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Early Treatment

This was an early draft of a treatment in which I was working out the story. You’ll recognize a few story beats that track through every step of the story development, but you’ll also see how little of this wound up in the final script. Almost none of the final story is here yet, but a lot of this exploration supports the subtext of the ultimate story and if I didn’t write this version I couldn’t have gotten the notes that got me to the next version.

"No Fat"

When Marie learns she has dangerously high cholesterol, she must change her eating habits. Despite that lowering her cholesteral may extend Marie's life span, Ray is supportive until he discovers that this new diet will affect his Thanksgiving dinner

Frank has let the medical insurance lapse and now he and Marie have to have a medical check up in order to reinstate it. The doctor discovers that Marie's cholesterol is dangerously high and prescribes a low fat diet for her. If she gets her cholesteral down he can lower their insurance premiums. Frank is all for this. The doctor complements Frank on his attitude. Marie needs a lot of support from her family. Since Marie cooks primarily by tasting, the doctor thinks cooking anything she can't eat would be impossible for her. Too difficult. Like an alcoholic can't have one drink, Marie can't have a taste or she'll never be able to keep on the diet.

Marie starts a new dietary regime: no meat, no oils, no sugar, no pasta, bread or pastry. Basically she's eating oat bran muffins, lettuce with lemon juice and eight glasses of water. Debra offers Marie her lemon chicken recipe as it perfectly fits her diet. This galls Marie, to think of Debra planning her meals. Frank Robert and Ray aren't too happy about the prospect either.
Frank is keeping a close eye on every bite Marie eats. No cheating. He wants to get that insurance saving. Marie is cranky from hunger and missing all her favorite foods and Frank on her back all the time is making her mood worse.

Ray and Debra are making their Thanksgiving plans. Of course they will be spending the day with Marie and Frank and Robert, especially since there's no competition with Debra's family this year. Warren and Lois are going to be in Jamaica that week.

Marie is torn about making her traditional Thanksgiving feast. She doesn't think she can cook without tasting. Debra realizes how difficult it would be for Marie to be surrounded by all that forbidden food and suggests they divide up the cooking.

Marie serves the first healthy meal. It is boring bland and there's very little of it. Snack foods have been reduced to dried apricots and rice cakes. Frank decides he would rather have a short life with fat in it, but Marie is determined.

Debra is encouraging and offers Marie her lemon chicken reclpe, it's very low fat. For some reason, even lemon chicken is much better when Marie makes it.

Dieting is not enough, they have to exercise too. Ray who suqqests a few. Marie wants to do yoga because you barely move, in fact it seems to be mostly lyinq down and breathinq. Frank rejects Rays suggestions. Frank will do his own routine, the calisthenics he used to do in the Army. As Marie and Frank in sweats start their routines, Ray writes about old fat people exercising. He titles it "A Different Kind of Weiqht Lifting"

\Frank goes out for a "jog. " Marie is proud of him. Frank joqs till he's out of siqht and, as prearranqed, Ray picks him up and they drive to Nemo's. Robert, Ray and Frank prepare to eat some real food. But Marie is way ahead of him, she has called Nemo and insisted that he only serve Frank a salad - no pasta, no pizza, no cheese, no breadsticks. Nemo encourages Frank to stay on his diet. In fact Nemo himself has been dietinq. He's lost fifty pounds and is proud to be "wearing pants I had in high school," which is pretty surprisinq since he's still huqe. Ray uses Nemo’s example to keep Frank on his diet.

After a week they have a weiqh-in ceremony. Frank has lost two pounds, cheers. Robert has been on night shift duty this month and the leftovers have been meaqer so he's lost five pounds and he wasn't even trying, everyone cheers. Marie qets on the scale and her weiqht is exactly the same, she has not lost even one pound. Ray tries to be encouraqinq and points out that she hasn't qained any weiqht so that's weight she won't have to lose. Not a help.

Marie is discouraqed not to mention hunqry! She can't stick to her diet. At two in the morning she sneaks down to the kitchen and starts cooking a pot of angel hair spaghetti. It's the fastest thing she can think of to cook

Ray is working on his fat old people column late at night in the basement. He hears someone in the kitchen. He hopes it's Debra, but he takes a baseball bat just in case. As he goes upstairs he hears scuffling, he calls out a warning. "You want to get outta here, my brother's a cop." The microwave timer dings. What kind of intruder cooks? It's Marie defrosting some spaghetti sauce in Debra's microwave. Marie doesn't have a microwave and it would take too long on the stove. She wants to eat now! She's embarrassed to have Ray catch her breaking her diet. Ray assures his mom that she doesn't need to starve herself to be healthy. Ray will join her in a plate of pasta. Frank has woken up and seeing a light on in Ray and Debra's kitchen, he comes over looking for Marie. He's thrilled to find pasta being made. Marie throws more spaghetti in the pot. Debra is awakened and comes down. Again Marie throws more spaghetti in the pot.

Robert and Judy are on duty and have been cruising the neighborhood. He was alarmed by lights so late at night and he and Judy come in to see what's wrong. This is not his beat, why was he cruising their neighborhood. Robert admits that it's out of his assigned area, but when he's on the night shift he always drives past their houses during his 2:30AM break, just to check.
Marie throws more spaghetti in the pot. Everybody eats Even Ray is supportive although losing weight means his parents may live longer.

Read the Final Treatment