Afraid of the scenes

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9:16 PM

As good as television has become in certain aspects, on certain channels, it is also equally bad in many respects. That’s why when we have a show that we love, we cling to it, sometimes irrationally, for too long. We did it with The X-Files, which, let’s face it was a mere shadow of itself in seasons 8 and 9, sans Mulder and the Mulder/Scully chemistry. We did it with Gilmore Girls after Amy Sherman Palladino left after season 5. We kept hoping for the magic to return. We did it with The West Wing after Aaron Sorkin had a meltdown and left his chaotically brilliant show after season 5. The West Wing, though, actually redeemed itself well by becoming about the next campaign for president after the beloved Jed Bartlet would depart to fly home to New Hampshire. It didn’t hurt that the redemption was capped with Jimmy Smits, a personal favorite since LA Law.

So when we find a good show, we savor it like a fine wine, sipping from its delectable dialogue and allowing it to swirl around in our mouths for a while. We wait anxiously every week for a good show. It becomes close to appointment TV, which is what The West Wing and The X-Files were for years. There could be no distractions during appointment TV. If the phone rang, too bad. We simply basked in the warm, gooey – sometimes literally in the case of The X-Files – wonder of great characters speaking great dialogue in believable plots. OK. Not The X-Files. But that show was never about believability. It was about the truth.

These days, appointment TV has dwindled to three, two of which still blow our hair back weekly; one of which is limping along and we’re still in the “it’s going to be OK” phase, hoping it will pull its plot-addled head out of its butt and get back on track. I watching you Homeland.

One of the two is the über-violent, sadistically vile and incredibly rapturous motorcycle scorcher, Sons of Anarchy. There is often no one who is even remotely likable in the cast. They kill randomly. They treat each other badly. They rage against authority even as they push a gun-running trade and pornography, only one of which is illegal. We can’t take our eyes off of it. Now in its 6th and penultimate season, it has become a show that we await anxiously. Is it September yet?

This season started off with a bit too much of a bang. For a show this exquisitely violent and blood soaked, the first episode was nearly over the top. I found myself wondering if we could even continue to watch it. While violence is what the show is all about, it took it to a place that was so abhorrent I worried they had finally gone too far. Being the loyal fans we are, though, we decided to at least watch the next episodes to give it a fair shot. They have come roaring back. The Shakespeare meme – it very loosely mirrors Hamlet – is on full display and I just know that Tara, as the stand in for Ophelia, is going to die and it’s going to unleash Jax in ways we’ve never before seen. Also, it too has Jimmy Smits.

And this is the guy who shot a woman in the head just last night and then ordered his “brothas” to clean it up while he went outside for a smoke. Because smoking inside is frowned upon.

Our other appointment TV is the simply exquisite The Good Wife. We’ve been watching it since its debut. Always good, this season it has veered into goosebump territory. It’s smart, intelligent, the plots make sense, the acting is amazing, the cast superb. We watched this week’s last night because Sunday nights get weird here, with time and football, and Homeland, so we watch Alicia and company On-Demand on Tuesday night.

At the end of this week’s episode, when the newly married Diane leaves Alicia’s office, stops in the hall, a look of realization washing over her face (dog bless Christine Baranski) and stands staring at Will, who is in his own office, meeting with a potential new colleague, Kevin and I were on the edge of our seats. Will and Diane have been in the process of dissolving their partnership and thus their firm of Lockhart/Gardner but as Will absorbed the look and immediately dismissed his colleague, the connection they have shared and continue to share was electric. He knew she knew something that she needed to tell him, animosity be damned. And she did.

Cut to black.

Cut to Kevin and I: Holy crap, batman.

Julianna Margulies’ voice came on and casually asked us to “stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.” Casually, like it couldn’t be a very big deal.

Kevin: “I can’t watch. I don’t want to see the scenes.” He was like a little kid putting his head under the pillow to escape the monsters in the room, only in this case, the monsters were the amazing talents responsible for this show. We were literally afraid of the scenes, afraid to know what was going to happen. At least until we watch it next Tuesday.

That’s good stuff. That’s the best kind of television there is, one that celebrates the audience’s intelligence even as that audience hides in the closet, quivering with anticipation.

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