Welcome to the 25th edition of "Belled," marking our third year in
With Valentine's Day romance in the air, we couldn't help but be reminded
of the countless romantic moments Designing Women provides -- yet another
distinction which sets this series apart from other situation comedies.
Because there are so many palpable romantic moments from which to choose
and because "Belled" has such discerning readers, this feature focuses on the
more subtle moments that often tug at our heartstrings in a less expected
way. After much deliberation, we narrowed down the list to ten of our
favorites -- plus tailored this issue's Trivia around romantic serenades!
Also in this edition, Love Letters makes an encore appearance, and we bid
farewell to Annie Potts' critically acclaimed Any Day Now.
But first, sit back with your soft music and grab your Southern belle style
handkerchief as we count down to Belled's favorite Designing Women romantic
Romance -- 'Designing Women' Style
"Belled" Presents the Series' Top Ten Romantic Moments
Suzanne Opens Up to Anthony - "Stranded"
Strand two characters who couldn't be more opposite together, and what do
you get? Aside from a hilarious situation, you also get our pick for one of
Designing Women's most romantic moments! When Suzanne actually breaks down
and admits to Anthony that she feels some comfort with him, it opens up a
whole new viewer perspective on this relationship. Anthony may continue to
find Suzanne extremely frustrating, and neither he nor Suzanne ever admit
to having any attraction to one another in any future episodes, but from
this moment forward their relationship is markedly different and an
underlying, unique courtship begins.
Mary Jo Chooses Between Ted and J.D. - "Ted Bare"
Despite the substantial screen time shared by Mary Jo and J.D. involving
her coming to terms with her insecurities about dating and sex during the
first two seasons, it is actually J.D.'s smallest appearance at the end of
this episode which makes our list as one of DW's most romantic moments. As
Mary Jo struggles throughout the episode to reconcile how she feels about
her ex-husband's new-found interest in / long-overdue appreciation of her
with her growing feelings for J.D., J.D. calls from his business trip to
say that he misses Mary Jo and will be home soon. He then refuses her offer
to meet him at the airport because he is concerned that her tires are too
low. The slight smile on Mary Jo's face in this moment conveys the value
she places on their relationship and the love and appreciation she feels
for J.D.. The moment is so significant for Mary Jo, in fact, that she is
finally able to stand up for herself with Ted, walking away from him
definitively with a new-found confidence in herself.
B.J. Confronts James In the Crypt - "Love Letters"
We can't think of a single other soliloquy in the entire series, so bravo
to new woman in town, B.J., for taking and tackling the challenge with true
Designing Women aplomb! B.J.'s love and respect for her "Sweet James" was
quickly and solidly established upon her arrival at Sugarbakers, so that
when she discovers (or thinks she has) evidence that he betrayed her, her
devastation is incontrovertible. It doesn't matter that James has passed on
or that the only place for B.J. to express her pain of loneliness and
betrayal is to her husband's crypt; the comic situation is actually quite
reasonable and in this one scene, B.J. expresses a whole range of emotions
to James -- from anger to side-splitting laughter to the sheer agony of
living without him.
Julia and Donald Stillman - "One Night With You"
Sometimes romance simply involves being open enough to get to know someone
truly. Though Donald Stillman's request to spend one night with Julia, the
woman he has loved from afar for thirty years, meets with much suspicion and
even ridicule from everyone at Sugarbakers (including Julia at first), Julia
complies. As a result, the very much in love Julia finds herself
unexpectedly attracted to the person she comes to know during the evening,
and Donald, too, has the chance to get to know the person who has been his
dream for so much of his life. Though Julia could or would never betray
Reese, the attraction between she and Donald is evident, and they spend
their one night together... talking and slowly dancing.
Are You Lonesome Tonight - "E.P. Phone Home"
Though perhaps not romantic in the popular sense, this entire episode is
romantic in the classical sense regarding the strong emotions Elvis and his
memory elicits amongst legions. Trucker Vern's recollection with Julia of
how Elvis touched his dying son's life certainly stands out in this
episode; it is second only to the final moments when his dedication to
Julia of Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight" pours out over the car radio as
the team drives back to Atlanta. The silence in the car allows the singular
facial expressions of each of the characters to convey the romance of the
moment, and the final camera pan to the "E.P. Phone Home" bumper sticker
affixed to Julia's car is a final testament to the change the experience
Julia Calls Reese - "The Mistress"
Julia and Reese shared many tremendously entertaining and touching scenes
together, but Belled's pick for their most romantic moment occurred without
Hal Holbrook even being on the screen! By the time Julia returns home in
this episode from a terribly difficult day dealing with clients whose
marital values are, at best, skewed, her relationship with Reese was
already firmly established. Though Reese is not present in the entire
episode, a weary Julia picks up the phone in the very last minute and all
she needs to hear is his voice on the other end of the line. Reese
immediately hears Julia's mood in her voice and offers to bring over
dinner; pancakes for their breakfast instead is Julia's response, and she
then switches off the light at Sugarbakers and slowly walks upstairs to
wait for Reese.
You're So Good When You're Bad - "Reservations for Eight"
This famous episode pitting the men against the women in a battle of the
sexes ranks among the series' most famous; it is all at once hilarious,
revealing, thought-provoking, and, yes, romantic. By episode's end, their
twenty-four-hour debate has the sides so infuriated with each other that
not a single word is uttered by anyone throughout dinner. When Charley
Pride's "You're So Good When You're Bad" starts playing in the restaurant,
however, the deliriously-in-love Bill and Charlene take to the dance floor,
leaving the other three established couples to continue to stew at the
table. As the still-courting Charlene and Bill dance, the others slowly
begin to realize what they have together -- despite their differences of
opinion -- and to take their places on the dance floor: Mary Jo and J.D., a
fairly new and now committed couple; Suzanne and Dash, ex-spouses who still
love and respect each other; and, finally, the most reluctant but
nevertheless in tact and stronger than ever, Julia and Reese. Eight very
unique people and friends and four couples all dancing in their singular
way together on one dance floor. By far, one of the most romantic and
memorable moments of
Charlene and Bill - "It's A Wonderful Life"
This couple oozed old fashioned romance throughout the run of the series,
but in this episode, Charlene has recently given birth to their daughter and
is feeling downright unattractive. After emotionally jumping to the
conclusion that her husband has been having an affair, Charlene's friends
work together to whisk she and Bill away for a romantic evening. The evening
itself may not go according to plan, but the end-result has the desired
effect. Bill and Charlene, both admitting they would rather be together with
their baby daughter, retire early from their evening out and veteran
Designing Women director David Trainer then brings us one of the show's most
poignantly romantic moments as the scene shifts back to the Stillfield home.
The room is filled with the soft glow and crisp crackle of the fireplace
with the camera focused in on Charlene's stockinged feet as we hear her
giggles and whispers of "Oh, you Sweetie." As the camera pans out, we expect
to see Charlene wrapped in Bill's arms, but instead she is holding and
gently rocking baby Olivia while Bill sits behind her on the window ledge,
offering an unprecedented family portrait.
The Hangar Picnic - "Second Time Around"
Feeling that his intensely budding feelings for Charlene are disrespectful
to his late wife, Bill breaks off his relationship with Charlene, sending
her into a tailspin of depression. It is obvious to everyone that
Charlene has finally really met the man for whom she's been searching, and
Julia takes an unprecedented step to "butt" into her friend's life and has a
little talk with Bill which helps him come to terms with the
guilt he feels. Bill then calls Charlene, asking her to meet him at his
airplane, adding that he's been a fool and that he loves her. Still hurt
and reluctant, Charlene agrees to meet him and, despite the current cold
weather, she shows up at the hangar wearing the soft Southern Baptist dress
that Bill previously mentioned wanting to see her in someday. Remembering
Charlene's favorite things, too, Bill has Mickey Gilley playing in the
background, and he tells Charlene that because of the weather conditions
they will be having their picnic right there in the hangar. He apologizes
again for having hurt her -- especially after Charlene tells him he was the
first man she ever truly trusted. As they dance slowly, Bill tells her he
doesn't care if they are standing up or laying down, as long as he is next
to her for the next fifty years, and Charlene -- the designing woman
best known for her love of romance and ardent search for true love --
admits her love for him, as well.
And finally.........Designing Women's Most Romantic Scene
Dash Goff Returns - "Dash Goff, the Writer"
Without question, this episode itself ranks as one of the most romantic of
the Designing Women series. Not only does the chemistry between Delta and
future-husband Gerald McRaney leap right off the screen, but the entire
episode's dialogue exudes southern charm and romance -- from the excerpts
of Dash's novel to each touching one-on-one between Dash and the main
characters. Belled's pick for our #1 favorite Designing Women romantic
moment, however, is the finale in which Julia reads Dash's letter --
arguably the sexiest and most risque moment of the series, complemented by
the old-fashioned photographic backdrop of the "Belles" in luscious, gauzy
lace while a soft rendition of the series theme plays in the background.
The episode itself focuses on the beauty, truth, and romance each of us can
find in another person if we only stop and look, and it culminates in this
final moment. Is it any wonder why you're reading "Belled" now?
Do you have a favorite not included in this list? Please email "Belled" so we can include your choices in a future "What Ever Happened to...."!
**Photo credit: Columbia Pictures Television
Courtesy of Designing Women Tribute
'Any Day Now' ends with "Just the Beginning"
After seventeen consecutive and successful years in television series, Annie
Potts is taking a well-deserved vacation.
Several weeks ago, the cast and crew of LIFETIME's Any Day Now concluded
their production of the show, and the cable network is currently preparing
to air the final episode of this controversial and critically acclaimed
original series in March.
The four seasons of Any Day Now, starring Annie Potts and Lorraine
Toussaint, have focused on the tumultuous and triumphant inter-racial
friendship of Mary Elizabeth, aka M.E., (Potts) and Rene (Toussaint),
persevering over the thirty years since the days of the Civil Rights
struggle in Birmingham, Alabama. It has proven to be another mega-success
for Annie Potts, as well as everyone involved with the show which is
arguably one of the first critical and popular successes in original cable
series programming. The series boasts two Screen Actors Guild Award
nominations, multiple NAACP Awards, and a GLAAD Media Award. The show was
also honored at the 2000 Racial Justice Awards, the 2000 Christopher Awards,
and received an Honorable Mention at the 24th Annual Gracie Allen Awards.
An unequivocal hit since it first premiered, the initial concept for Any Day Now was hard to sell to network executives, who for several years rejected
creator Nancy Miller's pitch for a show about two little girls during the
Civil Rights Movement. Thankfully, the concept hit home with LIFETIME
executives during their search for an original drama series, and they
adapted it to include action set in the present, as well as in the past.
The result has been a show which consistently entertains as much as it also
enlightens. The LIFETIME cable deal has also afforded the writers more
creative freedom than the networks more than likely would have, resulting in
Any Day Now's freedom to explore the provocative and volatile subject matter
that has earned the series such recognition and reward.
Any Day Now's final two-hour episode, "Just the Beginning," will air March
10, celebrating a marriage, a new home, and a life-long friendship that has
truly stood the test of time.
The episode centers around Rene's wedding to Judge "Turk" Terhune (William
Allen Young) where Rene and M.E. become caught in the middle of the racial
tension that still exists between their mothers. Meanwhile, their
friendship becomes further strained by a community controversy over the
discovery of an old slave cemetery that ultimately leads to a debate about
present-day slave reparations.
The episode also pays due attention to the Simms family who has been such a
strong hub throughout the series. After having finally realized her dream of
becoming a writer, M.E. is surprised when yet another exciting job offer
comes her way, and she and Colliar (Chris Mulkey) finally move into their
new house after losing their home in a tornado earlier this season. Plus,
Kelly and Ajonie announce that they plan to reconcile.
As always, the series' present storyline subtly ties into the past, and the
past scenes of "Just the Beginning" promise to be especially apropos.
Rene's troubled older brother Elston (Victor Love) returns home for a brief
visit and inspires young Rene (Maya Goodwin) and young M.E. (Olivia Hack) to
explore each other's social circles in order to better understand themselves
-- a journey we have seen continuously, creatively, and sensitively evolve
throughout the four-year run of Any Day Now.
"Just the Beginning" is sure to be a fitting conclusion to this series which
has not only raised the bar for original cable series, but will continue to keep it high long after its end.
**Photos and episode information courtesy of LIFETIME Television
...'Love Letters' -- starring Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter
Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook's performance of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters in
November was a smashing success! Now, Northwest fans have a chance to see
it, as well.
On March 22 and 23, Dixie and Hal will reprise their roles as Melissa
Gardner and Andrew Makepeace in Yakima, WA, as part of Capitol Theatre's
"Best of Broadway" Series. Also, two August performances in Reno, NV, are
Don't miss your chance to see this incredible production!
For more information:
The Cabaret: dixiecarter.com
Belled: Issue #023
Capitol Theatre's "Best of Broadway"
Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!
(97) What was the name of the fraternity that serenaded the ladies in "A Big Affair"?
(98) Which of Anthony's partners serenaded him in his dreams?
(99) What song was playing in the background during the romantic Stillfield family scene described above from the episode "It's a Wonderful Life" -- and who was singing it?
(100) What song did Dr. Hacker sing when he romanced Julia while she was in the hospital?
* Answers will appear in the next issue.
Trivia Answers from Issue #24
'The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century'
(93) What was Suzanne's Christmas gift to Bernice?
Cotton jockey underwear
(94) Why did Bernice's New Years date cancel on her?
Actually, the old mand stood her up.
(95) What movie did Charlene fall asleep to before Dolly met her in her dream?
It's A Wonderful Life
(96) What song did Vanessa keep singing loudly in the hospital?
I Feel Good