710/Win a Free Car
Ira drops by the Buchman's apartment and reveals that Buchman's Sporting Goods is struggling financially. However, he's come up with a plan for attracting new customers - a contest to give away a Cadillac Coupe DeVille. The rules of the contest are simple: the contestant just has to be the last one to keep a hand on the car. So how can Ira afford to give away such an expensive car when he's financially struggling? Simple, he's going to rig the contest by having "ringers" (contestants he's picked out ahead of time). Paul, Jamie, Mark (who's found a day off and stopped by), Marvin and Paul's parents are all enlisted to help. That's 6 contestants and the flier announcing the contest says 12 people will be chosen. When Ira tries to have only his 6 ringers as contestants someone in the surrounding crowd threatens to report him to the Better Business Bureau, so he quickly draws 6 other names, including the guy complaining. In various ways Ira manages to trick most of the contestants to take a hand off the car, until only Paul and Jamie and the complaining guy are left. Paul and Jamie are trying their best to win the car for Ira, but as they try to solve some of their own problems which arose during the contest, they both take their hands off of the car and onto each other. So now Ira has to give away a car he didn't own, and can't afford. Good luck. Also Paul is accidentally blinded by Jamie who gets a malfunctioning film light to work right as Paul is looking directly into it.
This episode continues what has basically been a lighter, and, admittedly less-substantial, tone of writing this season. And it's been in many ways more fun to watch because there aren't divorce or commnication issues to deal with every week. But in the last 2 episodes there has been a disturbing trend of blatant criminal activity. This week Ira openly admits that rigging the contest is grand larceny, a felony crime. And if that wasn't bad enough, he sets about enlisting family members and his employee. Paul, however, knows it's illegal to do it, but agrees to help anyway. So what is he thinking?
What on Earth is happening to this show? I mean, can't the producers and writers come up with plots which don't involve felony crimes or stealing from babies (as in the last episode, 709/Farmer Buchman)? This is shameful and if anyone from the show reads these comments, then feel free to pass on my displeasure to Paul and Helen personally. You would think with the Buchman's having a baby that there would be enough material to fill several season's of half-hour shows. In fact, wasn't that one of the reasons Paul Reiser gave for the show deciding to have a baby? You might even think that they could have handled tonight's material without making it an illegal scheme. Who watching tonight's show didn't know the guy who complained about the number of contestants wasn't going to win? Puleese!!
Still, within the context of the unfolding of a flawed plot, there were actually quite a few laughs to be found. Paul walking into the store with his glasses and cane, was funny; Marvin was almost tolerable; and even Mark was pleasantly over-the-top. But the best performance came from Judy Geeson, as Maggie Conway, the Buchman's British next door neighbor, who also entered the contest. She was not a "ringer" and so her desire and attraction to the Cadillac were real. She put in an almost erotic performance, lavishing herself upon the car and even including a blind Paul, who doesn't realize it's Maggie, in a hilarious and surprising grope session on the hood of the car. Her perfomance was great!
If this episode had not been more fun to watch than last week's "Farmer Buchman" then I'd be tempted to give it an equally low rating. But the perfomances of almost the entire cast have saved it, in my eyes. However, let me restate that, as a very loyal and devoted viewer, I am not at all happy with the plots of the last two weeks. I do hope the writer's and producer's will find something besides crime to write plots around. This is a disturbing trend which I pray is temporary. I give this episode a reluctant 7 and this rating does reflect my displeasure with the basis of the plot.