And James Franco As D.B. Cooper

Dave challenged Sarah to expand her D.B. Cooper obsession beyond Mad Men. Sarah accepted. Everyone wins.

On the most recent Extra Hot Great, I hoped that Mad Men would end with Don Draper becoming notorious skyjacker and persistently unsolved mystery Dan "D.B." Cooper. My esteemed colleague David T. Cole challenged me at that time to insert D.B. Cooper into every other show I possibly could, probably thinking I wouldn't pick up that gauntlet and definitely to shut me up about D.B. goddamn Cooper for a couple minutes. SELDOM RIGHT AND WRONG AGAIN, DAVE. I'm doin' it.

I am not a crackpot.

…I am not a unique crackpot. Cooper has popped up everywhere from the predictable Unsolved Mysteries episodes to references on Twin Peaks (Special Agent Dale Bartholomew Cooper) to a key role in the first two seasons of Prison Break. Treat Williams played him in a TV movie in the early '80s. Pawn Stars featured a bill from his ransom money. As preoccupations go, it's an understandable one -- that we still don't know, and likely can't, what became of Cooper after he stepped out of that plane makes the story that much more compelling -- but also somewhat difficult to take advantage of in TV narrative. For one thing, starting about a dozen years ago, the glamorous heist-movie vibe that surrounds D.B. Cooper became one nobody wanted to endorse in an airplane hijacker. For another, if descriptions of the man himself are accurate, he'd be gaining on 90 years old if he survived; working him into present-day narratives believably is more difficult as a result.

But not impossible.

Non-Fiction/Competition Shows

The Amazing Race This would make a fantastic Roadblock. One Racer goes up in a plane and parachutes to a drop point, where his or her teammate must then bury the cash to the satisfaction of a retired Treasury agent in order to receive the next clue.

Mythbusters The team has already explored some of the individual components of the D.B. Cooper legend, as well as plane-based myths from MacGyver, Six Feet Under (frozen toilet contents killing a civilian), and Point Break. Why not devote an entire episode to the jump -- and to what became of the money? How would the packets get separated? What would cause them to erode in the fashion they did? Everyone's got theories; get Buster a bourbon and soda and let's test 'em all.

American Pickers The guys visit a Cooper nut and look through his stuff. No, this doesn't differ from Pawn Stars; I just like AP the best in this show genre.

Best Ink They've had dumber themes. Like, any of them.

Scripted Shows Of The Past Which "A D.B. Cooper Did It" Might Explain

The Sopranos D.B. Cooper shot Tony after the retirement plan he assured Cooper would work -- putting the money "on the street" and collecting the vig -- went awry.

Lost "Dharma Ben Cooper." …Well, it makes as much sense as anything else that show tried to put over. No doubt you could find some flash-sideways reference that makes it possible for a skyjack in the Pacific Northwest in 1971 tie into a tropical crash landing in 1974/2001/whenever.

Zero Hour If that show's writers had it to do again, I'm guessing they'd rather send Hank and the gang into the Oregon woods after D.B. Cooper instead of to the Arctic Circle after Nazis.

Current Shows That Could Incorporate D.B. Cooper With Benefits For All

White Collar The subject matter suits the show's snazzy style; the case is within the FBI's purview; Neal has forged currency before and would be able to provide analysis of the ransom money; Mozzie is a born Cooper conspiracy theorist. A great opportunity to go out on top after a stumbly fifth season.

The Americans I don't watch the show, but a story set in the past makes it easier to write and cast for believably. Make him a safe-house contact or a grey-market…something, or something.

Revenge It's never hesitated to rewrite its own backstory, and I can't think of a better retcon than one that makes David Clarke's decision to blow up that plane related in some way to his…father D.B. Cooper? That, or D.B. Cooper framed him so he could have Victoria all to himself. Or Takeda is D.B. Cooper. Or Nolan is related to him somehow, and he starts wearing parachute pants all the time and becomes a cold-case P.I. I...just really want Nolan to become a cold-case P.I.

Homeland I'm kind of over it with Crazy Walls™, but I would make an exception for a "Carrie is the only one who can see that the former section chief and current bloviating consultant, C.T. Hooper, is using tattered bills from the late '60s to fund terrorist operations in Beaverton, OR (by which I mean posing as an artisanal cheesemonger who's injecting the veins of the Humboldt Fog with ricin).

The Good Wife Wise, twinkly client B.D. Culpepper gets Florrick Agos to help him test the statute of limitations (and launder the cash via a complex fee/refund scheme) while tucking in some advice for Alicia about presenting one face to the public and another to the mirror.

The Following Joe Carroll's ditched Poe as a founding principle for his merry mayhem; why not start all over -- provided he survives the season -- with a cult of D.B. Cooper? It doesn't provide as many opportunities to stab civilians in the abdomen, a punctuation mark the writers rely heavily on, but presumably they could learn to find the fun in hucking innocents out of the aft doors instead.

Actually, If You Could…Not, That Would Be Best

Grey's Anatomy
The Newsroom


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