Fame - Season 1, Episode 15
Recap: During dance class, Doris and Danny have problems with their footwork and trip over their own feet, causing everyone else to trip and land in a heap around them. Ms. Grant snarks at them for their horrific dancing abilities - though it's really just a half-hearted snark, since the two aren't dance majors and little is expected of their leaps and twirls. After class, Ms. Grant asks Danny and Leroy to hang back, then tells them she has "a little job" for them to do. They ask her if it's a paying job, and she nods and cleverly replies, "A couple of hundred dollars will definitely be exchanging hands."
Danny and Leroy look dismayed when they learn that their "little job" is buying props for the upcoming show. Leroy grumbles, "I dunno nuthin' about gettin' props" and Ms. Grant assures him he's perfectly capable of learning this new skill. She cuts them a check for $200 and makes them sign a receipt, guaranteeing that the money will be spent only on approved items. She then tells them to go out and just find the cheapest crap available.
Mrs. Berg informs Mr. Shorofsky that he received a phone message from a woman named Frieda Grauer, and he suddenly gets a faraway look in his eyes. Miss Sherwood enters the office at that moment and asks him whassup, then says he looks like he just heard from a bill collector. He spacily replies, "I have, in a way."
During music class, Mr. Shorofsky throws away the message from Frieda, then gets all bitchy with his class and starts railing incoherently at Bruno. When he finally notices that everyone is staring at him, wide-eyed and aghast, he stops railing, apologizes for his outburst, and urges them to continue playing.
Miss Sherwood tells her class that their next assignment will be to keep a diary. Leroy blurts out, "No way!" and Doris jokes, "If I wrote down my dreams, I'd get arrested!" Ugh, Doris. Even that is too much information. Danny says it's generally a bad idea to write stuff down that could be held against you, so Miss Sherwood explains that a diary is private, and that writing down your thoughts and dreams is a good way to communicate with yourself. She reads them a passage from a diary kept by a young girl named Anne Frank, then tells them that their assignment is to read The Diary of Anne Frank and also keep their own diary for a month. She says she hopes they'll learn something about themselves.
Mr. Shorofsky is in his apartment, looking at old black and white photos of who I'll assume is Frieda. The phone rings, and a really old looking answering machine picks up the call. (I didn't think anyone had an answering machine in the early '80s.) It's Frieda, calling to tell him she's in New York to attend a banquet/dinner thing. She tells him where she's staying, says they need to talk, and asks him to please give her a call. Mr. Shorofsky continues to stare at her black and white photos, then starts crooning to them in German.
Leroy and Danny are shopping for props at a second hand store, which came highly recommended by Leroy's shady pool hall friend, Stroke. Hmm...what could possibly go wrong with that? They gather up all the furniture and accessories on Ms. Grant's list, and are dismayed when the bill comes to just over $200. Danny decides to put back a chest of drawers, and Leroy snarks at him that they'll be short one item, but Danny points out that this way they'll have an $20 extra "to work with".
Mrs. Berg tells Mr. Shorofsky that he got another phone message from Frieda. She remarks that Frieda seemed really disappointed that he didn't return her call...and got the feeling she was an old flame. When Mr. Shorofsky doesn't confirm or deny, she fishes further by saying, "I couldn't help wondering...I'm just human" and Mr. Shorofsky snaps, "Be better than human! Be qviet!" Hee! He's so damned adorable, even when he's being a total curmudgeon.
Leroy's in a phone booth, talking to his mother in Detroit. He tells her he really really wants her to come to his upcoming show, but she tells him she can't get time off work or afford the plane ticket. After the call, Leroy despondently tells Danny that his mom won't be able to make it. Danny asks him why she lives in Detroit, so Leroy explains that the family she worked for in New York moved to Detroit, so she moved along with them...and Leroy opted to stay behind 'cause there's no Detroit equivalent to the School of the Arts where he can get course credits for gyrating.
Doris loudly interrupts Mr. Shorofsky's music class to inform him that he has a visitor named Frieda Grauer who wants to speak with him. Mr. Shorofsky rushes out of his classroom and slowly walks toward his old friend with his arms outstretched. He calls out, "Frieda!" and she turns around and smiles at him and says, "Well...you recognized me." The two stare at each other for a few seconds, and she remarks on how different he looks with his white hair and fuzzy beard...but that she would have recognized him by his eyes. She says, "Those are the eyes of the Benjamin I remember" and the two hug.
Danny and Leroy interrupt Ms. Grant's dance class to announce, "The prop masters have arrived!" and begin to unload some of the stuff they purchased. Danny says the larger items are in the lobby, and Ms. Grant urges the class to go downstairs and help carry them up to the dance gym. Mrs. Berg suddenly appears and informs Ms. Grant that a police detective is downstairs, then relays what he just said to her: "All your props are hot." Ms. Grant takes a few seconds to decipher what that means, then shrieks, "Danny! Leroy!" and races down to the lobby.
The Fame kids are hanging out on the street together, commiserating about how lame their upcoming show is going to be. I'm sure the New York arts community will survive the disappointment. Doris glumly says they have incomplete music (I'm guessing 'cause Mr. Shorofsky is too distracted with Frieda), incomplete choreography (dunno what Ms. Grant's excuse is for that), and no props (apparently, the cops hauled all the "hot" stuff away). Danny says it's not completely hopeless 'cause they still have $20 left over from prop shopping - plus they have him. The Fame kids laugh (I laughed too) and make jokes like, "That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee." Danny gets insulted and starts to stomp off, but the others stop him and urge him to explain what he means. He tells them that for the past three years in the Bronx, he's hustled at pool and won big...and since he's a super amazing pool player, he's confident that he can do the same in the pool hall where Leroy works. His plan is to win back all the prop money they squandered and also buy a plane ticket for Leroy's mother. Considering this is Danny, that seems like an overly ambitious plan.
Frieda tells Mr. Shorofsky she'd like to cook dinner for him in his apartment, and starts making up a shopping list. Just as the two are about to head off to the grocery store, Miss Sherwood bursts into the teacher's lounge and asks Mr. Shorofsky, "How do you make things real for your class?" He's like, "Wuh?" so she explains that she just assigned The Diary of Anne Frank to her class, and is dismayed that most of them have no interest in reading it...while others told her they saw the movie and thought it was slow. She laments that "the reality" doesn't exist for them, and that all they're thinking about is how they'd play Anne Frank if they were cast in the role. Mr. Shorofsky points out that is a performing arts school, but Miss Sherwood insists she wants to train the person inside the performer. Frieda suddenly looks troubled and tells Mr. Shorofsky they should probably get going 'cause of all the shopping and cooking she has to do. He cuts his conversation with Miss Sherwood short and says they can talk more about this tomorrow.
Over in the pool hall, Danny introduces himself to his pool opponent, a dork named Wally Zawicky who has a white person's 'fro and talks with a thick New Yawk accent. Wally lays out the rules and stakes in a very no-nonsense fashion, and Danny and Leroy exchange knowing grins. Danny begins the game by breaking - and I'm no pool expert, but it looked like a really inept break. Wally, meanwhile, manages to make several challenging shots in a row while Danny is slumped in a nearby chair, looking bummed and sheepish.
In Mr. Shorofsky's apartment, Frieda is cooking up a storm, and she gives Mr. Shorofsky a spoonful of stew to taste. He gushes, "I love it!" and says it reminds him of home...even though that home no longer exists. She tells him how much she loves the youthful black and white photos he has of her and jokes that she wants to steal them. He pours them two glasses of red wine and toasts, "To reunions."
Back at the pool hall, Wally easily kicks Danny's ass and demands his winnings: $50. Well that was utterly pointless. I wonder who Danny was "winning big" against in the Bronx for three years?
Frieda tells Mr. Shorofsky they should have had this reunion years ago. He says he tried to find her after the war, but then gave up and assumed she was dead...until he was in Rome and happened to see her name on a concert flyer. She exclaims, "That was twenty-two years ago!" and he tells her he was ashamed and afraid that she blamed him for not being in Germany during the war, suffering alongside her. She insists that she thanked God he wasn't there to share the hell she was enduring...then brings up the conversation he had with Miss Sherwood earlier. She accuses him of being flippant about the whole Anne Frank diary thing to avoid dredging up any memories of the Holocaust for her. She sternly says, "There can be no joking about anything that happened in the camps." OK...but I didn't get the sense he was, in any way, joking about that. Frieda tears up and says, "We're a million miles away" and acknowledges that he was safe during the war when so many others weren't - but that that's not either of their faults. She then says she should go, and that she'll just take one of her students to the banquet/dinner thing tomorrow night (instead of him). Mr. Shorofsky, who doesn't seem to give much of a rat's ass about being snubbed by her, just kind of shrugs and goes, "OK, whatever" and sees her to the door. After she leaves, he blows out the candles.
Mrs. Berg tells Ms. Grant they should cancel the upcoming show, but Ms. Grant refuses. Mrs. Berg argues that the audience won't understand the show if there are no props, but Ms. Grant insists that the absence of props will challenge the audience to use the full extent of their imagination. You keep believing that, Ms. Grant.
Mr. Shorofsky is sitting in the theater, eating his lunch and reading, when Leroy enters the room. He tells Mr. Shorofsky he's working on his diary assignment for Miss Sherwood...then starts bellyaching about how his mom, who lives in Detroit, can't afford to fly in for the show. Mr. Shorofsky starts babbling about people leading their own lives and destinies, blah blah...and I forget what else they talked about 'cause I kind of checked out during this scene.
Frieda drops by the school to say goodbye, which is a relief 'cause she seems like kind of a wet blanket. She asks Mr. Shorofsky why he didn't call her in Rome all those years ago, and he admits he was afraid of being rejected again. She looks at him in surprise and asks, "When did I ever reject you?" so he explains that many years ago he wrote to her and asked her to join him in America. She's all, "Wha-a?" and says she wasn't able to secure a visa, and explained all that to him in her subsequent letter. He says he never got that letter, and then...blah blah...they both decide that their time for second chances is gone. I'm pretty sure I caught a fleeting look of relief on Mr. Shorofsky's face.
Frieda is standing in front of Miss Sherwood's class, lecturing to the Fame kids about her experience during WWII. She tells them that even though the Holocaust is over, there are all sorts of injustices happening in the world right now, and that they're not limited to any one race, creed, or color. She says that, as young performing arts students, they especially need to be aware of it. She touches Doris' hand and says they have a gift to show others how glorious humans can be, and that they're the bearers of the gift of joy. Mmm...I'm not sure I'd classify Leroy's pelvic gyrations or the casts' terrible singing voices as "the gift of joy". Montgomery suddenly expresses an urge to re-do the diary assignment, and everyone else nods and looks totally transfixed by Frieda's lecture. Miss Sherwood shoots her a grateful smile and mouths thank you.
The Fame kids are in the dressing room, primping for the dress rehearsal. Julie bursts into the dressing room to tell Leroy that his mom is here! Wuh? How'd that happen? A few seconds later, Mama Johnson enters the room and explains that she got a money order from Mr. Shorofsky to pay for her plane ticket. Apparently, he was feeling generous after his/Leroy's incoherent chat in the theater. Leroy ushers his mom over to the dance gym, where he introduces her to Mr. Shorofsky. He chuckles and tells Mama Johnson that Leroy is one of his teachers, and she chuckles in return.
Show time! Leroy is, once again, the show's lead...and, for some reason, the entire cast is wearing red choir robes. Mama Johnson looks mesmerized by her son's awful singing voice and vulgar pelvic gyrations...and Frieda is also there, actually looking as though she's enjoying the spectacle. The groups dances for what seems like a really loooong time, and when they finish, everyone who's watching applauds. Leroy proudly leads his mom to stand beside him in front of the group of the dancers, then gives her a happy hug.
Mr. Shorofsky walks Frieda down the hall toward the main doors. She tells him she's leaving New York tomorrow, and is pleased they were finally able to resolve things. She says she's richer for having known him...and he quietly takes her in his arms, and the two start dancing to the German song he was crooning at her photos earlier.
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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