"God made human beings to dream together and to inspire each other."
~~Tess, The Show Must Not Go On

Hi all,

Summer is traditionally when I end up binge watching TBAA.  I haven't gotten around to that yet but hopefully soon!  So it seemed appropriate to spend this issue celebrating TBAA.  I hope, as you read these lists from Kim and me, you'll revisit some of your own fond memories of TBAA!

God bless,

Kim's Top Ten Favorite TBAA Episodes

Here's my list of Top 10 TBAA eps. Now, I have always been and will always be a Monica fan, so my choices reflect that. But, I have great appreciation for Andrew's many charms and talents. Have to grovel a bit here or Jenni might kick me out! :)

1. Trust - This is the first ep. I can remember watching, and it got me hooked.
Fav. scene - when Monica gets shot. I thought that was a really bold move to have an angel get shot.

2. Fear Not - The first, and in my opinion, best Christmas episode. The pageant goes from cringeworthy to amazing in the blink of an eye.
Fav. scene - The wiseman/shepherd (can't remember which) who takes off his glasses because he doesn't need them any more.

3. There But For the Grace of God - Monica learns not to judge. Admit it, you liked seeing her get her comeuppance just a little bit didn't you? :) And it wouldn't be the first time.
Fav. scene - Sophie introducing them all as her kids. Yeah, sure!

4. In the Name of God - Introduces Sam who's even more no-nonsense than Tess.
Fav. scene - That "we're going to kick some demon butt" walk down the road, of course. Proof that angels don't need wings and swords to deal with the Enemy.

5. Jacob's Ladder - Yes, I'm a Monica fan. So sue me. Although, it's not Monica's circumstances that are so interesting but Claire's. You just can't help but imagine what she endured that could totally unhinge an angel.
Fav. scene - Jake in the bar overhearing Tess and Sam talking about Monica. You can just see him realizing....

6. Spirit of Liberty Moon - Lots to love about this one.Each angel has a job to do and all is not sweetness and light. In a totally happy ending Jean and Edward would've found her daughter and ridden off in the sunset together.
Fave scene(s): Monica protecting Jean from being beaten to death. The novelization includes an extra scene....After the thugs have dragged Jean from the room, we see Monica sink down on the floor. What apparently got cut was Andrew giving her a helping hand to get back up. Wish they'd kept that in. Also like the scene in Jean's cell when Monica visits her: "Am I going to die?" "Yes." Wow....I wasn't expecting that answer....and so matter-of-fact.

7. The Compass - This one just felt so different for TBAA...more like the earlier seasons in its edginess and the way it starts in the middle of the action.
Fav. scene - Kinda divided here on Monica slapping Joe - he deserved it! - and the scene that shows Monica writing the letter and Andrew digging the graves....and they don't meet! Score one for continuity.

8. Minute By Minute - My favorite TBAA episode of all time. Gritty, ripped from the headlines, with great acting from everyone.
Fav. scene - The black screen. Perfect. And like Liberty Moon...not a typical ending.

9. Great Expectations - I love Chris Burke! He's just a wonderful actor. Good commentary here on the sorrows and joys of raising a disabled child. Having worked with Autistic kids, I appreciated this look at both sides of coin.
Fav. scene(s) - Monica's prayer about how sometimes God falls into our lives. Because that's so true. It's easy to see God in the happy times, but not so easy during the hard times. Also, Joann telling Bill that she's pro-choice and, "I choose to have this baby!"

10. Beautiful Dreamer - Period costumes, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew gets promoted. What more could you want?
Fav. scene/quote - Andrew saying that he's from "the state of Grace". As a Southerner I like the two ways that reply can be interpreted.

Jenni's Most Influential TBAA Episodes

So I've gone on about my favorite TBAA episodes enough, methinks.  I even filled out a bracket about it at one point.  So this is NOT a favorite episodes list.  Instead, this is a list of the episodes that, I feel, most impacted JABB's evolution.  In fact, I don't think it's a stretch to say that, without some of these episodes, JABB would have wrapped up a good, long time ago.  So, without further adieu, here are the TBAA episodes I think have most influenced my work on JABB:

1.  "Netherlands"- Yep!  Shocker, huh?  As much as this episode makes me want to pull out my hair at points, as far as molding the Dyeland storyline, this episode is pretty key for me.  For one, it brought us Arthur who was inspired by the Mike character.  For another, dealing with the Monica angst bought me time while I was still trying to build original characters.  If everything had seemed just dandy between Monica and her fellow angels... what would I have written about while finding my footing?  Anything?  Maybe nothing?  So... wait for it... Yay for "Netherlands"!

2.  "As It Is In Heaven"- Without Jesse, I'm not sure there would be a Belle.  Seeing Kelly and Jesse together and knowing that, in the TBAA world, God allowed an angel to adopt a child... well, that really opened things up for me as far as what I could and couldn't do with Andrew.  It wasn't terribly long after this episode aired that I decided that, somehow, Andrew would wind up with a kid.  How he got said kid changed several times through the years (friend died and left the kid, found and rescued kid on his own, kid was dropped on his doorstep, assignment asked him to raise their kid after their death, and so on) but Jesse and Kelly inspired me to decide that, one way or another, Andrew would wind up as someone's dad.

3.  "Birthmarks"- Okay, while it's not a huge theme in either TBAA or the Dyeland stories, the idea of a life before birth has been really influential in my own life.  So when Monica assured Whit and Penny that their lil one had time with his daddy in Eternity... I knew I wanted to stay in TBAA's worldview for as long as possible.  Still there.  No plans to leave.

4.  "Two Sides to Every Angel"- Andrew was just so sad...  And I know he was plenty sad in other episodes but, for whatever reason, his sadness really got to me in that one.  It was during a viewing of this episode that I decided some of the original Dyeland characters had to grow up and function more as helpmates and equal friends as opposed to overly dramatic, quirky sidekicks.

5.  "The Face of God"/"Angel of Death"- Gloria's and Celeste's existences in the TBAA canon made me feel secure about creating Violeta... who I now love and want to adopt but that's a whole other list ("Top Ten Signs You Are Waaaay too Emotionally Wrapped Up in Your Characters").  I just really liked the idea that God is still creating angels but probably wouldn't have pursued it in Dyeland stories if TBAA had put the kibosh on the idea.

6.  "Remembering Me," "Amazing Grace," "Trust," "Seek and Ye Shall Find," "The Spirit of Liberty Moon," "Jacob's Ladder" and likely others not immediately springing to mind- I always assumed angels couldn't be harmed or get sick.  And, really, I still suspect that's true in the real world.  But I dunno.  Regardless, they could be harmed in TBAA's world and without that "Abide With Me" wouldn't have happened.  And that would have meant no Max, no Badriya, and no supernatural dream sequences.  I would have really missed all of that.  I also feel like just the mere idea of "immortal, not invincible" really drives the drama.  If we always knew the angels would come out totally okay... would we still watch/read/write?  Maybe not.

7.  "Face on the Barroom Floor"- Oh the continuity!  While TBAA had its continuity issues in several episodes, this one was the most egregious offender.  And because of it, I try really, really hard to maintain continuity with JABB.  I know I don't always succeed but this episode sure makes me try my best to.

8.  "An Unexpected Snow"- Adam's featured in my stories a lot more than is probably warranted by his limited TBAA screentime.  But when I first saw this episode, and it was one of the first TBAA episodes I ever saw, he won me over with his devotion to Alexander.  While I certainly like Adam in other episodes, I think it was this one which won him a place in Dyeland... with his turkey entourage.

9.  "The Journalist"/"The Violin Lesson"- All Andrew-Monica-Tess angst in my stories basically traces back to Monica failing to trust Andrew in "The Journalist" and Tess chewing him out in "The Violin Lesson."  While I may have overplayed "woe is Andrew" a lil too much, that theme kept me going during the early post-TBAA years.  I'm really quite glad to be over it but I also recognize that, without it, I probably wouldn't have kept writing.

10.  "I Will Walk with You"- Where to begin...  This episode really captured so much of what bothered me about TBAA.  Don't get me wrong.  I 90% love and adore TBAA.  But there's a 10% that gets me really riled...  Things that rile me about this finale: nonsensical inclusion of incarnate God, God's seeming preference for Monica, God just plain not being very warm or appealing, and a downer ending.  If TBAA had left me feeling upbeat, I'm not sure I would have felt the need to spend the 11 years following it writing stories about these characters.  But because I was irritated that God was allegedly visibly present at a make-believe school explosion and yet no mention was made of His being so present in Auschwitz... Joshua was at the death camps in Europe in "Chava."  Because "Zack" decided to announce Monica's promotion himself while leaving it up to Sam to tell Andrew... I've tried to hint at Joshua's direct involvement in all of the angels' work.  Because they're his kids and he loves them.  Duh.  Whereas "Zack" seemed stiff and chilly to me... Joshua hugs, kisses, dances, and clings.  And that downer ending...  I'll grant that Andrew, Gloria, Monica, and Tess really did go their own ways.  But they dealt with some interpersonal issues and now they all hang out again.  And, so help me God, Dyeland will not end on a downbeat note.  So, yep, I was really inspired by that two-parter... just maybe not in the way intended.  ;-)

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye whose portrayal of Andrew consistently encouraged us to try to be better, more patient, more compassionate people.  I know that his influence will be felt for years and years to come.


JABB 412

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