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Hawaii Five-O Shocking Season Finale,"Death in the Family"

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by , 05-17-2012 at 05:25 AM (18479 Views)

This week has been full of season ending stories on several dramas and many have been powerful in their storytelling.

Hawaii Five-O Season FinaleMonday saw a cliffhanger finale for Hawaii 5-0 which is probably my favorite show at the moment. Still, as much as the final moment had me going, "Wow," I also felt a sadness and regret that TV has gotten to the point where reality seems to be killing off regular characters.

Back in the early days of television and through the 1960s, it was pretty rare to have a regular or recurring character killed off. Usually, they just went away and never came back. My Three Sons lost Tim Considine as the oldest son. His character of Mike simply got married and moved away. He showed up for a couple of guest appearances and then was promptly forgotten for the rest of time. Over on Bonanza, Adam Cartwright moved back east when actor Pernell Roberts left the series. Again, he had a couple of guest appearances and then faded into memories, never to be mentioned again. This is pretty much what happened anytime a performer left a continuing series.

Things changed when at the end of the 74-75 TV season, Colonel Henry Blake on M*A*S*H was killed off when McLean Stevenson left the show. The show's producers received a lot of angry mail from shocked viewers. It was a move that got a rise from America, and it was the beginning of a new trend. Whereas there once was a time when you just knew a regular would never be killed, nowadays, you just can't be so sure.

On Monday's Hawaii 5-0, Chin Ho Kelly is faced with a horrible decision. Both his cousin and his wife have been kidnapped and placed in different locations. He is told where both are, but only one can be saved. The other will die. In the closing moments of the scene, he rushes home to his wife, who appears to be dead as the proverbial doornail. At the same time, cousin Kono, hands bound, is tossed into the ocean. Grace Park plays Kono, and she is a regular. One would expect her to be saved when the new season concludes this cliffhanger, but in this day and age, you can't count on that anymore.

I just wish society wasn't such that even in our escapist release in TV watching, we didn't have to deal with tragedy and death of beloved characters all the time.

The popular series 24 with Kiefer Sutherland lost me in the final episode of season 1. This program was one that took a lot of emotional investment. It was intense and dramatic in ways that other shows were not. I was spellbound for weeks, and was prepared to make this an all time favorite show. Then, as Jack Bauer worked to save his wife, she is suddenly executed in the final seconds of the last show. I was outraged, and I vowed never to watch the show again. Over the many seasons that followed, I reneged only a handful of times. Once was when NASCAR driver Carl Edwards guest starred and the other was when Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1 recurred for a few episodes. Other than that, my anger at the way Leslie Hope's character was killed off on 24 was so tremendous that I just ignored this show.

Even my beloved Stargate SG-1 was guilty of the killing game. They did it a lot. Recurring characters often were around just long enough for us to love them and then poof, dead. The worst, though, came not at the producers' minds, but the Sy Fy Network. The so-called brains there wanted the viewers to feel the pain of loss in a special episode called Heroes. For some reason, they felt the point of the show would be lost unless a regular character was killed. It was lunacy. Unless the producers wanted to kill off a member of SG-1 (and that had already been tried once and was an abysmal failure), there were only two choices -- General Hammond (Don S. Davis) or Doctor Janet Fraiser (Teryl Rothery). They couldn't kill off Hammond, so Janet was killed for no good reason at all. Fans were livid.

Regular character deaths on TV shows are now common place. That saddens me. Why does death have to hit us in the face every day? Does our TV fiction need to be that reality based that characters can't just leave town like they used to? It just seems silly to me.

I don't know what is going to happen with the next season of Hawaii 5-0. Maybe they'll surprise me and save both the dead-looking wife and the cousin, but I doubt it. Oddly, the actual last second of the show wasn't even this grueling moment of drama, but focused on McGarrett getting the shock of his life. I wish I could say I saw it coming; well, I almost did. It was just the wrong parent, and it was what had me going, "Wow."

More season ending thoughts next time!
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  1. Lynn B's Avatar
    It is really sad to see favorite characters leave the shows. I can remember Adam Cartwright's departure from Bonanza back in the day, which was unheard of at that time. I always felt that Pernell Robert's performances added a lot to the show and I missed him. I think I actually mourned Col. Blake's passing when McClean Stevenson left "M.A.S.H." Now days, it seems the death of a charachter is more about contract disputes and ratings.
  2. Orrymain's Avatar
    You're right, Lynn. Contract disputes are a big part of it. A lot of shows in the history of TV used to threaten their stars by season ending shows that showed them in jeopardy. Even JR on Dallas could easily have had JR dead and not recovered had negotiations fallen through. Of course, the problem is that nowadays deaths don't mean much. It is amazing how characters are resurrected. Hey, remember the year that wasn't on Dallas when Bobby was brought back? It was all just a dream. I know that was criticized, but I literally jumped for joy and loved it!
  3. Lynn B's Avatar
    Now that took me back, Orrymain. No one could have played Bobby Ewing like Patrick Duffy did, so I'm glad they never tried to replace. I think it would have been
    disastrous. I always thought the role of Bobby always brought some sanity to the rest of the Ewing clan. Remember how the "Dallas" year that wasn't played into the of the "Newhart" series as a dream of Dr. Hartey "The Bob Newhart Show. That was classic tv at its best. Too many characters have been resurrected from the dead after a star's big screen ambitions didn't work out.
  4. Orrymain's Avatar
    Now what I always remember about the Newhart finale that I loved is that Andy Griffith said it ruined his finale for Matlock. He was going to have Matlock wake up and be Andy Taylor who had had some strange dream about being a lawyer in Atlanta. It would have been perfect!
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