Wings

Season 2 Episode 20

Mother Wore Stripes

0
Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Mar 14, 1991 on NBC
6.6
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Mother Wore Stripes
AIRED:
Brian is ecstatic when his and Joe's mother returns to Nantucket years after deserting them and their father. For Joe it's too little to late, because he can't forgive her for leaving.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Joe and Brian's mother returns, and Joe is somehow wrong for not automatically forgiving her desertion.

    2.0
    There is a line between a sitcom's lead character (even in an ensemble like Wings) being 'long-suffering', which is needed for them to be the lead, and them becoming an unfunny doormat. I've always felt that Joe fell into this in the middle of the show's run, and I see this episode as the starting point.



    First, how is the burden upon Joe to grant forgiveness? What this lady wants, she has to earn back. How does she do this? By commenting that he was 'tight-cheeked even in the womb'. Great, Mom. Joke with your moral clone Brian and Helen 'I Just Gotta BackStab My Man' about the worst thing you ever did. This would be acceptable as nerves overriding her common sense, if, after Joe's memorable calling-out over exactly why he's so super-serious, she hadn't dodged by revealing the huge secret that...she's just not much of a mother. In other shocking news, Wings had similarities to Cheers. In this one instance, Joe is right, he is unequivocally right, beyond the ability of false friends and random strangers to change that. But the writers have him give that up for a vague assurance that she didn't leave because of a bad school project of his. The problem is not that he forgave someone he loved who wronged him. The problem is that by doing it the way he did, every waiter/politician/customer/whatever with attitude for the rest of the series can now walk over him--and most do. It set the wrong tone for a character who could have had his moment before going back to the usual lot of a sitcom lead.moreless
  • Starts off a bit slow, however turns into a solid dramatic episode and explains what exactly happened to Joe and Brian's long lost mother.

    8.5
    Synopsis: Brian is watching a golfing tournament on TV when he suddenly sees his long lost mother in the crowd who abandoned him and Joe when they were just kids. He contacts her, without telling Joe, and has her flown out to Nantucket. Brian welcomes his mom with open arms, however Joe is upset and refuses to talk to her. Brian then invites her home to have dinner, and afterwards Joe airs out his frustration with his mom. He then storms out of the house, and she later finds him in the airport hangar where she makes one last attempt to try and patch things up. Right as she is about to leave, Joe finds it in his heart to forgive what has happened, and agrees to make a new start with his mother.



    All in all I really liked this episode. It certaintly isn't a run of the mill episode given the serious subject matter, but as a dramatic episode it works quite well. The bright spot of the show was definately Tim Daly's believable performance. The way Joe reacted when he first saw his mother in the airport, and the two scenes at dinner and in the hangar were easily the highlights of the episode. Unfortunately the show didn't really start off too strong, and the attempts at injecting the show with humor didn't quite work for me. For instance, Fay's entire scene with the senior citizen's production of West Side Story didn't raise anything more than a smirk from me.



    However Fay's scenes didn't bother me nearly as much as the plot exposition that was used to find Joe and Brian's mother. Brian happens to be watching a golf tournament on TV where former President Gerald Ford is playing in. The ball swung into the crowd happens to hit a spectator in the face. Brian sees this, and the spectator just happens to be his mom. I'm sorry, but this idea was incredibly farfetched, even for a show like Wings. We went from thinking it was a set-up to a joke, to having to feel surprised that his long lost mother was in the crowd. At this point, I was really beginning to doubt how good this episode would be. However, once the mother arrives, the show takes off.



    As mentioned, Tim Daly stole the show with his dramatic performance. It also revealed quite a bit about his character and why he is such a stark comparison to his more laid-back free spirited brother Brian...



    "I was 12 years old, you left me with a sink full of dirty dishes and two kids to take care of, Brian and dad. I have taken crap my whole life for being too serious, for being a worrier. Well why do you think that is? Why?... Sorry does not cut it! Sorry does not give me back my childhood!"



    Barbara Babcock, as the mom, did a reasonably good job here. She wasn't too over sympathetic and set the right tone by admitting her mistakes and coming out with the truth. It could have been easy to make this episode contrived where things were left unsaid. The interactions between Joe and his mother were handled well. They were able to air everything out in the open and not sugarcoat the important points of their discussions which was a major plus.



    So aside from some minor irritations in the beginning, the episode stands on its own as a great drama.



    Plot: 7, The show opens with some poor comedic scenes which fall relatively flat. The plot exposition borderlines implausable, however picks up to a 10 as soon as the mother arrives.



    Characters: 10, Joe steals the show in the dramatic scenes, Brian and Helen do a reasonable job with what they're given. The mother gives a reasonably good performance as well.



    Overall: 8.5moreless
Steven Weber

Steven Weber

Brian Hacket

Timothy Daly

Timothy Daly

Joe Hackett

Crystal Bernard

Crystal Bernard

Helen Chappel Hackett

Thomas Haden Church

Thomas Haden Church

Lowell Mather (Seasons 1-6)

David Schramm

David Schramm

Roy Biggins

Rebecca Schull

Rebecca Schull

Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Commentary/Observation: This is the one and only time we see Joe and Brian's mother. Why in the world after making up with her sons would she not come back for at least one more visit? I mean we got way to many visits from the unfunny wacko Sandy Cooper, are you telling me the writers couldn't come up with a reason to bring her back? Only on TV.

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