I'd decided that this year I would simply put something in the sidebar today to mark the anniversary of 9/11/2001, but on Saturday night, as we continued to plough through our DVD set of the 5-season long Ally McBeal series from the 1990s and early 2000s, the tragedy was brought to mind. An episode we watched, which I later discovered had been aired in December of 2001, was a subtle tribute to those lost on that terrible day, and to the many people grieving in various ways.
The usually zany, irreverent writers and cast were in a more sombre mood for most of the episode, set around Christmas-time, dealing with a couple of court cases. One case was about a former church minister who had lost his belief in God after his wife had been shot dead. This led to him being removed from his ministry. His son, a leading choir member, had lost his will to sing. A second case was one brought against the mayor of a town where a big factory had burned down, killing several employees and 6 firemen, leaving the town bereft, and with many unemployed citizens. The mayor ruled that their annual Christmas parade would be cancelled. A concerned citizen had brought him to court to fight him on this.
I didn't, at first, connect these themes to nine-eleven at all, but as the episode progressed I began to suspect that there was an undercurrent of some kind.
The stories were actually reflecting some of the real-life feelings which must have been around in New York - and everywhere - in the months following nine-eleven.
The episode ended as happily as possible with the minister regaining his faith and his position in his church, his son (played by Josh Groban) found his lovely voice again. A grieving town won their case against their Mayor and held a very respectful parade - seemingly miles long - with little children carrying the helmets of lost firemen. It was at this point that the relevance to nine-eleven eventually clicked into place in my head. I waited to see the date in the end credits - yes it was - 2001! Checking on-line later, I confirmed that the episode, titled Nine One One, was aired in December 2001. I hadn't noticed the heavy clue in the episode's title which had been explained in the episode by the minister recalling that his wife's last words before she died were: "Call nine-one-one".