Television: Elementary, "Bang Bang Shoot Chute"

Look! I caught up! (But only because there was no episode this past Sunday.) Guess I also watched them out of order? Whatever. It doesn't seem to make a difference.

There comes a time in every long-running show's life when the characters become static. They're established and don't change much if at all. The relationships between them are likewise set. At that point, a show becomes all about story, and the stories get increasingly . . . convoluted, bizarre, whatever. Each episode becomes a series of narrative hoops to be jumped through. I remember this happening with Bones, and it's now happening with Elementary too.

This doesn't mean a show is no longer good, only that it has changed. Whether a viewer sticks with it depends on whether they're okay with that change. I'm a character person. That's always going to interest me more than the story of the week. So yeah, I did eventually drop Bones (the baby in the manger was my breaking point), and if I weren't relatively sure Elementary was on its way out anyway, I'd probably blow it off, too. But that's just me. (As it is, I'll stick out the season.)

In this particular episode, um . . . A guy and his friend go base jumping off a skyscraper and the guy gets shot twice on the way down. Besides that, his chute was sabotaged. So even if he hadn't been shot, he'd have died. Which leaves one really simple question: What kind of f***ing idiot doesn't check his equipment before jumping?

Narrative hoops in this plot include the pregnant wife, the other dead friend who used to jump with the victim (and whose family may or may not blame the victim for the dead friend's death), connections with the military, connections with terrorists . . . You see the way things are going. Increasingly unlikely scenarios presented as twists and turns in the story until we eventually complete the circle by coming back to the pregnant wife, her father, and a secret girlfriend whose brother felt the guy was dishonoring his family.

Oh, and then there was also Shinwell stuff. He gets caught talking to an old friend who is/was a member of his gang from before he went to prison—a parole violation. Watson talks to both Shinwell and the friend and is told by Shinwell to buzz off. It's pretty clear that the friend has made some kind of threat and Shinwell is trying to protect Watson by pushing her away. But the amount we don't care is staggering. We're talking negative numbers here.

The Watson-Shinwell story line is maybe meant to sub for actual character development, but no characters are developing. Everyone is just doing what they do, and it's not even interesting. Characters are really only interesting when they do something unusual, or are put in situations that force them to act differently. Which is what I mean about stagnation in these shows. The main characters just do what they do, and watching them do it can sometimes be interesting, but . . . It's like watching a person put together a puzzle. It's more fun to help, and barring that, it's more fun to watch a brilliant person flounder than do their job well. More awkward, please!

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