There’s a popular trend in television programming called “crossover events.” By popular, I mean with TV producers and networks, more so than with viewers. Crossover events certainly aren’t my cup of tea. In fact, they leave a bad taste in my mouth – like someone spiked the tea with motor oil. I find the concept inherently irritating. In fact, I’d rather face a roomful of four-year-olds playing with glitter and glue than watch a crossover event.
In reality (which has nothing to do with TV), crossovers are ploys to entice viewers to watch programs they don’t normally, or even abnormally, watch. In a crossover, a plotline starts on one TV series, then hopscotches to as many other annoying series as possible. The characters from each show travel around to the other shows, where they have no business being. If I had my way, they would be arrested for trespassing, or at least cited for vagrancy.
The family of DC Comics programs has used this questionable tactic for several seasons. I won’t drag the superheroes’ names through the mud, as it’s not their fault. They are being forced into these antics that are tantamount to viewer entrapment.
In classic TV terms, it’s as if a story started on Rawhide, continued on Gunsmoke, moseyed over to Wagon Train, then made stagecoach stops at Bonanza and The Rifleman, before finally and thankfully being dispatched to Boot Hill on Have Gun, Will Travel. Long before then, you’re praying that Little Joe Cartwright will bushwhack Marshal Dillon, just to put the story out of its misery, to say nothing of yours.
The objective of this nonsense is to snag the viewers, like sailfish on a deep-sea fishing line, and drag them behind the boat from one show to another. The viewer, like the sailfish, ends up not caring about the destinations. He’s just hoping to break away from the line, and end this miserable cruise. The wicked TV producers, of course, want the viewers to be fascinated with the shows, and become permanent fans. This is similar to hoping that Robinson Crusoe finds the island he’s stranded on so captivating he decides to file a change of address form with the Post Office.
Well, who can blame the television people? After all, surely this is the technique that William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and other great writers have used through the centuries to ensnare their readers.
I’ve found in life, though, that an apparent evil can sometimes beget good. And now I’ve found this odious crossover practice has resulted in a bit of good for me. One day I realized that my life, with its plot twists and cast members shuffling in and out, is essentially a crossover event. If it includes you, I should probably apologize, as I didn’t mean to hook you to be dragged behind my boat. Seeing my life as a crossover, however, has given me new perspective.
In the Joe Show, I’m the star. There are costars, including family and close friends, but I’m responsible for the results, to the extent any of us can be.
In the lives of others, though, I’m merely a guest star. Sometimes I might be a bit player. I may even act as the villain occasionally. I’m sure there are times I’m the comic relief, if not the village idiot. In fact, I may be in danger of being typecast in that role. As I thought about it, I realized that if someone has allowed me to do a guest shot in their life, I should strive to be a welcome and gracious visitor. I should do my best to have a positive effect on their life.
We may not always succeed in helping someone along in life, but it shouldn’t be for lack of trying. I have summarized this in a tiny life instruction to myself: don’t be a doofus. We shouldn’t be an annoying Marshall Dillon that someone is desperately wishing would be bushwhacked. After all, in the end, what do we want our legacy to be?
Life is an uncharted journey. We all have traveling companions; we all have crossed over into each other’s lives. And no matter our manner of living, the journey finally and irrevocably ends with the ultimate crossover event. We’ll all make the crossover from this existence to what lies beyond.
And that’s where we may see some truly interesting guest stars.