Pin It

Remote Possibilites 

by Ben Kromer & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & L & lt;/span & aw and Order is a cop show for nice people. That's not a ringing endorsement for a drama about rape and murder, but it's the best I can come up with. The crimes are serious enough, the actors keep straight faces, and a lot of the storylines are "ripped from the headlines." Together these things are meant to provide the framework for a cop/lawyer drama that's relevant to our grotesque times.

That might have been true a decade and a half ago, when a show about both policemen and lawyers (not just one or the other) must have seemed ingenious. Seventeen years after its premiere, though, every confession, motivation and line of dialogue is something I've heard half a dozen times before. I recognize that there may be a finite number of ways to tearfully confess to having strangled That Filthy Whore. If you've reached that number, though, it's time to quit. There's also a finite number of talented character actors. Most have already appeared on at least one version of the program. At this point, then, mistaking a shrinking talent pool for growing legions of serial criminals is inevitable.

Despite this, a ton of people still watch the show. I think that's because it gives them a safe emotional distance from which to view our scary world (like, "that was horrible, but I watched it and now it's over"). That's what I do, anyway, and in my defense, I don't own a single snuff film. (But only because they're an urban myth.) The closest I get is watching cop shows on cable. For those who don't troll the Internet for pictures (or videos -- thank you, YouTube) of dead people, and who don't like cable-TV realism, NBC provides homicide-lite.

But even the "real-life murder + human behavior 101 = deep cultural insight" formula doesn't hit home anymore (if it ever did). On the contrary, it makes most episodes seem like lame hypothetical law school discussions -- the cops, lawyers and suspects dutifully reciting the most obvious thoughts and opinions about the case at hand. Prosecutor Jack McCoy, then, like a dutiful elder barrister, sums things up for us in an impassioned closing argument. When I want shallow, predictable opinions on jurisprudence from questionable sources, I watch Judge Judy.


TNT has been rerunning NYPD Blue in four-hour blocks late in the middle of the night. Currently it's showing episodes from the tail end of the series, when Sipowitz was softening up and half the detectives looked like models. But it's still superior to all those Law and Order and CSI clones. (Wednesday, 3/21, 2-5 am, TNT)


Jeff Goldblum is Michael Raines, a guy who starts seeing spectral murder victims with his big bug eyes. Then they pester him until he nails their killers. A lot of psychics act like they're tormented by their gift, but since Raines is already a homicide detective, I think his job just got a lot easier. (Thursday, 3/22, 10 pm, NBC)

Andy Barker P.I.

Andy Richter's first sitcom, Andy Richter Controls the Universe can only be found online. His second, family-oriented sitcom wasn't funny. Now he plays an accountant posing as a private eye. We're all on Andy's side. We all want him to succeed. (Thursday, 3/22, 9:30 pm, NBC)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Odds And Ends
  • Odds And Ends

    Idaho lawmakers are pulled in lots of directions; plus, SPD weighs a "culture audit"
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Four Days A Week
  • Four Days A Week

    Idaho schools that dropped one day a week from their schedule are saving a little money — but at what cost?
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • A County Ombudsman?
  • A County Ombudsman?

    Weighing the costs and benefits of oversight at the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals

2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals @ Spokane Arena

Mon., March 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Why Idaho kids don't go to college

    And what that means for the Gem State
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment




Publisher's Note

long reads

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation