This episode starts with Casey on air saying, "With his superior reach and much-ballyhooed punching power, Willis has been the second-best light heavyweight in the world over the last two years. Tomorrow night, could he become the best? Mike Greenwey is live," and they throw to Greenwey live at Bally’s Park Palace in Atlantic City. Explain to me please why Greenwey needs to report live before the fight. And please explain to me how CSC landed the rights to broadcast this fight live, instead of forcing boxing fans to pay $79.95 for pay-per-view. Anyway, we move to shots of various production people bustling or sitting around the control room.
Now that Casey and Dan are off air, they start throwing punches at each other and quizzing each other on which types of punches they’re throwing. Casey throws nothing but left jabs, except Dan still can’t figure out the pattern and dodge and find an opening until finally Casey tags him with a right. Then Casey says, "Lull you to sleep with the left jab, knock you out with the crushing right." Dan is making this "yeah, yeah" face, probably because Casey is an expert at lulling people to sleep. Then they put their dukes up again, and I know most women would roll their eyes at this scene, but it seemed real to me -- it reminded me of when I was about ten and my friends and I went to see Rocky IV and we were all pumped at the surprise ending (SPOILER -- Rocky beats all odds to win) and so we gleefully beat the crap out of each other in the parking lot and I broke my friend Logan’s nose. Good times, good times. Then again, we were ten. Anyway, we learn that Casey was once knocked out by a haymaker from Stevie Green in the third grade. Let it go, Casey. Dan can’t believe Casey got a fat lip from a haymaker, since he should have seen it coming. Casey claims Stevie kicked him, too. In the mouth? Did he say Stevie Green or little Stevie Seagal? This scene is annoying because last week the editing of the "coming up next week" scenes totally left the impression that Casey accidentally clocks Dan. Sadly, this doesn’t happen.
Meanwhile, in the control room, Dana and Natalie finally decide to take a time-out from making non-stop "men!" faces and start delivering lines. Natalie starts nattering on at Dan, asking him if he’s seen the schedule she put on his desk, and Dan says he hasn’t but he’ll look at it. Natalie starts telling him what’s on the schedule, while Dan keeps promising to look at it. This goes on almost interminably until Dan says, "Natalie?" "Yeah?" "There’s a schedule on my desk?" "Yeah." "I’ll look at it," and Natalie says, "Thank you," only she kind of sounded like Apu on The Simpsons when he says, "Thank you! Come again!" Then Dan says, "That girl generates a lot of paperwork," even though he obviously doesn’t want her to just tell him what’s on the schedule. Natalie tells him she heard that, so he repeats it for some reason, then adds, "Maybe too much," while making a full-body "little too much" gesture. Dana asks Natalie if they’re "there" and Natalie affirms that they are. Dana says, "These guys know everything they’re supposed to know, they’re going to be hot tomorrow night?" Natalie says, "Sure." Dana says, "I’m asking, are they ready?" Oh, we missed that the first two times you asked it. Natalie says, "If they’re not, they only have themselves to blame." Nice team spirit, Natalie. Dana quite rightly says, "That may be so, but I have you to blame, so make sure they are in gear." Casey and Dan are currently trying to figure who knows more about boxing than they do, and they determine that only boxers, boxing experts, and boxing fans do. Which is great, except it means they expect boxing fans with more knowledge to tune in and watch their coverage. Casey is making rah-rah positive-attitude statements like "We are going to nail this!" and "We are going to stick the landing!" while Dan ignores him. Casey says they are "game-day players" even though it’s not game day. Then he gets a paper cut. I wish I were making that up, because how lame is that? Dan asks, with way more concern than is necessary, "You all right?" and Casey promises to "play through it" and Dan says okay, and Casey says, "I play with pain!" over-dramatically, and it was actually funny. Sports Night plays its Comedic Moment music and Dana and Natalie look at each other with their respective "men and their shenanigans!" faces. Natalie is indulgently smiling, while Dana is all dour and looks like someone pissed in her Dating Plan cornflakes. Commercials.
The next day, Dan is meeting his dad, who is played by none other than Peter Riegert, who played Boone in Animal House, my all-time favourite movie (actually, my all-time favourite movie switches among Animal House, Slap Shot, Die Hard, and The Battleship Potemkin. It depends what kind of mood I’m in). Danny and his dad hug and make small talk about traffic and stuff, Danny a little more animatedly than his dad. Danny says they’ve ordered pizza and wants to know if his dad can stay awhile. Mr. Rydell makes an "ehh" face and explains that he’s "double-parked down there." Dan says okay and then takes his dad on a tour, because his dad hasn’t been there since they moved into the new studio, or something. Mr. Rydell is showing no interest or emotion whatsoever. Dan crows about how the new place is twice as big as the old place. Then Danny says that normally there wouldn’t be so many people there, but it’s for the special coverage. I don’t know that there’re more people then normal, especially since the extras are doing a better job of staying away from the camera this week, in stark contrast to the Berlin-Wall-coming-down-esque crowds in last week’s episode. Mr. Rydell asks, "What special coverage?" Dan says, "The fight! Dad! Come on," and Mr. Rydell makes "right, right" noises and apologizes. Dan starts explaining what a big deal the fight is and says, "It’s an expensive match and it’s the kind of thing that…" and he trails off, forgetting the rest of his line. Then he goes on, "Our ratings are tracking right now at 4.1, that’s like twice our normal numbers. That’s like 4.5 million households, Dad." And Mr. Rydell is looking all over the place and barely paying attention. They arrive in Dan’s office and Dan starts playing with a baseball. "4.5 million isn’t that many, is it?" asks Mr. Rydell. Ouch. "It’s not for cable," says Dan. "Don’t the big shows get about 20 million?" says Dan’s dad, all up on the Nielsen ratings. "Those shows are on cable," says Danny. Mr. Rydell thought they were on cable, and Danny explains, "That’s cable access, it’s something different." And Mr. Rydell nods, but his eyes say, "Okay, whatever." Can anybody tell me if that Raging Bull poster was up in Dan’s office before this boxing-themed episode?