Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Maude: "Nostalgia Party"

Premiered December 30, 1974.

"This is going to be a fabulous party, the most fantastic party ever!  I mean I guarantee you this is not going to be one of those typical New Year's Eve disasters.where all the guests sit around waiting for Guy Lombardo to come on while two drunks throw up in their paper hats."
-Maude Findlay

Maude tells Mrs. Naugatuck about her party plans.
Dateline:December 31, 1974: Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur) is excitedly planning her New Year's Eve party.  She hopes it will be the greatest party of all time.  Maude says it will have what other parties don't: a scavenger hunt!  She will hide "little gifties" all over the house, and whoever finds the most "gifties" wins a prize.

Mrs. Naugatuck says it feels more like Labor Day than New Year's Eve to her!
Mrs. Nugatuck (Hermione Baddeley), the housekeeper,  is unimpressed with the plans.
Especially since the party means that she has to work on New Year's Eve.

Maude is undeterred, but her enthusiasm is dampened when her friends Vivian (Rue McClanahan) and Arthur (Conrad Bain) say they just attended a "scavenger hunt" party the night before.  Maude is convinced her party is ruined.  She gets angry when she learns that Vivian invited Estelle and Herman Ellinger, a couple who always have arguments and ruin everyone else's good time, to her party.

No one feels like celebrating 1974, Maude's friends and family are in a cranky mood.   They all agree it was an all-around bad year.  Maude's husband Walter (Bill Macy) has had a tough year running his business.  Inflation has hurt his appliance shop and Walter doesn't see that improving in 1975.

In this atmosphere, Arthur suggests they celebrate their favorite years instead of the current one.  Maude likes this idea and tells everyone to come to her party dressed as their "most nostalgic year".

Guests in nostalgic outfits of various eras
Vivian arrives dressed in a Shirley Temple outfit as if she was 5 years old (and her father's favorite child).  Her husband Arthur is 1952, the year he attended the convention where Dwight Eisenhower was nominated.

Walter does a Groucho Marx impression in uniform
Walter puts on his old Army uniform.  He says 1942 was a great year for him.

"That long-stemmed American beauty, Gypsy Rose Findlay!"
Maude tops them all. She reenacts her 1945 College Freshman Review performance, wearing what can best be described as lingerie and performs a burlesque dance for her guests!

The Ellingers arrive along with 90 something year old Aunt Polly (Judith Lowry).   The couple immediately get into a fight with each other and depart, leaving Aunt Polly behind.

The bickering Ellingers with Aunt Polly caught in the middle
As it turns out, the nostalgia angle leads to more arguments.  Maude and Arthur point out that Walter's favorite year was "great for Hitler, Moussolini,  and Hirohito".  Maude tells Arthur that '52 was a terrible year, with a recession and conflicts in the Middle East.  Vivian says Maude was "the campus zit queen" during 1945.

Aunt Polly breaks up the argument by blowing a noisemaker to get everyone's attention
Aunt Polly puts things in perspective and proposes a toast to her favorite minute, saying,  "Last year isn't important, it's what's happening now."   This causes everyone at the party to rethink their bickering and have a more positive approach.

J.A. Morris says:

There are not that many "New Year's" themed episodes.  And that's because there aren't many stories that can be told about Christmas' lesser sibling (plus, most series are on hiatus during the Christmas holidays).  But this episode makes good use of the New Year's Eve setting.  It's a typical episode of Maude, but that's not a bad thing.  Everyone has some good one-liners.  Maude gets in some zingers at Arthur, her political nemesis.  Mrs. Naugatuck points out Maude's classism.  Vivian says something slightly airheaded.

Vivian's childish behavior makes Maude want to throw up in a party hat!
 Bea Arthur deserves kudos for dancing around in a showgirl outfit.  It's something rarely done on tv (then or now) by a woman in her 50s, and she sells it!

I really like the idea of a party where guests dress as their favorite year.  Of course it helps when you have a sitcom's costume department to help you.  But the message here about living in the now and not romanticizing the past is a good one.

Arthur chants "I like Ike", the slogan for Eisenhower's 1952 campaign.
"Nostalgia Party" is a very good episode with plenty of laughs and some nice philosophy thrown in for good measure.

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 and a half champagne flutes.

RigbyMel says:

I really enjoyed this episode, which was new to me this past year.  (I've been watching quite a few episodes of Maude on the Antenna TV network recently.)

Mrs. Naugatuck winking
The nostalgia party idea is a really fun one,  and I like that this episode humorously points out that the "good old days" depend largely on point of view.    I also like that Aunt Polly, a feisty older lady,  puts all the bickering in perspective by suggesting that taking pleasure in "now" is a very important part of life.   That's a good message to ponder most days (not just New Year's Eve/Day).

Maude and Walter share a New Year's Eve kiss
This episode can be found on Maude:The Complete Series DVD set.  The series also currently airs on the Antenna TV Network  and is well worth checking out!

RigbyMel's rating:

3 and a half champagne flutes

1 comment:

bga said...

Maude was such a front runner in so many ways. They weren't afraid to tackle assorted issues. I like your point about years feeling different to different people. Each year has its good and bad moments, but we tend to remember different aspects of them.