Clannadlvr (clannadlvr) wrote in ship_manifesto,

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Title:  “Tomorrow’s Sexual Tension…Today”

Author:  clannadlvr

Fandom:  Early Edition

Pairing:  Gary/Brigatti

Spoilers:  The Entire Series (1995-2000)

Notes:   A massive thanks to serrico for all of her input.  She was the one who welcomed me into the online fandom all the way back in 2002 (<sings>”Memories…all alone…”</sings>) and has been a constant source of input and support on my many fannish endeavors.  (Oh, yeah, and she also got me into Smallville fandom.  I don’t know whether to thank her, or….*heh*)  Consider this a co-writing credit on this essay as she really helped to clarify my points and added in elements I’d forgotten.

Email:  clannadlvr at yahoo dot com


Ah, welcome to one of the most deliciously unrequited textual relationships in modern television!  During the show’s four year run, the PTB at Early Edition paired the main protagonist, Gary Hobson, with various females, resulting in varying degrees of fan reaction.  *cough*Erica*cough*.  However, most fans will agree that the antagonistic relationship between the beleaguered guy who gets tomorrow’s paper today and the tough cop who is suspicious of his actions is one of the most delightful on the show.

A quick background on Early Edition:

The show centers on Gary Hobson, a stockbroker in his early thirties who, after getting thrown out of the house by his wife on their wedding anniversary, starts receiving an odd newspaper every day.  Why is it odd? He finds it on his hotel room’s welcome mat every morning, replete with a seemingly magical orange cat.  Gary soon realizes that the newspaper is actually the following day’s edition and that if he intervenes in the stories listed, he can actually change the future.  Plane crashes can be averted…burglaries thwarted…countless lives saved.  While Gary’s decision to become a hero is not always an easy or settled one, his inner boy scout wins out: Chicago becomes protected by an unlikely hero.

Gary’s escapades often cause him to be noticed by the cops- more than once he’s actually suspected of causing a crime/emergency situation rather than being the one to intercede and save the day.  One cop in particular finds herself suspicious of Gary’s ability to always be in the “right place at the right time”:  Detective Toni Brigatti.

Character Studies:

Gary Hobson:

Gary is quite possibly the definition of television land’s Midwestern, apple pie, sports loving, all American kid.  (Go Cubs!)  With an inherent naiveté that could make you think he stepped right out of Nick at Night and looks that invite hugs as well as sidelong glances, the character could come off as helplessly cornpone and trite- simply just another pretty face.  However, Gary’s portrayer, Kyle Chandler, does an amazing job of showing the complexity of a normal man who is forced to lead an abnormal life. 

Throughout the series, Gary constantly struggles with the demands the paper puts on his life and the inability he has to break with his duties- as he’s often reminded, using the paper to help others is his choice.  Yet his moral makeup, including the demands of his conscience, overrule his desire to quit.  Gary turns out to be a man who, while wanting to “do good,” is often resentful of the paper as it doesn’t allow him to have control over his own life.  Fortunately, he has a small, yet close nit group of friends who help in his quest to achieve some sort of balance, most notably Chuck and Marissa (played wonderfully by Fisher Stevens and Shané Williams, respectively.)

Detective Toni Brigatti: 

Smart, attractive, and occasionally acerbic, Detective Brigatti at first seems to be the stereotypical female TV cop;  she’s tough as nails because she has to be, a woman in a man’s world doing a man’s job.  Yet her interactions with Gary, or, as she calls him, “Hobson,” illuminate additional aspects of her character.  Brigatti, played by Constance Marie, enters Early Edition during season 3 in the episode “In Gary We Trust” and immediately becomes suspicious of Gary’s actions, trying to, as any good detective should, figure out the reasons behind his mysterious actions.  In each of the six episodes in which she appears during the show’s run, we watch Brigatti struggle between her need for the truth, including the way her “cop brain” processes the facts,  and her instinctual trust of Gary.  (Not to mention her growing attraction!)

In one of the most poignant episodes of the show, the two-parter “Fatal Edition,” Gary is arrested for murder, but soon escapes police custody in order to find the real culprit.  In one scene, Brigatti finds Gary hiding from the manhunt in her apartment and has him at gunpoint, ready to arrest him and bring him to the station on murder charges.  They lock gazes…and even as she tells him to stop, threatening to shoot, she allows him to slip away into the shadows, unfettered.  Brigatti the cop and Toni the person find themselves at odds, and the intuitive side of her nature wins out.  

(Another quick note on Brigatti’s character:  serrico pointed out that the EE fandom almost never refers to her by her first name, Toni.  So much of this is based on the fact that Gary and Toni refer to each other as Hobson and Brigatti during most of their interaction.  This nomenclature was absorbed by the fandom as a way of describing their unique relationship.  I’ll try to use both during this essay in an effort to highlight their outward/interactive characters, Hobson/Brigatti, and their inner selves, Gary/Toni.)

Gary/Brigatti:  Canon Evidence

Well, as this is an established canon un-relationship since Gary and Brigatti never really get together during the run of the show, though they do agree to go on a date in 'Occasionally Amber,' the evidence for this pairing is still relatively strong.  First off, here are some key events during their relationship on screen, by episode:

“In Gary We Trust”:  In their first episode together, Gary Hobson and Federal Marshall Brigatti quickly establish a biting, tension filled repartee that has been absent from almost every other relationship Gary has had with other female characters.  While most of Gary’s past relationships- Marcia, Emma, Renee, and of course, the mostly-despised-by-fans-Erica- have always had a certain amount of tension due to his secret keeping, the immediate electricity between Gary and Brigatti makes this relationship relatively unique from the get-go.  (As serrico reminds me, his relationship with Meredith Carson, a reporter in season one, is relatively snarky as well, and, Pre-Brigatti, is Gary’s most viable love interest.  Still, I’d argue that the UST lasts much longer for Gary/Toni, so that heightens the snark/tension even more.)

“Crumb Again”:  The snark continues in this episode as Federal Agent Brigatti becomes a detective with the Chicago PD.  Of course, this is wonderful in that we get to see Gary and Toni interact a great deal more, especially since she’ll now run into Gary and his hijinks with greater frequency.  Let’s just say that Brigatti’s curiosity is definitely piqued. 

“The Iceman Taketh”- bwhahah!!!  Oh, yes.  It’s THAT episode.  The one with the kiss.  And (huge kudos here to serrico for reminding me of incidents during the episode that I’d since forgotten) so much more.  Gary and Brigatti’s relationship reaches a new level of exasperation and flirtation as the two are forced to pose as husband and wife to stop a jewel thief.  Brilliant exchanges like the following cement the irascible nature of their “courtship”:

Brigatti: Oh, and another thing. If I was married to you and you acted like that, I'd shoot ya.
Gary: Well, you wouldn't need to because if I was married to you, I'd shoot myself.  

If you want a primer on how Gary and Toni interact, one that shows you how/why they are a general fandom OTP, this is the episode to watch.  During their fake-marriage, the two pepper their conversations with nastily tossed endearments and saccharine looks.  Brigatti calls Gary “Honey” constantly with daggers in her eyes.  The play acting reaches epic proportions, in such a way that you know that old axiom about those who protest too much is true. 

Another great element of this episode are the moments in which Gary and Toni aren’t play acting, per se.  For example, as they have to share a room together for their cover story, the sexual tension is palpable in close quarters.  Gary stares as she removes her stockings, their situation of pseudo domestic bliss becoming all the more tension laden by the moment.  Then, Gary saves Toni’s life at the expense of the paper, proving how deeply he cares about her even for all of his gruff treatment.  In one of the most lovely scenes, as Toni bandages an injury on his arm, they almost kiss…and are interrupted!  (A nation of fans screams in frustration!)  The back and forth continues as they continue their charade, with Toni growing increasingly jealous when she sees Gary interact and dance with other women and Gary goading her every chance he gets. Then, Gary saves her job. As is the constant in their relationship, for as much as they bicker/antagonize each other, protection and affection is also present.

But the highpoint in this episode for the characters is when, in a scene where they must act like a married couple in order to cement their cover stories, the two are “forced” to kiss.  The tentative/awkward embrace quickly turns passionate, with Toni and Gary turning heads by their aggressive tonsil hockey.  Of course, they both deny that there is anything else to that kiss other than acting, yet the audience knows better.  In the ending scene of the episode, when Brigatti comes to Gary’s bar to take back the wedding ring they used undercover, the fact that both of them wish that the marriage was at least a little real is evident. 

“Fatal Edition, Parts 1&2”:  Again, I have to point to the aforementioned scene where Brigatti has Gary at gunpoint, but allows her intuition about his innocence to sway her actions.  As serrico points out, what’s really impressive in this situation is that when Toni refuses to take the facts as they are and believes in Gary’s guilt, she puts her relationship with her coworkers, her reputation as a cop, and even her very job on the line because she has faith in Gary.  After everything is said and done, the real culprit caught and Gary’s innocence proved, the interaction between Gary and Toni shows that something has definitely changed between them.  This is the most tumultuous episode for the characters as a ship as it throws their insecurities/suspicions, and growing trust, into the spotlight. 

“Occasionally Amber”:  This is the last episode in which Brigatti appears and, though sadly the relationship is not completely resolved, it still gives us ample examples of their sexual tension.   We see Brigatti’s rampant jealousy once more, which causes even more bickering between Toni and Gary.  Though no huge declarations are made…we get a prize all the same at the end of the episode.  Gary finally asks Toni out on a date.  *enter the fans to fill in what that date could have been like* 


Why Gary/Brigatti?- Interpretations:

It would be easy to say that the popularity of G/B within the fandom, to the exclusion of all other Gary relationships, is simply due to the banter and sexual tension often written and played (in the fourth season, at least) in the style of romantic comedies from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  While that’s true, I would also suggest that one of the strongest reasons the audience loves Gary/Brigatti is because of the similarities of the two characters. 

Let me back up by first saying that in order to understand Gary/Brigatti, you have to look at the relationships Gary has had with other women on the show.  First, there’s Marcia, Gary’s ex-wife who callously tosses his things out the window, for apparently no reason, on their wedding anniversary.  This quickly establishes the “woobie factor” for Gary, endearing him to the audience beyond his movie star good looks and curmudgeonly/sweet character.  So, the fans are already predisposed to want him to have a positive relationship with a woman.

Next, there’s Meredith, a newspaper reporter who at first seems to want a relationship with Gary, yet ruins it as she allows her desire for a story, and her knowledge of The Paper,  to undermine her feelings for Gary.  Then there’s Emma, a woman Gary falls hard for, yet lets go of when the paper shows him that her own lost love, whom she believed to be dead, is back in the picture.  Renee, a childhood friend with whom Gary reunites, doesn’t work out either.  And then, of course, there is Erica Paget (Kristy Swanson, of BtVS- the movie fame), the blonde, relatively icy woman who begins to work at Gary’s bar.  Out of all of Gary’s onscreen relationships, this one proves to be the longest, yet is also an exercise in futility.  Most importantly, it underlines Gary’s desire to be coupled, even if it’s with the wrong person: for Erica’s tenure on the show, Gary turns into a lovesick teen, desperately trying to win her attention.  Yet, when he does, the relationship doesn’t have the spark or compatibility that he’s looking for.  (In fact, in the episode “Blowing Up Is Hard to Do,” he straight-out admits to the lack of chemistry between them.  *fangirls go wild*).  Also, Erica proves herself unable to handle The Paper when the secret is revealed to her;  she immediately underestimates its power and makes things even more difficult for Gary. Erica finally leaves town, much to the fans’ delight, rendering Gary single once more.  While there are other women who pop up in other episodes, these main relationships outline a trend for poor Gary:  each seems not meant to be.   

So how does this affect Gary/Brigatti?  To put it simply, all of these “not meant to be” situations put into relief the undeniable attraction between our paperboy and cop.  In each of the above situations, Gary often has to put in exponential amounts of effort to make his relationships work, doing his best to woo and win even with the demands of the paper on his daily life.  However, none of these relationships have the natural attraction and driving force of his interactions with Brigatti.  (Again, Meredith may possibly have had some potential, but conflicting agendas and Gary’s relative naiveté- this is in the first season, after all- sour this relationship.) While his other relationships may be relatively “safe,” none are as appealing as the difficult and potentially problem filled connection between Toni and Gary.  Sexual tension and attraction never have to be forced between Gary and Brigatti, and the clash of their tempers is enticing. 

Yet what’s most interesting about G/B is that it’s their similarities that make them so compatible.  Both are trying to do good, to make the world a better place.  Their different perspectives cause conflict, but can’t eliminate the underlying mission that they share.  Even more interesting is the fact that both characters have to deal with duality on a daily basis.  Brigatti seems to fight a battle between being a cop and a person throughout her time on the show, her duties often getting in the way of her desire to form personal connections.  Gary, too, finds himself at a loss when trying to get close to others beyond his tiny circle of friends- his duties with the paper have hindered his interpersonal relationships more than they’ve helped.  To put it more simply, the battle that Brigatti faces, between her cop side and her personal side, can be closely mirrored by the dualities in Gary’s own personality, i.e. hero v. human.  When you come right down to it, the two characters who bicker the most are actually the ones who have the capacity to understand each other better than anyone else.  While the tough as nails, street smart cop and the occasionally bumbling, homespun bar owner may at first seem to be opposites, their similarities make them all the more appealing and compatible. 

Now, of course, latent understanding, even if they don’t realize it, can’t completely explain why this pairing has become an OTP.  So much of it is based on the way that Kyle Chandler and Constance Marie play the roles, infusing each of their scenes together with enough electricity to power all of Chicago.  As always, this is a hard to describe quality, but I think that the review of their six episodes (above) goes a long way to showing the interplay between their outward selves and inner attractions.  In addition, I’d point to the nonverbal cues they give, i.e. their physicality.  Throughout the show, we’ve been shown a Gary Hobson who, while occasionally making social gaffes, is a product of a Midwestern upbringing, those “downhome” mores working themselves into his adult life.  Since we’ve met Bernie and Lois Hobson on the show and can see what a sweetheart his mother is, it doesn’t seem to far of a leap that Gary was taught to treat women a certain way.  Gary tends to be polite with everyone, his cantankerous nature getting the best of him only when he’s pushed too far.  But from the very beginning of his relationship with Toni, his manners fly out the window.  And she gives him ample fodder.  They both get into each other’s personal space, a sort of physical-one-up-man-ship that belies inner desires.  Any time they touch onscreen is infused with so much more than necessity.  Again, it’s not an element easily described, but just fire up these episodes and you won’t be able to miss it.

Other Ship Elements:   

Throughout the six episodes, there exist many other textual clues to their increasing connection.  Though Brigatti’s allergies to The Cat can be interpreted at first as an anti-ship element by the writers- Brigatti first appears during the Erica/Gary era- it quickly develops into yet another element of their UST.  Also, Gary’s continually put-upon air that he adopts whenever he interacts with Brigatti serves as a huge clue to the attraction they are continually resisting.  Brigatti’s answering sharpness plays perfectly into this element of their relationship.

Turning points: 

As serrico so rightly points out, Gary/Toni works on a sort of continuum, with both characters moving toward the same eventual goal, yet changing their perceptions of the other at different moments.  To put it simply, each has a “turning point” when they begin to realize that their feelings for each other run much deeper than initially perceived.  For Gary, that change happens during “The Iceman Cometh,” when he eschews The Paper in order to save Toni’s life.  For Brigatti, the moment of change is a bit further down the line;  during “Fatal Edition,” she has to make the decision to trust her heart and intuition over her head and ingrained cop instincts.  Letting Gary walk out the door of her apartment signals the deepening of her affections.  While we never really get a sense of total resolution in their relationship, the plan to go on a date at the end of “Occasionally Amber” signals the fact that finally Gary and Toni are parallel to each other in their desires. 

Bottom line, the constant banter between Gary and Brigatti makes them entertaining, the sexual tension makes them hot, and their capacity to connect on a deeper level makes them irresistible.  If only EE had lasted beyond its 4th season, maybe we may have been given a complete resolution to this fantastic pairing!


How I got into the pairing and why you should too!: 

I have to say that this is one of the few shows that made me a fan of a particular ship without fannish help.  From the moment I started watching EE and saw their characters interact, I was hooked. Constance Marie does a brilliant job with the character of Brigatti, infusing her with just the right amounts of sass and uncertainty.

And, seriously, you’d have to be dead not to have your heart race a bit at the sight of Kyle Chandler/the antics of Gary Hobson.  (w00t!  Check KC out in the new “King Kong” movie- he’s playing a 1930’s B movie actor.  *swoons*)  Ok, hormones aside, Gary Hobson is one of the most interesting characters who’s appeared on the small screen in the past decade.  Many of you may be shaking your heads right now, saying, “clannadlvr!  Please!  This is a situation drama on CBS, what are you thinking?”  But see, that’s the brilliance of the way that Chandler plays the role.  Gary is a mess of conflicting desires.  A small town boy who wants to lead a normal life, but is thrust into the role of a hero.  A divorcee who just wants to have a marriage and family.  A guy who is easily exasperated by others, but does a job that necessitates absolute patience. 

If you need more proof, I suggest you check out the episode “Fate,” widely hailed as the best in the series, in which Gary is unable to stop the death of a homeless man and almost loses his will to go on with his life/The Paper.  In a heartbreaking sequence of events, Gary sees his own obituary in The Paper and is forced to confront his inner issues.  If you haven’t yet, you MUST see this episode.  It’s a perfect illustration of Gary’s inner self and motivations.  Your love for his character will only increase by watching this episode…and will cement the reason for him deserving a strong, worthy woman in his life.  *cough*Brigatti*cough*


In sum, I’d suggest this ship to anyone who loves strong characters, especially strong female characters, snark, and undeniable sexual tension!


Fandom Guide:

While the fandom wasn’t the thing that got me into G/B, it definitely perpetuated my fascination with their characters.  Sadly, the EE fandom has not been as active in the past few years- the show ended in 2000 and, though it was rerun on PAX for a while, is no longer on the air here in the States.  However, a devoted community exists, as does a great deal of fic surrounding the series.

First off, the Yahoo group devoted to the show can be found here.  This group revolves around episode discussion and fan activity.  Livejournal also has a community for the show and it's fans, early_edition.

As far as fic, the main site is Tales From the Tavern.  You can find information on the related fanfic list serve on this location as well.  The GTA archive has additional stories by some of the fandom’s most talented authors. 

Stories that I just have to rec for the pairing are as follows:

Absolutely anything by Jayne Leitch- You can find all of her work at Tales From the Tavern and the link to her site, which I've given you, but I have to especially rec “Crimes Against Criminals” and “The Reason.”  The first is an awesome story that pits Gary and Brigatti against the mob, with UST and interaction to beat the band.  “The Reason” happens in the future, with a pre-established Gary-Brigatti relationship and will make you shiver.  Be sure to check out her work in multiple fandoms!

Scheherzade’s fabulous series, which begins with “False Starts,” is excellent as well, though I’ll warn you that the series has been left incomplete.  Still, it’s worth a read as many of the stories can be read individually.  Great G/B. 

For “teh smut,” check out "Thrust and Parry" by Cat and Mouse. It’s a “what if” set during the episode “The Iceman Cometh,” where Gary and Toni take sexual tension and turn it into action.

In addition to Gary/Toni stories, there are other general series stories that are must reads and which really serve to give you deeper interpretations of the series’ main characters.  Here’s a short list of some of the best and brightest: 

"Dragon’s Met" by Peregrin Anna- This amazing novel length EE story takes Gary into the past, with Marissa and Chuck working in the future to secure his safe return.  An absolutely amazing journey that will suck you in and refuse to let you go.

"Scrambled Eggs and Burnt Potatoes" by Peregrin Anna- Yup, another PA story.  It's pitch perfect Marissa/Gary friendship and takes place right after the events of the episode "Run, Gary, Run."

"The Providence of Sparrows" by Peregrin Anna-  Hmmm...noticing a trend here?  This is yet another of her excellent stories, specially rec'd by serrico!

"Racing the Sky" by Peregrin Anna-  Why is this in bold, you ask?  Because, this is the story.  The one that I come back to every time to find that it just gets better and better.  Tears, laughter, you'll do it all.  PA takes us inside Marissa's experience of what happens when someone is given the gift of experiencing their dreams in waking life. Hands down, this is my favorite story of ANY fandom.

Bottom line, check out everything by Peregrin Anna at both the GTA and "Tales from the Tavern" sites.

"The Suitcase" by Rakefet- Another serrico rec that I have to second.  A fascinating look behind Marcia's motivations for kicking Gary out of her life. 

"Wergild" by inkling- Angst alert!!!  Loss, depression, drinking...and hope. 

That's just a sampling of some of the G/B and EE general stories out there.  Scope out the archives to read some of the other stories offered.  (A quick note about Early Edition fanfiction...many stories feature Original Characters, usually in the form of a Gary love interest.  While many are Mary Sues, don't let that discourage you from reading some of the stories- a number avoid the Mary Sue trap and feature well crafted original characters.)

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down fandom memory lane!  To those of you who are devotees of the pairing, I hope that this gets you back into the Gary/Brigatti spirit.  And for those of you who are new, welcome!

To sum up, let's have some of the immortal words of Chuck Fishman...

"We enter this world alone. We leave it pretty much the same way. And in
between, a dance we call life. Problem is it takes two to Tango. So we look
for signs; something to help us to find our perfect partners. A smile, a
wave. But we have to be careful; because while some signs can be
misinterpreted, others can be missed completely. And if you think it's any
easier for a guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper today, think again.

Some dances you sit out. Others you change partners. The important thing is
you never stop dancing."

(from the episode "Phantom of the Opera"- thanks to the monologue archive)

Tags: early edition

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