Monday, August 15, 2005

Melissa Sue in Beat The Turtle Drum

For all of you out there anxiously awaiting ER recaps, the new season starts on September 22. As is my nature, I have been overenthusiastically torturing myself by reading the spoilers for this season. Needless to say, I’ve seen much to bitch about already. And from what I’ve read, Without A Trace will probably have a nice boost in ratings after the viewing public, who will tune in to the first post-Noah Wyle episode which should obviously have been written to keep them from tuning out but is so obviously not, finally abandons the show more quickly then Sherry Stringfield dumped it this summer. I am psyched for the addition of Kristen Johnston from Third Rock from the Sun to the cast, though. Here’s hoping My Gal Sal can infuse some energy and fun into the show. Although I highly doubt it.

The most awesome things in my so far uninspired TV viewing summer have happened this week. On Sunday, while shopping at the local “Family Dollar” store, I came across a DVD in the bargain bin – is there such as thing at a dollar discount store? – of two "After School Specials" from 1976 – 77! The titles are Francesca, Baby, which I don’t remember, and Beat the Turtle Drum which I sort of do because it stars everyone’s favorite Blind Prairie Bitch, Melissa Sue Anderson! I was so excited I almost high-fived myself right there in the electronics aisle. To make matters even better, when I got home from work on Monday there was a package waiting for me from my wonderful friend Michelle and what was in it? TWO After School Special (hereafter referred to as ASS) DVD's – each with 4 episodes! The first is from 1978 -79, including yet another Melissa Sue show, My Other Mother, with Richie Cunningham’s mom Marion, and Thank You, Jackie Robinson featuring Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman, known then as Flicka. Heh. The second is from 1979 – 80, and features one of the sappiest episodes ever, Schoolboy Father, with Rob Lowe. Needless to say, I am in cranky recapping heaven and Michelle is now my favorite person in the world. And she will remain so if she loans me the copy of the best bad 70’s TV movie, Bad Ronald, that I just gave her for her birthday.

Beat The Turtle Drum

Our story begins with a close-up shot of a girl’s hand fondling a … rock? Uh, okay. As the camera pans around a suitably 70’s bedroom with pictures of horses and an unslept-in bed (uh oh, not a good sign) Melissa Sue voiceover tells us that “Joss” had turned 11 that month, and that she is 13 and that oddly enough, they were very good friends, considering that they were sisters and Joss was her parents’ favorite. Everyone’s favorite. Smells like teen angst. Awesome. In the monotone drone of a kid reading a book report in front of the class, Melissa Sue tells us how she is perceptive about these things and that she plans on being a poet and a playwright when she is 21 because she is just that talented. And that if her family were on a sinking boat with only one life vest, they would give it to Joss. Aw, Mary, first Half-Pint steals your prairie thunder, now Joss. But she’s not bitter, no, she understands why her sister was the favorite because she was her favorite too. Mom, sporting a Bonnie Franklin hairdo, and Dad with the pre-perm Mike Brady side-parted do, enter the room and ask Melissa Sue if she’s “ready to go”. They’re garbed in dark clothes, though Melissa Sue is wearing something that I just know she stole from the prairie wardrobe department, minus the bonnet. Mom and Dad ask her if she coming, and reassure her that she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to, to which she replies sadly “It’s not that I don’t want to … I can’t”. Uh oh. Mom and Dad leave her to wallow in her self pity.

Exterior of the house. We hear a car door slam, and then Melissa Sue appears in the window yelling for them to wait. Cut to a hearse and limo driving through a cemetery while the opening credit roles and the title Very Good Friends comes on. What??? Okay, now I understand the bargain bin thing. Looks like Joss is played by Katy Kurtzman, who did all sorts of guest spots and TV movies in the 70’s, including Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker, not to be confused with the Eve Plumb masterpiece, Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway. Sad piano music plays as Melissa Sue drones on about how great Joss was and how upset everyone is. Then they’re walking the casket to the gravesite and the minister is scripture reading while flashbacks of Joss riding a horse while Melissa Sue watches are interspersed. At the gravesite, we get close-ups of Melissa Sue fondling that rock again, so I guess it’s important. Melissa Sue places a yellow rose on the casket and says “Sorry, Joss. It should have been me … it should have been me.”

Cut to what we’ve seen in the flashback. Melissa Sue yells at Joss that it’s time to go, so Joss dismounts the horse and smiling, comes over and hugs Melissa Sue. There’s also a little boy with them, though we haven’t seen him before. A man comes over and takes the horse. There’s some back and forth between the man, Mr. Essex, and Joss, which ends with him saying in a Katharine Hepburn-esque New England drawl “you drive a hahd bargain”. I’m not really following, so Melissa Sue asks “what’s going on?”. Thanks, Melissa Sue. The little boy then explains, which again I don’t understand. I feel like Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so I yell “Mumbler!” at the screen, but it doesn’t help and I still don’t get what they are saying. They go to the trouble of putting the ASS’s on DVD, but they can’t closed caption them? Whatever. I’m going to have to rely on monotone Melissa to explain it to me. It’s something to do with Joss being allowed to ride the horse exclusively for a whole week and it only costing $30, which she’s sure Grandma will give her for her birthday.

Now they are in a bookstore and Melissa Sue is asking bookstore lady for some title that sounds a little bit much for a 13 year old, but I guess we are supposed to believe that Melissa Sue is just that deep. Joss taps her on the shoulder smiling and holds up a book she wants, “The Art of Loving”. Melissa Sue’s a bit scandalized and says that maybe Grandma will send her that instead of a check. Yeah, my grandma would so do that. Joss puts it back on the shelf and starts browsing. While Melissa Sue pays for her book, bookstore lady gives Joss the evil eye like Joss is a clepto and is just going to steal the book anyway.

Joss and Melissa Sue are riding their banana seat bikes and are stopped by a bitchy old neighbor lady, Miss Pemberly, who looks just like Barbara Bush, right down to the brooch on her suit jacket. Barbara starts yelling at them that their dog, Seamus, knocked over her trash can and what are they going to do about it. Joss argues with Barbara, who tells her “you are at the bottom of every bit of mischief that occurs in this community”. Ouch. I guess Joss wasn’t Barbara’s favorite, though I do recognize her from among the mourners, so I guess she had a change of heart. Joss channels Jan Brady and angrily flounces away. Melissa Sue apologizes and says she’ll clean it up. Barbara says no, she intends “to let it lie there to shame the entire neighborhood”, and huffs back into her house.

Melissa Sue meets up with Joss, who is wearing a shirt that has “JOSS” velvety ironed-on to one side with the letters starting at her breast area and going up to her shoulder. Joss complains about how bitchy Barbara is, and Melissa Sue just dismisses it as her not liking kids, or dogs, but wonders if she likes horses. Joss makes a smart ass comment that is again mumbled, so I don’t catch it, but her eyerolling while saying it was kind of funny. Though it does make me wonder how she could have been anyone’s favorite.

Melissa Sue (I just realized that they haven’t told us her name yet, maybe they don’t even bother to name non-favorite children in this family) and Joss enter the house carrying groceries, which seems really weird considered their banana bikes didn’t have baskets on them. Joss walks past Dad working at his desk and announces that he doesn’t have to worry about her birthday because she is “renting a horse”. Ah, the mumbling now falls into place.

In the kitschy kitchen, Dad, after draping his arm over Bonnie Franklin’s shoulder because no self-respecting 70’s TV dad could make a point without showing parental solidarity, exposits that he did not approve such horse renting. And that there are city livestock ordinances that again, I don’t follow. I really wish that I could get in touch with my grade school self because I am sure I would understand this story much better. Joss with eyes glazing over says that it has been her life long 11 year old dream to own a horse. The parents are blustering, but Joss happily informs them how she has it all figured out and that she is going to get her friends to help her build a temporary barn for the horse in exchange for rides. And Mr. Essex is throwing in the feed and saddle – the hahd bargain mystery explained. Mom wonders what happens if Grandma doesn’t send her usual check, which Melissa Sue snarkily answers “she might send a book”. Heh. Joss shoots her a look before turning back to try to convince the parents, who are having none of it. Dad’s worried about legal issues and what happens if the horse breaks a leg, and what Barbara is going to have to say about it. Mom adds something in her best Charlie Brown teacher voice, to which Melissa Sue has an epiphany and says “I’ve got an idea!” and runs out of the house.

She runs across the street to Barbara’s trash can and starts picking it up. Barbara comes out and Melissa Sue says hi and that she’s going to clean up the mess. Barbara says to be “sure to pick up every speck”. Shut up, Barbara. Five minutes ago you wanted the whole neighborhood to ogle the atrocity of trash in the driveway. Melissa Sue kisses Barbara’s ass about how everyone admires her house and yard, to which Barbara preens. Melissa Sue stands up and we see that on her jeans she has a denim colored iron-on patch right on her ass. Are the budgets so low on ASS’s that they couldn’t afford to outfit the “star” in a new pair of Toughskins? Melissa Sue and Barbara talk about her lawn and Melissa Sue comments that it could use some manure and maybe she could get some from her dad for Barbara. Barbara beams at Melissa Sue who with eyes twinkling says “Don’t worry Miss Pemberly, I’ll get that manure for you.” Is there a correlation between the iron-on patch on the ass and manure spreading? Because I really don’t want to know.

Cut to smiling tweens building the barn. Not a parental figure in sight. Where did these kids learn carpentry? My mom wouldn’t let me use a hammer at 11, let alone the nails. But that may be because we probably didn’t have a hammer, considering my dad’s idea of home repair consisted of what could be done with duct tape and chewing gum, so I’m sure MacGuyver didn’t even have a toolbox. Camera pulls back to show the backyard littered with lumber and bikes. One kid even has the motocross-looking bike that I coveted when I was six. Lucky. The little boy who was with Joss and Melissa Sue at the stables is there. Thank God. I was wondering what had happened to him and had hoped that Melissa Sue just wasn’t in the habit of picking up strange boys at the livery. I’m sure Mrs. Oleson would definitely have had something to say about that. The little Jezebel.

Anyway, next we’re inside the house with Bonnie Franklin when Dad comes home and they share a completely passionless Mike & Carol Brady type smooch and exchange pleasantries. Dad looks out the window and asks what the kids are doing. “Building a playhouse?” Hello, Dad, I know you are a seemingly busy professional type but did you not pay attention in the kitchen 2 scenes ago when Joss told you about the barn building? No wonder kids complain that parents don’t understand – they obviously don’t listen. Mom explains and Dad retorts that he “doesn’t remember giving them permission”. Bonnie, smirking, replies that he “didn’t exactly say no”. Dad does the patented Mike Brady disapproving frown with his mouth and they head outside. Dad heads over to the barn building and like Big Sam the foreman in Gone With the Wind announces to the group that it’s “quittin’ time” and tries to say its because there’s a storm brewing. The kids drop their tools and hightail it out of there leaving Joss and Melissa Sue to clean up the mess. Nice. Dad disapprovingly inspects the structure, shaking his head. Joss looks scared. Dad then totally fakes Joss out by telling her the barn is “fine looking”, and they share a Kodak moment. Awww.

Joss is looking out the window at the barn as we see lightning and hear thunder. Guess Dad wasn’t making up the bit about the storm. Camera pulls back and we see that we are in the opening scene’s bedroom and there are two beds this time. Oh, that’s sad. Melissa Sue’s laying in one bed reading her book. There’s a West Highland Terrier sitting on her bed, so I guess this is the infamous “Seamus”. Joss climbs on her bed and Melissa Sue asks her about “Jean Pierre” and whatever happened to him. Joss says she misses him a lot. One day he said he was going to visit his family and never came back. Melissa Sue asks why she doesn’t just pretend he is still there like she used to. I was started to get really weirded out by this until I realized they were talking about Joss’ imaginary friend. Oh, and Joss calls Melissa Sue “Kate”, so I guess she does have a name after all, unless Joss just imagined one for her. I think I’m just going to keep calling her Melissa Sue. We hear a crash off camera and Joss and Melissa Sue run to the window. Joss and Seamus run downstairs and out the back door. Joss slows down and walks resignedly over to the barn, which has been reduced to a heap of wood, and it is no longer raining and it's sunny. That was a really weird edit.

But Joss will not be defeated and returns to kitschy kitchen and announces to the rest of the family at the table that she will just house the horse in the garage, after she’s “scrubbed it out” of course. She also tells Dad he can’t park in the garage because her horse will be in there. Why is she the favorite again? Her pushiness is not endearing, it’s annoying. Dad just asks if he’s supposed to leave his car at the station and take a taxi. Joss thinks that’s a good idea, although she also suggests he can leave it on the street. Dad asks what he gets in exchange. Joss replies that he gets to have the first ride on Prince, which I hope to God is the name of the horse and she’s not referring to the diminutive singer. Mom, Dad and Melissa Sue just laugh, so I guess it’s a done deal. I wish my parents were such pushovers.

Little Boy is back, though I should really call him something so I guess he’ll be Mike Teevee. Again, don’t understand a word he’s saying, though I don’t think it’s really important to the story. It’s Joss’ birthday and he gave her a stone that’s shaped like a heart (the rock!) and it says “You’re a good person. I love you.” To which Melissa Sue shakes his hand which is really weird. Someone is at the door and Joss and Mike Teevee run over there like bats out of hell. It’s the mailman, who’s a little too friendly and knows he’s delivering birthday cards to Joss. It’s a little creepy. All Joss can talk about is the horse and she’s been waiting for her birthday check from her grandmother. She really is insufferable. The mailman tells her some inane story about his sister who lives in an apartment building in Bridgeport (guess I was right about the New England thing) and had a horse and how it wasn’t easy to get it up five flights. Huh? Go away, Mr. Postman. So he does.

Joss starts opening her cards, saving Grandma’s for last. She opens one with a sour pickle expression on her face and bitches that it’s from Angie, that “silly girl at school”. She really needs to be smacked. Everyone’s got their fingers crossed as she opens Grandma’s card. And of course it’s a check for $25 and she hugs the check and there is much rejoicing.

Joss, Melissa Sue and Mike Teevee go running to some house and knock on the door. A woman who reminds me of Flo, fresh from Mel’s Diner, answers the door and wants everyone to admire her new bouffant and invites them in to meet the hairdresser, who has a Foxy Brown fro, so obviously doesn’t do her own hair. She never changes her expression or reacts in any way as she’s introduced to the kids, which again is just weird. Flo starts pouring coffee for the kids – I kid you not, and they banter about Joss working as a “stable person”, which I guess is how she is going to raise the extra cash since cheap ass Grandma didn’t come up with the full $30. I think Flo is Mrs. Essex because she talks about how her husband took Prince out for the day and she’s not sure when they’ll be back. Joss says they’ll wait. More banter about it being her birthday. Melissa Sue keeps shooting looks at Joss, which I don’t get until I realize Joss is wearing her hair in pigtails and Melissa Sue must be having a prairie flashback of the other Melissa, so Joss just might get the smackdown after all. Joss is looking at Foxy and tells her she’s figured out who she reminds her of – Elizabeth Taylor. This elicits smiles all around, even from Foxy. Flo tells her she’s made a friend for life and gives her a present. It looks like a pin, but Joss unhelpfully does not hold it up for me so I can’t be positive. She hugs Flo and thanks her.

Mr. Essex drives up in his pickup. He gets out and is wearing this outfit that I know I saw Lamont’s friend Rollo wear on a Sanford and Son rerun recently. Flo starts berating him for forgetting Joss’ birthday. Joss gives him the money and asks him to load up and deliver Prince. He starts messing with her and tells her he’s got too many other things to do. Flo gets all in his face and reassures Joss that Prince will be at her house by nightfall, and then fixes Essex with a withering look. Essex obviously isn’t getting any for a while. And the image I just got … ewww.

The kids get on their bikes – hey, Mike Teevee has the motocross bike! If he lived in my neighborhood he would so be my best friend too. They’re still talking about Foxy looking like Elizabeth Taylor – which she so does not. Joss then says how she read somewhere “that if you tell a person they are beautiful, they get more beautiful”, and that “she was better looking” when they left. That Joss! She just spreads the joy.

Joss is cleaning out the garage and Melissa Sue asks something like “Where’s Tootie?”, which has me immediately getting excited thinking that Blair, Fatalie and Jo might show up, but then realize she was referring to Mike Teevee. Damn. This ASS could use a little Mrs. Garrett to spice it up. Seems Joss sent him home because he was making her “nervous”. Of course that comment isn’t explained. Some random girls walk into the yard and Joss yells how the horse isn’t there and to come back tonight. They yell “okay” and leave. Melissa Sue suggests they go up into their treehouse. If they have a treehouse, why did Dad think they were building a playhouse? This show hurts my brain. They climb up into the treehouse with Melissa Sue magically carrying a blanket as the clarinet-laden song of sisterhood plays in the background. They are back to talking about Jean Pierre again. Melissa Sue says that when she writes her first novel it will be about Joss and Jean Pierre and she’ll call it “The Invisible Companion”. Foreshadowing how her sister’s spirit will be her “invisible companion” soon? Just then they spot one of their friends in the backyard and Joss says they need to be quiet, because there’s the enemy. God, she’s hateful. Melissa Sue says she forgot, there is an enemy and she has to go warn Barbara about the impending arrival of Prince. She leaves Joss in the tree and goes to see Barbara.

Barbara lets her in and is wearing some purple outfit with batwings, which strangely seems to suit her. She invites Melissa Sue to sit down, and picks up the glass of sherry that she was drinking, the decanter sitting on the table next to her. She thankfully doesn’t offer Melissa Sue any, but goes on to talk about how “when one lives alone it is so easy to resort to alcohol”. Nice. This ain’t Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic so let’s keep the liquor bit to a minimum, okay Barbara? She actually toasts Melissa Sue, downs the glass and then refills. Wasn’t this show on at like four in the afternoon? Melissa Sue silently judges her. Barbara asks Melissa Sue if she can get her anything, and realizes that she is too young for alcohol. Melissa Sue responds that she is 13. Barbara wistfully comments that she was 13 when her mother died, and downs another glass. She starts babbling about how she made up her mind to keep house for her father and how hard she tried to make him happy. Please, God, don’t let this turn into a Something About Amelia story because I will really just lose it. But no, Barbara goes on to tell us that her dad got re-married a year after her mother died. I had to replay that because I at first thought she said she had gotten married the following year, which would go a long way to explaining why Barbara is so fucked up. But, no, she’s just bitter because Daddy was too busy with his new wife to pay much attention to her. Barbara talks about how terrible it is to feel in the way in your own house, which I guess is the point of this because that’s how Melissa Sue is going to feel soon, but right now she’s just like WTF?

Barbara finally gets it that there is an actual reason why Melissa Sue is there and not just to hear her tales of woe. Melissa Sue realizes now probably isn’t the best time to tell Barbara about the horse, so instead tells her that the manure is being delivered tonight. Which I guess in a way is true. This make Barbara happy. Melissa Sue does a total Mary Ingalls move of staring pointedly at Barbara as she backs out of the room. Barbara smiles to herself and looks at her sherry.

It’s very dark and you can just make out a couple of kids jumping rope, and another doing wheelies on a bike. What, did they use ER’s lighting director for this scene, because you really can’t see what’s going on.

Cut to Melissa Sue sitting on a couch reading and Joss at the window expectantly looking for the horse delivery.

Cut back to the EXACT same scene with the jump rope and wheelies. Then a kid yelling “I see him!” and excited string music playing. Melissa Sue and Joss coming running out. Kids are cheering. The suspense is killing me. Ooh, they threw in some Taxi theme-sounding keyboard playing in there. Essex shoos the kids away from the trailer and unloads Prince. Where are Mom and Dad? Joss is pushing kids out of the way so she can be up front. Kids are saying stuff like “wow” and “let’s ride him” - yeah, that’s going to happen in the dark. Joss yells for everyone to be quiet because she obviously has something important to say. “Nobody’s going to have the first ride tonight, not even me.” Uh, Joss, don’t you remember that you promised Dad the first ride? “Welcome to your new home.” Dude, you only get him for a week. It’s technically just a vacation, not a real house move, so shut it. Then she dismisses all the other kids. I am so not going to be sad when she’s gone. Oh, there’s Mom and Dad on the porch doing the parental solidarity hug thing again and watching the proceedings.

Joss is beaming until Melissa Sue points out that they are being watched. They look over to see the hideous face of Barbara watching them from her window.

Another too dark scene. This time someone is having a nightmare and screaming. I think it’s Melissa Sue, but really it’s too dark to tell. No, it’s Joss and she’s yelling for Jean Pierre to come back. Are we on this again? Let it go, Joss. The light comes on and Melissa Sue shakes Joss awake. Joss brats “why do you always wake me up”, and Melissa Sue rightfully replies “because you wake ME up with your screaming”. Joss relates the nightmare. She and Jean Pierre were riding horses by the river. JP fell off into the water and Joss tried to rescue him but couldn’t. Ah ha! Flute music of sisterly concern plays as Melissa Sue comforts Joss by saying someone told her that if you put your shoes under the bed with the soles up, it will stop nightmares and that they should try it. Sounds like shenanigans to me, but Joss buys it. Melissa Sue was actually very sweet in this scene. She never showed Laura this kind of compassion on the prairie.

Mom and Dad are taking Polaroids of the kids on the horse. Everyone is wearing plaid for some reason. Very strange.

Joss magnanimously allows the other kids to have turns riding Prince. Dad gets on too and makes some stupid ass cowboy move like he’s John Travolta on the mechanical bull. Joss and Melissa Sue are both riding Prince out into the street. What was it Dad said about ordinances because I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be allowed to do this. The other kids are gathered round and there’s some corny clippety cloppety cowpoke music. And uh oh, here comes Barbara. She runs past the kids and up the steps of Joss’ house to complain to Mom and Dad. Melissa Sue dismounts and follows her.

Dad and Melissa Sue are standing behind a door eavesdropping on Mom and Barbara. Barbara predictably is going to “report this to the proper authorities”, at which point Mom reminds her that Dad is an attorney and he will take action himself. Barbara’s all “wha?” as Dad and Melissa Sue giggle. Mom pleads that it’s only for a week and how responsible Joss is. Barbara backs down in the face of Joss’ wonderfulness and she and Mom actually trade smiles. But Barbara gets in one last shot about hoping that the “animal doesn’t infest the neighborhood with flies”, like the trash that she left rotting in the driveway didn’t already do that. Mom retorts that the horse will provide the fertilizer that Melissa Sue had promised, which seems to pacify Barbara. That seemed a little too easy, but it’s getting towards the end of the show and they haven’t killed off Joss yet, so I guess they had to pick up the pace.

Joss is cleaning the horse’s hooves, while Mike Teevee brushes him out.

Melissa Sue sits under a tree writing while Seamus is running around her and Joss is riding Prince around the backyard. Voiceover tells us that Melissa Sue is writing about Barbara’s childhood. She talks about how she asked Mom if what happened to Barbara scars you for life. Mom said it might if you didn’t have much else to think about. Melissa Sue ruminates on what leaves scars and what doesn’t as we get close-ups of Joss.

Joss is sweeping up the manure as we see Melissa Sue wearing gloves and carrying a bucket over to Barbara’s. She spreads some around the trees as Barbara’s watches approvingly from the window.

Back to the treehouse and the Jean Pierre discussion. This show is just going on forever. Please kill Joss off so we can have some angst. Joss is talking about how bad she feels because she didn’t bring Jean Pierre to the beach with her on vacation. Melissa Sue says bring him back and she can take him with her wherever she goes, but Joss is having none of it and wistfully says that he is gone. Joss gets worried because she can’t see Prince. Okay, here we go. I think we’re coming up on the moment. Joss leans forward and falls out of the treehouse. That’s it? I’ve waited this long for that? Kind of anticlimactic, but I guess I should just be glad that she’s gone. Melissa Sue very woodenly asks if Joss is alright, but Joss ain’t moving. Melissa Sue climbs down the stairs and is starting to panic because she realizes something is very wrong. She runs to get Mom. The piano music of doom is playing. Mom comes running over, then tells Melissa Sue to stay with Joss while she calls an ambulance. Melissa Sue keeps telling her that things will be alright. Which goes into voiceover and we are back at the day of the funeral.

The house is full of people and I realize that Melissa Sue is wearing the prairie dress because it makes her stand out from everyone dressed in black. She looks like she does on Little House after Mary goes blind – no expression and staring off into space. She goes outside.

Later, she’s sitting alone in the living room when Barbara comes to the door. Mom comes in and the three of them sit awkwardly. Barbara offers the old “it was God’s will” to which Melissa Sue counters angrily “tough beans on God”. Ooh, probably not a good idea, Melissa Sue. Then she starts ranting about how God should have taken someone who didn’t matter – which I think he kind of did – and what right does he have to decide who dies – which I think is kind of the point of being God in the first place. I’m not feeling much sympathy for Melissa Sue. Maybe because she really doesn’t seem that sad, and I’m with her on that. She runs out of the house and gets on her bike.

She’s at Flo’s house. And there’s Flo, pouring the coffee. After that little outburst, I think Melissa Sue should cut back on the caffeine. Flo, who’s dressed in normal clothes so obviously didn’t go to the funeral, starts in on what a special person Joss was. Not special enough to go the funeral though, huh, Flo? Flo tries to comfort Melissa Sue. She talks about how she never had kids, but had three miscarriages and how if she had had kids, she’d want them to be just like Joss. This is sickening. Flo talks about how everyone’s been crying and crying and a tear runs down Melissa Sue’s face. Flo tells her to go ahead and cry because it helps. She breaks down and Flo hugs her. She says “I wish it were me”. Flo says “She’d have said the same thing if it had been you”, which I highly doubt. Flo drones on about Melissa Sue feeling guilty to be alive while her sister’s not. Oh, I can’t help it. Flo’s getting to me and I’m getting a little choked up. She talks about how the days will pass and before you know it you’ll start feeling better, all the while rubbing Melissa Sue’s back and holding her close. I like Flo. I don’t really understand why Melissa Sue went there, because Flo was only in that one scene, but whatever. Melissa Sue pulls back and is remarkably dry eyed, but sniffling. She tells Flo she feels better and leaves.

She gets home and Mike Teevee is sitting on the curb. Melissa Sue painfully trots over to him because she is wearing wedges and they look like they hurt. Mike is mumbling incoherently, and Melissa Sue comforts him. Awww. He starts talking about the stone he gave Joss. Melissa Sue pulls it out of her pocket and gives it to him. They wonder if Joss can see them and if she’s alright. Melissa Sue thinks she is. Mike asks if Melissa Sue wants the stone. She says no, it wasn’t hers, it was his and Joss’. Mike starts blubbering and Melissa Sue repeats Flo’s words to him. “We lost Joss, but we’ll never lose our memories of her”. The sad piano music of everlasting friendship plays as the camera pulls back from behind Melissa Sue and Mike as they sit on the curb.

The credits roll and I see that Mike’s name was indeed “Tootie”. Almost made it worth sitting through this drivel.

After the Little House marathon on the Hallmark Channel this past weekend and watching this crapfest, I’ve kind of overdosed on Melissa Sue. I think it’s Rob Lowe’s turn.