Person of Interest
I know what you're thinking...could any two shows be on the farther ends of the spectrum between dark and light, ugly and cosy, American and British, etc etc. Well that's sort of the point.
And if what you are also thinking (assuming ANYONE is still reading this) is ....jeeze, this is taking forever, isn't it? Well you're right, but I'm going to finish this project. Even if it ends up taking another year. I have a full sheet of paper with the various TV shows written on it, so I don't know what the hang-up is beyond my general malaise and all-around flakiness.
This entry will deal with two shows one of which turned out to be totally no-go and one of which basically consumed my with-hubby TV watching life...i.e. Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights for three months virtually nonstop.
So let's start with Person of Interest, which came with high Zeitgeist Pedigree, plus hard-core pimpage from hllangel, my fandom partner-in-crime for so many shows, who wanted me along for her squee-fest. It certainly seemed like a good fit--high concept, angst-ridden characters, slash potential up the wazoo, and I was also promised a cute dog at some point in the future.
Got the first disc from Netflix, popped it in with the usual caveat to hubby "Let me know if you hate it," and started the pilot. So personally, I just wasn't impressed. I found the premise to be not terribly plausible, even though we were watching it just around the same time as the NSA revelations. I have no problem with the idea that Big Brother (or some variant) is watching and listening all the time, it was just the "heroes" in their quest for personal redemption trying to somehow stop all these bad things happening with just the names. First of all, neither lead was particularly charismatic, the self-righteousness factor was out of control and whatever charm there was supposed to be in the relationship between Reese and Finch was either too contrived or just unable to over-come my visceral dislike of Jim Caviezel
I've realized since then that I just have no interest in ANY of the shows that only exist in an environment of post 9/11 anger and paranoia. 24, Homeland etc. I barely put up with Mac's dead wife 9/11 back-story on CSI-NY, but that was mostly in the name of Mac/Danny angst. When it's ALL ABOUT that and the fact that 9/11 happened is the justification for everything else...you lose me.
However, I would have persevered in the name of shared fannishness or just curiosity if hubby had been engaged. He wasn't. We got through three episodes. Not even the whole first disc of the first season. Just about the time I was realizing the only character I had any empathy for was Fusco, who at that point was basically just getting slapped around and manipulated and it was all supposed to be justified because he was a "dirty" cop.
The last episode we watched was really quite vile, the one where it was just hunky-dory to stalk and kill the date rapist. I'm not throwing myself back into the "rape apologist" wank, but UH....no. It really, really isn't. The ambiguous ending didn't take the bad taste out.
Hubby didn't express much opinion either way, beyond a general "Oh come on" about the premise, but that's par for the course. Hubby isn't exactly Mr. Meta. His assessment of a show or movie he enjoys is "It was good. I liked it." He didn't bother telling me that he didn't like Person of Interest; he just indicated an interest in watching Midsomer Murders---from the beginning, all the way through.
I don't know if it was a deliberate reaction and rejection of Person of Interest, a coincidence or maybe a subconscious thing, but damn. Goodbye New York and post 9/11 rage and hello cosy British Countryside full of manors, pubs, estates, snark, titles, accents etc, with hardly ANY reference to anything remotely contemporary, although there were a few flashback driven episodes. It was like all that nastiness in NY never happened.
Previously we'd been watching episodes that got randomly DVR'd from local PBS stations. They were generally from the early seasons, all with Sgt. Troy, but definitely not in order. And it turned that Netflix on demand had them all, at least all the Tom Barnaby episodes. So we went in order, skipping only the ones we'd seen recently enough to remember the details and who-dunnit and for the next three months or so watched NOTHING ELSE during the nights we spend watching TV together. I literally had to put in a special pleading (including the similarity to an MM type show) just to get Broadchurch into the line up. We watched two or three and sometimes even FOUR episodes in one night. Went through Troy and Scott and then Jones, all the way up to Tom Barnaby's retirement. Basically 100 episodes in 3 months. And even though there were times when I was kind of on-line and not paying THAT much attention, I found it incredibly soothing.
OK, sometimes the murders were nasty and there were characters I hated, but there was such a reassuring sameness, plus rural English scenery porn, and charm, and British English and the fact that Tom and Joyce had a happy, but normal feeling marriage. I loved Cully's stint as a travel agent, and the recurring actors and picking out at least one actor with Whovian associations in almost every episode. (Toby Jones as the occasional replacement ME.) I liked Troy's arc to actually becoming a DI, although his flirtation with Cully was MEH! I thought Scott was lame and didn't mind his being put on a bus. I ended up REALLY liking Jones. It was hilarious how any of them could develop a skill, association or history the minute it was needed for a plot point (singing, playing cricket--twice) and then never be heard from again.
Midsomer Murders is one of those shows that just reinforces all the worst aspects of my Anglo-philia and makes me desperate WANT to be British and get back to the UK, although presumably NOT spend too much time in any of those small counties, since the death toll is unfortunately high.
Wanting to stay in "Cosy-land," we've now started Inspector Morse from the beginning and are doing the Lewis episodes (even though we'd seen most of them on Masterpiece Mystery) that are on Netflix. We've done some A Touch of Frost, although that's much bleaker. Midlands, not so charming.
As I mentioned in my post about the first episode of Broadchurch, I'm afraid Midsomer has ruined me a bit for any British detective taking more than 102 minutes to solve a murder. Tom and any of his Detective Sergeants would have had this Danny Latimer thing wrapped up and be back home for one of Joyce's failed culinary attempts in one episode.
Other fabulous things about Midsomer Murders:
1. I learned the phrase "toe rag." (Came in handy when we started watching A Touch of Frost.)
2. Dr. Bullard, especially this bit of dialogue:
Johnny Hammond: Let's face it. What do you get for burglary these days? A holiday in Wales with a social worker?
Dr Bullard: Tenerife if it's serious.
3. Important lesson: Do not attempt blackmail. You will get killed.
4. Class warfare-waged by people who really know how to do it.
5. All Detective Sergeants suck at driving.
6. All land developers ARE eeeeeevil!
7. Best ever scene of a man in denial. Male suspect is literally caught in bed with a younger man. Cut to interrogation room. First words out of his mouth: "I'm not a homosexual."
8. Writers who clearly have no idea how marijuana really works, but there's nothing funnier than Barnaby getting high on pot-laces cookies.
9. All Vicars/Reverends/Priest are at the very least dodgy, some out and out perverts, and a few are downright EEEEEEVIL. Seriously-for a cosy show, there's a strong element of anti-clericalism.
10. Don't let Joyce go anywhere-she will run into a body.
I might try Person of Interest again at some point in the future, but it will be on my own. Hubby will not be involved.