April 3, 2014

Holy crap! TV is killing off the all good ones!

Over the last couple of weeks two of my favourite shows, Scandal and The Good Wife, have had surprise twists and killed off major characters… both were surprising and heartbreaking and great drama. And both created really valuable social media buzz for these already buzzy shows.

The Good Wife killed off leading man Will Gardner in a truly shocking moment, as the actor playing him, Josh Charles, wanted out of the series after five seasons. While he was not the 'bad' husband, Gardner was the true love of the 'good' wife and this death will play out for the run of the series.

Scandal killed off James Novak, the White House spokesperson and husband of Chief Of Staff Cyrus Vance, as a plot twist, and therefore said goodbye to actor Dan Bucatinsky, the only actor to so far win an Emmy for Scandal.

Downton Abbey killed off two main characters in season 3, then was relatively peaceful in this year's season 4. Thankfully.

Next weekend I am binge watching House Of Cards season 2, and I know from the internet chatter I am trying to avoid that there is gonna be death there too.

And I don't even watch The Walking Dead, which apparently kills off main characters all the time. Man I could not take that.

High-profile deaths work on dramas -- they add surprise and drama, they give other characters a big story line to be involved  in and react to, and potentially reinvent and reinvigorate the story line with a whole new trajectory. And in an era of PVR and TV on demand and Netflix, surprise buzzy twists encourage us to watch live, to believe again in appointment television.

The risk is of course that once the character is gone and the drama has moved on, if fans were especially attached to that character will the stay with the show? If not, the show fades away, or we get a Bobby Ewing back-from-the-dead "it was all a dream" ridiculous plot twist. Lesson learned there -- mourn the character quickly and move on, don't dwell forever … if the show misses the character too long, the audience will also.

Downtown Abbey stumbled a bit in season 4 post deaths, then found its way. Brothers and Sisters handled the death of Rob Lowe's character so badly and so slowly that many of us -- or at least me -- got bored and gave up on the show. I think The Good Wife and Scandal writers are smart enough to touch our hearts and move on, but we'll see as the season plays out.

To the producers of my other favourite show, The Big Bang Theory, I say HANDS OFF, don't kill anyone, even in a super-sensitive How I Met Your Mother kind of way.

However, if the producers of 2 Broke Girls or Revolution need a jumpstart, please kill of a main character… hell, kill them all off!