“Here Comes the Brood” SNEAK PEEK

With Fran’s day off looming, C.C. reveals during a day trip to the zoo with the children (while covering for Fran) that Fran doesn’t care about them and that she gets paid to spend time with them.

Will Fran be able to comfort little Gracie?

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Season 1, Episode 4 “The Nuchslep”

We are greeted again with the shot of a brownstone-like-manor house that seriously thinks it is in some high-bred European neighborhood or something. Never mind. Moving on… There is some bad sneezing going on which leads me to believe that someone has a cold, and due to its high pitch, I think it’s safe to say that this particular “someone” is a woman. And then it’s Niles. Nice…

Fran, like the kind and considerate woman she is, asks Niles if he is all right. Niles replies that he is “looking a bit queer”, and we have to remember that this was 1993. The audience laughs at this and Fran gives a subtle snide look to one of the cameras, indicating that she is as a-okay with homosexuality as I am. But then she says, “Don’t ask, don’t tell. But for god’s sakes, come out of the closet.” Not the direction I thought they were going to go with, but we can’t be right all the time!

Fran does the old “kiss my forehead to see if I’m feverish” trick and sure enough, Niles has a fever of 99-point something…I wasn’t listening. They mosey into the kitchen where the kids are perched around the isle and Fran informs Niles that she’ll tell him when dinner is ready. This gets a chorus of “YOU?!” from everyone involved, which leads me to believe that Fran can’t cook and frequently resorted to take-out… Niles heads upstairs to get some rest and Fran calls some potentially racist-for-comedic-effect Chinese mad-libs restaurant called something like “Fung-Lumbs”… She wants the family dinner, and says that she is in the mood for shrimp, and pulls a Danny Tanner when she asks Gracie (like Danny frequently would with Michelle) what she feels like. Gracie claims that she feels trapped, which is yet another example of her potential mental illness, and the audience laughs at the poor girl. Nice. Max joins them and demands to know where Niles is in stereotypical teenage girl fashion. Fran explains the situation and uses the fact that they are ordering Chinese food as a way to improve the children’s culture. Max then forks over a wad of cash and asks Fran to make sure that Gracie gets an “optimistic fortune this time”. So they’ve HAD Chinese food before…?!

Apparently the family has waited an hour and a half for their dinner, which leads me to believe that this is Friday night or tourist season. The doorbell rings as if on cue and Maggie goes to get it, and is delighted to discover Eddie on the threshold. Eddie gets a teenage boner which consists of him giving her this really creepy smile as Fran politely invites him in. Gracie asks about them kissing whereupon Maggie says, “Goodnight, Gracie!” which is actually pretty funny. Brighton then does the middle child thing where he claims that Maggie never stops talking about him. Subtle, but then Fran kicks and he blames her for everything, whereupon the younger children leave with the greasy to-go bags. Long story short, Eddie turns out to have flaming man feelings for Maggie, and after an uncomfortable giggling session with Fran, Fran decides to leave them alone.

Fran is caught eavesdropping by Niles and she demands to know why he isn’t resting in his shoebox of a bedroom (for the record, we haven’t seen it yet, but it’s probably a pathetic display of architecture). Niles says that he took a hit of eucalyptus while upstairs and had a dream about mating with a koala, to which Gracie says she’s dreamt about that, too. Maggie comes in and reveals that Eddie has asked her out after Fran interrogates her like some drunk sorority girl. Brighton demands in his annoying playful tone who is going to tell Max. Dilemma!

Max comes into his office with C.C. at his heels whereupon it is revealed that it is her birthday and after some playful banter, Max agrees to give C.C. her gift. He makes her sit down on that leather couch of his and gets down on one knee. That’s your first mistake there, buddy. He then says that she’s been alone too long. Mistake number two… He then says that she needs someone to love her, and Niles enters with a pomeranian dressed in a sweater probably knitted by Grandma Yetta. C.C. asks, “An engagement dog?” and Max is confused, but C.C. then proclaims, “What an engaging dog!” and grabs the poor thing, who growls in disgust, making Niles happy. Max explains to C.C. that dogs need the opportunity to become used to their owners, and Fran comes in and the dog (who actually belongs to Fran in real life) gets all excited and starts loving on the nanny. Fran proclaims that C.C. should name him Chester, and C.C. vehemently grabs him back, whereupon we are greeted with another snarl. Fran tells Max to buy C.C. a toaster oven or something after C.C. leaves with the dog.

Fran shuts the door to the office, which makes me think that Max is anticipating some form of heavy petting. Fran beats around the bush as to her being there, and finally cuts to the chase at Max’s urging, revealing that Maggie was asked out on a date, giving the time, but not the who. Max says that’s no problem, and then tells Fran that Maggie is not allowed to go anywhere. Wow, harsh! He then becomes annoyed and exasperated when his control is threatened by Fran saying yes. Max then asks if he knows this boy, which is a reasonable question. Fran tells Max that it is Eddie, who is delivering Chinese food for $4.25 an hour plus tips in order to go to Yale, which Max is impressed with, to study drama, which he’s less than thrilled with. Fran then says that he can’t shelter Maggie forever, which is true, and that she’ll sneak out to get felt up in a truck on some back road if he doesn’t watch his step. Max then gives his permission, but Fran must chaperone the date and Fran pouts like a three-year-old for being caught living vicariously. Fran tries to ease Maggie’s feelings by breaking it to her gently, but Maggie is all for it due to her nerves of not living up to her nun standards of self-control.

Apparently “nuchslep” means chaperone, and when Fran and Maggie arrive at the movie theater, the seats look really uncomfortable and are covered with that cheap red wool that makes wearing shorts in the summer a living hell. Maggie asks for Fran’s advice on how the date is going and Fran essentially tells Maggie that she’s being a mouse and to fucking communicate with this gorgeous guy who likes her. Fran talks about her first date and how she was able to talk, and tells Maggie to do the same. Eddie returns with three massive drinks and popcorn, and Maggie screams at him in this high-pitched, whiny voice that really grates on the eardrum. Thankfully the movie starts soon afterwards with Maggie looking uncomfortable.

Niles makes Belgian waffles for breakfast the next morning and Maggie’s head is down contaminating her food. Max asks how the date was, and makes it a point to let her know that her hair is in the syrup. The table syrup or her own personal syrup? Because either way, she’ll have to wash her hair or Niles will have to go shopping… It is revealed that Fran dominated the date with jokes and funny stories and Maggie says that she’s never going to see Eddie again because she is worthless and pathetic and unlovable and a slew of other negative adjectives, which prompts Gracie to ask, in Michelle Tanner fashion, if she may have Maggie’s waffle, because she believes her older sister should be allowed to starve, too.

Meanwhile, as Max comforts Maggie, the telephone rings and Niles goes off to fetch it to stop the disturbance of the family meal. Niles comes in, 1990’s phone in hand, and proclaims that “Master Eddie” is on the phone for Fran. Fran is shocked at this declaration in her pale blue flowery bathrobe, while Maggie looks disappointed. Fran speaks to Eddie with a series of “uh-huh’s” and barely any other pleasantries, and the third “uh-huh” makes the audience crazy; Fran then bids him goodbye. Fran then says that Eddie wants to see her Friday night, and then asks for the syrup, and Maggie makes some snide comments while Brighton tries to turn the whole thing into mud wrestling. Maggie then declares that Eddie was her boyfriend (yet five seconds ago she said she wasn’t going to see him again) and throws down her napkin (the second time now) and proclaims that she hates Fran. Harsh…

After the commercial break, Max tries to put a Band-Aid on the situation by asking Maggie if she would like to go to Rumplemeyer’s for some ice cream. I assume that it is later in the day, as Fran’s hair is fixed and she is dressed. Maggie then screams, “CAN’T YOU JUST LET ME DIE IN PEACE?!” At that point, my own mother would probably either demand respect from me or just leave me alone. Fran and Max them blame each other for Maggie’s and Eddie’s relationship going awry, while Niles innocently stands by dusting…all that’s missing is a French maid outfit. Fran then compares their failing with Maggie to baby birds, and then Max mentions death. So is Maggie having boyfriend trouble or does someone think she’s going to die now…? Max then says that Fran has no boundaries, which is the classic sign of autism. I know; I have it. Max then says that she is more like Maggie’s girlfriend than her nanny, which makes Fran all hot and bothered and proclaims that he is a genius before splitting to braid Maggie’s hair…or something.

Maggie fondles a panda bear on her flower comforter as she leans against some pillows found in Sleeping Beauty’s bedroom as Fran knocks on the door. Fran is greeted with a harsh, “GO AWAY!” Fran offers Maggie some Mallomars, which Wikipedia calls “chocolate covered marshmallow treats”, and Maggie claims she is too depressed to eat. Fran tells Maggie that friends, as she considers the two of them, don’t steal boyfriends, and then says that all these guys were crazy for her but never fell in love with Val. Owch. Fran then brings up the O.G.C., the Official Girlfriend’s Code, which is a totally real thing, much like the “Bro Code”. The rules are as follows: 1. Never gossip about your best friend (a totally moronic rule that nobody follows); 2. If a girl falls for a guy, and the guy falls for the best friend, then the friend has to dump them. I’m starting to think that the second rule only applies to this situation… Fran then says she’ll “dump” Eddie, and Maggie wants a Mallomar, but Fran has eaten the whole box.

Fran goes on and on about rules of the O.G.C., and apparently there are at least twenty-seven rules, if not more. She feels she looks good (although Maggie’s outfit is more my style) and that she has to look hot in order to dump Eddie. Maggie tells Fran to destroy Eddie, and Fran seems willing to do so. Maggie asks to listen, and Fran points her to the butler’s pantry (which mysteriously disappeared after the first season) where they find Niles already listening. I guess that’s how he gets his kicks… Fran answers the door and calls him “Ed”, but he doesn’t get it, offering up some spare ribs, which Fran thinks is a wooing tactic. Fran goes on and on about how Eddie is so into her, and he doesn’t understand, looking about as innocent as a puppy on Christmas. Eddie is amused after he figures out the situation, and then almost claims that Fran is old enough to be his mother, but quickly says “sister” instead. Fran then thinks she’s being dumped, but is told she is being bribed with the ribs because he wants Fran to give Max his picture and resume. OH, so the kid wants a job! I get it…

Fran asks why Eddie didn’t ask Maggie and Eddie says that he doesn’t want her to think he’s just using her because he really likes her. He then admits that he doesn’t mind using Fran, because it’s not the same. Fran agrees to give Eddie’s information to Max and, since this is the 1990’s, it’s all in a neat little manilla envelope. Sweet. Eddie then wants to take Maggie out on a walk so he can make out with her without Fran or somebody else breathing down their necks. Fran opens the butler’s pantry to discover everyone behind it and each member of the family makes up an excuse as to why they are there. Fran then pimps Maggie out and she asks her father’s permission before potentially getting some action, and he lets her go. Max uses Fran’s analogy at allowing Maggie to grow up, and Fran appreciates it.

C.C. enters after Niles announces her with some sort of dead red-furred creature about her neck, prompting shocked expressions from Fran and Max, the latter of whom is probably upset at all the money he shelled out for poor Chester. C.C. gives the, “What did I do?” expression that sitcoms have always been known for. Chester then bounds into the kitchen and Fran takes him into her arms, proclaiming that he must watch himself, because C.C. may need a muff. I wonder if it was before or after that expression meant something other than a Victorian accessory…

Season 1, Episode 3 “My Fair Nanny”

Brighton and Maxwell troop down the grand staircase like innocent school children and Fran makes a bouncy entrance and hands over baseball equipment, leading me to believe that they’re about to have some manly bonding time. If their baseball hats weren’t another tip off that they desperately want to ditch Fran, the latter asks Maxwell where his cap is. He gives the lame old excuse that he’s not a cap person, and Fran pressures him into putting it on. He does, and it gets a laugh from the studio audience, and Fran accuses him of not being cool, and does that stupid 1990’s white people trend that became a “gangster” trend subsequently in the next century by flipping his cap backwards and officially proclaiming him cool. What a concept!

Fran then announces that she and Gracie are going to the park. Wait a minute, isn’t a baseball diamond AT a park? And they’re not carpooling because…? Gracie comes downstairs and announces her anxiety, informing Fran that she’s reluctant to fly a kite because of “Mary Poppins” or something. Fran compares Gracie’s kite to a guy (what is she, five or six?!) and tells her that at the end of the day, when she’s an adult, she will be allowed to grab a guy by his balls and show him who’s boss. This comforts the mentally ill girl who makes a comment that leads me to believe she will probably be a serial killer someday.

The next scene opens at the breakfast table with Fran yet again in inappropriate breakfast attire: this time it is a coral-colored robe. Fran quizzes someone on a geography test and asks about the capital of Peru. Gracie immediately shouts “Lima!”, which I knew, and Fran congratulates her, and then gives Brighton a non-encouraging spheel about how Gracie can’t fit into his bookbag and help him cheat. Brighton then claims he doesn’t need to be a genius, because he will be a producer like his father, which gets a rather rude look from Maxwell. In a desperate attempt to get the studio audience to laugh, Brighton promptly says, “Who said that?”

C.C. enters with Niles and quickly sidesteps him and shows off her faux fur sleeves before sashaying up to Maxwell and proclaiming that she has fabulous news of some kind. She says she was at Elizabeth Arden getting a beauty regimen that she desperately needed for her over-forty and barely one egg left personality and asks people to guess who was under the next turban. Gracie, in all of her little girl not being P.C. glory immediately deduces that C.C. has met Aladdin. Dream big, little one, dream big… C.C. says she ran into some rich lady named Maureen Wentworth who was probably taking a break from sorting out blankets or little trinkets for the Red Cross and Maxwell doesn’t know who she is. Once he is reminded that Mrs. Wentworth invested $50,000 in their last show, he immediately turns on the charm and asks how the dear lady is doing. Fran is shocked by the sum, as I was when I adjusted it for inflation: $83,342.14 in today’s standards. Fran calls it a “lousy play”, and I was surprised that Maxwell didn’t just go ahead and fire her right then.

C.C. tells the Sheffield clan that Maureen Wentworth is part of THE Wentworth family which came over on the Mayflower. Upon examining Google, there were indeed Wentworths of that period who could have conceivably been on board the Mayflower. It takes a moment for Fran to fully understand and appreciate this, but she quickly turns the conversation to clothing and demands to know what the Wentworths would have packed, due to the fact that they didn’t have weather channels in the 1600’s. She then says that she is unsure if they could pull of a big hat, big collar, AND a big buckle. C.C. grows exasperated and wants to continue with telling Maxwell about a big investor we’ve never heard about before and probably never will again.

C.C. continues with the conversation and totally acts like Maggie’s mother and in so doing signs her up to be a junior debutante, something that upsets Maggie. Uh, yeah, especially that Maxwell and Fran are all for it and nobody seems to care what she wants. C.C. says that it would be a wonderful opportunity for Maggie in the long-run, and that she’d be able to find an appropriate husband. Gracie points out that C.C. never got married, prompting a note of sympathy from the audience. Maggie reiterates her disinterest in becoming a potential socialite-turned-whore and Maxwell says that it would help because Maggie is essentially a nun who never leaves the house, and Maggie says that she likes who she is. Fran says that Maggie is being afforded a wonderful opportunity and, in a bid for attention, Maggie throws her cloth napkin on the table in a huff and says she doesn’t want to be a debutante before hurrying from the room.

Maggie goes into the living room where Fran joins her, and Maggie demands to know why C.C. feels the need to butt into her social life. Fran asks what social life Maggie is talking about, which is kind of harsh if you ask me. Fran says that the house should be full of sweaty teenagers who need to call each other names in order to get off of their track of being seemingly polite children. Maggie expresses insecurities over the popular girls at her high school and Fran tells Maggie that she’s smart and gorgeous and then I think she mentions her bra size…nice. Fran tells her that all cliques are the same in high school and gives her pointers on how to infiltrate the pack lifestyle. Fran tells Maggie about safe topics of conversation, and Marky Mark comes up (a.k.a. Mark Wahlberg, who starred in such films as “Ted” and the latest “Transformers” movie that nobody in their right mind bothered to see in public). Maggie compares it to a war, and Fran replies, “War is just hell. This is high school.”

Fran and the kids sit in the living room, presumably that afternoon or the following afternoon; Maggie is on the phone; Brighton is kneeling beside his favorite table; and Fran is showing Gracie a magazine with Bobby Sherman, and Gracie isn’t too impressed with his hair. Gracie confides in Fran that she’s torn between Barney and Ted Koppel, who is an American broadcast journalist. Thanks, Wikipedia! Fran says that Bobby Sherman could sing, and that Gracie should hear his records. “What’s a record?” asks the little girl, prompting an “oy” from Fran and every last sane person in the audience.

We get a little insight to Maggie’s phone conversation (as well as the rather large cordless her house sports) and it’s quickly apparent that she’s talking to Cindy, the most popular girl in school. They discuss a boy that Cindy reportedly likes and Maggie asks if she doesn’t think that this guy looks just like Marky Mark. Fran is pleased that Maggie is sucking up. Okay…

C.C. is allowed in by Niles and promptly demands to know where Maxwell is. Niles replies that he was feeling a bit under the weather but that he’s doing much better, but C.C. doesn’t give a shit. She says that Maxwell needs some important-looking contracts dropped off in London by the next morning, and Niles offers up his broom and says with the time difference, C.C. should make it to London in time. Haha, Niles just called C.C. a witch! Classic!

Maggie reveals to the audience that Cindy is a Wentworth and that Cindy would like to know what to bring, presumably meaning that there’s going to be some kind of party. C.C. panicks because these women are supposedly her best friends and she doesn’t want to look bad by association. She goes on to say that Fran has no style, flair, or social sophistication, but Fran either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about C.C.’s high and mighty opinion. Fran attempts to give C.C. some background on her past so as to let her know that the party will go off without a hitch. C.C. makes Fran feel insecure due to her hawk-like personality, leaving Fran in the dust as she leaves.

Maxwell and Niles are in his office, Niles pouring Maxwell some tea, and Maxwell tossing around the baseball and telling Niles that he’s getting the hand of baseball and is “rather enjoying it”, prompting Niles to tell him not to throw the ball in the house. Maxwell urges Niles out into the hall and promptly breaks an ancient vase, to which Niles claims that it will be one less thing to dust. Maxwell decides to pay bills and finds one for the fortune teller Fran hired for the party, prompting Maxwell to have second thoughts about Fran hosting the event. Fran comes in seeking reassurance but feels let down when she discovers that Maxwell and Niles have no faith in her either. Fran says she doesn’t want to embarrass Maggie, and promptly launches into a tale of her mother picking her up from school in a halter top and pedal pushers that still gives her nightmares. Maxwell and Niles come up with a list of differences between Fran and society ladies which makes Fran annoyed. They then decide to turn her into C.C.

After the commercial break, Maxwell and Niles have worked for hours it seems to make Fran into a high society woman. By stuffing her face with marbles, Maxwell attempts to teach her round tones, but she spits out the marbles. They attempt to get her to say something about a guy named Mark who was going after some innocent bird in Central Park after dark, to which Fran says that she hopes Mark has a gun. They then move into the living room where Fran attempts to walk with a book on her head, but she complains that its flattening her hair, and Maxwell and Niles complain about the way her hips move when she walks. Niles says that they should move on to conversation, and states that the weather, current events, and literature are always appropriate topics to discuss. They then complain about her laugh and Fran looks upset.

In the next scene, Maxwell tears Fran’s closet apart by tossing each and every article of clothing he comes across onto Fran’s bed. He then finds a “beige frock”, to which Fran tells him that it is her dress bag. The trio then go into the dining room and attempt to teach Fran about silverware and Fran keeps fucking up. They attempt to tell her that their salad course is coming and she picks up her shrimp fork, to which she says that she’s ordered an imaginary shrimp salad. Fran then drinks her finger bowl water, which really sets Maxwell on edge for some reason.

The scene cuts to the following day and we are greeted to a scene awash with various non-threatening colors and what appears to be boring and harmless conversation. Niles and Maxwell make some sort of harmless homoeriotic jokes between them when their version of how Fran should be enters the scene looking kind of frightening with flat hair and what appears not to be the garment bag on her person. She then greets random people who ignore her and then says, “How now, brown cow?” to some large woman dressed in an abysmal brown suit. C.C. talks to Maureen Wentworth and Maureen sees Fran on Maxwell’s arm, prompting jealousy from the former, while Maureen compliments the outfit Fran is wearing, which Niles thanks her for.

Maureen and Fran are introduced, and Fran actually says her R’s, which just sounds as if we’re in “The Twilight Zone” or something. The scene cuts briefly to Maggie and what appears to be Cindy and all her minions and Maggie looks worried because she’s probably seen Fran in all her normal glory and worries for her party’s sake. Maureen asks Fran about an artifact of Maxwell’s and asks if it is Mayan, to which Fran replies, “No. It’s Hisin” referring to Maxwell. Niles and Maxwell give Maureen a cucumber sandwich and Fran says that she’s had the seeds removed to avoid gas, prompting a scolding from Niles and Maxwell. Brighton then tries to score with Cindy, but is rebuffed, because he’s ten or something and she’s fourteen.

Fran tells two more society women about the apparent death of her uncle, which makes them understandably uncomfortable. Maggie comes over and demands to know why she isn’t being inaugurated into the popular girls and Fran makes a case for the day being classy and fun. Maggie, irate, claims that this is the worst party she’s ever been to, loud enough for everyone to hear to make Fran feel even more guilty. Maggie is left to cry by herself in the kitchen until Fran enters, to which Maggie says that she liked the party that they planned, and wondered what happened to it. Fran says that she thought this party would be better, and she doesn’t throw Maxwell or Niles under the bus, which really didn’t make sense to me. She does throw C.C. under the bus, however, which really makes it all the better. Maggie says that she can’t believe that Fran “dressed up like a geek and ruined her party”, but that it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her. Fran tells her not to mention it. Ever. Maggie tells Fran to be herself, and then they say that they want to be like each other, and then want to kill C.C. Nice…

The party is now in full swing, thanks to the harpist attempting to play along to the pop music and Brighton still trying to score with Cindy. AND WHERE THE HELL IS GRACIE THROUGH ALL THIS?!?!?!

Fran and Maureen bond over Maureen telling Fran her people came over on the Mayflower and they can trace them back for five hundred years. Fran says that her family landed on Ellis Island, got their names changed, and that all the records were lost. Cindy sees Maxwell at the make-your-own-sundae bar and says that he’s cute. Brighton seizes the opportunity and says that people say that they look alike. Cindy replies, “They lied”, which is actually pretty cold. Maureen and Fran eat Rice Krispy Treats and Maureen wants the recipe for her cook but Fran tells her to shut up and buy the cereal herself. Maureen tells Maxwell that she wants to invest in his new show, and he assures her that he thinks it’s going to be a hit. Maureen says that the fortune teller told her about it, and we see C.C. with her then, and wants to know if she has a shot with Maxwell, but the fortune teller denies it.

Cindy says that she has to leave because she’s under eighteen and is required by law as a guest star to have even less screen time. Brighton offers her a ride home in the limo, to which Cindy accepts, which has disgusting written all over it, and I hope she’s kidding, because she doesn’t want to get arrested. Brighton freaks out at the prospect of a pubescent girl within reach that isn’t his sister or his nanny and runs out of the room, and Cindy and Maggie seal their friendship with some sort of awkward high five type thing that is so 1990’s it’s weird.

Maggie thanks Fran for making the party perfect, but really she’s just glad for getting everything she wanted. Maxwell then says that he never doubted Fran’s capability of pulling it off for a minute, and Fran gives him the whole “mmm-hmmm” reply that we all know, love, and expect from sitcom women. Maggie encourages Fran to pick first from the grab bag, and for two seconds she does the whole, “Who? Me? You want ME to pick?! I wasn’t going to… Okay.” And then she picks the tin foil wrapped gift, which is also known as the best gift at the party. And everybody learns a valuable lesson.

And where was Gracie?!?!?!

“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…?