Above: Sketch in one of my Japanese lined paper journals—brush pen, acrylic marker. The text is all readable so I'll leave you to click on the image and view the enlargement and read it.
I like to recommend television shows and movies every now and then on a Friday post. I have mixed feelings today because for many in the US this will be a holiday weekend. (I know I intend to stay inside in the a.c. and work.) But perhaps you'll have time for a little TV viewing too.
I've been watching "Murdoch Mysteries" on Acorn. All 8 seasons are there. I started at the beginning and worked my way through.
I have some problems with the show. The number one problem is that Yannick Bisson, the actor who plays Detective William Murdoch is too good looking. His features are too symmetrical. He doesn't have funny ears, he's always clean-shaven, his hair is always slicked down with product appropriate to the 19th Century.
In short it's a disaster. But I do try now and then.
So here's the other thing—I find the show vaguely disturbing in a way I couldn't put my finger on until about a week into my viewing. It's the 1800s and when you are convicted of murder (or caught as someone always is in each episode) you're hung. Plain and simple.
None of that is shown (well I think there was one episode where a hanging took place), but the knowledge that the hanging is going to happen without possibility of intervention really bothers me.
A whole awareness (from years of studying the time period in literature and history) looms around me as I watch. Prison conditions are awful, the poor have even fewer resources and recourse. It's a layer of grim beneath the very bright and often jovial surface of this "who-dun-it" series.
There is about the show a tone of wonder and amazement and interest in science that comes from the detective's character himself. We see him invent night vision goggles, luminol, and any number of forensics advances. He is a huge supporter of "fingermarks." The way these innovations are built into his character and the show is actually quite charming. He's obviously, from his actions, somewhere on the Aspergers continuum. While he can deal with science and facts he has difficulty interacting with people in many situations. And because of early childhood experiences we know that his devotion to the Catholic church has made him the way he is—a fierce agent for Truth. (He deals constantly with the negotiation between Truth and Justice.)
And then we have the many "real" historical characters who have walk-ons: writers, performers, scientists, politicians. It's quite fun.
But then there is that gloom that nothing can dispel.
Still I couldn't stop watching. I have, because of rainy days, and preference, worked my way through every episode except the season 8 finale. One of the main characters was about to have a big, positive change and now it seems something grave indeed is going to happen. I can't bear to watch it until I know that season 9 is on offer.
Call me a wimp. I can't bear that I should know the particulars of his suffering longer than it takes me to watch them be resolved in the new season. The character is the "comic" relief in most episodes, but Constable Crabtree has been given rather a lot to do in season 8 and he's now my favorite character.
I can't wait for season 9. But I can't watch it one week at a time, so it will be a long wait for me. Even though I just learned that they have tapped William Shatner to play Mark Twain in an upcoming episode.
Well good. Something to look forward to.
I do recommend this series. It's well done. It presents a puzzle, it solves a puzzle, it gives us character development. Sometimes characters frustrate us, other times the 1800s frustrate us. Sometimes we laugh.
Can my affection endure a long separation?
We'll have to wait and see.
Now about Showing Up
If you click on the image for today and read the long quotation at the bottom of the page you'll find artist Mark Bradford's thoughts on "artist's block."
I liked the quotation so much I'm looking for a way to work it into my handouts for my upcoming "Drawing Practice" class. I'll have to go in and edit something, but that's easily done thanks to the computer/word processor, something that Murdoch did not invent or have available for his use.
NOTE: If you are looking for this show on television in the US and don't want to subscribe to AcornTV, you can find it on Ovation under the title, "The Artful Detective." My brother informs me that now that season 8 has completed its run they have begun again with season 1 episodes. You might want to check them out.