T.V. to Obsess About

So.

I just got cable.

The Author

The express purpose being so that I can watch hockey games at home for the first time in about two years – a luxury I only realized I was taking for granted when it was no longer afforded to me.

Here’s a few things I’m doing my best not to take for granted now:

LUTHER

Idris Elba plays the brilliant, self-destructive detective John Luther, tasked with cracking the most horrifically violent cases in the department.  The job ruins his life.  It’s almost certainly ruining his spine — no way one man can sulk around London at a 40 degree angle like that all the goddamn time without developing permanent, debilitating back problems.

“Fucking.  Ow.”

 Luther is an endlessly complex character, perfectly realized in Idris Elba’s performance.  John is a man who will break the law forty different ways along the way towards a just conclusion.  That is, in and of itself, an archetype we’ve seen before.  But you’ve never seen it like this.  Here is a man who does not hesitate in his actions but also acknowledges that he has no control over the consequences.  Luther’s life is host to a myriad of innocents who get caught up in it all and simply do not make it out.  Elba’s task is to wear that burden in every scene and to keep the show from being just another procedural.  The man does it masterfully.  See, the show itself has its share of weak moments (Season One’s ending is satisfying as all hell, but the build up of the final two episodes is clumsy and jarring after the first few pitch-perfect ones).  But Idris Elba doesn’t.  And the opportunity to watch an actor work like this is reason enough to tune in every week.  It’s very often breath-taking. In this way, going through Luther feels an awful lot like going through Dexter.  Now, I struggle to think of two shows that are more inherently different – in terms of style, tone, and most importantly, execution.  But each series features an actor in his prime taking a character and slowly, naturally, beautifully making him real – that evolution being the heart and the soul of the narrative itself. Dexter’s arc is that of a monster coming to terms with his own humanity, only to have every fucking shred of it ripped away from him. 

 Luther’s… I don’t know where Luther is headed, but I have an idea that it’s going to be fascinating.Not that the show is enjoyable ONLY because of Elba (though yeah, he’s a very big part of it).  The writing is fucking superb, the second season containing a few villains right out of Arkham.  I wouldn’t dare spoil anymore than this, but I will say that the first portion of the second season focuses on the hunt for a man who likes to speak in Elizabethan nursery rhymes while murdering women on camera.  Oh, and also he wears a mask:

Sleep Well!

 Also, Season Two closes with a pan over the London skyline and a Grinderman song.   But I won’t say which song specifically because that would really betray the tone of that scene.Luther is a show you really should be watching.

24/7: Rangers & Flyers

Here’s a party I am disastrously late to.  Despite having been aware of its existence since it’s inception, I’d never actually seen an episode of HBO’s hockey docu-series 24/7 until just recently.  Within ten minutes of the first episode, I was absolutely fucking hooked – despite the fact that a series about both the Rangers and the Flyers sounds, on paper at least, about as much to me as an enema.

But the show is impossibly addictive, shining a light onto a few misconceptions I had about professional athletes.  I never get tired of hearing the players curse and trash talk but I love seeing them relaxing at home with their families even more.  That I found terrifically rewarding and refreshing.

I also never got tired of Ilya Bryzgalov.  Like, in a totally genuine way.  I just love that little orange Rusky.



Whitechapel 

Another brilliant BBC cop show I’m obsessing over of late.I struggle to say that Whitechapel is a “good” show, in as much as I really don’ t think the series could hold it’s own with the likes of Luther or The Wire or any of the other shows I tend to get really into.  But Whitechapel is nothing if not sincere and I appreciate sincerity in art like few other things. 

The simplest synopsis is simply that Whitechapel is about a unit within the London police force that handles copy-cats copy-catting other famous London crimes.  Which is true… but even as I write that, I’m aware that it’s a pretty goddamn stupid plot.  I mean, I love this show – and not in the way that people “love” The Walking Dead either.  I legitimately find it to be enjoyable.But…But that is a pretty goddamn stupid plot.

The first time around (season one, that is to say), the unit is tasked with bringing to justice someone who is meticulously recreating the Jack the Ripper murders.  Now, I happen to know an awful lot about the Ripper case (yes, I was that kid in school) and I never ever got tired of the way the show threaded those finer details into it’s story.  Whitechapel is more often entertaining and engaging that it isn’t, and all in all, the characters are so well realized those lesser moments are very easily overlooked. This was a terribly rewarding bit of television if for no other reason than it prompted this conversation between me and my girlfriend: 

ME:  My god – they recreated the Mary Kelly scene…

SHE: Like… from the old police report?

ME: No – no, there are pictures.

SHE: …Okay, now I have to see them.

JUMP CUT to TERRIFIED SHRIEKING

TERRIERS  

I wish Terriers had the rabid fanbase that just refused to let the show die.  I mean… just fucking listen to the theme song.  

 Goddamn tragedy, I’m telling you.

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