Saving Santa
Air date: December 13, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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Georgia is in a department store trying on jeans. She thinks the jeans are too baggy, but the saleslady (played by Vicki Lawrence) explains that they are supposed to be baggy because that's the style these days. She says that's how all the young people like them. "Probably so the boys can conceal their weapons and the girls can hide being pregnant," the saleslady says. Georgia tries to interrupt and tell her she just wants to find a pair of jeans but the saleslady goes on. "You're newly single, aren't you? I noticed the mark where your ring used to be. Newly single women want tight jeans. If you're going to get a man, you've got to sell your ass a little. Am I right?" Before Georgia can say anything, she hears a huge ruckus in another part of the store. She and everyone else turn to see what's going on. The department store's Santa (his real name is Steven) is screaming at another man (Larry) about how he's given them 17 years and he's not going to take this kind of treatment. The elves are all trying to hold the Santa back but they aren't successful. Santa knocks the man down and then tries to strangle him. Georgia jumps in to try and get Santa off the man, but the elves just start attacking her. She kickboxes all of them off and away from her. Steven/Santa tells the man that he won't get away with this. "Ever heard of John Cage?" Steven asks the man, "He's probably the best lawyer in this town." Georgia's eyes open wide when she hears John Cage's name being mentioned. Steven continues "I am the spirit of Christmas, you son of a bitch. I will make you pay."

Paramedics come to take the injured away and a police officer asks Larry if anyone is pressing charges. He says that he simply fired Santa Claus and that it is an internal dispute. Georgia tells him that she worked with John Cage until about a week ago. He wonders if he's really as good as Steven says and Georgia says she's afraid he is. "But I know how to beat him," she adds.

Billy goes to Georgia's office. He wants to know if she took this case to beat Cage/Fish & Associates or just to beat him. She reminds him that it's Newman's department store and she wasn't about to turn that down. "Typical for you to think it's all about you," she says, "Stupid, too, but I've heard that can happen when a person soaks his head in bleach for too long." He tells her he hopes she won't air their problems out in the courtroom. "This is about work," Georgia says, "There is nothing going on between you and me. Anything else?" He says no. "Then get out." "Fine," says Billy. "Fine," says Georgia.

Steven is at Cage/Fish & Associates. He says he was fired from his job as Santa Claus because he's too fat. Apparently, Newman's has decided to go with a thin Santa Claus. Later, as Ally and John walk through the office discussing the case, Elaine approaches and asks them if they've heard who Newman's has hired. They haven't, and she tells them its Georgia. "I love it when I get to tell," she adds. John walks away to work on the case and Ally sees a young girl walking up the stairs. She walks over to her and asks her if she is lost. "Are you?" asks the girl as she turns. Ally is shocked to see that the girl is actually herself at a younger age. "You have to help him," she tells Ally. "Ally," says Ling, standing before her on the stairs, right where the young Ally had been moments before. Ally snaps out of it. "I'm not going to kiss you," Ling says. "Good one," says Ally, but she is still pretty out of it and walks away. She walks into her office, closes the door, and is surprised again to find the young Ally sitting at her desk. "Nobody else can help him but you." the little girl says. Billy opens the door, surprising Ally. "What do you want?" she asks. "Shouldn't you be out bleaching your head or kissing some client?" Billy is upset at her attitude and says he didn't see her acting this way last year when he kissed another woman. "Because it was me!" she says. "I thought that our deceitful little affair MEANT something," she adds. She asks him why he kissed Robin Jones. "You didn't come down on Georgia when she was sucking tongue with your father," he says.

In court, Georgia says that the store had no contract with Steven to play Santa Claus. John says they had an oral contract. John adds that you can't terminate someone for obesity, especially when being stout is a function of the job for playing Santa Claus. Georgia says the new Newman's Santa is slim, to fit in more with health-conscious demographics. "Fat and jolly belongs at Wal-Mart," she says, adding, "At Newman's, sitting on Santa's lap should be its own reward." She presents Kristopher and Kristen Kringle to the court. The man and woman are both very slim and attractive. "Naughty or nice, judge," she says, "Come to Newman's and find out." The judge says the only issue to be decided is whether there was an oral contract and whether it was breached. He decides to conduct a hearing. "I'll hear from fat Santa after lunch," says the judge, "I mean, Mr. Mallory." As they pack up, Ally stops to talk to Georgia and asks her how she's doing. Georgia wants to know who's asking. Ally says Elaine. "Actually, she wants to tell people." Georgia starts to leave. "And me," Ally says, "I'm asking." Georgia says she's fine. "I just went on this new diet," she says. "I lost 170 pounds of dead weight." Georgia tells Ally she can have Billy. "I don't want him," she says, as Georgia leaves. "Yuck. Gross," she says to herself. She turns to find young Ally sitting in the courtroom, watching her. Young Ally gets up and walks away, turning back once to look at Ally as if very disappointed in her.

Back at the office, John learns that the owner of Newman's never specifically promised Steven that he could continue being Santa. Steven says it was just a given. John says that if it's a forever thing or for more than a year, the promise has to be written. Steven starts to cry, but only out of one eye. John explains to Ally that Steven has a tear duct problem in one eye. John asks Steven if the owner ever gave him any instructions to push certain toys or anything like that. Steven says he will have to think about it.

In the unisex, Ally tells John that they don't have anything to go with on this case. Billy exits a stall. "What about the threat of negative publicity?" he asks. He reminds them that Newman's throws the big Christmas parade and that firing Santa Claus right before Christmas isn't very sympathetic. "Well, some people don't really care how unsympathetic they come off," says Ally. Billy tells Ally he won't be judged by her. "Too late, the verdict is in," she says. "Pig." John finishes up and rushes out. Billy says that Georgia strayed first. "After you bleached your head," Ally says. "After you turned into a chauvinist. After you hired your little candy-striper assistant. Georgia had a right to sit on that barstool. Did it entitle her to kiss somebody? No. But you owed it to her to find out why she did it. You owed her some exploration of the 'why' Billy, and instead you kissed some gold-digging bombshell client." Billy says that is what Ally's upset about. Not that he betrayed Georgia, but that he demeaned their affair. They continue arguing until Ally walks away and pulls open the door. Nelle, Ling, Richard, John and Elaine almost fall into the unisex.

In court, Georgia asks Mr. Mallory whether he could have left his job at Newman's if another job had come along. John stands and tells the judge he would like to instruct his client to answer "no" to that question. He says Georgia is trying to establish that if Steven didn't feel a binding obligation to work at Newman's then they shouldn't feel a binding obligation towards him. The judge tells John that he's had enough of him. "Let me go on record that I'd be shocked and dismayed if you let your contempt for me punish Santa Claus," John says, before sitting back down. "Your honor," Georgia starts, "I have practiced law with this man and when he stunts like this…" John stands and says, "I won't be attacked simply because I'm short. The record will reflect she kicks midgets." Georgia interjects, "You've GOT to be kidding." The judge finally gets John to sit and Georgia continues. She asks Mr. Mallory if he has been offered any other jobs since his termination. He says yes. She asks if they were offers to play Santa Claus. He again says yes, but adds that Newman's Santa Claus is THE Santa Claus.

Back at the office, everyone tries to figure out what direction they should go next. Ling wonders if they should try ageism. Ally says it won't fly. Richard asks if he's gay – he says you can't fire homosexuals these days. "Or maybe he's part Indian," Richard continues, "Indians are in." John says Steven is a white, Anglo, heterosexual and the law doesn't care about him. Nelle says she remembers going to see Santa Claus at Newman's when she was young. She says she hated Christmas because her parents weren't together, so she'd go to Newman's and just sitting on Santa's lap made Christmas real. He asks Nelle if she would testify to that. She says okay.

Ally goes to the unisex and is about to wash her hands when she hears two children laughing. A little boy says that he'll probably be a fireman. A little girl says they don't make much money but the boy says he doesn't care because they get to help people. He adds that artists don't make much money, either. Ally walks over to a stall and opens the door. Out come young Ally and young Billy, holding hands. They run towards the door and fade away just as Billy comes in. He asks Ally what's wrong. She tells him that she's been having visions of herself at age ten and that the young Ally keeps telling her to save him. Ally says she thought she meant Santa Claus, but suddenly she realizes that's not who she means. "I think she wants me to save you," Ally says. Billy asks why he needs to be saved. Ally says she always figured she needed saving more. She asks Billy if he remembers how when they were young they talked a lot about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Billy says he doesn't remember. She reminds him that he was going to be either a doctor or a fireman because he wanted to be able to help at least one person every single day. Ally says she was going to be an artist and paint the world with beautiful colors – and they both became lawyers. Billy says maybe they both need saving. Ally says that at least she can remember.

Nelle gets on the stand and recounts her story of how the Newman's Santa made her feel at Christmas. Next on the stand is James Russell, the C.E.O. of Newman's. As John approaches the witness, his arm flies out and almost hits John. Mr. Russell explains that he has a nervous tick and that in extreme circumstances both arms do it. He takes a drink of the water that has been placed next to him. John asks him why they terminated Mr. Mallory. Mr. Russell says that for years, agencies have been telling them that the 18-49 year olds are the shoppers who spend the money. Newman's has been making all sorts of changes to appease to those demographics. John continues to ask Mr. Russell questions, and as he gets more and more nervous, he fights harder and harder to control his arms from flailing out towards John. At times, he is unable to stop them. Just as the judge asks Mr. Russell if he's okay, he takes another drink of his water and before he can put it back down, it ends up all over the judge.

Billy remembers back to some of the times he and Ally spent together when they were younger. Richard comes into his office. Billy asks him if he ever remembers his dreams. "The wet ones. I try to," Richard says. Billy says he's serious. "Do you ever sit back and take stock of what you planned for yourself in high school and then measure it against what you are? Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?" Richard says that by not asking that question of himself now , twenty years since he won't be disappointed. He tells Billy that there is one question he should ask himself. "Why did you kiss that woman? Really."

John gives his closing in a courtroom full of children. He talks about giving up on tradition. He says that we might as well go after Rudolph and Frosty now because Newman's doesn't care if children believe in Santa anyway. Many of the children start to cry and Mr. Russell continues to flap his arms. Georgia tries to object. John tells her to "go kick on elf!" She objects again. The judge orders the children to be removed from the courtroom. "Mr. Russell, stop the flapping," he adds.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Mallory wonders if John should have gone that far. Georgia comes out and yells at John, telling him that what he did was despicable. She starts to leave and Ally gets in her way. "Get out of my way," Georgia says, "I don't have to put up with you anymore." She stops and apologizes. Ally asks to talk to her in private. Georgia goes, reluctantly.

They go into another room in the courthouse and Ally says that Georgia is clearly not fine. She asks Georgia if she blames her for Billy kissing Robin. Ally says she knows she certainly didn't help things between Georgia and Billy. "You want to get us back together?" Georgia asks, "I've got to let your guilt have a life now, too?" Ally says that wasn't fair. Georgia tells her not to worry about her, that she's fine. Georgia leaves. "Fine," Ally says to an empty room.

At the bar, Billy dances with Elaine, Nelle, Ling and Sandy. Ally watches, then gets up and starts to dance with the group. Billy turns and sees her. "Did you come here to dance or to save me?" he asks. She says she just came to have some fun. "It's not too late," she tells him, hoping he will take her seriously. He doesn't. "Nope, the night is young." he says. Giving up for now, she turns to leave the dance floor, only to find the young Billy and young Ally dancing together.

In court the next day, Georgia gives her closing. She says that the plaintiffs did not introduce any evidence of a binding contract. She adds that it isn't Newman's responsibility to preserve the myth of Santa. "Maybe if we could cure this addiction to the dream at an earlier stage, people…maybe it could spare them pain down the road." Georgia starts talking about sugarplums and family holidays and Christmas stockings. The judge tells her she's getting off track. "We all get off track," she says. "At the end of the day, life is just this big wall of reality that we all crash into. Maybe kids should get a dose of it when they're young. Maybe it would give them thicker skin. My client isn't killing Santa Claus, your honor. He doesn't exist." By now, Georgia is almost in tears. Ally stands and asks if they can talk a break. The judge asks Georgia if she is finished. Ally answers for her and says she's finished. She again takes Georgia into that room. She tells her that she's probably sick of her butting into her life, but she's going to do it one more time. Georgia starts to say something, and Ally interrupts. "YOU ARE GOING TO LISTEN TO WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!" she screams. Georgia is shocked. Ally says Georgia kissed Ally's father because she was angry at Billy and Billy kissed Robin Jones because he was angry at Georgia. She says that two people couldn't be that angry if they didn't love each other. Georgia starts to leave. Ally yells at her that she isn't finished. Georgia yells back and tells her to "STOP SCREAMING!" They continue yelling (Ally wants her to let her finish and Georgia wants Ally to stop screaming) until they realize that they can't out-yell each other. Ally continues. She says Billy grew up in a home where his dad was king and his mother was queen in the kitchen. She says Billy was the quarterback in high school and all the cheerleaders (including her) stood on the sidelines cheering him on. She asks Georgia not to tell anybody that she was a cheerleader. She says the point she wants to make is Billy was raised in a patriarchal world and he wanted to grow up and be like his dad. "He works in a firm where the women are stronger than the men, his wife makes as much money, he's not even the provider. He's got no castle," Ally says. She thinks that Georgia and Billy really need to sit down and talk about it. "It hasn't gone too far, yet," she says. "But, for God's sake, get in a room and talk it out. You love each other way, way too much to just give up.

Ally sits with Billy in his office. She has told him about her talk with Georgia. "You think this is about me needing to believe in the forever of marriage again, it isn't that," Ally says. "You'll be happy to hear I don't believe in happily ever after anymore, at least I don't think it's the norm, and if it does come along it takes hard work. You two haven't worked. One thing you can't deny. I know you and I know you love her." Billy asks if Georgia wants to try and work it out. Ally starts to answer then notices Georgia is standing in the doorway. Ally gets up and leaves. Georgia asks if Billy was trying to hurt her when he kissed Robin. "Maybe," he answers. He asks if kissing Ally's father was about him. Georgia answers, "Maybe." She asks him if he hates his life. Again, he answers "Maybe." Georgia says, "I'm almost afraid to ask, but, tell me what you want." He holds up her wedding ring and says he wants her to put it back on.

Outside the office, Ally waits to see what is happening. Billy's phone rings and Sandy answers it. Ally tries to tell her he isn't taking any calls and Sandy says it is Robin Jones. Ally takes the phone from her and tells Robin that Billy has been relocated into a witness protection program because of a recent racketeering trial. She says several innocent people have been killed already just by having contact with him. Robin hangs up. The door opens behind her and Georgia walks out and leaves the office. Ally comes into Billy's office and asks what happened. He says Georgia says she can't bring herself to take him back. Billy mentions Ally's visions. He says the little girl had no reason to save her because she became exactly what she planned, "someone who is out there painting the world beautiful colors – or at least trying to," he says. Her beeper goes off and she leaves to get the verdict.

The judge rules that there is no enforceable contract and the plaintiff's motion for a restraining order is denied. He also orders the petitioner to pay the defendant's court fees. "I object to that, your Grinch," John says. The judge says he can object all he wants but this case was a waste of his time. "I suppose you're behind now on your shopping," John says. The judge fines him $1,000. "I'd like to personally roast your chestnuts on an open fire," John continues. The judge fines him $2,000 and asks if he has anything else to add. Ally stands and says, "He's done now, your Grinch….honor." Mr. Russell comes up to John and Steven. He says that it was very important that they win this case so that he would appreciate this is a gesture and not a function of a court order, but they would like to welcome him back as their Santa Claus. Mr. Russell says they may not have persuaded the judge but they did turn him. Steven cries out of one eye.

Steven, the elves and Mr. Russell join the guys from Cage/Fish & Associates at the bar to celebrate.

Renee asks Georgia if she wants to join their client and the others at the bar. Georgia says she's tired. Renee says that Ally told her Billy isn't there. Georgia says she really just wants to go home. Left alone in her new office, Georgia sits and stares out at the snow.

On a lonely sidewalk, Billy and his younger self walk together for a moment, then the young Billy fades away.


Like Ally, I thought the young Ally was telling her to help Santa, but I was very surprised that she didn't figure it out when I did – when the young Ally walked out of the courtroom, obviously disappointed in the "now" Ally.

When Ally told Billy that when she was younger she wanted to grow up to be an artist and paint the world in beautiful colors, I thought to myself, "That's exactly what she's doing." I was very glad that Billy acknowledged that, too.

The scenes with the tear duct – I guess I missed something because I just didn't get it.

The store owner with the flailing hands – also something I didn't get. Okay, it was funny when his water ended up on the judge, but that was about it. Granted, it was kind of neat seeing the same man who played a man with Tourette Syndrome on LA Law playing this character on "Ally McBeal" but I just didn't understand the point of having to make him have that problem. (For those not familiar with David E. Kelley and/or LA Law, Kelley started his television career with that show.)

I wonder if Vicki Lawrence's role was originally supposed to be that short or if some of it was cut? I would have loved to have seen her character on screen again.

Where are Billy and Georgia living right now? Are they in the same house but in separate rooms? Did one of them move out and if so, which one? I hope that is addressed at some point.

Ally's revelation that she no longer believes that 'happily ever after' can happen for everyone and that if it does come along, it takes hard work – I wonder if this could be a sign of things to come? I heard on "Entertainment Tonight" that Ally is supposed to get a serious boyfriend later this season, so maybe this revelation is a way to tell us that she really is ready.

I thought this was a very cute episode with lots of laughs (I loved Ally and Georgia screaming at each other!) and a bit of sadness (Georgia's closing really touched my heart).

Most appropriate line:

Richard, to Billy: "Obviously, you're going through something and you're no doubt upset with yourself for being a total schmuck. But what you need to keep in mind - before this you were boring. Whatever phase you're going through - embrace it, because at least it's interesting. Sure, you look a little silly as this 'Billy Idol horn dogger,' but what's important, people are talking about you."

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.