REVIEW: Men in Trees

menintrees.jpgA recipe for television success:

Into a mixing bowl pour one part Sex and the City. Add two parts Northern Exposure. Fold through a jaw-droppingly beautiful location, clever scripts and likeable characters. Blend all ingredients well and leave mixture to rise.

Borrowing a little from the idea of ‘Northern Exposure’ which centred around a typical New York city boy moving to a small Alaskan town, ‘Men In Trees’ takes typical New York city girl Marin Frist (Anne Heche) and likewise relocates her to a small Alaskan town. Unlike Northern Exposure’s Joel Fleischman who was trapped in Cicely against his will, Marin has agreed to travel to the town of Elmo for a speaking arrangement to share her wisdom as the author of relationship guidance books. One thing leads to another and she finds herself ‘enjoying’ an extended stay.

Given that the show comes to us from one of the writers and producers of ‘Sex and the City’, it’s hardly surprising that ‘Men In Trees’ injects a similar feel and style. Marin is a writer normally based in New York with a vocal internal monologue who writes about relationships and at times finds herself heartbroken and confused by the opposite sex. Sound somewhat similar to one Carrie Bradshaw?

However like a brisk Alaskan winter, this show breathes fresh new life into a concept which could have very easily gone down the path of a tired old formula. The characters are all three-dimensional and given the chance to develop as individuals, predictable storylines are quickly overcome, and it is respectful rather than mocking of the small town experience. ‘Men In Trees’ promotes all that is good about life in a place where everyone knows your name and your business. Viewers are offered a genuine and warm embrace against a world that often seems cold and uncaring.

Time does not always flow as expected from episode to episode. Sometimes we catch up with characters after a few days while other episodes feel like they are taking place some weeks later, however this doesn’t get in the way of a good story. Aside from the unique episode storylines, several major story arcs related to developing romantic relationships flow continuously in the background. One such relationship is that between Marin and her potential love interest Jack (James Tupper), who are forever almost-but-not-quite getting their timing right.

We are left with one very important question which will not be answered here. Will Jack become Marin’s Mr. Big?

20 Comments

  1. apos

    Getting this one here now, quite liking it.

  2. Breigh

    I love Men in Trees!! I’m not sure how I feel about Lynn coming back… but the show would probably die if Jack and Marin got together already. I’m sure he’ll be her Mr. Big, or her Luke (Gilmore Girls).

    I figure she’ll meet some other Alaskan guy, or that publisher will come around and they’ll hook up, JUST when Jack realizes he made a mistake, which of course will be too late, and on and on and on.

  3. Jamie

    I love this show! It just has such a charming appeal. I missed it this past week, but sure it will repeat in the summer.

  4. Tracey

    Hi Apos – Glad to hear it! I was a little reluctant to like it when I first started watching and I felt like it took a couple of episodes to really grow on me. But once I got past that I couldn’t get enough. The quality of the writing and the storylines keeps me coming back.

    Hi Breigh – Yeah the whole Lynn thing is a bit hard to deal with. I was screaming at Jack to not be an idiot, but to no avail…Marin and Jack have such great chemistry together, I love it when they’re on screen together. You might be right about the development of a Luke situation similar to Gilmore Girls…there are many parallels. I agree with you regarding the publisher, he seems like a pretty interesting guy and they are certainly keeping him as a character in the background…it will be good to see where they go with all that. As long as the writing stays crisp and they don’t mess around with the characters too much, I’ll keep coming back!!

    Hi Jamie – Me too!! (as you can tell). It’s got a different feel to a lot of shows which are currently on tv, and I have to say I like what it offers. And the location is breathtaking which certainly doesn’t hurt.

  5. Lila

    I love Men in Trees!! I love Sam the plow boy and Sturart they both are so sexy. Hope to see more of them on the show. Good to finally have a non-violent show getting so sick of that kinda tv shows. Great show please keep it on its the best! Lila, Minnesota

  6. Tracey

    Hi Lila – Thanks for your comments. I could not agree with you more. I love the quiet strength of Sam ‘plow boy’…and Stuart is an interesting guy. I can’t wait to see where things go from here. It really is a show that offers something different and something pleasant about human relationships. Cheers.

  7. Carol Sinclair

    LOVE THIS SHOW! And I really didn’t want to. It is so funny, sweet, sad, charming, unpredictable not ot mention the great location, and perfect cast: but the writing is what is so Wonderful! Cudos to whomever they are. I may be of the Baby Boomers set but I am not too old to not relate to all that goes on in Elmo. Keep up the good work.

    Is there any chance that all the “bits of wisdom” from Marin says might be compiled into a book???

  8. Tracey

    Hi Carol – Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about liking the show despite your best efforts. I didn’t really want to bring another TV show into my fold, but when a show is this damn good it’s hard to resist!! I love how real and human the stories are and that the characters are three-dimensional and continue to grow throughout the series….I find myself hanging out for each episode and I can’t say that about many shows.

    Now there’s a thought about a ‘Marin’s Wisdom’ book…I have no doubt that the studio will have something in mind for her words…

    I hope to see you back again soon!! 8)

  9. Marcia

    What do you think about ABC shelving Men in Trees for 6 weeks so that can put new show October Road in that coveted spot? I hate it when they pull shows off for a week here and there. Or run reruns when the show has only been on a few weeks. Who is up for a boycott of ABC and /or all of their sponsors if they dont quit jerking us the public people around so much? I am! Who will write letters and comments to ABC informing them of the sponsor boycott? I will! Who will write letters to the sponsors themselves to tell them personally they better put some pressure on ABC to quit screwing with us their public people? I will! All of you out there who read this please send letters and comments to the ABC CEOs and their websites. Please! Thank You!

  10. Tracey

    Hi Marcia – I share your frustration at the network. Nothing irritates me more than a network who has a successful show and then decides to start stuffing around with it – everything is at their whim, when really the needs they should be addressing are those of the viewing public. It’s about time they re-examined their priorities!!

    I hope a flood of letters are received in protest on this type of stunt which networks like to pull!! Perhaps one day someone will listen and stop screwing around the only decent television shows that are currently being screened.

    Thanks for your comments.

  11. marilyn Drews

    I wait every week to watch this show and when its a repeat its a waste of time. I want to know whats going to happen nexxt. Why torture us waiting in the dark? He should get back to Mar!!!

    I can’t wait for the next episold!!!!!

  12. marilyn Drews

    I did write a comment. I said avery week for a new show and I’m waiting for what happens next. I can hardly waiot until next week. Why is it all a repeat?

  13. marilyn Drews

    How many comments to I have to make? I love this show and I can’t wait for the next show.

  14. elizabeth

    Please put October whatever on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday. I watch tv on Sunday nights (Desp. Housewives and Bro. and Sis.) and Thursday nights (Greys Anat. and Men in Trees). All of my friends love Men in Trees. Why would they make us wait when there isn’t anything else to watch.

  15. Tracey

    Hi Elizabeth – It’s crazy the way the network shuffles around a quality show like Men in Trees…I hope they start to reward quality rather than continue to frustrate fans of the show. I just don’t understand the logic either.

  16. Tracey

    Hi Marilyn – I hope your attempts at getting through to the network eventually pay off…for all our sakes. Even fans eventually tire of the endless repeats!!

  17. Kathy

    OK everyone I can’t stand it anymore I need to see my show and am sick of the reruns and so is everyone that comes over to see the show together. Are they nuts for moving this great show all over the place. I think we all need to ban together and not watch October Road. I love watching what is going to happen next to Jack & Marin and all the other people on the show Oh by the way bring Lynns Babys Daddy to the show to pick her up. Marilyn get ahold of someone and tell them we need our show back! Oh by the way they can send me Cash hot guy.

  18. a.

    hi tracey – i found your site after searching for information on MIT. it’s funny b/c i used the same expression to describe it to a friend of mine, “satc meets northern exposure,” both of which i loved when they were on. i was a bit hesistant about watching it at first but now i’m addicted. i love the diversity of the personalities – jane cracks me up every time (maybe because i’m a bit of a janey myself) and anne heche surprisingly pulls off her character really well. jack is probably destined to be marin’s “big” but at least he’s much more pleasing to the eye and less of a self-preoccupied jerk.

    p.s. doesn’t lynn and theresa kind of look/act similar or is it just me?

  19. Tracey

    Hi Kathy – I could not agree with you more regarding how bad it is that Men In Trees is getting played around with. I am seriously addicted to the show and I am in desperate need of another fix. I definitely think the father of Lynn’s baby needs to come and take her away…hopefully then the balance between Marin and Jack can be restored. But I really think Jack should get his act together anyway….what is he thinking??!!!!???

    I wish you luck in your endeavour to obtain Cash (the ‘hot guy’ and not the dollars). 8)

    Thanks for your comments.

  20. Tracey

    Hi a. – I’m glad you paid a visit to the site. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my love of Men in Trees. I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy it, but probably from the second episode in I was seriously addicted. Making us wait so long for the next Season is almost unbearable!!

    I was also a big fan of ‘satc’ and ‘Northern Exposure’ and perhaps some of those same elements make Men in Trees such as easy watch. As you so rightly point out the diversity of personalities is SO watchable. I think often TV shows have a tendency to neglect characterisation and fail to let their characters mature and grow. Thankfully Men in Trees avoids that and all the characters are so full of life and so genuinely delivered that they are difficult to resist.

    I know what you mean about Jane, I think a lot of women can see elements of themselves in her character. I thought at first she would irritate me, but I haven’t found that to be the case…and her with ‘Plow Guy’…now that is oh so sweet. Anne Heche is surprisingly good in her portrayal of Marin, I wasn’t sure what to expect from her, but she has really grown on me as an actor.

    I suspect you’re right about Jack being Mr.Big…but I’m hoping not!! I don’t think I can handle that agonising are they / are they not dilemma again. But as you put it, Jack is definitely more easy on the eyes and a much more pleasant character than Mr Big could ever hope to be.

    As for the whole Lynn / Theresa thing I think you’re onto something there. Aside from physical similarities, they certainly have a similar kind of hard-nosed practicality and ‘cool’ vibe happening…let’s hope Lynn will disappear soon and then it won’t be a problem.

    Thanks for your comments. 😉

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