Monday, April 30, 2018

TV: QUANTICO gets retooled one more time

QUANTICO returned to ABC last Thursday and the big question is why?

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If you watched the first three episodes of season one, would you even recognize the show now?

We're reminded of another show, one that made television history.  In November of 1972, CBS' MAUDE featured the title character having an abortion.   This was not television's first prime time abortion, however.  The first abortion was in the fall of 1971 and it took place on THE DORIS DAY SHOW.

It was an unusual abortion in that it was plural -- abortions -- and that the fetuses had already been born -- and named: Billy and Toby.  They were the sons of Doris' character on seasons one, two and three.  When THE DORIS DAY SHOW kicked off, she was a widow with two children and she lived on her father's farm.  Then, in season two,  she was a secretary -- still living on the farm with her two children.  Season three, she and the boys move to San Francisco.  Season four, Doris Martin has no children and she's single, not a widow, and now a journalist.

The show never knew what it was.  It only did well in the ratings due to having HERE'S LUCY as a lead-in and Doris Day's own popularity.

QUANTICO's never really had a popular lead-in so it's had to make do with the popularity of the cast -- luckily Priyanka Chopra, Jake McLaughlin, Johanna Braddy, Blair Underwood and Russell Tovey are likable.

They kept season two afloat as much as possible.  What a season.  The first half?  As we noted, "In fact, season two's first half really played out like it was attempting to turn the viewer into Tanya.  Seriously, it was as though ABC had turned the show over to the Symbionese Liberation Army and we were all being reconditioned."

The second half of season two, as we noted, simplified the story and dropped the flashbacks and the flashforwards.  Sadly, that only left the story and it wasn't worth telling.

Now the show's back and there's a little good news.

The team's basically THE A-TEAM now, off on their own.  That's an improvement.  The season's jumped forward in time and Ryan's now with Shelby.  After season's two emasculating Ryan to keep him with Alex, this is a step forward.  Russell Tovey's Harry has been brought back (Harry was the best thing about season two).  In addition, Marlee Matlin's joined the cast as Jocelyn and it's a strong role paired with a strong actress.

We're more than a little concerned about Shelby -- specifically Johanna Braddy's hair.  Maybe if she hadn't been kidnapped and tied to a chair for the whole episode, it wouldn't have mattered that her blond hair's been stripped of all color.  But with it atomic blond and the bright lipstick, she came off like a kewpie doll in many shots.  Season two reduced Alex to Shirley Temple so we think we're right to give some thought to how this new visual for Shelby may end up playing out.

QUANTICO could actually play out better now.

No, THE A-TEAM wasn't the greatest show ever.

At its best, it was good.

Good would actually be an improvement for QUANTICO which always thought it could pull off big message storylines when, in fact, it couldn't.  None of the big storylines made much sense, let alone entertained.  At one point, there was some big conspiracy storyline that more than fell apart.

With a likeable cast and a simple overall storyline carried out through the season via episodes that also worked as stand-alones, QUANTICO might find the original audience it ran off mid-way through the first season.

But at some point, networks have to grasp that a show might not be worth saving and that on air tinkering -- whether with THE DORIS DAY SHOW or GARY UNMARRIED -- regularly improves the show or satisfies the viewers.

This should be the last attempt to retool QUANTICO.  If it doesn't work this time, let it go.  Just accept that it won't hit the magical 100 episodes -- the desired number for syndication heaven.  Admit that everyone tried hard to fix it but that it just wasn't able to live up to the promise of the first six episodes.

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