Oh, The Possibilities…

I am fed up with television. My parents would be so proud. They raised me on a strict diet of poor reception. We watched Julia Child and Monty Python and Sesame Street and the original Flash Gordon (or maybe that was just static) and that was it.

As a result, when I got my first television in college, I spent hours, days, months catching up on all the shows I had missed. I watched Mad About You and Lois & Clark and saw the first episode of Friends, back when it had good writers and the buddies weren’t tanned and taut with riches. I became conversant in the language of television. I had watched The Simpsons and Northern Exposure and I Love Lucy and I knew the names of all the actors on the new shows.

I slowed down for a few years before the advent of Tivo. Only The West Wing got my religious attention, but when Aaron Sorkin left, watching my pals in Washington became like talking to that friend who married that awful girl that turned him into a different person and then you finally stopped inviting him out to dinner because he kept saying “no” or he came and it just wasn’t the same. I tried to get attached to Alias, but I was just faking it: I was only watching for Michael Vartan. He should have been my French boyfriend who spoke perfect English and beat people up.

Then came Lost.

Lost is like Survivor: Bizarro Island. There are so many characters that if one starts to get on your nerves, you know they’ll focus on a different one next week. The same is true of the multiple plot lines. There’s always some revelation waiting in a flashback or via the introduction of some new character who’s been running around on that beach, nameless for two whole seasons. After a second season, Lost is still the most suspenseful thing on television.

Several characters were killed off this season, most of them suddenly and preceded by much internet speculation. I don’t miss most of them, but I wish they’d get around to Michael (Harold Perrineu), the excitable non-custodial parent of Walt, the boy who was kidnapped by the natives at the end of last season. Harold Perrineu has proved himself to be an awful, awful actor. His switch is set on high, come hell or high water (or both, on this island): there is no line too small that it doesn’t require Michael to get hysterical and shout. Harold and his one really angry red crayon. “Angry” is a cheap acting choice and its inappropriate application – say, when he’s trying to be persuasive or sneaky – makes the character seem deranged and the role of the concerned father entirely unsympathetic. To keep myself entertained while he’s on-screen – well, really to prevent myself from doing bodily harm to the television – I imagine a competent actor saying Michael’s lines right after he says them. Usually, I imagine Naveen Andrews, who plays Sayeed, the local Iraqi torturer. Even a torturer is sexy when he plays things close to the chest.

I’ve been optimistic that they’d kill Michael for some time now and spent most of this season pleased that he was off looking for Walt and, more imporantly, keeping his mouth shut. Any Wednesday night without Michael is a good Wednesday. Then he came back. Rats. Then I got my hopes up all over again when he shot Anna Lucia (Michele Rodriguez, she of the multiple drunk driving arrests). For some time before her demise, I’d been hoping her similarly one-note acting would be eliminated and presto! Gone with a single gunshot to the stomach. Maybe wishing does make it so and Michael would be next. I thought maybe I was magic.

No such luck. After last night’s finale, it’s clear he’ll be here into next season. And instead of just being annoying, he’s become weak, unprincipled and homicidal. Great. Now everyone can hate him. I guess the writers figured that since he’s already unwatchable, they might as well make him evil. Evil in that really weak, sniveling rat bastard kind of way, not in the “that’s almost impressive how good he is at being evil” way. Like Joe Pesci get-off-my-screen evil, not Gene Hackman/Ian McKellen hammy excellent evil.

What gets me is that they have the means. It’s not a sitcom. They’re on an island. They kill people all the time. No one cares. Take the law into your own hands. It’s TV carte blanche to eliminate the characters no one likes. Even better, why not kill off Michael at the end of every season? Here’s where the freaky magnetic island is your friend. Just bring him back and nail him again next year. It’d be a huge crowd pleaser. I would have been delighted if he’d been taken out last May and I promise I would have watched again this year if they’d taken him down again.

Anyway, I’m fed up with TV. I’ve deleted most of my Season Passes on Tivo. (Except for Supernanny, which is a reminder to me that maybe, with some British assistance and a high school education and a house not entirely devoid of furnishings or standards, I could be a parent someday.) I’m signing off for the summer. I’ll be back in the fall to see if they finally get around to killing Michael.

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany, Watch This

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