"Family Business"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

"You belong to the ultimate family business."  That line from Tess to Monica isn't really one I can put on my quotes page.  Out of context it's just kinda nonsense.  But in this episode it's perfect.  I love the idea of the angels all as family, working together on God's business.  And we're part of that family, too!   This whole angel/human/God family idea has been big with me lately.

I really like Phil.  As a directionally impaired person, I'm glad to see that represented by an angel as cool as Phil!  :-)

Sing it with me!  "I get knocked down!  But I get up again!  You're never gonna keep me down!" Thanks TBAA for a look back at my high school years.  Ha!  Sure, it got played to death but I still bop my head when I hear "Tubthumping." 

"Covered dishes.  Now it's official."  That line from Dee Dee just really jumped out at me.  That sort of sarcastic, bemused remark is a lot how my family greets grief.  And it's true.  Death does bring out the covered dishes.  I always thought that was a stereotype but if it is... it's a true one.

"Imagine how it felt to love someone you don't understand.  And then to lose them... never really knowing them at all."  That quote from Monica hits me on a couple levels.  First, I think we've all lost people without knowing what we wanted to of them.  Then we grieve the loss of not only them as we knew them but also them that we never knew.  On a less serious level, it brought the Andrew and Monica debacle to mind for me.  I know it wasn't on Monica's mind but she basically experienced that.  She lost Andrew without ever really getting Andrew.  Makes me feel sad for them both.

I thought it was cool how Andrew's paper that he'd been carrying around ends up being how Buddy makes his way home.  Nifty.

While I was initially stunned by the father continuing to be angry even after he was blessed with a living son, I am glad that TBAA had the mother stand up to him and stick with Buddy.  Yay, mom!

The part where Monica bemoans how we don't celebrate a life until the person is dead makes me think of Waking Ned Devine.  It's a lovely Irish film in which one fellow actually gets to attend his funeral and hear his eulogy.  It's really beautiful.  Anyhow, Monica makes a good point as the eulogist in that film does.

"God wants you to cut it out."  Wow.  See, that's another great line that out of context just doesn't work.  But in context...  The way Phil says it so bluntly and powerfully to the father just really made me pause.  I like it when the angels were brazen with people who really needed to have sense knocked into them.

As for Phil, I continue to admire Dr. Cosby for being able to play this role not once but twice after his son's death.  It's difficult to watch him talk about how many fathers have prayed for more time and "saved up kisses and hugs" for sons they no longer have.  I can't imagine how hard it was to say it without breaking down.  But you know he means it, he knows it personally.  And that makes me take the message much more seriously.  And it makes me wish my dad and brother would watch this.

What I didn't love about this episode:
It's hard to watch the dad in this.  The way he turns even his son's funeral into a business deal.  Yikes...  And yet something about it rings true.  It seems like sometimes we don't take time to grieve and try to just plug it into our usual lives.  That doesn't work.  I can't say I've ever treated funeral costs as a business negotiation.  But I have tried to soldier on in my usual style when it was really not great for me to do so.  So this isn't a case of my disagreeing with how TBAA presents something.  Just a case of "so true, I feel uncomfortable watching it."

Really my only actual complaint (beyond the usual not enough Andrew) is that it just seems too neat that the driver in Buddy's car was a violent thief who Andrew later tells us was given a second chance but didn't take it.  Something about that just seems forced.  Like I can imagine the TBAA writers being like:
"But it wasn't their son and he walks into the funeral!" 
"Well, then who was in the car?" 
"I dunno.  Just some other person that borrowed the car, maybe." 
"But then the viewers might start worrying about that poor person's family."
"Well, then we'll say he was a car thief who threatened Buddy."

But I do still come away from this episode thinking some poor person's son is dead, they don't know, and meanwhile some other family has been making black humor toast jokes about him this whole time.

Lingering questions:
Didn't the family think it was odd that the funeral home lady and the musician were the same person (Tess)?  But then they seemed kinda disrespectful of the musicians.  They didn't even want them fed.  So it's highly possible they just saw Tess-the-musician as a blur.  (ETA: Tess was recognized.  See the last section.)

I wonder how much of this was written as a tribute to Ennis Cosby?  When Monica finishes the eulogy and reads the line about how "everyone was a friend" to Buddy, I automatically thought of how it had been said that Ennis greeted people with "Hello, friend."

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I love Andrew in hats.  He just looks so handsome and this is another clear winner!  Just too bad he doesn't get many scenes in this episode.  But the hat it worth watching this for (of course, there are other reasons)... and only because of who is wearing it.  I'm sure the hat sitting on an empty car seat would not have the same effect. 

I love how good Andrew is at talking to confused people... like Phil.  He doesn't get sucked into their concern.  He's just very calm, cool, and collected and makes ya feel like everything will be alright.  I want/need an Andrew.  It'd be nice if God just sorta paired them up with neurotic types like me.  :-)

And we have more of no-drama Andrew after the car dies.  He just takes it all in stride.  I love this guy.

So while I'm kinda bothered by the way the actual guy who died is dismissed, I'm glad Andrew was taking care of that aspect.  The TBAA writers could actually appease me on a lot just by saying Andrew was taking care of it.  Cause Andrew is awesome.

Random thoughts:
Music notes: "Still the One" by Orleans at the start of the episode during the car lot's big anniversary sale.  And yes... believe it or not... that is Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" playing in Buddy's car!  Tess' Society Trio plays soft jazz at the anniversary soirée.  There's some hard rock song playing in Buddy's car in a separate scene from the "Tubthumping" one.  Organ music plays in the mortuary both when the family goes to choose a casket and again during the funeral.  Some lady sings "The Old Rugged Cross" at the funeral.

This episode made me consider how many TBAA episodes deal with prodigal children.  "Reunion," "Full Circle," and the PL crossovers with Joe, "Children of the Night," to name some.  Of course, they had plenty of prodigal parents, too.

I almost entirely forgot this episode.  I remembered Phil being in it.  I remembered Andrew's hat.  And I knew it involved a family thinking their son was dead but that he appeared at the funeral.  I had no recollection of him having a wife!  And I was as taken aback as I likely was the first time I ever saw this when it was discovered that Buddy really was dying.  So this episode was virtually new to me!

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-The theme song seemed really sped up.  Possibly it is all the time on Hallmark but this time I really, really noticed it.  So that makes me think sometimes they speed up the intro when they need to gain a few seconds in an episode.
-After the police come to the family's residence, it goes to commercial.  When it comes back, Monica and Tess are outside the dealership.  Tess talks about how God sets plans then someone gets in a car drunk and throws it all off.  Phil is still MIA as far as they know so Tess says she'd like to wrap Phil's halo around his neck... nice.  Then it cuts to Andrew finding Phil.  Hallmark jumps from the police to Andrew finding Phil.
-After the Andrew and Phil scene, there's a scene of the Mangione women in the home.  They are dismayed cause Buddy never drank and drove that they knew.  DeeDee asks when they can cry, the mom says Mangiones don't cry.  Then the dad and Frankie arrive after viewing the body.  Pretty sure Hallmark jumps right to when the two men arrive.
-After that, the Mangione family is shown walking up to the funeral home.  The dad tells them to let him do all the talking.  Frankie *does* recognize Tess as the musician from the night before when she welcomes them in.  This is something I found suspicious (no one recognizing Tess)... turns out it's Hallmark's fault.  Tess explains that she was moonlighting.  Next, Tess and the family are seated.  She offers them support but the dad wants to jump right to "the numbers."  Then they view coffins.  Hallmark cuts right to them looking at coffins.

Further on down the road...
This may be a difficult one to watch now... but I am looking forward to John looking especially gorgeous in that hat.

All this talk about deals is making me think of Rumpelstiltskin.  I'll love Andrew best of all TV characters til the day I die, I think.  But Rumpel's probably my favorite current TV character... even if I do spend some episodes of Once Upon a Time daydreaming about John being a character in it...

Actually would have liked to have seen "Phil's Fabulous Four."  I wonder who the other three woulda been?

They switched out Chumbawumba.  Too bad. Na na na na na. Whoa. Uh.  That seems to be the lyrics to replacement tune...  Wow.

Oh yay...  Here he is!  Swoon...  I wanna get in the car...

I'm so not looking forward to the first time I have to do the whole mortuary thing.  I've been there when a loved one died.  I can do the visitations and the funerals.  But the whole business of dying...  Not sure I'll be able to cope well with that.

The dad's behavior is pretty awful but... "something with a lid on it" does seem sufficient.  I wish we could go back to those plain pine boxes that don't cost an arm and a leg.

Gah, the gallows humor is so my family.  I sometimes have to bite my tongue cause I know that's not how everyone copes and it can seem really awful.

Yeah... it's difficult.  I went for so long hoping, somehow, that John's death had just been some crazy misunderstanding.  It didn't even make sense after the first week or so.  But still...  I'm not even quite sure when I finally let that delusion go.

Still love Phil's big scene.  Dr. Cosby was amazing in his two episodes. 

Parts of the Buddy eulogy really do sound like John: the parts about seizing life, about seeing God in all. 

"God gave him the need to live and love as hard as he could, for as long as he could because God knew that He didn't have that long at all." 

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