Brown imagines the Patriots as a hit TV show you don’t want to miss

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman charges onto the field before a game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 29 in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots will take on the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round on Saturday. AP file

For the Monitor
Published: 1/3/2020 6:15:50 PM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – According to experts and observers, the television program, “Patriots” starring Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will broadcast its final episode on CBS this Saturday at 8:15 p.m.

Airing every fall for the last 20 years, “Patriots” had seen a creative renaissance of late, with long seasons that ran into February in four of the last five years. The 2018 installment was particularly celebrated for a late-season plot twist in which it turned out that the titular characters were not terrible, despite what fans had been led to believe for the bulk of that 19-episode run.

This season, however, has been less popular with fans and critics, at least if you pay attention to what people are saying on social media. The loss of the immensely popular character Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski has left a void that the show has struggled to fill, although there have been attempts. Who can forget the bizarre one-episode arc in which superstar Antonio Brown joined the cast? The mercurial Brown was immediately written out of the show when off-screen trouble emerged in the form of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

In the end, fans and critics remain deeply split as to whether “Patriots” should bring Brown back.

Brady’s performance has led some to question whether he has aged out of the lead role. No longer the fresh-faced, breakout star who saved the show from cancellation in 2001, Brady’s contribution has been scrutinized throughout Season 20. Although some observers believe the real issue is a lack of chemistry with new castmates like N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Mohamed Sanu. Backing this theory is the fact that Brady’s scenes with veteran cast member Julian Edelman have been, for the most part, crowd pleasing.

Regardless of the reasons for his down season, Brady does not have a contract in place for 2020, and many people see that as a natural endpoint of the show. The program could recast Brady, but it’s doubtful showrunners could pull off that move as successfully as they did when Brady replaced then-leading-man Drew Bledsoe way back in Season 2. Though some point to the fact that previous Brady understudies Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett all found successful leading roles after leaving Patriots, current understudy Jarrett Stidham has had only one memorable appearance this season. Fans hated it.

Among the plot lines still unresolved heading into Saturday’s presumptive finale are whether Bill the Coach will finally be killed off by his evil twin, Bill the GM. There’s the resolution of last week’s cliff-hanger, in which Brady appeared to be plunging toward his end. Viewers will also be tuning in to see if Sanu can stop dropping the ball, and to enjoy one last appearance from Elandon Roberts who has stolen scenes as two different characters, Linebacker and Fullback. A lingering plot thread from last season could be picked up, with the Patriots seeking revenge against Tennessee, led by former Patriots cohort Mike Vrabel.

Some have suggested there is too much plot for the show to resolve this week alone. Pointing to the longer episode runs from previous seasons, such optimistic fanboys have speculated that Saturday’s episode could be the first part of an unexpected two-parter. Or a three-parter. Or perhaps even a four-parter that again stretches into February. But such people are immediately ridiculed for desiring more of their favorite entertainment.

And how dare they?

“Patriots” has always been a scripted program with predetermined outcome. It’s a future that has already been decided. Seasons have always ended exactly when they were expected to, and surely nothing on television has done less to extend its allotted share of screen time this season than Belichick, Brady and company.

Sure, some might point to Season 7, which was supposed to end in Episode 17 against the Jets. Yes, that one turned into a three-parter with a heist episode where Troy Brown robbed the San Diego Chargers blind.

But that’s a ridiculous comparison since the 2006 Patriots struggled offensively and were rated fourth overall despite a respectable record with just four bad episodes.

How is that anything like this season?

(Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor, he can be reached on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown)

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