Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gobble Gobble 2012: Felicity's "Thanksgiving"

College and Thanksgiving was a deadly combination at my college. The dorms closed the night before Turkey Day. Cars lined the parking lots. Neighbors bid farewell to one another like they'd never see each other again. The classes are half-full. I wondered what the true interest levels of my professors were the day before the long weekend. The campus empties out quickly. The morning usually resembled a typical morning scene. Loads of college kids walking to and from class, some resembling zombies, and others not. Around noon, though, the crowd thinned. Lunch in one of the miserable dining halls was easy to get. No lines. Hot food waiting. Lunch is eaten, and then it's time to head to the afternoon class, which is emptier. The thin crowds were nice. The university essentially shut down more and more as the students' motivation to learn shut down throughout the day.

I left in the evening the night before Thanksgiving both years I lived on campus with friends. The dorms were abnormally quiet in the afternoon. A person might be reading in the lounge area. An odd door might be open with a person quietly inside. The deadline to leave the dorms was in the early evening, except for the rare cases of people who applied to stay throughout the holiday. God forbid any man or woman who stayed on West Chester's campus through the holiday. The food places were barely functional on a Wednesday evening. The diner on campus didn't open doors. In 2007 I grabbed dinner with two friends before hitting the road for a fantastic home-cooked meal the next night. The pickings were slim. I think I ate cereal and a stale bagel instead of trying my luck with any of the deadly food being served from the kitchen. My friend Colin decided to try the fish special of the night. Asking for a sandwich with lunchmeat on it was risky. Fish specials weren't trusted. The pickings were slim, though. What's a man to do? We used a good meal in our meal plan to dine in horrible Lawrence dining hall. His fish special included the scales. Needless to say, he did not consume his fish special. The next year, we went to Burger King to ensure substantial food intake.
Sykes Student Union, which is other major place for lunch and dinner, closed down shop before their actual closing time. Walking around Ram's Head was like walking around a grocery store after an apocalyptic event. Cold pizza was the best option. The University must've been intentionally showing the students the price of remaining on campus during a holiday weekend. "You will starve" was the message. The idea of a Lawrence Thanksgiving Dinner sends shivers down my spine. Julie in Felicity finds a "turkey" with hair on it for her and Felicity's special Thanksgiving dinner. The Lawrence dining hall turkey would be a pile of shoes glued to together with gasoline poured on as gravy. The University of Pennsylvania serves Turkey in its cafeteria at 34th and Spruce on Thanksgiving because of the family members spending the day with their sick loved ones. My mom compared it to lunchmeat turkey two years ago when we spent Thanksgiving with my ill father in UPENN, but at least they tried to provide a semblance of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Lawrence would serve a pile of shoes. Sykes wouldn't open its doors. One would have to chew through steel to get food; even then, though, the food isn't worth breaking in.

Felicity's dorm Thanksgiving dinner is an amazing achievement. I watched the "Thanksgiving" episode from season for Gobble Gobble 2012 with eyes wide in amazement. College in The Big Apple is a far different experience from college in the small town of West Chester, PA. Felicity works for Javier who just happened to order a humongous turkey for Thanksgiving. Javier happens to have no other Thanksgiving plans and prepares, cooks, delivers and joins Felicity's newfound friends for a brilliant dinner cooked with a microwave. I wondered if I had tricked the RAs and RD and so on, would I have experienced a lavish feast complete with heartwarming company and a kiss with the girl I liked in the bathroom. Absolutely not. I'd have been trapped in my 1960s constructed dorm building, with barely a window to open to let fresh air in as the heating system threatened to send me into heat exhaustion because it'd be 20 degrees at night, and I'd be sleeping in boxers next to a fan just seeking relief from the oppressive heat. Anyone I would want to eat with would be home, and any girl I'd want to kiss wouldn't be around.

Felicity chooses to stay on campus for Julie, who needs support as she's afraid to go home and tell her parents about what happened to her. Noel stays around for a made-up resident assistant reason. Ben stays around because he couldn't find his ticket. When he did find it, his mother told him to stay put. Other friends/roommates stay around for the same, sad reasons: they have no other place to go. J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves created a nice fictional college where people who don't have anywhere else to go on holiday can stay on campus with those who want them around, whereas real colleges don't care if you have anywhere to go.

"Thanksgiving" is a nice bookend to the first act of the season. I tend to think of a season of television in the structure of tree acts. Felicity uprooted her life to attend the same college as her high school crush Ben, alienating her parents in the process, who did not understand why their daughter did such a thing. Felicity moves to New York City, 3000 miles from home, connects with Ben but doesn't get what she wants. She also meets Julie and Noel, the latter of whom she kisses and really likes. Felicity gets her heart-broken and cries. She struggles, but she's growing. Communications with an old teacher helps her when she feels alone. By episode nine, Felicity's carved out a nice life, with friends and lover alike. Felicity's correspondent puts a button on Felicity's progress in the closing narration, remarking how one puts a suitcase down in a new city full of strangers when suddenly one's surrounded by friends who became family so fast it's breath-taking.

Felicity's first Thanksgiving on campus with her other family is really nice. Felicity was part of The WB's golden years. I've never seen the entire series, just a handful of episodes, and I read some of the scripts. My memories of the series includes Felicity and Julie at odds over Ben, Felicity's hair, and whatever I heard from season one. I expected Julie to hate Felicity by episode 9. They're friends, best friends. Ben's able to swing by with Greg Grunberg and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without any nonsense. Hannah and Noel have their talk before the feast, allowing for a tension-free evening. As someone who's watched too much Dawson's Creek, the handling of drama in Felicity was pleasant. Noel and Felicity are hindered by Hannah's presence. Felicity worries that Noel will never answer his door excited to see her again, which is cute and sweet, and absolutely genuine. Noel acts like an ass because he's clueless. Instead of acting passive-aggressively towards him, Felicity addresses him and expresses her feelings about what's going on. Unable to find any words to soften her, Noel just kisses her. Felicity's mood changes instantly. Keri Russell was amazing post-bathroom scene.

Felicity's life settles down at the table. Holiday episodes usually conclude on a harmonious gathering of the principal cast. Dawson's Creek didn't salvage their trainwreck Thanksgiving episode by putting the friends together around a fire as they told tales and sipped hot cocoa, but I felt better because of the scene. The closing Thanksgiving montage is a terrific ending to Felicity's Thanksgiving. She's in harmony with herself and those around her. The dorm room is her home. Her and Noel may get together, free of entanglements to another. It's really quite lovely. The microwaved dinner looks amazing, except for those sweet potatoes prepared by Julie, but her heart's in the right place; all of the characters hearts were in the right place, from Felicity welcoming Hannah to dinner to Ben taking Greg Grunberg along to the dinner because Grunberg doesn't have anywhere else to go. Yes, these characters would've been screwed in real life, but Abrams and Reeves took care of their characters in ways actual universities would not take care of their students.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.