EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Sports Night' nostalgia recap: Phantom flies and fire hydrants

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Intellectual Property” | Aired Oct 13, 1998

Sometimes it really is all in your head. In the “Intellectual Property” episode of Sports Night, Lisa Simpson and that guy from Married with Children help Dan and Casey realize they’re a little off the mark. Dana and Natalie, meanwhile, keep being Dana and Natalie.

This episode has one of the funniest openings of the entire series. Casey really loves saying “virgin show”; Jeremy gives Dan a useless fact about the population of Hoisington, Kansas; then there may or may not be a fly in the studio. “It’s almost hard to believe we’re in third place,” Dan deadpans as Casey flails against the fly.

That’s just the start of his woes. The next afternoon, Casey has potentially broken his ankle because he kicked a fire hydrant, which he did because he’s jealous of Dana’s new relationship with Gordon—but he claims Dana is the one trying to make him jealous. Yet he’s not the only one who thinks that way. Elsewhere in the building, Natalie continues to tell Dana she’s with the wrong guy. She’s gone out of her way to inform Casey that Dana bought new lingerie for a romantic getaway with Gordon.

Dan goes to visit Malory Moss in Business Affairs. If she sounds familiar, that’s because she’s played by Yeardley Smith, who is the voice of Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons. Right now, she’s upset with Dan for singing “Happy Birthday” to Casey on the air. Apparently this has upset the representatives of songwriters Patty and Mildred Hill, who have billed CSC $2,500 for the gesture. “Did you think that song just happened?” Malory asks, to which Dan replies, “Well, yeah.”

Casey’s quest to prove the existence of the studio fly proceeds to pulling the videotape from the previous night’s show and making Jeremy watch it. Jeremy has heard about the lingerie from Natalie, and tells Casey that his understanding is that Dana’s vacation is almost entirely about sex. This only winds Casey up further. At the next rundown meeting, he wonders aloud if the fly has any sort of special powers. Dan is not much better: He tells Isaac the intellectual property cops are after him, and therefore he’s only singing songs in the public domain. Isaac asks Dan if he’s on any medication.

Another show ends, and Dana is giddy over her imminent departure with Gordon. Natalie rips Casey’s earpiece out of his ear to get him to go talk to her before she leaves. Their farewell conversation turns into another argument when he tells her that he doesn’t think she should go, and he’s been looking at her calendar. Dana retorts that he needs to knock off his tendency to pursue her when his life gets crazy, saying he’s done it before in college, in Dallas, and in L.A., and she’s tired of it. “I apologize for nothing,” Casey replies. “Well, that’s not true. I apologize for some things. But not a lot of things. A few things. Several things. I apologize for about half the things.”

He further steps in it when he comments that he has no interest in seeing her naked; she makes him insist that he does, and suggests that not only is he in love with her, but it’s really all a figment of his mental state. He tells her that she’s got serious feelings for him too, and they’re going to make her go further off the deep end. Into the aftermath of this walks the much-talked-about but never-before-seen Gordon (Ted McGinley). But as Dana is getting ready to leave with him, the very much real fly buzzes her head and proves that Casey might not be that crazy.

“Intellectual Property” is the reason I give for not letting anyone sing “Happy Birthday” to me anymore. But more important, it’s the first episode to have Casey and Dana directly address the attraction between them that’s been apparent since the pilot. This was back in the day, before seemingly every show had a romantic subplot, so it was still kind of different to see one so obviously laid in. Yet you completely understand why, as soon as you see the fantastic chemistry between Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman. Theirs is the kind of natural partnership that most other shows only wish they could have. It’s a shame that season two messed that up, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

The portion of this episode that never quite gets enough love is the scene between Dan and Malory Moss. Yeardley Smith is a great add to the show, with her dry delivery perfectly playing off Josh Charles’ energy. Aside from being tremendously funny, it’s one of the first times we get to see people outside of the usual roles you’d expect on a show about a TV show. You always see the network suits, but you might not have known there’s a Business Affairs office too. Sports Night did a fine job of fleshing out the CSC world beyond just our main cast members. I like to think that Malory still works there, making her predecessor, Marty Sheinbaum, very proud indeed.

Sports Night is available on Hulu.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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