Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On The Second Day Of Christmas...

My true love (TV) gave to me - Two couples doing it.

Ah unresolved sexual tension, that old favourite of series writers. Create that old "urge to merge" in the characters and make sure that the suckers viewers know about it. Then make sure that despite how much we want them to "bump uglies" there are compelling reasons why they don't. For the writers there's a compelling reason - I suspect that few of them have ever actually had a functioning relationship and so they wouldn't know how to write a believable one. Of course the writers will tell you that if characters consumate their relationship bad things will happen. Or to put it another way (and incidentally use a term that I abhor) the show will "jump the shark." I think I like my version better.

So one of the couples who came together in the past TV season wasn't really a surprise. That would be Josh and Donna on
The West Wing. The sexual tension had been there for quite a while. Joey Lucas apparently told Josh that Donna was in love with him back in Season 2 but things really started heating up after Aaron Sorkin left the show and John Wells took over as show runner. The tension became palpable when Donna left the White House to join the Russell campaign and she became "forbidden fruit." After she came to work on the Santos campaign things heated up and they consumated their relationship (twice) during the first part of the "Election" episode. But of course that was a show moving to its end so it was following the normal trend for unresolved sexual tension.\\ The coupling that really surprised people happened on CSI. At the end of the Season 6 finale "Way To Go" we see Gil Grissom in his bedroom apparently talking to some unseen person. Grissom is reclining on his bed, wearing a robe and talking about how he'd prefer to die of some slow cause like cancer so that he can do things that he's never done before or wants to do again. As the camera's perspective changes we discover who he's talking to. It's Sara Sidle, also dressed in a robe. Their comfort with each other indicated that we weren't seeing the start of the affair.

There was a big difference between the reaction that the two scenes received. Fans of The West Wing reacted in much the same way as Bradley Whitford's mother when he told her that he'd "spent the day in bed with a beautiful woman." She said "It's about time," and so did a lot of fans of the show. We wanted Josh to come to his senses finally. The reaction to the relationship between Grissom and Sara was far different - it was downright hostile. Even though there had been hints of a romantic attraction between the two going back several seasons the actual revelation of their affair shocked a lot of people who were pulling for other "candidates." Chief among them was the dominatrix Lady Heather (although I confess I was hoping he'd become involved with Catherine Willows, his right hand woman). Part of the reaction is probably because of the characters' comparative ages - Sara was one of Gil's students - and I suspect that part of it is that some people don't think that characters in procedurals shouldn't have their personal lives revealed. Even so, with the relationship being rarely referred to much less shown, the resolution of the sexual tension doesn't seem to have hurt the series much at all.

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