Episode 321--"going limp"

Writer
Hugh O'Neil
Director
Melanie Mayron
Air Date
5/1/90, 8/28/90, 4/23/91
Guest Star
Charles Rocket as Don DeLisle; Adilah Barnes as [unknown]; Robert King as [unknown]; Raynor Scheine as [unknown]; Catlin Adams as [unknown]; David Clennon as Miles Drentell; Andra Millan as Angel Wasserman; Martin Sacks as Assistant Director; Robin Morse as DAA secretary; Stephen Kay as editor; Si PIcker as Benjamin Franklin; Gale "Yes, I'm Melanie's sister" Mayron as Production Assistant

Obvious choices for the unknown roles are the two women seen frequently with DeLisle, Harmon Meyer the city Hall rep, and Brenda the concessions lady. I have no idea who played Jimmy D--for all that his name came up all the time, he was never satisfactorily explained.

Synopsis
Elliot gets to direct a commercial about Philadelphia for City Hall; panic and insecurity ensue.
Summary
Elliot and Ethan are stuck in horrible traffic, but they make it home to Nancy who is getting over a round of chemotherapy. Ellyn asks D.A.A. to do a public service announcement about Philadelphia youth, so Michael and Elliot put their heads together and it sends Elliot into paroxyms of ecstasy coming up with ideas and begging Michael to let him direct. Nancy is supportive of his efforts.

The city hall people and D.A.A. have a huge pow wow and Ellyn pulls Michael out, expressing her sincere concerns about Elliot, but Michael backs him up. Elliot works hard (even calling people at C.A.A. on the West Coast) and manages to land Ron DeLisle, a famous actor and native of Philadelphia, for the spot. The City Hall people continue to express some concern that the spot is losing simplicity. Ron DeLisle shows up and makes Elliot look very good.

Michael gets rid of his desk and moves everything to the pool table surface. Miles stops by to express his own concern, which means that Michael has to go and talk to Elliot about staying inside his bounds. The night before filming, Ethan asks Elliot what the director does on the set and somehow this sends Elliot into a tailspin.

The next morning, Elliot completely freaks and Michael can't calm him down. They meet a concessions worker named Brenda who knew Ron DeLisle and asks them to say hello for her and deliver a phone number. There is much extended work on the set which leads to confusion and running over time. Meanwhile, Ron sits around, twiddling his thumbs, gets upset, leaves, and even Miles shows up to express displeasure. Elliot realizes that the first day went horribly and gets quite drunk that night, but Nancy tries to cheer him up.

The next day goes much the same, with everyone watching on and Elliot overdirecting to Ron, who continues to twiddle his thumbs. After Elliot makes Ron do eight million takes of his one line, Ron blows up and rakes him over the coals quite harshly. Ashamed and embarrassed, Elliot doesn't put up a fight, but remembers at the last moment to tell Ron that Brenda said hello and gives him the phone number. This affects Ron profoundly and he agrees to one last take.

When the spot is done, the group invites Elliot to come watch it in the screening room; he walks there slowly to the music of 2001: Space Odyssey. Miles likes the piece very much and everyone is proud of Elliot.

Stuck in traffic on the way home, Nancy says how nice it was that Elliot had not been afraid to need her for the first time since the surgery. The episode closes oddly with a motorycle cop leading them out of traffic and a number of seemingly significant but incomprehensible symbols (e.g., a woman walks by carrying a bunch of balloons in the same colors as those used in the commercial spot) go by as Elliot himself descends into the frame on a director's crane.

Notes
  • Reference is made to the deal that the Michael and Elliot Company lost with City Hall in the first season ("nice work if you can get it")
  • Reuben Amaro was a shortstop for the Phillies
  • Ellyn lights up a cigarette
  • TCR 3B5 is the license plate of the Weston mobile
  • Ron DeLisle was hired for $7,500
  • There's a bottle of Mylanta visible behind Elliot's clock as it ticks away his sleepless hours the night before the commercial shoot (somewhat prophetic of his heavy drinking of alcohol the next night);
  • Fashion
    Elliot wears a jacket pin shaped like a motorcycle and another shaped like a wreath.
    Goofs/Inside Joke
    Nathan Olson wrote to observe-- "In one scene when they're getting ready to shoot the Philadelphia PSA, someone puts up one of those scene things (the thing with the hinged piece of wood that shows the scene number; what is that damn thing CALLED?)-- instead of reading D.A.A. or whatever on it, the "scene thing" actually says "thirtysomething"; I think upside down."

    This has in fact been confirmed and there's a screen capture of it up at Bob Fahey's page.

    Missing Scenes
    The missing scene is right after Elliot comes home drunk and talks to Nancy. The next scene shows Elliott in the kitchen of his home eating at the counter, still in his clothes from the day before and the sounds of morning are outside. Ethan walks in and tells Elliot he tried to talk to him the night before but said he fell asleep. He asks Elliot if he had fun the day before, to which Elliot responds "Yeah, it was a riot." Ethan says his mom is going to bring him to see his dad that day. Elliot says, "Gee, I don't know you might get bored." Ethan responds, "I won't get bored". Elliot says "Yeah, you're right, I gotta go." Ethan says, "Just don't put that dumb liberty bell in the commercial," and Elliot responds, "Yeah, ok", and kisses Ethan, and walks to the door.

    Elliot walks outside his house and finds Michael on his front porch. He says, "You scared me, man", and Michael says, "I'm driving you in so we can go over your shots today." Elliot responds, "The hell you are!" Michael replies, "Elliot, don't fight me on this, all right. You're putting everybody on the line here." Elliot responds, "I'm not putting anybody on the line, I'm getting the job done." Michael responds, "I've gotta make sure of that". Elliot says, "Listen ,Michael, why don't you tell Miles you tried to rein me in, that way your conscious will be clear, and he won't fire you when he fires me." [Elliot is mad.] Michael, backs down and says, "Elliot....". Elliot looks at him and says, "Take a hike Michael". He leaves Michael on the steps and walks away. Michael looks hurt and concerned and the scene cuts to the front of the courthouse.

    Chris Ryerson also recalls:

    "I am sure there was a scene with Ellyn coming to Hope and Michael's late at night and asking Michael, "Is it a train wreck? Tell me it's not a train wreck." To which Michael dutifully replies, "It's not a train wreck." (They're talking about the filming, natch.)"*

    Quotes
    "...and I will be unhappy, and I am rarely unhappy alone." --Miles
    Analysis

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The dashed line marks the point where Lisa Stevenson Blackwell's original version of this page ended, and where Bob Fahey began adding material.

    Three scenes cut and one shortened in Lifetime version. - [1/06/07] Luiza Hirsch (Luiza@gmx.org) has both the Lifetime versions and the unedited versions aired in Germany. She confirms the above-described scenes were cut, and provides details on the "train wreck" scene, saying not only was it cut, but so was the end of the scene immediately preceding it (Michael talking with Elliot at DAA). She writes:
    After "Iíve got it under control," Elliot adds, "Look at these cards."

    Michael: Great, the colors are fantastic. Work with Jimmy D., Elliot, heíll help you out.
    Elliot, angrily: I donít need anyone to help me out.
    Michael: Ok

    In the next scene, Ellyn is about to leave the Steadman home, Michael sees her out. Itís dark out but thereís no way of telling how late it is or why she came over to the house in the first place.
    Ellyn: Just tell me it isnít a train wreck.
    Michael: It isnít a train wreck. Youíve seen the cards. Heís prepared.
    Ellyn: Alright, but youíll always be there to hold his hand.
    Michael: Iíll always be there to hold his hand.
    Ellyn: Ok, but maybe Iíd better call him.
    Michael: You donít need to call him, everything is going great.
    Ellyn: Ok. (Moves out the door, turns right on her heel) Iíll call him.
    Michael: No, donít call him, youíre not responsible anymore. Elliot and I are, particularly Elliot. You can come and watch tomorrow if you like.
    Ellyn, angrily: Stop making fun of me.
    Michael, smiling: No, come watch, youíll like it. (With his inimitable Michael smile:) Itís like Hollywood.
    Ellyn, sarcastically: Oh, really?
    Michael, impatiently: Goodbye, Ellyn.
    Ellyn: Goodbye. (He shuts the door behind her).
    Ellyn (to herself): Itís a train wreck.
    Michael (to himself): Itís a train wreck.

    Is it a train wreck?