blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Takin’ Over the Asylum (1994) s01e03 – You Always Hurt the One You Love

Was there a doctor appearance last episode? I can’t remember. This episode has the first doctor-involved subplot, this time doctor David Robb, who can’t see a reason to keep Ruth McCabe in the hospital anymore since all she needs is medication to keep her OCD in check and her husband, Jon Morrison (incorrectly credited as Jim Morrison, which almost seems intentional since a Doors poster is prominent in radio station shots), is willing to take her back if she’ll just take that medicine.

Of course, McCabe doesn’t want to take the medicine. She’s been flourishing at the radio station and felt good about herself. David Tennant is basically McCabe’s sidekick for this arc, with her figuring into his arc about saving the radio station. But we also get to hear about McCabe’s backstory, which involves a whole bunch of tragedy and a whole bunch of psychological abuse from Morrison. Except—and the show’s amazing about how it acknowledges this facet without any sort of judgment–Morrison’s kind of dumb. Like. He’s a dumb lug and even though he’s a dick, he’s not unsympathetic. Writer Donna Franceschild does a phenomenal job weaving the subplots through one another, with Tennant’s subplot informing McCabe’s not just throughout but also in their resolutions. It’s deftly done.

Similarly, Ken Stott’s got a lot to do with the saving the station arc—though mostly crapping on it because he’s being a pessimist because he just got to this place two episodes ago and it didn’t seem to occur to the people who brought him in—those unseen people—they might need to keep the equipment running. Sandra Voe is back to rain on Stott’s parade—no money from the hospital and also don’t get too close to those damaged patients. Particularly Katy Murphy, who Stott continues to gently court, often making predictable and unpredictable mistakes.

We find out Stott’s sweet on Murphy for sure when grandma Elizabeth Spriggs presses him on why doesn’t he have a wife yet and why doesn’t she have three great-grandchildren like her friends. Spriggs is a weird character; she ought to be some kind of comic relief but instead she’s just tragic and depressing.

Meanwhile at work, Stott’s now in the elite salesman of the month club, which pisses off work adversary Neil McKinven, who’s now out to get Stott for not being a real salesman. We also miss out on Stott’s speech accepting the award. It does seem like that scene should have been in there, if only to give Stott some awkward time at the podium with obnoxious boss Roy Hanlon.

It’s a somewhat circular episode—the radio station plot is always in pseudo-motion only to get back to where it started from—but the great character development keeps it all moving forward.

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