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Sunday, February 26, 2006

1.57 --- Grace Note

Directed by : Peter Medak
Written by : Patrice Messina
Starring : Julia Migenes, Sydney Penny
First aired : 4th of April, 1986.

New York City, 1966. Rosemarie Miletti (Julia Migenes, Carmen) is an aspiring opera singer, who is running out of time to make her big break. One reason why is she lagging behind the schedule is her terminally ill kid sister Mary (Sydney Penny, All My Children), whose leukemia just went out of remission. Mary is adamant that Rosemarie will make it big as an opera singer, which her big sister doesn't believe in. While they're alone in Mary's room, Mary spots a shooting star and makes her wish.

Next day, Rosemarie returns home and is greeted by a message to quickly get to the hospital. Fearing the worst, she is just in time to see her sister still alive, but Mary says she has something for her. She instructs her to follow the sound of music, which Rosemarie does. As she walks down the hospital corridor, she is taken 20 years to the future - a fact she realizes by reading a newspaper headline once outside.

Realizing what this might be about, Rosemarie hails a cab and goes to the Metropolitan Opera...where she is performing in Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata ! She is amazed to see herself as a big opera star, beloved by everyone in the crowd. At the end of a show, she sneaks backstage and catches herself, along with the older version of her other sister Dorothy, reminiscing about Mary.

Just then, Rosemarie (the "past" version of her, that is) hears Mary's voice asking her to go back. She rushes back to the hospital and runs down the same corridor...returning to 1966., just in time for her sister's last breath. As she's about to die, Mary presents Rosemarie with a farewell birthday gift - an amulet with her photo in it...the very same amulet Rosemarie saw herself wearing in the future. Mary dies, and Rosemarie is crushed - but at the same time, she realizes her destiny is set.

***

A legit tear-jerker from the pen of Patrice Messina, Grace Note represents most likely director Peter Medak's strongest colour TZ entry so far. Medak, one of the more talented directors from the 80s TZ crop, directs his wife and a real-life soprano Julia Migenes in this poignant story of endings and beginnings, peppered by some great classical music throughout. Migenes, who starred alongside the great Placido Domingo in the movie adaptation of George Bizet's Carmen, is perfectly cast as the opera starlet in making, and Medak shows off his directorial skills with a few deft touches here and there - namely that nifty time-travel hospital walk, which looks pretty good still. Medak seems to have a flair for tracking shots ; just remember the opening for Dead Woman's Shoes, or the hide-and-seek part of otherwise pretty bland Still Life. Thankfully enough, this time he doesn't have to resort to theatrics in order to make the episode work.

I have to say, the on-air pairing of Shadow Play and Grace Note is probably one of the strongest ever from the first season, along with Examination Day/A Message from Charity and some other standouts.

Trivia : keep your eyes peeled for the late, great stage actor & director Kay E. Kuter, appearing here as Rosemarie's opera tutor.

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