Shawn Ryan, Showrunners and the “Moonlight Graham Test”
a little March midnight mailbag madness…
Jesus! First Terriers, now The Chicago Code might be in trouble? I just watched tonight’s The Chicago Code and it was AWESOME. Why do you hate Shawn Ryan!!?? What did he ever do to you? Don’t you realize how much harder your blog makes it for him to manage the people on the show and keep them upbeat?
Add FX’s Lights Out into the mix and it’s just an absolutely travesty and tragedy that the best shows on television go relatively unwatched while crap like NCIS, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory are so highly rated. How does it feel to be the purveyors of doom when it comes to the best shows on television!? Do you ever even wince when you see the ratings? Don’t you feel bad for Ryan and the guy who makes Lights Out, in general, let alone for taking such joy in the low ratings?
Los Angeles, CA
Don’t mistake headlines like “XYZ Tumbles 14%” as anything other than life as a web publisher. Personally, I’d have taken far more joy in writing headlines like “‘The Chicago Code’ Shoots Back, Rises 25%” and “‘Lights Out’ Punches Back with 50% Increase.” The chips didn’t fall that way. At this point we’re resigned to sometimes being shot as the messenger. We can live with that.
We’re fortunate to live in a system where people are entitled to pursue their dreams. There are billions of people who don’t have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, let alone fail. Getting to make a TV show that winds up with so-so or bad ratings obviously isn’t the ideal outcome, but it’s hardly a tragedy.
I don’t know Shawn Ryan, but I definitely don’t hate him. What I see of his Internet persona I really enjoy. Otherwise, all the guy has ever done to me was to be involved with making shows from Nash Bridges to The Shield to Terriers and The Chicago Code that have entertained me for hundreds of hours. I wished Terriers had rated better and I wished I was more optimistic about The Chicago Code. And I too have enjoyed Warren Leight’s Lights Out (just watched the finale) a lot. I know some readers disagree, but I think Holt McCallany has been pretty awesome as Patrick “Lights” Leary (and Eamonn Walker was amazing as trainer Ed Romeo).
Since all of the episodes of The Chicago Code have been filmed, Mr. Ryan probably doesn’t have to worry much about keeping the team upbeat. But even if they were still in production, to go all Hyman Roth on you, this is the business they have chosen.
I have never regularly watched The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men, but I’m an NCIS fan. I get that there are those who think all TV, or at least more of it, should be Mad Men (which I love), but I don’t think NCIS is crap just because it aims for a broader target and hits the bullseye.
Sometimes, yep, I do wince at the ratings. But when it comes to Shawn Ryan, it’s more of an Archibald “Moonlight” Graham situation (but the fictionalized “Field of Dreams” version ) for me. Moonlight Graham got to do something he loved for decades and then was lucky enough to come back from the dead as a youthful version of himself and live out another dream, if only briefly. Did I wince when young Archie Graham gave the dream up when he crossed the gravel threshold so he could save the little girl? Of course I did!
When asked to consider the woes of others, I run it through the Moonlight Graham filter first and ask myself “Is their situation worse than Moonlight Graham’s when he was faced with the decision of whether or not to cross the gravel?” If the answer is “no” I don’t consider it any further.
Everyone’s entitled to reach their own conclusions, but Moonlight Graham didn’t have it bad. Neither do Shawn Ryan and Warren Leight. However it goes for them with their current shows, unlike Moonlight Graham, I’d bet on them getting another at bat.