"The Children's Hour" was the final episode of "Cupid" to air before then-ABC chiefs Jamie Tarses (the inspiration for the Amanda Peet character on "Studio 60") and Stu Bloomberg (the man with the greatest soul patch to ever occupy a network executive suite) pulled the plug. While neither this episode nor the unaired "Botched Makeover" were written as a series finale, there are parts of each that unintentionally work as final notes. No, Trevor never comes close to the 100 couple barrier, nor do we find out whether he's man or god, nor does the show ever get the chance to have Trevor and Claire confront their attraction directly, but in the lemonade from lemons category, "Children's Hour" offers us Trevor's final match and Claire celebrating Cupid's Day, while "Botched Makeover" has... well, why don't we wait until Friday, or else we won't have much to talk about with the final episode.
Just as Halloween is a money in the bank holiday for shows with supernatural or horror themes, Valentine's Day could have been the gift that kept on giving for a hypothetical world where "Cupid" ran for 7 or 8 seasons. We've already seen in previous episodes (notably "Meat Market") that Trevor hates the popular conception of Cupid as the cherubic baby with the bow and arrow, and this episode gives him an opportunity to go full-on Charlie Brown (or, if you prefer, Frank Costanza) with the complaints about the commercialization of "his" holiday.
But Trevor being Trevor, he gets so caught up in the way he thinks things should work that he doesn't pay attention to how they're actually working. He doesn't recognize that the concept of Cupid's Day -- a Festivus-like alterna-holiday for singles to celebrate on Feb. 14 -- would sound really depressing to someone without a partner on that day. (At least if you stay home and eat cookies and watch a stupid movie, it's easier to forget that it's Valentine's Day and you're single than if you attend an event where that's the whole point.)
And when, after a number of fits and starts, he finally gets our Couple of the Week -- feisty single mom Stephanie (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen back before she dropped the Amber) and persistent caregiver Luther (Ben Bode) -- in the back of a limo together and they start bonding over their respective familial responsibilities, Trevor can't see this as a good thing for their relationship and keeps trying to change the subject to fun, sexy time.
Still, in the end, Trevor turns out to not be willfully blind about everything. The Cupid's Day party -- and his idea of using the fantasy sketches Claire had the singles group write -- produces at least one match (maybe not a button-mover, but still), and he has the brainstorm to put Stephanie's kids and Luther's aunt together to look after each other while the grown-ups get to party together.
I like that the meeting between the three dependents doesn't suggest a miracle cure -- the aunt is still a pain in the ass and the kids seem afraid of her, even though she manages to convince the boy to stop carrying around his toy bulldozer -- but rather a starting point for something that could eventually work. While the magic of love moments on "Cupid" (the Trevor side) are fun, I also appreciate that the show was willing to deal with the less glamorous parts of romance and relationships (the Claire side).
It's not the strongest episode of the 15, but I like the Couple, Trevor has lots of funny lines ("The things she does with verbs, practically keeps you awake the entire time") and other bits of business (Claire calling him like a dog and him responding like a monkey), and, of course it deals with our hero's own personal holiday.
And now it's time for Rob Remembers, where "Cupid" creator (past and, maybe, future) Rob Thomas offers some behind-the-scenes insight into each episode (or, in this case, an amusing episode-related anecdote):
A few years ago, my then-girlfriend/now-wife and I went to a wedding of a friend's here in Los Angeles. Afterwards, we were waiting for the valet to bring us my car, and I noticed a woman who looked very familiar. I glanced at her a couple of times trying to place her. I finally came to the conclusion that she had played a role in Cupid, but I couldn't remember which role.Some other thoughts on "The Children's Hour":
The woman in question noticed me, and I could tell she was trying to place me as well. I finally said, "Excuse me, were you in an episode of Cupid?"
She answered that she indeed had been and introduced herself as Tiffany Amber Thiessen. To this day, this is one of my wife's favorite anecdotes. She swears I'm one of the few men in Los Angeles who would've been unable to recognize her. She also believes it was the first time Ms. Thiessen has been asked about her Cupd credit first.
A sidenote about the episode. I loved how great the snow in Chicago looked on film. It made our show unique. Working outside in it was difficult, but when we shot outside in a Chicago winter, you knew we weren't an L.A. show faking it.
- Remember how Rob admitted several episodes back that he wrote the "Trevor and Claire mock 'Dawson's Creek'" scene as petty and juvenile revenge for leaving that show on bad terms? Well, he gets in another dig here with the condescending store clerk that Stephanie tells off in front of a smitten Luther. The clerk's name? James Van Der Brook, which is a hop and a skip but not even a jump away from James Van Der Beek.
- A few episodes back, I asked how the potential remake would deal with gay couples and whether Trevor would get "credit" for same-sex matches. As we learn here from his conversation with Jaclyn -- in which she congratulates him on fixing up two men that no one else knew were gay -- at least Trevor believes that Jupiter and company have no problems with guy love between two guys. (As Trevor notes later, "By Jove, I think she's got it! I know Jove personally, and he is bi.")
- It's always a tough line to walk with cute kid characters, but I think the writing of Mac and Maggie manages to fall on the funny side rather than the annoying one. In particular, I like the kid who plays Mac's delivery of the line about the early developed kid in phys ed who offered 10 bucks for the picture of his mom.
- Maybe the funniest, and most completely random, bit of Trevor business in the episode is his explanation for why Luther should lick his teeth before seeing Stephanie. Comes from nowhere, goes on forever, and impossible to properly describe if you haven't seen it, but damned amusing.
- Champ is once again largely appearing in his own show, but at least this one is both brief and thematically tied to the main story, as Trevor talks him into reconciling with the teenaged son of an ex-girlfriend.
What did everybody else think?