Sunday, January 24, 2016
'Grace Under Fire' S3 DVD: Southern Exposure to Sitcom Wackiness
The third time is a charmer regarding the middle season for the Brett Butler '90s sitcom "Grace Under Fire" in the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set of this program. The Unreal TV review of the first season set in this collection provides a primer on this early Chuck Lorre show; the post om the second season discusses the evolution of the program. The following thoughts regarding the third season demonstrate how "Grace" nicely matures.
Many of the enhancements to this already good show relate to Butler not allowing her ego to prevent her co-stars from shining. The prime example of this is episodes often including a story revolving around independent pharmacist/platonic friend Russell (awesomely played by "SCTV" veteran Dave Thomas) working with his wacky father Floyd (played by Tom Poston of "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart"). This pairing does not achieve the same comic genius as bringing Jonathon Winters onto "Mork and Mindy," which also features Poston, to provide Robin Williams a true peer with whom to play but provides ample hilarity.
The general Russell/Floyd comedy revolves around the more straight-laced Russell becoming exasperated by the wackiness of his father. Terrific examples include Floyd treating the drug supply as a candy store and Russell getting Floyd to agree to a set of rules only to have the latter quickly nonchalantly violate all of them. One of the best bits has them wagering on anticipated outcomes regarding a hostage situation.
Another memorable plot that does not directly involve Grace has tween son Quentin aggressively hugging and kissing Grace's horrified best friend/neighbor Nadine. The awkward efforts of Nadine's spouse Wade to handle the situation creates some of the aforementioned hilarity.
The season premiere nicely ties in most of these elements by having Grace experiencing mixed emotions regarding Nadine and Wade asking her to be an egg donor. The light manner in which a then-reluctant Grace tries to placate Nadine provides the hilarity in this one.
Grace further experiences turmoil at work in the forms of an unfair change in position, a clandestine workplace romance, and a disgruntled co-worker with an apparent fondness for American sedans.
Additional humor comes in the form of behind-the-scenes closing-credit scenes that showcase the talents of Thomas. One has him attempting to make a guest star insecure and another has Butler hilariously set Thomas up in a hilarious take on workplace violence.
All of this works because it largely is true. Like "Seinfeld," the third season of "Grace" generally is about the trials and tribulations of life that are a little rougher for the Joe Plumbers among us and that our friends help us survive. Grace does not lose a winning lottery ticket, get stuck in an elevator with an enemy, or have a celebrity unexpectedly show up at her door.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Grace" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.