Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Picket Fences: The Body Politic

This is a really good episode.  It has a couple of great plot threads that I’m hesitant to spoil.  One especially has this great reveal that just comes out of nowhere.  Then there’s a plot thread involving the local dentist; when Jimmy and Mayor Pugen discover that the local dentist is HIV positive, the **** really hits the fan.  But what are the ethics surrounding this issue?  Can he be fired?  Does his clientele have a right to know of his personal medical issues?  And then finally Kenny comes under fire for being involved in a polyamorous relationship.  Oh, yeah, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that.  In 1993, this TV show has a MAIN CHARACTER that is involved in an open relationship with two women.  That’s frigging crazy to me.  This show really was ahead of its time in the issues it brings up.  But this episode is, in all of the plot threads, about the way the political and social intrude into that most private of human spaces: an individual’s own body.  That they managed to make an entire episode about this that isn’t about abortion is kind of amazing.  There’s a wonderful scene between the dentist and the other main guest player, a mysterious doctor that’s moved into town that is really moving and sad.  You know a television show is up to something interesting when it’s able to make you care sufficiently that a scene with none of the recurring characters gets to you emotionally.  The other big thing here is a late scene in the episode between Jimmy & Jill that kind of snaps the whole season into focus; in a way, this entire season has been about the slow dissolution of their marriage.  When the season starts, they seem like a happy couple with the idyllic small town life we all dream about, but in this episode, you feel the hurts and the bitterness of the entire season pressing down on them.  This really is a show where the recurring characters don’t reset between every episode and I really didn’t expect the show to be this interested in ongoing character growth.  That’s another way this show was ahead of its time, I think.  Regardless of all that, this scene at the end of the episode is really wonderful.  Both Baker & Skerritt are series best in this scene and it’s a really grim and painful scene.  You feel the weight of a marriage in full-on crisis in this scene and it’s a stunner.  And the final courtroom scene is a tearjerker extraordinaire.  This is just great television.  3 ½ stars. 

tl;dr – episode explores the way politics intrudes on the human body in a compelling way while also documenting a marriage in crisis in a powerful, emotionally riveting fashion.  3 ½ stars.

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