Summary of Cliff Gardner

The show is on the air. Dana is in the control room commenting on how stiff the show is tonight. Even stiffer than last night if that's possible. Sam comes in and comments that the show seems stiff. Dana agrees with him. He suggests that Dana and Natalie whisper in Dan and Casey's ears in order to get them to loosen up because men like it when women whisper in their ears. Dana is offended. Instead, during the next break, she goes onto the stage and yells at the guys. Then Sam comes out and says to the guys that he thinks maybe his presence is making them nervous, so he's going to take off and watch the show somewhere else. When he leaves, Casey realizes he stole their script. Suddenly the teleprompter goes out, so Dana tells the guys to use their script. Casey tells her what happened to the script, and Dana realizes that she and Natalie will have whisper bullet points into the guys' ears in order to finish the show.

Dana and Natalie are in Dana's office. Dana is telling Natalie how JJ and some network honchos want to sit down the entire senior staff and give them notes. Natalie can't believe that these people who have no experience running a sports show expect to give them notes. Natalie rages on and on about the unfairness until Dana blows up at her, feeling responsible for the fact that the network isn't happy with the show. Between the network and Sam Donovan, Dana thinks maybe she should look at some of the many job offers for her out there. Natalie makes Dana realize that she'd have to bring Natalie, Jeremy, Casey, and Dan with her if she left.

Dana and Natalie go to the run-down meeting which is just as stiff as the show was last night. Dana tells everyone that the network wants to give them notes. Dan freaks out, saying that if this keeps up, Dana will be nothing more than a secretary. Dana gets seriously offended and walks out. The meeting breaks up. Jeremy and Natalie are the last to leave, and comment to each other that they're in trouble.

Dan comes to Dana's office later to apologize and gives her a wine that she's been looking for. He meant to get cheese to go with the wine, but the cheese store he went to is now a hardware store, so instead he got her spackle. Casey comes in and is pleased to see everyone getting along. Dan leaves, and Casey asks Dana to go out with him that night. Dana says that would be against the rules. Casey asks how he can help her in this obviously tough situation. She asks him to keep Dan from lashing out during the meeting with the network. They talk more about how Casey doesn't understand why he has to date other women. She reminds him it's so that they'll really have a chance together. He still doesn't get it, but doesn't have a choice.

JJ, along with two other network people, are in Isaac's office with Isaac. Sam comes in and Isaac introduces him around. JJ tells Isaac that he feels their past notes have not been listened to, which is why they want to have this meeting with the senior staff. Isaac says that just because they didn't follow all the notes doesn't mean they didn't listen. Isaac asks JJ if this meeting will keep his staff from losing their jobs. JJ doesn't want to make any promises. Isaac tells him to get out of his office. JJ takes Sam aside outside Isaac's office and basically offers him Isaac's job. Sam is noncommital, and goes back to talk to Isaac. Isaac asks Sam if JJ offered him his job. Sam tries to make up some excuse, but Isaac tells him not to lie. He admits it. Isaac tells Sam he should play ball with the big boys. He can't keep being the hired gunslinger he is now forever. Isaac says he's going to watch a color test because he wants to do something that has something to do with television.

JJ, his two other network people, Dana, and the rest of the senior staff of Sports Night are in the conference room. The network folk are basically saying that the problem with the show is in the writing, and they should dumb-down the writing for the American public. Dana asks JJ if they could continue this meeting in her office. JJ says that when he talks just to Dana, he feels like his message doesn't get through to the staff which is why he wants to talk to everyone. Dana loses it and tells JJ that he can't just order up the show any way he wants, and either he should fire her or shut up. JJ is in the process of firing her when Dan speaks up and says that he and Casey will try harder, and let's just hear the rest of the notes. The network folks turn back their notes, but then Dana says they'll just be taking a five minute recess. She and the rest of the senior staff leave the room, leaving the three network guys just sitting there. Sam wanders in and, after asking if JJ's name is Jim Bob, asks the three of them to take a walk with him. As he leads them all through the offices and the studio onto the stage, he tells them the story of how Philo Farnsworth invented television, and his brother-in-law Cliff Gardner wanted to help, but didn't know much about science, so taught himself to blow glass so he could make the glass tubes necessary for TV. He then turns to the network folk and says that their notes are stupid. He says that he's there because he can do something, he can blow glass tubes, which is what Sports Night needs, but they should just get out of the way and stop insulting Isaac. He shows them to the door. Of course, Isaac was watching the color test and saw the entire thing. He smilingly tells Sam that he's a lunatic.

Back in the conference room, the senior staff is back and wondering where the network guys got to. Dana is about to send Elliot out to look for them when Sam comes in and says they're gone. He says that he has two priorities in life. The first is not to drink and the second is to keep what almost happened here today from ever happening again to this show. He asks everyone to trust him. He walks out, and Dana tells everyone that they should get to the show.

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