FIRST DATES

Having just started working at the local TV station, I was still infatuated with the news personalities I would occasionally run into in the hallways and holiday parties. One gentleman in particular was an on-air talent who apparently noticed me as well. Working in the sales department, I had the perk of handling a few fun accounts, like the newly built Kellogg Arena. At that time, the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids didn’t exist yet, and most music acts appeared at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo and the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, and many advertising buys that came into the station came with the perk of a ticket trade. Knowing this, this news personality understood that the current advertising schedule promoting an upcoming concert with singer Tom Jones probably came with free tickets, allowing for a cheap date.

But it still surprised me when this popular weather forecaster made his way up to the sales office to ask me if I would like to attend the Tom Jones concert with him. “We can go out to dinner before the show, and my brother will also be accompanying us with his date.” Admittingly starstruck, I accepted his invitation and looked forward to the double date, even though attending a Tom Jones concert was something I envisioned my mother doing. But, hey, it’s Tom Jones. If nothing else, I figured he would be entertaining.

The night of the concert, I walked from my apartment to my date’s car. Peering into the backseat I notice the lone man. “His date couldn’t make it. I figured you wouldn’t mind if he still came along,” my date explained. I did mind. Feeling like we now had a chaperone, I went along on this escapade, which included dinner with the two brothers who enjoyed each other’s company immensely, leaving me with the distinct feeling that I was the third wheel on this peculiar adventure. As the three of us continued to the Kellogg Arena, my date and his brother continued enjoying the evening, soaking in the adulation from those sitting around us as they realized they were in the presence of a local TV star. Autographs were signed, animated conversation ensued, and I sat back to a night of Tom Jones with an arena full of women my mother’s age (Keep in mind that I was 20-something at the time).        

The evening finally ended with the two of them driving me home, leaving me with the question of whether I was supposed to kiss both of them goodnight. As the car rolled into the driveway, I thanked both for a nice evening and bolted from that car before it came to a complete stop. If only I could have forecasted how my date with the weatherman would have gone, I would have turned the channel. Tom Jones? Not going to lie, he was the best part of the evening.  

HOMELAND – Best ending EVER

“Seriously, you have to watch this show,” my friend assured me. “You’re going to love it.” And immediately, two years later, my husband and I sat down to watch the first episode. It didn’t take long before we were hooked and devoured all eight seasons.

If you enjoyed “The Americans,” you owe it to yourself to check out “Homeland,” a fast paced, heart-pounding story-twisting spy thriller starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and a constant churning cast of good guys and bad guys who flip sides without notice.

But make no mistake, this is Danes’ show, and as we get to know her character, Carrie Mathison, a top-notch CIA agent battling bipolar disorder, we’re taken on a rollercoaster ride as she takes us across the world and in and out of death-defying adventures.

Oh, and may I say, best ending EVER! Especially for a show that causes you to say, “This can’t end well.” And for those of you who have watched “The Americans,” actor, Costa Ronin (AKA Oleg) once again proves to be a worthy charismatic opponent. Catch all eight seasons of “Homeland” on Hulu. Yeah, I know… another streaming service. Make Hulu a 3-month buy and enjoy your winter binge. Fair warning – you will experience an eclectic whirlwind of feelings after the binge.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and author of the novel, Chasing North Star – available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.netand facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

Saying Goodbye to the Pearson Family

“This is Us” comes to an end, and why I’ll miss Rebecca most

They have been weekly guests in my home for the last seven years—before COVID was a word, and before Apple TV, Paramount, and YouTube TV were viewing options. Sometimes the visits were heartwarming and fun, but more often, our family gatherings around the kitchen table over Thanksgiving dinners were filled with stress and drama. Together, we’ve weathered untimely deaths, addictions, divorces, and illnesses. Simply put, we’ve been there for each other. Or rather, I’ve been there for them. Truth is, they have never acknowledged my loyalty because the Pearson family is too busy worrying about the Pearson family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which is why I’m still here for them, tissue box beside me, preparing to say goodbye to the gang on the NBC hit drama, This is Us after seven rollercoaster years. Are they the most narcissistic woe-is-me group of whiners inhabiting the airwaves today? Perhaps, but, like family, we love them anyway.

I’m loyal to my TV friends. It’s the only explanation I have for suffering through the excruciating final season of How I met Your Mother. It’s why I continued hanging with the ladies on Mom after Anna Faris left the show. And it’s why I stuck with Mad Men long after Don Draper and the gang left the cool martini era of the 60’s. And it’s why I’ll be right alongside those Pearson kids as they stand together around Rebecca’s bed to say their goodbyes to their mother.

Speaking of Rebecca…

After seven years of analyzing each Pearson family member under the microscope, I have concluded that I’m going to miss Rebecca most. Caught between dreams of being a singer, duties to her family, and looking for love again after losing the love of her life, this flawed character is believable and real as she tries to make the best of difficult situations while also constantly reminding her children that they are her everything. The fact that 50+ women everywhere can relate to actress Mandy Moore (AKA Rebecca), currently in her late 30’s, is testament to her acting skills as she regularly portrays Rebecca in her later years. Her acting is believable—whether she is portraying Young Rebecca navigating through courtship, or Mature Rebecca finding her way again post-Jack.  

If you want proof of just how relatable Rebecca is to the everyday woman, let’s look at a recent episode where Young Mother Rebecca goes out to dinner with Jack to celebrate their anniversary. She proceeds to get quite drunk, and when the two of them are forced to rush home to save the babysitter, they later sit down with the kids to discuss what happened. After Rebecca and Jack learn from the boys that the babysitter was “mean” to their sister, Rebecca asks, “What do you mean, mean?” She then pauses, pondering what she just said, and repeats, more to herself, “Mean, mean,” causing her to laugh at her own joke—a joke no one else finds humorous. This small moment is priceless, making me love her even more.  

I measure the likability of TV and literary characters I come across on my viewing and reading adventures based on the type of conversation the two of us might have over a drink. I not only can envision Rebecca and me laughing over drinks, but I can also see myself telling the bartender, “We’ll have another.” While I will miss the entire Pearson family, I will miss Rebecca most. Maybe down the road, we’ll catch up on Netflix.

CAN WE GO “HOME” AGAIN?

THE WALTONS: HOMECOMING – a 60 Second Movie Review

WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS PISS ANT SPOILER

When the CW announced recently that the beloved TV series, The Waltons would be receiving a reboot on their network, old people throughout the world rejoiced, and every young person went, “Huh?”

Never mind that. So, after trumpeting the news of this Christmas miracle, I feel obligated to providing my thoughts on the movie special that aired on December 28 on the CW Network – a holiday special featuring a family forced to deal with everyday life in the era following the 1929 stock-market crash and the hard times that followed.

SECOND WARNING…

Never watch a movie reboot with two sisters who remember every detail of the original adaptation and can’t get past the fact that every adaptation comes with new edits and dialogue. I understand their passion for tradition, but we are not the CW Network’s desired demographic. While I am sad that Mary Ellen no longer calls Elizabeth a piss ant (seriously, this is the best line in the original, and the mother’s reaction is priceless), I can only hope that this reboot brings a new crop of quotes to today’s younger generation. As a viewer who visited with the original Walton kids weekly, I have to say I was charmed by the new cast, with familiar faces filling the iconic roles (Hang on while I Google John Boy in Waltons Reboot. Oh yeah, 17-year-old Kevin from This is Us).

My only criticism is the needless Hallmark touch added to a show that attempts to depict life in an era that was darker and dirtier than what is shown in this sterilized version. But I am thankful and appreciate to be revisiting with this family on Walton’s Mountain. I cannot fathom this wholesome TV series surviving on a network full of shows overflowing with angst and superheroes, but something tells me that’s what they said the first time around.     

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor