Episode 308--"the burning bush"


Susan Shilliday


Mary Beth Fielder

Air Date

11/28/89, 1/15/91

Guest Star

Kate Hodge as Hope at 17; Kelly Wolf as Ellyn at 17; Tyra Ferrell as Ricky Bianca; J.D. Souther as John Dunaway; Richard Gilliand as Jeffrey Milgrow; Ben Lemon as Mr. Palliser


Ellyn begins seeing Jeffrey Milgrom and Hope finds out, causing them to re-evaluate their friendship.


Lower Merion High School, April, 1970: Hope and Ellyn are friends in high school, smoking out back in the bushes, and agitating for a student bill of rights when Hope finds out that Ellyn is going away for the weekend with Mark McCreary and his friends.

Present day: Ellyn is doing laundry at the Steadman's and trying to collaborate with Hope on an article entitled "A User's Guide to Therapists." Ellyn mentions Ricky Bianca and the Fairfield Creek Incinerator Project as a possible cause Hope might want to get involved in. Hope is pregnant again, but can't manage to bring it up with Ellyn. While swimming laps at the pool, Ellyn runs into Jeffrey Milgrom. They are beginning a flirtation and race laps.

1970: Ellyn and Hope try to recruit Mr. Palliser, a faculty member, for their bill of rights cause. Hope and Ellyn walk back to their car and see Mark McCreary. Ellyn goes over to talk to him, and Hope is basically disgusted since she thinks he's a bad influence.

Present day: Ellyn is buzzing in and out, bringing info on the Fairfield Creek project as well as their article for Hope, and seeming to want to go in a lighter, funnier direction that her perpetually sober friend. Ellyn is still seeing Jeffrey after the gym, having coffee, talking about why Ellyn quit swimming for a while. There is a lingering undercurrent that Jeffrey and Valerie aren't getting along.

1970: The petition isn't going well and the student body rejects it. Hope more openly shows her disapproval of Ellyn's upcoming trip to New York. Ellyn begs Hope to come along, but she doesn't want to.

Present day: Ellyn and Hope have very different visions about the article and Hope seems to be reluctant, which Ellyn has trouble understanding since she doesn't see Hope as having much else on her plate at the moment. Nancy comes over to borrow a sleeping bag and Hope is able to share the pregnancy with her.

Ellyn talks to her therapist about her drifting relationship with Hope and brings up her drifting thoughts about Jeffrey. Hope goes to see Jeffrey to sign the will and asks if the pregnancy affects anything. While she is still in the office, Jeffrey takes a call from Ellyn and they agree to meet at a bookstore to pick up something for his daughter, Christie (from his first marriage), who is 12 and has lived with him and Valerie for two years. While in the bookstore, Hope turns up, which makes Ellyn dodge behind a bookcase, and then creates some awkward introductions, forcing the realization between her and Jeffrey of them that this really is turning into some kind of an affair.

Hope gets volunteered to host the Fairfield incinerator meeting, but Ellyn can't come to help since it would be a conflict of interest. The main speaker at the meeting is John Dunaway, a slightly rumpled, fairly sexy, resistance type. Ricky Bianca visits with Hope afterwards and shares that she saw Ellyn earlier with a guy matching Jeffrey's description. Ellyn and Jeffrey meet in a parking lot and talk through what's going on, Jeffrey admitting that he was instantly taken with her when they met at the party. Ellyn is making half-hearted attestations that they should just walk away, but they end up at a small bar, slow-dancing.

1970: Waiting in the principal's office, Ellyn confesses that she slept with Mark when they went to visit his brother's dorm at Temple University, but didn't tell Hope for two weeks since she was afraid of the reaction.

Present day: Hope presses Ellyn about seing Jeffrey, coming down fairly strongly on the marriage and commitment side. Ellyn retreats into calling Hope moralistic, afraid of compromise and messy reality. Ellyn goes to the loft and asks Melissa's opinion. Melissa cautions her against it somewhat, but doesn't seem to have a very strong position against the relationship either.

Ellyn meets Jeffrey and tells Jeffrey that he means too much to her to walk away, that Hope knows, that Hope doesn't think it's right, but that Hope didn't convince her. Jeffrey then tells her that they can't see each other and that it isn't fair to anyone, so they have to stop, which sets Ellyn back and hurts her very much. Hope and Ellyn meet for lunch and Hope finally tells her that she's pregnant. They realize that they'll never write the article together and are left wondering what's happened to their friendship.

1970: Hope temporarily "runs away", apologizes to Ellyn, and joins her on the trip to New York.

Hope awkwardly asks how Jeffrey is, Ellyn replies that he was fine, and the conversation trails off as the diner music continues--"Baby, it's You."


  • Lower Merion High School mascot was the Bulldogs
  • Ellyn was on the high school swim team and a star
  • Hope dated Howie in high school, with whom she did not quite go "all the way"
  • Hope and Ellyn met in 5th grade
  • John Dunaway and the Fairfield incinerator turn up for the first time
  • Ellyn loved the Narnia Chronicles as a child
  • Ellyn's shrink is named Dr. Winston
  • Hope drives a red VW bug back in 1970
  • Fashion

    Mel Harris is wearing "loose, flowing" clothing, which suggests that she was already visibly pregnant, since the pregnancy was written into the role for her. It also makes one ask if the miscarriage in Season Two was written in as well.



    --"What's happening over there [at Synergy?]" --John Dunaway

    --"They've got a couple of corporate munchkins with crystals and bad biorhythms." --Hope, who is not bitter at all

    "Well, great big Brownie hi right back to Ricky Bianca." --Ellyn, upon being found out

    "You have to make choices. There are some rules, aren't there?" --Hope


  • The actresses they got to play the young Hope and Ellyn were extremely well cast. They looked, acted, and sounded just like younger versions., except for the minor fact that Hope at 17 had a much larger chest than Hope at 34 while breast feeding, which strikes me as incongruous. OK, I'm biased and I adore Kate Hodge. It's a sorry rip that she hasn't gotten more visible roles. Still, it was the scariest thing since Mayim Balik as the young Bette Midler in Beaches.
  • OK, on the subject of Kate Hodge. She went on to star in the short-lived (but much beloved) British series She-Wolf of London (later re-named Love and Curses when production moved to L.A.). In the episode "Little Bookshop of Horrors," the action opened with a yuppie couple named Hope and Michael discussing Michael's job, which involved such characters as Elliot and Miles. There was a takeover of the company impending and Michael was involved in this. For reasons related to the overall episode plot, Hope flipped out, thought she was the Queen of Hearts, and took off Michael's head with an axe, thus providing the impetus for the investigation by Kate Hodge's character. I don't know if she had anything to do with suggesting the bit, but she had just recently guest starred on thirtysomething and that might've sparked the scriptwriter.
  • B.M. Greschak has written in with the suspicion that Polly Draper's voice was dubbed over Kelly Wolf's lines. I don't have the episode, but can anyone confirm that?
  • If Hope is 17 in this, where is Danny Garver? It is asserted more than once in later episodes that they were together for a significant portion of high school, were well-known as a couple, and slept together. It seems here that Hope is more of an outsider, dated sporadically, and was still a virgin.
  • Verna Kulish has written in to confirm that J.D. Souther is indeed the same man who sang "Her Town" with James Taylor. Note also how his initials match the character name, John Dunaway.
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