‘Scoundrels’ 1.02 Recap: Thank You for Stealing at Big Foods

Although we’re only two episodes in, I think I’ve got a handle on ‘Scoundrels’. It may not be a great show (so far), but it’s certainly not a bad one either. For summer programming, it’s pretty decent, really. But it’s just not as much fun as the network may have promoted it to be, or perhaps as it should be. Even so, the second episode (called ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’) has its moments of entertainment.

With husband Wolf in prison, Cheryl (Virginia Madsen) has decided to take the family legit. No one is particularly happy about this. Even Cheryl herself has doubts. She’s taken a job at a grocery store amusingly named Big Foods, where the sleazy manager has been sexually harassing all the younger girls. The job doesn’t pay much either, of course. Bills are piling up, and the kids are pissed at the downturn in their quality of life. But still Cheryl sticks to the high road, and refuses illicit cash that Wolf sends her way. Meanwhile, Sgt. Mack (Carlos Bernard) continues to taunt her, and takes great pleasure waiting for her to slip back into her old lifestyle.

Slacker Cal is working as an errand boy for the Hongs, a job he can’t stand, until he meets the MILF-ilicious Mrs. Hong, who isn’t at all what he expected. She’s played by Dina Meyer from ‘Starship Troopers‘, and she is all over Cal. In no time flat, she’s made him her boy toy. The only problem is that Mr. Hong isn’t totally oblivious to his wife’s behavior, and makes it perfectly clear to Cal that he won’t tolerate any shenanigans. He seems like a man Cal shouldn’t cross.

Heather is stuck working at a diner. Because Cheryl destroyed her modeling photos, the girl spends most of the episode seducing younger sister Hope’s geeky friend into taking new shots of her. I said in my last recap that I was surprised that I could buy actress Leven Ramblin as a bimbo sexpot, considering her dumpy role on ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’. Well, I think I’m over that. In this episode, she’s clearly just not as pretty or hot as she (and everyone else) thinks she is. At episode’s end, she’s “discovered” at the diner by a talent agent, and I just do not believe that at all.

Good brother Logan continues his affair with Hope’s principal, Valerie. He confronts Hope about giving back the blackmail photos she has of Valerie sleeping with him while he was underage. Hope admits that she’s been bluffing, and the photos were lost in the fire at grandpa’s house. Valerie is overjoyed to learn that the photos are destroyed, and wants to take their relationship public. Logan is a bit freaked out by the prospect.

At the Big Foods, Cheryl gets on the manager’s bad side during an argument about the lack of toilet paper in the women’s bathroom. So he frames her for stealing $500 from the register and has her arrested. Sgt. Mack is thrilled, but ultimately can’t hold her due to lack of evidence.

Later, a Big Foods truck filled with toilet paper is hijacked. Cheryl assumes that Wolf had something to do with it, but he denies it. The manager crawls to her begging her to help get the truck back so that he won’t lose his job. She decides to use $1,500 of Wolf’s cash as a bribe for information. This eventually leads to the recovery of the truck, Cheryl getting her job back, and all charges dismissed. In the final scene, we learn that Wolf was in fact behind the hijacking all along.

Although it’s been promoted as a light-hearted farce, the show’s creators seem to actually be making a dramedy. For a story about con artists, it’s neither as dark and serious as a series like ‘The Riches’, nor as zany as a movie like ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’. The episode has moments of humor, especially in the Cal storyline, but not really enough of them, in my opinion. There’s also a weird Native American woman who works at the Big Foods with Cheryl and speaks only in the most ridiculous of clichéd “Wise Injun” platitudes. The character seems to have been written as a joke, but directed seriously, as if all of her words of wisdom were genuinely profound. There’s a strange and distracting disconnect there.

Still, I guess I’m interested enough to keep watching the show. For now, at least.

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