Like crime fiction on TV? Well y’know, that whole genre thing can be hard to pin down.
From the urban grizzle of Luther to the bleak and gritty Scandi crime of The Killing, and the sun-drenched bloodletting of Dexter, TV crime fiction has come a long way, but crime isn’t just cops catching criminals, right? There’s more to it than just plain old police procedural. I mean, sometimes we can get our crime fix in unexpected places . . . and I think I might have struck gold, because there’s one show that stands out for me right now. It first aired nine years ago, so I’m a little late to this party, but I recently came into possession of a box set (legitimately, I hasten to add – no crime involved), and I’ve been dragged into the dirty, lawless world of Deadwood.
‘That’s not crime,’ I hear you say, ‘that’s a western series.’
Well . . . take another look.
In just one episode of Deadwood there’s more crime than there is in a whole series of The Killing or The Bridge or The Chunnel, The Tunnel, or whatever they’re calling this round of remake. In fact, Deadwood’s got it all. Racketeering, drug-dealing, gambling, murder, contract killing, brawling, stealing, revenge; you name it, it’s in there. And not only does Deadwood parade this delicious buffet of crime for us, but it does it in the dirty, horse-trampled quagmire of a world that feels different. It takes you somewhere you’ve never been. There are no graffiti-strewn tenement blocks here, no grey inner city clichés. Characters can’t rely on mobile phones, and law bringers can’t fall back on satellite tracking and facial recognition technology. This is back to basics crime where each and every one of the players has to use their own ingenuity to survive the harsh and cruel world in which they live. And you want great characters, right? Well, Deadwood’s got those too. How about Al Swearengen, the ruthless, murderous, foul-mouthed limey? Or there’s Seth Bullock, if you prefer a more noble character – he’s the fearless, uncompromising lawman turned storekeeper, drawn back into keeping the peace.
So don’t tell me Deadwood isn’t crime, jut because it’s set in the 1870s.
You see, sometimes we just have to look in unexpected places – don’t discount something just because it’s not in your usual setting.