"The Letter"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

Even though this episode isn't about immigration, it made me think about all that's happening with that in the U.S. today.  It's just another example of TBAA really NOT seeming ten years old.  They could air this next week and it wouldn't seem out of place but actually pretty timely.

I thought it was really cool how they depicted Tino as hearing and making music every where.  He heard it in the birds, while working, etc.  I think all great passions must be like that: they permeate all aspects of your life.

It was cute how Monica, Andrew, and Rafael all got carried away with picking a conservatory for Tino and had to be called back to reality by Tess.  Monica does it often but it was nice to see the boys get a lil dreamy, too, for once.

Kudos to the TBAA writers for remembering that Monica can tolerate insanely spicy food really easily as established in "Show Me"!  See, sometimes they have really, really good continuity!

I thought it was great that when Roberto told Tino he wouldn't exist without dancing, Tino calmly answered back by saying dancing wouldn't exist without music.  Way to go!

The post office guy's really nice.  I know that's random but he just seemed really friendly and like he cared.

Tess has some really great quotes in this.  A couple are just funny like her sarcastic "You hablo just fine when you want to" to Roberto and "Mozart was always late!" to the conservatory prof.  But then there are also touching ones like "As strong as God is and as powerful as He is, when He speaks it's with a whisper.  The children always listen better when you whisper, you know."

Another good one from Tess to Roberto is "God never promised you it would be easy but He did promise you it would be worth it."

And then Monica got some of her own great quotes when speaking to Tino like "Nothing is impossible for God." 

"You can be an instrument of God with your heart and with your hands but first you must accept His gift and you must accept His love which is also a gift," is another really great one.

"God's gift to you can be your gift back to Him," was touching to hear.  I like to think we all have gifts that we can use to help others, even to help others find their faith, hope, love, etc.

I'm not a very good Catholic but I thought it was wonderful that they brought Mass to the people when they couldn't go to Mass.  It makes me feel like I shouldn't take it for granted.

The young man playing Tino did an excellent job.  He looked so ecstatic as he played the piano.  Beautiful.

I was always fond of how this episode ends.  It almost borders on sitcom "D'oh!" territory but it's cute.  The look on Roberto's face as he learns his lil girl will be a dancer is amusing and sweet.

What I didn't love about this episode:
I just really woulda liked to have seen Andrew's dealings with his human boss who wanted everyone to work through Sunday.  Cause I bet he got pretty indignant and forceful and sometimes that's a nice change from calm, collected Andrew. 

ETA: The more I thought about it, I'm irked by Andrew's comment to Elisa at the end: asking where her faith is.  Questioning what will happen next is not a sign of a lack of faith.  In fact, I've met a few too many people who use "God will provide!" to justify never planning for the future, never taking the initiative, etc.  Pondering what comes next is a good thing.  It's how we solve problems.  Had she burst into tears and started hyperventilating, the comment would be good.  But not otherwise, IMO.  Plus, let's not be naive.  People of great faith find themselves in trying positions all the time and God doesn't always swoop in immediately with a solution.  Just read the Bible for plenty of examples.  But I'll forgive Andrew and the writers. 

Lingering questions:
I think because I was a theology student, I often think about the situations the angels might have got themselves into with religions.  So I have to wonder: how did Monica fare as a Catholic Sunday school teacher?  It seemed natural enough for her to talk about Genesis (depicted) but eventually one would assume the curriculum would call for specifically Christian and even specifically Catholic teaching.  How would they handle that?  Even with Dyeland I sometimes find myself wandering how that all impacts Andrew's conversations with some human friends.

I sometimes also think about the issue of race with the angels.  Does that ever cause difficulties among them either with guilt or anger or is it just us humans that develop complexes about it?  But like here where Rafael does hard labor while Andrew is the on-location boss.  Or in "Angel on the Roof" they're in really different places, too.  And then, of course, there's "Black Like Monica."

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I love that Rafael assures the family that Andrew's promises will be kept.  Andrew is definitely very dependable.  Sigh...

I think it's nice that Andrew's shown as more hands on and helpful than others in his job.  Personally, I woulda liked to have seen more of him working alongside the people but I think that's just as much about me wanting to show his good, giving nature as it is me just plain being impressed by Andrew doing yard work, mechanical stuff, or anything of that nature.  I'm far gone.

Love Andrew's look as he's finishing putting in the stove.  Cute shirt, brown is a really good color for him.

I love that Andrew loves home cooking.  And now it makes me want to cook him something but I doubt he'd show up.  Sad...  But he was very cute accepting Elisa's offer.  Although it did kinda seem to me like he doesn't get invitations very often...

Elisa is most definitely not the first to notice that Andrew cares very much about the people he works with.  I love that he arranges for Roberto to get a less taxing job.  Very, very Andrewesque.

Aww!!!  When Andrew asks and then dances with that lil girl...  Seriously, it's either adorable or heartbreaking.  Probly both.  As I've said before, Andrew with small children is really, really getting to me lately.

I was always impressed by how Andrew never felt the need to use the caddy door.  Lovely.

Random thoughts:
Music: So much music in this but all I can tell you for sure is that Bach's "Ode to Joy" is heard through out either via radio or Tino's playing.  Tess plays it at one point, too.  You also hear Spanish music in Roberto's car, salsa coming from a radio at the camp, organ music at the church, Tino's improvised piano piece inspired by the birds, and unidentified Mozart at the conservatory.  Rafael and Co. also perform a song with Spanish lyrics at the dance but no clue on what it is. 

I thought it was interesting that during Communion the priest seemed to be saying "Cuerpo de Dios" (body of God.)  I've never heard that.  Just "Body of Christ."

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-Hallmark cuts a scene about halfway through the episode in which Tino urges his exhausted mother to take a break from picking the cabbages (she declines).  He asks where his father is.  Rafael approaches and says Roberto took an early lunch and went to town for the mail.  Tino responds with "Yes!" (because he's hoping to get a response
from the conservatory) and his mom looks at him, confused.  Tino covers by saying he's just excited for another of his grandma's recipes then walks away.  It then cuts to...
 -Roberto actually went to a doctor who has X-rayed his spine and tells him his back is "a disability waiting to happen."  He has a ruptured disk and the doc says he needs to be off his feet for 3-6 months or may be crippled for life.  The doctor questions what Roberto's family would do if that happened.  It then cuts to Roberto at the post office, tricking the employee into reading the conservatory letter.  That scene is in the Hallmark version.
-THC cuts into the party scene already in progress.  In the original version there's an overhead view of the crowd then you see Monica, Andrew, Rafael, and the kids at a table.  Monica's loading up a tortilla with peppers.  Andrew says "Aren't those kinda hot?"  She urges him to try some, saying they're like candy.  And as if to prove that blonde jokes are sometimes true (I'm a blonde so I can say that), Andrew pops a few in.  He starts to sputter, grabs a pitcher, and flees the table.  The two remaining angels and kids laugh hysterically.  Fun scene.  Monica then turns to Tino at another table and asks if he'll play guitar for everyone.  With his parents at the table, Tino tells Monica that he plays piano not guitar.  Tess approaches him and tells him from what she's seen, he can play anything he wants.  Alberto is ticked and shares his exasperation with his wife who reminds him it's a party.  Rafael asks for his guitar and starts up a song with a few guys.  And here's where THC comes back into play cause then the lil boy asks Monica to dance.  So this all explains why, right before dancing, Andrew looks a bit piqued and points at Monica.  When I saw that yesterday, I figured we'd missed something on THC's version.

Further on down the road...
And here I am ending my second snow day in a row!  It's been great and relaxing and now to veg even more with my chai, pecan pie slice, and my favorite TV show.  Also... apparently people actually read these.  Wow. 

Tess needs to chill.  Monica wasn't being negligent in this opening scene.  She was in a moving car that was apparently below the level of the crops.  Note that she needs to get out of her seat to see the migrant workers.  Did Tess want Monica to unbuckle her seat belt... in a moving car... to scan crops looking for... what exactly?  I like Tess.  I really do.  But sometimes she defies all reason.

I just had a thought.  I know several people who do writing at various levels.  Some write professionally, some hope to be professional, and some (like me) write just for fun.  There are definite frustrations attached to being a writer.  However, I think if I had any great artistic aspiration, I'd prefer wanting to be a writer.  Imagine having a desire to be a pianist and not having access to a piano or to be an actor and not have access to a stage.  Barring some massive personal financial meltdown, I will likely always be able to afford if not a computer then at least some paper and a pencil.  So next time I'm complaining about writer's block... might be good to remember that at least I have the tools I need and that not everyone does.

And I just realized Andrew keeps his wallet in his back right pocket...  I swear I was just admiring the now seldom seen light wash denim.

I have *loved* these snow days but seeing this scene of the four angels in the caddy surrounded by green grass and trees... I want the spring.  Badly.  Birdsong, too.

"Sometimes the only thing you can do is pray that things will work out in the right way at the right time."  A nice quote from Monica that I apparently missed the first time around.

Ah!  I so missed this scene where Andrew runs off with the water pitcher after sampling the peppers.  Ha!  I was so glad when this DVD set came out and the two biggest reasons were that scene and the whole of TDDUP because my copy of that is bad.

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