November 5: the beast within or the hack without?

When you watch TV or film cops in American shows you are struck by the amount of time the hero spends dealing with internal issues, dealing with his partner or dealing with his commanding officer or dealing with the D.A. or the FBI or quarelling over whose jurisdiction this is (jurisdiction is a big word with cops). There is very little time spent on the actual baddies, which is tiresome because baddies are the most fun. It has got to the point now that when I hear the word jurisdiction, or D.A., or assistant D.A., or subpoena, I just switch over. Who would want to know about the inner workings of my office? Brad Pitt having to deal with a trail of paperwork in the world of waste disposal, squabbeling with the sandwich man about a mayo-free ham and pickle; trying to understand the IT man’s explanation of the latest computer malfunction. Riveting stuff. And yet the cop show producers seem to think it’s what we want.

Either this shows the deep wound in the American psyche: the real enemy is the enemy within. Or (more likely) it shows the paucity of imagination of the movie-makers who go with the ready-make soap of everyday life rather than the invention of a new plot from a new exterior menace. New stories are hard to come by. Is it the beast within or just a case of a talentless hack in the script department?



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