When She's Asleep, She Looks Like An Angel

Years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, I went to psychoanalyst four times a week.

When She's Asleep She Looks Like An Angel[1]
Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank
52 minutes
Preceded by: A Pact With God
Followed by: A Kiss Is Just A Kiss

When She's Asleep, She Looks Like An Angel is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress in 1985.


Joe sees a psychiatrist who specializes in children, her only adult patient. Her husband teaches Jewish history. He dies; Joe attends his funeral. 23rd psalm in background. Joe becomes obsessed with his corpse, won't talk about it in therapy, takes a diplomatic post in Africa.[1]

9: A little girl (his daughter?) dotes on Joe - 'Sometimes when I'm stretched out on the sofa she'll climb up on top of me and fall asleep on my chest... When she's asleep she looks like an angel...'

11: On California Highway 1[2], on a cliff above the water, an unemployed carpenter and his girlfriend, Carla, a forensic serologist in the medical examiner's office, find an abandoned handbag. They drive to the nearest place with a phone, a restaurant, call the cops, wait for them to arrive.

28: 23rd psalm in background.

29: The little girl again - 'She likes me to make up stories, sitting before the piano...'

30: 'Yesterday a woman called...' who wants a lawyer. Joe can't help. She wants him to call back. She wants him to tell her a number that was special to her. Joe thinks about that. We hear him talking to himself, saying numbers.

33: When he was a boy, falling asleep, Joe tortured himself with fantasies of making awful decisions.[3]

35: While Joe was living in a fancy building as a boy, Pat, one of the staff, was caught having snuck into their apartment, was fired.

37: Interview on public television with Holocaust survivor.[4]

38: Joe's friend George who has trouble crying.

42: Marshall gets drunk at Caroline's Christmas party, laments the deaths of trees.

43: Joe picks up a hitchhiker in Montana who tells him of 40-foot tall Jesus.

44: Joe wanders a corridor at a college, overhears a graduate assistant lecturing about limits of human intelligence.

45: Joe drives one night on route 5, stops at a gas station, hears people clapping and singing, then a preacher. The station attendant is the same person lecturing in the segment above. Joe attacks him.

47: 23rd psalm in background.

48: The little girl again - 'Every Thursday evening I take her on my rounds. We drive to the homes of families I've photographed...' Joe brings lovers home, takes their pictures.

51: Joe says more numbers.

Legacy Synopsis

Joe sees an analyst, contemplates the elevator man, becomes obsessed with the analyst's dead husband. The lord's prayer read against a funk background. Description of a girl who lives with Joe, looks like an angel. Joe and a girlfriend find an abandoned purse above seaside cliffs, call the police, wait in the restaurant. Carla tells Joe about crime in a forensics lab, a prison guard is burned with a cigarette while at a restaurant. Description of an overweight, former rape victim delivering a dance-a-gram for the lab chief. While waiting in the restaurant, Joe washes his hands, imagines blood coming from the spout. He discovers the found bag belongs to Carla, runs from the police and down toward the sea. A stranger calls Joe at work, asks him to recommend a lawyer and choose a number. Lying in bed and fantasizing about horrible choices involving torture of others. Blue collar workers in the apartment building of Joe's childhood and an elevator-man turned burglar. An interview with a holocaust survivor turned reformed hoodlum. A man, who wants to cry but cannot, fails to confront a drunk who harasses his date. A man at a party talks about crucified Christmas trees. A hitchhiker talks about a 40 foot tall Jesus. A man delivers a lecture on the limits of human knowledge, is assaulted by Joe at a gas station. The girl travels with Joe the photographer, hears him making love to his subjects. A list of random numbers.


Shared material

Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "Technical production by Tom Strother. Music by Sonic Images."


After attending his psychiatrist's husband's funeral, Joe says he went to see a movie, 'The film was about an unhappily married man, trapped in a boring and unsatisfying career, who contracted to stage his own death so that he could begin a new life as someone else. But his Faustian bargain, played out in another part of the country, turned into a nightmare.'

A scholar at jfwiki.org suggests it's 'Seconds'


  1. Joe tells a somewhat-different version of this story in No Angel.
  2. Joe says US 1, but must mean California 1; he makes the same mistake in Dear Annie
  3. Joe re-uses this segment in Journal and Higher Learning.
  4. Joe uses a modified version of this story in Philosophy