Ash vs Evil Dead, CBS, christinesrant, Diversity, Entertainment, Limitless, Minority Report, Person of Interest, Prejudice, Racial discrimination, Revenge, Sci-fi, Science Fiction, sexism, Sleepy Hollow, The X- Files, TV, TV-series, USA, Women empowerment

The Black Female Cop and the Case of the Uncontrollable White Male.

I am hoarding TV shows and while this makes me seem friendless, lazy and pathetic, it gives me great joy and even some deep frustrations, but mostly it gives me food for thought.

So not that sad actually.

When watching so many TV shows simultaneously you start seeing connections between them. Even when there is none. But that is a medical condition and not the subject of this rant.

Lately TV shows combine police investigations with sci fi and/or supernatural threats. Most of them even turning to the fantastic when working cases. It is quite the trend!

Multiple reality checks vs sci fi/fantasy.
Badge vs evil, sort off.

Wearing said badge is usually a very competent female Afro-American police officer. What most of them have in common; a white male bringing chaos into their world.

Men who rely on their gut feeling, magic and even crime.
Men with a mission.
With secrets.

Men who need protection.
From themselves, but mostly from others.

Should I tread lightly now, you say?
Being a white middle-aged middleclass woman.

I will jump right in then.

Firstly, worth mentioning when taking on this trope, is Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) in CBSPerson of Interest (2011-), the show that least rely on supernatural stuff but is very much a science fiction mystery show.

PERSON OF INTERESTDetective Carter is a confident single mom and an excellent detective. She is in control of both her work and personal life; although you could say, she is somewhat boring. No romantic entanglements, no shady business, but manages to balance her work and family duties like a pro.

Enter the ex-assassin John Reese (played by Jim Caviezel).

Some would claim that Reese is not chaotic at all and right they are, he is a total neat freak but he is still a chaotic part of Carters life. First, he is a suspect then an ally, a partner and a friend. Somewhat stupidly he ends up being a unfulfilled romantic connection. All while he tries to do good by doing a little bit bad.

Person of Interest season 1 trailer

Following along this path almost exactly is Fox’ show Minority Report (2015-)  based on the movie from 2002 with the same name.

Minority-Report-PosterMegan Good plays Detective Lara Vega, solving murders 10 years after the Precrime ended. She is a remarkable and very capable detective. Never needed any help doing her job before. She even manages to handle her ex being her boss.

Until Dash (Dashiell Parker).

A half shy, half-autistic precog living in a milk jar for six years played by Stark Sands, who sees the crimes before they happen but has no clue whom the victim is or the guilty party.

Dash desperately wants to help. In addition, hide from whoever is looking for him and the other precogs. To disrupt Vega’s life even more, his visions comes with an unsettling timing. And they spend equal time trying to cover up their workings from exes, police and powers to be. His criminal brother Arthur Watson (played by Nick Zano helps out, to keep the chaos rolling.

Minority Report season 1 trailer

Sleepyhollow-poster1780’s Ichabod Crane (by Tom Mison) stirs up trouble (first) in 2013 (and ongoing) for police Lt. Abbie Mills (Nichole Baherie) in FoxSleepy Hollow.

To be fair, she was already gifted/cursed as a Witness as a child but this has never been a problem in her adulthood. She does have a crazy and criminal sister who did not handle what had happened to them that well.

Like all the others, Mills is very capable, on her way to become FBI but a couple of resurrections, one headless horseman and an evil witchy wife later, her life is in shambles. I say she handles it all very well.

Sleepy Hollow season 1 trailer

Also worth mentioning, although only support cast member, is the lovely but disgraced State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) in StarzAsh vs Evil Dead (2015-) hit TV show.

We know Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the previous comedy horror movies to be cheesy, resourceful and unlucky. And Fisher needs to get to him before anything more evil happens. She is however not immune to his charms. With fatal consequences.

Ash vs Evil Dead season 1 trailer

Disruptive white men have not only been a black woman’s problem. White women have also had their share of uncontrollable white male partners.

FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (played by Anna Torv) in FoxFringe (2008-2013) collaborates with criminal Peter Bishop (by Joshua Jackson)  and his crazy father, Dr. Walter Bishop (by John Noble).

Fringe season 1 trailer

US Secret Service Agent Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) in Syfy’s Warehouse 13 (2009-2014) is a by-the-book agent. She has an eidetic memory and is all about details. A rising star that suddenly finds herself stuck with the recovering alcoholic and rule bender agent Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) with a knack for vibes.

Warehouse season 1 trailer

In the new CBS show Limitless (2015-) based on the movie Limitless (2011) Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter) has her share of trouble containing Brian Finch (Jake McDorman).

Limitless season 1 trailer

x-files-exclusiveFinally, but not forgetting Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). She iconized the trope in The X-files (originally aired 1993-2002, new mini-series in 2016), keeping control on Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was a full time job. It is also one of the most anticipated new season of a sci fi show EVER. And the first episode delievers. Especially when it comes to Mulder’s usual lift off and Scully carefully bringing him down and back to reality.

I am still amazed how fucked up their communication is, and yet we still watch it. Mulder never explains anything, but rambles on about THIS thing (never pronouncing what the specific this IS) being the most important bit about IT (?) and that they have to whistleblow it. Scully always shutting him down but never makes him actually explain it. She never asks why or what he is talking about. Either she is a Mulder mind reader or she does not care at all. Watch trailer for the new mini-series underneath.

Christine

 

 

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christinesrant, Entertainment, Sci-fi, Science Fiction, Television, The New Golden Era Formula, TV-series

The New Golden Era Formula. (Or, How to Watch the Same Shit. Repeatedly.)

People speak of the New Golden Era for TV.

Well, it has a backside.

You do not need to watch many TV shows before that numbing feeling that you have seen this before comes creeping along.

I have two problems with TV mystery/sci fi dramas today:
A) The Formula itself.
B) The character driven story.

A) The Golden Formula is basic = 1) Solve one (story) plot per episode. 2) Solve one arc plot per season. Usually 22 episodes.

Only 3-4 episodes connects directly to the arc plot, so a season contains mostly of one-offs. Usually, there is at least 2×2 episodes that follows the ‘to be continued’ rule, either around mid-season and/or season finale.

B) It is completed with character driven plot (character hooks) instead of story hooks. It is no longer the story that keeps us coming back for more. It is the characters.

You can’t have one without the other, you say?
Start making good story hooks then!

Every episode begins with up to 5 minutes of character development, a tiny bit of information gathered through lines or actions.

It then continues to easily solving the story. Which is the same one, only changing the backdrop, character name and the actors that play them. In some cases, not even that.

In the last minutes of each episode, we are again treated to some tiny bit of character info, only enough to keep us hanging on (hook), tuning into the next episode.

Rinse.
Repeat.

I have touched the subject earlier, as in my rant on Arrow and in the plea about Intruders.

This New Golden Era Formula has become more obvious with the current binge-watching epidemic. You can actually time the scenes and hooks in every episode!

Advertisements must take some of the blame. A show needs hooks before going to break, usually 2-3 times during a 40-45 minute episode, but ads cannot take the blame for character driven plots.

I clearly see who is at fault.

It is J. J. Abrams.

Alias  (2001-2006) is the show that stands out to me as the one first perfecting this formula.

It is a rollercoaster of hooks and plot twists heavily character driven. Sidney solves the same case every episode, the only change is with which wig. It is her relationships, her friends, her parents and employers, all summed up as ever-changing allies and enemies that moves the story forward. One minute at a time.

In 2004, Lost added flashbacks to the mix. A narrative device I now only think of as the Mother of all Evil.

The only way to escape boredom is if you find the characters interesting, lovable or not. If sucked in, you are trapped in a maze of hope.

Will they fall in love? Will he ever trust again? What happened to make him so cold-hearted? Which is all questions about the character.

Person of Interest (2011-) comes highly recommended by fans but it follows the Formula to the point of it being ridiculous. Sorry folks, Reese and Finch are just not that interesting for me to get an addiction. #StillNotAFan

However, in the shadows of the Formulistic Maze there is hope lurking.

Shows like The Lottery  and The Strain, had they only been better!

I firmly believe that the successes (critical acclaim) of shows like Fargo, The Leftovers, True Detective and (not surprisingly) Intruders, partly is because they dare to break free of the Formula.

Christine

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