"It Came Upon A Midnight Clear "

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
I do enjoy seeing Wayne and Joey again.  To be honest, I wish their story had been left at this.

Just a lil thing but I really like how Mark Twain's book falling from the shelf prompts Monica to tell Joey her story.  For some reason God working through a book falling makes me happy.

I thought it was cool Edna stops by.  Especially cause Wayne's and Joey's house looks different to me than the previous house.  So I was kinda thinking they'd moved to a different town.  But with Edna being there it drove home that this was the same place.

I'm cool with Monica seeing Andrew in Mark Twain's house after Jean dies.  People sometimes bring that up as a continuity error since Monica seems not to recognize him in "The One That Got Away."  But I can believe that someone would see someone briefly and have completely forgotten their face 90 odd years later. 

The dog kills me.  Seriously, I think his reaction to Jean's death upsets me more than Mark Twain's.  Maybe it was just cause I was sitting there watching the episode with my German Shepherd mutt.  But that was a truly pitiful looking puppy.

I think this is a tremendously relatable portrayal of grief.  My paternal grandpa passed away a week ago tomorrow.  And my other grandpa, who died years ago, was a fan of Mark Twain.  So I found myself thinking about both while watching this episode and so much of what Mr. Twain was saying made sense to me.  This line, spoken by Twain as he grieves his daughter, in particular seemed so much like my own thoughts: "I've had this experience before but it would still be incredible if I'd had it 10,000 times."  And his dismay at how one moment someone is alive and well and the next... gone.  His desire to hide away from the holiday...  I could relate to it all.

Another part that really hit close to home for me was when Twain was grieving the fact that as a young girl Jean used to be afraid of him cause of his temper.  He refers to that period as "lost years."  My grandpa was a very strong, powerful, booming sort of person and I used to be intimidated by him.  It makes me sad now.  So I can relate to that from the flip side.

I don't know why but I really like how they show Sam disappearing through the glass door.  I just really like Sam, period, in this episode.  He's totally unfazed by Twain's railing at him.  Yay, Sam!

Love this quote actually from Mark Twain: "I am a great and sublime fool but yet I am God's fool and all His works must be contemplated with respect."

What I didn't love about this episode:
Pretty sure I found a continuity error right near the beginning.  Monica says to Tess "It's been two years since we were last here."  Except I'm thinking it should been written as three years.  Cause "The Feather" is set the day after "Fear Not!"  So "Fear Not!" would have been set on Dec. 25th, 1994 and the days leading up to it and "The Feather" on Dec. 26th, 1994 and the days that followed.  What the angels were doing on Dec. 25th, 1995, we dunno.  In 1996 they were with the DuBois family.  So either Monica, in 1997, shoulda said "three years" or else she and Tess were with Wayne, Joey, and Co. in 1995 but the show never showed it.

I'm not sure I buy Monica's comment that "I don't worry but I always care."  She's looked pretty darn worried at times, even in this episode.  I think it's okay for angels to worry as long as it doesn't become some sorta obsessive thing.

While I enjoy this episode as a work of fiction, I think it maybe took too great a liberty with simplifying Mark Twain's religious beliefs.  I can remember shortly after this aired someone even wrote into our newspaper complaining about the atheist Twain being portrayed as a theist talking (however angrily) with angels.  He had a point though it would seem the author of the letter was also simplifying Twain's beliefs or lack thereof himself.   I suppose only God and Mr. Twain know the truth about his beliefs.

Lingering questions:
I'm not fully satisfied with Monica's answer to Twain's question about why God created humans.  She said it was because God needed someone to share His love with.  But can't He do that with the angels?  I've no doubt that's part of it but there must be more to it.

Does anyone else find it weird that of all the carols you hear in this episode "It Came Upon a  Midnight Clear" is not one of them?  I wonder why they used it for the title and not something from "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Morn"?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Kinda sad you only see early 1900s Andrew very briefly.  That's a good look for him.

Really I just got thrilled when Andrew showed up in the present day scenes cause this is my third episode of the day and no Andrew in the previous two.  In my notebook I simply wrote "Andrew!"  Also that shirt he was wearing is a lovely color for him. 

Andrew's initial dialogue reminds me of Adam in "An Unexpected Snow."  He makes it sound like he chose to show up there cause he wanted to hear Monica's story.  Like Adam wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her and Tess.  Monica's so lucky.  She's got two incredible AODs wanting to spend time with her and she doesn't get how awesome that is.

Andrew looks so distressed after Joey crashes the Christmas tree and starts raging at God.  I wanna hug him. 

I *love* that Andrew crouches down by Joey when he tries to leave to find Wayne.  That scene just crystallizes for me why I would vastly prefer to have Andrew with me during a difficult time than Monica.  He's just more... cuddly.  I honestly can't think of a better way to say it.  He's warmer and cuddlier.  Monica just stands there watching, Andrew gets down to Joey's level and helps him out of his coat, puts a hand on his shoulder, and talks gently to him.  I want that guy around.

Random thoughts:
Wayne aka Randy Travis looks good with a beard. 

This episode kinda freaks me out cause I was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy.  Thankfully a minor form.  Poor Jean.

I kept thinking how lame this episode would be if it was about my family.  "Uh oh, the angel broke."  "Huh, well, get the yarn or clay.  We'll make another one."  End of episode.  Learn arts and crafts: it could save you from getting knocked unconscious while driving in a storm.  :-)  The tree crashing also wouldn't be very effective at my house.  My Christmas trees are wired to the walls.

I need to lay off Monica a lil bit, I think.  When Mark Twain asks her "Is there eloquence up there or are you the best they got?" I giggle.  And that's really mean!

A Word from Travis:
I wasn’t fond of this episode. I‘m not familiar with who Mark Twain is. I read in the “Commentary” by Martha Williamson, where she mentions that this episode came about as a result of Randy Travis not being available to shoot the entire episode due to him having other engagements. Mr. Travis was only available for one day so the writer(s) decided to surround the story around Joey being all alone and Monica comforting him with the story of Mark Twain.

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