Today I was all set to talk about Damages – which returned to TV last night. A show I had been su-uu-per excited to watch…and I will talk about Damages, only I need to mention the letter. The one that Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz wrote and asked to be shared after his death (he passed away two days ago). A letter I thought I’d just casually scan - you know, just to get the jist of it. Only this is not a letter you just scan. The part where you burst into tears the second you read it doesn’t help much either.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Gilligan’s island or The Brady Bunch you know just what an enormous influence this man had upon generations of people. Meanwhile, if say, you’ve seen every single episode of both shows repeatedly, you know exactly how profound that influence is. On you, me, and probably 50% of television today. (That’s attributing conservatively.) With theme songs that telegraph a setup better than any pilot of any modern show ever could, these were genuinely fabulous TV shows; the fact that they’re parodied more than any others is perhaps a testament to their lasting presence.
The Brady Bunch wasn’t the first show to introduce a blended family, but it was definitely the most memorable. (Full disclosure: my mother was married and had three children, two boys and a girl. My father was also married with three children, two girls and a boy. After getting divorced from their respective spouses, they met and married one another, whereupon they had me. Which makes me Tiger. Or Oliver. Or some combination thereof). For me, the Bradys were truly funny, ridiculous (and even flawed) people. If you happened to be a kid when they were kids you witnessed their shortcomings, their foibles, their resentments and their struggles for acceptance, and perhaps you even viewed them as role models. I certainly did. Their parents were a little too good to be true (for this kid) but again, the show was nevertheless intrinsic to childhood, tweendom and even those teenage years. Did you watch The Brady Bunch? How about Gilligan’s Island? Nor, by the way, in the journey that TV has made since the 1950’s, would there be any old show called Lost if it hadn’t been for Gilligan, The Skipper, The Professor and Mary Anne… and everyone else. So read the letter from Sherwood Schwartz here and see if you agree that here was a guy with a point of view — for which an awful lot of people remain grateful.
Now to Damages…did you see the premiere on DirectTV? This was one of those beloved shows that got canceled from FX and, for whatever reason, someone in charge thought it deserved another shot. On a new channel. It stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, and every season they bring in a big shot who lasts throughout (like Ted Danson and William Hurt, Martin Short, Campbell Scott and Lily Tomlin). The idea for each season is that they take a ripped-from-the-headlines court case and spend 13 episodes unraveling it. And now we have John Goodman playing what appears to be the potentially corrupt boss of a private security service in the Middle East (based on Blackwater, the real private security service based in the Middle East). Anyway, it’s gritty, suspenseful roller-coaster stuff — that’s also very dark. Nor can I wait to catch more. Let us know if you’re a Damages fan, and if you intend to catch this latest iteration on its new channel.
Now, let’s talk about Glee. Because when the show premieres again for its third season this fall, the fact is certain stars will have to graduate. And even though it might be fun to watch shows where nobody ever seems to, the producers have assured us that this next season will be the last for Rachel (Leah Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), and Kurt (Chris Colfer) – since, logically speaking, they are seniors. Which is shocking to many viewers. What do you think?