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Playing House - Gwen or Lose/Paging Doctor Yes Please - Review: "Meddling in My Business, Again"

When the Playing House crew meddles in each other's business, they take it all the way. "Gwen or Lose" and "Paging Doctor Yes Please" both focus on characters meddling in their loved ones business, with surprising results.

"Gwen or Lose" begins with Mark coaching the Pinebrook ladies' basketball team for their big match against their rival town- Danbury. Everyone's getting involved in the hopes of finally beating Danbury this year. Mark's coaching, Maggie's refereeing, Bruce is sponsoring and announcing, and, much to Emma's horror, apparently her mother Gwen is playing.

Emma's only recently told Gwen that she and Mark are back together, and she's convinced her mother's sudden appearance on the basketball team is an attempt to break them up. Knowing her mom's historic dislike of Mark, in addition to the fact that she's suddenly hosting team movie nights and making not-so-subtle basketball allusions to Mark hurting Emma, it doesn't seem like too much of a leap for Emma to come to this conclusion.

In an attempt to keep an eye on Gwen, Emma joins the basketball team, which doesn't work out so well for the Pinebrook ladies, because, to put it lightly, Emma sucks at anything remotely related to sports. Still convinced that Gwen's around to make things difficult, Emma tries to get Mark to quit the team, which he makes clear isn't happening. In fact, he says he's already talked to Gwen and resolved any potential issues.

With the team getting ready for the big game, things seem to be looking good. Gwen and Emma are more or less getting along, with Emma finally convinced her mother really did join the team just to play basketball. However, as they're getting ready to take the court, Gwen decides it's a good time to come clean- in front of the whole team. Not only does she admit she joined the team just to watch Mark and Emma, but she ends up letting a couple of other old secrets slip. Mark finds out that she was the one who advised Emma not to marry him and Emma finds out that Mark apparently came to the door the night before she left for China, only to be told by Gwen that she'd already left.

Nevertheless, the game begins...and seems to be a total disaster. Mark, Emma, and Gwen are at each others' throats. Pinebrook is getting their butts kicked. In the midst of all the chaos, Emma and Gwen finally hash it out on the bench. Gwen admits she didn't want Emma to make the same mistakes she did. She married Emma's dad young and never got to experience the world. To keep Emma from following in her footsteps, she did what she could to derail Mark and Emma's romance 15 years ago.

But times have changed and she's realized Mark and Emma aren't going to be a repeat of her own marriage. With everything out in the air, Pinebrook comes together to catch up to Danbury. Granted, they still lose, mostly because Gwen decided to pass the ball to Emma in the final moments.

The day ends on quite the happy note. Throughout the episode, Maggie's been terrified of the undeniable fact that Charlotte's growing up. Strangely enough, it takes a talk from Bruce, of all people, to convince her that Charlotte growing up maybe isn't such a bad thing. Content with the fact that she isn't always going to be a baby, Maggie, Bruce, Emma, and Mark joyfully watch Charlotte take her first steps.


- Mary Pat, with her "free-balling," elbow-shoving, foul causing stunts, really is a comedic gift to humankind.

- Bruce's suit was terrible and perfect all at the same time.

- Somebody get Mr. Nanjiani the phone number for Gambler's Anonymous. It's looks like he's going to need it after that game.

"Paging Doctor Yes Please" throws viewers right back into Maggie's work life. The hospital is shooting a commercial and Maggie is asked by Dr. Erikson (aka Dr. Freeze aka Winter is Coming) to be in it with him. Maggie agrees, and she and Doctor Erikson find themselves stuck with an eccentric director who's intent on winning another "Duster" ("basically the Oscars for industrial").

Despite this, the two seem to be it hitting off and making the commercial work. Emma, who watched Maggie and Dr. Erikson interact on a recent visit to see Maggie at the hospital, shows up during filming to encourage Maggie to make a move. Maggie's all set to ask him to lunch when she turns around to find a strange lady with a chunky wedge sandal planting one on the good doctor. This throws
Maggie off her game, and sends the filming into disarray.

As Maggie's wrecking the commercial, her brother Zach is attempting to teach a bike safety class to kids. Bruce shows up with Charlotte in toe for class, and seeing as Charlotte's a little young to learn to ride a bike, Zach is understandably confused. Eventually, he pries the real reason out of Bruce- it's not Charlotte who needs to learn to ride a bike, but him. So, Bruce, all but 30 years too late, begins the process of learning to ride a bike. He takes a few tumbles, but eventually gets it, before riding off sans Charlotte.

Back at the hospital, Maggie and Dr. Erikson get a chance to talk, and Maggie finds out that Chunky Wedge Lady isn't his girlfriend, but a handsy producer who probably needs a refresher course in workplace sexual harassment.The two share a brief "moment" before going to conduct a physical exam.

Unfortunately for Maggie, Emma's already formulated a plane to find out more information about Dr. Erikson-by booking herself a physical with him! Although Maggie pretends not to know her, Emma eventually fesses up to her plane. Dr. Erikson seems even more interested in Maggie and things seem to be taking off. And then they find a lump on Emma's breast.

This is when the episode turns from hilarious to heartbreaking, because despite everyone's initial doubts, they quickly find out it is indeed cancer. They've caught it early, and Dr. Erikson seems confident that the cancer is very treatable, but this doesn't stop Maggie and Emma from the realization that their life is about to change.

Back at home, Maggie comforts Emma. As a very excited Bruce and Zach walk in on the pair of crying girls, they realize something is very wrong.


- Zach's "Head-Melon" demonstration might be the most hysterical, but effective tool to ever grace the bike safety field.

- Why am I not surprised that Emma likes to steal gauze and wrap Charlotte up like a mummy?

- The most memorable line of the episode might have to be when Bruce rides away after learning to ride a bike. Bruce is ready for the open road, but Zach knows where he'll end up- "We'll pick him up at Sizzler's."

- The fact that Emma's cancer is inspired by actress Jessica St. Clair's real life battle with breast cancer makes the situation all the more stingingly real. Hopefully Emma gets the same happy ending as her portrayer did.