3.14 Burning Down the House





Original Air Date: February 3, 1992 Production number: 77516
Written by:
Robin GreenDirected by: Rob Thompson

Chris at the Fling

From Agent Pat's excellent (and now retired) John Corbett fan site.

Chris: I've been here now for some days, groping my way along, trying to realize my vision here. I started concentrating so hard on my vision that I lost sight. I've come to find out that it's not the vision, it's not the vision at all. It's the groping. It's the groping, it's the yearning, it's the moving forward. I was so fixated on that flying cow that when Ed told me Monty Python already painted that picture, I thought I was through. I had to let go of that cow so I could see all the other possibilities. Anyway, I want to thank Maurice for helping me to let go of that cow. Thank you Maurice for playing Apollo to my Dionysus in art's Cartesian dialectic. And thanks to you, Ed, cause the truth shall set us free! And Maggie, thank you for sharing in the destruction of your house so that today we could have something to fling. I think Kierkegaard said it oh so well, 'The self is only that which it's in the process of becoming.' Art? Same thing. James Joyce had something to say about it too. 'Welcome, Oh Life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience, and to forge in the smythe of my soul the uncreated conscious of my race.' We're here today to fling something that bubbled up from the collective unconsciousness of our community. Ed, you about ready? The thing I learned folks, this is absolutely key: It's not the thing you fling. It's the fling itself. Let's fling something, Cicely!

Watch the scene.

Log line (1): Maggie receives a double dose of disaster when her mother accidentally burns down her house after announcing she is divorcing Maggie's father. Meanwhile, Chris searches for the "right" cow as part of his new piece of performance art.
Synopsis (1):

Maggie's mother (guest star Bibi Besch) comes for a visit and announces that she and Maggie's father are divorcing after thirty-two years of marriage. Maggie is upset at the news and rushes out of her house, leaving her mother behind. However, while she is in town, her mother manages to set Maggie's house on fire, razing the structure and burning all of Maggie's possessions: her clothes, her furniture, and worst of all, her dioramas of her lost loves. Now both O'Connell women stand on the brink of rebuilding their futures.

Chris constructs a catapult by which he intends to hurl a cow through the air, thereby creating a perfect moment in performance art. The difficulty is finding the "right" cow. Joel expresses his displeasure at the animal cruelty associated with such an act, but Chris is determined in his quest. But when he finally finds the "right" cow, Ed tells him that Monty Python already catapulted a cow in their "Holy Grail" film. Not to be distracted from his pursuit of the perfect moment, Chris opts to hurl Maggie's scorched upright piano instead.

Meanwhile, Joel thinks he knows the local chimney sweep named Bob (guest star John M. Jackson), but he can't recall from where. Then he remembers: Bob is Larry Coe, one of Joel's golf idols who flubbed a perfect putt on the final hole of the Augusta National, and who had moved to Cicely to escape the shame of his links gaffe.

(Production Bible):

Jane 58 in diag. Jane and Frank married 32 years; Jane told Aunt Barbara, Rev. Holyoke, Price Adams (her haircutter) and Maggie's brother (still nameless) that she and Frank filed for divorce: haven't slept together in 6 1/2 years, with the exception of the GM testimonial: Frank was wooden and methodical. When Maggie was two, they lived on Overhill Road. Larry Coe from Florida; as Bob, he's been cleaning chimneys around Cicely for 5-6 years. Larry was up against Kevin Quass at the Masters; his junior win was in '78. Maurice shot an 83 against Aldrin and still lost. Joel did an ENT rotation at Mount Sinai.

Facts to Wax
(Production Bible):
Maggie's house was located at the south corner of Katunie & Washington (still 28 years old) [See Maggie's House in Roslyn, WA - actually on the corner of Washington and 2nd]. The Jane O'Connell regime: 66 laps a day; hot lemon water, half a dry English muffin with "marmy" every morning. Joel told his friend Bernie and cousin Mickey in NYC about Larry. Chris says repetition is the death of art (just ask Andy Warhol). It's not the vision, it's the groping, the yearning, the pushing forth. The flinged piano is Maggie's burnt Mason & Hamlin upright. Jane's on her way to Bordeaux for a Butterfield & Robinson bicycle tour following the Dordogne River to Breve.
Guest stars (9): Jane O'Connell - Bibi Besch
Larry Coe (Bob) - John M. Jackson
Gary - Gary Taylor
Townsperson - Haynes Brooke

(Note music listed is from the original TV airings. The DVD may differ.)

The Prisoner's Song - Vernon Dalhart
[Maggie buys suplies for her mom at Ruth-Anne's store.](8)

Whispering - Paul Whiteman
[Chris and Shelly talk about catapults.](8)

Fell in Love -Tim O'Brien
[Jane tells Maggie she and the Mr. are divorcing.](8)

Roses and Midnight
[Joel picks up his Golf Digest and realizes who Bob, the chimney sweep really is.](8)

Sweetest Things - Carlene Carter
[Maggie and Holling talk about happiness.](8)

A Little Unfair - Brenda Lee

Where Would That Leave Me?
[Holling, Shelly, Maurice, and Joel talk in the Brick.](8)

The Blue Danube (J. Strauss)
[The piano is flung!](8)

Shelly’s Earrings:

Cows [Talks to Chris about art; helps Maggie settle on the pool table.]
Blue vinyl records [At the Fling.]

Ed's Movie References: Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)
[Several references to the cow-flinging scene.] (Thanks John!) 

Additional Notes:

Why does Maggie have to sleep on the pool table when we know Shelly and Holling have a guest room upstairs?? (see 4.7 The Bad Seed)

Trebuchet as built for Northern Exposure


Previous EpisodeFootnotes and additional researchNext Episode

© Copyright, 2010 • Northern Exposure is Copyright Universal City Studios. All Rights Reserved. • Created 1/20/02 • Updated 3/13/10