DIANNE BUTLER OUT OF THE BOX
THIS is a startling tale of cauliflower picking in Mexico. Twenty years ago Burt Chance was kidnapped at gunpoint when he and Virginia— baby Jimmy in tow — were stopped at a service station on a hot day.
Virginia was inside standing in front of an open drinks fridge, Jimmy was jumping up and down on the front seat of the car. And Burt, well, the details are hazy, but a man with a long ponytail took him to Mexico and forced him to pick cauliflower.
‘‘ That’s the reason your father’s always hated cauliflower,’’ says Virginia (Martha Plimpton) as she breaks the news to the family. Jimmy (Lucas Neff): ‘‘ I thought it was because it’s not a real flower and it looks like brains.’’
If only that was where the story ended. But the kidnapper turns up at the door tonight. Jimmy, sweet and guileless, invites him in with one of those ‘‘ any friend of dad’s is a friend of mine’’ welcomes.
Things seem to be going well until Virginia recognises him, sneaks up and knocks him unconscious with the television.
And then the blanks are filled in, what happened to Burt in those missing weeks in 1992 while he was away, and to Virginia. Stockholm Syndrome set in quickly, abetted by kidnapper Jack’s ponytail. Burt, as he tells him early on in their relationship, is a big hair fan.
At home Virginia was being molly-coddled by Officer Ross. He’s still living on their ‘‘ movie date’’ from grade six, when the class had to watch a film on the reproductive sys- tem. He’s counting on Burt dying in Mexico.
But Virginia soon notices the difference with Ross in the house — the family’s nicer to each other, more co-operative, ‘‘ like poor white Cosbys’’. The Chances have never faced a crisis like this. Raising Hope Eleven, 8pm
Guileless: Lucas Neff