Thursday, March 22, 2007

Love Triangles

Continuing a subject that you loyal dozens responded to yesterday, I was a little disapppointed with "Bones" last night.

The producers had written themselves into a corner with Bones (Emily Deschanel) and her beau, Sully (Eddie McClintock), who asked her to run away with him on a sailboat for a year. There was really no good reason for her not to. All of her friends - even would-be Sully rival Booth (David Boreanaz) - thought it was a good idea. But when she informs Sully she won't be going, she doesn't give a good reason.

It's disappointing because the producers had done a great job up to that point with the whole love triangle aspect. Obviously, we are rooting for the Bones-Booth coupling, but Sully was a good guy who was similar to Booth in a lot of ways, but different enough because he wasn't married to his FBI job like Booth is. And Booth was particularly well-written, because he obviously doesn't want Bones to go off with another man, but knows Sully is a good guy for her and encouraged the relationship.

The triangle was done a lot better than earlier this season, bringing in Cam (Tamara Taylor) as a rival of Bones for Booth's affections. The problem with Cam was that she was exactly like Bones - beautiful, intelligent, driven, with horrible people skills. Because the producers did little to distinguish Cam from Bones (and making them antagonistic at first, because Cam is Bones' boss), it was hard for viewers to warm up to a Booth-Cam relationship. Since they broke up, Cam has been relegated to being a background player.

I mentioned a few other shows that have had some good love triangles lately. It used to be a show would introduce a third character simply to get in the way of a couple we were rooting for (pretty much the case for Ross and Rachel through the entire run of "Friends"). The new character was unlikeable enough that we knew our couple would overcome his/her interference and eventually end up together.

But TV writers have gotten smarter over the last few years, introducing love interest guest stars who are likeable enough that it makes the choices the regular characters make more difficult and realistic.

Look at "The Office." Karen (Rashida Jones) is a smart, pretty woman who has a terrific sense of humor. Jim (John Krashinski) got along very well with her when they were in the Stamford branch office, and since it seemed he had no future with Pam (Jenna Fischer), the Jim-Karen thing made sense even though we the viewers are rooting for Jim-Pam. What makes things even more interesting is that Karen had no idea about the Jim-Pam thing for a long time, and that she and Pam were genuinely friends with each other once the characters returned to Scranton. Credit "The Office" writers for not taking the easy way out on this.

I pointed this out as well with "Ugly Betty." While that show seemed to go a little more of the traditional route by making the third wheel in the Betty-Henry relationship more of a roadblock, the producers again brought in a genuinely pretty, funny, likeable girlfriend for Henry (Christopher Gorham). It made for some great moments when Betty (America Ferrera), acting on some evil advice from her tormenter Amanda (Becki Newton), has a subconscious moment and abandons her rival Charlie (Jayma Mays) on a New York subway, even though Betty genuinely likes her.

Back to "Bones," credit the producers for not just abandoning the Sully issue. Next week, Bones and Booth visit the latter's shrink (Stephen Fry) to examine their relationship more deeply.

What are your favorite TV love triangles?

GALACTICA ORDER UPPED: Sci-Fi announced that it will shoot a full 22 episodes for Season 4 of "Battlestar Galactica" instead of the 13 originally announced. It's kind of a good-news, bad-news deal, however, since some are predicting that next year will be the last season of "BSG."

RENEWALS: ABC announced it was renewing 14 shows on Wednesday: ‘‘Brothers & Sisters,’’ ‘‘Men in Trees,’’ ‘‘Ugly Betty,’’ ‘‘Boston Legal,’’ ‘‘Desperate Housewives,’’ ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ‘‘Lost,’’ ‘‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’’ ‘‘The Bachelor,’’ ‘‘Dancing With the Stars,’’ ‘‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’’ ‘‘Supernanny,’’ ‘‘Wife Swap’’ and ‘‘America’s Funniest Home Videos.’’

The other networks are a little more up in the air with what they are bringing back so far:

NBC - ‘‘Heroes,’’ ‘‘My Name Is Earl,’’ ‘‘The Office,’’ ‘‘Law & Order: SVU’’ and ‘‘Las Vegas.’’
Fox - ‘‘Prison Break,’’ ‘‘House’’ and ‘‘Bones.’’
CW - ‘‘Everybody Hates Chris.’’

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: The aforementioned "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) returns with a new episodes tonight, followed by "Grey's Anatomy" and the new series "October Road."

Clark goes undercover to investigate a super-powered fight club on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) I'd talk about it more, but the first rule about fight club is you do not talk about fight club. It's followed by a new "Supernatural."

NBC is delivering a new "Scrubs" at 9 p.m., followed by the very funny new series, "Andy Barker, P.I." at 9:30. Tonight's installment is written by former "Buffy" uber-scribe Jane Espenson, for the record. A new "Raines" airs at 10 p.m. before switching to its regular Friday timeslot next week.

Hopefully, your brackets aren't too busted by now as the NCAA Tournament (CBS, 7:30 p.m.) resumes tonight with the Sweet 16.


Zodin2008 said...

I really find the fact that networks are choosing to compete with the NCAA Tournament, maddening.

When it's something I have little or no interest in, like Nascar or the Olympics, or even increasingly long and boring awards shows, networks choose not to compete.

But I am interested in the NCAA Tourney and I am annoyed that they don't save more Betty and Smallville stuff when there isn't this competition and there's less on.

It's like with Tuesday night--with no "Veronica Mars", there's nothing at all worth watching but then last night, I had 3 shows I like (Friday Night Lights, Bones and Lost). I wish there was more balance.

Speaking of "Lost", Phillip, care to defend Locke blowing up the submarine? In that one moment, he managed to ruin a very entertainign episode. There was NO GOOD REASON for him to screw other island-ers like this. none. Sepinwall agrees:

Love Triangles: I think the fact that Bones established in the episode how important her job and career are too her and how important it is to find the killers, plus, she obviously has unresolved feelings for Booth all led to a decision that was less then surprising.

I think it also establishes that despite all the 'advice' she was given from her friends, she's her own person. I agree about Sully being a likeable guy.

I will continue to disagree though with you over Henry's girlfriend and Karen. I like Karen a lot, but she's wildly insecure now and Phillip, I know it's hard to believe but people who are that insecure in their relationship (as gorgeous as Rashida Jones maybe in real life and I think she's hitter then Jenna Fisher), it's easy to see why Jim has become more & more restless. It's ultimately doomed.

As for Henry's girlfriend, if she was anything more then an obvious plot device by the "Betty" writers to keep Henry and Betty apart, then we'd be able to remember her name.

As I type this out, I still can't think of her name!! It's easily the least effective of the 3 triangles and the most blatantly obvious one to 'stand in the couple's way'.

Still, I cannot begin to tell the "Betty" writers how grateful I am that they wrote the awful Walter character out. he was annoying and whiny and really hard to believe that it took Betty as long as it did to dump him.

Jonathan said...

It's the NCAA tournament; it's not the superbowl or the World Series. It doesn't pull in bad numbers, but it's all pretty regionalized. An episode of "CSI" would pull in bigger numbers than one of the basketball games tonight; the other networks are actually probably happy that they don't have to go up against "CSI." Even "Greys" which has been cut down the middle as far as the numbers go even though the execs at ABC want you to believe that its crushing the competition.

Zodin2008 said...

I realize that, Jonathan, I just have zero interest in CSI so when there are re-runs against that dull show, then I have to watch a movie!

Phillip Ramati said...

Networks used to never counter-program against the NCAA, but times change. Networks can longer afford to run as many repeats as they used to.

As for love triangles, Zod, Karen only became wildly insecure when she arrived in Scranton and didn't find out until much later that Jim used to be in love with Pam. I think that would jolt anyone.

Charlie on Ugly Betty isn't insecure about Henry, she's insecure about living in New York, which would be imposing to any small-town girl. And Betty isn't exactly brimming with overconfidence, so I fail to see the point of that argument.

Of course any of these guest stars likely won't end up breaking up our dream couples and are there only to serve as impediments. That being said, I think the writers of all three shows have done a great job in making the romantic rivals likeable and the relationships more realistic.