Sports Night/Small Town

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Small Town
Season 1, Episode 13
Airdate January 17, 1999
Production Number N-314
Written by Paul Redford
and Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
← 1x12
1x14 →
Sports NightSeason One

Small Town is the thirteenth episode of the first season of Sports Night.

When Dana and Casey both have the night off, they both disappoint their dates. Natalie is in charge of the control room for the first time. And Hell hath no fury like Dan's fill-in co-host...

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

Co-Starring: Amy Powell (Kelly Kirkpatrick), Lisa Welti (Redhead), Brett Barrett (Walter)


Plot Overview

After wrapping up another night's show, Casey is complaining that he doesn't want to take off from work tomorrow night. Dan sees through the pretense, knowing that Casey really doesn't want to go out on his double date with Dana and Gordon. At the same time, Dana is telling Isaac that she should stay in the office tomorrow while Casey takes off. Isaac doesn't let her, and he opines that the real reason she wants to stay in the office is so that Casey won't go out on a date with another woman, which she denies.

Before Isaac can leave his office, Casey is there. He's found a better excuse for backing out of the date: the deadline for major-league baseball trades is tomorrow at midnight. Since Natalie will be running the show for the first time tomorrow, Casey thinks he needs to be at work. Isaac isn't buying any of this, and leaves Casey and Dana alone in the hallway. Dana accuses Casey of wanting to skip the double date out of jealousy, which he denies, and out of a desire to embarrass her, to which he agrees.

The next day, Natalie's rundown meeting is going smoothly. There's been no talk of an eleventh hour trade, which pleases Natalie because she bet Jeremy five dollars. After the meeting, Dan approaches Natalie, all compliments and best wishes, before begging her to choose someone else to substitute for Casey that night. Apparently, Bobbi Bernstein has a grudge against Dan: she claims he seduced her into a one-night stand then never called her again, while Dan claims she's a "total nut bar." Nevertheless, Natalie's choice stands.

Later that night, Dana and Gordon share their table with Casey and Gordon's friend Leesa. (It's spelled with an S but pronounced like a Z, which annoys Casey.) The conversation is going awkwardly when Casey's cell phone rings. After Dana practically tears the phone away from him in her eagerness to talk to Natalie, Casey excuses himself to talk to Dan. Gordon asks Dana to let go of the show for an evening, but she rudely demands his cell instead.

While Dan complains about Bobbi's "crazy eyes," Dana complains about Natalie keeping her on hold. Natalie picks up just long enough to hang up on her, so Dana immediately goes to the bar to turn the restaurant's TV to CSC. Casey acts a little smoother, but can't hide his interest either.

Moments before air in the studio, Dan tries to convince Bobbi that he isn't the cad she thinks he is, but she doesn't believe him. After the teaser, Elliott has an unconfirmed tip that key baseball people might be making that eleventh-hour trade. Natalie sends Kim out to confirm the news from sources. Kim's source gives the names of two team managers holding a secret meeting.

At the restaurant, Dana's loosening up under the influence of vodka martinis. In the studio, Bobbi's crazy eyes are getting more agitated as Dan continues to deny ever sleeping with her. Things are getting are becoming hectic in the control room, with Elliott trying to get confirmation, Jeremy shouting and Isaac meddling with Natalie's show order. After decisively putting everyone in their place, Natalie decides to risk citing "unconfirmed reports" of the trade.

Casey has a shot at salvaging the evening with Leesa, but he blows it when he pays more attention to the trade announcement. Dana is apologizing to Gordon, and he is about to say something to her when Casey tells her about the trade. She dashes off, leaving Gordon dejected.

Natalie's risk pays off when someone from the team confirms the rumor, and Dan gets to break a CSC exclusive (after another round of shouting with Bobbi). Casey and Dana watch the show proudly at the restaurant's bar. Jeremy apologizes for losing his temper, and Natalie pays him the five dollar bet with the added bonus of a big kiss, then takes a victory walk around the control room.


Arc Advancement


  • Dana and Gordon are accompanied on a double date by Casey, and both ignore their dates to watch CSC at the restaurant bar.
  • Natalie runs the show for the first time.
  • Sports Night breaks exclusive news of a large baseball trade.


  • Isaac has apparently gotten on the Dana/Casey train, stating his belief that Dana has feelings for Casey.
  • Natalie surprises everyone, including Jeremy (and herself) with her show-running ability.
  • By the end of the evening, Gordon is clearly beginning to wonder whether he and Dana should stay together.


  • Once again, alcohol makes Dana playful, although this time there's no dancing on tables like in 1x07.


The Show

  • Dan is from Connecticut.
  • Natalie is from the titular "small town" in Ohio.

Behind the Scenes

  • A scene with a redhead who asks Casey for his autograph at the restaurant bar was filmed, but not used.

Allusions and References

  • Dan: The Ukrainian Jewel, Oksana Baiul?

Oksana Baiul is the 1994 Olympic Gold Medalist in Women's Figure Skating.

  • Casey: In Cuba, Ricky Ricardo would've been Ricardo Ricardo.

Ricky Ricardo was Lucy's husband in I Love Lucy, played by Cuban-born actor Desi Arnaz.

Memorable Moments

  • Dan fills for 15 seconds.
  • Casey makes some very awkward dinner conversation.
  • Lisa Edelstein's (Bobbi) delivery of the line "Let's not play these games", as well as her ability to turn the "crazy eyes" on and off.
  • Natalie shuts down Jeremy's shouting.
  • Jeremy's apology, and Natalie's victory walk.


  • Dan: (on-air) Our producer, Dana Whitaker, is telling me to fill for 15 seconds, but I honestly don't have anything to say.
    Dana: (over the headset) Dan.
    Dan: She's begging me now.
    Dana: (on the headset at the same time) Dan. Dan...
    Dan: Now she seems pretty mad. You'd all like her a lot if you met her.
    Dana: You're a funny boy, Daniel.
    Dan: And that was 15 seconds. Casey?
  • Casey: Look, can we be men for a second?
    Dan: Alright, but just a second.
  • Casey: It's a double-date, and it's a blind date, on top of which, let's not forget, it's a date, so there's about three different ways this thing is bad.
  • Dana: You think at a certain point during the evening you'll say something wonderful to me and I'll melt and that'll teach me for going out with Gordon instead of you.
    Casey: I'll settle for you spilling something on yourself.
  • Dan: (re: Bobbi Bernstein) She's convinced we slept together once and I never called her.
    Natalie: Did you?
    Dan: Did I sleep with her?
    Natalie: Did you call her?
    Dan: I didn't sleep with her.
    Natalie: Why does she think you did?
    Dan: It's hard to say, but it could have something to do with the fact that she's psychotic.
  • Dana: (at a restaurant, to the waiter) Actually I asked for an olive instead of a lemon twist. I hate to bother you, but I'll tell you why: I'm allergic to lemon twists. Not lemons themselves, just the peels. And not always. Just recently.
    Gordon: Honey?
    Dana: Yeah?
    Gordon: That's my drink.
  • Casey: So the name of this restaurant is Tony Anthony's. Anthony Anthony. In Cuba, Ricky Ricardo would've been Ricardo Ricardo. And Lucy would've been pronounced "Loozy".
    Dana: Hey you know what might be fun? If you didn't talk for like, a minute and a half.
    Casey: Well I definitely will if it means we can hear more about your citrus allergies.
    Dana: (to Gordon) Are you gonna let him talk to me like this?
    Gordon: It would've been Ricardo Ricardo.
  • Dan: (re: Bobbi) I don't know man, she's got the crazy eyes.
    Casey: You shoulda called her.
    Dan: I never slept with her.
    Casey: You should've slept with her and then called her.
  • Casey: Hey what do you know about the fennel salad here?
    Gordon: What do you need to know?
    Casey: Well... like, for instance... what's fennel?
  • Bobbi: You know, Dan, it was Spain. I was young and wide-eyed, and in Spain. And I don't mind so much that you took advantage of what was obviously a very vulnerable time in my life. And I don't mind that you danced with me and held me and whispered your lies in my ear... but to not call again--
    Dan: In my entire life, I have never been to Spain!
    Bobbi: LIES!
  • Natalie: We blew off 68 in the ten o'clock rundown, now please stay quiet.
    Isaac: May I ask why?
    Natalie: Not right now you can't. Right now you can either fire me or stay quiet.
  • Natalie: You want to leave the room?
    Jeremy: No!
    Natalie: Then allow for the possibility that from time to time, other people might be at least as smart as you are.