Dark Places

Lately TV dramatic series are preoccupied with dark themes and protagonists. It’s as though they want to portray humanity at its worst, devoid of redeeming values. There is very little difference between the criminal and the detective (“The Fall”). The protagonist is detached and emotionless (“Dexter”, “The Bridge”). Or he is unable to relate to others without manipulation or deception (“Mad Men”). These are feel bad shows. They are often graphically violent and depend on the viewer’s grasp of psychology.

“Top of the Lake” seems less feel bad, more weird, Twin Peaks-like. I’ve only seen the first episode, so my assessment may be premature. Holly Hunter is fearlessly different, and that alone lifts this show above others.

I long for reruns of “Columbo”. His criminals and killers were as twisted as anyone on today’s shows, but he was unwaveringly human. Rumpled, quirky (but not in the DSM sense) and warm. Loved his “just one more thing…” line. Steve Jobs, did you take that line from Columbo?

Peter Falk was a great actor. Wenders understood that – Falk is perfect in “Wings of Desire”. So is Bruno Ganz. How can a film about death be so uplifting and hopeful?

This is what the feel bad TV shows are missing, the kernel of hope that makes bleak times bearable.


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