Archie – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

Episode 1

Archie episode 1 begins with Cary Grant attending “An Evening With Cary Grant” in Joliet, Illinois 1986. Cary tells the audience there’s a long story to explain why he wasn’t happy. As he sits down for questions, he is asked by an audience member how he becomes someone else when he’s acting, Cary says a lot of people believe he doesn’t have to, and he admits he is a character himself. He says he made up the perfect man to survive in the world.

The episode goes back to Cary’s origins as a little boy called Archie Leach in Bristol, England, in 1911. Archie hears his mother moaning at his father about being unable to put enough food on the table. His dad calls her a yapping dog. His mum Elsie discovers that her other son John is in pain, so she tries to look after him. She thinks they should take him to the doctor because he has a wound that seems infected. The father, Elias, says the doctor can’t do any more for him than they already have.

The next morning, Archie tells his father that he hates his clothes. This is followed by Elsie telling Archie to pick food up off the floor and eat it. She then makes him eat on the floor. She claims if he can’t eat properly at the table, he doesn’t deserve to eat at the table. Later on, Elsie and Elias argue over taking John to the doctor. Archie hears her mother sobbing. The next thing we see is Archie watching through the window as a coffin is taking his brother John away.

It’s 1986, and Cary is back on stage in a continuation of the scene at the very beginning. He admits that all he ever wanted was to feel love. He abruptly ends the speech early and leaves. 

Back in 1911, Archie visits John’s gravestone with his mother. Back at home, Elsie screams while she is cleaning, and Archie listens in as his parents argue. She says they are hungry because they have nothing to eat. Elsie tells Elias she should’ve listened to her mother and never married him.

The next morning, she says she doesn’t want to go as she’s being forced to go somewhere. Elias believes it would help to take her to the doctor to give her medicine for her nerves. 

Elsie is taken to the Fishponds Asylum in Bristol. Elias tells her it’s for the best, but she tells the staff she wants to go home before learning this isn’t possible, as Elias has had her committed. One day, Archie goes home and his dad tells him to pack his stuff. Elias takes his son to Mabel, who refuses to have him. Then, Elias tries to get his mum to have Archie, but she won’t. She changes her mind when he offers her two shillings a week to have him.

Archie says he came home each week hoping his mother would be there, but she never was. Elias visits Archie and tells him he needs to be a good boy for his grandmother. Archie is eating a fish and chip supper while his dad tells him that his mother passed away. Before he leaves, he asks Archie not to come to Mabel’s place looking for him.

Cut to the summer of 1961. Cary Grant is a massive Hollywood star, and facing up to his third divorce, and to add to his despair, Sophia Loren refuses to answer his calls.

Cary is watching television when he sees a woman on the screen that catches his eye. He calls Stanley Fox and asks him to set up a meeting for him. They meet, and Stanley reveals the woman doesn’t want to meet him. Cary doesn’t understand that since he thought Alfred Hitchcock could put her in a movie of his. The woman said she was moving abroad somewhere, and Stanley reveals the girl’s name is Dyan Cannon.

The conversation turns to James Bond and the possibility of Grant starring in Dr. No. Stanley tells Cary the studio wants to lock him into a four-picture deal. Cary doesn’t want to agree to this and tells Stanley to tell Dyan Cannon he’ll wait for her to get back. Cary ends up meeting Dyan Cannon as she visits him at his home. Cary tells her she is more attractive in person, and Dyan says the same about him. He wants to know more about her and they hang out and play games. Dyan goes to leave and asks Cary about the movie he was going to ask her about, but he reveals it took her so long to respond to him, they had already done casting and were preparing to film, but he confesses he wanted to meet her anyway because he was intrigued.

The episode moves forward to 1986 in Los Angeles, and Dr. Hansen visits Cary to discuss what happened at his show. Hansen reveals that Archie had a mild stroke and is told to slow down since he isn’t a young man anymore. If he has another stroke, it could result in death. Archie ignores his doctor’s advice and continues making appearances.

The episode heads to 1918, and Archie, (as he’s still known as) is at Bristol Hippodrome in England. Archie watches Bob Pender perform and follows him backstage to ask how he can get a chance to perform himself. Bob says he’ll need a signed letter from his father to get permission to audition. He talks about the possibility of touring the country and heading to New York. Archie goes home and creates a letter from his father. While Archie is up on stage, Elias turns up, and Bob admits he knows Archie faked the letter. Elias says Archie is too young to go, but his son reminds his father that he hasn’t bothered with him in years. An argument breaks out between Archie and Elias, and Bob tries to convince Elias to permit his son to go. 

Elias reluctantly agrees to it before telling Archie he is no longer his responsibility. Archie goes to New York with Bob and his gang. Bob tells Archie the feeling of an audience loving him is the best in the world. Archie talks to a woman called Rose about Wisconsin. He asks if she has a man before performing for her. She gives him her opinion and then kisses him, and they later have sex. Archie tells himself he’s going to be rich, when Rose says she isn’t anyone’s girl, and is keeping herself available for a rich man to marry her and take her away. 

In 1961, Alfred Hitchcock tells Cary that his soon-to-be ex-wife rang the house last night and had a long chat with his wife, Alma. Cary calls Dyan to ask her to come to his house to have dinner. They go inside and sing together until dinner is ready. He invites her to eat in his bed, and Dyan reveals she is single because she hasn’t met her soul mate yet. Cary admits he realised a long while ago that he isn’t cut out for being married.

Dyan asks why Cary never had children, and he admits he doesn’t want them, saying he doesn’t want to be tied down ever again.

The episode ends back somewhere near 1918, with Bob telling his group that their stay comes to an end tomorrow. Archie tells another boy that he is planning to stay because he doesn’t have anything to go home for. He is determined to stay and become a star. Bob agrees to pay his rent for a month and gives him money for a return fare home in case he changes his mind, and wants to come back. 

The Episode Review

There is a lot to like about this first episode, especially if you don’t know much about Cary Grant before he became a legendary Hollywood star. The episode charts his humble beginnings as a young boy in the south of England called Archie Leach, and his very troubled childhood.

There is a lot of good stuff in this episode, but a lot of different timelines going on at the same time, which isn’t confusing as such, it’s just a lot of stories going on simultaneously. It might’ve been more beneficial to focus this story in chronological order to avoid it feeling like it’s all over the place.

Jason Isaacs nails his performance as Cary Grant. However, some of the supporting cast let this episode down with their terrible American accents and below-par acting. 


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