Monday, October 18, 2004

Joan of Arcadia - The Cat 

This week we meet Larry the Feral Cat, whom Cat Lady God convinces Joan to adopt. Joan throws herself whole-heartedly into the project despite her pre-existing loathing for cats. Just when she finds that she's making progress and has grown attached to Larry, Helen's abrasive visiting Aunt Helen (played magnificently by Cloris Leachman) suffers a stroke and moves into the house while she recuperates. Helen insists that Olive hates cats and shouldn't be made more upset than she already is, so Larry's got to go.

Adam, who has been battling with Helen over a pop art project (it's not his thing, but it unfortunately is his assignment), agrees to keep Larry in the shed/studio and to do all the things you're supposed to do according to the pamphlet on feral cats. Turns out that Larry takes to Adam a whole lot more than to Joan (whom he scratched repeatedly), and in turn inspires Adam in terms of his pop art project. By the way, there's an Andy Warhol exhibit going on in Brattleboro, VT, as we discovered on our foliage drive last weekend. Helen is so impressed that she encourages Adam to seek a career in commercial art as a way to pay the bills, while still doing his own art on the side. Sounds like a sellout, but then again while being a starving artist may allow you to be true to your own creative ideals, it doesn't do you much good if you're living on the street because you can't pay the rent.

Friedman is still tirelessly pursuing Judith, who has made it clear that drunken kissing aside, she is never, ever going to go out with him. Unless he memorizes Hamlet in its entirety. We don't see how that turns out, so perhaps we'll be blessed with less Friedman for the next couple of episodes, while he's off sweating his lines.

Helen totally loses her cool and calls Aunt Olive an ungrateful bitch. Wow - was that over the top as far as being out of line goes. This is a woman whose husband died on their honeymoon decades earlier, and who has spent the rest of her life independently traveling the world. Now she's at least temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, with limited mobility in one arm, living with mainstream (on the surface at least) relatives in Maryland. Cut her some slack.

Joan does her best to help Olive out, but to no avail. However, it would seem that one middle of the night heart to heart with fellow wheelchair racer Kevin does the trick. The next morning Olive's up at the crack of dawn to teach Helen her secret paella recipe, everyone bonds over a rather savory and not at all light breakfast (except Luke - more later), then off camera Olive takes off to get together with her herbalist to work on getting out of the wheelchair. But she left a note.

Meanwhile, Grace is dancing around opening up a bit about her homelife to Luke, who is desperate to let her know he's listening. Unfortunately most of this opening up occurs over IM, during which someone comes into the room and one or the other must log off. Finally, just before the paella fest, Grace lets it out: My mother drinks. Grace then logs off. Luke rushes out of the house and tracks Grace down at school, and she gives in to a full body hug with her head resting on Luke's shoulder.

At the police headquarters of the puzzling lighting, both yellow and red made return appearances, but in less featured roles. Prominently featured was Annie Potts (Yay!), as an Internal Affairs detective (Lt. Lucy Preston) investigating the latest corruption. Turns out that the street detectives were the bad guys, but Roebuck resigns since he's the one that brought them over from Arson. I'm not that upset, because Roebuck was kind of boring. The good news - Annie Potts is taking over the department. Whee!!! That place was way too much a boys' club. Will's partner Toni was the only woman in sight, and she vanished without a trace after a few episodes. I can see Helen and Lucy bonding. One question - are they doing some sort of Pretty in Pink running homage? First with the Ducky references at the party of coma drinking, and now Annie Potts. Not that I'd mind if they slowly brought in the rest of the cast for appearances - James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, Margaret Colin and Gina Gershon would all be good to start with.

The episode ends in the park, with Helen, Joan and Adam all chasing Runaway Larry, who broke out of the shed by ripping through a screen, but who it seems will be willing to be caught, if they can get him out of a tree. Joan's upset with Cat Lady God because Joan thought her assignment was to change Larry. CLG assures Joan that running is Larry's nature, and that he wasn't the one she was helping with change. The camera then focuses on Adam's Lost Cat posters, with a very pop arty drawing of Larry.

It was nice seeing Kevin being neither self-pitying nor an asshole, and it was also good to see Grace letting people in a bit more. It bothered me that Aunt Olive was turned around so quickly, though. I anticipated this being at least a three episode arc. While I repeat my request that Grace not be turned into a smitten teen, I feel more comfortable that this won't happen. She's always going to have the dark edge, but perhaps now she won't let it keep her isolated from everyone else.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:45 AM