Season 7

Episode 707: “The Empty Chair”

Episode 707: “The Empty Chair”
Original Air Date:November 19, 2000
Written by::Martha Williamson
Directed by:Jeff Kanew
Produced by:

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

Guest Cast:


Bud Baxter George Dzundza    
Betsey Baxter Tess Harper
Sheila   Anita Booher
Arnie   Dan Klass      


Bud and Betsy Baxter are in their fifteenth year hosting the popular local TV program “Breakfast with the Baxters” when they learn their show is being cancelled.  Still reeling from the loss, Bud and Betsy are grateful when two unexpected visitors (Monica and Andrew) show up on their doorstep, feigning car trouble.  Monica and Andrew become a welcome distraction for the Baxters, who have devoted their lives to their show and in doing so, have avoided dealing honestly with each other.  With a captive audience, Bud and Betsy take a certain glee in telling their guests the whole ugly story of how they were unceremoniously canned after 15 years.

Monica and Andrew try to convince the Baxters of the importance of grieving.  But Bud pours himself another Scotch while espousing the importance of carrying on.  Meanwhile, Betsy busies herself looking through some storage boxes for her mother’s meatloaf recipe when she comes across a baby’s jumper outfit — a painful remind of the child they “lost.”  But it’s not long before the truth comes out that they didn’t actually “lose” the baby, so much as they “cancelled” it — just like their show has been cancelled.  Rather than talk about it, Bud retreats to his rose garden to cover the roses from an expected frost.  Andrew joins Bud, who explains that the news of Betsy’s pregnancy came just as they got their big break to host their own TV program.  They ended up getting into an argument and rather than deal with it, he took off for a wedding they were supposed to attend together.  When he returned, the pregnancy had been terminated and neither of them brought up the subject again.

The argument comes to a head and in his usual flight response, Bud heads off in search of a suitcase.  Meanwhile, Monica helps Betsy sort through her feelings.  Betsy admits that she didn’t feel she had the right to grieve.  She thought they’d get their careers going and that the babies would come later.  Their inability to discuss their loss only fostered resentment which built up over the years.  Bud is getting ready to leave when Monica asks why they have no chairs around the dining room table.  Betsy explains how their first dinner together in their new home became so awkward because of the topic they were both avoiding.  Bud made up the excuse that the chairs weren’t comfortable in order to escape into the kitchen to eat alone, and dining room chairs are something they’ve done without ever since.

Bud is about to walk out on his marriage when Betsy urges him to fight to save their marriage.  Betsy then asks Monica to read a poem she wrote and had saved all these years.  In the poem, Betsy expresses her need to share her grief with Bud.  Bud apologizes and begins to break down the wall that had come between them.  Monica and Andrew reveal themselves as angels to deliver a message of forgiveness and the importance of including God in their decisions, in their lives and at their dinner table.  Dining room chairs appear at the table where they were not before, as Monica and Andrew leave Bud and Betsy to begin anew.

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