1.1 “In the Beginning”

“Rooms, rooms, rooms, rooms. Ah! Here we go. That’ll be a farthing.” — Dick

Dick and Joanna buy the colonial-era Stratford Inn.

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10/25/82
WRITER: Barry Kemp
DIRECTOR: John Rich
GUEST STARS: Jack Dodson (Mr. Shaver; realtor), Natalie Core (Mrs. Hamilton; member of the DWI), Merritt Olsen and Beth Le Grant (Mr. and Mrs. Pomerantz; the inn’s first guests)

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SUMMARY
MAIN PLOT: The episode opens with a realtor showing Dick and Joanna Loudon around the musty, boarded-up Stratford Inn, which they are thinking about buying. While Joanna has some reservations (about leaving New York City, as well as about the many repairs the inn will need), they finally agree to close the deal. They also meet George Utley, the absent-minded caretaker, for the first time.

Dick and Joanna spend the next few days fixing the inn up and receiving their first guests. Dick hires Leslie Vanderkellen (a Dartmouth graduate student) to be the inn’s maid. Even though Leslie is an heiress, she says she wants to take the job so she can find out what it’s like to be “average.” Dick and Joanna also meet Kirk Devane, owner of the neighboring Minuteman Cafe. Kirk is a shallow and self-serving habiutal liar, and he quickly forms an obsessive crush on Leslie.

An unexpected problem pops up in the form of the Daughters of the War for Independence: they contact Joanna in the hopes of holding their meeting at the Stratford, where some of their female ancestors stayed during the Revolutionary War. They also want Dick to give a speech on what he’s discovered about their ancestors’ time at the inn. Unfortunately, during his research Dick finds out that in the 1700s, the Stratford wasn’t an inn…but a brothel.

At the DWI meeting, Dick begins his speech and first attempts to skip over the Stratford’s role in the war. When the women object, he is forced to admit the truth about the Stratford’s past–but manages to spin it in such a way that it sounds like the women’s female ancestors were contributing to the war effort by boosting the men’s morale. The DWI members are cheered up and Dick’s speech is a rousing success.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE: There isn’t really a side-plot in this episode. All of the action has to do with establishing the characters and setting.

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GALLERY

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QUOTES
[The realtor tries to convince Dick and Joanna to buy the inn]
REALTOR: They say James Madison once stayed here!
DICK: Really? See, Joanna? That’s great. I mean, just being in a place like this, we’re gonna know things about James Madison that we, you know, we’d never know from any book.
JOANNA: Like what?
DICK: Well, for one thing, he didn’t care where he slept.

DICK: Joanna, we don’t have to buy an inn. We’ll just forget the whole thing. We’ll say we came up for the drive, took in a little scenery, smelled a little fresh air….
JOANNA: What about our deposit?
DICK: — ate a $2,000 lunch.

[George finds out that Dick and Joanna are buying the inn]
GEORGE: Shoot, I bet I’m out of work, then.
DICK: Well, not necessarily. We’ll still need a caretaker.
GEORGE: Yeah, but no raise, I bet.
DICK: No.

DICK: George, before you go, do you mind my asking what you’re working on?
GEORGE: You know that little doohickey inside a furnace, by the door, under the screen? I’m working on the thing next to that.

DICK: Look, Joanna, there are a million reasons not to buy this place. That’s why most people don’t. And maybe that’s the one reason we should. I mean, we are standing on the threshold of one of the great adventures of our lives and we have that rare opportunity to pursue the American dream, and all we have to do is just have the courage to say, “Let’s go for it.”
JOANNA: That’s stirring. Where have I heard it?
DICK: It’s from the prologue I wrote to Building Your Own Patio Cover.

DICK: You know, this really isn’t fair. I mean, I’m on a treasure hunt, and you’re down on your hands and knees trying to get the char off the fireplace.
JOANNA: You wanna switch?
DICK: No, I just wanted to let you know I was aware of it.

DICK: Rooms, rooms, rooms, rooms. Ah! Here we go. That’ll be a farthing.

KIRK: I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that door made me look like an ass. Well, I’m glad it happened and I’ll tell you why. Because now you know I’m not just some slick-talking guy off the street. How you doing? Kirk Devane.

DICK: Dick Loudon and this is my wife, Joanna.
KIRK: Happy to meet you. Happy? Thrilled!

KIRK: Listen, if we’re gonna be neighbors and maybe even friends, there’s something you have to know about me right upfront.
DICK: And what’s that?
KIRK: I’m an habitual liar. Actually, that’s not true. What I mean is, it’s something I’m aware of and working to correct. I only bring it up because admitting it is part of my therapy.
DICK: Well, thanks. Thanks for being so honest.
KIRK: Actually, I’m not in therapy. I lied about that. But everything else I said was true, or probably as close to it as I’ll ever get.

KIRK: So, Dick, they tell me you’re a writer. That’s more than fascinating.

KIRK: Oh, by the way, did I mention your guests get a 10% discount at my place?
DICK: No, you didn’t.
KIRK: Good.

JOANNA: (about Kirk) I bet after you get to know him he grows on you.
DICK: I’ll take that bet.

DICK: Leslie, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you interested in being a maid?
LESLIE: Well, to be honest with you, Mr. Loudon, I’d just like to get out and experience the real world. You see, all my life, I have had everything given to me, money, cars, clothes, schooling. I want to find out what it’s like to be average.
DICK: It’s fun.

KIRK: Hi Dick. I just brought over some things from the store that I’ve been looting from this place over the years. Nothing of any real value.
DICK: (looking at an object) This looks kind of interesting.
KIRK: Yeah? (he takes it from Dick) Well, the rest of the stuff is junk.

KIRK: (to Leslie) Hi. I don’t believe we’ve had the utter thrill of meeting.

KIRK: Leslie, what are you studying?
LESLIE: European History and Renaissance Theology.
KIRK: Say hello to fate, that’s what my degrees are in!

[Dick reads Joanna a letter from one of the soldiers who stayed at the inn during the war]
DICK: “Dearest Annabelle, I could not march on to Concord without expressing to you my deepest gratitude for the kindness you showed me, and, in fact, the entire platoon, upon our recent visit to the Stratford Inn. My sincerest regards to all your fine young ladies who understand the rigors of battle and the tender affections which soothe a soldier’s heart.” Then he goes into more bawdy prose.

JOANNA: How in the world are you gonna tell a Daughter of the War for Independence that her great-great-great-grandmother may have been —
DICK: A fun date?

[Dick addresses the Daughters of the War for Independence]
DICK: Ladies, according to my information, in the winter of 1775, when all your ancestors were staying here, the Stratford was not so much an inn as it was a house of… Let me put it this way, there’s every reason to believe you may not be so much Daughters of the War for Independence, as you are daughters of a three-day pass.

DICK: (to the DWI members) Really, it’s not as bad as you think. If you could read some of the letters I read, uh, this place meant a lot to our fighting men. It inspired them to re-dedicate themselves to the war effort…sometimes after only a few hours.

JOANNA: (to Dick) I don’t know what you said, but it certainly turned the trick!

—–

TRIVIA
* We get quite a bit of Stratford history in this episode (aside from the Stratford’s past as Revolutionary War era brothel):
– the inn was built in 1774 by Nathan Potter, who named it after Stratford, England, because it resembled his family’s home there
– Nathan died two months after the inn was completed and his family relocated to Boston
– the realtor informs Dick that James Madison once stayed at the inn
– the name of a “John Hancock” (THE John Hancock?) appears in the guestbook
– in the 1700s the going rate for a room was a farthing.

* The MTM kitten meows “normally” after the end credits. In all future episodes (with the exception of the Season 8 finale), Bob Newhart’s own version of “Meow” is dubbed over the cat’s.

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HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE EPISODE?

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