Every New Show Is the Same Regardless of Genre
A couple of years ago the BBC produced a show that would revisit a classic character in a modern context to great acclaim: Sherlock. Along with the classic stories and the perfect casting of the leads the show included the concept of Sherlock being a ‘consulting detective’. He doesn’t work for the police, he operates on his own taking on private cases. But he’s such a genius and has such amazing insight into how people think the police reluctantly have to go to him for help. Lestrade of the police and Sherlock form an awkward relationship based on patience and respect. All in all it was a great backbone on which to hang the stories.
Over the decades we’ve had more than a couple of shows using the same dynamic. Recently we have Castle on its 6th year, except rather than a detective we have a crime fiction writer working with a homicide detective because he somehow has more insight into the criminal mind than a trained and celebrated professional. To make the show more interesting for viewers they also threw in some sexual tension between the leads because they’re still trying to recapture the Mulder/Scully dynamic.
This is the simple, recyclable formula that TV producers have jumped on faster than a cocaine riddled kangaroo. We also have the fourth year of Bones, with an anthropologist making more sense than a crime fiction author. The Mentalist and Psyche both going with the fake psychic angle. Numbers has a mathematical genius. Hannibal has a psychotic cannibal. Crossing Lines, White Collar, Lie to Me, Elementary, Chuck, Body of Proof…there’s a whole whack of shows trying to put a new spin on this gimmick.
But that’s what’s already out, we want to look to the future. There’s plenty of new shows to bring the original. Like Minority Report, the new show picking up where the Spielberg film left off. It looks to explore the concepts and ethics of future crime in more detail. The format has one of the ‘pre-cogs’ using their ability to see glimpses of the future to help a homicide detective solve crimes…
Oh, wait. That’s the same formula as everything else. There’s even a scene in the pilot episode where the pre-cog sees some bikini photos of the detective apropos of nothing to get that sexual tension a-smouldering. Ah well. There’s bound to be something else worth watching.
Lucifer! A show based on the version of the character created by Neil Gaiman and spun off from his amazing comic series The Sandman. If this carries across Gaiman’s imagination and wit when dealing with fantasy worlds we’ve got a great show on our hands. Tom Ellis is a great bit of casting for the lead role of Lucifer Morningstar, we just need a good story to hang it off.
After establishing Lucifer as being on vacation and running a night club while doing his evil deals with a grin a wink, we have a murder on our hands. So Lucifer uses his unique abilities to help a homicide detective solve crimes while they have sexual tension GODDAMN IT.
They’ve taken the two most promising and unique properties on the books and shoehorned them into the same formula every other show is using. As much as I am interested in both of these shows – especially Lucifer, the pilot was fantastic – this routine is getting very old. The crimes are blurring into each other and are bound to get more ridiculous as the monster of the week crimes try to one-up each other.
Maybe this is why I’ve been looking forward to watching Scream every week, because it’s doing something a bit different. Silly, but at least different. This is what the current trends in television have done to me. Looking forward to Scream. Next up – why I like watching Scream.