Episode Report Card
Sobell: B+ | Grade It Now!
"Fondue, Anyone?"

Laurie picks right then to swing through; she's heading back to the library with her offerings for the book drive. Susan checks out the selections: "Your Nancy Drew books? We read these together when you had the chickenpox!" Laurie isn't fettered by sentimentality. Nor, it would appear, is she particularly eager to attend the party.

Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" plays and we transition to the library, where Doug is pulling volumes off the shelves. Laurie offers him her books for inspection and Doug comments, "Wow -- Black Beauty and Kerouac." Laurie says, "I was going for a theme of freedom." Or a theme of "I may only be in high school, but it's so obvious you and I connect on a deep intellectual level." Teacher Doug spills that he'll be in the library past closing as "[they] gave me free reign to pull out all the books that haven't been checked out in five years. I'm only up to the 'B's." Laurie offers to help. In this younger, less litigious era, the male teacher takes up his underaged pupil on her offer.

We cut to footage of the party -- a fairly buttoned-up, thoroughly G-rated affair -- being shot on the new camera. When Susan finally comes down, a few things happen in rapid succession: Bruce complains, sotto voce about Janet's "vice grip on this party" and Janet launches the party game where you have a name stuck on your back and you're supposed to go around asking people to give you clues as to who you're supposed to be. Having already recapped one show where this gimmick resulted in a party foul, I don't have a good feeling about this. Going by Susan's awkward body language, neither does she.

The Deckers and their swinging posse pick that moment to arrive. Janet visibly deflates as Trina swishes in with "Fondue, anyone?' and Tom promptly takes over the hi-fi. When Trina asks, "Who wants to play a game?" and the place erupts, Janet looks like she's ready to call it a day. After Susan says a tight hello to Sylvia, she looks like she might join Janet.

Meanwhile, Trina introduces us all to the rules of fondue: drop your bread in the cheese and you have to kiss someone you're not married to -- if you're a woman. If you're a man, you just suffer silently. Ricky astutely observes to BJ, "I think your dad's got a big one for your neighbor." BJ doesn't appreciate the observation. Janet doesn't appreciate Ricky being around the party when there are immoral people lurking over melted cheese, and she exiles him to their basement for the cleaning. Right then, Sam and her mom come in. Ricky snidely mutters, "Look what crawled in out of the woods," but Sam looks lovely: she's in a pretty patterned summer dress and her hair is curling softly around her face. This is lost on Gail, who is clearly coming down off a cocaine jag. Right then, Bruce's tool coworker and possible nemesis at work -- whom IMDB has informed me is "Tony Mareno" -- comes in. He checks Gail out with no small amount of interest. Gail tells Sam to stay out of trouble, then saunters off. BJ says sweetly, "You look nice." Sam reluctantly says thank you; Ricky just looks disgusted. Funny how Mr. I-loves-the-ladies-if-only-in-my-mind is so hostile to his friend having anything to do with a real live girl. He storms off, leaving Sam to stare awkwardly at BJ. He smiles back, trying desperately to look cool. I think he's probably my favorite of the Miller family.

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