Newsradio (Season 1, Ep 3): Smoking

Hi. Welcome back to Newsradio, Season 1. There are spoilers ahead for this episode. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go stream this episode on “The Roku Channel” (or somewhere else, I don’t care, do whatever you want) and meet me back here in 25 minutes.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

A new city ordinance requires Bill to stop smoking in the office bullpen. Dave creates a smoking area that is both loud and windy. However, he encourages Bill to give up cigarettes altogether and offers to give up coffee as a show of support.

Neither man succeeds in giving up his addiction.

_____________________________________

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:


Dave announced that in accordance with a New York ordinance, the office is now smoke-free. Bill, a smoker, does not pay attention to the announcement and lights up a cigarette as soon as the meeting is over. Dave tells Bill that smoking in the office may not be punishable by up to a $100 fine. Bill then tosses the cigarette in Dave’s coffee.

Dave tells Joe that the capslock function will not come off of his laptop. Joe tilts the screen up and slaps the back of the monitor.

Thanks, Fonzie.

Lisa then comes into Dave’s office and Joe awkwardly excuses himself. She tells Dave that she believes Joe saw them at the movies the night before. Dave counters by saying that he has just spent fifteen minutes with Joe and the interaction was normal. He tells Lisa she is being paranoid.

While the two of them are arguing about which of them is more paranoid, Bill enters Dave’s office with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

Dave: You know Bill, I hope you’re enjoying that cigarette because it is your last.
Bill: Oh no, I’ve got a full pack right here. [pats his coat pocket]

Matthew, the biggest office proponent of the non-smoking ordinance, comes into Dave’s office wearing a turtleneck over his face and then he drops off papers on Dave’s desk. he then leaves immediately.

Next, we see Lisa cornering Joe and asking him about his weekend. She asks if he has seen any good movies lately and he awkwardly tells her he does not go to movies because most movies suck. He then says he’s gotta go and walks away from her.

Lisa then approaches Dave to tell him that Joe knows everything. However, Matthew interrupts her to say that he needs to talk to David. (Matthew usually calls him by the more formal David.) He tells Dave that he must make Bill stop smoking.

It’s in my clothes. It’s in my hair. Would you smell my hair?! Smell my hand! Smell something!

Dave advises Matthew to talk to Bill himself. Just then, Bill calls to Dave about the official ordinance. He points out the Dave that in an office of more than twenty people a special designated smoking are must be established. Then he further suggests that the area be a mobile ten foot radius around himself. He gives Dave until after his segment to determine an appropriate place.

Matthew has been listening a short distance away and Dave tells him, again, to go talk to Bill himself. As Matthew meekly approaches Bill, without looking, Bill advises him to turn around and return to his desk. Matthew scurries away.

In the next scene, we see that Dave has found an office to set aside for smoking. Bill agrees to use the office. Dave then opens a window which causes wind to blow papers around the room and the sound of car horns and busy New York City streets to dominate the room.

IT’S VERY PLEASANT, THANK YOU!

As they leave, Dave fails to notice Mr. James.

D: Mr. James, I didn’t see you come in.
J: Yeah, well, that’s the way I like it. I’m like that magician guy, what’s his name?
D: Uh, David Copperfield?
J: No.
D: Siegfried?
J: Nuh uh.
D: Roy?
J: That’s the one.

Jimmy James says he has the solution for Dave’s office smoking problem. He has friends in City Hall, Albany, and Washington D.C. Dave says he actually likes the ordinance. Jimmy says he likes fire safety but points out that the fire extinguishers on the ceiling are not hooked up to anything.

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town.

Later that day, Dave sees Bill sitting by himself at his desk and asks him if anything is the matter. Bill does not answer. Dave asks if he is sure… and Bill breathes out the smoke he was hiding.

Dave suggests to Bill that he should just quit. Bill doubts that Dave has ever smoked a cigarette in his life. Dave says that he has.

B: You threw up, didn’t you.
D: How’d you know?
B: You seem like the type.

Dave then shares with Bill that he is addicted to caffeine. Bill says it is not the same, and he refers to the cigarettes as his friends – his little buddies.

D: Bill, I’m your friend.
B: Oh yeah? Then where were you last night at 3 a.m. when I was watching Steel Magnolias and crying my eyes out.

Dave suggests that he give up coffee and Bill give up cigarettes so that they can go through things together. Bill reluctantly agrees.

The following day, Bill goes into Daves office to discuss how their plan is going. Dave says that he has a pounding headache and his arms feel like they are twelve feet long.

B: I’ve been better. I coughed up something that looks like escargot this morning.

Bill starts drinking a cup of coffee in front of Dave. He tells Dave that they have been at this for nine and a half hours and it would be okay if they end the charade. He further tells Dave that if Dave caves first, it will not make him less of a man.

Matthew comes into the office and both Bill and Dave start screaming at him.

Later that day, Lisa brings Dave an aspirin. She is still obsessing over whether or not Joe saw them at the movies. When she leaves, Beth comes in to alert Dave about Bill’s current radio performance. We hear Bill reading the news in a pained monotone.

Just then, Jimmy James barges into the office. He asks Dave if he is running a radio station or a rehab clinic. We see him walk into Bill’s booth, light a cigarette, place it in Bill’s mouth… one slow drag of the cigarette later, and Bill’s radio voice returns to normal.

Once Mr. James leaves, Dave goes into Bill’s booth, removes the cigarette, and he returns to a monotone. Next, Catherine approaches Dave and asks him to let Bill smoke while they are on the air. She says she misses the smell. Dave continues to say no.

Bill soon leaves the on-air booth and returns to his desk. Matthew offers him a carrot stick. He tells Bill that they may help him quit smoking. After putting one in his mouth for a few moments, he suddenly realizes that Matthew is messing with him.

Dave comes into the office with nicotine patches. He gives one to Bill. Lisa asks him how he got them and he says that his doctor prescribed them when Dave mentioned that he was considering smoking. “He’s not a very good doctor, is he?”

Bill is exhilarated by the patch. However, a short time later, Bill says he feels tingling in his chest and arms. We then see a clip of an ambulance on the street. The medic tells Dave that the event is probably not related to the patch because doctors are careful when prescribing them.

Beth: Hey Dave, maybe you can help me out, too. I was wondering if you could go to your doctor and get me fitted for a diaphragm.

The next day Bill returns to work. Mr. James is there and asks him how is he is feeling. Bill says no, “Good! I gotta go.”

Dave then apologizes to Bill saying he did not know the patch has side effects. Bill replies saying he did not know you were only supposed to wear one at a time.

D: How many were you wearing?
B: Fifteen? Sixteen? I sort of stuck them around my waist like a belt.

Bill says there were a few other lingering effects but that he will be fine. Dave offers to do anything he can, and insists when Bill demurs.

Bill: It smells like an ash tray when I pee. Do you think you can do anything about that?

We see Joe take a computer to Lisa’s desk. She again tries to get him to talk. He finally breaks and pulls her aside to talk.

Just because you see me at the movies with another man who is flamboyantly gay does not mean I’m gay, okay?

Lisa asks if Joe saw who she was with and he says “some dork in a stupid hat.”

We see Bill emerge from the back of the office. His hair is so wind blown that it is clear he has fallen off the wagon. Dave smiles and confesses that he had a double espresso that morning on his way to work.

As the episode ends, we see the on-air studio but we cannot see through the bullpen window because the inside of the studio is filled with smoke. This is the new designated smoking area. Dave asks Joe if he had come up with a solution for ventilating it yet and Joe says no.

Reaction:

This was another funny episode. [Side note: I am learning that blogging about a television comedy is difficult. How many ways are there to say something was/is funny without sounding pretentious? Here’s a list of words I never use in real life: mirthful, risible, waggish, capricious, droll, blithe, and/or jocular.]

The premise of episode (i.e. new restrictive non-smoking ordinances for the workplace) felt a little bit like a throwback. Seeing anyone smoke on TV feels like a throwback. But conceptually the comedy of this episode was not “dated.”

The sub-plot of Lisa and Dave having a secret relationship continued but was downplayed. To the extent it was an element of the story, it provided an opportunity for Lisa to be paranoid about Joe catching her and Dave together and for Joe to get some speaking lines when he finally gives in to being confronted. The twist that Joe was worried about what Lisa saw was predictable, however, the confrontation scene was still umm, risible, because Joe did not recognize Dave in his “stupid hat.”

Stephen Root’s “Mr. James” had a couple of whimsical moments, too. Giving Bill a cigarette – on the air – was droll. His friendly inquiry with Bill about whether he plans to sue the station was also amusing.

My biggest laughs from this waggish episode were 1) Dave and Bill’s withdrawals-driven screaming at Matthew, and 2) Bill informing Dave that he coughed up something that looked like escargot.

All in all, I continue to feel really good about re-watching this show. It holds up very well.

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