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October 9, 2015

Sons & Daughters: Hospital Visit / Surprise Party

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 29th 2006 12:09AM
Fred Goss and Dee Wallace of Sons & DaughtersI was pretty down on Sons & Daughters last week, mainly because they aired two fairly laugh-free half-hours that were also short on the dramatic touches that have made this show one of the more unique programs on TV. But Fred Goss and company have come roaring back with two fine and funny episodes this week, each revolving around a singular event in the Walker extended family.

The "Hospital Visit" referenced by episode one's title occurs after some normal family strife and an argument with Cameron about her separation sends Colleen to the hospital with chest pains.  So all of a sudden, people that were being driven nuts by Colleen's passive aggression -- like Sharon, maybe? -- all of a sudden talk about what a saint she was. "I mean, when we came home from school, she'd have food for us to eat, and the power was always on..." Sharon says with a straight face. But the big event is that Colleen and Wendal, who can still bring in the buxom young bartenders, get back together after he rushes to her side.

In "Surprise Party", Cameron's about to turn 40, and the day before his birthday, he finds out he's getting fired (apparently he works at some faceless office as a human resources rep; that looks like the first and last time we'll see where Cameron works). Liz plans a surprise party for Cam, thinking he's going to work; he's so ashamed he got fired -- the scene where he starts dancing in anger on his boss' desk is funny as hell -- he hides his joblessness from her. In the process, he bonds a little with Henry, and finds out, after the beans are spilled, that he has a family that cares a lot about him and will be there no matter what.

What I liked about both episodes is that each balanced the comedic and dramatic aspects quite well, better than any episode had done to this point. It's as if Fred and Nick Holly finally got the hang of it and realized that having too much of either throws the show off (or it could be the expert direction by Anson Williams -- that's right, Potsie -- in episode 2). But I also think in these episodes we're seeing the side characters settle into comfortable roles. Sharon's the drama queen (and Alison Quinn is a riot in that role); Whitey and Wiley are the Goofus and Gallant in Jenna's universe (the similar spelling of their names can't be a coincidence... can it?); Carrie's the smart and responsible wise-ass (she feels horrible when, after being put in charge of the kids when Don and Sharon go to the hospital, Jenna's kid sticks a feather in his ear); and Don's on his own planet.

I've got to single out Don, because he's really becoming a favorite of mine. I just like how weird he's getting, and how he obviously lusts after Liz, but no one seems to care (except for maybe Liz, of course). In the first episode, he tells the kids that "Grandma fell down and she has a boo-boo; she hit her na-na" and that "She may be going to say hi to God very soon." Then in the second episode, he directs the kids in a play he wrote about himself that he adopts to Cameron's life. He takes it far, far too seriously, especially when Cam's 4-year-old doesn't get things right. The kids dump him -- Carrie was ruthless as the hatchet girl -- in favor of Jenna, who puts on a very sweet play that cheers Cam up at the end of the episode.

Oh, and we learn a little more about "Multiple" Liz, who likes giving deep-tissue massages and had some very interesting experiences in college. I don't know whether to feel bad for Cam or to cheer him on.

Anyway, eight down, three more episodes to go. S&D is getting crushed in the ratings, but that was because it was up against Idol the last couple of weeks. While it might not do much better this week -- House ain't exactly chicken feed -- I hope it does well enough that ABC sticks with it. Unfortunately, if you read Fred's blog, you'll see that he's not exactly confident. I really hope he's just being a worry-wart. This show deserves a chance.

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What a horrible statement about entertainment when ABC continues to stand behind Rodney and a fantastic show like Sons and Daughters (which is just about perfect television, in my opinion). I love his blog, and feel for him. This show would make an excellent cable partner for FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Imagine what a cable rating would be able to offer a show this great. I'm hoping for a stay of execution.

March 29 2006 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael G

I love this show.

I chose this one over "the unit" on my tivo.

Grandma fell down and she has a boo-boo; she hit her na-na" and that "She may be going to say hi to God very soon." Made me laugh out loud and almost wake up my kids.

March 29 2006 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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