what's in a name

Did You Know His Name Is Whiskey Cavalier?

It’s him, Whiskey Cavalier. Photo: Larry D. Horricks/ABC

If you watched the Oscars on Sunday night, or have watched any network television in the last few weeks, you might have noticed many ads for a show called Whiskey Cavalier. It’s a nifty little spy series that stars Scott Foley, a.k.a. Noel from Felicity, as an FBI agent, and it would be pretty unremarkable if not for the fact that it’s called Whiskey Cavalier, which is a funny pairing of words that gets funnier the more you repeat it. Whiskey Cavalier. Is this a description of a devil-may-care potable? Whiskey Cavalier. Or is it a drunk horseback-riding knight? Let me repeat: Whiskey Cavalier. Once more: Whiskey Cavalier. With feeling! Whiskey Cavalier.

This is all well and good, but having watched an episode of Whiskey Cavalier, let me complicate the picture a bit: Whiskey Cavalier is the guy’s name. Foley is playing an FBI agent named Will Chase (not that one) who goes by the call sign “Whiskey Cavalier.” He’s the cavalier! (Or maybe the whiskey, this is unclear.) The whole premise of the show is that he’s feeling beat up over getting dumped, and then he gets tangled up in an operation with Lauren Cohan’s CIA operative Frankie Trowbridge, who’s much more by -the book. She’s got her own call sign, which is “Fiery Tribute,” but despite the fact that the two of them are equals, Whiskey gets the title of the show to himself. Whiskey Cavalier: Starring Whiskey and a pal.

On Twitter, executive producer Bill Lawrence (who also created the ill-named Cougar Town) says the title is a relic of the fact that the show started as a Scott Foley vehicle before Lauren Cohan came aboard. Really, they could’ve split the names between them — Whiskey Cavalier starring Whiskey Chicago and Fiery Cavalier, or something — but it’s funnier that the title is off the mark from the show itself. “Whiskey Cavalier”: a collection of nice sounds so good they stuck with them, even though it’s only the name of one character in a two-lead show. It makes you long to know what other call signs they dreamed up but never used. What else might be cool as a name for a spy and also a hit show on ABC? Knighted LaRue? Eagle Rodgers? Frumious Bandersnatch? Toaster Electric? Bombalurina? The Good Doctor Starring Freddie Highmore?

Did You Know His Name Is Whiskey Cavalier?