Episode Title: "T-R-A... Something, Something
Production Code: 0702
Reviewed By: Nitzan Gilkis
Episode description: Inspired by an article in "Cosmo", Peggy decides that she and Al should spend their Saturday night 'talking their marriage alive' - only to discover they have absolutely nothing to talk about. Meanwhile, Kelly has to walk back home from a date after she refuses to 'put out' without getting some conversation first, and Bud goes out with a girl who has the measles.
"T-R-A... Something, Something Spells Tramp" was co-written by Ron Leavitt and Ellen L. Fogle, two writers who never collaborated before or after this episode (in fact, Fogle never collaborated with anyone other than here), and I have this theory that what happened is they each came up with a separate storyline that wasn't quite enough to hold an episode on its own, and decided to artificially combine them into the rather disjointed affair we have before us. Because if you pay attention, other than the time setting, Kelly's storyline and Al and Peggy's storyline have absolutely NO connection to one another - no mutual references, no intersecting scenes, nada. If it wasn't for Bud's brief appearance in the woods at the end, you could've easily taken either one and used it as a b-plot somewhere else. This lack of cohesion certainly doesn't contribute to enjoying the episode, which isn't that well written as it is (Kelly's scenes especially). Nonetheless, there is some good fun to be had here - you just gotta know where to look...
Peggy: [to Al] Remember when we were young? Out every night, living, loving, taking big mouthfuls of life... And then we met.
Spending quality time, the Al Bundy way
The less bad storyline has Al and Peggy trying to strike up a conversation on a Saturday night (Peggy's idea, of course, not Al's... He would've been content to just sit there and "burp himself to the grave", hehe). I like those stories that give us a glimpse of what 'normal' life is like at the Bundy home when they're not busy doing something stupid or outrageous; unfortunately, this one is an instance of the synopsis being funnier than the actual episode, which doesn't live up to its promise. Sure, you get the odd laugh here and there, but you can't escape the feeling that this storyline had greater potential. It gets considerably less screentime than the other, weaker storyline, and just when it starts to get interesting (Peggy: "now, let's talk about us"), it's interrupted by Jefferson and Marcy coming over (notice how the writers no longer even bother to explain their visits?), from which point it sadly turns its focus to making fun of the husbands' deficient performance in bed (yes, Jefferson too - seems to have been a trend around that time: 0613, 0617, 0624, 0701...) - territory that's been visited by the show so many times before there's very little room for innovation. To add joy to rapture, that loathsome buggermeister Seven makes an appearance (yes, we reviewers take special pleasure in making up names for the little turd *g*), reciting a few punchlines he probably doesn't even understand in true "Full House" fashion. Thank heavens it's only a short one this time... As promised in the first paragraph, there are also some great bits; easily the best is Al and Jefferson's lengthy, lightning-fast exchange of small talk (which of course comes right after Al tells Peggy he's "just not a talker"). Great performance from both Ed and Ted. Also hilarious is Al's panicing at the beginning of the episode when he thinks an article in "Cosmo" has made Peggy want to have sex more than once a month (having him wipe his brow with relief when he learns he was wrong is a great touch). I've noticed that Al seems to have a very ambivalent attitude towards sex with Peggy; at the end of this very same episode he willfully initiates it and seems quite jolly about it (someone mind explaining to me what the heck that "Goose! Goose!" foreplay was all about?), and this ain't the first time we've seen it happen. This storyline has quite a funny bottom line to it if you think about it: the only common thing Al and Peggy have, the only joint activity that they actually sometimes seem to enjoy, is the sex. And given what we know about Al and Peggy's sex, this is very funny indeed...
Tramp: Must a girl wear underwear to get respect in this town?
"I got me an older woman"
I'm not exactly sure what point, if any, Kelly's storyline wants to make. That "men are the real tramps"? Nah, too deep for this one. To me it seems as though the writers just had a lot of blonde/tramp jokes lying around, and wanted to use up as many of them as they could, contriving this storyline for that sole purpose. Unfortunately, most of these jokes are ones you've seen or heard a hundred times before in one form or another, and weren't that funny to begin with: Kelly having to think "left, right, left, right" when walking, "eighty-ten bottles of beer on the wall", the tramps waiting for deer to cross at the deer crossing... and last and least - "14 miles? It was 15 before! It's just getting less!". I mean: huh?? The studio audience seems to think so too, with the line getting almost no laughs, and even Christina looks uneasy when delivering it. Wonder how it made it past the first reading (I have some theories involving booze and/or certain types of weed, but I'll keep 'em to myself for now *g*). The premise of this storyline isn't a very believable one: first of all, this Ralph guy Kelly dates (played by former teenage star Corey Feldman) is the picture definition of a loser, far from the type of guys we're used to see her go out with. What did she find in him in the first place? But forget that -- since when does Kelly want to talk before putting out? Since when does Kelly want to talk on a date at all? Remember "Oldies But Young'uns"?: "If I wanted to talk, I'd still be dating my teachers". She never seemed to be troubled by being treated as no more than a piece of meat elsewhere (watch "Valentine's Day Massacre" for example if you want some proof), and this sudden unexplained change of heart is too contradictive to be glossed over as just another MWC inconsistency. Having said all that, it's still worth hanging in there through all the plot holes and lame jokes just to get to Kelly's splendid 'funeral monologue', definitely one of the best she's ever delivered on the show (not that there were too many of them...). Masterful writing, and a rare chance for Christina to show what she's capable of, with her comic skills usually being criminally underused on the show. But once that's over, we're back to uninspired, unoriginal writing, with an utterly predictable ending that has Kelly and her tramp friends seducing Ralph out of his car and then stealing it (Aerosmith videoclips, anyone?). We do get a nice example of Bundy brotherhood, when Bud, upon hearing Ralph bad-mouth his sister, coughs on him to give him the measles ("consider this a gift from Kelly"). Well, you know the Bundy credo - "it sees us, insults us, we kick its ass". Or was it "don't mess with a Bundy"? In any case, Ralph sure learned that lesson the hard way... :-)
Peggy: This talk stuff doesn't
work for us. Let's go upstairs.
Al: Well, that doesn't work for us either, but it's quick, and we can get back down here and watch TV...
Bud gives Ralph a gift from Kelly
Funnily enough, the one with the biggest share of laughs in the episode is in fact Bud, despite it feeling as though he was a late addition to the script, as if at some point the writers went: "Uh-oh! We forgot about Bud. Oh well, let's throw in some gags about him being dateless on a Saturday night. We can still milk that cow the fiftieth time 'round...". And what do you know, they really still can. This time we have the added twist of him starting to develop schizophrenia (a precursor to "Proud To Be Your Bud", I wonder?), and I have to say that watching him go up the stairs while conversing with himself gave me some of the biggest belly laughs I've had in a while. I also loved "no more sticky fingers for me", which prompts some great facial expressions from Ed and Katey, that are followed by equally funny looks of extreme uneasiness from Faustino, who has by now mastered this kind of faces. This line is just one of countless (and I do mean countless) "x-rated lines" that can be found throughout the episode, which sports one of the biggest concentrations of such lines in a single episode I can remember. Here are just a few for your enjoyment:
Marcy: [to Peggy and Al] You
should see him. He's so cute going: "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can".
Jefferson: Of course, that's after four times of making her shake like a California quake.
Marcy: And just like Los Angeles, I'm still waiting for the Big One.
Al: [to Peggy] What gives you the
right to touch me?
Peggy: Well, 'cause I'm tired of touching myself.
Peggy: We have to improve our
social life. And I have the answers right here. [indicating the copy of "Cosmo" she's
Al: [indicating Peggy's boobs] Now, Peg, those weren't the answers since they stood up by themselves.
Peggy: They're not alone in that, you know.
Peggy: It's like Ground Hog's
Day. Peeking out of its hole, seeing its shadow, getting scared and running away.
Al: It's not the shadow it's scared of, Peg.
Peggy: It's cute as the Dickens, though.
Al: Not as cute as my little Bermuda Triangle...
"Who cares? We've got each other"
Bud finds something constructive to do with his Saturday night
In conclusion: the few gems that are scattered throughout the episode are just enough to make this one worth watching, but it's still a major letdown coming after the, er, magnificent season opener "Magnificent Seven".