Episode 412--"advanced beginners"


Winnie Holzman and Liberty Godshall


Deborah Reinisch

Air Date


Guest Stars

Liberty Godshall as Madison; Bruce Winant as Dr. Rawlins; April Ortiz as Lina; Erich Anderson as Billy Sidel; Adrian Sparks and Norma MacMillan as [unknown]


Billy's old girlfriend breezes through town bringing startling revelations with her.
Billy and Ellyn are spending lots of time together in bed and not particularly wanting to be apart or going to work either. However, they both realize that they should spend a litle time apart, so they agree that they won't go to Hope and Michael's dinner party, but do their own thing for the evening. They both show up though, see each other, and dive into a liplock. Gary and Melissa bump into each other and it's rather uncomfortable. In the middle of the party, Billy asks Ellyn to live with him which she finds very attractive, but she tries hard to say that they should take things slowly. It all degenerates into some kind of spontaneous combustion and they tear the apartment apart looking for a condom and end up in bed. The next morning, the building supervisor tells Billy that a boiler has burst and there won't be any heat or hot water for a few weeks, so he's "forced" to move in with Ellyn. So they pack up his cartoon gear and get ready to move it all which is when Madison Arnold, one of Billy's old girlfriends, bursts in and announces she's crashing for a few days while she's in town to buy Billy's car. While she and Ellyn bond quickly, Billy tries to break it to Madison that the heat's ben turned off and she can't stay there. Ellyn jumps in and offers her extra bedroom, so they all end up together at Ellyn's. Over dinner, Ellyn and Madison try to eat through gales of laughter while Billy looks like a trapped rat. Billy and Ellyn settle in for bed while Madison bumps around the apartment, singing, which causes Ellyn to put Billy off about sex. Hope and Melissa show up for some reason the next morning and stumble across the Madison situation and proceed to interrogate Ellyn as to why she's letting Madison stay. But when Hope and Melissa taste the muffins that she baked, they're won over instantly. Ellyn awakes to find Billy working in the middle of the night and they chat quietly. The next morning, she and Madison visit over breakfast and Madison mentions that the last time she saw Billy over in Boston, he just couldn't stop talking about Ellyn. That night at dinner, Ellyn asks Billy what he said about her to Madison, in a friendly, giggly way, but Billy acts strangely and doesn't answer. Later he is very straightforward and confesses to her that he and Madison slept together just once right after he and Ellyn began dating and went to Atlantic City. Breakfast the next morning after Billy spends the night on the couch is silent and uncomfortable and culminates with Madison taking off in a rush with all her things. Ellyn and Billy finally begin to argue about what has happened as Ellyn walks about in something of an angered trance while Billy does a halting job of apologizing and asking her to trust him again. Ellyn brings up the issue of AIDS and says that she wants them both to get tested. Hope and Ellyn go shopping for music, looking for Joan Armatrading, without success. Ellyn begins mumbling in her anger and tells Hope about it and Hope doesn't seem particularly concerned about it and tells her to give him a chance. While the doctor explains the testing procedure, Billy keeps trying to hold Ellyn's hand unsuccessfully. Upon returning, Ellyn asks him to leave because she just isn't handling the situation well and can't seem to trust him after what happened. Billy goes to play squash with Michael and they talk it through some, upon which Michael's recommendation is groveling. From work, Ellyn leaves a message on Billy's machine telling him that she had found a sketch book of his and arranging for him to come by when she's not there and leave his key on the way out. She then gets a call from her doctor telling her that she doesn't have AIDS, and immediately afterwards Hope drops by, encouraging Ellyn to forgive Billy. That night Ellyn is stuck outside her building and is found by Madison who has come to apologize. They sit in her car while Madison tries to explain that she had gotten scared when she ran into Billy again and saw how in love he was with Ellyn and that's what made her reach out and try to have one last time with him. Madison reassures Ellyn that Billy never really loved her, but he definitely loves Ellyn and that it was just everyone being scared of being in love that led to the situation. Once inside the building, Ellyn gets into the same elevator with Billy and it gets stuck, which forces them to finally talk. As Billy pours out his heart to her, the rest of the passengers look on with interest, and he culminates by blurting out that he wants to marry her. Completely won over, Ellyn accepts. (The elevator must get unstuck at some point because they show up in later episodes.)


Billy eats Cap'n Crunch; Billy dated Madison right after college; Billy talks in his sleep, occasionally in Spanish; Madison is named after the city in which her mother went into labor; Ellyn's favorite color is flesh and she wanted to be Italian as a kid; Billy has three brothers and a sister; Billy and Madison were together for two years, knew each other for eight; Ellyn probably lives on the fourth floor (she kept pressing the four button in the elevator)


The blasted yellow knotted headband appears strapped to Hope. Ellyn wears that darned cutout Philadelphia Phillies T-shirt to bed. Makes her look like a refugee from Flashdance. Putting Ellyn in a flannel shirt is always a good idea, just looks great on her for some reason. Erich Anderson is a great actor, but showing him without his shirt on might've been a mistake.


"She's not capable of embarrassment." --Billy about Madison

"Yeah, how did polygamy get such a bum rap?" --Madison

--"What did you do to this coffee to make it so delicious?" --Ellyn

--"Nothing. I just measured it." --Madison

--"Measure it. Huh. Measure it. I've got much to learn." --Ellyn, and she's not kidding

"I just found out that I don't have AIDS. It's like winning the lottery, but you don't get anything." --Ellyn

--"How long would you like to be married to me?" --Ellyn

--"As long as you'll have me." --Billy

--"Oh. Really? That long?" --Ellyn


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