When Alan Thicke and Gilbert Gottfried swapped wives, it looked like a classic case of city mouse and country (estate) mouse. Gilbert, the comedian with the one-of-a-kind voice, lives in a Manhattan apartment with his wife Dara, his two kids, and his microscopic entertainment budget. Fancy country mice Alan (the Seaver patriarch on '80s sitcom "Growing Pains"), his wife Tanya, and stepson Carter live on a ranch in Santa Barbara, California and throw formal dinner parties.
Sure enough, much consternation ensued over the differing lifestyles: Tanya objected to the smell of the subway, Dara faced off against the lobster she had to prepare for Alan and Carter's supper, and both families learned that money doesn't always buy happiness… but it can, if you do it right.
What bought our happiness in the episode was all the punchlines. The episode felt kind of rushed, as though it were making room for Gilbert to set up and pay off jokes at the expense of plot -- but we all know more or less how these swaps turn out anyway, and the jokes worked. And not just his! Alan, Carter, and Gilbert's kids Max and Lilly all got off a few good lines too.
In case you didn't get to watch, here's our list of the 9 funniest bits from last night's show:
1. Describing his career, Alan calls himself "the affordable Shatner," and explains that he married a younger woman because "most women my age are dead."
2. Gilbert jokes (repeatedly) that he's looking forward to having sex with "a different woman," but Tanya -- who's a good six inches taller than Gilbert -- isn't having it, muttering that "if we ever really had sex, he'd end up in the hospital."
3. Tanya, arriving at the Gottfried household, surveys it with dismay: "This place is about the size of my bedroom." (For a New York City apartment, it's big.)
4. Gilbert is happy with Tanya's cooking, though: "It's the first time there was anything in this house I could actually eat without getting violently sick afterwards."
5. The notoriously thrifty Gilbert brings Tanya to a 99-cent store. She gets in the spirit quickly and ends up spending nearly $200. Gilbert observes that this sort of defeats the purpose by sighing, "It's like finding out in Vegas that your wife has a gambling problem."
6. Later, he "treats" Tanya to dinner at the Friars Club -- in the kitchen, where he can eat for free. Before walking out, Tanya wonders if it's even legal to eat there, and grumps, "I feel like Lady and the Tramp."
7. Meanwhile, back at the Thicke Ranch, Dara has given the staff the day off and is putting Alan and Carter to work on chores. Alan's pretty funny -- "I did laundry once, in college" -- but Carter is hilarious, chirping a sarcastic "all right, thank you for the input" when Dara points out a spot he missed cleaning the stove. When Dara asks him if he could take care of some gunk in the pool, Carter tells her, "I want nothing more." Hee! Love that kid.
8. Dara takes Alan to HIS local 99-cent store, to find a meaningful gift for Tanya that doesn't cost a lot of money. Alan doesn't think this is going to fly (and we'd agree): "She'd be very happy with a one-dollar gift, I think, as long as there were a thousand of them."
9. At the summit, though, Tanya is upset that Alan might think he has to buy her love, and starts taking off all her jewelry to prove a point while Gilbert and Dara watch the Thickes like it's a tennis match. Then Tanya makes the mistake of trying to explain that, even with a staff, she has a lot to do around the ranch, and she's earned that jewelry: "I work very very hard in my house, everything I have there I did, every fabric has been picked out by me." Dara makes the same "oh… honey" face we did while Gilbert tries not to laugh.
Was Twitter feeling Tanya?
What did everyone really learn? Not much. Gilbert's driving lesson was a disaster; Alan and Tanya haven't gone back to the 99-cent store; and Gilbert was making Tanya-sex jokes 'til the end. But Alan did make Tanya breakfast for her birthday, and the audience got a few giggles out of the whole thing.
Did you think the episode was funny, or too gimmicky to be effective? Does Tanya need to get over it and take the bus, or is it Gilbert who needs to stop complaining about paying for stuff? Give us your best punchlines in the comments.
Or watch the full episode for yourself right here:
And now it's back to famous original "Wife Swap," airing Thursdays at 8 PM on ABC.