If there’s anything I learned in 2010, it’s that everything can change in a moment. We can be struggling to find our way one minute, only to find ourselves planted on a beautiful path in the next. On the other hand, we can be sure that life couldn’t get any better than it is right now, only to find it out of control with the next breath. As much as I believe in and am grateful for the life of faith, having faith doesn’t change the reality that everyday life is essentially an unknown.
When it comes to television viewing, we’re not that much better off. 2010 brought with it some good moments, drama, laughs and everything in between. Think back, say, a month or so to when our favorite TV shows were giving us something other than reheated leftovers … what was your favorite television moment of 2010? Mine was probably either Glee’s “Regionals” episode, or any show-closing family togetherness scene from Parenthood. What can I say? I like a little schmaltz.
Wherever we found them, our favorite television moments of 2010 are gone. It’s a new year now. Who is to say whether the next moment—the 2011 moment—will change everything? This phenomenon can happen at any time to any show for almost any reason, a necessary change of cast or storyline or a creative choice that pushes the envelope to its breaking point. However, there are two shows set to premiere new seasons in 2011 that are uniquely poised at the crossroads of the unknown.
The winter finale of USA’s Burn Notice got Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) back into the CIA and us wondering where the show will go from here. Michael didn’t exactly look thrilled, so maybe his second shot at a CIA career will be short-lived. Whether the CIA career lasts or it doesn’t, Burn Notice will almost certainly require a plot overhaul. Getting back to his job as a spy has been the long-term goal that supplied both direction and tension for Michael and crew from day one. With that goal apparently achieved, we will have to wait and see if Burn Notice will thrive on the adaptation or jump the shark in its native Miami waters.
Before we can find out, we have to get through the winter months. We’ll need some entertainment along the way, and there will be no shortage with all our favorites returning from holiday break and a few January series premieres (NBC’s The Cape looks potentially interesting.) And then … and then, there’s American Idol. I’m pretty sure American Idol has been threatening a shark-jump for at least three seasons anyway, and in 2011, with Simon Cowell officially gone, there’s nothing to stop it. All that remains to be seen is if the addition of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler is enough to push American Idol over the final edge.
As we embrace this new year, we have established that life, and television within it, is an unknown. And as I said in the beginning, faith doesn’t change this reality. Faith does, however, keep us grounded when everything else is changing around us. Faith does give us a lens through which to view all of life, including television. Faith does give us a stronger and deeper basis for life choices and decisions than “what would [insert your favorite television character’s name here] do?" So … Happy New Year! Watch a little TV. Have a little faith. And hold on for the ride that is life.
Rachel Decker writes a bi-weekly column about television for RELEVANTmagazine.com. Check out her blog at http://racheldeckerspeaks.com/