MOST ASTONISHING EPISODE YET FOR THIS AMAZING SERIES
By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, April 6, 2010 — “Intervention” has featured so many shocking stories of addiction that it might seem impossible for the show to top itself.
But last night, it did just that. It was the story of a former two-time boxing champion who has lived for nearly 20 years on the streets of Camden, N.J., panhandling and smoking crack. It was the most astonishing single episode of a TV show seen so far this year.
As reality shows go, this A&E series — now in its eighth season — goes deeper into the private worlds of its subjects than any other unscripted series. And last night, the show took viewers on a harrowing journey to one of the most forlorn locations ever seen on TV, period.
Producer David Simon’s Baltimore (“The Wire”) and producer Shawn Ryan’s Los Angeles (“The Shield”) were formerly TV’s champions of urban grit, but “Intervention” — produced by an outfit called GRB Entertainment out of Sherman Oaks, Calif. (the GRB stands for Gary R. Benz, the company’s president) — bested them both with its on-location documenting of the life of Rocky Lockridge, 51.
Lockridge once won two junior lightweight titles, but has been fighting a losing battle with drugs and alcohol ever since. He was estranged from his two 25-year-old twin sons for more than 15 years; one of them, Lamar, avoided contact with his father right up until the taping of last night’s episode. Earlier in the show, Lamar faced a camera and admitted he “hated” his father.
On the show, Lockridge was seen begging for crack money on a littered street corner in one of Camden’s worst neighborhoods, a region of abandoned houses and broken sidewalks. In alleys and backyards overgrown with weeds, Lockridge would turn his day’s earnings over to the crack sellers and eagerly use crack — snorting and smoking it.
And then there was the intervention, led by interventionist Cindy Finnigan. Many of the interventions shown on the series — in which family members tearfully implore their addicted loved one to accept their offer of rehabilitation — are deeply moving. But last night’s was the rawest yet, as Lamar and his brother Ricky vented years of frustration and anger over their father’s abandonment yet nevertheless told him they loved him and begged him through uncontrollable tears to get help.
As the episode concluded with its ending theme song, “Five Steps” by the Brooklyn-based band The Davenports, uncertainty lingered over the effectiveness of Rocky’s stint in rehab as viewers learned that Rocky left the facility after only two-and-a-half months, without completing the program and against the advice of his counselors, and is now living with another “sober” patient somewhere in Louisiana. Long-time “Intervention” watchers may have taken that as a sign that his rehabilitation didn’t take, although the episode’s parting statement on-screen said he’s been sober since November 2009.
“Intervention,” airing Monday nights on A&E, won an Emmy last fall for best reality series. The award was richly deserved.
Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com