"Flights of Angels"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
First, I think the guest cast is amazing in this.  I was especially struck by Linda Purl as Sally.  She did strength and vulnerability meshed together very well.  How could your heart not go out to this character in all the moments she quietly and calmly smiles and then flees to let her emotions out in private?  And Gregory Harrison is equally great as Richard.  I really noticed it in the basketball scene and he just got better from there.  Watching him struggle to hide his condition from his sons... wow. 

Excellent use of dream sequences, IMO.  I'm generally a sucker for them, anyway, but seeing a healthy Richard playing with his
sons while hearing Billie Holiday's "Stars Fell on Alabama" was poignant.  I also liked how a later dream reveals to him that one painting survived the fire.

For some reason I really like how Tess was introduced.  Kinda makes ya wonder who might be around the next time ya visit an art gallery...

In general, I think this is one of the most emotionally effective TBAAs.  And it's written/produced that way.  Often I get really emotional about a subtext that myself or fellow JABBers bring up.  But this needs no subtext to get to one's heart. 

I thought the Matisse story that Sally tells was a great addition.  It reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss' monologue about Beethoven in Mr. Holland's Opus.  The fact that we later see Andrew bind a paintbrush to Richard's hand so he can finish his boys' dreambooks really tied that early scene in so well.

The closing scene when we learn Richard's gift has been passed onto John Henry... awesome ending.

What I didn't love about this episode:
There's nothing I totally disliked.  I did think the first scene with the angels was a little tense but not in a bad way.  Just kinda
intriguing.  But this could all just be me adding non-existent subtext.  It just kinda seemed like it was a Monica and Tess conversation and they expected Andrew to just go along but he wasn't!  Like he was supposed to be the yes man but ended up being more a "Yes, but..." man.  Like Monica said saying good bye  was difficult, Andrew counters that not saying good bye is more difficult.  Tess tries to clue Andrew in on Richard not going easily, Andrew acts like "Well, duh, he's an artist!"  The dynamics were just interesting.

Not a big fan of Monica's comments to John Henry and George after the former asks if Richard is going to die.  You could tell she was about to say something and so I was geared up for something comforting but her telling them that eventually everyone's daddies go to Heaven and that their daddy's time was soon just didn't do it for me.  However, she did end on an upswing with adding that Richard would run in Heaven.

Lingering questions:
Why does TBAA have so much music you can't find anywhere?!?  That "Follow Your Dreams" song while Richard is painting sounds great!  I have a feeling the TBAA writers wrote it since lyrics from it appear in one of the TBAA quote calendars.  Why didn't they put it on the soundtrack!?!?  Who is it singing?!?!

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I think there needs to be a more serious equivalent to swoony.  Cause, to me, swoony implies a certain light-heartedness that I don't feel with this episode.  But there were definitely some attracting moments with Andrew like:

When he tells Richard that he's "ready to help you every step of the way," it's so perfectly angelic a reply and the look on his face as he says it...  It makes me want to *know* AODs exist.

Another moment is when Andrew says, to Richard but too quietly for him to hear, "Yes, my friend, some human beings are overwhelming."  His tone seems a bit huskier than usual and I just want to hug him.

Andrew's poetic prayer to God... stunning.  And in one of my only goofy moments viewing this, I wanted to know what was wrong with his neck.  Cause Andrew just shouldn't have to put up with a stiff neck on top of everything else!

I'm just awed by Andrew for every moment of the good bye scenes.  The way he lifts Richard's youngest son so the man can kiss him...  The way he helps Richard from room to room.  And then, finally, his last line: "Let's walk together."  It was all so perfect and, again, makes me want to know AODs exist and are that compassionate and gentle and strong.

Random thoughts:
The good bye scene is always both devastating and inspiring.  But watching Richard say good bye to his dog as your own is sleeping in your lap...  that's distressing.

I wonder why they didn't include the TBAA True Stories special that featured the real Richard Bunkall?  It would have been a great addition.  I hope his family has stayed close in the years since his passing in 1999. 

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(The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)