Fame - Season 1, Episode 9
Recap: It's dance class in the dance gym, and Ms. Grant is chanting, "Stand up at the mic and just say what's on your mind...boogie boogie" - LOL - as her students perform some kind of casual looking dance routine. She yells, "Stop!", barks at the class to loosen up so that the audience will feel like they're part of the performance, then orders everyone to take it from the top. Danny sneaks in late and tries to blend in with the dancers - but Ms. Grant stops the rehearsal, calls him out on his tardiness, and publicly chastises him. He reminds her that he's not a dancer or singer, he's a comedian - and she glares at him and wryly retorts, "Do you see me laughing, Amatullo?" As the class nervously titters, Danny snarks, "No" and Ms. Grant tells him he'd better start singing and dancing...or else. She orders everyone to pick it up from the chorus...and Coco shoots Danny the stink-eye and says, "You wanna be Woody Allen, you do it on your own time. Not ours." He irritably tells her to shut up.
During English class, Miss Sherwood writes the word precision on the blackboard and asks if anyone can correctly use it in a sentence. For a high school English class, this seems like a pretty dumbed down curriculum. She notices Danny nodding off and calls on him...so he glances around the room sleepily, notices the word precision written on the blackboard and says, "Terry Bradshaw is known for his precision passing." As the class giggles at his sass, Miss Sherwood sarcastically apologizes for waking him from his slumber, and he snidely retorts that her class is too boring to stay awake in. She shoots him a really squinty stink-eye and orders him to report back to her classroom after school.
Next class: drama. Danny performs a scene with Montgomery - and by performs, I mean he's frenetically bellowing lines at him. Mr. Crandall shakes his head and goes, "What are you doing, Amatullo?" and reminds him that the scene is supposed to reflect a warm, fuzzy relationship between the two characters. He urges him to draw from his experience of being a part of a stereotypically warm, friendly Italian family, but Danny bitchily snaps, "I'll pass."
Miss Sherwood tells Danny he's clearly having problems in her class and assumes he's probably not doing so great in his other classes either. He denies having any problems at all, so she reminds him he's been nodding off in class. She sternly says, "If it's fatigue, get some rest. If it's drugs, get some help." Danny makes a face and retorts, "Drugs? No way" and explains that he's been so tired lately 'cause he works nights at a sandwich stand. He fibs and tells her that Papa Amatullo got laid off...and since money is tight, everyone in the family has to pitch in. Miss Sherwood tells him his mouth is saying one thing, but his body language is making it clear that he's full of crap. Danny snarks back that he's late for work and storms out of the room...and Miss Sherwood looks dismayed and mutters, "He's been taking Leroy lessons." Haha!
Montgomery drags Doris along on a commercial casting call for a fake restaurant chain called Hank Burgers. The director tells the wannabes that he's seeking a particular look, then begins scanning the crowd. He checks out Doris, who smiles brightly at him, then goes, "Meh" and moves onto Montgomery. He seems slightly intrigued by Montgomery's nondescript appearance, but the director's assistant reminds him he already has a redhead so he murmurs, "Oh, right. Thanks" and moves on. Doris contorts her face and grumbles, "Why do I feel like I'm in the Caucasian version of Roots?" which made me want to smack her really hard. The director barks, "Who just spoke?" and returns to where Doris is standing. He gives her a creepily intense stare and says, "I want someone to look into the camera with their eyes and say 'I'll die for a Hank burger with double cheese'" and Doris wittily retorts, "Eyes don't fail me now." I guess we're supposed to assume that he's charmed enough by her spunk to consider her for a callback.
Danny's at the Comedy Company, where he works as a stage manager. He's watching the resident comedian, a buffoon named Joey, as he finishes up his act. The club's owner ambles over and thanks Danny for doing such a great job as stage manager, then informs him that Joey just got a stand-up gig in Vegas...which means there's an opening. He asks Danny if he's interested in doing some stand-up, and Danny's like, "Yes please!" so he says he'll put him down for the closing spot next Thursday. Joey, meanwhile, finishes his act and struts backstage, and correctly guesses that the club's owner just gave Danny his own spot. Danny gushes about how super excited he is about finally getting the opportunity to tell jokes to a live audience instead of just a mirror...then starts whining about how hard it is to go to school all day and work all night. Joey reaches into his pocket and pulls out a bottle of pills, hands the entire stash to Danny - as if - and advises him to start taking uppers, like pronto. LOL. He says it's important for him to feel good if he expects to make other people feel good. After Joey saunters off, Danny stares down at the pills...and the screen fades to black for a commercial break.
Danny's mother is gabbing on the phone to someone at an all night radio show. She barks at Danny to sit down and eat something just as Papa Amatullo enters the room and grumpily announces that he's working the 3-11 shift. Danny excitedly tells him he got a spot performing at the Comedy Company next Thursday, and Papa Amatullo snorts derisively and says, "Is Friday some kind of holiday?" so Danny explains that he has to go somewhere where he can perform in front of people. His mom suggests practicing his comedy routines at the Knights of St. Anthony Lodge, but Papa Amatullo is like, "Hell no" and says it's bad enough he has a son going to that school, then makes it clear that he doesn't approve of him performing his clownish schtick in front of his friends. Ouch. Danny says he's a comedian (not a clown), but Papa Amatullo doesn't see the distinction and says he wishes he'd get some common sense and grow out of his wanting to be a comedian phase. We all want that, Papa Amatullo. His wife hands him his lunch pail, and suddenly Papa Amatullo looks very sad and tells her he's stopping by the church after his shift to light a candle for Vinny...then heads off to work. Danny dejectedly retreats to his bedroom, stares at the bottle of uppers he got from Joey, then flops onto his bed and morosely stares up at the ceiling.
The next day, the Fame kids are gathered 'round the piano in the dance gym, singing the Hank Burgers jingle. When Montgomery ambles into the room and asks whassup, Doris explains that she got a callback from the "cuckoo bird director". Unfortunately, however, she has a dilemma: she hates Hank burgers and thinks the director is a moron. Montgomery advises her to stop calling the man a cuckoo bird, and to make peace with faking her enjoyment of a Hank burger if she expects to get paid. Danny suddenly bursts into the room and announces to everyone that he got his own spot at the Comedy Company, then asks if anyone would like to drop by and see a young comedian's rise to stardom. Coco goes, "You got a gig?" and Danny hushes her and says, "Not so loud. I don't want to get tossed out of school." He says that his spot will be at 1am on Thursday night (well, Friday morning technically). Bruno says his dad will have a freakout if he stays out that late, and Coco frowns and says that 1am is too late for a school night. Danny gets annoyed by the lack of his friends' support and starts ranting his displeasure just as Ms. Grant enters the room. Bruno discreetly orders him to shut up, and everyone scurries off in different directions.
It's Danny's big night at the Comedy Company. Joey asks him how he's doing, and Danny bitchily grumbles about how bummed he is that none of his friends are coming to see him perform. Joey breezily replies, "You should be flying high, especially with those little bombs I laid on you" but Danny sullenly says he hasn't taken any of the uppers yet. Joey insists that he's going to need a full charge, and says, "Don't go out there by yourself, kid." Danny pulls the bottle of pills out of his pocket and stares down at them again...then walks over to the water cooler, pours himself a cup of water, and washes down a pill. He bitterly mutters, "Good evening, friends."
The club's owner introduces Danny to the audience as "a new kid on the block"...and a few seconds later, Danny bounds onto the stage and launches into his act. He suddenly gets flustered when he spots Miss Sherwood sitting at a table with a gentleman friend. As she shoots him an incredulous, WTF? stare, he turns ashen and mutters, "I'm in deep trouble."
In English class the next day, a restless Danny stares up at the clock while Miss Sherwood prattles about poetry. When the lunch bell rings, she stops Danny from making a hasty exit and orders him to stay behind. After the room empties, she tells him she's puzzled and angry, and he assumes it's 'cause he broke the "no performing" rule at the School of the Arts...which, incidentally, is a rule that seems to get broken by students a lot and is never seems to be enforced by anyone on the faculty. She glares at him and says, "You conned me" and reminds him of the nonsense he told her the other day about his family being broke. He bellyaches about how he's trying to make a start for himself in showbiz, but no one seems to care at all about what he's going through. Yep, I get the very same impression. Miss Sherwood reaches her hand toward him, but he freaks out and screeches, "Don't touch me! I don't like it when people touch me!" LOL. She forcibly grabs him by the chin, stares deeply into his eyes, and says, "You're on uppers, aren't you?" then orders him to hold out his hand so she can place a sheet of paper atop it. He does, and the sheet of paper emphasizes his shaky hands. He explains that he's just nervous about performing, but she doesn't buy that and says she's so furious she wants to punch him in the face. Bwahahaha! Me too! She then clarifies that she's less mad at him than she is at the douchewad who supplied him with the pills. She moans about how pills destroy young people, then snaps, "And I hate it!" and says she's lost many students, friends, and loved ones to uppers. Wuh? Seriously? To uppers? She says that, despite whatever he may have heard, not everyone does drugs - and whoever told him that is a liar and a thief...and by thief she means that this person is stealing his life. She then sits down at her desk, buries her face in her hands and wearily tells him to go to lunch. I really think she's taking Danny's sudden (and, so far, pretty casual) use of uppers much too hard.
The next morning, Danny's alarm goes off at 6am. Papa Amatullo enters his room to shut off the alarm - then notices the bottle of uppers sitting on his night table. He studies it with a look of puzzlement on his face, then puts it back down and tip-toes out of the room. A few seconds later, Danny finally stirs and shuts off the alarm, unaware that his pa was just standing there.
Coco is coaching Doris on how to perform during the callback. She advises her to use imagery - which, in this case, means she should think of something she loves to eat while she's being forced to eat a Hank burger. Doris closes her eyes, imagines her aunt's delicious lentil soup, and thanks Coco for her genius advice.
Ms. Grant is directing her dance class as they do some kind of 16th century dance number. Leroy tells Coco he doesn't use drugs 'cause he thinks of his body as a cathedral and doesn't want to mar its beauty - which is sadly ironic, considering the serious addiction problems he coped with in real life. Coco says he should give his no drugs lecture to Danny, but Leroy just shrugs and clearly doesn't give a rat's ass about Danny's problems. Coco blabs to Montgomery that Miss Sherwood saw Danny performing at the Comedy Company, and Montgomery tells Julie they all let Danny down when none of them went to the club to watch him perform. Julie wonders aloud to Coco why Danny started taking uppers, and Coco says it's not easy being Number One...though it's unclear what being Number One has to do with Danny. Badoom bah!
Doris is at the commercial callback. The director tells her that when she looks at a Hank burger, he wants to see passion in her face and adoration in her whole person. She giggles at his silly direction, then manages to keep a straight face when she explains that she's just generally a happy and joyful person. On the first take, she picks up a Hank burger, bites into it, and clearly wants to spit it right out. After about a dozen takes, she starts forgetting her lines and starts actually spitting out pieces of the burger. The director looks irked and tells the crew they're breaking for lunch...and Doris immediately perks up and makes a beeline to the nearest toilet to vomit.
Danny tells Papa Amatullo that he's off to the Comedy Company...but Papa Amatullo's busy watching a sports game on a tiny portable TV in the kitchen and clearly doesn't give a rat's ass about anything his son is up to. Maybe that's why Danny turned into such an assfuck.
Backstage at the club, Danny takes another upper. A few seconds later, the club's owner storms over and says, "We have a problem" and orders Danny to show him his ID. Apparently, the club received an anonymous call saying he was underage. Danny hands him his wallet, and the club's owner snarks that he doesn't see anything in here that shows he's eighteen or older (even though the actor was nineteen years old when this episode was filmed - which I guess is less annoying than if he were in his mid-twenties, like Doris). The club's owner barks, "Good night!" and storms off.
Early at school the next morning, Danny rails at Miss Sherwood about outing his underage status to his boss, and she's all, "Wha-a?" and says she hasn't the faintest idea what he's talking about. Danny must believe her, 'cause in the next scene, the two are sitting in the cafeteria, and he's telling her that his dad doesn't care about anything he does and that he's been a sad sack ever since his older brother Vinny died at the age of four. Miss Sherwood gasps and says it must have been agonizing to lose a child, then suggests that maybe Papa Amatullo was the one who called the Comedy Company and reported him being underage...and that he did it because he cares about him. Danny stares contemplatively into space as he mulls over that possibility.
Later, Danny strolls through Central Park looking sad, and we hear him singing Come What May in the background...and, yeesh, his vocalist abilities are even weaker than Bruno's. He watches a father and son playing football together and smiles wistfully at the sight...then smiles wistfully again when he sees a different father and son bonding at the petting zoo. After that, he sadly ambles around the city and has a series of flashbacks with his friends at school.
Doris is regaling her cast mates about her Hank Burgers callback in the dressing room when a sullen looking Danny walks in. He tells them he got fired from the Comedy Company, and Coco says they already heard. He says, "I'll be OK with a little help from my friends...if I have any left."
The Fame kids show up for Talent Night at the Knights of St. Anthony Lodge and announce that they're Papa Amatullo's guests...but Papa Amatullo's all, "Wha-a?!" and says he has no idea why his idiot son would invite half the student body to his lodge. The emcee (hey - it's a young Larry Miller!) introduces Danny...and the Fame kids start hooting and loudly carrying on as Danny runs on stage. Danny thanks the lodge members for allowing him to perform, then makes a few lame jokes - at which the audience pretends to bust a gut laughing - while an irked looking Papa Amatullo glances around for the nearest exit. He gets up and tries to make a break for it when Danny abruptly puts an end to his act and sadly announces to the audience that he doesn't have a planned finish for his act. Doris leaps up and shrieks, "Was that our cue?!" (No...I don't think so) and runs onto the stage and announces to the bewildered onlookers that the Fame kids are the big closing number. Suddenly, the students rush toward the front of the room and begin performing the Stand up at the mic and just say what's on your mind...boogie boogie number they were rehearsing at the beginning of the episode. Leroy, Julie, and Coco join in with the singing...and when Danny takes the mic and sings along in his grisly, out-of-tune voice, Papa Amatullo stares intently at him and starts to look very impressed.
Back at Casa Amatullo, Danny’s browsing the fridge for something to eat. Papa Amatullo is sitting at the kitchen table and grudgingly admits that the people at the lodge laughed a lot at his jokes, then asks him if his audiences always laugh. Danny says sometimes they do, sometimes they don't (mostly they don't). Papa Amatullo asks, "Are you through with those funny pills?" and Danny shamefully replies that he flushed them down the toilet. He asks his dad why he got up to leave mid-way through his act, so Papa Amatullo explains that when he heard all the laughing, he started to well up with tears and didn't want people to see him crying. He suddenly gets all verklempt and squeaks, "You made me real proud tonight." Danny walks over to his dad, puts his hand on shoulder and says, "I love you" then kisses his forehead...and Papa Amatullo pulls him into a tight hug as they both tear up.
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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