Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween "Classic" Recap: 3rd Rock from the Sun: "Scaredy Dick"

“Mary? Seeing me naked and vulnerable, quivering with fear? Oh, I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.”

We’re going old school with our Halloween classic recap this year, traveling back to the late 90’s with an episode of “3rd Rock from the Sun.” I was very into sitcoms in the late 90’s, which makes sense considering it was also the era of Seinfeld. Sitcoms were definitely different than the more prestige comedies of today (I like both). The jokes were more on the nose, and the live studio audience made it obvious when to laugh (there are still some sitcoms that do this, but they don’t tend to get critical praise). I liked (and still like, for the most part) “3rd Rock” because its premise is creative in a way that really appeals to me. Anyway, this episode follows the formula of a lot of 3rd Rock episodes. The Solomons, since they are actually aliens, are experiencing some Earth customs for the first time, specifically Halloween and an annual physical. Given that this is the third season, I’m not quite sure why that is, but the result is entertaining.

Fear is what ties all the plots in this episode. First, and most unrelated to Halloween itself, is Dick’s fear of going to an annual physical. He needs to go per university policy. If he doesn’t, his paychecks stop until he does. Dick has gone to the doctor for specific problems before, but going for a physical makes him nervous, because the doctor is just looking for problems. I can sympathize with that, for sure. I have chronic health issues that often flare up in odd ways that throw off my labwork and result in a lot more follow-up testing than I would prefer (which generally turns up normal). He doesn’t even get to putting on the exam gown during his first visit – he hightails it out of the doctor’s office as soon as he is told to disrobe. For his second try, he brings Nina with him, which must have been hella awkward for Nina. I certainly would never make any of my employees accompany me to a doctor’s appointment, that’s for sure. Dick gets to the disrobing part, but as soon as the doctor tries to start the exam, he runs yet again.

Meanwhile, Mary asks Sally and Tommy to housesit for her while she goes to the university Halloween party. She’s afraid that if someone isn’t there to hand out candy, the rotten neighborhood kids will egg and TP her house. Sally and Tommy have nothing better to do, so they’re in. The costumes and what they say about the characters is one of my favorite aspects of Halloween television episodes, and this episode certainly did not disappoint. At the university party, we see that Dick is a pirate (works with his carefree, playful attitude towards life), and Mary is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. That also fits with the aspect of her personality that just wants to let loose when she doesn’t have to be the super-driven career woman. Sally and Tommy say they are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, but they actually look like Sonny and Cher. This fits with their general struggle to understand humans. And finally, Harry is an alien. He gets really upset when someone mentions that, until he remembers that he is actually really dressed up as an alien (they haven’t figured out his secret).

Sally and Tommy have quite an adventure housesitting for Mary. Sally decides (and Tommy agrees) that it’s a great idea to just fill up a dish with candy and leave it outside. It’s no work Halloween! The only problem is that almost immediately, a little girl rings the doorbell for trick or treating. All the candy in the dish is already gone, taken by “The Pope.” To make matters worse, as Sally and Tommy are talking to the little girl, some eggs are thrown inside the house and break on the hardwood living room floor. They suspect the Pope is behind this too, and among the chaos, they manage to capture one unfortunate kid. They tie him to a chair, and Sally starts interrogating him. She and Tommy play good cop, bad cop, and I can’t imagine anything like this ever flying today, what with our helicopter parenting culture and all. Sally starts breaking eggs on the kid’s head, and eventually he talks. He reveals the identity and address of the Pope. Just as Sally and Tommy are about to leave and get revenge, though, they find out it was actually a Batman who egged the house. Foiled again!

Meanwhile, back at home, Harry is happily watching horror movies, although he is a little scared. He starts to get more frightened when he hears strange noises coming from the heating grate. It sounds kind of like moaning, so Harry is convinced it is a ghost. When Dick gets home from the university party (more on that in a sec), he also agrees that the noises seem quite ghost-like. Smoke emanating from the grate and a power outage send both of them hiding under the kitchen table, where Mary finds them and mocks them. An investigation of the noises follows, and they eventually find Mrs. Dubcek, the landlady, stuck inside a crawlspace in the basement. She had been trying to find her dropped cigarette lighter and couldn’t get out. The only thing they can’t really explain conventionally is the sound of some rattling chains. According to Mrs. Dubcek, though, that’s a long-time ghost resident who is no trouble.

Dick has quite a lot of fun at the university party, although Mary kind of gets tired of his pirate antics and goes to talk to someone else. When Dick intrudes on the conversation, he finds that someone else is none other than his doctor. Needless to say, Dick immediately hightails it home (where he has his ghost adventures with Harry). Everyone eventually convinces Dick to give going to the doctor one more try, and this time everything seems to go well. Dick is completely at ease, and he wonders why he was so worried. Then the doctor gets ready for the prostate exam. Happy Halloween!

No comments:

Post a Comment