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'Mental' nostalgia recap: What to expect when you're not expecting

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “A Beautiful Delusion” | Aired Jun 2, 2009

It’s another day at Mental‘s Wharton Memorial Hospital, which means Jack has redecorated admitting, and decided that everyone is participating in a relay race with the patients. In the ER, Dr. Moore (hey, it’s Warren Kole from The Following and Common Law!) treats a woman who came in worried about her baby, except that Melissa isn’t actually pregnant, leading him to seek out Veronica—whom he’s secretly sleeping with—for a consult.

Family is the theme of the week. While the squad treats Melissa’s hysterical pregnancy, Veronica wonders about the future of her marriage, and Jack’s sister Becky is still missing.

Veronica and Jack quiz Melissa about the details of her pregnancy and relationship with her husband Richard, who also happens to be her OB/GYN. He’s not a delusion; he’s real, and comes rushing into the hospital raving about her being treated in the psych ward. Jack being Jack, he’s completely unbothered by the ranting, and laughs when Carl hands him paperwork proving that Richard is a legitimate physician. Carl suggests that the hospital just release Melissa and let the couple figure out the non-baby on their own, to which Jack responds that they can “sit back and wait for the imaginary grandkids.” This man has a witty response for everything.

It quickly becomes apparent that Richard is as convinced of the pregnancy as his wife. He insists to Nora that Melissa is ready to leave the hospital. Jack placates him by suggesting another ultrasound, but Richard demands to do the procedure himself and swears he can see the baby. He then slugs Jack when Jack re-asserts his authority as director of psychiatric services. Now Jack’s got a busted lip, and refuses to press charges—but insists, “If he hadn’t sucker-punched me, I could’ve taken him, easy.”

The team now believes that it’s Richard who convinced Melissa that she was pregnant, but why? Arturo does some digging and finds out that Richard quit practicing around the same time that the pregnancy was announced. Chloe says the ultrasound that he gave them was two years old, which corresponds with a previous pregnancy that Melissa had mentioned when she was interviewed.

When Veronica and Jack confront Melissa, she talks about how Richard had been married once before, but his first wife was unable to have kids, leading to their divorce. She gets upset over the thought of losing her child, and Veronica finally tells her that there was no baby. Jack takes another call from Becky and grows more concerned about his sister. “She’s still calling,” Nora reassures him. “We’ll find her.”

Melissa suggests that Jack press charges for the assault, as she’s now very cross with her husband. She thinks that he only married her to get her pregnant, but Jack reassures her that Richard does love her and that he can prove it. He has Richard released by hospital security and tells him that his wife is in the OR, being prepped for an emergency C-section. Everyone’s been invited to be present for the delivery of the imaginary baby, except for killjoy Carl, who calls it an “ill-conceived charade.”

In the operating room, Richard is distracted by thoughts of what his and Melissa’s life with the baby will be like. Jack suggests that he make the first incision, and hands him the scalpel while he’s imagining playing catch with his son. Finally, Richard cracks and backs away from the operating table, stumbling into a tray of medical equipment. He is then comforted by his wife, who tells him that she loves him too.

When all is said and done, Nora reminds Jack of how much money he just blew taking up a valuable OR, and how much could’ve gone wrong if his plan hadn’t worked. But as usual, Jack believes that the ends justify the means. Meanwhile, Veronica’s husband picks her up after work and plays one of his songs, which is actually “Sacred” by Todd Thibaud. They kiss and make up.

Jack is just about to leave himself when Malcolm the nurse hands him a package that was dropped off for him, and he realizes that his sister has been to the hospital. He chases after her, but she’s already disappeared, leaving her big brother on the verge of tears, holding the flower that she left him. So close and yet so far.

As much as we love wisecracking, optimistic, perpetually sunny Jack (seriously, has there ever been a more peppy doctor on TV?), it’s nice to see a chink in his armor, and to have a seriousness to balance out the endless supply of good vibes. On the other hand, he may be the only decent guy in the hospital, what with Carl hating everything and Arturo’s blatant sexual harassment. All of these people probably need one of those corporate team-building retreats or something.

“A Beautiful Delusion” tweaks the formula just enough, making it Richard’s issue and not just Melissa’s, and coming up with a really gutsy way to solve the problem. But the title also kind of applies to the regular characters: Is Veronica deluding herself that she can have a happy marriage? Is Jack kidding himself that he’s ever going to find his sister? Everyone’s got their delusions that they keep out of love. They just don’t all result in imaginary babies. Which is good, because there are only so many times Jack can get slugged in the face.

Mental is available on DVD.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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