Hello! I am so excited to dive back into Julia with Sarah Lancashire, who’s with me?? I’ve been knee-deep below various decks lately but there is finally a space for some of Julia Child’s awesome story brought to life by none other that my very favourite actress Sarah Lancashire. Let’s roll into my recap of Julia S1:E03 Boeuf Bourguignon without further ado!
Fun fact: Boeuf Bourguignon is the very first thing I learned to make from the very first Julia Child cookbook I ever read. I was 6. I’m still much better at spaghetti, which is the first thing I ever cooked. At 6.
So we left it (a year ago) with the pilot episode of The French Chef with Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) filmed and in the can, with most people thinking it’s also in the toilet, our French chef included.
Not so negative is TV head Hunter Fox (Robert Joy) who thought it was charming! His wife Tilly made the hell out of Julia’s coq au vin and he slept like a baby! She can’t stop talking about it so Hunter tells producer Russ Morash (Fran Kranz) to run the numbers and see what they’ve got. This delights other producer Alice Naman (Brittany Bradford) who believes in Julia all the way. Russ can only see that his pet project The Advocates going down the drain, so he’s extra disappointed but surely won’t take this out on Julia.
So Russ runs the numbers and they’re untenable, so sorry! We’ll see what ‘Bottom Line Guy’ Hunter has to say about that.
We finally see Julia herself, making…Salisbury steak? Ground beef with loads of butter and onions, served lovingly to her husband Paul Child (David Hyde Pierce) and yet another fella Julia has to convince of the worth of her idea. Maybe John McWilliams (James Cromwell) is her dad or a financier or both because he’s asking about the business model and poking holes in stuff she doesn’t know.
When he doesn’t even know not to put ice cubes in wine, particularly red wine.
He’s a dad! Julia’s dad and he’s saved most of his zingers for Paul and his early retirement, soft hands and gutters that need attending.
Paul just laughs and fill his wine glass allllll the way up to the top.
Julia’s also enjoyed the wine this evening, she feels like a farmer’s daughter!
Julia soothes her husband as she always has to, along with every other person in her life. It’s just that Paul is feeling super emasculated and old and all those things that are somewhat natural when you’re farmed out of the Foreign Service for early retirement.
Julia as the farmer’s daughter gives a great pep talk.
They do have a lovely relationship.
Alice made Russ tell Julia himself that the show wouldn’t go forward.
ARE YOU, RUSS? ARE YOU?
Julia insists on specific numbers, once she sees the bottom line, she’s back in the pink: she can cover those! Let’s go ahead!
At dinner, we’ve got Paul, John and the lovely Avis DeVoto (Bebe Neuwirth) whom John calls “a reasonable, reasonably attractive woman of a certain age.” Would she be traipsing around a kitchen set on TV?
*THIS is what used to pass for a compliment!
John manages to give a toast against Paul’s best efforts but Julia freaks out when she sees how expensive the dinner is going to be and hides in the bathroom. Avis finds her, hearing the whole story and understanding how much Julia needs this show, throws all her support behind the idea.
This involves cooking classes to earn some extra money! The women are verrrry excited but I can’t be the only one growing weary of the slapsticky way Julia continually finds adorable ways to lie to her husband yet again.
The cooking class is a blast, even John has a great time sexually harassing the young ladies in his daughter’s kitchen.
Young Babe (Caroline Portu) has been dealing with the loss of her mother, this class was the first time she felt like herself since that time.
Dorothy Zinberg (Lindsey Broad) is there to help with her babe, she’s in such a good mood after that she may even go home and work on her dissertation! Not working on her dissertation is Julia, and it’s due for Russ for the following day.
They made just enough money to cover the episode, they’ll have to do this every of the upcoming 26 weeks.
The next day on set is chaotic, with Paul romping around complaining that all of the measurements he insisted on taking during the cooking class aren’t being used. Russ bails after giving Julia a complicated and disorganized series of instructions, retreating to the calm and stability of “I’ve Been Reading.”
Hunter finds Russ there and sends him back over to The French Chef to help Julia, somehow Alice gets promoted to Russ’s position and literally everyone is mad about it except Hunter.
Alice goes home and makes a quiche, yeah she does! This does not impress her mother Virginia Naman (Adriane Lenox) who just wants her daughter settled and married and with lots of kids and DON’T DO IT, ALICE!!! IT’S A TRAP!!
She resists, for NOW.
Back at home, Julia scans index cards in preparation for her sophomore show, Paul pops into the bedroom with some news. He has an opportunity to have his art displayed in a galley, will Julia mind if he splits his focus? Julia’s relief at the removal of very much in the way Paul is palpable.
Okay, maybe she was just being supportive of the person she loves. Paul is feeling particularly vulnerable right now.
*So lovely that it’s completely normal to see all this backstory and shared screentime for a partner, as we do in every single show where the protagonist is a man. And one of the two principals is JULIA MOTHERHUMPING CHILD WHO ONLY BROUGHT FRENCH COOKING TO NORTH AMERICA but by all means, let’s make sure PAUL CHILD gets his due.
Julia types late into the night; her dad getting up for shots and company. He gives her a pep talk, take it step by step and cup by cup. She’s got this!
Julia tours her new set, it looks great! Russ is completely underwater, you can see he’s picturing an endless stream of prattle of which he cares naught. Over at I’ve Been Reading, Julia’s set has caused pure jealousy for host Albert Duhamel. (Jefferson Mays). She has running water and he’s stuck with Roland (Charlie Thurston)
Alice hasn’t been able to book Nabakov for him, so he flounces after knocking over her pencils.
Russ is going through some kind of midlife crisis filled with upward mobility, great food and other people’s successes choking him silently. Bobby O’Dell directing a play at the Boston Art Center sticks in his throat, he needs to quit his artistic soul-killing life.
His wife Marian Morash (Erin Neufer) asks him to defer the starving artist life for a little while longer, they’re pregnant. Mazel Tov!
The best non-cooking scenes in Julia are the ones shared with Julia and Avis, they eat ice cream in the park and talk about how Avis totally engineered Paul’s art show, wooooo! She saw he needed a purpose far far away from the one Julia was trying to enact and took steps!
Atta girl, Avis.
Julia worries she’s already at the end of her rope but Avis assures her: she’s got this! Late that night Julia and Paul help each other with each other’s work, they’re very much a supportive couple. Later on, there is a heartbreaking moment with Paul and Julia’s father John when Paul confronts John about treating him like a golddigger. When John questions what else Paul could possibly see in Julia but her money, I was truly shocked.
When your own father thinks you have no value but that which you inherit from him.
Time to film Boeuf Bourguignon!
Russ is engaged and actually directing during rehearsal, good job! He does a charming and not at all infantalizing tutorial regarding dirty hand puppets to differentiate between cameras and hey, Russ? You know what else would work? Putting numbers on top of the cameras.
Julia does a lovely speech ending in the promise of leftovers, everyone loves her!
Oh. John has to go home. Too bad. Booo. Oh wait, one more chance to make Julia feel like shit by refusing her offers of help.
Admonishing her with a straight face to ‘be a lady.” Well, she is a lady, just not his type perhaps.She needs just one more thing from him…money to cover the labour and food costs so she doesn’t have to do cooking classes every week.
That’s it, we’re filming episode 1 and we’re done for today!I think I’ve been pretty vocal about my not understanding why we get quite so much of Paul, but that may be partly casting. Sarah Lancashire as Julia Child is a gorgeous woman of a particular height and age. The real Julia Child was less conventionally attractive, is that why we’re getting rather a lot of her spouse? Explaining their relationship. I still think it isn’t cricket.
Cheers, everyone, thanks for reading along.