Alexander Film Works

Television (Or The Lack Thereof…)

In digital video, film, Just Because..., Roughly About Films on August 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Somewhere in the world, among the reputed two thousand channels of program material on broadcast television, cable networks, low-power TV, and net-based programs, there may well be a good, engaging, intelligent, well-written show that doesn’t insult your intelligence, use stereotypes for a cheap laugh, or act patronizingly toward any religious group, ethnic community, race, demographic, or geographic region.
There may be. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
The closest thing I’ve found to acceptable television so far is shown on PBS. The latest adaptation of The 39 Steps, the original book by John Buchan written in 1915, starring no one I’ve ever heard of, was almost 90 minutes of suspense, surprise, flashes of wit, romance, and strongly constructed story. Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the book in 1935 ventured farther afield, but this was taut, lean, and cut to the bone.
To date, the only series television that’s met that criterion in my opinion (and mine is the only one that counts, since it’s my blog) consists of these shows:

  • Elementary
  • Castle*
  • Inspector Lewis
  • Endeavour
  • Agatha Christie’s Poirot

Elementary, being an updating of Sherlock Holmes to New York in the current time, with a female Watson, is cerebral without being stultifying, quirky without being ridiculous, and constantly surprises me about the depths that Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu find in their characters. If it keeps up the way it has been, it is in line to become my new favorite.
Castle, which is coming back, much to the surprise of both of myself and my wife, since we’d heard that this would be the final season, has had a dynamic run, with Nathan Fillion showing his range and versatility in the role of Richard Castle, but there is always the problem of the possibility of the sexual tension developed over the previous seasons lessening since Castle and Beckett have been together. {If you haven’t heard this yet, I’m sorry for the spoiler.} I hope that they can find a way to keep things going. But I won’t hold my breath.
Inspector Lewis, an ongoing detective series set in and around Oxford, England, with characters carried over from the previous series Inspector Morse, has proven to be intelligent, gripping, and brutal at times, without being gory like any of the CSI shows. I wonder why it is that British TV has the ability to produce such gems, where we produce dreck like Two Broke Girls?
Endeavour (I give the title its British spelling, since that’s how it was billed) chronicles the early adventures of Inspector Morse when he was newly promoted to Detective Constable in the 1960’s. It was only four episodes, but these four were jam-packed with detail, rational ratiocination (in case you didn’t know, it means the process of logical reasoning from a beginning to a conclusion), and backstory of the character of Morse before the original series broadcasts.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet as the Belgian sleuth, has been around for thirteen seasons, including some just recently filmed and broadcast on the BBC. I find it to be a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience.
Other than these shows, I don’t really see any “appointment television” out there. This may be a personal failing on my part, but so be it.
About all I can see to look forward to is Agents of SHIELD on Tuesday nights starting in September. If Joss Whedon’s touch is still magic, we just may have a shiny thing here. (Can you tell I’m a mighty Firefly fan?)
Until sometime again…

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