Title: The Graduate
Written by: Sam Egan
Directed by: James Hayman
Aired: March 8, 1995
Log line: There are some important lessons to be learned when Maggie takes over ownership of the movie theatre, Chris takes his oral exams for his master’s degree, and Holling comes face-to-face with the child he’s supported financially for years.
Listen to the podcast of the episode here.
In “The Graduate,” we see Maggie and Chris changing their lives and accomplish very big things: Maggie becomes owner of the local theatre and becomes a boss with employees, and Chris puts all of this philosophizing to work as he gets a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Holling accidentally killed a man in self-defence back in Quebec, and he’s been hiding this fact ever since.
What all three storylines have in common is a focus on the past, as all of the characters grapple with history and its place in the present moment. For Maggie, it is an interpersonal conflict where she needs to balance the realities of the modern-day box office with Ed’s desire to show obscure, classic films from the past.
Ed has no doubt that fare such as 1955’s Diabolique or 1948’s The Bicycle Thieves will be a draw; in some ways, Ed cinematically seems to live in the past in this episode. In the end, Maggie ends Ed’s curating of films and requests him to play Hollywood blockbusters like Dumb and Dumber. Maggie stands up for her business decisions and finally divorces friendship from business. The past has its place in this theatre, but only at midnight showings.
When Patrick Dulac comes into town, he is under the false (but justified) impression that Holling is his father, as Holling has been sending monthly cheques to Patrick’s mother.
Everyone else in town seems to accept Holling as the “Johnny Appleseed of the North” and Patrick and Shelly (along with the reluctant Holling) play happy families and go on a picturesque sleigh ride.
However, Holling no longer can stand to live this version of history and reveals the truth that he was responsible for killing Patrick’s hot-head father in a brawl at a bakery many years ago.
The past comes into the present as Patrick, distraught over the revelation, comes into the Brick and challenges Holling in a knife fight. This scene is almost a replay of the scene with Patrick’s father; however, Holling in a metaphorical way rights history as he refuses to pick up the knife and engage in the dispute. The past is being replayed, but Holling is reacting differently as a changed man. In the end, Holling gives Patrick a memento of his past, a Panama hat that Patrick admired in an old black-and-white photograph.
When the professors come into town to evaluate Chris for his Master’s degree, a war between tradition versus deconstruction/post-modernism rages on in Chris’ psyche.
In a fantastic dream sequence, thie clash is played out in a war scene where historical figures of the artistic canon (Beethoven, Poe, Shakespeare, Van Gogh) is being killed by an unnamed sniper; Chris then comes face to face with the sniper enemy, who is revealed to be none other than himself. Does the past matter? Does history matter? Or can we pick and chose from events in history to form our own present narratives?
Chris does his own recreation of the past when he invites the professors to experience Casey at the Bat. By doing this, Chris seems to be trying to get at the feeling inherent to the work, the emotions that are in the story itself and external to any other history or culture out there.
This episode has characters struggle with the role the past has on their present day lives. Some chose to ignore it for a time, but all of the stories have characters finally confronting the past and coming to terms with it.
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- “Suddenly Last Summer” – The Motels [replaced in the DVD version]
Chris smokes a pipe as Professor Martin arrives
- “Funky Stuff” – Bart Gori [replaced in the DVD version]
Heather and Ed dance while cleaning the theatre.
- “What I’d Say” – Ray Charles
Chris has a crisis on the radio.
- “Walk Through This World With Me” – Tammy Wynette
Patrick says goodbye to Holling and Shelly.
- “Akademische Festouverture” – Johannes Brahms
The Good – We loved how well-done Chris’ dream sequence was – the actors they chose to play Beethoven, Van Gogh, Poe, and Shakespeare were fantastic. And we loved the surrealistic appearance of the KBHR logo in the background. Very deconstructionist indeed!
The Bad – One of us disliked the Casey at the Bat scene for some mysterious reason. We also thought it was weird that they reveal that Holling killed someone. Even though it was an accident, we couldn’t help but be disappointed. We also did not like Heather in this one (also we personally admire the actor who played her!).
The Notable – The theatre seemed pretty full to us when Ed was showing The Bicycle Thieves. We may be biased (after all, we are sort of film snobs ourselves), but obscure foreign movies and cult favourites might have been a good idea, especially in an eccentric market like Cicely’s.
On’s ratings: 8.0 out of 10
Shane’s ratings: 7.0 out of 10
Oh for God’s sake. It’s only literature! (Maurice, as I recall and remember his response to the lit. professors’ ongoing feud about the state and future of their discipline.)
That was a funny moment! It was really clever how they transformed that moment in Chris’ head into his dream of the war zone.