Sports Night
The Sweet Smell Of Air

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Daniel: B+ | Grade It Now!
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The Sweet Smell Of Air

Dana comes bustling in and asks, "Is he here?" meaning Sam. She’s very tense and tells everyone to start the show, so Natalie points out they’re still ninety seconds from air. Dana doesn’t care. "Start the show!" she orders, and Natalie insists they can’t, and Dana concedes that she might be right. Hands up, all those who think the metamorphosis of Dana from plucky, strong-willed executive producer into spastic, scatter-brained harridan is a positive evolution. Dana’s worried Sam will mess with the rundown. Natalie tells Dana not to let Sam make her crazy, as if that particular ship hasn’t already sailed. Dana insists she’s not "letting" him, that he is doing it all by himself. Jeremy tells her about the exclusive interview with Michael Jordan, and by "exclusive interview" I mean "PR sham." "Is that supposed to make me feel better?" snaps Dana and steers the conversation back to Sam breezing in and out of various cities and always right before the show and always tweaking the top of the rundown. Natalie tells Dana Sam’s got her psyched out, which Dana denies, but as she denies it, she grips Dave’s shoulder so hard I was surprised her fingers didn’t actually tear into his flesh.

Sam comes in. Woo hoo! Everyone seems happy to see him, except Dana, who says "welcome back" and "welcome back from England" in what I think was supposed to be an English accent, but sounded Irish if it sounded like anything at all, which it didn’t, really. Dana makes a snide comment about the need for a ratings consultant in England "in the dog-eat-dog world of the BBC." Sam picks up a clipboard and says, "How’s the rundown?" which lights Dana’s fuse, and she says, "The rundown’s fine," and Sam says, "It looks good," and Dana says, "What do you want to change?" all passive-aggressively. Sam says he doesn’t want to change anything and Dana calls him a liar, I guess aggressive-aggressively. She accuses him of always changing the top of the rundown at the last second just to see everybody scramble. Sam says he doesn’t do that, and Dana says, "Not this time, my British friend!" even though he’s from Philadelphia. Sam suggests Dana is a little psyched out and that maybe Natalie should run the show, which Natalie thinks is a good idea. I think Sam and Natalie are in cahoots! Well, I don’t really, but I like using the word "cahoots." Dana says she’s running the show, Sam’s not going to change the rundown (grabbing the clipboard), and she calls Sam "King George" in a reference to crazy old King George III, as in The Madness of King George, who incidentally founded my university in 1789, so this is yet another shout-out to me and they might as well go ahead and rename tonight’s episode "Shout-out to Daniel the Recapper" and get it over with. Dana announces she herself is changing the rundown, even though they are thirty seconds to air. Then she says a bunch of nonsensical industry-esque jargon and everybody stares at her until she snaps, "Do it!" and chaos erupts, everybody talking at once, shouting, changing the order. Sam watches the Madness of Queen Dana with a big grin on his face. As things calm down, Dana says, "Okay, that is exactly what you wanted me to do, isn’t it." Sam stares her down. Dana, suddenly unsure, says, "Go back. Go back!" and pandemonium again erupts with people barking orders again and it’s too bad they can’t just hit command-Z to undo. Dana says to Sam, "You’re having a really good time, aren’t you?" Sam says, "Yes. It’s good to be back," and he leaves the control room, smiling. There is something I love about William H. Macy, and it’s that he KICKS ASS.

Next, Casey is still wondering what to do for Charlie’s class and thinks that he’s good with his hands, so maybe he could build something. Dan points out that Casey is not in fact good with his hands. Blah blah blah for awhile. Danny suggests making a loaf of bread, but Casey doesn’t know how, so Dan tells him to fake it: "You sprinkle some flour, you pound some dough, ‘hey, look over there!’ you pull a loaf of Wonder out from under the desk." Dan is the least helpful friend in the history of friendship. And in the history of helping. I have a new name for him, and it rhymes with boron.

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Sports Night

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