Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A (Second) Closer Look At... The Best TV Detective.

If you ever doubted that I am incredibly awesome-rific at spotting trends, pointing them out to you, and then picking The Best of those trends, then set aside those doubts and join the cult of me, because I have proof that (a) I am awesome-rific and (b) TV really isn't that hard to write.

When I posted The Best Television Detective last month, I noted that most TV detectives solve crimes these days accidentally. Specifically, what I said is this:

The breakthrough, on every detective show I've ever watched, happens exactly the same way: The detective (police or independent investigator) is doing something completely unrelated to the investigation -- playing ping pong or looking down Cutty's blouse or hiding a cat -- and someone says something that solves the crime.

Here's where I prove my awesome-rific-ness: The other night (September 1, to be exact) we were watching The Closer, and The Closer solved the crime not once, but twice, and did it by getting not one but two accidental clues.

[ACCIDENTAL CLUE SPOILER ALERT!] Here's what happened: The Closer was trying to solve how a hairdresser on a Hollywood movie lot had been killed, and was focused on her abusive husband. While arguing with her parents about whether she was going to get married, she went into the kitchen to drink wine and pick at the cake -- that being "characterization" on a crime show... The Closer loves chocolate and won't eat it. She's a personality!-- and her fiance, Fritz, accused her of hiding out... at which point The Closer figured out a key part of the mystery.

[I'M STILL SPOILING ACCIDENTAL CLUES] Then, later on, while interrogating said husband, who for some reason is allowed to sit and read a script his lawyer has brought him-- is allowed to sit and read it while in the interrogation room, and also has a highlighter that has been given to him for some reason-- the husband points out that "all actors" highlight their scripts as soon as they read it... which gives The Closer the rest of the clues she needs to solve the rest of the mystery, and having solved the mystery, The Closer then regains her willpower and tells off her dad and goes on to not eat more chocolate.

So you see? It's insanely easy to write a mystery crime series, and all the crazy examples I gave will likely be actual episodes of The Closer and CSI: It Turns Out It's Still Popular and Law & Order: Maybe Fred Thompson Will Come Back After The Election and the rest of the crime shows.

Still, let me leave you with this question, which we'll take up in our next meeting: If The Closer is so good, why does she need accidental clues to solve all these mysteries?


Click here to see all the other topics I’ve ever discussed!


About a month ago, I took my first closer look at The Best Television Detective by investigating whether I had been plagiarized in advance.

Wondering why I call her The Closer? It's because I can never remember the names of characters on TV shows.

And, it's not related at all, but I like it and I liked it long before Diablo Cody realized that she could keep her Entertainment Weekly writing gig by periodically making references to 70s TV shows and 90s bands... so skip her column and instead read why Land of The Lost was The Best TV show from when I was a kid.

Date Quiz:

Did you know a short horror story of mine, Don't Eat My Face, will appear in the upcoming anthology "Harvest Hill," available this fall from Graveside Tales? Go to their site to find out more and order your copy! And don't forget to read my other horror stories on AfterDark.

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