Sports Night/Eli's Coming

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Eli's Coming
Season 1, Episode 19
Airdate March 30, 1999
Production Number N-319
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Robert Berlinger
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Sports NightSeason One

Eli's Coming is the nineteenth episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Dan senses an ill omen when he has to deal with Bobbi Bernstein and Rebecca's ex-husband on the same day. The tension between Dana and Casey climbs higher, and Isaac is MIA.

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), Jeff Mooring (Dave), Ron Ostrow (Will), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris) and Lisa Edelstein (Bobbi Bernstein)

Co-Starring: Suzanne Kellogg (Alyson)


Plot Overview

Tomorrow is a special Saturday afternoon edition of Sports Night, where the show will cover the NCAA's "March Madness." Dan is startled to hear that Bobbi Bernstein will be joining them in the studio. Dana's planning a little party celebrate Isaac's return to New York after a vacation, and Casey gives his (unasked-for) opinion on cake-buying, which gets Dana defensive.

Dan tries to get Dana to choose someone other than Bobbi for tomorrow. He explains again how Bobbi is convinced that she had a one-night stand with Dan in Spain, which Dan completely denies. He and Rebecca are in "a delicate period" of their relationship, and he doesn't want Bobbi to spoil it. Dana laughs him off with disbelief.

The next day, the crew gets ready for their extended coverage. Dan interrupts Casey from "pumping up the troops" to tell him that Rebecca's ex Steve Sisco was down in her office, but Dan swears he's fine with it. Casey's more concerned about the eight hours of airtime he faces this evening.

In Isaac's office, Dana supervises as Jeremy and Natalie hand a "Welcome Back" banner. She's also griping about how hyper-judgmental Casey has become with her. Dan enters with Casey just to announce that Steve Sisco's in Rebecca's office, and he's fine. Dana asks for Casey's opinion on the banner, and though he seems OK with it, she blows his words out of proportion and take offense again.

Two minutes before showtime, Isaac hasn't arrived, even though he promised to be there for the start of the broadcast. With the absence of both Isaac and Rebecca, Dan's getting a bad feeling, which he shares with Casey by mentioning a Three Dog Night song. Bobbi Bernstein arrives, increasing Dan's nervousness.

Later on during the broadcast, Dan is walking on eggshells around Bobbi. Isaac still hasn't turned up, four hours after his plane landed. Jeremy tries to find a simple explanation, but Dana and Natalie are worried. Distracted by thoughts of Rebecca, Dan makes an on-air slip. During commercials, Dan tries to talk to Bobbi and convince her that they've never slept together, but she's not hearing it. Dan maintains that he's never even been to Spain, until Bobbi produces a old photograph of him, wearing a towel which reads "Hotel de España." It takes him a moment to realize that the woman in the photo is Bobbi.

Dan returns to the anchor desk stammering. Rebecca is there, and she wants a word with him so they go into the edit room. Dan pretends to be OK with the presence of Steve Sisco in her office, but a quick kiss from Rebecca prompts him to admit it was weird. He asks why he was there, and Rebecca reveals that she and Steve aren't divorced, they're separated.

Dan is shocked, and Rebecca tries to apologize. Dan asks why Steve was there, and she tells him that Steve asked her to couples therapy. In the control room, Dana is on the verge of calling the police to search for Isaac when Casey ambles in. He tries to make small talk, but Dana gives back sharp answers. The two of them go into the conference room. Dana demands Casey to "let [her] off the hook," but Casey can't forgive that she chose Gordon over the show (and him). They both walk out angry.

Dan finds Rebecca in his office. He promises that he will support her if she decides to work on repairing her marriage. Near tears, Rebecca tells him that she hasn't made any decision yet. Returning to the anchor's desk, Dan offers Bobbi a heartfelt apology for not calling and for acting like a jerk, which she accepts.

Outside the studio, Dana is fuming to Natalie about Casey's judgment, when Casey exits the control room. Dana is expecting more scolding, but Casey's expression is slack and stunned. He's just learned that Isaac has been taken to the hospital following a stroke at the airport. Casey then goes back inside to break the news to Dan, who only barely manages to maintain composure.


Arc Advancement


  • Isaac has a stroke after returning from his vacation.
  • Dan learns that Rebecca and Steve Sisco are separated, not divorced, and that Steve is hoping for reconcilliation.


  • Dan learns that he really did sleep with Bobbi Bernstein in Spain, and apologizes for treating her badly.


  • Casey shows off his French by calling the NCAA tournament's third round the "ronde de seize" (literally "circle of sixteen"). He bragged about his facility with languages last episode.
  • Dan contended with Bobbi Bernstein in 1x13.
  • Dana fretted over Casey's opinion of her hair back in 1x07.
  • Dan's distraction over Rebecca leads him to an on-air flub, just as it did in 1x15.


The Show

  • The song playing at fade-out is, of course, "Eli's Coming" by Three Dog Night.
  • When Dan is explaining to Casey his interpretation of "Eli's Coming," an organ chord similar to the song can be heard under the normal Sports Night music.

Behind the Scenes

  • In the original script, which was shortened for time, we learn how Dan could have met Bobbi in Spain without realizing. During his college years, Dan vacationed in Biarritz, a French coastal city only 18 kilometers from the French-Spanish border. They crossed over the border to San Sebastian, where Dan slept with Bobbi (nee Roberta). Dan didn't remember any of it because he was drunk.

Allusions and References

  • Casey: Lions and Tigers and Bearcats, oh my!
    Casey is using names of college basketball teams to mimic "The Wizard of Oz".
  • Jeremy: (re: Isaac) Saturday night, coming in from JFK. If he took the Triborough, four hours wouldn't be a record.
    JFK International Airport is located in Brooklyn. Jeremy is suggesting that Isaac is caught in traffic using the Triborough Bridge to get into Manhattan.

Memorable Moments

  • Dan senses a strangeness about the day.
  • Bobbi shows Dan the picture. "I turned into quite the babe, didn't I?"
  • Rebecca kisses the truth out of Dan, who loses his cool.
  • Rebecca nearly cries as Dan offers his support.
  • Dan apologizes to Bobbi.
  • Dan learns about Isaac's stroke right before air.


  • (Dana interrupts Dan before he can start talking.)
    Dana: (re: Casey) Is there anything he won't make a speech about? Is there anything he won't sit in judgement on? I mean I am sorry to end two sentences in a row with a preposition like that, but no kidding, Danny--
    Dan: Dana.
    Dana: Yeah?
    Dan: Hi.
  • Dan: Bobbi Bernstein is convinced that a long time ago, in a hotel room in Spain, she and I slept together and that I never called her again. Now, three things are important: I never met Bobbi Bernstein until she started doing field work for the show. I've never slept with Bobbi Bernstein. And I've never been to Spain. Thank you for believing me.
    Dana: Danny.
    Dan: What?
    Dana: You never called her?
  • Casey: There are days... Days that separate the men from the Men.
    Kim: The men from the men?
    Casey: That's right.
    Elliott: What does--
    Casey: The second "men" was with a capital "M".
  • (Dana defends her "Welcome Back" sign.)
    Dana: You're damn right there's an economy of language. I got the job done in two words. And I think... I can make another cut! Yes. We don't need "back"! We can cut the "back".
    Jeremy: Cut the "back"?
    Dana: Yes.
    Jeremy: And have it just say "Welcome"?
    Dana: Yes.
    Casey: "Welcome"?
    Dana: (to Casey) Do you have a problem with that?
    Jeremy: He'll think he just cleared Customs.
  • (Isaac has not arrived at the studio from the airport.)
    Jeremy: Maybe he stopped off.
    Dana: Where?
    Jeremy: For a pretzel.
    Dana: I'm serious, he was supposed to--
    Jeremy: The man's been in Europe for two weeks, he hasn't had a decent pretzel, maybe he stopped off and that was the cause for the delay.
    Dana: And how long does it take to buy a pretzel?
    Jeremy: Well, you've punctured a hole in my theory.
    Natalie: Also Bobbi isn't here yet.
    Jeremy: She called from the car.
    Dana: And?
    Jeremy: Stopped off for a pretzel.
  • Dan: Eli's coming.
    Casey: Eli?
    Dan: From the Three Dog Night song.
    Casey: Yes.
    Dan: Eli's something bad. A darkness.
    Casey: "Eli's coming, hide your heart girl." Eli's an inveterate womanizer. I think you're getting the song wrong.
    Dan: I know I'm getting the song wrong, but when I first heard it, that's what I thought it meant. Things stick with you that way.
  • (Rebecca has just revealed that she and Steve Sisco are separated.)
    Dan: What're you nuts? Huh? Are you just some nutty, nut-girl who's nuts? There's a difference between divorced and separated. One is divorced and the other is separated. That's why they have those names. I never imagined that in a building populated by me, you, Dana, Casey, Jeremy and Natalie, Bobbi Bernstein would turn out to be the sanest person here!
  • (Isaac is late from the airport)
    Dana: What's the rule on when do you call the police?
    Jeremy: Well, in my house it was 15 minutes after school let out.
  • Dan: (to Rebecca re: Steve Sisco) He's such a bad guy, Rebecca. I'm sorry if that hurts you, but I know these things. I'm not that good myself.