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Tag Archives: Prime Suspect

I Just Didn’t Love It

As I was reading some news headlines and articles earlier in the week (it’s part of my day job), I came across information about TV shows that were canceled in 2011. Of course, I had to click through all of the photos (85 of them) to see if I found any surprises.  Check it out:

Shows That Signed Off in 2011

I looked through all 85 of the shows. Some I’d never heard of (Audrina), some I used to watch (Brothers and Sisters and Medium), and some I meant to tune into, but never did (Chaos and Human Target).

There are some shows that I had already heard about being canceled, so it was no surprise (Charlie’s Angels). Lie to Me is one show that I knew was being canceled, but it still made me sad because I came late to the party. I liked the premise of the show, but it was in one of those bad (for me) slots. I started watching when it came to Netflix and powered through the first 2 seasons and eagerly awaited the third. Then I heard it was being canceled. I’m not even sure I want to finish knowing that there won’t be more.

Only a couple of shows took me by surprise. It might be because I wasn’t paying attention. I had no idea this was the last season of The Closer. There have probably been a gazillion blurbs during the show, but since I DVR the episodes, I tend to cut out the extra talking. Another one that I will really miss and that I had hoped would return is Chicago Code. Living in Chicago, I’m a sucker for a show set here. The creators did a great job portraying the city and its politics. Jennifer Beals overdid her Chicago “accent,” but not enough to make me stop watching.

Prime Suspect is also on this list. It’s not on some other lists I checked out, so I’m still clinging to some hope that it will be renewed. I talked about my love for this show a couple of weeks ago.

Then, there are gobs of shows that were pretty decent, but are being canceled anyway. Of those, I watched Criminal Minds-Suspect Behavior, Memphis Beat, and The Protector. See, I told you I watch a lot of cop shows. These shows were good, but not great. I DVR’d them, but they were never a high priority. Usually, I’d watch these when there was nothing else on.

I think these shows are like the manuscripts many writers have. How many of us have received rejections along the lines of — “The writing is good, I just didn’t love it”  or the dreaded “This isn’t different enough to stand out in a crowded market”? I think many of us want to get angry and say those agents and editors don’t know what they’re talking about.

But the truth is, they do. They have to make snap decisions because they’re in this to make money. Like I said, the shows I named in the last paragraph were cop shows. Criminal Minds-Suspect Behavior tried to tap into the original (like the Law & Order franchise) but wasn’t as good. The other two just weren’t different enough. They didn’t make me love them. At least not like I love Rizzoli & Isles or Castle or Blue Bloods. These are shows that I am invested in. They don’t wait long on my DVR.

I’m not saying that if you get rejected you should assume you’re like one of the canceled shows. It’s not that you’re not good enough. You just need to find the right audience, someone who loves your work. For some people, that will mean going the self-publishing route to find readers, for others that will mean continuing to query until you find just the right target.

The actors in these shows aren’t going to quit just because their show was canceled. They’re going to move on to find the next show or the next, whichever will get them where they want to be. As writers, we should take a cue from them.

Which of the canceled shows are you going to miss? If there was any show you could bring back (from any year) what would it be?

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Reality or Fantasy?

As I’ve said before, I watch a lot of TV. I always have. I was a latch-key kid who learned to do homework in front of the TV. Back then, there weren’t too many kids’ shows playing in the afternoon, but that’s a different story for another day. Today I’m talking about how much reality we like in our fantasy.

When we read a book or watch a movie or TV, there is a certain level of suspension of disbelief we’re willing to go along with. That’s a fancy way of saying we’ll follow the characters if we can at least buy into a portion of what they’re doing. I think we all know that in general, cops don’t really solve murders in 43 minutes. CSI techs won’t work a crime scene with long, flowing hair hanging over the dead body. (That one really bugs me.) We’re willing to accept this, though, if the characters and/or plot are compelling enough.

A new show that I started watching this season is Prime Suspect. I never watched the British version. I tuned in because I like cop shows and Maria Bello stars in it. I knew I liked her as an actress, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what she’d been in. Turns out, she was in ER many, many years ago, so I’m sure that’s where I knew her from.

Anyway, I tuned in for the first episode. Bello plays Jane Timoney, a tough detective newly promoted to the homicide squad. The good ol’ boys mentality of the men in the squad is a bit overplayed and it annoyed me because although I believe there are still men out there who think that way, they were a little too over-the-top. It makes more sense in later episodes when we discover part of their dislike for Timoney is because they think she slept her way into the position. (She didn’t, but she did have an affair with someone in command.)

What made me fall in love with the show, though, was the reality. In that first episode, Timoney is chasing down a suspect and when they turn down an alley, the suspect stops and then charges at her. She gets her ass beat. It’s not that I think this was necessary, but there are already many strong (almost unbeatable) heroines out there. For instance, I also watch Rizzoli & Isles. Jane Rizzoli is also a tough detective, and although she’s been shot at by perpetrators and tortured by a serial killer, I can’t remember a time when a suspect just hauled off and punched her.

I found this bit of reality with Timoney refreshing. It was enough to get me to tune in for more episodes and now I watch it weekly. Unfortunately, it might be on the chopping block. Although it hasn’t been canceled, it has been replaced for mid-season.

Here’s a clip with Bello talking about her character. As you watch, you will see the scene from that first episode where the suspect beats her:

I know some people avoid certain kinds of books based on the profession of the characters. For example, some lawyers won’t read books with a hero or heroine who’s a lawyer because they can’t stand the inaccuracies. I have a pretty high tolerance for things, but occasionally I get pulled out of a story or movie.

I also know some people stick with reading historical romance or paranormal because it’s so far from their everyday reality, it’s easy to go along with it.

How about you? What is your breaking point in movies or books? How much reality do you want in your fantasy?