The Show Must Go On…

“Survivors.”

I was reading The Wall Street Journal and sipping a green tea soy latte at M Street Coffee on Riverside Drive (by the way, the best in L.A.), when my attention was diverted to the conversation behind me. Two television writers were discussing current TV shows and the latest television gossip.

I began to think about how television can be an indulgence, a guilty pleasure, and for myself, a vice. As a writer, I know I should be reading more, at least attempting the classics: Dostoyevsky, Kafka and Proust (I did make it through Swan’s Way) but instead, in my spare time, I’m watching some of my favorite television series. At least, by writing about it, I hope to assuage some of my guilt!

First, to tackle the latest television news: Charlie Sheen’s likely departure from Two and a Half Men. I disagree with the writers in the café, who believe the show can go on without him. “It’s not a big deal,” one writer said. “He can just be replaced.” I say no way! Sheen is the patriarch and glue to the show; it would be like the fall of Rome for a television comedy — all would crumble. His bad boy persona, arrogance, and impeccable comic timing cannot be duplicated. I doubt the Two and a Half Men writers could get themselves out of this bind, even though the show is one of the best television comedies (The New Adventures of Old Christine comes in second). If Sheen does leave, the show would have to be renamed One and a Half Men and a Maid.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Wanda Sykes in “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

On the topic of comedy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who won an Emmy for her performance as the title character on Christine as well as for her iconic role as Elaine on Seinfeld) has found the perfect vehicle for her unique talent. This season is hilarious. Dreyfus has met her match with Eric McCormack from Will and Grace. It would be foolish not to cast them together for a Broadway production or film.

Moving on to dramas, I lost patience with the final season of Lost. This had been the first time I saw the show and I caught up with the recap special of the prior seasons. The same thing happened with V. I enjoyed the first few episodes and then found them tiresome. Most importantly, I am in no way saying that this isn’t well-crafted television with talented actors! It may just be a matter of personal preference.

One of the reasons for my change in interest is that I discovered a superior television series Survivors. This drama perfectly captures the speculative science fiction genre and the integral dynamics of characterization and plot. I recommended the show to the television writers. (I eventually joined in on their conversation.) They had never heard of Survivors on BBC. This British series takes place on the outskirts of London just as a deadly virus hits the human race. (Warning: this may not be for the faint of heart.) However, the story unfolds around a group of characters from different ethnic and educational backgrounds. The common link between them all is a natural immunity to the virus. Yes, this is Darwinian theory in action: survival of the fittest here. The dynamic banding of characters is reminiscent of classic Stephen King. What I find most intriguing is the interplay of good and evil and how the characters relationships develop. The suspense and pacing of this show is unbeatable. It is riveting television and not to be missed.

Ms. Robbins is a freelance writer and the PR Director for The Tolucan Times. She can be reached at arobbins@tolucantimes.com.

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