"Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
~~Native American Proverb

Hi all,

Welcome to Spring!  I hope you're having a good start to the week!

God bless,

Top Ten Changes I'd Make to a Very Hypothetical TBAA Reboot

So with the recent return of Law and Order and other TV shows that have either recently been rebooted or aired a season after several years off the air, I've been wondering about what a TBAA reboot would look like if it were done.  To be clear, I haven't heard anything about TBAA being rebooted in several years.  I don't know that it's very likely.  But supposing it did happen... as much as I loved the original TBAA, that doesn't mean I don't think improvements could be made.  And some of the items below might not even so much be improvements as just things more tuned to my personal taste.  But it's interesting to think about so here goes...

10.  Potentially the most obvious one first...  Hire a continuity editor.  Or several.  While there was an online fan community during TBAA's first run, fan communities can now be much bigger and much better organized.  Several have started wikis and detailed tvtropes.org pages.  Repeatedly changing how two main characters met is not going to fly today.  Continuity errors still happen.  There's no way to stop them entirely.  But there's really no excuse for ones that are that massive. 

9.  I wouldn't have a main character.  It would be a full-on ensemble.  I loved Monica in the first half of the show.  That faltered in the second half.  And yet she was still the main focus of the show so some of the later episodes can be a bit of a slog for me.  I understand many, many people loved Monica for the full nine seasons.  But I just don't think it makes sense to put so much focus on one character that audiences may not relate to or even be annoyed by.  Which brings me to...

8.  Make the cast bigger and more diverse.  When I think of the shows that I really love right now, they're stuff like The Chosen, This Is Us, and Ghosts.  Those shows all have ten or so people in their main cast.  I don't think TBAA would need that many.  Maybe six?  But having a bigger cast makes it less likely that an out-sized amount of focus is going to go to one character.  I also think it would probably be a more pleasant working environment for the actors because when you have a larger cast, someone can pretty easily be written out of two or three or even more episodes a season as they need for their own life circumstances.  This would also grow the audience, I think.  I mean think about it... if someone really didn't like Monica, they probably just didn't watch TBAA.  But if Monica was only the "star" of a sixth of the episodes, people who didn't like her might still watch because five out of six episodes might work for them.

7.  Along the same lines with wanting a bit more freedom and flexibility for the cast... I would have the characters occasionally say something like "Angels don't age... well, not exactly.  But if you spend enough time on Earth, it begins to show.  For all the beauty and wonder, it can be hard.  And stressful.  So maybe you'll notice a smile line that didn't used to be there.  Maybe a gray hair... or a dozen... or a hundred.  But that's okay.  They're just signs that we care."  I think if the show went on for a good stretch of time, it would prevent anyone from feeling like they had to obscure normal signs of human aging. 

6.  This one is touchy and maybe a bit hypocritical coming from me but... I would decide early on if the show was going to be Christian or just generally spiritual and stick with it.  For the most part, TBAA was the latter.  But every so often the curtain would be pulled back and it would be made clear that the show was clearly operating within the Christian worldview.  And I always wondered how that felt for, say, Jewish fans.  And I really wonder how it would have felt if someone has invested 9 years into the show only to have the series finale go full bore Christian if they weren't Christian and started watching the show after TPTB assured them it wasn't a Christian show.  That being said... I fully realize that I started the Dyeland stories and had them be generally spiritual only to then go in a Christian direction.  I don't think it's fair to hold myself to the same standards as a TV show, of course.  I pay for this web site (as opposed to being paid as with a TV show), I do the vast majority of the writing and editing, I do all of the upkeep.  Me publishing a story doesn't take space away from something else in the same way that a TV episode airing at a particular time means nothing else can air on that station at that time.  But I bring this up because while Joshua had a couple of brief appearances prior to 2011, for the most part he was brought in to help me get back on track in the wake of John Dye's passing.  And I understand that the crew behind a TV show could also come face to face with a tragedy that would make them maybe cling more to a particular narrative.  I'm not saying that happened with TBAA.  I don't know.  I'm just saying I can understand how people would have the best of intentions to remain neutral but then find that position unsustainable in the wake of trouble.  So while I think this would be a good guideline... it's also maybe the one I would have the most sympathy for if it was abandoned.

5.  More historical episodes!  I just think they're a fun way to shake things up and the costuming is always fun.  I would actually make it a point to give every character a flashback episode.  I think it really connects a viewer to a character to see them during a more uncertain phase in their life. 

4.  I would avoid the "angels don't have wings" thing.  While it never bothered me when I watched the show, I think it's needlessly divisive.  The Bible describes some angels as having wings.  People have claimed to see angels with wings.  It's just a goofy thing to introduce since it could be off-putting to people.  Have someone say "Angels don't always have wings" or "Not all angels have wings" or something to explain in-show why your angels don't have wings.  But putting the kibosh on the idea entirely is odd to me.

3.  Hire a "Show God."  This person (or people) would be behind-the-scenes representing God.  It would be their responsibility to speak up whenever they think a plot or even a line puts God in an unflattering light.  A lot of the qualms I have with TBAA come down to ways in which I think they unintentionally made God look sloppy.  For example, the Gloria plot line in "The Blue Angel."  Horrible!  Someone should have said "Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  There are better ways to accomplish what you want than to make it seem like God left this baby angel to think she was going to have to strip on friggin' TV!"  They would also be responsible for pointing out bigger blind spots like why God seems so much more involved in Monica's progression than in Andrew's.

2.  Rid the show of any vestiges of toxic masculinity.  This wasn't something that I noticed when I initially watched the show as a teenager.  But it really popped out to me when I re-watched the show in my twenties and thirties.  Monica especially but even Tess were allowed a lot more emotional expression than Andrew was.  They were also shown as getting more support when emotional than Andrew was.  And then there was this stunner spoken to a male assignment in "Heaven's Portal": “What if God was depressed? What if He turned His back on His children every time things didn't go the way He wanted them to?“  What the heck...  I mean, firstly, apples and oranges, Tess.  Holding humans to the same standards as the all-knowing, ever-present, eternal God is... a choice.  I watched this episode several times without realizing how truly disturbing that quote was.  I mean just as a thought experiment, think about how that would have played if Andrew or another masculine angel had said that to a female assignment.  I think it would have, rightly, raised some red flags.  The father in the episode was making some selfish decisions.  But there were much, much better ways to tackle that than call into question his depression. 

1.  I would not want Andrew to be re-cast.  It would just be too upsetting.  I actually wouldn't want any returning characters.  I'd want the show to start fresh.  But if there was an Andrew-like character... I'd want him to get much more attention and many more episodes centered around him.  And surely this is the least surprising thing on this list.  :-)

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for bringing his compassion and sensitivity to TBAA.

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(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.)