Don’t raise your eye

12 01 2013

Oh my Hera, how bad is it going to get?

I just watched—ye gads, I can barely believe it—yet another episode of CSI: New York, and Athena have mercy on my soul.

Yes, I dig police procedurals and yes, I dig New York, but CSI:NY is so terrible it could make someone less steadfast than me hate both procedurals and New York. This last episode? The one where the off-duty got shot shortly after getting off the phone with his cop son of whom he is proud and loves and is shot during a mugging by three black men who turned out to be two white guys and one Latino guy in black masks, one of whom was a career criminal who was picked up and held in interrogation and never even thought to ASK FOR A FUCKING LAWYER and who was totally and completely lied to by the cops (who are shocked(!) that the other career criminal demands a lawyer)—which we’re supposed to applaud because, y’know, they catch the bad guy? That episode?

I can’t even talk about it.

(And if you think I spoiled it for you, well here’s a tip: IT WAS ALREADY SPOILED.)

In some ways, CSI:NY is even worse than CSI:Miami, and CSI:Miami was a truly terrible show. I liked the first season well enough, and watched even after they killed off my favorite character, Speedle, but at some point the posturing Horatio Caine and the stupid my-brother-his-wife-my-employee-his-sister, topped off by the sideways putting on/taking off sunglasses became laughable—and not in a good way. I stopped watching.

But even though I hit the ugh point with CSI:NY years ago, I can’t manage to stop watching. It’s gone beyond hate-watching into a kind of contempt-watch, where I feel like my world gets worse because I can’t turn away from this horror.

I admit that I’ll watch shows long past their prime; see, for example, Bones. I still watch the original CSI, even though it really lost its mojo when Gil Grissom left for the jungle, and I miss weird-Greg. Still, while it’s burnt out it’s not actively offensive, and while the most I get out of the show is a not-unpleasant passage of time, sometimes on a Friday night (I watch on my computer) that’s all I really want.

Law & Order also went on too long, but their ripped-from-the-headlines approach at least gave them something new to film. I didn’t watch the last few seasons, after  Ed (Jesse Martin) left, but I always did like Anita Van Buren. I go back and forth on L&O:Criminal Intent: Bobby bugged the shit out of me, but he was a great character, a bent, psychological version of Gil Grissom; plus, y’know, Kathryn Erbe.

L&O:SVU is the more interesting case. I missed a few years when I didn’t have a t.v. and before the episodes streamed, but I have watched a fair number of post-Elliot episodes. I think I might finally be done, however, because the show has gone beyond burnt out into the nihilistic. No, it’s nothing like MI5—it doesn’t insist on killing off all of its characters—but it’s gotten to the point where I think Why bother watching? It’s all going to shit, anyway. There are occasional ‘happy’ endings, i.e., ones in which the bad guy is caught, the victim, vindicated, but for the most part these are amorality tales in hell.

And that, in a sense, is what makes it the more interesting case: There is no redemption, everything is awful, and you know that if the younger detectives don’t get out soon, they’ll be trapped in the same Sisyphean agony as Liv, Munch, and Finn. It has gone beyond procedural into existential despair, No Exit for the criminally-minded.

It is this numbness, this darkness which might make it worth airing, even if I may not be able to bring myself to watch it anymore. L&O:SVU has gone beyond good and evil and into a kind of overwhelming corruption of everything and everyone, a corruption noteworthy precisely because it is assumed, rather than remarked upon. It is a strung-out losing game, in which everyone, regardless, keeps going ’round. That, in and of itself, makes me wonder how far it could go.

Unlike, say, the simplistic moralizing of CSI:NY and. . . ugh, I can’t even. . . .

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4 responses

12 01 2013
peacelovetogetherness

I feel the same way about Revenge and Private Practice and yet I cannot look away.

13 01 2013
dmfantd
14 01 2013
absurdbeats

@plt: I watched a bit of Revenge, but, honestly, I’m not longer willing to put in the time to deal with continuing storylines. And given that I stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy after the first season—even though I really did like it—Private Practice wasn’t ever going to happen. (I did watch bits here and there, but it never sank into me.)

But, yeah.

@dmf: Oo, I might have to check that out.

16 01 2013
geekhiker

I watched CSI for a few years, then got tired of it. It wasn’t the plots or even the characters; somehow, just watching a show about people being murdered every week got depressing.

Since my trip, I’ve really cut back on TV. Pretty much down to Daily Show and Colbert, plus a couple of comedies (Parks & Red and Big Bang Theory) because they’re written well enough to be funny…

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