“I command because I have the discipline to command.”
IFC released “One Moore Episode” online before Portlandia’s season premiere, but that didn’t stop me from returning for a second viewing on Friday night. This show crams so many fads, tics, hobbies, and behaviors together into 22 minutes, and this time it was bad tattoos, allergy pride, artisan knots, fire pit fantasies, and addictions to Battlestar Galactica. Thanks to the help of guest appearances by Eddie Vedder, Jeff Goldblum, and BSG stars Edward James Olmos, James Callis, and show creator Ronald D. Moore, it looks like Portlandia’s second season is still keeping up with its own hype, and even an overflow of celebrity cameos can’t take away from that hip and crunchy essence that is “where young people go to retire.”
The episode opens at the Portland Allergy Pride Parade, featuring Fred and Carrie as parade commentators Linda Lawrence and Marc Gemmer who introduce parade groups like The Krooked Kows and their “Tolerate Lactose Intolerance” banner, the Soi! Punks, the Allergy Pride Princess (she’s allergic to air, water, and sun and transported in an ambulance), and eventually Linda Lawrence herself, whose allergy to dextrose takes a turn for the worse after she eats some candy thrown to her from a pink-haired girl on rollerskates. Fred and Carrie bounce off each other so well in these commentator roles, like when Marc complains about the bikers making loud noises last night and Linda softly touches his arm and takes their conversation to a personal place: “How you doing?” “Excellent,” Marc replies, looking off to the parade again. “Really really good.” A minute later, Linda is dead.
The episode’s main plot kicks off when Fred and Carrie play Doug and Claire, a couple who ditch a friend’s birthday party because Doug has the first season DVD set of Battlestar Galactica, and they are irreversibly hooked after one episode. They lose their jobs, sleep, and bladder health due to a week-long Battlestar marathon, and after they finish the final episode, they search the phonebook for show creator Ronald D. Moore’s name and drive to his house in Portland, where they are greeted by a Ronald D. Moore’s uninterested wife. Even though this particular Ronald D. Moore has no idea what Battlestar Galactica is and the extent of his writing experience is “a deal about a dog and its owner” he wrote in school, he agrees to write the script, and somehow BSG cast members Edward James Olmos and James Callis come to Moore’s home for a table read and deliver lines like “Listen, I have something to say…okay, but you need to listen to me” and “Listen, I need you here. Now get outta here.” The real Ronald D. Moore also appears as a local actor named Ken Reynolds “currently appearing as The Mad Hatter.”
In another scene, Carrie meets with Fred at a coffee shop to tell him about a guy she’s dating who has a dealbreaker shoulder tattoo of Eddie Vedder playing tambourines. Every time the tattoo is exposed, Carrie’s girly in-love dreamworld transforms into a Pearl Jam song. She tries to get past it but the Vedder tattoo even starts speaking to her, and soon she’s dating Vedder himself, who has a bad tattoo of his very own. Tying with the tattoo sketch was Jeff Goldblum’s appearance as the salesman at Artisan Knots, a fancy knot store enjoying a jump in customers thanks to a writeup in the Sunday Times. Carrie and Fred play a couple who come to Artisan Knots looking for an offbeat housewarming present and end up buying an encased tangled set of iPod earbuds. “An artist that we work with makes these by jamming them into his pocket,” Goldblum tells them as if cluing them in to the secret of the pyramids before letting out the most turned-on human purr possible.
Overall, I thought this was a strong episode, and it works just as well as second-viewing material for Portlandia fans as it does a perfect introduction of the show for newcomers. What I love most of all about Portlandia is how the chemistry between Fred and Carrie makes even the most low-key lines so hilarious, like Carrie’s sincere “How you doing?” in the parade sketch, or her quick “I love you” while Fred’s character puts the Battlestar Galactica DVD into the player, or their square but comfortably together-forever couple during the fire pit scene – “You like holding hands, right?” Carrie’s character asks. “Of course I do,” Fred replies. “Only with you. A couple of old wolves.”
Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.