'Person of Interest' Shocks Making This Baby Boomer Long for the Days of 'Laramie'


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Perhaps I am too old for much of today's so-called high drama, but I find myself missing the more secure days of yesterday's television when series regulars were protected and safe from unexpected death. No matter how severe or crazy the situation, you always knew that the heroes would be back the next week.

Take an episode of my all-time favorite show, 'Laramie.' In this hour of drama, star Robert Fuller as Jess Harper underwent more violence in terms of beatings and such than anyone could possibly survive in such a short period of time; yet, Jess always got up, walked forward, and, of course, ultimately dethroned the villain, living to return for another adventure the following week. It had me chuckling a bit, to be honest, because he really was abused in the episode and barely had a scratch on him.

It really wasn't until the powers that be behind 'M*A*S*H' opted to kill off Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) when the actor chose to leave the ensemble cast for his own series that things began to change. Cast deaths began to multiply, but not just when dictated (like the untimely passings of thespians John Ritter and more recently Cory Monteith), but just for the heck of it, better known as dramatic license.

I was enraged when '24' killed off Jack Bauer's wife, played by Leslie Hope, in the season finale during its first year. I had invested hours of intense time in this show and that relationship, expecting a satisfying payoff at the end. Instead, they killed her, just to kill her.

When 'Stargate SG-1" was airing on what was then the Sci-Fi Channel (now rebranded as SyFy), the network, not the producers, insisted that a regular character be killed off in order to bring home the message of military loss during a special two-parter called 'Heroes.' Well, there was no way the producers were going to kill off one of the four leads, especially not Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson (they tried that once, only to be met with viewer rebellion that resulted in Shanks' quick return to the series and the ouster of his so-called replacement (Corin Nemec). This left only two possibilities, the major general played by Don S. Davis or the beloved petite doctor portrayed by Teryl Rothery. They chose to kill off the latter in what was a no-win decision, one that was forever lamented by fans. All for what? So the network could say, 'Look at this: to understand what it means to lose a family member, we've killed off your favorite doctor.' Excuse me? I understand loss. I do not need idiots at Sci-Fi/SyFy trying to illustrate it for me and in the process hurting one of my all-time loved programs. It was stupid.

Then last week, while watching 'Person of Interest' in what was also an intense hour of TV, the character of Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) was unexpectedly murdered. What made this especially harsh is that the hour was full of wonderful surprises. There was a bit of a family feel for the first time between all of the cast. I remember thinking how much I liked it. There was also a kiss between Carter and the still mysterious John Reese (Jim Caviezel). It was intriguing. My thoughts had barely gelled when bam, Carter dies in John's arms. Why? The producers wanted to shock their audience. That's what they said in subsequent interviews.

Shock? Yeah, thanks for nothing. I do not need that kind of garbage thinking. It is abusive and disrespective of those who have followed the show and wanted to see what was next for Joss, John, and the others -- all of them, together, alive. We did not need to have that kind of so-called reality slammed in our faces.

Maybe I am just too old. It makes me sad; sometimes it even makes me angry. No matter what, like the proverbial elephant, I never forget. Except for the few episodes that featured Shanks years later in '24,' I never watched another minute of the show, not one. I am currently deciding whether or not I want to invest another second in 'Person of Interest' which I have followed from the start, even though the violence is over the top. They may have lost me. They say the dog member of the cast is the only safe one, but I don't even trust that.

They probably do not care. Who am I? I'm just an aging baby boomer who believes television should be entertaining, that it should be an escape from the grittiness and harshness of marathon bombings, home invasions, and school shootings. I can watch the news for reality, loss, and all the shock one could ever imagine. Bring back the innocence when TV regulars were safe from harm, no matter what. Let's laugh at how many times Jess was beaten and got right back up and how often the anvil fell on the cartoon coyote without ever really harming him. That's the golden age of television. It's my age.