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Episode 217: A New Leaf

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Dinosaurs
Air Date February 5, 1992
Written by Rob Ulin
Director Mark Brull
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Roy Hess and his coworkers enjoy "the plant"

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The Sinclair family at their lowest

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Robbie implores the viewing audience to help put an end to "preachy sitcom endings"

Following a fierce argument with Earl, Robbie storms out of the house to meet Spike and discovers an appealing leaf that when ingested makes them both effusively happy. Upon returning home, Earl is surprised to find Robbie in such an elated state until he samples some of Robbie's leaves. Expecting to find father and son at war, Fran is puzzled when she discovers Earl and Robbie arm in arm. Suspicious of the tantalizing leaves, Fran exhibits cautious restraint and becomes increasingly concerned when her family happily decides to remain at home rather than go to work or school. Earl's lack of concern after discovering he's been fired forces Fran, who refuses to become co-dependent, to abscond from the house and leave a delirious Earl, Robbie and Charlene to hopelessly fend for themselves.

Story

Robbie's head spikes have grown, and Earl wants to cut his spikes. Robbie doesn't want them cut, and, after an argument with Earl, leaves the house. Robbie and Spike find some plants that they haven't seen before, and after eating them, they become unusually happy.

Robbie soon comes home, bringing the happy plant home. He makes up with Earl, and gives him some of the plant, making Earl happy as well. Fran is pleased to see that Earl and Robbie have made up. Earl brings some of the plant to work to share with his co-workers. Richfield bellows his usual "Sinclair, my office...NOW!", informing Earl that he is fed up with his constant tardiness and fires him. Earl simply says it is the happiest day of his life as he has no more drudgery and gives B.P. Richfield some of the happy plant as a peace offering.

At home, Earl, Robbie, and Charlene (who has tried the plant by now) start to foolishly wonder things, like why numerical systems are based on ten if they have eight fingers, and whether they are being watched on TV. The Baby, who hasn't had any of the plant, starts to get very hungry, as the others ignore him. Fran comes home surprised that Robbie and Charlene aren't at school and Earl isn't at work. She informs them that she couldn't afford groceries because her check bounced at the supermarket, and finds out that Earl had been fired and that they ate all of the food. Fran starts to think that the happy plant isn't such a good thing. Determined to get the family back on track, she orders Charlene and Robby back to school and takes Earl to WESAYSO in order to smooth things over with his boss.

At WESAYSO, Fran has the same aghast as she did with her own family, as the once-hostile atmosphere has turned into a relaxed party. Earl and the guys laugh to themselves and party with a conga line. However, one of the guys, Larry, starts thinking everybody is out to hurt him, causing the guys to constanty placate Larry they are his friend and stop being so paranoid. Fran sees the happy plant can have side effects like what happened to Larry. Fran and Earl go into Richfield's trailer in order to grovel, but are briefly interrupted by Larry, who asks if they are talking about him behind their back. Earl says no, and after Larry leaves they face his boss. Both Earl and Fran are surprised by Richfield's appearance and attitude. He now wears sunglasses, an aloha shirt and has painted his horns in assorted colors. Richfield turns down the radio, which was tuned to acid rock, and is a mellow tone of voice greets "his friends" Fran and Earl. When Earl says he needs a job, Richfield apologizes for firing a "right on guy" like Earl and offers him a job as his assistant. Richfield proposes a way that him, Earl and guys will make money just for having a good time. All seems well in the world, but then Richfield answers his phone. It is Richfield's boss, who has terminated Richfield for not performing to expected standards.

At home, Fran decides to stay at Monica's house, and takes the Baby with her. She chides Earl that only when he and the kids sober up from the happy plant will she return. Shortly thereafter their plant stash is exhausted, and the three head into the forest. There the see Spike who found a fresh batch of happy plant. Once they see how paranoid and idiotic Spike looks, the three elect to swear off the happy plant. Charlene proposes burning down the patch of happy plant, but Earl in a moment of wisdom, actually forbids her from doing so. Earl's reasoning is twofold, that burning down the plant could spread and burn down the whole forest, but more importantly, it could create an even worse problem to have a "war on happy plants". When Robbie protests about the danger of the happy plant, Earl agrees, but says the only adult way to handle it is that everyone must voluntarily sober up, and that there must always be the temptation to struggle with.

Then, the show wraps up, as Robbie talks to the audience about the dangers of drugs, and how when most sitcoms have anti-drug shows, they are too serious. Robbie tells the viewers to not do drugs, and help put an end to preachy sitcom endings like this one.

Guest Stars

Notes

  • Taped on November 24, 1991.
  • Leif Tilden and Bill Barretta receive choreography credit for Earl and Robbie's dance scene, "It's a Most Unusual Day."
  • For the instant streaming release of the episode on Netflix, the "Purple Haze" scene is altered. The song is removed and replaced with Richfield (played by a different voice actor) singing "I'm a Happy Guy."

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