Jonah Goldberg has a rare article at Commentary exploring how Bush Derangement Syndrome (as the good Dr. Krauthammer named the condition) derailed the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica after an auspicious debut.
It’s well worth reading, even if you never watched the new version of BSG. I never did, perhaps because I remember the original uber-cheesy Lorne Greene-era series all too painfully well. But of course, BDS virulently impacted all sorts of Hollywood products. I was a big fan of the original Law & Order back when it was a single show on NBC and not a brand name for a seemingly endless chain of semi-related crime dramas. As I wrote back in 2003 at Blogcritics, the Manhattan-based show began to lose its way when the GOP captured the House and Senate in 1994, George Pataki concurrently won the governorship of New York State, and Rudy Giuliani assuming the mayorship of New York City at the start of 1994.
As John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood, the mid-1990s was also about the same time that Law & Order promoted a new showrunner:
The program’s eventual deterioration was a case study in the boiling frog theory. The quality of the production and acting remained, but the politics slowly shifted to the far left almost without my noticing. And it wasn’t the actual politics that first became apparent; it was the negative effect of those politics on the quality of the storytelling.
The fun of the show, especially in those early seasons, was that you never knew how the story would end. Certainly, there were political moments, but the overriding theme of every episode was the determination of smart, dedicated people who carried a respect for the law doing their best to bring the guilty to justice. This was what the show was “about,” the agenda was to tell a helluva story, therefore the plot could go anywhere, and did.
But as the year 2000 closed in, this agenda slowly turned more towards the political, making the plot-twists predictable to the point that once the detectives interviewed a white businessman or anyone wearing a crucifix, the game was pretty much over. This all-too common phenomenon in all branches of fictional storytelling today is what I call the “Liberal Tell,” and the “Liberal Tell” sucks the suspense out of everything. Simply put: Once you understand the politics of the entertainment industry, you know the story can only conclude one way.
Living with the “Liberal Tell” is much easier than living with the “Leftist Sucker Punch,” and after September 11th, “Law & Order” went off the rails. Increasingly, and from out of nowhere, one of the show’s characters would invariably launch a jarring partisan shot at President Bush, the Iraq War, or the Patriot Act… and things quickly got to the point where sitting and waiting for the sucker shot made it impossible to relax and get lost in the show.
* * *
So what happened to this once must-see show whose ratings last season were less than half of their 2001 peak?
In two words: Rene Balcer.
Balcer not only co-wrote last week’s “Indict Cheney” episode, he’s been the show’s executive producer since 1996, and judging from this 2005 interview, what he calls “the so-called War on Terror” seems to have affected his approach to the show. He has nothing but contempt for the Bush Administration’s efforts to keep us safe and isn’t shy in stating how his show is used to promote his Bush Derangement propaganda:
Click over for videos of Balcer in action.
Even as movies tilted leftward beginning in the mid-to-late 1960s, television was still seen, even decades later, as being relatively apolitical. But political correctness, particularly during those periods when voters dare defy Hollywood’s wishes at the ballot box, has so seeped into Hollywood, that with few exceptions, it’s impossible to avoid.
Related: From Newsreal earlier this week: “Welcome to 1995: Sean Hannity Discovers Law and Order is ‘Politicized.'” Heh.™