It’s been a long time since I’ve done a TV post, but don’t let that fool you. I’ve been watching a ton, maybe even more than I ever have. Man, I love my DVR. I’ve been meaning to write a post about a couple of new cop shows I was drawn into, but my blogging schedule isn’t quite what it used to be.
The more I thought about a couple of these shows, it made sense to do one post covering both because I was sucked into these shows because of their similarities. Last fall, I started watching Copper, then over the winter, I watched Ripper Street. Let me start by saying that although I enjoyed both of these shows and I watched their entire (short) seasons, they were not I-have-to-watch-it-tonight shows. For both of them, I easily had 4 episodes piled up to watch. I eventually did watch all of them and really enjoyed them.
Copper takes place in New York in 1860s and Ripper Street takes place in London in 1889 (just after Jack the Ripper). Both of these shows are authentic and gritty. For me, they are a visual representation of why I don’t read historical romances (the lack of bathing and oral hygiene – eww). Anyway, as far as the TV shows go, I enjoy the grittiness.
Both shows follow the main character, a cop, as he solves crimes. Of the two, I prefer Kevin Corcoran (AKA Corky) from Copper. But that might be because he’s more fun to look at than Edmund Reid from Ripper Street. Every week, they solve crimes in their respective cities. Both men are grieving the loss of a child. In both instances, that grief is the overarching plot throughout the season.
For Corky, he searches for answers to what happened to his wife and daughter. For Reid, he has to come to terms with his own guilt and the effect the loss has had on his marriage.
Both shows feature the local whorehouse, which I find interesting. The part that I don’t quite get is that in both shows, one of the cops, a sidekick, so to speak, falls in love with a whore. Don’t get me wrong, the hookers are some great characters in both shows, especially the madams—they are savvy businesswomen. But for a cop to really fall in love and want to marry a hooker? I’m not buying it. Are there no other women to fall for?
All of the previously mentioned things are enough to keep a viewer watching, but the one element that brought me back episode after episode, was the beginning of modern forensics. Both of these cops employ the beginning of CSI. I’ve always been fascinated with forensics (I grew up watching Quincy – the father of TV forensics).
What makes it so interesting in both of these shows is that they learn and deduce without the technology we have. And the best part? In both shows, these cops rely on men that are not trusted by everyone else. In Copper, Corky goes to an educated black man, Dr. Matthew Freeman. In Ripper Street, Reid uses an American (who lies about his identity), Capt. Homer Jackson. These men are brilliant and always dismissed by everyone because of superficial things.
It says a lot about our heroes because not only do they value the information they get from Freeman and Jackson, but they defend and stand by these men.
Exciting news! Remember when I read at Lady Jane’s Salon last month? Well, Comcast was there and interviewed all of the authors and recorded our readings. then they put it all together and showed it on TV. It all looks really cool, and I don’t think I sound as dumb as I felt during the interview (and don’t tell me if I do — let me have my illusions). Here’s the segment. It’s only about 5 minutes, and you’ll get to hear from a group of really great authors — Blythe Gifford, Tracey Devlyn, Adrienne Giordano, and Molly O’Keefe.
Most people know that I watch a lot of TV. Having a DVR has only increased the number of shows I consume because I never watch commercials anymore. One of the downsides to watching more TV, though, is that I’m not as discriminating when it comes to what I’ll watch. If something sounds vaguely interesting, I’ll give it a try (assuming it’s not up against other things already being recorded in that time slot). I’ve found many, many new and wonderful shows because of this, but sometimes it’s frustrating because a show gets canceled and there’s nothing worse than being left without knowing how things wrap up or what the motivation behind things are.
I don’t feel quite the same about books in a series. I love reading series, but for the most part, each book is a stand alone. Whatever problem or issue the protagonists face in that book is resolved at the end. I enjoy reading series for the same reason I love TV. I like the comfort associated with characters and a world I love. But since each book can stand alone, I don’t think it would bother me if a writer suddenly stopped a series. For example, if J.D. Robb stopped the In Death series, sure I’d miss Dallas and Roarke, but I know that they have their HEA. When Charlaine Harris finishes up the Sookie Stackhouse series, it’s fine because we’ve accepted that Sookie will always be involved with Supes. We don’t care if she chooses Bill or Eric or whatever guy jumps in. She’s more or less accepted her life and we have too.
But many TV shows start with a premise that unravels as the season goes on, and if the show gets cut, I feel disappointed. Two shows that I started watching for the 2012-2013 season both got cancellation notices early in the fall, however, they were allowed to finish out the season. Both of them left me feeling very satisfied.
The first was Mob Doctor. I first mentioned Mob Doctor here. It was a Chicago-based show where a doctor owed the mob because she needed to get her screw up of a younger brother out of trouble. Each week, Grace would rush out of the hospital (which no one really commented on EVER-until the last episode) and go fix whatever problem the mobsters had for her. The show was not without its problems, but I’m always a sucker for a Chicago show. Anyway, in the last episode, the writers managed to wrap things up quite nicely. In fact, they did it so well, it makes me wonder if they did the last show like that simply because they knew they were canceled. If it had been picked up for a second season, I’m not sure where they could’ve gone with it.
The second show was Last Resort. I first blogged about Last Resort here. When I heard about this one being canceled, I actually stopped watching it. It continued to record each week, but I was hesitant to tune in, afraid that the whole conspiracy would be left unexplained. The premise, if you’re unaware, is that a Navy submarine was given orders to bomb Pakistan. The commanding officer not only questioned the order, but then refused to do it. The crew was labeled traitors and a stand off began. The whole time I watched it, I knew there were bigger things going on. This was not a simple case of one guy going crazy. Last week, I tuned in to catch up. My husband and I did a marathon to watch all the episodes. I have to say that I was really happy with this one too. There were no easy answers and there were still a few lingering questions (Why would the president want to start a war?), but the ending tied everything up in a way that made sense for all of the characters involved.
I wish all shows that face cancellation would learn from these two. What series (TV or book) are you most bummed about ending? Were you satisfied with the last installment?
There’s a new show that premiered two weeks ago, called Last Resort. The basic premise is that a crew aboard a U.S. submarine receives orders to bomb Pakistan. The orders come through a secondary channel and technically, Pakistan is a U.S. ally. The command questions the order right before they press the red button. They just want confirmation that the order is really from the U.S. and that the system hadn’t been somehow hacked.
To me, this is fascinating. I think as regular citizens, we see nothing wrong with this. We have faith in this crew. We like that they questioned the order. Imagine what would happen if the communication system had been hacked. These people would be at fault for causing a war. Plus, as U.S. citizens, we’re taught to be free thinkers. We’re supposed to develop our own ideas and opinions.
And this is a ginormous BUT –
I’m married to a Marine and I watched this first episode with him. As soon as they questioned the orders, he labeled them traitors. And he has a point. In the military, you’re not supposed to be a free thinker. You’re supposed to follow orders. Everything depends on people doing their jobs and following orders.
While the teacher and mom in me wants to cheer for that crew for standing up to something they felt was wrong, the patriot in me cringes because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to. My life as I know it is dependent on soldiers doing what they’re told.
I watched the second episode (the third airs tonight) and there’s hinky stuff going on. To me, common sense says that they didn’t bomb Pakistan and they were wrong for not following orders, so they should’ve come home to suffer the consequences (court martial, etc). But the government let things get out of hand too quickly. There’s something else going on. Of course, part of it is that it’s TV drama and if the government just tried to sweep the disobedience under the rug (which is what my gut says the government would do), we wouldn’t have a show. The government wants this crew to be the fall guys or scapegoats for something, but I don’t know what. It’s enough to make me keep watching.
At every turn the motivation of these characters comes into question. They’re being attacked by their own country. By their own people. In order to defend themselves, technically, they’d have to kill their own brothers. They haven’t yet, but it’s been close. Is that a line they’re willing to cross? As viewers, could we forgive that?
It’s some heavy stuff to think about. Unfortunately, I saw a brief note that this show might be canceled due to poor ratings and I’ll be really ticked off if they cancel it without letting me know the whole story.
Have you watched Last Resort? Are they traitors or not?
This past week was Banned Books week. For those of you who might not be aware, Banned Books week celebrates openmindedness. As a teacher, I loved Banned Books week. I started the year with a whole unit on Banned Books. The great thing about it was that I taught kids who were amazed that books still get banned. Personally, I don’t really censor what my own kids read. That’s not to say that I don’t care or that I don’t pay attention, but I don’t want to discourage them from reading. No, I wouldn’t hand them my book to read, but if it falls under YA, have at it.
Here are a couple of great posts for Banned Books week:
There was so much great advice about writing this week.
First up, August McLaughlin writes about having a teflon mind when it comes to rejection. If you’re a writer, rejection is part of the business. It’s a tough part of the business. I wouldn’t say that I’m as good as August, but I think I handle rejection pretty well. Some of the rejections I received stung, and I let them, but not for long. Then I pushed myself forward and moved on.
Marcy Kennedy talks about knowing when it’s time to quit. I don’t think I’ve ever given quitting much thought. I’ve set goals, and last summer, I told myself that if I didn’t have an agent and/or a book deal within a year, I would go back to teaching full-time. Notice, I didn’t say I would give up writing, but that it wouldn’t be my focus. For me, things aligned and within 8 months, I had both an agent and a 2-book deal.
Jami Gold talks about the writing process as compared to sculpting. Since I’m mostly a pantser (write by the seat of my pants with no outline), I do a little of both — I built the original story and then I chisel away at the parts that don’t fit. For me, the chiseling usually involves big giant parts, but you get what I mean.
Tawna Fenske cautions us to stop the glorification of busy. I totally understand what Tawna means when she feels like she’s been slacking when she doesn’t meet her daily word count. Right now, I don’t have a daily word count, or a page edit count, or anything. I’m getting ready to start something new. I have done no writing for weeks. In my head, I know this is good. I’m letting the story develop in my head and I’m getting to know the characters. I have completed collages and a soundtrack for my new WIP. But I still feel like a slacker. I have those moments of panic, like “Oh my God, I haven’t written. What if I fall behind? What if I can’t produce something quick enough?” Even though, in my head, I know this discovery time is well-spent, it’s hard to stop myself from writing simply because I feel lazy.
Chuck Wendig has a post for 25 things to do to get your writing groove back. As usual, he pulls no punches. Things like “Get out of the Goddamn House, you mumbling Shut-in,” and “Quit moaning and mount up, motherfucker” will surely offer you the right inspiration.
I didn’t even realize it until I got a message from Twitter earlier this week that I had been on Twitter for a whole year. For some of you that might not seem like much, but in 2 months time, I went from having zero presence on the Internet to being on Twitter and having a blog (I’m still avoiding Facebook, though). I felt good jumping in because I was taking a class with Kristen Lamb. She gave us each other so we had an instant following. My 1 year blog-aversary isn’t for a few weeks, but let me tell you, it was a great feeling sending out my first post and knowing that people would read it. I starting talking on Twitter and I had followers. It made social media much less frightening.
I’ve been swamped between the new school year, cheerleading, figuring out promotion for MORE THAN THIS, and thinking about starting something new. So while I’ve been active on Twitter, Friday Favorites hasn’t been happening because I fell behind on blog reading. I’m running late writing this now, but I did finally catch up on blogs. Please excuse the lack of organization I usually offer for these posts, but enjoy:
Tawna Fenske wrote a post on believing in a happily ever after. As romance writers, we must have some faith that the HEA exists, especially for our characters, but it’s just that — faith. In reality, more than half of married couples get divorced. We don’t even know what the statistics are on couples who aren’t married. But we want to believe that HEA is possible. It’s why we write romance.
to better accommodate them. And then they take over said renovations. Their artwork fills every empty space. Their toys litter tables. For as much as these things would bother some people, for me, it makes my house a home. I love seeing the evidence of my children everywhere.
Elena Aitken talks about how as a mom, sometimes we can’t fix it. For me, this is one of the hardest things about motherhood –knowing when to let go and let them deal with things themselves because I can’t fix it.
Chuck Wendig offers up a post on 25 things you need to do before you start your next novel. As usual, Chuck’s post is dead-on. I need the reminder to really get to know my characters. It’s hard, though, because as soon as I think I know them well enough, I’m anxious to write. What ends up happening then (and I know this from experience), is that I write tens of thousands of words that get scrapped because those words just helped me understand the characters. So I’ve learnednot to rush the process. I am collaging and I’ve made a play list for the new book and the ideas are flowing.
I’ve been busy trying to think about my new WIP, so I’ve been collaging and creating a playlist so that I can get into writing my new shiny idea, so blogging has fallen to the wayside for a bit. But this is the time for all the new shows to hit the air and you know how I love my DVR. While I won’t try out every show, there are a lot I am willing to give a chance, especially since a bunch of shows I watched last year were canceled.
First up, The Mob Doctor. This show comes on right after one of my all-time favorites, Bones, so I had to check it out. It’s another Chicago-based show. Basically, a woman is a doctor and in order to get her brother bailed out from a problem with the mob, she agrees to indentured servitude. They call, she jumps. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes and there’s a lot to like. The feel for Chicago is right. I’m okay with the mob angle because I believe the mob is very much alive in the city. One thing that bugs me is that in those first 2 episodes, Grace leaves the hospital to “run some errands” and drives all over the city to take care of mob stuff. I’ve lived in the city. It doesn’t matter what time of day you’re driving (unless it’s 3 a.m.), there’s traffic. She zooms around and no one really questions how long she’s gone. I’m going ot keep watching because there is so much good stuff, though, like William Forsythe as the quintessential Chicago mob boss.
Next, I watched the first episode of Revolution. The second is on my DVR, but I’m saving it so my husband can watch with me. I heard nothing about this show until I heard a radio spot right before the premier. I recorded it because it seemed like something my husband would like (he’s a fan of things like Fallen Skies). The promo was something like, “What if there was no more electricity?” Basically, that’s the premise. Something happens and everything shuts down. I thought the show was going to be about the immediate aftermath, but it’s not. After the shutdown, the show skips ahead 15 years to see what life is like. It’s very dystopian, and things like that depress me, but I’ll probably continue watching because the show is good. It has a Lost kind of vibe.
I have the first episode of Vegas recorded, but I haven’t watched yet. One of my favorite actors, Jason O’Mara, is in it, but a friend told me that the pilot didn’t have nearly enough of him. So, I guess we’ll see.
Some other shows that haven’t aired that I’m looking forward to are: Arrow, Chicago Fire, Last Resort, and Made in Jersey.
But the show I’m most looking forward to is Elementary. I love a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I am absolutely in love with the new BBC series. Unfortunately, a season of that Holmes consists of 3 episodes a year (yes, they are 90-minute episodes, but still not enough). And I just saw on Twitter yesterday that new episodes aren’t going to air until the end of 2013. So while people are complaining about Elementary because it’s set in New York and Lucy Liu plays Watson, I’m going to give it a shot. While I never imagined Watson as a woman, I think Liu can be the perfect straight man to Holmes’ craziness.
What new show are you most looking forward to this season?
Summer is officially over and Fall TV has started. I figured now would be a good time to take a look at my DVR and decide which shows were worth spending my time with this summer.
These 4 shows are ones that I can’t wait for. They caught me every week. These are shows that are unlikely to sit on my DVR waiting to be watched.
Longmire: The setting is beautiful and the characters have some great drama. Longmire lost his wife a year ago and has been out of it most of the time. His deputy has decided to run against him in the upcoming election. That deputy was also sleeping with Longmire’s daughter. Talk about a sticky situation. I like the episodes where we get to see how Longmire interacts with the Indians on the reservation. It adds an unusual flavor to the story. The only thing that seemed a little implausible is the number of murders that have occurred in Wyoming. Not that I’m complaining, really, because I love cop shows and everything that goes along with them, but in one short season, Longmire faced a number of homicides.
Dallas: I love this show. I watched growing up and this new version is every bit as twisted and soap-opera-y as the original. Plus, the actors are quite yummy to look at. The season will pick up in January and I can’t wait. The next generation of Ewings are as messed up as the original and so much fun to watch.
image from http://www.fanpop.com/spots/dallas-tv-show/images/24034744/title/dallas-new-promotional-photo-photo
The Newsroom: I have to admit that I was a little slow to pick this up. I set the DVR to record and I watched the first episode. I liked it, especially the dialogue, but I wasn’t totally sure. The episodes continued to record, but I didn’t watch them weekly. Then, one night, when nothing else was on, I watched. And watched. And I was hooked. If you’re a fan of Aaron Sorkin, you’ll like this show. I know it’s not totally realistic in its portrayal of a newsroom, but I’m not watching TV for reality. The dialogue and banter alone are worth tuning in for, but besides that, the characters are real and f*cked up, and believable.
Common Law: This show is about 2 cops who are forced into couples counseling because one drew a gun on the other. All season, we watched these two grow as characters, but they never said what was behind the whole gun incident. Until the last episode. It was a very satisfying ending for the season because I would’ve been pissed if they left us hanging. But now I wonder how they’ll keep us engaged for a new season.
These are shows I watched, and continue to watch, but I don’t get excited about them. Multiple episodes will sit on my DVR until there’s nothing better on TV.
Sullivan & Son: I’m not big into comedies, but I thought this one might be interesting. A lawyer son returns home and takes over the family’s bar. Since my books are set in a family-run Irish pub, I wanted to check this out. With the exception of a few good one-liners, this show was meh.
Perception: I’ve said lots of times how I love cop shows and the FBI. This one was a no brainer for me to tune into. Chicago FBI agent seeks help from her former professor on cases. The professor’s hallucinations help him solve cases. Although it’s set in Chicago, it doesn’t feel like it. There’s an occasional mention of streets or a neighborhood, but this isn’t a true Chicago show. Every case has something to do with the brain. It makes me wonder how many brain disorders there can be that would be part of a crime. I would think they’d run out of brain issues. Really, though, this show lost me when in the first episode, the FBI agent (who looks to be about 15) was chasing a suspect and jumped off a second story fire escape. Not only did she land on the suspect, but then she promptly got up and was fine. I can only suspend so much disbelief.
Major Crimes: I watch this show because it’s comfortable. I always watched The Closer and this show has all of the same characters (minus Brenda). Sometimes I even get to see Fritz, and he was my favorite part of The Closer. I’m not sure exactly what keeps me from being a total fan of the show. It’s not bad. It has the same kinds of crimes. I think maybe part of my problem is that the division is now more focused on making deals with criminals to get them into jail instead of getting a full confession (Brenda’s specialty). Maybe I’m just done with this show and the characters and it’s time to move on. I’m not sure. Like I said, it still records, but I don’t rush to watch.
On Thursdays I usually talk about some TV show that I like and why I like it (or don’t). In general, I don’t watch reality TV. It tends to be crap, but I can understand how people can be roped into it. I get roped into shows that are downright silly because it requires nothing from me and it’s pure enjoyment.
On Twitter the other day, someone mentioned Honey Boo Boo. I didn’t know what it was and ignored what was being said. Then, this morning on the radio on the way home from taking my kids to school, the DJs mentioned it. They played a clip from the show and it grabbed my interest enough that I went online to check it out.
Oh my God. How do things like this get made into a show? More importantly, why would you want to have your family portrayed like that? And in front of the world? This is a spin off of the Toddlers & Tiaras which I think is a mess anyway. (Little girls should NOT be doing that). This clip is 20 minutes long, but you won’t need to watch all of it to get the idea. I was ready to stop after about 2 minutes.
Not only do I find the whole pageant thing repulsive, but what does it say that you have people supposedly speaking English, and they need subtitles so the audience can understand what’s being said?
I think part of what bothers me most about these shows is that they involve little kids and this crap will follow them for the rest of their lives. Parents are exploiting them and no one seems to care. When you look at Survivor or The Bachelor, yeah, there’s drama and stupidity, but they’re all adults. They know what they’re getting into. They understand that the editors are going to chop away anything that makes them look like intelligent, caring human beings because that doesn’t work in the ratings.
Kids have no way of understanding that. Hell, they don’t even understand that when they post stuff online, it’s there forever even if they try to delete it. Who stands up for these kids? I can’t believe that as a mother, making money is more important than making sure your child is healthy and intelligent.
One of my favorite bloggers, The Romance Man, wrote a post last week on a similar topic. He writes specifically about trying to raise young girls when they’re faced with so much trash. The post and the comments are well worth reading (be warned — over 200 comments there)
What is the one reality TV show you’d like to see canceled?
Summer is about over. I’m finished with school supply shopping and the kids are gearing up to go back next week. In addition to school looming, I’ve had to say good-bye to so many of my favorite summer TV shows. The Closer aired its final episode ever, although it’s being replaced by Major Crimes (I have it recorded, but haven’t watched yet). Rizzoli & Isles finished up Tuesday night as well, but I didn’t even see that coming. It seems like it just started back. It will return mid-season for a few episodes like it does every year, but still. A new show this year that just ended that I really like is Longmire. I haven’t gotten to the last episode yet, but I’m sorry to see it go. Dallas was another winner for me for the summer season. And in true Dallas form, it ended with a bang. I did NOT see that coming (and no, no one shot JR — although they should). I’ve also fallen for Newsroom, but I’m behind in watching those episodes. I feel a catch-up night coming, especially since there’s nothing new for the next few weeks.
As much as I hate to see summer go, part of me is glad for the return to school. My writing schedule is nonexistent during the summer. Honestly, if my friends hadn’t organized a retreat day, I wouldn’t have gotten to THE END of my WIP (only the first draft, but it’s done). Plus, by about mid-July, the kids start to get buggy. They’ve been around each other too much and the bickering and fighting gets crazy. But this week, with the oh-my-god-school-is-next-week feeling, we’ve been filling our days once again with fun stuff. we’ll hit the beach one last time, one trip to the Art Institute as promised to Trouble, and a trip to Lego Discovery center. Fun stuff all around.
In fact, after our trip to Lego Discovery, we went to a late lunch. Eeyore looked at Trouble’s food and said, “Gimme a ficken chinger.”
She looked puzzled and then Shorty started to laugh at his play with the words. After explaining it to Trouble, they all got into the act of switching letters. It quickly devolved into potty jokes and swearing (hutt-bole and yuck fou). But it was hilarious and I laughed so hard, I had tears streaming down my face. It felt so good to just ride with it and have fun with my kids, even though there probably should’ve been a reprimand in there somewhere. I spend so much of my time being the drill sergeant and yelling at them, that for a few minutes, we all had a good laugh. It was definitely one of the best moments of my summer.
What’s one of your best memories from this summer?