Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dead TV Characters

My brother called me Tuesday to complain about Mr. Eko's death on "Lost" last week. He believes that too many characters get killed off these days on the tube, and especially on that show.

He's both right and wrong. It does seem more than the usual number of TV characters are being killed off, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.

There are a lot of reasons why producers will kill off a character on TV: Differences with the actor, the storyline runs its course, the need for a dramatic shakeup, actors wanting to leave the show, and so forth.

I really haven't read a definitive reason why Eko was killed off, though it sure was controversial. Like many others have written in the blogosphere, Eko was one of my favorite characters on the show, and I believe there were still many Eko stories to be told.

On the other hand, Eko's death had much more dramatic resonance than the death of someone else, such as Charlie or Claire.

A lot of shows, such as "Prison Break" or "24" kill off main characters all the time, for similar reasons - mostly the writers have run out of story for that individual. It's not a new concept in TV, and with serialized storytelling growing as a dramatic form, one that isn't going away.

Sometimes, killing off a character is just a convenient way for a writer to re-work a story. "Vanished" killed off its male lead when the writing and actor weren't working well together. "Desperate Housewives" killed off two people this past week in order to dump two annoying characters whose stories had run their course.

People are throwing out various reasons why "Lost" has dropped some ratings points this year. I think the producers are in a no-win situation. You can't drag out a mystery forever, yet when you give people answers, they almost seem disappointed with the solutions.

People kept clamoring to know what the monster was on the island. They wanted to know if the island was a real place. Now that they have a better idea about these things, some viewers don't seem to like what the producers had to say. What's a writer to do?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Tonight is the fall season finale for "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) before it goes off the airwaves until February for the new show "Daybreak."

I'll withhold my thoughts on "Daybreak" until I watch the pilot next week, since ABC doesn't deem me fit to receive its screeners.

In a completely unrelated note, however, I think pulling "Lost" off the air for so long when its at a critical ratings juncture in a battle against "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) in favor of a new show is one of the dumbest network decisions in a long, long time.

Fans of Fox's "The O.C." can check out a new episode tonight as well as a new one Thursday in its normal timeslot.

I should also point out that two weeks' worth of celebrities on "Jeopardy!" begins Wednesday (WMAZ, 7:30 p.m.) beginning with Macon's own Nancy Grace.


Zodin2008 said...

One of the most annoying people on Television, Nancy Grace, is from Macon? Yikes, you may want to withold that info.

Your brother's point about the deaths make a lot of sense when killing characters has become almost too easy a device for certain shows, like "Lost" or "24". That said, last night's 'Fall' finale was excellent. A far superior episode then the previous week.

I liked Eko as a character but if they killed Locke, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid or Jin & Sun off, then I might quit watching. I was far less attached to Eko then those characters. I wouldn't care if Charlie or Claire left either. You are 100% right on those characters.

Phillip Ramati said...

I address the effectiveness of Eko's death in an edit add-on to Thursday's blog entry, for you, my brother and anyone else upset about Eko.

Nancy Grace's residence is sadly well-established around here.