I’m now in my fifth year without television, though I do cheat slightly in that I watch the glass teat when staying with TAG, an action that only confirms I made the right decision back in 2011.
Taking up the slack are films and TV series on DVD, some old treats revisited and new avenues explored. Last time I checked I had over fifty TV series saved up to watch, which is possibly a little bit too much conspicuous consumption come saving for a rainy day, and I have absolutely no idea how many films.
Anyway, here are some thoughts on TV series watched recently.
CSI/ CSI:NY/ CSI: Miami
Comfort viewing of a sort, if you can consider anything that involves horrific violence and detailed autopsies to be a comfort. I used to watch all three series back when I had TV and am now reprising them on cheap DVDs purchased from places like Poundland and That’s Entertainment. I prefer the original series, thanks mainly to William Pedersen as oddball forensic expert Grissom, while Miami is my least favourite, mainly because David Caruso as Horatio tries so hard to emote compassion at times it becomes positively creepy, while at other times he doesn’t seem that far removed from the bad guys he attempts to put behind bars (if they’re lucky). I don’t take these programmes seriously, but I enjoy their manic energy and music video pacing as beautiful people in designer threads solve crime with the latest gadget of the week that enables them to get images from a dead person’s eyeball or find fingerprints on a grain of sand. What surprises me though, is that while we get copious blood splatter and tormented flesh shown from each and every angle, interior and exterior, nobody ever seems to swear. The gangbangers and killers are all minus a potty mouth. It disturbs me.
Never seen this before, and I’m only three episodes into the first series. In complete contrast to CSI swearing seems to be de rigueur for the cast of Deadwood, to the point that I’m finding it almost risible. Similarly, Ian McShane’s turn as criminal mastermind and bar/brothel owner Al Swearengen (name is destiny) is starting to feel a little over the top, almost a panto villain as he has hissing fits and froths at the mouth every single time somebody opposes him. That aside, it has a great script and great cast, and I’m finding it a thoroughly absorbing account of the old west as it probably really was, a frontier town ruled by the gun and the dollar. And as I’ve already bought all three series, I guess I’ll be sticking with it.
I bought this solely because I loved the idea of taking the title of each episode in the first series from a Led Zeppelin track, and I have been pleasantly surprised. It takes a glamour plus approach to the world of espionage and national security, but not to the point viewer intelligence is insulted. There’s an engaging cast and some intriguing plot developments, with Piper Perabo excellent as ingénue agent Annie Walker, who has to get up to speed fast. I suspect there are some hard lessons waiting in Annie’s future. In many ways it reminds me of old favourite Alias, but without all the Rambaldi device nonsense and the need for the female lead to get her kit off and seduce somebody in every third or fourth episode.
American Horror Story
I had high hopes, but as far as the first series went I just couldn’t get on with it. I never had the feeling that the writers knew what they were doing; it just felt like they were throwing shit at the screen to see how much would stick, with yet more revelations about the house at the centre of the story moving out of the darkness with each new episode. It all got to seem a little too much, with credibility jeopardised the longer the story went on. In the UK local councils will order the demolition of infamous crime scenes to deter ghouls, but in the US it seems the house will be left standing so that four or five more generations of killers can take up residence and then they add it to a sightseeing bus tour. Yes, Jessica Lange was very good, but apart from that I wasn’t especially impressed.
The Addams Family
I used to love this show as a kid, but not as much as The Munsters. Forty to fifty years on, though I still adore both programmes, I find that my allegiance has changed. The Addams Family seems fresher and more original, with a sharper sense of humour and snappier dialogue, while The Munsters is simply the Universal monsters given different names and doing stand-up. The adult me also finds Morticia a lot more attractive than the once adored Lily, but that’s something I shouldn’t share with anyone except possibly my psychiatrist.
That’s enough for today, though I reserve the right to return to this subject at some future date if nothing more interesting comes to mind.