The Shield – In Memorandum

Six years I’ve waded faithfully – or is it blindly? – through The Shield‘s rising turpitude, its serpentine storylining brushing unseen against my immersed body, the show’s writing satisfying the need to resolve each ep’s crime-of-the-week while each season’s caper escapade escalating crisis builds towards a season ending that’s as welcome – and inevitable – as dementia. Lately I’ve been flashing on Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman‘s comics runs in the eighties and nineties – each and every ep, I’m led down back-of-my-hand familiar back- and dead-end-alleys, and each time I reach the end, whatever I find is a). not what I expect and b). the most obvious or logical thing in the world.

My TradeMe connections brought me right up to Season 6. The final season (Season 7) is half-way through its run in the States as I type this. And thanks to my leetle frien’, I’m just a few days behind them.

It’s all building towards a James Ellroy ending. And just like in Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet, the following thoughts are uppermost in my mind with this final season:

  • no good turn goes unpunished;
  • the rule of unintended consequences applies supreme;
  • things, no matter the best of intentions, will not – can not – end well.

So often in film and television these days, I recognise the portents and the foreshadowing, and can comfort myself that, even if/when things go bad, I was braced for it. But now, despite six seasons of faithful viewing, and with only seven eps to go, my sleeps in between are fitful with drowning dreams…. I can’t contemplate the show ending. It has to, I know that. I accept it. It’s the how that scares the bejesus out of me.

Mr Ryan – I’m in. All the way.


Something Old, Something New

Jed Mercurio, creator of the excellent, visceral, Bodies, wrote this about adapting novels for the screen. What I found most interesting was –

Cynics argue that drama adaptations for television demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm for original material or, worse, a lack of quality in original scripts. I disagree with both propositions. Commissioners crave original drama, and many (if not most) writers prefer to create their own material, and most (if not all) of them feel more attached to their original script than an adaptation. But marketing original drama isn’t easy. … The audience doesn’t know the story or the characters. That’s hard to explain in a trailer or a billboard poster.

As an audience member, I must confess to a double standard: I want more of the same – but different.

I work hard at trying something completely new though. How else could I have found and sworn by Bodies or The Wire – or even Green Wing or The Insiders Guides to Love and Happiness?

What I admire most about these series is the sheer depth, and complexity of story and character that’s packed into each forty-five minute episode. It didn’t matter if it was a procedural or soap. The writing, directing and acting is so good that the underlying structure is barely noticed.

Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman are my poster boys for giving more of the same… but different. They showed that even the tired superhero, horror and fantasy genres of comicdom – and their audiences – could be treated just as seriously as any other form of ‘real’ literature – with maturity and intelligence.

I returned to comic-reading in the last few years – one could hazard that it was a precursor to my true return to reading. And upon my return I’ve found the pleasures of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson‘s blistering Transmetropolitan, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon‘s heart- and gut-wrenching Preacher, and David Lapham‘s mindblowing Stray Bullets. These – and more – are just proof-positive that, just as the good doctor purred,

It is important to always try new things.

(Heads-up courtesy Lee Thomson.)