As drama goes, it was pretty bad. As comedy goes, it was pretty bad. Let's face it, is anyone really surprised about what's happened in Washington over the past month? Sure, TV was saturated by coverage of the shutdown, the near-default, and the endless bickering. But it wasn't a good show. Sure, we got a few good laugh lines at the end, but they were just too predictable. It was too much like Thursday night at NBC.
It wasn't Breaking Bad. It was more like Brooklyn Nine Nine. Everyone knows about Breaking Bad, one of the greatest dramas ever. One of the best things about Breaking Bad was that the story was not predictable. Sure, you knew from the beginning that Walter White was doomed, but you never knew what would happen along the way, and you enjoyed the surprises. Great script-writing is like that.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is said by critics to be one of the better new network shows this year. Which is like saying that Peter King is one of the better Republicans in the House -- true in comparison, but I still wouldn't vote for him. Brooklyn Nine Nine is a cop comedy. I watched one episode and it was plenty. The gimmick, I suppose, is that the show is non-stop one liners. Hardly any joke takes even five seconds from start to finish. It's like open mike night, nonstop jokes, not much story. But they're mostly not funny, and they're just awfully predictable. Even a joke needs an element of surprise; you shouldn't be calling them out before they even happen.
The show runner for this year's season of Government Shutdown was Ted "Carnival" Cruz. He's no Vince Gilligan. He craves attention but his antics are all too predictable. And of course his followers have no improvisational skills either. Teabaggers can't improvise; they live to obey authority.
Let's recap the season. Back in the summer, with October 1 and October 17 deadlines looming, Ted did a star turn as Senator Speaker of the House. Okay, that's a novel high concept -- why would a Senator boss around the House of Representatives, and why would the House accept it? And a freshman to boot! Okay, the script should have not gotten greenlighted, but they're desperate down at the networks, and tasteless. So this moved ahead. Predictably, though. The surprise star was President Obama in his role as Man With Spine, a role he didn't play in the 2011 season.
Since President Obama didn't play Cave Man this time, Ted's minions couldn't cope, so we entered a new season of America Held Hostage. And hilarity ensued as the hostage takers kept reducing their demands. They moved from taking control mode (hey, it worked in the 2011 season) to saving face mode, ending up in total surrender mode. But again the script became predictable, as the Democrats, as the new stars of The Party Grows A Pair, stared them down. I suppose the bit of dramatic tension was wondering if they'd go off script again, but they didn't.
Then as the default deadline loomed, we were treated to a new episode of Adult In The Room, this time set in the Senate. Since the theme of the season was "don't give in", Harry Reid's role, while rather novel for him, was not terribly surprising. Susan Collins played her usual role as Token Moderate, though it turned out to be little more than a cameo. Finally, the scene we were all waiting for, so predictable that even Disney Channel writers could have written it between episodes of Even Stevens, played out exactly when expected: Crybaby, starring John of Orange, found the title character being propped up by the opposition as his own party melted down in disarray.
The stories are just too predictable these days in Hollywood-on-the-Potomac. But at least the clown show this time ended up with the pies in the right faces.