Episode Title: Money Talks
Season 05, Episode 09
Episode 084 of 344
Written by Peter Dunne
Directed by Nicholas Sgarro
Original Airdate: Thursday, November 24th, 1983
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack visits Tom Jessick, an attorney friend that he sent to jail and says he wants him on the crime commission. Greg is at the MacKenzie's home when his daughter Mary Frances comes by, angry that he forgot to pick her up. Karen invites Mary Frances to stay with them. Police patrol the ranch for Chip. Cathy tells Gary that she thought he might be someone her ex-husband Ray sent to find her. Gary invites Cathy to live and work at the ranch. Abby finds out she'll need a coastal variance to develop Lotus Point and asks Greg for help. They sleep together and he says that a member of the coastal commission will meet with her. Laura tells Abby she knows about H & O, but won't tell Gary for a piece of the action. Val makes a romantic meal for Ben. She gets mad and leaves when he assumes she will sleep with him. Later, she goes back and she and Ben make love.
After the bad sound of our last episode, it was very refreshing to jump into Money Talks and see an immediate improvement in the aural quality. I could hear the dialogue in this one, folks, and it didn’t have that tin-can sound or that annoying hissing in the background. It’s easy to forget to be grateful for things we take for granted like good quality picture and sound on our television shows, so in a way it helps to sit through one episode that sounds like shit so that, when you hit the next one and the sound has improved, you realize how lucky you are.
We open Money Talks on cops combing Westfork (no, not with big giant combs like in Spaceballs) for any sign of Chip. The cops should have taken a peek at the guest cast roster for the week, because then they might have noticed that Michael Sabatino’s name is missing. I might be mistaken here, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time he has sat out an episode since he first entered the cul-de-sac back in early season four with Svengali. In any case, the cops are looking for him but they’re having no luck finding him.
Meanwhile, we begin a plot that I either didn’t remember or kinda remembered but somehow got confused by along the way. It’s probably the latter, since as I’ve mentioned before, certain plots sometimes just wind up going right over my head. In any case, I’ll try to follow along with this one and really pay strict attention, and I’m sure My Beloved Grammy can help me because she’s really smart and follows plot better than I do. See, we’ve got a sorta Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter situation going on between Mack and some prisoner dude this week. Mack visits the prison to meet up with a convict named, um, something, and he’s played by, um, some guy. Okay, the reason I sound so stupid right now is because IMDb is WRONG, ladies and gentlemen. I know this is the ep where Mack meets this dude in the prison, cuz it’s in my notes and it’s in the plot description (and at least the plot description helps me out by naming this character as Tom Jessick), but this character and actor are not listed on the IMDb page for Money Talks at all. What’s that about? Anyway, I guess Jessick and Mack were friends and he was, like, this brilliant attorney or something, but now he’s in prison for tax evasion. Now Mack needs him for help to work on his crime commission doing, um, something. I can immediately remember this whole plot arc this season involving something called Wolfbridge just going straight over my head, and clearly we can the same thing threatening to happen again now, but I’ll try really hard to focus, I really will! Okay, so that about does it for Mack and Jessick this week, although we do get a quick scene in Sumner’s campaign headquarters in which he’s yelling at Mack and saying, “I can’t believe you appointed a convict!” So we know Greg doesn’t like the idea much. Okay, moving on.
Branching off from the subject of Greg Sumner and his campaign, this is a notable episode because it’s the first time Abs and he finally get to know each other in the Biblical sense. We’ve had a bit of flirtation throughout the last few eps, starting with her kissing him and his “My regards to your fiancé,” exit. Next up, the two were about to go in for a kiss when Laura walked in with that, “I know what’s going on,” look subtly planted on her face. Finally, this week, it happens. Like so many men before him, Sumner falls under Abby’s intoxicating sexual spell. They’re at her office/apartment, they’re all alone, the kissing starts, and then Abs goes up a couple of steps leading to the apartment, turns around, and begins to open her shirt for him. At this point, My Beloved Grammy actually screamed out at the TV, “Oh my God; what a slut!” And I said, “Of course, she’s Abby; she’s the village bicycle!”
Actually, at this point I wanna take a moment to pose a theory: Is Abby, in fact, a nymphomaniac? Yes, she clearly uses sex as a power thing in order to get what she wants, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it; I think she legitimately needs it constantly, that she can’t live without it, that she’s insatiable. It’s almost like she has the libido of a man trapped in the absolutely stunning body of a woman. Ever since she first moved to the cul-de-sac and set her eyes on Gary while having that brief affair with Richard, we could all smell her pussy juices just leaking out and sending their pheromones all throughout California. Also, I think it’s very clear that she likes her sex to be naughty and dangerous; she enjoys the thrill of potentially being caught. Why not shag a married man in the middle of the day in a hot tub in his back yard? Or in this case, why not shag a big shot political candidate in the middle of the day in her sex office? In both cases, I think Abs just loves the thrill of it all.
By the way, while we’re on the subject of Abs and her hot body, have I mentioned the sauna? That’s right, our previous episode, A Change of Heart, actually unveiled the sauna at Westfork for the first time when we saw Gary relaxing in it, clad in only a towel and flexing his big muscles that he so clearly spent all summer working on. This week, we get a steamy little incest vibe going on between Diana and Abs as they both relax in the sauna, draped completely in towels (it would be hotter if they were totally naked, but this is still 1983 network TV) and speaking about, oh, whatever. I believe I previously stated that Westfork also has a steam room, but I’m starting to wonder if I hallucinated that in my memories; it might be equipped with just a sauna (I prefer a good steam room, myself). Anyway, there’s also a great big red phone on the wall of the sauna, which I thought was amazing. In all my life, I’ve never seen a phone in a sauna, and just when I was saying aloud, “Why the hell do they need a phone in the sauna?”, sure enough Abs picked it up and used it to give Sumner a call.
Sumner is pretty busy this week not just with shagging Abby and running his campaign, but also the unexpected arrival of his annoying daughter, Mary-Frances. At least, I think she’s annoying. I remember having no patience for this character in my prior watching of the series, but My Beloved Grammy and I saw two eps with her in them upon on our last visit, and she actually wasn’t so bad, so maybe my feelings have changed? See, Greg is hanging out at, I believe, Karen and Mack’s place when in walks this angry fourteen year old girl (pictured below), all ready to go with a speech she clearly had prepared well in advance. I guess she came to town to visit and Sumner left her at the bus station or something, basically forgot to pick her up. So she gives this big angry speech and then Sumner is like, “What can I say? I forgot.” Then the two hug and a brief moment of peace is attained.
Let’s take a moment to discuss who is playing Mary-Frances. She is played by actress Danielle Brisebois, who is technically Mary-Frances #1. This character will make a strange and, um, rather brief return in, I think, season eleven, and in that instance she is played by Children of the Corn V’s Stacy Galina. We’ll discuss that when we discuss it in some 200 episodes or so, but right now Mary-Frances is being played by Danielle Brisebois, who will play her for just seven episodes throughout season five, culminating in Forsaking All Others. This chick arrived with some pretty solid acting credits to her resume, though, as she had previous appeared in both All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I also got pretty heavy into All in the Family during my college years and would call it one of my favorite shows of the ‘70s and one of the only legitimately artistic and good sitcoms ever made (alongside Roseanne and Seinfeld), but I actually never made it to her era of the show. She was only a character in the final season and I only watched seasons one through six (the Meathead and Gloria years). I’m not avoiding the later years or anything; I just sorta never got around to them. I didn’t even know until looking at her IMDb that she managed to join Archie when he spun off into Archie Bunker’s Place. That show ran from 1979 to 1983, so it would have just recently ended, meaning she now had some time on her hands for guest spots on KL.
Okay, so like I said, I remember having a distaste for this character upon first viewing, but now I’m not entirely sure why. I think it was mostly because she only showed up for a handful of eps, stirred up some plot drama, and then was shipped away inauspiciously. However, maybe I was too hard on her the first time. This time, I’m already seeing how this character helps us to further understand Sumner, who, despite being on the show for ten years and becoming one of the most important characters in the series, is still the new kid on the block during season five. We really hardly know the guy yet. What’s he about? Is he good or evil? Can he be trusted? What kind of life does he lead? The entrance of his daughter here, not to mention the demonstration of their tumultuous but still loving relationship, helps us to further understand Sumner, and I can definitely get behind that.
My sudden and unexpected fondness for Eric continues to grow this week (much the way a certain other something grows every time brother Michael is onscreen before me) as we see him develop an immediate crush on Mary-Frances (by the way, for the sake of my fingers hurting, I’m gonna just shorten her name to “M.F.” from now on, if that’s alright with you). As soon as he enters the room and spots her, you can hear the “boing” sound coming right out of the television, and then the next time we see him (after M.F. has been invited to stay at the house and everyone is enjoying some breakfast in the kitchen together), he’s got his hair slicked back and is clearly making an effort to look more handsome. This is all very cute and prompted me to ask My Beloved Grammy if she recalls whether Eric has lost his virginity yet or not. She said she thinks he hasn’t, and I believe I agree. We saw him get a crush on Ginger (for some reason) back in, I think, um…was it Civil Wives? That was way back in season one, and then in season two we had the undisputed masterpiece of television Man of the Hour, in which he was hoping to screw Ginger’s sister and she wound up almost dying in the ocean, instead. Since then, he’s kinda taken a backseat to other characters for awhile, and perhaps he got laid offscreen when we were following other characters around, but I’m gonna just go ahead and assume, based on his behavior here, that he is still a virgin.
Oh yeah, one last thing: Glorious twinky boy Michael enters the kitchen wearing a fantastic red Hugh Hefner robe and rocking that gold necklace he always seems to be wearing, and all he has to say when he sees M.F. is “Who are you?” A glorious bit of tension relieving comedy to the scene, although it did make my ask My Beloved Grammy, “Why would any girl even look at Eric when Michael is in the same house?!” My Beloved Grammy pointed out that Eric is older, so he probably looks more mature and adult-like to M.F., although she was maybe also saying that as a subtle way of telling me, “Please stop talking about how much you want to have sex with this perfect twink boy, Brett.”
As for two of our other characters, we have Val and Ben and a little, “Will they or won’t they?” thing going on this week. This is all perfectly lovely, though probably my least favorite part of the ep. Ben is a colossal and mammoth step up from Boring White Guy Block of Wood Jeff Munson from last season, so Val should be proud of that, and he’s also improving as a character in my eyes, but he’s still, you know, a little boring. I’m happy to see Val happy with this guy, and I’m still invested in their relationship, but when they’re onscreen, my attention isn’t quite as invested as it is when the other characters are onscreen. In this case, the two are enjoying a nice fancy dinner together, they eat the dinner, Ben inquires about whether the two of them will shag tonight (except he says “make love” like some sort of disgusting pervert), Val doesn’t wanna, she gets mad and leaves, then later she comes back and they do. Yeah, pretty basic stuff. I’m not entirely sure why Val doesn’t just let him screw her right away, when he brings it up, but I guess it’s because her heart truly belongs to her soul mate, Gary, and she and Gary just enjoyed a roll in the sack not too far back (…And Never Brought to Mind) so maybe she’s still feeling kinda mixed up about that. In any case, Ben and Val have sex this week, which is cool.
Best story of the week? Obviously Cathy and Gary. Apparently Cathy was very charmed by Gary’s stalkerish behavior last week, because she comes rolling up to Westfork early in this ep in her shitty red Volkswagen and says she’ll take on his offer to work on the ranch for awhile. Next time we see them, they are pumping their big muscles in Gary’s utterly amazing at-home gym. While they’re in the middle of a bit of bench pressing (and Gary is being a good little spotter by encouraging Cathy that she can, indeed, handle two more reps), in walks Abs to tell Gary something. As soon as she spots Cathy at the bench press, her eyes get wide and she gets this wonderful look on her face as she glares at Gary, like, “What the hell is going on here?” This is a twofold display of fabulous acting, and let me explain why, with the little caveat that I’m gonna provide a minor spoiler for upcoming events. A few eps down the line (I’m not entirely sure when, cuz My Beloved Grammy and I haven’t gotten to this ep yet), we learn that Abs actually hired Cathy to distract Gary while she does her evil doings down at the office. So in the case of this scene, Donna has to portray Abs as basically pretending to look surprised when she sees Cathy and Gary together. The character of Abs is not actually surprised, because she’s the one who found Cathy and hired her, but she has to do some play acting and make it appear to Gary as if she is surprised and horrified to find him having a Flashdance-style workout with this complete Ciji-lookalike. Ever the pro, she pulls the whole thing off splendidly.
I’m so happy that Lisa Hartman is back on the show. In my brain, seasons four through seven all just blend together as “the Lisa Hartman years,” so I kinda forget about that chunk of eps in which Ciji is dead and Cathy has not come into the story yet. That batch of eps really helped to demonstrate what a warm and endearing presence Lisa brings to the proceedings. Why didn’t her career pan out a little better? Not only is she a fabulous singer, but the camera just loves her and she’s so beautiful to look at, plus she seems very natural and realistic in her acting, whether as Ciji or as Cathy. Overall, I just feel warm and fuzzy having her back, and I’m so glad we won’t have to say goodbye to her until we finish up season seven.
So that was Money Talks. It felt like a bit more of a mellow episode with a little less EXCITEMENT than our last batch of eps, but I still enjoyed it tremendously and found a lot of interesting character stuff worth talking about. Coming up next, we have the RETURN of John Pleshette, though not as an actor this time, but rather as the man behind the camera as he directs next week’s show, Homecoming.