Written by: Ted Humphrey
Directed by: Harry Winer
Episode Number: 108
Original Broadcast Date: November 19, 1999
Guest Stars: Brian Tarantina (Tommy Madden), Erik LaRay Harvey (Cyrus Jones), Mark Margolis (Nicky Vordogov), Ronald Guttman (Curator), Albert Makhtsier (Diplomat), Edward Furs (Interpreter)
The first time I saw this episode, I was stressed, tired, and in dire need of something to lift my spirits. So I watched "Pulp Turkey" in that state and absolutely died laughing. Since I was probably biased considering my state of mind, though, I decided to hold off and not review it right away.
Watching it again, I can clearly see some of the flaws and silliness: the stupidity of the jewel thieves (Tommy made an INCREDIBLE amount of noise going through the vent, and an ambulance should have gotten someone's attention in Lisa's neighborhood), the ridiculousness of the museum curator's behavior (insured or not, it's a HELL of a lot safer in the museum safe than it would be out in the open handcuffed to a bumbling insurance exec), and Nicky's rather overdone Russian accent (I kept hearing him as Ace Ventura's landlord).
But I still don't really care.
"Pulp Turkey," for me, illustrates a big reason for the divide between people who love this show and people who dislike this show - the ability to suspend disbelief. Let's face it, if I watched the show with a strictly pragmatic and realistic eye, I'd do nothing but nitpick at contrivances, coincidences and implausibilities. But as a result of some of the true delights of Now and Again the character development, the romance, humor, and sense of fun, I find myself brushing off those things in order to enjoy the show. I mean, the central premise - the fact that they picked Michael of all people to receive this engineered body - seems largely implausible, but the drama and humor it precipitated makes up for it in my mind.
Some people cannot suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy a show. Period. And those people would have hated "Pulp Turkey." The setup, while believable in the way it plays out, is still contrived, the villains aren't that bright, and Heather has a moment of mouthing off that's pushing the limits even for her. But the fun that resulted made me forgive some of these contrivances and be grateful for others.
Let's start with the big one: why Michael and Theo wound up at Lisa's in the first place. Now the writers had to resort to a long string of coincidences to get this to happen. Theo's car breaks down, he locks his keys and cellphone in the car, refuses to let Michael smash the glass because it's imported, won't dare leave the car, won't take it to a service station... and since they've just conveniently passed Michael's "ex-exit," the last thing left to do is push the car to the Wisemans' house - since the car was, for whatever reason, left in gear.
But it worked because the scene brought out so much more of the Doc's character. His obsessive love of his Jaguar, from the comment about "great engineering and beautiful design" to his simple gesturing for Michael to stop leaning on the car. And the fact that he considered the car "his second most precious possession" next to Michael was a strangely telling line. The final joke about "no nooky" was simply hysterical.
Notes of Interest:
- So Amanda Bender's going to school in England?? Three possibilities: one, Roger and Ruth have a lot of cash, two, she's studying abroad to avoid them, or three, she's going to be an offscreen character like Ruth. I hope it's not three, just to see what Roger and Ruth have spawned. :)
- The music playing when the armored car pulls up is "Miserlou." Ha.
- Timeline gripe: This appears to be the first Thanksgiving Lisa and Heather have had without Michael. But if it was seven months in between his death and the time he woke up - right before Easter, no less - the latest date his accident could have occurred was in October. Wha?
- Whee! Theo has a family, and a Grandma Pearl... and I'm guessing my prediction about no kids was right on the money. I don't think we'll ever see the sister, but Grandma Pearl would be interesting to meet the next federal holiday.
- Roger is a perfect example of people who cannot sing but feel the need to do so when they're alone in a room that echoes. Can we have Theo singing again instead?
- If the doc continues to stumble over calling Michael "Mr. Newman," someone's going to figure out something's up.
- It's just me, but assuming this show stays on long enough for at least one of Michael's family or friends to discover the truth, I'd love it to be Heather. I don't know why.
- Well, here's a first: Theo apologized. Wow.
- Apparently, deviating from his diet won't kill Michael or make him sick. It'll just get him in trouble with Theo.
- Theo had better spring for that lamp and door to be replaced; he managed to get Roger's Mercedes fixed, didn't he?
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