Episode 1: Insider Report
DECEMBER 23, 1998 -- BY MERLIN
"Norm and the Prototype"
Went to the Norm show tonight. Here's a pretty thorough summary (contains spoilers).
I got to the studio at around 5:50 p.m. At 6:05, or so, we were shuttled off to the actual set of the show. We spent about 20 minutes waiting in line for security checks, etc. I took my seat around around 6:40 and for another 20 minutes, we had to suffer through some hired comedian/magician whose job was to keep the energy/mood in the audience.
The show began with a brief introduction of the four key characters: Norm (played by Norm Macdonald), Laurie (played by Laurie Metcalf), Daniel (played by Ian Gomez), and Mr. Curtis (can't remember name of actor). Later, I'll cover the premise, etc.
The first scene was a pre-taped outdoor segment. Norm walks down a street and encounters a dog that appears to have been stuffed (he doesn't move at all). He harasses the dog a bit telling it that it'll get run over if it doesn't move. When the dog doesn't listen, he picks the dog up (the dog isn't actually taxidermied, he just doesn't move) and brings it back to his apartment where we see the Laurie character. Norm mentions how he has found this new dog. Laurie (the sensible, straight person) looks at the dog's neck and finds that there is a tag bearing the location of the dog's owner (the location is the exact same place Norm found the dog). Norm quickly rushes back and returns the dog to the location only to find the owner yelling at him for taking the dog. When asked about where he found the dog Norm says: "Not here."
Now for the first actual taped scene in front of the studio audience. We are in the social workers office. Here's the premise (which is implied through dialogue). Norm was a mediocre professional hockey player who got kicked out of the league for obsessive gambling and tax evasion ("I was a great hockey player. I was only a bad hockey player compared to other professional hockey players.") We learn this when we see Norm counseling a troubled teenage shoplifter. The teen accuses Norm of being a hypocrite after he recognizes Norm as the hockey misfit. Norm promptly tells the kid to run off. At this point, we are introduced to the other colleagues in Norm's workplace. They include Laurie, who we met briefly before and a guy called Daniel. There's also the extremely anal-retentive boss called Mr. Curtis. Curtis goes up to Norm and makes a comment about how Norm's 6 months in community service have been totally incompetent (Norm has to serve 5 years as a social worker or go to jail.) Curtis cites Taylor Conrad (Nikki Cox of the WB ) as a prime example of Norm's low-quality work as a social worker. Taylor, a teenage girl, was originally one of Norm's social worker cases. Norm got Taylor a job at a pizza parlor. Sounds good, except for the fact that Taylor ran off and got a job at a massage parlor (a sophisticated word for whorehouse). Curtis tells Norm that if Norm doesn't do something about getting Taylor out, he'll be fired and forced to go to prison. Thus begins a plot. Norm and Laurie go to the massage parlor in an attempt to convince Taylor to quit her job as a whore.
We then see Taylor in the massage parlor. After humorous jokes about prostitutes, etc. Laurie and Norm try to persuade Taylor to quit her job but she refuses. The two of them leave, having failed at their attempt.
We next see Laurie and Norm along with their fellow colleague Daniel in a bar. Norm expresses interest in purchasing a dog. Soon, the dreaded Mr. Curtis (the boss) approaches Norm and re-iterates the fact that if Norm does not get Taylor to quit her job as a masseuse/whore, he will be sent back to prison after Curtis writes that Norm's tenure as a social worker was a failure.
The next day, we return to the social worker office. Offscreen (implied through dialogue), Norm has bribed Taylor into saying that she has gotten a new job as a fry cook and has quit the hooker biz (of course she hasn't). Nobody knows about Norm's ploy except for his friend/colleague Daniel. Taylor comes into the office and announces, in front of Mr. Curtis that she has gotten a new job as a fry cook. Curtis congratulates Norm for his work. Laurie expresses how proud she is of Norm. Little does she know Norm set this whole thing up.
In the next scene, we are at Norm's apartment. We see that Norm has purchased a new dog and has attached a floor mop to it. As the dog walks across the floor, the floor gets cleaned. Daniel enters the room and (unintentionally, being a verbal klutz), he gives away that Norm paid Taylor to say that she had gotten a legitimate job. Having realized that he gave away Norm's secret ploy -- Daniel makes a prompt exit. Laurie expresses severe disappointment in Norm but says that she won't rat him out.
Feeling guilty, the next day Norm goes back to the massage parlor and again confronts Taylor in a last-ditch attempt to get her to quit her job ("You're a huge whore!"). He issues her an ultimatum. Either she quits her job and goes back with him to a social program OR he will rat her out and tell the authorities that she is a sex worker. However, she fights back and tells Norm that if Norm were to rat her out, she will do the same (by filing a report stating that Norm bribed her). Norm says that if that's what it takes, that's what it takes ("Well then, I'll go to prison. But I expect you to teach me the art of pleasing men.") -- sly reference to anal prison gay sex.
The next day, it looks like everything's over for Norm. At the social worker office, he whines to Daniel about how he's got nothing to lose. He proceeds to make a prank phone call to Mr. Curtis' house saying: "Your wife's been cheating on you." But then he realizes that the speaker is not the wife, but the cute little daughter ("Oops, sorry honey. Can you put me through to your mommy?") Laurie comes in and Norm begins to apologize but then Laurie states she has good news. She has bribed $200 to the court clerk to intercept Taylor's report of Norm's bribery. She mentions that this is a one-time thing only. Suddenly, we see Mr. Curtis bust out of a room screaming: "There's trouble at home! Man the office!" (Responding to Norm's previous prank phone call.)
The final scene occurs at Norm's apartment. A stranger knocks on Norm's door and demands that Norm give up his dog. (The dog originally belonged to the stranger before he was left at the pound). Norm slams the door in the stranger's face and says: "We're social workers. We can even take children!"
Everyone appeared to have a good time. I think if the show is slotted well and has decent advertising, it'll be a big hit. The writing is smarter than "Drew Carey" (Norm co-wrote this first script along with executive producer Bruce Helford.) No cameras were allowed (bags were thoroughly searched) but if anybody has questions, don't hesitate to ask.