"The Medium and the Message"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

Well... if a show *must* do a clip show, this is a fairly ingenious way of doing it.  It's much more inventive than, say, having the cast sit around a fire and talk about the good ol' days. 

I was trying to think as I watched this what else was on the air at the time.  It seems a bit prescient cause I'm pretty sure there actually are explosion shows now... more than there were then.  And while we may not have America's Funniest Surgeries, there are scads of true life medical shows... some of which are likely lacking in taste.  So even though TV may have been shady when this was written, I do think this episode was a bit ahead of its time.

As I was watching this episode, particularly when Monica said "Angels can be very edgy," I took stock of my many feelings about TBAA.  And I realized that some of the things the network people wanted... well, they were versions of what I wanted.  No zombie Andrew, though!  Cause I did sometimes want the show to be more edgy.  Emotionally edgy, not "blow it up!" edgy. 
But the more I thought about it, TBAA really did give the angels a lot more attitude and edge than anything I'd seen before.  When you consider that previous to that all I ever considered angels doing was singing, looking holy, and behaving like gleeful super heroes... the show really did explore some big emotions for them.  We saw them angry, heartbroken, jealous, whiny, judgmental, hopeful, excited, loving, tender, tough, grieving, exultant, and more.  They confronted evil, they bashed pervert's computers, they countered homophobia, they helped free slaves, they dealt with the aftermath of suicide, they talked about abortion, they wasted no time in addressing 9-11, and the list could go on.  So while I may cringe at Monica sometimes or wish Andrew had been able to voice just a bit more angst... TBAA dealt with a lot and it wasn't always easy so... I salute them!  And would I have even thought to want edgy angels if not for TBAA?  I think not.

Awesome quote from Monica: "Heaven is like every beautiful day you've ever seen.  Every beautiful flower you've ever smelled.  Every kiss you've ever had." 

As appalling as it was, I did get a kick out of the executives suggestions for the angel of death.  First, I'm glad we are not the John/Trevor Bucket Brigade nor the John/Bach Bucket Brigade nor whatever that third "cool" name was.  But the zombie line was definitely the best.  Sad part is it'd probly happen now since there's a zombie craze. 

I know this is purely self-interest but I liked the idea of Irene, the executive assistant, as the moral compass.  But then that's pretty close to my job so I'm biased!

I like that they included a montage of many of the guest angels.  It's good to give credit where credit is due.

I was amused by T.K. fretting that the revelation scene idea was too over-the-top.  I've known a few people in the fandom who felt exactly that way.  Even I have a time or two (or more).  So it was good to see it acknowledged.  Makes me wonder if they had people lurking online, reading comments.

I love that Irene saved T.K.'s script.  And the manner in which she saved it (filed under H for hit) was great. 

Gotta love the meta-ness of Andrew saying he liked Monica's angel show idea and her responding with "It'd never work."  And yet it did.  For nine years.  Or, if you're like me, 16 years.  Hey, I still "see" Andrew going out on assignments so it's still going for me!  :-)  He's a grade school librarian right now.  Sigh...

What I didn't love about this episode:
I couldn't help feeling it was slightly hypocritical at points.  For example, all this business about explosions.  I get that they were commenting on a show that was all about explosions.  So it's not like they were saying no show should ever have an explosion.  Nonetheless...  I find it interesting this episode aired the same year Promised Land added a scene of an explosion to its opening credits.  Further, one of the montages (the one meant to show angels are edgy) featured a car chase, explosion, drive-by, etc.  Granted, not all the clips were that sort of violence but the majority were.  So, to me, it seemed a lil weird to lambaste this explosion show then more or less brag about how edgy they are by showing a bunch of violent scenes.  There are other ways to show edgy.  And it's not that I feel TBAA was too violent.  But it kinda damaged their argument with me to basically have a "Large Scale Violence Reel." 

I really did like the montage of Andrew scenes.  However, it would have been nice to throw in some scenes of Adam and Henry.  As much as I love Andrew, the other two were part of TBAA's history.  And future.  Adam would return in Season 7 and Season 9.  And they didn't make it into the montage of guest angels, either.  I get kinda creeped out cause it sometimes seemed like TPTB at TBAA wanted us to forget them.  Think I'm nuts?  Go try to find a copy of Fear Not! in picture book form.  They literally put Andrew in Adam's role!  I never thought Andrew could creep me out but that did it!

Lingering questions:
I wonder how accurate that 76% of people in the United States believe in angels stat was?  Maybe I can find out...  Check this out.  Very interesting. 

So having watched this episode again, I'm still unsettled on what TV's responsibility is.  Where's the line between gratuitously pushing violence and people needing to take responsibility for their own actions regardless of what's on TV?  And while I may want nicer shows on TV, is it really right to complain about what children see?  Shouldn't their parents be the ones monitoring that... not some far off TV exec?  Then again, it takes a village.  I dunno!

Watching this, I had to wonder what CBS' people thought?  I mean it basically makes their type look pretty soulless.  But as I write this, the Late Night War II is happening.  NBC's own employees are sniping at them (rightly, IMO) and there doesn't seem to be any censoring.  It's like they don't care as long as it gets ratings.  So maybe the CBS people didn't care as long as this episode pulled in X million viewers.

Was T.K.'s script meant to be an homage to Promised Land which was on its last legs at this point?  I kinda got that idea when he described "Home of the Brave" as being about a family trying to do the right thing.  Further, the crossover that doubles as PL's premiere ends with the Greenes driving off with a sign reading "Home of the free and the really brave."

I wonder if a family-based network would even work these days?  Seems like people actually like a lotta the junk out there...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew lamenting the influence of TV was pretty cute.  Even if it did reiterate that he's way old and that I probly shouldn't have been crushing on him at 14.  And... I think I shall have to add his long coats to my list of "Awesome Andrew Articles of Attire."  Loved it.  And his dismay over America's Funniest Surgeries was endearing.  And made me not want to let Andrew ever watch the bulk of the TLC line up even if I do think it'd be a fun story idea.

But back to Andrew's clothes...  I have to admit that when one of the network people asked if the angels would wear sexy clothes I had a bit of my own montage of Andrew's ensembles.  Okay, so maybe flannel shirts, jeans, cuddly sweaters, vests, etc. aren't "sexy" but I think I can say in the affirmative that angels on TV can dress very attractively.  At least attractively enough that those clothes and that angel are still being discussed almost 7 years after he wandered off.

I was super psyched that Andrew got his own montage and it just made me swoony over other episodes.  And sometimes not swoony but definitely attached. 

I thought it was very sweet (though obviously sad) when he was recalling Irene's death.  He has this look about him in those moments.  Admiration, I think.  And there's something very appealing about someone like Andrew admiring one of us humans.

Random thoughts:
I did get a chuckle outta T.K. talking about there being 64 channels.  My cable goes up to 260 channels or something like that and it's not even the most expansive package.  So it was a bit of a dated reference but oh well.

When one of the network people suggested martial arts angels, my first thought was "Well, John Dye actually coulda pulled that off!"  At least I assume he woulda remembered a bit from Best of the Best.  Still, I'm glad Andrew didn't go around karate chopping people.

I never realized "revelation scene" was a term actually from the show.  I thought the fans just started using it.  But Monica actually uses it in this episode.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
This was a hard one to tell cut scenes on cause I think they only cut from the clip montages.  And since I've seen every TBAA episode through this one at least once in the past 16 months, it was difficult for me to tell what was cut.  Cause it seemed like I'd seen it all recently-ish.  But here's what I *think* may have gotten cut.
-During the "do angels wear sexy clothes?" montage- I think they cut the flashbacks to Monica as a lamaze coach in "Great Expectations" and a chauffeur in "Rock n Roll Dad."
-During the edgy segment- Monica's lecture to the mom at the end of "Operation Smile" and the assassination attempt in "Secret Service."
-AOD segment- It seems like Hallmark shortened the "Written in Dust" sub-segment
-Post explosion segment- The "Sins of the Father" flashback seems longer in the CBS version
-Tess segment- I think Hallmark cut the "Sins of the Father" Tess yelling at Andrew over the car segment as I don't recall seeing that in Hallmark's cut.  I also don't recall seeing flashbacks of her in "Operation Smile" and "Smokescreen."
-Other angels segment- Sam's "Midnight Clear" clip seems longer on CBS as does Taylor's in "An Angel by Any Other Name."
But, again, take this all with a grain of salt cause it was really, really difficult for me to determine whether something looked "I saw it last weekend" familiar versus "I saw that two months ago" familiar.  The good thing is I don't think they cut anything from the original scenes in this episode. 

And further on down the road...:
Here I am watching this at nearly 7 on a Sunday night.  Almost like the old days!

Sigh... I did love Andrew's long coats.  Which I almost typed out as love coats...  So Freudian it's not even funny.

"Sometimes it only takes a minute to change everything."  Yeah...  All too true quote from Andrew.

Seeing Andrew cuff that would-be assassin is still super cool.  Seeing Jack Black as a perv is still really weird.

Sigh... that scene from "Lost and Found" gets me every time.  Andrew holding that poor lil girl on his lap and talking to her about going to Heaven before her parents... so sweet and so sad and reassuring all at once.

Ha.  "Half-vampire/half-angel" TV show...  That would be weird!  I wonder if I'd watch it?  Thing is what most interests me about vampires is the immortality aspect which you can get into just as easily from angels.

Since I last watched this, I've lost a co-worker.  Thankfully, that experience was not at all similar to what you see here.  We were all either wrecks or just very quiet.  No one was at all crass like that awful woman in the up-do.

I have to admit I do get a bit bored during this episode simply because it is a clip show and also because the plot line isn't hugely relatable.  So... I started working on a page for the Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye site.  And it hit me suddenly how bittersweet that is.  I used to watch TBAA and imagine following John's career with my own children.  Now I help with his memorial site.  I feel very blessed to have a role with that but how I wish there wasn't any reason for it to exist.  I know, though, that he is happy and at peace.  That's what I used to pray.  "Please God, get John Dye on another show but if not... well, so long as he's happy."  Amen.
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