Rite Of 'Passage': Why I'm Rooting For Network TV

I find myself lately rooting for network television. I find myself hoping it won't die.

I want television supported by commercials to live, prosper and continue. I resent TV I have to pay for.

If this labels me as old-fashioned, then so be it. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” goes the famous poem by Dylan Thomas, and this is what I intend to do.

For some reason, I am seized with a desire to not allow TV -- by which I mean real TV, the one characterized by the interplay between TV shows and the commercials within them -- to “go gently into that good night.”

As a result, I am coming to a new point of view where the reviewing of some TV shows is concerned.

It is not that I am going soft or becoming a cheerleader for everything the ad-supported broadcast and basic-cable networks throw at us. But maybe I am becoming willing to relax some of my standards just a wee bit.



Take this week's new pandemic drama “The Passage,” premiering Monday night on Fox. It has flaws that I will not shy away from pointing out, at least in my humble opinion (IMHO, as they say).

For openers, this show seems to consist of two stories, with one of them holding my attention much more than the other -- so much so that I found myself wishing the show would dispense with the one and focus entirely on the other (not that I have any idea how this would be accomplished).

The two stories are these: In one of them, the government (nefarious, secretive and deadly, as usual) has set up a top-secret facility in which it is experimenting on humans in an effort to halt the spread of a lethal disease that so far has broken out only in China.

The human guinea pigs they have selected are a small handful of people who appear to be undead vampires.

This creates a number of inconveniences, but the biggest problem is that the government's experiments on these individuals are not succeeding at arriving at a cure or preventive vaccine for this pandemic disease.

What the project needs, say the nefarious, secretive and deadly people who are running this lab located in Telluride, is a child guinea pig for reasons that have something to do with a child's metabolism or some such.

It's all a bunch of clichéd gobbledygook combining aspects of numerous past movies and TV shows about pandemics, ethically challenged scientists, and homicidal zombies and vampires.

But then the story morphs into the tale of this child, played by an astonishing child actress named Saniyya Sidney, and the government agent (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who is supposed to bring her in but decides he doesn't have the heart to turn her over to a bunch of government Mengeles.

Naturally, when the agent and the 10-year-old take it on the lam, heavily armed government agents trained in special operations tactics are in hot pursuit in a fleet of huge, gas-guzzling SUVs with tinted windows.

Luckily, the Gosselaar character happens to be a former special ops operative himself, and he is particularly skilled at evading capture when he is vastly outnumbered and being shot at by multiple assailants -- even when they, too, share his expertise.

The show's many scenes that feature just Gosselaar and his precocious young co-star are by far the best sequences in the show.

They are far more attractive than any of the portions of the show’s parallel storyline in the government laboratory.

This scenario -- in which great forces of the government are on the trail of this poor unfortunate child in order to use her for heinous experiments -- is ludicrous.

When watching this, this thought might occur to you, as it did to me: Why don't they just go and get some other kid? This one they are pursuing has no special characteristics, other than that she is an orphan with no family.

Despite the flaws inherent in this complex laboratory storyline, this odd couple on the run makes for a show worth watching. You might even want to root for them, and for network television too -- an industry that, against long odds, continues to try and try again.

“The Passage” premieres Monday (January 14) at 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox.

2 comments about "Rite Of 'Passage': Why I'm Rooting For Network TV".
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  1. Tim Brooks from consultant, January 14, 2019 at 11:50 a.m.

    Adam, it sounds as if buried within this mish-mash of cliches is a potentially thought-provoking story. If the choice is between experimenting on this child--terrible--or literally ensuring the death of all of civilization (including the child)--also terrible--then what do you do? Usually stories like this duck the question by introducing at the last minute some deux ex machina that allows our hero to save the child AND avoid the death of everyone. But what if that is not the choice? Now, that would be a story!

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 14, 2019 at 11:58 a.m.

    I’m OK, too, with ad-supported TV, as long as my U-verse remote has its skip-30 button for the DVR. 

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