Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Be Smarter, TV!: Part One

TV shows should be better than they are.

Yes I know that’s a stupid statement to make, but just go with me here.

I first noticed this problem during a recent episode of “Burn Notice” where the lead character, ex-spy Michael Westen, is confronted by another burned spook. As Michael realizes what a desperate and amoral maniac the guy’s become, we get a “There but for the grace of god” kind of story, the end.

Except what that episode really did was point out the “A-Team” problem the show has.

The “A-Team” problem: Here’s a bunch of highly trained special forces guys with nothing to lose, hiring themselves out as mercenaries to people in need. And they have guns and explosives and everything. But when the time comes to run the bad guys out of town, what do they do?

The shoot their M-16s at the bad guys’ feet. Or flip the bad guys’ car over, making sure they can crawl out shaken and deterred, but not exactly damaged.

If the show made any logical sense, the A-Team would’ve killed at least a couple of guys here and there to show they meant business, right?

Same problem with the Michael Westen character. It’s well implied he’s been doing black-ops stuff around the world for years, and yet when confronted with a local drug runner or what have you, he always opts for elaborate cover identities and scams to run the bad guys out of town. Which is weird, because he must know that, more often than not, a little bit of creative violence would do the same job for half the time and money.

I’m not saying the guy maims or tortures every half-tard criminal he’s hired to scare off – because that show wouldn’t be terribly enjoyable – but he doesn’t even seem to realize it’s an option.

It’s moments like this I really wish the show weren’t on USA. Fox, FX, even TNT, there’d be a possibility of real emotional concern: Michael realizing those horrible tools are at his disposal and fighting to keep from using them, because he's trying something new.
But USA’s got "Monk" and "Psych." Characters Welcome, and all that. It won’t ever be anything but light, escapist fare.

But the lead character’s a talented ex-espionage agent. So I’m saying there should be a few more dark nights of the soul for him, where he realizes he’s not utilizing his simplest, most dangerous skills.

It would make “Burn Notice” a better show.

(Tomorrow, the reason for a two-parter: The "Heroes" Season 3 premiere.)

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