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Sports Night/Dear Louise

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Dear Louise
Season 1, Episode 7
Airdate November 10, 1998
Production Number N-307
Written by David Walpert
and Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
← 1x06
The Head Coach, Dinner and the Morning Mail
1x08 →
Sports NightSeason One

Dear Louise is the seventh episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Jeremy stays behind after the show to write a letter to his sister Louise. One of Isaac's old friends is hurt in a carjacking. Gordon and Casey cross verbal swords for the first time. Dan suffers an emergency case of writer's block, and Natalie's "shock treatment" leaves him wetter, but not wordier.

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), Ted McGinley (Gordon)

Co-Starring: Jeff Mooring (Dave), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris), Ron Ostrow (Will), Jolie Jackunas (Stacy)


Plot Overview

After another night's show is done, Dan invites Casey to El Perro Fumando, a bar that gives discounts on large margaritas. Casey's not interested until Dan mentions that Dana will be coming. Casey, knowing the probability that Dana will get drunk and act embarrassingly, can't pass up the chance to witness. They invite Jeremy to come too, but he elects to stay in the office writing a letter to his sister Louise. Since she is deaf, Jeremy and his sister have communicated by letter when they're apart.

In his letter, Jeremy mentions Dan's ongoing battle with writer's block, which has left his confidence shaken. He then talks about Isaac Jaffe's career before CSC. In his office, Isaac laments to Dana that his daughter is dating a new fellow: athletic, studious, civic-minded and a Republican. It's that last part which has Isaac considering building a dungeon for suitors.

Natalie interrupts the meeting to mention news from one of CSC's roving reporters: an elderly black man named Archibald Russell was carjacked and beaten in Kansas City, but Isaac doesn't recognize the name until later at a rundown meeting. Archibald "A.K." Russell was a pitcher for Kansas City whom Isaac knew in their younger days. Jeremy arrives slightly late to the meeting, and Dana assigns him to write a piece on Russell for the front of tonight's show. Jeremy initially questions the priority of the piece, not knowing how important it is to Isaac. Casey delivers the sad news for that evening's show but Elliott brings in the sadder news that Russell has died as a result of the injuries, and Isaac is shaken.

Jeremy then shifts his letter to Dana. She is abuzz with excitement that Gordon will be taking her to Gracie Mansion for a party with the mayor of New York City. Casey tries to ignore her, but she corners him in his office and accuses him of feeling inferior next to Gordon's post-grad degrees and his "obvious physical prowess." Casey consoles himself by mentioning Gordon's recent loss of a big organized crime case in Federal court. Dana doesn't want him discussing it.

Meanwhile, Natalie has a treatment for Dan's writer's block: surprise! She tosses water in his face without warning not once, but twice, causing the rest of the show staff to break out laughing. When Gordon visits the office the evening of the Gracie Mansion party, he and Casey trade jibes, but Casey clearly loses out. Before the show begins, Natalie enacts part two of her shock treatment plan with an airhorn and - surprise! - more water thrown in Dan's face.

Finally, Jeremy gives his sister more detail about Natalie. Since their dinner on the office floor in the last episode, he's resisted the urge to ask her out. He relates what happened to him an hour after most of the crew left for El Perro Fumando. Apparently Dana's drunken dancing got them thrown out, so they returned to blast music over the office monitors. Dan has conquered his writer's block by finding an attractive drunk girl to compliment his writing abilities. While everyone else dances, Natalie takes Jeremy aside to give him two gifts: stamps for his letter, and their first kiss.


Arc Advancement


  • Gordon loses an important case against a mobster.
  • Jeremy and Natalie have their first kiss.


  • It's possible that Dana has mentioned Casey's jealousy to Gordon, because while the two men were polite the first two times they met, they are practically at each other's throats now!



The Show

  • The song playing at fade-out is "Boogie Shoes" by KC & the Sunshine Band.
  • We learn that Jeremy's sister Louise is a sophomore at Amherst, and that she is deaf. She and Jeremy keep in touch by writing letters.
  • Gordon's last name is Gage.
  • Jeremy's letter to Louise tells us the following:
    • Three months have elapsed in show time since Jeremy started working at Sports Night.
    • "Isaac Jaffe is the managing editor of Sports Night. He's led a pretty remarkable life. He started out as a stringer for the Atlanta Journal, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Gemini missions, and retired as London bureau chief for CNN. But his passion has always been sports. Three years ago, when Luther Sachs bought Continental Corp and announced he was starting a cable sports division, Isaac came out of retirement."
    • "[Dana] got her love of sports from her father and six brothers, one of whom plays for the Denver Broncos. She got her education from a series of exclusive all-girls schools that her mother insisted she attend..."

Behind the Scenes

  • It seems that the actors came dangerously close to bursting out in laughter during some of the scenes in this (very funny, IMO) episode. After Gordon says "...happy to be having sex with Dana every night", Casey hangs his head and pauses in a way which suggests Peter Krause was having difficulty keeping a straight face. Also, Josh Charles (Dan) starts laughing after the third time Natalie throws water in his face, although this behavior may be in character.

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments

  • Jeremy is embarrassed when he questions the importance of the A.K. Russell story
  • Isaac sadly receives the news that Russell has died
  • Casey exults over Gordon's loss in the Sammy Galino case
  • Natalie's shock treatment - gets funnier every time she does it! - and her straight-faced insistence that it will cure writer's block
  • Peter Krause's reading of the line "I killed him. I killed him. I killed him dead."
  • Gordon spanks Casey about the office football pool
  • Natalie sweetly kisses Jeremy, then hands him stamps
  • Dan photocopying his drunk girl's butt, and Casey surreptitiously pocketing the paper!


  • Casey: (wrapping up a show) That's all for us. I'm Casey McCall alongside Dan Rydell, and if you've had half as much fun watching the show as we've had doing it, well, then we've had twice as much fun doing the show as you've had watching it.
  • Dan: Come out with me.
    Casey: Where?
    Dan: El Perro Fumando.
    Casey: The Smoking Dog.
    Dan: Yes.
    Casey: Why?
    Dan: If you wear something blue, you get two dollars off a giant blue margarita.
    Casey: You know, I make a pretty good living. I can actually afford to wear what I want and pay full price.
    Dan: I'm not promoting the economic upside as much as I am the opportunity to drink something giant and blue.
  • Casey: Hey, Jeremy, we're going to this place called El Perro Fumando, where, what, if you wear this thing, then something happens for two dollars less than it would've before.
  • Jeremy: El Perro Fumando?
    Dana: The Flaming Dog.
    Casey: The Smoking Dog.
    Dana: It's not the Flaming Dog?
    Casey: The dog's not gay!
    Dana: I wasn't suggesting the dog was gay, I was suggesting the dog was on fire.
    Casey: He's not smoking on fire, he's smoking a cigarette.
    Elliott: He's smoking a pipe.
    Kim: He's smoking a cigar.
    Dan: I say he's gay.
  • Casey: Kim said there was an emergency.
    Dan: It is an emergency.
    Casey: Is it your mom?
    Dan: What's wrong with my mom?
    Casey: I'm asking.
    Dan: It's not my mom.
    Casey: Well, what is it?
    Dan: (more agitated) Why did you say it was my mom?
    Casey: I didn't say it was your mom.
    Dan: Yeah, but you jumped to that right away, which makes me think there's something wrong with my mom, Casey. (near hysterical) What's wrong with my mom, man?
  • (Dana keeps asking for opinions on her hairstyle.)
    Dana: Casey! Gordon is taking me to Gracie Mansion tonight for a dinner with the mayor.
    Casey: Exactly what consequence will befall you if the mayor is displeased with your hair?
  • Casey: (re: Gordon) I don't feel inferior. And if I felt inferior, it wouldn't be because he's a lawyer.
    Dana: Would it be because of his obvious physical prowess?
    Casey: I really couldn't comment on his prowess.
    Dana: Though God knows I could.
  • (Gordon has lost an important court case.)
    Casey: Dana, I work in a bottom-line business. You win or you lose, and Deputy Gordon lost.
    Dana: Please don't call him "Deputy Gordon."
    Casey: (mock surprise) He hasn't made deputy?
  • (Natalie has thrown a glass of water in Dan's face.)
    Natalie: Leave this to me, I'm gonna knock the writer's block right outta ya.
    Dan: By throwing water in my face?
    Natalie: By surprising you with the unexpected. That was step one. There's not going to be any more water.
    Dan: What's step two? (Natalie throws water in Dan's face again. Everyone else laughs, Dan wipes his face.) I thought you said there wasn't going to be any more water.
    Natalie: It was surprising and unexpected.
    Dan: (nodding calmly) Yes, it was.
  • Gordon: You know, Casey... I won't deny this hasn't been my finest hour. But there's really nothing you can say that's gonna rattle me. I'm just happy to be here, happy to be talking to you, happy to be having sex with Dana every night.
    Casey: You know... it really wasn't my intention to discuss any Dana-related matters, no. I was just reading this New York Times piece on the forensic evidence, the ballistics match, the eyewitnesses and the 78 hours worth of wiretaps, a portion of which included the defendant saying: "I killed him. I killed him. I killed him dead." And was wondering what the heck a fella has to do to get thrown in jail on your watch?
    Gordon: Well, how 'bout I run you through an IRS audit and we find out?
    Casey: You got nothing on me, counselor. I live my life clean as my mother's kitchen floor.
    Gordon: (gestures) Is that your name up on a Monday Night Football office pool?
    Casey: Yeah.
    Gordon: Are you familiar with Federal Section Code 4 of the RICO Act?
    Casey: No.
    Gordon: Then before I decide to subpoena your whole family, why don't you go write your television show and leave the smarty-boy remarks to those of us with post-graduate degrees?
    Casey: (pause) OK.
  • Natalie: On page 66, halfway down, in the NFL injury report, it says: "Collins is expected to miss practice this week, the result of a bulging disk."
    Dan: Yeah?
    Natalie: There's a typo on the teleprompter, they left out the "s."
    Casey: (reading) "Collins is expected to be sidelined a week to ten days with a bulging di--" Uh oh!
    Dan: Ooh, that's a big ten-four.
    Casey: My next line in the script was "Let's go to the video tape."
    Natalie: We might have gotten some phone calls.
  • Jeremy: (writing in his letter) And in that moment, Dan was reminded once again why he wanted to write in the first place. It's for the same reason anybody does anything: to impress women.