"What's with all the carnage lately?" a viewer e-mailed me recently. He has a point. The body count on TV this season has been unusually high.
For some, these tragic twists seem like cheap stunts, a real turn-off. For me, they're a reason to tune in. Not because I'm blood thirsty. But on shows where the stakes are high — shows like 24, Lost, The Shield, The Sopranos, even a fantasy like Smallville — I expect to be taken out of my comfort zone into a world where bad things can happen at any time to characters we care about.
Facing mortality is essential to any morality play. When Shannon was fatally shot by Ana Lucia on Lost, it cast a pall of suspicion and grief over the merging of the survivors. When Smallville's Clark Kent lost his beloved father figure Jonathan to a heart attack, it was a necessary rite of passage for this superhero-in-the-making.
Nowhere has the death rate been higher than on 24
Question: Is ABC just not airing the Charlton Heston version of The Ten Commandments this year? I'll give the new version a run, but this is kind of something I look forward to every year. I do understand there is a DVD, by the way.
Answer: Consider this a public service: To steal from my upcoming review, the best thing I can say about the deadly dull and completely unnecessary new remake of The Ten Commandments is that ABC hasn't given up on running the 1956 classic version. My advice: Skip the new miniseries when it airs April 10 and 11, and wait until Saturday, April 15, when the Charlton Heston version airs. And yes, a 50th-anniversary edition DVD of Cecil B. DeMille's Oscar-winning spectacular has just been issued, packaged with DeMille's earlier (and by some accounts superior) 1923 silent version ...
Question: I think you missed the boat on 7th Heaven when you called it "comfort food." Sure, there's the obligatory "feel good" message in a lot of episodes, but this show has as much soapy melodrama and misguided teen/young adult sexuality as any other Aaron Spelling production — it's just alluded to more than portrayed. Maybe it's only been since you stopped watching, but Simon went on a sexual frenzy; Martin got a girl pregnant; Mary abandoned her family; and Ruthie is throwing around words like "sexy" and "hot." I've been watching the show for about three years now, and I've always seen it as a devious vehicle for Spelling to portray the same youthful recklessness as his other shows while hiding it behind the goody-goody facade of a minister's family, with some excessively cheesy messages thrown in now and then to make it seem like family-friendly entertainment. But the subject matter is often not at all appropriate for the entire family.
Answer: Kind of like how Cecil B. deMille