Series and Season Ending Thoughts
On Wednesday night, we bid farewell to Betty Suarez and began learning the truth about Christopher Chance. Both Ugly Betty and Human Target ended their seasons and it’s a good time to reflect on their accomplishments.
Ugly Betty began as the Americanized version of the popular Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea (I am Betty, the ugly). American Ferrara was cast as Betty and was never allowed to look as unattractive as the original, compensating with a loud, shrill voice and incredibly poor taste in wardrobe. The show was largely a fish out of water story as she went to work as administrative assistant to the playboy publisher of Mode, the iconic fashion magazine. Often the glossy façade of the magazine, its staff and its audience was contrasted with the more humble immigrant roots of the Suarez family.
Across the four seasons, the worlds grew closer and closer, meshing more often than they probably should have, so in time seeing Daniel Meade in the humble Queens home looked as natural as Betty’s garish sister Hilda looked hanging out at the Mode offices. All too often, the seemingly simplistic Suarez family taught the Meades and their satellite friends lessons, but never were lessons learned in the reverse.
The show played fast and loose with reality, with perhaps the greatest fiction being how a magazine and magazine empire were really run. It was cheerfully over-the-top and for the most past remained happily in that rarefied air.
Thankfully, when the ratings slid hard this season, ABC gave showrunner Silvio Horta plenty of notice so all the dangling plot lines could be tidied up. You could feel the closing process begin weeks ago, especially with encore visits from former regulars. Betty had to complete her journey, grow up, and move on, achieving her dream. The final hour rushed a few threads to an odd conclusion, and then let everyone say farewell.
In the original series finale, Betty married her philandering boss and here, out of the blue, Daniel began to exhibit feelings for his former assistant. Coming in the final minutes of the series, it felt false, tacked on and not at all natural. I was pleased that Daniel was making an effort to handle this potential romance with patience so the show ended on an optimistic note. The final scene showed Betty strolling through London and the title card came on, then the word Ugly vanished. The ugly duckling became the attractive, confident swan and the last image we had was just the name Betty.
Meantime, Fox’s Human Target debuted only this year and had a short season but has already endeared itself to viewers. Although based on the DC Comics character created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino, the show has absolutely no resemblance to the comic or the 1992 ABC series that first tried to adapt the concept.
Mark Valley plays Christopher Chance and while he looks cocksure, confident and handsome, his acting range is surprisingly limited. As Keen Eddie or in Boston Legal he wasn’t given as much to do so it took this long to realize this flaw. As a result, when things get dangerous or dramatic, he merely squints or grits his teeth. He’s supported quite nicely by the always-wonderful Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley.
The show has a 1980s feel to it, with done-in-one stories overlayed with the mystery of exactly who Chance is and how he got into the bodyguard business. Across the dozen episodes, we’ve gotten plenty of hints and then in the finale, we learned much, but not all of the backstory.
Along the way, the plots have been enjoyable and the show has been well cast, especially with recurring players such as his former partner Baptiste (Lennie James) and FBI Agent Emma Barnes (Emmanuelle Vaugier). In one episode we learned of Chance’s great lost love, Katherine Walters, and bits continued to come about her until this week when we saw her story. Ably played by Amy Acker it was a tale of love and loss….
…except, they violated the cardinal rule as taught to me by Len, of all people. If you don’t see the body then you cannot presume they are dead. So, we saw the boat blow up and a grave but at no time was there a body so Katherine could well be out there, poised for a surprise return.
The show has done decently in the ratings and stands a good chance to come back for a full second season. Considering it ended on a cliffhanger, the producers were also feeling lucky. We can just hope that happens.