Recap: When the doorbell rings in the middle of the night, the entire Facts gang sleepily trudges downstairs to see who in blazes could be at the door at this hour. When the doorbell continues to ring, Jo snaps, "Who is it?!" and a female voice on the other side of the door chirps, "Frannie!" ... and as Jo wonders aloud, "Who the hell is Frannie?", Beverly Ann invites the young Aussie gal - Frannie Newcomb - inside. Frannie greets them with a "G'day mates" and explains that she's looking for Mrs. Garrett, and Natalie informs her that their former house mother "is not with us anymore". A shocked Frannie assumes this means she's cactus, but is quickly assured that the old gal is alive and well and enjoying the sunset of her life cohabitating with her boyfriend in Africa. Frannie explains that Mrs. Garrett had signed up as a host for Eastland's student exchange program, and that that - ta da! - explains why she's here.
Frannie's cab driver Max rings the doorbell to irritably remind her that she hasn't yet paid her fair: a $179 roundtrip drive from the airport. Beverly Ann offers to write him a check, and Frannie assures her she'll repay her, then asks, "Where am I going to drop my swag?" The Facts gals stare confusedly into space, but then correctly translate that to mean 'where am I going to be living?' Beverly Ann offers her the use of the couch and ushers her upstairs to get some blankets...and Jo shakes her head disapprovingly, 'cause she thinks it's fairly odd that a foreign girl with a weird story gets to just spend the night under their roof, almost no questions asked.
The next morning at breakfast, Jo continues to express her skepticism about Frannie, and Beverly Ann says that even though she has no memory of it, it's entirely possible that Edna may have mentioned signing up to host an exchange student before high-tailing it to Africa. When Frannie returns after taking a walk around the neighborhood, Tootie offers to drive her to Eastland to register and show her around - but Frannie hastily declines and says that she prefers to travel on foot so that she can do some spunk spotting...which she explains to the confused Facts gals means sizing up the good looking boys. She then puts an arm around a smitten looking Andy, and chirps, "Like Andy!", then heads upstairs to change.
Blair waxes on about how proud she is that they've opened their home to a perky Aussie, while Jo points out that they don't actually know anything about her, and suggests it's entirely possible that she's a runaway. She adds that she's even skeptical of the authenticity of Frannie's Australian accent and insists that there's something not quite right about her sudden arrival in Peekskill.
Frannie is in the living room, on the phone with someone in the Eastland admin office and telling them that she won't be able to attend school for a few days on account of she has a "crook throat" due to the sudden change in climate...and needlessly coughs for dramatic effect. She then hangs up the phone and smiles devilishly to herself before skipping out the door.
Later, Tootie asks Frannie how her first day at Eastland went, and Frannie fibs that the teachers are great and that the cafeteria food is very tasty. Tootie jokes that she can't possibly be talking about Eastland, given how ghastly both the teachers and the food are...and for a moment Frannie looks alarmed that the jig might be up - but is then relieved that whatever secret she's keeping from everyone is still safe.
While clutching a book about Australia, Jo asks Frannie if she can settle a bet about who discovered Australia. Frannie rattles off a detailed response about the founding of Australia before rattling off the names of Australian states in alphabetical order. Jo stares sheepishly into space before conceding to Blair that she may have been wrong about the interloper.
Frannie finds Andy hanging in the kitchen and asks him if he wants to wag it...and when she explains that the expression means 'skip school to spend the day in New York', Andy says he definitely likes the sound of that idea.
Beverly Ann finds Edna's paperwork regarding hosting an exchange student, and Jo admits again that she was wrong to suspect Frannie of any wrongdoing. Tootie remarks on how warm and friendly the Aussie seems, and Beverly Ann agrees that she's great fun to have around [which...meh].
In the next scene, a man strongly resembling Crocodile Dundee with a heavy Australian accent to match drops by looking for Pippa McKenna, then introduces himself as Kevin (Pippa's father) ... and correctly guesses that they know her as Frannie Newcomb. As Beverly Ann and the Facts gals exchange confused glances, Kevin explains that Pippa is in America under false pretences - essentially a runaway - and a smugly vindicated Jo says, "Who would have guessed?"
Kevin says that when he dropped by Pippa's school, he was dismayed that "she done a dingo act on me" ... and further explains that Frannie Newcomb is Pippa's best friend who had originally applied to be an Eastland exchange student - but Pippa took her place 'cause of the strong yen she's always had to see America. He complains that his wild child of a daughter is always pulling stunts like this - just as Beverly Ann gets a call from Andy's school to inform her that Andy's sister phoned earlier to excuse his absence due to a "crook throat". Everyone's all, "Mmm hmm.." as they correctly assume that Pippa is behind him playing hooky.
As Beverly Ann wrings her hands worriedly, the Facts gals work the phones to see if any of Andy's friends know of his whereabouts. Kevin breezily assumes that he and Pippa are most likely fine and manages to dissuade Beverly Ann from calling the police.
A police officer arrives at the residence with Andy and Pippa in tow. He explains to Beverly Ann that the two were pick-pocketed, and that he was so concerned about a couple of cash-less kids aimlessly wandering the mean streets that he decided to safely return them home. After he leaves, Andy jokingly tells everyone that they weren't actually pick-pocketed, but ended up cash-less 'cause they frivolously spent all their money...and because they wanted a free ride home, they told the cop a sob story. Jo calls Pippa out for passing herself off as Frannie Newcomb...and Pippa fake sheepishly admits that, regrettably, she deceived them for the sake of her dear old dad, who's currently on his deathbed with a rare strain of the drongos. She adds that his dying wish is for his daughter to travel to America, then return home and tell him all about her adventures. Kevin, who - somehow unbeknownst to Pippa is standing a few feet away eavesdropping on her nonsense - wanders over to her to say, "Why not tell me about it now?" Pippa's all, "Ack!", then pretends she's witnessing a miracle at the sight of her father alive and well, while Kevin explains to the Facts gang that drongo is Aussie slang for nincompoop. Womp womp!
Kevin orders his daughter to accompany him to his hotel for the night, then fly back to Australia in the morning...and Pippy dutifully gathers her stuff while grumpishly telling the Facts gang it's been nice knowing them.
The doorbell rings in the middle of the night...and the Facts gang sleepily staggers downstairs to answer the door in a moment they can only describe as déjà Pippa. She apologizes for mucking everything up, and whines about how lonely she gets on account of her mineralogist dad traveling to the Outback so frequently. A few seconds later, Kevin drops by to apologize on his daughter's behalf for disturbing them a second time in the middle of the night, and to announce that they're off to the airport now. Beverly Ann interjects to tell him that she more fully grasps why Pippa sneaked to America: she's missing a sense of what it's like to be part of a real family. Pippa concurs and tells her father it's sooooo nice to have others around, so Beverly Ann invites her to live with them...and Andy smiles approvingly and says that he only became part of a family once he was adopted by Beverly Ann and became an honorary Facts gal. Tootie implores Kevin to please please please let Pippa stay and assures him that they have plenty of space, and Beverly Ann tells a wild tale about how she she dialled up Edna in Africa and confirmed that, yep, she did in fact sign up to host an exchange student...and claims that Edna had beseeched her sister to take good care of Pippa. Kevin mulls all that over, then decides 'ah, what the hell?' and gives his permission for Pippa to stay in America and be a superfluous cast member on the tail end of a show the producers hope to turn into an Eastland-centric spin-off (though: not). Pippa smiles gratefully at the Facts gang while saying, "Thanks a lot, fellas. Looks like I found a new family."
Once Kevin and Pippa are safely out of earshot, Beverly Ann admits that she didn't actually talk to Edna about any of this...and everyone chuckles at that white lie while heading upstairs to bed.
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5/15/2023 07:07:30 pm
When you're done with Facts, I'd love to read your take on Cheers.
5/15/2023 07:56:37 pm
Hold the phone! I always assumed that Pippa was introduced in The Facts of Life Down Under.
5/16/2023 09:18:45 am
I loved some of this episode: Natalie: Come quick! It's Crocodile Dundee!
5/24/2023 10:15:04 pm
Just found this season on dvf at the library. Evidently I've misremembered the quote. She doesn't say "stone the crows", but still says It's a bloody miracle!
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