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'Sports Night' nostalgia recap: All hail the giant blue margarita

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Dear Louise” | Aired Nov 11, 1998

Sports Night has been getting a little grim recently. It’s time to liven things up, and for that we have “Dear Louise,” with air horns, giant blue margaritas, and “Boogie Shoes.”

Dan wants Casey to come out with him to a bar called El Perro Fumando, where if you wear something blue, you get two dollars off a giant blue margarita. He relishes the opportunity to drink something giant and blue. Casey doesn’t want to go, but changes his mind because Dana is coming, and if Dana gets drunk, she might get up on a table to KC and the Sunshine Band. Everyone debates where “El Perro Fumando” means the dog is smoking, on fire, or gay. (For reference, it actually means “The Smoking Dog.”)

The only person who doesn’t go out is Jeremy, because he’s writing a letter to his sister, detailing his first three months on the job. That means he narrates a series of way-too-amusing happenings, beginning with Dan having a full-blown meltdown because he’s got writer’s block. This may be the worst case of it ever, because the best thing he can come up with is “The Red Wings played the Flyers in a hockey game and they won four to three.”

Dan goes on to break his computer, which makes Natalie think she needs to intervene. She decides to throw water in his face—twice—as a form of shock therapy. When that doesn’t work, in one of the great comedic moments in Sports Night history, she blasts an air horn behind him, causing him to do a spit-take all over the anchor desk. Then she follows that up with even more water in his face. At that point, even Dan can see the hilarity in the situation.

Meanwhile, Isaac is not happy because his teenage daughter is dating a Republican named Chad. “I’m calling a building contractor and installing a dungeon,” he quips, “and a moat. A big moat.” He’s just crazy enough to do it, too. And Dana gets into a protracted conversation with Casey about her hair. Even Jeremy can tell that Casey has got feelings for Dana, who ribs him about being jealous of Gordon’s career and his postgraduate degree.

Casey’s response is to mock Gordon about a massive organized-crime case that he lost. You can’t fault him, since apparently said case involved wiretaps in which Sammy Golino said, “I killed him. I killed him. I killed him dead.” He wonders what somebody has to do to get thrown in jail on Gordon’s watch. Gordon not only offers to subject him to an audit so that they can find out, but also reminds Casey that he’s having sex with Dana every night.

And there’s a typo on the teleprompter that makes “bulging disk” look like a very different part of the male anatomy, which is bad … especially because the next line in the script is, “Let’s go to the videotape.” This is even funnier if you know that this situation actually happened to ESPN SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy in 1995. Check it out:

But there is one serious note here. Kelly Kirkpatrick, CSC’s much referenced but rarely seen field reporter, asks if anyone in the office knows the name Archibald Russell. Better known as A.K. Russell, he was a pitcher with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues, and now he’s been carjacked and beaten. Russell eventually dies of his injuries, casting an uncomfortable pall over the newsroom.

We don’t want to end this episode on a downer, though, so here’s everyone coming back from El Perro Fumando tremendously drunk, with “Boogie Shoes” blasting. Dana is dancing, Dan has busted his writer’s block by meeting a girl at the bar, and Jeremy shares his first kiss with Natalie. Perhaps there need to be more giant blue margaritas in the future.

By framing “Dear Louise” with Jeremy’s letter to his sister, writers David Walpert and Aaron Sorkin are essentially writing their own letter to the audience, saying things that they aren’t able to show us. We learn that Isaac has a Pulitzer Prize and had previously retired as a bureau chief for CNN, and get our first mention of Dana having a disapproving mother and a brother who plays in the NFL for the Denver Broncos (which will be important later).

They also greatly liven up the proceedings, something which is much appreciated after two heavy episodes involving the Christian Patrick scandal. And they waste no time getting Natalie and Jeremy together (even more significant when you consider that Casey and Dana will seemingly never get their act together). But most important, Walpert and Sorkin show us what Jeremy is trying to show Louise: that Sports Night is a really awesome place to work. Sixteen years after this episode aired, it’s still a place we’d love to visit.

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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