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And Then There's Maude: Episode 5

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

*

Season 1, Episode 5
Episode Title: Maude and the Radical

Original airdate: 10 Oct 1972

Plot: Stand back. Maude is throwing a cocktail party.

The grueling pressure of playing hostess to thirty guests spins Maude from one panic attack to another. Even after two Miltowns ("the greatest tranquilizer known to man") she's as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers - a joke that's used no less than three times in this episode. The guest of honor is Jim Chambers, "one of the most important black militant leaders in the country." The party is a fund-raiser, a minor point Maude keeps from her guests, fearing no one will show if they think their pockets will be picked.

You can see where this is going.

Adding to the mayhem, the one black couple Maude invited has called to cancel and she's frantic to find a replacement. ("That's right, Maude, you should always have a back-up black.") Maude ropes Florida into attending the party. Wearing a fabric headdress, the housekeeper is introduced as "Florida Dubonet," an honored guest from a rising black nation - Harlem.

The shindig is in full swing, the living room filled with wide ties and towering hair-dos. Maude makes a big production out of taking a phone call from Jim Chambers' aide, announcing to the crowd that the guest of honor is just 12 minutes away.

Compliments about the party flow like the liquor but Maude refuses to believe the evening is anything but a disaster waiting to happen. To ensure that outcome, she begs Arthur for some Valium and chases the pills with a tumbler of scotch.

In no time, a loopy Maude is on the stairs calling for attention ("Fellow liberals! Fellow liberals!") After a brief speech, she segues into her rendition of "Some Enchanted Evening." The crowd begins to get restless. After all, Maude promised them Jim Chambers would be arriving in 12 minutes, and it's way past 12 minutes now! This is a group of very punctual fellow liberals.

Maude's attempt to stall backfires when she brings up Jim Chambers' latest book, Give Us Colorado. No one in this group appears to know exactly who the guest of honor is because they seem surprised that his book argues that the state of Colorado should be given to blacks. Ultra-conservative Arthur relishes pointing this out ("Jim Chambers has gone mad!") and Maude's guests are appalled ("Isn't that where Aspen is?") and confused ("Everyone knows blacks don't ski.")

Maude tries another tactic, asking Florida (her "very dear friend and a true black herself") to share with the group some of her "vast black experience." This sets Arthur off again and he begins to hint at Florida's true identity, prompting a now thoroughly stoned Maude to break into song again. When she lets slip that the gathering is a fund-raiser and then insults the group when they express surprise, everyone (including Carol, Florida and Arthur) clears out fast, leaving Maude to face Jim Chambers on her own.

Hot button social issue: Booze, pills and white liberal cocktail parties for black militant leaders - shaken not stirred.

Fashion statement: Maude sports two fantastic ensembles in this episode. The first I mistook for an outrageous dress until a second viewing revealed that she's wearing a bathrobe! It's cut like a pink velour circus tent with elastic cuffs, a full-length zipper, and an attached scarf that wraps around the neck and down to the floor.

The second is an eggplant-colored long dress that incorporates two signature Maude looks, the floor-length vest and the floor-length scarf draped around the neck and flowing down the back. Add a row of buttons down the front from neck to toe and a pair of big dangling black earrings and it's party time!

Neckerchief count: 0

Cocktail hour: Florida begins the episode in the kitchen whipping up a batch of "hot hors d'oeuvres." This reminds me of the cocktail parties my parents threw in the '70s with a full bar for mixed drinks, California dip (dried onion soup mix in sour cream), water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, and little Vienna sausages (or meatballs) in a sauce of ketchup and mustard warmed in a chafing dish for hours. Entertaining straight from Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book.

Welcome back to 1972 pop culture references (File these under "I did not know that"):
* Ptomaine poisoning - otherwise known as food poisoning
* Miltown tranquilizers - otherwise known as "Mother's Little Helper"

Pop culture trivia quiz: In discussing the deep pockets of the guests coming to her non-fund-raiser fund-raiser, Maude ecstatically relates how one couple (who she keeps referring to as "The William Kennys") once gave a telethon $5,000 to talk on the phone with Julius La Rosa. Give yourself 20 points if you can correctly identify who that was.

'70s slang: "That's not where it's at!"

Wow, did they just say that? Part 1:
Maude: Where am I going to find a black guest at this hour?
Carol: Try the Yellow Pages.
Walter: Aren't they just for Orientals?

Times the live audience nearly groans: Once (see "Wow, did they just say that? Part 1)

Wow, did they just say that? Part 2: It seems one of the female guests has an unexpected visitor of her own. When the woman approaches Maude and whispers in her ear, Maude directs the guest to the bathroom upstairs and explains where to find what she needs. Then Maude says, "Isn't it always the way, though? You wait and wait and wait and then it happens, right in the middle of a party." (This gets such a big laugh from the live audience that the actors have to pause before going on.)

Keep an eye out for:
Patsy Garrett as the whispering lady (see above). She's best known as the woman dancing the "Chow-chow-chow" cha-cha with her cat in a series of commercials for Purina Cat Chow from the 1970s.

Number of times Maude yells: Seven - we have a new record.

-

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.



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Posted on September 11, 2007


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