A review by Jenni:
What I love about this episode:
I'm starting to come to the conclusion that with all its
writers, TBAA actually did fairly well with continuity as far as
character traits. It was just time lines that they seemed
willing to throw under the bus whenever it suited them. I
say this cause Monica's fascination with words recurs through many
episodes. Right now I am totally blanking on several
examples but I clearly remember Kathleen bringing it up in one of
her episodes. And here it surfaces at least three seasons
later as Monica sings the praises of the word "viscosity."
So that's good. Later on, Andrew's punctuality gets briefly
I'm with Monica. I would not want to go into a men's
bathroom. Ever. And definitely not at a gas
station. So that was very realistic. Also, it was
doubly icky for me to consider since I watched "Medium" last night
and that depicted the aftermath of an apparent rape and a double
shooting... both occurring in a graffiti-ridden men's
bathroom. Sometimes I really miss TBAA... that's just not a
scene they woulda presented us with.
When TBAA has done episodes about comedians, I've been
underwhelmed by their routines. They just clunk for
me. So I was happy to discover again that the poetry Ricky
writes is actually good. I mean if he were real, I wouldn't
mind reading more of his work. Whereas I probly would not go
and see Natalie's stand-up or a Salt and Pepper routine. So
good job to whomever wrote those! The episode was written by
Jason Jersey so maybe him.
I think it's
very cool that Monica gives Ricky a journal and tells him it's a
"book of poetry yet to be written." Actually, I like Monica
through out this episode. That's always nice!
Gah. I'm a sucker for flashbacks just normally. But
here they're gut-wrenching. Ricky scrawling "I love you,
daddy" and then getting hit is just awful. But I think it
was well handled. Especially insofar as it later ties into
I thought the scene of the mom's surprise birthday party was also
tough to watch but necessary. It really made me connect with
her whereas before I'd been pretty disgusted with her.
Terribly sad, though. It makes you wonder how many people
around us are wounded in ways we can't see.
I thought it was cool that Ricky's dream girl
turned out to be a "townie from another town." And not
ashamed to say so.
presented as exactly an atheist. He just says he doesn't
believe in angels. And I love the response he gets.
Monica doesn't get angry or annoyed. She simply says that he
became too afraid to believe in the good. This is why I just
can't believe that atheists are, by virtue of that alone, barred
from the afterlife or whatever it is some believe. I think
God has the utmost compassion and understanding for the fact that
sometimes life is so painful for some, they can't believe in an
I also appreciate that Monica tells Ricky he might "lose
it." And she doesn't say that will be bad or
unforgivable. She presents it as a fact without
judgment. Because sometimes it's okay to lose it. It's
even, sometimes, a good thing. ETA: I also like this quote
from that part: "It can be very frightening to open up and let out
a pain that has been locked up for years. But God is here
and you are safe."
It's nice that this ends with Marshall and Ricky exchanging words
about how they wouldn't have stolen the poem and mirror if they
weren't so good. It gives ya some hope that Marshall got a
much needed wake-up call and that, some day, the two may even be
friends. And classmates.
What I didn't love about
at first, I was like "OMG! Not another freaking episode in
which I'm gonna have to watch a gosh awful parent!" Cause I
was horrified when Ricky's mom went off at him about losing his
job (as if he wasn't already hurting over it) and then accused him
of not caring about her or his brother. But I'd forgotten
the whole PTSD/abuse plot so felt sympathetic towards her once
reminded. Although I can't say I think her behavior is
entirely acceptable. But maybe it's understandable.
Here's something that always gets me about these "can't get
into/stay in college" shows and movies... why does no one look
into loans, work study, etc.? At least here the girl
eventually mentions on-campus employment. But generally
financial aid never comes up. And I have to wonder how much
of a disservice this is to actual people in these positions.
It's not hopeless and, yes, lots of people do have to take out loans,
work during the school year, etc. But they make it happen
even if it means paying until they're 33...
No fair teasing us with Tess' statement about confronting the
thieves! It made me want to see it!
Why would they have a kid sign up for a children's contest
at a college? I've been in schools enough and known enough
teachers to know sometimes the education bureaucracy is no
good. So I'm not saying it's unrealistic. But,
seriously, why would they do that? What if some kid with
deadbeat parents who won't take him or her to the college wants to
join in? Why wouldn't they have a sign-in sheet at the grade
schools where, assumedly, Joey learned about it?
Am I the only one who can't remember the last time they were at a
full-service gas station? I'm not even sure we have any here
any more. The only one we ever went to is closed.
Can Andrew write a poem about a pretty girl? I'd love to
read a poem he'd write about a puppy. I'm sure he could do
that. But "pretty girl" was another topic he
suggested. And I just wonder if he could. I mean I'm
sure the angels have some sense of aesthetics even though they're
not attracted to people. And simply being enmeshed in a
culture as they are would clue them into standards of
beauty. And yet... I can name pretty women. But if you
asked me to write a poem about them, it'd probly be pretty
lame. I just don't feel it. So could he pull it off
based only on physical beauty? Kinda doubt it. I think
he could probly write a poem about a woman, mentioning her beauty,
so long as he was emotionally invested in some way and was trying
to capture something else about her. But I dunno.
Should we have an invention that makes people forget bad
things? I posed this question to the YG a while back and
there were pros and cons on both sides as you would expect.
I can see Monica's view that we learn from the bad things. I
can see Joey's view that sometimes the bad memories just don't
stop. So I dunno... One thing I do want to know: if we
could erase a memory... would it be truly erased? Cause this
would be my fear: say something traumatic happened to me and I was
left feeling anxious and scared all the time. If I had the
memory erased, would the anxiety and fear go away? Or would
I just be left with vague, sinking feelings and no clue why?
Cause if the latter, I think that would be worse than remembering
as I would just feel crazy.
How much did Andrew know? Like did he
already suspect the poem was stolen and that's why he allowed
Ricky to stay in class? To ensure he'd hear that? Or
was that all happy coincidence aka God remaining anonymous?
What *was* Monica holding when she was taking inventory and asked
Ricky what one does with it and then he pondered how she got the
job? I have no clue.
that made me feel swoony:
Andrew teaches at Redding University in this episode. Just
saying cause ya never know when someone might need to know that...
I got all smiley when I saw our favorite super-adorable Literature
prof. And I needed that. This has been a horrible
week. I wish Andrew had been in this more but I think it was
good for me to see him outta AOD mode, pretty even-keeled, and
just plain looking and sounding like my dream professor. If
I'd had someone like him in college... well, there may have been
problems. But I bet I woulda smiled a lot more in those
days. As it was... wow. I'm not sure I've ever had a
male Literature teacher. That's crazy. I'll just
pretend I was in Andrew's class. ;-)
Of course, Danika had to erupt in ear-splitting barking the minute
Andrew first appeared. (A cat was outside.) So I had
to rewind. Love the lovely angel and didn't wanna miss a
I love hearing Andrew recite "She Was a Phantom of Delight."
They coulda done a whole episode of Andrew reading as far as I'm
concerned. Aloud, of course. Also, I love him in
Kinda weird seeing Andrew as a "register or else!" college
man. But he just looked so lovely... And, yes, I know
he couldn't very well let Ricky take the class for free while
others scrimped and saved to afford college.
Since Andrew actually isn't in this a whole lot... I'll just talk
about semi-related Andrew stuff. This episode reminds me of
a story I wanted to write for JABB and never got around to.
In it, Andrew was a substitute Literature or creative writing
prof. Unbeknownst to him, LJA was taking the class.
And the regular prof had told Andrew to have the students recite
the poems they'd written. And LJA, being away from Dyeland
and amongst strangers, had written an emotionally raw poem about
Andrew thinking no one who knew him would ever know what she
wrote. But then there she was... reading it aloud with him
as the prof! And it was clear enough that *he* would know it
was about him while none of the other students would have a
clue. Sigh... Sometimes I still wish I'd done
that. It coulda had a lot of pathos and oh-so-fun The Office-style awkward
humor. Oh well. I spose I could always send her to
night classes... ;-) Or save the idea for years and
turn it into one of the kids writing a poem about growing up under
his wing, so to speak. Aww... Note to self!
I think I like Andrew reading "My Heart Leaps Up..." even better
than the previous poem. Although it always gets me a bit
when he talks about growing old and then invokes death as if he
could actually experience it. I think maybe I just prefer
that poem. So much to think about. And I hope Andrew
always was able to stare in awe at the beauty of creation even
after everything he saw.
Ya know what would be fun? A reel of all the times Andrew
picked apart a fight during TBAA's run. He seems to do it a
lot. At least he never gets hit! I'd freak!
Andrew's so smart! He reminds me of King Solomon. In
fact, next time I need to make up a last name for him: Solomon may
be a good choice. His recitation test is pretty
ingenious. Even though I doubt I could recite a whole poem
even if I wrote it, I'm sure that what was recited would clearly
give away the true author so it's sound. It's not about
memorization as much as emotion which Ricky clearly had more of.
classical music which I definitely recognize when the two punks
pull up with the stolen car. I spent half an hour trying to
ID it with no luck. ETA: Also, you hear, like, one bar of a
song when the girl pulls up to the gas station. I couldn't
make the words out.
I am a failure as a woman. I have never tossed my hair
seductively in slow motion. And I have a lot of it.
Boy, I'm a screw up. ;-) Seriously, that is like a TV
staple. It reminds me of something, though... I can
remember when the Jeremy Sisto "Jesus" movie came out. In
general, I love that movie. But they actually had a slow-mo
hair bouncing scene of Jesus in it. My friends and I would
howl with laughter when we watched. And rewind. Even
the Son of God cannot escape TV conventions.
Marshall downgrading plagiarism in front of his Literature prof is
all kinds of foolishness. Really?!?
Scenes Hallmark cut:
-THC cuts right to Andrew reciting "My Heart Leaps Up..." and then
to another scene right when he finishes. I'm sooo glad they
didn't cut it. But it seems odd that there was nothing else
to that scene. So I'm thinking there was originally.
Will verify. Ha! Nope, I was wrong. That scene
is exactly as it was. It's just a scene that seems to exist
for the sole purpose of Andrew reciting poetry. Now I love
it even more! It's a gift! A lovely Andrewcentric
-The, I think, third segment begins with Monica and Ricky in the
shop. Monica asks Ricky if he's thought of what he'd like to
do after the place closes. Ricky says there's not much to
think about, guys like him just take what they can get.
Monica presents him with A Collection of Favorite Poems saying she
thought it might give him some ideas. Ricky says ideas are
dangerous, sets the book down, and then asks Monica to keep an eye
on the place while he applies at Taco Town. But really he
goes to the campus and the scene moves to the first scene in
Andrew's classroom which THC, thankfully, retained.
-After Marshall steals the poem from the wall,
there's a brief scene of Ricky washing the wall. He then
steps outside where his no-good friends are. He tells them
there'll be no more free gas. Then I think they offer him a
job stealing cars. Or working in a chop shop. More or
less the same thing, I guess, and I'm not sure what they
meant. Anyhow, Ricky turns them down citing that while their
gig would pay more than Taco Town, it would also cost more.
They drive away. Then it goes to Andrew and Ricky speaking
outside the classroom which, again, THC keeps. All they cut
from that was an exterior shot of the college which preceded
it. No big loss.
-Wow! Here's something new! THC actually allowed me to
see a scene I hadn't before! It appears that when I taped
this off CBS when it originally aired, my local affiliate messed
up and showed a cloudscape with the word "Easter" for several
seconds. Just frozen. So then when they righted it,
the episode was already in progress so it wasn't until I saw the
THC version that I saw Ricky steal Marshall's mirror and have the
brief run-in with his friends. All I got is Ricky stepping
into his car and then it cuts to Joey and his invention.
-They cut mere seconds at the convention where Monica and Joey
prep his invention. She tries to lift the sheet covering it
but Joey tells her not yet. That's it.
Further on down the road...
I'm eating an ice cream sundae for dessert! That means
it's summer. Yay!!!
I think maybe "It might lead to something better" was spoken a
little too soon. I totally believe that seemingly negative
events like getting laid off could lead to better things.
But I feel like some folks need and deserve a little time to
grieve the loss of the job before moving to sunny optimism.
Ack. "He's only nineteen... " Monica, where you there
for the past 6 years??? How, at this point, could Monica be
surprised that a teenager might already feel hopeless. Has
she forgotten China? How about the girls in "The
Pact"? The boys in "At Risk"? And the list goes
on... It bothers me when Monica or any of the angels say
anything that makes it seem like they have no sense of their own
It took over 14 minutes but there he is! Ya know, I wish
Andrew woulda had to do his own assignment (writing about an
emotion) and then read that. How enlightening would that
be? But sigh... He is lovely reading "Phantom of
I'm sad that Andrew has to be such a... something... about Ricky
registering for class. But... I love how versatile he
is. His mannerisms, his way of speaking as Professor
Andrew... while still being him... are much different than the
ones he had as Andrew the teacher in "A House Divided." I
like that he still gets a "pretty darn good" in there. He's
not gone too proper. :-)
Sigh... I really do think I like his recitation of "The
Child is the Father" even better. And I suspect TPTB at TBAA
may agree cause there was really no reason for that scene beyond
hearing Mr. Dye be awesome.
I think it's funny that Andrew really isn't in this episode very
much and yet I still think of it as an Andrew-centric
episode. It's all about the poetry! Oh and I do now
think Andrew could quite easily write a poem about a pretty
girl. Maybe she's a friend and he could write about the
softness of her hair as if brushes against his cheek when she hugs
him to comfort him. Or he could pen a few lines about the
way her eyes shine as she listens to him tell about an upsetting
assignment. One can write about beauty without the focus
actually being physical beauty. And I've no doubt he is
attached in some way to the physical traits of those he
loves. Any one of us would
probably be pretty upset if we woke up tomorrow and our parents or
siblings looked totally different. So you can be pulled to
someone's physicality without it being a romantic thing.
Sheesh, younger me! But, in my defense, this was the last
episode review I wrote before I had one of those big, maturing
Didn't anyone think it odd that Tess saw a car get stolen and
apparently didn't do anything until Marshall accused Ricky?
Actually... in some ways I think stealing a poem is worse than
stealing a car. Unless it's a car the person stolen from
built or majorly worked on themselves. Stealing someone's
product of creativity is theft and something else, too. Not
sure what... some sorta other violation. Just wrong. I
guess what I mean is if you steal a car and someone sees you with
it, they probably don't attribute any truly wonderful qualities to
you just cause of the car. But when you pass off a poem as
your own, people attribute creativity, depth of emotion, talent,
etc. to you. It's theft AND lying AND identity theft of a
"It's okay to fight for your dreams!" I like that quote from
Monica to Ricky.
Gah. Andrew's awesome when he's staring Marshall down as he
stumbles through reciting the poem.
I still sometimes think about that "LJA writes a poem about
Andrew" story. Maybe some day I'll still do it as a
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