Recap: Danny's having a dream that he's riding an elevator and gets stuck at the 236th floor. He uses the elevator phone to call for help and somehow ends up talking to Mr. Crandall. A few seconds later, the elevator starts rapidly descending, then comes to an abrupt stop. The doors open, and Mr. Crandall appears - via footage of him teaching drama class from Season 1. After a few seconds, the elevator doors close, and the elevator hurtles toward the ground level. Danny cries for help, then jolts awake in his real life bed, sweating and breathing hard. His mom pokes her head in his room and asks him if he's OK, and he tells her he just had a bad dream. He then glances over at the clock on his nightstand and notes that it's 2:36am.
Mrs. Berg congratulates Miss Sherwood on her upcoming gig as temporary radio show guest...but Miss Sherwood tells her it's no big deal and that she's just going to be answering questions about English literature. Mrs. Berg asks her if she could please mention her name on the radio 'cause she'd get a real kick out of it, and Mrs. Sherwood says she can't promise anything - but will pretend to try. When Mr. Reardon (who I'm calling David in this recap for simplicity's sake) enters the office, Mrs. Berg tells him he's gotten a bunch of phone messages from his father. She then scrunches her face in confusion and says she thought she once heard him say his father is dead. David mutters, "He is" and stalks off. A few seconds after that, Mrs. Berg gets a call from Mercy Hospital with some sad news.
Danny asks his drama classmates if anyone knows where Mr. Crandall is, and someone mutters, "Sick or something" just as an ashen-faced Mrs. Berg enters the room. She announces that a substitute teacher will be taking over Mr. Crandall's classes and that she'll fill in until he/she arrives. She then seats herself at the teacher's desk, looking visibly upset. One of the extras asks her if she's OK, and she nods and asks the class to just quietly study whatever they've been working on. Danny suddenly blurts out, "Crandall's dead" and a stricken Mrs. Berg stares back at him and asks, "How did you know?" As the kids are all, "Wha-a?!", Mrs. Berg announces that the school just received word that Mr. Crandall suffered a heart attack last night and died early this morning. The students immediately get teary, and Danny springs up from his chair and says he needs to process this news by walking around. He asks Mrs. Berg if she knows exactly when he died...then has a flashback of the exact moment he woke up from his bad dream - 2:36am - and barks, "I do."
Miss Sherwood tells her colleagues that someone is going to have to go through Mr. Crandall's desk and collect his things so they can pass them along to his family. David offers to take that on and points out that the task won't be as hard on him 'cause he didn't know Mr. Crandall...which makes sense, 'cause he kind of replaced Michael Thoma's character after the actor passed away last season.
In the next scene, David is emptying out Mr. Crandall's desk drawers and taking his pictures down from the wall. Danny - who's been sitting in the corner of the room, creepily watching him - blurts out, "What are you doing?" and David's like, "Ack!" then explains that he's packing up Mr. Crandall's stuff. Danny starts blathering about a show idea Mr. Crandall had been working on, and says it's something about keeping one's inner child alive, blah blah. After Danny shuffles out of the room, David glances around and says, "Crandall, you're going to be one tough act to follow."
David tells his colleagues he'd really like to bring Mr. Crandall's final show idea to fruition. He asks if anyone knows how old he was when he died, and when he learns that Crandall was fifty-five, he remarks, "That's the same age as my dad."
Doris tells Leroy she thought about Mr. Crandall all weekend, especially everything he taught them about comedy. She then says that while she misses him a lot, she's pretty sure she'll be done mourning him by the end of the episode. She sees Julie at her locker and asks her to help her with a scene so she can try to improve her grade point average - but Julie says she's got bigger problems, namely that her yokelly friends from Grand Rapids are planning a class trip to New York. Doris is like, "So what?" and Leroy accuses Julie of being ashamed of her New York crew. Julie says she's actually more ashamed of her Grand Rapids ex-besties, 'cause she's afraid they'll do or say something yokelly and then suffer from culture shock.
Mrs. Berg asks Miss Sherwood if she remembered to mention her name on the radio last night, and Miss Sherwood tells her she wasn't able to do it. Mrs. Berg shrugs amiably and says, "Oh well, maybe next time."
Hall monitor Dwight is patrolling his beat when he spots Danny ambling around the lobby area without authorization. He points at Danny, barks, "You're late!" and threatens to write him up. Danny laughs and derisively calls him the Pillsbury Dough Boy, then cockily struts past him. Dwight grabs at him, which prompts Danny to whirl around and shriek, "Get your hands off of me!" Dwight gets all in his face and sniffs, then looks aghast and asks Danny if he's been drinking...and when Danny comes right out and admits he has, Dwight threatens to write him up for that too. He smugly pronounces to Danny that he's going to have to appear in Student Court - LOL... is that a real thing in American high schools? - and Danny bellows, "Stick it!" and raises his fist in a ready-to-punch position. But before he can give Dwight the pummeling he's had coming since the moment he first appeared on Fame, Mrs. Berg appears out of nowhere and cries, "Don't you dare!" She reminds Danny that punching another student could get him expelled...and Danny mulls over the warning, decides that punching Dwight in the face is totally worth being expelled over, and lets his fist fly. After knocking Dwight on his keister - bwahahaha! - Danny takes off down the hall.
David's at home in his apartment, on the phone with Mr. Shorofsky...and the two are discussing where Danny might have stormed off to after he decked Dwight. He has to cut the call short when he hears a knock on the door - and when he answers it, he's stunned to see his estranged father standing on his doorstep. He marvels at how he hasn't see him in six years, then tells him he's trying to find a lost kid who hates him. Papa Reardon wryly replies, "Me too."
Papa Reardon tells David he heard about his marriage and subsequent divorce, then apologizes for driving him away 'cause of how pushy he was about him joining the family business. David irritably asks him why he's bringing all this up now, and Papa Reardon answers his question by asking, "Why not now?" then asks him why he finally returned his call. David says he was feeling vulnerable and sentimental because a teacher from The School of the Arts just died, and this prompts Papa Reardon to put his sad face on and ask, "Do I have to die before we can get back what we used to be?"
Doris bugs Julie again to help her with her scene - but Julie is staring past her at whatever's going on down the hall, exclaims, "Oh no!" and flees. Doris turns around and sees a yokelly teenager wearing a dorky blue suit and walks over to him. He introduces himself as Lester from Grand Rapids (hey - he's Julie's ex!) and asks her if she knows Julie Miller. Doris blurts out, "She's sick!!" then looks sheepish and admits that what she just blurted out is a lie. Smooth, Doris.
David brings Papa Reardon to The School of the Arts, and the two men wander around the halls, chatting. Papa Reardon chooses this moment to reveal to his son that he's always harbored a deep desire to become a circus clown. Er...OK.
Bruno brings Danny, who's hiding out in the dressing room, food and refreshments. Bruno then reminds his idiot friend that he's scheduled to appear in Student Court on Friday for the crime of slugging Dwight, as well as cutting class. He asks Danny if he's had a good cry over losing Mr. Crandall yet, and Danny bitchily snarks, "Hell no" and says he doesn't "buy that stuff". Bruno tells him that Mr. Crandall would have wanted him to be involved in his final project, and Danny quietly mulls that over for a few seconds. He then decides he no longer wants to remain in hiding and announces that he's off to English class.
David tells his father he needs to get back to work now, and Papa Reardon gushes about how proud he is of him and that he seems to fit in very well at the school. He asks him if it's OK if he hangs out for awhile, and David shrugs and says, "Sure."
In English class, Miss Sherwood is leading a discussion on the concept of outsiders...and I notice that Dwight has a fat lip, courtesy of Danny's fist. Haha! Dwight offers his insight about being an outsider among his School of the Arts peers and has deludedly adopted the notion that he's been set apart from everyone 'cause he plays the sousaphone. He laments how hard it is for male sousaphone players to get laid...so he tried to fit in by becoming hall monitor. To his shock and dismay, however, he soon discovered that dickishly patrolling the halls and writing up his fellow classmates for petty infractions wasn't winning him any popularity contests. As his classmates do their best to keep from laughing out loud at his clueless dorkishness, Miss Sherwood asks Danny what he thinks of all this...and he pissily retorts that he didn't bother doing the reading assignment 'cause he fully expects to be expelled on Friday. [From your lips to the writers' ears, Danny.]
Papa Reardon gushes to Leroy and Stephanie about what great dancers they are, then introduces himself as David's father. He yammers about how pleased he is that his son is teaching drama in this dump instead of chasing acting jobs in Hollywood. Stephanie diplomatically says it seems like David is doing just fine, and Danny - who's been creepily eavesdropping on the conversation - suddenly storms by and snarks, "Yeah. Just fine."
David assures Danny he's not trying to take Mr. Crandall's place, then asks him what he can do for him during his Student Court appearance. Danny bitchily retorts that no one wants him at the school...except maybe his father - but that's only 'cause he's happy he's not pursuing an acting career anymore. David's all, "Wuh? Where did you hear that?" so Danny says he just overheard his father declare it in the hall.
David confronts Papa Reardon about the remark he made to the students, and Papa Reardon admits that, yep, he said it all right. David starts whining about how he once needed his moral support, blah blah, and Papa Reardon says he wants to make it up to him now - but David says he can't love him just 'cause he's doing things he thinks he should be doing. He wails, "You should love me for meeee!" then shakes his head and says, "This won't work." Papa Reardon puts his sad face on again and dejectedly exits the apartment.
That evening, Dwight arrives at school to testify at Student Court, and he and Danny glare at each other before heading in opposite directions. Danny ambles over to the theater and sits in the back row, watching as Julie gabbles to Leroy, Doris, and Bruno about the wall that now exists between her and her yokelly Grand Rapids friends. She really is making waaay too much of this. Can't she just share some polite small-talk with her old friends and then get on with her day? Doris suggests they'll all feel better if they perform a song that Bruno cobbled together in memory of Mr. Crandall…and Bruno starts playing piano while Doris sings. After they (mercifully) wrap it up, Julie calls the number special, and Danny suddenly blurts out, "It stinks! The show stinks! This place stinks!" He grumbles that he didn't need someone he cared about to die and therefore doesn't need this place. He storms out of the theater...and a few seconds later he runs into Dwight and tells him he's bailing 'cause he doesn't need no stinkin' Student Court to expel him. David overhears the exchange and goes running after the dumbass...and finds him cleaning out his locker. He gets all tough love on him and accuses him of leaving when things get too tough - but Danny snarls, "It's none of your business!" and orders him to butt out. David retorts by grabbing all the stuff in his locker and dumping it in the middle of the hall. He growls, "Did Crandall teach you to quit?!" then hauls Danny over to a nearby storage room. He thrusts a folder at him, which contains a student evaluation that Mr. Crandall once wrote about him. It says mostly good things, but makes mention of Danny's overactive ego and overwhelming insecurity...which, well d'yuh. It goes on to say that Danny reminds him of himself when he was younger...however, if carefully nurtured, he could have a bright future ahead. [As a comedian?? 'Cause I couldn't vehemently disagree more with that assessment.] Danny looks moved as he reads the evaluation, then starts to tear up. David softly asks, "Was Mr. Crandall wasting his time?" then leaves the room so Danny can cry in private.
Dwight tells David he told the Student Court officials that when Danny punched him in the face, they were rehearsing a scene, and that everything was all just a big misunderstanding.
Mrs. Berg thanks Miss Sherwood for mentioning her name on the radio and gushing about her geniusness. Miss Sherwood's all, "Wha-a?", then remembers she discussed screenwriter Gertrude Berg while on the air...and apparently Mrs. Berg assumed it was about her. Maybe her first name is Gertrude.
Show time! Bruno is on the piano, while Julie sits in her ready position with her cello. Suddenly, her yokel friends file into the theater and seat themselves in the front row. Julie says hey to her ex-besties and starts playing, and everyone in the audience looks utterly entranced by her cello skills.
Danny tells David he has a costume emergency in the dressing room…but it turns out it’s just a set up to put David and Papa Reardon in a room alone together so they can try to kiss and make up. David tells his father that the Fame kids (and writers) believe in a happy ending...but that since they live in two such different worlds, he's doubtful a reconciliation can happen. He exits the room, leaving behind a crestfallen Papa Reardon.
David and Ms. Grant are discussing the performance with the students, telling them their energy levels were low during rehearsal and that it's supposed to be a special show, blah blah. Suddenly, they hear someone playing the piano…and David’s all, “Wha-a?”, so he pulls open the curtain and finds his father, who has made up his face to look like a sad clown. OK then. Danny says he'd like to take another crack at the performance, and urges everyone to do their best not to fuck it up again. He then starts dorkishly prancing around the stage while belting a tune about the secret of life and love. And since I kind of checked out by this point, I'll just have to assume that the performance somehow inspired David and his sad clown father to make up after six years of estrangement.
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Recap: Ms. Grant asks the man who's installing the new lighting in the school's theater how it's going, and he assures her he'll have the work done by tomorrow. After Ms. Grant ambles off, the man bellows, "Schwartz!" and a young Bruno Kirby appears. The man calls him Marty and asks him to go fetch the junction box from the truck.
Dwight posts the cast list for the school's upcoming show, and Julie squeals, "I got the lead!" while Doris glumly says she didn't get the part she wanted...then whines about how she wishes she were tall, thin, and had giant hooters. The lighting guy suddenly appears in the lobby and bellows, "Schwartz!" again, and Doris yells back, "Ovuh heeee!" The guy says he's looking for Schwartz the Lighting Guy, and Doris sassily barks back, "Do I look like Schwartz the Lighting Guy?" and he gives her a quick once-over and goes, "Uh...yeah. Sorta." Danny suddenly rushes into the lobby and yells, "Hey, Schwartz!" and Marty, who's loafing nearby, goes, "Yeah?" When the Schwartz misunderstandings finally run their course, Doris spots Marty standing across the lobby staring at her, and he slowly walks toward her. She shoots him a look of incredulity and goes, "Is it you?" and he grins and cheekily retorts, "No." She grins back and tells him he looks great and announces that she's going to give her long lost big brother a big hug. After the two hug and get caught up on each others' lives, Doris asks him if mom and dad know he's in town, and he says they don't and would rather she didn't blab it to them. He adds, "Dad isn't going to apologize - and neither am I." Doris points out that four years have passed since their falling out - but before Marty can answer, the bell rings. She asks him where he's living, and he tells her, "The East Village", and she promises to visit him soon (even though she didn't think to ask for his address). The lighting guy finds him and bellows, "Schwartz!", says he needs the junction box like pronto, and orders Marty to get back to work.
Ms. Grant polls her students about what genre of dance they'd prefer to perform for the upcoming recital, and they overwhelmingly vote for jazz. She nods and says, "Jazz wins" and Leroy expresses surprise and bewilderment that she's actually letting them decide something.
Bruno is stunned to learn that Doris has an older brother, and is blown away by the fact that she hasn't spoken to him in over four years. She explains that he fled to Canada while trying to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War ten years ago...and when he came home during the Carter amnesty, his dad was so upset by his draft dodging that he couldn't bring himself to forgive him. Dude...let it go already.
Mrs. Berg returns Ms. Grant's address book and tells her she contacted everyone in it to attend the school's upcoming recital and that it took her all afternoon. Ms. Grant's all, "Wha-a?!" and says she was only supposed to invite the four people whose names she underlined. Mrs. Berg looks sheepish and says she mistook the regular page lines for underlines and called everyone in the address book, including Ms. Grant's first ballet teacher, Louisa Stefanovich. Ms. Grant starts to wig out, but manages to keep it together enough to assure Mrs. Berg that it was an honest mistake. Sort of. Considering that Mrs. Berg isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, it might have been less confusing if Ms. Grant had simply given her a list of the four people she wanted to invite - not handed over the entire address book.
When Papa Schwartz arrives home from work, Doris barks at him to not come into the kitchen and spoil the surprise. She orders him to sit at the dining room table and keep his eyes closed, which he obediently does. While he's doing that, Doris and her mom bring out plates heaped with food...and Doris asks him if he knows what Saturday is. He says, "It's the eighteenth" then grimaces and adds, "It's his birthday...so what?" He says he doesn't give a hoot about Marty and likes that the draft dodging coward is out of their lives. Doris urges him to rethink his cunty attitude toward his own flesh and blood, but he refuses to put himself through another ill-fated reconciliation attempt and storms upstairs. Doris and her mom exchange troubled expressions and vow to keep trying to get through to the stubborn dickwad.
Ms. Grant tells her colleagues that stupid Mrs. Berg accidentally invited Louisa Stefanovich, her first ballet teacher, to the upcoming dance recital. She's irked about it 'cause she's afraid Louisa will see Leroy et. al. gyrating to jazz music and be unimpressed with what's become of her life. Sounds like a reasonable concern. She then decides that Louisa might be impressed if she injected some ballet moves into the recital...and hopes the kids don't notice.
Doris drops by Marty's apartment to implore him to come over to the house. When Marty makes a face, she fibs and says their dad is open to seeing him - but that he's going to need to make the first step. Marty tells her he doesn't want to go back to that house, but Doris says they're a family who needs each other. She wails, "Am I the only person who wants the family back together?!" and Marty quietly mulls that over.
During rehearsal, Ms. Grant tries to sneak some ballet moves into the production - but Leroy calls her on it and reminds her that she allowed them to choose what they wanted to perform and jazz had won out. He accuses her of breaking her word, but she denies that and insists she's just trying something new.
Marty arrives at Casa Schwartz just as Mama Schwartz emerges from the kitchen with a birthday cake and sets it on the dining room table. Marty stiffly says hello to his father, and Papa Schwartz just glares and asks him if he's healthy and working. Marty's like, "Uh...yeah" so Papa Schwartz mumbles, "Happy birthday...goodbye. Get him outa here." When his wife is all, "Wha-a?!", Papa Schwartz asks Marty if he came to apologize, and Marty says he came because stupid Doris led him to believe that there was a viable chance they could be a family again. Papa Schwartz asks him if he still thinks what he did was right, and Marty says he does, so his dad barks, "Then we have nothing to say to each other." Doris reminds her dad that it's Marty's birthday, and he grumbles to no one in particular, "Doris is the actor here, not me" and storms upstairs. What a malevolent dickwad. Doris blames herself for the evening's disastrous outcome (well d'yuh), but Marty forgives her 'cause she simply wanted her dad and brother to reconcile...but then chides her for lying about Papa Dickwad being willing to listen.
Bruno's in one of the music rooms at school, laboring over the music for Ms. Grant's recital, when Dwight enters the room for no apparent purpose with a sousaphone. He mumbles something and leaves a few seconds later...and then Mr. Shorofsky drops by and offers to help Bruno hammer out the piece for the recital.
Doris enters the theater and ambles onto the stage, where Marty is working on the lighting installation. She apologizes for messing up his birthday, and he says it wasn't her fault and that she had good intentions. She asks him if he'd ever consider coming by the house again, and he says, "Not likely" and says that sometimes things don't work out when one has a family member who's extraordinarily dickish and inflexible. She urges him to leave the door open until she can convince Papa Dickwad to be more receptive to a reconciliation...and when Marty says he's really not up to it anymore, she insists on doing it whether he wants her to or not. So there.
Ms. Grant is presiding over the dance rehearsal...and Leroy, who's wearing his usual short shorts, looks discombobulated with the mixture of jazz and ballet and abruptly stops dancing. He grumbles, "You have to be kidding" and Ms. Grant sassily assures him she is not, then explains that she's trying "a combo plate" and urges them all to try again.
Papa Dickwad is up late, watching news in the living room when Doris lumbers downstairs and joins him on the couch. He asks her if she's mad at him, and she says, "A little" so he explains that he believes in things...and if you take a person's beliefs away, there's nothing left. Doris points out that Marty also believes in things...then asks if it's too much to expect family members to be allowed to have their own beliefs and still be united as a family. Papa Dickwad chuckles and says, "It's tough having a daughter who's smarter than I am" and Doris earnestly says she's smart enough to know what's important in life. She wails, "I need a family!" and Papa Dickwad lets out a big sigh and says, "Yeah, I was thinking I need one of those too." She offers to try to get Marty to come back to the house, but Papa Dickwad can't bring himself to commit to not act like a rude turd in his son's presence. Doris suggests, "Just let him be here and see what happens" and Papa Dickwad smiles and promises to give it a try. Doris lights up and kisses her dad, and on her way back to bed, she slips into a little girl voice and says, "Daddy...I love you" then scampers up the stairs like a ten year old.
During the dance rehearsal, Ms. Grant barks at her students, "Dance like you mean it! Jump in the air!" but everyone looks bored and lackluster. Leroy, who's in his usual short shorts, suddenly goes rogue and starts gyrating...and Ms. Grant cross her arms in annoyance and warily watches the nut-sack jiggling spectacle. When he's finally gyrated-out, she barks at everyone to take the ballet-jazz number from the top.
Dwight is shuffling around the lobby, monitoring the halls while playing his sousaphone. I wonder why this gnome is never in class...and, more importantly, why this superfluous character hasn't yet been written off the show. He encounters Doris and demands to know where she's going, and she tells him she has to go have a very important talk with her brother. Dwight refrains from making a citizen's arrest and allows her to leave, and a grateful Doris remarks that it looks like he dropped a few pounds and is lookin' good. Dwight beams with delight.
Marty tells Doris that when he fled to Canada to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, he thought it was the right thing to do...and still thinks it was. That said, he never felt like he fit in among the Canadians...but now that he's back in the U.S. he's annoyed that he still isn't the world's hottest lighting director, and also hates having to risk facing his father's wrath every time they're in the same room together. He laments, "There's too much hurt in that house" and says he's officially giving up on a reconciliation. A frustrated and angry Doris storms out.
Doris drops by Casa Martelli and asks Bruno if she can stay the night, and he says it's no problem and asks her if she wants to talk about whatever's bothering her. She declines, except to tell him that he's lucky to have such a cool pop, and that the two comprise a tight family unit. Bruno concurs, then says, "This might help" and [fuuuuuuuuuck] starts playing a wretched sounding tune on his synthesizer. Doris somehow knows the lyrics and starts singing along...and it appears to help her work through her dysfunctional family issues. Papa Martelli comes downstairs, nods appreciatively, and remarks, "Boy do I ever love that song" - LOL - and we learn that Bruno wrote it when the two of them were going through a rough patch. Papa Martelli tells Doris that the song "cut through all the hurt", and Doris credits him for being a good listener and asks if he could please give her a fatherly hug.
Ms. Grant seems happy with her students' progress for the upcoming ballet-jazz recital, and after a session of flitting, leaping, and twirling, a bunch of people start arriving at the school. Turns out when Mrs. Berg mistakenly invited everyone in Ms. Grant's address book to the recital, she also got the date wrong...and everyone thinks it's today. The guests stream into the dance gym - including one Louisa Stefanovich, who limps along with a cane. Ms. Grant gushingly greets her, and Louisa sternly asks her if she got to be very good. Ms. Grant chuckles nervously and replies, "I dunno. Let's find out" then makes a beeline over to her students and informs them they're going to have to perform the ballet-jazz number right now. She implores them not to not fuck it up and reveals that her much respected, former ballet teacher is in the house and she doesn't want to look like a total failure in front of the woman.
The students manage to pull off a stunning performance with lots of split leaping, twirling...and gyrating from Leroy - but thankfully on this day he's wearing tights. When they finish, Louisa Stefanovich stares sternly into space as everyone around her enthusiastically claps...but a few seconds later, she joins in and claps along. Ms. Grant looks relieved, especially after Louisa starts blowing her kisses. Phew! Performing arts crisis averted.
Papa Dickwad drops by Marty's apartment and gruffly says he's looking for Doris. Marty tells him she's not here - but tells him she dropped by yesterday to wail at him about how much she needs an intact family unit. Papa Dickwad tells his son he doesn't think he'll ever understand his weeny-penis decision to dodge the draft, and Marty says that since they're both adults now, it's OK for them to have differing opinions. One of them (can't remember who 'cause I kind of zoned out during this scene) recalls that Doris once said something like, "Family is more important than any differences that exist between the members of the family", and the two agree that as father and son they need to giddyup on the kissing/making up before the end credits start to roll. Both men tear up, and Papa Dickwad exclaims, "Four and a half years of missing someone is long enough!" and, just like that, the two hug out ten years' worth of bad blood.
Papa Dickwad says they should probably go look for Doris...and when he opens the door, he finds her standing on the doorstep looking on the verge of happy tears. She tells them she's been standing there for awhile, eavesdropping (which is weird), and the three collapse together in a long-awaited family hug.
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Recap: Danny has been appointed stage manager for The School of the Arts' latest show, and the power has clearly gone to his head, 'cause he's running around barking, "Five minutes!" at whoever's within earshot. Julie rushes into the theater and explains to Mr. Shorofsky and her orchestra-mates that she's late 'cause someone moved her cello from the storage area...and since she can't locate it, she's stuck with a shitty practice cello.
Recurring cast member Michelle is wearing a long red costume and complaining to Ms. Grant that it's way too big and needs to be altered. That's too bad. No one cares. Go away.
We then get a long, drawn out dress rehearsal of the upcoming show. Coco is the lead singer and dancer - shocker - and from what I can tell, the theme of the show is a girl's nonsensical dream, and the costumes are all over the place: Coco is in an Egyptian style get-up, Leroy is dressed like Robin Hood, and the other dancers are wearing ballet tutus.
Ms. Grant gives the performers shit for their low energy dance moves, and Mr. Reardon jumps on the bandwagon and chides Coco for making a late entrance in one of her scenes. She shoots him the stink-eye...and as everyone files out of the theater after the rehearsal, Ms. Grant asks Coco whassup with her bitchitude, then asks her to stop by the dance gym later for a one-on-one pep talk.
Bruno answers the pay phone when it rings, and it's his pop, telling him he won't be able to pick him up from school today. Papa Martelli doesn't give Bruno any further details, except to ask him to meet him at 50th and 9th. Bruno scrunches his face in confusion and, after he gets off the phone, realizes that that's the address of a hospital.
Papa Martelli is at the nurse's station, flirting with one of the nurses when Bruno arrives at the hospital, and asks him whassup. Papa Martelli informs him that he was in an accident, during which his cab got totalled and he blacked out for a few minutes. He insists he's fine, but the doctor didn't want him to leave unless he had someone to escort him home. On their way to the elevator, they run into Coco, and she tells them she's there to see her ailing grandmother...I mean her special Abuelita.
The nurse snappishly informs Coco that it's way past visiting hours and that they're very strict in Intensive Care. Coco says she had no idea her grandmother was moved there, then begs the nurse to allow her to see her grandmother for at least a few seconds. The nurse instantly softens and sneaks Coco up to the ICU and even places a chair by her grandmother's bed. Coco talks to her for a few minutes, then sings to her before bidding her unconscious loved one good night.
Papa Martelli tells Bruno he has no recollection of the accident, and Bruno unhelpfully exclaims, "That's scary!" Papa Martelli admits he's worried 'cause his taxi driver's license is up for renewal, and one of the questions they ask cab drivers is: have you experienced blackouts or loss of consciousness? Well, d'yuh, Papa Martelli, but I'm pretty sure they're referring to recurring or unexplained losses of consciousness. Then again, maybe you're not smart enough to be driving a cab.
Miss Sherwood babbles to her English students about how difficult it is to write in a non-native language, then announces the names of several team leaders and orders them to each put together a team to work on the next term paper. Team leader Doris chooses Leroy and Bruno, then asks Coco if she'd like to join them...but Coco says she has too much on her mind to think about schoolwork, and rushes out of the classroom. Bruno tells Doris he saw Coco at the hospital last night, then irks Doris when he clams up and doesn't provide any further details.
Julie is storming around the school, outraged at whoever has stolen her cello. It looks like The School of the Arts could use better security.
Ms. Grant and Mr. Reardon are giving everyone a pep talk before the show, and a few seconds later, Danny bursts into the dressing room shouting, "Places!" Michelle complains to Ms. Grant about her costume again, and continues to natter about it until Ms. Grant shoves her out of the room with a firm butt smack. After that, we get to see the show in all of its deranged glory: Doris looks like she's supposed to be the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and other costumes include a cowboy, a Native American, and a Flamenco dancer. Leroy, who's once again dressed as Robin Hood, sings off tune about caterpillars. It's definitely the school's weirdest show to date.
Doris gushes to Coco about how great her performance was, and Coco gives her an unenthusiastic thank you. Bruno ambles over and asks Coco how her grandmother is doing, and she tells him she died...then dashes out of the theater. Doris chases after her and finds her sitting on a bench in the hall looking sad. Coco reminisces about the time her Abuelita allowed her to skip school so they could go to the ocean together, then describes how thrilling it was to see the water and the waves, blah blah. She tells Doris that her grandmother was the most important person in her life, and therefore doesn't know understand she was able to perform so well in the weird show just now. She stares at Doris in bewilderment and wails, "What is this school turning me into?! What am I becoming?!" She then gets up and wanders off, and Doris stares after her concernedly and starts weeping.
In music class, Julie bitches to Mr. Shorofsky about the shitty "factory cello" she's been stuck with since losing her regular cello. Mr. Shorofsky tells her to think of the instrument as her "foster cello" and to shut the fuck up about it and perform the piece she's supposed to be performing.
In the library, Doris, Bruno, and Leroy hatch a plan to recover Julie's missing cello. Leroy suggests they start by scoping out pawn shops, and Danny gets a list of the shops from the yellow pages. Doris reminds them of an important clue: on the bottom of Julie's cello is a brass plaque with her initials inscribed. Good. That oughta make The Case of the Missing Cello a relatively easy one to crack.
Ms. Grant informs Coco that some producer type caught her performance in the weird show they just put on and wants her to audition for him. Coco reminds her about the school's rule against students auditioning, and Ms. Grant chuckles and says, "That's supposed to be my line!" She then admits that the rule is total bullcack, and that no faculty member has ever cared enough to bother enforcing it. She hands Coco a piece of paper with the guy's number written on it and urges her to make the call.
Michelle announces to Ms. Grant that she finally got her costume altered so that it fits her properly - and Ms. Grant gives her a funny look and tells her the show ended last week. Womp womp! Michelle whines about being "a teeny little shrimp" whose costumes never fit, so she's learning how to be a seamstress so she can do her own alterations. Fantastic. No one cares. Go away.
Leroy arrives at a pawn shop and sees a cello displayed in the window. He goes inside to check it out, but doesn't find the tell-tale brass plaque on the bottom of the instrument. Pawn Store Guy tells Leroy he has another, better cello in the back room...and when he brings it over to the counter, Leroy examines it and finds Julie's brass plaque on the bottom. He busts Pawn Store Guy for trying to peddle stolen goods, and tells him that if he doesn't let him walk out of the store with the cello, he's going to call the police. Pawn Store Guy sheepishly caves to Leroy's demands and allows him to take it.
Coco is helping Mr. Shorofsky pile a bunch of boxes onto a storage shelf. She gabbles to him about how special her Abuelita was, then says she sometimes worries that her over-ambitiousness is preventing her from having a healthy balance in her life.
Leroy is prancing down the street carrying Julie's cello when a cop stops him and asks him what he's doing with that fancy instrument...and instead of just telling him anything that resembles the truth, Leroy glances around shiftily and tells the cop he's on his way to cello class. The skeptical cop orders him to prove it by playing something, so Leroy seats himself on a wooden crate and pretends to know what he's doing...but when it's clear that he can't play worth a crap, the cop orders him to come with him to the station.
Doris tells Bruno how troublesome she finds it that Coco doesn't seem very interested in her upcoming audition...and a few seconds later, Michelle flounces over to show them her newly shortened costume. Someone please explain to me why this girl hasn't melted into the background yet. Doris then decides she doesn't have the right to get all up in Coco's bidness, while Bruno suddenly gets a brilliant idea and mutely rushes out of the room.
Bruno finds Coco moping by herself in the dance gym. He reminds her of all the times he's accompanied her (on the piano) during her auditions, then says he now needs her to return the favor. She's like, "Can do" and asks him when and where the audition is...and he grins and goes, "You tell me" and says he needs her to accompany him to her audition. She grins at her clever friend and gives him the time and place of her audition, and he promises to meet her there. Michelle (fuuuuuuuuuuck) bounds into the dance gym to show Coco and Bruno that she's further altered her red costume into a skimpy leotard, and Coco throws her a bone and tells her it looks hot.
Coco, Doris, and Julie are summoned to the office in response to a phone call from Leroy, who's being detained at the police station for cello theft.
When the three arrive at the police station, Julie happily reunites with her cello while Doris and Coco explain to the cop that Leroy was merely trying to return the stolen instrument to its rightful owner. As they bicker with the crusty cop, Julie starts playing a song on her cello and gets all fancy with the bow...and everyone falls silent and stares over at her in awe. The cop looks impressed and says, "If that ain't your cello, it sure as hell ought to be." And now that the boring mystery of the missing cello has been solved, he orders the Fame kids to beat it.
Papa Martelli tells Bruno that he accidentally took his (Bruno's) wallet when he went to get his taxi driver's license renewed and is certain he's losing his mind. Bruno chuckles and tells him it's his fault, 'cause he's the one who took the wrong wallet to school, then curses his aunt for buying both of them wallets that look exactly the same. At this point, I was fully expecting Michelle to burst in and show the two men how she fashioned her skimpy red leotard into a barely there red bikini.
Coco arrives late for her audition because of the whole cello situation and finds Mr. Shorofsky in the waiting area. He explains that he's filling in for Bruno, then tells her that the stage manager is a former student of his, so he asked him to move her name further down on the list so she'd have enough time to get there. He then uses her lateness of an example of why she shouldn't worry about being overly ambitious - meaning, she made it a priority to help out a friend instead of being on time for an audition. Coco shoots him a grateful smile and invites him to go with her to the ocean after the audition, and he smiles back and tells her he'd love to. (Further proof that Mr. Shorofsky is awesome.) Coco's name is then called, and she heads over to the stage and belts out a tune, sounding not half bad...and after she finishes, somewhere from out of the darkness the producer chirps, "You did a wonderful job!" and then the scene fades to black.
Recap: Miss Sherwood is handing back essay assignments, chiding the dumb Fame kids for all their bad grammar. She tells them that because their writing sucked so badly, they're going to have to redo the narration for the upcoming show, then splits everyone into groups of three. Coco and Leroy are jazzed to learn that they'll be working with Jenny, an over-achiever who actually knows how to string coherent sentences together. [FYI: Jenny is the same actress who plays Lauren on The Young and the Restless.] Jenny suggests the three of them get together this afternoon in the library so they can work on an outline.
Bruno is bellyaching to Mr. Shorofsky about how he doesn't think the school should whitewash American history in the upcoming show. Mr. Shorofsky says it's less a case of whitewashing than it is a celebration, then tells him to shut it and just do the music part of it the way he tells him to.
Coco is sitting outside the back of a Manhattan theater, waiting for her Puerto Rican boyfriend, Julio. When Julio exits out the back door, she rushes into his arms and the two hug and kiss. He brags that he got four encores, then does a little twirl to demonstrate his slick dance moves. The two make out for a little while, and then Coco breaks away from him and rushes back to school to meet up with Leroy and Jenny.
Ms. Grant drops by Miss Sherwood's classroom to ask if her students have completed the narration for the show yet. Miss Sherwood tells her they stunk it up on the first round of the assignment so she sent them back to the drawing board. She then notices that one of her students left a book behind...and she picks it up, leafs through it, and is startled to see that a lot of passages are blacked out with a marker. The two women stare at the book in confusion, and Miss Sherwood solemnly declares, "This is not just a damaged book. It's desecration. Strangled ideas. And that's a damn sin."
The next day in English class, Miss Sherwood wanders around the classroom as the students quietly read. She notices that the book Jenny is reading has a bunch of passages blacked out...and Jenny sheepishly looks up at Miss Sherwood, but doesn't say anything.
Coco brings Julio to the school and introduces him to the other Fame kids. Danny and Leroy gush about how he's in a real show - but Julio's bummed out 'cause the show is only on for another three nights, and after that he'll be out of work.
Over in the theater, Ms. Grant is leading a dress rehearsal of the upcoming show. It depicts Native Americans on a hunt, and several loin cloth clad students leap around the stage clutching bows and arrows. As the rehearsal drags on for-bloody-ever, the audience looks completely transfixed by the odd looking spectacle.
Miss Sherwood meets privately with Jenny after class...and when she demands an explanation for the blacked out passages in her books, Jenny confesses that her stepfather did it. [I'll assume the assfuck is marking up books he paid for - otherwise I'm sure Miss Sherwood could have him busted him for defacing school property.] When Sherwood asks why he'd do something so bizarre, she replies, "He believes they're dangerous." Miss Sherwood stares back at her blankly and goes, "What..?" so Jenny explains that he thinks the words are dangerous. Miss Sherwood quietly shoots her a long, what-the-fuckety-fuck? stare as the scene fades out for a commercial break.
Miss Sherwood rails to her co-workers about how Jenny's stepfather censors everything before it gets to her: books, music, TV. That sounds enormously time consuming. Mr. Shorofsky says he heard a similar discussion to this in Germany in 1938...and that the people discussing it hoped the problem would just go away. Miss Sherwood says she wants to do something, but Ms. Grant warns her that this sounds like a private family matter. Miss Sherwood refuses to accept that and says that Jenny is her special classroom pet - much like Leroy is to her (Ms. Grant) and Bruno is to Mr. Shorofsky. She then puffs herself up and barks, "I'm damned if I'm going to keep my nose clean and stay out of it!" and her co-workers are all, "Damn, girrrrl! You go!"
Coco and Julio are amorously making out after another of his performances. She tells him that Ms. Grant saw his show and remarked that with the right training (I'm assuming with her as his dance instructor), he could one day be great. Julio shrugs and says he cares less about being great than getting steady work, then laments, "I'm too old to go back to schooool!" Coco accuses him of being scared of success and stardom, and he hangs his head shamefully and meekly admits she's right. He says he's gotten it into his head that Latinos can't be successful in the American performing arts world and that that's "just the way it is". Coco argues, "That's not the way it has to be."
Bruno is playing one of his original scores for Mr. Shorofsky - but Mr. Shorofsky is staring out the window, not really paying attention. Bruno asks him whassup and remarks that he doesn't seem like himself today, and Mr. Shorofsky admits he's not and asks Bruno if he heard about what's going down in the English department. Bruno says yes, and Mr. Shorofsky shakes his head and says it deeply upsets him that Jenny isn't free to read a book of her choice because her stepfather likes to go bananas with his black marker.
Jenny tells Miss Sherwood how mortified she is that everyone now seems to know about Black Marker-gate. Miss Sherwood denies being the blabbermouth, then stares at her in puzzlement and asks her how such a creative, talented person could have come out of a repressively censored environment. Jenny explains that when her real dad was around, they read all kinds of books together. But then he abandoned the family...and eventually her mom hooked up with Richard, who became husband #2. Jenny credits him with being a solid man and says that blacking out passages in her books is just his fucked up way of saying he cares. Miss Sherwood softly asks, "What about Jenny?" and Jenny tears up and says she doesn't know how to tell him where he can shove his black marker. She wails about how he's already taken away the book she's supposed to read next week and that he self-righteously declared it should be banned. She cries, "I want to read it!" Miss Sherwood offers to have a face-to-face with the preacher-from-Footloose-wannabe, and Jenny looks hopeful and says, "Would you?"
Miss Sherwood arrives at the McLean residence, and Richard politely invites her inside and offers her coffee/tea. She seats herself on his couch and says she doesn't know where to begin telling him how giant a douchetard he is, so he jumps in and says she probably thinks that Jenny's future is being damaged by his "screening process". Miss Sherwood is like, "Well d'yuh" so Richard says he totally agrees with her - but then says she's falsely assuming that he endorses Jenny's wish to become a writer. He does not. He would prefer she give up that dream and focus on his dream of her being musician...which I guess would explain why she's attending a performing arts high school. Miss Sherwood tells him that Jenny is sooo talented and deserves every chance to develop, and Richard assures her she will develop - but only in the "healthy and decent" uptight way he deems fit. He then starts railing about all the smut that's in books, and Miss Sherwood argues that he's censoring Jenny not from pornography, but from ideas...and Richard counter-argues that these ideas come from fallible people. He then gets all smug-ass and says she probably came to his home expecting to find a simple minded dinkwhistle who she could dazzle with her fancy, logical arguments, then says, "Instead you found someone who's already thought through all the arguments and made his decision." Miss Sherwood throws in the towel trying to knock any sense into the dumb yokel and looks defeated as she heads toward the door. He thanks her for being concerned about Jenny and adds that she's a wonderful child...and Miss Sherwood wryly points out that Jenny isn't a child.
Coco tells Doris that Julio has decided to join the Navy...which seems pretty random, but whatever. She explains that because he's Puerto Rican, he feels a lot of prejudice in the dancing world and wants to expand his horizons and be all that he can be. She tells Doris that Julio is leaving in ten days...and that he loves her, and she loves him...hint hint. Doris scrunches her face as she carefully mulls that over - then finally gets a clue that Julio want to bone Coco before he ships off to war. She leaps up, exclaims how great that is and shrieks, "Go for it!" Coco says she doesn't know if she's ready to get her cherry popped, but Doris shriekingly assures her she is.
Miss Sherwood tells Jenny she didn't make much headway with her douchepig of a stepfather, and Jenny nods sadly and thanks her for trying. Miss Sherwood then tells her the only way she's going to resolve the issue is for her to grow a pair and tell her parents how badly she wants to become a writer...and also explain to them that she can't expect to pass her English class if Fuckwit insists on blacking out half the content of the literature she's supposed to be reading.
Jenny retreats to the dressing room looking sad and morose. Leroy follows her and asks her whassup, and she mutters something about it not being easy to do what's right for her. Leroy says it's never easy to "take what's yours" and shares how tough it is for him to be the only [gay] dancer in his 'hood...yet he holds onto it despite the ever present threat of people ridiculing his twirling and gyrating. He urges her to hold onto her dream of being a writer, and Jenny mulls that over and offers to help him and Coco finish the narration assignment.
Julio is telling Coco all about the Navy ship he'll soon be boarding, then gives her an amorous smooch. She shoves him away, says she's going to be late for school, then flees. Ouch.
Jenny finds Miss Sherwood in the hall and excitedly urges her to follow her. Jenny leads her to the library, where she starts pulling various books off the shelves. She says that these are the books her stepfather has censored - and that, by golly, she's going to read them whether he likes it or not. LOL. Is this seriously the first time it's dawned on her that she can borrow the books she wants to read from the school's library? She vows to "win this battle" - and to that end, she's written her stepfather a letter she'd like Miss Sherwood to read and weigh in on.
Coco enters the school's empty auditorium looking for Julio. He slowly emerges from the shadows and asks, "Is tonight our night? I love you"...and she returns his I love you and natters something about how they're lovers in her dreams, together forever. Julio looks disappointed and asks, "Only in your dreams?" and she nods and tells him she needs time to know what's right for her. He takes the disappointing news impressively well and gives her a friendly goodbye hug. He assures her they have time, then softly adds, "Just keep me in your dreams and I'll come back to you." Oh well, I guess that's that. Godspeed, Julio.
Miss Sherwood is sitting in the stairwell with Jenny, reading aloud the letter that Jenny wrote to her stepfather. She describes him as an awesome father and friend, and that he's made her strong enough to carve out something that's hers, blah blah.. Miss Sherwood looks moved by the stirring words and nods approvingly as she hands the letter back to Jenny.
Show time! Jenny prefaces the show by reading aloud the narration she wrote, and her stepfather - who's in the audience - looks proud and intrigued. After that, the show gets underway, and the Fame kids take the stage and sing about how they can be anything...and that America is still a place where dreams can come true. Except maybe if you're Danny and dream of being a pop star, 'cause yikes. That boy still can't sing worth a shit.
Recap: Ms. Grant is presiding over her dance class, as the students tango in pairs. Svelte Coco glides along in her usual, elegant manner...while dumpy Doris, who's paired with Danny, stumbles clumsily along until she trips and falls on her ass. A few seconds later, the bell rings, and a grateful looking Ms. Grant dismisses the class.
Bruno is on the pay phone, pretending to be Coco's agent...but the person he's talking to doesn't buy it and hangs up on him. Coco looks bummed and says she's soooo right for the part of Angela in [the film] Cakewalk it hurts. Bruno retorts in his usual mopey way, "What can I say? Life isn't fair" and invites her to come over to Casa Martelli after school to join him in helping Leroy with some sort of showcase.
Doris whines to Danny that Coco and Leroy make everything look so easy on the dance floor - and Danny wryly points out that they have the unfair advantage of being actual dancers. Doris marches over to the bulletin board and complains that Coco has a part in practically every show! She grumps about Coco's "halo effect", vows to be better than her (not sure at what), then pronounces, "She's had it easy long enough!"
In the basement of Casa Martelli, Leroy is gyrating while Bruno plays his synthesizer and Coco sits in a sofa chair. When Papa Martelli comes down with some sodas, Coco starts bellyaching about how she hasn't been able to reach director Charles McKay to tell him how awesome she'd be in his upcoming film. Papa Martelli tells her that, as coincidence would have it, he gave Charles McKay a ride in his cab the other day. Coco's all, "Wha-a?!" and says all she needs is a chance to show the bigwig what she can do. Papa Martelli says the chances are slim he'll pick him up in his cab again, but tells her he somehow knows that McKay likes to eat breakfast at the same deli every morning at 9am. He suggests she show up there and introduce herself. Coco flushes with excitement and exclaims, "I have to practice what to say to him!" and rushes off, abandoning Leroy's showcase rehearsal.
The next morning, Coco, a giant ghetto blaster, and a group of Fame kids arrive at McKay's favorite deli. A few minutes later, Charles McKay enters, and Coco discreetly squeals to a disinterested Leroy, "It's him!" She promptly gives the Fame kids a signal, and they all take off their jackets and move the chairs and tables in order to create a performing space. Charles McKay looks intrigued by the impromptu show unfolding before him and takes a seat as Coco hits play on the giant ghetto blaster and starts leaping and twirling about (with the other Fame kids functioning as her backup dancers). A few minutes into the performance, the tape in the ghetto blaster dies. Coco's all, "Ack!" and rushes over to Charles McKay to thrust her resume at him and tell him she'd be perfect for the role of Cakewalk's Angela. Charles McKay mutely stares at her and her resume, then mutely beats a hasty retreat...leaving behind a deflated looking Coco.
Doris is sitting in front of the mirror in the school's dressing room, doing weird facial exercises. Danny tells her to knock it off and just do the Lady Macbeth scene already, so she performs the scene, but does a horrible job overacting and using strange hand gestures. Danny's assessment is that she looked like she was blandly reading the lines while doing funny things with her face and body. Doris glumly remarks, "I'm a round, soft-edged Jewish girl, not a murderous queen" then stares in the mirror again and sourly calls herself "a walking Twinkie" with zero grace and unsightly thunder thighs.
During lunch, Doris stares hungrily at Julie and Danny as they munch away on delicious, fattening food while she nibbles on raw vegetables. When Coco and Leroy join them at the table with their plates of delicious, fattening food, Doris bitches at Leroy for having two pieces of cake on his plate. He reminds her that because he spends so much of the school day gyrating in short shorts, he needs lots of carbs to refuel. Mrs. Berg appears out of nowhere to deliver a letter to Coco marked urgent, and Coco immediately rips it open and squeals, "It's from Charles McKay! It worked!" Doris stares enviously in Coco's direction as she silently reads the letter, then says, "This is my shot, man." She suddenly springs up and dashes out of the cafeteria...and Doris runs after her to tell her she forgot to eat her sandwich. Coco says she's too pumped up and tells Doris she can have it, but Doris ignores that and says she needs thirty seconds of her time to explain her "halo effect" and how she always manages to keep her eyes on the prize and do everything so perfectly. Coco shrugs happily and says a lot of good things are happening for her, then tells her that Bruno sometimes helps her focus. Doris mutters, "Bruno.." and looks inspired. She thanks Coco and rushes off, tossing Coco's sandwich at Dwight as she scampers down the hall.
Coco asks Mr. Reardon if he could give her some special help at the exact same time Doris is asking Bruno to give her special help.
In the next scene, Doris and Bruno are strolling in a park, discussing her body image issues. Bruno tells her she needs to be in charge of her body, redefine who she is, and figure out her priorities - to which Doris wails, "I'll never be skinnnnny!" Bruno tells her to knock off the self pity then urges her to "image", meaning think of her appetite as a terrible monster and her willpower as a white knight. (What kind of moronic advice is that to give an insecure, non-obese teenage girl?) Doris closes her eyes and attempts to visualize...but a few seconds later she sees people in the park eating ice cream and can't stop herself from salivating.
Coco performs a scene for Mr. Reardon, and when she finishes he gives her a few tips about not rushing lines, then says generally she's pretty good. He asks her if she's preparing for an audition and reminds her The School of the Arts has a rule against that [which, to date, no faculty member has taken seriously]. Instead of answering, Coco packs up her stuff and high-tails it out of the room.
The next day, Coco does a reading for Charles McKay...and he's so blown away by her awesomeness that he expresses puzzlement about why she doesn't have an agent or any acting credits. She explains that she attends The School of the Arts, which takes up a lot of her time. He tells her she definitely has a shot at the role of Angela - but says she'll have to take a screen test. Coco looks excited at the prospect and exclaims, "I'd love to!" but Charles warns her that she can't half-heartedly prance around like she might at one of her pissant school plays; she's going to have to knock their socks off. Coco eagerly bobs her head up and down and guarantees him that socks will be knocked off. The two shake hands, and he tells her that if she gets the role, she'll likely have to quit school and move out west. Coco looks momentarily sad about dropping out of the dump of a school, then breezily says she totally understands that a career in showbiz would change her entire life.
While tangoing during dance class, Doris looks much improved...but still ends up toppling over. She explains to Ms. Grant that she's having a low energy day, so Ms. Grant urges her to get some fruit juice. Doris screeches, "Noooo!!" and growls about how receiving nutritional advice isn't supposed to be part of the curriculum. Ms. Grant somehow restrains herself from smacking the impertinent little wench.
Doris swallows some diet pills and washes them down with a gulp of water. She tells Danny what a giant fool she just made of herself in dance class, but that it's no biggie 'cause after fasting for three days she's lost four pounds. Danny looks alarmed and urges her to eat something, but she insists on sticking to her starvation regimen 'cause, yeah, that's sustainable.
Coco hands Mr. Reardon a script of Cakewalk and pretends as though she got it from a friend. Mr. Reardon isn't buying it and tells her to level with him, so Coco admits that she's auditioning for a role in the film. He mulls that over, then decides that instead of blowing the whistle on her, he's going to be a mensch and help her prepare for the screen test.
Coco runs into Leroy in the hall and tells him she's too busy with her screen test to help him with his showcase, and urges him to find someone else. Leroy scowls at her in his usual scowly way and snarks, "Good luck, Miss Diva."
As Miss Sherwood is handing back essay assignments, she gets into an argument with Danny about his focus on all the food that was served at a wedding instead of writing about the wedding itself. The endless talk of food makes Doris queasy, and she gets up and stumbles toward the door, mumbling that she needs a drink of water. Miss Sherwood asks her if she's OK, and instead of politely replying, "Yep, I'm fine" and quietly slipping out of the room like a normal, non-histrionic person might, she opts to rant about her many deficiencies in front of the entire class: "Noooo!! I'm too short. I don't have cheekbones. I dance like a rock. And some people in this school are so damn perfect, I can't handle it!" After that, she passes out on the floor, and Miss Sherwood yells for someone to go get the school nurse. As everyone stares worriedly at one another, Danny informs Miss Sherwood that Doris has been on a very restrictive diet of zero food.
Doris is laying atop a bed in the infirmary when Miss Sherwood drops by with some juice. Doris tells her she hasn't eaten in three days, and Miss Sherwood calls her stupidity "boneheaded dumb". Doris then starts rambling about how she (Miss Sherwood) is so great looking and stylish and laments that she'll never be a refined lady like her. Miss Sherwood says she's merely older and wiser, then half-heartedly throws her a bone by telling her that she's the lucky one 'cause of how talented and magical she is.
Coco stops by the music room to check in with Bruno. She tells him that while she's nervous about the screen test, she's ready to blow the Cakewalk people away with her performing arts abilities. Bruno says they'll all be rooting for her, but then gets mopey about the prospect of her leaving them behind if she makes it into show business. Coco insists she won't forget about her friends, but Bruno looks skeptical and dickishly gives her a guilt trip about the way she blew off Leroy and his dumb showcase.
Doris is in the dressing room with Julie, browsing through a clothing rack for an outfit to wear for her Lady Macbeth performance. She natters about food groups and refers to herself as pudgy, and a disinterested Julie tells her to try to be sensible and not jump off the deep end with a stupid diet. Some random girl bursts into the room to announce to the two of them that Coco is back from her screen test...and that she's holding court, telling everyone how wonderfully she did. Doris scrunches her face with envy.
Coco is sitting atop a piano, telling everyone about how hard it is to "hit the mark" while acting so that the camera can catch them in the perfect position. She says she thinks she did really really well, but then shrugs in an overly casual/breezy manner and says, "Whatever happens happens."
Coco runs into Leroy in the hall and says that after weeks of blowing him off, she's now available to help him with his showcase. He says, "No thanks" and tells her that Marguerite is doing a fantastic job helping him. After he ambles off, a sad looking Coco mutters, "Good...I'm glad."
Doris is performing as Lady Macbeth in front of Mr. Reardon and her drama classmates. Reardon praises her performance and asks her why she thinks she did so much better than last time, so Doris mulls that over and says her previous performance lacked substance, and that this time she tried to put a lot more feeling into it. She then segue ways into the weird, toxic manner in which she's been relating to Coco, and how jealous she's been about how everything comes so easily to her - the final straw being the screen test. Coco suddenly blurts out, "I stunk up the joint!" and when the entire class turns around to stare at her in puzzlement and go, "Wha-a?" she admits that everything she said about nailing the screen test was total bullcack. She knew she was terrible and that her terribleness was all her fault. She confesses, "I got up there and choked" and says the harder she tried, the worse it got. Julie asks her why she didn't just tell them that earlier, so Coco says the screen test meant so much to her, and that having the image of being a perfect person put pressure on her to lie. She sadly reveals, "I'm not magic all the time." Doris walks over to where she's sitting, sticks out her pudgy arm, and offers her a nonsensical deal: "You be you and I'll be me." The two shake on it, and then Coco envelopes her frizzy-maned friend in a hug.
Showcase! In the cafeteria! (Not sure why we're not viewing this in the theater.) Bruno is playing the piano while the rest of the Fame kids gyrate and twirl about, wearing funny looking white top hats and singing about Manhattan.
Recap: A janitor watches/supervises as a blind man ambles around The School of the Arts, I'm assuming to familiarize himself with the place. After that, he watches the blind man throw wads of crumpled up paper at a garbage can. When he finally gets one in, the janitor says he needs to start mopping the lobby now, but the blind man bitchily orders him to sit the hell back down and snaps, "I'll tell you when we're done here!" The dismayed janitor sits back down as the rude turd continues to throw paper wads.
Ms. Grant is irked when she learns that six members of the school board's budget committee, headed by someone named David Collins, will be attending the school's trimester production. Ms. Grant says that Mr. Collins has never brought along board members to check out one of their shows before and wonders whassup. Mrs. Berg, who's engrossed in a paperback romance novel, says, "I imagine it's because we turned down his Debbie." Ms. Grant is all, "Wuh?" so Mrs. Berg explains that Debbie is Mr. Collins' niece, and that she auditioned for the school's dance program - but Ms. Grant didn't think her dancing was up to snuff so she rejected her. Ms. Grant asks her why she didn't tell her who Debbie's uncle was, so Mrs. Berg says she didn't want it to seem like she was getting special treatment, then says, "I know you're above that sort of thing." Heh.
Out in the hall, Miss Sherwood bumps into the blind man, which causes her to drop her papers. She snaps, "Why can't people watch where they're going?" and the blind man chortles and says, "We ran into each other, didn't we? I'll take half...you take the other half." When Miss Sherwood realizes he's blind, she sheepishly apologizes, and they both bend down to gather her papers. He introduces himself as Jim Landon and tells her he's substituting for [music teacher] Mr. Harper for a few weeks. Miss Sherwood offers to walk him to his classroom, so he asks, "Do I turn you on?" and she's all, "Wha-a?" so he snarks, "Well, that has to be the reason you would want to walk me to my classroom" then snappishly says he doesn't need extra help because of his blindness, if that was her real reason for offering. Or maybe she was just trying to be collegial, ya fuckwit. Jim salutes her and stomps off, and Miss Sherwood's like, "What a fucking weirdo" - or maybe that was me, projecting.
The Fame kids in Mr. Harper's music class are playing a mock baseball game with crumpled up paper wads when Jim enters the room. He quickly deduces what game they're playing, then makes a call as though he's an umpire, and this prompts Danny to protest and blurt out, "What are you? Blind or something?!" The room goes quiet when everyone realizes he is blind...and after the awkwardness, Jim introduces himself and says he'll be filling in for Mr. Harper for a few weeks. He tells everyone to sit down and warns them not to switch seats, and Doris says, "We'd never switch seats on someone like you" and Jim gets all prickly and asks her to explain that remark, so she just comes right out and says, "Because you're blind." Jim waves his hand in front of his face as if to test his non-existent eyesight, then quips, "Well I'll be damned!"
Ms. Grant is presiding over her dance class - but the dancers aren't able to perform very well 'cause they're too distracted from all the noise coming from Jim's music class, one floor up. For some reason, he's making everyone jump up and down while yelling, "Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh!" Ms. Grant snappishly tells her dance students that their concentration should be strong enough to shut out any distractions, then informs them that several members of the school board's budget committee will be attending their next show to find fault, and she doesn't want there to be any fault to find.
In the teacher's lounge, Ms. Grant bitches and moans to Miss Sherwood about the racket that's been coming from the music class the floor above the dance gym. She says she plans to tear into Jim Landon...and when Miss Sherwood tells her he's blind, she retorts, "So what? It doesn't give him the right to disrupt my classroom." Miss Sherwood winces and says, "He's very much his own man" which is a polite way of calling a douchewad a douchewad. A few seconds later, Jim enters the lounge carrying a tray of food, says hey to Miss Sherwood, and introduces himself to Ms. Grant. Ms. Grant scrunches her face in puzzlement and asks him how he knew Miss Sherwood was in the room, so he says he smelled her cologne, and it's the same kind his girlfriend wears. (Seriously? This abrasive turd has a girlfriend?) He asks Ms. Grant what she teaches, so she says dance, then tells him that the dance gym is located right underneath his music class. Jim irritably retorts, "Then we have to talk. The noise from your classroom is frankly intolerable, and I hope you're going to do something to tone it down." At first I figured he was just fucking with her...but when she stares at him, mouth agape with incredulity, and he bitchily snaps, "Do we understand each other?!" I had no choice but to accept that he was being totally serious and is morphing into a ruder, more gigantic douchewad with every scene.
When Julie and Doris complain to Bruno about what a weird, rude turd Jim Landon is, Bruno says he's probably just trying to shake them up a bit, and/or is trying to get them to think about things in a different way. Julie dismisses Jim as a show-off - but Doris argues that he's special, and that he's already taught them a valuable lesson: never give up.
The next day, Jim leads his class in a vocal exercise and launches into a song about vowels..and everyone snaps their fingers and bobs along to the beat. Jim then starts making shrieky noises, which everyone mimics - OMFG - and it's very horrific sounding and goes on waaay too long.
Downstairs in the dance gym, Ms. Grant is once again irked by the noise coming from Jim's class, so she abruptly orders Coco to take over, then storms upstairs. She encounters Dwight, who declares, "I need a hall permit", but when he sees the murderous look on Ms. Grant's face, he hastily says, "No, I don't." Why isn't this assclown ever in class?
Ms. Grant interrupts the music class and asks Jim if she could have a word with him in private, and once again he makes a snarky crack about all the racket coming from the dance gym. Ms. Grant tells him she doesn't think his students are going to be ready to perform in the trimester show - but Jim insists they will be, and sticks out his hand to shake on it. Ms. Grant ignores his outstretched hand, says, "I can't", and explains that the show will mostly be a showcase for the dance department. When he accuses her of wanting to hog the show 'cause she has a big ego, she angrily denies it and stalks off. Jim gets upset and mutters to himself, "Walk it off" and starts wandering around the halls.
Ms. Grant storms into the office to look up Mr. Harper's phone number so she can call him and find out how sick he actually is and when he's coming back. She start railing about the "officious egomaniac subbing for his class" then sees a strange man talking to Mrs. Berg. When she snaps, "Who are you?" Mrs. Berg tells her he's Mr. Belmont, and that he works for David Collins. Ms. Grant bitches about how Mr. Collins has taken a sudden interest in the school ever since his niece auditioned and was rejected, but Mr. Belmont tells her he knows nothing 'bout that and says he's only at the school to conduct a fire/safety test, as per Mr. Collins' order.
Jim, meanwhile, finds his way to the theater and sits down and looks sad and contemplative.
Dwight is aghast when he witnesses Mr. Belmont pull the lever to activate the fire alarm. Jim, meanwhile, hurries out of the theater and finds his way to the lobby, where Dwight is yelling, "Don't panic!" while looking very panicked, which is odd, since he knows first-hand this is just a drill. Jim heads over to the stairwell, but Doris stops him and says she made sure everyone made it downstairs OK. He insists, "I have to check for myself. They're my responsibility!" then shoves his way past Doris and snaps, "Out of the way, damn it!" LOL. Ms. Grant, who has witnessed the exchange, tells Doris she'll go upstairs after the idiot.
Jim is running down the hallway yelling, "Is anybody here?!" and then grabs onto a big pipe and looks totally wigged out. He runs across the hall into a classroom and once again yells, "Is anybody here?!" Obviously not, dickwad, otherwise they'd be answering you. Ms. Grant, who has followed him upstairs, watches his funny looking meltdown and looks sympathetic...but also kind of weirded out by the needlessly hysterical display. Jim emerges from the classroom and presses himself against the wall and starts crying, mutters, "No no...just a drill..." then kneels down and covers his face with his hands. Ms. Grant quietly tiptoes away, thinking to herself, "What a fucking weirdo" - oh wait...that was me, projecting again.
In Mr. Reardon's class, the students are performing a scene from Oedipus the King - post eye-gouging. Doris tears up, then starts weeping...and later tells Mr. Reardon she feels dumb for making a fool of herself. As well she should. Mr. Reardon correctly guesses that she's crying because of her empathy for a blind person, and Doris nods and says, "Does the hurt go away? Do you grow out of it?" Mr. Reardon replies, "Not if you're lucky."
Mr. Reardon makes a beeline over to Jim's classroom and introduces himself. He then says he wanted to let him know that one of his students is developing a crush on him. Jim says he's well aware of the fact that Doris digs him and bitchily snaps, "You're not the first person to come running in here with advice I simply don't need!" As the two walk down the hall together, Jim chides Mr. Reardon for his parental, condescending attitude, then accidentally enters the ladies room. Mr. Reardon watches with amusement until Jim comes out and sheepishly says to him, "I suppose you're still here" and enters the correct bathroom. Haha!
Ms. Grant tells a disinterested Mrs. Berg that she thinks David Collins is out for revenge because his niece wasn't admitted to The School of the Arts. She then wonders what the budget committee members would think if the trimester show featured a dancing blind man. Hmm..
Jim laughs heartily at the idea and tells Ms. Grant he's the biggest klutz on the planet, but Ms. Grant assures him, "If you can walk, you can dance." Jim sanctimoniously snarks about all the amazing stuff he's able to do on his own, and Ms. Grant agrees, but says that while some of it has been great, some of it has been really shitty. She gets exasperated and calls him "a boneheaded jackass" 'cause of how he'd rather do something all alone and fail rather than accept help and get something good done. Plus, he's just generally an arrogant, obnoxious fuckwad. She gives up and ends the conversation and watches as Jim ambles into the hallway, and suddenly clumsily leaps into the air. She encouragingly says, "Hey - that's pretty good!" and Jim grins like an idiot and says, "Still a klutz." Ms. Grant mutters to herself, "Not for long."
Doris arrives at music class and smiles sweetly at Jim, who ignores her - but then, it's probably 'cause he can't see her. Jim informs Danny that he won't be able to perform in the trimester show because of an unplanned number that's just been scheduled, and Danny seems mildly bummed. I didn't think the music students were even allowed to perform in the show...but, whatever.
Ms. Grant and Jim are walking down the hall, hand in hand, so I guess they're suddenly friends now. They head over to the dance gym, and after he gabbles nonsense for awhile, she yells, "Shut up and dance!" LOL. He obediently starts twirling and nearly falls over, and Ms. Grant lets out a heavy sigh and says, "Honey, maybe you can't dance." Jim tells her she's giving up on him too soon, then shrieks (!) and leaps around in attempt to dance - but bumps into the piano and falls to the floor. Ms. Grant laughs at his clumsiness, but then tells him she saw him running toward the imaginary fire during the drill and says it must have taken a lot of guts for him to do that. She then has a sudden change of heart and agrees to give him another dance lesson.
Show time! David Collins, a humorless looking white man, arrives at the theater and grumpishly takes his seat. Miss Sherwood greets a pretty blonde woman, who identifies herself as Jim's girlfriend...and Doris, who has eavesdropped on the exchange, does not look pleased to see her there. Jealous cat.
For some reason, Ms. Grant is the lead dancer in the show, and Jim is the lead singer. Eventually, the students appear as backup dancers...and Jim performs a few wooden dance steps and lifts Ms. Grant as she twirls and flits about on the stage. When they finally, mercifully wrap up the number, the audience jumps up and gives the performance a standing ovation...and even Mr. Collins is smiling and clapping along. Jim excitedly whispers to Ms. Grant, "I can dance!" and she shushes him as everyone continues to clap. LOL.
Please get well soon, Mr. Harper!
Recap: Leroy and his new girlfriend Stephanie walk down the hall together, hand in hand. Doris ogles them and asks Danny how long that's been going on, and Danny says they've been an item for about a week...and that it looks pretty serious. Bruno lumbers by just as Leroy and Stephanie start smooching and reminds them that Miss Carlton (the uptight ballet teacher) frowns on PDAs...but they pretend not to hear him and continue smooching. A few seconds later, Stephanie spots Miss Carlton coming towards them, so she shoves Leroy away, thanks him for walking her to class, and darts inside the dance gym. Miss Carlton shoots Leroy a look of disdain and snaps, "Don't you have a class to get to, Mr. Johnson?" He politely replies, "Yes, ma'am" and she orders him to move it.
A middle aged man is wandering around the halls, looking for Mr. Shorofsky. He runs into Mrs. Berg, who directs him upstairs.
During ballet class, Miss Carlton snarks at Bruno for his lax tempo on the piano, then shifts her glare to Stephanie and haughtily snarls, "This is a ballet class, not modern dance or jazz. We don't boogie here." Stephanie looks taken aback and says she didn't think she was doing that badly, so Miss Carlton says she should aspire to do better than just "not that badly" and to be more open to criticism. After that, she shoots Bruno another stink-eye and tells him again how shittastic his piano playing is, then asks him if he's ready. He shrugs and replies, "Sure. If you're through with the sarcastic put downs." Hee!
After class, Bruno asks Mrs. Berg if she knows where Mr. Shorofsky is, and she tells him he left instructions not to be disturbed unless it was a matter of life or death. Bruno says his current crisis definitely qualifies (even though it does not), and Mrs. Berg directs him to Room 214.
When Bruno arrives at Room 214 and knocks on the door, Mr. Shorofsky answers it, glares at him, and says whatever problem he has could not possibly be a life or death situation. He then slams the door in his face.
Leroy runs into Stephanie in the hall and asks her whassup with the sad face. She stammers, "I have a ballet teacher who..." but that's all she manages to squeak out before the scene fades out for a commercial break.
In the teacher's lounge, Miss Carlton tells Ms. Grant and Ms. Sherwood that she doesn't think Stephanie is up to the rigors of ballet, and that when she "corrected" her in class, she took it all wrong. She then pretends to look contemplative and says, "Maybe her priorities are wrong; maybe her major should be modern dance, not ballet" and adds that she'd hate to see "a girl like Stephanie" waste her time. She asks Ms. Grant if she'd be willing to talk to her about changing her major, and Ms. Grant agrees to give it a shot. As Miss Carlton heads out, she runs into Mr. Shorofsky and tells him that Bruno has an attitude problem and that she wants a less lippy piano player who can play with a faster tempo. Mr. Shorofsky shrugs indifferently and agrees to find her a new victim.
Mr. Shorofsky introduces his music class to The School of the Arts' newest student: a tiny, prepubescent prodigy named Susan Marshall. As everyone in the class titters and is all, "Wha-a?!" Susan looks at her new classmates and chirps, "Hi there!"
In the dance gym, Stephanie is practicing her ballet moves when Ms. Grant enters the room. She watches as Stephanie stretches and flexes at the barre, then barks, "Point that toe, girl!" LOL. She asks Stephanie what her plans are regarding dancing, so she says she definitely wants to stick with ballet and is willing to go anywhere she can get a spot with a ballet company. Ms. Grant's like, "Yeah, whatever" and tells her she should consider switching over to modern dance, since she can also sing and is "as pretty as can be". Stephanie looks irked by the unsolicited advice, so Ms. Grant explains that modern dance typically offers more employment options and that she's just giving her something to think about. Stephanie responds by showcasing her ballet abilities...and when she's done flipping around and twirling on her toes, she sassily retorts, "Just giving you something to think about." Mmm hmm..
Mr. Shorofsky asks Bruno to act as a big brother to little Susan, but Bruno just continues to moan about how badly he wants out of Miss Carlton's ballet class. Mr. Shorofsky says he'd be willing to grant him that request if he agrees to do the big brother thing, and Bruno's like, "Great!" Heh.
As Bruno gives Susan an impromptu tour of the school, she explains that her parents are in New York for a month, and they figured this was the best way for her to keep up her piano playing and academics at the same time. Mmm...I guess I can buy that - not that I think this subplot is remotely interesting enough to even function as a time filler for the episode. Susan says that after their stint here, she's off to Dallas to play with the Dallas Symphony. She suddenly hears music coming from the cafeteria and looks intrigued...and when she goes inside to investigate, we see that Coco is at the mic singing, while Doris, Leroy, and Julie are her backup singers. Susan squeals and starts groovin' to the beat...and even Bruno gets into it and starts bopping along. Coco urges Bruno to join them and play on the keyboard, but as usual he grumpily shakes his head and declines, so Susan volunteers - and, of course, her keyboarding skills are totally amazing and far superior than anything Bruno cranks out. Coco sings again as the rest of the students jig and gyrate...and the performance goes on for what seems like a really looooong time. I guess they all kinda do. When it finally wraps up, everyone crowds around Susan and applauds.
Ms. Grant encounters Miss Carlton in the office and tells her she saw some of Stephanie's ballet technique this morning, and has concluded that "she's definitely no slouch". Miss Carlton snippily says it's easy to look good when there's no one else dancing to compare her to, but Ms. Grant argues that she looked good regardless. Miss Carlton gets all defensive, so Ms. Grant assures her she's not telling her how she should run her class. Miss Carlton coldly replies, "Thank you" then stalks out of the room, leaving Ms. Grant staring after her with a scrunched WTF? expression on her face.
Miss Carlton is watching her ballet students perform...and after the routines, she says everyone did an excellent job overall - even though I thought the men did a terrible job with the synchronization. She announces that she's selected the soloists for some upcoming recital, then starts naming off a list of white people. When Stephanie's name is not announced, she goes from looking hopeful to visibly upset. One of the girls who did get chosen, a blonde, comes over and gives Stephanie a sympathetic arm pat and tells her she definitely should have gotten it. Stephanie then goes over to Miss Carlton and stands behind her looking confused and sad, clearly unsure how she should broach the issue. Miss Carlton smarmily tells her she should be proud of the work she did, then basically tells her to get lost.
Danny is trying to convince Susan she needs an elevator ticket to ride on the school's elevator, and then waves some kind of ticket in front of her face and tells her it costs $2.50. Susan buys his nonsense and digs into her little purse and pulls out the cash just as Ms. Grant walks by. She glares suspiciously at Danny and asks whassup, so Susan tells her she just bought an elevator ticket from Danny. When Ms. Grant raises an eyebrow and gives Danny of her oh no you diin't looks, he sheepishly says, "It was a joke" then quickly returns the $2.50. What a tool.
Leroy tells Stephanie he just heard what happened in ballet class "with that witch". He urges her not to get down on herself and says they'll just have to work harder than they've been working, but Stephanie wails, "The problem is that I'm black!"
Stephanie and Leroy go for a stroll outside. She tells him she's been working sooo hard, but now realizes that Miss Carlton talked Ms. Grant into trying to convince her to switch majors. She remarks that there's never been a black soloist in Carlton's class, and that her brazen racism makes her want to leave this dump and study ballet elsewhere, perhaps in San Francisco. Leroy is bummed that she wants to break up their week-long relationship because of dance, then challenges her to do something about Miss Carlton for the sake of The School of the Arts' up-and-coming black ballet hopefuls. Stephanie mulls that over and slowly nods.
In the cafeteria, Leroy is telling the other Fame kids about the Stephanie/Carlton Situation...and when Doris, Danny, and Julie join them at the table, Coco explains that Stephanie doesn't think she got picked as a soloist because she's black. Danny scoffs and calls that "a cop out" and says there must be another reason she wasn't chosen, 'cause surely racist stuff couldn't possibly be occurring at The School of the Arts. Coco points out that it's not the entire school, just one teacher. She suggests they talk to Ms. Grant, but Julie thinks they might have better luck with Mr. Reardon. Not sure why. Doris lights up at the thought of being in the company of the hot, blonde teacher and exclaims, "That would be perfect!"
Mr. Reardon hears out the students' allegation, then says he's not going to do shit about it 'cause they haven't given him anything concrete with which to pursue charges. Leroy's like, "What about all the black students Carlton has tossed out of ballet class?" and Mr. Reardon says, "It's too subjective." Seriously? Even if it's an established, provable pattern of exclusion? Mr. Reardon says he won't ruin the reputation of a teacher without evidence, so the students throw in the towel and begin to storm off. Coco glares at him in disgust and snaps, "She has you fooled!" and Reardon tries to explain that ruining someone's good name is not to be dealt with lightly. Doris stays behind, stares at him creepily, and asks him how a twenty-something teenager can make an adult understand that something is very wrong. Mr. Reardon tells her there's always a way to make adults sit up and take notice, even if it's not necessarily the easiest thing to do. Doris stares into space as she mulls that over, then grins as a half-baked idea starts to take shape inside her head.
Mr. Shorofsky is wandering around his classroom, listening to his students play piano. Suddenly, a group of them abruptly stop playing, stand up, and bow their heads as though they're attending a funeral. Mr. Shorofsky is all, "Wha-a?!" and stares at them in bewilderment.
The same thing happens in Miss Sherwood's English class, and then in Ms. Grant's dance class...and both teachers look just as bewildered as Mr. Shorofsky.
The three teachers discuss the Fame kids' odd behavior as they head over to the cafeteria...and are once again bewildered when they find the students standing around the tables, their heads bowed. Ms. Grant goes over to Leroy and asks him what the fuck?
In the next scene, everyone's gathered in the theater as Leroy reads aloud a speech about the unacceptable practice of bigotry going on at the school. He decrees that the students who signed the petition will continue standing/bowing until Miss Carlton is removed from the school. The faculty, who's seated at a table on the stage, stare contemplatively at each other. A few seconds later, the students stand up and bow their heads again.
Miss Carlton is flitting around the dance gym, practicing her ballet moves, when Ms. Grant drops by to offer her support. She says she doesn't believe the kids' accusations of racism, otherwise she'd be supporting the petition. She then cocks her head and remarks, "You're being awfully calm about this" and Miss Carlton huffily says she refuses to give the allegation any credibility by addressing it. Ms. Grant tells her the kids don't mean any harm, and that they sometimes get emotional. Ouch. She urges Miss Carlton to offer a non-racist explanation as to why she didn't choose Stephanie (or any other black dancer in the history of her teaching career) as a soloist, but Miss Carlton says she's not going to defend herself and snaps, "I'm free, white, and twenty-one, and I'll do as I damn well please." Ms. Grant's like, "The fuck..?" and stares at her in disbelief, so Miss Carlton brushes off the racist overtones of blurting out, "I'm free, white and twenty-one" and says she shouldn't read too much into it. Ms. Grant argues that bigoted shit, such as that phrase, is exactly the kind of thinking that tries to stop a girl like Stephanie get where she wants to be...and she's now mightily pissed off that she unwittingly became a part of her racist agenda when she urged Stephanie to change her dance major. She glares at Miss Carlton and says, "You no longer have to worry about the kids. You got me to worry about now. That's all the worry you're going to need."
Miss Sherwood is ambling down the hall with Mr. Reardon, gabbling about how she used to dabble in civil disobedience when she was the Fame kids' age (three years ago - hee). She wryly wonders aloud when they got to be the establishment that needed rebelling against. A few seconds later, they run into an ashen faced Ms. Grant, who tells them that Miss Carlton may not be a member of the KKK, but she's definitely a racist...and the three suddenly realize that the protesting kids were right. Mrs. Berg rushes over to inform Ms. Grant that Stephanie just requested a copy of her records, and that students usually only do that when they want to transfer out of the school. Ms. Grant looks alarmed and mutters, "We need to find Leroy."
When Stephanie enters the office to pick up her transcripts, Leroy appears from out of nowhere and says he has them...and explains that he has them 'cause Ms. Grant just made him her assistant. Er, OK..? He admonishes her for wanting to leave the school without putting up a fight, then shows her the apology letter Ms. Grant wrote, stating that she concurs with the students that Miss Carlton is a racist. He urges her to showcase the tough side of her, and points out that even if they were to succeed in getting Miss Carlton thrown out of school, she'd just be a racist cuntbag somewhere else. He insists that what they really need to do is show her the error of her ways.
Mr. Shorofsky finds Miss Carlton in the teachers' lounge and brightly exclaims, "You're just the person I'm looking for!" She mumbles something about how everyone else wants her to jump off a bridge, and Mr. Shorofsky says that that's understandable, since the kids all think she's a racist. LOL. He insists that that's not what he's here to talk about, but Miss Carlton ignores that and tries to offer an explanation for her bigotry: "I simply believe that black bodies are not suited to ballet." Mr. Shorofsky snaps, "Racist nonsense!" and implores her to shut her pie-hole so he can ask her something. She continues to ramble on about how black dancers don't have "the proper lines" and that there are very few opportunities for dark skinned folks in ballet. She says she's really doing the kids a service by saving them from unnecessary heartache, and that it's cruel to encourage a young person in that direction. Mr. Shorofsky shakes his head and says, "God help you...you really believe that?" then puts a pin in that and tells her that the school's theater just got a new sound system, and he needs an objective ear to test it out. She agrees, then gets up and trails after him unsuspectingly.
The ballet students are gathered in the theater, ready to perform for a racist audience of one...and Miss Carlton realizes with dismay that she's been tricked, but seats herself beside Mr. Shorofsky. Stephanie glides on stage as the soloist and dances to a really low energy song, which was an odd choice considering that the goal was to showcase her leaping and twirling abilities - but it does pick up toward the end, so I guess it wasn't a total waste. When the number comes to its merciful conclusion, Miss Carlton looks impressed and stands up and applauds. She tells Stephanie she heard she was leaving The School of the Arts, and Stephanie smugly says, "You heard wrong." Miss Carlton nods and says, "I'll see you tomorrow" and Stephanie replies, "I'll see you all the days it will take me to drag you into the twentieth century." As a shamefaced Miss Carlton slinks out of the theater, Mr. Shorofsky nods approvingly at the Fame kids and gives them a thumbs up...and even Bruno is grinning happily at the positive (we hope, anyway) outcome.
Recap: Ms. Grant is surveying her students as they leap and twirl while bland '80s music plays on the ghetto blaster. She gets impatient with their lackluster performance and barks, "Work! Dance! Hold tight! Turrrrnnnn!" and when the routine concludes, she snaps at them for huffing and puffing and reminds them that at this stage of their lives they should be in prime physical condition. When the bell rings, she dismisses them to hit the showers - but asks Coco and Michael to hang back. She tells them she just got a second job at a health club as an instructor for a new-fangled type of exercise called aerobics and could really use their help.
Bruno informs Mr. Shorofsky that he's trying to spend as much time as possible practicing on the piano for the upcoming Juilliard auditions. Shorofsky seems surprised that he'd be interested in Juilliard 'cause piano playing isn't really his thing. He reminds Bruno that he's going to need the signature of his music adviser on his application and hints that he may not be willing to do that.
Ms. Grant is at the health club, presiding over a group of middle aged white women decked out in '80s leotards, tights, and headbands. They jig to the music that's playing in the background, and Ms. Grant looks dismayed as she watches them, then starts snapping, "Work a little harder! Pick up the rhythm! Pick up the beat!" She then demonstrates a series of complicated aerobic dance moves and barks at them to follow along - but the women find it too hard to keep up and collectively throw in the towel. Ms. Grant rolls her eyes in disgust and yells, "Come on! Try! You can do better than that!" LOL. I really don't think being an exercise instructor for non-performing arts people is for her.
Richard Simmons hears Ms. Grant's barking from his nearby office and steps into the exercise room and watches with dismay as she humiliates the aerobicizers. Ms. Grant spots the 'fro sporting exercise guru watching her and snaps, "What do you want? I'm very busy right now" then realizes she just stepped in it, 'cause not only is he Richard Simmons, he's also the owner of the health club. She gets over her sheepishness pretty quick, though, and tells him that being an exercise instructor isn't her life's dream...and he says it's pretty clear she doesn't take this seriously, which is a shame 'cause getting into shape is a serious thing for these women. Ms. Grant shrugs indifferently and says she's not going to be around long enough to worry about about the morale of a bunch of flabby, middle aged housewives. Richard Simmons scrunches his face concernedly and sounds hopeful as he says, "Deep down you're probably a nice person" then scampers back to the safety of his office.
Bruno and Papa Martelli are driving around in his cab, discussing the upcoming Juilliard auditions. Papa Martelli is thrilled that his son may be a student of the prestigious school and wants to celebrate, but Bruno tells him to take it easy 'cause he still has to audition. He remarks that he's going to have to spend a lot of time at school, practicing on the piano...and Papa Martelli looks concerned and says he should be able to practice at home. Bruno assures him that this is not a problem that needs solving and orders him to back off, and the two start bickering...blah blah.
Mr. Shorofsky finds Bruno once again practicing on the piano in his classroom. He remarks that while his playing was nice, he's getting really really tired of listening to him play. Haha! He tells Bruno he took home a bunch of cassettes of his music and listened to all them...and has concluded that they all sound the same: bland and mediocre with no sign of improvement. Ouch. He informs Bruno that in light of his suckiness as a musician, he's decided not to sign his application to audition for Juilliard 'cause he doesn't think he's good enough. Bruno's all, "Wuh?!" and then stares into space, looking totally despondent as the scene quietly fades to black.
Ms. Grant enters the teacher's lounge looking irked. Mr. Reardon asks her whassup, so she tells him that Richard Simmons is thinking about firing her from her moonlighting gig as an exercise instructor. Apparently, he told her she has an attitude problem - well, d'yuh - and she bitches about her mandate to shape up fifteen flabby bodies in a short period of time and then grumbles about how the fat flunkies don't know anything about discipline. She vows to not allow herself to be fired...even though it's really not up to her, and Richard Simmons has every right to can her after the way she verbally abused an entire roomful of paying health club-goers. Mr. Shorofsky enters the room and asks whassup, so Mr. Reardon blabs to him that Ms. Grant is about to get fired from her second job, then blabs to Ms. Grant that Mr. Shorofsky refuses to let Bruno try out for Juilliard. He's quite the blabbermouth, that Reardon. Ms. Grant looks appalled and is all, "Wha-a?!" so Mr. Shorofsky explains that Bruno isn't ready, and that he's trying to keep him from getting his heart broken when he's inevitably rejected by Juilliard.
Papa Martelli has rented a piano so that Bruno can spend long hours at home practicing for his Juilliard audition. Bruno is dismayed that he would spend his hard-earned money on such a thing, then tells him that Mr. Shorofsky doesn't want him to audition. He says, "He thinks my talents lie elsewhere." [Er...I believe his exact words were, "You're not good enough."] Papa Martelli looks peeved and tells Bruno not to let people like Mr. Shorofsky push him around, and Bruno grumbles about how squeezed he feels between the two of them. Papa Martelli brushes off the criticism and says he's doing it for his own good. Bruno starts playing on the piano and asks his pop which piece of music was his mother's favorite, and Papa Martelli says Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Bruno browses through a pile of old sheet music they've been storing in the basement and looks glumly contemplative.
Richard Simmons is in front of the giant mirrors in his exercise studio, stretching and screeching affirmative slogans to himself. Ms. Grant arrives and says she knows he's planning to fire her and declares, "I've never been fired, and I don't intend to start now." He tells her if she doesn't want to be fired she needs to shape up, and she sassily retorts, "Chile! No one's ever told me to shape up!" Richard Simmons tells her he's a grown man and doesn't appreciate being called a chile, and that she's not giving these women what they need: positive motivation. He says she needs to make them believe they can do the exercise routines in order to achieve fitness and weight loss. Ms. Grant asks, "What if they can't do it?" so he tells her to chill the fuck out and ease up on her expectations...and reminds her that this is an aerobics class for out-of-shape middle-aged white women, not The Royal Ballet.
Bruno tells Danny he needs to discuss the problems he's having with his pop...and then follows Danny around the school while he delivers memos to all the teachers. Danny advises him to get a backbone and stand up to Papa Martelli - and then suddenly Dwight appears from out of nowhere, points at the two of them and bellows, "Hall pass!" Danny flashes his pass at him and derisively retorts, "Ja wohl!" He then turns back to Bruno, irritably tells him to figure out his own problems, then runs off down the hall.
Papa Martelli is irked at Bruno for not confronting Mr. Shorofsky about his refusal to sign his Juilliard application. Bruno glumly says he just wants to do what he thinks is right, and Papa Martelli shakes his head in frustration and heads up to bed. I'm confused. Does Bruno not want to apply to Juilliard anymore?
The next day at school, Bruno tells Julie and Danny how annoyed his pop is at him. Julie says his pop is a great guy, and that she feels bad that they're going through this contrived crisis. Bruno asks Danny how he handles having a father he doesn't get along with, so Danny says his mom usually steps in and acts as a mediator. Bruno says that's not helpful 'cause he doesn't have a mom to play interference for him. Hasn't he learned his lesson about asking Danny's advice on anything?
Bruno's in one of the private music rooms, playing Moonlight Sonata on a synthesizer. Mr. Shorofsky enters the room and says he's surprised to hear him playing Beethoven, so Bruno explains that the song was a favorite of his mother's. Mr. Shorofsky nods approvingly and heads off to the office, and Bruno starts playing a song he cobbled together that perfectly describes the inner turmoil he's currently enduring - "Wish me well...love me as I am" - and sings in his terrible, off-key voice. The camera pans over to Papa Martelli, who's driving his cab and looking grim...then Ms. Grant, who's staring at herself in the giant mirror of the dance gym while she flips and leaps about...and then to Richard Simmons as he stretches his stout little body in front of the mirror at his health club.
Mrs. Berg informs Mr. Shorofsky that the school just received a formal request from Papa Martelli to transfer Bruno out of his music classes - permanently. Egads! Mr. Shorofsky looks shocked and is all, "Wuh?" In the next scene, Bruno's all, "Wuh?" and tells Mr. Shorofsky he feels like he's being pulled in two directions - by him and his pop. He moans, "I have every right to decide what I want to do with my life!"
During aerobics class, Ms. Grant is barking orders at the women and focusing her negative energy on a chubby blonde named Renee. When she starts berating Renee awhile she does sit-ups, Renee gives up and wails, "I can't do it anymore!" and scrambles to her feet. Richard Simmons comes to the rescue and urges Renee to dance with him, so she busts a move and starts to look a lot happier...and Ms. Grant, Coco, and Michael watch, mystified. When they finish dancing, Richard Simmons claps and gives her a congratulatory hug, and she promises to come back next week. Ms. Grant concedes that he was able to get Renee to dance a lot better than she ever could, and Richard Simmons explains that he used to be a chubbo, so he knows that the best approach is to teach the chubbos to love themselves, and then they'll be more motivated to exercise. Ms. Grant looks moved by the life lesson, and she hugs Renee and tells her she did great, which I thought looked really disingenuous. Renee says, "I've really worked up an appetite!" and Ms. Grant looks alarmed that she might undo all all of her hard work, and orders her to stick with her all evening so she doesn't get tempted to overeat.
Papa Martelli and Mr. Shorofsky meet at a bar to discuss The Bruno Situation. Mr. Shorofsky calls him "a stupid, irritating jackass" and informs him that Bruno will be assigned to a different music teacher starting Monday. That's interesting...I didn't realize The School of the Arts had more than one music teacher. Mr. Shorofsky explains his reason for wanting to hold Bruno back from auditioning: he once mentored a pianist who was pushed too far too soon, and it pretty much ruined his life. That said, he agreed to sign Bruno's application for Juilliard, which has made him eligible to audition for the elite school. As luck would have it, the auditions are going on right now, so the two men beat a hasty retreat from the bar so they can catch Bruno's performance.
For some reason, the Juilliard auditions are taking place in The School of the Arts' theater...which, whatever, writers. Ms. Grant tiptoes in with Renee, Michael, and Coco in tow....and a few minutes later, Mr. Shorofsky and Papa Martelli arrive. A young Asian woman is on the stage, killing it on the piano...and if she's any indication of the kind of competition Bruno is facing, then he truly doesn't have a hope in hell of getting into Juilliard. When his name is called, he takes his seat at the piano and starts playing Moonlight Sonata, a piece which is not on the approved list. The panelists look around in confusion and are all like, "Wha-at's going on?" One of them complains to Mr. Shorofsky, but Mr. Shorofsky tells him to shove it and that if he interrupts Bruno's audition, he'll start a rumor that he's having an affair with his secretary. Er...OK? Papa Martelli is enjoying hearing his late wife's favorite piece of music...and when Bruno finishes, everyone claps, and the panelists shake their heads at each other in bewilderment. LOL.
Ms. Grant introduces Renee to Papa Martelli...and for a minute there, I thought the purpose of this introduction was to serve as a love connection. She gushes to him about how much she loooved listening to Bruno play, so Papa Martelli and Mr. Shorofsky urge Bruno to do an encore. He mopishly agrees and sits back down at the piano and plays a more upbeat tune...and everyone gets in on that action with various other instruments. Ms. Grant starts dancing on the theater chairs, and soon all the students are leaping and twirling on the stage. Ms. Grant joins them on the stage and starts dancing atop the piano, which I can't imagine is good for the instrument...and Renee also gets into it and jigs the way she did with Richard Simmons. I guess this means Bruno's staying put at The School of the Arts after all. Way to not even try, dude.
Recap: Ms. Grant and Miss Sherwood are strolling in midtown Manhattan with their bicycles when they notice a black limousine parked near the curb with a license plate that reads Klass Act. Ms. Grant giddily says it probably belongs to actor Ben Pettit, who she describes as "fierce on stage", then cackles, "Sizzle!" When a statuesque woman decked out in a shiny evening gown emerges from the limo, Ms. Grant makes a beeline over to her to say hey, and the woman nods at her knowingly and confirms that Ben Pettit is, indeed, inside the car. She explains that they're returning from a telethon in Connecticut and that the kids kept him up all night. She adds, "He can't say no to kids" and Ms. Grant mulls that over for a few seconds as a crazy idea takes shape inside her head. She runs over to a nearby hot dog stand, cracks up the ghetto blaster, and starts leaping and gyrating in front of the limo. She dances for what seems like a really looooong time, and the camera periodically pans back toward the tinted car window...until Ben Pettit finally rolls it down and makes contact. He eyes Ms. Grant appreciatively, says, "Hello", and she grins and chirps, "Hi!" She explains that she's a teacher at the School of the Arts and would love it if he could take some time out of his schedule to talk to the Fame kids about showbiz and stardom. He continues to mutely grin at her, so I guess we can interpret that as a yes.
Bruno is in Mr. Shorofsky's class, waving around a conductor's baton while he listens to a record. When Leroy and Danny peek in at him through the window and mock him, Bruno abruptly stops and shuts off the record player. Mr. Shorofsky is all, "Wuh?" so Bruno says he doesn't want to do this exercise anymore 'cause he's never going to be a conductor, and grumbles that it's dumb, stupid, and pointless. Mrs. Shorofsky explains that conducting is a vital skill for musicians, 'cause it teaches them to keep tempo. He gruffly reminds Bruno that his classroom is not a democracy; it's his personal kingdom...then heads off to the faculty lounge for some tea.
The students are wildly applauding for Ben Pettit, who's standing on the theater stage, grinning broadly as he basks in the adulation. He then starts off the talk by asking/answering the question he most often gets:
Q: How did you get started in showbiz?
A: I don't remember.
Ben then singles out Julie and asks her what her first memory is, and she says she remembers falling down the stairs and hitting her head at around age three. He turns his attention to Doris (and calls her Puddin' - ugh) and she says she remembers sitting by the sink while her father cut her bangs. Leroy's first memory is of frolicking in the streets of Harlem as water gushed out of fire hydrants. Ben says that his first memory is of sangin' - not to be confused with the less intensive singing - while dancing on the street corner with his father....and then does a few tap dance steps to demonstrate his performance arts skills. Coco asks him if he ever resents being made to perform at such a young age, and he looks dramatically taken aback and says, on the contrary, he's thrilled he gets paid a lot of coin to do what he loves. He says that every day presents a new challenge to work through, whether it be to learn a new song or flesh out a new dance routine. He then stares contemplatively at the students and gives them an assignment...and says he'll have to be officially invited back so he can see how they did on the assignment. He looks over at Ms. Grant expectantly and she assures him he's invited back, and everyone loudly applauds as he saucily accepts her invitation. He then gives them their assignment (due in one week): put together a number that can be described as "high flying". As the students scramble out of the theater to get to their next class, Ben stares intensely at Ms. Grant and brusquely tells his statuesque woman friend, whose name we eventually learn is Lisa, to bring the car around. Lisa looks put out, but obediently does his bidding.
Ben smarmily tells Ms. Grant he hopes he wasn't out of line, giving the students an assignment, and she says that judging from their enthusiastic reaction, it's clear that he wasn't. He tells her he'd like to be part of the grading process, then suggests they discuss it over dinner...and she looks taken aback and chides him for coming on "in high gear". He admits that he was/is shamelessly hitting on her and butters her up more by calling her Sweet Lydia. She blushes and accepts his invitation, and the two agree to meet for dinner tomorrow night, but she firmly decrees, "No limo. No fancy restaurants. No entourage. Just someplace quiet where we can talk" and Ben pretends as though he likes the sound of that.
On the Staten Island Ferry, Bruno is grumbling to Papa Martelli about how Mr. Shorofsky is making him pretend to be a conductor. Papa Martelli tells him to shut up, quit his incessant whining, and accept that life entails doing lots of stuff you don't want to do.
Ben and Ms. Grant are at a quiet restaurant, reading over the menus. Ben complains that there's no booze on the menu, so Ms. Grant points out that they serve white wine, then orders herself a glass. Ben's like, "Mmm..white wine" and orders a glass as well. After the waiter leaves, Ben starts fidgeting, and looks around the restaurant in puzzlement and says, "Nobody recognizes me" and Ms. Grant assures him they do. He makes a face and says he wishes people would make at least a tiny fuss over being in the presence of his greatness and says, "Is that too much to ask?" Ms. Grant laughs at the self-absorbed man-child and explains that this isn't a "cornball crowd" and that the other diners probably assume he doesn't want to be hassled while having dinner. Or maybe they don't recognize him and/or couldn't give a rat's ass about an obscure stage actor eating a meal in a Manhattan restaurant. Ben whines that the restaurant is too quiet, so Ms. Grant says, "That's so people can talk to each other" but he just makes a face and insists that the place needs livening up and heads over to the nearby jukebox. Ms. Grant quickly gets up and beats him to it and chooses a song that ends up being boring elevator music. Ben frowns and says, "Not much heat in that" but Ms. Grant argues that it's adequate for two people who just want to dance with each other...and the two start slow dancing. She starts babbling about The Wizard of Oz, and says she'd really like to find out what's behind his curtain and what he's most afraid of in life. He admits he's afraid of being alone, then stares at her intensely and says, "Come back to my place with me." Ms. Grant shakes her head and says, "Come to mine" and tells him she lives in a shitty apartment in a shitty walk-up building and that she has no food or alcohol. There is, however, a big living room where they can talk until dawn. Ben grins and asks her if there are any other rooms in that apartment besides the living room, and she says, "That's something we can talk about" and the two continue to look really awkward while dancing.
Ms. Grant arrives at school the next morning, glowing with happiness and humming as she checks her mailbox. Miss Sherwood asks how she's doing, and she replies, "On a scale of one to ten: twenty-five!" She then stands in the doorway and nonsensically adds, "Houston, we have lift-off!" and heads off to the dance gym.
In English class, Miss Sherwood is in the middle of a lesson when a belly-dancer enters the room and starts jiggling her hips. Miss Sherwood's all, "Wuh?" and physically tries to get the woman to stop jiggling.
Over in the dance gym, Ms. Grant is looking over the pile of presents Lisa has just brought over, courtesy of Ben. Lisa stonily says, "Obviously he's quite taken with you" and says she did her best to estimate her size...then explains that she had to bring the stuff to the school 'cause her apartment building doesn't have a doorman - and some of the items are too valuable to leave with the super. Ms. Grant peeks inside the largest box and we see that it's a a fur coat, but when the students notice the garment and start to go, "Owwwww!" she quickly closes the box. A few seconds later, Miss Sherwood enters the room with the belly dancer in tow and wryly says, "Houston, we have a problem."
Leroy is leaping and twirling around the stage of the school's theater when Julie and Doris enter. He explains that he's working on the "high flying" assignment and asks Julie if she would compose some music for him. He then gives her a demonstration of the kind of moves he's planning on doing...and as Julie thinks it over, Doris blurts out, "No problem!"
Ms. Grant dejectedly walks down the hall and unwittingly passes Ben, who's standing off to the side, near the stairwell. He asks her whassup with her mopey 'tude and thought she'd be much happier after getting a stack of expensive presents. She tells him they weren't necessary, and that the present she liked the best was when they went to dinner and had a quiet talk. Ben's like, "Whatever" and says he'd really like to see her wear some of the stuff he just bought her, and invites her to join him for dinner at 9pm. She makes a face and says that 9pm is kinda late 'cause she has school in the morning - but like the inconsiderate turd he is, he ignores that and says he invited 15-20 people to eat with them and reminds her that his greatest fear in life is being alone. He orders her to go fetch her gifts while he brings the car around and says he wants her - "Pettit's new lady" - to dazzle his friends. He then turns around, gives her a wide phony grin, and says, "We're going to dazzle them, baby." Once he's safely out of earshot, Ms. Grant makes a face and mutters, "Lydia Grant, starring as Ben Pettit's new lady. A limited engagement." Run, Lydia! Ruuuunnnnnn!
Over in the office, Mr. Reardon asks Danny how it's going and mistakenly refers to him as Amaretto. Haha!
Bruno is in music class, conducting the music of his classmates while Mr. Shorofsky presides over the operation. When they finish playing, Leroy suddenly bursts in and says he needs Julie to help him with his "high flying" performance, and she gets excused from class. Mr. Shorofsky looks at Bruno in puzzlement and asks him why he didn't try harder to get out of this assignment, and Bruno says that his pop urged him to stop whining about every fucking thing he doesn't want to do and just suck it up. Mr. Shorofsky nods approvingly and says he's growing up, then gives him a B+ for his music conducting.
Ben is sitting in the front row of the theater, watching the students perform their "high flying" routines...and for some reason his shirt is unbuttoned to reveal his smooth, hairless chest. I guess that's how stage actor folk in the '80s used to dress. Coco and several backup dancers are performing an energetic Caribbean inspired number, and when they finish and look very pleased with their effort, Ms. Grant gushes, "That was terrific, girl!" Ben turns around to shoot her the stink-eye, then tells Coco, "It was good - nothing great. Nothing to be ashamed of." Coco immediately deflates, mumbles, "Whatever" and stalks off stage. Leroy, Julie, and Doris take the stage next, and their performance is a weird, slow moving piece with Doris narrating, Julie playing slow cello music, and Leroy doing shadow puppets against a black backdrop...and after a minute or so, he starts leaping about the stage and flexing his taut bod. When they finish, Ben shoots them a look of disgust and snaps, "What in the hell do you call that?!" and bellows, "You were supposed to do a high flying routine, not some pity packed greeting card!" Doris snaps back, "We were trying to do something different!" and Ben says that performing something that boring is the quickest way out this business. Leroy tries to explain that the school encourages experimentation, and Ben retorts, "You are not in school right now! You are dealing with me!" He bitchily says that he hasn't been in school for a loooong time, doesn't know "geology from gee whiz" (?), and warns Leroy to start building some calluses if he wants to make it in this racket. He growls, "If this school isn't teaching you that, then it's not worth much." Ouch.
The criticism is all too harsh for Ms. Grant, who jumps out of her seat and races up to the stage. She orders everyone (but Ben) out of the theater and Ben yells, "Why?! Don't you want them to hear the truth?!" She retorts, "Not your version, I don't" and says they're trying to teach the kids to be whole people, not self-centered fuckbags like him. Ben stares back at her mutely, so she softens and sadly says, "We got too close. You got scared." Ben kind of tears up...and as she turns to leave, he grabs her by the hand and the two hug - just as a song (featuring her voice) starts playing in the background. Suddenly, there's a blue background behind them, and they start dancing what looks like a well rehearsed, choreographed performance...and that goes on for a looooong time. When it ends, they share one last kiss before she walks off stage...and as she sashays toward the exit, Ben smarmily coos, "You shoooore no gypsy." She gives him a sad little nod and then exits the theater, and notices that Lisa is patiently waiting for her douchebag boss (or whatever Ben is to her) on a bench. A few yards further, she runs into a group of Fame kids, and they applaud her and envelop her in a big group hug...and then a mime rides by on a giant unicycle, which was kind of random - but, then, this show seems to have a weird penchant for mimes.
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!