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August 31, 2015

Swingtown: Running on Empty

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 9th 2008 1:10AM
couch potatoes swingtown(S01E10) "All right, let's go fix this family."

Oh, if only it were as simple as a family vacation to repair the damage to the Millers. It's clear by now that something's missing between Bruce and Susan because she can't stop thinking of Roger.

And Laurie is going through teenage rebellion -- I recognize the symptoms -- and Bruce's answer is to threaten her boyfriend and rip the phone cord out of the wall. Of all the characters, Bruce needs the most work for the writers. He's way too predictable.

While the Millers are struggling, so too are the Thompsons. Janet made an appointment with a psychiatrist -- for Roger. The truth is that they both need counseling, as the therapist realized when she spoke with them. Janet is so much a woman of that time, unsure about getting a job because it may emasculate Roger and struggling with the attention she's received -- and enjoyed -- from Tom.

Trina is such a great character. Every episode reveals a little more about her and there's real depth there. At the awful dinner with Janet and Roger, her analysis of Roger was sensitive and insightful. This was perhaps the best scene all season. Kudos to both Lana Parrilla and Josh Hopkins. The other half of this scene, Tom and Janet in the kitchen, matched it in some ways. The look on Tom's face was priceless when Janet told him he couldn't have her!

Roger and Susan are building to something. He kept the shrink's phone number because he's going to go back and try to work out his feelings for Susan, or he's going to go after Susan. One or the other.

The summer is coming to an end, as are the episodes of Swingtown. I would love to see CBS show some faith in this show and give it a chance to develop the characters. The more I get to know Bruce and Susan and Roger and Janet and Tom and Trina, the more I like them.

Other points of interest

-- The lady who picked up Laurie when she was hitchhiking, Norma (played by Pat Crawford Brown from Desperate Housewives) had a great line: "Men are like lightbulbs. You keep screwing till one of them works."

-- Bruce about Laurie: "If she's not back in ten minutes, she's grounded for life." That's a great title for a TV show.

-- With Ricky and B.J. at odds because of Sam, B.J. should have told his parents to leave his friend at home. I would have. The kids' story is the weakest element of the show.

-- Did you notice that Doug and Bruce look alike? I'm sure that was exactly what the producers intended. Laurie is subconsciously attracted to a guy who looks like her father. They even had both men drive convertibles. The difference being Doug's driving a VW Beetle, while Bruce is driving a Cadillac.

-- Tom and Trina playing sex games including costumes and toys. Why don't they ever give these two a non-sexual storyline? It always comes back to lovemaking. There's more to them than sex, which is why I was disappointed that they ended up calling up another couple to come over and swing after the boring dinner party with the Thompsons. Go to the movies! Play tennis! Please!

-- Romy Rosemont played the therapist, Dr. Gardner. She reminded me of Debra Winger, and that therapy session was great. I loved how she -- and isn't it interesting that Janet approved of a woman therapist? -- really sized up Roger and Janet in no time at all.

-- That self-help book -- Wake Up and Be You -- wasn't real. Note to writers: Be like Matt Weiner on Mad Men and find a real self-help book from the era, like Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer, a 1976 bestseller. That touch of reality would have made the scene.

Will Roger tell Susan that he's in love with her?
Yes91 (70.5%)
No8 (6.2%)
Perhaps, if the therapist encourages his feelings30 (23.3%)

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We love this show in my house. Here's another recap of the episode. I think we need to send some letters to CBS, complete with fake mustaches!


August 14 2008 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Um, I think you meant "Your Erogenous Zones" rather than "Your Erroneous Zones". Unless you're prone to errors in your reviews....

August 11 2008 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Odds are against it, but I would love to see CBS partner Showtime pick this up.

August 11 2008 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe this show is ending. I love it. I love it. I love it.

August 09 2008 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Your poll is kind of superfluous if anyone saw the preview for next week.

Yes, Laurie's rebellion is familiar, but I still don't buy that a girl of that time and that place would talk to her father quite the way she did (I say that as someone who turned 18 in 1976). That sort of utter disregard for the authority of a parent was at least 10 years away. And the actress who plays Laurie continues to detract from my viewing experience; she's so stilted in her line readings, and I dislike staring up into her nostrils each week.

I wasn't crazy about the BJ and Ricky story, either, but I did like the authenticity of how one big fistfight could clear the air for a couple of 13- or 14-year-old boys.

Terrific performances from ALL the adults this week, even though I think the producers are getting desperate and trying to put in more sex to guarantee renewal (French maids AND handcuffs/blindfolds AND foursomes? in one episode??), which I think is a mistake. What's made the show better than I expected is looking at how each of the characters represents a different way the change of the post-'60s affected a certain kind of person. If it had just been about sex, I wouldn't have watched it.

Poor Roger, though. You're right. Allison: the scene with Roger and Trina was wonderfully played and just heartbreaking. And the scene between Tom and Janet was wonderfully played and hilarious. A nice counterpoint, and great work from all involved.

I saw Jackson Browne live myself, in '74 or '75, in, like, a tiny local auditorium of some sort, so I could totally identify with Laurie wanting to go hear him, and listening to "Running on Empty" over all those images of unhappiness and dissatisfaction broke my heart a little.

August 09 2008 at 7:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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