Season 3

Episode 322: “Missing In Action”

Episode 322: “Missing In Action”
Original Air Date:April 13, 1997
Written by::Rosanne Welch & Christine Pettit
Directed by:Tim Van Patten
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
George Zarko  Darren McGavin
Lorraine McCully  Gwen Verdon 
Stephanie Hancock   Christina Pickles

George Zarko, a.k.a. the “Colonel,” sits on a park bench watching kids play war. Monica thinks her assignment is to help the elderly Army veteran find the joy of living. But Tess responds that what he really needs is to be understood. She gives Monica’s swing a push… and the caseworker’s human form transforms into that of an 80-year old woman. Entering the retirement home where George lives, Monica meets him and Stephanie Hancock, the officious Nurse Director. Tess, the volunteer Activities Coordinator, persuades Stephanie to use pet therapy to alleviate the patients’ loneliness, while George grouses to Andrew, the facility’s cook, that a resident has recently died and no one seems to care.

Monica inadvertently inspires the veteran to rebel by lowering the flag to half mast. Irate, Stephanie plans to kick him out of the retirement home. But the caseworker intercedes on George’s behalf, vowing to be responsible for him. This selfless act endears Monica to him, and Tess warns her to be wary of how close she gets to the man. The supervisor’s suspicions are validated when he makes a pass at the angel. Matters worsen when Lorraine McCully, Monica’s new roommate, attempts to play matchmaker for the would-be couple. Despite Stephanie’s orders, Tess unlocks the piano in the social hall so Lorraine can entertain the residents. Wary of George’s affection for her, the caseworker agrees to dance with him but gets winded. Stephanie is furious that Tess disobeyed her and demands the piano key back.

Meanwhile, Andrew tends to Monica, who now understands the frailty of the human heart. Lorraine also frets over her friend and recalls the heartbreak when her husband was declared “Missing in Action.” Monica has a talk with George during which she reverts to her younger form. He hastily exits, but she finds him the next day back in the park. Though discouraged that the angel cannot return his affection, George is convinced to share the truth about his past. He publicly confesses that he was not an Army colonel but a cook. Lorraine, realizing that he served with her late husband, Jimmy produces a letter in which he praises George’s cooking. The veteran, in turn, is able to tell Lorraine how her husband died–sacrificing his life to save others, including George. As a content Lorraine plays the piano, Tess prompts Stephanie to admit she locked it up because it reminded her of a father who stopped letting her take music lessons.

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