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And Then There's Maude: Episode 14

Our tribute to the 35th anniversary of the debut of Maude continues.

*

*Season 1, Episode 14
Episode Title: The Convention

Original airdate: 2 January 1973

Plot: This fairly subdued episode, the first of 1973, has the feel of a one-act play. It features only Walter and Maude and is set entirely in room number 12 of a "no-tell motel" in Worcester, Massachusetts. Walter's attending an appliance convention and Maude has joined him for the first time. Hey, what better time for Maude to suffer an identity crisis.

A hotel reservation screw-up has landed the Findlays in the last available room in town - twin beds in the seedy John Smith Motel. ("Must have been named after all their customers.") Maude and Walter unpack and begin dressing for the "kick-off banquet." The twin beds, magic fingers and wax paper-covered glasses get the Findlays all hot and bothered, but before they can indulge in a little pre-chicken-a-la-king nooky, Walter notices they're running late.

He suggests they pick up where they left off after the banquet but Maude has seen this too many times before and knows that by midnight, Walter will be out like a rock - snoring, gurgling, and whistling away. ("Walter, you are a festival of weird noises.")

Walter's solution is to set the alarm clock for 12:30 a.m. "Come hell or high water, we've got a date!"

Maude sparks the latest round in their ongoing argument when she asks Walter if he's glad she came along. When he explains that he never asked her on a business trip before because conventions are boring, she counters, "Not half as dull as staying at home, rooting for some deranged housewife to win a Jacuzzi whirlpool on The Price is Right." Drama queen Maude puts on another award-winning performance for her husband, lamenting the lack of meaning and usefulness in her life.

Walter has heard it a million times but he still doesn't quite grasp how standing by her man - taking classes, doing charity work, waiting for the next episode of the game show Stump the Stars - could leave Maude feeling so unfulfilled. In any case, he just wishes she'd get over it already, because they're going to be late to dinner.

Maude takes a moment to relax, popping a quarter in the Magic Fingers and stretching out on the bed. A look of bliss comes over her face, but Walter breaks the mood urging her to hurry up. ("Walter be quiet. I think I'm falling in love . . . Would you be very upset if I ran off with the bed?")

Maude and Walter continue their argument. She's having a terrible time and Walter says she should have stayed home, kicking off another rant against housewifery from Maude. ("I'm so tired of being a second-class citizen just because I'm a woman.") Maude is feeling "over-educated and under-used," crying out for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Walter only makes things worse by handing Maude her convention name badge, which labels her "Mrs. Walter Findlay."

Bea Arthur gets a lot of laughs in this episode by simply replying to Walter with deadpan looks and withering stares. When Maude complains that her "work" is devalued by society because she doesn't get paid for it the way a man does, Walter says, "I'll give you five bucks to put on your dress." Maude fixes him with a blank stare for a full five seconds that gets a big laugh and a smattering of applause before responding, "God'll get you for that, Walter."

While Maude changes into her maroon evening gown, Walter carries on his own rant. He's sick and tired of the "emancipated woman," which he notes is ironic since the appliances he sells are helping to create the problem of women with too much free time on their hands. He retrieves the nametag from the trash where Maude threw it and slaps it on her chest. Like a bobble-headed Stepford Wife, Maude puts a goofy grin on her face and robot-walks her way to the door, repeating, "Hello, my name is Mrs. Walter Findlay" over and over.

Walter and Maude return from the banquet seething in anger. They're not talking to each other but that doesn't stop them from arguing. Walter is carrying an award that he won ("Top Ten Dealer Award, Second Runner Up. Big man!") and his acceptance speech has only added fuel to the fire. As usual, he's clueless as to what he's done, so Maude has him recreate his speech. Turns out, in thanking everyone, he thanked "the little woman." Ouch! To add insult to injury, when Maude stood up, the banquet audience laughed for five minutes.

Maude erupts again but all Walter wants to do is go to bed. They're not going to "find a solution to 5,000 years of female frustration at the John Smith Motel . . . " Besides, he's got an early seminar in the morning "What to Do with Your Microwave Oven." That set-up line garners another hard stare from Maude.

Walter climbs into bed and tries unsuccessfully to sleep but Maude won't let the argument die. He tries to calm her down by asking a simple question: "Do you love me?" to which she replies, "What is this? >Fiddler on the Roof?" (See Pop culture trivia below.) For two people in love, he continues, there's a time for talk and there's a time for silence, and "this is a time for silence." Of course it is, screams Maude, because he says it is and he's a man and she's just a woman!

Good thing she's not a man, Walter exclaims, leaping out of bed, or he'd punch her in the nose! Maude eggs him on, daring her husband to prove he's down with the equality of women by socking it to her. Just as it looks like Maude will add domestic violence to the roster of envelope-busting social taboos, the love-alarm goes off. It's 12:30! Saved by the bell.

Walter jumps back into bed, ready to keep their "date." They kiss and make up, with Walter admitting that if he were a woman, he'd be as frustrated as Maude. Maude admits that jumping into bed won't resolve anything but it helps.

Hot button social issue: "Hello, My Name is Mrs. Walter Findlay" but you can call me "the little woman."

Neckerchief count: Three, including one on Maude's nightgown that looks like it would surely strangle her in her sleep.

Decorating tip: Frankly, the seedy motel room, with its floral wallpaper, robins egg blue bedspreads, and four-foot-tall table lamps, doesn't look too far down the decorating ladder from the Findlay living room.

Welcome back to 1973 pop culture reference: They had microwave ovens in the 1970s?!

Pop culture trivia quiz: Maude's reference to Fiddler on the Roof is an in-joke. In 1964, Bea Arthur starred as Yente the matchmaker in the original Broadway musical.

Number of times Maude yells: 8

'70s slang: "You know perfectly well what is bugging me, Walter Findlay."

Memorable quote: "Honey, let's face it. I'm nothing but a 47-year-old sex kitten."

Times the live audience breaks out into spontaneous applause: 3

Reference to Henry Kissinger: "Let me tell you something Walter. It sure beats sitting under a hair dryer in a beauty parlor reading all about Henry Kissinger's love life. Which, incidentally, I do not believe for a minute."

-

Previously:
Season 1, Episode 1: Maude's Problem.
Season 1, Episode 2: Doctor, Doctor.
Season 1, Episode 3: Maude Meets Florida.
Season 1, Episode 4: Like Mother, Like Daughter.
Season 1, Episode 5: Maude and the Radical.
Season 1, Episode 6: The Ticket.
Season 1, Episode 7: Love and Marriage.
Season 1, Episode 8: Flashback.
Season 1, Episode 9: Maude's Dilemma (Part One).
Season 1, Episode 10: Maude's Dilemma (Part Two).
Season 1, Episode 11: Maude's Reunion.
Season 1, Episode 12: The Grass Story.
Season 1, Episode 13: The Slum Lord.



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Posted on January 2, 2008


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