Episode Reviews (1)
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This was a cheerful coming of age diversion through the eyes of Matthew, who befriends the young wife of a former high school hockey star. One of the sweeter episodes in the series, and certain to trigger memories for all of us.
This episode was a lot like a mini-movie. It's centered around the Saturday night adventures of each of three generations. For Matthew, who is just starting to discover girls, it's an opportunity to learn about relationships from an older girl. For Jimmy and Jill Brock, it's an embarrassing look at rekindling romance as they enter middle age. And for Wambaugh, it's a scary look at old age, as one of his friends dies in the middle of his weekly poker game.
The episode focuses a lot on Matthew. His hockey friends from school visit the home of former high school hockey star Pete Hunnecker. Pete's promising career was derailed by injury shortly after high school. He married his high school sweetheart, Tina, and they live in poverty and misery.
To Matthew, Pete is an idol. He doesn't see the misery in Pete's life. He sees Tina as only the beautiful homecoming queen. Matthew is sent to retrieve Tina from a drunken karaoke night outing with her friends. As Tina sobers up in the parking lot, she and Matthew talk about life, and through this conversation Matthew begins to understand adult relationships.
This is very well handled. A clumsier writer would have included some strange romantic scene between Matthew and Tina, and the message would have been lost. Instead, Tina throws up on her expensive high-heeled shoes and throws them away. At the end of the episode, Matthew finds and keeps one of those shoes, a symbolic reminder that what appears ideal and sexy from a distance is often tarnished with the reality of broken dreams.
Jill and Jimmy, meanwhile, have a night without children. They try and rekindle the romance of their relationship, very awkwardly, and Jimmy winds up with his, well, Jimmy, painfully caught in a zipper. For some reason Jill, a trained doctor, can't extract him on her own, and takes him to Dr. Joey.
This is just humiliating and poorly set up. No wife would ever embarrass her husband in that manner, especially given Jimmy's role in the community.
Representing senior citizens, Wambaugh and Judge Bone have their weekly poker game interrupted by the death of one of their friends, who actually passes in the middle of a hand.
This triggers the usual fear of death reaction from the two men, who handle it in very different manners. Wambaugh wants to take the Judge out for a night on the town, which was supposed to end with skinny dipping at a local lake. Fortunately for us, the men wind up discussing their fears openly instead of removing their clothes.
This segment of the plot is not as well designed as Matthew's story, but as a subplot is effective and adds some significant insight into the characters of both men.
Overall, this is the type of plot series creator David E. Kelley would have enjoyed. It was much more in tune with the rest of the series than most of the fourth season.moreless