Hello again readers and friends. Today we review “Quarterback Sneak”. It is a fun season five installment. This time, Marcia must suffer the phony affection of a suitor following a self serving agenda. The episode’s b-plot is also well remembered among fans. The character associated with it, Tank Gates, has been mentioned among fan message boards as one of the most annoying of the series. This episode also features the fourth appearance of Chris Beaumont in his fourth guest role. So, let us hide our playbooks and begin reviewing “Quarterback Sneak”!
The episode begins with Marcia walking about town putting up posters for the upcoming football game. One will notice here that she is in front of “the market” Mike and Sam visited in “Snow White and the Seven Bradys”. The posters Marcia is putting up are encouraging a violent victory over Westdale High’s opponent in the upcoming football game. They read “All The Way With Westdale – Massacre Fairview”. While Westdale seems content with violent jargon to lead their team to victory, Fairview schemes even dirtier. Nearby, Fairview quarterback Jerry Rogers and some classmates observe Marcia in action. With the knowledge that Marcia is sister to a Westdale player, he turns on the charm. He approaches Marcia with his casanova ways and says he will help her put up signs for the rest of the afternoon. Marcia shares with Jerry that her brother is on the Westdale High football team as he is the team photographer and has a press pass and everything. Actually, she shares that Greg is a player for the team. Whatever reservations Carol had about Greg playing football in “Click” are now forgotten.
Back at the Brady house, Greg practices with his younger brothers. The trio is none to happy to see Jerry walking Marcia home. Marcia is falling fast for the rival quarterback. An afternoon of sign hanging and his charm have wooed her. With her new affections comes agnst in the family. Peter angrily enters the girls room and seizes the posters Marcia was tasked with hanging. At this point, somebody on the writing staff must have told the writers, “Give Benedict Arnold a rest. Viewers are probably tired of hearing about him.” This scene was the perfect opportunity to reference the famous traitor. One will also notice in this scene that the wallpaper hung in the previous episode is now gone.
Jan and Cindy chide Peter for his ire at Marcia. In a funny set of lines, they question how he could compare romance to football. Peter says that is easy as football is important. Jan counters with a football game lasts only sixty minutes and a romance can last a whole month.
The b-plot begins in the next scene. Mike arrives home wearing the pajama shirt with this suit again. I guess last time wasn’t just an accident. People did dress that way. The phone rings and the caller asks to speak to Twinkles. After a brief moment of confusion, it is discovered that Twinkles is a pet name given to Carol by her high school suitor, Tank Gates. Tank is in town and wants to pay her a visit. Carol reflects on what a stud Hank was. Even his muscles had muscles. Mike displays some jealousy over Tank and Carol takes it as a compliment. She and Alice relish in what a great thing it is to have a man be jealous. Once again, Carol seems to be taking delight in her husband being unhappy.
The true nature of Jerry’s nefarious intentions are made known as he chats with classmate Rich. The pair discuss Jerry’s plan to steal Westdale’s playbook from Greg and gain a most unfair advantage in the upcoming game.
The afroed Rich was played by Don Carter. He just has one of those faces, coupled with a hairdo, that stand out on camera. He was no stranger to TV in the 60s and 70s. He was in the feature films “A Boy and His Dog” and “Cat Murkil and the Silks”. IMDB lists his final role as being on an episode of CHiPs in 1983.
Jerry drives Marcia home from school and seeks a reward a-la a cold drink. As they head inside, Marcia introduces Jerry to Bobby and Cindy. Cindy confirms Marcia’s sentiment that Jerry is gorgeous. Bobby shows no love or respect and lets him know Westdale high will be victorious. When Cindy tries to chide Bobby’s harsh words, he says she knows nothing about love or football as she has never experienced either. This was a funny line.
Inside, Jerry searches the family room on the sly while Marcia gets him a glass of lemonade. He even asks if he might see Greg’s room to get some ideas for an attic bedroom of his own. After a quick look around, Jerry finds the playbook under a newspaper in the family room. He makes his first attempt to swipe it by placing it in a non-existent sweater pocket. Seriously, it looks like he thought it might just hang there magically. Bobby is walking past the window and observes this. Perhaps Jerry was jittery due to the drop as he makes no second attempt to steal the book. He just puts it back on the table. He was not aware that Bobby saw him, so that can’t be the reason he did not take the book then and there.
Marcia fumes at Bobby’s accusation that Jerry tried to steal the playbook. She says her new suitor would never stoop so low. Bobby is certain of what he saw. Greg decides the best course of action is to offer Jerry another chance to make off with the playbook. If he does not, Bobby and Greg will apologize. Imagine if Jerry had managed to swipe the playbook elsewhere and made no second attempt at the Brady house. What an awkward apology that would have been. Part of Greg’s plan is “Operation Wipeout” which will see that he drafts a fake playbook for Jerry to swipe.
Adorned in a new dress, Carol excitedly welcomes Tank to her home. Ever the brute, Tank can’t even take the time to learn Mike’s name, calling him Mack, Mick, etc. Any jealousy Mike might have experienced before seems long gone at this point. His reactions to him show how he finds Tank to be a braggart and oaf. Mike enjoys a magazine while Tank and Carol visit. One thing I found a bit odd was that the boys had no interest in meeting Tank Gates. He speaks of his college and professional football accolades. If the boys were so interested in seeing Joe Namath and football in general, it seems they’d also want to meet another pro football athlete.
Tank Gates was played by Denny Miller. Denny had a career in Hollywood that spanned several decades. His only regular role was on the western Wagon Train. He had plenty of one time TV appearances on countless hit shows. It appeared he never lacked for work after getting started in the business. He even played Tarzan at one point. He was also a college basketball athlete, playing for UCLA. His final credit on IMDB is a film released in 2015. Denny Miller died in 2014.
As Tank and Carol look over an old high school annual, Tank only wishes to reflect on memories of himself. He rudely cuts Carol off as she tries to point out a picture of herself. Upon seeing a picture of him scoring a touchdown, the real craziness begins. Hank reenacts the entire play right there in the Brady living room. In one of my favorite moments of the episode, Mike slides the magazine he is reading under Tank’s foot before he can put it on the coffee table. The reenactment of the touchdown reaches cartoonish proportions as Tank plows into the couch and eventually lobs a pillow that breaks a planter.
Marcia’s doubts are vanquished and the boys’ suspicions confirmed with Jerry’s second visit to the Brady house. This time, he wore a jacket more conducive to playbook theft. While Marcia prepares him a cold drink, he swipes the phony playbook. Then he feigns a reason to leave suddenly and does. Marcia is quite heartbroken to see the playbook gone and that her brothers were right. Maureen McCormick should have been nominated for an Emmy in this scene. She does a fantastic job in front of the camera portraying her heartbreak.
Upstairs, Mike intervenes as the voice of reason in the entire matter. He shares with Greg that Westdale giving the cheating Fairview some cheats of their own makes them no better than Fairview. Greg realizes this as he had not considered that previously. As a kid watching this, I will admit that I learned a lesson too. I was 100% on Greg’s side with the fake playbook, but Mike’s brief lecture had me realize that the fake playbook was just as low down as stealing the real one. Greg calls Jerry to tell him the truth, but Jerry denies knowledge of the stolen book and carries on with his ill design on winning.
Greg’s phone call should have tipped Jerry off that something was amiss. If Greg knew he took it, then Greg could have told the coach, his own teammates or even the referees. Regardless, Jerry should know at this point his plan will fail. Apparently it does not though. Jerry still relishes being in possession of the playbook. If it was even suspected that Jerry took the playbook, the thief would now know that Westdale would changing up their own plays, rendering a stolen playbook useles
The final scene has the Bradys arriving home and celebrating a fair Westdale victory. Fairview’s coach got wind of Jerry’s actions and pulled him from the game in the first quarter. While the ringleader of the swipe was out of the game, what about the rest of the team? At least two other guys were in on the plan. Fairview should have forfeited the game. However, that would not have made for as good of an ending to the episode. Also, the gag about Alice making two cakes would have had to be scrapped.
The epilogue has Tank Gates paying Twinkles one more visit. We learn here that not only is Tank obnoxious and self absorbed, he’s also shallow in other ways. He learned that Jerry had swiped the playbook and thinking they had the game in the bag, bet against his old alma mater.
Overall, “Quarterback Sneak” is a fun episode. The lesson or moral of the story comes only at the end of the episode. It is a very good one though. Cheating the cheaters puts all the players in the game on a dishonest footing. I think this may be my favorite “lesson learned” that the series had to offer. Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome! Next week we will review “Try, Try Again”! See you then!