TV Tuesday–The Closer

Happy Tuesday, everyone! As you may or may not recall, a couple of weeks ago I dubbed this day of the week TV Tuesday, and promised to spend it talking about my favorite shows and why I love them.

thecloserToday, I thought I’d do my homage to TNT’s The Closer, which stars Kyra Sedgewick as Brenda Lee Johnson, a Southern police detective with a reputation for getting her suspects to crack under questioning who has been transplanted to Los Angeles. (One of my favorite early episodes has Brenda trying to drive to a crime scene alone and getting lost because there are about a dozen different streets in LA with some version of Mulholland in their name. So true!)

The Closer isn’t a particularly new series–I’m sure it’s been around for three or four years now–but I only discovered it after it was into its third or fourth season. As soon as I did, I went back and purchased all the back episodes from iTunes, since I wanted to see it from the beginning. Along with House, I’d say this is the show that really brought me back to watching TV on a regular basis. Until I discovered these two dramas, I honestly thought TV had been lost to the reality show craze, and frankly, I hate reality shows.

So, what is it about this show that I love so much? Well, first, I’m a sucker for any type of mystery/police drama. That’s not because I like violence, but because I love the problem-solving. I prefer a story in which I’m learning “whodunnit” alongside the protagonists, rather than one where I know who the bad guy is with certainty from the outset. And I love when I get to the “aha” moment with the lead character, and realize at exactly the same point he or she does who the villain is. (Conversely, I hate it when I figure it out before the protagonist does, because then I wonder why the character is dumber than me, lol.) I think The Closer stands up well on this front–I’m usually right there with Brenda when it dawns on her who did it and/or how she can prove it.

But it’s really the character of Brenda Lee and Kyra Sedgwick’s masterful portrayal of her that keeps me coming back. The ensemble supporting cast of characters is also terrific–don’t get me wrong–but it’s Brenda I’m drawn to, and I think that’s simply because she’s not perfect. She’s smart and incredibly talented and driven, but she’s also a little too driven (to the exclusion, at times, of her loved ones) and more than a little neurotic and not always as diplomatic as she ought to be. In a lot of ways, I see myself in Brenda–or at least I want  to. Maybe I’m not as smart or talented as she is, but I’m at least as driven, and that leads me to make all the same basic mistakes in my own interpersonal relationships that she does (although perhaps not quite to her extreme). And I love Brenda for that, and for the fact that she is so flawed and yet, ultimately, cares deeply about the very people she so often hurts in her determination to get to the truth.

No TV Tuesday

Sorry, no TV Tuesday feature this week. I had to go into the office today and never got a chance to get a post up as a result. I THINK we have WTF Wednesday tomorrow, barring “incidents,” but if not and you’re hankering for some Jackie thoughts, hop on over to Southern Fried Chicas where I’m talking about what you do AFTER the book is actually out.

See you there! Another copy of Behind the Red Door is, of course, up for grabs.

TV Tuesday–Burn Notice

As I was casting about for topics for today’s blog, it occurred to me that I twitter quite a bit about TV shows I like, but rarely talk about them otherwise. I suppose that’s partly because, for a while, I was kind of a TV snob–that is, I didn’t really watch anything except PBS and sports (oh, the hours I have wasted watching baseball and football games!) because I just wasn’t interested (or didn’t think I was interested) in any of the series on network or cable TV.

In the last year or so, however, I have come to see the error of my ways. I think my return to series television was actually brought about not by the show I’m going to talk about today, but by the Fox series, House. I’d seen ads for it, but thought, “Oh, another medical show, bleh!”

Then my friend and CP Lacey Kaye mentioned how she loved the series and that its lead actor was Hugh Laurie. I did a double-take. I adore Hugh Laurie, going back to his days as Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster and his turns in Rowan Atkinson’s inimitable Black Adder series. I couldn’t BELIEVE that craggy, grumpy actor in the ads was my darling, effeminate King George from Black Adder, but I had to watch. The rest, as they say, is history.

But my House devotion must be saved for another TV Tuesday, because the show I am longing for right now is Burn Notice. Lucky for me, I only have to wait until Thursday for the new season to begin.1

I was introduced to Burn Notice by Amie Stuart, who mentioned it in IM. At that point in time, I’d seen ads for it, but I honestly wasn’t sure what it was about (mostly, from the commercial I’d seen, it seemed to be about blowing stuff up, which seemed more up my 11yo son’s alley than mine) and so I hadn’t bothered to check it out. But Amie’s in my trust network, and I figured if she liked it, I probably would, too.

I watched a couple of episodes from the middle of the second season and was HOOKED. I had to go to USA Network’s website and go back to the beginning. I watched every episode from the beginning of the first season onward, and then waited impatiently for each new episode to appear.

michaelwestenSo, what is it that I love so much about Burn Notice? Well, partly, it’s (duh) Jeffrey Donovan, who stars as former spy Michael Westen. I realize he’s not everyone’s cuppa, but oh my, to me, he is tall, dark, and utterly scrumptious.

But ultimately, what’s really fascinating about Burn Notice is the way the characterization. The characters could easily be caricaturish, but they’re not. I especially love the way the relationships between them grow and change, as Michael navigates his touchy childhood with his mother (played to perfection by a chain-smoking Sharon Gless) and ne’er-do-well brother, as well as his on-again, off-again romance with former IRA terrorist Fiona Glenanne (who could really wear longer skirts/shorts, but then again, the show IS set in Miami).

None of which is to say that the plots of this show don’t also rock. They do. And I have to admit that the clever way the writers weave the overarching plot arc for the series into the shorter plots for each episode has become a study for me, since I have an idea for a series of books that would need to use a similar technique. In this show, I think it’s masterfully done and the overarching thread is never dropped (the way it sometimes is in other series like X-Files that have similar premises about a deep, dark secret that underlies everything).

It also doesn’t hurt that I can claim a certain research angle for my current WIP, which features a former spy, too. Oddly enough, the idea for this book was conceived long before Burn Notice ever hit the airwaves, so I didn’t “borrow” anything initially. It just so happens, however, that the hero of this book and Michael Westen have a lot in commen, not the least of which is being tall, dark, and scrumptious!

So, have you ever watched Burn Notice? Love it, hate it, or feel lukewarm about it?

1USA and some of the other cable networks do this funny thing with their series, but I actually kind of like it. Instead of doing a single 26 week season all at once, they do two 13-week seasons per year, once in the fall and one in the summer. It takes a little getting used to, but I think it’s nice because, instead of glutting oneself for 26 weeks on a show and then having to wait a whole six months for the next season, there’s only 13 weeks between the last show of the old season and the first show of the next. I hate waiting and will even lose interest in a series if I have to wait too long for the next new show. (Publishers should take note of this, too. Making readers wait more than six months for the next book in an author’s series is a singularly bad idea, and four months is probably ideal. If readers have to wait too long, they may lose interest and forget the series entirely.)