So this week's fictional show was terrible, which has Matt in a tizzy. It also came up forty seconds short, which no one noticed, apparently, until the show actually aired. This turns out to be the fault of cardboard hacks Ricky and Ron, who are -- as hacks will do -- plotting to leave the show and take a crappy sketch with them and make it into a pilot. They don't realize, of course, that what they're doing will suck until Matt tells them so. Nevertheless, they leave, because they are foolish and do not accept his wisdom. They wind up taking most of the rest of the writers with them, which purifies the whole show and leaves the writing staff as it was meant to be -- just Matt the insufferable genius and a couple of inexperienced losers to whom he can feel superior, who will never challenge him, and are in no position to tell him when he sucks. That, as you know, is how you get dynamite collaborations. Meanwhile, Jordan and Danny spend the episode flirting and dancing around the concern that she's going to get fired, not to mention the fact that she wants Danny to cut the budget. As if all this wasn't enough, Harriet is busy receiving an episode-long lecture from Tom and Simon about why she shouldn't let a magazine make her into something cheap by taking pictures of her in her underwear. They do this, of course, while dropping copious comments about how much they appreciate her hot bod. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that Harriet only wants to do the lingerie shoot because she's upset. That's how girls are, you know. Hilariously, these two guys have to point out to Harriet that her conservative/religious nature would play interestingly with some men's libidos in a naughty-purity kind of way, because while she's been in professional comedy environments for years, no one has ever suggested this to her and she's never thought of it. In the end, after talking to The Way, The Truth, and The Matt, Harriet realizes that she doesn't really want to do it, just like he tells her she doesn't. Did you hear that, istin-Kray enoweth-Chay? Elsewhere, over in the office, Danny realizes that nobody will notice giant billboards on the set if you disguise them as giant billboards on the set. Genius! Overall, the episode doesn't suck as hard as some of the others have, provided you don't mind the gross virgin/whore crap and the blindingly petty "this one is for my EX" writing style. If it gets a little better, it might actually be as good as your average, entirely pedestrian television drama.
Previously on Okay, This Isn't What We Meant By "Write What You Know": Harriet was too much of a gay-person-liker for the Christian women who raised her from a tiny, oblivious appleseed, but she was too much of a Christian for the hooligays. So Tom pushed one of them and got arrested, but his brother was stuck in the middle of you-know-where, so the Honorable John Goodman overcame his flyover stupidity and let Tom off the hook, and it took ten jillion years to get there, and still nothing happened. Wilson "I Hate Spunk" White was pissed off that Jordan was a PR disaster, and Brian Hackett warned Danny that Jordan's job was on the line. Matt's writing staff was composed entirely of inferior writers who didn't appreciate how lucky they were just to be in his presence, given that, without him, they would merely be waiting tables in, oh, I don't know...Cleveland (eyebrow-waggle). And Kristin Chenoweth posed in FHM, which clearly nobody has any hang-ups about at all.
Title card: "The Option Period." Like the credits of The West Wing, all the credits on this show are the font known as 18-point You Are About To See Something So Smart. We come in on the fictional S60's typical end-of-show goodnights, which we've seen a million times on Saturday Night Live, to the point where if you actually emulated them to this degree in a fictional universe also containing SNL, you would be crucified as a thief. We swing up to the offices, where an agitated Cal is on the prowl out of the control room. He barrels -- as much as Timothy Busfield ever barrels -- down the spiral stairs and finds his way to the writers' room. Ricky and Ron are there, oozing with hackery; Ricky appears to be throwing a ball against the wall or something. See? He is experiencing ennui. He doesn't care. "Do you know what happened?" Cal asks angrily. Ron congratulates Cal on getting there from the control room so fast. Cal just repeats, "Do you know what happened?" Ricky doesn't have any idea what has flown up Cal's nose and built a nest, and in response, Cal isn't sure the Hack Boys even watched the show. They promise that they did. Cal points out that they reached "goodnight" thirty-seven seconds early, which forced the show to let host and musical guest Jessica Simpson "fill" for thirty-seven seconds, which in turn resulted in her offering a prayer for "peace in the Midwest." So the freshness date on that Jessica Simpson/malapropism joke would be...what, 2003? Anyway, Ricky isn't sure why he's being blamed for this. Cal picks up a script page and compares it to another script, and he has a revelation and busts Ricky and Ron for having printed the script in the wrong format. Basically, what format you use in Final Draft dictates approximately how much time each page will fill, so using the wrong format threw off the estimate by thirty-seven seconds over a ninety-minute show. Now, call me crazy, but I really don't think that a show like this relies on the number of pages as its only indication that the show is going to fill ninety minutes as opposed to, say, eighty-nine minutes and thirty seconds. That seems...ridiculous. I mean, the pages are an estimate, yes, but isn't that part of what dress rehearsal is for? Nobody noticed that they were almost forty seconds short (an eternity in a show where an entire sketch is only a few minutes long) until the show was on the air? I think that would make more people assholes than just Ricky and Ron, starting with (I hate to say it) the director.