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by Dennis Polifroni

We all know the two of them by now.  Fox Mulder, Special Agent and care-taker of the the F.B.I.’s most embarrassing and confusing case studies, “THE X-FILES”, is a believer in everything that goes bump in the night and all those things that raised fingers pointed at the sky supposedly represent.  His sister was an abductee of a UFO kidnapping and he’s never been the same since he witnessed it happen.  He believes that “the truth is out there” somewhere and his fascination isn’t limited only to the possibility of flying saucers.

Dana Scully, on the other hand, is the skeptic.  A devout Catholic whose work as a medical doctor and psychologist have put her in the upper epsilon of agents trying to make a big splash in the bureau, she needs hard proof, on everything, to even remotely bend towards Mulders way of thinking.  She doesn’t believe in UFO’s, ghosts, little green men or Bigfoot, and that skepticism is tested in every episode of the series.

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by Dennis Polifroni

It all comes down to preference.

When a tried and true property takes on an over-haul, it’s natural for purists to bitch and buck at anything that doesn’t follow the rules by the book.  Sherlock Holmes purists are no different from those that have seen new incarnations of old favorites.  Sometimes the overhaul works (as with Barry Sonnenfeld’s ADDAM’S FAMILY movies) and some just never seem to catch on (as with the current guises this new slew of films has decided to paint onto Batman and Superman).  Yet, even with the naysayers ranting, there also comes a slew of viewers that jump at the offerings of something new, something different.

Whatever the case may be, there will be naysayers against Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat’s updated take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved sleuth, and the world he created around him.   Gone are the horses and carriages that toted the super detective and his assistant, the ever watchful Dr. Watson (a wonderfully toned down turn by comedian, Martin Freeman), from crime-scene to crime-scene.  Gone is the double billed hat that illustrations of Holmes, and every filmic incarnation of the character since, has seen him sport.  The time and place is no longer Victorian-age England.  The time and place is England, NOW! (more…)

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by Dennis Polifroni

“When you enter the darkness…  The darkness enters you…”

I think what separates TRUE DETECTIVE from all the other crime shows and movies of the past two and three decades can all be boiled down to one word: PERCEPTIONS.

Perceptions are what we take into a thing when we feel that thing will follow a tried and true blueprint of design.  We think the characters and plot points will resemble those shows and films of the past.

Let’s be honest, though.

When TRUE DETECTIVE premiered, didn’t most of us think that HBO, normally a haven for artistic creativity and freedom on the tube, was readying to give us another clone of NYPD BLUE and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT?  We pretty much feared that the show was only using superstar names, like Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughy, as a ruse to make us tune in and provide enough, in the way of ratings, to fuel a simple clone of TV past as a lure for even more subscribers to the pay-TV outlet.

What we got, as we know now, was something wholly different and, most of the time, utterly brilliant in both design and in its ability to slap preconceived perceptions in the face.

The backdrop of the series is the hot and sticky backwoods regions of Louisiana.  Our perceptions of the area, as illustrated in contemporary crime noir films like Alan Parker’s ANGEL HEART, are that of seedy hotels and taverns where conservatism meets superstition and those not from the area are warned to make sure they keep enough gas in there tank as a breakdown on the road would surely result your disappearance at the hands of VooDoo practitioners and weirdos like the ones found in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.  To an extent, TRUE DETECTIVE does have all of these pinnings but, it’s the preconceived PERCEPTION we have to immediately add stigmas that often go with these things, and then not find them, that differentiates TRUE DETECTIVE from every other crime show and movie of the recent past, and inspires every crime show and movie that followed. (more…)

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