CSI, Haggard and Fun Television

CSI: Vegas

So far, this season of CSI: Vegas has been all over the place. It has produced rather pointless dramas--glitzy but utterly substanceless. And then it has given us some good episodes, such as last week's about the priest. When the priest says to Grissom, "I wanted to be a father and a husband," I thought, "Yes! Finally, a believable motive!" When Ballykissangel had Father Clifford contemplate leaving the priesthood, they couldn't come up with a plausible motive, and the show suffered. In order for a believing, committed priest to leave the priesthood (and not lose his concept of his own soul), he would have to believe that he was "called" to another role in life. CSI got that bit of psychology dead on; the other interchanges regarding religion were also well-written.

On the other hand, the episode with the evil teenagers was awful in terms of plot development and preachy dialog. I mean, what was that all about? I felt like the writers sure wanted to say something, but sure didn't know how to say it, so we got a bunch of platitudes instead. Again, the episode relied too much on the visuals. Don't get me wrong. I think the music video quality of LV's visuals can be downright stunning. But I start feeling manipulated when the visuals take the place of plotting or insightful dialog.

I do like the way Grissom and Sarah's relationship is playing out in the workplace.

Rider Haggard

Rider Haggard was the original Da Vinci Code guy. He didn't write gnostic-gospel type stuff, but he wrote the original archealogist chase novels. And I have to say, Dan Brown looks pretty wimpy in comparison. In She, which I'm reading now (Haggard also wrote King Solomon's Mines), Haggard invents an ancient text, obligingly translates the ancient text into Greek letters, then translates that into Greek cursive and THEN, translates that into English. There's about a chapter of this kind of thing in She. Well, thank you, Haggard. This creation of a whole imagined past is much more in the Tolkien tradition than the Brown tradition.

Poirot and Cool Television

I was watching a Poirot episode the other day. Hastings and Inspector Japp are walking along a wharf. They skirt a couple of men playing a chess game with huge pieces. I've seen this episode before, but this time, I thought, "Wait a minute," and backed up. Yup! Two guys in 30's style dress, playing chess with human size chess pieces. I went back a few more frames and yup, you can see them from the window of the hotel before the close-ups.

This is so cool. You see, Poriot is a period piece, and the episode is set at a seaside resort. What the chess pieces mean is that someone, whilst researching 1930's seaside resorts, came across this huge chess piece stuff and decided to stick it in the episode. For all of 1 minute!

I love that. I love that people care to do stuff like that. I love that there are writers and craftspeople and set designers and directors out there who think that it is worth the expense to hire two non-speaking actors, design extra props (or borrow them from somewhere) and film a sequence including said props, even though the props are mainly background. All for the sake of . . . ambience, tone!

Of course, this sort of thing gets really expensive, which is why Joss Whedon, who does it quite often, makes networks nervous. But I love it that there are people who think it is worthwhile to do stuff like that.


No comments: