The directorial reins in episode 3 switch from David Gordon Green to Andrew Fleming, who in the 1990s directed The Craft and the Watergate satire Dick. Recently he’s been directing not-great TV like Bad Judge and The Michael J. Fox Show, and the handover to a more TV-oriented helmer shows in “The Wedding,” which begins with two uninspired goofball scenes and then introduces the terrific, unafraid-of-going-camp “Special Guest Star” Gina Gershon as Getty’s wife, only to waste her in a nothing part.
A crude music video (though not authentically ’80s camcorder crude) is the demo that gets David hired as the assistant for the lecherous photographer Barry. Then David and Karen are browsing through a video store when they skulk into the Adults Only section and encounter David’s dad, Sam. Richard Kind makes the moment work with his line, “This — this isn’t the Western section! Then — then why are there saloon doors?” But this is Grade A sitcom syrup, derived straight from the spigot of laugh-track network comedy.
It’s revealed that Dr. Kornblatt (Barry Godin), the man throwing the wedding at Red Oaks for his daughter, is a cardiologist. Sentimentalists for shopping mall stores of yesteryear, though, will smile when Nash explains to David how Kornblatt really made his money:
Nash: “All of this was paid for by Yogurt Whimsy.”
David: “The place next to Supercuts?”
Nash: “And Crown Books and K-B Toys and a dozen other locations throughout North Jersey.”
Crown Books went belly up in 2001; K-B Toys somehow kept its plastic head from popping off until 2009.
Most of the episode cuts between high jinks during the wedding. It should have focused more on Getty and his wife, if only for the pleasure of seeing Paul Reiser and Gina Gershon as an obscenely rich power couple. Her one significant dialogue scene doesn’t even capitalize on Gershon’s talent for delivering juicy lines. (No matter what positive things people are saying 20 years later, Showgirls is still an execrable movie — except for her performance.) She and Getty chat with a high society woman, who’s bragging about the facelift she received from Getty’s tennis nemesis, Dr. Feinberg. “Is it my imagination,” Getty says once the woman’s walked away, pointing with his scotch in hand, “Or does she actually look worse?”
His wife looks at him. “What, you’re not going to pay for my face-lift?”
NEXT: Getty gets empathy
Near its conclusion, the episode does include an excellent scene for Reiser, who has a subtle moment of realization about his own life, which in turn brings Red Oaks’ seriousness once again into focus. After another meet-cute between David and Getty’s daughter, Skye, this time at night while she’s swimming in the country club pool and he’s taking a break from filming wedding guests, Getty interrupts to retrieve his daughter and tell her that they are ready to go home.
Copping his usual cross attitude with David, Getty asks the kid why he’s working both as a tennis pro and a wedding photographer.
Getty: “Saving up for a car?”
David: “Um, no, I wanna get a place in the city.”
Getty: “I thought you go to NYU?”
David: “Yeah, I commute.”
It’s a simple piece of information, but Getty’s realization that David is not someone who can afford to live in New York City — and his ever so tiny embarrassment at having assumed he could — causes Getty to pause a beat and nod a few times, as if he’s literally loosening the chip from his shoulder. Reiser, a veteran of jerk parts, understands how to make the recognition more of a flicker, and the episode’s writers (Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi, plus Colbert Report staffer Max Werner) get that in the rare occurrence that Getty feels empathy for another human being, he’s not going to verbalize it. Instead, he tells David about himself:
“I caddied all through high school and college. I washed dishes, too. Not here, at another club. That was 30 years ago. It feels like five minutes.”
It’s quite a sweet, contemplative grace note. When Getty says that 30 years feels like five minutes, with a mixture of bewilderment and melancholy, we might also want to realize that the same ocean of time separates then — 1985 — from now. The Back to the Future reference comes later in the season, but this was a moment to get us thinking about the DeLorean.
’80s song playlist:
“I’ll Tumble 4 U,” Culture Club