Season 6, Episode 18: Too Cool for School

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Written by: Ian Biederman & Mimi Schmir
Directed by: Scott Brazil

Co-starring Anne Gee Byrd as biology professor, Susan Krebs as career counselor, Benjamin King as Mark, Tom Dugan as economics professor, Dan Wolf as Blair, Nicholas Lanier as student

Transcribed by Rachel

Charlie greets Gus, the man who owns the furniture factory. Charlie comments that he hasn't seen him around there for a while. Gus could get used to it. He's been able to take his grandson to a baseball game, play 36 holes of golf at Pebble Beach. But, he's come by because he got a call from Standard Home Furnishings. They've made him an offer to buy the business. Charlie is shocked. He wonders if this is because they beat SHF out on some jobs. Then he realizes that Gus is seriously considering the offer. He and Gus have talked every week and Gus has never mentioned wanting to sell. Gus didn't think he'd get the right price. Charlie can't believe that Gus asked him to run the place and now he's pulling the rug out from underneath Charlie. Gus says the new company will make him a very attractive offer. Charlie doesn't care. He has big plans for himself. They've gotten the bedroom line started and now he's ready to do the dining room and living room. He also wants to try some high-end office furniture. Gus says he can do that at the new company, if nothing else it'll be much easier because they have deeper pockets to get new lines started. It's the best thing, for everyone. Gus asks Charlie to trust him.


Victor is teaching Owen how to make candy. Claudia comes in and listens as Owen tries to convince Victor to come to his class for "Show and Tell." The person comes and tells their life story, but Victor doesn't think his life would be very interesting. Owen begs again and Victor says no again. He takes the chocolate off the burner and walks out of the room. Claudia offers to come, but Owen thinks it would be totally boring. Claudia looks back, wondering where Victor went so abruptly.

College of Fine Arts
Julia and Adam are in a writing class. The young professor , Walker, is teaching about how character, detail and style all speak to what they are trying to say. He comments that Julia has tried a stream of consciousness. He asks if she was trying to guide the reader, to help them to understand. She starts to answer, but Adam interrupts, commenting that Ulysses was all stream of consciousness and who ever understood that. Walker says that all of the language in that book is there for a reason. Adam thinks it is about passion and that is what Julia was trying to get at. Walker thinks that if Adam hasn't gotten anything from Ulysses but passion, he hasn't really understood it. Adam challenges the professor saying that he thought that writing was an art and art wasn't supposed to follow any rules. How can he, the professor, tell Adam what the rules are?

Career counselor
Bailey is meeting with a career counselor. He tells her that he's interested in venture capitalism, consulting, and marketing. She stops him, they have quite a list already, they should try to narrow it down a little bit. She wants to know more about his background. What is his degree in? Bailey admits that he dropped out his sophomore year. He's got a great resume. He ran his family's restaurant for over two years, totally turning the place around. She's really sorry, but the first thing any employer asks her is what the person's degree is in. He may have life experience, but without a degree he isn't going to get in the front door.

Standard Home Furnishings
Charlie is in a meeting with the management of Standard Home Furnishings. The finish watching a videotape about the company. Marson, the head of the company, tells Charlie that with their distribution facilities, people like Charlie are free to just build, taking away a lot of hassles of being an independent contractor. He wonders how it sounds to Charlie. Charlie thinks it sound fine. Has he had a chance to look over the salary and benefit package? Charlie has and it's impressive. Marson senses a but. Charlie says that he's worried about the things that he's already designed that he wants to build. That's the main reason he took over for Gus. That's why they like him, they like what he's building. Charlie has other things he wants to build. That's fine. He should just put together a portfolio and they can run it past the EDG. Charlie asks what the EDG is. It's the Executive Design Group. They approve all new designs. Then they'll have to run it past marketing, but that's just a formality...provided consumer testing goes well.

Claudia and Todd are as a Mexican street festival. Todd is on his way to New York for five days to do some recording. He's going to miss her. She tells him to go have fun. He wants to know when. He's going to be locked in a smelly recording studio and won't have time. It's exactly what he told Mabel when she said they should go out. Claudia wants to know who Mabel is. She's just a girl he used to know. She's the cellist they are using. Claudia points out that he's never mentioned her. Todd says that they grew up together and then she moved to New York for work. Claudia wants to know what kind of work. She's a model. They haven't seen each other in a very long time. Claudia wants to know if they keep in touch. Todd says that she writes him letters. She wants to know if they dated. Not really, although Mabel did kiss him once. Claudia is getting more upset. Todd thinks she might have been a little in love, but that was eons ago. Todd shouldn't have said anything. No, Claudia says he should have said a lot more. Now she feels like he has hid it from her. He says he hasn't. She tells him to forget it.

Holly's apartment
Holly is at her apartment studying. She can't believe that Bailey won't even consider going back to school. He says it isn't an arbitrary decision, it's based on years of experience. School seemed like decades. Holly doesn't think school is that boring. She is, however, having trouble with her Latin, transposing the "I"s and the "U"s. Bay points out that even she isn't into it. No, she is, she loves it. For instance, the liver can filter 2000 minerals a year. He can't tell her that isn't exciting. It is for her, but not for him. She's pre-med. Well, he just needs to find his "pre." College is filled with all kinds of exciting subjects. He doesn't care, he's interested in life. So, he thinks that anything in life is more interesting than reading about it in a book? Bailey agrees. Holly thinks that makes them different. She can't think about any subject that she's studying that she wouldn't be interested in reading more about. Bailey finishes dinner and puts it on the table.

Charlie and Kirsten's apartment
Charlie isn't sure he can work that way...with someone looking over his shoulder every minute. She asks how he knows it would be like that. He looked at their catalogs and they push a whole cutting edge thing, but they're still all about market share and that means making a product that everyone likes which means that sooner or later he will end up making stuff that he hates. Kirsten tells him to leave and work someplace else. Charlie would, but all the designs he's done in the last six months belong to Gus. He wants to build those things. Kirsten thinks maybe he should buy the business instead. Charlie admits that he's thought about it. Kirsten can't believe it...she meant it as a joke. He know, but they were asking him to run the company, why not run it himself. She asks how much it would be. He realizes it would be a lot of money, but that's what they make banks for. Kirsten can't believe how huge that would millions huge. She knows that he could do it, but it's huge.

Adam's apartment
Julia comes over to find Adam clearing out his closet. He's doing some spring cleaning. She comments that he's in a mood. He is. He picks her up and they lie down on the bed and kiss. She can't believe he didn't even ask her how she was, how her day was. He knows how her day was, he spent it with her. She remembers. She asks what happened that day, in Walker's class. She thought it was sweet that he defended her, but it was a little more than just a discussion. Adam thinks Walker should hear that kind of stuff more often. Julia wants to know why she shouldn't try to make sense in her writing. Adam thinks it's depressing watching his girlfriend turn into a drone. She doesn't think she's a drone. She is taking their crap as the gospel. Why? Because they have tenure? She points out that they pay thousands of dollars so the professors can judge them, that's why they are there. Adam asks if she really means that. She does. He gets up and starts going through his clothes again.

Claudia comes downstairs with a laundry basket to find Victor doing laundry. She was just thinking that he spends so much time in their house, but they don't know much about him. They know that he likes so salsa and puts chocolate in his chili, but they don't know where he grew up, where his family is, if he moved to San Francisco from somewhere. Victor hates to disappoint her, but there isn't much to tell. Claudia thought that the day before, with Owen, it mad her her a little curious. She thought there was something that he didn't want to say. Victor wonders why she's asking now. No, she thought it might be something he didn't want to say in front of Owen, something he might not understand. Victor tells her that it's personal. Claudia says that she won't push, but if he wants to talk sometime... Victor tells her again that it's personal. Didn't she hear him say that? He takes his laundry and leaves.

Charlie is talking to Bailey about buying the business. He doesn't want to pitch it to the bank like it's some kind of longshot. He wants it to look like a lay-up. They get the new lines going, make a huge balloon payment and the bank is back in the black in two years. Bailey isn't sure. Charlie says the numbers are good, if anything he's being a little conservative. Bay knows, but the numbers are huge. Charlie realizes that, but it's all relative...what are a few extra zeros? Bailey knows, but it's more zeros than he ever came close to at the restaurant, even with all the changes that he did. Charlie wants to know if he's saying that Charlie is making a mistake. He isn't, it's just.... Huge, Charlie replies. He thanks Bailey, that really takes all of the pressure off.

Claudia gets off a bus and stops in the shelter to put her coat on. When the bus pulls away she sees Victor across the street. He seems to be in an argument with a young woman. He gives her an envelope and then she hands him something back.

Bailey walks Holly to her lecture. He's carrying her books. He can't believe she has room in her head for all of that information. She asks if he isn't sure that he wants to come sit in on one of her lectures. He tells her that she really doesn't want him at one of her lectures. He snores. School, it isn't for him, he doesn't fit in there. She asks why. He admits that all the other people make him feel stupid. He doesn't read very well and it's hard for him to write. Everybody else is like Holly. He knows that she means well, but this isn't going to work out.

College of Fine Arts
Professor Walker starts class. Adam stops him to ask about the note on the assignment that the professor has just handed back to him. Walker says they can talk about it later, but Adam presses him. "Brevity, sharpness, we need a point," Adam would like him to explain what he meant by that. Julia whispers under her breath, trying to get him to stop. Walker says that in a nutshell the language made no sense to him. He felt like it took him longer to read it than it took Adam to write it. Adam wonders what if there was nothing to get, what if he just wanted the reader to lose himself in the language. Walker thinks that if you just throw words down on the page, you're doing a disservice to the reader. Adam wonders if he really thinks that. He pulls out a page and reads, "Beckett's language is very playful, yet still erudite. The author deals brilliantly with issues of isolation and doubt by letting the reader drift with his own ambivalence." It's from a 1954 review. What? Didn't he recognize Samuel Beckett? Walker wonders if Adam thinks he's funny. He put a lot of energy into a big raised finger. Does he think Walker shouldn't be teaching the class. No, he just thought that maybe nobody should. Adam gets up and leaves.

Charlie is meeting with the banker. The company does have a lot of growing to do, but he's already made some good progress. When he computerized the billing, it was like he had created fire. The banker agrees, there is nobody he would rather see run the company than Charlie. Before he came along they were ready to foreclose. The offer that they have to beat. Charlie tells him to not say it's huge. That isn't it. The premium that they are putting on it is very hard to collaterize. Charlie points out that it's because they are banking on all of his outstanding orders. It makes perfect sense, they aren't paying too much money. Charlie wonders why if it isn't too much money for them, why is it too much for him. Because they aren't coming to this bank for the money. If they were, he would want extra collateral from them as well. Charlie doesn't know what kind of collateral he has for a loan this big. Can't they do something creative here? This is a good deal. The banker says that creativity isn't really their thing and he thinks that Charlie will find that other banks feel the same way.

Bailey is waiting outside Holly's lecture. He peeks his head in and then leaves again. The door across the hall is open. It's an economics lecture. He slips in and sits down. The professor asks a question about interest. Bailey comments under his breath and the guy next to him answers the question correctly. The professor asks what the most efficient way of determining value is. Bailey again tells the guy the answer, that it's equities. He's wrong. This kind of thinking, this street smart, day trader thinking is an anathema to true market investment.

Claudia's room
Claudia is on the phone with Todd describing what she saw on the street with Victor. It's not like she doesn't trust him. A woman picks up the other extension. Claudia asks who it was. Todd says it's no one, but Claudia says it's clearly not no one. Todd tries to cover up, but she points out that this is what they talked about before. He needs to not withhold. He and Mabel were leaving a club in the Village and she wanted to walk home, but her bodysuit soaked through, so she came up to his room to take a hot bath and then she lost her purse, so that's the only reason she's spending the night. He asks if Claudia is still there, but she has hung up the phone.

Bailey has talked to a couple of VC guys he knows. Charlie doesn't know what VC guys are. Venture capitalists. Furniture isn't really their kind of thing, they're into dot coms, but he talked to him anyway. If Charlie could scrape up the littlest bit of collateral, they could do something. It got Bailey thinking. They have collateral. They have the house, the restaurant, cars. Charlie says no way. Bailey tells him not to give up on the deal. Charlie isn't giving up, he's just changing his mind. He realized that he's asking a lot of people to risk a great deal: the money people, the workers, Kirsten, the family and why, so he can be the boss? Bailey tells him that the company needs him. He has amazing plans for the business. He'll still be able to do that with Standard. He'll get a nice salary and he'll have more time to spend with Kirsten. Bailey presses him, this is the right time for Charlie to do what he's worked so hard for. Can't he see that? Charlie says that at a certain point there is other stuff that's more important than what he wants.

Claudia comes in the kitchen to find Victor on the phone. He is talking to a "Val" telling her that she can't hide from him. He'll come down there if he has to. He'll call her later. Victor hangs up the phone. Claudia asks if everything is okay. Victor says it is. She says that she knows that something is wrong. She saw him that day. She got off the bus and she saw him. Victor asks what she's saying, she's the queen of non-sequiters. She tells him what she saw, him giving that woman some money and her giving him something back. She doesn't think anything is wrong, but she wants to know what's going on. He wants to know what she think is happening, that it was some street action, a crack whore selling to the Puerto Rican guy. No, but he takes care of her brother, so she deserves to know what's going on. He has given her no reason to not trust him. She has not right to interrogate him and if having no privacy is a condition of his employment, than she should let him know because maybe he shouldn't be working there anymore. He leaves.

Julia is watching Adam work. He wants to know why she's so quiet. She wants to know what's wrong with him. One minute he's picking fights with their professor, the next he's being sweet. What's going on with him? Nothing is wrong with him. Julia points out that the school is ready to suspend him or worse and he's just sitting there sipping his coffee. Isn't he worried about that? He doesn't know. Maybe he doesn't belong in this place. She doesn't get him right now. He doesn't get her. She isn't letting him do this again. He might think she's a lemming for listening to what their professors think, but at least she's committing to something. Like her book? Her book about Ned that she's so scared to let out of her hands because two lousy people rejected it. She says that isn't true. She said that she reread it and she couldn't figure out what was wrong. Maybe nothing was wrong. They slink around looking for approval, but maybe that isn't necessary for something to be good. Maybe she is right, maybe he could stand to commit to some things, but at least he commits to himself.

Holly's apartment
Holly wakes up to find Bailey reading her freshman economics text. He's been reading it for a couple of hours and is totally fascinated. He tells her about going to the lecture. He thought that something the professor said was wrong, but he's been reading and his theory was correct. Bailey figured he would just keep reading and see what he thought of the rest of it. It's very good. Some of it is weird spacey theory, but some of it is really good. Holly is surprised. Now that he's been out in the world he can see that the stuff in the book isn't just ideas, there are practical applications. She wonders if this changes his opinion about college. He thinks that maybe he can give it a try.

Charlie and Kirsten come to the restaurant to meet Claudia, Julia and Bailey. Kirsten is delighted to have family supper turn into family lunch. It saves her from having to eat at her desk. Claudia says that it isn't really a family lunch thing. Julia says that they asked them there to talk. Kirsten wants to know if something is wrong. Bailey says that they want Charlie to buy his company. Charlie reminds him that they talked about it. Claudia counters that they want to buy it with him. Julia says that Bailey told them about the deal, that he needs to put something up for the loan, so they took a vote and they want to put their shares of the restaurant in. Charlie is shocked. He thinks it's very generous. Bailey says it isn't generous, it's a good investment. Charlie thinks it's risky. Bay thinks it would be a bigger risk not to. If they do this, then they would own a piece of his business and they think it would be better to own a piece of something that is growing instead of something that isn't. Charlie says that it is their dad's restaurant, the family business. If something were to happen and they were to lose it... Julia knows that could happen, but the thing is, the family is different now, the family is them. And maybe the family business could be different too. Bailey says that business school says that you should put your money in something you know and they've all been watching him and they know what he can do. There isn't anything they would feel safer in betting on than him.

Victor is cleaning up Owen's lunch. Claudia comes in and he sends Owen upstairs. Claudia says that they have to talk about the night before. Victor knows, he lost his temper. Claudia isn't saying that she needs to know about everything that is going on in his life or that his personal life has anything to do with his job. Victor interrupts her, actually it has everything to do with his job. Claudia asks what he means. The woman that she saw him with, her name is Valerie. He knew her back home, in Brooklyn. She was his girlfriend. It was before he knew what he was, gay, straight, something in between. He was 19. They dated a while and then they got pregnant. She wanted to marry him, but he couldn't, he was starting to realize some things about himself. When she asked him to help with the baby, he got scared and confused and just didn't. She moved out to San Francisco to be with her parents. Later, when he realized that he needed to be out here, for his daughter, he sold everything and moved out there, but Val's parents wouldn't let him see her. Val lets him give her money sometimes and that's what Claudia saw. He pulls out his wallet and shows Claudia the picture Val gave him. It's Charlotte on her sixth birthday. Claudia comments that she looks like Victor. Val's parents think that he doesn't want this, but he does, more than anything. He just wants to be a good father.

Adam's apartment
Julia knocks on Adam's door. He doesn't answer, but there is music playing inside. Finally she checks the door, it's open. She goes in saying that she listens to him, so...there is a strange guy in the apartment. He's Blair. She asks where Adam is. Blair says that he left for a while. He told Blair that he could crash until he gets back to town. Julia asks where he went. Blair says there is a message on the machine for her. She goes to check it. Adam apologizes for taking off. He feels bad, but he's really confused, so he's going to take off for a while to figure some things out. He's going to visit some friends at a commune in Mexico. The only thing that makes sense right now is her, but he needs more. He'll see her.

Salinger house
Todd comes to apologize to Claudia. He has a huge bouquet of long-stemmed roses and a ridiculously large statue of the Empire State Building. He says that she's the most amazing talented woman he's ever dated...while she's the only person he's every dated, but... She cuts him off. She doesn't need to know everything. He should have told her if she needed to worry. Of course she doesn't. Claudia moves in and kisses him.

Charlie and Bailey are waiting. Bay asks what time it is. Three minutes since the last time he asked. Bailey wonders if they should call him. Charlie says that Gus wasn't expecting a second offer, especially from him. He said he would call them, so they should wait. Bay wonders if he specified a year. The phone rings. Charlie answers it. It's Gus. He listens, then hangs up the phone. Bailey tells him not to panic, they still have time to sweeten their offer. Charlie says that the company is his. Gus took the offer. They are both delighted, but in shock. Charlie thinks it's so huge. Bay says they have to celebrate. He goes to call the family. Charlie walks out into the factory, hardly believing that it all belongs to him. He looks at the chairs that he designed and is amazed.


I hate to say it, but maybe it is time to call it quits with this show. The acting is great, direction good, lighting still fantastic, nice music, but it just doesn't feel very fresh anymore. I'm not sure what would jump start it at this point, but since that's pretty much a moot point, I just wish that we were going out a little different way. I want to see the family, how they're growing, their new relationships. Mind you, I like Victor, but I don't really care one wit about his personal life and his child. I would much rather give Kirsten and Charlie a little more screen time, let alone have one single mention of the child (Diana) who Charlie loved so much and wanted with him that he was willing to go to court to keep her.

Enough griping...there were things I liked.

Initially I felt like buying the factory was a pretty bland retread of the "Joe got a great offer, so we need to buy the restaurant" story. Okay, it still was, but it did provide two really great scenes. I liked the scene in the restaurant with Bailey, Julia and Claudia telling Charlie that family business meant the family more than the business. I also was really blown away with the scene at the end when Gus told Charlie he had accepted his offer. I just kept thinking about when Nick opened the restaurant and what that must have been like. Was Charlie born yet, or was Diana pregnant like Kirsten is now? Was Joe there with him, like the brother he almost was? What had Nick had to risk to start his own business?

I do think it makes perfect sense for Bailey to go back to school and I liked how they folded that back into the factory story. He does have business savvy, but in this world there is a great deal to be said for education. I do think that Bailey is more invested in things once that he can see where it's going. To head to business school, now that he has seen a bit of the business world, seems to make sense. I do wish he had talked more about his challenges in school, drawing that back to Owen's own difficulties.

The Claudia story was pretty predictable. Of course Todd has a sexy woman in his past...don't we all? Of course her name is Mabel and she got wet in the rain...hasn't that happened to everyone? Stupid. I get the point, Claudia is jealous, but I really think there was a better way to do it.

As I said before, I didn't care for the Victor story. What does it have to do with anything? It doesn't really tell us all that much about his character and it does nothing to move the story of the family along. This is right up there with the neutering of Griffin Holbrook, one of the great tragedies of this series.

Finally, I'm not sure what to say about the Julia/Adam plot. I don't have a clue what is going on here. It seemed like Adam was coming out of left field and maybe we will find out what caused this radical shift in behavior, but right now there seems to be no rational explanation for it. Oh, and Julia's book? Glad we mentioned that again, but I'm still confused by what part of her not sleeping with Evan made him not publish a book he seemed to really like. Huge plot hole.

Five episodes left, lots of ground to cover. Hopefully next week some of it will be a little more compelling.

Copyright ©2000 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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