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10:38 a.m. - 2010-08-15
Watch This, Not That.

A few months ago I pretty much gave up on the 'Law & Order' shows. On the regular one I missed Lenny Briscoe too much and hated that Linus guy as the ADA. On 'L&O-CI' Jeff Goldblum is completely wasted, none of his twitchy manic charm is there. Sorry, Jeff Goldblum as a mellow mystic cop just doesn't do it for me. The other twitchy guy, Vincent D'Onofrio, was fun. I liked the relationship between Goren and Eames. But I've seen every re-run a zillion times now. And 'L&O-SVU? Gads, worst of all. It was never-ending. Dead raped girl. Dead tortured girl. Dead tortured raped girl. Dead raped child. Raped traumatized child. Raped tortured traumatized girl. Dead raped girls. Look, I know the show is centered on sex crimes and that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults happen to women and kids of both genders, but the last couple of seasons it was less about solving crimes and catching bad dudes than it was an endurance marathon of explicitly, almost lovingly glorified snuff porn. The first 20 minutes and usually the last 5 were always long slo-mo panoramic shots and extreme close-ups of dungeons festooned with nearly naked young women bent into provocative poses artfully daubed with blood and bruises. Sometimes for a 'treat' we'd get to watch the torture and rapes go down! How fun! Not.

(Don't get me started on Hollywood's fixation on violence toward women as a prime source of material, shit goes back to the silent days when Little Nell was tied to the railroad tracks and hasn't stopped since.)

So. Having had a bellyful of exploitative ritualistic rape and dismemberment of young women as 'entertainment', yet still a fan of police procedurals and an even bigger fan of forensics I went shopping for a new show. My requirements were pretty straight up, since I don't have a regular time to watch TV it had to be something in frequent rotation on the re-run channels to suit my erratic viewing schedule. A show with decent writing, interesting crimes with a minimum of snuff porn, and characters that didn't irk me. Heavy focus on forensics a double-plus bonus. (Been a forensics fan since ever, how much did I love 'Quincy M.E.'? Oh, about 59 metric tons worth.)

Enter 'NCIS'. Yeah, it ventures into being precious sometimes, especially Abby's character, but for the most part this show rocks. Unfortunately it's so good I've relentlessly hunted it down, chasing it through ION, USA, and TNT until I've now seen nearly every episode. Several times. Even Mick, who hates Mark Harmon and usually leaves the room when I'm on an NCIS spree, has started muttering, "Jeeze, even I've seen this one. The phony anthrax, right?"

I need a new show.

I tried 'Rizzoli & Isles' a couple times. But it was so awful I didn't even finish the whole episode. Usually about 15 minutes is enough to send me diving for the remote. This lame-o thing shoots for quirky and misses by miles. Annoying, counterintuitive, hokey, I've seen vaudeville characters that were more subtly drawn. The two leads are supposed to be Odd Couple best friends, but all they do is hiss and yelp and insult each other. Rizzoli's family is so over the top in its supposed comedic eccentricity that I half expect Fozzy Bear to be there going, "Wock-a! Wock-a!" every time a 'quirky' brother (mother, father, cousin) delivers another of those ham-handed 'jokes' that pass as dialog. After coming off really good shows like the original 'L&O' and 'The Sopranos' I'll bet Angie Harmon and Lorraine Bracco are vomiting all the way to the bank.

My MIL likes 'Criminal Minds' and I've checked it out a few times, but this is another one that makes you witness the crime first. I gave up when an episode started with a husband slamming his wife's head into the kitchen table. Over and over and over while she bled, plead and cried. I changed the channel and probably missed the even bigger 'fun' of him raping her semi-conscious body on the floor and then kicking her in the ribs a few times and demanding she get up and make his dinner. Whoo! Let's make some popcorn and get the kids in here, we got some damn fine entertainment tonight!

Please tell me there's a show I've overlooked that is halfway decent? Some unnoticed gem that's actually about solving crimes and not some creepy voyeuristic garbage where the 'thrill' is watching cruelty and hurt?

Or do I give up on cop shows for good and buy the boxed set of 'The Waltons'?

Good morning, John Boy. ~LA

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