June 27, 2005
In the world of television, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the writers and producers of hour-long crime dramas, and the viewers, who watch said dramas. These are their stories.Be Careful Out There
Summer With the Serial Killers
Contrary to popular belief, neither I, nor this column, can really subsist on SVU reruns for the entire duration of the summer. So it was with great joy that I noted the debut of two new shows that at least marginally fall within the purvey of my "Police Procedurals" beat. Both The Inside and The Closer center around a blond with a talent, exploiting and exploring that talent for the gratification of the audience.
Unfortunately, neither show has yet to really grab me, although they both have interesting potential. The Inside comes to us from the copious talents of Tim Minear, who has on his team Jane Espenson and David Fury, both also Joss Whedon alums from Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel days. Minear did the fabulous, if failed, Wonderfalls last year and he's something of a legend in TV geek circles. However, it takes more than a legend to make the profiler/serial killer genre a success. Just ask Chris Carter. He had the talents of Lance Henriksen at his disposal, and Millennium still barely made it through three seasons.
Here's the problem: the show is smart, but it may be too subtle for its own good (or it may not actually be as smart as I want it to be, having given it projected credence based on Minear's previous work). Peter Coyote is masterful in his role, just this edge of unlikable with an edge of creepily intriguing. Paul, on the other hand, is simply annoying in his earnest "I want to save 'em all" mentality, and Danny and Melody are both punchlines so far, only there to keep things light. I trust that Minear and Co. will do more with these talented actors, but I want to see it now, before Fox cancels this show in an untimely manner.
|At least now she has started to convey a singularity of focus and an eye towards the ultimate end. Her compassion isn't front and center, which in some ways is intriguing.|
Brenda's strength is in the interview, in the way that she charms suspects and witnesses into talking to her, lulling them with a false compassion, a thick accent and a keen insight until they tell her what she wants to know. Her mind is quick and clever, and she jumps light years ahead of her fellow detectives when it comes to drawing conclusions from the evidence, looking past the obvious to the greater truths beyond.
That's a lot to live up to, and so far, the show is a little slow, a little uneven, and Brenda (despite my admiration for Kyra Sedgewick) is more than a little annoying. She's sort of grating, with her accent and her quirks and tics and big smile. I sort of understand why her fellow detectives are whining like little old women on fixed bingo night. The mysteries are relatively interesting though. Philandering husband loses his wife when the hairdresser he promised to marry murders her by washing her hair with nicotine laced shampoo. Woman kills potential lover when she finds out that said lover is also a woman. But so far, we're meant to focus more on the characters, and I'm not sure they are enough of a draw to keep the average viewer interested.
Now, I whine a lot about the lack of characterization in procedurals, the way that these people are caricatures not characters. However, I'm not sure that starting with a character and building a procedural around them is the answer, unless the momentum and intrigue of the show match the vision of said character. The Inside is shinier and flashier and far more bloody. It's full of moody lighting, roughly written scene markers and an eerie opening theme, but I very much want more sense of how the character and the story will interact and unfold. I want Minear to push the boundaries of my understanding of the genre. In fact I expect so much from Minear that I'm afraid that disappointment is inevitable. I'm thrilled that he's turned his hand to the genre and I'll trust that he's got a plan.
The Closer, well, first I need to get past my annoyance with Brenda, because I do find the concept interesting. The woman gets lost on her way to the grocery store, talks to her dad on the phone, and has enough attitude to make the sweet southern honey bite and sting like a bee. Still, I want a little darkness with my procedurals, and I hope we see development on a grander scope.
|I love my city, and I'm pleased to see these two shows following in the foosteps of Numb3rs and making [Los Angeles] the interesting, complex, messy, crazy place that it really is.|
On a final note, Minear and co. Yes, we're getting your inside jokes. Yes, I noticed that the movie was called Once More With Feeling and the cat was named Angel and that Melody is the flip side of Harmony. But folks, I already love and appreciate your other work. Enough with the meta. It's distracting, and it's really just tempting Fox to add you to its roster of other failed shows that bear your stamp. Focus more on making this worth watching, and less on sticking your tongue out at the studio execs. They have bullet proof glass. They simply don't care.
Email the author.
All written content © 2005 by the authors. For more information, contact email@example.com