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Fall '06: "Six Degrees"

The idea behind Six Degrees is that if you stretch logic far enough, any two people eventually have something to do with each other. Unfortunately, that's the same "eventually" as previously seen in such sentences as "Eventually everything on The X-Files will tie together and make perfect sense" and "Eventually something funny's going to happen on America's Funniest Home Videos." In other words, although it seems at first glance as though these characters have nothing to do with each other, it also seems that way at second, third, and fourth glance.

It's all rather suspiciously reminiscent of Lost. Except without the people stranded on an island. Okay, you know how Lost has all this backstory where the different characters almost interact, leading to all sorts of frantic Internet speculation along the lines of "OMG! Character A used to walk Character B's dogs, and one of the dogs pooped on Character X's lawn!", right? That appears to be what's going on here. So instead of a regular pilot, in which a bunch of characters are introduced along with their relationships with each other, this show had a pilot in which a bunch of characters were introduced along with a gentle hint that maybe they'd have relationships of some sort eventually.

The difference between Six Degrees and Lost (aside from the fact that I've watched at least one episode of Six Degrees) is that on Lost, you already know that the characters have at least one thing in common. And because of that, you know who the important people are going to be. On Six Degrees, it's mostly an undifferentiated mass of people. In fact, it's several different undifferentiated masses of people, and the viewer is presumably supposed to be able to pick out which character in each scene is going to end up interacting with the other characters.

Well, I guess I should say "interacting in a meaningful way". Because the characters do interact, but mostly in the form of passing each other on the street or seeing each other on a subway. It mostly feels like a tenuous Monty Python link between two sketches rather than a meaningful "We're all connected!" revelation.

As a general rule, I prefer shows about characters to shows about plot. Even in plot-heavy shows like Veronica Mars or Carnivale, I like the episodes that don't advance the story arc. So you'd think I would be in favor of a show that completely throws plot out the window, right? Well, it turns out that I prefer the characters to at least be doing something interesting instead of wandering around and occasionally passing each other in the street. I didn't even like Richard Linklater's Slackers all that much, and at least those random characters had reasonably interesting rants to share with me.

I would be remiss in my duties if I did not mention that this show features the acting talents of Dennis Boutsikaris. Yes, that Dennis Boutsikaris. I sometimes wish I could write something scathing enough to generate an angry email from an actor, but unfortunately, I was unable to discern exactly who Mr. Boutsikaris portrayed in this show. Oh well, at least I'll always have that time that the creator of Sledge Hammer! thanked me for a mention.


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