Friday, March 28, 2014

The Grimm Reaper has been busy on Television (Spoilers Included)

Over the past two weeks major characters on three television series were killed off, Will Gardner
played by Josh Charles, Dan Bucatinsky who plays James Novak, and while I do not watch The Walking Dead anymore (too slow moving), I heard there were a couple deaths on those shows too. What's with all the murder?

Television shows are finally learning the way heightened situations, like killing off a main character can both enrage fans, but create an opportunity to bring fans together, gather viral word of mouth, and just enhance and enrich the direction of a television story.  Will Gardner is a great example of every single one of those elements.  Josh Charles contract was set to expire at the end of last season, but Michelle and Robert King, the creative minds behind the show, convinced him to stay, providing him with the opportunity to act, and direct two episodes of the show.  When Charles had extended his contract for this year, I figured they would send Will off, he would make a disgraced decision, and be forced out of his firm, I never thought Will's ultimate ending was death. While fans of Will and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) were left reeling, the King's always have an endgame in mind, and the endgame for them has been solely about Alicia, what a novel idea to have an endgame about a woman.  Yet the death of Will Gardner took literally everyone by surprise.

3 weeks ago Shonda Rhimes left everyone wondering who was Jake Ballard (Scott Folley) going to shoot?  Many people had theories, and there was no easy guess, but James has missed out on the bullet a couple of times; he final could no longer escape his own journalistic curiosity.  Bucatinsky won an Emmy for his role in Scandal, but as Guest Actor in Drama Series.  Dan has never been listed as regular cast member; he was always listed as a guest.  While the Shondaverse has never been afraid to kill off main characters (George O'Malley, Lexie Grey, Chris Lowell) James' death was an inevitable and heart wrenching conclusion.

Even in the last couple of months there have been some other shocking deaths: Zoe Barnes from House of Cards, Brian Griffin from Family Guy (he is alive again), Nicholas Brody from Homeland, Joss Carter from Person of Interest, Tara Kowles Teller from Sons of Anarchy.  That's seven major deaths in the last four or five months, we have not even hit May sweeps, and the season of Game of Thrones, and Mad Men have not aired.  I have never seen a bloodier year, it may have started with the bloodiest wedding.

Game of Thrones was not the beginning of of the "can you believe they killed..." but it certainly upped the ante unlike any other show.  If you the books from George R.R. Martin you knew what was coming, but when I sat down to watch season one, and connected with the Starks, there was no way I thought they would kill Ned Stark (Sean Bean); he was the biggest star on the show (at the time), and essentially the lead character.  Well they did!  Two seasons later his wife and their son joined him in "Holy Crap" death book.  Again if you read the books you knew, but Game of Thrones has made a realistic journey seem so powerful, showing the reality of the situation.

Death is a powerful emotional force, it even made Dexter emotional when Rita was shockingly killed, this was possibly the beginning of the modern, killing off a main character can give fans a big surprise and add to the story.  Be careful what you wish for, this was the tipping point for Dexter.  The show was never the same, many fans will say the show should have ended after this season.  I say they should re-tooled season 5 and made it the last.

Death on television can be an emotional thing for fans, you get attached to a character, and sometime with no warning, boom gone.  Beyond Dexter most shows have handled post-death story writing fantastically, there are ways to enrich characters, to tell different stories, to change things up.  I think death is a part of television dramas more today, to both keep the realistic factor, while signaling a sign of a more intense reality.  The King's from The Good Wife said they wanted to highlight a quick death, where there were no goodbyes, because sometimes people are taken from us without warning.  In this time of gun violence, and other dark realities television dramas are reflecting societal norms.  I admire the work of these shows stepping up and telling these stories.  Television has stepped up their game, on many levels, and I can't help, but feel that the Grimm Reaper is not done with some television characters from this TV season.

No comments: