Alan Ball: Yeah, but quoting TV shows? That's just lame.
David Chase: Well, you know, you start out with nothing, and you're proud that you're a self-made man. But then all the celebs come calling, slap you on the back, and say, "Please me." Meanwhile, I've got clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...
Alan Ball: And here I am, stuck on pay cable with you.
David Chase: Don't worry. It's not as bad as you'd think.
I should probably say something about the show at some point, huh? Well, okay, then. The series kicks off with a faux commercial for something "sleek, sophisticated, [and] seductive." No, it's not the steel drum. Surprisingly, it's not even me. Instead it's a hearse, and a Cadillac to boot. With the ad out of the way, we pan down to an identical hearse, cruising the streets of southern California to the tune of "I'll Be Home For Christmas." And I thought the clocks on our server were bad. ["Hey! Not anymore." -- Wing Chun] HBO is apparently stuck in a permanent six-month time warp. Maybe that explains why Samantha thinks she can get by saying her box is thirty-five to forty-four. The hearse is being driven by one Nathaniel Fisher Sr., proud patriarch of our crazy little clan. Nate Sr. is played by Richard Jenkins, and because I love this guy, I can't believe Alan Ball passed up on the chance to reference his turn in Flirting With Disaster by casting him as the gay cop. Although since I just referenced it for him, I guess that's okay. For now, Nathaniel answers his cell phone, helpfully provides the audience with his name, and begins chatting with the wife. It's established that their son is coming home to visit, and that he's apparently a little bit flaky, because he drinks "soy stuff" instead of milk. She busts on Dad for smoking, warning that "[he'll] give [himself] cancer and die a slow, horrible death." Meanwhile, David (Son #2) sits calmly at the kitchen table while Mom goes off on a long rant to the effect that she can't tell his father anything. It goes on so long that I thought she'd hung up the phone, but then we cut back to Dad, promising to quit and saying goodbye. The call completed, he bends down to pick up a fresh cigarette and drives straight into a very nicely executed crash shot of the hearse being broadsided by a bus (believe it or not, pun actually not intended). The Ironic Musical Detachment Fairy cues up the melancholy "if only in my dreams" line from "I'll Be Home For Christmas."