"A Clown's Prayer"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
I like how Tess totally buys into the circus feeling at the start.  We seldom get to see Tess being whimsical.  And, yes, that was a unicorn.  Although I really like goats so I woulda liked it either way.  :-)

Awww...  Peaches is adorable.  I'm totally not one of those people who think living with a primate is a good idea.  But when I see them hug someone like that... kinda makes me want one.  Again, even if it were legal I would *never* get one.  I'd like to think that in Heaven we can hang out with whatever animals we want and nothing bad or scary or disrespectful will ever happen.

It's very cute how, without speaking, Andrew and Tess are completely on the same wavelength regarding Monica as a clown.  I like cute Andrew and Tess moments.  I don't think I ever fully got over his not having a mother.  I mean I know he does.  God is both Mother and Father.  But like one that's physically around to hug.

"Lord, help me to create more laughter than tears... more happiness than gloom... more cheer than despair.  Never let me fail to see the wonder in a child's eyes.  Never let me forgot than I am a clown.  Amen."  The Clown's Prayer as recited by Leroy.  I think there are a couple variations but I really like that one.

This episode seems especially poignant in light of all the school bullying stories.  And it really shows, via Leroy, how the impact can last all life long.

The thing about this episode is that while Davey and Leroy have special circumstances, a lot of their issues have equivalent in most if not all parent/child relationships.  There generally comes a day when the kid doesn't wanna be seen hugging their parents in public.  And it seems to me that we also, at one point or another, begin to feel like we need to protect our parents.  I think this is a good example of an episode that, on the surface, seems to have little to do with the average TBAA fan's life (never met a fan who was in the circus) but when you watch it, there's a lot to relate to.

"Lying is never the answer.  You can only juggle the truth for so long."  A quote from Andrew.  Okay, occasionally lying is the answer, IMO.  But those occasions are pretty rare.  (Like the famous example is if you lived in Nazi Germany and were asked if you knew where any Jews were hiding and you did... a truthful answer would not be a moral one.)  But in every day life, I agree with that quote.  But I wish it were that easy.  Sometimes I feel like I'm not so much juggling a truth but several truths and it can be hard to know which to... drop?

The teacher in this is very sweet.  I wish I had the strength to do foster care eventually.  I love how she told Leroy that kids never grow out of needing love.  And her Abraham Lincoln quote was very well-chosen.  I wish I could pull quotes on a whim like that.

I'm in agreement with some people that PCness can go overboard.  However, I can't completely dismiss a movement that taught us not to use words like "midget."  I'm glad TBAA stressed that it's NOT a word to use.

I admire Mary Jane for trying to see beyond Eddie's cruel behavior and into his painful home life.  I'm not sure I coulda at that age.  Just been angry.

"I think 'I' should be spelled 'w-e.'"  Ha!  I love that quote from Tess when the circus guy tries to claim full credit for pulling the event together.  It might be a good one to use!

This episode is really well distributed between the three angels.

Okay, *this* is an awesome revelation scene.  I love how you don't see Monica start glowing.  Instead you see Leroy's reflection in the mirror start to reflect the light.  That is way more compelling since they usually start with a shot of the angel.  It's beautiful.  Good work camera people and director!  The way Monica shows up in the three mirrors is also nifty.  Especially since she looks normal... truthful.  The illusions are gone.

"God doesn't make mistakes."  From Monica to Leroy.  Good to remember.

"When you are patient, when you are kind, when you turn your back on anger... you reflect the character of the One who made you."  Another Monica quote from that scene.  Beautiful.

God laughs.  Cool thing to think about.  It's right up there with "Jesus wept."  I like to think that, being the shortest Bible verse, the Spirit chose that one to stand out.  So we would always remember that God is not emotionless.  He's not the clockmaker God.  He feels for us and with us.  It's a wonderful idea whether we think of laughter or tears.

I like how Monica stresses that Leroy needs to see the worth in himself before his son will.  That's so true and why good self-esteem is so important.  One thing that I try to do (and sometimes fail at) is not begin sentences with "I know this is probly a stupid idea but..."  You can't denigrate yourself and then expect others to not follow suit.  It's a hard, hard thing to master.

Ha.  I love that Tess gets her moment and shows that bratty circus owner that she so can be a cannonball.

What I didn't love about this episode:

Thanks, Monica, for putting the kibosh on my belief in unicorns...  ;-) 

It's so sad when Davey ditches Mary Jane...  Kids can be cruel.  But the disloyal even if not outright cruel ones may just hurt more, I think.

Eddie and his ilk would be in for some major punishments when they got home if they were mine...  I'm not sure what it would be.  Definitely an apology.  In person.  And then maybe having to help Leroy with chores.  I just hope I wouldn't lash out at them with something like "And how would you feel if I said you're a twerp and a snot!" 

Lingering questions:
I wonder how actual clowns feel about stuff like It?  Are they just like "Whatever!" or does the stereotype bother them?  Cause Leroy is so proud of his job.  Makes me think he'd be bothered by the scary clown motif.

I wonder if some of the series like those on TLC have helped people with dwarfism be more accepted?  It's unimaginable to me that, as Leroy and his wife feared, a child would be taken away from them.  Crikey.

Why do ringmasters kinda look like jockeys?  Where did that traditional look come from?  Is there a connection?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew's such a dork.  I love him.  Just wish Tess hadn't made him feel bad after his fun with the mirrors.  And clearly he's read or seen "Snow White."  Yay for fairy tales!

That bully is right.  Andrew looks cool.  And he *is* cool.  Even when he's nerdy.

It's so sad when Davey claims Andrew is his dad.  How hurtful to Leroy.  But then it makes me sad cause Andrew can never have someone to "grow up to be just like him."  Sigh...  Yeah, for all my talk it's probly good I don't know any AODs.  That's an angst-fest waiting to happen.

I love how Andrew interacts with Davey.  He makes him face up to what he did: disown his father publicly, basically.  But he comes from such a compassionate place.  It doesn't seem lecture-like.  But he makes Davey see that he's actually very blessed with a loving dad.

Very cool that Andrew does a background check on Mrs. Donovan.  That guy is with it!

Hee!  He's so animated and loud when he starts the circus.  Some of those shots are really cool and dramatic looking, too.

Random thoughts:

Music:  You can hear circus pipe organ music at, natch, the circus.

The name of the circus here is "The Grazeldi Circus."  Just something that seems like good trivia.

I remember wanting to join the circus.  But then I broke my arm on the trapeze in my parents' backyard.  Nevermind on that dream!  ;-)  I don't even see now how it ever appealed.  I don't love traveling cause I'm a homebody.  And I hate sequins and skimpy outfits.

Ha!  I just saw some guy using a Chinese yoyo like Davey does in class. He was at the Ren Faire, though, not a circus.

Aww.  Mary Jane's side braids remind me of how I used to wear my hair in grade school.

I never knew about that surgery for dwarves before this episode.  Terrifying.  I wonder if it's even allowed to be practiced anymore?

This episode made me want to watch U2's video for "All I Want is You."  Gah, that's a depressing but gorgeous video.

Surprising that Tess has never seen The Wizard of Oz.  Wow.  Can't imagine that!

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-After the scene of Andrew dropping off Davey's lunch, the next segment opens with the trio in the Hall of Mirrors.  Andrew says that he doesn't think Davey meant to hurt his dad.  Monica agrees, citing his love for him.  Tess says that this is what makes the situation so human.  She goes onto say that when love gets mixed in with shame, guilt, and fear then everything gets distorted.  Meanwhile, Monica has decided that she doesn't like the Hall because there are tons of reflections but none look like her.  Tess says that's what it's like to be 12 (and a teenager and even a twentysomething, I would add.)  She says that Davey is at the age where he looks at the world and the world looks back.  That's why he doesn't want the kids laughing at him and, thus, Tess tells Andrew that's why Davey lied about him being his father.  Monica asks Andrew what he's going to do.  He just kinda tilts his head, thinking and looking concerned.  Then it cuts to the elephant scene which is where the THC version starts.  (Note: Andrew has the same outfit on in the elephant scene as in this cut one.)

-So I apparently came back from commercial late when I recorded this episode.  The segment following Davey running away begins with an outside shot of Leroy's trailer.  He says "to the circus, not runaway from it."  I would assume the full quote was "Kids are supposed to want to runaway to the circus, not runaway from it" or something like that.  I don't think I missed much as it seems unlikely they woulda showed an outside view of the trailer for more than a few seconds.  Plus, I seldom came back from commercial more than a few seconds late.  Monica then says "Parents have arguments with children..." which is where THC starts.  So unless I uncharacteristically failed to record a lot, I think THC seriously cut like 10 seconds from the start of that scene.  I wonder if it was even worth the effort...

-And THC cut off the top of the next segment, too.  It begins with a pan of the circus site.  You can see acrobats practicing, a juggler on stilts, etc.  Monica and Tess come into view.  Monica tells Tess that Davey's not there and that Leroy hasn't come out of his trailer all day.  Tess explains that Davey misses his father but can't face him or his friends and they're all going to be present that night.  Monica wistfully notes that Davey just wanted to be part of that world but Tess adds that it's a shame he felt he had to give up the circus world to do it.  Tess then grins and... next we see a waist down shot of Andrew walking.  In his goofy ringmaster pants.  And the nice white shirt.  As he approaches she says "Ooh hoo, Angel Boy, that's what I call flare."  He smiles, kinda embarrassed, and says "Yeah, well, my boots are killing me."  (Must kill boots...)  Then you hear the cannon go off and they all turn towards it.  Andrew explains that they're testing the cannon.  He then asks if they've seen Leroy cause Wally wants to talk to him.  Monica asks "What about?"  They all look troubled and then Andrew says "What do you think?"  Then it cuts to the schoolyard with the boys skateboarding.  This is where THC starts.

-After Leroy runs away from the cannon, Wally freaks out and starts yelling
"Send in the clowns!"  They pour out onto the arena.  He yells at Tess that he needs a human cannonball.  She yells back "I'm working on it!" There are several shots of the crowd booing.  Andrew runs to Tess and asks what he's supposed to do as people are going crazy.  Tess tells him that they need a human cannonball and he frowns and says "In your dreams!"  It's hilarious.  She then puts a red nose on Andrew and tells him to go back out there and keep em busy.  Andrew tears it off, looking ticked, and says "You have got to be kidding!"  Tess, ticked herself, puts the nose back on and says "Don't you mess with me!"  And Andrew, still not happy but obedient, stalks back onto the arena.  And drat it all!  I want screencaps of this!  It then shows Leroy in the Hall of Mirrors, tearing off parts of his costume and throwing them.  He runs from mirror to mirror, looking in them, and shouts "Noooo!"  Then it goes to Davey returning and shouting for his dad which is where lame THC starts.  Once I get some more DVD-R's I may need to put this VHS version on DVD then take screencaps from that.

Further on down the road...
Watching this from the comfort of my couch.  Needed a break from the computer room where I usually watch these.

I want cotton candy...  May as well go start eating some sugar right outta the bag.  Sigh...  Sometimes I miss having no concept of healthy eating.

"Family doesn't walk out on family!"  I like that quote from Leroy. 

It's nice that Andrew and Tess had that moment of knowing just what the other was thinking in regards to Monica making for a good clown.  And, yeah, I think I still have "mom issues" concerning Andrew.

Yay!  "Sometimes when God closes a door, He opens a tent flap," was on my list of quotes people wanted on my TBAA quote page but I didn't know the episode.  My mind kept going to "Written in Dust" but it's this episode!

Yep, I still remember wearing my hair like this little girl!  The pigtails with terrycloth ponytail holders at intervals.  I wonder if there's a name for that style?

Not ten minutes in and already I want to watch that U2 video again.

It'd be weird to hear some kid refer to you as their parent when you most definitely are not.  Ironically, I think if the truth were out, Davey would get teased more for having an AOD for a dad than he's teased for his dad having dwarfism.

Sigh...  I miss bake sales.  Sadly, I think they may be a dying tradition between allergies and being health conscious.  Gosh.  I sound anti-health today.  I'm not.  Eating healthy is good and yummy.  But so is a sweet now and then.

Monica and I do agree on something.  For now.  I do believe most people are good and most people are hopeful.  That *is* the real world to me.  I wish she'd always stuck with that.  Then maybe I coulda ended the show with a little more trust in the character.  But "Netherlands" did me in on the Monica front.

I saw a Lifetime movie once in which the actress playing Mrs. Donovan was a crazed wacko who murdered a girl.  So every time I watch this episode, I think she's gonna kidnap Davey or something.  Ha. 

I wonder what this surgery was that Lorraine died from?  Maybe it was just a completely unexpected complication.  If the surgery itself truly is that risky, I can't imagine how it would be permitted.

Andrew does look awful nice in those boots...  But I do think those kinds of pants are pretty goofy. 

The history behind the phrase "send in the clowns" lends new meaning to the Sondheim song.  Don't look at me while I'm upset...

I love that first shot of Andrew in full ringmaster regalia.  It's so dramatic.

Ha.  I love the way Andrew says "In your dreams!" and "You have got to be kidding!" when Tess first brings up the human cannonball and then puts the clown nose on him.  He's a cute clown! 

It's weird to me that Monica just smiles when Leroy tells her that it hurts to look at her.

Technically Tess isn't a *human* cannonball...  Close enough.  ;-)

Okay, Andrew does say "ya."  "I didn't know ya had it in ya."  Good.  I was using that in writing but couldn't think of a TBAA example.  Twice in one sentence at the end here. 

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