Friday, February 15, 2008

In media res

No work today. Some of my entertainment the last couple of weeks:

Television: Showtime's "Dexter." An original idea, with a charismatic star (Michael C. Hall) who pulls off the difficult task of portraying a likable serial killer. I don't agree with all the praise this show's gotten, though. Unlike HBO's top-notch shows, 'Dexter" suffers from some rather clumsy acting (particularly from the main character's sister). Also, the plot is often much more unsubtle than I like to see. Holy cow, you mean the creepily intense prosthesist is the other killer, the one obsessed with hacking off limbs? Never saw that one coming! Finally, while there's a good mix of black humor and drama in the scripts, the depiction of police work is almost childish: press conferences held at whim, no repercussions (not even mandatory leave and counseling) for a shooting, shaky evidence taken at face value, obvious connections leaving the detectives baffled (where'd all that blood come from? Could it be from the guy who's been draining blood from his victims??), and so on. Oh, and Dexter's girlfriend being changed with assault when it has already been established that she had a restraining order against her ex-con, wife-beating, drunk-at-the-time husband is beyond absurd. All of which is to say that although it's not particularly intelligent, "Dexter" is nevertheless compelling viewing --- again, mostly for its quirky premise and Hall's work in the title role. But I can't see that it in any way compares in quality to HBO masterpieces like "The Wire" and 'Deadwood," or even "NYPD Blue."

Comics: Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark's run on Daredevil. My local comic store is having a big sale, so I picked up the entire collected run so far, three TPBs, at once. I love everything Brubaker does (Criminal being among his finest work), and was especially sorry to see his and Lark's Gotham Central end, but this is a fine replacement for the latter. It's all gritty and noir, with a complex (but not unnecessarily convoluted) plot and a very intelligent, sinister villain. Or rather, a succession of villains. If there were ten of these books out now, I'd get 'em all. Comic book heroin, this stuff is.

Books: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I've stated before that I'm normally a fan of the florid prose of the 19th-century female classicists, especially their rich, evocative language. However, I found a lot wanting in this book. Here, the overly verbose prose bored me with its superfluity, rather than wowing me with its verve and poetry. More than that, though, I found the titular character almost completely unsympathetic. It wasn't that Jane Eyre, the orphan and schoolteacher, is a repellent person; it's that she seemed to have no will or direction of her own. As she vacillated ad nauseam between marrying her bigamist beloved or running off in shame, and again between marrying an arrogant prick of a missionary for no reason other than he demanded her to or actually having a spine, I found myself muttering "Stop moaning about, you prolix bint, and stand up for yourself." But then, I've always taken literature personally.


Michael5000 said...

It's a safe bet that "The Sapient Sutler" is the only media outlet where we'll be able to catch this trio of reviews this week....

I seem to remember agreeing with you on Jane Eyre. Been a while since I tried it, though.

Churlita said...

Jean Rhys wrote a book based on Jane Eyre that's kind of like a prequel. It tells the story of the crazy wife who is locked away. It's called The Wide Saragsso Sea. It's an interesting companion to Jane Eyre.