June is running out of steam and summer is in full swing. Naturally, the time is ripe for TV networks to begin promoting their fall programming.
One fresh entry offers a new take on the common-as-air police procedural drama. Fox’s “New Amsterdam” chronicles the life of John Amsterdam, a New York City homicide detective “cursed with immortality because he stopped the murder of a Native Indian schoolgirl in 1642 by stepping in front of a sword.”
This show is the latest in a string wherein the main character’s name appears in the title as part of a cliché or idiom. Other prime(time) examples: “Grey’s Anatomy” (Dr. Meredith Grey), “Saving Grace” (Det. Grace Hanadarko), “Crossing Jordan” (Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh) and “King of the Hill” (Hank Hill).
I haven’t decided whether this convention is clever and catchy – or indulgent and irritating ... just like newspaper and magazine articles with gaggingly cute headlines. (So help me, if I see another environmentally friendly piece titled “It’s easy bein’ green,” I can only pray I’m close to a defibrillator.)
Nevertheless, I understand why TV scriptwriters do this, because the daily pressure to join old words in new ways can be grueling. And it’s a surprisingly easy approach to developing concepts.
Play along at home by brainstorming a list of popular phrases and then imagining how each one could play out on the small screen. Consider, if you will, my humble contributions:
- “Pike’s Peak,” with Julia Pike as an overachieving businesswoman whose just-as-she-likes-it life is upended by the arrival of her estranged sister’s precocious teenage daughter (as if there’s any other kind of teenage daughter on TV).
- “Lame Duck,” featuring James ‘The Duck’ Duckworth as a cutthroat, jerky-but-genius litigator who juggles intense career pressures while dealing with a mangled right leg. (Think “House” in a courtroom.)
- “Robert’s Rules of Order,” about U.S. Sen. Robert T. McAllister, a political heavyweight who is being groomed for the presidency – but whose personal life is secretly in shambles. (You see, the title is ironic.)
Like ’em? Have your people call my people …. We’ll do lunch.