In what may have been a case of the oddest timing of any TV show of the new year so far, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" ended last night - just as the host became embroiled in the controversy over whether she had something to do with stoking Jared Loughner's deranged assault on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The web - as you probably know - was immediately flooded Saturday with images of a map she had sanctioned, posting a number of bulls-eyes on various congressional targets in the midterms - Giffords among them.
I'll leave it to real psychiatrists - and real journalism - to sort out the truth of this charge, even though in the aftermath of something this tragic, everyone and I do mean everyone seems to want to apportion blame depending on their political point of view.
But what of her show? At the end of last night's two hour finale she told a pair of hosts at Alaska radio station KWELL that they'd be the first to know when or if she declares; she actually appeared sincere about giving them the scoop, so I guess we'll all have to listen to KWELL now. There have also been a couple of stories (Friday in EW, for example) stating the show was over - for good. Why? Because if she does run for president, continuation might trigger some sort of equal time issue.
May I be the first to address that concern right here and now?
That's nonsense: Cable, particularly cable entertainment programs, are about as beholden to equal time mandates as the man in the moon.
I would guess a far more urgent issue would be time: Could you actually shoot a sequel to this high-rated (about three million viewers on average) TLC series while campaigning for president? Or perhaps she'd like to call the next edition: "Sarah Palin's Alaska: The Campaign Trail" edition.
There's another thought her advisors might care to absorb before proceeding: Whether a show like this actually helps her image. You'll get all sorts of answers to that one. Some say it's distinctly un-presidential. I'm not sure I would agree with that - except for the episode when she consorted with Kate. Yes, that was distinctly unpresidential, unless she plans to run for president of the Friar's Club. At least Kloe Kardashian didn't turn up (but there is always next summer...)
Others would argue that it exacerbated an already divisive image - remember, as if you could forget, that frantic debate over the shooting of a caribou, and how she even went on national TV (to Babs, if I recall correctly) explaining how she used her kill to feed her family.
My thoughts: Overall the show as not terrible at all. It wasn't great (puhlease don't get me wrong...) and on occasion annoying, grating or just plain foolish. But honestly, I expected much much worse - although I did accept it for what it was, a long campaign infomercial.
She professed a desire to use the show to prove to America that her magnificent state was just bursting with natural resources begging to be exploited.
But it may well have produced a counter-effect, so sumptious was some of the nature footage: That this is a state so magnificent and unspoiled that it must be preserved at all costs. Well done, Sarah!
The real star was in fact Seward's Folly and a few bears. Maybe the next edition should just be called... "...Alaska."