Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I
ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...
OK, I'm going to do something different with this feature for once. Because - while my life doesn't revolve around my favourite TV series - I hate it with a passion when a screenwriter comes along and basically throws in a total game changer. One of those WTF ideas that have the power to retroactively ruin all the investment I had in a show. Not to mention, to sever all my ties with it from that point on.
There has been a bit of a commotion lately for The Walking Dead season finale. And, in the comic sphere, even more commotion for the grand reveal about Captain America being *gasp* a secret Nazi. With the serialization and the reuse of popular characters growing more and more intense, writers are always trying to come up with shocking contents in order to give stories a new spin...and a longer life. Which, frankly, more often than not brings them to absolutely bad decisions. Some TV series are becoming soap operas in disguise. And I am enraged, or disgusted at least. Are you?
The latest example of what I call the "soap opera complex" is the ending of the freshly-wrapped-up 13th season of NCIS. Now, mind you, it's not that I am a die-hard fan of the show - that is, someone who has gone out of her way to watch every single episode. Also, while I can be found obsessing over police procedural dramas at all hours - Law & Order, what have you done to me - I often find myself losing track of the crime and its ins-and-outs while watching NCIS. I suppose it's because it has a lot to do with military secrets and government agencies and spies and foreign policy, all of which kind of bores me
to death. But what I used to like about NCIS was the cast of characters and their dynamics. And while some of them - e.g., Abby (Pauley Perrette), who I do like a lot, but could use a little character makeover after 13 years...and Jimmy (Brian Dietzen), who seems to be there for comic respite more often than not - have stayed the same for the whole show, others - like Tony (Michael Weatherly) - have been given the space and means to grow. Especially his whole (platonic) relationship with Ziva (Cote de Pablo), and even his friendship with Tim (Sean Murray) up to a point, have shaped Tony into a more mature and introspective person than he used to be at the beginning (and you know, even at that stage, there was something in him...or in Michael Weatherly...that elevated him above your average womanizer/jock). So far so good, then. But as soon as Weatherly decided to leave the show at the end of Season 13, the writers apparently went ballistic.
Now, with Ziva gone, NCIS had already lost a lot of its appeal to me. Poor Ellie (Emily Wickersham) never managed to get me interested - tough shoes to fill, yes, but not just that. Also, the soap opera complex had already reared its ugly head when the writers had decided to put Ellie's marriage under a ridiculous strain (really, you can't talk about your respective jobs anymore, and have different work schedules, so the male partner has to go and hop into a different bed?) and ultimately have her divorce Jake (Jamie Bamber). Maybe because they couldn't come up with a better storyline...or because you can't keep the same partner all the time when you are a character in a long serialization. It gets boring to watch, right? (*insert heavy sarcasm here*). But I digress. What I mean is, the show was already, slowly, going downhill. When a particularly brilliant writer came up with this spectacular idea for Tony's farewell:
- It had to revolve around Ziva. Of course.
- Except actress Cote de Pablo had already made it clear she wasn't coming back
for some off-the-wall closure.
- So now Ziva was guarding some important files (AT HER HOUSE) and someone who wants them goes and burns the place down, along with Ziva...or maybe not, because her remains are not found...OF COURSE. Except there is a 3 year old survivor, whom later the Mossad director in charge will drop in Tony's lap...Tali, the daughter Ziva had conceived with him AND NEVER TOLD HIM ABOUT. Because she was a free woman who couldn't be tied to a man by a kid, or something.
- So now Tony - who could have left "our" NCIS squad to become Supervisory Special Agent of his own team, a chance he's been offered more than once during the series - resigns to take care of his 3 year old offspring. Who DOES know that he is her father, because apparently Ziva - bless her - has at least shown her a pic. How considerate.
This is not, by any means, the only show I used to enjoy till some "creative" screenwriter came out with a spectacular idea. I have this rant coming about CSI (the original one) one day or the other. But the reason why I stopped watching CSI was entirely different from the one that is forcing me to abandon NCIS (just for your info, the second half of Season 13 hasn't aired in Italy already - it will in Autumn/Winter 2016/17. I only accidentally spoiled myself about it, but it was good...I spared myself a lot of grief. Of the watching kind, I mean). In this case, the writers have:
- killed a character offscreen;
- made up an equally offscreen past about her and another character (NOW they tell us that Ziva and Tony had sex before she left. Not only that farewell kiss at the airport, that should have broken once and for all 8 years of sexual tension until it didn't, because Ziva was leaving for good);
- made a desplicable person out the deceased character, because THEY thought she would think that leaving her ex partner in the dark about having a daughter was a reasonable idea.
So, dear screenwriters - and TV producers/showrunners - if I may have a word or two with you now...
- ...you have to respect those actors who decide, for whatever reason, to drop a role they've played for years. You are not entitled to bury their vacant, or worse, supposedly dead character under a ton of crap.
- ...you have to respect all characters and make them consistent. You are not entitled to have them say or do random things for the sake of a shocking ending, or out of the perverse decision to stretch the plot for further 5000 episodes.
- ...and, last but not least, you have to respect US. The viewers. The fans. The ones who keep your precious toy in motion. Of course, there's always a bunch of us who keep watching, even with their heart broken. Even when nothing makes sense anymore. Even when you have stripped us of every reason for watching. Because more often than not, letting go of a series is hard. But like for more serious - and real - relationships, sometimes it just has to be done. Sometimes it is. Because you are not entitled to cash on what doesn't give us joy anymore.
a TV series aficionado with a still functioning brain.
[For the gifs thanks to Giphy!]