Friday, February 05, 2010

CORRECTION: We Regret the Error

In the post the other day about sitcom appearances of Mahler's "Songs on the Deaths of Children" and my claim that Cheers never used this particular comedic crutch, Tim writes in with a correction:

It's from "Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses", originally aired June 5, 1993. Here's the recap:

Rebecca is pleased to learn that she and Mr. Gaines have similar interest in classical music. She uses this to start up a conversation and before long he has invited her to his house to hear some Mahler. She looks forward to the occasion, only to find out that he has intended her to serve his guests.

In the scene, Rebecca and Mr. Gaines are listening to Mahler; Rebecca remarks on how lovely and uplifting the music is and asks the name of the piece. Mr. Gaines answers "Songs on the Deaths of Children" leading to much awkwardness and consternation by Rebecca, and laughs all around.

Recalling my original assertion:

I've seen every episode of Cheers multiple times .... and I do not recall "Die Kindertotenlieder" ever being referenced and certainly not playing a prominent part in any episode.
Oh, the hubris! The arrogance! Where were the editors?

I'm sure Tim is right, his detailed description rings some faint bells in my head about that episode and that funny exchange. In my defense, I didn't watch the Rebecca Howe years of Cheers reruns nearly as much as the Diane Chambers years. I guess this only proves that Tim had more time on his hands than even I did in the 90's to watch TV reruns. (What a loser!)

To restore the credibility of my TV watching expertise with the public, let me say that I am 100% convinced that The Brady Bunch never, ever, ever made reference to Mahler's "Die Kindertotenlieder".

UPDATE: Gaaah! This just in from Ernie in Hopkins:

I think your TV watching expertise is about as low as your IQ score. Regarding the Brady Bunch, you seem to be forgetting the episode "The Butcher, the Baker, the Babysitter Maker" originally airing on February 28, 1972.

Mike Brady won the Pritzker Prize for his innovative work on suburban ranch-style home designs, in particular his minimalist use of bathroom facilities for children (an impressive 6-to-1 ratio). Mike asked Carol to accompany him to Hawaii for the awards ceremony, in particular to make sure nothing happened to the cardboard tube containing his award winning designs. The care of the children was left to resident domestic Alice.

Within hours of Mike and Carol's departure, sons Peter and Bobby began playing ball in the house (despite their mom's repeated warning to avoid such behavior). An errantly thrown toss struck Alice directly in the face, causing a severe concussion and neck fracture and resulting in a lengthy hospital stay. From the emergency room, Alice called her part-time lover Sam the Butcher and asked him to watch the children.

Sam, a confirmed bachelor and curmudgeon always hated children and initially told her 'no'. But Alice's offer of her paycheck for the next two weeks and increased sexual favors whenever she could get out of her wheelchair persuaded him to give it a try. However, upon his arrival, it soon became apparent that the Brady kids' impish ways would grate on his already frazzled psyche.

The breaking point occurred when the kids attempted to raise money for Alice's physical therapy treatments by recording a song (entitled "Don't Let a Broken Neck Keep You from Enjoying a Sunshine Day"). Their cacophonous practice session in the garage caused Sam to burst out of the house and run at them with a meat cleaver, muderously shouting "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"

Cindy stopped him in his tracks by innocently asking "Gee mister, we're sorry. Would you prefer us to play a different song?" Whereupon Sam remarked "Have you ever heard of Mahler's 'Songs on the Deaths of Children'?"

And hilarity ensued.

Now that Ernie mentions it, I think I remember that episode. I beileve it was the Christmas special that year. Thanks for the update Ernie.

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