InFANity: America's Most Wanted Behind the Scenes
America's Most Wanted, or AMW as it's referred to in the "biz" (a concise and arrogant definition for the entertainment industry), is the cornerstone of the Fox network. Long before American Idol, way prior to 24, and just on par with Homer and Marge, America's Most Wanted quietly began what would become a revolution. Sounds ominous. Well, my unsullied readers, it is! How many TV shows change lives? Not Lost. Not Heroes. Not Grey's Anatomy. Not even Dancing with the Stars. DWTS doesn't change lives, even if it does affect them. (Mario was robbed!) But whatever, I've moved on. America's Most Wanted, a show directly descended from a horrific tragedy, is the genesis of reality TV here in the U.S. It is brutal, earnest and a contradiction of what much of today's reality TV is (for example, The Bachelor, Martha and The Flavor of Love). I'm not saying there isn't room for frivolous rudimentary spectacle, but America's Most Wanted is a show about something. It's of real consequence, about on-the-ground results, and about a man whose life took a 180-degree turn that nearly destroyed him. The thing you don't know about John Walsh, the man who lost his firstborn elementary-school-aged child to murder in 1981, is how diligent he still is, 20 years later. No amount of interviews, no passage of time can temper him. The feeling of life lost is forever fresh to him. His eyes soften and his speech turns repressed each time he recalls it. The people around him initiate an unspoken pause. That alone is agonizing enough, but knowing that laws are being changed because of the work the people on this show do, while I stand around wondering how surround-sound Direct TV TiVo would look in hi-def, makes being on this set even more unsettling. There is a reason the majority of people who have worked for America's Most Wanted for a decade and beyond continue to do it. Think about it: Wouldn't you have a hard time reconciling a job that's all about making a fast buck against the chance of finding justice every time you punch in? The people at AMW - whether you agree with it or not - have made their personal choice, and they are heroes. Each and every day. More than 900 criminal scum have been caught, just when they felt they had cut and run. Families have finality. Closure. Perhaps justice. Never tranquility. But never forsaken. So just when you think the show is so familiar, so old-school, so done, remember your favorite appointment television. Criminal Minds, CSI, Monday Night Football, Brothers & Sisters, whatever it is. How many lives will these shows change past the next episode? Watch InFANity: America's Most Wanted, hosted by Lisa Joyner, on TV Guide Channel: America's TV headquarters.