40-06-02 Teaching Cigar Smoking to Chinbunny

STARRING: ART VAN HARVEY, BERNADINE FLYNN AND BILL IDELSON 
RUSH: His idea is to whip out big, black cigars and smoke away like a steam engine and show everybody he's knocked around the world plenty and understands what's what. 
MIS' CROWE SAYS:
Mr. Chinbunny wants to learn to smoke cigars, and Vic is the man to teach him.

Even funnier than Mr. Chinbunny’s request in this episode is Rush’s colorfully-painted picture of the professional adult’s social life. I never knew that experienced cigar smoking was such a source of prestige. Rhymer makes it especially funny by contrasting Rush’s great admiration with the repulsiveness of his descriptions — smoking “a big black rope as thick as your arm,” blowing out clouds of black smoke like a furnace. There are few more awful smells than that of a room full of cigar smoke (sorry, cigar smokers), and the image of a bunch of dignified school administrators soaking in this revolting sort of sauna is grotesquely funny.

The inter-character dynamics in this episode are similar to those in “Rotten Davis Telephones" — with Chinbunny taking the role of Rotten Davis, which probably says a lot about his relationship with the students at his school. Rush is steadfastly supporting an older male whom he openly admires (side note: as an educator, I’m touched by how Rush is 100% behind his principal here). That older male obviously has a little bit of growing up left to do, which Vic and Sade can see and Rush can’t. They think the scheme is ridiculous. But they’re also amused to be along for the ride, and perhaps flattered to have been selected as role models by the young man. 

Another interesting little note in this is the beginning, where Sade disparagingly reads aloud from a Third Lieutenant Stanley novel:
VIC: Third Lieutenant Stanley is a baboon.
SADE: It’s Lady Margaret that makes me tired.
VIC: What’s she up to?
SADE: Oh, always blushin’ and waltzin’ around and hidin’ her face behind her fan and glancin’ coquettishly down at her fashionable French spats and…well, here. Ya never heard such junk. Uh, “The beautiful woman pinkened. She stooped over quickly and pretended to adjust her fashionable French spats. She didn’t want the handsome young officer to see her shinin’ eyes and quiverin’ lips.” […] [chuckling] Oh, golly, what silliness.
Rhymer is making a subtle point here by contrasting the representation of women in the popular media with the “real” women who are consuming the media. Lady Margaret was already an excellent satire of feminine stereotypes, but by having Sade express her disgust, specifically with the character of Lady Margaret, he goes a step further. He shows that these stereotypes exist, that they are perpetuated in entertainment (especially entertainment for the young), and that many women are not happy about them. In a way, he gives women a voice. Sade may not have had the feminist language to say “This stereotype is demeaning, and I hate that this is the image of women that is being fed to my son.” But still, her “Ohhh, ish” and her “Golly, what silliness” speak volumes. Her disgust with Lady Margaret is evidence of her pride in herself. You go, Sade.
SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
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To me, this is one of the most-delightful episodes in the Vic and Sade series. The ridiculous premise: the high school principal wants to learn how to smoke cigars in order to make himself look older and chooses Vic to teach him.

As far-fetched as the story may seem, recall that we've been told long beforehand that Mr. Chinbunny is a young principle whose job teeters precariously because of his age and his questionable activities. Writer Paul Rhymer's genius of putting these thoughts into our heads long before and then whipping out a wild tale later to back it up makes the unheard character seem absolutely real. It gives us a reassurance that we know Mr. Chinbunny.

Trivia:

+ Sade begins the episode reading to Vic from a nameless 3rd Lieutenant Stanley book lying around the house. Though she calls it, "trashy", she was reading it.  She seems to be addicted to various forms of trashy romance novels and juicy gossip.  (A psychologist might say that this seems to point to Vic's lack of prowess in the bedroom...)

+ Rush claims that Mr. Chinbunny shaves the top of his head, walks stiff and straight, wears a stern expression on his face and wears spectacles to look older.

+ Rush whips out two glorious imagined scenarios that might explain why Mr. Chinbunny wants to take up cigar-smoking (edited): (((HEAR)))

+ Ruthie Stembottom calls and talks to Vic and the couples make a date to play "500."  They'll be over as soon as Fred pumps up 2 of his tires.

+ Vic seems to jokingly worry that perhaps Mr. Chinbunny will make cigar-smoking a habit and he will be the cause of it all (edited): (((HEAR)))

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