Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Can't Trust Them Anymore

This is for the over 40s group...

Do you remember back in the good old days when you could count on certain things from the television writers? Like, for instance, Bonanza. You could count on the season ending with all the main characters still alive. Even when Pernell Roberts left the cast, his character Adam just moved away. Eventually they quit talking about him, but you knew he was still out there somewhere. When Dan Blocker died one summer while the show was on hiatus, his character died, but quietly off camera. By the time the new season began, you already knew what had happened and the shock had worn off.

The characters would get injured, yes, but they never just suddenly winked out of existence. Their guest stars were the ones who died abruptly, but it's not like you didn't know it was coming. You just knew when one of them got interested in a girl, she was a goner. God forbid that the winning combination of Pa and the brothers should be upset by a girl for longer than a 2-hour episode, for Pete's sake.

In the good old days, you could pretty much count on your favorite characters sticking to the end of the series, Pernell Roberts notwithstanding. (I missed him, but I don't think very many people did. Including the other cast members.)

In the good old days you could also count on getting to the end of the season. Nowadays the shows are judged and axed before you even realize they started. I find that I sometimes don't even try a new series until it is in reruns and I know there will be a series to watch.

Anyway, the point of this whole diatribe is that I am catching up with the last few shows of the NCIS season that I recorded on the DVR. There was ample warning that a major character would die in the last episode and I kinda knew who it would be if I were in charge, but I was wary. Nowadays the shock factor seems to be a big appeal and I was really anticipating that one of my favorite cast members might be disappearing for the sake of end of season ratings.

So, I confess, I poked around the Internet and found a spoiler to tell me who was biting the dust before I watched the final episode. I figured I would rather be forewarned instead of suffering an unwelcome surprise that would piss me off. As it turns out, my guess was correct so I can watch without dread.

I just don't like this new trend to kill off major characters. You get fond of your favorite characters and it hurts to lose them. It seems counterproductive to me to irritate your audience, but maybe the younger generation doesn't mind the lack of continuity.

I'll have to hand it to one show that breaks the mold. Lost regularly kills off its cast members, but then they keep coming back in flash backs or as ghosts, so they never really go away. I can handle that, although I really think they could have found a way to keep Charlie among the living. I miss that boy.

Is it any wonder I keep adding to my collection of vintage TV shows on DVD? I know I can count on them to make me happy. Everybody but the guest stars will be alive when the credits roll. That's the way it should be.


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