Title: The Mommy’s Curse
Written by: Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess
Directed by: Michael Lange
Aired: February 1, 1995
Log line: Maggie is convinced she’s inherited the dead-boyfriend curse from her mother when her mother’s new beau passes away peacefully during a pool game.
Listen to the podcast of the episode here.
“The Mommy’s Curse” is all about relationships: parental in the storyline with Maggie and Jane, friendship with Holling and Maurice, and romantic with Ruth-Anne and Walt. All of the relationships are shown to have major conflicts that characters undergo, but they get resolved by the end of the episode, leaving relationships to be stronger than ever.
Throughout the episode, we see people drinking together as a symbol of friendship; we also see characters drink alone as a sign of distance within the relationship. Drinking together bonds, while drinking alone divides. These images of drinking echo the states of the relationships shown within the episode.
Jane’s new beau, Leland, comes armed with a martini kit. The drink represents his joyous, celebratory, debonair attitude…and ultimately precedes his sudden death.
Whisky is the drink of choice at the poker game where Maurice first notices the growing bond between Holling and Phil over the poetry of Robert Service.
Later on, Maggie drinks whisky to drown out her sorrows about her mother and “the curse.”
We see three instances of people being poured coffee: Ruth-Anne and Walt; Holling and Phil; and Holling and Maurice. In the first two instances, coffee ties the characters together, and in the third case, we have Maurice drinking coffee alone (and arriving with an agenda that has nothing to do with caffeine).
Maurice discovers a poor replacement for Holling in Ed when aiming to bond over a bottle of Akvavit.
Phil and Holling also bond over bottles of Coke and sandwiches.
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- “You’ll lose a good thing” – Barbara Lynn [replaced in the DVD version]
At the Brick, Maggie talks to Eugene.
The Good – We both really enjoyed this episode, particularly the storylines involving Walt and Ruth-Anne and the Phil-Holling-Maurice friendship triangle. After last week’s dismal episode this felt like a return to form. We actually recognized and enjoyed spending time with these characters.
The Bad – We were unhappy with the decision to replace the actress playing Jane O’Connell. We had enjoyed the character played previously by Bibi Besch and thought that Maggie’s new mom, played by Debra Mooney, felt like a different character, one that was difficult for us to warm up to right away. Debra Mooney does a fine job here, it’s just that she’s playing Jane O’Connell differently. Of course, we recognize that this was likely done for pragmatic reasons (i.e., Bibi Besch wasn’t available), but it was still disappointing and distracting. We also didn’t love the Maggie-Jane storyline because it didn’t feel particularly fresh, though we both really liked the character of Leland.
The Notable – This episode featured a large number of poems by Robert Service. It’s one of the most substantial uses of writing by a specific writer on the series that we can recall, though it wasn’t as significant as the use of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild in fan favourite “The Three Amigos” (3.16), which was credited to writers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, who were also behind this episode.
On’s ratings: 7.5 out of 10
Shane’s ratings: 8.5 out of 10
Just so you know, Bibi Besch died of cancer in 1996. It is likely she was ill when this episode was filmed.
Hi Mark, yes, for sure, she may have been ill at this time, but her imdb account reveals that she was still working in 1995-96. So there is a possibility that she may have had a scheduling conflict…