On the menu for today’s Television Thursday for the letter W is the show White Collar. It is one of those dramedies that USA does so well and lives up to their slogan of “Characters Welcome.” Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a con man/art thief/forger who is caught by FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and agrees to use his expertise to catch other criminals in exchange for limited freedom. It is mostly a light show with lots of fun moments, but it delves into some pretty angsty stuff on occasion, too, so it’s a good mix.
I could tell you about the slick plans Neal comes up with to help the team catch the criminal of the week. I could tell you about the quirky and witty criminal sidekick Mozzie. I could tell you about the refreshingly angst-free and supportive marriage Peter has with his wife (Tiffani Thiessen from Saved by the Bell, y’all!). I could tell you about Jones and Diana, the other two members of the FBI team who always turn their small screen time into entertaining moments. I could also tell you about the epic bromance between Neal and Peter – two men who genuinely respect and care for each other, but often find themselves on opposite sides of the line. But I think I’ll let this do all the talking:
Seriously, I don’t think there’s a better looking man on television (although Jensen Ackles runs a close second). He’s almost too beautiful to be believed. I look into those blue eyes and I just… wait, I’m sorry, where was I? Oh, and he’s really a fantastic actor, too. Matt and Tim both give their characters a lot more depth than the writing warrants. The show has taken some missteps this past season, but these two guys always keep me watching. Especially, Matt. I mean, look at that face – how can you not watch his show?
Do you watch White Collar? Would you want to be part of one of Neal’s cons? How Wonderful is Molly with her W?
Oh boy! With it being Television Thursday and the dreaded letter Q, of course today’s post is about the sci-fi dramedy Quantum Leap. Although I don’t know if dramedy was an actual term when it aired in the early 90’s, it’s an apt way to describe this show’s perfect mix of laughs and serious issues. If you’re unfamiliar with Quantum Leap, the show’s opening does a perfect job of explaining the premise:
Scott Bakula was perfectly cast as time-jumping Sam Beckett. He was slightly bumbling, always earnest, and had a warmth and charm that allowed him to slip into people’s lives in order to right the wrongs. And Dean Stockwell as the Exposition Fairy, uh, I mean Al, was such a quirky, fun character who delivered his weekly info dumps in an entertaining way.
Besides Al’s antics, a lot of the humor came from Sam leaping into a new body each episode, since it never happened while that person was asleep, but at the most inconvenient time for Sam to be trying to figure out who the heck he was now inhabiting. At the end of each episode, after Sam and Al had solved the problem in his current body’s life, he would leap into another body and deliver the infamous, “Oh boy!” line.
Because of the humorous setups, it would be easy to blow Quantum Leap off as a silly little show, but there was plenty of drama since Sam only jumped into the lives of people who were in trouble in some way. And since the time jumping only occurred within the span of Sam’s life (1953 forward), there was a lot of sociological and political unrest to drive the stories. For example, there were plenty of giggles seeing Scott Bakula wobbling around in a dress and heels the first time he jumped into a woman, but the episode addressed the emotional impact of sexual harassment.
Since I’m such a sap, I often teared up at the ends of episodes as Sam finally fixed the people’s lives. It was always such a heartwarming moment, but kind of heartbreaking, too, since Sam never got to stick around and savor the happiness of the people he’d helped. As soon as he fixed the problem, he immediately leaped into the next problem. But as bad as that was for Sam, it was great for the audience. If you’ve never watched Quantum Leap, you should check it out on Netflix.
Did you watch Sam Beckett leap through time? How would you like to jump into people’s lives to fix them? How Quaint is Lily with her Q?
In talking about television on Thursdays, I originally planned to talk about current shows I’m watching. Since I watch a lot (too much!) of TV, I figured I’d be able to handle most letters. Wrong! There’s a Q on the horizon for Thursday. So I decided to open it up to all shows I have previously watched. Which means that since today is K, I get to talk about my most favoritest show from childhood – Knight Rider!!!
Just watch the intro for the show to experience the awesomeness:
That theme song still gets my blood pumping. And on random days, from out of nowhere, the voiceover will pop into my head, and even after all these years, I can still quote it.
Mr. Agenda tells me that it’s Television Thursday, and with today’s letter being E, I’m going to talk about the Syfy series Eureka. It airs Mondays at 9:00pm, and the fifth and final season starts on April 16th. I’m kind of bummed that it’s ending, since I’ve really enjoyed the quirky, little show.
I watched the series finale of Friday Night Lights last night, and I’m still feeling the loss of such an amazing television show. It was such a perfectly FNL ending: plenty of hope for the future, but not everything wrapped up in a falsely perfect bow. Through five seasons, the writing, directing, acting, cinematography, and editing came together seamlessly to create a something that felt more real than any show I’ve ever watched. I often felt uncomfortable while watching because I felt like some creeper peering through the windows at these people’s lives.
I think part of the reason it felt so real to me is that I grew up in Summerville, SC, where Green Wave football was more important than just about anything. I don’t know if Coach John McKissick is the molder of men that Eric Taylor was, but I do know that McKissick is the all-time winningest high school football coach ever. I spent many Friday nights under those bright lights screaming my head off for our team (that is when I wasn’t awkwardly trying to be cool).
But it wasn’t just familiarity that made these characters so authentic. A magical combination of acting and writing truly made them feel like friends. I laughed with them, worried for them, and I cried for them, oh man, how I cried for them, both at their joy and at their pain. It actually got to be kind of ridiculous, since I apparently developed a Pavlovian response to the FNL theme song – it would start playing and my eyes would start watering.
As a writer and filmmaker, I know I will pull out my DVDs again and again to enjoy and appreciate what the FNL team did, as well as study how they did it so I can learn to create characters that feel so incredibly real.
Were you a fan of Friday Night Lights? Can you suggest other shows with characters who feel so authentic? For the writers - did you pick up any techniques to improve the characters in your writing?
Babblings of a Boob Tube Junkie
I’m a writer and filmmaker exploring the magic of stories. I’ve always loved to read and watch television and movies, and now I'm creating my own stories via YA novels, short stories, screenplays, and even short films. I’m also an animal lover with a menagerie of pets; and, yes, I’m one of those people who puts party hats on their dogs and makes them “cakes” for their birthdays.
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My Short Films
If a cat predicted your death, how would it change your life?
A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.
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