I found myself mindlessly surfing the TV last night, which I don't do a lot these days. Most of the time I'm much happier mindlessly surfing the internet, but since I still felt pretty lousy I wasn't able to concentrate enough for the computer, so there I sat in front of the TV. I watched CNN for a while, then found something with Tony Shalhoub. I really like Tony Shalhoub, and the TV info thingy showed a movie name I'd ever heard of. Good, at least it wasn't "Monk." I've never understood how "Monk" survives. The writing is ham-fisted, the guest actors are over-the-top, and the only thing interesting is . . . Tony Shalhoub. I like Tony Shalhoub.
Uh-oh, the guide was wrong . . . it WAS "Monk." Sigh. Well, I had nothing better to do, and wasn't sleepy yet, so I watched it to see if my opinions were completely baseless, and . . . nope. Spot on. Hello, 1988? Are you missing a TV show, maybe one that escaped from "Murder, She Wrote" or "Matlock" or that one with Dick Van Dyke? Because I think I found it, and it has imprisoned Tony Shalhoub. Poor Tony Shalhoub. I like Tony Shalhoub.
Is it just me, or are even the well-written, well-acted crime dramas so formulaic that it becomes funny? I used to love "Law & Order" until I caught on to the formula.
The show opens with a crime scene. One or two of the detectives are on-scene, and they always say something pithy and oh-so-clever, like "That's the last trick SHE'LL ever turn," or "I guess the postman isn't the ONLY one who rings twice," or "Looks like 'death by Bunga-Bunga' isn't just a punchline." Then you have plenty of time to groan and go for a beer because there's a commercial break.
What happens next isn't terribly important, except that Rogue Cop and/or Rogue Prosecutor will Take A Stand, Dammit, even though everyone thinks he/she is bonkers (which is a legal term). At some point there will be a cops-and-lawyers meeting of the minds in a dingy, poorly-lit room full of the ensemble cast. This is the point at which the director sees his name in lights. "Think Broadway play, people! Don't sit still when you talk -- get up and walk to the other side of the room for no apparent reason when you deliver your line! Motion! Angles! I need more ACTION!" And they do, each cast member delivering a sour, world-weary, condescending line or phrase, his/her thought completed by the next terribly jaded cop or lawyer crossing the stage at a jaunty angle at precisely the right moment.
You might call it scene structuring or something, I don't know. Blocking? Whatever. Seems like hyper-choreography to me -- "JAZZ HANDZZZZZ!"
(Photo stolen from this guy)
While everything doesn't always wrap up neat and tidy, you definitely get at least one moral shoved down your throat. Probably more if everything didn't wrap up all neat and tidy. To close, another pithy observation from one of the team members: "Guess she'll be sleepin' single in a double bed from now on," or "let's see how prison looks on him."
But what do I know? I'm a computer geek these days. Doink doink.