Friday, October 2, 2009

Unfluffy Superheros

When I began this blog, I never imagined I would spend so much time writing about certain TV shows. Granted this is only my sixth entry, but I think Criminal Intent shows up in maybe half of them so far. If you've actually bothered to read any of this blog, you are probably thinking right about now, "This girl needs a life!"

I am proud to say that unlike some blogs out there, mine is not completely dedicated to fictional characters or the real life actors who play them. However, escapism is a powerful thing for some people, and if I'm itching to escape for a little while, I like to do so with characters that make me think. I've mentioned before that I'm a huge fan of Law and Order Criminal Intent, but I didn't start out that way. Initially I hated the show--the setup, the actors, the scripts, everything left me cold. Then sometime a couple years ago I was cleaning the bedroom and flipped it on...and started following the show.

The character of Bobby Goren is one that most people either love or can't stand. He comes across as arrogant and manipulative. He's goofy and awkward and knows everything about everything. And to most women, he's not even good looking. That's what I hear from my friends who can't stand him. I remember, in the recesses of my mind, feeling that way at one time too, until I got to see the character develop. Until I got to understand the back story. Until I saw the loyalty between the partners. Until the scripts captivated my attention and it all wove together and it clicked with something inside me. This is a character who is extremely flawed. He's a superhero who's not super or a hero--he's an ordinary guy with his own quirks, his own strengths and weaknesses. Just like me. And that's why I love him so...because I understand his point of view. It's not the strengths of the character that draw me in; it's the human nature of his weaknesses and his fears that make him identifiable, and that he is able to proceed despite those weaknesses and make the world better. (Thank you, quality writers!)

Most of the internet world at this point--and certainly Criminal Intent fans--have heard by now that USA plans to dump Bobby, Alex, and Captain Ross somewhere other than the major case squad in the spring. It all boils down to money and obviously it's a lot cheaper to pay the new guy a lower salary than the guy (or in this case, a guy and a girl) who's worked for you for eight years. I get basic economics. But what I don't get is the statement USA network has made regarding their desire to have "lighter fare" on their network. Apparently the depth of character that makes Goren (as well as his partner Eames) so appealing is too dark for most viewers, at least according to USA.

Some fans, in vehement protest of the above attitude and in support of the show, have sent postcards and emails begging the network to reconsider. My favorite idea came from one blogger who intends to inundate the network with jars of marshmallow fluff at the beginning of filming this month, in protest of "fluffing" the show. I'm curious as to exactly how many jars of fluff they'll receive, and what they will do with them. Will they donate them to a food pantry? Or go home and eat a lot of s'mores and nutterfluffer sandwiches?

I'm disturbed by the fact that I'm now in an age bracket that doesn't influence network decisions. But I'm also disturbed by the apparent idea that so many Americans can't handle anything but "feel good" tv, or simple scripts, or no script at all. That what we watch and what we want to watch needs to be written in a way that the depth of the character doesn't matter. That life as you or I experience it doesn't happen on television--it only happens to us.

Knowing that a character has a drug addict for a brother, a hospitalized schizophrenic for a mother, and no father to speak of; knowing that for some unannounced reason he's unable to sustain intimate relationships (hmm); knowing he puts 100% of himself in his job so that he can be successful at something in life; to me, that's a superhero. I know people like him, who against all odds, succeed in this world. It's every hope and prayer for my son, isn't it? Despite the realities of a life that could have produced a complete loser, this guy Goren chooses to get up every morning and do his job and make the world a better place. He's got strong morals and is a decent person. No, he's not action-packed, fast moving, lean, mean, hot, and twenty-something. He's not snagging the babe at the end of every show. But I get him. I get Goren's character and motivation and pain and struggle and depth.

And shame on USA for letting him go.

1 comment:

  1. Obviously the PTB at USA have never seen Sons of Anarchy nor it's through the roof ratings. Switch to FX Tuesdays at 9:00. I think you might like it and even if you don't, the characters on that screen are the people I grew up with (minus the illegal stuff). Watch it once if only to meet the "Brothers from Another Mother". :)