eightiswild (eightiswild) wrote,
eightiswild
eightiswild

The Top 5 Shows that Lost their Allure part 1 of 5

This was inspired by greenleofiend who got me started on this rant.

Let's face it: every long running TV show has it's ups and downs. Season 3 of the OC was nearly unbearable. Season 5 of Stargate SG1 actually had me, an avid Daniel fan, ready for Jonas's appearance.  Season 3 of Numb3rs was so dark it had be surprised it was the same show. It just happens. However, what sets great shows apart from the shows that don't stand the test of time is that they always improve. The 4th season of OC was the most brilliant,  Jonas was a perfect refresher that jump started the show and paved the way for Daniel to come back new and improved, and Numb3rs literally got help for Don.
Then there are the others. You know the ones I mean. The shows that start out brilliant, but lose you. Now I am a rabid fangirl. I tend to be furiously loyal to a TV show, because after all if I am going to invest my time in it week after week I actually have to like it; but there is only so much a girl can take.  I'm not talking about ones with horrible endings, no I'm talking about shows so terrible I never made it to the ending. Here they are. The top 5 shows that lost me.
Because I wanted to go in depth here I split this into 5 parts. Stayed tuned for more fun.
5. Without a Trace

This was the first procedural show that really caught my interest and honestly is responsible for sparking my long time love of the genre. For a time Without a Trace was big news. The lead actor Anthony LaPaglia even one a Golden Globe for best lead in a drama series back in 2003, and he deserved it. Most of the actors brought their best work to the table with this show and the drama was apparent in every subtle glance and change of tone. Season one was mind blowing. The mysteries were exciting. The emotions were raw and intense, and the characters were compelling. For the most part.
This show was not without it's issues.
Issue number 1 was the girls. Ok, so you're a girl in the boys world of the FBI and I get that you have to be tough, but what was up with these two?
I'm not sure exactly what made the character of Sam so annoying to me. 
Was it the eternal whine and the fact that her attempt at "tough" always came off more like pissy? Or was it the fact the she was the wicked witch of the west with all her teammates and no one ever seemed to mind it? Or was it that she came off as aloof and perpetually annoyed? It could be, or it could be the fact that the writers had the guts to name her Sam Spade. Sam Spade? Really? A detective named Sam Spade? Where have I heard that before. Hmmm Let's think.
How about the genius Humphrey Bogart vessel "The Maltese Falcon"? That's right. The writers of Without a Trace had the nerve to name her after the master of Film Noir detectives. That's a pretty big promise to the viewer there, writers. So, if you hear that there is a female character named after one of the legends of her genre wouldn't you imagine she would have to be one of the most mind blowing characters on television? Instead we get Samantha Spade, and insult to female detectives everywhere. Every episode that focused on her--and there were far too many-- felt like nails running over a chalk board. Even her unsurprisingly tragic background story was so ridiculously portrayed I felt no sympathy for her.

Then there was Vivian. I liked Vivian, I really did. Back in season 1 she was epic. She was not what I expected and I loved it. Vivian was no classic Hollywood beauty, but she brought her unique charm to the screen. She had a surprisingly maternal character that really worked. There was no one else like her in crime shows. She was the wise woman with inner strength who cared deeply for everyone and saw their problems. She knew how to fix it and often did. She was The Mom of the crime genre and I ate it up. It was different, I've never seen a character like her before or since. Unfortunately, her awesome and unique character lasted about 1 1/2 seasons. Suddenly, Vivian has the potential for promotion and she grew fangs. Mama Smurf went nasty and self serving. I imagine if I were one of her "kids" I would feel stricken at her sudden coldness. 
Look just how sad Danny looks, Vivian. Just look at him.
So, the girls were pretty awful, Sam from day one and Vivian from day two; but I will give the writers a hand. They tried to fix it in the only way screenwriters seem to know how. Have problems with existing characters? Add more characters!
Out of this came Elaina. She was everything the other girls should have been. She was smart, sexy and could match the guys but still maintained a feminine quality that made her feel real. She was a lady for the ages with gumption and spunk and I loved it. Honestly, she is to this day one of my favorite female agents and she impressed the heck out of me.
Even still, the girls out there reading this know exactly why they watched the show. Two simply reasons:
Danny and Martin. They were attractive, funny and a perfect duo. Their bromance started out with friction. Let's face it, they hated each other until they are forced to work souly with one another on a case of a man with double lives. Jack's philosophy is, either they will learn to work together or one of them will end up dead. Either way the office will be more peaceful. The episode was amazing and the resulting bromance really made the show. They were competitive but ultimately there for each other when the fit hit the shan.
Here is where the show lost me.
Somewhere in the midst of an annoying plotline which every crime show that takes themselves too seriously seems to feel the need to do at some point or other where Martin gets addicted to pain medicine, their friendship just ends. Sure they have a few interesting moments here or there but the show actually seems to get tired of them. Their plotlines trickle down to nearly nothing and the show starts obsessing over Jack's family issues and Sam's...issues with everything she can think of.
The thing about crime shows is they are gritty. When you are watching them they feel very real. They desperately need characters you can relate to and love to make counterbalance the darkness of the plot lines. Especially in a show like Without a Trace, where 4 times out of 10 the victim ends up dead before they can save them. The first two seasons had this, season 3 got a bit shaky but by season 4 everything was just going down hill until season 5 where I gave up and couldn't take watching it for another episode.
I remember the exact one that did me in. "Win This Time" in season 5. Jack is kidnapped and tortured. No surprise there, most every crime show has this at least once. Reid from Criminal Minds gets kidnapped so often they honestly should insert a tracking system into his brain for safe keeping. But Without a Trace decided they were going to do it right. Which apparently for them means, a brutal horrific episode with no redeeming qualities that is honestly so revolting it could belong in a Saw movie. They pay far too much attention to the torture and are light on the scenes of the actual rescuing. The scenes are drawn out and overplayed, and it's just a precursor to the rest of the season. Drawn out and overplayed dark spittle out of the writers mouths.
This show melted. I have no other way to describe it. It's plotlines ended up gimmicky, it's annoying characters just became more annoying while the interesting characters became severally underplayed, Elaina came in too late to actually save the show and in the end the writers didn't seem to know what they wanted anymore. I actually cheered, yes literally cheered, when Numb3rs beat out Without a Trace and took its time slot when the show was canceled. Seriously, if you want a procedural, go watch Numb3rs or Criminal Minds. Leave Without a Trace in the CBS trash bin where it belongs, and tune in next time for number 4.
Tags: danny, jack, martin, sam spade, vivian, without a trace
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