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The Pilot


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Drama, USA, 2008

Synopsis "Swingtown" - Pilot - June 5, 2008We open on an airline pilot with a sweet porn 'stache telling his passengers to stub out their cigarettes and get ready for landing as we see a female head below his chest working vigorously on something while emitting murmurs of exertion. Turns out she's just wiping up a coffee spill, which we see on the pilot's shirt. ("Spirit in the Sky" is playing in the background).The pilot gets up to spy a pretty blond in first class, still smoking. (In both senses, ba-dum-bump!) A title card informs us that this flight is taking place on July 2, 1976. A teary stewardess -in the parlance of the day- is berating herself for spilling the joe. He reassuringly places his hand, complete with wedding ring, on hers. She worries that his wife will be mad over his ruined shirt. He avers that his wife is actually going to love her. (And by love, he means sex her up Color Me Badd-style).Cut to various articles of airline work outfits strewn on a bedroom floor and, again, the sounds of a woman exerting herself. This time it's no bait-and-switch as we discover stewardess Tammy, the pilot and his wife enjoying a little triad to the strains of Rita Coolidge singing "Higher and Higher." The thirsty wife goes off to enjoy a nice, refreshing, and sugar-free! TaB.In her living room she affectionately gazes at a photo of herself and her husband- still working it out with Tammy in the bedroom- when she hears noises outside.She spies, with a predatory smile, a couple moving into the house across the street. When handed the keys the husband dives into his wife's mouth to the discomfort of the real estate agent who wishes, aloud, that his wife was still that enthusiastic. He then invites himself to their housewarming party. (Ooh, "housewarming," naughty.)The pilot emerges to inform his wife that he's taking Tammy home and wants to know what's so interesting outside the window. She points out the new neighbors. They observe that they look happy.Standing on their new stoop in the rain the new neighbors- whom we'll eventually learn are named Bruce and Susan Miller- opine that his new job and their new house are going to change everything. Bruce thinks it will be only for the better. They make out by the car as the pilot's wife, whom we'll soon learn is named Trina Decker and her hubby is Tom, watches approvingly.There aren't any opening credits sequence/theme music just a circular neon logo that reads "Swingtown."At the grocery store a housewife friend of Susan's is griping about the price of meat (88 cents a pound!) she's buying for the neighborhood block party. Susan offers to switch their block party assigned items and her friend snipes that they may not be able to afford a mansion off the lake like Susan and Bruce but she and her husband Roger can at least spring for the beef. Susan asks the butcher if he's got any extra cardboard boxes in the back she could use for her move. Which her friend, whom we will learn is named Janet Thompson, informs him is to a mansion. Susan sweetly counters that yes, from now on her butler will be doing the grocery shopping. In 30 seconds I've already decided that I like Susan. Janet and her petty passive-aggressive ways? Not so much.Janet tells Susan that she's going to miss her. Susan says she won't since she's only moving a few blocks. Two teenage boys come around the corner, one pushing, one riding, a shopping cart. Janet tells Ricky, her son, to get off and to forget about the moon pies he puts in their cart. Susan tells the other boy, her son B.J. (seriously), that he needs to get to packing at home.Janet wonders if it's only a few blocks why Susan has to move at all. Susan observes that change is good and that she is ready for the next thing. (By the way, they're both wearing period appropriate, which is to say horrid, print dresses). Janet says she's happy with the way things are and had no idea Susan was so unsatisfied. Susan gives a look that implies "I'm not unsatisfied you snippy priss maybe I'm just interested in more than the status quo." Or maybe that's just me.We see a teenage girl grab some canned goods from her garage, toss them in her backpack and grab her bike to head off into the rain when we hear a female voice yelling "Samantha, where are you?" She ignores the voice, fingering a ring hung on a chain around her neck, and rides off. As she passes a window, an Edie Britt-looking woman in a black negligee and sunglasses tells the girl that she needs her to run to the store because they are out of tinfoil. The girl looks bummed. (We'll soon know why this benign request makes her so forlorn. And it's not because Samantha prefers Saran Wrap).We see a blackboard with an essay question asking students to discuss Kierkegaard's philosophy on freedom and despair in relation to our country's 200th birthday as a teacher informs them they have just a few more minutes to answer. Since some kids are going out of town on the fourth of July Teach says he's going to hold off on discussing the essays until the following week and tells the summer school kids to celebrate their freedom wisely.One girl, Laurie, finishes her paper early, hands it to the teacher and lets him know she's not going anywhere for the holiday, except that she's moving- ah, Bruce and Susan's daughter- so she guesses she is going somewhere but not really anywhere. Someone's got a crush on Teach, Mr. Stevens, who is saved from all this awkward, adolescent-crushing by the bell.Laurie heads out of school and is met by her boyfriend Logan, who drives up in a cool old (new?) Bronco, playing David Bowie's "Golden Years" on the radio. He's very Wooderson with his delivery. They kiss and she observes that he's high. Indeed, he offers her a toke. She takes it.Back at the Decker house Trina is enjoying a cigarette and watching Tony Randall give clues on the "$25,000 Pyramid." Tom arrives complaining that Tammy lived with her parents way out in Schaumburg. (The show is set near Chicago). Trina, though slightly fuzzy on her name, observes that Tammy met Tom's needs well. Tom, detecting a note of jealousy, tells Trina she's the only stewardess for him. She asks to keep the third parties in their age bracket for awhile. He agrees. They make out.Susan is in her bedroom appraising her wedding photo when Bruce walks in hoping the kids aren't around so they can swing by the new house and have it all to themselves. Susan asks if she seems unsatisfied to him. He doesn't understand, pointing out that they have everything they ever wanted. He reproposes the concept of investigating the new house alone together. (For people moving the next day, they don't appear to have much packed up yet).Teen Samantha is walking the halls of her house returned from her mission to get tinfoil. She's got about six boxes in her bag and lets her mom know she's back. Mom says to leave the foil outside her door and tells Samantha to stop breaking into the house next door since the new family moves in the next day.Ricky and B.J. are in Ricky's room poring over a cache of Penthouse magazines they found in B.J.s basement. If Bruce notices them gone, the boys figure he'll think the movers took them. They discuss the merits of a certain girl named Betsy Burtis in their class whom Ricky boasts he almost went all the way with. Ricky's dad, Janet's husband, Roger arrives and wants to know why the door is locked. Dad's just looking for a friendly hello and Janet arrives to let them know that it's her famous sloppy joe's for dinner. On his way out Roger notices a Penthouse peeking out from under Ricky's bed and gives a disapproving look as he grabs it, asks where he got it, then informs him to not get caught by his mother as he hands it back boys-will-be-boys-style.Over at Samantha's house mommy dearest is covering the windows with tinfoil, as Samantha watches, "American Beauty"-like from a window of the soon-to-be Miller house, which she has apparently broken into again despite Tinfoil Terry's objections. As she backs away from the window fingering that necklace ring again, she hears Bruce and Susan arriving for the first "housewarming" party ...of two.Bruce carries Susan across the threshold and immediately begins making out with her. (These two have teenage kids right? Wow, that's one long-lasting spark.) She protests she's a mess and that they should get away from the windows. Bruce is undeterred offering up the whole house as he unbuttons his shirt and Samantha looks on from upstairs. He chases Susan around and up the stairs, dropping his pants and preparing to maul his wife. She wants a minute to catch her breath. He wonders what the resistance is about. She points out that it's easy for him to be "ready" but not always easy for him to stay "ready" once she's "ready." Ouch. She tries to apologize, he deflates. They're about to discuss it when the doorbell rings.It's Tom and Trina in matching running outfits with a bottle of what looks like Dom Perignon in hand ready to continue warming the house. They introduce themselves. They hand over Dom and Susan apologizes that they have no glasses. Tom and Trina say to bring it to their bicentennial party the following evening instead where they can light some fireworks and make some new friends. (It's like every other line of dialogue on this show is winky double entendre). Susan tries to beg off and Bruce is already all in. Trina advises getting a sitter.The next day Trina is doing a lap in the pool and surfaces to find Tom asking if she needs anything from the store, as he's going to get the booze for the party. She wants some aspirin and a pack of 100s. They discuss the new neighbors and whether they're "interested" in Bruce and Susan. Trina doesn't know yet and Tom thinks that, while nice, they seem a little straight and narrow. Trina likes a challenge.Over in the old neighborhood Ricky and B.J. are lighting firecrackers in the middle of the block party and Janet, unsurprisingly, admonishes them to stop before someone loses a finger. In a now empty Miller house, Logan calls for Laurie. Susan sweetly and obviously tries to eavesdrop but Laurie tells Logan she can't talk. Susan asks what Laurie thinks she can't say in front of her. Laurie replies, "mom can you just not please?" Susan wants to know if it's serious. Laurie points out Logan is an idiot and that they can barely converse. Susan isn't worried about social intercourse. Laurie says that since the times are a-changing she can have sex whenever she wants. Susan would like to know if that time is now. Laurie says she knows that Susan is worried because Laurie is the same age Susan was when Bruce "knocked her up" but she assures her that she's much smarter than her mother. They have a nice moment. Bruce comes in and asks if anyone has any parting words for the old house. Susan is about to speak when he concludes no one does and says it's time to hit the road. Susan heads off to have a moment to herself in her old house, clearly the symbol of her old self.Out in the car Bruce rummages for an eight-track and pops in Chicago and "Saturday in the Park" comes on. Laurie wonders if he's trying to be ironic. (Which seems like a very un-'70s thing to say). He says he just likes the song and that irony is her department.Bruce says goodbye to Roger and Janet offers Susan a scrapbook with pictures, pressed flowers, and some recipes. Susan is touched. They cry.As the Millers back out in their convertible - with no one wearing seatbelts- Susan and Roger share a look in the passenger side mirror- sweet neighborliness from Susan, wistfulness from Roger- and B.J. waves goodbye to Ricky.Over at the new house B.J. opens his closet to discover Samantha's stash of canned goods, sleeping bag, and ring necklace, which Samantha is now frantically searching for in the grass outside his window. B.J. spots her but when she looks up he pulls into his room.Over at the Thompson's Janet is singing along to "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain and Tennille and spooning that expensive meat onto a platter when the phone rings. It's Susan who, while fingering a photo of their families in the scrapbook, wants to know if Janet won the blue ribbon for her apple pie at the block party. "Four years in a row," chirps Janet who wonders how it's going in Richie Rich-land. Susan makes the mistake of saying they need more stuff since the house is so big. But she doesn't mean it like that.Bruce enters with Dom P and pours it for the pair and asks if old Janet has "slit her wrists yet." While Janet is a handful Susan agrees, she also points out that she's wicked loyal. Bruce amends that to clingy. Bruce wants to toast their good fortune. He then says he thinks they should go to the neighbors' party and start things off right. Susan says they can't leave B.J. home alone and he promptly sticks his head asking if he can go to the movies with Ricky.At the public beach Laurie runs into Mr. Stevens and is flustered seeing him out of context. He warns her that he also goes to the supermarket and the occasional Dylan concert. They discuss her essay, Kierkegaard, and Anais Nin, the upshot of which is she didn't follow the assignment because she didn't write about herself. Laurie points out, no doubt correctly, that Nin's experiences are more interesting than hers. Logan drives up, and Teach tells her to have a happy independence day as she walks off.Bruce and Susan are about to leave for the party when Roger and Janet show up with the extra brats and burgers from the block party. Bruce notes what an awesome housewarming gift leftovers is. They invite them to the party with the new neighbors.Party time! The foursome are greeted by Tom (and his sweet porn 'stache) who invites them in to the swinging shindig where people are disco dancing by the pool in various horrific '70s fashions.Some dude rolling a joint is telling Trina how lucky Tom is when she spies the group arrival. Trina asks how they're settling in and Susan repeats how they don't have enough furniture. Bruce says maybe Trina can offer Susan some decorating tips. She says "sure... hire a decorator." Tom offers up a Harvey Wallbanger- that's a drink for you younger folks- and the men go off to get the booze while Susan introduces Janet to Trina. Trina offers a house tour, Janet elects to wait for her hubby and her glass of Chablis.Out on the beach Laurie is crabbing to Logan that warm beer, bottle rockets, and getting eaten alive by bugs are not her scene. He essentially calls her snooty and can't distinguish between english and philosophy. She calls him an idiot who doesn't know anything about her. He points out that he's smart enough to get into her pants every night. Her sad face says "touché, dumbass" and then she jumps in the ocean as "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac plays.Back at the party Trina shows Susan into a room wear Aluminum Annie is sitting with a razor blade immediately asking "do you have any coke?" Trina says never when she hosts but that some handsy dude named Bob has some. She introduces Susan and the woman immediately asks if she has any coke. As she leaves, Trina calls her miserable but harmless and thinks that if she "opened up" her marriage she'd be happier. Susan is all, "um, what the.. opened up?" And asks if Tom and Trina have an open marriage. Trina says yes and that she assumed the same about Bruce and Susan. Susan says Bruce would go "ape" if she cheated. Trina says swinging is the opposite of cheating. Susan is, understandably, confused by how sleeping with other people, even if it's together isn't technically cheating. All Trina knows is that she's reached a new level of intimacy with Tom since "opening up" and offers Susan a Quaalude. Susan admits she's never had one of those either since she and Bruce married right out of high school and missed the whole Woodstock/free-love/counterculture thing. Trina asks her to think about the swinging and insists she takes a 'lude to take the edge off. Susan takes the 'lude.On their way back from seeing "The Omen," Ricky and B.J. talk about demonic possession. But before they can parse the finer points a girl, presumably Betsy Burtis, comes and opens up a can of whup-ass on Ricky for telling people he slept with her. She really beats him down in front of a whole bunch of people. Wow, emasculating. B.J. offers to go get help but Ricky tells him to leave him alone...writhing in pain and bleeding on the sidewalk.Meanwhile back in swingtown Janet is looking for Susan and the guys are chatting when one dude says he's headed for the basement. When Bruce asks Tom what's in the basement Tom replies "playroom" and then asks for help with the fireworks. Susan happens upon Roger who deems her new neighbors "something" as they watch the fireworks. Janet asks Trina where Susan is and Trina impishly tells her she saw her headed for the basement.Bruce hooks up with Susan and she admits she took a Quaalude and feels good and that Trina suggested the whole swinging thing. Tom also suggested it to Bruce who says "it's crazy right?" Roger looks on wistfully as Bruce and Susan cuddle. In the basement Janet gets an eyeful of orgy, or at least as much as orgy as can be shown on broadcast TV- lots of bare shoulders- and promptly flees fully scandalized grabbing Roger on the way out. She tries to convince Bruce and Susan to leave also they decline.Across the street at the Millers, Samantha climbs in the window and confronts B.J. - who is shirtless for some reason- about her ring. He hands it over. He says it looks like a wedding ring. She says it was her dad's. He asks if her dad is dead. She says she doesn't know or care. He asks why she keeps it then. She says to remind herself to never get married or talk to stupid people like him. Which seems a little harsh since as far as we know, she doesn't know B.J. She goes to head out the window and he asks if she's running away. She just takes off in a huff.Back in swingtown as the party is winding down Bruce is rubbing Susan's feet on the Decker couch as Tom puts on "Dream Weaver" and asks if anyone needs a drink. 'Luded out Susan says she's good. Tom and Trina exchange "it's on!" looks. Tom kneels down behind Susan and begins rubbing her neck. Bruce looks a little put out and places his hand higher on Susan's leg. Susan luxuriates in all the touching. He grabs her hands and gushes over their softness. Trina sees Bruce's mild alarm and kneels down to put her hand on the hands of Tom and Susan and then brings her and Susan's hands down on Bruce. She suggests departing to someplace quieter. (Hey Tom is the one who put Gary Wright on). T 'N T take off for the bedroom and Bruce and Susan follow.Cut to Janet furiously scrubbing her oven. Roger asks her to come to bed and she says they live in a pig sty and says not to touch her. Ricky comes in all calamitous and bloody. Roger hugs him and tells a distraught Janet to go get some towels.In Laurie's bedroom she's reading "The Concept of Jenny."B.J. looks out his window at Samantha riding off on her bike.The next morning we get a cityscape shot of Chicago and the screen tells us it's July 4, 1976. We then pan across the various glasses cluttering the Decker living room aprčs-party. Tom's making a banana and granola smoothie and Trina is going for a dip.Janet is serving up eggs to a black-eyed Ricky.Susan and Bruce are finishing up what looks like some mind-blowing sex and giggling. Bruce goes to take a shower. Susan looks contemplative and then a little sad.


Directed by Alan Poul  

Starring Molly Parker, Jack Davenport, Grant Show, Lana Parrilla, Miriam Shor, more...

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