We Love TV! Why does It Insist on Hurting Us?
Ben, my intern was visibly upset about Lost coming to an end. It’s kind of funny, actually. “This is not good! This … is not good! I know they’re gonna let me down. I’ve invested a whole lot of time in this thing and now nobody’s gonna tell me why Walt can kill birds with his mind or give ghost-like advice to people on the island without being dead!” I literally had to have him sit down. “Plus, girls get all ‘Friday night’ after seeing Sawyer sweat for an hour. Now I have to wait for the Olympics to get that kind of predictability!”
Ben was inconsolable, but probably right. He will be disappointed, so will J.J. Abrams. Television never gives us all the answers that we want; how can it? It’s too ongoing and has too many interests involved to be totally consistent.
It was obvious that I wasn’t going to get any free labor out of Ben, unless I fed his mania. So I did what I always do when faced with a dilemma – go drink beers. I took Ben too. And as it turns out Ben’s not the only one with TV issues. There are people out there, drinking beers at 2:30 on a Monday afternoon, who have been harboring television related questions for years. For instance, our bartender (who, herself, was drunk and a dead ringer for Francine Smith, the wife from the cartoon, American Dad) wanted to know why people on TV obey anybody who shouts letters at them, “Get down, CTU!” or “NCIS! We’re coming in!” She then bought us a shot of something that tasted like applesauce.
Over the next several hours we’re are inundated with questions from barflies regarding plot lines, character appearances/disappearance, and loose ends of all sorts. Some of them thought we worked for a network … so that was fun.
“What happened to ALF? Did he ever get back to Melmac?”
“Where did Chuck Cunningham go? One day he’s playing basketball in the driveway, the next Richie and Joanie are on their own, but Fonzie’s living above the garage.”
“Are Zack and Kelly still married? That couldn’t have worked out well; they were only in college. Do you think they graduated?”
But my favorite, by far, was a guy my age, with lopsided sideburns, wearing a Red Sox jersey. It was pretty noisy, but he silenced the entire bar with, “If I have a problem … if no one else can help … if I can find them … can I still hire the A-Team?”
I didn’t offer any resolutions. I just listened; and made Ben write everything down for future reference. But in that drunken din of opinion and paper thin Hollywood conceits, Ben felt his concerns were being heard – like he was in a support group, only with booze instead of coffee. I left him there among his people, still debating with a bowl of pretzels if Sandra, Cliff and Clair’s eldest daughter, was mentioned in the first season of the Cosby Show or if they just wrote her later.
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MONDAY – Movies. Their glory and their hilarious tragedy.
TUESDAY – Television. Our favorite drug; constant and comforting, but often packaged with regret.
WEDNESDAY – Wildcards! Probably a piece of weird fiction in which Spider-Man has to talk down Laura Ingles from making a bad decision.
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