Thursday, February 4, 2010

Obsessive Law and Order Watching

Husband no longer wants to watch tv with me.

And Netflix has them on instant download so I can watch them whenever I want. I have season two of both SVU (Special Victims Unit) and CI (Criminal Intent) slotted now. I wasn't caught when they first came out so most of them are new to me. And I can't watch SVU when the children are home. I don't censor much from them, but violent sex scenes.... Families abusing their own children.... Let's keep that from them a little longer.

Anyway -- they're very formulaic, but they hold people's attention. We started counting up crime dramas the other day...
Law and Order
Law and Order: Criminal Intent
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
CSI: Crime Scene Investigators
CSI: New York
CSI: Miami
The Closer
Without a Trace
Cold Case
Criminal Minds

Then with a little bit of humor...
NCIS: LA (I assume, I haven't been caught by this one).
Burn Notice

With a lot of humor...
White Collar

There are probably more I'm forgetting, and we weren't sure whether Numb3rs, Medium, The Forgotten, Past Life, Dark Blue, and Saving Grace count. (I haven't seen more than one episode of several of these and none of most).

Anyway. The point is that they have a formula and apparently enough of a following to support more than a dozen shows. Most of these start with a crime. They introduce our regular detectives that familiarity has given us reason to care about who then solve the crime after several false starts struggling their way through a number of untruths.

One of the bits that fascinates me is the occasional flashes of brilliance. In one show there was a wife, separated from a husband who had become polysexual, sleeping with anyone or anything. She played the role tough and unconcerned, like the death of the husband means nothing to her, like the betrayal he's done has erased all her feelings for him. Her voice is sharp and she answers the questions without pause -- one of the answers giving the detectives reason to ask about an oddity they'd discovered. A banana.

There's the tiniest catch in her voice when she answers that he's allergic to bananas. Someone killing him she can get past. Someone using an allergy against him bothers her. Of course she still loves him. Even his betrayal can't take that away. It's all still there.

The one I watched most recently, a distracted construction worker walks through a puddle of blood with his face buried in the day's paper. He's talking aloud to the cashier that we don't see. It has the look of habit, stopped when the coffee pot is empty. Then he turns, sees the blood and follows it to the dead woman behind the counter. Later, the police ask him for his shoes and he looks down noticing the blood on them, obviously for the first time. He starts to shake.

A tiny moment. A little thing, but seeing the tough crumble has so much more impact than yet another body when every show starts with a body. And caring about the guy who finds the body develops interest even if I never see him again. It's interest and concern they try to transfer to the case and the dead guy/girl.

So I watch. And I try to learn.

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