“Some Time, Some Station”

19 June 1998
[Hilary and Jeff tune in to season four of 'Remember WENN'.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13


What a great episode!

Rodney finally exhales and tries to breathe naturally.

When last we met...Pruitt had displayed his gullible side. Scott had walked in to find himself at the end of a gun barrel. Victor was shaking more and more uncontrollably as he dealt with the internal conflict between his conditioning and his core nature. And Betty?

Betty had put a lot of pieces together. Victor disappeared from the Jonathan Arnold role, deep in enemy territory. Pruitt had expected Victor to kill Betty, something that Betty knew would never be voluntary. Victor had been foggy in his thinking. "Buy Barley Futures" was obviously not a password, but a trigger phrase. That Rollie was still alive two seconds after saying the phrase indicates that Victor's doing a good job of fighting the conditioning. Not to mention the increasing shakiness.

Betty stands transfixed, trying to reason a solution. She's not interested in seeing any of her friends killed in front of her eyes. While Scott may have crossed some lines in the past, he's proven himself a friend to her and all of WENN (even Hilary) since his downfall (even if she's had to keep him, and Doug Thompson, at bay). And to see Scott, who loves her and whom she's had feelings for, killed by the man she loves and who loves her, as a result of Nazi conditioning, would be almost unbearable.

She knows that even though Pruitt was just someone Victor just knew as his boss when he was at WENN, Victor was still able to fight the conditioning. Victor doesn't know who Scott Sherwood is and might not be able to fight the conditioning for the sake of a stranger. However, Victor's familiarity and love of Betty is a different matter and maybe Victor would be unable to fire at her. Not to mention that when Victor had turned to aim at Scott, he had managed to partially block Rollie's aim, perhaps indicating that Victor had partial control over his actions.

So Betty takes the best chance she has of saving everyone. It's also the riskiest thing she's done in her life. The odds are...well, all over the place. So she closes her eyes as she says, "Buy Barley Futures."

And now, for our regularly scheduled program...

Betty opens hers eyes to find...she's still alive!

Based on Rollie's comments about a near miss, Betty checking herself for bullet holes, the new position of the characters and the last couple of seconds of "Happy Homecoming", this seems to be what has transpired: Betty closed her eyes and said, "Buy Barley Futures." Victor turned to aim the gun at Betty. Scott released the door in preparation to tackle Victor while Rollie reaimed his gun from Betty to Victor. Victor fired the gun! The door finished swinging shut. Everyone froze, expecting Betty to slump down, dead.

"My orders were to shoot. No one said I had to be any good at it."

With the completion of his programmed mission to fire the gun at someone saying "Buy Barley Futures" in the Green Room at the appointed time, Victor seems released from the compulsion. As the cloud begins to lift, Victor can start concentrating on how to get out of this mess.

Meanwhile, Scott is only concerned with keeping Victor from a second opportunity to fire and tries to rush Victor. Rollie reaims the gun at Scott. Since Scott couldn't save Betty if he was dead, he very reluctantly holds his place, his mind racing for solutions.

Rollie provides one for Scott by explicitly stating, "Victor! You must execute whomsoever last said the password." Certainly that jives with what Scott's witnessed since he came into the room. Picking up that Victor is not acting out of choice but out of some sort of programming, he thinks he can make himself the target. "Hey, Victor! Listen! 'Buy...Barley...'."

"Quiet, Scott! Victor knows what he's doing." Since Victor didn't kill her, Betty knows she's won the hardest battle. Now it's back to the ole Betty/Victor teamwork. She reminds him that she fainted when she saw him at the end of "Magic", suggesting she could play dead if Victor would fire and miss again. But she does it in such a way that Pruitt wouldn't get the reference. This way, they gain a few more seconds of time and perhaps Rollie will lower his guard somewhat, thinking that Victor is back under control.

Betty frowns as she has to go so far as to make the connection between "fainting" and "dying" explicit. "Is Victor comprehending this at all?" she must be asking herself.

Victor fires the gun. Betty slumps to the floor. Unfortunately, Rollie was not the only one who didn't possess the key information about Betty fainting upon seeing Victor in "Magic." Scott doesn't know about that and assumes Victor has actually wounded or killed Betty. Scott leaps on Victor.

"Step away from him, Victor or I'll have to kill you both!"

Obviously the plan has worked and Pruitt still believes Victor is acting under his conditioning. He would certainly want to keep Victor alive to see if he can get information about why his Nazi allies wanted him dead.

(Whether Rollie was actually gullible enough to believe Victor had embraced Nazism or whether he had been told that Victor was acting under behavior modification is unclear. But certainly by this time, he should have no doubt.)

In the struggle we witness, Victor is keeping the gun from getting in between him and Scott so that the gun won't go off, accidentally wounding either of them. His precaution is merited as the struggle does cause Victor's finger to trigger the gun.

I like the way they both jerk and freeze in reaction to the shot. It reminds me of the first time the Vulcan nerve pinch was used on "Star Trek." Nimoy came up with it and Shatner knew instinctively how to react to it. Kevin O'Rourke and John Bedford Lloyd seem to have that natural actor chemistry.

Scott feels the impact of the gun's recoil as it slams him in the gut. "Am I shot?" he probably asks himself.

Victor, now in his well-mannered, normal voice, politely apologizes, "I'm sorry. Didn't mean to shoot you." Our first ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) moment with more to come.

Scott listens to his body. "I don't feel anything. Is it numbness? It should hurt a lot, shouldn't it?" Victor's politeness seems to bring the same out of Scott. "That's all right," he says forgivingly, braced against the pain that doesn't come. "You didn't," he says in relief.

Rollie, however, is not so lucky, and faints to the floor. (#2, with Betty's pseudo-faint being #1.)

The gunshots were well done. About 4 years ago, there was a shooting outside my apartment. I thought I had heard the sound of someone hitting a hammer on a sheet of metal or something. I had been so brainwashed by the made up sounds for gunshots in films, I didn't think it was gunfire. These pop-gun-like sounds were more realistic, making the scenes more credible. In all, there were 3 shots. The one we heard from our viewpoint in the hall. The one where Betty faked being shot. And the one that plugged Pruitt.

So far, all this text has been about 1 minute, 25 seconds of show (excluding opening credits). Time to pick up the pace :)

Scott quickly relieves Pruitt of his gun to prevent any more mischief and then goes to check out Betty. Perhaps using first aid knowledge from the war in Spain, he begins patting her down, checking for wounds. Interestingly, there are no apparent wounds you would expect from a gunshot. This doesn't dissuade Scott from being thorough! Betty, if she had any doubts that the crisis was over, now decides it would be an opportune time to stop playing dead.

Scott is briefly impressed with Victor's shooting until Victor admits he was aiming for the couch (in a line reminiscent of the meeting of "Victor" and "Scot" in Rabat).

Since Betty knows the government needs to be contacted instead of the police, Betty decides to confide Victor's secret to Scott.

"Betty Roberts, you trust me?" Scott asks incredulously. He's finally making some inroads.

The Betty explains the limits on the trust. She makes a reference to petty cash, obviously referring to his embezzlement. Then she references, "...not on a second date." Does this mean she never went on a second date with him? Or did he make some moves on a second date. Seems like another WENNuendo.

Betty explains Victor's mission to Scott, then they notice that Victor, who was starting to look disoriented, wandered off.

Finally, Mackie returns from the brief trip to the writer's room.

"Mr. Bloom. Scott Sherwood has shot me."

"Had to happen sooner or later."

Mackie displays his ability to take surprises in stride (such as in "The New Actor") and uses the opportunity to disparage Mr. Pruitt. Particularly after Pruitt offers Scott and Mackie an insultingly low commission to free him.

Betty tracks down Victor in the station manager's office, where he no doubt straightened the picture beside the door out of a sense of tidiness.

Unfortunately, Victor's acting a little wiggy, and through a misunderstanding, believes Scott to be Rollie Pruitt, of Globe Enterprises, whom he met briefly once in Boston.

"So now, let me shoot you..." Betty and Scott recoil. Betty suggests Victor needs to lie down on the coach. Victor's gentlemanly, proper manners fears that Scott/Pruitt may misunderstand like Mr. Winthrop did in "Sight Unseen" and convince him that Betty is loose. "Betty! Not in front of Pruitt," he whispers.

"Victor, could I have a few moments with Betty in private?"

"See! He's got the wrong idea about you, now." Even foggy, Victor is perceptive. :)

Mackie, through putting the clues together and/or interrogating Rollie, has put together the behind-the-scenes activities. He boasts his conclusions to Pruitt (while nicely allowing Mackie to summarize it for the audience). As he takes credit for putting Rollie on ice, he goes to take a swig of booze, then decides otherwise. Perhaps he feels he's had too much to drink already (which could help to explain his too cool reaction to events).

Seems like a good possibility since Scott confirms that C.J., at least, had left the station for the local bar, O'Malley's.

As Betty and Scott discuss Victor's sudden amnesia, they finally give it a name: "Mind control...It's like hypnosis."

The WENN word of the week is: "brainwashing." The word that Scott DID NOT use. Why? Because it wasn't actually coined until the fifties. During the Korean War, the Chinese Communists used isolation, deprivation and exhaustion on captured American and European prisoners of war to induce them to say publicly that they were ready to embrace Communism.

"Once back in a normal situation, however, all of the seemingly converted men returned to their former attitudes. Thus, brainwashing, while temporarily effective in some cases, is not a way to change the basic beliefs of a person permanently." (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996)

So, "Remember WENN" managed to use an old standby plot, brainwashing, and managed not to abuse it with the ludicrous hyperbole of other shows. This is one of the reasons I like this show.

Victor has slipped into an amnesia, forgetting everything since before he was contacted by the government. I almost expected a reference to Celia. :)

It could be that it was planned. A post-hypnotic suggestion to forget everything after fulfilling the mission of killing Pruitt. Victor would be left, accused of murder. Since Victor wouldn’t even remember his governmental contacts, they might choose to let Victor take the rap to prevent exposure of clandestine activities against Germany before a declaration of war. A perfect revenge against a man who had dared spy on them. (This also assumes the Nazi's were unable to identify Jeff from his codename.)

Or it could simply be a reaction brought on by side effects of the mind control techniques and the stress of the last few minutes. I would think this is more likely since the Germans would probably have an idea of the effectiveness of their techniques. They were probably just hoping it would control Victor long enough for him to do their dirty work.

From knowledge of early mind-control experiments by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War, Scott believes the best way to bring Victor out of his amnesia is incrementally. Hitting Victor with the full impact that he's forgotten more than a year would be as unwise as waking a sleepwalker (assuming there's any truth to that possible TVism).

Now it's back to the ole Betty/Scott teamwork as they try to come up with plans to minimize the damage of a rapidly out-of-control situation.

Mackie, who had been coping so well, now goes beyond amazement to stupefaction and passes out. (#3)

Victor, who believes WENN is just starting it's broadcast day, tries to cover for his missing cast.

Betty tries to explain the situation to Mackie and offers him a glass of water. Mackie thanks her, but doesn't take the water internally nor externally. Instead, he goes right back to the flask.

Between Betty and Victor, Mackie is pulled into Studio A to relieve Victor and Scott/Pruitt who had been improvising.

Betty tries to get the name of the contact from Pruitt. Rollie says he will tell her if she will let him leave the studio scot-free. (Or is that "Scott-free"? Or even "Scot-free"?)

Now Eugenia is on the scene. Betty expects the same delayed reaction to Victor's reappearance that Eugenia gave upon Jeff's sudden return. But she and Scott underestimate her response which is to collapse in the hallway. (#4)

Hilary returns, followed by Jeff who has been following her for hours. [Interestingly, the Czech tart's name was Pavla, which sounds like Pavlov (as Hilary herself realized), the scientist who performed reflexive conditioning experiments on dogs.]

Hilary finally relents and agrees to hear Jeff out as long as he keeps it brief. As it turns out, brief meant one word. :)

Hilary dispatches Jeff on the task of finding her shawl, probably meaning to leave the studio when he's not looking. Hilary has her chance to react to Victor's presence, but her mind is so overwhelmed with anger she's nearly oblivious to what's going on around her.

Jeff pursues her, trying to point out how she never allowed a chance to find out what was really going on...while trying not to blurt out what was really going on!

Victor discovers the real Rollie Pruitt. This leads to the next question to Scott: "Then who...are you?"

Scott decides this is a good time to start trying to bring Victor forward in time. He tries to remind Victor of one of the oldest of the forgotten memories: the brief meeting between Victor and himself at the Georgian Dragon pub in London.

"You're Scott...Sherman!"

"Close enough."

Step one.

Victor begins to deal with the emergency. Well, what he thinks is the emergency. Sherman will try to revive Eugenia, Betty will free the strangely bound Pruitt, and Victor will search for the missing cast. Scott, however gives Betty her real task...he hands Betty Pruitt's gun to watch Rollie with. Betty...feels empowered! :)

Hilary has recovered her shawl and continues to put off Jeff. Jeff can't understand why Hilary didn't understand the letter. Hilary proves her familiarity with the letter by reciting portions of it. (Obviously from lower on the page that we saw on-screen. :) But then she realizes that Mackie is reciting the same words on-screen. If her vision was dimmed by her anger before, believing Jeff is having Mackie read her Dear Jane letter on air really makes her blind to reason.

Victor is having no luck finding the rest of the cast, but Maple finds him. Victor stops in front of his picture (looking very JBL-ish in front of the original WENN sign) in the hallway while Maple is taken by Victor's tall, firm posture wrapped in a policeman's uniform. She offers to be his organist. After all, experience is her name. So Victor begins to proposition her, "Listen! This might be inordinately impromptu of me, Miss Experience, but would you be willing to go on the air for this radio station right now?"

But Victor is interrupted by a strange cleaning lady, who seems slightly Germanic, who wants to "mop up." She inadvertently brings to Victor's attention that he's in a policeman's uniform.

Step Two.

Hilary confronts Mackie, live and on the air. Since it's always seemed to me there was a close friendship between Hilary and Mackie, her wrath at him seems to indicate how out-of-control she is. I don't think she's been this bad off since the first time her and Scott acted on air.

Mackie identifies the stock monologue he's been reading, but Hilary has long since stopped listening. Finally, even Mackie, who's been very patient with Hilary in the past, is close to losing his temper and tries to be firm with her. This pushs Hilary even more over the brink and, safety be hanged, she's going to throw water at Mackie in an electrical environment.

Mackie luckily dodges. Maple, coming through the door, has no chance. Maple certainly has no interest in being cowed by Hilary and, taking advantage of the cleaning woman's mop bucket, dowses Hilary with sudsy, filthy mop water. Luckily, Hilary is not electrocuted. After a brief moment of all-consuming fury, Hilary starts to break down in Scott's comforting arms (who's been busy trying to bring Eugenia around).

Mackie tries to cover for the odd events the listeners have heard and tries to pretend it's all been intentional.

Victor is at the switchboard taking a listener complaint about morning shows in the evening. "Evening?" he puzzles, looking at his watch.

Step Three.

Mr. Foley has wandered in and reacts in stunned silence to seeing Victor. He's followed shortly by Gertie, who reacts with a stunning scream. But she recovers quickly and gives Victor a heartfelt hug, welcoming him back to the station (expressing the reaction of many of us out in the viewing audience). She cheerfully pulls on his cheeks. Mr. Foley cautiously pulls on his ear. As well as poking him in his side and slapping him in the face!

And we have another date supplied. (A rare event on "Remember WENN.")

"Oh, this is the happiest day of my life. It's the day of a miracle. Oh, God bless September first, nineteen forty-one."

Which calls to Victor's attention that not only did he have the wrong time of day, but he's had the wrong year in mind.

Step Four.

Mr. Eldridge reacts typically. "Victor! Where in the hell have you been?"

Back in Studio A, Hilary has recovered and is ready to take a swing at Maple, who is trying to tell them about Victor.

Jeff has finally pieced together where the odd lines Hilary claimed were in his letter to her came from. It was from the book Pavla claimed Jeff wanted back. Jeff obviously told Pavla where the monologue had come from. Once she saw that Hilary believed the letter was authentic, she moved to make sure no one would run across the monologue in the book.

As Hilary begins to mentally digest the concept that she's completely misread the situation, she calms down enough to realize...Victor has passed between the doorway of life and death!! Hilary screams, startling Maple into letting the still unconscious Eugenia fall forward onto the organ, giving a spooky organ highlight to Hilary's "It's Victor. He's alive!"

Of course, Victor chooses this moment to walk into the room, causing Hilary to briefly faint. (#5)

Victor sees Jeff, "Jeff." Victor is probably reminded of his contacts with Jeff over the last year.

Step Five. And I think Victor has been progressed through the last year to the present. Certainly, any final jogging he's needed is provided by Jeff's explanation.

Seems like we hit all around the Jeff/letter situation. We were right about "Dearest Hilary" indicating that the letter wasn't straightforward. And we were right about the contents of the letter being from some already written play or monologue (I think this was Biz’s). But we were wrong that Jeff expected Hilary to recognize it since it was really written for Pavla to learn acting with. Also, our guess that code was used was correct, but only in regards to the real letter that Pavla trashed.

In the real letter, Jeff revealed to Hilary that Victor was still alive. Jeff trusted Hilary enough to entrust Victor's life into her hands. This is definitely not the same relationship we saw between them at the start of season one. However, it may take a while for Hilary to realize this.

Jeff was Victor's civilian contact. After "The New Actor," I noted his "lack of amazement at Betty's statement ('Maybe [Jonathan Arnold] has some good, personal reason for being like that')" and that he quickly distracted "the others from it (a quick 3-word reply to Betty's astonishing speculation immediately followed by getting Gertrude out of the room before she has time to wonder about Betty's statement.)"

I'm very glad to see that Rupert spun a good mystery. If no one can solve your mystery, then you have told it badly. You might as well trick the people by having the hero pull out his never-mentioned atomizer at the last moment and blast the alien armada. Being the nature of television, he of course laid in alternate possibilities (Doug?) against non-availability of cast members. And he certainly put in a lot of red herrings (Maple's interest in Betty's defense of Arnold; Gertie's uncanny mimicking of the real life situation of Victor).

Victor's returned memory helps back up Jeff's story about Pavla, the Czechoslovakian refuge who worked for the Germans. Hilary is calming down enough to facetiously try to protect those associated with her man, Jeff Singer. "Be careful now...you're talking about the second...or third Mrs. Singer."

Scott had figured out Pavla. She simply wanted a big assist in becoming an American actress. What he and we didn't know was that she knew about Victor and used that knowledge to extort Jeff into marrying her.

"Hilary, nothing happened between me and Pavla. I've always loved only you." Maple, and we the audience, are touched by Jeff's profession of love for Hilary. (Rodney grabs a big tissue and blows his nose: Honkkk! Well what were you expecting? Sniff, sniff?)

Hilary now realizes that Jeff has reasons that do hold water. (Much as a pitcher and a mop bucket hold water.) But she also realizes that she is now firmly steering the events. Since she obviously fears Jeff's idealism will lead to choices not in the best interest of their relationship, it's clear she doesn't plan to release the steering wheel for a long time to come. In fact, she's already thinking more clearly than Jeff. In response to his marriage proposal, she points out that there is still the issue of his third marriage to resolve. "Oh yeah. But other than that."

Hilary makes her conditions clear. Her plans include "bedeviling, belittling and begrudging [his] every breathing moment."

Hilary pouts as Jeff sweetly agrees, "Sounds great to me, Hilary." I think we're going to be exposed to the bickering Singers all through the season.

Victor starts to wrap things up. He sends Jeff to contact U.S. Government officials. His commanding tone, "Eugenia!", brings her out of her stupor. "Perhaps you and Miss Experience could give us a four-handed rendition of 'Second-Hand Rose' for our listening public while we regroup."

Eugenia, happy that her friend is alive and well, enthusiastically agrees, "Yes, Victor!"

Maple, "Miss Experience," sweetly concurs, "Sure thing, Vic." Scott looks slightly disconcerted by Maple's friendliness.

Well, that will take only a few minutes. Victor thinks quickly. "...Followed by...'An Hour With Hilary Booth'."

Hilary, feeling quite good now that she has Jeff under her thumb, looks at the time, 8:29 PM, and gives a reliable estimate, "That should carry us through to midnight. Thank you, maestro."

Victor gathers "Mr. Sherman" and Betty and heads to the station manager's office. "I think it's best if we tell the world nothing about Jonathan Arnold for the time being." That Victor Comstock was playing the part of Jonathan Arnold was about the ONLY secret not revealed to WENN's listening audience. Although if the WENN listening audience is as bright as the "Remember WENN" viewing audience, they may be able to put all the pieces together.

"Sure, but, there are some things I need to tell you, Victor," Scott say with a somewhat guilty look on his face. He's probably thinking about how he took information about Betty and the station and, instead of just doing the favor of dropping off the book for Tom Eldridge because he was heading that way, represented himself as Victor's selected temporary station manager. Or even the lies he told to denigrate Victor in order to build himself up ("Victor was a lost puppy in London. Good thing he had me to show him around.")

On the chat, I said that I thought there was no need to rehash that. The plot had served to launch Scott's character arc. However, thinking about it realistically, Scott never did fess up to the others about his true relationship with Victor (as Betty oh, so gently reminded him in "And How!"). Now, almost certainly the others will quiz Victor about the last 18 months, including the time he spent with his pal, Scott Sherwood. So it probably is best if Scott deals squarely with Victor on this issue, before he finds out from others. Taking Scott's behavior through most of Season 3 into account, I think Betty will probably support keeping Scott around.

Victor sits down in his chair, happier than he's been in probably 15 months. "Tell Mr. Eldridge and Gertie that I'm back."

Betty smiles happily at Victor. Things are finally getting back to normal.

Scott...frowns, finally realizing what, in addition to the embezzling, had put the kibosh on the budding relationship between Betty and himself. The words I imagine going through his head are, "Well, this is going to be a little tougher than I thought..."

We could probably have gotten more detailed answers (there are certainly some details that have not been fleshed out) if the episode had not been squeezed into just 24 minutes as the rest of the season’s episodes will be. Sigh.

But wait. Is Rollie still safely bound in the Green Room? What about that strange cleaning lady, Mrs. Etruscan? Was she a German agent sent to inconspicuously make sure that things went as planned? If so, did she sneak Pruitt out? Or, since the Germans planned to have him killed, did she plug Rollie with a silencer? And why give a name to such a small part? Will her character be seen again?

And what of Scott's profession of love (albeit under the gun...literally)? While nothing that Betty didn't already know, now that the crisis is over will Betty be moved as she turns it over in her mind?

What about next week's preview? Jeff and Hilary sitting on far ends of the table. Mr. Foley and Maple sitting next to each other. And where's Victor? Intensive military debriefing and medical checks? Complications from Pruitt?

And what about me? Will I continue writing so much that it seems like "Annotated WENN?" I certainly hope not! (This is 27 KB. "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" was only 19 KB and "Happy Homecomings" was 18 KB.)

“Thanks a Lottery”

26 June 1998
[Mr. Tom Eldridge displays his winning lottery ticket worth $70,000.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Howard Meltzer.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

When last we met...

reprises some background for this week's episode.

In "Happy Homecomings," Scott was trying to get some money for Mr. Eldridge by having Rollie buy Mr. Eldridge's long shot lottery ticket for a fair price.

By the end of "Happy Homecomings," Scott was at the end of a gun, believing he was probably in his last moments. The only thing he felt he had left to say, was his confession of love to Betty.

Betty, fully understanding the consequences, tried to make herself the target instead of Scott, by uttering the phrase, "Buy barley futures."

From "Some Time, Some Station," we are reminded that the only person wounded was Rollie. Also, Scott seemed ready to bring Victor up to speed on some of his more nefarious activities at the station.

And now, for our regularly scheduled program...

With all the hubbub over the gunfight at the Green Room Corral, Betty and Scott have yet to speak privately about the incident, particularly Scott's confession of love. Betty enters the station the following morning, hoping others are around so she won't be alone with Scott, thus avoiding an opportunity for just such a conversation. No one seems to be around, so she believes she has a temporary respite.

Scott, however, emerges from Studio A. He sees Betty before she sees him. He's obviously concerned how the conversation will turn out. But he's obviously set his mind to deal forthrightly with the situations and not dodge out of them with his usual, "Oh, will you look at the time." Steeling himself, he approaches Betty.

He informs Betty that Victor's already arrived, working with Washington to wrap up "The Case of Jonathan Arnold." Scott emphasizes that he himself is actually early (!!!) making sure Studio A is ready for broadcasting. Then he tenderly slides into the topic he's most concerned about. "How does Betty feel about me now? Was she moved by my declaration of love? Has she told Victor about my misrepresentation and embezzling? Am I on her chopping block for today?"

Or more succinctly, "...all's right with the world. If everything’s hunky-dory with you...?"

This line of questioning and Betty's nervousness leads to the Freudian admission that Scott is looking pretty hunky! Since, in a free association kind of way, Betty has managed to touch on their relationship, Scott presses on to yesterday's events. But each prefers that the OTHER actually address Scott's "Hey Betty, I love you." As Irving Berlin wrote, "Be Careful, It's My Heart."

Scott manages to get Betty to actually broach the subject, but it's Scott that actually manages to enunciate the four letter word.

Betty speculates that Scott was just trying to distract Victor by his admission. She also speculates why, according to her theory, that Scott would think such a distraction might work. But she merely describes her own reactions, that she felt his words were "startling, unexpected...The very last thing [she] would ever expect to hear."

"Oh, sure," Scott concurs.

Since Scott had just walked into a gun in his face, with little time for even his quick thinking, I find Betty's theory wholly without merit.

Scott now addresses Betty's reaction. "Then, of course, when you put your life on the line for me, I realized you knew Victor would never harm you of all people."

"Yes, exactly. So I guess we both understand each other."

"Completely. So."



They stare into each other's eyes after they've explained everything. There is no doubt. They DO understand completely. But it's going to take some time for each to sort everything out.

As for Scott's theory. It has...some merit. Certainly she had been able to observe Victor for several minutes...the hesitation to shoot, the shaking hands. But that she KNEW Victor would be unable to shoot? No. She could be certain about death and taxes, but not the effectiveness of the mind control techniques. She DID put her life on the line. Despite Betty's protestations that Scott's admission of love was startling, I have no doubt she's believed in his love. But his open admission when he could not rationally expect to gain from it may have been the deciding factor in her decision.

Let me get on a little soapbox now. After "Happy Homecomings" aired, there were several that indicated belief that Betty would be incapable of willingly sacrificing her life for Scott unless his statement of love had moved her to return his love. As active duty military, looking back over a career of service, I found this somewhat disheartening. I and others like me have stood, ready to lay our lives on the line for not just our loved ones, but for millions of strangers. It's the forming of communities where people are willing to sacrifice for the common good at the risk of their own lives that has maintained our liberties and qualities of life. It's when there are not enough people in the culture of that bent that creatures like Stalin become lord and master. Neville Chamberlain said, "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing." Within days of saying that, he signed an agreement with Hitler he claimed meant, "...peace for our time." And by so doing, set an example of non-sacrifice that paved the way for his fellow countrymen, strangers and loved ones, to be put in mortal peril by the bombing of England.

By all means, grant Betty the opportunity to be moved by Scott's words of love from what might soon have been the lips of a dying man. She is supposed to be a human being. But please don't be so cynical as to assume she is incapable of self-sacrifice. She is, after all, supposed to be a human being.

Scott and Betty enter Victor's office. Scott lets out a sigh. One dreaded conversation is down.

Meanwhile, the rest of the station personnel begin arriving. Tom checks and finds his lottery ticket has the winning number.

Gertie is so happy that Victor is alive and well that she proclaims on September the 2nd, 1941, that "Here we are, living in a land where peace and prosperity still prevail."

In the station manager's office, Scott is removing Pruitt's decorations. Since Pruitt is spoke of so casually, obviously my wild speculation last week that Mrs. Etrsucan might have spirited him away has proved awry. :)

Victor's mind is on wrapping up the Jonathan Arnold aspect of his life. But he's still curious about the past year and wonders who was the station manager in his absence. Betty and Scott paint different pictures of this mystery station manager. Each is accurate to an extent, though the descriptions seem at odds. But Scott puts off the details until Victor's return from Washington and says, "When all is said and done, you know who really ran this station while you were gone."

Victor agrees and Rupert plays with the old gag of someone being oblivious to those around him. Victor says, "Betty, take a..." while Betty grabs a pad and pencil. After years of seeing this set-up in uncounted sitcoms, we expect Victor will dictate a letter thanking someone wholly inappropriate. Instead, Victor takes a long verbal pause as he rises from the chair. He concludes with, "...chair. How about this one?" indicating the station manager's chair.

I beamed with pride as both men recognized Betty's merits. But Betty herself looked strangely neutral.

At the entrance, the others are still stunned by Mr. Eldridge's $70,000 win. "Mr. Eldridge, you won the Swiss lottery," Mackie says. "The Bern sweepstakes. You've got money to burn!"

Upon learning of Tom's fortune, Hilary, much calmer since yesterday, is ready to break ground on buildings named after her.

Victor prepares for his "rest and relaxation" by packing station documents so he can review the station's last year. I suspect he may notice Scott's near success at bringing the station out of the red.

Unfortunately, Tom has apparently misplaced the lottery ticket.

In Studio A, as is appropriate to radio, we meet the other sound engineer, Lester, first by the sound of his voice. "Thirty seconds, guys!"

Then Jeff arrives late. (Scott early? Jeff late? What a topsy-turvy world.) Jeff gleefully accepted yesterday that he was going to be in the doghouse for a while. Now he'll have to face up to the reality of it. Hilary spells out the problem with picking up where things left off on Bedside Manor. "How can we chat over a brimming cup of Ingram's coffee when I'm brimming over with the urge to grind you down to a powder and percolate you for the slow drip that you are." And this is just the first of the barbs she hurls his way in the next 60 seconds. Jeff exhales and hangs his head. Hilary is already wearing him out.

Tom's ticket is found and Victor and Scott are in agreement that his lottery win is "Big, big news!"

Scott seems to be coming to grips with Victor. Scott thought that all the tales of Victor might have just been the nice things people say about you when you're dead . But yesterday, Scott witnessed Victor in action (eventually) and the response of the others to him. I think he finally realizes the perhaps Victor does care about Betty as he does. (Much like Scot in "Rendezvous in Rabat.") Perhaps even his "know who really ran this station" question to Victor was simply a test. While Scott doesn't seem ready to correct Victor's "Sherman", he's relaxed enough to play with "Vic."

And now that he doesn't expect to get booted, and he has a measure of Victor, it's time to help Victor make his train to D.C. This will give him more time with Betty without Victor.

Meanwhile, we've got bad news. I'm not so good at business stuff, but if I follow Betty's news of WENN being shunted into another corporation, Gloria Redmond is no longer involved with the station. Which leaves us at the tender mercies of a nameless investor who has decreed retirement at age 65, putting Tom out to pasture. Along with cuts in programming and staff.

So many cuts, they can't even hire a waiter or waitress from The Buttery to serve the food they've had catered. So after straw drawing, Gertie ends up waitressing. And she doesn't take it very well.

Mackie gets a chance to roast Tom, but is only appreciated by Tom. Especially as his comments begin aimlessly meandering.

Tom's love for the station and his fellow WENNers is demonstrated as he volunteers to sink a great deal of his winnings into the station. He asks for suggestions.

Betty's concern for her overworked actors is greeted by a reminder that more actors means less lines.

Jeff's concern for the carnage he's witnessed overseas leads to an impractical expansion of WENN into the short-wave frequencies.

Mackie has a more oblique way of aiding WENN. It would allow him to accept an offer to play Polonious in a regional tour of "Hamlet" while remote broadcasting his regular roles and announcing from a van bought by Mr. Eldridge. I don't know about trying to do WENN during the day and acting on stage at night. Sounds like a heavy workload!

At last Mackie will have his opportunity to do Shakespeare. But I've been suckered by the two-week tour before. It's never just a two-week tour. :)

Hilary suggests a viewing audience for their radio broadcasts. Frankly, if people were to observe the goings on at the station, I don't know how long they would be allowed to remain on the air. :)

Maple suggests a big ole Christmas party. Most places I've worked at have their Christmas party no later than the second week of December. Usually on a Wednesday or Thursday. But with their broadcasting schedule, it would probably be impractical during the week. I would suggest, say, the evening of Saturday, the 6th of December.

Maple and Mr. Foley are sitting next to each other and Maple vetoes his idea of enhancing the sound effects with real animals before he has a chance to say it.

Scott would like do the impossible task of buying back for Tom twenty years of his life.

In the end, none of them can imagine taking Mr. Eldridge's money. "Tom Eldridge, I guess you're stuck with the money."

Unfortunately, the new management at WENN Enterprises seems bent on decimating the station. Props rented for use in the shows must be returned. Actors must be let go. Electricity use must go down. Betty tells Lester (this time we SEE him but don't HEAR him) that only one microphone will be used. Even Scott's "Betty's" must be cut down!!

And Betty must release the reins of the station to Scott who ("Bully for him!") does NOT gloat.

Hilary continues in her refusal to read Jeff's letters that she returned. (It's immaterial. She already has a timeline for their reunion which starts with the dissolution of Jeff's marriage to Pavla.)

In the Studio, Hilary falls in line with the station's new budget by conserving syllables. She calls Eugenia "Eugie." :)

Only Gertie gets to read portions of one before Hilary manages dump them into a burning wastebasket.

Tom Eldridge leads the others to believe his winning lottery ticket has been destroyed with the letters, fulfilling Mackie’s “money to burn” foreshadowing.

In the station manager's office, Scott is working on some way to make the new budget work. Incidentally, Scott must of got distracted and failed to remove the picture Rollie had by the light switch at the doorway. The one that Victor seems to have straightened in "Some Time, Some Station." And the one knocked awry between scenes in "Happy Homecomings." The picture seems to be as mysteriously menacing as the traffic signal in "Twin Peaks."

Betty arrives with the good news that the previous investor has been bought out by someone new who wants things back to "business as normal." A person's age doesn't matter, so Tom Eldridge will no longer be forced to retire. Gender doesn't matter so there will be no problem with Betty being given management responsibility.

It's not too surprising when Mr. Eldridge's great nephew Harry, mentioned in passing earlier, shows up and confirms that the new "moneybags broker” is Mr. Eldridge himself.

As Betty and Scott leave for the night, Tom is cleaning the door windows at Studio A because he "likes his station to shine."

The previews for next week, in addition to making Melinda seem speechless, shows Jeff trying Scott's "Betty, Betty, Betty" line. As well as another appearance by Victor.

“You've Met Your Match”

3 July 1998
[Mr.Foley and Eugenia return from their 'match.'] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Howard Meltzer.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

A brief kiss goodbye and then Victor was off to war. Betty has waited patiently to continue the relationship only tentatively started before he left in "Hilary Booth, Registered Nurse." The day of his return was marred by mind control, amnesia, and mopping up afterwards. The day after saw Victor called away to Washington. So Betty has yet to spend any real time at all with Victor.

Betty waits anxiously in the reception area for Victor's safe return to the station at 1:30 PM. However, he's 45 minutes late and Betty is beginning to fret. However, she knows that part of her appeal to Victor is her independent self-reliance. That she wouldn't be one to constantly worry and be weepy about him is one of her attractions. Besides, look at how Scott has responded to her aloofness.

So she tries for an appearance of nonchalance in her fretting.

First Tom comes in with his unique way to tell time. Then Hilary (whom Tom has no problem making no fuss about) arrives with Jeff still following her. I think Jeff just can't believe that Hilary isn't going to give an inch until the divorce with Pavla is finalized, notarized and probably folded, stamped and mutilated. (Hmmm, wonder how long this is going to take?)

Scott enters and witnesses Betty improvising a rational for being in the reception area and isn't fooled a bit. Scott, who probably saw Victor approaching the building, manages to get Betty to elaborate on her denials of waiting in the reception area out of concern for Victor. "I am not the least bit concerned about the welfare of Victor Comstock," she manages to exclaim as Victor comes in through the door behind her.

"Not even a little, Betty?" Victor seems unperturbed so he probably realizes Betty was being picked on for being concerned about him. (But not, I suppose, about the underlying tension between Scott and Betty.)

Meanwhile, the dearth of an AMC or W-E-N-Nterprise budget has reduced Eugenia to practicing on a paper keyboard. :)

And Hilary schemes for a way to get under Jeff's skin even more so he will reduce the level of his protestations. Made me think I was in a scene from "Animal House" briefly as Boon and Otter reacted to something incomprehensible Bluto had said. "Huh?" "Shhh, she's rolling."

In the station manager's office we get some great news. "Are you back now, Victor? For good?" Betty asks.

"Seems that way." (Yay!)

However, reviewing the past year's logs, Victor feels as if "the station was fine without me." It reminded me of "There But for the Grace" where Victor said, "I don't know if this station needs me, but...I need to be here."

Then to Betty's horror, Victor is very impressed with the range of ideas Scott generated. Such as the soap opera woven around topical events (which was kind of interesting but potentially alienating to the audience.) Victor ticks off several more of the ideas (which Victor didn't get to see how they were implemented) and effuses on the effulgence of each. Betty listens as she is reminded of the failure of WENNsday (as do we all). "Betty, I never thought of that!" Victor sums up, proudly.

"Neither did I," Betty says, weakly.

Scott enters and is happy to hear Victor espouse a belief in risk-taking. Betty remains bewildered by Scott's humility.

"Victor. It's time I told you about the looniest idea I ever had. One that Betty definitely had nothing to do with."

(Scott reminds Victor of their brief meeting in London.)

[Meanwhile, we cut to the hallway, where Hilary, still talking to Eugenia, has decided to take the tack of trying to toy with someone else at WENN to drive home the point to Jeff that she is single. This allows us to return to a station manager's office which has become more film noirish, i.e. dimly lit and filled with shadows. The next scenes are played with a series of intense close ups.]

"To be honest, I only have the vaguest memory of meeting you at that pub in London."

"Well, we only had a couple of beers. And..."

"And after that, you say you came to WENN and auditioned here as an" (beat) "actor?"

"No, that wasn't until later. When I first got here, I, uh..."


"I ran the station."

"You" (beat) "ran the station? Based on what past experience?"

"Based on my" (brief beat) "forging your name on a letter of recommendation for the job. Betty would you excuse us please? I" (pause, a little catch in the voice) "I think Victor has to catch up on a lot of punching me."

"Would you, Betty?"

"Victor. Uh. Scott was..."

"It's all right, Betty. If you don't mind."

I must admit, I let out a little cheer when Scott stepped up to the plate and just laid it out flat with no embellishing. I think he's starting to catch on with this honesty thing.

There was some debate on the chat last night as to whether it was in Victor's personality to punch Scott.

I think one has to take into account different cultures. 1941 was a different time. It was a time when if a middle-aged married man had an affair with your young daughter, fisticuffs was probably the least that was called for. Back in the sixties, where I lived, I suspect gunplay would have been called for. In the world of today, the father thinks the adulterer is a great guy and it's the prosecutor who is in the wrong.

But some of the behavior from old films that seems manufactured is still conducted today. A friend of mine told me that he had gotten in a fight with another guy, but that they became good friends afterwards. Now, I think that's just nuts. Someone comes beating on me...they will NOT be a friend of mine.

In my own life, there was an occasion of a romantic triangle. The other guy at one point actually offered me the opportunity to take a swing at him. (And no, he wasn't planning for it to be the beginning of a fight. He was serious.)

I was not raised in the first decade of this century as Victor was so I did not accept the offer. Instead I looked at him as if he was a Neanderthal. He made his choices with full knowledge of the consequences. No amount of violence could repair the damage in our relationship or take the events back. If he was looking for absolution, he would have to go elsewhere.

But the two incidents I've related show that some of this weird violent behavior continues today.

Certainly after hearing what Scott had just told him there would be a certain amount of emotional release of the anger by giving Scott a good punch.

Also keep in mind that Scott is always thinking.

First, in front of Betty, he confesses his abuse of Victor's name to get the station manager job. The hardest thing he's had to say since confessing the truth to Betty. That part is pure win-win. Scott feels better for having told the truth and not having to hide it, wondering when Victor would find out. Victor knows about it straight from the source. And Betty can't be anything but impressed. (When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or rather, when you grow lemons, make lemonade.)

Second, there must be consequences. Possibly more for Scott's code of honor than Victor's, he offers a consequence so that the situation can be closed and they can all move forward.

Victor, who I have a suspicion has done some boxing, apparently swings while Scott is preparing, sparing Scott from having to stand there in dreaded anticipation. ("Never saw it coming.")

Now...Finally. After Victor and Scott leave searching for ice, all this Victor/Betty/Scott stuff, Victor the spy stuff, and Scott the con man stuff is done and we can get on with regular episodes. So we fade done on that aspect of WENN...

...Don't believe it for a moment, brother...

...And we fade up on Hilary Booth's "You've Met Your Match."

When Hilary announces that all contestants have been delayed by a whim of fate, Jeff immediately realizes that Hilary is up to something. Hilary announces that she will be the sole contestant for a date with one of the WENN men.

"We interrupt this program...for anything else."

Maple interjects that there are normally several couples so why doesn't everyone get involved. A range of ideas for Maple's motives come to mind. An opportunity to re-open relations with Scott? Perhaps a chance for a new relationship with the man who looked fine in a policeman’s uniform? Or possibly looking out for her friend Scott and providing an opportunity for him to go on a date with Betty.

Hilary has, in fact, decided the victim most likely to inflict the most emotional damage to Jeff. Victor, Jeff's good friend and the most powerful man at the station. She tries to work with Tom Eldridge to fix the selection using a color ribbon code.

Which brings up the WENN word of the week: heliotrope. Heliotrope is a light tint of purple; a reddish lavender. Hilary and Betty may have heard of it before, but I certainly hadn't. Heliotrope also refers to any plant which turns towards the sun as well as an arrangement of mirrors for reflecting sunlight from a distant point to an observation station. (Henna, by the way, is a color midway between red-brown and orange-brown.)

Try as Hilary might to keep her plan and codes a secret, she is discovered by Maple, Gertie and Jeff. She keeps changing the color codes as each is discovered. The idea is that the boxes have the name of the woman on a card inside. If Hilary knows which box has which name, she can hand them out to the men with full knowledge of whom she is pairing up with whom.

For those who might have thought that Scott was sad and depressed at the end of "Some Time, Some Station," Scott dispels these notions by enthusiastically agreeing with Maple's assessment that "Victor doesn't stand a chance."

Just as Victor anticipated call-in programs and Scott anticipated all-news channels, so Betty created a proto-Dating Game. (Actually, I think there was another show that had the contestants come back and talk about the date, but I can't remember it's name.) It's nice to know Betty's getting some creation credits. Betty discusses the way the program works while Victor contemplates his chances of getting lucky with Betty.

Hilary observes the attempts of the others, particularly Scott who seems to compose them together in a limerick, at memorizing her color schemes. Unbeknownst to the others she switches the names in the boxes from the women's to the men's. She has Tom arrange the boxes in alphabetical order by name. But she meant the name of the men (Victor Comstock, Tom Eldridge, Mr. Foley, Scott Sherwood and Jeffrey Singer). Tom, instead, puts them in alphabetical order by the name of the color (blue, green, red, white, yellow.)

Thinking that the first box is Victor's, she picks it up and finds to her horror that she has a date with Scott (blue).

Eugenia picks red and gets Mr. Foley. They go where they can hear each other (would that there were more places like that today.)

Betty and Victor look longingly at each other before they split up for their separate dates.

Victor goes off to the writer's room with the buffet-and-gentile-noncomphrehending Maple.

Hilary is furious at having her plan to increase Jeff's jealousy ruined. In fact, it brings out the jealously in her. I'd hate to think what would have happened if Maple had got Jeff's name. All Maple's protestations about Jeff not being her type would have been instantly disregarded. So Jeff decides to play out Hilary's plan and asks Betty to go along with it.

Betty tells Hilary she's happy to eat oysters with "Everyone's Jeff." Jeff calls her his "Itty Bitty Betty Baby!"

They each start warming up to their roles. Jeff becomes "Jeffy" (sure to enrage Hilary with memories of Celia) and Betty becomes his "Pretty Pumpkin."

I love that Scott pops in, ready to have his say, and when he sees Hilary on the warpath he does an immediate about face and heads back out.

Hilary complains to Scott about Betty's two shoes, her happy clams and her false pumpkins. Scott sides with Hilary over the impropriety of the date. But as Jeff already pointed out...this was all Hilary's idea.

Victor and Maple are finally getting to know each other. Maple removes any lingering doubts we've had about Maple's old job at the burlesque theater.

In the control room, Hilary explains to Scott that she had Lester set up microphones at all the dining tables. She had planned for Jeff to hear Hilary flirting with Victor (which would be an amusing scene by itself). At the moment Hilary and Scott have decidedly different ideas about Betty's chasteness. But Hilary knows she can count on Scott to go along with listening in.

Perhaps Lester gave Betty a head's up. Perhaps Betty was just on her guard after "The Ghost of WENN." But Betty has found the microphone so she and Jeff continue their performance. "Oh...Betty, Betty, Betty!"

So that she and Jeff can really talk, Betty cuts on the radio so that it will drown out their voices. Forget "Animal House," now we're in M*A*S*H where their declarations of love are being broadcast for all to hear!

In Hilary and Scott's rush to stop the broadcasting of Jeff and Betty, they tune in Victor and Maple's conversation as they dance. Maple pretty much removes any lingering doubts we've had about her previous relationship to "Scotty".

Betty smiles brightly when Scott enters the room. "Scotty!" Something else to hold over him now.

Hilary, however is enraged that the control she thought she had at the end of "Some Time, Some Station" seems to have vanished in the backfiring of her own schemes. Where Victor's punch had been a considered judgment and punishment meted out, Hilary's punch is pure lynch-mob revenge.

I feel sorry for the camera lens.

In the end, the couples gave their 11 PM summary on the air (but off our air). Except for Eugenia and Mr. Foley who never showed back up. However, they burst into the studio for the 12 AM sign off with appearances suggesting it was the first of many dates to come.

In the promo, I was glad to see the restoration of Melinda's voice!

Next week is the marathon episode. The cast tries to stay on the air continuously. As a poster pointed out a few weeks ago...what an excellent opportunity to have the whole cast at the station on a Sunday...

“And If I Die Before I Sleep”

10 July 1998
[Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

"...that's the last masterpiece I'm boiling down to a 15 minute potboiler."

"Simmer down, Betty."

With this play on words, we're soon to the set up for this week's plot. (Considering how much coffee is imbibed this episode it's an opportune time to mention experts recommend you do not boil coffee; it induces a bitter taste.)

We don't know what goes on between episodes so we don't know how much Victor and Betty have talked about events since he left for England. But they seem comfortable discussing Victor's death and Betty's reaction to it. The subject comes up in passing as Betty presents Victor with a script for an epic series that would even give J. Michael Straczynski pause: a saga encompassing all of Shakespeare's Italian plays!

Scott bursts in complaining. He doesn't want to tell Pittsburgh about an accomplishment of a competitor station, WTN of Philadelphia. WTN probably has a strong signal since Philadelphia is over 300 miles away and (at least as of "World of Tomorrow") WENN only covers a 70 mile radius. Of course, even if WTN's signal doesn't reach Pittsburgh during the day it probably reaches there at night by bouncing off the ionosphere. (People of the nineties do remember something called AM, right?)

The accomplishment was staying on the air for 53 hours non-stop. Betty considers it a cheap ploy but in what seems to be a continuation of a thread from last week, Victor thinks it's a marvelous idea. Scott can have what he wants. Instead of broadcasting the accomplishment of WTN, he can tell the audience that WENN plans to break the record. Betty can have what she wants, the broadcast of "When in Rome."

"Betty. Scott. I think I may have a way of making you both happy."

"Yeah, but Victor, I don't want you to step aside just because I...Oh, you meant something else."

How much Victor made of this is unknown. Step aside...from the station manager's job? Victor included Betty as part of "both." Step aside...from Betty? Dump her? Golly, what could Scott have been suggesting? An interesting scene to watch three times for all three faces.

[Oh, just a note for continuity's sake. While Victor was in Washington between "Thanks a Lottery" and "You've Met Your Match," the mysterious Dickensian drawing by the light switch in the station manager's office was finally replaced.]

For safety's sake, Victor and Scott double team Hilary. Scott takes care of putting the one and a half lumps in her coffee, including the tricky half cube. "Here's your coffee, sugar."

Scott picks up the representatives from the Gimlet Guide to World Records and soon Mr. Victor Cornstalk and Mr. Sherwood Comstock meet Mr. Charles Abernathy and Nurse Naomi Brumpton.

We're provided with another of Scott's world traveling locations. Des Moines, Iowa. He considers Des Moines as nothing to joke about.

With rumors of only five appearances for JBL this season, it's not particularly surprising to hear Victor announce that the government has a new task for him. :-( But it's something he can work on at the station. :-)

Victor's loving arm rub (reminiscent of Betty's handling of Victor's clothes in "In the WENN Small Hours...") seems to indicate that they have been courting.

Soon it's Monday at 8 AM (the other AM) and the play is the thing.

Nurse Brumpton manages to displace Tom from the coffee making using decaffeinated coffee. But it's not Ingram's decaffeinated coffee, introduced in "I Now Pronounce You Man and Wife Again." It's "Van Winkle Coffee." Sip it and you'll sleep for 20 years.

For the duration of the marathon, Hilary seems willing to treat Jeff decently. Or perhaps she expunged her anger when she gave Jeff a black eye. Or maybe the episode is out of sequence.

"Friends, Romans, WENNmen and women. Lend me your yawns."

Thanks to the parameters of the plot, we get to see some things you wouldn't expect to see on a show limited to the radio station. Such as how some of the cast behave when they wake up in the morning. If we thought Betty was bobcat when she was angry, we now know that Eugenia is a monster when she's awakened.

The hours count down and we continue with radio's most ambiguous drama.

Another stop in Scott's world travelogue: Madagascar. And a stop in Scott's daily travelogue is the hallway where he finds Mr. Abernathy is not doing his normal hawk-like observance of the cast. Instead, he's using the switchboard without Gertie and claims to be calling the home office in Des Moines at 6:15 AM Iowa time. Further, he seems to be nervous about something because he pretends to have a sense of humor. Even fatigued, Scott is suspicious and investigates. (It would have been a good idea to call Mr. Medwick and have him ship over some Agitato pronto, but Scott was tired, after all.)

At hour 33, with the broadcast of the Merrick Beddy-Bye Mattress, the show goes into overdrive. Scott looks like he's facing death and desolation. Jeff and Hilary console each other in what may be their most tender scene yet. Eugenia seeks revival and Mr. Foley sucks his thumb. And Betty manages to lay down horizontally for a nap on a stool surface that doesn't look more than fifteen inches wide.

Scott tries to improvise a cover for Betty's sleeping with some of Mr. Foley's bag of tricks. In her fatigue, Eugenia reveals her intimate knowledge of his effects kit, much to Mr. Foley's concern. :)

Betty is still sleeping 15 hours later when we spot Mr. Abernathy pouring some liquid from a bottle prominently labeled "Valerian" into the coffee pot. She comes to in a state of confusion. Luckily Scott cures her of her blindness.

Maple comes in to the station sick because what she hears on the radio makes no sense. (And this is different...how?)

Victor arrives with the news that he's wanted for a weekly show in D.C. and will spend the rest of the time at the station. (Not as bad as I feared. Perhaps Christopher Murney's absence for much of the season means that JBL will be in more episodes.)

Victor is prepared to do the weekly show. But he's not prepared for the dementia he witnesses in Studio A. Sleep deprivation has turned our cast into a bunch of loonies. While the others were already severely fatigued by the time Abernathy drugged the coffee, Victor is fresh. But not only does he recognize that the coffee smells wrong, but he's able to identify the Valerian.

The WENN word of the week is "Valerian." Valerians are shrubs generally two to five feet high, native to cool, northern temperate regions. It's roots are acrid-smelling and used as the source of the Valerian nerve sedative and antispasmodic. (Hence Victor's quick recognition that the coffee smell was off. As for correctly recognizing Valerian, perhaps it was something he became familiar with during his days of espionage?) Only a few of the species are native to North America. It's named after Valeria, an old Roman province where the plant is said to be common. This ties in nicely with the Italian theme of Betty's play.

Further, it ties into last week's word. The common valerian, cultivated as an ornamental, is native to Europe and northern Asia and is also known as...the garden heliotrope (although it is not related to true heliotrope plants).

Also linking valerian to Rome is the name of one of it's emperors, Valerian, who reigned from 253 to 260 A.D.

The cast is so far into their delirium they haven't realized that the clock has been unplugged for the last few minutes. Scott does notice the clock, however. As Scott revolves around Betty clockwise, he asks Victor, "Am I rotating in a counter-clockwise direction?" Scott has noticed that the second hand isn't moving. Although the clock says 1:56, it's really 2:05. Hour 54 has been reached!!

Maple finds Abernathy still spiking the coffee even though 54 hours has been reached. (Maybe he's sleep deprived, too.) Maple grabs the bottle from him and the nurse. Maple finds the decaffeinated coffee can. And Scott reveals that Abernathy's call had been to WTN who was bribing Abernathy to keep WENN from breaking their record.

Well, no Pearl Harbor surprise this week. It lurks, somewhere in the future.

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

“Hilary's Agent”

17 July 1998
[An amalgam of signatures.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Richard Shepard.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

Yet another WENN intern has made the move to larger success. Following Celia Mellon's move to films, young Virginia Jones has made it to Broadway. Renamed Virginia Mayo, she's appearing with Eddie Cantor in "Banjo Eyes." (Banjo Eyes was a nickname for Eddie Cantor.)

Hilary is in a rage over her lack of stage roles and calls her agent, Brian Wilburforce, on the carpet. Well, on the couch...with chocolates. She points out to him that the Broadway producer Rex Noble is trying out a new production of "Antony and Cleopatra." She asks, "Why aren't you lining me up for the title role?"

"Certainly," he replies. "Which part?"

This inability to grasp the simple and obvious leads to one of Hilary's soundest conclusions. "You're fired."

However, this leaves Hilary with no agent and a part she wants. She quickly realizes that no one will look after her well-being with as much tenacity as she will. Thus, Doris Snithing is born. So is Doris Snarthing. As well as Doris Snithely (or is that Snively?)

Rex arrives to meet with Hilary just as "Valiant Journey" gets underway. Leonard (Scott) and Philip (Jeff) are asking Daphne (the missing Hilary), in a scene that seems to parallel the undercurrents towing on Victor, Betty and Scott, to make a romantic choice among the two men.

Jeff comes in search of the absent Hilary and is impressed to meet Rex Noble. Hilary assures Jeff that "she'll be long." <g>

Since Hilary tries to maintain her power position of not auditioning, Rex announces that he's on his way to New York to audition Grace Cavendish, currently performing at the Broadhurst, for the role of Cleopatra.

Imagine, Grace in Pittsburgh for an extended time. Hmmm, foreshadowing?

Hilary's impromptu audition convinces him that Hilary should have the part...as long as a deal can be closed with Hilary's agent before his scheduled train to Manhattan.

Hilary has Gertie search for the her wig among the station's wardrobe while she convinces Eugenia to let her borrow her dress, (which is available, also in chartreuse, at Gimballs for $7.95). Along with the wig is the false teeth Hilary used when playing one of the witches in "Macbeth." Doris is now ready to put in an appearance.

Towards the end of her negotiations with Rex, it looks like we're graced with a couple of bloopers. If you look at Doris' glasses, we seem to repeatedly see the reflection of the movie lights. And while the camera stares up at her, we see the missing ceiling to the room. Or rather, you don't see. You know what I mean.

Scott and Jeff are vamping, waiting for Hilary to arrive. As is usual in these cases, Mr. Foley is relied upon to fill some time. Since Daphe eating hors d'oeuvres is suggested, Mr. Foley uses Parson's Puppy Biscuits as a sound source. With music accompaniment that seems reminiscent of "Old McDonald Had a Farm", suggesting animals, Mr. Foley actually bites off a piece of the dog biscuit to provide the sound of Daphne eating. It's taste seems acceptable to him (and well as Scott).

Hilary, although she had written off today's "Valiant Journey" ("Nothing we do can possibly save it now"), she shows for the last moments, having changed from her Doris disguise.

Hilary secures the role and Betty, Scott and Eugenia discuss it over a game of Chinese checkers. Scott doesn't understand why they are helping Hilary. He's probably still fuming over the fire alarm incident. He was hauled to the hoosegow for walking on a ledge, but Hilary seems to suffer not at all for a false fire alarm.

Since I've mentioned this, I also want to praise Rupert for his handling of consequences throughout the series. While most TV shows show outrageous behavior with unreal results and just excuse it as comedy, Rupert has kept WENN more grounded than most. It can't be done every time, and with less running time than before I expect it to decrease, but Rupert often plays out a scene and integrates its consequences as part of the humor. For example, in the season opener, Hilary is ready to throw water in an environment with electrical wires lying about. So Mackie, in one of his humorous voices, points out the consequences to Hilary. It acknowledges physics...it's funny...and we move on.

Growing up, it bothered me when I would watch a TV show and they would use, for example, one of the stunt sugar bottles and break it over someone's head and all it did was knock someone out. I'm not just talking comedies. Straight dramas would do this. In reality, if you smashed a cola bottle over someone's head it would be likely to cave in their skull and kill them. WENN doesn't disconnect with reality as much as most network fare and the humor grows naturally from the characters. And that keeps me glue to AMC instead of the broadcast networks.

Meanwhile, while they play their game of Chinese checkers, Hilary displays her growing familiarity with the switchboard as she opens a line to the writer's room so she can continue the career of Doris.

While Doris is making Betty's life a "living heck," Jeff is impressed with Doris' tenacity representing Hilary. During the conversation where he asks Hilary of his chances of hiring Doris, we learn that last week's relaxation around each other was much more the result of sleep deprivation than a flip-flop in their relationship. Their personal stone age continues.

Jeff presses for Doris' phone number.

"She doesn't have one."

Incredulous, "What kind of agent doesn't have a telephone?"

Inspired, "A secret agent."

Unfortunately for Hilary, when Rex Noble arrives needing to see Doris, Gertie allows Hilary to blunder into telling Rex over the phone that both Doris and Hilary are in the writer's room. (Which, incidentally, is true.) This time, Hilary obtains Betty's dress for Doris' appearance.

Betty is not fast enough putting Hilary's dress on to preclude Scott discovering her and we get to see more of Betty than ever before. I wonder how the line for Betty read when Scott offers to zip her up? Perhaps, "Bahdahduhdit."

In order to solve Hilary's constant goofs with the contract (or was that a way to cover her legally?), the cast, now involved, aid Hilary in creating the appearance of having fired Doris.

Unfortunately, Doris' single-minded work for Hilary is something Rex held in high regard. He compares Doris' allegiance to "the killer instinct of a parental pachyderm pathologically primed to pulverize predators beneath its well-callused heel." And callous is the way he characterizes Hilary's dismissal of Doris.

And a pachyderm is any one of various thick-skinned hoffed mammals, such as an elephant. That's the WENN word of the week.

So Hilary loses the role of Cleopatra but the role of Doris Snithing continues. I loved the shot as Scott says, "'Bout as fast as it takes you to lose your grip on reality." It makes it look as if Hilary is being dragged away "for observation."

“Birth of a Station”

24 July 1998
[Jeff hyperventilates to unconsciousness.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

The show begins with a halt in transportation. Luckily, communications are not likewise impaired and we're treated with a phone call from Mackie, who is acting as Polonius along with John Barrymore in "Hamlet." He claims he'll be "back in a couple of weeks." After hearing that from Jeff last season, I'm not so quick to believe it.

Scott is listening to Jeff's portrayal of Dr. Talbot. Scott, who once pooh-poohed acting ("Ah, piece of cake"), now seems to take an interest in the art of acting: "I would have taken the part in a completely different direction." Of course, since it was one of Jeff's parts Scott did while Jeff was away, he has somewhat of a proprietary interest.

Chinese checkers is not the only game they have around the station for entertainment. Mr. Foley and Tom Eldridge (later Jeff) are playing a game of Parcheesi. I guess they're prepared for future quarantines. <g>

I continue to be amazed by people who confuse actors with their roles, but Cora goes one level further. Perhaps in a state of confusion brought on by the pregnancy and lack of nourishment, she comes to the station expecting the fictional Dr. Talbot to help her. (Of course, many in the country had actually believed our planet was being invaded by Mars while listening to an adaptation of "War of the Worlds" just a little earlier, in 1938. Well, perhaps 1939 in the WENNiverse.)

In the studio, Hilary is missing once again (off to boil some water). Scott steps up to sub for Hilary's nurse role. Scott, world traveler that he is, thinks nothing of speaking of having the nurse be male. Unfortunately, he hasn't read the script ahead of time (probably doesn't want it to be stale), and finds Dr. Talbot is perhaps pitching woo to his nurse. Both Jeff and Scott let their manly men personas take over and manage to modify the dialogue enough not to scandalize the audience. (Although page 23 of the script apparently presents a more significant hurdle.)

The question of whether Mr. Eldridge is genuinely confused (I hold that his comprehension comes and goes) from time to time seems to answered by not picking up on "latter." If he had misheard the word as "ladder," he should have been able to pick up that "latter" goes with "former" plus judge from the context and realize he misheard. And even if he "plays" with them sometimes, as I think he does, I don't think he would have chosen this moment.

Betty manages to get through to a hospital for an ambulance, but it is uncertain whether it is in time for the ambulance to arrive. But by this point, the transportation strike, through some over-zealous strikers, has endangered communications after all. Then the phone goes dead, frustrating attempts to find a closer physician.

To help calm and reassure Cora (per the hospital's suggestion), Scott comes up with the idea of sending Jeff in AS Doctor Talbot. Eugenia suggests breathing exercises for relaxation. She and Jeff do the breathing with Cara and Jeff takes the intensity up to hyperventilation and passes out.

Betty comments that WENN doesn't have an audience they could ask from the stage, "Is there a doctor in the house?" This clicks a switch in Scott's brain. They have all of Pittsburgh listening, stuck at home during the transportation strike. Since the radio in the Green Room can pick up an assortment of radio frequencies, he asks over WENN's frequency if a doctor could use a ham radio to contact them on 120 KHz. They can pick up 120 KHz on the Green Room's radio and then reply to the doctor over WENN's broadcast frequency.

(This seems to be Rupert's version of the "555" phone numbers given out in fictional programs. Generally the lowest receivers go is 150 KHz. Signals below 150 KHz need a huge antenna and are normally washed out with electrical noise and static.)

WENN's reception area becomes a waiting room. Eugenia bursts from the Green Room with the news, "It's either a boy or a girl!"

Tom Eldridge has managed to track down Gus Kahuna ("Don't Act Like That"), who has a truck they could use to reach the hospital. In a stunning coincidence that uses up half of WENN's coincidence allowance for the 4th season in one shot, Gus turns out to be the father Cora had been trying to track down.

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

“The Follies of WENN”

31 July 1998
[WENN Finds Andy Hardy] Written by
Rupert Holmes.

Directed by
Richard Shepard.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13
Remember WENN celebrates its
50th Episode with "The Girls of WENN"
[A Girl Like Maple] [Eugenia belts it out...and then some] [Bettina, Warrior Princess] [Hilary, Cat Detective, slinks]

The fiftieth episode of WENN begins with a startling appearance by Betty. I mean, Betty's appearance is startling. If Betty was as much a fuddy-duddy as some claim, then this is what she would look like. Betty is so anxious to get a room in the new wing of the Barbican that she's willing to part with $26 on a dress to make her look like a spinster. (Although she might be planning to return it tomorrow.) The committee vice-chairman of the rental board will be by later in the day.

Maple takes the more direct method of renting a costume (Maple would also like to move there).

Phineas, a member of the Cleveland delegation of the Mystic Fraternal Order of Lemmings , and who has worked with Scott in a failed zeppelin service in Texas, is visiting. The CDMFOL is planning to see what a live radio broadcast looks like, take in a burlesque show and then go bar-hopping.

Luke Winthrop, the brother of the other Mr. Winthrop, continues in the Winthrop traditional insulation from society. He's unaware of Victor's return to his station in life. And to life itself.

The bank is foreclosing Winthrop's orphanage/school on Monday unless they pay $1000. In desperation, the Winthrops turn to WENN.

Phineas checks on the availability of burlesque for his Lemmings and finds there should have been more planning on their part. The Cleveland delegation will soon arrive, but local blue laws rule out stage shows on Sundays. Phineas goes so far as to offer the Crimson Follies $1000 for a private show, but they chose not to lose their license.

Since $1000 is the magic number needed by the Winthrops, Scott proposes the WENN cast put on their own burlesque show. Betty worries about the dancing and disrobing and Scott tries to distract her with the baggy pants.

Betty utters the codephrase indicating that a stressful situation has arisen and it would be better to be elsewhere: "Oh, would you look at the time."

Mr. Winthrop, desperate to save his school, thinks the idea is swell.

Scott propositions Betty, "Betty, for the benefit of higher education, would you take off your clothes."

Maple begins instructing "the girls" in basic bumping and grinding. Betty is hesitant to say the least. Hilary views it simply as another acting challenge, another skill to add to her toolbox (although she is reluctant to take instruction from Maple). Eugenia, whose passion seems to be growing more heated lately, takes to it like a duck to water.

Now that the plot is set up, the real justification for this episode begins: the songs.

Maple, the burlesque professional, is of course, excellent in her performance of "A Girl Like Me."

Scott and Jeff lighten the mood with some comedy.

Eugenia comes off very forceful as she belts out, "And Then Some."

As in earlier shows, Mr. Foley plays the drums, but now we see that Scott can tickle the ivories.

Bettina blithely tosses her seven veils, to Scott's obvious discomfort, in time with "Salome on Wry."

Apparently, this entire episode takes place on a Sunday. The committee vice-chairman arrives to interview Betty and finds her at the end of her strip-tease. (Perhaps Hilary had been in on a Sunday to perform her "Cat Detective" show.)

Hilary goes on, determined to use her acting skills to outdo Maple.

The vice-chairman, Miss Frye, is scandalized and wants Bettina, er, Betty out of the Barbican by the morning. But Luke Winthrop, having just gotten his check from Phineas, overrules her since he is the president of the review board (WENN is running overbudget on coincidences). However, she plans to appeal to the chairman, already en route.

The chairman, one Mr. Hardy, arrives shortly. Having listened to the show over the air (which had convinced authorities that real nudity was going on), he is happy to have arrived at the station. Mickey Rooney portrays Mr. Hardy, who is ready to take WENN's show to the stage. An obvious wink at Rooney's "Andy Hardy" character.

While the numbers were great, the episode felt out of kilter. It's hard to believe Scott would ask Betty to pseudo-strip for a bunch of strange men. Then the whole idea of nudity where there clearly is none is strange. Are we supposed to believe Jeff thought Hilary was naked when he described her on-air as being in her altogether? She was clearly in a dress that showed no more than some other dresses we've seen her in. It seems like we're supposed to believe Jeff's protestations, but the only thing that would make sense is if it was part of the act. At least it shows they're not afraid to experiment with the format.


7 August 1998
[Finally a PRAT Award not shaped like an ear.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Joanna Kerns.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

The show opens on October 9, 1941.

In the modern age, we can watch muscle bound hosts leading us through a half-hour of aerobicizing on ESPN. But, thanks to the magic of radio, any couch potato can lead us through an exercise routine. In fact, it is on the couch that Eugenia knits while Betty and Mr. Foley follow her instruction to exhaustion.

Victor seems to be spending more time in Washington than he expected. Betty has received a letter from him which, being informal, apparently did not have his return address on it. The address was on the envelope, which has been misplaced. The envelope, the wastebasket it may have fell into, and Scott Sherwood, who was looking for it, have vanished.

Hilary places an ad where "a" Walter Winchell speaks very highly of her. And with three dollars, he certainly does. (Doris Snithing probably arranged for the ad.) I think it's another step in her attempt to make Ballinger's prediction of her return to Broadway come true.

But the direct reason for the ad, however, is the imminent Pittsburgh Radio Awards which give out "The Golden Lobes," shaped like an ear.

WENN's sixteen Nominations include:

Nominee Show Award
Eugenia Bremer Gym With Eugenia 
  Laugh a Little With Mackie Bloom Best Comedy Series
Jeff Singer (Doctor Talbot) Young Doctor Talbot Best Actor
Scott Sherwood (Doctor Talbot) Young Doctor Talbot Best Actor
  (a conflict somewhat foreshadowed last week by Scott)
Mr. (something) Foley Valiant Journey Best Sound Effects
Betty Roberts The Hands of Time Best Radio Scenario
Betty Roberts Our Fleeting Passion Best Radio Scenario
Betty Roberts The Crimson Blade Best Radio Scenario
Betty Roberts Sam Dane, Private Detective Best Radio Scenario
Betty Roberts This Family Robinson Best Radio Scenario
  (Leaving 6 unmentioned nominations)

Scott has been collecting the waste cans trying to find Victor's missing envelope in hopes that the letter is with it, or at least somewhere in the trash cans. Information is power.

Hilary has tracked him down because she's looking for a letter Jeff's (new) lawyer sent him. She spotted it in the mail box and assumes it's about the status of his divorce from Pavla. Infor...well, you know.

Hilary finds a discarded tangerine from last week's episode. Scott finds a shoe; presumably the one Hilary threw at him last season.

But Scott also finds a letter that indicates someone on the WENN staff will be the only nominator for the highest award, the PRAT (Pittsburgh Radio Achievement Trophy). They wonder who was the recipient of the letter. Hilary eliminates Scott, since he brought the letter to Hilary's attention. Then she says that with the exception of Scott, it could be anyone. I wondered at the time why she didn't eliminate herself, but I didn't make the obvious intuitive leap then.

Scott reports to Betty that he couldn't find the letter or envelope. Betty lets Scott know the letter is "safely filed away," which I assume means it is at The Barbican Hotel (or perhaps the strongbox?).

Betty is receiving so many complaints about the bickering on "Young Doctor Talbot" between Jeff and Hilary that she wants to return Scott to the role. Jeff is UNhappy with that since it may sway the voting in the awards, just two days away. But Scott brushes off the award as UNimportant and says, generously, that he'll give the award to Jeff if he wins. Jeff, accustomed to Scott's prevarications, handily has a paper ready for Scott to sign to that effect. <g>

(During Jeff's speech, he makes it clear that Pavla has mysteriously still not been located.)

But Hilary continues with her ranting during "Young Doctor Talbot" and Jeff tries to convince her to cooperate to save his role. He mentions in passing "his buddies at the PRA" (Pittsburgh Radio Association). Scotty, watching out for Hilary, draws her aside and points out that Jeff may be the sole nominator for the PRAT award. Hilary thinks on it for a moment and realizes she needs to start "campaigning" in case the nominator hasn't already submitted the name. She starts by returning to Studio A and does a 180 degree turn that is such an about face that she steps out of the Nurse Treadwell role and speaks in praise of Jeff as Hilary Booth.

Jeff reciprocates with the same information he gave in "Klondike 9366" using the transitioning ("Interestingly...") he did in "Some Good News, Some Bad News."

October 10th opens with Hilary stepping up her campaign, even to the extent of remembering Gertie's last name and its spelling! And she has gifts, somewhat, for everyone. (What a twisted mind is Rupert's. A "Hilary Booth Coloring Book!")

Eugenia, with a Golden Lobe nomination, wants to more honestly perform her Gym show. So when she does her show today, she does the jumping jacks until exhaustion forces her to take her show in a whole new direction: exercising the inner self.

October 11th and the Golden Lobe Award show arrives.

John Henson does a great job as a really obnoxious host. WENN winners include Mr. Foley who is too choked up to make an acceptance speech and Betty who, as the only one nominated for Best Scenario, is denied the opportunity to speak.

When the Best Actor award is split between two actors at WEEP, Scott shows he has been taking the acting very seriously and even critiques one of the actors.

The host claims the secret nomination for the PRAT award was mailed that morning which would make it one day too late. However, it's hard to believe anything Sheldon Glebe says. (Particularly since Gleeb was prose and dialogue with "sheer nonsense," as Steve Allen called it, at it's core. But Paul B. Lowney's Gleebisms usually had meaning behind it. Glebe is simply irritating.)

Finally, it's time for the big award: the PRAT. And it goes to...Hilary Boot!!

As things are wrapping up, Hilary lets slip evidence that Hilary herself was the nominator. Scott is very impressed at how well Hilary pulled "out all the stops to win a trophy [she] intended to give to herself." This episode displayed the strong mutual respect that has built up between Scott and Hilary.

A nice, well-rounded episode. And notice how I didn't mention Ferengi...whoops!

“Work Shift”

14 August 1998
[Jeff gallaghers the cantaloupe.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

Once again, Victor is away, apparently for the whole week from what Betty says ("I'm only wearing one hat on my head this week..."). Betty works on catching up on scripts.

Betty is relying on Scott to handle the station's business affairs. Unfortunately for Scott, no matter how much he relishes his sales pitch, Chet of Pittsburgh Wieners isn't buying the malarkey.

Maple herself tries to pitch in and help with advertisers by composing a jingle that touts how the Pennsylvania Penny Bank is "a nickel-and-dime operation."

Mr. Foley and Eugenia work in concert to present Tchaikovsky's magical love story, the ballet "Swan Lake." I can only applaud the use of a scuba diver's fins as they become "Foley and Bremer, Radio's Only Dance Team."

Gertie shows her own management capability by directing Lester (as wordless as Mr. Foley) to alert Jeff and Hilary to their switched scripts. I wondered how Jeff and Hilary wouldn't have realized the error immediately since the lines should be identified by the character speaking them. But when both characters are named Joe/Jo and Betty types both only as Joe, I guess something like this was bound to happen.

The jolt of the switched Joes sends Hilary on a rampage against all within reach. Tom Eldridge shows he's in one of his lucid, playful moods as he artfully handles Hilary so well I don't think she even realized it. Soon the kick-the-dog effect trickles down and all are in a foul mood.

"Your mornings will never be completely full until they're filled with the fullness of fulfillment.”-Arden Sage

Perhaps hoping that some of Mr. Sage's popularity (Betty had problems separating herself from his book, "The Glue of Humanity") would rub off on the station, Victor Comstock has steered Arden in WENN's direction.

Mr. Sage is looking for worthy private enterprises and arts to fund from his Arden Sage Foundation. He speaks of increasing happiness and fulfillment. After witnessing various WENNers (that's "when ers", not "we ners") express the sentiment that their contributions are not appreciated, Mr. Sage challenges them, while making his on-air pitch, to switch roles for a day. After the understanding they would gain from such an exchange, they would be able to understand his "secret sentence," which he considers his greatest gift.

Unfortunately, our friends from the forties haven't been overexposed to the modern late night infomercials and aren't quick to pick up on his meaning. Instead, they believe that if they switch roles for a day, Arden Sage will make a donation to WENN.

And so...

Hilary takes Gertrude Reece's station at the switchboard.
Gertie takes Hilary Booth's place as...Hilary Booth, of course.
Scott takes Tom Eldridge's...jobs.
Tom takes Jeff Singer's place.
Jeff takes Mr....something...Foley's place.
Betty takes Eugenia Bremer's place at the keyboards.
Maple takes Betty Roberts' place at the typewriter keys.
Mr. Foley takes Maple LaMarsh's temporary (?) job as the advertising director.
Eugenia takes Scott Sherwood's occasional job of dealing with sponsors.

Perhaps after thinking about the information Scott requested from each employee way back in "A Capital Idea," Mr. Eldridge decided to make a list of all the things he does around the station. And quite a list it is. While his co-workers have simply taken it for granted that his job is simply being Mr. Eldridge, he probably takes care of a number of vital tasks that others, if they thought about it at all, would assume just magically get done.

There are many connections available on the switchboard. They seem vaguely arranged as follows:

Left Side
. . Chin'sGroceryGeorgeGeorgeVictorVictorBettyBettyScott
. . . Green RmStudioCent. Rm
840-2801  840-2802  840-2803  840-2804  840-2805  840-2806  

Right Side
. . ???PamPamCarmenCarmenGeorge??
. . . ???HilaryMr.FoleyScottJeffMaple??
840-2807  840-2808  840-2809  840-2810  

(Betty Ofc. looks like it originally said "Vic Ofc." Then when Scott arrived, Gertie lined through "Vic" and put "Scott" above it. When Scott was deposed, his name was struck through and "Betty" written to his right, the last space available on the label. This is an example how much thought went into having this logically arranged, even though it was given only a moment's screen time. Well, except for the idea that this one entry would have originally been written only in the lower half of the label, leaving the top half empty.)

Not all connections were readable when Hilary was at the switchboard, but we know from the opening of the show that at one of the other ones should read "Writer's Room."

Jeff worries about doing Mr. Foley's job justice, particularly when he would need to use high heels for a sound effect.

When "Junior" continues trying to get an advertising jingle from the "advertising director," Mr. Foley displays his prowess a the piano. Jeff tries to guess the tune: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (no) "Pennies from Heaven" (no) "Banks for the Memories" (no). Might I suggest "The Gold Diggers Song (We're in the Money)" or even "I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (In a Nickel-and-Dime Bank)."

Hilary seems to have a running theme this season: her, water and electricity.

I don't know if Mike Waters will ever be able to complete a thesis on the use of dual-identities in "Remember WENN." Rupert is creating them faster than Mike can keep up. When Chet shows back up, Scott reinvents himself as his own identical brother rather than explain why he's acting as a gopher. The "real" Scott is supposedly at one of his regular haunts, the race track. Strike that, the opera sounds more high-falutin' for the fictional real Scott.

Betty does a much better job displaying the inherent variety available with "Chopsticks" than we would have expected. Jeff plunges into the role of foley artist.

As for the voice actors...

Gertie: "Oh, Brent."

Tom: "Oh...what's-your-name." (Brent having the old amnesia problem.)

Based on Chet's skepticism the day before, I assume he finally reached a more realistic advertising scheme with Scott the day before. But Eugenia, forced to think about how advertising works, recoils at the idea of selling Chet's Pittsburgh Wieners any more air time. (Sort of the way I recoil when a web page takes twice as long to download because of the animated ad at the top.)

Scott and Betty agree that they can't finish out the day, even if it means giving up a donation from Sage. It wasn't until then that I realized they didn't understand Sage's offer.

Luckily, Arden has walked in while they were discussing it. So, even though WENN couldn't meet the challenge, he goes ahead and shares his secret sentence with them. And in light of his earlier lines, it does make sense.

Scott decides to do what he does best...come out swinging.

Since Betty claims to have read one of Sage's previous books, I'm surprised she didn't understand his intentions. Maybe she was misleading Arden when effused over his "The Glue of Humanity."

“Past Tense, Future Imperfect”

21 August 1998
[Victor sizes up yet another competitor.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Danny Leiner.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

The episode opens with Victor Comstock finishing his "weekly commentary" on a Friday night. However, he isn't in Washington, he's giving it from WENN. The vague impression I had was that Victor was doing a weekly commentary out of the District of Columbia, perhaps linked nationwide. When this episode opened, I thought that perhaps he had started giving them from WENN, which would be linked to a network feed or something. However, Betty says the "government has Victor sounding the alert up and down the eastern seaboard." So perhaps Victor is giving weekly commentaries from DC and from WENN, along with occasional visits to other stations on the east coast. That might explain how often he's been missing the last few weeks.

Victor's been called to Washington once again, but Betty has anticipated it as well as the train he would need to take. With no dining car on the Pennsylvania Night Owl, she has prepared a ham sandwich with mustard for him. Betty manages to convey her discontent with their near dateless courtship. With food for his belly and food for thought, Victor rushes to catch the train.

Betty and Maple had been discussing America's neutrality before Victor stopped by. (At first glance, it may seem difficult to understand the strength of the isolationism that FDR was trying to overcome. But witness the citizenry's disinterest in foreign policy during recent elections.)

And even some of the brightest who realized war was inevitable did not understand how susceptible America itself was to attack (although of course Hawaii was a territory and not a state).

Isaac Asimov, being born in Russia, was more concerned with the Nazis approaching Moscow. From Section 1, Chapter 29, "Qualifying Examinations" of In Memory Yet Green, The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954:

     "All through November 1941, the Germans had been inching forward here and there on the long Russian front, but nobody was talking blitzkrieg any more. On November 22, the Germans took Rostov at the northeastern tip of the Sea of Azov, and then, on November 29, the Soviet forces recaptured it. It is impossible to describe now what excitement that bare announcement made. In over two years of World War II, the German Army had never once lost a city it had taken, not once. And now they had! It was the first sign that the Germans could not merely be resisted, not merely slowed down, not merely halted, but actually thrown back.
     "And although Germany was still striving toward Moscow and was only forty miles away from that goal, her advance was so slow that it was clear to everyone that the Nazis would have to halt for the winter. Germany would be forced to spend a winter in the Soviet Union with supply lines hundreds of miles long.
     "I sat back to enjoy that winter. As far as I could tell, nothing in world affairs concerned me at that moment but the titanic struggle taking place in the steppes and forests of the land of my birth. In all the excitement over events in the Soviet Union, I scarcely mentioned in my diary the fact that there was in late 1941 a profound diplomatic struggle between Japan and the United States.
     "I didn't for one moment believe that there would be war between the United States and Japan. The United States had to concentrate on Europe and, as for Japan, what could she do? She was stalled in China and helpless. And even if the United States and Japan were to fight a war, it seemed to me that the American Navy could take care of matters in short order--so I paid no attention.
     "[Asimov describes the origin of a short story.]
     "It didn't take me long to write the story, and by early afternoon it was safely done, and I turned on the radio to relax. My father was taking his afternoon nap, but it was alright to listen to the radio (low) while he slept. Unlike my mother, he slept soundly.
     "But you're ahead of me. Just before 3:00 P.M. the music faded and excited voice began to read a news bulletin. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. I ran for my father's bedroom. As far as I can remember, I had never deliberately awakened him in the middle of his nap, but I did now.
     " 'Pappa, Pappa!' I shook him, madly.
     "He sat up with a start. 'What's the matter?'
     "I said, 'We're at war. The Japanese have bombed us.'
     "It took him a while to gather it in. Then he turned on the little radio near his bed. He never once complained that he had been awakened."

Victor and Jeff have a different perspective than the others at the station. They have not only been victims of the shelling, but have walked the streets in the heart of the darkness.

A description of the origins of Everybody Comes to Rick's is given by its author, Murray Burnett, in Aljean Harmetz's book, Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca - Bogart, Bergman and World War II:

     "Burnett wrote 'Everybody Comes to Rick's' after a trip to Europe in 1938. 'I had inherited $10,000 from an uncle, and it was one of my romantic dreams to go to Europe on a big ocean liner,' he says. 'My wife's family lived in Belgium. I had read headlines about Hitler, but they were meaningless until we got to Antwerp and my wife's family asked us to go to Vienna -- the Anschluss had just happened -- to help other relatives get money out of Austria. At that time Jews could leave if they took no money, nothing. I went to the American consulate to get a visa, and he said, "Mr. Burnett, I don't know why you're going to Vienna and I don't want to know, but I want to warn you that if you get into any trouble in Vienna this government cannot help you." He gave me a small American flag to wear in my lapel, and he said, "You must never go out in the street without wearing this." '
     "What he learned in Vienna, says Burnett more than half a century later, 'was indescribable.' He went to Austria as an American. He came back to America as a Jew. In Vienna, Jews weren't allowed to take taxicabs. When he stepped off the train with his golf clubs, tennis rackets, and American arrogance, Burnett insisted on a taxi. So his wife's relative begged the cab driver. 'I don't speak German, but I'm fluent in obsequious,' says Burnett. They drove past a billboard 'larger than any I have ever seen and on the billboard was a caricature of a Jew, and it said in huge letters, MURDERER, THIEF. And we'd sit in the relatives' apartment and hear the marching feet outside...'
     "In the South of France a few weeks later, Burnett made a nuisance of himself. 'I was screaming, "Do you know what's going on?" ' he says. 'And finally when people saw me coming they walked away.' "

And this is what Victor Comstock, recently returned from Third Reich, is coping with. As country after country falls, he's faced with people who cannot see the need for action but only their own desires.

By this time, it wasn't just a few scientists and science fiction writers who were aware that an atomic bomb could be built. Einstein and other physicists had collaborated on a letter to Roosevelt warning about Germany's likelihood of building an atomic bomb. The time was approaching when people would have to think beyond their personal sphere towards more civic minded pursuits. If only for self-preservation.

But back in late 1941 at radio station WENN, Maple is giving off the idea that she may know more than she lets on, "Sometimes I get the feeling you saw more of Victor when he was dead than you do now." I wonder if Betty told anyone of Victor's "magical" visit to the station.

Victor passes on the new phone number for the Department of War at the five-sided "Pentagram." The Pentagon was designed by George Edwin Bergstrom. Construction began in September, 1941 and was not completely finished until after 16 months of round the clock work.

Maple and Betty continue discussing Victor. As Scott stumbles across a way to eavesdrop, Betty tells Maple how Victor's passions run "towards the abstract...radio, democracy." My problem is that I'm unable to see such ideas as abstract, that is, as separated from concrete reality. I would think WENN's faithful listeners can't see "radio" as an abstract. And I would think that persons residing in a totalitarian society would see real differences should their government change to democratic. I would say that this has hit on one of the things I believe is a difference between me and most people I've known. They make decisions based on what is immediately within their five senses, unable to factor in what could be called "The Big Picture." I, on the other hand, cannot understand how or why that would be done. A large meteor bearing down on my coordinates is set to obliterate me just as much at a distance of 1 mile as it is as at 1 billion miles. But if it is spotted at the farther distance, preventive measures can be made. By taking the big picture into account, I can make decisions more likely to benefit me and others. But I find most people have to hit in the head with a clue-by-four before awareness beyond the immediate seeps in (and sometimes, not even then).

However, such "abstract" thinking is not very helpful when you're lonely for the one you love.

To illustrate how Victor has remained unchanged, Betty relates her first day as a salaried employee of WENN to Maple (and to Scott). The story is told from Betty and filtered through Maple, so we see the station as Maple would see it...hence the new WENN sign above Gertie and not the old one.

In the calendar of the WENNiverse, it is Monday, second of October, 1939.

Victor and Gertie are wrestling over the wording of a letter to one of WENN's creditors. Jeff, Mackie and Hilary are filling "Bedside Manor's" unscripted time with crosswords. Mr. Foley is providing liquidy sound effects (much as he did on "CBS This Morning"). Tom is watching the switchboard for Gertie ("Is there no way out of this?")

After Victor teases Betty with the thought of a normal first day acclimatization, he turns her loose on typing this day's "Hands of Time." Eugenia introduces herself and fills Betty in on the background of the "slice of life" melodrama.

Betty takes her script to Victor to go over it. Betty has provided a workable script in an amazingly short time. However, Victor is ready to mentor Betty in the task of radio narrative. Certainly, her concept of several minutes of radio silence in her previous script indicates a need for knowledge (and her quick reworking of said script demonstrates her ability to learn). I must say, it took me back to academic days when I saw all the markings Victor had put on her script.

Victor dispenses a few rules:

1. Don't leave your radio characters alone too much. They tend to talk to themselves.

2. Better your characters talk to themselves than not talk at all.

3. At all times, monitor how the story dovetails into the very important commercial messages.

4. Balance background information and dialogue in a realistic manner.

5. It's important not to move our cliffhangers too low to the ground.

While illustrating rule number two, Mr. Foley demonstrates why he needed to follow Eugenia's exercise show. Back in 1938, he was so out of shape that simulating a quarter-mile walk on gravel turned him into a perspiration factory.

As part of Betty's description of the events to Maple, she probably mentioned that a picture of a locomotive was on the station manager's wall. I had wondered why the wall hangings had changed when we went from Betty's intro to Maple's perception. But it turns out to be relevant. Victor is obviously interested in trains. When he describes his expectations for teamwork between Betty and himself, he energetically describes it in terms of a train, even down to the bends in the train rails.

Unfortunately, Betty is only a few days from home, unsure what to think of her abilities and what to make of her new acquaintances. At each point in Victor's assessment of her script, she responds extremely. The script can actually be transmitted? It must be great! There are things that could be better? I must resign! Sadly, when Victor says he didn't hire her because she could put out a competent script but instead for her endowed attributes that made her different from the previous male scripters, everything he says afterwards takes on a different meaning for Betty.

Mr. Foley and Eugenia perform "Foley's Fairy Tales, classics from the storybook of sound, told without the assistance of dialogue." Victor watches on, probably concerned that the show is too experimental.

Hilary complains about her final lines in a documentary written by Betty: "From the very bowels and groin of the Earth, the volcano belched the sulfurous phlegm of Hades and the city, yesterday so flushed with excitement and pregnant with hope for the new harvest, now is reduced to ashes and cinders. And now a message from Pedestal Girdles and Bras. Men idolize a woman they've placed on a pedestal."

Mackie and Betty conspire to put off Victor's imaginary advances by pretending to be an item. This seems only to confirm Hilary's suggestion to Victor that Betty is a temptress. (All through this scene, the "ceiling" is once more noticeable. Maybe it's been like this and I just never noticed before.) Mackie and Victor stare at each other. Appraising the competition, perhaps?

Betty gets some advice on writing from Mr. Foley. While demonstrating one of his points, Eugenia overhears and thinks Betty is making a play for Mr. Foley after landing Mackie. "I've always believed that for every woman on this Earth, there's one man. So if Betty Roberts has two men, one of them might have been mine." (Seems to pre-foreshadow Eugenia's admission to Mackie when he asked her to go see Glenn Miller and this season's involvement with Mr. Foley.)

[Rupert is not satisfied with foreshadowing, now he's pre-foreshadowing. <g>]

Hilary, ever protective of her reputation during Jeff's predatory, bachelor days (his bachelorhood known by few), misunderstands Betty and Jeff's conversation where Betty is trying so hard to please Hilary and Jeff is trying...well, he's trying, bursts on them in the studio. Jeff is not nimble enough to avoid the airborne umbrella stand.

Hilary complains to Victor who approaches the matter head-on and direct and the misunderstanding is finally cleared up.

Keep in mind, that the entire flashback is supposedly filtered through Maple's eyes after it's gone through Betty's own perception and memory. As David Lodge's Morris Zapp says, "Every decoding is another encoding."

Victor sees Betty as a pioneer. But Maple thinks Victor should see Betty...more. She emphasizes to Betty that she's alone once more. Leaving Betty with a slight misting of the eyes, Maple leaves and gives Scott a go-ahead. Scott echoes the line from the second episode where Victor and Betty's romantic relationship had it's first rumblings, "Let me walk you to the trolley."

I said late last year that the pendulum would probably start to swing back in Scott's direction and now it seems it's at the midway point between Victor and Scott. I've spent twenty years traveling the world for the Air Force. I've seen marriages having to endure long separations for the "abstract" idea that it is better to stand ready and, by doing so, prevent wars than it is to simply ignore the world until it crashes upon you. Some marriages were by people who knew each other, they knew themselves, they knew their commitment. They knew that true love meant true thinking. They thought and prepared and planned and cared. They were not selfish, nor were they selfless, they were a team.

Many more marriages, alas, did not have the commitment. It is no easy task to manage a household alone and face the lonely nights. Most were not equal to the challenge.

Betty and Victor are just one of the first to face keeping a long distance relationship against the brunt of the Second World War. Soon, the nation will be plagued with such couples as the clarion call is sounded. Shortages, rations and sacrifices will change their day-in, day-out existence. It will affect nearly every waking moment of their day.

Whether Victor and Betty can stand the test as the pendulum swings toward Scott is something only time might tell.

“The Sunset Also Rises”

28 August 1998
[Does Gertie's future lay in television writing?]
[Does Gertie's future lay in television writing?]
Written by David Ives.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

When it was announced that there would be another episode like "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece," I was a little dismayed. What made that episode work was that Rupert had obviously been planting parallels for it.

Several things in "Magic," the episode of Victor's return, seemed designed to resonate off "Casablanca." It is revealed that Scott, like Rick, had fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. But Scott and Rick were no longer involved in the war. Thinking Victor dead, Betty/Ilsa had allowed herself to feel romantically towards Scott/Rick. Then, at the end of "Magic," Betty(/Ilsa) finds out that Victor's still alive. Victor finds himself doing work for the Allies (though Victor had yet to become the well known figure that Victor already was. If you take my meaning.) And so, a romantic triangle was formed.

A loving homage to "Casablanca" seemed inevitable. What was inevitable about a take-off on "Sunset Blvd." or any other famous work of fiction? Granted, I hadn't seen "Sunset Blvd." Perhaps there were obvious parallels I was missing. But it seemed more like the mentality that says, "Well, 'Friends' is popular, let's have a show like 'Friends' every night of the week on the network. We'll schedule them right after our new series, 'Citizen Kane, Jr.'."

So it was with this low expectation that I went into "The Sunset Also Rises." (Someday I'll see the film and probably have to rewrite this or add an addendum.)

Gertie's crack at a script in "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" wasn't a passing impulse. She seems determined to carve out a career as a writer. She's taking classes and becoming informed about the general industry (she's aware of television's possible luminous future). And since she respects Betty's writing she asks for comments.

Betty's a little hesitant when she first picks up the script. She's got her own writing to do and I suspect Gertie may have a habit of asking for Betty's input. [Nice framing of Gertie through the bookshelf with the faux rabbit ears.] But Betty's a trooper and gamely opens to the "FADE IN."

Joe Sherwood arrives at what he believes is an abandoned radio station just off Sunset Avenue. Leaves cover the stage floor, er, ground, and cobwebs cover the gate leading to the house. He is greeted by the German butler whose name, Spaetzle, seems to make the most of that special quality of spit inducement that the German language has.

With the cobwebs, thunder and lightning, and the lighting, you would think this is an homage to old horror films. This theme seems to be followed as the strange butler glides down the corridor like Dracula and asks about a coffin.

Then we meet Norma Dismal, the once big star of radio as "Baby Sweetums." This character at least dovetails as Hilary is a faded Broadway star looking for a comeback.

Norma confirms Joe was right, the place was a radio station. The very station "Baby Sweetums" was broadcast from.

Norma shows Joe the studio and he makes a good crack about its eeriness, "[It's] real Edgar Allan Poetry."

Joe is obviously not the expected party who was bringing a coffin. So Norma inquires as to his identity and he volunteers that he's a radio writer. "A radio writer?" Norma responds. "Perfect!" (reminiscent of "Prior to Broadway")

Norma has been requested to appear on "The Big Broadcast" as Baby Sweetums and she needs a script. Joe (after mentally deciding against it) agrees, but warns her, "It'll cost ya."

Back in the WENN reality, Hilary arrives in the writer's room and gives her take on what's she's heard (just as the three ended up in "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece”).

Just as she felt she wasn't suited for the older role in "Armchair Detectives" (from the episode, um, "Armchair Detective") and wanted the younger role Celia played, Hilary sees herself not as Norma Dismal, but as "Joan Booth", a young, giddy radio writer. With Eldridge as Norman Dismal, she too (after mentally deciding against it) agrees, but warns him, "It'll cost ya."

Scott joins in on the script discussion and insists the script needs him as the leading man. I don't know if this was to regain the Joe Sherwood role or if this could have lead to a Scott as Norman Dismal if "Remember WENN" was at its old running length.

Betty takes her turn. Like Hilary didn’t see herself in the obvious role (faded star), Betty doesn't see herself in the obvious role (the radio writer). She envisions herself as the other lead, Norma Dismal. She also sees the role as a more light-hearted romp. After a couple pages, Betty's instincts leads her to correctly assess, "No. No, never mind."

Hilary gracefully relents and accepts the casting as a "self-centered, beautiful, radiant diva." And Hilary is just beginning to suggest someone for the demeaning, subservient, humiliating role of the butler when Jeff walks in.

Gertie’s script goes on to introduce a dead baboon to be buried. This causes a protest from much of the gathered group except the arriving Mr. Eldridge who points it out it would be worse burying a live baboon.

Joe is so offended at the idea of burying a dead canary, that he begins to leave. But his plan is foiled by the repossession of his bicycle by Sears & Roebuck.

Norma promises to buy Joe a Schwinn as she tries to induce a schwing.

Joe is seduced into staying and they being working on a script. But Norma's plotline seems to run quite a bit longer and complicated than a brief appearance on a show. Joe suggests they could turn the script into a screenplay. But Norma doesn't care for films and questions the significance of feature films. After a joke of the type that will be identified with "Airplane" for the next 30 years, Joe suggests using it on "Telly Vision". Norma replies, "On radio, we didn't need faces. We had dialogue!"

Norma identifies her radio with pride. Her radio turns out to be a television with the brightness turned down. (An allusion, no doubt to the old joke, "I turned up the brightness switch, but the shows were just as dumb.")

In the evenings, for relaxation, Joe and Norma tangoed to the playing of a quartet...a quartet of record players, that is. (Leading to odd dance transitions when the music changed.)

Eugenia enters the writer's room and writer's arena by casting herself as Norma. Instead of requesting her “close up,” as in the film, Eugenia's Norma is ready for her "long shot."

Next is some drawn out playing with "v's" and "w's".

Mr. Foley makes his appearance with his idea of relaxed evenings. Some nice camera work here with a play on silent films and Mr. Foley's usual silence. (I wonder whether Tom Beckett actually said aloud, "I pass," during the filming or if he stayed in character.)

Gertie points out that the scene made effective use of the television medium. But Betty thinks it would be more logical if the guests are old radio chums of Norma. So we are treated to two uncredited radio ghosts. Note that Mackie is playing the incidental music to accompany the former radio actors as if they were on the air.

After six months (mentioned at the beginning of the episode), the script is finished and the show's representatives arrives. We find that not only does this episode mark the return of Christopher Murney (yay!), but John Bedford Lloyd puts in an appearance as the odd man from "Big Breakfast" (Norma has misheard "Big Broadcast" over the phone).

Even now she misunderstands, "Yes! We'll do it as a serial for the breakfast crowd!"

Soon, Joe takes a dive for the drink (the Baby Sweetums baby pool) and Norma is ready for her...sound check.

The group has become so wrapped up in their script by committee they haven't noticed the football game WENN had been broadcasting has finished early. Victor admonishes them and they’re left with a need to fill unexpected air time. Gertie leaps to put forward her script and soon "The Sunset Also Rises" is improvised.

Well, I think I need to see "Sunset Blvd." I'm sure more of this episode will make sense.

That this was a non-Rupert episode seems obvious without having to check credits for confirmation. There were too many bits that were too simple and went on too long. The coffin/coughin' was good for one shot, not for a recurring gag.

“At Cross Purposes”

4 September 1998
[Gertie and Tom prefer their own clothes, thank you very much.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Howard Meltzer.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

A silhouette appears on the WENN door that looks like Hilary. The door opens but the person covers their face with a script and then saunters towards Studio A. Too tall to be Hilary, it's...Jeff!

In the studio, Rance Shiloh is airing. An old-timey western piano sound along with crowd noise emanates from the record player (as Eugenia mimics moving her fingers over the piano keys. Perhaps to feel she's contributing.)

Mr. Foley has one of his best scenes yet. Mr. Foley has a highly polished, long strip of wood with which he plans to slide the beer mug as if he was at a bar. Supposedly he sets it off with just enough speed to allow him to race to the other end in time to catch it. He has a mic set up about a foot into the strip to catch the sound of the receding mug of beer. He sets it off (at what would actually be too high a speed). Then we see it going down a strip of the bar. Then we see it passing under the microphone he had set up. (The microphone it had already passed under at the end of the shot of him sliding it. The mic stand is actually barely visible at the right of that shot and the angle used hid the mic.) Then we see a nice overhead shot. This is followed by a shot that tracks the coasting container in its journey (which also manages to pass a completely new microphone that materialized from thin air in the last few seconds since we saw Hilary walking past the set up). Finally, we see Foley, already in place, catching the glass at the other side.

Despite the myriad of inconsistencies and physical impossibilities I've noted, I enjoyed this sequence. Then Mr. Foley performs great physical comedy as he falls backwards over the "bar." (Perhaps a penalty for trying to fool Mother Nature. :) I assume that when they cut to a longer shot that it was a stuntman we saw. That looked like a pretty dangerous stunt and we wouldn't want Tom Beckett to injure himself.

Outside, Jeff explains why he's dressed in frilly gear: he's acting in Charley's Aunt, one of the most popular farces in the English language. Written in 1892 by Brandon Thomas, Jeff's character, who has been practicing amateur theatricals, is pressed in service by Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham to take the place of Charley's aunt, Dona Lucia d'Alvadores, as a chaperon while Jack and Charley ask Amy Spettigue and Kitty Verdun to marry them.

Jeff offers thanks that no one can see him on the air as he plays Rance Shiloh. Hilary is used to leaving others to improvise while she's out doing other things. Since Jeff is late getting back from the play, Hilary has been the one to fill air time with Foley and Eugenia. So when Rance Shiloh walks in a dress, Hilary makes certain that the radio audience *can* "see" him in a dress.

According to a message on the newsgroup, Kevin O'Rourke has said that the early scene with the muffler went on longer. Not only was the muffler explained, but the date of December 7 was revealed. This scene was cut.

It could be that it was cut to meet the new time guidelines Remember WENN operates under. But I suspect it was more of a creative decision. With the date revealed at the beginning of the episode, the audience would watch the episode knowing something our characters did not: that their world would soon be turned upside down. Tension could be built in the audience because they knew the bad news facing the character and the the characters did not.

Another choice would be to slam the audience with the bad news at the same time. The audience could be laughing at the silly put ons the crew were doing and then sighing with relief that perhaps Jeff and Hilary could be as one once more (and that Scott and/or Maple wouldn't have to head off to California for a court date). Then, SLAM!, the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. Keep in mind that, although the cognoscenti on the internet have been well aware that Pearl Harbor would inevitably arrive, the average WENN viewer at home may not have paid much attention to the dates that have surfaced from time to time on the show. So I suspect Rupert went with the decision to spring the news on the viewer as the same time as the audience so as to bring them from amused to relieved to anxious.

Scott walks in with an automobile muffler that isn't acknowledged. I like that. It lends an air of mystery.

When Scott learns that Victor had to stay in Washington, he thinks this increases his chances of taking Betty to the movies in Victor's stead that night. Perhaps this indicates that since "Past Tense, Future Imperfect" this has been happening.

Scott enter the writers room, badly shaken. Maple thinks there are only three things that could shake up Scott so badly. One would be Betty liking Victor more than himself. Two would be someone giving him tickets to the ballet. (Perhaps referring to some specific incident?) The other would be...Cribby Menlo! Aieeeeee!

Cribby is a process server from the West Coast of Scott and Mape's acquaintance. Apparently, the duo fear he's still after them in regards to an H2O Gasoline scam where Sperry and McGurk set up Scott as the fall guy. Scott thought the water gasoline was legitimate. (Kudos to Michael Waters for spotting Sperry and McGurk as the name of the thugs from Road to Utopia, a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby vehicle from 1945.) Mr. Menlo can pass a subpoena faster than Jesse Owens can pass a baton in the 400 meter relay. (Rodney wonders if "Jesse Owens" is the answer to the sweepstakes for this week. Oh, wait, that's over. Wonder what ever happened with that?)

WENN has received a large amount of clothing for an overseas relief drive and they're stored in the writer's room. This gives Maple an idea.

Doug Thompson has called the station with information for Jeff and Hilary. Pavla has been found! But now she wants to countersue for abandonment! Something that would easily be dismissed once it got to court, but would tie up things in the meantime. They must dodge the delivery of the summons if they hope to wrap up the Pavla situation any time soon.

Betty is barely able to prevent Jeff, dressed as Lord Fancourt Babberly, from blurting out his identity to the process server. Jeff and Tom gradually catch on that Jeff shouldn't reveal his identity. But in explaining what Cribby had heard so far, they end up identifying Jeff as Hilary Booth. (Both Betty and Jeff give the normal I-am-Hilary-Booth-of-course hand wave.)

Betty, Jeff and Hilary bring themselves all up to date in the station manager's office. If Cribby could give the papers to a faux Jeff Singer, that might solve their problem.

Eugenia pops in to announce she had finished her spiritual music program, "Holier Than Thou," and the football broadcast had started. She’s off to change clothes before she leaves to conduct her conducting debut. Since she thinks it's nothing to shake a stick at, she may not quite understand the use of a baton in conducting. <g>

After eliminating everyone else, Hilary and Betty decide Scott is the man for the job of impersonating Jeff. Betty needs Scott. And Scott has...

Scott has changed into a dress and heels. Maple has changed into a suit and turban. Their plan is to stroll carefree out of the station. Their plan is interrupted one second into its execution by Scott's plummet to the floor. Maple did warn him about walking in heels.

While practicing walking so Scott can get his "heel" legs, they decide on identities to fit their costumes. Maple decides to be a Raja. Scott knows the best way to hide in the open is to pretend to be someone who belongs there, who "comes and goes at this station as they please and doesn't answer to anyone." Maple asks if that person would be...

Hilary Booth (i.e. Jeff) is regaling Crimmy with her credits when Scotty and Mapes try to scootty out the door. But Crimmy is still looking for Jeff. "You, with the turban. You’re not Jeff Singer by any chance?" Maple claims to be a far eastern country's chief impotentate (potentate) and grand brassiere (vizier). Scott, claims to be Hilary Booth, of course.

It's all easily explained. Hilary is Hilary's sister. Hilary liked Hilary's name so much she stole it for her stage name. Hilary's real name is Maple. Got it? Good.

But Crimmy finds the idea of a far eastern sultan being in a Pittsburgh radio station too strange. "Sultana" explains she's adding to her harem and goes in search of her new acquisition. After Betty and Hilary bow out (he's already talked to Betty and Betty sends Hilary off to become Jeff) she falls down in the hallway trying to get to studio A (and as we all know the geography of the station, most likely falls down in sight of, or at least hearing distance from, Crimmy, and lets out an unsultanlike yelp).

In Studio A, the ball game is still going on: "And with the score tied at six even in the first quarter of Sunday pro football..." Turns out it's a Sunday at WENN. I guess that explains the religious music. And I suppose Hilary is there for her "Cat Detective" show. Maple kidnaps Foley for her harem.

Meanwhile, the mobster Jeff Singer (Hilary) shows up followed by Admiral Crichton of the Swiss Navy (Eugenia in her conductor garb), complete with stick.. Then Sultana (Maple) introduces her veiled acquisition (Foley).

Finally, Crimmy is finally allowed to speak. First off, he recognized Scott and Mapes right away. And he figured out that Hilary and Jeff were Jeff and Hilary. Turns out that Crimmy was hired to serve papers to Pavla. It makes sense that with the difficulty of tracking her down they would hire one of the best.

However, once he caught up to her, he was quite taken with her while recognizing the heart of a golddigger. Having dutifully cared for nothing other than serving legal papers for many years he's decided to take her for a ride. Since it's clear that Jeff is completely serious about ditching Pavla, he'll make sure an annulment is accomplished. He's convinced her that he's rich and he expects to wed her within two months. By the end of the third month as the money is running out Pavla will realize she's been duped.

So Jeff and Pavla's marriage will not have ever legally existed. I said in my walk through of the season opener that I expected the situation to continue throughout the season. I missed it only by one episode.

Betty is still following through on the plan to dress up like a newsboy and deliver some earth-shattering news that might empty the station, at least of Mr. Menlo. A massive count of bell rings on the teletype provides a real major news story.

A Sunday afternoon, late 1941, in the WENNiverse. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor.

Reflections on the trailer for the next episode.

Looks like loads of things chock-filling next week's episode. A scene where I thought Victor said "Hi, Betty" is obviously, on repeated viewings, Victor saying "Bye" to Betty. Foley sends a semaphore message to Eugenia that stuns her. Jeff asks for Hilary's hand in Marriage. And Scott...

Scott joins the Army. It looks like an officer's uniform. Scott may have had previous service. Certainly his cryptography skills and experience fighting the Nazis with the Popular Front make him far more valuable to the military than most of the volunteers showing up. I was a little dismayed to see every motivation for Scott joining up connected in some way to Betty (trying to win her love by being more heroic for instance). Our nation had been attacked. The recruiting offices were full on the 8th of December. Within the year, 38 year old Glenn Miller, rolling in the money and adulation of fame, despite being beyond the age for Army service, had disbanded his orchestra and accepted a Captain's commission in the Army Air Force. I doubt Betty was ignored in his decision process, but Scott is an action man, as ready to use his fists as his wits in any fight. I can't imagine Scott not trying to join up, regardless of the state of his relationship with Betty.

The problem with "Remember WENN" finally reaching WWII has been to have believable reasons for the men not to be away in service. Mr. Eldridge hasn't seen 65 in many years. He's too old. Lester also looks like he might not be accepted because of age. Jeff's injuries from the bombing may have made him category 4F. Due to mass production of uniforms and equipment, it's possible that Mackie might be too short. (Things had become more standardized since WWI.) And, unless he had some special skill to offer, he might be turned away because of age also. We can tell from the preview that Victor and Scott are off. So that just leaves Mr. Foley as the only character that we have to wonder why he's not at the war. (From the semaphore, I would guess he's doing some local duty.)

You know, I almost wonder if Rupert wasn't already thinking ahead to this day when he had Jeff injured in London.

This is Rodney signing off saying, "Remember to cut off those lights!"

“All's Noisy on the Pittsburgh Front”

11 September 1998
[Binky? Binky?  What have they done with you,boy?!] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
MAIN - Season Four: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13
[Multiple Cliffs]

Sunday morning, 7 December 1941, Hawaii time, Japanese craft landed at Malaya and Thailand. Singapore was bombed. Japanese troops pushed into Hong Kong's new territories. Airfields in US-ruled Philippines were bombed at least four times. American bases at Guam, Wake Island and Midway Island reported aerial attacks.

At the U. S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, two of the eight battleships in the Pacific Fleet, the "Arizona" and "Oklahoma," sustain enough damage in two air raids that they will never sail again. Five others are badly damaged. The eighth, "Pennsylvania," is in dry dock mostly unscathed.

In less than four hours, over 2400 persons were dead or missing at Pearl Harbor, including 68 civilians. 1178 more were wounded.

On 8 December, President Roosevelt addressed the legislative and judicial branches and requested Congress to declare war on Japan. Britain declared war earlier that day. On 11 December, Germany and Italy honored their treaties with Japan and declared war on the United States. Later that same day, America declared war on Germany and Italy.

On 12 December, WENN is broadcasting Roosevelt's message to Congress. Well, Gus Kahuna's rendition of Roosevelt's message. Gus Kahuna, you may remember from "Don't Act Like That," is fabulous at mimicking voices but not so good at coming up with his own voices. Unfortunately, as he gives the ad for Lubridor Hair Creme, he continues in his Roosevelt impersonation. Audiences at home are blinking their eyes wondering how the war effort will be helped by massive purchases of hair gunk. So Betty has to give away one of the secrets of radio to her listeners.

However, enough listeners have probably decided to follow their "President's request" to buy a tube that Lubridor's stock is probably going to rise with the surge in sales. Scott uses an official phone line that acts as if it's local to the District of Columbia to notify a Major friend of his and slips him the tip. This is to earn him a favor owed by the Major; a favor Scott plans to speak with him about later, in private. (Never mind that I find it hard to picture Lubridor as something on the stock market, it still shows quick thinking on Scott's part (Although with Scott's history, maybe he realized the unlikelihood of share availability (But perhaps...nah. Enough parentheticals.)))

The patriotic fervor is running high. Mr. Eldridge has unearthed his uniform from his days with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Mackie lets Tom know it should have made a stop in the laundry on its way from being stored to being donned.

The plots of WENN's show reflect the war. Captain Amazon (sponsored by Dutch Uncle Cocoa) and Binky find themselves in the Philippines.

Betty switched over to overwhelming happiness ("It's a miracle!") in her despair over Victor's death ("Radio Silence"). When Victor didn't remember Scott Sherwood, a close friend during Victor's early time in London according to Scott, Betty began writing surprise revelations about identities in her scripts ("Prior to Broadway"). Now, in reaction to America joining the Allies, she wants to bring "comedy and variety down to almost nothing."

Mere days ago I was rereading the liner notes for Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters: Their Complete Recordings Together. It pointed out that once the American Federation of Musicians strike ended, Bing and the Andrews Sisters began recording "buoyant wartime spirit-lifters." The Andrews Sisters became very identified with these. As Maxene Andrews pointed out, the songs were intended "to give the American people the fun and upbeat feelings they needed during this awful war." Can you imagine spending many tense hours on duty and when it came time to relax, the radio poured out relentless sobriety? The human psyche doesn't operate well under those circumstances. But Victor explains it far more articulately than I:

"Betty, what do you think this country is fighting for? Hmm? Life, liberty and the right to do silly radio programs. We're not just fighting for France, Betty. We're fighting for Frank Sinatra, crooning. Johnny Weissmuller, lagooning. Captain Ahab, harpooning. Bugs Bunny, cartooning. This is more than just Mother, Love and Country. This is for Moe...Larry...and Curly."

"I just was trying to do, ya know, the responsible thing."

"I had the same first impulse myself. And then I realized that the reason that we are in this thing is so that men and women of every race and creed can come home after a hard day's work and take a beer out of their icebox and sit in their underwear listening to Rance Shiloh, U. S. Marshall. The day we lose Custard the Clown, Betty...we've lost the war."

Betty stares at Victor in admiration, caught up in his fervor. Victor has thought beyond the immediate emotional needs of individuals to their larger needs. And he's passionate about it, just as he was when he first impressed Betty. And rather than knocking Betty's schedule with "Betty, how could you be so blind?", he takes it as an opportunity to teach, to share ideas, to engage and motivate...and to inspire.

Jeff is trying to engage Hilary's attention with a proposal...on a time delayed basis. Jeff expects all the legalities from the Pavla affair, as it were not, to be completed within a month's time. However, Hilary continues to put him off. I would think she's continuing with her plan not to give an inch until Jeff is completely free. Oddly she doesn't seem to realize that Jeff, as well as all the WENN men will want to join up. Well, maybe not so oddly. She is Hilary Booth, of course.

Once Gus brings this to her attention her true feelings of fear for Jeff surface. But she gleans from Gus that married men are placed at the back of the roll call.

Tom delivers a strange telegram stating that Special Services is taking over all of WENN's operations. This sounds highly irregular. But there's little time to talk about it as Victor must meet a transport plane.

Victor and Betty have been dating since just after September 1st ("Some Time, Some Station"). I'm sure they've kissed goodbye several times with many other smooches in-between. But as early as the 2nd of October ("Past Tense, Future Imperfect"), Betty was beginning to question her satisfaction with the relationship. Now, two months later, Betty pulls back from Victor's goodbye kiss. It seems she's decided to confront Victor with her concerns. Or perhaps even decided to end the relationship.

Scott, passing by, sees them kissing through the window. This is one of the days where he fears Betty might love Victor more than him. He turns back to the writer's room so he can place that call to the Major.

In Studio A, Hilary puts her plan to save Jeff's life in action. She accepts his proposal. In a scene of kissus interruptus, we see Eugenia and Maple placing bets on how long they'll stay made up.

Hilary's scheme of preventing Jeff from serving in the war soon becomes apparent to Jeff.

"Hilary Booth, I retract the proposition I was speaking of."

"You're dangling a preposition and retracting a proposition at the same time."

According to a message on the newsgroup, Tom Beckett has stated that he semaphored "Birds do it. Bees do it. Eugenia, let's do it." So it looks likes the "might have been -C-" is to be thrown out. The next -O- was correct. The "probably -D- but could be -I-" was an -I-. The toss up between -T- and -O- was a -T-. And the "almost certainly -E- but maybe -L-" is an -E-. This means that in the editing, the last semaphore scene we saw was another angle or take of the second/third line: "o i t E" (which gave us an overlapped -E-).

So labeling the semaphore scenes in order as red, green, yellow and blue gives it to us as:

BIRDs do it.
Bees dO IT.
EUgenia, let's DO It.

Of course, the "d o i" from the third semaphore scene doesn't necessarily come at the end. I put it there because becasue it's the next "d o i" after "EUgenia."

Mr. Foley is expanding his communication skills beyond sound effects in order to be more useful to the armed forces. He's learning semaphore. We see him down at the end of the hall sending "BIRD."

When next we see the flags, he spells, "E...U..."

Eugenia: "E...U...G...E...Oh, he's spelling my name.

Back to Foley: "D...O...I..."

Eugenia: "Oh Mr. Foley, you mustn't."

When we cut back to Foley, he seems smoldering with passion and he's moving the flags so fast it's hard to keep up. When we first cut to him, he might have just signaled a "C." The next letter is clearly an "O." The following letter is probably a "D" although it could be an "I." This is followed by an ambiguous signal which seems like it could be a "T" or an "O." The last letter we see is almost certainly an "E," but might be an "L."

Put it all together and it seems to read, "Eugenia, do I .......c o d t/o e."

Scott has contacted his Major friend again and through a bad connection by Maple, Maple and Betty overhear some of the conversation. Apparently Scott had been in contact with his friend earlier and the Major had passed on news of a plush assignment in London. The job entails a suite at the Dorchester, a chauffeur, an expense account for entertaining celebrities and no chance of combat. Scott wants this job. He wants it for...Victor Comstock. (A detail unheard by Betty and Maple.)

Most of the men seem to have agreed on this day to go to the recruiting office. Perhaps because Monday would have been like a bad day at the DMV. Or maybe waiting for the declaration of war against the Axis. Tom Eldridge, veteran of the Spanish-American War , Mackie Bloom, veteran of The Great War, Jeff Singer and Mr. Foley march out of the station destined for the recruiting center to the hearty "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" of Eugenia, Gertie, Maple and Betty. Mackie, perhaps remembering the slaughter of Verdun, has the saddest look as he turns and follows the others out. With the men gone, the heart goes out of their heartiness and the station is quieter...emptier.

The telegram had mentioned that a Captain would be arriving to take charge. So when the "Captain" shows up at the station, this would seem to be fulfillment. (But does it fill you with the fulfillingness...aw, forget it.) He seems a little puffed up with himself which seemed odd, but then I'm used to seeing bizarre representations of military people on TV. But his question of "standing guard" aimed into reality-disconnect and his admonition to drink Dutch Uncle Cocoa fired off the rocket. Only later would I notice there were no markings of any kind on his "outfit."

This "Captain" has just returned from the Philippines. When he sees that Scott isn't at the recruitment office with the others he calls Scott a laggard. Since Scott doesn't know what the word means he considers it a fighting word.

In the conversation that follows (Betty manages to prevent a fight), Betty slams Scott pretty hard for what she considers his enlistment negotiation. Scott, frustrated, departs (because of a deadline we later learn).

Then Betty uncovers the Captain's secret. He's Captain...Amazon! And he's prepared to take Binky, Yudo Yudy (the former Judo Judy) and the sponsors with him. He is clearly mad.

The once-proud quartet of men return. As expected, Jeff is 4F due to injuries to his knees in the London bombing. Also expected was that Tom Eldridge wouldn't meet the age requirement since he hasn't seen 65 in many years. And the age requirement was 35 or under. And Mackie hasn't seen 35 in many years. As I mentioned in last week's post, it took Glenn Miller many months to get around the age requirement. That left Foley, who turns out to have "flat feet" and also was categorized as 4F.

We find out where Scott had rushed off to. Once more to the men's room to change clothing. He presents himself to Betty and Amazon Andy in his Army Second Lieutenant's uniform. As if there were any doubt, Scott was there early Monday morning (and woe to anyone that stood in his way). Since the day is almost done and he ships out that night, he was probably coming in to tell Betty earlier when confronted by Camouflage Boy. He fought against the Nationalists, the Nazis and the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War and this time he wants to see it finished, "for all the Betty Roberts in this country." Even if it means he has "to do without the one [he cares] about for a while."

The womenfolk are trying to console the menfolk who feel guilty over their setback from the Front. Eugenia and Hilary anticipate the Hollywood Canteen. And Jeff is slowly warming up to the idea of at least being able to provide morale boosts by entertaining the troops.

Captain Amazon Andy is quickly found out when he begins shaking Miss Booth, Miss Hilary Booth: "Binky? Binky? What have they done with you, boy?!"

Scott tells Betty he's down to her last 8 minutes with him when Victor returns with "big, big news." (Scott seems saddened that one of his catch phrases is catching on.) We finally find out the scoop on that odd telegram. WENN is now the flagship station of THE W.E.N.N., the Wartime Entertainment and News Network. In addition to WENN's regular shows, they'll be creating programs for Armed Forces Radio (ARS) (which I remember somewhat fondly). "It'll mean twice the work and, because the government is paying for it, we'll have half the budget. God, what a challenge!"

Betty agrees that it's "very exciting" (Scott smiles at the loss of another catch phrase).

It turns out that the expected "Captain" to oversee WENN and W.E.N.N. is Victor himself, promoted that very day. Oddly enough, Victor has also been offered the post of Director of Armed Forces Radio in London.

Outside, Crazed Andy is hauled away. "But...it's my station." The orderly patriotically informs him, "The airwaves are public property. This is everyone's station."

Eugenia and Mr. Foley are in the writer's room. "Mr. Foley, do you think we should consider becoming engaged?" Foley does not appear to be at odds with this suggestion. Just as he is ready to say "Yes" or "No", we cut to...

Jeff and Hilary are in Studio A. Now that the situation with Jeff's enlistment is resolved...for the moment, Jeff once again proposes to Hilary...on the air. "Hilary, in front of all Pittsburgh, I ask...will you be my wife?"

"Jeff, I really..." and then Hilary stops whatever flippant reply she was going to give. Perhaps after the events of the day she's been reminded how easily she could lose Jeff again. Once the Pavla situation looked to be over, we had expected their engagement to be on immediately. But for five days she's been putting him off, and for a reason. "I really can't, you see...I'm married to someone else."

By the way she says it, I find it impossible to believe that she's already "married to her job" or some such. I then thought that unbeknownst to Jeff, Hilary had not signed the final papers on their divorce (divorce of a marriage that wasn't legal? This has been a long strange trip). But she specifically said "someone else." My best guess is that in order to give tit for tat she rushed blindly into a marriage before "Happy Homecomings" to spite Jeff. Or perhaps for some legal reason. The only logical candidate that comes to mind, astonishingly, is Ballinger.

As to why she hasn't told anyone. She's embarrassed, perhaps. She's trying to have it taken care of behind the scenes before anyone finds out. After all, she lived for years with Jeff under the pretense of being married when they were both single. She worked like the dickens to keep that quiet.

What of Foley and Eugenia. Is it true love? What of the hint of a beginning romance with Maple in the prior season? Completely done, gone, out the window?

Then there's Scott with his strange maneuvering behind the scenes to get Victor sent to London. Was his motivation purely selfish? To keep Victor and Betty having time together with Scott out of the picture, away at war?

But it's something that Victor would enjoy. Almost like a radio czar. Certainly that shows good intentions. But it could be shrewd thinking. The offered job would have to be something that would appeal strongly to Victor.

But he took care to emphasize that it'd be a non-combative position. Maybe he's looking out for Victor's safety. After all, he likes the man. He's a hero who has already put his life in grave peril for months undercover for which he was subjected to mind-bending techniques. He was like a prisoner of war before we were at war. It's Victor's turn to take it easy while Scott takes the battle to the Nazis. However, certainly being in London places Victor in more danger than Pittsburgh or D.C. After all, that's where he was almost killed before and the bombing raids have continued. So he doesn't seem to be looking out for Victor's safety.

What of Victor. Certainly he's been doing some thinking since October. He must know that all this time away is threatening his relationship with Betty. Having W.E.N.N. headquarted out of WENN is perfect. Now perhaps he'll be able to spend more time with Betty. Since Betty's withdrawal from him earlier in the day this must have been turning over in his mind.

There's just the problem with the ARS assignment. "I got it. Sherwood, why don't you take that job over in London?" Scott has earned Victor's respect with some of his programming ideas. He seems to be able to handle budgets well. He's already a commissioned officer. And it probably entered Victor's mind that it could only help him and Betty if Scott were gone.

Scott, hit out of left field with a setup of his own devising, quizzes, "What? Get stuck in a cozy corner of London while you're here with Betty. No, no, no." Scott inches in a little towards Victor and starts pointing his finger at him (I dare you). "Why don't I take your job here and you can go to London. What do you say to that...Vic?" Scott venomously emphasizes "Vic" even though Victor has indicated his displeasure at the nickname.

Victor has been every bit the gentleman. Scott has been saying "Vic" since September, although once Victor learned Scott's name he's never misspoke it once. But that's no more than what Hilary does with people all the time so he brushed it off. It also must have been apparent to him the last couple of months that Scott has been trying to subvert his relationship with Betty. He's tried to be civil about the whole thing. After all, what guy wouldn't love Betty? But now there's no dodging, Scott is making it a point of declaring his intentions towards Betty. And he's also using body language to indicate physical challenge. (Quick, get Jane Goodall, she might want to observe this.) Victor is human and has his limits. Either his rising anger or a realization that firmness is needed motivates him to return the unspoken physical challenge and close the remaining distance between them (I double dare you). Victor corrects Scott, "What do you say to that...sir!" Victor puts his own angry emphasis on "sir".

Betty (who is probably getting tired of breaking up fights and wondering why they don't save it for the Axis) intervenes, "Do I have anything to say about this?"

Vic, as always, is quick to respect Betty's ability to make her own choices, "You're right, Betty. You have everything to say about this. What do you say, Sherwood?"

"Yeah. Betty, you decide. Victor can order me to stay or to go."

"Like they say over at the Buttery, Betty, 'I'm ready to take your order'." Then, as both men turn towards Betty, Victor softly completes: "What'll it be?"

Betty has had a habit in tense moments of practically ping ponging her eyes back and forth. This time she looks from left to right and back again, but in a much more controlled fashion. As she continues to look back and forth between the two men, we...

Fade out.

Well, Victor is right in that Betty has everything to say about who she dates. Victor is wrong in that Betty doesn't have everything to say about their military assignments and career choices. They must take their own responsibility. I suspect that Betty will tell them just that. Followed shortly by breaking up with Victor and making sure both men know to keep their distance.

Well, we close on another magnificent season of WENN. I thought it started out strong, had some weak points here and there mid-season but came up with another winning cliff hanger. This time it doesn't involve the life or death of Victor Comstock, but instead focuses on predicaments arising from Rupert's marvelous characters. Very nicely done.

This is Rodney Walker signing off saying, "Loose Lips Sink Ships!"

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