"The Seventeen Year Itch." Originally aired Nov. 29, 1990. Cindy sees an old boyfriend, Brandon and Brenda ponder their twin-ness.
Synopsis: Cindy and Jim have tried to have a nice dinner to mark their 17th wedding anniversary. It has not gone well. As Cindy undresses, she mopes about this being their first anniversary away from home -- meaning Minnesota. Jim, working before bed, is not very sympathetic. In bed, he wants to fool around, Cindy wants to talk first, and Jim gives up.
Next morning, Brenda senses the tension between her parents, while Brandon sees nothing. At school, the West Beverly deejay is leaving and there will be tryouts for a replacement. David is interested but doesn't think he has a chance because he's a freshman. Steve Sanders also plans to try out. The newspaper advisor asks Brandon and Brenda to take part in a friend's study of twins; Brenda says yes but Brandon says no -- until he finds out he'll get paid and time off from school.
Cindy is at a garden shop. A guy takes pictures of her. Turns out it's Glen (Stan Ivar), an old friend from college. (Later we learn that Glen, Jim and Cindy all went to the University of Minnesota, which makes them Golden Gophers.) She invites Glen to dinner. We learn that Glen and Cindy dated, but Glen introduced Cindy to Jim. In college, Jim had literary aspirations. Glen offers to take the kids' photos. Jim and the kids go to bed. Cindy stays up late talking to Glen. Later, Jim wakes up and sees Glen and Cindy are still talking.
Brenda and Brandon take part in the twins study. They are opposite a pair of identical twins who have a psychic connection, feel each other's pain and so on. Brenda and Brandon seem utterly disconnected.
Cindy spends more time with Glen, who drives her around in his convertible, takes photographs of her and says that "you and Jim are like night and day." Cindy says opposites attract, but she's clearly not thinking so. Glen invites her to his photo exhibit opening; she says she and Jim will come. Later, she talks to Jim about how fab Glen is. Jim says Glen is a "perpetual teenager." Lots of tension, no Jim-Cindy romance.
Brenda confides her worries about Glen and Cindy to Kelly, says Cindy is acting "really weird -- almost like a teenager." Later, Brenda asks Kelly about the signs of divorce, and Jim and Cindy seem to fit a lot of the signs.
Jim has to work, misses the opening. Cindy goes alone (except for all the kids). Glen takes Cindy outside, praises the "stability" of her life but also wants her. Big kiss. At home, Cindy ponders on her balcony. Brenda asks Kelly about signs of divorce; Jim and Cindy seem to fit them. Jim comes home. More arguing with Cindy.
Brenda and Brandon argue during the twins study, and after. Brenda says Brandon is "just like dad," while Brandon says Brenda is "like mom." Later, the kids try to bring Jim and Cindy together by making a quiet dinner for them at home. The adults are still strained, tense; Cindy goes to see Glen later, and the kids see her. They're sure she is having an affair with Glen. She isn't, but things are bad enough that Jim finally goes to Glen, tells him to butt out of Jim's marriage.
Deejay tryouts. First up is Donna, who whiffs. Steve tries, gets mic fright, freezes. David -- who has been laughed at earlier for a rap he tried out in the hall -- tries to unfreeze Steve and impresses the audience with his mad skills. (OK, so maybe they didn't say "mad skills." But it was weird enough to hear David refer to Vanilla Ice in a favorable way.)
Glen comes to the Walsh house. Cindy says she loves her husband. Glen says he has come to say goodbye -- that the better part of his conscience (meaning Jim) has said he has to back off. B&B are outside, and prepare to confront Glen, but he praises their family and they know he means no harm. Group hug: Cindy, Brandon, Brenda. Jim comes home from work early, wants to take Cindy on an overnight, another try at celebrating their anniversary. Happy ending. Oh, and the twin study has turned out OK.
Commentary: After the not-bad episode "Perfect Mom," "The Seventeen Year Itch" is a letdown. It's not just that it focuses on Cindy and Jim, but that it does so in such a slow and dull way. The twin plot's not much more interesting -- although it is fun to see Brenda right at almost every turn about what's going on with Jim and Cindy, while Brandon is consistently wrong. And the deejay story seems shoehorned in just as a way to get David, Steve and Donna a little screen time. (Donna's tryout moment is especially useless.)
There are also some odd things in the show's continuity. At her deejay tryout, Donna is introduced as "Donna Morgan," instead of Donna Martin. Brandon once again appears to be free of a regular commitment to working at the Peach Pit. And as far as I can tell, this is the first time that Cindy has had a job. Up to now, she has spent a lot of time in her own garden and cooking -- although maybe we're supposed to see this as Cindy's reaction to Brenda's pep talk in "Perfect Mom." Anyway, Cindy is now a landscaper (which is what Glen refers to her as). But Anna, whom we saw hired as Cindy's maid in a previous episode, is now introduced by Cindy as her "assistant."
And, frankly, the Brenda/Brandon parallels to Cindy/Jim sounded weird, not only the argument where each compares the other to one of their parents, but in Cindy's telling Glen that "they're just like an old married couple."
-- Glen is played by Stan Ivar, whose long resume includes playing newspaper editor John Carter on "Little House: A New Beginning." The series also starred "90210's" Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder. According to one account of a "Little House" cast reunion, Ivar has also said that he has the original TV "little house" on his ranch.
-- What is the deal with Glen and ties? He's a globetrotting photog whom you would expect to dress casually; instead, he has a really horrible shirt-and-tie combo when he goes to dinner at the Walsh house, and even wears a tie when squiring Cindy around in his convertible.
-- When Jim changes into his pajamas in one scene, he puts them on over his underpants.
-- As graduates of U. of Minn., Jim and Cindy are Golden Gophers.
For previous episode discussions, see earlier posts or the "90210" section in the "pages" list.