Not every TV show has to be Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. I’m sure it’s exhilarating to watch it trend on Twitter and fill the blogosphere with reactions to the latest shocking death. “The Rains of Castamere” episode of Game of Thrones and its shocking Red Wedding scene changed the role of Twitter in television. I have no doubt that the writers’ room now includes conversations about how to get Twitter participation during the show, and fostering the “two screen experience.”
Author Lee Child wrote that if you can see the bandwagon, it’s too late to climb on. No one told The Good Wife producers Michelle and Robert King. Nor apparently the EP of How I Met Your Mother.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. What I dislike, even as a teacher, is doing the same thing over and over in exactly the same way. I don’t know how an actor can tolerate doing a play for weeks, months, or sometimes years. At least a series has new episodes, but perhaps playing the same character is tedious. I have trouble doing the same lesson twice in a row. It therefore doesn’t surprise me when actors decide they want to leave a popular show and find something else to do. From the perspective of an audience member, it’s shocking. Shelley Long leaving Cheers? To do what? David Duchovney is tired of Fox Mulder? What does Clooney think is out there for him besides Dr. Doug Ross?
As a fan, I hate it, but as a performer, I get it. I’ve been lucky in my career to have assignments with variety so I don’t grow bored. My most challenging year was the one where I taught four periods of junior English and one of AP junior English. Four shows a day, five days a week put my creativity at an all-time low.
The problem with Josh Charles’ exit from The Good Wife versus one like Katherine Heigl’s from an ensemble show like Grey’s Anatomy is that TGW’s central plot is a love triangle among Julianna Marguiles, Charles, and Chris Noth. It is only Noth’s onscreen likability that keeps the audience from rooting unanimously for an Alicia/Will partnership.
I say “onscreen” because I have it on good authority from a number of people in the food service industry that Noth is an amazing actor.
Michelle and Robert King ruined my Good Wife viewing experience by posting a letter on Facebook within minutes of airing the infamous episode 515 where Josh Charles’ character dies. The first words are “We, like you, mourn the loss of Will Gardner.” It’s like the college acceptance letter where the words “congratulations” or “unfortunately” in the first sentence cinch it. The first words should have been: major spoilers ahead if you’re trying to meet your grading deadline and you DVRed the episode. I give the Kings a tip of the hat for including “send him off to Seattle” as a jab at the unsatisfying way Dr. Ross ditched Margulies’ Nurse Hathaway, leaving her to parent their twins alone. In your face, John Wells.
The letter went on to justify their choice to kill the character.
I don’t believe a word of it.
Michelle and Robert King killed Will Gardner because they couldn’t kill Josh Charles. He left their hit show, a show revolving around his character’s relationship with the titular one. I’m surprised they didn’t have him shot in the face. Or the nuts.
I worked in television my first job out of college. My dad’s work war stories from television sets were the soundtrack of my childhood. He once pitched the idea that all actors be replaced by puppets. No producer would be that believably benignant about a lead actor quitting an Emmy winning show. Choose any euphemism you want, but Josh Charles quit. His contract expired and he walked away.
The Kings and Julianna Margulies (also a producer) did not raise their glasses “to Mutt!”
Thank goodness for the Sunday night program schedule, because after watching The Good Wife episode 515, I was able to cheer myself up with The Walking Dead.