A Gold Mine of Crime

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.

DeadwoodSeason1_DVDcoverIn 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.


That’s all

Routine and Radio (with a splash of True Blood)

So, everything’s pretty much back to normal now. Work has returned to the ‘before Christmas’ rate and the children are back at school. Routine has been restored to all things in our household. And that, as routine dictates, means that our radio alarm goes off just before 7am so that we can hear the news.

Now, I know that Radio 1 isn’t the best station for news (unless you’re fifteen and worried about Lady Gaga’s new outfit), but that’s what we’re tuned to, so that’s the news we get. Or don’t get, as it happens. I mean, the least they could do is actually have the news on time. But no. Not the bearded, overweight DJ. And by that, I don’t mean Dave Lee Travis (showing my age). No, I mean, of course, Chris Moyles. See, Moyles is too busy chatting with his mates to worry about news. He’s too  busy listening to the sound of his own voice – as if they’re ‘down the pub’ gassing about . . . well, about nothing, really. He’s usually organising a night out or talking about the famous people he knows or how special he is. Loudly. Monotonously. Tediously.

I have no idea why he’s still on there. He seems to have been on the breakfast show for an eternity, clinging on like he’s never going to let go. Most DJs have stepped aside by the time they’ve been there this long, but not Moyles. I wouldn’t care except that he never lets the news come on at the right time. Ach. Well. Guess I’m gonna have to break the routine. I’ll have to  get the instructions out and work out how to retune the radio station, see who else is on offer.

Rant over.

On a happier note, season 3 of True Blood starts tonight – sookie is mine ‘n’ all that – so that should be fun. Bit of a cliffhanger at the end of Season 2 and it looks like Sookie is going to run to Eric for help. Oops, I smell trouble.

At this point I could have given you a pic of Moyles next to Dave Lee Travis with some kind of lovechild caption, but it’s Friday and no one needs to see something like that right before the weekend. It just wouldn’t be right. Instead, I thought you’d prefer the super-sexy cast of True Blood.

Thank me later.

Don’t peak too soon

Well, he didn’t disappoint last night, did he? Baggs. Baggsy. The Brand. He’s kept his head down for the past few weeks but last night he leapt up and ran across no man’s land naked and unarmed. A one-man charge that revealed everything in his arsenal.

He was all we could have wanted. Rude, bullish, incompetent, insulting, ridiculous, selfish and . . . masculine. Oh so very masculine. In fact, I could almost feel his masculinity from my sofa – as if he’d employed some Uri Geller-like trick. I half expected spoons to start bending in the drawer.  But those lucky ladies on his team, eh? Quite a priviledge to work with an adrenaline junkie, brimming with testosterone and – keep up you oldies – capable of keeping everything in his head. No need for pens and paper in Baggsland, just a supersized brain and well honed gut-instinct. Brilliant.  And the suggestion that anyone in their thirties is virtually ready for the old folk’s home . . .

The only disappointment was that his team won. I would’ve loved to have seen the stand off between Baggsy and Lord Sir Sugar Alan Lord. Sir. But then, it would peaking too soon wouldn’t it? It would be like X-Factor without the spectre of Katie Waissel (still not sure why the public dislikes her so) or Spangly Come Dancing without the right-wing-tory-turned-national-teddy-bear.

After that kind of entertainment, it’ll be a shame to see him go.

Separated at birth?

Reality Check

There comes a point in any reality TV show’s life when it becomes less interesting. I’m not really a fan of reality TV – I have to hold my hand up to The Apprentice and X-Factor (this year) – but generally I watch them to see people make arses out of themselves. X-Factor loses most of its draw for me when we get to the live shows because by then most of the bad stuff is behind us (Wagner excepted). The live show is just a continuous stream of people singing other people’s songs moderately well. It becomes a kind of Saturday night variety show where the public can spend their money by giving it to Simon Cowell voting for someone who will eventually be kicked out, or by downloading mediocre songs. I mean, seriously, Wagner? He’s never going to be a pop star is he? It just highlights the fact that the show is about entertainment, not music or finding future stars. So maybe that’s why he should win – that would put the cat among the pigeons, expose the X-factor for what it really is, and give Simon Cowell’s manipulation of the music industry a kick up the backside.

The Apprentice has the same kind of curve, with the first few episodes spotlighting those who are going to give us the most TV worthy moments. Stuart ‘The Brand’ Baggs please stand up. But then they either cotton on to the fact that they’ve been marked and so keep their heads down and stop saying idiotic things, or they get fired and are gone from our lives forever. And so the show settles down, the candidates are evenly matched and the chances to laugh at other people’s mistakes falls away – and that’s what we watch for, right? We don’t watch it to see their business prowess, we watch it to see them screw up. We want to see them bicker and bite and battle in the boardroom where, apparently, all bets are off.

And as for Strictly Come Dancing? Ach. Too spangly for me. That whole thing feels like it’s going to melt my eyeballs.

So what have we got to expect from X-Factor and The Apprentice? More of the same from X-Factor, I reckon. Matt will sing a high pitched one, Cher will do hip-hop with a wonky dance, Katie will do quirky, Wagner will do a Margarita Practan medley, the sulky one will do a sulky song . . . But the Apprentice? Well we’ve got the advert to look forward to – remember ‘pants man’? – and we’ve also got the excruciating interviews in the near future.

I can’t wait.