“Courting Disaster”

15 November 1997
["Gentlemen, start your engines."] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Richard Shepard.
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If we didn't know Mr. Eldridge's full name before, we now know it as Thomas Quincy Eldridge. But I never expected to hear it as he's being introduced as a judge. I suspect that others beside the defendant will feel they've been persecuted! At least he asks them to come to the bar (maybe O'Malley's).

But soon we're getting to our interest: Where's Jeff?

Apparently, although the details are "murky", Jeff's retained a lawyer to sue for damages to his career (although Hilary had been expecting simple unentangling of common property). It's fun watching both Drake Stanley and Hilary try to disarm each other in preparation for the deposition. Mr. Stanley comparing Grace Cavendish unfavorably against Hilary. Hilary requesting he call her just "Hilary" (perish forbid!).

But soon, Hilary is caught unawares by the Triple Negative Bandit: "Miss Booth, is it not true that you in no way told your husband you wouldn't mind him performing without you?" He even slips in a negative in a contraction as if trying to fly below radar. (After much face-making, I roughly translated this to something like: "Is it false that you didn't tell your husband you weren't against him performing without you?" Then further refined it to: "Is it true you told your husband you weren't against him performing without you?")

He rephrases the question as: "You didn't convey to my client that his dramatic career was not something you didn't want him to pursue?" (Which I parsed as: "You told my client that his dramatic career was something you didn't want him to pursue?" A "no" to this would be like a "yes" to the previous question.)

Third and final try. "You were planning to not allow your husband the chance to perform on his own. Is that not true?" (Running it through the Amazon Andy Decoder Ring produces: "Is it true that you were planning to allow your husband the chance to perform on his own? Which is closer to the first try.)

With this much coding going on, we need Scott to crypto-analyze the questions! Speaking of questions, where's Jeff?

Shortly we have a scene with Betty and Mr. Stanley. Not putting the previous scenes together, it's difficult to guess what's next, is it not? Or rather, putting the previous scenes together, it's not too difficult to guess what's next. Between Victor and Scott's tutelage, Betty's become quite the conspirator.

As Betty promised Mr. Stanley, there's no conflict of interest with Jeff's lawsuit. Instead, he's now defending Jeff in different suit brought against Jeff by Hilary. Well, saying "there's no conflict of interest" may have been pushing it. :)

However, Hilary is the one who realizes they need to go beyond Doug Thompson's professional competence and get someone willing to wallow in the mud with "ambulance chaser" Stanley. She wants the devil himself, Scott Sherwood. Scott Sherwood, whom she describes as believing Hilary's "happy ending justifies any means." (Hmmm, now THAT'S interesting.)

Before long, Scott and Hilary are making the opening statement. As always they're battling it out for top dog position. Hilary finally defers to Scott as her legal representative. Since he can finally speak unimpeded, he takes the opportunity for another shameless plug-for-lunch.

Scott puts Hilary on the stand and tries to ascertain her age. "I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might tend to incinerate you." "I withdraw the question." You know, these two have what you call chemistry.

Soon Mr. Stanley is trotting out his double negatives: "Miss Booth, your husband didn't not marry you when he promised you he would, did he not?" (1st pass through the spectrum analyzer: "Did he not not marry you when he promised you he would?" 2nd pass: "Did he marry you when he promised he would?")

As the saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Mr. Stanley tipped off Hilary to that strategy earlier, so she's prepared this time: "If you're asking 'Didn't he not marry me when he said he would?', even though ultimately he didn't, then my answer could not be anything but 'Yes'." So here, she's saying that Jeff did marry her as promised, but ultimately didn't since the legality of the marriage was called into question and (supposedly) ignored by Jeff when he (allegedly) married Pavla. Tricky.

"You mean that to be a 'No', do you not." (By answering "Yes", she pretty much conceded the case so he's double-checking.)

"Yes." (Meaning she had meant to say "No." Though, of course, her answer was both a "No" and a "Yes.")

"Yes, you do not?" (survey says, "You do not mean to have answered 'Yes'?")

"No." (No, she does not mean to have answered "Yes.")

This drives him to call on a witness from a previous trial, Iojeck. Whoops, sorry. He was objecting. (hee, hee)

Ok, skip a new WENN word this week and take this grammar message to heart: Double negatives are evil, Evil, EVIL!

Shortly, Maple is called to the stand as a character witness. Notice C. J.'s still working on his lunch.

Mackie is left to remind people that Jeff isn't a villain in a moving speech.

Finally! We get to Jeff...who is still in London. We've finally gotten an answer to why we haven't heard any more from Jeff: the phone connection problems to England have gone from severe to dire. He's completely unaware of the lawsuit Drake claims to be pressing on Jeff's behalf and this certainly supports the idea that the whole Pavla deal may be a big scam. Jeff states that Hilary has been nothing but good for his career and then proceeds to display her effect on him as he mimics Hilary's own self-obsession with his performing credits.

In a charming tag, it appears as if Scott's efforts at self-rehabilitation are finally having some of its desired effects as Scott and Betty banter friendlier than we've seen them in a long while.

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