Men in Trees
You know, I hate the fall TV season because I always have to relearn how to use my VCR. I just want you to know, I failed miserably at that task this year.
I got home late the evening this aired, so I missed the first 15 minutes of the first episode of Men in Trees, but I’m going to assume it opens with Anne Heche’s relationship coach character getting her heart ironically broken by a cheating fiance who also happens to be the dumbest dude in the history of ever for leaving evidence of his dalliance in a file that might as well be marked “Hey, Anne? I’m a douche and I’m cheating on you” on his computer, which she accidentally takes with her while she’s on a book tour in
Cicely, Alaska Elmo, Alaska.
The hilarious part of this show is, I guess, that there aren’t as many ladies as there are men and Marin Frist is currently down on men (See above), but this town is, like, 85% male.
So let’s skip the parts where we figure out that we’re in Alaska, that people are quirky, but very nice, and that Anne, I mean, Marin, I mean…. maybe I should I call her Celestia? (It’s like she’s an alien up here in Alaska, yo!) realizes she hates nature and Alaska and ends up in the bar, which is filled with men in flannel.
She orders vodka. Well, she orders a complicated drink and Jerry from E.R., who is our bartender this evening, raises an eyebrow as she lists the ingredients for her fancy drink. There are no berries or triple sec or… anything, so, she just goes for the vodka.
She should go for Jerry. He’s a nice, burly gentleman who could give her many fine, burly babies. Whoops. Look like Jerry’s taken! At least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from the dark-haired bar wench who is giving Celestia the stink eye.
Aaaaaand we’re drinking.
Some dude named Jack in a cable-knit sweater is standing next to her and she thinks he’s trying to hit on her. He tells her he’s not hitting her and she snidely drawls: “Suuuuuuure.” Wow. I can’t understand why her fiancé left her. Jack’s kind of scruffy and hot. Bartender! A double shot of THAT please!
He insists he’s not hitting on her and goes to get a napkin, which is what he came to do in the first place. His tone of voice could not BE less interested. Are you SURE you’re a relationship coach, honey?
A flopsy-haired guy who was maybe instrumental in bringing Anne here and reminds me strongly of the theoretical offspring of Owen Wilson and Steve Zahn, helps drunk Anne into the… lodge for her appointment. She’s just as confused as I am.
She basically tells a gathered group of men (who, I’m sorry, I don’t see coming to listen to some New York bitch on wheels tell them how to get these non-existant ladies) not to let other people define their happiness or order their soy lattes.
They look at her blankly. Because they don’t drink soy lattes. They drink non-fat caramel machiattos. Like the rest of us. But that’s obvious, even to drunken Celestia, who quickly devolves into babbling about her own problems and why some dude won’t marry her. I can’t see why she’s got another book deal. I don’t have any book deals. How is that fair? I never go on and on about my problems in the middle of doing another job that is far more… oh. Nevermind.
So, apparently, the rest of the “You men could easily get a gal if you’d just take charge!” speech didn’t go well, because Anne sleeps in, misses her plane, gets stressed and goes downstairs to ask flopsy-haired hotel clerk to get her to a spinning class! Pronto!
How can people be this stupid? Like, am I to honestly believe somebody from New York would think an itsy bitsy town in Alaska would have a spinning class?
If she were being ironic or whatever, okay, but it’s quite obvious that she really expects Spawn of Zahn to find her a large gymnasium-type building where there are things like spinning classes available to her. “Step right this way! Sorry, but our regular spinning teacher isn’t available today. She had a multi-media publishing emergency and traffic was terrible and she couldn’t get a cab to the RUSTIC WOOD CABINS IN WHICH WE ALL LIVE.”
But he doesn’t say that. Because he is nice. Being a nice person, he finds her an ooooold bike, even though she missed his radio show. And he had to interview his mom. Again. Oh, Steve Zahnilson! I would tune in! I’d be a long-time listener, first time caller!
Anne makes the best of her bike situation and after some nice shots of wooded areas and mountains set to the tune of KT Tunstall’s Black Horse & The Cherry Tree (Are we done with this song yet? Just checking.) she apparently had enough of the beautiful scenery and went home.
Well, to the hotel. And showered. And found a raccoon in her closet eating some type of diet/energy/granola bar thing. The fat little critter gives her a look like “I’m in ur luggage, eatin’ ur foodz.” You go on wit your bad self, Rocky!
Jack, Mr. I-Don’t-Think-You’re-All-That from the bar shows up. Wouldn’t you know it? He’s there to take care of Rocky. Cuz it’s what he does. He’s a conservation type… guy. So he tells her not to leave food lying around as he hauls the animal out. “No triple sec! No spinning class! Tons of hot, available guys willing to take care of your rodent problems! Right. I am out of here,” thinks Celestia.
So she tries to convince a grumpy, grizzled dude named Buzz to fly her back to civilization or as close to it as one can get in the frozen, barren tundra. GOD I dislike her. Go back to New York and the rest of the world will tick along quite nicely without you, bitch.
Of course, Air Buzz doesn’t offer direct flights to New York, so she’ll take the flight to Anchorage he’s offering and then fly to Hawaii. She goes to sleep soundly that night. Because she knows she will be leaving in the morning and laying on a beach, sipping something with rum in it while she takes her pick of the tanned, sexy pool boys (Or girls. Celestia is equal opportunity like that) to dally with. I hate her even more. Of course, she’ll do nothing of the sort, or we wouldn’t have a show about a relationship councilor in Alaska, now, would we?
Her friend and agent comes to see her and wants her to go to Chicago so she can be on Oprah. Both Celestia and Buzz have problems with this. Celestia, because she doesn’t want to be on Oprah and Buzz because he feels though Oprah is well-meaning in her socio-political feministic ideals, she sets an unrealistic example for regular, non-rich women while telling themselves to be free to be themselves.
Ha. No, he doesn’t. As much as I would like him to say that, he doesn’t. He tells her the flight is cancelled because of weather. Air Buzz is grounded in the bar.
Speaking of the bar, her friend and manager wants to know if it’s a gay bar on account of all the burly, strappingly handsome, grizzled men in cable-knit sweaters, flannel and jeans. Nope. It’s just my own personal wet dream. Seriously. Guys like that are hot. They probably chop wood and make fires and hunt and shit. Hott. Celestia is less enchanted. Look Celestia, it’s okay if you still like women. Unfortunately, Ellen has moved on with that nice Portia De Rossi, but I’m sure there are plenty of nice lesbians left.
“There’s men everywhere in this town,” she bitches. “They’re even in the trees.” Ahh well, they can’t all be “I’m Buffy! The Vampire Slayer! And you are?”
Celestia is TOTALLY OVER MEN. She wants to talk about Oprah now. She doesn’t want to go on Oprah because she “can’t tell people how to find a man when I can’t keep one myself!” Ohhhhkay. First of all, let’s just ignore the tens of single, relatively good-lookin, lonely, probably very nice men sitting alllll around you. Second, lady, Dr. Phil is fat. That didn’t stop him from writing a diet book after gaining fame on Oprah. I say do it! You’ll have your own show in a year and you’ll be so ubiquitous you’ll show up playing yourself in the 10th Scary Movie sequel in the next two.
Somehow, Jerry (Dear Jerry, I think you’re great. I really do. I loved you on E.R. I hope you’re not dead over there because I missed the first episode and that would seriously suck. You were great as Olaf the Troll on Buffy and I even watched that one episode of the X-Files where you were a walking garbage heap and Scully and Mulder had to pretend they were married. Good times. Please find a better show because you are better than this right here. All my love, Zooby.) overhears this conversation about men and how, “Wahhh!” They can’t seem to find any and he decides to offer his opinion.
Which is women think they want Dirty Harry. But really, it’s Clint Eastwood who does it for us. Sooo… basically, this is about how women want it all from men and men can’t give it to them. Men can’t win. Boo-hoo. Sorry Jerry, but I’m not picking up what you’re putting down. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be part of this town’s bumbling male population that needs help? You can’t be a philospher of relationships AND a clueless idiot who needs the help of a relationship coach, Can you?
Also, I’m a single woman and I have to tell you, that is really, really not true. I don’t want Dirty Harry. Nor do I want Clint Eastwood. Because both of them are old. Nor do I want it all. I just want somebody. Really, the only requirement is a large and hearty sense of humour and the ability to laugh at oneself. Somehow, I don’t think Dirty Harry or Clint Eastwood does much in the way of chuckling.
Sure, the tall, handsome, intelligent thing helps, but I’m not asking for somebody to carry guns and chomp cigars and squint into the sun. All those things are really unattractive. Okay. The guns are kind of cool.
Next, Celestia and her agent are in the book store with a table and a pile of books, but there’s nobody buyin’ it. Then, Jack comes in on he weekly book buyin’ trip. Cause he’s PERFECT, see? He READS! And is ruggedly handsome! And stoic! And funny! And, oh my GOD, he couldn’t be a more obvious choice if he traveled around with a cable-knit sandwich board reading: “Hello, Ladies. I will be your unreachable hunk. Do your worst.”
After much witty repartee, he goes to buy her book and Celestia is all “Oh, don’t buy my book because you pity me.”
Look, Anne Heche, I am going to level with you, here. You are the LAST person anybody wants relationship advice from, even in a fictional world built around you. I think you should take the pity buy.
Then, some Annie chick comes in to give Celestia courage or something.
They know each other from a chat room or… a book signing or something. Annie is a fan. A creepy, obsessed fan who took a bus to Alaska to tell Celestia to buck up. Watch out, Celestia! You could end up tied to a bed rewriting your self-help book just for Annie! And her raccoon!
Speaking of Rocky… he’s back. And he has her wedding dress. Which she packed to reminisce about how she never got married. They fight over the dress while Gone Daddy Gone by the Violent Femmes plays in the background. Good music choice. Much better than the Tunstall track earlier.
She wrenches the now-torn dress away from Rocky somehow and he scampers off to the Evergreen Forest to tell his raccoon buddy Ralph that he read this chick’s self help book and all he has to do to get that hottie Melissa into his tree is order his own soy latte and start wearing a Dirty Harry poncho. Celestia stands in front of her mirror, wearing her shredded wedding dress of “It didn’t happen and now I’m sad.”
She has a heart to heart with the woman across the hall in the hotel. I’m still not clear if the woman works in the hotel or “works” in the hotel. Then another heart to heart with the bar wench. Who tells Celestia that women have the power in Alaska. Since there are so few of them, the men are the ones clamouring for dates and attention. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Celestia looks shocked.
Oh come on! HOW does she not get that the women in Alaska have the power? If a dude in Alaska pisses you off, you just step back, take two steps to the left and there’s somebody else willing to be your main squeeze! They also have a conversation about cigarettes not being readily available and bar wench asks her if she wants some snuff and Celestia recoils. Yeach. I’m with you. You should just quit.
But she really wants a cigarette and goes looking for some. In the freezing cold. A native dude in a truck picks her up and on the drive to a cigarette machine, which is a long ways away, he does what all Natives do in TV shows: Gives her some sage, Native-y advice. I don’t remember what it was about, largely because I was in the kitchen contemplating my snack choices.
Whatever his advice was makes her nod appreciatively, but maybe his advice should have been: “Don’t stand in the middle of a lake that’s covered with thin ice.” Because that’s exactly what she does when she’s going to light her cigarette.
Jack is out here doing some nature-guy thing and sees her and yells for her not to move, but she REEEEALLLLY wants a cigarette, so she goes to light up anyway and there’s a cracking noise. Which anyone who grew up near a body of water in the winter can tell you is not a good noise to hear when you are standing on said body of water. Suddenly, she falls through the ice. Yes! Frozen North 1, Celestia 0.
Well, nice as this trip to Not!Cicely has been, I bet Celestia has to get back to her spaceship/husband/lesbian lover/twin sister Vicky. I hope she climbs out of the ice and freezes into shape like in the Merry Melodies cartoons.
But she doesn’t, because Jack has to help her out and into his tiny little cabin where there’s no heater for some reason. Oh my! But how will they ever stay war- oh. Ohhhhh. Ew.
Completely unsubtle BarryWhite-ish soul music bow-chicka-bow-bow’s as she lays on top of him, presumably naked, but covered by a blanket and opines about how he’s totally going to have to stop himself from becoming incredibly turned on. Because she’s so hot? Didn’t she just fall through ice? Shouldn’t she look, I dunno, more bedraggled? Whatever. Jack isn’t impressed and that makes me love him a little bit (I’m prepared for my black heart to break when he inevitably breaks free of these not-loving-Celestia chains and embraces her quirkiness.) He gets mad at her and tells her to “stop thinking in stereotypes.” Then don’t write in clichés, writers! Jeez!
Next morning, they wake up alive. So… yay? They watch wolves and it’s a metaphor for something because she thinks it’s beautiful, the mating and such. Until he tells her “Nah. She’s just rubbing her crap in his fur. But maybe they’ll get down later.” Or words to that effect. Right. I have no idea how that could possibly apply to their current situation, do you?
Does she have to be exactly on top of him? I can’t imagine that’s comfortable at all. Hallelujah! Sleeping directly on top of a dude not only keeps you warm and saves your life, but it gives your sex-tousled hair and soft makeup. I have to try that. Somehow, in rescuing her, he has injured his wrist and cannot drive his truck back to the town. Maybe it was the weight of her body crushing him during the night? He asks her to drive, but she can’t. Literally. No licence. Teaching people to drive to happiness without a licence. Oh the cheese keeps coming.
I missed the segue here, but apparently, there’s a scene with flopsy-haired boy and crazed superfan99. I would like for this neurotic, creepy fangirl not to fall in love with Steve Zahnilson since I like him and don’t want to see her devour him after they mate, but it seems that’s the way they’re going.
There’s also more stuff with the agent and she’s trying to get cell-phone reception and gets hit on just standing on a corner, being her bitchy self. Damn. I have GOT to move there! Go North, young woman! Oops! Looks like we’re wrapping things up. I know, because the “Now it’s time for us to go” song is playing.
And Sarah Jessica Heche says in the LONGEST VOICEOVER EVER: “The truest thing I know about relationships is I don’t know anything at all, except that love is good.” It goes on from there and I’m not quite sure what the fuck this is supposed to mean, but I now see how you have a book and are giving people advice about love. I mean, solid observations all around there. There’s more about how she likes men, but she hates men, and men hate women too because we ask so much of them and they don’t understand us! (Well, Celestia IS actually from Venus, so I can see how there might be something lost in that translation.)
Celestia rides her bike up to the cliff with her wedding dress in her basket. I wonder if this will lead to some sort of grand, symbolic gesture?
As she rides and talks and rides and talks and talks and talks, we get a little montage of all the characters we’ve met and the various ways in which they are screwing up their lives or solving their problems.
Jack has a tattoo of the name Lynn on his arm. Awww! He’s damaged! She’ll fix him, he’ll resist, she’ll be charming (or as charming as she can possibly be) he’ll relent, there will be a misunderstanding of some sort leading them to not get together (apparently, this is all going to happen next week when she fucks his brother) until they straighten it out and get it together and then, break up. But don’t worry, in the last episode (possibly also coming up soon) they’ll get together and fans (ha!) can be satisfied.
There’s some more stuff, shots of people looking wistful, as if they were listening and relating to this poignant ramble about relationships and how she needs to figure out where she belongs and who she is or some shit.
Of COURSE she flings the dress off the side of the mountain joyfully. Of course she does. What did you think? She was taking it to the seamstress who lives on the top of the mountain? The least convenient Stitch-It in the world? No. In case you missed the giant, flashing “metaphor!” sign, the dress sort of flies in slow motion.
And in the end, Celestia gets in a truck that is… not hers? How did she get a truck? Is this, like, a wishing well thing? If all I have to do to get a vehicle is throw an iconic piece of clothing off the side of a mountain, well, I’ve got some ugly bridesmaid dresses I’m not using. One is salmon and the sleeves are puffy. There’s rouching. I really feel this should get me a nice car. If I also throw in the dyed pumps that match the dress, do I get Satellite radio?
Anyway, she’s driving. Sort of. Ho-ho-ho! It’s funny because it pertains to her self-help book and she’s helping herself! Geddit!? Do ya!? Well, if you don’t, you better hurry up. I can hear them revving up the chainsaws to fell the trees all the men are in.
You know what? At least nobody died on this show. It wasn’t hideous or anything. It was just kind of fluffy and there and it takes me away from thinking about Horatio Caine for an hour. So that was nice! I don’t know if it’s going to last, but I’ll give it a try.
– Recapped by Zooby