It’s All About Character

I did not watch the new Two and a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher because once I heard they were going to kill Charlie Harper, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t care for Charlie Sheen, but Charlie Harper was rather loveable in a way. He had a heart of gold beneath all that wildness. He might have been a womanizing jerk, but he was also a good guy when it counted.

I’ve watched a lot of this show in reruns because it happens to be on at a time of day when the Hubby and I are relaxing together once he comes home from work. I admit it took me a little bit to warm up to the show, but then I began to see the humor in it.

And I liked all the characters for who they were. They were always true to themselves, no matter how screwed up they might be. Alan messing up a relationship with a woman because she told him that Judith said Herb was the best lover she’d ever had. Charlie wanting so desperately to keep random women on the string but cutting them all loose because he truly loved Chelsea. Herb and Alan finding common ground through their relationship with Judith.

I probably haven’t seen any of the last season’s episodes, so I can’t say whether or not the show was growing stale, but I’m really irritated at what the writers did to get rid of Charlie. They weren’t true to his character, no matter how funny they tried to make it. Charlie Harper was a good guy. But they forgot they were supposed to be writing for Charlie Harper’s exit and instead wrote one for Charlie Sheen. Because Chuck Lorre was pissed at Sheen and wanted to prove he was the guy in control.

Well, yeah, he is the guy in control. But I think he’s shot himself in the foot with this one. You have to be true to the character. And he wasn’t. I’ve read the reviews, and apparently the funeral was a big joke. Alan didn’t cry? Really? The guy who cried when he got sex for the first time in ages didn’t cry when his brother died? And Jake might be nothing more than a teenager who wants to eat all the time, but he actually loved his Uncle Charlie as a kid. Would he really not feel even a shred of remorse? Or how about Charlie’s mother?

She was always portrayed as a cold bitch, but would the woman who once stood on Charlie’s balcony and told him that she was going home because he’d just said he loved her and he could only screw it up from there really only be concerned about selling his house?

I just can’t buy it, and I won’t be tuning in. If I’d been in charge, I’d have replaced Charlie Sheen with another actor. I’d have let Charlie Harper go on living and fornicating and doing all the usual stuff he did. I can like Charlie Harper without liking Charlie Sheen (who I believe is not a nice man at all). Soap operas had a knack for replacing characters. At the beginning of an episode, they would announce “Today, the part of Storm Handsome-Moneybags is being played by Joe Fabulous.” And the show would go on.

Maybe Two and a Half Men is done. Maybe it was already growing old and stale and its time was up anyway. But it’s definitely up for me. I can’t watch it now because I can’t forgive the writers (Lorre in particular) for cheating their character and making it personal. It just isn’t the same show anymore, no matter how young and handsome Ashton Kutcher is (without the long hair and beard – don’t know what’s up with that, but it’s not flattering).

Maybe replacing Sheen with another actor wouldn’t have worked either, but at least Charlie Harper would have still had a chance to get things right in his life before the show ended. The lesson here for writers, I believe, is to think long and hard about what you do to your characters. Make sure it fits their character and is fair to who they are. I’ve killed off my characters when I was sick to death of them, but that was only for me because I deleted all that stuff and continued on with the story.

You have to be true to your characters! You’ve set them up to be someone, with flaws and wants and needs, and you can’t thwart that at the end or you risk alienating your readers. I suppose it’s different for television writers, when an actor becomes the embodiment of the creation, but the viewers still fall in love with the characters and expect justice for them in the end.

I don’t like what they did to Charlie Harper, but I had no say in it. Now, for God’s sake Chuck Lorre, don’t you dare kill off Sheldon or Leonerd or Raj or Howard or Penny! Or Amy or Bernadette!

Me on TV

Romance writers converged on the Huntsville Public Library. And I was interviewed (albeit briefly). I did not pass out. I did not fall apart. Whew! (That’s me on the right in pink. Kira Sinclair is sitting beside me.)

Idol thoughts

Some years I watch American Idol, and some I don’t. This year, Hubby wanted to watch it so we started at the beginning and we’re still watching. And I have to say, after Hollywood week where I thought they really did have some awesome voices picked out, it’s been pretty blah. NO ONE knocked it out of the park on either night. There are some talented kids, and much Idol left to come, so anything can happen. But though I like some of them a lot, I don’t have a lot of hope this will be a stellar year.

I hate, hate, hate having to listen to FOUR judges critiques. And I have no idea how this show will survive without Simon. Prickly though he is, he seems to be the only one who hears the truth. I usually agree with him, though not always (he wasn’t big on David Cook to begin with a couple of seasons ago, and I loved David from the start).

I think I’ve finally figured Idol out, though. Maybe you already knew, but it hit me last night what the show really is. It’s a very expensive, very flashy karaoke contest. In 8 years (not counting this year just yet), they’ve only found two really viable stars who are still relevant today. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood still make hits, and they aren’t in danger of their careers fading anytime soon. You could even argue that Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert will continue to shine (I really think Adam will), and though I still have hope for David Cook, he hasn’t launched out of the mid-list singers yet.

But what about all those talented kids who were in the top 12, or the top 24, who you never hear from again? Apparently, a good voice is a dime a dozen. It’s that extra something that takes them above the level of really awesome karaoke singer. And very, very few of them have it.

America gets into the drama of the season, the stories, the idea that someone’s life will be forever changed by winning this contest. But then next year rolls around and we forget, or lose interest, in the previous year’s winner (and all the finalists). This is entertainment, pure and simple. It’s not really about launching a superstar — because the chances the winner will be a superstar aren’t great. Taylor Swift is a superstar (not that I understand it), and she didn’t need a contest to get her there. Miley Cyrus. The Black-Eyed Peas. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. The list could go on.

Whatever the reason, those singers have that something that Idol contestants, with rare exception, lack. I’ll keep watching, because it’s entertaining, but at least I know not to expect greatness anymore. This is the finest karaoke on the planet, but that’s pretty much all it is.

The exotic life of writers

So did you watch Castle last night? It’s about a best-selling bad boy mystery writer who ends up partnering with a female detective to solve a case. Someone is murdering people based on his books, so this is how he gets involved. And when they solve that case, he gets himself a position accompanying the detective for research purposes because he killed off his fictional detective and she’s the inspiration for a new one (so the series can continue, of course). (If you missed the episode and want to watch, you can do so for free here.)

Frankly, though it was over the top, I liked it. And I think it has potential. But what’s totally hilarious to me, and to all the writers I know, is the portrayal of the writing life. Nathan Fillion, aka Richard Castle, is a bad boy rock star kind of writer. He’s got book launch parties in swanky places, lots of money, a pen with which he signs bimbos’ chests (do they really read?), and a bad attitude about his fame. He’s friends with the mayor, and he sits around playing cards with Stephen J. Cannell and James Patterson. (And someone said the woman at the table was Faye Kellerman.)

He’s so well connected he can get anything done, even leapfrog the slow and frustrating process of getting CSI results from the lab. Which of course pisses off the detective. He has money to burn and enough self-love to make him charming in spite of himself. (And, we suspect, a core of misery.) Somehow, in between all this partying and fun, he’s managed to write a whole lot of bestselling mysteries that are known for their attention to detail. Even the medical examiner is a fan.

But what I really love is the writing = glamour aspect. The portrayal of Castle’s life just reinforces what the public already believes about writers. Rich, connected, got it made. I ROFL, of course, because I am none of these things. People at my husband’s work actually thought he was going to retire now that I’ve sold a book. Excuse me while I roll around on the floor in hysterics.

MOST writers don’t live this charming, exotic life. We are ordinary people with ordinary incomes. Being a published writer doesn’t make you rich. It makes you like everyone else out there, worrying about expenses and hoping to make enough to cover them. Or, in my case since I have a wonderfully supportive hubby with a good job, making enough to cover my writing expenses, save for our retirement, and take some lovely vacations.

Even if I had Castle’s money and connections, I doubt I’d want to do any of that stuff he does. I’d much rather be holed up in my office, working on my next book, than chasing criminals or attending ritzy parties.

Did you watch Castle? What did you think? Do you like shows about writers? My mom loves Murder She Wrote. Jessica seems to have a more ordinary life by contrast, and yet everyone the poor woman knows always gets killed. The shows are campy, but fun. Castle was a bit campy too, but I think it can get better. (My first choice, of course, would be to have Fillion back on the set of Firefly, but I don’t think that will ever happen now. Darn TV execs. They’ll probably cancel this one too, just as soon as people fall in love with it.)

Oops

It’s no longer Friday, is it? Lots of busyness here, including some revisions and a new proposal.

How did you like the Oscars? Wasn’t Hugh just to die for? Oh that man is gorgeous! And he can sing and dance. Gracious. I haven’t watched the Oscars in years — but, well, it was Hugh. And he didn’t disappoint.

Here’s Hugh preparing for the big night. OMG, look at those ARMS! Big, big sigh. 🙂

The Man Cave

Here is Hubby’s new media room. I was a bit wary about black on the ceiling. Okay, seriously wary. But he insisted that a theater needed a dark ceiling to absorb light (this is also why the screen wall is black). And then of course there was the complimentary color because no way is the whole room going to be black.

Enter Eddie from Sherwin Williams, who definitely saved the day with his recommendation of “Red Bay.”

I love it. I think it turned out wonderfully. We still have decorating to do, and there’s a pool table and bar in the future, but watching television in here is awesome. The sound is amazing, the colors really make it seem like a theater, and the popcorn machine is fun.

So, after 22 years of moving around in the military, the man finally has his cave. He deserves it. 🙂 But, uh, honey, can I have the girls over for a chick flick…?