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Truth stranger than 'Reckless' fiction

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The phony Charleston in CBS' "Reckless" isn't just tacky.

It's downright sordid.

And that's an intolerable slur against our real Holy City, which is world-renowned for its refinement and charm.

Yet while the first three episodes of "Reckless" have been not just low-down but far-fetched, some of our genuine-article plots also are weird.

On "Reckless," the longtime mayor is a short, gray-haired, bespectacled Democrat in his final term.

In the real Charleston, the longtime mayor also is a short, gray-haired, bespectacled Democrat in his final term.

An even stranger reality: Lots of real folks are eager to join the race to replace the man Bill Murray dubbed "mayor for life."

But why? Succeeding an extended winner is such a daunting task.

For instance, Tom Herrion was fired after four seasons as College of Charleston basketball coach with a 80-38 mark that included a downward slide (from 25-8 in 2003 to 17-11 in 2006). Hey, he followed a tough act - John Kresse.

Herrion did, however, get a $787,000 contract buyout when the C of C fired him eight years ago. He got another $550,000 or so parting stash when Marshall University fired him months ago.

And if (make that when) the College of Charleston fires current coach Doug Wojcik for serial verbal abuse of players and others, he'll get a major chunk of change (he's owed $1.2 million on the last three years of his deal).

Meanwhile, Christine Wilkinson, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct June 17 after making an ill-advised stop for ice cream at the Market Pavilion Hotel (the police report said she was in a "grossly intoxicated state"), will get a mere $70,000 severance for resigning as CARTA's executive director three days after that incident.

From real reckless behavior to unreal "Reckless":

Big-shot lawyer Dec Fortnum (Gregory Harrison), who wants Deputy Police Chief Holland Knox (Michael Gladis) to run for mayor, said on Episode 3, which aired Sunday night: "Admittedly, Charleston's so preoccupied with its own history we tend to be a bit too steeped in tradition to adapt to the times. Holland here gave us a nice big kick in the pants."

Holland on the mayor idea: "Who'd want a job like that?"

Fair question. Our next real mayor won't get a high-priced buyout if fired by the voters. Nor will our next mayor wield nearly as much clout as his (or her) predecessor.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

Back to real local weirdness:

The Charleston Board of Architectural Review, so picky about what color folks paint their shutters, recently approved the proposed, too-large, too-modern, too-too Clemson Architecture Center.

On Monday, a judge in Charleston ordered mediation in a financial dispute between our ex-governor/current 1st District congressman and his ex-wife.

Also Monday, our website broke the news that the S.C. House speaker used campaign funds to pay for attorneys defending him against the improper use of ... campaign funds.

Also Monday, a convicted cocaine felon appeared to turn in more than enough petition signatures to make the November ballot for the U.S. Senate. That dope rap forced him to quit as state treasurer seven years ago after only 6½ months on the job. Earlier this year, he starred on the misnamed "reality" show "Southern Charm" as a supposed member of Charleston's "elite" enduring the suspense of a paternity test to find out whose child his girlfriend was carrying (it was his).

Back to "Reckless":

At the end of Episode 3, the voice-over promo for Episode 4 this coming Sunday night promised: "In Charleston, South Carolina, the law is not black and white - and secrets never stay buried."

"Reckless" characters also often fail to stay clothed.

And after a man fatally shot an intruder in his home on Episode 3, police learned that the interloper was having an affair with his wife. The police charged the shooter with manslaughter.

Jamie Sawyer (top-billed Anna Wood) then charged into the aforementioned deputy police chief's office citing legal mumbo-jumbo. The lawman fired back: "Yeah, that's rich - a Yankee tryin' to throw 'Stand Your Ground' in my face."

But the richest (in entertainment value) character on a show that's so bad it's becoming good for laughs is corrupt police Detective Terry McCandless (Shawn Hatosy). His affair with Officer Lee Anne Marcus (Georgina Haig) degenerated into his sharing of her, er, affections with other cops on a squad-car hood after they drugged her.

Understandably perturbed, Lee Anne's husband Arliss (Falk Hentschel), though wheelchair-bound by wounds suffered in Iraq, somehow pushed Terry off a dock at the end of Episode 2.

In Episode 3, Terry, trying to re-woo Lee Anne, told her: "I came here to let you know that I gave Arliss a free pass. I was messin' around with his wife, after all, and you can't blame a man for boilin' over."

Gee, that's big of Terry, though he did add: "But you'd better muzzle your watchdog, Lee Anne, cause next time I ain't gonna be so generous."

And next time you lose your job, you'd better not count on your employer being as generous as the College of Charleston will soon be with Coach Wojcik.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is

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