Monday, 13 April 2009
Like many of my contemporaries, I watch the crime series of the moment. Here in France, you can choose between several different ones, each day of the year.
There are those made in France. But considering the number of channels available, there are series made in USA, made in Great Britain, made in Germany plus a tiny little sprinkling of the others from Sweden, Italy, Belgium.
Considering that this is a blog in English language (at least I try to do my best), let's talk about those made in the United States and those coming from our northern neighbors, the Brits.
What do they have in common, these series made in USA and Great Britain? Absolutely nothing because here all those actors talk in French exclusively!
The idea is generally accepted that the Americans and the Brits have a lot of common outlooks, kind of shared values (though the notion of "values" has fallen in disrespect, lately). Thus it occurred to me to compare these series with regard to the differences.
Because there are differences, big ones.
Here are the two series from England:
1. Inspector Barnaby
2. Inspector Lewis
And here are just three from the United States:
2. CSI Miami
3. Navy NCIS
In a nutshell, I would say the English ones are homely and the Americans are gorgeous.
In NCIS each photo made of a corpse produces a sound, something like slapping a wet towel on a drum. Slap, slap, slap. And invariably, they are gripping those huge McDo plastic cups filled with coffee or CocaCola. Could be those paper plastic cups are not from McDo but from Starbucks, I don't know but they are huge, king size big. And they continue to bring one to each other as a sign of sympathy or friendship.
Our two English cops drink, too. But they are inside or outside a pub, having a beer and when they meet a suspect, they are frequently offered a cup of tea and some biscuits.
Chief Inspector Barnaby and Lewis never carry any weapon and their criminal investigation is carried out without any violence. However, in the Barnaby series, dead bodies are aplenty. It's never one stiff but mostly three, four or occasionally even five. And these English village people hate each others guts red hot. But violence, no sir.
Nothing to do with the Americans. They live with their pistol. In NCIS, that Mossad girl seems even to sleep with her gun under the pillow and they keep it under the bed or at the night table when making love.
But the biggest difference is their looks. Dr. Brennan (Bones) is a real beauty. And that goes for all the others, too. With the exception of Bruce, the athletic FBI cop and the sexy artist Angela, all others are high-end scientists but their looks somehow do not correspond to their activity. Too much beauty, splendid make up, even when they are a bit smeared or dirty, they are beautifully dirty.
In CSI Miami it's even worse. The boss, Horatio, very impressive character, is strangely ugly, he could be an albino. But all the others have those aggressive good looks. There is this doctor whose job is to cut up dead bodies. But she looks like a bar hostess, trying to make you drink costly Champagne and there is a male scientist who could be a South-American pimp or a Bolivian drug dealer.
I would not like to meet this good looking chap at dusk in an empty street!
Those two inspectors from Britannia are middle aged, wear rumpled clothes. They are neither good looking nor ugly. And their associates, Sargent Troy, Sargent Hopkins or Hathaway are cast in the same mould. Mr. Barnaby's wife looks a bit worn out, though cheerful and their daughter seemed ugly to me in the beginning. Now, after three years, I am accustomed to her. She looks good in her own way. Sargent Hathaway is a former student of theology and quotes Shelley, Shakespeare and Latin authors at unsuspected moments. I like that.
There is a meaning behind those differences.