"God Bless the Child"



A review by Jenni:

It's a Sunday and 7 PM and I'm watching TBAA...  It's like the old days!  Yay.  Cept I'm not a freshman in college... double yay!

What I love about this episode:

I like Georgia right off.  She doesn't take any crap.  And she's blunt when she needs to be.  But not just as an excuse to be nasty.  I wish I was more like her.

Hee.  I like the Walkman magically appearing in Andrew's hand.  Actually, I just like seeing a Walkman as opposed to an iPod.

I love Monica's sweater coat.  I love them in general but that one's gorgeous.  And, yes, that was a really profound point to make and I'm so glad I did.  :-)

I'm by no means an expert but I love how they recreated the 30s look.  The energy is just so much different during those scenes.

As difficult as it is to see the lynching photos, I appreciate that they took the risk and showed them on prime time TV.  People need to know more about that very sad part of our history.  I think most do know but to see the photos and how blase many of the people in them are... it's heartbreaking and chilling.

"Sometimes pain is important, too important to ignore."  I really like that quote from Monica.  Because sometimes I think our culture is unhealthily obsessed with happiness and feeling good.  There are painful things in this world and darn right you should be pained by them.  I'm not talking about leaving depression untreated or going for self-flagellation or anything.  But at some point choosing to remain ignorant becomes sinful IMO.

I also like that Monica stresses that Charnelle should be moved by those photos not because she's black but because she's human.  The world would be a really scary place if only Jewish people, homosexuals, the Roma, and others targeted by the Nazis were disturbed by the Holocaust or only Rwandans were bothered by that genocide.  It's like John Donne said "Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind."  (That quote should be very familiar to any of you ToD fans, btw.)

Wow.  The scene where Billie is trying to get Andrew to get her drugs is really physical and intense.  There aren't too many scenes where the angels are in that close of contact with an assignment for that long.  It's hard to look away.

"It takes a lot of courage to carry on when life is hard."  Another good quote from Monica.  I have a bad feeling I may be missing Andrew ones just cause I get sucked into his scenes so much that I can't pull bits out.

I was glad when Tess... who is obviously not a drug dealer... showed up.  I was really starting to miss her.  It seemed weird without her.  Additionally, I like that Tess did the revelation and not Andrew cause I think Billie needed to think he was human.

The acting in this one is just really phenomenal all the way around.  I thought Paula Jai Walker was impressive, of course.  When Georgia is recalling the tragedy of her brother's death on her birthday, the acting there is also superb.

"God is here.  He's right here.  You're never gonna walk alone."  Andrew to Billie.  I caught it when I was capping this episode.  I really did just get too sucked in.

It's probably pretty rare for an entire song to be heard during a TV episode.  But I'm glad they had "Strange Fruit" presented in its entirety.

The close-ups of the African-American lady in the crowd and the club's owner while Billie is singing get to me.

"Quit hate and love all people for God made them all and He loves them all, mistakes and all."  Monica again.

I love that Monica tells Charnelle she's God's "little girl." 

"When anger turns to hate it becomes a noose around your own neck.  The more you hate, the tighter it becomes."  Monica to Charnelle.

ETA: Found another Monica one I like: "He created you.  You are His.  And He is yours."

I really, really love that Monica tells Charnelle that her uncle had no choice in losing his life but she does.  While I've never experienced the loss of someone to so vicious a crime, I have known two people who were killed.  Neither had any choice.  It wasn't the result of their behavior at all.  So I find myself now even more exasperated by people who are careless with their own lives.  Because not everyone has the chance to live.

"God wants you to choose life and then to live to testify that ya did."  You guessed it: Monica.

That final image of the three angels in the museum sometimes randomly pops into my mind.  It's so powerful and sad.  They have witnessed so terribly much.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Who the flip shoos a dove away!?!  Charnelle needs to show some respect for the poor lil things.  And pretty much everyone including herself...

While I'm glad this episode doesn't try to gloss over things, there are some things I wish I hadn't had to learn from it.  I knew about lynching, of course.  But I had no idea those images were used as postcards.  Disgusting.  The photo of the woman lynched with the son she tried to save is also... beyond words.  The lil girl in the sailor dress is chilling.  I'm glad TBAA told us these things, but to say I liked learning them would be gravely wrong hence it's in this section.

Holy frigging cow.  THC butchered this episode.  I'll pinpoint how later but some of these transitions are awful.  It seemed like my DVD player skipped but it didn't.

After this episode first aired and was being discussed online, someone said that they disliked that Monica was Billie's clapper.  At the time, I didn't see anything wrong with it.  But I get it now.  I think it would have been far more powerful had a human clapped.  Monica had nothing to lose.  It didn't take any guts on Monica's part to clap.  Monica's species wasn't the one perpetrating these heinous crimes.  The human species did.  So, I agree with that poster, the clapper should have been human. 

Lingering questions:
Is it wrong that I kinda like watching Billie flirt with Andrew?  It's just cute.  Note to self: Can totally start making Dyeland characters flirtier.  Apparently he's okay with it.  ;-)

Umm... was Billie trying to undo Andrew's tie?  Boy... totally missed that back in the day.  Last I checked lapel and tie were two totally different things...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
He's just stunning.  He looks fantastic in 1930s clothing.  And that hat...  As much as I like his hair, I've always liked him in hats, too.

And I'm amused that a lot of times I don't even refer to Andrew by name when I start this section.  Everyone knows who I mean!

When he lifts Billie's chin so gently to look at her black eye... honestly, I just wish he could have stayed with her.  Watched over her until the end.  And then when he tells her she ought to be treated like a lady... it does a number on me.  I just wish every abused woman had someone like him.

Oooh.  I forgot that Billie dubbed Andrew "*my* Ginger Man."  But I can totally understand why she did...

I agree with Billie.  Andrew is most definitely a gentleman.

Oh...  I forgot about the black suit and yellow tie...  Handsome...

I have a confession to make.  This is the only episode in all of TBAA that ever made me wish Andrew was human.  I had it in my head that if he could have just stayed with Billie, she would have been all right.  And I realize that's all kinds of stupid.  And making Andrew into a prince running to save the lady fair wouldn't actually solve anything because Billie needed to be able to stand up for herself and love herself.  Giving her a new crutch, even a lovely, gentle, magnificent one wouldn't have solved anything.  But in my teenaged mind, I thought Andrew could save her.  Rewatching this, I know it's not the case.  Sometimes people are loved truly and completely and still turn to drugs or commit suicide.  Nonetheless, when he strokes her face and holds her, I'm left to hope that she had someone like that at some point... someone who cared about her and didn't want anything and didn't use her as a way to demonstrate his supposed power...  even if only briefly.

He breaks my heart when Billie calls him a "dumb, sweet, old, white boy" (well, the sweet and old are true) and shouts that he's never seen a lynching and he shoots back that he has.  Because the sad fact is he probably saw countless.  And worse.

Aww, he kissed her cheek.  And then later he blows her a kiss.  And the expression on his face then... so emotional and just... lovely.

He looks shell-shocked at the end.  Hugs to him...

Random thoughts:

Music: Charnelle is listening to something on her Walkman when the episode starts.  Rap, I guess.  And again when she enters the museum.  Could be the same thing.  Honestly, most of it all sounds the same to me.  A bit later we get to hear Monica poorly crooning along with Billie Holiday.  Billie's band is rehearsing when she enters during her first scene.  Andrew plays something on the piano as a sorta audition for Billie.  Right after that she sings "Them There Eyes."  There's jazzy dancing music before the final scene with Billie and before that when Andrew and Tess are in her dressing room.  Then, of course, there's "Strange Fruit."

Charnelle telling Monica she's "never heard of him" in reference to Billie Holiday makes me think of Cher in Clueless

Okay... not to question either Andrew or Billie but... his ginger ale looks really flat when they first meet.  I didn't see any bubbles.  Actually, it really looked like liquor to me.

Darn.  LJA's future daughter is named Annabelle and that's the name of the girl in the sailor dress.  Not good.  Hopefully I'll forget the association soon cause I still like the name.

Monica is not a white person.  She says so herself here.  So that answers my questions from my "Black Like Monica" review in which I asked "Is Andrew really white?  Is Tess really black?"  Apparently no.  But that leaves one question unanswered still: is Andrew really male?  Gosh I hope so... 

Note to self: In some future JABB story, have Andrew or Monica play a CD by Charnelle.  It'd be awesome.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-Yep.  They cut a Billie and Andrew scene.  It comes after Charnelle tells Monica about her brother's OD.  I knew they did.  Andrew is still wearing the black, white, and yellow ensemble so it must be shortly after he gave Billie the "Strange Fruit" lyrics.  Teary-eyed, she approaches him as he's sorting sheet music or something.  She tells him she's been singing since she was a kid.  And how she sang in brothels and dives and the like but that now people pay good money to see her all dressed up with her gardenias.  And they want to hear songs about moonlight and dreams and good stuff.  "And here you come with this," she says, "No colored person would dare sing it.  No white person would care to sing it.  Why should I?"  Andrew responds "Because, Lady, people are dyin'.  Every day."  They both look pretty anguished and the scene shifts to Monica and Charnelle.  The latter asks when that all happened, actually starting to seem interested.  Monica responds that it was about the time her grandmother was her age.  Charnelle comments that it's hard for her to imagine her grandma that young.  Monica tells her that they probly have more in common than she realizes.  Charnelle shakes her head and says her grandma's from the South.  She ponders aloud if she ever heard the song.  Monica says that no one would have had Billie not found the courage to sing it.  Then it goes to the first scene of Billie and Andrew in her dressing room which THC cut to so abruptly that it made my head spin.  And that seems to be all.  I think the actual episodes got shorter and, thus, THC needed to cut less. 

Further on down the road...
Well, it's a Monday afternoon and I'm watching this.  Yay for a three day weekend!  So... due to the rather bizarre circumstances of my last viewing (a spontaneous crying fit followed by the sad news two weeks later), I find myself a tad nervous about watching this one again.  Which is probably why I didn't wanna watch at night.  But now I'm ready! 

I understand that she needed to get Charnelle's attention but it's pretty rude of Monica to sing along to her music, rather loudly, in a museum. 

The gender confusion over Billie Holiday always reminds me of the "I love him..." in Clueless.  As if!  And I guess I already wrote that above.  Well, just goes to show that it's true!

Not that this deserves much thought but... is the usage of "wasted" regional?  Because here it seems like "wasted" is pretty much only used for drunk but not for high as Monica uses it here. 

Well... I'm not crying over Andrew in his fedora.  So that's good.  But gosh he's gorgeous.

Welcome back to the one and only episode when, for the briefest moment, I wished Andrew was human.

The scene between Andrew and Billie in the dressing room is just so captivating.  It's painful but yet I can't look away.

I'm really glad that in this episode we see two instances of Monica being supportive of a singer and not envious.  Granted, we have no idea if Charnelle really can sing and I remain a lil bothered by the initial "Strange Fruit" clapper being an angel.  But from a strictly character-based perspective, this is way better than "Voice of an Angel."

I can't even imagine how painful it would be to walk through a museum and find a picture of your family member's murder.

Yeah, I really do wish that Monica hadn't been the clapper.  Not only do I think that makes it less powerful (do you really expect any other reaction from an angel?) but it also seems a little like Monica tooting her own horn. 

I always like it when TBAA referred to someone as God's "little girl."  Although now that I think about it... did they ever tell a man that he was God's little boy?

A Word from Travis:
Iíve never seen this episode but based on your reviews, Jenni, I look forward to seeing it; Iím not familiar with Billie Holiday. I like some of the episodes where they go back in time and Iím not so fond of some. I wonder what channels CBS/Moonwater Productions had to go through before telling stories that included real individuals (Billie Holiday, Abraham Lincoln, etc.)?

Overall, season 7 seems to have some very interesting episodes (some filled with light moments, all episodes filled with emotional moments. Most importantly, Godís love and compassion continued to shine in all the episodes.)

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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.)