Synopsis of 'Tis the Season
Written by Josh
Ally and Larry and buying a Christmas tree. But while Ally is explaining the joys of the holiday spirit - - twinkly lights, comfy couches, eggnog - - Larry admits that he's always hated Christmas. When she asks why, he says it's because he's always alone. "Well, you're not going to be alone this Christmas," she informs him. He pauses, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Could you say that again, please?" he asks slowly. "You're not going to be alone this Christmas," she tells him quietly. Larry grins. "Let's go decorate the tree," he says jauntily.
At the offices the next day, Richard reviews the cases; specifically, Stevens vs. WKGB, a local news station. One of the newscasters, Kendall Stevens, was fired and is suing for wrongful discharge. John is on the case, with Ling as second-chair. When Richard asks why Stevens was fired, John says it was for excessive truth-telling: he announce on the morning news that there was no Santa Claus.
Larry visits Ally that morning - - just because he missed her - - and they kiss...until Elaine thumps Ally on the head, curtly reminding them that it's a work place and asking them to drip all over each other someplace else. Concerned, Ally follows her, asking her what's wrong. Elaine says she's sick of all the happy couples - - Ally and Larry, John and Kimmy, Richard and Ling - - and she's sick of being alone and she's sick of Christmas shows about love and joy. But just as she's about to explode in a mushroom cloud of bitterness and rage, Larry enters, telling her that when he feels alone (as he always does in December), music is his companion. He suggests that she find a song she likes, and they'll arrange for her to perform it at the bar somehow. She smiles, starting to cheer up at the possibility of performing, and leaves. Ally grins, pointing out how easily Larry seems to handle the Elaines and Kimmies of the world...and asking again why he can't handle Christmas. But he dodges the question, saying he told her already.
In court, they play the tape of Kendall Stevens telling the children that Santa Claus isn't real; that their parents tell them he is because they love them and want them to be filled with the spirit of Christmas; that they should enjoy it, as they would Peter Pan or Jack and the Beanstalk, as a good story...but not as a fact. John turns the television off, pointing out to Stevens that he shattered quite a few myths with his newscast. Stevens replies that any child old enough to watch the news probably already knows Santa isn't real, and if they don't, they should. John asks why, and Stevens tells him that otherwise, when they DO find out, it'll be from an older sibling or another child at school and the news won't be broken to them gently. He reminds the court of what a horribly traumatic experience it can be for a child to find out the wrong way, the feelings of hurt and betrayal they experience. He felt that this way, he could help them understand and accept the myth of Santa Claus in a way that wouldn't be damaging. The opposing counsel, Mr. Stone, asks Stevens if he told the producers beforehand about what he was planning to do, suggesting that he knowingly went against their wishes and said something on the air that he knew would have negative consequences for the station. "I knew it wouldn't be popular..." Stevens begins. "But what? It was NEWS?" Stone challenges. "It was the truth!" Stevens protests. "As much as you may disagree with my decision to broadcast it, a news man should never be fired for telling the truth!"
That evening, John and Kimmy compare stories of how they found out Santa wasn't real. John found out when he was a small child; Kimmy didn't find out until freshman year of college. When John points out how sheltered her life has been, she tells him she dated a rock star...or at least, met one after a show, spent an hour with him, and was asked to "touch his willy." Actually, she tells him, every guy she's ever dated has been a singer of some sort. She asks him if he sings, and he fidgets uncomfortably, saying he had a rock and roll band in high school. Squealing with delight, she says she knows what she wants for Christmas: she wants John to sing her a song at the bar. He starts to stammer and shake his head, his nose whistling furiously, as he says he doesn't perform anymore. "Oh, but you'd sing one song just for me...right?" she asks, doe-eyed and hopeful. He is trapped.
"You really do love Christmas, don't you?" Larry asks as he and Ally curl up on her couch, watching "Miracle on 34th Street." "Well, yes," she says. "Why don't you?" He starts to evade the question again, but she presses the issue, saying she'd really think twice about having children with a man who hates Christmas. He tells her he has a son, a seven-year-old boy. Ally sits up, shocked, and asks why he didn't tell her before. He says it's because he's ashamed...ashamed that his son has grown up without a father. He lives with his mother in Detroit. "But I thought your ex-wife lives here in Boston," Ally says. "She does," he replies. That's when Ally understands he had a son with another woman. "Merry Christmas," he says quietly.
John sits in Richard's office, lamenting the awful situation he's gotten himself into by lying to Kimmy and promising her he'd do a number for her at the bar. Richard suggests that honesty is he most important aspect of a relationship, and therefore, to keep Kimmy from knowing he lied to her, the only thing for John to do is follow up his lie with a bigger one and tell Kimmy he has a throat polyp and can't sing. John decides to tell her the truth instead, even though Richard assures him it's a big mistake.
"A television station has an obligation to its constituency," says Mr. Stark, the producer of WKGB, as he testifies in court. "We build a trust with our audience." He continues, saying that the trust an goodwill it had taken the station years to build was obliterated by Stevens' anti-Yuletide statements. And so the station owed it to its viewers to discharge the transgressor, the man who issued this mean-spirited, unscripted, cynical proclamation. John asks the producer if ratings went down as a result of this newscast; the producer admits that they did not, but that there's more to the news than ratings...parents trusted their station, and when their children were hurt, that trust was undermined. One such child was his own eight-year-old grandson, little Jacob Ray, who was devastated by the broadcast. The actions of Kendall Stevens were reckless, Stark says, and that was why he was fired.
Meanwhile, Larry arranges ornaments on the branches of a small tree in his office. Ally enters and kisses him, still obviously distracted by last night's bombshell. They talk, and she says that she's always had a list of qualities she's found essential in a man...and over the years, she's found herself making more and more compromises to that list, until there's really only one prerequisite left. "What's that?" asks Larry. "I have to love him," she answers, smiling weakly. She asks if his Christmas blues are related to his son, and he tells her that they are. "For the first three years of his life," Larry says, "his mother and I were together - - this was before I married and became un-together with somebody else - - and he loves snow, and...Christmastime, we, uh..." He stops, then continues again with difficulty. "All that stuff you find magical about Christmas...the tree and the stockings and sleigh rides, and making angels in the...I did all that with him. And now I don't have him. So I...don't really have Christmas." He pauses again, his voice threatening to break. "Ally, when you do have a child....no matter how you think you're prepared for it, you'll be stunned by the capacity you have to love somebody."
Back in Richard's office, John is fraught. He couldn't tell Kimmy that he lied, and now he has to sing a rock and roll song for her. Richard reminds him that Bob Dylan's been singing for thirty-five years and has yet to hit a note...a lot of rock and roll songs don't even have melodies! It can't be that difficult! Richard suggests that John find a song in which he could just talk the words, but John says Kimmy'd never fall for that. And meanwhile, his movement's too stiff to be convincing; Richard offers to help him with this, saying he's been doing some self-esteem movement to make him a better lover and dancing to Tom Jones's "It's Not Unusual" by way of demonstration. "I'll get you through this, John," he promises.
At the bar, Elaine practices for her musical number, singing "Tomorrow" and snapping irritably at the band. "Well, at least she seems more buoyant," Larry observes as he and Ally watch her. He asks why Ally brought him to the bar, and she tells him she's an expert at getting people into the Christmas spirit...she drags him over to the piano, sitting him down and promising to set him up with a theme song. She tries one Christmas song after another, but when they get to "Jingle Bells," he stops her, saying that's the song he did with Sam. There is an uncomfortable pause. Ally goes to the bathroom, saying that when she comes back, she wants him to play something for her. He sits alone for a moment, and pulls the microphone over to his mouth. "Thank you all for coming," he says to the empty room. "It's good to be in Boston. Here's a little something." He plays the opening to "Jingle Bells," then slowly gives way to a slow song, singing: "It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees...they're putting up reindeer, singin' songs of joy and peace...Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on...But it doesn't snow here, it stays pretty green...I'll make a lot of money, then I'll quit this crazy scene...Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on...I wish I had a river, I made my baby cry..." Ally watches him sing his mournful tune, her brow wrinkled as she hears the pain in his voice. The song ends and he blinks, holding back tears.
Richard has set up a karaoke machine in his office, and is coaxing John to try talking his way through a rock and roll scene. John is panicking, and asks what will happen if he falls flat on his face in this ridiculous venture, but Richard tells him not to worry...as insurance, he's asked Nelle and Ling to flirt with everyone in the audience so they'll cheer and applaud when he's performing.
"I was playing with my toys on the rug," Jacob Ray testifies in a trembling voice. "I wasn't really watching the TV. When I heard 'Santa Claus,' I looked up. That's when I heard it." Stone gently asks him what he heard, and he points at Kendall Stevens, bursting into tears and saying he heard the man say there was no Santa Claus. Ling approaches Jacob, introducing herself in a soft, maternal voice and asking if he can continue. He nods, wide-eyed. She asks how old he is (eight), what grade he's in (third), whether he can read and do math (he can), and whether he's ever been in an airplane (he has, a jet that goes seven hundred miles per hour). Gently, she asks if he knew before the broadcast that Santa wasn't real. "NO I DID NOT!" he yells. "No need to get loud...sweetheart," Ling says, smiling but growling inwardly. She asks how, if it takes a seven-hundred-mile-an-hour jet six hours just to fly across the country, eight tiny reindeer could fly all over the world lugging a big sled behind them...how one bad could possibly fit enough toys for three hundred million children..."Are you retarded, Jacob?" she asks sweetly. Slowly, she punches holes in every aspect of Santa Claus - - how he knows when you're awake, how he knows whether you've been bad or good, how all the toys he "makes" look exactly like the ones at Toys R Us - - until she gets Jacob to admit that it's a pretty stupid idea to believe in.
Ally goes to Larry's office, and finds him doing paperwork while wearing a red, blinking nose. He apologizes for being a wet blanket lately, and she forgives him, taking him to the bar so he can see his positive influence at work. "What positive influence?" he asks, puzzled.
Elaine belts out "Tomorrow" with her usual dazzling showmanship as the lawyers watch from their table in the bar, grimacing. As she reaches the end, everyone at the bar joins her in the final chorus, singing along. John squirms in his chair...tomorrow night, it's his turn to sing.
"Where was the evidence," John says, addressing the court with his closing argument, "that any child got hurt? Now, Mr. Stark called his own grandson into action. But the reality is that when kids to get hurt on this, it's not because it's revealed to them that there is no Santa Claus. It's the reveal that maybe their parents lied to them. Kendall Stevens was really counselling children not to feel betrayed by this deception. And he was also saying, 'Let your parents indulge this illusion!' Why? Well, because the fact is that WE need Santa Claus much more than our kids do. We're out there living in the real world, and it's harsh. We're exposed to ugly truths. We bear witness to evidence that dreams DON'T always come true. And when December comes along...it's nice. It's nice to cling to Santa and all he represents, to relive the innocence of childhood. To recapture those feelings of joy and magic that have long since left us. Santa is a device for the parents, sometimes, to experience the love, and the gift of a child, and we need it. What the CHILD actually needs is love and trust, and yes, the magic of his parents. And it was that sacred union that Kendall Stevens was trying to safeguard with his broadcast. Knowing that a child craves the honesty of mom and dad a helluva lot more than he needs the illusion of Old Saint Nick coming down a chimney."
"He decides to tell the world there's no Santa Claus," Stone says. "He exposes the station to tremendous bad will, and he does so knowing that it is against the wishes and interests of the station. He violates the trust of his employer, so of course, we have the right to terminate him."
Back at the Cage/Fish offices, Larry approaches Ally, asking if she minds if he misses John's performance that night; he's having a difficult week and needs a night alone. Ally says it's okay, and he thanks her, kissing her and leaving.
"In the matter of Stevens vs. WKGB, we find in favor of the defendants," the jury says. "That sucks," Ling grouses. Stevens shakes John's hand, saying he knew it was a long shot and thanking him for his help.
That night, Nelle and Ling work the crowd one table at a time, charming the men into "doing them a little favor." Everyone waits expectantly, and the tension builds. Suddenly, rock music plays, and the entire room breaks into applause...John steps out wearing a black leather jacket (complete with silver studs), tie-dyed T-shirt, torn black jeans and a headband. "Are you ready for some music?" he asks, grabbing the microphone. The audience cheers. He takes off his jacket, tossing it aside. "You're lookin' real good there, baby," he says pointing to Kimmy. She screams with excitement. He starts to sing "She's Gonna Love Ya Tonight" - - horribly off-key - - bobbing comically to the music, swaggering, duck-walking across the stage and playing air guitar. The crowd goes wild, clapping, whistling, and cheering him on.
Ally and Reneé come home, flip on the light...and find Larry standing in the living room, in front of the decorated tree. "I lied," he says. "I only wanted to be alone for most of the night." Reneé excuses herself to go to bed, and Ally and Larry look at each other for a moment in silence. He tells her he's been there for an hour or so, singing Christmas carols. "I've made a comeback," he says. She asks him to sing "White Christmas" for her, and they sit down at the piano. He starts to sing, then stops, his voice breaking...until she picks it up, and slowly, he starts to join her, until they are singing together. They finish, and put their arms around each other, holding each other quietly.
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