> TV Tirade
I was an avid fan of The Good Wife, a courtroom lawyer drama that had superb plotting and wonderful characters. They finally ended the show with an episode that rivaled The Sopranos going-nowhere finish. Alicia’s (Juliana Margulies) husband (Chris Noth) avoids a conviction for tampering with a trial, resigns as governor and must endure a year’s probation. His career is done. She had been delaying a divorce to stand by his side during the trial. Her new-found love is her investigator, Jason Crouse, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a middle-age charismatic actor I’ve not seen before, but trust me, he’s hot. She thinks she sees him as the trial ends, and runs to find him in the hall but he’s gone. As in gone.
Then Diane, her law partner, feeling betrayed because Alicia cast doubt on her husband’s testimony and that hurt him professionally (he is a ballistics expert) finds her in the hallway and slaps her. One is left feeling that this partnership won’t survive, that Jason is leaving to give her space he thinks she needs (she doesn’t), and she is left with an impending divorce, her lover gone, and will probably have to re-invent her career because her partnership can’t be repaired. Credits rolled. Say what?
The writers posted their explanation that they thought these events showed how independent and strong she had become (we already knew that, assholes) and I wrote on their timeline that I thought their ending sucked, that they were playing at being Kafka, and that not resolving issues in a way to reward Alicia for her loyalty and integrity was a trendy copout, i.e., let’s not do a happy ending, it’s so fey.
The other series I loved for a long time was NCIS. I stopped watching when Cote De Pablo, the Ziva David character, left the show. They never said why. They should have sold their souls to get her to stay. Her character was an ex Israeli Mossad agent, a trained assassin, vulnerable and sweet – yes, a fantasy but wonderful. Now another long time and necessary (to my mind) cast member, Michael Weatherly, who played agent Tony DiNozzo, is leaving the show to do other stuff. Tony and Ziva had a serious flirtation that could have led to something, but Ziva, depressed over the assassination of her father, the head of Mossad (played by Michael Nouri) leaves to reexamine her life. She and Tony had a tearful farewell in the Israeli airport and the series went on with a sweet young blonde girl-next-door replacement for the David (pronounced thaveed) character. Nothing wrong with her, but no edge.
So with Michael Weatherly leaving the cast, I had hoped they would write him out by having his character travel to Israel to find Ziva. And indeed the episode begins with him about to do that, when news come that Ziva has been killed when her home was bombed by a rogue spy. They vow to find the assassin and they do. And then, as a sop to her loyal fans, they invent a child, a daughter Tony knows nothing about. He leaves NCIS to raise her.
Death seems to be the preferred solution for a character leaving any show. Maybe it is the producer's way to punish an actor they want to keep, for daring to leave, so no possibility of reviving the character. I went on their timeline and gave them my opinion which is that they are brain dead.
And, while I am on the subject, the old series NYPD Blue spent an entire season killing off one of my favorite characters, Bobby Simone, played by Jimmy Smits. He had a toothache, it wouldn’t go away, it escalated, he was hospitalized, nothing worked,infections reigned, he got weaker. Episode piled on episode with the character getting deader by the minute. The whole season was about his deterioration. Finally, poof, dead. Really? They want dead? Introduce me to those writers. Then as his replacement they brought in a young actor who had no gravitas, and looked like he was still in high school. What were they thinking? For myself, I know I wanted a foxy 30-something guy with attitude as a replacement for the Simone character. Someone to trigger adult fantasies, not bring ding-dong school to mind.
As a contrast, the ending of The Newsroom resolved all the hanging chads with positive resolutions for the relationships that were iffy all during the series. The right people got together. Whew. What a relief.
Heads up writers: TV fans watch as an escape from the sadness of real life. Dark writing is not necessarily meaningful. Stop, dear writers, self-aggrandizing your contributions by trying to rival Tolstoy. And death of a favorite character is definitely not an answer. Write for your audience. Fans want their favorite characters to thrive, not to be left hanging in a dark limbo.
posted on May 20, 2016 12:02 PM ()
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