Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I hate police, but love Detective shows.

I was feeling despondent, but I'm out of it now. I'm pretty pleased to be out of it. The way I got out of it was by watching some new police procedurals on television.

I hate police as an institution (and often as people, though that is more on a case by case basis) but for some reason I love police procedurals. up to about 2005 I watched ever single episode of law and order, including the spin offs. Watched it with my family a whole lot. I also have ended up watching a few different detective procedurals. Some of them are different than others, but some are just good old fashioned cop glorifying bullshit.

But as the new show Castle has been helping me realise, It's all because of the stories. For those not in the know, castle is a show in which the main character is a mystery writer who tags along with a detective to crimes to get ideas for his books.

So of course Castle thinks of all of the cases in terms of what the best story would be. That gets me to thinking. In these sorts of shows it's all about the storyline. I used to predict the results of Law and Order episodes. I was pretty accurate. My parents actually strongly encouraged that I not tell them anything during the episodes because if I talked I would pretty consistently ruin it.

That's the point though, I love these shows because they're just that, procedural. The whole thing is based on how a story works. There are very strict rules to set up and to how the story goes about after that. All of the little twists and turns are part of the formula, and what's exciting is seeing how the writers twist the formula.

The best procedural dramas make you believe that the end result was the only possible end result. It doesn't matter if it was a twist or if it was the butler all along, it just matters that you believe that it was the only option.

Modern police procedurals in many ways are our current myths. Often they're the most popular shows on television, be it CSI or NYPD Blue, and they always have characteristics that are similar to classic myths.

The modern Achilles', all rage and power, hamstrung by pride. That describes so many of the most compelling police characters in television.

I hate the ideals that they put forth, and the assumption that police are necessary or that their tactics are just, but I can't help but love the stories.

So there it is. I love my procedural dramas, no matter how prejiduced and misinforming they are, because they're an avenue for telling stories that are comfortably the same, but which differ Just enough.

I love Ashes to Ashes, and Law and Order, and Castle, and a few new ones that are coming up. I love the way the stories fit together so well, and the consistencies and inconsistencies. It's fun to second guess the writers. It's fun to see the interpersonal relations. No mater what I think about the faulty morals that these shows espouse to a largely influencable public, I can't get past how good the stories are.

I don't like violence but I love Achilles, and Cuchulain. I don't like police, but I love detective fiction. I can't get enough of Philip Marlowe, and Sam Spade. I can't get enough of Seely Booth and Temperance Brenan. It's tricky, balancing my dislike of the attitudes these myths may be strengthening in us and what wonderful stories they are.

No comments: