Tom Goes to the Mayor: Layover
(S02E12) This is an early review.
Bob Balaban plays Tom's father in this episode, and I must say he was the perfect choice. He and Tim Heidecker, who plays Tom, have the same kind of soft-spoken, halted delivery, and it seems perfectly natural they would be father and son, even if Walt doesn't seem to care much for Tom.
The episode opens at the airport with Tom waiting for his father's flight to arrive. We assume he's visiting his son, but actually it's just an eleven minute layover (which is, funny enough, also the length of the episode). Tom doesn't let his father's lack of time keep him from making a minute by minute itinerary, which includes a father/son embrace (tentative). Tom's father sells fish coolers called "Coldinizers" and he doesn't want to miss his flight, else he lose all his sales on the Eastern seaboard. Tom insists they have time to do everything on the list, however.
They take off in Tom's car, which only holds three gallons of gas at a time. In order to get anywhere, Tom has to keep jugs of gas in his backseat. They find the Mayor stranded on the road with a broken scooter, and like every episode he has to be re-introduced to Tom because he never remembers who he is. This, like everything else, fails to impress his father, especially since Tom had told him he and the Mayor were close friends.
The Mayor talks Tom into towing his Scooter to a body shop while Walt and himself grab a bite at Fishanelli's, a seafood restaurant where you pick your fish, pick your dip, and pick your waiter. Walt doesn't want any fish because he works around fish all the time, but the Mayor keeps trying to order fish for him anyway. Walt tries to sell him one of his coolers by showing him a pamphlet, but the Mayor thinks the picture is actually to scale and asks how he could possibly fit a fish in there, much less one wearing a top hat.
Tom picks them up at the restaurant, and they take off, unaware the Mayor has knocked the gas cans out to make room for his leftovers. Naturally, the car runs out of gas and Walt misses his flight. Oh yeah, and a truck hits them. Walt is livid and demands Tom get him on his flight, even though the plane is seen clearly in the sky above them. Somehow, they actually do end up on the plane.
I think Bob Balaban really made this episode. It was a pretty straightforward story, at least by Tom Goes to the Mayor standards, but having Balaban on really kicked things up a notch. The first scene with he and Tom in the car revealed a lot about their strained relationship with all the long pauses, uncomfortable grunts, and vacant stares. Balaban is always brilliant in Christopher Guest's ensemble films, and apparently he's not too shabby at working on a weird little cartoonish TV show, either.