TV’s Wedding Game


By Susan JAMES

It may be the beginning of autumn but orange blossoms are in the air. On popular long-running TV shows like “Bones,” “The Mentalist” and “Castle,” producers are taking storylines to bold new places they’ve rarely gone before.

A terrible curse has finally been broken. Once upon a time this curse was known as the Moonlighting Curse. Named for the 1980s detective series “Moonlighting,” starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, it was a series that had the bad judgment to bring the two leads together in one episode and then break them up in the next. Viewers were outraged, ratings plummeted, the show was cancelled and an urban legend was born. If two will-they-or-won’t-they leads came together, so the industry believed, it would be the end of
the show.

Wrong. Shattering the curse once and for all, “Bones” showrunner Hart Hanson and his writers at Fox brought their leads, Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) together three seasons ago. Not only have they been a couple all that time, they’ve had a baby as well. Ratings are solid and on Monday, Oct. 21, the two will walk down the aisle for a highly anticipated wedding, not at the end of the series but near the beginning of season 9 with season 10 waiting in the wings. Is this a win for shippers (those emotionally invested in an on-screen relationship)? You bet it is.

Other shows have taken note of the “Bones” success. On Sunday, “The Mentalist” on CBS threw a wedding for long time on-again, off-again lovers, Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti). Here again, “Bones” pioneered the path by joining their secondary characters Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (T. J. Thynne) in holy matrimony the season before their principal ones. Does the wedding of secondary characters Rigsby and Van Pelt signal future nuptials for “The Mentalist” Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and long-time partner, CBI detective Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) Jisbon shippers are hoping so.

Over on ABC’s “Castle,” showrunner Andrew Marlowe and his writing crew have followed in the “Bones” footsteps and had the show’s two main characters, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), get engaged in the sixth season opener. Caskett shippers are now feverishly working the blogs figuring the odds on an early Caskett wedding. But Marlowe isn’t spilling his plans for his couple any time soon although he has squashed any idea that having finally brought them together there might be a plan to break them up.

This is the new reality for romance in a scripted TV drama. According to “Bones” producer Stephen Nathan, the plan is to respect the relationship. That means no “Moonlighting” togetherness one week followed by a messy break-up the next all in the name of Drama. And what of “Elementary” shippers who want to see Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) dance the tango together? According to show producers, they plan to respect that relationship as well, implying that the original Holmes and Watson managed to do without a romantic connection. But when you cast an attractive, needy Holmes next to an exquisite, compassionate Watson, unforeseen consequences can happen.

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