Monday, February 16, 2009

T5V6: The Television Formula

There are some times when the TV formula works, and some where it doesn't.

As you've probably noticed, I'm a huge TV watcher. More than I should be, I'm afraid. But I am an avid TV watcher all the same. I watch a bunch of shows, some that are completely insane (Lost, Damages, 30 Rock) and some that are TV's ultimate F-bomb: Formulaic (Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters at left, and my minor obsession with House).

The problem is, certain shows and genres can make the formulaic work for them to drive the story along. But then some are Brothers & Sisters.

I don't need to tell you how awesome House is (although I totally already have), but it falls into the "procedural" category that allows a formulaic approach to work. It also has Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, and Lisa Edelstein. Bones falls into the same category and also seems to work—that may be attributed to the quirky lab geeks of Jefferson, the sexual tension between Booth and Bones, or the fact that David Boreanaz is one sexy Parkie. Other (endless) formula shows are Law & Order and CSI.

The problem with the "formula" drama comes when it's not really a procedural. Desperate Housewives is still (somewhat) acceptable, because the writing has enough wit to it, and the whining is counterbalanced by some sort of humor. Brothers & Sisters doesn't have that luxury. It's a family drama centered around five siblings, their respective spouses and children, a meddlesome mother, and a severely underused Ron Rifkin. The storylines are current, the cast is good (and about to get better), but the storylines still suck. For such a priviledged family in California during these difficult times, everyone just whines about the same infidelities, family issues, grudges, and business indiscretions time and time again, solving them with passive agression and wine. Lots of wine. And more whine.

So to the writers of Brothers & Sisters (psh, like they read this) to please get away from the formula and go a different way. Make someone happy for a change. Use Rifkin more. Get Ken Olin on the show more often. Import some more guest stars. And really, the sooner Tommy is gone, the happier I will be.

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