Monday, 15 April 2013


They aren't Dr Who, though it's pretty darn close, or Game of Thrones -I'm about to watch Season 2 on DVD and am recording Season 3. They aren't Casualty or Holby City though I never miss an episode. They aren't Dexter, which is running out of steam, or The Good Wife (ditto), though I still watch them. They aren't Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, a sharp and sexy series set in Australia in the 20's, or the supernatural thriller series Grimm which I find fun for very different reasons, or Arrow the superhero series that isn't. And the excellent three part BBC zombie series didn't last long enough to quality.

They aren't profound and they aren't particularly serious. In fact they both have a lot in common. Let me see: two different protagonists who nevertheless like each other, one is a cop and the other isn't, the cop has two supporting likeable junior cops, the cop is female, there is a small but good supporting cast as backup, there is a lightness of touch which doesn't preclude darker elements, both are police dramas (though I suppose that's obvious by now). They are both on Alibi.

Anyone familiar with cop shows will have guessed what I'm writing about and that's assuming you haven't noticed the incredibly glaring images below.

There are more images of these two than you can shake a stick at and it was really hard to pick one. I almost went, out of sheer awkwardness for this piece of fan art-
The show is very popular with lesbians -see the websites After Ellen and Dorothy Surrenders- and while there's no doubt there's a lot of shipping (Kirk-Spocking for SF fans), it's just wishful thinking as the two characters are totally straight. It's more The Odd Couple meets police procedural. Coincidentally, there was lesbian sub-plot in the most recent episode shown in the UK. The out of town lecturer-professor mother of the young sharp black cop and her female younger lecturer professor roomie (plus young son) have come to visit him and as soon as I saw them I went roomie, yeah shure, and winked sardonically. I don't know why I did that as I was on my own. They'd come to try and tell him that they were partners and were getting married. The subplot weaved in and out of the murder something about a retired-injured athlete murdered by his best friend for reasons I can't be arsed to go into) before the son finally finally admitted he'd known about them for ages and he was delighted.

Anyway, (Jane) Rizzoli is a senior homicide cop with a large Italian family some of whom work for the police. He mother is played by Lorraine Bracco whom I last remember seeing as the female lead in a 1980's movie with Sean Connery (Medicine Man?). She's tough, competitive, and funny. (Dr Maura) Isles is a forensic pathologist who goes out to every murder scene then dissects the body later. She's quirky with a dark past she only recently discovers (gangster father, mother who thinks she's dead, neither of which she knew when the show started. They're best friends and the chemistry between the two actresses is terrific.
L-R: cop, brother, Rizzoli, Isles, cop.

The main supporting characters are the young black computer expert cop and the gruff but good-hearted older cop who form her team. Then there's her younger naive beat cop brother who wants to be a detective and her mother. There are several others who weave in and out of the storylines. The acting all round is of a high standard and the dialogue is sharp and funny. The murders they have to solve are almost a distraction.

NB It's based on very different in tone books by Tess Gerritsen.

Currently on its fourth season (still showing) and if I can get them cheap enough I'll pick up the box sets to keep me warm while waiting for the fifth to start.

It came as no surprise to me that the next one should be a success seeing as it stars the one and only -
And if you don't know who this is go and get hold of Buffy Season 7, Firefly the complete series, and Serenity. For starters.

Nathan Fillion has more charm than any actor since Cary Grant and could probably charm his way out of Hell itself. Anything he's in is worth watching but especially-
The premise is this: he's a popular crime writer who, through the influence of his good friend the mayor, gets attached to a three-person murder detective team lead by Kate Beckett (Stana Katic who had a quick cameo in Skyfall recently). It works so well that he's now been on the team for five seasons. This one is a will-they, won't they police procedural. Katic is a real find who can hold her own against perennial scene-stealer Fillion and, as with Rizzoli and Isles, it's the chemistry between the two leads (plus good dialogue and good supporting cast) which has made it so successful. 

Castle is so inspired he writes a series of novels about Detective Nikki Heat based on Beckett. You can actually buy Nikki Heat novels by Richard Castle. I tried one and it read too much like a novelisation of a series episode.

The dark aspect to this series is Beckett's attempt to find out who murdered her mother some years earlier and it gets murkier and more complex the more she discovers.

Here's some of the main cast. A number of supporting characters arrive, leave, come back, or never come back.

L-R: Boss Cop (gone), mother (over the top self-absorbed actress), daughter (student), Castle, Becket, pathologist, team cop (Latino), team cop (white) good buddies.

In the current season (5), the question -will-they? won't they?- has finally been answered. They will, as often as possible. But it has to be kept secret as people on the same team can't be on the same team.

In the most recent episode, they manage to get away to Castle's place in the Hamptons. (Beckett (amazed): "How rich are you?" Castle: "Not James Patterson but I get by.") When a man staggers onto the grounds and dies the police are called in. The local police chief thinks Beckett is a hooker which is a very fun scene. Castle can't resist investigating, dragging an unwilling Beckett alone with him and he has to liase with the two guys back home without them finding out their boss is with him. They've been trying to vainly to track down Beckett's mystery boyfriend.

(Yes, one episode was a noir set mostly in the 1940's.)

If you aren't watching either of these two series, you are depriving yourself of enormously enjoyable slick light entertainment. Fuck art, let's dance.

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