Friday, March 4, 2016
'Grace Under Fire' S4 DVD: Penultimate Season Hits Great Stride
This coverage of the S4 DVD set in the Visual Entertainment Complete Collection set of the '90s Brett Butler sitcom "Grace Under Fire" brings us close to wrapping up these reviews of the five seasons of the series. Watching episodes from every season over the course of a few months nicely shows the program has evolved from a funny dark comedy about a recently divorced working-class Southern woman with a baby and two young children trying to get over her marriage to a drunken wife-beating hillbilly to a woman with a teenager, a tween, and a four year-old enjoying relative stability and some genuine happiness. In other words, bitterness is hilarious but not eternal.
The S4 season premiere has Grace and the kids facing a forced move; although this occurring in the first season would have prompted jokes about living in the bus station, the solution this time involves moving into a (not-so-bad) fixer-upper not so far away. This development in turn literally opens the door for two supporting characters to move in.
S4 further is notable for having a rare laugh-out-loud episode in which the sailor pen pal of 10 year-old daughter Libby unexpectedly shows up at the front door. The "sit" that provides the "com" in this one is that Libby has been pretending to be a 38 year-old divorced mother of three. This, predictably, leads to a "Freaky Friday" plot in which Grace pretends to be "Libby" so that she can date the squid. Said enlisted man subsequently telling oblivious neighbor Wade that he enjoys dating Libby but usually goes out with younger women provides some of the aforementioned hilarity.
Another memorable episode clearly establish the new role for surprisingly quick "all grown up" older son Quinton, who is a very tall 15 year old. One of the best scenes in the episode in which mother and son come to an understanding regarding their own reality has a role-reveersal Grace telling Quinton that she is going out for a wild night. A later Quinton episode has him facing hard time for breaking into a country club for a late-night skinny dip. His solution to the dilemma regarding not wanting to rat out his friends but also not wanting to be their fall guy is a good one.
This season additional sees Grace move on from her job at an oil refinery in an effort to better herself. This move begins with a wonderful twist on workplace sexual harassment and leads to several good episodes.
We further see Grace try to get her college-age son to not let history repeat itself in a manner that jeopardizes his own bright shiny future.
These changes (and the many others) in "Grace" S4 are a nice reminder of the Silver Age of television in which many initially good shows further improve with age.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Grace" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.