Fame - Season 1, Episode 16
Recap: Ms. Grant is presiding over her dance class as the students gyrate, leap, and twirl around the dance gym. An uptight looking woman in a buttoned up suit enters the gym, seats herself at a table, and starts taking notes. Ms. Grant stares over at her curiously for several seconds, then ambles over to see whassup. The woman introduces herself as Mrs. Polsdorfer from the Board of Education and reminds Ms. Grant that they've met before. Ms. Grant grimly replies, "I remember"...then snarks that what she remembers is how vehemently they disagree on how the School of the Arts should be run. Miss Polsdorfer nods sympathetically and concedes that dorky, unstylish evaluators like herself can sometimes rub people the wrong way.
In the next scene, Miss Sherwood is rolling her eyes and snapping, "Budget cuts? Again?" A second evaluator, Paul Forbes, nods and says he's there to give them straight talk...and by straight talk, he means that he and his team of evaluators are there to "trim the fat" from the school's budget. Miss Sherwood asks, "What if you don't find any fat to trim?" and Paul scrunches his face in confusion and pretends not to understand the question. Mr. Shorofsky grumbles about having spies in his classroom, and then someone else complains about how the stupid board is always expecting them to do more with less.
Julie finds Leroy, who's dozed off at his hall monitor post, and asks him if they could go someplace private and discuss their evaluation interviews.
Bruno is whining to Doris about how a recent guest lecturer - Gavin Latimer - plagiarized one of his songs after he played it for him. Doris urges him to confront the music thief, but Bruno just shrugs and dejectedly goes, "Nah." Then why bring it up, sad sack? Leroy and Julie enter the room, eager to discuss the evaluation interviews. Julie calls them a crock - and when the four compare notes, they realize that the evaluators have been focusing mainly on Mr. Crandall's and Miss Sherwood's classes. Julie mulls that over for a few seconds and says they may have just stumbled upon the real reason the evaluators are here.
In the next scene, the four are simultaneously babbling to Ms. Grant about their conspiracy theory. Julie and Doris point out that the evaluators have been observing Mr. Crandall's and Miss Sherwood's classrooms pretty much every day, but haven't had much of a presence in the music/dance classes. Based on that, Julie has deduced that the school board is planning to dump a teacher, and that the purpose of the evaluation interviews are to help them decide which teacher to fire: Miss Sherwood or Mr. Crandall. Egads!
Mr. Crandall gives Danny a book by Mark Twain and urges him to pick out some material that would be appropriate for a scene he can perform in class. (Please let that be off camera.) Danny asks what this assignment has to do with being a stand-up comic, so Mr. Crandall tells him that Twain was well known for his snappy one-liners.
Ms. Grant tells Miss Sherwood and Mr. Crandall that all the talk about budget cuts might actually be about cutting back on staff. Miss Sherwood cluelessly assures her that they won't let the school board fire her, so Ms. Grant drops the bomb that she and Mr. Crandall are the ones on the chopping block. Mr. Crandall stares sadly at his sandwich and says he's just lost his appetite.
Ms. Grant, Miss Sherwood, and Mr. Crandall call a meeting with Paul Forbes to ask him if anyone's getting fired, but he just starts babbling about "the cost reduction blueprint". Ms. Grant impatiently asks him to cut through the bureaucratic horseshit, so he finally admits, "Yeah, we may have to drop a teacher" and confirms that, yep, it's either going to be Miss Sherwood or Mr. Crandall. He explains that if they dump a dance teacher or music teacher they might lose their performing arts/whatever status - however, they can make do with either Crandall (who majored in English in college) or Miss Sherwood (who had a minor in drama) and each could easily absorb the other's classes. Miss Sherwood glares at him and says, "If you believe that, then you don't get this school."
Mr. Shorofsky gets irked at Bruno's moping and finally asks him whassup, so Bruno whines about how a recent guest lecturer stole his song, wah wah.. Mr. Shorofsky rolls his eyes and just tells him to do something about it, as opposed to his usual bitching/moaning/doing nothing...and then beats a hasty retreat. LOL.
Miss Sherwood and Mr. Crandall are walking down the hall together with their arms linked, trying to cheer each other up. Miss Sherwood natters about how teaching isn't just a job, and that "this school isn't just a school", but rather "a very special place". Ms. Grant eavesdrops from the doorway of her dance gym and stares at them sadly. She then ambles over to the piano and breaks into song: We build our lives on hopes, dreams, and trust.. and through the magic of television, her reflection in the giant mirror gets up and starts dancing...and we get to watch that performance for what seems like an extraordinarily loooooong time.
Miss Sherwood is grimly grading papers when Paul Forbes enters her classroom. He goes, "Tough day?" and she snappishly replies, "They're all tough, Mr. Forbes." He tells her to call him Paul - but she shoots him the stink-eye and says it's too friendly/inappropriate for them to be on a first name basis. He argues that they're colleagues, then asks her if she ever feels the need to let go and let off a little steam...and she wryly tells him she rarely has any steam left after work. He asks her if she'd be into getting a drink or some dinner, and she haughtily retorts, "It wouldn't be the right thing to do" but Paul disagrees and says, "It might be exactly the right thing to do - under the circumstances." Uh oh. That sounds dangerously like a misunderstanding just waiting to unfold..
A fired up Miss Sherwood bursts into the office and tells Mrs. Berg she wants to fill out a form for sexual harassment. Mr. Shorofsky overhears her and is all, "Wha-a?!" so she starts rambling about how there's a form for every stupid thing at this school, so surely there must be one for sexual harassment. She tells him that the offender is Paul Forbes, then snarks, "He made it perfectly clear how I can keep my job." A confused Mrs. Berg is leafing through a stack of forms and asks Miss Sherwood if she needs the form for sexual advancement [?? I'm curious about the purpose of that form] and Miss Sherwood corrects her: "Sexual harassment." Mr. Shorofsky tells Miss Sherwood she's going to need proof to go along with her complaint, and she snaps, "I'll nail that son-of-a" - then pauses to avoid blurting out an unladylike expletive - "gun if it's the last thing I do here."
Leroy asks Miss Sherwood if she's heard anything about being canned yet and, and she says she hasn't and admits to being pretty freaked out about the whole thing. Leroy makes a sour face and goes, "Why do they have to mess us up?" and Miss Sherwood wryly replies, "It's their role in life." He tells her he'd be really bummed if she got fired, but she points out that it would be way worse for him if Ms. Grant got fired. He nods, but then credits her for being the one who taught him how to read and write proper English.
Julie gives Bruno some intel on where he can find the plagiarizing guest lecturer, Gavin Latimer. Bruno hems and haws in his usual I'm-such-a-tortured-soul manner (&^%$#@!!!!), but then mulls over the possibility of confronting the music thieving scoundrel.
Miss Sherwood enters the teacher's lounge - but when she sees Paul Forbes in the room, she turns around and quickly exits the room. He coaxes her back in and says there's something she needs to see before officially filing her sexual harassment complaint against him...then hands her a file and says it's the evaluation report. She reads it and quickly learns that it's the recommendation of the evaluators that she (and not Mr. Crandall) remain at the school as the English/drama instructor. Paul says that if she files a harassment complaint, it might be misunderstood...in much the same way she misunderstood his invitation for dinner/drinks. Even though one could argue it was probably inappropriate and bad timing on his part.
Over in the office, Ms. Grant is reading aloud the evaluation report, specifically the part about Mr. Crandall being fired...and Danny gets upset and storms out of the room. At that moment, Julie is telling Leroy that Miss Sherwood didn't get canned, and he's all, "Woo hoo! That's great news!" and Danny overhears him celebrating, accuses him of being happy about Mr. Crandall getting fired, and punches him in the face. Leroy tackles him, and the two roll around on the floor together until Mr. Shorofsky comes upon the scene and orders them to stop. He asks them why they're fighting, since they're supposed to be friends, but neither gives him an answer, and they storm off in opposite directions. Julie explains to Mr. Shorofsky that she had just told Leroy about Mr. Crandall getting fired...and Mr. Shorofsky, who clearly hadn't yet heard the news, is all, "Wha-a?!"
Danny goes to see Mr. Crandall, who's in his classroom, sadly sorting through a pile of plays/scripts. He tells Danny he's already lined up a part time gig at the American Academy, and Danny bitchily announces that maybe he'll drop out of this dump and start attending the American Academy so they can continue to pursue drama together. Mr. Crandall's all, "Ack!" and informs him that it's a post-secondary type of institution, which requires a high school diploma. He reminds him that Miss Sherwood is a very good teacher, but Danny just grumps that she isn't very good at telling jokes. (Neither are you, nitwit.) Mr. Crandall says, "Life is about more than jokes" but Danny argues that for him, everything's all about jokes. I'm not sure I get how the School of the Arts is honing his comedic skills.
Danny ambles over to the dance gym, where he finds Leroy sweatily gyrating in nothing but a pair of very short shorts - OMFG. Danny sheepishly apologizes for punching him in the face, and Leroy accepts his apology and the two high five.
Paul Forbes drops by Miss Sherwood's classroom to tell her not to view him as the bad guy, and that he only asked her to dinner/drinks 'cause he wanted to talk to someone who's at home in a world he finds "strange, wonderful, and rare". Miss Sherwood looks unmoved and shoots him another stink-eye...and when he awkwardly inches toward the door, she says he might as well keep on moving until he's all the way out of her classroom. Ouch.
Bruno locates Gavin Latimer at his apartment and confronts him about plagiarizing his song. Latimer denies any wrongdoing and says he's inspired by lots of sounds/tunes/jingles he randomly hears. He then tells Bruno to grow up and accept that the world isn't perfect...and if he's really that good, he'll go on to write lots of other great songs. Bruno mopishly grunts, but then nods in agreement, which makes me wonder: what the hell was the point of this superfluous sub-plot? Suddenly, the phone rings, and it's Julie calling to tell Bruno that he needs to come back to school, like pronto, 'cause they have an impromptu show to put on for Mr. Crandall. Oh joy.
In the next scene, Mr. Crandall is making a face and saying, "This is a really repulsive idea"...and as he's saying that, a Goodbye Crandall party is being set up in the cafeteria. Miss Sherwood informs him that the faculty's new union contract gives them all 5% raises, but they got together and asked if they could postpone the raise and use the savings to pay for his salary. Mr. Crandall says he doesn't like the sound of that - but it's kind of a moot point, 'cause apparently the board is meeting about it right now and will announce their decision shortly. Danny orders Mr. Crandall to the front of the room and says they're bidding him farewell the only way they know how: with a show! Everyone starts playing instruments and singing (horribly off key) a lame sounding song called Starmaker...and Mr. Crandall tears up at the sheer horror of the spectacle (or maybe I'm just projecting). The performance goes on for a really loooong time, and when the students finally finish singing and leaping around, they clasp their hands together, raise their clasped hands in the air, then enthusiastically applaud. An emotional Mr. Crandall takes the mic and thanks everyone...and says he really didn't want a lot of fuss about his departure 'cause he hates saying goodbye. He gabbles on and on about how joyous his job has been, and credits the students with continually honoring the faculty with song, dance, and magic. Whatever, Crandall.
Paul Forbes suddenly enters the cafeteria to inform everyone that he's just come from a meeting downtown to discuss the faculty's "unique proposal" to postpone their 5% raise. He says, "It was turned down flat" and explains that it would set a bad precedent and embarrass the board. That said, the new lighting for the auditorium that was earmarked for next year's budget has been removed from the budget...which means they're not getting new lighting - but will instead get to keep Mr. Crandall. Everyone (who doesn't care about new auditorium lighting) woots and applauds, and Mr. Crandall looks relieved that he's not getting canned after all. The kids start dancing again...and this time, even Mr. Shorofsky gets in on the action and jigs with Ms. Grant. They sing Hot Lunch, and deliver another cringetastic performance that goes on for-fucking-ever, and features lots of twirls, leaps, and air splits. For some reason, Coco is nowhere to be seen...and I've noticed that she hasn't been on the last several episodes. Maybe she's covertly auditioning for more Broadway shows..?
Anyway, that's a wrap for Season 1!
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11/5/2020 06:58:27 am
Sooo... you know all of that was because the actor playing Mr. Crandall - Michael Thoma - was being written off because he was dying, right? They were saying goodbye and that was his final episode, and he died shortly after. Finally, as a musician, they weren’t “singing off key,” it’s just they way that there wasn’t HD back then so it ends up sounding strange comparatively.
Isabel K. French
11/5/2020 05:02:34 pm
I did learn after writing this recap that Michael Thoma died soon after this episode aired. By all accounts he was a lovely man and well loved by the cast. RIP.
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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