Welcome to our alien analysis about The Neighbors!
I must say, being a Canadian that I was pleased to see The Neighbours finally spelled correctly. They have added a ‘u’ to the word – yay! Oddly, though, the spelling is more in line with the theme of the show this week, which means that the spelling will return to your regularly scheduled American spelling next week. Blast!
Any road (anyway), since Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) has not considered winning a ton of cash in Atlantic city, as per an earlier episode last season, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) is the one who gets to earn money for the family. The episode begins with Debbie (Jami Gertz) and Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) filling us in on some details.
The three Weaver kids are away on sleep-overs and Debbie and Marty are anticipating date night. Jackie enters making a lame joke as Marty heads off to work. What silly beggars!
Debbie has invited Jackie over so they can brainstorm a possible career for them both. Their brainstorming has taken them both a while since it is now dark outside. Since nothing has been achieved by either woman, Jackie leaves Debbie to enjoy her date night with Marty.
Jackie has a good reason for wanting to leave. She has a job at a fast food place called Salsa Castle. It is rather ironic that Debbie’s words to Jackie as she leaves the Weavers is that she should be concentration on the word, “fulfilled” when it comes to work. Jackie looks anything but fulfilled where she is working now.
Marty also has a problem that he cannot quite share with Debbie. It seems that he needs to build something to demonstrate his manhood, which means…he is unable to pitch a tent. Or, as the Brits say, he was unable to do a “Rumpy Pumpy”.
Thus, it is time to provide Debbie with that built in entertainment centre she wanted. At Jackie’s new job, she discovers that the owner’s wife got the restaurant in her divorce settlement, so if she would like to replace the current layabout manager, she will need to befriend the new boss.
Fortunately, that is not too difficult. Jackie’s British accent is enough to let the new boss know that they hail from the same side of the pond. Before she knows it, Jackie has invited her new boss over for dinner. This is going to be interesting.
At home, Larry is not helping the situation. He is the bored househusband entertaining himself by purchasing useless gadgets so he can, “keep up appearances”.
Then, there is Reggie (Tim Jo), who is doing his best to help out by clipping coupons. When he has the audacity to suggest that his father get a job, Larry seems genuinely shocked and outraged, “me, get a job? I have a job. It’s called being the supreme leader of this community…”
To show off how well settled he is, or ‘minted’, Larry wears a white fur hat, and heads over to Marty’s house to show off. He is easily distracted when he discovers that Marty is busy cutting wood. Larry goes straight for the jugular, “it’s almost as if you were recently emasculated, and now you’re subconsciously overcompensating to prove your manhood”. Ah, so Larry is psychic too. What a cheeky devil.
Of course, Marty can tell the neighbor, who happens to be an alien, that he, “could not achieve liftoff”, but not explain to his wife how he is feeling about this experience. Larry, of course, is no help at all. His major concern is that his new hat does not breathe and he is getting very hot.
At the restaurant, Jackie has managed to interest her new boss. She invites the woman over for dinner…a traditional English meal. Instead of bangers and mash and mushy peas, I suspect the meal will be completely different.
At home, Jackie manages to lie to Debbie, to get rid of her (it is Zavbronian New Year) in one breath, then informs her family that she has also lied to her boss in order to bond with her in the next breath. Jackie has learned human customs very well.
Once Jackie has explained to everyone what is expected of them for the dinner, they begin by altering the house to look British and they learn some British cultural terms. It was at this point in the episode that I realized that Jackie has not slept yet.
She showed up on Debbie’s doorstep as Marty was going to work, stayed all day with Debbie, then worked a night shift at the fast food restaurant. Then, she met the new owner first thing in the morning of the next day, and spent eight hours preparing her family for that night’s dinner.
He cannot do British accents at all, poor lad. Jackie blue looks like the dog’s dinner (awesome) in her outfit, but then, Toks would look wonderful in anything.
Confused, but undaunted by Jackie’s rebuff, Debbie has gotten a Happy New Year banner made up for the Neighbours (with a ‘u’). She discovers that Marty is still going through his own personal crisis. He has drawn a snake on his arm as he contemplates getting a tattoo. If that is why men get tattoos, there are a great many sexually frustrated men in America. Some things can be taken far too literally, such as the old class system in England. Jackie has obviously learned about the British aristocracy who live “upstairs” on the main level of the house, and the servants who would live “downstairs” in what we would consider to be the basement level so that they could provide service, yet largely remain unseen by their employers. Jackie turns this into dinner in the bedroom as the upstairs experience. A bit odd, for certain. Helen is getting a feel for the peculiarity of her new friend and her family. She is slightly less gobsmacked than I expected. Debbie arrives with her Happy New Years sign to discover that Jackie has company. Poor Nicholas, thinking he is about to be subjected to a New Years bath, dashes out the door and to the car to get away from the crazies. Who could blame him? He believes the entire family have “Lost the plot”. If he had stuck around a while longer, he might have learned that Jackie is embarrassed about her menial job, so could not tell Debbie what was really going on. Debbie has the best and most profound line of the episode, “there is nothing embarrassing about supporting your family”.
The next moments lead to altercations between Debbie and Marty and Jackie and Larry. Debbie discovers that Marty has talked to Larry about his problem, but not to her, and Jackie is angry at Larry because he refuses to be part of the solution, i.e., getting the manager position so they can keep the lights on. Larry realizes his mistake, and so does Marty. Yes, Debbie and Jackie, men are exhausting.
As Helen is about to leave because she also has accepted that Jackie and Larry and their boys are off their trolley (insane), Larry saves the day by “admitting” that they are not British society. Yes, Larry’s father was supporting the family and now that he is not doing so any more, Jackie has had to go to work to support the family while Larry is maintaining appearances, “the truth is, I never had a real job, at least, not one I didn’t inherit from my father”.
Larry has also admitted the reason he has avoiding getting a job to help provide for his family is that he is afraid of his being inadequate as a provider. Helen accepts the admission from Larry and gives Jackie her promotion. YAY!
Naturally, celebrations are in order. The Happy New Year sign has been changed to “Happy Promotion, Jackie” and all is tickety-boo (right with the world), until Marty’s work to mount the television falls apart. I hope the television is still under warranty.
Guest star, Lucy Davis brought the best part of the show to the foreground with her ability to encourage the play back and forth between the rest of the actors. Toks Olagundoye and Simon Templeman are always funny, but Tim Jo and Ian Patrick were the ones with all the energy bouncing off everyone else in this episode.
However, it feels as if the writers are still trying to find their place with the show. They have moved the Weavers to the ‘B’ story in this episode. Perhaps this is the chosen direction for the series since Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye seem to be the ones with all the chemistry. Time will tell.
We look forward to seeing more of you here at our review site dedicated to our wonderful aliens friends known as The Neighbors!
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