It’s hard to know what to make of “The Wedding – Part One,” but not because it’s the beginning of a “special two-part episode” that ABC is thankfully not calling the finale. “Part One” tells its own story with a natural resolution. Kate wants to have a real wedding, which involves some bureaucracy that leads to an INS interview at a very scripted bad time. Yes, Diane walks into a room and conquers it, and Jackie never stops babbling, but Warren just can’t hold his father’s true heritage in any longer? The episode is a garage packed with junk and hidden treasures both, but it’s the disorganization that stands out.
Is all comedy this sketchy nowadays? Maybe that’s not the right word, but the plotting is so episodic, and not just in this episode. Take the spine of Kate wanting a wedding. Well, it actually starts in the Harrisons’ garage as she’s finally cleaning it out. This leads her to the videos of Pete’s two other weddings, which leads to Kate wanting one of her own, which leads to Kate trying to get her name changed, which leads to the INS interview, which sounds like it might be a whole thing but is just a scene. This-then-this is the structure of the show, for better or worse. It certainly evokes a sense of Kate’s hectic, at times overwhelmed life. But it also makes it easy for these episodes to go in one ear and out the other. They tend to be more parts than whole.
Meanwhile there are a bunch of other things going on. Jackie isn’t ready to tell Bert that she’s seeing Just Steve now, but Bert sees him at home so she covers by saying he’s a bagel delivery man. “No bag, no napkin, per your request.” Bert later sees him at Pete’s office, which he covers just as smoothly, so Jackie tells Bert she’s seeing him and that’s that. One push is all it takes. Diane wants to go public with Russell Bradley Morrison after two years together watching classic parliamentary debate whenever they want on BBC On Demand. So she hits a few points of disagreement with Russell Bradley Morrison and goes to Kate for advice. The most reliably funny part of “Part One” is how Diane even sounds mean when she’s trying to be nice. In her wedding video, itself a comic a triumph, part of her vow involves calling Peter her “perfect imperfection.” When she tells Kate about going public with Russell Bradley Morrison, Kate says it means a lot to her. Diane air-kisses her. “It wasn’t intended to. Congratulations on your redundant wedding.”
Everyone else is busy, too. Pete wants to incorporate something Scottish into the wedding to celebrate his heritage, so the boys start wearing kilts. Warren finds out they’re actually Flemish. Hillary and Meg become rival maids of honor. Kate tells Meg, “Since I’m your best friend, maybe it’d be best if I just took the lead on this.” Hillary says, “But, since I have never declared bankruptcy, it might make more sense for me to run point.” Also they’re cleaning out the house, and then Pete and Kate push their Normal American-ness really hard for their interview, which entails Pete wearing a fanny pack. “This is a regular guy who does not have two ex-wives and a hot young bride he bought on the Internet.” There’s just a lot going on, and it all explodes at the climax, which results in some seriously faulty logic by the INS worker (Kate and Pete aren’t marrying for convenience because their life together is so crazy nobody would do that?) that resolves the case such that we can have our Harrison wedding next week. No complaints about that, but the way everything builds to that is unfortunately more Modern Family than The Middle.
Everything about the wedding itself is pretty funny, starting with the two wedding videos. First there’s an all-Diane wedding with Pete rocking a curly Jesse Katsopolis on the Friday they interrupted TGIF for the O.J. chase. Jackie’s wedding took place on the beach at sunset, Pete with a goatee and bongo Bangles. In her vows, she tells him, “Our spirits align [Sniffles.] as perfect as our genitals.” Kate’s wedding took place at the courthouse, which was fine by Meg. “We had huge sandwiches afterward and I successfully contested a speeding ticket.” But after seeing those videos, Kate starts to want a real wedding. “Ugh, I’m being such a girl,” she says. It reminds me of Liz Lemon. When her fiancé tells her it’s okay to want a real wedding, she says, “No, it’s the worst, because of society!” Trophy Wife gets it. And Pete’s proposal is shabby but very cute on short notice. He flips on a strand of red lights and gets down on one knee with no ring, and it’s beautiful. That’s what Kate wants. Not a perfect wedding. She wants what Diane and Jackie had, something that will look funny and dated and weird in a few years but funny and dated and weird in her own way.
- Other Things I Appreciate: Kate being the voice of reason and some Kate-Hillary time!
- “Katherine Walrus?” Kate’s last name being Walrus (pronounced “Val-roose”) is the biggest laugh of the night for me.
- Bert plays on the elliptical: “Ahh! How do you make your legs stop?” More good physical comedy from Bert: He tries to walk through a door while holding out a hula hoop.
- Another line that made me think of 30 Rock: “Technology’s cyclical.” Except that one’s actually verbatim.
- Diane on the archery range: “This is where I come to let my hair down.” Her hair is pulled back in a tight braid.
- Meg tries to one-up Hillary for the bridal shower. “I see your high tea and raise you this bag of novelty penises.” It’s censored but that doesn’t make it any less fun when she smacks one and it lights up.
- Kate’s Normal American impression: “Let’s just hope the big game’s not on or this one’s gonna disappear in the man cave all day.”
- I also love how Pete just decides not to let his Flemish heritage bother him. Like Jackie telling Bert about Just Steve, I appreciate when a character just chooses to end a subplot for the good of the episode.
- Malin Akerman’s Childrens Hospital co-star Megan Mullally is Kate’s mom, Cricket! She gets off the plane in handcuffs (“Oh, nothing. I just barely groped him.”) “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They never should have let men become stewardesses. It is just too much temptation.”