Writing Tools

Final Treatment

There were numerous rewrites of the treatment between the early version and this final version. This draft is essentially a scene by scene outline which I followed when writing the script. (A more formal outline would include sluglines at the beginning of each scene.) You’ll see that this version tracks closely with the ultimate script. The arc and flow of the story are in place, the beats of the story are sharp, and specifics are established.

"No Fat"

Ray is upset when the traditional family Thanksgiving at the Barones is threatened because Marie goes on a diet to lower her high cholesterol.

Thanksgiving is coming. Debra would like to have spent it with her parents this year but they will be in Kuala Lumpur. Ray and Debra will be spending the holiday at Frank and Marie's as usual.

Ray stops at Marie and Frank's. The argument du jour is about Frank letting his medical insurance lapse so he and Marie have had to get checkups to reinstate it. They got the results today and both of their cholesterol counts are dangerously high. The doctor has recommended a low fat diet. If they get their cholesterol down they can pay lower insurance premiums. Ray encourages them, even though getting their cholesterol down may help them live longer.
Marie has started the new dietary regime. She gives Frank an ice cream sandwich to taste. He likes it. Then she confesses that it was tofutti. Frank now hates it and refuses to do the diet. Marie insists he stay on it. Franks argues that he doesn't need to because his cholesterol is much I lower than hers. Marie scoffs; it's only one point lower.

Frank insists that one point is a big deal in cholesterol. Marie is sick of trying to convince Frank; if he wants a heart attack let him have it. Marie agrees to make him whatever he wants, but she is not going off her diet. As she delights in lording her superior will power over him, she realizes that she can't cook without tasting. In order to keep on her diet, she is going to have to get rid of all the food she usually has in the house. Disgusted with Marie, Frank calls Nemos to order calzones and a meatball pizza with extra cheese.

Marie, now the new, hip, forward thinking and healthy Marie, is proud of sticking to her new diet but concerned about what to do for Thanksgiving. Ray is stunned to hear that Marie's diet is going to affect his Thanksgiving dinner. Debra encourages Marie and gives her a low fat diet magazine which features a Thanksgiving menu. It suggests tofu turkey. Marie is excited. That's what she'll make! Ray is devastated; he thought for sure his mom would make an exception for Thanksgiving. Ray blames Debra for ruining his mother's Thanksgiving feast by encouraging this horrible diet.

It’s Thanksgiving and everyone gathers at the Barone house. Behind Marie’s back the men bemoan the fact that there is no turkey with sausage stuffing, no glazed ham, no mashed potatoes and gravy, no yams with marshmallows, no creamed onions, no corn bread, no pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Instead there is a tofu turkey, a tofu ham, tofu dressing, a green salad, steamed vegetables, and for dessert, some grapes. Mmmmm. Debra encourages the men to be supportive. They feign excitement about how real the tofu turkey looks. Just as they sit down to this disappointing meal, the doorbell rings. A delivery person brings in a complete Thanksgiving feast. Marie is horrified and overdramatizes demanding to know who is trying to kill her.


Marie accuses Frank of ordering this food. Frank protests. He would like to kill her, but he didn't order this food. It's probably a mistake. Frank checks the address, and in fact it is a mistake. This delivery was suppose to go to Ray Barone. Now Marie is really hurt. It’s not her husband who wants to kill her, it’s her son! Debra is appalled, why would he do this? Ray guiltily admits it was just a little something for later. Everybody wants to eat the restaurant meal but Debra starts packing it up and has the, delivery guy take it across the street to their house.

In the kitchen, Debra gets on Ray for doing such a horrible thing to his mother. Debra insists that Ray stop thinking only of himself--radically changing your diet is a very difficult thing to do and he owes it to Marie to be supportive. Even if Ray doesn't like what Marie is doing, it's important to her and Ray should support her. Ray and Debra return to the table. Ray attempts to make peace with his mom. He gives a sincere speech about how he was wrong not to support her efforts to stay on her healthy diet. Now they all eat the dinner Marie has worked so hard to prepare. It's a glum Thanksgiving.

That night, Ray and Debra are in bed when Debra thinks she hears something. Ray tiptoes downstairs.

The only light in the kitchen is coming from the microwave which is heating something. What kind of intruder cooks? Ray turns on the light to reveal Marie with a turkey leg and a piece of pecan pie. Ray is shocked. What's she doing off her diet. Marie drops a large slab of butter onto the mashed potatoes and proclaims that she'd rather live a shorter life but a happier one. Ray can support that and is only too happy to join her. Debra comes looking for Ray. Finding him eating in the kitchen with Marie, even Debra gives in and admits she's dying for some traditional fare. She helps herself. Frank comes over looking for Marie. He's thrilled to find them chowing down and joins in.

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. Even though this is not their beat, Robert admits that when he's on the night shift he always swings by their houses just to check. Robert and Judy join in the feast. The kids wake up and join them, too. It may be midnight, but the Barones are finally having their Thanksgiving dinner. They all agree that more than family, more than even football, what really makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is the food. If Ray hadn't placed that order, they wouldn't have had Thanksgiving. Debra points out that this is the first time Ray has made Thanksgiving for his family. Ray experiences a moment of pride, but sincerely hopes his mother will be off her diet next year.

Marie's cholesterol has not gone down. Marie admits that she cheated on her diet on Thanksgiving. The doctor brushes this off--everybody goes off their diet on Thanksgiving. Frank's cholesterol has not gone down either, but he feels triumphant anyway because they both wound up in the same place, only he didn't have to suffer eating lettuce and rice cakes. The doctor advises that besides diet, managing stress is a big factor in lowering cholesterol. If there is anything particularly stressful in their lives they should try to eliminate it. Frank blames Marie, Marie blames Frank.