Sports Night/Ordnance Tactics

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Ordnance Tactics
Season 1, Episode 20
Airdate April 6, 1999
Production Number N-320
Written by teleplay
Aaron Sorkin
Paul Redford
Directed by Alex Graves
← 1x19
Eli's Coming
1x21 →
Ten Wickets
Sports NightSeason One

Ordnance Tactics is the twentieth episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Dan and Casey are spooked when a kook threatens to bomb CSC. The network threatens to appoint an interim manager, which worries Dana. Jeremy finds breaking up is really hard to do.

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 (credit only))

Guest Starring: Kayla Blake (Kim), Greg Baker (Elliott), Teri Polo (Rebecca), Brenda Strong (Sally), Robert Mailhouse (J.J.), Jeff Mooring (Dave), Ron Ostrow (Will), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris)

Co-Starring: Suzanne Kellogg (Alyson), David Macer (Phil), Dennis Hadley (Stuart), Josephine Barnsdale (Celia)


Plot Overview

Where is everybody? Inside the Sports Night offices, phones ring, televisions flicker and the equipment is running, but no one's there. Suddenly, from behind the studio, the doors swings open and the staff comes pouring out. Natalie is in the lead, barking commands to get ready for tonight's broadcast in a hurry. Dana finds Dan and Casey standing motionless in the main office area. Dana tells them that the show goes live in fifteen minutes, but they're too stunned to move. We learn that everyone evacuated the building because of a bomb scare.

Dan and Casey are still nervous, wondering if the building really could have been thoroughly checked in the eighty or so minutes they were outside. Dana tells them that bomb-sniffing dogs were used, which doesn't calm them very much. After some more whining, Dana reminds them of the show's female viewers, which subdues their anxiety.

Apparently, nothing bad happened, because the next day Dana is in Isaac's office, speaking on the phone while rummaging his desk for some paperwork. J.J., the CSC executive, steps into the room and overhears Dana assuring the person on the other end of the phone that she talked to Isaac this morning. After she hangs up, she admits to J.J. that she really spoke to Isaac's wife. J.J. confronts Dana with the fact that she will need his cooperation to avoid having the network appoint an interim managing editor.

Dan and Casey catch up with J.J. and complain about the bomb scare, and he tells them that it was a hoax from someone who took offense to a CSC-owned radio show. Dan and Casey still take the threat personally. Jeremy interrupts a 3-way bickering session (Will, Chris and Dave) in the control room to take Natalie aside for a serious talk. He's decided, because of family and work troubles, to simplify his life by "temporarily!" breaking up with Natalie. She takes the news without emotion, then decides to totally disregard this idea. Jeremy repeats it more forcefully, but she breezes over him.

Dan visits Rebecca in her office. She's mad at him because while everyone was out on the street during the bomb scare, she tried to find him and he avoided her. He tries to deny it, but eventually admits that while she's still officially the wife of Steve Sisco, he won't allow himself to date her. Rebecca is frustrated, but at the same time touched by his chivalry.

Dana is meeting Sally in the conference room, handing off some of her executive producer duties. Natalie enters, and Dana gives her the news. She's thrown for a moment, but recovers nicely. The rundown meeting begins, and Jeremy tries to announce a breakup with Natalie, but she negates it with a shake of her head. After the meeting breaks, Jeremy pulls her aside. He tries to explain his reasons again, and this time she gives him a serious answer: she believes his decision-making skills are hampered, so she's not accepting any breakup.

Sally finds Casey in his office. He asks her if she "muscled Natalie to the side" to get more authority on the show. She's a little hurt by the question. Casey tells her that Dan knows about their relationship. Dan gives Sally a passing hello as he enters, and she flies off the handle at him until he can calm her down. Casey suggests that they give Dana and Natalie the same "talking to" he gave Sally, on the assumption that both women are too calm and need to defuse some tension.

Natalie finds Dana in Isaac's office again, searching for important papers. Dana apologizes that Sally was picked over her, explaining that it was a directive handed down by J.J. Natalie claims it's "no problem", which Casey and Dan take as their cue to enter. They reel off the laundry list of recent problems -- the bomb scare, Steve Sisco, Jeremy's turmoil, J.J.'s power grab and Isaac's stroke -- with mocking good cheer. Natalie and Dana answer that as women in charge, they're keeping it together. Casey admits that "the men" are petrified, and if the women ever feel scared, sad or mad, they offer to make them feel better. Dana's still mad at Casey, but the women appreciate the offer.

As they walk to the studio, Dana reaffirms her place as the show's executive producer, and Natalie as her right hand. In the control room right before the show, Natalie embarrasses Jeremy when she reaffirms to everyone that she is still his girlfriend. Casey and Dan bond over the shared danger in which they imagine themselves, and Casey admits that if anything bad were to happen to them... he'd rather it happen to Dan instead.


Arc Advancement


  • Isaac survived his stroke, and is still hospitalized.
  • Following Isaac's stroke, Dana must take over some of his work, and she's ordered by J.J. to pass on some of her work to Sally.


  • Dan informs Rebecca that he will not date her while she is Steve Sisco's wife.
  • Jeremy tries (and fails) to temporarily break up with Natalie.


  • Casey mentions Dana's fear of fish, which we learned of in 1x15.
  • Jeremy has been affected by his family troubles since 1x18.
  • Dan discovered Casey and Sally's relationship in 1x16.


The Show

  • For unknown reasons, Casey took a football with him when he evacuated the building.

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • Natalie: [Pluto] was gonna receive minor planet status. But apparently there was an outpouring of protest.

In February of 1999, the Minor Planet Center, which is part of the International Astronomical Union, accidentally kicked off a furor when it suggested in an editorial that Pluto be given an honorary designation as the 10000th "minor planet" known to astronomers. When the mainstream media picked up the news, the protests caused the IAU to issue a press release denying that they planned to change Pluto's status.

Memorable Moments

  • The empty offices of CSC.
  • Dana gives Dan and Casey a reason to stay.
  • Chris, Will and Dave resume their usual bickering.
  • Natalie, with her usual chipper attitude, refuses to accept Jeremy's breakup.
  • Sally comes unglued.
  • Will tries to watch Natalie "do a little dance."


  • Casey: There was a bomb scare!
    Dana: Yes.
    Dan: There was!
    Dana: It's over now.
    Casey: Well it worked.
    Dana: What do you--
    Casey: We're scared!
  • (Dan and Casey are not impressed with the use of bomb-sniffing dogs.)
    Dan: We want to meet them.
    Dana: Guys--
    Dan: We want to meet the dogs right now.
    Dana: Okay. And what will you say to the dogs when you meet them?
    Dan: (to Casey) She's got a decent point.
  • Dana: These two are the biggest babies.
    Casey: Hey, you're afraid of fish, okay? I'm afraid of dying in a hail of shrapnel, who's crazier?
    Natalie: There's a contest.
  • Casey: Do you know what a bomb looks like?
    Jeremy: Actually I don't.
    Casey: Does anybody? Chris?
    Chris: No.
    Casey: Will?
    Will: No.
    Casey: Dave?
    Dave: No.
    Casey: But we're bettin' a German Shepherd can pick one out!
  • Casey: Is there anyone who can say anything that will make us feel like the smart thing to do is to stay in this building right now?
    Dana: In ten minutes, three and a half million people will tune in to watch the two of you on television. Many of them will be women.
    Casey: All right.
    Dan: OK.
  • Dan: So we're two likable guys.
    Casey: I think so.
    Dan: I think we're very likable.
    Casey: I'm liked wherever I go.
    Dan: I'm liked wherever I go and wherever you go.
  • Natalie: (watching a tape in the control room) Does this include Seattle?
    Chris: Yes.
    Will: No.
    Chris: It does.
    Will: It doesn't.
    Natalie: The film from last night.
    Chris: Yes.
    Natalie: Seattle.
    Chris: Yes.
    Natalie: It does?
    Chris: It does.
    Will: It doesn't.
    Natalie: Dave?
    Dave: (to Will and Chris) Hey. Betty, Wilma, is Seattle on the tape?
  • Jeremy: We need to stop seeing each other.
    Natalie: No.
    Jeremy: Wait! (points his finger) I break up with you.
    Natalie: Mmmm, not this time. No. I gotta go back to work.
    Jeremy: Natalie, this is unilateral! I don't need you to sign off on this in order for it to be valid!
    Natalie: Sweetie, if it makes you feel better to break up with me, that's fine. But I don't break up with you.
    Jeremy: It doesn't work like that!
    Natalie: It's working like that right now.
  • Rebecca: Why were you avoiding me during the bomb scare?
    Dan: I wasn't avoiding you.
    Rebecca: You were. We were out on the street for over an hour. It was a perfectly good bomb scare.
    Dan: I tried to find you.
    Rebecca: No you didn't! And everytime I tried to find you, someone would say that you had just left the place that someone else had just said you had been right before.
    Dan: That was a truly spectacular sentence.
    Rebecca: Danny...
    Dan: It was a bomb scare, Rebecca, I was "serpentining." I was employing the covert ordnance tactics that I learned.
    Rebecca: Where did you learn covert ordnance tactics?
    Dan: (pause) 'Nam.
  • Casey: Hang on. I've been handed some information I requested on, basically, what to do in the event you think the building you're in might blow up at any moment. For instance, it says you should stay away from unsecured walls or open electrical wiring. (looks at Dan) So... it's a good thing you and I don't work in front of a fake backdrop over which hangs like a million volts of electrical equipment.
  • Sally: What the hell does that mean?
    Dan: What the hell does what mean?
    Sally: "Hey Sally!"
    Dan: It meant, hey Sally.
    Sally: (pause) Okay, so did I just totally come unglued?
    Dan: Yeah. I like to see it in you. It's a tense time. Glue's not gonna work.
  • Dan: (to Casey) Well, if you've got some calm people and you want to make them upset, I say we're the guys to do it!
  • Dan: My girlfriend, whom I've grown quite fond of, is thinking about going back to her husband, but that's just 'cause he treats her bad.
    Casey: The only thing in Jeremy's life that makes him happy right now is Natalie, so he's decided this'd be a good time get rid of Natalie.
    Dan: The network's decided this is a good time to show Dana who's boss and unless you do something and lickety-split, his name is gonna be J.J.
  • Dan: We've found that giving into our fears has made us stronger.
    Casey: And not just a little pathetic.
    Dan: Right, mostly stronger.
  • Will: Loading F/X 5.
    Chris: F/X 5 is loaded.
    Will: No it's not.
    Chris: It's loaded.
    Will: 'Cause I just loaded it now.
    Dave: I will kill you both with my hands.
  • Natalie: I'd just like to confirm for everybody that I am Jeremy's girlfriend.
    Jeremy: Natalie...
    Natalie: I am his girlfriend and he's seen me naked many times.
    Jeremy: Natalie!
    Natalie: Sometimes I do a little dance. (shimmies in her seat)
    (Will turns around to look.)
    Jeremy: Eyes front, mister!
  • Casey: I just wanted to say that if anything terrible ever had to happen to one of us... I'd want it to be you.
    Dan: Thanks.