Premiere Watch: Swingtown

Mollieparker_jackdavenport_swingtow Swingtown is a period drama set in 1976. Several things happened that year, not the least of which was the bicentennial of our country and my own birthday (send gifts). The show posits that it was also when the sexual revolution finally made its way out to the suburbs, thus officially jumping the shark. It's a bold attempt at an edgy hour long drama that doesn't include hospitals, crime investigations, lawyers or a show lifted from Showtime. How'd they do?

After the first 5 minutes, in which CBS flashed a 1970's network ID, we saw a simulated blow job turn out to actually be someone cleaning "coffee stains" (really, what woman grunts when wiping up a spill?), a stewardess go home with a pilot (Tom) to get frisky with his wife (Trina), and said wife pop open a can of TAB after said friskiness? I might be in love just based on the fashions and product designs, each which make me squeal in delight at their tackiness. And the wife might be in love too - with their new neighbors.

Bruce and Susan are movin' on up to a lakeside mansion with their kids Laurie and B.J.  Also in the neighborhood are Samantha and her mother Gail, who spends the first part of the episode covering her windows with tinfoil as her daughter looks on worriedly. Also worried is Tom, who tells Trina that he thinks the new neighbors will be a "hard sell" at their upcoming party. *Cue the disco music!

Most of the episode deals with Bruce and Susan moving and the awkwardness of their former neighbors being a bit clingy. You would think they were the ones all involved in a relationship together, but while Roger might be up for it, Janet is ten shades of uptight. Equally awkward in the more adolescent sense is the crush Bruce and Susan's daughter Laurie has on her AP philosophy teacher, and Roger finding B.J. and Rick with a Penthouse magazine. Oh yes, this is the 70's folks. And it's full of 8 tracks, The Omen, and Anais Nin.

However, the episode only really picks up when Trina and Tom's party is in full swing (I couldn't resist) and Susan and Bruce show up with the unexpected company of Roger and Janet. Trina offers the ladies a tour but Janet won't do anything without her husband, so Susan is the only one who gets a Quaalude. She also gets to meet Gail, who's conversational skills are apparently limited to repeating "Do you have any coke?" Which Trina uses to her advantage, by suggesting Gail would be happier if her and her husband would just open up their marriage. Trina's a smooth operator.

Tom brings up the same topic to Roger and Bruce, in a less suave fashion, mentioning the basement is a*wink,wink, nudge,nudge* "playroom".  Meanwhile Janet is looking everywhere for Susan. Unfortunately, she runs into Trina first, who smiles wickedly and tells her she saw Susan heading towards the basement. *Cue Janet's looks of uptight horror and revulsion! She finds her friends, tells Susan her new neighbors are sick and they are leaving. But Susan is flying high and Bruce is enjoying the ride, so they decide to stay. *Cue Janet's looks of uptight horror and revulsion!

As such, to the strains of Dream Weaver, we get to see Trina and Tom put the moves on Janet and Bruce. Of course, it's CBS, so other then some multiple hand holding and sultry looks under feathered hair, we don't see much. But how much payoff can you expect? At least we saw lots of polyester and the Hustle.

Other moments of joy:

  • Rick (Janet and Roger's son) getting his ass kicked by the girl he was spreading rumors about.
  • "Take your shoes off, mom, and come join the party" - man in the basement to Janet.
  • Laurie telling her boyfriend Logan that he's an idiot. Logan telling Laurie that he's smart enough to get into her pants every night. Ah, young love.
  • Janet compulsively scrubbing the oven.

Will the show survive? It's hard to say. There's a curious note they have to hit, and I am not sure network TV is the place they can hit it. But for now, I'm in for the pop-culture references alone. What did you guys think? Are high waisted poly blend pants about to make a come back or is it time to put away clogs?