When you compare the work of Richard Thomas (John-Boy) and Jon Walmsley (Jason) you suddenly realize the loss to the series when Richard left. Both characters must examine choices and the choices are career goals vs. your own honesty to yourself. Jason must confront an overworked life and John-Boy must confront telling someone he did not want to be a librarian but a writer. Jason has a lot of ground to really explore and add debt and compassion to his character. Unfortunately, John Walmsely, while being a terrific musician, doesn't have the acting chops to carry this off. We see aggression and frustration but not much else. This is where the ability to add sensitivity and confusion and all those emotions that involve such a situation are desperately needed but not granted. Compare the storyline with John-Boy and see what good acting can do to ordinary material.
I'll come clean. I love Jason-based episodes and I absolutely love Bobby Bigelow storylines. Just letting you know in case you wonder where all the enthusiasm is coming from.
Anyhow, this is the best hour yet this season. It's fun, it's dramatic and something about it feels so very real. I think much of the realism is down to the way Jon and Mayf (still loving that name) interact. The two men have great chemistry together and they connect as friends rather than co-stars. When Bobby asks Jason to answer his fanmail you can really sense the loyalty Jason feels. There's plenty for music fans too: alongside their usual evening gig, the Haystacks also perform two radio shows. Even Esther approves!
I always enjoy fights on this show, and Jason's little brawl at the gig is good value. I never thought I'd say this, but Jason looked really mean and moody sitting up there on that stage. I can see why Betsy took a shine to him. Speaking of Betsy, how mean was she to invite Jason back then make him sleep on the porch like a tramp! I do hope she doesn't stick around. That said, I did wonder how they would get out of it if she invited him in for coffee.
We don't really need a subplot this week but we get one anyway: John-boy gets a job at the university library and his boss tries to persuade him to change his degree. This is never going to happen, of course, but the guest actor was good and his character was suitably pushy.
Jason reminds me a lot of my own younger brother. I was always the writer and he was the one with the guitar, dreaming of being in a band. He flies helicopters now. I still write.
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