Oh write me a beacon so I know the way

24 02 2013

dmf is an enabler.

He turned me on to Wallander, which third series I just finished watching.

Okay, note: here be spoilers.

Yes, my weakness for police procedurals was fed by the mischievous dmf, who dangled Kenneth Branagh-as-a-Swedish-cop in front of me, knowing I would bite. It was dark and gloomy and  Wallander was dark and gloomy and the long shots of the prairie and the sea somehow managed to be both peaceful and menacing.

I generally only watched one episode a night. Unlike, say, Waking the Dead, there was little light relief in each episode, nor was it like Numb3rs, where things often turned out okay; no, Wallander was an hour-and-a-half of anxiety, waiting for something to go wrong.

To its credit, things didn’t always go wrong, but, honestly, you knew better than to think the right would last for long.

I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of Luther—Idris Elba, duh!—and really, really enjoy Alice Morgan, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Luther and Wallander share the same dim fortune. Luther’s wife came to him in the last episode I watched, but I bet, as with Wallander’s girlfriend, she won’t be long with him.

But maybe not, maybe the producers will allow him Zoe, if only to keep we viewers on edge wondering if she sticks around (or stays alive). I do have to say that, as much as I liked Vanya, I worried that he was messing things up with her; it was easier after she left.

Anyway, one downside to watching all of these procedurals is that certain plot points are repeated across the various series. This past fall CSI featured a 3D-printed gun; a week or two later, the terribler-and-terribler CSI: New York. . . featured a 3D-printed gun. Brennan was shot in that lousy Bones episode with a bullet that couldn’t be found; a frozen meat bullet (which turned out to be a frozen blood bullet), I hissed, thinking of a similar bullet from, I think, an years-ago CSI.

The plot points aren’t necessarily shared across the entire genre: there are things that show up on the forensic shows that wouldn’t, say, matter much on any of the Law & Order series. The too-creepy-even-for-me Wire in the Blood shares more with the tamer-but-still-creepy Criminal Minds than with, say, the Inspector Lynley series (which I stopped watching because he was so insufferable), or NCIS. And Cold Case was a rather direct theft of Cold Squad.

And, of course, you learn to be far more skeptical than the cops, and to keep an eye out for any halfway-well-known actor: that person almost certainly will figure prominently in the the plot. Both of these can detract somewhat from one’s enjoyment: you the viewer figure things out more quickly not because you’d be a better detective than these folks, but because you can see signals to which the t.v. cops are blind.

Would I have been any kind of detective? I doubt it. For one thing, I had zero desire to become a cop, and it was only in my thirties that I realized how much I liked puzzles—and that only emerged when  wondering what I might have specialized in had I gone to (and made it through) med school. I liked diagnostics, so maybe internal medicine, but more likely, pathology.

In any case, with training I might have been a competent enough detective, but I doubt I’d have been anything more than that, and might not have been even that.

Now, now I’m a competent enough adjunct professor, and trying to be something more than that. Perhaps that’s among the reasons I like procedurals: I’m still trying to puzzle my way through, so I appreciate those moments, even if fictional, when the puzzles have been solved.