Category Archives: TV

You Know it Must Have Happened…at Least Once


sam

Director: Cut!

Samuel L. Jackson: What?

Director: It’s okay, Mr. Jackson. We’ll just go again.

Samuel L. Jackson: Did I fubbing say God-dang conch-sucker again?

Director: No, sir. This time it was monkey-flippin’.

Samuel L. Jackson: I’m so sorry guys. I don’t even monkey-flippin hear myself fupping say it anymore.

 

 

 

Case: Amazon Cop Show


The police are unattractive, can’t sleep and need to bathe.  After a full episode, I still can’t figure out who did it, or even if an actual crime has occurred. The pace is slow and everybody smokes. The suspects include everybody on screen.  

I am not watching anything from U.S. TV.  Case was written and directed in Iceland, a country in which they speak a totally different language! Subtitles are needed of course, but after a half an hour, my wife asked if I would turn up the volume.  If you liked Broachurch, featuring the unintelligible David Tennant, this might be just as watchable.  

I can’t review it, since I’m just an episode in, but it is totally out of my early TV watching experience.

 

Remember the 1970’s Steven J. Cannell series A-Team, Rockford Files and such?  The first scene was always the crime, and the details were told on screen — as if one character didn’t know how they were doing the crime:Tenspeed and Brown Shoe Poster

Bad Guy One: Hey, hurry up.  We need to get these boxes of guns marked as medicine to the General before sundown, so he can kill more civilians in his foreign country including those pesky nuns who refuse to sell their mission for a fort…

Bad Guy Two: Okay, but can stop to shower and shave first?

Bad Guy One: NO.  You will stay sleazy. It says so in the script.  

U.S. TV is pretty much still like this.  There are variations, where the good guy is secretly a bad guy, or the good guy is really good but feels bad when he does bad things…Elliot Stabler, we’re looking at you…

Image result for elliot stabler confused

“Elliot.  That’s Cragen.  He’s on our side.”

Even our high quality TV shows feature a reliable architecture.  On Law and Order and SVU they always arrest the wrong person at 10:20, the evidence is tossed out by about 10:40, the theory of the crime changes after the next commercial, say 10:45, and in the final scenes the entire case is upended, only to end with a conviction by 10:55. Local news.  

We like our cops smart, good-looking and able.  Except for Law and Order SVU, where they can arrest the wrong person a lot. Eventually they arrest the correct person, and look damned good doing it.  Our police dramas are just westerns in suits.

Image result for cragen

“I can’t believe we arrested the wrong guy, again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon international cop shows do not follow this pattern at all.  [Yes, I know the Amazon shows often are repackaged shows from individual countries.] Watch Broadchurch, Season one.The police nearly starved to death dealing with their inability to track down a sandwich shop.  The police are literally not good at their jobs, lives or hygiene. 

International shows avoid the U.S. pattern. 

For that reason only, I’m giving Case a try.  

 

 

Must See TV on Netflix


Heartland

My wife has discovered a great Canadian TV show called Heartland.  It has been on Canadian TV forever, and has become the longest running show there.  No cursing.  Very little sex, although you can tell they want to. Great scenery and horses.  The Rockys in Alberta are stunning.  Family friendly.  Sort of like the Waltons, but fewer money troubles.  

In the first two seasons, one main character wears a really bad looking fake mustache. Not the blonde near the horse.  She’s cool.  Insecure but cool.  My family watches it, and I holler out “houwse!” or “a-boot” everytime somebody sounds particularly Canadian. 

Image result for heartland

Reign

Apparently Netfix has made a deal with The CW to air all of the scripted shows.  This One of the programs is a period piece called Reign.  It’s theoretically about Mary, Queen of Scots in her early years in France.  Everybody in France speaks English with a British accent, including people from Scotland and Spain.

Image result for Reign

There are some shows that capture the imagination through terrific acting, writing and drama.  This is not one of them.  It does for Bloody Mary what the movie Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter did for the 16th president.

Wallander

Wallander

Must buy razor.

If you like police dramas with lots of think time, this is the one.  Kurt Wallander is a Swedish detective, but as is the case in Sweden, everybody speaks English. To each other. Actually, Wallander traveled to Latvia on a case, and apparently that’s the custom there, also.  (This was produced for the English audience, but it bugs me a bit.)

Kenneth Branagh plays a brooding, brilliant yet troubled detective.  Actually now that I think of it, he’s not all that brilliant, though he does solve the crimes.  A brilliant detective might say “Oh, I’ve just had a crappy day.  Better get some sleep and try again tomorrow.”  Not this guy. Wallander sleeps in his chair, with a bottle of wine in his hand. Oddly, he always needs a shave.  Never has he actually shaved, but he always has a day or two of stubble. 

This show, like Hinterland has such a great and different feel compared to American cop shows. Wallander shoots a guy in self-defense in one episode and then spends months dealing with the grief.  I mean, he was so broken up he didn’t shave or eat.  Just like always.

The landscape is bleak, fields broken up with industrial towns and harbors.  The ocean is nice, but the whole look is beak.  Grey. One character gets a travel book with pictures of Sweden.  His wife looks at it and asked if it is really like that.  Wallander says, “Yeah. Midsummer. Sure.”  Like Hinterland, there was some tax money kicked in for the production, in this case I’m sure they wondered if Swedish tourism might be helped by the program.

Photo Courtesy The BBC, and the Swedish Tourism Office

This is why I like it.  The pacing is so non-American, the characters are so flawed, and the scenery is so normal.  The detectives are really not necessarily good at cracking cases, or at life for that matter. If you’re sick of the same stuff, Wallander is a terrific break.

So, what are you watching?

 

 

 

Must See TV


I’ve given up on watching television. Oh, I’ll binge-watch.

I’ve been watching Amazon, Netflix and British TV through an Amazon subscription to Acorn TV.


Foyle’s War is on PBS and Amazon.

Foyle.jpg

At the beginning of the series, it is 1940, WWII is on and  Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) wants to serve. He’s  a police investigator in the south of England.

DCI Foyle is assisted by his driver, the adorably curious Samantha Stewart, played by the overwhelmingly adorable Honesuckle Weeks.

The tall guy in the back is Sergeant Paul Milner, a war vet.


Each episode is a mystery, though there are some two-parters.  Real events are woven into the plotlines, especially incidents from WWII.   Don’t miss “Fifty Ships” and “High Castle” for morality plays — and in a morality play, Foyle always represents the high road.

The character Foyle is prickly, likeable and unique.  At some point you realize that for all his talents, Foyle doesn’t want to catch crooks.  Given a choice, he’d rather be serving in uniform or fly-fishing.  He knows he’s just carrying on.  His sense of duty, and his commitment to the truth guide the series.

 


I watched the second season of Dicte, and the second season of Hinterland this weekend.

Dicte is a crime show on the level of Law and Order in terms of seriousness. She’s the brave but headstrong writer for a newspaper.  It’s a bit of a challenge since the dialogue is in Danish, but it is subtitled in English.  Turns out Danes curse in English sometimes, and certain sexual acts apparently have no accurate Danish word.  Danish sounds like German spoken by much more polite people. Also I expected more breakfast pastries.

If you like your heroins perfect, she’s not for you.  She is sooo excited when her daughter starts having sex, it’s a bit odd.  Season one reminded me a bit of Sex and the City.

Hinterland is a dark, moody crime drama.  The main characters are police detectives. DCI Mathias (below) is a train wreck.  He needs counseling.  He also needs a shave.  Always.

While it is in English, it takes place in Wales and was shot for English and Welsh.  As a result, there are long scenes with no dialogue at all — as if it was smarter to have characters stare into space instead of talk, since they have to shoot the speaking scenes twice.

This scene might last 45 minutes.  He is not looking at anything important.  The crime scene is over his right shoulder.

According to this show, all of Wales is bleak, cold and needs a coat of paint.  The Welsh government actually did predict the show would boost tourism.  They need to get their money back.

Still, it’s good drama.