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Old November 27 2010, 10:08 PM   #74
stj
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Re: a new Western as a TV episodic series? discuss

Roger Wilco wrote: View Post
I don't really follow how Dexter is "right-wing", but one show where I really noticed that (and I'm sure it's the same with many other cop shows) is Criminal Minds. The suspect almost always dies in the end, usually at the hands of the FBI officers. How convenient eh, that they never have to deal with the pesky justice system by being able to summarily exececute, ehm I mean "shoot in self defense" (wink wink) the murderer...
The question about vigilante justice being edgy wasn't supposed to be connected to Dexter. There was a typo and a paragraph break that was supposed to be there was inadvertently omitted. I'm a terrible typist, sue me. Dexter only came up because one of the creators was a Dexter writer. The question was a soft way of saying that it's not edgy to praise vigilante justice. National public policy claims the right to send missiles to murder whomever some bureaucrat in the CIA or the Pentagon chooses, even a US citizen.

Criminal Minds I've never watched, since the science of profiling is pretty much hype and horseshit. It makes the romaticized science on CSI look like a textbook. And everyone knows that JAG and its spinoffs were produced by a conservative. The general point that police are almost invariably viewed as benign and competent authority figures is quite true. Even shows like NYPD Blue that have a slightly more nuanced characterization like to portray cops at worst as normal, i.e., flawed, people stressed by their lonely struggle against evil. This is definitely a conservative viewpoint.

Shows like CSI (this does not include the spinoffs) or The Closer or the early season Dexter, that acknowledge that the police might be wrong, or lie, or be criminal themselves, or just be careerist incompetents, tend to be the exception. Blatant exceptions, like In Justice or The Whole Truth, which don't even treat the police as valid authority figures, have trouble even getting an audience to sample the show.

To pursue the aside about Dexter: Dexter the fun vigilante is the least creative, worst written aspect of that show. It's general portrayal of mental illness is generally ludicrously backwards, which I suppose is a kind of right wingness. But, the earlier, better seasons were not about Dexter the vigilante does good, but Dexter goes sane. The Miami PD was infested with real people, not Heroes (like the town marshal or noble gunslingers or natural gentleman cowpokes in Westerns.) Season three was lower in quality and season four really marked a significant drop in quality.

I've avoided detailed spoilers about season five but the interesting issue of Dexter coming to terms with the fact that Harry was nuttier than a fruitcake, or Deborah finding about Harry, don't even seem to be on the horizon. This is writing Deborah as a mindless cardboard buffoon who just helplessly adores her brother, no matter what. Coupled with the nonexistence of the mother, we can't say the show has even written a family dynamic at all, much less successfully.

As of end of fourth season, Deborah became a cop because she idolized her father. That's why she'll be an honest cop, because she's trying to live up to her father's image. And why if she's scripted as accepting her brother's extracurricular career without finding out about Harry first it'll be bullshit writing.

Killing off Rita made the most sense as a cop out way of depriving Dexter of a meaningful choice between normality and the vigilante lifestyle, that is, writing it to justify Dexter continuing to kill, because the new producers think that'll be the popular ending. Glancing over the commentary on season five, it appears there's a peculiar puzzlement, a subdued yet unacknowledged lack of enthusiasm that makes me think that is exactly the road they're traveling.
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