The first segment of the episode, If She Dies, was sappy and maudlin and sticked the landing. Or is it stuck? OK, it stunk the landing — the ending was botched . I rolled with it, though, because I make my own fun; I just don’t make enough for everyone. Many people seemed to hate that first segment, but the second one makes the first one easier on the eyes than a Carl’s Jr. commercial.
If you take all the awful show-biz tropes from the 80’s (plus one from the 60s) and mix them into one of the dreaded TZ humorous episodes, this is what you end up with.
The lead actor is a soulless, deal-making yuppie typical of the 1980s, although not quite the coke-snorting asshole from Die Hard. The woman is frequently back-lit and shot through more gauze than Elly May Clampett in Eye of the Beholder. I’m not sure if the music is purely synth, but I’m pretty sure no strings or woodwinds were injured in the making of this score. The whole thing comes off as one of those lousy Cinemax melodramas if they tried to go for laughs instead of nudity; which might explain why they never go for laughs. There are some primitive CGI effects that were all the rage at the time, but I’m sure they will never catch on.
The performances are geared to make this a romantic comedic rom-com romp; or maybe I’ve just invented the “romp-com.” So maybe they should be graded on a curve. David Dukes is a tolerable yet exceedingly dull lead. The performance which sinks the episode, however, comes from Robert Morse.
In the incredibly unlikely event that Bill Paxton ever took an acting class, it must have been taught by Robert Morse. Like Paxton, he is apparently incapable of a single frame where he is not hamming it up. You have to act in order to over-act, so I don’t think that is it. It is just relentless mugging and unfunny funny faces. He was never a huge star, but has been around forever.
His skills were no better 25 years later when he played Bert Cooper on Mad Men — same utter lack of characterization. He does have a certain unique “presence” but you better like it, because that is all you are going to get. At least age rounded some of the edges.
Actually, his role in Mad Men kind of parallels his acting. I get that he is a senior partner at Sterling Cooper, the firm where the show begins. But as they moved on to Sterling Cooper Draper Price and Sterling Cooper & Partners why did they keep dragging him along and putting his name on the letterhead? Did he ever produce one worthwhile idea in the entire series? In both worlds, why is he here? 
So Dukes spots a woman, and Morse — playing Cupid — sets them up. But Dukes does not follow through. Somehow this leads to him setting up Cupid with the former Mrs. Cupid. At the end, Dukes and the woman and Mr. & Mrs. Cupid are happy couples. The Cupids drive by in an ancient Dusenberg and wave at Dukes. Final question: Why would they be in a Dusenberg? Cupid has been around for 2,000 years — why would his knowledge of cars start or stop in the 1930s?
-  Hmmm, I always thought “stick the landing” meant you blew it. Turns out I had this completely wrong — even in thinking this was clever.
-  It appears I did invent it.
-  Equally baffling to me is Roger Sterling. His father was one of the founders of the original firm, but has he ever generated a single fee large enough to cover his bar tab? I think he did finally land a big one later on, but why did they keep him around all that time?
- Directed by Peter Medak, who should know better (The Changeling, many TV shows including The Wire and Breaking Bad).
- Available on YouTube, but why would ya?