Joe steps out of his office.
Fay: Oh, Joe. I—I hope you don’t’ mind, but in the spirit of global awareness, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing all our plastic cups with biodegradable ones.
Fay pulls out a stack of biodegradable cups.
Joe: Fay, that is great. I think we should all be more environmentally conscious these days. But don’t we still have 300 or 400 of the old cups?
Fay: Oh, those. I tossed them.
A home video of Helen’s 11th birthday is shown.
Helen: So, I open this package from my parents and in it are these really great home movies of my 11th birthday party.
The camera turns to a boy in a starched long sleeved polo and tie.
Helen: You were there Joe looking about as relaxes as I’ve ever seen you. And you, too, Brian.
An unruly boy jumps in front of Joe.
Brian: You were being totally you.
Brian stands beside Joe and puts horns on Joe’s head.
The next shot was of Joe and Brian sitting beside their mom.
Helen: There was a wonderful shot of your mom. Oh, and remember those silly games we used to play?
Children are playing an egg race.
Helen: Oh, and remember those silly games we used to play? Brian was the winner of the egg race.
Brian jumps up and down. Joe takes the spoon from Brian’s mouth and shakes it to show that the egg is glued to the spoon.
Helen: Well, the disputed winner. I was havin’ a great time.
A young, fat Helen wearing a pink dress and tiara is sitting on the grass eating.
The next shot is her twirling around and falling on the grass.
Helen: You know, it really doesn’t take much to amuse an 11-year-old.
Young Joe pulls his right ear then egg falls off his mouth.
Helen: I swear there was not one shot of me where I wasn’t stuffing, chewing, swilling or swallowing.
Young Helen stuffs her mouth with a hotdog. Her mouth and nose become smudged with mustard.
Present day Helen is behind the lunch counter talking to Joe, Brian and Fay.
Helen: No, I take that back. There was one or two of me gagging.
Brian: I remember that party. I paid Beth Parks 50 cents to do a handstand in her party dress. Yeah. She’d have done it for a quarter, but I was feelin’ generous that day.
Joe: Oh. Yeah. I remember that.
Brian: No way! Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes here was covering his eyes with his hands.
Joe: Yeah. But I was peeking through my fingers.
Joe looks at Helen and moves his eyebrows up.
Brian: I forget, Joe, was that before or after you took a header into the birthday cake?
Joe: Brian, I didn’t take a header. You tripped me.
Brian: Joe, it’s time you stopped livin’ that lie. You dropped the cake on the lawn and you fell in it.
Helen: My cake was totally covered in grass clippings. I ate it anyway. It was the only rough age I had that year.
Helen goes to the kitchen.
Fay: Those movies sound like a lovely birthday present.
Brian: Birthday present? What birthday present? When’s Helen’s birthday?
Joe: It’s today.
Brian: Why, I don’t believe this. Lowell.
Brian jumps off the counter.
Brian: Lowell, did you know that today was Helen’s birthday?
Lowell: Uh, sure did. It’s kind of hard to forget. Falls on the same day Sir John Speke discovered the source of the Nile. Now, you comin’ to the party?
Brian: Party? There’s a party?
Joe: Uh, sure would’ve been nice if you guys had told me you were throwin’ a party for her.
Fay: It’s no big deal. We do this every year. I bake a cake. We wait in the hangar, she comes in and we all yell, “surprise”.
Roy: And unbelievable, every year she screams.
Brian; Maybe Helen’s just being polite.
Roy: No, I was talking about Fay.
Brian: Ah, I hate this. I’m completely unprepared. Now, I’m gonna have to look for a gift at the last minute. What am I gonna do?
Lowell: You know, Brian, you might be able to benefit from my experience. I found that if you panic over these things, you tend to freeze up. So, just stay calm. Relax. And I’m sure you’ll think of somethin’ very special to get Helen for her birthday.
Brian: You’re right, Lowell. So, uh, what did you get Helen?
Lowell: Oh, my God!
Lowell steps out of the hangar.
Lowell: Fay, I was wondering if you could take a look at my household budget for me.
Fay: What’s the problem, Lowell?
Lowell: I’m uh, running out of money by the 3rd day of the month.
Fay: Oh. I’d be happy to.
Lowell: I figured you’d be the person to come to, seeing as how you’re so darn good with numbers and all. I mean, Flight 23, Gate 1. Flight 45, Gate 1. Flight 67, Gate 1. How you keep track of which flight goes to which gate, I’ll never know.
Brian runs up to Joe.
Brian: Joe, Joe, Joe, check out what I got for Helen. A portable cassette player.
Joe: Wow, what’d that set you back?
Brian: 65 bucks.
Joe: 65 bucks? Brian, that’s way out of line. We always get Helen little things.
Joe: Oh, ho-ho, I see what you’re tryin’ to do. You only got Helen somethin’ big to get her to go out with you.
Brian speaks with a British accent.
Brian: Oh, dear, you’ve seen past my feeble charade.
Joe: Yeah. Well, it’s not gonna work. Helen is not the type to lose her head over some silly gift.
A video of Young Helen hugging a mountain of gifts is shown.
Brian: Come on, Joe, don’t make such a big deal of it. How much money did you spend on her?
Joe: About $10.
Brian speaks with a British accent.
Brian: Don’t I feel the perfect fool. Here I spent all this money and I’m sure she’ll like your gift just as much as she likes mine.
Brian walks away from biting his finger and Joe trying not to laugh.
Joe enters the Sandpiper Air office.
Brian: Hi, Joe. What you got there?
Joe: I was in town, I walked past a store, I saw this, had Helen’s name written all over it.
Brian: Yeah, what is it?
Joe: Monsieur cheese pot. You see, you heat up cheese in this thing until it gets all soft and gooey. And then you take these little pieces of bread and you put them on these sticks and dip them into it.
Brian: Oh, that’s nice. Assuming anyone would ever want to do that.
Joe: You don’t think Helen’s gonna like it?
Brian: Of course she will. Sure, after a long day slaving over a hot, greasy griddle, there’s nothing she’d rather do than sit down in front of a hot bubbling cauldron of cheddar.
Brian is almost done wrapping his gift.
Brian: Come her. I need your finger.
Joe: I got one for you.
Joe looks at Brian with contempt.
Brian: No, come in, come one, come on, come on.
Joe lends him his finger so Brian could tie the ribbon on his gift.
Joe: Hey, this box looks a little big for a portable cassette player.
Brian: Ah, well, I took that back. I got to thinkin’, uh, if I’m going to launch the good ship Helen, it might be a good idea to grease the skids a bit, so I got her a cordless phone.
Joe: I don’t believe this. You went out and purposely got a better gift than mine.
Brian: A better gift than an electric cheese melter? Surely you jest. Relax, Joe. I just changed my mind.
Joe: Bull. You’re trying to one-up me. You’re trying to make me look bad in front of Helen.
Brian: Joey, babe, you sound a little paranoid here. What have I ever done to make you feel that way?
The next shot is a video of young Joe and Brian at Helen’s 11th birthday party. Brian sticks a paper at Joe’s back that says “kick me”, and everybody behind him laughs.
Brian: All right, look, if you want—
Brian takes out a roll of gift wrapping paper.
Brian: Here’s some paper so you can wrap up Monsieur cheese breath.
Joe makes his way out.
Brian: Where you goin’?
Joe: Uh, uh, uh, I have to get my foot measured.
Brian: Joe, this isn’t another one of your clever fibs, is it?
Joe walks out and Brian unwraps his gift
Lowell walks up to Fay..
Lowell: Fay, have you had a chance to peruse my budget yet?
Fay: Yes, Lowell. I have and I have one tiny question.
Fay pulls out Lowell’s ledger.
Lowell: Fire away.
Fay: What’s this $112.50 a week for tuxedo rental?
Lowell looks at the ledger.
Lowell: That’s for tuxedo rental.
Fay: But Lowell, why are you paying money to a tuxedo rental shop every week?
Lowell: Oh, it was my uncle Everett’s last wish to be buried in white tie and tails. I thought it was my familial duty to see that wish carried out.
Fay: So, you’ve been renting a tuexedo by the week?
Lowell: Well, I see your point. Yeah, monthly would have been the way to go on that.
Fay: Lowell, why didn’t you just buy a tuxedo?
Lowell: Do you have any idea how expensive those things are? Hell, I had a great deal on this one. No pants. I figured why spend the extra money if they don’t open the whole casket, right?
Fay: I want you to go down to that tuxedo shop today and tell them you’d like at least half of your money refunded.
Lowell: What if they want the tuxedo back?
Fay: Something tells me they won’t.
Joe arrives at the airport.
Roy: Hackett, where have you been?
Joe: In town getting’ Helen a birthday present.
Roy: What did you get her/
Joe: French perfume, Toujours. $150 an ounce.
Joe smells it and puts it under Roy’s nose.
Joe: What do you think?
Roy: Mmm, very classy. Should go real well with that Italian hand knit sweater your brother got her.
Roy: Yeah. Said he dropped $200 on it. He told me not to tell you.
Joe: Then why’d you tell me?
Roy: I love jerking you guys around.
Joe leaves and Brian enters.
Brian: Roy, Roy. Did you see Joe?
Roy: Yeah. He was just showing me some ritzy perfume he bought Helen.
Brian’s jaw drops.
Roy: He went back into town to exchange it for something. Oh, by the way, I accidentally let it slip about that sweater you’re getting Helen.
Brian: Roy, how could you do that?
Roy: I know. I hate myself for it.
Brian: Well, look, you tell Fay that I got to run into town.
Brian runs out of the airport.
Fay: Roy, have you seen Brian?
Roy: No, not lately. Oh, life is good.
Brian enters the Sandpiper Air office with a gift. Joe is just about finished wrapping his gift.
Brian: Hey, Joe, uh, mind if I leave this in here until the party?
Joe slides his much larger gift beside Brian’s.
Joe: No. Not at all.
Brian: What you got there?
Joe: I’m not gonna tell you, Brian. I’m not gonna give you a chance to one-up me again.
Brian: Come on. I’ll tell you what I got.
Joe: No, I don’t want to now, so don’t tell me.
Brian: It’s a cappuccino maker.
Joe: That’s nice.
Brian: That’s nice? That’s all you’re going to say is, “that’s nice”? You got her something better.
Joe: Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. There’s no way you’re findin’ out until after the party, because I’m not gonna tell you.
Fay: Joe, I called the store. There’s a 3-year warranty on that CD player.
Brian: CD player? You got her a CD player?!
Joe: Yes, yes, I got her a CD player! I got her a great CD player. A five hundred dollar CD player with every bell and whistle you can imagine. So, how do you like that, Daddy Warbucks? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get some ribbon.
Joe steps out into the hangar.
Brian: CD player, eh? I can top the CD player.
Brian takes his gift and runs out the front door only Joe’s waiting right outside.
Joe: Where do you think you’re goin’?
Brian runs. Joe grabs him by his pants.
Brian: Stop that! Oh, Joe. Ok, you’re killin’ me.
Joe gives Brian a wedgie and twists his wrist.
Brian: Kill—killin’ me. Killin’ me.
Joe: Hey, wait, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Brian, look at us.
Brian: I’d like to, Joe, but I’m facin’ the wrong way.
Joe: I—I’m sorry. Brian, this has gotten totally out of hand.
Brian: Yeah, you have a point.
Joe: Thank you.
Brian: On the top of your head.
Joe: Brian, l-listen. I know Helen. She is not impressed by extravagant gifts.
Joe grabs his gift.
Joe: This is going to embarrass her. Not to mention everyone else who got her a simple gift. You want to embarrass everyone?
Brian: Not everyone. No.
Joe: Then let’s call it a truce. We’ll return these and get her little gifts.
Brian: Ok, ok, little gifts.
Brian: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Joe and Brian wrap their pinky fingers.
Brian: Just got a little crazy, that’s all.
Brian: And Joe, that crack about you havin’ a point on the top of your head.
Brian: Wear a hat.
Lowell, Roy, Brian, Joe and Fay are at the hangar.
Lowell: Yeah, all we need now is a clever excuse to get Helen in here.
Joe: I’ll handle it.
Joe makes his way to the door.
Joe: Hey, Helen, could you come here for a minute? I need you to look at, uh, something.
Brian: Joe Hackett, master of subterfuge.
Helen enters and screams.
Helen: You guys, you got me again.
All: Happy birthday!
Joe hugs Helen.
Helen: Great, thank you.
Brian gives Helen a kiss on the cheek. Fay hugs her.
Helen: Thank you.
Lowell: Happy birthday, Helen. This is from me.
Lowell hands Helen his gift.
Helen: Oh, why, a rock.
Lowell: Well, it’s not just any rock. It’s a piece of a Welsh castle. The guy who sold it to me told me it originally belonged to the Duke of Earl. Well, I figured it would make a great paperweight.
Roy: So would Lowell.
Helen: Thank you.
Helen puts it down and opens Roy’s gift.
Helen: And Roy.
Helen: A New England Patriots’ coffee mug.
Roy: Yeah, I got it with the fill up at Henderson’s service station. If you want the matching thermos you’re gonna have to get the lube job.
Fay hands Helen her gift.
Helen: Oh, Fay.
Fay: It’s a medallion of St. Jude. I thought it might help you in your quest to become a concert cellist.
Joe: Uh, isn’t St. Jude the patron saint of lost causes?
Helen’s smile turns into a frown as Fay places the medallion on her.
Fay: Never take it off. Well, looks like Joe’s is the only present left.
Brian runs over with a huge box.
Brian: And here’s one that looks pretty interesting.
Helen picks up the card.
Helen: “Happy birthday Helen. Love, Brian”
Joe: Brian, I thought we agreed that, uh…
Helen opens the box and screams.
Helen: A CD player.
Helen laughs and jumps for Joy then hugs Brian.
Young Joe walks with Helen’s cake and young Brian trips him. He falls on the cake.
Helen: I don’t believe this, Brian. I’ve wanted one of these things for months now.
Lowell: Wasn’t there a gift from Joe here somewhere?
Joe: Uh, no, no.
Roy points at Joe’s gift. Fay picks it up.
Fay: Oh, here it is. In all the excitement over Brian’s wonderful gift, it must have got knocked to the floor.
Fay hands Helen Joe’s gift. Joe looks terrified. Helen takes it.
Helen: Oh. God, this has been such a great birthday. I can’t wait to see what’s in here.
Helen: Gosh, I just love it! It’s a seagull on driftwood. Thank you so much.
Helen gives Joe a hug.
Helen: Wow, wherever did you find one of these?
Roy: Try and take three steps on this island and not find one.
Joe: So, uh, you like it?
Helen: Oh, it’s really cute.
Helen turns to Brian’s gift.
Helen: I can’t wait to hear this thing. You think you can come over to my house tonight and hook it up?
Brian: Oh, sure. No, problem.
Joe: Brian, could I see you in my office?
Brian: Oh, gee, Joe, I’d really like to, but—
Joe manhandles Brian.
Joe: Oh, now’s a good time.
Brian: Let me go!
Joe and Brian talk inside the Sandpiper Air office.
Brian tries to run out the front door. Joe catches him.
Joe: You little puke. We had a deal about these gifts.
Brian: Now, look Joe, Joe, I came this close to buying a Garfield memo pad. I couldn’t do that. Helen means more to me than cartoon cats. Besides, I got a great deal on the CD player, because you just returned it.
Joe grabs Brian by his collar.
Joe: Why, you little—
Helen enters the office.
Helen: Is everything all right?
Helen: Listen, Brian, as long as you’re comin’ over tonight, you want me to cook us dinner?
Brian: Oh, great. I’ll bring the wine.
Helen: Oh, terrific.
Brian: Yeah, say, what kind of wine goes best with digital sound?
Brian leads Helen out of the office. Roy enters.
Roy: Hey, Hackett, you got some glue in here? The bird fell off that piece of wood.
The next day, Helen tells a customer about the CD player.
Helen: Oh, I’m telling you, this CD player is unbelievable. It’s got—
Joe: Helen, could I get a refill?
Helen: Sure, Joe. It’s got a 10-disc capability, remote control, it’ll play any track at random or it’ll skip the tracks that you don’t want to hear.
Joe: Uh, Helen?
Helen: Yeah, just a second, Joe. The clarity is so unbelievable, you would swear Ella Fitzgerald was sitting right next to you.
Joe: Maybe she could get me a cup of coffee.
Helen: Yeah, maybe.
Joe stands up to get a refill.
Helen: Of course, now I’m totally hooked. I’m gonna have to replace all my records with CDs. It’s a racket, but who cares?
Helen jumps and laughs.
Joe shows her his broken gift.
Joe: I—I thought you were gonna fix this.
Helen: Oh, I tried, Joe, but the glue dissolved the bird’s feet.
Lowell enters wearing a tuxedo with his carpenter’s belt, work boots and cap.
Lowell: Hello, Fay. Things went great at the tuxedo shop.
Fay: Lowell, they didn’t talk you into renting another tuxedo, did they?
Lowell: Please, Fay, do I look like an idiot? Well, they wouldn’t refund my money, but I got them to give me a store credit. Thinking about going with a white dinner jacket tomorrow.
Brian: Hey, looking good, Lowell.
Lowell: Well, thank you. Doin’ something a little different with my hair.
Brian walks up to Joe who is sitting at the counter.
Brian: Hey, Joe.
Brian turns to Helen.
Brian: Hello, there.
Helen gives him a kiss on the lips.
Brian: I had a great time last night.
Helen: Yeah, me too. Hey, thanks for hookin’ up my stereo system.
Brian: My pleasure. Boy, the sounds coming out of that bedroom last night were unbelievable.
Helen: I know. The CD sounded great. Phew.
Brian: Oh, the CD that, too.
Helen slaps Brian’s arm and laughs. Brian walks away.
Helen: I tell you that brother of yours is one generous guy.
Joe: What do you mean by that?
Helen: I mean he’s generous.
Joe: Like I’m not?
Helen: I didn’t say that, Joe. I mean, he bought me a CD player. Do you know how expensive those things—
Joe: Oh, CD player, CD player. I’m getting’ a little tired of hearing about this damn CD player. There were a lot of other people who bought you gifts. I don’t hear you rattling on about them.
Helen: Ok, Joe, you’re right.
Joe: I mean, with you it’s—it’s CD this, CD that, CD, CD, CD, CD, CD –
Helen: All right, all right I won’t mention it again.
Joe: If I never hear another word about that stupid CD player, it’ll be too soon. I was going to get you that CD player.
Helen: Come on, Joe. Don’t try to take credit for Brian’s gift. I like what you gave me. It was very nice.
Joe: Oh, don’t patronize me. It was stupid.
Helen: Well, if it was so stupid then why did you get it for me?
Joe: Well, I wouldn’t have if I knew you could be bought.
Somebody throws cake at young Helen.
Helen: How dare you say that! I have never treated anyone differently because of the gift they gave me. No different whatsoever. Of course, it was very tough to resist such a fine piece of craftsmanship as your gift.
Somebody throws a cake at young Joe.
Joe: Great, so you say you didn’t like it. Well, great. Next year, I’m not getting you anything.
Helen: Oh, no, don’t do this to me.
Helen pulls out her hair.
Helen: You can’t be so cruel. No more driftwood?
Joe: I hate your birthday.
Helen: Well, thanks to you, so do I.
Helen watches children food fight at her 11th birthday party.
Joe knocks at Helen’s door.
Joe: Can I come in?
Helen: All right.
Joe: Oh, you’re watchin’ home movies. That’s what the flickering lights were.
Helen: Actually, I was in the middle of a satanic ritual.
Joe: I can come back.
Helen: I was making a joke, Joe.
Joe: So was I, Helen.
Helen: I was just watchin’ some more of my birthday movies. Your mother was yankin’ Brian’s ear and readin’ him the riot act.
Joe: Huh. Yeah, that used to happen a lot. Until he was 5, I thought his name was “Stop it, Brian.” Uh, somethin’ I want to give you.
Joe pulls something out of his jacket.
Helen: Come on, Joe, hasn’t this present thing gone on long enough? You already gave me a birthday gift.
Joe: Oh, this isn’t a birthday gift. This is a I’m-Sorry-For-Being-A-Silly-Stupid-Pigheaded-Moronic-Idiot gift.
Helen: Well, in that case.
Helen takes the gift.
Joe: I was hoping it would make up for our fight today.
Helen: You didn’t have to do this. It was as much my fault as it was yours.
Helen opens the small box and exclaims.
Helen: A cameo. Joe, it’s beautiful.
Joe: Do you like it?
Helen: I love it.
Joe sits beside Helen.
Joe: Good. Then we’re friends again?
Helen: We never stopped being friends. We just had a little argument. Listen, I really appreciate the thought, but I can’t accept this.
Helen give Joe back his gift.
Helen: Because it’s jewelry. It’s way too personal. And, that’s definitely not a friendship gift.
Joe: Well, then, what—what’s a friendship gift?
Joe stands up.
Helen: I don’t know. A book. A picture frame. A fondue pot.
Joe: Well, what about a CD player?
Helen: That’s still friendship. Top-of-the-line friendship, but nevertheless friendship.
Joe: So what you’re sying is Brian’s gift didn’t get him anywhere?
Helen: Of course it did. Got him right out the door. He made one of his suave passes that I find most difficult to fend off.
Joe: Helen, it’s not big deal. Just take it.
Helen: No, I—I don’t know, Joe. It—it looks sort of like an heirloom.
Joe: It’s not. Th-they make them look that way. I picked it up at Stedman’s. It’s nothin’. It practically fell out of a Crackerjack box.
Joe: Trust me. Please. Take it.
Helen: Ok, Joe. Thank you.
Helen gives Joe a kiss on the cheek.
Joe: Well, I—I got to run.
Joe: It’s a full moon out tonight and Brian just bought a bullhorn. It doesn’t sound like a good combination. Good night.
Helen: Thanks again.
Joe: Yeah, sure.
Joe leaves. Helen looks at the cameo and sighs. Helen resume watching the home video. She notices the cameo Joe’s mother is wearing. She pauses he video and places the cameo Joe gave to her beside Joe’s mother’s image. They’re the same thing.
Helen: You little son of a gun.
This is not the actual script. This is my own transcription of the episode. The “It’s Not the Thought, It’s the Gift” episode was written by Peter Casey and David Lee. Wings is owned by CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures and Grub Street Productions.
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