When James Franciscus appeared as 'Longstreet' thirty years ago, I had no problem in accepting him as a blind investigator for an insurance company. I could buy into the idea that he was able to defend himself, thanks to the martial arts training he was receiving from Bruce Lee's character. It seems to me (and I'm the most sedentary guy you can imagine, so I'm not about to test this theory out myself!) that all he needed was contact with an opponent to fully visualize his location, his balance, and thus gain the upper hand in vanquishing him.
It's now about thirty years later, and we're about to get a new blind investigator in 'Blind Justice', which will be taking over the 'NYPD Blue' time slot. Ron Eldard will be playing Detective Jim Dunbar who was blinded in the line of duty but still comes back to work as a police investigator.
So far, I can buy the concept. Even if every cop I know in New York would definitely take the pension and the disability and get out. (Trust me - I polled all of the ones I know.)
The great thing about the TV Universe is that there is that willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. We can buy the concept of FBI agents investigating the paranormal and finding aliens under our beds; witches married to mortals in suburban Connecticut; talking horses, talking cars, talking toasters.
The only problem is that most times, the premise is not supported by the follow-up of good writing.
It's going to take a couple of Pulitzer Prize winning novelists and Shakespeare reincarnated to pull off one of the concepts in 'Blind Justice' - that not only is Detective Dunbar back on the force despite being blind, but that he's allowed to carry a gun.
And he actually USES the gun in the line of duty!
And according to Eldard, the actual street cops - who know authenticity in this milieu - had a universal reaction to the notion of him having a gun: "F____ing ridiculous!"
But Eldard, being the good foot soldier that he is as the face for the production, sticks up for the idea that his character might be carrying a gun. "Bottom line, I could never be out there with a gun. There's no way a blind guy could draw the gun. But you know there's so many great pieces of art that are... completely unrealistic."
First off, the jury hasn't weighed in yet with an opinion on this being a work of art. But even so, it doesn't matter how unrealistic a show gets, so long as it remains grounded in a basic believability. And this idea pops that balloon.
The show premieres March 8th, and there are probably a handful of episodes already produced and ready to go. But it's still not too late to scuttle the idea of Dunbar carrying a gun and thus salvage the believability of the show.
Even though he's no longer a detective, Adrian 'Monk' still solves crimes for the San Francisco Police Department. And he gets along pretty well in handling those cases without one. Of course, considering his OCD, "pretty well" is a relative term. But the show in general has no problem in having a main character exist without the need to hold a firearm.
Maybe it's some kind of sub-conscious penis substitute that either Dunbar or Eldard needs to keep in hand.