Synopsis: In what is probably the most far-fetched episode so far, Sunshine Cadet troop leader Rose writes a concerned letter about nuclear war to President Reagan and Soviet Union President Gorbachev and Gorbachev writes back! Meanwhile, Sophia is working on an act for a local talent show.
Rose: “This is amazing, this is so amazing. To think I'm giving a press conference and next week we all go to Moscow. Can you believe it, Dorothy?”
Dorothy: “No, but then again I can’t believe that God wanted Jerry Falwell to go down that water slide in a cheap suit.”
Just how many 'highest honors' does St. Olaf have exactly? So far there's Butter Queen and Large Curd Cottage Cheese Queen. And next season we'll add “Woman of the Year” to the list.
Also, while I know Blanche always claims to be younger than she really is, she claims to be in her child bearing years and yet there was an entire Season 2 episode about her going through menopause.
Let’s Get Political
The entire episode is political, but this line is one of my favorites:
Sophia, addressing the Soviet people: “I just flew in from Miami and boy I gotta tell you, your Moscow is one clean town. No litter on the streets and all the bugs are in the American embassy.”
That’s What She Said
Blanche: “Talent show? Can I be in it?”
Sophia: “Blanche, what you’re talented at isn’t generally done on a stage. This isn’t downtown Saigon.”
Back in St. Olaf
Rose discusses her biggest worries as a child, one of which was whether she’d ever be chosen Small Curd Cottage Cheese Queen, her town’s biggest honor, right after Large Curd Cottage Cheese Queen.
Also, later, Rose debates telling the press the story of when her Uncle Gustav got drunk and tried to milk a porcupine.
Blanche: “Oh my god, they’re back!”
Sophia, to her “Sophia” sock puppet: “Tough break, Sophia, one minute you’re about to entertain the masses, the next your back on a foot covering a corn pad. Now you know how Valarie Harper feels.”
Sophia: “Thanks for the Medicare/For BlueCross and BlueShield/For a hip that finally healed
Remember on prescriptions/Generics is a steal/We thank you/So much”
Alexi, after Blanche spits her drink in his face: “Is Coca-Cola no? No need to apologize, in Moscow I stand in line six hours for half as much.”
Blanche: “I am still in my child bearing years.”
Dorothy: “Sure Blanche, you and Imogene Coca.”
Rose: “What does this picture look like to you?”
Blanche: “Me, sitting on a throne dressed as Cleopatra watching while two naked men wrestle to see to gets to make love to me.”
Best of B.E.D.
Blanche: “Dorothy, I've been talking to that good-looking reporter over there. He just got back from Russia. He told me a couple of very interesting things. It snows there in the summertime and they don't have very many attractive women. Do you realize what that means? When we go to Russia, I will have my pick of any man in the country and you can make a snowman in June.”
The Boob Tube
Sunshine Cadet: “Threaten me again and I'll own your house!”
Dorothy: “Your father's a doctor, your mother's a lawyer. What are you, one of the Cosby kids?”
Blanche: “We certainly can’t tell those Russians the truth… Because they’ll use it as a propaganda ploy to convince the whole world that all Americans are as dumb as Rose. Why that would rock the very foundation of our government, undermine our great leaders, and potentially topple our entire democracy!!”
Dorothy: “Rocky IV had a profound effect on you didn’t it, Blanche?”
Rose: “Come on now, you all know you use BOTH fingers for the Sunshine Salute!”
and of course
Sophia, after singing: “Ok what do you think, now don't hold back I can take the criticism.”
Sophia: “Go to hell! All of you!”
Critique: I guess it's good that Rose got over her fear of talking in front of large crowds huh? “Letter to Gorbachev” always felt like such a dated episode with all its talk about Russia and nuclear war, and yet it feels almost disturbingly relevant today. Had the episode come out today I'm sure Rose would be writing to Putin or possibly even Kim Jong-un. Though what it comes down to is that this is one of the more ridiculous early episodes. The plot is completely ridiculous, but the actresses really sell it; the reveal of why Gorbachev wanted to contact Rose is great and somewhat makes sense in the end. The letter that Rose writes to Gorbachev is rather touching. There are some good quotes here (“Gorbachev really respects your views on world peace. Boy you know when you say it out loud it really sorta lays there”), some of which are as dated as a plotline involving the 80s Cold War era with dated references to Bubbles the Chimp and Valerie Harper. Blanche even does a spit take. Rose’s dream sequence is a tiny highlight, but yet again Sophia is relegated to an underwhelming B storyline that does eventually tie into the main story in a clever but silly way though in the end still feels sort of pointless. B+