Tag Archives: detective shows

Guessing the Killer

I originally wrote this for I Fry Mine in Butter in 2010.

Perry MasonWhen I get a little afraid to admit just how many hours I’ve spent watching cop shows and courtroom dramas, I just add up all the hours spent reading, which is impossible, I suppose, and then I feel better. Because even loving popular culture the way I do, I still worry that what my elementary school teachers told me is true: TV will rot my brain.

Here I am, still intact in the higher functioning way. I must still have a few capable synapses. So since I’ve made it with all these years of television viewership under my belt, I’d like to spend a little time looking at one sliver of television narrative: the giveaway shot.

I want to give some due to the camera action that does what foreshadowing did for Mary Shelley. It’s usually less than a second, sometimes is accompanied by dialogue, but mostly not. I like to think it’s something TV picked up from Alfred Hitchcock, because he really started the quick cuts and shots that we have come to expect in suspenseful storytelling. Read More…

Why I Miss Law & Order

lenny briscoe and ed greenI do love a good police procedural. I got hooked on them somewhere around Hill Street Blues which uncoincidentally is about the same time I became addicted to hospital shows (thank you, St. Elsewhere). These were character-driven, with short arcs of crime stories interspersed with longer relationship arcs of the ensemble characters, and the latter knew to never really upstage the former. Yes, we knew all about Jessica Fletcher’s life, but we really were invested in her solving another murder. Priorities, people.

No show cast this balance better than the flagship Dick Wolf production Law & Order. We even had the episodic plots carved out for us with the now-iconic metal staccato sound. Were there plot repeats over the 19-year run for the series? Of course there were, but who would have noticed were it not for the omnipresent reruns on A&E and TNT? Read More…

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