Nowadays, all you get on television are sex, violence and car crashes--and that's just the local news. It's tough to get good ratings covering politics or petty theft. Unless, of course, you can snag a big star like Lindsay Lohan to shoplift her way through a Simon Mall during your six o'clock broadcast.
I had hundreds of viewing choices this past Monday night when I was searching for some mindless entertainment. In "Pawn Stars," people lug junk from their homes to this hock shop with three generations of hagglers, Richard, Rick and Cory, who examine the haul and finally admit they have no idea what they are looking at. After all, this is not the "Antiques Roadshow."
Experts are then called in to establish whether the stovepipe hat some guy found in his barn in Illinois really belonged to Abraham Lincoln. If Rick finds out it's the real thing, he offers the chump 40 bucks because customers looking for stovepipe hats don't stop by until the last week in October, and they don't have an extra $450,000 to spend on a costume.
One choice on Showtime was a miniseries titled "The Borgias," about a family in 15th-century Rome. It's like the Corleones in the "Godfather," only the Borgias plot to become Cardinals and Popes instead of mobsters. Many of the reviewers have compared these two families who lived almost 400 years apart, and there were a few close-ups in the previews where some of the pasta dishes looked very similar.
I ended up watching the two-hour pilot for a new series, "The Killing," on AMC. I knew I would regret this because it's a 13-parter and anything with more than two or three parts has always frustrated me. My son's Lego set put me in therapy for a year.
"The Killing" is a classic who-done-it, based on the Swedish model of crime drama. That genre, noted one critic, is where the mystery writer "allocates domestic and professional angst to subsidiary characters." I have no idea what that means, but it already sounds to me like the maid did it.
I made the horrible mistake of going to some of the blogs where people have started guessing who the killer is. Fans were speculating on the meaning of the cigarette butt, the expired credit card, the victim's boots, the father's day job and the cop's tattoo. I must have missed these clues, maybe because I was doing laundry, taking a nap, talking on my cell phone and doing a Sudoku puzzle. Was this even the same show I was watching?
It's no longer enough to simply enjoy a TV show; you have to be interactively involved. On the AMC website you can download a photo of the victim's room. You then click on any object to magnify it, so you can see if it might be a clue to the murder. I started nosing around this deceased girl's bedroom, placing my cursor on her desk, her stuffed animals, her pillow, even on her diary. I felt so creepy at one point I started to wonder where I was the night of April 3.
I still have about 11 weeks to go to see who the culprit is in "The Killing." I'm not sure I have the patience so I may switch to "The Borgia"s instead, since I already know who the evil ones are. Next week's show, promises the promo, will be "Wicked, witty, and compelling...filled with violence, lust and intrigue." That's an offer I can't refuse.