Episode Cast:

Suzanne Sugarbaker
Delta Burke

Julia Sugarbaker
Dixie Carter

Mary Jo Shively
Annie Potts

Charlene Frazier
Jean Smart

Mason Dodd
Walter Olkewicz

David Winn

A Big Affair

Directed by: Michael Lassac
Written by: Linda Bloodworth-Thomason
Taped: August 2, 1986
Airdate: October 20, 1986

Charlene phones Alpha Tau Epsilon college fraternity to request payment for sofas purchased from Sugarbakers, but soon begins feeling sorry for the group's insolvency and secretly loans the fraternity money! Suzanne breezes into work with news that she has planned an intimate dinner party to impress an important client, Mason Dodd of Mason Dodd Imports...and an extremely wealthy man. She then goes on to say that he is a bright, funny, wonderful man and that she has arranged for Charlene to be his date for the party.

Charlene knows Suzanne is up to something but doesn't know what it could be until Mason enters and she sees that Mason is extremely overweight. Though Charlene and the others find Mason charming and attentive, Mason gives Charlene his business card when Suzanne arranges for him to take Charlene to lunch the following day, and tells her if she wants to cancel she can phone and he will understand. But Charlene doesn't want to hurt his feelings and, besides, she finds him utterly charming. Several days later, Mary Jo calls the fraternity for payment and before long finds herself giving them a small loan to be used toward payment on the sofas, stating it is just between the two of them. Then when Julia tries her hand at collecting from the fraternity, she also falls for the tales of woe and secretly gives them a loan herself.

Meanwhile, Charlene returns from another long lunch with Mason and blurts out to her cohorts that she finds herself attracted to the charming and witty Mason, but she is ashamed about her embarrassment at being seen with him in public and decides to break up with him -- after Suzanne's dinner party. At the party, Mason makes fun of himself and it bothers Charlene. Taking him aside, Charlene tells Mason is appears he likes embarrassing her. Mason disagrees, admitting it was just his way of telling her that it would be best if they didn't see each other anymore. He confesses that everyone has inadequacies, making Charlene realize because of her negative attitude about his weight, she hurt him and she apologizes. Charlene admits that in truth, she adores him and that he is sweet, fun and sexy. As they embrace, a box of long-stemmed roses are delivered with a check for full payment on the sofas from the fraternity, while outside, the men of Alpha Tau Epsilon sing out to the women. Standing on the balcony listening, Suzanne, Julia, Charlene and Mary Jo each secretly believe the flowers and song are for her.

-- Columbia Tri-Star Marketing

Additional Comments:

This was actually the first episode filmed after the series was picked up by the network and officially began production. CBS, in its attempt to build an audience, kept changing the show's timeslot and moving it all around the schedule. As a result, the first season episodes aired drastically out of order. Not that this was an unsual practice, but since the writers and the actors were trying to flesh out their characters and build interweaving subplots, the displacement of episodes left a legacy of continuity issues that carries forward into syndication. Pay attention to the furniture and layout of the Sugarbaker's set -- you'll notice that the decor changes back and forth several times throughout the season.

This episode introduces Mason Dodd, who will be Charlene's boyfriend over the next few episodes (although this is his only actual appearance).

It also introduces Suzanne's maid, Consuela, whom Suzanne hires to help out with her dinner party. Though she is never actually seen in any episodes, Consuela becomes a fixture of the series and is spoken of regularly.

This episode marks the first reference to Suzanne's first husband, Dash Goff, who doesn't apear until Season Two.

Charlene mentions that she collects thimbles in this episode.

The exterior used to represent Suzanne's home was actually the Arkansas Governor's mansion. We also get our first glimpse of the inside of Suzanne's house in this episode -- though the formal dining room shown here is never seen again.

Classic Scenes:

SUZANNE: I have had one of the worst mornings of my life. First, I pull into one of those self-serve gas deals, but I don't know how to stick that little thing-a-ma-jig in there. Fortunately, there was this housewife in a van full of screaming kids who agreed to do it for me. So, as I'm leaving, I give her a quarter. And what does she give me? The bird! Can you believe it? And to top it all off, I find out my cleaning lady is not coming in today.
JULIA: Incredible story. Let us never criticize until we've walked a mile in those pumps.

Charlene sees that her blind date is very overweight.
MASON DODD: I can tell by the look on your face Suzanne forgot to mention my height.
CHARLENE: What's wrong with your height?
MASON: It's too low for my width.

Julia gets on the phone with the college boys who tried to return sofas by leaving them in the alley behind the store -- after they've been thrown up on.
JULIA: Hello, Mr. Newkirk? Julia Sugarbaker here. Basically we're upset because you boys returned these sofas to us which, if I may speak candidly, are not fit to grow penisillin on. And while it is not my business to speculate on what heinous acts they've been subjected to, I'm sure it was far worse than anything Samsonite ever had to endure. That, however, shall remain between you and your chaplain. The bottom line is I expect payment in full within ten days.

The ladies tell stories at Suzanne's dinner party.
CHARLENE: That reminds me of that story about a Southern woman who goes to this la-dee-da cocktail party in New York City. She turns to a Northern woman and says, "Where y'all from?" The Northern woman looks at her and she says, "We're from where we don't end our sentences with a preposition." So the Southern woman looks at her and says, "Oh...well then, where y'all from.......BITCH!"


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