"History has its eyes on you." ~~Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Hi all,

I hope everyone's doing well!

I knocked this one out pretty quickly so please excuse any typos!

God bless,

So the world of TBAA and the Dyeland stories have a lot of crossover but also a lot of differences.  I thought it might be interesting to lay the differences out.  However, I'm focusing on areas that both the show and the stories share and yet diverge on.  This isn't about the super obvious differences like different setting, different characters, etc.  It's more about what I see as the underlying philosophies.  So here goes...

Top Ten Differences Between TBAA and Dyeland

10.  I try to keep the Dyeland stories as consistent as possible.  That being said, I'm one person with a faulty memory.  I don't have a team of writers or even actors to remind me "But hey... that doesn't make sense with what happened in such and such episode..."  TBAA had that... but didn't seem inclined to care.  Probably the biggest continuity error is when Monica and Andrew met.  Was it in "The One That Got Away" or "The Face on the Barroom Floor"?  Both seemingly.  And that makes zero sense.  So in the Dyelandverse, "Barroom" simply never happened.  In the Dyeland stories, I think I have thus far avoided having the same characters meet for the first time twice.  Although there have been a handful of incidents where characters did meet earlier but didn't realize it because 1. one party was too young to remember (JenniAnn with Eli and sort of Ibrahim with Joshua), 2. both parties were young when they met and had physically changed enough that, when they met again, they looked very different (JenniAnn and Max), 3. aliases were used (JenniAnn was going by Psyche when she met lil Max), or 4. the original meeting happened online (Logan and Zelda).  I go to a lot of trouble to maintain continuity as best as I can and wouldn't deliberately sacrifice it for a story line so was always baffled when TBAA seemed not to care about it.

9.  The Dyeland stories can be darker in tone than TBAA could.  And I don't mean that in a condescending way.  TBAA was marketed as a family-friendly show... and one which a slew of people relied on for their livelihood.  They also had a network to please.  So, of course, they couldn't take big risks.  Plus, we need stuff that almost everyone can watch together.

8.  With the exception of biblical folks, I tend to shy away from writing stories about historical figures while TBAA featured several: Mark Twain, Charles Lindberg, Albert Einstein, the Lincolns, etc.  Part of that is I often don't have the time or inclination to read and research enough to feel like I have a solid grasp on a real person.  Another is the whole "problematic person" issue.  Like I'm glad Monica helped Charles Lindberg... but maybe she coulda spared 5 minutes to tell him to stop being so horribly anti-Semitic.  I think especially at this moment in time, one has to be very careful about cherry-picking what aspects of a person one highlights.  And that can really be too big of a task for a hobby.

7.  Nothing ever happens for ratings in Dyeland because there are no ratings!  Admittedly, I'm writing from a much more privileged place than the TBAA writers.  I don't have to do stunt casting or "very special episodes" or anything as a ratings grab in order to keep my people employed.  I have no people!  So I can write things strictly based on how it flows with the over-arching themes of the Dyeland stories.  Meanwhile, TBAA did have a dip in the ratings which prompted them to introduce the character of Gloria in a bid to attract younger viewers with a technologically astute, younger-seeming angel.  Setting aside the fact that I was in my late teens/early twenties at the time, already a fan, and found that mildly offensive (note: yes, a lot of us loved our computers... but we also knew the Holocaust was real)... it's just not the sort of decision I would ever need to make. 

6.  I don't mean to turn this into an anti-Gloria thing but...  Her introduction was, for me, a problem because I felt like when she came along, TBAA's God became a lot more... lackadaisical.  I expect God to be a better parent than human parents.  But with Gloria...  God seemed so hands off and bordered on negligent.  There was having her first introduction to the Holocaust coming from skinheads to making her think she was going to have to strip on live TV to having her be someone's date for his reunion.  This was weird for me as a viewer who had seen her being created not even a full year before and, thus, couldn't see her as an adult even though she was in an adult body... but it also made God seem careless.  So I try to avoid anything that seems like it might be a fun or interesting plot point but would reflect badly on God.  God asks for difficult things from all of us, that's for sure.  But I don't think He means for children to be put in compromising positions.  And, yes, maybe it was my mistake in thinking of Gloria as a child... but if they didn't want me to do that then 1. don't show me her birth and 2. don't get quoted in articles about how she's meant to parallel "kids today." 

5.  I think my idea of the purpose of angels and TBAA's idea of the purpose of angels is different.  And I will fully admit that I am probably in the minority with this one but... I believe God loves angels as much as He loves humans as much as He loves dogs as much as He loves cats as much...  I believe that if something is born with the capacity to love and the desire to be loved, God loves that creation as much as He loves anything.  Because God is limitless and so is His love.  It's not like He's up there rationing His time and attention because He only has so much to go around.  That's a creature thing to do... not a Creator thing to do.  So sometimes TBAA seemed to suggest, at least to me, that God loves humans above angels and I just don't follow that line of thought.  So I try to write in a way that shows God working towards the good for ALL of the characters, not the humans at the expense of the angels or the angels at the expense of the humans.  Angels and humans both go through rough times, sometimes for the sake of the other, but always for a purpose and mutual good.  And I actually think, as a whole, TBAA expressed that idea because we do see the angels advancing and becoming more self-actualized and fulfilled.  There was just occasionally some dialogue that I felt undermined that a bit. 

4.  TBAA definitely integrated music a lot more than I do.  Granted, it's a lot easier to integrate music into a TV show which is a visual and audio medium whereas the Dyeland stories are just text.  But I used to do a much better job of making playlists for stories and writing musical cues into the stories.  I miss that and hope to get back to it.

3.  Whereas TBAA had to be more generally spiritual in order to appeal to the largest possible audience so as to stay on the air, the Dyeland stories have no such issue.  Therefore, especially in recent years, they've become much more overtly Christian.

2.  And the above means Joshua can have a MUCH bigger part in the stories than Zack had on TBAA.  The latter only showed up at the very end while Joshua's been popping up in stories for a number of years now and likely will until the end. 

1.  The entire human/angel anam cara thing is a pretty significant departure from TBAA but... also inspired by it.  More than once Monica seemed quite drawn to an assignment and that reached it zenith with Mike in "Netherlands."  I felt like that was significant.  For her to have been at all tempted by a future with Mike, there must have been some genuine desire in her for some sort of relationship beyond what she had with God and the other angels.  So between that, the following C.S. Lewis quote, and the writings of John O'Donohue, the anam cara theory was born. 

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

My twist on that was if Monica found in herself a desire that her life as a caseworker angel didn't satisfy... maybe she was made for something else in addition to that.  Something beyond marriage, though.  Because the Bible specifically says that angels don't marry.  So... enter anam caras.  And, of course, I was going to give one to Andrew since he's my favorite.  And then, eventually, I gave Monica's back to her in the form of Arthur.  Yay!

Andrew's Thoughts While Watching Hamilton

In an ideal world, I would have the time and energy to write a ficlet about Andrew and family watching Hamilton but, alas, I have neither.  So instead you get this accumulation of things Andrew would have been overheard to say whilst watching... in order.  Unfortunately, it makes pretty much zero sense if you've not seen the show so you may want to skip it.  Bonus: You can probably tell which member of the company I ended up with a lil crush on.

"No.  I actually never met either Hamilton or Burr.  And I still haven't.  No... that doesn't mean they're not in Heaven.  It just means Heaven has lots of people and I haven't had the honor yet."

"'I mean 'talk less, smile more' isn't necessarily bad advice..."

"Yes, Violeta, I'm sure that one year Shelby and Belle will agree to dress up with you as the Schuyler sisters for Halloween."

"No.  Never met King George III, either.  But he's right about one thing...  Oceans rise and empires fall.  I've seen a lot of both..."

"Yes, Laja...  George Washington is very handsome in this."

"No, I've never met Lin-Manuel Miranda, either.  I wish...  But, I mean, not in my official capacity, of course."

::whispered to JenniAnn::  "So we have a solid two weeks of Violeta flitting around the castle singing 'Helpless' now, don't we?"

::to himself::  "I feel for ya, Angelica!  I don't think I could have given a toast if Laja had married Eliot."  ::shudders::

"No, Max.  I was never in a duel.  I don't think God would allow that.  I do think a handful of angels served as seconds, though.  Obviously, they always tried to resolve the disagreement before anyone took a shot.  That didn't always work.  Free will, ya know..."

::sniffling as "Dear Theodosia" starts::  "Come here, Avi Boy.  Daddy just wants to hold you for a little while."

"Okay, I did briefly meet Thomas Jefferson.  He wasn't at all like this.  Pretty reserved, actually.  But wow...  What a performance!"

"Laja, why are you giggling?  Oh right... Washington.  What else has that guy been in?  Not sure I want you watching any of it..."  ::chuckling::

"Oooh boy....  Cue the Reynolds Pamphlet.  Yeah...  I've read it.  Yikes."

"'It must be nice...  It must be nice... to have Washington on your side.'  That really gets stuck in your head, doesn't it?"

"It's all right, Laja...  You'll see Washington again at the curtain call at least.  But, seriously... this song packs an emotional punch, doesn't it?  I can remember when his farewell address came out...  "

"And there's the pamphlet...  Poor Eliza."

"Definitely poor Eliza."

"Max, I love you.  I trust you...  But I would absolutely never let you have my gun... if I even had a gun.  Which I don't."

"Belle...  Belle... come sit with Daddy.  Please..."  ::covering her ears::  "That scream...  Too familiar to me...  I'll be all right, Laja."

"Laja... come here...  It'll be all right."  ::sniffles::  "Where's my handkerchief???"

"Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius..."

And one can assume that JenniAnn was equally emotional and that she and Andrew probably danced for a while after getting the kids to bed and discussed the last few seconds of the show at great length.

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for his work in "The Sign of the Dove" and "Beautiful Dreamer" which are still among my favorite TBAA episodes and gave me patriotic feels a la Hamilton

JABB Portal
JABB 575

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)