I love murder mysteries. I love them in movies, I love them in books, I love them in videogames, but most of all, I love them in TV shows. I’m not talking about a simple case of the week, I’m talking about a single, significant case that permeates the season of a TV show and is given around a dozen or more episodes to develop and expand and twist and turn, all leading to the inevitable reveal of whodunit. A good season long murder mystery has led to some of the greatest TV seasons of all time, like with the first two seasons of Veronica Mars, a series I believe perfected the season long murder mystery arc. Nothing feels quite like the rush of putting together the clues and solving the case yourself, and seeing your suspicions confirmed in the electrifying murderer reveal, a moment that should always be a highlight of a show’s season. Unfortunately there are shows that don’t quite grasp this, that completely botch the killer reveal and leave you feeling deflated. Two recent shows that come to mind are Riverdale and Trial and Error. You may think, wait a minute, Trial and Error is a comedy, why does it matter if the killer reveal is good? Well, because revealing a murderer should be powerful no matter the circumstances. Murder, killing another member of your own species, is one of the most human things out there. You can draw so much emotion, and yes, even humour, from it. The taking of another life and why the mastermind of the crime chose to act the way they did should be explored on a character worthy of such exploration. Every murder is a story, and botching the murderer is like botching the protagonist. Since shows seem to be screwing this up recently, I’ve decided to write my own criteria for how to properly handle a murder mystery through the use of 5 important, absolutely correct, inarguable rules that without a doubt must be followed.
I see a lot of movies over my summers, and I want to make it a habit to write down my thoughts on them all when my summer is over. Well, it’s long after summer and I haven’t written anything in a while, the reason for this is simple: That I’m lazy and unmotivated even when it comes to things I enjoy doing. It’s time for me to turn a new leaf! I’ll start by finally writing this post about my thoughts on these movies, something anyone still reading this definitely cares about.
The FX TV show The People v. O.J. Simpson argues that the O.J. Simpson trial basically predicted social discourse in America for the next 20 years. The painful, and often times confusing, intersectional conflicts between white people, black people, and the women that comprise half of both groups, all would come to define so much of what we’re so acutely aware of today. It was all there, clear as day, in what everyone was calling “The Trial of the Century” (a moniker that is looking less and less like hyperbole with each passing year). Today, we are seeing a storm on the same wavelength of that legendary trial heading towards the Oscars next year. Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation tells an important story about America’s dark history, but it also reclaims a meaningful title from the original 1915 Birth of a Nation, a racist propaganda film that also happens to be one of the most influential films ever created. The original Birth of a Nation was a technically incredible breakthrough in film making technique and directing, but it also happens to be a horribly bigoted story about how the KKK was really a heroic force in America. By all accounts, what Nate Parker is doing, especially in light of the Oscars controversy of this year, is a great thing on the surface, but since the universe is a random and cruel thing, Nate Parker – A black man who co-wrote, directed, and starred in a movie about the racial injustice of America’s past which includes his fictionalized wife being gang raped by white men, is himself an accused rapist (along with his black friend who he co-wrote the film with, making them alleged gang rapists) whose trial was an intensely harrowing experience for all parties involved, but mostly for the victim who eventually took her own life after its conclusion and Parker’s acquittal. Clearly, there’s a lot to talk about here.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of those rare shows where you actually feel like you take how good it is for granted. On top of being a genuinely great comedy-drama, it produces 2-3 original songs each episode as a bonus. They flow into the episode’s stories, they’re usually quite catchy, and always funny as hell. The dream of a comedy-musical as a TV series that so many of us had after watching “Once More With Feeling” on Buffy is here, and it’s beautiful. To honour it, and its upcoming second season (premiering this October), I’d like to list my eight favourite songs so far.
While I discussed Person of Interest and tropes before in a more serious context, I originally announced my interest in the show on this blog through a post that poked fun at a lot of the goofy cliches that cropped up frequently in the show’s earlier seasons. Since the show is ending soon I thought it would be cool to talk about all the series’ own tropes and recurring elements on this blog. Some of them I wouldn’t trade for the world, others I could do without, all are funny in their own ways.
*This article contains spoilers of the latest Person of Interest episode “The Day The World Went Away”.
I’ve always maintained that the greatest strength of iZombie is its stellar ensemble cast. Every individual main character on the show feels like they are strong enough on their own to maintain any story they find themselves in. They’re all very different people that happen to work very well together, but once they’re off doing their own thing I can’t help but think “Whoa, I would watch this show!”. Liv Moore is a great protagonist (with an appropriately punny name), but unlike creator Rob Thomas’ other famous heroine Veronica Mars, she isn’t her show’s greatest weapon. That distinction belongs to the cast itself, and this article is about how each of them are strong enough to helm their own TV spin-offs because of that strength. Here are five examples to illustrate what I’m talking about.
The much beloved CBS drama The Good Wife ended yesterday, so I’ve decided to dedicate a brand new mind spill to this once great series. A lot has happened throughout the show, a lot happened in the finale, and now is the time to get some stuff off my chest to address them both.
Electric Nachos (a dumb nickname I keep using to refer to her, that is in my defence, no less ridiculous than her actual name) has an interesting position in comic book history going into the second season of Daredevil. One of the most prominent examples of “fridging” in comics (the act of killing or crippling a female character for the purpose of causing man-pain for the male lead), Elektra came into the series with the weight of expectations revolving around what she should accomplish as a comic book anti heroine and as a woman. In both counts, the series sets up a compelling case for the character, and on both counts they squander it completely – twice.
There are many, many reasons to dislike Zack Snyder’s awkwardly named Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. A miscast villain here, a forced Justice League tie-in there, and a confused attempt to mash the stories of The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman together ruin what should have been a slam-dunk of a movie. There are a ton of weird choices that went into making this the disaster that it is, but the most alarming to me has to be the way Batman was characterized in this film. Ben Affleck gave a fine performance as Batman, but the central issue with his character all comes back to his hotly debated “no killing rule” that gets more than a little bent in this film, and more critically, entirely ignored. Fans have debated whether or not Batman should even have such a rule for years, “The Rule” has served as a central plot point in both The Dark Knight and Under the Red Hood films, and Batman himself exists as likely the most iconic practitioner of this rule in fiction. My issue with Snyder’s Batman isn’t that he kills criminals (directly and indirectly) with sadistic glee, but that it happens without any discussion within the film for what that means for Batman. I know the last thing this film needs is more pseudo-philosophical drivel shakingly spoken by insecure meat heads, but in this case it’s kind of an important thing to get out of the way.