“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
ScottBetty
Vic.Ofc.
LobbyButteryKitchenStorageLounge
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."


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