Television

A Murder of Crime Dramas

police lightI am a huge fan of TV - particularly of procedural crime dramas. For years, my favorite TV show has been Criminal Minds and I’ve watched the series so many times that I can pretty much place any episode within the first five minutes. (I honestly don’t know whether that’s a silly skill to be proud of, or if I need to find a better use for my time.) During the regular television season, I spend most of my TV time watching the whole gamut of network crime shows: NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest and Elementary. But once the season finales air, I have to explore new TV options to fill the summer hiatus.

Although crime dramas are hugely popular on TV, they don’t all fit the same mold. Some are fairly formulaic, yes, but many bring something extra to the viewing experience. Sometimes it’s a plot full of twists and turns or a case that lasts the whole season; at other times it’s a unique detective or interesting setting. Last night, in my quest, I started watching Longmire, which features a Wyoming county sheriff who solves major crimes. With its rural setting, sweeping landscapes, and a sheriff reminiscent of classic Westerns, it’s a compelling show that fills the gap in my TV schedule.

If you’re looking for a new show to watch this summer, I have listed out some non-network crime dramas below. Each of these shows has multiple seasons and would make for a great summer binge session.

Partners in Crime

It should come as no surprise that I have a great fondness for mysteries and, particularly, cop shows and movies.  From lighter fare to dark thrillers, I’ve enjoyed watching the good guys take on the bad guys.  That might come from my earliest years watching Perry Mason.  Then moving on to The Streets of San Francisco, Dragnet, Adam-12, Columbo, the original Hawaii Five-O.  Of course all of those series have one big thing in common: all the crime solvers were men.

If You Can Read This...

Many years ago, there was a very popular bumper sticker that read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

This is Teacher Appreciation Week.  And it’s fitting that we acknowledge those who spend their professional lives working for the benefit of children, young adults, and even older adults.  I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone has a particularly teacher they remember as a role model or mentor.  My favorite teacher is one from elementary school, though I really liked some in high school and college, too.  I have several family members who have taken on the sometimes tough, more times rewarding career in education.  My admiration for them is boundless.

A Place in the World

What do Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Jane Eyre, Anne Shirley, and Harry Potter have in common?

The answer is rather an easy one.  They are all orphans.

It’s a theme that’s been used over and over again in storytelling, from fairy tales and classic literature to fantasy and comic books.  The child whose parents have died or perhaps disappeared.  The child who often feels all alone in the world.  The child who finds friends or a calling to see him or her through the roughest of times.

After the Apocalpyse

maze runner character cardEarlier this week, I finally had the chance to watch The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to 2014’s The Maze Runner. Based on a bestselling Young Adult series by author James Dashner, these movies follow a group of teenagers with no memory of who they are as they try to navigate a post-apocalyptic world they don’t understand and stay one step ahead of the organization chasing them.

Novels like these have become increasingly popular over the past ten years, as have movies along the same theme. Some, like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games, are based on popular YA books. Many, like Elysium and Mad Max: Fury Road, are original concepts dreamed up for the medium of film. Regardless of their origin, all movies in this genre seek to understand what compels humanity to survive and rebuild in the face of utter devastation.

If you’re in the mood for a post-apocalyptic or dystopian movie this week, check out the list below. I have also included a few TV shows that also fit the bill – just in case you’re in the mood to binge watch a series.

Patty Duke (1946-2016)

Patty Duke was a star at 12 years old, taking Broadway by storm in The Miracle Worker, playing young deafblind Helen Keller.  At age 16, she received an Oscar and a Golden Globe for that same role in

Like Mother, Like Daughter

It’s not unusual for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents.  A talent or interest for certain professions seem to run in families.  Sometimes it’s to carry on a business.  Sometimes it’s because the child grows up seeing the parent making a career and wants to do something similar.  Whether it’s farming or manufacturing or being a doctor or a teacher, parents and children will often travel along the same path. 

New Orleans

Next Tuesday is a day that means “Party!” to many people.

Mardi Gras!

And when it comes to Mardi Gras, most of us think of two place: Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans.  Of course, New Orleans is much closer and therefore more likely for a destination celebration.

While the city has been a center of commerce and tourism, it has also been a place of art, literature, and – perhaps most known -- music.  Artists over the decades have found homes there.  Numerous movies have been set or filmed there.  Writers have been inspired by the area and its history, as well as the legends of intrigue -- and maybe even magic.

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

There have been obituaries that were somewhat difficult to write.

This one is particularly rough.

Alan Rickman first came to my attention – in fact, to the attention of most people -- back in 1988 when he portrayed Hans Gruber, the villain of the movie Die Hard.  Like so many others, I became of fan.

In Memoriam 2015

This past year, we lost so many talented people.  I wanted to acknowledge some I did not cover in individual blog entries during the year.  Though most are listed simply by name and work, I want to draw attention to some particular favorites of mine.
 

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