Winning an award calls for a celebration. Unless you’re Mike Henry’s (Fox) TV-news boss Harris (Wendell Pierce), that is.
He doesn’t want a fuss made over his getting an Excellence in Journalism honor from the National Press Organization, but Mike fully intends to make a big deal about it in “Party,” Thursday’s (Jan. 2) episode of NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show.”
Harris seems satisfied with a personal French bread pizza as his reward — “I don’t need to do anything big” — until Mike pitches the idea of a gathering in a private room at a steak house, and a limo ride to get there.
However, Mike soon learns “none of the guys can make it.” He gets the idea of telling them it’s for Harris’ engagement instead when one of the fellows (guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner) responds much better to that apparent reason.
“Don’t tell Harris,” Mike advises. ‘It’s a surprise.” Indeed it is when Harris discovers at the party that all the guests believe he’s getting married, and he reluctantly agrees to go along with the deception.
During the toasts, “Big Dog” Harris is told the others are glad he’s cleaning up his “love ’em and leave ’em” act by supposedly tying the knot. Sensing Harris’ growing discomfort, Mike tries to equalize matters by toasting the boss’ “old life” and playing up the joys of bachelorhood, but Harris leaves before he can finish.
Finding his limo gone, Harris learns Leigh (Katie Finneran) has hijacked it to pick up a slew of purchases she’s made at IKEA. He goes back into the restaurant and dejectedly tells Mike, “I know what my friends really think. And maybe they’re right. At the end of the day, I’ve got no one to come home to.”
Mike then points out a waitress who’s been eyeing Harris all night, prompting Harris to get his groove back immediately. While he’s flirting with the waitress, other party guests see it and wonder just what their “engaged” friend is doing.
Trying to deflect the situation, Mike claims Harris actually is getting the waitress’ number for him: “I’ve been cheating on my wife for years.” The other guys don’t buy it and call Harris out for evidently straying while being committed to someone else, which sends the waitress fleeing.
Leigh suddenly saves the night by returning from her ride and assuming the role of Harris’ fiancee. She then leads everyone back to the limo, now overcrowded with her furniture boxes, for their next partying destination.
The next morning, after telling a confused Annie (Betsy Brandt) “I never want to cheat on you with a cocktail waitress,” Mike heads to Leigh’s apartment to reward her with a smoothie for helping to play out the engagement charade. She hustles him out, and once he’s left, her secret guest emerges: happily reaffirmed single guy Harris, who’s helping her set up all her new furnishings.