Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the singing detective

rarely i talk about a televsion on here, when i do, i use the tag "vast wasteland" this is due to a speech given by newton n. minow, back in 1961.
the important bit is this:

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.

i was always a bit dubious about the first part, television being better than theater? nonsense! and then i watched the 1986 series the singing detective and i realized, there might actually be something to that.

this show is a lot more complicated than it seems, it stars michael gambon (who should do more narration) as an author of detectives novels. he's stuck in the hospital due to his psoriatic arthropathy. fever, isolation, and his bad temper leave him a bit mad, and he starts hallucinating, getting lost in thought, and remembering things he'd rather have forgotten. he's mentally working through one of his old novels, the singing detective, and casting himself as the title role, other people from his life appear through out.
it's just this amazing look into the life of this man, and it's honestly one of the best things i've ever seen. it's beautiful, moving, frightening, and funny; it's life.
i was a bit put off at first when i realized all the singing and music was just lipsynching to oldies, but it makes sense as you realize it's all just memories of his childhood.

i highly recommend this series to anyone.

next up in my queue is the american movie starring robert downey jr. it looks far more campy, and honestly more what i was expecting of this series. i know i'll likely be disappointed now after watching this amazing tv show, but at least it has the same writer, and at worst looks like it'll be mindless fun.

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