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And Then There's Maude: Episode 21

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

*

Season 1, Episode 21
Episode Title: The Perfect Marriage

Original airdate: 13 March 1973

Plot: The Findlays and their friends Vivian and Chuck are fresh off a two-week vacation in Jamaica and judging from the way they're carousing, I'd say the group has been sipping rum and coconut the entire trip home. They roll through the door singing a Calypso tune to the beat of Maude's maracas (hey, now!). Each couple wears coordinating clothing: a long dress with big frilly hem for the wife, a sport shirt for the husband in a matching island print, and hats woven out of dried palm fronds for all. I pity anyone who had to sit next to this bunch on the plane ride home.

"Everybody!" cries Maude and they all sing, "Mathilda - chicky, chicky, boom, boom - Mathilda - chicky, chicky, boom, boom - Mathilda, she take me money and run Venezuela!" while Chuck bangs on a miniature steel drum and Walter leads a dance line around the living room, ending with the Limbo. The vacation's over when Walter begins his Harry Belafonte impersonation for the umpteenth time, unbuttoning his shirt down to the navel and belting out "Daaaaaay-o, daaaaay-o" to which Maude says, "Walter, we have all seen your belly button. Just put it away."

Reminiscing about vacations past, all four agree this has been their best yet, but all good things must come to an end, so Vivian and Chuck announce it's time to go home. The Findlays aren't ready to break up the party and insist their best friends stay for just one more drink.

With Maude and Walter out of the room, Viv and Chuck trade glowing compliments with one another. Their marriage has been the greatest and they still love each other. And, by the way, when would be a good time for them to tell Maude and Walter they're getting a divorce? "Because (we've) simply had it," says Viv. "Up to here," replies Chuck.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Maude and Walter marvel at the "joy that emanates" from their "lovebird" friends. Maude says that each of the four times she married, she prayed it would be a marriage as perfect as Viv and Chuck's. Bearing a platter of salami and cheese into the living room, Maude tries to spark a conversation about where they should all vacation next, but Chuck and Viv hold off. They have something they want to tell Maude and Walter first.

Maude's excited at the prospect of a surprise announcement. Walter thinks he can guess, based on the gleam he sees in Chuck's eye. "You're going to trade your old jalopy in for a new one." "Well, that's one way to put it," replies Viv. Thinking of only happiness and light, Maude and Walter play at 20 Questions, trying to guess what the big news is. "We're getting a divorce" is that last thing they expect to hear and something they find too impossible to believe.

For a couple who had such a good time on vacation ("Happy? The walls (of the hotel) were paper-thin. We heard them. They were delirious.") they sure seem to be rushing into a divorce. Maude tries to convince them to wait a week. ("I mean until the slides are developed. When you see how happy you were in Kodachrome you'll really change your mind.")

No way. Chuck and Viv have given it a lot of thought and they've made up their minds. After 21 years of marriage, even though they "still dig each other as human beings," when they're alone together they "can't stand each other" and just "bore each other to death." Maude just can't believe what she's hearing from the couple she thought had the perfect marriage. Funny, says Viv, "that is exactly what we've always said about you and Walter. The perfect marriage."

Viv and Chuck leave and a reeling Maude can't believe how calmly Walter is taking the news. "You never know about marriage," says Walter. "Marriage is like a new pair of shoes . . . On the outside they may look beautiful but only the one who wears them knows how much they hurt his feet." This pearl of wisdom from a man in a beer-can hat.

The seed of irrational doubt has been planted and Maude immediately jumps on Walter for wanting to call Arthur as soon as they arrived home. "I obviously bore you!" she yells. Second-guessing everything that's come before, Maude is in fear for her own marriage. It's after midnight and Walter has no desire to get sucked into Maude's late-night drama, which only fuels her marital flare-up even more.

A melodramatic Maude continues to make a mountain out of a molehill, twisting Walter's words and blowing things out of proportion as proof that their marriage is as shaky as Viv and Chuck's. Convinced that everything she does irritates Walter (such as picking a fight every other episode), Maude pushes Walter too far. After smashing some kitchen crockery (again - see Episode 7), Walter reduces Maude to tears by admitting that some of her bathroom etiquette bugs the heck out of him; things like wet panty hose hanging everywhere and "little pieces of Kleenex, that you use to blot your lipstick, lying in the bowl, smiling up at me."

Maude decides they need to get it all out and demands that they each make a list of everything they can't stand about the other. Walter wastes no time getting started, nodding and chuckling to himself while madly scribbling away. Of course this irks Maude even more and she demands to read his paper. Walter declines. He feels better just having gotten this stuff "off his chest" and he heads on up to bed.

Maude's not done arguing and she continues yelling at him from the bottom of the stairs until he returns, his arms full of sheets and pillows. He'll be sleeping in the den. Thanks to Maude, he's second-guessing their perfect marriage now too. "Just think of it as a trial separation," he says as he closes the den door in Maude's face. "Nighty night."

That sneaky Walter - giving Maude a taste of her own medicine. He lets her fume, then simmer, than beg for forgiveness through the door. Demanding to know what he wrote about her, she picks up a note slipped under the door which reads "I love you, I love you, I love you, so get off my back." Meanwhile, Walter has snuck out the window and back through the front door to surprise a tearful Maude with another verse of his maraca-shaking Harry Belafonte impersonation and the two lovebirds "chicky-chicky boom-boom" their way up to bed.

Hot button social issue: Love + marriage + time = divorce?

Fashion statement: Walter pairs his orange and purple island print sport shirt with a pair of orange sherbet-colored slacks. On closer inspection, his straw hat has a Coors beer can attached as part of the hatband.

Neckerchief count: Zero, zip, nada.

Welcome back to 1973 pop culture reference #1: "How can you compare a broken marriage to a pair of tight Hush Puppies?"

Welcome back to 1973 pop culture reference #2: "Oh, Walter. That's so sweet and poetic. If Shakespeare had known you he would never have written Romeo and Juliet. He would have written The Valachi Papers!"

Number of times Maude yells: 4

Memorable quote: "Why go to bed? That's no way to solve these problems. This problem cannot be solved horizontally. This is a vertical issue, Walter."

Times the live audience breaks out into spontaneous applause: 1

References to Nixon: While throwing out ideas for their next vacation, Walter suggests, "How 'bout Red China? I understand Kissinger found a good German restaurant there."

Wow, did they just say that? When Maude refuses to join in the Limbo, she says, "Calypso Joe on island say, trim ship with big stacks can't go under low bridge, mahn."

Recurring character Rue McClanahan makes her second appearance as Maude's best friend Vivian. William Redfield plays her soon-to-be ex-husband Chuck, despite the fact that he'd portrayed Carol's shrink Dr. Stern in Maude's first episode.

-

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.
Season 1, Episode 14: The Convention.
Season 1, Episode 15: Walter's 50th Birthday.
Season 1, Episode 16: The Medical Profession.
Season 1, Episode 17: Arthur Moves In.
Season 1, Episode 18: Florida's Problem.
Season 1, Episode 19: Walter's Secret.
Season 1, Episode 20: Maude's Good Deed.



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Posted on April 16, 2008


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