Those Little Things
Reasons to watch Men in Trees, Part One: It’s not Sex and the City.
Although Men in Trees creator Jenny Bicks was an executive co-producer of Sex and the City and Marin Frist (Anne Heche) is a relationships writer who talks through the fourth wall, MIT is significantly different from SATC. (Unless you rate your favourite shows by boob count.) And MIT isn’t Sex and the City meets Northern Exposure either. This even if Marin is a New Yorker transported well out of her comfort zone and deep into the myriad beauties of an Alaska (here played by British Columbia), where every person she meets is a charming oddball outsider. Even Jewel.
While Northern Exposure was largely defined by John Corbett’s poetic “Chris in the Morning,” MIT offers, by way of humourous homage, Patrick Bachelor (Derek Richardson): all wholesome nervous energy and puppy dog enthusiasms. Elmo, you see, is simply not Cicely. It’s less surreal, more homely, and when you tickle its tummy three times, it begins to shake and laugh uncontrollably. While Sex and the City had no actually likable protagonists, MIT is full of them. Marin is a woman you’d love to share a beer and a burger with, especially if there was an Alaskan Arctic Cyclone raging outside. Ben Jackson (Abraham Benrubi) is precisely the sort of helpful, socially responsible, big bear of a bar owner every small town is crying out for. And local whore (retired) Sara Johnson (Suleka Mathew) is… well, let’s leave it there, shall we?
Men in Trees is nostalgic for the sense of community we’ve lost today. There are no bad guys here. Everyone’s nice. MIT might be nothing more than congenial comfortable escapism, but you know what? That’s just what I want on a Friday evening.
Reasons to watch Men in Trees, Part Two: It’s not the Women’s Murder Club.
All cheekbones and tight jeans, slapshot editing, San Fran skyline, too-cute dialogue, and inconsistent plotting, Women’s Murder Club opened to the sounds of Rilo Kiley’s “Moneymaker” and a body landing from a great height on the roof of Angie Harmon’s car. And it was “written” by James Patterson. Could primetime TV get any more cookie-cutter? In Men in Trees, Heche tries to pull up a tree her ex gave her while Lucinda Williams sings “It’s over, but I can’t let go.” No more real and no less contrived, MIT still makes for a pleasant change of pace. That said, I’ve heard that the comic cops are going to be targeted by an axe-wielding serial killer during sweeps week.
Reasons to watch Men in Trees, Part Three: All those little things that make me smile.
Like Marin’s oddly hot and deeply funny agent Jane (Seana Kofoed) and her glorious long-distance relationship with Plow Guy (Ty Olsson). Or Mai Washington (Lauren Tom), her mail order bride marriage, and her marvelously cynical local entrepreneurship.
Reasons not to watch Men in Trees:
Marin’s once and presumably future love interest, Jack (John Tupper), who has a collection of ill-considered roll-neck Arran sweaters. An unfeasible season opener that tried so hard to explain life, the universe, and everything to new viewers that it tore annoying little holes in the show’s own space-time continuum. And the unaccountable absence of “Me Plow Guy. You Jane.” If last week’s Season Two premiere was the first time you saw Men in Trees, stick with it. It’ll get better. It’s moose soup for your soul. And please, Ms. Bicks, bring back Jane and Plow Guy.