As Rob Thomas said in the review for "Hung Jury," that episode and this one were the chief victims of the sudden ouster of writer/producers Jeff Reno and Ron Osborn, as Rob and the remaining writers had to scramble to put together episodes that would have been Reno and Osborn's responsibility. The slapped-together quality was more blatant with "Hung Jury" -- "Bachelorette Party" is definitely a better episode -- but you can see how the rush hurt this one as well.
One of the cardinal rules of writing is "show, don't tell," but "Bachelorette Party" flows in the opposite direction at every turn. The characters -- most of them friends of Claire who have known her since high school -- spend the entire hour arguing about events that happened days, weeks or even years before the episode took place, whether it's the affair that Claire's friend's fiance is having with her other friend, or the grudges that the entire clique still hold from their teenage years. And unlike in "First Loves," we don't even get flashbacks to any of these events. The rhythm is constantly exposition/exposition/fight, and while the performances by Piven, Marshall and some of the guest stars are fine, it's very hard to get invested in any of this.
The idea of female friends holding onto the same misconceptions and beefs over 15 years and more isn't a bad one -- there are moments at the bachelorette party where I buy into these long-lasting friendships -- but it really calls for an episode with a wildly different structure than we get here, something that doesn't take place entirely in the present and deal entirely with the past. If Thomas and company had more time to craft the script, to build more sets (virtually all the action takes place at Taggerty's or Claire's apartment), maybe to hire actors to play the high school/college versions of Claire and her friends, they could have done something really interesting with the basic premise, but the quick and dirty version doesn't work.
That said, the scenes near the end -- Claire on the train with Heather and, especially, Claire, Trevor and Joanne at Taggerty's -- feature some nice performances by the actors involved. I just wish they didn't have to do so much heavy lifting.
I don't have much else to say about this one -- Trevor's first experience with sickness and Champ's fear of exposing himself on stage were amusing distractions -- so it's time for Rob Remembers, where "Cupid" creator (past and, maybe, future) Rob Thomas offers his own take on each episode -- which in this case is as brief as mine:
I can't say much about "Bachelorette Party" as I've tried to completely block this episode out of my mind. As I've jotted down my commentary on the previous episodes, I've screened them in the background in order to jog my memory a bit. With this particular episode I'm not even willing to do that. Why revisit the trauma?Coming up next: I'm taking most of next week off, which means you have an extra week to watch the penultimate episode, "The Children's Hour," featuring an all growns up Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. You can see it here, here, here, here and here. We'll talk about it a week from Tuesday, on the 26th.
Here's my macro problem with the episode. None of the women come off well. Now with the guest stars, this is something of a problem, but the episode also reflected badly on Claire, which was a primary concern. I always wanted Claire to be tightly-wound. Early in the season, I think we dialed up that aspect of her personality too much, but I thought we'd found the right balance at this point in the season. This episode set us back again. It was almost guilt by association. Interestingly, as I recall, the modeling for this episode was the Rosalind Russell/Joan Crawford/Norma Shearer movie, THE WOMEN. We missed the mark wildly.
What did everybody else think?