Season 1, Episode 19
Date of airing: April 13, 1997 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 11.1/17 in Households
This happened to be a nice little family mother/daughter drama wrapped into a surprisingly good episode. The one premise I would usually discover in any of the family television dramas on the air, albeit not developed like in this episode, because in those TV dramas, it is an arc for six seasons and not focused on one single episode. Mother issues that get resolved after 45 minutes — this is perfect for my damaged soul. And it worked for me in this episode, since the story was light, but focused, enough to connect with the characters and have hope that Eunice and Robin were able to reconnect before she dies. In the meantime, this episode was also good enough to continue carrying on developing a back story of a character who died before the show even began. It is almost like EARLY EDITION is a show about Lucius Snow as much as it is about Gary Hobson. Every once in a while we learn something about Lucius’ life that fleshes him out as a character who existed in this series universe and who could be revisited in a flashback storyline.
And that makes things really intriguing in this show. The writers decided to play with a character who never had any screentime and who never will have any (barring said flashback sequences that may come over the course of the show, or not), because that character is dead, yet he is a focal point of the show’s back story and premise, and almost a midpoint in the entire mythology of the show that needs discovering, even if Lucius’ story happens to be anything but important. Yes, Gary would most likely learn a lot and advance in his efforts to help people through the paper, if he understands fully how his predecessor did it for 50 years (although the question has never arisen whether Lucius was indeed helping people in need for all of his 50 years — maybe he tried to prevent the assassination of JFK, but did he care enough for the little man in the neighborhood to get out every morning and save lives?), but other than that it’s not like the mythology of the paper will be explained through Lucius. After all, I don’t think that Lucius was the first recipient of the paper, and he was just another Gary Hobson who started receiving the paper after his predecessor died. Maybe Lucius once tried to figure out where the paper come from, but he did not get very far. Maybe the only thing Lucius learned about his situation is who received the paper before he did.
Anyway, Eunice and Robin were interesting characters. I knew from the beginning that Eunice once was involved with Lucius, right after she remembered the cat, and the cat continued to deliver the paper to her (and especially after she quickly mentioned that one of her former lovers was doing things with newspapers), but even with that predictability, her story was still quite enjoyable. For once I believed that Gary just wanted not to be involved in something like this and just stay away and do his daily routine, and he really tried to get out of the way of it all, since the cat always forced him back to Eunice, where he had to deal with her illness, where he had to reluctantly deal with her boyfriend, and where he had to deal with Robin. Still, the writers helped themselves with conveniences, like not mentioning immediately that Eunice felt the cat reminded her of her week-long boyfriend from decades ago, or having Gary wonder why the cat started delivering the paper to this dying woman (he could have asked her about her past, trying to figure out connections?). The writers also figured that it was a good idea to not connect Lucius’ fate with Gary’s future fate — Gary has already come to realize that the paper kills his social life, and as it shows, Lucius only met the love of his life for one week (interesting question: When he was in Rome, did he get the Italian edition of the Sun-Times and saved lives in Rome?), but other than that he lived a secluded life as well. Is this something Gary learned over the course of this episode and decided to do something about it? The answer to that is “No,” because that is not the kind of show EARLY EDITION wants to be.
That brings me to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and how the Chosen One was supposed to fight against the forces of darkness herself, yet during the first two episodes of said show, she assembled friends and she was not fighting the fight by herself. In EARLY EDITION, the writers were never going this far. Yes, Gary occasionally gets help from Chuck and Marissa, and Chuck even saved a group of Chinese people for a hilarious scene that involved being lost in translation, but it’s not like Gary accepts help around him — he keeps to himself with the paper, showing that the Chosen One premise can truly be alive in a TV show that wants to deal with that premise.