Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Lord and David Caruso

Over at Popdose I recently wrote about David Caruso and the similarity of his career and Jack Lord's, not to mention their acting styles when you compare Caruso on CSI: Miami with Lord on Hawaii Five-O. (Unfortunately for me, other people noticed before I did. How dare they.) At Popdose I failed to cover one aspect of those shows that is worth mentioning here: Caruso and Lord both play characters who are single, and if they somehow miraculously find themselves in a relationship, it's often over after a few episodes or even before the first commercial break (see: "Man in a Steel Frame," from Five-O's ninth season). But it's not enough for Horatio Caine (Caruso) or Steve McGarrett (Lord) to break up with their partners or be dumped by themno, their girlfriends or newlywed wives have to be murdered to make our favorite TV cops understand that work is their wife and solving crimes is their sexual release. If they aren't completely fulfilled when they collar bad guys, then they ain't good supercops!

But maybe the real reason why dedicated detectives like Caine and McGarrett stay single for the majority of their shows' lengthy runs is because they're not written as three-dimensional characters to begin with, and watching these half-man, half-robot creations negotiate the hazards of a long-term committed relationship would unnerve viewers much more than a simulated TV murder or autopsy. We like our emotionless, paradise-patrolling TV cops to have only one gun in their pants, thank you very much. (To be fair, McGarrett's second in command, Dan "Danno" Williams, played by James MacArthur, was more of a robot than McGarrett; if he had two facial expressions, I must've missed the second one. But according to a friend of mine, even Danno fell in love once, only to see his girlfriend be introduced and killed off all in one episode.)


  1. Jack Lord and James MacArthur were anything but robots. It's not too hard to watch them and listen to them and see they had different facial expressions and showed emotions, and spoke with different tones of voice. Having a girlfriend/wife makes a character three-dimensional? When did that memo come out?

  2. "Having a girlfriend/wife makes a character three-dimensional?"

    It doesn't hurt. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes it's just less.