Episode Title: Lawfully Wedded
Season 09, Episode 19
Episode 209 of 344
Written by Bernard Lechowick
Directed by Lawrence Kasha
Original Airdate: Thursday, February 18th, 1988
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Pat returns from testifying. Frank is upset because if Pat hadn't agreed to testify, they wouldn't be in the Witness Protection Program. The MacKenzies wonder if Greg is ever going to pick up Meg. Val tells Gary he won't get custody of the twins. Abby tells Charles that Lotus Point can't afford to expand the marina. Charles says it will be her wedding gift, and gives her a check for $2 million. Abby and Charles get married in Lake Tahoe. The next day, Abby has her attorney annul the marriage, and tells Charles she knows he only wanted Lotus Point. He admits he did, but then fell in love with her. Charles wants his money back, but Abby has already cleared the check. His investors tell him to just let her have it to avoid publicity. Charles goes back East. Abby is really upset, and Olivia gives Abby her wedding gift - a star she had named after them.
Welcome to Lawfully Wedded and I’m very excited to announce that, yes, this is the very last time we have to suffer through any footage featuring Abs and Basil Exposition. If IMDb is to be trusted (and I think they are accurate in this case), this is the last time Michael York will be infecting KL with his snooty “I’m better than this show” attitude and now he can return to work he deems more artistic, like Austin Powers movies and Shakespeare productions (as if Shakespeare ever came anywhere close to creating something of the quality of KL). Anyway, since this is the last time we have to deal with this boring storyline, I’d like to get started talking about it right away and then we will move on to more interesting stuff.
Okay, so when we last left off, Abs and Basil were making plans to get married even as Abs had discovered that Basil made his plans to, like, expand her marina at Lotus Point, like, way before they had reconnected or, you know, whatever. As we get started with this ep, Abs is talking to her, like, attorney guy, about whether she should marry Basil or not. I mostly mention this attorney guy because he looked insanely familiar to me and also because I found him very amusing based on appearance alone. I just did my research and this actor’s name is Jordan Charney and, yup, as soon as I looked him up I knew why he was looking so familiar to me, and that would be because he’s in Ghostbusters as Dean Yeager, the guy who fires the ghostbusters at the very start of the movie (“But the kids love us”). In addition to that, he is also a Transmorpher who appeared in three very early Dallas eps (so early that KL still didn’t exist when these eps aired). He was in The Red File: Part One and The Red File: Part Two as Lieutenant Sutton and then I guess he somehow morphed into a different person because his final appearance is Whatever Happened to Baby John: Part Two as Detective Rollins. So anyway, that’s why I recognized him, but why did he amuse me so much in this ep? I’d say it’s just because he has this constant face that makes it look like he’s severely constipated and, well, it just tickled my funny bone. In addition, he has lots of funny little lines like when Basil tells him to go to Hell and to take Abs with him and Dean Yeager responds with, “I understand; you wish for me to go to Hell and take my client with me,” or something brilliant like that. This is the only ep this guy is ever going to appear in, but I kinda fell in love with his character over the course of this 48 minutes.
Anyway, around the twenty minute mark of this ep, we cut to stock footage of the Sahara at Lake Tahoe, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore (a Wiki search tells me it morphed into the Horizon Casino Resort at some point between 1988 and today) and then we cut inside to see Abs and Basil tying the knot. This is all taking place after Abs has cleverly tricked him into agreeing to give her two million dollars as a wedding gift and to even handle the tax on the two million dollars. Abs has a wicked plan up her sleeve and usually I would care enough to describe it in better detail, but not in this case. Really, I just want this storyline to be over and I’m grateful that this ep is answering my request. Okay, so basically the two get married and then Basil gives Abs the two million dollar check and she puts it in the bank right and quick and then immediately gets the marriage annulled. I’m a little confused by the whole business of divorces versus annulments, but I guess an annulment means that the marriage never happened, that you are erasing the entire thing from existence, whereas a divorce is saying that you were married but now you are not married anymore. I kinda freaked out for a moment because I wondered if I was incorrect so long ago when we were getting ready to introduce Abs to the series and I referred to her as “Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner.” Should I have actually written, “Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Exposition Sumner?” I believe the answer is no because this ceremony is a total write-off after Abs gets it annulled, so the ceremony officially never happened and we never have to think or talk about it again. Now Basil is leaving and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Before we leave this unpleasantness behind us forever, I would like to remind everyone that I actually think Michael York is a good actor and I have enjoyed him in a myriad or roles, but this is simply not one of them. I can smell his snootiness radiating off the screen and I can tell that it just hurts him to have to be on this set and that he thinks this is totally beneath him. If you feel that way, don’t sign the contract to be on the show. This show is brilliant and it’s probably the best thing your name will ever be attached to, so you should play the part with pride and be glad you’re part of television history.
After Basil is out of the picture, Olivia arrives home excitedly and busts out her newest gift to her mother. She tells Abs that she called up the, like, solar system people that are always looking at the stars through their big telescopes and she bought a star and had it named after Abs and Basil. So now, up there in the millions and millions of stars sparking in the sky, there is a star named after this power couple, even as the power couple is splitting. When Abs tells Olivia that she and Basil aren’t getting married because he’s boring and his storyline was boring, Olivia kinda freaks out and I’m a little confused about why. Did Olivia really have deep feelings about Basil and want to have him as her new father figure? Is she just frustrated that her mom can’t keep a man? Is she pissed cuz she just went and bought them a star and now they’re splitting up? I dunno, but usually I’m in Olivia’s corner and can understand her feelings, but I’m not with her here. Who gives a crap if Basil leaves town and never comes back? That’s what we all want to happen, so why the hissy fit from Olivia? In any case, let’s move on from this dull-as-dishwater storyline and hope the-powers-that-be can cook up something decent for Abs to do for her next one year and some months on the series.
Oh yeah, and here’s a total nerd moment from Brett that probably nobody else will notice or care about, but here it comes. At the fourteen minute mark of this ep, Abs is talking on the phone to somebody and then she hangs the phone up, folds her two hands under her chin, and gazes off, looking like she’s cooking something up. I mention this because it will be her credit shot throughout all of season ten, when the opening ditches the silly arty black-and-white poses of the cast and instead replaces them with ep footage. So yeah, this is Abby’s credit for next season, and it’s a good choice because she looks so stunningly beautiful and her eyes tell us that she’s got some wicked plan up her sleeve.
I forgot to mention it last ep, but we actually met a character who’s gonna be fairly important, Harold Dyer, played by Paul Carafotes. Yeah, he first popped up in our last ep and he’s going to stick around until Home Sweet Home in 1990 and appear in 40 eps. This actually surprised me, because in my memories, this character stuck around until the final ep. Am I thinking of some other guy? Isn’t this character going to get involved with Paige at some point? Am I thinking of somebody else? Anyway, Harold is here now and we first saw him in a meeting with, I think, Leland Palmer. In this ep, we see him in a scene along with some forgettable white guy and Basil and then he leaves the room and makes a phone call and we cut over to Leland Palmer receiving the call. He picks up the phone and Harold just says, “We’re in business,” and then Leland Palmer hangs up the phone without saying goodbye. Okay, so I guess Harold is connected to Leland Palmer somehow and I guess we’ll find out more in the future.
Meanwhile, on the Gary/Val front, this whole custody battle court hearing Bob Loblaw is really heating up. What I find most significant in this ep is an early scene in bed between Gary and J.B. First, I’d like to note that it appears Stanley Kubrick directed this scene, because we have this totally arty and cool shot of a mirror and I love the way the mirror is used to show us what’s going on with the two characters. See, we start the scene in this tight closeup of Gary and J.B. in bed, all naked and rolling around with Gary about to attempt re-entry, but then the camera does this slow zoom-out and we realize we’ve been looking in the mirror. I am an insane sucker for mirror shots and if you give me a mirror shot, I will generally become very excited and immediately proclaim whatever I am watching, no matter how badly made, to be this incredible landmark masterpiece of artistic expression. However, in addition to the brilliant mirror shot, this scene provides some important seed-planting for the future. Note the way that Gary just wants to have a nice shag, but J.B. keeps bringing up both of his ex-wives and asking weird, paranoid questions about them. She asks what Gary thinks of his second ex-wife getting remarried and Gary simply answers “I don’t,” and then she asks something or other about Val. This tells me that J.B. has a jealousy burning within her that ain’t going away anytime soon, that she’s very concerned about Gary’s feelings for his two ex-wives.
Our newest arrivals on to the cul-de-sac, the Williams family, also get a good chunk of attention this ep and I’d say this is probably my favorite material in the ep in question. We begin with a scene of Frank taking the garbage in, which everyone should know I love by this point. If you show me characters either taking their garbage out or taking it back in, I will love the scene. But I also love this scene because Frank is cool and sexy and assertive with Mack. See, late the night before, Karen was pulling her little Peeping Tom act and staring out the window as Pat left in a taxicab with some mysterious woman. In this early scene, Frank basically catches Mack lying because Mack says how he got up for a glass of milk or whatever. Frank is like, “You close your drapes at night?” and Mack says affirmative and then Frank asks, “The milk is in the kitchen?” Then he says how you can’t see the street from the kitchen, so he says, “You got your glass of milk and went out of your way to spy on your neighbors.” He says how he thinks it’s strange that Mack has to spy on him in the middle of the night and how they shouldn’t judge because Karen and Mack are both raising a child that isn’t even theirs. I appreciate Frank calling Mack out on this because, to be honest, at this point I’m a bit annoyed with both Karen and Mack. I get that they want their neighborhood to be a safe place (but if that’s the case, they should probably move based on all the shit that has happened in this cul-de-sac in the last nine years), but they are being way too nosy and it’s just making them hard to like. If I was Frank, I’d be pissed, too, and I like how he just comes out and says it.
A little later, we get a nice montage of paranoia with Frank hanging around the house, not going to work (he gets fired a little later in this ep, or maybe it’s in the next one, with the reason being that he is never showing up). At one point, he sees a shadow passing by the window outside, so he grabs a baseball bat and heads out to take care of this intruder. The intruder, however, just turns out to be a Transmorpher meter reader. This meter reader is played by Dinah Lenney, also known as Nurse Shirley from ER and pregnant lady from the first episode of The Bradys, and whom I talked about back in season seven’s Irrevocably Yours. In that ep, she played the woman who saw J.B. and Mack on the street and recognized J.B. as “Dotty Simpkins from Franklin High.” Well, now she has morphed into this meter reader, although I suppose you could justify it as the same character. She didn’t get a name back in that ep and she doesn’t get a name here, so perhaps J.B.’s old pal from high school also works as the local meter reader of Seaview Circle. Anyway, after Frank almost kills this woman with a baseball bat, he spots Mack off in his yard, having witnessed the whole strange exchange. In this instance, even though I’m on Team Frank, I do think he’s coming off looking pretty bad, throwing histrionic fits at meter readers and pooping his pants every time there’s a knock at the door.
Later, Pat returns home and we learn that she went off to testify against someone. Ah, so the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together. Now we know for sure that the Williams family are in the witness protection program and we know that Pat is testifying against someone, presumably someone very powerful or perhaps with ties to the mafia based on all the caution and paranoia. Anyway, later on in the middle of the night, Pat wakes up only to find Frank and their little witness protection lady getting everything packed up and preparing to blow town. At this point, Pat gives a tremendous speech about how she doesn’t want to spend her life running away, how she wants to settle down and give Julie a real place to live and grow up, how she wants Julie to be able to look at the sidewalk and say, “That’s my sidewalk.” It’s a nice, powerful speech, and it manages to sway Frank back into sticking to Seaview Circle, at least for awhile.
That ought to do it for Lawfully Wedded. This was probably my second favorite ep out of the whole five contained on this disk. I was very grateful to see the back end of Basil as he made his way out the exit doors and I really have no complaints about any of the other stories, with my favorite one being everything involving the Williams family. I also thought this one had some notable style like that sexy mirror shot and a pretty clever script by Lechowick that had some pretty sharp dialogue and retorts. Coming up, we get a script penned by William Devane himself, a very memorable ep called Bouncing Babies.