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Studio 60 Fodder

Studio 60: 4AM Miracle

The highlights from last week's episode showed the beginning of Matt's addiction to narcotics, which is interesting, since there was very little evidence this week that there was anything wrong with him. Well, okay, he had a heinous case of writer's block, but that wasn't necessarily the drugs. Plus, he didn't think he was getting any good ideas from the writers' room. I'm still claiming that it's because Mark McKinney, who wrote the story, didn't know that they were going to give Matt the addiction. Of course, you could make the argument that since Aaron Sorkin wrote the actual teleplay and he DID know about the addiction, he could have added references to Matt using, but now you're just poking holes in my theory. Shame on you.

Laura Innes, last seen as Dr. Kerry Weaver on ER, directed this episode. She directed a few episodes of The West Wing, too, and is actually a good director.

Danny is meeting in his office with a very pretty lawyer who is explaining how he is in no way a defendant, which is a relief to him, seeing as how he wasn't working at the show at the same time as the woman who's filed a sexual harassment suit against basically everyone involved with Studio 60. Well, except for Danny, who didn't work there at the time. The plaintiff had filed a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May. Danny seems to have a photo of Matt in his office. I'm not positive it's Matt; it's in the background and half of it is hidden. But it certainly looks like Matt. That has absolutely nothing to do with the scene; it's just something that caught my attention.

Right. Back to the lawsuit. NBS's parent company interviewed everyone involved (except Danny, who keeps pointing out that he wasn't involved) and said that no one there had done any harassing of any kind. The EEOC decided that there was no good reason for the plaintiff (Karen Salazberg, the spelling of whose last name is approximate here) to be fired, so she filed suit. And that's why a pretty lawyer with a low-cut blouse is now in Danny's office. Karen the Plaintiff claims she had to work in a hostile work environment and that she was fired for not being one of the boys. Which would be biologically difficult for her.

Interestingly, this is fairly similar to a case filed against almost everyone behind the scenes of Friends, where a female writer's assistant complained about sexually explicit comments made by writers and producers. I'm fairly certain this is not a coincidence. That case was finally thrown out last April.

Danny contends that Karen was fired because she was lousy. Pretty Lawyer points out that Danny didn't work there then. He does not, in fact, have a snappy come back for this.

Meanwhile, Matt is slamming Red Bull, which has lots of funky things in it, but is not, as far as I know, a controlled substance. Matt tells Suzanne the Assistant that the script is "nowhere." She points out that he always says that and it always turns out fine. He tells her to go home, but she says she goes home when he does. Of course, he has a couch in his office and she doesn't, so if he decides to, say, sleep at the studio, she's going to regret that policy.

Matt can't go home; he's looking for that 4 a.m. miracle, that unexplainable extraordinary event that happens when sleep deprivation "erodes your internal sensors" (that doesn't sound like a recipe for GOOD writing) and allows you to "come out of yourself." He then beats on his wall.

The poster on his wall is for Pirates of Penzance. I could have sworn it used to be for HMS Pinafore, (same picture, just with a different title printed on the ship's sails) but it's also entirely possible that I'm just going insane. There's also a note taped to it, which I can't read. And naturally since I can't read it, I really want to.

Suzanne offers to get him food. She's having a veggie burger because she's trying to lose 10 pounds. Matt and I agree that she doesn't need to do that. He sort of tries to tell her that she's good-looking, but it comes off less encouraging than one might like. He's going to go down to the writers' room, the darkest depth of darkness and depth. He pitches a tennis ball past her head and then beats an awkward retreat back into his office. Suzanne looks pained. I imagine she has to put up with a lot of this stuff.

She comes in and tells him she laughed "a little" at the Cinemax sketch. Well, that was at least as glowing as his assertion that he'd date her if he were less rich, handsome, and successful. He says he doesn't like making fun of soft-core porn. After all, he could MEET some soft-core actress and she would realize he'd ripped on her craft and never go out with him. Because Harriet to a soft-core actress is a lateral move. He explains that he doesn't go for girls in costumes. He likes executives with their glasses and high heels. And glasses. So he and Danny have the executive fondness in common, too.

Predictably (but still amusingly), as he's expounding on how great executives are, the lawyer, Mary Tate, shows up in his office in her glasses and high heels. She works at Gage-Whitney, which is the office where Sam Seaborn worked before he worked for President Bartlet over on The West Wing. So I guess they've opened an office on the West Coast now. Matt declares her presence there (and timing) to be "weird."

I should point out that this episode brought a lot of the funny this week, which is welcome in light of how heavy last week's episode was. There were some fairly predictable elements of that humor, but they worked. Again, it was a nice contrast to the previous week. I also "blame" Mark McKinney for that. He'd probably accept that blame, though, so that works out for everyone.

Mary the Lawyer wonders if Matt knew she was coming to the office. Oh, yeah, Suzanne the Assistant says, she forgot to tell him a lawyer is coming to the office. That's some good assisting there, Suzanne. Suzanne is cute trying to get past Matt. Mary Tate is just cute in general.

Matt is also quick to point out that he's not a defendant in the sexual harassment case; he also wasn't working for the show when Karen Salazberg was. However, five different people are claiming to have written a screenplay that he wrote, so he does know from defending. That suit isn't taken care of by the Writers Guild because those plaintiffs aren't members of the Writers Guild. But enough about him.

Mary wants to get a sense of working conditions at Studio 60, particularly in the writers' room, and would Matt mind if he watched? It turns out Matt would mind, thank you, but Mary already had permission. Didn't anyone tell him that, either? Well, no, actually. Suzanne patches a call to Matt from Jordan, which he takes on speakerphone. They seriously need to consider getting rid of those things; they only seem to cause trouble around the office. Jordan tells Matt that Mary's coming over, and he should give her whatever she needs and try to convince her that they don't make their employees feel uncomfortable. Apparently Danny can make her uncomfortable because she's his boss. Oh, but perhaps Mary shouldn't talk to Harriet, since Matt probably made her uncomfortable with the whole kissing at Christmas thing and the bidding to be her date for the dinner. But now I'm just being nitpicky.

Jordan then tells Matt how Mary is really hot and just his type. Apparently everyone can tell when they're on speakerphone but Jordan. Matt struggles adorably to hang up on his boss before she further expounds on the sexual harassment lawyer's physical attributes.

Matt leads Mary to the writers' room but says that she won't see much; he's just going to tell them how he hates their pitches and ask for new ones. As they walk-and-talk downstairs, Mary says that they could be sued for the low-eight-figure range on the claim that they stunted Karen's career path. Mary catches Matt's tennis ball after he bounces it off a wall, explaining that her path could have led her from random writer to have Matt's job. Sure, it could have. But Matt's career path probably wouldn't have led him there if he hadn't left to make successful movies in between. And if Jordan hadn't insisted. Matt pointed out that that proposed career path is in no way based in reality.

Matt says he's gotten five sets of pitches from the writers, and he's rejected all of them. It's now Wednesday night. The show does tape on Friday, after all. Matt is plenty humorous with Mary, but an hour and a half of witty flirty banter with a musical guest playing a couple of times isn't really a "sketch show." He says he's looking for an idea he can write.

He goes into the writers' room and asks the writers why they think Karen was fired. They all, including Lucy, say it's because she couldn't write. Of course, Mary notes that no one in the room actually worked there at the same time as Karen. You know, if you're just going to go around poking holes in peoples' perfectly good theories, you're never going to make any friends.

Matt wants to know if Lucy has ever been sexually harassed while working there. She makes a smart remark, so he sends her fine, fine ass to the chair at the foot of the table in punishment. I know he's joking, Lucy knows he's joking, and I'm sure Mary knows he's joking, but I don't know that this is a smart joke to make in front of the harassment attorney. Again, funny, but not necessarily smart.

Matt says Lucy can redeem herself by telling what Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem was. She confidently offers up "Ode to a Grecian Urn." Which was written by John Keats, who is also a fine British poet, but not the CORRECT British poet, so she has to leave her sweet British ass in the punishment chair. No, it was "Kubla Khan." Me, I would have said it was "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," but that's probably because I had to memorize parts of it in high school, while I only had to read "Kubla Khan." Also, no one bites their arms and sucks the blood in "Kubla Khan." That's the sort of image that stands out in a high school kid's mind.

Matt has brought this up not for conversation or to pick on Lucy's beautiful ass, but because Coleridge wrote the thing, 300 lines, at 4 a.m. Andy cuts to the chase: Matt didn't like any of the pitches. He felt Matt was taking his own sweet time to get there, and Andy's a busy guy. Or a grumpy guy. One or the other. Darius and Lucy try to convince Matt that some of the pitches are good, but Matt isn't buying. Andy cuts to the chase again: He didn't like the pitches, so they'll come up with new ones. Matt reminds them they're looking for the 4 a.m. miracle. Also that Coleridge was interrupted in the middle of writing the poem, and when he came back to the thing, he had lost it, which is why the full name of it is "Kubla Khan or, A Vision In A Dream: A Fragment."

He leaves Mary to watch over the writers' shoulders, which is sure to improve their pitches. Danny is waiting in the hall. He asks Danny if he knows who wrote "Kubla Khan." Danny comes up with Gene Roddenberry. No, Danny, not Wrath of Khan. Though having Shatner recite some 18th-century poetry seems like it could be fun. Or painful. ("Kubla KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!")

Danny, however, is more upset that it's Wednesday and there's no script or even script ideas, so the crew can't do anything yet. They can't build sets or make costumes or get legal clearance or set camera marks or any of those other really important things that you have to do for a show. And probably the guest star wouldn't mind at least looking over a script before the cameras roll. You know you're in trouble when Danny "Don't Worry About It" Tripp is freaking out.

Matt sympathizes, but they just don't have anything; if they did, he'd be writing it now. Danny likes the title of "Jason the Mason." Matt points out that it's hard to write about a secret society since he doesn't belong to it and any members are sworn to secrecy, so he can't even find out about them. I know that Mozart was a Mason. Heck, that was mentioned in "Rock Me Amadeus." Though it seems as tough to write a sketch around that as it would be to write one around a mildly amusing rhyming title. There's a lot of mention of freemasonry in National Treasure. But again, hard to build a sketch around. Well, unless you were going to write a sketch about people whose sole knowledge of freemasons was based on movies that had masons in them. Danny thought perhaps the sketch was about an actual mason of the building-construction variety. Matt doesn't seem to find this any more workable.

Matt also wonders where Harriet is. Apparently her filming of the Brian Jones movie is running late. Matt picks up his baseball bat, annoyed that she was supposed to be back at 10. Danny points out that there isn't anything for her to work on, so why exactly does it matter? Matt's affronted that Luke would be so inconsiderate as to keep her late on a bedroom set with Luke's mood music snorting coke and seducing 17-year-olds. Danny points out that the cocaine is powdered baby's milk (that sounds uncomfortable to snort and also not good for one's lungs. Though, of course, Danny would know from actual cocaine). Also, the 17-year-old is probably closer to 25, so no worries there, either.

Danny's annoyed because Matt swore back on the first day that working with Harry wouldn't be a problem for him. His impression of Matt is far less flattering than the one he did at Christmas. Danny asks if he can help. No, but please apologize to the department heads and let them know that Matt will cover hotel rooms for anyone who wants them. First he spends $11,000 on charity, and now he's getting hotel rooms. Quick! Someone make reservations at the Sunset Tower Hotel! Or even the Beverly Hilton! Danny offers help again, but Matt swears he's okay.

On the movie set, Harriet is indeed snorting formula. It's apparently really good formula. The 17-year-old is on her bed and points out that she has a gun. So he's a quick one. It's Keith Richards' gun, Harry-as-Anita says. He wants to know what the gun is for. See? Quick. Harry puts the gun to her head and pulls the trigger. Nuthin'. She gives the gun to the kid, who asks if there are bullets in the gun. He puts the gun to his head, and Harry-as-Harry stops the scene. She's concerned that they're saying that Anita Pallenberg is basically guilty of manslaughter. This contradicts what was found in court regarding the case, which determined that not only was Pallenberg not responsible, she was on a different floor of the house altogether when the shooting occurred.

Luke tells her she's pretty, which is nice, but not actually what she was worried about at the time. Admittedly, actors frequently have fragile egos, but stroking the ego over the wrong issue won't help much. Harriet is worried because the script basically has Anita giving him drugs and the gun and saying that he should show his manliness by pulling the trigger and then screwing her like Keith Richards, who was not the walking corpse he is today. Harry says Anita wasn't even in the house at the time (Which isn't apparently exactly right, but she probably wasn't doing any more responsible from another floor of the house than if she were out of the building altogether). Luke says in this movie, she is responsible, and besides, she should just shoot the scene. He promises they can continue the argument through postproduction. Of course, the scene will be shot with her in the room by then, but I suppose they could CGI her right out of the scene if they had to.

Danny calls her, managing to catch them in between takes. Luke doesn't want her to take the call, but she points out that they are on Danny's time. Well, sure, but if she keeps stopping every time she disagrees with the script, that might be why. She tells Danny they're behind (again, whose fault is that?) and that they only have one shot left. Danny says they're behind, too. He wants her to "fake it" with Matt when she gets back. Several pithy and inappropriate remarks denigrating Matt's virility come to mind, but I'll be good and keep them to myself. Harriet says she isn't responsible for Matt's mood, but Danny doesn't care. Apparently things are worse for Matt when he knows he's filming with Luke all night. Harriet says she's working, and she'll be back as soon as she's done, but now she looks all guilty and concerned.

Jordan comes to the office to pick up Danny and whisk him away. They kiss all secretive-like, although a production assistant does come through a door just as they're pulling apart. Sadly, since Matt has nothing, Danny's going to stay at the office. He says the script always comes together on Wednesday night (at the last minute? How Sorkin-esque!). Jordan wonders why she pays them for Monday and Tuesday, which is a good question, since they had that big fight about whether they would fire 15 people or use product integration to help the budget. I'm assuming it actually comes together sooner than that most weeks, but it does still seem like a fair question. Danny's answer is that she loves him. Okay, but she doesn't love Matt that way. Besides, she says it's just a passing thing. Danny swears that if he died tonight, she'd be devastated. Well, not if he's going to keep charging her for two days not working. Danny suggests Jordan lie down for an hour and then they can go grab food (I hope he isn't suggesting that, say, she looks tired or that her ankles are swelling. This is not a good way to score points with one's girlfriend). Jordan wants to play with Harriet, but of course, Harriet's on a movie set holding up filming to quibble with the script. Jordan drops her bag, which promptly starts crying. She rifles through her other bag (should a pregnant woman be carrying this much luggage?), pulls out the biggest remote since about 1978, and turns off the bag. Danny seems confused by this. Jordan produces a "RealCare Baby" (According to their website, the new ones are set up so you can recharge five babies at once. I assume that's for school use, because I just don't see someone adopting quintuplet practice babies). The baby has a battery pack and computer chip, and can tell if it's "wet," if it's hungry, if it's being burped, and it cries if it's unhappy (I had a doll that did that cried like that at the drop of a hat. Really ticked off the priest at Christmas Mass. If you've never managed to tick off a priest at Christmas Mass, I don't advise it). Jordan paid $600 for her baby. I think mine was probably $35 in 1978. Okay, it couldn't tell you when it was "wet," but it also didn't cost $600. Jordan's excited that she gets two months of practice, but I'm pretty sure she can't be taking care of it much of the time at work and certainly not when she's in meetings. Plus, that does average out to $300 a month. I'll bet she could find someone to rent her a baby for that price. And she'd get the experience of actually cleaning it and cleaning up after it. She points out how the doll just told her she had stuffed it in a Prada bag (I doubt it actually knew it was Prada). Now she knows not to do that. One hopes she knew that before. If she didn't know it, maybe she really couldn't get someone to rent her a baby. She says now she can practice comforting the baby, and Danny points out that she "comforted" it by turning it off with a remote. He also says that God knows that the first year is hard, and that's why it's an "on-ramp." Right. Babies under one are impossible to hurt. That's why you have to support their heads and put them to sleep on their backs. Besides which, Jordan says she's crashed her car multiple times trying to use on-ramps. Which seems like another argument against renting her a baby. Danny points out that you don't drive the baby. Ever. He gives her sage advice about raising a baby, but we've never heard that any of his multiple marriages ever produced children, so I'm not sure he's the one to take advice from. He does advise against putting the baby to bed in a lobster pot. Well, that does seem like good advice.

Jordan says that Lana, her Lamaze coach, suggested the RealCare Baby. Lana the Lesbian Lamaze Lady? Danny asks. Jordan says Lana isn't a lesbian, and Danny says she'd better hope she's a lesbian. It turns out that Lana the Lesbian Lamaze Lady sells RealCare Babies, so she also doesn't exactly seem impartial. He also says that Jordan isn't allowed near the baby's college fund.

Jordan bets Danny $100 that he can't keep the baby alive until the end of the night. I'm guessing that's to kick off the college fund if she wins. They can hook the baby up to the computer any time to show if he's taking good care of the baby or smacking it around. Jordan does a fairly decent impression of a chicken at him. Apparently that's the trick, because Danny takes the bet. He wants to take Jordan's money. He does take the baby by the head, but then he cradles it very nicely. Once Danny has the baby, Jordan wants to know if he's sure, since he has plenty of work to do (actually, Matt has to do most of the work, not Danny), and besides, he's a pretty big spaz. I'm feelin' the love here.

Back on the movie set, they're taking another whack at the Russian Roulette scene. The kid shoots himself in the head, and despite the fact that we saw him from an angle where you should have been able to the see the squib or at least some sort of wig covering it, we didn't. So either the effects for this movie are really good, or that one angle was just for TV. I vote for the latter.

Harriet's reaction when the kid's head explodes on the headboard is less than convincing. At least she recognizes that fact. So they have to cut again, and Luke is beginning to look annoyed. Actually, when the kid sits up, he does clearly have the equipment to cause the exploding head effect, so possibly that other view was just to show us what the movie viewer would see in the final cut. I could buy that explanation. At least the kid is enjoying being in bed with Harriet and blowing out his brains.

Now Harry worries that there is literally (fake) blood on her hands. Luke tells her they'll "get it" in coverage. Harriet points out that that won't actually change what they're showing, it'll just show it from another angle. Luke had hoped she wouldn't pick up on that. Harriet repeats that Anita Pallenberg wasn't in the house, according to Anita and everyone else. Luke points out that everyone else is dead. I'm not sure that "everyone else" actually is, but it seems to save him from having to check with anyone else. And that assumes that he would believe what they say.

Harriet wants to have Anita go to the bathroom so she's less responsible. Luke says either way, she's responsible. Well, according to him, anyway. He's also getting pissed off; after all, she had the script for two months and they had rehearsed for two and a half weeks, and she's waited until now, when the cameras are rolling and the full crew is there and it's costing them time and money to discover her conscience for this scene. Luke wants to know why this is coming up tonight. When she looks up at him, her eyes and cheeks are moist, but I don't know if that's from the argument or her bad acting. My guess is the former, but I'm not positive. He points out that she said she was feeling guilty. She finally tells him that she had a huge fight with Matt where she basically beat him up and then kicked him when he was down, and then ran over his dog and punched his grandma. Well, figuratively speaking. Luke realizes that the fight was the night that she came over to his house, which doesn't make him very happy. They didn't have post-fight angry-at-someone-else making out/sex? Luke is underwhelmed both at the news and Harry's timing. He wants to do another take, although Harriet's negligee still has some blood on it. Hopefully someone is on the set checking out the continuity on this scene.

Matt is up in his office working on dialogue by talking to himself. He beats on the wall again. Between that and Harriet banging on the outside wall of the office, that room is taking a lot of punishment. Suzanne the Assistant wants to know if Mary the Lawyer can come in and watch him talk to himself, apparently. Suzanne also says that Harry is working on her last scene of the night, and will be over when she's done.

Mary comes in looking both adorable and sexy. She says the writers' room is quiet. Matt suggests they don't write as well when there are adorable sexy women in low-cut blouses watching over them, so they should hurry up and get her out of there. Plus, it is getting to be kind of late at night. Mary wants to know if there are any other writers on staff. Oh, just the ones she was distracting. She wonders if that's unusual; aren't there usually 15 or so? There are, Matt says, but 13 of them quit, and then he hired Andy to whip Lucy and Darius into shape. He thinks the four of them are doing fine, and Mary points out that it's midnight on Wednesday and he's still nowhere. And there she goes again, interfering with his reality. She further points out that the show's ratings have slipped over the past four episodes. You know, whenever Aaron Sorkin writes something like that, I wonder if he's talking about what's going on with the real world outside the show, or if it's all just a coincidence that moves the story along.

Matt offers Mary his job, and then wonders what the ratings have to do with the harassment suit. Nothing; she was just trying to ruin his da-er, see how good a witness he would be. He says he'd be a lousy witness, what with him never having actually witnessed anything. No, she says, but he'll probably be asked what a writers' room is like.

She then asks Matt his feeling on Ricky and Ron (who are two of the defendants). Besides the fact that they're total hacks, you mean? Matt says he likes them fine. Mary says she's got 14 people saying he can't stand them. She also says if he lies like that under oath, she's screwed. Also, of course, that's perjury. I don't know if the judge would call him on it, but perjury is a felony. Matt says he was just being polite, and there's a difference between polite and lying. Yeah, not so much in court. And certainly not when testifying on your boss's and parent company's behalf. Matt says they're being sued because they weren't polite. Mary says he isn't being sued, and he says he is; the suit says Studio 60, and that's him. Really? Because earlier that evening, he made a real point of making sure she knew that he wasn't one of the defendants. He offers her some vodka, which she accepts.

Matt admits that he's no fan of Ricky and Ron's, but at least the feeling is mutual. However, he's never seen them behave inappropriately. Just misguided about what constitutes humor. Matt's never seen anyone be inappropriate. Mary takes off her jacket, further showing how low-cut her blouse is, as she points out that he has, in fact, seen inappropriate behavior in the form of his relationship with Harriet. He says their relationship wasn't sexual harassment. No, but NBS does have a policy about sexual behavior among coworkers. It sounds like Danny and Jordan need to review their employee handbooks. Matt protests that it wasn't that bad, but Mary says no, it was. However, he says he was in love, so nuts to Mary. Matt wants to know why on earth they might have such a policy. Well, interoffice dating can be a mess, Mary says. After all, he won't insist Harriet leave her shoot, as is his right, because he doesn't want to look petty (though he still doesn't have anything for Harriet to actually do). Besides which, things happen like Harriet getting upset that Matt and Jeannie spent the night together. Matt is impressed that Mary studied before she came in. You'd almost think she was doing her job or something. Plus, she gets $600 an hour (That's a RealCare Baby an hour!). Studying ahead of time means she gets more $dough. She asks if Harriet isn't the real reason Matt's having trouble writing. Well, that, and he's getting pitches like "Jason the Mason." And if his writing is suffering, mightn't that be why the ratings are suffering? Oh, so that's what she means when she says interoffice dating is messy.

Danny is sitting at his desk. The practice baby is starting to complain. It starts crying outright, so he covers its mouth with his hand. Lucky for him that's where the sound is actually coming from. He finally picks up the kid by the face, still covering its mouth, and takes it out of the office. However, he still manages to wake Jordan up. He tells her to go to sleep. He has the baby's face pressed against his chest now. It's actually muffling the crying fairly well.

Outside the office, he starts bunny-hopping with the baby, which doesn't really seem very comforting to me, but what do I know? Jordan wants to know what Danny did to the baby. Danny wishes she'd stop calling it "the baby," but she'll only do that if he accepts defeat, pays her, and apologizes to Lana the Lesbian Lamaze Lady. That doesn't seem likely, so I guess we're still calling it the baby. Jordan reveals that he gets two minutes to get the kid to stop crying. That might have been good information to have sooner. He tries burping the kid pretty vigorously. The baby doesn't seem comforted by this. It's hard to blame it. He then "rocks" the doll, which looks more like some sort of new work-out fad than rocking. Jordan says he's shaking it like a snowglobe. Her snowglobes must not look very snowy then. The way he's moving it won't produce much of a flurry at all. He offers to smack Jordan around to see if that will help. It's always a good idea to joke with the woman you spent all this time stalking that you're going to hit her. Danny then tries feeding the kid. He's been carrying the bottle in his pocket. Mmm, body-temperature milk, yum. However, apparently the kid likes warm formula. Plus, it'll put it to sleep faster. Danny is very smug about his baby-care prowess. Danny wants Jordan to go home. I suspect he just doesn't want her to notice if he starts ignoring the kid. She says she wants to stay there with him. Awwwww. It worries Danny when she's nice to him, though not so much that he won't smooch her before sending her back to sleep.

Down in Simon's dressing room, Simon and Tom are riffing on hotel rooms. Since Matt offered to cover people staying in hotels, they should take him up on that offer to get more material. There is something really bizarre going on with Tom's hair, but I have no idea why. Maybe he was wearing a babushka earlier or something. He looks a little like a brunette, slightly balding Sally from "Peanuts." Simon suggests letting natural selection work its magic on people who don't know that pudding gets hot when it's heated. Well, that is who they make the Darwin Awards for. Not pudding eaters specifically, but just in general.

Simon then wonders what Karen Salazberg thought a writers' room would be like. Tom thinks he maybe said hello to Karen once. Simon says he did the same. Oh, and he might have flirted with her. And he's got such game that his flirting worked its Magic on her. Come to think of it, he may have slept with her. Three times. So far the only person he's told is Tom. Given the trouble the two of them had keeping secrets from Martha O'Dell, perhaps Simon should find someone else to confide in. Simon reveals he's been freaking out pretty much since Mary the Lawyer showed up. Who, by the way, he thinks is hot. Tom wants to tell the lawyer. Simon, clearly worried about the Bigger Issues, wants to keep it quiet so he doesn't lose his job, his house, and his slyly product-placed Lincoln Navigator.

Danny brings the RealCare Baby down to their room. He wants Tom to take care of the baby for him. Because when I think of paternal people in that cast, Tom is the first one I think of. Danny says that Jordan's asleep in his office, so he needs the baby out of there so it doesn't wake her up. Apparently nobody wonders why Danny has Jordan's practice baby or why Jordan might worry about whether he can take care of a baby or not. Sure, it could just be a random contest, but it could also be something more (and is), but no one seems to think this might be out of the ordinary. Danny wants Tom to call should the baby get upset at all. He then kisses the baby very sweetly on top of its head before leaving. Tom and Simon do give Danny an odd look about this, but don't actually say anything. True, he is their boss, but that hasn't stopped anyone from mentioning weirdness before.

After Danny is out of sight, Tom basically throws the baby on the floor while he tells Simon he has to talk to the lawyer. Simon worries that Mary will get his house and product-placed SUV. The baby is not complaining nearly as much as one might expect for having been thrown on the floor.

On the movie set, Harriet's reaction to the kid blowing his brains out is much better. I'm not totally sure I buy it, but it's quite a bit better than it was. Now Luke is drinking Red Bull. Couldn't they find some other drink to product place? Something I don't find heinous (They do drink other things, but nothing I recognize as well as the Red Bulls)? Luke takes Harriet aside. It's a good thing the kid apparently doesn't need any direction. Luke wants to know what happened. Harry tries to keep it to herself, saying this isn't really the time, but Luke presses her. She explains about the Catholics in Media auction. Luke gets huffy and tells her he doesn't care. He apparently thought she was going to talk about the two of them, not Matt. Of course, she had tried not to tell him, so it's hard to see what he's getting pissy about. Luke then tells her that he's going to keep her on the set as long as he feels like it.

Simon and Tom are still debating what to do. Tom thinks that Simon having slept with the plaintiff could help the case by proving that she enjoys deviant sex. This is not actually that helpful to a man who's worried about losing his car.

Cal finds them. He brings them a guillotine, which Tom finds cool. Props made it for a Marie Antoinette sketch. Cal says it's just like those "things" they had when they were kids. Simon doesn't know what they mean. Cal and Tom both had one, which is particularly interesting in light of the fact that there are 20 years between Cal and Tom, and Simon falls about halfway between them in terms of age. Furthermore, Tom is roughly my age (I would guess; Nate Corddry is about my age, so I assume his character is close to that age, too), and I don't really remember these things either. Admittedly, it's probably more of a male-oriented toy, but A) I was a bit of a tomboy, so it's possible I would have been interested in one of these things anyway, and B) none of my older brothers had these things, either. Then again, we all tended to beat up on one another, so my parents may have thought arming them with a sharp object, even a toy/trick one, was a bad idea. Anyway, the toy was designed so if you stuck a carrot through the hole, it would cut it, but it wouldn't cut your finger. It was a joke, but this still sounds like it was designed by the same clever people who brought us lawn darts. Cal wants Simon to stick his head in the hole, and Simon, reasonably, tells Cal to forget it. Tom also declines being a guillotine guinea pig.

Instead, they stick the RealCare Baby's head through the hole. It seems to me that the doll, as an inanimate object, might resemble a carrot more than a finger. Predictably, the kid is decapitated. Also predictably, Danny wanders down there just as Simon is saying that they'd better fix it before Danny shows up. Cal has heard of RealCare Babies, though apparently doesn't recognize them before he chops their heads off. He says they're supposed to be indestructible. I'm assuming the dolls weren't tested against guillotines. Tom tries to hide behind the guillotine. Danny says he was doing well at caring for the baby until Tom and Cal got a hold of it. True, but it's hardly as though they kidnapped the kid from him. Cal says he did want to test the prop before they put Renee Zellweger's head in there. This is smart. However, as bad as being sued for sexual harassment is, it's nothing compared to the wrongful death suit they'd have faced for lopping off Simon's or Tom's head.

Danny sends Cal to Props with the baby so they can fix it and futz around with the computer chips so the baby doesn't think it's been neglected or, you know, decapitated. Cal wonders if they should make the baby able to dance. I actually haven't missed that darn dancing baby from Ally McBeal all that much. Let's not bring it back. Danny agrees with me (thank you, Danny), and just wants the dang thing fixed.

As the guillotine mysteriously moves away on its own, Simon and Tom diligently avoid making eye contact with Danny. He gets Simon to tell him what's up, and Simon says that Karen Salazberg may have a point that she was harassed. Danny looks pained.

Up in Matt's office, Mary the Lawyer discovers that Matt did have a lemon for her vodka (he'd rather smarmily told her he didn't). He also has five cans of Red Bull in the door of his refrigerator. That's still better than Slim-Fast and methadone (Yes, that was a tasteless joke/reference. But too late now). But not much. Matt, however, doesn't really notice that Mary has found a lemon. He's reading Karen Salazberg's full complaint for the first time. Before that, he'd just read the CliffsNotes version. One of the complaints is that there was an extended discussion about bulimia, which Mary says could be seen as denigrating to women. Sure, because only women are bulimic. Matt suggests that the discussion (or the condition itself) is denigrating to food, not women. Hmm, we may need to hold a sensitivity session on eating disorders, because that's a pretty insensitive comment. I hate to admit that I chuckled, but it's still insensitive. The plaintiff was also offended that the newsstand carried US Weekly. Well, that's just denigrating to humankind. I suspect she'll have a hard time proving culpability on that count, what with her not being forced to work at or go to the newsstand. Mary is trying to find a paring knife so she can show Matt a real neat way to peel a lemon (She apparently went to bartending school. It's always good to have something to fall back in case lawyering falls through). Matt isn't paying attention, though; he got to page 36, where Karen observed the male writers discussing ways they might have intercourse with Harriet (again, this is very similar to the Friends case, only substituting Jennifer Aniston's name for Harriet Hayes's. Mary says she needed Matt to read that to make sure that he was still on "our side." Matt declares that those guys suck. Yes, but he had been telling Ricky and Ron for some time that they sucked. Some of those guys (though not Ricky or Ron) are his friends. Mary offers him a minute. Better yet, she gives him a whole commercial break to pull himself together. Convenient and useful!

Back at the movie shoot, they get a scene where Anita is in another room when she hears the gunshot. From the way this scene is done in real life, it would appear as though Harriet's reaction is being filmed at the same time that the kid shooting himself is, which is not generally how movies are filmed. Again, I think it's to simplify the narrative of the TV show because explaining how a movie is usually shot would take too long and not move the story forward, but this isn't how these things are usually done. Then again, it usually isn't done where the lead actress complains during the shoot about how the scene is written, and the writer/director changes it for her. Harriet apologizes for talking about Matt earlier; it was pretty insensitive of her. Luke agrees. She also says she was feeling "mystery guilt" because of the scene. Luke says she's the only person for whom it was a mystery: She wanted Matt to fight back, and then she confessed to Luke so he'd free her, which he's doing now. He breaks up with her. And really, after everything that's gone on with the shoot this night, she's probably lucky he isn't replacing her. Most director/writers get pretty tetchy about having their work second-guessed by their actors, especially at the most expensive and embarrassing possible time. Luke says that Matt is an arrogant self-destructive egomaniacal prick. It keeps surprising me that "prick" is allowable in prime time on network TV, particularly since several synonyms aren't permissible. Harriet declares that she can't let Luke talk about "Matthew" like that. It's his set; I'm pretty sure he can do anything he wants. She says Matt would never let anyone talk about her like that. Never mind that it's just not nice to talk like that about her friend. Luke tells Harry she's a sucker. Possibly so, but Matt would never go three hours into overtime just to screw with a former friend (And former office mate, for that matter). She tells him he's got the shot he needs for the scene (although it appears from what the TV audience sees that they only got one take with her in a different room. Usually you want more than one of those); she's leaving for the night.

Speaking of things Matt wouldn't let people say about Harriet, Matt is still going through the full text of the lawsuit. The writers in the complaint were very colorful in terms of their plans for Harriet, but it turns out that they didn't have a real firm grasp on Baptist religious practices; they don't have confession. Also, trying to confess while copulating seems like it might be distracting for at least one of the parties involved. And she'd have to confess to the copulating she was doing at the time, too. Regardless, Mary says that Matt is her witness; she wants to know if he'll be a good one. He says he wants to take a baseball bat to the guys mentioned in the suit. Hey, he could use the bat that Darren Wells signed that Harriet gave to Matt. Sweet justice!

Mary points out that the case would be a perfect chance for him to nail the guys. After all, these discussions didn't lead to a sketch. Matt says it doesn't matter. He also says that conversation would never happen in a room he was running. On the other hand, good writing does come out of rooms he doesn't run (Although I thought the whole reason that Matt and Danny were brought in because there wasn't good writing coming out of that room. Well, that and Wes melting down live on-air). Matt is still Mary's witness (Though he doesn't seem thrilled about it, but that's probably asking a little much).

Danny brings Simon and Tom into Matt's office. Simon admits to sleeping with Karen Salazberg, and Tom hopes that it somehow helps their case. It doesn't. Simon doesn't remember when he slept with her beyond the fact that it was when she worked there. He describes her, including the fact that she had a weakness for him. He does think highly of himself. It turns out that he slept with some other woman three times who, at the moment anyway, isn't suing them. Simon thinks he should call the woman he actually slept with. Because calling her this much later will surely sweep her off her feet. Mary smiles cutely and encouragingly at Matt. Danny wants to know if Mary is almost done with "my boy." Mary says that Matt's character didn't disappoint her. She then gives him her card. He can use it for Whatever. She's asking him to ask her on a date. Well, she is his type. Jordan even said so. He thinks it might not be a bad idea if he got Harriet out of his system first, though. He also thinks that will probably take a while. He does keep her card, however.

Danny appears from around the corner. He heard the whole thing and thinks Matt is out of his mind. Matt deflects by asking what's going on with their numbers. Danny tries to deflect by saying he thought he had trained Matt not to look at them. Unlike Matt's, his deflection doesn't work. Matt says it's Mary's fault he's thinking about them. Danny says if Matt had broken up with someone who didn't work for the show, the numbers still would have taken the same dip. Danny admits the numbers have trended down for two shows (which is two fewer than Mary said), which isn't really a trend at all. Matt still thinks the ratings dip coincides with his Harriet troubles (sure, but also with him starting to abuse pills, which probably isn't improving his writing). He says Harriet doesn't come up to the office anymore. He didn't realize how much he needed her around. Danny actually knew that. Matt then says that the writers have some things for him now, so they'll be fine (Do they actually have an hour and a half worth of things?). On the way out, Danny suggests Matt lay off the booze.

Cal catches up with Danny and gives back the baby. Props and Effects worked on the doll. Its computer chip was wiped clean, so it thinks it slept, ate, was changed, and talked to. Danny thinks they're on to something.

Danny kisses Jordan awake. Of course, there's a big window on his office door, so it's certainly possible that someone could see that, but he's been less concerned about that than she has right along. He still wants someone to take her home. He also wants his $100 check. Jordan wants to plug it into the computer; she apparently won't take his word for it. He hands her the baby, which coos sweetly as he does so. She talks to it for a minute, and its head pops up like a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot, its eyes popping out of its head on little animatronic eyeball stalks (Though sending them catapulting across the room would also have been entertaining). Danny, being the Big Man he is, dives for cover. He also says that that never happened on his watch. He finally admits that the baby was in an accident, as babies sometime are--even ones that aren't stuffed in Prada bags or put to sleep in lobster pots. He finally admits that the accident involved an 18th-century French guillotine (the French thing is particularly important. This sort of thing would never happen in a Belgian guillotine). Jordan seems especially affronted that the baby's "doctors" were the prop master and special effects director. Well, it isn't a real baby, after all. If he'd taken it to the hospital, he would have been sent to the Psych Ward. He says that the props and effects people fancy themselves practical jokers. Who apparently have no respect for the $600 doll. Jordan wants to know how the baby got in the guillotine in the first place. He demands brownie points for taking the baby out of the room so that Jordan could get her much-needed rest. She takes the points back, however, when he admits that he gave the baby to Tom and Simon. He does, however, magnanimously tell her she doesn't need to pay him.

Jordan wants to know what she'll practice with now. Some Home Ec classes have students carry around bags of flour to simulate the baby's weight; she could do that. And it would cost way less than $600, too. Danny, however, says she doesn't need a doll to practice with (though Tom probably does); she'll be a great mother. Besides, she won't be doing it by herself; he'll be right there by her side. Giving the baby to Tom. Danny points out that now they know not to put the baby in a guillotine. He's going to have someone take her home. He's going to stay close to Matt. They smooch very sweetly for a while, crazy bug-eyed baby in Jordan's arms.

Matt is still working on his dialogue about paramecia. From behind him, Harriet fills in part of the line, but it's the same place he keeps getting stuck. She says she'll come back after she puts her stuff away and help him get unstuck. So that's what the kids are calling it these days. She kisses his cheek, which seems to surprise him a little. Once she's gone, he realizes that Harriet is his 4 a.m. miracle.

This episode wasn't perfect. There were a few jokes that were pretty predictable. However, they were fun and funny, and I always appreciate the funny. And again, it was a nice contrast to "The Friday Night Slaughter," which was a bit of a downer. Of course, there was also a problem in that there was absolutely no evidence that the pill addiction that was covered so extensively last week. But again, they brought the funny, so I'll forgive a lot.

The show is now on hiatus until some undetermined date in the future. The fact that we don't know when it comes back is a particularly bad sign. I'm not sure if it's worse that we don't know when it comes back or if it's going off the air a week earlier than originally planned. Neither seems terribly encouraging, though. However, the television reviewer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (my TV reviewer of choice. Well, after me) says that The Black Donnellys, the show replacing Studio 60, is an even worse match to follow Heroes than Studio 60 is. Still, I worry that if The Black Donnellys gets better ratings for Studio 60, that may mean we won't even get the last few episodes of the season. Personally, I'm boycotting The Black Donnellys just to be safe. As if that will make some huge difference.

Keep watching this space for updates on the show's return and other news for the show. I'll post in the next day or two about Amanda Peet's baby. The short version: Amanda Peet had her baby. It's a girl. More soon.

Posted by on February 26, 2007 9:02 AM
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