If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Season 3, Episode 15: Say Hello to a Good Buy

Cliff's station wagon has finally kicked the can after 15 years of proud service to the family. When he goes to the dealership to buy a replacement, he tries to look "regular" and hide his wealth so that he can negotiate a better price on the car. At home, Vanessa and Denise worry about how to handle the fact that an unsupervised Rudy has cut pictures out of their father's expensive books for a school project.

Remember when this guy had a career? He probably actually sells cars now.

Davis Sarrette, the man selling Cliff his new vehicle, is played by Sinbad. Prior to this role, he was known mainly as a stand-up comedian, though he had appeared in six episodes of The Redd Foxx Show. His association with the Huxtable clan continued when he landed a regular role as Coach Walter Oakes on A Different World, and when Cosby aired in the late '90s, he had three guest appearances. His costume is built to make him seem slightly out of touch and cheesy, like a car salesman would be. Note the relatively thin tie, which had fallen out of vogue in favor of fatter neck wear by the time this was filmed. The cut of his jacket is about right for the fashions of the time, but the heavy use of earth tones with just a hint of pale blue suggests a vintage feeling as well. As a basis for comparison: this is something Russell would wear, not something Cliff would wear. He'd look more timely in bolder colors, like perhaps a navy blazer and red tie. I personally don't mind the subdued palette; my main concern is the breadth of the bottom of the jacket. But sizing is a standard complaint in this blog, so I should really stop bringing it up. After all, we've got five more seasons to get through, and I'm already repeating myself.


Cliff's cover is blown when a business associate, Mr. Babcock, dives in and blabs endlessly about the doctor and his successful lawyer wife. Before appearing on this show, Gilbert Gottfried had been a cast member of Saturday Night Live, though at the time he hadn't begun employing his squinty, obnoxious persona. I'm not sure when that particular characterization emerged, but it was in full force when he shot this brief guest appearance. He's not doing anything remarkable fashion-wise: overcoat, red patterned scarf, ornate tie. OK, I guess the tie's fussiness is technically worth remarking on, but only barely.

Never stressed, not impressed.

I feel like this outfit marks a turning point, because this might be the first time that Rudy has worn something that has a sense of maturity. I'm not talking about the times she dressed up like an old lady for comedic effect: this is the kind of outfit that could be replicated and plausibly put on one of her older sisters. I think the tight jeans are what push this into grown-up territory. It's not a bad getup overall.

Also never underdressed.

After Rudy cuts the encyclopedia up, she and her sisters decide to make a nice dinner for their father to lighten his mood. Inexplicably, all three of them change clothes as a part of this process. I guess they feel like Cliff responds better to nicer attire? Rudy's selection is a soft, pastel sweater/turtleneck combo that was probably chosen to highlight her youthful innocence. Could you yell at that face framed by that wool?

Let's get physical.

I'm not reviewing Vanessa's first outfit, I just wanted to post this screencap.

My frequent shamings have pushed her to drabness. I have regrets.

Her babysitting look gets scarce screen time, and the pants are mostly left up to the imagination. They're dark, which I suppose contrasts nicely with the pale shirt. But really, what is there to talk about here?

A prelude to "Women Laughing Alone with Salad."

To impress her father, Vanessa brings out her most brazen gem-toned duds. The emerald and sunset hues are so electric together that the DVD encoding can't properly depict them next to each other: the border between the garments has an odd shimmering effect that you can see if you zoom in on the image . She wears the DayQuil/NyQuil combo well, though. While the shoulder pads are of course unnecessary, I think the baggier top shirt is justified, or at least would be if the blouse were tailored properly. As before, her slacks are semi-theoretical. I should start treating all these unseen pieces like Schroedinger's cat: they are at once stylish and hideous until a good snapshot emerges. Note her accessories, too: she mirrors the oblong gold earrings with a similar brooch at her neck, bringing in some additional cohesion.

It's weirdly difficult to catch him not looking smug.

Theo repeats his episode #3.8 sweatshirt with his oft-seen gray pants. And this is before Cliff reveals his plan to look less wealthy.

She's apparently majoring in Cheekbones at school.

Denise is back for the day, but she wears a coat for her whole first scene. I thus can't report much about her initial presentation. That might be a scarf under there with the reddish print, but maybe it's something far less conventional. Then again, she's wearing a white t-shirt underneath, so it's probably just a scarf.

We've missed you.

She keeps the undershirt for the next outfit, but dresses it up considerably with this dusty jade coat that has lapels reaching all the way to the ends of her shoulders. The ends of her shoulders! And in case you hadn't caught that audacious flourish, she's adorned the edges with beads and hung a medallion on the left side. Oddly, the forcefulness of that embellishment works here, mainly because the rest of her clothing reads like a costume from a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. The balance of ultra-conservative styling with one attention-getting power play is whip-smart. I'm taking a stand in support of this outfit, but I suppose that's not a surprise given how often I'm enamored with her peppy ensembles.


Bold move, Dr. Huxtable. To make sure we get a good sense of contrast between his first outfit and eventual change of attire, he begins the day in some serious teal, revealing the full shirt that was hinted at in his final episode #3.12 outfit while overlapping two different (though complementary) plaid-ish patterns. He's done crazier things with his wardrobe, but this presentation is perfectly balanced in that it would believably be worn at home, and yet still communicates the level of wackiness that tends to emanate from him. I'm mildly impressed by the way the stripes on his shirt and cardigan interact with each other; their tonal similarities prevent them from competing as they otherwise surely would. The gray-green slacks are also fabulous because they're simultaneously neutral and unexpected. He manages not to come across as clownish despite his deviations from conventional reason.

Shoulda gone for the Skynyrd shirt, man.

Hoodie, baggy jeans, Elmer Fudd cap. This is his impersonation of a blue-collar dude, I guess.

We now return to our favorite recurring segment: HOW ARE THEY HIDING PHYLICIA'S (recent) PREGNANCY THIS WEEK?

"I made a human life. What did you do yesterday?"

I assume that Clair's two-week absence was written in so that Ms. Rashad could have some maternity leave. Her appearance in this episode is quite brief: she shows up only in the first few minutes lying in bed. Same old same old. No one ever talks about where she might be for the rest of the day, though I assume if she had been home then Rudy wouldn't have had the chance to take her scissors to Cliff's books. Mama Huxtable seems like one of those eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head moms.

This episode was a little skimpy in terms of fashion. Sorry about that, guys! Since there wasn't a ton of content, I'll skip the donation link for a week. Come back next Monday and give me a dollar then. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I remember this coat... I was (still I'm) a Denise fun - and of course loved the show - trying to mix her style with my own!
    Nice blog, keep on girl!