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Episode: 4.3

Title: Nothing’s Perfect

Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

Directed by: Nick Marck

Aired: October 12, 1992

Log line: Chris kills a dog with his truck and quickly falls in love with its owner. Maurice buys an extremely expensive Augsburg clock and with its delivery comes a highly trained specialist to install it.

Listen to our podcast discussion of the episode here.

Throughout the episode “Nothing’s Perfect”, we noticed an unusual number of scenes with beverages and liquids (particularly water). Before we attempt an explanation, shall we examine the evidence?

For example, when Chris goes to Joel’s office after hitting a dog with this truck, Marilyn offers him water, while Joel makes himself a cup of coffee.

4-3_Chris-Joel-Marilyn02

Even Amy explains to Chris that she needs more ‘juice’ for her computers (yes, in this case meaning electricity, but still juice is technically a liquid).

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Clock expert Rolf Hauser is disgusted at the beer in Cicely, comparing it to water.

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On their date, Amy and Chris drink some wine.

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And later on, Amy finds a bottle of Chianti to go with their pasta dinner.

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Maurice opens a very special bottle of port for Holling and Shelly when they come over to see the clock.

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Chris describes the colour of Pete the parakeet as chartreuse. Yes, chartreuse is a colour, but it’s named after an alcoholic beverage.

4-3-chris-chartreuse
Again, Chris drinks water in a later scene at Ruth Anne’s store (while having a bag of ice — i.e., frozen water — on his shoulders).

4-3_Chris-RuthAnne

Holling pours from a bottle of Jim Beam in a scene with Maurice at The Brick.

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Finally, images of water dominate the beginning and end of the episode. The first scene features a view of the water as Chris drives along it in his truck.

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In one of the final scenes of the episode, Chris stands at the edge of a cliff that overlooks a river, as he readies himself to sacrifice his beloved Harley motorcycle in order to balance the equation of his relationship with Amy.

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Why are there so many instances of water and drinks in this episode? What brings it all together is, of course, Holling’s speech that compares water to time:

“You know, Maurice, when I was a boy I used to sit in my Mama’s washtub, cup my hands, and try to hold water. No matter how tightly I squeezed my fingers, I couldn’t do it. The water always dribbled away. Time is like that. No matter how hard you try it always leaks through our fingers. And, I’ll tell you something: you think about time too much, you’ll go crazy.” 

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Like time, water is aways moving, and you can never hold on to it. It slips away and finds cracks in the smallest spaces. In this episode, we see how people have tried to transform water: freezing it, fermenting it into alcohol, putting it in containers, but water is always itself, and can’t be trapped. Likewise, Maurice believes that with the invention of the clock, human beings became masters of time:

“Have you ever considered what the world was like before we had clocks? We were the ignorant victims of time. We were buffeted by the seasons, swept along by the amorphous sludge of day, night. We had no hours, no minutes. No definition. No way to grab hold of our passing lives. Until this tamed time. Put us in the driver’s seat.”

However, Maurice later realizes how futile that idea is. Says Maurice, “So, whether this clock gains or loses six to eight minutes a day doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Time has it’s own agenda, Rolf. There’s no stopping it.”

4-3_Maurice-02

Images of water (and drinks) become a visual metaphor for time in this episode. We see it in different forms – as ice cubes, within various alcoholic beverages (at least one tasting like water), as drinking water, and as a river. And so the show invites us to remember the first time that we ever tried to hold water in our cupped hands, squeezing them together tight, and how water always finds a way to dribble away, even without us noticing it.

Themes / Recurrences: Time; death; relationships.

The Good: All of the storylines coalesced nicely, each of them exploring and amplifying the theme of time. We also loved the characters of Rolf and Amy, played wonderfully by Mark Pellegrino and Wendel Meldrum, respectively. Each of the monologues on time by Maurice and Holling were quite moving, particularly as the episode progressed.

The Bad: One of us wasn’t sure about how well suited Chris and Amy were for one another.

The Notable: We did a bit of research on the antique clock featured on the show (in reality a clever prop), and we think we’ve found the inspiration for it, The Strasbourg Clock, currently housed in the British Museum. Here’s more info here.

Both clocks side by side:

clocks.001

On’s rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Shane’s rating: 9.0 out of 10.

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8 thoughts on “4.3 Nothing’s Perfect

  1. A few things;
    1) Hans Schlottheim was a real goldsmith and clock maker circa 1500’s
    2) at some point on the podcast you both mention that Chris rarely credits his quotes but I seem to remember a few, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Albert Einstein, Bruce Lee, Henry David Thoreau. . . . .

    • Hi Ariel,
      It’s great to know about Hans Schlottheim, and that he actually exists (there is a limit to our research capabilities, so it’s good to get information from those in the know). We were mainly curious about the model used for the prop clock. It seems very specific to us, and the source we found seems pretty similar to the prop.

      With regards to Chris, it’s true that he does cites his quotation source sometimes, but he definitely does not do it all the time. It’s probably for the best, since mentioning writers every episode might get repetitive. (Example: the quote in Italian at the end of “On Your Own” is a mystery.)

      Thanks for reading!
      On

  2. I’m curious about the song at the beginning of the episode (DVD version) where Chris is driving before Rolf passes him. It’s probably just some generic filler music, but I thought I’d ask anyways.

    • Jason, we have no idea what the replacement music on the DVD version of the episode is. It is likely generic music that we can’t get information on. However, the original song on the original airing is fantastic: Kitty Well’s “I Heard a Jukebox Playing”

  3. What’s the last song playing at the end? It’s a woman singing “in some lonely room your wait, shadow on the wall. Telling me that it’s too late to soothe your broken heart”. I can’t find anything on the web.

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