Saturday, April 13, 2024

“This is Us”: How Does Jack Die? a) car wreck b) terrorist attack c) in a duel d) shot by Sue Ellen Ewing’s sister Kristen


Last month, the publicists from 20th Century Fox Television and NBC won an award from the Publicists Guild at their annual luncheon. The award was for “This is Us,” a nighttime soap opera on NBC that caught on like wildfire overnight. Or, literally during its first episode when its time shift plot twist was revealed.

Since then, “This is Us” is the most publicized network show since “Dallas.” Those publicists– whoever they are–have worked double overtime stoking interest in what is really just a soap opera. But they’ve ginned up everyone including the highly impressionable Entertainment Weekly.

(I remember years ago at an EW editorial meeting, someone said very solemnly, “This week is Nancy’s second look surgery.” They meant Nancy on ‘thirtysomething.’ I thought they were talking about a real person!)

Tonight ratings should be the roof because they’re going to reveal how ‘Jack’ (Milo Ventimiglia) died. Of course, since the show time shifts, Jack will never really be dead. We will continue to see him in storylines from before he died. He’s a Dead Man Walking for the next five, six seasons. (Please, no more than that.)

How could Jack have died? The magic of PR is that the publicists have worked the fans into a frenzy? It’s almost like a Monty Python routine. Was he garroted? Did he die in a wood chipper? Did Kristen from”Dallas” shoot him?

Since Jack was seen getting into a car, drunk, last week, the good money is that he died in a car crash. Whoops! Also, tonight there’s a big scene of him as a mechanic in his youth. If that’s not what happened, he was eaten by an elephant. Really, who cares? But kudos to those publicists. They’ve done an extraordinary job of making something fairly uninteresting compelling to the TV audience.

PS Once Sterling K Brown’s career takes off in movies this year, they’ll have to think up a way to kill him, off.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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