Season 10 Episode 16
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead
Story by Bill Clark & Matt Olmstead
Directed by Mark Tinker
Wow! And I, for one, am *not* talking about Charlotte's girlfriends....
The comedy was, as always, most welcome, even it was a bit unrealistic. Connie was close enough to the robe *and* the shower to have made a quick dive for either one. No way her shock at seeing Theo would have quelled the natural female instinct to head for some real cover when unexpectedly exposed. But you know what? That Mrs. Robinson shot of Theo from between Connie's long legs made it all worthwhile. That was so g-d funny. I thought it was funnier than Andy's Hooters line. Very good, Mr. Tinker. (He must be a blast at dinner, this Tinker.) Charlotte Ross had a few truly glorious moments with her clothes on in the next scene where Connie is worried about the long-term effects on Theo and then as she begins to confide the horror/humor of the moment to Rita. This was a very brief part of the scene and was all set up to Andy's big line, but in it Ross hit every note right in perfect succession. Rarely do we see fun moments of confidentiality between Connie and Rita (or any of the women in the squad over the years) that the half-sentence Connie says to Rita about it stood out like a sunflower in the desert. I liked it and it left me wanting to hear more of their conversation. Of course, that desire was gone the second Andy mentioned Hooters and I was laughing again.
There was a lot of power in having this much humor jammed up against the sadness and what I can only assume would have been shock had ABC not fucked the whole thing up with their ridiculous "promo" of John's father's suicide. Audiences are so *easy,* aren't we? Take us on an emotional rollercoaster and we'll love ya forever. This week, we got to go on a ride that featured our emotional extremes. And, for some of you, included a little kick in your pants. What's not to like?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar did as fine a job making me cry as Dennis Franz did making me laugh. I admit, though, I had my doubts in the first scene where they find Clark's father. I expected some other reaction in the first few seconds--though I'm not sure what, maybe something more vocal (I think I'd be not only shocked but also angry and wondering just what the hell he had done and why)--but the whole thing seemed more natural after Andy started running around looking for the gun cleaning stuff and John just didn't even hear him. John being oblivious to that was a a really good element to add to the scene. And the final scene with the video tape...my God...my chin was all aquiver, my eyes teared up.... I was two seconds from breaking into the "ugly cry." I must say, all my little strings got pulled.
And how about these lead actors, anyway? How lucky are we to have such talent to call our very own each week? We've seen Franz and Ross making it look easy for quite a while now, and right away MPG certainly rose to the occasion (well, I don't know, maybe he was *always* that good. I've never seen him in anything before this), but if there were any doubt as to whether he'd stay on that level, I think you can erase it now. Out of the lead three roles, he was the sole good thing in last week's train wreck of a show. He executed great comedic timing last week. And this week, with Franz and Ross' roles back on track, he was right in there again, only this time he was hitting the other emotional pole. Nice work.
All that makes me wish a) this show had more depth when it comes to the above and b) they'd use the depth they *do* have (Clapp, for one.)
I didn't like the scenes with Rita much, though. Well, one I liked a lot: I thought the scene with her in the end when she drops John off was great. Jackie O. was top-notch right there, but that business with her comforting him? (And methinks this is all the writing...) I just wanted John to turn around and tell her to shut the f*ck up already. There's a time for that kind of talk--the stuff about remembering the good, and letting go of the anger and all that--but that time is decidedly not in the first hours after someone has found their father on the couch and his brains on the wall. That's the time when you go in the kitchen and make the tea, bring it back, put your hand on his arm (maybe) and keep your yap shut. You might, maybe, encourage him to talk and not close up, but the main thing at a time like that is to mirror the other person's feelings and share some of your own. I mean, that's all they are at a time like that: feelings. I think it's better to stand by, reflect some of those feelings, absorb others and stand by some more. Doling out advice to someone in shock? I don't think so. The good part of the scene is that John sat there nearly ignoring her. He didn't seem to hear any of it. Unfortunately, we had to. That scene could have dropped at no great loss.
Another scene that could have been dropped: Valerie's suicide bit. If it was used to established the suicide angle, it wasn't needed. That was done when Andy told the uniform it was a suicide then later barked at PAA John over it. So I didn't get the point. Or maybe I got it too much.
Alas, Joe Spano is gone. I could cry over that alone. What a talent that man is. I am going to miss him a ton. And I loved having someone in that squad have a real, live relative who had an impact on their life. Hey, it's just like real people! Most other forays into this area have been brief and with some dark purpose: We met Diane's parents only so they could be a case. We met Connie's sister only so she could die and give Connie a baby. Outside of Theo, the last time we had any kind of interesting family impact was waaaaay back when Greg's wife found out he was cheating, Fancy's wife used to drop in and James has some family hanging around. Lots to miss about this one. Spano and MPG were great together, and they actually looked related.
More excellent comedy: the old hitman. That whole thing was super. How do you make your run-of-the mill murder-for-hire story more interesting? You make the hitman a geezer who throws his back out firing a handgun. Great idea beautifully executed. Very entertaining. And writer Matt Olmstead was on a serious roll this week: (and I think he should seek therapy immediately) What kind of person comes up with ideas like two moron wiseguys ending up with a load of fungus-ridden edible undies? Great stuff.
*Loved Julian acting out his own murder in the alley. But how weird it had to be for Andy to have set up a head wound right after seeing one in Papa Clark.
*Another weird Julian thing: Andy never mentions how he's the guy who helped bury his last partner's dead body. Andy seems kind of friendly to him, in fact.
*I loved The Dentist: You got a problem? I extract it. These wiseguys are so stupid they don't even know when they're making fun of themselves.
*That Paul Cooler character was a riot, too. Here's a man who has never developed the ability to gauge his impact on people. That's never more clear than when he pulls the tape out of his grimy pants. And nice choice of name for the character.
*Shot of the Week: Well, there's Theo through the legs, of course, but also the way the out of focus shot of John after he found his father. The idea, I'm sure, was to make visual the feeling of detachment and confusion John was experiencing. His whole world caved in, he wasn't hearing Andy, he wasn't comprehending what he'd just seen, and while we're watching that we suddenly get a feel for it when the whole thing goes blurry. So, from one director in one show we get clever satire and we get to share in the dizzy-sick feeling of discovering a death. As directing goes, I think it's safe to say that doesn't suck.
*Let's dish for a second on Connie & Andy's bathroom and on that whole scene: Do they know how unsafe it is to keep a hairdryer on the sink like that with kids around? What is up with Connie flipping her hair as she turned around and Theo walked in? And how is it she stands there just staring at him for a second before making that lame attempt to cover up? OK, I'm finished.
*Wait, not quite. Stupid Shot Of The Week: Those deliberate pans (or whatever you call them) down to Connie's ass are just silly. Maybe they were cool or sexy back in the day when Blue was breaking ground on this kind of thing, but they make me laugh now. The first time I laughed out loud at one of these shots was in a scene years ago when Bobby was getting into the bathtub with Diane. You expect to see him drop his towel and sink into the water and the camera sort of follow him in. Instead, you see him drop his towel, then you see his face, then you see the camera drop down to his ass again, then and back up to follow him sinking into the water. It's just so damn obvious. And it's not like we didn't get a good look at her butt a few times outside of that. Anyways...
*So much for Connie's Laura Ingalls Wilder moment. Or: I guess that romantic dinner worked for Andy.
*What about Theo, anyway? Here's a kid who's traumatized by his move, his very sudden new family, his father sharing a bed with someone, etc. A kid who's bedwetting, and what happens? Someone make Andy an appointment with Dr. Phil. He's got to get a grip.
*Speaking of shrinks: I'm not sure, but I *do* think T. Berry Brazelton actually recommends putting a naked woman in the family bathroom as a way to entice male bedwetters to go there instead of on the mattress. I'll look it up when I get a sec.
So, I'll go with the obvious:
Connie on Theo: "How was he when you dropped him off at school?"
Andy: "I dropped him off at Hooters. He insisted."
And the not so obvious (that I loved):
The elderly hitman lamenting his luck: "Twenty years ago, you didn't have to worry about being arbitrarily filmed. The world's changed so much."
Have a great week & drop me a line if you like (if you do, please put NYPD Blue in the subject header. It's all part of my new spam-weeding plan.)