Mourning THIEF

THIEF hasn’t been canceled yet, but judging by the way star Andre Braugher and everyone involved with the show is already mourning its passing today in the LA Times, the ax will be falling soon.

As soon as he glimpsed the ratings for the second episode early last
month, "I entered the grieving process," Braugher said by phone last

Despite huge promotion, only 2.5 million viewers showed up for the premiere — we’re talking STRONG MEDICINE numbers — and barely half of those viewers showed up for episode two.

What happened? Braugher and others close to the show have their own
speculations. (Was there not enough action? Were Nick’s problems with
Chinese mobsters adequately explained? Were viewers turned off by
Nick’s ambivalent morality?)

[…]"Essentially, [viewers] didn’t like it," Braugher theorized. "The
audience saw something on pilot night that let them know they didn’t
want to come back."

Count me among them. I’ve only seen two episodes — and although I’ve recorded the others, I haven’t had any desire to catch them yet. If I don’t hurry, my Tivo is going to eat them soon.

There’s no question that Braugher is a compelling performer, but the serialized storyline is so ridiculously over-the-top that everyone comes across as annoyingly intense cartoon characters.  But what probably hurt the show the most was its complete lack of humor. A few laughs, or simply a smile or two, would have helped humanize the characters and make some of the more ridiculous plot moves easier to accept. One of the things that makes THE SOPRANOS so appealing is that it’s both a violent drama and a laugh-out-loud comedy. The same is true of NIP/TUCK.

The bottom line was that THIEF just wasn’t any fun. The same could be said of Braugher. I admire his intensity but it gets tiring and monotonous after awhile.  At least on HOMICIDE his humorlessness was off-set by an ensemble cast of eccentric characters (the rest of the characters in THIEF either blend into the scenery or are totally unsympathetic).  Braugher’s character  wasn’t someone you wanted to invite into your home every week. Or even spend an hour with.

Tony Soprano and Dr. Christian Troy may be sociopaths, but at least they are entertaining ones.

The Jareo Hits the Fan

The Lori Jareo flap has begun drawing the attention of the mainstream print media after raging in the blogosphere for the last week. As the Dayton Beach News reported:

After it was pointed out by writer Lee Goldberg and spread around by a
growing network of bloggers it became very obvious that Ms. Jareo’s
circle of friends, family, and acquaintances was about to include the
entire LucasArts legal team. Reading the assorted posts this weekend
was like standing amongst a crowd of people watching a swimmer
cheerfully strap on raw meat before diving into the shark tank.

The newspaper notes that her biggest critics were fanfiction writers themselves, who worried about the implications for them of her stupidity.

When you know that what you
are doing is, at best, tolerated by creators you respect who can make
you stop at any time, you get very annoyed when someone walks up and
slaps them. All it would take is for enough authors to start yelling:
"That’s it, everyone out of the pool," and the online world of fan
fiction would fade away.

The more likely result, as Publisher’s Weekly notes, will be more intense scrutiny of POD titles by online booksellers. So far, only one person has come out publicly in support of Jareo, NPR commentator Lev Grossman, who dubbed her an "unsung hero" of the wired universe.  Jareo has remained silent.

Mr. Monk and the Nice Reviews

My week is off to a great start with two nice reviews for MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE.  The current issue of MYSTERY SCENE notes:

The first in a new series is always an occasion to celebrate, but Lee Goldberg’s TV adaptations double your pleasure. No longer restricted by time, budget and pace of TV production, this terrific TV writer’s latest, MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE brings everyone’s favorite OCD detective to print. Hooray!

And Cynthia Lea Clarke at FUTURES MYSTERY MAGAZINE says, in part:

If you are a fan of the television show MONK, you’ll love this book. If you never had the pleasure of watching a MONK episode, then you should read this book… (Goldberg’s) words are witty, charming and so Monk. Superb! It’s a fast, easy, delightful escape. An excellent read!

My thanks to both Mystery Scene and Futures for their flattering comments.