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September 17, 2014

Swingtown: Surprise

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 30th 2008 11:26AM
Lana Swingtown Parilla (S01E12) "Do you think we closed Pandora's box?" -- Tom to Trina, after Janet's birthday party

You knew this was going to be an episode fraught with revelations when the strains of Carly Simon singing "No Secrets" played over the opening scene. Perfect song to comment on the surprises to come, as Swingtown climbs toward the big season one climax next week.

The show is getting tantalizing terrific. It's not that I'm enamored with all the characters, but they've all become interesting to me. Even Ricky's struggle to come to terms with his best friend falling in love with the girl next door and leaving behind their buddy-buddy relationship, was surprisingly meaningful to me. The scene where Janet advised Ricky to show B.J. how important his friendship was to him was wonderful. His hugging Mom like that was so true; Janet is a tough mother, but she's the embodiment of love and support and Ricky needed his mommy in that moment.

Janet's maternal embrace was caught by Trina, and the development of all these ancillary friendships has been one of the best things about Swingtown. Trina's usually the one with the sage advice, the world-wise attitude about love and relationships, but not this time. Janet's concern and lack of judgment was what Trina needed, and prompted her to hug Janet like Ricky did.

If only a hug could help Susan. From where Bruce and Susan were at the start of the season -- moving into a new house, secure enough in their marriage to risk "swinging" -- to where they are now shows just how superficial that facade really was. The dissatisfaction they're feeling is mutual, but while Susan has resisted acting on her feelings for Roger, Bruce is letting his nether regions overrule his conscious. Is that a comment on how men are different from women? Bruce's calling Melinda, lying to Susan and leaving the party was like a knife in Susan's heart. When she saw the briefcase in the foyer, right after she'd just said goodbye to Roger, was a killer.

Roger is the antithesis of Bruce in many ways. He wants Susan and has let her know it, but the feelings are love and not sex. Bruce seems dazzled by Melinda because she can drink like a man, works in the stock market, and follows the Chicago Cubs. You mean that if Susan knew who Jose Cardenal was, he wouldn't have back to the city to see Melinda?

No character has evolved as much as Janet. She's on the brink of becoming Erma Bombeck, and working outside the house has given her a sense of fulfillment, even as it's taken her by surprise. The story is building to a real tough choice; Janet's job offer vs. Roger's job offer. Will her traditional views dictate that Roger's Cincinnati job trumps her gig as Aunt Trudy?

For one of the first times, Trina and Tom's happy relationship revealed a chink in the armor. They're both living comfortably within their open marriage, and I like the way they can cut through the crap with other people. But Trina's condition (you know what it is if you watched) could be a big hiccup. Ironically, Trina blurts out her news to Janet of all people. Later, she holds back telling Tom. Why?

Next week is the last of the first order from CBS. Still no word from the network about picking up the show for a second season installment, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I want to see how all these characters develop. I want to see Winnetka in the winter time.

Other points of interest

-- The kids playing with the portable CB radios -- the 1976 answer to cell phones -- was too much a plot device, a way for B.J. and Sam to talk about their feelings once it was revealed that she's leaving.

-- Laurie's confidence in her love for Doug the product of youth. Doug let's his actions speak louder than words when he turns down job to be close to Laurie, but this romance is bound to crash and burn. Love the line, "All I have is Yoo-hoo," which sounds like "I love you."

-- In the newspaper office, do you think Henry is in the closet? His encouraging Janet, who's become a Queen Bee at the office, is great because on first blush, I thought he was going to be a catty impediment to her.

-- Really funny: The Milk Carton Theory, most girls with Doug don't last longer than it takes for a carton of milk to expire.

-- Is it likely that after nearly 20 years of marriage, Susan doesn't know that Bruce is a Cubs fan? They've never been to Wrigley? Come on, I knew my husband was a Yankees fan on our first date.

-- I'm disappointed that Melinda would go after Bruce. She's met Susan; that makes a difference. Her attitude contrasted to Susan's. Susan's friendship with Janet is keeping her from saying yes to Roger. However, her goodbye to Roger may not be final.

-- You have to appreciate how much these characters use the pool. Seriously, I don't think there was this much swimming on Melrose Place.

-- On the other hand, do we have to have a party in every episode?

-- Shades of Mad Men, Ricky saw the booze at the party and decided to imbibe...right after B.J. accused him of knowing nothing about girls.

-- Roger looked emasculated as Janet took charge of Ricky after the drinking incident.
How will Tom react to Trina's news?
He'll be overjoyed123 (58.0%)
He's not ready36 (17.0%)
He'll suggest options31 (14.6%)
Trina won't tell him22 (10.4%)

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Darlene K

Don't expect CBS to keep any new show on that the public likes!

September 27 2008 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allison

Caught up on the eps I missed on vacation. I think the story is moving along quite nicely. They seem to get the thing called "pace" that many shows struggle with. The characters are interesting especially Janet and Trina. I would love to see the show continue.

September 05 2008 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xerxes

I'm being realistic in that everyone at CBS and the creators said it was a summer show, and then we'll see what happens. They've been saying that since the Pilot. CBS boss, Nina Tassler, has even come out and said the network doesn't take summer ratings very seriously. I think we are in the 'see what happens' phase and there is a lot of talk and negotiation going on right now. I can't believe all the parties aren't sitting down, looking at the episodes, and saying, wow, that was something - what's next? Personally, I think there'll be a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. Plan A will be a return to the network with heavy promotion and tagged to a show that has a similar viewing demographic as a mid-season replacment, Plan B is a renewal for next summer with shows shot in the fall so the kids don't grow up too much and the actors can do something else to pay the bills after that, and Plan C, a move to cable, which will mean some deep soul searching particularly by the actors who might see it as a demotion to the minors. Hope they don't.

September 01 2008 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Adams

In spite of low ratings, CBS likes the show and is shopping it to cable nets, including their own (like SHOWTIME), so there is some hope, albeit small, for a pick-up.

August 31 2008 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carissa

First, my program gets delayed by the Denver Broncos (gag) and then at 11:25 on a Saturday night no one gives enough of a damn to check the sound. The entire program was run with ambient sound only, and I had to watch online. Which means I now have one episode missing on my DVR. DAMMIT!

Such a great character study, this show. The numerous times people told Trina she was lucky she was so shallow really played well. No one thinks of themselves like people see them.

I'm so glad Susan didn't change her mind about Roger after knowing Bruce was going to see Melinda. It made her a stronger character.

It seems if there were a season two, it would be Janet on her own with Ricky and Roger .... not sure. But I don't think after her comments as dear abbey she would be willing to turn the other cheek.

As usual, I'm disappointed that another CBS show had such promise and is going by the wayside. People aren't even watching knowing that it will be canceled. Are networks really stupid enough to not know that when the writing is on the wall people cut their losses rather than live through the heartache?????

August 31 2008 at 3:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

A really great episode, with strong performances from everyone. I'm not holding out much hope for a renewal, and I'll be sad to be in the right.

I don't think the CB radio thing was too obvious a plot device. I'm old enough (I turned 18 in late 1976) to remember how freakin' HUGE the CB craze was. There were songs and TV shows and movies made celebrating it. I had a bunch of friends who went out and got CBs. I thought it was a great way to use something that was insanely popular and central to the time period to advance the plot.

August 30 2008 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

GOD I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 30 2008 at 2:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

I doubt from a plot standpoint that Roger, Janet and Ricky will move, but Cincinnati would be Janet's kind of town. In the show's timeline, she'd be arriving with just enough time to get her bearings and participate in the protests against Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine during the obscenity trial... unless her buddy Harry Reems has evolved her views about porn.

August 30 2008 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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