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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode opens with Brenda hectoring her sister,Rhoda,demanding to
know if her new dress makes her look fat.Brenda is delighted over her
upcoming third date with a mailman,Jimmy Klein.Brenda thinks Klein is
romantic,and likens him to "a man with sensitive eyes who reads the
'Village Voice' on public transportation."
Rhoda balks when Brenda indicates that she'll be meeting Jimmy at the bus terminal to catch a bus for New Jersey, although Klein actually lives in Brooklyn.
Jimmy Klein justifies his peculiar actions because "New Jersey is quieter,and he likes to travel." He also has to be home by 11 p.m. to walk his dog.Rhoda is thoroughly suspicious of Jimmy Klein, and seriously doubts Klein's single status.
That evening,Joe(Rhoda's husband)tells her he's selling their car in order to curb expenses.Rhoda informs Joes she's worried Brenda is involved with a married man,but Joe figures that Brenda will learn better about such situations through trial and error.
Rhoda is in the basement,using one of the apartment's washing machines when she is buzzed by the loopy-sounding doorman,Carlton.He asks her to stick his uniform in the dryer on "air fluff," so "his epaulets won't shrink."
Jimmy Klein now asks Brenda to go with him for a romantic weekend in Vermont.He insists,though,they stay in separate motels because "he has to stay with the union guys..."
Exasperated,Rhoda accuses Jimmy Klein of being a married man.(A stubbornly obstinate Brenda refuses to consider the possibility.)
Rhoda is convinced when she hears that Klein has been wearing a Bandaid over his left ring finger to cover "a cut that inexplicably won't heal."
At Rhoda's insistence,Brenda gets Jimmy to commit to a dinner NOT on Thursday evening - but at a restaurant in New Jersey.
The party convenes at an ersatz Hawaiian restaurant;Jimmy and Brenda are late.Jimmy Klein is nice-looking,slightly pudgy,and very edgy;Rhoda thinks he's not only married - but looks like a fugitive...
The excitable Jimmy looks around the restaurant and starts wailing,in a skittery voice,about "the number and the brightness of the lights,and the current energy crisis."Jimmy favors his hosts with a tight,furtive smile and a shifty-eyed,fearful expression.
Brenda commiserates with Jimmy for having to change his uniform for a suit at a gas station,instead of at home.Joe hastily orders "tropical" drinks from a sarcastic waitress clad in little more than a grass skirt, judiciously diverting the enraged Rhoda from exploding at the latest news.
Joe starts to discuss the car he's put up for sale,and Jimmy admits he'd like to trade in his 1959 DeSoto station wagon.Rhoda comments mordantly that married people usually drive station wagons.Jimmy Klein babbles nervously,and a face-saving toast with the ridiculously-large tropical drinks is proposed.
Rhoda,determined,has Jimmy Klein in her sights,and transfixes the frightened Klein with a look that would stun a Bengal tiger.
She confronts Jimmy Klein - finally accusing him,point-blank,of being married.
Jimmy grimaces,shifts uneasily,then admits(with a candid stupidity):"A little bit - sort of - well, yeah,yeah - but only for three years!"
Wounded,Brenda upbraids Jimmy Klein,who temporizes: "Well, I'm a very weak person."
Brenda,feeling duped and heartsick,gets up and leaves;Rhoda follows.Joe pays the tab,but as he leaves,tells the feckless philanderer:"I think you're a creep."
Jimmy Klein looks unhappy for being revealed so publicly,but philosophically returns to his free drink...
Back at the apartment,Brenda pleads with Rhoda not to interfere in her life again. (An impossibility:Rhoda is committed to protecting Brenda at all costs.)
Actually,Brenda figured something was amiss when she saw the incriminating Bandaid,but ignored the obvious in favor of potential romance.
Brenda jokes sardonically that she can now write a book entitled:"Where It's At In Jersey."
The show ends when Carlton,the doorman calls Brenda in her apartment and becomes emotional over his lost laundry basket containing an important item.Rhoda checks her laundry basket,and pulls out a partially-consumed pint of whiskey.Asking Carlton to describe the item,he responds,boozily: "Half empty."Rhoda then indicates,sarcastically,that she DOES have Carlton's "lost property."
Kudos go to guest star Barry Brown who(as Jimmy Klein)played a witless bumbler whose pathetic attempts at adultery are so transparently amateurish,he makes an excellent case for marital fidelity - not because it is simply the right thing to do,but because it is far less ludicrous than the ridiculous extremes resorted to keeping his faithless behavior from being discovered.
The lunkheaded Lothario,Klein,is exposed almost immediately.And even after Brenda,Rhoda,and Joe indignantly leave the restaurant(and the parasitical Jimmy Klein to his own devices) - Klein still sits there,greedily draining the free tropical drink to the dregs(as he would have the relationship with the unsuspecting Brenda.)
Barry Brown's rare comedic performance was in a medium which he should have pursued further,in addition to his intense,emotional dramatic roles (usually costume dramas,such as "Bad Company,""Testimony of Two Men," and "Daisy Miller."Sadly,Barry Brown's premature death at age 27 in 1978 cut short a potentially promising career.
Although this episode of "Rhoda" is over 30 years old,it is not dated,and the humor is still timely.
The outcome of the show was eminently predictable,but it was still very amusing,and well worth a half-hour of one's time for some warm,satisfied chuckles.
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