Episode 29: Ultimatums & The Single Guy


Didn't the Pool Boy this week look like Randolph Mantooth? Scary. Spelling loves to dig up the former TV actors as directors: We've seen the work of Parker Stevenson, James Darren, and this week Anson "Potsie" Williams. I wonder how many takes Heather and company needed to finish the great dinner scene without cracking up?

The Matt Slot goes to ... oooh, another toughie this week! Everybody was in at least three scenes. I'll give it to Michael, since one of his scenes was that blatantly bogus one with the amnesiac epileptic minister. Not that gimmick again!

Matt and Chelsea:

Chelsea's War Journal, Entry #27: Matt has been hugging a guy all night long. It was really strange. It made me feel all squirmy inside. I find myself looking at the Victoria's Secrets catalog just for the pictures. I had a weird dream last night -- there was me, Stephanie Seymour, and a bottle of maple syrup. Oh wait, Matt's making breakfast...

Chelsea listens to last night's guest Mark tell Matt how much he appreciated letting him stay over for the evening. "I slept great, mostly because of you, though. Those finger puppets really did the trick." Chelsea makes her presence known. Matt asks Mark to stay for breakfast, but he says he needs to face up to returning home. He then says goodbye to Chelsea and hugs Matt farewell. (Chelsea seems very friendly, but this could be her way to getting more information for her diary.) When he leaves, she asks Matt, "Is he a boyfriend of yours?" "Oh, no. He was the lover of a good friend who died yesterday." When he confirms her next question that it was due to AIDS, she asks Matt if he ever worries that he'll get it. "Sure, but I've been tested plenty of times. I'll just be careful and keep renewing my contract with Mr. Spelling. I'm more worried that I'll never find the right guy!" Chelsea asks, "You think you ever will?" "God, I hope so!" He pauses and says, "Hey, we just had a real conversation!" He's happy, but a guilty Chelsea averts her eyes.

Some time later, Matt, Chelsea, and her mom Denise meet in Shooter's (The Only Bar in Town). Yep, that's the best place to meet if you want to show off what a fine upstanding citizen you are! Hell, Jake hired an escaped convict last month! In between episodes, a judge awarded joint custody of Chelsea to Matt and Denise until the case is resolved, so Matt suggested they get together to arrange a schedule. Chelsea likes Shooter's, but Denise poo-poohs the use of ... red meat! Shocking! As soon as they settle on a schedule, Denise gets up to leave with Chelsea. Matt says, "I was hoping you'd stay for dinner. You'll probably miss a good party or a fistfight, There's usually one every night!" Denise's contempt for Matt is obvious.

A couple of days later, Matt arrives at the hotel to pick up Chelsea for the weekend. As she leaves with her mom, it's obvious that she tried to leave her War Journal behind, but Denise "reminds" her. She gets in Matt's car as Denise glares at him. Matt has the opportunity to bad-mouth Denise to Chelsea, but he doesn't: "It's not fair to put you in the middle of this anymore than you already are." Chelsea appreciates it: "Now take me back to that red meat place!"

Craig, Sydney, Amanda, and Sleazy the Lawyer:

At Dumb and Dumber, Amanda chastises Craig for failing to come through on The Sydney Project. "By the way, slave, here's the bill from the private investigator whose camera you ruined. I think I'll beat this out of your hide! I shall first get my whip and the Tabasco sauce." Craig innocently says, "Why can't you accept the fact that Sydney is seriously hurt?" Amanda thinks he's gone loopy! "We're on the verge of closing our doors because of that little twit you've got the hots for. I forbid you to see her again. Violation will result in the strictest punishment!"

Glutton for punishment that he is, Craig does see Sydney, who still has one arm in a sling. He tells her about Amanda's threat, then gives the gullible Syd a sob story about how the lawsuit will destroy D&D. "We've not covered for that staircase. I was supposed to take care of it, but then my father, Evil Ex-CEO Arthur, died...sniff... The irony is, I'll pay the biggest price for it. Amanda has other investments plus the residuals from repeats, but D&D is all I have." Syd, who has now taken a liking to this putz, says, "I'll speak to Sleazy and see if I can get him to come down a bit on the money." "Golly, you'd do that for me?" OK, let me see if I've got this straight: Craig likes Sydney but is trying to kiss Amanda's butt at the same time? A worthwhile ambition, but doomed to failure!

Back at D&D, Craig confidently tells Amanda that her worries are over. She scoffs after Craig has related the previous night's events, but he replies, "She's actually quite smart and sweet." "What did she do, throw pixie dust in your face?" Craig activates his Smug Mode: "She likes me, she may even love me." "I doubt you, slave. And stop the smug act. The viewers' dislike of you grows daily!"

Meanwhile, Sleazy is trying to tell Sydney that Craig is wooing her simply for the money. Syd says, "Even if that's true, I couldn't live with myself. We'll go up to $50,000, that's it." Sleazy defiantly says, "Nope, 5 million." He even threatens to go to the police with forged documents that "prove" the whole scam was Sydney's idea from the start! Poor Sydney -- betrayed again!

Jake and Alison:

Alison and Jake are interviewed at home by a woman from an adoption agency. "So this is an adult apartment complex? I couldn't help but notice the pool with no protective fence around it and the sign that said, 'Please Do Not Feed the Pool.'" Jake says they plan to move to a house if they ever got kids. "Have either of you ever had a history of mental illness?" Nope. "Criminal behavior?" Nope. "Successful parts in TV movies or mini-series?" Nope. "Substance abuse?" Ah, well... Alison admits to being arrested for driving while intoxicated, but that was a couple of seasons ago. The woman is sympathetic and says, "I'm sure we can work something out. Perhaps one of those darling Salinger children on 'Party of Five'..." She leaves, and both Alison and Jake think they've scored.

Unfortunately, that night, Jake starts a premature celebration, and he and Alison get pretty well soused in their living room with the entire Shooter's bar sitting on their coffee table. There's a knock on the door. It's the adoption lady! She says she left her appointment book inside. When she sees all the liquor, the stumbling Alison, and the Celine Dion CD, she gives them a thumbs down on the adoption. No child should put up with this!

The next day, Jake comes home early and sees Alison with the vodka bottle. He angrily grabs it and pours it down the sink. When Alison suggests they can try again with another agency, Jake says that won't happen. He had just appealed to the adoption lady for another chance, "but she did a background check, which made us look even worse. I think she believes you're an alcoholic." Gee, how could she get THAT idea? Alison is consumed with guilt, but Jake -- to his credit -- takes equal blame. "We've been in a downward spiral ever since the baby died. Look at where we work. Look at where we live! It's as if we're in some kind of bad soap opera!" He wonders if it's time for them to leave, and Alison thinks he's right. Two more cast members leaving? Maybe!

Megan and Jennifer:

At the beach house, a tired Megan says she's been looking all over for Jennifer, but no luck. Michael is totally unconcerned! Megan worries that Los Angeles will "chew her up," but Michael says, "Hey, she's a Mancini! Trust me, we always land on our feet."

Well, she's landed on some part of her anatomy! Jennifer ends up looking for work at The Midnight Strip, a PG-rated strip club. The owner quizzes her about her background, and she says she used to wait tables at a diner. He then calls one of the waitresses over, who's wearing a cheap one-piece bit of lingerie. (Hey, it's the Fox network at 8 p.m.! What did you expect, a realistic strip club? Turn on "Silk Stalkings"!) The guy asks Jen, "Are you prepared to wear one of these?" "I'm prepared to wear less if the tips are good." The network executives do handstands!

During her shift, a scantily clad Jennifer slips into the office and calls Megan. "I just called to let you know I'm not lying dead in a ditch somewhere." She tells Megan that she's got a job in a "bar" and found a roommate. However, she won't give Megan a number where she can be reached. On cue, the owner pops in and tells Jen to get back to work. She asks Megan to meet her for lunch at "that place you like." Gee, do you mean ... Shooter's?

Of course! When they meet, Jen tells her about her fun job. "It's low class, but the tips are good." "You can stop snowing me any time now. It's a strip club, isn't it?" Wow, Megan comes through with the ESP! Jen jokes, "Oops, busted! It's not as bad as it sounds." Megan, seeing a need to get through, takes a big gulp and tells Jennifer that she used to be a hooker! Jennifer is stunned! Megan tells her to stay out of those clubs: "Once down that dark path you go, forever will it dominate your destiny!" She even correctly guesses that this isn't Jen's first strip club. (Now for her next magic trick, Megan will guess my correct age.) Jennifer says her family has always treated her like a "walking mistake," but she reserves extra spite for Kyle, whom she blames for giving her hope and then taking it all away when he went back to Lippie! "Still, he did me a favor. I don't hang around with the classiest guys, but I don't get lied to anymore. Sure, they paw and they grope, but they don't lie."

Peter, Lip Lass, Kyle, Michael, and more Amanda:

The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns walks downstairs in the morning, but does not see breakfast waiting for him, nor is Taylor wearing her Beth uniform! "What is this?! Where's my breakfast?" "That's a good question. Where is it?" Hmmm, deep! She says, "Maybe I'm tired of being somebody else, tired of being Beth! Maybe I want to be Oprah for a day, huh?" Peter calmly says in that deranged way of his, "Those are the rules, remember?" If Taylor stops being Beth, then he has no reason to keep her around. Lippie yields!

Amanda calls Kyle at the restaurant and asks for some official documentation of their partnership on the jazz club. Kyle is concerned: "I don't get it. Why now? I thought we had a lipshake...I mean, handshake deal." When Amanda says she gave in to common sense, Kyle testily says he'll have to get back to her. "Up until a few minutes ago, I thought I knew who I was dealing with. What's your name again?"

Michael meets a worried Taylor at Shooter's. She says, "Peter gave me an ultimatum: Play the game or leave!" Michael shakes his head sympathetically, "He's a sick puppy." Lip Lass says, "I don't know why I'm telling you this, except that you're the only other person who seems to care about him." Oh ho! That's funny! Michael says simply, "Success has gone to his head. He was a lot nicer when he was a loser." He tells Taylor to go along with Peter for now. He'll "talk" to him and see what he can do.

Here's the big Plot Device scene: While on rounds, Michael listens as Matt tells him and other young doctors about the case of a man who got into a fight in a diner, wielded a steak knife, and threatened people with an 8 x 10 of John Tesh, but now recalls nothing of the incident. Michael, being the source of all wisdom, walks over to the bruised man's bed and questions him. Not only does the guy not remember anything, but he's a minister! His claims of ignorance carry theological weight! Michael quickly looks at the EEG results and leads his flock back into the hall. The Mighty Michael explains to his rapt, non-speaking audience (i.e., cheaply paid extras) that the EEG clearly shows the man to suffer from "temporal lobe epilepsy or rage epilepsy, otherwise known as the Roseanne Barr Syndrome." It's quite possible that the minister does have no memory of his actions. As he says, "something like this could ruin a man's reputation," a new scheme clearly races across his eyes!

Kyle walks into Amanda's office and hands her the contract she requested. But there's a condition! No Bizarre One! Since she's still married to Peter, he doesn't want any chance of him eventually becoming a new partner. "It's no go until that lying, cheating Burns is out of the picture!" Amanda is equally adamant that Kyle get rid of "lying, cheating, collagen-mutated, husband-stealing wife of yours!" Kyle has a plan. He can get "waivers of appearance" that will make the divorce process end swiftly: "I grabbed them off of the Kennedy family back in Boston." All he and Amanda have to do is get Taylor and Peter together to sign the papers. "How are they going to say no without hurting each other's feelings?" he says.

Time for The Dinner! Kyle, Amanda, Peter, and a Beth-impersonating Lip Lass sit at the restaurant, and Kyle finally gets to the point of the evening. (It's too bad we didn't get to see the initial parts of this dinner!) He presents the waivers of appearance and says they all want this painful process over quickly. (He wisely doesn't mention the jazz club.) Taylor quickly reaches for the pen, but The Bizarre One still seems to have feelings for Amanda. "You're sleeping with him, aren't you? Isn't that a little incestuous, even for you, Amanda?" Geez, look who's talking! You're the one screwing your dead wife's little sister! He refuses to sign, which infuriates Lip Lass. The insults now fly! "Slut!" "Male slut!" "Conniving bitch!" "Conniving bitch in some ugly-ass clothes!" Huzzah! Peter accuses Amanda of bad taste: "You go from a chief of staff to boffing a hash-slinger?!? What next, a politician?" "All right, fine," says Amanda. "We make love every night, all night long, and it is great! And he's better at golf!" She grabs a surprised Kyle and kisses him passionately before an incensed Peter. Kyle gasps for air and Amanda says, "Satisfied?" Lippie tells Peter to sign the damn thing! "Fine. As far as I'm concerned, I was married only once, to Beth. Anything after that," he says, dropping his ring into a glass, "was a waste of time!" Ouch! That clearly hurt Amanda. When he and Taylor leave, Kyle says, "Well, we got what we wanted. You surprised me with that kiss." "Don't read anything into it. If the busboy had been any closer, I would've kissed him too. Hey, that waitress looks cute..."

The next evening at Hotel Peninsula, the Peter-Taylor relationship shows definite signs of strain as Peter prepares to deliver a speech for the 25th anniversary of Wilshire Memorial. As part of the celebration, a special slideshow will highlight the hospital's many corrupt chiefs of staff. Michael shows up, but The Bizarre One is clearly not happy to see him. As Peter talks to the audience, Michael and Lippie quietly chat about Peter's current status. She says, "When I first came to L.A., Peter was a broken man." "And that's when he was really nice to you, right?" Michael adds that some failure would do a world of good for Peter: "All we have to do is bring him down a couple of pegs, say, rock bottom. And I know just how to do it."

Billy and Samantha:

Samantha returns home after her latest meeting with Evil Dad. Billy is waiting for her, and he yells at her as soon as she starts lying. He tells her he followed her to the motel. Sam acts offended! Billy demands to know why she lied to him, and she admits that her father did not get out of prison the legal way. Billy says, "Daaah, dat's aiding and abetting! You could end up in jail. We could both end up in jail! And I lost my 'Get Out of Jail' free card!" When Sam says she has to do this because of what she did in the past, Billy immediately says, "You didn't put him in jail. He did dat to himself!" When Billy says he'll go to the police, Sam pleads with him to wait another couple of days. Billy silently agrees.

Billy obviously doesn't want to take any chances. The next night, he drags Sam with him to the Withered Ferns Motel and angrily confronts Evil Dad. "Daah, you put yer daughter at risk. She could end up in da same place you had to escape from. Well, maybe not the same place, since she's a woman and all, but ya get my drift, ya selfish son of a bitch!" He tells Dad to say goodbye to Sam. Instead of punching Billy out, however, Evil Dad says, "You're right, son, and you've got a lot of guts saying that." He bids a tearful goodbye to Sam, saying he's not sure when they'll see each other again. Hmmm, is he faking? He then says, "I'm sorry for not being a better father all these years." OK, he's definitely faking!

The next evening, as Sam is leaving the grocery, she's grabbed by her dad! "You didn't think I was gonna let it end that way, with HIM tellin' me I had to say goodbye?" Samantha wants nothing to do with him now, no matter how much she cares. "Just go! Please! I can't help you anymore." She leaves, but Dad is mad! I sense revenge brewing! Bring me the head of Billy Campbell!

Later, at D&D, detectives show up and ask Billy if he's seen Samantha's father. Billy plays dumb (i.e., Andrew Shue's eyes open wider) and says he's never seen him. "And, daah, after all, it would be stupid of him to come after his daughter, right?" At least one of the detectives seems skeptical of Billy's ignorance. Billy knows that he just did a Bad Thing.

The next day, however, the detectives return and ask Amanda if she's seen him. Amanda innocently says, "Well, yeah, that's Samantha Reilly's father. Is anything wrong?" Oops! The detectives immediately arrest Billy at the office! "Gaah, whaddaya arrestin' me for? Aiding and abetting?" "Hell, no, son. Amanda wants you out of here for impersonating an ad executive!"

As Billy is brought into the precinct in handcuffs (!), he protests his innocence -- then sees Samantha manacled to a bench in the hallway! Snagged!

Next Week: Jake and Alison plan to leave Melrose Place! Jennifer spies on Michael and Taylor! Amanda and Kyle smooch for real!

--Ken Hart

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