I used to think I knew who the good guys were. In 1960 I sat with my little blind face pushed against the Dumont black and white TV and watched Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and felt the unambiguous decency of his lawman’s gestalt–I was of course supposed to feel this, it was the golden age of television heroes, all of whom were sweetly uncomplicated. The Lone Ranger was not secretly having an affair with the secetary over at the land grant office, hadn’t fathered a child out of wedlock, wasn’t part of a questionable kick back scheme involving infected horse blankets. Today’s TV heroes are always struggling with their silly humanity, a holdover from the 70’s when anti-heroes became the big thing and when “let it all hang out” became a stock phrase. Given the latter, I’ve always preferred Paul McCartney’s line from his album “Flaming Pie”: “May the angels of love protect us from the inner most secrets we hide.” Anyway, I miss the basic decency of the old LR, and while it was exciting to see the Green Hornet make a comeback recently, they did him over with post-70’s complications and a lot of explosives and really, his estate should file a lawsuit.
I think this longing for the uncomplicated hero has something to do with my affection, now long standing, for the CBS TV series NCIS. The characters do have dalliances and suggestions of past lives marked by adult complications, but these factors are presented as sub-sub plots, and are there largely because, as I’ve said, after the 70’s we expect some kind of lurid positioning, some offstage whispering, and yet, the general impulse of the show is toward collective human decency. Another way to say this is that there’s a little of Clayton Moore in everyone on the show. I swear its true. And I like it.
And I won’t apologize.