State of Grace (2001–2002)
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Great Wall of Rayburn 

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Tattie McKee
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Comedy | Drama

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5 August 2002 (USA)  »

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The "Spinning Plates Guy" episode.
20 November 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

"The Great Wall of Rayburn" is better known as the "Spinning Plates Guy" episode. Each episode of the show had a central theme, with 2-3 seemingly unrelated stores illustrating that central idea. At the end the narrator (a grown-up Hannah) would do a voice-over commentary tying the stories together under that episode's theme.

In this case the theme is risk taking and the differing affinity for taking risks within the population. The "Spinning Plates Guy" was a regular guest on a television variety show (Ed Sullivan?) who spun a number of plates on sticks at the same time. Eventually something would happen and the plates would fall and break. Grace is much like the spinning plates guy and continues to cruise around on her new skateboard despite numerous accidents (with the immortal line "can I have a beer for the pain"). Hannah is more timid and agonizes the whole episode before finally mailing a letter she has written to Grace's older brother.

Meanwhile Evie's rich older brother is visiting the Rayburns, aggravating an ongoing dispute Evie is having with David about expanding the factory. Evie is terrified of risk and David is indifferent, with "The Great Wall of Rayburn" a reference to their lack of understanding of each other's risk tolerance.

Once again Hanna ties everything together at the end with the voice-over: It wasn't until many years later that I realized that my father was like the spinning plates guy, a risk taker- unafraid of life's challenges. And while my mother would never be as bold as my father, she learned something from him. Even if the worst happens and all the plates break, you just go out and buy new ones. After all, they're just plates.


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