Monday, October 31, 2011
No Rules: ANTHONY NEIL SMITH
In the last few years, Anthony Neil Smith has emerged as one of the most unique and unpredictable voices in dark, twisted crime fiction. His books include PSYCHOSOMATIC, HOGDOGGIN', CHOKE ON YOUR LIES, YELLOW MEDICINE, and THE DRUMMER. His newest, ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS, will be one of the first releases from the brand-new publisher, Blasted Heath.
His books are beautifully sleazy sometimes, with expertly constructed, labyrinthine plots, and I can tell you without hesitation that he is one of the finest writers on the scene these days. I'm very honored to have him here at Psycho-Noir.
Please welcome ANTHONY NEIL SMITH, with a few choice words about the boob tube...
TV IS GOOD. SO SHUT UP, YOU SNOBS.
Here’s the thing: I get bored with movies. While I love good, stylish, over-the-top directors and such, I get so bored with the stuff I’m “supposed” to like as a crime fan. I don’t know why. I just...get so bored.
But not so much with good TV. I love TV. Not just crime stuff, but nearly all of it. I really cringe whenever I hear some snob from the literary set sniff and say, “I neh-vah watch TV. We don’t even oooown one.” Fuck you, you disconnected, self-congratulatory fuck.
I watch crap reality shows. I watch all the good stuff like Louie and Archer and The Wire. I watch cooking shows. I watch sitcoms like The Middle and Modern Family (you’re supposed to like Family, but the other is off-limits, apparently). And I watch some crime shows. But the deal is that the best crime shows are few, far between, and the most popular ones suck.
I actually thought Criminal Minds was not-half-bad the three or four times I watched it, but I don’t need to see every episode. There’s no need to follow the character arcs. There’s no real cohesive story, just cases of the week. Same with CSINCISLAL&O.
And while I really loved The Wire (another snob fave), I actually preferred The Shield, which was thrilling, pulpy, and when it was all done, it felt like a real fucking novel. The last ep was perhaps the finest ending to a series I’ve ever, ever, ever seen. Perfectly pitched.
Also, let’s just say The Wire had two really amazing seasons (Three and Four), but, well...man I loved those two seasons.
(You know what else I love to watch that’s not “crimey”? The Amazing Race.)
Some other shows that never worked for me: Torchwood, Terriers, Chicago Code, NYPD Blue, on and on and on...
The best crime television series of all time: Cracker. And let’s all forget that they tried an American version of that, please. Robbie Coltrane’s portrayal of “Fitz” is one of the best things ever put on TV, bar none. A far genius like Nero Wolfe (hey, sounds familiar), Fitz has a bad marriage (cheats a lot), bad habits (smokes, gambles, drinks, lies) and is smart enough to know he’s in the wrong but still justify his behavior in infuriatingly complex yet logical ways. He can make his wife feel like she’s the one responsible for his awfulness. He can talk a timid policewoman into bed because, well, he knows how to push the right mental buttons. He only takes police work to make some extra dough, but then becomes an animal. He loves the chase. He loves baiting the cops. He’s the real modern Sherlock Holmes (not that prissy high-tech new BBC series)—smarter than everyone around him, and still a huge mess. I’ve never seen a better TV show. And it’s a tough one to re-watch because of that. I like the memories I have of it. No need to go back and mess around with them by having another run.
Really, as a guy who loves novels—reading and writing them—more than any other form of entertainment, it seems to me the closest equivalent to that experience is a really good TV series. Why the hell do people think a feature film can do justice to all those fucking pages? The pacing is all wrong. The characters are never deep enough. The story has to be hacked to the lowest common denominator. Why not adapt more novels as TV series and leave the features to screenwriters who understand that they’re kind of going for the feel of a short story or novella instead? At least, that’s my two cents.
Other shows you won’t believe I like: Kitchen Nightmares, Hoarders, Work of Art (The Search for the Next Great Artist), Good Morning America, Top Gear (UK), Teen Mom, Judge Judy...
Don’t judge me.