“My Fair Nanny” SNEAK PEEK

Maggie Sheffield, the oldest of all the Sheffield children, is having a rather tough time of fitting in with members of her elite private school. Never fear, Super Nanny is here! Fran decides to hold a mother/daughter tea party shindig for Maggie, and Maggie is thrilled…until C.C. convinces Fran that she won’t fit in. This leads Max and Niles to go all “My Fair Lady” on Fran’s ass so that she’ll be able to fit in with the rich crowds.my fair nanny sneak peek

Season 1, Episode 2: “Smoke Gets in Your Lies”

We are greeted with the sight of a New York street, complete with lots of cars and a line of attractive bungalows. We are treated to non-threatening piano music as it slowly progresses… Yeah, for the record, I’m so sorry it’s taken four months to do a new post. Life happened, you know?

It cuts to the mansion where Fran is sitting with Niles. Oddly, there’s no introduction to it; it just begins mid-scene. Fran is just sitting there with Niles standing above her when all of a sudden, the doorbell rings. Fran briefly touches Niles’s arm and exclaims that Val is at the door, and promptly dashes from the front room to the front door to bring her inside. Fran says that Val is her best friend, and it is her first time to the mansion. She then says that she wants Val to “drop dead”. Okay…I have a best friend, too, and I certainly don’t want her to drop dead, but I digress…

Niles goes to get the door and allows Fran to pose by the staircase like she owns the place while he opens the door. Wait a minute! In the pilot episode, the staircase and the front door were on the left side of the house, in a considerably different color scheme. Now, both are on the right side of the house and are bathed in swathes of white. I don’t know what’s happening right now…

Val enters the house and again, there’s no applause; fun fact, though, the actress who plays Val is actually Fran’s best friend in real life. Fun… Val proclaims that she’s dropping dead, which gets an uncomfortable laugh from the audience. Niles promptly submits to butler duty pressure and takes Val’s coat, to which Val asks, “Do I get a stub?” like he’s some seedy bouncer at some back-alley nightclub or something. Fran promptly tells Val to move her ass and the pair of them walk like they own the place into the living room, to presumably talk about tea cozies and/or samplers why they’ve never had the need to use them or stitch one. Little note: Val (Rachel Chagall) proceeds to deliver her next line of dialogue during the laugh track, which is really not that smart if you ask me. I got something about the Taj Mahal…she was probably comparing the mansion to it, which is so off base that I’m sure she smoked something before she came over…

Fran and Val gossip and it turns out that Jackie O. Kennedy is Fran’s neighbor. Fran then segways into talking about the kids, and Val claims that Fran has only been their nanny for two weeks, so how could she have done anything beneficial? Fran says that she’s “worked wonders” which is classic sitcom banter for “something’s about to hit the fan”. The kids troop in from school, and Maggie is the first to break the ice with “Shut up, Brighton!” to which her brother has some witty retort to, but then Gracie yells, “You’re giving me a nervous breakdown!” which gets a laugh from the audience. Um, nervous breakdown means potential mental illness and in one so young, it is quite frightening. It’s a wonder that Gracie didn’t become a serial killer or something… Fran says that before the kids never communicated, and pretty much pats herself on the back for their arguing.

Brighton does the classic middle child syndrome (see Stephanie Tanner of “Full House” or Lucy Camden of “7th Heaven”) and proceeds to go into some weird monologue where he speaks in a (German/Russian?) accent and tries to get the whole show all around him. Fran laughs at this so something tells me that this wasn’t scripted, due to the fact that he seems to be fumbling a bit and Maggie and Gracie are looking at him in confusion. Maggie tells Brighton that he, too will get pimples one day if he grows up. Yeah, that’s really going to help the situation… Gracie then announces that both of them hate Brighton, and he pulls a Calvin (Calvin and Hobbs) and says that his work there is done. I’m surprised he didn’t check something off on a calendar or something…

Brighton notices that Fran and Val are having an informal tea party and promptly kneels down to join them. He takes a cookie type thing from the cookie tray (one of those silver numbers with tiers) and proceeds to listen attentively as his elders talk about bad boys from their school days. Fran mentions a boy named Lenny or something and the pair of them proceed to gossip like old hens clucking about laying eggs and talk about this shady Lenny character and about how he got a smoker’s cough in the fourth grade, which screams volumes of neglect. Did CPS step in and take this kid?! Anyhow, Brighton becomes enamoured with the notion of girls throwing themselves on him because he is a bad boy and decides that he should re-make his image.

The scene cuts from the theme song to the kitchen where several plots are going on at once. Niles is presumably making dinner because that’s what butlers do. Gracie is either coloring, doing homework, or some other innocuous activity because that’s what’s expected of the youngest child in the family. Fran is assisting Maggie in some kind of aromatherapy and Brighton passive aggressively tries to get Fran’s attention by waving a crumpled paper in her face. It is soon revealed that there is going to be a carnival at his school, and Fran gets all excited because all women go crazy for carnivals. Max enters the scene and it is revealed that he is opening a musical in eight weeks and he doesn’t have any music. He makes a crude comment about the composer he’s meeting with about the poor man’s age and Fran brings up the carnival. Max gives his permission for Fran to take the children and Fran says that Max should come too. Max says that he’s too busy and Brighton imitates his lack of feeling or consideration for their well-being. Maxwell says that Brighton shouldn’t be so smart; that Gracie should take smaller bites (we are greeted to a true Michelle Tanner shot of Gracie sucking on an orange which is an illusion if I’ve ever seen one); and then tells Maggie to be more outgoing. Harsh…

Fran admits in the next scene that she flunked facials at beauty school and proceeds to make Maggie’s blemish into a mole. Fran proclaims that Maggie looks like Cindy Crawford and Maggie disdainfully replies that she looks like John Boy Walton. Brighton enters the scene and tells Maggie that she looks really beautiful. In stereotypical older sister fashion, Maggie promptly asks, “And?” to which Brighton, albeit shakily, tells her that she does look really nice. Maggie, not suspecting a thing, immediately says, “Shut up, Brighton!” and leaves the scene. Fran immediately suspects that Brighton is up to something due to his faux politeness and demands to know who Brighton killed. Okay… Brighton demands to know why people always think the worst of him and Fran coldly replies, “It saves time.” Brighton then gives Fran a lame story about how they did handwriting analysis in school, and about how all of a sudden he’s vulnerable. Fran takes the bait and says that he can analyze her handwriting to which Brighton produces a piece of paper, which is clearly a note. Fran snags it and tells us that it is a note from the headmaster, and it is revealed that Brighton was caught smoking. Brighton tells her that he was holding it for a friend, and Fran immediately goes to tell Max, but Brighton blackmails her into thinking that it was her fault by reminding her of a little conversation she had with Val. Fran understandably freaks out, knowing that her job could be at stake, and agrees to keep Brighton’s dirty little secret.

Fran hangs out with Niles in the kitchen and, because she is so stressed, smokes a cigarette. Wouldn’t everyone smell it? And why does Niles allow her to smoke in the kitchen? You want ham pie with a side of ash tonight, Mr. Sheffield? Fran makes a point of saying that she has to deal with her problems and not resort to smoking, which is actually really smart. Then she turns to food. Real mature…

Fran interrupts the composer session with this yuppie guy in a bad sweater who’s all in your face and exactly the kind of guy you would never consider giving your number to if you ran into him in a bar. Fran stalls for time but manages to get it out there that Brighton is the child she is talking about. She then says that when her and Val were talking and then says that the house is really nice and says, “Now that’s a lovely painting. Who are those people?” which is actually kind of funny. C.C. butts in that Fran can’t take care of the children on her own and Max is all ready to shoo a worrying Fran from the room. Max then tells Fran that he is giving her carte blanche to which Fran merely says, “All right,” and leaves the room. She tells Niles that it went better than she expected and Niles rightly ascertains that Fran didn’t tell on Brighton, and Fran essentially tells him to forget about it.

After commercial, Fran is serving herself some eggs for breakfast and Niles comes in with crepes. Yum. He offers her some decadent-looking syrup for said crepe and Fran makes it seem like Niles is giving her the third degree on Brighton. She claims she intends to punish Brighton and that it’s Max’s fault because he never listens to her. Max joins the scene and says that he was thinking about what Fran said and that he’s decided to accompany all of them to the carnival. Fran beats around the bush in order not to go to the carnival, and Max understandably becomes suspicious. Brighton demands that Fran do something in a rather loud whisper, and it is a wonder that Maxwell doesn’t look up from his soft boiled eggs. Fran finally drops the ball on Brighton smoking like it’s nothing and then she and Brighton go on and on to Niles about how good his crepes are. Max then tells Maggie and Gracie to leave the table (after eating for less than two minutes?!).

Max demands to know why Brighton smoked and Brighton gives several panicked glances to Fran, and she finally looks as if she wouldn’t mind if he fessed up about the story. Finally, Max gives the, “You still haven’t answered me, and my time is precious,” reply, to which Brighton proclaims, “I didn’t inhale!” which gets screams, shouts, and applauds from the audience. Wait, what? Max says that Brighton’s reasoning is pathetic and lame and sends him to his room, to which Fran attempts to make a run for it, and Max tells her not to leave. Fran and Max then get into a fight about miscommunication and Fran then proclaims that Max had chocolate cake yesterday, and that therefore low blood sugar is at fault here. They keep fighting until Max grabs a coat and hat and tells Fran to go to her room. Again, harsh…

We are greeted to a shot of a theater where “Les Miserables” is playing; fyi, if you haven’t seen it, please do, it’s amazing. Max and C.C. are treated to a song where this woman is belting out something like this, “I’m in love/I’m in love/I’m in love” where she stresses the final word and does a dip thingy at the end of it. Max demands that someone fire the casting director because this woman is somehow “wrong”. Owch. C.C. seems to like this new forceful attitude from Max, but he has to go and ruin it all by discussing how art forms are sacred and how he needs someone instantly recognizable. Immediately, Carol Channing walks in, and proceeds to sing, to white Max yells, “Next!” much to her disappointment. Carol Channing was actually born in the same city as I was. I never knew that…

Fran enters the scene and is overwhelmed by the presence of Carol Channing, to which the latter tells her that Max is tough and then says, “Break a leg, honey…his.” Fran then announces her love for Carol Channing, to which the pianist tells her to pick a song. Fran picks “People” in E flat, and strikes a Broadway pose, to which Maxwell says in an exasperated tone, “Miss Fine…!” Max joins Fran up on stage and Fran says that you shouldn’t leave things with unresolved issues, which is very sensible. Fran tells him that is why men die young, to which Maxwell says, “No, it isn’t. It’s because they want to.” Fran admits that Brighton got the whole smoking idea from a story that she told, and said that she didn’t know that Brighton would potentially see the Lenny story as a challenge. I can see it as an LMN movie now, “Smoker at Nine: The Lenny Lastname Story”. Fran says that she is the worst nanny in the world, but then amends that statement and says that Rebecca De Mornay was worse than she was. Fran says that she wants to cut out her tongue, and then gives Max a free pass to fire her. Max tells her that he’s not going to fire her, and then they make a crack about mutually sounding like their parents. Fran admits that she’s confused as to why Brighton didn’t rat on her, and Max then comes to the conclusion that Brighton must like her. Max then brings up Sara, his dead wife, and says that Brighton feared her, and Fran gets the shocking idea that they have to scare Brighton so badly that he’ll never smoke again. Fran says that they have to speak to the High Priestess of Punishment, and promptly finds a rotary phone (which seriously looks like an ancient set piece) and dials up her mother.

We are greeted with a shot of an imposing-looking brick building, and it really begs the question as to why this was deemed necessary and appropriate to show us. Fran, Max, and Brighton enter what appears to be an old age home, and Fran says, “Grandma Yetta?” and then it cuts and a decrepit-looking woman asks, “Yeah?” and holy shit it’s Ann Guilbert! Fran reintroduces herself to her grandmother, which gets a jolly out of the audience. Jeez, first you laugh at mental illness and now memory problems. You’re a cold, cold group of people, audience…

Fran suggests that Brighton and Yetta go out for a smoke later, to which Brighton grips onto his father’s suit jacket like a little girl and gives a fearful expression as he vehemently shakes his head. Yetta calls Max “Morty”, who is Fran’s father. Max looks around awkwardly, almost as if he’s never met anyone senile before. Max offers Yetta some Babka, which, according to a quick internet search and the help of Wikipedia, is a “sweet yeast cake”; you would think the audience would know by now that Max was in possession of a cake, due to the stereotypical pink box…

Fran formally introduces Brighton to Yetta, and Yetta makes her hands about a foot or so apart and proclaims that she hasn’t seen Brighton since he was that big. What is he, a child or a hunk of salami? Brighton attempts to do a child’s version of a cop out by informing Fran that he “gets the point” and does what any man would do in an uncomfortable situation: make for the exit. Fran refuses to allow him to pull out and shoves the boy at Yetta. Max and Fran tell Yetta that Brighton was caught smoking and approximately five seconds or so of cuddling him, she promptly shoves him away in disgust. He makes it a point of comparing his habit with hers, but Yetta tells him that it doesn’t matter. Yetta proclaims that they will go meet Ethel, who she describes as “phlegm in a hairnet”. Brighton demands not to meet Ethel, and Max and Fran look on in delight.

Max makes the fatal mistake of asking Fran to go out for coffee and eating the Babka. Wait a minute, I thought they were going to give it to Yetta and put it into her room…? Anyhow, all the old folks are suddenly pro athletes and make a beeline for Max. Max uses his sporting skills to his advantage and throws the poor cake onto a coffee table, whereupon the old people promptly surround it. This leaves Fran and Max to look on uncomfortably, with the hopes that they’ll get out of there quickly. Wait, what happened to the carnival…?