tape he borrowed from her (see Trivia), Jesse and Danny apologize to him for making fun of his wanting to learn ballet. Feeling guilty about what they had said, Jesse and Danny also apologize to Michelle (saying that sometimes people make a joke, but don't realize they're sending out a bad message) before encouraging her to not give up.

Becky reminds her (as the inspirational music plays) that being a girl makes her special. She also adds that she can be a good mechanic and build just as good a car as the guys can. And Michelle agrees, as they hug (shown in infobox photo; and the audience lets out an "Aw" just as the music stops). So they get to work on putting the finishing touches on her car.

The day of the race, Michelle has butterflies. But the rest of the family (sans Joey and the twins) show up for her support.

The elimination/quarterfinal heats soon begin, and she makes it past that stage. She then makes it to the semifinals (which her friend Denise also makes it to, and stays around for the rest of the race), and then the finals. In the final race, it is Michelle against Kenny, who has never lost a race.

After a pep talk from the rest of the family, and despite being behind midway through per D.J., Michelle races past Kenny, and wins the championship "by a rose" (hence the rose that she took from Becky's bouquet and placed at the hood of her car; see Trivia). After the race, Kenny congratulates Michelle, as he walks away, head hung low, and his perfect streak finally broken and put to a stop dead in its tracks (no pun intended). Everyone runs out onto the track to celebrate Michelle's victory near her car at the finish line, as she hoists her trophy (and the applause from both the crowd and studio audience continue as the camera zooms out and the EP credits appear).

Quotes

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[After hearing that Becky is the adult who's going to help Michelle build her soapbox car...]
Kenny: [to Michelle] Excuse me. Did I hear right? You're gonna let a girl help you?
Denise: And what's wrong with that?
Kenny: Everyone knows that girls don't have car brains. They have Barbie-doll brains [rolls his eyes].
Michelle: Well, Barbie has a Corvette.
Kenny: Yeah, but Ken built it! [laughs and walks away – as Denise does the hand motion for "Forget him" or "Good riddance"].


[D.J.'s ex-boyfriend comes by and Stephanie listens to their conversation.]
Stephanie: See, Deej? He's not devastated. He just wants his CD back.
D.J.: [in an authoritative, but not angry, tone] Steph. Out. Now.
Stephanie: Right. Gotcha. [heads downstairs] Bye.


[Danny and Jesse peek in on Joey's ballet lessons with Stephanie.]
Danny: Last time I saw Joey bend over that far was when an Oreo rolled under the couch.
Stephanie: Okay, I think we're ready for the bar exercise.
Jesse: I'm ready for the barf bag.
Stephanie: [to Joey with a smile, after seeing how well he’s doing with his ballet lessons] Somebody’s been practicing.
Joey: Thank you for noticing. Steph, I just imagined myself as a squirrel on the first day of spring, gathering nuts.


[On the racetrack, the soapbox cars are set at the starting position (12 quarter-finalists, 4 races of 3 drivers each).]
Official: Drivers readyyyy? [as he waves his green flag] Go! [A compilation of each race is shown: Michelle, Denise, Kenny, and an unnamed driver win the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, it's Denise vs. Kenny and Michelle vs. the unnamed driver. Kenny and Michelle win, setting up the finals. [...] And the final race in the Downhill Derby championship will be between Kenny Webster and Michelle Tanner.
Kenny: [to Denise] Well, if it isn't my first opponent [looks to Michelle] and my next.
Denise: [to Michelle, with a sneer...] No mercy. [Michelle nods and Kenny laughs.]


[The finalists are set to go but have a few words for each other before the big race for all the marbles.]
Kenny: Look [points to the rose she put on her car], your car goes so slowly, it's growing weeds [smiles].
Michelle: My dad said, if I can't say anything nice then I shouldn't say anything at all. Well, my dad's not here, and you're a weenie!
Official: For the championship, ready... [Down goes the green flag once more.] Go! [And off they go.]
Kenny: [a growling...] Goooo!
[Michelle just keeps her composure as both drive down the track.]
Family: Come on, Michelle! Come on!
[Cut to a wide shot, as both drivers are neck and neck. But...]
D.J.: She's behind!
[As both cars inch closer and closer to the finish line, the family and Denise cheer their heroine on.]
Jesse: Gonna be close!
Official: And the winner is... [the picture freezes to show...] Michelle Tanner by a rose! [And as the picture unfreezes, she takes the checkered flag as everyone celebrates her victory. Everyone but...]
Kenny: [His mother takes him over to Michelle, and reluctantly...] Congratulations.
Michelle: Thanks.

Trivia

  • Apparently, the episode's title has a double meaning:
    • The term à la carte was originally a restaurant term, meaning to order an individual dish by itself, rather than with a meal. It has come to be used for other things as well. In this episode, Michelle becomes more of an individual (by letting a woman help build her car, instead of a man).
    • Ala Kart is a custom car, and the cars in a soapbox derby are custom cars.
  • The music from Michelle's tape is "The Dance of the Reed Flutes" (also "The Dance of the Mirlitons") from The Nutcracker ballet, composed by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, and based on the story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffman.
  • The announcer's "by a rose" remark is a play on "by a nose", which means a close finish/photo-finish (as shown when the camera freezes instant-replay style at the exact point when both cars are about to reach the finish line, but Michelle crosses first).
  • Stephanie in this episode is wearing a cast on her right arm because Jodie Sweetin actually broke her arm while shooting the previous episode (see Love on the Rocks#Trivia), so they wrote in the slip-and-fall incident for the #Opening Teaser.
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