Murder on Monday night has happened frequently on television. Who-done-it’s have long found an audience for this genre.
Two years ago, one of the biggest battles in television programming was on Monday evening at 10P (ET). It matched high-flying ‘Hawaii Five-O’ against ‘Castle’. Murders were everywhere from the marina at Ko Olina to the Bowery on Manhattan. They were ‘Who Done Its’ in the fashion of traditional television, a staple ever since ‘Boston Blackie’ debuted over a half a Century ago on the Dumont Network.
‘Castle’ eventually won that battle through wit, great writing, masterful casting (especially around the weekly poker table where fans got to meet-up-close some of the great mystery writers of all time with the likes of Patterson, Cannell and King showing up from time to time) along with superb cross integrated marketing, the likes never rarely seen on a television before or sense. The ‘Five-O’ group escaped to Fridays to resurrect and become what it was always meant to be…fun, exciting and extremely well cast amongst the visual splendor of Paradise which is one of the greatest assets of the 50th State.
Now, ABC’s ‘Castle’ is challenged by NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ starring the incomparable, James Spader. But there is a problem.
The writers and producers might be sabotaging one of the great battles in television history.
There were two murders last Monday night. The one on ABC was clever, with twists and turns at every moment the door opened and closed on the interrogation room. It had to be him…no it had to be that guy. No. It must have been done by an unknown or unknown third-party, perhaps a foreign corporate monopoly? Nope. It has to be the husband. Sorry. What about the wife? Honestly, it was a gem of a story, a perfect mystery regardless of the lion, Linus, on the wall.
Then on NBC the murder was committed by the star of the show of his character’s friend on the pretext of protecting the genealogy in question. The Star’s character killed someone intentionally … on purpose. This was not a mercy killing. It was murder. Oh there have been other stars who have committed murder on popular shows before, like the good Australian doctor on ‘House’ who murders an African dictator in hopes of ending genocide in that nation. He was banished by his TV wife and now is a fireman on ‘Chicago Fire’. But here was Spader, the James Spader of ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’, ‘The Practice’, ‘Boston Legal’ and all the rest. Hey! Were talking about the voice of Acura here, taking a pillow and suffocating his friend to shut him up.
Will the public accept such behavior on television. Will this cripple the series? Will the public begin to pull away from Spader? Will ‘The Blacklist’, filled with so much promise be able to survive? Why do this in the first place?
The NBC show is a darling of the DVD, Live+7 crowd, losing in the overnights but winning the delayed weekly battles. So, will the delayed audience really care? Is the nation morally grounded today in a clouded maize of indifference to allow this kind of reprehensible action to go unnoticed without abandonment? Or are we now so calloused through days of ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Dexter’ to give a damn?
Murder on Monday. Did those loveable and reckless suits at 30 Rock go beyond the limits of morality and good judgement for the sake of a few rating points on 11/11/13?
Are we willing to allow this type of programming to go unchallenged without reprisal?Does the network know its limits? Does the audience care?
Artistic freedom is for Picasso, not for a couple of lazy ratings driven producers for a publicly held corporation who has a responsibility to bring the public entertainment. At 38 minutes into The Blacklist’ the way people view mass television changed on 11/11/13.