Written by: Debbie Sarjeant
Directed by: Ronald L. Schwary
Episode Number: 114
Original Broadcast Date: February 11, 2000
Guest Stars: Jamey Sheridan (Ben), Faith Prince (Janet), Adam LeFevre (Bank Manager), Cynthia Roman (Flowershop Girl)
Recently, I've been complaining about two small problems I've had with recent episodes: too much fluff, and no Lisa/Michael interaction. I should have kept my mouth shut, because "Film at Eleven" catered to both my whims in an utterly painful way.
Don't mistake this for a bad review. It made me mad, but it was an excellent episode, with several unexpected twists. The opening scenes in no way prepared me for the darker tone of this episode. Lisa's dinner with Ben was nice, and seeing her storm out of there and tell him where to stick it had me applauding. I love it when she shows some backbone. But why did Ben have to be a bit of a creep too? True, he's a more interesting suitor than Misenbach, but every non-Michael Lisa dates can't be an ass.
Michael and Theo's banter on the park bench was funny as anything, and an enjoyably light scene, although I had one or two problems with the episode. First, and least significant: I didn't like Michael's jacket. Yes, that sounds silly, but a girl in my dorm has a jacket that looks way too much like the one he was wearing. More importantly, Theo's thoughtlessness in just leaving Michael there irritated me to no end. He should have known better than to leave Michael to his own devices, and why couldn't he have called in some of his "team" to keep an eye on the guy? Or had him wait in the car? His own partial complicity in the fiasco made his anger at Michael seem a little too harsh later on.
That aside, when he cried, "What were you thinking?" for once, I was wondering that right along with him. Just when we thought Michael was starting to play it smart in "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," his actions here were really stupid and showed almost no foresight. Didn't it occur to him that Lisa might be disturbed by the roses, or that she might try to track the buyer down? Worse, using his own name to get money out of the bank was completely idiotic. He might as well have performed in the park again.
My complaints about fluff have stemmed from the fact that the show has seemed almost lenient recently. The danger inherent in its premise seemed to have been thrown out the window, but that was not so here. Nope, once the government threatens his funding, the Doc is willing and ready to go back to being a hard-ass. The script pulled absolutely no punches; Theo was enraged, and didn't bother to hide it. For the first time in a while, the threat over Michael's head suddenly seemed real once again.
Roger's brief appearance did seem slightly thrown in there, but unlike his part in "Fire and Ice," it fit with the plot. Realistically, it is kind of coincidental that Roger would be the one handling the insurance investigation. But plot-wise, it was a nice little addition, and his scene contributed to the plot for once.
Meanwhile, Lisa's trials were quite interesting; as I said, it's nice to see the character throwing around her own weight for a change. The conversation between Lisa, Janet, and Carla was fairly cute, and the mention of the guilty puppy had me rolling - partially because of a private joke, but it was still funny. I'm still unsure what to make of Ben; while he's more intriguing than Misenbach, I'd like to know what his deal is. The fact that he appealed to Lisa by admiring her strength did bump up my estimation of the guy. I loved the befuddled look she gave him then. Yes, Lisa, he said "strength." You can kick some ass when you put your mind to.
The whole mystery of who sent the flowers was handled just fine, I suppose; the confusion with Redford and Newman was a smile. But the payoff came in that last confrontation between Lisa and Michael, an encounter that I didn't expect at all. Not only that, it ended with a wrenching twist: he was agonizing over having to tell her he never wanted to see him again, but it was Lisa who was telling him off and wanting him out of her life.
The performances in this episode, especially in the confrontation scene, were excellent. Dennis Haysbert let the Doc's rage out convincingly, making me actually believe his threats. Margaret Colin finally got to show some spunk. And Eric Close - while the playing dumb routine in the early scenes is getting old, the mixture of pain and shock in his eyes after the confrontation was achingly sad, contained anguish much like his contained anger back in "The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice."
I don't know how Lisa can ever forgive Michael for this one. The relationship - such as it is - has been full of ups and downs, but how there can be an up after this is beyond me. This is one of those episodes that, if continuity prevails, could have some far-reaching repercussions in the future. It was a real slap in the face for us and for Michael; he went too far in breaking the rules, and he paid for it in spades.
Watching that final scene in the townhouse, I really wanted to slap Theo in the face. Given his partial complicity for the whole disaster, I think he could have had the decency to conceal his glee at this turn of events. Yes, this was a good episode. But it really made me mad.
It just goes to show - be careful what you wish for, huh?
- It's been over a year since Michael's death, if the chronology's right... how could he still have an untouched account?
- For that matter, how did he manage to get into it with only his signature? I mean, his handwriting's got to have changed a bit since his hand's a lot smaller now.
- Even if the signature matched, I suppose the teller gave in because he was cute. If it were only forty dollars, I might have done the same.
- Michael always got Lisa white roses when he was alive.
- Redford and Newman. I don't know what's funnier, that the flower shop clerk was too out of it to tell the difference or that Lisa took so long to pick up on it.
- Faulty vault engineering. Faulty vault engineering? Wow, could they have concocted a flimsier excuse?
- Lisa still hasn't taken off her wedding ring in all this time.
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