Title: Jaws of Life
Written by: Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess
Directed by: Jim Charleston
Aired: October 4, 1993
Log line: Maurice is tormented by a wax replica of himself; Chris discovers that he may live long enough to see forty; the dental mobile comes to Cicely.
Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.
During our podcast discussion of “Jaws of Life” (5.3), we discussed a variety of themes, but we didn’t touch on the centrality of looking and judging in this episode. They both often go hand-in-hand because characters are often looking closely when they are judging.
This idea is foregrounded at the beginning when Ed arrives at Maurice’s doorstep with a box of eyes. Maurice has also locked the door — to keep prying eyes out of this “absolutely top secret” operation. We then see Arthur place the eyes in the head and comment on their appearance. The viewer still hasn’t seen a glimpse of the figure. Near the end of the cold open, we see Maurice’s wax head. And we see Maurice’s judging it, finally smiling in approval.
As Arthur is leaving, we see both Maurice and Arthur judging how lifelike the figure is yet again.
When Maurice invites Shelly, Holling and Ruth-Anne for dinner to see his wax statue, much of the discussion is focused on judging the quality of the figure, particularly its eyes.
Conversely, Ed feels far less judged by the statue. He finds it less intimidating than Maurice, much to Maurice’s chagrin.
Later, Maurice talks to the statue, explaining that it will be judged and Maurice will be judged. Focusing on the eyes, he notes how sad they look, perhaps suggesting that Arthur judged Maurice to have a sadness weighing on him.
Maurice is soon disappointed to be judged not commonwealth enough for the “Rugged Individualists of the 20th Century” display.
In the Brick, he talks again about being put on display with “tourists gawking” at him. Of course, he can’t resist waxing on about the statue’s eyes.
We also see Dr. John doing quite a bit of judging of the teeth of Cicelians or we see them trying to avoid his judgement (e.g., Shelly and Maggie when he arrives in town; Ed, Shelly, and Ruth-Anne when he arrives in the Brick).
Even Chris feels judged by people in Cicely and, in turn, judges them to be a bunch of ants.
When Ed takes over briefly for Chris on KBHR as DJ, he muses on the instrument that people use to visually judge ourselves: a mirror.
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- Urge Overkill – “Tequila Sundae”
[Replaced in DVD version]
Chris talks to Carla about riding his bike.
- Giovanni Battista Pergolesi**, “Quando Corpus Morietur” from “Stabat Mater”
Ruth Anne, Holling, and Shelly arrive at Maurice’s for dinner.
- George Gershwin (sung by Fred Astaire) – “They Can’t Take that Away From Me“
[Replaced in DVD version]
Final scene as the Maurice wax statue gets destroyed.
Themes / Recurrences: Death/mortality; future; art; identity/twinning.
The Good: We love almost everything about the episode, but John Corbett does an excellent job of portraying a Chris in existential crisis, combining sadness, anger, and humour in his performance. The scenes between Ed and Maurice (and his statue) are a hoot as well.
The Bad: It’s difficult to pinpoint a single bad thing about this episode, but one of us (Shane) thought that the statue’s demise should have been more dramatic.
The Notable: A bit of trivia: as we see in Darren Burrow’s DVD Return to Cicely, John Corbett actually possesses Maurice’s wax head! As well, Shelly is full of one-liners in this episode, like “I smell meat.”
On’s rating: 9.5 out of 10.
Shane’s rating: 9.5 out of 10.