Saturday, May 19, 2012

Warts and All

Midsommer Murders family

I read an article about viewers so identifying with the characters in television series that when the season or the series ends they get depressed. I at first blamed this on the "cliff hanger" season closers that often have me in tears. Alright, I cry easily. But it got me thinking of the shows and their characters I identify with the most. And they are more and more English or Australian mysteries and dramas. The actors they employ as leading characters have character: warts and all. And they clearly are not sewn into their costumes.

There frankly was not a single character on Desperate Housewives, which just ended its long run, that I could identify with on any level. And I tried to get involved with Revenge but it has been decades since I was in the age group of any of the leading roles. The American TV series I do watch seem to have at least one or more main characters that are middle aged or over: NCIS (which is obviously killing off its oldest), NCIS: Los Angeles (Hedy has tendered her resignation), Castle, and White Collar (each of which have at least one middle aged lead).

But I find myself gravitating more and more to English mysteries. This should not surprise me as I read Agatha Christie more often than Ellery Queen. I like that a murder will upset tea better than a mad cap shoot'em up. But I also like my characters real and with flaws beyond the bedroom. I am so upset that I did not discover The Last Detective until the series was over. Or Da Vinci's Inquest, a Canadian series, until it had completed its run. Netflix allowed me to become totally immersed in both.

Da Vinci's Inquest

The male leads all were older and flawed and the women dressed appropriately to their jobs and did not have plastic improvements to their figures. What cop besides Becket on Castle can afford that?

I was thrilled to discover that another British series I had fallen in love with would be producing a sixth season: Doc Martin. American producers would never consider the lead character good looking enough. Nor is he very lovable. But I love the series. The acting. The intelligent and complex plots.

Doc Martin

And while I am leaving out tons of favorites I have watched and mourned over the years like Inspector Morse, Return to Cranfield, Miss Marple, and now Hercule Poirot. I cannot wrap this up without mentioning Foyle's War. This British series taught me more about the complex relationship of the English with WWII than I ever learned in history class. And they did it with great drama and acting and without belittling my intelligence.

Foyle's War cast

If you look at the current high rated favorites being produced by the British; Downton Abbey, Sherlock Holmes and the soon to be released Prequel to Inspector Morse I obviously will have many more non-American options. I definitely want to explore Canadian and Australian series that being produced and I hope that Hulu and Netflix provides more of those options. I want real people to identify with and not Barbie Dolls.

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting read and more so because I haven't seen any of them except of course Morse. I loved both John Thaw and Kevin Whately. I recall years ago seeing the Miss Marples series with the great Margaret Rutherford and of course series such as Upstairs, Downstairs and of course Brideshead Revisited. In 1967 the BBC did a spectacular job of Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga - I wonder if I'd think it was so great today. It was remade in the early 2000s but I'm not sure the actors could have beaten the likes of Kenneth More, Nyree Dawn Porter and Eric Porter.


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