Thursday, March 16, 2006

Kill 'em all and let God sort it out

I was interviewing Shawn Ryan yesterday for a story to run on Tuesday to coincide with "The Shield" season finale and episode three of "The Unit" (which looks, like "NCIS," to be one of the few "Idol"-proof shows on TV), when we had the following exchange:

Me: "I would have to say that what Vic did last night was the most heinous thing he's done since he shot Reed Diamond in the pilot."
Shawn: "Which thing are you referring to? I can think of at least four off the top of my head."
Me: "Leaving Kearn to die in the warehouse."
Shawn: "Oh, I thought you were going to say sleeping with the mentally unstable wife of the guy who's trying to put him away."
Me: "Well, that too."
It was a good interview -- Ryan went on a long, funny rant about how the fans have Stockholm Syndrome with Vic, and that no matter what the writers make Vic do, the fans adore him -- and it's been a great season, possibly the show's best ever. Ryan said he told his writers at the start of the year, "Let's not save anything (for later seasons)," and I think that go-for-broke mentality is the reason why it, and "Galactica" and "Sopranos" are all in such great form this year.

The problem with series television is that too many sacrifices have to be made to preserve the franchise, which makes shows duller than they could be. (That's why I've always loved the British model; do as many or as few episodes as you feel the story deserves, then move on.) The "Sopranos" and "Shield" writers know the finish line is in sight, so they don't have to worry about scorching the earth. And Ron Moore was so frustrated by the reset button mentality on the "Star Trek" spin-offs that it looks like he'll be scorching the earth at the end of every season; it wouldn't stun me if season four takes place underwater, or in Victorian England, or somebody's fridge.

I'm supposed to get the "Shield" finale in advance, so I'll have a nice long blog post ready to go up late Tuesday night or first thing Wednesday morning.

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