by Larry Brody
My wife Gwen the Beautiful and I have been enjoying A&E’s THE GLADES since its debut. For us, the series has two things going for it.
- It’s a cop show from the days they were cop shows instead of police procedurals, which means that although there are some unexpected twists there’s also a light-hearted feeling that makes me glad to be watching. (As opposed to, say, the plodding grimness of the CSIs, and the forced, usually unsuitable unclever repartee of the “Characters Welcome” shows on USA.)
- The star, Matt Passmore, looks just like old friend, law-enforcement-officer-turned-actor-writer-producer Chriss Anglin.
Last night we settled in to watch our DVR’d Season 3 opener and had a good time. This show goes especially well with tequila, and with 1800 anejo…ah. We were especially pleased to see that the spark has returned to the Jim Longworth-Callie Cargill relationship. (The hero and his honey, right.)
The last time we watched the show they were barely speaking. Sure, the Season 2 finale ended with the beginning of a reapproachment, but in this episode they were in full-on lovers mode, grabbing each other by the hormones whenever and wherever they could.
Without the audience ever having been part of The Moment It Became Real.
You know what moment I’m talking about. It’s the one we all seek in that funny thing called Real Life…and remember forever. (Or, at least, until the Big Bad Permanent Break-Up That We Never Forget.)
This isn’t just frustrating. It’s a cop-out. A cheat. When I see things like this (and GLADES isn’t the only culprit here, is it, BONES fans?), in my head I hear the writers saying, “Hey, we’re clueless. We have no real-life experience in romance, only old movies. So bear with us, folks, cuz we just couldn’t think of a new, interesting way to write the realization and acceptance of love. Pretend you saw it. Pretend we did our job.”
With very few exceptions (MOONLIGHTING back in the day, CASTLE – yay! – just a few weeks ago), the rule on TV has been to keep the leads apart. Anger gets played onscreen, because anger = conflict, and conflict is what stories are all about. But the kind of love that grows into a powerful link between human beings has usually been treated as, simply, subtext. In fact, years ago, when I was doing otherwise highly satisfying and hugely successful (with critics if not always the audience), shows like POLICE STORY and MEDICAL STORY, Executive Producer David Gerber laid down a rule:
“Nobody in my shows says, ‘I love you.’ Ever. But if you have someone say, ‘I hate you,’ you’ll make me smile.”
That was 35 years ago.
Some things don’t change.
But they should.