In lieu of a longer, one-themed approach, I’m opting for two shorter ones today.
Sgt. Pepper Moments
On Wednesday, my colleague, John McFetridge, wrote a fantastic article about a Sgt. Pepper Moment he and the other writers for his show, “The Bridge,” had earlier this year (and get a load of the kick-ass trailer for "The Bridge). As they were writing episodes for “The Bridge,” another cop show, “Southland,” premiered and challenged them in new and unique ways. The entire post is well worth reading.
I got to thinking about my own Sgt. Pepper Moments. These would be moments in my life where I experienced something that completely changed an aspect of my life. I’m not going down the ultimate Sgt. Pepper Moment (being a dad), but, rather, staying on topic with mystery and crime fiction. As I wrote in my bio for this blog, I’m a late comer to the crime fiction genre. I’m here because of a Sgt. Pepper moment. I can state it in two words: Mystic River. Up until its publication, I rarely gave mysteries a glance. Heck, I didn’t even realize there was a distinction between “mystery fiction” and “crime fiction.”
That changed in 2001. After listening to an NPR interview (you'll need RealPlayer to hear it) with author Dennis Lehane, I decided to give the book a try. It rocked my world. I had no idea that a book--a *mystery* book--could be so profound. It changed the course of my reading and my interests. It spoke to me in ways I didn’t know existed. I’ve read it three times now, and I return to it when I need to be reminded how a modern master of storytelling demonstrates his craft.
What are your Sgt. Pepper Moments that got you to start reading mystery and crime fiction?
CSI and the Case of the Recurring Story Line
I have watched CSI on Thursday nights since the beginning. Yeah, Grissom’s gone but Sara’s back...again (Jorja Fox, the Brett Farve of television?). It’s almost back to normal. But there’s a new twist in this season’s storytelling. Have you picked up on it? In the premiere, there was Main Case (the lady in the traffic accident) but there was also the John Doe who arrived at the ME. For the bulk of the show, I expected the John Doe to relate (miraculously!) to the Main Case. The episode ended without a link. Hot dog, I thought, are the writers actually going to have a thread that runs through more than one show?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and appreciate the Crime of the Week, but lots of times, I want the longer, deeper mystery ("The Wire" anyone?). Come episode two, John Doe made another appearance...and he still wasn’t solved. Way to go, writers. Heck, the closing scene of the program all but indicated something very peculiar going on in the Vegas crime lab. I have my suspicions about Lawrence Fishburne’s character (my wife doesn’t share them). We’ll see how it turns up. Suffice it to day, what CSI has started doing this season is making me want to tune in. In book speak, it’s making me want to turn the pages. Fast.
Are y’all liking CSI so far this year? Do you like their approach to the storytelling? If not, what mystery/cop show do you like and why?
This weekend only, Starbucks is launching it's new instant coffee, Via, in stores. You can go and take a taste test and see if you can identify the instant coffee vs. the brewed coffee. I could smell the difference and the taste was just further evidence. My reward (and yours if you try it): a coupon for a free cuppa joe. For instant, Via was not all that bad, easily the best tasting instant coffee I've ever had. Still, I'm a brew man, myself. But I can't wait for that next camping trip...
Good point about CSI. I think that when X-Files worked best was when they left a thread hanging that they'd pull into next week. That's the upside of an hour-long weekly--the ability to run a smaller story along with a bigger one, then carry the bigger one through a bigger arc, as they'd say in the comic books.
Damn, man, you're making the rest of us look lazy.
Good question about Sgt Pepper moments though. Tricky to answer. THE USUAL SUSPECTS was one. It came at a time when i guess i was ready to be hit by something, and that did the trick. The film version of LA CONFIDENTIAL a couple of years later was another massive moment.
In books....there have been so many. The first Lawrence block book that i read was EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, and the ending of that book punched a hole in my gut and it took me awhile to read another book.
Jim Dodge was one of those "why bother writing, he's already perfect" moments. And THE WIRE, but we already knew that.
I like both kinds of TV - the stuff that continues a thread for a whole season and the stuff that wraps everything up neatly each week - depends on my mood. I haven't seen any of the new CSI episodes (don't even know if they're showing here in Oz yet) but I if I want a dose of "let's have a crime and solve it in 42 minutes" I'll go for NCIS (the old one not the ridiculous Los Angeles one which seems to think touch screens are cutting edge technology)
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