My So-Called Life
Strangers In The House

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Strangers In The House

Props to Wing Chun's recaps of MSCL past, and Sars' recaps of MSCL future.

Go. Now. Go.

One thing I always liked about the opening credits of this show is the way the actors names appear over shots that only contain actors who are not them. It suggests a tight and selfless ensemble. I also like the fact that the cast is listed alphabetically by last name, with the inexplicable exception of Tom Irwin, who plays Graham, and who is listed at the end of the opening credits for no apparent reason. Is his part smaller, larger, more or less important? He's not even the only "adult" character listed in the credits, so that can't be the reason. Meanwhile, as I ponder this, the show starts.

We begin at Chase Place Printing, where Patty is eating take-out Chinese and chatting up a client over the phone. Graham lurks testily in the background, clearly unhappy with being a part of the Chase Rat Race. Patty can't remember the color of something-or-other the client needs, and Graham remembers that it was saffron, tipped off by the rice Patty is eating. It does not escape my notice that, even at this stupid office job, Graham is preoccupied with food. Poor Graham. He needs to get a cooking show, and then instead of being Graham, he can turn it up a notch and be BAM! Anyway, Patty passes this info along to the customer, and tries to stoke their enthusiasm by dubbing saffron "one of the great colors." Okay. I always thought color preference was pretty subjective, but I guess Patty is the arbiter of qualitative color judgments.

Graham is off to a "meeting" with a "client" he's going to try to "land." The client's name is, ominously, Rosenfeld; no doubt a savvy businessman, being Jewish and all. Patty tells Graham he'll do fine and that "I hate it when you get negative like this before a meeting." Which is strange because all he said was, "Wish me luck, I'll need it," which is a little bit negative, but could just be nerves associated with trying to sell something to someone important. But I guess if Patty's reactions where based on listening to what Graham actually says, their marriage would be better off. Then Patty gets a call that stops her cold. We don't know what she's hearing, but it's bad news. Graham stops on his way out. She looks at him. Yup. Bad news.

As the Xylophone of Advancing Plot awakens, we cut to My So-Called High, where Angela and Brian and Sharon and the rest of their class are all taking a test. Random Asian Girl enters and hands a note to the teacher, who looks up, distressed. While Angela watches, the teacher walks over to Sharon and whispers to her. Angela cranes her neck to follow Sharon's subsequent exit, and spots Graham in the hall. She says, "What?" Teacher: "No talking! Eyes on your own paper!" Which is exactly the kind of broad, senseless, and small-minded quashing of any remotely out-of-the-ordinary impulse that goes on daily in American public schools. Any better in Canada, Wing?

Wisely, Angela ignores her teacher's insistence that she stay put and follows Sharon out into the hall, where Graham finally drops the bombshell: "Sharon's dad had a heart attack." In a rapidly whispered exchange, Graham secures Angela's promise that she'll go straight to Sharon's house after school to meet Patty, who will be there collecting items to take to the hospital. Angela says, "Yeah, sure," but is distracted by Sharon's evident distress, and I'm not sure exactly what Angela is thinking. (Nice, isn't it, to see a show where the characters can sometimes mystify you? It would suck if TV turned into a bunch of derivative crap in which everything is spelled out for you in falling anvils.) I'm just going to point out once how well acted, written, directed, paced, and scored this show is, because if I point it out every time there's a good example, this recap may never end. But that whole sequence was a good example, and there was almost no dialogue.

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My So-Called Life




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