First Aired: January 17, 2002
Plot: Brian frets that he will never find an intelligent woman to love; after drinking heavily, he is caught for drunk driving. For his community service, he is sentenced to participate in the “Outreach to the Elderly” program and is assigned to a mean-tempered, elderly shut-in named Pearl Burton. Brian tries to deal with Pearl as patiently as he can, but after absorbing her abuse for several weeks, he loses his temper, releases his own storm of verbal abuse upon her, and storms away.
Watching television that night, Brian sees a Mysteries and Scandals show on E! about Pearl. In the 1940s and 1950s, she was a very successful “jingle singer,” attractive and possessing a beautiful voice. Her attempt to become a normal, “serious” singer was a failure; in her 1961 debut at Carnegie Hall, the audience simply kept demanding that she perform their favorite jingles. After this disgrace, she disappeared from the public eye.
Brian is amazed to discover that there is much more to Pearl than the cranky old woman he has seen. He returns to Pearl’s house just as she is preparing to hang herself. He apologizes to her and tells her that he had never heard a more beautiful version of “Habanera” (from Bizet’s opera Carmen) before. Brian spends much more time with Pearl on a voluntary basis, and they grow very close and affectionate. Through an extravagant musical number, Brian encourages Pearl to overcome her agoraphobia.
Heartened by Brian’s belief in her, Pearl strides proudly into the street, where she is immediately struck by a truck. Brian accompanies her to the hospital, where Pearl tells him not to blame himself; it had been the best day of her life. Brian shares a virtual reality experience with her in which they marry, have children, and grow old together; Pearl quietly passes away as the vision ends.
Meanwhile, Peter decides to grow a beard and a rare bird nests in his facial hair. Initially irritated by the squawking, Peter is delighted to discover that three baby birds are growing in his beard. Peter’s paternal instincts take over, and he becomes a better parent to the birds than he ever was to his own children. When they mature, he tries to keep them from leaving his beard but finally has to bid them a sad farewell.