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Sports Night/Dana and the Deep Blue Sea

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Dana and the Deep Blue Sea
Season 1, Episode 15
Airdate February 9, 1999
Production Number N-316
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
← 1x14
1x16 →
Sports NightSeason One

Dana and the Deep Blue Sea is the fifteenth episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Dana panicks about a snorkeling trip with Gordon because of a fear of fish and a deeper fear of loneliness. Natalie lights a fire under Casey, and Dan resorts to desperate measures to get Rebecca to go out with him.

Starring: Josh Charles (Dan Rydell), Peter Krause (Casey McCall), Felicity Huffman (Dana Whitaker), Joshua Malina (Jeremy Goodwin), Sabrina Lloyd (Natalie Hurley) and Robert Guillaume (Isaac Jaffe),

Guest Starring: Kayla Blake (Kim), Greg Baker (Elliott), Teri Polo (Rebecca), Jeff Mooring (Dave), Ron Ostrow (Will), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris)

Co-Starring: Josephine Barnsdale (Woman)


Plot Overview

During a short segment break, Dan tries to convince Casey to visit Rebecca in her office and "recommend" him. Casey refuses, and implies that Dan's fixation on Rebecca is distracting him from his work. Dan denies this, but then commits a hideous blunder during his next talk break, which earns him considerable ribbing from everyone in the control room.

The next day, Dana is bursting with news for Casey: Gordon has invited her to accompany three other couples on a weekend snorkeling trip. Casey is agreeable and supportive, if a little reserved, about the news. Next, Dana brings the news to Natalie with enthusiasm, but once they are alone, she confesses that something stands in the way of this trip: her fear of fish. Natalie has no useful suggestion, except to once again accuse her boss of being secretly in love with Casey, then run away.

Meanwhile, Dan is complaining to Casey that Rebecca can't see him at his best unless she sees him on the show. Casey suggests that after Rebecca has turned him down seventeen times, her non-interest may be completely genuine and unshakeable. So Dan turns to Jeremy, who explains that he wants to set a good example for Natalie by not becoming involved in his co-worker's love lives. But Dan reminds Jeremy of the advice he gave to court Natalie, so Jeremy reluctantly agrees to take a list of Dan's good qualities (which Dan himself wrote) to Rebecca's office on some excuse.

Dana is in Isaac's office, complaining about the mystery and savagery of fish. Isaac sees a deeper turmoil, and asks Dana if her relationship with Gordon is healthy. In her answer, Dana reveals a deeper fear of reaching middle age alone.

Jeremy nervously enters Rebecca's office, on the pretense of being the "welcome wagon." Rebecca sees through this pretty easily, since she's been working for Continental Corp longer than Jeremy has. Realizing that he was sent by Dan, Rebecca explains that she was once married to a sportscaster, and finds them all to be "self-absorbed, narrow minded, immature people of limited intelligence and limitless ego." She hustles Jeremy out, but not before he tells her that Dan is better than the description she gave.

At the evening rundown meeting, Dana's tension boils over at the technical crew. When Gordon calls, she thinks it's good news, but he's apparently called to cancel the snorkeling trip. Dana pretends to be relieved when this obviously worries her more. Natalie escapes to Casey's office, where she accuses him of not pursuing Dana. Casey denies ever pursuing Dana, and claims that Dana's real fear is a fear of holding out for a better relationship. Natalie agrees, but adds her belief that Casey would be the better relationship.

As a compromise, Casey agrees to try to make Dana feel better, but "just as a friend." The idea makes him nervous, so Natalie gives him some encouragement. But when Casey finds Dana, she's feeling better because Gordon has asked her to go on a skiing weekend to make up for the cancelled snorkeling trip. Dana walks away with a smile while Casey stands dumbfounded.

Dan finds Rebecca outside her office, and he's apparently spoken to Jeremy, because he now recognizes her as the ex-wife of a notorious jerk of a sportscaster. Betting on his silver tongue, Dan posits to Rebecca that not all sportscasters are low-grade men like her ex, while complimenting her intelligence. He offers a romantic scenario of the two of them going out for dinner after work for conversation and humor. And just as he's saying goodbye to her and entering the elevator... she stops him.

Apparently, Rebecca has been watching the show, including Dan's "hideous cheese blunder." It flatters her that she was the cause of the distraction. She asks him out for dinner after the show, and he accepts. Dan returns to the studio all smiles and songs. Just before air, Dan extols the benefits of taking a risk, while Casey feels like a fool for taking Natalie's advice.



Arc Advancement


  • Dan convinces Rebecca to go out to dinner with him.
  • Gordon makes, then cancels, a snorkeling weekend with Dana, then asks her to a ski weekend instead.


  • While talking to Isaac about her fear of fish, Dana partially reveals her real fear of being lonely as she approaches middle age.
  • Dan and Casey both take a risk on being emotionally available to women, with different results.


  • Gordon took Dana on their first ski trip in 1x04.
  • Dan gave Jeremy help courting Natalie in 1x06.


The Show

  • Rebecca's office is on the 37th floor. Going from Dan's comment, the Sports Night studio is twelve stories up, on the 49th floor.

Behind the Scenes

  • ABC devised a clever way to promote this episode using Spin City, a more traditional sitcom which directly preceded Sports Night and scored higher in the ratings. At the end of the Spin City episode 3x16, Michael and his girlfriend snuggle together to watch Sports Night on CSC. Casey is doing a report on Wayne Gretzky's recent hat trick. When the girlfriend asks him what a "hat trick" is, he explains that it means someone has scored three times. She smiles and puts a hat on Michael. That is the end of the Spin City episode, and it segued without pause into this episode of Sports Night. (The DVD release of the complete Sports Night series omits the Spin City intro, and begins with Casey's final line of the Gretsky report.)

Allusions and References

  • Casey: Boy, will I be happy when someone gets me the film on Albert Belle!

Albert Belle was an outfielder in major-league baseball.

Memorable Moments

  • Dan's hideous cheese blunder, and Casey's double take.
  • Dan acts like Jeremy's mother.
  • Rebecca easily outwits Jeremy.
  • Natalie borrows a piece of paper from Casey.
  • Dan's final pitch to Rebecca, and the look on her face afterwards.


  • Dan: (re: Rebecca) You think I'm becoming obsessed with her?
    Casey: Yes.
    Dan: You do?
    Casey: Yes.
    Dan: You think it's 'cause she won't go out with me?
    Casey: Yeeees.
    Dan: You think it's getting distracting?
    Casey: (peeved) Yes.
    Dan: I'm not distracted.
  • (Dan goofs while talking about a runner.)
    Dan: (on-air) The sophomore sensation credits her agility and quick first step to her father, who used to take her to a neighborhood park all covered with cheese.
  • Jeremy: How 'bout a park all covered with trees?
    Natalie: He said cheese?
    Jeremy: Welcome to the show.
  • Dan: Dana, did I say "park all covered with cheese?"
    Dana: There's a consensus "yes."
    Dan: (to Casey) What're you lookin' at?
    Casey: I'm here for you, man.
  • Casey: Are we sure it's wrong? Are we sure the park isn't all covered with cheese?
    Dan: It's covered with trees and shut up!
  • Dan: Dana, Casey's being mean to me.
    Dana: Casey, be nice to Dan.
  • Casey: I think he's gonna have to explain that it's the park that's covered with cheese, and not the father.
  • (Gordon has invited Dana on a snorkeling trip with three other couples.)
    Dana: It sounds good, doesn't it?
    Casey: The snorkeling?
    Dana: That he asked me, just the two of us... the eight of us, off the island of La Toq.
    Casey: Sounds like a lot of people are going to be having sex with a lot of other people who aren't me.
  • Dana: I thought maybe you were going to say I shouldn't go, because I'm not really in love with Gordon--
    Natalie: --and secretly in love with Casey?
    Dana: Yeah.
    Natalie: No.
  • Dan: I will not be the subject of your mockery.
    Casey: Oh, I think you shall!
  • (Dan wants a favor from Jeremy.)
    Dan: Jeremy, you and I need a bond.
    Jeremy: We have a bond!
    Dan: Could be stronger.
    Jeremy: It's pretty strong.
    Dan: Look at me and Casey.
    Jeremy: Is he willing to do this?
    Casey: (calling from his office) No!
    Dan: Hey!
  • Dan: Is there nothing I wouldn't do for you? All the help I gave you with Natalie. Is there nothing I wouldn't do for you? And this is how I'm to be repaid? See, you're about to cave.
    Jeremy: No, I just can't believe how much you sounded like my mother just then.
  • Dana: We don't know what the hell's down there, it's down there. It's their home court. They know what they're doing down there, they can breathe down there, I need this ridiculous rubber tube and a pair of goggles.
    Isaac: Are you afraid they're gonna make fun of you?
    Dana: Isaac--
    Isaac: No really, I mean are you afraid the fish are gonna look at you and point and say "Look at that thing with the lungs?"
    Dana: No, I'm not afraid the fish are gonna make fun of me.
    Isaac: You eat fish, don't you?
    Dana: And don't you think they know that?
  • Dana: I'm thirty-three... and I'm very much afraid of fish.
  • Jeremy: I'm here to welcome you, actually. You're new here, and I came to say "Welcome!" Welcome to the building!
    Rebecca: I've been working here for three years.
    Jeremy: Yes, I misspoke. (points at self) I'm new here.
    Rebecca: And you came by to say welcome?
    Jeremy: Yes.
    Rebecca: Really?
    Jeremy: No.
  • Rebecca: Is everyone who works on your show deranged?
    Jeremy: I swear, everyone but me.
  • Dana: Gordon thinks I'm too invested in the show. I'm losing him, and I believe I can heal our relationship if I go snorkeling.
    Kim: The guys I'm with, it's usually good enough just to wear the outfit.
  • Natalie: Why aren't you pursuing Dana the way I told you to?
    Casey: Hey, Dana made it very clear in no uncertain terms that she wanted me to stop pursuing her. And that was back when I never was pursuing her which, I'm still not now.
  • Isaac: (entering) Casey--
    Natalie: Isaac! Don't you think, don't you know, that Dana isn't happy with Gordon and that Gordon is about to break up with Dana, and Dana only thinks she cares?
    Isaac: You know what, I'm gonna step out now and it'll be like I never came in.
  • Natalie: You should go to her.
    Casey: When?
    Natalie: Now.
    Casey: I should go to her now.
    Natalie: Yes.
    Casey: On a Thursday?
    Natalie: Yes.
    Casey: Go to her.
    Natalie: Right.
    Casey: What should I do once I get to her?
    Natalie: Be a man.
    Casey: Right. (starts to walk away, then turns) And I've got that wired, right?
    Natalie: (smiling) Yeah.
  • (Rebecca has a negative opinion of sportscasters because of her ex-husband.)
    Dan: Let me tell you something. First of all, I'm a sports anchor, not a sportscaster. Second of all, you married a jerk! I know about Steve Cisco, everybody knows about Steve Cisco. Sister, you married a loser, and the fact that you think that that man's low-grade brand of manhood is any way indicative of my profession is beneath your obvious intelligence and class. What guys like that do to women like you makes me absolutely crazy. (pause) I knew I recognized you! Will you look at this? You're working late, I have a show to do in ten minutes just twelve stories up. There's no earthly reason why you shouldn't be having dinner with me after the show. It'd be midnight, and we'd go to great place, and I'd ask you about your day, 'cause I genuinely do care about your day. And I'd be funny, and you'd have a good time. And when I took you home at like, 3 AM, and I tried to kiss you goodnight I think I'd have been successful. In fact, I know it. And I can't believe none of that's ever gonna happen 'cause once there was a time you married an idiot. (pause) I've gotta get back to my job which, rest assured, I do considerably better than Steve Cisco.
  • Rebecca: Were you, um, by any chance, thinking about me at that moment?
    Dan: What moment?
    Rebecca: The moment of the hideous cheese blunder.
    Dan: I wouldn't really call it a hideous--
    Rebecca: (laughing) Danny, you said "park all covered with cheese!"
    Dan: I know... That's the second time you've called me Danny.
    Rebecca: Do you like it?
    Dan: Yeah.
  • Dan: You know, sometimes it's worth it, takin' all the pies in the face, sometimes you come through it feeling good.
    Casey: Yes.
    Dan: And how was your day?
    Casey: Sometimes you just stand there, hip-deep in pie.