Sunday, December 19, 2010

When the circle goes full

One of my favorite television shows growing up was Melrose Place. It was the first show I became truly addicted to. The premise of the show was all the characters that lived in this apartment complex down the street from Beverly Hills 90210. They all had dreams and aspirations, some further in their careers than others. I remember season one every episode either ended at a bar named Shooters where they all shared a beer and a laugh or at the courtyard pool where the ladies lounged and the men swam. By season two they were all suspecting someone was cheating with their boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, Shooters was shown only when the dirt was being dished, and most of the boring characters had been written out. By season three they were all conspiring a homicide of some sort and the pool was responsible for half the casts deaths. It was a hell of a lot more interesting show once they starting whacking people. Without Michael Mancini that show would have been cancelled two episodes in.

It was interesting when they tried to bring that show back. I never watched the new version even though I believe Michael Mancini made a few appearances. It's tough to go back. The cast is always changing, the plot lines are not as engaging, and the good actors left or were fired years ago. The actors who got a taste of fame in the first couple of seasons of the old Melrose saw that fame disappear immediately when they tried to branch out into "real" acting roles. People wanted the soap opera and after they introduced Sydney no one even remembered the blonde that Michael was married to before. Her storyline was kind of a sad afterthought. The people that left the show for greener pastures and Hollywood feature films occasionally appear on a Lifetime movie reruns from the early 2000's. Luke Perry left Dylan McKay in 1995 to pursue his "professional" career only to gratefully jump back into his role in 90210 three years later.

People leave and come back, sometimes to great success and sometimes to epic failure. Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls after three titles to go play baseball. He was the only one to return from a sudden retirement to reappear even better in winning three more afterwards. Most returns aren't as successful. That same Jordan's disastrous Washington Wizards comeback proves there is a limit. Allen Iverson's return to the 76ers was a failure and he is now waiting tables in Istanbul somewhere, possibly at a bar called Shooters. Jason Giambi's return to the Oakland A's was a disappointment as are most returns by sports hero's when their careers have faded from their glory days. Not many athletes return in their prime, they usually return in a former caricature of themselves like Ken Griffey Jr's in Seattle. We look at their brilliance from yesterday and unfairly compare them to it, full well understanding they can't be that player they once were but also saddened that they are not.

When political leaders return it can be just as nostalgic. People gather behind a candidate from their youth and hope to recapture those same feelings they once had. As if the person they are supporting has not changed with age themselves and that conditions remain the same. Time changes everyone and events change, when the candidate is steadfast in their old ways we punish them by telling them they are not adaptable (even though those where the qualities we admired). When they do change with the times we punish them by saying they are not the candidate we remembered at all and are selling out for their own interests. They are in a situation they can't possibly win because the past does not equal the future, good or bad.

It does, however, feel good to be back in familiar territory. There is something to be said of past success equaling the potential for future success. It's not a bad thing to be comfortable. We can't all be leading men in the movies. There needs to be that Michael Mancini that watches all the new characters walk in through those doors at Melrose with big dreams and aspirations and who watches those same people fade out into the sunset in pursuit of their own starring roles somewhere else. Hopefully it is not on a street corner in West Hollywood.