Do you remember when television seasons used to start in September and end in May? Careful how you answer that, because it will tell your age. In the good old days every show had 22 or 24 episodes and there were tons of repeats. If you remember that, you then also remember that the what made a successful television show then was that the characters had to be likable. Not just likable, but good people that were likable. I mean even Archie Bunker was a good person, misguided and ignorant, but a good person. He loved his wife and daughter, and thus we liked him. Ah, the good days of television.
Then along came cable. Cable changed it all. All of a sudden series didn’t have to be 22 episodes long. They didn’t need to start in September and end in May and then start the next September. And most importantly the show didn’t have to focus on good guys who we liked. I think the first show that really helped TV go in another direction was The Sopranos. HBO did how ever many episodes David Chase wanted to make, whenever David Chase wanted to make them. His characters weren’t the good people. They were Mafiosos, thieves, drug users, and killers. But the shows were high quality. We may have had to wait longer for fewer episodes but when we got them we got well written episodes that were high quality productions. The characters were horrible people, but they were multi-dimensional characters with depth and emotions. They’re problems weren’t necessarily problems we could relate to, but they seemed real. They were intriguing and weren’t all wrapped up with neat little bows at the end of the episode or season.
To me the Sopranos were the start of the new golden age of dramatic television. Think about the shows that started either in 1999 or since then… The Shield, 24, Lost, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and the list can go on and on. These shows all had, or have, flawed characters. Characters we liked, but we didn’t necessarily want to know them, or be them, or want to know people who wanted to be them. Well okay, we’ve all had that time or two where we wouldn’t mind knowing some of these characters, but let’s not talk about that today.
All the shows I’ve listed above have already gone away. And that is sad. And now we are about to lose a couple more great shows. Mad Men has just 6 more episodes to go before Don Draper drinks his last martini. I’m not as broken up about losing that one as some people I know are, but it will be missed.
And soon, way too soon we are going to lose Justified. I have to be honest, I’m not for sure that I want to live in a world without Raylan Givens, Boyd and Ava Crowder and Wynn Duffy. Not because these people are good people, well Raylan kind of is a good guy, but he certainly makes bad choices and does a lot of questionable things. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is a U.S. Marshall stuck in the rural eastern Kentucky coal mining/meth riddled community that he grew up in. While Raylan was not brought up in a law abiding family he has his own agenda to enforce justice, especially against his old classmate and now crime lord, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). The chemistry between Olyphant and Goggins make this show a must see in my book.
There are exactly 6 episodes left and I am going to try really hard to try to figure out some way to savor each and every glorious moment of those remaining six episodes. I’m really not for sure what reason I will have to wake up on April 15th, after the last episode airs on the 14th.
So now I have a questions for you. What is the show that you currently watch that when it leaves the air your life is going to be void of all meaning?