Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Broadchurch | Lefsetz Letter

Everyone just wants to talk television. Everywhere I go. They used to ask if you’d heard this or that, records and artists were top of mind, now we all just want to sit in front of the big screen.

And not go to the theatre.

I’d love to see Darren Aronofsky’s new pic. But if you think I’m gonna make an appointment you’re still watching Must See TV, now that Don Ohlmeyer is dead and Seinfeld is on Netflix. Things change. And whereas the sixties and seventies (maybe even the eighties!) were about music, the twenty first century is positively about television.

“The Sopranos” was the Beatles. And like that band, they can never get back together, because Tony/James Gandolfini, is dead. You think you want Led Zeppelin to get back together, but you really don’t. Oh, the kids will enjoy it, before they go back to their hip-hop, and the out of it oldsters who weren’t there the first time will go to crow and get a notch in their belt, but fans will be disappointed, because you can’t go back, you can never go back, you can’t marry your high school sweetheart after reconnecting on Facebook and you can’t run the mile like you used to and if you think you can, you’re delusional.

So we forage for things to watch.

Now I don’t sit in front of the screen much. Because we’re all time-challenged. The idea of flipping from channel to channel is anathema, and I don’t want to waste any precious moments, but if there’s something worth seeing…

It’s like going to the movies in the seventies.

Only in this case, the critics are irrelevant. Unless they’re aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes. How often have I opened the paper to find the latest Netflix show denigrated and then watched it and enjoyed it? But usually, it’s word of mouth.

You know the biggest word of mouth show?

“Black Mirror,” but I can’t say I loved the episode I watched. I’m planning to give it another try. When I finally finish “Breaking Bad,” now that I’ve caught up with “Broadchurch.”

That’s right, I didn’t catch “Breaking Bad” the first time through. Sling arrows all you want, but no one’s seen everything, even though there are many fewer shows than records.

But after “Broadchurch” I watched a Netflix show I highly recommend, this documentary “Heroin(e),” about the opioid crisis. Three women in West Virginia trying to make a difference. You’ll wonder about your life choice, chasing the buck, first and foremost it’s about meaning. And when you do your best to help other people, you’re fulfilled.

Now why is it that English shows are always better than American ones? With exceptions, of course, like the aforementioned “Sopranos.” Is it because everyone doesn’t have to be beautiful, because the productions are not over the top, because the stories are real?

All of that and more.

“Broadchurch” is a genre show. I.e. murder and trial. But it’s well-nuanced. And it’s ITV, not BBC, so there are fade-outs for commercials. But you watch it and you get hooked.

I want to be hooked. I want to go down the rabbit hole. I want to be taken away from this everyday life, the endless pings on my iPhone, I ironically want to live life by experiencing it through others.

Now my sister recommended this show. And when I started to mention it, after viewing a few episodes, I was stunned who had seen it. It’s like music in the sixties and early seventies, an alternative universe that gets little publicity, but drives the culture. Sure, you might see a review, but then it disappears.

And I prefer Netflix and Amazon. Because I don’t want to tune in every night to see Ken Burns’s documentary on Vietnam, I don’t want to even DVR it, I just want to dive in and go on a ride, episode after episode. Why has Hollywood got it so wrong? Dribbling out product. Refusing to make films day and date online. The record business learned, if you try and protect profits, play to the usual suspects, you’re dead. Labels played to Tower Records and then the chain went under. They played to radio and then Spotify broke records. No one I know goes to the movies, other than my mother and her aged cronies, who became addicted back in the thirties. You make your impact online, via streaming. And when your product finally comes to TV… HBO premiered “La La Land,” I’m not even gonna bother, that’s so last year.

Now the star of the second season of “Broadchurch” is Charlotte Rampling, yes the sexy ingenue I saw at a midnight screening of “The Night Porter” in Westwood. She’s on a comeback tear. And she’s had no plastic surgery.

And she’s more beautiful for it.

American actresses get nipped and tucked to appear young, to get gigs, and we can’t help but look at them and point out the deficiencies. Plastic surgery is a crapshoot, and the odds of winning are about those in Vegas, i.e. not good. But Rampling looks her age and has gravitas, she’s lived a life, she’s not chasing a dream, SHE’S LIVING THE DREAM!

Now on one hand I hate these whodunits. Because you’re hooked and there’s a twist.

But it’s life in the Dorset area that is so riveting. A small town in the U.K. where everybody knows each other and everybody is imperfect and the attorney wants a shag and the barristers, even women, wear wigs and…

Police don’t normally work to music. And the law is boring.

But life is fascinating.

Art, when done right, reflects life, it gives us insight into the human condition.

How can TV get it so right and music get it so wrong?


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