The new season is finally here and with many changes---all of them good so far, and with reason. First off, the producers have listened to fans (like myself) and trimmed down a very large cast from last season---Four non-Camdens are gone (Chandler, Peter, Cecilia and Roxanne). I felt kind of bad they let Scotty Leavenworth go cause I did like him a little, but after watching this episode I think it was for the best. The show really returned to what we all kind of missed the last two seasons---Camden drama and comedy mixed together with much better writing and delivery on many levels of all the real important characters on the show for this season. The scenes in this episode were long (as they should always be) and not cut so short like so many episodes last season in order to fit so many in the cast. All storylines got excellent play and more in-depth characterization. Let's break it down...
Eric and Annie: Wow, the basic theme that I got from these two is that they are really starting to experience the Empty Nest Syndrome as they're children don't need them as involved in their lives anymore, and so far they are really failing. You could see it all the way in the beginning of the show when Annie was having a hard time of letting Eric take Sam and David to school on their first day. She knows it'll be the last time for her as a parent of her kids to have this experience. That part was okay, because it's understandable, she's a mother of seven.
Now with the rest of the kids, Eric and Annie see their other children (Matt, Lucy, Simon, Ruthie) much older as they're growing up and trying to live their own lives and flashing back to images of what's their perception of their children's young innocence. The only problem is, that doesn't exist anymore! Eric and Annie keep holding on to those images and it's starting to affect their parenting not in a good way. They simply can't let go of the fact that their children do not need them as much anymore in some parts of their lives and are grown adults and making decisions on their lives whether they believe in it or not. That's always been a problem for Eric and Annie over the years and sooner or later the writers need to bring this circle to a close. Eric and Annie really need to let go! No matter how many years they've raised all their children they need to stop meddling in their children's business in certain matters. More specifically, in this episode Eric and Annie made the wrong decision at the closing scene to go and crash Simon and Georgia's dinner to get to the bottom if they're having sex or not. They don't need to know that. All they can do is talk to him later and make sure he's being safe in that department whether he's having sex or not. Simon is now eighteen, it should no longer be a priority for them, church people or not despite their moral belief. Simon is his own person and his views can now be different than his parents. Now, Simon having sex in their house is a different matter, I do agree with the parents on that.
Matt was really giving them good advice in the end about dealing with Simon and his sex life. Other than Simon possibly having sex in their house, they can't control what he does and if he's doing it. All they can do is just talk to him. For them to completely ignore a reasonable Matt and downright go and sabotage Simon's and Georgia's dinner was wrong, and we'll probably see the consequences of that in the next episode. Eric and Annie, after raising 3 grown kids already still can't get it together on when they need to be involved in their kids lives and when they're going to far. Although, Simon can buy his own pack of condoms, Matt. I don't think Eric and Annie need to go there.
Simon and Georgia: Simon, oh, Simon....where do I start. First off, I'm ecstatic that David Gallagher was willing to return to the series for about half the episodes this season. Thanks David. Now, as much as I loved Simon in this episode he did a lot of things wrong that people were justifiably upset at him about. First, he shouldn't have been making out in his sister's and Kevin's apartment without their consent, as he got caught. Kevin and Lucy were justifiably annoyed and upset when speaking to him about it. For once in a long time Lucy actually had a good reason to be pissed. I was even on Annie and Eric's side as they suspected he was having sex with Georgia in their house. If Simon is, he shouldn't be doing it at his parents home, especially since it's their home and there are children in the house. Imagine if the twins went straight upstairs after being picked up from Kindergarten.
Simon was also dead wrong in lying to his parents on holding back that he got a partial scholarship for college. He really had no intention on mentioning it until he accidently brought it out after Eric asked him so many questions about him and Gerogia and the money he needs for dinner. Eric had every right on nailing Simon on that, and Simon (like any other eighteen year old) tried to weeze his way through the conversation (and very badly, mind you). Right there, it was obvious that Simon is starting to loosen his parents authority towards him and his parents' respect in that aspect, and that's not a good sign. This part of the parenting is what Eric and Annie should be more worried about with their 18-year-old son, not the sex! He's starting to become a good liar in their face and hiding things. That seems to be the more important issue than finding out if he's having sex or not. But like any person, why would Eric send Simon the checks for tuition? Why doesn't he directly pay it himself to the school to make sure nothing fishy is going on?
Ruthie and Martin: This was clearly an episode where Ruthie really started to show her bratty teenage side and Martin was her prime target for this occasion. It never dawned on me that much that Eric and Annie let Ruthie get away with murder (in comparison to their other kids when they were her age) any more obvious than in this episode. What really bothered me though was the conversation between Eric and Annie in the kitchen after Ruthie pantsed Martin. Annie said "Well, he shouldn't have been wearing those baggy jeans anyway and should've given Ruthie a ride to school." that's not the point! The point is she pantsed the poor dude, whether he wore baggy jeans or not. Nothing that Martin did was wrong. And by the way, what's wrong with baggy jeans? His were not that baggy in my opinion, though he should've wore a belt. It seemed kind of loose that could fall easily on their own. What do you want him to wear? High-waters? It just goes to show that Eric and Annie are completely more blinded when Ruthie does something wrong than their other kids. Why though? It's not like she's the baby of the family, the twins fill that duty now.
Either way, it was great to see a different side of Ruthie and Mackenzie Rosman expanding more with her character. She was very limited last season when she was always with Peter (Scotty Leavenworth) that she was quite boring and uninteresting, but now that he's gone she's become more fleshed out in character. Plus, with her starting high school already on shacky ground, it just already leads to even more great potential for her character this season as she gets older and more teenage-like.
Lucy and Kevin: Well, four months later after finding out she's pregnant Lucy is acting... sane and quiet. Wow, this is when I'd expect to her to act even more insane and crazy. You are tricky, writers! Very tricky! You got it backwards guys, yeesh! But thank you for making her more bearable. I'm guessing someone caught on the fan complaints and reviews from last season (wink, wink). Honestly though, I had to take what both Kevin and Lucy were saying and feelings from both sides of each person at face value. This is because I'm a guy and could never be in Lucy's position obviously, and have yet to be married and have a pregnant wife with absolutely not knowing what to do to contribute, like Kevin is feeling. It was still a breathe of fresh air though when they were finally talking at home ad their confessions to each other. They really felt like a couple going through the motions and it felt A LOT more real now, than of last season a lot of the times.
Although it did seemed kind of left field for Lucy to complain to Eric that he never offered her the associate pastors job. First off, she's still studying theology in college with many papers, currently in the early months of her first pregnancy, still a newlywed and so many other things. One would think (especially her father) that it may not be a good time to ask her sch a thing. Plus, can Eric really hire an associate pastor at his church by himself? It sure wasn't the case when Chandler came into the picture two years ago. Either way, at least Lucy said what she felt to Eric as once again Eric saw her as a child. Lucy defended herself (kind of whiny though) but got her point across to Eric that she was bothered he couldn't see her as being more involved in the church. She wants more responsibility, despite her new life changes, and, heck, The girl finally wants a job! Finally! Thank you, writers.
The Twins (Sam and David): They were doing so good towards the end of last season and starting to form their own little personalities that they've once again begun to talk like little robots, again! But it was still funny to hear the story they told Annie about them hitting a girl back and the teacher chasing them and then falling. Once again writers, couldn't you have shown this? It would've been priceless. You guys still keep the best parts off screen when there's no reason to. Please writers, I'd really love to see the twins outside the house and interacting with other people besides family members. They're too sheltered, let them play and run and be kids!
Overall, this was a wonderful season premiere that was much better than most episodes last season, or the one before that honestly. This episode delivered something that a lot episodes didn't last season—some real drama in the family, and the focus of the family at the core. That's what has finally returned and this episode has proved that after 9 years a show can return back to full form after a creative slump. I'm very excited about the whole season, much more than last season (and I did like the start of last season----but it fizzed midway after November.)
Grade: **A Strong 8.5 out of 10**
Rants and Bits
* I loved the new opening credits! It's been a while that I didn't feel like the opening credits were flashing so fast to get so many cast members in it. It was really ridiculous that last 2 seasons.
*Everyone looked great in this episode. No one had any bad hair and makeup jobs----particularly Annie. I guess the 7th Heaven crew took a hint when so many kept bashing her look last season with the crimpy hair and always looking tired.
*Once again, I do hope Scotty Leavenworth (Peter) does return for a few episodes later on in the season and Ashlee Simpson (Cecilia) since they can AT LEAST conclude on what's still an incomplete exit since we last saw them in the season finale last year.
*Also, Brenda Hampton, once again, what's with you and pants and baggy jeans? It seems to be another fication you have over the many pants (or similar) stories you've had over the years.