FRANKLIN & BASH:
SHE CAME UPSTAIRS TO KILL ME
She Came Upstairs to Kill Me surprised me on the second viewing. When I saw it the first time, I thought it was well-crafted with a humor that didn't take itself seriously. Watching it again, I still think it is one of the best Franklin & Bash episodes, but not as brilliant and clever as I thought it was.
Isabella Kaplowitz (Natalie Zea) is the nicest, kindest Black Widow ever. She has been accused of murdering her much-older husband through sex. Yes: SEX! Despite being on medication and not in the best of health, Miss Isabella and Henry opted for wild nights of passion. One night, things went too far (according to her) and poor Henry died. Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) want in on the case, but Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) who is leading the defense, along with his nephew Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) doesn't think both of them should be in on this. It's Jared who comes up with the short end of the stick (and that isn't a Breckin Meyer joke), for he now has to handle a case involving Infelds' 'spiritual advisor'.
The murder case against Isabella keeps getting worse and worse. An ETM describes how Henry had said before dying, "She came upstairs and killed me," even smiling when he said it. There are inconsistencies in Isabella's testimony: at first she stated that if Henry used his 'safe word', "cantaloupe", she would stop, but we learn that she knew he hadn't taken his medication when they last made love.
Things are looking bleak indeed for Isabella, and despite his best efforts Henry and Isabella's best friend Wallace Clayton (Fred Willard) seems to make things worse by revealing that she had come to him as their financial advisor a few days prior to Henry's death to see about money. However, thanks to Franklin & Bash's investigator Carmen (Dana Davis) in the guise of a hooker, she finds that one of the jurors has been slipping information about how the jury was leaning to help pay for a lavish honeymoon via online gambling.
This, however, isn't as important as the fact that Henry and Wallace loved getting jokes from an "Old Guys Cracking Wise.com", and how a particular joke was flubbed by a dying Wallace. The joke is about an old man who had abstained from sex because it could kill him only to rush downstairs and declare "I want to commit suicide" to his hot wife. He finds that she was rushing upstairs to have sex with her husband, telling him, "That's OK. I came upstairs to kill you." With that, we find that not only were Henry's dying words not an accusation but a fumbled joke, but that Wallace, who had lusted after Isabella, knew she was innocent and was hiding this information to get back at her for rejecting him.
To be fair, She Came Upstairs to Kill Me had one ace up its sleeve: Fred Willard. Long before he was found 'dancing with himself' in an adult theater, Willard's performance in retrospect lends credibility to his 'randy old man' performance here. What is interesting about Willard in She Came Upstairs to Kill Me is that beneath that familiar William befuddlement, there is a hint of darkness underneath the jovial exterior, as if he not only could withhold evidence, but maybe even killed Henry himself. Granted, the episode spells out that it was heat of the moment that did poor Henry in, but one wonders if Clayton had had just a tiny chance.
For myself, apart from Willard and Zea's performance as the grieving widow, in terms of performances there wasn't much to She Came Upstairs to Kill Me. This is the first episode where Peter Bash, the more sensible of the two, first shows us he is actually quite stupid. Remarking to his 'partner' Jared about Infeld's skills in court, he says, "It was like watching Pavarotti play the violin," a remark to which only Pindar and Carmen realize was idiotic (Jared appearing equally unaware). Carmen signals to Pindar not to bother correcting Peter, as it would serve no purpose.
It's as if Franklin & Bash hasn't decided if Peter is rational or stupid, and which still continues to perplex producers.
Sadly, Peter's basic ignorance on many things would be a recurring theme. In future episodes Peter would be unaware that Jesus was a carpenter (not a fisherman as he believed), that Franklin D. Roosevelt could not walk, and that Def Leppard has a one-armed drummer. Is it me, or is it hard reconciling the idea of Peter Bash as a brilliant attorney and him being totally ignorant at the same time?
She Came Upstairs to Kill Me I think also has the benefit of this being a rare moment when neither of the boys really takes the lead in court, so we don't have the patented shenanigans they would later indulge in. McDowell's Infeld and Diamond's Karp took this case seriously (or as seriously as possible). However, other aspects kind of fell flat. Jared's 'spiritual advisor' case was non-existent (we really never learned what it was about) and his running out of a deposition by telling everyone his 'wife' had gone into labor I imagine would get him disbarred. The plot point of who was betting on the case also fizzled, the judge being exonerated, and the poor juror who had been supplying the information and being harassed apparently having a breakdown while in the box.
Whether this came about naturally or at the behest of Franklin and Bash remains a mystery.
What was curious was that Jared himself bet on the case with their Cabo vacation fund; it's not so much that Jared would put money on the case that was curious. It was the fact that they had a joint vacation account and apparently travel together. Granted, I've travelled with people I know, but I also have gone on vacation by myself. Do these guys do EVERYTHING together?
She Came Upstairs to Kill Me is amusing, clever, and remarkably well-thought out. We still see that Jared and Peter are immature, even a bit insane (in no world would an attorney not think appearing in front of potential clients in his boxers would be inappropriate), but for now, we can delight in the oddball nature of the series.
|The Long and Short of It...|
Next Episode: Jennifer of Troy