The Paper Chase

Season 1 Episode 21

A Case Of Detente

Aired Unknown Apr 17, 1979 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Unlike most of the season 1 episodes, this one is utterly unbelievable

    Détente between the US and the Soviet Union did indeed occur during the 1970s, although it had already fallen on hard times by the time this episode aired in 1979. And cultural exchanges, including athletes, were part of détente in practice.

    That's about as far as anyone could go in connecting this episode to reality. My beefs with plot points:

    1. In the 1970s, you would have been hard pressed to find a female gymnast on the Soviet Union's team who was older than her teens.

    2. The members of the gymnastics team were not only gymnasts, but law students? Ludicrous!

    3. The Soviet athletes were under loose enough control that they could sneak off on their own so easily? Again, that's ludicrous, as is the idea that they would be housed in the same dormitory as the law school students (weren't those rooms already in use)?

    4. It's not likely the law students would be using the same gym as the ones where the gymnasts would be practicing.

    I can be (at least somewhat) forgiving of lapses in logic if they serve the purposes of a good script. But this was not a good script. For one thing, it was not true to the character of Hart--I'll buy that he's naive, but not so naive to think that his fraternization with Tania, done in direct violation of rules that he was told more than once by university authorities, shouldn't result in major negative consequences for either him or Tania, because he thought they hadn't done anything all that bad.

    Hart spent nearly the entire episode either mooning or whining. There was no real resolution to the conflict, just an off-screen decision of the authorities to lighten up. At the end, I found myself wondering what was the point of the whole thing.

    Of course, it didn't help that this episode lacked John Houseman (who must have been unavailable for some reason). The presence of Kingsfield would have provided more ballast than the replacement character portrayed by Pernell Roberts. Even with Kingsfield in it, however, this would have still been a subpar episode.
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