"Then Sings My Soul"

A review by Jenni:

I remember not liking this episode at all and thinking it was definitely one of TBAA's weakest links.  So I was curious to rewatch it and see if my view has changed.  We shall see...

What I love about this episode:

Well, first off, I'm for any episode that lets us see Andrew interact with children.  So adorable!  More on that below.

I love the Clark Kentness of Keb' Mo's reappearance here.  I can almost hear someone say "See!  He has facial hair!  No one's going to think he's the Angel of Music... even though he's singing the same song!"  Yeah, it's kinda weird but in this case I really do find it amusing and, really, I'll put up with any sort of logic lapse just to hear him sing.

This episode seems way too timely.  Not just cause of the general recession/unemployment issues but also because a long established employer here just got shuttered and a lot of people lost jobs they've had for years.  And, as with the factory, they were very much a community, too, which made it worse.  Just another example of TBAA still relating to the present.

I liked that TBAA pointed out just how much of an impact the boss' personality can have on company morale.  However, I would just add that this applies to any employee.  You could have an awesome boss but if the person in the cubicle next to you makes Debbie Downer look like Pollyanna... you may have trouble keeping your own morale up.

I think TBAA did a really good job of reminding us to pray in all different sorts of ways.  In this episode, I particularly liked how the characters were reminded to thank God for their blessings and not just tell Him about what's going wrong.  God already knows it all but I imagine it does us a lot of good to focus on some positives.  And I think He likes to hear about us on all fronts.

"Praying doesn't change Him but it can change you."  I like that quote from Monica to Bo.

On the same theme, I thought it was striking how in the midst of confusion and fear after the explosion, Monica takes a moment to bow her head and thank God for being with them at that moment.  I hope one day I can do that.  I pray during crisis but it usually takes me a while to get to "thank You."

In general, this episode doesn't really speak to me.  I mean random quotes and lyrics do but not really much plot-wise.  However, this time I kinda found my "in."  One of my grandpas was a local TV personality.  And a lot of people knew him from that.  When he died, it was very strange for me because it was like people were mourning the character and not a person.  He was the mascot to them but he was my grandpa.  So I found myself kinda relating to Bo towards the end when he says he just
wanted *his* father, not Uncle Dudley who everybody loved.

I liked how Tess urged Bo to focus on the skills he has and not the ones he doesn't.  I wish I could teleport that statement back to Monica in "Voice of an Angel."  :-)

I wouldn't say I really dislike this episode any more.  But its plot doesn't seem to have the usual finesse and it's definitely not a favorite.  It seems like the TBAA people wanted a concert and wrote a plot around it.  Which is fine to me now.  But I imagine when this first aired, I was more than a little disappointed to not get a story of much depth.

What I didn't love about this episode:
::thuds head on desk::  Would a continuity chief or something like that have cost so much?  Why the heck would they have Andrew say he can't play piano?  Was he just miming to a recording in "Have You Seen Me?"  I think not.  There was just no reason for that line to exist.  If they were at all unsure if Andrew had ever played piano in a prior episode, just leave a line about it out!  All three AODs could play.  It's that simple.  And that's not to even mention "God Bless the Child."  Yes, I realize that episode didn't exist yet but its events did for Andrew.  Again, it's not like that line really added anything.  We already knew that sometimes angels get gifts on a temporary basis.  But it's not like here it was just soooo thrilling that piano-talentless Andrew could play for about 40 seconds.

I'm all for prayer.  I pray at work.  Not out loud but I do.  But I find myself a lil vexed by the stress on it in the workplace here.  So if my boss is an atheist... am I pretty much doomed as far as ever being happy at work?  Doubt it.  Further, while I personally loved the songs... I couldn't help but wonder how I'd feel if that were my workplace.  First, right off the bat I'd feel sorry for the atheist who would likely feel plenty awkward and even disrespected.  And by the time they started singing about Jesus' blood, I'd feel badly for my Jewish co-workers, too.  Now, maybe by some chance every person in that factory was Christian.  If so, great.  I'm sure that was an awesome experience for them.  But if not... it's a lil unsettling.

I know that some people are more open, more quickly with people than others.  That being said... I just thought it was uncomfortable how Susi kept dropping hints about being in love with Bo.  She'd just met Monica and Tess.  If I'd met someone only minutes before and they started references their unrequited love, it would make me feel really awkward.  So I guess I'm just wondering if that characterization was very realistic.  ETA: Kinda weird that Tess asks Bo, once Susi's song has finished, whether he's there to praise or propose.  I think it's pretty obvious I would not last at Taffy Town.  Public discussion of my love life makes me snappish.

Lingering questions:
Am I the only one who doesn't think the Uncle Dudley video looks like something filmed in 1965?  Tess says it's 35 years old but that just doesn't look right to me.

Why would Uncle Dudley say "Taffy Tom" in the video?  What if eventually a girl would be stuck with that job?  Or one of the kids actually knew "Taffy Tom"?  I woulda gone with something more generic.

Just thought of another: How did everyone know all the lyrics?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Aww!!!  Andrew's so cute talking with kids!  And wearing suspenders (which Monica did not snap this time, yay!).  I love when he wrinkles his nose along to the video and just generally how expressive he is.  This would be a great man to read bedtime stories to children.  He'd be awesome at it.  Sigh...  I wish he coulda had kids somehow.  He's just so smiley with them.

Andrew as Taffy Tom!?!?  Andrew looks nothing like a Tom.  Oh well...  He was cute as Taffy Tom, regardless.

Finally Andrew got to hand out candy and be happy about it!  Yay!!!

I do not enjoy seeing Bo chew out Andrew but I'm glad Andrew holds his own.  Good for him.  Bo was being a jerk.  And Andrew doesn't go for jerkiness.  Snaps for Andrew!  (I should be banned from Legally Blonde...)

Random thoughts:
Music: "Surely the Presence of the Lord" is sung by Della Reese and Tom Sullivan as Clarence.  Andrew on piano.  Jennifer Holliday as Norma sings "To God Be the Glory."  Jo Dee Messina performs "I Have Decided."  Keb' Mo' sings "Hand It Over."  Della also sings "Doubly Good to You."  Greg Evigan as Bo starts "How Great Thou Art" with Ms. Reese and a chorus taking over.

This episode takes place on St. Andrew's Eve and Day.  I'm sure that's coincidental but I still thought it was cool.  Susi shoulda taken note.  St. Andrew is the patron of women who wish to be married.  And the more general "maidens" and also Scotland and fisherman and several others.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-This is seriously the weirdest thing I've run into yet.  The VHS version (I'm watching the professionally released VHS as opposed to what I taped from CBS years ago) begins with the teacher leading the students in.  You see this from a distance.  That's the same in both versions.  However, in the VHS version she tells the kids "This is gonna be so much fun."  In the THC version, she tells them to stay in line and hold hands.  It sounds like different voices, too.  Weird!!!  Why!?!?  ETA: The Season 6 DVD version sticks with "This is gonna be so much fun."

-There's an itty bitty cut at the start of the first "concert" segment.  Tess briefly directs the people bringing in equipment and then it goes to Tom and Isaac pondering what's going on.  THC starts with a brief glimpse of the trio, wordless, and jumps right to the two guys.

-Ouch.  THC cut about half of Jennifer Holliday's musical performance.  That's not cool.

Further on down the road...
Andrew is just seriously adorable in this.  I bet an AOD would really enjoy a gig like this.  Fun and colorful.  Aww.  Love his scrunchy nose.

This makes me wish I actually liked taffy.  It's so pretty.  But it just doesn't do much for me.

"Taffy Tom" can be added to the list of names Andrew went by during the show's run.  I totally forgot that!  Also, it occurred to me this time that there might have been two versions of Uncle Dudley's video: one with "Tom" and one with "Taffy Teresa" or something.

I always want one of the angels to say to Isaac "Boy... you sure look and sound like someone I know..."  ;-)

Sigh...  It still really bothers me that Andrew says he can't play the piano when we've previously seen that he can. 

"God inhabits the praise of His people."  Need to think on that Tess quote.  I've been contemplating the idea of praise lately and how often we come to God to petition Him but don't pray in praise as much. 

I have kinda changed my views on spirituality in the workplace.  I still think presenting a strictly Christian perspective could be potentially hurtful.  I've had wonderful conversations with co-workers of the Jewish faith that have enriched my spiritual life.  I've attended a Catholic funeral Mass with several of them.  Now we have a Bible study.    So I guess I've become a bit more open to the idea but prefer a more varied approach than the concert presented here.  Of course, not all these songs are specifically Christian.  Keb' Mo's song could work for any theist.  Actually... it might have been the reasons behind our funeral attendance that changed me.  I've always advocated for a work/life separation.  But sometimes things happen in your work life that transcend the boundaries.  You find that you are bound to these people and then, yeah, you do have to meet them on multiple facets: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, etc.  It's just a shame it sometimes takes tragedy to make us realize that.

"If you count your blessings every night like I do, it'll always be a beautiful world."  Wise words from Uncle Dudley.

"Will you stop talking about what you don't have and start thanking God for what you do have?!"  That's another really good quote from Tess. 

I kinda wish Tess had sung "Doubly Good" acapella.  The instrumentation doesn't really sound heavenly (kinda canned actually) and yet it's apparently not earthly.  Just seems a bit off to me.

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