Wagon Training

  • 00:49:14 Wagon Train is a reaIIy cooI show…
  • wt300:49:17 …but did you ever notice that they never get anywhere?
  • 00:49:20 They just keep wagon training.

… memorable lines from the film “Stand By Me.”  There seems a new generation of television following a familiar pattern with a twist.  “The Walking Dead”, “Revolution” and “The Following” are among those with a unique premise but, beyond that, season after season have little fresh to offer.  Once the novelty wears it is simply variations redux.  It is a phenomenon dating back to “Gilligan’s Island” in my lifetime; of course “Wagon Train” and  others existed before.  The hook today is better effects and shock value from blood and gore.

It may be a problem inherent to the medium, however a precious few have managed to stay fresh year after year.  Generally this can be attributed to outstanding writing (i.e. “The Simpsons”) and/or acting (“Law and Order”).  The best are aware enough to recognize when they’ve told their story, said all that is needed and bow out gracefully (“Breaking Bad”).  In other instances  longevity is inexplicable (“NCIS.”)  There are then occasions where network executives pull the plug prematurely (“My so-called Life”)

Occasionally the networks get it right and cancellation arrives right on time.  I write this reluctantly wrapping up 5 seasons of “Fringe.”  What began as seemingly a reincarnation of “The X-files” managed to reinvent itself each year.  A premise of alternate universes permitted the actors to experiment.  As entertaining as the science themed plots was the versatility of actors portraying different versions of themselves.  Sadly, all good things must and should end.

“A candle that burns twice as bright only lasts half as long.”
– Peter (Joshua Jackson) quoting Walter (John Noble) in “Fringe.”

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About Richard Evans


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