Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV: I Love Six Feet Under and Intelligence!


Today, I'd like to talk about two TV series that I've taken the time to discover during this summer. First of all, since two fellow bloggers (Ivy and Blake) have talked about Six Feet Under, I naturally said to myself: why not give it a chance? Secondly, as for Intelligence, I was attracted to it, because I'm a fan of crime/espionage dramas.


Six Feet Under, season 1
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that HBO has every right to have this slogan: "It's not television. It's HBO." Now that I've gone through the first season of this immortal TV series, I became a fan of it and I strongly recommend it if a little bit of humour and drama is what you need to be elated.

Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins), the director of the funeral home Fisher and Sons, lost his life in a car accident. Thus, it's now up to his antagonizing sons, David (Michael C. Hall) and Nate (Peter Krause), to take over the family's business. Besides, as time goes by, the Fishers have to deal with their personal issues. Will Nate, who has worked in Seattle since a long time, ever be interested in becoming a funeral director? How will David deal with his homosexuality? Now that her husband is dead, how is Ruth (Frances Conroy), the widow, going to deal with her relation with men? As for Claire (Lauren Ambrose), Nate's and David's younger sister, how will she cope with school and the family? Finally, as for professional issues, the Fishers strive to keep their funeral home from being taken over by an aggressive corporate group.


One word to describe this TV series: wow! It's amazing to see that the scriptwriters manage to wedge so many issues affecting the characters in the script. Besides, this contributes to make Six Feet Under as addicting as 24 minus the amazing (or lame if you're talking about 24's sixth season) plot twists. In a nutshell, the script is so well written that you always want to know how the Fishers try 1) to come to terms with the old man's death and 2) to deal with other problems. This goes without saying that missing an episode is one of the biggest cultural crimes. By the way, did I mention that the TV series is also a power house when it comes to the cast's performance?


***


Intelligence, season 1
This TV series was described as one that stands alongside The Wire and The Sopranos. I haven't seen these two TV series, but with that in mind, I was prepared to like Intelligence. Well, although it's produced by an over-the-air TV network (CBC), Intelligence is a proof that traditional TV networks can be taken seriously when compared to cable networks.


In Vancouver, a briefcase containing important files is stolen from the Organized Crime Unit (OCU) by a man working for Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey), a drug trafficker/father. Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), the OCU's ambitious head, wants those files back, but Reardon names his price: he'll give them back if he gets from Mary an immunity from prosecution and the right to work as Mary's informant. As Mary and Jimmy form an uneasy alliance, they both have to deal with their own personal problems. Mary fears the Canadian intelligence community (some members want her head) because she knows her deal is impeding the arrest of Jimmy. As for him, he has to deal with biker gangs who don't tolerate any competition when it comes to drug smuggling or installing illegal ABMs used for money laundering.


Obviously, Intelligence is a TV series that is hard to appreciate because of its slow pace. This is not due to the clumsiness of Chris Haddock, the show's creator. In fact, Intelligence is not your usual fast-paced crime/espionage drama filled with action in every single episode. This means that the pace is deliberately slow in order to document (in a fictitious way, naturally) through the dialogues 1) the complex world of intelligence gathering in Canada; and 2) the rivalry between criminal gangs. Besides, even if the cast's performance might look cold (most of the time) on the surface, we sometimes feel - thanks to the brilliant acting - that the characters fear losing control over the situation they're in. Finally, while the show also deals with American interference in Canadian judicial affairs, the Canadian authorities are not depicted in a glorious way, just to let you know.


***

Other news

How do I finish this post? By talking about TV again, naturally! For those who loyally follow the TV series Being Erica (trailer), the first season will be released on DVD on September 22, 2009 according to Diane over at TV, eh?. Although the show didn't score big in terms of ratings, I'm glad that CBC ordered a second season, which will debut this upcoming fall. In the meantime, if you live in Canada, you can watch the first season's full episodes on the show's official web site.


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