9/03/2011

Good Riddance to a Former Fave...

The cast of HawthoRNe
I'll admit to a guilty pleasure. Despite the horrid acting and writing I got hooked on HawthoRNe, the Jada Pinkett-Smith vehicle on TNT. It's hard to explain why I first started watching. Perhaps it was summer and there just weren't enough quality shows on. Perhaps catching it at 2am on a rebroadcast lowers the mind's critical functions. Who knows?

But get hooked I did. I followed the trials and tribulations of the "CEO of Nursing" who did anything and everything in her hospital from running traumas to assisting in surgery. She was always up against the uncaring and dogmatic administration who were just interested in "bottom lines." In short, she was superwoman in heels and a borrowed stethoscope.

The first two seasons were somewhat watchable. The stories were episodic without huge seasonal dramatic arcs. Despite being galaxies away from real hospital life (I know from where I speak there), the show was at least entertaining and if you tried really, really hard you could suspend your disbelief long enough to get into it.

Then the third season happened. I tuned in again expecting another somewhat light entertainment with almost humorous jabs at drama. What I got was a cross between the "Cross and the Switchblade" and a Tyler Perry gospel drama.

The season launched with a pregnant and newly married Christine getting attacked in a parking garage. Then she has an affair with the cop who kills the guy who attacked her. Then she, her new husband (who seems to hate her and she hate him half the time) get investigated along with her adulterous friend by Bill Engvall. Yes, that Bill Engvall - "here's your sign!" Then her daughter gets caught up with a haughty born again Christian who's going through a divorce but is oh so moral in every other way. Then the weirdness really begins. Baptisms in water fountains, preachy "spiritual" messages in every episode, the whole Tyler Perry style "Jesus and God love me despite all my foibles" saccharine neo-gospel of wealth African-American traveling stage show garbage.

Halfway through the season (just after the first baptism in a water fountain) they lost me. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief. The characters became a bunch of screwed up hypocrites who wore spirituality and religion like a shield against their own unlikeable qualities. A show that was never really too good became a train wreck.

Undoubtedly, TNT and a lot of other people agreed. The show was cancelled for a fourth season with little ceremony. It ended this season at the bottom of the ratings and much like her character Christine Hawthorne, Jada Pinkett-Smith has gone out in a blaze of rumors of sexual pecadilloes with her co-star Marc Anthony. Ironically, the same actor who played her on-screen adulterous friend.

I say good riddance. Perhaps, Ms. Pinkett-Smith, who was at the helm of her own show, will learn that when you have limited scripts and limited premises that you can't inflict your audience with preachy episodes about people who are no longer even moderately sympathetic.

Jada, if you want to see how to make a villain sympathetic and even appealing, I suggest you visit the set of Nurse Jackie and talk to the folks over there.

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