The musings of a feminist pop culture fanatic

Archive for April, 2011

The Killing (4/8)

EW Description: “AMC’s chilling drama about the police investigation of a teenage girl’s murder is a mystery worth diving into.”

Rosie Larsen is the main character and unifying force of this show. However, by the time of the first scene, she is already dead. The entire series is built around the investigation of her death. We get to see this from three perspectives: Rosie’s grieving family, the detectives investigating the murder, and a city councilman running for mayor who might be connected to Rosie’s murder.

Some have referred to this show as the longest Law & Order episode ever, and that’s a valid comparison. My biggest problem with procedural crime shows is that everything moves quickly so that it can be wrapped up in an hour. Everything seems to fall into place just so and it is completely unrealistic. It is also highly impersonal. I’m not a person who likes shows where I feel detached. For me, watching television is cathartic. I want to feel the characters’ pain, and the procedural format is not always very good for that.

I suppose this is not really a procedural, though. It is more of a serialized drama set around a topic typically found on procedural television shows. We get information about Detective Sarah Linden’s personal life and City Councilman Darren Richmond is full of scandal. The characters are all fully fleshed out and they have lives outside of their jobs. That’s very different from most crime shows.

The first two episodes premiered last Sunday. In those, we met all the characters, the detectives found Rosie’s body in a car belonging to the city councilman, and the investigation into her disappearance began. Rosie was not even confirmed dead until the end of the first episode, which shows how slowly the mystery is unfolding. Personally, I love it. Sometimes, when shows move really slow, it gets extremely frustrating. The key is going to be revealing enough new information each week to build suspense. The writers need to be sure some questions get answered. If every week just leaves the audience with five new questions and nothing answered, people are going to get frustrated. Look what happened to Lost. The audience can be patient. Just tease us with a little bit along the way.

My only complaint with the show is the tenuous way that Detective Linden is connected to the mystery. She is technically the star of the show. However, the episode begins with her preparing to move from Seattle to San Diego to get married. For some reason, she is not allowed to leave until Rosie’s investigation is complete. No one ever explicitly says that, but that’s the overall assumption. I understand needing to give her a backstory and introduce some conflict. The writers could have easily just focused on her rocky relationship with her son over her impending marriage without introducing the possibility of moving away. It just seems like the weakest part of an otherwise strong show.

Even though I definitely do not have time to get hooked on another show, I’m adding this one to my weekly TV schedule. It is really well-written and I’m dying to see what happens next.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me),” David Cook (3/25)

EW Description: “The American Idol champ takes a shot at The Breakfast Club’s most memorable song. His hard-driving cover is now the tune Idol plays to say farewell to the contestants who come up short.”

This post isn’t so much going to be about the song as it is about my love for David Cook. I don’t really know what I can say about this song other than that it’s amazing. Even though it’s one of the most memorable songs from The Breakfast Club, I don’t think about the movie at all when I’m listening to David Cook’s version. Like he did so many times when he sang on Idol, he took an extremely popular song and made it his own. It’s one of his greatest talents and he’s amazing at reimagining songs. My all-time favorite performance of his will probably always be “Always Be My Baby.”

I am so happy to see all the success David Cook has had since he won American Idol in 2008. I can never forget what year he won because every time I drive home from school, I’m greeted with the “Welcome to Blue Springs, Home of David Cook American Idol 2008” sign on either side of I-70 going into my hometown. Cook went to my rival high school, but I feel connected to him because we are from the same town. His elementary school was where I went for gifted class once a week when I was in fifth grade.

Since he’s several years older than me, I never knew of him when he still lived in Blue Springs. I think I was in 6th grade when he was a senior, or something like that. No, David Cook didn’t exist to me until he made it to Idol when I was a senior in high school. That’s when Cookmania hit the town. Local businesses had signs up for him. One of the frozen custard stores (not the one I worked at, so the bad one in town) had a concrete called the David Cookie. When he came back for his hometown concert, my high school let us out half an hour early so we could get across town for it. Blue Springs loves David Cook. He will always be our hometown treasure.

Lots of my friends think the hero worship for him is a bit ridiculous and I agree, to an extent. I think the signs they put up on I-70 less than six months after he won were a bit premature. I have a theory that they had those signs in storage somewhere and were just waiting for someone from Blue Springs to get famous and write their name on them.

But the point is, he’s the first person from Blue Springs to really make it big. It’s not like we’re some podunk town. We’re in the Kansas City metro area and have somewhere between 50-60,000 people. We’ve had some minor celebrities, but no one that was known all across the country. And I don’t care if you don’t watch American Idol, it’s impossible not to know who won it or even came in second place. You might not remember them a couple years down the road, but at one point, you could cite the winner of that particular season.

David Cook gives me hope, as cheesy as that is. I don’t have dreams of becoming a famous rock star or an award-winning actress, but my goal was always to get out of Blue Springs. There’s nothing wrong with the town. It’s an extremely pleasant place to live and I wouldn’t trade growing up there for the world, but I never wanted to spend my whole life there. I want to travel and get a PhD and help people. They don’t seem like big dreams, necessarily, but they’re what I’ve got. David Cook showed me and everyone else living in Blue Springs at the height of Cookapalooza that it is possible to get out of Blue Springs and achieve anything we want.

So ends this cheesy post, but it’s what I wanted to say. And seriously, check out this song. It’s awesome. I embedded it below.

Body of Proof (4/1)

EW Description: “Dana Delany does some dead reckoning on ABC’s brisk new crime drama. She stars as a prickly, brilliant neurosurgeon who finds redemption as a medical examiner after a debilitating car accident.”

Ten years ago, all procedural crime shows had a very cut and dry feel to them. Eventually, people seemed to get sick of the impersonality and wanted something more quirky. Now, with shows like Bones and NCIS, procedurals all seem to feel they need quirky and interesting characters. All procedurals need a hook now. Body of Proof is just the latest in this genre.

Dana Delany stars as Dr. Megan Hunt, a neurosurgeon who is now a medical examiner. In the world of this show, the medical examiner works alongside detectives to solve crimes, regardless of the fact that’s not actually what a medical examiner does. Just like crime scene investigators don’t interview suspects and make arrests, medical examiners don’t actually meet with the victims’ families to interview them.

There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief going on in this show. The characters try a little too hard to be edgy and the need to give Megan a debilitating hand problem seems unnecessary. Then there’s the ridiculous dialogue. Sentences like “I care about the dead because they can’t speak for themselves” are just the type of profoundness at which the show attempts and mostly fails. With the exception of Megan, no characters are particularly memorable and I found myself zoning out more than I wanted to.

This isn’t necessarily a bad show. It’s just not particularly good. Maybe it seems like I’m being too harsh, but I’m so sick of procedural crime dramas like this. Each one is less inventive than the last and they’re cluttering the TV landscape. What really makes me angry is that this show, which is basically like Bones, NCIS, CSI, or any other procedural, is probably going to get renewed while a fantastic show (Parenthood) in its same timeslot will likely end up on the chopping block.