There are a couple of things in “Cooked Goose” that I found very interesting, neither of which is the main plot. There are no lost tribes or secret Nazi bases in this one; it’s a kidnapping story with a twist visible from space. The less said about it, the better.
But something elevates this episode into one of the best, and that’s Stephen Collins and Jeff Mackay having a knock-down screaming match about Mackay’s character’s drinking. Admittedly I’m not an expert in 1980s American TV because I avoided as much of it as possible at the time. However, other than Captain Furillo in Hill Street Blues, whose sobriety after years of drinking was such an important plot point that they once ended an episode with him in such despair that he went into a package store, knowing that would be a heartbreaking enough of a cliffhanger to kick the audience in the stomach, I can’t think of a show from the period that’s so unflinching about alcoholism as this. It’s also done incredibly well and incredibly fairly. It’s never played for laughs, and the show never preaches.
Admittedly the other characters are not the support system that Corky needs. They work under the idea that, unless Corky is working, one beer is okay, and maybe two on special occasions. What he needs are people to tell him none whatsoever, but I don’t think anybody has the heart or the sense to make him stop. I like that; these are flawed heroes. Just like they did not have any idea how to handle the situation in “Ape Boy”, I like that this series doesn’t present heroes with all the answers.
So what happens this time is that, the night before they need to fly out to Princess Koji’s island to look into a kidnapping that points to her, Corky’s working on stitching some vital engine part together. There’s an explosion, and Corky’s found unconscious and drunk and the plane’s on fire. He doesn’t remember anything – and since the twist of the kidnapping is visible from space, we know he didn’t pass out with work to be done – and the next morning, Jake is absolutely furious. There’s one rule: no drinking when he’s working. Corky is evasive and incredibly upset with himself. He can’t believe he would fall so far, but he can’t remember anything about the night either. And I really like how Jake is shown to be so believably human as to leap to the obvious conclusion and chew out his friend, letting his temper run wild. It’s a tough, tough scene to watch, but the actors played it beautifully.
It takes days for the friends to make up, and it made for a good opportunity to talk with our son about how to handle disagreements with his own friends. You can’t take actions or words back, and sometimes they hurt. I also added that you shouldn’t drink as much as Corky; the main point is that you shouldn’t throw your friends under the bus like this. It’s a Hollywood family show in the eighties, so of course things work out in the end. The outcome isn’t really in doubt, but the acting’s so good, I did wonder just for a second.
The other thing I found interesting deals with Koji, but this post is running long so I’ll try to come back to it next time she shows up. Until then.