The Ropers

Season 1 Episode 6

Opportunity Knocks

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Apr 17, 1979 on ABC

Episode Recap

Anne is sitting on the Ropers' living room couch, as Helen paces back and forth in front of a table full of food. Helen is disappointed that nobody else has showed up for her neighborhood brunch. Anne feels bad for her, having made so much food. Helen jokingly suggests they must all be on a diet, then makes a fake laughing sound. She finally admits they must not have wanted to come. Anne suggests she may have written the wrong date on the invitations. Helen assures her that she wrote specifically that she would be at home at this time, then admits that someone wrote back, "so will I." The doorbell rings, and Helen is confident that it's someone coming to her party. She opens the door to find it's only Stanley, wondering what the fuss is all about. Helen tells him she's expecting company, and that he's supposed to stay outside and wash the car. Stanley contends that she wants the neighbors to think he's her chauffeur, and says that he only came in for a cup of coffee. Helen claims that she was going to bring him one, when everyone left. He sarcastically looks around the empty room, then says that he was right, all forty of their neighbors are stuffed shirts. Anne sarcastically thanks him. He apologizes, saying she doesn't have a stuffed shirt. Anne looks down at her chest. Helen asks if he finished washing the car, and he replies that he did, except for the rusty parts. Helen replies that most of the car is rusty. He pleads with her to give him a chance. Anne gets up, saying she has to leave because Jeffrey is coming home for lunch. After Helen shows her out, she tells Stanley not to say anything that would make fun of her unsuccessful party. He says he feels twice as bad, but only because he bought the food. Becoming more depressed, Helen asks rhetorically what's wrong with her. Stanley says he'll tell her later, and she begins to cry. He tells her not to let those snobs bring her down, and reminders her that she still has him. She begins to bawl.

As Jeffrey waits for Anne to serve him his lunch, she recounts what happened to Helen's brunch. Jeffrey says she should have expected that, because Mrs. Clifford was having a brunch at the same time. Anne admits she wasn't aware of the conflict, to which he replies that it wasn't a contest; the wife of the local councilman, versus the wife of the local dropout. He asks where David is, and she tells him he's helping Stanley wash his car. Jeffrey claims that it's not a car, because it never moves, has moss on the tires, and lowers the tone of the whole neighborhood. Anne claims he's exaggerating. He further suggests the car will be stuck out there forever, rotting, rusting, attracting mice, causing decent people to leave the neighborhood and riffraff to move in. Standing up, he contends there will be graffiti everywhere, and that he's going to bring it up at the next homeowner's association meeting. Trying to get to him to end his tirade, Anne says he looks handsome when he's upset. It works, and they kiss. David comes in and causes them to break it off. Jeffrey shakes his hand. David says that Stanley told him he's going to buy a dog with a nodding head for the back window of his car. Jeffrey tells him to drink his juice, so he will be strong enough to survive in the ghetto. Looking at the newspaper, he's disgusted that unemployment is up to seven percent, then tells Anne that Debra, the file clerk at the office, quit today. Anne asks if she was the thin one, to which he replies that she used to be, but then says she's now pregnant, spelling out the word so David doesn't hear it. Anne sarcastically replies that she's surprised because Debra was sex mad, which Anne spells out. David breaks in and asks what pregnant means, to his father's shock. He says that it's a word that means she's growing a baby in her tummy. David asks if he can play with it. Jeffrey replies that he can't, yet, but then can't think of what to say next, and tells him to drink his juice. After taking a sip, he asks his father what sex mad means, causing Jeffrey to spit out the water he was drinking, all over his suit. Anne dares Jeffrey to explain. Jeffrey says it's one of those words that he'll understand when he's much, much older. Anne sarcastically replies, "bravo!" Trying to change the subject, he asks David what he's learning about in school this week. David says they are learning about nature and the reproductive process. Upset, he tells Anne that the school is teaching his son about sex. Anne counters by explaining that they are only studying the reproduction of the tadpole. David asks if he himself was ever a tadpole. After telling him no, Jeffrey tells Anne that he's at a very impressionable age, and will probably grow up to have an affair with a frog.

Back in the Ropers' living room, Stanley is eating leftover food while Helen is sitting on the couch. He grimaces after taking a bite and quietly puts the rest of the piece down. Helen continues to sit there, sniffling, trying to get his attention as he continues to sample the food. Stanley tells her to cheer up, but she contends the neighbors hate her. Stanley tries to comfort her, by assuring her that they don't hate her, they just don't want anything to do with her. She sarcastically thanks him, but he thinks she was serious. The doorbell rings, and Stanley opens the door to find Larry Dallas, his former tenant, standing there. Helen is happy to see him, and gives him a hug. He says that they were never this happy to see him, and Stanley quips that he was, when he was bringing his rent check. Stanley asks him how things are going at the used car lot, and Larry explains that he just dropped off a lemon (which he corrects to car) around the corner, and that's why he stopped by. Asking about the kids, Larry says that Janet is working hard at the flower shop, and Jack is thinking of buying a motorcycle. Stanley asks if it will have a side saddle, then does his Tinkerbell impression. Larry goes on to say that he's concerned about Chrissy, because she keeps making the wrong decisions, such as turning down a terrific offer… from Larry himself. Larry asks how they are doing, and Stanley replies that things are great, and they live in a terrific spot. This elicits two sarcastic laughs from Helen. Upset, Stanley says she has a terrible cough. Stanley and Larry get up to look around outside, and he says goodbye to Helen.

Stanley and Larry arrive at the community hot tub, which is currently being used by the young and attractive Marilyn. Larry asks if she's the heater. Stanley explains that the facilities come with the house, to which Larry asks if there are any guest privileges. Sitting down in a couple of chairs, Larry asks what's upsetting Helen. Stanley explains she has trouble with the neighbors, whereas he's the kind of guy who can get along anywhere, quoting the line "If you can walk among kings, and never lose the common touch…" Larry breaks to agree, quipping that there is something very common about Stanley. Not catching on, Stanley agrees. Larry doesn't understand what Helen's problem is, and that everyone around the community looks very friendly. He then waves at Marilyn. Stanley contends that he should have followed his instinct and bought a mobile home. Larry says that's a coincidence, because his boss has one he "wants to unload", which he corrects to "has for sale." Stanley asks if it's a good site, and Larry says he can confirm that it is a sight. Stanley admits his dream would be to sell the house and buy a mobile home, so he would never have to work again. Larry sarcastically replies that it would be a wonderful thing to do for Helen. Stanley agrees. Stanley gets up to show Larry the rest of the facilities, but Larry stays behind, getting into the tub with Marilyn, despite still wearing his dress clothes. He introduces himself, claiming to be a talent scout for MGM and roaring like a lion.

Anne is out front, tending to the flowers, when Helen steps outside and meets her, saying she was stopping over to drop off some of the hundreds of sandwiches she had leftover. Anne explains the conflict in scheduling that ruined her brunch, which elates Helen, and causes her to blurt out that the neighbors must just like Mrs. Clifford more than her. She runs back inside, leaving Anne speechless.

At his office, Jeffrey is talking on the phone to a potential buyer, admitting that his real estate advertisement said the house was on the lake, not in the lake, and that it only happens once or twice a year. The buyer hangs up. He asks rhetorically, just what do buyers expect for three hundred thousand dollars? He gets on the intercom, and tells his secretary to let the Shah of Iran in. Stanley walks in, smiling. Jeffrey says he's busy with work, and if he wants to borrow the electric hedge trimmer, he's going to have to give it back first. Stanley asks how much he thinks he could get for his house. Jeffrey does a double take, then smiles broadly. At a loss for words, he gets down on his knees and puts Stanley's hand against his cheek. He tells Stanley it's worth a lot, and gets him a drink. Stanley explains he'd be much happier in a mobile home, and Jeffrey is in full agreement. Stanley asks how much the commission would be, to which Jeffrey emphatically says he wouldn't charge him anything, and he should be able to have him out in a week. He puts his arm around Stanley's shoulder, making him uncomfortable.

Sometime later, Jeffery calls Stanley from the office. He has a couple who is interested in looking at the house today at three o'clock, which Stanley repeats. Helen walks in, hearing the last part of the conversation. Upon hanging up, she asks who he was talking to. He claims it was someone calling for a time check. Helen says that it's only noon. Stanley replies that they were calling from New York. Not confident she's buying his story, he asks her if she would like to go to the movies this afternoon. Helen is happily shocked, and sits down to embrace him. She says they haven't been to an afternoon movie since they were dating, recalling they were the only couple not to get a tan that summer. She gets up, wanting to leave for the movie right away. However, Stanley says she should go see it herself, and if she likes it, he'll go see it some other time. Now fuming, she says she's going shopping and storms out.

At the community hot tub, Anne is relaxing in it while David is sitting on the edge, playing with a motorized water toy. He asks his mother when he's going to get a baby brother, and why she doesn't go to the doctor to buy one. She explains that's not how you get babies. He admits that he knows that, causing Anne to ask him to explain what he knows. He says that she has to lay an egg, which relieves Anne. Councilman and Mrs. Clifford approach the hot tub, dressed in robes. Mrs. Clifford notices David, and proceeds to run her hands through his hair as she greets him. He gets upset and leaves to ride his bike. Sitting down, she tells Anne that she missed her at the brunch. Anne explains that she never got an invitation, which shocks Mrs. Clifford. She surmises that it must have gotten lost in the mail, to which Anne says that it didn't matter, because she had already promised to attend Helen's. She goes on to suggest that Mrs. Clifford should stop at the Ropers' sometime and meet her. She turns to her husband, and tells him they need to involve Helen in their community. The councilman suggests he could get Helen to sit on the church roof he's trying to repair. Jeffrey then stops over, carrying his suitcase. He explains he's home early to show the Ropers' house to a couple of prospective buyers. Anne asks what for, and he only smiles.

At the house, Stanley and the prospective buyers are returning from upstairs. Uncomfortable, he says they are now downstairs, and everything above the ceiling is upstairs. The man asks if Stanley will be leaving the carpets and drapes. After Stanley confirms that he won't, the man turns to his wife and says "thank God for that." The wife asks Stanley if he can hear the neighbors through the walls. He enthusiastically says he can, and that some nights it's better than what's on television. Noticing that they don't find it funny, he says that he can't hear a thing. The husband asks about the garbage, to which Stanley quickly replies that he's going to take it with him. At this point, Helen returns early from her shopping trip, and Stanley quickly hustles the couple into the kitchen. He asks if he can help her with the bags, calling her sweetheart and raising her suspicion. She notices there are people in the kitchen, and inquires who they are. Stanley explains they are just people, a man and his wife who stopped in to say hello. Helen now thinks they are neighbors who want to meet her, and she is ecstatic. Stanley tries in vain to prevent her from going to the kitchen. She enthusiastically greets them as they enter the living room and Stanley tries to show them to the door. Helen stops them and has them sit on the couch. The wife says that they just wanted to look around her house, which confuses Helen. The wife further explains that from the outside, you can't tell that the master bedroom doesn't have a large closet, and that the bathtub is too small. Helen can't believe what she's hearing. The couple then complains about the cracks in the ceiling. The husband says he thinks the kitchen is too small, then admits he just doesn't like these kinds of houses. His wife agrees and gets up. Helen, now fuming, angrily quips that she doesn't like them either. Stanley now eagerly shows them to the door. Before leaving, the woman says the house would look much better with their own furniture in it. They walk out, and Stanley tries to hustle back to the kitchen, saying only that the couple was from Santa Barbara. Helen wonders aloud why people would come from Santa Barbara to say hello. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. It's Anne, who's sorry to hear they won't be neighbors anymore. Helen thinks Anne's moving, then Anne corrects her. Helen does a double take. Anne explains that Stanley has the house on the market and is showing it to prospective buyers. Helen is in shock. Stanley returns from the kitchen, reading from the TV Guide. Helen slowly approaches him, and knocks it out of his hands. Now in a rage, she asks how many people he's had poking through her belonging, looking at her ceiling, and insulting her furniture. The doorbell rings again, and Helen storms toward the door. It's Councilman and Mrs. Clifford, coming to meet Helen for the first time. Unfortunately, Helen thinks they are another couple who's arrived to see the house, and acts extremely rude towards them. She says she's not letting them in just so they can tell her that the bathtub's too small, and that she won't let them sneak through her bedroom. She then slams the door in their faces. In shock, Anne finally tells her who they really were. Helen feels ashamed, then glares at Stanley, who is sitting in his chair. As she begins to approach him, he jumps to his feet, desperately reminding her that he's a war veteran as she chases him up the stairs.