Friday, April 02, 2010

Open All Night

I’m amazed and delighted that some of you actually remember OPEN ALL NIGHT. David Letterman did make a cameo in one episode. So did Joe Montagne, Elvira, David Paymer, and me and my writing partner, David Isaacs (playing two swinging lawyers trying to pick up female mud wrestlers at a mace class).

For the other 99.9% that don’t recall the show, it starred George Dzundza and Susan Tyrell as owners of a 24 hour convenience store. Sam Whipple played Susan’s weird nerd son, and the always hilarious Bubba Smith played a co-worker. It ran for 13 weeks on ABC in the fall of ’81.

We wrote two of the episodes. Here’s part of a scene from one. The weird son, Terry (Sam Whipple), runs away and becomes a desk clerk at the Bates Motel. Step-father, Gordon (George Dzundza) goes to get him back. Once you read it you'll see why we were astounded that we got a WGA award nomination for this script.

INT. BATES MOTEL – NIGHT

RIGHT OUT OF “PSYCHO”. IT’S AN OLD HOTEL LOBBY ADORNED WITH DUST AND MACABRE-LOOKING STUFFED BIRDS. AN OLD LADY, HER BACK TO THE CAMERA, SITS IN A ROCKING CHAIR AS GORDON ENTERS AND LOOKS AROUND.

(We pick up the scene with GORDON TALKING TO TERRY AT THE FRONT DESK.)

GORDON
Look, Terry, it took me three hours to find this place. Now I apologize. So go get your stuff and let’s get out of here.

TERRY
I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy where I am. I fit in. I like it here. It’s quiet. I’ve got friends (RE STUFFED BIRDS) … and nobody hassles me.

GORDON
You gonna stay here for the rest of your life?

TERRY
Probably not. The place is sinking into the swamp.

GORDON
I never thought I’d say this… but it’s important to me that you come home.

TERRY SCOFFS AS A YOUNG WOMAN, MARION, CARRYING A SUITCASE AND A NEWSPAPER ENTERS. SHE ACTS VERY NERVOUS AS IF BEING FOLLOWED. MARION BEARS A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO A YOUNG JANET LEIGH.

TERRY
Excuse me… I have a customer. Welcome to the Bates Motel.

MARION
Do you have a room? I need a room.

TERRY
We’ve got rooms. Twelve cabins. Twelve vacancies. Do you have a reservation?

MARION
No, I just need it for the night. I’ve got a long drive back to Phoenix.

TERRY
You can have Cabin One. It’s the closest if you need anything.

MARION
I won’t need anything.

TERRY HANDS HER A LARGE ORNATE KEY.

MARION
Oh… does the room have a shower?
GORDON
No!!!

TERRY
Sure it does, Gor-don.

MARION
(TO GORDON) What’s the matter with you?

SHE EXITS.

TERRY
I wonder if I changed the linen in that room?

TERRY MOVES A PAINTING ASIDE REVEALING A PEEPHOLE INTO CABIN ONE. HE PEERS THROUGH IT.

TERRY
Yep. All set.

HE SLIDES THE PICTURE BACK. GORDON WANTS TO GET OUT. HE GRABS TERRY BY THE ARM.

GORDON
Terry, no more arguing. Get your stuff.

TERRY
Are you gonna hit me?

GORDON
Hit you? Have I ever hit you before?

TERRY
We’ve never been this close before.

GORDON
Terry, come on home. I’ll make it up to you.

TERRY
Oh, really? Oh, really? You’ll stop ignoring me? You won’t chop me down behind my back? You’ll take a weekend off just to be with me? I think not. I’ve had it with fathers. And step-fathers and uncles. None of you have ever wanted me. You all think I’m weird. Maybe I am weird. A lot of people are weird. A lot of people. Isaac Newton was weird. So was Wolfgang Mozart… and Fred Silverman, and the list goes on and on. Carly Simon, Garry Marshall, Charles Kuralt…

GORDON
All right, all right. I get the point.

TERRY
Thomas “Tip” O’Neill…

GORDON
Okay. (BEAT, THEN) Terry, I don’t know what I’m trying to say… I guess I’m trying to tell you…

OLD LADY
Could you tell him in the men’s room? I’m trying to read.

TERRY
Pardon me. I’ve gotta go set the coyote traps.

TERRY STARTS FOR THE DOOR.

GORDON
Wait a minute… What if I was to promise to try harder? To… start from scratch, give you a break or two. I don’t know if we’d ever wind up “buddies” but you deserve more than I’ve given you.

TERRY
Would you take me on a two-week father-son cruise to the Bahamas?

GORDON
No.

TERRY
How about a day in the mountains?

GORDON
What day and what mountain?

TERRY
Here we go again.

GORDON
Okay, okay, a day in the mountains.

TERRY
You’d really do it? Just you and me?

GORDON
Why not? You’re the only kid I got.

TERRY THINKS THAT OVER, THEN:

TERRY
I love you, Gordon.

GORDON
Yeah.. uh… that’s fine. Let’s.. uh… get goin’, huh?

TERRY
I’ve got to go up to the house and return Mr. Bathes’ clothes.

GORDON
You mean that spooky place on the hill? It’s dark except for some old woman sitting in an upstairs window.

TERRY
That’s Mr. Bates. I’ll be back in a minute… “Dad”.

TERRY EXITS. THERE’S A SCREAM.

GORDON
I heard a scream. Was that a scream?

OLD LADY
Yes. But you get used to them.

GORDON RUSHES TO THE PEEPHOLE AND SLIDES THE PAINTING ASIDE.

GORDON
Oh, my God. Are you all right in there?

MARION (O.S.)
Yeah. Except there’s no hot water. (THEN) Do you mind?

GORDON NODS, SLIDES THE PAINTING BACK AND WE:

FREEZE AND FADE OUT.

15 comments:

Halifax TV/Film said...

I remember this show for sure. I remember Sam Whipple and I thought he was just odd enough; not unbelievable and not over the top. Mostly I remember it was just plain funny

Rinaldo said...

I was a fan of this series and saw most of the episodes, but must have missed this one. It seems oddly unlike what the series was about, which was just the little ups and downs of ordinary unglamorous life.

I loved the theme song, which neatly and catchily summed up the premise. George Dzundza and Sam Whipple were great, as were most of the supporting cast. For me the biggest thing that hurt the series was the casting of Susan Tyrrell. Usually it's hard to talk about "miscasting" on TV, because the character we see has been adjusted to the actor. But I thought Tyrrell played the wife in a dreary, heavy way that sucked any possibility of lightness or humor out of her scenes. Too bad; I still remember the show with fondness.

Anonymous said...

I vividly remember watching an episode of this with Corey Feldman guesting as a little boy whose mother was suing the store for supposedly giving him food poisoning. I remember hating the kid as an actor right away, and I've never gotten past it.

gih said...

I had a copy of it on my VCR. But now it was lost due to corruption.

Ivan said...

I still have the jingle from "Open All Night" running in my head, just the chorus, though (that chirpy "Openallnight! OPENallnight!").
Thankfully, I liked that show and was sad to see it go.

Thanks for your hard work!

Kirk Jusko said...

I remember seeing this show (though not this particular episode) and finding it very funny. But then is disappeared, and I pretty much forgot about it until now. That's why I like reading this blog so much. It reminds me of all the good stuff that, for whatever reason, didn't make it.

Kirk Jusko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Patton said...

I actually remember the show--not as well as some, but then it appeared and disappeared rather quickly. I don't remember this particular episode, but as a Psycho spoof, it's pretty good.

I suppose this might count as a Friday Question -- is this show based in any way on the British sit-com from about the same time called Open All Hours?

Ref said...

The opening (and horrible theme song) is available on youtube.

Mary Stella said...

A lot of people. Isaac Newton was weird. So was Wolfgang Mozart… and Fred Silverman, and the list goes on and on. Carly Simon, Garry Marshall, Charles Kuralt…


How many different names did you toss around before deciding on this mix? Funny.

I remember the show, too, and actually think I might have seen this episode.

Paul Duca said...

You can admit it now....David was the one interesting in peeking into strange showers.

Dana King said...

I remember OPEN ALL NIGHT well. In fact, I was surprised to see it only ran 13 weeks. Good show, and I've been a George Dzundza fan for a long time.

Iain said...

Oh my god!

This is the one episode of "Open All Night" I've seen. (It was at my grandparents place.)

I remember it being very funny and a total surprise - only to never see it again.

Thanks for bringing back a great memory.

yert66 said...

I loved this show! Anyone know where I can get any episode on vhs or dvd?

Anonymous said...

This show was the best! (One of the catch yas are illegible)