The very first episode, where we are introduced to the Camdens. Who knew then that this was the beginning of the longest running family drama? Seriously, I still can't believe this show lasted eleven years!
We open with Annie and Erik in bed, totally about to get it on. All of the kids come interupting to the room youngest to oldest. Matt, the oldest son, gets everybody leave. He gives his parents a knowing nod, which is a little icky, though not as icky as what happens later in the episode. The cast looks so young in 1996.
The Camden parents open a bottle of wine (unheard of in later seasons) though the liquid in the glasses looks more like water. Maybe the Reverend has the power to turn wine into water. That seems like a pretty lame power to have.
Dinner gives the writers a chance to set up the family dynamic and the various subplots for all the siblings. Matt is avoiding his father. Mary wants an older boyfriend. Simon wants a dog. Lucy is a hormonal mess, and wants to be treated like an adult. I know it's been said before but, Ruthie looks like she's adopted. Either that or Annie has a secret. Lucy storms up to her room without eating after her father notices how adult she seems to be. Best way to prove maturity-- throw a hissy fit.
Cut to Eric clearing the table and Annie fixing something under the kitchen sink. They explain Annie's vast array of skills in home repair as 'pregnancy projects.' Eric joins her under the sink and Simon catches them making out, commenting, "A dog is a lot less trouble than a baby." Ew. These kids seem far too aware of their parents' sex life. Simon would rather talk to Annie, which leaves Eric free to discuss puberty with his middle daughter. Not sure why they can't both talk to Simon and then have the mother talk to Lucy. Cause when I was thirteen, the last person I wanted to discuss menstration with was my father.
Eric catches Ruthie and Lucy standing on their heads, trying to become women (Mary told her this would jump start her period) and Lucy once again freaks and runs out of the room. There should be a drinking game around that. She does it a lot. She locks her self in the bathroom, so Eric has this awkward conversation with the bathroom door, wherein he reveals that he once bought anatomically correct dolls for her and tries to casually ask if she's gotten her period yet. Lucy throws a hairbrush at the door and screams at him to go away. Anyone getting the idea that Lucy is a little emotional?
Simon tries the hard sell on his mom to get a dog. He's trying to be clever about it, but it's clear Annie is not budging.
And beginning on of the more uncomfortable scenes in television history, Matt is smoking while Mary practices basketball. Matt is an idiot who thinks breath spray will ensure his parents don't find out.
Mary wants to talk to her brother about guys. She feels too tall to date guys her own age. She reveals she's never been kissed, due to this height thing. Apparently, Mary thinks the best person to practice on is her older brother. He looks shocked and then intrigued. Ewww!
Annie's parents are coming to town. And Simon is still not getting a dog. Unless one happens to wander into their yard. Hmm, I guess the family will have a dog by the end of the episode.
Matt and Mary get way to close, nearly kissing. Eric catches them and is suitably freaked out. Again, eww. Doesn't Mary have friends she can get advice from. Who goes to their brother to get advice about how to kiss? To the point of practicing on him?
Annie tries to talk periods with Lucy. She finds her hiding in her closet, worrying about being the only one in her class without hers. Annie quotes the Bible at her, but Lucy doesn't feel better.
Matt loses at pool with his father, which means Eric can reveal that he knows Matt is smoking. Matt is still an idiot. Eric gets him a job to help him afford his cigarrettes, since he's withholding allowance. It is also revealed that Matt has stopped coming to church, and that Eric thinks Matt should cut his hair.
TV church always has people singing Amazing Grace. Simon still wants a dog. Ruthie is still in the show. Matt joins his family at church. Eric quotes the same verse as Annie during his sermon and Lucy freaks and runs out the room. Drink.
Annie talks Eric out of continuing to try to talk to Lucy about puberty. She also points out that Lucy is very different than Mary and that Eric's dream is to have his daughters ask him to buy their tampons. Weird. And ew.
The girls go jogging and exposit that the family doesn't own the house-- they live in a rectory. They run into Matt's friend Jeff (literally) and it's clear that this is the guy Mary wants to kiss. Far more appropriate than her brother. They make a date to play basketball.
Lucy drops a tampon and run away. Drink
Simon is still waiting for a dog. Kid's obsessed.
Eric blackmails Matt into attending church for six months if he loses this job and Matt reveals that Mary is getting interested in boys. Her father and brother are way overprotective, Annie wants to let Mary date older guys.
Lucy has a crush on Prince Charles. Weird. I mean in 1996 everyone I knew had a crush on Prince William. No one had a crush on his father.
Jeff drops by to talk to Matt. Lucy freaks and runs away (drink). Matt doesn't want Jeff dating his sister.
Mary finds out that she can date older guys and takes a page out of Lucy's book-- she's freaks out and runs out of the room. I would have thought she'd be pleased to ba able to date Matt's friends. (Great improvement over kissing her brother).
Matt shows up at his job to find Mrs. Peacock with an oxygen tank, desperatley trying to find her cigarrettes. (The characters name is Mrs. Bink, but she played Mrs. Peacock in Clue, so that is what I am calling her).I wonder if there's a lesson in here for Matt.
Lucy gets her period. And asks her dad to buy her tampons. I'd think she could just borrow some from her mom or older sister. At least one of Eric's dreams has been realized. He suggests that Lucy, Annie and Mary go out for dinner the next night to celebrate. That was actually sweet.
Eric's attempt to explain to Simon that prayer is not an atm machine for our wishes is undermined by a dag appearing in the yard. As per their earlier agreement, Simon gets to keep it. Annie went to the pound and got sucked in. Simon's faith in God is renewed.
Matt doesn't want Mary to date his friends and she assaults him.
Matt has lost his Job and Mrs. Peacock isn't really on a respirator. Sneaky Reverend.
Eric also overreacts at the thought of his daughter's crush on Matt's friend. He and Matt watch Mary play basketball with a sixteen year old they've both known for years.
Simon and Ruthie try to train their new dog. Someone probably thought it would be cute for the youngest Camden to pretend to be a dog.
Matt asks Mary not to date his friend for a month. Mary respond to Matt like he has the right to parent her, thus setting up Matt's inappropriate involvement in his sisters' personal lives.
Annie doesn't want to have sex with her husband in her home while her parents are in town. Is it normal to still be discussing this when you've been married for almost twenty years?
Eric and Annie have a fight about their kids. They feel like they are not communicating about the kids. Especially when Eric reveals that Matt went to pick up the grandparents at the airport. Annie wants them to get on the same page.
Dinner with the grandparents. Grandma is being extra generous with presents. Suspiciously so. Clearly something is wrong. Annie sends Matt out of the room so the adults can talk. One of the few times that Matt gets lumped in with his siblings.
Grandma has cancer. She doesn't want treatment. Annie is upset that they don't want to try the treatment. It's a pretty moving scene.
The dog is named Happy. Ruthie's idea. Matt psychically intuits that Happy is pregnant. Seriously, how on earth did he figure that out?
The show closes with everyone playing with the new dog in the front yard. Aww.
Not a bad start. A lot of exposition, but the characters are just being introduced.
Still creeped out that Mary wanted to kiss her brother.
May reformat for the next episode and recap each subplot separately. It might make more sense than going back and forth.