Yeah, the procedurals are cutesy and increasingly geek-friendly, but they're still contentless, riding on the good natured charisma of their actors, without lasting meaning or the ability to really deeply affect an audience. They are repetitive, they lack arcs by design, they wrap everything up neatly--your confession delivered in under an hour or it's free. While the shows that made those actors and actresses desirable got cancelled too soon, and fewer and fewer SF shows get made at all, because why bother when you can make a million seasons of the same half-comedic, gimmicky Law & Order clones. (If you believe television, the most common cause of death in America has to be bizarre-ass murder.)
This has got to be why there are so many versions of Sherlock Holmes being made all at once. He is the original hour-long cop procedural. He's a weird, gimmicky consultant to the police that doesn't have to play by their rules.
I mean, I enjoy them, sort of. I'm glad these people are getting work. But I could never love a cop show like I loved the SF shows they came from. Those became part of my internal mythology. They hit such amazing highs--and some equally amazing lows. But they risked, and they were new, and they made me feel, think, cry, long for unnameable possibilities. At best the procedurals make me laugh or cringe--there's not even the frisson of pity and fear that murder mysteries are supposed to engender. The victims are bodies-as-objects. They are clue factories. Plot coupons. We are never meant to feel too much in any one episode except the thrill of figuring out which actor is too big a star not to be the killer. They are like The Brady Bunch, but with death. Every episode resets the emotional and physical clock to zero.
But they're cute, escapist fun, I suppose. That thing that is supposed to damn all SF--cute, escapist fun. All the shows I recognize these actors from are gone, and they haven't really been replaced. There's a tiny number of speculative TV shows on right now compared to the sea of crime dramas, and I'm not head over heels for any of them except Doctor Who, which is a. the BBC and b. making me a sad panda most of the time these days.
But I can turn on any murder hour show and see my old friends, yelling at criminals and having unresolved sexual tension with their partners.*
It makes me sad. It feels like a lessening of the world in some weird way that probably doesn't even make any sense.
This late night curmudgeonation brought to you by seeing Mal Reynolds, Sam Anders, Sydney Bristow's roommate, and Wolf from the 10th Kingdom in an interrogation room together.
*Which, ok, I am TIRED of this trope. It's stupid, and it's boring. Will they, won't they. I don't care. When both of them are single and heterosexual and attracted to each other and they don't for no apparent reason it just doesn't make any sense CASTLE AND BECKETT. This is not what people do for years on end when they are extroverts. Especially when after a season or two the pair of them have no other significant friends outside of work or blood-relations. They are each other's whole lives but kissing is TOO MUCH COMMITMENT. RELATIONSHIPS ARE GROSS. It's not interesting or exciting to speculate beyond those one or two seasons, it's just dumb, because there's no reason they wouldn't get together except that Chris Carter ruined it for EVERYONE by mishandling Mulder and Scully in such an epic fucking fashion. So now everyone's afraid to have a couple onscreen that's just together, because apparently that sucks. But it does not suck as much as two grown-ass adults pussyfooting around their first kiss like kindergartners. And not talking to each other because god knows why. Either write them so that it really is a friendship without sexual attraction which is fine or let them have some character evolution. I'm so sick of it. GOD. DO NOT WANT any more shows where there's supposed to be chemistry between the leads because inevitably they will let it go too long and it will fizzle or they will sort of do it but then pull back in some bullshit non-human way BONES AND BOOTH. Say what you like but Aeryn and Crichton got together in episode 16, people. And broke up and got back together and screwed and cried and died and came back to life. It was great. There is more to love than the lead-up to the first date. UGH.