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Thursday, 18 October 2007

How To Kill Your TV Show

Prison Break, the popular American TV series now in its 3rd season, has recently made a creative decision, based on behind-the-scenes problems, that will undoubtedly destroy the show's already-perilous hopes for any future life, or viewer loyalty. They have recently killed off the character of Dr. Sara Tancredi, the main love object of tattooed protagonist Michael Scofield.

Over the first two seasons, their painful, complex relationship (based on using, being used, and getting over that) was at first enigmatic, then deeply moving, becoming the centre of an otherwise often simply ludicrous and hyper-violent spectacle. Sara was the emotional anchor of the show. Unfortunately, the actor playing her character, Sarah Wayne Callies, pictured, became, in "real life", pregnant, wanted out of the show, and refused, it is claimed, to co-operate with a third season 13-episode arc that would have had her death (one imagines) more artfully engineered.

Instead, she was unceremoniously given the literal chop - her severed head appearing in a box. This grisly homage to David Fincher or indeed Psycho may have been a funny industry in-joke for a few suits, but it has also grossly insulted the fanbase (see the blogs) and ruined any sense of past or present continuity. As one fan put it, if this series is about hope, why should I care now? TV requires a comfort zone the cinema need not offer.

Was Dr. Tancredi a John The Baptist figure? Is the "Greatest Story Ever Told" spoiled by his death at the hands of Salome? Prison Break was good TV storytelling, but it was founded on characters that the audience rooted for, and loved. With Sara gone, it is a bunch of sadists locked in a Panamanian prison. I recommend some radical script doctoring, or resurrectionary work. Make it somehow a faked death. Bring her back. Religion is based on love, and hope, and TV's mass opiate requires the chance of a second life.
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