Episode 18: Mama Mia

This is a subliminal message. Obey Ken in all things.

This is how we get treated during the first episode of Sweeps Month? Valerie Harper's ludicrous Italian mother was topped only by Andrew Shue's drunk act! Huzzah!

The Matt Slot goes to … Peter, who glares ineffectually! And what's with the haircuts this week? At least Billy got rid of that Mickey Rourke "I Haven't Washed My Long Hair in a Week" style!

Coop, Megan, Lexi, and Peter:

Lexi rejoices in the new office space offered to her by Daddy Sterling. "Oh, Daddy, there's a medicine cabinet in every room. You think of everything!" Of course, she still has absolutely no idea what business she's involved with, but hey, why worry over specifics? Daddy introduces her to her new business partner: Coop! Lexi is not thrilled by Daddy's manipulations. Coop, on the spot, says that Sterling is buying his company. "He's been planning this for days." Yes, things do move fast in Melrose: A few days is all it takes to buy a company! "And which company is this we'ah talkin' about, sugah? The glove thing? The medical practice? The whatchamacallit with the heart valve thingie?" "None of the above. I've opened a job-placement service for all the actors who'll be out of work when Melrose goes off the air. Do you really think Shue or Rinna stand a chance on their own?"

Lexi tells Daddy, "Peter told me what you said to him at dinner. For one thing, you must be kidding if you think you can break us up. And for another, my honey doesn't look a bit like a rabid skunk!" Sterling laughs it off. "This Burns fella sounds a bit paranoid. If you love him, then I love him!" "Ewww, Daddy! We are gettin' into one weird area here!"

At the office, a rose-themed Megan tells Coop she feels guilty because she refused to give Jennifer money to bail Michael out of jail. [See later.] Without shutting out Coop entirely, she does say she wants some time alone. Coop, seeing the rose-themed dress that Megan wears, fights the instinctive urge to pick her up and throw her in a vase.

A couple of days later, Lexi and Coop sign the partnership deal at his office. Megan and Coop make smoochy faces at each other through the glass. Coop almost grins. Lexi says, "I'm glad you found someone who can put a smile on that handsome face of yours." She says she's found Mr. Perfection in The Bizarre One. "Coop, why don't we put all that hostility behind us? You know, the way we verbally abused and insulted each other at the beginning of the season. It's been a few months, so its time for our characters' personalities to change." They hug to make it official, and -- of course -- Peter and Megan look with horror upon the sudden embrace. (Oh, the painful predictability! Don't you absolutely hate it when you think, "I could have written that myself!" I miss the old days when this show could pleasantly surprise its fans.)

Amanda, Kyle, and Lip Lass:

After Taylor hauls Amanda's temporarily immobile body onto the bed, Amanda asks Taylor what she knows about the mysterious Christine. Lip Lass lies, naturally. She says that she did hear Kyle mutter the name in his sleep and had "always suspected" that it had something to do with the war. She says Kyle has a foot locker with mementos that she, golly, thinks could be in the basement of the complex. Kyle arrives and sees Amanda and Taylor sitting in bed together. "Hey, today is my lucky day!" Amanda says, "Not today, slave! I share you with no one!" Kyle is disturbed by Taylor's happy face (who wouldn't be?) and drags her out. "What's really going on, Lippie? I know when you're lying." "No, you don't." Well, she's got him there! The boy's been as dumb as a post!

Later that day, Kyle returns to see Amanda doing her floor exercises. The Canadian judge gives her an 8.8, the American gives her a 9.1, but oh, only a 5.7 from the Russian judge! "Damn you, Boris! Get out of my apartment, slave!" Thanks to her physical therapy and the vagaries of Melrosian physics, the previously crippled Amanda should be competing in the Snowboarding events at Nagano this month. She asks him about his dreams and Christine, but he ducks the issue.

Sure enough, Amanda wastes no time in walking (!) down to the Kimberly Shaw Memorial Basement. She pries open the foot locker and sees the "Three Musketeers" photo with Kyle, Christine, and Nick the Human Spittoon (thankfully missing this week). She hears Kyle calling her name and she hurriedly closes the locker. When a concerned Kyle arrives at the top of the stairs, Amanda says she wanted something to do so she thought about laundry (!). Kyle briefly accepts this explanation, even though there's not a piece of laundry around! However, as he carries her upstairs, he can see that the locker has been opened: His "I Love Stormin' Norman" T-shirt is sticking out. "Hmm, maybe she was doing laundry…"

Later, at Upstairs, Amanda wants to celebrate her first night out, but Kyle is sulking. He asks why she was rummaging around in his locker. She's completely honest, saying she was worried about the continuing nightmares he's had and she wants to help him beat that damn Freddy Krueger. Kyle decides to open up, and he tells her that he and Christine fell in love during the Beach Blanket War -- and then she went BOOM! He sighs, "I never told anyone that before." Amanda says, "Well, you must have told Taylor. She's the one who first told me about Christine." Furious, Kyle runs down to the restaurant and threatens to toss Lippie into the meat locker (yeah!) unless she tells him the truth about how she knew about Christine. He says, "Nick was the only one who knew. Ah, that's why you were asking me about him." She of course lies again, denying any involvement with Spitty. She says she knows because of a letter that Christine sent to their home in Boston, but which she "forgot" to give to Kyle. "Kyle, I swear I thought it was one of those notices from Dick Clark and Ed McMahon." "What? But that could have been my chance to win a million dollars! Anyhow, that's impossible because Christine died in the war." Lippie says, "No, Kyle. Christine's alive." Yes, Kyle, it's your zombie dream date!

The next day, Kyle reads and re-reads the letter purportedly written by Christine. (OK, now I'm confused. Who did write this letter? It can't be real, since Lippie didn't know about Christine until two episodes ago. But if it's fake, Kyle should recognize Taylor's handwriting -- assuming she wrote the love letter, that is. Let's not even wonder if it was written by Spitty, although that would make some sense. And if it is fake, then how did they get a years-old post date on the envelope? And doesn't anyone wonder why Lippie would have held onto this letter for years?) Amanda understandably asks if this will change things between her and him. "Not a chance," he says. "I'll still be easily manipulated as I've been for the past two years. Maybe even more." He even gives her the choice of reading or trashing the letter while he takes a shower. Amanda promptly throws it in the trash. Taylor makes a surprise visit, and Amanda hates her for dredging up Kyle's past. Lip Lass points out that the return address is on the envelope (Santa Fe, New Mexico) and says, "If I were you, I would do anything possible to keep Kyle away from 'the love of his life.'" When Taylor leaves, Amanda retrieves the letter for the waste bin and begins reading. "'Kyle, one day you'll get over me and find happiness with a woman with inflated lips.' Hey!"

That night, Amanda seeks advice from the creature in The Pool. Kyle joins her in offering squirrels to appease the chlorinated beast. She thinks he should go to New Mexico and find Christine, but he firmly says, "Nope, I don't need to go anywhere. I'd marry you tonight if you asked me to." Then, in one of those Kyle leaps of logic, he adds, "But because you want me to go, then I'll go!" Kyle even packs a second bag: He wants Amanda to come with him, and he won't take no for an answer.

They arrive in Santa Fe and, as night falls, drive up to the address on the envelope. Kyle goes the rest of the way on his own. He knocks on the door. A woman in shadows opens it and gasps, "Kyle?!" He gasps back, "Christine?!"

Michael, Jennifer, Samantha, Billy, Jeff, and Mama Mia (yeesh):

Cops show up at the beach house to investigate Amber's fleecing of Michael's possessions. Jennifer shows up with more bad news: "Mom's coming for a visit." Somehow, Mama Mia Mancini (painful, ain't it?) got the impression that Jennifer is engaged to Craig. (They don't know he's dead yet.) Michael isn't in the mood to deal with Mom and tells Jennifer to let her wander around Universal Studios or something. But Jen tells him she no longer has a car: It was stolen by Craig. Michael sighs as he thinks about his missing stuff. "How am I supposed to fall asleep without a wife or a TV set?"

Billy and Samantha tells the relaxing Amanda about their attempts to bag Jeff Baylor and how he seemed to take a liking to Sam. Amanda tells them to take him out to dinner and get him to sign. Billy says, "Daah, I can't. I got anudda client." "Well, it's up to Sam really. You don't have a problem with that, do you, slaves?" In unison: "No, Mistress 'Manda."

The next night, the Tom Cruise wannabe takes Samantha for a post-dinner walk around the ballfield. He grabs a bat and some balls and encourages her to throw at him! He happily helps her take off her shoes, then Sam goes to mound and throws a pitch. (Yeah, right! Maybe one day we'll see Sam and the baseball in the same shot!) Jeff promptly hits it out of the park.

Michael barges into the dressing room of the Soiled Sequin strip club. He's looking for Amber, but one of the performers told him that she quit without notice. (Wouldn't the police have already come looking for her?) Michael doesn't believe her, and he ends up getting pummeled by several bouncers.

In the morning, Billy is grumpy about Sam's late night with Baylor. In fact, he's downright jealous! (This from the man who tried to give Connie a tonsillectomy!) He notices, "Yer still not wearing yer wedding ring." It's been repaired, but Sam hasn't had time to pick it up yet. Jennifer visits, and pleads for $500 to bail Michael out of jail. Billy, still being snappish, says, "Nah, we spent too much on the wedding, especially for Sam's wedding dress." When she tells them about Craig stealing her car, Billy lets her borrow his car so that she can pick up Mama Mia at the airport.

Yes indeed, it's "Rhoda" herself, Valerie Harper, as "Mama" Mia Mancini in a performance so stereotypical that it must have been researched using old Ronzoni commercials. She even says, "Ya want a canole?" Anyhow, she's psyched to be in L.A. so she can see that "cute" Jay Leno (ick!) as well as Craig, her "future son-in-law." Jen keeps trying to tell her that she and Craig are not engaged, but Mom won't shut up. Finally, she gives up and wonders how she got trapped in a "Three's Company" episode. She does give her an update on Michael, her beloved son. A short time later, Michael is a free man! His bail has been paid -- by Mama, who is not too happy about him getting into a fight at a strip club. "I thought I taught you better than that, Michael. You're only supposed to watch at strip clubs!" Michael gets the weekly slap in the face!

Over at Amanda Woodward Advertising, the nameless minions, rejoicing in Amanda's absence, swipe office supplies and play computer games. Man-in-charge Billy tells them, "Daah, good work. Let's play Quake later." He gives Sam her repaired wedding ring, but she hesitates before putting in on. Billy is upset! "Dat's it! I'm gonna make sure Baylor knows yer my wife!" He stumbles over to where Jeff is chatting with advertisers and says, "Gaah, just so ya know, Sam and I are married, so … dah … if ya think yer gettin' involved with this just caussa her, dink again!" Billy makes a complete fool of himself. Jeff appropriately looks at Billy as though he's talking to a 5-year-old and says, "I'm not interested, no matter how curvy and soft Samantha is. However, I would like her to be my representative here." Billy stammers that Sam is a graphic designer, not an account executive, but the advertisers say, "If that's what the minor-league baseball player wants, that's what he'll get or the deal's off." That's like saying, "We don't want the architect to design our building. We like the truck driver instead!" But if Billy says no, he faces the wrath of his Mistress! "Daah, welcome aboard."

The next day, Billy goes to Jennifer's place and wants his car keys back. Mama sees him and cries, "Oh, this must be Craig!" She won't let him get a word in, either, and she says they must all have dinner tomorrow night. Billy wonders how he got trapped in a "Three's Company" episode. Jen quietly asks him to pretend to be Craig until Mama goes back to New Jersey. Billy says bluntly, "No!" and he leaves. Mama also wants to see "that no-good son of mine" in his fancy office -- which he doesn't have anymore! Jen arranges to stall Mama until Michael can meet her at Melrose Place. He gives her roses and says, "Ma, I can explain everything." This should be good! "Last night was a case of mistaken identity. One of my patients had a procedure done, but he had to stay where he worked, in the strip club! So I went to check on him. Another guy, who looked just like me, was causing trouble and they thought…" Yadda yadda yadda. She can't see his office right now because it's being "redecorated." Jen escorts him to the door, saying, "And tomorrow night, we'll all have dinner with Craig -- unless you can't make it, of course. Wink wink nudge nudge." Michael, oblivious, says, "Sure! Sounds great!"

That night, the three Mancinis hang out in the beach house. Jen answers the phone. It's the police, saying they found her car (they got the phone number from Megan). They also found Craig's brains splattered all over the front seat! She gets off the phone and rushes into the bedroom. Michael follows her, wanting to know what's wrong. "Craig is dead -- and my upholstery is ruined!" Michael consoles her.

Billy returns home from work the next day. (Hey, it's daylight, Campbell! Get back out there, you slacker!) There's a message from Sam on the answering machine, saying she's still in meeting with Jeff in Palm Springs, and she may have to stay in the hotel overnight. Billy sulks and -- at the very moment -- the TV has a live broadcast of a celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament with Jeff Baylor on the screen! He sinks a putt and hugs Sam, as the announcers praise the -- and I can't stress this enough -- minor-league baseball player and make some weird comments about the "pretty bird" with him. (Thank you, Frank Gifford.) For the non-American Melrosians out there, this is akin to giving Pete Sampras-like adulation to a badminton player. Got it?

At night, the Mancini clan goes to Kyle's for dinner, as Jennifer tries to explain that Craig is tied up at work and can't make it. He's dead tired! Mama, however, sees Billy getting sloshed on root beer and says, "Hey, there's Craig!" Jen and Michael play along. As Michael seats Mom, Jennifer says, "Craig is dead, but I need your help. I'm desperate!" "Well, daah … Gaah! Craig is dead?!" Jen explains and says she feels terrible about it, but she still needs Billy to "be" Craig for the night. "I dunno, dat sounds morbid." Still, he's plastered, so he does it.

In Palm Springs, Samantha and Jeff relax with wine on the couch in his hotel suite. They start giving each other goo-goo eyes. Sam decides she should go, but there's that dreaded pause and they kiss! (She's as bad as Billy!) She breaks it off, saying, "Uh, doy, that's right -- I'm married! This isn't right." She leaves.

Billy, Mia, and Jennifer return to Melrose Place. The drunken Billy starts to get melancholy about his first marriage, and I feared he would mention the dreaded name of Brooke! (Scrunchy Face!) [It's since been mentioned that Billy may have still been pretending to be Craig.] It's pretty funny when Andrew Shue pretends to be drunk: Billy actually gets more understandable. Mama loves him, though, and Jen escorts him to his apartment door while Mama stares at them from across the courtyard. Jen says to Billy, "One last favor. My mother's watching, so you have to kiss me." "Daah, okay." Satisfied, Mama goes inside. Billy pauses, then goes back for seconds! Jennifer says, "What was that for?" "Uh, daah, I thought I saw yer mother looking through the window." "Oh." What has happened to the sanctity of marriage? Billy and Sam stray at every opportunity! Get them jobs in Washington!

Next Week: A two-hour sweeps extravaganza! (Oh, the pain, the pain…) It's Amanda and Kyle's wedding, with conflict galore!

--Ken Hart

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