This episode opens with the "five minutes to air" warning and Dan and Casey are getting ready, and Dan announces he has some good news: "From now on, I’m not Dan, I’m not Danny, I’m Daniel." Okay, stop it right there. I hope I didn’t just hear I think I heard. Dan is now Daniel? We get some long-winded explanation about how when Dan joined the union, there already was a Daniel Rydell, but that guy has since died, and Dan shows a little too much glee about finally being able to inherit the "Daniel." I mean, I agree that it’s extremely special and all to be called Daniel, but I find it hard to believe that this union has some rule against having two or more people with the same name. ["The Screen Actors Guild does, but I don’t know whether a broadcaster would belong to that union." -- Sars] Second of all, has Dan considered all the ramifications of the name change? I’m sure as Dan or Danny he has been saddled with a variety of nicknames, including, but not limited to: Danny Boy, Dano (as in, "Book ‘em, Dano"), Danny Bonaduce, Dan the Man, occasionally Dan the Man with the Plan, and once, bizarrely, Dan the Man with the Plan on the Street with the Beat and I still don’t even know what the hell that was supposed to mean. I can’t even count the number of times someone has started singing to me, "Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling," and then cracked up as if they are the first person in history to think of something so clever. Even the name "Daniel" isn’t immune to nickname-ification, since you constantly are subjected to horrifying Pat Morita impressions by people calling you "Daniel-san," as if comparing me to Ralph Macchio will endear you to me.
Anyway. Danny repeats again, "I’m Daniel," and I have to say that obviously the Sports Night writers are now checking out Mighty Big TV and this is a big shout-out to me from ABC. The Anchor Twins greet Jeremy, who is getting off the phone, and Dan tells Jeremy, "I’m Daniel now," like welcome to my world, Dan, and Jeremy says he was on the phone with some woman whose name he can’t remember now, which is weird, but then we realize it’s a contrived setup so Dan can say, "Was it Daniel?" No, it wasn’t me calling to announce my displeasure at this subplot that might be an attempt to fight back against MBTV, like GOOD LUCK. You guys don’t scare me. Jeremy says it was a publicist at a cosmetics company that is promising them "five minutes with MJ." Five minutes with Moose Jaw? Now I KNOW this episode is a big ol’ shout-out to me. But no, for the purposes of this episode, MJ apparently stands for Michael Jordan, so let’s all suspend our disbelief that either "Sports Night" the SportsCenter wannabes or Sports Night the ABC show carry enough clout to earn a guest spot from Michael Jordan. Anyway, the fact that it was a publicist from a cosmetics company finally sets off some alarm bells, and Dan figures out that Jordan has a new cologne coming out. The Anchors decide they don’t care and they’re happy Jordan called them, except Dan doesn’t think Casey looks especially happy, and Casey says he is, just that he has some concerns.
Now the boys are coming up on Natalie in the corridor and Dan puts his arm around her and asks her what she thinks of "Daniel Rydell," and I really wish Sports Night would drop this already. Natalie asks him if he’s starting to refer to himself in the third person, which she thinks is "awfully annoying," and I agree, and Natalie also thinks it’s annoying when people change their pronunciation "midstream," like when "Tony DOR-sett" becomes "Tony Dor-SETT." What I think is a lot more common is journalists who make assumptions about pronunciation and spelling (not just sports journalists, though) and don’t bother to double-check names, and therefore incorrect names become common usage and really difficult to correct. Exhibit A: Hakeem Olajuwon, who for the longest time was "Akeem" Olajuwon, basically because he was too polite to correct anyone. Or Dominik Hasek, which was pronounced "Hah-sick" initially and suddenly became "Hah-shick" when someone probably guessed that maybe this Czech name wasn’t pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled. Anyway, really bizarrely, Natalie goes off on Prince for not being content to be called by one "pretentious" name in a lifetime, now she has to learn to "draw the symbol for boron." Okay: 1) She better not be going off on my man Prince. 2) Let me check the copyright date on the album that introduced the Symbol to the world. Hmmmm. 1992. Isn’t that interesting. EIGHT YEARS AGO. Get over it, Natalie. Besides, everyone knows he is now known as simply The Artist. 3) Maybe Natalie would like to explain just how often a sports show producer needs to draw the symbol for Prince. 4) You know what’s worse than referring to oneself in the third person and changing the pronunciation of one’s name? How about frustrated stand-up comics working material into whatever show they happen to be writing for to pay the rent, especially when it’s such stale, dated, irrelevant-to-the-show, and, worst of all, UNFUNNY material. 5) Natalie appears to have some boron up her ass for no reason I can tell, except maybe that she never gets any good plots anymore. 6) Shut up, Natalie.