September 18, 2014 at 10:30pm
We watched all of True Detective not because I have any particular interest in crime fiction or serial killer narratives but because I’d heard things about it that suggested something a little more unusual. People were comparing it (wrongly) to Twin Peaks, and they were (rightly) talking about Thomas Ligotti, which is bound to get my attention. And now that I’ve finished the series, I see where they were coming from — Nic Pizzolatto, the show’s lead writer and creator, has clearly done his reading in that area — but I’ve no idea how the plagiarism question could ever possibly be resolved (if it even is a real question). I doubt whether Thomas Ligotti would care about it either way.
I didn’t like that True Detective has no real female characters. The women in the show are either victims or simply exist to belittle and harass the male leads, and their suffering — of which there is a great deal — exists primarily to outline the unknowable darkness in a world of men. It’s a mixed-up version of the madonna-whore complex, and whether or not it is inherited from the show’s origins in generic pulp fiction, I found this aspect regrettable and uninteresting.
But at first it seemed to be different! The starting points were somewhat predictable — the grisly ritualised murder, the straight cop paired up with a dangerous free-thinking maverick, the obsession with investigation as a kind of rarified asceticism — but the look and feel of the thing was incredible. Louisiana cast in sharp blocks of colour, a world towering inside my TV like the set of a giant diorama. I liked the symbols and the ideas more than I liked any promise of a resolution; most of all I liked the idea that there might not even be any resolution.
(spoilers to follow.)
‘There are songs to sing, there are feelings to feel, there are thoughts to think. That makes three things, and you can’t do three things at the same time. The singing is easy, syrup in my mouth, and the thinking comes with the tune, so that leaves only the feelings. Am I right, or am I right? I can sing the singing. I can think the thinking. But you’re not going to catch me feeling the feeling. No, sir.’
I wrote something about The Singing Detective and you can read it here.
August 29, 2008 at 8:14pm
A1: The Musical was the best thing I’ve seen on Channel 4 in ages.
July 25, 2008 at 9:49am
Actually, I watched this program last night and it was just plain weird. Barrowman put himself through all kinds of bizarre, antiquated tests for homosexuality, most of which had clearly been designed in more homophobic times than the present day. And some of them were obviously just nonsense, like the scientist who believed he could spot homosexuals by the length of their fingers…
But am I alone in not finding the whole nature/nurture debate on homosexuality at all interesting? And in fact, finding it rather offensive for a program to focus so obsessively on ‘what made this person gay’? I mean, the most dramatic bit of the show came when it looked like John could have been ‘caught out’ by a test that would show he somehow had a secretly ‘straight’ brain. What exactly did that have to do with discovering the origins of his sexuality?
Personally I’m happy to share the eventual conclusion of the program, which was that yes, sexuality probably is determined at birth, but it was wrapped up in such a strange shroud of pseudoscientific waffle that it was hard not to see the real point of the show as more along the lines of ‘LET’S SEE HOW GAY YOU REALLY ARE, BARROWMAN’.
Also, when meeting his scottish parents, John Barrowman speaks in a really strange scottish accent which is just I mean whaaat.
p.s. - better review of it than I can manage now is here…
'“You dressed me up in a bikini!” screeched Barrowman at his poor father, effortlessly conflating homosexuality with effeminacy. “That was on the QE2,” managed Barrowman senior by way of explanation. Barrowman junior then showed us his childhood closet, complete with Sonny and Cher dolls.'