"A Winter Carol"
A review by Jenni:
A couple things: One, my computer died so I am writing this from
my new laptop which has completely different fonts. So
that's why the font changed. I'll miss Century
Gothic. Second, I think this may be a stupid idea that I
will regret. I'm already kinda weepy over lost
files/memories on top of backing up what I could save bringing a
lot back concerning those first days after John Dye passed
away. And, of course, 9-11 was a terrible time for us
all. And there's the terribly sad situation in
Norway. So I should maybe not watch this right now.
But I feel kinda compelled so...
What I love about
It's not a good sign that I'm already crying over the car in the
parking lot, is it? I mean way to move people TBAA
creators but... I'm clearly a wreck. Still, it's a
poignant start. And something about Andrew's quiet way of
telling Gloria about the train tracks really gets to me, too.
As much as it hurts to watch this... I don't think I can state
enough how comforting it was to think of "our" angels helping
people through their grief after 9-11.
I can relate both to the mayor's reluctance to touch the car and
Charlie really wanting it moved. It can be so hard to
determine whether an object causes more pain in its presence or
in its absence when tied to a lost loved one.
I forgot about Victoria's throat thing. Way too
relatable. I've learned my body does react when I'm
grieving and it's not good.
Gotta hand it to her... It's blazing hot outside
but Monica's shoppe is making me feel like it's Christmas.
It's a good feeling.
I can totally remember feeling what Charlie did:"There's never
gonna be another normal day." I'm still not sure if there
ever was. I also love what he says about responsibilities
not meaning that we can't be human, show emotion, etc. I
fall into that trap sometimes.
Gah... Benny's phone call. So sad. But this
answering machine bit was a really good idea. It really
encapsulates so much of that time. Something terrible
happened and then... finally, some semblance of broken
"There is someone here now who knows that your heart is
broken... It is God and He sent me to tell you that He
loves you very much." From Monica to Victoria. "God
loves you" was so important to TBAA but sometimes I think "God
knows what you feel" was even more what we needed to hear.
"God loves you so much and He wants to take away your
fear." Another good one from that scene. And shortly
thereafter: "You have to get the pain out... all of it... if
you're going to heal."
I *love* that they had Victoria try to play down her grief by
saying others had suffered so much more. Because I'm sure
many of us felt that way as the depression and anxiety set in
yet we still had our families, our unmarred cities. And
yet we were wounded as Monica said.
"No matter what happens to you, God will never leave you to face
it alone." Same scene. Great one for quotes.
"Even if you try to put Christmas out of your mind, God won't
let you. Because that's what Christmas is: Immanuel: God
with us." I wish it was Christmas... But He's always
"Live in faith. God cannot work in your life if you've
given it over to fear." Monica's got so many great
quotes in this episode.
With my first viewing, the above is the last thing I wrote
because the performance of that hymn just isn't something one
can type during. But now, after the second viewing, I
agree with Monica. It was just what we all needed to
hear. And I loved how she spoke of "we" and "us."
The angels were in this with us and still are. The
original version is even better at showing the power and comfort
of unity. I wish we could get back to that without needing
tragedy to bring us there.
Beautiful episode. Not one I can watch frequently but
beautiful. And the choir was so excellent. It's not
often I tear up during my second viewing but I did during the
hymn. And at other parts, too. But mostly it was the
What I didn't love about
Really all I can complain
about is that THC really shoulda shown a lil more respect with
this episode and not had their ridiculous banners going so
much. Not to mention the terrible edit job I describe
How? How did they pull themselves together enough
to write and direct and produce and act in something this well
done when they had to still be reeling as we all
where? I guess that's the grace of this show and the
people who brought it to us. And, of course, of God.
Parts that made me feel swoony:
I really started crying when we first glimpsed Andrew. I
can remember when that was poignant cause a viewer thought "Was
Andrew there?..." And there's still that. But
there's also this terribly sad reality that many of us TBAA fans
did imagine Andrew there, in the towers or at the Pentagon or on
Flight 93. It was comforting to think those people had
someone as compassionate as him to support them in their final
moments on Earth. And, if you were like me, you imagined
how someone like him (but really you imagined him) was there
again during the AZ shootings. It was a comfort, too, to
know that John Dye cared so much about combating hate and misuse
of power. And then two days later the man whose comforting
image and voice helped us in those times of loss was gone,
too. But there's some peace to be found in the knowledge
that no terror, no violence can ever hurt John again.
Andrew looks so handsome in that leather jacket and turtleneck. And I love how
he so expertly gets Bennie to let him step in as teacher.
He plays it so cool, like they're just two fellow musicians,
doing what needs to be done. Perfect. He was always
so wonderful in dealing with children.
When Victoria and Monica are in the former's car, she says "Mr.
Harper helped Benny get over his last heartbreak. But
who's gonna help him get over Mr. Harper?" That's so much
an echo of what so many of us said about John.
I really do love Andrew's very casual clothes in this
episode. He looks especially cuddly and comfy which is
important in this episode, especially.
Oh... "It hurts to miss somebody, makes you wanna
cry." Yep, Andrew. It does.
I *love* that Andrew tells Benny he only needs to be himself,
not stay strong for his mother. I wish I'd had an Andrew
around when I was younger. And still... And what a
hug... He was so lovely.
He looked pretty choked up there at the end but still focused on
those drums. Good, ol', dutiful Andrew. And lovely,
Monica has an instrumental take on "What Child is This?" playing
in her Christmas shoppe. Later it's "O Christmas
Tree." Steven Curtis Chapman's "A Winter Carol" plays over
a montage that includes them going to Mr. Harper's. They
sing "Angels We Have Heard on High" at the Christmas
pageant. And, of course, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings
"Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The name of this lil city is Summit Grove.
Scenes Hallmark cut:
- They cut a couple of Mr. Harper's messages. After the
"Mr. Harper, are you there?" message from Benny, there's one in
which he calls and tells Mr. Harper that his mom wants him to
get a new drum teacher but that Benny thinks they should wait
until Mr. Harper returns. Then there's also a basic one
from his bank. Then it goes to Benny's call placed on 9-11
which THC resumes with.
- In the original, after Monica disappears from
Mr. Harper's place, Valerie replays part of the message from Mr.
Huntsman about meeting up with Mr. Harper on 9-11. Not a
major cut as it is just a replay of what we just heard.
- Wow... new low for THC. They cut part of the "Battle
Hymn"! Actually they completely recut it so that at times,
different scenes are shown with different lyrics. For
example, in the original, as they pan the stained glass window
and Monica looks down from the balcony, the choir sings "In the
beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a
glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me." As they
do, they show the baby Jesus from the pageant and you hear a
baby cry. And it proceeds with "As He died to make men
holy..." THC cuts out the baby Jesus shot, the cry, and
the lilies/transfigures part. Why!? It's only a few
seconds! It's awful IMO. The images that they cut
also include one of the local merchants (I believe the one who
said he was the only one to put up Christmas decor) breaking
down as another puts his arm around him. Tess smiles,
there's a close up of Benny. And whereas "As He died..."
in the THC version shows Monica on the balcony, the original
version shows Andrew amidst the choir just as that's sung which
now, of course, is even more poignant. Especially since he
blinks and then bows his head. More close-up pans of the
Mormon Tabernacle Choir are cut, too. I can't believe
they'd mess with that segment...
Further on down the road...
Happy Christmas Eve! I started this week without
having gotten around to viewing a single TBAA Christmas
episode. But since Sunday afternoon, I've snuck in the
first 7 Christmas episodes. Yay. I feel more
For the record, I'd want people to keep on with my traditions if
they felt so compelled even if I wasn't there. I think
it's a nice way to live on.
Victoria's line about wondering who will help Benny get over his
heartbreak over Mr. Harper when Mr. Harper was the one to help
him through the heartbreak of his father leaving still gets to
I think this episode captures the surreal feeling
of those first months after 9-11. Constantly waiting for
the other shoe to fall. Wondering how anything had
possibly seemed so normal that morning before it happened.
Ooh. The angel spinning thing reminds me that someone
bought me a candle at work and I wanted to try it. Gonna
go light that.
Victoria's issue with wondering what right she has to her
feelings is very relatable to me. I sometimes get that way
about tragedies that I'm not directly involved with. What
right do I have to be so upset when people lost family members
and mine are safe? But I think as long as someone isn't
using those feelings as an excuse to not do what they need to,
it's just plain empathy and it's a very good thing.
I just realized that I don't remember this Christmas at
all. I remember Halloween 2001 but not that
Christmas. I don't even remember watching this episode
although I know I must have. Conversely, I can pretty
clearly remember watching "The Christmas Watch" when it aired...
well, within hours of it airing. I was at a play when it
I get goosebumps every time the choir starts up even though I
totally know they're coming.
I noticed that above I pondered how the TBAA writers pulled
themselves together enough to write this. I still find
that amazing but not really as surprising. I think when
you're someone who writes, whether professionally or just as a
hobby, sometimes you *have* to write about a tragedy because
that's the best way you know of for processing it and getting
yourself to a more settled place.
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