The show opens with organ music and an exterior shot of the Glenoak Community Church. Inside, we see that RevCam is actually doing his job for the first time in about three seasons. Not that I'm particularly pleased about this, mind you -- just surprised. He speed-walks to the podium/pulpit and begins the sermon by greeting the audience, which responds by rousing itself from its collective sleep and murmuring. RevCam says he had a sermon "all written out and ready to go," but then he "read the paper. And as [he] flipped through the pages, something occurred to [him]." And that thing was that, even after all these years, "Family Circus" has still retained its uniquely hilarious combination of Midwestern charm, Christian values, and kooky puns. Also, since September 11th, "the news, in the world, hasn't been very good." You know, as opposed to before September 11th, when the news was always totally awesome and good. Now the world is filled with "war, murder, political unrest, stock market problems, CEOs bankrupting corporations, racial problems, terrorism, governments running out of money, [and] kids committing crimes." First of all, Eric, that was your kid. And second of all, way to make a ridiculously general list in order to prove a point without actually having to back it up with specifics.
"I know that you find this news as upsetting as I do," says RevCam, at which point one member of the audience expresses his upset-edness with a light cough. "I hear it in our phone conversations. I read it in your letters and emails." You'd think that there would be some audience reaction to RevCam's admission of tapping the town's phones, hacking their computers, and steaming open their letters, but no. RevCam says that he has an idea of how to combat this problem of sad news, at which point random people start passing out slips of paper. RevCam jumps out from behind his podium and takes it to the aisles, saying that everyone has a "special talent" that he or she can use to help someone in need. For example, any plumbers or carpenters could volunteer their time and skills to fixing up the church. So not only did RevCam obviously decide to go out last night instead of writing a real sermon, but he's also trying to score some free remodeling for the CamPound with his ad-libbed sermon. While RevCam suggests other things that people could do, Stephen Collins and the camera operator engage in what appears to be a sick game of Chicken. Every time the camera moves in on RevCam's big face, Collins moves in too, until finally one of them gives up and backs off. I'm not sure who wins the game, but I know that we, the audience, are the losers. Lucy laughs at RevCam's suggestion that a stay-at-home mother could cook dinner for a working mother's children, because it's a lot less trouble to just steal dinner from one's parents every night. RevCam says that even just praying for someone who needs a little extra help is acceptable, at which point SamVid smiles as if they are capable of the talking and mental focus that this simple task would require. As Chandler bravely tries not to doze off, RevCam tells his flock that they are to write down a commitment to do something for someone "other than [themselves]" -- yes, RevCam actually felt the need to throw that in there because he knows his congregation is full of selfish assholes like himself -- in the coming year. He wants the collection plate to be filled with commitments instead of cash. The CamKids mumble nervously to themselves that this could mean the end of their expensive wardrobes and half-gallon containers of milk. RevCam tells his remarkably ugly congregation to be "the wind beneath the wings of our faith." The Saxophone of Combining Two Cheesy Ideals into One Lame Cliché plays us into the theme song.
And who's not in the credits today? That's right, it's Simon, thus finally giving Beverley Mitchell the coveted third spot in the credits. Also not in the credits is Martin, which is the wind beneath the wings of my hope that he'll never come back.