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TV Review: Case Histories


We're totally gonna have sex. Can you tell?

*Some Spoilers ahead*

Oh joy, we have a new mystery series on the loose. This one is set in Scotland. Jason Isaacs stars (Lucius Malfoy, if you recall) as a detective with his own private investigative agency that isn't doing too well. He has a young, intelligent and aware daughter whom he takes with him on his cases like the responsible dad that he is. His ex-wife doesn't like it (I suppose this is meant to make her look like a biotch, but I don't blame her one bit. Dude needs to not expose his kid to psychos and grizzly details of dead girls). He used to be a cop, but was "disgraced" as they tend to be in these stories. But, like a leprechaun slipping on a rainbow puddle and dropping his pot of gold into some lucky bastard's open hands, Jackson Brodie is all at once awash with cases. Real cases.

First there is the case of a little girl who went missing in 1981. Then a man insists that Brodie look into his daughter's murder, since the cops aren't doing a good job of it. Then a blonde ho asks him to search for the niece she abandoned in 1994. And in between all this we have repetitive flashbacks of Brodie's own traumatic childhood. Because the detectives in these series always have to have a trauma in their past, or a drinking problem, something. In his case, Brodie's little sister was murdered when they were kids, and they still don't know who did it. I'm guessing this will be an ongoing issue in the series, and we'll eventually find out who killed her. Did they really have to keep showing the same sequences over and over, though? We get it, he's haunted by it. It defines him, yada, yada, yada.

So I'll say this before going any further: I'm disappointed in this series. For starters, we have four stories to contend with. To give this show credit, though, the actual crimes are interesting. I'm not so convinced of the execution, however. They pretty much focus on one set of characters and the crime they're involved in, then another set, then a flashback, then the next set, then the other, etc. I think they plopped too many dead and/or missing girls into this two-hour episode.

Another problem I had was the characters. Most of them are annoying, hard to like, and stereotypical. We have the sisters Julia and Amelia, whose little sister Olivia went missing back in '81 right under their noses. Amelia is the sensitive one who has low self-esteem and blames herself for her sister's disappearance. I like her the most. Julia is the lightweight, sometimes insensitive, sexual sister, the kind you wouldn't want hanging around your boyfriend. Naturally, they (or at least Julia) are attracted to Brodie. 

Then there's the aforementioned blonde ho who wants to locate her long-gone niece, a girl who fell into drugs and prostitution. I'm trying to think of this woman's name, but all I can think of is "blonde ho", so I'll stick with that. She isn't meant to be a likable or sympathetic character, so I'm justified in hating her from the moment she came onscreen.

We also have a teenaged runaway who keeps popping up. She carries a little dog around with her. Sometimes she bothered me, but in the end she became less of an annoyance. My biggest complaint concerning her is that her eventually-revealed-storyline was soooo predictable and cheesy. I saw it coming from a mile away. How unrefreshing!

A small mention goes to one of Brodie's former female co-workers, whom he manages to manipulate into helping him, since she's still a cop and has access to information that he doesn't. I'm willing to bet that these two have a romance later on. They teased at it, not that I want them to.

The worst character offense, however, goes to Jackson Brodie himself. As far as detectives go, there's nothing particularly striking about him in terms of smarts and skills, even personality-wise. There's nothing all that interesting about him, either, or even likable. He's a bit...basic, and by 'basic', I mean dull. Obviously he's meant to be the hunky guy who women fawn over, and I'm sure he's an attraction to the audience, but he did nothing for me. I also have trouble respecting him. Not only does he bring his daughter along for the ride  sometimes (which can be charming moments, since she is charming, cute, and smart, as is intended) when she should be safely away from any potential danger, but there's also the woman thing. He has sex with two women in one episode. I wasn't expecting that. At first, I thought he was better than that, but then, suddenly, he's doing it with a woman he just met in a bar. Classy, Brodie. And later on, there's another. If you haven't guessed which two women I'm talking about, go back and read my lady descriptions.

Have I complained about this enough? I think I have. There are two episodes left. Great. Not sure yet if I'll watch them. PBS was nice and ran another new episode of "Inspector Lewis" after this ended, but I haven't watched it yet. There's one more coming next Sunday night. I have to say, watching "Case Histories" seriously makes me want "Sherlock" and old "Poirot" episodes back.

You know, if I was rich, I'd donate millions of dollars to PBS just so they'd start airing old episodes of Masterpiece Theatre and Masterpiece Mystery, like "Lord Peter Wimsey" (both of them), "Poirot", and so many others. There are a ton of mini-series that I haven't seen, either. I'd also force them to bring back the Britcoms every weeknight at 7:30.

Getting back on track...

As I said, I'm disappointed in what I've seen of this series so far. I doubt that everyone else will be, though. Who knows, maybe someone agrees with me. I freely admit to being picky and critical of what I read/watch/listen to. If you're into murder mysteries, then this is worth a watch, despite all my criticism. You might like it more than I do.

Btw, "Case Histories" is based on the books by Kate Atkinson, which I'm not familiar with.

Can I sneak in one more tiny criticism? Please? Okay, what's with all of the sad music overtures? And why is it country/folksy? I felt this was attempting to force more drama on me by playing so much downbeat music. As if we weren't already aware of the death and depression in the story!

Right, I'm done.

My grade: C+

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