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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Men in Trees—Grand Gestures, or Can I Give You a Kidney?

On this week’s episode of Men in Trees ("A Tale of Two Kidneys") Marin’s question on her radio show was in response to Jack’s statement about not being a grand gesture kind of guy. So she asked her audience if grand gestures were the way to go or if it’s the little things that count. Can you ever give too much of yourself to another person?

Given the title of the episode and the fact that Cash was already in the hospital, it was pretty easy to figure out where the writers were headed with the grand gestures theme, and that part was okay. I just thought they got a few scenes in the wrong order.

Even before the episode started I knew Marin would want to give Cash a kidney. That’s the kind of person she is and, well, it’s Cash. And the way she looked at him through the window after she found out he needed a kidney? Heart wrenching. So yeah, Marin being tested was a given, but having her end up as the donor would have been way too obvious.

Unfortunately they also made it way too obvious that Terri would be the donor. Eliminating one or two scenes and moving a couple of others would have helped.

The scene with Annie and Terri in the beauty parlor was great, and Terri’s need to earn karmic points was well set up. After all, he’s the one who put that fateful bobby pin in Patrick’s hair—the bobby pin that attracted the lightening that struck Patrick on his wedding day and caused him to have amnesia. Hm. When I say it like that it sounds a bit preposterous but hey, it could happen!

I also liked the scene with Marin and Terri outside the hospital when she tells him that she was visiting Cash, but from the moment Terri walked into Cash’s room, I knew he was the donor. Marin being a match wasn’t enough of a red herring.

We didn’t need that first scene with Terri and Cash at all. They clearly don’t know each other, so why would Terri visit him? Marin could have given Terri the information about Cash not having a family. And still Terri could have delivered that great line about cutting Cash’s hair—or at least running his fingers through it—to Marin. That really was a great line, and so well delievered!

Having Terri redecorate Cash’s hospital room so early in the episode was out of place. A little foreshadowing is good, but this time it completely gave away the storyline.

I would have preferred to wait for Marin and Jack’s scene, when she tells him she’s a match but she’s not going through with it because someone else stepped up. Then cut to a hospital scene with Cash waking up his newly renovated hospital room—the tiki decor was a stroke of genius!—which would have been Terri’s way of saying, "Surprise!"

To motivate Terri’s decision to give a kidney to someone he hardly knows, all we needed was a short scene or two with him styling the wigs of a couple of cranky patients—and having to resist the urge to stick a couple of bobby pins in them!—then saying, "This is so not worth it." On his way out of the hospital, he would have passed the window, seen Cash sleeping, and made a comment on the dreary hospital decor. And the hair.

In all fairness, this episode’s writer is new to the show. You can check out his blog about "A Tale of Two Kidney’s" on the Men in Trees official website. And all in all there was much to love. Celia got her plate back, Jack got his name on Marin’s mailbox, and Annie got one kick butt hair cut. But I would have liked Terri’s grand gesture to more of a surprise.

To answer Marin’s question, it’s not always possible to make a grand gesture, but the little things can sure add up.

Talk to you soon.
Lee

PS: Any Janet Evanovich fans out there? In her Stephanie Plum books, it’s always been obvious that Stephanie belongs with Joe Morelli, but some readers thought she should throw caution to the wind and go for it with Ranger. I think the same is becoming true with the Marin-Jack-Cash scenario. I’m a big Jack and Marin fan, but I wouldn’t hate it if something were to happen between Marin and Cash.

PPS: I apologize for this post being so long. This is what happens when I get off on a tangent! Still, I honestly can’t imagine any group of writers having more fun than the people who work on Men in Trees.

4 comments:

Gillian Layne said...

Lee, you're so funny. I love the way you can enjoy the show and analyze it's faults at the same time! When I catch it, I adore 2 1/2 Men. The dialogue kills me. But I tend to hit and miss most shows.

And I totally agree about Stephanie/Joe. I'm assuming he'll be a death's door before she wakes up.

Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Gillian. I keep telling my family that the TV shows I watch teach me a lot about writing. So far they're not buying it :) but it's true!

The problem of having scenes out of place is something that happens to me - probably because I'm not a plotter.

When I finish my first draft, I jot a brief description of each scene on a Post-it note and lay out the notes in order on my dining room table.

That helps me see which scenes would work better if I moved them, which scenes needs to be cut (ack!) and where a new scene would help move the story forward.

It's a messy process, I know, but it's what I have to do. I think this MiT writer and I have something in common ;)

MaryF said...

Great post, and you're so right! I thought it was a great episode, but it would have been better your way ;)

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Mary! I wonder if they'd hire me!