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After Syd greets her old medical school pal (guest star Sean O'Bryan) on leave from a rural African hospital, he shows frightening symptoms of the super-deadly Ebola virus, forcing the health department to clamp a quarantine around her clinic -- as well as the Hansen household where Joanie is hosting a chaotic children's birthday party. In the meantime, while a desperate Robbie spots his family on the TV news and heads home hoping to help, Joanie discovers that his girlfriend (guest star Maria Pitillo) -- who's also trapped inside the house -- was the same girl who tormented her at summer camp years before. Elsewhere, Jim busies himself treating a bulky bulldog suffering from serious anemia.


Syd's lovelorn life gets a needed lift when she meets a hunky young single father (guest star David Sutcliffe) but their relationship is jolted when she learns that he has a congenital heart condition that causes him to suffer blackouts -- and one day soon will end in sudden death. Elsewhere, an uncertain Joanie poses as the happy girlfriend of her gay assistant Elliot (guest star Scott Thompson) in order to secure a building expansion loan from a bank officer (guest star Steven Barr) while Robbie's newfound romance with the unpredictable Tina (guest star Maria Pitillo) proves to be a roller-coaster ride.


When Syd applies for a grant for her clinic from a prestigious medical foundation, she meets a mysterious man (guest star Richard Romanus) who claims to be her father -- and as she gets to know him, his story about his relationship with her late mother begins to make more and more sense. Meanwhile, as Jim senses that Syd and Joanie are snooping around about the circumstances of Syd's birth, he treats a Lhasa apso dog that refuses to eat. Elsewhere, Robbie gets heat from the ex-husband (guest star Jim Pirri) just when it seems his romance seems to be blossoming with the attractive mother (guest star Maria Pitillo) of one of his pee-wee hockey players (guest star Mickey Toft) and Joanie reluctantly hires a sensitive, temperamental baker (guest star Scott Thompson).

Guest starring Dana Daurey, Samaria Graham, Toni DeRose, Mickey Toft, Maria Pitillo, Jim Pirri.

Written by Rob Fresco. Directed by Monica Wyatt.

Music: Marc Cohn "The Things We've Handed Down"; CD: The Rainy Season. Click here for more info.


A beaming Syd coaxes her reclusive lighthouse keeper (guest star Alastair Duncan) to venture out in public after his plastic surgery, but she soon discovers that his scars are more than skin deep. What's more, she learns about the darkest secret that he will not confront. Elsewhere, Joanie remains in denial as she ignores her business and drowns her sorrows in booze, a practice that is distancing her frustrated fiance (guest star Jon Hamm). In addition, Jim refuses to take his cold lying down and conducts his veterinary duties from his sickbed while Robbie scores points with the cute mother (guest star Maria Pitillo) of one of his adolescent hockey players.

Guest starring Dana Daurey, Samaria Graham, Jon Hamm, Alastair Duncan, Mickey Toft, Maria Pitillo, Mark L. Taylor, William Windom, Jim Pirri.

Written by Robert DeLaurentis. Directed by Greg Beeman.

Nielsens: rank 25 (tie); rating 9.3


Syd tries to compel a grieving recluse (guest star Alastair Duncan) to allow plastic surgery to correct his facial deformities when she learns that he will soon be evicted from his roost while Joanie withdraws from her family -- especially from her protective older sister -- in the wake of her recent miscarriage. Elsewhere, Robbie resorts to desperate measures in order to cozy up to the beautiful mother (guest star Maria Pitillo) of one of his adolescent hockey players (guest star Mickey Toft) while Jim struggles to coax his young granddaughter Hannah to take her medicine.

Music: Enya "Only Time"; CD: A Day Without Rain. Click here for song sample.

Nielsens: rank 27; rating 9.6


When a dangerous storm strands Syd after an emergency in a remote lighthouse with the mysterious and hermit-like Graham (guest star Alastair Duncan), she begins to understand the source of his unspeakable pain, while Joanie and Burt impulsively decide to elope -- with disastrous results. Meanwhile, Robbie goes to court for arranging betting on pee-wee hockey games, and as punishment, is ordered to coach the most-dreadful team, where he encounters one player's cute single mom (guest star Maria Pitillo) as well as the hostile father (guest star Michael McGrady) of another of his worst skaters.

Nielsens: rank 24; rating 10.1


Reminded of a former school chum with muscular dystrophy, Syd reaches out to help a reclusive young man (guest star Alastair Duncan) whose face is hideously scarred while she runs afoul of Joanie who's suddenly in overdrive as she prepares for a whirlwind marriage to Burt (guest star Jon Hamm) in just a few days. In addition, it doesn't help to have Burt's vagabond parents (guest stars Edie McClurg and Paul Dooley) around as they pull up in their RV and can barely hide their mutual resentment. Meanwhile, Robbie once again gets in over his head when he agrees to be a bookie to accept bets placed on the games of an adolescent hockey league, and a stammering Jim fends off the advances of an aroused married woman.

Guest starring Maria Pitillo, Alastair Duncan, Jon Hamm, Samaria Graham, Edie McClurg, Mickey Toft, David Kriegel, Pete Gardner, with Anne Haney, and Paul Dooley as Bill Ridley.

Written by Rob Fresco. Directed by Michael Fresco.

Music: Bee Gees "Wedding Day"; CD (available April 2001): This Is Where I Came In.

Nielsens: rank 28 (tie); rating 9.6.

THE GUN #310

Syd initially believes her troubled teenaged paper boy (guest star Cory Buck) when he is seriously shot and hospitalized but he tells her that the wound is self-inflicted -- even though his older brother's (guest star Corey Page) behavior indicates otherwise -- and she's unaware that one of them has hidden a gun in a box of toys at the Hansens. Elsewhere, a fed-up Joanie hires an industrious clutter cleaner (guest star Jan Hooks) who systematically relieves the Hansens of their useless but memorable bric-a-brac and organizes a yard sale while Robbie meets an infomercial wizard (guest star Fred Applegate) and is inspired to create something that everyone needs.

Guest starring Jan Hooks, Jon Hamm (Burt), Samaria Graham, Fred Applegate, Corey Page, Cory Buck, Nick Jameson, Gerard O'Donnell.

Written by Ken LaZebnik. Directed by Rick Rosenthal.

Music: Billy Gilman "One Voice"; CD: One Voice.

Nielsens: rank 28; rating 9.4.


An anguished Syd is forced to recall a repressed childhood memory of her late mother Lynda's flirtation with a neighbor while she nurses a dying elderly woman (guest star Eileen Ryan) who struggles to remain alive long enough to reconciliate with her arriving daughter. Elsewhere: Joanie poses as Syd at a pharmaceutical convention in order to get her sister some much-needed drug samples but winds up in jail with a gaggle of hookers; Robbie mistakenly ends up playing a serious game of cards with some mob wiseguys; and Jim turns the house upside down when he becomes obsessed with ousting a playful but evasive mouse.

Guest starring Eileen Ryan, Lawrence Pressman, Robert Guy Miranda, John Diresta, Nicky Corello, Julianne Christie, Heidi Mark, Chene Lawson, Perry Anzilotti, Kimiko Gelman.

Written by Tim Kring. Directed by Michael Fresco.

Music: Beth Nielsen Chapman "Say Goodnight"; CD: Beth Nielsen Chapman - Greatest Hits; Sand and Water.

Nielsens: rank 25 (tie); rating 9.2.

The GIFT #308

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Syd is concerned for an elderly woman (guest star Mary Alice) who stubbornly refuses to let her remove a growth from her throat that could prevent her from singing in her church choir as a Christmas concert nears, while Robbie enlists the help of a quirky department store elf (guest star Danny Woodburn) to find Christmas toys for deprived tots. When Syd tries to find the choir member's family, she encounters her suspicious teenaged granddaughter (guest star Mary Randall) who is estranged from her grandmother. Elsewhere, Joanie frets about an uncomfortable Burt's (Jon Hamm) commitment to their unborn baby.

Guest starring Mary Alice (Abby), Jon Hamm (Burt), Mary Randle, Samaria Graham, Kelly Perine, Wesley Thompson, Tony Armatrading and Danny Woodburn as Barnabus.

Written by Mike Kelley. Directed by Ian Toynton.

Music: Song for a Winter's Night by Gordon Lightfoot, performed by Sarah McLachlan; CD: Christmas Songs: The Nettwerk Christmas; Rarities, B-Sides And Other Stuff [IMPORT].

Nielsens: rank 29 (tie); rating 9.0.


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In a special two-hour Thanksgiving episode, the Hansens plan to spend the holiday apart but their kindness abounds as Syd shelters a lost Chinese girl (Chantine Akiyama) who got separated from her newly arrived but illegal immigrant parents while a despondent Joanie believes that she is pregnant again. Amid the fallen leaves and festive plans, Robbie befriends a sad homeless man (J.D. Souther) who was a star blues guitarist and gives him a boost with a gig at O'Neill's bar; Syd re-thinks her decision to spend Thanksgiving with John (Rob Estes) when his wealthy but meddling mother (Tippi Hedren) disapproves of her devotion to helping people; Jim tries to dodge the suggestive advances of a matron (Cristine Rose) who's got more than turkey on her mind while he treats a sick chimp from a circus -- and is surprised to discover they can communicate via sign language. Syd breaks up with John because she wants a different relationship -- one that doesn't include his mother.

Special guest star John David Souther (Dwayne). Guest starring Tippi Hedren, Jon Hamm (Burt), Cristine Rose, Kelly Perine, Calvin Jung, Robert Cicchini, Constance Zimmer, Meg Wittner, Brian Reddy, Bob Morrisey, with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John).

Written by Robert DeLaurentis and Elle Triedman. Directed by Michael Fresco.

Music: Forever Young performed by J.D. Souther.

Nielsens: rank 17; rating 10.4.


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Just as Syd's romance with her handsome physical therapist (Rob Estes) begins to bloom, she's dumbstruck to learn that his recent uneasy behavior is tied to his clandestine meetings with a beautiful blonde; Joanie and Burt (Jon Hamm) face more intimacy problems; Syd encounters a troubled teenaged skateboarder (Jeremy Lelliott) whose shell-shocked mother (Cynthia Ettinger) has been mistakenly giving him dosages of Ritalin; Robbie tries to steer his former enemy, Andi (Angela Featherstone) away from a severe courtroom sentence; and Jim treats a school's kidnapped goat mascot that's been covered with paint by pranksters.

Guest starring Angela Featherstone (Andi), Jon Hamm (Burt), Tippi Hedren, Ernie Sabella, Jeremy Lelliot, Cynthia Ettinger, Samaria Graham (Izzy), Bruce French, Grant Garrison, David Passer, with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John). Special appearance by Ed Begley, Jr. as Chuck Chance.

Written by Carol Barbee. Directed by Duane Clark.

Nielsens: rank 32 (tie); rating 9.2.


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Syd takes pity on a poor illegal immigrant boy (guest star Jacob Urrutia) with a severely cleft palate and arranges for pro bono surgery to correct the condition but she questions whether she can perform the procedure -- and learns a lesson from her buff physical therapist (guest star Rob Estes) even as their romance blossoms. Elsewhere, Robbie is frustrated in his attempts to help his former adversary Andi (guest star Angela Featherstone) who seems bent on her own destruction; Joanie's boyfriend Burt (guest star Jon Hamm) bravely undergoes important elective surgery; and Jim has a novel idea to help a man (guest star John S. O'Donohue) stop his chatty parrot from blabbing so much.

Guest starring Angela Featherstone (Andi), Jon Hamm (Burt), John F. O'Donohue (Henry), Ernie Sabella, Jose Yenque, Samaria Graham (Izzy), Doug Ballard, Andy Umberger, with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John).

Written by Rob Fresco. Directed by Greg Beeman.

Music: Jessica Schoenberg "In the Arms of Tomorrow"; CD: Humanisms.

Nielsens: rank 35 (tie); rating 8.6.

11.03.00 (R 03.09.01)

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At the request of her handsome physical therapist, Syd encourages a young aspiring ballerina to forgo her demanding career or risk permanent injury to her recovering ankle while Robbie takes pity on his jailed tormentor and offers to help when no one else will. Elsewhere in the Hansen household, Joanie is frustrated when her intimate romance with Burt stalls abruptly and turns to Syd for advice while Jim regrets enrolling his new puppy Fearless in a rigid obedience school run by a fearsome drill instructor.

Guest starring Angela Featherstone (Andi), Jon Hamm (Burt), Amy Adams (Rebecca), Diane Delano (B.J. Maximus), Ernie Sabella, Samaria Graham (Izzy), with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John).

Written by Ken LaZebnik. Directed by Tony Wharmby.

Nielsens: rank 28 (tie); rating 9.4.

10.27.00 (R 01.26.01)

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A "Survivor" spoof kicks off this installment, which finds Syd challenging her substitute doctor and Robbie seeking immunity as an alliance-crazed Andi plots to frame him for arson. As Halloween approaches, a recovering Syd fears she might have returned to work too soon when she prescribes a dose that almost kills a young girl, and what's more, she suspects that her substitute, Dr. Roberts, is crooked and is conspiring to take over the clinic -- and push her out the door. Robbie fares no better when he is suspected of arson, but a vindictive, maniacal game show producer who is actually responsible tries to blackmail him for big bucks in exchange for her testimony. Elsewhere, Syd seeks solace from her unorthodox physical therapist, Joanie's attempt to put some zest in her romance with Burt the fireman backfires during a Halloween costume party, and Jim is at a loss to understand why his own new puppy cannot learn anything.

Guest starring Angela Featherstone (Andi), Jon Hamm (Burt), Steven Culp (Dr. Roberts), Cecil Hoffmann (Nancy), Samaria Graham, Linda Gehringer, Ryan Cutrona, F. William Parker, with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John).

Written by Tim Kring. Directed by Ian Toynton.

Nielsens: rank 39; rating 8.5.

10.20.00 (R 01.19.01)

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In the season premiere, a weary Sydney finally arrives home from the hospital after enduring her bout with encephalitis and coma, but she's unsure about treatment recommended by a handsome, New-Age physical therapist and her lingering problems make her a threat when she gets behind the wheel. Elsewhere, Robbie is stalked and harassed by the furious, malevolent television producer of the game show on which he refused to obey her order to cheat. After taking care of so many others, Jim considers taking in a dog of his own.

Guest starring Angela Featherstone (Andi), Jon Hamm (Burt), Samaria Graham (Izzy), Cliff Bemis, Douglas Rowe, Michael Spound, Lorna Scott, with Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, and Rob Estes (John). FAQ: Hannah is played by Hope and Tess Cruickshank.

Written by Robert DeLaurentis. Directed by Michael Fresco.

Nielsens: rank 28; rating 9.3; 12.71 million viewers.


Filmed in Los Angeles and Providence, R.I., by John Masius Productions in association with NBC Studios. Starring: Melina Kanakaredes, Mike Farrell, Paula Cale, Seth Peterson, Concetta Tomei. Creator: John Masius. Executive producers: John Masius, Bob DeLaurentis, Michael Fresco. Co-executive producers: Tim Kring, Monica Wyatt. Supervising Producer: Ken LaZebnik. Producer: Kevin G. Cremin. Co-producers: Arturs Rusis, Robert Fresco. Music: Bennett Salvay and W.G. "Snuffy" Walden. Associate producer: Sarah A. Barkley. Executive story editors: Elle Triedman, Carol Barbee. Director of Photography: John R. Leonetti. Production Designer: Woody Crocker. Film editor: Robert Bramwell. Casting: Susan Bluestein, C.S.A.

Title music: The Beatles' " In My Life", performed by Chantal Kreviazuk.