Entertainment trends are a funny thing. Horror movie releases have slowed to a trickle, whereas a decade ago there was a new one in theaters every week. But horror TV shows were rare then, whereas today, the boob tube is covered with them. Even though horror is still scarier on the big screen for obvious reasons, TV is making a strong case as a home for horror in 2015 — some of the best horror TV ever made, actually.
On the May 20 episode of “Fargo,” we see the step-by-step process by which Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) breaks out of his hospital room, switching spots with his nearly comatose roommate in order to be safely wheeled past the security guard. Then we see how Lester’s absence (he goes off to plant murder evidence in his brother’s house) goes undiscovered thanks to the somewhat flighty – but humorously so — nurse. In the episode’s final shot, Lester is back in his hospital bed, mission accomplished, and he gives an end-of-“Psycho”-type smile to viewers. But we aren’t shown 1) how he sneaks past the police officer guarding his room, or 2) how the hospital staff deals with their discovery that the near-comatose patient was in Lester’s bed.
The recent return of “24” further solidifies that this is an age of shock-value TV, where the body count of main characters is more valued than good character building. But TV’s reputation as a character medium isn’t dead yet. Here are 10 reasons why:
I have a friend, Shaune, who’s a big horror movie fan, but he has found the current character stuff on “The Walking Dead” rather boring. This is understandable: Television has never been able to be as flat-out scary as movies. There’s something about a dark theater, big screen and big sound. Plus, weirdly, the fact that characters are more secondary (and disposable) in movies than on TV helps the scare factor. When watching an “X-Files” monster-of-the-week, for example, you don’t have to worry that Mulder or Scully will be killed off. When watching a horror movie, everyone’s expendable.
As the 2012-13 season winds down, here are my top 10 TV characters, some of whom will be featured in season finales this month, and some of whom have already bid adieu for the summer:
10. Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster), “Bunheads” — Despite (or perhaps due to) coming from a theatrical background, Foster has joined “Gilmore Girls’ “ Lauren Graham in the exclusive club of leading ladies who can handle Amy Sherman-Palladino’s dialogue while also developing a character.
In 1999, Thomas Harris’ novel “Hannibal,” the third of the now-four-part book series, was all the rage among my friends, who passed the hardcover around. For whatever reason — probably because I had seen the movie “The Silence of the Lambs” (the most famous of the five Hannibal Lecter movies) and found it boring — I haven’t read any of Harris’ books.
You’re welcome to post comments on why these movies are great, but please don’t bother to call me names. You can’t make me feel worse than I already do. I know I am supposed to like these movies; I know you love them, I know my ignorance insults you, and I apologize for not being able to love them, too.