"Monday Mornings" Discussion: Chapters 17-24 - Jamie Bamber News
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"Monday Mornings" Discussion: Chapters 17-24
It's Monday morning, which means I welcome you to week 3 of the "Monday Mornings" discussion. I must admit, at the halfway point, I'm now thinking, "Are we there yet?" Things seem to be dragging in the book.



I know I shouldn't be reviewing each chapter on it's own merits, but please someone tell me they also thought Chapter 17 was a mess? It's as if all the problems with the novel, thus far, could be found in four pages.

I've been having trouble warming to Tina. I've been patiently waiting to see what Ty sees in her (And even vice versa. Why are these characters having an affair other than they are convenient?) I was hopeful when we finally got a glimpse of her home life I'd learn more about her as a person and discover why she's cheating on her husband of fifteen years.

I have issues with infidelity, but I'm also willing to admit there are, if not entirely acceptable, understandable reasons for cheating. Does Mark have a drinking problem? Is he verbally abusive? Is he having his own affair? Is he simply an asshole? I want to understand why Tina turned to Ty and, as written so far, we haven't gotten a sense of some undeniable attraction.

But what I took away from the chapter is Mark is an OK guy, if perhaps suffering from some depression and maybe feeling warn down by life. In fact, I was feeling quite sympathetic towards him. He lost his job. His wife is never around and he doesn't know where she is. He's single-handily taking care of three kids (one disabled). And while he's making dinner, without any help, Tina sits and whines that he's not giving her his full attention? Grrrr.

Tina comes off as cold, selfish and simply bored with her marriage. And who has an argument such as they did in front of a six year old with cerebral palsy who is unable to leave the room? (And, of course, the child has cerebral palsy because every single character has to be carrying some sort of family baggage.) That bothered me more than anything else.

Making the situation worse, we get Tina's inner dialogue telling us she's been spending more and more time away from home. She's either at the hospital, at the clinic or with Ty. It's one thing to stay away from your husband, but to not want to see your children? I hope Mark gets custody in the divorce. Yeah, really not liking Tina AT ALL.

Another problem I had with the chapter is the shifting POV's. When I wrote my first fanfic, I got called on being all over the place with POV (but, hey, it was my first attempt at writing fiction) and I was dumbstruck that an editor didn't catch this problem. In addition to that issue, the breaks within chapters continue to seem random.

Villanueva's treatment (or lack thereof) of the neo-nazi murder, and the consequences he's going to face for not allowing the neurologist to exam him, is intriguing and poses interesting questions. (One that dawned on me, how six individuals perhaps lost their second chance at life while this guy, eventually, rots in prison.) However, the way it was all written felt heavy-handed and the chief of nursing's speech to the nurses on duty left me rolling my eyes. Not only was the speech itself overly earnest, I found it hard to believe it would move anyone to change their stance.

I continue to be interested to see if Park's tumor - and subsequent experience as a patient - will fundamentally change him. We already have seen a more sympathetic side to him. And how will this storyline be adapted for Chelsea General?

The one highlight of my reading was the last chapter and Monique taking Sanford home to meet the family. That was some much needed humor. In fact, Monique may be favorite character in the novel. She's the one character that comes to life for me on the page. (Ty does as well, but that's mostly because I focus on Ty as Jamie. Or is it Jamie as Ty? You know what I mean. ;) She's good at her job. Strong-willed. FUNNY. And she and Sanford, if they make an appearance on CG, could be super cute together. I just love her to bits.

Now that I've got my rant out of the way, what did everyone else think?


I came across a couple articles on Dr. Sanjay Gupta this weekend that contained information perhaps relevant to our discussions.

The Digital Journal reveals Villanueva is Gupta's favorite character and views him as "the purest character of them all".

And from the National Post, at a conference, Gupta joked(?) the pilot is called Chelsea General rather than "Monday Mornings" because "the TV types don’t want to confuse anyone if the show ends up airing, say, on Thursday evenings."

Discussion of Chapters 1 through 8

Discussion of Chapters 9 through 16

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Comments
onlyariana From: onlyariana Date: April 16th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I can't help but sympathize with Tina. Having a special needs child is so difficult. It isn't even the child who is so tough; it's all the other crap. The day care/school, the doctors and therapists, the people throwing looks when you try to go for a meal out or a trip to the mall. I think Mark and Tina represent the two most common reactions. One is to throw yourself into it but you end up sort of losing yourself and becoming depressed, the other is to try to escape. I tend toward the Mark route and my ex was more of a Tina but I can understand where she's coming from.

I see the Ty/Tina as nothing too deep. They're co-workers and friends and both attractive so why not? It isn't really a grand romance and I think that's the point of it. The doctors at that level don't really have time for a satisfying home life. None of them seem to really be able to put in even a decent showing with their families.

I do love Villanueva. He's the heart of the book and I'd imagine the show as well. His reaction with the neo-nazi was believable. Really, he is a great doctor but I get the feeling he goes with his gut a lot. He sort of did the same thing of jumping in without thinking when he confronted that guy while out with his son.

Monique is awesome. Sanford is a bit of a dumb ass. I don't feel like we have as strong a picture of him as we do of her. I really hope they make it to the screen.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: April 16th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I can certainly imagine having a special needs child is tough and could put a strain on even a strong relationship. And if the book was conveying that was a factor in Tina and Mark's troubled marriage it would likely make me more sympathetic towards Tina. But we aren't getting any clear explanation as to why things are bad other than she doesn't want to be there. I feel they either should be sitting down and talking about their problems and see if they can work through them (and not when your child is in the room and forced to listen to mom and dad fighting) or admit it's over and move on. Other than her job is very important to her, I just don't get Tina at all.

Sanford strikes me as smart and likely a very good surgeon, but perhaps very ill at ease in social situations. I work with lawyers rather than doctors, but his misunderstanding Monique at her parents house rang true to me. I guess our backgrounds are influencing how we see the characters. ;)
onlyariana From: onlyariana Date: April 16th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I guess our backgrounds are influencing how we see the characters

I think that's the thing, SG is relying on us knowing "that type" to fill in the blanks on most of the characters rather than fleshing them out himself. If he's basing them on people he's known through the years (I think he's said that or something similar) he's halfway thinking that we've got the same background knowledge of them he does so their actions/motivations make sense. It's not the best kind of writing and it's the sort of thing that would have (hopefully) kept the book from getting published if he wasn't famous.

asta77 From: asta77 Date: April 16th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
It's not the best kind of writing and it's the sort of thing that would have (hopefully) kept the book from getting published if he wasn't famous.

Sooo, I'm not the only to have that thought cross their mind? ;)

I agree. SG created characters based on people he knows, but doesn't seem aware that the knowledge in his head is not coming out on the page. I can't entirely fault him for the sketchiness of the characterizations. Other people read drafts before this was published and no one pointed out to him he needed more background and detail with the characters?
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Definitely appreciate hearing from someone who can sympathize with the special needs child part of her back-story; definitely don't doubt that it's something that presents challenges constantly. If anything, I sort of feel like there is SO much going on with Tina, and SG is pulling her in multiple directions - which is fine - but they are all tentative tugs rather than good, hard yanks, if that makes any sense. ;) The irony of the fact that she's a doctor and yet she has difficulty being present for =a child who has specific medical needs, in and of itself, is a premise that could be explored so much more - but it kind of feels like it gets short-changed here in light of everything else. Never mind the two other kids who clearly don't have the same physical challenges, but are in a bit of an emotional minefield at the moment.
onlyariana From: onlyariana Date: April 16th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I'm guessing that what SG is thinking (and again we're having to make guesses based on our knowledge rather than him actually telling the story) is that it's a case where there aren't actual medical things to be done to "fix" her. It's more about personal care like feeding, bathing, dressing, diapering, etc and she's a neurosurgeon. But on the other hand the free clinic work she's doing isn't brain surgery either. So I guess it doesn't all make a whole lot of sense.

I'm interested in how thing will change for the tv show. I've read the whole book and there is NO WAY they can do all the stories as written. It just won't work with the serial nature of tv. Maybe (hopefully) it'll start without the affair between Ty/Tina. The pilot has a ton to do already with introducing all the characters and doing the Quinn case and the Monday meeting for that and a flashback to why Ty became a doc and I'd guess some other patient(s) in there somewhere. Hopefully they'll leave any romance for later and then it might make more sense. ?
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Yeah, it doesn't sound as though there is hands-on treatment on a regular basis that Ashley needs; still, even if it's just day to day care or simply being *present*, regardless of her field of expertise, it's something you'd expect someone in Tina's line of work to be more cognizant of and participate in. Then again, you introduce an interesting angle that the book kind of doesn't specifically address (at least not yet) - has she always kept Ashley at a distance because she can't cope with something she can't "fix"? Is it actually too painful for her to come to terms with?

If I'm not mistaken from what I've heard re: the script (I haven't actually read it - if anyone can fix that egregious gap in my reading pile, you know how to get a hold of me. ;) ), the Ty/Tina affair is well underway in the pilot. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the Quinn case would be the A-plot of the pilot, perhaps with some introduction of all the characters but most of what we get in the opening chapters of the book would then fall into place (or go off in different directions) in the first half-dozen or so episodes. And as I noted in the first week's discussion, I would not be surprised if for the sake of exploring each character's own set of problems, the show exercises the option to have Ty/Tina (I'm going to start calling them "Tee-Tee", because I amuse myself easily...) call it quits, or at least put the affair on ice for a while.
onlyariana From: onlyariana Date: April 16th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I'm going to start calling them "Tee-Tee", because I amuse myself easily

I love you. I was thinking the exact same thing and almost typed it but was afraid people would think I was twelve.

Shucks. I was really hoping they weren't going for the T/T because I just don't see it as shippable beyond "Oh, look at the pretty." Though maybe they'll make it work. I'm sure DEK has a better idea of how to sell your lead romance than SG. I hope.

Y'all really need to get your hands on the script. At least to find out which book characters show up and which don't. Not that I don't wish it upon you asap but I think the perfect time to get it would be after we're done with the book discussion and after (figers crossed) we know for sure that the show is going forward. There'll be a long lull then that will need some filling on the CG front.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
WE CAN BE TWELVE TOGETHER! *clapping* ;)

Oh hon, believe me, what limited time I've had on my hands to try and track down the script (or to devote to keeping my eyes peeled for newsworthy Bamberisms, period) has been put to good use! No dice yet, though. Mostly what I've gleaned about the contents has been from bloggers writing about it (there was a *very* good review that went up shortly after the pilot was green-lit - it's probably linked in a previous post...); if any other fans have it, they're not sharing. Promise, if I do find it I will send up a flare really quick-like. ;)

I was really hoping they weren't going for the T/T because I just don't see it as shippable beyond "Oh, look at the pretty." Though maybe they'll make it work.

To be honest, I don't particularly mind if T/T isn't all that shippable, so long as I feel like I know where both characters are coming from. The show's approach to the relationship may be a long game wherein circumstances drive them apart and, over time, both get their own personal lives sorted (maybe Tina's marriage definitively ends, too), and there's an aim for them to *properly* have a relationship later. Or maybe they realize they're better friends and find other people. Anything's possible.

It's not entirely impossible to derive a couple worth rooting for from less than desireable origins, either. Are you ready?... wait for it... it's my weekly ER comparison! *uncorks the champagne* ;) - anyway, Doug and Carol were arguably being the most beloved couple in the show's history, and that started out with Carol attempting suicide in the pilot, largely suspected (though never confirmed) by everyone that it was because she was distraught over the way Doug dumped her, among other reasons. And he selfishly continued to screw around for some time, and it took him quite a while get back into her good graces, let alone have her feel like she could trust him enough to try again. Shoot, all the way up to the end, she nearly raised their babies alone because George left the show first... I mean, Doug wanted to move to Seattle and she wasn't ready to leave Chicago. ;) A well-written relationship, like a real one, can handle any number of wrenches you throw at it.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Correction: I just remembered Carol didn't tell Doug she was pregnant, since he was actually relocating because he basically helped an anguished mother euthanize her suffering terminal kid on the down-low. o_O Man, ER, you could really bring it sometimes.

Anyway... the gist of my point remains. ;)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: April 17th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) (Link Me)
has she always kept Ashley at a distance because she can't cope with something she can't "fix"? Is it actually too painful for her to come to terms with?

I'm suspecting that won't be addressed in the book, though I'd love to be proved wrong. I think SG is focused on the hospital environment and cases (which makes sense given he's...Sanjay Gupta), but the issue could be addressed in the series if Tina still has three children and one of them is Ashley.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Your cut comment made me laugh, mostly because the very next chapter opens on Ty. I nearly read ahead but I'm trying to keep on the discussion pace. ;)

Well, the last two weeks we've been left wondering when we'd get some gaps filled in on Tina and in this portion of the book it does feel like we got a lot at once, although interestingly, in many ways it only makes her feel like more of a question mark, doesn't it?

Here's the thing - a lot has been made of how SG based these characters in part on actual people that he knows or has worked with. I have no doubt in my mind that there are doctors out there who, like Tina, allow their professional lives to keep them from emotionally connecting with their families, who start illicit relationships to fill the need for some kind of emotional connection, or who even - as seems to be the case here - seek out additional professional commitments (even on a volunteer basis like a free clinic) to serve as an additional distraction/outlet when the frustrations of their primary job start getting them down too. It does make for a pretty fascinating character study of someone who puts themselves in a position where they're spinning so many plates at once and, ultimately, a few of those plates crash and they don't even notice.

It's another case, though, IMO of the type of thing that can make for interesting reading in a novel but present a tricky proposition for a series. I can put up with frustrating characters for longer than I would otherwise if I feel like I know their motivations. At the very least, the show is going to need to provide more for us to go on - the adultery angle only being the tip of the iceberg. You're right, we still don't really know how she feels about Ty from what we have so far, and I would suspect that the convenience aspect might be a factor. Clearly he's HAWT, clearly they get along as friends and respect each other as colleagues... but does she love him? (Does he love her, for that matter? Right now he's obviously less emotionally available because the Quinn situation is eating him up inside, and that's hinted at in the writing.) Or is he ultimately someone she ran to as an escape? Has he been overthrown now as her primary escape by her free clinic work? And there's Mark and her kids, and the fact that she's clearly rankled by Buck Tierney's cardiac wing proposal, and Michelle's still a dangling thread... it's a TON to absorb at once, and again it's mostly written in an anecdotal fashion so it does make her really difficult to sympathize with Tina. Her response to most conflict appears at least at first to be fight, but more often than not it's flight.

(Speaking of Buck Tierney, he's not quite what I expected but he might be an interesting thorn-in-the-side for Bill Irwin to sink his teeth into. ;) Less of a "man, that guy's an asshole" and more of a "why does everyone LOVE that guy?... what an asshole!")

Again, SO much of this stands to be mitigated by how Jen Finnigan plays the character, or in fact how much of this actually ends up being jettisoned or re-written for the show. Who knows what they're going to keep and what they're going to re-work or eliminate completely; we know Mark's in the mix because they cast Eyal Podell, but have we confirmed that they have kids in the pilot? I'm always fond of saying expect the unexpected when it comes to book-to-TV adaptations; my favorite example is still Dexter. Deb Morgan knows her brother is a killer at the end of the first book, but the show just ended its sixth season and she JUST found out. ;) And that's just one major change.

I'm going to have to comment upon myself because I exceeded the character limit... ;)
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 16th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
(continued)

If the show gets a pickup, I would bet money that the racist scumbag who is not-brain-dead is an episode waiting to happen. It's too good an opportunity for shock and awe! I really liked the premise, as well - has all the great elements, heartbreak, high emotion, tough calls, nasty surprises - though I also had problems with some of the more expository dialogue feeling like it was shoehorned in. (Putting big chunks of exposition into your characters' mouths is my biggest pet peeve, whether on the page OR on the screen. I can be forgiving only if you can make it work tonally; it doesn't really click here.)

The Monique/Sanford scene is priceless, and actually IMO some of SG's best writing so far - that's a scene that could really be played over the top for a cheap laugh (hopefully they won't overdo it if it makes it into the show), but here it's just really funny and rings really true. I do like her character a lot, she comes off as remarkably good-natured despite the mortifiying thing she was just put through, and it's not like she excoriates Sanford for it either. It's more of a "Man oh man, I love you so much, but you're an IDIOT." ;)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: April 17th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Your cut comment made me laugh, mostly because the very next chapter opens on Ty. I nearly read ahead but I'm trying to keep on the discussion pace.

After finishing the assigned reading ;), I had flipped the page to bookmark my place and "Ty" jumped out at me. But, like you, I was good and closed the book. :)

The "anecdotal fashion" in which the book is written, and which we are being (justifiably) critical of, while not a good style for subject matter, would seem to be a decent foundation for a TV series. A full season of stories could easily be pulled from what we are reading and the 42 minutes would provide time to flesh out the cases and the characters. (Though I'm still relying on SG to temper DEK's worse instincts.)
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: April 17th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC) (Link Me)
(Though I'm still relying on SG to temper DEK's worse instincts.)

As an executive producer (and one with TWO full time careers elsewhere), though, is SG going to be all that present in the writers room? I think I am sort of relying on what the source material is grounded in (i.e. based on actualfax people) to be the crux of SG's contribution to the "keep DEK from going off the rails" campaign. ;) Then again, maybe DEK will do a good job of reigning in DEK all on his own; I mean, he has done a hospital show before (Chicago Hope) and was rather a good one. Most of his pre-Ally McBeal stuff, come to think of it, I liked better though I never watched any of it religiously. (And I realize I've seen a lot less of L.A. Law than I thought I had, it was just one of those ubiqiutous 80's shows that everyone yakked about constantly when I was young. ;) )

EDIT: You're right, though, about there being potential in the anecdotal nature of the writing for the show to add stronger characterizations and more depth to the storylines.
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