8 Simple Rules: Season 3, Episode 15

Old Flame (14 Jan. 2005)
"8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter" Old Flame (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 60 users  
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Cate is gathering the courage to e-mail an old boyfriend Matt. Jim remembers telling Cate to stay away from the guy. Then C.J. takes the liberty of sending the e-mail. Soon after that, Cate... See full summary »

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Title: Old Flame (14 Jan 2005)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Bridget Hennessy (as Kaley Cuoco)
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Matt
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Sherry Brown ...
Matt's Wife
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Storyline

Cate is gathering the courage to e-mail an old boyfriend Matt. Jim remembers telling Cate to stay away from the guy. Then C.J. takes the liberty of sending the e-mail. Soon after that, Cate declares that she's taking some time off from taking care of everything and locks herself inside her room. Suddenly, there is a knock on her window. It's Matt (played, thanks to brilliant casting, by none other than Katey Sagal's old cast-mate Ed O'Neill from Married with Children)! Written by Toni Tapola, Finland

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Comedy | Drama

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TV-PG
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14 January 2005 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The actor playing Cate's old flame previously played her husband for 10 years in Married with Children (1987). See more »

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Old Flame: Married with Children redux!
21 February 2007 | by (Chicago, IL) – See all my reviews

One of the advantages of combining veteran stars such as the late John Ritter, Katy Sagal and James Garner with a much younger cast, is the potential for unlimited homage pieces and retro references that hark back to different eras, and --because of Garner -- different epochs in sitcom and cinematic history.

While such cleverly deployed references will easily get a nod from the 70s-80s generation, getting even a glance from the younger generation -- including their much younger fellow co-stars -- would be a feat in and of itself.

Such references, nevertheless, including Season one's Three's Company redux starring the late John Ritter, and James Garner's famous reference to "The Rockford Files" in Season 2/Episode 9, are priceless as they can only be pulled off when a multi-generational cast is assembled representing a collective body of work as expansive and diverse as the present cast.

Insofar as that goes, episode fifteen of season three is represents precisely that timbre and variety.

Ep. 15 begins harmlessly enough with Cate Hennessy's (Katey Sagal) traipsing down memory lane one day while sitting in front of the family computer. Her reminiscing brings her back to a self-described "dangerous phase" during her younger years, which compels her to compose an email to old college flame Matt Walsh (Ed O'Neil).

C.J.'s (David Spade) inquisitiveness, however, interrupts her midstream, which triggers the collective consciousness of the family, especially Grandpa Jim (James Garner), who mostly remembers Matt as "that crazy long-haired low-life hooligan." While waffling whether to actually send the email to Matt, C.J. (David Spade), unwittingly opens Pandora's's box when he mischievously hits the "send" button on the email program -- much to Cate's consternation.

Later, after being bombarded by the family with a never-ending and non-stop litany of needs and wants (Bridget and Kerry need home-baked cookies for yet another school bake sale; Grandpa Jim needs a button sewn onto his favorite flannel to watch the lumberjack competition on TV; Rory wants her to fix a geyser science project gone awry in the living room; and C.J. wants to borrow the family car for a night out drinking with the other substitute teachers), Cate finally erupts and throws in the towel by declaring to her family: "I am not a baker, a seamstress, or a scientist! There is food in the fridge -- fend for yourselves!" With that, she retreats upstairs to her room, fed up with being taken for granted while giving herself some space and headroom to take a trip down memory -- and reality -- lane.

Soon enough and to Cate's surprise, nostalgia comes a knockin' in the form of reality -- quite literally -- when Matt Walsh (Ed O'Neil), bangs on her bedroom window -- apparently compelled by Cate's fortuitous and errant email message -- to visit her in the middle of the night. He then sweet talks Cate into taking a trip with him down memory lane -- a'la Al Bundy style -- on the back of his motorcycle.

Excited, Cate demurs and climbs out her bedroom window with Matt and hops on to the back of his motorcycle for their collective reminiscing -- unbeknownst to the rest of the family who pines away for her stabilizing presence and taken-for-granted help.

Meanwhile, the first stop on Cate's trip down memory lane is a bar from their college years where Matt and Cate (in previous world, known as "Al and Peggy") down shots of tequila while making goo-goo eyes at each other as they reminisce nostalgically.

As the night goes on, Matt discloses that he has left his wife, as he continues to talk Cate into progressively more dangerous stunts and outrageous behavior.

Next, he has her watching him trying to kiss a granite gargoyle high atop a 200-foot spire, as he instructs her to take a picture of him hanging by its beak.

Then he tries to persuade her into running away with him to Wyoming to fulfill their teenage dream of "opening a water bed store and writing bluegrass songs" while "livin' on love and free-range chickens".

Matt's bundy-esquire fantasies, however, come to a crashing halt when Cate answers his cell phone, only to find out that it's his wife, and that everything is a lie.

At that point, Cate realizes what she has in the present, warts and all, is her reality -- and a blessing -- after realizing that Matt's maniac chaos, emotional instability and seductive lies are a mess.

In effect, by paying homage to her former co-star Al Bundy in the personage of Ed O'Neil, Cate -- who in another life was known as "Peggy Bundy" -- effectively turns her back on a former period of her life -- as well as a now defunct series -- from "a thousand years ago".

After turning Matt down, Cate returns home a changed woman, realizing that despite the neediness of her family, she has taken much for granted and that the grass is not greener on the other side.

To her pleasant surprise, she finds that her family has come to the same conclusion by finding that without her, their lives have come to a grinding halt and that they too, have taken much for granted.

One of the cleverest episodes to date written, as usual, with much heart and soul -- and plenty of wit as well.


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