“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.
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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.

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